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Archives for Earth & Energy

A Promising Prototype

Eviation Aircraft just unveiled the first prototype of an all-electric aircraft with a range of 965 kilometers (600 miles) at the 52nd International Paris Airshow. The plane boasts a capacity of six to nine passengers and two crew members.

The X-Plane Program [INFOGRAPHIC]
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“At a time when we are more connected than ever, our mobility options must adapt to reflect this new, efficient future,” said the company’s CEO Omer Bar-Yohay at the unveiling. “Our all-electric aircraft represents a chance for people to move with the speed and impact our global economy now demands.”

The company seems to be envisioning itself as an airborne Uber. The primary aim of the aircraft is to complete short trips much more quickly than ground-based transportation, and passengers would have the opportunity to book trips between cities at short notice.

Although Eviation Aircraft’s prototype was only just unveiled, the company claims it has already undertaken proof of concept missions. Electrek reports that Eviation aims to move on to the certification and commercialization stages as early as 2018, though the first production model might not arrive until 2020.

The Potential of Electric Planes

According to the European Global Commission for Climate Change, the airline industry accounts for more than two percent of the world’s total emissions. “If global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters,” the Commission asserts. Clearly, shifting the airline industry away from greenhouse gas producing fuels is a pivotal aspect of global environmental change.

Eviation’s aircraft could be a key element in instigating this shift as the company’s goal is to provide services “at a cost that beats gas and with zero emissions.” By making its aircraft both economically and environmentally attractive, the company would provide a service people need while also helping to save the environment.

The electric air transport sector is seeing significant growth, much of which is thanks to NASA, which is currently involved in several projects. Eviation Aircraft is actually a part of the agency’s On-Demand Mobility program, and NASA is also responsible for the GL-10, a electric concept craft that functions as a mixture of a helicopter and a plane.

Another trailblazer is Wright Electric, which plans to make a much larger aircraft than Eviation’s. Wright’s would have a 150-person capacity, which means it could replace traditional aircrafts for medium-haul flights, such as from New York to Boston.

If any of these projects come to fruition, they would be a major step forward in the global effort to end our dependence on fossil fuels and undo some of the damage we’ve already done to the environment.

The post This All-Electric Plane Can Transport Passengers 600 Miles on a Single Charge appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla in China

Rumors that Tesla is looking to establish a firmer foothold in China by building a factory in the region have been circulating all week. First, China Daily shared the news, then both Bloomberg and Reuters picked it up. Now, the world has confirmation straight from Tesla that the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer is indeed in talks with local government in China.

Tesla sent Electrek a statement on the potential Chinese Gigafactory:

World’s Biggest Factories: Facts and Figures
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Tesla is working with the Shanghai Municipal Government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility in the region to serve the Chinese market. As we have said before, we expect to more clearly define our plans for production in China by the end of the year.

Tesla is deeply committed to the Chinese market, and we continue to evaluate potential manufacturing sites around the globe to serve the local markets.

While details of a deal haven’t been confirmed, anonymous sources told both China Daily and Bloomberg that one would be signed yesterday.

China’s Commitment to Clean Energy

It’s no secret that Tesla has been searching for locations to build more of its Gigafactories, and China does seem like a very obvious choice. Tesla sales increased by 181.7 percent from 2015 to 2016 according to LMC Automotive Consulting Shanghai, with the company selling 10,399 cars in the country last year, tripling its sales to more than a billion U.S. dollars in revenue.

By manufacturing cars for local distribution in China, Tesla could avoid the 25 percent import tariffs it currently pays, but the company stressed in its statement that it would continue manufacturing the bulk of its cars in the United States: “While we expect most of our production to remain in the U.S., we do need to establish local factories to ensure affordability for the markets they serve.”

The decision to allow a Gigafactory to be built in China would affirm the nation’s commitment to eliminating pollution. Currently, renewable energy sources are booming in the Asian country — it’s now the world’s biggest solar energy producer. It’s also doubling up efforts to promote electric vehicle use in several key cities, and having locally produced Teslas would definitely give China more muscle in its fight against climate change.

The post The Rumors Are True. Tesla Wants to Build a Gigafactory in China. appeared first on Futurism.

This solar paint will turn your house into a power station

The post This Solar Paint Will Turn Your House into a Power Station appeared first on Futurism.

Rapid and numerous advances in medical science are keeping us alive longer and helping us deliver the next generation of healthy babies. A new report from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs projects that the world’s population is going to continue to boom, with the worldwide population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. The projection also indicates the population will top 8.5 billion by 2030.

Fertility rates are down in almost every region of the world, yet the ever increasing life expectancy is still allowing population growth continue to increase — albeit with an increasingly older populace.

That being said, many of the resources our survival here on Earth depends on are finite. Conversations on how to sustain those resources with some semblance of equity are paramount to our ability to accommodate such a big population increase.

In 2013, famed British naturalist David Attenborough scathingly expressed his feelings on the population boom, telling The Radio Times that humans are a plague. Adding the warning that “Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us.” He cites climate change as one such factor that will limit humanity’s time on Earth if trends are not changed.

Other experts have echoed these thoughts in different terms: Stephen Hawking has even gone so far as to say that humanity only has 100 years left on the planet.

Regardless if the situation is as dire as Attenborough and Hawking believe, increasing Earth’s population while refusing to focus on better sustainability practices is a recipe for catastrophic global disaster.

The post A New UN Report Projects Worldwide Populations to Approach 9.7 Billion by 2050 appeared first on Futurism.

Taking It Slow

Scientists consider nuclear fusion the “holy grail” of energy production for good reason. Not only could it provide a virtually unlimited amount of energy, the energy would also be clean.

Fusion Energy: A Practical Guide [Infographic]
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To that end, nuclear scientists have been hard at work since the dawn of the Atomic Age to replicate this energy that feeds the stars, and just this week, a team from the Chalmers University of Technology published a new study in Physical Review Letters that outlines a way to eliminate one of the biggest remaining obstacles.

While nuclear fission creates energy by splitting atoms, fusion works in reverse. By combining two light nuclei, usually hydrogen atoms, nuclear fusion generates several times more energy than fission. Sustaining this reaction, which occurs within conditions of intense pressure and high temperatures, is difficult on its own, and the matter is further complicated by runaway electrons, which can damage or even destroy fusion reactors.

The Chalmers researchers came up with a method to manage these runaway electrons. They found that injecting heavy ions in gas or pellet form into the reactor slows down the erring electrons by colliding with them. “When we can effectively decelerate runaway electrons, we are one step closer to a functional fusion reactor,” study co-author Linnea Hesslow said in a university press release.

A Renewable Game Changer

As efforts to improve the world’s renewable energy sources continue, many see nuclear fusion as having the most potential. It can provide clean energy, with virtually zero carbon emissions, and it isn’t seasonal like solar and wind.

“Considering there are so few options for solving the world’s growing energy needs in a sustainable way, fusion energy is incredibly exciting since it takes its fuel from ordinary seawater,” Hesslow added.

Thankfully, a number of efforts to stabilize nuclear fusion are underway. For instance, a Canadian collective aims to replace fossil fuels with nuclear fusion by the 2030s. That timeline is possible, especially considering the progress made over the past 50 years in fusion energy, but it won’t be easy.

“Many believe it will work, but it’s easier to travel to Mars than it is to achieve fusion. You could say that we are trying to harvest stars here on Earth, and that can take time,” Hesslow explained. “It takes incredibly high temperatures, hotter than the center of the Sun, for us to successfully achieve fusion here on Earth. That’s why I hope research is given the resources needed to solve the energy issue in time.”

The post Fusion Breakthrough Puts Us One Step Closer to Limitless Clean Energy appeared first on Futurism.

London is taking its commitment to reducing its impact on climate change to a new level: the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, recently announced a major initiative with the goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions within the next few decades. Ultimately, the plan sets out to make London’s entire transportation network zero emission by the year 2050. 

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
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A major facet of the city’s public transport system is already electric, chiefly the Underground rail system. Therefore, the bulk of the efforts will be aimed at reducing emissions from vehicles. The plan hopes to cut down the number of trips by three million each day. To do this, the city is calling on people to switch to walking, cycling, and relying on the electrified public transit system.

Among the first steps in the plan is to create a zero-emission zone in central London by 2025 in order to set the preconditions for a full city expansion by the projected end date in 2050. Other steps include mandating all taxis and minicabs be zero emission by 2033, with the city’s buses following suit by 2037. Then, by 2040, all road vehicles in London will be required to to be zero emission.

One of the major obstacles facing the city’s plan, however, is ensuring the proper infrastructure will be in place to allow it to be successful. One challenge that the city has already identified and will be getting to work on is providing adequate charging stations throughout the city, which will be paramount to the plan’s success since it heavily relies on the adoption of electric vehicles.

The post London Mayor Announces Major Initiative to Make City’s Transportation Zero-Emission by 2050 appeared first on Futurism.

The Rise of Air Pollution

Air pollution is typically seen as a problem that affects entire cities or regions. But a new study shows that air quality can vary tremendously within a city — even block by block. The unexpected finding suggests that it might be possible for local authorities to pinpoint pollution hot spots that would otherwise go undetected — and help citizens avoid living in or traveling through those areas.

For the study, published last week in the journal of Environment Science & Technology, researchers from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the University of Texas, and Aclima, an environmental sensor company, tracked two Google Street View cars rigged with air quality monitoring equipment as they drove throughout Oakland, Calif.

The vehicles measured the levels of black carbon, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide in the air, collecting a total of 3 million data points during the yearlong study.

The results showed that traffic, time of day, and other variables create dramatic shifts in pollution levels near highways, bridges, and even fast food restaurants, adding to the “invisible threat” that has been linked to asthma, heart disease, and strokes.

The data was used to create detailed interactive maps featuring red, orange, and yellow dots to indicate levels of pollution at particular locations. The colors often shifted with traffic and at different times of the day, week, and year. Pollution levels varied as much as five times from block to block, says study co-author Dr. Steven Hamburg, chief scientist at the EDF.

Technology Could Be the Answer

“We have to understand the patterns better and we believe the Oakland data and the learnings from that and the subsequent cities we map will be able to highlight and illustrate exactly how to do that,” Hamburg says.

The study will soon expand to other cities. And Aclima, the San Francisco-based environmental tech company that equipped the cars, is exploring the possibility of putting its air-sampling systems on city buses and delivery trucks and at stationary locations in major cities to gather up-to-date air pollution measurements.

The data could be incorporated into Google Maps and other map apps so users could simply open their smartphones to know which hotspots to avoid. The information could make it possible for users to select a running route with clean air, for example, or focus their apartment searches to areas with low pollution.

“Doing the science is a means, not the goal,” Hamburg says. “Our goal is to ensure that the data becomes available and is used and is affecting people in a real substantive and positive way.”

App for Air Pollution Could Make City Living a Lot Safer was originally published by NBC Universal Media, LLC on June 15, 2017 by Matthew Kitchen. Copyright 2017 NBC Universal Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

The post An App Can Identify Highly Polluted Areas In Cities appeared first on Futurism.

Ninety-seven percent of the scientific community believes climate change is real—but what about the remaining three percent?

The post It’s Time We Recognize the Risks of Denying Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk claims that a Model S P100D could travel a distance of over 1,000 kilometers (~621 miles) if driven efficiently on a single charge as long as it had the right tires. Musk’s assertion was made after he retweeted a post by Electrek featuring a link to an article about a new Model S hypermiling record.

For the unfamiliar, hypermiling is done to test just how far a vehicle can go on a single tank of fuel — or, in the case of electric vehicles, a single charge — when driven to maximize efficiency.


In the article, a hypermiling duo from Belgium drove a Model S P100D — currently the fastest Tesla car available — in a 26-km (16-mile) closed loop for nearly 24 hours. Traveling at speeds of 40 km/h (24mph), they were able to run the car for 901.2 km (roughly 560 miles) on a single charge.

The previous record was set by Casey Spencer, who drove a Model S 85D ~885 kilometers (550.3 miles) on one charge. The Model SP100D has a higher energy capacity, which accounts for Musk’s confidence that it could go even farther under ideal conditions.

While the average driver won’t be operating their Tesla under hypermiling conditions, the significance of this new record is clear: Tesla’s EVs are now more efficient than ever before. That’s a plus for anyone considering an electric car, as a primary obstacle to adoption has been concerns about limited range, and the more EVs we can get on the roads, the fewer of their fossil fuel-powered counterparts will be contributing to carbon emissions.

The post Elon Musk: With the Right Tires, a Tesla Could Travel 1,000+ Kilometers on a Single Charge appeared first on Futurism.

Politically-Viable Climate Solutions

The Climate Leadership Council (CLC), founded in February by Ted Halstead, has already attracted an impressive pantheon of corporate and individual founding members, including Shell, BP, General Motors, Laurene Powell Jobs, Michael Bloomberg — and, most recently, Stephen Hawking. The group, according to their website:

Is an international policy institute founded in collaboration with a who’s who of business, opinion, and environmental leaders to promote a carbon dividends framework as the most cost-effective, equitable, and politically-viable climate solution.

They aim to challenge human-caused global warming and climate change by developing an economically sustainable approach that builds on the work of other organizations but also aims to affect change “at the necessary scale or speed.” Their mission consists of four pillars:

  1. Implementing a gradually rising and revenue-neutral carbon tax.
  2. Paying a carbon dividend payments to all Americans, funded by 100 percent of the revenue.
  3. Rolling back carbon regulations that are no longer necessary.
  4. Adjusting border carbon to level the playing field and promote American competitiveness.

Swaying Public Opinion

These high-profile individuals have the potential to not only impact climate change through their focus on politically feasible environmental solutions, but also through their capabilities as trendsetters. The idea is that even if their proposals are not as resilient in the current political environment as we would hope, the CLC could still sway public opinion towards coming together to protect our world.

Technological Fixes for Climate Change
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On a more quantifiable level, adoption of the CLC’s $40 per ton carbon tax could catalyses the American economy’s transition into becoming more carbon neutral. A recent Resources for the Future (RFF) study said that even a $20 per ton tax could, by 2025, achieve emissions reductions of 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels. This means that the CLC’s suggested rate could help the U.S. reach Obama’s ambitious climate goals in half the time his own policies could have.

The CLC’s efforts could go a long way towards counteracting the negative consequences of U.S. president Donald Trump’s recent decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. The members’ public acknowledgement that climate change is a real problem requiring real solutions may also undermine the arguments of those who still doubt the scientific evidence for human impact on the environment.

The post The Climate Leadership Council Could be the Answer to Changing Climate Policy appeared first on Futurism.

The Model S Record

Tesla Model S P100D has just been used to set a new record for distance driven on a single charge: 901.2 km (~560 miles). Steven Peeters and Joeri Cools managed to break the record for the lowest energy consumption for the vehicle as well, achieving 88 Wh/km (54.7 Wh/mile).

They did so by hypermiling (driving the vehicle with the specific goal of increasing efficiency). For example, because cars are not as efficient at high speeds, the drivers averaged only 40 km/h (24 mph) — a speed that wouldn’t be ideal for actual travel, but that’s great for breaking records.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Most previous approaches to hypermiling have focused on driving cars in a straight line, but Peeters and Cools opted for a different approach, following a 26 km (~16 mile) closed loop in Belgium in order to learn to optimize the car’s energy usage.

“By the time we finished the attempt, we knew perfectly how to take every turn and roundabout to make sure we drove with the least possible consumption,” Peeters explained in a blog post. They also learned how to drive under different temperature conditions as the attempt took them almost an entire day: 23 hours and 45 minutes.

A Tesla Just Drove a Record Breaking 900+ Kilometers on a Single Charge

In 2015, Elon Musk predicted that a Tesla with a 950 km+ (~600 mile) maximum range would be ready by 2017. This attempt was just shy of the prediction, but the drivers think they did the best they could under their circumstances and explained what would be necessary to break the 1,000 km (~621 miles) record: “That would have to be a perfect run in perfect circumstances, which I believe are not possible in our country.”

A Precedent for Electric Cars

Hypermiling is not the way the vast majority of people drive, but it is a good test to show just how efficient a car can be. We must also consider that this test was undertaken in the error-strewn landscape of human judgement. If the Model S’s Autopilot were adjusted to maximize efficiency, it could potentially learn more quickly than the drivers and make the appropriate adjustments.

The previous Tesla record holder, Casey Spencer, achieved an 885 km (550 mile) run last year, so this record-breaking run marks an impressive new milestone for the Model S’s efficiency.

While these scores are not particularly close to beating the records set by non-electric vehicles, we must remember that this is only the second Tesla car ever built (with the Model 3 coming soon), updates are arriving quickly, and a lower maximum milage is a happy sacrifice for a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

If Tesla’s cars continue progressing at this rate, it won’t be long before their environmentally unfriendly counterparts are matched in performance — the only category they’re really ahead in anymore. Electric cars are now closing in fast on their fossil fuel-powered counterparts, with other recent feats including a Nio EP9 achieving a staggering time of 6:45:9 around Germany’s Nürburgring track. Soon, they’ll be ready for full industry domination.

The post A Tesla Just Drove a Record Breaking 900+ Kilometers on a Single Charge appeared first on Futurism.

Approaching Carbon Neutrality

Sweden has passed a law via cross-party committee that dedicates the country to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045. This makes Sweden the first nation to adopt serious post-Paris Accord goals; its previous aim was to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This new law requires an action plan to be updated every four years, and creates an independent Climate Policy Council to ensure its goal is met.

Sweden is already operating with 83 percent renewable energy, split between hydropower and nuclear energy. This high level of success reflects an earlier target — which they beat eight years early — of 50 percent renewables by 2020. Moving forward, the nation’s strategy will focus heavily on reducing domestic emissions by at least 85 percent, in large part through the increased use of electric vehicles and biofuels. The rest of this carbon neutral goal will be met by investing abroad or planting trees.

Image Credit: Simon Smiler/Flickr
Image Credit: Simon Smiler/Flickr

Since the U.S.’s unpopular decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, other countries are also stepping up their efforts. India, China, Canada, France, and EU leaders have all reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris goals. Femke de Jong of Carbon Market Watch tells New Scientist that other countries in the EU will likely announce more ambitious goals, “With the Trump decision to get out of the Paris agreement, Europe is more united than ever and wants to show leadership to the world.”

The post Sweden Passes New Law to Become Carbon Neutral By 2045 appeared first on Futurism.

Thermometers, Not Thermometer

Climate change is real, and according to a recent tweet from serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, all you need is a thermometer to confirm it. While the tweet about thermometers was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, there’s nothing to laugh about when it comes to the severity of climate change, which Musk gave attention to by linking to a recent article in Forbes. The article explained why certain airline flights in the Southwest U.S. have been canceled this week due to record high temperatures.

In reality, you’d need more than one thermometer — more like thousands of them, actually. And not your everyday type of thermometer, either. Ordinary thermometers placed in individual locations can’t prove that the warming trend our planet is following is due to man-made climate change, because you have to account for globalized cooling and warming patterns.

To be exact, one would need to get an average surface temperature reading using measurements from thousands of weather stations, as well as average sea surface temperatures from ship- and buoy-based observations. You’d get something similar to what NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showcased in this video from earlier this year, even which included temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.

And, of course, no matter how many thermometers you have, and how many places you can set them, you still need scientists to monitor global warming and its adverse effects.

A Clear Message

Musk’s point is clear, however: climate change is real. And despite the flack from some of his Twitter followers over the difference between weather and climate, climate change does lead to extreme weather conditions and rising global average temperatures. 

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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There are other indicators that clearly show the effects of climate change — from the unabated melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, to changes affecting even the world’s ecology. There’s even a town in the U.S. that’s now in danger of completely sinking into the Gulf of Mexico due to rising sea levels. Countless studies have shown the link between such events and climate change, so it’s not being an alarmist to simply point out the facts.

Keeping those facts in mind, efforts to combat climate change have become especially crucial. Thankfully, there are already many being implemented and even more in development, including various renewable energy projects, and even a plan to refreeze the Arctic.

The post Elon Musk’s Simple Message On Why Climate Change Is Real appeared first on Futurism.

The Heat Is On

For many, warm weather has traditionally meant beaches and BBQs, but according to a new study published in Nature, climate change is pushing the human capacity to survive heatwaves to — and in some cases, beyond — its limit.

Right now, for 20 days or more each year, roughly 30 percent of Earth’s population is exposed to climatic conditions that exceed the researchers’ estimated global threshold for mortality risk. In other words, almost a third of us are living in places where the humidity and surface air temperatures exceed the point at which conditions are likely to be deadly 20 days every year.

By 2100, the number of people living under these conditions will be higher, but how much higher depends almost entirely on how aggressively we combat climate change.

If greenhouse gas emissions are reduced dramatically between now and then, about 48 percent of us will be living under this deadly heatwave threat. If we do nothing, 74 percent of people will. Some of those people will unquestionably die, and they’ll probably be the most vulnerable among us, such as the elderly and children who are not receiving adequate care.

Changing Course

Thankfully, efforts are already underway to combat climate change and keep the mercury from rising.

