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Thanksgiving thoughts amid climate concerns

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Written by: Alexa Stone

In 2019, we found much to be thankful for!

  • Advances in food security

    Scientists have unlocked the structure of key components of photosynthesis, the foundation of life on Earth. This discovery could lead to photosynthesis being ‘redesigned’ to achieve higher agricultural production yields that meet urgent food security needs.[1]

  • Better batteries

    Storage solutions for renewable energy are improving. A new ‘flow battery’ with zinc and iron membranes lasts longer and is less expensive. Lower costs will make renewable energy investments practical in more places.[2]

  • Clean air technology

    Engineers have developed a new device that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from air. The device could be used in the battle against climate change. It is constructed much like a large battery, with a stack of charged electrochemical plates. When the stack is charged and air passes through the stack, CO2 is absorbed. Those gasses can then be captured as the device discharges.[3]

  • Less plastics pollution

    Restrictions in more than 50 recent laws should reduce landfill mountains and keep vast quantities of single-use plastics out of oceans. In the European Union, plastics in straws, cutlery, and cotton swabs have been banned entirely.

    Fewer plastics should be discarded in the U.S. as well, after voluntary commitments by McDonalds, Pepsi, Walmart, have committed to 100% recyclable or biodegradable packing by 2025.[4]

  • Lower renewable energy costs

    After seeing declines in equipment prices, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates far greater development of solar farms and wind farms. Battery costs are being reduced as well, which the IEA sees as a precursor to more battery-powered cars.[5]

  • More certified buildings

    The U.S. Green Building Council’s reported a significant milestone this year. Over 100,000 commercial projects have earned Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification.[6]

    A total of 3.1 billion square feet in 20,403 properties have been ENERGY STAR certified. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, which administers ENERGY STAR, those certified buildings average 35% less energy use, compared to typical buildings.[7]

  • Youth activism

    The commitments and actions of young people worldwide are bringing desperately needed attention to climate concerns. An initial result has been declaration of climate emergencies by Ireland and Britain. Companies and citizens are sharing their concerns with government leaders, calling for substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.[8]

News and Notes items accompany the longer articles found in ecoPreserve’s newsletter, Sharing Sustainability. Several issues of the newsletter can be previewed here.

[1] — Experts unlock key to photosynthesis
[2] — Scientists design new grid batteries
[3] — A new way to remove carbon dioxide from air
[5] — (subscription required)