Climeworks raises $650 million to scale direct air capture capacity

Read the full story at ESG Today.

Zurich-based Direct Air Capture (DAC) startup Climeworks announced that it has raised CHF 600 million (nearly USD$650 million) in an equity funding round led by global private markets firm Partners Group and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC. The funding will be used to scale Climework’s Direct Air Capture capacity.

Additional investors included Baillie Gifford, Carbon Removal Partners, Global Founders Capital, M&G, and Swiss Re.

Storms batter aging power grid as climate disasters spread

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades across the U.S., as a warming climate stirs more destructive storms that cripple broad segments of the nation’s aging electrical grid, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data.

Forty states are experiencing longer outages — and the problem is most acute in regions seeing more extreme weather, U.S. Department of Energy data shows. The blackouts can be harmful and even deadly for the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable communities.

Power grid maintenance expenses are skyrocketing as utilities upgrade decades-old transmission lines and equipment. And that means customers who are hit with more frequent and longer weather outages also are paying more for electricity.

EPA releases national PFAS datasets

As part of EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the Agency is compiling and integrating a collection of data that can be used to evaluate what is known about per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) reporting, testing, and occurrences in communities. As part of this effort, EPA is integrating data available nationally with other information from states and localities that are testing for PFAS pursuant to their own regulatory initiatives. 

The data sets include:

  • Ambient Environmental Sampling for PFAS
  • Drinking Water Testing (UCMR)
  • Drinking Water Testing (State)
  • PFAS Manufacture and Imports
  • Superfund Sites with PFAS Detections
  • Clean Water Act Discharge Monitoring
  • Federal Sites
  • Facilities in Industries that May be Handling PFAS
  • Transfers
  • Spills
  • Toxics Release Inventory

What’s a natural burial? A Christian theologian explains

Some people are drawn to the idea of a natural burial to bring more of the dying ritual into their homes. LPETTET/E+ via Getty Images

by Beth Hoeltke, Concordia Seminary

Death is not a subject people typically have an easy time discussing. But for Christian scholar Beth Hoeltke, it’s one she’s devoted much time to, focusing particularly on the growing interest in natural or green burials.

Here, Hoeltke explains how people can go about having a natural burial and why it’s attracting more interest among Christians and people of other faiths.

What is a natural burial?

Natural burial is actually what we would say is the closest we can come to the way Christ was buried. This idea looks at how we would care for the body from baptism all the way through burial as a Christian. When a person dies, instead of calling a funeral director, their loved ones would call the church or other family members and ask them to come and help to wash and clean the body. And then dress the body, whether it be in clothing or wrapped in a shroud, and then place them in a coffin. A vigil then could take place at home. It would not need to be done at a funeral home. No embalming would take place. And then a loved one could journey with the body to the final resting place. Or all of this could take place in the church. There are lots of different options.

But natural burial is much more environmentally structured. It doesn’t cause damage to the Earth as much as modern burial methods. Modern burial adds wood that doesn’t break down as easily and decomposition takes much longer than natural burial. It also can include other materials, such as metal, that don’t belong in the ground.

How did we go from natural burials to embalming? And what does Christianity have to say about that?

People have allowed the funeral directors to order the funeral homes to take over a task that nobody wanted to do anymore. The embalming process started back in the Civil War time when people needed to get the bodies home. And so at that time, bodies were filled with embalming fluid before being taken home to their loved ones.

The Christian church would say that Christ had a natural burial. When Christ was born, he would have been wrapped in a shroud. Upon his death he was again wrapped in a linen cloth and set in a grave. First-century burials were slightly different, but it was very similar. The body was actually laid on a bench first, probably a rock bench, until the body had decomposed, and then they would gather the bones and put the bones in an ossuary, a container or room in which the bones of dead people are placed.

What kind of people are interested in green burials?

The term “green burial” is what is heard most often by the public. I believe we have to change it to natural burial, because it’s much more natural in the sense of what’s taking place. The term green burial came from the environmental movement. The people who would be interested in a natural burial are people who do not want to be embalmed, don’t want to die in a hospital and want to have the care and love of their loved ones at home.

But people who are really involved in it right now, especially with the green burial movement, are the people who really don’t want to do damage to the Earth. And so that’s where the movement actually started. And what my writing partner Kent Burreson and I are doing is trying to bring that into the Christian church. And hence we’ve changed the language from a green burial to natural burial so that there’s a more of an understanding that this is the way Christ died.

In what circumstances is embalming required?

Embalming is required in a few states if someone is going to take the body across state lines. Let’s say you were in an area where a natural cemetery is not available and you need to take it to the next state. There are embalming fluids that are more natural than traditional chemicals and don’t contaminate as badly, so there are some options becoming available.

Could you talk about home funerals and their value?

In the past, there was something called the parlor in our homes. And the parlor was actually used for engagements, for weddings, for burials, for births, for all kinds of things that would take place within the home. That’s what funeral parlors have taken on, and they’ve tried to make it look homey. So we’re suggesting bringing the parlor back into our homes, by caring for our ill ones at home, and then when they die, caring for them by washing their bodies, washing their hair, dressing their bodies.

