Spreading coffee pulp, a waste product from coffee production, over degraded lands helps them recover quickly, a recent study found. By dumping 30 truck-loads of coffee pulp on a plot of degraded land in Costa Rica, researchers watched a small forest grow at a remarkable speed in just two years, the British Ecological Society reported.
"The results were dramatic," Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study published in Ecological Solutions and Evidence, told the British Ecological Society. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."
Researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii discovered the coffee pulp treated plot grew 80 percent of a canopy cover, compared to the control plot, which only grew 20 percent. The canopy was also four times taller than the control area's, BES reported.
Using agricultural byproducts to promote tree growth is not a new concept for researchers. In a past study, scientists partnered with an orange juice company to dispose of thousands of tons of orange waste on a degraded pasture, showing significant improvement in soil health, the researchers wrote. But the study was never repeated and few trials on how agricultural byproducts aid recovery on damaged lands have taken place since.
In the coffee waste study, researchers decided to use a "readily available agricultural by‐product in the tropics" like coffee pulp, performing the trial on land in Costa Rica that had undergone severe deforestation and conversion from a coffee farm in the 1950s, the researchers wrote.
Today, coffee is produced in over 60 countries and as the world scrambles to find creative ways to reach global climate agreements, the study's findings could be a cost-effective and practical step forward. "It's useful intel as the world aims to restore large areas of forest, in line with in the 2015 Paris climate agreement," BBC Science Focus Magazine reported.
But faster growth was not the only benefit from covering the plot with coffee pulp. Researchers also found higher levels of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous, BES reported — a "promising finding given former tropical agricultural land is often highly degraded and poor soil quality can delay forest succession for decades."
The study's publishing coincides with the release of an analysis that showed two-thirds of global tropical rainforests are degraded by human activity. Logging and land conversion, mainly for agriculture, have erased nearly 34 percent of the world's original old-growth tropical rainforests and degraded an additional 30 percent, the Rainforest Foundation Norway found in the analysis, Reuters reported.
As tropical lands become increasingly degraded, they will become more vulnerable to climate change, making it difficult for the forests to recover, Anders Krogh, a tropical forest researcher, told Reuters. "It's a terrifying cycle," he said. Linking the agricultural industry with restoration could be a "win-win" scenario to overcome the many barriers forest restoration projects face, the researchers wrote.
But Cole doesn't suggest dumping coffee pulp on vast areas of degraded land quite just yet, adding that further research is still needed to test the impact of coffee grounds and other agricultural byproducts on a variety of landscapes.
"This study was done at only one large site so more testing is needed to see if this strategy works across a broader range of conditions," Cole told the BES. In the future, researchers plan to expand their plots to areas beyond just accessible and flat areas. "We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Cole said.
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The plan? A solar-powered ark containing seed, spore, sperm and egg samples from 6.7 million Earth species, to be stored in empty lava tunnels on the moon.
"This could be a modern global insurance policy," University of Arizona aerospace and mechanical engineering professor Jekan Thanga said in a presentation of his team's idea at the IEEE Aerospace Conference this month.
One one level, this is an ancient idea. Thanga drew inspiration from the Biblical story of Noah's Ark, as well as the "doomsday" seed vault in Svalbard, Norway. However, he pointed out that this seed bank is itself vulnerable to rising sea levels due to the climate crisis. In addition, Earth itself is vulnerable to more than just human activity.
"Earth is naturally a volatile environment," Thanga said in a press release. "As humans, we had a close call about 75,000 years ago with the Toba supervolcanic eruption, which caused a 1,000-year cooling period and, according to some, aligns with an estimated drop in human diversity. Because human civilization has such a large footprint, if it were to collapse, that could have a negative cascading effect on the rest of the planet."
In addition to super-volcanic eruptions and accelerated climate change, other potential mass extinction events include nuclear war, an asteroid strike, pandemics, solar storms and a global drought.
"We need a modern ark that is safe and away from all the possible cataclysms," Thanga said.
That's where the moon comes in. In 2013, scientists discovered a network of 200 lava tubes beneath the moon's surface, the press release noted. This could be an ideal location for the ark, as they have remained undisturbed for three to four billion years.
"Unless there is a direct hit from a meteor or a nuclear strike, the ark should be okay," Thanga told LiveScience.
Not all of the technology required for the ark currently exists. The genetic material in the ark would need to be kept extremely cold — between minus 292 and minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, robots would be needed to retrieve the samples, but they would fuse to the floor because of the cold under existing conditions. What is needed is quantum levitation, an as-of-yet theoretical means of fixing objects in a magnetic field using superconductors. Since this is likely to be needed for other space travel projects that require deep freezing, Thanga thought it would be developed soon.
Overall, he thought the ark would cost hundreds of billions of dollars to complete and could be ready in thirty years. While the price tag is high, "it isn't totally out of the question," Thanga told LiveScience.
He also thought the ark could be completed in just 10 to 15 years if circumstances demanded it.
"This is a project that would require real urgency to have a lot of people energized enough to go after it," he told LiveScience.
However, he thought it was ultimately worth that energy.
"Humanity has a fundamental responsibility to protect the diversity of life on Earth," he said in the presentation.
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The sprawling size and sunny days of Texas make it one of the top states for solar energy. If you live in the Lone Star State and are interested in switching to a solar energy system, you may be wondering: What's the average solar panel cost in Texas?
In this article, we'll discuss the cost of solar panels in Texas, what factors affect pricing, Texas' solar incentives and more. Of course, the only way to know for sure how much you would pay to install a solar panel system on your roof is to receive a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company near you. You can get started by filling out the quick form below.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Texas?
Thanks to the growing investment in renewable energy technology statewide, homeowners now enjoy a below-average cost of solar in Texas. Based on market research and data from top brands, we've found the average cost of solar panels in Texas to be $2.69 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $9,953 after the federal solar tax credit. This is especially valuable when you take into account the unpredictable Texas energy rates.
Here's how that average calculates into the cost of the most common sizes of home solar panel systems:
|Size of Solar Panel System||Texas Solar Panel Cost||Cost After Federal Tax Credit|
Though this data reflects the statewide averages, you'll need to contact a solar installer near you to get an accurate quote for your home. Savvy customers will get free quotes from multiple companies and compare them to the state averages to make sure they receive the best value possible. Bear in mind that the biggest providers of solar won't always have the best prices.
