Overview: Global warming

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Authors: Derek Paul and Metta Spencer

This planet is gradually warming, mainly because of the burning of fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. The increased temperature changes the climate in other ways too, including the rise in sea levels; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in the times when flowers bloom; and extreme weather events.

Life on Earth is dependent on a layer of gases, primarily water vapor, in the lower atmosphere that trap heat from the sun, while radiating some of it back and keeping our planet at a temperature capable of supporting life.

The sunlight that remains trapped is our source of energy and is used by plants in photosynthesis, whereas the remainder is reflected as heat or light back into space. Climate forcing (or “radiative forcing”) is the differential between the amount of sunlight absorbed by Earth and the amount of energy radiated back to space.

Several factors determine the size and direction of this forcing; for example light surfaces are more reflective than dark ones, so geographical regions covered by ice and snow reflect back more than areas covered by dark water or dark forests; this variable is called the “albedo effect.”

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Brazil’s Climate Overture to Biden: Pay Us Not to Raze Amazon

Paulo Trevisani and Timothy Puko | The Wall Street Journal | 21 April 2021

“Brazil’s government, widely criticized by environmental groups as a negligent steward of the Amazon rainforest, has made an audacious offer to the Biden administration: Provide $1 billion and President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration will reduce deforestation by 40%.
The proposal was made as the Brazilian president prepares for a virtual environmental summit with roughly 40 heads of state hosted Thursday and Friday by President Biden, who has made battling climate change a centerpiece of his administration. European governments and activists have publicly expressed misgivings with Mr. Bolsonaro’s proposals on the environment because he has trimmed funds for environmental protection agencies amid an increase in deforestation.
But supported by some influential scholars and Amazon dwellers, Mr. Bolsonaro argues that the only way to save the jungle is through carbon credits and by financing sustainable economic activities so people can make a living from fish farming, cacao production and other activities that don’t require the razing of trees. The theme has been central to talks Brazil’s environment minister, Ricardo Salles, said he has had in recent weeks with Biden administration climate officials.
The request is likely just among the first of many similar to follow as developing nations start to negotiate with industrialized countries about who pays for costly programs to address climate change. This fall, the nations of the world are to set new, more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and developing countries want their richer peers to make good on pledges from the original Paris climate negotiations to mobilize $100 billion a year in public and private financing for them.”

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Last edited 16 days ago by Adam Wynne

New Climate Satellite Spotted Giant Methane Leak as It Happened

Naureen S. Malik | Bloomberg Green | 12 February 2021

“Methane leaks from at least eight natural gas pipelines and unlit flares in central Turkmenistan earlier this month released as much as 10,000 kilograms per hour of the supercharged greenhouse gas, according to imagery produced by a new satellite capable of detecting emissions from individual sites.

“That amount of methane would have the planet-warming impact of driving 250,000 internal-combustion cars running for a similar amount of time, said Stephane Germain, president of GHGSat Inc., the company that picked up on the leak. The company first spotted the eight plumes of greenhouse gas on February 1. “It’s reasonable to say this happened for several hours,” he said in an interview.

The pixelated snapshot showing the eight simultaneous leaks within just 20 square miles is an alarming harbinger of what could be revealed now that satellite technology is capable of pinpointing emissions from specific wells, pipelines, and mines. GHGSat launched its first satellite in 2016, but it wasn’t until last September that it had one in orbit capable of picking out individual wells. In the fourth quarter of 2020 alone, Germain said, it detected hundreds of leaks.”

Read More Here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-12/new-climate-satellite-spotted-giant-methane-leak-as-it-happened

There’s an invisible climate threat seeping from grocery store freezers. Biden wants to change that.

New undercover survey suggests leaks of powerful planet-warming gases pervade many supermarkets

By Juliet Eilperin and Desmond Butler |Feb. 15, 2021 at 9:29 p.m. EST

Some of the climate impacts of a grocery store trip are obvious, like the fuel it takes to get there and the electricity that keeps its lights glowing, conveyor belts moving and scanners beeping. But then there are the invisible gases seeping out into the atmosphere when you reach for your ice cream of choice.

In nearly every supermarket in America, a network of pipes transports compressed refrigerants that keep perishable goods cold. Most of these chemicals are hydrofluorocarbons — greenhouse gases thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide — which often escape through cracks or systems that were not properly installed. Once they leak, they are destined to pollute the atmosphere.

The Biden administration now sees eliminating these chemicals from the nation’s refrigerators as low-hanging fruit in its broader effort to rein in climate pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency issued a public call last week for companies to report production and import data on HFCs.

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The Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2021 https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/02/15/these-gases-your-grocerys-freezer-are-fueling-climate-change-biden-wants-fix-that/

Suggestion Box: More Trees in the City!

Here’s a proposal: “Trees in the City” is an integral part of the Society’s “Trees for Life” centennial program. This will be an informative and enlightening opportunity for you to develop a more significant appreciation, and become more deeply aware of trees where we live and move and have our essential being provincially and municipally. Please forward this link onto others in your circle of influence. What better way to begin a new year 2021 than with trees. DAS President, Royal Commonwealth Society Vancouver Island (RCS VI)”

Hi, Commonwealth Society! We love trees too! If you want to post more comments, we will be glad to hear from you, and we hope you’ll post your upcoming events in the Events Listings. Sorry we missed getting one of your events up in time, but if you post them yourself, it will go up immediately.

Suggestion Box: Stop Traveling!

Brian Beaton has posted this idea in the suggestion box:
“Finding effective ways to stay in our communities doing the work required to support each other, our families, our neighbours to grow in all ways locally while respecting mother earth and Indigenous traditional teachings and ceremonies honouring the earth, the land, the air, the water and all our relations.”
Interesting proposal, Brian! The possibilities are being shown by the decrease in carbon emissions during pandemic lockdowns. If you have further thoughts on this, please share them here in this comment column. I imagine it may create quite a significant discussion.

