BAMBOO AS A MEANS OF CARBON SEQUESTRATION

This article looks into bamboo as a means of carbon sequestration. It is based on a recent interview that I read with Dr Hans Friederich, who is the Director General of INBAR. You can find a link to it here.

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Going back to square one with bamboo, it is a grass, not a tree. This enables it to grow rapidly.

This means that unlike trees which need to be felled, bamboo can be harvested like a crop, after which it will grow back vigorously.

This makes it an ideal means of carbon sequestration.

Bamboos can reach maturity in 5 years, meaning that they are able to keep up with rapid and ever-increasing demand.

Bamboos produce excellent charcoal and so can help to reduce deforestation worldwide, which is itself a significant source of carbon emissions.

Please see below for a useful insight from Dr Hans Friederich:

Apart from charcoal, there are many other long-lasting products that can be made from bamboo, and while they remain intact, they hold onto carbon the giant grass sequestered while still on the farm.

Bamboo is a highly sustainable material with thousands of end uses, to name but a few, this includes: textiles, building materials and packaging containers. These products are high quality and durable, as well as sustainably produced.

These advantages properties, combined with the looming and as yet unresolved threat posed by climate change, mean that bamboo is increasingly looking like a promising solution for meeting societal needs whilst simultaneously sequestering carbon.

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo as a means of carbon sequestration.

Bamboo’s rapid pace of growth and ability to be harvested annually after 5 years worth of growing time make it an ideal crop for material intensive industries in the 21st century.

With the additional capability to store carbon within the thousands of durable products that can be made from bamboo, this carbon sequestration capacity should be seized upon as a key enabler of sustainability.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to promote the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

INCREDIBLE BAMBOO ARCHITECTURE

This article looks into the Bamboo Eye Pavilion. This was a highly sustainable structure created for the 2019 International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing.

Bamboo eye pavillion 1

It was designed by Italian architect Mauricio Cardenas Laverde. The structure is 1,600 m2 and is made entirely of bamboo, with 5000 poles of the moso variety required for the build.

The rationale behind the INBAR pavilion at the exhibition was to showcase bamboo to China and the world as the sustainable building material of choice.

Bamboo eye pavillion 2

Bamboo is a resource that grows rapidly and has a high tensile strength. It is lightweight and is able to replace steel and concrete for many applications.

As you can see from the image below, the structure was robust enough to support the weight of a green roof on top of it.

Bamboo eye pavillion 3

There is a nice time lapse video below, which shows the construction of the pavilion.

What you need to know

This article looked into the Bamboo Eye Pavilion. This was a structure created in 2019 for an exhibition in China.

It is a further demonstration of the attractive properties that bamboo can bring to the built environment.

Whether it be in emerging markets which are building social and economic infrastructure for the first time, or developed markets, which are upgrading their infrastructure and aiming to do so as sustainably as possible. Bamboo should be the material of choice to create successful, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing buildings for the 21st century.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to promote the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

BAMBOO AND THE NITROGEN CYCLE

This article looks into bamboo and the nitrogen cycle.

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It is based on the findings of a recently released paper by Song, et al you can find a link to this paper below.

Nitrogen addition increased CO2 uptake more than non-CO2 greenhouse gases emissions in a Moso bamboo forest

To set the scene as to why this is important, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to more than one-quarter of anthropogenic global warming. This is why research into this area is so important.

Their study quantified the effects of nitrogen deposition on biomass increment, soil organic carbon, and nitrous oxide and methane fluxes and, ultimately, the net greenhouse budget at an ecosystem level for a Moso bamboo forest in China.

Their research showed that nitrogen addition significantly increased woody biomass increment and soil organic carbon decomposition, increased nitrous oxide emission, and reduced soil methane uptake.

Their overall finding for a carbon budget for a Moso bamboo forest was the following:

Despite higher N2O and CH4 fluxes, the ecosystem remained a net GHG sink of 26.8 to 29.4 megagrams of CO2 equivalent hectare−1 year−1 after 4 years of N addition against 22.7 hectare−1 year−1 without N addition. The total net carbon benefits induced by atmospheric N deposition at current rates of 30 kilograms of N hectare−1 year−1 over Moso bamboo forests across China were estimated to be of 23.8 teragrams of CO2 equivalent year−1.

Their data provides new evidence of the effects of nitrogen deposition on net ecosystem carbon uptake of Moso bamboo forests.

What you need to know

This article looked into bamboo and the nitrogen cycle.

It was based on a recently published academic paper in Science Advances.

Their research showed that Nitrogen addition can positively influence a number of important parameters.

Their research also showed how important the significant carbon storage benefits of Moso Bamboo are.

Overall, this research is important in solidifying bamboo’s reputation as the world’s most sustainable material.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to promote the benefits of bamboo as a sustainable resource?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

WASTED TIME AND SUSTAINABILITY

This article looks into wasted time and sustainability. Climate change has risen in importance in recent years, but is it possible that a lack of action on the initial warnings has left too much to do in too little time?

