Positive Environmental news thread

N&P: Discuss governments, nations, politics and recent related news here.

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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by Elheru Aran » 2019-10-30 10:50am

madd0ct0r wrote:
2019-10-30 09:02am

1) change in society's opinion of how clean a river should be
2) generally speaking, far less discharge of heavy metals and toxic waste from industry
I suspect things like rivers being literally on fire and boaters having to get booster shots if they even just fell in the water, never mind swimming, contributed quite a bit.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-11-19 07:36pm

Live TV
Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough
By Matt Egan, CNN Business
Updated 11:04 AM EST, Tue November 19, 2019

New York(CNN Business)A secretive startup backed by Bill Gates has achieved a solar breakthrough aimed at saving the planet.

Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven — one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you'd find on the surface of the sun.

The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.

"We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions," Bill Gross, Heliogen's founder and CEO, told CNN Business. "And that's really the holy grail."

Heliogen, which is also backed by billionaire Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, believes the patented technology will be able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry. Cement, for example, accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

"Bill and the team have truly now harnessed the sun," Soon-Shiong, who also sits on the Heliogen board, told CNN Business. "The potential to humankind is enormous. ... The potential to business is unfathomable."

Heliogen, backed by Bill Gates, has achieved a breakthrough that could allow cement makers to transition away from fossil fuels. The company uses artifical intelligence and an array of mirrors to create vast amounts of heat, essentially harnessing the power of the sun.
Heliogen, backed by Bill Gates, has achieved a breakthrough that could allow cement makers to transition away from fossil fuels. The company uses artifical intelligence and an array of mirrors to create vast amounts of heat, essentially harnessing the power of the sun.
Unlike traditional solar power, which uses rooftop panels to capture the energy from the sun, Heliogen is improving on what's known as concentrated solar power. This technology, which uses mirrors to reflect the sun to a single point, is not new.

Concentrated solar has been used in the past to produce electricity and, in some limited fashion, to create heat for industry. It's even used in Oman to provide the power needed to drill for oil.

The problem is that in the past concentrated solar couldn't get temperatures hot enough to make cement and steel.

"You've ended up with technologies that can't really deliver super-heated systems," said Olav Junttila, a partner at Greentech Capital Advisors, a clean energy investment bank that has advised concentrated solar companies in the past.

Using artificial intelligence to solve the climate crisis
That means renewable energy has not yet disrupted industrial processes such as cement and steelmaking. And that's a problem because the world has an insatiable appetite for those materials. Cement, for instance, is used to make the concrete required to build homes, hospitals and schools. These industries are responsible for more than a fifth of global emissions, according to the EPA.

That's why the potential of Los Angeles-based Heliogen attracted investment from Gates, the Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder who recently surpassed Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos as the world's richest person.

"I'm pleased to have been an early backer of Bill Gross's novel solar concentration technology," Gates said in a statement. "Its capacity to achieve the high temperatures required for these processes is a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuel."

Heliogen, founded by Bill Gross, must convince industrial companies it's worth the investment to switch over to its solar technology.
Heliogen, founded by Bill Gross, must convince industrial companies it's worth the investment to switch over to its solar technology.

While other concentrated solar companies attacked this temperature problem by adding steel to make the technology stiffer and sturdier, Heliogen and its team of scientists and engineers turned to artificial intelligence.

Heliogen uses computer vision software, automatic edge detection and other sophisticated technology to train a field of mirrors to reflect solar beams to one single spot.

"If you take a thousand mirrors and have them align exactly to a single point, you can achieve extremely, extremely high temperatures," Gross said, who added that Heliogen made its breakthrough on the first day it turned its plant on.

Heliogen said it is generating so much heat that its technology could eventually be used to create clean hydrogen at scale. That carbon-free hydrogen could then be turned into a fuel for trucks and airplanes.

"If you can make hydrogen that's green, that's a gamechanger," said Gross. "Long term, we want to be the green hydrogen company."

For now, Heliogen is squarely focused on solar. One problem with solar is that the sun doesn't always shine, yet industrial companies like cement makers have a constant need for heat. Heliogen said it would solve that issue by relying on storage systems that can hold the solar energy for rainy days.

Now that it has made this breakthrough, Heliogen will focus on demonstrating how the technology can be used in a large-scale application, such as making cement.

"We're in a race. We just want to scale as fast as possible," said Gross.

After the large-scale application, Soon-Shiong said Heliogen would likely be ready to go public.

'Nervous and scared.' Coal workers fear for pensions after Murray Energy bankruptcy
'Nervous and scared.' Coal workers fear for pensions after Murray Energy bankruptcy
In the meantime, Heliogen will require a healthy dose of capital to scale and it's working with investors on a private round of funding. Soon-Shiong signaled he plans to invest more in Heliogen. Heliogen declined to provide information on how much money it has raised so far.

