The Top 25 Happy Eco News for 2021

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The Top 25 Happy Eco News for 2021

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This week, we will be reviewing the Top 25 news stories from 2021. These are the stories that resonated the most with you, the audience. The Top 25 were identified simply by the number of page views for each story for the calendar year of 2021. We also have a guest post by author Melina Sempill Watts who reviews the book “Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” by Dr. Suzanne Simard and an end of the and an end of the year post by founder Grant Brown. Additionally, we have Grant’s and content manager Jamie D’Souza’s top 10 stories for 2021.

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Exploring “Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” by Dr. Suzanne Simard

Book Review by: Melina Sempill Watts

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The World Wood Web is the most enchanting idea to come out of science in our lifetime: the concept is that trees are in a symbiotic relationship with vast underground lattices of numerous species of fungi that function as a network interconnecting trees, both with trees of the same species and with trees of adjacent species, via their roots, exchanging both nutrients and water, while communicating on levels that we can barely begin to understand.  The progenitor of this concept is Canadian scientist Dr. Suzanne Simard, whose bold memoir shares how she came to consider, research, and share this stunning theory…[read more].

Happy Birthday to Happy Eco News – Gratitude for Four Years

By Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News

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January 1, 2022, marks the fourth birthday of Happy Eco News!

Its humble beginnings were that of one person simply reposting positive environmental news on social media. After 4 years we are still small, with only two people – Grant and Jamie – but together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts. In that time we have published more than 7,300 articles and had more than 70 talented individuals write guest blogs about the important issues and projects that they are working on. These are the good people doing good things that we want to help, and there are many more like them, waiting to be discovered…[read more].

Grant’s Favourite Top 10 Happy Eco News Stories of 2021

By Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News

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This year in addition to the Top 25 Happy Eco News stories (as determined by what you the audience reads) we are listing our own personal favourites.

This year for me it is all about the idea of the regeneration of natural systems and using nature to help undo some of the damage of the last 100 years or so. The UN agrees, and this year at COP26, a significant focus was on promoting and protecting biodiversity and in particular, protecting the world’s forests…[read more].

Jamie’s Favourite Top 10 Happy Eco News Stories of 2021

By Jamie D’Souza, Content Manager, Happy Eco News.

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This year in addition to the Top 25 Happy Eco News stories (as determined by what you the audience reads) we are listing our own personal favourites.

This year for me it was about reducing waste, finding sustainable ways to track and dispose of clothing, innovative ways to grow crops, and the power of nature to help restore ecosystems…[read more].

The Happy Eco News Top 25 for 2021 

  1. Biden’s Energy Department Revives Loan Program to Boost Clean Technology

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  • As part of its clean-energy agenda, the Biden administration is reviving an energy department program to incentivize clean energy innovation.
  • The loan program has helped the United States launch the first utility-scale wind and solar farms in an effort to create green jobs.
  • 40 billion dollars will be loaned out for a variety of clean energy projects which include wind, solar, and hydropower, advanced vehicles, geothermal and nuclear energy.
  • President Joe Biden has also pledged that 40% of the benefits from these clean-energy investments will go to disadvantaged communities… [read more].
  1. The Race to Net-zero is on. This is How We Can Cross the Finish Line

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  • As the world moves towards a net-zero future for land use, nature will play an important role in achieving this goal as it has the capacity to deliver one-third of cost-effective solutions to climate change.
  • Moreover, coordination among policymakers, businesses, investors, and citizens is required to make this transformation.
  • Companies are expected to include the full value of ecosystem services from forests and other natural landscapes into all of their business decisions by 2025.
  • Businesses are also expected to end loss to primary forests and other natural ecosystems to reverse all of nature’s losses by 2030… [read more].
  1. Lifestyle Changes to Save Our Oceans from a Catastrophic Fate

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  • Human activity is threatening our oceans and the biodiversity that depends on it. But there are many ways we can minimize our impacts.
  • These include: making sustainable food choices, saying no to plastic, taking care of beaches, lowering your energy consumption, avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers, and more.
  • It is also important to continue educating yourself and hold governments and corporations accountable… [read more].
  1. Can Farming Seaweed Put the Brakes on Climate Change?

