I don't have the words or even the space to summarize this year, so I won't begin to try. Although the pandemic dominated the headlines (rightfully so) there were still some great articles about environmental solutions this year. Here are the articles that blew me away, and will stick with me through 2021.
Should California ban gas in new homes? A climate battle heats up ran in the business section of the LA Times. The writer does a good job explaining both sides of the debate on whether or not new buildings should be connected to the natural gas lines. I think we'll see more news about this issue in the coming year. The following article offers a pretty compelling case for how this can be done on a large scale in the United States.
Electrify Everything: Stop using fossil fuels and make money for every American household provides a simple outline of how we can all decarbonize our homes, how much it would cost if we did it today, and how instead it could save homeowners $1,200 per year if the right policies, building code changes, and financing options were available. This is all a big IF, for now. But with cities like San Jose and Oakland having banned natural gas in new buildings and Biden coming into office soon, the ideas presented in the article are starting to sound within the realm of possibilities.
How 100% clean energy could power our cities and towns is a video by Grist that simplifies this concept even further. It also addresses what natural gas can indeed be used for as we transition it away from our homes (just in case you were worried about the natural gas industry.)
Sustainable living trends
What’s the bigger climate threat: Single-use plastic or long-haul shipping? There's a lot of debate about this one. I've been torn about promoting the benefits of subscription services that encourage even more gas-guzzling delivery trucks zipping through my quiet neighborhood. But several articles have explained the environmental benefits of refill and reuse services, and this is one of the most thoughtful.
Why Meal Kits Aren't as Bad for the Environment as You Think by Time Magazine explains that although subscription services require more packaging and shipping, they also significantly reduce food waste. Thank goodness, because I love my meal kits.
How to stop the next pandemic
How to stop the next pandemic confirmed what I've believed for a long time. Solving environmental problems is not only better for the planet and all the critters on it, but it's also better for our health and our wealth. This article is about where Covid came from, and what we need to do to prevent future viruses. Spoiler alert: we need to stop destroying Nature. Not just because it's the right thing to do, but because if we don't, the indirect costs will continue to add up through pandemics, wildfires, and political unrest.
Why ventilation is so important
Why Ventilation is Key to Battling Covid explains why properly ventilating buildings is so important in the time of Covid, but also why this is not an easy problem to solve. Most schools and buildings need major improvements to their ventilation systems in order to use the kinds of HEPA filters that will filter viruses and wildfire smoke, both issues that we'll most likely be dealing with for the next decade. Also, the trade-off to making buildings more energy-efficient is that they become more airtight, preventing fresh air from flowing through. This makes proper ventilation essential to filtering out viruses and other pollutants.