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Don’t be April fooled, Google did not just swear off funding climate deniers

Congratulations! After an approximately 4 billion year–long March, we’ve made it to April 1st. Under normal circumstances, this day would be filled with jolly fun, like cars covered in plastic wrap, sugar in the salt shaker, fake product launches, and of course, the infamous annual Google prank.

But after days or weeks of being shut in our homes, washing our hands to oblivion, eyes glued to charts and maps showing the coronavirus spreading around the country and the number of cases and deaths ticking upward, pranks don’t have much appeal right now. Out of respect for the essential workers who are risking their lives to get us through this, Google officially called off its annual joke.

But it did appear to make a big announcement today. A very convincing statement from CEO Sundar Pichai appeared at the address agreenergoogle.com today, with an exciting message: The company will stop funding climate change deniers.

“In lieu of our normal April Fools’ joke, today we’re getting serious,” it says. The site goes on to list eight organizations that Google has funded or otherwise worked with that have opposed measures to fight climate change like the Paris Agreement and Obama’s Clean Power Plan. It includes an apology for “putting profits over the planet” and for stalling on changing its ways for so long. COVID-19 has forced the company to reckon with the perils of ignoring science, it says.

Sigh, if only that were the case. The site is a prank put out by the New York City arm of the climate protest group Extinction Rebellion. While not everyone will appreciate the group using a global health crisis to further its mission, the message is more sobering than funny. There are more truths on the page than jokes: Google has made substantial contributions to major climate deniers in Washington, including the eight groups listed on the site. It has also been criticized by its own workers for not doing enough to cut its carbon footprint. Despite being a carbon neutral company, the company’s operations still run on fossil fuels, which it makes up for by buying renewable energy and carbon offsets.

As the prank highlights, Google’s funding of climate denial is dangerous. We’re now experiencing something similar to the climate crisis but at “warp speed” and seeing the fatal consequences when people in power fail to heed scientists’ warnings and then downplay the seriousness of a global public health threat. Dumb April Fools’ Day jokes aside, misinformation kills.

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Don’t be April fooled, Google did not just swear off funding climate deniers

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Amazon accused of abandoning 100 percent renewable energy goal

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This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Amazon has been accused of abandoning a much-publicized goal of running its data centers on 100 percent renewable energy — instead focusing its attention on winning business from the oil and gas industry.

According to a Greenpeace report released earlier this year, some of Amazon’s most important data centers in Virginia, where the company has committed to building its second HQ, are powered by only 12 percent renewable energy. Across the company as a whole, Amazon reached 50 percent renewable usage in 2018, and has not issued any updates since.

This week, a report from the tech news site Gizmodo suggested one reason for the slowdown was Amazon’s increasing focus on bringing on board large oil and gas companies as Amazon Web Service customers.

The figures represent slow progress towards the goal, first announced in 2014, to power the entire company using renewables, and have led some to accuse Amazon of abandoning the goal entirely.

Alongside the organization’s report, Greenpeace’s Elizabeth Jardim said: “Despite Amazon’s public commitment to renewable energy, the world’s largest cloud computing company is hoping no one will notice that it’s still powering its corner of the internet with dirty energy.

“Unless Amazon and other cloud giants in Virginia change course, our growing use of the internet could lead to more pipelines, more pollution and more problems for our climate.”

Gizmodo’s report cited Andrew Jassy, the AWS chief executive, who told an oil and gas conference in Houston last month: “A lot of the things that we have built and released recently have been very much informed by conversations with our oil and gas customers and partners.”

Gizmodo contrasted his statement with another, reported in December, from the AWS executive Peter DeSantis, who “told colleagues inside the company that renewable energy projects are too costly and don’t help it win business.”

Amazon’s renewables record is in stark contrast to some of its competitors, most notably Google, which reported success in reaching 100 percent renewables use in 2017. “Our engineers have spent years perfecting Google’s data centers, making them 50 percent more energy-efficient than the industry average,” the company’s head of technical infrastructure, Urs Hölzle, said at the time.

