Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

March 28, 2017 by  
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Don’t count on Scott Pruitt , head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , to do much environmental protecting. Weeks after rejecting scientific consensus about the role of carbon dioxide in driving global warming, the nation’s top environmental official doubled down on Sunday by describing a landmark accord to curb the planet’s industrial emissions as a “bad deal” for the United States. “You know, what was wrong with Paris was not just that it was, you know, failed to be treated as a treaty, but China and India, the largest producers of CO2 internationally, got away scot-free. They didn’t have to take steps until 2030,” Pruitt said in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos. “So we’ve penalized ourselves through lost jobs while China and India didn’t take steps to address the issue internationally. So Paris was just a bad deal, in my estimation.” There’s plenty to nitpick about Pruitt’s stance, which mischaracterizes the positions of China and India, both of which officially ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change in late 2016. For one thing, China is the world’s No. 1 polluter, but India comes in fourth after the United States and European Union. Neither does the 2030 cutoff give China or India special latitude. All 197 countries that have committed themselves to the pact are legally bound to develop plans to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions through 2025 or 2030. And while there’s no legal requirement that specifies how much countries should cut, they must report every two years on their efforts to mitigate emissions levels, which are subject to technical and peer review. Related: EPA chief says carbon dioxide is not a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming Far from getting away “scot-free,” China and India are making inroads in their energy policies. Although it continues to be bogged down by inefficient coal power plants that contribute to its infamous smog, China has been expanding its renewable-energy capacity at a breakneck pace. Even as President Donald Trump decried climate change as a “Chinese hoax” , the Chinese government announced that it intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, slashing carbon emissions and creating over 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector in the same time frame. India, in the meantime, has pledged to obtain at least 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. To nudge itself closer to that goal, the South Asian nation is planning 33 solar parks in 21 states, with a capacity of at least 500 megawatts each—no mean feat for a country where millions still have no access to electricity . Indeed India currently houses the world’s largest solar power plant in a single location , a title once held by Topaz Solar Farm in California. For anyone who has been paying attention, however, Pruitt’s statements shouldn’t be too surprising. The former attorney general of Oklahoma has long boasted close ties to the oil and gas industry. He also sued the EPA—the very same agency he now heads—a stunning 14 times , frequently in tandem with companies that donated money to campaigns he was affiliated to. Related: New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties Pruitt noted on Sunday that President Trump will soon be signing a new executive order that will halt the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan , an Obama administration policy designed to, among other things, rein in America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030. “With respect to this executive order that’s coming out on Tuesday, this is about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country,” Pruitt said. Pro-growth? Debatable. Pro-environment? Not a chance. + ABC News Via Huffington Post Photos from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

Trump’s new executive order to undo Obama climate action

March 28, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s onslaught on the environment continues. He is set to sign a new executive order today that would undo the Clean Power Plan and slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by one third. The White House claimed this move will boost job creation even as clean energy jobs swiftly outpace fossil fuel jobs . Trump could cancel some of Barack Obama’s actions on climate change with his executive order, which could tell federal regulators to rewrite rules aimed at curbing carbon emissions and lift a federal coal leasing moratorium. Trump has claimed some of these rules, which have placed restrictions on the fossil fuel industry, hurt the economy, and the White House said his steps would “help keep energy and electricity affordable, reliable, and clean in order to boost economic growth and job creation.” Never mind that renewable energy prices have been falling , or that burning fossil fuels pumps greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Related: Trump to purge climate change from federal government The Washington Post quoted an anonymous senior administration official who spoke to reporters on Monday and said, “This policy is in keeping with President Trump’s desire to make the United States energy independent . When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion.” Will the executive order create jobs ? Trump supporters say yes, as the order would liberate oil and gas industries. Opponents say the new jobs will be for lawyers, according to the BBC, as some environmental organizations have announced their intention to sue. But one person the BBC referred to as a green source said the Trump administration wants delay; lawsuits could give the Trump administration what it wants. The executive order doesn’t address the 2015 Paris climate agreement . Via the BBC and The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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Trump’s new executive order to undo Obama climate action

Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in most US states

March 28, 2017 by  
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Clean energy is increasingly providing work for people across the United States, contrary to what the president might think, and a new Sierra Club report reveals just how much of an impact on the economy it has made. Renewable energy jobs now exceed jobs in coal, oil, and gas in 41 American states and Washington, D.C., according to the report. Sierra Club drew on 2017 Department of Energy jobs data to discover clean energy jobs exceed those in fossil fuels by more than 2.5 to one. The energy jobs of the future, including those in wind , solar , energy efficiency , battery storage , and smart grid technology, already exceed coal, oil, and gas jobs nationally, including positions in extraction, mining, and power generation. According to Sierra Club’s analysis, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by over 2.5 to one, and exceed gas and coal jobs by five to one. While only nine states have more fossil fuel than clean energy jobs, just six states have more jobs in coal and gas, according to the report. Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. In a statement Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, “Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day. These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.” If Trump really wants to increase jobs as he claims – and not just fill the pockets of his fossil fuel friends – he should look no further than renewable energy. The report concludes policies to invest in and incentivize clean energy could generate millions of new jobs across America, more than could be created in the fossil fuel sector. Sierra Club also said the clean energy transition should benefit everyone; this means putting first communities and workers who depended on fossil fuels in the past. You can read the full report here . Via Sierra Club ( 1 , 2 ) Images via U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr and Walmart on Flickr

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Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in most US states

Scientists turn spinach into human heart tissue

March 28, 2017 by  
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Popeye was right: spinach really is good for the muscles, and not just the ones in your biceps. In fact, scientists have discovered a way to use the leafy stuff, which has a vascular system not dissimilar to ours, to grow layers of working heart muscle, according to a paper published this month in the journal Biomaterials . The new technique, a collaboration between Worcester Polytechnic Institute , the University of Wisconsin-Madison , and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro , marks a breakthrough in the field of human tissue regeneration, which has hitherto been stymied by scale. To wit, although current bioengineering methods can recreate cellular scaffolding on a large scope, fabricating branching networks of tiny blood vessels has proven far trickier. But then scientists noticed that plants and animals evolved parallel means of distributing water and nutrients to their respective cells. “Plants and animals exploit fundamentally different approaches to transporting fluids, chemicals, and macromolecules, yet there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structures,” the authors wrote. “The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between plant and animal.” To test their theory, the researchers stripped a bunch of spinach leaves of their cells, leaving behind a network of cellulose. They then seeded the spinach veins with beating human-heart cells. With the leaf fully networked, the team pumped fluids and microbeads through their pint-size proto-heart, mimicking the flow of human cells through our own arterial system. Related: Engineers build artificial muscles from onion skin and gold So far, so successful. “We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising,” said Glenn Gaudette, professor of biomedical engineering at WPI and corresponding author of the paper. And it’s not just spinach that’s up for the job. Other decellularized plants could help deliver oxygen to damaged tissue in victims of heart attacks or other kinds of cardiac trauma. Even better, bioengineers could tweak different plant species to repair a range of tissues in the body. Spinach might work best for highly vascularized cardiac tissue, for instance, but the cylindrical hollow structure of something like jewelweed might be more appropriate for an arterial graft. Similarly, the vascular columns of wood could one day play a role in healing human bones. “Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field,” Gaudette added. + Worchester Polytechnic Institute Via National Geographic

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Scientists turn spinach into human heart tissue

