Business cards are made from cotton T-shirt scraps

Printing company MOO brings back an old-fashioned way of making paper using fabric waste.

In the olden days, people made paper from leftover fabric, but as wood pulp became cheaper and more accessible, this traditional way of papermaking fell by the wayside. Now a printing company called MOO is hoping to bring back fabric-based paper with the launch of Cotton, a line of unusual business cards.

These cards are made from 100 percent cotton fabric, which comes exclusively from T-shirt offcuts; in other words, it’s the unwanted material that’s left over after a shirt is cut from a roll. Turning this fabric waste into paper diverts it from landfill and creates a wonderfully textured, smooth yet tough paper that takes any kind of ink. Because only white T-shirt fabric is used, the card is naturally white and does not require further bleaching.

For this project, MOO has partnered with the Mohawk paper mill, a fourth-generation family-owned business that does all manufacturing within the United States. “Taking a bold stance on the environment, Mohawk became the first U.S. paper mill to match all of its electricity with renewable wind power and the first U.S. premium paper mill to shift toward carbon neutral production.”

Richard Moross, CEO and founder of MOO, said, “It’s obvious and super crazy at the same time” — a valuable lesson in how to use materials that are available to us, particularly those that are part of the fashion industry, the second most-polluting industry in the world after oil and gas.

 

Defenders Of The Earth Report, Global Killing Of Land And Environmental Defenders In 2016

It has never been deadlier to take a stand against companies that steal land and destroy the environment. Our new report Defenders of the Earth found that nearly four people were murdered every week in 2016 protecting their land and the natural world from industries like mining, logging and agribusiness.

Murder is just one of a range of tactics used to silence land and environmental defenders, including death threats, arrests, sexual assault and aggressive legal attacks.

Jakeline Romero from Colombia (above, right) has faced years of threats and intimidation for speaking out against the devastating impacts of El Cerrejón, Latin America’s largest open-pit mine. Owned by London-listed companies Glencore, BHP Billiton and Anglo-American and run by a domestic operator, the project has been blamed for water shortages and mass displacement. (1)

This report tells the stories of countless people like Jakeline as they stand up to the might of multinationals, paramilitaries and even their own governments in the most dangerous countries on earth to be a defender. It also analyses why they are facing increased threats, and explores what can be done to keep activists safe.

 

KILLINGS OF LAND & ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS BY COUNTRY IN 2016

 

Killings of defenders are not only growing, they’re spreading too. In 2016 we documented 200 killings across 24 countries, compared to 185 across 16 in 2015. Almost 40% of those murdered were indigenous. A lack of prosecutions also makes it hard to identify those responsible, but we found strong evidence that the police and military were behind at least 43 killings, with private actors such as security guards and hitmen linked to 52 deaths.

Deadliest countries for activists

The ruthless scramble for the Amazon’s natural wealth makes Brazil, once again, the world’s deadliest country in terms of sheer numbers killed, though Honduras remains the most dangerous country per capita over the past decade.

Nicaragua is beginning to rival that dubious record. An inter-oceanic canal is set to slice the country in two, threatening mass displacement, social unrest and the violent suppression of those who stand against it. A voracious mining industry makes the Philippines stand out for killings in Asia.

In Colombia, killings hit an all-time high, despite – or perhaps because – of the recently signed peace deal between the government and the guerrilla group, the FARC. Areas previously under guerrilla control are now eyed enviously by extractive companies and paramilitaries, while returning communities are attacked for reclaiming land stolen from them during half a century of conflict.

India has seen killings spike against a backdrop of heavy-handed policing and the repression of peaceful protests and civic activism.

Defending national parks is now riskier than ever, particularly in Africa where large numbers of rangers are being killed, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And this isn’t a problem confined to any one corner of the planet. Developed countries are ramping up other methods to suppress activists, notably in the US, where environmental defenders are being given every reason to protest by the Trump administration.

It is increasingly clear that, globally, governments and business are failing in their duty to protect activists at risk. They are permitting a level of impunity that allows the vast majority of perpetrators to walk free, emboldening would-be assassins. Investors, including development banks, are fueling the violence by backing projects that harm the environment and trample human rights.

Ironically, it is the activists themselves who are painted as criminals, facing trumped-up criminal charges and aggressive civil cases brought by governments and companies seeking to silence them. This criminalisation is used to intimidate defenders, tarnish their reputations and lock them into costly legal battles.

