Category : Ecology

(PRC) How Religion Intersects With Americans’ Views on the Environment

Most U.S. adults – including a solid majority of Christians and large numbers of people who identify with other religious traditions – consider the Earth sacred and believe God gave humans a duty to care for it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

But the survey also finds that highly religious Americans (those who say they pray each day, regularly attend religious services and consider religion very important in their lives) are far less likely than other U.S. adults to express concern about warming temperatures around the globe.

The survey reveals several reasons why religious Americans tend to be less concerned about climate change. First and foremost is politics: The main driver of U.S. public opinion about the climate is political party, not religion. Highly religious Americans are more inclined than others to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, and Republicans tend to be much less likely than Democrats to believe that human activity (such as burning fossil fuels) is warming the Earth or to consider climate change a serious problem.

Religious Americans who express little or no concern about climate change also give a variety of other explanations for their views, including that there are much bigger problems in the world today, that God is in control of the climate, and that they do not believe the climate actually is changing. In addition, many religious Americans voice concerns about the potential consequences of environmental regulations, such as a loss of individual freedoms, fewer jobs or higher energy prices.

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Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(BBC) York Minster plan for solar panels as energy bills triple

Solar panels could be installed on the roof of York Minster for the first time in a bid to tackle rising energy bills.

The cathedral’s gas and electricity costs are expected to triple next year, a Minster spokesperson said.

Plans to install 199 solar panels on the roof of the South Quire Aisle have been submitted to York Council.

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said the Minster was “committed to taking a lead on addressing the climate emergency.”

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Posted in Church of England, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Gallup) World Less Than Satisfied With Climate Efforts

In the remaining days of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, nearly 200 nations are rushing to seek deals that keep climate goals alive.

If they fall short, it will likely disappoint but not surprise much of the world’s population that is already unhappy with efforts to safeguard the environment.

In 66 out of 123 countries that Gallup surveyed in 2021 and 2022, less than half of people report being satisfied with their country’s efforts to preserve the environment.

This list includes many, but not all, of the world’s cumulative top emitters of carbon dioxide, which is linked to global warming. For example, while less than half of adults in one of the biggest emitters — the U.S. — are satisfied with their country’s efforts to preserve the environment, strong majorities in other big emitters such as China (89%) and India (78%) are satisfied.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Sociology

(Bloomberg) Record-low water levels are causing major shipping jams just as the US needs to export this year’s harvest.

The Mississippi River — the immense, quiet highway that courses down the middle of America, moving critical food, wood, coal and steel supplies to global markets — is shrinking from drought, forcing traffic to a crawl at the worst possible time.

With water levels at record lows, barges have run aground, causing traffic jams as boats wait for the US Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a path through the shallows. The problem has been building for months. Summer brought meager rain to much of the Plains and Midwest. Now it’s harvest time, when farmers bring in their grains and other crops, send them to market, and lay down fertilizer before the winter snows. The shriveled Mississippi has forced them to seek alternatives, all of them more expensive, like moving soybeans by rail to the Gulf Coast or shipping everything through distant West Coast ports. That will inevitably increase pressure on global food prices at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already sent them soaring.

The river is “low, been low and not getting filled anytime soon – so a bad situation getting worse,” said Jeremy Jack, who just harvested his crops on 11,500 acres of land in the Mississippi Delta. “We don’t have any soybean storage. Beans are in places where they shouldn’t be and losing quality.”

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

(Bloomberg) Earth’s on Track to Warm Above 2C Despite Climate Action

Government plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions aren’t enough to avoid catastrophic global warming, with the planet on track to heat up between 2.1 and 2.9 degrees Celsius by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times, according to a new report from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Despite some progress in the last year, governments need to do more by 2030 to ensure that the global temperature increase is below 2C and ideally closer to 1.5C — the goal set in the Paris Agreement reached in 2015. The UNFCCC reached its conclusions by analyzing all national climate plans, also known as nationally-determined contributions or NDCs, submitted since 2015.

