Celebrating Amazon Rainforest Day on September 5th, Climate Change Artist John Akomfrah, Turning Waste Heat Into Clean Energy, Meet Solum, Paving Spain’s Streets with Solar Panels!

by | Sep 3, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Celebrating Amazon Rainforest Day on September 5th, plus climate change Artist, John Akomfrah. Turning waste heat into clean energy, and meet Solum, paving Spain’s streets with solar panels!



Climate change artist John Akomfrah once said that progress can create profound suffering. “Climate change…is not just a white, European fixation, though it is often presented that way,” Akomfrah explained in a 2017 interview with The Guardian. “When I stand on a street in Accra, I can feel that it is a city that is literally at boiling point. It is way hotter than it was in the 1960s or even the 1980s. We need to start looking at climate change in radically different ways, not just as part of a western-based development narrative.”

John Akomfrah grew up in the 1960s, in the shadow of Battersea power station in south London. As a child, he remembers “feeling as if I was enveloped in something whenever I played on the street. You could sense it in the air, you felt it and saw it, whatever was emanating from the huge chimneys. We were being poisoned as we played, but no one spoke about it.”

Akomfrah is a highly decorated British intellect, artist and filmmaker. His latest work, Purple (2017) is widely considered his most ambitious work to date. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Akomfrah describes Purple as “a person of color’s response to the Anthropocene,” also known as the era of climate change.

The immersive 6-channel video installation was filmed across 10 countries, exploring the incremental and interconnected effects of climate change on a global scale. “Purple has grown out of a series of frustrations and dissatisfactions,” Akomfrah said in an interview with ICA Boston. “This is not the 18th century anymore—it’s not unlimited landscapes and unlimited space to explore ad infinitum, wasting away, trashing away as we go along.”

Akomfrah went on to say that once he became aware of the implications of climate change for future generations, he had to respond. But he admits, “I’m not a scientist or a campaigner, I’m an artist. I’m interested in the philosophy of climate change rather than the hard science.” 

DEEPER DIVE: The Guardian, Wikipedia, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston


Capricorn Power is an interesting company. It’s an early beneficiary of the Climate Launch Pad initiative. Capricorn Power’s technology turns waste heat into a combined heat and power solution. First of all what is “waste heat?”

Waste heat is heat that is produced by a machine, or other process that uses energy, as a byproduct of doing work. From the simplest concept, think of how hot old-fashioned tungsten light bulbs get. Sure they light up a room, but most of the “work” done lighting an area is wasted as heat. Another level up is the heat exhaust coming off an internal combustion engine or out of its tailpipe, or jet engines. One more level up is the heat generated by power plants that burn trash, coal or other substances to create electricity. Or even a landfill that outgasses methane.

Capricorn Power hopes to use its technology to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by applying it to bioenergy projects.

“We’re talking about green waste, which is otherwise destined for landfills where it’s going to rot and produce methane, which has 25 times the greenhouse impact of carbon dioxide,” said Rowan Doyle, who is Projects Lead at Capricorn and a lecturer at the University of Melbourne.

If they’re successful, Capricorn Power will not only benefit the air we breathe, but also the land on which we farm.

We’re talking taking that green waste, pyrolyzing it — producing heat in an absence of oxygen — putting that into an engine, and at the same time, producing biocharBiochar is charcoal that is produced by pyrolysis of biomass in the absence of oxygen; it is used as a soil amendment. Think of it as somewhere between compost and charcoal.

According to Capricorn Power’s website, A farmer in Western Australia conducted a trial with his avocado trees, reporting 2.6 times the crop from biochar-impregnated soil compared to crops next to it without the biochar.” In June 2021, Capricorn Power began the first of five stages of commissioning its commercial demonstration engine; connecting and testing the inverter and power control system.

DEEPER DIVE:  Capricorn PowerCreate Digital, LinkedIn, ClimateLaunchPad



Just a head’s up everybody—this Sunday, September 5th is Amazon Rainforest Day. Protecting forests and upholding the rights of Indigenous people is one of the most effective defenses we have against climate breakdown. According to the World Wildlife Federation, Amazon Rainforest Day actually began back in 1850 as Amazon Day to mark the creation of the Province of Amazonas; later to give rise to the present-day State of Amazonas.

Why does Amazon Rainforest Day matter to us?

The Amazon Rainforest is of inestimable environmental importance for the planet; it’s the home of an unkown number of animal and herbaceous and arboreal plant species, some of which are still not known to science. It’s an important regulator of the global climate patterns; and is a rich source of raw nutritional, medicinal, mineral and other forest-based raw materials. That’s why the Amazon rainforest is to be celebrated.

Why it should be defended is that Amazon is under serious threat from predatory human activities such as logging, mining, infrastructure construction and the conversion of standing forest into areas of pasture or cropland.

There are different ways folks are celebrating Amazon Rainforest Day. They include protests and marches directed at Brazilian embassies and consulates — and also at the global corporations profiting from Amazon destruction. Alsor groups like Amazon Watch, the National Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), and Extinction Rebellion are mobilizing a Global Day of Action for the Amazon on September 5th, too.

However you choose to celebrate Amazon Rainforest Day, I hope it doesn’t include buying anything from Amazon.

DEEPER DIVE: Rainforest Action Network, World Rainforest Day



This sort of story is endlessly fascinating to me. A Spanish start-up, Solum, has installed the first solar pavement in a port area in Valencia as part of the strategy set by Puertos del Estado for the complete decarbonization of port areas by 2030.

For the life of me, given how many roofs are in Valencia, and given how sunny it is there—all the time—I don’t get why installing heavy duty, solar panels on the ground makes sense.

The company behind this ingenious concept, Solum, was what? You guessed it listeners, a ClimateLaunchPad alum. Inititally, Solum got in the business of designing a smart charging station for micro-mobility with a focus on sustainable innovation. That design made them a winner of Venture On The Road Andalucía.

Venture On The Road, is a road show  that selects the best  startups  in Spain. The traveling event was created four years ago by the BStartup accelerator Banco Sabadell and SeedRocket joins as organizer Wayra, the open innovation hub by Telefónica, and also incorporates the collaboration of Amazon Web Services.

DEEPER DIVE: Solum, PV Magazine, Venture on the Road