What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Texas?
The main factor determining the cost of solar panel installations in Texas is the homeowner's energy needs. No two homes are the same, and installation costs will look far different for a home needing a basic 5kW system and a home needing 10kW with backup power capabilities. The solar financing and installation company a homeowner chooses will also affect a customer's overall solar costs in Texas. Here's how each factor comes into play:
Similar to phones, cars and other technology, solar products and system costs vary greatly based on their quality, scale and included features. Some customers may be satisfied with a modest array of affordable solar panels and inverters, while others may opt for a system with premium panels, full-home backup power and cutting-edge energy monitoring technology.
The overall cost of solar depends significantly on how a customer chooses to finance their system. The three most common solar financing options include paying in cash, taking out a solar loan and solar leasing.
- The most economical way to purchase solar, an upfront cash purchase provides the best long-term return on investment and the lowest overall cost.
- Customers can choose to take out a solar loan to purchase the system outright and make monthly payments to repay the loan. The typical payback period for a solar loan averages around 10 years. Systems purchased with a loan are still eligible for the federal solar tax credit.
- Signing a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) allows a solar customer to rent solar panels from a company or third party. Though requiring the least amount of money upfront, solar leases provide the least amount of overall value. Also, solar leases aren't eligible for the federal tax credit, as the homeowner doesn't actually own the system.
Solar Installation Company
Texas has seen some of the strongest solar energy market growth over the last few years, and the SEIA reports that there are now nearly 600 solar companies based in Texas, and each is looking to expand its market share.
Price ranges can differ significantly based on the installer. Larger solar providers like Sunrun offer the advantage of solar leases and quick installations. Local providers, on the other hand, provide more personalization and competitive prices to undercut the biggest national companies.
Because of this, it's wise to get quotes from a few local and national installers and compare rates — because of the stiff competition between companies, you could end up saving several thousand dollars.
Texas Solar Incentives
For the most part, Texas taxes are administered by local governments. As a result, the state doesn't offer a large number of statewide solar-related policies, and incentives will depend more on the locality in which you live.
However, all homeowners in the state remain eligible for the federal solar tax credit, and there are some statewide local property tax exemptions for both photovoltaic solar and wind-powered renewable energy systems. Let's walk through how to find what incentives are available to you.
Federal Solar Tax Credit
All Texans can claim the federal solar investment tax credit, or ITC, for PV solar panels and energy storage systems. By claiming the ITC on your tax returns, the policy allows you to deduct 26% of the total cost of the solar system from the taxes you owe the federal government.
The tax credit is available to both residential and commercial system owners who have installed solar panels at any point since 2006. The credit is worth 26% through the end of 2022 and will drop to 22% in 2023. It is set to expire at the end of 2023 unless congress extends it.
Net Metering Policies in Texas
Net metering programs allow customers to sell unused solar energy back to their local utility company in exchange for credits that can be cashed in when panels aren't producing energy. Due to the energy bill savings, this incentive can greatly reduce the solar investment payback period.
As is true with most of Texas' solar rebates and incentives, there is not one net metering program that is offered throughout the entire state. Rather, your eligibility will depend on the policy of your local utility company or municipality. Most utilities in the state have a net metering policy, including American Electric Power (AEP), CPS Energy, Green Mountain Energy, El Paso Electric, TXU Energy in Dallas and more.
The rate at which your local utility will compensate for this excess energy will depend on your local policy, so we encourage you to look into the policy offered by your utility company.
Local Solar Rebates in Texas
In addition to identifying your local net metering program, look into any local rebates available to you. Homeowners who live in the top cities for solar in Texas, like Austin, San Marcos or Sunset Valley might have more luck than customers in other areas. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency has a full list of local rebates, solar loan programs and more.
FAQ: Solar Panel Cost Texas
Is it worth going solar in Texas?
Long, sunny days and below-average solar installation costs make Texas one of the best states in the U.S. for generating energy with solar panels. The ample sunshine provides more than enough energy for most families, serving up huge benefits to homes in Texas equipped with solar panels.
How much does it cost to install solar panels in Texas?
As of 2021, the average cost of solar panels in Texas is $2.69 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $9,953 after the federal solar tax credit. This is slightly below the national average due to the resource availability in Texas, current energy costs and the state's available sunlight. The best way to assess how much solar would cost you is to consult local providers near you for a free estimate.
Do solar panels increase home value in Texas?
Solar panels increase home value everywhere, but mostly in areas with generous net metering policies and solar rebates. As such, the proportion at which solar panels increase home value in Texas corresponds with the areas with the most solar-friendly policies.
How much do solar panels cost for a 2,500 sq foot house?
Though knowing the size of a house is helpful in determining how many solar panels could fit on its roof, the energy use of the house is the more important factor in determining solar panel cost in Texas. The higher your energy use, the greater your solar needs will be.
Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
When you want a seat on the UN Security Council, the last thing you need is a teenage activist, practiced at the art of shaming government officials, working against you. However, that's just what Norway and Canada have.
Canada, Norway and Ireland are vying for the two available seats on the UN Security Council. Enter Greta Thunberg, bearing some free and stern advice.
The 17-year-old Swedish climate activist is the headline signatory on a letter to UN ambassadors of small developing nations. The letter argues that Canada and Norway both say they are concerned about the climate crisis, but will not shed their ardent commitment to expand fossil fuel production, build pipelines through native land, and subsidize oil companies, as the CBC reported.
"For the young generation who will inherit the consequences of these decisions, it is critical that those who claim to be leading on climate action are held to account for decisions they are making back at home," the letter reads, according to the CBC.
The letter also featured the signature of three other youth activists and 22 climate scientists.
The writers argue that if Canada wants to honor its commitment to the Paris agreement, it should make permanent its temporary ban on extracting oil and gas in the Arctic, cancel both the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipeline projects, and end all subsidies to the oil and gas industry, according to Radio Canada International.
Canada, despite its pristine air and forests, is actually among the worst in the G20 in meeting its Paris agreement greenhouse gas emissions targets, according to data compiled in 2019 by Climate Transparency, as Radio Canada International reported.
