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Snippets for 12 August 2021

Welcome to our latest Snippets newsletter.

This issue of Snippets examines a process of evolvement and change in how our societies think and operate. We open with an article discussing how Blackrock, as the world’s largest asset manager with 9.3 trillion in managed funds, is using its considerable clout to make a positive impact in the realms of climate change, racial and gender equality. Calling out climate-laggards, it rejected the management of 319 companies for climate-related reasons in 2021, compared with 53 in 2020.

Other changes include how we are seeing a shift away from a throwaway culture, planned obsolescence and its associated environmental and social damage, into one centered around circularity, where items are made to be recycled, reused and with repair and upgrades being designed into the product from conception.

We also examine how questions are now being asked why we can limit advertising on things like tobacco and alcohol due to their health or social harm, but give items that are high in carbon, such as flights or large fossil fuel automobiles a free pass. And a significant source of GHG emissions (17%) is from shipping and logistics industries, often involved in making home deliveries. Moves are now afoot to get consumers to wait a few days more for delivery, allowing for consolidated shipping and reductions in packaging waste.

We also feature articles discussing how our role with nature is evolving. From encouraging the growth of wildflowers in berms and parks, to valuing the role that sea grass plays in keeping our oceans healthy, to understanding that vertical farming can be used to help farmers cut down on growing times and reduce waste, and to how Assisted Natural Regeneration shows much promise in allowing minimal human intervention to encourage natural re-growth of forests.

Also featured is the role of fungi in our environment and how fungal biodiversity determines plant biodiversity, ecosystem variability and productivity, with some claiming that the protection of fungi is essential to support planetary health.

Blackrock - the largest asset manager in the world with $9.3 trillion in managed funds, is using its considerable clout, to make a positive impact in the realms of climate change, racial and gender equality. By using its voting power to re-shape corporate governance, it is increasingly taking a more hands-on approach, by doubling the number of engagements with company executives on climate and natural capital and in 2021, rejecting the management of 319 companies for climate-related reasons, compared with 53 in 2020. Read more

Next up, we examine how our perception of value has changed over time. It has become dulled by our throwaway culture, planned obsolescence and the environmental and social damage, all in the name of consumption and GDP growth. This leads to the concept of why transitioning to a circular economy not only makes sense, but is necessary, where items are made to be recycled, reused and with repair and upgrades being designed into the product from conception. Read more

For many years laws have existed that limit or prohibit the advertising of products that can cause harm to health or social harm. Banning advertising for cigarettes and alcohol are examples of these laws. Since anthropogenic climate change, by all measures, is going to cause damage to health and social harm, surely we should restrict advertising for high carbon goods and services that put the habitability of our planet at risk. Of course, fossil fuel interests may not quite see it that way. Read more

When it comes to home deliveries, is it sustainable to expect same-day delivery? Whilst only too common these days, if quick, delivery may outwardly seem really efficient. But with shipping and logistics industries already accounting for 17% of global GHG emissions, reductions will be essential. If consumers were prepared to wait a few days, it would allow for consolidated shipping and reductions in packaging waste. Thankfully, changes in consumer awareness and changing business models now herald opportunities for a reduction in emissions. Read more

Another sector experiencing a reduction is from UK councils cutting back on their mowing of roadside berms or public common areas. What were once pristinely mowed lawns and park areas are now being allowed to run that little wilder, with surprising results. Wildflowers are now blooming that lay dormant in the soils for years. The proliferation of flowers in cities is an indication that people are starting to treat the biodiversity crisis seriously. As after all, flowers represent hope and celebration. Read more

The role of fungi is probably something most of us have never really given a second through to. Fungi play a big part in things such as soil health, and are responsible for sequestering up to 70% of plants’ carbon and holding it there indefinitely. Mycelium, the intricate root system that feeds growing fungi and cleanses the soil of toxins, has a big part to play to in its effectiveness. Furthermore, ninety percent of plants have a mutually beneficial relationship with fungi. Read more

Another area where people are re-establishing their relationship with nature, is seagrass. Used to help maintain healthy ocean ecosystems, seagrass was wiped out along the US east coast nearly 100 years ago, but a project helping it to be restored is showing success. Seagrass covers 0.2% of oceans, but is responsible for about 10% of oceans ability to store carbon, and is a vital habitat for marine life, boosts commercial fishing, purifies water, and traps/stores plastics. Read more

The relationship with nature is also aided by new moves in vertical farming. No longer is it just leafy greens that are propagated this way, now other seedlings, such as potatoes, strawberries, broccoli and celery, are being grown vertically. After a few short weeks these seedlings can be used by farmers, planting on traditional farmland, to speed up the whole production cycle. Overall, the practice is helping farmers cut down growing times and reduce waste. Read more

The Amazon area is in dire need of an improvement in the relationship between people and nature. Our final article this week looks at letting the forests restore themselves, with a bit of human intervention to eliminate barriers and threats to their growth – ‘Assisted Natural Regeneration’ (ANR). The article identifies five main advantages that ANR has over natural reforestation. As investors are increasingly interested in funding nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, assisted natural regeneration makes sense and is too good an opportunity to pass up. Read more

In our innovation section this week, we have more interesting recent ideas:

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