Green Impact Awards, LA’s Tumbleweed Project, Bringing the Aral Sea Back to Life, Newark Science and Sustainability

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Green Impact Awards, plus LA’s Tumbleweed Project. Bringing the Aral Sea Back to Life, and Newark Science and Sustainability.



In 2021 extreme drought slashed 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power capacity in California. That’s enough to power over 164,000 homes in a year. So, the California Community Power (CC Power) board started looking at technologies for long-duration energy storage that will provide the state power by filling in the gaps left by the intermittent nature of wind and solar power.

Energy storage makes this power useful at other times. Currently,  lithium-ion battery storage is the technology of choice, mostly for its durability. Despite the rise of in the development of new technologies. Those are still proving less robust.

Last month, the CC Power Board entered into an energy storage service agreement called The Tumbleweed project with REV Renewables. REV R is a power and energy development and investment company.

The project is scheduled to be built in Kern County, northeast of Los Angeles. Once completed, the site proposes to have a capacity of 69 megawatts and 552 megawatt-hours. A megawatt-hour of electricity can power a house for just over one month.

Why does The Tumbleweed Project matter to us? While states make the big adjustment to clean energy, it’s important to recognize on the one hand extractive technologies, like lithium-ion batteries, can’t be counted on as a permanent solution, but in the short term, it’s doing the job.

Said Girish Balachandran, California Community Power Board Chair, “Long-duration energy storage is a vital resource, needed to amplify the value of renewable power, and accelerate California’s shift to a clean, reliable and affordable grid.” 

DEEPER DIVE: Inside Climate News, Green Tech Media, Globe News Wire



The Green Impact awards program launched in 2012 by the National Union of Students of the UK (NUS). The award-winning UN program takes place annually across the UK to support environmentally and socially sustainable practices within academic organizations.

NUS through the Green Impact awards has worked with over 1,100 organizations to implement over 410,000 sustainability projects in places of work, living and study. The types of organizations that are engaged in the environmental accreditation programs include:

  • Universities and Colleges
  • Students’ Unions
  • Business
  • Health
  • Arts & Culture
  • Public Sector

The NUS provides university students and staff with a toolkit designed to help participants break down their sustainability projects into simple, manageable actions. Teams use the toolkit to plan their activities, record their progress and upload evidence. This evidence-based approach creates data which can then be shared more globally.

Why does the Green Impact awards program matter to us? The awards program is continually bringing more and more people into the process of taking climate action and building sustainable, environmental habits. 

DEEPER DIVE: Green Impact, Oxford – Green Impact, Cambridge – Green Impact



A horticulturist and a botanist from Uzbekistan have won the World Bank’s 2021 Global Disruptive Tech Challenge with an innovative approach to halt the shrinking of the Aral Sea and bring back its water and surrounding ecosystem.

Their project, called The Aral Honey Gardens project will use the sustainable forestry method of honey gardens to stop the desiccation of the Aral Sea basin. The gardens use drought-tolerant and salt-hardy trees, shrubs, and grasses that will bloom continuously from April through September.

Horticulturalist Natalya Akinshina, along with botanist collaborator Azamat Aizizov, have been studying the environmental impacts of the Aral Sea’s disappearance for more than a decade. They discovered the Aral Sea is drying up at a faster than normal evaporation rate because of a negative feedback loop. That loop is where shallower water heats more quickly, causing it to evaporate faster. So as the water level of the sea reduced, it became shallower. The shallow water would heat more quickly than deeper waters, evaporating, creating shallow water, which then…

Their project has four components:

  1. Mixed plantations of honey plants
  2. Technologies to increase germination
  3. Planting strategies and technologies
  4. Water saving technologies for irrigation.

The expectation is that within five to six years they will become self-sustaining ecosystems. Why does the restoration of the Aral Sea matter to us? The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest sea on earth, about the size of Ireland. Besides desertification, a global warming accelerator, the shrinking of the Aral Sea is causing the region’s growing season to be shorter which causes the farmers to switch from cotton to rice, which demands even more diverted water.

On winning the World Bank’s 2021 Global Disruptive Tech Challenge, says Akinshina, “We are just ordinary people who are passionate about bringing life back to the Aral Sea.” 

DEEPER DIVE: World Bank, UNDP – Ocean Innovation Challenge, Turkmenistan GOV



Tobias Fox established Newark Science and Sustainability (NSS) in Newark, NJ in 2013. The organization implements initiatives all based around the environment. Their motto? THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL…THAT’S GLOCAL. NSS initiatives range from urban gardening to projects related to renewable energy and eco-art. 

Part of the organization’s mission is to create self-sustaining communities. They successfully turned three abandoned lots into community gardens. To achieve their goals, they host programs with curriculum developed by professionals based in the Greater Newark area.

NSS recently partnered with NJ-based solar power company, Solar Landscape on a project. Completed in 2021, they installed enough solar panels to power over 375 local homes with clean solar energy. In 2016, Fox received the Community Service Award presented by the Northeast Earth Coalition. 

Why does Newark Science and Sustainability matter to us? As Fox says “…the localization of food and energy production becoming standard practice in our municipalities as well as the cultivation of urban farms and energy parks is vital to our growth as a whole.”

DEEPER DIVE: Newark Science and Sustainability, Solar Landscape