Stanford Designer is Making Bricks Out of Fast-Growing Mushrooms That Are Stronger than Concrete

Andy Corbley | Good News Network | 10 December 2020

While there aren’t any species of mushroom large enough to live in, one Bay-area designer thinks he can make one if he only cranks out enough of his patented “mushroom bricks.”

In fact, he knows he can do it, because he’s already build a showpiece called “Mycotecture”—a 6×6 mushroom brick arch from Ganoderma lucidum or reishi mushrooms.

Phil Ross doesn’t use the mushroom, or fruiting body of the reishi; he uses mycelium, the fast-growing fibrous roots that make up the vast majority of fungus lifeforms.

Mycelium grows fast, and is incredibly durable, waterproof, non-toxic, fire-resistant, and biodegradable.

Ross uses it to build bricks by growing mycelium in bags of delicious (to mushrooms) sawdust, before drying them out and cutting them with extremely heavy-duty steel blades.

This works because mushrooms digest cellulose in the sawdust, converting it into chitin, the same fiber that insect exoskeletons are made from.

“The bricks have the feel of a composite material with a core of spongy cross grained pulp that becomes progressively denser towards its outer skin,” explained Discover Magazine. “The skin itself is incredibly hard, shatter resistant, and can handle enormous amounts of compression.”

One design/architecture website described these mushroom bricks as “stronger than concrete,” while another quotes Ross in an interview suggesting that it could replace all manner of plastic polymer building materials.

Indeed, designers have already used mycelium to make cloth hats, sea-worthy canoes, and eco-friendly coffins. Ross’ next plan, according to the same interview, is to build an entire house for 12-20 people out of reishi mycelium.”

Link: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/phil-ross-invents-mycelium-mushroom-bricks-arch/

Trias of carbon, silicon and water – silicate weathering and “stone eating microbes”

1) Important is the trias of carbon, silicon and water. Silicon as biochar increase soil water capacity. Plant and soil need silicates, which are produced by continues weathering. Weathering of one molecule silicate, e.g. MgSiO4 consumes 4 molecules of CO2: “Mg2SiO4 + 4 CO2 + 4 H2O ⇌ 2 Mg2+ + 4 HCO3− + H4SiO4 [H4SiO4 = Si(OH)4]. 

2) So silicates work as antacids/liming agents, without liberating CO2 (opposite to usual liming agents). Silicate weathering is promoted by “stone eating microbes, especially mycorrhizaea” [Koele N, Hildebrand EE (2008) ]

3) Plants consume silicates the same amounts as main cations and decrease the plant available silicon. Recycling is important, but usually cannot replace the losses. The space science could show the importance of silicon by astronauts. On the earth – possibly in oceans – the losses of silicon can be balanced by silicon amendments, e.g. by fine stone meal.
(Reference: Hensel J (1894) Bread from Stones: A New and Rational System of Land Fertilization and Physical Regeneration.

4) Space science should build one or several “laboratory community/ies” on the earth for studying and improving the methods for managing recycling and silicate-carbonate cycle.

Capture it in the Smokestack

The IEA (International Energy Agency) says that Carbon Capture, Sequestration and Storage (CCUS) is an important part of the mix in moving forward on mitigating climate change, so the article below is good news.

Carbon capture and storage pipeline grows by 10 large scale facilities globally 8th June 2020

8 June 2020, Washington, DC – The Global CCS Institute, an international think tank, has added 10 carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities to its global database, bringing the total number of CCS facilities in various stages of development to 59 with a capture capacity of more than 127 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). There are now 21 facilities in operation, three under construction, and 35 in various stages of development.

“Our recent CO2RE Database update shows that despite the current CV-19 crisis we are observing a significant increase in CCS facilities in the pipeline which demonstrates continued progress towards meeting climate targets, and will also result in significant job creation and economic growth”, said Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page.

In a recent flagship report on the value of CCS, the Global CCS Institute found that CCS deployment in line with the Paris Agreement and energy-related Sustainable Development Goals could create some 100,000 jobs in the industry by 2050.
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Shockingly Simple!

How Farmland Could Absorb an Extra 2 Billion Tonnes of CO2 From the Atmosphere Each Year
Adding crushed rock dust to farmland could draw down up to two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air per year and help meet key global climate targets, according to a major new study led by the University of Sheffield.

Major new study shows adding rock dust to farmland could remove carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent to more than the current total emissions from global aviation and shipping combined — or around half of Europe’s current total emissions
Research identifies the nation-by-nation potential for CO2 drawdown, as well as the costs and the engineering challenges involved
Findings reveal the world’s highest emitters (China, India and the US) also have the greatest potential to remove CO2 from the atmosphere using this method
Scientists suggest unused materials from mining and the construction industry could be used to help soils remove CO2 from the atmosphere

Adding crushed rock dust to farmland could draw down up to two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air per year and help meet key global climate targets, according to a major new study led by the University of Sheffield.

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Thanks for the article and references

Stop cutting down trees for biomass. . .STOP WOODY BIOMASS!

“According to Earth Institute, burning wood biomass emits as much, if not more, air pollution than burning fossil fuels — particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, mercury, and other hazardous air pollutants — which can cause cancer or reproductive effects.” Have other folks heard similar claims?


That should be a bumper sticker on every vehicle in America and around the world as easy-to-read bumper stickers are more effective than many forms of advertising.

According to LSA — University of Colorado/Boulder, wood accounts for 79% of biomass production and accounts for 3.2% of energy production. Wood dominates the worldwide biomass industry.

For perspective purposes, a paid lobbyist on behalf of trees could rightfully claim: (1) Trees cool and moisten our air and fill it with oxygen. (2) They calm the winds and shade the land from sunlight. (3) They shelter countless species, anchor the soil, and slow the movement of water. (4) They provide food, fuel, medicines, and building materials for human activity. (5) They also help balance Earth’s carbon budget. Name another organism with credentials like that!

