Cows Fighting for Climate 🐮
Welcome back to Pique Behind the Cow-tain - I mean curtain. Sorry, but I just can’t get next week’s featured startup off of my mind. They’re feeding seaweed to cows to significantly reduce their methane emissions. And that’s not all you’ll get. We’re also talking about local elections and university divestment. Let’s begin, shall we?
— Written by Shayna Berglas
In the United States, there are about 100 million beef and dairy cattle. When that livestock digests their food, they have to break it down in their stomachs through fermentation because it’s more fibrous than what you and I would eat (unless you, you know, eat grass a lot). Through this process, they produce a greenhouse gas called methane.
Methane is approximately 28 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, and could potentially be disastrous if left uncontrolled. And of the 100 million cattle in the US, just one produces between 154 to 264 pounds of methane gas per year. So I suppose you could say… the steaks are high.
Symbrosia utilizes novel research that has shown when you implement a specific species of seaweed into the diet of livestock as a feed supplement, you can reduce their methane emissions by over 80%. That’s right - founder Alexia Akbay and her team are using this specialized plant life to de-weaponize cow flatulence.
If that hasn’t Piqued your interest, I don’t know what will. Tune in next week to learn more about Symbrosia.
What Can Local Governments Do to Fight Climate Change?
So, election day just passed. We know you walked to the nearest polls and placed your vote for a candidate that will prioritize climate justice, green jobs, and clean energy.
If any part of you is wondering, “does my vote even matter?” or, “do local representatives have power?” then you’re not alone. And I’m here to assuage your very normal concerns.
Local governments can and do use their power to combat climate change all the time. The biggest reason? Cities are nimbler than Congress, meaning it is much easier to implement policy locally than it is at the federal level.
City, town, and county officials have the capability to implement all kinds of climate-friendly policies, including, but not limited to, joining renewable power agencies, improving bicycle transit and walkability through urban planning, redirecting government funding to zero-carbon products and services, incentivizing renewable energy creation, and, most importantly, controlling zoning and land use. That includes the aforementioned walking and biking, sure, but it also takes into account where and how businesses develop and what ecosystems and communities they will affect via any potential emissions and pollution.
Not convinced just yet? I’ll give you an example. Not far from the South Dakota border in Minnesota resides a city called Morris, population 5,000. The town, which is home to the University of Minnesota, leans left compared to the surrounding rural, right-leaning communities. Despite their differing political views, both communities helped create and continue to support the “Morris Model,” a local plan calling for a 30% reduction in energy consumption by 2030 - 80% of which will be produced locally. Local energy is this case is basically synonymous with renewable energy. And that’s not all - they’ve also pledged to eliminate landfill waste by 2025.
This is a case of bipartisan success but it also shows the way local governments can flex their muscles to fight climate change if the right people are in power. Democrats and Republicans often share similar views when it comes to tackling the climate crisis, building resiliency, generating wealth, and making communities better for the next generation. Casting our votes based on positive impact over politics will help us achieve those goals.
A merry midterms to all, and to all a good night.
Good Climate News! 🌍
Recently, one hundred universities in the United Kingdom have promised to divest from fossil fuels. That number is equal to about 65% of the country’s higher education sector and is indicative of a future free from gas and oil.
The Fossil Free campaign, a UK student-led initiative, was formed in 2013 on the premise that it should not be acceptable for education and research institutions to invest in the companies responsible for global climate change.
These students have rallied in a number of ways. They’ve occupied university buildings for sit-ins, created petitions signed by thousands, lobbied collegiate persons of power, and shared political education with anyone who will lend an ear.
In the United States, fossil fuel divestment campaigns emerged a little over a decade ago when students first began to urge their administrations to turn endowment investments in the fossil fuel industry into funding for clean energy and communities most impacted by climate change. By 2015, it became the fastest growing divestment movement in history. And as of 2021, 1,300 institutions responsible for $14.6 trillion have divested from the fossil fuel industry.
This divestment is critical in the fight for a cleaner climate. It aims to reduce carbon emissions by accelerating the adoption of the renewable energy transition and rejecting a business model that relies on wrecking our planet. That doesn’t mean simply condemning oil giants, but putting public pressure on them to invest in renewable energy, too.
Young students taking a stand against their schools (and enacting change!) is a testament to the power of collective action and to the priorities of younger generations. They want climate action. And they want it now!
What We’re Watching, Reading, and Listening to
Searching for more positive and informative climate content? Look no further!
Learn more about the Future Leaders Climate Summit here.