186 results for “Green Blues”

Electric cars might not yet be green, but we should buy them anyway

Ranald Boydell
December 4th 2019

Transforming the way we travel is an essential part of tackling the climate crisis. The transport sector contributes about 20% of global carbon emissions. In the UK the figure is 33%, and the country has made virtually no progress in reducing emissions from transport. In many countries, they’re actually increasing.

Electric vehicles are often hailed as the solution to this quandary, but some question their environmental credentials. With much of the world’s electricity still produced from fossil fuels, the criticism …

Why electric cars should be allowed to drive faster

Van Mensvoort
December 4th 2019

In response to the nitrogen crisis, the Dutch cabinet is planning to reduce the speed limit during the day to 100 kph. In itself a sensible decision. But it is strange that this measure also affects motorists who cause no nitrogen emissions whatsoever. A missed opportunity to reward sustainable actions. That's why we started a petition. We want a separate lane for electric cars where 130 km/h is allowed. Sign if you agree with us.

Before I explain why we …

This artwork lets trees tell the story of climate change

Linda Valenta
December 18th 2018

In our ongoing battle against climate change, it's hard to transcend from our human position and ‘think’ like nature. Given, nature doesn't think the way humans do, but it does act upon the environmental changes that occur. Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker anticipated on this behaviour and enables trees themselves, to tell the pressing issue of climate change - narrated in a way for humans to understand.…

Your Next Nature guide to Unseen 2018: When Records Melt

Meike Schipper
September 10th 2018

Images largely shape our experience of reality. Just consider how imagery of nature continues to rise in popularity: only a society no longer grounded in their natural landscape is able to treat such a scenery as art.

Longing for a nature long lost, we instead immersive ourselves in paintings to appreciate the quality of untouched landscapes, we simulate snowfall for skiing experience, and we keep a piece of glacier ice as a relic of a different time. These natural and …

#French [Green] DreamTowers

Alec Schellinx
June 18th 2018

FrenchDreamTowers is an eco-friendly high-rise complex imagined by Paris-based architect studio XTU, for the city of Hangzhou in Southern China.

Currently under study, the project is c around XTU’s ‘bio-facade’ technology; that is glass panels coated with a layer of micro-algae. The extra layer of algae will provide natural insulation and further absorbs carbon dioxide while producing oxygen in the process.

In turn, this will contribute to offsetting the environmental impact of the sculptural glass construction. Each tower will host …

How this self-sustainable microhome may change the future of housing

Belen Munoz
March 2nd 2018

Looking for a self-sustainable mobile microhome? Ecocapsule got you covered. This cute-as-pie capsule pod allows you to live completely off the grid in a low-energy, mobile dwelling, packed into a compact egg-shaped form. And now, it's finally possible to pre-order one, as the Slovak company has just launched the production of their first series of self-sustainable pods, and we were curious to hear what's next.

Turning cities into parks: In conversation with Raymond Brouwers on Urban Street Forests

Jack Caulfield
February 22nd 2018

Urban neighborhoods with high-rise concrete buildings are often dreary and gray. Therefore, the Urban Street Forest project aims to color our cities with the planting of vertical forests by planting trees on the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings, involving local people, shops and organizations. We recently sat down with Raymond Brouwers, co-initiator of the project, to learn more about this hopeful initiative.…

Chernobyl goes green: The ambitious plan to reclaim a nuclear disaster site

Jack Caulfield
February 5th 2018

Chernobyl is famous as the site of the worst nuclear power accidents in history. The 1986 disaster has come to represent the perils of nuclear energy, much as Hiroshima represents the danger of nuclear weapons. But some think Chernobyl needn't only be a negative example. An enormous dome was placed over the reactor in 2016 to seal in radiation. Now, an ambitious new plan is in place to start generating energy at Chernobyl again. But don't worry - this time, …

Counteracting Climate Change with Geoengineering

Jack Caulfield
January 23rd 2018
A respected astrobiologist argues that a radical new process called geoengineering might be the only way to save us from climate change.

ReTuna: the Shopping Mall Selling Nothing but Recycled Products

Jack Caulfield
January 18th 2018
A Swedish shopping center is bucking the trend of mindless consumption. At the ReTuna Återbruksgalleria every product is made of recycled materials.
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Transforming the way we travel is an essential part of tackling the climate crisis. The transport sector contributes about 20% of global carbon emissions. In the UK the figure is 33%, and the country has made virtually no progress in reducing emissions from transport. In many countries, they’re actually increasing.

Electric vehicles are often hailed as the solution to this quandary, but some question their environmental credentials. With much of the world’s electricity still produced from fossil fuels, the criticism goes that EVs may actually be responsible for more carbon emissions over their lifetime than combustion engine vehicles.

As German economics professor Hans-Werner Sinn put it in a recent controversial article, all we are doing is transferring carbon emissions “from the exhaust pipe to the power plant”.

