The climate is changing. How are central banks responding?

September 10, 2021 by  
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From the Bank of England to the People’s Bank of China, monetary authorities of the world’s largest economies are gauging how climate change could rock the financial system.

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The climate is changing. How are central banks responding?

Tennessee floods represent worldwide climate crisis

August 26, 2021 by  
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At least 21 people have been reported dead and more still missing following heavy flash floods in Tennessee . The floods occurred last weekend as a result of a heavy downpour in Middle Tennessee. Some parts of the state witnessed up to 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. As a result, streets turned into rivers, leading to massive property destruction and loss of lives. The floods witnessed over the weekend were the second major flooding event in the state this year alone. Early in the year, torrential floods in Nashville killed at least four people. As is the case with this latest flooding, property damage also occurred. Related: Will Lagos be submerged by 2100? The extreme weather events witnessed in Tennessee are not isolated. For a long time, scientists have been raising alarms over the effects of climate change. In recent years, the cost of climate change has started manifesting in an unprecedented manner. Flash floods, famine, and forest fires have become the order of the day in many parts of the world.  As Earth warms up, more people are at risk of flash floods. Hot air holds more moisture and dries out the soil , making it less absorbent. When torrential rainfall happens in such an environment, the result is flash floods. The water overwhelms dams and pipes and can destroy other drainage infrastructure systems. These flash floods aren’t limited to Tennessee. This summer, about 180 people were killed in flash floods in Germany and Belgium. In central China, 25 people were reported dead after being trapped by rising water. In western India, over 100 people died following a landslide after heavy rains. These events have cumulatively claimed over 300 lives in less than a year.  Global leaders have been reluctant to adopt critical measures to prevent global warming. The  Paris Climate Accord  of 2015 required the world to keep global warming from rising over 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Failure to achieve this would cause irreversible environmental damage. Scientists predict this would mean more diseases, severe weather events and loss of lives.  Currently, the situation does not seem to be getting better. Early this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) released data showing that  July 2021 was the hottest month in history . Via NPR Lead image via Pixabay

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Tennessee floods represent worldwide climate crisis

Extinction Rebellion protests take over London

August 24, 2021 by  
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On Monday, Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors blocked a busy junction in Covent Garden, London during their first day of protests. Participants chained themselves together to block a roundabout at Long Acre. A van joined at the junction with a 4-meter-high pink table featuring the slogan “Come to the table.” As XR plans a fortnight of protests in London , this slogan represents their call to bring everyone to the table to discuss the climate crisis. Related: Extinction Rebellion LA protests climate change by supergluing themselves to Universal Globe In a statement, XR explained, “As floods, fire , and famine break out around the world, it is clear that climate breakdown is here now, and there is no choice left now but to take urgent action. Everyone deserves a seat at the table to have a say in how to tackle the greatest crisis of our times.” Protesters remained at the junction until 7 p.m. when the police began arresting participants. The police showed up with an order signed by Superintendent Wayne Matthews, who claimed the gathering “may result in serious disruption to the community.” The order was also shared via social media . In response, XR members targeted for arrest laid on the ground, forcing police officers to carry them away. Police claim to have arrested 52 protestors. One of the protestors told reporters that XR’s actions have already succeeded in raising awareness. “By taking these arguably drastic actions, I hope that it makes some of the passersby, or the people who read about it, think about why we are worried enough to do that and it conveys there really is something to worry about,” said activist Tristan Strange. According to the Metropolitan police, law enforcement will continue with a “policing plan” for continued XR protests. Deputy assistant commissioner Matt Twist has added that “his officers would not be deterred by a recent supreme court ruling” supporting highway obstruction as “a legitimate and lawful form of protest,” as reported by The Guardian. Via The Guardian Lead image via Extinction Rebellion U.K.

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New environmental racism scorecard calls out ExxonMobil

August 24, 2021 by  
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The grading period has ended, and it’s time to find out who got the high scores and who’s failing the class. According to a new environmental racism  scorecard  released by shareholder advocacy group As You Sow,  ExxonMobil  came in last. In other words, an F minus. The group’s recent evaluation of the 500 largest publicly traded companies is an updated version of its March scorecard. The earlier version looked at 26 indicators of racial justice, such as workplace diversity and how often employees of color got choice promotions. But people criticized that version for not considering how these companies polluted nonwhite communities. Newly added criteria weigh whether a company acknowledges environmental justice  issues and researches any penalties it has incurred for pollution. Related: How to support environmental justice “We see the  environmental  and racial justice as completely linked,” said Olivia Knight, manager of  As You Sow’s  Racial Justice Initiative, as reported by Grist. “You can’t have racial justice without acknowledging and remedying environmental justice.” None of the 500 companies got an A, unless you grade on a curve set for very bad students. CVS and  Microsoft  tied for first place with a lousy 60%. This poor score is still higher than the energy sector, which averaged 3%. Seven companies managed to plummet into negative numbers. ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum and Valero Energy were in this tier of companies that have done so much harm to nonwhite and/or low-income communities that they couldn’t even make it to zero. For example, ExxonMobil’s crude oil refinery in Beaumont, Texas routinely fails to comply with the Clean Air Act. The majority-Black neighborhood nearby is breathing those carcinogens. “ Environmental racism  is built into their business plan,” Knight said. “They have allowed all of these environmental violations to become just business as usual.” The fossil fuel giant scored negative-23%. Then there’s Marathon Petroleum, whose oil refineries near southwest  Detroit  leak chemicals and release vapors that have increased asthma and cancer among Black and brown communities. Factor in its $1.5 billion in health, safety and environmental penalties since 2000, and you see why the company scored negative-17% on the scorecard. Will getting a failing score shame  fossil fuel  companies into cleaning up their acts? Some of them seem beyond shame. But we’ll keep our fingers crossed. Via Grist Lead image via Roy Luck

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New environmental racism scorecard calls out ExxonMobil

California couple charged for starting wildfire during gender reveal

July 23, 2021 by  
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Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez, a Southern California couple responsible for starting a forest fire last year, have recently been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The couple started the fire after a gender reveal went wrong, sparking a fire that killed a firefighter. The couple now faces both felony and misdemeanor charges. According to an announcement made by San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson, the couple pleaded not guilty to charges involving the El Dorado Fire. The El Dorado Fire started on September 5 last year when the couple and their children and friends ignited a “ smoke -generating pyrotechnic device” to reveal the gender of their new baby. The party, held at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, turned tragic when the device ignited nearby grass. Although the party tried to put out the fire using water, they could not handle the quickly spreading flames. Related: Oregon’s Bootleg Fire is creating its own weather When firefighters were called to help, the fire had already spread and was difficult to contain. Charles Morton, a 39-year-old leader of the elite Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Squad, ended up losing his life in the fire. Morton had worked as a firefighter for more than 18 years. The fire also injured 13 other people and led to the destruction of vast tracks of forest land, claiming about 36 square miles in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Hundreds of families were evacuated from the region, and about five homes and 15 other buildings were destroyed. The state of California experienced thousands of fires last year, with El Dorado being just one of the many. Approximately 4% of the state was affected by wildfires fueled by dry conditions and strong winds. Nearly 10,500 buildings were destroyed across the state, with about 33 people losing their lives to wildfires. Via Huffpost Lead image via Pexels

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Governor calls for reduced water usage amid 2021 California drought

July 12, 2021 by  
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Governor Gavin Newsom has placed 50 of California’s 58 counties under a drought  emergency  order, and the number may grow. The latest to join the order are those located north of the Tehachapi mountains. This includes Marin, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Inyo, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara counties. “Those are the effects of climate change. It’s here, and it’s human-induced,” Newsom said, as reported by ABC. “I think in the state of  California , we’ve moved beyond the debate and are moving toward finding a solution.” Related: California farmers find ways to work with less water Instead of mandating and enforcing water restrictions, Newsom is asking for people to voluntarily comply. The goal: reduce  water  usage by 15%. This goes for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as residential. “We’re hopeful that the people in the state of California will take that mindset that they saw in the last drought and take that forward,” Newsom said. California has allocated $5.1 billion to deal with the drought, including emergency response and investing in the state’s water infrastructure. California’s largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, hold less than half their usual amount of water, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Both  lakes  are in Northern California. Southern California is currently faring better, with Castaic Lake at 58% of its average level, and Lake Perris with notably more water than it usually holds this time of year. Last year’s dry winter means California fell below its usual snow total. Pair that with extreme heat, and you have severe  wildfire  risk this summer. For those who want to think of new ways to save water during the California  drought ,  Save Our Water  has conservation tips for your home and yard. If you tend to do many small loads of laundry, leave the water on while brushing your teeth or enjoy hosing down your sidewalk, consult this site immediately for alternatives and advice. Via ABC Lead image via Pixabay

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Meejee sets sustainable goals for skincare with less plastic

July 12, 2021 by  
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The plastic crisis starts with petroleum-based products, is facilitated by consumer consumption and expands to pollution of the land and water. Plastic never completely goes away, and microplastics are now found in nearly every animal and plant on the planet. The beauty industry is a major contributor to this issue, thanks to excessive plastic packaging for deodorant, makeup, skincare and more, not to mention many of these products can only be used for a short period of time. Meejee, a skincare company that acknowledges the problem, aims to be part of the solution. Meejee reported, “Within the beauty industry, there have been 76.8 billion units of plastic packaging in 2017 alone and a majority of those units end up in landfills and our oceans, a problem polluting the Earth’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems.” Related: Haeckels delivers zero-waste skincare with Bio Restore Membrane To counter the issue, the company has designed a facial cleansing massager with a handle made from recycled plastic . The body is made from silicone, a material made from a natural chemical element, silica, found in sand. Silicone is widely seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic, namely because it’s not made from petroleum. In addition, silicone is extremely durable, meaning it offers an impressively long lifespan. That durability keeps it from degrading into microparticles in the same way plastic does. Plus, silicone is gentle and non-abrasive as a skincare material. It’s also antimicrobial, because bacteria and skincare just don’t mix. Meejee contains an internal battery that can last up to a full year without a recharge. When it is time to power up, the most difficult part might be remembering where you put the USB charger. There are no wasteful replacement brush heads, either, so it might be the last face-cleaning massager you ever need. Staying true to its commitment “to close the plastic loop and create a sustainable future,” Meejee partnered with PlasticBank, an organization dedicated to reversing the trend of increasing ocean plastic. Each Meejee purchased equates to nearly 100 plastic bottles kept from entering the ocean. + Meejee Images via Meejee

