Veronika Spangler's articles
Why are wildfires detrimental to our environment?
- Burn millions of acres of forests each year; trees are critical to (1) absorbing greenhouse gases to lessen the effects of climate change and (2) preserving biodiversity.
- Kill and displace wildlife.
- Disrupt water cycles and soil fertility.
- Endanger lives and livelihood of local communities.
How are drones being used to fight wildfires?
- Provide real-time support on the ground for firefighters to improve safety.
- Map weather patterns to prevent spreading of the fire to mitigate environmental destruction.
What are the benefits of a drone compared to a traditional aircraft?
- Safer since you don’t need a pilot to operate it.
- More versatile since a drone can fly in poor conditions and hard to reach spaces.
- More accurate by using GPS and imaging technologies to generate a “smart map.”
More recently, the use of drones for fire prevention in the U.S. has been gaining support from the federal government. Regulatory hurdles are starting to lessen. Plus, the civil-use of drones is now more widely accepted.
Drones are becoming a key technological advancement in fighting wildfires. They can not only protect our communities, but they can also mitigate the environmental impact caused by fires.
Dig deeper → 4 min
What is period poverty? Inequalities related to menstruation. That includes the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, etc.
Who does it affect? Students, low-income and homeless women and girls, transgender and non-binary individuals, and the imprisoned all struggle with period poverty. Girls with special needs and disabilities are also disproportionately affected.
What are the main causes?
- Improper education― we often stigmatize menstruation.
- Economic barriers―menstrual products are costly (and in some cases taxed).
Why is it a problem? Period poverty increases physical health risks, such as reproductive and urinary tract infections, when the proper resources are not easily accessible. This causes women to turn to unsafe substitutes. Period poverty also widens the educational and economic gap.
Periods and planet
- In North America, about 20 billion tampons and pads go to landfills every year, and the non-organic items take at least 500 to 800 years to decompose.
- Disposable menstrual products are the fifth most common type of waste washing up on beaches, according to a report by the European Commission
- The manufacturing of disposable menstrual hygiene products generates a total carbon footprint of about 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually―the equivalent of burning about 35 million barrels of oil, according to the United Nations Environmental Program
How can we promote sustainable periods?
- Choose reusable menstrual products (e.g., period proof underwear, menstrual cup, and reusable tampon applicators and pads)
- Choose cotton products and support transparent brands if disposable products are necessary
- Demand that corporations make plastic-free sanitary products
Bottom line By normalizing menstruation and destroying taboos around the natural process, we can prioritize menstrual equity policy that makes sustainable menstrual products and sanitation available for all.
Dig deeper → 4 min
What is vertical farming? Indoor agriculture (like greenhouses) using vertical space to optimize crop production in a controlled environment
- Minimized pests and pesticides
- Greater precision and control over water and nutrients, less waste
- More food produced per acre of land, more sustainable for our planet in the long run
- Reduced distribution supply chains delivering fresher produce to customers at greater speed
- Higher costs
- Deep know-how and expertise required
- Limited number of crops can be grown profitably (leafy greens vs. strawberries that require more sunlight and thus more electricity)
Why vertical farming? The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted food supply chains around the world. The shift to remote work increased office space vacancies... creating an opportunity to redesign spaces. Now is a good time to rethink ways to feed a growing population, especially in urban cities. We need to better adapt to supply and demand shocks.
A touch on Big Tech Algorithmic or machine-learning solutions are applied to the biggest challenge in agriculture: optimization. Artificial intelligence (AI) helps minimize food waste by figuring out the right amount of energy, water, and nutrients required to produce food.
Bottom line With increased pressure on supply chains around the globe, rethinking traditional farming and redirecting efforts toward vertical farming (and AI) will address food security challenges and reduce waste in the future.
Dig deeper → 4 min