Compost and Climate Change

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Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

green architecture, green city

Photo courtesy of visitcopenhagen.com

  • Compost could help fight climate change: According to experiments conducted on a Marin County ranch in California, a single layer of compost can significantly increase the soil’s ability to absorb carbon. If applied on a larger scale, this green solution could potentially reduce carbon pollution. According to the research, if compost were applied to a mere five percent of California’s grazing lands, the soil could capture a whole year’s worth of greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s farm and forestry industries. As researcher and bio-geochemist Whendee Silver explained his theory: “If compost was applied to say twenty five percent of California’s grazing land, the soil could absorb an astonishing three-quarters of the state’s annual emissions.” The principle is rather simple: since compost nourishes plant growth, as a plant grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Then carbon, which is used to create new plant tissue, is also pushed into the soil via the roots. Another way composting can help reduce greenhouse gases is by diverting unwanted food scraps and other organic material from the landfills (U.S. landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions behind the oil and gas and agriculture industries). The Marin county composting experiment has also benefited the land in other ways such as increase in native birds and plants, and green grass year round (remarkable given the extreme drought).
  • Unique new bike lane in Copenhagen: In Denmark’s capital Copenhagen, bicycles outnumber people and nearly forty percent of its residents use bicycle as a means of transportation to work. Therefore a bike-friendly infrastructure is absolutely essential. However, despite more than 200 miles of bike lanes throughout the city, congestion is still a common problem with its busiest bike lane serving up to 40,000 cyclists daily. The new and unique elevated bike lane called Cykelslangen (or Cycle Snake) designed exclusively for cyclists, aims to keep bike traffic moving smoothly. As Mikael Colville-Anderson, CEO of the Danish design company Copanhagenize explained: “Underneath, there’s a harbor front, so there are slow moving-pedestrians. It wasn’t a smooth commute for the cyclists. The people on bikes want to get home and the pedestrians want to saunter.” Pedestrian-cyclist conflict was never an issue, but cyclists couldn’t move at a constant speed, and they also had to deal with stairways. The new roadway elevated one story above the ground is about 13 feet wide and 700 feet long, and allows cyclists to move without interruption. Crossing the new Cykelslangen should take less than a minute.
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