Snippets for 18 August 2022



Welcome to another fortnightly edition of SnippETS.


We start with some really important news, a first, and it’s huge. The US Senate has passed the US$739bn healthcare and climate bill, which allocates 369 billion dollars to combatting greenhouse gasses. The new technology this will enable, in the US and around the world, will have to have a massive impact on climate change. It was a close thing, and many tried to destroy the bill, but failed.


And another legislative opportunity - The UN are urging member states to adopt the Escazú Agreement, in which indigenous voices are being heard, protecting their environment and activities. Indigenous people have always cared for the environment, so enabling them now through legislation will help.


If back in the 80’s we had been more aware of the consequences of burning fossil fuels, things might be very different now. And it seems Shell Oil knew the consequences, but what did they do?


We have a couple of in-depth articles on grasses, which are very enlightening – protecting grasses, whether on land or in the sea, could help reduce emissions and other pollutants.


Ecocide – the term is explained in our next article, and an example of this is the controversial deep sea mining for some minerals used in renewable technologies. We look at whether this is an acceptable source of these minerals, and what is happening internationally in this space.


Would you become vegetarian if you didn’t have to think about doing so? Takeaways with this as the default option are now available in Austria.


Lastly, Seawalls can be useful, but are sometimes more destructive than useful. What can be done to stop their destructiveness?


Enjoy the reading.


US Senate Democrats passed their climate and healthcare spending package, sending the legislation to the House and bringing Joe Biden one step closer to a significant legislative victory ahead of crucial midterm elections in November. When signed into law, the bill, formally known as the Inflation Reduction Act, would allocate $369bn to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in renewable energy sources and reduce America’s emissions by about 40% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Read more....

And it nearly didn’t get there, especially given the bill’s almost miraculous resurrection: killed twice over by Joe Manchin before being passed at the last possible moment, with the thinnest possible Senate majority. As soon as Schumer announced the deal, much of corporate America mobilized to destroy it. The Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce penned letters and blanketed Arizona with ads, railing against its proposed 15% minimum corporate tax rate, and urging Kyrsten Sinema to vote no. But in the end it was passed. Just. Read more....

The first climate agreement to centre Indigenous voices is gaining international support. Known as the Escazú Agreement, it is the first instrument that includes provisions on the protection of human rights defenders in environmental matters. “In combating climate change, Indigenous people are mainstays. “This is not a fashion, not motivated by needs and trends on social networks, it’s our way of life. We value and respect all efforts to protect the planet. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues urged its member states to adopt it. Read more....

We all know that a main cause of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations is considered to be fossil fuel burning. According to a 1988 Shell report, Shell recognized the role it played in global warming. Much of the company’s climate research and dire findings have been proved correct. What is very disappointing is that the documents show that Shell was unwilling to position itself to address the risks it was grappling with internally, choosing the "bottom line" over the environment. Read more....

Preserving the world’s great expanses of grasses could be essential to combatting climate change. They now cover about one third of all land. But there is a battle between grasses and trees. Humans have played a part in choosing one over the other, often choosing trees in the belief that they were better for restoration purposes. Despite their apparent simplicity, grasslands are bastions of biodiversity. They support everything from large megafauna (think lions and elephants) to humble pollinators and rare wildflowers. This article talks in-depth about the underrated grasslands and their significant role in capturing carbon. Read more....

A 3 year seagrass restoration case study, similar to others around the world, is being launched in Nelson that could see the results benefiting the survival of the flowering marine plant across New Zealand. Why seagrass? Because they provide shelter and food to a diverse community of creatures and can capture carbon from the atmosphere up to 27 times faster than land forests. Read more....


Activists are calling for ecocide to be criminalised in the International Criminal Court (ICC), but what is Ecocide? In basic terms ecocide refers to the mass destruction of ecosystems, formally it is defined as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts”. At present, the ICC tries individuals for four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. Could ecocide become the fifth? Read more....

There is good reason to have ecocide added to the international criminal court. Deep-sea mining has been touted as a way to get minerals needed for renewable technologies such as electric cars. But at what cost? The destruction of ocean floor, and habitats destroyed, in the quest to go green. As negotiations around regulations continue, the chorus of scepticism grows, and rightly so. Read more....



Could switching the menu, to vegetarian by default, reduce meat consumption? When you order a burger, you usually expect a meat patty – but Burger King Austria has set out to change that. In July 2022, the company launched a campaign called ‘Normal or with meat?’, making plant-based alternatives the default. Could people’s eating habits be changed by a menu-default switch? It seems to be the case at Burger King Austria. But men still seem to be dragging their heels around the change. Read more....

Coastal communities around the world are fighting one of the most recognizable symptoms of climate change; seawater rise. To combat flooding, cities from Sydney to San Francisco have erected seawalls in a bid to prevent rising waters from overrunning infrastructure. But these seawalls can potentially make issues worse. But attaching 3D printed structures, designed specifically to mimic local marine habitats, to existing seawalls, can improve the situation markedly, and bring marine life back. Read more....










This week we have two innovation articles we hope you find interesting:






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