Kelp Could be the Carbon Capture King

Water

The simple kelp plant could help us suck carbon out of the air in large quantities, and if so then we need more kelp – and fast! Kelp is a seaweed that naturally grows up to two feet per day, which puts it on a similar growth rate to algae which is similar and we’ve looked at before as a carbon sink. Kelp is so good at using carbon that a startup is currently creating a kelp factory that functions as an industrial carbon-removal service.

The company produces groupings of kelp that float on water and absorb carbon, when they get heavy enough the groupings fall to the ocean floor. It’s an imperfect idea and still being tested, but we must remember that climate change will be addressed by thousands of little solutions and not one grand gesture.

At its core, carbon removal is “a mass-transfer problem,” Marty Odlin, Running Tide’s CEO, told me. The key issue is how to move the hundreds of gigatons of carbon emitted by fossil fuels from the “fast cycle,” where carbon flits from fossil fuels to the air to plant matter, back to the “slow cycle,” where they remain locked away in geological storage for millennia. “How do you move that?” Odlin said. “What’s the most efficient way possible to accomplish that mass transfer?” The question is really, really important. The United Nations recently said that carbon removal is “essential” to remedying climate change, but so far, we don’t have the technology to do it cheaply and at scale.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions of American Diet Almost Halved

A simple diet change reduced diet-related greenhouse gas emissions of American adults between 2003 and 2018. The carobon footprint of their diets fell from 4 kilograms of CO2 equivalent to 2.45 kg CO2e over the 15 year study period. All it took was a slight reduction in meat consumption.

As an individual one of the biggest things you can do in the face of climate change is to change your diet. It’s easy and saves you money!

The main reason for this decline emerged clearly in the data: over this same period, daily beef consumption plummeted by an average 40% per person, which accounted for nearly half of the diet-related dip in emissions. But it wasn’t just beef: the data showed a slow shift away from all animal-based foods, including dairy, eggs, chicken, and pork—all of which US citizens gradually consumed less of in 2018 than 2003. 

This overall shift away from meat occurred slowly but steadily: on average, the food-related carbon footprint of US consumers declined by 127 grams each year of the study period.

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Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign Wants You to Vote

vote sign

Canada’s most populous province goes to the polls in a few weeks, and climate should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Politicians are talking about the increased costs of living, but they aren’t connecting that to the ruling Conservative Party’s anti-climate actions. Energy costs are up because they ended renewable power contracts early, revenue is down because they left the carbon market (and paid a billion to do so), so the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign wants to change that.

If you live in Ontario then check out what you can do to get politicians talking about the biggest issue of our time.

As you may know, the latest IPCC report in April said we must peak emissions by 2025 and nearly halve emissions by 2030 to have a chance at a 1.5 degree world. You may also know that we play an outsized role here in Canada–we are among the top three global emitters per capita and among the top ten emitters in absolute terms, which doesn’t even count the emissions from the fossil fuels we export. That means this next Ontario government is going to play a critical role in doing our part to limit climate destruction. And the good news is that climate action is good for health! We will reduce air pollution related illness, increase access to green space and nature, and increase access to public transit and active transportation.

Our campaign’s first action is out and ready to go, and I would so appreciate your participation. Go to this page to send a message to all your local candidates about this critical emergency, and tell your family and friends to do the same.

Take action now!

Thanks to Samantha!

Let’s Green the Gaming Industry

computer screen

Games are fun and we should play more of them! That being said, we should also be conscious of the impact our technological-driven gaming has on the environment. Ben Abraham recently launched a new project called Greening the Game Industry to promote the concept of sustainable gaming. The project stems from his work on a very good book, Digital Games After Climate Change, and he hopes to get more people thinking about ways gaming companies can better respect the environment.

One of the best ways to reduce your impact in any industry is to buy second hand and use things to their end of their life. Thus, the thinking of a “patient gamer” is one we should all follow.

The initiative is called the “Games Consoles EU Self-Regulatory Agreement”, and I won’t go into the details of self-regulation but suffice to say most of what you need to know is right there in the name. This is not the EU trying to bring energy-profligate console manufacturers to heel, and is more like a simple mechanism to get them all to the table to see what stuff they already agree on and can codify into some (not even particularly binding) rules of the road. It is also not really a climate-focussed initiative, at least not primarily, which might work backwards from the known impact of the industry and/or a given constraint and say ‘you can use this much no more’ (and there are substantial barriers, practical and conceptual, to being able to do that yet anyway). Since the EU already has rules about “vampire power”, or the power consumed when switched off or in standby.

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Sydney Scientist Sorts SIDS

pollinator

Thanks to the tireless efforts of a scientist in Sydney we now know a key factor that causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The worst thing that can happen to parents is an unexplained passing of their baby, as a result parents are constantly concerned that their child may fall victim to SIDS. Knowing what works to prevent SIDS will bring relief to parents and save infants.

The butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) enzyme is lower in babies who suffered SIDS than other babies. Knowing this connection means infants can be screened for now and a solution will be easier to find in the future.

“Now that we know that BChE is involved, we can begin to change the outcome for these babies and make SIDS a thing of the past.”

It is hoped the finding could lead to the development of a screening test in a few years’ time.

Hailed as a “game-changer” to “every parent’s worst nightmare”, the discovery of BChE also provides answers to parents, like Dr Harrington, whose healthy babies died “on their watch”.

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