Researchers Have Pioneered A Technique To Purify Water By Using The Power Of Sunlight

Scientists in Australia have been able to transform brackish water and seawater into safe, clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and sunlight.

In a discovery that could provide potable water for millions of people across the world, researchers were not only able to filter harmful particles from water and generate 139.5L of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day, but also perform this task in a more energy-efficient manner than current desalination practices.

Metal-organic frameworks are a class of compounds consisting of metal ions that form a crystalline material with the largest surface area of any material known. In fact, MOFs are so porous that they can fit the entire surface of a football field in a teaspoon.

Access to safe drinking water is a situation that affects 785 million people worldwide

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The World Health Organization suggests good quality drinking water should have a total dissolved solid (TDS) of less than 600 parts per million (ppm). The team of researchers were able to achieve a TDS of less than 500 ppm in just 30 minutes and regenerate the MOF for reuse in four minutes under sunlight.

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How Canadian Food Buying And Cooking Habits Have Changed Due To Covid-19, According To Experts

Earlier this year, for many Canadians, grocery shopping shifted from a weekly routine to a gladiatorial sport. In the rush to stock up on goods at the grocery store in the early days of the pandemic, some consumers overbought or hoarded, panicked at the potential disruption in the supply chain. As sales moved online for many, the adjustments in purchasing habits in the household changed not only how we consume food, but the effects of our purchasing habits on the amount we waste.

Over the course of the last few years, food waste has been a prominent concern for the foodservice industry, as climate change and natural disasters have placed increasing strain on the world’s resources. Now, new research places some of that attention on food waste in the home, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed buying and spending habits for the foreseeable future. 

Vegetables and fruit are the most commonly discarded items, according to a new survey.

getty

According to a consumer insights survey conducted by the Mustel Group for the National Zero Waste Council andLove Food Hate Waste Canada, 61 per cent of Canadians are buying more food per grocery trip than usual, and of those households, 40 per cent report buying “a fair amount” or “significantly” more. Of the food that Canadians throw away or compost yearly, 63 per cent of that could have been eaten, representing about $1,100 CAD on an annual basis, according to the report. The most commonly discarded food items are vegetables (68 per cent) andfruit (56 per cent), followed by leftovers (28 per cent), bread products (23 per cent), meat/fish (21 per cent) and dairyproducts (12 per cent)

At the recent Terroir Symposium, online this year for the first time, Sylvain Charlebois, professor and director of  Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab spoke about the lab’s research which surveyed Canadians across the country about household spending, COVID-19 specific habits and food waste. 

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The E.U. Proposes A New Bauhaus To Achieve Climate Goals

The Bauhaus school in Dessau, Germany. Photo: Jens Büttner/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB (Photo by Jens ... [+] Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

picture alliance via Getty Images

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, an art and design school founded in Weimar, Germany that launched a global movement to marry mass production with creativity. For architects of the time, its ideas influenced the modernist movement and led to the creation of the International Style, one in which decor is minimal for the sake of function. The centennial was celebrated with various exhibitions and events across the globe explaining the Bauhaus’s reach and impact. Members of the European Commission seemed to have taken notes. On September 16 during the annual State of the European Union speech, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called for a new “European Bauhaus,” one that would initiate an architectural style to design a climate-neutral future.

The proposal came after von der Leyen set an E.U. goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 55% in 2030, an increase from the previous benchmark of 40%. She cited construction as a sector for vast improvement. “Our buildings generate 40% of our emissions. They need to become less wasteful, less expensive and more sustainable,” she said plainly. “We know that the construction sector can even be turned from a carbon source into a carbon sink, if organic building materials like wood and smart technologies like AI [Artificial Intelligence] are applied.”

The hypothetical European Bauhaus would be a new cultural movement born, much like the original Bauhaus, out of a “co-creation space where architects, artists, students, engineers, designers work together to make that happen,” she says. In collaboration, these creatives would spawn ideas for sustainable renovations to existing structures, as well as invent new architecture that “match[es] style with sustainability,” one that will translate to multi-national contexts and employ the latest green technologies. The multidisciplinary nature of this think tank-esque setting, the E.C. president suggested, would help to streamline burgeoning green movements across sectors and concentrate efforts on a building industry that, albeit necessary for the well-being of humankind, has become one of the single largest polluters in the world.

