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‘Surprise’ Move from De Vries Leads to  ‘Emotional’ Win in Berlin

‘Surprise’ Move from De Vries Leads to  ‘Emotional’ Win in Berlin


For reigning champion and Mercedes-EQ driver Nyck de Vries, a dominating performance in the second of two races in the German capital closed off a difficult period in his ABB FIA Formula E World Championship career. Pulling off a ‘surprise’ move on Poleman Edoardo Mortara (ROKit Venturi Racing), the Dutchman returned to the top step of the podium and re-booted his title defence campaign.   


“We’ve had a bit of a difficult ride the past three races, so honestly I’m just very very pleased to be here and to be back,” said an emotional Mercedes-EQ’s Nyck de Vries, moments before taking to the top step of the podium. The last time the Dutchman was here with Formula E, he was lifting the World Championship trophy, so the timing of his comeback in the German capital couldn’t be better. 

Starting from third, the Dutch driver benefited from a strong start off the line where he spotted a gap between race leader Edoardo Mortara and the inside wall of Turn 1.

BERLIN TEMPELHOF AIRPORT, GERMANY – MAY 15: Nyck de Vries (NLD), Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02 and Edoardo Mortara (CHE), ROKiT Venturi Racing, Silver Arrow 02 go side by side for the lead of the race during the Berlin ePrix II at Berlin Tempelhof Airport on Sunday May 15, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / LAT Images)

“It caught me a little bit by surprise,” admitted de Vries. “I had a good start – a little bit better than Robin [Frijns] and obviously I had the tow from Edo. The opportunity came as a surprise, but I took it and it worked out successfully.”

Following the move, de Vries put in a flawless performance to distance himself from the competition and eventually take the win from Poleman and yesterday’s winner, Edoardo Mortara. 

“I think our base was very strong today. But it definitely helped to be in command and do your own race – I think that makes a huge difference.

“Today, we didn’t really have to fight and you do a clean race. You keep your tyres and energy in control and then you can see the results. So I’m very, very happy with a comeback.”

With a win under his belt, reigning champion de Vries’ title defence campaign received a much-needed boost. Before Berlin, the Dutchman had been grappling with a dry spell of only two points in four races between Rounds 3 and 8. When compared to his teammate and standings leader Stoffel Vandoorne, the Belgian has racked up an impressive 68 points in the same amount of time. Now sixth in the standings with 65 points, de Vries’ championship campaign is a little closer to being back on track, albeit still 46 points adrift of his fellow Mercedes driver. 

“We just struggled in the past four races to execute a result,” he admitted. “I don’t think there was anything necessarily wrong. Of course, every time there was something missing, but nothing really fundamental and everything was there, but it just didn’t really work out. 

BERLIN TEMPELHOF AIRPORT, GERMANY – MAY 15: Nyck de Vries (NLD), Mercedes Benz EQ, EQ Silver Arrow 02 during the Berlin ePrix II at Berlin Tempelhof Airport on Sunday May 15, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sam Bloxham / LAT Images)

“It starts to build up and people start to score points and you lose the momentum. I just felt like it was time for us to come back and turn it around. So to do it now, I think was was very important.

“I hate losing – it eats me. Especially when there’s nothing really wrong and it just doesn’t come together. To have a moment of calm back is nice.” 

Now past the halfway mark in the season, the next stop on the Formula E calendar is Jakarta, Indonesia on June 4. With Mercedes out in front in the Team’s championship with 176 and frontman Vandoorne leading the Drivers’, it’s up to de Vries to hold on to his re-discovered form.  

“It’s very good to get a good result in but we definitely have to try and keep the momentum from now on,” he added.  



Scientists find a forest growing inside a giant newly discovered sinkhole in China

Scientists find a forest growing inside a giant newly discovered sinkhole in China


The bottom of the giant pit harbors an ancient forest that may be populated by new species of animals.


A team of cave explorers and speleologists have discovered a giant cluster of karst sinkholes in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. According to the team, which includes scientists from China, the UK, and France, 19 new sinkholes have been discovered, among them an unbelievable giant sinkhole with lush vegetation and even trees growing inside, their canopies extending towards the light above.

The giant sinkhole, located near Ping’e village in Leye County, is nearly 190 meters (630 feet) deep and extends hundreds of meters in length and width — enough to engulf a Manhattan block, skyscrapers and all.

In Mandarin, these enormous holes in the ground are known as “tiankeng,” or “heavenly pits”. In this case, the name really is very fitting as scientists found a veritable hidden Garden of Eden after they rappelled to the bottom. Here, they found a well-preserved ancient forest, with some trees as tall as 40 meters (130 feet). It is very likely there are many species of plants and animals to be found there, though it is too early to tell.

A similar giant sinkhole discovered in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in 2019. The new giant sinkhole described in this article is not pictured here. Credit: Xinhua.

One thing’s for sure: biologists are going to have a field day in this sinkhole — that’s if they’re fit enough to brave the arduous journey to the very bottom. The original team of explorers who made the discovery in May abseiled down more than 100 meters (330 meters) and trekked several hours to reach the pit’s bottom.


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This stunning new ecosystem is part of a series of sinkholes that are interconnected through an underground river and cave system, making them the largest cluster ever found south of the Tropic of Cancer, according to Zhang Yuanhai, a member of the team organized by the Institute of Karst Geology of China Geological Survey.

