The First Dots on May 5—Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands
By Aaron Packard
As the sunrises on Saturday, May 5, there will be a gathering held on Majuro Atoll—in the North Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands—unlike any other there before. The people there will arrive carrying large cardboard-cut-out dots, and as the sun creeps over the horizon, they’ll hold them up high while the local reverend will start chanting a prayer for the day.
It sounds like it could be some sort of local ritual, but rest-assured it’s not. It is in fact a sort of global ritual—a blessing for the hundreds of events across more than 100 countries taking place on that day for Climate Impacts Day. The dots are especially important—at each of those hundreds of events people will be holding dots up to in a bid to help the world ‘connect the dots’ between the recent deluge of extreme weather events and climate change.
Walking from one side of Majuro Atoll to the other takes just a couple of minutes, so over the coming decades residents will have to start planning for relocation to a place higher above sea-level. Already since 1993, they have seen of 7mm (0.3inches) per year—which is twice the global average. This is set to keep on increasing. But on Saturday, they’re raising dots to connect the fact that about one quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans each year is absorbed by the oceans. This extra carbon dioxide reacts with seawater and causes the ocean to become gradually more acidic. And this coupled with the increasing temperature of the oceans is and will continue to put a tremendous strain on coral reefs in the Marshall Islands. It’s those reefs that provide the food and livelihoods for much of the Marshall Island’s population.
I arrived in Majuro on May 1 to be part of the opening ceremony on Saturday, from where we’ll be loading up footage to global broadcasters. There’s also a team of divers here who will be taking a dot down to a coral reef and getting footage with underwater cameras. But the other reason I have arrived in Majuro is that starting today we have an action packed two days of 350 climate leadership workshop.
One of our amazing organisers from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Mary-Linda Salvador, has traveled with me as a facilitator-in-training so our partners in FSM—the Conservation Society of Pohnpei (who Mary-Linda works for) and the Micronesia Conservation Trust can continue training local organisers themselves. They’ve got plenty of momentum building in FSM. Just yesterday we wrapped up a 2-day workshop in Pohnpei with 35 young people. It was remarkable to see how many of the participants who may not have spoken in front of a large group before start to step up and speak their voice. By the end of the workshop, the participants were super charged for their action on Saturday and in the months and years ahead.
But back to here in Majuro Atoll and the Sunrise ceremony on Saturday—it’s no light task—because so many of the impacts we have seen from extreme weather in the last couple of years have devastated and killed, carrying a great cost to life on Earth. Remember the 20 million refugees from flooding in Pakistan, Thailand, Fiji and countless other places? The hundreds of deaths from the wildfires in Russia and Australia?
Joining a Climate Impacts Day event on Saturday, May 5 is one of the most important ways that you can help prevent this extreme weather from irreversibly tightening its grip on our planet. So check out climatedots.org and get your dots ready.
For more information, click here.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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