“The good news — projections show emissions won’t be increasing after 2030,” UN climate change executive secretary Simon Stiell told reporters on Wednesday. “The bad news – they’re still not demonstrating the rapid downward trend scientists say is necessary this decade.”

Climate scientists estimate that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions need to halve by the end of this decade, and to be eliminated by mid-century in order to keep warming below 2C by 2100. While the consequences of planetary heating above that threshold are deemed to be catastrophic, today’s warming of 1.1C above pre-industrial times has already resulted in irreversible changes, according to the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(NPR) Recycling plastic is practically impossible — and the problem is getting worse

The vast majority of plastic that people put into recycling bins is headed to landfills, or worse, according to a report from Greenpeace on the state of plastic recycling in the U.S.

The report cites separate data published this May which revealed that the amount of plastic actually turned into new things has fallen to new lows of around 5%. That number is expected to drop further as more plastic is produced.

Greenpeace found that no plastic — not even soda bottles, one of the most prolific items thrown into recycling bins — meets the threshold to be called “recyclable” according to standards set by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastic Economy Initiative. Plastic must have a recycling rate of 30% to reach that standard; no plastic has ever been recycled and reused close to that rate.

“More plastic is being produced, and an even smaller percentage of it is being recycled,” says Lisa Ramsden, senior plastic campaigner for Greenpeace USA. “The crisis just gets worse and worse, and without drastic change will continue to worsen as the industry plans to triple plastic production by 2050.”

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Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(Church Times) C of E Pensions Board joins fight to force VW to open its books on climate lobbying

The Church of England Pensions Board has joined five other pension funds to bring legal action against Volkswagen AG (VW), after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate-lobbying activities.

The funds, four Swedish and one Danish in addition to the C of E board, are all part of the Institutional Investment Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Climate Action’s 100+ initiative. These have asked the company repeatedly to clarify its lobbying position. VW discloses trade association memberships, but does not disclose how the goals of these associations align with its own climate goals.

The boards wanted to table an agenda item at VW’s AGM, seeking publication of a report setting out how the company’s lobbying of policy-makers matched its stated ambition to support the Paris Agreement goals by becoming a net-zero company. VW refused to table the item.

The investors say that they tried over several years to get information before tabling the amendment. The case, supported by the legal charity ClientEarth, will test whether VW has the right to refuse the agenda item.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Pensions, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Photos: Mississippi River continues to sink to record lows as it passes through New Orleans

Look through them all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(CT) Evangelical Creation Care Expert Shares Lessons Learned from Global Tour

Can you give an example about how we have missed this message in Scripture?

The central passage I use is Colossians 1:15–20. It begins by speaking about Christ creating all things and ends with how the blood of Christ on the cross is redeeming all things. Most people read this redemption in terms of people. But if you zoom out and realize that the “all things” being redeemed are grammatically the same as the “all things” he has created, then you have a universal picture of redemption.

This is reinforced by Romans 8: how creation is waiting for the redemption that will come through the revealing of the children of God.

The church has sometimes struggled over the correct prioritizing of evangelism and social outreach. Does adding a third issue of creation care become too much for some?

Actually, it is the opposite. People working in poverty have realized for a number of years that they are on a treadmill and moving backwards. You cannot make progress in development and ministering to the poor if there are environmental problems that haven’t been addressed.

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Posted in Ecology, Evangelicals, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(Bloomberg) Nord Stream Hit Adds to Europe’s Economic Woes in 2009 Echo

The economic damage from the shutdown of Russian gas flows is piling up fast in Europe and risks eventually eclipsing the impact of the global financial crisis.

With a continent-wide recession now seemingly inevitable, a harsh winter is coming for chemical producers, steel plants and car manufacturers starved of essential raw materials who’ve joined households in sounding the alarm over rocketing energy bills. The suspected sabotage of Germany’s main pipeline for gas from Russia underlined that Europe will have to survive without any significant Russian flows.

