Categories
Planet Care Human Effort

86: Coral Regrowth

Problem:

Coral care has to take place locally.

Solution:

We wrote about some solutions for ccoral reefs in Solution #84 Here are some more.


Coral Vita, a coral reef restoration company set up 2015 in Washington, DC by Yale University grads Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern.

Using a process called micro-fragmentation pioneered by the Mote Marine Laboratory, Coral Vita uses a terrestrial farm in Palmas, USA, to grow coral. The system accelerates coral growth up to 50 times the natural rate or from decades to 6-18 months.

This is perfect for many coral species such as Brain or Great Star that serve as critical building blocks for reefs, but grow too slowly to be feasible for restoration projects using ocean-based nurseries. Coral Vita can grow these corals in months rather than decades.

In 2019, Coral Vita created the world’s coral regrowth farm in Grand Bahama, including electrical installation, plumbing and aquaculture tanks. The farm aims to restore the island’s corals reefs, featured in the Netflix film “Chasing Coral,” and provide restoration projects with hardier corals by working together with scientists, communities, coral farmers, businesses, investors and governments.

Although the initial plan is to grow about 10,000 corals per year and serve as an education and visitation center, the long-term goal is to be growing millions of corals every year, restoring reefs worldwide. (coralvita.com)

Tamil
From 2017, a team led by H. Malleshappa, head of the Tamil Nadu State Climate Change Cell have deployed a semi-circle of concrete artificial coral reef modules 820 ft (250 m) from the vulnerable Vaan Island in the Gulf of Munnar.

Each module is 8 ft (2.5 m) in width, 6.6 ft (2 m) in height and 3ft (1 m) in longitudinal length, and weighs 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) In the first two phases, 4,600 modules have been deployed in eight months. Following signs of regenerat, with the funding from Adaptation Fund, the total number of artificial reefs is being increased to 10,000 in two layers.

Florida
In 2019, scientists working on Project Coral at The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation in Apollo Beach in Tampa have spawned an Atlantic pillar coral in a lab setting. www.flaquarium.org

This is a world-first coral reef restoration and research advancement in which Atlantic coral, living for several years at the Center as part of a genetic archive, has been reproduced through induced spawning, setting a new stage for saving coral reefs in Florida and the Caribbean. Project Coral works in partnership with London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens to create coral spawn, or large egg deposits, in a lab.

London, UK
Jamie Craggs, aquarist at the Horniman Aquarium started Project Coral and in 2013 became the first organization globally to develop protocols that replicate natural reef conditions, and the triggers for mass spawning events, in the lab, to predict and induce land-based spawning in a fully closed aquarium lab setting in order to investigate, counter and repair the impact of climate change on coral reef health and reproduction.

The team started working on the research in 2014 with the Staghorn coral, but then the focus shifted to pillar coral because of a disease that has been devastating to the Florida Reef Tract. Pillar coral are now classified as almost extinct since the remaining male and female clusters are too far apart to reproduce. This conservation effort enables coral sexual reproduction to occur entirely outside of the ocean using innovative technology. It also opens up the potential for coral de-extinction.

Southampton
Researchers led by Prof Jörg Wiedenmann at The Coral Reef Laboratory of the University of Southhampton, England have discovered that in warming oceans when some corals, instead of bleaching white, suddenly display fluorescent coloring they are fighting to survive.(Southampton.ac.uk)

Korea

POSCO (Pohang Steel Company) in conjunction with the Research Institute of Science and Technology (RIST) and the Korean government have developed Triton, an artificial reef produced by steel slag, to create a healthy environment for marine life.

POSCO has supplied 1,418 units of Triton for marine forest projects such as artificial fish reefs executed by the government and municipalities. Triton is naturally made with high %ages of iron and calcium, which work to create the ideal conditions for seaweed and algae spore growth, and purifies contaminated sediment. These reefs can also help reef populations migrate to cooler waters. (poscoenc.com)

Mumbai
Siddharth Pillai, a teenage Class XI student from BD Somani School, Mumbai, India has found a way to make modular artificial reefs using 3D printing. He has named them after the late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington.

In early 2019, several porous Linkin Park blocks, a combination of dolomite and cement in a 10-90 per cent ratio, weighing 24 lb (11 kg) each, were dropped near Puducherry in the Laccadive Sea. This design is replicable as well as stackable, enabling reefs as high as 3ft (1 m) and as wide as 66 ft (20 m) on the ocean bed. (bdsomaniinternationalschool.com)

France
Another solution has been developed during 2019 by David Branthôme, director of the Limousin Aquarium, and the I.Ceram company in Limoges, France: coral cuttings are installed on a piece of alumina (a special ceramic). Since ceramic is neutral, it does not have the disadvantages of plastic or concrete supports. (aquariumdulimousion.com)

Hong Kong
Architects and scientists at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) have developed a novel method of repairing a coral reef in the nearby Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park – they have designed and 3D-printed 128 hexagonal clay tiles whose complex structures encourages coral attachment.

Israel
Maoz Fine and a team at Bar-Ilan University, together with the coral research lab at the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences on the Gulf of Aqaba in Eilat, Israel Israel having analysed why Red Sea corals are more resilient are investigating how their lessons could be used to influence coral reef health and resilience in the central Pacific Islands. (life-sciences.biu.ac.il)

Australia
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and its partners – including Southern Cross University – have also successfully pioneered a technique dubbed ‘coral IVF’ or larval reseeding. It is the first project of its kind to re-establish a population of juvenile corals from larvae settling directly on the reef in the hope the coral withstands the increasing threats to the reef. www.scu.edu.au

The team collects spawn from heat-tolerant corals that have survived bleaching, and rear millions of baby corals in specially designed tanks and coral nursery pools on the reef before delivering them onto target areas of damaged reefs to restore and repopulate them.

Divers use fine mesh nets to capture the microscopic eggs and sperm that float to the surface.The spawn is then placed in floating enclosures, designed by Professor Peter Harrison where they grow for up to a week before reseeding the baby corals (larvae) onto damaged reefs.

In another world first, robots are giving nature a helping hand by playing ‘stork” and delivering coral babies onto damaged reefs as part of the coral IVF technique. Known as LarvalBots, they are loaded with the coral larvae and cruise a LarvalBot trial just above the reef, spitting out the baby coral directly onto the targeted areas. a trial this year re-seeded an area of 3-hectares in just six hours.

What you can do: Adopt a coral at Coral Reef, join a coral conservation group or make a donation to their growing numbers.

