IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [7/14 - 7/20/2018]

Release time:2018-07-30

01 WeWork Launches Company-Wide Meat Ban to Protect Environment

WeWork - a major corporation specializing in coworking spaces and fostering startups - has announced a company-wide ban on meat. WeWork will no longer be serving meat at company events, nor will it reimburse the cost of meat for its employees. The ban will cover red meat, poultry, and pork - and will impact WeWork's roughly 6000 employees.

The company was clear in stating that the move was motivated by environmental concerns.

According to a company-wide email shared by CNN, WeWork anticipates it will save 'an estimated 16.7 billion gallons of water, 445.1 million pounds (201.9 million kg) of CO2 emissions, and over 15 million animals by 2023' with the change of policy.

Co-founder Miguel McKelvey also added that 'the [culinary] team has worked hard to create a sustainable, plentiful, and delicious menu'.

This is not the first sign WeWork has shown of having an environmental conscience.

A zero-waste plan is also detailed on the company website - where is says the 'goal is to make WeWork as planet-friendly as possible'.

Reusable bottles, compostable cups, and glasses have taken the place of the plastic cups formerly used at WeWork - while the company has also upgraded its recycling system to better serve the planet.

Source: Plant Based News

02 UN Environment and Yale Present A Sustainable Tiny Home in NYC

U.N. Environment and Yale University’s School of Architecture has unveiled an innovative tiny home that explores the intersection of policy and eco-conscious design. The Ecological Living Module, located at the U.N. Plaza in New York City, is a sustainable dwelling that embodies many of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, several of which are under review this month at the U.N. High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Designed by an interdisciplinary group of engineers, architects and designers from the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture and Gray Organschi Architecture, the 22-square-meter tiny home includes integrated systems for on-site water collection, solar energy generation (using less than 1 percent of toxic semiconductor materials), micro-agricultural infrastructure, natural daylighting, plant-based air purification, passive cooling and cross-ventilation and various other cutting-edge technologies that allow the home to function off-grid.

The tiny home symbolizes the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals and brings sustainability closer to home and to the forefront of our lives. U.N. Environment’s communications officer Sophie Loran said, “We really enjoyed the work that went into this project because it brought together such a wide variety of experts interested in making sustainability real for people.”

Source: Inhabitat

03 Ashma Deaths Rise 25% Amid Growing Air Pollution Crisis

A record number of people are dying of asthma, and experts have warned growing air pollution and a lack of basic care could be to blame. In England and Wales 1,320 people died of asthma last year, a sharp rise of more than 25% over a decade, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Today’s findings from the ONS showed that 1,320 people died in 2017 compared with 1,237 in 2016 and 1,033 in 2007. There has been an increase of 43% in asthma deaths in those aged 55-64 since 2016. ONS data showed that 17 children aged 14 and under died from an asthma attack in 2017, up from 13 in 2016. Overall air pollution has been linked to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths in the UK and labelled a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. It is known to be a major risk factor for childhood asthma.

Source: Guardian

04 Nearly 15,000 Premature Deaths Due to Air Pollution in Delhi

PM2.5 has been associated with significant health effects, including cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, cancer and premature deaths. Nearly 15,000 people died prematurely in Delhi due to pollution by fine particulate matter in 2016, according to a new study which ranked the national capital third in a list of cities reporting most deaths due to air pollution. Shanghai was ranked first in most premature deaths at 17,600 and Beijing second with 18,200 deaths due to PM2.5 pollutant.

This study reports PM2.5-related long-term mortality for the year 2016 in 13 megacities of China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan using an integrated exposure risk (IER) model. In Indian megacities, the premature deaths were 14,800 in Delhi, 10,500 in Mumbai, 7,300 in Kolkata, and 4,800 in Chennai respectively. Though China has taken initial steps with pollution control targets and strategy, there was an urgent need for government policy in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the study said.

This study highlighted the need for setting up decisive air quality targets by megacity authorities and advocates for joint regional efforts to control air pollution.

Source: The Hindu

05 Apple Is Spending Millions to China’s Environment

Apple said that it was launching a $300 million fund that will identify and invest in clean energy projects in the world’s second biggest economy. Apple is partnering with 10 of its global suppliers for the fund, whose investments aim to generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of nearly one million homes in China.

Apple has invested in China's wind and solar energy industries in the past. But the new fund is separate from the company's previous renewable energy initiatives in the country. The big component suppliers that Apple is working with on the fund include Taiwan's Pegatron and Wistron. Deutsche Bank (DB) will manage the fund and also invest in it.

Yuan Ying, climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace East Asia, said that Apple had shown leadership in promoting renewable energy sources in China, but could still do more."Apple and its suppliers show how corporations can do their part to contribute to China's energy transition," she said. "We would like to see local Chinese tech giants follow suit." Yuan added that Apple could take further steps to reduce environmental waste in China through measures like lengthening the lifespan of its products.