In total, there are 30 sinkholes in Leye County alone, which would be staggering were it not for the region’s geology and topography, world-famous for its karst formations. Karst refers to any land made up of limestone, also known as chalk or calcium carbonate, which is a soft rock that dissolves in water.

Karst topography is perfect for forming sinkholes, and it’s easy to see why. As rainwater seeps into the soft rock, it picks up carbon dioxide becoming slightly acidic, slowly eroding it away. Over time, if enough cracks and small tunnels form into the bedrock, the roof can collapse, opening up a sinkhole ranging in size from a few meters to gargantuan proportions as seen recently in China.

According to Yuanhai, there are three big caves in the wall of the newly found sinkhole, which are presumed to be the remains from the early development of the sinkhole. As such, these recent discoveries could help scientists better understand how sinkholes form in the first place.

“Some of the sinkholes are formed at a plateau 1,000 meters above sea level, and the others as a chain developed along underground rivers. The founding will be of significance for the theory of sinkholes evolution,” said Jiang Zhongcheng, head of the institute.

Source:

Tibi Puiu at ZME Science



Insect decline could massively increase food bills, warn scientists

Insect decline could massively increase food bills, warn scientists


The number of flying insects has declined by nearly 60 per cent in less than 20 years, an alarming new survey has found.


The huge drop threatens our entire ecosystem, scientists behind the study have warned – but we can still turn things around.

What do the survey results show?

Using data uploaded by members of the public through the Bugs Matter app, scientists from conservation trust Buglife counted the number of bug ‘splats’ on car number plates across the UK.

The researchers compared results from nearly 5,000 journeys in the summer of 2021 with a similar study from 2004.

The findings were extremely troubling.

In England, the number of squashed bugs declined by 65 per cent. Welsh data showed a 55 per cent decline, while Scotland recorded a decline of 28 per cent.

The results reveal “huge losses,” warns Buglife Director of communications and fundraising Paul Hetherington.

“It’s likely that things will get worse rather than better without us doing potentially quite a lot of work to intervene,” he adds.

Habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change have all contributed to the stark decline.

Why do insect declines matter?

Flying bugs are critical for biodiversity.

Insects are food for animals such as birds, bats, reptiles, and fish. They also perform vital roles such as pollination of crops and wildflowers and nutrient recycling. Beetles, wasps, and dragonfly families also act as predators for smaller insects helping with pest control.

If they die out, the entire ecosystem – and food production system – would suffer.

“We tend to take [insects] for granted, they’re in the background and we don’t notice them, but they are absolutely crucial to life as we know it,” Hetherington says.

“If we lost pollinators in the UK alone, you’d be putting £2 billion ( € 2.37 billion) on your food bill.

“We’re worried about inflation now, imagine how bad inflation would be then.

“[If we lose] dung beetles, another quarter of a billion pounds on our food bills every year.”

The environmental effects would also be catastrophic.

If we lost pollinators in the UK alone, you’d be putting £2 billion on your food bill.

Paul Hetherington 
Buglife Director of communications and fundraising

If insect declines aren’t halted, eight out of ten wildflower species in the UK could disappear.

The majority of songbirds would die out, with just four or five species able to survive without healthy insect-populations.

What can we do to reverse these declines?

The survey makes for sobering reading, but it’s not too late to save flying bugs.

“On the positive side, because [insects] have relatively short life spans, you can turn things around in a fairly short space of time,” Hetherington says.


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“If we do the right things, in the right places, we can make a difference.”

Governments have a large role to play too, and can limit habitat loss and reduce mass pesticide usage.

But individuals can play their part too. Letting grass grow long and sowing wildflowers in gardens are crucial to helping increase insect populations. 

“If you plant a group of herbs, and you let them flower, you’ve created the equivalent of a motorway service station, where pollinators can drop off, fill themselves up, and be able to make the distance to the next really good piece of habitat,” he says.

He also encouraged people to download the Buglife app and start recording bug-splats.

“The more people taking part in the survey, the better the data will be, and the more we will be able to pinpoint what’s going on at a much smaller level.”

Source:

Charlotte Elton at euronews.green



Preview: Everything You Need to Know About the 2022 Shell Recharge Berlin E-Prix 

Preview: Everything You Need to Know About the 2022 Shell Recharge Berlin E-Prix 


The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship heads to Germany and Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport Circuit at the historic Tempelhofer Feld for a double-header and Rounds 7 & 8 of the 2021/22 campaign on 14 & 15 May, as Season 8 reaches its half-way mark.


Formula E’s 11 teams and 22 world-class drivers return to the German capital – a fixture on the calendar since the inaugural 2014/15 season – to tackle an anti-clockwise and clockwise variation of the circuit.

WAYS TO WATCH: Where and how to watch every minute of Season 8

As it stands, just 10 points split Drivers’ World Championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ), Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH), Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) and Robin Frijns (Envision Racing). With 58 points on offer over the race weekend, there will be twists and turns before the chequered flag falls on Round 8, and plenty of opportunity for any number of drivers to work themselves into the title hunt.

Saturday’s action gets underway with Free Practice from 07:15 local time, with qualifying at 10:40 and Round 7 itself from 15:00 CET. Free Practice ahead of Round 8 starts at the same time on Sunday, with qualifying also following at 10:40 and the race once again at 15:00. Keep track of all the action at fiaformulae.com/live and tune in where you are via fiaformulae.com/watch.