Tomorrow’s solution: for bottles and buildings: cork

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Categories
Human Effort Materials

85: Eco-friendly Christmas trees

Problem:

Plastic Christmas trees, silver, white or green, made with petrochemicals, take centuries to break down in a landfill, as does metal coated wrapping paper.

Solution:

Real trees


Getting a live Christmas tree with the root ball attached is by far the most eco-friendly Christmas tree, because you can plant it out and watch it grow over the years

The Marldon Christmas Tree Farm on the edge of Paignton, Devon, England, selling half a million trees a year is just one example. The trees are all grown as organically as possible. Used trees and those that don’t make the grade are mulched and turned into compost – making the soil for future generations of trees.

Marldon is linked with a group that grows 10 million a year, all of them capturing carbon dioxide before finishing in homes.

Christmas over, many town councils offer a system for communal recycling and mulching.

As for the coloured lights on the tree, these can be LED, while the tinsel decorations can be made from bio-materials such as straw, bamboo, felt, wool, cardboard, then stored away until next Christmas.

As for the presents brown paper and hemp string can wrap up eco-friendly gifts, while food and drink can also be organically produced.

A Frugal Christmas can also be a Happy one!

What you can do: Make sure that your frugal Christmas is fun!

Tomorrow’s solution : Regrowing coral reefs.

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Categories
Human Effort Planet Care

84: Cooling Coral

Problem:

Bleached coral reefs are dying around the world due to ocean anthropogenic global warming.

Solution:

Bring down the temperatures of the waters around the reefs by bringing up cooler water from deeper in the ocean. The problem is finding a long enough pipe.


Mo Ehsani, the Centennial Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona has developed innovative solutions for infrastructure renewal and repair for over 30 years.

Having pioneered the field of repair and strengthening of structures using fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) products Ehsani left the full time academic world in 2010 to devote his time to the management of QuakeWrap, Inc., a company he founded in 1994.

His products have been used in the construction industry to repair high pressure pipelines, freeway underpasses, marine piles, historical structures and more.

One of these products, called StifPipe®, received the 2016 ASCE Innovation Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers as the world’s first green and sustainable pipe.

His game-changing technology for onsite-manufactured continuous pipe, called InfinitPipe, plays a significant part in the proposed coral reef bleaching answer through piping that is long enough to continually feed cooler water from nearby greater depths to the heat-stressed coral in the shallows.

The Seychelles is a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.​ In 2010 Nirmal Shah and a team of Reef Rescuers of  the Nature Seychelles set about restoring the coral bleaching within Cousin Island Special Reserve.

Utilising the ‘coral gardening’ concept, fragments of healthy coral were collected, raised in underwater nurseries and then transplanted onto a degraded reef. In eight years, 50,000 corals have been raised in underwater nurseries, of which over 24,000 were successfully transplanted, covering the area of a football field 5,600 ft² (5,225 m2).

Based on this experience, in December 2019, Nature Seychelles presented their toolkit to provide guidelines on how to complete a successful coral restoration project at the Reef Futures Symposium held in Key Largo, Florida. Six participating countries in the India Ocean, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and Rodrigues have benefitted from the solution.

What you can do: Make a donation to Nature Seychelles.

Tomorrow’s solution : Green Christmas trees, in more way than one

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Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

83: Biodegradable contraceptives

Problem:

Today’s world population is 7.6 billion, and the United Nations projects that by 2100, the world population will be 11.2 billion. Can the Earth’s resources feed this many people?

Solution:

Contraceptives.


Alongside ethical family planning, sterilisation and vasectomy, the contraceptive should be regarded as a planet-protecting measure. One solution is the condom, a sheath-shaped barrier device, used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.

Early contraceptives were biodegradable. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC) describes a vaginal plug of lint, ground acacia branches and honey. Condoms, made of silk, were not always effective.

The ancient condom was found in Lund, Sweden, and is believed to have been made and used around 1640 A.D. It is made from pig intestine, although before latex, condoms made of sheepskin or intestine were not uncommon. Condoms made of dried sheep intestines were used by Roman soldiers to protect themselves during long campaigns away from home.

Neither rubber condoms which became available in 1855, nor latex condoms since the 1920s are biodegradable. About six to nine billion are sold a year. New innovations continued to occur in the condom market, with the first polyurethane condom, branded Avanti and produced by the manufacturer of Durex, introduced in the 1990s.

With the advent of AIDS (Acquired Immune Defiency Syndrome), the protective condom as mass-produced by Durex became even more popular. Worldwide condom use is expected to continue to grow: one study predicted that developing nations would need 18.6 billion condoms by 2015.

Biodegradable, latex condoms damage the environment when disposed of improperly and they also contain preservatives and hardening agents to make sure the rubber can withstand a fair amount of friction, making it harder for the condoms to break down in the landfill.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, condoms, along with certain other types of trash, cover the coral reefs and smother sea grass and other bottom dwellers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency also has expressed concerns that many animals might mistake the litter for food.

The only biodegradable condom is made of a biological material, lambskin, made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb as used by the Romans, hence non-Vegan.

One such is the “Trojan”, a brand name of condoms and sexual lubricants manufactured by the Church & Dwight Company of Ewing Township, New Jersey. Although biodegradable it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. (churchdwight.com)

There are other methods. In 1951, the oral contraceptive pill was invented by Gregory G. Pincus and Min Chuch Chang, biologists at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Research, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, in collaboration with Dr John Rock, obstetrician-gynaecologist of the Brookline Reproductive Clinic, Boston and again in collaboration with Dr Carl Djerassi of the Syntax Corporation, Mexico, who discovered the progestogenic agent, 19-Norsteroids. The US Food and Drug Administration approved “the pill” for public use in 1961, after extensive trials in Puerto Rico and Haiti.

The downside are the hormones in the pill, either progestin or a combination of progestin and synthetic estrogen, known as endocrine disruptors: women who take the pill end up passing some of them through their urine.

If they make it through the wastewater systems, the hormones can flush into rivers and streams altering fish reproductive systems and damaging ecosystem dynamics. The minipill is only made with progestin, a man-made form of the hormone progesterone made by the body.

Then there is the intrauterine device (IUD). During the late 1950s these were made of plastic with a nylon string. U.S. physician Howard Tatum’s innovation of the copper IUD in the 1960s brought with it the capital ‘T’ shaped design used by most modern IUDs. Together, Tatum and Chilean physician Jaime Zipper discovered that copper could be an effective spermicide and developed the first copper IUD, TCu200.

