How to deal with global warming? There are six inspiring initiatives around the world

The consequences of global warming are forcing companies, citizens and communities to reinvent themselves with less and less consideration. A world tour that is as inspiring as some of them are innovative.

Also read: Climate, water, energy… Ask your questions about the environment

“Sponge cities” against floods

Landscape architect Yu Kongjian made a small revolution in the history of urban planning by developing the concept of “sponge city”. Against the concretization of cities, he advocates an urban planning that respects nature. “Monsoon rains and floods are treasures, not enemies” defends Let it go .

“We need to revolutionize the way we plan space, minimize the impact of development on the environment and use ecosystems wisely. It is about creating an ecological civilization, as opposed to an industrial one.” he said he regretted his water management practices “forgotten due to overuse of gray infrastructure”.

Everything has to change, we have no choice. The sponge city concept is to use the natural landscape to regulate rainwater, especially during the monsoon season. It is actually about making the city permeable again by creating natural spaces scratched with concrete: vegetation, parks, lakes, green roofs, wetlands, permeable pavements, gardens and catchment basins…

These natural cavities allow rain to be absorbed by slowing the flow of water. Faced with severe flooding, the concept of sponge cities gradually took hold in China; but what happened in Beijing in 2012 was a turning point, prompting the government to adopt a sponge-city program.

The concept of using nature rather than concrete to cope with heavy rains has since become widespread in China, inspiring cities around the world such as Lisbon and Porto in Portugal or Auckland in New Zealand.

An empty road is seen as a restricted area due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Hainan city, south China’s Hainan province, on August 7, 2022. Illustrative photo. | CNS / AFP

Water caught in the fog

In the small village of La Vega in the Canary Islands, Tenerife, a farming couple has been collecting fog since 2018 to irrigate their lemon and plum farms. For this, Jonay González Pérez and Sara Rodríguez Dorta use vertical nets that allow them to collect water droplets that collect when the wind blows the mist through the net and direct it to reservoirs.

The initiative inspired the EU to co-fund a similar fog water harvesting project (Life Nieblas) in Gran Canaria and Portugal to help restore forest areas destroyed by drought and forest fires.

“For the most part, we depend on groundwater in the Canary Islands, but there is still little water there.” Maria Victoria Marzol Jaén, a retired climatologist at the University of La Laguna in Tenerife, says. The Christian Science Monitor. “Collecting mist water consumes no energy and does not harm any other natural resource,” notes Ricardo Gil, who runs Nieblagua, a smoke collector manufacturer.

In Gran Canaria, the goal is to capture 215,000 liters of mist water per year to plant 20,000 bay trees in 35 hectares of Doramas forest, which is at high risk of desertification due to forest fires. Guardian . Fog harvesting only works under certain conditions: there must be enough wind – but not too strong – and enough fog.

In this photo taken on Nov. 23, 2015, Chilean-style fog collectors are shown on the Canary island of Tenerife, Spain. | DESIREE MARTIN/AFP

Bison against forest fires

The European bison, which disappeared in Spain 10,000 years ago, is slowly making a comeback thanks to a species reintroduction program.

This “living brush cutter”, Fernando Moran, director of the European Center for the Conservation of Spanish Bison, explains. A bison weighing up to 1 ton eats about 30 kg of vegetation per day, of which 30% consists of wood fibers and 70% of shoots and leaves. Guardian . “European bison offer instant biodiversity boost”he says. “It opens up the dense parts of the forest, which lets in light and allows grass to grow instead of brush, which reduces the risk of fire and in turn benefits many species through food and freedom of movement.”

In 2021, approximately 150 bison were distributed in 35 breeding centers. Kordopolis characterizes this animal as “big fireman” to prevent fires. Since the 1950s, the continuous migration of people from rural to urban areas has put bushland at high fire risk as farms are abandoned. According to Fernando Mora, the bison carry out forest work for free, worth 3,000 euros per hectare. According to him, it is active at a time when forest fires are becoming more frequent and intense in Spain.

Bison at the Slovak forest farm in Topolčyanki, May 5, 2007. Illustrative picture. | JOE KLAMAR / AFP ARCHIVE

Floating hospitals and schools

Bangladesh faces the consequences of climate change on the frontline, suffering from recurring floods.

The hospital ship built by the “Dostlug” association has stopped on the banks of the Brahmaputra river in the north of the country. Bangladeshi doctors, as well as Dutch, English and French, treat residents of remote villages. “We find almost all departments of the hospital: our waiting rooms, bedrooms, ophthalmology, operating rooms for surgical procedures, gynecology department…”Dr. Mohammad Abdullah emphasizes on it art.

The success of the initiative led the government to support the project. According to Dostluq, an NGO founded by Runa Khan, 7 boats were to be commissioned by 2022. According to the Dhaka School of Economics, in 2050, Bangladesh could lose 20% of its land area and force a third of its population to rising waters. movement.

Also, similar initiatives have emerged, especially in the field of education. Bangladeshi architect Muhammad Rezwan has created nearly 100 floating schools since 2002. The 16-meter-long boat has a classroom and playground with solar panels on its roof to power lighting and computers. Laptops were given to students, reports BizSabah . Along with the schools, the architect also developed the concept of floating farms, including the cultivation of vegetables and even fish breeding ponds.

Students leave a floating school run by Shidhulai Svanirwar Sangstha (SSS) at Chalan Beeld in Rajshahi district on September 4, 2018. Photo for illustration. | MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AFP

Excrement to generate electricity

“Our work can be turned into gold.” This is the open appeal of the American author Lina Zeldovich, who reminds us of the importance of feces as a natural resource, while the current treatment of sewage is not the most ecological. International mail. The author notes that materials from our waste go through underground sewers to treatment plants where wastewater is cleaned of pathogenic organisms, not nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

These fertilizers then end up in large quantities, usually in a nearby lake, stream or ocean, and eventually “Toxic algae blooms, fish kills, and degradation of these water bodies that are not biologically designed to absorb many of these fertilizers.”

But cities are considering recycling human waste. A large Washington, D.C. Water treatment plant uses human feces to generate electricity. Its plant treats 1,400 million liters of treated sewage from more than two million people living in and around the American capital every day, making it one of the largest treatment facilities in the world. According to DC Water.

Solid materials are turned into compost for urban gardens or used to generate 10 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to the consumption of 8,000 homes, thanks to methane produced through a thermal hydrolysis system.

Other companies deal with the recycling of faeces. This is the case with Epic Cleantec in San Francisco or even Loowatt in the UK and Madagascar.

A giant tank filled with sewage at DC Water’s Blue Plains plant, Washington, U.S., November 23, 2015. Photo illustrative. | NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP ARCHIVE

Mangroves against rising seas in Indonesia

The coastal community of Demak, located on Indonesia’s main island of Java, is suffering mangrove damage from erosion, flooding and soil loss caused by the construction of aquaculture ponds, land subsidence and infrastructure. However, these ecosystems harbor rich fauna and flora, protect against the effects of global warming, such as rising seas, and can store large amounts of atmospheric carbon.

In December 2022, the United Nations recognized Indonesia’s Build for Nature program as one of ten flagship initiatives to restore the natural world. The program aims to naturally regrow mangroves along a 20 km stretch of coastline using semi-permeable dikes made of natural materials to trap mud and sediment. The process allows soil to collect at the roots of mangroves, helping to prevent rising seas from inundating communities.

Students participate in planting mangrove trees on the beach in Pekan Bada, Aceh province, Indonesia, November 28, 2020. Photo illustration. | CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP ARCHIVE

The initiative also includes support to shrimp farmers to build mangrove-compatible breeding ponds.

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