As COP26 approaches, the needs of our climate & our planet’s future are held in the balance.
With very bleak reports telling us that 2021 is the tipping point to make radical changes to our greenhouse gas emissions; COP26 is the time for world leaders to make good on their climate pledges.
In this past week UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has Tweeted:
“One week before COP26, we were still on track for a catastrophic global temperature rise of around 2.7 degrees Celsius. Scientists are clear on the facts. Leaders need to be just as clear in their plans to avoid climate catastrophe.”
United States President Biden Tweeted on the 25.10.2021:
“The existential threat to humanity is climate change. In a few days, I am headed to COP26 in Glasgow to demonstrate a commitment to the world that we will get to a net-zero emissions economy no later than 2050.”
The severity of the climate crisis is being felt globally. Indigenous people are under threat of loosing their entire heritage. Billions of people who are already living in polluted areas, are dying of cancers & other pollution related illness. Our air is toxic, the ground we are meant to grow our crops in is full of chemicals & our oceans are clogged with the debris of human waste.
It is no secret that human behaviour is to blame for the state of the planet & the fact that we are hurtling towards a 2.7°C global temperature rise, which as all of the scientific reports have predicted, is a tipping point from which we cannot recover.
COP26 therefore is being hailed as the last chance for world leaders to stop pledging to reduce emissions, but to act upon those pledges made as part of the Paris Agreement & make them a reality.
However, despite us all being keenly aware of climate change & the impact it is not only having on us now, but the impact it will continue to have in our future; there is & has been a quiet revolution going on across the globe to combat this.
Scientific & Engineering innovators have been working tirelessly on projects to combat anthropogenic climate change & these are going on around us all of the time. Sadly, for the most part these incredible scientific & engineering innovations are not covered by the general media & are missed by the vast majority of people across the globe. Here is just a snapshot of some of the innovations Dolphin N2 have looked at over the past year.
Renewable energy – Denmark offshore wind farm
Denmark having already been the first to build an offshore wind farm in 1991, have now become world leaders once again with their highly ambitious floating energy island.
Denmark’s landmark plans having been approved, will see a development the size of 18 football pitches, some 80 kilometres off the Danish coast; host up to 600 giant wind turbines, each standing up to 260 metres tall. Large batteries will also be installed on the island to store surplus energy, for when demand is higher.
The initial phase of the development is set to generate 3GW of energy, rising to 10GW. This is enough to provide energy to 10 million households, with the surplus being sold to other nations & further plans to generate green hydrogen from sea water, also to be sold throughout the EU.
Global food production – Sundrop Farm, Adelaide. Seawater & Solar farming
The Sundrop Farm in Adelaide, Australia has transformed farming & is harnessing the power of seawater & the sun to create fully sustainable food production.
Fast hydroponic greenhouses have been set up on degraded land in arid areas, which is usually not suitable for crop production. The giant greenhouses convert seawater into fresh water for irrigation & the entire farm is powered by a solar energy, which is in abundance in Adelaide. Sundrop Farm then use sustainably sourced carbon dioxide & nutrients to maximise the growth of their crops (1)
Vertical farming enables crops to be grown in a controlled environment, where they can receive just the right amount of heat, light, water & nutrients, & can be harvested when they are in peak condition.
Using hydroponics means farmers do not need to use soil to grow their crops, much less water is used & can be recycled many times & can increase crop yields by up to 500% per unit land area compared to more traditional farming.
One British company thriving in the vertical farming industry are Shockingly Fresh. Based in Edinburgh, Shockingly Fresh are currently developing five sites, with plans afoot to build dozens of indoor vertical farms. Increased yields from the farms could help British growers boost crop production & reduce the UK’s reliance on costly off-season imports from the EU. (2)
Our oceans are filled with plastic debris, with some 8 millions tons of plastic finding it’s way into our seas & rivers each year. A recent study has discovered that 44% of plastic found in the sea, is currently linked to takeout food.
Despite many takeaway food outlets having the opportunity to purchase sustainable wood cutlery/plates & recycled, sustainably sourced & biodegradable packaging; these figures are alarming.
One of the most disturbing issues about the plastics which are clogging up the ocean, is the fact that their base element, plastic, is traditionally sourced from petroleum. This means when these plastics deteriorate & break down, not only do they become another pollutant in the form of micro plastics; but they are also releasing petroleum based toxins back into the oceans & our waterways.
Bioplastics are a biodegradable alternative to petroleum based plastics & are naturally derived from the by-products of corn stubble, grasses & mesquite agricultural production.
The new technology involves a “plug-in” preconditioning process, a simple adjustment for biofuel refineries, said Joshua Yuan, Ph.D., AgriLife Research scientist, Professor & chair of Synthetic Biology a& Renewable Products in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Department of Plant Pathology. These “plug-in” technologies allow for optimization of sustainable, cost-effective lignin — the key component of bioplastics used in food packaging & other everyday items. (3)
With the world producing some 381 million tonnes of plastic waste yearly & this is looking to double by 2034; 50% of this is single-use plastic & only 9% has ever been recycled.
These figures are alarming & if the bioplastics model can be adapted as one of the many solutions to reduce the gargantuan amounts of plastic waste polluting planet Earth, then this more natural approach to plastic manufacture can only be a good thing.
Despite this rather dim view of the use of reforestation/afforestation in certain countries, Scientific research is proving that global reforestation programmes, rewilding & an ecological restoration system; has the potential to reduce & in some places reverse the onset of advanced anthropogenic climate change.
Akira Miyawaki, born in Japan in 1928, was a world-renowned botanist & specialist in the restoration of natural vegetation on soils that have been degraded by humans or by natural disasters. Akira Miyawaki was a past master of the art of growing wild forests in less than 30 years & tirelessly pursued his goal of restoring forests as they were at the origin of the world, before human intervention.
His unique method of planting was based on four main principles:
-the selection of a wide variety of native species of the region, which will best adapt to the planting field;
-the random disposition of seeds in nurseries, which aims to reproduce the complexity of a natural environment in which competition and complementarity between species occur, and which accelerates vegetation cycles;
-soil fertilization using natural materials (recycled wood chips, decomposed plants, humus) before planting young shoots
-the autonomy of the obtained forests: after three years, the trees exceed 2 meters in height; the forest no longer needs man to grow. It can survive independently for more than 9,000 years. (4)
You will generally not read about these vastly important climate sensitive projects in the global media, or social media channels, unless you are actively seeking them out. As COP26 approaches we need to be reminded of the incredible advances human beings have made & are making to combat climate change & work in tandem with World Leaders to ensure the Earths future is secured.
Written & cited by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2