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Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse gas’

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Photo: 525 West 52nd Street
The space on top of the 525W52 building in New York features plants, lounge chairs and a view of the Hudson. Nice place to live.

Practically paralyzed by the headlines today, I think I will write about green rooftops.

That’s while I try to absorb the “news of fresh disasters” (to quote Beyond the Fringe) and figure out what one person can do. Got to remind myself that the majority of human beings are just living day to day, taking care of their families and their communities, and trying to make the world a little better instead of a lot worse.

So, green rooftops.

Kelly DiNardo writes at the New York Times, “When David Michaels moved to Chicago this year, he chose the Emme apartment building in part because of the third-floor green roof, which has a lawn, an area for grilling, fire pits and a 3,000-square-foot vegetable garden.

“ ‘The green space was a huge factor in choosing this apartment,’ Mr. Michaels said. ‘My wife and I are out there every other night, grilling or relaxing. And we like that they host classes out there.’

“The Emme actually has two rooftop gardens — the one visible to residents on a deck on the third floor and a 5,000-square-foot garden on the roof of the 14-story building. Both are run by the Roof Crop, an urban farm that grows food for restaurants on a handful of roofs in Chicago. Residents at the Emme can also subscribe to regular bundles of rooftop-grown fruits and vegetables.

“As concerns about climate change and dwindling natural resources grow, green roofs have become increasingly popular. The Toronto-based organization Green Roofs for Healthy Cities estimates an increase of about 15 percent in the number of green roofs in North America since 2013.

“Replacing black asphalt and shingles with plants can lower the surrounding air temperature, filter dirty storm water and reduce a building’s energy use.

While it is difficult to calculate the savings, as utility costs vary from city to city, the National Research Council of Canada estimates a green roof can reduce air-conditioning use in a building by as much as 75 percent. …

“As understanding of the benefits grows, more cities around the world are passing green roof legislation. In 2010 Copenhagen began requiring green roofs on all new commercial buildings with a roof slope of less than 30 degrees. In 2016, the city of Córdoba in Argentina issued a bylaw that directed all rooftops — new or existing — of more than 1,300 square feet to be turned into green roofs. The same year, San Francisco began requiring that 15 to 30 percent of roof space on new buildings incorporate solar panels, green roofs or both. More recently, the New York City Council passed a suite of measures to reduce greenhouse gases, including a requirement for green roofs, solar panels or a combination of both on newly constructed buildings. …

“Toronto was the first city in North America to pass a green roof law, in 2009, requiring new buildings or additions that are greater than 21,000 square feet to cover between 20 and 60 percent of their buildings with vegetation. … Since the law was enacted, roughly 640 green roofs, covering more than five million square feet collectively, have been constructed, effectively changing Toronto’s architectural DNA and making the city a leader in the green roof movement.

“Simply put, a green roof is one that allows for the growth of vegetation, but the process is more involved than plopping down a few potted plants. Typically, a green or living roof is constructed of several layers including a waterproof membrane, a root barrier, a drainage layer, a growing medium — soil is too heavy — and plants. …

“Of course, green roofs are not entirely new.

“ ‘We’ve been using soil and plants as a roofing material for thousands of years,’ said Steven Peck, the founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. ‘The Vikings would flip their boats over and cover them in sod because it’s a great insulator. What’s new is the research the Germans have done.’ …

“In the 1970s, German horticulturists, construction companies and others began developing waterproofing technologies and researching blends of growing mediums that would be lighter than soil. In the 1980s, Germany passed a mix of local and federal laws encouraging green roof development and today the country features approximately 925,000,000 square feet of living roof.”

More at the New York Times, here.

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After my two half-Swedish grandchildren were off breast milk — or even before — they started on bottles of a ground-up oat concoction that I’m told all Swedish children drink rather than cow’s milk. Välling. We can’t get along without it.

So the following story from the Guardian is not as curious to me as it might be to others.

Tom Levitt reports, “Adam Arnesson, 27, is not your usual milk producer. For starters, he doesn’t have any dairy cattle. Our first photo opportunity is in the middle of one of his fields of oats.

“Until last year all these oats went into animal feed, either sold or fed to the sheep, pigs and cows he rears on his organic farm in Örebro county, central Sweden.

“With the support of Swedish drinks company Oatly, they are now being used to produce an oat milk drink …

“ ‘The natural thing for us would be to increase our livestock numbers, but I don’t want a factory,’ he says. ‘The number of animals has to be emotionally right so I know each of them.’ …

“The rearing of livestock and meat consumption accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Alongside carbon emissions from deforestation (for pasture or crops to feed animals), the livestock sector is also the single biggest human-related source of methane (from cattle) and nitrous oxide emissions (from fertiliser and manure), two particularly potent greenhouse gases. …

“ ‘I had a lot of arguments on social media with other farmers, because I thought what Oatly was doing could bring better opportunities to our sector,’ says Arnesson, who decided to contact the company in 2015 to see if they could help him switch away from livestock. …

“After the first year of producing oats, analysis by researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences found that Arnesson’s farm was producing double the amount of calories for human consumption per hectare and had halved the climate impact of each calorie produced. …

“ ‘I don’t want to take pride from having a tractor or producing 10 tonnes of wheat or a sow with 10 piglets, but in feeding and preserving the planet – that is one of the big things I want as a farmer to be involved in changing,’ says Arnesson.

