Category Archives: Venta

Utility Solar Installations to Grow Despite Tariff

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Utility Solar Installations to Grow Despite Tariff

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Best climate scenario is still too hot for many communities of color

It’s no surprise that the U.N.’s new major climate report has a lot to say about heat. But as average global temperatures continue to rise, certain communities are more at risk of getting burned than others.

Extreme heat already kills more people in the United States than any other weather event, including hurricanes or flooding. And when it strikes, urban low-income and communities of color often pay the highest price.

To paint a picture of how serious this is, we’ll need to get into some numbers. Scientists say that if we want to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we have to stop the world from reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030. This is a hard number to hit, considering we’re currently on track to reach 3.4 Celsius by the end of the century. But even if we succeed, that moderate rate of warming would still lead to 38,000 more heat-related deaths each year compared to rates from the 1960s to 1990s.

Just how much heat mortality rates rise will depend on additional factors, including the vulnerability of specific populations, the built environment, and whether or not people have access to air conditioning. Older people, children, and people with pre-existing conditions are the most vulnerable to the heat. It can trigger asthma attacks and other complications as the body struggles to cool itself.

“You have more emergency room visits, more doctor visits, it’s just bad all around,” says Afif El-Hasan, a pediatrician and national spokesperson for the American Lung Association.

El-Hasan, who also serves on the Environmental Justice Advisory Group at the Southern California Air Quality Management District, says some of his low-income patients keep their windows open in lieu of air conditioning, inadvertently increasing their exposure to nearby sources of air pollution. Those pollutants can end up damaging their lungs, making them even more vulnerable to heat waves. The changing climate, coupled with socioeconomic inequities, trigger an avalanche of health risks, El-Hasan says. “Everything just cascades on top of each other and becomes a bigger problem than it might have otherwise been.”

Like real estate, heat vulnerability is very much about location. Not only are neighborhoods that border freeways more polluted, but they’re also actually hotter too. Plants and trees help cool the air, while dark pavement traps heat. As a result, places with more concrete and less green — often low-income, black and brown neighborhoods where there’s been a history of redlining or disinvestment — are several degrees warmer than their typically more affluent neighbors. It’s called the urban heat island effect, and in places like New York City, its consequences are stark. On average, 100 people die each year in the city — half of them African Americans, even though they only make up a quarter of the population.

“It’s becoming unlivable in urban cities,” says Cynthia Herrera, Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a community-based organization in Harlem. Over the summer, her organization tracked the number of weather advisories in the hopes of gathering information to help the community adapt to a warming climate. They recorded four heat waves this past summer — a number that’s likely to rise but already feels overwhelming to residents.

“Even if we just stay the same and have four heat waves every summer for the next 10 years we’re not prepared,” she said.

Heat-related deaths are entirely preventable, and there are still ways for communities to adapt — like greening cities and making sure people have places to cool down. Kim Knowlton, senior scientist and deputy director at the National Resources Defence Council, has hope that the U.N. report will be a wake-up call.

“The science about this has to do with everyone,” Knowlton says. “I hope that people start to demand protections for themselves.”

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Best climate scenario is still too hot for many communities of color

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5 Ways To Green Your Hotel Stay

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5 Ways To Green Your Hotel Stay

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The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe – Steven Novella, Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella & Evan Bernstein

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The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

Steven Novella, Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella & Evan Bernstein

Genre: Essays

Price: $15.99

Publish Date: October 2, 2018

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.


An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking from podcast host and academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine Steven Novella and his SGU co-hosts , which Richard Wiseman calls "the perfect primer for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction." It is intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures-no one has the secret, and there is no place to look up the definitive answers to our questions (not even Google). Luckily, THE SKEPTICS' GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE is your map through this maze of modern life. Here Dr. Steven Novella-along with Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, and Evan Bernstein-will explain the tenets of skeptical thinking and debunk some of the biggest scientific myths, fallacies, and conspiracy theories-from anti-vaccines to homeopathy, UFO sightings to N- rays. You'll learn the difference between science and pseudoscience, essential critical thinking skills, ways to discuss conspiracy theories with that crazy co- worker of yours, and how to combat sloppy reasoning, bad arguments, and superstitious thinking. So are you ready to join them on an epic scientific quest, one that has taken us from huddling in dark caves to setting foot on the moon? (Yes, we really did that.) DON'T PANIC! With THE SKEPTICS' GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE, we can do this together. "Thorough, informative, and enlightening, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe inoculates you against the frailties and shortcomings of human cognition. If this book does not become required reading for us all, we may well see modern civilization unravel before our eyes." –Neil deGrasse Tyson "In this age of real and fake information, your ability to reason, to think in scientifically skeptical fashion, is the most important skill you can have. Read The Skeptics' Guide Universe ; get better at reasoning. And if this claim about the importance of reason is wrong, The Skeptics' Guide will help you figure that out, too." –Bill Nye

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The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe – Steven Novella, Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella & Evan Bernstein

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Green Your Period

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Green Your Period

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5 Green Fashion Brands

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Shipping giants look lustily at the warming Arctic

When a blue-hulled cargo ship named Venta Maersk became the first container vessel to navigate a major Arctic sea route this month, it offered a glimpse of what the warming region might become: a maritime highway, with vessels lumbering between Asia and Europe through once-frozen seas.