Building on a model of the European energy market and economy, the Bloomberg Economics base case is now a 1% drop in gross domestic product, with the downturn starting in the fourth quarter. If the coming months turn especially icy and the 27 members of the European Union fail to efficiently share scarce fuel supplies, the contraction could be as much as 5%.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

(Economist) For business, water scarcity is where climate change hits home

The problem is not a lack of water per se. Climate change may make some places drier and others wetter. It is the uneven distribution of freshwater—of which fast-growing places like India are woefully short—that provide the conditions for a crisis. This is made worse by waste, pollution and the near-universal underpricing of water. Some governments, notably China’s, have created pharaonic projects to transport water to where it is needed. Others, such as Mr López Obrador’s, peddle the quixotic idea of moving demand to where the water is. The best outcome in the long term, on paper at least, is the simplest: that less of the stuff is used, and more of what is used is treated better. It is something the private sector is just starting to grapple with.

Industries directly affected by water shortages have got a head start. Global mining firms are using desalination plants in Chile. Beer and soft-drinks companies, existentially reliant on clean water, have targets for improving efficiency (Heineken says it uses 2.5 litres of water to make a litre of beer in Mexico, about half the global industry average). In collaboration with the wri, Cargill, an agro-industrial behemoth, recently extended the monitoring of water use from its own operations to the farmers who supply its crops. Fashion retailers, whose suppliers are often heavy users of water and dyes in dry areas, are considering similar moves, to avoid angry flare-ups by local residents who worry about being second in line to the taps.

This calls for careful stewardship.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

(AP) Western states hit with more cuts to Colorado River water

For the second year in a row, Arizona and Nevada will face cuts in the amount of water they can draw from the Colorado River as the West endures more drought, federal officials announced Tuesday.

Though the cuts will not result in any immediate new restrictions — like banning lawn watering or car washing — they signal that unpopular decisions about how to reduce consumption are on the horizon, including whether to prioritize growing cities or agricultural areas. Mexico will also face cuts.

But those reductions represent just a fraction of the potential pain to come for the 40 million Americans in seven states that rely on the river. Because the states failed to meet a federal deadline to figure out how to cut their water use by at least 15%, they could see even deeper cuts that the government has said are needed to prevent reservoirs from falling so low they cannot be pumped.

“The states collectively have not identified and adopted specific actions of sufficient magnitude that would stabilize the system,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(FT) ‘Extreme heat belt’ to place 100mn Americans at risk in 3 decades, research shows

A quarter of the US land area, home to more than 100mn people, will be subjected to temperatures of more than 125F (52C) in three decades, including states with rapid population growth such as Texas, a report forecasts.

The “extreme heat belt”, in which heat indices exceed such temperatures, will expand from 50 counties in 2023 to more than 1,000 by 2053, according to a new report from First Street Foundation, a New York-based non-profit climate risk research group.

The findings point to an increasingly severe impact on US population centres and property markets as the planet is warmed by greenhouse gas emissions. Temperatures have risen 1.1C globally since preindustrial times.

Heatwaves have baked much of the US this summer, with record temperatures in Texas and near-record figures from the Pacific Northwest to the north-east last month, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(NYT front page) Arctic Warming Is Happening Faster Than Described, Analysis Shows

The rapid warming of the Arctic, a definitive sign of climate change, is occurring even faster than previously described, researchers in Finland said Thursday.

Over the past four decades the region has been heating up four times faster than the global average, not the two to three times that has commonly been reported. And some parts of the region, notably the Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia, are warming up to seven times faster, they said.

One result of rapid Arctic warming is faster melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which adds to sea-level rise. But the impacts extend far beyond the Arctic, reaching down to influence weather like extreme rainfall and heat waves in North America and elsewhere. By altering the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator, the warming Arctic appears to have affected storm tracks and wind speed in North America.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(Telegraph) Rhine close to running dry in German energy nightmare

Germany’s Rhine river will become impassable for barges carrying coal, oil and gas later this week, in a devastating blow to factories upriver.