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Meejee sets sustainable goals for skincare with less plastic

Airbus’ flying electric taxi is on track to soar next year

October 9, 2017 by  
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Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles are really taking off, and Airbus is set to launch a VTOL taxi by next year. The multi-passenger CityAirbus is powered by electric motors – and it’s designed to one day operate autonomously . The CityAirbus could allow commuters to escape traffic by turning to an affordable, environmentally friendly new mode of travel . Airbus announced they just finished their first full-scale testing for the CityAirbus’ propulsion system, describing the testing phase as successful. This means they’re on track for their first flight, scheduled for the end of next year. Related: Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular urban land and air transport system CityAirbus chief engineer Marius Bebesel said in a statement, “We now have a better understanding of the performance of CityAirbus’ innovative electric propulsion system, which we will continue to mature through rigorous testing while beginning the assembly of the full-scale CityAirbus flight demonstrator.” The CityAirbus boasts what Airbus describes as a four-ducted propeller configuration, which boosts safety and helps yield a low acoustic footprint. 100 kilowatt electric Siemens motors and four batteries help the CityAirbus get from point A to point B. As many as four people will be able to ride in a CityAirbus, which will cruise at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour, or around 75 miles per hour, along fixed routes. In the beginning a pilot will fly the VTOL, but Airbus plans for the vehicle to one day pilot itself. Airbus said there are benefits to adding a third dimension of travel to urban transportation , such as opening up accessibility for underserved or remote areas of a city . Self-piloted vehicles in particular can operate around three times faster than a typical road vehicle, and are energy efficient , running off electricity. Airbus said their VTOL method of travel will be quick and affordable. Via Airbus Images via Airbus ( 1 , 2 )

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Airbus’ flying electric taxi is on track to soar next year

Ole Scheeren’s modular office building looks like a giant Jenga tower

October 6, 2017 by  
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Architect Ole Scheeren unveiled images of his first project in Europe- a residential tower that will offer panoramic views of Frankfurt’s skyline. The designer will overhaul an entire 1970s office block to create 200 living units on the banks of the River Main. The modular apartments will be inserted into the framework of the building, with some recessed and others cantilevering out into space. The Riverpark Tower will be developed in cooperation with GEG, one of Germany ’s most prestigious real estate investment platforms. It will house 220 units on 23 floors, ranging in size from small apartment to four-room suites. Related: Thailand’s tallest building opens with new green spaces for Bangkok “This project is about the positive reinterpretation of an existing structure,” said the architect. “It’s quite a serious intervention, prompted by necessity not ambition,” he added. Modular , glass-fronted units will be inserted into the existing, free-spanning structural framework. They will cantilever out at some points, introducing an element of irregularity to the silhouette. New loft apartments will occupy the space at the four corners of the building which will be cut away at the top. + Buro Ole Scheeren Via Dezeen

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Ole Scheeren’s modular office building looks like a giant Jenga tower

Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

October 2, 2017 by  
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Tesla just announced that the world’s largest battery installation is about halfway finished. The 100MW/129MWh utility-grade battery bank near the site of the 100MW Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia will be the largest system connected to an energy grid. This massive undertaking was inspired by a bet between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who could not believe that Tesla was able to install its grid-tied battery systems as quickly as it claimed. Musk, confident in his company’s work, promised to install the world’s largest battery bank in 100 days or the State of South Australia would receive it for free. The clock is now ticking. After accepting the challenge, Tesla participated in a competitive bidding process to unlock a $115 million renewable energy fund from the State of South Australia , which has suffered disruptive blackouts in recent summer seasons. After estimating that the world’s largest battery bank would cost $32.35 million, excluding labor costs and taxes, Tesla was awarded the contract in partnership with the French company Neoen, which owns the Hornsdale Wind Farm on which the battery bank is being built. Musk made clear that the negotiation phase did not count towards the 100 days deadline. The stakes are high; if Tesla fails to complete its task within 100 days, it could suffer a loss of $50 million or more. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico Last Friday, Tesla officially announced the start of its 100-day challenge, though it would seem that the company gave itself a bit of a head start. The battery bank, which is being built at the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada , is nearly halfway complete as is the installation of batteries into the bank. “To have that [construction] done in two months … you can’t remodel your kitchen in that period of time,” said Musk at a kickoff event, seeming to acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. If any company is up to this kind of challenge, one based on a bet between billionaires, it’s Tesla. Via Ars Technica Images via Tesla

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Tesla nears halfway mark on world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

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