Since the speech no apparent moves have been made by the E.C. or otherwise to establish the physical or digital European Bauhaus space or to gather the creatives to ideate its carbon-neutral designs. However, the scheme is one that von der Leyen believes will keep the E.U. on track to meet its Paris Agreement goals for carbon neutrality by 2050 (also known as the “European Green New Deal”) and is supported by a target of €750 billion in “green bonds” for NextGenerationEU, the Union’s coronavirus pandemic recovery fund.

Original author: Elizabeth Fazzare, Contributor
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Rail Startup Brightline Kicks Off $3.2 Billion Bond Sale For LA-To-Vegas High-Speed Train

Brightline, the only private passenger rail service in the U.S., is moving ahead with an offering of up to $3.2 billion of tax-exempt bonds for a high-speed train line connecting Las Vegas to Southern California. The company also has a new plan to run trains directly into Los Angeles.

The tax-exempt debt from Florida-based Brightline Holdings is based on private-activity bond allocations of $2.4 billion from California and $800 million from Nevada to fund construction of the 260-mile line between the West Coast cities. The bonds are unrated and the coupon rate and expected yield won’t be set until marketing starts, the company said. Brightline has an additional $1 billion private activity bond allocation from the U.S. government that isn’t part of this offering.

Groundbreaking is set for late this year with a goal to complete construction in three years so that trains can start running by 2024, says Wes Edens, cofounder and co-CEO of Fortress Investment Group, the private equity firm that owns Brightline. The original plan was for a 169-mile line running from California desert communities Victorville and Apple Valley to Las Vegas at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, but Brightline is in negotiations to lengthen it by 90 miles to get to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. 

Wes Edens

Pete Barrett for Forbes

“The real goal is to have a single seat from Union Station to Las Vegas. That’s the service we want,” Edens tells Forbes. While there’s not a final agreement to do that yet, talks with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and city and county transit officials are progressing, he said. “There are a lot of details to be worked out, but it looks really good.”

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As Electric Truck Startup Hyliion Goes Public, Founder Is Set To Be America’s Youngest Self-Made Billionaire

Thomas Healy, CEO of Hyliion.

Courtesy Hyliion

If all goes according to plan, Thomas Healy, 28, will become America’s youngest self-made billionaire next week when shareholders of publicly traded Tortoise Acquisition Group vote September 28 to acquire Hyliion, the Austin-based heavy-duty electric truck company that Healy founded. After that, the ticker symbol will change from SHLL to HYLN, and the new company will get $560 million cash with which to build out Healy’s vision for the future of electrified heavy-duty trucks.

Spokespeople for Tortoise, a special acquisition corp. launched in 2018, insist that shares of SHLL, at $42 today (up fourfold since June), are trading on a “pro forma” basis—as if the deal were already done. Assuming this is a fait accompli, and given 161.6 million pro forma shares outstanding, the implied equity market cap of the new Hyliion comes to an impressive $6.7 billion. According to SEC filings, Healy will be the biggest shareholder, with 22.9% of the company, or 34.97 million shares, worth nearly $1.5 billion. 

He may not be as slick as the other billionaire electric truck impresarios Elon Musk or Nikola’s disgraced former CEO Trevor Milton, but Healy has one up on both Tesla and Nikola when it comes to getting revolutionary tech onto the road. There are already 20 trucks operating with Hyliion’s electric powertrains, built via ventures with Dana Corp. and Volvo. Tesla said this year it was delaying production of its Semi until 2021. Shares in Nikola meanwhile have collapsed from the $70s to less than $20 amid fraud allegations and the departure of Milton.