Insider says Trump could pull America out of Paris deal within days

January 31, 2017 by  
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For months President Donald Trump has blustered about yanking the United States out of the Paris climate agreement ; now Myron Ebell , who led the Environmental Protection Agency transition team, said the new president could pull America out of the historic, hard-fought deal within days. Ebell, a climate change denier, said he expects Trump will be “very assiduous in keeping his promises, despite all of the flack he is going to get from his opponents.” Speaking at a London briefing, Ebell said Trump could pull out of the Paris agreement “by executive order tomorrow, or he could wait and do it as part of a larger package. There are multiple ways and I have no idea of the timing.” He also claimed the United States will “clearly change its course on climate policy ” and that Trump is “pretty clear that the problem or the crisis has been overblown and overstated.” Related: Majority of Americans support Paris climate deal as Trump reconsiders pulling out Two weeks after his election, Trump indicated he had an “open mind” about the Paris agreement. He also said there was “some connectivity” when asked about the relationship between climate change and humans. But he hasn’t yet come out in support of the Paris agreement, or taken a stronger stance on climate change. The president’s Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson said America might be better off staying in the agreement at his confirmation hearing: “I think it’s 190 countries have signed on. We’re better served by being at that table than by leaving that table.” Will Trump listen to his cabinet pick? Ebell doesn’t seem to think so. He said of Trump, “His mandate is pretty clear, and he knows who he got it from. If Rex Tillerson disagrees with the President, who is going to win that debate? Well I don’t know but the President was elected and Rex Tillerson was appointed by the President, so I would guess that the President would be the odds-on favorite to win any disagreement over climate policy.” Via The Independent Images via Jim Mattis on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Insider says Trump could pull America out of Paris deal within days

Beautiful beechwood envelope filters light into modern Italian BIO winery

January 31, 2017 by  
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Inspired by the agricultural architecture of the country’s Veneto region, design studio MADE Associati Architetti restored an existing building in Italy and designed new facilities for a modern winery focused on organic production. The new BIO Winery in Treviso is housed in a continuous, horizontal volume clad in beechwood . The new winery enlarges an existing single-story building, introducing a new volume alongside it to create a compact campus. The main circulation route, visible through the glass connections between the buildings, provides views of the different stages of production and leads to the tasting and meeting rooms. Related: Extraordinary Red Hill rammed-earth residence’s funky funnel shape helps direct light The architects enveloped the existing structure and addition with a skin made from vertical wooden planks. Locally-sourced beechwood has been used as cladding material that dominates both the interior and exterior of the building. The use of this endemic, sustainably harvested species promotes natural products and helps protect the region’s biodiversity. + MADE Associati Architetti Via Archdaily Photos by Francesco Galifi , Adriano Marangon

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Beautiful beechwood envelope filters light into modern Italian BIO winery

Historic Paris climate deal on track to activate before year’s end

September 23, 2016 by  
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This week, the global climate agreement designed last December has reached a crucial milestone after 31 countries ratified the accord at the United Nation’s General Assembly meeting on Wednesday. The new signers bring the total number of participating countries to 60. The Paris climate deal required participation from at least 55 countries representing 55 of global greenhouse gas emissions in order to activate the accord. Although the number of countries surpasses the requirement, only around 48 percent of emissions are represented. Even so, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has predicted the accord will go into full effect before the end of this year. Embed from Getty Images Among the nations ratifying the agreement this week are some heavy hitters in terms of emissions contributions, such as Brazil, the world’s seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Mexico, Argentina, Sri Lanka, and United Arab Emirates also ratified the accord, which aims to cap global temperature rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels. With a total of 60 countries now on board, 47.7 percent of global emissions are represented, just points away from the 55 percent activation target. Related: 5 things the Paris climate deal must do to slow global warming During the annual UN General Assembly meeting this week in New York, video messages from a number of countries relayed promises to ratify the agreement in the coming months, including Germany, France, the EU, Canada, Australia and South Korea. If even a few of those promises are fulfilled, the participants will exceed the 55-percent emissions threshold and the terms of the accord will officially go into effect. When the agreement was drawn up last winter, 195 nations signed off and agreed to lower emissions in order to slow the effects of climate change . Each nation set forth the process of ratifying the historic international deal, which is the first of its kind. As temperatures and sea levels continue to rise around the globe, many are urging that there is no time for delay. “The problem we continue to confront is growing,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry. “Each day the planet is on this course, it becomes more dangerous. Via The Guardian Lead image via Unsplash

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Historic Paris climate deal on track to activate before year’s end

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