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Good morning curious.friends,

It's easy to get bogged down and distracted with all the political madness we've seen this week! 

But never fear, the UK's first chickpea crop has been harvested, meaning UK hummus could soon be on the shelves near you!

Reading time is 3:47 minutes.
Enjoyyy
Energy

Not just a load of hot air

by Lucie Machin

What's Going On Here?

Excess heat from the London Underground could be used to keep homes warm and toasty this winter.

What Does This Mean?

In a move that should get a warm welcome, over 450 homes and businesses in Islington (North London) are going to be kept cosy this winter by harnessing surplus heat from the Underground’s Northern line. If it gets the thumbs up, this project could tunnel the way for similar projects across London, where there is currently enough wasted heat to meet up to 70% of the city’s heating needs! 🌡️😮

This is just one of several new “district heating” projects in the UK that are using waste heat from sources such as sugar factories (Norfolk), power plants (London) and disused mine shafts (Edinburgh), to replace boilers.

Why Should We Care?

Burning fossil fuels to heat (and cool) our buildings produces a mahoosive amount of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate breakdown. Currently about 30% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from powering our boilers (that’s around 220 million tonnes of GHGs). To put that into perspective, that’s the equivalent weight of almost 1.5 million blue whales being pumped into the atmosphere (that’s a lot of carbon, or whales for that matter). 🐳

Harnessing waste heat to warm our buildings is being touted as one of the best things we can do to reach net-zero carbon emissions.  So we could reduce our emissions, and keep down energy bills (which would also help to tackle fuel poverty): win-win!

Be Curious!

  • Learn a few lessons from a world leader in low carbon heating: Denmark 
  • If you still have a gas boiler, check out some of the renewable energy companies providing ‘green gas’
  • Before switching the thermostat up this winter, read these energy saving tips!
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Agriculture

Playing with our Food - Agriculture, Climate Change and New Innovations 

by Helen Steiger

What's Going On Here?

Scientists have made a massive break-through in ensuring our crops are resistant to future climate change, isolating the drought resistance gene in barley. 

What Does This Mean?

Scientists have analysed over 39,000 genes within the barley over five years, and their findings show that plants with a certain gene (HvMYB1 to be precise) are more resistant to droughts than their counterparts. There are hopes that this research can be applied to other cereal crops, helping to future-proof our main food staple (bread, pasta, rice…) as temperatures rise.  

Why Should We Care?

Because climate change is already having a large impact on where and what types of food can be grown, and we only have limited space available to feed us all! 

Our changing climate is already having an impact on agriculture, with France reporting a 12% loss in wine production this year due to extreme weather (not what we like to hear 🍷!). Even our favourite fruit, the banana 🍌, isn’t safe - with a recent study suggesting that some of the largest exporters of the yummy peelable snack could face lower yields in the future with rising temperatures and changing rain patterns!

The drought-resistant gene in barley is one of many innovations that are being undertaken to ensure our food supply is sustainable and resistant to the impacts of climate change. Here at curious.earth, we’ve also stumbled across a few more agricultural innovations that we thought were...well...curious...

  • Small Robot Company - small robots that farm each individual plant rather than having to farm using inefficient large machinery. 
  • Urban Farming projects - check out GrowUp, GrowBristol and Growing Underground. They’re all challenging the preconception that food can’t be grown in the hustle bustle of a city! 
  • Zelp - a “smart” mask that reduces methane emissions produced from cattle by 85%. Not exactly a solution to our meat and dairy crisis, but still - could these nose rings become a thing?

Be Curious!


We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again - think about where your food is sourced from, and what you’re eating. Try to reduce food waste, buy local, buy organic, grow your own and adopt a more plant-based diet. All these changes will help our food supply to be more sustainable and ensure there is an ample supply of food for everyone.
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Other news we found curious...

UK harvests its first chickpea crop - Treehugger
Upcycled electric bin lorries trialled in Westminster and Sheffield - Guardian
Great Barrier Reef outlook is 'very poor', Australia says - BBC
Veganism leaps from kitchen to closet - BBC
Google adds 'green' feature to its Maps app - newscabal
Could seagrass save us? - Business Green
Asda trials 're-loved' clothes pop up stall - Circular
Lucie Machin
NEWS WRITER
Helen Steiger
NEWS WRITER
THANKS FOR READING

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