As it stands…

Last time out, Vandoorne wrested control of the Drivers’ championship after steering to victory in the Monaco E-Prix Round 6. The Belgian fended off the attentions of Jaguar TCS Racing’s Mitch Evans, with the Kiwi unable to convert Julius Baer Pole Position in the Principality, instead winding up second, with DS TECHEETAH driver Jean-Eric Vergne coming home third. Vandoorne has won around Tempelhof before and he’ll undoubtedly be the driver with the target on his back this weekend.

Third in Monaco made it consecutive podium finishes for Vergne after his second-placed finish in race two from Rome. He’s on an unmatched streak of six points finishes – all inside the top eight – and his podium tally of three is a joint-high and a 50% silverware strike rate in Season 8. Consistency is key in Formula E as Vergne knows better than anybody, and even after losing the Drivers’ advantage to Vandoorne for now, he knows he’s sitting pretty just six points back.

Stoffel Vandoorne BEL (No5) – Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team on the podium with Mitch Evans NZ (No9) – Jaguar TCS Racing and Jean-Éric Vergne FRA (No25) – China DS Techeetah

Evans is three points shy of Vergne, while Robin Frijns (Envision Racing) is stringing together a charge another point behind in fourth spot. The Dutchman has scored strongly in all but the opening race of the season, and his three podiums are as good as any other driver in the standings has yet managed.

ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Edoardo Mortara had topped the table heading to Rome, but a pair of retirements in Rounds 5 & 6 have temporarily put the brakes on the Swiss-Italian’s challenge. The Season 7 runner-up will be hoping for better luck in Berlin in Season 8 after a dramatic start-line collision with Evans in the finale ended his, and the Jaguar driver’s, title effort right at the last in 2020/21.

As with Mortara, the pace has been there for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team pairing of Andre Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein so far this season. They find themselves sixth and seventh, respectively, and have been points regulars. Monaco was a borderline disaster, however, with Wehrlein suffering a technical issue which forced him into retiring from the race lead. Lotterer, meanwhile, was pushed into the wall at Turn 1 while running in the points. That left a 30-plus point hole in their tally, but the silver lining was that pace and energy management once again looked strong.

Reigning champion Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) currently sits eighth in the running with his season yet to fire into life proper, despite a Round 1 win. If he’s to retain his World Championship crown, he must push on in Berlin.

Return to Tempelhof

The net zero carbon race series returns to the 2.4km Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit on the outskirts of the German capital city. Berlin is the only city to have hosted a race in every season of Formula E. In all but one of those seasons – Season 2, when the German round took place near Alexanderplatz – Tempelhofer Feld has been the host venue.

TICKETS: Secure your seat at Tempelhof

Two different configurations will be used over the weekend with Saturday’s race using the traditional anti-clockwise direction and Sunday switching to clockwise. It’s a unique challenge for the teams and drivers, but one they relish – and a favourite of many. The bumpy concrete apron, higher than usual degradation and high grip takes a toll on energy management and makes race strategies a headache but the action is always among the best on the calendar.

Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) has six podium finishes in Berlin, and two victories, albeit one at Alexanderplatz. Antonio Felix da Costa is one of three drivers to have two wins to his name at Tempelhof. The DS TECHEETAH driver’s came at the Season 6 finale as he hammered home his advantage to take the title.

Lucas di Grassi won here with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler in 2019 and signed off on Audi’s first spell in Formula E with another win on home soil for the brand in Season 7. Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ) strode to victory in the last race of Season 6 at Tempelhof.

German team announces Formula E return

ABT Sportsline last week confirmed it will return to the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship from the beginning of the Gen3 era, starting 2023.

The German outfit is set to enter as a customer team and makes its way back to Formula E having been a fixture throughout the championship’s first seven seasons. Despite a hiatus in Season 8, following the exit of Audi, ABT can still count itself among the most successful teams in Formula E history, with 47 podiums and 1,380 points to its name.

SIGN UP: Keep up-to-date with all the latest from Formula E

The team won the first ever Formula E race in Beijing, 2014, while Lucas di Grassi steered to the Drivers’ title in 2017. ABT sealed the Teams’ crown a season later and partnered with Audi between 2017 and 2021.

Follow live

Follow every lap from Monaco as it happens in the Live Hub. Keep across Live Timing – including a real-time interactive track map and the ability to follow your favourite driver – plus detailed session reports, exclusive interviews, all the standings and results as well as reaction from the ground means fans won’t miss a moment.

New for Season 8, there’s a full race day rundown pulling together everything on-track with the best of social media and in-race clips – alongside the usual Live Hub experience that debuted in Season 7. Get involved using #ABBFormulaE.

The Formula E app allows fans to go behind the scenes and listen to Driver Radio for live reactions from the cockpit and the pit wall as the race plays out. To listen in, download now on iOS and Android.

Watch

Don’t miss a minute of Season 8. Keep track of the best ways to tune in where you are at fiaformulae.com/watch.

Get involved

Formula E blurs the lines between the real and virtual worlds of motorsport and there are even more opportunities to engage with the championship in Season 8, even if you can’t be at an E-Prix in person.

Formula E is the only motorsport in the world that lets fans play an active role in influencing the outcome. FANBOOST for Rounds 7 & 8 opens on Tuesday 10 May, until 15 minutes into race one, with voting for Round 8 opening at the chequered flag on Saturday. To give your favourite driver an extra boost of power, visit FANBOOST and the Formula E app.

