+
upworthy

climate

Science

Drones fired ‘seed missiles’ into the dirt. A year later, the trees are already 20 inches tall.

10 drones can plant 400,000 trees in a day — enough to combat climate change in real time.

Photo: courtesy BioCarbon Engineering/WikiCommons

Technology is the single greatest contributor to climate change but it may also soon be used to offset the damage we've done to our planet since the Industrial Age began.

In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire "seed missiles" into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.


"We now have a case confirmed of what species we can plant and in what conditions," Irina Fedorenko, co-founder of Biocarbon Engineering, told Fast Company. "We are now ready to scale up our planting and replicate this success."

According to Fedoranko, just two operators could send out a mini-fleet of seed missile planting drones that could plant 400,000 trees a day -- a number that quite possibly could make massive headway in combating the effects of manmade climate change.

The drones were designed by an ex-NASA engineer. And with a pressing need to reseed an area in Myanmar equal to the size of Rhode Island, the challenge is massive but suddenly within reach. Bremley Lyngdoh, founder and CEO of World Impact, says reseeding that area could theoretically house as many as 1 billion new trees.

"Obviously, planting a billion trees will take a long time without the help of drones," Lyngdoh told Fast Company.

But they've now got a powerful new ally in their corner. For context, it took the Worldview Foundation 7 years to plant 6 million trees in Myanmar. Now, with the help of the drones, they hope to plant another 4 million before the end of 2019.


Myanmar is a great case study for the project. In addition to the available land for the drone project, the nation has been particularly hit by the early effects of climate change in recent years. Rising sea levels are having a measurable impact on the population. In addition to their ability to clear CO2 from the atmosphere, healthy trees can also help solidify the soil, which can reduce the kind of soil erosion that has been affecting local populations in Myanmar.


Going forward, technologies like seed-planting drones could help stem the tide of catastrophic climate change while our governments and societies work to change the habits of consumers and corporations that are driving the problem. Our endless hunger for new technology may be the driving force behind climate change and deforestation but it could also end up being the solution to a problem.


This article originally appeared on 4.17.19

via Amazon

The common misconceptions surrounding eco-friendly products is that they are inferior in quality or more expensive than those made from unsustainable materials, but that's far from the truth.

There are plenty of sustainable products for everyday around-the-house use, such as eating utensils, paper towels, and freezer bags, that are just as affordable as those that are damaging to the planet. Many of them can be reused over and over again, saving you money over the long-run.

The key is to break the single-use mindset and to start purchasing products that can be reused. Over the past twenty years we all learned to use recycling bins. Now it's time to rethink single-use products by giving reusable options a chance.

Reusable bamboo utensil set

Next time you pick up food from a drive-thru or have a picnic, forget the plastic and use disposable knives and forks instead. You can reduce plastic waste and help the environment with this biodegradable bamboo travel cutlery set, which comes with a knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, straw, brush, and eco-friendly travel pouch.

Delihom Reusable Bamboo Utensil Set, $8.98; at Amazon

Reusable paper towels


One of the biggest ways to fight back against global warming is by planting trees. However, over 50,000 trees are cut down every day to be made into disposable paper towels. These reusable bamboo paper towels are soft, washable, and reusable. One roll of bamboo towels can replace up to three months of disposable paper towels. How much money will that save you?

ECOLifestyle Reusable Bamboo Paper Towels, $6.90; at Amazon


Reusable bag set


This six-bag set is perfect for trips to the grocery store or farmers market. It comes with two mesh and two muslin produce bags, one market and beach string bag, and one canvas and jute XL tote.

They are Global Organic Textile Standard-certified for both ecology and social responsibility for the entire production process (growing, harvesting, spinning the yarn, weaving/knitting the fabric, and sewing the bags).

Simple Ecology Reusable Bag Set, $24.99; at Amazon

Kitchen compost bin

We could all use a little less gross and lot less waste. The Fresh Air compost collector lets oxygen move through your organic kitchen waste, slowing down decomposition. The result? A stink-free solution even the neat freak in you can get behind.

Composting keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Plus, it's great for the soil and lowers your carbon footprint.

Full Circle Odor-Free Compost Bin, $29.78; at Amazon

Biodegradable poop bags


Doggy Do Good Premium Pet Waste Bags are biodegradable and compostable, sustainable, and made from vegetable-based materials. They're a great alternative to regular polyethylene plastic bags and are safer for the environment.

It takes up to 1,000 years for the average plastic bag to biodegrade. These poop bags break down in just 90 days, helping to keep parks and landfills plastic-free.

Doggy Do Good Biodegradable Poop Bags, $9.99; at Amazon

Eco-friendly pens

Who said pens have to be made from plastic? These eco-friendly retractable ballpoint pens are made of sturdy biodegradable cardboard, recycled ABS plastic, and wheat stalk. They write as smooth and comfortably as any ordinary pen, in a smarter, Earth-conscious design and are great for your office, home, or school.

Simply Genius Eco-Friendly Pens, $19.99; at Amazon

Reusable Storage Bags

How many plastic storage bags do you use every week? These ViTeep reusable storage bags help to drastically reduce the amount of plastic bags you use and help the planet at the same time. They feature a double-lock closure and are air tight, leak-proof, waterproof, and hygienic, perfect for storing and preserving food. They are easy to clean with dish soap and water.

