We know a bit about dirty banking. While we do not think money is a dirty word, we have seen how it can do dirty things when mixed with fossil fuels. So thanks, as always, to Bill McKibben for this further illumination. We are sharing his newsletter, rather than the New Yorker story he references, because as you will see below he encourages sharing Your money is your carbon:
If you’ve got $125k in the financial system, it’s doing as much damage as your cooking and your heating and your flying. These are the most important new climate numbers for many years
Earlier today I published a big story in the New Yorker about how banks are driving the climate crisis. A report from a consortium of environmental groups made clear that for the biggest, richest companies on earth, the cash they keep in the banking system (which gets lent out for pipelines and the like) produces more carbon than their actual, you know, business. Google emits more carbon from its money than its phones, and Netflix from its streaming, and so on. Continue reading
Incentives to behave differently in relation to the environment is a constant topic here, but we have not used the word gamification before. Today is finally the day. Thank you, Lindsey Galloway:
Responsible travellers will be able to unlock exclusive cultural and nature-based experiences (Credit: Colors and shapes of underwater world/Getty Images)
In a world-first initiative, visitors to Palau will be offered exclusive experiences based on how they treat the environment and culture, not by how much they spend.
Despite being home to fewer than 20,000 residents, the Republic of Palau is making an outsized impact to preserve the planet. Not only did the country Continue reading
Near the location of the future Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, a volunteer for the National Wildlife Federation carries a cardboard cutout of a mountain lion known as P-22. Photograph by Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / Shutterstock
When we linked to earlier stories about mountain lions in urban California, P-22 was already the it-cat. And the story below, by Emily Witt, shares some anecdotes about P-22’s less fortunate wider family. But mainly it is about one hopeful initiative that P-22 seems to have unwittingly helped make happen:
Shawn Siepler, the founder of Clean the World, with used hotel soap before it will be recycled for those in need. Todd Anderson for The New York Times
Reusing things versus wasting them has been a major theme in these pages, especially in relation to travel and hospitality. Looking back at posts about washing hands for a cleaner world and then another about soap making for the same, it is not surprising we had already featured Clean The World in a couple earlier posts. Thanks to Victoria M. Walker for this conversation with the founder:
Meet Shawn Siepler, the founder of Clean the World. The nonprofit recycles partially used soap left behind from hotel guests for those in need.
When hotel or motel guests check into their rooms, they expect at the very least to be greeted with a clean space, a made-up bed and in the bathroom, soap.
But what happens when you leave that soap behind? Continue reading
We have featured articles about forests so many times for multiple reasons. Even when we hint that we do so just out of pure love, it is almost always about the value of forests to our future on the planet. As always, when a Yale e360 article can help illuminate further on a topic, here goes:
This map shows the height of forests worldwide. Taller forests typically store more carbon. NASA
Governments are increasingly looking to forests to draw down carbon pollution, but worsening droughts threaten to stunt tree growth, while larger wildfires and insect infestations risk decimating woodlands, two new studies show. Continue reading
The tree houses at Loire Valley Lodges are spread out throughout the forest and each is decorated by a different artist. Joann Pai for The New York Times
After several days of heavier fare, today’s recommended reading leans to the escapist:
Rethinking what the region’s travel should be has meant expanding the focus from fairy tale castle crawls to experiences anchored more firmly in nature, food and the arts.
The Loire Valley is a UNESCO Heritage-protected region, and drew in 9 million yearly visitors to its cultural sites before the pandemic. Joann Pai for The New York Times
On my last prepandemic trip to the Loire Valley, in 2018, I found myself in a familiar place.
Ten years after my first road trip on the region’s castle route, I was back at the 500-year-old Château de Chambord, joining a small group of European and American tourists on a guided tour. Within seconds of convening in the inner courtyard, we were craning our necks to marvel at the structure’s ornamental bell towers as our guide rattled off facts and dates about King Francis I and his former hunting lodge. When she ushered us up to the towers, chiding us for not listening, a feeling of deja-vu washed over me. Continue reading
Greening the production of steel has been the topic of exactly one previous post, which linked to an article by Matthew Hutson from last September that made passing reference to the company featured in the article below. Maybe we are getting closer to critical mass:
Roughly a tenth of global carbon emissions comes from the steel industry. Doing something about that is easier said than done.