The assumptions underlying these claims are questionable. But even if true, this line of argument misses a key point. The car we choose to buy today directly influences the future of our energy system. Choose a combustion-powered vehicle and we lock in ongoing fossil fuel use. Choose an electric vehicle and we support the switch to a zero carbon society.

Due in large part to the high carbon-cost of EV batteries, the manufacturing process for an electric vehicle causes more carbon emissions than for a combustion engine vehicle. This means that the source of electricity used during the life of an EV is critical in determining how eco-friendly they are.

The proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources is increasing fast. TEOH JIN THONG/Shutterstock

While two thirds of the world’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, this proportion is decreasing rapidly. At least four countries are already at or close to being powered entirely by renewable electricity: Iceland, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Norway. Brazil is one of the ten largest economies in the world and they are at 75% renewable electricity. In the UK, the proportion of electricity provided by fossil fuels has halved over the last decade and is currently about 40%.

As the transition towards renewable electricity progresses, so too will the carbon footprint of EVs keep decreasing in step. This means that the superiority in carbon cost that electric vehicles already have over combustion vehicles, even if narrow now, will widen in the years to come.

Influencing the future

The electricity transition is only half the story. The production and purchase of new combustion vehicles locks in dependence on fossil fuel use for the life of that vehicle – just short of 14 years on average in the UK.

Retrofitting combustion engines to use hydrogen or biofuel is an option in theory, but its an expensive one which is probably more applicable to heavy vehicles than cars. Mass use of hydrogen would also require an entirely new and complex distribution system for a gas that is hard to make and store efficiently. Biofuel could use existing infrastructure, but would require vast swathes of agricultural land to satisfy demand.

If the number of fossil-fuel powered cars on the road stays high, it will be difficult to make serious headway in reducing transport emissions. In contrast, switching to EVs transfers energy demand from the transport sector to the electricity sector, allowing countries to more readily tackle the carbon cost of travel.

Progress in doing so is of course dependent on the speed at which industry and government decarbonise their energy supply. But the technology already exists to shed the grid’s reliance on fossil fuels, and many countries have committed to do so by 2050 or sooner. The distribution grid also already exists – we just need to install charging stations.

Electric vehicles can be plugged into mains power at home overnight, allowing owners to save on bills. ganzoben/Shutterstock

And in choosing where they source their electricity from, consumers are able to exert much greater influence on the energy transition than the present transport system that locks them into high-carbon lifestyles. Given that renewable electricity tariffs are already among the cheapest available, this could be a particularly potent force for decarbonisation.

Grid burden

The scale of the transition from combustion to electricity-powered transport is huge. Average household electricity demand could double once EV charging is included, and this will place extra strain on both the grid and energy bills.

But this burden can be cushioned by careful use of technology. For example, cars can be charged overnight when there is surplus capacity, and there are already special energy tariffs to encourage this. Spare electricity from car batteries could also be redirected to the grid when demand is at its peak, making EVs “virtual power plants” that can offset increases in household energy bills.

Of course, producing any large industrial product results in some negative environmental impacts. The mining of lithium for EV batteries is polluting and depletes water supplies, in turn harming wildlife and compromising local livelihoods. Ultimately, the best way to reduce the carbon and pollution costs of transport is to make and use less cars, which means that expanding car sharing and improving public transport are essential.

But for those cars that we do use, EVs are the least bad option. The switch to electric vehicles needs to be seen as part of a broader shift in the way society is organised to tackle the climate crisis. That requires consumers, industry, and government to all play their part in creating a carbon-free future.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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In response to the nitrogen crisis, the Dutch cabinet is planning to reduce the speed limit during the day to 100 kph. In itself a sensible decision. But it is strange that this measure also affects motorists who cause no nitrogen emissions whatsoever. A missed opportunity to reward sustainable actions. That's why we started a petition. We want a separate lane for electric cars where 130 km/h is allowed. Sign if you agree with us.

Before I explain why we should keep the speed limit at 130 kph for drivers of electric cars, a confession: I don’t own an electric car myself.

I pretty much always take the train. It’s a comfortable option and you can spend the journey reading or working. I do still own (blush) an old-fashioned gas-powered car. I’ve had it for six years, and I still regret not opting for an electric car at the time. You know the arguments: too expensive, too small a radius of action, the car I liked only came in a gas variant. The consumer in me defeated the citizen. So it often goes.

As citizens we have high-minded ideas about a better society. Then we walk into a shop and buy things totally at odds with our ideals. Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with this particular human flaw.

What the government can do

This is where the government can give the citizen a push in the right direction. How? By inviting the consumer to behave in a way that contributes to a better society. This is already happening. When I want to park my gas car, there’s never a convenient spot besides the charging stations reserved for electric cars.