Not only does this contraceptive have incredible 99-plus % effectiveness, but it also requires just one small plastic T—either wrapped in copper or holding synthetic progesterone hormone—to prevent pregnancies for 3 to 12 years.

Physical waste is nearly nonexistent. Copper IUDs use up less than one tenth of an ounce (0.3 gm) of copper. Hormonal IUDs release small quantities of synthetic progesterone directly into the uterus, meaning that most of the hormone stays exactly where it is needed. In short, for the Planet, IUDs are the lesser of the three evils.

What you can do: When family planning, think carefully of your SOLUTION for our crowding Planet.

Tomorrow’s Solution: cooling down the coral reefs

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

78: Human-based compost

Problem:

When people die, usually one of two things happens to their bodies: either they are buried below ground in caskets, or they are cremated, reduced to bone fragments by intense heat.

Cemeteries take up space and crematoria emit carbon dioxide. Both cremation and conventional burial leave just over a metric ton of carbon per body.

Solution:

Naturally composting human cadavers


Zoroastrians had a different approach: to preclude the pollution of earth or fire, the bodies of the dead were placed atop a tower and so exposed to the sun and to birds of prey.

The roof was divided into three concentric rings: The bodies of men are arranged around the outer ring, women in the second circle, and children in the innermost ring.

Once the bones had been bleached by the sun and wind, which can take as long as a year, they were collected in an ossuary pit at the center of the tower, where they gradually disintegrate and the remaining material, with run-off rainwater, ran through multiple coal and sand filters before being eventually washed out to sea.

White Eagle Memorial Preserve (WEMP) in Klickitat County, Washington was founded in 2008 so people could be buried in natural surroundings without embalming, caskets or headstones. It is certified as a Conservation Burial Ground by the Green Burial Council, a national non-profit certifying body.

WEMP spans 20 acres (8 ha) set within 1138 acres (461 ha) of permanently protected oak and ponderosa forest, meadow and steppe on the edge of spectacular Rock Creek Canyon near the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Deer, coyote, cougar, eagles, wild turkeys, steelhead in the canyon creek, western grey squirrels, rattlesnakes, the occasional bear or lynx live and die freely.

Paris has opened its first green cemetery at Ivry-sur-Seine. Part of the already-existing cemetery has been dedicated to eco-friendly burials, meaning that Parisians concerned about the lasting ecological impact of their funerals can now rest in peace.

The cemetery will do away with gravestones, replacing them with wooden markers that the city of Paris has said it will replace every ten years. Coffins and urns must be made out of biodegradable materials, either cardboard or unvarnished local wood, and bodies must be clothed in natural biodegradable fibres. They cannot, of course, be embalmed with formaldehyde.

Katrina Spade was studying architecture when she learned about livestock composting and wondered if the some practice could be applied for humans.

She earned a BA in anthropology from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, then turned her focus to sustainable design while attending Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. At Yestermorrow, Spade helped to build a Pain Mound – a compost-based bioenergy system invented by Jean Pain that can produce heat for up to 18 months.

She first drafted her plans for a ‘human composting’ facility in 2012 while earning her Master’s degree in architecture and design, which she completed in 2013. In 2014, she was awarded a climate fellowship from the Echoing Green Foundation.

This enabled her to start a 501c3 nonprofit called the Urban Death Project involving an urban crematorium (bodies go in, remains come out), but using the slower, less carbon-intensive means of “organic reduction,” or composting. Spade alternately describes this process as “cremation by carbon.”

To research the process of cadaver decomposition into soil, Spade collaborated with Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a Professor of Sustainable and Organic Agriculture at Washington State University. They developed a carbon-and nitrogen-heavy mixture of wood chips, alfalfa and straw.

They found that natural organic reduction turns bodies into two wheelbarrows full of soil within 30 days. In 2017, Spade closed the nonprofit and started Recompose in Seattle, Washington, as a public-benefit corporation. In 2018 she was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship

In November 2018, Washington State Senator Jamie Pedersen pre-filed a bill to legalize this human composting, also known as “recomposition.” This law, passed on Tuesday May 21, 2019, made Washington the first state in the United States to allow the practice. The Act also legalized alkaline hydrolysis, the dissolving of bodies in a pressurized vessel with water and potassium hydroxide, or lye, a process which is already legal in 16 states.

Recompose estimates that one metric ton of CO2 is saved for every person who opts to compost a body instead of burning it. This is equivalent to taking a gas-powered car off the road for about three months.

Spade should start composting by 2021 hosting 750 bodies annually, 20 to 25 at a time. Spiritually and emotionally, there are those who are against this system. They are happy to have their ashes scattered, but do not wish to use the compost of a loved one to improve plant growth. (recompose.life)

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Bob Hendrikx and a team at the Delft University of Technology have developed a living coffin made from mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi that takes the form of a mass network of white filaments referred to as hyphae.

The Living Cocoon helps the body to ‘compost’ more efficiently, removes toxic substances, and produces richer conditions in which to grow (new) trees and plants. The first funeral with a mycelium-based coffin took place in September 2020.

What you can do: When you die, consider leaving the lowest carbon mortal footprint possible

Discover Solution 79: eco-friendly concrete.

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Human Effort Materials Planet Care

76: The cocoon that protects young trees

Problem:

Reforestation must also take place in arid and degraded land and saplings must be protected during the first months of their life.

Solution:

A biodegradable cardboard donut to protect tree seedlings.


In 2013 Arnout Asjes, Harrie Lövensteain, an arid land agronomist, and Jurriaan Ruys at the Land Life Company in Amsterdam had an innovative idea: to develop a system that enables trees to grow in arid and degraded land.

This is a 100% they call the cocoon which can hold 6.6 gallons (25 liters) of water underground to aid a seedling’s first critical year. Plantation is mapped using an AI database on land conditions.

In Matamorisca, Land Life intervened in 42 acres (17 ha) of barren land owned by the regional government and peppered them with Cocoons. Around 16,000 oaks, ashes, walnuts, rowans, and whitebeams were planted in May 2018, and the company reports that 96% of them survived that year’s scorching summer without extra irrigation, a critical mi.tone for a young tree.

The three-year-old startup recently raised US$2.6 million to expand its mission to reforest the world’s 865 million acres (2 billion ha) of degraded land. By 2030, the goal is to reach 350 million has – 20% more land than India

What you can do: If you are planning to plant trees in arid areas, check out Cocoons from the Land Life Company.

