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Saving the Planet: Where Will We Finish in Our Race Against Climate Change?

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2017 will go down as yet another year in history with landmark changes in global warming and climate change. As estimated by the 2017 Global Carbon Budget, global carbon emissions this year are on course to touch a record high level of 37 billion tonnes. Also, 2017 is set to be among three of the hottest years ever recorded, the United Nations revealed earlier this month. Further, 2017 is also slated to be the hottest year ever on record which has seen no intrusion from the El Nino effect that results in heat being released from the Pacific Ocean about once in every five years.

“These findings underline the rising risks to people, economies and the very fabric of life on Earth if we fail to get on track with the aims and ambitions of the Paris agreement,” Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa said of the situation ahead of the Bonn Climate Conference that took place earlier this month in Germany. Her sentiment is widely accepted and shared by the representatives of almost every country in the world, by environmental experts across the globe, by the media, by me and probably by you as well. However, in the blitz of repeated warnings and fresh facts nearly every week of every month, the only aspect that seems to be a regular is the lack of action on the issue especially on national and international levels, and that is concerning, considering the vigour with which promises are made by the leaders of some of the largest countries on the international stage. Thus, in the wake of fresh warnings by scientists on climate change, the developments in the recently concluded Bonn Conference do not seem as satisfactory when billed against these same warnings. Let’s have a look at each of the two.

A second warning: are you aware?

Starting July this year, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries have issued a global warning to humanity in a letter calling for a change in both attitude and action to save our planet and ourselves from our own recklessness. Titled ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’, the letter puts light on key issues that threaten our survival: shrinking freshwater resources and marine fisheries, an increase in the number of dead zones, declining proportion of forests, a decline in many vertebrate species, increasing temperatures and carbon dioxide emissions across the world, and an increase in the human population towards unsustainable levels. The letter claims that with the current trends unchanged, many life forms will be extinct or headed towards extinction before the end of the century. However, it also credits humanity with one achievement of a decline in the presence of ozone depleting substances. The letter also lists the measures that are absolutely necessary to bring about the desired change. Some of these include restoration of forest areas, repopulating native species, reducing food waste and making dietary shifts towards plant based foods, and promoting education for women to reduce fertility rates. By the beginning of this month, the letter had received optimum attention from the media.

The movement, started by William Ripple of Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, marks the 25th anniversary of the first “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity’ that was issued by nearly 1,700 scientists. “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated,” reads the original letter from 1992 under the sub-heading “warning”. It is a sad reminder of how little we have progressed in 25 years in our duty to make our home planet remain the home planet for the generations to come.

Bonn Climate Change Conference: Does slow and steady win the race?

In the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, world leaders pledged to ensure that their countries would do their best to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in this century. Since then, a Donald Trump led United States has backed out of the agreement, and climate experts worldwide have sounded alarms claiming that the goal is extremely difficult to achieve going by the current trajectory of the countries that are major contributors of carbon emissions.

The Bonn Conference on climate change or the COP23 in Bonn, Germany was held from November 6 to November 17 to further the negotiations between the involved parties on how the agreement is supposed to pan out 2020 onwards. Some minor yet positive developments at the conference included continued participation from the US delegation signaling their involvement despite Trump’s decisions to take a different course, the launch of the Powering Past Coal Alliance led by the UK and Canada the members of which seek to phase out existing traditional coal power in their jurisdictions, and a long awaited agreement between the parties to work on issues linking climate change and agriculture. That’s about it.

Many of the difficult decisions and issues to be tackled have been relegated to the following year. Negotiations took place on establishing a “rulebook” to govern the processes required to be able to move in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The deadline for this task is the COP next year in Poland, and a draft of the implementation guidelines was to be ready by the end of the Bonn conference. However, a lot of disagreements between countries on issues such as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) have resulted in the requirements of additional sessions to finish the draft in time.

The tussle between the developed and developing countries over the issue of climate finance arose throughout the talks and remains largely unsettled, again requiring additional sessions for a consensus to be reached among the parties. Further, leaders of island nations were left frustrated due to delays by wealthy nations in compensating these countries which are most threatened by the effects of climate change. “This means life or death for us”, said Tommy Remengesau, the president of Palau, saying that the issue “is a moral question, and it requires a moral answer.” The pace with which developments are taking place make it quite evident that we are still far away from the goals set during the Paris Accord. With the current trends, we are more likely to end up with a rise in global temperatures of 3 degrees Celsius this century, the results of which may be catastrophic. In the meantime, the warnings will keep increasing. They will keep increasing till the point at which they become regrets, a transition which it’s possible that many may not even live to see. “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home”, wrote Ripple in his letter in his bid to make anyone who comes across his piece aware of where we’re headed. Perhaps change will come only when we are made aware, albeit painfully, of what it is that we are losing, or that which we may have already lost.