Levels at Kaub, a key point along the waterway west of Frankfurt, are predicted to fall to below 40cm on Friday, according to the German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

At that chokepoint, the river becomes effectively impassable for many barges, which use the Rhine to move a range of goods including coal, oil and gas.

Water levels will then fall further to 37cm on Saturday, officials warned.

The river runs from Switzerland through France and Germany to the Netherlands, where it joins the North Sea.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Germany, Science & Technology

(BBC) Loire Valley: Intense European heatwave parches France’s ‘garden’

The Loire Valley is known as “the Garden of France”. But the garden is withering.

France’s worst drought since records began has turned lush vegetation into arid fields of brown crops, shrivelling under what is now the fourth heatwave of the year.

In Vincent Favreau’s vegetable farm, where he produces food for a hundred families in the area, the parched earth has stunted the growth of the cabbages. His potato plants are burnt out, producing just half the crop of a normal year.

“Either the vegetables will die of thirst, or they won’t develop enough during this crucial period of growth,” he said, sifting through the dry soil, which he hasn’t been able to water since restrictions came in two weeks ago.

“With this heat and wind, we can’t compensate for what the sun is evaporating. I’ve never seen something like this in my twenty-two years here. If it doesn’t rain within two months, it’ll be a disaster.”

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, France

(Bloomberg) The End of Snow Threatens to Upend 76 Million American Lives

The Western US is an empire built on snow. And that snow is vanishing.

Since most of the region gets little rain in the summer, even in good years, its bustling cities and bountiful farms all hinge on fall and winter snow settling in the mountains before slowly melting into rivers and reservoirs. That snowmelt, often traveling hundreds of miles from mountain top to tap, sustains the booming desert communities of Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City — even coastal Los Angeles and San Francisco. A civilization of more than 76 million people, home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood alike, relies on snow.

“The snow in the mountains is this incredible gift that created California,” said Spencer Glendon, founder of climate outreach initiative Probable Futures and former director of investment research at Wellington Management. “Nobody would build all of that stuff in a climate that was on the brink of being a desert.”

Dangerously high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and California’s deadly McKinney Fire flung the Western states’ changing climate back into the national spotlight this past week, and it only gets tougher from here. With the Southwest gripped by its worst drought in 1,200 years, there’s less precipitation of any kind these days across the region, especially the crucial frozen variety with its multi-month staying power. Rain, as desperately as it’s needed, isn’t quite the same: Unless it goes into a lake or reservoir, it won’t be available for weeks or months in the future, the way snowmelt can be. What little winter precipitation does arrive now often lands as rain and runs off, long gone by summer. The West’s mountain snowpacks have shrunk, on average, 23% between 1955 and 2022. By the end of the 21st century, California could lose as much as 79% of its peak snowpack by water volume.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(CT) With an Eye to Mission and Money, More Evangelical Universities Go Green

There are two reasons to put solar panels on the roofs of Calvin University.

One, renewable energy can provide power for the private Christian campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, without adding to the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide that are driving climate change.

Two, it will save the school some money.

At Calvin, the environmental reason is primary. The budgetary help is a bonus.

“I think taking care of the planet is a prerequisite to being a Christian,” Tim Fennema, vice president for administration and finance, told CT. “And as a Christian university, it’s something we want to do.”

Calvin is on a mission to be carbon neutral by 2057. The school got a little closer last month when it announced a partnership with the Indiana-based Sun FundED to come up with a plan to install solar arrays on university buildings, offsetting the high-carbon energy sources Calvin currently uses to heat, cool, and power the campus.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) At the Partial Lambeth Gathering, First tree in Anglican forest planted in Archbishop’s garden

Bishops travelled from Canterbury to London on Wednesday for the launch of a new environmental initiative, the Anglican Communion Forest.

A tree was planted in the garden of Lambeth Palace, in the first act of what, it is hoped, will become a global movement of reforestation and habitat renewal.