Good for them, I think. These people have made a more sustainable choice than I have, and they should be rewarded. If I’m soon to be sped past at 130 kph, I can feel bitter towards the rich showoffs in the fast lane. Or I can bear in mind that these investors in the energy transition have earned their fun.

A positive step in the energy transition

When a new technology is introduced, it’s always more expensive than the existing options at first. The first flat-screen televisions were only affordable for millionaires, because the investments made into new factories had to be earned back.

That lasts a few years, and then the price falls and the product becomes affordable for everyone. I see rich people prefer a Tesla to a Ferrari. Let’s encourage that. Besides, a fully electric second-hand Nissan Leaf costs €8500. I could afford that, and when I look around me on the highway, I suspect that plenty of other motorists could too.

Granted, electric cars are not perfect. Wear and tear on the tires still produces fine dust. Driving fast consumes more energy. If that energy is supplied by coal-fired power stations, CO2 emissions are still involved. And that’s without going into the conditions in the lithium mines—plus the energy costs of producing the batteries. You could lose hope thinking about it all. Staying in bed is more sustainable.

But the question remains: is the glass half empty or half full?

Answer: half full.

Electric cars are a positive step in the energy transition, which must be encouraged. Elsewhere that’s already happening. In Austria, electric cars adhere to a speed limit of 130 kph, while 100 kph is the norm for others. In Norway, electric cars can drive in bus lanes. Even Uber encourages its drivers to go electric. Why wouldn’t the Dutch government do the same? Maybe it’s something to do with our Calvinist mentality?

Sustainability should be rewarded

Sustainability is often equated with cutting down, austerity, stringency. That is an error. We think about it one-sidedly, in terms of crime and punishment, when we should be thinking in terms of possibilities, smart solutions and circularity.

There is an unbelievable amount of energy available on Earth, and right now we only harvest and utilize a tiny proportion of it. How absurd is it that humanity continues to generate most of its energy from the burning of coal, which releases CO2 that contributes to climate change, while a gigantic power plant floats in space at a safe distance?

I hope that future generations can laugh about it and do better.

The sun is a nuclear fusion reactor with an output of 380 million million million million watts. That’s equal to 10 million oil barrels per second, per world citizen. Even though only a small proportion of this energy reaches the Earth, this proportion is still 9000 times the current energy requirements of all 7.7 billion people on Earth combined.

If we’re smart enough to put more of the available energy to work for us in a sustainable way, a bright beautiful world full of abundance awaits us. That costs time, that costs money, we’re still a long way off, and the journey will be full of ups and downs. The nitrogen crisis is not called a crisis for nothing. Policy has to be made at lightning speed. That policy can be refined by rewarding positive sustainable actions.

There are plenty of places where this can be done safely. Think of five-lane highways. In the right-hand lane, a diesel-powered truck chugs along at 80 kph. In the middle three lanes, gas-powered cars go 100 kph. In the left-hand lane, an electric car zooms into the future at 130 kph.

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In our ongoing battle against climate change, it's hard to transcend from our human position and ‘think’ like nature. Given, nature doesn't think the way humans do, but it does act upon the environmental changes that occur. Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker anticipated on this behaviour and enables trees themselves, to tell the pressing issue of climate change - narrated in a way for humans to understand.

Real-time ring layers

So here's the thing: a tree’s ring layers does not only tell us something about the age of a tree; they also express the climate during that period of time. For instance, researchers can identify an increased amount of air pollution in a tree’s ring layer. However, once the time arrives in which we're able to identify this effect on trees, it might already be too late for us to act upon the tree’s warning signs.

Therefore Biersteker launched the project Voice of Nature to make this possible: changes in the tree’s environment are in real-time converted to digital data and subsequently visualised, using sensors that are attached to the tree. Visitors of the artwork can see when the tree is affected by a change in light spectrum, soil, temperature, moist levels, air quality and co2 levels.

The result is a giant screening behind a tree, depicting the creation of ring layers as the tree’s climate changes. Part of this climate is the visitor itself. When a human touches the tree, the visuals show that the tree calms down. The underlying message is that humans are more than just polluting agents; they can also be the healing energy.

The next narrative of nature

As Thijs Biersteker mentions, nowadays we trust data more than we trust our eyes. A collaboration between data and the arts makes it possible for us to see the data indicating issues of climate change.

Moreover, this artwork shows how we can cultivate a collaboration between art and technology to create new narratives that stem from nature itself.

The initiators of the project emphasise the need for such narratives in light of the Climate Change Conference in COP24 and the latest climate change report released by the Trump administration. In these narratives, discussions about monetary assets prevail over the intrinsic value of nature.

Sure, even though we cannot really think like a tree, this project brings us closer to its story and the grand narrative of a changing climate. By making smart use of technology and its combining to the arts as a way to make the voice of the tree audible or visible, the project shows in an ingenious way, how we in our next nature are able to enact new narratives when it comes to climate change.