The largest states in the U.S., mayors of more than 85 American cities, and private organizations such as Bloomberg, Apple, Microsoft, Exxon-Mobil, Google, Morgan Stanley, and Tesla have taken leadership roles in American climate change efforts by reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Paris Climate Agreement
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Their actions reveal that the country is not unilaterally in support of the Trump Administration’s climate change denial and withdrawal of the U.S. from the international agreement, a move that also prompted waves of protests from individual citizens.

Other countries, including China and India, have confirmed their commitment to the deal, and France has even extended an invitation to climate change scientists from the U.S. to continue their work as part of the French community.

Will these efforts be enough? No one can say for sure, but given that this new report concludes that even very aggressive action will still result in nearly half of the world living in danger from heatwaves, it seems obvious that there is no such thing as too much effort in the battle against climate change.

The post By 2100, Climate Change-Driven Heatwaves Could Threaten 74% of the Population appeared first on Futurism.

Hawaii is fighting climate change

The post Hawaii Is Fighting Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla just took a major step forward with their Model 3 by starting production on the electric vehicle’s battery cell at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada over the weekend. According to Electrek, Tesla cofounder JB Straubel said during a presentation at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s 28th Annual Energy Fair that the battery was in production “right now.”

World’s Biggest Factories: Facts and Figures
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Tesla’s 2170 batteries for vehicles are made using Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA), as opposed to the 2170 battery cells that power the company’s stationary energy storage products, which utilize Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC).

Musk has called the batteries “the best cell in the world that is also the cheapest cell” and says they have the “best energy density in the world.” While they will initially only be used in the Model 3, which is due to go into production next month, Tesla plans to eventually scale up to integrate them into the Model S and Model X, which are already in production.

This is exiting news for both the electric and autonomous vehicle industries as the batteries are pivotal to achieving the Model 3’s $35,000 price tag. As price decreases, general adoption increases, which will result in safer roads for drivers and pedestrians alike. Coupled with the environmentally friendly nature of the cars, Tesla’s Model 3 is looking like a serious game-changer.

The post A Major Component of Tesla’s New Affordable Electric Vehicle Just Went Into Production appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla has won a contract with Transgrid, the company that operates the New South Wales (NSW) portion of Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM). The contract dictates that Tesla will install Powerpack batteries at sites throughout NSW in Sydney. The first 250 kilowatt, 500KW/h Powerpack will be installed at the Alexandra Canal Works depot in Sydney.

The Powerpack contract is intended to help smooth the uneven supply of power from solar and wind energy sources. These sources often spike during daylight hours that don’t correspond with demand, necessitating some device for storage. It is also to be part of the trial “demand response” technique for moderating prices and avoiding blackouts.

Image Credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Tesla

Although it is part of Australia’s larger overall energy plan, this contract is not part of the March 2017 pledge Musk made to install a solar farm within 100 days of a signed contract. Interestingly, Musk’s interactions with Australian officials and Tesla’s activities in the country have inspired interest from other nations in Tesla’s power solutions. So far, Twitter users from Ukraine and New Zealand have asked Musk about similar deals for their countries.

The post Tesla Wins Contract With Transgrid to Bring More Sustainable Power to Australia appeared first on Futurism.

Summer is rapidly approaching and bringing along with it the highest temperatures of the year, for most of the world. It already seems that this year will be keeping pace with recent years and offering up some of the warmest months in all of recorded history.

This past May has been recorded as the second hottest in history, being beaten only by May 2016, which was 0.93 degrees C (33.7 degrees F) higher than the mean temperature between 1951-1980. Every month this year has ranked in the top three warmest months in recorded history. According to The Weather Channel “February, March and April 2017 ranked as second warmest, while January 2017 finished in third place.”

Image sourge: NASA
Image source: NASA

Global climate change is clearly the culprit as human activity continues to contribute to global temperature rises. The Paris Climate Agreement set to address this issue by capping this temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius. However, experts assert that not even this is enough to save our planet. Even more, there are threats to the effectiveness of even that agreement as the Trump administration recently announced its intent to remove the United States from it.There is still hope, though. Leaders across the United States have defied that intention with promises to uphold the accords, despite the administration. Solar power is also increasingly becoming more economically palatable and will soon become cheaper than coal, eliminating a major source of pollution.

The post Last Month Was the Second Hottest May in Recorded History appeared first on Futurism.

Solar Boom

Solar power is among the easiest ways for individuals to hop on the clean energy generation train. There are many incentives afforded to homeowners who are looking to make the switch to solar power. Even more, it is only getting cheaper to produce, install, and operate this technology. And with the advent of Tesla’s solar power generating roofing tiles, the process is getting a welcome aesthetic upgrade on top of all of the fantastic vertical integration their technology provides. 

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
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This boom is going to continue pushing solar power to the forefront of clean energy initiatives, as the cost of solar energy is expected to drop 66 percent by 2040. Furthermore, a report from Bloomberg states that in just four years’ time, solar power will finally be cheaper than coal “almost everywhere.” The report also claims that by 2040, up to 20 percent of Brazil’s power will be generated by the sun, and Germany will be at 15 percent.

Coal Out, Sun In

The economic benefit of switching from coal to solar power will spur even greater growth — as coal supporters will no longer be able to deny the cost saving potential of renewable energy. Thankfully, the rest of the world will also benefit from a significant decrease in the amount of fossil fuels being burned, a major contributor to climate change.

The report, generated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, states that greenhouse gas emissions will peak in 2026. But thanks to the clean energy revolution, these levels will be 4 percent lower in 2040 than they were last year — the reigning hottest year on record.

With the decline of fossil fuels, we may likely also start seeing the decline of large utility systems. Tesla is a pioneer in this area with its vertical integration of solar panels and solar power storage systems. Their technology is already being used to decrease regional demand on fossil fuel burning plants in Southern California.

The post As Cost Plunges, Solar Power is Ready to Surpass Coal appeared first on Futurism.

War of the Currents

Beginning in the 1880s, the personal and professional feud between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla became a team sport. Business leaders and other scientists joined in the chant, battling over the creation of the electrical grid of the growing United States: would it rely on direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC)?

The War of the Currents was fought as wars typically are, with dirty tricks on the ground. Edison, whose DC patents were earning him a nice income, had a vested interest in DC being the answer to the riddle of the grid, and indeed DC was the earliest standard in the U.S. However, DC is not able to convert to different voltages easily.

Image Credit: Paul Downey/Flickr

Tesla both hated Edison and knew that AC was the answer to this problem. AC changes directions periodically, in the U.S. 60 times per second. It is easy to change voltages using a transformer, and it can power much larger areas, while DC was pretty much stuck within a one mile radius of the source.

While Edison resorted to electrocuting stray animals to keep the public in fear of AC, the Chicago World’s Fair really decided the issue in 1893. General Electric and George Westinghouse competed for the contract to power the fair. GE could have done it using DC for $554,000, but Westinghouse only needed $399,000 to power the fair with AC — and this turned the tide. By 1896 GE was also using AC, and the rest is history.

DC and Renewables

By the 1970s, power transmission technology improved, making DC an attractive option once again. For lines greater than 300-500 miles, DC is able to outcompete AC, going the distance without power loss. Today, DC is making a comeback, thanks to renewable energy sources. Many of them, such as large wind farms and solar arrays, are in rural areas, away from city centers.

These sources also naturally produce DC power, which is what many household devices run on. Electronic devices, including computers, flat screen televisions, LEDs, microwaves, and some variable speed devices with DC motors like fans, all run on internal DC power. In fact, up to 50 percent of total household power consumption may be DC power within 20 years. All of these factors fuel renewed interest in DC power.

*1* [Evergreen] A Century-Old Tech Is Making a Comeback Thanks to Renewables [Kelsey Pending]

In the near future, the few DC transmission lines which are now scattered all over the country may be connected by nine or more new long-distance lines. These high-voltage DC (HVDC) lines are a reflection of the geography of renewable power trends. Rural areas such as the Midwest now produce a large quantity of renewable energy that urban centers need — and power companies need to get it there.

“You have remote resources, and there’s just not enough infrastructure to move that energy to the market,” Clean Line Energy Partners executive vice president of engineering Wayne Galli told Scientific American. His organization plans to build four HVDC lines.

Building these lines will also help the renewable energy industry grow; this is why entities like Clean Line Energy Partners are investing in them. “Using DC lines is a much better solution for moving power from big, remote wind or solar farms,” University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute director Gregory Reed told Scientific American. “It’s a rapid change in where we’re getting our resources from.”

The post A Century-Old Tech Is Making a Comeback Thanks to Renewables appeared first on Futurism.

Charge As You Drive

Nikola Tesla envisioned supplying power to the world without the need for a tangle of wires strung everywhere. The closest he ever came to realizing wireless transmission was the Tesla coil, which he created in 1891. However, his dreams were much bigger, encompassing a global wireless power grid that any home, business, or vehicle could tap into at will.

Now, researchers at Stanford University think they may have gotten the wireless charging technology right, as they’ve been able to transmit electricity wirelessly to a moving object nearby. If their technology is scalable, they may have discovered a way to allow electric cars to recharge as they’re in motion, eliminating issues of charging station availability and EV battery range. If that final hurdle is truly overcome, electricity could easily become the standard vehicle fuel worldwide.

Senior study author and professor of electrical engineering Shanhui Fan said in an interview for Stanford News, “We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more.”

Image Credit: Sid Assawaworrarit/Stanford University
Image Credit: Sid Assawaworrarit/Stanford University

As the team described in their recently published Nature study, the transmission achieved was much smaller than would be needed to power vehicles. However, they did reach a kind of mid-range wireless power transfer based on magnetic resonance coupling. Electricity coursing through wires creates an oscillating magnetic field, and it’s this field that causes a nearby coil’s electrons to oscillate. This in turn transmits power wirelessly. However, it’s a complex process and is only efficient when the oscillating coils are tuned with respect to the moving object.

Until now, this has been one of the primary problems for wireless energy transmission, because there hasn’t been a way to get the coils to automatically tune to moving objects. The researchers solved this problem by using a feedback resistor and voltage amplifier system to detect where it should be tuned to without help from humans.

Tesla’s Wireless Future Arrives

This research is part of an overall push toward safer, clean energy highways with more manageable traffic that will eventually support self-driving cars.

“In theory, one could drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to stop to recharge,” Fan explained in the interview. “The hope is that you’ll be able to charge your electric car while you’re driving down the highway. A coil in the bottom of the vehicle could receive electricity from a series of coils connected to an electric current embedded in the road.”

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

With coils embedded in the roads, we could eventually enjoy a totally automated highway system. Self-driving electric vesicles could be wirelessly charged en route, and GPS and other navigation systems would also be powered wirelessly. How different is this outcome compared to Tesla’s vision of the global power grid?

His “World Wireless System” would have dotted the globe with wireless towers that transmitted power — along with data — to each other, and individual users could tap into the network with antennae. Although his plan never got past the first tower, which was demolished exactly 100 years ago, his vision of the future was really very accurate. Now that the Stanford team has this piece in place, hopefully we’ll see the rest of it happening soon.

The post Stanford Scientists Are Making Wireless Electricity Transmission a Reality appeared first on Futurism.

Sweden’s New Goals

Yesterday, June 15, the Swedish government passed a proposal intended to make the country carbon neutral by 2045. The legislation was approved by a 254 to 41 majority (86 percent) and will take effect on January 1, 2018. The drafters of the proposal call it the “most important climate reform in Sweden’s history.”

The law is divided into three key areas:

  • A climate act that forces the government to provide an environment report every year and to draw up a targeted plan every four years, as well as compels it to base policy on the legislation’s climate goals
  • Climate goals that include a minimum 63 percent decrease in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030 and at least a 75 percent decrease by 2040, as well as complete carbon neutrality by 2045
  • The establishment of a Climate Policy Council that will carry out an “independent assessment of how the overall policy presented by the Government is compatible with the climate goals”

As part of the Paris Climate Agreement, Sweden originally planned to be carbon neutral by 2050. By bringing this target forward by five years, it becomes the first nation to set a significantly higher standard for itself since the 2015 adoption of the agreement.

According to Climate Home, Gareth Redmond-King, the head of climate and energy at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), responded to the legislation passing in a statement: “Today is an important victory, not only for Sweden, but for everyone who cares about the future of our environment.”

A Global Impact

Paris Climate Agreement
Click to View Full Infographic

Sweden’s signing of the Paris Climate Agreement meant that the country agreed to efforts to limit the global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). To meet that goal, 50 percent of the world’s energy must come from renewable sources by 2060, according to a study by the University of Maryland. Sweden’s new legislation of becoming a completely carbon neutral nation by 2045 is taking that to the next level.

The Paris Agreement, which has now been ratified by 148 countries out of 197 at the convention, is a vital step toward saving the world that humans are on the path to destroying. Though United States President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement earlier this year was met with acerbic criticism by domestic and international parties, if other countries strive to exceed rather than just meet the goals of the agreement — as Sweden, the United Kingdom and China have all done — the cumulative effect could help alleviate the burden caused by the U.S.’s decision.

The post Sweden Passes Law to Be Completely Carbon Neutral by 2045 appeared first on Futurism.

A new report shows that earlier this year, renewables broke energy records in the United States for the first time. The data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly demonstrated that the monthly electricity generation from solar and wind sources made up 10 percent of the country’s total generation in the U.S. during the month of March.

The date from the EIA showed that around 8 percent of the total electricity generated during that month came from wind, and the other 2 percent was from solar sources, including residential and utility-scale solar panels. The EIA noted these two renewable sources are highly seasonal: wind generates increased in electricity during spring and solar output reaches its highest numbers in the summertime.

Image credit: U.E.EIAImage credit: U.S.EIA

The agency said it’s likely when they review the data for April, the trend will have continued: “Based on seasonal patterns in recent years, electricity generation from wind and solar will probably exceed 10% of total U.S. generation again in April 2017, then fall to less than 10% in the summer months,” according to a press release by the EIA. Renewable energy is clearly stirring things up, as it continues to break records — and not just in the U.S. These record-breaking quarters aren’t surprising, since the price of renewables has decreased considerably compared to traditional coal-based sources. Renewables are also disrupting the U.S. job scene: more people are now employed by solar power than all fossil fuel employers combined. Renewable employees also outnumber those working at huge companies like Google, Facebook, and even Apple.

The post Renewable Energy in the U.S. Broke Energy Records for the First Time appeared first on Futurism.

Greener Grids

University of Warwick (UW) researchers have discovered how to use energy stored in electric vehicles to power large buildings without leaving them high and dry. The secret is smart management of vehicle-to-grid technology, which allows both the use of energy sitting in idle vehicle batteries and the improvement of battery life in those vehicles by about 10 percent. The resulting “smart grid” can determine how much power it can use without hurting the batteries, and will only take enough to improve performance and longevity.

For about two years, a research team led by Dr. Kotub Uddin analyzed some of the most advanced lithium ion batteries used around the world in commercially available EVs in order to create what may be the most accurate public domain model of battery degradation that exists today. They gathered data on power fade over time and overall capacity under just about any relevant conditions you can imagine, assessing for state of charge and temperature, as well as the depth and current of discharge. Once the team validated their model, Dr. Uddin used it to develop a smart grid algorithm. The algorithm calculates how much energy EVs need to execute their trips, and how much energy the grid can draw from their batteries — both to render them unharmed, and to improve their staying power.

Image Credit: ChadoNihi/PixabayImage Credit: ChadoNihi/Pixabay

Smart Grid In Action

The team put their algorithm to the test with a practical goal: they wanted to power the building of the large International Digital Laboratory. Their test included powering the building’s staff quarters, 100-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, and laboratories, solely with energy drawn from the batteries of parked EVs on the UW campus. The experiment worked, and the team calculated that they were able to power the facility by drawing power from the parked cars — which were about 2.1 percent of all cars on campus.

Even more impressive, however, was that by powering the building using the algorithm, they could reduce capacity and power fade in participant EV batteries by up to 9.1 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively, over the course of a year. In other words, not only does using EV batteries to power buildings not hurt them, it actually helps them—if you do it right.

“These findings reinforce the attractiveness of vehicle-to-grid technologies to automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers: not only is vehicle-to-grid an effective solution for grid support – and subsequently a tidy revenue stream – but we have shown that there is a real possibility of extending the lifetime of traction batteries in tandem,” Dr. Uddin commented in a press release. “The results are also appealing to policy makers interested in grid decarbonization.”

The post Energy Stored in Electric Vehicles Can Power Entire Buildings appeared first on Futurism.

Powerful Paint

Powering homes using clean energy is becoming easier thanks to a growing number of innovative technologies and initiatives. Some government programs help homeowners with the financial burden of equipping their residences with energy-generating solar panels, and Elon Musk’s Tesla has developed roofing tiles that double as solar panels to give solar power generation an aesthetic boost. Now, a new innovation out of Australia is poised to make clean energy even more appealing.

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

A team of researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) has developed a paint that can be used to generate clean energy. The paint combines the titanium oxide already used in many wall paints with a new compound: synthetic molybdenum-sulphide. The latter acts a lot like the silica gel packaged with many consumer products to keep them free from damage by absorbing moisture.

According to a report on RMIT’s website, the material absorbs solar energy as well as moisture from the surrounding air. It can then split the water into hydrogen and oxygen, collecting the hydrogen for use in fuel cells or to power a vehicle. “[T]he simple addition of the new material can convert a brick wall into energy harvesting and fuel production real estate,” explained lead researcher Dr. Torben Daeneke.

The Future of Energy

Though the paint isn’t expected to be commercially viable within the next five years, Daeneke told Inverse he believes the end product will be cheap to produce. He also claims the paint would be effective in a variety of climates, from damp environments to hot and dry ones near large bodies of water: “Any place that has water vapor in the air, even remote areas far from water, can produce fuel.”

The paint could be used to cover areas that wouldn’t get enough sunlight to justify the placement of solar panels, maximizing the capability of any property to generate clean energy. Any surface that could be painted — a fence, a shed, a doghouse — could be transformed into an energy-producing structure.

When this new material finally makes its way to consumers, it’ll join the ever-growing list of innovative technologies that are moving humanity away from fossil fuels and toward a future of clean, renewable sources of energy.

The post A New “Solar Paint” Lets You Transform Your Entire House Into a Source of Clean Energy appeared first on Futurism.

Global Changes In Energy

According to a report from the research group Wood Mackenzie, the analysis of how worldwide changes in demands for energy will transform the sector in the next decade proves that the largest oil and gas companies should place at least one-fifth of their investments in wind and solar power. Dwindling demand for oil and other fossil fuels and rising demand for renewable energy will drive this change in the sector, which will, in turn, necessitate new investment strategies.

The biggest energy companies today now enjoy a market share in oil and gas of about 12%. To maintain that share, analysts say, the companies will need to spend more than $350 billion (£275 billion) on wind and solar power by 2035. Even if they don’t spend enough to maintain that market share, Wood Mackenzie forecasts that renewables may account for one-fifth, or more, of their capital allocation from 2030 onward.

*4* Largest Oil and Gas Companies Must Invest Heavily in Renewables by 2035

This level of investment arises from a recognition, even by fossil fuel companies, that demand, availability, climate change, and policies designed to cope with climate change are all permanently changing the industry. “The momentum behind these [renewable] technologies is unstoppable now,” Wood Mackenzie director of research Valentina Kretzschmar told The Guardian. “They [the oil companies] are recognizing it is a megatrend; it’s not a fad, it’s not going away. There is definitely a risk to their core business.”

Image Credit: Ben_Kerckx/Pixabay
Image Credit: Ben_Kerckx/Pixabay

The Immediate Future

Statoil of Norway, which currently employs around 100 people in energy solutions, including wind and carbon capture, will deploy the world’s first offshore floating windfarm this year. Shell is also investing in windfarms off the coast of the Netherlands and will spend $1 billion annually on hydrogen, biofuels, and renewables by 2020. In 2016, Total of France employed 13,000 people and spent $4.7 billion on batteries, biofuels, and solar along with gas. 62% of Exxon shareholders recently voted to promote more transparency on climate change.

Meanwhile, the future for fossil fuels is looking dimmer and dimmer. Oil and gas revenues are 33 times those of renewables right now, but will narrow to 13 times, or less, by 2035. As Wood Mackenzie points out, while returns for oil and gas production were twice those for renewables, renewable assets like windfarms enjoy long-life cashflow which boosts their dividends over time. Furthermore, renewables may end up growing far faster than predicted, leaving oil and gas giants in the dust if they fail to sufficiently diversify now. The bottom line for these companies may simply be that complying with climate change goals such as those set forth in the Paris Accord is better for business.

The post Researchers Say Big Energy Companies Must Invest Heavily in Renewables by 2035 appeared first on Futurism.

Could tech like this change the way we think about water usage?

The post These Panels Use Incredible Tech to Recycle Greywater appeared first on Futurism.

The potential of modern biotechnology could do a lot more than bring back extinct species—it could be the answer to the world’s dwindling biodiversity.

The post There’s More to De-Extinction Than Just Making Jurassic Park a Reality appeared first on Futurism.

If competition drives innovation, a crowded electric vehicle (EV) market may be the best way to save the environment. One of the latest competitors to enter, Henrik Fisker, just announced a new electric car that may instigate an innovation war that leads to the next wave of cool, high-performing — and most importantly — climate friendly EVs.