Discover Solution 77: scarves dyed with bacteria

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Planet Care Human Effort Your Home

71: Citizen Convention for Climate (CCC)

Problem:

How to get politicians to take action on climate change?

Solution:

Citizen Conventions


In November, 150 French citizens, male and female, were drawn by lot and given eight months to discuss and form their solutions for the Planet.

On Sunday June 21, 2020, La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (CCC) presented French President Emmanuel Macron with nearly one hundred proposals around five axes relating to the fight against global warming: produce and work, shelter, feed, move, consume.

Objective: a reduction of “at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030”. These include making energy renovation of 20 million buildings compulsory by 2040, quadrupling the amount of the bicycle fund to 200 million Euros per year, which would finance bicycle paths, increasing the bonus for hybrid and electric cars by 25%, the deployment of short food circuits, and the curbing of overconsumption.

In response, the President pledged an additional €15 billion ($16.9 billion) to help address the issue, although not all the solutions have been adopted

On a European Union level, the month before, Pascal Canfin, chairman of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament, proposed an alliance for a green recovery.

This movement, which brings together together 80 ministers, MEPs, CEOs, NGOs & Trade Unions joined by around thirty CEOs (Ikea, Unilever, Danone, Saint-Gobain, H & M, etc.) In her Green Deal, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen promised a “green, digital and resilient future”.

What you can do: Join or create a citizen’s convention in your country

Discover Solution 72: eco-friendly sandblasting

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Mobility Human Effort

67: Carpooling

Problem:

Four to six-seater privately owned automobiles are seldom full, creating massive traffic holdups and emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gas.

Solution:

Carpooling or ridesharing consists of a private vehicle owner sharing their ride with others.


It first became prominent in the United States as a rationing tactic during World War II. It returned in the mid-1970s due to the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis. It was also known as “hitch-hiking”.

At that time the first employee vanpools were organized at Chrysler and 3M. Recently, however, The Commuter Benefit system linked to the Internet has facilitated growth for carpooling and the commute share mode has grown to 10.7% in 2005.

In 2007 with the advent of smart phones and commercially available GPS, computer programmers John Zimmer and Logan Green, from Cornell University and the University of California, Santa Barbara respectively, rediscovered and created carpooling system called Zimride.

This was a precursor to Lyft launched in the summer of 2012 which operates in 640 cities in the United States and 9 cities in Canada. It develops, markets, and operates the Lyft mobile app, offering car rides, scooters, and a bicycle-sharing system.

In China, since Didi Chuxing set up a carpooling service called Hitch in Beijing, Harbin, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Changzhou, Shenyang and Nantong, it has clocked more than a billion rides of trips less than 31 mi. (50 km.) in metro areas between 5am and 8pm for female users. Male users can enjoy the service till 11pm.

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, provided social distancing and mask wearing are observed, carpooling, hand-in-hand with public transport systems, will remain most effective when all the vehicles involved are zero emission electric.

Tomorrow’s solution: biodegradable cell phones

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Mobility Human Effort

57: Electric buses are leading the EV revolution

Problem:

The three million diesel-engined buses circulating in the world, account for nearly half of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than two-thirds of all particulate matter (PM) emissions from US transportation sources.

Solution:

Electric buses.


In 2018, there were about 425,000 electric buses in service in the world’s cities. Almost all—99 % of them—were in China. Arguably the first commercial li-ion electric bus was developed by Mr Lu Guanqiu at the Wanxiang Electric Vehicle Company (WXEV).

The company traces its origins to the creation of a repair shop for agricultural machinery in 1969 in the people’s commune Ningwei. In 1979, a factory for agricultural machinery was created.

Then in 2000, WXEV bought a li-ion battery company and three years later they were running a prototype li-ion bus on Route Y9 around West Lake, Hangzhou City.

By 2009, a fleet of these had clocked up 350,000 mi. (560,000 km) on this route and WXEV had delivered buses to major cities in China, including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, Nanchang, etc.

They also supplied 100% electric buses to the 16th Asian Games, held in Guangzhou in 2010 while at the Shanghai Expo 2010, Wanxiang deployed 160 buses, each with 65 seats and 300 batteries, on two 8.6 mi (14km) long lines, each capable of a range of 50 mi. (80km). The additional batteries were charged in a hall and changed by robots in 6 minutes.

There will be 1.5 million electric buses in use worldwide by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency Europe.

Every five weeks, 9,500 brand new electric buses take to the roads in China: that is the equivalent of the entire London bus fleet. A number of cities in the Europe’s Nordic region such as Oslo, Trondheim and Gothenburg also have electric buses in operation. Only 1.6% of all city buses in Europe are electric. In the US, it is only about 0.5%.

Alongside the biggest manufacturer, BYD (75,000 units), other electric bus manufactures include

What you can do: Ride regularly in an electric bus

Discover Solution 58: biofuel from prickly pears

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Planet Care Human Effort Materials

55: Plastic fishing tall ship

Problem:

Plastic waste in the ocean is breaking down into irretrievable microplastic.

Solution:

A ship to study how this is happening, picking up the waste and taking it back to port.


In 1979 Mary T. Crowley founded Ocean Voyages, an international yacht chartering business that offers a full range of services, including educational sailing program., sailing vessels, expedition ships, motor yachts and scuba and snorkeling program all over the world.

She also started the Ocean Voyages Institute at the same time, a nonprofit organization with a mission of preserving the maritime arts and sciences, the ocean environment and island culture.

In 2008, Crowley founded Project Kaisei, bringing together a team of innovators, scientists, environmentalists, ocean lovers, sailors, and sports enthusiasts with a common purpose: to study the North Pacific Gyre and the marine debris that has collected in this oceanic region, to determine how to capture the debris and to study the possible retrieval and processing techniques that could potentially be employed to detoxify and recycle these materials into diesel fuel.

Their first research expedition in the summer of 2009, on board a 140ft (43m) sailing brigantine S/V Kaisei, was critical to understanding the logistics that would be needed to launch future clean-up operations and testing existing technologies that had never been utilized under oceanic conditions.

From 2011, sometimes twice a year, Mary Crowley and volunteers from the Ocean Voyages Institute have voyaged out on S/V Kaisei from Hawaii to clean up trash floating in the ocean.

During June 2019, the brigantine’s crane pulled out 40 tons (36 metric tons) of abandoned fishing nets as part of an effort to rid the waters of the nets that entangle whales, turtles and fish and damage coral reefs.

