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Warming Trends: Americans’ Alarm Grows About Climate Change, a Plant-Based Diet Packs a Double Carbon Whammy, and Making Hay from Plastic India

Warming Trends: Americans’ Alarm Grows About Climate Change, a Plant-Based Diet Packs a Double Carbon Whammy, and Making Hay from Plastic India

Katelyn Weisbrod

CULTURE

Climate Change is a Growing Concern

The number of Americans concerned about global warming is now three times greater than the number of Americans who dismiss it.

That’s according to a twice-yearly public opinion polling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The most recent poll Designed for September 2021, found that 33 percent of respondents were “alarmed” about global warming. These respondents were most supportive of climate action, and they strongly believed in it.

Climate change will have an impact on our lives. 

The poll, which was conducted since 2008, divides respondents into six segments based upon their level of concern over global warming. 

In addition to the third who were “alarmed” respondents, the latest results showed that 25 percent said they were “concerned,” putting the majority of Americans in the two categories most supportive of climate action. Just 9 percent were “dismissive,” the category for respondents who rejected climate science and were least supportive of climate action. Since 2017, the number of people who are cautious, disengaged, or dismissive has declined while that of those who are alarmed has almost doubled.

“There is some degree of seasonality to public opinion on climate change,” said John Kotcher, an assistant professor at George Mason University involved in the research. “But some of these increases were so large in magnitude, it’s hard to imagine it’s purely just a seasonal effect.”

Kotcher suggested that Americans are more concerned about climate change because of increased political leadership, climate activism, and more severe heatwaves and hurricanes.

“I think we have some evidence to suggest that the extreme weather events that occurred over the summer and in the run up to the September 2021 survey likely played a role in some of the increases that we observe,” Kotcher said. “And the fact that media attention to the issue has also been growing likely amplified some of those effects.”

SOLUTIONS

Biking to Work Accelerates when Traffic Slows 

Reduce traffic speeds to 20 MPH could make it easier for commuters to use bicycles to commute to work. A new study was conducted.

Researchers at the University of Surrey, UK, looked at census data from 172,000 Surrey residents. This data showed where people lived, what they did for work, and how they got there. All participants lived 1.2 to 3.0 miles from their workplaces.

The researchers examined the shortest route between home and work for residents who said they biked or drove to work and looked at the factors along the route that might be affecting commuters’ transport decisions, like traffic speed, traffic density, hilliness and the presence of bike paths.

Researchers found that traffic speed was the main reason people don’t choose to cycle to work. There was a decrease in commuters who chose to cycle to work if the speed of traffic exceeded 20 mph.

The researchers found that women were more affected by the effect.

“Women are underrepresented in cycling in the U.K., and actually often in Western nations,” said lead author Nick Grudgings, who was a doctoral student at the University of Surrey when the study was conducted. “Not only does this give you a route to increase cycling levels overall, it also gives you a route to increase it in a targeted demographic and address some of the socioeconomic inequalities there.”

Alex HagenZanker, coauthor, said that increasing the number cyclists on commutes can reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion, as well as improve health.

“We do know that there is a lot of potential gain,” Hagen-Zanker said. He estimates that the number of cyclists could grow sixfold if roads are made more bicycle-friendly through improvements like bike trails. 

SCIENCE

Plant-Based Diets’ Double Whammy: Fewer Cows, Fallow Land 

According to a new study a shift in society to more sustainable diets could have a double effect on keeping climate-warming greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Researchers from Leiden University, the Netherlands, and other institutions around world examined the findings. EAT-Lancet diet,This encourages the consumption of healthy, sustainable foods such as vegetables and nuts over red meats and refined grains. They found that widespread adoption in high-income countries of the diet would not only reduce methane-belching cattle, but also allow pastures used for unsustainable food production to return back to their natural state. 

“If you were to allow that land to revert to the potential natural vegetation that was there before, you would essentially double the impact from the dietary change,” said senior author Paul Behrens, an assistant professor at Leiden University.

The study was published in This week’s Nature Food journal article highlighted the double carbon benefit that could be realized even if only high income countries adopt the EAT–Lancet diet. It also noted the fact that high-income nations are most able shift from a diet high animal protein to a more plant-focused diet.

Behrens stated that food systems are an important sector for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He stated that emissions from food systems alone could cause the planet to experience 1.5 to 2 degrees of global warming.  

“We’re not saying something that’s easy to happen. We discuss how this will require linking up of land policy, of environmental policy, of agricultural policy,” Behrens said. “We’re not saying that it’s going to happen. We’re just saying that these are the opportunities.”

SOLUTIONS

Making a Comeback with Plastic 

Adishree Kasliwal, a young girl from Jaipur, India, had a strong desire to learn more about the environment. She felt that there wasn’t a place she could learn these things.

When she was a teenager she decided to create the resource she felt was missing in her childhood.

“I wanted a platform where young children could learn and express their opinions about the environment,” she said, “and they would have someone there who could guide them and who could tell them, ‘This is happening in the world and I want to hear what you have to say about it.’”

Kasliwal, now 16 years old, is the founder Team EarthAn organization that teaches children aged 8-16 about environmental topics like climate change and plastics waste. They provide speakers, lessons and practical participation in finding solutions. 

The organization’s latest venture is RE/WRAP,An Online storeKasliwal’s and Team Earth’s plastic waste children selling products. The children transform the plastic into colorful baskets. They also sell stools, planters, and stool for 350 to 1,450 Rupees (about $5 to $20). According to the RE/WRAP website funds are used to reduce plastic waste. Each item is claimed to save hundreds of plastic wrappers and several bottles from going to landfill.

“As soon as I step out of my house, all I see is plastic waste,” Kasliwal said. “I know there is something that can be done about it, but people here, they tell you ‘No,’ so I wanted to change that to make the world a better place, and make my own city a little bit cleaner.”

Kasliwal stated that the plastic was cleaned and donated to Team Earth. He also said that it is easy for children and adults to assemble it into new things.

“If children can do it, that usually motivates the others to see that this is a big problem,” she said. “If the children are telling us, that means it’s something that is important.”

SOLUTIONS

Real-Time Emissions Data: Everybody’s Asking For It 

Reno, Nevada, is now monitoring its greenhouse gas emissions in real-time, thanks to a local startup. 

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The data, which measures emissions from the city’s utilities, vehicles and other sources, will help the city toward its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. 

The up-to-the-minute data can help Reno find ways to be more efficient and reduce emissions, for example, charging electric vehicles during the day when there’s a large supply of solar power instead of at night, said Josh Griffin, co-founder of Ledger8760The Reno-based startup that monitors the data is ”,

“We gather dozens, hundreds and in some cases thousands of data sources and assemble it in a platform that our customers can see immediately what’s happening in as real time as possible,” he said.

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He said that this type of data can be more useful and informative than an annual emissions report and can help institutions keep on track towards their reductions goals. Reno residents can see their city’s emissions data on an Online Public PortalLedger8760 supports this project

The startup (8760 in its name is the number of hours in a calendar year) has other clients that use its real time data services, such as governments and private companies. 

Griffin stated that companies are currently in a significant transition and are increasing their climate monitoring. This will help customers make better business decisions to reduce their impact.

“We’re in a process where granular data is becoming incredibly important. And people are asking for it,” Griffin said. “Our customers are asking for it because their customers are asking them for it.”



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