California’s Great Wildlife crossing project launches, plus Sandhill Crane wetlands restored in Ohio. MIT’s Climate Grand Challenge, and the rise of the “Right-to-Repair” movement.
California’s Great Wildlife Crossing Project Launches, Sandhill Crane Wetlands Restored in Ohio, MIT’s Climate Grand Challenge, The “Right-to-Repair” Movement
THE RISE OF THE “RIGHT-TO-REPAIR” MOVEMENT
More than 53.6 million tons of e-scrap were generated internationally in 2019 and 17.4 percent of that was recycled, according to the United Nations. One way to increase recycling rates would be to make it easier to repair electronic devices.This wasn’t always the case. Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a support company for people looking to repair their own devices, said, “Back in the day, that used to be normal. If you bought a television, you could go to a shop or repair it yourself.”
Now, it takes individual American states to enact legislation granting people the authority to repair that which they purchased. The information technology asset disposition industry has been fighting since 2003 to make this reality. Eric Ingebretsen, the chief commercial officers of TES, an ITAD company “It’s a fundamental right to be able to repair your own devices.” In 2014, Wiens helped to introduce the first federal right-to-repair legislation. It failed back then. But now…as of 2021, 25 states considered right-to-repair laws in 2021.
And just last summer, the Biden administration issued an executive order directing the Federal Trade Commission to draft regulations limiting OEMs’ (original equipment manufacturers) ability to restrict independent repairs of their products. One of the directive’s primary goals is to make it easier and cheaper to repair items by limiting manufacturers from barring self-repairs or third-party repairs.
Recently, Apple and Microsoft have switched their positions and now support the movement. Both have begun offering parts, services and manuals on how to repair their devices. Said, Wiens, “People should have access to the tools, information and parts needed to repair their devices.”
Why does this matter to us? If consumers could more easily repair devices, advocates say, they wouldn’t have to replace them as frequently, reducing reliance on the resource-intensive production process and cutting down on electronic waste.
SANDHILL CRANE WETLANDS RESTORED IN OHIO
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is behind a year-long restoration project that restored 280 acres in northwest Ohio to its original state as a native wet prairie habitat. According to TNC, the project, which was completed this month, “is the largest effort in the region to return this type of rare wetland habitat to the landscape.” Funding for the multi-year effort was provided by the Maumee Area of Concern and THE Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Programs, two multi-stakeholder community affiliations.
The goal was to restore a portion of the historic Irwin Wet Prairie, which played a role in naturally treating nutrient runoff into nearby streams which led to Lake Erie. The Irwin Wet Prairie was once over 10 miles long and provided a habitat for songbirds, waterfowl, amphibians and reptiles.
This portion, called Sandhill Crane Wetlands, strengthens a 13,000 acre corridor of protected land. In this particular area of Ohio, the loss of this wetland had resulted in increased fertilizers and contaminants reaching Lake Erie, a vital source of drinking water for 11 million people.
Why does the Ohio Wetland Prairie Restoration matter to us? Looking at this restoration project through the lens of climate solutions, wetlands act as nature’s kidneys. Alexis Sakas, natural infrastructure director for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio commented, “What’s also significant, is that we’re improving the ability for our lands to become more resilient as we continue to experience impacts from climate change.”
CALIFORNIA’S GREAT WILDLIFE CROSSING PROJECT LAUNCHES
On Earth Day, 2022, the State of California began construction on the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing project. The land bridge being built over the 101 freeway in Agoura Hills, just north of Los Angeles, CA is designed to connect two major, southern California wildlife corridors which were once one. Human habitation, but more significantly, human transportation routes and mobility infrastructures have disrupted normal wildlife movement, as well as opportunities to maintain biodiversity since the advent of automobiles in the late 19th century.
This project is a part of a “decades-long effort to preserve open space and create habitat connections for animal populations whose continued existence is threatened by human mobility and transportation infrastructure.”
Don’t think of this as a bridge in the conventional sense. It will be made to mimic the surrounding vegetation and topography. In fact, the soil and vegetation that combine to create this vital habitat go well beyond conventional fill or structural overburden to create an ecological stitch from one side of the freeway to the other. This crossing will be managed and evaluated as a complete system, taking into account the continuity of wildlife movement across this new landscape as well as the re-establishment of acres of critical habitat that will be occupied by a wide array of species both large and small.
Project partners include Caltrans, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Federation and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. The project has been three years in development, collaborating with scientists, researchers, and academics to infuse the design with the best available knowledge and advances in related fields of study.
Why does the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing project matter to us? It’s one more step in re-integrating nature with human activity. It’s also one more step in maintaining biodiversity, a key component in saving the climate.
MIT’S CLIMATE GRAND CHALLENGE COMPETITION WINNERS ANNOUNCED
MIT today announced the five flagship projects selected in its first-ever Climate Grand Challenge competition. The competition’s five projects are “targeting the world’s toughest climate riddles.” They were selected following a rigorous two-year competition.
The winners of the first-ever Climate Grand Challenge (CGC) will become multiyear flagship research projects, helping define a new research agenda focused on addressing complex unsolved climate problems and bringing high-impact solutions to the world on an accelerated basis.
President L. Rafael Reif told the Boston Business Journal, “Climate Grand Challenge represents a whole-of-MIT drive to develop game-changing advances to confront the escalating climate crisis, in time to make a difference.” Here are the five winners:
Bringing Computation to the Climate Challenge: This project leverages advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data sciences to improve the accuracy of climate models and make them more useful to communities and industry.
And Center for Electrification and Decarbonization of Industry: This project seeks to reinvent and electrify the processes and materials behind hard-to-decarbonize industries like steel, cement, ammonia, and ethylene production.
Preparing for a new world of weather and climate extremes: This project addresses key gaps in knowledge about intensifying extreme events such as floods, hurricanes, and heat waves, and quantifies their long-term risk in a changing climate. The team is developing a scalable climate-change adaptation toolkit to help vulnerable communities and low-carbon energy providers prepare for these extreme weather events.
The Climate Resilience Early Warning System: The CREWSnet project seeks to reinvent climate change adaptation with a novel forecasting system that empowers underserved communities to interpret local climate risk, proactively plan for their futures incorporating resilience strategies, and minimize losses.
Revolutionizing agriculture with low-emissions, resilient crops: This project works to revolutionize the agricultural sector with climate-resilient crops and fertilizers that have the ability to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food production.