Newsdesk – November 10

Narasimha Rao, a professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, specializes in energy systems analysis. Credit: Monica Jorge for The New York Times

Taking a Different Approach to Fighting Climate Change. The research of Narasimha Rao, a Yale professor, shows that reducing inequality could improve our ability to mitigate some of the worst effects on the environment. So far, the global economy has not been able to fully decouple growth in G.D.P. from growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Rao, who also has appointments at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment in India, has developed the Decent Living Energy Project, an assessment of both the energy needs in select emerging economies and the climate impacts of providing everyone in those same economies with a basic living standard. This standard would largely be defined by access to adequate nutrition, safe homes with sanitation and basic amenities such as refrigeration, mobility, education and basic health care. His research shows that reducing inequality — within countries and between them — would improve our ability to mitigate some of the worst effects of climate change, and provide for a more stable climate future. For Mr. Rao, climate change, at its most essential, is a justice issue. “In some ways, the costs of reducing climate change are overstated, the professor says. “We haven’t really explored enough the benefits to our well-being of a low-carbon lifestyle, and this is one of the biases I see in the research: that risky technologies are the only ways to address climate change. If you think about more public transit, more sustainable diets, more high-tech communities with perhaps more modest homes, these are things that can benefit people in the future, and likewise, I think in developing countries it will also require a shift away from present trends” – The New York Times

  • ‘Indian El Niño’ behind east Africa flooding – The Guardian
  • Judges overrule London police ban on Extinction Rebellion climate protests – Thomson Reuters Foundation News
  • ‘Nobody works like Jane’: hundreds join Fonda at latest climate protest – The Guardian
  • New Zealand passes bill to be carbon neutral by 2050 – The Hill
  • Can art solve climate change? – Fast  Company
  • From a Young Climate Movement Leader, a Determined Call for Action – Yale Environment 360
  • This Martini Wants to Kill Climate Change One Sip at a Time – Wired
A protein powder Solein made by Finnish company Solar Foods is seen on a plate. Photo provided by Solar Foods.

Beyond vegan burgers: next-generation protein could come from air, methane, volcanic springs. It may sound like science fiction, but in a few short years the family dinner table may be laden with steak from a printer and other proteins produced from air, methane or volcanic microbes. According to the United Nations, agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23% of total net manmade greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 to 2016, soaring to 37% when pre- and post-production activity were factored in. Livestock meanwhile are responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Enter Solar Foods, a Finnish company is working on an edible protein powder called Solein which uses water, air and renewable electricity as a way to separate food production from agriculture. “You avoid land use impacts like clearing forests for agriculture, use of pesticides and use of fertilisers that release greenhouse gases and so on,” co-founder and CEO Pasi Vainikka told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Solein is made by putting microbes into a liquid and feeding them small bubbles of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, a process similar to making beer or wine, apart from the lack of grapes or grains. As the liquid thickens, it is dried into a very fine powder which is about 65% protein and tastes much like wheat flour. The new generation of proteins are also less processed, said Thomas Jonas, CEO of Sustainable Bioproducts whose protein is based on microbes found in volcanic hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. Having raised $33 million in February, the company plans to produce “a hamburger equivalent” next year through a “novel fermentation” of the microbes – Reuters

A Russian soldier stands guard near the Pansyr-S1 air defense system on the Kotelny Island, April 3, 2019. Russia has made reaffirming its military presence in the Arctic the top priority. Credit: Vladimir Isachenkov / AP

Climate Change Could Make Russia Great Again.  A golden opportunity for Russia is buried under the ice caps, which are now melting. This opportunity is supported by evidence found a decade ago, when geologists estimated that 30 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its petroleum deposits were trapped beneath the ice floes of the Arctic Circle, along with rare minerals and other valuable resources. And as a result, not only will those resources become accessible but, as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May, “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days. In fact, 80 percent of world trade is conducted via maritime shipping, and that the Suez Canal remains the chief maritime commercial route between Europe and East Asia. The efficient northwestern route in the Arctic Ocean will shorten the distance between Asia and North America by almost 20 percent, creating an alternative to the Panama Canal. By the time the scenario of the Arctic maritime routes being operative all year round will become true, it is predicted that about two-thirds of the trade that passes through the Suez Canal would be diverted to the new shipping routes. Russia, with the North Pole in its backyard, is working to realize such a global trade scenario alongside the Chinese and in some cases in cooperation with them. Although regarding the trade opportunities that this scenario could provide, Elisa Lanzi from OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) headquarters in Paris warns that “the opening of the Arctic sea routes could have short-term benefits, but once you have more frequent trade through those seas, it will warm the water up and ships passing through will generate gas emissions – shipping is actually a huge source of emissions – causing a great deal of air pollution” – Haaretz