Google will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2018

October 13, 2017 by  
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After 10 years as a carbon-neutral company, Google has announced that all of its data centers and offices will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy , mostly from solar and wind sources. The corporate giant made quick progress towards meeting their goal, which was set in 2016 and will be fulfilled by 2018. In its 2017 Environmental Report, Google, self-described as the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, declared that in making its big shift to clean energy, it had pioneered “new energy purchasing models that others can follow” and “helped drive wide-scale global adoption of clean energy.” “We believe Google can build tools to improve people’s lives while reducing our dependence on natural resources and fossil fuels,” said Google executive Urs Hölzle. Google’s rapid shift to clean energy is welcome not only for the influence it may have on other companies but also for its impact on Google’s energy consumption, which was estimated in 2015 to be as large as the city of San Francisco . In line with its sustainability focus, Google has also launched an initiative to add air quality sensors to Google Street View vehicles and plans to change its waste disposal systems to ensure that the company adds nothing to landfills. Half of Google’s 14 data centers have already reached that particular milestone. Related: Alphabet X to beam wireless service to Puerto Rico with a fleet of balloons Most of Google’s renewable energy is purchased from an outside provider. However, they are making important moves to provide some of their own in-house energy, including the company’s recent acquisition of the Tellenes wind farm in Norway. The 12-year deal to provide 100 percent of the energy produced will power Google’s data centers in Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland . Google expects to purchase power as soon as it is available, which is expected in fall 2017. Via Inverse Images via Wikimedia Commons   (1)  and Robbie Shade/Flickr

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Google will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2018

Virgin Hyperloop One: Richard Branson invests in Musk-inspired high-speed transportation

October 13, 2017 by  
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A Hyperloop project just got a huge boost from none other than business magnate Richard Branson . Hyperloop One will rebrand as Virgin Hyperloop One, as the Virgin Group invests in the high-speed transportation effort. The investment follows a July full-scale test , which co-founder Shervin Pishevar described as their Kitty Hawk moment. Virgin Hyperloop One seems set to take on the world with help from Branson. He said in a blog post Virgin has always “been known for disruption and investing in innovative companies” and that he visited their test site, DevLoop, near Las Vegas during the summer, and was impressed with the tests. He’s now investing in the effort, and will also sit on the company’s board of directors. Related: Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system Branson said during the second phase of testing, the Hyperloop team achieved a top speed of 192 miles per hour, and the longest test was 10.6 seconds. 436 meters, or around 1,430 feet, is the maximum distance traveled. The DevLoop tube length is 500 meters – around 1,640 feet – long, with a diameter of 3.3 meters, or around 11 feet. Hyperloop One said in their statement on the investment that the partnership “feels like a natural fit.” Their President of Engineering Josh Giegel once worked at Virgin Galactic. Branson said he invests in people, not simply technology . Hyperloop One said they already have projects afoot in the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands, and hope to accelerate commercialization with the help of the Virgin Group. Both Branson’s blog and Hyperloop One’s statement mentioned the importance of clean transportation technology – the Hyperloop mode of transportation will be all- electric and efficient. Even though the Virgin name is now attached to the project, Hyperloop One said Virgin won’t be the sole operator. Around the world, they’ll work with many different operators, chosen by customers. Via Virgin Group and Hyperloop One Images via Greg Rose/Virgin and Hyperloop One

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Virgin Hyperloop One: Richard Branson invests in Musk-inspired high-speed transportation

Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

July 3, 2017 by  
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Ireland is one signature away from banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . After the country’s House of Representatives, the Dáil Éireann, passed a fracking ban the end of May, Ireland’s Senate, the Seanad Éireann, followed suit the end of June. Now the bill just needs Irish President Michael Higgins’ signature before Ireland bids farewell to the controversial practice. “We’ve made history,” said Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin, who introduced the bill, after the vote. President Higgins is expected to sign the bill “in the coming days,” according to the Fine Gael Party . France, Bulgaria, and Germany are the only other European Union states to have banned the practice onshore so far. Related: Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels “Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland,” McLoughlin said in a statement. “If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water, and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.” According to The Irish Times, politicians across the political spectrum in Ireland supported the bill. A public consultation earlier in 2017 drew 8,000 submissions, with just one opposing the ban. Environmental activists touted the bill as protecting people, the environment, and water quality in the country. There are large shale deposits in multiple counties in Ireland such as Sligo and Leitrim, the counties McLoughlin represents. Irish communities will be safe from the negative impacts of fracking seen in towns and cities in the United States, according to McLoughlin, where states are beginning to consider fracking bans . Earlier this year Maryland joined Vermont and New York to ban fracking , and they were the first state with gas reserves to do so. Via The Irish Times and EcoWatch Images via Friends of the Earth Ireland and greensefa on Flickr

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Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