Bishops are being encouraged to launch initiatives in their dioceses which help to preserve and regenerate the ecosystem; this need not necessarily be tree-planting, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, said, at a press conference on Wednesday morning, but could include restoring grasslands, or taking action to prevent the destruction of the rainforest.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that there was “no doubt about the urgency, severity, and scale of the climate emergency”, and that it was “most especially an emergency for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable”.

“We are not just doing symbolic actions,” he insisted. He said that the structure of the Anglican Communion made it possible to “reach to the very heart, the very ground level of what is happening”.

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(Guardian) African nations expected to make case for big rise in fossil fuel output

Leaders of African countries are likely to use the next UN climate summit in November to push for massive new investment in fossil fuels in Africa, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

New exploration for gas, and the exploitation of Africa’s vast reserves of oil, would make it close to impossible for the world to limit global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

However, soaring gas prices have made the prospect of African supplies even more attractive, and developed countries, including EU members, have indicated they would support such developments in the current gas shortage.

The Guardian has seen a technical document prepared by the African Union, comprising most of Africa’s states, for the “second extraordinary session of the specialised technical committee on transport, transcontinental and interregional infrastructure and energy committee”, a meeting of energy ministers that took place by video conference from 14 to 16 June.

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Posted in Africa, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(BBC) Climate change killing elephants, says Kenya

Kenya’s Wildlife and Tourism ministry says that climate change is now a bigger threat to elephant conservation than poaching.

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Posted in Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Kenya

(NYT front page) Congo to Allow More Oil Wells In Rainforests

The Democratic Republic of Congo, home to one of the largest old-growth rainforests on earth, is auctioning off vast amounts of land in a push to become “the new destination for oil investments,” part of a global shift as the world retreats on fighting climate change in a scramble for fossil fuels.

The oil and gas blocks, which will be auctioned in late July, extend into Virunga National Park, the world’s most important gorilla sanctuary, as well as tropical peatlands that store vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere and from contributing to global warming.

“If oil exploitation takes place in these areas, we must expect a global climate catastrophe, and we will all just have to watch helplessly,” said Irene Wabiwa, who oversees the Congo Basin forest campaign for Greenpeace in Kinshasa.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo, Science & Technology

(Bloomberg) David Fickling And Ruth Pollard–When the Weather Gets Hot Enough To Kill

On an April day in 1905, the scientist J.S. Haldane descended hundreds of feet into a Cornish tin mine to find out if he could cook himself to death.

Amateur researchers had long known that humans have an extraordinary ability to withstand dry heat. One 18th century experimenter found he could tolerate temperatures up to 115 degrees Celsius (240 Fahrenheit), hot enough to cook steaks. But the moist, saturated air in the Dolcoath mine, dug through hot rock deep below the water table, seemed to change things. Though the temperature never climbed above 31.5C, Haldane’s body temperature and pulse rose with each minute, hitting feverish levels before he ascended after three hours. “It becomes impracticable for ordinary persons to stay for long periods” when the humid temperature rises above 31C, he wrote.

That finding hasn’t significantly changed over the years since — but our atmosphere has. As the climate warms, conditions once experienced only in saunas and deep mineshafts are rapidly becoming the open-air reality for hundreds of millions of people, who have no escape to air conditioning or cooler climes. After a few hours with humid heat above 35C — a measure known as the wet-bulb temperature — even healthy people with unlimited shade and water will die of heatstroke. For those carrying out physical labor, the threshold is closer to Haldane’s 31C, or even lower.

Brajabandhu Sahu knows the physical signs all too well. A street vendor selling foods like dosa, idli and uttapam on the corner of two busy roads in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, he’s surrounded at times by what feels like a wall of fire from which he cannot escape. When the day is at its hottest, his head spins, his heart races, his skin blisters and the waves of nausea are constant. The moisture-laden winds that blow in from the Bay of Bengal put citizens in this region at particular risk.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, India, Science & Technology

(Guardian) Christians in Oxford asked to commit to protecting environment

The addition to the liturgy comes as the Oxford diocese announces plans to spend £10m improving the energy efficiency of its vicarages in an effort to hit net zero emissions by 2035. It is one of 10 dioceses to have divested from fossil fuel companies, making commitments not to invest in coal, oil and gas in the future.

