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IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [9/28 - 10/4/2018]

Release time:2018-10-17


1.After plastic straws, this entrepreneur wants plastic toothbrushes to disappear

People are turning against plastic straws. Christina Ramirez wants them to think about another piece of plastic they use every day -- the toothbrush.

The movement to ban plastic straws is being backed by big businesses like Starbucks and McDonald's.

"I've been waiting for this moment for years," said Ramirez. "Plastic is bad for the environment and for your body because of chemicals in it. Why would you want to put it in your mouth?"

She isn't referring only to straws.

Ramirez is an entrepreneur. Her startup, Plus Ultra, has been on a mission since 2012 to raise awareness about another throwaway plastic item -- toothbrushes -- and replace them with toothbrushes made from bamboo.

Today, the Plus Ultra bamboo toothbrushes she debuted in 2012 are sold in more than 320 retail stores in 22 states, including Whole Foods and Amazon.

So while the world's attention is on the perils of plastic straws, she wants toothbrushes to quickly become the other shoe to drop in the race to curb the buildup of millions of tons of global plastic waste.

The startup, which has 3 full-time and 3 part-time employees, is profitable and generates between $1 million to $2 million in sales a year, she said. And through a partnership, the business had expanded its sales team to over 100 sales reps.

Toothbrushes are the tip of her bamboo lifestyle brand.

Ramirez wants to expand to other products found in the bathroom.

Source: CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/30/success/bamboo-toothbrush-plastic-alternative/index.html


2.To truly fight climate change, we need to set our sights higher

The catastrophic recent weather events in the United States, Asia and elsewhere have once again shown that the world is in the midst of a climate crisis of our own making. While countries like ours are on the front lines of the worst impacts to come, these events remind us that no country is immune.


Simply put, the commitments the world has made so far under the Paris Agreement to reduce the emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are woefully inadequate. And we are out of time. If we do not increase these commitments by 2020 as the agreement requires us to do, the potential impacts will be devastating, and they threaten the lives, homes and livelihoods of people in countries like ours.


We must act, and we must make the world understand its responsibility to act.

That is why, together, Fiji and the Marshall Islands, as members of the High Ambition Coalition, which came together in the Paris negotiations, are committed to continuing to lead the world by example. At this year's UN General Assembly, we were among the first to announce that we will deliver stronger new targets to reduce emissions, and have, or are in the process of developing, long-term decarbonization plans.


Last Monday, the Marshall Islands published one of the most ambitious plans to decarbonize an economy, pledging to reach net-zero emissions by midcentury, and to implement short-term plans consistent with that long-term vision. This makes sense for our economy and our environment, as well as for our people and our planet. We will do this by transforming our electricity, waste and transportation sectors, and putting a big new focus on adaptation, for which we will be heavily reliant on securing additional international public finance.

Source:CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/opinions/climate-change-marshall-islands-fiji-bainimarama-heine/index.html


3.A new material harnesses light to deice surfaces

A new material that converts light into heat could be laminated onto airplanes, wind turbines, rooftops and offshore oil platforms to help combat ice buildup.

This deicer, called a photothermal trap, has three layers: a top coating of a ceramic-metal mix that turns incoming light into thermal energy, a middle layer of aluminum that spreads this heat across the entire sheet — warming up even areas not bathed in light — and a foam insulation base. The photothermal trap, described online August 31 in Science Advances, can be powered by sunshine or LEDs.

Engineer Susmita Dash of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru and colleagues laid a 6.3-centimeter-wide sheet of the deicing material out in the sun on a day averaging about –3.5° Celsius, alongside a sheet of aluminum. Within four minutes, the photothermal trap heated to about 30° C, while the aluminum warmed to only about 6° C. After five minutes, snow on the surface of the photothermal trap had mostly melted off, but snow remained caked on the aluminum.

Deicing surfaces typically involves energy-intensive heating systems or environmentally unfriendly chemical sprays. By harnessing light to melt ice away, the new photothermal trap may provide a more sustainable means of keeping surfaces ice-free. “This is a new direction for anti-icing,” says Kevin Golovin, a materials scientist and engineer at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna not involved in the work.

Source: science news

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-material-harnesses-light-deice-surfaces


4.Revealing the Dark Side of Wind Power

Any solution to global warming will almost certainly rely on an expansion of renewable energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions with clean solar or wind energy and related technologies. It’s still far from clear, however, which technologies might deliver copious amounts of energy when we need it while avoiding negative environmental consequences.

Research published today may help clarify the situation — and it’s not encouraging for wind-power enthusiasts. It suggests that the power available from wind is much more limited than many experts thought, and that deployment on a larger scale could significantly raise temperatures over the Earth’s surface, as turbines alter atmospheric flows. The research highlights a painful but not altogether surprising reality: Even the cleanest renewable technologies come with environmental costs.

As human energy demand keeps rising, especially in India and China, carbon dioxide emissions will soar unless we shift to zero-carbon energy sources. Recent progress has been encouraging. Still, in 2017, wind and solar energy together accounted for less than 8 percent of the U.S.’s electricity. Questions remain about how much energy we might expect any one technology to supply and what the consequences of significantly scaled-up use might be.

For wind power, researchers have debated how much energy might ultimately be harvested, with estimates of the available energy density — how much we might gather per unit of surface area — ranging all the way from 0.5 to 200 watts per square meter. The higher figures tend to come from studies of single turbines in isolation, and lower numbers when considering how, in larger wind farms, one turbine can disrupt wind flows and reduce the energy-gathering efficiency of other turbines nearby. The lowest estimates come from theoretical studies of the physics of atmospheric flows. The new study comes down firmly on the lower end of the range.

source: Bloomberg Opinion


https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-10-04/wind-power-isn-t-as-clean-as-we-thought-it-was


5.This robotic jellyfish could help save our reefs from climate change

A squishy robotic jellyfish that can ride ocean currents and squeeze harmlessly into tight spaces could soon give scientists a better tool for studying coral reefs and tracking their response to waters that are warming as a result of climate change.

