Jared Wolf's articles
The scoop: Last week, Ripple’s CEO made an ambitious commitment to go carbon net-zero by 2030 in collaboration with conservation Rocky Mountain Institute and REBA, and pressured other crypto companies to do the same.
- Unlike Bitcoin, Ripple (XRP) was built with a finite supply (100 billion) at its inception, making it easier to control mining activities and mitigate its environmental footprint.
- Compared to Bitcoin’s 4.51 billion lightbulb hours needed to mine it, the XRP Ledger uses just 79,000.
- A lot needs to happen to make do on that claim, but Ripple is the first crypto looking to go carbon net-zero, and they have a plan (see below).
Bottom line: I don’t know if Ripple, Ethereum, and Bitcoin will one day replace Euros, Dollars and Yuan. With that said, why not bet a dollar on the possibility that they one day could?
Dig deeper → 3 min.
Busy? Try the speed read.
Big picture: GM released a new electric Hummer this week. It got me thinking, is it time to make the switch to electric vehicles?
Benefits of electric vehicles:
- Lower carbon footprint... social impact ✓
- Lower maintenance costs... convenience factor ✓
- Tax credits... financial incentive ✓
Cost of electric vehicles:
- EVs require minerals like cobalt and lithium to function. Mineral mining is a tough industry with poor standards in developing countries like Bolivia and Chile. Organizations are working to change that.
- Electric vehicles have a limited driving range compared to their gas cousins. You may find yourself charging up more than usual.
- High sticker prices: The average price of a new electric vehicle is almost double the price of a gas car.
- Limited amount of charging stations: this is a tricky one, because there are still more charging stations per EV on the road than there are gas stations for gas cars. Unless you go on a road trip, most of your charging will probably be at home anyway.
Bottom line: With billions of dollars flowing in, the electric vehicle moment is not only here to stay, it is booming. If you 1) need a car in your life 2) want to be a part of a cleaner future and 3) can afford the extra monthly cost (for now), then making a switch to electric vehicles is the right thing to do.
Dig deeper ➝ 3 min
The current tradition:
- Lot'sa pumpkin picking: American farmers produce billions of pounds worth of pumpkin every year. When they end up in the garbage, they decompose in landfills and emit methane/
- Cheap costume wearing: Costumes from Big Retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart use cheap materials and labor. Many people only wear their costumes once or twice before throwing it out.
- Kids candy eating: Candy sales are up 13% this year despite the pandemic. Candy wrappers are are often improperly disposed of, and many treats use harmful ingredients like palm oil (causes deforestation).
Proposed solutions for Hallogreen:
- If you're going to buy a pumpkin, eat it (or let the squirrels eat it).
- Reuse, create or thrift a costume.
- Don't eat candy because it's basically corn starch with sugar and food dye. If you are sugar-crazed (not judging you), just make sure you dispose of it properly by checking for recycling labels and washing out food oils before throwing it in the blue bin.
Bottom line: Let's use 2020 as an opportunity to reflect and reform wasteful traditions by making this October Hallogreen.
Dig deeper → 2 min
The International Energy Agency (IEA) rolled out its annual World Energy Outlook report with a bombshell. Solar power is expected to replace coal as the #1 source of energy production by 2025.
The backstory: In the last few years, governments and corporations flooded billions of dollars into the renewable energy space. Wind & solar energy have become cheaper than gas & oil as a result. It is now easier to manufacture and install solar panels than ever before.
By the numbers:
- The IEA thinks 80% of new power generation will come from renewables.
- We need to boost up investment in the energy grid by at least $460 billion in 2030 to hit our goals.
- The global economy will return to pre-covid levels in 2021, but 7% smaller over long term compared to 2019 projections.
Between the lines: China alone will account for 40% of global growth for electricity demand over the next ten years. Southeast Asia and Africa will see major demand increases for energy over the next few decades.
Meanwhile, IEA's report found that global CO2 emissions will not return to 2019 levels until 2027, due to energy mix with renewables and coal's big drop in 2020.
Zoom out: We need a structural transformation of the global energy sector to hit on sdg's (those UN-sanctioned green goals we keep talking about), and that requires a lot of clean capital stock.
The report makes it clear that low growth of emissions ≠ a climate change solution. It's a means to an end.
Bottom line: Solar will replace coal as king sometime this decade.
Dig deeper → <2 min
The scoop: The world uses a lot of materials to produce a lot of waste.
By the numbers:
- Asia accounts for 60% of mineral extraction and 67% of freshwater use.
- The world disperses 28.7 billion tons of fossil fuels and biomass energy.
- Europe, Asia and N. America account for 78% of fossil fuel output.
- It takes <resources to produce >materials.
- A lot of freshwater, an increasingly scarce resource, turns into wastewater every year.
- Most raw materials and natural resources end up in the land, air or water.
Bottom line: The current production process outweighs Earth's production capacity. To solve that, we need to maximize the life-cycle of products, treat natural resources carefully, and minimize waste.
Dig deeper → <1 min.
The scoop: In 2018, global risk firm Verisk combined UN population data with their Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) and found that 84 of the 100 fastest growing cities in the world face 'extreme risk' from climate change. The remaining 14 faced fell under the 'high risk' categories.
By the numbers:
- 95% of the 234 cities most affected by climate change fall in Africa & Asia.
- 86% of the 292 'low risk' cities are located in Europe and the Americas
Between the lines:
- The world's poorest with higher rates of urbanization = face greatest threats from climate disruption.
- The world's most advanced economies (US, China, India, Europe) account for half of the world's carbon emissions.
- The International Monetary Fund estimates that 8 out of the 10 fastest growing economies between 2018 and 2023 will be African countries, posing serious risk to companies operating in the region.
Bottom line: There is a clear correlation between climate change vulnerability and population growth. This is occurring in the fast growing economic region of the world, making an even stronger case to invest in climate resilience. Secondly, advanced economies (as the cause but not the victim) have a moral, social and economic responsibility to mitigate the impact of carbon emissions.
The scoop: The world witnessed the first ever climate change question in a US presidential debate. They spent 10 minutes on the topic.
Why it matters: Recent polls revealed 12% of likely voters considered climate change to be their #1 issue behind the economy and coronavirus.
Stuff to know: Biden suggested that foreign countries should give Brazil $20 billion to stop Amazon deforestation. The Amazon rainforest is made up of 300 billion trees and 1/5 of the world's species. Trump acknowledge anthropogenic climate change (sort of) for the first time.
Bottom line: The world is suffering from a public health disaster that has leaked into the global economy, yet voters still consider climate change a centerpiece issue. That is a sign of things to come.
Dig deeper → 3 min
10 reasons why seaweed farms are both sustainable and practical:
- Seaweed farms require no land.
- Seaweed farms are quite efficient, and can be harvested for commercial use within 90 days.
- Seaweed farms by-pass negative side-effects like deforestation or pesticide-use.
- Seaweed farms work in harmony with surrounding wildlife.
- Seaweed farms don't interfere with boats or ships, and create economic opportunities where none exist.
- Harvesting seaweed requires very little biofuel; it is a scalable process.
- Seaweed has multiple uses: it can produce both food and fuel.
- Seaweed is biodegradable, unlike solar panels and wind turbines that require heavy metals and create waste.
- Seaweed yields 30x more energy per acre than biofuel land crops like soy or corn.
- Only 2% of the fertile ocean is covered by kelp forests, so there is much more room to grow.
Dig deeper → 2 min
The scoop: China made an announcement to the UN with plans to go carbon neutral by 2060.
What to know:
- China is the number one carbon emitter in the world, with more carbon emissions thn the US and Europe combined.
- China is still investing heavily in coal-powered plants through 2020, de-legitimizing the carbon pledge.
- The UN took the pledge very seriously, indicating its unwillingness to criticize Chinese climate policy.
Bottom line: China’s carbon pledge is smoke and mirrors. The announcement comes weeks before a major US election when voters are antsy. The United Nations needs to focus on human rights efforts, not tweeting celebration emojis for empty words.
Dig deeper → 3 min
Big picture: A 2016 study of over 8,000 threatened or near-threatened species found that over-exploitation and agricultural activity posed a much greater threat to biodiversity than climate change.
Why it matters: Climate change is abstract. It also gets all of the news coverage. In reality, ecological issues like deforestation and hunting play a significant role in the environment. These are tangible issues that we can fix before investing billions into an more abstract threat like climate change. Most of that money pours into clean energy while critical wildlife face extinction from other causes.
Sustainable suggestion: We need to approach the climate conversation in a way that works cooperatively with intersecting threats like wildfire risk mitigation or ecological restoration, not against them.
A forestry organization may want to clean-up deadwood to prevent harsher wildfires, but a conservation group will sue them for cutting down a sacred forest. A conservation group may want to support hunting an invasive species , but an animal rights group will publicly condemn them. Let's stop doing that.
Bottom line: Climate change is important, and intersects with basically every ecological issue. But that behemoth threat will be much easier to manage if we can start knocking off the little guys that we can see, touch and feel. That would call for better farming, less hunting/finishing, more land protection in sensitive areas, and less logging.
Dig deeper → 3 min
The scoop: 40% of insect species are at risk of extinction.
Why it matters: We need bugs to survive and thrive.
- Pollination: Pollinators pollinate plants; we need them to keep doing that.
- Pest control: Paradoxically, predatory and parasitic insects kill pests.
- Decomposition: Some insects are primary or secondary decomposers. They serve an important function to clean-up animal waste.
- Food security: Many mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians depend on bugs for food. They are a quick and easy resource for a nutritious meal.
- Research and innovation: Technology mimics nature (think birds and planes). Researchers can observe the ethology of insects and learn new ways to innovate. An example? Ant colony optimization in computer science.
What's causing the insect decline: Habitat loss from agriculture and urbanization is the #1 driver. Agro-chemical pollutants (think pesticides), invasive species and climate change also play a role. You can check out some cool charts and figures in this article to learn more.
How to help: Contribute to the fight against pesticides, support or start a small farm, and educate others about the importance of insects. A more positive perception of bug people can also lead to change.
Bottom line: We need bugs to survive, yet insects are on the decline. This issue deserves more recognition.
Dig deeper → 4 min
Question: How can sustainability succeed without laws protecting animals?
The science is out on animals. Man's outdated perceptions of our underwater and in-the-forest cousins are coming to light as science meets PETA.
Animals are sentient beings. It's not a romance novel, it's the world we live in. Animals experience a wide range of emotions.
The animal manifesto: Every squirrel, every rabbit, every bear, every fish serves a clear, identifiable role in Earth's ecosystem except for two creatures: invasive species like pythons in the Everglades.... and mankind.
Humans as protectors: Man certainly plays a role in this crazy floating ball universe, but we've drifted so far from our hunter-gatherer origins that our ecological purpose is becoming harder and harder to define. As such, it is the moral responsibility of man to act as benevolent stewards for the vulnerable, voiceless animal kingdom.
Animal lives matter: The next sustainability chapter of post-industrial society begins with a recognition of animals as they are, fellow Earthlings deserving of basic rights.
Bottom line Today, most advanced nations do not recognize animals as sentient beings. And we expect sustainable lifestyles to be widely adopted in our homes? You have to learn how to drive a car before lifting up the hood to fix it.