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We absolutely can reduce our ecological footprint all the way down to zero!
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Circular economy solutions for a sustainable world

Circular economy solutions for a sustainable world | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The circular economy - a concept which ensures that products are designed with their eventual reuse, upcycling or biodegradation in mind - emerged as the most prominent trend that is driving the innovation of sustainable solutions worldwide, according to Sustainia100, a report released on Monday by Scandinavian think thank Sustainia.


Circular economy thinking was evident in a quarter of all solutions, including Japanese manufacturer Teijin, whose “Eco Circle” recycling process makes it possible to recycle polyester products multiple times without compromising on quality. This process helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 77 per cent compared to new polyester made by petroleum, according to Teijin.


Laura Storm, director of Sustainia, commented: “We are seeing how especially the circular economy is a growing focus area. Companies re-think consumption, waste, materials and return-systems at impressive scale”.


“The global pressure on our natural resources has led to increased resource scarcity, which calls upon industries to transform their way of operating. Clever use of materials is a key innovation driver,” she added.


Via John Casey
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Researchers Assign Monetary Value to Nature to Promote Sustainability

Researchers Assign Monetary Value to Nature to Promote Sustainability | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

In a study published recently in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) and Yale University have developed a first-of-its-kind, interdisciplinary equation to estimate the current monetary value of natural resources such as fish stocks, groundwater or forests in the U.S. In assigning natural capital monetary value, the approach will have widespread implications for policymakers and various stakeholders, and will also advocate for the creation of robust asset markets for natural capital, a much-needed advance.


Unlike earlier approaches, the method takes into consideration the “opportunity cost” of losing future units of natural capital that could have helped replenish the resource, providing economic benefits in the long run. It is underpinned by the economic principles also used to value physical or human capital.


“Sustainability can be defined as ensuring that the assets the next generation inherits are worth at least as much as they were when the previous generation received them,” said Abbott. “As humans, we are not going to have zero impact on the environment, but we want to make sure that the value of human, physical and natural capital that we pass on to future generations is worth no less than when we inherited them.”

 

“We are pursuing this research to help provide better measurements of society’s wealth, so we can know whether we’re moving in a sustainable direction,” Abbott concluded. 


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Not only can humans have zero impact on the environment, we can do better than that.  If we can ensure that the world's natural assets have *more* value in the future, then we will be *improving* the environment. This is absolutely physically possible.  

 

We can ensure that enough fish remain in the oceans such that fish populations can actually *grow*. We can ensure that our agricultural practices actually *improve* the soil, as we use some of its products, and recycle 100% of our waste back to the land.  After we shut down the fossil fuel industry entirely, we can sequester some fraction of CO2 out of what we burn in biofuels, until we get back to the balance nature has depended on for millennia.

 

Measuring the value of natural assets could be abused, of course, if it is not done properly. Some might say we should never put a price on nature, but perhaps the proper price for natural resources should gradually grow arbitrarily high until we learn to leave nature alone.

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Rethinking waste: Transforming problems into solutions (video)

Rethinking waste: Transforming problems into solutions (video) | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Sometimes, even the most diehard enviros among us forget that resources are all around, including those things we consider to be waste.

 

There's an argument to be made that the only time something is actually waste is if we don't know how to put it to work, and that by making an effort to recognize so-called waste items as really being resources, we can improve our lives, our homes and communities, and perhaps our entire world.

 

"I believe there should be no such word as 'waste', because as long as there is a word, we're 'wasting'.  We do everything we can to turn waste in to resources." 

 


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Doubling Renewable Energy Will Save Money And Help Climate

Doubling Renewable Energy Will Save Money And Help Climate | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
New research from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) suggests that scaling up the percentage of the world's renewable energy usage to 36% of the world's total energy consumption by 2030 is not only going to be healthy for the environment, but is also able to produce savings of up to $740 billion per year

 

“The central policy question is this: What energy sources do we want to invest in? 


“In answering this question, ‘REmap 2030’ makes a clear case for renewables. It shows the transition is affordable based on existing technologies, and that the benefits go well beyond the positive climate impact. Countries today face a clear choice for a sustainable energy future.”


