Week 14: Environmental News

April 15, 2020

Climate Change: Green Energy Plant Threat to Wilderness Areas https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52023881

hydro
Hydro facilities in Africa and Asia can significantly alter the landscape

The article I read this week is titled “Climate Change: Green Energy Plant Threat to Wilderness Areas” by Matt McGrath. This article discusses how green energy methods pose an increasing threat to crucial environmental conservation areas, according to sustainable energy researchers. Green energy techniques include wind, solar, and hydro power, all increasing in use to reduce the harmful effects of other energy sources on the environment. Researchers found that over 2,200 green energy plants have been built within the remaining wilderness areas of the earth. In addition, 17% of renewable facilities are currently located in protected areas. This is an increasing issue as over 900 plants are currently being developed in areas of significant biodiversity as well.

wind

With the amount of renewable energy facilities having tripled over the last 20 years, these numbers could pose a significant threat to the earth’s remaining wilderness habitats.

These efforts destroy large areas of key habitats, making them incompatible with biodiversity conservation goals and efforts. Researchers stress that while these green energy methods are beneficial, more planning and attention to permission for these projects needs to go into the establishment of them so that they are not threatening species in these protected areas.

I found this article interesting because these energy sources seem to be completely beneficial for our environment and sustainability efforts, but that is not always the case. More attention needs to go into these green movements and how they affect the surrounding environment.


Week 13 news

April 8, 2020

Cyanobacterial Bio-fertilizer: Nature’s Own Solution for Improved Soil Fertility

Excess fertilizer runoff into bodies of water has become an increasing problem over the years. This runoff increases the amount of available nutrients in the water allowing dangerous algae blooms to form more frequently and in greater numbers. To help combat this, a natural fertilizer that is already found in the soil can be used, cyanobacteria.

This bacteria can be grown in tanks and spread through a drip irrigation system so it reaches the plants without any excess. The additional benefit is that this bacteria can be cultured from almost any soil, so it will be acclimated to the environment in which it will be used.

If this practice were to be more widely adopted, the runoff that causes algae blooms will decrease and the health of the body of water and the other life in it will increase.


Week 13 reading

April 8, 2020

Pg 19 “Denialism is pretty predictable and consistent in form no matter what the topic.”

Pg 40 “The combined outcome makes us feel helpless since – even if we stopped emitting now, they say – its delayed effects (including our grandfathers’ coal burning from last century) will continue to trouble us in decades and even centuries ahead.”

Pg 72 “Hence, in the minds of many, climate science is now strongly associated with “liberal views” and “the left-wing media.” ….. “Now, if you know someone’s view on gun control, abortion, and same-sex marriage, you can pretty well predict their views on whether global warming is real and human-made. The issue has become polarized.”

Pg 99 “From a life-cycle point of view, heavier Tesla models may not be as efficient as smaller hybrids, public transport, or using an e-bike, but it is beyond dispute that Tesla’s launch has started to change the social norms around electric cars.”

Pg 113 “The report released in 2014 by Risky Business argues that investors have largely been kept in the dark about how climate change will impact specific industries or specific regions. It explains that acting now could spare American businesses and the American economy from the risk of becoming extremely vulnerable to future losses.”

Pg 147 “Stories of rewilding counter the laming apocalypse tailed by reinforcing that we’re not going to reverse her damage, but nature can, it will only reduce our interference with it and let it do its work. It’s a team really: the wilderness and us. And I’m all for teaming up with nature, as humbly and intelligently as we humans are capable of.”

Rewilding has been gaining some notoriety in the climate change sphere as of late, changing human disturbed lands, namely farmland, back into its natural state has been shown to increase carbon capture by a significant amount.

Pg 225 “Stronger winds are blowing now and not only the Hurricanes in Hadley cells. The disruptions of weather and air also driving societal, cultural, and inner shifts. Some long for cabin outside at all, beyond the Hills in an undisturbed nature.”


Week 13: Reading Notes, Comments

April 8, 2020

What We Think About- Notes, Comments

P4. “…the level of concern among both laypeople and politicians has actually been decreasing-especially in many wealthy countries- over the last two decades.” Even with improving technology and data presented in support of anthropogenic climate change, people are choosing to ignore it.

P28. “This view may seem to imply that genetic forces will continue to drive humans farther and farther down the road to destroying humans… Humans are incapable of caring for the more-than-human, and rarely for more than our own little in-group. Our competitive old mind will drive us to collapse, to a destroyed world… until mere, meager survival of the self and offspring becomes the only rule.”

P29. “It’s about ‘them’, not ‘us’.” This is the mentality that has contributed to the extent of the climate crisis.

P45. “People are prone to exaggerate risks that are spectacular, new and unfamiliar, personified, beyond personal control, much discussed, immediate, and sudden as well as those that affect them personally and are imposed by a clear enemy.”

