Snippets for 8 April 2021


This issue of Snippets examines our changing dietary habits and a shift away from traditionally farmed meat to plant-based alternatives. Which is significant, as the pressure we as consumers place on the need for cultivation is resulting in increased deforestation.


And protecting our environment is becoming more and more critical. It is also fiscally valuable, as leaving our wilderness untouched is of far greater value to humankind than as exploited real estate. The ability to value what nature contributes is also reinforced by the release, by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, of the protocol for measuring, monitoring, reporting and verification of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC). Increasing SOC content in soils enhances the overall health and fertility of soils, the resilience and sustainability of agriculture, as well as food security and nutrition.

Also featured this week is how important and productive small native forests can be, irrespective of their size, and how they can be big contributors to biodiversity and community. The aviation sector also features and how it is grappling with a need to reduce its emissions through a variety of measures, including fuel efficiency and using Sustainable Aviation Fuel.


We revisit the right to repair movement and note that the European Parliament is voting on requiring mandatory repairability scores for consumer electronics, amongst a host of other initiatives intended to extend products life spans.


We wrap up with the news that a refurbished cement plant near Whangarei has converted its process heat requirements from using coal, to burning used car tyres instead, saving about 13,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per annum and a landfill headache.


You may have heard of ‘Peak Oil’, but now experts are pointing to the probability of ‘Peak Meat’ by 2025 in high income regions such as Europe and North America. This would mean consumption of conventional meat will reach a peak and then begin to fall because of the rise of plant-based meat alternatives. The report forecasts that two-thirds of the alternative protein products in 2035 will be plant-based, a fifth produced by microbes, as Quorn is, and about 10% will be meat grown in bioreactors. Read more.....



It’s just as well foods with lower environmental impacts are rising in popularity because recent research has calculated that the average western consumer of coffee, chocolate, beef, palm oil and other commodities is responsible for the felling of four trees every year, many in wildlife-rich tropical forests. Overconsumption and insufficient environmental protection are the culprits and the idea that western consumers might plant four trees to compensate for their deforestation footprint is unfortunately flawed. “Cutting down a tropical rainforest cannot be compensated by planting a pine tree.” Read more.....




In 2019, the world’s tropical rain forests disappeared at a rate of one football pitch every six seconds. As part of the fight against deforestation one of the most challenging aspects is having access to high spatial and temporal resolution satellite imagery in order to monitor changes in land use. Now, a new initiative is offering universal access to this imagery of tropical regions which are home to some of the world’s most ecologically important and most threatened forests. Read more.....





British scientists have once again made the commercial case for conserving wilderness. They have demonstrated that in its pristine state − mangrove swamps, wetlands, savannahs, forests and so on − nature left alone is of more value to humankind than as exploited real estate. As Richard Bradbury stated “Stemming biodiversity loss is a vital goal in itself, but nature also fundamentally underpins human wellbeing and we need nature-related financial disclosure, and incentives for nature-focused land management, whether through taxes and regulation or subsidies for ecosystem services.” Read more.....



The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) has released a protocol for measuring, monitoring, reporting and verification of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC). Increasing SOC content in soils enhances the overall health and fertility of soils, the resilience and sustainability of agriculture, as well as food security and nutrition. This standardized methodology for SOC and GHG removals, will be welcomed by farmers as significant for advancing regenerative agriculture. Read more.....



Miniature urban forests are a fairly simple idea, gaining popularity across the world. Small localised protected native forest areas are a lot more resilient and diverse than mono-culture timber forests. The natives are perfectly adapted to the local climate and grow in harmony with each other requiring minimal intervention and mature quite rapidly into complex ecosystems. They grow quicker, absorb more CO2, and support largely increased biodiversity compared to exotic forests. They also have a whole host of benefits for people and the environment. Read more.....





Robust implementation of a carbon offsetting scheme could significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact, and its contribution to warming could be cut by 90 percent if decarbonization is aggressively pursued. Three things can be done to reduce aviation’s climate impact: - improve fuel efficiency; use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF); and (one we can all help with) fly less, or not at all. Longer term fixes such as hydrogen technologies and batteries won’t be the norm for a while yet. “The most sustainable flight is the one you don’t take”. Read more.....



We throw a lot of stuff away, sometimes because repairing it is too difficult or replacement parts are not available. That could be all about to change, and it needs to. Globally e-Waste alone is weighing in at 50 million tons per annum and only 20% is recycled. It’s estimated we are throwing away $57 billion in precious metals. That’s why the EU is looking at mandating repair options. This has the potential to create 345,000 jobs and reduce GHG emissions as the life of products is extended. Read more.....




There are a lot of cars on NZ’s roads which equates to 6 million car tyres being sent to landfill each year. An upgraded cement factory will now be burning these tyres at 1,400 degrees Celsius as part of their process heat requirements. Since February 2021, 250,000 tyres have been used this way. The ‘entyre’ process displaces coal and reduces GHG emissions at the cement works by 13,000 tonnes a year, with any residual steel and ash forming part of the concrete. Read more.....




In our innovation section this week, we have an article about improvements to rechargeable batteries, and another about creating hydrogen fuel while cleaning up wastewater

- New batteries give jolt to renewables, energy storage

- Double-duty catalyst generates hydrogen fuel while cleaning up wastewater















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