Snippets for 23 September 2021


Welcome to our latest Snippets newsletter.


This week, we start by looking at behavioural and dialogue changes needed to tackle climate change. Our first article dives straight into the stark reality: effective climate action requires more than just clean technology solutions - we need to substantially cut our energy hungry behaviours. Whilst technology alone can only take us so far, we’re discussing the costs of clean technology wrong. Though often expensive, when you look at the cost of different technologies over their lifetime, it is clean ones that are the cheaper option. Which is good news because our next article outlines clearly how we must leave the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground, if we wish to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets.


Leaving fossil fuels in the ground is exactly what Greenland is doing, as its new government decided to no longer issue permits for gas and oil exploration. However, there is more to look at beyond emissions. According to our next article, we must also invest in negative emissions. Though much of the technology is just budding, well established practices such as reforestation are good options to remove carbon from the atmosphere.


There is more to sustainability than just emissions though. Next we look at how tech giants Google and Facebook are having a positive impact on the water resources of their operational areas. Over in the Waikato it’s education which takes the climate action spotlight, as Waikato University creates the world’s first Bachelor of Climate Change degree.


Animals are also doing their bit for the environment. Sea otters play a pivotal role in ensuring luscious kelp growth, by keeping kelp-eating animal numbers down. With kelp’s massive carbon storage potential, otters could help us in absorbing millions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. We also look at how cows could do their bit - by being potty trained!


Finally, we have a feather in the cap for Wellingtonians, as the windy city comes out on top for environmental security.



We open this week with a brutal, but honest assessment of what’s required to rein in emissions. It won’t be through a quick transition to renewable energy, or through the large scale building and deploying of carbon-sucking machines to clear the atmosphere of CO2. We are addicted to having unparalleled amounts of fossil fuel energy and the only way we can solve our long-term climate change problems is if we dramatically reduce our energy use, but in ways that preserve human dignity, autonomy and solidarity. Read more....



Of course renewable generation still has a very important part to play on our energy transition journey, but as this next article discusses, too much narrative and focus is on the initial capital costs rather than the full life cycle costs. Traditional fossil fuel power plants are cheaper to build than wind and solar farms, but their operating and fuel costs make them more expensive throughout their lifetime. Same for electric over internal combustion vehicles. Read more....



And the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves owned today by countries and companies must remain in the ground if the climate crisis is to be ended. Research has found 90% of coal and 60% of oil and gas reserves cannot be extracted if there is to be even a 50% chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C. The forecast is bleak for the fossil fuel industry, implying that oil, gas and coal production must have already peaked and will decline at 3% a year from now. Read more....


When we hear people claiming that there will be benefits to climate change, it may conjure up images of holidays on the palm covered beaches of Norway when the rest of the planet is a barren wasteland. Greenland has said that they like their ice very much, told the fossil fuel industry to take a hike, and have sacrificed their independence from Denmark to do so. Read more....




The importance of “Negative Emissions” projects if we are to meet carbon reduction goals are discussed in this article, and it lays out a theoretical pathway for the growth of the industry. We are far off track in the development of negative emissions projects, but the author is optimistic that we can get there. Perhaps with a bit of moonshot thinking, we can crack this elusive goal! Read more....



Our environmental impact can be minimised by keeping fossil fuels in the ground and capturing emissions, but also by reducing water usage. Google and Facebook have pledged that they will commit to “water positive” goals, including using freshwater alternatives and restoring more water to ecosystems than they consume. That these giants are making these pledges is a wakeup call for the tech sector. The challenges and costs involved are huge, but so will the consequences be if the sector does not follow suit. Read more....



Big business awareness around environmental impacts and climate change is growing, and having well trained cross sector knowledge is imperative to enable implementation of any plans to move in the right direction. The new Bachelor of Climate Change degree at Waikato University, the first of its kind in the world, will educate people in a way such that scientists can speak with economists, social scientists, policy makers, and more. They will share a common, climate conscious language, which will enable them to come up with new thinking and solutions within the workplace. Read more....

In this article we take a look at how interrupting nature can have serious impacts. Sea otters,hungry animals with a diet of kelp-eating creatures, were hunted to the brink of extinction for their fur. The result: kelp forests declined. A useful carbon sink was gone and a habitat was lost for many sea creatures. Thanks to conservation efforts, otter numbers are on the rise and a balance is returning. Kelp survives, carbon is stored, and other sea creatures can flourish. Read more....



Cats and dogs can be potty trained, so why not cows? Cow urine contains ammonia - a chemical that soil bacteria convert to greenhouse gases. So researchers are trying to train cows to urinate in a designated area. Although in its early stages, tests are proving encouraging. Eleven of sixteen calves in the trial were successfully trained. Being able to collect this waste for treatment may enable us to slash emissions generated through cow urine by half. Read more....




We finish this week, with a look at the Safe Cities Index 2021, which ranked 60 cities across 76 indicators covering digital, health, infrastructure, personal and environmental security. Wellington City ranked first in the world for environmental security. Factors like a city’s plan for reducing carbon emissions, managing climate risks, and policies for improving and protecting the natural environment in urban areas contributed to the score. How did Wellington get here? Lots of hard work and good decisions, many made years ago - good things take time. Read more....




This week we have four varied innovation articles that we hope you enjoy:

  1. What are underwater farms? And how do they work?

  2. Kickstarting Australia’s green hydrogen economy

  3. Surging wind industry faces its own green dilemma: landfills

  4. Carbon-capturing Celour paint allows anyone to "participate in CO2 removal in their daily lives"







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