Warming trends: Americans’ alarm grows over climate change, plant-based diet packs double carbon and makes hay from plastic India

CULTURE

Growing alarm over climate change

The number of Americans alarmed by global warming now exceeds the number of Americans who disdain it three to one.

That’s according to a biannual opinion poll by Yale’s Climate Change Communication Program and George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication. The latest poll produced in September 2021, found that 33% of respondents were “alarmed” about global warming. These respondents were the most supportive of climate action and said they strongly believed they would be affected by climate change.

The poll, conducted since 2008, classifies respondents into one of six segments, based on their level of concern about global warming: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful or dismissive.

Along with a third of respondents who were “alarmed,” the latest results showed 25% said they were “concerned,” placing the majority of Americans in the two categories most supportive of climate action. Only 9% were “dismissive,” the category of respondents who dismissed climate science and were the least supportive of climate action. The cautious, disengaged and dismissive categories have shrunk in size since 2017, according to TK, while the alarmed category has nearly doubled.

“There is a degree of seasonality in public opinion on climate change,” said John Kotcher, an assistant professor at George Mason University involved in the research. “But some of those increases were so large that it’s hard to imagine it’s just a seasonal effect.”

Kotcher said the growth in climate alarm among Americans could be attributed to more political leaders talking about climate change, an increase in climate activism, and more heat waves, hurricanes and wildfires. serious.

“I think we have evidence to suggest that the extreme weather events that occurred over the summer and in the run-up to the September 2021 survey likely played a role in some of the increases we are seeing,” Kotcher said. “And the fact that media attention on the issue has also increased has probably magnified some of those effects.”

SOLUTIONS

When traffic slows, the bike to work speeds up

Reducing traffic speed to 20 miles per hour could dramatically increase the number of commuters using bikes to get to work, a new study found.

Researchers at the University of Surrey in the UK looked at census data from 172,000 Surrey residents which showed where they lived, where they worked and what mode of transport they used to get to work. All of the people included in the study lived within 1.2 to 3.1 miles of their place of work.

Researchers looked at the shortest route from home to work for residents who reported cycling or driving to work and examined factors along the route that may affect transportation decisions commuters, such as traffic speed, traffic density, terrain and the presence of bicycles. paths.

Traffic speed was the main factor deterring people from cycling to work, the researchers found. When traffic speeds along the route exceeded 20 mph, fewer commuters chose to cycle to work.

The effect was greater in women, the researchers found.

“Women are under-represented in cycling in the UK, and indeed often in Western countries,” said lead author Nick Grudgings, who was a PhD student at the University of Surrey when the study was conducted. . “Not only does this give you a route to increase levels of cycling overall, it also gives you a route to increase it in a targeted demographic and address some of the socio-economic inequalities there.”

Increasing the number of commuters choosing to bike instead of drive can reduce carbon emissions, reduce traffic congestion and improve the health of people who choose to ride a bike, said co-author Alex Hagen-Zanker.

“We know there’s a lot of upside potential,” Hagen-Zanker said. He estimated that the number of cyclists could increase sixfold if routes were made more bike-friendly through improvements such as cycle lanes.

SCIENCE

The double whammy of plant-based diets: Fewer cows, fallow land

According to a new study, a societal shift towards planet-friendly diets could have a double effect by preventing climate-warming greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

Researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands and other institutions around the world have looked into EAT-Lancet Diet, which encourages healthy, sustainable foods like vegetables and nuts over red meat and refined grains. They found that widespread adoption of the diet in high-income countries would not only reduce emissions by having fewer methane-belching livestock on the landscape, but also allow pastures currently used for unsustainable food production to return to a natural state.

“If you were to allow this land to return to the potential natural vegetation that existed before, you would essentially double the impact of dietary change,” said lead author Paul Behrens, assistant professor at Leiden University.

The study, published this week in the journal Nature Food, pointed out that the double carbon benefit could be achieved even if only high-income countries adopted the EAT-Lancet diet, and noted that these countries are most capable of transitioning from a diet rich in animal protein to a diet rich in animal protein. a plant-based diet.

Behrens said food systems are an important area in which to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from food systems alone, he said, could push the planet beyond 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming.

“We’re not saying something that’s easy to do. We are discussing how this will require linking land policy, environmental policy and agricultural policy,” Behrens said. “We’re not saying it’s going to happen. We just say these are the opportunities.

SOLUTIONS

Make hay out of plastic

When Adishree Kasliwal was a young girl living in Jaipur, India, she had a desire to learn more about the environment and how to protect it. But, she said, she felt there was nowhere she could go to learn these things.

As a teenager, she decided to create the resource that her childhood lacked.

“I wanted a platform where young children could learn and express their opinions about the environment,” she said, “and they would have someone there who could guide them and who could tell them: ‘This is happening in the world and I want to hear what you have to say about it.

Kasliwal, now 16, is the founder of Earth Team, an organization that educates children ages 8-16 about environmental issues like climate change and plastic waste, with speakers, lessons, and hands-on involvement in solutions.

The organization’s latest initiative is RE/WRAP, a Online Store selling products made by Kasliwal and the children of Team Earth from plastic waste. The children turn the plastic into colorful baskets, stools and planters which they sell for between 350 and 1,450 rupees, or around 5 to 20 dollars. The funds are intended to help reduce plastic waste, according to the RE/WRAP website. Each item is advertised as saving multiple bottles and hundreds of packages from going to landfill.

“As soon as I walk out of my house, all I see is plastic waste,” Kasliwal said. “I know there’s something that can be done about it, but people here, they tell you ‘No’, so I wanted to change that to make the world a better place and make my own town a little cleaner. “

The plastic is cleaned up and donated to Team Earth, and Kasliwal said it’s easy for kids to assemble it into something new.

“If kids can do it, it usually motivates others to see it’s a big deal,” she said. “If the children tell us, it’s because it’s something important.”

SOLUTIONS

Real-Time Emissions Data: Everyone Demands It

The city of Reno, Nevada is now tracking its greenhouse gas emissions in real time, thanks to a local startup.

The data, which measures emissions from the city’s utilities, vehicles and other sources, will help the city meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 28% from 2005 levels by here 2025.

The updated data can help Reno find ways to be more efficient and reduce emissions, such as charging electric vehicles during the day when there’s plenty of solar power instead of at night, a said Josh Griffin, co-founder of Ledger8760, the Reno-based startup monitoring the data.

“We gather tens, hundreds and in some cases thousands of data sources and stitch them together into a platform that our customers can immediately see what’s happening in real time,” he said.

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This type of data can be much more informative and useful than an annual emissions report, he said, and can help institutions stay on track to meet their reduction goals. Reno residents can view their city’s emissions data on a online public portal supported by Ledger8760.

The startup (the number 8,760 in its name refers to the number of hours in a year) has other customers using its real-time data services, including governments and private companies.

Griffin said companies are in a big transition where they are increasing their monitoring of climate impact, which he says will help customers make more informed business decisions to reduce their impact.

“We are in a process where granular data becomes extremely important. And people are asking for it,” Griffin said. “Our customers demand it because their customers demand it.”

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