Category: Business

The Power Of An Individual In The Fight Against The Climate Crisis

By Arun Balaji, Kunaal Venugopal, Kaushal Kumar, and Sudhit Rao

In the fight against the climate crisis, individuals are often reluctant to become activists due to the belief that their actions will fail to incite change. However, this viewpoint has been proven fallacious with the actions of individual activists such as Greta Thunberg. Thunberg, now a seventeen-year-old girl from Sweden, has made strides in the climate change movement that have resulted in her winning Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

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Greta Thunberg grew interested in the climate change movement as a young child, but her activism drew global attention when she started climate strikes at her school in August 2018. The threat of her strike was to not attend school until the election that year in order to convince the Swedish government to institute policies that aligned with the Paris Agreement, which holds a central goal of ameliorating the global response to climate change by limiting the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Thunberg’s actions have instigated a ripple effect across the globe as she pushes for global awareness for the pressing issue of climate change. Recently, Thunberg made a post on Twitter showing her continued support for the climate strike movement in schools. Thunberg’s ability to make a substantial impact on the climate change movement elucidates to the potential that all individuals could have. Clearly, no matter where an individual is from, regardless of their background or situation, they can make an impact on our world.

When it comes to mitigating the climate crisis, an individual can do a variety of things in their community to raise awareness on the issue and further developments in mitigating the problem. One can do something as simple as encouraging their peers to reuse and recycle to create a cleaner world, design more efficient recycling procedures, creatively reduce ocean pollution, or create a business that regulates these procedures– the possibilities are endless. No matter the scale, we can make an impact by creating a ripple effect and inspiring our peers to do something in their community. After all, it is our planet to save.

Inspired by the actions of Thunberg, Adarsh Ambati, a sophomore from Mitty High School, is working diligently to combat climate change by making STEM accessible to all, through his non-profit Gro-Stems. Working by his vision of achieving “a world in which everyone strives to better the environment,” Adarsh, funded by his sale of succulents and a GoFundMe, hopes to mitigate climate change by increasing environmental literacy in homeless shelters around him. Simple passion projects like Adarsh’s have made a great impact on the community, as a right step forward in a cleaner, better planet.

We all can make a difference. If you think that you have an idea regarding the fight against climate change or any business proposals/innovational ventures, consider taking part in Cloud9, a virtual pitch competition hosted by Elevate the Future, a nonprofit organization focused on “providing youth with the resources and support in order to spark their passions and set them up for success.” Co-founded by Rayan Garg and Arjun Gupta, the organization has worked tirelessly to close the educational gap in Generation Z. The competition is being judged by industry experts from large Silicon Valley corporations. The winners not only receive a cash prize but also an automatic entry to the semifinals of the Blaze Global competition; this competition may be the perfect platform to showcase your ideas. Really, anyone can have an impact, with these competitions being only one of those venues. So let your ideas fly, innovate, and make a positive difference in our world.

The Hidden Carbon Footprint Behind Cryptocurrency

by Suraj Gangaram

Due to the market meltdown in early March, the price of a cryptocurrency referred to as Bitcoin dropped by $1000 within less than a day. As a result of Bitcoin’s extensive power consumption and carbon footprint, people adhering to the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) criteria have sparked debate over the practicality of it in today’s day and age. The presence of the coronavirus situation especially begs the question:

How are cryptocurrencies in general going to move forward?

Believe it or not, Bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency which operates independently of a central bank, has a giant carbon footprint associated with producing it. The digital currency offers relative anonymity, does not charge sales tax and is free from bank and government interferences. Transactions are digitally stored as “blocks” in a chain as opposed to a traditional centralized location as in banks; the “winner” is given the right to add another block of data to the chain, and is rewarded with a new Bitcoin. Bitcoin, currently sitting at a value of around $7000, is infamous for its energy consumption, demanding a plethora of tailor-made computers to carry out its arduous mining process which requires complex mathematical computing. As part of an attempt to save on their expenditures, mining companies have relocated their computers, known as ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits), to warehouses with access to cheap electricity. Currently, over 50% of all mining occurs in China’s Sichuan province, which has a superabundant capacity for hydropower. Seemingly just another financial trading tool, it consumes as much electricity as the country Chile, with nearly 19 million inhabitants. Researchers calculated that the Bitcoin network consumed 31.3 Terawatt-hours (1 TWh = 3.6*10^15 J) of electricity and 17.3 megatons (17.3 million tons of TNT) of CO2 in 2018 alone.