Think of the beauty that could be in caring for your husband or your wife or your child when they have died, to be able to be part of that and washing and caring for them. It not only keeps you busy, but it also allows you to mourn in a much more healthy way, because today death has been pushed out of our lives. We have this time period when we just don’t have the ability to mourn anymore because we go from shock to loss. This way, if we’re doing it in our homes and we’re participating in the death, we are able to actually engage in the activity and realize that death has taken place.

Traditional funerals are becoming less common as more Americans look for cheaper, greener options. Alzbeta/

What are people’s concerns when it comes to a natural burial?

Most people are a little nervous about the whole idea. Even though it’s something very traditional, it’s very different from people’s understanding right now. Most of the questions that are asked are, “Is this really OK to do? What do I need to do to be trained?” There are guides that can help with the process called death midwives, death doulas, death guides or funeral guides. People are a little nervous about touching a dead body. For the most part, dead bodies can be touched very easily and very lovingly.

The other question that comes out is, “What if I can’t do this? What if I want to do it but I can’t?” What I say is engage your church community. Reach out to them, talk to them, ask if there are members of the congregation who might participate. In the Jewish faith, they actually have a ceremony called the tahara where they come together upon death and care for the body. They wash it and they say prayers over it and they wrap it and they put it in the coffin. So if you are not able to do that yourself, you might ask your church body or your congregation, or you might hire a death midwife. They could guide you along the way on how to do this. So there shouldn’t be much fear in that.

Beth Hoeltke, Director of the Graduate School, Concordia Seminary

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How climate change is disrupting the global supply chain

Read the full story at e360.

The impact of the Covid pandemic on the global supply chain has been widely reported. But extreme weather, from floods to wildfires, is increasingly hammering ports, highways, and factories worldwide, and experts warn these climate-induced disruptions will only get worse.

The Nature of Fashion: Design for Decomposition

The Biomimicry Institute is leading a two-year, multi-million dollar project to demonstrate scalable new pathways for ~92 million tonnes of fashion waste discarded annually by embracing true decomposition—the way leaves break down into soil—that builds healthy ecosystems.

Have some renewable energy? An investor would like to speak with you.

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

After stagnating for more than a decade, demand for renewable energy investments is now surging, leading to questions about how long the current pace can continue.

Indian Energy Service Center: Support Activities Have Been Provided, but Goals and Performance Measures Should Be Defined

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Since the Department of the Interior established the Indian Energy Service Center in fiscal year 2015, the Service Center has undertaken efforts to improve federal management of Indian energy resources through three major activities:

  • Processing support. The Service Center provided staff assistance and funding to support some Interior offices involved in the management of Indian energy resources. For example, Service Center staff conducted engineering reviews for oil and gas drilling permits and processed backlogged revenue-sharing agreements that had delayed distribution of oil and gas royalties to tribes and individual Indian mineral owners.
  • Collaboration. The Service Center helped establish federal partner groups to improve coordination among federal agencies involved in Indian energy development. These groups were established in six areas of the country where Indian energy development is located.
  • Guidance and training. The Service Center developed and delivered training on the roles and responsibilities of Interior agencies involved in energy development to encourage consistency among agencies and field offices.
The Indian Energy Service Center Provides Training on Oil and Gas Operating Procedures
The Indian Energy Service Center provides training on oil and gas operating procedures

The Service Center has a comprehensive mission statement to guide its activities at a high level, but GAO found that the Service Center does not have shorter-term performance goals with related performance measures. GAO’s prior work highlights how goals and measures are important performance management practices because they help to focus activities and resources on achieving mission results. According to Service Center officials, they primarily track the Service Center’s progress through project completion reports and an annual accomplishments list, which includes outputs such as the number of tasks the Service Center completed for field offices. However, without performance goals and measures, it is not possible to tell whether the number of tasks completed exceeds or falls short of desired results. Establishing performance goals and measures should help the Service Center better assess how effectively it is performing and whether its actions have improved processes or outcomes for Indian energy development.

Why GAO Did This Study

Indian tribes and their members hold considerable energy resources and may use these resources to provide economic benefits and improve the well-being of their communities. To develop energy resources, tribes and their members work with multiple federal agencies involved in regulating development of Indian energy resources and distributing royalty payments.

GAO and others have previously found that developing Indian energy resources has been hindered by Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs’ inefficient management. In fiscal year 2015, Interior established the Indian Energy Service Center to improve its management of energy development in Indian country and increase collaboration between federal agencies.

This report examines (1) the Service Center’s activities since 2015 toward improving management of Indian energy resources, and (2) the extent to which the Service Center has followed performance management practices. GAO examined agency documentation and interviewed officials.

More water stewardship, less synthetic fertiliser: Diageo backs regenerative agriculture for Guinness barley

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

Beverage giant Diageo has committed to work ‘hand-in-hand’ with Irish barley farmers to support their transition to regenerative agricultural practices.

The economic opportunities and challenges of the net-zero transition

Read the full story at Ecocentricity.

In January, McKinsey & Company released a sweeping report that explores what a successful net-zero transition would entail. The report makes it clear that decarbonizing our economies is a worthwhile endeavor, but it also highlights the challenges inherent in making the shift. One particular challenge – ensuring that low-emission supply of energy matches shifts in demand – may prove to be make-or-break when it comes to solving the climate crisis.