Ever been to a green sand beach? The newest geohack to fight climate change

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Project Vesta is conducting an experiment by spreading a green mineral on beaches, where its interaction with the waves will pull carbon from the air. On a beach in the Caribbean, a nonprofit called Project Vesta will soon begin testing a radical new way to fight climate change that involves spreading ground-up olivine—a cheap green mineral—over the sand, where ocean waves will break down the mineral, which in turn will pull CO2 from the air. “Our vision is to help reverse climate change by turning a trillion tons of carbon dioxide into rock,” says Tom Green, executive director of Project Vesta. Read Full Story

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Coating seeds in this microfungus superpowers plants’ carbon capture abilities

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Soil Carbon Co. is developing a new approach that allows plants to sequester way more carbon than they do naturally, which could help sink billions of tons of carbon into existing farmland. On farms along the East Coast of Australia, growers are testing a new approach to fighting climate change: planting seeds coated in microbial fungi and bacteria that can help capture CO2 from the air. Read Full Story

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These diamonds are made of CO2 sucked from the air

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Forget conflict-free: Your next diamond can be carbon negative. On the rooftop of a power plant near Zurich, Switzerland, a row of large machines pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere . Some of that CO2 then goes to a production facility in Chicago, where a startup called Aether is turning it into something new: the world’s first carbon-negative diamonds. Read Full Story

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These mushroom balls turn your yard into a climate-change-fighting machine

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Drop some mycelium spores into your watering can, and the next thing you know, your lawn is your own personal carbon offset. American lawns account for a lot of green space —by some estimates, 40 million hectares, or 2% of all the land area in the continental U.S.—and while that grass does absorb some carbon dioxide, it’s not as much as other plants. Lawns also require a lot of upkeep, and can end up having a bigger carbon footprint than what they sequester. Now NetZero wants to remove some of the negative externalities of lawn care by making your yard absorb extra carbon, via the power of mycelium, the thread-like feeding structures of fungi. Read Full Story

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These carbon-negative, ocean-degradable straws and forks are made from greenhouse gases

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Newlight has developed a material—made by microbes—that uses methane to make everything from utensils to purses to glasses. At a new production facility in Huntington Beach, California, a 50-foot-tall stainless steel tank is filled with 15,000 gallons of salt water, and inside microbes are turning methane—a potent greenhouse gas—into a new material that could simultaneously help tackle the challenges of climate change and ocean plastic. If the material is made into a disposable fork and ends up in the ocean, it degrades as easily as cellulose, turning into a food source for microbes. Read Full Story

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How AI can fight the climate problem hiding inside buildings

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A new startup called Carbon Lighthouse is using hundreds of sensors combined with AI to dramatically lower carbon emissions. There’s a climate culprit hiding inside the bowels of nearly every building in the country. Almost 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions comes from the construction and operation of buildings, and those operations are surprisingly inefficient. From HVAC systems to water chillers to air compressors, the little-seen systems that control things such as lighting and temperature often use far more energy than they need. Read Full Story

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Could electric cars be the solution that saves California’s power grid?

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California is doubling down on EVs. Critics say more plug-in cars will strain the power grid. Here’s why they’re wrong. Climate change ramped up its attacks on California this year, serving up massive wildfires and blistering heat waves , which led to widespread power outages . To fight back, Governor Gavin Newsom took aim at heat-trapping carbon pollution from cars. In September, he signed an order to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars in California by 2035. Read Full Story

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Shining a light on companies that have achieved carbon-neutrality

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The nonprofit Climate Neutral is one of our World Changing Ideas honorees for 2020. A new label will soon start appearing on products you see in stores: “Climate Neutral Certified.” Climate Neutral, a nonprofit launched in 2019, helps brands measure their carbon footprints, offset them by investing in vetted pollution-capturing projects, and make long-term plans to reduce emissions. Once a company goes through the process, it can print the label on its packaging—a symbol the nonprofit hopes will become as ubiquitous as the USDA organic label. Because calculating a corporate carbon footprint can be a pricey, complex process for brands, Climate Neutral also created a new digital tool to make it simpler. “We wanted to democratize the process of carbon counting and demystify it,” says CEO Austin Whitman. “For many companies, just starting to understand where their carbon emissions come from is a huge step forward.” The group recruited more …

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Toward a new Bauhaus: How a century-old design movement could help save the planet

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The Bauhaus, a wildly influential design movement in 20th-century Europe, has new relevance in the 21st century: as a model for fighting climate change. The European Union has an ambitious new goal of becoming an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Announced by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen during her State of the European Union speech in mid-September, the goal would be part of a European Green Deal to transform the economy, decoupling economic growth from resource use and turning the immense challenges presented by climate change into opportunities. Read Full Story

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These three timber buildings could represent the future of green architecture

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Timber buildings are popping up around the world. Are they the solution to construction’s carbon problem? Construction materials alone, including carbon and steel, contribute 11% of global carbon emissions (by comparison, air travel contributes about 2.5%). That’s why architects and development companies around the world are opting for a novel but not-so-new solution: wood. A study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in Germany, found that with proper forest management, a global boom in wood buildings could sequester up to 700 million tons of carbon a year (wood naturally stores carbon, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere). The idea is catching on: Google’s Sidewalk Labs has proposed a 12-acre timber neighborhood in Toronto, while in February, France mandated that all public buildings after 2022 be constructed of at least 50% wood or other organic materials. The University of Arkansas completed the largest timber building in the …

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