With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
On the surface, stopping or slowing the progression of climate change sounds pretty simple: Reduce emissions, and capture all of the carbon you can through methods like sustainable agriculture and reforestation. But, of course, the nuts and bolts are far more complicated. How can we best cut emissions without sacrificing productivity? Where will the financing come from? How can we do all of this while still providing for the 9.6 billion people who are projected to call Earth home by 2050?
Academics, inventors, innovators and other would-be changemakers have concocted many a scheme in the hopes of answering these questions — suggesting everything from a carbon tax to make lower emissions feasible, to widespread organic agriculture systems some say can feed the world sustainably.
But, for the sake of Friday fun, let’s take a look at some climate-cooling concepts that are a bit more outside the box. Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t accuse these ideas of being boring.
1. “Mine” the sky
At the 2015 Social Innovation Summit, a side event taking place during the COP21 climate talks in Paris, the TriplePundit team noticed a booth that caught our eye. An organization was touting a concept to “mine” carbon reserves from the atmosphere to meet the world’s energy needs while reversing climate change.
Carbon Wealth estimates that $76 trillion worth of usable carbon exists in the atmosphere, some of which can be extracted with its concept dubbed, appropriately, SkyMining. The concept combines biology and technology — using fast-growing grass to extract carbon from the atmosphere, “a large part of which is permanently stored in the ground,” the company said. In addition to stored carbon, the company claims to have developed a technology that converts carbon from the grass into a carbon-neutral fuel.
Could it work? Only time will tell. For now, check out this video and decide for yourself.
2. Delete your old emails
Be honest: How many emails do you have in your inbox? Even those of us who live minimally in real life can be downright hoarders when it comes to our email — holding on to nearly every message in case we ‘need it someday.’
But did you know your bad email habits can harm the planet? It’s pretty simple: Every email we save needs to be archived on a server. The more emails you save, the more server space you hog and the more energy is used at data centers — which are on-track to consume 140 billion kilowatt-hours of energy per year by 2020.
Last year, to coincide with the COP21 climate talks in Paris, mobile and Internet services provider Orange called on emailers around the world to participate in E-Cleaning Days — pledging to spend Nov. 16 and Dec. 11 purging unneeded emails. If you missed it, don’t worry. It’s not too late to de-clutter and do your part to save energy.
3. Mask climate change with a fake volcano
David Keith, a professor of applied physics at Harvard and of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, has an idea for battling climate change that’s … interesting, to say the least.
Keith connected the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines to a brief reversal of most post-Industrial global warming. He posits that, by releasing sulfuric acid into the stratosphere, we can mimic a volcanic eruption and temporarily reverse current warming, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
The key word there is temporarily. Bloomberg reporter Peter Coy likened the solution to “perfuming a skunk” and said it “adds one pollutant to counteract another.” Sulfate particles falling from the sky are also bad news for humans, and exposure could even cause death. Even Keith allows that it’s a “brutally ugly technical fix,” the paper reported. Yikes, I think we’ll pass on this one.
4. Make cheeseburgers from plants
Okay, we know what you’re thinking. Before you even go there, we are not talking about tasteless tofu-burgers and gummy soy cheese. This something else altogether.
Based in Redwood City, California, Impossible Foods creates meats and cheeses that are made entirely from plant-based ingredients but mimic the taste and texture of real meat with unprecedented accuracy. The burgers are even blood-red when raw and brown gradually when cooked (seriously).
The cheeses (everything from sliced to soft) and meats (cheeseburgers and tartar) from Impossible Foods contain no cholesterol, hormones or antibiotics — and require far less land, water and energy to produce than animal products.
The 3p team hit the Impossible Foods party during COP21, and we can attest that this stuff tastes shockingly like the real thing. As a lifelong vegetarian who has long put off going fully plant-based out of a vehement hatred for vegan cheese, I can tell you that Impossible cheeses are pretty much indiscernible from their bovine-sourced counterparts. And our omnivorous staffers said the same of those tasty burgers. The Impossible Burger may hit the U.S. market as early as this year.
5. Collect cow farts
Still not sold on the idea of a plant-based burger? Well maybe this idea will sound more, um, appetizing.
One of the biggest problems with animal protein from a greenhouse gas perspective is the, well, gas these animals pass and the methane emissions their farts and feces introduce into the atmosphere. This may sound silly, but these emissions actually totaled more than 11 percent of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2014.
Researchers in Argentina claim this presents an opportunity for farmers to collect and sell methane by capturing cow farts in large bags, Fast Company reported last year. Yes, these guys are entirely serious, although the folks at Fast Company don’t seem convinced. Reporter Ben Schiller predicted we’ll likely still need a “war on cows.”
So, what do you think? Do any of these ideas have merit? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section and on social media.
Image credits: 1) Pixabay 2) Mary Mazzoni