Meanwhile, the worldwide woody biomass industry consumes forests, gobbling up trees by the minute. But, it’s a wayward ruse to classify woody biomass as “carbon neutral.” It is not carbon neutral. It’s a carbon emitter, the antithesis of clean renewable energy.

A 1,000-kilowatt-hour wood-pellet power plant, enough to power 1,000 homes, emits a total of 1,275 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. That’s according to Dr. Puneet Dwivedi, a research professor at the University of Georgia. By way of comparison, a 1,000-kilowatt-hour coal plant emits 1,048 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. The net result is that coal produces 227 grams less CO2 than the biomass plant. Hmm. (Source: A Burning Question: Throw Wood on the Fire for 21st-Century Electricity? CNBC, Sept. 15, 2017)
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Stopping Deforestation Can Prevent Pandemics

By the Editors of Scientific American, June 1, 2020

“SARS, Ebola and now SARS-CoV-2: all three of these highly infectious viruses have caused global panic since 2002—and all three of them jumped to humans from wild animals that live in dense tropical forests.

Three quarters of the emerging pathogens that infect humans leaped from animals, many of them creatures in the forest habitats that we are slashing and burning to create land for crops, including biofuel plants, and for mining and housing. The more we clear, the more we come into contact with wildlife that carries microbes well suited to kill us—and the more we concentrate those animals in smaller areas where they can swap infectious microbes, raising the chances of novel strains. Clearing land also reduces biodiversity, and the species that survive are more likely to host illnesses that can be transferred to humans. All these factors will lead to more spillover of animal pathogens into people.

Stopping deforestation will not only reduce our exposure to new disasters but also tamp down the spread of a long list of other vicious diseases that have come from rain forest habitats — Zika, Nipah, malaria, cholera and HIV among them. A 2019 study found that a 10 percent increase in deforestation would raise malaria cases by 3.3 percent; that would be 7.4 million people worldwide. Yet despite years of global outcry, deforestation still runs rampant. An average of 28 million hectares of forest have been cut down annually since 2016, and there is no sign of a slowdown.

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Sweden shuts down coal power two years early!

Great news from Sweden in that Sweden shut down their last coal-fired power plant 2 years ahead of schedule!

“It seems like a lot of countries are falling behind on their climate goals lately, and Sweden is currently putting them all to shame — and that’s not only because the Nordic country produced Greta Thunberg. Sweden just shut down its last remaining coal-fired power plant, two years before it was scheduled to close.

The coal-fired cogeneration plant KVV6 at Värtaverket, located in Hjorthagen in eastern Stockholm, has been in operation since 1989, according to Stockholm Exergi, the local energy company that owns the plant. Stockholm Exergi is equally owned by the municipality of Stockholm and Fortum, a Finnish energy company that operates across Europe and Asia.

As Stockholm Exergi explained, before the winter of 2019-2020, the company shut down one of KVV6’s two boilers, and converted the other to a power reserve. Because the winter wound up being mild, Stockholm Exergi did not need to use energy from the reserves, meaning the company was able to close the plant down this month, rather than in 2022 as planned.

Additionally, there is a chance that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on Sweden’s recent energy use. For example, Britain just beat its personal record of going more than 18 days without using coal-powered electricity, thanks in part to the recent mild weather, but more interestingly, due to people needing less power during the coronavirus pandemic. With many areas on lockdown, people are using less electricity and driving cars less, reducing dependence on fuel overall.

“Our goal is for all our production to come from renewable or recycled Exergi,” Anders Egelrud, CEO of Stockholm Exergi, said in a translated statement. “This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time, today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan.”

“Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependency and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy,” Egelrud added.

In 2018, 54.6 percent of the energy used in Sweden came from renewable sources, according to the Swedish Energy Agency. While that is still pretty far from the country’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy, Sweden is far ahead of many other countries. For example, in 2018, renewable energy sources only accounted for 11 percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As reported by The Independent, Sweden is the third country in Europe to cut off its reliance on coal. Belgium closed its last coal power plant in 2016, according to Climate Change News, and Austria said Auf Wiedersehen to its last remaining coal-fired power station earlier this April, as per CNBC. Hopefully now that three European countries no longer have coal-fired power plants, other nations across Europe — and all over the world — will ramp up efforts to do the same.”

Why the Most Environmental Building is the Building We’ve Already Built

About one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. That’s why we should be retro-fitting our houses and workplaces. But watch out for the demolition that precedes rebuilding. Half of the residue winds up in landfills. But retrofitting is almost always more energy efficient–especially if we reduce the amount of waste.

By Emily Badger
Reusing an old building pretty much always has less of an impact on the environment than tearing it down, trashing the debris, clearing the site, crafting new materials and putting up a replacement from scratch. This makes some basic sense, even without looking at the numbers.

But what if the new building is super energy-efficient? How do the two alternatives compare over a lifetime, across generations of use?

“We often come up against this argument that, ‘Oh well, the existing building could never compete with the new building in terms of energy efficiency,’” says Patrice Frey, the director of sustainability for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We wanted to model that.”

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Crisis in the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is changing faster than any other body of water on Earth. In some cases, elements of the ecosystems and environments appear to be changing quicker than studies can be conducted – and many undiscovered species are thought to exist in the region.

Article Excerpt(s):
“The top of the world is turning upside down, says the first overall assessment of Canada’s Arctic Ocean.

The assessment, the result of work by dozens of federal scientists and Inuit observers, describes a vast ecosystem in unprecedented flux: from ocean currents to the habits and types of animals that swim in it.
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Each cherry tree can absorb 20 pounds of greenhouse gas!

By Aila Slisco

This is an excerpt of an article on research from South Korea on the potential of cherry trees as carbon sinks.

