Democratic Republic of Congo Company makes paving tiles from plastic bottles, plus an ocean-based Climate Solution. Growing heat tolerant potatoes, and President Biden’s executive order strengthening US forests.
Democratic Republic of Congo Co. Makes Paving Tiles from Plastic Bottles, Growing Heat Tolerant Potatoes, Strengthening US Forests, an Ocean-Based Climate Solution
A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO COMPANY MAKES PAVING TILES FROM PLASTIC BOTTLES
Elie Mapenzi Matabaro’s company, FDA Group, has taken a problem–plastic bottles–and turned it into an asset. The FDA Group is running its production out of Bukavu, a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The company collects plastic bottles and turns them into very durable paving slabs.
Mapenzi says, “There was no system for protection of the environment. We started our business to help resolve the waste problem.” How bad is the plastic pollution problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? For the last two and a half months, one of the turbines in a dam on the DRC’s Ruzizi River has been jammed with trash, mainly plastic bottles.
According to the United Nations Environment Program,, an estimated 70%–80% of the municipal solid waste generated across the African continent is recyclable, but less than 5% is recycled. Why does the work of FDA Group matter to us? Currently, plastic is more abundant than cement on the planet. Plus the cement industry contributes 6% annually to CO2 emissions–a significant number. So using an existing product whose carbon footprint has already been established for the same result just makes good business sense.
DEEPER DIVE: Reuters, This Is Africa, Afrik21
OCEAN-BASED SOLUTION’S OCEAN CO2 SEQUESTRATION SCHEME
A company called Ocean-based Climate Solutions is focusing on the restoration of microscopic marine algae, or phytoplankton, in the oceans in an effort to sequester Earth’s dangerously high CO2 levels. The company, founded by Philip Kithil in 2006, has a goal of creating“a scalable ocean-based climate solution.”
How do they do it? According to the company website, the company deploys a pump about 1600 feet deep into nutrient-depleted zones. Each pump has GPS and other sensors for remote tracking and monitoring of our ocean carbon removal technology. That’s important because the goal is to preserve the marine environment during the process, not destroy it.
The pumps then bring higher-nutrient seawater from the lower ocean depths to the surface, where it is hoped it will stimulate phytoplankton growth. Phytoplankton growth is supposed to trigger ocean photosynthesis, creating a microscopic marine algae bloom. At that point, the microscopic algae will begin to absorb CO2. As the phytoplankton die, they sink to the ocean floor where the carbon is stored. That process is called “fixing” the carbon.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, microscopic phytoplankton could potentially ‘fix’ nearly one-fifth of global carbon. Why does Ocean-based matter to us? Microscopic plants sequester vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Ocean-based’s latest pump deployment is scheduled for summer 2022 in the Canary Islands.
DEEPER DIVE: Ocean-based, WeForum
GROWING HEAT-TOLERANT POTATOES
Recently, University of Maine (UMaine) researchers began looking into producing a potato that could better handle warming temperatures from climate change. This, because the potato is a central element of Maine’s agricultural economy. The project at UMaine received a $500,000 grant from USDA to advance this research.
Gregory Porter, a UM professor of crop ecology and management, told the Bangor Daily News, “The predictions for climate change are heavier rainfall events, and potatoes don’t tolerate flooding or wet conditions for long without having other quality problems. If we want potatoes to be continued to be produced successfully in Maine, we need to be able to produce varieties that can be resistant to change.”
University of Maine researchers developed a potato called Caribou russet that is already more resistant. Why does heat tolerant potato research matter to us? We LOVE potatoes. It’s a staple of the American diet. So, a heat tolerant potato crop is important because, according to the EPA, by 2100, the average U.S. temperature is projected to increase by about 3°F to 12°F.
Around the world, research aimed at mitigating crop damage is underway. A NASA study published this month suggested climate change may affect the production of corn and wheat, with corn yields projected to decline while wheat could see potential growth, as soon as 2030 under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
DEEPER DIVE: U.S. News, WeForum, NECN
EXECUTIVE ORDER THAT STRENGTHENS US FORESTS
U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday, April 22 to strengthen the protection of America’s forests. The order is a measure to further protect mature and old-growth forest on Federal lands. The purpose is to ensure that the U.S. has healthy forests that can continue to be terrestrial carbon sinkS.
It states that forests are “critical to the health, prosperity, and resilience of our communities — particularly in light of the threat of catastrophic wildfires.” WeForum reported that North American fires in 2021 emitted around 83 million tonnes of CO2. The order also spelled out the Administration’s policies related to nature. A few significant points are:
- The support of indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and cultural and subsistence practices
- The honoring of Tribal treaty rights
These and other forest-related protectION measures are part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)
Why does the executive order matter to us? The U.S. has old-growth forests that HAVE dated back more than 800 years. If cut down, they would release very large amounts of CO2. According to a Yale environmental publication, immature trees sequester far less CO2 than older trees.
DEEPER DIVE: White House, U.S. Congress, American Forests, e360 Yale