Category: carbon

Explained: The Relationship Between Climate Change and Wildfires


This post is by Mark Belan from Visual Capitalist


The relationship between climate change and wildfires explained

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How Climate Change is Influencing Wildfires

Each year, thousands of wildfires burn through millions of acres of land around the world.

We’ve already seen the mass devastation that wildfires can bring, especially in places like Australia, Serbia, and California. But new research by the UN indicates that things might get even worse by the end of the century. By 2100, the frequency of wildfires could increase by up to 50%.

What’s causing this influx of wildfires around the world? Below, we dig into how climate change is impacting wildfires—and how in turn, wildfires are impacting climate change.

Climate Conditions That Support Wildfires

Before diving in, it’s worth going over the basics of wildfires, and how they get started in the first place. An area’s vulnerability to wildfires, also known as its fire regime, depends on three major conditions: its atmosphere, vegetation, and ignitions.

① Atmosphere

Atmosphere plays a big part in how sensitive an area is to wildfires. For instance, wind can increase oxygen supply in an area, which would help fuel a wildfire, (Read more...)

The Elemental Composition of the Human Body


This post is by Mark Belan from Visual Capitalist


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Elements that make up the human body infographic

The Elemental Composition of a Human Body

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

The human body is a miraculous, well-oiled, and exceptionally complex machine. It requires a multitude of functioning parts to come together for a person to live a healthy life—and every biological detail in our bodies, from the mundane to the most magical, is driven by just 21 chemical elements.

Of the 118 elements on Earth, just 21 of them are found in the human body. Together, they make up the medley of divergent molecules that combine to form our DNA, cells, tissues, and organs.

Based on data presented by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), in the above infographic, we have broken down a human body to its elemental composition and the percentages in which they exist.

These 21 elements can be categorized into three major blocks depending on the amount found in a human body, the main building block (4 elements), essential minerals (8 elements), and trace elements (9 elements).

The Elemental Four: Ingredients for Life

Four elements, namely, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen, are considered the most essential elements found in our body.

Oxygen is the most abundant element in the human body, accounting for approximately 61% of a person’s mass. Given that around 60-70% of the body is water, (Read more...)

Visualizing America’s Electric Vehicle Future



The following content is sponsored by Talon Metals and Li-Cycle

Visualizing America’s Electric Vehicle Future

The U.S. is accelerating its transition to electric vehicles (EV) to address climate change. However, obtaining the minerals and metals required for EV batteries remains a challenge.

In this infographic from Talon Metals and Li-Cycle, we explore the country’s strategy to have vehicles, batteries, and key parts be made in the United States.

Then, we look at how this strategy could be fueled by domestic mining and battery recycling.

The All-Electric America

Gasoline-powered cars are one of the biggest sources of carbon pollution driving the climate crisis. As a result, the Biden Administration has set a target for EVs to make up 50% of all new car sales in the U.S. by 2030. Today, fewer than 1% of the country’s 250 million vehicles are electric.

In November 2021, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, which includes:

  • Replacing the government’s 650,000 vehicle motor pool with EVs.
  • Electrifying 20% of the country’s 500,000 school buses.
  • Investing $7.5 billion to build out a network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers across the country.

The idea also has popular support. According to a poll, 55% of voters in the U.S. support requiring all new cars sold in their state to be electric starting in 2030.

However, rising EV sales are already driving demand for battery metals such as nickel, lithium, and copper, threatening to trigger a shortage of these key raw materials. So, does the U.S. have the (Read more...)

Green Bonds: Lasting Solutions For Climate Change



The following content is sponsored by IFC (World Bank Group)

green bonds infographic

Green Bonds: Lasting Solutions For Climate Change

How much will it cost to combat climate change? By some estimates, a staggering $50 trillion. And while this may seem like an impossibly daunting figure, you should know there is a solution to this financing gap: green bonds.

But having only been around for a little over a decade, they are still a relatively unfamiliar investment for many.

The above infographic from IFC explores the exciting world of green bonds, which are gaining serious traction in financial markets.

