They’re more likely to listen to people they trust.
Rooftop solar panels can save people money on their electricity bills. And those savings can mean a lot — especially for people with low incomes, who might have to choose between paying for utilities or buying food or medicine…
A 3D-printed house made from sawdust and other timber industry waste by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. UNIVERSITY OF MAINE
Propelled by government investment and shareholder demand, manufacturers are pushing to get bio-based products into the marketplace. These new materials — made from plants, fungi, and microbes — aim to replace those that contain toxins and are difficult to recycle or reuse.
In the 1930s, the DuPont company created the world’s first nylon, a synthetic polymer made from petroleum. The product first appeared in bristles for toothbrushes, but eventually it would be used for a broad range of products, from stockings to blouses, carpets, food packaging, and even dental floss.
Nylon is still widely used, but, like other plastics, it has environmental downsides: it is made from a nonrenewable resource; its production generates nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas; it doesn’t biodegrade; and it sheds microfibers that end up in food, water, plants, animals, and even the clouds.
Laminated timber beams and floors used in the construction of Ascent, a 25-story apartment building in Milwaukee. THORNTON TOMASETTI
Now, however, a San Diego-based company called Genomatica is offering an alternative: a so-called plant-based nylon made through biosynthesis, in which a genetically engineered microorganism ferments plant sugars to create a chemical intermediate that can be turned into nylon-6 polymer chips, and then textiles. The company has partnered with Lululemon, Unilever, and others to manufacture this and other bio-based products that safely decompose. Continue reading →
A Rivian R1T electric pickup truck at the company’s factory in Normal, Illinois. JAMIE KELTER DAVIS / BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES
I had no reason to bet against Tesla until now, but I did wonder whether it was good for anyone (other than its shareholders) for that one company to dominate its market over the longer term. Now, happily, it looks like the market will do what we need it to do, which is get robust:
Spurred by federal mandates and incentives, U.S. manufacturers are pushing forward with developing new battery technologies for electric vehicles. The holy grail is a battery that is safer, costs less, provides longer driving range, and doesn’t use imported “conflict” minerals.
Sixteen years have passed since engineer Martin Eberhard unveiled his futuristic custom-designed sports car before a crowd of investors, journalists, and potential buyers in a Santa Monica Airport hangar. Continue reading →
A reason that the breakthrough is causing such hoopla is that it implicitly promises that we could use fusion to run the world in almost its current form. Photograph courtesy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Without the expertise to fully appreciate the science, the hoopla can be overlooked too easily. McKibben’s comment helps clarify:
In the meantime, we need to use the sun we’ve already got.
On Tuesday, the Department of Energy is expected to announce a breakthrough in fusion energy: according to early reports, scientists at the government’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California, have succeeded for the first time in making their complex and expensive machinery produce more power than it uses, if only for an instant. Continue reading →
The Bay of Fundy’s funnel shape is part of the reason for its exceptional tides. Along its 96 or so miles of length, the bay dramatically narrows and its depth drops, from 765 feet to 147 feet. David Goldman for The New York Times
The Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, has one of the world’s most powerful tides. Now, engineers and scientists hope to finally turn it into a clean energy source.
ABOARD THE PLAT-I 6.40 GENERATING PLATFORM, Nova Scotia — The Bay of Fundy, off the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, has long tantalized and frustrated engineers hoping to harness its record-setting 50-foot high tide to generate electricity. Continue reading →
As an energy crisis looms, nimble young activists are using superhero-like moves to switch off wasteful lights that stores leave on all night.
Kevin Ha extinguishing a store’s lights last month. Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Paris— After taking a few steps back to get a running start, Hadj Benhalima dashed toward the building, pushed against its wall with his foot, propelled himself upward and stretched out his arm.
At the peak of his leap, he flipped off a light switch, more than 10 feet off the ground. A click sound rang out, and the bright lights of a nearby barbershop went off instantly.
“Oooh,” his friends cheered, as Mr. Benhalima, a thin 21-year-old dressed all in black, landed back on the sidewalk. It was the second store sign he had turned off on a recent nighttime tour across Paris’s upscale neighborhoods. Many more would follow as he soared up and dropped back down across the city. Continue reading →
The earthworm in the photo above had been in a bag of soil where a coffee seedling started germinating earlier this year. I was moving the seedling from its small “starter” bag to a larger one, and the earthworm jumped out, wriggling under the nearby supplies I was working with. I did not see it again until it was too late. Since earthworms are good for soil, and we are in the early stages of a soil regeneration project, I was sorry to see the worm lose its life. This particular species of ant is currently everywhere on the property where we are re-planting coffee. I have not seen so many of this type of ant at any point in the last 22 years on this property, and their shocking abundance made me think of that new ant study. Normally we do not repeat sharing of news stories here, unless new information has come to light. It has only been a couple days, but I must share more on the study because my planting work is keeping the subject in front of me, and the photos in this article are that good.
Leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica. The researchers sampled 1,300 locations around the world, estimating ant abundance in different environments in areas such as forests and steppes. Bence Mate/Nature Picture Library, via Alamy
Rebecca Dzombak, who authored this article for the New York Times, will be on our radar from now on:
Weaver ants engaged in teamwork. Sunthorn Viriyapan/Alamy
There are 20 quadrillion ants worldwide, according to a new census, or 2.5 million for every living human. There are probably even more than that.
Male leaf cutter ants on the move over the Sonoran Desert in search of females and to make more ants. Norma Jean Gargasz/Alamy
Right now, ants are scurrying around every continent except Antarctica, doing the hard work of engineering ecosystems. They spread seeds, churn up soil and speed up decomposition. They forage and hunt and get eaten. You may not know how much you rely on them. Continue reading →
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 →
Grow wild Ordinarily only academics can walk on the grass courts of Cambridge’s colleges. Peter Dench
Tom Banham’s article in 1843, a masterpiece of longform writing on the topic of lawns, is preaching to the converted (me, at least). I live in a location with abundant rain and grass is more of a pest than the mainstay of beautifully manicured sprawling lawns (for which I am a sucker as much as anyone is).
We just planted the first couple dozen of 1,000+ coffee saplings and the grass on the hills where they are being planted plays a role in soil retention but we want the soil’s nutrients focused on the coffee. But there are plenty of more important reasons to be concerned about grass sprawl elsewhere:
Guardian graphic | Source: Boston Consulting Group
We were already convinced by testing (our own and others) that this product category would be important, but this study shows the importance to be practically off the charts in terms of reduced carbon footprint per dollar invested. Our thanks to Damian Carrington, the Guardian’s Environment editor, for bringing this to our attention:
Malte Clausen, a partner at BCG: ‘Widespread adoption of alternative proteins can play a critical role tackling climate change.’ Photograph: Nathaniel Noir/Alamy
Exclusive: Non-animal proteins can play critical role tackling climate crisis, says Boston Consulting Group
Investments in plant-based alternatives to meat lead to far greater cuts in climate-heating emissions than other green investments, according to one of the world’s biggest consultancy firms.
The report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that, for each dollar, investment in improving and scaling up the production of meat and dairy alternatives resulted in three times more greenhouse gas reductions Continue reading →
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 →
In February, Bank of America offered its employees a notable perk: If they had worked at the bank for at least three years, and made less than $250,000, then it would give them $4,000 to buy a new electric car. (Employees interested in merely leasing an EV could claim $2,000.) The move, attached to a company-wide round of salary increases, wasn’t the first time that the bank had made the offer; it had made a similar one in 2015, and again in 2020, although those incentives had also applied to gas-electric hybrids. Continue reading →
Climate inaction is a theme bookending the first decade of our chronicling news stories and analytical essays. Why, we have stopped bothering to wonder, is inaction so persistent? Whether activism or other forms of action, there is not enough of it relative to the scale of the crisis. We thank Eleanor Cummins, a freelance science journalist and adjunct professor at New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program for these ideas as published in Wired:
When it comes to issues like climate change, too many let the perfect become the enemy of the good, while the world burns.
LESS THAN A decade ago, “wait and see” arguments about climate change still circulated. “We often hear that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ about climate change,” physicist Steven E. Koonin wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2014. “But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.” The idea was that the world needed more data before it could respond to the threat posed by global warming—assuming such research indicated a response was even necessary. 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
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 →
What would Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) make of his works today, in the bicentennial year of his birth? No doubt he would be delighted by the survival and continued popularity of so many of his big-city parks, particularly Central Park and Prospect Park, but also parks in Boston, Chicago, and Montreal, as well as Buffalo, Detroit, Rochester, and Louisville. He might be surprised by the bewildering range of activities these parks now accommodate—not only boating and ice-skating, as in his day, but exercising, jogging, picnicking, and games, as well as popular theatrical and musical events. I don’t think this variety would displease him. After all, it was he who introduced free band concerts in Central Park, over the objections of many of his strait-laced colleagues. He would be pleased by the banning of automobiles; his winding carriage drives were never intended for fast—and noisy—traffic. Continue reading →