SnippETS for 23 August 2018


Welcome to this week’s edition of our SnippETS newsletter. This week we take a look at a couple of developments in NZ, around GDP and trees; the future of food and how green buildings are good for everyone; a reward system for using public transport or walking, and how to securely dispose of nuclear waste, out of harm’s way, without upsetting anyone. Also, is peak oil repeating itself? And finally we take a look at kids posting discarded packaging back to the manufacturers!

While a basic concept for scientists, the idea that there is no economy without a healthy environment has taken some time to catch on in economics circles. New Zealand now joins a short list of countries that mandate that social, human AND natural considerations should be taken into account when planning for future development.

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The NZ government is pushing ahead with plans to see 1 billion trees planted. A recent announcement has earmarked an additional 240 million dollars to the Provincial Growth Fund in order to help reach that lofty goal. The tree planting initiative will not only help to sequester carbon, but it will also provide training and employment opportunities in regional New Zealand.

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Food production is moving from pastures to the tech world – “fake meat” is made from plant proteins which cook, feel and taste like natural meat. Food production is being shaken up. Is it “synthetic food” or “clean meat”? Should these synthetics be marketed as meat? Many farmers are taking a different perspective, trying to farm sustainably, expecting their “real” meat will be preferred by those that can afford it. Watch Video.....

We have passed earths overshoot day, and exhausted all the natural resources that the earth can regenerate within a year already– we are now using nature’s reserves. The main pressure point in the natural resource system is food production and this article gives some strategies to fix things, to produce more nutritious food with lower environmental footprint.

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While the benefits of Green Buildings are typically touted as being reduced energy and water use, some new research suggests that there are many benefits to Green Buildings beyond resource use efficiency. These include boosting the health of occupants, increasing the productivity of workers, and increasing value for investors.

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Most reward programs incentivise customers to consume more products and services, which inherently leads to increased resource consumption. However, a new app called Miles, a frequent flyer program for ground transportation, incentivises users by giving them points for eco-friendly transportation, which they can redeem for a cup of coffee from Starbucks or a gift card from Amazon, and more. Read more.....


Although the word Nuclear is a dirty word here in New Zealand, over in Finland there has been a lot of open discussion about nuclear energy and how best to store their nuclear waste. Experts in nuclear waste are congratulating the Finns on their holistic approach to nuclear waste management, which is a stark contrast to how things are managed over in the US.

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We next examine an informative article on the international oil market and how a number of factors are impacting on its future viability. Not only can’t we burn all existing known reserves, if we are to remain within 2C warming, but many of these known reserves are from unconventional sources with high costs of extraction. Recent subdued oil prices have also seen significant reductions in exploration with the IEA warning of constrained production from as early as 2020. Read more.....

In India, a law makes producers, importers and brand owners responsible for collecting waste left by their products. So perhaps they shouldn’t have been surprised when students from Thoothukudi, in the State of Tamil Nadu, mailed 20,000 plastic food wrappers back to their manufacturers. While the students may have enjoyed the experience, the follow-up letter sent from the Thoothukudi Commissioner to these ‘recipients’, asking for their action plan to clean up their own mess, has more serious implications. Read more.....

This week in Innovation, Scientists have found a way to produce a mineral, known as magnesite, in a lab that can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, offering another potential strategy for tackling climate change.

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