"This is an existential issue for your children, for my children and our grandchildren," Soon-Shiong said.

Heliogen's biggest challenge will be convincing industrial companies using fossil fuels to make the investment required to switch over. Gross said the company has been talking to potential customers privately and plans to soon announce its first customers.

"If we go to a cement company and say we'll give you green heat, no CO2, but we'll also save you money, then it becomes a no-brainer," said Gross.

Its biggest selling point is the fact that, unlike fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, sunlight is free. And Heliogen argues its technology is already economical against fossil fuels because of its reliance on AI.

"The only way to compete is to be extremely clever in how you use your materials. And by using software, we're able to do that," Gross said
Aside from reminding me of the Macguffin from the film Sahara, this is a positive step.

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Citing Pollution Decrease, Scientists Call for Permanent Changes Post-COVID

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2020-04-12 01:31pm

Citing Pollution Decrease, Scientists Call for Permanent Changes Post-COVID
Scientists, activists and religious leaders ranging from Pope Francis to filmmaker Spike Lee are highlighting lockdown reductions in air pollution and nature "coming alive" as part of a larger call to permanently change industrial and economic behavior after COVID-19.

Pope Francis said last week that the deadly worldwide coronavirus pandemic is one of "nature's responses" to humans' mistreatment of Planet Earth, telling a Catholic U.K. publication that "God always forgives, but Nature never forgives." This sentiment was echoed by environmental researchers, politicians and activists who are urging world leaders to permanently reduce carbon emissions, air pollution and fossil fuel burning in order to "flatten the curve" of climate change. COVID-19, which has caused the deaths of more than 107,000 people worldwide, has placed much of the industrialized world into lockdown, simultaneously clearing up blue skies in India and improving air quality in the northeastern United States as it wreaks havoc on global health care systems.

"The blissful sight of blue skies and the joy of breathing clean air provides just the contrast to illustrate what we are doing to ourselves the rest of the time," Dr. Shashi Tharoor told The Guardian Saturday.

Scientists, religious leaders and entrepreneurs are calling to "flatten the curve" of climate change's negative effects as the COVID-19 lockdown has seen air quality skyrocket and industrial pollution decline as billions of people shelter-in-place.
Evidence of smog lifting in New Delhi, pandas finally mating in China, and air pollution dropping above New York, New Jersey and Maryland have circulated news reports globally, but climate researchers and scientists warn there must be permanent reductions in pollution, transportation and industry to continue these changes post-pandemic.

NASA satellite data showed a 30 percent drop in nitrogen dioxide above the northeastern U.S., as tens of millions of vehicles were kept off the roads and fossil fuels typically burned for transportation purposes were largely halted. In the northern region of India, a country which placed its 1.4 billion people on lockdown and kept New Delhi's 11 million registered vehicles off the roads, Air Quality Index levels improved to their best in decades.

A pair of separate studies published in the online scientific journal Nature this month on rebuilding damaged ocean ecosystems and global warming, respectively, saw researchers seeking to "flatten the curve" of climate change similar to the reversal sought in stemming new COVID-19 cases.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by mr friendly guy » 2020-05-03 12:57am

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2020/05/01/ ... -says-iea/
Global PV capacity additions hit 115 GW in 2019, says IEA
In terms of new solar installations, China was the world’s largest PV market for the third year in a row with 30.1 GW of fresh capacity in the 12 months to the end of December, followed by the United States with 13.3 GW and Japan with 7.7 GW.


Last year, PV developers throughout the world installed 114.9 GW of new solar power, according to fresh statistics from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In its Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Market 2020 report, the IEA said that last year’s total represented a 12% increase from 2018, with significant growth across all continents. Overall, a total of 629 GW of solar was installed throughout the world by the end of 2019.

In terms of new capacity, China was the largest PV market for the third year in a row in 2019 with 30.1 GW, followed by the United States with 13.3 GW and Japan with 7.7 GW.

The European Union – which is included in the top 10 as a single entity, making it the world’s second-largest market in theory – registered an overall increase of around 16 GW. Spain and Germany added the largest amount of capacity on the continent last year, with 4.4 GW and 3.9 GW, respectively.

Asia accounted for around 57% of total new capacity additions last year. Countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia compensated for declining demand in China and India in 2019.

The IEA said that all of the PV systems installed throughout the world are currently able to cover about 3% of global electricity demand.

“In the coming years, photovoltaics will have the potential to develop into an important source of electricity in an extremely fast pace in several countries around the world,” the IEA said.

The IEA also identified a series of factors that could support the rapid growth of PV in the years to come, such as falling prices for storage, the rapid spread of electric vehicles, and improvements in the production of green hydrogen.

In its latest set of full-year statistics, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said that the world added 97.1 GW of new PV capacity in 2019. This means that the difference between its report and the IEA PVPS figures is around 17.8 GW.
The march of solar continues on. China now has almost as much as the entire European Union + US combined (looking at the chart from the link), with 204.7 GW capacity vs 207.6 GW from US and EU combined.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by madd0ct0r » 2020-05-03 05:49am

Clean air in Europe during lockdown ‘leads to 11,000 fewer deaths’
Study into effects of coronavirus curbs also finds less asthma and preterm births

Jonathan Watts

Thu 30 Apr 2020 07.00 BSTLast modified on Thu 30 Apr 2020 09.46 BST
A near-empty A1 in north London

The improvement in air quality over the past month of the coronavirus lockdown has led to 11,000 fewer deaths from pollution in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, a study has revealed.

Sharp falls in road traffic and industrial emissions have also resulted in 1.3m fewer days of work absence, 6,000 fewer children developing asthma, 1,900 avoided emergency room visits and 600 fewer preterm births, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

While the pandemic continues to take a terrible toll – more than 220,000 deaths worldwide since the start of the year – the authors of the report say the response has offered a glimpse of the cleaner, healthier environment that is possible if the world shifts away from polluting fossil fuel industries.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... wer-deaths

The article notes this is for one month in Europe.
Not the rolling six months worldwide or the fact that India and China are both highly populated and highly polluted.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2020-05-22 05:14pm

Climate change and coronavirus: Five charts about the biggest carbon crash
By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent
6 May 2020
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Related TopicsOur Planet Matters
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption
Traffic has almost disappeared in many cities around the world, such as LA (pictured)
We're living through the biggest carbon crash ever recorded.

No war, no recession, no previous pandemic has had such a dramatic impact on emissions of CO2 over the past century as Covid-19 has in a few short months.

Multiple sources indicate we are now living through an unrivalled drop in carbon output.

But even though we will see a massive fall this year, the concentrations of CO2 that are in the atmosphere and warming our planet won't stabilise until the world reaches net-zero.

Download the updated BBC Energy Briefing (10.4MB) (PDF, 10.4MB)
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As our chart shows, since the Spanish flu killed millions over 100 years ago, the global expansion of emissions of CO2, from the use of oil, gas and coal has risen massively.

While these energy sources have transformed the world, the carbon seeping into our atmosphere has driven up global temperatures by just over 1C since the mid-1850s.

They could rise by 3-4C by the end of this century if CO2 levels aren't savagely reduced.

Over the past 100 years, as indicated on the graphic, a number of events have shown that dramatic falls in carbon are possible.

Much is made of the financial crash in 2008-2009, but in reality, carbon emissions only fell by around 450 million tonnes between 2008 and 2009.

This is much smaller than the fall in CO2 in the aftermath of World War II, which saw a drop of around 800 million tonnes.

Media captionCoronavirus and climate change a "double crisis", say activists
It is also smaller than the global recession in the early 1980s that followed the oil crisis of the late 1970s.

During this period, CO2 went down by around one billion tonnes.

But the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 dwarves all of these previous shocks by some distance.

In a few months, demand for energy globally has fallen off a cliff.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that the world will use 6% less this year - equivalent to losing the entire energy demand of India.

This will feed through to large falls in CO2.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
A number of different analyses, including this one from Carbon Brief, show that emissions this year will fall by 4-8%, somewhere between 2 and 3 billion tonnes of the warming gas.

That's between six and ten times larger than during the last global recession.

We're travelling less
By air and on roads, the world has cut back heavily on travel.

Full lockdowns have also pushed global electricity demand down by 20% or more, says the IEA.

Across the full year, the need for electricity will fall by 5% - the biggest drop since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"This is an historic shock to the entire energy world," says Dr Fatih Birol, IEA executive director.

The changes in energy demand will have a knock-on effect on global coal demand, which is set to fall 8% this year.

With China the first country to stall its economy in response to the virus, coal use dropped sharply at first, though it is now rebounding and the expectation among energy analysts is that production this year will be down by just over 1%.

Researchers say the biggest thing hitting CO2 emissions right now is the reduction in road transport.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption
Air travel has fallen by half in the US
According to the IEA global average road transport activity fell to 50% of the 2019 level by the end of March 2020.

As can be seen in our chart, almost every country has seen a huge drop in road use. This has resulted in a massive fall in the use of oil.

"Back in the 2009 recession, average oil demand dropped by 1.3 million barrels per day versus 2008. And now 2020 is set to average 10 million barrels per day less than 2019." said Erik Holm Reiso, from Rystad Energy, an independent research firm.

"It's a much more severe cycle."

Similarly, air travel has dropped hugely, but by different amounts in different regions.

In Europe, the number of flights is down around 90%, whereas in the US it has been more resilient with around half the number of planes taking off compared to last year.

Globally, though, the demand for jet fuel is down 65% year-on-year to April.

"What we're seeing is that the largest relative reduction is in air traffic," said Robbie Andrew, a senior researcher at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (Cicero).

"But air emissions are only about 3% of global total. So while the relative reductions in land transport are lower than air transport, the absolute reductions there are much more significant."

A really simple guide to climate change
Climate change: Where we are in seven charts
It's not the same everywhere
While the lockdown might feel rather uniform across the world, there have been huge variations in emissions reductions from different cities.

If we take Paris and New York as examples, the contrast, as shown on our chart, is huge.

Paris saw a CO2 drop of 72% (+/-15%) in the month of March compared to normal.

New York in the same period, saw a CO2 fall of around 10%.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption
Paris has seen a dramatic fall in CO2 since the lockdown began
So why the big difference?

"In the Paris area, there are no large fossil fuel power plants, or industrial sites," said Philippe Ciais, from the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in Paris.

"Another difference is whether buildings are heated with fuels or with electricity. In France, around 70% of electricity comes from nuclear."

Much of New York's CO2 comes from emissions related to the heating of buildings. But significant emissions come from fossil fuel plants based within the city limits. Cars make up a much smaller proportion of overall energy use.

"I guess something to think about is that we shut down the entire city and got a reduction of 10% in the CO2 emissions," said Prof Róisín Commane from Columbia University in New York.

"We are still emitting more than 80% of our previous CO2 emissions. That is a massive number. So personal behaviour really isn't going to fix the carbon emission problem. We need a systematic change in how energy is generated and transmitted."

Media captionOur Planet Matters: Climate change explained
Have CO2 emissions already peaked?
Back in 2008, the European electricity industry was hit badly by the global financial recession and demand for power fell sharply.

But when that demand picked up again, it was solar and wind that were by then large enough to supply all the growth.

Europe's use of fossil fuels to produce electricity never returned to the level it had been at before the crash.

Experts now believe something similar could happen with the coronavirus pandemic.

"In about half of the world, we've already seen peak demand for fossil fuels," said Kingsmill Bond, from independent financial think tank Carbon Tracker.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption
Air pollution has cleared in some parts of Nepal due to restrictions there
"In Europe it was 2005, in the USA 2007."

This means that the trend in demand has been downhill ever since.

He added: "There has been a global coal demand peak in 2013. If you look at car demand, it is increasingly accepted that you saw peak conventional car demand in 2017."

So will the pandemic's big hit on carbon mean that last year, 2019, becomes the year the world reached a turning point?

Not so fast.

The carbon emissions drop that followed the recession in 2009 was followed by a sharp rise of almost 6% in 2010.

Something similar could happen over the next couple of years.

"At this point, we do not see any clear signs that the pandemic and our societal response to it will lead to significant and permanent changes in the path of future global emissions," said Robbie Andrew from Cicero.

"Right at the moment what we're seeing are immediate emissions responses, and following most previous crises, global emissions have returned to their pre-crisis trajectory."

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption
The oil industry has ground to a halt as demand has slumped
What if CO2 was cut like this each year?
To keep the world on track to stay under 1.5C this century, the world needs similar cuts for the foreseeable future to keep this target in view.

"If Covid-19 leads to a drop in emissions of around 5% in 2020, then that is the sort of reduction we need every year until net-zero emissions are reached around 2050," said Glen Peters, also from Cicero.

"Such emissions reductions will not happen via lockdowns and restrictions, but by climate policies that lead to the deployment of clean technologies and reductions in demand for energy."

Energy experts believe there will be a bounce back next year, but that, long term, the world will move to greener fuels.

But it may not be enough to keep temperatures down to safer levels.

"That downward slope will accelerate over time beyond peak fossil energy," said Erik Holm Reiso, from Rystad Energy.

"That doesn't chime with 1.5C, but maybe 1.8-1.9C degrees could be within reach and this situation right now could help achieve that, I think."

Lessons learnt?

Many climate researchers are optimistic that this deadly pandemic has taught governments some critical lessons that they can apply to the problem of rising temperatures.

The big challenge is to ensure the recovery has a green focus.

According to Prof Gail Whiteman from Lancaster University, UK, it was almost impossible to believe that governments around the world, when faced with a health emergency, would put humanity ahead of the economy. But they did.
So, countries which rely on fossil fuels for power had less off a carbon dropoff than countries that rely on other means, such as nuclear or renewables. Still, it has helped.

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