Snippets for 23 June 2022




Thanks for reading our Snippets newsletter this week. We have once again included a mixed selection of articles we hope you find interesting.


We start this week off by taking a look at the value of nature, how integrated it is with our existence, and why we should protect it. And there are a multitude of good reasons. One of the, perhaps surprising, driving institutions behind quantifying and analysing our relationship with nature and the potential risks that arise from that relationship, is the financial sector. With a real potential to influence lending behaviour, financial institutions are putting the magnifying glass over how those they lend money to interact with the environment.


Learning from nature and working with it, not against it, may lead to innovative changes to our infrastructure, such as how we deal with flood waters. By embracing a “slow water” philosophy and designing cities that work with the natural behaviour of water, there is optimism that we can avoid the catastrophic damage that comes with flooding.


Alongside working with nature, we must stop destroying and abusing it in the first place. The fossil fuel economy needs to be front and centre as world leaders gather in Stockholm to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the UN Conference on the Human Environment. World leaders not only need to confront the fossil fuel industry but also the plastic industry, and not buy into the myth that plastic recycling is a viable course of action for handling plastic pollution. Plastic is interwoven with our economy, but we can reduce our use of it and strive to find alternative materials.


Next, we take a look at another sector that can benefit from nature-based solutions: agriculture. Nitrogen is overused and threatens our environment, but it doesn’t have to be that way - we can farm without it. But we will struggle to farm much at all in the hotter, drier climates predicted for the very near future, which is why the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center is investing time, money, and effort into finding wheat species that will grow in such conditions. And if Good Meat has anything to say about it, the meat we eat in the future may not be raised on a farm at all - but grown in a lab.


Finally, we take a look at the biggest hitting policies from the New Zealand Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan.

In October 2022, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference COP 15 will be held in Kunming, China, to establish new goals for protecting Earth’s ecosystems and their biodiversity. This article discusses why biodiversity is critically important to preserve, because ecosystems provide many services that support human prosperity, health and well-being. There’s also a growing understanding that nature enriches our lives by providing opportunities for us to connect with each other and the places we care about. The bottom line is that we need to protect nature. Read more....

And increasingly investors are caring about saving the environment. It has been estimated that as much as $44 trillion of the world’s total economic output is dependent on species and ecosystems. Insects pollinate commercial crops, wetlands purify water, coral reefs and mangroves protect coastlines and all those services help fuel economic output. As our economy is embedded in nature, then the global decline of wildlife and ecosystems is a risk for companies and investors alike, with the WEF ranking biodiversity loss in the top three of risks to the economy. Read more....

Throughout the ages, the human species has always striven to contain and bend water to suit our needs. Increasingly as urban development has progressed, this desire to contain water has been driven through the use of large flood levees, bigger drains and longer aqueducts. With climate change meaning more extreme weather events, it is time to revisit this containment strategy and instead embrace water and work with it by modifying our cities and infrastructure to become spongier with more natural solutions instead. Read more....

Fossil fuels are choking our planet and destroying human lives. From plastics which have been found at the top of Mount Everest, to the war in Ukraine, to humans dying from air pollution directly, fossil fuels are harming us. As world leaders meet for the 50th anniversary of the UN Conference on the Human Environment, breaking our addiction to fossil fuels should be the top priority. Yet fossil fuels are conspicuously absent from the official concept note and agenda. Will they be addressed, or swept under the rug? Read more....


The plastic industry has taken a leaf out of the tobacco industry’s playbook to wage a decade-long campaign to prolong the myth that the material is recyclable. At a fundamental level, recycling is an effective way to conserve natural resources. The problem with recycling plastic lies not with the concept or the process, but with the material itself, as the several thousands different kinds of plastic, make recycling impossible. Read more....


Despite its poor recycling credentials, humans are heavily dependent on plastic. From packaging, to buildings, transport, furniture, appliances, TVs, carpets, phones, clothes, and countless other everyday objects. It has become an integral part of our lives. Now more than ever, even the thought of a world entirely without plastic is unrealistic and daunting. Yet that is precisely the thought this article explores. Read more....


Until the 1990s, New Zealand pastoral and arable farmers managed well without using nitrogen fertilisers, instead using clover to fix nitrogen naturally. In this opinion piece we are told why we must dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilisers now used in intensive farming, as they are poisoning our natural life support systems, and have huge climate impacts. While some processes for the production of nitrogen fertilisers are greener than others, these are fairly uneconomic, so are unlikely to take off. Read more....

We may not need nitrogen fertilisers, but the world does need wheat, and scientists are testing species from across the world to find those with heat and drought tolerant traits. For too long, monocultural crops that require fertiliser and water have been planted as their yields are huge compared to those before the “green revolution” of the mid 20th century. But the loss of diversity and the climate crisis do not mix well, and a solution must be found - varieties that can adapt to and thrive in unpredictable conditions. Read more....


Meat production is environmentally damaging and carbon intensive, but what if there was an alternative? Meat, grown in big bioreactors (up to 4 stories high!), could be the answer. US company Good Meat said its bioreactors could grow more than 13,000 tonnes of chicken and beef a year. Cells are taken from cell banks or eggs so the meat will not require the slaughter of any livestock. It is predicted by 2040, 60% of meat will be either grown in vats or replaced with plant-based alternatives. Read more....

We finish this week with a look at the NZ Government's carbon cutting policies and the five that will have the biggest impact. From bumping up the price to pollute - saving up to 3.5 million tonnes of CO2, through to the introduction of biofuel - saving an estimated 1.1 million tonnes of CO2. There is no one measure that will provide all the emission reductions we need, but this series of initiatives will greatly help reduce New Zealand’s carbon footprint. Read more....








This week we have a couple of innovative articles we hope you enjoy:






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