February 27, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy can generate enough power for entire countries–a fact Denmark can confirm. Last week on Wednesday, the nation met all of its power needs via wind energy , according to information from wind power trade organization WindEurope . The group said the energy Denmark produced from onshore and offshore wind was sufficient to power 10 million European Union (EU) households. Denmark produced 27 GWh via offshore wind and 70 gigawatt-hours (GWh) via onshore wind on February 23, according to WindEurope. This isn’t the first time wind power has achieved renewable energy feats in the country; 2015 saw several big days for wind energy. By the end of that year, 1,271 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind and 3,799 MW of onshore wind was installed in Denmark, amounting to a little over five gigawatts (GW) of wind energy. Related: Germany generated so much renewable energy last weekend electric prices went negative The industry did experience a slight slump in 2016, owing mainly to low winds. Before that year, Danish Wind Industry Association CEO Jan Hylleberg said since 2008 they’d “experienced continuous growth in the wind energy production and each year set a new world record.” Although the industry expected the trend wouldn’t continue in 2016, Hylleberg said the fact they didn’t maintain that upward movement was frustrating, but it appears 2017 is off to a soaring start. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind ‘s new nine MW wind turbine already smashed the record for energy generation in a 24 hour period during testing at a test field off Denmark’s coast. Hylleberg described Denmark as world champions at harnessing wind. But the Nordic country wasn’t the only nation to obtain a large amount of power via wind energy last week. WindEurope also reported Germany and Ireland respectively met 52 and 42 percent of their electricity needs with wind. According to the organization, “Wind power in the EU as a whole covered almost 19 percent of the bloc’s electricity needs.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels

January 26, 2017 by  
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In a historic move, Ireland may become the world’s first country to fully divest from all fossil fuels , according to 350.org’s Fossil Free Europe . The country’s parliament just passed “first-of-its-kind fossil fuel divestment legislation” with a majority vote. The historic bill could enable Ireland to fully divest their sovereign wealth fund, which is worth more than 8 billion Euros or around $8.5 billion, from oil, gas, and coal. Fossil Free Europe and Trócaire reported today that the bill passed in the Irish parliament’s lower house, the Dáil. Fossil Free Europe described the event as “an important moment in the history of the divestment movement.” Related: Sydney plans to divest $500 million from fossil fuels Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said in a statement, “The Irish political system is now finally acknowledging what the overwhelming majority of people already know: that to have a fighting chance to combat catastrophic climate change we must phase out fossil fuels and stop the growth of the industry that is driving this crisis.” The bill is now headed for the committee stage, according to Trócaire and Fossil Free Europe, who noted last week all major political parties support it, except the Fine Gael political party.. Meehan thinks the move could send a powerful message to the rest of the world, as a climate change denier takes control of the White House, and said, “The support of a majority in the Dáil for this bill is an incredibly important moment for the climate justice movement in Ireland and will inspire other countries to follow our lead.” A few years ago Norway’s sovereign wealth fund also made a move to divest from some fossil fuel companies, but not all; according to EcoWatch they still had billions in other fossil fuel companies. Via Fossil Free Europe and Trócaire Images via Justin Pickard on Flickr and Fossil Free Facebook

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The Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 full-time, permanent jobs

January 26, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump seems to think the words ‘create jobs ‘ grant him the ability to forgo any fact-checking. He’s said he supports the Keystone XL pipeline because it would create 28,000 jobs , but it turns out the controversial project would generate a mere 35 full-time, permanent jobs. Trump’s mysterious 28,000 number doesn’t originate in TransCanada’s government application or the State Department’s years-long study of the pipeline, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Instead, they say the pipeline would create 35 full-time, permanent jobs, and maybe 15 temporary contractor positions. Back in 2014 the State Department provided that 35-job figure in their 11-page report. The pipeline would also create 3,900 “person years of employment.” Related: Trump signs executive actions to reinstate Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline Let’s dig into that “person years of employment” figure. According to the NRDC, that number means there’s enough pipeline construction work for 3,900 people to work full-time for one year. But since the pipeline could take two years, the NRDC said “a more realistic way to view this number is 1,950 full-time construction jobs lasting for the two year timeline of the project’s construction.” Those jobs could benefit thousands of people, but the figure isn’t even close to 28,000 jobs. The 35 full-time positions would work in TransCanada’s Nebraska office and monitor day to day operations for the pipeline. The reasons against the pipeline that led to President Barack Obama’s rejection still hold true today. According to NRDC, “It’s an environmental disaster waiting to happen, a climate-wrecking project with no place in today’s energy mix, and it’s not in America’s national interest.” They said the pipeline will benefit Canadian oil companies far more than the American economy. If Trump actually wants to create jobs instead of just blathering about it, he should take a closer look at renewable energy – the growing industry could add not 28,000, but millions of jobs . Via Natural Resources Defense Council Images via Wikimedia Commons and NRDC pix on Flickr

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The Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 full-time, permanent jobs

