Happy Earth Day 2018

Happy Earth Day 2018!

“In our obscurity, in all this vastness,
there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere
to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the onl world known so far to harbor life.

There is no where else, at least in the near future,
to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet.

Like it or not, for the moment,
the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is humbling, and
character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the
folly of human conceits than this distant image.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more
kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish
the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

– Carl Sagan

“I want to know my ancestors–all of them.
I want to be a good, strong link in the chain of generations.
I want to protect my children and the children
of ages to come.
We, who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos,
we’ve begun to learn the story of our origins–star stuff
contemplating the evolution of matter, tracing that long path by which it arrived
at consciousness.
We and the other living things on this planet carry a legacy of cosmic evolution
spanning billions of years.
If we take that knowledge to heart,
if we come to know and love nature as it really is,
then we will surely be remembered by our descendents as good,
strong links in the chain of life.
And our children will continue this sacred searching,
seeing for us as we have seen for those who came before,
discovering wonders yet undreamt of…in the cosmos.”
– Neil DeGrasse-Tyson

(Quoted from Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey S1:E13 Unafraid of the Dark)

Mutant Enzyme that Eats Plastic Bottles

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident as posted in the Guardian recently on April 16th! The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.

The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”

Original link here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles

Drawdown EcoChallenge

The Drawdown EcoChallenge is a fun and social way to learn about and take action on the 100 climate solutions featured in the seminal work of Paul Hawken “Drawdown.”

From April 4-25, individuals and teams from around the world will take part in simple daily activities to reduce their carbon footprints and delve into the world’s most substantive solutions to global warming. At the end of the Challenge, the teams with the most points will win great prizes, including copies of Drawdown and a one-hour video session with Paul Hawken!

The EcoChallenges are broken down into these sections (with an added note of current participants):

LAND USE (1260)

ELECTRICITY GENERATION (1751)

FOOD (3156)

WOMEN AND GIRLS (1392)

BUILDINGS AND CITIES (1598)

TRANSPORT (1814)

MATERIALS (2094)

Executive Director of Drawdown, Hawken states “All of life is comprised of self-organizing systems and the Drawdown EcoChallenge is exactly that—people coming together to share, learn, support, imagine, and innovate for a better world. We are honored to be a part of this significant and brilliant initiative.”

Visit http://www.drawdown.org/ecochallenge for more information!

Biocarbon Engineering Drones

Biocarbon Engineering, headed by CEO Lauren Fletcher is a company seeking to plant 1 BILLION trees every year using drone technology. By mapping out a grid in deforested regions, a single operator can control and automate up to 15 drones which can put in roughly 360 current-standard man hours of tree planting each day. Each drone precisely propels down biodegradable seedpods that are designed to enhance germination success. With their research and development they are looking to overcome varied challenging environments, manage large-scale projects and utilize their drone technology for precision planting to help restore entire ecosystems for the planet.

Their team is comprised of experts in the fields of physics, environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, UAV swarm intelligence, UAV design and control, environmental resource management, forestry maintenance, electrical engineering, mechatronics, robotics, automation engineering, environmental data analysis and more.

For more information visit their website: https://www.biocarbonengineering.com

CEF FFT: Imagine a world where we see their goal met of 1 billion trees planted per year. What kind of effect would that have in drawing down carbon emissions?

Mental Health and Climate

Here is an excerpt from the 2017 APA Mental Health on Climate white-paper:

MENTAL HEALTH
The ability to process information and make decisions
without being disabled by extreme emotional responses is
threatened by climate change. Some emotional response is
normal, and even negative emotions are a necessary part of
a fulfilling life. In the extreme case, however, they can interfere
with our ability to think rationally, plan our behavior, and
consider alternative actions. An extreme weather event can
be a source of trauma, and the experience can cause
disabling emotions. More subtle and indirect effects of
climate change can add stress to people’s lives in varying
degrees. Whether experienced indirectly or directly, stressors
to our climate translate into impaired mental health that can
result in depression and anxiety (USGCRP, 2016). Although
everyone is able to cope with a certain amount of stress,
the accumulated effects of compound stress can tip a
person from mentally healthy to mentally ill. Even uncertainty
can be a source of stress and a risk factor for psychological
distress (Greco & Roger, 2003). People can be negatively
affected by hearing about the negative experiences of
others, and by fears—founded or unfounded—about their
own potential vulnerability.
PHYSICAL HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH
Compromised physical health can be a source of stress
that threatens psychological well-being. Conversely, mental
health problems can also threaten physical health, for
example, by changing patterns of sleep, eating, or exercise
and by reducing immune system function.
COMMUNITY HEALTH
Although residents’ mental and physical health affect
communities, the impacts of climate on community health
can have a particularly strong effect on community fabric
and interpersonal relationships. Altered environmental
conditions due to climate change can shift the opportunities
people have for social interaction, the ways in which they
relate to each other, and their connections to the
natural world.

