Fake Meat is so Much Better

The new alternatives to meat like the Beyond Burger are remarkably better for the environment than processed animals. This is found by a research team at the University of Michigan who looked into the carbon footprint of different processed hamburger patties (veggie and meat). They found that one Beyond Burger patty has a carbon footprint of 400g, whereas the same sized beef patty has a footprint of 3,700g. Reducing your carbon footprint by making tiny changes to your diet is getting easier every year.

Production of the dominant ingredients – pea protein, canola oil, coconut oil – represent important contributions to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE), energy use and land use. Packaging also is an important contributor across all impact categories: the polypropylene tray is the largest contributor to packaging’s share of GHGE, energy use, and water use, whereas fiber production for cardboard and pallets make notable contributions to land use. We estimate that switching to a polypropylene tray made of 100% postconsumer recycled content could reduce the overall GHGE of the BB life cycle by 2% and reduce energy use by 10%.

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Mental Health Workers are Better than Cops

Sending mental health workers as first responders to mental health issues is way better than sending workers with other specialities. This may sound obvious, but for decades in the USA and Canada we’ve been sending police (armed with guns) to help people in distress. Some cities in the USA have reallocated police funding to social workers with great success, and thanks to the efforts of movements like BLM more cities are following suit. New York City is one such city and unsurprisingly their results are similar to other cities where police have been defunded.

The movement to defund the police, then put those funds into social services is clearly working.

In 95% of cases, people accepted care from the B-HEARD team, data from the city shows. That’s compared with 82% for traditional 911 response teams, which include police. 

Additionally, 50% of people treated by B-HEARD were transported to the hospital for more care, a far lower number than the 82% who are transported to the hospital with traditional 911 response.

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Shorter Work Weeks Work

work and smile

Working less is better for everyone involved, including the employer. Iceland just ran a multi year experiment from 2015-19 to find out if a four day work week would damage productivity or improve it. Unsurprisingly, productivity didn’t go down and in some jobs it even went up. Tell your boss you should only work four days a week!

The trials led unions to renegotiate working patterns, and now 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay, or will gain the right to, the researchers said.

Workers reported feeling less stressed and at risk of burnout, and said their health and work-life balance had improved. They also reported having more time to spend with their families, do hobbies and complete household chores. 

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said: “This study shows that the world’s largest ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success.

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The Suburbs Are Bad, Here’s How to Make Them Good

the suburbs

We need to change the way we build and live if we’re going to avert catastrophic climate change, and it’s time we think about the biggest carbon offender: the suburbs. Suburban living is car-centric, energy intensive due to the design of the houses, more expensive to maintain due to low density, and embodies other problematic issues. It may sound like a daunting task to switch the suburbs from an unsustainable system to a sustainable one, but that’s exactly what people are trying to do.

According to new research published last week by Teicher and two colleagues, if the trend away from downtown cores continues, it is essential to urgently refocus some of the effort to fight climate change from cities to suburbia.

While the authors still believe urban densification is better for the environment, their paper — titled Climate Solutions to Meet the Suburban Surge: Leveraging COVID-19 recovery to enhance suburban climate governance — addresses the reality that in both Canada and the United States, the trend toward sprawl will be hard to stop.

The only pragmatic solution, Teicher said in an interview on Friday, is to develop policy to mitigate the worst impacts of suburban and exurban sprawl.

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Experimenting on Digital Twins Helps us Understand Reality

construction

It’s hard to predict the future, but with enough data we can at least get better at it. That’s exactly what digital twins are all about. By using as much real world data as possible to model out anything from a building, to a person, to a city in a digital space we can run simulations on what can work best for the real world counterpart. Of course, since simulations are only as good as the data source (and how we process the data) there are limits to effectiveness of digital twins; still, the idea that we can effectively model solutions and their potential outcomes in higher fidelity is appealing.

With the rise of the internet of things, sensor technology is increasingly being installed in our homes and workplaces, as well as the physical infrastructure that surrounds us. Meanwhile, cloud computing makes it easier than ever for data to be shared across different devices and networks.

As a result, businesses and other organisations have been able to build up huge volumes of data. Not all of this is private either – online sources such as the London Datastore are making live data readily available to anyone who wants to use it.

“We see digital twins as a way of improving decision making,” Hayes told Dezeen.

“A city is effectively a system of systems – water, electricity, housing, schools, hospitals, prisons, natural environment – it all fits together,” she said. “When you start to connect the datasets from these digital twins, you can build a bird’s eye view of a city, which gives you better information about the consequences of your decisions.”

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