The cargo ship returned to Honolulu, where 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) of plastic trash were separated from the haul of fishing nets and donated to local artists to transform into artwork to educate people about ocean plastic pollution.

The rest of the refuse was turned over to a zero emissions energy plant to incinerate it and turn it into energy,

What you can do: Pick up plastic waste near you, keep our Planet Tidy!

Discover Solution 56: Buildings made with organic materials

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Energy Human Effort Materials

54: Turning beer bottles into building sand

Problem:

Bottles thrown away can end up in landfills or in Nature.

Solution:

In 2017, DB Breweries in New Zealand built a machine which pulverizes glass bottles then turns them into fine-grain substitute building sand in just 5 seconds.


Two thirds of the world’s beaches are retreating as people across the world use non-renewable beach sand for construction, roading and other uses. There were even some beaches in New Zealand where they were taking the sand off one beach and putting it on another beach, which seemed crazy to DB.

All a drinker needs to do is deposit his or her bottle in the machine, a laser triggers a wheel of small steel hammers spinning at 2,800 rpm to crush it into 7 oz. (200 gm.) of sand in only five seconds. After extracting the plastic labels and silica with two vacuum systems, the sand is then processed through a screener which sorts it into a fine grades between 1.1 – 0.4mm particle sizes.

In several months, a fleet of these machines recycled 100 tons of sand, which is the equivalent of 500,000 DB Export Bottles. Until recently about 11,000 ton (10,000 tonnes)of glass at Visy Recycling in Auckland could not be recycled, so, rather than have it diverted to landfill, it now goes into the industrial beer bottle sand machine.

The resulting sand substitute was then given to their construction and retail partners to use in place of beach sand. Finding partners for the program was a critical step in achieving scale for the project.

The brewer has finalized a two-year deal to supply Solution 54 in a 1-a-day series of 366 creative, hopeful ideas to clean up, repair, protect our planet: the company now delivers DB Export Beer Bottle Sand to #DryMix to make a super easy eco concrete Solution 54 in a 1-a-day series of 366 creative, hopeful ideas to clean up, repair, protect our planet: the company now delivers DB Export Beer Bottle Sand to #DryMix to make a super easy eco concrete , leading to a new brand of eco-concrete, sold to consumers through the country’s biggest home improvement chain.

Beer Bottle sand is now used by Downer in road-making projects, commercial and residential construction, and even golf bunkers and resurfacing projects, and Drymix, which has created a ‘‘super easy eco concrete’’, available through Mitre10.

In 2018, DB Export’s beer bottle sand was combined with recycled ink toner cartridges to make an aggregate for resurfacing the 430,000 ft² (40,000m²) Queenstown Airport apron, the first project of its kind. Requests for machines arrived from as far away as Dubai, with scoping to supply 500 machines currently underway. DB’s trucks carry the slogan “Drink DB Export. Save Our Beaches.” (db.co.nz)

Norway

From May 1999, Norsk Resirk launched a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and aluminum beverage cans which has led to 97% of all plastic drinks bottles in Norway being recycled, 92% to such a high standard that they are turned back into drinks bottles.

Norway’s model is based on a loan scheme, which means when a consumer buys a plastic bottle, they are charged a small additional fee equivalent to about 13 to 30 US cents.

The scheme is open to all consumers who can either take a bottle or can to a reverse vending machine which returns the money after scanning the verifiable barcode of the deposited bottle, or they can return it to various small shops and gas stations for cash or store credit.

These shop owners also receive a small fee for each bottle they recycle, and some argue it has even increased their business.

Three processing plants were opened to receive the bottles, one in Fetsund outside Oslo to handle approximately 80% of what is collected in Norway.

First step in the process is sorting out the aluminum and steel cans. Next step is sorting out clear and light blue bottles. Then follow the colored bottles. Some of the material has been recycled more than 50 times.

The company is now called Infinitum. All the materials are then structured into ballots and sent further for recycling: metals go to the company Norsk Hydro in Holmestrand, Norway; PET bottles are sent to Cleanaway AB in Sweden.

Nevertheless, even in Norway, there is still room for improvement. During the year, Infinitum estimates that 150,000 bottles will not be returned, and if they had, it would have saved enough energy to power 5,600 households for the year.

The same system is now being used in neighbouring Sweden, Denmark, and Germany and a number of US and Canadian states.

There are ten states in the United States with container deposit legislation, popularly called “bottle bills” after the Oregon Bottle Bill (established since 1971), the first such legislation that was passed. Container deposit legislation (CDL) also known as a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) was first implemented in South Australia in 1977 and has since been extended all over that continent.

Tomorrow’s solution: Kaisei, the ship that goes plastic fishing

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Materials Human Effort Planet Care

50: Rocket high speed composting machine

Solution 49 in a 1-a-day series of 366 creative, hopeful ideas to clean up, repair, protect our planet:

Problem:

The conventional composting of biowaste is slow.

Solution:

The Rocket high-speed composting machine.


In the early 1990s, John Webb of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, wanting to speed up the composting process on his smallholding, developed a machine that could treat his garden waste and horse manure and turn it into highly nutritious compost in just 14 days.

Working closely with DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) after the 2001 foot and mouth crisis, Webb and his son Simon continued to develop the machine to ensure it was fully compliant with the Animal By-Products Regulations to safely treat other organic wastes, including food waste.

They founded Tidy Planet to build and commercialise a machine they called the Rocket.

It comprises a continual flow system with waste being mixed with dry woodchip for compost production. The capacity of the electrically-powered Rocket range of machines goes from 154 gallons (700 liters) up to 3.9 tons (3.5 tonnes) per day.
France

Tidy Planet expanded its globally-acclaimed range of Rocket composters, with the creation of the B1400, a machine specially-commissioned for its French distributor: Alexandre Guilluy and Fabien Kenzo of Les Alchimistes needed equipment that would process up to two tonnes of a mix of food and shredded wood wastes every day – in line with the site’s waste processing threshold.

Les Alchimistes have a fleet of trailer bicycles and small vans which go around Paris collecting food waste from supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels across the French capital.

This is assembled at Lil’O known locally as L’Île-Saint-Denis an island in the River Seine, 6 mi (10km) north of The Eiffel Tower where it is turned into compost, to be sold to urban agriculture and gardening.