P69. “When provocative information comes our way, we employ self-justification to keep our attitudes aligned within ourselves and with significant others.” An extreme form of “peer pressure”?

P90. “A solution works so much better when people want it, like it, love it rather than when they implement it by duty, guilt, rule, or fear of punishment. If we define ourselves in a fight against the others, and a desperate one, those others will start fighting back desperately.”

P111. “Fear and loss don’t sell. Uncertainty kills determination. Let’s therefore try shifting toward frames that support the issue rather than backfire. New frames are now emerging that are more conducive to action. We can begin to talk about climate in terms of insurance, health, security, preparedness, and, most of all, opportunity.”

P141. “When someone manages to describe a society that a strong majority of us long to live in, then things can start to happen, and happen fast. But if we have no idea of where we’re heading, we certainly will end up somewhere else.”

P167. “Yet the air isn’t just what we breathe into our lungs, briefly visiting before we exhale it. It is also our primary link to the world. It fully envelopes us, from the soles of our feet to each hair on the top of our head, from the day we draw our first breath to beyond our death. It holds us gently, with a benign embrace without which our bodies would fall apart. To be born is to enter the air. To be is to be in the air.”

P190. “Today, however, it is not just about human afflictions. Much of nature is sick, too.”

P197. “Our traditional Western individualistic ideas have made it difficult to incorporate aspects of family and nature into the very notion of self. But new ways to express this intuition of a more intimate relationship are being shaped through concepts of an ecological Self or an ecological identity.”

P215. “The shift to realizing that we’re deeply embedded in this living air is the deep reframing for climate communication. I hardly see anyone in today’s climate discourse speaking of air as something enchanted, beautiful, and sacred- except maybe on the fringes of society, often dismissed as crazies. But unless we bring in this ancient aspect, the awe for the air, we’ll lose something central and powerful- a sense of the sacred that can be critical for motivating us in the highly needed transformation, that makes climate into something very near, no longer just distant, abstract, technical, chemical.”


Week 13: Environmental News

April 7, 2020

Edible Insects Set to be Approved by EU in ‘Breakthrough Moment’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/03/insects-likely-approved-human-consumption-by-eu

Dried mealworms on a slice of bread

The article I read this week is titled “Edible Insects Set to be Approved by the EU in ‘Breakthrough Moment’” by Daniel Boffey. This article discusses the upcoming introduction of insects into the European food industry. For the first time ever, the EU’s European Food Safety Authority is expected by the insect industry to endorse insects such as mealworms, locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers as being for sale across Europe for human consumption. Their introduction to the food industry is expected in the coming few weeks according to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed.

According to potential players in the insect food industry, these insects can provide high-protein delicacies that would be sold EU-wide. These players are also known to be in the process of building bigger factories to upscale their companies for mass scale production.

The goal behind these newly implemented legislation is to help combat one of the biggest challenges on the planet: scarce resources to provide food for people worldwide.

I thought this article was really interesting as it examines how some countries are proposing a sufficient source of food to assist with the most significant issue in the world: hunger. While it may not sound appetizing to some, myself included, insects offer many health benefits including a large source of protein and could be a success in EU. I am interested to see how these changes are accepted by European countries.


Environmental News: Week 3 after pandemic

April 7, 2020

The article I read this week, Climate Change: UK forests ‘could do more harm than good’, by Roger Harrabin, is about how this whole we should plant so many trees everywhere thing should be taken with a grain of salt. The article’s biggest worry was about planting trees in peat bogs. Peat bogs themselves store a ton of carbon. Planting trees there would dry out the bog and cause the area to absorb less carbon, even with the trees. Trees should also not be planted in beef producing areas because then that area couldn’t be used for cows anymore and the meat would have to be imported from places with higher carbon footprints, for example, around the amazon, where farmers clearcut the rainforest to have space for their beef herds.

Harrabin also notes that people don’t take the importance of soil in the ecosystem and it’s ability to store carbon seriously enough. If carbon is to be reduced farmers will have to stop planting in boggy areas, a controversial decision.