Watch the video below to learn more about the project.

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Images largely shape our experience of reality. Just consider how imagery of nature continues to rise in popularity: only a society no longer grounded in their natural landscape is able to treat such a scenery as art.

Longing for a nature long lost, we instead immersive ourselves in paintings to appreciate the quality of untouched landscapes, we simulate snowfall for skiing experience, and we keep a piece of glacier ice as a relic of a different time. These natural and artificial landscapes blend together in When Records Melt, an exhibition to increase awareness of global climate change dangers through various photographic interpretations.

The exhibition is the result of a joint effort between Unseen Amsterdam and Project Pressure, a charity organization dedicated to documenting the world’s vanishing glaciers. For Unseen, Project Pressure selected works from international artists that focus on raising awareness through a variety of photographic interpretations, depicting issues surrounding the global environment in a new and inspiring context, and engage a large audience to inspire behavioural change — because a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are three works you shouldn’t miss:

Glacier du Rhône by Noémie Goudal, 2016

Melting glaciers are uniquely visual evidence of the pressing, yet mainly invisible issue of climate change. The poetic resemblance between a photograph and a vanishing glacier is striking, as both could be regarded as visual traces of something once there was. This double layer of representation becomes tangible in the work of French artist Noémie Goudal.

Goudal travelled to the Glacier du Rhône in Switzerland and created an on-site installation. The work consists of a large photograph of the glacier printed on biodegradable paper that slowly blends into its surrounding. The disintegration of the physical image emphasizes the intrinsically volatile nature of both the photograph and the glacier: “It’s such a strong, solid landscape when you look at it, and with the knowledge that it is disintegrating, that sense of fragility comes back into play.”

Mount Rainier by Peter Funch, 2016

The regression of glaciers preceded the development of color photography, which means that photography has only been able to capture glaciers as an object of abatement. The work Imperfect Atlas by the Danish photographer Peter Funch plays with the notions of physical decay and regression, by using RGB-tricolour separation to create his images; a technique that came about during the Industrial Revolution. Funch explores the meaning of landscapes as touristic hotspots, and positions the photographs next to historic postcards to showcase the gap between reality and simulation of the places we long for. Hello from postcard nature!

Rhône Glacier by Simon Norfolk and Klaus Thymann, 2018

This haunting image is created by Simon Norfolk and Klaus Thymann. A small business has draped a thermal blanket over a part of the glacier to prevent it from melting and to keep their touristic grotto in place. It's old nature covered up by next nature. The glacier has become a commodity, and the result is a surreal, nearly abstract image of a landscape that once was natural. The title of the work, Shroud, explicitly refers to the inescapable future of the landscape: “There is something insane about trying to reverse the inevitable. The gesture is as forlorn and doomed as the glacier itself.”

When Records Melt is part of Unseen 2018 and runs from the 21st to the 23rd of September. Visit unseenamsterdam.com for more information.

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This peculiar housing pod was initially thought of as a ‘frontier dwelling’ intended for people residing in nature for longer periods of time (think field study researchers or professional photographers). However, in 2015, the Slovakian firm Nice&Wise (former “Nice Architects”) presented Ecocapsule’s concept as the ultimate shelter for all eco-nomads looking to live off the grid for a while, in pretty much any location on Earth.

It was not until January 31st that the first fully functional capsule made its public debut. Transported by a helicopter, this egg-shaped home flew over Bratislava’s city center and safely landed onto the roof of UNIQ’s modern building. This was the first out of a total of 50 exclusive pieces, which are intended to be delivered within the US, Japan, Australia and the EU by the end of this year. Freedom often comes with a price, and in this case, it’s set at roughly seventy-nine thousand euros. As explained by co-founder and current CEO, Tomáš Žáček, the manufacture of the more affordable mass-produced second series can be expected at the beginning of next year.

[caption id="attachment_80703" align="alignnone" width="640"]Ecocapsule on the roof of UNIQ building in Bratislava. The first Ecocapsule on a roof top in Bratislava. Photo by Michal Chudik, ©Ecocapsule Holding.[/caption]

All you need in 8,2 square meters

Surprisingly, everything you need to survive can be stored within 8,2 square meters: This tiny mobile capsule is equipped with a smart home system and comes with a sleeping space for two, a kitchenette, shower and toilet, storage space, and even electrical outlets, which are solely powered by a low-noise wind turbine and solar panels. The spheroid shape is of no coincidence, as it is designed to maximize the collection of rainwater and dew, as well as to minimize energy loss.

This complete set of innovative features makes Ecocapsule a unique eco-friendly and multipurpose unit, that could be used for a plenty of other potential applications. Besides a nomadic housing alternative, it could also serve as an independent research station or a remote tourist cabin, or even as a shelter in humanitarian emergencies.