The EMotion — the luxurious sibling to the as-yet-unannounced mass market design — ostensibly has a range of 643 kilometers (400 miles), a not insignificant improvement on the 563 kilometer (350 mile) range of Tesla’s Model S. With a top speed of 259 km/h (161 mph) and a nine-minute charging time, the EV lays down a serious benchmark for Tesla.

Fisker is best known for designing some of the most iconic luxury car models in history, including ones that were used in James Bond films. The EMotion is the first car to be produced by his EV company, Fisker Inc.

Although details concerning the vehicle’s price, launch date, and autonomous capabilities have not yet been revealed, the EMotion’s announcement is a welcome update for the people who have been waiting with baited breath to see what the car would look like and how it would compare to Musk’s designs.

The Fisker EMotion. Image Credit: Fisker Inc.
The Fisker EMotion. Image Credit: Fisker Inc.

Electric cars are a pivotal part of the global fight against climate change, and the efforts of several car manufacturers — including Toyota and Porsche — to make them faster, sleeker, and more luxurious are helping EVs break into the supercar sector of the automotive market. Once there is an EV to meet the taste and desires of every driver, we can start to really phase out the vehicles’ gas-guzzling counterparts.

The post Tesla’s Original Designer Created a New Car and It Charges in Just 9 Minutes appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla has done it again. Just like the Model S before it, the all-electric Model X has scored a 5-star rating in all categories following a crash test conducted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Car Tech Forecast: The Next 10 Years [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Tesla proudly shared news of the achievement in a blog post: “We engineered Model X to be the safest SUV ever, and today, the [NHTSA] announced that after conducting independent testing, it has awarded Model X a 5-star safety rating in every category and sub-category, making it the first SUV ever to earn the 5-star rating across the board.”

In addition to receiving the highest safety rating, the Model X also set a new standard for injury risk. “More than just resulting in a 5-star rating, the data from NHTSA’s testing shows that Model X has the lowest probability of injury of any SUV it has ever tested,” according to Tesla’s blog post. “In fact, of all the cars NHTSA has ever tested, Model X’s overall probability of injury was second only to Model S.”

Not only can the Model X survive crashes, it can avoid them before they even occur thanks to Tesla’s self-driving system. The NHTSA itself previously reported that Tesla’s autonomous system lowered its crash rates to 40 percent. Self-driving cars are expected to save up to 40,000 lives every year in the U.S. by removing the major cause of car crashes, which is human error, so it seems the only car safer than a Tesla is a Tesla that’s driving itself.

The post It’s Official. Tesla’s Model X Is the Safest SUV on the Market With 5 Stars in Every Category appeared first on Futurism.

Innovative and Timely

Design concepts for the cities of the future usually involve a number of ideas that challenge current norms — whether it be in architecture, city planning, or materials engineering. Some of these are quite fascinating, and others border on science fiction and the absurd. Many concepts, even those that are at first seemingly a bit strange, are already seeing applications today. One example are a series of functional mobile installations that have been popping up in a number of cities all over the world.

Developed by Berlin-based tech startup Green City Solutions, these mobile installations work as trees in the middle of cities — hence the name CityTree — to filter air. Since actual trees take time to grow, CityTree isn’t exactly a tree — it’s actually a moss culture.

Images courtesy of Green City Solutions.Images courtesy of Green City Solutions.[/caption]

“Moss protected by plant coverage binds particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and CO2e and produces valuable oxygen. At the same time it cools the surrounding air,” according to the company’s website. Each installation is about 3 meters (9.84 ft) wide, stands at almost 4 meters (13.12 ft) tall and were planted 2.19 meters (7.19 ft) deep.

Air Pollution is Everyone’s Problem

The best part about CityTree, Green City Solutions claims, is that it’s capable of providing the same environmental benefit 275 actual trees would. It’s able to absorb some 250 grams of particles per day, removing 240 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.

“Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants,” Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions, told CNN. Wu was part of a team that conceptualized the idea and installed a CityTree in Brussels four years ago.

Each has Wi-Fi-enabled sensors capable of measuring the quality of air around it. Since it takes up a relatively small space and can be installed fairly seamlessly in parks (even accompanied by with benches) CityTree has proven to be an efficient and fairly cost-effective (they cost around $25,000 each to install) strategy for cleaning the air.

Global air pollution continues to be a huge problem, as the World Health Organization notes — especially in urban centers. This is why Green City has already installed around 20 of their “trees” in cities throughout the world, including Oslo, Paris, and Hong Kong. CityTrees are currently being installed in Modena, Italy and plans to introduce it to low-income countries that have high levels of pollutants — like India — are on the way as well.

“Our ultimate goal is to incorporate technology from the CityTree into existing buildings,” Wu said. “We dream of creating a climate infrastructure so we can regulate what kind of air and also what kind of temperature we have in a city.”

The post Mobile “CityTree” Installations Use Moss to Clean Air in Urban Areas appeared first on Futurism.

States Take A Stand

While the White House and Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, have indicated their plan to roll back vehicle emissions standards set by the Obama administration in 2011, the attorneys general of 12 states and Washington District of Columbia have pledged to sue the EPA if the roll back happens. The states — California, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Oregon, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland — made their intentions clear in a letter to Pruitt.

Back in 2011, President Obama’s administration made the deal with automakers, who agreed to work on doubling their average fuel efficiency fleet-wide until it reaches 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. The parties also agreed to undergo mid-term evaluations no later than April 2018 to ensure progress was on track. Under former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the evaluations were ahead of schedule, so the administration did not make any adjustments before President Obama left office. 

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

Once President Trump took office, however, Fiat Chrysler, VW, Ford, Toyota, GM, Nissan, Honda, and Hyundai asked for a re-evaluation of the efficiency guidelines. Trump ordered the EPA to review the standards for fuel efficiency, and Pruitt is clearly onside, calling the standards “costly for automakers and the American people.”

The states all dispute these characterizations, as well several unusual procedural issues the Trump administration and Pruitt have cited: “Although EPA is often faulted for missing deadlines, we are unfamiliar with any occasion on which the EPA Administrator has criticized his own agency for fulfilling its regulatory obligations ahead of schedule,” reads the letter. “[T]here are at least three separate reports by scientists, engineers, and other experts analyzing the standards and concluding that they are feasible. The record is clear that appropriate technology exists now for automakers to achieve the current standards for model years 2022-25 at a reasonable cost.”

Managing Climate Change

Efforts to create vehicles that use renewable energy and run clean are just one important aspect of managing climate change — an area that states as well as municipalities and private companies have taken the lead in as the federal government effectively abdicates its leadership role. Some of the largest states in the U.S., along with several major cities, have formed the United States Climate Alliance with the intent of adhering to the Paris Accord despite President Trump’s removal of the U.S. from it. Various American cities, including Burlington, Vermont, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City have all stepped up to the plate in recent weeks wth plans to continue to their fight against climate change.This latest move by state attorneys general to defend against the EPA’s backsliding is another major boost for fighting climate change at the state and local level, as these officials are recognizing the importance of their role. “Any effort to roll back these affordable, achievable, and common-sense vehicle emission standards would be both irrational and irresponsible,” attorney general Eric Schneiderman of New York wrote in the letter. “We stand ready to vigorously and aggressively challenge President Trump’s dangerous anti-environmental agenda in court – as we already have successfully done.”

The post In Letter, At Least 12 States Will Sue to Block Any Rollback of Emissions Standards appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk and Tesla are taking the expanding Supercharger network off-grid, with an end goal of one day running almost completely off of solar power and batteries. Since the electric grid is still mostly powered by coal and natural gas, disconnecting from allows them to go green in a more meaningful way, at least for now. The Supercharger network is a critical selling point for Tesla customers, giving them a way to completely power a vehicle within 30 minutes.

Image Credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Tesla
Musk tweeted about this issue Friday in response to recent criticism of Tesla’s plan, which powers the network of Superchargers, slated to double by the end of 2017, with the fossil fuel-based energy of the grid.

Now, it’s still better for overall vehicle emission levels to drive an electric vehicle rather than one that burns traditional fossil fuels. However, charging EVs with natural gas, coal, and nuclear power is a clear weakness on the road to fighting climate change. Decarbonizing the grid is a longer-term goal than Tesla’s plan to go off-grid, but luckily Tesla drivers will probably be able to drive without the grid long before it’s decarbonized.

The post Elon Musk: All Superchargers Are Being Converted to Battery and Solar Power appeared first on Futurism.

Misinformation is Spreading

Recently in an interview with The Guardian, Ellen Stofan, NASA’s former chief scientist, discussed how America is “under siege” from disinformation about climate change. It’s no secret that fake news exists. Especially in recent months, most citizens have become increasingly aware of the misinformation that permeates through social media, sometimes even through news sources that superficially appear to be trustworthy. But, while many of us are now aware that this issue exists, it hasn’t gone away.

Image Credit: HypnoArt/Pixabay

Specifically referring to oil and coal companies, Stofan said:

“We are under siege by fake information that’s being put forward by people who have a profit motive. Fake news is so harmful because once people take on a concept it’s very hard to dislodge it. The harder part is this active disinformation campaign. I’m always wondering if these people honestly believe the nonsense they put forward. When they say ‘It could be volcanoes’ or ‘the climate always changes’… to obfuscate and to confuse people, it frankly makes me angry.”

The Future of News

Stofan asserted that this “erosion of people’s ability to scrutinize information” is not something limited to those leaning either to the right or left. This is a problem that we all face, and climate change isn’t going anywhere. Populations are increasing, as are the emissions that we are pumping into the atmosphere. Whether or not fake news sites spread misinformation, climate change is real and threatening life on planet Earth.

The effects of climate change aren’t mythical either. Towns are sinking, the Great Barrier Reef is doomed, the “doomsday” seed bunker has been threatened, sea levels are rising faster than we ever expected, and species are going extinct at alarming rates. The repercussions of climate change are varied, only going to increase in severity, and absolutely, undeniably real.

Paris Climate Agreement
Click to View Full Infographic

It can be difficult to distinguish between what’s real and fake when it comes to information online. But, when it comes to science, alternative facts do not exist. Any credible scientific topic covered should be able to be verified by multiple sources and true beyond a doubt. It might take us a little bit of extra time to be sure about the information that we absorb, share, and believe, but that extra time is what will make the difference. The important thing is, in Stofan’s words, “Job one is to keep this planet habitable. I’d hate us to lose focus on that.”

The post NASA’s Former Chief Scientist: America Is “Under Siege” from Fake Climate Change News appeared first on Futurism.

Drowning Communities

Isle de Jean Charles, a small island in southeastern Louisiana’s bayous, is drowning as the Gulf of Mexico rises. Twenty-nine homes remain, housing 100 people, but they are all being relocated because the flooding is unstoppable. The island has already lost 98% of its land since 1955, making it one of the most visible victims of climate change — so far. The residents can either leave their homes or die in them, and they are leaving.

“Now there’s just a little strip of land left,” resident Rita Falgout tells Quartz. “That’s all we have. There’s water all around us. I’m anxious to go.”

Residents of places like Isle de Jean Charles can compete for a chance to relocate through the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), a program organized by the federal government. The goal of the program is to help states and communities recover from disasters and lower risks from future disasters. However, the looming threats from climate change are growing, and affecting more and more communities; Louisiana alone is losing the equivalent of one football field’s worth of land every hour.

Concrete Proof

Climate change is affecting larger coastal areas in the U.S., from Alaska down to Florida and Louisiana. Climate-induced migration is now a concrete reality for citizens of our country, not an abstract idea for politicians to talk about. Research from a March 2016 study indicates that collapsing polar ice caps are likely to cause sea levels to rise by 6 feet (1.8 meters) by 2100; this will in turn force at least 13.1 million Americans living in coastal areas to become homeless. A less drastic rise of 3 feet would leave at least 4 million homeless.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

The only solution to these problems is combating climate change before it is too late. States like Hawaii are sticking with the Paris Accord goals, and various cities, states, and businesses are also banding together to maintain a commitment to this important issue, regardless of the action the federal government does or does not take. We can’t relocate everyone, and our window for making a difference is closing. Thankfully, the world isn’t giving up.

The post An Entire Town in the US Is Sinking Because of Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

“Make Our Planet Great Again”

Recently elected French president Emmanuel Macron has made his offer to U.S. climate scientists more official: the French government has launched a program that gives four-year grants to scientists, teachers, business people, and even students who are working on climate change solutions. Of course, to receive the grant, the individual must be willing to move in to France.

The program, called Make Our Planet Great Again, was inspired by a speech Macron gave last week in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States’ support and commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Where ever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility,” Macron said the speech,”Make our planet great again,” — an obvious play on President Trump’s campaign slogan.

“To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the President of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland,” Macron said. This echoes an earlier message the French president posted via video on Facebook almost a month before he was elected.

With this new initiative, France is affirming the importance of a combined global effort to combat climate change, which remains a global problem. It’s necessary to pool the minds of the world’s experts and to fund projects — particularly those devoted to research — aimed at curbing climate change. As Macron said, it’s crucial for all of us “to work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment.”

The post France is Now Offering U.S. Scientists Grants to Research Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.


It’s been just two weeks since the last time the United Kingdom set new records in renewable energy. However, last May 26’s record was just with solar energy, and this week’s is for a combination of all the U.K.’s renewable energy resources.

According to the National Grid’s Control Room, solar, wind, and nuclear power each supplied more electricity than coal and gas combined at 1 p.m. on Wednesday (June 7) —  the first time such an event has occurred in the U.K. On the record-setting day, wind generated an estimated 9.5 gigawatts, nuclear power giving about 8.2 gigawatts, and solar contributing roughly 7.3 gigawatts. For reference, gas only provided some 7.2 gigawatts and coal did not generate any electricity at that time.

In another record, renewables such as wind, solar, biomass, and hydro also generated about 18.7 gigawatts combined. This was more than 50 percent of the nation’s total electricity demand, capable of powering about 13.5 million homes.


Amazingly Disruptive

Although the record-breaking figures didn’t last long, it’s a sign of things to come. For one, it showed that renewable energy can sufficiently supply the electricity needs of a country — provided they be given the opportunity. Last Tuesday’s breakthrough was, indeed, because of a such an opportunity.

According to Aurora Research Energy, at the time when the renewables took flight, the U.K. was experiencing (for the first time) negative prices in its “day ahead” electricity market. This meant that wind power was supplying more then 40 percent of the country’s electricity generation. As The Independent reported, that’s a testament to how renewables could reduce electric bills.

Aside from its economic benefits, the environmental consequences would be undeniable. Dependence on renewable energy entirely would mean little to no carbon emissions. For any nation, that’s definitely a huge step forward in reducing planet warming gasses in the ongoing fight to curb climate change.

The post Renewable Energy Smashes U.K. Records, Supplying Over 50% of the Country’s Electricity appeared first on Futurism.

It’s been a great week for Tesla. The company has been enjoying favorable coverage in the news cycle — from its highly successful launch of pre-orders for their solar roofing technology to a number of exciting developments they announced  at their shareholder’s meeting. Now, the company’s stock prices are reaping the benefits: Fred Lambert at Electrek reports that as of Thursday, Tesla’s stock reached an intraday high of $360 per share — setting the valuation of the company at $60 billion.

This healthy trend has led to the company being added to the Fortune 500 list for the first time. Currently, Tesla is listed at the 383rd position on the list.

Image credit: TeslaImage Credit: Tesla[/caption]This most recent surge is likely thanks to the strong focus on the future the company displayed at their shareholder’s meeting. Tesla has a clear vision for its future and a solid plan to get them there, and their list of upcoming projects is exciting enough to keep interest in the company’s workings high. The world is readily awaiting the arrival of the first solar roofing tiles, a new Tesla car model, and the Tesla Semi, as well as a host of new Gigafactories (which may be going international) to ramp up production and help meet the high demand.

The post Tesla Just Landed on the Fortune 500 List for the First Time appeared first on Futurism.

Trump’s Solar Wall

President Trump has proposed using solar panels in the construction of a wall along the 3,200 kilometer (1,988 miles) border separating Mexico and America — a key point in his election campaign. According to three individuals who have direct knowledge of the meeting with Republican leaders, Trump claimed he wanted to cover the wall segments with solar panels so they’d be “beautiful structures.”

Trump cited the wall’s economic benefits as well as its environmental ones. Thomas Gleason, managing partner of Gleason Partners LLC, the company that proposed the design, told Business Insider that each solar panel on the wall would produce 2.0MWp per hour of electricity, and, because of this, the wall would pay off the cost of its construction in 20 years through the energy it sells.

See Images of the Solar-Paneled Border Wall Trump Pitched to Republican Leaders
A close up of the wall’s solar panels. Image Credit: Gleason Partners LLC

The cost of solar panels has decreased rapidly over the last nine years, from around $8 per watt in 2009 to roughly $1.50 per watt in 2016, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and Gleason believes the cost will continue to diminish over time.

See Images of the Solar-Paneled Border Wall Trump Pitched to Republican Leaders
Image Credit: SEIA and GTM Research

While the bottom of the wall would still be built out of stone, the solar panels situated on the Mexico-facing side would be double tiered, with the upper layer moving to capture maximum sunlight.

See Images of the Solar-Paneled Border Wall Trump Pitched to Republican Leaders
A cross-section of the Mexico side of Trump’s proposed solar-paneled border wall with Mexico. Image Credit: Gleason Partners LLC
See Images of the Solar-Paneled Border Wall Trump Pitched to Republican Leaders
Image Credit: Gleason Partners LLC
See Images of the Solar-Paneled Border Wall Trump Pitched to Republican Leaders
The upper tier of the wall moving to maximize sunlight given the uneven terrain. Image Credit: Gleason Partners LLC

Solar Power and America

Though any wall between Mexico and the United States is likely to still be controversial, one equipped with solar panels would have benefits on both a small and large scale. It would provide those on both sides of the border, which is currently underserved by electricity companies, with greater access to power. On a larger scale, it would contribute to the amount of electricity the U.S. generates from clean energy sources, which would in turn contribute to fighting climate change.

The World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Opinions on the proposal are split.

Wunder Capital CEO Bryan Birsic told Business Insider, “While we would prefer a different location and purpose for a large solar installation, we strongly support all additional generation of clean power in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, Nezar AlSayyad, a UC Berkeley professor of architecture and planning, told The Guardian that the wall was still “indefensible” and that “trying to embellish it with a technical function or a new utility … is a folly.” Political theorist Langdon Winner was even more outspoken in his criticism: “I’m wondering what the solar electricity would be used for? Electrocuting people who try to climb the wall?”

Although the wall itself is controversial, any move by the U.S. government to promote solar energy is positive as it would lessen the country’s own carbon footprint and help the world combat climate change.

The post Donald Trump Proposes Covering Mexican Border Wall With Solar Panels appeared first on Futurism.

Tuesday was a historic moment for Hawaii as it became the first state in the U.S. to make its stand on the Paris Climate Agreement formal. The Pacific state signed two bills to honor the climate deal after the federal government’s decision to withdraw from it. In his statement during the signing of the two bills, Hawaii governor David Ige said that he’s looking “forward to working with other states to fight global climate change.”

Governor Ige signed Senate Bill 559 which would “ensure statewide support for Hawaii’s green initiatives and to further the State’s commitment to combat climate change by systematically reducing and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through the enactment of principles that mirror many of the provisions adopted in the Paris Agreement.”

Image credit: Governor David Ige/Facebook
Image Credit: Governor David Ige / Facebook

The governor also signed House Bill 1578, which creates a task force to help keep Hawaii’s soil and air clean. It would “identify agricultural and aquacultural practices to improve soil health and promote carbon sequestration — the capture and long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide to mitigate climate change.”

Hawaii isn’t the only state that pledged to uphold the guidelines set by the Paris Agreement. Several governors and a dozen mayors across the U.S. have promised to do the same. “The Hawaii State Legislature understands the importance of taking action, and I applaud its work this session to ensure that we continue to deliver the island Earth that we want to leave to our children,” Ige said.

The post Blazing a Trail: Hawaii Becomes the First U.S. State to Commit to the Paris Climate Accords appeared first on Futurism.

Environmental Master Builders

The LEGO Group has built the world’s largest wind turbine out of its popular little bricks. The company didn’t just do it to land a Guinness World Records title, though. The LEGO wind turbine was how the toy company chose to celebrate reaching its energy target of being powered 100 percent by renewable sources three years ahead of schedule.

The effort was four years in the making and involved two offshore wind farm investments worth DKK 6 billion (roughly $904 million). The completion and opening on May 17 of the 258-megawatt Burbo Bank Extension wind farm — 25 percent of which is owned by KIRKBI A/S, LEGO’s parent company — helped LEGO achieve its target.

“We work to leave a positive impact on the planet, and I am truly excited about the inauguration of the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm. This development means we have now reached the 100% renewable energy milestone three years ahead of target,” said LEGO Group CEO Bali Padda in a press release. “Together with our partners, we intend to continue investing in renewable energy to help create a better future for the builders of tomorrow.”

One Piece at a Time

LEGO joins the growing number of companies — including Intel, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Apple — already making huge strides toward the goal of 100 percent independence from non-renewable sources of energy. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft are also racing to becoming more dependent on renewables. In fact, the RE100 global initiative includes 96 of these committed companies.