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  • Studies have shown that wild seaweed sequesters 173 million tons of carbon annually and start-ups like Running Tide are coming up with ways to farm seaweed and increase this number even more.
  • The startup indicated that they would grow kelp and then drop them at least 1000 meters down towards the ocean floor where they can decay and capture carbon.
  • Researchers have found that the best way to sink the help would be to use biodegradable buoys… [read more].
  1. A Win for the Oceans: International Sustainability Agreement

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  • The High-Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy was created to find ways to transform how nations use the oceans and how the oceans should be sustainably managed.
  • Over 250 experts worked to provide the latest science and identify sustainable ocean management practices.
  • The decision reached was each nation that participated would commit to sustainably manage 100% of the oceans under their national jurisdictions by 2025 and they will set aside 30% of the seas as marine protected areas by 2030… [read more].
  1. How to Erase 100 Years of Carbon Emissions? Plant Trees- Lots of Them

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  • A study was conducted to determine how many trees the Earth could support.
  • The first study of its kind found that increasing the area the size of the United States could be restored as forests with the potential of erasing nearly 100 years of carbon emissions.
  • The results also indicated that large-scale CO2 removal through reforestation is imperative to remove emissions.
  • The best place for reforestation is in Africa as the continent provides the best carbon, water, wildlife and is the least costly and risky place to reforest… [read more].
  1. 5 Places Where Ecosystems are Being Restored Around the World

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  • While global warming and plastic pollution is damaging ecosystems, there are many places in the world where ecosystems are being restored by thousands of organizations and millions of people.
  • Five types of ecosystems being restored include:
  • Farmlands (through agroforestry, silvopasture, and low-carbon agriculture)
  • Forests (through tree planting and tree regeneration)
  • Grasslands (through livestock and soil management)
  • Peatlands (through rewetting the lands)
  • Oceans and Coasts (through planting mangroves and increased protection)… [read more].
  1. Conservation Actions see Iberian Lynx Claw Back from Brink of Extinction

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  • Almost 20 years ago, the Iberian lynx was extinct in Portugal and less than 100 animals were seen in Spain.
  • Due to conservation efforts (including protecting habitats and rewilding), there are an estimated 1000 lynx in the wild – about 154 in Portugal’s Guadiana Valley.
  • The Iberian lynx has gone from critically endangered on the IUCN Red List as a result… [read more].
  1. British Airways Operates Passenger Flight Using Recycled Cooking Oil

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  • Airline company, British Airlines, operated its first passenger flight that was run completely on sustainable aviation fuel.
  • The combination of fuel, which was made in part of recycled cooking oil, in addition to optimal flight paths, electrified airport vehicles has drastically reduced their emissions.
  • British Airways also offset the CO2 emissions from the plane which makes this flight completely carbon neutral… [read more].
  1. UN Launches Program to Reverse “Triple Environmental Emergency”

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  • The United Nations launched the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration program which is designed to restore ecosystems by preventing, halting, and reversing degradation.
  • The project is expected to run until 2030 under the co-leadership from the UN Environmental Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • Together, these two organizations will work towards re-imagining, recreating, and restoring ecosystems… [read more].
  1. 5 Sustainable Packaging Developments to Watch in 2021

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  • 2021 was the year for new sustainable packaging and there are five themes companies explored during the year. They include:
  • Looking for new opportunities to produce sustainable packaging
  • Focusing on reusing materials
  • Developing compostable packaging
  • Extending producer responsibility
  • Finding ways to eliminate toxins from food packaging… [read more].
  1. Trials to Suck Carbon Dioxide from the Air to Start Across the UK

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  • In an effort to reduce the impacts of climate change, trials have begun across the UK to suck carbon dioxide from the air using trees, peat, rock chips, and charcoal.
  • Researchers are finding ways to do this over 100 hectares (247 acres) of land which makes it one of the biggest trials in the world.
  • Additional trials include finding the best large-scale way to use trees to capture carbon and the potential to remove carbon from willow and miscanthus grass. The crops would be burned for energy with the CO2 emissions captured and stored underground… [read more].
  1. Tiny Urban Forests Are Popping Up on Brownfield Sites Across the Globe

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  • Miyawaki forests are tiny urban forests that can have a huge impact on the environment and require very little intervention.
  • They impact local biodiversity (by providing 20 percent more species) and grow much quicker and therefore absorb more CO2 than monocultures such as timber forests.
  • Not to mention the effect urban greening can have on communities – including improving their mental health, protecting soils from erosion, reducing air pollution, and has the potential to combat urban heat island effects… [read more].
  1. New Prefab Homes Never Need To Be Connected To The Grid

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  • Manufacturer of prefabricated homes, Dvele has announced that every home they design will produce its own electricity.
  • These homes will have solar panels and a built-in battery storage system which will eliminate the need for the homeowner to connect to the electricidal grid at all.
  • The company is in a good position as more customers are looking to live off the grid in response to grid interruptions due to forest fires.
  • Moreover, California is the first state to require all new homes to have rooftop solar systems… [read more].
  1. To Combat Climate Change, Researchers Want to Pull Carbon Dioxide from the Ocean and Turn It Into Rock