IRENA believe that by doubling renewable energy usage to 36%, the global demand for oil and gas would drop by 15% and by 26% for coal. This not only benefits the climate as a whole, but has immediate and long-term benefits for health affected by pollution, as well as energy security for countries currently reliant upon energy imports.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If doubling renewable energy in 16 years will save money, how much more money would doubling it again save?   If we grow all renewable energy sources, excluding hydro which can't grow much more, starting from 16% of total energy, by a mere 12% per year, we will reach 100% in 16 years.  Wind and solar are already growing at about 30% a year.

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Carbon Footprint of Solar Panels Made in China Far Exceeds Panels Made in Europe - CleanTechies

Carbon Footprint of Solar Panels Made in China Far Exceeds Panels Made in Europe - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
How green is the manufacturing process for solar panels? According to a new study from Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, solar panels made in China and used in Europe have a carbon footprint that is about twice as high as solar panels made locally in Europe.

 

The study found that although shifting manufacturing to China might be economically attractive, “it is actually less sustainable from the life cycle energy and environmental perspective – especially under the motivation of using solar panels for a more sustainable future”.

 

According to the study, a solar panel made in China would need to be used for 20 to 30 percent longer than a European made panel to produce energy to cancel out the energy used to make it.

 

The study did not include the energy cost to transport the solar panels to their final destination. Had this cost been included in the study, the gap would be magnified further.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is critical to include the full life cycle energy costs for all products, particularly energy related products.  But note that the solar panels from China do eventually cancel out the energy used to make them.  It just takes longer.

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Interview: San Francisco's Quest To Recycle All Trash by 2020

Interview: San Francisco's Quest To Recycle All Trash by 2020 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Jack Macy's recycling crusade that has resulted in the city reusing or composting 80 percent of its garbage.

 

Jack Macy: I think what’s important is looking at nature — in nature all the waste is used in the ecosystem and is a resource. And if we look at what is considered waste, it’s actually valuable material. So “zero waste” acknowledges the inherent value of discarded materials as valuable resources. 

 

For every ton of material that we dispose of in a landfill or burn in an incinerator, to replace those products, we have to go and extract typically virgin resources, raw materials. This extraction process, and the refining, manufacturing, and transportation, results in creating many times more waste — on average more than 70 times the amount of waste. And so if we can reduce, reuse, or recycle that ton, then we are saving up to 70 tons. 

 

e360: And what about the materials in the landfill? 

 

Macy: Those materials in the landfill are basically being wasted unless we go back in the future and mine them — which I think we’ll probably be doing. But once you mix them together, you’re degrading them and contaminating them. Also, when you put materials in the landfill, if they’re organic materials, they’re creating significant methane emissions. And then you have leachate and other pollution — you have all these other impacts. All of that is unsustainable. So if we want to move towards a sustainable system, then zero waste makes sense as a vision. 

 

Macy: People like the fact that they can recycle so many things and compost all their food scraps. Our communication talks about the great benefits of composting and how the compost goes back to feed the farms and soil for healthy food. That’s coming back into the city, so we’re closing the nutrient-organic composting loop, and that is a great sustainability story. 

 

People like having a healthy environment here, and they support sustainability if it doesn’t feel like too much of a burden.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Since San Francisco is already recycling about 80% of their trash without enormous effort or cost, we should all be following their lead.

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Microalgae-based biofuel can help to meet world energy demand, researchers say

Microalgae-based biofuel can help to meet world energy demand, researchers say | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Microalgae-based biofuel not only has the potential to quench a sizable chunk of the world's energy demands, say Utah State University researchers. It's a potential game-changer.

 

"That's because microalgae produces much higher yields of fuel-producing biomass than other traditional fuel feedstocks and it doesn't compete with food crops," says USU mechanical engineering graduate student Jeff Moody.


Using meteorological data from 4,388 global locations, the team determined the current global productivity potential of microalgae.

 

Algae, he says, yields about 2,500 gallons of biofuel per acre per year. In contrast, soybeans yield approximately 48 gallons; corn about 18 gallons.


"In addition, soybeans and corn require arable land that detracts from food production," Quinn says. "Microalgae can be produced in non-arable areas unsuitable for agriculture."

 

The researchers estimate untillable land in Brazil, Canada, China and the U.S. could be used to produce enough algal biofuel to supplement more than 30 percent of those countries' fuel consumption.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Land that is not used for food can be used to produce algae-based biofuel to meet a large fraction of the world's energy needs.  But another alternative is vertical farming in urban areas, where we can create as much space as we need.  

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CCRES's curator insight, May 29, 2014 1:45 AM

Microalgae-based biofuel not only has the potential to quench a sizable chunk of the world's energy demands, say Utah State University researchers. It's a potential game-changer.

CCRES ALGAE TEAM

Tekrighter's curator insight, May 29, 2014 10:30 AM

Here's a way to produce biofuels that does not compete with food production.

Eric Chan Wei Chiang's curator insight, May 30, 2014 2:50 AM

This study highlights the commercial viability of algae biofuels.


The game changing aspect of the technology is that it does not contribute to food insecurity http://sco.lt/5CifIH, a global issue aggravated by climate change http://sco.lt/86HUtl.


However, would we garner enough political will to wrest monopoly from oil and gas companies?

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Designing cities and factories with urban agriculture in mind

Designing cities and factories with urban agriculture in mind | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The Netherlands offers inspiration for designers looking to create environments that harvest water, energy and nutrients.

 

Urban farms are transforming inner city spaces – rooftops, infrastructure, streetscapes, building skin – into generative ecologies that support the lives of people, and pollinators too. They are bringing into cities, and into plain view, the natural systems that sustain urban life.


The renewal of urban agriculture offers hope for a more positive, regenerative relationship between natural systems and human communities. From a design perspective, integrating agriculture into urbanism dramatically improves the generative capacity of buildings, landscapes, infrastructure and cities. Planning to grow urban food leads to essential questions about soil, water, terrain, and climate. How does nature work here? What will enhance the health of the soil?


How might the built environment become productive and photosynthetic, harvesting more water, energy and nutrients than it consumes?


Park 20|20 (http://www.park2020.com/) a large-scale Cradle to Cradle-inspired mixed-use urban development, in Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands, takes the Garden Factory to landscape-scale. Designed as a dynamic environmental system, the 28-acre development is a network of integrated buildings, landscapes and technical systems that establishes a metabolism of viable size and density to serve as urban infrastructure.


Sustainability is achieved through implementation of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy (C2C) which strives to create closed cycles for materials, energy, waste and water.

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Powering up to fight poverty: “It’s the renewables, stupid” | Oxfam America The Politics of Poverty Blog

Powering up to fight poverty: “It’s the renewables, stupid” | Oxfam America The Politics of Poverty Blog | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

A closer look at the actual impacts and benefits of fossil fuels verses renewables.

 

An increase in renewable energy is the obvious choice for addressing the energy poverty facing millions. Renewable energy is well-positioned to reach those living beyond the conventional energy grid, and has the advantage of minimizing energy-related contributions to climate change, which already hampers efforts to fight poverty.


Fossil fuels: the more expensive and slower choice

Externalities are becoming less of an abstraction and are finally becoming a genuine factor in overall economic considerations, further tipping the balance towards renewables.

 

And when talking speed of deployment, renewables have a very real temporal advantage. They come online at a much faster rate than fossil projects could hope to match. Renewables are experiencing a renaissance in growth rates, resulting in an increasing percentage of energy markets.


When we account for the true costs of fossil fuels, we see that they are more damaging to the environment, more expensive, slower to deploy, and a bigger risk when compared to renewables. That’s why it’s hard to understand why this is such an uphill battle.


For areas of the world with very little existing energy infrastructure, instead let’s take this chance to start fresh with more sustainable models,  leapfrogging the damaging paths of energy development we have chosen in the developed world.



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How to Turn Air into Plastic - YouTube

Mark Herrema, CEO and co-founder of Newlight Technologies, discusses the process for turning air into plastic. 

 

"What if plastics were no longer part of the problem?  What if they were actually part of the solution?"

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Dell says: "We're piloting carbon-negative packaging, leveraging Newlight Technologies' AirCarbon material. It's made from carbon, and is more sustainable and cost effective than traditional oil-based plastics."

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Turning Greenhouse Gases Into Plastic

Turning Greenhouse Gases Into Plastic | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The company NewLight Technologies first came across our radar last year, when it announced a system for making plastic almost out of thin air. Instead of using petroleum, the feedstock is the airborne carbon emitted by sewage treatment plants, landfills, power plants, and other industrial sites, so in addition to reducing the need for petroleum, the system also captures and recycles greenhouse gas emissions.

 

To top it off, AirCarbon plastic is biodegradable and recyclable, and to top that off, Newlight cites a third party verified cradle-to-grave analysis demonstrating that AirCarbon is a carbon-negative material.

To top it off, AirCarbon plastic is biodegradable and recyclable, and to top that off, Newlight cites a third party verified cradle-to-grave analysis demonstrating that AirCarbon is a carbon-negative material
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/03/needs-tar-sands-oil-aircarbon/#0vlQi1Trj4PJVTOe.99the system also captures and recycle greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/03/needs-tar-sands-oil-aircarbon/#0vlQi1Trj4PJVTOe.99the system also captures and recycle greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2014/01/03/needs-tar-sands-oil-aircarbon/#0vlQi1Trj4PJVTOe.99
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This sounds great, but if they rely on the higher concentration of CO2 in fossil fuel burning power plant emissions, that would mean some amount of CO2 is not captured and thus still emitted.  Whatever the source, we have to factor in *all* the energy and material inputs and outputs. 

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'Energy [R]evolution': Nearly 100% Renewable Is Doable, says Report

'Energy [R]evolution': Nearly 100% Renewable Is Doable, says Report | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

* Dramatically reduce carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels.

* Create millions of new jobs in the renewable energy sector and beyond.

* Democratize the energy system by increasing local control of production and resources.


Not only can all this be accomplished, say researchers and experts, it can be done with readily available technologies and on an expedited timeline that—if executed—would prove humanity capable of acting to address the crisis of planetary climate change before it's too late.


According to the report, the renewable energy strategy is designed "to wean the economy off dirty fuels as thoroughly and quickly as possible, and in a way that is technologically, politically, and ecologically realistic."

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

100% renewable energy is absolutely possible, since we have available to us 1000s of times more renewable energy than we currently need.   We are already moving in the right direction. The question is only how fast will we move, how long will it take us to shut down the entire fossil fuel industry?

 

And there is no need to stop at 100% since we will need a lot more energy to clean up our centuries of pollution, and reverse as much of the environmental destruction as we can.

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Finally, Neil deGrasse Tyson and "Cosmos" take on climate change

Finally, Neil deGrasse Tyson and "Cosmos" take on climate change | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Looked at in the context of our planet's history, what we're doing to Earth appears dire indeed.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos got into the climate issue in their typically expansive way: By surveying the state of the Earth in an array of ancient periods and looking at the dramatic transformations it has undergone due to forces ranging from continental drift, to asteroid impacts, to ice ages. Rearrangements of continents, waves of extinctions, and dramatic fluctuations in climate were the norm, not the exception, throughout this calamitous past.


“Eventually, there were hundreds of billions of trees, entombed in the Earth,” explains Tyson. “Buried forests, all over the Earth. What possible harm could come from that?”


"We just can’t seem to stop burning up all those buried trees from way back in the carboniferous age, in the form of coal, and the remains of ancient plankton, in the form of oil and gas. If we could, we’d be home free climate wise. Instead, we’re dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the Earth hasn’t seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past, the ones that led to mass extinctions. We just can’t seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves."


"All the while, the glorious sun pours immaculate free energy down upon us, more than we will ever need. Why can’t we summon the ingenuity and courage of the generations that came before us?  The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What’s our excuse?"

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Climate change on a cosmic scale.  Yes, certainly the climate has changed dramatically in the past, usually with catastrophic effects on the life forms at the time, but rarely did it happen as fast as what we are experiencing now, and never was it our fault, and our responsibility to fix.

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How One Chicago Restaurant Went Totally Trash-Free

Some restaurants produce eight gallons of waste every hour. Thanks to a sustainability plan, Sandwich Me In stretched that time...to two years.

 

"Any questions you would ask me, we have a green solution to that. To me, that's the only way to let other restaurants know that this can work, and this can happen."

 

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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
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Bacteria-Made Bricks Could be the Building Blocks of the Future

Bacteria-Made Bricks Could be the Building Blocks of the Future | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The bio-technology startup bioMason, headed by founder Ginger Krieg Dosier, recently introduced an innovative brick that is grown rather than fried. These naturally-grown bricks are made from sand and bacteria, which grow to produce natural cement. The needed building blocks for these bricks are abundant in nature across the globe and can be extracted from waste streams. The natural cementation of bioMason’s bricks occurs in ambient temperatures, which is one of their biggest advantages.

 

Traditional clay bricks are made in an energy-intensive firing process, which also releases a number of pollutants, such as fluorides, chlorides, nitrogen/sulfur oxides, and others. Since bricks are still used for 80% of construction projects worldwide, which means the creation of 1.23 trillion bricks per year, an estimated 800,000,000 tons of CO2 is released into the atmosphere just from brick construction. The bricks designed by bioMason form into a ready-to-use brick in 5 days, and perform just like traditional bricks, and cost about the same to manufacture. They also have a very small carbon footprint.


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How to Talk to an Ostrich: "We can't Afford Clean Energy" - YouTube

How to Talk to an Ostrich: "We can't Afford Clean Energy" - YouTube | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Some people say transitioning to clean energy will simply cost too much - "leave it to future generations." In Edinburgh, Scotland, Richard Alley explains that if we start soon the cost of the transformation could be similar to that which was paid for something none of us would want to do without - clean water and the modern sanitation system.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Actually, we can't afford NOT to switch to clean energy!

This video gives a useful comparison with why we eventually cleaned up our other human wastes, just to avoid the smell and disease, particularly in cities. But the consequences of not cleaning up our CO2 waste are far worse for the entire planet.

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The Urban Quest for "Zero Waste"

The Urban Quest for "Zero Waste" | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Some cities are leading the way in reducing the amount of trash they send to landfills. Here's how they're doing it.


Across the country, a handful of municipalities are radically reducing the amount of refuse they send to landfills, with the eventual goal of reaching "zero waste." Seattle recycles or composts more than half of what its residents toss out. San Francisco diverts 77% of its waste from landfills. Even sprawling Los Angeles recycles or composts about two-thirds of its garbage.

 

Less Than Zero?

The prime benefits in adopting zero waste are environmental; many cities that have enacted zero-waste plans say they have taken up the task in the name of sustainability.

 

And supporters argue that reducing waste doesn't necessarily mean increasing costs. For cities with limited landfill space—and the higher fees that come with it—most zero-waste activities cost less than normal garbage disposal, says Gary Liss, a zero-waste consultant who has helped about 20 cities form plans to reduce waste.

 

One caveat: "Zero waste" doesn't necessarily mean "no waste." Most cities use a definition from Zero Waste International Alliance, an environmental group, which says that diverting 90% of waste from landfills without the use of incinerators is "successful in achieving zero waste, or darn close."

 

Why don't cities shoot for 100% diversion? "We're not crazy," says Neil Seldman, president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that promotes sustainable communities. The closer cities get to that goal, the harder it is to go further, largely because there are so many products out there that just can't be recycled—and people continue to buy them.

 
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

By "Zero waste" I really do mean "no waste".  I do recognize that as we get closer to no waste, it will get harder to make more progress.  But perhaps closing the loop will make it easier at some point, by making it more obvious that everything must be made in a way that facilitates 100% recycling.

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Solar farms can enhance biodiversity and sequester soil carbon too

Solar farms can enhance biodiversity and sequester soil carbon too | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Utility-scale solar farms are cropping up across the world. But what does this growth mean for land-use in the countryside? New research, backed by leading UK conservation charities, suggests that far from being a threat to the countryside, solar farms may actually offer opportunities for supporting biodiversity while still obtaining an economic yield.

 

Here's how Solarcentury reported on the research:


Solar farms typically take up less than 5% of the land they are on so there is a huge opportunity to develop protected habitats to support local wildlife and plant life.


Siting solar parks on meadows can be a plus for the environment according to research carried out by Miles King Director of Conservation for the Grassland Trust. He found that meadows (unimproved grasslands) are very efficient at absorbing and storing carbon – grasslands lock up a fifth of all soil carbon in the UK. So each hectare of solar farm saves about 25 tonnes of carbon each year. In addition, meadows save a further three tonnes of carbon as it is captured and stored by grassland – this would not happen if the land was being intensively farmed or even if the grass being replaced is ‘improved’.


Via Joel Barker
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Solar energy's space requirements are even less if we consider that the same space can be shared with other uses.  A great dual use is sequestering carbon in the soil while preserving and enhancing biodiversity.

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Cradle to Cradle and the built environment

Cradle to Cradle and the built environment | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Rather than seeking to minimize the harm we inflict, Cradle to Cradle reframes design as a positive, regenerative force—one that creates footprints to delight in, not lament.  

This paradigm shift reveals new opportunities to improve quality, increase value, and spur innovation. It extends design considerations to all of the cycles of life that run through our buildings and communities. It inspires us to constantly seek improvement in our designs, and to share our discoveries with others. 

 

Everything is a resource for something else.


In nature, the “waste” of one system is food for another. Buildings can be designed to be disassembled and safely returned to the soil (biological nutrients), or re-utilized as high-quality materials for new products and buildings (technical nutrients). Conventional building systems and infrastructures (for example, wastewater treatment) can be redesigned to become nutrient management systems that capture previously discarded resources for safe and productive reuse. 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Achieving the goal of 100% recycling requires thinking in terms of cradle-to-cradle designs, where everything is a resource for something else.

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Agriculture at a Crossroads: How Food Systems Affect Biodiversity

Agriculture at a Crossroads: How Food Systems Affect Biodiversity | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

On today’s United Nations biodiversity day, we are being asked to focus on small islands and their unique ecology and fragility in times of globally pervasive threats such as climate change.

 

But, the whole planet is a small island in the vast sea of space, capable of producing food for all as a consequence of rich biodiversity. That diversity is under threat; our actions can strengthen it or weaken it. Our agriculture systems can help mitigate climate change and feed us, or they can accelerate the change and contribute to hunger.

 

Ecological farming increases resilience to climate shocks. It is based on the diversity of nature to produce healthy food for all: diversity of seeds and plants; diversity of many different crops grown in the same field; diversity of insects that pollinate (like bees) or eliminate pests; and diversity of farming systems that mix crops with livestock.

 

Ecological farming effectively contributes to climate change mitigation. Industrial farming is a massive greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter. Agriculture, in fact, accounts for between 17 percent and 32 percent of all the emissions caused by humans, according to research for Greenpeace.  Stopping chemical nitrogen fertiliser overuse and shifting to organic fertilisers (to increase soil fertility), improving water management in paddy rice production, and increasing agro-biodiversity through agroforestry are just a few examples of how ecological farming practices and diversity could directly contribute to GHG reduction and help agriculture reduce the effects of climate change.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Agriculture done right can actually improve the soil, water, and air, and increase biodiversity rather than reduce it.

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Sprint & Dell Release Carbon-Negative Packaging

Sprint & Dell Release Carbon-Negative Packaging | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

It sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel. Capturing carbon from the air and turning it back into plastic.  The new AirCarbon packaging is greener and less expensive to manufacture than oil-based plastic packaging.


While almost all plastics today are developed from fossil fuels, Newlight’s Technologies makes its plastic from a process that sequesters more carbon than it produces, pulling carbon from the air and generating a net positive impact on the environment.