The letter is addressed to the Small Island Developing States since there are 38 members of the UN and they, more than larger countries, recognize the imminent danger the climate crisis poses. There are also 20 non-UN members. While together they are not strong enough to wield power, they do make up 20 percent of the votes. That's a significant number since the countries running for a two-year term on the security council starting in 2021 must win the backing of two-thirds of member states, whether they are contested or not.
"The Small Island Developing States understand more than most the existential threat posed by climate change to our peace and security, even fundamental statehood, and as such have a strong interest in ensuring that climate commitments are a central consideration when deciding which candidates to support," the letter states.
"As the Ambassador of a country that understands the grave risk posed to our security and yours, we ask that you raise these issues in your conversations with representatives of the candidate countries, and demand that they unite behind the science.
"If Norway and Canada are serious about our climate security, they should commit to no new fossil fuel exploration or extraction, and begin phasing down their domestic production at a pace that is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5C," the authors wrote.
Canada is criticized in the letter for being the second biggest financer of fossil fuels in the G20. Norway is slammed, in the letter, for its unwavering support on Arctic drilling.
Gail Whiteman, founder of Arctic Basecamp and professor of sustainability at the University of Exeter, UK, explained why she added her signature to the campaign.
"Climate change is a hugely important security topic, it is a hugely important global risk that is coming fast down the pipeline," said Gail Whiteman, founder of Arctic Basecamp and professor of sustainability at the University of Exeter, UK, who added her name to the letter, as Climate Home News reported.
"On both the Canadian and the Norwegian side, they have some quite strong stated policies on climate change but when you look at the details, that is very problematic."
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This is the largest emissions reduction that has ever been recorded. But to reach the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, the world needs to reduce emissions by one to two billion metric tons every year for the next decade and beyond, according to a new analysis published in Nature Climate Change.
"We need a cut in emissions of about the size of the fall [from the lockdowns] every two years, but by completely different methods," Corinne Le Quéré, lead study author from the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in England, told The Guardian.
Before the pandemic, emissions were already declining in some countries due to policy changes, the report found. In 64 countries, emissions declined by 160 million metric tons a year between 2016 to 2019 compared to 2011 to 2015. However, that reduction is only a tenth of what is needed worldwide to meet the Paris agreement goals. In 150 countries, emissions continued to increase by 370 million metric tons a year during the four years before the lockdown.
The concern now is whether countries can build on the reductions caused by the pandemic, or if emissions will increase again as economies reopen. So far, the evidence points toward the latter. The International Energy Agency said this week that emissions had already rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, Forbes reported. Last month, the UN said that countries' existing commitments under the Paris agreement would only reduce emissions by less than one percent by 2030, even though experts say a 45 percent drop is required.
"Emissions were lower in 2020 as fossil fuel infrastructure was used less, not because infrastructure was closed down," Glen Peters, study co-author from the Cicero center for climate research in Norway, told The Guardian. "When fossil fuel infrastructure is put into use again, there is a risk of a big rebound in emissions in 2021, as was seen in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2009."
The report authors noted that policy makers could refer to the lockdowns for guidance on reducing emissions. Most of the reductions were driven by transportation decreases, the authors found. They suggested shifting toward electric vehicles and bike-and-pedestrian-friendly cities, as well as continuing and improving remote business options and encouraging a safe return to public transportation.
The authors also called for greater investments in renewable energy as part of the recovery process. They added that while recovery plans in the European Union, Denmark, France, UK, Germany and Switzerland included minimal fossil fuel investments, investments in most other countries, including the U.S. and China, were still fossil-fuel heavy.
"Experience from several previous crises show that the underlying drivers of emissions reappear, if not immediately, then within a few years," the authors wrote. "Therefore to change the trajectory in global CO2 emissions in the long term, the underlying drivers also need to change."
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By Mark McCord
- An academic paper suggests key tipping points can significantly reduce carbon emissions, which would help to slow global warming.
- Government policies are making coal uneconomical.
- Electric vehicle pricing structures have helped reduce the number of petrol and diesel cars on the world's roads.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel in the battle to reduce carbon emissions.
Governments and institutions could help halt carbon emissions with just a few carefully selected policy measures, according to a new paper, which looked at the experience of the energy industry and changing trends in road vehicle purchases.
If chosen properly and applied internationally, such "tipping points" could set off a series of other changes that snowball into a movement with enough critical mass to slow global warming and reduce natural disasters.
The paper, published in the journal Climate Policy, argues that actions taken within each industry created a cascade of further developments that helped reduce their carbon footprints.
"In complex systems – including human societies – tipping points can occur, in which a small perturbation transforms a system," wrote the paper's authors, Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute (GSI) at the University of Exeter and Simon Sharpe, a deputy director in the UK Cabinet Office 26th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 26) unit.
"Crucially, activating one tipping point can increase the likelihood of triggering another at a larger scale, and so on."
Towards the Paris Agreement Targets
Such tipping points are hoped to help the world meet the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which 196 heads of state agreed to reduce global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a preferred target of 1.5 degrees. Were they achieved, experts say the positive impacts would be felt within two decades.
The accord strives for a climate-neutral world by the middle of this century. It's expected to be built upon at the United Nations Climate Change conference, or COP26, which is due to take place in November. The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative strives also to offer globally linked solutions.
The report in Climate Policy explains how a combination of factors led to the tipping point that prompted the UK to decarbonize its power industry. They included the creation of a carbon tax, an EU scheme that made gas cheaper than coal and an investment strategy for renewable energy that made coal less economical.
"The power sector needs to decarbonize four times faster than its current rate, and the pace of the transition to zero-emission vehicles needs to double," Lenton said.
"Many people are questioning whether this is achievable. But hope lies in the way that tipping points can spark rapid change through complex systems."
Wind and solar accounted for a third of the UK's energy generation in 2020. Statista
Positive Tipping Points
Besides the UK, the authors of the paper cited Norway as an example of the nations that have acted to reduce greenhouse gases pumped out by motor vehicles.
Through government incentives, new electric vehicles (EV) in Norway are priced similarly to petrol and diesel cars. This has boosted sales of EVs to more than 50% of new car purchases, compared with 2%-3% worldwide.