Due to the project’s resounding success, Les Alchimistes has received support from the French Government and EU funding to set up similar food waste collection centres in Lyon, Toulouse, Toulon, and Marseille, each of them using Tidy Planet’s B1400 Rocket. Les Détritivores based at the Ecosytème Darwin in Bordeaux are carrying out a similar operation.

China

In China, another solution dealing with food waste is to feed it to cockroaches (Blattodea) which then become either feed for livestock or for curing oral and peptic ulcers, skin wounds and even stomach cancer. At one farm, run by Li Yanrong in the Zhangqiu District, over 1 billion cockroaches are consuming some 55 tons (50 tonnes) of kitchen waste every day.

Elsewhere in Sichuan, a company called Gooddoctor is rearing 6 billion cockroaches, while Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Co., in Jinan plans to set up three more such plants, aiming to process a third of the kitchen waste produced by Jinan, home to about seven million people.

What you can do: Tell local authorities about advances of Rocket composters in large towns.

Discover solution 51: The miracle of birdsafe window panes

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Human Effort Planet Care

34: Billion Tree Tsunami

Problem:

Pakistan has lost large swaths of forest to decades of felling, which makes it vulnerable to deadly flooding and landslides.

Solution:


In 2014, Muhammad Tehmasip and a team from the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa launched Plant for Pakistan (Plant4Pakistan) and set about planting of 1 billon trees over five years. The Billion Tree Tsunami, as it is now known, reached its goal in August 2017.

On September 3, 2018, after becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan launched a 5-year, country-wide 10 billion tree plantation drive from Makhniyal, KPK to combat the effects of AGW. This is part of the even greater initiative launched by the IUCN to restore 370 million ac (150 million ha) of degraded and deforested land worldwide by 2020, and 865 million ac (350 million ha) by 2030.

Discover solution 35: Buildings that absorb CO2

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Mobility Human Effort Materials Your Home

33: Muzzicycles

Problem:

Bicycles are the most energy efficient form of transportation in the world, but the manufacturing of metal frames and components is energy and carbon intensive.

Solution:

The Muzzicycle. A bicycle made of recycled plastic to replace at least some of the 2 billion in the world that are made of steel and  aluminium.


In 1998, Juan Muzzi, a Uruguayan artist and mechanical engineer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil began research into PET and nylon materials including plastic bottles, shampoo containers, car dashboards and kitchen trash cans as a source of raw material, to make a plastic bicycle. It would not rust, be sturdier, more flexible and cheaper.

By 2008, Muzzi had found a way to integrate his molded frames with wheels, mudguards, pedals and seats, but it took four further years of testing to market the product to secure the seal of quality from INMETRO (Brazil’s National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality).

By then a plant had been built which could take in 17,000 tons (15,400 tonnes) of recycled plastic every year using it to produce 10,000 Muzzicycles per month in every colour of the rainbow.

With 200 plastic bottles going into each frame, the process uses far less energy than is required for making traditional metal frames, saving well over 5 tons (4.5 tonnes) of CO₂ emissions, although a steel bicycle frame will lasdt a lifetime.

In 2020, Do Bem, manufacturer of fruit juice made a promise to remove from the environment 100% of the amount of long-life cartons that it produces per year, approximately 44 million.

This has included the donation of 20 Muzzicycles to four ngos in Rio de Janeiro: “Champion Hug”, “Maré Development Network”, “Irmãos Kennedy Community Center” and “Yes, I am from the Middle”.

Additionally, while working with Teto and Ecolar, the polyaluminium used to line Do Bem’s fruit juice cartons would be recycled into glasses, tiles and floors – the last two items will be used in the construction of sustainable housing organizations.

The production of a tile, for example, takes 500 boxes. Each house has 20 square meters and is made with 63 sheets and 16 recycled tiles, which requires about 40,000 cartons

In 2012 after discovering the Muzzicycle, Juan Carlos Seguro of Medellin, Colombia set up Eco Muévete Seguro making and marketing his bikes as Re-ciclas, or Re-cycles. Seguro then partnered with a local recycling firm, Kaptar, which operates a network of bottle collecting machines that link to smartphone applications.

Bottle collectors, by depositing bottles in the machine, earn points that can be spent on benefits such as subway tokens and movie passes. Kaptar’s machines take in 2,000 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles every day.

Now there is a waiting list of at least 2,500 people to buy a recycled frame bike that is custom made in Sao Paulo. Juan Muzzi is now planning to manufacture recycled child’s bikes and plastic wheelchairs.

Discover solution 34: the billion tree tsunami

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

32: Bread into beer

Problem:

44% in bakeries, delicatessens and supermarkets. When it is deemed stale and can’t be sold it is simply thrown away.

Solution:

Turn uneaten, ready-to-be-thrown-into-the-dumpster bread into ‘can-I-please-have-a-pint’ craft beer.


Tristam Stuart, the founder of Feedback based in London, England campaigns against food waste.

In December 2009, he launched a food waste campaign by organising “Feeding the 5000” in London’s Trafalgar Square in which 5,000 people were served free curry, smoothies and fresh groceries from cast off vegetables and other food that otherwise would have been wasted.

Tristam heard about a brewery in Belgium which uses discarded bread to make craft ale. There is nothing new about this process. Kvass (from rye bread) although typically not strongly alcoholic has been around in Russia, Ukraine etc. for at least 5 centuries.

After refining the recipe with Hackney Brewery in London, Stuart then contracted with Hambleton Ales in North Yorkshire to produce it in quantities.

In 2016, Tristam began selling Toast Ale at London restaurants, online and through a growing number of distributors. Using roughly one slice per ½ UK pint (284 ml) bottle, his team of three recycled 3.6 tons (3.3 tonnes) of bread in the first 15 months.

The beer is made when surplus bread is sliced and mashed to make breadcrumbs, then toasted and brewed with malted barley, hops and yeast to make a quality pale ale with a distinctive taste of caramel notes that balance the bitter hops, giving a malty taste similar to amber ales.

All profits go straight to Feedback. Toast Ale subsequently expanded nationally in the UK, and internationally to the USA, South Africa, Brazil, Iceland and Sweden.

It also open-sources a recipe for homebrewers. The company has received global press coverage and won 11 industry awards, while Tristam Stuart was named at the World Economic Forum in Davos as one of 30 leaders to inspire ambition and mobilise action to reduce food loss and waste globally. Cans of Toast Ale bear the slogan “Here’s to Change” and describes the contents as among other terms “tropical” and “zesty”, “planet-saving. ” (toastale.com)

Discover solution 33: the Muzzicycle

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31: Beach-cleaning machines

Problem:

Beaches all over the world are littered with plastics and other garbage and detritus from local sources and from washing up on the shore from sources thousands of miles away.

