Snippets for 13 August 2020


Thanks for reading our SnippETS newsletter this week.


We have once again included a mixed selection of articles we hope you find interesting.We start this week with a look at two things that are vital to life on planet Earth: water and food. Better management of both are required to sustain Earth’s inhabitants. And we really need to conserve more of the natural environment to help avoid future pandemics… a predicted cost of $140 billion annually. Seems like a lot, but not so much when it is estimated that the impact of Covid 19 has cost $9 Trillion!


Would you purchase a product if you knew it was full of harmful chemicals? The ‘Chemical Footprint Project’ is about companies reporting on what chemicals they are using, but more importantly looking at alternatives. And manufacturers of harmful pesticides are looking to markets that are less regulated. Why? They cannot sell them in their own countries!


We take a look at the continuing expansion of Hydrogen as a fuel, where a number of nations are looking to expand its use. Nothing is off the table as far as storage and use is concerned. Also, ammonia is emerging as a viable fuel for shipping. And Microsoft has completed a successful test of hydrogen powering a portion of one of their data centres. Could be a game changer.


Back to NZ, the first national Climate Change Risk Assessment has been released highlighting 10 significant areas that need to be urgently addressed by the government in the next six years. Only six years…


We finish with a look at the re-emergence of the sleeper train in Europe. Avoid queues in busy airports, avoid Covid and lower your emissions footprint in one easy and relaxed step.



Water is our lifeblood, but only 1% of all the water on Earth can be used to support human and ecological processes. When the supply and demand balance of fresh water is misaligned, the environmental, social, and financial ecosystems on which we rely are at risk. This is as much an issue as greenhouse gas emissions. A number of businesses are looking at reducing the amount of water they are using and pushing their supply chains to do the same. Read more.....


Feeding the world also needs water and doing this sustainably is a must. And there is a drive to reduce emissions in agriculture, with ideas on how discussed here. Around one third of all food produced is wasted, so using technology to reduce this and the consequent emissions is critical. Fishing can also be made more sustainable and profitable using technology, while producing less emissions than land-based farming. This article also discusses alternative protein sources which can be significantly lower in emissions than farming. Some of these may surprise you. Read more.....





As the world continues to find itself knee deep in COVID-19, discussions on how we can reduce the likelihood of another pandemic are well underway. Many have argued that the human species brought this upon itself by robbing creatures of their natural environment and therefore forcing it to use us as hosts instead. This article discusses how protecting 30% of the world’s lands and oceans at an annual cost of $140 billion stacks up well against the IMF estimated cost of this pandemic at $9 trillion. Read more.....





Looking after the environment takes more than just money. It also requires care and protection, so as to ensure we don’t degrade it with chemicals or other toxins. So, it is great to see that the Chemical Footprint Project that was launched in 2014, might be coming of age. The Project, which aspires to be a widely used tool for measuring company performance on the toxic chemical use in the manufacturing of products, has steadily been acquiring member companies such as Walmart and Levi Strauss. Read more.....





And the Chemical Footprint Project may well be the perfect platform for measuring the use of harmful chemical pesticides in industrial agriculture. Due to poor regulation in many Asian, African, and Latin American countries, companies from developed nations are exporting these harmful pesticides, even though their use is banned in their home markets, such as the European Union. As this article argues, we all need an approach to growing safe food in a sustainable agriculture system, that makes public health and environmental protection the highest priority. Read more.....






One of the biggest issues in regard to transitioning off of carbon-based fuels has always been that of storage and portability. Renewable energy has long been known to have great potential, but the problem has been in how to store that energy so that it can be used when it is required. Enter the hydrogen age and now also, the ammonia age! These two energy carriers may well be the magic bullets we have waited for. Read more.....








In other hydrogen news, Microsoft has successfully used a 250 kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell to power a row of its data centre servers for two consecutive days, in a test designed to see how it would work as a substitute for a traditional diesel generator. This is currently the largest hydrogen powered back up system and provides yet one more potential use for hydrogen generated from excess renewable energy. Read more.....







The first national Climate Change Risk Assessment has been released highlighting 10 significant areas that need to be urgently addressed by the government in the next six years. This forecast of a high-emissions, business-as-usual future is not pretty for the environment nor the economy. Luckily, some mitigation and adaptation measures are currently underway. Read more.....











One mitigation strategy we could look at would be to increase the use of trains so to decrease emissions from air travel. Consumers and governments are opting for trains over planes in Europe as awareness of the environmental impacts of short-haul flights are being complemented by a desire to avoid airport departure lounges and security queues. Read more.....










One novel spin on emerging hydrogen fuel options is "clean hydrogen" made from our rubbish. Read more.....



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