ViTeep Reusable Storage Bags, $11.99; at Amazon

Plant-based garbage bags

How many 13-gallon plastic bags are in your cans when the garbage truck comes every week? These plant-based kitchen trash bags are an eco-friendly solution to the fossil-fuel based garbage bags you are currently using. They are made from sugar cane so they are renewable, recyclable, and reduce your carbon footprint. According to Hippo Sak, for every 2.2 pounds of raw plant material used to create these kitchen bags, fossil fuel consumption is reduced by two liters.

Hippo San Plant-Based Garbage Bags, $13.49; at Amazon

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

The adults have had their chance, but once again, it's the kids who seem to be making real change.

After two years of hard work, teenage activists in Utah scored a major victory after convincing the state's Republican-controlled legislature and governor to sign a resolution acknowledging the effects of climate change on the state's citizens.

"Our little high school environmental club got wind of this, and we were really inspired to be more involved politically," said Logan High School senior Piper Christian.


The students first gained attention in 2017, when their request to address a state senate committee was rejected.

They formed their own unofficial committee and invited lawmakers to attend and listen to them.

"We completely packed one of the biggest conference rooms in the (state) capitol. It was standing room only," Christian said. "Students from all over the state were able to testify about why climate change is important."

"This resolution shows us that climate change is a nonpartisan issue that can no longer be ignored," said Rep. Rebecca Edwards.

[rebelmouse-image 19534680 dam="1" original_size="1200x603" caption="Image via Office of Gov. Gary Herbert." expand=1]Image via Office of Gov. Gary Herbert.

It's a resolution, not a law. But it still matters.

There's nothing legally binding in the resolution, but it does set the tone for future regulations and legislation.

On one hand, it sounds like a business-friendly turn of phrase with sections like "encourages the responsible stewardship of natural resources and reduction of emissions through incentives and support of the growth in technologies and services that will enlarge the economy."

But on the other hand, it takes a direct approach with the phrase "recognizes the impacts of a changing climate on Utah citizens" — language students like Christian helped craft themselves.

It may sound fairly benign to veteran environmentalists or those from more progressive-leaning states. But to get such a resolution not only signed but honored in a public ceremony by the state's Republican governor is a huge accomplishment.

"The climate change resolution is groundbreaking for our state, but to successfully tackle the effects that a changing climate has on our economy and health, we need to continue to collaborate across party lines," Edwards said.

These students are proving that the "Parkland effect" isn't isolated to one issue.

After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February in Parkland, Florida, we've been continually inspired to see the country's youth take the lead on a divisive issue that adults have been unwilling and unable to make progress on for decades.

But it's not just about gun control.

Climate change has also divided the country — even when it comes to common sense and middle-ground compromises. It's hard to avoid falling into "sides" on issues that affect our futures and our very lives.

These student activists in Utah are showing us how it can be done. Through hard work, communication, and cooperation, they've managed to make inroads in a political climate that seemed near impossible. Adults, take note. This is how you make progress happen.

Photographer Greta Rybus wanted to see what life north of the north looked like.

The Norwegian city of Hammerfest calls itself the northernmost town in the world, but seeded beyond it are a handful of other small communities. One of these is Akkarfjord, on the island of Sørøya.

It’s a place few people know about — that even other Norwegians rarely visit.

All photos by Greta Rybus, used with permission.


Only about 80 people live there, their houses huddled around the Akkarfjord harbor.

There’s also a local school, post office, and grocery store. Plus a pub, tucked away and only opened on special occasions and birthdays.

The harbor is both the town’s anchor and its connection to the outside world.

If you’re not working on a boat, you’re probably at the local fish factory, which sits on the east side of the harbor and exports its catch to the rest of the world.

As you might guess, the winter cold can make socializing a bit of a challenge.

People aren’t too keen on stopping in the middle of the street for a chat, and if it’s not the cold, it’s the wind. Rybus says that the wind bowled her over more than once.

"I physically got blown over a few times, like a cartoon character, feet flying above my head," she says.

But if it’s cold on the coast, it’s even colder inland where reindeer herders watch their animals.

The herders are mostly Sami, an ethnic group indigenous to the area. They still follow many of their traditional practices, like reindeer herding, although mixed with modern practicalities. Snowmobiles make it much easier to keep up with the herd.

Two Sami women in traditional clothing.

The other inhabitants of this remote land? Oil rigs.

The rest of the world has caught up to Akkarfjord. Just 50 kilometers offshore are massive oil rigs, soaking up oil from the Barents Sea floor.

Norway is actually one of the great oil and gas nations of the world. Most of that profit has been pumped back into the nation itself, funding health care, public service projects, and education — including the Akkarfjord school.

Though oil’s brought a lot of wealth to Norway, unrestricted worldwide use of fossil fuel has also caused our global climate to change.

Snow used to arrive in Akkarfjord in the late fall, rising as high as a second story window. Nowadays, town residents say they might not see any until January. The weather is getting unpredictable.

Fishers like Knut Olsen told Rybus that the ocean around Akkarfjord is also warmer than it used to be, which could affect the harbor. On land, hunting has gotten harder.

Inland, changes to the freeze-thaw cycle have affected the reindeer's ability to forage during the winter. Buying extra feed or food pellets has become more and more common.

Life beyond the northernmost city is stark, beautiful, and locked in a remarkably complicated relationship with the outside world.

Fossil fuels, and the wealth that comes with them, have improved the quality of life in Akkarfjord — and the rest of Norway — but climate change is also affecting the animals, plants, and seasons they, and the rest of us, still depend on.

The story of climate change is not just an environmental story. It’s a story about people. Both those of us who live beyond the ends of the Earth and those much closer to home.

If you want to see the rest of Rybus’ amazing pictures and read more interviews about life in Akkarfjord, check out her website.