Major airports are converting cooking oil into jet fuel. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is using the grease from the DFW McDonalds to create fuel, helping to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and increase sustainable efforts.
According to Pratik Chandhoke, the technical services manager for sustainable aviation fuel at Neste US Inc., the chemical makeup of fuel and cooking oil is similar. He said, “If you look at any oil, they all have these building molecules, hydrocarbons. We can take those atoms, and we then do some processing magic in our refineries, and we actually mimic the chemistry of a jet fuel.”
Around 32,000 pounds of cooking oil is recycled from restaurants at DFW airport and converted to sustainable aviation fuel or SAF. One gallon of cooking oil is about three-quarters of a gallon of SAF.
Other major airports are committed to becoming more sustainable by eliminating jet fuel. As SAF becomes more common the price will even out and become more comparable to the current price of fossil jet fuel. Right now, the cost of creating SAF can be up to six times higher than normal fuel.
A Texas based company called Navigator CO2 plans to build pipelines across Iowa that can capture carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol, fertilizer and other industrial plants. Iowa’s Bruce Rastetter’s Summit Agricultural Group has also put out plans to capture carbon emission. CEO of Navigator Matt Vining, along with president of Summit Ag Investors, Justin Kirchhoff, did an interview with the Des Moines Register.
Both companies have the same goal of stopping carbon dioxide emissions from reaching the atmosphere. This would ideally stop carbon dioxide emissions from contributing to climate change. The companies will do this by liquefying the carbon dioxide, and then injecting it into a rock formation under the ground.
Vining told the Des Moines Register that once the carbon dioxide is injected into the rock formation, it will be there permanently. Kirchhoff said their project can cut carbon emissions from ethanol plants in half.
Vining commented on the controversial nature of pipelines. In the past, oil and gas pipelines have been opposed by many, including Indigious American communities. Vining this is different because, “Capturing CO2 from the environment is in the public’s best interest … it’s a public need”.
Neither company has an exact layout for where the pipelines will be.
The University of Iowa has outlined six new goals to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing sustainability literacy, and education by 2030 according to a Iowa Now. These goals are a collaboration between the 2030 UI Sustainability Task Force which includes: faculty, staff, and students.
As provided in the press release the goals framework include:
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and to pursue a renewable energy supply strategy through energy conservation and a comprehensive decarbonization plan.
Embed sustainability into campus culture.
Expand sustainability research, scholarships, and create opportunities for researchers to find solutions.
Use campus as a “living laboratory” for sustainability education and exploration by increasing opportunities for students and researchers to use sustainability as a means for education.
Provide students with skills and knowledge to be sustainable in a 21st century society.
Facilitate knowledge exchange among the campus community, the state of Iowa, the country, and the world by creating partnerships.
Some achievements that the university has made since 2010, according to Iowa Now, include:
Total energy usage is slightly lower regardless of 15 new buildings and additional campus changes.
40% of UI energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources.
75% reduction in annual coal consumption.
50% of UI’s purchased power comes from wind energy.
More than seventy percent of hops, which give some beers their bitter flavor, are produced in Washington state, specifically in the Yakima Basin. NOAA National Centers for Environment Information reports that in 2015, that area of Washington faced severe drought conditions from June through August. In fact, hop’s whole growing season in Washington that year was uncommonly warm. The state still managed to produce nearly 60 million pounds of hops, but yields for certain varieties of the grain were much lower than expected. The warmer weather in that region is expected to continue hurting hop production, specifically European varieties that are grown there.
Brewing beer also requires great quantities of water. Drought conditions in many parts of California have made beer production difficult and costly. For taste, brewers prefer to use river and lake water, but as river flows reduce and reservoirs run dry, many breweries have had to switch to groundwater. Groundwater is typically mineral-rich and can give beer a funny taste. Some brewers have likened it to “brewing with Alka-Seltzer.”
In 2015, top breweries released a statement detailing the way climate change affects production,
“Warmer temperatures and extreme weather events are harming the production of hops, a critical ingredient of beer that grows primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Rising demand and lower yields have driven the price of hops up by more than 250% over the past decade. Clean water resources, another key ingredient, are also becoming scarcer in the West as a result of climate-related droughts and reduced snow pack.”
Representatives from national scientific academies in the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Indian, Mozambique, Nigeria and many other countries that formerly were a part of the British empire authored and endorsed the document, titled, “Commonwealth Academies of Science Consensus Statement on Climate Change.”
They point out that even if all of the 160 countries that ratified the Paris Climate Accord in 2015 met their greenhouse emission goals, global temperatures will still rise by 3 degree Celsius before 2100. Not only do the scientists call for political action on climate change, but they asked that it be informed by data.
Looking forward to 2030 climate change talks, they write, “The Commonwealth academies of science call upon Commonwealth Heads of Government to use the best possible scientific evidence to guide action on their 2030 commitments under the Paris accord, and to take further action to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases emissions during the second half of the 21st Century.”
The Commonwealth’s message is similar a move in the U.S. for more scientists to run for positions in congress. At least 60 scientists are running at the federal level during this year’s mid-terms. Non-profit organizations like 314-Action are asking more scientists to join the race. 314-Action is “committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration’s attacks on science.”
Scientist or career politician, commonwealth representative or U.S. congressperson, policy makers worldwide must find a way to achieve net-zero carbon emissions during the second half of this century in order to meet the Paris Climate Accord goal to keep temperatures 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels.
Here’s a dilemma that’s common among Christmas-observing households around the holidays: Real tree or artificial tree?
The question goes a little further than skin-deep. There has long been a debate about the safety and eco-friendliness of the real tree versus the artificial tree, with parties on both sides presenting evidence for their claims. The goal, overall, is to figure out which one leaves a smaller carbon footprint–is it the fake tree, the one that you buy once and haul out of your closet every year for a decade, thus saving on transportation costs for the real tree? Or is it the real thing, a true Christmas pine tree, an all-natural, biodegradable organism that won’t be left in a landfill?
The numbers are tricky because they’re variable. A lot of the measurements depend on how the real tree was transported to a store or warehouse, how much fuel that took, how eco-friendly the harvesting process for real trees is. Fake tree fans usually make an interesting point: with a fake tree, you save literally a decade’s worth of production.
Real tree enthusiasts have their own retort: artificial trees are plastic. PVC plastic, actually. They are definitely reusable, but once they’re discarded, they end up in landfills and in the ecosystem with other bits of equally dangerous trash that will take years and years to break down properly. Most artificial trees are imported from China, but a consumer can more easily pick local businesses when searching for a real tree.
There is a general consensus that both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Whatever decision a consumer makes, researching before a purchase is one of the best ways to give back to the Earth this holiday season.
The authors point out that the number of extreme weather events resulting in $1 billion or more in damages has increased by 400 percent since the 1980s. Iowa, for example, has endured three floods costing more than $1 billion in the last decade, up three-fold since the 1990s.
If climate change is not curtailed, researchers predict costs associated with severe weather and the health impacts of emitting greenhouse gases will reach $360 billion annually.
For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.
A statewide conference titled “Clean Water-Livable Communities” is scheduled to take place in Fairfield, Iowa on Thursday, November 9th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The conference will center around strategies to make clean water a top economic priority in Iowa. Four panel sessions are scheduled including: Iowa Water Overview; Robust, well-managed soils create clean water; Funding our clean water solutions; and Economic opportunities that result from clean water.
John Ikerd will be featured as the day’s keynote speaker. After receiving his PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri, Ikerd worked in traditional agriculture for about a decade before he shifted his focus to sustainable agriculture during the farm crisis of the 1980’s. Since then, the Missouri-native has published six books about sustainable agriculture and economics, including Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense and Small Farms are Real Farms: Sustaining People Through Agriculture. Ikerd now lives in Fairfield, Iowa and co-teaches a Sustainable Economics course at Maharishi University of Management.
The conference is organized by the American Sustainable Business Council, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Southeast Iowa Food Hub and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club. Tickets will be available soon at http://www.fairfieldacc.com/site/buy-tickets.html.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in bicycle crashes in 2015. Hamann explained that most fatal crashes happen when motor vehicles strike bicyclists.
For more information about Dr. Hamann’s research, visit Iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.
This week’s On The Radio segment discusses how an extremely remote island in the Pacific ocean bares the highest litter density in the world.
Transcript: Henderson Island is one of the most remote islands in the world and is also the most affected by pollution from plastic debris.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
When researchers traveled to the tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the island.
The island is situated at the edge of the South Pacific gyre, where ocean currents meet in a vortex that captures floating trash, carrying some of it from as far away as Scotland.
Over 99 percent of the debris on the island is made of plastic—most pieces are unidentifiable fragments. The researchers say that fishing-related activities and land-based refuse likely produced most of the debris.
The researchers say the density of trash was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, despite Henderson Island’s extreme remoteness. The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.