China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’

June 6, 2017 by  
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City public transportation systems typically rely on a mix of trains and buses . But what if the two could be combined? Chinese company CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive recently debuted a trackless train that could ease traffic and emissions in urban centers. The Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) uses sensors to run along invisible tracks on city streets. Train tracks on city streets could be a thing of the past if all goes well with the ART, recently unveiled in the city of Zhuzhou in the Hunan province in China , where it recently went on a trial run. Firstpost described the ART as the world’s first trackless train. Sensor technology enables the ART to glide over roads, helping it track a guiding system in place. The sensors send the information back to the train’s central control unit – what Firstpost described as a brain – to help it travel smoothly. Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train More than 300 people can ride on the ART, which is comprised of three carriages in its basic state but can expand to include five. It has rubber wheels with plastic cores. A twin-head system means the train never has to make a U-turn, according to Firstpost. The trackless train is over 103 feet long. The ART is powered by electricity , so it won’t give off carbon emissions as traditional trains do. It can travel at a speed of around 43 miles per hour. CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive has reportedly been testing the ART technology for around four years, but the trackless train could finally be ready to roll out on the road in 2018. The company boasts a wide array of electric locomotives. Their Blue Locomotive won the title of Best New Energy Locomotive at the Berlin International Rail Transit Technology Exhibition. Via Firstpost Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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Electric cars could reach cost parity with conventional cars by next year

June 5, 2017 by  
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Are you eager to get your hands on a new electric vehicle,  but the price is too steep? You’re in luck – electric cars will likely reach cost parity with vehicles that have internal combustion engines by next year, and electric vehicles could be cheaper that gas by as soon as 2025, according to a new report by USB . The report makes it clear that while electric vehicles will still cost more than ICE cars, owning a new EV will be comparable to owning a gas or diesel car in the long-term. Analysts took into consideration the fuel costs, maintenance costs and other related expenditures related to owning all vehicles and used the information to determine that over time, the cost of owning a green vehicle is comparable to owning a conventional one. As Green Car Reports  reports , it is becoming more affordable to own an EV due to breakthroughs in battery capacity, charge times and a growing demand for environmentally-friendly technology. Part of the analysis required UBS to break down a $37,000 Chevrolet Bolt in order to estimate how much the vehicle cost to build. It was discovered that “the EV powertrain is $4,600 cheaper to produce than we thought and there is more cost reduction potential left.” Analysts continued that the 238-mile range Bolt costs around $28,700 to build and that GM is only expected to produce 30,000 Bolts in 2018. Therefore, there won’t be a huge incentive for it to be profitable. Related: UK solar smashes record, supplying 25% of electricity demand On the other hand, the Tesla Model 3 is expected to be produced in numbers as high as 500,000 by 2018. When extras are added on to the base price of the Model 3 at $35,000, the company is expected to break even. UBS declared that electric vehicles are the “most disruptive car category since the Model T Ford” and that though total sales for electric cars is still relatively small, global EV sales will reach 14% by 2025 (4.2 million vehicles). Europe is expected to take the lead in this department, selling 30% of the world’s electric cars within eight years. Now that EVs will soon cost the same to own as a car or truck with an ICE, a massive shift is expected to take place within the auto industry . + UBS Via  Green Car Reports

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How climate change could alter the environment in 100 years

June 5, 2017 by  
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Want to know exactly what President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement means? Here are some projections of how climate change could alter our planet in the upcoming century. From rising sea levels to a thawing Arctic and bleached coral reefs , the Earth we leave to our grandchildren could be a remarkably different place. Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Gavin Schmidt told Business Insider we can’t stop global warming . It’s already in motion even if we were to curb all carbon emissions tomorrow. But Schmidt said it’s possible for us to slow climate change so we can better adapt to our changing world. Business Insider drew from several sources to examine what our world could look like – if nations do indeed stick to the Paris Agreement. Related: Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon We’ll see more temperature anomalies – or how much a given temperature is off the normal temperature of a region. Greenland summers could be utterly free of ice by 2050. Tropical summers could have 50 percent more extreme heat days by 2050. Water resources will be impacted, with scientists predicting severe droughts will occur more frequently. Rising sea levels could also change life on the coasts of numerous countries, and unexpected collapses of ice shelves could erratically change sea levels. Oceans could rise two to three feet by 2100, which could displace around four million people even in the best case scenarios. Meanwhile oceans will warm as they absorb carbon dioxide and lead to acidification that threatens coral reefs – nearly all of tropical reefs could be harmed. Half of those tropical coral reefs are still under threat in best case scenarios. Schmidt said the 2100 Earth could be between “a little bit warmer than today and a lot warmer than today.” We have an opportunity now to curb emissions and slow climate change through solutions like renewable energy or carbon capture technology. We just have to take action. Via Business Insider Images via NASA , Andreas Kambanis on Flickr , and Matt Kieffer on Flickr