Can you predict the unpredictable? The Formula E Predictor puts you in the hot seat to predict each round of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. 

It’s free to play, and points are awarded for each correct prediction. Make your picks for five race outcomes – selecting from the 22 Formula E drivers that you think will win the E-Prix, clinch Julius Baer Pole Position, set the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap, be the first to use ATTACK MODE and be the driver to make up the most places in the race.



Under an orange sky, largest U.S. wildfire menaces New Mexico towns

Under an orange sky, largest U.S. wildfire menaces New Mexico towns


Firefighters in northern New Mexico labored under an apocalyptic orange sky, and vehicles streamed out of the ski area of Angel Fire on Wednesday as wind-driven flames from the state’s second-largest blaze on record roared closer to the mountain resort.


With winds gusting beyond 50 mph (80 kmh) through dense, drought-parched forests, exhausted crews were at loss to stop a wildfire that has raged across a 45-mile swath of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for more than a month, destroying hundreds of homes.

Spreading through the rugged, tinder-dry landscape with explosive speed, the springtime conflagration has displaced thousands of residents while raising fears that the entire American Southwest was in for a long, brutal fire season.

As smoke hung heavy outside Angel Fire’s supermarket, Almeada Martinson said she planned to pack her photos, guns, two dogs and cat, then evacuate to Taos, 17 miles to the west.

“I’m totally anxious and terrified. This is my home,” said Martinson, 35, general manager of a construction business, as ash swirled around her feet.

The Sangre de Cristo mountains, soaring to over 13,000 feet, have traditionally seen spring storms dumping more than 2 feet of snow. But climate change has diminished the snowpack and brought summer-like temperatures earlier in the year, biologists say, drying out the region and leaving communities more vulnerable to fire.

At Angel Fire’s airstrip, strong winds grounded firefighting helicopters. Seven miles to the south at Black Lake, firefighters huddled around a map and discussed which properties they could try to save.

In immediate danger was the village of Chacon, where locals faced flames on two sides after they stayed behind to defend centuries-old ranches, firefighters said.

To the north, residents of Taos Canyon cut down their own trees to create fire buffers around homes. About 4 miles farther west of downtown Taos – the heart of an area inhabited by indigenous people for 1,000 years – residents were advised to be ready to evacuate on short notice.

At a news briefing late in the day, however, battalion fire chief Todd Abel said the leading edge of the blaze appeared to be heading more toward the north and east, in a direction that would hopefully skirt Taos, a town of about 5,700 people.

In another piece of good news, authorities said mandatory evacuation orders were being lifted on Wednesday evening for a string of small Mora County communities, though other populated areas on the northern edge of the blaze were newly threatened.


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Although unseasonably warm temperatures and extreme low humidity will persist in the days ahead, winds that have howled with gale-force strength for nearly a week are expected to subside on Friday, giving firefighters a bit of a respite, forecasters said.

The blaze, dubbed the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire, has burned over 236,939 acres (95,885 hectares) of land, an area larger than all five boroughs of New York City, with containment lines carved around about a third of its perimeter as of Wednesday evening.

The fire grew out of two blazes that ignited about two weeks apart and later merged into one, the first originating from a prescribed-burn project that ran out of control, according to fire officials. The cause of the second remained under investigation.

In addition to climate change, a century of strict fire suppression and court bans on logging since the 1990s have helped transform New Mexico’s northern forests into overgrown, highly combustible fuel beds, scientists say.

Source:

Andrew Hay via Reuters



NYC wants to take 25% of its street space away from cars in favor of a walkable/bikeable city

NYC wants to take 25% of its street space away from cars in favor of a walkable/bikeable city


Back when COVID-19 ravaged New York City and turned the city’s transportation needs upside down, significant portions of the road space were repurposed for non-car use. From bike lanes to public seating and urban parks, roads that previously saw gridlocked traffic were nearly instantly transformed into public spaces that benefitted a wider group of residents.


After being forced to realize the benefits of such repurposing of streets, the city is now asking, “Why shouldn’t it just stay that way?”

It’s all part of a new plan known as NYC 25×25, which is backed by NYC mayor Eric Adams.

The proposal calls for 25% of NYC’s street space to be converted into walkable pedestrian plazas, bike lanes, green space, and bus lanes by 2025.

The logic goes that the vast majority of NYC’s streets being dominated by cars doesn’t benefit most city residents, and it doesn’t really benefit cars either. With traffic-clogged streets moving at an average of 5 mph (8 km/h) in Midtown Manhattan, private automobile transportation in NYC is responsible for a significant portion of the city’s carbon emissions, air pollution, and urban grime.

Meanwhile, pedestrians and cyclists are forced to navigate the crowded fringes of roads, often weaving around parked vehicles and heaps of trash awaiting pickup.

And that’s all before even considering the staggering number of pedestrian and cycling deaths caused by cars in the city.

Repurposing street space would help to both clean the city and better serve its residents.

The executive director of Transportation Alternatives Danny Harris, of the group behind the 25×25 proposal, explained to the Guardian that “space minus cars equals quality of life.”

NYC currently has around 3 million free parking spots lining its streets, which is more than the number of cars registered in the city.