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

Private institutions aren’t the only ones striving for cleaner energy, though, as a number of nations are also determined to meet their clean energy goals. Despite the United States’ controversial decision to extract itself from the Paris Agreement, individual states remain firm in their commitments to renewable energy.

Just like building with LEGO bricks, independence from fossil fuels starts with one piece at a time, growing bigger as those pieces come together. The popular children’s brand hopes that their example will inspire young people to do their part in the future. “We see children as our role models, and as we take action in reducing our environmental impact as a company, we will also continue to work to inspire children around the world by engaging them in environmental and social issues,” said Padda.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated. Previous versions listed the incorrect USD conversion. 

The post LEGO Just Hit Their 100% Renewable Energy Goal 3 Years Ahead of Schedule appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla’s new Vice President of Solar Products is aggressively confident about his company’s solar roofing product. In a recent interview with Austin Carr from Fast Company, the former CTO and co-founder of  SolarCity, acquired by Tesla, said that the Tesla/SolarCity combo is the only one that can pull off the technology successfully. He said, “If you just created a solar shingle, you’re kind of f****d. I don’t think anybody but the combination of SolarCity and Tesla can pull this off.”

Orders for the technology have been through the roof (pun intended), selling out well into the next year. Still, none of these pre-orders have shipped, so we will have to wait to see if the technology actually does live up to the hype.

Image credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Tesla
The market may not be saturated with competition, but it does exist. Fred Lambert at Electrek discusses Forward Labs‘ offering which was announced shortly before Tesla unveiled their roofing tech. Their tech is modeled after steel roofing, which is an entirely different market than Tesla’s products would serve. Both technologies still have to prove themselves, but Tesla’s option does have a leg up with its vertical integration capabilities. Tesla’s technology fully integrates into their home battery storage systems, the Powerpack and the Powerwall.

The post Tesla’s VP of Solar Products Claims Their Competitors Don’t Stand a Chance appeared first on Futurism.

South Korea’s Green Energy Future

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has announced a turnaround in the country’s energy policy, which is now headed toward a greener future. By 2030 the country  (which currently gets 70 percent of its electricity from thermal and nuclear sources) plans to increase its use of natural gas from 18 percent to 27 percent and make renewables account for 20 percent — a 15 percent increase from today’s proportion which is only 5 percent.

These changes would be at the expense of the coal and nuclear energy sectors, which currently account for 40 percent and 30 percent, respectively, of the country’s energy. The current plan would reduce both by 21.6 percent.

President Moon plans to implement the policy by transferring the current subsidies on both sectors to the renewable energy industry. He also plans to place high taxes on coal and nuclear power, review the construction of upcoming coal and nuclear facilities, and freeze outputs at old coal plants.

Worldwide Change

The new policies announced by South Korea are part of what, ostensibly, is a positive worldwide shift in attitudes towards climate change — with the exception of U.S. President Trump’s recent decision, perhaps. Elsewhere in the world China —although still the biggest producer of C02 emissions — is making rapid progress towards decreasing their pollution, to the extent that by 2030 the country is expected to produce more energy from green sources than the entire U.S energy sector does today.

Likewise, the United Kingdom recently increased the amount of power supplied by solar power to 24 percent (a record), and India decided to abandon the construction of more nuclear power plants, instead planning to derive most of its energy from solar sources, particularly utilizing the India One Solar Thermal Power Plant.

As South Korea and many other nations around the world have figured out, to combat climate change, the combination country-by-country transitions to green energy sources and sticking to pledges made as part of the Paris Agreement will be vital to our global success.

The post South Korea Just Announced a Major Energy Policy Move appeared first on Futurism.

An Annual Update

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is a showman, perhaps on par with Apple’s Steve Jobs when it comes to big reveals during public appearances.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

His usual platform is Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, but yesterday, he didn’t deliver much by way of reveals. Still, Musk did paint the general direction Tesla would be taking in the next several months while addressing the shareholders and responding to questions from Twitter.

If you missed the livestream of the presentation, don’t fret. Here’s everything you need to know from it.

An SUV, a Semi, and…an Airplane?

Musk mentioned three upcoming vehicles that Tesla has been working on: the Model 3, the Model Y, and an electric semi truck (that last one’s so exciting it deserved an article all to itself).

The Model 3 is expected to be released by the end of the month, and Musk emphasized the vehicle’s relative simplicity. “I should say that we’ve kept the initial configurations of the Model 3 very simple,” said the CEO. “A big mistake we made with the X, which is primarily my responsibility — there was way too much complexity right at the beginning. That was very foolish.”

Attendees were then treated to a first look at the Model Y, Tesla’s electric crossover SUV. The image is decidedly lacking in detail, so we still have very little to go on with this model, but we do know that it’s slated for a 2019 release and would be built on a completely new platform. In fact, Tesla would build an entirely new factory for its production.

Oh, and an electric plane somewhere down the road is also not “inconceivable,” according to Musk.

*5* Here’s What Elon Musk Talked About at Tuesday’s Shareholder’s Meeting

Autopilot Updates

Musk also offered updates on Tesla’s Autopilot, claiming that the company will be rolling out improvements to the system for its Hardware 2 vehicles. Since its split with Mobileye — the Israeli software maker responsible for the earlier versions of Tesla’s self-driving system — Tesla has been developing its own semi-autonomous software. While some consumers have had some issues with the autonomous system in Tesla’s new vehicles, Musk said that it’s now almost better than the Mobileye version.

Tesla Music?

Usually, after Musk points out a problem, he shares a solution for it (see: traffic and the Boring Company). At yesterday’s meeting, Musk shared his criticisms of today’s music algorithms and playlist quality, and in typical Musk fashion, he plans to do something about it. He says Tesla will release a music service or feature later this year, and “it’s gonna be the music you want to listen to.”

A Busy Man

After being asked about how he spends his time, Musk made reference to his late-night tweets. He admitted that he would “sometimes go crazy” on Twitter, but he blames it on music, wine, and a sedative. “You know, [when] there’s a little red wine, a vintage record player, some Ambien. Magic. Magic happens,” he said, later echoing the sentiment (where else?) in a tweet.

Musk also explained that he generally spends 90 percent of his time working on Tesla and SpaceX, while dividing the rest between Neuralink (3 to 5 percent), the Boring Company (2 percent), and Open AI (less than 2 percent).

Something More in September

Like a true showman, Musk was sure to include a cliffhanger in his presentation to keep the people wanting mroe. “There’s a few other things I haven’t mentioned here. I just like, really recommend showing up for the semi truck unveiling,” he said. “Maybe there’s a little more than we’re saying here. Maybe. Could be. Who knows?”

The post Here’s Everything You Missed From Tesla’s Annual Shareholder Meeting appeared first on Futurism.

Yesterday, CEO Elon Musk shared details about future Tesla products at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Perhaps most exciting of all was what he had to say about Tesla’s forthcoming electric semi truck.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

“A lot of people don’t think you can do a heavy-duty, long-range truck that’s electric, but we’re confident that this can be done, so we’ll be showing off a working prototype … at the end of September,” he told an enthusiastic audience.

Tesla has already shown the prototype to a number of buyers in the industry, and “they’ve all loved it,” according to Musk. “They want to know how many they can buy, and how soon,” the CEO claims.

Musk told shareholders that potential buyers were getting “closely” involved in the final stages of the design process to ensure that Tesla’s electric semi will be “specified to their needs.” He continued, “So, it’s not a mystery; they already know that it’s going to meet their needs…because they’ve told us what those needs are, so it’s really just going to be a question of scaling volume to make as many as we can.”

It seems that long-haul trucking will have a new, electric option in just three short months, and really, we need that option as soon as possible. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heavy duty trucks account for roughly 20 percent of the U.S. transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and oil use, and they’re on track to be the country’s primary source of such emissions by 2030. Replacing those vehicles with ones powered by electricity will go a long way toward alleviate their burden on the environment.

The post Elon Musk: Tesla Will Reveal a Working Prototype of the Electric Semi in September appeared first on Futurism.

Coal Will Kill

Among the repercussions of the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement could be continued reliance on coal-burning plants for American power needs. This comes despite recent efforts to do the opposite in several states. Setting aside the comparative expense of coal and the greenhouse gases produced by its use, are there any other arguments against using this fossil fuel?

Yes — the fact that continued reliance on coal will cost about 52,000 American lives per year, according to a recent study from the Michigan Technological University, published in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. The researchers, Joshua Pearce and Emily Prehoda, calculated the number of deaths caused in past years by coal air pollution for every state. They then used those numbers to project future deaths caused by coal power plants at the rates they are used today.

As recent estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that around 51,000 Americans work for the coal industry, the researchers argue that it kills more American per year than it employs.

Insisting on Coal-Fire Power Plants Won’t Save American Lives, Study Shows

This data seems to go against what U.S. President Donald Trump said when he justified withdrawing from the Paris climate deal in a press conference, framing it as the fulfillment of his “solemn duty to protect America and its citizens.”

A Safer, Solar Alternative

The study’s authors argue for increasing U.S. reliance on solar power as a way to keep Americans healthy. Solar power not only has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives every year, but it is also showing more promise of bringing jobs to the U.S. than coal is.

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
Click to View Full Infographic

Already, there are more Americans employed in the solar industry compared to those in coal-fire plants, as well as those working in Google, Apple, and Facebook combined. So, the case for renewable energy, particularly solar power, is a safety and economic one. Apart from these, solar energy is also becoming cheaper worldwide, with wind energy catching up quickly.

With several of the world’s nations, including Great Britain, SpainChina, the UAE, and India, already pushing for renewable energy sources and benefiting from it, it’s hard to understand why the U.S. remains intent on taking a different path. We’re all for pushing the country’s interests. But won’t moving away from coal and towards solar energy be a better way of accomplishing that?

The post Coal Power Is Taking the Lives of 52,000 Americans Every Year, According to Study appeared first on Futurism.

Air Maps

Natural gas may be cleaner burning than other fossil fuels like coal, but leaking methane can cause issues much more serious than those we are mitigating. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), “…methane leaking during the production, delivery, and use of natural gas has the potential to undo much of the greenhouse gas benefits we think we’re getting when natural gas is substituted for other fuels.”

A partnership between the EDF and Google has uncovered more than 5,500 leaks since trials began in 2012. Equipping Google’s fleet of Street View cars with an array of low-cost sensors has allowed the EDF to collect enough data to make maps of methane leaks for 11 cities.

Methane leaks in Boston. Image source: EDFMethane leaks in Boston. Image source: EDF

Identifying these leaks could have a huge impact on climate change, as the EDF reports that “methane is more than 100 times more potent at trapping energy than carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal contributor to man-made climate change.” Even more, its conversion to CO2 makes methane “84 times more potent after 20 years and 28 times more potent after 100 years.”

Google (Clean) Cloud

The maps can help utility companies prioritize the allocation of resources to better address these leaks. Also, the partnership has expanded the scope of their efforts by measuring overall air quality. Two years after the initial program began, the Street View fleet was equipped with a “Environmental Intelligence” mobile platform.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Defending the Earth from climate change has been an uphill battle for decades. The recent move from the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is only the latest example of this unfortunate reality.

However, efforts similar to that of Google and the EDF are helping people to understand of the problem climate change, ultimately leading to numbers like 70 percent of Americans supporting the Paris accord. These maps can equip environmental activists with hyperlocalized data enabling them to target specific problem areas in their communities. Such localized efforts can have big impacts despite apathy on the national level.

The post Google Street View Cars Are Now Helping Us Fight Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

Go With The Flow

Purdue researchers have developed technology for an “instantly rechargeable” battery that is affordable, environmentally friendly, and safe. Currently, electric vehicles need charging ports in convenient locations to be viable, but this battery technology would allow drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles to charge up much like drivers of conventional cars refill quickly and easily at gas stations.

This breakthrough would not only speed the switch to electric vehicles by making them more convenient to drive, but also reduce the amount of new supportive infrastructure needed for electric cars dramatically. Purdue University professors John Cushman and Eric Nauman teamed up with doctoral student Mike Mueterthies to co-found Ifbattery LLC (IF-battery) for commercializing and developing the technology.

Image Credit: John Cushman/Purdue
Image Credit: John Cushman/Purdue

The new model is a flow battery, which is not does not require an electric charging station to be recharged. Instead, all the users have to do is replace the battery’s fluid electrolytes — rather like filling up a tank. This battery’s fluids from used batteries, all clean, inexpensive, and safe, could be collected and recharged at any solar, wind, or hydroelectric plant. Electric cars using this technology would arrive at the refueling station, deposit spent fluids for recharging, and “fill up” like a traditional car might.

Cleaner, Faster Battery Technology

This flow battery system is unique because, unlike other versions of the flow battery, this one lacks the membranes which are both costly and vulnerable to fouling. “Membrane fouling can limit the number of recharge cycles and is a known contributor to many battery fires,” Cushman said in a press release. “Ifbattery’s components are safe enough to be stored in a family home, are stable enough to meet major production and distribution requirements, and are cost effective.”

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Transitioning existing infrastructure to accommodate cars using these batteries would be far simpler than designing and building a host of new charging stations — which is Tesla’s current strategy. Existing pumps could even be used for these battery chemicals, which are very safe.

“Electric and hybrid vehicle sales are growing worldwide and the popularity of companies like Tesla is incredible, but there continues to be strong challenges for industry and consumers of electric or hybrid cars,” Cushman said in the press release. “The biggest challenge for industry is to extend the life of a battery’s charge and the infrastructure needed to actually charge the vehicle.”

When can we expect to see these batteries in use? The biggest hurdle isn’t the materials, which are cheap and plentiful, but person power. The researchers still need more financing to complete research and development to put the batteries into mass production. To overcome this problem, they’re working to publicize the innovation in the hopes of drawing interest from investors.

The post New “Instantly Rechargeable” Battery Deals a Fatal Blow to Fossil Fuels appeared first on Futurism.

Rethinking Data Storage

Nerdalize, a Dutch startup, has found a practical use for the huge amount of energy wasted in the cloud storage sector. They’re installing cloud servers in households and using the heat to warm water.

According to the company’s website, “Combined, data centers use up more electricity than India and generate more CO2 emissions than the airline industry.” A significant proportion of this electricity is used to cool servers, so rather than attempt to negate this heat, Nerdalize decided to develop a beneficial way to use it to heat water is people’s homes.

Through this system, Nerdalize will make a profit by selling data space; homeowners will save an estimated €300 ($337) a year in heating costs; and companies will save 50 percent on their data storage expenses. Beyond the financial benefit, the system also reduces the carbon emissions of each house by up to three tons.

While some logistical aspects of the system may prove trickier than others — such as maintaining the security of the servers and fixing them when they break — the idea has proven wildly popular. A second pilot trial will start in 42 homes in August, and the company’s Symbid crowdfunding campaign far exceeded its target with weeks to spare.

The Green Revolution

Renewable Energy Sources Of The Future [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

The tech elite have pioneered a number of high-profile systems to combat climate change, from Elon Musk’s electric cars and solar panel roofs to Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures. However, the tech world also has a whacky and innovative underbelly of which Nerdalize is a good example.

Students and startups, researchers and renegades are coming up with wonderful ideas. NET Power, formed by a retired chemist, a lawyer, and a chemical engineer, has found a way to use C02 emissions to produce energystudents from the Université Laval have developed a car that gets 2,713 miles to the gallon, and the creators of the Mashambas Skyscraper plan to use it to grow food tens of stories above the ground.

We clearly need a green energy revolution, and the only way to get there is to incorporate as many revolutionary ideas as possible. The innovative concepts proposed by companies like Nerdalize are vital for the future of our planet.

The post A New Trial Is Using Data Servers to Heat Homeowners’ Water Supplies appeared first on Futurism.

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A New Age In Energy?

As with most energy and cost efficient power alternatives, there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding solar energy — even when we’re faced with hard facts outlining their benefits. Consider the fact that it took nearly 30 years for fluorescent light bulb (also known as CFL) sales and dependency to rise, as Americans were unwilling to switch over from incandescent bulbs until 2010.

Tried and true sustainable products often sit on the market for a while before they become “trendy enough” to be purchased. But now, thanks to some promising developments from Tesla,(including some slicker-than-expected solar panel roofs) the value and importance of solar power is finally getting the momentum it so critically needs.

The World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

These moves are important because, not only is solar power cost effective, it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, which is an imperative issue we need to tackle. Humanity’s current net emission is

Humanity’s current net emission is 37 gigatonnes of CO₂, meaning we’ll need a reduction of at least 700 gigatonnes to keep global warming within safe limits. By switching over to solar power, we reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by over 37 million metric tons. And while it might be hard to see past your own finances, switching to solar power saves the United States over $400 billion in healthcare and environmental cleanup costs. But back to your wallet: solar panels pay for themselves in six to 15 years and increase the resale value of a house by about $15,000.

But solar power technology is nothing new. In fact, a similar standard of today’s models has been around since the 1960s. And since that time, panels have only become more efficient, more dynamic, and more attractive. So, what’s taken us so long to consider the switch?

Making A Change

It’s the myths that deter people from trusting in the technology. Most commonly, potential consumers worry that solar panels will not work in cold or cloudy climates. The truth is, they’re highly functional in cold climates, as conductivity is increased at colder temperatures. And, Germany, a country that receives half as much Sun as the sunniest city in the United States, has the most successful solar power system in the world.

Now that Tesla has shown us how chic the solar panel roof of the future will look, skeptical homeowners will be more likely to make that change.

If you’re curious about the potential to save money and the planet, check out a solar power advocate like Understand Solar and get a proper estimate for your home. When faced with the facts, it’s hard to see it any other way: solar power roofs are essential investments for your home and the future. Fill out a cost estimate form and get access to exclusive deals in your area, and a fast and easy estimate to get things started.

The post Solar Power Has Finally Proven That It’s The Energy Source of the Future appeared first on Futurism.

Modi Makes Statement

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi vowed today that his country will not only stick with the 2015 Paris Accord, but will go “above and beyond” its goals aimed at fighting climate change, selling only electric cars throughout the country within 13 years, for example. Attending a news conference today with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Modi made his remarks as he described the accord as part of “our duty to protect Mother Earth.”

The agreement commits 195 countries including the U.S. — every country in the world except war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, who argued the agreement was not strong enough — to ensure that global temperatures remain “well below” 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, and “endeavor to limit” them to 1.5ºC. India’s commitment is critical to the agreement’s success, as it is currently the world’s fourth-biggest producer of carbon emissions, after China, the U.S., and the EU.

Global Consensus (Almost)

Multiple world leaders have both reaffirmed their nations’ commitments to the agreement and criticized President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. The EU, Canada, and China have confirmed their commitments, while Canada expressed disappointment in Trump’s choice. President Macron of France characterized Mr. Trump’s decision as a “mistake both for the US and for our planet.” 

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

On Friday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said his country would cooperate with European leaders who “worry about global uncertainty,” in the wake of the decision. At the same conference, EU Council President Donald Tusk referred to a joint statement from the EU and China promising to “step up” efforts to fight climate change, including the raising of $100 billion annually by 2020 to support reducing emissions in poorer countries: “China and Europe have demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet.”

Mr. Modi’s views appear to be in tandem with those of other world leaders, along with much of the U.S. at the state and local levels, as well as corporate America. After his meeting with Mr. Macron, Mr. Modi indicated that India and France had “worked shoulder to shoulder” on the Paris accord, and emphasized in the same press conference that both nations see it as critically important for all nations. “The Paris agreement is the common heritage of the world. It is a gift that this generation can give.”

The post World Leaders Respond to Trump’s Decision to Remove the U.S. From Paris Accord appeared first on Futurism.

Africa’s water crisis is getting worse. This non-profit is taking that very seriously.

The post Well Aware Helps Communities Get Clean Water appeared first on Futurism.

A $15 Million Pledge

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised up to $15 million toward the U.S.’s share of the Paris climate accord financial commitment. The businessman, who is also an envoy to the UN on climate change, says lack of cooperation from the federal government will not stop the U.S. from meeting its carbon reduction goals, and pledges to support the UN’s climate change work using his Bloomberg Philanthropies foundation.

Image Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies/Flickr
Image Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies/Flickr

“Americans are not walking away from the Paris climate agreement,” Bloomberg said in a press release. “Just the opposite — we are forging ahead. Mayors, governors, and business leaders from both political parties are signing onto a statement of support that we will submit to the UN, and together, we will reach the emission reduction goals the U.S. made in Paris in 2015. As a sign of our commitment, Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with others, will make up the approximately $15 million in funding that the U.N.’s Climate Secretariat stands to lose from Washington. Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up — and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us.”

According to the statement, the $15 million will assist other countries in implementing their Paris accord commitments.

Unified Resistance

Bloomberg is in good company, joining many Americans who have spoken out against the U.S. withdrawal. Governors of four states, along with numerous of mayors, heads of corporations, and university presidents are pledging to meet Paris accord climate change goals. The coalition plans to ask the UN to accept their own document as if they were a national government.

“We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed,” Bloomberg told The New York Times. If they do, they will have a significant impact on carbon emissions and climate change. Major cities have both the most to offer climate change programs and the most to lose if global warming is not abated; more than 90% of urban areas are coastal, and these are the places that can cut down on pollution by implementing green transit plans and capping emissions.

“One man cannot destroy our progress,” former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a video statement. “One man can’t stop our clean energy revolution.”

The post Michael Bloomberg Says the U.N. Will Get the $15 Million to Fulfill Paris Agreement appeared first on Futurism.

Carbon Tax Is Critical

On Monday, May 29, leading economists warned that unless nations around the world boost carbon taxes to as much as $100 per metric ton, the world risks global warming at “catastrophic” levels within only thirteen years. The group of experts includes former chief economist of the World Bank, Nicholas Stern, and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. The economists stated that by 2020, governments would need to tax carbon dioxide at $40 to $80 per ton, increasing to $100 per ton by 2030 at the latest to avoid a 2°C rise in global temperatures.

The opinion was part of a report from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank backed High Level Commission on Carbon Prices, which suggested that the more vulnerable economies of poor countries could aim for lower taxes, but that the overall upward trend would need to happen quickly, and all over the world. This shift will be central to meeting the Paris Agreement goals.

European leaders, while supportive of the Paris goals, have coasted since 2005 with a carbon trading plan that lets major polluters slide, paying €6 ($6.71) for every ton of carbon they pump into the air. Of course that’s more than the U.S. is doing; the country has taken the position that carbon tax of any kind is dangerous to American jobs and cannot be supported. Whether the taxes are too low or non-existent, the criticism is the same: it is cheaper to pollute than to change behavior.

Image Credit: jodylehigh/Pixabay
Image Credit: jodylehigh/Pixabay

Curbing Climate Change

Other ideas for curbing climate change are out there; the carbon tax isn’t the only answer, although almost all experts agree that it is a necessary part of the answer. Industrialists like Elon Musk agree; Musk has characterized the era of tax-free carbon the “dumbest experiment in history.” Experts also agree that reducing carbon emissions isn’t enough. Carbon sinks like forests must also be preserved so that carbon dioxide can be absorbed.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Farmers need to do their part in the fight against climate change by adopting environmentally-friendly farming practices, such as eliminating tillage, extending crop rotations, or planting cover crops. Researchers are now proving that AI can help fight climate change by finding ways to reduce energy demand and the most energy-efficient options for energy use. Finally, experts have shown that by restoring degraded soils and forests and reducing logging and other unsustainable uses of wooded areas in the U.S., we can increase our forests’ rate and ability to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The bottom line is that all of these efforts are necessary, and that climate change is at a critical point now — and so is humanity.

The post Carbon Tax Should Be Sky-High to Avoid Climate Disaster, Experts Say appeared first on Futurism.

An Inconvenient Decision

Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement dealt a major blow to combating the irrefutable reality of climate change. Given that the U.S. is the world’s largest economy and the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases, it will set progress back significantly. Shocking figures and statistics — like sea levels rising faster than previously thought and rivers drying up in a matter of days — are reported terrifyingly frequently: therefore, keeping climate change in the public eye, maintaining debate concerning it, and informing people of its cost despite the White House’s stance is vital.

Al Gore giving his updated presentation in Houston, TX in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power from Paramount Pictures and Participant Media.

Al Gore, former Vice President and world-famous climate change campaigner, responded to the news by stating:

Removing the United States from the Paris Agreement is a reckless and indefensible action. It undermines America’s standing in the world and threatens to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time. But make no mistake: if President Trump won’t lead, the American people will.

Civic leaders, mayors, governors, CEOs, investors, and the majority of the business community will take up this challenge. We are in the middle of a clean energy revolution that no single person or group can stop. President Trump’s decision is profoundly in conflict with what the majority of Americans want from our president; but no matter what he does, we will ensure that our inevitable transition to a clean energy economy continues.

Gore’s stress on collective action has proven valid: states, companies, and individuals have rallied to show their support for the Paris Agreement. Apple, Elon Musk, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among many, many others, have all said words to the effect of, as Tim Cook said in an email to all employees, “We will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.”

An Inconvenient Sequel

On July 28, Al Gore is releasing a sequel to his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which will be directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk. The trailer for the film begins with a clip of Trump refuting global warming. The first film contributed hugely to bringing the effects of pollution into the public eye: Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace, said that “it wasn’t until An Inconvenient Truth that the issue tipped over into popular consciousness” and that it “gave celebrities and business leaders the social license to speak out against climate change.”

The sequel will continue the first’s work and follow its general format, mixing Al Gore’s public lectures with behind-the-scenes footage and clips of the horrendous damage climate change is doing to our planet. While it is damning about several aspects of modern industry, it is also optimistic and reveals how close we may be to a “real energy revolution” — indeed, several promising avenues of change have opened in recent months, including prices of renewable energy sources falling rapidly, the world’s largest floating solar plant coming online, and renewable energy sources breaking records frequently.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

If we want to seriously combat climate change, collective information is as important as collective action — films like Gore’s are vital if we are to teach as many people as possible about climate change, as they provide a counter discourse to the misinformation being propagated by Trump.

The post An Inconvenient Truth: Man-Made Climate Change Is Real appeared first on Futurism.

United States Climate Alliance

The largest states in the nation have formed the United States Climate Alliance, taking charge of climate change leadership for the U.S. The announcement comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s Thursday announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change, which caused waves of protest both in the U.S. and abroad, as well as statements of renewed commitment from India, China, and other countries around the world. Now, Americans are working to circumvent the fallout from Trump’s announcement and ensure that the U.S. continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the Paris goals regardless of federal action (or inaction).

Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York, Jerry Brown of California, and Jay Inslee of Washington have announced the formation of United States Climate Alliance, a partnership between states committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and upholding the Paris Agreement.

Woman hikes through Olympic National Park in Washington. Image credit: Jordan Siemens/Getty
Woman hikes through Olympic National Park in Washington. Image credit: Jordan Siemens/Getty

“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet. This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change,” Cuomo told Business Insider. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

According to the World Resources Institute, if the three U.S. states that comprise the United States Climate Alliance and support the Paris Agreement were a single country, their economy would be the fifth-largest in the world. They’d also be the sixth-largest producer of carbon emissions in the world. That being said, they have ample reason to participate in the accord, and their actions in support of it would undeniably have a significant impact.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Keeping The Pressure On

Meanwhile, mayors of more than 85 American cities signed a letter the same day President Trump made his announcement, confirming the commitment of their cities to promoting clean energy and reducing emissions. According to Business Insider‘s Dana Varinsky, “In the US, cities and surrounding areas are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, since they have the largest populations, heaviest industry and highest volume of cars. Because of that, they are in a position to make a big impact.”

Many U.S. corporations from companies like Apple, Exxon-Mobil, Microsoft, Google, Tesla, and Morgan Stanley have also openly urged the President to support the accord and indicated that they will continue to support its goals. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has pledged $15 million to help make up the U.S.’s previously promised share under the agreement. At this point, only time will tell how hard states, municipalities, and private companies will work to achieve the Paris goals, and how much pushback they will get from the administration if they do.

If Bloomberg’s position is any indication of how American businesses will approach the situation, we will likely keep seeing notable commitments across the board:

“Americans are not walking away from the Paris Climate Agreement,” Bloomberg said in a press release. “Just the opposite – we are forging ahead. Mayors, governors, and business leaders from both political parties are signing onto a statement of support that we will submit to the UN – and together, we will reach the emission reduction goals the U.S. made in Paris in 2015. Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us.”

The post Three U.S. States Form Climate Change Alliance in Light of Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Agreement appeared first on Futurism.

When news broke that President Donald Trump was planning to renege on the United States’ commitment to the Paris Agreement, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly made a phone call to the White House explaining why he thought it was a bad idea. Now that the U.S. has officially pulled out of the climate agreement, Cook felt he had to say something about it, this time via an email to all of Apple’s employees.

Could climate change transform Earth into Venus? [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

Fast Company obtained a copy of this email, and in it, Cook didn’t mince words. “I know many of you share my disappointment with the White House’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement,” he wrote. “Climate change is real, and we all share a responsibility to fight it.”

Apple is far from the only company to express alarm over Trump’s decision. Several large corporations, including Microsoft, Walmart, PepsiCo, General Motors, and Ford, have released statements affirming that climate change is a real problem that the world must address. Industry experts, including Mark Zuckerburg, Elon Musk, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, also voiced their concerns.

World leadershealth experts, and the majority of Americans support the Paris Agreement, and we all owe it to our planet to pursue the efforts addressed within the agreement. As Cook told his employees, “Our mission has always been to leave the world better than we found it. We will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.”

The post US States and Leaders in Innovation Commit to Uphold Paris Climate Accord, Despite Trump appeared first on Futurism.

The Hinwil Power Plant

Recently, on May 31st, the world’s first commercial carbon dioxide (CO2) capture plant was opened in Hinwil, Switzerland by Climeworks, using a scalable and modular design. The company hopes that the design features combined with its commercial potential will encourage other, similar plants to open. They “estimate around 250,000 DAC-plants like the one in Hinwil are necessary” to reach their target of capturing one percent of global emissions by 2025 (10 gigatonnes per year, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The plant will remove 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year by passing it through a proprietary filter, which is heated to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) to release the gas. The gas from the Hinwil station is then fed to nearby greenhouses to help plants grow, and could increase lettuce harvest yields by 20 percent. Climeworks claims that the CO2 could also be used by soft drink companies to carbonate drinks, and by energy companies to produce carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels and materials.

Integration into Strategy

This power plant has the potential to be a key ally in the fight against climate change because it provides a way to get rid of CO2 emissions. This allows us to minimize damage while producing energy, however, we must also work to repair what we have already done (and continue to do). This technology could be integrated into a wider plan with carbon-neutral fuels like nuclear, solar, and wind power.

And, as previously mentioned, this plant is also commercially viable, like renewable solutions like solar power have become. This is important because it does not force businesses to sacrifice profits in order to become more “green”. In fact, the CO2 produced by this plant could even be used by power plants to cleanly convert CO2 into methanol fuel.

The post The World’s First Commercial Carbon-Capture Plant Just Went Online appeared first on Futurism.

Doubling Their Efforts

Yesterday was a particularly glum day for climate scientists, with President Donald Trump withdrawing U.S. support for the Paris Climate Agreement, an action that resulted in the resignation of serial entrepreneur Elon Musk from his government advisory posts. The move was widely criticized by experts, other nations, and the majority of Americans as a major setback in the global fight against climate change.

But as the U.S. deals with these developments, the world’s second most populated nation is making its own set of changes, and it’s caught the attention of Musk.


The Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted an article posted by the World Economic Forum about India’s recent commitment to sell only electric cars in 13 years or sooner. Musk also noted, “It is already the largest market for solar power,” to highlight two separate efforts by India as it takes the fight against carbon emissions seriously. Both of these initiatives are indicative of the transformation India has recently been undergoing.

India’s Turn

Those who’ve seen that Leonardo DiCaprio documentary on climate change might remember that bit during the actor’s interview with India’s energy minister. After DiCaprio pointed out that India’s among the leading contributor for climate-warming gasses, the minister made a reply that stumped the actor.

She said that before talking about India, one has to look at the more developed nations and how they are serious about cutting down on their carbon footprint. Besides, India lives with what it has, and it couldn’t afford the alternative energy at that time.

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
Click to View Full Infographic

This no longer is the case, however, as India is finally working on means to change things. There’s the commitment to selling only electric vehicles, and more recently, India’s push for more renewable energy sources by scrapping a major coal project.

More promising still, the country now seems to be the biggest market for solar power with the opening of the world’s largest solar plant. Cost is no longer a problem for India to shift to renewable sources, with solar power now already cheaper than coal.

These efforts are vital to halting humanity’s negative impact on our world, according to environmental experts. Whatever the U.S.’s future involvement in the Paris accord may be, the nation must continue to transition to renewable energy if the globe is to avoid major repercussions from greenhouse gas emissions.

The post An End to Fossil Fuels: India Commits to Sell Only Electric Cars by 2030 appeared first on Futurism.

Musk Comments On China

On Thursday Elon Musk pushed back on some of President Donald Trump’s claims in the wake of the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Musk placed the new American stance in the context of the ongoing Chinese commitment to producing clean power in a tweet.


Musk is referring to a set of data on China’s current and predicted performance under the accord, which it has pledged to uphold. This information contradicts some of President Trump’s claims that the Paris agreement gives China a free pass to use fossil fuels.

In fact, China has already been outpacing the U.S. in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. According to The Washington Post, “[E]xperts now predict that China’s carbon emissions will peak, and then begin to decline, significantly earlier than the country’s 2030 target, and the country is investing more in renewable energy than any other nation in the world, pledging a further $360 billion by 2020.”

Impact Of Paris Withdrawal

The U.S. withdrawal will make it harder for the rest of the world to reach the Paris goals, not only because the U.S. produces about 15 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, but also because the nation has been an important source of energy technology and financing for developing countries. The dropping of the agreement will also likely have international diplomatic fallout, as nearly all other nations have agreed to the accord.

“No one should be left behind, but the EU and China have decided to move forward,” EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete told the BCC.

Sci-Tech Priorities in China’s Latest Five Year Plan
Click to View Full Infographic

Domestic problems may also arise. Corporate America has strongly supported the Paris accord, including tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Tesla, and even fossil fuel producers such as Exxon Mobil. This support is based in the recognition that the U.S. will be less competitive on the global stage when it loses its place at the negotiating table — which this withdrawal may ensure. Meanwhile, coal jobs will not be coming back, and industries like solar continue to grow.

In the end, emissions from the U.S. will keep falling, because the green energy paradigm shift can’t be stopped by a single person or political move. However, in the meantime, the U.S. may miss out on this critical opportunity to invest in renewable technology, and the world will struggle to meet the Paris goals in the fight to save our planet.

The post China Will Make as Much Clean Electricity by 2030 as the U.S. Does From All Sources Today appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk is a man of his word. After today’s announcement that the Trump administration is pulling out of the historic Paris climate agreement, Musk sent a tweet out confirming that he will be resigning from the presidential advisory councils on which he sits, as he promised yesterday.

Musk reiterated the idea that is rapidly being accepted by more and more deniers around the world: that climate change is real.

Yesterday, Musk also expressed that he has done all he could to dutifully advise the president on this matter, tweeting: “Don’t know which way Paris will go, but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain.”

According to a November 2016 poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, nearly 70 percent of Americans were in favor of the Paris agreement. The decision to remove the United States from the accords deals a significant blow to international efforts to reduce carbon emissions and quell or reverse the impact of climate change. This decision will also give China the opportunity to emerge as the world’s climate leader ahead of the U.S., as the country said prior to Trump’s decision that they intended to remain committed to the agreement.

Elon Musk’s Tesla is at the forefront of the clean energy revolution building popular electric vehicles, solar roofs, and battery packs to integrate energy consumption.

The post Elon Musk Just Made Good On His Word. He’s Officially Leaving Trump’s Council. appeared first on Futurism.

The CO2 Collector

Yesterday, the world’s first commercial carbon capture plant began sucking carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air around it. Perched atop a Zurich waste incineration facility, the Climeworks carbon capture plant comprises three stacked shipping containers that hold six CO2 collectors each. Spongey filters absorb CO2 as fans pull air through the collectors until they are fully saturated, a process that takes about two or three hours.

Technological Fixes for Climate Change
Click to View Full Infographic

The container then closes, and the process reverses. The collector is heated to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), and the pure CO2 is released in a form that can be buried underground, made into other products, or sold.

According to Climeworks, the startup that created this carbon capture facility, hundreds of thousands more like it will be needed by midcentury if we want to remain below the limits set by the Paris Agreement. However, to keep the planet’s temperature from increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), we’ll need to do something more than simply lowering global emissions.

“We really only have less than 20 years left at current emission rates to have a good chance of limiting emissions to less than 2°C,” Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment director Chris Field told Fast Company. “So it’s a big challenge to do it simply by decreasing emissions from energy, transportation, and agriculture.”

Reducing Global Emissions

Other innovative efforts to reduce global CO2 levels are already underway all over the world. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have found a way to turn captured carbon into concrete for building, while scientists from Rice University have found that doping graphene with nitrogen allows it to convert CO2 into environmentally useful fuels. If enacted, various proposals to preserve wetlands, old growth forests, and other areas could also reduce CO2 levels.

Climeworks’ plant is particularly appealing because it can be used repeatedly, produces something commercially useful, and is about 1,000 times more efficient at CO2 removal than photosynthesis.

“You can do this over and over again,” Climeworks director Jan Wurzbacher told Fast Company. “It’s a cyclic process. You saturate with CO2, then you regenerate, saturate, regenerate. You have multiple of these units, and not all of them go in parallel. Some are taking in CO2, some are releasing CO2.”

Even so, Field emphasizes that the possibility of carbon capture should not be seen as a license to emit more CO2. We need to combine the technology with a low-carbon economy to ensure our planet’s survival. “It’s not either/or,” according to Field. “It’s both.”

The post A Plant 1,000 Times More Efficient at CO2 Removal Than Photosynthesis Is Now Active appeared first on Futurism.

U.S. Withdraws From Paris

President Trump is officially withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, following through with his campaign promise. The 2015 climate change agreement committed almost every country to action intended to slow global warming, and this withdrawal seriously weakens it.

The administration’s official position is that U.S. participation in the Paris accord hurts the economy, and reports coming from the Washington Post assert that Tump has made the call: The U.S. will not participate in the Paris Accord. The memo follows:

“The Paris Accord is a BAD deal for Americans, and the President’s action today is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first. The Accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama Administration and signed out of desperation.”

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore/WikiCommons
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore/WikiCommons

This withdrawal is particularly troubling given that the U.S. is both the largest economy and the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. The absence of the U.S. might set a series of events in motion that could have major, irreversible effects on the planet as other countries choose to ignore their commitments to curbing pollution.

“The actions of the United States are bound to have a ripple effect in other emerging economies that are just getting serious about climate change, such as India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia,” Michael Oppenheimer told The New York Times. Oppenheimer is a member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a Princeton professor of geosciences and international affairs. Once the impact of U.S. withdrawal has sunk in, he continued, reaching extreme, irrevocable atmospheric conditions will be more probable: “it is now far more likely that we will breach the danger limit of 3.6 degrees.”

The World Carries On

Other countries, including the entire EU and China, have promised to adhere to the terms of the Paris accord, with or without the U.S. President Xi Jinping of China, the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas and, more recently, a major force in the fight against climate change, has promised that China will continue its aggressive program to curb climate change. Mr. Xi has spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron and agreed that the two nations “should protect the achievements of global governance, including the Paris agreement.”

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

This example highlights the precarious position the withdrawal places the U.S. in on the world stage. “From a foreign policy perspective, it’s a colossal mistake — an abdication of American leadership,” retired diplomat R. Nicholas Burns and former under secretary of state for George W. Bush told The New York Times. “The success of our foreign policy — in trade, military, any other kind of negotiation — depends on our credibility. I can’t think of anything more destructive to our credibility than this.”

Ultimately, though, the biggest losers here will be Earth and its citizens. The architects behind the accord argue that the absence of the U.S. will definitely weaken the chances of the agreement being enforced. For example, the country has thus far been instrumental in pursuing transparent, robust oversight of emissions reporting, monitoring, and verification.

It is possible that this move will prove just as dangerous for President Trump, depending on how American voters perceive it. The Paris agreement will not be officially in force until 2020, the year during which countries are committed to enact their voluntary efforts toward reducing emissions. In other words, there is still time for the U.S. to get back on board, depending on how the 2020 election goes. However, this won’t be an easy process, and it will also involved winning back the trust of the rest of the world.

Regardless, hope comes from other sectors. Innovation in renewables is soaring, and some of the world’s most renowned scientists and innovators, such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Bill Nye, Stephen Hawking, and  far far more are dedicating their efforts towards combating anthropogenic climate change. Moreover, the 147 nations that have since formally ratified the accord remain committed to the cause.

The post It’s Official. Trump Just Withdrew the U.S. From the Paris Climate Agreement. appeared first on Futurism.

Texas Power

In Texas, a NET Power team is working towards building a power plant that runs off a form of carbon dioxide instead of steam. This would be the first plant of its kind. If successful, it could lead a massive transition towards green energy production.

Traditional power plants generate electricity by pushing and spinning turbines with steam created by boiling water. That sounds green enough until you think about how that water is boiled; most often by burning natural gas or coal. The new design will replace steam with carbon dioxide so hot and pressurized that it’s actually in a supercritical state. This means that it fills up space like a gas, but has the density of a liquid. The appeal of using carbon dioxide is in this density, which allows for the use of much smaller turbines.

This process will not only be greener because of the small size of the turbines: additionally, natural gas will be burned to heat the gas — but in an environment of pure oxygen. This will allow the release of only pure carbon dioxide without any additional byproducts. While this is not a completely emission free, environmentally friendly process, it’s by and large more efficient and green than previous methods.

*3* Could Power Plants Run Off of Carbon Dioxide?

*3* Could Power Plants Run Off of Carbon Dioxide?

The Future of Electric

This has never before been attempted because getting carbon dioxide into a supercritical state and building such small turbines are both incredibly difficult tasks. If the team is able to pull it off, it could be a major step forward in the fight against fossil fuels. The larger plant, set to be built after the initial “test plant” proves to be successful, will be capable of powering up to 200,000 homes. And, as more and more of our devices, technology, and vehicles rely on electricity, it is crucial that we create more efficient and more environmentally friendly ways to create it. While it is important that we make an effort to replace gas-guzzling SUVs with electric vehicles, if the production of that electricity creates an excess of emissions, we cannot move forward.