A study from South Korea’s Forest Research Institute indicated that each 25-year-old cherry tree can absorb about 20 pounds of emissions each, according to a Tuesday report from UPI.

The country’s cherry trees are said to be capable of absorbing about 2.4 tons of carbon, roughly equivalent to the emissions of 6,000 cars per year. Thee emissions of a single car can be absorbed by 250 mature trees.
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Mutant Enzymes feed on Plastic

Party time!

I have heard a number of reports of microorganisms or microorganism-derived compounds which have been discovered to have potential to decompose plastic. Most of the time it appears as if these are studied, though subsequently have limited applications outside of laboratories and test sites. Has anyone heard of large-scale applications of these microorganisms that eat plastic?

Regardless, I would like to share this interesting article with readers of Plank 9 – as it bears relevance to the subject. This article specifically discusses an enzyme – discovered in a compost pile – which breaks the plastic down to building blocks that facilitate recycling of the material into high quality (and food quality) products. Notably, the enzyme can be derived from specific types of fungi.

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I am shocked!

I am shocked there is not a separate section on this site for invasive species management – particularly as these are linked to ecological decline.

Icy Road Ahead!

With Global Warming, Arctic Ice Road Season Grows Shorter
By Sarah Kennedy
Article Excerpt:
“Many people avoid driving on icy roads. But in Northern Canada’s Arctic tundra, some roads are made of ice.

A network of seasonal roads on frozen rivers and lakes allows trucks to reach remote areas. Many of these places are otherwise accessible only by boat or plane. But as the climate warms, the ice road season is getting shorter.

Xiao Yang of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill analyzed more than three decades of satellite images of rivers around the globe. He looked at which rivers were frozen and when.

“We detect widespread decline in river ice in the past 34 years,” he says. “In general, we have later freeze-up of the river surface and we have earlier breakup of the river surface. … And that has consequences for … when you can actually be on these ice roads.”

Yang also studied what is likely to happen to river ice if global carbon pollution and temperatures continue to rise. He found that by 2100, some rivers could be ice-free for weeks longer than they are now.
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Deforestation in the Congo

By Eliza Barclay, Umair Irfan and Tristan MConnell

“Dozens of countries have extraordinary tropical forests, but three stand out: Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries not only have the largest areas of tropical forest within their borders, they also have the highest rates of deforestation.

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NASA satellite images reveal dramatic melting in Antarctica after record heat wave

By Sophie Lewis February 22, 2020 / 2:58 PM / CBS News

Article Excerpt
Earlier this month, temperatures in Antarctica appeared to reach a record-breaking 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit, matching the temperature in Los Angeles that day. New images released by NASA show the dramatic ice melt caused by the heat wave, a phenomenon that is becoming more and more common in the peninsula.
NASA’s Earth Observatory released two new images Friday by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 that show the difference on the Eagle Island ice cap between February 4 and February 13.

The before-and-after snapshots show a dramatic decrease in ice and snow along the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula. In the later shot, a large portion of the ground is visible, as are bright blue melted ponds in the center of the island.

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Earthships: Heat Your House with Car Tyres and Earth

Earthships use earth and tires for insulation. Gorgeous ones have been built in several countries, including the UK and the US, but to build yours, you may have to change the local building codes first.

By Kris de Decker
A dirt cheap and 100 percent ecological house that has all the comforts of an ordinary home, without being connected to the electricity grid, waterworks, sewer system or the natural gas network. It does exist, but in most countries, building one is not allowed.

An Earthship is a completely self-sufficient house that has a natural temperature regulation, without the use of a heating system. The building also generates its own electricity, collects and filters its own drinking water and cleans its own effluent water. The house is partly buried into the earth and is constructed mainly with waste materials; car tyres, aluminium cans and glass bottles. This low-tech building approach is ecologically as well as economically advantageous.

This autumn, the British coastal city of Brighton approved the construction of 16 Earthships. It’s the first time that a European city council has given builders the green light to mass construct this radical ecological housing form. In the United States nearly one thousand Earthships have been built, most of them in the desert of New Mexico.

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Is Russia Finally Waking Up to Climate Change?

By Daniel Kozin, The Moscow Times, 4 March 2020

Notes: Mr. Kozin is the Saint Petersburg correspondent for the Moscow Times.

Article Excerpt:

Siberian nomads have anthrax now in their herds

“However, Russian leaders have been reluctant to take steps to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. While this comes as no surprise — as Russia’s economy is largely dependent on fossil fuel exports — it also means the country is doing little to slow global warming.”
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Fruit Walls: The Centuries old Technology

Fruit walls were a pre-greenhouse technology used for several centuries (beginning in the 1600s) to grow food in areas where the climate would not otherwise support it. The article also point out how energy intensive agricultural greenhouses are. This was published in the website of Low Tech Magazine, which is solar powered. The site’s servers are powered by solar panels and sometimes goes offline while it needs to recharge.

[Article excerpt here, but check out the original article for its interesting photos and explanations!]

“We are being told to eat local and seasonal food, either because other crops have been tranported over long distances, or because they are grown in energy-intensive greenhouses. But it wasn’t always like that. From the sixteenth to the twentieth century, urban farmers grew Mediterranean fruits and vegetables as far north as England and the Netherlands, using only renewable energy.

These crops were grown surrounded by massive “fruit walls”, which stored the heat from the sun and released it at night, creating a microclimate that could increase the temperature by more than 10°C (18°F). Later, greenhouses built against the fruit walls further improved yields from solar energy alone.

It was only at the very end of the nineteenth century that the greenhouse turned into a fully glazed and artificially heated building where heat is lost almost instantaneously — the complete opposite of the technology it evolved from.

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The Unexpected Link Between The Ozone Hole And Arctic Warming: U of T Expert

By Karen Smith, University of Toronto News, 19 February 2020

Article Excerpt:

“One of the earliest climate model predictions of how human-made climate change would affect our planet showed that the Arctic would warm about two to three times more than the global average. Forty years later, this “Arctic amplification” has been observed first-hand.

Record-breaking Arctic warming and the dramatic decline of sea ice are having severe consequences on sensitive ecosystems in the region.

But why has the Arctic warmed more than the tropics and the mid-latitudes?

We now know that this is due, in part, to tiny concentrations of very powerful greenhouse gases, including ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

A wonder gas?

The ozone layer is the protective layer in the stratosphere, roughly 20-50 kilometres above the Earth, that absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ozone-depleting substances are potent greenhouse gases, but they are more commonly known for their devastating effect on the ozone layer.

These chemicals were invented in the 1920s. They were touted as “wonder gases” and used as refrigerants, solvents and propellants in refrigerators, air conditioners and packing materials. It wasn’t until the 1980s when scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica that they realized the full extent of the ozone-depleting nature of these chemicals.

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Seeding oceans with iron may not impact climate change

By Jennifer Chu, Phys. org Feb 17, 2020
Publication(s): Phys.org [Science X Network]

Article Excerpt:

“Historically, the oceans have done much of the planet’s heavy lifting when it comes to sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Microscopic organisms known collectively as phytoplankton, which grow throughout the sunlit surface oceans and absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, are a key player.

To help stem escalating carbon dioxide emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels, some scientists have proposed seeding the oceans with iron—an essential ingredient that can stimulate phytoplankton growth. Such “iron fertilization” would cultivate vast new fields of phytoplankton, particularly in areas normally bereft of marine life.

A new MIT study suggests that iron fertilization may not have a significant impact on phytoplankton growth, at least on a global scale.

The researchers studied the interactions between phytoplankton, iron, and other nutrients in the ocean that help phytoplankton grow. Their simulations suggest that on a global scale, marine life has tuned ocean chemistry through these interactions, evolving to maintain a level of ocean iron that supports a delicate balance of nutrients in various regions of the world.
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How Produce Stickers Contribute to Climate Change

By Emily Chung, CBC: What on Earth? 14 February 2020

Article Excerpt:

“About three years ago, Susan Antler was at a composting facility in B.C. when a truck full of rotting avocados pulled up.

It was “51 feet, 52 feet [approx. 14 metres] — like, [a] massive truckload,” said Antler, executive director of the Compost Council of Canada. “And the facility just wouldn’t accept it.”

Why? Because each of those thousands of rotting avocados was “contaminated” by a little plastic PLU (or price look up) sticker. It carries a number, standardized around the globe, that identifies the type of produce and whether it’s conventionally or organically grown, to help cashiers enter the right price at the supermarket checkout.

Jane Proctor, vice-president of policy and issue management at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, said while the stickers are voluntary, most chain supermarkets require them. “It is not a regulatory requirement,” she said. “It’s a business requirement.”

The stickers are too small to be screened out in the waste sorting process, but don’t break down during composting. Antler said they end up sprinkled as “foreign matter” through the finished product — compost that’s destined to be used to enrich soils in places such as gardens, farmland and parks.

The stickers aren’t toxic and don’t harm the compost — although presumably they add microplastics to the environment — so it’s mostly a cosmetic issue, Antler acknowledged. But there are strict guidelines about how much foreign matter is allowed in compost, especially higher grades. And too much can make compost unmarketable.
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These stickers have always irritated me. Now I know why!

Heavy fuel oil and the Arctic — are they compatible?

By Niels Bjorn Mortensen, Lloyd’s List: Maritime Intelligence, 1 July 2017

Article Excerpt:

“Whether carried or burned, heavy fuel oil is a particular threat in Arctic waters

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Fuel Oil Pollution in the Arctic!

Too much heavy fuel is used the Arctic. Heavy fuel is a dirty fuel that causes lots of pollution.It poses a risk regardless of whether it is burned for energy or being transported. Cold temperatures in the environment and water cause the fuel to break down slower and prolongs the impact on ecosystems. There are ongoing calls – by countries such as Canada and the Scandinavian nations – to prohibit the use of heavy fuel as a fuel source in the Arctic. However, these proposals will not prevent heavy fuel from being shipped as cargo through the Arctic.

BY Niels Bjorn Mortensen
“Whether carried or burned, heavy fuel oil is a particular threat in Arctic waters

In March 2017, Arctic sea ice hit a new record — the lowest amount of winter ice since satellite records began 38 years ago.

As Arctic waters open up, most likely due to human use of fossil fuels, vessels powered by heavy fuel oil are likely to divert to Arctic waters in search of shorter journey times. This will mean more burning of marine fuels and black carbon emissions, accelerating further melting. More open water means further absorption of the sun’s warmth and heating of the Arctic Ocean — a vicious cycle.

As a former navigator I have sailed on ships in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. In 1979 I was second officer on the first ship to east Greenland that season and we arrived at Angmagssalik around July 1 after spending a day navigating very heavy multi-year ice. Later that year, I was in the Thule (Qaanaaq) district in northwest Greenland, which opened up for ship traffic only in early August.

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Ship pollution is bad for public health

By Samuel White

European health agencies spend approximately €58 billion ($83 billion CAD) each year on serious diseases connected to ship emissions and ship-related pollution. These are mostly heart and lung diseases. Furthermore, this annual €58 billion ($83 billion CAD) expense does not include environmental damage.

Additionally of note: “the NGO Transport & Environment said, “Marine fuel is 2,700 times dirtier than road diesel and €35 billion of fuel tax is paid yearly in Europe for road transport, while shipping uses tax-free fuel.”

“Given that shipping accounts for over one fifth of global fuel consumption, the fact that its emissions are not more strictly regulated is cause for concern.”

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Pollution from ships kills thousands each year

European health agencies spend approximately €58 billion ($83 billion CAD) each year on serious diseases connected to ship emissions and ship-related pollution. These are mostly heart and lung diseases. Furthermore, this annual €58 billion ($83 billion CAD) expense does not include environmental damage.

