Your Next Salad Could Be Grown Without the Sun
Welcome back to Pique Behind the Curtain. This week, we’re serving up a story on plants grown in the pitch-black, and a company following through on its climate pledges. Read on to learn more!
— Written by Shayna Berglas
Forget What You Know About Photosynthesis. These Plants Grow in the Dark.
Recently, scientists at UC Riverside and the University of Delaware claimed to have found a way to accomplish an incredible feat – grow plants in total darkness. By using a two-step process that converts carbon dioxide, water, and electricity into acetate (a common anion), plants were successfully grown without the aid of the sun.
Photosynthesis has, for millions of years, worked in plants to convert water, carbon, and the energy from the sun into fuel for growth. But it’s an inefficient process, with a mere 1% of sunlight energy ending up in the plant. According to the researchers, if combined with renewable energy sources like solar power, their darkened food production strategy could be 18 times more efficient than traditionally grown food.
What does this have to do with climate change, you may ask?
A volatile climate can disrupt the availability and quality of, as well as access to, food. Projected temperature increases, changes in precipitation, water scarcity, and extreme weather events all have the potential to reduce agricultural productivity. Experimentation is still in its early stages, and whether or not this method can produce sustainable produce at scale is still up for debate. Still, it’s an incredible step toward building more sustainable food systems that can support global demand, and it reminds us that innovation is a strong tool in the fight against the effects of climate change.
Good Climate News! 🌍
Companies talk a big game about being climate-friendly. But a lot of the time, it’s just plain greenwashing. The private sector needs pioneers that can lead by example and show that implementing sustainable practices and raising revenue don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Yvonne Chouinard’s earth-centered focus at Patagonia is an excellent example. Is 3M another one?
Since 2002, the global conglomerate has reduced its scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 72%, much of which can be credited to their increase in renewable energy sources, on track to surpass their 50% energy makeup goal ahead of the 2025 deadline. What’s more commendable, I think, is that the company has adjusted their targets to be more aggressive, rather than settling for meeting the mark. Their new goals are to use 20% less water by 2025 and cut CO2 emissions in half by 2030 – all while continuing to make operations more sustainable.
As the largest corporations in the world gloat about their environmental activism, the need for action to match promises is becoming increasingly important.
What We’re Watching 🎥, Reading 📚, and Listening to 🎧
Searching for more positive and informative climate content? Look no further!
In Case You Missed It 🔍
Is limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius an outdated goal? Click here to find out.
The EPA estimates that there are over 2 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States, and up to 40% of these wells are leaking methane. Click here to learn about the solution!