AirCarbon has been independently verified by Trucost in cooperation with NSF Sustainability as a carbon-negative material on a cradle-to-grave basis.

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Carbon Negative Packaging For Dell = Koch Worst Nightmare

Carbon Negative Packaging For Dell = Koch Worst Nightmare | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Holy carbon capture, Batman! We’ve been following a company called Newlight Technologies, which has come up with a carbon negative plastics manufacturing process, and it looks like the idea is catching on.

 

The [Dell] partnership with Newlight is part of a series of measures that Dell has undertaken to close the loop on closed-loop recycling, at least as far as plastics go.

 

Dell has also partnered with the global design manufacturer Wistron Green Tech to achieve certified closed-loop status for recycled plastics under the third-party UL-Environment seal, which it claims is also an industry first.

 

The ultimate goal for Dell is to achieve 100 percent sustainable packaging within the next 6 years, by 2020.

 

 

We’re dragging the now-notorious Koch brothers into this because of their relentless lobbying efforts against clean energy, to the benefit of their massive fossil fuel holdings.

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Given that plastics can now be made *less* expensively using this carbon capture technology, the market should take off rather quickly.

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End fossil fuel burning, save $71 trillion -- and preserve civilization as we know it

End fossil fuel burning, save $71 trillion -- and preserve civilization as we know it | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Two new reports outline the economic boons that would follow if we would just dump our climate-wrecking dirty-energy addiction.

 

A new report from the International Energy Agency considers the cost of remaining hooked on antiquated, polluting, and climate-changing energy sources.

 

First, here’s what might seem to be bad news from the new report: It would cost the world $44 trillion to end our fossil fuel addiction by 2050 and switch to clean energy. Worse, this figure is $8 trillion higher than the IEA’s last estimate, published two years ago. Expected costs have risen because we’ve delayed the process of switching over to climate-friendly energy sources.

 

And now the good news: We can save $115 trillion in fuel costs by 2050 if we move away from dirty energy, making for net savings of $71 trillion.

 

Greenpeace put out its own energy report on Monday, in concert with international renewable energy groups. The Energy [R]evolution report, which is focused on the U.S., found that we could save $6 trillion by switching to renewables by 2050. That’s compared with pursuing the unambitious fossil fuel–heavy energy mix forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its 2013 Annual Energy Outlook.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Look at it this way: Assuming we could afford to continue burning fossil fuels, then there should be no question that can afford to save $71 trillion by shutting down the fossil fuels and switching to 100% renewable energy.  But the argument is even stronger: we can't afford NOT to switch.

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Is it possible for a country to Achieve 100 % Renewable Energy? | Renesola Ltd. Blog

Is it possible for a country to Achieve 100 % Renewable Energy? | Renesola Ltd. Blog | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Governments across the world have realized the importance of renewable energy and have implemented policies to encourage its usage. Several countries with abundant renewable resources are aiming to increase the percentage of energy obtained from renewable energy. Now the questions arise- How much of renewable energy is enough? Is it possible for a country to reach 100% renewable?

 

Renewable energy is now reaching grid parity in more and more areas around the world. In spite of this, there are certain barriers which have to be overcome for a country to become 100% renewable.

 

Some renewable, like wind, geopower and large solar, needs transmission lines to transmit electricity produced and needs high capital investment.

 

Renewable generation will require energy storage to help fill the gap between energy production and demand. Smart grid has to be developed as resource scheduling should match renewable generators with demand, coordinate storage and shed loads during peaks.

 

The biggest challenge for the government is to create the regulatory framework, set high standards, and provide solar incentive to people which will enable economies to shift their energy use to renewable. The process will include substantial investment; the benefits will include clean energy, economic development and job creation.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is absolutely possible to achieve 100% renewable energy, and it will be relatively easy considering that we have 1000s of times more renewable energy available to us than we need. We are clearly headed in that direction now, and we will eventually reach that goal, because we have to. The question really is how fast will we move and how long will it take before we get there.

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