Day: January 22, 2021

Can a city truly be 100% renewable? It’s complicated.

Read the full story at Grist.

But are 100 percent renewable cities actually … 100 percent renewable? The reality is a bit complicated — and it shows the challenges of true, “deep” decarbonization of electricity in the United States.

Cities want to tear down these urban highways—and Biden can help

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Removing urban highways could transform cities and help heal a legacy of racist planning. But it won’t be possible without help from the federal government.

Just the Thing for Miss Muffet’s 21st Birthday

Read the full story in the New York Times.

A new clear liquor is made from whey, the milky liquid left over from the cheesemaking process.

Artist Turns Nuts, Bolts, and Scrap Metal Into Life-Size Animal Sculptures

Read the full story at My Modern Met.

While most of us dispose of old car parts and unused cutlery at the dump, Aloha, Oregon-based artist Brian Mock turns scrap metal into fantastic outdoor sculptures. He collects use and discarded materials—such as screws, nuts, and bolts—and assembles them into human and animal forms.

Mock has been exploring a number of artistic practices from an early age, but discovered his love of upcycling art in the 1990s. He taught himself how to weld, allowing him to visualize his artistic ideas as metal sculptures. Today, he’s creating an entire zoo of metallic animals—including dogs, cats, and larger-than-life lions—all from 100% reclaimed materials. Mock chooses each piece of scrap metal carefully to fit the forms of his subjects—dog tails are depicted as flexible metal chains, and floppy ears are crafted from large sheets of curved steel.

“Giving old, everyday objects a new life as one sculpture is an artistically demanding, yet gratifying process,” says Mock. “My work is designed to emphasize resourcefulness and encourage viewer engagement. Audience reactions fuel my creativity and help me bring my visions to life.”

Scroll down to check out some of Mock’s scrap metal sculptures and find more from his portfolio on his website.

Washington state adopts rules to guide utilities to coal-free status by 2025, carbon-free by 2045

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and Washington State Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that they adopted rules in late December to guide implementation of the state’s 2019 Clean Energy Transformation Act.

Under the law, electric utilities in Washington must eliminate coal-fired power by 2025, achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and source 100% of their energy from renewable or non-carbon emitting sources by 2045.

While Washington utilities and environmental groups welcomed the overarching goals presented by the rules, disagreement about specifics remains. “We have an opportunity to finally account for climate impacts in electricity planning and acquisition of new resources,” Doug Howell, a senior campaign representative in Seattle for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said in an email. “How we deal with this in electricity will hopefully end up applying to other sectors, [which] is why it is so important to get it right.”

5 big ideas to address the climate crisis and inequality in cities

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

City life can be deeply unfair. This was true before the coronavirus pandemic exposed just how differently the rich and poor are able to cope with lockdowns, from the ability to work from home to access to green space. The pandemic’s devastating impacts on vulnerable groups have only widened existing fault lines tied to income, race and postal codes.

Cities face much longer-term trends underlying vulnerability for hundreds of millions of people. Even as poverty has declined globally, the share of poor people living in urban areas is rising worldwide. Meanwhile, cities are more likely to experience flooding and extreme heat than in years past, and the poorest residents are hardest hit by these events. Increasingly, cities need solutions that address both climate change and inequality together.

The good news is that cities remain creative dynamos, constantly innovating and changing. Below are five big ideas for how to reduce urban inequality and respond to climate change at the same time. Chosen from more than 260 submissions, these projects are the finalists for the 2020-2021 WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities.

From Tima’s Desk: Sustainable Business Models Need to Focus on Waste

Read the full story from the Network for Business Sustainability.

Current approaches to business — and business sustainability — are not working. Tomorrow’s company needs a different business model, focusing not only on profits, but also waste.

Faux peer-reviewed journals: a threat to research integrity

Read the full post at BishopBlog.

Despite all its imperfections, peer review is one marker of scientific quality – it indicates that an article has been evaluated prior to publication by at least one, and usually several, experts in the field. An academic journal that does not use peer review would not usually be regarded as a serious source and we would not expect to see it listed in a database such as Clarivate Analytic’s Web of Science Core Collection which “includes only journals that demonstrate high levels of editorial rigor and best practice”. Scientists are often evaluated by their citations in Web of Science, with the assumption that this will include only peer-reviewed articles. This makes gaming of citations harder than is the case for less selective databases such as Google Scholar. The selective criteria for inclusion, and claims by Clarivate Analytics to take research integrity very seriously, are presumably the main reasons why academic institutions are willing to pay for access to Web of Science, rather than relying on Google Scholar. 

Nevertheless, some journals listed in Web of Science include significant numbers of documents that are not peer-reviewed. I first became aware of this when investigating the publishing profiles of authors with remarkably high rates of publications in a small number of journals. I found that Mark Griffiths, a hyperprolific author who has been interviewed about his astounding rate of publication by the Times Higher Education, has a junior collaborator, Mohammed Mamun, who clearly sees Griffiths as a role model and is starting to rival him in publication rate. Griffiths is a co-author on 31 of 33 publications authored by Mamun since 2019. While still an undergraduate, Mamun has become the self-styled Director of the Undergraduate Research Organization in Dhaka, subsequently renamed as the Centre for Health Innovation, Networking, Training, Action and Research – Bangladesh. These institutions do not appear to have any formal link with an academic institution, though on ORCID, Mamun lists an ongoing educational affiliation to Jahangirnagar University. His H-index from Web of Science is 11. This drops if one excludes self-citations, which constitute around half of his citations, but nevertheless, this is remarkable for an undergraduate.

2020 Marks the Point When Human-Made Materials Outweigh All the Living Things on Earth, a New Study Finds

Read the full story in Time.

In a startling sign of the impact that humans are having on our planet, a study published Dec. 9 estimates that 2020 marks the point when human-made materials outweigh the total mass of Earth’s living biomass.

Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science found that the total mass of human-made materials—such as concrete, steel and asphalt—has increased rapidly since 1900, when it made up the equivalent of just 3% of the mass of living biomass—plants, animals and microorganisms. As humans have constructed more buildings, roads, structures and objects over the last 120 years, the mass of human-produced materials has grown from less than 0.1 teratonnes to roughly 1 teratonne (1 trillion tonnes), the study, published in the journal Nature estimates.

The Environmental Impact of Consumption Lifestyles: Ethically Minded Consumption vs. Tightwads

Touchette L, Nepomuceno MV. (2020). “The Environmental Impact of Consumption Lifestyles: Ethically Minded Consumption vs. Tightwads.” Sustainability 12(23), 9954. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239954

Abstract: This study investigates the environmental impact of anti-consumption lifestyles and compares it to environmental concern and ethically minded consumption. Environmental impact was measured in a sample of 357 individuals with a carbon footprint calculator capturing all greenhouse gases released by an individual’s activities. Three types of anti-consumption lifestyles were considered: frugality, voluntary simplicity, and tightwadism. Results suggest that tightwadism is negatively associated with environmental impact. This negative association is stronger when participants are knowledgeable about the emissions impact of their behaviors. These findings suggest that tightwadism can lead to positive outcomes to achieve sustainability. Surprisingly, frugality and voluntary simplicity, as well as environmental concern, are not significantly associated with environmental impact, whereas ethically minded consumption correlates positively with the latter. This study demonstrates that increasing consumers’ environmental and ethical concerns alone might not be an effective way to lead them towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Such findings have important implications for sustainability and public policy makers.

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