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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Amazing Science
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Soil's large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth

Soil's large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Researchers based at Princeton University report in the journal Nature Climate Change that the carbon in soil—which contains twice the amount of carbon in all plants and Earth's atmosphere combined—could become increasingly volatile as people add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, largely because of increased plant growth. The researchers developed the first computer model to show at a global scale the complex interaction between carbon, plants and soil, which includes numerous bacteria, fungi, minerals and carbon compounds that respond in complex ways to temperature, moisture and the carbon that plants contribute to soil.


Although a greenhouse gas and pollutant, carbon dioxide also supports plant growth. As trees and other vegetation flourish in a carbon dioxide-rich future, their roots could stimulate microbial activity in soil that in turn accelerates the decomposition of soil carbon and its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the researchers found.


This effect counters current key projections regarding Earth's future carbon cycle, particularly that greater plant growth could offset carbon dioxide emissions as flora take up more of the gas, said first author Benjamin Sulman, who conducted the modeling work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton Environmental Institute.


"You should not count on getting more carbon storage in the soil just because tree growth is increasing," said Sulman, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Indiana University.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Arrival Cities
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Ecopolis: The emergence of 'regenerative cities'

Ecopolis: The emergence of 'regenerative cities' | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Professor Herbert Girardet has spent much of his working life on this issue and has come up with the concept of ‘regenerative cities' that aims to set out a roadmap of transformation in the way cities function - and also offers hope that humanity's fate need not be one of resource wars, conflict and climate chaos.

 

Girardet gradually came to realise that the concept of ‘sustainability' is no longer fit for purpose;

 

"Today there is much less to sustain than when the term was coined in the 1980s. We've exceeded the limits to growth on nearly every aspect of development. Sustainable development will not dig us out of the hole we find ourselves in. We have to start thinking in terms of regenerative development. This means working towards giving back to nature as much we take.

 

So, what is a regenerative city - ‘Ecopolis'? It is one that relies primarily on local and regional food supplies; it is powered, heated, cooled and driven by renewable energy, and it reuses resources and restores degraded ecosystems. This is diametrically opposed to how many cities are currently run: they use resources without concern for their origins or destination of their waste products; they emit vast amounts of carbon dioxide without ensuring reabsorption and they consume huge amounts of meat produced mainly with imported feed, often from devastated rainforest regions.

 

Waste management is an absolutely key concept in regenerative cities as it not only reduces waste going to landfill, but helps capture organic waste for composting, increases the recovery of recyclables and facilitates the growth of small businesses that use the ‘waste' as raw materials.

 

For instance, since 2006 the city of Oakland, California, has worked to implement a strategic target of Zero Waste, and has already achieved an incredible 75% reduction in waste dumping. This was accomplished by pursuing ‘upstream' redesign strategies to reduce the volume and toxicity of products and materials, and by improving ‘downstream' reuse and recycling of end-of-life products including the re-use of products and materials, to stimulate local economic and workforce development.


Local food production is also a key element of regenerative cities. Currently many cities import their foodstuffs from all over the world, resulting in huge and highly unsustainable ecological footprints.


Professor Girardet is eloquent and animated on the subject of regenerative cities. He believes that cities, at best, are important global assets and can be the places where solutions to the world's environmental and climate problems can be effectively implemented. It is in cities where creativity flourishes and people can interact and engage vigorously in the search for solutions.


We have to change course and to adapt and thrive in ‘Ecopolis' if humanity and the biosphere are to survive.


Via Steven Putter, ddrrnt
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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from green streets
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9 Essential Green Elements for the Development of Sustainable Cities

9 Essential Green Elements for the Development of Sustainable Cities | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Many cities are coming to the realization that creating a smart and sustainable city means ultimately attaining a high level of economic efficiency, a high quality of life, a highly desirable place in which to live and do business, and a meaningful commitment to environmental responsibility.

But what really makes for a green or sustainable city?  And how can sometimes highly diverse urban areas attain it?


LEED buildings and even LEED neighborhoods are surely a good thing, but they are not a sufficient thing to declare a municipality sustainable.  This is an overview of the essential elements (there are many more, but these are the most basic):

Committing to greenBuilding greenBuying greenPowering greenConserving nearby (and creating internal) green landscapesProtecting green:  both water quality and water quantityLocating green:  creating a compact, walkable, interconnected, mixed-use communityMoving green:  diversifying transportation and increasing accessibility(Not) wasting green:  getting to zero on the production of waste

 

Read the complete article for more on the green elements listed above...


Via Lauren Moss
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

100% Green is not fooling around.

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Jim Gramata's curator insight, April 12, 2013 9:59 AM

Nine basic concepts to achieve healthy sustainable buildings and cities. Piece of cake.

Noor Fatima's curator insight, April 12, 2013 1:05 PM

Exactly :)

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Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecology vs. Industrial Agriculture

Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecology vs. Industrial Agriculture | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
There are currently 1 billion people in the world today who are hungry. There's also another billion people who over eat unhealthy foods.

 

Food production around the world today is mostly done through industrial agriculture, and by judging current issues with obesity, worldwide food shortages, and the destruction of soil, it may not be the best process. We need to be able to feed our world without destroying it, and finding a more sustainable approach to accomplishing that is becoming more important.

 

The current system contributes to 1/3 of global emissions, is a polluter of our world’s water resources, and is a contributor to health problems. Industrial agriculture relies on mass produced, mechanized labor-saving policies that have pushed people out of rural areas and into cities, consolidating land and resources into fewer hands.

 

Agroecology looks to reduces agriculture’s impact on climate by working within natural systems. This is especially beneficial in rural areas, because the local community a major part of the growing process. The approach can conserve and protect soil and water — through terracing, contour farming, intercropping, and agroforestry — especially beneficial in areas where farmers lack modern irrigation infrastructure, or have farms situated on hillsides and other difficult farming sites.


Via Lauren Moss
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Clearly industrial agriculture is not sustainable, and must be replaced entirely with systems that reverse the current damage and restore the balance that used to exist before we messed things up.  We can use plants and animals not only to feed ourselves, but to *improve* the environment for all life on the planet.

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Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from > Environmental
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MARINE DEBRIS: Why would you move through the oceans if the oceans can move through you? - YouTube

Boyan Slat, founder and president The Ocean Cleanup: "I have invented a method to clean up almost half of the great Pacific's garbage patch in just 10 years, using the currents to my advantage." 

 

But the oceans won't get clean by means of just a great idea. The Ocean Cleanup aims to not only study the solution, but actually develop the world's first feasible approach to gyre remediation, by using the ocean's currents to its advantage. So there is much more work to be done. 


Via PeerSpring
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

After watching this video, and another video with Boyan reporting on the feasibility study: (http://www.theoceancleanup.com/blog/show/item/the-ocean-cleanup-release-event.html) I get the sense that we haven't really been trying hard enough yet to clean up our mess.  And that, ironically enough, gives me hope that there is so much more we can do.

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Daniel LaLiberte's comment, June 16, 2014 9:01 PM
Although Boyan only claims his "gadget" can clean up about half of the plastic in 10 years, the smaller bits, which are probably much more numerous, will also be important to clean up, and it will likely be much more difficult. Some complain that the whole idea seems naive (http://sco.lt/6HvjRB) but it looks like there is a reasonable value proposition here.
PeerSpring's comment, June 16, 2014 9:27 PM
Daniel - if to think without limits or confines is to be naive, then perhaps the world needs a little bit more of youth innovation? Thanks so much for your thoughtful contributions and re-scoops!
Daniel LaLiberte's comment, August 18, 2014 11:28 PM
It turns out that the amount of plastic in the oceans is quite a lot less than previously thought. Or we don't know where it is in any case, which is perhaps more disturbing: "Ninety-nine percent of the ocean's plastic is missing" http://sco.lt/6AJ3Uv
Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Agriculture and the Natural World
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Scientists develop CO2 sequestration technique that produces 'supergreen' hydrogen fuel

Scientists develop CO2 sequestration technique that produces 'supergreen' hydrogen fuel | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

(Phys.org) —Lawrence Livermore scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification.


The team demonstrated, at a laboratory scale, a system that uses the acidity normally produced in saline water electrolysis to accelerate silicate mineral dissolution while producing hydrogen fuel and other gases. The resulting electrolyte solution was shown to be significantly elevated in hydroxide concentration that in turn proved strongly absorptive and retentive of atmospheric CO2.

 

Further, the researchers suggest that the carbonate and bicarbonate produced in the process could be used to mitigate ongoing ocean acidification, similar to how an Alka Seltzer neutralizes excess acid in the stomach.

 

"When powered by renewable electricity and consuming globally abundant minerals and saline solutions, such systems at scale might provide a relatively efficient, high-capacity means to consume and store excess atmospheric CO2 as environmentally beneficial seawater bicarbonate or carbonate," Rau said. "But the process also would produce a carbon-negative 'super green' fuel or chemical feedstock in the form of hydrogen."


Via Darin Hoagland
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Seems natural to build such a process into a large number of offshore wind turbines, maybe combined with wave energy and solar energy systems.  The distribution of acid-neutralizing carbonate and bicarbonate would be as diffuse as the distributed energy generation. 

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Darin Hoagland's curator insight, May 29, 2013 10:03 PM

Interesting renewable fuel possibility and global warming correction.

Rescooped by Daniel LaLiberte from Amazing Science
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Wind power could generate all the world's electricity needs without large atmospheric disturbances

Wind power could generate all the world's electricity needs without large atmospheric disturbances | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

There is enough energy for people to reap from the wind to meet all of the world's power demands without radically altering the planet's climate, according to two independent teams of scientists.

 

Wind power is often touted as environmentally friendly, generating no pollutants. It is an increasingly popular source of renewable energy, with the United States aiming to produce 20 percent of its electricity by wind power by 2030. Still, there have been questions as to how much energy wind power can supply the world, and how green it actually is, given how it pulls energy from the atmosphere.

 

To learn more, climate scientist Katherine Marvel at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Calif., and her colleagues developed a global climate model that analyzed how wind turbines would drag on the atmosphere to harvest energy from winds at the planet's surface and higher altitudes. Historically, people have built wind turbines on the ground and in the ocean, but research suggests kite-borne turbines could generate more power from steadier, faster high-altitude winds.

 

Adding wind turbines of any kind slows winds, and Marvel and her colleagues found that adding more than a certain amount of turbines would no longer generate more electricity. Still, their simulations suggest that at least 400 terawatts -- or 400 trillion watts of power -- could be generated from surface winds, and more than 1,800 terawatts could be extracted from winds throughout the atmosphere. In comparison, people globally currently use about 18 terawatts of power.

 

Simulating a century's worth of amped-up wind-energy production suggests that harvesting maximum power from these winds would have dramatic long-term effects on the climate, triggering major shifts in atmospheric circulation.

 

In contrast, extracting enough wind energy to satisfy current global power demands would only have minimal climate effects, as long as wind turbines were spread out. Doing so might affect surface temperatures by about 0.1 degree Celsius and affect average precipitation by about 1 percent.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Since the maximum amount of wind energy is over 100 times all of our current energy needs, it is easy to see that enough wind turbines to satisfy our relatively small needs would have minimal impact on the environment. 

 

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