China, the European Union (EU) and California are responsible for half of global car sales. Professor Lenton suggests that if they formed an international effort to redirect investment from conventional cars to EVs they could reduce costs, boost production and create a broader tipping point that would accelerate the reduction of fossil fuel use.
Lenton argues that if government action can lower the cost of financing renewables to below that of excavating coal, industries linked to transport, heating and power could all rapidly decarbonize.
That's good news because a new, more urgent, approach is needed to reduce the rate at which the global climate is warming, according to scientists.
2020 and 2016 Hottest Years on Record
Earlier this month, the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service said 2020 had equaled 2016 as the hottest year on record.
A study published in Climate Dynamics said the planet could breach the threshold for global warming between 2027 and 2042, a decade earlier than previously thought.
"If either of these efforts – in power or road transport – succeed, the most important effect could be to tip perceptions of the potential for international cooperation to tackle climate change," Lenton said.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
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A first-of-its-kind study has examined the benefits of protecting the world's oceans.
"Ocean life has been declining worldwide because of overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change. Yet only 7% of the ocean is currently under some kind of protection," Dr. Enric Sala, explorer in residence at the National Geographic Society and lead author of the study, said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. "In this study, we've pioneered a new way to identify the places that — if strongly protected — will boost food production and safeguard marine life, all while reducing carbon emissions."
For the study, 26 researchers examined unprotected ocean areas to determine the ones most threatened by human activities, which protections would effectively mitigate. They then developed an algorithm to determine which areas would do the most to boost biodiversity, fisheries and climate action if protected. The idea was not to tell countries which areas to protect, but rather to give global decision makers a range of options depending on their priorities.
Protecting the areas highlighted in the study could safeguard more than 80 percent of the habitats for endangered marine life. Ninety percent of the top 10 percent of priority areas were within the Exclusive Economic Zones of particular nations, the study authors found. Other priority areas were within international waters, such as the Antarctic Peninsula, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Mascarene Plateau, the Nazca Ridge and the Southwest Indian Ridge.
"Perhaps the most impressive and encouraging result is the enormous gain we can obtain for biodiversity conservation — if we carefully chose the location of strictly protected marine areas," Dr. David Mouillot, a report co-author and professor at the Université de Montpellier in France, said in the press release.
Protecting parts of the ocean can actually boost fisheries over time, because these areas serve as nurseries for commercial fish and crustacean species that eventually leave the protected area, The New York Times reported.
Researchers found that by strategically protecting 28 percent of the ocean, fish stocks would increase by about 6.5 million tons, compared with a business-as-usual model where nothing is protected and fishing continues at its current rate.
"Some argue that closing areas to fishing hurts fishing interests. But the worst enemy of successful fisheries is overfishing— not protected areas," Sala said in the press release.
The study also revealed a surprise finding about the fishing industry's contribution to the climate crisis.
Bottom trawling — fishing by dragging heavy nets across the ocean floor — can release roughly the same amount of carbon into the ocean as the airline industry emits into the air. This is because marine sediments are important carbon stores that can safely hold carbon for millennia. However, if disturbed by dragging nets, these carbon deposits can revert back to carbon dioxide, increasing ocean acidification, hampering the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide and potentially reaching the atmosphere as greenhouse gas emissions.
This finding came as a surprise because researchers had not planned to calculate bottom trawling emissions until they were asked to by a peer reviewer, Sala told The Times.
"I could not believe it," he said of the data. "Immediately I went to Google and checked the global emissions by sector and by country, and said, 'Wow, this is larger than Germany's.'"
About four percent of the world's ocean would need to be protected in order to prevent most of these emissions, and most fall within national boundaries. The top 10 countries that contribute to bottom trawling emissions are China, Russia, Italy, the UK, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Croatia and Spain, according to The Guardian.
The study was released as part of the buildup to the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held in Kunming, China, later this year. Researchers and conservationists hope the study can offer a blueprint for these talks and bolster the goal of protecting 30 percent of global land and water by 2030.
"This research sets the foundation for the next era of ocean conservation to be one that truly places biodiversity and people at the heart of national conversations," Dr. Jennifer McGowan, study co-author from the Center for Biodiversity and Global Change at Yale University, said in the press release. "As the world prepares to set the global agenda for the next decade of climate and biodiversity policy, this research provides the bedrock upon which decisions-makers can map and plan interactions with the ocean to deliver multiple benefits for people and biodiversity."
By Jessica Corbett
New data from a Norwegian nonprofit is generating fresh concerns about humanity's destruction of the natural world, revealing Monday that people have ravaged about two-thirds of original tropical rainforest cover globally.
The Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) analysis found that human activities including logging and land-use changes—often for farming—have destroyed 34% of old-growth tropical rainforests and degraded 30% worldwide.
RFN defined degraded forests as those that are partly destroyed or fully wiped out but replaced by more recent growth. The group's definition for intact forest, considered too strict by some experts, includes only areas that are at least 500 square kilometers or 193 square miles; trees and biodiversity are at greater risk in smaller zones.
Two-thirds of the world’s original tropical #rainforest cover have been degraded or destroyed, new @RainforestNORW… https://t.co/h4lzA5lyqg— WWF EU (@WWF EU)1615220106.0
The RFN findings, reported by Reuters, show that over half of the destruction since 2002 has been in the Amazon and neighboring rainforests. Deforestation in South America—particularly within Brazil, home to the majority of the Amazon—has caused recent alarm given the role of rainforests in trapping carbon.
"Forests act as a two-lane highway in the climate system," explained Nancy Harris, Forests Program research director at the World Resources Institute (WRI), earlier this year. "Standing forests absorb carbon, but clearing forests releases it into the atmosphere."
A forest carbon flux map released in January by organizations including WRI found that between 2001 and 2019, forests emitted an average of 8.1 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually due to deforestation and other disturbances but also absorbed 16 billion metric tonnes per year over the same period.
Reuters reported Monday on RFN's analysis:
As more rainforest is destroyed, there is more potential for climate change, which in turn makes it more difficult for remaining forests to survive, said the report's author Anders Krogh, a tropical forest researcher.
