Energy & the Environment News and Discussions

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Time_Traveller
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Half of clothes sold by online fashion brands ‘made from virgin plastic’
Fri 11 Jun 2021

Approximately half of the clothes sold by large online fashion brands such as Boohoo and Asos are made entirely from virgin plastic materials such as polyester, despite a push to reduce the huge environmental impact of the fashion industry.

An analysis of 10,000 items added to the Asos, Boohoo, Missguided and PrettyLittleThing websites over a fortnight in May found an average of 49% were made entirely of new plastics such as polyester, acrylic and nylon. In some stores just 1% contained recycled fabric, according to the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) study.

The fast-fashion boom has caused the use of synthetic fibres, which are made using fossil fuels, to double over the past 20 years. These “cheap” materials, said Josie Warden, the RSA’s head of regenerative design who co-authored the report, had fuelled an “explosion of fast, throwaway fashion”.
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“These fabrics may be cheap at the point of sale, but they form part of a petrochemical economy which is fuelling runaway climate change and pollution,” she added. “The production of synthetic fibres uses large amounts of energy.”

The climate crisis has increased pressure on the fashion industry to mend its ways. In the UK 300,000 tonnes of clothing is burned or buried every year, leading to brands such as PrettyLittleThing and Missguided being criticised for encouraging unsustainable consumption with gimmicks such as 8p dresses and £1 bikinis.
https://www.theguardian.com/business/20 ... in-plastic
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.” - Steven Moffat
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Time_Traveller
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Barrier Reef conservationists welcome Qld renewable energy strategy
12-06-2021

Marine conservationists have welcomed the announcement from the Queensland government that it will expand the Renewable Energy Fund from $500-million to $2-billion to support the growth of manufacturing powered by publicly-owned renewable energy.

“This is great news for our Great Barrier Reef. Unlocking clean renewable energy and storage is key to tackling climate change, [which is] our Reef’s greatest threat,” said Great Barrier Reef campaigner, David Cazzulino, of the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

“This announcement shows the Queensland government is listening to community members who have been demanding investment in clean energy jobs in order for us to do our fair share on climate change.

“The $2-billion fund will keep Queensland’s energy in public hands as the State Government invests in solar, wind, pumped hydro and battery storage that can be used to power clean manufacturing and hydrogen exports.”

Cazzulino added that, as the state’s coal-fired power stations struggled to maintain profitability compared to cheap renewable energy coming online, keeping the next generation of power in public hands meant Queenslanders would reap the benefits of lower energy costs into the future.
https://www.australiantimes.co.uk/news/ ... -strategy/
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.” - Steven Moffat
weatheriscool
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Soaking up the sun: Artificial photosynthesis promises clean, sustainable source of energy

by Brittany Steff, Purdue University
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-06-sun ... ource.html
Humans can do lots of things that plants can't do. We can walk around, we can talk, we can hear and see and touch. But plants have one major advantage over humans: They can make energy directly from the sun.

That process of turning sunlight directly into usable energy—called photosynthesis—may soon be a feat humans are able to mimic to harness the sun's energy for clean, storable, efficient fuel. If so, it could open a whole new frontier of clean energy. Enough energy hits the earth in the form of sunlight in one hour to meet all human civilization's energy needs for an entire year.

Yulia Puskhar, a biophysicist and professor of physics in Purdue's College of Science, may have a way to harness that energy by mimicking plants.
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Federal judge blocks Biden's pause on new oil, gas leases
Source: Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge in Louisiana, who ordered that plans continue for lease sales that were delayed for the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska waters “and all eligible onshore properties.”

-snip-

The moratorium was imposed after Biden on Jan. 27 signed executive orders to fight climate change. The suit was filed in March. The Interior Department later canceled oil and gas lease sales from public lands through June — affecting Nevada, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the bureau’s eastern region.

-snip-

Federal lawyers argued that the public notice and comment period doesn't apply to the suspension, that the lease sales aren't required by law and that the Secretary of the Interior has broad discretion in leasing decisions.

-snip-

“Millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake,” wrote Doughty, who was nominated to the federal bench by President Donald Trump in 2017.

-more-
Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/feder ... d=msedgntp
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Climate activists take Norway to human rights court over Arctic oil plans
Wed 16 Jun 2021

Six climate activists and two environmental NGOs have taken Norway to the European court of human rights (ECHR), arguing the Nordic country’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic are harming young people’s futures.

The activists, Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth, want the court to rule that Oslo’s 2016 decision to grant 10 Barents Sea oil exploration licences violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, which guarantees the right to a healthy environment.

“The environmentalists argue that, by allowing new oil drilling in the midst of a climate crisis, Norway is in breach of fundamental human rights,” the campaigners said in a statement announcing their appeal to the ECHR.

The case follows a recent decision by a Dutch court to order Royal Dutch Shell to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% from 2019 levels by the end of 2030 in a landmark case brought by Friends of the Earth and 17,000 co-plaintiffs.

