Scientists discover some coral reefs are surviving warming oceans, plus Baltimore Wood Project– a company that reclaims lumber from abandoned row homes. Germany achieves its 2020 climate targets, and the world’s most unlikely solar farms.
Some Coral Reefs are Surviving Ocean Warming, Wood in the ‘Hood Reclamation Company, Germany achieves 2020 Climate Targets, and World’s Most Unlikely Solar Farms
RECLAIMING WOOD IN THE ‘HOOD
Did you know there are over 16,000 vacant properties in Baltimore, MD? Did you know that more than 4,000 rowhouses—some of them over a century old—are slated for demolition in the next three years? Did you know that these brick rowhouses contain some of the best, sturdiest, recyclable lumber on the planet?
The Baltimore Wood Project knows all that, and more. They are part of the growing “deconstruction” industry—reclaiming and reusing and repurposing construction debris. This has two benefits: for the planet, deconstruction reuses materials, diverting landfill waste; and secondly, deconstruction creates 6-8 more jobs than demolition AND it creates career ladders, particularly in underserved, urban areas where employment opportunities can be scarce.
And the deconstruction industry allows those with barriers to employment to build a series of skill sets, and eventually a career. By partnering with Minnesota-based Room and Board, the Baltimore Wood Project is creating two fascinating revenue streams—a boutique urban wood niche. It’s also building a networked regional economy around wood and land restoration. The goal of the Baltimore Wood Project is to scale and replicate its success in the Charmed City in other communities around the globe.
DEEPER DIVE: BWP
GERMANY ACHIEVES 2020 CLIMATE GOALS (THANKS TO THE PANDEMIC…)
Now to some news in Europe, Germany announced the nation achieved its 2020 climate targets. Reported by DW News, back in 2007, the German government pledged a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. While Germany was working towards this goal, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to push the nation even further towards that target.
According to Agora EnerGEE-VendA, a Berlin-based think tank, Germany emitted 722 million tons of CO2 in 2020, a roughly 10% drop in emissions compared to 2019. Agora attributes the majority of Germany’s reduced carbon emissions to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing a significant decrease in industry energy use. In an estimate comparing annual industry CO2 emissions, Agora predicted Germany would have missed its target without the pandemic.
Still, other attributions for Germany’s successful achievement of its 2020 climate targets are thanks to diminishing use of coal power, reduced air travel and the country’s transition to green power, accounting for roughly 50% of the national grid.
DEEPER DIVE: DW News
THE WORLD’S MOST UNLIKELY SOLAR FARM HOT SPOT
Solar energy has become so accessible that new farms are being switched on in the most unexpected places – including in the depths of the Alaskan winter. The pace of climate change in the Arctic and its surroundings is much greater than other parts of the world, leading to an urgent need to reduce the use of fossil fuels and expand renewable energy options.
In northerly regions like Alaska, where daylight hours are minimal for a good portion of the year, the use of solar power seems improbable, if not impossible. Nearly 85% of land in the state has at least some level of permafrost and even in the southern regions, winter months receive minimal daylight. A company called Renewable IPP built a solar farm in Willow, proving that solar can work even in the most unexpected cold and northerly climates.
Sited a few hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Willow farm gets less than six hours of daylight during the winter months. In January, the Alaskan solar company Renewable IPP switched this 10-acre farm on, making it the largest in the state. Its output is expected to be 1.35 megawatt hours per year – enough to provide power for about 120 average homes year-round. The farm is made up of 11 rows of panels, nine 133 kW rows and two smaller 70kW rows that were the farm’s pilot project.
But the prospect of affordable renewable energy even in these icy northern regions is a mark of just how far solar power has come. From tentative, expensive origins, it has reached as far as Alaska in the US – and elsewhere, even further north. If solar is proving viable even here, then it is perhaps not just a glimmer of sunlight across a frozen landscape, but also a glimmer of hope.
SCIENTISTS START TO SUSS OUT WHY SOME CORALS ARE SURVIVING WARMING OCEANS
Despite rising global temperatures due to climate change, some corals have managed to survive through the unprecedented heatwave and scientists are beginning to understand why. Coral reefs play a vital role in marine ecosystems, providing habitats for sea life and protecting shorelines from erosion. However, due to their high sensitivity to temperature changes, global warming has had catastrophic consequences for coral reefs around the world.
But here’s the glimmer of hope. Reported by the Future-ity, an international research team tracking coral colonies near Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean found that corals were more likely to recover if they were not also exposed to other types of human-caused stressors, such as water pollution. This means that local reef management could be essential in the survival of coral reefs as temperatures continue to rise.
Lead author and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, Danielle Claar, said in an interview with The Future-ity that “understanding how some corals can survive prolonged heatwaves could provide an opportunity to mitigate the impact of marine heatwaves on coral reefs, allowing us to buy time as we work to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”
DEEPER DIVE: The Futurity