"It's a terrifying cycle," Krogh said. The total lost between just 2002 and 2019 was larger than the area of France, he found.
Deforestation has surged in Brazil since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro—a foe of both environmental regulations and Indigenous people in his country—took office in early 2019. Brazilian forest loss hit a 12-year high in 2020, according to satellite imagery from the country's space research agency.
"Instead of acting to prevent the increase in deforestation, the Bolsonaro government has been denying the reality of the situation, dismantling environmental agencies, and attacking NGOs who work on the ground in the Amazon," said Greenpeace Brazil Amazon campaigner Cristiane Mazzetti in response to the data.
A look at tropical rainforest deforestation globally in 2019. Brazil/Americas far and away the leader. The drivers… https://t.co/w2ZWv1pYnd— Jake Spring (@Jake Spring)1615206122.0
Bolsonaro enjoyed a close relationship with former U.S. President Donald Trump—and both leaders faced an onslaught of global criticism for their similar response to various crises, from the raging coronavirus pandemic to the climate emergency.
Comments from Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo on Friday suggest that the recent swearing-in of U.S. President Joe Biden may mean a shift. According to Reuters, Araújo—who has called human-caused climate change a "Marxist conspiracy"—said the administrations are now collaborating on the crisis.
"Something that was regarded as an impediment... is totally out of the way. We are now working together... as key partners towards a successful COP26 and fully implementing climate agreements," said Araújo, referring to the United Nations climate summit rescheduled for November due to the pandemic.
A U.N. report released late last month found that the international community is quite far off from meeting the Paris climate agreement's 1.5°C and 2°C temperature targets based on the greenhouse gas emissions reduction pledges that governments have proposed for the next decade.
Marcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Brazilian group Observatório do Clima, called Bolsonaro's plan "a trainwreck of reduced ambition" that "violates the Paris agreement by giving the country a free pass to emit 200 million tons to 400 million tons of CO2 more than the 2015 pledge."
"It totally eliminates any mention of deforestation control and it lacks clarity on its conditionality," added Astrini. He warned against accepting "such a dangerous precedent" and called for global pressure on his government "to go back to the drawing board" and formulate a pledge "with real targets."
Our new global report shows humans have degraded or destroyed 2/3 of the world’s original tropical #rainforest cove… https://t.co/aIXLccChAr— Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) (@Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN))1615205235.0
The Amazon "represents the best hope for preserving what rainforest remains," Reuters noted, adding that Krogh found the world's largest rainforest "and its neighbors—the Orinoco and the Andean rainforest—account for 73.5% of tropical forests still intact."
While that fact "gives hope," RFN tweeted Monday, the "current rate of destruction is frightening."
The group found that after South American rainforests, the top deforestation hot zones since 2002 have been Southeast Asian islands where trees have been cleared for palm oil plantations followed by Central Africa—specifically around the Congo River basin, where forest loss results from agriculture and logging.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Richard B. Primack
Weather patterns across the U.S. have felt like a roller coaster ride for the past several months. December and January were significantly warmer than average in many locations, followed by February's intense cold wave and a dramatic warmup.
If you've ever seen lilac bushes crushed by snowdrifts, then budding on a warm day just a few weeks later, you may wonder how plants tolerate such extremes. I study how climate change affects the timing of seasonal events in the life cycles of plants, birds and insects in Massachusetts, so I know that species have evolved here to handle New England's famously changeable weather. But a warming climate is disrupting weather patterns and testing the abilities of many species to adapt.
On brutal winter days when temperatures are far below freezing, animals hibernate underground or huddle in protected spots. But trees and shrubs have to sit there and take it. The tissues in their trunks, branches and roots are alive. How do they survive the freezing cold?
In autumn, woody plants in many parts of North America start preparing for winter. When their leaves change color and fall, their twigs, branches and trunks start to lose water. As a result, their cells contain higher concentrations of sugars, salts and organic compounds.
This lowers the freezing point of the cells and tissues, and allows them to survive temperatures far below the normal freezing point of water. The trick has its limits, though, so extreme cold events can still kill certain plants.
Tree and shrub roots remain largely unchanged and inactive during winter, relying on insulation from snow and soil for protection. For the most part, the temperature of the soil around roots stays at or above freezing. Soil, fallen leaves and persistent snow layers insulate the ground above the roots and prevent it from losing heat.
The Surprising Danger of Spring Frosts
After plants stoically withstand cold winters, early spring brings new dangers. Plants need to leaf out as early as they can in spring to take full advantage of the growing season. But this involves pumping water into their developing leaves, which reduces the concentration of sugars, salts and organic compounds in their tissues and removes their winter protection from cold.
Each species has a characteristic leaf-out time. Early-leafing species such as blueberries and willows are the gamblers of the plant kingdom. Later species, like oak and pine, are the cautious and conservative types. For any species, leafing out too early is a risk because late frosts can damage or kill young leaves.
Flowers are also vulnerable to unpredictable spring frosts because they contain lots of water. If the flowers of fruit trees, such as apples, are killed by frost, the trees won't produce fruit later in the summer. Late frosts also can cause disappointingly short flowering seasons for early-flowering ornamental plants such as forsythias and magnolias.
Plant Wake-Up Calls
To guard against frost and still take advantage of the full growing season, trees and shrubs have developed three ways to know when it is time to start growing in spring.
First, plants have winter chilling requirements: They hold on to winter dormancy until they have been exposed to a certain number of cold winter days. This trait helps them avoid leafing or flowering during abnormally warm periods in midwinter.
Second, plants also have spring warming requirements that promote growth after they experience a certain number of warm days each spring. This feature helps them start to grow as soon as it is warm enough.
Third, some plants also have a photoperiod response, which means they react to the length of time they are exposed to light in a 24-hour period. This prepares them to leaf out as days get longer and warmer in the spring. Beech trees have both a warming requirement and a photoperiod response, but the temperature requirement is much stronger, so they get going after just a few warm days in late spring.
Interestingly, North American trees such as red maple and black birch are more cautious and conservative than European and East Asian trees. The weather in eastern North America is more variable, and the threat of late spring frosts is higher here than in those regions. As a result, North American trees have evolved to leaf out a few weeks later than comparable trees from Europe and East Asia.