Norway, Europe’s second-largest oil and gas producer, produces about 4m barrels a day of oil equivalent. It said last week that while it was investing in hydrogen and offshore wind for its green energy transition, it would continue to extract oil and gas until at least 2050 and possibly beyond.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/ ... ling-plans
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.” - Steven Moffat
weatheriscool
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Feds Plan Insecticide Sprays Across 2.6 Million Acres of Montana Grasslands,

Feds Plan Insecticide Sprays Across 2.6 Million Acres of Montana Grasslands, Threatening Pollinators and Organic Farms
BILLINGS, Mont. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently soliciting contract bids for insecticide sprays across Eastern Montana. More than 2.6 million acres of Montana grasslands are identified in the bids as potential areas for aerial sprays, to suppress native species of grasshoppers. The insecticides will be applied aerially starting in mid-June, with the drift putting at risk organic farms and a national wildlife refuge adjacent to the proposed spray areas, as well beneficial insects within the spray blocks.

Federal, tribal, and private land in at least sixteen counties of eastern Montana are included in the potential spray areas. The overall area of the planned spray blocks measures more than 4,000 square miles, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, with some individual blocks measuring over 100,000 acres.

“Aerial application of insecticides on this scale will eliminate millions of insects that pollinate, recycle plant nutrients and perform natural pest control,” said Sharon Selvaggio, Pesticide Program Specialist with the Xerces Society. “Insecticide sprays on this scale across native ecosystems are short-sighted and unsustainable.”

~snip~

“It’s horrifying that the government sprays insecticides from aircraft across the public lands of the West,” said Jocelyn Leroux, Washington/Montana Director of Western Watersheds Project. “They are poisoning the food of grassland birds, including imperiled species like the sage-grouse, for the sake of public lands livestock grazing. It’s destructive to nature and it makes no sense.”
[link:https://www.westernwatersheds.org/2021/ ... deO4o-RRDU|
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weatheriscool
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Long-term study shows rapid formation of micro- and nanoplastics in the environment
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-long-term ... stics.html
by University of Bayreuth
Most microplastic particles in the environment originate from larger pieces of plastic. In a long-term study, an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Bayreuth has simulated how quickly plastic breaks down into fragments under natural influences. High-tech laboratory tests on polystyrene show two phases of abiotic degradation. To begin with, the stability of the plastic is weakened by photo-oxidation. Then cracks form and more and more and smaller fragments are released into the environment. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, allows conclusions to be drawn about other plastics that are common in the environment.

Polystyrene is an inexpensive plastic that is often used for packaging and thermal insulation, and is therefore particularly common in plastic waste. As part of their long-term study, the Bayreuth researchers for the first time combined analytical investigations, which were also carried out on polystyrene particles at the atomic level, with measurements determining the behavior of these particles under mechanical stress. On the basis of this, they developed a model for abiotic degradation, i.e. degradation without the influence of living organisms.
weatheriscool
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Engineers create solar energy collectors grown from seeds
https://techxplore.com/news/2021-06-sol ... seeds.html
by Jade Boyd, Rice University
Rice University engineers have created microscopic seeds for growing remarkably uniform 2D perovskite crystals that are both stable and highly efficient at harvesting electricity from sunlight.

Halide perovskites are organic materials made from abundant, inexpensive ingredients, and Rice's seeded growth method addresses both performance and production issues that have held back halide perovskite photovoltaic technology.

In a study published online in Advanced Materials, chemical engineers from Rice's Brown School of Engineering describe how to make the seeds and use them to grow homogenous thin films, highly sought materials comprised of uniformly thick layers. In laboratory tests, photovoltaic devices made from the films proved both efficient and reliable, a previously problematic combination for devices made from either 3D or 2D perovskites.
weatheriscool
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Australia fights UN downgrade of Great Barrier Reef health
Source: AP

By ROD McGUIRK

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia said Tuesday it will fight against plans to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status due to climate change, while environmentalists have applauded the U.N. World Heritage Committee’s proposal.

The committee said in a draft report on Monday that “there is no possible doubt” that the network of colorful corals off Australia’s northeast coast was “facing ascertained danger.”

The report recommends that the world’s most extensive coral reef ecosystem be added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, which includes 53 sites, when the World Heritage Committee considers the question in China in July.

The listing could shake Australians’ confidence in their government’s ability to care for the natural wonder and create a role for UNESCO headquarters in devising so-called “corrective measures,” which would likely include tougher action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.



Read more: https://apnews.com/article/united-natio ... 37fc834ae8
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Midwest bumble bees declined with more farmed land, less diverse crops since 1870
https://phys.org/news/2021-06-midwest-b ... armed.html
by Eric Hamilton, University of Wisconsin-Madison
As farmers cultivated more land and began to grow fewer types of crops over the last 150 years, most native bumble bee species became rarer in Midwestern states.

New research reveals that these species declined while the average number of different crops grown in these states was cut in half and as modern agriculture began to focus on intensive production of corn and soybeans. A handful of hardy species continue to thrive today, but they also seem to prefer areas with a more diverse assortment of crops such as hay, beans, potatoes and oats in addition to corn and soy.

The findings suggest that landscapes with a wider range of crops could support more bumble bees, which are vital pollinators for both native plants and many crops.
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