Tag Archives: Green

Not enough states are taking climate action. Time to make some calls!

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It’s Climate Week in New York!!! A host of CEOs and government officials — including Washington Governor Jay Inslee, New York’s Andrew Cuomo, and California’s Jerry Brown — have descended on New York City to discuss what the United States can do to compensate for the federal lack of action on climate change.

The U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of businesses and 14 states plus Puerto Rico, is still on track to make important reductions in keeping with the Paris Agreement. However, despite major commitments from states such as California and New York, it looks like we aren’t going to meet the national reductions promised by the agreement, reports Bloomberg News.

The U.S. is on track to reduce emissions by 15–19 percent by 2025. The goal was 26–28 percent.

But it’s not too late for more states to join in on the fun! Pennsylvania is the third-largest emitter of CO2 in the national energy sector, so I called Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania to ask him if he’d sign on to the U.S. Climate Alliance. He said, “OF COURSE! Why didn’t you ask before?”

No! Actually, he’s kind of touchy about climate action. But I did leave a message with his aide, just to confirm that you can do it, too. Call your governor.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Not enough states are taking climate action. Time to make some calls! on Sep 21, 2017.

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Climate solutions need cold, hard cash. This group aims to make those investments easier.

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“If you just look at the energy sector, we need about a trillion a year,” Barbara Buchner says about the gap between between our climate goals and the amount of investment in developing solutions.

To spur those needed investments, Buchner’s group, The Lab, just launched a new crop of projects aimed at making it easier for investors to put money into green investments. Projects include partnerships between hydropower operators and land conservation and restoration efforts and “climate smart” cattle ranching initiatives in Brazil, as well as more esoteric exploits in private equity and cleantech development.

There are three main barriers that keep investors away from innovative projects, Buchner says: lack of knowledge of new projects, perception of higher risk, and an unwillingness to go in alone on unproven projects.

Breaking down these barriers is important because that climate investment gap can’t be closed by government spending alone.

“It’s the backbone, it’s the engine behind overall climate finance,” Buchner says of these early, targeted projects by governments and non-governmental organizations. “But the private sector [investors] really are the ones that make the difference.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Climate solutions need cold, hard cash. This group aims to make those investments easier. on Sep 21, 2017.

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Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with record-breaking rains.

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The most powerful hurricane to hit the island in nearly a century brought ravaging winds and rainfall on Wednesday, destroying homes, knocking out all of the power, and snapping concrete poles in half. Maria wrecked many repairs that had just been completed after Irma swiped at Puerto Rico two weeks ago.

The National Hurricane Center reports that the island could receive an additional 4–8 inches of rain through Saturday. Puerto Rico remains under a watch for life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Grist contributing writer Eric Holthaus pointed out some surprising stats regarding Maria’s rainfall on Twitter:

  • In one day, parts of Puerto Rico received 24–36 inches of rain. Compare that to Houston, which received 32 inches in three days during Harvey.
  • In Caguas, a city in the mountains of eastern Puerto Rico, rain gauges measured more than 14 inches in one hour — apparently a candidate for a new world record.
  • For reference, Caguas got more rain in a single day (nearly 40 inches) than Seattle does in an average year (37 inches).

After Puerto Rico, Maria headed toward the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Southeast Bahamas — bringing debilitating rain with it.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with record-breaking rains. on Sep 21, 2017.

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New York City to install around 1,000 fast-chargers for EVs

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New York City aims to majorly expand their electric vehicle (EV) charging network with a $10 million investment. They recently introduced a plan to bring 50 fast-charging hubs to the city by 2020 – and each hub could have 20 chargers. The city hopes to encourage more people to drive EVs, with the goal that by 2025, 20 percent of new car registrations will be electric cars.

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New York City is working to become a more EV-friendly region. They want to install fast-charging hubs in each one of the five boroughs. Starting next year, the city will work with energy company Con Edison to pick one site in each borough – and together those five hubs could charge over 12,000 EVs a week. Ultimately, under the plan, there could be around 1,000 high-speed chargers in the city.

Related: Germany unveils plans for the world’s largest EV charging station

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, “New York will continue to invest in the new technologies we need to reduce our emissions, especially in the face of Trump’s abdication of leadership on climate. By helping develop the infrastructure necessary for electric vehicles, we’re going to make it easier than ever for New Yorkers to switch. This is another step towards aligning our action on climate change with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree stretch goal.”

Many public EV charging stations currently offer only a few chargers – International Business Times pointed out even Tesla Supercharger stations typically don’t have more than six chargers. Also, there are level two chargers at around 300 sites in New York, but these aren’t as rapid as high-speed chargers. The 526 level two chargers in New York City are ideal for charging an EV overnight, but not for topping off a car in hour or two while a driver is shopping or eating lunch.

In contrast, fast chargers are closer in function to a Tesla Supercharger, providing what International Business Times described as a meaningful amount of range in less than an hour. Right now, New York City only has 16 of these fast chargers.

Via The City of New York and International Business Times

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Futuristic floating bubble car wins London design competition

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Renault and Central Saint Martins – UAL have teamed up to develop the car of the future. Part of a design competition, students of the school’s MA Industrial Design program have been challenged to think about the future of autonomous, modular cars, along with the infrastructure and services that might support them. The winning design, The Float, envisions futuristic bubble cars that use magnetic levitation technology to get around.