And considering that most NYC residents don’t own a car, but rather use other forms of transportation such as buses, subways, bikes, and walking, dedicating so much space to cars simply doesn’t make sense.

As Harris continued:

If you live in a place where buying a car and spending $10,000 a year on car-related payments is your only way to get around, then your leaders have failed you and your children. Using streets to simply move and store cars is not optimizing that space. We just got blinded by the car industry and this belief that we should put an SUV in every garage.

Right now, we give most of New York to cars – but imagine if sidewalks were bigger, if you could bike or quickly take the bus anywhere you wanted, if you didn’t have huge mounds of garbage on every single street. As New Yorkers, we think of ourselves as being tough. But that doesn’t mean we have to live in filth, or that we should fear death or injury every time we cross the street.


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Transportation Alternatives’ plan for NYC would see the creation of 500 miles (800 km) of dedicated bus lanes, another 500 miles of protected bike lanes, new secure garbage containers to prevent the piling of garbage mounds on sidewalks, and widespread community use of car-free roads.

Ultimately, it would result in the equivalent of 13 Central Parks worth of public space to be reclaimed from cars.

The plan has been endorsed my NYC mayor Eric Adams, who said last month that “these are our streets, and it’s about riding, skateboarding, walking. You know, this is a good place you could come shop, sit down, spend time, and just enjoy the outdoors.”

The trend is part of a larger movement that seeks to turn cities around the world from car-centric to people-centric, creating more bikeable and walkable areas that still help move residents around without the negative impacts of cars.

Cities like Paris are leading the charge with car bans in the city center, an increasingly popular method for governments to create navigable cities that are friendly to pedestrians and personal vehicles like bikes and scooters.

Many countries also offer tax incentives to citizens that choose to ride bikes instead of driving cars. The US flirted with its own e-bike buying tax incentive that seems to have stalled in Congress, though US cities like Denver are going it alone with their own e-bike tax rebates programs.

Source:

Micah Toll at electrek



More Than 90% of Great Barrier Reef Impacted by Sixth Mass Bleaching Event

More Than 90% of Great Barrier Reef Impacted by Sixth Mass Bleaching Event


More than 90 percent of the Great Barrier Reef was impacted by coral bleaching during the Australian summer of 2021-2022. 


This is the conclusion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which released the results Tuesday of aerial surveys taken of 719 reefs between Torres Strait and the Capricorn Bunker Group.

“The surveys confirm a mass bleaching event, with coral bleaching observed at multiple reefs in all regions,” the authority wrote. “This is the fourth mass bleaching event since 2016 and the sixth to occur on the Great Barrier Reef since 1998.”

The surveys revealed that 654 reefs, or 91 percent of those surveyed, had experienced some bleaching. The bleaching is especially notable this year because it is the first time it has happened under La Niña conditions, which usually result in cooler ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, as AP News pointed out.

“This is heartbreaking. This is deeply troubling,” Climate Council researcher Simon Bradshaw told AP News. “It shows that our Barrier Reef really is in very serious trouble indeed.”

Coral bleaching occurs when warmer than normal ocean temperatures turn the chemicals that coral-dwelling algae produce into poisons, prompting the coral to expel the algae. Because the algae provide the coral with both nutrients and color, the remaining coral turns white. 

This summer, the waters around the Great Barrier Reef began to heat up in December of 2021, the authority said. Ocean temperatures exceeded historical summer maximums that typically don’t occur until later in the summer. Between December and early April, the area experienced three distinct marine heat waves. The surveys were conducted after the last heat wave, which lasted from March 12 to 23. 

The bleaching recorded in the report does not necessarily mean that the impacted corals will die. 

“It is important to note that bleached coral is stressed but still alive,” the authority wrote. “As water temperatures cool, bleached corals may regain their colour and survive this stress event, as happened in 2020 when there was very low coral mortality associated with a mass bleaching event.”

During back-to-back mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, however, the reef experienced higher death tolls, according to AP News. Scientists predict that this year will be more like 2020.

“The early indications are that the mortality won’t be very high,” the authority’s chief scientist David Wachenfeld said, as AP News reported. 


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However, the reef remains in hot water as long as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The authority has said that the climate crisis is the single biggest threat to the reef, and a 2020 study found that the reef had already lost more than half its corals in the past 25 years because of human-induced global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that allowing temperatures to rise to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will kill 99 percent of all tropical reefs, while limiting warming to 1.5 degrees could save 30 to 10 percent of them.

The report comes as Australia prepares for federal elections later this month, AP News noted. Current Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, while the Labor Party has promised steeper cuts of 43 percent by 2030. 

Australian Marine Conservation Society campaign manager Lissa Schindler told The Guardian that reducing emissions should be a priority for the next government. 

“This was a La Niña year, normally characterised by more cloud cover and rain,” she said. “It should have been a welcome reprieve for our reef to help it recover and yet the snapshot shows more than 90% of the reefs surveyed exhibited some bleaching. Although bleaching is becoming more and more frequent, this is not normal and we should not accept that this is the way things are. We need to break the norms that are breaking our reef.”

Source:

Olivia Rosane at EcoWatch



Renewable power is set to break another global record in 2022 despite higher costs and supply chain bottlenecks

Renewable power is set to break another global record in 2022 despite higher costs and supply chain bottlenecks


New capacity for generating electricity from solar, wind and other renewables increased to a record level worldwide in 2021 and will grow further this year as governments increasingly seek to take advantage of renewables’ energy security and climate benefits, according to the International Energy Agency.


