Universities must reject fossil fuel cash for climate research, say academics

Read the full story from The Guardian.

Universities must stop accepting funding from fossil fuel companies to conduct climate research, even if the research is aimed at developing green and low-carbon technology, an influential group of distinguished academics has said.

Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, the Nasa data scientist Peter Kalmus, and prominent US climate scientist Michael Mann are among close to 500 academics from the US and the UK who have written an open letter addressed to all university leaders in the two countries, calling on them to reject all funding from fossil fuel companies.

Accepting money from fossil fuel companies represented “an inherent conflict of interest” and could “taint” essential research and “compromise” academic freedom, they wrote. For the companies, it was a chance to “greenwash” their reputations and skew the findings of research in a way favourable to them.

Rising Leaders on Social and Environmental Sustainability: A Global Survey of Business Students

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Awareness of the environmental and societal challenges facing our world has expanded dramatically in recent years. Since 2015, the year we published our inaugural report, Rising Leaders on Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change: A Global Survey of Business Students, an ongoing global pandemic has laid bare societal strains and inequalities in access to basic healthcare. Extreme weather events have intensified all over the planet. The sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report included unprecedented warnings of catastrophic global warming in the absence of immediate action. The U.S. signed—and then left, before rejoining—the Paris Agreement.

For this follow-up report, we surveyed students at the 32 business schools in the Global Network for Advanced Management, located in 30 countries across six continents. We have learned that the world’s business students consider themselves both highly concerned about climate change and social problems, and even more knowledgeable about their implications for business than they perceived themselves to be in our previous survey. By and large, they share a dismal opinion of businesses’ current efforts in these areas—and they’re eager to step in and help make change.

Upcycling vegetable by-products into fibre-rich ingredients for ‘juicier’ burgers: ‘We can make processed food healthier and more sustainable’

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

New vegan products made with upcycled ‘imperfect’ vegetables are being developed by researchers in Europe.

The role of research at universities: Why it matters

Read the full story at Forbes.

Teaching and learning, research and discovery, synthesis and creativity, understanding and engagement, service and outreach. There are many “core elements” to the mission of a great university. Teaching would seem the most obvious, but for those outside of the university, “research” (taken to include scientific research, scholarship more broadly, as well as creative activity) may be the least well understood. This creates misunderstanding of how universities invest resources, especially those deriving from undergraduate tuition and state (or other public) support, and the misperception that those resources are being diverted away from what is believed should be the core (and sole) focus, teaching. This has led to a loss of trust, confidence, and willingness to continue to invest or otherwise support (especially our public) universities.

Insect trash could be a farmer’s treasure

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Insect feces and exoskeletons can make agriculture more sustainable and produce less waste, scientists say.

Road to Zero Emissions

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This report assesses the progress of 55 of the largest U.S. corporations in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which requires achieving “net zero” emissions by 2050. The primary finding from our analysis is that the overwhelming majority of companies assessed have neither established comprehensive, 1.5 degree-aligned GHG reduction goals nor demonstrated progress in reducing their emissions in alignment with net zero goals.

Cooking up a way to remove microplastics from wastewater — with okra, aloe

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

In many cuisines, okra serves as a master thickener of stews and soups. The goo from that fruit and other plants, such as aloe, cactus and psyllium, can also clean water and wastewater of some types of solid pollutants, as well as some that are dissolved. Now, researchers have demonstrated that combinations of these food-grade plant extracts can remove microplastics from wastewater.

The researchers will present their results today at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Spring 2022 is a hybrid meeting being held virtually and in-person March 20-24, with on-demand access available March 21-April 8. The meeting features more than 12,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

Building resilient and sustainable supply chains

Risk mitigation efforts that started before the pandemic continue, from combating the effects of tariffs and trade wars to reducing the carbon footprint from operations and the extended supply chain. Supply Chain Dive examines the concept of resilient and sustainable supply chains — before, during and beyond COVID-19.

Included in this trendline:

  • 5 freight technologies send supply chains on a greener path
  • So you want to reduce your supply chain emissions
  • From Section 301 to COVID-19: How a volatile China changed supply chains

Download the document.

From trash to treasure: Illinois dump becomes community solar farm

Photo credit: Nexamp

Read the full story at Yale Climate Connections. See also How to turn trash into treasure: Put solar panels over landfills at Canary Media.

In Urbana, Illinois, a former landfill is now home to a community solar farm. With nearly 14,000 solar panels, it provides enough clean electricity to power a municipal building and about 300 homes.

NREL to collaborate with eight teams on innovations to unlock equitable solar in underserved communities

Read the full story from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Solar energy is taking off in the United States. The U.S. Energy Information Agency projects that solar power will account for nearly half of all new electricity-generating capacity in 2022. But this growth is not shared equally across the United States. For example, research published in Nature Sustainability found that Black- and Hispanic-majority census tracts have installed significantly less rooftop photovoltaics (PV) than no-majority and white-majority tracts.

To help address these gaps and ensure that the benefits of solar energy can be shared by all Americans, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected eight teams from across the country to join the third round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). The teams will work collaboratively to deepen understanding of the barriers that prevent more equitable adoption of solar energy in underserved communities. NREL will provide analytical support to the teams as they design and test solutions to overcome these barriers in their communities.