Shell oil just unveiled a plan to move the world away from fossil fuels

March 27, 2018 by  
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Royal Dutch Shell just laid out a proposal to move us away from its own product. The company’s Sky Scenario is a plan to help the world meet the goals set forth in the Paris climate agreement . The plan would shift people away from oil and towards hydrogen and electric transportation in order to keep global warming under the 2 degree limit that most scientists think is the tipping point for climate change . As weird as it is for an oil company to suggest moving away from fossil fuels, Shell is putting its money where its mouth is. Last October, the company purchased an electric car charging company, a major natural gas company, and it’s working on carbon capture and storage technology through its Quest and Gorgon projects. Related: BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change Shell’s Sky scenario details a way in which the world can shift from oil to other technologies by 2070. The proposal suggests addressing growing global energy needs by moving to clean electricity like solar and wind, replacing gas guzzlers with electric vehicles – particularly semi-trucks – and focusing on fuels like biofuel and hydrogen. “The relevant transformations in the energy and natural systems require concurrent climate policy action and the deployment of disruptive new technologies at mass scale within government policy environments that strongly incentivize investment and innovation,” the company said. Via The Washington Post Images via Shell and Deposit Photos

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"We are not prepared" for climate changescientists issue bleak warning

February 16, 2018 by  
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Researchers have determined that countries around the world are failing to fulfill their greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement , inevitably subjecting the world to unpredictable extreme weather. In a study published in the  journal  Science   Advances ,  scientists concluded that extreme weather, such as drought, flooding, or heat waves, will increase across 90 percent of North America, Europe and East Asia if countries maintain their current pace of climate action. “We are not prepared for today’s climate, let alone for another degree of global warming ,” study author Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford University professor of earth system science, told Time . The Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperature rise below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with an ideal goal of less than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. That extra 0.9 degrees will make a significant difference in how extreme weather manifests in the coming decades. The study documents the specific differences built into that temperature divergence, including the number of record warm or wet days. Following an extraordinary hurricane season in North America and a year that was once again dubbed the hottest on record, the urgency to address this challenge is clearer than ever. Related: Trump budget proposes huge cut to EPA and climate research Unfortunately, the Paris Agreement has a math problem. Each country in the agreement was encouraged to create their own pledges individually tailored to their political and economic situations. Though the goal remains less than 3.6 degrees of warming, the cumulative impact of all these pledges, if they were all fulfilled, would still result in a global temperature of 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the modest pledges made in the agreement are proving difficult to achieve. Some countries, most prominently the United States , have expressed interest in ignoring the consequences of climate change and are actively encouraging the growth of fossil fuels . In the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb while the weather gets weirder. Via Time Images via Depositphotos (1)

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300 artificial islands in Dubai, ‘The World,’ may get another chance

February 16, 2018 by  
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The World , an archipelago of 300 islands in Dubai , has sat largely vacant for around 10 years. But construction is underway once again. The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright reported , “After a decade in limbo, The World is back – with more ambitious plans than ever before.” The World was dreamed up in 2003, with Nakheel as the master developer, and 320 million cubic meters of sand and 25 million metric tons of rock were put into place, according to The Guardian. Workers laid the last rock in the breakwater in January 2008. The development sprawls across over 5,000 hectares and stands, in the words of Wainwright, as a “mind-boggling monument to the spectacular hubris of a moment in time when anything seemed possible.” Related: Dubai’s World of Islands is Sinking Into the Sea But construction is beginning again. Josef Kleindienst, of real estate company Kleindienst , talked to The Guardian about his plans for The Heart of Europe , saying he wants to make it snow there throughout the entire year. The Kleindienst website describes The Heart of Europe as “a first of its kind, breathtaking hospitality development, spanning six of the islands on The World in Dubai, with each island taking inspiration from some of Europe’s most captivating locations.” Swiss chalets, Austrian castles, and Russian palaces are among the plans. Kleindienst told The Guardian the development will be finished in time for Expo 2020 in Dubai. Other island owners seem to have been inspired by Kleindienst, according to The Guardian. Emirati developer Seven Tides aims to finish a 100-villa resort on one of the 10 islands they own in the South America portion by the end of this year. And actress Lindsay Lohan said she’s designing an island in The World. It remains to be seen whether or not the projects will ultimately come to life. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 ) and The Heart of Europe

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Green-roofed house blends beautifully into a Mediterranean landscape

February 16, 2018 by  
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Giuseppe Gurrieri Studio completed a beautiful new home for artists in Sicily complements its Mediterranean environment using natural materials and landscaping. The home, called Casa ECS, was also created with a major focus on sustainability. Powered by renewable energy, the building is topped with a green roof and built with thick earthen walls that ensure effective insulation. . Located in the town of Scicli, the 230-square-meter Casa ECS is set atop a series of terraces that gently cascade down towards the Mediterranean Sea. Olive and carbon trees grow atop the dry stone retaining walls that visually tie the structure into the landscape. Solar and wind studies informed the placement of the building for the optimization of natural daylighting and ventilation. The large roof overhang shields the interior from solar heat gain and a pool on the south side of the home also helps cool the home. The architects wrote: “The central idea focuses on the construction of a retaining wall covered with the local stone, reproducing the typical receding terrace, which generates a natural step that allowed to plan the insertion of the building into the environment, creating a noticeable continuity with the country-side view and the traditionally cultivated land.” Related: Charming Italian farmhouse hides a surprisingly modern interior in Tuscany The main living areas are arranged linearly, while two courtyards are placed to the north of the main structure. The master en suite is located in the center of the home and separates the living room on the home’s east end from the kitchen on the opposite side that also extends to a covered outdoor dining area to the north. A secondary bedroom is placed on the far west end. The use of simple natural materials throughout ties the building into the landscape. + Giuseppe Gurrieri Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Filippo Poli

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Green-roofed house blends beautifully into a Mediterranean landscape

Dreamy cabin is the perfect lakeside escape for large families

February 16, 2018 by  
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Montreal-based YH2 Architecture has given the traditional lakeside cottage a modern refresh in Window on the Lake, a minimalist timber cabin that derives its name from its stunning glazed end wall. Located just steps away from the shores of Lac Plaisant in Quebec’s Mauricie region, the gabled dwelling features a clean and minimalist design so as not to detract from its surroundings. The spacious family cottage sleeps up to 12 across two floors. Built of timber inside and out, Window on the Lake was designed to “capture the essence of cottage life” by creating a sense of warmth and connection with nature. The gabled building is clad entirely in white cedar that will develop a patina as it weathers over time. “The balloon frame, with its exposed wooden studs and joists painted white, gives the building a unique rhythm of shadow and light,” wrote the architects. “This is the cottage as an expression of the art of living: a gentle, simple, pure way of life.” Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact The south facade closest to the lake is fully transparent to provide the open-plan living area with stunning lake views. The glazed gabled wall lets in sunlight and warmth during the cold months, while an extended roof overhang and mature trees mitigate solar heat gain in summer. Three large vertically oriented glazed panels punctuate the east and west facades to strengthen the connection with nature throughout the home. The cottage also includes two ground-floor bedrooms and a large, open sleeping area on the second floor. + YH2 Architecture Photo credit: Francis Pelletier

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

November 7, 2017 by  
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Today the war-torn country of Syria officially signed the Paris Climate Agreement , leaving the United States as the only country to refuse the landmark climate deal. Though Barack Obama entered the US into the deal during his time as president, Donald Trump quickly withdrew the nation after his inauguration. The Middle East nation made the announcement in Bonn, Germany, at the COP 23 UN climate summit. Even though Syria is facing its sixth year of a brutal civil conflict, it agreed to limit its carbon emissions in an effort to prevent climate change from worsening. It’s not clear what has changed, and Syria has yet to submit its targets for cutting greenhouse gases . In December 2015, nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Accord . Until last month, Nicaragua was also a holdout nation. However, that was because the Central American country did not think the deal went far enough in putting limits on emissions and helping lower-income nations adapt to an already-changing planet. One of Nicaragua’s complaints was that top polluters — like the US, EU, China, and India — were not keeping their emissions levels low enough to prevent sea levels from rising and global warming under 2 degrees Celsius — let alone the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Eventually, parties to the deal signed – as the global climate change agreement was better than none at all. Now the US is the last country to sign. In the past, President Trump said that American workers (particularly coal miners) were being put at an “economic disadvantage” by the deal. And even though the US is the second largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the world (second to China ), Trump remains committed to the idea that investing in coal — not renewable energy — is the way forward. Related: Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” Paula Caballero , director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute, told the New York Times . “The US’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change .” The countries that have signed the Paris Agreement now seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Via The Independent , The Verge , BBC Images via Pixabay

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere hit a record high in 2016