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  • In an effort to tackle climate change, researchers are looking to take carbon dioxide out of the ocean and turn it into rock.
  • Oceans themselves can hold a lot of CO2, even more than in the atmosphere. And seawater has a lot of calcium and magnesium. Once combined, researchers have found that it creates a calcium carbonate rock such as limestone.
  • By factoring electricity into this equation, a new technology that will run electricity through an electrically charged mesh will be able to use electrolysis to trigger the chemical reaction needed to form these rocks.
  • This could be a huge step to potentially reversing the effects of climate change… [read more].
  1. Why Ikea just Bought an 11,000-acre Forest in Georgia

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  • Ikea bought an 11,000-acre forest in Georgia to protect it from being split up and being destroyed.
  • As part of the company’s mission to become climate positive by 2030, this investment is largely to turn to trees to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and to ensure that the forest is managed sustainably.
  • Other efforts include using renewable energy, switching to electric delivery vehicles, rethinking materials, and finding innovative ways to take back old furniture and repair it for resale… [read more].
  1. The Batteries that Could Make Fossil Fuels Obsolete

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  • Moss Landing Power Plant along the California coast used to be the state’s largest electric power station. But now as California moves towards decarbonizing its economy, the plant will become the world’s largest battery where it will store excess energy produced from wind and solar power.
  • Other battery storage projects are happening all over California which is why this state is the global leader in the effort to balance renewable energy in electric grids with utility-scale batteries.
  • The rest of the world is slowly following suit and it looks like these facilities will be the future for producing energy… [read more].
  1. Tasmania’s Already Reached Net-zero and 100% Renewables. So What’s Next?

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  • Tasmania, an island off Australia is already at net-zero greenhouse gas emissions because of its vast forests and landscapes that store more carbon than is emitted.
  • Not to mention Tasmania has also become fully powered by renewable electricity due to the state’s wind and hydroelectricity projects.
  • There is still an opportunity for the state to invest in greener, industrial precincts as well as promote eco-based tourism and sell carbon credits… [read more].
  1. Air-to-Rock: This Icelandic Facility is Turning CO2 into Stone

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  • Elon Musk announced that he would give a $100 million prize for the best technology for capturing carbon.
  • Swiss company Climeworks is teaming up with Reykjavik Energy to create carbon collectors that suck in air and filter carbon dioxide.
  • Once mixed with water, this combination is pumped 800 to 2000 meters below ground and within 2 years, it is turned into rock… [read more].
  1. Netherlands: Biodegradable Masks Turn into Flowers after Burial

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  • A graphic designer from Utrecht, the Netherlands designed face masks made with flower seeds and are 100% biodegradable.
  • The material for the mask is rice paper, the ears loops are made out of pure sheep wool, the flower seeds stick to the mask using glue that’s made out of water and potato starch.
  • Even the logo on the mask is written using sustainable ink… [read more].
  1. Heatherwick Studio Reveals Airo Car that Will Clean Pollution as it Drives

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  • A studio in London has introduced a car that will be fitted with a high-efficiency particulate air filtering which would literally vacuum the pollutants from other cars as it drives.
  • You can also rotate the seats and turn the car into a multi-functional room – as a bedroom, playroom, or dining space!
  • The car is set to go into production in 2023… [read more].
  1. Stripe Injects Cash into 6 More Carbon Removal Projects

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  • The online payment company Stripe announced that it would be investing $2.75 million to support six carbon removal projects in its second annual round of carbon removal purchases (its first one was in 2019).
  • The six new projects will look at different ways to capture and store carbon including removing it from the air, turning it into rocks and concrete, and from the ocean… [read more].
  1. How Iceland Is Regrowing Forests Destroyed by the Vikings

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  • Before the Vikings arrived in Iceland more than a millennium ago, over 40% of the island was covered in birch forests and other woodlands. Unfortunately, Vikings began chopping down and burning these forests to use the timber and to clear land for farming practices and grazing pastures.
  • The country is working towards regrowing its forests and has been planting millions of non-native spruce, pine, and larch trees and of course the traditional Iceland birch for more than 100 years.
  • In most recent years, Iceland has added as many as 3 million new trees annually… [read more].
  1. Elon Musk’s Battery Farm Has Been a Total Triumph. Here Comes the Sequel

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  • After the huge success of Elon Musk’s first battery farm – he’s teamed up with the government of Victoria, Australia to build a new and even bigger 300-megawatt battery farm.
  • The battery farm will be able to store enough power which can reduce outages for residents and help to ease the burden on businesses or facilities that are losing money during those outages (a common occurrence in Australia due to frequent and unpredictable weather patterns) … [read more].
  1. “One Tonne of Olivine Sand Can Take in up to One Tonne of CO2”

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  • An online library called Aireal showcases different materials that can capture atmospheric carbon.
  • One of the materials featured is olivine which is an abundant mineral that can absorb its own mass of CO2 when it is crushed and scattered on the ground.
  • There are also materials from paper to fiber to even food that neutralize atmospheric carbon dioxide by absorbing the carbon and releasing the oxygen… [read more].

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