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The Tomorrow Times - January '20

News > News about the future today

We step into  this new decade with a mashup of the latest happenings in sustainability. Stay curious, keep up to date, and  get inspired, all in a quick read.

 

Did you know that methane emissions can be monitored from space? Also, turns out that you might soon be wearing fully plant-based runners on your next jog. And again, read about climate change mitigation superpowers of mangroves, a new hope for the white rhino, and how our cities can emulate fossils to adapt to rising sea levels.

Find out more in this first Tomorrow Times of the year. Enjoy the read.

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Energy & Environment

  • How fast will the world move to cleaner energy? The next 10 years will determine whether the goals of the Paris Agreement will be met. To see which narrative will prevail, watch the cost and growth rates of the key disruptive technologies - solar, wind, batteries, EVs and green hydrogen. In respect to policy, 2020 is the year when all countries are asked to submit their new long-term climate goals. From Glasgow's COP 26 onwards, the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement will be the key driver of international climate action.
  • Environmental Defense Fund to launch a satellite that will monitor methane leaks. To help hold companies accountable for letting methane pollution escape to the atmosphere, the Environmental Defense Fund is sending a satellite into orbit. According to the EDF President Fred Krupp, this will allow the monitoring of every single major oil and gas facility around the world, multiple times a week - to check for malfunctioning equipment or pipes.
  • New IUCN report on ocean oxygen loss gives a wake-up call to act on climate. A new publication from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlights the problem known as ocean deoxygenation. "To stop the worrying expansion of oxygen-poor areas," said principal advisor on Marine Science and Conservation for IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Program. "We need to decisively curb greenhouse gas emissions as well as nutrient pollution from agriculture and other sources."

Business & Economy

  • The business of coffee sustainability surged in 2019. Last year saw a number of heavily funded, collaborative pre-competitive and proprietary initiatives which were geared towards improving the livelihoods of coffee producers. Numerous large coffee-buying corporations also turned to the bond market to fund sustainability initiatives. Find out more about some of the biggest large-scale coffee sustainability news stories of 2019.
  • Bio-plastic packaging market shows impressive growth. The bioplastics packaging market is projected to grow from USD 4.03 billion in 2017 and reach 28.5 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 27.6% from 2019 to 2025. This considerable growth in terms of revenue is hugely attributed to the rising environmental and social crisis arising from the disposal and renewability problems of the petroleum-derived packaging materials.
  • The app buying back your unwanted clothes to fuel the Circular Economy.  How can fashion brands close the loop and help keep sold products and materials in circulation? The startup Stuffstr has developed a data-based solution that collects unwanted apparel and accessories from consumers (in any condition) and feeds it into either the second-hand clothing market or into material recycling streams.

Science, Technology & Design

  • Reebok to launch its first plant-based performance running shoe this autumn. Sportswear brand Reebok will be launching its first ever plant-based performance running shoe  this year. The sole of the trainer is built from sustainably grown castor beans, the upper is made from the eucalyptus tree. The sockliner is made using bloom algae foam and the sole is comprised of natural rubber sourced from rubber trees.
  • Chemists move indoors to measure the air quality in our homes. Atmospheric chemists spent decades upon decades focused on understanding the quality of outdoor air. But given the uneven ratio of time humans spend indoors versus outdoors, some of these researchers shift their attention. They find that indoor emissions come from many sources—stoves, cleaning products, furnishings, and even people. And the chemicals they detect aren’t always inert.
  • This office was built with 165,312 screws so it can be disassembled and reused. The Netherlands-based Triodos Bank was designed to be fully circular. The designers call the office the first “temporary materials bank.” All of the materials used in the design are logged on an external public platform designed to track materials in the built environment and eliminate waste.

Urban Environment

  • How Gent got rid of cars and transformed the city in a decade. The metamorphosis was achieved through a tactical urbanism approach, by placing concrete barriers and planters, and altering the gateways into public spaces and safer places to walk and bike.
  • Will behavioural science be the answer to architecture tackling climate change? A project formed by the journal Nature Sustainability and the University of Virginia had an international group of architects, designers, and engineers work with behavioural scientists for a year. The goal is to explore and investigated how each discipline could better work together. Cross-disciplinary exchanges will aid in newfound progress, and stronger applications of continuous sustainable actions.
  • Biodiversity and our brains: ecology and mental health go together. Mental health issues have many causes. Research shows that biodiverse nature has a particularly positive benefit for mental well-being. Multi-sensory elements such as bird or frog sounds or wildflower smells have well-documented beneficial effects on mental restoration, calmness and creativity. Other senses - such as our sense of ourselves in space, our balance and equilibrium and temperature - can also contribute to us feeling restored by nature.

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • Storing carbon and helping the economy? Mangroves can do both. As climate change worsens, more and more experts are beginning to talk about nature-based solutions as a way to protect coastal regions from damage and mitigate economic losses. A new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examines the role mangrove habitats play in coastal areas in Central America play in mitigating economic losses from hurricanes.
  • What if we let the oceans into our cities? As climate change threatens to submerge our existing cities, artist and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats proposes a way we could adapt to that new environment, by emulating stromatolites - the fossil remains of early microbial communities. As water levels rose, stromatolites grew, “sacrificing” the lower layers, to be an underwater foundation for new layers that rose above the ocean.
  • Newly created white rhino embryo could save species from the brink of extinction.  Scientists have been desperately trying to bring "the world's most endangered mammal" back from the brink of exctintion for decades. Now, there is reason to be hopeful: researchers from Kenya, Czech Republic, Germany, and Italy successfully created a new embryo from the rhino subspecies. 

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