[caption id="attachment_80710" align="alignnone" width="640"]The view from inside one Ecocapsule. The view from inside one Ecocapsule. ©Ecocapsule Holding.[/caption]

A housing revolution?

While our current housing scheme appears to push us further away from nature, keeping humans within structured urban spaces, Ecocapsule offers an original alternative that aims to revert that trend without compromising the natural environment. It acts as a bridge that can help us reconnect with our primitive past of living in nature.

What's interesting about this housing alternative, is that it has the potential to redefine the way humans interact with nature. It shows us how living in nature becomes possible without having to compromise our contemporary basic living needs: internet, electricity, drinking water.

With this in mind, we approached Matej Gyárfáš, Creative Communication Director at Ecocapsule, to learn more about the significant consequences this new home could have in our lives. Gyárfáš believes that the primary aspect to consider is the capsule’s self-sustainability.

Ecocapsule leaves almost no footprint, so every Ecocapsule user is saving the environment while living in it.

Ever wondered how much electricity you consumed yesterday? Or how much water you use each day? It's no surprise that most of us would not know an accurate answer to these questions. We are just comfortably assured that, as long as we pay our bills, water and electricity will be available to us. According to Gyárfáš, this particular aspect of our current lifestyle would directly be affected by Ecocapsule, as it aims to foster a change in user habits and behavior toward natural resources:

“We have always wanted Ecocapsule to have an educational impact. Using the smart-home app, the users have a very realistic overview on how much energy they spend. So they become aware of it. Just as you know how much money you have on your account, how much you make and spend, you should also know how much energy your lifestyle requires. And you become more responsible in terms of energy-spending.”

With this built-in feature, users know exactly how much water and electricity they spend per hour, day, or month. And more importantly, they become aware of how much time it takes for their self-sustainable home to keep up with their living habits. In other words, users can get a sense of the real value of energy. The sense of responsibility towards the environment would thus be naturally enhanced.

[caption id="attachment_80709" align="alignnone" width="640"]Ecocapsule owners on their way to surf. Ecocapsule owners on their way to surf. ©Ecocapsule Holding[/caption]

At Ecocapsule –Gyárfáš explains– they try to keep an optimistic view on the world; however, although they would “love the idea of Ecocapsule changing the world, the current status quo requires a lot of effort in a multitude of areas in order for the world to change for the better. So we never think so far as to expect Ecocapsules to instate a completely new way of living. We do think, however, that every Ecocapsule user will be affected by our product in a very positive way and this will have a good impact on the environment.”

The question remains of whether the eventual spread of Ecocapsule’s way of living could encourage us to re-shape the urban landscape as we know it and instate a more sustainable society in the future, where its members could be rewarded depending on their energy consumption habits. This fact could perhaps help bring us closer to ‘making environmental value more explicit in economical terms.

While it may still be too soon to declare the rise of Ecocapsule as the start of a housing revolution, it certainly holds the potential to be a game-changer in our future way of living. Gyárfáš does not hesitate to admit that: “We did not create Ecocapsule with this goal in mind, but based on thousands of people giving us feedback, it seems that it will be a game changer indeed - at least in mid-term housing. We are not aware of any no other product on the market that combines the basic characteristics of Ecocapsule – smart, self-sustainable and mobile. We don't know if people will live in Ecocapsules (or something similar) in fifty years, but it sure would be a nice thing.”

_________________________Looking for more stories? Join NNN and we will keep you in the know on everything next nature, all around the world! [mc4wp_form id="72385"] [post_title] => How this self-sustainable microhome may change the future of housing [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => interview-ecocapsule [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-10 13:09:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-10 12:09:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=80702 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 79368 [post_author] => 1425 [post_date] => 2018-02-22 18:40:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-22 17:40:32 [post_content] => Urban neighborhoods with high-rise concrete buildings are often dreary and gray. Therefore, the Urban Street Forest project aims to color our cities with the planting of vertical forests by planting trees on the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings, involving local people, shops and organizations. We recently sat down with Raymond Brouwers, co-initiator of the project, to learn more about this hopeful initiative.

Think Global, Act Local

The Urban Street Forest project wants to increase the amount of greenery present in today's often (depressingly) gray cities through a process known as 'vertical greening'. Moreover, the initiative aims to help restore soil that has lost its fertility over centuries of human impact by reforesting areas of the globe.Neither of these goals is unique in itself; what makes Urban Street Forest stand out is the way they try to make these two kindred objectives synergize with each other.When asked about this attempt to connect the micro- and macro-perspectives on environmental improvement, Brouwers cites the "Think global, act local" motto and says: "We buy our clothes in the shop around the corner, but it has an ecological impact elsewhere in the world. Our local actions already impact the globe, but this project is about making us conscious of that."The project works by helping people in urban environments plant trees to improve their surroundings, and matching each tree planted in the city with at least one tree planted in areas of the world whose soil has become unproductive. For this latter part, Urban Street Forest works with Trees for the Future, an organization dedicated to helping impoverished farmers rejuvenate their land.So far the partnership has funded the planting of almost 6000 trees.

Repurposing the anthropocene machine

Brouwers emphasizes the sheer variety of different positives associated with planting trees, from the uplifting effects of a greener environment on urban residents' mood to the restoration of soil which had been damaged by earlier deforestation."It's sort of like an onion," he explains. "You peel back each layer and discover another layer underneath." Look beyond the already positive impact of the urban tree-planting itself, and countless other benefits are hidden beneath it. And of course, Brouwers says, "the more trees that are planted, the better." Who could disagree?He also talks about his moments of pessimism, such as arriving in Madrid after a long hike through the countryside. Suddenly faced with the anthropocene machine that is the modern city, he reports thinking, "Man, I am so stupid. I think I can change this just by planting trees?"But then, he says, he had a change of perspective. "If every airplane was spitting out trees, if every truck was spitting out trees..." In other words, the collective power of human enterprise can be put to positive as well as negative ends. He cites the example of the Loess Plateau in China, pictured above, which was restored in just a few years from a wasteland to a lush green environment.

Human impact

But Urban Street Forest takes a rather more grassroots approach, working on an individual and community level. Brouwers says that as much as possible, the project tries to avoid working with subsidies, instead trying to fund their own work enterpreneurially."How does a trend start?" he asks, "It starts with one person, and then another, and another. It's important to me that for example in Barcelona, we have our flyers printed in Spanish. Knowing that our ideas are able to spread to regular, local people who usually wouldn't think about them, that's the most important thing for me."You can't get that kind of personal impact without working closely with local communities, Brouwers suggests.On a larger scale, Brouwers shares his commitment to Next Nature Network's own ECO Coin: Our sustainable currency to reconnect economy and ecology.In the short-term, he says, the goal is to compensate existing carbon emissions through tree-planting. In the long-term, of course, he wants to see a situation where ecology is directly connected to currency by planting trees and protecting and creating nature reservations. In this way he sees trees being planted outweigh the emissions being given off."I hope that day will come soon," Brouwers concludes. "But in the meantime, planting trees is always a positive thing in itself."_________________________Your project on Nextnature.net? Join the network! [mc4wp_form id="72385"] [post_title] => Turning cities into parks: In conversation with Raymond Brouwers on Urban Street Forests [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => urban-street-forest-raymond-brouwers-interview [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-22 18:45:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-22 17:45:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=79368/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 80093 [post_author] => 1425 [post_date] => 2018-02-05 10:00:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-05 09:00:09 [post_content] => Chernobyl is famous as the site of the worst nuclear power accidents in history. The 1986 disaster has come to represent the perils of nuclear energy, much as Hiroshima represents the danger of nuclear weapons. But some think Chernobyl needn't only be a negative example. An enormous dome was placed over the reactor in 2016 to seal in radiation. Now, an ambitious new plan is in place to start generating energy at Chernobyl again. But don't worry - this time, it's solar.

The Chernobyl Sarcophagi

In the aftermath of the 1986 disaster, one measure taken to prevent further problems was to construct a "sarcophagus" over the plant, encasing the danger and limiting any additional contamination. But this was a temporary solution.30 years later, in 2016, almost $2 billion was spent on an enormous new dome. Constructed at a safe distance and then moved along rails to the plant itself, it's the largest movable structure ever built. You can see it in the picture above.The New Safe Confinement, as it's officially called, is a hugely impressive piece of architecture, and a fine example of ingenuity in the face of catastrophe. But there's more in store for Chernobyl than simply damage limitation. In recent years, tourists have been able to tour the ghost-town of Pripyat, though only for brief periods.Now, a major project is underway to put the plant back on the grid. Chernobyl, being the site of a power plant, naturally has great access to power lines. This is what makes the unlikely location an attractive investment opportunity. Nuclear power has been a disaster for the area. But there's nothing to say that it can't still be used to generate energy in a different form.