Which leaves Healy as the great new hope for electrifying Class 8, long-haul semi trucks. How’d he get this far? “I’m a gearhead; I grew up racing,” says Healy, who hails from Massachusetts and competed as a teenager at a national level, racing cars and go-karts. He learned the mechanics behind the machines and began devising electric drivetrains in his dorm room at Carnegie Mellon, where he was also starting punter for the CMU Tartans football team. Studying mechanical engineering, Healy developed the “e-axle”—that’s an electrified axle, powered by lithium-ion batteries, that could be incorporated into the drivetrain of a traditional Class 8, long-haul truck.

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China Just Promised To Go Carbon Neutral By 2060. How Important Is That?

Leaving coal behind? A girl walks past a coal fired power station in Anhui province, China, close to ... [+] the site of a large floating solar farm project.

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On Tuesday, China’s leader Xi Jinping pledged that the nation would go carbon neutral by 2060. The news sent ripples through the climate advocacy community, which has long viewed China’s direction on emissions as pivotal to the ability of the international community to achieve climate targets.

Xi, speaking at the 75th United Nations General Assembly in New York, said: “We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. We call on all countries to pursue innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all.”

The announcement drew an official response from another international event in New York this week: Climate Week NYC.

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“The significant announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the UN General Assembly and in the midst of Climate Week NYC is very welcome,” said Amy Davidsen, North America executive director of the Climate Group, which runs Climate Week.

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As Congress Inches Closer To Legalizing Cannabis Nationwide, States With A Head Start Warn Of Environmental Complications

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13: Trimmers sort and trim marijuana plants at the LivWell Enlightened Health ... [+] cultivation facility on January 13, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Prices recently hit a 3-year high and have rebounded after a significant dip that caused many grows to close. We take a look at wholesale bud prices and what the fluctuations mean for the industry in 2020. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Denver Post via Getty Images

While most of Washington, D.C. is distracted by the Supreme Court drama, a buzz is building around one particularly green issue — namely whether the U.S. House of Representatives could be set to pass a bill to legalize cannabis as early as this month.

The states are now empowered to regulate cannabis use. And 14 jurisdictions have legalized the drug for recreational use while 33 have done so for medical purposes. And if those businesses continue to expand, it would create new opportunities for utilities to increase their electricity sales. As with any new enterprise, though, the cannabis industry is learning as it goes along. A decade ago, state regulators were focused on safety and security. But they are now trying to add a layer of protection and one centered on sustainability — and environmental protection.

“If we decriminalize at the federal level without providing the proper regulatory structure, it might result in a negative environmental impact,” says Kaitlin Urso, environmental consultant for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in an interview with this writer. “Marijuana is now strictly controlled by the states. Without the right regulatory structure, I’m fearful that the entire nation could be back to where Colorado was 10 years ago. The industry must continue to be safe and it must become environmentally sound.” 

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Context is key: The House will consider removing cannabis from the list of controlled substances — a bill that has been written by the judiciary chair, Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat of New York. The measure is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate, although it has been sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris of California and the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. 

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The Future Is Now: This Start-Up Offers Carbon-Free Shopping

An aerial view of Carbon Engineering's operational research facility in Squamish, British Columbia.

CarbonEngineering.com

How wonderful it was to live at the turn of the twenty-first century! We had the luxury of considering climate change as a possible negative that might happen in the seemingly unimaginable future of “ten or 20 years from now.”  

Back in the good ole’ days, we imagined that hurricanes would someday become more destructiveWildfires would someday threaten more population centersDroughts would someday become more severe

These worries may have added a twinge of buzzkill while we were partying like it was 1999. On the bright side — most people figured — the disasters would not come for decades and by then, some lab coat-wearing egghead would have figured out a way to technologize us out of our pickle.  

Twenty years later, there is some good (and better) news and some bad (and worse) news. 

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ChargePoint Plans NYSE Listing To Expand Its Network As EV Sales Grow

ChargePoint estimates its New York Stock Exchange Listing via a merger with Switchback Energy ... [+] Acquisition Corp. is worth $2.4 billion.

ChargePoint

ChargePoint, a Silicon Valley-based operator of charging stations for battery-electric vehicles backed by oil companies, utilities and venture firms, is going public via a SPAC merger that will list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange and raise about $493 million to expand its network as sales of EVs are poised to grow. 

