Sustainability Reads: June 23- June 29

New Study Adds Up the Benefits of Climate-Smart Development in Lives, Jobs, and GDP
This study looks at climate-smart development projects to see how government actions can “boost economic performance and benefit lives, jobs, crops, energy, and GDP, as well as emission reductions to combat climate change.” The study looks at projects that range from landfills that use waste-to-energy technology in Brazil to changes in transportation policy in Europe. The study is important because it outlines the economic and environmental benefits of choosing development projects with a concentrated effort to reduce GHG emissions and “makes the case for actions that save lives, create jobs, grow economies and, at the same time, slow the rate of climate change.” Published by the World Bank.

Food Companies Rally to Protect Bees, While Pesticide Giants Dispute the evidence
U.S. honey bee colonies are declining by an annual rate of 30 percent due to pesticides, parasites and habitat loss. This is a big deal: ‘since bees and other pollinators are needed for more than two-thirds of all crop species, the lives of bees and humans are intricately connected.’ Furthermore, the decline in bee populations is already affecting crops such as almonds in California with farms bringing in outside bees to get the job done. The NGO Xerces Society is working to protect bees and receives support from  Whole Foods, General Mills, Burt’s Bees, Boiron, Annie’s, Cascadian Farm, Celestial Seasonings and Talenti. However, big pesticide companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, and Syngenta continue to deny link between pesticides and declining bee populations. By Sarah Lozanova on TriplePundit.

Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States
Unlikely partnership between Michael R. Bloomberg (Independent, Business man, Ex NYC mayor), Henry Paulson (Republican, former U.S. Treasury Secretary under G.W.Bush), and Tom Steyer (Democrat, Hedge fund manager turned climate activist) coordinated a study of the economic effects of climate change in the U.S. Study was conducted through the Rhodium Group, just released this week, and here are some stats:

  • Large-scale losses of coastal property and infrastructure: by 2050 between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of existing coastal property will likely be below sea level nationwide
  • Extreme heat across the nation: especially in the Southwest, Southeast, and Upper Midwest—threatening labor productivity, human health, and energy systems
  • Shifting agricultural patterns and crop yields: likely gains for Northern farmers offset by losses in the Midwest and South. Some states in the Southeast, lower Great Plains, and Midwest risk up to a 50% to 70% loss in average annual crop yields (corn, soy, cotton, and wheat), absent agricultural adaptation.

5 Products We can Make from Carbon So It Doesn’t Go into the Atmosphere
We all agree on the need to reduce CO2 emissions and capture what we can. But why capture and store carbon when you can use it for something? Active projects highlighted as part of competition on what to do with carbon:

1.) Fuels: Create methanol from CO2 and waste water through a process similar to photosynthesis; methanol can be used as a fuel

2.) Wastewater treatment: Create an electrochemical cell that uses CO2 to desalinate wastewater

3.) Concrete: Use Co2 created from cement plants and use it during the curing process for making concrete

4.) Fertilizer: CO2 to produce ammonium sulphate fertilizer and precipitated calcium carbonate, a product used in the paper industry

5.) Graphine: Process in the works to take CO2 and react it with graphite to form graphene (material used for many purposes). Ben Schiller on Coexist.

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