“But we still need a lot of energy to process trillions of Google searches every year, play more than 400 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute and power the products and services that our users depend on. That’s why we began purchasing renewable energy – to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change. But it also makes business sense.”

A year later, Apple declared its “retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries” were powered by 100 percent clean energy. Facebook has committed to do the same by 2020.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes tech companies to task for conference promoting climate denial

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This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a Democrat from New York) and Representative Chellie Pingree (a Democrat from Maine) sent a letter to three of the nation’s biggest tech companies on Monday decrying their sponsorship of a conference this month that promoted climate change denial.

As Mother Jones reported last week, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all sponsored LibertyCon, a libertarian student conference held in Washington, D.C. The event featured a group called the CO2 Coalition, which handed out brochures in the exhibit hall that said its goal is to “explain how our lives and our planet Earth will be improved by additional atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

One brochure claimed that “more carbon dioxide will help everyone, including future generations of our families” and that the “recent increase in CO2 levels has had a measurable, positive effect on plant life,” apparently because the greenhouse gas will make plants grow faster. The group also sponsored the conference and a talk titled: “Let’s Talk About Not Talking: Should There Be ‘No Debate’ that Industrial Carbon Dioxide is Causing Climate Catastrophe?”

Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree, who are both making climate change a priority in the new Congress, were not pleased by the news. On Monday, they sent a letter to the CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft expressing their concern that the tech companies are contributing to the spread of misinformation about the reality of climate change despite their public commitment to reducing carbon emissions in their own operations.

Pingree says one of the reasons she and Ocasio-Cortez wrote this letter is that “climate change is clearly an all-hands-on-deck situation.” She adds, “Where I live in Maine, sea-level rise and warming is happening at a rate much faster than anyone ever anticipated.”

She says that the tech companies “claim by policy that they’re on board” with efforts to combat climate change, making their sponsorship of the conference all the more troubling. “The idea that they’re secretly working against it makes our job that much harder,” she says.

Pingree and Ocasio-Cortez wrote in their letter:

We understand that sponsorship of an event or conference is a common occurrence and that these sponsorships do not automatically indicate that the company endorses the variety of political viewpoints that may be presented at these events. However, given the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis that we are now facing, we find it imperative to ensure that the climate-related views espoused at LibertyCon do not reflect the values of your companies going forward.

As you are well aware, the spreading of misinformation can be dangerous to our society. Today’s coordinated campaign to deny climate change, or to put a positive spin on its effects, is not unlike that of the tobacco companies which once sought to discredit their product’s link to cancer. Their propaganda kept the nation from addressing a public health crisis for years, leading to many preventable deaths. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again with climate change.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes tech companies to task for conference promoting climate denial

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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – Nicholas Carr


The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

Nicholas Carr

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $11.99

Publish Date: June 6, 2011

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction: “Nicholas Carr has written a Silent Spring for the literary mind.”—Michael Agger, Slate “Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways. Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection. Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes—Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive—even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.

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The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – Nicholas Carr

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It’s not the economy, stupid. Here’s why focusing on money misses the big climate picture.

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If you’ve heard anything about last week’s huge White House climate report, it might be that climate change could dent the economy up to 10 percent by 2100 — more than twice the impact of the Great Recession.

However, that number is a strange one to highlight. Yes, climate change hurts the economy — the hurricanes of the past two years alone have caused nearly half a trillion dollars of damages — but projecting that forward 80 years into the future is awash with unnecessary uncertainty. It’s a number gleaned from a graph buried deep in the assessment. The real takeaway is that climate change is already hurting people, today.

And as the years roll by, those impacts will get exponentially worse. In an era where the U.N.’s climate body says we only have 12 years left to complete the process of transitioning to a society that’s rapidly cutting carbon emissions, all the attention on far-off economic risks drastically understates the urgency of the climate fight.

Money just isn’t the appropriate frame when we’re talking about the planet. Climate change is a special problem that traditional economic analyses aren’t built to handle. The idea of eternal economic growth is fundamentally flawed on a finite planet, and there is substantial evidence that these economic costs will be borne disproportionately by lower-income countries. There’s no dollar figure that anyone can attach to a civilization’s collapse.