Climate Change Scrambles the Signals
Plants are highly attuned to temperature signals, so warming driven by climate change is making it harder for many species to withstand winter cold and spring frosts. As spring temperatures get warmer than in the past, trees such as apples and pears may respond by leafing out and flowering several weeks earlier than normal. This can increase their vulnerability to late frosts.
The leaves on this cherry tree have suffered damage from a late frost. Richard Primack, CC BY-ND
In 2007, an exceptionally warm period in March triggered trees to leaf out across the eastern and central United States. A hard frost in April then killed the young leaves and flowers of oaks, hickories and other tree species. The trees were able to produce a second crop of leaves, but could not fully replace the leaves they'd lost, which quite likely stunted their growth for that year.
Insect pests also pose an increasing threat to plants. Harsh winter weather holds in check many insects found in northern climates, such as hemlock woolly adelgids and emerald ash borers. As winters become milder, these insects are more likely to survive, move further northward, cause major outbreaks and damage trees.
Warmer winters also lead to more days when the ground is bare. Cold snaps that occur when there is no insulating layer of snow can freeze the soil and kill roots. Tree and shrub branches then die back because the damaged roots cannot supply enough water and nutrients. In extreme cases, the plants may die.
In coming decades, many cold-loving tree species such as spruces and firs will become less abundant when they are not able to handle new challenges associated with a warmer climate. In the Northeast U.S., native species such as sugar maple and beech will be gradually replaced by native species from farther south, such as oaks and hickories. And nonnative species, such as Norway maples, are taking advantage of these disruptions to disperse into forests from roadsides and neighborhoods.
Similar shifts are happening in many places as climate change alters the signals plants rely on to mark the changing seasons.
Richard B. Primack is a professor of biology at Boston University.
Disclosure statement: Richard B. Primack does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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By Maddy Savage
Americans love their cars — their gas-guzzling, air-polluting, smog-producing cars. Although the vast majority agree that if we all drove electric vehicles we could reduce oil consumption and pollution, only a third would consider buying one anytime soon. Far fewer are actually making the switch.
Compare that to the situation in Norway, the world's unofficial leader in EV driving, where more than 40% of new cars sold are now electric and thousands of drivers are on waiting lists for the latest models. It's a trend 30 years in the making.
"These things take time, because you need those first guys willing to break the mold, buy an EV and tell their pals, 'Shut up, this car is awesome!'" said Daniel Milford Flathagen, 36, from Trondheim, a government agency employee who waited 18 months for a Hyundai Kona Electric, his second electric vehicle.
Norway, a small, largely rural country with a population of just 5 million, has been steadily building hype for electric cars. Given their significantly larger populations, China and the U.S. report higher total sales numbers (around 1.2 million and 360,000, respectively, including plug-in hybrids, in 2018). The Scandinavian nation has the highest share of new electric vehicle purchases in the world.
Credit for this could go to an evolved cultural acceptance of functional electric cars over more "macho" gas-guzzlers, or Norway's long-held reputation as a nature-loving, environmentally friendly population. But there's a more direct, prosaic explanation: In Norway, it pays to drive electric.
"The environmental aspect is a very good bonus for everyone," said Elisabeth Sakkestad, a 32-year-old EV user who works for an aid organization in Stavanger. "You feel better about driving an electric car than a fossil-fueled one."
But it is what Sakkestad described as the "economic benefits" that have played by far the greatest role in persuading her — and huge swaths of the population — to switch to emissions-free vehicles.
Successive Norwegian governments from across the political spectrum have been offering financial incentives to electric car owners as part of their wider efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And, as electric vehicles have become increasingly advanced in terms of speed, range and aesthetics, growing numbers of consumers have become motivated to cash in on the perks.
"In Norway we tax what we don't want and we promote what we want, and the consumer has, in this way, actually the opportunity to make the right choice," said Christina Bu, secretary-general of Norsk elbilforening, the Norwegian EV Association.
In Norway, most cars are imported. On top of the regular 25% consumption tax (Value Added Tax, or VAT) charged on most consumer goods, all vehicles used to be subject to an additional purchase tax. But that tax was scrapped for electric cars in 1990. EV buyers also became exempt from paying VAT in 2001. A few years later, they scored a fast-track commute when they were given permission to drive in bus lanes.
Until 2017, EV owners were exempt from charges for toll roads and eligible for free parking. Current rules allow municipalities to charge them no more than 50% the standard toll and parking rates.
The center-right governing coalition in Norway has promised to keep most of the incentives running until at least 2021 and aims to ban all new sales of gas-powered cars by 2025.
In Norway, as everywhere, electric cars tend to be pricier than their conventional counterparts. Bloomberg analysts predict price parity in 2022, but Norway's tax breaks mean that in some cases greener models are already cheaper. The base import price for a Volkswagen e-Golf, for example, is around $36,000, compared to $24,000 for a regular Golf. But after VAT, emissions taxes and other fees, the electric version is nearly $1,000 less ($36,300 versus $37,200).
"Buying a new electric car is more or less the same price as buying a nice petrol or diesel car now," said Bu, even before you factor in additional savings such as not having to pay for gas and lower maintenance costs.
Some critics have argued that the country's incentives favor those who are already wealthy enough to afford new cars, while low-income owners can often only afford used gas-fueled models, which remain cheaper than used EVs.
Ask Ibsen Lindal, energy spokesperson for Norway's Green Party, sees the second-hand market for gas cars as an impediment to the nationwide trend toward electric cars, but he said he hopes it's just a matter of time until EVs become affordable for virtually all Norwegians.
"What's been the most important goal of the Norwegian electric car incentive is that ... you hope to start the market moving, and then prices will fall and that is what we are seeing now within a very short time," Isben Lindal said.
He said he expects that in three to five years, EVs will push nearly all new gas-powered cars out of the Norwegian market.
Globally, analysts worry about how electric vehicle sales will fare with the coronavirus pandemic shaking consumer markets and oil prices plunging. One new report predicts worldwide EV sales will tank in 2020, a factor it partly pegs to global uncertainty, which may make people less willing to take a chance on technology that's new to them.