The robo-jellyfish is made of a soft rubber that feels “a bit like a stress ball,” said Erik Engeberg, an associate professor of engineering at Florida Atlantic University and the leader of the team developing the robot. Its eight battery-powered tentacles siphon and expel seawater to propel the bot in a slow, almost hypnotic manner that makes it look very much like a real jellyfish.

The scientists recently tested multiple prototypes of the robot along the South Florida coast and described the results in a paper published online Sept. 18 in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.

The robot is designed to measure temperature and salinity and other information about the underwater environment without harming the reefs' delicate structures or disturbing the creatures living among them. That's not always possible with the underwater drones sometimes used to conduct reef research.

The drones' noisy propellers can gouge reef structures and scare marine life, said Dimitri Deheyn, a researcher with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, who isn't involved with the robotic jellyfish project.

Source: Mach

https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/robotic-jellyfish-could-help-save-our-reefs-climate-change-ncna913111




6.Coal is still king in 18 US states. But for how long?

Based on government statistics published this week, coal is the primary source of electricity generation in 18 US states, although coal’s market share has declined in recent years.


Although natural gas, a new clean power, plays a more critical role in the US, American still lean heavily on the coal industry for producing electricity and creating jobs. Matt Hoza, manager of energy analysis at consulting firm BTU Analytics, said: “natural gas is still hard to replace the role of coal in the electricity industry. ”


According to the US Energy Information Administration, the coal industry has been threatened by the new clean powers because of their lower price. The coal’s market share had declined from 60 percent three decades ago to 30 percent last year. Meanwhile, neutral power and wind energy, which are renewable energies, are also rapidly growing in recent years.

Source: CNN News

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/30/investing/coal-power-natural-gas-renewable/index.html


7. What does 1.5C mean in a warming world?

In the past three years, the definition of the safe limitation of climate change has been changed by some scientists. For decade years, scientists believe that 2C is a safe temperature of global temperature rise for avoiding the negatives effects on the whole world. However, some scientists indicate that the safe limitation of climate change should be decreased from 2C to 1.5C.


Since 1975, William Nordhaus propose that the 2C safe limitation idea which has been recognized by the most scientists and states. Nevertheless, some island states and low-lying countries argue that the “two degrees” cannot protect them but 1.5C can bring more benefits for them in the long term.


Kaisa Kosonen, a staff at Greenpeace, said:“ 2C is becoming less meaningful for the global warming because this safe temperature cannot protect what we care about anymore. ” This week, scientists at Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) gather in Inchon for discussing the 1.5C issue.

Source: BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45678338




8. Trump administration working to weaken EPA radiation regulations

Trump administration is working to weaken EPA radiation regulations. They believe that a bit of radiation is better for the public health. Trump administration has proposed a series of EPA regulations, such as regulations on toxins and pollutants, which have a significant influence on U.S. company.


The supporters of this new EPA radiation regulation believe that current vision of radiation regulation leads to the government increase its unnecessary budget at nuclear plants or in medical centers.  Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts, said:“ the new EPA proposal not only having a positive effect on the public health but also saving billions of dollars on the government budget. ”


However, the opposites of this EPA  proposal believe that the government needs to protect the masses from all kinds of potential threatens. Jan Beyea, a physicist, said: "EPA’s suggestion that a bit of radiation is better for the public health, rejecting by most scientists. The new proposal will increase radiation exposures in the outdoor environment."

Source: NBC News


https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/trump-administration-working-weaken-epa-radiation-regulations-n915976



9.Delays to energy efficient goods will cost EU consumers 'billions' in lost savings

EU diplomats states that there are 15 new energy efficient eco-designs have been delayed, although experts believe these new energy efficient products play an important role in Europe’s Paris climate pledge and reduce the cost of public’s energy bills.


One EU diplomat told the Guardian that they are so worried about the delay decisions. “We understand that it is hard to make all new energy efficient eco-designs succussed, but it is possible to make at least 9 or 10 of them succussed.” He mentioned that the result would not be acceptable if all of the new products have been rejected.


Chloé Fayole, a senior programme manager at the European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standards, said: “high-level EU officials are impeding EU’s plan about climate change and waste reduction. These delay decisions will increase the cost for customers and the environment. It is not an appropriate strategy. ”

Source: The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/02/delays-to-energy-efficient-goods-will-cost-eu-consumers-billions-in-lost-savings




10. Warmer springs can reduce summer plant productivity

A new extensive study shows that warmer springs can reduce summer plant productivity. Meanwhile, this study question the current climate models underestimate the effect of warmer springs on plant productivity but overestimate ecosystems ability to absorb carbon.


In the past, people believe that global warming could extend plants’ growing periods, promoting the photosynthesis, gaining more biomass and absorbing more carbon. However, the study shows warmer springs have a negative effect on plant productivity. In many areas, warmer springs decrease plants’ biomass in summer and autumn and limit plants’ ability to absorb carbon.


Dr. Buermann said:“ warmer springs are set to be a standard for predicting climate change. We should use our model to research how warmer springs influence the ecosystems and climate change.  Then, we could predict how climate will change in the future. ”

Source: phys.org

https://phys.org/news/2018-10-warmer-summer-productivity.html


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