We have not heard news of Joost Bakker in over a decade, so Max Veenhuyzen’s profile and introduction to the documentary previewed above is most welcome:
‘We can have houses covered with biology, plants, ecosystems and waterfalls’: Greenhouse by Joost documents the green-thinking initiatives of Future Food System. Photograph: Dean Bradley/Madman Entertainment
Mushroom walls and waste-fuelled stoves: inside the self-sufficient home of tomorrow
Joost Bakker believes a house can be more than a place to live: it can be a self-sustaining weapon against the climate crisis. A new Australian documentary explores his bold blueprint
Future Food System is anchored by self-watering garden beds filled with 35 tonnes of soil. Photograph: Earl Carter Images
“The most destructive things we humans do,” says Joost Bakker, “is eat.”
In terms of sentences that grab your attention, the introduction to new Australian documentary Greenhouse by Joost is right up there. Then again, Bakker – a multi-disciplinary designer, no-waste advocate and the film’s eponymous protagonist – has long been something of a provocateur. Continue reading
(Photo credit: Jonathan Cutrer / CC BY-NC 2.0)
Our thanks to Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media and Molly Matthews Multedo via Yale Climate Connections for keeping us ahead of the curve:
Like mineral sunscreen, it works by reflecting UVA and UVB rays from the sun.
Biking or walking on a hot day can make you feel like you’re in an oven because dark pavement absorbs and retains heat. But applying a special coating to streets and bike paths could help cool them off. Continue reading
A delivery robot makes its rounds at Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town in Japan.Credit: Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO/Alamy
Frustrated but determined leadership on environmental challenges facing urban constituencies is worthy of our attention and even admiration, even if “smart cities” can be problematic terminology. Nature magazine offers this snapshot from Japan:
Houses equipped with solar panels in Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town.Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty
Why Japan is building smart cities from scratch
Purpose-built sustainable communities can boost energy efficiency and support an ageing population.
By 2050, nearly 7 out of 10 people in the world will live in cities, up from just over half in 2020. Urbanization is nothing new, but an effort is under way across many high-income countries to make their cities smarter, using data, instrumentation and more efficient resource management. Continue reading
Illustration by Leif Gann-Matzen
Our gratitude to Eliza Griswold, writing in the New Yorker this week, for a look at research hinting at a potential solution to myriad challenges, that has the ring of alchemy to it:
Port Arthur’s Motiva Oil Refinery.PHOTOGRAPH: KATIE THOMPSON
The capturing of carbon is a concept we have been working to understand, but questions about where it goes and how it is stored, have been fuzzy until now (thanks to Jeffrey Ball at Wired):
The new mechanism (pictured) could replace traditional vapor-compression cooling technology, which has remained largely unchanged since the early 20th century.
Oddly, we have only mentioned air conditioning twice before in our pages since 2011. So much of the human population is in need of it, and its carbon footprint is so problematic, it presents a significant challenge to efforts to mitigate climate change. Here is reason to mention it again:
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jarad Mason (left) and co-author Jinyoung Seo have developed a new class of solid-state refrigerants that could enable energy-efficient and emission-free cooling. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Keeping cool without warming the planet
A summer dilemma worthy of Solomon: how to stay cool in days of high heat and humidity without turning to traditional air conditioning, which consumes vast amounts of electricity and emits potent climate-changing greenhouse gases.
The answer potentially involves a new class of solid-state refrigerants that could enable energy-efficient and emission-free cooling. Continue reading
Solar panels on Paul Knowlton’s farm in Grafton, Mass. Cattle will graze below the panels, which rise to 14 feet above the ground. Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
The concept of agrivoltaics has been an occasional topic in our pages over the years, most recently as we have prepared to plant thousands of coffee saplings. Ellen Rosen focuses our attention on how the advances in technology, and entrepreneurship in this space, are addressing the challenges:
Companies like BlueWave are betting on it. But the technology has its critics.
Mr. Knowlton preparing the soil between the panels before he plants butternut squash and lettuce. Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
In its 150-year history, Paul Knowlton’s farm in Grafton, Mass., has produced vegetables, dairy products and, most recently, hay. The evolution of the farm’s use turned on changing markets and a variable climate. Recently, however, Mr. Knowlton added a new type of cash crop: solar power. Continue reading
A lionfish caught off Venezuela, where the authorities organise sport fishing competitions to curb the dangerous proliferation of the invasive species. Photograph: Yuri Cortéz/AFP/Getty
Lionfish came to our attention in a series of posts starting in 2014. That year we came to see that fighting this invasive species would require innovative entrepreneurial conservation methods. We published more posts and series about initiatives in the years since then, but the problem continued to grow. For some reason the stories about initiatives started fading from our attention and then stopped with a post in 2018. Now, 22 posts since the first post and four years since the last one, lionfish are back in our thoughts thanks to Inversa’s innovation:
Lionfish leather. Inversa says it is helping to solve an environmental crisis by using an invasive species that eats lots of other fish but has no predators in much of its range. Photograph: Inversa
An avid diver saw how lionfish have devastated populations of Florida’s native tropical fish and resolved to help solve the problem
Aarav Chavda has been diving off the coast of Florida for years. Each time he became increasingly depressed by the ever-growing void, as colourful species of fish and coral reefs continued to disappear. Continue reading
Until reading about them in this newsletter I read each week, Blair Palese, Peter McKillop and the Climate & Capital Media team were not on my radar. Now they are, and I enjoyed reading what they have written to Jeff Bezos about changing the game:
- Following a stunning shareholder coup, Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes becomes the world’s first corporate raider with a mission to radically reduce Australia’s carbon footprint.