Companies are cognizant of the impact of crypto-currency production on climate change as it works its way into becoming the currency of the future. A Canadian company, Upstream Data, has invented a method of diminishing the amount of methane vented into the atmosphere from oil wells through utilizing the fuels as a generator for mining computers. Steve Barbour, the company’s founder, has described the venture as one of “a low capital…for an oil company.” Looking to set the path forward for ESG-minded individuals, mining companies are looking to reconfigure the processes of producing crypto-currency, before climate change demands them to do so.

Here’s how Plant-Based Meats are Reducing the Carbon Footprint of the Agriculture Industry

by Arun Balaji

The Beyond Burger (NASDAQ: BYND) and Impossible Burgers, among many others, have taken the country by storm as cost-effective and great tasting plant-based alternatives to meat based cuisine. More than just a namesake, gag, and the subject of challenges for many that appear on YouTube, these alternatives provide a legitimate solution to those that want to remove meat from their diet without missing out on “that meaty flavor.” 

Furthermore, scientists have recently found that meat consumption is actually detrimental to humans, as among many reasons, the digestive systems simply aren’t built to process animal meat. Studies have also linked meat consumption to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancer. Additionally, animaltarian efforts that argue the immorality, inhumanity, arguing the ethics of taking a life, an angle that hasn’t been challenged in recent memory.

Hence, it’s to no surprise that the prominence of animal agriculture and the consumption of red meat and poultry has experienced a steep decline over the past decade, as plant-based substitutes garner a steady follower base. 

What is surprising, though, is the little-known superlative benefit surrounding plant meat consumption. It’s actually good for the environment. Researchers found that the slaughtering of cows and other animals releases an extraordinary amount of nitrogen into the environment. Although it isn’t carbon, the element most commonly associated with pollution, nitrogen is a greenhouse gas, and it is warming our Earth at an unnatural level. This process is unavoidable, and even after iterations of improvements, the production of nitrogen is still significant. As a result, animal slaughtering has produced 500 nitrogen-flooded dead zones in the ocean, emitting more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation combined. Plant-based substitutes avoid all of these emissions, providing a clean and environmentally friendly option to consume meat.

So the debate is brought up once more in our time. Should we eat meat? Ultimately, this question really doesn’t have an answer as the nutritional benefits meat offers has its negative counterparts, much like everything in our plant– everything has its positive and negative. Though this debate can stand the test of time, our planet is on a ticking clock as global warming persists, and little changes to our diet could be the deciding difference.

Picture credit: Impossible Foods

Meet the World’s Greenest Car: Sony’s Fisker Ocean

by Sudhit Rao

Tesla’s pure domination of the electric car market might soon come to an end with the unveiling of Sony’s new Fisker Ocean, an affordable electric sports utility vehicle. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 featured a countless number of great products but Sony’s Fisker Ocean certainly stole the show as most surprising. The electric car boasts a price of just $29,999 after federal tax incentives, cutting off Tesla’s most popular and affordable car, the Model 3 priced at $35,000. 

Headquartered at the heart of technological innovation, California, Fisker Ocean’s mission runs parallel with creating a cleaner and greener future for the world. The car company hopes to “Provide the world’s most sustainable vehicles through an e-mobility service” and envisions “A clean future for all”(Fisker Ocean).  

While their purpose is certainly in the hopes of a better, more green future, how does the company hope to accomplish this? Fisker Ocean implements various techniques such as recycling and renewable power to do just that. The car’s exterior body is created from recycled materials such as discarded fishing nets and plastics that would instead be left in the ocean, unused. The interior of the car consists of recycled polyester such as T-Shirts and fibers and recycled plastics. This has enormous benefits to the environment as the polyester manufacturing process primarily requires gasoline. To top that, Fisker Ocean is the first car to implement a solar roof, claiming that it would provide users with an additional 1,000 miles of range for zero cost. The roof would improve fuel performance as well as reduce the overall CO2 emissions. More information about the sustainability of the car can be found here

Fisker Ocean is a serious contender as a pure electric car due to its affordability, but more importantly, a far more important issue is being tackled by the car company, environmental sustainability. The sustainability of the car can prove extremely beneficial to the environment by reducing carbon emissions and recycling materials that would otherwise go unused but only time will tell if Fisker Ocean is crowned king as the world’s most sustainable car.