A potential glimmer of hope? A small survey of U.K. consumers in April found that air quality improvements resulting from stay-at-home measures are inspiring new interest in buying non-fossil fuel cars.
How quickly other countries around the world might catch up with Norway's incentivized buying is an ongoing debate in the electric vehicle industry.
Bu said she accepts that it is "probably politically very difficult" for most governments, including in the U.S., to introduce the type of wide-ranging tax differences for electric and fossil-fuel-powered cars that Norway has used.
"I think we will see different countries following faster than the others, but interest is growing," she said. "We definitely will start seeing the same development in country after country."
In Sweden, EV buyers get a bonus of up to 60,000 Swedish krona (roughly $6,000) paid to them six months after their purchase, while Germany recently expanded its subsidies to a similar amount, as long as owners keep their car for at least nine months. Costa Rica, which has committed to going carbon neutral by 2050, exempts electric car owners from its regular 13% sales tax on vehicles.
In the U.S., the federal government has boosted EV sales by offering a $7,500 tax credit to buyers. But that amount phases down once manufacturers sell 200,000 cars; Tesla has already hit the threshold for all its models, as has the Chevrolet Bolt. In December, Congress declined to expand the federal credit program.
Nearly every state and Washington, D.C., offers some incentives for buying an electric vehicle. But while the majority of Americans support the idea of tax breaks or other incentives, and even those who aren't actively considering buying an EV say such a break would encourage them to do so, eight out of 10 of people don't know whether any are available in their state, according to one 2019 poll.
Cost issues aside, American drivers, most of whom can't name an electric car make and model or describe how the vehicles work, are still largely paralyzed by two key worries: that they won't be able to get where they're going on a single charge, and that they won't be able to find a charging station when they need one.
Such anxieties persist among consumers even though today's EVs generally have enough range to handle most drivers' daily travel. The average American drives less than than 30 miles a day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, while more than half a dozen electric models now get over 200 miles on a single charge.
When it comes to charging infrastructure, Norway is miles ahead. It has been rapidly increasing the availability of charging points and electricity supply since 2015, when the government set the goal of having at least one fast charging station every 31 miles on major highways, offering subsidies to providers in order to accelerate installations. By mid-2017, there were more than 1,500 stations along these key routes, up from 300 in 2014.
The country was also the first in the world to introduce supercharger points, where more than two dozen vehicles can charge at the same time. The capital, Oslo, is working with housing cooperatives to install thousands more charging points outside people's homes, and it has started a program that provides wireless charging for its taxi network.
Environmental activists like Ibsen Lindal argue that Norway still isn't quite keeping up with demand. He said that although Oslo has gained a reputation as something of a trailblazer when it comes to charging infrastructure, other cities and municipalities are further behind.
Nationwide, there were about 1.7 electric vehicles per charging point in 2011, compared with around 19.5 today. Ibsen Lindal said that while hard data is limited, anecdotal evidence suggests some electric car users who are frustrated with the current infrastructure may be returning to fossil-fueled vehicles for convenience.
"There have been some reports on people buying electric cars, but then after a few months, they say that there are too many people in line waiting at charging stations, making EV ownership impractical for some people today," he said.
Trondheim EV-owner Flathagen said he has observed long queues at some rural stations and met customers, usually elderly people, who "aren't really prepared for how rapid charging differs from getting gas at a petrol station" or how to use some of the other necessary related technologies, such as apps or SMS messages to pay for electricity. (Norsk ebilforening's research suggests that while early adopters tended to be young, educated men, a much wider range of consumers are now buying the vehicles, including increasing numbers of women and people over 50 years of age.)
Geir Kulia, a 28-year-old in southern Norway who recently bought an electric BMW i3, admitted that while it's been surprisingly easy to charge his car, "the planning phase is a bit more important" when it comes to longer trips. "There is a limit to your freedom; you have to consider where to charge and the time it takes to charge, so you can't just go off driving around Europe."
For Americans with range anxiety, Flathagen said that although Norway is far smaller than the United States, in some ways it's a perfect proving ground.
"It's a rural country with a cold climate, where people drive longer distances than most other European countries," he said. (Cold weather saps batteries faster.) "If EVs work here, they should work everywhere."
This story originally appeared in HuffPost and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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A rare orca stranding on Scotland's Orkney Islands had a happy ending when volunteers and local residents teamed up to send the animal back out to sea.
"Strandings of Orca do occur but are incredibly rare and it is thought that this is the first successful refloat of an Orca by BDMLR in the UK," the group wrote on their Facebook page.
The orca, an 11 foot animal believed to be a male, was first seen on a beach at the Bay of Newark on the Orkney Island of Sanday, BBC News reported.
Local residents Colin and Heather Headworth first thought it was a dolphin when they saw it in the surf near their home Monday morning, according to BDMLR. They alerted BDMLR Area Coordinator Emma Neave-Webb, who called a local team to the scene.
However, when they arrived, medics realized that the stranded animal was in fact an orca. The animal was lying on its side parallel to the sea, making it hard for it to swim to freedom.
"The first thought really is a little bit of panic on how on earth are we going to deal with it, and then all the training kicks in," Neave-Webb told ITV News.
The BDMLR team recruited local residents to help them turn the whale so that it was upright and its blowhole was out of the water, making it easier for it to breathe. They then turned it to face the sea as the tide came in and placed it on a dolphin stretcher.
"After about an hour and with help from local residents to stabilise the animal, it suddenly took matters into its own fins and made a move to swim off," BDMLR wrote. "Unable to hold the animal any longer, the stretcher was lowered and the orca swam forward straight out towards the open sea. It rolled a couple of times and then submerged and continued straight out away from the beach without looking back."
Neave-Webb told ITV News that the orca's escape was cause for celebration.
"There was a lot of cheering, awful lot of cheering," she said. "I'm still buzzing now."
Medics think the orca will survive, since it had fed recently and was in good condition. However, they are monitoring the shore to make sure it does not get stranded again. They believe it is a young male of about three to four years old.
Neave-Webb told ITV News that the orca had likely been feeding in shallow water when the tide went out, leaving it stranded on shore.
Orcas are common in the Orkney Islands, according to BDMLR. However, area experts think the stranded orca may not belong to any local pods.