Link to article: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-health-climate.pdf

Aclima

Until now. Beginning in 2015, a pair of Google Street View cars, equipped with high tech “mobile labs” developed by San Francisco–based startup Aclima, crisscrossed the streets of West Oakland taking second-by-second samples of the area’s air. They tested for nitrogen dioxide and a type of pollution known as black carbon (bad for your heart and lungs, not to mention the planet), as well as nitric oxide. The cars hit every stretch of pavement, from tiny cul-de-sacs to truck-choked Peralta Street, multiple times, taking millions of measurements.

There are three stationary air pollution monitors for all of Oakland, which reveal the city’s air quality as a whole. But the Street View cars can tell you what the air is like at, say, the corner of Market Street and Grand Avenue—basically anywhere you can drive a Street View car. They can even tell you how the air varies from one end of a single block to the other for a truly hi-res view of the problem.The result: one of the largest and most granular data sets of urban air pollution ever assembled in the world.

Quoting Google’s interview on Aclima: “We visited each block on between 20 and 50 different days over the course of a year,” says Joshua Apte, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In the process, they were able to identify patterns they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. “If pollution spikes for an instant, it may or may not be such a bad thing. But if pollution is consistently high, that’s something we really should care about.”

Imagine what difference awareness on air pollution can make when this information becomes more accessible!

Visit https://aclima.io/ for more information!

OBRIST C-Transformer

Let us welcome the “OBRIST C-Transformer.” It is a machine that founder Frank Obrist says “will help nature do what nature does best. Just a little bit faster. For our future.”

Although the machine is in prototype, the team has offered details on how it will operate: “Navigating through the forest, the OBRIST C-Transformer will char trunks of old trees and dig the biochar into the forest soil, binding its carbon. This very fertile soil will become the nursery for fresh tree seeds to that new vegetation can immediately start to grow. It will also have the capability to plant new trees within the fertile soil that is created.

Obrist has stated that they work closely with permaculture experts and scientists who continuously make sure that the natural balance of the environment is maintained. He says they also use a “thrice-conducted spiral route” for the OBRIST C-Transformer that will ensure every area will only be prepared and processed once every 45 years. They offer a video explanation and further details to answer some of our immediate questions.

Go through their “choose-your-own-adventure” style FAQ section and start the conversation by sharing your ideas! They are openly admitting that there are some issues still needing to be resolved. You can also check out input from other people.

Check out this project online and decide how you would like to get involved. Watch over, support the OBRIST C-Transformer  Crowdfunding project that seeks to protect our world and humanity.

The Climate Mobilization

Why join the mobilization?

Well, the planet is warming and its okay to be afraid. Climate change threatens the collapse of civilization within this century. Confronting this crisis is the great moral imperative of our time.

The Climate Mobilization is a grassroots movement which demands a government-led mobilization to restore a safe climate;  calls for full employment and fair, shared sacrifice; demands a rapid transformation of our energy and agriculture systems; and calls on politicians to pledge to mobilize.

Visit their site www.theclimatemobilization.org to learn more and get involved!

(Photo is adapted from The Climate Mobilization “Blueprint for a Climate Emergency Movement”)

First Smog-filtering Bicycles

Millions of Chinese cyclists may soon be able to ditch their air-pollution masks. Dutch innovation firm Studio Roosegaarde has partnered with bike-share startup ofo to develop a new model that can collect polluted air, purify it, and release the clean air around the cyclist. Studio founder Daan Roosegaarde confirms to Quartz that the first prototype of the smog-sucking “future bike” is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

How about we filter polluted air while riding bicycles? Sounds like a win-win to me!

Visit the source link for more info: www.qz.com

(Photo credit: Studio Roosegaarde)

The Need to GROW

The team at Earth Conscious Films aims to raise awareness to issues like our broken food system.  This same team helped bring together the documentary “GMO OMG” and now has a new documentary film “The Need to GROW” which is still being funded. They are passionate about this project because virtually every environmental condition can be mitigated with healthy soils together with the decentralizing and localizing of our food system. Spreading awareness will have a huge part to play in ensuring we protect the environment for future generations to continue growing a healthy food supply. That is why this film holds great importance.

Visit http://www.theneedtogrow.com/ for more information and their sizzle reel for the film which is now needing funding for their post-production. Support their cause by helping fund their project: https://www.gofundme.com/theneedtogrow also follow them and their story on IG @TheNeedToGrow

If some 70% of the Earth’s topsoil crucial for growing food is gone, we’ve got to do something about it as a world!