Given that shipping accounts for over one fifth of global fuel consumption, the fact that its emissions are not more strictly regulated is cause for concern.”

By Samuel White. Euractiv, June 20, 2015
Article Excerpt:

Shipping emissions are an invisible killer that cause lung cancer and heart disease, a new study has found, but researchers say the 60,000 deaths they cause each year could be significantly cut by exhaust filtration devices.

The University of Rostock and the German environmental research centre Helmholzzentrum Munich have established a firm link between shipping exhaust emissions and serious diseases, that cost European health services €58 billion annually.

Conventional ship engines that burn heavy fuel oil or diesel fuel emit high concentrations of harmful substances including heavy metals, hydrocarbons and sulphur, as well as carcinogenic particulate matter (PM).

People in coastal areas are particularly at risk, researchers said. Up to half of PM-related air pollution in coastal areas, rivers and ports comes from ship emissions, according to the study.
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UN Will Force Shipping to Clean Up its Act

By Laramée de Tannenberg, Valéry, Euractiv, 26 October 2016

Article Excerpt:

The UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is pondering measures to cut shipping pollution and bring emissions into line with the Paris Agreement. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

Like commercial aviation, marine transport slipped through the cracks in the Paris Agreement. Responsible for more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, commercial shipping is also a major source of local air pollution.

But the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MPEC) has begun to take local and global impact of shipping pollution seriously; it was on the agenda for the committee’s 70th meeting in London this week.

The UN organisation is considering enforcing stricter regulations on large ships. Under the proposals, the owners of the tens of thousands of ships with a displacement greater than 5,000 tonnes would be obliged to measure their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and to declare the results to the IMO and the ships’ countries of registration. This is a first step.
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UN Will Force Shipping to Clean Up its Act

By Laramée de Tannenberg
The UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is pondering measures to cut shipping pollution and bring emissions into line with the Paris Agreement. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

Like commercial aviation, marine transport slipped through the cracks in the Paris Agreement. Responsible for more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, commercial shipping is also a major source of local air pollution.

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Builders Shouldn’t Count on Liquified Natural Gas

Revealed in a Common Ground magazine article (“BC’s LNG industry – flogging a dead horse,” posted Dec. 8, 2018) is that Coastal GasLink’s liquefied fractured gas project is a bad deal for both British Columbians and the environment, with the following disturbing facts (extracted and listed below as published in point-form word for word) I’ve yet to hear reported in the mainstream news-media:
“ …. Faced with such competition for a resource product widely available worldwide, BC’s fledgling gas industry turned to Governments for concessions to help “make them competitive”.

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Canadian Cacti: Let’s eat ’em!

Did you know that Canada has several native cacti species? These are all in the Opuntia family of cacti – commonly called prickly pears. Opuntia (prickly pears) are more commonly found in Latin America, Mexico, and the Southwestern USA – though grow throughout the Americas. Indigenous and Latin American peoples have used the species for centuries as sources of dyes, fibers, and food. One common cuisine produced from Opuntia (prickly pears) are Nopales – which are grilled cacti pad. Thornless varieties or cacti pads with the thorns (glochids) removed are preferred for culinary applications. Prior to colonization, cacti were only native to the Americas.

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I cannot believe Canada even has Cacti, it’s so cold here.

Are these cacti endangered? I’ve never seen them. Where do they grow in Canada?

Russia’s $300B investment in Arctic oil and gas

By John Last, CBC News, 15 February 2020

Russia’s $300 billion gas and oil investment in the Arctic will encourage development of and increased traffic in Northern sea routes. What impacts will these activities will have on locals – including Indigenous (Chukchi, Nenets, etc.) peoples? There is international concern that gas and oil drilling in this ecologically sensitive region could result in long-term, environmental damage through leaks or spills.

The Soviet Union formerly used the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, and areas around Novaya Zemlya as a nuclear waste dump. These areas abut and/or intersect the Northern Sea Route. Several gas and oil companies proposed drilling the Kara Sea due to its large gas and oil reserves but shifted plans about 5 years ago. In recent years, Russia additionally has developed floating nuclear reactors, such as the Academic Lomonosov, which can be moved along the Northern Sea Route to supply power to remote regions.

Article Excerpt:

“Last month, the Russian government pushed through new legislation creating $300 billion in new incentives for new ports, factories, and oil and gas developments on the shores and in the waters of the Arctic ocean.

The incentives are part of a broader plan to more than double maritime traffic in the Northern Sea Route, on Russia’s northern coast — and give a boost to state energy companies like Gazprom, Lukoil, and Rosneft.

But analysts say their immediate impact will be increased exploration and development for offshore oil and natural gas.

How is the money being spent?
Russia’s government is offering tax incentives for offshore oil and gas developments, including a reduced five per cent production tax for the first 15 years for all oil and gas developments.
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This explains why Russia may be slow to develop electric cars (Arctic oil is profitable)

Russia is investing $300 billion in the Arctic – specifically within the realm of gas and oil. These investments would encourage development of and increased traffic in Northern sea routes. There is hope that this could assist with economic bolstering and potential development of remote Northern communities along the Northern Sea Route. What impacts these activities will have on locals – including Indigenous (Chukchi, Nenets, etc.) peoples – has yet to be fully determined.

There is international concern that gas and oil drilling in this ecologically sensitive region could result in long-term, environmental damage – such as through leaks or spills.

The Soviet Union formerly used the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, and areas around Novaya Zemlya as a nuclear waste dump. These areas abut and/or intersect the Northern Sea Route. I am hoping that some of these $300 billion in investments could go towards cleaning up these sites. Former President Boris Yeltsin’s science advisor first reported on the state of the Kara Sea nuclear waste dump in 1993 – though according to recent media articles – little has been done in subsequent decades to clean-up and contain the nuclear waste, move it to a more appropriate and secure location, and remediate the contaminated environments. Interestingly, several gas and oil companies proposed drilling the Kara Sea due to its large gas and oil reserves – but shifted plans about 5 years ago.