Source: CNN Tech

06 Ireland Moves to Divest From Fossil Fuels

This week, Ireland moved to pull its public funds out of fossil fuels, a development that marks the most significant advance to date for a divestment campaign pushed by environmentalists worldwide.

Ireland lower house of Parliament passed a bill that requires the country’s sovereign fund, valued at 8.9 billion euros, or about $10.4 billion, to move out of fossil fuels “as soon as practicable.” An aide to Thomas Pringle, the member of Parliament who proposed the measure, said the bill had the support of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and was expected to become law. When it does, Ireland will become the first country to formally pledge to divest from fossil fuels.

Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, an Irish environmental lobby that has pushed for the bill, said in a statement the measure was “both substantive and symbolic”.
“It will stop public money being invested against the public interest, and it sends a clear signal nationally and globally that action on the climate crisis needs to be accelerated urgently, starting with the phase-out of fossil fuels,” he said.

Source: NewYork Times

07 Air Pollution in National Parks as Bad as 20 Largest U.S. Cities
A study published in Science Advances Wednesday found that, between 1990 and 2014, the ozone concentrations in 33 of the largest and most visited national parks were statistically indistinguishable from the ozone concentrations in the 20 largest U.S. cities. While air quality in urban centers began to improve after the 1990 version of the Clean Air Act, the study found that the parks' air didn't begin to clear until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented the 1999 Regional Haze Rule.

"Even though the national parks are supposed to be icons of a pristine landscape, quite a lot of people are being exposed to ozone levels that could be detrimental to their health," study co-author and Cornell University assistant economics professor Ivan Rudik told The Associated Press.

The study, conducted by researchers at Iowa State and Cornell universities, suggested that some people are taking health concerns into consideration and staying away on days when air quality is low. It found that the number of park visitors fell by 2 percent when ozone levels rose just a little bit and by as much as 8 percent in months with three or more high ozone days.

Source: Eco Watch

08 Oil Pollution Causes All Fish in Chinese Reservoir to Die

A couple in China saw the entire fish stock at their fish farm disappear after high volumes of oil waste leaked into the local reservoir, polluting the waters.

On June 17th, the couple discovered a pile of dead fish. They thought the fish had died due to the lack of oxygen in the water, and so he turned on oxygen pumps. A few days later, all of the fish had died—a loss of about 40,000 kilograms (about 44 tons) of fish with a market value of over 400,000 yuan ($59,864), according to the couple. Li then called the local police.

They realized there was a thin layer of oil on the reservoir water surface, and that this had caused the death of his fish stock. He later came to the conclusion that heavy rain a few days earlier had elevated the water level of the reservoir, which caused the oil-contained mud nearby to be drawn into the water, allowing the oil to leach into the water.

The local water bureau in Mian County in Shaanxi took water samples from the oil-polluted reservoir to a private company for testing. The resulting report revealed that the water had oil pollutants of 28.6 milligrams per liter, which is 572 times higher than the allowed national standard of less than 0.05 milligrams per liter.  

Source: The Epoch Times

09 Thawing permafrost microbiomes fuel climate change

A University of Queensland-led international study could lead to more accurate predictions or the rate of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions produced by thawing permafrost in the next 100 years.

"As global temperatures rise, large amounts of carbon sequestered in perennially frozen permafrost are becoming available for microbial degradation," Dr Woodcroft said.

"Until now, accurate prediction of greenhouse gas emissions produced from thawing permafrost has been limited by our understanding of permafrost microbial communities and their carbon metabolisms."Using sequencing techniques pioneered by Professor Tyson, over 200 samples from intact, thawing and thawed permafrost sites in northern Sweden were examined.

The research, which included new metagenomics software run on UQ supercomputers, also implicated a number of these entirely new lineages in the production of greenhouse gases.

Source: Science Daily

10 AI Technology Could Help Protect Water Supplies

Progress on new artificial intelligence (AI) technology could make monitoring at water treatment plants cheaper and easier and help safeguard public health. Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed AI software capable of identifying and quantifying different kinds of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, a threat to shut down water systems when it suddenly proliferates.

Current testing methods, which typically involve sending samples to labs for manual analysis by technicians, take one to two days. Some automated systems already exist as well, but they require extremely expensive equipment and supplies. Moving forward, the goal is an AI system to continuously monitor water flowing through a microscope for a wide range of contaminants and microorganisms. The researchers estimate it may take two to three years to refine a fully commercial sample testing system for use in labs or in-house at treatment plants. The technology to provide continuous monitoring could be three to four years away.

Source: EurekAlert

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