Solutions:

Efficient beach cleaners that can gather this material and transport it to properly regulated waste and recycling facilities.

In the early 1960s, Harold S. Barber of Naugatuck, Connecticut explored the idea of building a raking prototype to clean beaches of unwanted seaweed, cigarettes, glass, shells, coral, stones, rocks, sticks, and man-made debris including plastic from wet and dry sand with ease. He named the unit the SURF RAKE Model 500.

Mr. Barber’s novel invention quickly proved to be the most effective tool for the emerging beach cleaning industry in the United States. Since then, Barber has sold more beach cleaners around the world than any other brand, being used on six continents and in over 90 countries.

The tractor-towed 600HD, weighing almost 4,000 lb (1,800 kg.) can clean up to 9 ac (3.1 has) an hour, and with a 7 ft (2 m) wide cleaning path. In the 1990s, Rockland of Bedford, Pennsylvania, developed their Beach King featuring a 2.2 cubic yard hopper to take more debris. (h.barber.com)

Over in Europe, Unicorn of Torredembarra, Spain, manufacture a range of six beach cleaners from the Musketeer, a medium-sized, self-drive sifting-type machine with a vibrating mesh for surface cleaning of small areas for cleaning small beaches to the Magnum with its large capacity rear hopper that can unload at a height of 8 ft (2.50 m) and its operating width of 7.5ft (2.30 m.)

Metaljonica in the Teramo Area of Italy make EcoBeach, a macchina puliscispiaggia, powered by an 8.4 hp Honda GX270 unleaded petrol engine.

Until now, tractors towing beach cleaners have been diesel or gasoline-engined, but with the latest developments of the battery-electric tractor, they may soon become cleaner and silent.

Totally electrically driven, the Solarino developed by DronyX in 2013 a remote-controlled beach-cleaning machine, developed in Montemesola in the province of Taranto, Apulia, south eastern Italy by three mechatronics engineers – Alessandro Deodati, Emiliano Petrachi and Giuseppe Vendramin.

The Solarino includes a removable rake that scoops and discards debris. It can also be used to tow up to 2,200 lb (1039 kg) when the rake system is not attached. The Solarino is powered by 3 full isolated gel batteries and also by solar energy. The wide matched tread helps to optimize the traction system performance both on wet and dry sandy terrains. (www.dronyx.com)

Discover solution 32: beer from stale bread

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Human Effort Materials

27: Biodegradable ballpoint pens

Problem:

Over three billion ball point pens – 18 billion grams, 40 million  pounds – are shipped into the USA each year, with most of them winding up in landfills, or rivers, lakes and oceans.

Solution:

Biodegradable ball point pens.

BiC

From 2003  Société BIC of Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France – more commonly known as BiC –  set up a team of 25 researchers to transform their commitment to sustainable development into ecological solutions that must constitute competitive advantages for the Group.

After five years of extensive research and development the BiC team in France learned to develop PLA (Poly-Lactic-Acid) from corn, with which by 2008 they were able to produce a precision shaver handle.

From this BiC built up a new line of stationery products, including pens which they trade-marked as “Ecolutions”.

BiC became the first manufacturer of writing instruments to earn NF Environment certification.

A full range of nineteen BIC products has been granted this ecolabel, including historical products such as the BIC Cristal® and the BIC 4-Colors™ ballpoint pen, as well as the pens in the BIC Ecolutions line, manufactured using recycled materials (at least 50%) in compliance with the standard ISO 14021.

For example, the BIC® Matic Ecolutions® mechanical pencil contains 65% recycled materials. All stationery lines now include at least one product made with alternative (e.g. recycled) materials. In 2019, BIC added the Kids Evolution Ecolutions colouring pencils to this range. (bicgraphic.eu)

PaperMate

On the other hand, from 2010, Paper Mate of Oak Brook, Illinois used Mirel, a bioplastic whose primary raw material is corn sugar (dextrose) derived from a corn wet milling process, to launch a line of biodegradable pens, and pencils, including the Gel 0.7, that feature components that break down in soil or home compost in the space of a year.

Pilot
Five years later,  Pilot Corporation of Tokyo, Japan developed the Bottle to Pen (B2P) Line of writing instruments, which are the world’s first pens made from recycled plastic water bottles.

The plastic from one bottle can be used to create approximately two B2P pens. PET plastic from bottles are used for much of it, so it is sometimes nicknamed the ‘PetPen’ or ‘PetBall’. (jetpens.com)

Other solutions

In 1998, a team led by Yasumichi Iwasi at the Mitsubishi Pencil Co Ltd in Tokyo had obtained Japanese patent JP2000043470A for “a Composting decomposable writing instrument to decompose and return it to soil by adopting biodegradable fiber for obtaining biodegradable performance even in inner members (nib, inner cotton).”

Their solution was a nib and inner cotton formed of lactic lactone of polylactic acid (PLA).

In 2009, Leon Ransmeier and Erik Wysocan of DBA, New York, obtained a patent for a pen made from potato-based plastic which could be composted within 180 days.

The only catch was the stainless steel nib – which made up 2% of the pen and was left behind.

The ink reservoir stored a non-toxic ink. The plug, cap, ink reservoir and main housing were all formed from biodegradable, non-toxic materials. The pens would be made in a wind-powered factory and packaged in 100% recycled and recyclable FSC-certified paper printed with vegetable-based inks.

Although, the DBA98 (98% biodegradable) was launched as the “green pen” with a publicity event at the Standard Hotel in New York, the company was unable to overcome some of the obstacles inherent in the pursuit of challenging conventional, outdated practices and the pen, as well as DBA’s endless notebook made of 100% recycled paper, were never manufactured.

bicgraphic.com; Yigal Azrouel, “Hollywood And Fashion Stars Turn Out To Celebrate A New Eco-Pen,” Styelcaster, 2010.

Discover solution 28: Bamboo silk.

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19: Apps for the environment

Problem:

Smartphone apps have now become essential to our daily lives and collectively consumer enormous amounts of energy. Despite having almost incalculable capabilities to gather and analyse data from literally billions of sources, they do not meaningfully contribute to helping us address climate and other environmental problems.

Solution:

Harness these data capabilities and enable users to adjust their lifestyles both individually and collectively to address planteray problems.

