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The Climate Win: Tactical Urbanism and Clothes Made of Algae

Sustainability News
by Tim Wenger Apr 24, 2020

This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

Happy Arbor Day! We urge you to take a moment today to appreciate the towering plants that are absolutely critical to our survival. Plant ‘em if you got ‘em. The hard work of trees is on full display around the globe these days. Skies around the globe have come into clearer focus in recent weeks as many hard-to-reach natural places have been branded with a “look, don’t touch” policy. One striking example is Mount Everest, which according to this Op-Ed in The Guardian, stands to benefit immensely from a year off the footpath of adventure travel. Silver linings abound.

A fabric revolution

Also abounding are massive innovations in the battle against plastic waste. New York designer Charlotte McCurdy has developed a way to turn algae into plastic for apparel. This video from NowThis News walks through her process. The finished product used in her apparel is plant-based, and the conversion can be done in her urban office. “It’s both not made of fossil fuels, but also by being made of algae, it points to a world where we can have carbon-negative materials,” McCurdy says in the video.

Keystone XL project gets another setback

The highly publicized and massively controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline received a setback this week when a federal judge revoked a permit needed to build along much of the pipeline’s 1,200-mile path. According to an Associated Press report, Judge Brian Morris cited a lack of adequate study on the impact to endangered species such as the Pallid Sturgeon. The report noted that the ruling could impact other pipeline developments that pass over waterways since the ruling gave precedence to the Clean Water Act over a 2017 permit granted to the US Army Corps of Engineers that allowed pipeline development. While the ruling by Judge Morris doesn’t outright cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, it’s a major setback that is sure to cause further delays — and costs — in its completion.

The world’s tallest living wall

Development firm Rategar Property Company announced plans to build a 26-story green wall on the side of a new residential high-rise development in Dallas Texas this year. Once completed, the $1 million wall will be the world’s tallest living wall — but more importantly, it will pull 1,600 pounds of CO2 out of the surrounding air each year. To keep the wall productive and thriving long-term, the development will incorporate internet-connected sensors to monitor plant health, and its panels will distribute water and nutrients to the plants as needed.

New Zealand puts its empty roads to good use

Elsewhere in the world of urban progress, New Zealand’s government announced this week plans to develop “pop-up” bike lanes and widen sidewalks in its cities. With traffic down because of the coronavirus, the country’s Transportation Minister Julie Anne Genter asked cities to apply for up to 90 percent funding to be used on temporary non-motorized and pedestrian-first initiatives, a move called “tactical urbanism.”

Action task

Building on the Earth Day momentum, we encourage you to check out and bookmark The site, managed by Sierra Club, lists a number of current environmental causes and campaigns with specific action points for each. For example, there’s a current petition to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt about restricting oil and gas leasing around New Mexico’s popular Chaco Canyon, as well as many other local and national campaigns. You can make a difference with just a few clicks.

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