The Orkney Marine Mammal Research Initiative is talking with colleagues in Norway to try to identify the animal, according to BBC News.
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In 2017, a team of researchers went to the Santa Cruz Mountains to study how mountain lions responded to human disturbance. Hanging speakers that broadcasted human voices, they found mountain lions were fearful of the sounds, altering their eating behaviors and the corresponding food chain, The Atlantic reported.
"People often fear large carnivores like mountain lions, but in reality, they are far more scared of us," Kaitlyn Gaynor from UC Berkeley, who was not involved in the study, told The Atlantic.
Scientists have long understood that human activity impacts wildlife, but most studies have focused on individual species' behaviors.
For the first time, researchers calculated the global impact of human activity on animal movement, according to the University of Sydney. Their findings were published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Compiling data from 208 studies on 167 species, from both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, scientists quantified how human activity impacts the movement of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and arthropods, the authors wrote.
"It is vital we understand the scale of impact that humans have on other animal species," lead author Dr. Tim Doherty, a wildlife ecologist, told the University of Sydney. "The consequences of changed animal movement can be profound and lead to reduced animal fitness, lower chances of survival, reduced reproductive rates, genetic isolation and even local extinction."
Human disturbance reduced an animal's movement, on average, by 37 percent or increased it by 70 percent, the authors wrote in The Conversation.
South Africa's spotted sand lizard, for example, was found to move more frequently over larger areas than lizards in less disturbed areas. Similarly, moose in Norway were found to increase their home ranges by 84 percent due to military operations, the University of Sydney noted.
While some species increased their movements, others were restricted from human disturbances. Due to forest fragmentation, South America's Northern bearded saki monkey decreased its home range and movement speeds, The Guardian reported.
Changes in their movement impact more than just the animal's ability to "find mates, food and shelter, escape predators and competitors, and avoid disturbances and threats," the authors wrote in The Conversation. These changes also "cascade" throughout ecosystems.
For example, when mountain lions heard human voices, their movements slowed, which increased the distances of rodents in the area, The Guardian reported.
"Animal movement is linked to important ecological processes such as pollination, seed dispersal and soil turnover, so disrupted animal movement can have negative impacts throughout ecosystems," Doherty told the University of Sydney.
While all human activities can impact animal behavior, the scientists found that hunting and recreation had more of an impact on animals than urbanization and logging, The Guardian reported.
"That most species increase movement in response to disturbance gives an interesting hint regarding the mechanism of anthropogenic pressures beyond the obvious, such as invasive predators, habitat loss or direct exploitation," professor Corey Bradshaw, director of the Global Ecology Lab at Flinders University in South Australia, told The Guardian.
Although the study confirmed much of what the scientists already knew, their findings can direct policy decisions to address human disturbance and promote conservation. But "where habitat modification is unavoidable," Doherty added, "we recommend that knowledge of animal movement behaviour informs landscape design and management to ensure animal movement is secured."
One conservation effort aimed at adapting to animal movement is currently underway in one of the world's major cities. In the increasingly growing urban environment of Los Angeles, mountain lion populations are split by a major freeway. This causes the populations to experience low genetic diversity and high mortality rates due to human activity, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
In response, the National Wildlife Federation's #SaveLACougars campaign is in its final stages of developing what may be the largest wildlife crossing in the world, enabling mountain lions and other species to cross California's 101 freeway safely.
"As evidenced from decades of wildlife crossing projects across the world... wildlife crossings work," the National Wildlife Federation wrote in a statement. The crossing can also "serve as a model for urban wildlife conservation across the globe."
By Victoria Masterson
Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.
Since 1950, more than nine billion tonnes of plastic have been produced globally, of which only 9% is recycled, according to building tech company Othalo, while almost a billion people live in slums.
It has partnered with UN-Habitat – the United Nations program for human settlements and sustainable urban development – to create components to build three demonstration homes to help tackle Africa's housing shortage.
"In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the immediate need for low-cost housing is 160 million units," the company says.
This is expected to increase to 360 million by 2050 as a result of rapid urbanization. But with today's plastic waste, Othalo believes more than one billion houses can be built.
In 2021, the first factory producing elements such as partitions for walls, ceilings and floors from recycled plastic will be built in Kenya.
UN-Habitat says an estimated 60% of people living in urban areas of Africa are in informal settlements. At the same time, between 1990 and 2017, African countries imported around 230 metric tonnes of plastic, "which mostly ended up in dump sites creating a massive environmental challenge," the agency adds.
UN-Habitat deputy executive director, Victor Kisob, said the aim of the partnership with Othalo was to "promote adequate, sustainable and affordable housing for all."
Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo
Othalo's process involves shredding plastic waste and mixing it with other elements, including non-flammable materials. Components are used to build up to four floors, with a home of 60 square metres using eight tons of recycled plastic. A factory with one production line can produce 2,800 housing units annually.
Following successful laboratory tests, Othalo's factory in Estonia has started producing components to build three demonstration homes for Kenya's capital, Nairobi; Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti has been developing and testing the technology since 2016 in partnership with SINTEF, a 70-year-old independent research organization in Trondheim, Norway, and experts at Norway's University of Tromsø.
Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti. Othalo
Almost seven out of every 10 people in the world are expected to live in urban areas by 2050. More than 90% of this growth will take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
"In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of this rapid urbanization will be dramatic," UN-Habitat warns.
Lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and outdated infrastructure, escalating poverty and unemployment, and pollution and health issues, are just some of the effects.
Mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanization need to change for the growth of cities and urban areas to be turned into opportunities that will leave nobody behind, UN-Habitat says.
Pioneers of Change
Reimagining cities and communities for greater resilience and sustainability was a key topic at the World Economic Forum's Pioneers of Change Summit 2020.
The digital event brought together innovators and stakeholders from around the world to explore solutions to the challenges facing enterprises, governments and society.
Opening the summit, Stephan Mergenthaler, the Forum's Head of Strategic Intelligence and a member of the Executive Committee, said: "We need to change the way we produce, the way we live and interact in our cities to make this transition to net-zero emissions a reality…
"And as this year has illustrated so dramatically, we need to make every effort that we keep populations healthy, if we want to avoid jeopardizing all this progress."
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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