The world added a record 295 gigawatts of new renewable power capacity in 2021, overcoming supply chain challenges, construction delays and high raw material prices, according to the IEA’s latest Renewable Energy Market Update. Global capacity additions are expected to rise this year to 320 gigawatts—equivalent to an amount that would come close to meeting the entire electricity demand of Germany or matching the European Union’s total electricity generation from natural gas. Solar PV is on course to account for 60% of global renewable power growth in 2022, followed by wind and hydropower.

In the European Union, annual additions jumped by almost 30% to 36 gigawatts in 2021, finally exceeding the bloc’s previous record of 35 gigawatts set a decade ago. The additional renewables capacity commissioned for 2022 and 2023 has the potential to significantly reduce the European Union’s dependence on Russian gas in the power sector. However, the actual contribution will depend on the success of parallel energy efficiency measures to keep the region’s energy demand in check.

“Energy market developments in recent months—especially in Europe—have proven once again the essential role of renewables in improving energy security, in addition to their well-established effectiveness at reducing emissions,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Cutting red tape, accelerating permitting and providing the right incentives for faster deployment of renewables are some of the most important actions governments can take to address today’s energy security and market challenges, while keeping alive the possibility of reaching our international climate goals.”

Renewables’ growth so far this year is much faster than initially expected, driven by strong policy support in China, the European Union and Latin America, which are more than compensating for slower than anticipated growth in the United States. The US outlook is clouded by uncertainty over new incentives for wind and solar and by trade actions against solar PV imports from China and Southeast Asia.

Based on today’s policy settings, however, renewable power’s global growth is set to lose momentum next year. In the absence of stronger policies, the amount of renewable power capacity added worldwide is expected to plateau in 2023, as continued progress for solar is offset by a 40% decline in hydropower expansion and little change in wind additions.

While energy markets face a wide range of uncertainties, the strengthened focus by governments on energy security and affordability—particularly in Europe—is building new momentum behind efforts to accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency solutions and renewable energy technologies. The outlook for renewables for 2023 and beyond will therefore depend to a large extent on whether new and stronger policies are introduced and implemented over the next six months.

Offshore windfarm (Image courtesy: iStock/ssuaphoto)

The current growth in renewable power capacity would be even faster without the current supply chain and logistical challenges. The cost of installing solar PV and wind plants is expected to remain higher than pre-pandemic levels throughout 2022 and 2023 because of elevated commodity and freight prices, reversing a decade of declining costs. However, they remain competitive because prices for natural gas and other fossil fuel alternatives have risen much faster.

Global additions of solar PV capacity are on course to break new records in both this year and next, with the annual market reaching 200 GW in 2023. Solar’s growth in China and India is accelerating, driven by strong policy support for large-scale projects, which can be completed at lower costs than fossil fuel alternatives. In the European Union, rooftop solar installations by households and companies are expected to help consumers save money as electricity bills rise.


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Policy uncertainties, as well as long and complex permitting regulations, are preventing much faster growth for the wind industry. Having plunged 32% in 2021 after exceptionally high installations in 2020, additions of new onshore wind capacity are expected to recover slightly this year and next.

New additions of offshore wind capacity are set to drop 40% globally in 2022 after having been buoyed last year by a huge jump in China as developers rushed to meet a subsidy deadline. But global additions are still on course to be over 80% higher this year than in 2020. Even with its slower expansion this year, China will surpass Europe at the end of 2022 to become the market with the largest total offshore wind capacity in the world.

Biofuel demand recovered in 2021 from its pandemic lows to reach more than 155 billion liters—near 2019 levels. Demand is expected to keep rising—by 5% in 2022 and 3% in 2023. However, the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have contributed to a 20% downward revision of our previous forecast for biofuel growth in 2022. Since biofuels are blended with gasoline and diesel, much of the downward revision stems from slowing demand for transport, which has been depressed by a combination of factors including growing inflationary pressures, weaker global economic growth and COVID-related mobility restrictions in China.

Source:

International Energy Agency via techxplore



Coldplay labelled ‘useful idiots for greenwashing’ after deal with oil company

Coldplay labelled ‘useful idiots for greenwashing’ after deal with oil company


The Transport and Environment campaign group says Neste is cynically using the band.


Coldplay have been branded “useful idiots for greenwashing” after announcing a partnership with the Finnish oil company Neste to halve their touring emissions last week.

Neste claims to be the world’s largest producer of sustainable biofuels, but the firm’s palm oil suppliers cleared at least 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of forest in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia between 2019 and 2020, according a study by Friends of the Earth.

Carlos Calvo Ambel, a senior director of the Transport and Environment campaign group (T&E) said: “Neste is cynically using Coldplay to greenwash its reputation. This is a company that is linked to the kind of deforestation that would appal Chris Martin and his fans. It’s not too late, they should drop their partnership with Neste now and focus on truly clean solutions instead.”

The award-winning rock outfit announced plans to shrink their touring footprint after Martin accepted that a “backlash” against their emissions record was justified in a BBC interview last year.

A tree will be planted for each ticket sold on Coldplay’s current “music of the spheres” world tour, which includes a kinetic-powered dancefloor and other green features.