“Oatly said it plans to work with three more farmers to demonstrate the environmental benefits of switching from livestock to more crop production. But Arnesson says livestock farmers need government support in order to do so in large numbers.”

More at the Guardian , here.

Photo: Tom Levitt for the Guardian 
Adam Arnesson in a field of oats at his organic farm in Örebro country, Sweden.

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Photo: Prezi
Something Shakespeare didn’t have to worry about: expensive energy for productions and emissions that increase global warming.

Christy Romer over at the UK website Arts Professional recently posted on the money British arts groups are saving by cutting their energy emissions — a win for them and a win for the environment.

“Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) have saved £8.7m by cutting greenhouse gas emissions since 2012/13, according to a major new report by environmental charity Julie’s Bicycle. …

“The report draws on data submitted via an online reporting tool, an evaluation survey and case studies, ultimately concluding environmental action is making the sector more financially resilient.

“Compared to doing nothing, the reduction in energy emissions has saved £8.7m since 2012/13. The report predicts that if the 4.5% annual decrease continues until 2019/20, emissions will be 46% lower than in 2012/13 and £54m will have been saved in energy costs.

“Alongside a fall in the overall emissions output, and a fall in the amount of electricity and gas used, there has been a 210% growth in the generation of on-site renewable energy since the project started in 2012/13. …

“Julie’s Bicycle pledges to develop Arts Council England’s (ACE) approach to environmental sustainability at the operational, planning and policy development levels. …

“Darren Henley, Chief Executive of ACE, added: ‘Our collaboration with Julie’s Bicycle is introducing us all to new ways of working. … We all believe that art and culture can make the world a better place; this programme shows how our actions can make a real difference.’ ”

More at Arts Professional, here.

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Erik’s running buddy passed along a BBC story suggesting that cutting back on meat could have value for the planet.

Interestingly, that was the premise of Frances Moore Lappé‘s 1971 bestseller, Diet for a Small Planet, which my sister got me interested in when she was a vegetarian.

At the BBC, environment analyst Roger Harrabin notes research that confirms some of Lappé’s predictions.

“Research from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities estimates greenhouse gases from food production will go up 80% if meat and dairy consumption continues to rise at its current rate. That will make it harder to meet global targets on limiting emissions.

“The study urges eating two portions of red meat and seven of poultry per week. However that call comes as the world’s cities are seeing a boom in burger restaurants. …

“If [the trend] continues, more and more forest land or fields currently used for arable crops will be converted for use by livestock as the world’s farmers battle to keep up with demand.

“Deforestation will increase carbon emissions, and increased livestock production will raise methane levels and wider fertiliser use will further accelerate climate change. The lead researcher, Bojana Bajzelj from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘There are basic laws of biophysics that we cannot evade.’

“The average efficiency of livestock converting plant feed to meat is less than 3%, and as we eat more meat, more arable cultivation is turned over to producing feedstock for animals that provide meat for humans.” Read more here. And consider going in for mushroom burgers.

I only ever made the eggplant casserole Diet for a Small Planet, but it sure was yummy.

Photo: CiteLighter-Cards
In 1971, Frances Moore Lappé wrote that raising animals for food takes resources better used elsewhere. It can also put too much methane into the atmosphere.

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Happy President’s Day! Why are you working?

​According to Mother Jones, economist David Rosnick has “found that dialing back the amount of time the average person works by 0.5 percent per year would mean a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. If you work 40 hours a week, that would mean shaving about 12 minutes off the average work week per year. Working one minute less per month seems pretty doable. Basically, we’re using a whole lot more of everything when we’re working – electricity, gasoline, heating, air conditioning, etc. Leisure requires less greenhouse-gas-producing activity.”

I forget were I found this story first, but you can read more at Mother Jones, here.

Photograph: http://yasmincolemanportraits.wordpress.com/
“Lazy Bones, sleeping in the shade. How you ‘spect to get your corn meal made?”
(Hoagy Carmichael)

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In case anyone thought that this blog wasn’t eclectic enough, I’m linking today to a story about garbage collection in Taiwan.

“For several years, Taiwan’s garbage trucks have played classical music as they travel through crowded residential areas, drawing forth residents with their garbage. Conceived by Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration as a way to decrease pests and odors in outdoor public trash disposal areas, the trucks musically notify residents that they are to bring their garbage directly to the trucks, ensuring that the garbage never sits on the curb attracting vermin and releasing odors.”

I wonder how two-career families who aren’t home to respond to the music deal with this. Read more on Taiwan’s approach at New York’s classical music station, WQXR.

Meanwhile, at Los Alamos, Americans show they can innovate in garbage collection, too. I think my grandson will like this truck.

 

 


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