Beyond Plastics urges consumers to avoid plastic gift cards this holiday season

Read the full story at Waste360.

With 17 percent of Americans hoping to receive gift cards for the holidays, Beyond Plastics is urging consumers to utilize alternatives to typical plastic PVC gift cards. The organization encourages the use of paper or electronic gift cards this holiday season.

Are Amazon delivery hubs making neighborhoods less healthy and more dangerous?

Read the full story from The Guardian.

Brooklyn residents are using air quality and traffic sensors to see how new warehouses affect their community.

New U-M president Ono lays out climate change, diversity and staffing goals

Read the full story at Bridge Michigan.

The University of Michigan will invest $300 million into “high-performing” companies that demonstrate commitments to the environment, and participate in a Delta Air Lines alternative fuel program, new president Santa Ono announced Thursday morning at an annual leadership breakfast

Fertilizers and pesticides could limit pollination by changing how bees sense flowers

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Bees are more likely to avoid flowers sprayed with fertilizers and pesticides because of the way these chemicals alter a plant’s natural electric field, according to a new study (PNAS Nexus 2022, DOI: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac230). Although bees typically rely on sight and smell to find nectar and pollen, they also depend on electrical signals generated by ions moving through the plant cells. Bees use them to determine which flowers are worth landing on.

But agricultural compounds can induce a stress response in the plant, which can temporarily alter these invisible electrical cues, says Ellard Hunting, a sensory biophysicist at the University of Bristol, who led the study. Hunting and his team found that a commercially available liquid fertilizer and the pesticide imidacloprid can increase the electric potential of flowers for up to 25 min. “That’s substantially longer” than natural phenomena such as wind that can also cause these signals to fluctuate, Hunting says.

Empowering social media users to assess content helps fight misinformation

Read the full story from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When fighting the spread of misinformation, social media platforms typically place most users in the passenger seat. Platforms often use machine-learning algorithms or human fact-checkers to flag false or misinforming content for users.

“Just because this is the status quo doesn’t mean it is the correct way or the only way to do it,” says Farnaz Jahanbakhsh, a graduate student in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

She and her collaborators conducted a study in which they put that power into the hands of social media users instead.

Urban planning is now on the front line of the climate crisis. This is what it means for our cities and towns

by Barbara Norman, University of Canberra

International climate talks in Egypt known as COP27 are into their second week. Thursday is Solutions Day at the summit. Recognising that urban planning is now a front-line response to climate change, discussions will focus on sustainable cities and transport, green buildings and resilient infrastructure.

The COP26 Glasgow Pact expects countries to update planning at all levels of government to take climate change and adaptations into account. Urban planning is also included in the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The Australian Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements similarly reinforced the urgency of planning for climate change. Its report recommended making it mandatory for land-use planning decisions to consider natural disaster risks.

Australian communities have been through a series of recent disasters. We have had extremes of drought, bushfires and now storms and floods. Some towns have been evacuated repeatedly.

Land-use planning needs to be updated to respond to a changing climate. This means working with nature, involving communities and, importantly, including the tools needed to plan for risk and uncertainty. Examples include scenario planning, carbon assessments of developments, water-sensitive urban design and factoring in the latest climate science into everyday decisions on land use.

We can’t avoid the issue of resettlement

Climate-driven resettlement, in my view, will be one of the most significant social challenges of this century. The IPCC estimates that “3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change […] unsustainable development patterns are increasing exposure of ecosystems and people to climate hazards”.

The costs are staggering. The OECD estimates, for example, that in the past two decades alone, the cost of storms reached US$1.4 trillion globally.

In my review of recent climate-induced resettlement around the world, two important lessons are:

  1. it must actively involve the community
  2. it takes time.

The relocation of houses in Grantham, Queensland, is a positive example of resettlement. The repeated floods across eastern Australia – and the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 – show why a national conversation with urban and regional communities on this very challenging issue needs to start very soon.

Many houses in Grantham were relocated after devastating floods. Dave Hunt/AAP

What are the essential actions for planning?

Based in part on interviews with urban leaders around the world for my new book, Urban Planning for Climate Change, I have put forward ten essential actions. Particularly relevant to Australia are the following actions:

  • map the climate risks and overlay these on existing and future urban zones to identify the “hot spots” – then publicly share the data
  • make it mandatory to consider natural disaster and climate risks in all land-use planning decisions for new development and redevelopment
  • plan for the cumulative impacts of climate change on communities and their consequences – this includes planning resettlement with those at risk
  • provide an inclusive platform for community conversations about carbon-neutral development and adaptation options – such as climate-resilient housing and smart local renewable energy hubs – together with up-to-date, accessible information on predicted climate risks so communities and industry can make informed decisions
  • invest in strategic planning that integrates action on carbon-neutral development and climate adaptation. Do not build housing any more on flood-prone land or areas of extreme fire risk.