The post A World-First Power Plant Generates Energy By Consuming Carbon Dioxide appeared first on Futurism.

A Change In the Climate

Where U.S. president Donald Trump stands on climate change is no secret, and his administration has already put into effect a number of efforts that clearly demonstrate this. Now, perhaps the biggest blow to climate change efforts is about to unfold, as new reports surface about president Trump’s plans to back out of the historic Paris Climate Agreement.

According to the New York Times, three officials who know about the decision have confirmed that President Trump indeed plans to abandon the 2015 climate agreement that spurred many of the world’s nations to implement stricter measures and goals to fight climate change. In a tweet posted just today, President Trump said he will be announcing his decision in the coming days.

Newly-elected French president Emmanuel Macron had something to say about that decision, however. In a video posted on Facebook back in February, almost a month before he was elected, Macron expressed sympathy for U.S. climate experts.

“I do know how your new president now has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, and he is extremely skeptical about climate change,” he said then, at the height of news about the U.S. government’s controversial budget cuts. “I have no doubt about climate change.”

France’s Offer

President Macron offered an alternative for climate scientists working in the U.S.

“Please, come to France. You are welcome, ” Macron said in the video. “We want people working on climate change, energy, renewables, and new technology. France is your nation.”

Canada has also made similar offers that that time. Backing out of the Paris Climate Agreements, however, is an even more serious matter.

Technological Fixes for Climate Change
Click to View Full Infographic

While the U.S. is just one of the 195 nations that signed the Paris Agreement, it remains to be the second largest contributor to greenhouse gasses. Reversing on its commitment to the climate deal would have serious consequences on the environment, as well as to the policies of other countries.

“The actions of the United States are bound to have a ripple effect in other emerging economies that are just getting serious about climate change, such as India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia,” Michael Oppenheimer, member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the New York Times.

Clearly, fighting climate change is a global effort, as it takes the commitment of the rest of the world to reduce humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions. If the world’s largest economy to back out of such a fight, it could seriously push things back.

The post French President: If Trump Pulls out of the Paris Agreement, U.S. Climate Scientists Can Go to France appeared first on Futurism.

Climate change is inevitable. This indoor rainforest will keep us prepared.

The post This Indoor Rainforest Fights Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

Amidst reports that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, serial entrepreneur and White House adviser Elon Musk has made his thoughts on the matter clearly known.

Earlier today, Musk took to Twitter, threatening to leave the White House advisory councils if Trump drops from the Paris accord. He began by outlining that he has done everything he can to show Trump that the U.S. must take a strong stance on climate change and keep to the agreement. In a subsequent tweet, he said he would resign as an adviser if his words were not heeded.

When asked what he would do if the U.S. did leave, Musk responded, “Will have no choice but to depart councils in that case.”


According to the New York Times, three officials with knowledge of Trump’s decision regarding the historic climate agreement have confirmed that the president is intent on backing out. It’s a stance that’s consistent with how the current administration has previously expressed their beliefs regarding climate change, and if he does follow through, Trump will simply be making good on one of his campaign promises.

Naturally, for a man who owns a company that develops climate-friendly technology—Tesla’s electric vehicles and solar roofs—working with a government that refuses to recognize the reality of climate change would be a contradiction. If it comes down to it, as Musk pointed out, he would have no choice but to leave his advisory post in the administration.

Musk has previously taken flack for his decision to stay as an adviser to Trump, but it seems like he won’t be able to tolerate the administration’s stance on climate change any longer.

The post Musk To Resign From Trump Government if U.S. Withdraws From Paris Climate Agreement appeared first on Futurism.

Harnessing Salt Concentrations

Estuaries are ecosystems constantly in flux — brackish bodies of water where fresh and ocean water meet and mix. These coastal “living laboratories” have long been of interest to scientists, and now researchers may have found a way to harness their power — literally.

Researchers at Penn State have developed a new hybrid technology that merges the most effective pieces of existing methods for capturing energy created from differences in salt concentrations in water. This new blended process generates unprecedented amounts of electrical power in places where saltwater and freshwater meet.

Until now, the most successful and commonly used method for seizing the energy from salt concentration differentials has been pressure retarded osmosis (PRO). PRO selectively lets water through a semi-permeable membrane while holding salt back and creating osmotic pressure that moves turbines, generating power. However, the membranes tend to clog up, and the method is less useful with extremely salty water. Reverse electrodialysis (RED), solves some of these issues by transporting salt through its membranes rather than water, but it generates only small amounts of power.

The Penn State researchers solved the problems by creating an electrochemical flow cell that features both the RED and Capacitive mixing (CapMix) technologies. CapMix is a fairly new technique that draws energy from the voltage that is created when two electrodes are immersed in water whose salt concentration changes. While CapMix yields too little power to be viable by itself, marrying it to the RED technology increased energy production efficiency by more than four times compared to RED alone — attaining a higher level of energy production density than even the PRO method.

Powerful Currents

The researchers say that harnessing the difference in salt concentration with their technique has the potential to create energy sufficient to meet as much as 40 percent of the world’s electricity needs. Since a recent survey revealed that solar roofs could provide 25 percent of the energy used in the U.S., this technology could go a long way toward eliminating most of the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The Energy of the Future: Harnessing the Power of Earth
Click to View Full Infographic

If this technology is as efficient as this study suggests, countries would simply need to head to the coast to get the technology in place — assuming they could afford it. The Penn State team and other teams around the world have been working not only on perfecting the technologies, but also on keeping the price points low to ensure they’d be accessible to all.

Although the results are promising, the work isn’t done yet. The researchers need to research how stable the electrodes remain over time. They also need to know how other seawater elements such as sulfate and magnesium could affect the cell’s performance. Hopefully they’ll see positive results from more long-term testing soon so this carbon-neutral energy source can be harnessed. As the U.S. moves toward further deregulating the fossil fuel industry, timing could be crucial.


The post A New Technology Could Provide 40% of the World’s Energy Needs, and It’s Carbon-Neutral appeared first on Futurism.

Sungrow Floating Power Plant

The world’s largest floating solar power plant is now online in China. Built by Sungrow, a supplier of PV inverter systems, the 40MW plant is now afloat in water four to 10 meters deep, and successfully linked to Huainan, China’s grid. The placement was chosen in large part because the area was previously the location of coal mining operations; and, as a result, the water there is now mineralized and mostly useless. The lake itself was only formed after years of mining operations, the surrounding land collapsed and created a cavity that was filled with rainwater.

Floating solar plants are advantageous because they put otherwise useless water and land to good use, and the water naturally cools the system and the ambient temperatures, improving generation and limiting long-term damage from heat. They also avoid taking up space in densely populated regions, which is especially an issue in China; the country is currently home to more than 100 cities with populations of at least one million people each. Finally, the floating PV arrays, customized to work efficiently despite higher levels of humidity, prevent the evaporation of fresh water.


China Leading The Way

Although it was once among the worst offenders worldwide in the realm of carbon emissions and climate change, China has turned the page in a serious way. Now, it has become a world leader in the adoption of renewables in its quest to lead the way toward a greener, more sustainable future. This kind of dedication is what each country needs to commit to. As climate change progresses, we continue to see negative trends and changes; the last three years have all set horrifying temperature records. The future of humanity is directly tied to the future of renewables. Fortunately, innovations like the floating solar plant prove that there are almost endless ways to approach the problem in a practical, effective way.

The post The World’s Largest Floating Solar Plant Is Finally Online appeared first on Futurism.

Beyond Saving

In relation to global warming, the condition of the Great Barrier Reef has been described as the “canary in the coal mine.” Unfortunately for us, it looks like that bird is dead, with no hope of resuscitation. Experts in the sciences just testified to an Australian government committee, and they announced that the current plan set in motion to protect the reef cannot achieve its goals.

According to the experts who testified, the unprecedented (and unexpected) rate of mass coral bleaching in the region has made it impossible for the reef to bounce back using the plan as currently designed. They continued by note that the plan’s omission of precautions specifically addressing climate change are a major factor in our inability to save the reef.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

To break down the issue a bit, rising ocean temperatures can be blamed for, in essence, “cooking” coral to death. The 700 km (435 mile) region of the Coral Sea has seen experiencing significant bleaching for the previous two years, events that no one was equipped to counter. In a survey of the region completed last year, 95 percent of the areas surveyed was shown to have been bleached.

And the only way to fix this is to stop the warming of the planet, which means addressing climate change, which the current plan to protect the reef doesn’t do.

New Approach

The experts assert that, without changes, saving the reef is impossible, but that action can still be taken to maintain the reef’s “ecological function.” A spokesperson for Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority explained to The Guardian, “The concept of ‘maintaining ecological function’ refers to the balance of ecological processes necessary for the reef ecosystem as a whole to persist, but perhaps in a different form, noting the composition and structure may differ from what is currently seen today.”

However, as was just noted, all of this is working under the assumption that there are no significant revisions being made to the current plans. If better plans. which include ways to expressly tackle climate change, are put into place, then we can hope for better.

Panel Chairman and former Chief Scientist of Australia, Ian Chubb, notes the importance of making the necessary changes: “We can’t be passive bystanders in this. We’re the custodians of the reef and its ecosystem for the world,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

The post Scientists Testify: The Great Barrier Reef Can’t Be Saved Through Current Efforts appeared first on Futurism.

A Plastic Solution

Plastic pollution in our oceans is a massive environmental problem. As documented by one recent study, there are approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons, currently polluting our oceans. That is immense.

An Ocean of Plastic [Infographic]
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Wildlife extinction is becoming an ever-increasing issue with the progression of climate change, and this massive accumulation of plastic trash and debris is making the problem that much worse. There are efforts to make a dent in this pollution, as The Ocean Cleanup project has shown with their push to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years.

However, this problem will persist. And, while prevention is the best cure for this continuing trash burden, it is important that solutions to the existing problem are created. This is why scientists are investigating the possibility that a newly-evolved microbe could be capable of breaking down plastics in the ocean.

Researchers started to notice that, in some studies, plastics recorded should have been increasing over time but were not. If fact, 90 to 99 percent of the expected plastic was missing. When the researchers looked closer, this missing plastic was not the result of any serious recycling efforts, but possibly microscopic organisms, as they reported in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Microscopic Environmentalism

Now, this plastic-eating microbe theory is just that, a theory. It is not yet a proven fact, but researchers are hard at work to come to a solid conclusion.

However, while it is not yet proven, the theory makes a lot of logical sense. Because our oceans have been so bogged down with plastic particles and pieces for so long, it would seem only natural that some species of microbe would eventually evolve to better adapt to their environment.

There are other explanations for this missing plastic, however. It could just be weighed down by organisms to the bottom of the ocean, or broken apart into such small microscopic pieces that it is undetected by surveys.

But, whatever the explanation for this “missing plastic” is, one thing is for certain. In the words of researcher Matthew Cole of Exeter University in the U.K. to New Scientist, “To really tackle the plastic problem, we need to stop it getting into the oceans in the first place.”

The post Newly-Evolved Microbes Could Be Eating 90% of Ocean Plastic appeared first on Futurism.

Here Comes the Sun

The Beatles may have well predicted the future for their mother country as the Sun now shines bright in the United Kingdom. According to the National Grid, almost 25 percent of Great Britain’s electricity demand was served by solar at midday Friday. The clean energy source generated 8.7 gigawatts, which is more than the previous record set on May 10, when solar generated 8.48 gigawatts.


“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system, and as this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important,” Duncan Burt, who oversees the National Grid’s control room operations, told the Independent.

“This is a colossal achievement … and sends a very positive message to the U.K. that solar has a strong place in the decarbonization of the U.K. energy sector,” Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, pointed out.

As Barwell noted, this marks the first time solar panels generated more electricity in the U.K. than nuclear plants. Natural gas and coal remain the country’s top suppliers of electricity, however.

Stacking up on Renewables

This milestone is obviously a win for renewables and a sign that nations are moving toward cleaner energy sources.

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
Click to View Full Infographic

Solar power remains the top bet among many, including the United States, where solar panels accounted for 60 percent of California’s record-breaking clean energy usage in March. Expect trends similar to these to continue in the coming months, as several other places pledge to switch to renewables sooner than later.

The steady rise of solar energy is made possible in part by the decrease in the cost of solar panels. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt that the solar industry is also providing jobs in places desperate for them, such as the U.S. As Hannah Martin, head of energy for Greenpeace UK, told the Independent, “All around the world, solar power keeps beating new records as costs come down and power generation goes up. In the U.S., more people were employed in generating electricity from solar last year than from coal, oil, and gas combined.”

In fact, the total number of Americans working in solar is higher than the number employed by Google, Facebook, and Apple combined. Cleary, the Sun isn’t just shining in the U.K.

The post Solar Energy Smashes U.K. Record, Supplying 24% of the Nation’s Electricity Demand appeared first on Futurism.

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Jobs in Solar Power

A new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reveals that solar jobs in the U.S. (and other nations) are expanding quickly. As of November 2016, the American solar industry employed 260,077 workers. This is an increase of 24.5% from 2015, with a growth rate that is 17 times faster than the United States economy as a whole.

The lion’s share of these jobs (241,900) were in solar photovoltaics, with an additional 13,000 in solar heating and cooling, and the remaining 5,200 in concentrated solar power (CSP). More than half of all solar jobs in the U.S. were in installation. Another 15% were in manufacturing, with 13% in project development, 12% in sales and distribution, and a final 6% in other areas, including research and development.

Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power
Click to View Full Infographic

The sunlight that is harvested by solar systems is, obviously, free. This makes labor costs and materials the main areas of spending in the solar industry. As costs for materials continue to drop, solar jobs remain a well-compensated area for blue-collar workers. The solar labor force is also becoming more diverse, with the number of women workers at 28% in 2016, up from 19% in 2013, with up to 33.8% in the sales and distribution area. This means more women have jobs in solar than in the conventional energy industry, although women in solar still lag behind their representative 47% of the U.S. economy.

A Renewable Future

Solar jobs aren’t the only thriving area in the U.S. economy right now. Wind industry employment produced around 102,500 jobs in 2016, which IRENA projects will grow to 147,000 jobs by 2020. Jobs in ethanol declined despite increased production due to rising labor productivity; most ethanol-related jobs (about 161,700) were in agriculture, with about 35,000 jobs in actual ethanol production. 23% more biodiesel production in 2016 meant a corresponding 23% in jobs, about 61,100 total, with almost 80,000 total in direct and indirect employment in solid biomass. Finally, there were about 7,000 biogas jobs in the U.S. in 2016.

Jobs in fossil fuels are going away as the sources of the fuels become scarcer and less expensive options become available. As R&D overcomes more of the stumbling blocks to bringing power from renewable sources into the grid and prices continue to drop, we can expect to see more jobs in renewables. They are safer, healthier, and more sustainable than jobs in the fossil fuel industry, so this is great for our labor force as well as the planet.

The post The Solar Industry Is Creating Jobs 17 Times Faster Than the Rest of the U.S. Economy appeared first on Futurism.

We sit on the same branch of the phylogenetic (evolutionary) tree as them, and yet chimps remained in the jungle while we built language, cities, and zoos to put them in. So, in reality, how similar are we to chimps? The video below by MinuteEarth looks at the science behind that often-quoted statistic — we are 99% similar to chimps (and 50% banana, 80% doglike, etc.).

The short video explains that the issue with the statistic is an issue with measurement — a procedural mistake. Genetic changes can stretch from being single letter changes in our genome to entire passages of different genetic information; because of this, those undertaking the study faced an issue with quantification — whether to count every difference as one change or not. To complicate it more, small changes in genes can lead to hugely different characteristics and vice versa.

In response to these difficulties, those undertaking the study excluded the enormous changes and chose to run a straight comparison on the genetic material left. In short, we are 99% chimp, but only if you exclude 25% of our genetic material from the study and 18% of theirs.

The post Watch: Do We Really Share 99% of Our DNA With Chimps? appeared first on Futurism.

In a video from MinuteEarth, the channel discusses how a change of 0.8°C (1.4°F) in the air at Earth’s surface makes a big difference. Most of the extra energy from this seemingly tiny temperature change is absorbed by the Earth’s oceans. In fact, the oceans have absorbed the equivalent of an atomic bomb explosion every second for the past century. That heat stored in our oceans is the source of extreme weather.

As water gets warmer at its surface, it is more likely to vaporize into the air. For each degree warmer the air gets, it can hold more water vapor. This means that air over the oceans is sucking up more water than it ever did before, which causes more rain and snow. Meanwhile, air that’s over land is also warmer, so it also sucks up more water vapor. However, because it’s over land, there’s not enough water to vaporize, so the result is harsher droughts.

There have always been hot spots over the oceans, and these are where our planet’s most violent storms have been focused. Now that these hot spots are even hotter, and pulling up even more water vapor, they are causing more violent storms and more serious flooding. Storms, whether or not they’re more frequent, have more heat, water, and power under these conditions. As you can see, even though this temperature change is small, it’s a big deal for the planet.

The post The Smallest Changes in Temperature Can Have a Huge Impact on Our Planet appeared first on Futurism.

“Friendlier” Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuel plants, particularly coal-fired and natural gas plants, still make up a majority of the world’s energy sources. As such, they remain the largest contributor of climate-warming greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the most notable of these being carbon dioxide.

Efforts to cut down or eliminate these emissions altogether while still burning fossil fuels — so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems — have been around for a while now, but they haven’t really taken, mainly because they are largely inefficient and expensive. A relatively new startup wants to change that.

NET Power was created by an unlikely trio — a lawyer, a chemist, and a chemical engineer — and its goal is to help rid the world of fossil fuel-caused carbon emissions. Instead of following the footsteps of existing CCS systems, however, NET Power built one from the ground up. “The only way you could proceed was to develop a totally new power system,” Rodney Allam, the chemical engineer in the trio, told Science.

Image credit: NET Power, screenshot
Image credit: NET Power

The prototype plant they developed utilizes a new thermodynamic cycle — dubbed the Allam cycle — that eliminates the need for smokestacks altogether. “[T]he Allam Cycle uses a high-pressure, highly recuperative, oxyfuel, supercritical CO2 cycle that makes carbon capture part of the core power generation process, rather than an afterthought,” according to the startup’s website.

Essentially, CO2 replaces the steam used to drive turbines in traditional plants, keeping it working in the plant instead of releasing it out into the air, while also eliminating the need to expend energy to create steam.

The system also meets the challenge of being financially competitive, with the company’s founders estimating their plant could match the per kilowatt-hour cost of a state-of-the-art natural gas-fired plant. To work with coal, however, the coal would first need to be converted into synthetic gas, and in those instances, the environmental damage caused by coal extraction would still be a factor.

All the Help We Can Get

Many of the world’s more developed countries, such as the United States, China, and a number of European nations, have begun closing down their coal-fired power plants. However, transitioning to renewable energy sources will take time for many of those in the developing world, most notably India. Although a push for renewables is underway in the nation, fossil fuel-powered plants are still the number one option for their everyday energy needs.

Could climate change transform Earth into Venus? [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

While the world transitions toward cheaper renewable energy sources, efforts like NET Power’s, which limit carbon emissions from fossil fuel plants, will certainly be helpful. “This is the biggest thing in carbon capture,” MIT chemical engineer and carbon capture expert Howard Herzog told Science. “It’s very sound on paper.”

We should know soon if the system lives us to its promise as NET Power’s 25-megawatt demonstration plant in Houston will become operational later this year. If the prototype power plant works as hoped, the next step would be to open a $300 million full-scale 300-megawatt plant by 2021. According to John Thompson, a carbon capture expert from nonprofit Clean Air Task Force, “This is a game-changer if they achieve 100 percent of their goals.”

The post A New Power Plant Burns Fossil Fuels Without Any Carbon Emissions appeared first on Futurism.

The Rising Seas

Global sea level rise is precipitated by two factors: the thermal expansion of oceans due to warming and the increased melting of the polar ice caps and other land-based glaciers. Over the past century, sea levels have continued to rise, and new research suggests that it’s doing so at a rate faster than previously thought. 

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

The new scientific analysis was made by a team of European researchers who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. “We have a much stronger acceleration in sea level rise than formerly thought,” researcher Sönke Dangendorf from the University of Siegen in Germany told the Washington Post.

According to the study, oceans were rising at a rate of 1.1 millimeters per year (roughly 0.43 inches per decade) prior to 1990. However, from 1993 through 2012, the rate increased to about 3.1 millimeters per year (1.22 inches per decade). This rate is faster than what’s been presented in previous findings.

The Reality of Global Warming

The increased rate is believed to be due to melting ice sheets in the Antarctic and Greenland, although scientists seem to diverge when it comes to the rate. Still, they have clearly grasped the bigger picture. “Sea levels will continue to rise over the coming century, no matter whether we will adapt or not, but I think we can limit at least a part of the sea level rise. It will further accelerate, but how much is related to how we act as humans,” Dangendorf said.