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A student of economics with a keen eye for developments in the geopolitical sphere, Manak is a curious individual with a penchant for writing about anything that makes him ponder long enough.

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Redefining marine recycling through painting and sculpture

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Frutos María Martínez, a self-taught visual artist, has been rescuing waste from the ocean’s waters for decades, turning it into beautiful and elegant artwork. Finishing his first painting and sculpture pieces at just fourteen, Frutos has spent his entire life guided by his passion for art. Becoming a professional artist in the mid-1980s after working at car dealerships, Frutos used his skills and expertise with metal to create sculptures and paintings, inspired by the materials he found along the Mediterranean Coast.

In his pieces, Frutos combines numerous medias to create sculptures, paintings, and collages. As part of his process, María spends time exploring the beaches and waters of Alicante, a Mediterranean city along the southeastern coast of Spain and his home since 1985.

Here, he has found all sorts of materials that have gone on to become pieces in his collections.  Steel, iron, wood, nets, and textiles, among other objects, that Frutos salvaged from the ocean can all be found in his art. 

By reusing and recycling these found objects, the artist is able to give new life to abandoned and forgotten waste. María recognizes the environmental issues we are facing at a global level, and his art seeks to raise awareness of these challenges. As his materials are pulled straight from the Mediterranean Sea, he is especially invested in taking care of marine life and our oceans. With each item the artist salvages from the ocean, one less piece of waste is polluting the waters. 

Once the flotsam is collected, Frutos returns to his workshop where he creates works of art in different forms. While other artists may send their work to be fabricated by others, María could not imagine his pieces being created in a place other than his studio. Here, he uses his innate skills with metal and machinery to forge and construct works of beauty. His sculptures follow hard lines, both straight and curved, and his paintings exude color. When making his collages, he takes his found mixed media and creates new stories. He adds paint to wood that was floating in the sea or combines various materials together, reimagining a life for objects that were once trash.

With a true passion for his work, he creates through intuition. He explains that there is a moment when his art becomes completely emotional and personal, “each piece is imbued with my experiences and emotion, all lumped together, all conveyed by means of materials, technique, design and imagination.” The works his hands awaken and renew are the convergence of his mastery and his spirit, bringing new life to discarded objects.These fascinating pieces have been shown in numerous exhibitions, most recently at the Museum of the University of Alicante. There, the artist presented Acero y pecios del mar (Steel and Sea Wrecks), where two collections were displayed jointly, one offering sculptures focused on steel as a material and the other called Nueva Vida, or New Life, a collection whose pieces were created by recycling materials salvaged from sea wreckage. With this collection, he introduced a new layer into his work, adding an element of chaos and destruction to the backstories of his materials.

An earlier exhibition, Janus, displayed over 40 of Frutos’ sculptures on the University of Alicante’s campus. This exhibit, named for the Roman god of doors, gates and transitions, was influenced by the duality of life, of beginnings and ends, and of old and new. While his finished pieces reflect this duality, the materials used to create them manifest this theme through their first death being revived into new life, a tangible and concrete example of the contrasting polarity he was inspired by. 

As with his sculpture-centered exhibitions, his shows highlighting his paintings are full of found materials. Pieces that Frutos creates hang with the weight of rescued and recycled materials, such as rusty iron, steel, and wood. This media has been taken from the ocean and included in his art, conjoining with resin, sands, and paint in bold and striking colors.

Frutos María’s ability to not only find new meaning in recycled and salvaged objects, but to clean up the oceans and make the environment less polluted, translate through his moving pieces of artwork, and because of this, he has made a name for himself in the art world.

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Wind energy, the best way to invest into renewable energies

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Over the last few years, wind energy has become the type of energy everyone can not stop talking about. This type of energy brings lots of benefits into the table when compared to more traditional sources of energy, like the energy proceeding from radiation or charcoal. Wind energy is cheap to produce, the most efficient renewable energy, and, most importantly, it is an ecological sensitive alternative.

Why should you invest in wind energy?

