Environmental Progress News July, 2017

The Upside to Global Warming

Global warming has certainly caught the attention of the world. It has brought (most of) us together over a common cause, addressing the threat of increasing climate change. If we do nothing global warming has the potential to end life as we know it.

This reality has put a new focus on cleaning up our act all around the world, which in the long run will provide us with a healthier and more sustainable environment.

Implementing sustainable practices also provides many new financial opportunities.

environmental progress news

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

How do you bring about change?

Through monetary incentives, of course!

Here in Thailand, as everywhere else around the world where crop residue is burned by farmers, we have a major pollution problem at harvest time. Not only are we inundated with harmful air from all the smoke, it is a major contributor to Global Warming.

Added to the crop burning, we have local forest fires intentionally set to gather the mushrooms that emerge after a fire.

In 2016 Warm Heart Environmental Program, through a grant from the Canadian Government, set up a demonstration of how to stop the harmful open field burning by providing an alternative way to eliminate the crop waste in a way that actually produces extra income for the farmers.

In our pilot project crop waste was burned smoke free in pyrolysis ovens, creating biochar.

Biochar’s many useful benefits puts a dollar value on the crop residue that in the past was simply burned away.

Kind of like setting a field of money on fire.

For more information about the pilot project read “Converting Smoke to Biochar

Slide presentation from the “Stop the Smoke Campaign”
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Environmental Daily News Updates

July 31, 2017

Advances in Geothermal

When you think of alternative energy windmills and solar panels probably come to mind. Geothermal is another source that is starting to break through as a viable source of clean, renewable, and cheap energy. Read more about what is happening in the geothermal world in this article by Ian Dyer Geothermal Energy Will Grow 70% in the Next 4 Years

Missed an article? Catch up on our Environmental Daily News Archive!

Why not consider climate change a profitable business opportunity?
by Dr. D. Michael Shafer

The climate change “debate” has deteriorated into something more akin to the current political campaign than a serious discussion of real policy options for confronting a global challenge with huge implications for all of us.

There are deniers, but precious few in the headquarters offices of major corporations.

The real issue before us is what to do?

But sitting in those lofty offices the view is not good. The polarization of the struggle over climate change has left a battlefield strewn with bad options.

In the Good Guys v. Bad Guys world out there, the very discussion of win-win solutions seems to be anathema, a concession of defeat.

Does that make good business sense?

There is no reason that solutions to the climate change challenge must be financial black holes.

Nowhere is it written that companies that confront climate change are throwing away shareholder value and risking global competitiveness.

These are simply the conclusions of people who lack the imagination to see the profit potential in making sustainability part of the way a company does business.

The environment is, after all, only the environment; everyone lives in it.

Only the slow fail to adapt their business model when the environment changes.

The fast soon recognize that smarter, better adapted business models can cut costs and increase revenues – oh, yes, while “doing the right thing,” as the environmentalists would say, although shockingly for a profit motive.

Let’s take a look at one example that makes this point perfectly. (read more)

Waste-Not Recycling

“People want to do the right thing; we just have to educate them,” ~ Craig Young

The Biochar game is truly a win-win, and is catching on all around the world.

In Colorado the Larimer County landfill is working towards reducing landfill pressure by joining with Waste-Not Recycling by diverting tree waste. Starting this month, the landfill staff will be directing tree trimming services to dump their loads in a designated area. Other wood waste will also be directed to the wood pile, such as pallets and crates.

A recent study of landfill content showed that 50% of what is dumped can be diverted, with about 18% of that being wood waste.

Waste-Not will bring in shredding machines, and reduce the wood into smaller chunks. The next step is to truck it to Biochar Now.

Biochar Now has been in business since 2011. With 40 large steel ovens they process clean waste wood — beetle-killed pine, logs from forest fires, pallets and crates and, soon, tree trimmings diverted from the Larimer County Landfill.

The biochar process breaks the carbon cycle. When trees die and are left to rot they emit carbon and methane into the air, contributing to global warming. Gathering the dead trees and other wood scraps and turning them into biochar has many benefits besides helping to clean up our environment.

The end product that Biochar Now produces can be used in many useful ways. It is widely used as a soil amendment to improve soil conditions and increase crop production.

It also functions as an effective tool to remove excess phosphorus in algae-choked lakes, and used to clean up water in mine-reclamation projects, as biochar is a negatively charged carbon, it attracts and holds heavy metals and arsenic.

Biochar Now has plans to expand their capacity to 120 ovens, and they are negotiating expansion sites in California, British Columbia, and Southeast United States.

This is just another example of how global warming has inspired innovation profitably while helping the environment.

Warm Heart encourages use of biochar technology to help clean up our environment, Dr. Michael Shafer, founder and director of Warm Heart, presents a plan that any town, city, or State can implement to effectively reduce wood waste pollution while saving money in his article Can your town save the earth?.

Making money with trash

“The purpose – where I start – is the idea of use. It is not recycling, it’s reuse. ~ Issey Miyake”

Elimination of smoke is just one the ways to generate an income while helping the environment.

Our world has become so polluted from plastics and styrofoam trash and it is damaging ecosystems.

Manufacturers and companies are becoming aware of the problem and turning to sustainable practices as a solution.

But we are still left with tons and tons of garbage. What if that garbage could be turned into a profit?

Styrofoam

Let’s take a look at one of the worst contributors to ecosystem destruction. Styrofoam.

Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. According to Washington University, styrofoam takes 500 years to decompose; it cannot be recycled, so the styrofoam cups dumped in landfills are there to stay.

Did you know on a daily basis manufacturers produce enough styrofoam cups that if you placed them end to end they would circle the globe? That is just the cups. That is a lot of pollution, and it ends up in our dumps, our oceans and rivers.