Protect those on the frontline

In Defenders of the Earth, we urge governments, companies and investors to take steps to:

  • Tackle the root causes of risk – guaranteeing communities can make free and informed choices about whether and how their land and resources are used
  • Support and protect defenders – through specific laws, policies and practices
  • Ensure accountability for abuses – going beyond prosecuting those responsible for ordering or carrying out an attack, by ensuring that those actors, like international investors, who failed to support threatened defenders face consequences for their inaction

 

YOU CAN READ THIS REPORT HERE

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions

Just 100 companies are responsible for more than 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions over the last three decades, new research has revealed.

The Carbon Majors Report, from the Carbon Disclosure Project, found that just 25 of those companies are the source of more than half of greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established.

The most polluting investor-owned companies on the list are ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron, while state-backed Saudi Aramco, China’s coal industry and Russia’s Gazprom have been the top three greenhouse gas emitters overall.

China’s coal industry, which is dominated by a collection of state-owned or managed firms, has emitted an estimated 14.3 per cent of the world’s industrial greenhouse gases since 1988. The report takes entities these together, making them by far the biggest contributor to man-made climate change. Saudi Aramco is next on the list, having contributed 4.5 per cent, followed by Gazprom with 3.9 per cent.

By 1988, companies knew or should have known of the destabilising effects of their products on the environment, the CDP says. “Nonetheless, most companies have expanded extraction activities significantly in the time since, while non-carbon primary energy sources, such as renewables, have seen relatively very little investment.”

If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same pace as between 1988 and 2017, global average temperatures would soar by 4C by the end of the century, according to the report.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that an increase above 2C could lead to catastrophic and potentially irreversible changes to the world’s weather and ecosystems, including large-scale species extinction, flooding and food scarcity.

CDP urges investors in publicly traded fossil fuel companies to exert pressure on those firms by both private dialogue and public shareholder resolutions. Public companies are responsible for a fifth of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that investors can have significant influence on climate change, the report says.

Investors themselves face risks from the continued backing of fossil fuels and should ensure that companies analyse the effect of climate change scenarios on their business as well as creating transition plans for a low-carbon economy and investing in new technologies, CPD says.

The organisation, which is funded by private benefactors, governments and companies compiled its list mostly using publicly available data, attributing all the fossil fuels burned in industry to the producers that originally extracted them.

“Our purpose is not to name and shame firms, our purpose is to provide transparency and call attention to the quite extraordinary fact that just 100 companies played a crucial role in the problem,” said Pedro Faria, technical director of the Carbon Majors Database, which collected the information for the report. “It’s obvious they have a share of responsibility in the solution.”

Oil and gas companies have made some movements on green investments. Shell chief executive, Ben Van Beurden said on Monday that his firm plans to spend up to $1bn a year on its renewable energy division.

“In some parts of the world we are beginning to see battery electric cars starting to gain consumer acceptance” while wind and solar costs are falling fast, Mr Van Beurden said in a speech in Istanbul, Bloomberg reports.

“All of this is good news for the world and must accelerate,” while still offering opportunities for producers of fossil fuels, he said.

You Can Read This Report Here

Renewable energy outpaced nuclear for first time since 1984

For the first time in decades, the renewable energy sector generated more electrical power in the United States than nuclear power in March and April this year.

We are talking about utility-scale electricity generation and renewable resources have certainly held up to their promise of supplying clean, carbon-free, and affordable power.

And we can date this first-time event all the way back to 1984, when Ronald Regan was president, and “When Doves Cry” was the No. 1 hit on the radio, according to Green Tech Media.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Thursday that electricity production from utility-scale renewable sources exceeded nuclear generation in the most recent months for which data is available, meaning March and April.

The increase includes both seasonal and a growing trend in the overall growth of renewables in the U.S. as well as maintenance and refueling schedules for nuclear plants, which usually undergo maintenance during the spring and fall months.

 

 

The renewables growth has been spurred on by the scores of new wind and solar farms across the nation, as well as the recent increase in hydropower brought on by heavy snows and rain in the western states this past winter. Also, fully 60 percent of all utility-scale electrical generation capacity that came online last year was from solar and wind sources.

The rate of construction of new nuclear plants has actually fallen in recent decades, primarily due to soaring high costs and continuing public opposition to nuclear power. It should also be noted that most of our nuclear plants were built between 1970 and 1990, and many utility companies are in the process of retiring a number of the plants.

Basically, the EIA forecasts that nuclear power generation will pick up again during the summer months and nuclear power will generate more electricity than renewables for the year as a whole, even though nuclear power generation has remained flat at 19 percent of the country’s total generating capacity.

Here’s one other sobering fact to digest – coal and natural gas combined still accounted for 65 percent of electrical power generation in 2016.

However, the EIA projects an increase of 8.0 percent and 40 percent in wind and solar utility-scale generation, respectively, in 2017.

World’s biggest coal company closes 37 mines as solar power’s influence grows

The largest coal mining company in the world has announced it will close 37 mines because they are no longer economically viable.

Coal India, which produces around 82 per cent of India’s coal, said the mines would be decommissioned by March 2018.

The closures, of around 9 per cent of the state-run firm’s sites, will reportedly save around 8,000,000,000 rupees (£98m).

India’s solar sector has received heavy international investment, and the plummeting price of solar electricity has increased pressure on fossil fuel companies in the country.

The government has announced it will not build any more coal plants after 2022 and predicts renewables will generate 57 per cent of its power by 2027 – a pledge far outstripping its commitment in the Paris climate change agreement.

Plans for nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – about the same as the total amount in the UK – were scrapped in May, signalling a seismic shift in the India’s energy market.

Analyst Tim Buckley said the move away from the dirtiest fossil fuel and towards solar in the country would have “profound” implications on global energy markets.

“Measures taken by the Indian government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable,” he said.

“India’s solar tariffs have literally been free falling in recent months.”

A report in February by Delhi-based research group, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), found that if the cost of renewable energy continued to fall at the same rate, India could phase out coal completely by 2050.

These Cleaning Bots Can Zap Bacteria Out of Your Water Supply in Minutes

Scientists have unveiled spherical microbots capable of propelling themselves through water and killing off bacteria at the same time, potentially giving us a new and effective way of tackling contaminated water supplies.

Swimming through water infected with E. coli, the new bots were able to kill more than 80 percent of the bacteria present inside 20 minutes, and because they’re magnetic they can be easily pulled from the water too.

That’s a big advantage over adding cleaning chemicals to water, chemicals which stick around after use and may not be very effective, according to the team from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany.

“One of the most persistent problems affecting people throughout the world is inadequate access to clean water,” write the researchers. “Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop more effective, innovative, low-cost, robust water-cleaning methods, which do not adversely affect the environment or damage human health.”

Enter the microbots, based on the ‘Janus particle’ bots developed at Max Planck last year. Like those bots, the new ones are divided in two – one half is made of magnesium, which creates hydrogen bubbles in water and acts as a propulsion system.

The other half is made of alternating iron and gold layers topped off with silver nanoparticles, and acts as the bacteria-blasting part of the mini machine. The iron and gold layers trap the target bacteria, and the nanoparticles kill them off.

It’s the iron that enables magnets to draw out the microbots after they’ve done their cleaning duties, along with the trapped, dead bacteria, because you don’t really want to be drinking or swimming around in water that’s packed with microbots.

The more bots that get added, the more effective the cleaning is likely to be, say the researchers, although an 80 percent clean up rate is pretty impressive already.

With around 663 million people in the world living without clean drinking water, the bots are a promising option for places where electricity is scarce and funds are low, though we don’t know yet how long it might be before we see them in action out in the real world.

There’s plenty of strong competition when it comes to miniature water-cleaning robots, as well: we’ve previously seen a robot that can produce its own electricity and clean up water pollution as it moves across water.

Last year, meanwhile, an international team of researchers developed graphene-based nanobots capable of pulling lead out of wastewater quickly and efficiently. Of course if we were a little kinder to the planet we might not need so many of these inventions.

The researchers behind the new bot are promising to continue working with and refining their creation: they say the bot is “biocompatible, environmentally friendly, and does not produce chemical waste during and after operation”.

“Thus, the combination of active systems and nanomaterials to develop new micro and nanomotors can open new horizons for demanded medicinal, energy and environmental applications,” the scientists conclude.