Many environmental groups have their own apps, such as FridaysForFuture – the people’s movement that has grown from  Greta Thunberg’s school strikes and the World Wildlife Fund’s Together that brings you closer to 16 endangered species.

Others available include:

There are apps such as

iRecycle and

My Little Plastic Footprint »» Apple  »» Google which help reduce landfill

as well apps like Forest from Trees.org supported by sponsors that facilitate  tree planting.

Apps are  clearly an area with enormous potential for growth and impact.

Do you have an app you would like to have included in this solution? Click on ‘Comments’ at the top right of this post to let us know.

Discover solution 20: Solar panels triggered by rain

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15: Amphibious water bomber super scoopers

Problem:

Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) – climate change – is contributing to fires in the wilderness that are larger, more frequent and more devastating.

Solution:

Various aircraft have been used over the years for firefighting..  The yellow and red amphibious water bombers or “super scoopers” Canadair CL-215 and the CL-415 are the most commonly used.

They are assembled at the Bombardier Aerospace facility near North Bay/Jack Garland Airport in North Bay, Ontario, and tested on Lake Nipissing. In 2018, there were 165 in-service CL-215 and CL-415s serving 11 countries.

The CL-415 can scoop up to 1,620 US gallons (6,140 liters) – that is  6,140 kilograms / 13,500 pounds – of water from a nearby water source in ten minutes, mix it with a chemical foam if desired, and drop it on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks.

In 2019 the European Union set up a RescEU fleet of seven Canadairs and six helicopters from six EU member states: Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Croatia and Greece.

They are also available to other European countries and adjoining states, which can request to use the planes in an emergency to fight forest fires across Europe. Most recently they were used during the forest fires of California in August-September, 2020.

Discover solution 16: turning animal dung into electricity

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Carbon Capture Human Effort

11: The Green Dam – 7.5 million acres of reforestation

Problem:

Desertification is a serious threat to arid and semiarid environments which cover 40% of the global land surface and are populated by approximately 1 billion humans. Of the 588 million acres (238 million hectares) that make the total land area of Algeria, 200 million are natural deserts, 20 million represent the steppe regions threatened by desertification.

During The War of Independence, between 1954 and 1962, Algeria’s forest heritage had suffered serious damage as a result of the French occupation army’s aerial bombardments.

Solution:

In a program launched in 1970 by Saïd Grim and backed by President Houari Boumediene, the past forty years have seen a reforestation program of the vast steppe of Algeria to counter desertification.

Today ‘The Green Dam’ (also called ‘The Green Wall’ and ‘alsadu al’akhdar aljazayiriu’ in Arabic) covers an area of  930 mi (1500 km) by 12 mi (20 km): or 7.5 million acres (3 million hectares).

Driving back the desert is an ongoing task, though. A study on the rehabilitation and extension of the Dam was launched in 2012, an action plan was proposed in 2016, meetings and workshops held in 2018.

Ethiopia

In 2019, Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, claimed to have planted 4 billion trees in three months. The Green Legacy Initiative was championed by the country’s Nobel peace prize-winning Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.

The highlight was on 29 July when Ethiopians across the country turned out to help with planting 350 million tree seedlings over a 12-hour period. They gave a very precise number – 353,633,660 trees planted that day. A further 1.3 billion seedlings were grown, but not planted.

The Gambia

The Gambia, which is one of the poorest countries in western Africa, launched a large project to restore 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of forests, mangroves, and savannas, using climate-resilient tree and shrub species.

The six-year project will be implemented in four of The Gambia’s seven regions, and aims to make over 57,000 people more resilient to the negative effects of climate change. Of these people 11,550 will benefit directly, and 46,200 indirectly.

Discover solution 12: carbon free aluminium smelting that could eliminate the equivalent of 7 million tons of GHG emissions

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Human Effort Planet Care

1: Combining crop growing with forestry

Problem:

Halting deforestation is a global challenge largely due to unsustainable agricultural practices that degrade natural ecosystems. Ninety percent of deforestation is the result of agriculture, with 60% due to the extension of agro-industrial intensive farming (soya, palm oil, corn…), and the remaining 30% caused by small-scale and subsistence farmers. Close to 20% of all carbon emissions result from deforestation and forest degradation.

With slash and burn subsistence agriculture, due to heavy seasonal floods, the exposed soil is washed away, leaving infertile barren soil exposed to the dry season. Farmed hillside sites have to be abandoned after a few years.

Solution:

In 1977, a team led by Canadian forester John G. Bene published a seminal work “Trees, food and people : land management in the tropics” in which Bene coined the word agroforestry. This led to the setting up of an International Council for Research in Agroforestry, now the World Agroforestry Center headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

Agroforestry is a land use management system in which smart reforestation goes hand in hand with crops or pastureland. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry increases biodiversity and reduces erosion. Unlike full-sun fields, vulnerable and contributing to ecosystems degradation, agrofrestry is a way to preserve productive ecosystems and adapt to climate change.

One example of agroforestry has proved successful at the Quesungual Lempira Department, Honduras. Here, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) helped introduce a system incorporating local knowledge consisting of the following steps:

  • Hillside secondary forest were thinned and pruned, leaving individual nitrogen-fixing trees to help reduce soil erosion, maintain soil moisture, provide shade and provide an input of nitrogen-rich organic matter in the form of litter.
  • Maize, a local crop was then planted in rows beside the trees, then harvested, leaving their stalks used for nitrogen-fixing climbing bean plants.
  • Further intercropping was carried out with pumpkin, its large leaves and horizontal growth providing additional shade and moisture retention.
  • Pumpkins do not compete with the beans for sunlight since the latter grow vertically on the stalks.

Another agroforestry application is Taungya, a system originating in Burma. In the initial stages of an orchard or tree plantation, trees are small and widely spaced. The free space between the newly planted trees accommodates a seasonal crop. Instead of costly weeding, the underutilized area provides an additional output and income.

More complex taungyas use between-tree space for multiple crops. The crops become more shade tolerant as the tree canopies grow and the amount of sunlight reaching the ground declines. Thinning can maintain sunlight levels.

J. G. Bene, H.W. Beall, A. Cöté, “Trees, food and people : land management in the tropics,” International Development Research Centre, 1977. Daizy Rani Patish, Ecological basis of agroforestry. CRC Press.2008; Kate Langford, “Turning the tide on farm productivity in Africa: an agroforestry solution,“. World Agroforestry Centre, 8 July 2009.

Discover solution 2: How to make silk without killing silk worms.

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