EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Mentioned by:
Nasa Smithsonian BBC The Washington Post NPR

Carbfix CEO Edda Sif Pind Aradottir. Carbfix

Carbon emissions are the leading cause forcing the climate crisis today. These emissions account for more than 60% of man-made global warming, as well as other conditions related to climate crisis such as ocean acidification and weather pattern disruptions. However, a new solution to these impending carbon catastrophes has been discovered by Icelandic startup Carbfix, which is turning carbon dioxide into stone.

Carbfix offers a plan for reaching Paris agreement goals for limiting anthropogenic warming using a process known as carbon capture and storage (CCS). The project, founded in 2007 by Reykjavik Energy and several research institutions (now owned by Reykjavik Energy), aims to capture CO2 from industrial sites, dissolve it in water, and then inject it into the ground where it turns to rock. The process only takes two years, effectively accelerating the process of natural carbon storage to meet increasing carbon emissions throughout the developed world.

Precipitated carbonates in a core drilled at the Carbfix injection site. Carbfix

Carbfix's proprietary technology "captures" the carbon dioxide from an industrial facility before it enters the atmosphere, effectively bringing the facility's emissions to zero. They are also partnering with a Swiss company, Climeworks, to perform what is called carbon capture, which withdraws the CO2 from surrounding air. This can reduce a company's net carbon footprint, as well as negate previously unaddressed carbon emissions.

Carbfix CEO Edda Sif Pind Aradottir told Bloomberg in an interview, "This is a technology that can be scaled — it's cheap and economic and environmentally friendly. Basically, we are just doing what nature has been doing for millions of years, so we are helping nature help itself."

The Hellisheidi power plant. Carbfix

Aradottir believes that the CCS process can be more affordable than buying carbon credits from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). The ETS is set-up in a cap and trade system and does not currently accept CCS offsets. However, some analysts believe that adding direct carbon storage to the list of accepted offsets will be crucial to meeting Paris agreement metrics by 2050.

To learn more about how you can support Carbfix and Climeworks' mission, click here.

Read More
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A rare Northern Cardinal with a rare genetic mutation was photographed on Feb. 20 in the Grand Valley area of Warren County, Pennsylvania. Jamie Hill

Jamie Hill has been a birdwatcher for more than 48 years. After retiring from his career as an ornithologist, he spent most of his time scouting rare birds in the Pennsylvania area. On February 20, he was given the chance of a lifetime to photograph a "once-in-a-lifetime," half-male, half-female Northern Cardinal.

One of Hill's birding friends, Annette Smith, told him that an "unusual bird" had been spotted by a family friend near Grand Valley, Pennsylvania. After receiving photos of the bird, Hill and Smith requested to come visit the home and try to track down the rare bird.

From the photographs sent by the Grand Valley homeowner, Hill suspected the bird was leucistic. This is a rare condition in which birds lose pigmentation in their feathers, creating an albino or pale yellow appearance. Leucistic birds are novel, but what they discovered was even more spectacular.

Hill believes that the bird is instead affected with bilateral gynandromorphism. This rare genetic mutation causes birds (and other animal species) to be born with both male and female tissues including secondary sex characteristics. This genetic condition caused the strange coloration of the bird, making it quite striking. Male cardinals are bright red, while females are pale brown, which made the bilateral gynandromorphism in this bird easy to identify.

A rare Northern Cardinal with a rare genetic mutation was photographed on Feb. 20 in the Grand Valley area of Warren County, Pennsylvania. Jamie Hill

Hill told the BBC, "I have been searching for the long-thought-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker for almost two decades, and photographing this rare version of one of our most common backyard birds, this gynandromorph northern cardinal, was almost as exciting as I think I would get if I actually found the woodpecker."

It is uncertain how rare bilateral gynandromorphism is in the wild. However, the tracking of thousands of birds by the Powdermill Nature Reserve since 1962 has only resulted in 10 reported cases of the disorder, not including the most recent spotting.

Another similar Northern Cardinal was spotted by Jeffrey and Shirley Caldwell in 2019. The Caldwells had been birdwatching from their backyard feeders for more than 25 years when they discovered the striking cardinal in the Redwood trees. Hill suspects it might be the same gynandromorphic bird seen in Grand Valley because of the close proximity, rarity, and resemblance in the markings.

To see more photos of the Northern Cardinal and others in Hill's photography collection, check out his Facebook page.

Savannah Hasty is an environmental writer with more than six years of experience and has written thousands of articles for clients around the world. Her work focuses on environmental news, lifestyle content, and copywriting for sustainable brands. Savannah lives on the sunny coast of Florida and is inspired by this to play an active role in the preservation of the state's marine life and natural ecosystems.

Read More

Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day on Capital Pathway in Ottawa, Ontario with Camille Bérubé. Daniel Baylis

The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.

Since The Great Trail opened in 2017, the TCT has worked hard to provide as much information about the greenway to Canadians across the country. By working with the individual parks and trail groups that make up The Great Trail, they have created an experience that outdoorsmen from all over Canada can enjoy. However, until recently, little information was given for accessibility to the individual trails. This is why the partnership with AccessNow is crucial.

AccessNow is a Canadian social enterprise that allows individuals to pin areas on a worldwide map that are accessible or that need accessibility improvements. By using the AccessNow map on The Great Trail, the TCT hopes to help Canadians can find barrier-free segments of the trail as well as alert the organization to areas that still have barriers. This measure aims to provide a better overall experience for hikers, bikers, and skiers visiting the Great Trail.

The AccessNow mapping initiative began with para-athlete volunteers from the Canadian Paralympic Committee. After the announcement that the 2020 Paralympics would be postponed to August of 2021, many para-athletes were eager to help in the project. The TCT's president and CEO Eleanor McMahon said, "With the Games postponed, (the athletes) had some time in their schedule — we were fortunate enough that they chose to spend some of their time helping us."

To McMahon and other leaders of the project, the partnership is about more than tracking access on the trail. It's about making as many voices heard, and ensuring that everyone can receive the physical and mental benefits of outdoor recreation. Maayan Ziv, founder & CEO of AccessNow said, "It is an honor to work closely with the athletes involved in this project, their voices and perspectives contribute to the 'nothing about us without us' mandate that we pride ourselves on celebrating across Canada."

Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando

This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. Studies from the spring of 2020 indicate that Canadian's mental health has worsened since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19.

The Mayo Clinic lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."

TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."

Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their trail stories and 2020 Impact Report.

Read More
Spinning icon while loading more posts.