Day: October 1, 2019

The Word Nobody Wanted to Say at the UN Climate Action Summit

Read the full story at ProPublica.

The leaders of more than 70 countries have made a promise that sounds nothing short of revolutionary. By 2050, they say they will reach “net zero,” putting no more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than can be somehow canceled out.

While the net zero buzzword was as ubiquitous at last week’s United Nations Climate Action Summit as the presence of teenage activist Greta Thunberg, the details of how the countries would reach their ambitious goals were elusive. There was little talk of eliminating the use of fossil fuels, a drastic but economically tricky and politically painful step that would guarantee those emissions reductions.

Instead, some experts fear, the answer involves an overreliance on offsets, a word that has become so unfashionable, it has been replaced by euphemisms like “nature-based solutions.” In general, offsets allow polluters to get credit for cutting their own emissions by paying someone in another city, state or country to reduce theirs.

In tech ‘awakening,’ U.S. workers at Google, Amazon join climate protests

Read the full story from Reuters.

Hundreds of workers from Google, Amazon and other technology companies on Friday joined climate-change marches in San Francisco and Seattle, saying their employers had been too slow to tackle global warming and needed to take more drastic action.

Data journalism solves big problems, but it’s an organizational mess. A new tool from the AP aims to fix that.

Read the full story from Poynter.

Data journalism has uncloaked offshore financial havens, caught police breaking the same rules of the road that they’re supposed to be enforcing and laid bare how American infrastructure carves out zones of inequality.

It often seems like the area of journalism that focuses on numbers, analysis and systemic problems is capable of revealing any issue, global or local, manmade or natural. But one issue data journalism hasn’t been able to solve is one within its own walls — standardization.

It sounds like an arcane, almost bureaucratic problem, but the structure of data journalism is often a Wild West in need of a lasso. Data journalists rely on multiple programming languages and countless processes and techniques to get their jobs done — rendering collaboration between newsrooms or even individual journalists an exercise in translation.

It makes sense that the Associated Press, a newsroom that exists to work with other newsrooms, would want to solve this problem. Last week, the AP unveiled AP Datakit, a free and open source tool built to make it easier for newsrooms and journalists to collaborate on data journalism.

Meet the 3 Climate Scientists Named MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Fellows

Read the full story at Inside Climate News.

Their research is helping answer existential questions of our time: How much will sea level rise, how fast, and what will be the impact on human civilizations?

Chemists grapple with lack of diversity displayed in ‘dude walls’ of honor

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Academics share tales of rethinking the all-male portrait galleries in their departments

Soap from straw: Scientists develop eco friendly ingredient from agricultural waste

Read the full story from the University of Portsmouth.

A scientist has discovered a way of using one of the world’s most abundant natural resources as a replacement for humanmade chemicals in soaps and thousands of other household products.

Environmental DNA project launches with sampling event on the River Adur

Read the full story in Envirotec.

The 1000 Rivers eDNA Project, the first large-scale environmental DNA project using citizen science to monitor waterways throughout the North Atlantic region, has now launched after an event on the banks of the River Adur in Sussex on 11 September.

Fossil fuel subsidies reach US$87 billion in EU countries – and they’re growing

Read the full story in The Conversation.

European governments often appear to champion low-carbon policies. Yet, in 2017, European Union countries collectively spent US$87 billion subsidising the cost of fossil fuels. Shockingly – at a time when the world needs to act to stop climate change – this is nearly 2.5 times more than they spent in 2010.

This increase in wasteful and environmentally devastating spending has been driven by a significant shift towards dirtier economic and environmental policies in nearly every EU country. And the key offenders contributing to this change have – perhaps surprisingly – been Germany and France. They are actually two of the most vocal proponents of interventionist climate policy.

In general, poor transparency makes it difficult to determine how much money is involved when quantifying fossil fuel subsidies. In my research I’ve developed an indirect method that infers the size of fossil fuel subsidies by comparing how much fossil fuels countries use. Countries that appear to use “too little” fossil fuels are indicative of polices that act like taxes. Conversely, countries using “too much” fossil fuels suggest that subsidies dominate. Using this techniques we can examine the size of subsidies across the EU.

My calculations show how central and eastern European countries have traditionally been the biggest fossil fuel subsidisers in the EU, generating 86% of the total or US$75 billion in 2010. The picture, however, is no longer as clear cut. In 2017, central and eastern European country subsidies accounted for only 50% of the EU’s US$87 billion total.

How nail salons are trying to be less wasteful by going waterless

Read the full story from Fast Company.

This nail trend is catching on the U.S., with salons from New York to California ditching water in their practices. It makes for businesses that are both more sustainable and more sanitary.

Sterigenics is leaving Willowbrook, eliminating key source of cancer-causing ethylene oxide in Chicago’s western suburbs

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

For more than a year, community activists in Chicago’s western suburbs fought to drive Sterigenics out of Willowbrook. The village mayor and leaders of surrounding communities threatened to seize the company’s sterilization plant through eminent domain. State lawmakers from both political parties promised to ensure the controversial facility closed for good.

But in the end, it appears a routine business decision helped nudge the Oak Brook-based company to abandon its Willowbrook operation, which federal records show was one of the nation’s largest industrial sources of cancer-causing ethylene oxide pollution.

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