Mars Terraforming Earth

coffee and chocolate

Mars, the company behind popular chocolate bars like Snickers and Twix has pledged $1 billion dollars to fight climate change. This isn’t a company randomly pledging money to help communities or specific issues address climate change, instead they are focussing on themselves. Mars is the largest chocolate maker on the planet and are looking at ways that they can save the planet (and money) by changing what’s happening in their supply chain. Already the company has invested in renewable energy for their production facilities.

Although, some might claim this is just to stop their chocolate bars from melting.

Mars, the maker of Snickers, Twix, and M&Ms, has pledged to invest $1 billion over the next few years to fight climate change. The sustainability drive includes investment in renewable energy, food sourcing, cross-industry action groups, and farmers.
Barry Parkin, Mars’ Chief Sustainability Officer, warned that the consequences of inaction include “more extreme weather events…causing significant challenges and hardships in specific places around the world, whether that’s oceans rising or crops not growing successfully.” “We believe in the scientific view of climate science and the need for collective action,” he added.

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Wind Power: One of the Cheapest Sources of Energy

wind turbine

Sustainable and renewable energy sources continue to get more cost effective when compared to fossil fuel based energy. This is fantastic since the economics of scale are really kicking into effect around solar and wind technology. Thanks to better and more production wind turbines have become more effective and energy grids have gotten more capable of incorporating the inconsistent energy production.

Improvements in wind turbine design have not only helped to increase the maximum power they can produce (or their generating capacity), but also their capacity factor, a measure of how often they actually produce energy. The average capacity factor of projects installed in 2014 and 2015 was over 40 percent — meaning they produced 40 percent of the maximum possible energy they could produce if it were very windy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As the exceptionally low price of U.S. wind energy drives further wind farm installations, it will be interesting to see how U.S. grid operators manage the challenge of integrating wind energy with the rest of the grid. So far, at least, they’ve been successful. But policymakers and regulators should be cognizant of the need for new transmission capacity and other grid upgrades to integrate wind as more turbines are installed in more places. Identifying the lowest cost investments to integrate the most renewable energy is not a simple task — but it will become increasingly vital as renewables throw off the “alternative energy” label and become a major contributor to the U.S. electricity supply.

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Berlin, Sponge City

Germany’s capital is becoming a sponge to stop flooding. It might seem counterintuitive to want to gather more water in order to stay dry, but that’s exactly the plan. Currently the city of Houston is suffering some of the worst flooding that its ever seen thanks largely to poor planning around water (like using highways to channel water). Berlin wants to avoid such trauma by working with water than against it.

The idea is simple and practical: do what nature does and store water in plants.

Germany’s Transition Away From Coal Helped Jobs and Culture

industry

For years Germany’s transition from coal to sustainable energy has impacted communities. Many feared that jobs would be lost during this transition so plans were put in place to help workers and communities transition too. Throughout the Rhine valley coal plants have been closed down and their place new sustainable energy jobs have popped up alongside new places for arts and culture. The removal of coal power has brought a tourism boom amongst other successes.

The mines themselves have even become a cultural stage. A museum and gallery at Zollverein attracts over 250,000 visitors a year, and several other mines host music concerts, food and cultural festivals. In the nearby city of Bochum, an old industrial plant — now the site of the German Mining Museum — is surrounded with stately homes flanked by lush gardens. The change hasn’t gone unnoticed; the Ruhr was officially named Europe’s cultural capital in 2010.

The Ruhr also has become attractive for businesses to invest, say Switala. Zollverein, like many former mines, is now also home to several businesses. Artists, jewelry designers, choreographers, design firms and tourism companies are just a sampling of those who have made the trendy industrial space their home.

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Thanks to Delaney!

China Launches Major Effort to Clean Its Water

Water

China’s amazing economic growth came at the expensive of the natural environment (amongst other pains) which the country is now trying to revitalize. The country is literally paying the price of not having good environmental protecting policies, let this be a lesson to other countries that good policy can prevent a lot of bad things.

China spent $100 billion in the first half of 2017 to clean its waterways and update policies. Indeed, stricter rules have been in place around water management and new equipment has been installed to clean water. There have been over 8,000 water clean up projects launched this year! This is a massive effort that is good to see in a country that for too long neglected the environment.

With China desperate to increase supplies to guarantee future food and energy security, it promised in 2015 to make significant improvements in its major waterways and curb untreated wastewater from highly polluting sectors like mining, steelmaking, textiles, printing and oil refining.

In a bid to protect rural water supplies, China also identified 636,000 square kilometers (246,000 square miles) of land that would be made off limits to animal husbandry, and it shut 213,000 livestock and poultry farms in the first six months.

The ministry also said 809 new household sewage treatment facilities were built in the first half, but the regions of Tianjin, Jiangxi, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Xinjiang, Hubei and Guangdong were behind schedule, it said.

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