In the city of Woburn, Massachusetts, a suburb just north of Boston, a cadre of engineers and scientists in white coats inspected an orderly stack of brick-size, gunmetal-gray steel ingots on a desk inside a neon-illuminated lab space.
What they were looking at was a batch of steel created using an innovative manufacturing method, one that Boston Metal, a company that spun out a decade ago from MIT, hopes will dramatically reshape the way the alloy has been made for centuries. Continue reading
The commissioner of the panel said: ‘The ocean is under attack … I cannot say in good conscience that this amount of damage is OK.’ Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters
Desalination, which we celebrated multiple times over the years, might not be all as good we thought it was:
Poseidon Water sought to turn seawater into drinking water but activists said plan would devastate ecosystem on Pacific coast
A California coastal panel on Thursday rejected a longstanding proposal to build a $1.4bn seawater desalination plant to turn Pacific Ocean water into drinking water as the state grapples with persistent drought that is expected to worsen in coming years with climate change. Continue reading
Solar and wind power projects have been booming in California, like the Pine Tree Wind Farm and Solar Power Plant in the Tehachapi Mountains, but that doesn’t mean fossil fuels are fading away quickly. Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Recovery from a long-term addiction to fossil fuels was never going to be easy. Necessary? Yes. But it will still be a long haul even with milestones like this one in the western USA. Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for this news:
On a mild Sunday afternoon, California set a historic milestone in the quest for clean energy. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and on May 8th, the state produced enough renewable electricity to meet 103% of consumer demand. That broke a record set a week earlier of 99.9%. Continue reading
A recent book by the historian Phoebe S. K. Young explores what, exactly, camping is, and how the pursuit intersects with protest culture, homelessness, and identity. Illustration by Sally Deng
We have not featured much on camping recently, but some old favorites come to mind when reading this book review titled The Confounding Politics of Camping in America by Dan Piepenbring:
By the eighteen-seventies, the society pages of Scribner’s Monthly could no longer hide it: the “American pleasure-seeking public” had run out of places to seek their pleasure. Summer after summer, vacationers resigned themselves to “broiling in a roadside farm-house” among the “odor of piggery and soap-suds.” Or they visited costly resort towns, finding “more anxious swarming crowds than those left behind.” Continue reading
Tug boats pull floating solar panels into place near Portugal’s Alto Rabagão dam. An even larger floating array is planned for Portugal’s Alqueva dam. EDP
A topic we thought of as novel in 2011 has become so mainstream that we consider news like this as normal. Thanks to Yale e360:
Europe’s largest floating solar farm, an array the size of four soccer fields, is set to begin operating in Portugal’s Alqueva reservoir in July. Continue reading
A controlled burn near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. SARAH BAKER
We have linked to many stories about wildfires over the years, noting their relationship to climate change. Our working assumption seems to have been that fire is always problematic, but here is reason to reconsider that, thanks to Gabriel Popkin and Yale e360:
For millennia, North American ecosystems benefited from fire, mostly set by Indigenous people. Now, a movement is growing, particularly in the eastern U.S., to reintroduce controlled burns to forests and grasslands and restore the role of fire in creating biodiverse landscapes.
It’s an apocalyptic scene that has become all too familiar in recent years. Continue reading
Cynthia Rosenzweig at her farm in Tuscany, Italy, in 1969. She now works in a lab at Columbia University but her research takes her to farms around the world.
The expected effects of climate change have haunted these pages plenty over the years. We have not heard of this prize before but as practitioners who believe in the value of science, especially the value of good scientific questions, in mitigating those effects we appreciate that the World Food Prize goes to former farmer who answers climate change question: ‘So what?’
For scientist – and former farmer – Cynthia Rosenzweig, her work on climate change has always revolved around one big question: “So what?”