The merger with Switchback Energy Acquisition Corporation, which trades with ticker SBE, will create a company with about $683 million in cash and a combined enterprise value of $2.4 billion, ChargePoint CEO Pat Romano tells Forbes. Proceeds from the deal will be used to pay down debt as well as grow operations in North American and Europe.

The deal comes amid a wave of SPAC-based stock listings for electric vehicle companies and transportation tech startups, ranging from Fisker, Lordstown Motors and Canoo to hydrogen truckmaker Nikola and Luminar and Velodyne, which make laser lidar sensors for self-driving cars. The advantage is a faster, cheaper route to going public and raising funds than a conventional IPO, and one that looks particularly appealing given the runup in major U.S. stock indices this year despite the economic stress of the coronavirus pandemic. While some of the companies going public via a SPAC deal are early-stage and not yet generating revenue, Romano says ChargePoint’s circumstances are different. 

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“We always were planning on going public, just waiting for the right moment,” he said. “We're established, we've had revenue for over 10 years and have been in the market for a long time. We've raised a ton of capital. This is more of a choice than a necessity.”

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California Banning Sales Of New Gasoline Cars By 2035

California Governor Gavin Newsom signs an executive order banning the sale of new gasoline cars in ... [+] the state by 2035.

California Governors Office via YouTube

California, the biggest buyer of vehicles in the U.S., is banning sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks in the state by 2035 with an executive order signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. It’s the single-most aggressive such action ever taken by any U.S. state or nation to fight carbon pollution that’s fueling higher temperatures and wildfires in California and persistent air-quality problems from automotive exhaust.

“To get to a carbon-free economy by 2045 we can’t get there without transportation,” Newsom said in a webcast today. “We are marking a new course … with a firm goal that by 2035 we will eliminate in the state of California sales of internal combustion engines.” 

While new carbon-fueled vehicles can’t be purchased after the law takes effect, “you can keep your current car or buy a used car,” he said. “We’re not taking anything away.”

With a population of 40 million the state buys more than 10% of all new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. annually and is the country’s biggest market for electric vehicles, with about 750,000 on the road today. California also has 34 companies making or planning to produce electric vehicles, most notably Palo Alto-based Tesla TSLA . The combined value of this company’s “half a trillion dollars,” Newsom said. 

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Did The U.S. Become The World’s Top Oil Producer Under President Trump?

MIDLAND, TX - JULY 29: President Donald Trump speaks to city officials and employees of Double Eagle ... [+] Energy on the site of an active oil rig on July 29, 2020 in Midland, Texas. Trump began his visit to the Permian Basin at a fundraising event in Odessa and concluded his visit in Midland to discuss his energy policies and tour the oil rig. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

Getty Images

As the presidential election approaches, I am increasingly seeing claims that President Trump put the U.S. back on top as the world’s leading oil producer. So, let’s take a closer look.

Here is a 2013 article from the Daily Mail announcing the U.S. as the world’s top oil producer:

U.S. has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become the world's biggest oil producer on jump in output from shale

You can find plenty of articles from 2013 and 2014 announcing that the U.S. had regained the position as the world’s top oil producer. So what is the basis for making the claim that President Trump put the U.S. back on top? Allow me to explain.

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Devon Energy Absorbs WPX In Oil Industry ‘Merger Of Equals’

Devon Energy Tower dominates the Oklahoma City skyline.

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In what’s being billed as a merger of equals, Devon Energy DVN will acquire WPX Energy in an all-stock deal that gives WPX shareholders five out of 12 board seats and .5165 Devon shares for each of theirs, amounting to 43% of “New Devon.” 

With a combined capital structure involving $6 billion in debt against $6 billion in equity, and daily production volumes of roughly 525,000 barrels per day of oil (and natural gas equivalents), the new Devon will be bigger than Apache Corp APA and Marathon Oil MRO , and just a notch below EOG Resources EOG

The deal, first rumored over the weekend, comes on the heels of Chevron’s CVX takeover of Noble Corp. NE , and features a popular new recipe for consolidating America’s beleaguered oilpatch — the stock-for-stock deal gives WPX just a 3% premium. In a ringing endorsement, Devon shares closed up 11% Monday, while WPX was up 16% (both issues are down by more than 2/3rds YTD).