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World’s first ‘cranehouse’ hoisted over Bristol harbor is completely carbon neutral

June 5, 2017 by  
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Could a new urban vacation trend take the trees out of treehouses ? The world’s first “cranehouse” has opened in Bristol and it’s every bit as spectacular as their conventional trunk-supported counterparts. Designed by vacation specialists Canopy & Stars , the tiny structure is hoisted by a cargo crane 26 feet over Bristol Harbor. What’s more, the low-impact wooden structure is completely carbon neutral, and it was built using sustainable materials . The “hanging basket” is a collaboration between Canopy & Stars and DIY company, B&Q, who decorated the space with a chic collection of sustainable furnishings. Touches of nature are found throughout the space, including walls inlaid with tree branches, a watering can shower, and a bed made out of a reclaimed tree trunk . Industrial hints such as copper finials, polished concrete, and natural vegetable-fiber mats complete the rustic, yet sophisticated interior design. Related: 9 treehouses you can actually rent for an off-the-ground getaway Along with a “living painting” by local artist Anthony Garrett, the design focused on creating a similar “multi-sensory experience” one might experience in a true treehouse. Scents of woodlands such as lavender, sage, and bark waft through the interior. Wild flowers are planted in recycled wooden crates on the exterior of the house and various pollinators were planted on the roof to attract bees and butterflies. Guests at Crane 29 will be able to enjoy the beautiful off-grid retreat by spending their time swinging in the indoor hammock and taking in the spectacular panoramic views of the harbor. Reservations, which run £185 a night, include a gourmet breakfast basket delivered to the house in the morning. Tom Dixon, managing director of Canopy & Stars, explains that the project was a labor of love for the company, “It’s taken three years of planning and design, and only three weeks of building, but we got there. What started as a dream has now become a reality,” said “We hope people enjoy their stays in this amazing building and wake up to the great outdoors feeling they are truly part of this pocket of nature in the city – a real natural high.” Crane 29 will only be opened to guests for just 100 days, but all of the profits from the rental space will be donated to the environmental organization, Friends of the Earth . + Canopy & Stars Via Telegraph Images via Canopy & Stars

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Hundreds of massive seafloor craters are leaking methane

June 2, 2017 by  
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12,000 years ago the Barents Sea was covered with ice . Warming caused ice sheets to recede and a lot of methane was released, leading to blowouts that left the Arctic Sea floor scarred with hundreds of craters . Researchers in Norway recently found these craters, which offer a warning for the future of our world wracked by climate change – and are still leaking methane. The newly-found seafloor craters date all the way back to the end of our planet’s last Ice Age , when they were caused by explosive blowouts. Many of the Arctic Sea floor craters are huge, measuring around 0.6 miles wide. And many are not inactive, but continue to seep methane. Related: 7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding The ice on the Barents Sea for a time kept methane from hydrocarbon reservoirs from escaping. According to Gizmodo, the methane was stored as a hydrate in sediment, which led to pressurized conditions. Study lead author Karin Marie Andreassen of the Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate, and Environment (CAGE) explained it this way: “As the ice sheet rapidly retreated, the hydrates concentrated in mounds, and eventually started to melt, expand, and cause over-pressure. The principle is the same as in a pressure cooker: if you do not control the release of the pressure, it will continue to build up until there is a disaster in your kitchen. These mounds were over-pressured for thousands of years, and then the lid came off.” Her team found more than 100 craters between 980 and 3,280 feet wide, and hundreds more smaller craters under 980 feet wide. The also found 600 methane flares, where the gas is spewing out near the craters. Methane concerns scientists because it is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in our atmosphere. And similar geological processes as the ones that led to these Arctic Sea floor craters are still in motion around the world, so scientists think climate change could lead to more methane explosions. The journal Science published the research online this week. 10 CAGE scientists collaborated on the study with two researchers from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate . Via Gizmodo Images via Andreia Plaza Faverola/CAGE and K. Andreassen/CAGE

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US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump

June 2, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump said he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris, as he withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement on Thursday. Pittsburgh, however, isn’t sticking with him – at least not on climate change. The mayor of that city, along with 29 other mayors, three state governors, over 80 university presidents, and over 100 businesses have banded together to commit to the Paris Accord without the president. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who’s helping lead the effort, said in an interview, “We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed.” Trump’s move to yank America out of the Paris Agreement was criticized by many as abdicating American leadership on the global stage in the face of the climate change crisis. But this group of states, cities, businesses, and universities won’t leave the world to battle the crisis alone. The unnamed group is working with the United Nations to see if their submission can be added to the Paris deal. Related: BREAKING: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement Other mayors include those of Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City. Mars and Hewlett-Packard are among the businesses involved. And presidents or chancellors of universities like Wesleyan and Emory are getting on board as well. Bloomberg said businesses, states, and cities could reach the Obama administration’s Paris goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent down from 2005 levels by 2025. California Governor Jerry Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formed the United States Climate Alliance immediately in the wake of Trump’s announcement, and called for other states to join in. In a statement, Brown said he doesn’t believe “fighting reality is a good strategy” and that states will step up if the president won’t lead. Even former President Barack Obama broke the silence traditionally maintained by former presidents to help ease the country’s transition into new leadership. He released a statement published by The Washington Post , saying, “…even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.” Via The New York Times Images via Fibonacci Blue on Flickr , The Climate Mayors on Twitter , and Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

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BREAKING: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement

June 1, 2017 by  
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During a highly anticipated speech at the Rose Garden, climate denier President Donald Trump announced that the United States of America will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement secured under Barack Obama’s leadership. President Trump stated that the accord was “bad” and poorly negotiated by the Obama administration, and that he “is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first.” Part of Trump’s speech read, ”The Paris Accord is a BAD deal for Americans, and the President’s action today is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first. The accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama administration and signed out of desperation. It frontloads costs on the American people to the detriment of our economy.” Before the announcement was officially made, Donald Trump was cited by The Daily Best telling congressional staffers on a conference call that he is withdrawing from the Paris accord. Energy policy adviser for the White House, Michael Catanzaro, confirmed that “the United States is getting out of the Paris agreement.” Catanzaro added that Trump “will be open to and will immediately be looking for a better deal.” Reportedly, the Trump administration will follow steps for withdrawal laid out in the agreement. In total, says Catanzaro, removing the U.S. from the deal will take four years. “But we’re going to make very clear to the world that we’re not going to be abiding by what the previous administration agreed to,” he said. Despite the fact that countries such as Costa Rica run on 100% renewable energy and Denmark once generated 400% of the power it needs from wind turbines , the Trump administration remains resistant to transitioning the U.S. to run on renewable energy resources. This is because President Trump, a businessman, believes that energy sourced from fossil fuels is the solution to making America great again – and he thinks climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese . Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump At the time of its signing, 195 countries, including the United States, pledged to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change in order to prevent global catastrophes which may result from rising temperatures. President Barack Obama committed America to a goal of lowering emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The broad aim was to increase these cuts over time. With the United States exiting the Paris Agreement, carbon emissions are likely to increase, potentially propelling global disasters resulting from rising sea levels , severe weather conditions, and increased temperatures. On a positive note, China and the European Union are prepared to publicly recommit to the agreement with or without the United States. Also, Trump cannot technically withdraw from the agreement until November of 2019. Finally, many U.S.-based companies, including Apple , have ambitious goals to run on 100% clean energy in the near future. With support from educated consumers, the U.S. may reach its previously contracted emissions goal with or without the President’s support. Via CNN Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Creative Commons

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China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump

June 1, 2017 by  
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China and the United States are two of the world’s biggest carbon polluters, and when both entered the Paris Agreement the moves were seen as a win for the rest of the world. But now as President Donald Trump considers leaving, China recently reaffirmed their commitment to the landmark 2015 deal. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the country would stick to the accord regardless of other countries’ changing stances. The news broke on the last day Trump was planning to yank America out of the agreement . He demurred, at first saying he would be making his announcement “ over the new few days ” with the addition of his campaign slogan in all capital letters. Several hours after that tweet he said he’d be announcing his decision on Thursday at 3:00 PM (no time zone given), with another all-caps slogan tacked on. Related: White House official says Trump is pulling out of the Paris Agreement But China isn’t going to wait for the United States. On Thursday they said they’ll remain in the agreement. Hua said in a daily news briefing on Thursday the Paris deal hadn’t been arrived at easily, and served as the international community’s consensus on climate change . She said, “Climate change is a global challenge. No country can place itself outside of this…We are willing to work with all sides to jointly protect the Paris Agreement process, promote the actual rules and regulations of the agreement in follow-up talks and effectively enact them, and promote global green, low carbon, sustainable development .” Hua was asked if China has been discussing the agreement with Trump’s administration and said the two countries “have close communications about a wide variety of topics,” one of which is climate change. Should the United States leave the historic deal they would be in company with Nicaragua and Syria, which are the only two countries so far to not agree to the accord. Leaving the deal would likely hurt America’s relationships with allies abroad, many already on uncertain footing thanks to Trump. Via Reuters Images via Michael Vadon on Flickr and screenshot

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Tesla’s Musk to quit White House councils if Trump pulls out of Paris climate deal

June 1, 2017 by  
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Back in February,  Tesla  CEO Elon Musk defended his decision to stay on President Donald Trump’s business advisory council after facing a barrage of criticism, including from customers who claimed to have canceled their Model 3 orders. His reasoning was that there needed to be more moderate voices advising Trump on issues such as climate change and clean energy. Now with the president reportedly on the verge of pulling out of the landmark Paris climate agreement , it appears that Musk has had enough of Trump — threatening on Twitter to quit the two advisory councils he sits on (business and manufacturing jobs) if the president abandons the Paris accord. Trump is announcing on Thursday his decision about whether to keep the United States in the global pact, with a source saying he intends to exit the accord. If the US does withdraw from the Paris accord, it would join Syria and Nicaragua as the world’s only non-participants in the agreement signed by 195 nations and so far ratified by 147 parties . The agreement to significantly reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions entered into force on November 4, 2016. Related: Elon Musk says Trump administration may be “positive on renewables” Don't know which way Paris will go, but I've done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2017 Will have no choice but to depart councils in that case — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2017 Musk is joining other corporate CEOs in a last-minute push to convince the president not to cede US leadership on climate. The list includes Tim Cook of Apple Inc., Dow Chemical Co.’s Andrew Liveris, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon and General Electric Co.’s Jeffrey Immelt. Twenty-five companies, including Intel and Microsoft, signed onto a letter published as a full-page ad in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Thursday. “By expanding markets for innovative clean technologies, the agreement generates jobs and economic growth,” the letter reads. “U.S. companies are well positioned to lead in these markets. Withdrawing from the agreement will limit our access to them and could expose us to retaliatory measures.” Via LA Times Image via Facebook

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World’s first commercial carbon-sucking plant goes live in Zurich

May 31, 2017 by  
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Carbon capture is essential to the fight against climate change and keeping temperatures below a two-degree-Celsius increase, according to Swiss-based Climeworks . For a few years now they’ve been working on technology to suck carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and sell it to agriculture or energy industries for reuse. And now they’ve finally switched on the final product – the world’s first Direct Air Capture (DAC) commercial plant on top of a waste recovery facility in Zurich, Switzerland . Atop a municipal-run waste incineration facility in Zurich, Climeworks installed their DAC plant, which is comprised of three stacked shipping containers with six carbon collectors. Fans suck ambient air into the collectors, and a filter takes in CO2. Waste heat will power the groundbreaking plant. Climeworks will send the captured CO2 to a greenhouse – every single year they’ll be able to supply 900 metric tons. They’ll be able to continuously supply the CO2 to the greenhouse via an underground pipeline. Related: The world’s first carbon capture plant can convert CO2 into usable energy In a statement, managing director and co-founder Christoph Gebald said, “Highly scalable negative emission technologies are crucial if we are to stay below the two degree target of the international community.” And the CO2 won’t go to waste. Greenhouses aren’t the only entities that can utilize CO2; it could carbonate drinks or become carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuel. The automotive and food industries could benefit from the CO2 Climeworks captures. Their ultimate goal is to capture one percent of all carbon emissions in the world by 2025. To do that, co-founder and director Jan Wurzbacher estimates they’ll need to install 750,000 shipping containers filled with their C02 collectors. He says that is the same amount of shipping containers that pass through the harbor in Shanghai during a two week period, so it’s a target the global economy could handle. Climeworks says their modular plants could be deployed just about anywhere. + Climeworks Via Climeworks and Fast Company Images via screenshot and Climeworks Facebook

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