Time to repurpose

The best scenario is to stop using styrofoam, but that is not going to happen. What we can do is reduce our use of styrofoam (use recyclable cups, food to go containers, etc). So what is the solution to the accumulated styrofoam pollution?

Repurposing the waste into a new useful product. One current method that is spreading like wildfire is mixing styrofoam with cement, creating a cheaper, lighter, and more flexible building material. It is easy to do, provides a microenterprise business opportunity for anyone willing to put out the effort.

Read a step by step guide on how to recycle this pesky trash!

Visit our new Sustainable Microenterpise page for many more ideas on how you can turn trash into cash, while helping clean up our environment.

Environmental Progress News
Climate change and global warming can be reversed. A gloom and doom attitude does not bring about change. What we need are solutions to fix the problem.

The focus of our Newsletter is on current positive steps that are being taken around the world. Our goal is to inform and share resources.

We encourage article submissions that focus on what is working.

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Naysayers were wrong

“What was once considered impossible is now profitable”

When you look back at the beginning of the alternative energy market, you can see that we have “come a long way, baby!”

What was once thought of as too expensive, to unreliable, and impractical has turned out to be one of our best tools against global warming.

The more we are able to wean ourselves away from dirty energy and embrace sustainable, clean energy the better chance we have of reducing global warming and stabilizing our climate. Another win-win for everyone!

Advances in solar energy

By April Sigmund

Advancements in solar energy have come a remarkably long way over the past few years, especially when you consider that humans first harnessed solar energy in 7th century B.C. by using sunlight and magnifying glass materials to light fires. Next came adaptations by the Greeks and Romans, who generated solar power with mirrors in order to light ceremonial torches. Then, Roman bathhouses and ancestors to the Pueblo Native Americans were the originators of “sunrooms”, or rooms designed to direct sunlight into one concentrated area. Much later on in the mid 1800s, solar energy plants were developed to heat water that created steam needed to drive machinery.

In 1876, William Grylls Adams and his student Richard Evans Day discovered that the element selenium could create an electrical current when exposed to light. Seven years later, an American inventor named Charles Fritts created the first solar cell by layering selenium onto a gold backing. Though this was an important advancement, the cell was relatively useless at less than 1% efficiency.

It wasn’t until over a hundred years later in 1954 when three scientists determined that replacing selenium with silicon could create a much more efficient solar cell that could actually power a device for multiple hours per day.

In 1956, the first solar modules were made commercially available but came at a heavy price. A one watt solar module cost $300, which was well over the means of most people, however solar cells were still introduced to the public when they began to be used in radios and toys sold to everyday consumers. Otherwise, throughout the 1950s and 1960s solar panels were mostly being used to power satellites in space until the early 1970s when Dr. Elliot Berman designed a cheaper solar module that reduced the price from around $100 per watt to $20 per watt. This reduction in price resulted in a widespread use of solar power all across the world, and people began installing solar panels on their homes and businesses. President Jimmy Carter even had solar panels installed on the White House.

Since 1980, the cost of solar panels has dropped by at least 10 percent every year. Purchasing a solar panel today can cost as little as $0.50 a watt, leading to an increase in demand that has lead to over a million U.S. installations in early 2016. Advancements in solar energy continue to progress at a remarkable pace. It can be used to power everything from transportation to homes to consumer electronics like cell phones and tablets, and advancements continue to happen at a rapid pace. While we have come a long way from the ancient methods of harnessing solar energy, recent advancements have made it clear that the sky is the limit on the ways we can incorporate this renewable energy source into our everyday lives.

Riding on the wind

By April Sigmund

When you think of wind turbines, you likely picture a fleet of huge steel propellers rising up from rural, rolling farm land. This idyllic setting is typical for turbines because they need strong winds and a lot of space to operate.

In the last few years however, several European companies have begun to experiment with small scale turbine designs suited for urban environments where generated wind power is most needed. Along with reducing the size of typical wind turbines, these companies are taking on the challenge of making the urban versions look more aesthetically pleasing. The ultimate goal is to one day design turbines meant for household use, which would allow homeowners to harvest and use their own wind power.

French company New Wind is one company making great strides in creating a feasible urban turbine design. Their “wind trees” contain plastic leaves that have the ability to harness wind at speeds less than five mph, coming from any direction. Most large turbines need winds over 22 mph to function. New Wind estimates that the energy these wind trees produce can meet half of the average French household’s annual energy needs, run a small office for 12 months, or charge an electric car for 10,000 miles each year. New Wind now has contracts to install their trees at several companies throughout Europe.

While this concept is still relatively new and up and coming, its progress is important as we continue searching for ways to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy.

Environmental Awareness for Kids

If you can’t give children optimism, then what are you doing? ~ Matt Haig

Addressing the issues of climate change will unfortunately land at the feet of our children. There is no better time than the present to encourage Environmental Awareness. The following programs help to instill an understanding of how we can take better care of our environment.

Yes!
Focusing on inspiring change, this organization encourages innovative new ways to help the planet and its inhabitants to thrive. They go beyond environmental issues too!

EarthForce
A great website that focuses on cooperative efforts between children and their communities

Ecology
Fantastic multimedia resources and articles, including a special section for kids

Kids For A Clean Environment
A club with over 2000 chapters and 300,000 members worldwide

Children and Nature Network
This organization focuses on children as teachers and leaders

EarthPlay
Lots of fantastic games and activities

Kids for Saving Earth
Curriculum resources for parents and educators

(Courtesy of Amy Leask)

Past Issues

June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
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October 2016
September 2016
August 2016 (First Edition)

Warm Heart Anniversary
July 4th marks the 9th Anniversary of Warm Heart. We invite you to see where we started from and help us celebrate!