IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [8/23 - 8/30/2018]

Release time:2018-09-04

1.The world's first floating farm making waves in Rotterdam

The world's first offshore dairy farm opens in the Port of Rotterdam this year, with the aim of helping the city produce more of its own food sustainably.

Built-up urban areas may not seem like the most sensible places to run farms, but reducing the distance food travels before it reaches consumers' plates makes environmental sense as it reduces transport pollution.

"Seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy I was struck by the need for food to be produced as near as possible to consumers," says Mr van Wingerden.

The farm also aims to reuse and recycle as much as it can


2.Air pollution is making us dumber, study shows

Air pollution could be more damaging to our health than previously thought, according to a new study, which found that prolonged exposure to dirty air has a significant impact on our cognitive abilities, especially in older men.

The damage air pollution has on aging brains likely imposes substantial health and economic cost, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly to both running daily errands and making high-stakes economic decisions," study author Xiaobo Zhang of Peking University said.

Cognitive decline or impairment, which could be caused by air pollution according to the study, are also potential risk factors in developing Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

"The damage on cognitive ability by air pollution also likely impedes the development of human capital. Therefore, a narrow focus on the negative effect on health may underestimate the total cost of air pollution," Zhang said. "Our findings on the damaging effect of air pollution on cognition imply that the indirect effect of pollution on social welfare could be much larger than previously thought."

Source: CNN

3. London boroughs to impose ultra-low emission zones

Two London councils are to ban all but the cleanest vehicles from some areas at peak times to help tackle the city’s air pollution crisis.

In the UK’s first scheme of its kind, only ultra-low emission vehicles such as electric cars, e-bikes, and the newest hybrids and hydrogen vehicles will be allowed on nine streets in Hackney and Islington from 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm on weekdays.

From 3 September, drivers of petrol, diesel and older hybrid vehicles will incur a fine if they travel into the CCTV-monitored areas.

“This ground-breaking proposal for ‘electric streets’ – the first of its kind in the UK – will priorities low pollution transport such as electric cars and cut polluting vehicles during peak hours in the streets surrounding Central Foundation Boys school in Islington – the most polluted state secondary in London.”

The ban on polluting vehicles comes as Hackney council announced plans to install around 180 electric vehicle charging points, in addition to the existing 22 across the borough, in the next year.

Source: the Guardian


4. 'Rain dancing 2.0': should humans be using tech to control the weather?

Farmers in Mexico have accused Volkswagen of ruining their crops by installing “hail cannons”, which fire shockwaves into the atmosphere in an effort to prevent hail storms from damaging the cars rolling off the production line.

The devices are being blamed for causing a drought during months when farmers near the German carmaker’s plant in Puebla expected plenty of rain.

It’s done in more than 50 countries worldwide for various reasons including dispersing fog at airports, reducing property damage from giant hailstones in Canada and to increase snowfall in Colorado and summer rainfall in Texas.

Critics are concerned that manipulating the weather is only treating the symptoms of drought rather than tackling the underlying causes.

That hasn’t stopped states and businesses from continuing to seed clouds, in some cases on a dizzying scale. The Chinese government is developing the world’s most ambitious cloud seeding project to boost rainfall across the Tibetan plateau, an area spanning 620,000 sq miles – three times the size of Spain.

Source: the Guardian

5. How plastic waste has been turned into benches

Volvo Ocean Race is a 45,000 miles race around the world which using plastic is not avoidable. Over 1000kg of plastic was collected onboard and at the event in Cardiff. The aim was to turn it into something more useful and long lasting.

A nearby factory helped to recycled it. Plastic is often contaminated with other material, so first it’s shredded. Rocks sand and metals are removed. Later washed again. Four times. The pellets are later used to make everything from building materials and then benches.

The Welsh government wants companies here to "lead the charge" on plastic recycling.

Source: BBC

6.ESA's role in easing water scarcity

Water is the most significant resource for life on the earth. Unfortunately, water scarcity and pollution leave a lot of negative effects on the whole world, which could not be neglected by the public. From 26–31 August 2018 in Stockholm, the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) successfully hold the annual World Water Week, focusing on water scarcity.

According to the UN data, there are more than 40% of the global population will be influenced by the water scarcity issue, in 2050. A quarter of the worldwide community may live in a long-term water shortage country. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum's listed water scarcity as one of five most significant risks to the world in its Global Risks Report.

Benjamin Koetz, a scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA), mentioned that ESA continually works with environmental data through satellites for providing an early-warning system for extreme weather issues. For example, GlobWetland is a project that ESA use satellites to collect information about the ecological status of African wetlands. Additionally, ESA cooperates with the UN agencies and development banks to push forward several innovative projects for achieving sustainable development goal.


7.UK summer 'wind drought' puts green revolution into reverse

The UK is seeking to develop new clean power, especially wind energy and solar, to reduce the utilization of coal.  However, this summer, sunny skies leads to the “wind drought” phenomenon which means that turbine blades sit around and wind systems cannot function in normal mode.

As compared to the wind farm capacity of last year, the total numbers of the wind farm are increased by 10%, but the wind farm capacities have dropped from 12.9% to 10.4%, based on National Grid show. However, analysts state that it is not necessary to worry about development prospects of the renewable-energy business. Also, scientists mention that those two energies are complementary, meaning solar lows coincided with wind highs. Experts believe that integrate solar and wind energy is an efficient way to solve this problem.

Pascal Storck, director of renewable energy at environmental measurement firm Vaisala, said: “Although solar and wind energy are two competitive renewable energy, integrating those new renewable energies is important for the UK to update a diverse energy mix. ”

Source: The Guardian

8. China is Hot Spot of Ground-Level Ozone Pollution

China is hot spot of ground-level ozone pollution. According to the newest assessment, the level of substances released into the air in China is two to six times than that in Europe, the United States, Japan, and South Korea. One indicator of the ground-level ozone pollution is that measuring the total number of days with daily maximum average ozone values (8-hour average). In China, the total number of days with over 70 ppb average ozone values (8-hour average) is is higher than that in other countries.

Zhang Lin, experts at Peking University, said:“ in eastern and central China, the total number of days with over 70 ppb average ozone values (8-hour average) is over 60, which is much higher than the national standard. ”

Ozone pollution not only damages to plants but also has a negative influence on human. However, ozone pollution in China has increased in the past five years, based on several ozone pollution indicators. It is a serious environmental issue, which could not be neglected by China.

Souce: Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

9.Scientists find pocket of warm water trapped under Arctic with potential to melt entire ice pack

In northern Canada, warm water trapped under Arctic with potential to melt entire ice pack. Scientists find that the warm water is original from hundreds of miles away, but the warm water has permeated into Arctic area. According to data from Yale University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, researchers state that the “heat content” of this area has increased by more than 50% in the past 30 years.

The speed of warming in the Arctic is twice than the average rate of global warming. Based on the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s report, the data of extreme weather has broken through worst records in recent years.

The global warming damages to the life, including human and other animals in Arctic area. It leaves a negative influence both on the region’s polar bears and seals and all kinds of human activities.

Source: Independent

10. Los Angeles’ Hoover Dam Energy Idea May Face Historic Hurdles

Los Angeles plans to buy a 20-mile system to store water power. The scheme aims to save water power for Hoover Dam’s electrical turbines generate, like a giant battery.

There are two motivations for Los Angeles to purchase this system. Firstly, the water level of Lake Mead has continually decreased in recent years which damages to the normal function of Hoover Dam’s electrical turbines generate. Secondly, California state government encourage utilizing new clean power instead of using coal. Meanwhile, water power is more stable, as compared to other clean energies, such as solar and wind energy.

However, there are also some considerations about this plan. At first, the cost of transporting a 20-mile system to be connected to Hoover Dam is high. Moreover, building a giant system may result in a severe effect on the local environment. Furthermore, the water level of Colorado has continually declined. It seems not a right time to build a considerable store water power system in Colorado.

Source: US News

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