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Hooray for Thunder Bay!

Article Excerpt:

Thunder Bay is among nine other Canadian cities being recognized for their commitment to urban forestry management by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Arbor Day Foundation.

The Tree Cities of the World list was released last week, and includes cities from across the world and in Canada, including Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, and Regina, in addition to Thunder Bay.

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Crocheting Plastic

“Renee Outhouse is crocheting plastic sleeping mats for people who are homeless, just as Fundy Region Solid Waste plans to stop accepting plastic bags for recycling beginning in March.”

“Because the mats are made of plastic, fleas or bedbugs won’t nest in them, Outhouse said. The mats would melt if exposed to fire, however.”

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What a nutty form of charity! Wouldnt you do better spending your time working on a campaign to ensure that everyone has a place to live?

Indigenize Toronto’s Black Oak Savannah

There’s a wonderful urban black oak savannah in Toronto’s High Park that reflects indigenous land stewardship in urban contexts.

Article Excerpt:

An Indigenous collective wants a more active role in land restoration and management in Toronto, with a focus on High Park’s rare black oak savannah.

The Indigenous Land Stewardship Circle is a collective of elders, knowledge holders and members of the urban Indigenous community who want to Indigenize and decolonize land restoration by healing the land through traditional approaches.

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Hey, Israel! Trees are not your enemy!

Israel’s army blocks activists who work with Palestinians from planting trees in the West Bank. More information about this can be found at the link below – though unfortunately the article is now behind a paywall.

Title: Israeli Army Blocks 200 Activists From Planting Trees With Palestinians in West Bank
Author: Hagar Shezaf
Date: 14 February 2020
Publication: Haaretz
Link: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-army-blocks-200-activists-from-planting-trees-with-palestinians-in-west-bank-1.8533033

Geothermal energy has significant potential for a number of global regions. Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility recently shared this article indicating geothermal energy is being explored in Massachusetts. Is there an opportunity for expansion of geothermal systems to other regions?

Thinking About A Geothermal Future

By Bruce Gellerman, 13 January 2020, WBUR (Boston University)

Article Excerpt:

Natural gas utilities in Massachusetts are facing an existential crisis: they could be out of business by mid-century. That’s because the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act requires emissions from burning fossil fuels — like natural gas — be cut by 80% economy-wide by 2050.

But now a solution that could help save the companies — and the climate — is at hand. Or, more accurately, underfoot. It’s geothermal energy, which takes advantage of the biggest energy storage system on earth: the earth itself.

Our planet absorbs the sun’s solar energy and stores it underground as thermal energy that can be used to heat and cool homes and businesses. Just a few yards down, the earth’s temperature is a constant 50 to 60 degrees; warmer than the air above during winter, cooler in the summer. You can take advantage of the temperature difference using what is called a geothermal or ground source heat pump: plastic pipes filled with water and antifreeze pick up the heat from the ground, and the pump circulates it through a building.
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A Geothermal Future

By Bruce Gellerman, 13 Jan 2020

Natural gas utilities in Massachusetts are facing an existential crisis: they could be out of business by mid-century. That’s because the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act requires emissions from burning fossil fuels — like natural gas — be cut by 80% economy-wide by 2050.

But now a solution that could help save the companies — and the climate — is at hand. Or, more accurately, underfoot. It’s geothermal energy, which takes advantage of the biggest energy storage system on earth: the earth itself.

Our planet absorbs the sun’s solar energy and stores it underground as thermal energy that can be used to heat and cool homes and businesses. Just a few yards down, the earth’s temperature is a constant 50 to 60 degrees; warmer than the air above during winter, cooler in the summer. You can take advantage of the temperature difference using what is called a geothermal or ground source heat pump: plastic pipes filled with water and antifreeze pick up the heat from the ground, and the pump circulates it through a building.
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Nine ‘tipping points’ that could be triggered by climate change

By Robert McSweeney, Carbon Brief, 10 Feb, 2020

Link: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-nine-tipping-points-that-could-be-triggered-by-climate-change

Say Goodbye to Salt, Say Hello to Beet Juice Brine

Did you know that beet juice brine can be used to melt ice on roads in an ecologically friendly manner?

Calgary has undertaken this initiative to use a more ecologically friendly way (than salt) to melt ice on winter roads. Other municipalities are exploring similar options too.

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I think the real question here is: DOES IT SMELL?

Don’t plant trees in permafrost!

We should GENERALLY protect forests, but not those in permafrost. They — at least most of those in the Arctic — are speeding up the melting. If anything, they should be cut down. Forests and shrubs are spreading throughout the Arctic now — which may be one of humankind’s worst challenges.

I don’t know what is problematic here. What is wrong with the electric grids we have now?

Is Cannabis Better Than Concrete?

Yes, these are hemp bricks

I’ve seen videos lately about hemp bricks instead of concrete. How realistic is that option?

Nordic trash

In Iceland, 6 to 10% of all emissions come from landfills. This is particularly a problem for methane. Nordic Innovation is using drones to better analyze and map these sites for tailored and targeted interventions for areas of high emissions. Methane is then collected by a gas collection system – which cleans the methane – and delivers it to gas stations in Reykjavik for use by automobiles. This is a way to recycle methane – and Iceland has been using this technology for over a decade.

Reykjavik is additionally monitoring for microplastic contamination within their drinking water system. These are fascinating and initiative technological applications with potential applications for elsewhere globally.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TjAon3R7NA

Sweden wants to ban sale of gas and diesel cars?