Years of melting ice have made it easier for ships to ply these frigid waters. That’s a boon for the shipping industry but a threat to the fragile Arctic ecosystem. Nearly all ships run on fossil fuels, and many use heavy fuel oil, which spews black soot when burned and turns seas into a toxic goopy mess when spilled. Few international rules are in place to protect the Arctic’s environment from these ships, though a proposal to ban heavy fuel oil from the region is gaining support.

“For a long time, we weren’t looking at the Arctic as a viable option for a shortcut for Asia-to-Europe, or Asia-to-North America traffic, but that’s really changed, even over the last couple of years,” says Bryan Comer, a senior researcher with the International Council on Clean Transportation’s marine program. “It’s just increasingly concerning.”

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Venta Maersk departed from South Korea in late August packed with frozen fish, chilled produce, and electronics. Days later, it sailed through the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia, before cruising along Russia’s north coast. At one point, a nuclear icebreaker escorted Venta Maersk through a frozen Russian strait, then the container vessel continued to the Norwegian Sea. It’s expected to arrive in Germany and St. Petersburg later this month.

The trial voyage wouldn’t have been possible until recently. The Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with sea ice, snow cover, glaciers, and permafrost all diminishing dramatically over recent decades. In the past, only powerful nuclear-powered icebreakers could forge through Arctic seas; these days, even commercial ships can navigate the region from roughly July to October—albeit sometimes with the help of skilled pilots and icebreaker escorts.

Russian tankers already carry liquefied natural gas to Western Europe and Asia. General cargo vessels move Chinese wind turbine parts and Canadian coal. Cruise liners take tourists to see surreal ice formations and polar bears in the Arctic summer. Around 2,100 cargo ships operated in Arctic waters in 2015, according to Comer’s group.

“Because of climate change, because of the melting of sea ice, these ships can operate for longer periods of time in the Arctic,” says Scott Stephenson, an assistant geography professor at the University of Connecticut, “and the shipping season is already longer than it used to be.” A study he co-authored found that, by 2060, ships with reinforced hulls could operate in the Arctic for nine months in the year.

Stephenson says that the Venta Maersk’s voyage doesn’t mean that an onrush of container ships will soon be clogging the Arctic seas, given the remaining risks and costs needed to operate in the region. “It’s a new, proof-of-concept test case,” he says.

Maersk, based in Copenhagen, says the goal is to collect data and “gain operational experience in a new area and to test vessel systems,” representatives from the company wrote in an email. The ship didn’t burn standard heavy fuel oil, but a type of high-grade, ultra-low-sulfur fuel. “We are taking all measures to ensure that this trial is done with the highest considerations for the sensitive environment in the region.”

Sian Prior, lead advisor to the HFO-Free Arctic Campaign, says that the best way to avoid fouling the Arctic is to ditch fossil fuels entirely and install electric systems with, say, battery storage or hydrogen fuel cells. Since those technologies aren’t yet commercially viable for ocean-going ships, the next option is to run ships on liquefied natural gas. The easiest alternative, however, is to switch to a lighter “marine distillate oil,” which Maersk says is “on par with” the fuel it’s using.

But many ships still run on cheaper heavy fuel oil, made from the residues of petroleum refining. In 2015, the sludgy fuel accounted for 57 percent of total fuel consumption in the Arctic, and was responsible for 68 percent of ships’ black carbon emissions, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Black carbon wreaks havoc on the climate, even though it usually makes up a small share of total emissions. The small dark particles absorb the sun’s heat and directly warm the atmosphere. Within a few days, the particles fall back down to earth, darkening the snow and hindering the snow’s ability to reflect the sun’s radiation—resulting in more warming.

When spilled, heavy fuel oil emulsifies on the water’s surface or sinks to the seafloor, unlike lighter fuels which disperse and evaporate. Clean-up can take decades in remote waters, as was the case when the Exxon Valdez crude oil tanker slammed into an Alaskan reef in 1989.

“It’s dirtier when you burn it, the options to clean it up are limited, and the length it’s likely to persist in the environment is longer,” Prior says.

In April, the International Maritime Organization, the U.N. body that regulates the shipping industry, began laying the groundwork to ban ships from using or carrying heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. Given the lengthy rulemaking process, any policy won’t likely take effect before 2021, Prior says.

One of the biggest hurdles will be securing Russia’s approval. Most ships operating in the Arctic fly Russian flags, and the country’s leaders plan to invest tens of billions of dollars in coming years to beef up polar shipping activity along the Northern Sea Route. China also wants to build a “Polar Silk Road” and redirect its cargo ships along the Russian route.

Such ambitions hinge on a melting Arctic and rising global temperatures. If the warming Arctic eventually does offer a cheaper highway for moving goods around the world, Comer says, “then we need to start making sure that policies are in place.”

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Shipping giants look lustily at the warming Arctic

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10 Sustainable Mattress Companies: Choosing Your Perfect Green Sleep

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10 Sustainable Mattress Companies: Choosing Your Perfect Green Sleep

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Are Solar Panels Recyclable?

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Are Solar Panels Recyclable?

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Earth911 Quiz #29: Solar Progress Check

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Earth911 Quiz #29: Solar Progress Check

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