EcoCREDIT Weekly Sustainability Wrap Up — May 12 ‘22
Unfortunately, not everything is sustainable. Thankfully, not everything has to be! While we all appreciate a carbon-neutral cooking process, a truly sustainable pizza would never get eaten! After all, consuming a finite pizza would be unsustainable. Alas, some things just aren’t meant to last. Over time, pizza gets eaten while products and services get replaced by innovation. This process generally benefits individuals and the global economy (and, in the case of pizza, is sometimes quite delicious.)
However, this reality becomes dangerous when taken to its logical conclusion. The concept of planned obsolescence entails the erroneous consumption of untold amounts of resources, all in the name of selling nearly identical products to consumers. Many of today’s products are intended for the garbage bin. New iterations then take their place in an increasingly unfulfilling corporatized treadmill of consumerism.
Thankfully, things are changing for the better. We’re hurtling towards a far more sustainable, interconnected, and socially conscious future!
Moving The Electric Needle
Did you know that in the year 1900, electric vehicles accounted for 1/3rd of global motor traffic? That’s an astonishing piece of history that most of us weren’t taught in school! Thanks to a combination of limitations in battery technology and corporate interests, this ratio quickly plummeted throughout the remainder of the century. However, recent years have seen this trend reversing, with electric vehicles boasting far greater battery capacities and functionality than ever before.
These sleek, modern electric vehicles help to explain why over 2/3rds of those polled in a recent YouGov survey intend to switch to electric vehicles. While around half were motivated to switch due to their fuel bills, an encouraging 56% claimed that the reduced environmental impact was a major selling point in their decision. This encouraging trend helps demonstrate how our global society is growing more environmentally and economically conscious of how our long-term decisions impact our world.
Octo-Energy Straddling Continents
What do a hot day in the Sahara and a warm shower in Cornwall have in common? It turns out quite a lot! Octopus Energy Group, a green investment firm focused on renewable energy, recently took a stake in a project connecting Moroccan solar farms and wind turbines with the energy grid of the United Kingdom. The project is in its early stages and requires significant review as experts analyze economic, environmental, geological, and technical impacts and feasibility. After all, running a suboceanic internet cable is one thing, but pumping gigawatts of energy underwater presents completely new challenges!
However, Octopus Energy seems to have confidence in the initiative. The Moroccan farms will produce roughly 3.6 gigawatts of energy with a window of operation spanning 20 hours. That’s quite a lot of sun compared to the often-gloomy British Isles! This herculean input has the potential to power over 7 million heat pumps in Britain, helping cut down on the region’s non-renewable resource consumption. The project aims to go live in 2027, pending regulatory approval.
Green Butterfly Effect
The butterfly effect refers to the potential ripple effect of a butterfly flapping its wings. It’s said that a particularly malicious butterfly can flap in Southeast Asia and, due to the small puff of air created, resulting in a sequence of events that causes a hurricane in the Atlantic. While not literal, this analogy helps demonstrate how seemingly inconsequential events can significantly impact our world. The same reality holds true for forests, and researchers at Wageningen University have shown that large-scale reforestation initiatives positively impact precipitation on a global scale!
The study utilized highly technical projections that identified key areas capable of reforestation. It then analyzed the subsequent impact these efforts would likely have on global hydrological ecosystems.
Every square meter of reforestation would increase evaporation by roughly 10 liters on average, representing a significant shift in regional water cycles. This data suggests that reforestation in the Amazon can negatively impact European and African rainfall rates, resulting in diminished crop yields and increased water insecurity for at-risk populations. The shocking conclusion suggests that humanity must take a far more nuanced approach to environmental protection and reforestation, as initiatives can result in unexpected outcomes in unexpected regions.
The Wrap Ups’ Wrap Up
Our natural world boasts infinitely more nuance than we ever thought possible. It turns out that planting trees in the Amazon can negatively affect global hydrology. Additionally, leveraging the Saharan sun for British showers proves that humanity remains capable of astounding feats despite these complications! Sustainably harnessing the power of nature while maintaining the delicate balance of natural ecosystems is one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced.
Thankfully, the growing awareness of how we as a species fit into our natural world makes rising to the challenge possible. It’s our only chance to avoid asymmetrically negative outcomes of climate change. Studies, trends, and technologies that we discuss in this series give us hope for a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow — one that future generations will be able to enjoy without the existential threat of ecological collapse.
We’re proud to be a small yet growing part of this trend towards a more harmonious existence with the environment! Make sure to follow EcoCREDIT on social media to stay up to date with how we’re making a difference for our community and environment!