At a national level, the Church of England has been criticised for not acting quickly enough to cut its links with fossil fuel companies. It began to cut ties to coal and other heavily polluting industries in 2015, then pledged in 2018 to divest by 2023 from high-carbon companies that were “not aligned with the goals of the Paris agreement”. But as the deadline approaches, the organisation has said it is still “engaging” with key oil and gas interests, rather than cancelling all of its holdings.

Chris Manktelow, of the Young Christian Climate Network, told the Guardian earlier this year that that was not good enough. “The church should be moving quickly and showing moral leadership, and is just not going fast enough. We are not happy with this response [to the calls to divest].”

On Wednesday, Greenpeace welcomed the Oxford decision.

“The diocese of Oxford is moving away from fossil fuels, which is essential, but this liturgical change goes deeper,” said a spokesperson. “Today’s lesson is that, in a climate and nature emergency, you need to make environmental considerations central to your project right from the very beginning and keep them in mind the whole way through. That sounds very much like wisdom worth listening to.”

Read it all and you can see the additional wording in the liturgy there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Economist) How to fix the world’s energy emergency without wrecking the environment

Energy shocks can become political catastrophes. Perhaps a third of the rich world’s inflation of 8% is explained by soaring fuel and power costs. Households struggling to pay bills are angry, leading to policies aimed at insulating them and boosting fossil-fuel production, however dirty.

Mr Biden, who came to power promising a green revolution, plans to suspend petrol taxes and visit Saudi Arabia to ask it to pump more oil. Europe has emergency windfall levies, subsidies, price caps and more. In Germany, as air-conditioners whine, coal-fired power plants are being taken out of mothballs. Chinese and Indian state-run mining firms that the climate-conscious hoped were on a fast track to extinction are digging up record amounts of coal.

This improvised chaos is understandable but potentially disastrous, because it could stall the clean-energy transition. Public handouts and tax-breaks for fossil fuels will be hard to withdraw. Dirty new power plants and oil- and gasfields with 30- to 40-year lifespans would give their owners more reason to resist fossil-fuel phase-outs. That is why, even as they firefight, governments must focus on tackling the fundamental problems confronting the energy industry.

One priority is finding a way to ramp up fossil-fuel projects, especially relatively clean natural gas, that have an artificially truncated lifespan of 15-20 years so as to align them with the goal of dramatically cutting emissions by 2050.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(I E) A new plant-based material can replace plastic food packaging for keeps

Interestingly, they observed a decline in the populations of these pathogens after the introduction of APFs. The researchers further deposited the antimicrobial fibers on avocados. They noticed that the APF coating prevented the growth of pathogens on the fruit and protected the same from spoilage and damage. Thus increasing the shelf life of avocados by about 50 percent.

Whereas plastic packets often release harmful chemicals into our food and take more than 400 years to biodegrade, the APF coating is a naturally derived biodegradable and non-toxic biopolymer that does not impact the quality of the edible it covers (a previous study also highlights that humans can digest pullulan). Moreover, according to the researchers, it can be easily washed off from a food item using water and takes only three days to completely decompose in the soil.

Excited with these results, Demokritou wrote, “What we have come up with is a scalable technology, which enables us to turn biopolymers, which can be derived as part of a circular economy from food waste, into smart fibers that can wrap food directly. This is part of the new generation, ‘smart’ and ‘green’ food packaging.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Economy, Science & Technology

(NYT front page) Ravaging the Congo Basin’s Essential Rainforest, Raft by Raft

The mighty Congo River has become a highway for sprawling flotillas of logs — African teak, wenge and bomanga in colors of licorice, candy bars and carrot sticks. For months at a time, crews in the Democratic Republic of Congo live aboard these perilous rafts, piloting the timber in pursuit of a sliver of profit from the dismantling of a crucial forest.

