Combating Climate Change

Imani Davis, Features/Digital Media Editor

The start of 2021 has flown by and Arizona’s trademark melt-your-face-off summer is rushing in. The state’s temperatures have steadily risen over the past few decades, the result of climate change. Natural or man-made, there is no doubt that human beings have an influential role in the increase of temperatures. Many initiatives have been made to combat this within the past years. 

In late 2020, the European plane manufacturer Airbus announced it would give itself 5 years to develop a commercial aircraft that runs on hydrogen. Zero-emission hydrogen planes have been looked at as an option to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, but they have many obstacles to overcome. Hydrogen fuel is hard to store, highly combustible, and expensive to store — making Airbus’ task seem outlandish. The company estimates that hydrogen powered planes could halve the aircraft industries emissions. According to an article by Bloomberg, Airbus plans to spend the rest of the 5 years left on their clock to brainstorm ideas with an estimate of, if all goes well, production starting in 2028. The company could start flying passengers in 2035.

Another method that looks promising for reducing greenhouse gasses is feeding cows a special type of seaweed. According to the Smithsonian, livestock are responsible for 14.5% of annual greenhouse gas emissions and cows represent about 65% of that. Recent studies published in the peer-review journal Plos One have found that by adding a red-hued seaweed called Asparagopsis taxiformis to beef cow diets, their methane emissions can be reduced by up to 82%. In studies conducted in 2018, the main concern was that the seaweed would affect the cow’s ability to put on weight, but recent studies have shown that this is not the case. In fact, the change in diet would actually increase the efficiency with which cattle turn food into muscle mass. However, this method is likely to only work in feedlots, where cows only spend a few months of their lives. The majority of methane emissions happen in the pasture, where it’s much more impractical to insert seaweed into their diets. Even with these drawbacks, livestock is vital in feeding the nearly 10 billion people that inhabit this planet, and nutrition plays a monumental role in finding solutions for methane emissions. 

In terms of quick solutions, food innovations have started to gain traction. If eating seasoned worms and crickets (a great source of protein) isn’t your style, try edible packaging. In an article published by Kolab Tree, food scientist Souha Guenoun writes about the estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic that litter the world’s oceans, about 60% coming from packaging. Good packaging is hard to find. It has to be able to withstand many different conditions, have good longevity, meet health and safety standards, cost-effectiveness, etc. It’s not as easy as it may seem. Edible food packaging has been in the works for a while, but they’re finally gaining some real traction. A company called Evo & Co has a mission of reducing single-use plastics and creating a world without pollution. Under the name Evoware, they’ve created edible party cups and seaweed-based packaging, both biodegradable, high in fiber, and the latter with a shelf life of 2 years. 

While these methods have some way to go, it’s likely that they will become real options during the next few decades. For now, we can do our part to combat climate change through businesses like Podswap AirPods, which gives you recycled AirPod buds in exchange for your old ones at a fraction of the cost of a new pair. The world is changing fast and this time it’s for the better.