I liked this article because tree location is something important to consider that I hadn’t thought of in this context before. I am also curious to see if the UK will really go through with their ambitious tree planting goal of planting 11 million trees. It will mean making some hard decisions like telling those farmers for example, that they can’t use that peat bog land to farm anymore.

url: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52200045?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/science_and_environment&link_location=live-reporting-story


Essay from Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP

April 7, 2020

A really phenomenal essay from Inger Anderson titled “COVID-19 is not a silver lining for the climate, says UN Environment chief” discusses some of the recent points mentioned by some environmentalists and news anchors alike: that COVID-19 has been a silver lining in reduced air quality and improved emissions. In reality, these are seriously short term reductions and came at a serious cost to the world. There are environmental negatives too: think of all of the single use medical and hazardous waste being generated around the world to fight this. The aim should be to emerge from this and rebuild–or restart in a better, greener way. https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061082


What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

April 7, 2020

“What we see at this point is that around half of the population in rich countries chooses to side with the tiny sliver of 2 percent rather than the 98 for some reason or other.” (Page XV)

“Even if these self-proclaimed skeptics are many and everywhere (typically 30 to 60 percent of wealthy Western countries), they still fancy a story about themselves as victims of suppression.” (Page 23)

“Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist, wrote a memorandum urging fellow Republicans to exploit the weakness of climate change: “While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change sounds a more controllable and less emotional challenge.” (Page 48).

“The anti-climate movement has been successful in triggering each of these barriers in its battle against climate science. But inadvertently, climate communicators have activated them, too, for instance by conveying climate facts through abstract graphs and long time lines, using framing that backfires, not linking risks to opportunities for action, relying on bad storytelling, and provoking self-protective and cultural cognition by unnecessary polarization.” (Page 83).

“If we are prepared to pay the equivalent of 3.5 percent of total annual output to guard against fire and theft, then why not pay even a 1 percent premium to protect against catastrophic climate disruptions?” (Page 112).

“There is no shortage of ingenious solutions for green growth that can be translated into inspiring stories. However, there does seem to be a shortage of captivating storytellers who spread inspiration as well as vivid and attractive images of a future in which we live with more decent jobs, greater well-being, and lower emissions alongside recovering forests. If it cannot be imagined and well told, then people will surely not work for it to happen.” (Page 135).

“Far thinner than the skin of an apple compared with its diameter. Underneath it lies ocean and rock, and upon the rock, likes a wee bit of soil and greenery. Yet inside this unsettled, fluctuating film, between a rock and a cold place, all of life is protected and nourished.” (Page 166).

“Our traditional Western individualistic ideas have made it difficult to incorporate aspects of family and nature into the very notion of self. But new ways to express this intuition of a more intimate relationship are being shaped through concepts of an ecological Self or an ecological identity.” (page 197)

“If we believe that other people don’t care about this distant climate issue, if it is framed as cost and sacrifice, if it’s expensive and inconvenient to act green, if we think inside the story of economic efficiency and growth, and, finally, if all signals show that we’re heading toward hell, then many of us will shut off our minds and act short term. But at the same time, if we believe that others really do care and the climate is framed as insurance and health for ourselves, it’s easy and simple to act green, and we share stories of opportunities for jobs and the good life. And finally, if we can see that society is making steps in the right direction-if some or all of these solutions are shaping the situations around us-then most humans will act for the long term.” (Page 220).


Week 12 News

April 1, 2020

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/really-amazing-scientists-show-that-fish-migrate-through-the-deep-oceans

It has been theorized that deep sea fish migrate, but it has never been confirmed. Now, after 7.5 years of study, it has been confirmed that they do. While it is not known why they do, since they are not directly influenced by seasons and sunlight like species on land and in the upper levels of the ocean, it is thought that they follow a trail of dead organisms that sink down from the surface. If this is the case, climate change could have some serious impacts on the amount of food that these deep sea creatures get.


Week 12: Placing Animals

April 1, 2020

pg xi – “I suspect that your list might also be similar – give or take a few found animal parts. Your list might include horses and snakes, or fishing gear and guns, or perhaps a fur coat or a freezer full of chicken or a trash can full of hamburger wrappers.”

pg 5 – “As a key result of this shift, animals are now being seen in a way they have never been within the academy: they are no longer only subjects to be studied and categorized, but their experiential lives now count as do our experiences with them.”

pg 38 – “Two features distinguish the “new” animal geography from the first two waves: (1) an expanded notion of human-animal relations beyond the domesticated livestock to include all locations of human-animal encounters and (2) attempts to bring in the animals themselves as subjects of their own lives – whether part of ours or not – instead of just as objects of human control”

pg 51 – “Fish, as pets, have also become works of are and their tanks or outdoor pond areas have been designed with aesthetics and proper viewing in mind.”

Aquascaped aquarium

pg 85 – “The origin of this connection goes back to 1828 when opponents of of presidential candidate Andrew Jackson labeled him a jackass, and a cartoon of him riding one appeared in 1837, but not until cartoonist Thomas Nast revived the donkey-Democrat connection in an 1870 cartoon did the association stick.”

pg 141 – “For the passenger pigeons of the US, their numbers were kept in check prior to the arrival of Europeans by their competition with Native Americans for tree nuts.

pg 172 – “The land in question had been used since WWII as a bombing range, and unexploded live ordinance is still strewn across the landscape. Instead of paying to keep it as a military space, the military decided to turn it over for conservation land.