CO2 capture and utilization (CCU) is an essential tool in the global carbon management toolkit. CCU can contribute to gigaton-scale removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and can serve as a source of carbon for many essential products made with carbon. It is important to understand, however, that effectively using CCU to help meet our climate goals means that we need to build an entirely new industry coupling carbon capture with carbon utilization. This report assesses the state of the emerging industry, identifies key actions that are needed, and projects market share for key products up to 2050 for a range of scenarios.
Climate change is putting pressure on one of science’s earliest fields of discovery: archaeology.
Drought in the Colorado River basin is re-exposing centuries-old artifacts as lakes and rivers become mudflats. And where droughts aren’t happening, floods are — sometimes in quick succession with drought.
Consider the Mississippi River basin. Two and a half years ago, the basin experienced record-high flooding that devastated riverbanks and adjacent land loaded with artifacts dating to Mississippian civilization. Today, the river is so dry, shipwrecks are popping up from watery graves, including in the Lower Mississippi where Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, followed by French explorers who plied the river while claiming the region for King Louis XIV, calling it “Louisiane.”
Beverage giants champion the circular model of recycling plastic bottles and using recycled content in new bottles as a way to reduce plastic waste and use of virgin plastic. But a new report from Greenpeace USA criticizes this model: calling for an industry-wide rethink and a complete shift to reuse and refill. ‘Companies can no longer use recycling as a smokescreen to divert attention from the systemic changes that are needed’ it says.
Sustainability has rapidly evolved from a check box exercise for many food companies to something that impacts decision making throughout the supply chain. But how are firms measuring sustainability, how reliable is industry data in this respect, and if everyone is using different standards and metrics, how can stakeholders make informed decisions?
“October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.”
But how do scientists know that this historical data is appropriate to use? How can they tell good data from bad? And how can you know whether records you may have, such as an ancestor’s journals or seashell collection, might be useful for science?
We recently published an article in the journal Bioscience that lays out a three-step approach for assessing the quality of historical observations. Using this approach, we believe that scientists can confidently use historical resources to inform studies reaching back to times and places where formal scientific data is not available.
A three-part test
Not long after Thoreau died, critics questioned the accuracy of his natural history observations. Writing in 1919, John Burroughs, a leading nature essayist of the time, offered perhaps the strongest criticisms.
Burroughs asserted that Thoreau’s “observations are frequently at fault, or wholly wide of the mark.” He questioned whether Thoreau knew basic facts, such as that hickory trees grew in Concord, Massachusetts, and that pine trees had seeds.
To determine whether Burroughs and other critics were right, we propose a straightforward three-step process.
– Is the information collected using rigorous methods that are well documented and clearly described? Modern researchers should be able to repeat them – for example, locating sites where past naturalists worked, making observations over the same number of days per week and following other key parts of their methods.
– How accurate are the observations, such as species identifications? Were they subject to any biases? Can researchers or naturalists replicate aspects of the observations that would be expected to remain consistent over time?
– Does the data have the precision, frequency and rigor that scholars need now? No data is right for all purposes. Modern researchers must decide whether the information can answer the question they are investigating.
Was Thoreau a good naturalist?
When we assessed the rigor, accuracy and utility of Thoreau’s natural history observations, we found that he was indeed a good naturalist.
Thoreau thoroughly documented the dates, locations and descriptions of observations that he made as he walked around Walden Pond and greater Concord. We can read in his journals how often and for how long he made these notes.
We compared Thoreau’s notes to modern observations and found that his observations of seasonal events such as leaf out, flowering, fruiting and bird arrivals were highly correlated with modern findings. This told us that Thoreau captured similar patterns.
For example, we can see that the order in which flowers bloom in spring around Concord is nearly the same in Thoreau’s journals as in modern observations. In both data sets, certain species flower early, while other species bloom late in the season.
Thoreau’s historical observations have tremendous utility in research. We and other researchers have used them to learn about the effects of climate change on plants and birds in Concord. Using Thoreau’s findings as a baseline, we have found that spring leaf out and flowering are occurring earlier, but the timing of bird arrivals is not changing much.
Beyond Thoreau and Walden
Researchers can use this approach to evaluate other historical observations. For example, between 1904 and 1969, American field biologist Joseph Grinnell and his colleagues recorded observations of species in California. Their team carefully described most of their methods and collected specimens and photographs to document their work.
However, their sampling methods were sometimes inconsistent, and researchers cannot locate some of their sampling routes. These uncertainties make the Grinnell team’s observations inappropriate to answer questions about changes in the abundance of some species. But their observations are excellent for answering questions about how climate change is altering the ranges of many species, including birds and small mammals like mice, voles and chipmunks that Grinnell’s team observed there in the past and that still occur there.
Museum specimens such as dried plants, bird nests and animal skins are another source of historical information. The specimens themselves remove uncertainty around species identification and preserve many physical characteristics that interest researchers.
However, the people who collected the specimens sometimes fail to record precise location information. And some collectors target particular species, locations or seasons, which can bias what they find.
It’s not uncommon to find historical data sets with little, if any, documentation about when, where and how the data was collected – for example, observations from someone’s daily walks, collections of photographs or a birder’s reports to an ornithological club. Even in these cases, it may be possible to determine how rigorous and accurate the data is.
For example, the frequency of photographs or observations may hint at how often someone made observations. And even poorly documented data can be useful to address some ecological questions, or could suggest new hypotheses that deserve further study.
Scientists are searching for more historical data. Following careful evaluation, we may be able to use this information to learn about the effects of climate change, land use practices and other environmental issues. People who have records that might be scientifically valuable should consider contacting ecologists, research stations, natural history clubs and the USA National Phenology Network, which collects, stores and shares data on the timing of seasonal events such as bird migration across the U.S.
A cold chain traceability system powered by an Internet of Things platform that will help keep food and medical products safe throughout transport as well as improve supply chain sustainability is being developed by Ericsson and DeltaTrak.
The first blade recycling plant project presented in Spain has received recognition from the European Union, granting aid of more than 12 million euros to the consortium in which the project is immersed.
The consortium led by Endesa and PreZero aims to allocate recycled material to the production of new products, thus closing the circle of a new useful life.
The new recycling plant that will be located in Cubillos del Sil (León), is part of Endesa’s Futur-e Plan for the Compostilla thermal power plant currently being dismantled.