Toyota and Mazda establish a new company for electric cars

October 18, 2017 by  
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Toyota , Mazda and Denso have signed a new partnership through which they will jointly establish a new company for the development of electric cars. Neither Toyota nor Mazda offer any fully electric vehicles in their lineup yet, so the new partnership will give both automakers the basic structural components for EVs. For automakers to survive the changing automotive industry, they need to be able to produce several types of powertrains, including electric and fuel cell vehicles . Toyota, Mazda and Denso have decided to team up for better capability of developing electric technology that can be applied to a variety of vehicles, improving their response time to the changing market trends. Related: New Toyota concept takes the wheel when drivers get sleepy The new company, called EV Common Architecture Spirit Co Ltd. will leverage Mazda’s product planning and computer modeling-based development, Denso’s electronics technologies, and the Toyota New Global Architecture platform. The TNGA platform is already used by models like the 2018 Toyota Camry and the latest-generation Prius . Toyota will own 90 percent of the company, while Mazda and Denso will each have a 5 percent share. The new agreement covers a diverse range of models, from mini vehicles to passenger vehicles, SUVs, and light trucks. Toyota and Mazda are both behind most other automakers, since neither of them have focused on fully-electric vehicles. Toyota has focused its energies on hybrid powertrains, while Mazda continues to focus on improving the internal combustion engine . With countries now mandating zero-emissions vehicles, the partnership will not only help both automakers catch up to their competitors, but also bring new electric cars to market sooner. Mazda has already announced that it will introduce electrified powertrains as early as 2019. + Toyota All images ©Toyota

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Toyota and Mazda establish a new company for electric cars

Greening the Earth could fight climate change as efficiently as cutting fossil fuels

October 18, 2017 by  
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Planting trees, revitalizing soil, and other natural environmental actions could prove as effective in fighting climate change as ceasing all oil use across the planet, according to new study published by an international team of scientists in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought,” said the team in a statement. Protection of carbon-storing peatlands , sustainable land management, reforestation, and other natural solutions could account for 37 percent of all emissions reductions required under the Paris Agreement by 2030. Perhaps most astoundingly, a complete re-greening of the planet would have as much of a positive impact on climate change mitigation as completely stopping the global burning of oil for fuel. The estimates of the potential benefits from natural climate change solutions are about 30 percent higher than that predicted by a 2014 UN panel of climate scientists. In the recently released study, scientists conclude that more sustainable management of natural resources and the environment could result in 11.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of China’s yearly emissions, by 2030. Trees are particularly important to this system, as they act as carbon banks while they are alive. After they die, trees decompose and this carbon is slowly released back into the atmosphere. More trees and more resilient forests means more potential carbon storage, among other health benefits. Related: Megacities could save $505 million a year thanks to trees Although the current plans from governments across the globe are insufficient to avert a 2 degree Celsius global temperature rise, the new study offers hope for alternative solutions. “Fortunately, this research shows we have a huge opportunity to reshape our food and land use systems ,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. Unfortunately, the planet is rapidly running out of time before catastrophic climate change upends the world as we know it. “If we are serious about climate change, then we are going to have to get serious about investing in nature ,” said Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. You heard it here: get out there and start planting trees. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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Toronto’s waterfront to undergo major futuristic redesign thanks to Google’s Sidewalk Labs

October 18, 2017 by  
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In collaboration with Sidewalk Labs, a start-up created by Google to “accelerate innovation in cities around the world,” the city of Toronto will embark on a futuristic redesign of its waterfront that will incorporate cutting edge technology and sleek modern design to build an urban gathering place for businesses, locals and visitors. Innovations on the Toronto waterfront may include free public Wi-Fi, automated trash systems, robust renewable energy sources, and self-driving cars . “This project will become a model for others not only in Canada, but around the world,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It is estimated that the innovations by Sidewalk Labs could reduce typical greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds, save the average commuter an hour of travel time and put residents of the neighborhood, which has been dubbed “Quayside,” within a very short walking distance from green space. “Over time, “we believe Sidewalk Toronto can demonstrate to the world how to make living in cities cheaper, more convenient, healthier, greener, fairer, and even maybe more exciting,” said former New York City  deputy mayor and current Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff. Sidewalk Labs, acknowledging that “that great neighborhoods aren’t planned from the top down,” has announced a town hall meeting for November 1, 2017 in which citizens can discuss their ideas and concerns regarding the new project. Related: Trees to grow on the balconies of Penda’s timber high-rise in Toronto Founded in 2015 as a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Sidewalk Labs has been deciding between several locations for a comprehensive feasibility study to test ideas and systems that could be applied in the design of the cities of the future. The announcement by Sidewalk Labs and Toronto follows several months of speculation about the company’s plans, which were rumored to include a “Google Island” city built from the ground up to Sidewalk Labs’ specifications. In its work to redesign Toronto’s waterfront, Sidewalk Labs will use tools like Flow, which the company conceived to identify problems in traffic flow or lack of transportation access. Via Inc. and The Verge Images via Depositphotos

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Toronto’s waterfront to undergo major futuristic redesign thanks to Google’s Sidewalk Labs

