Climate change is the phenomenon of global warming. The major cause is greenhouse gases, including four main ones: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons, produced by human activity. There are many events observed for decades proving that climate change exists like temperature rising both on the surface and under the water, melting ice, climbing sea levels, increase in the acidifying level of the ocean, and so on. It is an urgent call for the upgradation of techniques to solve the Earth’s critical condition.
The construction industry is responsible for roughly 39% of the World’s carbon emissions according to the World Green Building Council. The reason draws back to the large consumption of raw materials and natural resources in the manufacturing process of some building materials. Thus, architects and constructors are in favor of sustainable materials to address the concern of climate change. Concrete, a widely used building material, is among the main factors of atmospheric pollution since the cement industry contributes about 8% to the global emissions of carbon dioxide (Souza, 2020). The Newtab-22 Material-led Design Studio, a company based in South Korea, has developed a new material, which can be an alternative to concrete, using the waste of seashells from the seafood and aquaculture industries. Seashells are hard exoskeletons of marine mollusks. They are primarily made up of calcium carbonate, which is a common substance found in rocks, mostly limestone. That is why this new seashell material is named “Sea stone”. Following the information provided by the company, “the process of making Sea Stone involves grinding down the shells and mixing them with natural binders” (Crook, 2020). Also, it is currently a small-scale production to avoid any pressure on climate change regarding energy dissipation.
Green architecture has become a popular topic in recent years due to the fast growth of urbanization. The report “Net-zero building: Where do we stand” claims the area occupied by buildings on the Earth to be 255 billion square meters with an estimated addition of 5.5 billion each year. It leads to a lack of green space in metropolitan areas. The absence of natural oxygen factories in dense cities has negative impacts on not only climate change but also human health. Green infrastructure has arrived as a solution to improve the environmental condition with limited sources of land. The system is divided into two categories of horizontal and vertical greenery types. Despite the benefit of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, plant strategies should be well-thought-out considering location, sun exposure, building height, and plant species. Thus, a new technology of inserting microalgae into the leaf-mimicking tiles’ ravines can be a better green wall option in terms of size convenience. Microorganisms like algae have the ability of bioremediation, meaning to break down pollutants from water and air when flowing through them. The project is still under examination for the replacement method of microalgae hydrogel after being saturated with toxins.
The largest contributor to climate change in the United States names transportation with approximately 27% of the total greenhouse gases emission of the country. Fossil fuels, which account for a great amount of carbon dioxide, are hopefully replaced by biofuels. They are taken from the biomass of plant or algae material and animal waste. With new technologies, it is now possible to produce biofuels from non-edible gases, wood, and other plant waste material. The advantages of biofuels over fossil fuels are renewable and zero net emitters due to the fact that the carbon absorbed while growing plants cancels out the carbon released when burnt for automobile utilization. However, to meet the demand for global transportation, it costs a lot of energy for tractors, means of conveyance, and fuel conversion. Besides, extending the growing areas attacks forests’ existence whereas these woodlands help to decelerate climate change by removing an average of 2 billion metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year since 2000.
Another solution for carbon reduction in transportation is electric vehicles (EVs). It is reported that EV sales in the first half of 2021 increased by 160% compared to the previous year (Gramling, 2021). It was the result of government policies stimulating automakers to uplift their EV production. The cars are marketed as “zero-emission” vehicles since their function relies on electrically rechargeable batteries that don’t release any greenhouse gases. In reality, the emissions still occur from the production of electricity that these vehicles consume. Additionally, most EVs are heavily built by using more aluminum because of the weight of a battery pack. This leads to an increase in carbon dioxide emission from materials manufacture. Battery still needs to be more advanced in response to climate change.
Cattle come first as an agricultural source that contributes to climate change due to the amount of methane released from cows. On average, a cow burps about 220 pounds of methane every year. It is easier for methane to break down in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but this greenhouse gas is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide (Quinton, 2019). The earliest effort to reduce methane emissions is the vegan movement to encourage the cut of dairy products and beef consumption. However, this method can’t work on a large scale because it is impossible to force others to change their diets. People’s food choices reflect religious beliefs, culture, tradition, and personal preferences. On the other hand, cows’ diets can be modified. Kebreab, a UC Davis scientist, has found that adding 1% of seaweed to the diet reduces up to 60% of methane emissions from cow’s belch. The downside is that there is not enough supply of this type of red seaweed, called Asparagopsis taxiformis. Its planting technique is still under development.
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- Crook, L. (2020) Sea stone is a concrete-like material made from shells, Dezeen. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2020/08/28/sea-stone-newtab-22-design-shells-materials/ (Accessed: April 7, 2023).
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- Quinton, A. (2019) Cows and climate change, UC Davis. Available at: https://www.ucdavis.edu/food/news/making-cattle-more-sustainable (Accessed: April 7, 2023).
- Souza, E. (2020) Is it possible to recycle concrete?, ArchDaily. ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/933616/is-it-possible-to-recycle-concrete (Accessed: April 7, 2023).
- Wang, X. et al. (2020) “Vertical greenery systems: From plants to trees with self-growing interconnections,” European Journal of Wood and Wood Products, 78(5), pp. 1031–1043. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00107-020-01583-0.