Due to the ongoing COVID19 crisis in South America, Extreme E decided to make the quick decision to switch the location of the fourth race of 2021 from Brazil to the island of Sardinia off the coast of Italy.
The purpose of the Island X Prix is to raise awareness of the continued impact of climate change on the Sardinian landscape and to demonstrate the importance of protecting the unique eco systems of smaller islands across the world. The event will especially highlight how global warming has seen the island plagued by wildfires. Extreme E is working with local none profit organisations and partners to support reforestation projects and enhance natural green carbon stores.
When we talk of climate change and in particular global warming, more often than not the emphasis is placed on colder regions such as the Arctic Poles and most recently the Greenland Glaciers (and rightly so) – However, this leaves islands around the world which are equally in desperate need of climate solutions, often overlooked.
Sardinia has its fair share of climate related battles including eroding coastlines, forest fires, deforestation, dying species and drought. Though all these problems make up for a tremendous climate conundrum, one unique ecosystem in particular has caught the attention of scientists who are putting focus on the area of Sardinia, and that is the reduction of sea grasses, which are vital storers of carbon. These areas are known as ‘blue stores’ and as you can guess, this is because they typical sit near to, or beneath the ocean (which is blue) – by contrast ‘green stores’ which refers to forests, plantations or grasslands are typically inland, hence (green stores)
Remember those first science lessons at pre school about photosynthesis? One of the first things we learn is that trees breath in carbon and breath out oxygen, whereas humans and other living organisms breath in oxygen and breath out carbon. It’s a balanced system which has worked harmoniously since the beginning of time. ‘Striking natures balance’… However, human activity has skewed the balance, and we’ve been doing so ever since we discovered fire and the art of burning stuff for heat, energy and making things.
There is a slight misconception when it comes to carbon, which is actually vital to our survival and there will always need to be natural levels of carbon in the atmosphere to support the complexity of the planets eco-system. When we talk about eliminating carbon, we are referring to excess carbon, the man made stuff that comes from factories and exhaust pipes, and we are producing more than ever before. Trees and plantation survived long before we as humans started driving vehicles or manufacturing plastic folks, so they certainly don’t require these drastic and excessive levels of carbon. Excess carbon is bad news because it has nowhere to go, so instead floats around our atmosphere absorbing and slowly releasing excess heat. Excess heat in turn ramps up the melting of the ice caps, the drying out of rivers and increases the likelihood of forest fires.
If the glaciers are the planets air con system as demonstrated at the Glacier X Prix (read more here) trees, sea grass and greenery are the planets natural air filters, keeping our air breathable. If we removed all trees and greenery from the planet, we simply wouldn’t exist, or at least not for long. One of the greatest problems with rising heat levels is the drying out of green areas such as forests and grassland. The heat is so intense in certain areas of the planet that they are prone to naturally occurring forest fires, for which large swathes of protected green areas, known as green stores, have been burnt to the ground. To put the cherry on top (and theres always a cherry…) humans themselves are clearing large areas of rainforest to make way for farm land or developments.
Trees store carbon, therefore we need trees to remove and store carbon from the atmosphere. Excess carbon in the atmosphere causes heat which in turn causes the trees to die through lack of water and forest fires. Hence, the very trees working in the background to help keep the balance by breathing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, are being removed by excess man made carbon! This takes us all back to that initial statement at the beginning of the article ‘striking natures balance and removing the excess’.
The great thing is, there are some obvious solutions to help combat the loss of trees and green stores, and that is to plant more of them and protect the ones we have. However, we can go one further and islands such as Sardinia have a little trick up their sleeve to further combat this problem, and that is using the power of sea grass! The great thing about islands, is that they are surrounded by water! Beneath the water are large areas of seagrass which are equally effective in storing carbon, and one of the benefits of being engulfed in water, is you are less likely to catch fire. Simple but effective!
Therefore, the planting of sea grasses around the island of Sardinia will be a focal point of the legacy program for this particular race location. This simple but effective approach can be replicated across the planet providing another solution for island based locations!
Did you know…
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and both are territories of Italy. Life expectancy for occupants of this island is amongst the highest in the world, partially due to its unique blue zone benefits, providing beautifully clean air and a slower pace of life!
What to find out more interesting facts about Sardinia, visit the link here
See our mini behind the scenes documentary from the previous race to get a feel for whats happening on the front line!
Video by Ric Boullemier of Generate Media
With just 2 days to go until the Extreme E Island X Prix, myenergi, pioneer of the world’s first eco-smart EV charging device, is set to charge up the competition and bring a spark to the sandy beaches of Sardinia. XITE ENERGY RACING – powered by myenergi – is currently sitting in eighth position, hot on the heals of Veloce Racing and ABT Cupra XE.
Piloted by drivers Oli Bennett and Christine GZ, the UK outfit is looking to maintain its solid form demonstrated in the first three rounds of the 2021 Extreme E Championship. With 5th, 6th and 8th place finishes, XITE ENERGY RACING is targeting a spot in the final for the penultimate race of the season.
Island X Prix, which takes place in Sulcis-Iglesiente, Sardinia, will see teams race across the army training area at Capo Teulad – a region situated in the south-west of the island. Covering seven kilometers, the tricky route will see drivers navigate crumbling sand dunes, riverbeds, rocky outcrops and a whole host of other natural obstacles.
Jordan Brompton, co-founder and CMO of myenergi, commented: “Pushing the boundaries of technology and capability, Extreme E is revolutionising global motorsport. Combining entertainment with environmental activism, the championship is raising global awareness of the widespread impacts of global warming and the climate emergency.
“As principal sponsor of XITE ENERGY RACING, we’re committed to taking sustainability to the masses and helping to inspire widespread behavioural change. It’s incredible to see the myenergi brand involved in the world’s most exciting motorsport championship – each round has had us on the edge of our seats!”