“Impacts of climate change are crucially important,” she says. “If the climate changes and nothing happened, why would we care?” Continue reading
Prof Ian McNevin said ‘the scale of Indigenous oyster harvesting is extraordinary’, and compared it to contemporary commercial oyster farms. Photograph: Orjan F Ellingvag/Corbis/Getty Images
Some of us writing in these pages have been fans of oysters primarily for their culinary value (living in France, and then later in Croatia, could create such bias). But we have posted more frequently about the resiliency that oysters have come to represent in the search for protection against climate impact. Here is some more on that topic, intersecting with another theme we pay frequent attention to:
Researchers in Australia and North America say management of oyster reefs should incorporate Indigenous knowledge
Oyster fisheries in Australia and North America survived for up to 10,000 years prior to colonisation, sustaining First Nations communities even under intense harvest, according to new research. Continue reading
Jaime Gonzalez of Par 3 Landscape and Maintenance removed grass at a condominium complex in Las Vegas. The lawn is considered “nonfunctional” under a new state law.
In case you have been to the city, or even just heard about how water is flaunted as a key attraction, and wondered how they can justify such use of a limited resource, then Is That an Outlaw Lawn? Las Vegas Has a New Approach to Saving Water may be worth a few minutes of your time. We recently shared news of a voluntary initiative to reconsider lawns for reasons entirely different from those in the story below. Henry Fountain‘s text accompanied by Joe Buglewicz’s photos, tells the story of Las Vegas lawns, where water resources are so limited, this seems a long time coming:
Mr. Donnarumma documented water running off a sidewalk into the curb from sprinkler overspray.
With drought and growth taking a toll on the Colorado River, the source of 90 percent of the region’s water, a new law mandates the removal of turf, patch by patch.
LAS VEGAS — It was a perfectly decent patch of lawn, several hundred square feet of grass in a condominium community on this city’s western edge. But Jaime Gonzalez, a worker with a local landscaping firm, had a job to do. Continue reading
Recycle to save the planet? Photograph: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd/Getty Images
A public service request for your input, from the Guardian:
The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific and philosophical concepts
What is the single most effective thing I could do to reduce my carbon footprint? Without dying, preferably. Andrew Hufnagel, Caithness
Post your answers (and new questions) below or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. A selection will be published on Sunday.
Behind the scenes at CORe, Waste Management’s Central Organics Recycling facility in Charlestown, Massachusetts, where food waste is processed to be added to wastewater and turned into biogas and fertilizer. Photo by Saima Sidik.
Food waste has been a perennial topic in these pages since we started covering environmental issues. Thanks to Gastropod for point us to the future of this topic:
Food takes up more space in American landfills than anything else. About 30 to 40 percent of food produced in the US gets thrown away, rather than eaten. What’s more, putting all that rotting food inside landfills produces a lot of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Continue reading
Decarbonization would be easier if we could bank clean energy for later. Illustrations by Hudson Christie
Thanks to Matthew Hutson for the article in the current edition of the New Yorker titled The Renewable-Energy Revolution Will Need Renewable Storage:
We need to vastly expand our energy-storage capacity if we’re to avoid climate catastrophe.
An impression of a £1.3bn tidal lagoon project, which the government refused to back in 2018. Photograph: Tidal Lagoon Power/PA
Most of our attention to ocean water is focused on the climate, and the few renewable energy stories with oceans featured have been about offshore wind projects. Today’s news corrects the deficit of attention to the power of tidal waves:
Experts say Wales has huge potential for generating renewable marine power, yet, so far, ambitious schemes have been ignored
South Stack lighthouse on Holy Island, north Wales: construction on the island’s tidal stream project has just begun. Photograph: Getty Images
On the stunning and craggy coastline of Holy Island in north Wales, work has started on a construction project to generate energy from one of the world’s greatest untapped energy resources: tidal power.
The Morlais project, on the small island off the west of Anglesey has benefited from £31m in what is likely to be the last large grant for Wales from the European Union’s regional funding programme. It will install turbines at what will be one of the largest tidal stream energy sites in the world, covering 13 square miles of the seabed. Continue reading
No commentary needed, as far as we are concerned.