October 30, 2017 by  
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2016 was a year for breaking records — and not all of them were good. Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest month in the modern temperature record – and a new report shows that CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere hit their highest point in 800,000 years. “The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent,” said the report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Every year, the Geneva-based organization compiles data for its annual greenhouse gas report. While reviewing 2016’s data, it cited a combination of “human activities” and “a strong El Niño event” as the reasons why CO2 levels increased so abruptly. CNN reports that the last time Earth experienced similar levels of concentrated CO2 in the atmosphere was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and the sea level was 10-20 meters higher than it is now. “Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions , we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet.” In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement , which outlines specific emissions targets each nation must meet to prevent climate change from worsening. The United States, under President Donald Trump’s leadership, is the only developed nation that hasn’t agreed to join the Paris accord. As a result, some US states have joined together and set their own emissions goals that are in line with the Paris treaty. Related: The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut In October, the UN Environment Programme will release a separate Emissions Gap Report. This report keeps track of the policy commitments each country has made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also analyzes how present policies will meet 2030 goals. “The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed,” said Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme. “The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy , but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive. We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.” + World Meteorological Organization Via CNN Images via Pexels, Pixabay

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Trump may reverse decision on the Paris climate accord, says French President Macron

July 17, 2017 by  
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When President Trump announced plans to exit the Paris Climate Agreement , the decision drew criticism from US states and nations around the world. Now, it seems the president may be having second thoughts – according to French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump may reverse his previous decision. One of President Trump’s complaints against the Paris accord is that it is “soft” on leading polluters, such as China and India. As a result, Trump perceived it to be a threat to U.S. industry, reports Reuters . The weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) says President Macron is now hopeful the U.S. President will change his mind, however. “(Trump) told me that he would try to find a solution in the coming months,” said Macron, referring to the meetings the two leaders had this past week. We spoke in detail about the things that could make him come back to the Paris accord,” he added. Trump has repeatedly stated that is he is “open to a better deal for the United States ,” therefore he isn’t ruling out all options. Related: Stephen Hawking says Trump’s Paris decision could induce irreversible climate change Only a handful of countries around the world have refused to partake in the Paris Climate Agreement. Otherwise, over 200 nations have agreed to limit global warming by 2 degrees by the year 2100, mainly through pledges to cut carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels . Costa Rica is one nation proving it is possible to thrive on renewable energy. In 2015, the tropical country relied on hydropower, geothermal plants, solar and wind to obtain 99 percent of its electricity . Germany, as well, recently generated 85 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Clearly, the future is green. The question now is, will the United States recognize this and re-commit itself to preserving the environment? Via Reuters Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Commons

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ExxonMobil exhorts White House to keep Paris agreement

March 31, 2017 by  
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When a fossil fuel company under fire for covering up past knowledge of climate change exhorts the President of the United States to stay in the 2015 Paris agreement , something’s not quite right. ExxonMobil manager of environmental policy and planning Peter Trelenberg wrote a letter to the White House earlier this month reiterating ExxonMobil’s position on the deal. He made it clear ExxonMobil thinks President Donald Trump should not pull out of the historic, hard-fought agreement. On the campaign trail Trump promised to yank the United States out of the Paris agreement. But so far the White House hasn’t taken that step, even in a recent environmentally devastating executive order . Meanwhile Trump’s new Secretary of State, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson , has said in the past the president is wrong about climate change , and perhaps could have now persuaded Trump to stick with the deal. Related: Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says Trump is wrong about climate change On March 22, Trelenberg wrote to G. David Banks, Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment, thanking Banks for a recent inquiry on the oil and gas giant’s views regarding the agreement. Trelenberg said ExxonMobil welcomed the agreement both in December 2015, when it was announced at COP21 , and in November 2016 when it went into force. Don’t get too excited – Trelenberg didn’t write off fossil fuels altogether. He said, “We believe that the United States is well positioned to compete within the framework of the Paris Agreement, with abundant low-carbon resources such as natural gas , and innovative private industries, including the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.” Trelenberg said natural gas is the “cleanest-burning and least carbon-intensive fossil fuel” that has helped American attain 20-year lows in carbon dioxide emissions . He did point out ExxonMobil has invested $7 billion in lower emission fuels – such as biofuels made from algae – for around 15 years, and ended his letter with a final call to stay in the Paris agreement. The irony of the ExxonMobil letter prompted Senator Bernie Sanders to tweet : “It is pathetic that the largest oil company in the world understands more about climate change than the president of the United States.” Via The Independent Images via Roy Luck on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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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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