Green Bonds 101

To begin, green bonds are not that different from regular bonds. Both are debt instruments or fixed income securities that pool capital from investors for a specified project or objective. But while Fortune 500 companies issue bonds to generally enhance their bottom line, green bonds differ in their commitment to eco-friendly ventures and sustainability.

Here’s a closer look at the anatomy of bonds, including green bonds:

  • Yield: The fixed coupon rate as a % of the market value of the bond price.
  • Maturity: The predetermined length of the bond.
  • Credit Rating: The rating bonds receive to determine their riskiness and quality.
  • Bond Price: The price of the bond purchase (typically starts out in $1,000 denominations).
  • Coupon: The payment on the bond usually occurs in semi-annual or quarterly installments.

Unlike bonds which have been around for centuries, dating back to the Mesopotamian times, green bonds are (Read more...)

Visualizing the Accumulation of Human-Made Mass on Earth


This post is by Bruno Venditti from Visual Capitalist


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Accumulation of Human-Made Mass

Visualizing the Accumulation of Human-Made Mass on Earth

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

The world is not getting any bigger but the human population continues to grow, consuming more and more resources and altering the very environment we rely on.

In 2020, the amount of human-made mass, or anthropogenic mass, exceeded for the first time the dry weight (except for water and fluids) of all life on Earth, including humans, animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms.

In this infographic based on a study published in Nature, we break down the composition of all human-made materials and the rate of their production.

A Man-made Planet

Anthropogenic mass is defined as the mass embedded in inanimate solid objects made by humans that have not been demolished or taken out of service—which is separately defined as anthropogenic mass waste.

Over the past century or so, human-made mass has increased rapidly, doubling approximately every 20 years. The collective mass of these materials has gone from 3% of the world’s biomass in 1900 to being on par with it today.

While we often overlook the presence of raw materials, they are what make the modern economy possible. To build roads, houses, buildings, printer paper, coffee mugs, computers, and all other human-made things, it requires billions of tons of fossil fuels, (Read more...)

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming



The following content is sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation.

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming

Financing a Net-Zero Future with Carbon Credit Streaming

The world is advancing towards a net-zero carbon future, but achieving it will require a larger role for carbon credits.

A carbon credit is a tradeable certificate that represents one metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) or the CO2 equivalent (CO2e) of another greenhouse gas (GHG) that is prevented from entering the atmosphere or is removed from the atmosphere. Organizations purchase and use these certificates to offset their emissions that are difficult to reduce or control.

This infographic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation explains how the company is funding the fight against climate change by bringing the streaming model—traditionally used in mining and energy—to the growing market for carbon credits.

The Rising Need for Climate Action

Global GHG emissions have risen alongside the expansion of industries and economies.

Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased at a rate at least 10 times faster than at any other time during the last 800,000 years. Consequently, global surface temperatures have risen, bringing the world closer to the devastating effects of climate change.

According to the latest United Nations Emissions Gap Report, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C requires a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 relative to current levels. While attaining this goal seems difficult, carbon credits can help get us closer to it.

What are Carbon Credits, and How Can They Help?

Carbon (Read more...)

Road to Decarbonization: The United States Electricity Mix



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Road to Decarbonization: The United States Electricity Mix

The U.S. response to climate change and decarbonization is ramping up, and putting a focus on the country’s electricity mix.

As pressure has increased for near-term and immediate action after the UN’s latest IPCC report on climate change, major economies are starting to make bolder pledges. For the United States, that includes a carbon pollution-free utilities sector by 2035.

But with 50 states and even more territories—each with different energy sources readily available and utilized—some parts of the U.S. are a lot closer to carbon-free electricity than others.

How does each state’s electricity mix compare? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council highlights the energy sources used for electricity in U.S. states during 2020, using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The U.S. Electricity Generation Mix By State

How does the United States generate electricity currently?

Over the course of 2020, the U.S. generated 4,009 TWh of electricity, with the majority coming from fossil fuels. Natural gas (40.3%) was the biggest source of electricity for the country, accounting for more than nuclear (19.7%) and coal (17.3%) combined.

Including nuclear energy, non-fossil fuels made up 41.9% of U.S. electricity generation in 2020. The biggest sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. were wind (8.4%) and hydro (7.3%).