“Sweden launches inquiry on how to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars and phase-out fossil fuels” – Green Car Congress [25 December 2019]

“The Government of Sweden has launched a study to offer proposals on how to implement a ban on sales of new gasoline and diesel cars, and the timeline for the phase-out of fossil fuels. The final report is to be presented by 1 February 2021.

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Cherish the lichens, algae and mosses!

Bryophytes and cryptogamic covers are an often overlooked carbon sink. These terms refer to organisms such as algae, lichens, and mosses. In some regions – such as certain areas of Iceland – these are one of the few plant-like organisms which grow. As such, it is important to address their role in broad and specific ecological systems – as well as their role in assisting with global climate change.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry noted that these organisms were often omitted from climate models and started researching the role that these played in greenhouse gas cycles.

“Mat-forming ‘‘ground layers’’ of mosses and lichens often have functional impacts disproportionate to their biomass, and are responsible for sequestering one-third of the world’s terrestrial carbon as they regulate water tables, cool soils and inhibit microbial decomposition.”
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How hot does the Arctic get?

Historically, for many Arctic regions — specifically those inland — it would be rare for 20C to be sustained more than a few days a year — if at all — though this is changing with climate change and is becoming increasingly more frequent.

3D printers are now being used to reconstruct homes in areas decimated by natural disasters. Research is additionally being conducted on the notion of using biomimicry (nature-inspired designs) to create crack and earthquake resistant structural design. Fascinating fields!

Resisting Earthquakes with 3D Printers

By Will Webster

We talk to the research team from Purdue University who’ve combined 3D printing and inspiration from the natural world to give cement some very new behaviours.

Earthquakes are one of the most destructive forms of natural disaster, but the biggest hazard during an quake isn’t the shaking itself – it’s the collapse of human-built structures caused by it.

For centuries people have aimed to make buildings, bridges, and roads stronger and more rigid, with the hope that they would progressively become better at their jobs. That’s largely been the case, apart from when an earthquake strikes, where rigidity immediately becomes a big issue.
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Forest fire smoke transports microbes and other influential particles

I’ll summarize here an article from Popular Mechanics about a newly emerging field of science (pyroaerobiology) which examines how forest fires spread life – specifically microbial life. On a related note, scientists working at the Chernobyl site noted that radiation contamination impedes fungal, insect, and microbial activity (such as decomposition) and can contribute to the increased risk of large forest fires – such as through a larger layer of leaves, old trunks, etc. on the forest floor.

“Pyroaerobiology, a new field of science with a badass name, seeks to understand how colonies of bacteria, fungi, archaea, and viruses are swept up in smoke. These organisms float off into distant lands thousands of miles away, altering the microbial composition of the ecosystem. Microbes floating in this smoke can also impact the weather, seeding the ice crystals that form clouds. There’s also been evidence to suggest these microbiotic zoos could potentially contain allergens that could be harmful to humans.”

Leda Kobziar, the inventor of the field and scientist publishing materials on it, said “I became curious about smoke after I learned that bacteria were being added to snow-making machines—believe it or not—because they act as powerful ice nucleators, which means they can be the nuclei for ice crystals, [spawning snowflakes] at higher temperatures than you would otherwise find.” […]
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Asbestos in the Cement?

Asbestos is being used in India to create a low-cost cement – one of the main industries for a product otherwise on its way out due to overarching toxicity.

“The problem was not the use of asbestos in Canada, which has practically been outlawed. Indeed, Harper’s government is paying millions of dollars to remove asbestos from the Parliament Buildings. Rather, the problem is what Canadian asbestos is doing in other countries.”
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One Day= A Million Cars


Which Premiers are promoting small modular reactors?

Several Canadian province’s premiers have committed to develop and promote the installation of small modular reactors in their communities. These provinces include New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

Many areas in Canada have concerning trends in the management and trends of radioactive waste products – such as radioactive materials being stored only a few hundred meters from the shores of various Great Lakes (Lake Huron, Lake Ontario.). Where will the eventual waste products (spent activation products) from these small modular reactors be stored for hundreds or thousands of years post-use?

Is it worth encouraging exploration and investment in other modes of energy production? Surely New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan have potential for hydroelectric, solar, and wind to various extents… Could these be integrated in ecologically friendly manners?


Dilbit, Dilbat

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and those of like-mind have such a strong sense of free-flow dilbit-oil revenue entitlement that they cannot see or really care about its serious environmental consequences.

They, including PM Justin Trudeau, appear recklessly blind to the significantly increased risk caused by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project to B.C.’s far-more valuable (at least to us) tourism, food and sports fishing industries—not to mention pristine natural environments and ecosystems themselves—in the case of a major oil spill, which many academics believe is inevitable.

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Let’s befriend those helpful methanotropic bacteria

Besides carbon dioxide we have to worry about methane too. It is apparently produced mainly by the agricultural sector — either by ruminant livestock or by rice paddies. But there are methanotropic bacteria that consume methane. From what i have been reading, they live mainly in swamps and waterways. But shouldn’t there be more of them and shouldn’t they live in pastures where the cows produce all that methane? Does anybody know much about these little guys? They sound like things we want to make friends with.

How is fish farming coming along? Is there any way to do that sustainably and without using antibiotics to prevent fish diseases? It seems to me that ought to be a big solution.

I agree. And I too haven’t heard anything about it lately. Have any of you folks?

I’ve heard that it’s just not at all sustainable. The fish are too close together- if one get’s sick, they all get sick so they always use antibiotics- plus, these fish just bring disease to fish in the wild too.

Is recycling really worth it?

This recycling morality may be running its course. People feel virtuous doing it, but from everything I read about its effectiveness, it may not be worth the effort. Anyway there seems to be no way to make it a profitable business. A lot of stuff goes to landfill sites in the end, and some countries were even shipping their debris over to other countries, until finally China, and maybe other recipient countries, refused to accept it. So what is left to do with our materialistic residue? I don’t know. Stop buying things? But we won’t. (Tell the truth: Will you?)