Snails defeat Trump: Irish seawall scrapped

December 7, 2016 by  
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Snails accomplished what 16 Republican primary opponents and Hillary Clinton could not: defeat Donald Trump . The US president-elect just withdrew plans to build a massive seawall that would protect his Irish golf resort from rising sea levels caused by the climate change that he previously said is a Chinese hoax . Environmental activists opposed the development that would have extended 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers) on Doughmore Beach in the Atlantic Coast village of Doonbeg, claiming that construction of the 15-foot limestone wall would have destroyed the EU-protected Carrowmore Dunes sand dune habitat that is home to the rare prehistoric snail, vertigo anguistor. California-based environmental organization Save the Waves Coalition worked with Irish and European environmental and surfing groups to defeat the wall through the #NatureTrumpsWall campaign, gathering more than 10,000 petition signatures from around the world. Related: Climate denier Donald Trump’s favorite Florida estate is being swallowed by the sea Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg management has reportedly proposed a scaled back barrier for submittal to Clare County Council that would extend to about 600 meters at the south of the beach and 250 meters at the north of the beach. “Trump’s decision to walk away from the seawall proposal is a huge milestone for the #NatureTrumpsWalls campaign and we are very excited by this decision,” Nick Mucha, Save the Waves director of programs said in a statement. “We are proud to have brought worldwide attention to this issue and save Doughmore Beach from their ill-conceived proposal. Our work continues as they consider scaled back measures, but we are excited to spare Doughmore Beach of the monstrous seawall proposal.” While Trump has recently waffled on his past statements denying the human connection to climate change and promising to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, the documents submitted for the seawall in May were quite clear about the impact of climate change, stating that “rising sea levels and increased storm frequency and wave energy associated with global warming can increase the rate of erosion.” Via Save the Waves Coalition Lead image via Wikimedia , other image via Wikimedia

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Everything we thought we knew about the moon’s origins is probably wrong

September 20, 2016 by  
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Everything we thought we knew about the moon’s origins is probably wrong, according to a new study written by two Harvard scientists. The leading theory since the 1970’s suggests a Mars-sized object scratched Earth in a ” giant impact event ,” leading to the moon . But new analysis of moon rocks reveals the collision that led to the moon was likely far more violent than we thought, which could offer insight into what the solar system was like long ago. Kun Wang and Stein B. Jacobsen, who are both affiliated with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard , scrutinized ” old Apollo samples from the ’70’s ” with better technology than was available 40 or more years ago. They found elements that couldn’t fully be explained by the old theory, including ” heavy isotopes of potassium .” The process to separate out those potassium isotopes would have needed super hot temperatures. Those temperatures could have resulted after a very violent collision. Related: The Moon was created when young Earth collided with another planet, says new study Wang told Gizmodo, “We need a much, much bigger impact to form a moon according to our study. The giant impact itself should be called extremely giant impact. The amount of energy required isn’t even close.” Instead of the Mars-sized object scraping Earth, the collision would have been more akin to a “sledgehammer hitting a watermelon.” The collision was so hot and forceful that the scientists think some of Earth actually vaporized. When the vapor cooled, it condensed into our moon. Nature published their study online this week. The new information about the moon’s origins led the scientists to think long ago, the solar system could have been a lot more violent and volatile. They think the moon rocks could hold more secrets about the ” early solar system ” and plan to keep probing the samples for more thrilling hints about the past. Via Gizmodo Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Everything we thought we knew about the moon’s origins is probably wrong

2,000-year-old butter found in Irish bog is still edible

June 20, 2016 by  
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Long before the invention of refrigerators, ancient people found creative ways to keep their dairy products fresh. In parts of Ireland and Scotland , that sometimes involved burying mounds of butter in local bogs, where the low temperature, high acidity, and minimal oxygen would provide safe, long-term storage. One such piece of “bog butter” was recovered recently from Ireland’s Emlagh Bog. It weighs a massive 10 kilos (22 pounds) and it’s estimated to be over 2,000 years old – yet it appears to still technically be edible (although scientists advise against trying it). The remarkable find was made by turf cutter Jack Conaway while he was cutting peat for fuel. Conaway discovered the butter 12 feet down and immediately contacted the Cavan County Museum about his find, which is now housing the bog butter in its Conservation Department. According to the Museum, butter was once a luxury product, used in medieval times to pay taxes and rents. This particular lump of butter, however, lacks any kind of protective covering and was likely never intended to be dug up and used, leading researchers to suspect it was left as an offering to the gods. Related: Massive 1,000 LB Butter Sculpture Will Power Pennsylvania Farm for Three Days Surprisingly, this isn’t the biggest or oldest lump of bog butter to be recovered in Ireland. In 2013, another turf cutter found a massive container containing 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of butter that dated back 5,000 years. + Cavan County Museum Via Epoch Times Images via Cavan County Museum

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This tiny Irish pub on wheels wins St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2016 by  
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