Maximpact Blog

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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Displaced Syrians Learn via Smartphone Intranet

Never too young to enjoy a smartphone, Hafjin, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, looks at family photos from Syria on her father's phone. 2016 (Photo © Sumaya Agha for Mercy Corps) Posted for media use

Distance learning has become routine for many students during the COVID-19 lockdown, but for thousands of young Syrians living in refugee camps distance learning has been an impossible luxury. Yet, an innovative project established in one camp allows internally displaced schoolchildren to communicate and pursue their education using smartphones – without the need for internet or computers.

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Africa Takes Action Against Plastic Pollution

UNEP's Clean Seas project dhow, Flip-Flopi, clad in plastic made entirely from flip flops found on Kenya's beaches. (Photo courtesy UN Environment Programme) Posted for media use

Kenya’s national government and the country’s 47 lower level county governments are jointly establishing a plastic waste management program – one that could be scaled and replicated across the East African community and beyond. It’s just the latest step in Kenya’s evolving journey from a plastic-strewn country to one of the cleanest in Africa.

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North Sea to Host World’s 1st Offshore Wind Power Hub

At Nysted offshore wind farm in Denmark, the 72 rotors are placed in a parallelogram with eight rows of nine wind turbines each and all spinning clockwise. (Photo by Orsted Energy Group) Posted for media use on Facebook

Denmark, the EU’s largest oil producer, is taking a giant step towards total reliance on green electricity. A coalition of Danish parties announced this week that they will create the world’s first wind energy hub on a custom-built artificial island in the North Sea. Owned by a public-private partnership, the energy hub will collect electricity from offshore windfarms and distribute it to Danish households and to customer countries on the grid.

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Teachers Discover Empathy Is the ‘Mother of Invention’

A mother shows her 32- month-old boy his first asthma inhaler. This inhaler was not designed by pupils in the Cambridge University study. May 31, 2007 (Photo by Thomas Widmann) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Teaching children in a way that encourages them to empathise with others improves their creativity and can deepen their general engagement with learning, finds new research from the University of Cambridge at two inner London schools with Design and Technology students, ages 13 to 14. Co-author Dr. Helen Demetriou said, “We clearly awakened something in these pupils by encouraging them to think about the thoughts and feelings of others.”

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President Biden Welcomes Refugees, Reversing Trump Policy

An internally displaced Yemeni woman and her daughter look over the capital city of Sana’a, Yemen. August 2017 (Photo by Giles Clarke courtesy UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Posted for media use

“We face a crisis of more than 80 million displaced people suffering all around the world,” President Joe Biden told diplomats at the U.S. State Dept. Friday, setting the stage for an about-face on U.S. refugee policy. While the previous administration imposed travel bans, separated families and built border walls, Biden signed an executive order “to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need.”

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Indian Designer Turns PPE Plastic Scrap into Bedrolls

Designer Laksmi Menon, center, has put Kerala women to work making bedrolls out of plastic trimmings from PPE production, 2020 (Photo courtesy Shayya via Facebook)

Posted for media use

The 2021 World Economic Forum wrapped today in Davos after five days of discussions focused on the coronavirus pandemic, affordable medical care, net-zero emissions, digital technology and the future of work. Amid the big panels on vaccines, climate and finance, a small project from India shows how compassion has opened an innovative way to handle the tons of plastic waste the virus has left across the world.

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Communities Cope With a New Climate Reality, Naturally

A community group in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo makes plans for a fish farming project that will help with water management. February 7, 2020 (Photo by Axel Fassio courtesy CIFOR) Creative Commons license via Flickr

A new climate reality is here, now. The year 2020 was one of the three warmest on record, and rivalled 2016 for the top spot, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) concludes after consolidating five international datasets. A naturally occurring climate phenomenon, La Niña, cooled things off only at the very end of the year.

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Sustainability – Save The Planet: Turn Off That Camera

Cyber security analysts at work crunching data, August 13, 2018 (Photo courtesy Western Governors University) Posted for media use

Leave the camera off during your next virtual meeting, not just to hide a messy home office, but to save the Earth, scientists from three U.S. universities advise after their new study, “The Overlooked Environmental Footprint of Increased Internet Use,” was published this week.

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Life During Lockdown: Blessing or Curse?

Aisha, left, and her daughter Sundos, both resettled from Syria in Northern Ireland, at Warrenpoint Municipal Park, County Down, Northern Ireland, December 2020 (Photo by Brian McAlinden)

If anyone had told Aisha and her teenaged daughter a year ago that everybody would be locked down in his house, and the biggest cities in the world empty and looking like ghost towns, they would have said he is crazy!!! “However here we are,” she says, “all trying to adapt to our new situation.”

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Coronavirus Pandemic: Robots to the Rescue

community Solutions

Healthcare providers around the world need all the help they can get to stay healthy themselves while they support whole communities recovering from the coronavirus. Often now, from China to Singapore, from Spain to the United States, the help they are getting comes from robots.

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Keeping Refugees Healthy Keeps Everyone Safe

Community Solutions

“If ever we needed reminding that we live in an interconnected world, the novel coronavirus has brought that home,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi as the UN Refugee Agency and the World Health Organization today signed a new agreement to strengthen public health services for the millions forcibly displaced from their communities.

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