- Cannon-Brookes made billions in software, but he is not retiring from the game in order to “give back” in the gentlemanly pursuit of charity.
- His victorious raid demonstrates that real climate action requires more than just writing checks.
- Instead Cannon-Brookes channeled corporate raider Carl Icahn, investor Henry Kravis, feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, Cajun political strategist James Carville and to do what no person has ever done: Merge political, financial, shareholder, and climate action into a single, ground-breaking capitalist moment to take on global warming.
- We thought Jeff Bezos should know Mike.
Dear Jeff Bezos,
Greetings from Climate & Capital Media. We tried to send you a message on LinkedIn, but there are like at least two dozen Jeff Bezoses and you are not one of them. We applaud your commitment to climate action and setting up the $10 Billion charitable Earth Fund.
But word in New York is you are a tad frustrated with the fund’s impact. Continue reading
An image of a man in boots in a kelp hatchery
Since kelp grows as fast as two feet per day, it absorbs a huge amount of carbon through photosynthesis. (Jamie Walter / Running Tide)
Kelp has featured in our pages frequently enough to be considered an important topic. It will be a partial solution to something big. Thanks, as always, to Robinson Meyer for the weekly newsletter that sometimes depresses the spirit but on other occasions, like this one, titled How to Fight Climate Change With Buoys That Look Like Ramen Noodles, points a small ray of hope in an unexpected direction:
Running Tide’s buoys are made of reclaimed waste wood, limestone, and kelp seedlings. (Jamie Walter / Running Tide)
Last month, somewhere off the coast of Maine, a small group of researchers and engineers released a series of tiny, floating objects into the water. The team called them “buoys,” but they looked more like a packet of uncooked ramen noodles glued to a green party streamer than anything of the navigational or weather-observing variety. These odd jellyfish had one role in life: to go away and never be seen again. With any luck, their successors would soon be released into the open ocean, where they would float away, absorb a small amount of carbon from the atmosphere, then sink to the bottom of the seafloor, where their residue would remain for thousands of years. 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
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
(Brandon Thibodeaux / The New York Times / Redux)
When I read about a promising new technology related to carbon sequestration, I am ambivalent based on the experience of many past false hopes. Carbon is a very large problem. Finding new methods of sequestration is a very challenging puzzle.
I track such developments every week by reading the newsletter that Bill McKibben posts on Substack. Most weeks I post something here from that, and do my best to balance the terrifying and enraging with the more hopeful news he occasionally shares there.
The only other newsletter I read regularly is Robinson Meyer’s newsletter for the Atlantic, called The Weekly Planet. Here is one of his worth reading for a bit of encouragement (when you click the hyperlink it will go to the current newsletter, which until April 20 is this one; after April 20 scroll to find this edition):
The world’s biggest tech companies are getting serious about carbon removal, the still-nascent technology wherein humanity can pull heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Yesterday, an alliance of prominent Silicon Valley companies—including Google, Meta, Shopify, and the payment company Stripe—announced that it is purchasing $925 million in carbon removal over the next eight years. In a world awash in overhyped corporate climate commitments, this is actually a big deal. Continue reading
Knives are the oldest type of manufactured tool, and they’re still evolving. Karsten Moran for The New York Times
I last posted on the topic of knives earlier this year, partly because the onetime blacksmith apprentice in me felt compelled to salute the skillset, but mainly because the mission behind the knife-making in that case was worth promoting.
Otherwise, culinary utensils do not get much attention in our pages. Ceiba being the celebrated exception to that general rule–wooden culinary utensils, but no knives. Derrick Bryson Taylor offers us a good reason to revisit this neglect:
Knives are humanity’s oldest tool, dating back millions of years. A group of scientists in Maryland have produced a version made of hardened wood, which they say is sharper than steel.
More than 60 years ago in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” Julia Child, one of America’s most emulated chefs, described the necessity of decent, reliable kitchen equipment. Continue reading
Schoonschip, a floating home development in Amsterdam. ISABEL NABUURS
Shira Rubin, writing in Yale e360, offers a view of Holland’s innovative housing approach to a future where the increase in waterscape can become an advantage. And she illustrates how this might be of use in other parts of the world facing the same challenges from rising seas:
Faced with worsening floods and a shortage of housing, the Netherlands is seeing growing interest in floating homes. These floating communities are inspiring more ambitious Dutch-led projects in flood-prone nations as far-flung as French Polynesia and the Maldives.
When a heavy storm hit in October, residents of the floating community of Schoonschip in Amsterdam had little doubt they could ride it out. They tied up their bikes and outdoor benches, checked in with neighbors to ensure everyone had enough food and water, and hunkered down as their neighborhood slid up and down its steel foundational pillars, rising along with the water and descending to its original position after the rain subsided. Continue reading
From left to right, SEM image of raw cotton and Natural Fiber Welding’s CLARUS® cotton. COURTESY OF NATURAL FIBER WELDING
We look forward to hearing more as they progress:
The steel industry produces around two billion tons of it each year, while emitting more than three billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Photograph by Christine Olsson / Alamy
The ratio of carbon dioxide produced, relative to steel produced, is surprising. The bigger surprise is how to improve that ratio: