Day: March 11, 2021

BloombergNEF: US on track to meet Paris climate goals, but economic rebound could change that

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

The U.S. cut carbon emissions by the largest margin on record during 2020, according to the ninth Sustainable Energy in America Factbook by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and BloombergNEF.

The 9% decrease in emissions puts the U.S. on track to achieve the 2025 Paris climate goal; however, a return to normal economic conditions could cause emissions to rebound, particularly as the transportation sector recovers, according to Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas for BloombergNEF.

Zindler said he expected the power sector, which did not see as great a decline in demand during the pandemic, was likely to continue to decarbonize despite the likelihood of increased emissions in the future from other industries.

Cold Weather Issues for Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Alaska

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An informal statewide survey distributed by the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in November of 2019 showed there is substantial interest in electric vehicle (EV) adoption in Alaska, though concerns related to cold weather issues remain. To address these concerns, this review of literature and existing information on EVs in Alaska finds that the current generation EVs typically perform well in cold weather, with similar or better handling compared to morphologically similar internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The most concerning cold weather issues are large range decreases, slower charging times, lower power availability in extreme cold, and the need to keep a vehicle plugged in or in a heated space especially during extended periods with ambient temperatures below about -20°C (-4°F).

Campaigners call for river, lake and ocean clean-up to secure the future of fish and fisheries

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

They have fed us for millennia and are critical for the food and nutrition security, livelihoods and cultures of hundreds of millions of people across the globe. But today, nearly a third of freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction.

Flood-prone homeowners could see major rate hikes in FEMA flood insurance changes, new study finds

Read the full story in USA Today.

With a major overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program just months away, new data released Monday by the First Street Foundation suggests hundreds of thousands of homeowners in the riskiest locations across America could face massive rate hikes starting in October.

Pollen can raise your risk of COVID-19 – and the season is getting longer thanks to climate change

Pollen can suppress how the body’s immune system responds to viruses. Callista Images via Getty Images

Exposure to pollen can make you more susceptible to COVID-19, and it isn’t just a problem for people with allergies, new research released March 9 shows. Plant physiologist Lewis Ziska, a co-author of the new peer-reviewed study and other recent research on pollen and climate change, explains the findings and why pollen seasons are getting longer and more intense.

What does pollen have to do with a virus?

The most important takeaway from our new study is that pollen can be a factor in exacerbating COVID-19.

A couple years ago, my coauthors showed that pollen can suppress how the human immune system responds to viruses. By interfering with proteins that signal antiviral responses in cells lining the airways, it can leave people more susceptible to potentially a whole host of respiratory viruses, such as the flu virus and other SARS viruses.

In this study, we looked specifically at COVID-19. We wanted to see how the number of new infections changed with the rise and fall of pollen levels in 31 countries around the world. We found that, on average, about 44% of the variability in COVID-19 case rates was related to pollen exposure, often in synergy with humidity and temperature.

The infection rates tended to rise four days after a high pollen count. If there was no local lockdown, the infection rate increased by an average of about 4% per 100 pollen grains in a cubic meter of air. A strict lockdown cut the increase by half.

This pollen exposure isn’t just a problem for people with hay fever. It’s a reaction to pollen in general. Even types of pollen that typically don’t cause allergic reactions were correlated with an increase in COVID-19 infections.

What precautions can people take?

On days with high pollen counts, try to stay indoors to limit your exposure as much as possible.

When you’re outdoors, wear a mask during pollen season. Pollen grains are large enough that almost any mask designed for allergies will work to keep them out. However, if you’re sneezing and coughing, wear a mask that’s effective against the coronavirus. If you’re asymptomatic with COVID-19, all that sneezing increases your chances of spreading the virus. Mild cases of COVID-19 could also be mistaken for allergies.

Why is pollen season lasting longer?

As the climate changes, we’re seeing three things that relate specifically to pollen.

One is an earlier start to pollen season. Spring changes are starting earlier, and there are signals globally of exposure to pollen earlier in the season.

Second, the overall pollen season is getting longer. The time you’re exposed to pollen, from spring, which is primarily driven by tree pollen, to the summer, which is weeds and grasses, and then the fall, which is primarily ragweed, is about 20 days longer in North America now than it was in 1990. As you move toward the poles, where temperatures are rising faster, we found that the season is becoming even more pronounced.

Third, more pollen is being produced. Colleagues and I described all three changes in a paper published in February.

As climate change drives pollen counts upward, that could potentially result in greater human susceptibility to viruses.

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These changes in the pollen season have been underway for several decades. When my colleagues and I looked back at as many different records of pollen keeping as we could locate since the 1970s, we found solid evidence suggesting that these shifts have been happening for at least the past 30 to 40 years.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are rising and the surface of the Earth is warming, and that’s going to affect life as we know it. I’ve been studying climate change for 30 years. It’s so endemic of the current environment that it’s going to be hard to look at any medical issue without at least trying to understand whether climate change has already affected it or is going to do so.

Lewis Ziska, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Europe pledges to make beverage packaging fully circular by 2030

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, a trade organization representing the non-alcoholic beverage sector, has set targets for European beverage packaging to be fully circular by 2030. This will be achieved by using rPET, refillable bottles, and boosting collection rates.

Better Origin, which turns flies into food for chickens, raises $3M from… Fly Ventures

Read the full story at Tech Crunch.

It turns out, where there are flies, there’s brass. Better Origin is a startup that converts waste food into essential nutrients using insects fed to chickens inside a standard shipping container. It’s now raised a $3 million seed round led by Fly Ventures and solar entrepreneur Nick Boyle, while previous investor Metavallon VC is also participating. Its competitors include Protix, Agriprotein, InnovaFeed, Enterra and Entocycle.

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