The Future of Climate Change: 5 Highlights of June 2021

July 2, 2021
Avely Pütsep

“Future of Climate Change” is a monthly series: we choose 5 beautiful things that shaped the future of climate action and ecosystem protection in the past month.

If it makes the world a better place, we want to talk about it.

News on halting biodiversity loss, reducing carbon footprints, becoming carbon neutral, cleantech innovations, climate change solutions, and everything in between. 🌿

Plus, there’s SO MUCH GOOD happening (you just have to notice it!), we just had to include a Biodiversity & Sustainability Bonus at the end.

June came with lots of good news, so… Shall we?

The #ShowYourStripes campaign sheds light on the effects of climate change

The time of people considering climate change a hoax is pretty much over.

Now, what people need is more tangible evidence on what exactly the changes brought on by the climate crisis are.

What’s the meaning of Show Your Stripes?

The ‘warming stripe’ graphics are circling the internet. They visually represent the change of temperature in each country over the past 100+ years. Each stripe represents an annual average temperature of that country.

This offers an accessible understanding of the reality of global temperature changes, which will hopefully guide people towards becoming carbon neutral.

For virtually every country, the stripes turn from mainly blue to mainly red in more recent years, illustrating a rise in average temperatures.

You can even buy a #ShowYourStripes face mask that has the stripes of how the temperature has risen globally. This can spark conversations on the importance of understanding global warming.

Talk about an easily understandable way to showcase climate change, right?

The #ShowYourStripes campaign brings light to the effects of climate change

Large amounts of carbon expected to be captured and stored by a carbon removal facility in Scotland

A large facility capable of removing huge amounts of carbon from the air is planned for Scotland. The DAC (Direct Air Capture) plan is a joint project between British and Canadian firms. This will massively cut air pollution while reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

It’s early days, but already the plans are to fly high (= reduce CO2 levels significantly).

The facility is thought to remove up to one million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, equivalent to 40 million trees. The extracted gas would be stored permanently deep under the Scottish sea.

If everything goes to plan, the facility could be operational by 2026.

Why Scotland?

Apparently, Scotland has significant advantages for this carbon removal technology:

  • abundant renewable energy sources
  • skilled workforce to build and operate the facility
  • carbon capture technology including pipelines under the sea to store the carbon

When asked about whether the fossil fuel companies are involved one of the developers answered: "I came out of the oil industry in 2007, largely because I was getting concerned about what the impact was. None of the emissions that we take out here will be used for extracting more hydrocarbons. That's not what our business now is about. We have nothing to do with producing hydrocarbons, period."

We sure hope it’s true - here’s to a carbon neutral future! 🌱

Pioneering research reveals remarkable resilience of sea life in the aftermath of mass extinctions

A new study paves way for a greater understanding of the impact climate change has on all life forms. This reveals how important it is to protect endangered marine animals.

Scientists analyzed tiny organisms (the size of a sand grain!) from the mass extinction that took place 66 million years ago. They found plankton could recover and resume their core function of offsetting carbon footprints more than twice as fast as they regained full biodiversity.

“These findings are hugely significant, given growing concern around the extinctions of species in response to dramatic environmental shifts,” commented the senior author.

This research shows marine ecosystems can start working again and endangered sea animals can continue to provide important functions for humans.

However: “Our research shows how long -- approximately 4 million years -- it can take for an ecosystem to fully recover after an extinction event. Given the human impact on current ecosystems, this should make us mindful.” said the lead author.

We agree, even though the ecosystems may start functioning again after extinction, it’s after a long time. Let’s be mindful of it. 💚

New study finds how much trees actually cool down cities

New study finds how much trees actually cool down cities

Researchers have long known about the connection between high temperatures and the urban island effect. However,  a new study is the first to calculate exactly how much the shaded areas from trees and buildings lower temperatures and reduce the “urban heat island” effect.

What is the “urban heat island” effect?

Heat islands are urbanized areas with hotter temperatures than outlying areas. Infrastructure absorbs and re-emits the sun’s heat more than forests and water bodies, causing temperatures to rise.

Trees are a carbon sink so they capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, thereby slowing a global temperature rise. But they also keep the Earth cool by providing shade.

What’s the new study about?