California becomes first state to require pet stores to sell rescue animals

October 17, 2017 by  
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In a move which is being applauded by animal rights activists, California is officially the first state to ban puppy mills. The revised measure AB485 requires pet stores to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits from animal shelters, rescue groups or adoption centers. The goal? To ensure better treatment of animals and to secure homes for some of the 1.5 million animals which are euthanized across the United States each year. On Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation which will go into effect January 1, 2019. Stores could be fined up to $500 for the sale of an animal that is not a rescue . Before the measure was signed, 36 cities — including Los Angeles and San Francisco — passed similar bans on mass breeding operations. Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade Supporters of the legislation include The Humane Society  and the  American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  (ASPCA). Both groups agree that the bill will ensure better treatment of animals, prevent unnecessary cruelty (which is prevalent among puppy mills) and promote more rescue adoptions. Not everyone is pleased with the development, however. Private pet store owners fear the puppy mill ban will hurt business and “limit consumer access to the most popular breeds,” reports Today . Animal rights activists argue that animal welfare is the number one priority and that the new mandate is a “win” for voiceless, defenseless pets . Supporters of California’s new law hope it will inspire other states to pass similar legislation. After all, puppy mills — from which 99 percent of pet store puppies are sourced — are notorious for being inhumane and unsanitary. As DoSomething reports, female dogs are bred at every opportunity, which exhausts them and results in premature deaths. Plus, puppies sourced from the facilities oftentimes have bleeding or swollen paws, severe tooth decay, ear infections, dehydration , and lesions. These are but a few reasons puppy mills should be banned nationwide, and why animal lovers are celebrating California’s new law. Via Today , DoSomething Images via Pixabay

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As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

October 17, 2017 by  
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Thawing permafrost is set to radically alter the landscape of northern parts of the United States. Roads, homes, and infrastructure built atop permafrost can crack or collapse as it melts. And whole villages may have to relocate. Vladimir Romanovsky, University of Alaska in Fairbanks geophysics professor, told the BBC “by now there are 70 villages who really have to move because of thawing permafrost.” Permafrost covers almost 90 percent of Alaska – so if the thawing keeps up, people will have to leave their homes as building foundations and infrastructure collapse. Sewer and water lines buried in permafrost can also break as the frozen soil melts. Villages that depend on lakes for water can be hit as nearby permafrost thaws and a lateral drain happens. Related: Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change Some people are already seeing impacts. Materials engineer for Northern Region of the Alaska Department of Transportation Public Facilities Jeff Currey told the BBC, “We are seeing some increased maintenance on existing roads over permafrost. One of our maintenance superintendents recently told me his folks are having to patch settling areas on the highways he’s responsible for more frequently than they were 10 or 20 years ago.” United States Geological Survey research indicates that villages, such as Kivalina in the southwest part of the state, will have to move away within the coming decade. Romanovsky said it could cost around $200 million to move a 300-person village. And permafrost holds a large amount of carbon , which stands to be released into the air. Romanovsky said, “Theoretically if this carbon is released to the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 will be three times more than what is in there [in the atmosphere ] now.” And it would be difficult to refreeze permafrost in our lifetime. Via the BBC Images via Andrea Pokrzywinski on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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As the permafrost thaws, entire villages may be forced to move

BREAKING: Scotland bans fracking indefinitely

October 3, 2017 by  
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Go, Scotland! After hearing an overwhelming response from the public on the process of fracking , the country’s government put an “effective ban” on the controversial technique. Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, told MSPs that the practice “cannot and will not take place in Scotland .” Wheelhouse said there is little economic justification for fracking, and that the ban would deeply cut Scotland’s climate emissions. Over 65,000 people showed up to the public consultation on fracking; reportedly, 99 percent opposed the process. The energy minister said allowing fracking would cause “Long-lasting negative impacts on communities,” as well as impact Scotland’s public health and the environment. As a result, the moratorium which was put in place since 2015 would continue “indefinitely.” He said, ”The decision I am announcing today means that fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.” In 2015, the country banned fracking and underground coal gasification. This development followed a series of reports on the potential health, environmental and economic effects of allowing the technique. Once Wheelhouse saw that 99 percent of the public opposed fracking, he realized “there is no social licence for unconventional oil and gas to be taken forward at this time”. Related: Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill Environmentalists are celebrating the move. WWF Scotland official Sam Gardner said it was “excellent news.” He said, “the climate science is clear” that dirty fuels should be “left in the ground.” However, some are saying the move did not go far enough. Labour MSP Claudia Beamish, for instance, argued that the ministers were “merely extending” the existing moratorium which “could be overturned at any point at the whim of a minister.” The Scottish Green agrees that a permanent ban needs to be instated. Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said ministers should “go further than relying on planning powers” and “instead commit to passing a law to ban the fracking industry for good.” Not everyone is in favor of the move. Scottish Conservatives say Scotland will miss out on a “much-needed economic boost” and high-skilled jobs. Tory MSP Dean Lockhart commented that ministers had “ignored scientific and economic evidence to take a “short-sighted and economically damaging decision which is nothing more than a bid to appease the green elements of the pro-independence movement.” According to Wheelhouse, MSPs will be given a vote on the issue later this year before a final decision is made. The BBC reports that because only Conservatives oppose the ban, the vote is likely to be a formality and nothing more. Via BBC , The Guardian Images via  Claudia Beamish MSP , Pixabay,   Wikimedia Commons  and DepositPhotos