So, instead of debating on the finer points of the phenomenon, the better thing to do is to work on not accelerating it further. Efforts to reverse the melting of ice from the polar caps and land-based glaciers aren’t lacking. One of the more interesting solutions involves a plan to re-freeze the Arctic, which is currently being tested in the glaciers of the Swiss Alps.

In any case, humanity needs to work faster: sea levels could rise at an accelerated rate of 5 to 15 millimeters per year (1.97 to 5.9 inches per decade) in the years to come as a response to extreme climate conditions.

The post Sea Levels Are Rising Even Faster Than Previously Thought appeared first on Futurism.

China’s Digging

Since the industrialization of coal, the world has sourced much of its energy from fossil fuels. While the global energy landscape has started to change again over the past several years, with the introduction of more renewable and cleaner sources, fossil fuels are still the main source of much of today’s energy. However, it looks like China has now found a way to access a previously elusive source of energy.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Reports from China’s Ministry of Land and Resources claim that the country has successfully extracted methane hydrate — also known as “flammable ice” — from beneath the South China Sea,  just 300 kilometers (186 miles) southeast of Hong Kong.

“We brought the gas to the surface and have lit it up since May 10. By now, the drill has been running continually for eight days,” project leader and deputy chief engineer at the China Geological Survey Ye Jianliang told the South China Morning Post. “The daily output [of gas] exceeds 10,000 cubic meters. The best day recorded 35,000 cubic meters.”

Not Clean Enough

Though methane hydrate is not a new discovery, researchers have had difficulty putting it to practical use. The substance is called “flammable ice” because it looks like ice, but it’s actually methane trapped inside water molecule lattices. Deposits of methane hydrate are usually found in areas with low temperatures and moderate pressure, such as the bottom of the ocean, making them difficult to access.

Image credit: US Department of Energy/

Despite this difficulty, the potential that the world’s methane hydrate deposits could exceed all other fossil fuels combined has led many to pursue the energy source. China has emerged as the latest to find success, but Japan has also successfully extracted methane hydrate, and the U.S. is currently working to do so.

However, despite natural gas being considered “cleaner” — producing 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal — methane is still a fossil fuel. The climate hazard this energy source poses is still real, not to mention the potential harm it could do to the local undersea ecology if an extraction goes awry.

Nevertheless, it is a potentially abundant energy source, and if China can extract enough to make it viable for industrialization, we’ll find out just how helpful it could be in cutting emission levels.

The post We May Have an Entirely New Source of Energy – “Flammable Ice” appeared first on Futurism.

Extreme Fuel Efficiency

While electric vehicles (EVs) are steadily gaining ground, the majority of the cars on the road today are still gas-powered. Gas prices, however, aren’t exactly getting cheaper. So, while we work towards transitioning from fossil fuel-based vehicles to cleaner alternatives, it certainly helps to find ways to make the cars we have now more fuel efficient. Students from the Université Laval might just have a solution.

As an entry for this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas, the Laval students developed a prototype vehicle that could run for 2,713 miles per gallon (mpg) on a Detroit, Michigan test track. Their vehicle’s outstanding performance landed them this year’s top trophy. The competition gives students a chance to design vehicle concepts that maximizes efficiency using various fuels, including everything from gasoline to hydrogen fuel cells.

“In winning the overall competition, Université Laval defeated 114 other rivals vying to see whose vehicle could travel the farthest distance on the equivalent of a gallon of gas,” according to a press release for the event. While the Laval team’s achievement was no small feat, it wasn’t able to outperform last year’s champion car from the University of Toronto  — which covered an astounding 3,421 mpg.

Image credit: Shell-eco Marathon/Flickr
The vehicle Escorpio. Image credit: Shell-eco Marathon/Flickr

A Renewable Future

Better fuel efficiency could translate to less fossil fuel vehicle consumption. While this could count as a win for the environment, fossil fuels remain one of the leading contributors to climate-warming emissions. As such, doing away with them completely is a the ultimate goal.

While it may feel like it, it’s not an impossible task: over the past months, fossil fuels are losing value in terms of price, and seeing reduced efficiency compared to their renewable counterparts. EVs, while still only covering a relatively small share of the automobile industry, are set for a major take over. The increased interest from veteran automakers like Volkswagen, Chevrolet, and Honda is a testament to the future of EVs. And soon, they may not even be the only alternatively fueled vehicles available: one automaker in China is working on a car that runs on solar power.

The post Students Made a Car That Gets a Staggering 2,713 Miles per Gallon appeared first on Futurism.

That’s Fast

In the early days of electric cars, critics mocked their speed, and they gained a bit of a reputation as gas-powered cars’ slower, less powerful counterparts. While that may have been true in the past, it is certainly no longer the case.

Between Tesla’s lineup of everything from compact cars to semi trucksNissan’s futuristic sports car, and high-luxury brands like Porsche and Jaguar’s electric model releases, electric cars are now undeniably fast, efficient, and on the cutting edge of transportation technology.

This fact is more apparent than ever thanks to the Nio EP9. Currently the fastest electric car on the market, the vehicle can reach speeds up to about 312 km/h (194 mph). Recently, the car officially cemented itself as the fastest model with a record-breaking lap around the Nürburgring track. It finished the lap with a time of 6:45:9, beating its own 2016 record of 7:05:12.

The Future of Travel

Now, while the Nio EP9 is impressive, it’s probably not the most sensible vehicle for most drivers. The company is planning to produce only 10 EP9s each costing $1.48 million. But that doesn’t mean high-speed electric travel is out of the question for the average consumer. Electric cars have already come a long way, and as more and more companies make the shift to producing electric models, the variety and capabilities of the vehicles will only continue to improve.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

It is an unfortunate but irrefutable fact that climate change is only going to worsen if we keep living the way that we do. We, as a species, are simply relying too heavily on fossil fuels and producing too many greenhouse gasses, and both we and the planet will continue to suffer more and more as a result. From extreme weather patterns to natural disasters and unprecedented extinction rates, we are already feeling the effects.

And so, while switching to electric might not seem like that big of a deal, if we all made small (or large) changes to our daily lives in order to reduce our carbon footprint, we might have a real shot at combating climate change in a meaningful way.

The post The Fastest Electric Car in the World Just Broke Its Own Speed Record appeared first on Futurism.

Not So Permafrost

It’s a sad state of affairs when a structure designed to withstand the apocalypse can’t handle the current condition of our planet. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is supposed to withstand end of the world-caliber events, but it seems that the Earth’s current condition is already too much for it to handle as water from melting permafrost spilled into the entrance tunnel last week.

Doomsday Vault: The World’s Seed Bank Backup
Click to View Full Infographic

The flooding did not reach any of the seeds stored for safekeeping, so the vault has passed that major test. Cary Fowler, a figure instrumental in the creation of the seed vault, is confident in its ability to withstand this threat. He told Popular Science, “If there was a worst case scenario where there was so much water, or the pumping systems failed, that it made its way uphill to the seed vault, then it would encounter minus 18 [degrees celsius] and freeze again. Then there’s another barrier [the ice] for entry into the seed vault.”

The vault has already proven its usefulness when researchers in the Middle East made the first withdrawal from the backups stored at Svalbard back in 2015. They would traditionally retrieve their needed specimens from a facility in Aleppo, but instability in the city made those seeds impossible to extract. The vault provided the researchers with 116,000 samples so they could continue their research on drought-resistant crops.

Apocalypse Now

Science has been warning of the dangers of global climate change for decades, and we are beginning to see the widespread results of years of inaction. Last year was the hottest on record, and 2017 looks like it will also be one for the record books.

The area housing the doomsday vault is particularly vulnerable. As Ketil Isaksen from Norway’s Meteorological Institute told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, “The Arctic and especially Svalbard warms up faster than the rest of the world. The climate is changing dramatically, and we are all amazed at how quickly it is going.”

Image credit: Global Crop Diversity Trust/Flickr
Image credit: Global Crop Diversity Trust/Flickr

Truly, this breach says more about the state of the planet than it does the vault’s construction. The structure is meant to be a stronghold to protect plant life in their seed form to ensure the survival of crop diversity, and even it can’t keep up with global warming.

To mitigate these effects, Norway is working on making some improvements to the area surrounding the vault to ensure proper drainage away from it. As Åsmund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre told The Guardian, “We have to find solutions. It is a big responsibility and we take it very seriously. We are doing this for the world. This is supposed to last for eternity.”

Systemic changes across the entire globe are the only real way to not only ensure the safety of the stored seeds but also lessen the probability that we’ll need to call upon the vault’s services.

The post Melting Permafrost Threatens The “Doomsday” Seed Bunker appeared first on Futurism.

Canceling Coal

The Indian government has abandoned plans to build a second coal power station, choosing to focus on renewable energy instead in the state of Gujarat. Chimanbhai Sapariya, the country’s energy minister, said in an interview with the Business Standard that 4,000 Megawat ultra-mega power project (UMPP) was rejected because “Gujarat had proposed the UMPP last year but we now feel we do not need more […] We already have more than sufficient generation capacity.” The region already has one such plant existence.

India One Solar Thermal Power Plant. Image Credit: Bkwcreator, Wikimedia
India One Solar Thermal Power Plant. Image Credit: Bkwcreator/Wikimedia

Sapariya also said in the interview that, “Our focus is now on renewable energy. The government will encourage solar power.”

India agreed at the Paris climate change conference in 2005 to derive a much higher percentage of its power from green sources by 2030. This transition could have a global impact, as the Hindustan Times reported in 2016 that India was the fourth biggest polluter worldwide.

India agreed to extract 40 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuels, and planned to do this by producing one terawatt of energy through solar power — this is four times the worldwide total currently produced. In addition, the country aims to become a nation that only uses electric cars by 2030.

The Indian government has been extremely successful in pursuing these aims. Recently, the price of solar-produced energy dropped below the price of energy produced by fossil fuels, the Kumuthis power plant has shown that it can produce as much energy as most coal and nuclear plants, and the country is exceeding its predictions by three-and-a-half years — on track to produce 60 percent of energy through green sources by 2027.

The post India Is Scraping a Major Coal Project in Favor of Renewables appeared first on Futurism.

Recent Refutations of Climate Change

Climate change denial has made numerous headlines in recent weeks. David Rose stated in The Daily Mail that there has been a global warming hiatus covered up by dubious science, Bret Stephens criticized the certitude of evidence in The New York Times, and Trump is rapidly making decisions based on his belief that humans have not impacted climate change.

David Rose’s claim in The Daily Mail that “we now know that [there is a climate change hiatus] for a fact” is based on “the bravery of a whistleblower” who purportedly revealed that the data from a 2015 NOAA Study is flawed due to it being adjusted upwards.

This claim is debunked in two ways. Firstly, this manipulation is reasonable due to the history of the methods used to measure sea temperatures. Up until fairly recently, ships have been used to measure water temperatures, but their results are skewed by the engine room warming the water. The reason for the adjustment was so that the new and superior data taken from buoys and floats could be compared to the figures gathered from these ships.

Secondly, John Abraham pointed out in The Guardian that Rose’s whistleblower never worked on data, and highlighted that Rose did not mention that the study had been independently verified.

Donald Trump has insisted throughout his campaign that climate change is not caused by humans, and more specifically that CO2 does not cause global warming, a claim which has been bolstered by Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, since he arrived in the White House.

This has also been disproved by numerous studies and a deluge of research, as is shown by the composite of figures on (a website that is highly worth looking through on other climate change related topics):

“CO2 and other greenhouse gases keep the Earth’s surface 33°Celsius (59.4°F) warmer than it would be without them. We have added 42% more CO2, and temperatures have gone up […] According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)…the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4°Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.”

So What’s To Be Done?

In order to slow climate change, action can be taken on two fronts: challenging claims such as the examples presented above and developing international systems to combat climate change.

The response to Bret Stephens’s article was vitriolic but it was logical, justified, and supported by facts. While we must fight in the same arena, it is crucial that we use weapons other than undermining truth, manipulating the public through disinformation, and cherry-picking facts. A group of climate scientists responded perfectly by penning an open letter in response, which culminated with the line “it must be made clear that there are facts that are not subject to opinion.” These facts must be made known.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Of late, there have been huge successes in combating climate change on an international level. The importance of the Paris Agreement, which aims to implement a “global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change,” has been verbally reasserted by China. The BBC reports that President of China Xi Jinping told the newly-elected President of France Emmanuel Macron that China and France “should protect the achievements of global governance, including the Paris agreement.”

In addition to this, a London School of Economics (LSE) study has found that 1200 laws designed to decrease the pace of climate change have been adopted in 164 countries — these include 47 implemented by the Paris Agreement. Patricia Espinosa optimistically stated at an international meeting on climate change in Bonn, Germany that now “most countries have a legal basis on which future action can be built.”

The post There Are No Legitimate Arguments Against Human-Caused Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

California Leading The Way

On May 13, 2017, California smashed through another renewable energy milestone as its largest grid, controlled by the California Independent System Operator (CISO), got 67.2% of its energy from renewables — not including hydropower or rooftop solar arrays. Adding hydropower facilities into the mix, the total was 80.7%. Sunny days with plenty of wind along with full reservoirs and growing numbers of solar facilities were the principal factors in breaking the record. The CISO controls 80% of the state’s power grid.

These are also the reasons why experts believe 2017 will continue to be a record-breaking year for renewables in California. The state also set a new wind power generation record on May 16, 2017, producing 4,985 megawatts.

This Is the Future of Energy. Check out the World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm
Click to View Full Infographic

“It’s going to be a dynamic year for records,” CISO spokesperson Steven Greenlee told SF Gate. “The solar records in particular are falling like dominoes.”

“The fact that the grid can handle 67 percent renewable power from multiple sources — it’s a great moment, and it shows the potential we have,” Center for Sustainable Energy director of policy Sachu Constantine told SF Gate.

The Renewable Energy Race

There are plenty of races we need to avoid as humans — the arms race, for example — but the renewable energy race is one that is producing nothing but winners across the board. This isn’t CISO’s first win — it broke its previous record in March 2017 when it hit 56.7% of the day’s demands with renewables. In September 2016, a California power company contracted with Tesla to ensure Powerpacks would keep the state humming during outages. BART, the public transit system in San Francisco, is on track to be running on clean energy by 2045, and is already reducing its fossil fuel consumption.

While California is certainly leading the nation, other states and cities are following suit. Atlanta will run on 100% renewables by 2035, and Chicago will power all city buildings with renewables by 2025. The Las Vegas government has them both beaten, as it’s already 100% powered by renewables, and Nevada itself has a goal of 80% renewables by 2040. Massachusetts will be 100% renewables-powered by 2035, followed by Hawaii in 2045.

If you’d rather hear about goals that have already been achieved, New York State has increased its solar use by 800%. Block Island in Rhode Island has just switched entirely to wind power, shutting down a diesel plant. In fact, experts say that the eastern United States could get 13% of its energy from renewables by 2025, and we’ve already experienced days of more than 50% wind power running the entire country.

Our renewable energy goals are attainable. Look what we’ve already done.

The post California Grid Smashes Record, Gets 67% of Energy From Renewables appeared first on Futurism.

Solar Push

Mercedes-Benz is taking a direct shot at Tesla’s solar push and battery business.

The luxury carmaker announced on Thursday it would partner with Vivint Solar to sell a smart solar ecosystem to California residents, aiming to challenge Tesla’s new solar-roof rollout on its turf.

As part of the partnership, Mercedes will introduce its at-home battery to the US market for the first time, while Vivint will provide solar-panel installation.

The solar installer also is expected to provide a smart-home experience — Vivint Solar announced a partnership with Vivint Smart Home at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that would allow the company to use sensors and artificial intelligence to manage energy loads automatically.

The move is the latest in the solar industry’s progression, started by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, of rolling battery and solar installations into one process.

Rechargeable batteries are necessary for storing the electricity generated by solar panels that can be used during peak grid times. But before Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity in November, battery and solar installations were separate processes.

“We see this as an evolving appetite that consumers are asking us to bring to them,” Vivint Solar CEO David Bywater told Business Insider.

Image source: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes’ Bet Over Tesla

Mercedes introduced its standing battery in Germany in April 2016, but it has since expanded to the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The device, manufactured at the Mercedes subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive, can store 2.5 kilowatt-hours of energy but could be combined to store up to 20 kWh. The full cost, with installation, would range from under $5,000 to $13,000 for a 20 kWh system.

That does compete with the price of Tesla’s battery, but there’s a catch.

Tesla’s Powerwall 2, which stores 14 kWh of energy, can cost as much as $11,450 including installation. Although it stores slightly less energy than Mercedes’ full system, you would need only one Powerwall unit instead of several Mercedes batteries. Those looking to save space may opt for the Powerwall 2, which can be mounted on a wall.

For reference, a US residential home used 901 kWh of electricity a month on average in 2015, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

But Boris von Bormann, CEO of Mercedes’ energy division, said there was plenty of room in the market for multiple players and that Mercedes has an edge when it comes to quality.

Mercedes is “not a startup. It’s not a stock-value-driven company with some velocity behind it that can go one way or another,” von Bormann said. “It’s really a mature company that will be there — and will be there for the foreseeable future. That way, you feel trusted and have a quality brand where you get support whenever you need it.”

Tesla has taken some heat for its stock valuation that has matched the levels of Ford and General Motors despite selling a fraction of the vehicles.

Powerwall 2. Tesla

Tesla is looking to improve solar adoption by offering more aesthetically appealing solar shingles, which the company began selling this month.

Both Tesla and Mercedes see at-home batteries as an extension of their electric-car plans.

Musk made that much clear at his initial solar-roof unveiling, where he discussed how a solar push would allow for the full integration of Tesla products: a Powerwall that both stores solar energy and juices up your Tesla electric car.

“We’re not just looking at energy storage as a pure storage play, but looking strongly at it from an electric-vehicle perspective, as well with the expansion of Daimler into EVs,” von Bormann said.

For now, Mercedes will leverage its partnership with Vivint to roll out its battery in California, but it could expand to other states based on consumer interest. Mercedes says it is also interested in exploring markets like China and Australia.

The post Mercedes Just Made a Huge Play That Could Threaten Tesla’s Home-Battery Business appeared first on Futurism.

Solar’s the Way to Go

Solar panels have become increasingly inexpensive in the past months. However, while a number of large-scale energy producers are shifting towards solar power, there is still a lack of homes that have adopted the technology. In Australia, a place bathed in seemingly constant direct sunlight, price is still a major stumbling block for homeowners considering switching to solar. Things may be about to change, however, thanks to a new variety of solar tile developed by researchers from the University of Newcastle (UON).

Image credit: University of Newcastle
Image Credit: University of Newcastle

Instead of the photovoltaics (PVs) that traditional panels use, UON’s Paul Dastoor and his team are testing printable solar tiles. “It’s completely different from a traditional solar cell. They tend to be large, heavy, encased in glass — tens of millimeters thick,” Dastoor told Mashable. “We’re printing them on plastic film that’s less than 0.1 of a millimeter thick.”

Currently, UON is one of only three sites that are testing printed solar. “We’ve put in the first 100 square metres of printed solar cells up on roofs, and now we’re testing that durability in real weather conditions,” Dastoor said. As soon as the performance and durability of these tiles are confirmed, it could easily go into market production.

Cheap and Fast

Dastoor and his team are excited about the potential these printed tiles have in influencing the wide-scale adoption of PVs, especially for homes. “The low-cost and speed at which this technology can be deployed is exciting, particularly in the current Australian energy context where we need to find solutions, and quickly, to reduce demand on base-load power,” he explained in UON feature article.

Just for reference, Tesla’s solar tiles — which Elon Musk promised to be cheaper than regular roofs — are priced at around US $235 per tile. Meanwhile, Dastoor’s printed solars can be sold at less than US$ 7.42 per tile, which is comparatively very cheap, “[W]e expect in a short period of time the energy we generate will be cheaper than that generated via coal-based fire stations,” Dastoor explained.

Of course, whether tiles are printed or created with traditional PVs, solar energy is currently a major leading renewable energy source. And, solar power is not only incredibly environmentally friendly — producing energy without harmful byproducts that contribute to climate change —  it can also generate more energy than fossil fuels.

The post Printed Solar Tiles Are Thinner, Cheaper, and Easier to Use appeared first on Futurism.

“Years, Not Decades”

Earlier this month the newest fusion reactor in the U.K., Tokamak Energy’s ST40, achieved first plasma. This milestone event on the road to fusion energy signals the viability of the company’s overall timetable. The more immediate aim for the ST40 is to achieve a temperature of 15,000,000 °C (27,000,000 °F), as hot as the center of the sun — this should happen in autumn of 2017 based on the progress thus far.

The company will then use what it learns from working with the ST40 to construct a tokamak device that is larger than the ST40, yet still notably smaller than traditional reactors. This should advance the company toward its goal of producing electricity from fusion by 2025. Ultimately, a successful power generator in 2025 will provide the foundation for the modules of a power plant that can deliver fusion electricity to the grid by 2030.

On the day the ST40 was put into operation, Tokamak Energy CEO David Kingham commented in a press release, “The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures – 100 million degrees – are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors. This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades.”

Affordable, Accessible Fusion Power

Nuclear fusion is critical to generating affordable, clean power that is accessible to everyone because it is the source capable of generating by far the most energy. Even compared to nuclear fission, a fusion reaction yields much more energy — about four times as much — with very low carbon emissions.