In addition to the widely covered economic risks, there were scads of human-centered impacts listed in Friday’s report: Unchecked climate change will displace hundreds of millions of people in the next 30 years, swamping coastal cities, drying up farmland around the world, burning cities to the ground, and kickstarting a public health crisis inflicting everything from infectious disease outbreaks to suffocating air pollution to worsening mental health.

This process is already in motion. Those of us who talk about climate change for a living should be focusing our dialogue on the immediate danger of climate change in human terms, not making it even more abstract and distant than it already seemingly is.

If an asteroid was going to hit the Earth in 2030, we wouldn’t be justifying the cost of the space mission to blast it out of the sky. We’d be repurposing factories, inventing entire new industries, and steering the global economy toward solving the problem as quickly and as effectively as we can — no matter the cost. Climate change is that looming asteroid, except what we’re doing right now is basically ignoring it, and in the process actually making the problem much, much worse and much harder to solve.

Understandably, Americans’ views on climate change are sharply polarized and have become even more so during the Trump era. In that polarized environment, dry economic analysis doesn’t seem like enough to matter. It’s the human stories that give people visceral moral clarity and firmly establish contentious issues as important enough for a shift in society.

There’s proof of this: In the aftermath of every recent climate disaster Google searches for climate change spike, heartbreaking images of survivors lead national news coverage, and my own Twitter account is flooded with messages from readers asking what they can do to help.

If we are going to take heroic action on climate change in the next decade, it will be because of an overwhelming outrage that our fellow citizens are literally being burned alive by record-breaking fires — not a potential decline in GDP in 2100. In order for people to feel the true urgency of climate change, we’re going to have to talk a lot more about the people it’s already hurting.

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It’s not the economy, stupid. Here’s why focusing on money misses the big climate picture.

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Carbon offsets for urban trees are on the horizon

This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The evidence is in: Urban trees improve air and water quality, reduce energy costs, and improve human health, even as they offer the benefit of storing carbon. And in cities across the country, they are disappearing.

A recent paper by two U.S. Forest Service scientists reported that metropolitan areas in the U.S. are losing about 36 million trees each year. The paper, by David Nowak and Eric Greenfield, was an expansion of the same researchers’ 2012 study that found significant tree loss in 17 out of the 20 U.S. cities studied.

This arboreal decline is happening even in some areas that promote “million-tree” campaigns, Arbor Day plantings, and street-tree giveaways. Cash-strapped municipalities just can’t find enough green to maintain the green. Additionally, many cities are adjusting to population booms, and to temperature increases and drought due to climate change — both conditions that can be hard on trees (while increasing their value as sources of cooling and cleaner air). There’s also a growing recognition of the inequity of tree-canopy distribution in many cities, with lush cover in wealthy neighborhoods and far fewer trees in disadvantaged areas.

To find more funding for urban trees, some local governments, including Austin, Texas, and King County, Washington (where Seattle is located), are running pilot projects with a Seattle-based nonprofit called City Forest Credits (CFC). The nonprofit is developing a new approach: generating funding for city tree canopies from private companies (and individuals) that wish to offset their carbon emissions by buying credits for tree planting or preservation.

The vast majority of forest carbon credits worldwide have been issued for trees in tropical rainforests and other forests far from urban areas. A study released last year of the forest offsets in California’s cap-and-trade program found that they are effective at reducing emissions.

The new credits aim to quantify not only the carbon benefits of urban trees, but also rainfall interception, energy savings from cooling and heating effects, and air-quality benefits. CFC has no role in marketing or selling credits for specific projects, but maintains the standards (protocols) and credentialing for other organizations that sell them. A third-party firm, Ecofor, verifies compliance for tree-preservation projects. Tree-planting projects are either third-party verified, or, for smaller projects that cannot afford that, verified by CFC with peer review, using Google Earth and geocoded photos.

To be eligible for the credits, city tree projects must follow protocols created specifically for urban forests — rules governing such specifics as the location and duration of a project and how the carbon will be quantified.

The new credits “are specifically catered to the urban environment and the unique challenges and possibilities there, so they differ from traditional carbon credits,” said Ian Leahy, director of urban forestry programs at the nonprofit conservation group American Forests, and a member of the CFC protocol board.

“I think the work is innovative and potentially game-changing,” said Zach Baumer, climate program manager for the City of Austin. (Baumer also serves on the protocol board for CFC.) “To harness the market to create environmental benefits in cities is a great thing.”


The City of Austin aims to be carbon neutral in government operations by 2020. To get there, it has been reducing emissions through energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative fuels, and hybrid and electric vehicles. But the city will still need offsets to claim neutrality.

If governments and businesses choose to purchase these credits, they could help fill that gap, and they can keep their dollars local. Austin is running two pilot projects this year with CFC: a riparian reforestation project near a creek and a tree-planting project on school-district land. The City of Austin is purchasing the credits for both projects from the nonprofit TreeFolks, via CFC.

The fact that credits can cover both stream-side plantings and trees on school property illustrates the complex task of developing a city credit — the protocols and quantification methods must work for the disparate tree species and stewardship strategies of an urban forest, in contrast to the more controlled setting of an industrial plantation.

CFC is eager to road-test the protocols in Austin, said its founder and executive director, Mark McPherson, a Seattle lawyer and businessperson who has dedicated pro bono hours throughout his career to city tree issues. “Even though you have a national drafting group that put the protocols together, that brings together lots of expertise, they’re still cooked in the lab, if you will,” he said. “They have to be tested in the real world.” The effort is being helped by McPherson’s older brother, E. Greg McPherson, a prominent scientist in the field of urban forestry who helped develop the protocols.

King County

Another piece of the puzzle is a pilot project in King County, where a new land conservation initiative (LCI) targets protection of 65,000 acres, spanning urban areas to farmland. “We really want to maintain this intact landscape — what I’d call our natural infrastructure — that is the foundation of the quality of life we have here,” said Charlie Governali, the land conservation projects manager at King County’s Department of Natural Resources & Parks.

King County has been working with CFC over the last year, piloting a carbon program to help protect about 1,500 acres of currently unprotected and threatened tree canopy in and around urban communities. The county will consider expansion to a full-blown program by the end of 2018. Governali said there are already businesses interested in buying credits.

One of the first commitments made through CFC is a planting project on a rare parcel of open space in the City of Shoreline, just north of Seattle, funded by Bank of America through American Forests.

According to a study by the nonprofit Forest Trends, in 2016, $662 million globally went toward the purchase of carbon offsets for the protection or restoration of forests and other natural landscapes. The usual model is that for-profit carbon project developers work with landowners to qualify large forests for credits. Doubters have questioned whether city trees offer enough scale to be worthwhile, McPherson noted. “Carbon developers are thinking they want to lock up 10,000 acres of forest land, so they don’t see the scale or the volume in what we’re doing.”

But Governali said that for King County, the carbon protocol offers something different — a way to protect a lot of urban green space cumulatively by selling credits over time, and for many small green spaces.

Urban credits will be expensive — many times what a commodity credit for carbon might cost. Urban land is not cheap, and urban trees are costly to plant and maintain compared to those on forest land.

However, urban trees offer more public benefits. “Compared to one additional tree left standing in a far-off industrial forest, each additional urban tree we protect has an outsized human impact,” argued Governali, because these trees bring cooling on hot days, better air quality, and even improved mental health. Finally, he noted, the sale of carbon credits from urban trees can help a municipality buy the underlying land and make it a public park, “a place for families to gather, relieve stress, get some exercise, relax, and for children to play and learn.”

At the outset, the work adds to already full urban-forest workloads and stretches budgets, at least until credit revenue from buyers can support the programs. “We’re good at planting trees, but documenting the work to create an official carbon credit is new for us,” said Austin’s Baumer. However, generating credits is one more way to stall or reverse tree loss at a time when people are just starting to understand how critical trees — whether elms, oaks, Douglas firs, or cedars — are to a city’s health and economy.


Carbon offsets for urban trees are on the horizon

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How to Live Sustainably When You’re an Eco-Conscious Nomad (Or Travel a Lot)

We became eco-conscious greenies a little while after transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle. With retail therapy out the window, recycling, composting and shopping more mindfully (i.e. not for fun) were the next obvious step.

Even without a car, our new way of living wasn?t that much of a challenge. We did have our own apartment though, which made things a whole lot easier. Things got tricky when we made the move to full-time house-sitting.

Suddenly we had to figure out what to do with our kitchen waste, where to drop off our recycling, how to avoid additional packaging, etc. It hasn?t always been easy, but it?s shown us that living lightly is always an option.

Whether you live a nomadic lifestyle like we do, or simply want to travel more sustainably, there are plenty of ways you can go about reducing your carbon footprint while on the road.


Carrying your own eating utensils sounds pretty lame, right? Surely there must be a more epic way to earn your eco-warrior cape. Say, making a movie about global warming or starting your own environmental foundation.

Those things are awesome, but when you consider how long it takes trash to decompose you?ll realize that the simple act of carrying your own water bottle or coffee cup is heroic. Stop using plastic straws and you?re looking at Chuck Norris superpowers.

When you add up the number of meals and drinks you enjoy out, using your own travel utensils can have a huge impact on the environment. At a minimum, you should carry your own water bottle, reusable coffee cup and eco-friendly cutlery set.

A couple of snack and food containers?won’t go amiss either, as you can use them when you order take-out or to store leftovers in when you dine out. Finally, having a couple of reusable straws on hand is always a good idea.


If you have a vehicle it isn?t nearly as difficult as you might think to save your kitchen waste and recycling. Let?s start with recycling, because that?s the easiest. We simply store all our recycling in a reusable shopping bag and empty it out whenever it gets full.

Nowadays, a lot of shopping malls have recycling bins where you can offload glass, paper and plastic. Sometimes you?ll get lucky and find a depot that accepts bags of unsorted recycling. Winning. A quick search in Google will help you pinpoint your nearest available drop-off point.

For kitchen waste all you need is a small bucket and some food waste recycling bran to speed up decomposition and more importantly, eliminate unpleasant odors. When the bucket is full you just need to find somewhere to offload it.

A lot of places have community gardens that will be all too happy to take your kitchen waste. You could also check with city services to see if they have something in place. The city of Nanaimo, Canada, for example, collects residents? kitchen waste once a week.

If you can?t find anything, another option is to look on community notice boards, ask at the local farmer?s market or do a search on Gumtree or Craigslist. There?s almost always an eco-conscious hippie out there who?d be happy to help.


We recently decided to hire a car for a few months so that we?d be able to take advantage of house-sitting opportunities further afield, where public transport isn?t as user-friendly (or safe).

It?s definitely not something we plan to do long-term (gas and parking are way too expensive), but for now it serves us to have our own transport. We?re offsetting the increase in carbon emissions by donating trees to Greenpop.

If your plan is to actually live on the road, then there are some things you need to consider before embarking on your nomadic lifestyle. For example, will you opt for a travel trailer, RV or van?

They each come with their own set of eco-conscious pros and cons, so you’ll need to give that some thought. And once you?ve acquired your new home, there?s also the business of ?greening? it to make it more sustainable.


But what if your travels take you abroad? Is it even possible to fly sustainably? According to Lauren Singer from Trash is for Tossers, there are plenty of steps you can take to travel lightly.

She says opting to fly direct as far as possible, choosing a?fuel-efficient?airline and taking advantage of carbon offset programs are some of the things you can do to minimize the impact of your wanderlust.

At the end of the day, it doesn?t really matter whether you?re at home, on the road or in the tent in the middle of nowhere. If you strive to live as lightly as possible, you?ll make a difference.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Live Sustainably When You’re an Eco-Conscious Nomad (Or Travel a Lot)

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A court showdown poses climate change questions. Scientists have answers.

On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments about a California law that tries to clarify the facts that women receive about their reproductive rights. The accuracy of that information becomes increasingly important as environmental disasters — which are growing more, uh, disastrous — endanger women more than men. Women can be better prepared by having full control of their reproductive decisions.

Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations, often masquerading as medical clinics, that attempt to dissuade women from seeking abortions. California’s Reproductive FACT Act, passed in 2016, requires reproductive health clinics and CPCs to post notices advising their clients that the state provides free or low-cost family planning, prenatal care, and abortion; and that CPCs publicize that they are not licensed to practice medicine.

Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal organization representing the centers suing the state of California, claims that the requirements of the Reproductive FACT Act are unconstitutional because they require CPCs to “promote messages that violate their convictions,” Bloomberg reports. The state of California argues that information provided by medical professionals is publicly regulated, and that women who depend on public medical care and are unaware of their options should not be provided with confusing information.

Last February, a Gizmodo-Damn Joan investigation found that women seeking abortion clinics on Google — because, let’s be real, that’s how a lot of us find medical care — could be easily led to CPCs instead, as Google Maps does not distinguish them from real medical clinics.

We’ll be watching this case.

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A court showdown poses climate change questions. Scientists have answers.

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A federal judge has climate science questions. Here are the answers.

Today’s courtroom drama unfolding in San Francisco will come in the form of a “tutorial” on climate science, not a debate.

Federal Judge William Alsup, a quirky, inquisitive man who previously taught himself the Java programming language for a 2012 lawsuit involving Oracle and Google, will be the only one asking questions. There will be no direct debate between lawyers representing the people of the State of California and those for the defendant oil companies.

In a court document, Judge Alsup narrowed his focus to eight specific questions regarding climate science (in bold below). In the two weeks since the questions were posted, climate scientists have attempted to crowdsource the best, most succinct answers. (I’ve further summed them up in just a few words, in parenthesis.):

  1. What caused the various ice ages (including the “little ice age” and prolonged cool periods) and what caused the ice to melt? When they melted, by how much did sea level rise? (Natural changes in the Earth’s orbit and the amount of greenhouse gases. Sea level rose a lot — more than 400 feet.)
  2. What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not? (Three-atom molecules vibrate more easily than two-atom molecules.)
  3. What is the mechanism by which infrared radiation trapped by CO2 in the atmosphere is turned into heat and finds its way back to sea level? (Greenhouse gases like CO2 emit extra trapped energy from the sun, warming the surface.)
  4. Does CO2 in the atmosphere reflect any sunlight back into space such that the reflected sunlight never penetrates the atmosphere in the first place? (Yes, but not enough to matter.)
  5. Apart from CO2, what happens to the collective heat from tail pipe exhausts, engine radiators, and all other heat from combustion of fossil fuels? How, if at all, does this collective heat contribute to warming of the atmosphere? (The amount of heat from the sun that’s trapped by greenhouse gases is 100 times more than direct heat from fossil fuel burning.)
  6. In grade school, many of us were taught that humans exhale CO2 but plants absorb CO2 and return oxygen to the air (keeping the carbon for fiber). Is this still valid? If so, why hasn’t plant life turned the higher levels of CO2 back into oxygen? Given the increase in human population on Earth (four billion), is human respiration a contributing factor to the buildup of CO2? (Yes, this is still valid – but this process is roughly carbon neutral, so there is no major impact on the climate. And human respiration of CO2 is 10,000 times too small to matter to the climate.)
  7. What are the main sources of CO2 that account for the incremental buildup of CO2in the atmosphere? (Fossil fuel burning and deforestation)
  8. What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth? (Human activities are likely responsible for 93 to 123 percent of recent global warming. It can go over 100 percent because we’re canceling out what would be natural cooling.)

The crowd-sourcing effort (with references) was coordinated by NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who in an email to Grist said he doesn’t actually expect there to be much disagreement over the science in today’s courtroom tutorial. Chevron, one of the defendants, is not planning to deny evidence at all in its explanations. In fact will refer Judge Alsup to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the gold standard of mainstream climate science.

“Despite the attempted interventions from the fringe,” Schmidt wrote, “ I doubt that the defendants or plaintiffs will be making much hay with the science.”

Even if disagreement is unlikely, Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist from Texas A&M University — who penned a Twitter thread of answers to Alsup’s questions — hailed the uniqueness of today’s court activities.

“Obviously, I wish these issues were not still being debated in court, since they’re not being debated in the scientific community, but I also appreciate the deliberate approach the judge seems to be taking,” he wrote to Grist.

No matter what the oil industry lawyers argue today, these facts are well established: Human activities are by far the dominant cause of modern climate change, and only a sharp reduction in our emissions — which means our use of oil — will help solve the problem.

Continued here:  

A federal judge has climate science questions. Here are the answers.

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How the Cloud Is Going Green


You already know the many lauded benefits of the cloud — it saves paper, equipment and raw materials, while also providing employees and workplace teams an easier means to access important documents and files. But you may have also heard about how cloud data servers pack a punch in terms of environmental impact.

To minimize their carbon footprint, data centers are going green. Here are the ways companies behind some of the latest cloud-based technologies are working to reduce their environmental impact in the rollout of new products and services.

Starting Small

Like within many other industries, business owners who have previously invested in cloud data centers are starting small with their eco-friendly efforts. But this isn’t to say their current efforts aren’t making a difference. For example, many data centers are swapping out old, incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs, which conserve energy and provide massive cost savings on monthly utility bills.

Cloud computing is also a more environmentally friendly practice compared to investing in on-site servers. That’s because these cloud data centers simply don’t need the same amount of infrastructure and space compared to their on-site server counterparts.

In fact, businesses that invest in on-site servers typically have more space than they need to house this bulky infrastructure, particularly if they plan to grow or expand operations. This leads to a number of drives sitting empty in the short or long term that still need to be powered and cooled.

In comparison, cloud data center operators can optimize the number of servers they own and use depending on their client and storage needs. For example, instead of running an on-site, physical customer service department, businesses can invest in a cloud contact center that requires less space and infrastructure.

Using Renewable Energy

Some leading cloud computing companies, like Facebook, Google and Apple, are also paving the way when it comes to investing in renewable energy in their data centers. In fact, all of Apple’s data centers are powered entirely by solar energy, while Facebook installed some of its newest servers in Iowa so the company could take advantage of the area’s wind energy. Microsoft is using both types of renewable energy for its cloud centers: solar energy in Virginia and wind energy in Texas.

These giant corporations have a lot of political power and community clout, and they’re using it to not only enforce stricter regulations on energy use, but to also move the entire industry toward renewable energy.

Optimizing Energy Use

One of the biggest electricity sucks for on-site servers includes maintaining cool temperatures in the spaces that house this infrastructure to prevent overheating. According to REIT.com, an average office space uses three to five watts of power per square foot, whereas a physical data center uses 100 to 300 watts per square foot.

That’s why many on-site data centers are housed in buildings or spaces specifically designed for their use. As the major tech giants have shown, locating operations near water and other renewable energy sources is optimal for conserving energy. However, if that’s not in the cards, some companies are going a different, forward-thinking route: working with contractors to build energy-efficient and even LEED-certified warehouses.

Data center operators have also been examining the airflow in their buildings, so they can separate hot and cold air streams. By keeping cool air near their servers — and moving hot air away from this expensive equipment — companies don’t need to run as many fans to maintain them.

The cloud continues to get greener. Not only is this technology saving companies space, time and money on hosting their own servers — and saving them a lot of paper and filing cabinets — it’s now leading the way in renewable energy and energy optimization. These are the first steps to a more connected, eco-conscious world.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
How 5G Technology Will Power a Greener Future
5 Top Tips for Recycling Old Technology
How to Finally Go Paperless in the Office

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How the Cloud Is Going Green

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