But on a state-by-state breakdown, we can see just how different the electricity mix is across the country (rounded to (Read more...)

Road to Decarbonization: U.S. Coal Plant Closures



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Road to Decarbonization: U.S. Coal Plant Closures

As the push to decarbonize starts to kick into gear in the U.S., how do coal plant closures factor into the equation?

With a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, the U.S. is examining all aspects of its economy to see where action is needed. In the automotive industry, for example, the Biden administration is aiming for half of new vehicles to be electric by 2030, following in the footsteps of automakers that have made similar commitments.

But in the power sector that supplies electricity for much of the country, fossil fuels continue to be large emission sources. Coal, which accounted for just 19% of electricity generated in the U.S. in 2020, created 54% of the power sector’s emissions.

That’s leading to U.S. utilities feeling the pressure to retire coal plants and look for alternatives. This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council visualizes the coal plant closures that have been announced, and how much power will be affected as a result.

Where Are U.S. Coal Plant Closures Happening?

Accurately tracking coal plant closures currently means turning to non-profits and parsing through company reports. To assemble this list, we leveraged the Global Energy Monitor and Carbon Brief and cross-referenced against company sustainability reports and news releases.

The result? 80 coal plants with a total capacity of 98.3 GW publicly scheduled for full retirement over the next three decades.

Plant (Read more...)

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card



The following content is sponsored by the National Public Utilities Council

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

As emissions reductions and sustainable practices become more important for electrical utilities, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is coming under increased scrutiny.

Once seen as optional by most companies, ESG reports and sustainability plans have become commonplace in the power industry. In addition to reporting what’s needed by regulatory state laws, many utilities utilize reporting frameworks like the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) ESG Initiative or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

But inconsistent regulations, mixed definitions, and perceived importance levels have led some utilities to report significantly more environmental metrics than others.

How do U.S. utilities’ ESG reports stack up? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council tracks the ESG metrics reported by 50 different U.S. based investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

What’s Consistent Across ESG Reports

To complete the assessment of U.S. utilities, ESG reports, sustainability plans, and company websites were examined. A metric was considered tracked if it had concrete numbers provided, so vague wording or non-detailed projections weren’t included.

Of the 50 IOU parent companies analyzed, 46 have headquarters in the U.S. while four are foreign-owned, but all are regulated by the states in which they operate.

For a few of the most agreed-upon and regulated measures, U.S. utilities tracked them almost across the board. These included direct scope 1 emissions from generated electricity, the utility’s current fuel mix, and water and waste treatment.

Another commonly reported (Read more...)

Comparing the Carbon Footprint of Gold and Bitcoin



The following content is sponsored by Prospector Portal.

Gold Bitcoin Carbon Footprint

The Carbon Footprint of Gold and Bitcoin

The year 2020 shook economies and financial markets around the world, creating uncertainty and volatility. This led investors to seek out alternative assets such as gold or bitcoin to weather the storm. Bitcoin stole the headlines from gold and attracted new investors in record numbers.

While this digital asset may exist in the electronic cloud, its increased adoption and energy use have significant environmental impacts. This infographic sponsored by Prospector Portal takes a look at the carbon footprint of bitcoin and gold.

Price Performance Increases Adoption

In early May, the value of the bitcoin market was $1.05 trillion, only 9% of the gold market’s $11.67 trillion value. Despite this, bitcoin performance is rising to challenge gold as an alternative asset in volatile markets.

In 2020, gold delivered a strong return with 25.12% over the year, and reached a historic high of $2,067 per ounce in August. However, the value of bitcoin rose 536.7% between May 2020 and May 2021, outperforming pretty much every asset possible over that timeframe.

According to Reuters, investors poured $5.6 billion into cryptocurrency funds and products in 2020, up more than 600% from 2019. This increased activity led to increased trading in the Bitcoin network, needing more energy.

Each $1 billion in inflows into Bitcoin uses the same amount of energy as 1.2 million cars”
– Bank of America

The Bitcoin network uses massive amounts of computational power to validate (Read more...)