The biggest rafts are industrial-scale, serving mostly international companies that see riches in the rainforest. But puny versions also make their way downriver, tended by men and their families who work and sleep atop the floating logs.

Forests like these pull huge amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air, making them essential to slow global warming. The expanded scale of illegal logging imperils their role in protecting humanity’s future.

The Congo Basin rainforest, second in size only to the Amazon, is becoming increasingly vital as a defense against climate change as the Amazon is felled. However, the Democratic Republic of Congo for several years in a row has been losing more old-growth rainforest, research shows, than any country except for Brazil.

In this lawless trade, the river is the artery to the world. In some places, where once-towering trees are prepared for the journey, the water itself is stained caramel from the bleeding sap of felled trees.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Africa, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Republic of Congo

(C of E) Sowing seeds: how a patch of wasteland became heart of community

In just a few years, a patch of once unused land in the middle of the Quarrendon estate in Aylesbury, Bucks, has been transformed into the beating heart of the community by the local church.

The once neglected scrap of land surrounding St Peter’s Church, has been turned into a multipurpose green space – simultaneously a community garden, an exercise site, a place to grow food, an outdoor classroom, and a tranquil spot in the centre of the estate.

In partnership with local organisations, St Peter’s regularly takes referrals from the local GP surgery, known as ‘social prescribing.’

It also welcomes schools, the local Adult Education Centre, and the Youth Offenders Probation Service – where young adults learn new skills in landscaping and horticulture to help get them back into employment.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT front page) As the Great Salt Lake Dries Up, Utah Faces An ‘Environmental Nuclear Bomb’

If the Great Salt Lake, which has already shrunk by two-thirds, continues to dry up, here’s what’s in store:

The lake’s flies and brine shrimp would die off — scientists warn it could start as soon as this summer — threatening the 10 million migratory birds that stop at the lake annually to feed on the tiny creatures. Ski conditions at the resorts above Salt Lake City, a vital source of revenue, would deteriorate. The lucrative extraction of magnesium and other minerals from the lake could stop.

Most alarming, the air surrounding Salt Lake City would occasionally turn poisonous. The lake bed contains high levels of arsenic and as more of it becomes exposed, wind storms carry that arsenic into the lungs of nearby residents, who make up three-quarters of Utah’s population.

“We have this potential environmental nuclear bomb that’s going to go off if we don’t take some pretty dramatic action,” said Joel Ferry, a Republican state lawmaker and rancher who lives on the north side of the lake.

As climate change continues to cause record-breaking drought, there are no easy solutions.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(Medium) Umair Haque: The Age of Extinction Is Here — Some of Us Just Don’t Know It Yet

My friends in the Indian Subcontinent tell me stories, these days, that seem like science fiction. The heatwave there is pushing the boundaries of survivability. My other sister says that in the old, beautiful city of artists and poets, eagles are falling dead from the sky. They are just dropping dead and landing on houses, monuments, shops. They can’t fly anymore.

The streets, she says, are lined with dead things. Dogs. Cats. Cows. Animals of all kinds are just there, dead. They’ve perished in the killing heat. They can’t survive.

People, too, try to flee. They run indoors, spend all day in canals and rivers and lakes, and those who can’t, too, line the streets, passed out, pushed to the edge. They’re poor countries. We won’t know how many this heatwave has killed for some time to come. Many won’t even be counted.

Think about all that for a moment. Really stop and think about it. Stop the automatic motions of everyday life you go through and think about it.

You see, my Western friends read stories like this, and then they go back to obsessing over the Kardashians or Wonder Woman or Johnny Depp or Batman. They don’t understand yet. Because this is beyond the limits of what homo sapiens can really comprehend, the Event. That world is coming for them, too.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology