Maximpact Blog

Plant-centric Menus Offer Human & Planetary Health

Each year a bunch of heritage varieties of vegetables and fruits are grown in this backyard garden. July 31, 2010, Schiltern, Niederösterreich, Austria (Photo by Brigitte Rieser) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Designing and introducing children to sustainable school lunches that are climate friendly, nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate – lunches they enjoy – does that sound impossible? Researchers at Stockholm-based Karolinska Institutet have done it. Their study shows a new lunch menu resulted in a 40 percent reduction in climate impact with no increase in cost or decrease in consumption.

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Invaluable: Waters Clean Enough to Drink

The Tiu Kelep waterfall in Indonesia feeds rivers and streams below, providing clean water from the foot of Mount Rinjani, an active volcano on the island of Lombok. April 2015 (Photo by Lando Mikael) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Clean drinkable water is rare and precious. Of the waters that cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, roughly 97 percent is the saltwater of the oceans; just three percent is freshwater. Of that, only 1.2 percent can be used as drinking water; the rest is locked up in glaciers, ice caps, and permafrost, or stored too far beneath the surface to be retrieved. Much of the accessible freshwater has become polluted.

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Rohinga Refugees Had So Little, Now They Have Less

Rohinga refugees from Myanmar watch as a giant blaze destroys thousands of shelters at the world's largest refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar. March 21, 2021 (Photo courtesy UNHCR) Posted for media use

Fire swept through a Rohinga refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday leaving 15 refugees dead and more than 560 others injured. Bangladeshi authorities estimate that 400 people are still missing and 45,000 refugees lost their shelters and all their belongings in the devastating blaze.

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The Sprint to Harness Europe’s Offshore Winds

A wind farm offshore of Crosby Beach,Liverpool, Merseyside, England at sunset. June 18, 2017 (Photo by Tee Cee) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Europe invested a record amount in new offshore wind farms last year – €26.3 billion – despite the unexpected financial demands of the coronavirus pandemic. These fresh investments will finance 7.1 gigawatts of new offshore wind energy, enough to power 2.13 million homes. But that’s not many compared to the millions of homes in the EU’s future plans.

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A Balancing Act: Climate Change Control Without Water Stress

A bioenergy field trial in Wisconsin is evaluating how switchgrass, Miscanthus, corn stover, poplar trees, and native prairie grasses stack up against each other. (Photo by Gregg Sanford / Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center) Creative Commons License via Flickr

To avoid serious water scarcity, future biomass plantations for energy production and carbon emissions control will need sustainable water management, researchers from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research show in a new study. Otherwise, irrigation of biomass plantations may increase global water stress more than climate change.

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Transforming Old Cotton Clothes Into Sugar

In his lab Edvin Ruuth, researcher in chemical engineering at Lund University, prepares to transform scraps of cotton into a sugar solution before turning that solution into a new textile, February 2021 (Screengrab from video courtesy Lund University) Posted for media use

Every year, an estimated 25 million tonnes of cotton textiles are discarded around the world, about a quarter of all the textiles thrown out each year. In Sweden, most of the unwanted material goes straight into an incinerator and becomes district heating. In other places, cotton clothes usually end up in landfills, but now a new process converts them to sugar.

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Wait: Don’t Toss That Food, It Could Fuel the Car

The United States wastes an estimated 40 percent of all the food the country produces. (Photo courtesy National Conference of State Legislators) Public domain

“When we eat, our bodies convert food into energy that fuels our lives. But what happens to the energy stored in the 80 billion pounds of food thrown away annually in America?” asks Steven Ashby, director of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. As part of advancing sustainable energy solutions, scientists at the lab he runs are converting tons of food waste into clean, renewable biofuel that could power cars, planes and trains.

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