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This article was inspired by an excellent comment piece in Nature by Niklas Höhne, et al. that I read recently. You can find a link to this below.

Emissions: world has four times the work or one-third of the time

Reading this left me with a feeling of disappointment, as so much time has been wasted, leaving a lot of catching up to do. The 2020s will have to be a decade unlike any other.

Their paper was based on a synthesis of all ten editions of the Emissions Gap Report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

This is an annual report that examines the difference between what countries have pledged to do individually to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and what they need to do collectively to meet agreed temperature goals — the ‘gap’.

Let’s begin by analysing their findings, unfortunately, they do not point towards a successful response:

Our analysis shows that the gap has widened by as much as four times since 2010.”

I will post their explanation in full below:

There are three reasons for this. First, global annual greenhouse-gas emissions increased by 14% between 2008 and 2018. This means that emissions now have to decline faster than was previously estimated, because it is cumulative emissions that determine the long-term temperature increase. Second, the international community now agrees that it must ensure a lower global temperature rise than it decided ten years ago, because climate risks are better understood. And third, countries’ new climate pledges have been insufficient.”

I liked the fact that they were highlighting the importance of cumulative emissions. In the rush of net zero by 2050 commitments, I think a lot of people are forgetting that the various pathways to net zero in 2050 matter. It is the intermediate targets and cumulative emissions that matter.

It was one of the following paragraphs that struck me most, and I will paste it in full below:

Had serious climate action begun in 2010, the cuts required to meet the emissions levels for 2°C would have been around 2% per year, on average, up to 2030. Instead, emissions increased. Consequently, the required cuts from 2020 are now more than 7% per year on average for 1.5°C (close to 3% for 2°C).”

The only thing you can take away from the above paragraph is a feeling of wasted time. The annual cuts required are now significant, requiring rapid alterations to economic and social systems as well as the uptake of new technology.

The authors close with the following ominous statement:

“The gap is so huge that governments, the private sector and communities need to switch into crisis mode, make their climate pledges more ambitious and focus on early and aggressive action. Otherwise, the Paris agreement’s long-term goals are out of reach. We do not have another ten years.”

What you need to know

This article looked into wasted time and sustainability.

It was based on a recent paper in Nature that analysed historical Emissions Gap Report data provided by UNEP.

The paper’s findings paint a bleak picture of global climate action in recent decades. Much time has been wasted, which has made the challenge between now and 2030 all the more challenging.

We have to hope that the 2020’s go down as a historic decade of climate action, unlike the preceding decades, that were largely squandered.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to limit global temperature increases to below 1.5°C?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

DRAWDOWN 2020 UPDATE

From the moment I first heard about the Project Drawdown initiative in 2017, I was excited about it. I was confident that it would make a major contribution to the climate change literature.

Drawdown will be a historic moment, the moment when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. For all of the attention that climate change has received of late, global emissions have continued to rise.

drawdown 2020 image

The project’s research findings have recently been updated, to keep them as fresh as possible. What is more 2 scenarios have been forecast for how things might play out.

You can find a link to the updated research here.

In Drawdown scenario 1, this should be seen as ambitious compared to today’s commitments, but it does not reach Drawdown within the period 2020-2050, rather this takes place in the mid 2060s. This should be seen as a scenario that is compatible with limiting temperature rises to 2oc.

In Drawdown scenario 2, this is much bolder, with faster and more pervasive adoption of the climate solutions outlined in the research project. With this effort, Drawdown is reached in the mid 2040s. This should be seen as a scenario that is compatible with limiting temperature rises to 1.5oc.

Scenarios

The top 10 solutions in Drawdown scenario 1 are as follows:

  1. Reduced Food Waste
  2. Health & Education
  3. Plant-Rich Diets
  4. Refrigerant Management
  5. Tropical Forest Restoration
  6. Onshore Wind Turbines
  7. Alternative Refrigerants
  8. Utility-Scale Photovoltaics
  9. Improved Clean Cookstoves
  10. Distributed Solar Photovoltaics

The top 10 solutions in Drawdown scenario 2 are as follows:

  1. Offshore Wind Turbines
  2. Utility-Scale Photovoltaics
  3. Reduced Food Waste
  4. Plant-Rich Diets
  5. Health & Education
  6. Tropical Forest Restoration
  7. Improved Clean Cookstoves
  8. Distributed Solar Photovoltaics
  9. Refrigerant Management
  10. Alternative Refrigerants

Another reason to be optimistic, is that with other potential solutions, such as those that are focused on reducing industrial emissions or capping fugitive methane, the world might reach Drawdown even sooner.

What you need to know

This article looked into the recently updated Drawdown 2020 review.

