Thousands take to the streets to march for science in cities around the globe

April 23, 2017 by  
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Tens of thousands of people took to the streets for Saturday’s March for Science , a series of rallies and marches held on Earth Day . With over 600 rallies across the world, the “celebration of science” advocated the use of evidence-based policy making in all levels of government, with climate change a core topic. President Donald Trump administration’s recent budget cuts to many environment-related programs and his perceived hostility to science served as a major spark for the movement. Inspired by the 2017 Women’s March of January 21, 2017, the March for Science amassed large support in a short amount of time thanks largely to social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Co-led by nonprofit Earth Day Network , the March for Science was officially declared non-political although many protestors used it as an opportunity to protest Trump’s administration. The main march kicked off in the early morning with a mass gathering on Washington D.C.’s National Mall followed by a march down Constitution Avenue toward the Capitol in the afternoon.t Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Hundreds of satellite marches were held around the world on every continent except for Antartica. In D.C., the event was headlined by Bill Nye , Mona Hanna-Attisha, and Lydia Villa-Kmoaroff who, along with other well-known activists in the science community, presented a series of speeches complemented by “teach-ins,” educational sessions that covered topics from climate change to endangered wildlife. Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Related: Why scientists are marching in over 400 cities on Earth Day Many protestors displayed homemade signs with many indirectly and directly attacking Trump with slogans such as “What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything,” “Mr. President, science gave us Romaine,” and “Pruitt Plus Trump Equals Bad Chemistry.” A few hours after the marches kicked off, President Trump released a statement on Saturday saying: “Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection. My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.” Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images The March for Science was held just a week prior to another major science-related march , the People’s Climate March that will take place in cities across the world on April 29, 2017. + March for Science Lead image via Wikimedia Commons Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

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Thousands take to the streets to march for science in cities around the globe

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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ExxonMobil exhorts White House to keep Paris agreement

China calls America selfish amid Trump attempt to revive coal

March 30, 2017 by  
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China is uneasy leading the way on climate action without the help of the United States, according to an editorial in Chinese state media. After President Donald Trump signed his executive order rolling back the Clean Power Plan this week, an article ran in the Global Times critical of Trump’s moves. The editorial said, “…what the US is doing undermines the other countries’ dedication to implement the Paris Agreement .” China relied on coal for development, but in recent years has made strides to build renewable energy plants and shut down coal mines . Even if they have a long way to go to fix pollution woes, one study showed their coal use likely peaked in 2014 . Meanwhile Trump has touted the return of coal against evidence of the growth of renewable energy and even the reality of climate change . Related: 75 American mayors affirm climate goals even after Trump executive order So it’s not too surprising Chinese media lambasted Trump in a March 30 editorial. “Some Western media now pin their hopes on China to fill the vacuum left by Washington in the fight against climate change. But no matter how hard Beijing tries, it won’t be able to take on all the responsibilities that Washington refuses to take…Washington’s political selfishness must be discouraged,” it said. The editorial pointed out China and the United States are the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitters, but said China is still in the process of developing while America is a superpower with the technological edge to slash emissions . They said America’s attitudes will impact how people around the world approach the battle against climate change. Global Times also put the pressure on Western media and the public to pressure Trump, saying “American opinion has enabled the country’s political and legal authorities to freeze the president’s Muslim ban. If it keeps up the same vigor, the Trump administration may not be able to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.” Via The Guardian and Global Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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China calls America selfish amid Trump attempt to revive coal

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

Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts

March 6, 2017 by  
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A leaking natural gas pipeline in Cook Inlet, Alaska won’t be fixed until the ice melts – continuing to flow unchecked into a habitat for endangered beluga whales. Inside Climate News reports that Hilcorp Alaska, the company responsible for the leak, says it won’t be able repair the damage until later this month, at the earliest, due to concerns over safety for its workers. The 8-inch underwater pipeline has been leaking about 120,000 to 310,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day into the ocean since Feb. 7, 2017. “Given the typical weather patterns affecting ice formation and dissipation in Cook Inlet, we currently anticipate that the earliest that the conditions will allow diving will be in mid-to-late March,” wrote Hilcorp Alaska Senior Vice President, David Wilkins. Doing so before that date would likely make it unsafe for the divers who have to head underwater to fix the leak. But it would be appear to be a case of humans vs. whales, as the oil is leaking into a critical habitat for endangered beluga whales . Bob Shavelson, or the Alaska non-profit Cook Inletkeepe r, have concerns that methane in the leaking gas could displace oxygen in the water and create hypoxic zones that could be dangerous for the roughly 340 belugas in the area. Related: Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand’s third largest mass stranding As Inside Climate News reports, Alaska’s Department of Environment Conservation says Hilcorp didn’t respond to its request for a plan to monitor the leak and environmental impacts. Without such data the state agency can’t assess the threat posed by leak to Cook Inlet. The state has since asked Hilcorp to provide a plan by March 8 – more than a month after the leak began. In a letter to Alaska’s DEC, Hilcorp says the amount of dissolved methane coming from the leak is so minimal that it’s not toxic to aquatic organisms, and that belugas tend to avoid areas covered in ice – meaning that there are likely no belugas around the area of the leak. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says otherwise. In a recent letter the agency noted that Cook Inlet belugas tend to prefer ice cover, to the point that their presence has become associated with that of ice. “If a significant hypoxic zone is created by a continuing natural gas discharge,” the NOAA explained, “Cook Inlet belugas and multiple [physical and biological features] of their critical habitat could be adversely affected.” Via Inside Climate News Images via fooey and briangratwke , Flickr Creative Commons and Frank K , Wikimedia Commons