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The competition started with 15 students with three semi-finalists left standing – Stephanie Chang Liu for her ‘Flo’ design, with three different sized vehicles, Tuna Yenici for his emotive vehicle named ‘Vue’ and Yuchen Cai for her vision of vehicles moving around using Maglev technology, called ‘The Float’.

Yuchen Cai was announced as the winner at the opening of Designjunction 2017. The Float connects people in a new way, demonstrating how autonomy will help drivers become more open and social with the outside world. With the appearance of a bubble that moves without conventional wheels, it uses magnetic levitation technology that gives it the ability to move in any direction without the need to turn around.

Related: Audi unveils two new swanky self-driving concepts in Frankfurt

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The exterior is covered in transparent glass, while passengers sit in silver seats. The large swathes of glass will provide a new way for people to connect through tessellation. Users can also use a smartphone app to rent a Float, just like how a user would request an Uber or Lyft ride.

The concepts have been unveiled in London at Designjunction 2017, which runs from September 21-24. Renault is a partner in the competition, since it is eager to develop the technologies of the future with an emphasis on electric power, autonomous driving and connected technologies. Renault’s ultimate goal is to have autonomous electric vehicles on the road by the early 2020s.

+ Renault

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UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers

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Companies often profit from environmental destruction, leaving taxpayers to pick up the cleanup bill. That shouldn’t be the case, according to Erik Solheim, executive director for the United Nations Environment Program. At a conference at Columbia University earlier this week, he said, “The profit of destroying nature or polluting the planet is nearly always privatized, while the costs of polluting the planet or the cost of destroying ecosystems is nearly always socialized. This cannot continue.”

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Solheim said we can turn around Earth’s environmental fortunes if businesses, citizens, and politicians work for a shared goal – with the biggest polluters paying for damage. He said, “Anyone who pollutes, anyone who destroys nature must pay for the cost of that destruction or that pollution.”

Related: The oil industry knew about dangerous climate change in the 1960s

Two scientists made a similar point in a recent opinion piece for The Guardian, saying big oil companies should pay for climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Science and Policy Peter Frumhoff and University of Oxford professor of geosystem science Myles Allen pointed to July lawsuits against ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron, saying they should pay for damages coastal communities face from rising sea levels. They, together with other researchers, published a peer-reviewed study quantifying sea level rise and rising temperatures coming from emissions from fossil fuel companies.

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Solheim also said businesses must play a role by creating new technologies to address needs. He pointed to China as an example, highlighting the work of bike-sharing firm Mobike, which boasts over a million shareable bicycles in the Beijing area. Meanwhile, China is also working on transportation with a high-speed rail network and urban metro systems.

He also pointed to India, where addressing environmental issues has been good for the country. Solar power has created jobs, simultaneous boosting the economy and helping the planet.

Solheim said, “Change is happening. Economic-wise, we are on the right track, but we need to speed up because the challenge is so big.”

Via Thomson Reuters Foundation and EcoWatch

Images via Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon/Army National Guard and Steve Snodgrass on Flickr

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New Antarctic farm will grow produce despite temperatures of -100 degrees F

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Imagine having to go months without an adequate supply of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables. Scientists based in Antarctica know this struggle, which is why engineers at the German Aerospace Center (GAC) are building a high-tech, 135 square-foot indoor farm that can grow an abundance of produce — even when temperatures are -100 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

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The only way to transport food to McMurdo, the US station where the majority of researchers stay, is by plane or ship. Most of the food that is received is dry or frozen. During the summer, the scientists may receive one shipment of fresh food once a week, according to Atlas Obscura. Fortunately, that is about to change.

The Eden-ISS is already under construction and will grow food for all who are stationed at the Neumayer III polar station on the Ekstrom Ice Shelf. The greenhouse will be in a climate-controlled shipping and produce will be grown utilizing vertical gardening technology. When the farm is complete, between 30 and 50 different species of plants — including leafy greens, peppers, radishes, strawberries, tomatoes and zesty herbs — will be grown on trays or hanging modules.

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Because of Antarctica’s climate, the plants are fed by LED lights rather than sunlight. This is actually a good thing, as the researchers have tuned the lights to red and blue wavelengths that are optimal for growing produce.

Related: Scientists discover nearly 100 unknown volcanoes – in Antarctica

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Business Insider reports that the Eden-ISS will be completed in October. The infrastructure is ready to go; the engineers are just waiting for the shipment of supplies which will arrive next month. Reportedly, the GAC team grew its first cucumber (which measured 96 grams and was 14 centimeters long) inside Eden-ISS in July. In Bremen, Germany, GAC has already been testing growing produce in a climate-controlled environment. Next month,  GAC scientist Paul Zabel will move to Antarctica and grow produce under 42 LED lamps.

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Because sub-Arctic regions have experienced an agricultural boon partly due to climate change, the researchers are pumping in excess carbon dioxide to help the plants thrive. The temperature is always set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

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If the GAC team succeeds at building a greenhouse that can grow crops even when it is -100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, researchers will be able to use the same system to help astronauts grow food in space. Considering Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk — two of the most brilliant minds of our time — are intent on moving humans to the moon or Mars, this technology could come in handy.

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Via Business Insider

Images via DLR German Aerospace Center

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