Feed Seaweed, Eliminate Emissions 🐄
Welcome back to Pique Behind the Curtain, your favorite climate-positive newsletter. This week, we’re sharing a climate solution from the sea that can be harnessed in agriculture, as well as promising measures taken by the EPA, and funding pledges straight from COP27.
— Written by Shayna Berglas
Cattle are the #1 agricultural source of greenhouse gasses worldwide. Through their digestive process called enteric fermentation, livestock burps cause an astounding 6% of the world’s global warming. Basically, if cows were a country, they would produce about as much GHGs as the entire European Union. 🐄
Although Methane is shorter-lived than CO2, it's 28x more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year timeline. Measured over a 20-year period, that ratio grows to 80-84x. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “cutting methane emissions is the fastest opportunity we have to immediately slow the rate of global warming.”
But with the some 90 million cattle and dairy cows in the U.S. alone, cutting methane through sustainable livestock farming practices still seems daunting.
Is there a climate-friendly way to have our burger and eat it too? It looks like there is… if you’re willing to add seaweed.
Learn more about how a startup, Symbrosia, is using seaweed to reduce methane emissions from livestock.
A First: EPA to Test Southern Puerto Rico Air & Water 🧪
For the first time - and after years of complaints from Puerto Rican officials - the Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will test for air and water contamination in the southern part of the island.
The EPA has committed $100,000 to air and water well sampling and testing in response to the request for federal aid from the city of Guayama, located on the Caribbean coast. There, community leaders fear that contamination from coal-burning power plants may have worsened after Hurricane Fiona caused historic flooding in Puerto Rico’s southwest region.
But the EPA isn’t just taking samples. They’re also investigating the quality of coal plant infrastructure, like underground liners, that protects communities from contaminants, such as arsenic, which is proven to cause cancer and impede brain development in children, as well as determining whether Hurricane Fiona has damaged local landfills.
Fiona pushed Puerto Rico to lose electricity for days and left more than a third of its citizens without safe drinking water. This United States territory has gone without adequate mitigation and adaptation measures despite suffering heavily from environmental risks of increasingly powerful weather patterns. As the EPA finally agrees to help determine the damage, the hope is that they will offer solutions too.
Good Climate News! 🌍
Here’s the great news: several global nations at COP27 have already announced offers of direct climate aid to developing nations. The not-so-great news is that the United States is not among them.
As we all know, climate change is affecting the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like storms, floods, and heatwaves, as well as the slower-onset events like ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, and desertification. All of these effects have and will continue to result in loss and damages, economic and non-economic.
For decades, developing countries have been pleading to industrialized nations to provide compensation for the costs associated with climate catastrophes. At the United Nations climate summit last year, Scotland was alone in its $2.2 million commitment of funding - but not anymore.
By the end of the third day of COP27, several nations including Belgium, Germany, and Australia committed significant sums of money to developing countries that are struggling to combat adverse climate effects.
A fundamental responsibility exists among nations that have contributed the most to anthropogenic climate change to help those who are now facing its most violent effects. As of now, the United States is staying largely out of the conversation while other nations are stepping up. It’s a question of climate justice, and it’s a question that demands rapid response.
What We’re Watching 🎥, Reading 📚, and Listening to 🎧
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The Ripple 🌊
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Correction for Pique Behind the Curtain’s November 9th, 2022 edition: The newsletter misgendered Symbrosia’s Founder & CEO Alexia Akbay as “him”. Pique Action regrets the errors and apologizes for the oversight.