House Eating Mushrooms are Good for the Planet

the suburbs

For the last one hundred years in North America we’ve been building low density energy inefficient housing and now we need to deal with the economic and environmental harm from this approach. In Cleveland they are using mushrooms to deal with housing that is no longer habitable while also cleaning the local environment. Cleveland has a lot of homes left to the elements which are leaking dangerous chemicals into the soil, to address this there’s a company that takes the shreds of a building and converts into a great spot for mycelium to grow. It’s a very novel use of fungi and I’m sure we’ll see more fungi being used to address climate change at a local and even global level.

While digesting entire houses may seem like a mighty task for the humble mushroom, some species’ ability to devour waste and eradicate pollutants – among other characteristics – means they present an oversized opportunity to extract harmful toxins from both our built and natural environments. Along the way they may help to address a spectrum of additional ecological concerns. This is the emerging field of mycoremediation, which researchers assert could also create a “circular bioeconomy” in which less waste and contaminants are produced in the first place.

Its applications are abundant. In Delhi, India, the hope is that fungi will help to clean the infamously polluted air. In New Zealand, mushrooms have been used to filter oil from a canal. Operating across Europe, the LIFE MySOIL project has leveraged mycoremediation to reduce Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in soil by 90% spanning three pilot sites. The list goes on.

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Thanks to Mike!

Brazilian City Planting Mangroves to Protect Itself Against Climate Change

Down in Brazil there’s a city in that is increasing the size of their local mangrove forest to protect itself against raising seas and more intense storms. Mangrove forests are excellent at buffering against storms due to their root systems (and that trees in general are good at slowing storms) and how they start beyond the shore line which reduces coastal erosion. The Greater Florianópolis of Brazil’s program to expand their mangroves is improving the local environment while also helping the city’s coastal economy, it;s a win-win.

As a bonus, mangroves are really good at capturing carbon and putting it in the soil so everyone on earth benefits when Brazilians increase their mangroves.

Master’s students are currently comparing the potential for carbon sequestration and storage in natural mangroves and those growing in the landfills of the Greater Florianópolis area. To do this, they’ve collected soil samples from four mangrove areas: two natural ones and two from the artificially created landfills.

The study aims to find out whether mangroves in the latter, human-generated ecosystem have the same carbon-absorbing capacity as natural ones. “Mangrove soil has a high carbon storage capacity, which is why we chose to focus our main analysis on soil rather than roots and leaves,” says Aline Zanetti, a master’s student working on the project.

Mangroves accumulate 50-90% of their carbon in the soil. The waterlogged soil gives rise to a low-oxygen environment, which means that the organic matter that piles up here — leaves, branches, dead animals — don’t decompose as quickly as they would in the open air, thus keeping the carbon they hold in the soil for longer. It’s this waterlogged property that makes coastal ecosystems much more effective carbon sinks than terrestrial forests. For their study, the researchers will also collect samples of mangrove roots to see if there’s a difference in the carbon stock potential of created and natural mangrove roots.

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Get Your City to Experiment With Joy

Table of contents of the Joy Experiments book

A new book wants you to make your city a better place by brining joy into the equation. In The Joy Experiments the authors who work in real estate and architecture argue that we need to have more fun and levity in our cities. In this easy to read book they explore ways they and others have improved their cities through seemingly simple interventions. What’s more – they break down their book into useful chapters (see image above) that you can jump around and read as you like, just like a well-designed city.

Our divided society is quicky reaching crisis level.

We are no longer able to sustain social and economic prosperity nor ensure democracy. Fuelling this crisis is a growing sense of social isolation caused by the divisive nature of social media and the decline of infrastructure that used to bring communities together.

But there is hope for rebuilding our collaborative society, and it is found in our mid-sized urban areas. These towns and cities offer a scale that can tangibly change the quality of our lives and an intimacy that allows us to influence what our communities can become.

Changing cities can change the world!

In The JOY Experiments, real estate developer Scott Higgins and creative mind Paul Kalbfleisch use their own mid-sized city-building experiences to present a new way for citizens to engage with their city and an urban planning strategy that prioritizes infrastructure for the human spirit.

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Greenhouse Gases Now Count as Maritime Pollution

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has ruled the greenhouse gas emissions can count towards damage to our oceans. Small island nations have praised the ruling because they are the most threatened by raising sea levels and the boiling of local waters. The ruling also shows how science can inform policy in a meaningful way because the court clearly understood how oceans absorb our emissions over time and lead to acidification and other problems.

This ruling is merely a step towards better protections of our common waters and it will only mean smoother sailing for future efforts.

What happened today was that the law and science met together in this tribunal, and both won,” said Cheryl Bazard, ambassador to the European Union of the Bahamas, one of nine Caribbean and Pacific island nations that sought the opinion.

Small island nations with scant economic power but acutely vulnerable to climate change have long felt neglected by successive global summits where pledges to cut carbon emissions have fallen far short of the minimum for limiting the worst effects of global warming.

A similar potential precedent was laid down last month, when the European Court of Human Rights agreed with plaintiffs who argued that Switzerland was violating their human rights by not doing enough to combat climate warming.

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mRNA Vaccine Used to Fight Brain Tumour

Brain tumours are scary and very difficult to deal with, current treatments include invasive surgery and/or radiation. The advent of mRNA based vaccines is making a difference in how we can treat various brain cancers and the early results are looking promising. A team just found a way to get the body’s immune system to start to find and address cancer within the brain. While the results are not yet usable the outlook is very promising.

“The demonstration that making an mRNA cancer vaccine in this fashion generates similar and strong responses across mice, pet dogs that have developed cancer spontaneously and human patients with brain cancer is a really important finding, because oftentimes we don’t know how well the preclinical studies in animals are going to translate into similar responses in patients,” said Duane Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program and a co-author of the paper. “And while mRNA vaccines and therapeutics are certainly a hot topic since the COVID pandemic, this is a novel and unique way of delivering the mRNA to generate these really significant and rapid immune responses that we’re seeing across animals and humans.”

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