Solar Chernobyl

Just 100 meters from the dome, workers have installed almost 4,000 solar panels. The Ukrainian-German company behind the project, Solar Chernobyl, say the plant will be operational in just a few weeks. When it launches, the new plant will be equipped to cover the energy needs of around 2,000 apartments. But the ambition is to continually expand and optimize its capacities until it can generate 100 times that power capacity.The health risks associated with working in the vicinity of Chernobyl have made this a controversial undertaking. But Yevgen Varyagin, head of Solar Chernobyl, insists that the exclusion zone "shouldn't be a black hole in the middle of Ukraine."Does leaving this "black hole" in place amount to accepting defeat? And is the symbolic victory of reclaiming the land for green energy worth the risk? These questions are difficult to answer. But for many Ukrainians, making the exclusion zone productive again is an urgent concern.As a species, we've done all kinds of damage to our planet. But we also have an immense capacity to shape our environment in positive ways, negating damage we have previously done. If we want to build a positive future, it's a capacity we have to exercise somehow.Source: The Independent [post_title] => Chernobyl goes green: The ambitious plan to reclaim a nuclear disaster site [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => solar-chernobyl-dome-green-energy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-05 10:06:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-05 09:06:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=80093/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 77715 [post_author] => 1425 [post_date] => 2018-01-23 09:25:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-23 08:25:32 [post_content] => We know that the world’s climate is changing, in large part thanks to us. If we can impact the world in this way quite by accident, it makes sense to think that we can also produce these kinds of effects conscientiously. This is the insight that guides researchers like David Grinspoon, who argues that a radical new process called geoengineering might be the only way to save us from climate change.

Other Climates

Grinspoon, an astrobiologist and planetary scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, researches the climates of other planets to see how they have changed over time. He then attempts to use this knowledge to predict how changes in the Earth's atmosphere might happen, and what effects they could have. Grinspoon says that this study of other atmospheres gives him "a little bit of a different kind of perspective on our climate evolution". It's this perspective that has led him to consider the possibility of geoengineering."Left to their own devices" Grinspoon claims, "planetary climates do change in ways that would be dangerous to our civilization". He emphasizes that, though currently we are concerned with man-made climate change, in the long run climate-related dangers would present themselves with or without our influence. Because of this, Grinspoon suggests we may have to "assume this role of sort of caretaker" for the planet's climate.

Geoengineering

Our environment will change over time regardless, we need to make sure it changes in ways that do not endanger us. This is where geoengineering comes in. Geoengineering involves a deliberate intervention into the planet's natural systems with the aim of counteracting climate change. Many different strategies can be involved, but what they share is the desire to coordinate our impact on the environment on a mass scale.Grinspoon emphasizes, though, that this approach should be regarded as a last resort. He says that we could "make a cure worse than the disease". He argues that we can combat climate change effectively for the time being merely by changing our habits on a personal level, and by gradually moving away from fossil fuels. "I think that 30 years from now, that transition is going to be really accelerated".In the past, we have often thought of ourselves as helpless before nature, tending to our small domesticated patches of it but unable to control it on a larger scale. Even now, when we seem in many ways to have conquered nature, we rarely think of the responsibility and power this gives us. "We cannot stop being planet changers" Grinspoon says, what we have to figure out is "how to be smart planet changers". If the Earth is truly a human planet, we might have to start putting more thought into what we do with it.Source: Futurism. Image: NASA [post_title] => Counteracting Climate Change with Geoengineering [post_excerpt] => A respected astrobiologist argues that a radical new process called geoengineering might be the only way to save us from climate change. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => climate-change-geoengineering [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-27 09:39:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-27 08:39:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=77715/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 79914 [post_author] => 1425 [post_date] => 2018-01-18 10:57:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-18 09:57:44 [post_content] => When coming up with good examples of sustainable action, a big shopping mall isn't usually the first setting that springs to mind. But one shopping center in Sweden is bucking the trend of mindless consumption. Pay a visit to the ReTuna Återbruksgalleria, and instead of mass-produced products, you'll find pretty much everything sourced from recycled materials.

Making old stuff brand new

Sweden is famously committed to its recycling policy. Less than 1% of Swedish waste goes to landfills. And even this landfill waste is burned to generate energy. In fact, the country made headlines in the last couple of years when they completely ran out of garbage. So it's not at all surprising that the progressive Scandinavian nation would be the setting for a project like this.It's an impressive initiative. The ReTuna Återbruksgalleria (recycling mall) is named for its location in the town of Eskilstuna, not far from Stockholm. It contains 14 stores, an exhibition area, an educational program about recycling and even a restaurant.The mall is located right next to a recycling center, so that visitors can drop off their recycling and buy "new" stuff in the same trip. The stores inside take much of their stock from repurposed or "up-cycled" products made from what people drop off next door. The few non-recycled products on offer are required to use sustainable and eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes.

