Newsdesk – September 1

Greta approaching NYC – photo posted by Greta Thunberg on her Twitter account

Greta Thunberg’s Slow Boat to New York.  Last year, Thunberg began striking by skipping school every Friday to protest government inaction on climate change, inspiring kids around the world to do the same. On August 14th, she departed from Plymouth, England, on the Malizia II, an emission-free sailboat, to attend a climate summit at the United Nations on September 23rd. (She avoids airplanes, which are among the worst sources of carbon emissions.) The boat took more than an hour to make its way to the port, in what felt like a very nineteenth-century setting for a very twenty-first-century problem. A crowd of young eco-warriors and international media greeted the teen-age climate activist. “We’re here to give her a warm welcome to our city,” Spencer Berg, a freckled sixteen-year-old, said. He wore a pin that read “There is no planet B.” Berg, who has organized strikes at his school, credited Thunberg with changing his outlook: he used to be “really mad and depressed about climate change”; now he was “mad and active about climate change.”When it was her turn, Thunberg spoke in the precise and measured language for which she has become known. “It is insane that a sixteen-year-old had to cross the Atlantic Ocean to make a stand,” she observed. She reported that not once had she been seasick. She gave words of encouragement to her fellow-activists. She said that after participating in the U.N. strikes she will travel by “trains, buses, and probably even sailing” to Chile, for another U.N. climate conference. A reporter asked what she would miss about being on the water. “To not have contact with anyone, and to just not have anything you have to do and to just literally sit for hours and stare at the ocean, and see the beauty of it” – The New Yorker

  • To fight climate change, one winemaker wants to think about more than the grapes – The Washington Post
  • Climate change: Big lifestyle changes ‘needed to cut emissions’ – BBC
  • Pope urges politicians to take ‘drastic measures’ on climate change – Reuters
  • Boiling point: in Tucson, not everyone is equal in the face of heat – The Guardian
  • Cities urge federal leaders to wade into wastewater debate – CBC
  • Could Rights of Nature Laws Help Save Endangered Orcas? – Yes Magazine
  • Shambala: The festival that banned cow’s milk, meat and glitter – BBC
Photo Credit: Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Beyond Meat uses climate change to market fake meat substitutes. Scientists are cautious.  Beyond Meat and its privately held rival, Impossible Foods have recently grabbed headlines and fast-food deals for their plant-based burgers that imitate the taste of beef.  While companies producing imitation meat boast of the environmental benefits, some researchers point out that for people wanting to substantially lower their carbon footprint, having unprocessed plant-based diets instead of eating imitation products is healthier and better for the planet.  While Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods processed products have about half the carbon footprint than chicken does, they also have 5 times more of a footprint than a bean patty.  Both companies use different sources of proteins to create their meatless meats. Beyond primarily works with protein from peas, while Impossible uses genetically modified soy. ” It makes sense to develop alternatives to beef, because we have to change our eating habits to more plant-based diets if we want to limit global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius,” said Marco Springmann, a senior environmental researcher at the University of Oxford.  In fact, recent studies show that  16% of U.S. consumers avoid animal products for environmental reasons.  There’s a large enough group of millennials where it’s worth it to them to pay for more for their food. They take into account the values of the company, whether it’s best for the environment. “If Beyond’s products help people switch from normal beef to a replacement, it’s not so bad. But it should not be the end goal,” Springmann said. “The carbon footprint of these processed plant-based products falls in between chicken and beef” – CNBC

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Seaweed Farming Could Help To Mitigate Climate Change. Seaweed, perceived by some as little more than marine debris on the beach, could indeed be a new player in the effort to mitigate climate change. According to Halley Froehlich, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, “It’s not a silver bullet, nor an industry that exists yet. But it has huge potential.” Seaweed aquaculture could indeed be a powerful new way to sequester carbon. The process would involve cultivating seaweed and harvesting it for the purpose of sinking the algae in the deeper ocean, where the carbon stored in its tissues would remain ‘buried.’ In fact, there is substantial suitable area — roughly 48 million square kilometers — in which seaweed could be farmed, and a relatively small proportion (0.001%) would be enough to render the entire global aquaculture industry carbon-neutral, according to the study. However, the benefits don’t scale proportionally against the much higher greenhouse gas-emitting global agricultural sector, in part due to cost and growth constraints and Farming seaweed alone won’t balance emissions from global food production, she added but could be a useful new tool in reducing greenhouse gas.  The seaweed farming could have the most potential when it comes to achieving local and regional carbon neutrality goals, the study found. California is particularly well-primed to reap the mitigating benefits of seaweed aquaculture, given the state’s strong climate action policy and its long, nutrient-rich coast. And to make it a real option in the United States, the policy would need to enable and accelerate seaweed cultivation for carbon sequestration, farmers would need to respond by dramatically scaling up production and the carbon market would need to expand to offer higher prices.  In the meantime, research will continue to investigate seaweed cultivation’s potential for mitigating climate change – Technology Networks