Soil is a non-renewable resource!

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO declared 2015 the international year of soils, and if you haven’t heard and thought about why healthy soils are necessary for a healthy life I will tell you now.

Way too often we forget about soil as a resource that provides food, feed, ecosystem services, fuels ecc… that ensure that humanity could survive on earth. Unfortunately it is a finite resource and its degradation implies that precious soil will be lost forever due to  unsustainable cropping, forestry and urbanization to satisfy the demand of growing population. Today one third of global soil is already moderately to highly degraded trough erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient depletion, states the FAO. In fact, the key messages for the 2015 year of the soil are easily understandable but yet important to remember: without soils no food production, no fiber and fuel harvesting. Damage to the soil is also a damage to biodiversity, which is hosted to one quarter on healthy soils. Soils help to slow down climate change and play a key role in the carbon cycle, while they store and filter water. Its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future.

©FAOfao-infographic-iys2015-fs1-en

 

Here you can find some further information on the topic and a high res version of the info graphics you see above. Have fun and stay tuned.

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Reduction in consumption of meat might be a good idea!

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I know that the post image might tempt people to eat some meat right now. But as I have written few posts before about how the meat industry is kind of more responsible for the pollution around the world. Documentaries like ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘Food Inc’ are worth watching for some reason. Deforestation is done also because of meat industry. According to some assumption, the demand for meat is going to be higher in the future. If this happens, the 2 degree target is well of the table.

If you read this article on Carbon Brief, there is strong evidence that reduce in meat might really reduce the pollution. I really have reduced my consumption of meat since Jan 2015. I intended to completely quit it but I will be honest, I can’t quit it 100%. Ever since I have started eating more veggies, my cooking skills have improved as I can try to cook different types of vegetables ( going off the topic now).

 

These two images taken from the article shows how the current consumption is happening around the globe. If you do not wish to quite it, no need as long as you reduce a little.

Read the article for more details.

 

Source: Carbon Brief.

The wired wild – data is the key

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Some weeks ago the World Wildlife Fund WWF organized the fuller symposium event, bringing together leaders in science, policy business and development to talk about innovative technologies and the promises it give when it comes to face the challenges on our planet. Even if you are not a big fan of WWF, you can check out the “WIRED IN THE WILD – Can technology save the planet?” agenda because it offers some interesting point of views, TED-talks, videos and many more, just click on the link above to get there.

There are some several outcomes of this summit, one is collaboration. Collaboration is crucial to bring together scientist from various fields to guarantee that a mix of different technologies gives a more accurate view on what is happening in the big picture but not only. In fact without community participation and the support of local communities  and their data “from the ground” very often it would not be possible to guarantee that the outcome of the research reflects what is really happening in the “real” world. Here technology is key because without sensors and technologies that gather information and that are positioned in strategic points and possibly with some kind of real-time information. With an everyday growing level of connectivity this could be possible and should help to get the big-data that is necessary to do some high quality research in many fields, from climate change to pollution and renewable energy consumption and many more.

Check it out!

What’s in your climate agreement? – Konrad Luders

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On December 12th 2015 the governments of 196 nations have finally decided to work together against climate change, a problem known to exist for more than four decades… starting in 2020! But can this be it? Have our governments really just managed to conserve a habitable planet for humans? Or is it too early to pad ourselves on the back just yet?
While it should be acknowledged that this is a big step forward, compared to previous agreements, the deal holds next to no legally binding regulations and the countries mainly responsible for the current state of the environment managed to avoid legal responsibility. Leveling off of emissions will not happen until the second half of this century. Even insurances that are mentioned in the agreement will not cover the main risks of climate change; rising sea levels, vanishing drinking water and droughts. Leaving small countries vulnerable. Only time will tell if this agreement is truly a success. I sure hope it will be, but sadly I’m pessimistic.
But what can we do in the meantime? We don’t have to wait for governments to start acting, do we? We all have the power to make changes every day, no matter how incremental they might seem.
Every time we step inside a car, we can ask ourselves if there are other means of transportation we could be using instead. Maybe we can spend the next vacation exploring the country we already live in, instead of flying half way across the globe.
The livestock sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. So, every time we are about to buy or order meat we can stop and think about a vegetarian alternative instead. This does not mean we cannot eat meat anymore. We can eat as much or as little meat as we feel comfortable with. But, if we just stop and consider the consequences every single time, I’m sure more often than not we are going to choose the vegetarian meal instead.
About 1/4 of all food purchased ends up in the trash. That’s not only a waste of resources, but also a waste of money. Between eating leftovers and small scale biogas plants, there are plenty of ways to re-use food waste.
We can look for sustainable alternatives to big banks who keep investing in fossil fuels and move our money to those investing in sustainable small and large scale projects instead. Or, if we’re too attached to our bank, because the IBAN we have is just soooo perfect, we can at least voice our desire for more sustainable investments to our bank. There are energy providers out there who re-invest their profit in the establishment of more sustainable energy sources instead of paying big bonuses to their managers. They deserve more customers.
And finally, remember to ask yourself: “Do I really need another t-shirt?”
Learning about all of these alternatives is not only the right thing to do, it can be a lot of fun and very satisfying as well!!
Change the world! I know you can!

This post is written by Konrad Luders.

EuroEnviro2016  |  Vice Project Coordinator
Website: euroenviro.org

Highest number of premature deaths due to air pollution – Italy!

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On ‘Corriere della sera’ (one Italian newspaper) few weeks ago, there was an article regarding the highest premature deaths in Italy. If the data is to be believed, more than 59k people died due the high level of air pollutants in Italy. I always mentioned my country to be highly polluted and I always consider to be really clean in terms of air ( I still do) but after reading the article and the European Union recently released data on air quality, it is clear that Germany and Italy leading in bad air quality index.

Clearly living in a big city or a rich country doesn’t assure you to breathe clean air. However, Italy has been working a lot on it. During the Ecomondo, they held a discussion on Green Economy where they spoke about various technologies to be used so to emit less pollution.

Waste management is still a huge issue in this country!

Circular Economy: the way forward?

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The European Commission published last week some very interesting documents on circular economy:

In the Circular Economy Package there are included the goals of the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, and the measures on how to reach this goals. The most important targets regarding waste management are a recycling percentage of 65% of municipal waste by 2030, reducing the landfill of waste to 10% and some concrete measures to promote re-use and green products on the European market (which you can find here: Circular Economy, Closing the loop 2015). The report is the outcome of the Circular Economy Conference, which took place this June and involved around 700 stakeholders that are active in the field and could positively participate shaping the European policies for the next decades.

All this ambitious measures should help to create some kind of a win-win situation reducing waste, savings for businesses and the creation of 580.000 jobs.

The Action Plan offers a wide range of impacts on companies and households; from product design, production processes, consumption to final disposal all life stages of a product are covered, but also the creation of secondary raw material markets and water reuse can be found in the AP directed to the European Parliament and the Council. The last part of the Report is about Innovation, investment and horizontal measures to increase R&I within the union, and some monitoring processes that guarantees a better understanding of goal achievement.

Further information can be found on the official EU site for Circular Economy

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm