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Apr 22, 2019

Five Petitions To Sign This Earth Week

Only have five minutes to spare, but still want to help make a difference? Add your name to these petitions!


Brooke Hess

Starting in 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated annually on April 22nd worldwide. There are currently 192 countries participating in Earth Day. Considering that there are 195 countries on Earth, this participation statistic is pretty dang good! The goal of Earth Day is to raise awareness of environmental issues facing our planet and help spark action that will change these issues for a cleaner, healthier Earth.

With Earth Day fast approaching, you may be thinking of things you can do to contribute to the cause. If you can’t take off a day of work to head out into the forest and plant trees, here are some environmentally-focused petitions you can sign during your lunch break instead!

How petitions help:

Petitions mobilize support. They bring together organizational strength and demonstrate the ability for supporters to come together for change.

Jason Del Gandio, a professor of communications and social movements, told the New York Times that, “The biggest benefit from a petition is raised awareness… No president is going to do an about-face on a major policy because of 20,000 signatures. But coupling that petition with other tactics like protests, rallies, phone calls, face-to-face lobbying, a well-organized media plan and community outreach creates an environment in which the goals of the signatories can become reality.”

A petition itself won’t cause immediate change, however, it has the ability to spark more activism among its supporters.

Here are five petitions to sign this Earth Day:

Make Earth Day A National Holiday

Sign the petition here.

Photo: The North Face

If you are like the majority of Americans who will be stuck in an office today instead of outside enjoying what Mother Nature has given us, you might be interested in this petition. The North Face started this petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

This would allow for workers in the U.S. to take a day off work to celebrate this day, contribute to a cause that inspires them, and generally spend some time appreciating the Earth.

Save The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Sign the Petition here.

Firth River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Thayer, A., U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest national wildlife refuge in the country. According to the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the purpose of a national wildlife refuge is “To administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of the present and future generations of Americans.”

Right now, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is under threat of oil and gas drilling due to a Taxation Bill that has just been passed by the U.S. Senate. Sign this petition if you want to demand that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be protected from oil drilling!

Remove The Snake River Dams. Save The Salmon! Save The Orcas!

Sign both this petition and this petition.

Lower Granite Dam, Snake River

Dams have a significant impact on spawning Salmon. The added stress that dams add to their breeding patterns has caused the Snake River Sockeye Salmon to be in danger of extinction. This lowered population of Snake River Sockeye has resulted in a smaller food supply for the salmon-eating Southern Resident Orcas.

If the lower Snake River dams are removed, survival rates of Sockeye Salmon would double. Not only would this help the fish population return from near extinction, but it would help recover the Orca population with an ample food supply.

Sign both of these petitions to remove the lower Snake River dams!

Wild Orcas Need Wild Salmon!

Sign the petition here.

Patagonia began this petition to continue the fight to save the wild Salmon and Orcas (similar to the petitions mentioned above).

Right now, Washington State has proposed a plan to “feed the Orcas” with hatchery and farmed salmon. However, scientific research has shown that Orcas need the larger wild salmon to flourish. Not hatchery salmon. And the addition of hatchery salmon will weaken the wild salmon gene pool, thus contributing further to the endangerment of the species.

Read next: The Three to Five Year Whale Watching Ban: For Conservation, or the Economy?

Patagonia proposes that we, “Tell NOAA Regional Administrator Barry Thom, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind, and our elected decision-makers to stop wasting money on failed plans and invest in science-based solutions: reduce hatchery production, remove dams, and change how we harvest salmon.”

Sign the petition if you agree with Patagonia!

Ban The Use Of Tiger Bone And Rhino Horn 

Sign the Petition here.

On October 29th, 2018, China released a statement allowing the trade of tiger bone and rhino horn for medicinal use.

Neither tiger bone nor rhino horn has shown healing effects as medicinal remedies. And with fewer than 30,000 rhinos and 3,900 tigers left in the wild, the possibility of those species going extinct is, unfortunately, extremely high. After a wave of protests, China postponed the ban being lifted. However, the extent of this postponement is not known.

Sign the petition if you want the use of tiger and rhino products to remain banned!


Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

Whilst you’re here, given you believe in our mission, we would love to introduce you to The Outdoor Voyage – our booking platform and online marketplace which only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.


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Aug 19, 2019

Should we Turn the Sahara Desert into a Huge Solar Farm?

According to NASA estimates, each Saharan square metre receives, on average, between 2,000 and 3,000-kilowatt hours of solar energy per year, a farm would be equivalent to 36 billion barrels of oil.