Fusion Energy: A Practical Guide [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

At this point, Tokamak Energy CEO David Kingham is optimistic and believes the company is at about the halfway mark relative to the 2030 end goal of feeding fusion power into the grid. In an article produced for EngineerLive, he wrote, “The goals on our route to achieving fusion power are bold and ambitious, but it is a challenge that must be tackled if we are to deliver the essential decarbonization of our energy supply.”

The post Mini Reactors Could Make Affordable Fusion Power a Reality by 2030 appeared first on Futurism.

China and Coal

The Center for American Progress (CAP) just released its coal-fired power generation data analysis concerning China and the United States. The research was intended to enhance understanding of trends in coal-fired power in both countries and provide data upon which to base the analysis.

The CAP team shared its key findings in a May 2017 issue brief titled “Everything You Think You Know About Coal in China Is Wrong,” and in it, they reveal that China is taking aggressive steps to address its coal emissions.

Report Confirms China’s Position as a World Leader in the Fight Against Climate Change

In the United States, coal-fired plants can shift to natural gas to lower emissions. However, that’s not really an option in China as natural gas is neither as plentiful nor as accessible. Therefore, China has to take a different path to clean energy.

That path begins with phasing out the worst coal-fired offenders. To that end, the nation is retiring older coal-fired power plants and replacing them with newer ones with lower emissions. It is also increasing transparency, providing citizens with emissions-related data and information, ensuring that the entire country remains invested in its energy efforts.

Aggressive Action

The final conclusion of the report is that China’s coal plan has actually been very aggressive and effective. What’s working for China, however, will not necessarily work for the U.S as the countries are very different.

Could climate change transform Earth into Venus? [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

The U.S. has fewer people, different natural resources, and its own infrastructural strengths and weaknesses to contend with. However, as Vox suggests in its analysis of the CAP research, the U.S. should emulate China’s ambition, if not its actual plans.

China has taken massive steps to reduce its coal dependency even as its demand for power continues to grow. In fact, its aggressive stance against climate change has transformed China into one of the world’s leaders in the fight to save the planet. Its ongoing anti-coal position is yielding real results, even if those results may not be instantaneous. The U.S. must do its part to lower emissions and help the planet recover from the devastating effects those emissions have had on it.

The post China Is Outpacing the U.S. In Reducing Coal and Lowering Emissions appeared first on Futurism.

Fatal Fumes

A study by the Environmental Health Analytics, LLC has revealed that diesel exhaust gasses can be linked to 38,000 early deaths worldwide. If action isn’t taken, this figure will climbing as high as an annual death rate of 183,600 in 23 years. A key problem in both measuring and regulating exhaust is the abuse of the testing system by manufacturers such as Volkswagen.

Researcher Daven Henze from the University of Colorado, said in an interview for a press release “It shows that in addition to tightening emissions standards, we need to be attaining the standards that already exist in real-world driving conditions.”

*2* Study Reveals That Diesel Causes 38,000 Deaths Annually

The new research is the latest in a long series of damning studies that have highlighted the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that a quarter of the deaths of children under the age of five are attributable to pollution — that’s 1.7 million deaths a year. The WHO also found in 2014 that seven million deaths a year were caused by outdoor air pollution.

Humans are not the only ones paying a price for pollution. It was shown recently that climate change caused by car emissions disturbs the seasonal clock of nine species of North American song birds.

Turning the Tide

Recently, though, breakthroughs have been made in environmentally friendly technology. Elon Musk has encouraged a crusade against carbon emissions by stating at the World Energy Innovation Forum in 2016 that “We need a revolt against the fossil fuel industry.” He has reinforced his convictions by ramping up production for solar panels and new Tesla models.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

In addition, the University of Antwerp has developed a piece of technology that could produce hydrogen fuel from polluted air. Wind energy has also been proceeding in leaps and bounds: the installation of a wind farm in Block Island, Rhode Island has nullified the need for a diesel plant that would have burnt about one million gallons of diesel annually, and energy derived from wind farms could be cheaper than fossil fuel energy in 10 years time.

These advances in renewable energy technology could not only save the environment, but hundreds of thousands of lives as well.

The post Study Reveals That Diesel Causes 38,000 Deaths Annually appeared first on Futurism.

Greening The Grid

In a global first, Tesla is joining forces with a utility company in Vermont to deploy Powerpacks and Powerwall 2s in order to supply enough power to the grid during peak usage hours. Green Mountain Power (GMP) is locating the Powerpacks on utility land, but this is only half of the picture. Up to 2,000 customers can also get in-home 7kW Powerwall 2s subsidized by the utility company — at either $15 a month, or for a one-time flat fee of $1,500, which is half of the normal price. Tesla battery power sources will be replacing diesel sources, saving the state and customers money, and reducing environmental impact.

Image Credit: GMP

GMP told WCAX-TV that they conceived of this plan after more than 15,000 customer homes lost power during an outage. There were three homes with Powerwalls that got through the outage seamlessly, and the utility company took note of that. The company is also in support of the greener, environmentally friendly aspects of the Tesla batteries and the economic savings that they promise. Traditional backup power generators are expensive, and they’re also major polluters.

“Grid-smoothing” simply refers to storage measures that seamlessly take over during times of peak usage when normal power sources are no longer capable of keeping up with the demand for power. Operational Powerwalls stay charged in individual homes until they are needed to provide backup power; the rest of the time, they recharge or stay ready. This sort of large-scale grid-smoothing trial is essential to showing that the Tesla system is viable in a host of weather and power conditions. The project will hopefully show that this system is capable of success. If and when it is, other cities across the U.S. may soon follow suit.

The post Tesla Just Formed a Breakthrough Partnership to Make Renewables Affordable appeared first on Futurism.

New research has revealed that climate change is negatively impacting migratory songbirds. This is because as the spring season continues to shift, environments birds migrate to may be too cold and nutrient deprived in order to sustain their survival. As climate change continues to affect delicate natural processes like this, we will continue to see similar tragic consequences unless policymakers step up and take action.

The post Delicate Ecosystems Are Disrupted By Climate Change appeared first on Futurism.

This portable turbine generates power no matter where you are.

The post This Turbine Puts Power in the Palm of Your Hands appeared first on Futurism.

Bad Timing

The impact of climate change has reached a new location: American backyards.

The arrival of migratory birds at northern breeding grounds typically coincides with the growth of spring plants. A team of researchers from several universities studied data collected by citizen scientists and satellites between 2001 to 2012 in an attempt to see how climate change is affecting the birds’ ability to accurately time their arrival at these breeding grounds. Their research has been published in Scientific Reports.

Of the 48 North American songbird species that migrate north, the researchers found that nine — almost 20 percent — didn’t reach the grounds by the deadline critical for mating and breeding the next generation of birds. On average, the gap stretched by more than half a day each year across all species, for a total of five days per decade. However, the change for some species was far more drastic — double or triple that pace.

Via Elecia Crumpton, University of Florida
Via Elecia Crumpton, University of Florida

This delay was due to the effect of warmer temperatures on the growth cycles of plants. The birds leave their southern homes at the same time every year, basing their departure on the amount of daylight, which remains unaffected by climate change. However, climate change is altering when plants put out new leaves, with plants in eastern North America “greening up” sooner than normal, while plants in the western part of the continent are undergoing the process later.

This means birds are arriving either too soon and being met with frigid temperatures or too late and missing out on the insect boom that coincides with the new plant growth. Either condition means the birds have a much lower chance of surviving and reproducing, so the nine species identified in the study are therefore in danger of dwindling numbers.

Wreaking Worldwide Havoc

It’s easy to think that migratory birds would be immune to climate change since they can “get away” from a particular location at will, but that isn’t the case.

“If anything could adapt to climate change, you’d think that birds that migrate thousands of miles could,” University of Florida postdoctoral researcher Stephen Mayor, the study’s first author, said in a press release. “It’s much easier for them to move in response to climate conditions than salamanders, for example, or trees.”

Animals That Went Extinct In The 21st Century [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

“But because every species relates to another, one of our fears is that climate change can disrupt these relationships between organisms such that their critical life events are not timed optimally, putting them at risk,” he continued.

Meanwhile, evidence of climate change endangering and even wiping out entire species is apparent all over the world. A 2016 international study of plants found that at least 20 percent of all species are now threatened with extinction, and the oldest species of tree on Earth is directly threatened by warmer temperatures. The Australian rat was the first mammal go extinct due to climate change, and various local extinction events are already occurring as a result of climate change.

As for the fate of these migratory birds, that really depends on how far we’re willing to go to end manmade climate change. “These are birds people are used to seeing and hearing in their backyards. They’re part of the American landscape, part of our psyche,” said Mayor. “To imagine a future where they’re much less common would be a real loss.”

The post Climate Change Is Claiming yet Another Victim appeared first on Futurism.

Taking a Bite Out of Emissions

In the first study of its kind, the U.K.’s Global Food Security Programme and the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme have found that swapping beef for insects or chicken could have huge benefits for the environment in two ways. First, by decreasing the amount of greenhouse gasses produced, and second, by freeing up millions of acres of land.

Gidon Eshel at Bard College in New York told the Guardian in 2014 that giving up beef will have a greater impact on the environment than giving up cars. Eating more insects or other imitation meat would also free up 4,150 million acres of land — a distance roughly equivalent to 70 times the size of the U.K.

Study Finds That Going Meatless Could Save the Environment

Lead researcher Peter Alexander from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences said in an interview for a press release, “A mix of small changes in consumer behavior, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would help achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system.”

The study was recently published in Global Food Security.

Meat Alternatives

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), state that meat production is responsible for 51 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Because of this staggering statistic, scientists are working to find more sustainable forms of food production.

The Anatomy of a Lab-Grown Burger [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

For example, researchers recently made an meatless burger for more carnivorous people that actually “bleeds.” There is also rising interest in replacing some of our inefficient conventional farms with edible insect farms, which are recommended by this study. In fact, six of these farms are being considered for construction in the U.K. alone.

But all these developments are meaningless if people are not willing to change their eating habits. David turner,  a food and drinks analyst at Mintel, says that the biggest problem with food technologies is to overcome the “yuck” factor, but Fred McVittie, the founder of Cornish Edible Insects — one of the farms in England — told the Guardian, “most are fine about trying them once you speak to them.”

The post Study Finds That Going Meatless Could Save the Environment appeared first on Futurism.

What are the Developments?

A recent collaboration between the Israelian government and ElectRoad,  a company focused on enabling the large-scale use of all-electric buses, to develop technology that allows buses to charge while driving has recently passed its first round of testing. This has won the company $120,000 in investment and the chance to test the technology in 2018 on a 1/2 mile route in Tel Aviv. If this testing goes well, an 11-mile path will be implemented between the city of Eilat and the Ramon International Airport. But more importantly, the success of this testing could signal the feasibility of the technology in other countries.

The technology works using electromagnets. Inverters are installed along the side of the road to provide power to plates of copper embedded in the road, and when these interact with similar copper plates under the bus, the fields interact and power is produced. In addition to this mechanism, the bus will be equipped with a small battery that will provide it with power when it is not above the electromagnetic strip, and allow it to accelerate, which requires a greater force. To learn more, watch the video below:

While this technology is promising, there are still significant hurdles that need to be overcome. The first is the issue of implementation. ElectRoad claims that they can equip one kilometer of road in a single evening, but this is yet to be tested in a city context.

The second problem is that this solution may have come too late because of more recent advances in battery technology. Over the last few years, the cost per kilowatt hour of a lithium battery has decreased from 1000 dollars to 200-300 dollars. Dustin Grace, Director of the battery company Proterra, has stated that “What these auto manufacturers are finding when they’re getting into the $100-to-$200-per-kilowatt-hour range is these vehicles are really on parity with other vehicles.” Therefore, if we just look at these numbers, there is no pressing need to work on rechargeable solutions.

Oran Ezer, Electroad
Image Credit: Oran Ezer, ElectRoad

What are the Potential Benefits?

The biggest advantage of this form of powering buses is sustainability. The Buses will not use polluting fossil fuels that simultaneously rob the planet of natural resources and damage caused by pollution. If the technology could be extended and applied in cars and other types of vehicles, this could be a feasible solution to the problem of cars and trucks accounting for 20% of U.S emissions.

This technology could also contribute to a greener world in a more subtle way: by producing power. This idea has not yet been integrated into the design, but Oren Ezer, chief executive and co-founder of ElectRoad, claims that the system could be used two-ways, meaning that the buses would feed electricity produced by braking back into the grid.

The post Scientists Have Officially Started Testing Wireless Charging Roads for Electric Vehicles appeared first on Futurism.

Forests have been removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing carbon for more than 300 million years. When we cut down or burn trees and disturb forest soils, we release that stored carbon to the atmosphere. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere from human activities have come from deforestation.

To slow climate change, we need to rapidly reduce global emissions from fossil fuels, biofuels, deforestation, and wetland and agricultural soils. We need to also accelerate the removal of carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere.

In a new report published by the nonprofit Dogwood Alliance, my co-author Danna Smith and I show that we have a major opportunity to make progress on climate change by restoring degraded U.S. forests and soils. If we reduce logging and unsustainable uses of wood, we can increase the rate at which our forests remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and ensure that it will remain stored in healthy forests.

An undervalued resource

At the 2015 Paris climate conference, the United States and 196 other nations agreed to combat climate change by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement recognizes that forests play an important role in meeting climate goals by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing carbon in trees and soils. But the agreement calls for steps only to protect and restore tropical forests.

These forests clearly are important. They hold such enormous amounts of carbon that if they were a country, their emissions from logging and forest clearing would rank them as the world’s third-largest source, behind China and the United States.

But these activities are also having a serious and little-recognized impact in the United States. Net U.S. forest growth each year removes an amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere equal to 11 to 13 percent of our fossil fuel emissions. This is only about half of the average carbon uptake by forests worldwide. In other words, U.S. forests are much less effective at capturing and storing carbon relative to our fossil fuel emissions than forests globally.

The greatest contribution to this gap is logging. We are cutting trees in the United States at a rate that has reduced the carbon storage potential of U.S. forests by 42 percent of its potential. Recent satellite images show that the southeastern United States has the highest forest disturbance rate in the world.

Overharvesting reduces carbon storage

When European settlers arrived at the start of the 17th century, forests covered much of the eastern and northern portion of North America. By the late 1800s, 85 to 90 percent of these forests had been cut. Only about 1 percent of original intact old-growth forest remains in the lower 48 states. Regrowth now covers 62 percent of areas that originally were forested, and commercial tree plantations cover an additional 8 percent.

Tree plantations grow rapidly but are harvested frequently and retain very little soil carbon and are harvested more frequently. As a result, they store less carbon than natural forests.

And we are still logging our forests at a significant rate. According to recent studies, timber harvesting in U.S. forests currently releases more carbon dioxide annually than fossil fuel emissions from the residential and commercial sectors combined.

These harvests support a large wood and paper products industry. The United States produces about 28 percent of the world’s wood pulp and 17 percent of timber logs – more than any other country in the world. It is also the leading producer of wood pellets and wood chips for the growing forest bioenergy sector (burning wood in various forms for energy) at home and abroad.

Wood energy is not low-carbon

Forest bioenergy is widely considered to be a renewable fuel source, because new trees can grow – albeit slowly – to replace those that are consumed. But it is not a low-carbon energy source. Bioenergy produces about as much carbon as coal per unit of heat released. Burning wood in power plants to generate electricity is typically 50 percent more carbon-intensive than coal-fired generation per unit of electricity produced.

But proponents assert that forest bioenergy is carbon-neutral because new tree growth, somewhere now or in the future, removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and “offsets” carbon emissions when biofuels are burned. Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated clearly that bioenergy is as carbon-intensive as fossil fuels, the European Union and many U.S. states classify biomass as a zero-carbon energy source like wind and solar power.

Wood yard, Schiller Station, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. One boiler at the four-unit plant was converted to wood in 2006 and has consumed more than five million tons of wood fuel. PSNH/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Today 60 percent of the European Union’s renewable energy comes from bioenergy. Notably, the United Kingdom is ending its use of coal for electricity, but is replacing coal with wood pellets imported from the southeast United States.

Needless to say, it does not make economic sense to import eight million tons of wood pellets yearly across the Atlantic Ocean. However, the British government has provided over $1 billion in annual subsidies to utilities to pay the cost of pellet production and transport.

Moreover, under climate accounting rules, emissions from burning wood for energy are counted as coming from land use change — that is, harvesting trees. This means that the United Kingdom is outsourcing carbon emissions from its wood-fired power plants to the United States. And the U.S. forest products industry and U.K. power companies are profiting from activities that have serious harmful impacts on Earth’s climate.

The value of standing forests

Forests provide more than forest products or carbon storage. They prevent flooding, provide natural filtration for drinking water, support wildlife, moderate local temperature extremes and provide a storehouse of scientific knowledge, cultural values and recreation opportunities.

To make forests part of our climate strategy, we need a carbon accounting system that accurately reflects flows of carbon between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Bioenergy emissions should be counted as coming from energy production, rather than as a land use change.

We also must manage our forest systems on a sound ecological basis rather than as an economic growth-oriented business, and value the multiple ecosystem services that forests provide. One way to do this would be to pay landowners for maintaining standing forests instead of only subsidizing logging for timber, fiber or fuel. We cannot log and burn our way to a low-carbon, stable climate future.

The post We Can Curb Climate Change. Here’s Where We Start. appeared first on Futurism.

Hydrogen Fuel

Scientists from the University of Antwerp and University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium have an innovative new solution to pollution (rhyme intended). They have developed a device that filters polluted air and, through that process, produces energy.

The device is a two-roomed photoelectrochemical cell. In one room of the cell, air is filtered in and purified using a photoanode. The process produces hydrogen, which is collected by a cathode behind the membrane that separates the two rooms. This hydrogen can be stored and later used as fuel.

*3* Pollution Can Now be Made Into Fuel

“In the past, these cells were mostly used to extract hydrogen from water. We have now discovered that this is also possible, and even more efficient, with polluted air,” explained Professor Sammy Verbruggen, an author of the study, in a university news release.

As it stands, the device is just a proof-of-concept design. It only measures a few square centimeters, so it couldn’t begin to take on our massive existing pollution problem. However, the idea behind the device is incredibly promising.

A Pollution-Free Future

While the researchers’ tiny device is still a long way from being useful against pollution, this type of thinking and innovation is the key to progress. Clean energy production and pollution are both massive and worsening environmental, financial, and medical issues. Climate change is not slowing down, and so our efforts to combat it should only be intensifying.

Costa Rica: Pioneering a Renewable Future [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Thankfully, many of the world’s governments are doing just that. China, for instance, is a leading contributor of greenhouse gasses and air pollution. The toxins in the country’s air pose an immediate and serious health risk for its citizens. In response, the nation has been heavily investing in renewable energy sources and aims to improve emissions standards. Recently in Rhode Island, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. was installed, shutting down a nearby diesel plant, and countries like Germany, Costa Rica, and Canada are all making huge strides toward the elimination of fossil fuels.

Innovation and creative solutions like this air-cleaning fuel cell are part of the answer. Change is possible — we just have to be willing to embrace it.

The post A Tiny Device Can Transform Air Pollution Into Usable Fuel appeared first on Futurism.

Cleanup Efforts

Human-created pollution is not a minor threat to our oceans, but a massive and worsening issue. The biggest example, literally, is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s the largest collection of trash in the world’s oceans, a mass of both visible and microscopic debris that floats around, wreaking havoc on wildlife and the fragile ecosystem.

An Ocean of Plastic [Infographic]
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Thankfully, one group has taken it upon themselves to try to solve this problem: The Ocean Cleanup. The Dutch organization that is taking on the monumental task of tackling ocean pollution, and on May 11, the foundation publicly announced their intention to start cleaning up the garbage patch in 2018 with a new, redesigned version of their cleanup system.

The organization claims that this improved system is capable of cleaning the patch in as few as five years. The system uses the natural power of ocean current to operate. Fifty U-shaped screens weighed down by anchors collect plastic in a central location, and the plastic is later brought to shore for recycling. The items created out of the recycled plastic will help fund the project, which is expected to cost a great deal less than the original design’s $320 million pricetag.

Our Future Oceans

The cleanup of this garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean is just the start. This technology, invented by The Ocean Cleanup’s  CEO and founder Boyan Slat, has no small task ahead of it. Currently, an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are polluting our oceans, amounting to 269,000 tons of waste, and marine animals are consistently harmed by this debris.

More and more species are going extinct due to human-caused issues like climate change, pollution, and deforestation, so conservation efforts must become a priority. As the inventive and monumental efforts of The Ocean Cleanup dive deep into this task, hopefully, others will take notice and be inspired to follow suit. Pollution is our problem, so it is up to us to deal with it. Perhaps in five years, this garbage patch will, indeed, be gone, and the Pacific Ocean will be one step closer to being trash-free.

The post The Pacific Ocean Is One Step Closer to Being Almost Totally Debris-Free appeared first on Futurism.

A scientist accidentally discovered that wax worms can digest polyethylene. Could this be a solution to the millions of tons of plastic waste we produce every year?

The post Worms Could Hold the Key to Reducing the World’s Plastic Waste appeared first on Futurism.

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