ReTuning the linear economy

Though the municipality owns the mall, the various businesses inside are privately owned, meaning around 50 new jobs (from retail to repair work, management to catering), and a boost to local business. The ReTuna is clearly a boon for Eskilstuna.But aside from its individual merits, it is also an interesting case-study in how we can reinvent our economies to bring them more in tune with ecology and the world they are part of. The philosophy behind the ReTuna doesn't have to remain in Sweden. We only need to think conscientiously about waste in our personal lives and communities.Do our models of production and disposal lead down a linear path to waste? How can we make them more circular. In other words, how to channel waste materials back into the economy? The ReTuna mall offers one example. There are countless others to be found in our daily lives. Part of living in the era of the human planet is learning how to build economies that use our resources wisely.Source: MNN. Image: ReTuna [post_title] => ReTuna: the Shopping Mall Selling Nothing but Recycled Products [post_excerpt] => A Swedish shopping center is bucking the trend of mindless consumption. At the ReTuna Återbruksgalleria every product is made of recycled materials. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => retuna-mall-recycled-products [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-23 09:25:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-23 08:25:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=79914/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 ))[post_count] => 10 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 126141 [post_author] => 2304 [post_date] => 2019-12-04 15:33:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-12-04 14:33:00 [post_content] =>

Transforming the way we travel is an essential part of tackling the climate crisis. The transport sector contributes about 20% of global carbon emissions. In the UK the figure is 33%, and the country has made virtually no progress in reducing emissions from transport. In many countries, they’re actually increasing.

Electric vehicles are often hailed as the solution to this quandary, but some question their environmental credentials. With much of the world’s electricity still produced from fossil fuels, the criticism goes that EVs may actually be responsible for more carbon emissions over their lifetime than combustion engine vehicles.

As German economics professor Hans-Werner Sinn put it in a recent controversial article, all we are doing is transferring carbon emissions “from the exhaust pipe to the power plant”.

The assumptions underlying these claims are questionable. But even if true, this line of argument misses a key point. The car we choose to buy today directly influences the future of our energy system. Choose a combustion-powered vehicle and we lock in ongoing fossil fuel use. Choose an electric vehicle and we support the switch to a zero carbon society.

Due in large part to the high carbon-cost of EV batteries, the manufacturing process for an electric vehicle causes more carbon emissions than for a combustion engine vehicle. This means that the source of electricity used during the life of an EV is critical in determining how eco-friendly they are.

The proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources is increasing fast. TEOH JIN THONG/Shutterstock

While two thirds of the world’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, this proportion is decreasing rapidly. At least four countries are already at or close to being powered entirely by renewable electricity: Iceland, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Norway. Brazil is one of the ten largest economies in the world and they are at 75% renewable electricity. In the UK, the proportion of electricity provided by fossil fuels has halved over the last decade and is currently about 40%.

As the transition towards renewable electricity progresses, so too will the carbon footprint of EVs keep decreasing in step. This means that the superiority in carbon cost that electric vehicles already have over combustion vehicles, even if narrow now, will widen in the years to come.

Influencing the future

The electricity transition is only half the story. The production and purchase of new combustion vehicles locks in dependence on fossil fuel use for the life of that vehicle – just short of 14 years on average in the UK.

Retrofitting combustion engines to use hydrogen or biofuel is an option in theory, but its an expensive one which is probably more applicable to heavy vehicles than cars. Mass use of hydrogen would also require an entirely new and complex distribution system for a gas that is hard to make and store efficiently. Biofuel could use existing infrastructure, but would require vast swathes of agricultural land to satisfy demand.

If the number of fossil-fuel powered cars on the road stays high, it will be difficult to make serious headway in reducing transport emissions. In contrast, switching to EVs transfers energy demand from the transport sector to the electricity sector, allowing countries to more readily tackle the carbon cost of travel.

Progress in doing so is of course dependent on the speed at which industry and government decarbonise their energy supply. But the technology already exists to shed the grid’s reliance on fossil fuels, and many countries have committed to do so by 2050 or sooner. The distribution grid also already exists – we just need to install charging stations.

Electric vehicles can be plugged into mains power at home overnight, allowing owners to save on bills. ganzoben/Shutterstock

And in choosing where they source their electricity from, consumers are able to exert much greater influence on the energy transition than the present transport system that locks them into high-carbon lifestyles. Given that renewable electricity tariffs are already among the cheapest available, this could be a particularly potent force for decarbonisation.

Grid burden

The scale of the transition from combustion to electricity-powered transport is huge. Average household electricity demand could double once EV charging is included, and this will place extra strain on both the grid and energy bills.

But this burden can be cushioned by careful use of technology. For example, cars can be charged overnight when there is surplus capacity, and there are already special energy tariffs to encourage this. Spare electricity from car batteries could also be redirected to the grid when demand is at its peak, making EVs “virtual power plants” that can offset increases in household energy bills.

Of course, producing any large industrial product results in some negative environmental impacts. The mining of lithium for EV batteries is polluting and depletes water supplies, in turn harming wildlife and compromising local livelihoods. Ultimately, the best way to reduce the carbon and pollution costs of transport is to make and use less cars, which means that expanding car sharing and improving public transport are essential.

But for those cars that we do use, EVs are the least bad option. The switch to electric vehicles needs to be seen as part of a broader shift in the way society is organised to tackle the climate crisis. That requires consumers, industry, and government to all play their part in creating a carbon-free future.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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