The outcome must be that policymakers and the public have a clear understanding of where the risks are, where to build, where not to build, and the range of options in between.

For example, not building on the coastal edge does not mean quarantining that land. It means allowing activities, such as recreation, that can withstand increasing coastal flooding, as well as coastal-dependent uses such as fisheries and coastal landscapes designed to absorb storm surges.

What are the next steps for Australia?

Architects, engineers, planners and builders around the world are working with communities to make development more sustainable. They need support from all levels of government.

To better plan for climate change, we in Australia can take a few key steps:

1. Update the 2011 National Urban Policy

An updated national policy should incorporate the latest climate science, national emission targets, energy policies and adaptation plans. This will help ensure new development, redevelopment and critical infrastructure are designed and built to be carbon-neutral and adapt to a changing climate.

2. Audit planning at all levels to ensure it considers climate change

The federal government should host a meeting of state and territory planning and infrastructure ministers as soon as possible after COP27. Climate change needs to be a mandatory consideration in all future land-use planning. The ministers should commission an audit of all planning legislation and major city and regional centre plans to ensure this happens.

Engagement with wider industry will be important to ensure effective implementation. Partnering in demonstration projects that showcase affordable, climate-resilient urban development can help promote the uptake of leading practice. Examples range from affordable retrofitting of housing with renewable energy solutions to recycled building materials and heat-reducing landscaping.

Extending this approach to whole neighbourhoods and suburbs is the next step.

3. Engage with the region

The federal government should continue its positive first steps on climate change with our regional neighbours, including Indonesia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations. This long-term work needs to include support for developing climate-resilient towns and cities, as well as for resettlement.

We can learn from each other on this challenging pathway, which will connect us more than ever as a region.

4. Ensure all levels of government work together on strategic funding

Funding is needed to develop climate-resilient plans for communities across Australia. This will help minimise future impacts and ensure we are building back better now and for future generations.

Most of the developments being approved today will still be here in 2050. This means these developments must factor in climate change now.

We now have a national government that is committed to action on climate change, thank goodness. Much is being done on renewable energy and electrification of the transport system. It is time to turn our attention to making our built environment more climate-resilient.

Barbara Norman, Emeritus Professor of Urban & Regional Planning, University of Canberra

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

A novel look at the global footprint of food uncovers some eye-opening insights

Read the full story in Anthropocene Magazine.

Almost half the cumulative environmental impact of our food systems derives from just five countries. This, plus a host of other revelations about food impacts, have been shared in a new study, which its authors say could help tailor efforts to make global production more sustainable.

How to build a circular economy for wind turbine blades through policy and partnerships

Download the position paper.

The wind industry is committed to achieve the full recyclability of our turbines in line with the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan and the ambitions of the EU Green Deal.

So the wind industry is calling for a Europe-wide landfill ban on decommissioned wind turbine blades by 2025. This means the industry commits to re-use, recycle or recover 100% of decommissioned blades. This landfill ban would accelerate the development of sustainable recycling technologies for composite materials.

The position paper further highlights four pillars of action to achieve full recyclability:

  • Increasing funding on research and development (R&D) for evaluating and scaling-up diversified blade recycling technologies (with a focus on industrial upscaling and commerciailsation);
  • Incentivising the use of recycled composite materials in new products;
  • Increasing funding on R&D for the development and use of new (recyclable) blade materials; and
  • Establishing a European cross-sectorial platform (including all composite waste producing sectors) and sharing good practice.

The wind industry will develop an industry roadmap further detailing the steps required to accelerate wind turbine blade circularity. This roadmap will focus on four workstreams:

  • implementing the landfill ban,
  • achieving full recyclability of existing blades in the future,
  • making future blades fully circular and
  • engaging with other sectors.

It will require commitment from policy makers, other composite users and recovery and recycling players to make these commitments a reality.

American Clean Power Association fact sheets on disposing of end-of-life renewable energy equipment

The American Clean Power Association has developed fact sheets for wind turbine and solar panel recycling and disposal. Each fact sheet covers reuse, recycling, and disposal options.

State-by-State PFAS Regulatory Criteria Map

Integral developed these interactive map resources as an easy-to-use PFAS regulatory reference that is current, complete, and supported by the literature. Click on individual states to learn more about their specific PFAS regulations for drinking water, groundwater, surface water, and fish tissue. A soil advisory map is coming soon.