Wind energy is the energy of tomorrow. This type of energy made their big appearance during the XX century, when wind turbines would be used to bring energy to areas located far from the electricity grid, such as isolated farms, houses or factories. 

During the XXI century, wind energy’s popularity kept on rising. Wind energy is as cheap to produce as traditional sources of energy, like radiation or charcoal burning, while falling into the category of renewable energies. This made wind energy become a top contender in the energy industry. 

The wind industry’s future looks to be brighter than ever. The current generation is pretty aware of pollution and the effect it has on climate change. This has caused that governments all around the world start promoting new legislations and campaigns promoting renewable energy and, since wind energy is the most efficient type of renewable energy, it is expected that it will become the main source of energy by 2030. Now is the best moment to jump into the wind energy trend!

Making sure you set up an efficient wind farm

As it has been previously stated, wind energy is definitely an option you should consider if you are looking to power up any of your properties or business. However, setting up a wind farm isn’t a small investment, therefore, before starting this process we need to gather all the information we can about its viability. That is why we can not stop recommending that you consult with professional companies like Vortex FDC.

Vortex FDC is a company that has made a name for itself in the wind industry sector. Vortex assists their customers with all the information regarding wind resource they could need.

For example, an important factor we need to consider before setting our wind farm is the terrain. Not all terrains are appropriate to locate a wind farm, therefore, the terrain would need to be assessed before an installation that could result in a waste of assets if the terrain is not appropriate for it. Vortex FDC helps their customers evaluate where the wind farm is going to be placed, and providing information about the wind to choose the type of turbines that would yield better results in that area. Factors like the type of wind (extreme winds, turbulences, etc) or the temperature need to be taken into account when deciding which type of turbine would be more suitable for our wind farm. For example, if we plan to build a wind farm in an area that gets freezing and snowy in winter, we would need to get a turbine system that is cold resistant. 

Vortex FDC runs a numerical weather model to feature all the variables that could affect the production levels of your wind farm, regardless of it being situated off-shore or in-shore. Thanks to their always up-to-date technology, you will be able to avoid unpleasant surprises regarding the energy production of your wind farm. 

Overall, opting to use wind energy is an amazing idea that will benefit not only our budget, but also the planet. But, in order to do so, we need to make sure that wind farms are viable, and for that, we need to rely on professionals like Vortex FDC.

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Saving the Planet? It Is a Local Issue

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When we get caught up in common environmental issues, we start to think that it’s a bigger problem, that is down to centralised areas and big cities. And while urban areas are expanding, the route to sustainability as a solution comes from an approach beyond urbanism. Because urban areas bear the brunt because they have more CO2 emissions and larger carbon footprints, the thing to note in this respect that saving the planet is not necessarily a large-scale issue. In fact, it is a local issue. 

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The largest cities require urban developments, and this is a part of modern life. But when we go back to the 1990s, when sustainable city initiatives began emerging, we can see where the argument for the compact city began. This can have a positive impact on sustainability in a variety of ways but also improves greenhouse gas emissions. But this is where smaller communities can become invaluable. 

Smaller communities have more power in many respects. From the perspective of local councils, it can be easier to incorporate an initiative that benefits the community, rather than having to go all the way to Westminster. Now, it can be easier to sign up for a local initiative, such as a solar community, rather than having to get permission from a higher power. And from the perspective of a community, it is far more controllable.

Saving the planet in an urban sense is about changing the infrastructure, which can take years, if not decades. However, smaller communities are able to utilise the location for the benefit of their immediate surroundings. This is something very important to note. Whenever you want to make a significant impact, be it in charity, or in the environment, it starts at home. As saving the planet is a local issue in this respect, it’s far easier to communicate the message. Smaller communities are in close contact. This means the message is easily spread. Throw into the mix community meetings, and how businesses look to develop on local issues, rather than spearheading initiatives overseas or in big cities, and it provides a tactical methodology to help on a small scale. 

When you combine this with the fact that smaller organisations such as schools, naturally have a lower carbon footprint, this is the perfect opportunity to teach the younger generations how they can positively impact the world. Saving the planet is a local issue. We have to remember that if we are to make any impact, we have to look after our own. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t rely on large organisations or big cities to do the job, but if you want to do something right, do it yourself. 

Saving the planet is something that we can control from our own home. From the practices that we preach to the examples we set, saving the planet is about keeping it close to home before you start to spread yourself far and wide. If every small town started to look after its own carbon emissions, this would pay for the country, and the world, several times over.

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