Researchers created a complex 3D digital model to see just how much trees and buildings in cities affect the temperature. From the data, they used statistical analysis to determine precisely how the shade cast by buildings and trees affected surface temperatures.

The results showed:

  • the importance of green spaces and water for lowering the average global temperature
  • that grassy areas, both shaded and exposed, provide significant heat-reducing effects
  • the more trees an area has, the lower the temperature

"We've long known that the shade of trees and buildings can provide cooling, but now we can more precisely measure exactly what that effect will be in specific instances, which can help us make better design choices and greening strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect," said the co-author of the study.

Beyond carbon sequestration and reducing carbon emissions, trees also keep spaces cool. Yet another reason why it’s so crucial to protect the greenery we have left, both in nature and cities. 🌱

Keystone XL pipeline project between the US and Canada stopped: nature and Indigenous communities protected

The Keystone XL project was halted after facing opposition from environmentalists, landowners, and Indigenous communities for years.

What is the Keystone XL project?

The Keystone XL Project would’ve been a 1947 km pipeline that stretched from Alberta in Canada to Nebraska in the USA. It would’ve shipped 830 000 barrels of oil every single day.

How did the people eventually defeat the Keystone XL Project?

Just hours after President Biden was inaugurated, he revoked the permit issued by Trump. Talk about taking action!

Just some of the happy comments on the decision:

“We’re hopeful that the Biden administration will continue to shift this country in the right direction by opposing fossil fuel projects that threaten our climate, our waters, and imperiled wildlife. Good riddance to Keystone XL!”

“From the Tar Sands to the Gulf — we stood hand-in-hand to protect the next seven generations of life, the water, and our communities. This is not the end – but merely the beginning of further victories. We know this in our hearts.”

Indigenous peoples and the nature around them can now breathe for a moment as their lands are safe. Combined with cleantech, this land can then act as a carbon offset to reverse warming trends.

PS: Biden also suspended Trump’s Arctic drilling leases, protecting nature and wildlife there (and really everywhere - all nature is connected).

New study shows elephants have personalities and use their personality to solve problems

Biodiversity & Sustainability Bonus

  • National Geographic announced Earth has a fifth ocean! The Southern Ocean is colder and less salty than other oceans. 
  • Edinburgh Airport is planning to build a solar farm next to its runway. This could provide 26% of the airport's energy needs, massively cutting its carbon footprint. It would be the first of its kind in the UK.
  • New study shows elephants have personalities and use them to solve problems.
  • Scientists use NASA satellite data to track ocean microplastics from space. Microplastics are harmful to marine organisms and ecosystems. It’s crucial to find ways to track and remove them.
  • New knowledge of Earth’s mantle help scientists explain Indonesia’s explosive volcanoes, possibly making our future safer.
  • A new study helps scientists mitigate the spread of future zoonotic and livestock diseases. More than 20,000 unknown associations between known viruses and susceptible mammalian species were investigated.
  • Passive rewilding could rapidly expand UK woodland through seed dispersal by birds, mammals, and wind. This can produce biodiverse and resilient woodland.
  • New breakthrough in helping conserve one of the UK’s most endangered species - the European water vole. It’s a part of the Darwin Tree of Life Project.
  • Estonia will be the first Baltic country to ban fur farming when the legislation comes into effect in January 2026.

On ending single-use plastic:

  • Chile bans single-use plastic, which will cut the country’s plastic waste by over 23 000 tons per year! 
  • Washington state is limiting the use of unnecessary single-use plastic!
  • First pioneers in beauty retailers are banning single-use plastic!
  • Germany bans male chick culling and will be the first country to do so by law. Let’s hope other countries will follow!
  • You can now get Barbie dolls made from recycled ocean-bound plastic by Mattel. What a way we’ve come!
  • EU Parliament overwhelmingly votes to end caged animal farming.
  • Animals to be formally recognized as sentient beings in the UK. Legislation will state that animals are capable of experiencing pain, joy, and other emotions.
  • South Australia adds 150 000 acres to protected areas, proclaiming a new national park (the size of Singapore!). The area has the oldest animal fossils on Earth and will also help protect native animals, including endangered species.  
  • The UN report “Becoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature and Climate” details the economic, environmental, and social rewards that restoration can bring. It also shows the state of degradation of the world’s ecosystems.

Single.Earth is on a mission to help preserve and restore existing ecosystems.

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