In recent years, there have been multiple known alternatives to using fossil fuels, and some countries have already began using them and lobbying for them. I dare say it’s now a matter of legislation and execution in various institutions so that they may all follow suit in this turn to renewable power. For instance, solar energy powers schools in Denmark, villages for the homeless in the Netherlands, and the entirety of Diu in India. Meanwhile, wind energy is to run millions of homes in the UK, some states in America, and about 70% of Australia.
And now, Costa Rica announced a pledge to become the first entirely decarbonized country in the world by 2021.
Carlos Alvarado, [Costa Rica’s new president and] a 38-year-old former journalist, made the announcement to a crowd of thousands during his inauguration on Wednesday.
“Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first,” Mr. Alvarado said. “We have the titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies.”
The president even seems to live consistently to his words, arriving at the ceremony aboard a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle. In addition to decarbonization, the country has previously declared plans to entirely eliminate single-use plastics by the same year. That’s right — Costa Rica wants to lead a lot of environmental endeavors by 2021.
But what’s so special about the target date?
“When we reach 200 years of independent life we will take Costa Rica forward and celebrate … that we’ve removed gasoline and diesel from our transportation,” [Mr. Alvarado] promised during a victory speech.
Right. By that time, Costa Rica will have celebrated its 200th year of independence. I suppose it’s part of the same push and momentum that they were able to gain a record in 2017 for producing more than 99% of the country’s electricity using only renewable sources.
Perhaps acknowledging that the history of the people is also the history of their land, Costa Rica wants to celebrate the anniversary of their independence with a healthier, greener, and cleaner environment.
Unable to resist our sweet stripey friends — and of course, the danger to our food resource brought about by the dwindling of their populations — different sectors have already been participating in bee saving initiatives. There is the UK’s ban on harmful pesticides. There is the transformation of empty lots into bee farms by a group of Detroit locals. Recently, there is free ice cream from food company Häagen-Dazs to promote the bee saving advocacy.
The latest to join the hive is a Polish startup company that created a biodegradable paper from energy-rich glucose that may feed bees. Not only is it definitely usable for us humans because the material isn’t sticky at all, Bee Saving Paper is very nutritious and delicious for our pollinator friends.
The material is made by dissolving a special kind of sugar into water, making a paste that beekeepers use to nourish their hives during the winter. According to the paper startup’s website, only 0.5 kilograms of the substance is enough to feed several thousand bees.
The paper is also made with honey plant seeds, which means that once the bee eats up all the glucose, the paper’s biodegradation will grow another “rest stop” for bees in its place.
Now you might ask: why would any creature want to eat paper? What could make it seem sumptuous? Well, the designers have also come up with a solution to make the Bee Saving Paper look yummy.
Since bees see fields of flowers as circles of colored light on the ultraviolet spectrum, the engineers used water-based UV paint to cover the paper with colored circles that are only visible — and attractive — to bees.
Since last year, the startup has already successfully executed its first field test. They helped out a Polish beekeeper whose bee farm populations were rapidly decreasing. Now, the company aims to promote their bee saving products to large brands and businesses that need paper. Which could be every business out there, really.
[A]ny business or manufacturing company using paper can start making their products out of materials that are environmentally friendly and nourishing to pollinators — from paper bags to parking tickets and picnic plates.
I can’t imagine how exciting it would be to do everyday chores. Shop with a paper bag, read food labels printed on paper, drink from a paper cup, write love letters on paper… do pretty much everything as a bee saving hero!
Carbon calculators, among other methods, are helping individuals reduce harmful footprints on the planet. But due to the Trump administration’s motion to save hazardous coal plants, our own actions are becoming futile. As time goes by, more organized acts from influential players and institutions become necessary to address the apparent regression caused by important global figures such as Trump.
Of most concern are the political issues that have to do with the environment. In retaliation to the retraction of Obama-era environmental campaigns, for instance, Bloomberg has been fighting to retire coal factories since last year.
“The war on coal has never been led by Washington. It has been led by market forces that are providing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy,” Bloomberg told reporters… “The war on coal is saving tens of thousands of lives, and we won’t stop fighting until we save every last one.”
It seems the Clean Power Plan, which has worked towards regulating harmful substances, may be coming to an end. To say environmental groups are infuriated may be an understatement.
“Coal jobs aren’t coming back,” Bloomberg said. “Trying to force taxpayers to subsidize them back into existence will only lead to more death and disease.”
In the hopes of retiring 259 U.S. coal plants, Bloomberg is contributing $64 million to activist group the Sierra Club. In total, the company has provided $100 million to assist the country in finding carbon-free sources. Plus, nowadays, it’s hard not to find inspiration when alternative eco-friendly options like solar power and wind energy are becoming more widespread and accessible.
Cheap labor or breathable air? I think I’ll take the latter.
The past decade has probably seen the worst environmental damage humans have ever caused in history. However, it is also probably witness to the best human efforts in reversing the tragic situation and working towards accountability. Chile will create five new national parks in a preservation effort, China will reforest an entire area as big as Ireland (6.6 million hectares!), and announced most recently, Australia will spend 500 million dollars to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
If we are to continue these attempts at environmental preservation, then financial support from the government has to be accompanied by cultural efforts. By which I mean we need education. And who else can we educate more than those who will inherit this earth? To continue our environmental progress, it is children who foremost need to understand how nature works.
That’s exactly the objective of this magical wooden classroom designed by Studio Weave for Belvue School.
[T]he building was created to help reconnect students with nature and it opens up to an adjacent woodland recently acquired by the school to serve as an educational nature reserve . . . Constructed from a low budget originally allocated for a cargotecture school expansion, the 1,600-square-foot Wooden Classroom comprises a “cozy lounge” informal teaching space and a “sociable kitchen” student-run school cafe next to the woods.
With curved ceilings and clerestory windows, the wooden classroom is entirely provided with natural lighting and ventilation. Students may appreciate the neighbouring woodland through large window walls. To constantly check in with the nature aspect, a forest management specialist was consulted by Studio Weave throughout the construction process for Belvue School.
“We identified that the boundary between the playground and woods marks the border between familiar school territory and the magical, mysterious world of trees,” said Studio Weave. “This very important threshold, symbolising the entrance to another world, like the gate to the secret garden, or the cupboard to Narnia became a focal point and we consequently designed the woodland classrooms to act as a gatehouse between one world and another.”
If that doesn’t sound magical, I’m not sure what does. It makes me want to be a child and rediscover the earth with fresh eyes again. Maybe that’s what we all need to really care for nature. Then again, bringing back the past is totally impossible. So here’s to hoping the children retain the wonder and magic they experience in this gorgeous wooden classroom to the bigger world once they themselves grow bigger in the future.