New Zealand to Ban Future Offshore Oil Drilling

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A Big Win For Climate Action

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, announced today that there would be no future oil drilling in the country’s waters (Financial Times). Since New Zealand’s waters, aka its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), cover approximately 4 million square kilometers, this is an especially amazing achievement! The declaration comes at a pivotal moment in the global push to combat climate change, and a is big win for the environment.

Indeed, while New Zealand was not necessarily the  first country to announce such a ban (France, Belize and Costa Rica have made similar commitments), it is the first significant producer to do so. Much like what went down in my native Canada, the previous Kiwi governments had sought to exploit the country’s oil potential. However (unlike Canada, which maintains its petroleum fixation despite having voted for a government that platformed for change), the current NZ government’s decision is a major policy shift. Those who work with and enjoy the country’s natural environment couldn’t be prouder!

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Feeling the Japanese Enthusiasm for the UNEP

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A Truly Global Initiative

I recently attended an event hosted by The Japan Association for the UNEP (J-UNEP) held here in Tokyo at the UN University Shibuya campus. As someone newly arrived to this country, I’ve been excited to learn more about the sustainable practices and developments that are going on in Japan. It also helps that this conference was in English!

The talk was given by Mr. Taka Hiraishi as part of his series on Climate Action. Mr. Hiraishi has spent his life working in the field of sustainability. With a background in chemical engineering, he has been part of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) as well as the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) since its inception (click HERE for more on Hiraishi-san). Having since retired from his positions he now volunteers with the J-UNEP to share information and awareness on sustainability related issues. He works on tirelessly (although he might say otherwise and blame it on his age), with the hope of generating greater enthusiasm for the topics here in Japan. This man has a wealth of knowledge at his disposal and I was certainly grateful to attend and pick his brain.

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Stephen Hawking

Nurture Curiosity

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking died today. Acknowledged as one of humanity’s greatest minds, he gained international fame for his work on black holes and his continued commitment towards asking the “big questions” of the universe. He has certainly been an inspiration to Sustainably Motivated, and his insights remain timely and relevant. With so much misinformation being disseminated, he reminds us that, “the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” We must therefore stay humble, stay hungry (for knowledge), and stay dedicated to the pursuit of answers. Curiosity and critical thinking are powerful assets, yet they require support and engagement. Thank you for showing us the way Professor Hawking.

 

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Film Recommendation

Tomorrow (2015)

Hope for the Future

I highly recommend this sweet doc that offers viewers both information and inspiration in the struggle to combat climate change and discover better practices and alternatives in our strive for sustainability. It kicks off with the brutal reminder that the planet is currently undergoing its 6th great extinction as a result of destructive industrial practices and human-perpetuated climate change. This planetary pressure is very real, very scary, and has tremendously devastating potential. As parents themselves, the filmmakers (you might recognize Melanie Laurent, a celebrated French actress who also starred in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds), go looking for hope for the future and share with the audience the various solutions that are currently underway. Despite the challenges, tomorrow is indeed looking brighter!

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Why Biomimicry is So Cool!

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Adopting Nature’s R&D

Nature has had millions of years to work on its designs and efficiencies, and it’s no wonder that humans have sought to adopt and mimic these traits for our own uses. This practice of transferring over elements or techniques from the natural world is called biomimicry, and it represents a cutting edge approach towards developing sustainable solutions to the many problems we face.

The more we observe nature, or learn about it from brilliant documentaries, the more amazed and inspired we find ourselves. It truly is awesome! So how do we get some more of this awesomeness to rub off onto us and our daily practices? Well some sharp engineers have already gotten the ball rolling, and I will share a few examples below. It’s worth remembering though, that you don’t necessarily have to be an engineer to leverage your observations of the natural world. Nature has already provided the engineering in many cases. Rather, the genius lies in being able to connect it to your very own applications. Read on and soak up the inspiration.

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