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Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts

Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

March 3, 2017 by  
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Amazon just announced plans to install 41 megawatts worth of solar power on the roofs of its US facilities this year. The project is part of amazon’s larger initiative to install solar systems on 50 of its order fulfillment facilities around the globe by 2020. “As our fulfillment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability—this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.” The solar projects planned for this year will see a total of 41 megawatts installed on the rooftops of Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on various factors, the solar installations could provide the facilities with up to 80% of the energy needed to run. Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane https://youtu.be/R7tMiQcF9tY According to Amazon, the company is also working on other clean energy projects – including a wind farm in Texas and a network of wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. It’s also possible some of this power could be used to energize other initiatives Amazon is working on – such as the eventual delivery of orders by drones , and the company’s plans to build a giant floating warehouse in the sky from which the drones would work. Via Businesswire Images via Amazon/Businesswire

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Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

Staten Island is seeking proposals for a High Line park of its own

March 1, 2017 by  
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Why should Manhattan hog all the fun? Staten Island may soon get a “High Line”  of its own. Much like the OG linear park in Chelsea, which was constructed on an elevated section of a historic freight rail line, the proposed North Shore High Line could sprout from a similarly abandoned set of tracks in Port Richmond. The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation , a nonprofit group that advocates for the borough’s economic development, has issued an open call for ideas. “Realizing we have this long abandoned North Shore Rail Line, I wanted to look into how we could replicate what they did in Manhattan,” Cesar Claro, president and CEO of the SIEDC, told SILive . “We met with Friends of the High Line in Manhattan … and came up with a plan using the Manhattan High Line as the roadmap, and it will start with a design competition.” Photo: Screenshot from video by Russ Ott A North Shore High Line along the half-mile stretch between Richmond Terrace at Heberton Avenue to Nicholas Avenue would not only rehabilitate what is currently an illegal dumping ground, but it could also pose an “unprecedented economic and recreational opportunity,” according to Salvatore Calcagno, Jr., SIEDC’s ambassador for the project. “Based on the success of the High Line on the West Side of Manhattan, we believe that activating the dormant line in a similar fashion can be a transformative project for the area. We hope this leads to an active public space along the line,” Calcagno said. A 2014 University of California, San Diego study showed that Manhattan’s High Line boosted the prices of adjacent homes by as much as 10 percent. “If our high line is half as successful as Manhattan’s, it will be a major boon to the community,” Calcagno added. Related: Proposed Staten Island vineyard would produce local wine for New Yorkers Designers who want a shot at $10,000 in prize money have until April 7 to submit a proposal to the SIEDC, which will put the entries to a public vote before announcing the winner at its annual conference on April 27. Claro, the president of the SIEDC, says he hopes to be able to work with local officials to fund the project, which could run up to some $30 million. But even if greenlit, such a scheme would take years, perhaps even decades, to come to fruition. “Keep in mind Manhattan’s High Line took 20 years from idea to creation,” Claro said. + North Shore High Line competition + Staten Island Economic Development Corporation Via SILive and DNAinfo Photos: Screenshots from video by Russ Ott and Wikipedia

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Staten Island is seeking proposals for a High Line park of its own

Why Washington’s anti-regulation agenda will hurt the economy

February 16, 2017 by  
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Fortune 500 CEOs are calling on the president to keep business-savvy environmental protections strong. Will they be Trumped?

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Why Washington’s anti-regulation agenda will hurt the economy

How to solve the imbalance in ESG investing

February 16, 2017 by  
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Dimitri Sedov, the vice president of innovation and digital strategy at S&P Global said there is more demand for sustainable investments then there is a supply.

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How to solve the imbalance in ESG investing

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