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BREAKING: Scotland bans fracking indefinitely

GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

October 3, 2017 by  
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General Motors , a symbol of 20th century automotive domination, has decided to embrace the “all-electric future” of the 21st century and beyond, declaring that someday in the near future, it will produce and sell only electric cars . “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s chief of global product development. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.” To accelerate into this future, GM announced two new electric car models, scheduled to be released next year, followed by an additional 18 all-electric models by 2023. General Motors is riding high as it shifts gear into electric; the car company was the third-largest in the world in 2016. Because of its immense size, the company would not yet commit to a specific year in which it would make the transition away from combustion engine cars. However, its recent actions speak as loud as its words. At a press event on Monday, GM revealed several concept designs for upcoming electric vehicles, including an SUV, a crossover, a non-traditional model which resembled a small, boxy bus, and Surus, a heavy-duty truck with two electric motors, powered by fuel cells. Related: Renault’s Trezor is the electric car of the future Though renowned already as a pioneer in the field, thanks in part to its Chevy Bolt, GM will face heavy traffic on the road ahead. Tesla , Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have all made various moves into the electric car industry, with more expected in the future. Ford, a fellow Big Three American automaker, announced on Monday, the same day as GM’s press event, that it will form an “Edison Group,” focused on the development of electric cars. “We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles,” said Sherif Marakby, head of electrification and autonomous vehicles at Ford. “We feel it’s important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing.” Via Washington Post Images via Car and Driver  and Wikipedia

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GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

October 3, 2017 by  
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General Motors , a symbol of 20th century automotive domination, has decided to embrace the “all-electric future” of the 21st century and beyond, declaring that someday in the near future, it will produce and sell only electric cars . “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s chief of global product development. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.” To accelerate into this future, GM announced two new electric car models, scheduled to be released next year, followed by an additional 18 all-electric models by 2023. General Motors is riding high as it shifts gear into electric; the car company was the third-largest in the world in 2016. Because of its immense size, the company would not yet commit to a specific year in which it would make the transition away from combustion engine cars. However, its recent actions speak as loud as its words. At a press event on Monday, GM revealed several concept designs for upcoming electric vehicles, including an SUV, a crossover, a non-traditional model which resembled a small, boxy bus, and Surus, a heavy-duty truck with two electric motors, powered by fuel cells. Related: Renault’s Trezor is the electric car of the future Though renowned already as a pioneer in the field, thanks in part to its Chevy Bolt, GM will face heavy traffic on the road ahead. Tesla , Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have all made various moves into the electric car industry, with more expected in the future. Ford, a fellow Big Three American automaker, announced on Monday, the same day as GM’s press event, that it will form an “Edison Group,” focused on the development of electric cars. “We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles,” said Sherif Marakby, head of electrification and autonomous vehicles at Ford. “We feel it’s important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing.” Via Washington Post Images via Car and Driver  and Wikipedia

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GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

Shipping-container development designed for Los Angeles’ homeless population

October 3, 2017 by  
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A Los Angeles neighborhood will soon be home to a new shipping container development created for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. Designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning , the Hope on Alvarado project will repurpose several, locally-sourced shipping containers as the building’s main construction material, hopefully creating an urban design model for affordable housing in densely-packed cities around the globe. Slated for a .44-acre site at 166 Alvarado Street in L.A.’s Westlake Neighborhood, the proposed design will offer 84 units made up of studio and one bedroom apartments for tenants that are in the process of getting off the streets. Multiple shipping containers , which will be sourced locally in Los Angeles, will be stacked together to create a single, four-story building centered around a courtyard. The strategic layout is geared to providing new residents with privacy and security, as well as fostering a strong sense of community. Related: London’s Marston Court transforms shipping containers into emergency housing for the homeless The individual apartments will be created by modifying the containers into units of 400-480 square feet. Doors and portions of the containers’ metal skin will be removed to be replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows, along with various interior fixtures and finishes. The development will also house the tenant support-services office on the street-level. Parking will be provided as well as ample bike-storage. Although still in the development stage, the Hope on Alvarado project will hopefully be the first in a series of Hope developments in the Los Angeles area. Both the architects and the developer, Aedis Real Estate Group , plan to continue building more shipping container developments in other cities in an attempt to create a model for sustainable, affordable housing options . + KTGY Architecture + Planning Images via KTGY Architecture + Planning

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Shipping-container development designed for Los Angeles’ homeless population

Why hydrogen fuel cells are a boon for the military

September 27, 2017 by  
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About a decade ago, the United States federal and state governments began experimenting with hydrogen fuel cells, said Stan Osserman, director of the Hawaii center for advanced transportation technologies. The push was driven by high oil prices at the time. As the prices tapered, however, the development kept going. “The prices have come down and the weight has come down on [hydrogren fuel] equipment,” said Osserman. “Lots of companies are realizing this is a good business case on its own.” 

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