Amin Al-Habaibeh

Whenever I visit the Sahara I am struck by how sunny and hot it is and how clear the sky can be. Aside from a few oases there is little vegetation, and most of the world’s largest desert is covered with rocks, sand and sand dunes. The Saharan sun is powerful enough to provide Earth with significant solar energy.

The statistics are mind-boggling. If the desert were a country, it would be fifth biggest in the world – it’s larger than Brazil and slightly smaller than China and the US. Each square metre receives, on average, between 2,000 and 3,000-kilowatt hours of solar energy per year, according to NASA estimates. Given the Sahara covers about 9m km², that means the total energy available – that is, if every inch of the desert soaked up every drop of the sun’s energy – is more than 22 billion gigawatt-hours (GWh) a year.

This is again a big number that requires some context: it means that a hypothetical solar farm that covered the entire desert would produce 2,000 times more energy than even the largest power stations in the world, which generate barely 100,000 GWh a year. In fact, its output would be equivalent to more than 36 billion barrels of oil per day – that’s around five barrels per person per day. In this scenario, the Sahara could potentially produce more than 7,000 times the electricity requirements of Europe, with almost no carbon emissions.

Global horizontal irradiation, a measure of how much solar power received per year.
Global Solar Atlas / World Bank

What’s more, the Sahara also has the advantage of being very close to Europe. The shortest distance between North Africa and Europe is just 15km at the Strait of Gibraltar. But even much further distances, across the main width of the Mediterranean, are perfectly practical – after all, the world’s longest underwater power cable runs for nearly 600km between Norway and the Netherlands.

Over the past decade or so, scientists (including me and my colleagues) have looked at how desert solar could meet increasing local energy demand and eventually power Europe too – and how this might work in practice. And these academic insights have been translated in serious plans. The highest-profile attempt was Desertec, a project announced in 2009 that quickly acquired lots of funding from various banks and energy firms before largely collapsing when most investors pulled out five years later, citing high costs. Such projects are held back by a variety of political, commercial and social factors, including a lack of rapid development in the region.

The planet Tatooine from the Star Wars movies was filmed in southern Tunisia.
Amin Al-Habaibeh, Author provided

More recent proposals include the TuNur project in Tunisia, which aims to power more than 2m European homes, or the Noor Complex Solar Power Plant in Morocco which also aims to export energy to Europe.

Two technologies

There are two practical technologies at the moment to generate solar electricity within this context: concentrated solar power (CSP) and regular photovoltaic solar panels. Each has its pros and cons.

Concentrated solar power uses lenses or mirrors to focus the sun’s energy in one spot, which becomes incredibly hot. This heat then generates electricity through conventional steam turbines. Some systems use molten salt to store energy, allowing electricity to also be produced at night.

A concentrated solar plant near Seville, Spain. The mirrors focus the sun’s energy on the tower in the centre.
Novikov Aleksey / shutterstock

CSP seems to be more suitable to the Sahara due to the direct sun, lack of clouds and high temperatures which makes it more efficient. However the lenses and mirrors could be covered by sand storms, while the turbine and steam heating systems remain complex technologies. But the most important drawback of the technology is its use of scarce water resources.

Photovoltaic solar panels instead convert the sun’s energy to electricity directly using semiconductors. It is the most common type of solar power as it can be either connected to the grid or distributed for small-scale use on individual buildings. Also, it provides reasonable output in cloudy weather.

But one of the drawbacks is that when the panels get too hot their efficiency drops. This isn’t ideal in a part of the world where summer temperatures can easily exceed 45℃ in the shade, and given that demand for energy for air conditioning is strongest during the hottest parts of the day. Another problem is that sand storms could cover the panels, further reducing their efficiency.

Both technologies might need some amount of water to clean the mirrors and panels depending on the weather, which also makes water an important factor to consider. Most researchers suggest integrating the two main technologies to develop a hybrid system.

Just a small portion of the Sahara could produce as much energy as the entire continent of Africa does at present. As solar technology improves, things will only get cheaper and more efficient. The Sahara may be inhospitable for most plants and animals, but it could bring sustainable energy to life across North Africa – and beyond.

Click here to subscribe to our climate action newsletter. Climate change is inevitable. Our response to it isn’t.

This article was updated on April 30 to correct an error. Saharan solar could potentially produce more than seven thousand times the electricity requirements of Europe (not 7).The Conversation

Amin Al-Habaibeh, Professor of Intelligent Engineering Systems, Nottingham Trent University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cover photo: Photo by Arthur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

Whilst you’re here, given you believe in our mission, we would love to introduce you to The Outdoor Voyage – our booking platform and an online marketplace which only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.


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