How Chicago Brings Back Wild Nature Into the City

When thinking of Chicago you probably think of its famous architecture, and rightly so. In the future you may think of Chicago’s reclaimed land and eco-conscious landscaping. In the last few decades the city has covered rail yards and car parking with natural features (and art!), built new waterfronts where an airport used to be, and are currently expanding their riverwalk to include more natural features. The city’s skyline is a real treat and now so is the pedestrian realm.

Cities around the globe are looking to restore native ecologies, turning back the clock on the destructive landscape practices of past few centuries. The same is true for Chicago, which has a number of experiments along its shores to unbuild the city and find the most effective practices for doing so. In this video, we walk to a few of these sites and explore their techniques for unbuilding the city in order to give it back to nature. The five sites are: Northerly Island, the Field Museum, Millennium Park, the River Walk, and the Wild Mile. We look at each closely to see just how their before and after reveals changing attitudes toward living with nature.

NASA Starts Spotting Super Methane Emitters

Natural gas, AKA methane, is really bad for the planet, and since it occurs some places “naturally” we need to find these new sources to stop them emitting. A classic example of “natural” methane production is a garbage dump in which the organic compounds mix together and release natural gas, another example is cattle farming (cow farts).

NASA now has a satellite that can detect and therefore monitor these sources of methane. This is really important for two reason: it allows us to better model climate change since we can detect unaccounted for natural gas sources and the other reason is that we can then go and shutdown these previously unrecognized sources.

“Reining in methane emissions is key to limiting global warming. This exciting new development will not only help researchers better pinpoint where methane leaks are coming from, but also provide insight on how they can be addressed — quickly,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

Green and other EMIT team members gave some examples of the instrument’s sensitivity during the Tuesday media call. For example, the instrument detected a plume of methane — also known as natural gas — at least 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) long in the sky above an Iranian landfill. This newfound super-emitter is pumping about 18,700 pounds (8,500 kilograms) of methane into the air every hour, the researchers said.

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Only a Small Number of People Need to Change to Avert Climate Destruction

private jet during sunset

You’re not the problem! The problem is the 1%.

Our global carbon footprint has risen dramatically since 1990, but only a few people are to blame for the worst of it. The wealthy have been increasing their carbon output without regard for anybody on the planet (or future generations). Reducing their carbon output is simple and easy, many ideas have been put on this very site. As always, we need politicians brave enough to stand up for the majority of people.

He finds that per-capita emissions of the top 1% of emitters in the world grew by 26% over 1990-2019. The top 0.01% saw an even larger rise of 80%. Meanwhile, the bottom half of emitters saw a more modest 16% increase in per-capita emissions. And the “lower- and middle-income groups of the rich countries” saw a drop in per capita emissions of 5-15%.

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Leaf Blowers Getting Blown Away

Leave your leaves alone! Leaf blowers, like lawn mowers, are counterproductive to a productive piece of land. If you want a better, healthier, garden next year then you should let leaves lie over winter instead of blowing them away (the same is true for lawns, but you probably don’t have a lawn anyway). If a healthy land isn’t why you stop using leaf blowers then you may find your local municipality banning them for a variety of reasons. Indeed, in Toronto’s mayoral race Gil Penalosa wants to ban them city-wide, just like any world class city already do.

The American Lung Association recommends electric leaf blowers over gas-powered ones because “old two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices. They can pollute the air even more than cars, though engines sold since 2011 are cleaner.”

According to a study from Washington University, in addition to air pollution, when heat and sunlight react with nitrogen oxides and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)emitted from combustion engines—such as gas-powered leaf blowers—ozone becomes a problem.

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Farm Fields of Solar Produce Bonuses

Solar panels on grass

In the UK the average person wants to get off fossil fuels, but the Conservatives in power want the opposite. Obviously this is not good, and it gets worse: the new PM Liz Truss wants to ban solar panels on farms, Conservatives clearly don’t understand how the world works.

The good news comes from research proving that agrivoltaics (agriculture + solar voltaic panels) are a boon to farmers. Solar panels on farms are good for revenue for farms, renewable energy, and the very crops farms are growing. Yes, solar panels on farm increase crop production!

One study found certain peppers will have three times the production,” said Bousselot. “That’s a shocking number.”

As global temperatures rise, the panels can also help to conserve dwindling freshwater supplies by reducing evaporation from both plants and soil.

What evaporation does occur underneath the panels has the added benefit of cooling the PVs and boosting their electricity production, according to Randle-Boggis, a research associate at the University of Sheffield.

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