Environmental News Made Simple
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Hi there curious.friends,

Last week we shocked some people with yet more terrible puns, but also about how having one less little one can save 58.6 tonnes CO2e. So we thought we would follow up with the latest plans from Paris to turn school playgrounds green.

This week, Australian PM announced Australia is abandoning climate targets, what a absolute Dingo. It seems that the removing CO2 (sequestration) is more important than ever, so read on to discover more about new carbon-munching minerals.

Here's the news you need to know for Today.
Reading time is 3:17 minutes.

Tech & Innovation
Carbon-munching minerals to put brakes on global warming 

What's Going On Here?

Scientists have found a way to produce a mineral with serious carbon-storing potential.

The mineral, magnesite, can take thousands of years to form in nature, but this new method can accelerate formation to just 72 days and could make it a genuine tool to combat climate change. They say geology rocks - we couldn’t agree more!

What Does This Mean?

Every ton of magnesite can remove around half a ton of carbon from the atmosphere. And the even better news is that the scientists can produce the mineral at room temperature, making it a cheap, energy-efficient process.

Despite the team of researchers from Trent University, Canada admitting that this is still an ‘experimental process’, the results are being broadly welcomed as a “big step forward” in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas levels. 

However, some experts warn that projects such as this are ‘seriously over-optimistic’. Instead, they say, we should be focussing on reducing emissions to keep global warming at bay. One thing is for sure, such technologies can only be part of the solution - global carbon emissions will have to be slashed regardless.

Why Should We Care? 

In a summer plagued by droughts, wildfires and heatwaves, global warming has rapidly become reality. 

Experts warn that if the Earth’s delicate, natural equilibrium is tipped out of balance - as appears to be happening - the knock-on effects could cause spiralling temperatures and lead to a ‘hothouse earth’. In such a situation it’s feared that systems that once acted as carbon stores, such as rainforests, soils and the sea ice, could begin emitting huge quantities of CO2 instead.

Be Curious!

We advise leaving mineral creation to the experts. But there are other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

If you’ve already swapped the bus for a bike, and switched your household energy bills to a renewable provider, you can pay a small fee to offset your remaining emissions.

Calculate your carbon footprint using a tool like this one from WWF, then use a carbon offsetting scheme that invests in environmental projects to balance out your emissions. Hey presto, you’re a carbon neutral human!

Climate Change
Parisian playgrounds to become ingenious climate oasis 

What's Going On Here?

Paris has recently announced Project Oasis, its radical plan to convert the concrete playgrounds of all of its 800 schools into either green spaces or ‘islands of cool’ by 2040. 

What Does This Mean?

Paris has the lowest percentage of green space of any European city, which contributes to what is known as the ‘urban heat island effect’, whereby urban areas are significantly warmer than their rural surroundings. Many school playgrounds in Paris are surfaced with asphalt, which acts as a radiator. Last June, school playgrounds reached temperatures as high as 51 degrees, causing school activities to be postponed for 3 days. (Did someone say inset day?!). 

Project Oasis aims to tackle heatwaves by building green infrastructure like green walls, vegetable planters or trees into schools. These not only provide cool, shaded areas but also reflect solar radiation and remove heat-absorbing gases from the air.

Why Should We Care? 

As our planet warms due to climate change, heatwaves like those we’ve experienced in recent weeks are set to become more frequent. Project Oasis is therefore a welcome to strategy for adapting to climate change and if successful could be implemented in cities elsewhere! 

Whilst London has significantly more green space than Paris (33% to 9.5%), encouraging schools to implement more green spaces in playgrounds could have the added impact of improving the city’s dire air quality around schools.

Be Curious!

Don’t want to wait until 2040 for the government to buy you some plants or provide you with shade? 

Why not grab in a few plants to go around your home or office? Not only do they look great and improve your mood, but they also improve air quality by removing airborne pollutants! 

Got the power? Planting a green roof or green wall on your office block will not only cool the building but also reduces the need for air conditioning (less waste heat released!). 


Other news we found curious...

Australian Prime Minister Abandons Climate Targets, Bowing to Party Pressure - NYTimes
How plastic waste has been turned into benches - BBC
'Ghost netting': Decomposed turtle wrapped in plastic net thought to have killed it - Independent
Poppy Gaunt
Will Roderick

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Stay Curious
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