A statement from the band said: “When we announced this tour, we said that we would try our best to make it as sustainable and low carbon-impact as possible, but that it would be a work in progress. That remains true. We don’t claim to have got it all right yet.”

“Before we appointed Neste as supplier of these biofuel products, we received their guarantee that they do not use any virgin materials in their production – most especially not palm oil. It’s still our understanding that they use renewable waste products only, like cooking oil and byproducts from wood pulp manufacture.”

Hanna Leijala, a spokeswoman for Neste, insisted that the firm “do not accept any sustainability violations in our own operations.”

“For our collaboration with Coldplay, conventional palm oil was not used as a raw material” she said, adding: “Neste plans to reduce the share of conventional palm oil to 0% of its global renewable raw material inputs by the end of 2023.”

At present, crude palm oil makes up 7% of the firm’s fuel inputs. Its jet fuel is blended from used cooking oil, animal fats and other wastes and residues.

But Neste declined to say what percentage of the jet fuel mix is made up by palm fatty acid distillates (PFADs), citing “contractual and competitive reasons.” PFADs are considered a byproduct of palm oil refining by the UK, Germany and most EU countries, but not by Finland.

T&E argues that it is “dubious” to consider used cooking oil as sustainable when studies suggest that most EU supplies are imports from countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Higher EU prices for used cooking oil incentivises adulteration and EU auditors have criticised Europe’s capacity to verify the source of these imports.

The use of animal fats also raises questions of agricultural methane emissions, as most fats come from industrial farming, T&E says.


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Coldplay’s world tour has been separately criticised for collaborating with BMW, which is providing 40 rechargeable electric vehicle batteries to power the shows.

BMW is an influential lobbyist for the German car industry, according to a report by Influence Map.

“Coldplay have been taken for a ride,” said Eoin Dubsky, the senior campaign manager for Sum Of Us. “BMW is lobbying to prevent the EU from setting a deadline of 2035 for vehicles to be zero emissions only and they have been able to use Coldplay.”

The band’s statement said that they had approached other electric car manufacturers but “BMW were the ones that offered to help”.

“We have no connection to or influence on their corporate policies,” the release continued. “We just need their batteries so that we can power our shows with renewable energy.”

“We are doing our best, and always genuinely welcome suggestions as to how to do it better,” the band said.

Dubsky was sympathetic to their predicament. “Not many rock bands hire in a sustainability consultant, so credit to them,” he said. “But I think that they should take greater care when doing their due diligence,” he added.

Source:

Arthur Neslen at The Guardian



Fashion Industry Efforts to Verify Sustainability Make ‘Greenwashing’ Easier

Fashion Industry Efforts to Verify Sustainability Make ‘Greenwashing’ Easier


The report by Changing Markets Foundation found that, at best, the certification programs provided a “patchy promise of sustainability.”


Environmental certification programs that claim to verify the sustainability of fashion brands actually facilitate “greenwashing” for the apparel industry, according to a recent report by environmental advocacy organization Changing Markets Foundation. 

The organization, which was founded in 2015 and is based in the Netherlands, seeks to drive change toward a more sustainable economy by exposing what it feels are irresponsible corporate practices. Its analysis of voluntary efforts designed  to reduce fashion’s growing environmental footprint found the programs led to increased pollution instead, and are helping to cement the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“Waste increases, utilization of clothes decreases, and reliance on fossil fuels increases,” said George Harding-Rolls, a campaign manager at Changing Markets and lead author of the report. “Yet, these schemes continue to exist and say that sustainable fashion is just around the corner. This is actually preventing us from taking the more systemic action that we need, such as more regulation and legislation.”

Apparel retailers did not respond to requests for comment from Inside Climate News. Organizations running sustainable fashion certification programs glossed over many of the issues in the report, including the growing use of polymer or plastic fibers used in apparel. Instead, they focused on efforts to reduce plastics used in packaging and displays.

Fashion retailers “are lauded for working towards the reduction of plastic hangers, bags and other packaging, while their huge and growing use of plastic for clothes passes under the radar,” the report stated. 

The March 24 report evaluated 10 of the most prominent sustainability certification programs for the fashion industry, a rapidly growing sector that produces more than 100 billion garments each year and accounts for anywhere between 2 to 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Changing Markets analysis focused on the sustainability programs that claim to address issues of overproduction, including the rise of “fast fashion”—inexpensive clothing designed to keep up with rapidly changing fashion trends. It also addressed end of life management and the use of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals in production and manufacturing.   

At best, the certification programs provided a “patchy promise of sustainability,” focused on a small section of the supply chain, the report concluded.  At worst, the report found the certification programs, which are often funded by the brands that they evaluate, are “unambitious, opaque, unaccountable and compromised.”

For example, one such program, the New Plastics Economy initiative of the U.K.-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, calls on member companies including Walmart to commit to reducing plastic packaging, but not the plastic, or synthetic, fibers used in clothes. The report noted that textiles, which increasingly rely on synthetic materials like polyester, are the second-largest market for plastics after packaging. Ignoring the use of these synthetic fibers is a major oversight, the report concluded. 

Walmart did not respond to a request for comment. However, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation defended its program. 

“It is correct that the focus of our plastic initiative is on packaging, as this is the single biggest application for plastics and accounts for huge amounts of pollution, climate emissions, and lost economic opportunity,” the organization said in a written statement. 