The new review includes 2 scenarios, which highlight the top 76 solutions needed to limit temperature rises to below 2oc and ideally 1.5oc.

In this article we looked into the top 10 solutions from each scenario. The lists are quite similar, but solar PV makes a big jump in the more ambitious scenario 2. This shows how important it is to focus on doing positive things, instead of merely reducing negative aspects.

I think a really important takeaway should be that the solutions exist now to create a low carbon future where greenhouse gas emissions are falling and not rising. We don’t have to wait for a silver bullet or technological breakthrough. All that is needed is the courage to act.

Overall, this is a highly accessible research project that should be read by everyone.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make Drawdown a reality?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

SUSTAINABLE AVIATION

Aviation has been in the news a lot recently. So, I thought I would write something positive about how this industry can become more sustainable and be responsible for less carbon emissions in the future.

Jp Valery

Most of the figures for today’s article come from Project Drawdown, which was a 2017 initiative to map the top 100 climate change solutions.

In their list of solutions, sustainable aviation was ranked as the 43rd most effective solution to reverse global warming.

They highlight that at a minimum, aviation is responsible for 2.5% of global emissions. I have a second article in the pipeline where I will talk about the impact of radiative forcing and how this means that the real figure is likely to be higher than 2.5%.

They point towards some good news, with the industry increasing in efficiency:

From 2000 to 2013, the fuel efficiency of domestic flights in the United States increased by more than 40 percent. Over the same period, fuel efficiency of international flights, which use heavier jets, improved by 17 percent.”

Engines are a key area of focus that can help make aviation more sustainable. They highlight that:

Engines with high rates of air bypass improve fuel efficiency by roughly 15 percent. For the engine maker Pratt & Whitney, adding a gear to its turbofan engine design cut fuel use by an additional 16 percent.”

Some design changes can be quite small, but have powerful effects:

What Boeing calls ‘winglets’ and Airbus calls ‘skarklets’ – upturned birdlike tips that improve a wing’s aerodynamics – trim fuel use by up to 5 percent on both new models and retrofitted older vessels.”

NASA is working together with universities and corporate engineering teams to bring about the next generation of sustainable aircraft. The eye-catching design below is called the N+3. The authors point towards evidence which suggests that dramatic redesigns such as this could lead to efficiency gains of 50-60%.

N+3

Interestingly, the authors do not point towards drop in biofuels as a silver bullet, instead they say that:

“The impact biofuels could have on aviation emissions remains uncertain.”

Overall, the research in Drawdown indicated that sustainable aviation could reduce CO2 emissions by 5.05 gigatons, for a net cost of $662.4 billion, but produce net savings of $3.19 trillion. This is a powerful solution capable of reducing a significant amount of carbon emissions.

What you need to know

This article looked into how the aviation industry can become more sustainable.

It was based on the 2017 Drawdown initiative that mapped the top 100 climate change solutions.

There are design solutions both small and large that can increase the efficiency of aeroplanes.

Many of the most advanced solutions are in their infancy. They need to be scaled up rapidly, so that the aviation industry can join in with other industries that are rapidly decarbonising.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to make aviation more sustainable?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

HOW BAD ARE EMAILS?

This article looks into how bad emails are. Is it possible that this seemingly harmless activity, when repeated by billions of people every day is having an outsized impact on the environment?

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The data that I am basing this article on is largely from Mike Berners-Lee’s 2010 book How Bad are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything. I really enjoyed reading this book and it is one of my all-time favourite books on sustainability.

His research revealed that the average spam email has a footprint equivalent to 0.3g of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e).

That is lower than the carbon intensity of the average email. According to Mike an average email, has a footprint of 4g of CO2e. This is created because of the power drawn for data centres and computers when sending, filtering and reading messages.

There are emails with a carbon intensity significantly higher than average. Emails with large attachments and high-resolution images have a carbon footprint of 50g CO2e. Significantly higher than average.

According to Mike Berners-Lee’s estimates, a typical year of incoming emails adds 136kg of emissions to a person’s carbon footprint. This is the equivalent of driving 200 miles in an average car. Whilst each individual email may only be responsible for a small quantity of carbon emissions, when repeated often by many people, these emissions add up.

At a global scale, the world’s data centres account for three percent of electricity consumption and about two percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. This gives data centres around the same carbon footprint as the aviation industry, when the impact of radiative forcing is not taken into account.

What you need to know

This article looked into how bad emails are for the environment.

We looked into the wide variety of carbon intensities associated with emails.

We looked into how these small releases of carbon emissions multiply over time. This is not helped by the seemingly endless proliferation of emailing in society.

We looked into how data centres are on par with the aviation industry in terms of carbon emissions. It seems strange that there is not more public focus on these emissions. I think the public struggle to make the link between their clicks online and the carbon emissions associated with that online activity.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to help make the connection between emails and carbon emissions from data centres?

 Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby