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The Waggle

Issue 72

Project Regeneration
A hydroelectric dam in the Swiss Alps.

A hydroelectric dam in the Swiss Alps. As of 2023, hydropower supplies about 14% of the world's electrical energy. 

NicoElNino / Alamy Stock Photo

 Phasing Out Fossil Fuels   Amy Boyer

The world now gets 30% of its electrical energy from solar, hydro, and wind power, according to a recent report from Ember, an independent energy think tank. This milestone means we've likely hit another: peak fossil fuel emissions in the energy sector, which is the largest contributor to global emissions. Fossil fuel generation in 2023 grew by less than 1%, whereas solar grew by 23% and wind by 10%. Half of the world's countries have already hit their fossil fuel generation peak, and China is near the tipping point. This shift to renewables is desperately needed and has to occur faster to triple renewable power generation between 2020 and 2030, one of the requirements to stay below 1.5°C global warming. And it's tricky: hydropower fell in 2023 because of drought, and electricity demand is rising— it must in order to power the electric cars and heat pumps necessary to reach Net Zero by 2050. The countries rapidly adopting renewables share ambitious policies, incentives for individuals and industries, and a commitment to removing technical barriers. See Electrify Everything Nexus.

  Solving Plastic Pollution • Claire Inciong Krummenacher

Close up shot of microplastics against wet sand.
A close-up shot of various microplastics. 
More than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced since 1950, with the vast majority ending up in landfills or contaminating the environment and just 10% recycled into new products. However, recent nature-based innovations have emerged as promising solutions to plastic pollution. Among them are biodegradable filters laced with plant tannins that trap micro and nanoplastics, cellulose nanofiber filters made from wood pulp that capture polystyrene microparticles, and biofilms whose chemical properties can collect microplastics for later upcycling. In addition, researchers are also studying how enzymes within wax moth caterpillar saliva break down polyethylene, a common plastic used in packaging. However, despite the potential of biological solutions, it is critical to address the root problem of plastic propagation and overconsumption and continue to monitor the impact of new chemicals on the environment. To learn more, see Plastics Nexus.

 Wilding: Nature in the Driving Seat George Biesmans

Based on Isabella Tree’s best-selling book by the same title, Wilding tells the story of a young couple that bets on nature for the future of their failing, four-hundred-year-old estate.
The remarkable story of how a barren, lifeless, and over-farmed estate in southern England was transformed into a thriving landscape thrumming with wildlife has been captured in a new film set for release this summer. Wilding tells the story of the Knepp estate, whose owners, Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree, started two decades ago restoring the land “by letting go and allowing nature to take the driving seat.” Knepp was an early demonstration of what we now call Rewilding (see our Rewilding Nexus) and how it can have a cascade of benefits for wildlife and local communities. Today, Knepp is a haven for species of all kinds, from turtle doves, nightingales, and peregrine falcons to barbastelle bats, dormice, slow-worms, and grass snakes. The film follows the release of a book by Isabella Tree - also called Wilding - which itself is well worth a read - as is her more recent Book of Wilding, a hands-on “practical guide to Rewilding, big and small.” In these times of overwhelm and emergency, stories like Wilding provide an inspiring antidote for us all. They are also a reminder that - to paraphrase Joanna Macy - “the Great Turning is indeed underway. It is happening now.Visit their website for more information on the film and how to attend or organize a screening. 

 Place-based Food Systems Juliana Birnbaum

Four women arms wrapped around each other smiling at the camera.
Left to Right: Yolanda Young, State Representative District 22 & urban grower at Young Family Farm KC  Alana Henry, Executive Director, Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council & urban grower at Young Family Farm KC  StarRoyce Nealy, Founder, Global One Urban Farming  Dina Newman, Founder, Kansas City Black Urban Growers
An innovative farmer’s market ‘passport’ in Kansas City, Missouri that connects residents to a network of local food stands is the subject of an NPR report this week. The program encourages participation in place-based agriculture and offers prizes and discounts as incentives to support local farmers. Its launch included tours of fifteen urban farms and community gardens. The aim is to be a “game changer for access to healthier foods” in low-income areas considered food deserts due to the lack of availability of fresh produce. Creative approaches such as these are making a difference worldwide, such as the Great British Bean Project, developed with a chapter of the Transition Network in the East of England over a decade ago. The project stimulated and assessed the demand for indigenous pulses that support soil and pollinators and led to the founding of Hodmedod’s, a company working with local farmers to source and produce these crops. See our Localization and Urban Farming Nexus pages to learn more about the benefits of regionally produced food.

 The Wet and Wildcats of Asia Jonathan Hawken

A fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) expertly hunts its prey in water.
Cats’ affinity for fish is well known, often resulting in comical attempts to capture prey from home aquariums. However, a feline uniquely adapted for swimming and fishing is sequestered within the wetlands and mangroves of South and Southeast Asia—the aptly named “fishing cat.” Sporting a medium build (approximately twice the size of a housecat), a stubbier tail, and leopard-like markings, this species has another unique quality: duck-like vocalizations. Unfortunately, these elusive felines face numerous threats, from habitat degradation to being hunted for bushmeat or trade.

Tiasa Adhya, the founder of The Fishing Cat Project in India, has been pivotal in raising awareness about these challenges. Her passion earned her the 2022 Future for Nature Award and inspired similar conservation initiatives across Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Thailand. For a deeper dive, check out Mongabay’s recent article on the fishing cats as part of their Almost Famous Animals series, but don’t forget to skim through our Wetlands Nexus and Mangrove Nexus. Lastly, please enjoy this short video, “Fishing Kittens See Water For the First Time,” courtesy of PBS Nature. 

Take Action on Nexus
Find out how to facilitate the transition to regenerative and circular systems in energy, waste management, and food production in our Biogas Nexus

Photo Credits
1. NicoElNino / Alamy Stock Photo
2. Rowan Morgan / Alamy Stock Photo
3. Courtesy of Alana Henry / Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council

4. Imagebroker / Alamy Stock Photo

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