The organization added that its fashion initiatives have worked closely with experts from academia, government and industry to drive momentum towards a circular economy for fashion that eliminates waste.

One of the largest programs included in the analysis is run by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), which bills itself as the “leading alliance for sustainable production” for the apparel, footwear and textile industry.  The coalition counts more than 250 brands, retailers, manufacturers, academic institutions, governments and NGOs among its members.  

Changing Markets found that the Coalition’s “Higg Index” scored among the lowest of the 10 sustainability programs that it evaluated and did not adequately address issues related to fossil-fuel feedstocks for apparel, overproduction driven by fast fashion and the release of microfibers or microplastics from garments into the environment.  The report also gave the Higg Index low scores on independence, performance and how it drives improvement on sustainability.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition declined an interview request but issued a written statement, saying “the Sustainable Apparel Coalition enables organisations to access trusted, credible and scientifically rigorous tools and support to measure the impact of product production. This provides a basis for tracking change, informing and empowering brands to progress on a continuous journey of improvement.

“We work in active partnership with many others in the sector to advocate for greater transparency and substantiation of claims,” the coalition wrote.

The report, however, stated that the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s paid membership model provides members the opportunity to sit on the organization’s Board of Directors and vote on key decisions, giving member companies the ability to pursue their own agendas, which may run counter to coalition’s stated sustainability goals. 

For example, the report suggested that Nike, one of the biggest users of synthetic fibers in the apparel sector, may have used its influence as one of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s founding companies to downplay the environmental impact of synthetic fibers. The report suggested that the coalition’s Higg Index, the original version of which was developed by Nike, may not account for the environmental impact of fossil-fuel extraction, including oil extraction used to create synthetic fibers.  

“Due to the fact the SAC was founded by numerous brands and retailers, these organisations such as Patagonia, Walmart, Nike, Target, Gap, H&M Group and Marks & Spencer continue to have a large presence within the coalition,” the report stated. “This is especially the case for Nike, which originally contributed its own MSI [Materials Sustainability Index] to create the [Higg] Index. 

Nike did not respond to a request for comment. 

SAC denied any outsized influence of Nike or other companies over its activities.  “It is misleading and inaccurate to suggest that one member can unduly influence either the strategic focus or the tool development of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition,” the organization wrote. “The Higg Index is a suite of five tools. Nike was involved with an early development of just one of these tools, the Higg MSI [Materials Sustainability Index], before gifting it to SAC in 2013. The Higg MSI went through a significant overhaul in 2016, with changes being approved by over 100 voting members. Nike is not a current Board member and hasn’t been for more than five years.”

One certification program, which was not mentioned in the Changing Markets report, has set its sights on driving measurable change in greenhouse gas emissions reductions where it matters most, the manufacturing supply chains of apparel brands.

The factories, mills and other industrial facilities that produce the raw materials, fibers, and finished apparel sold by leading fashion brands account for the vast majority of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the third-party companies that produce these goods do so in China, the world’s largest textile-exporting country.

The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, China’s largest environmental organization, released a report in October that ranks the sustainability of fashion brands with a strong focus on the greenhouse gas emissions from mills and factories across China.

“We focus on [the] supply chain like a laser,” said Linda Greer, a senior global fellow with the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. “We do that, first of all, because for many sectors including the apparel sector, that’s where maybe 80 percent of the emissions lie. And then also we focus on [the] supply chain because we’re a Chinese NGO and so many of our factories are manufacturing for export.”


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IPE’s Corporate Climate Action Transparency Index scores brands from 0 to 100 based on their performance in addressing climate change. Points are awarded according to corporate climate policies, monitoring and disclosure of emissions, emission reduction targets and, most heavily weighted, direct action that companies are taking in China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their supply chains. However, unlike the Changing Markets report, IPE’s index does not consider overproduction related to fast fashion. 

“The way that we differ from a lot of the other indices is that we’re really attempting to follow the pounds of emissions,” Greer said.  “You can’t get a very good grade unless you’re working on [the] supply chain and not just in governance and other things.”

IPE’s index got a major boost in February when China required many of the country’s largest polluters to publicly disclose their carbon emissions for the first time. Details of new regulation, including exactly which companies are required to report their emissions, are still being worked out, but Greer said she estimates it will apply to 80,000 factories, a tremendous increase from the limited number of manufacturers who have voluntarily reported their emissions in the past.  

The new regulation comes as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing a similar regulation for publicly traded companies. The pending U.S. disclosure requirements come as Europe is weighing regulations that would target the low-cost, disposable apparel that fuels fast fashion. On March 30, the European Commission released its proposed Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles that seeks to ensure that apparel sold in the EU is long-lived, recyclable and, to the extent possible, made from recycled fibers.  

At the same time, a bill was introduced earlier this year in New York state that would require large fashion brands to disclose at least some greenhouse gas emissions, as well as water and chemical use, from their supply chains.

Harding-Rolls of Changing Markets said the pending regulations mark a turning point for the fashion industry.

“I think we’re really seeing the death throes of voluntary sustainability in the fashion sector,” he said. “We’ve been experimenting with the sector self-regulating for the last 20 to 30 years and what we’ve seen is that the environmental impact of the sector got much worse. There’s a stick and not just a carrot to sustainable fashion now. The next two or three years will be really critical to see how that plays out.”

Source:

Phil McKenna at Inside Climate News