This week we’re highlighting 4 top stories: 3 carbon negative countries, 3D printed homes in Africa, union culture in Denmark and 5 ways that interest rates affect you.
As more of the world’s forests are destroyed, it makes you wonder: what’s going to absorb CO2 in their place?! In an ironic twist of fate, one of Earth’s “deadest” habitats might be our best hope for an ongoing supply of breathable air.
Called peatlands, these wetland environments are named for their tendency to accumulate decayed plant matter. Unlike most other ecosystems, like forests, where branches and leaves typically decompose in a matter of months… in peatlands, that plant material can stay intact for millenia. You see, peatlands mostly exist in high altitude places where temps are low and there’s not much water flow. This results in their having extremely low oxygen and high acidity levels.
These harsh conditions aren’t very hospitable to microbes and fungi, which are instrumental to the whole decomposition process. So without them around, the plant material sort of… just sits. Over time, that it globs together to form peat, a thick, spongy material that can soak up 20x its weight in water. Peat also soaks up loads of carbon. Through a process known as the Calvin cycle, living plants absorb CO2 from the air and convert it into organic molecules that they can then use as energy to grow.
Through decomposition, the carbon that’s “fixed” in a plant’s structure gets released but since peat doesn’t decompose, that carbon can stay put! It’s estimated that peatlands contain 550 gigatonnes of organic carbon, which is twice as much organic carbon as all the world’s forests combined. That’s absolutely wild, considering that forests cover about 30% of the world’s land area… and peatlands only account for 3%! Like most of the world’s habitats, peatlands aren’t immune to the threats of human development and exploitation.
Peat is also are a very in-demand resource. Its incredible water holding capacity makes it a favorite amongst horticulturists; If you’ve ever picked up a bag of soil amendment, chances are it’s full of the stuff. Since peat is also a fossil fuel with a long burn, it’s used in some parts of the world. Peatlands are also often drained to accommodate other land use activities, like agriculture.
Fossil fuels still supply about 80% of the world’s power. How can energy be produced and used more sustainably to meet climate targets? We answer your questions. film supported by @Infosys
Timeline: 00:00 – Why energy needs to become more sustainable 00:33 – How much energy should come from renewables? 01:19 – Why isn’t nuclear power used more widely? 02:19 – How can solar power be made more efficient? 03:34 – Will biofuels become widely used? 04:30 – Do electric vehicles make a difference? 05:10 – How heating and air conditioning can be more sustainable
Paraguay might be one of the world’s first countries to lose its rainforest because of a confluence of factors including inequality, corruption, drug trafficking, and climate change. The South American nation offers a stark warning for what the planet stands to lose if it doesn’t act to protect its natural resources.
Paraguay is a landlocked country between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, home to large swaths of swampland, subtropical forest and chaco, wildernesses comprising savanna and scrubland. The capital, Asunción, on the banks of the Paraguay River, is home to the grand Government Palace and the Museo del Barro, displaying pre-Columbian ceramics and ñandutí lacework, the latter available in many shops.
Bangladesh is struggling just to stay afloat. Literally: By 2050, it’s estimated that climate issues will displace one in seven of the country’s inhabitants.
This film takes the viewer on a journey through Bangladesh, exploring why overflowing rivers flood three-quarters of the country every year. We see how flooding threatens the country’s food security, how soil erosion thrusts thousands into homelessness, and how climate refugees are forced to flee their homes in a desperate act of survival.
Along the way, we meet communities adapting to rising sea climate change by growing food on water. This is a strategy which could prove very useful in the near future, as rising sea levels threaten to inundate 11% of the country’s land in the next 30 years.
This documentary brings us to the front lines of the battle against catastrophic climate change in Bangladesh. It also tells the stories of activists who are bringing the dangers posed by man-made threats to light.
Central America’s smallest country, El Salvador, is being increasingly battered by the effects of climate change – by drought, floods, and violent storms. The small organization CESTA has long been fighting for more environmental protection in its own country.
Space launch costs are dropping rapidly. Solar panels are cheaper than ever. Could space-based solar power soon be price-competitive with nuclear? Promoted as a zero-carbon solution, classified military space planes have also been conducting experiments into wireless power transmission. The FT’s Peggy Hollinger looks at whether space-based solar power can move beyond science fiction.
A visitor to the United Nations General Assembly has a message about climate change, telling us government-supported fossil fuel subsidies will prove disastrous to our species. The computer-animated Frankie the Dinosaur (voiced by actor Jack Black) stars in this message produced by the U.N. Development Program as part of its “Don’t Choose Extinction” campaign, timed to the COP-26 climate conference in Glasgow.