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More consolidation has to happen, because without it companies will keep shrinking and disappear. With oil prices too low to incentivize new investment, companies have all but stopped drilling and fracking new wells. Devon cut Capex early in the down cycle, and has watched production volumes drop 40% since 2018. The flip side is that when you stop drilling suddenly cash begins to build up. Devon’s cash pile has grown to $1.5 billion.

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California Won’t Achieve Its New Zero-Emission Vehicle Goal Until Multi-Unit Dwellers Can Access Electric Vehicle Charging

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring the exclusive sale of zero-emission passenger vehicles (ZEVs) starting in 2035. This executive order raises the state’s ambition to reduce transportation emissions and other harmful pollutants, but the state will likely miss this goal unless all Californians can gain access to electric vehicle (EV) charging.

As it stands, few people in apartments or condominiums can access EV charging. Roughly 90% of California’s chargers are located at homes overall, but as few as 18% are located at multi-unit dwellings (MUDs). Nearly 50% of Californians live in MUDs, meaning the state urgently needs policies to scale EV charging access to all residents.

Energy Innovation modeling found if California is on track to reach the 100% light-duty ZEV sales target in 2035, it will have 9 million passenger battery electric vehicles on the road by 2030. These ZEVs will cumulatively reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 42 million metric tons by 2030, with even larger climate benefits as the state reaches the 100% sales target in 2035, setting the path to a 100% ZEV fleet by 2050.

Transportation electrification is also a vital public health protection; a recent American Lung Association report found $22 billion in annual public health benefits via widespread transportation electrification across California.

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China Takes Up Mantle Of Climate Leadership, Corporates Follow Suit

Solar panels and wind turbines in China's Hebei Province. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty ... [+] Images)

Visual China Group via Getty Images

Last week’s Climate Week NYC was unusual for a number of reasons – like many such events in 2020, it was virtual, for a start. But also, despite the string of eye-catching announcements that the event habitually brings, the biggest news for the climate happened away from the conference.

In a shock move that didn’t get the attention it deserved because of the noise from the US political scene, China, the world’s largest emitter and the dominant user of coal to generate electricity, committed at the UN General Assembly to ensure that its emissions will peak by 2030 and that it would become carbon-neutral by 2060.

As yet, there are no details about how the country will achieve these goals, but they mark a significant shift in policy for China, which has long claimed that as a developing nation it should not face the same restrictions on emissions that industrialised nations do even though it produces 28% of global emissions. As the New York Times NYT says, “China is now pledging to lead by example, setting itself goals befitting a country that aspires to be a superpower”.

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This is hugely significant in itself – scientists calculate that meeting these targets could avoid 0.25°C of temperature rises – but it also removes one of the main arguments for not acting that climate sceptics often employ; namely that there is no point – and it is not fair – if we reduce our emissions because China is increasing its carbon pollution. It will increase pressure on the US to reconsider its plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement if President Trump is re-elected, but also ensures that climate action will remain a dominant theme in the global economy even if he does.

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California Will Ban New Gasoline Cars By 2035. The Grid Will Handle It

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 23: A view of Tesla Superchargers on September 23, 2020 in ... [+] Petaluma, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order directing the California Air Resources Board to establish regulations that would require all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Sales of internal combustion engines would be banned in the state after 2035. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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California’s governor Gavin Newsom declared last week that the sale of new gasoline/diesel powered cars will be forbidden starting in 2035. This follows similar initiatives in Germany and several other countries, but is a first for the USA. Is it practical to go all electric in just 15 years?

Gasoline cars will still exist after 2035, of course. Used cars will be around for decades, and people will be able to buy new cars outside the state and bring them in, though that may get curtailed with time. Even before 2035, many people feel you would be crazy to want one, though. Electric cars are already considerably superior in performance for those who demand zoom-zoom. They are much cheaper to run and maintain. They currently cost more to buy, and people who don’t own them imagine there is a problem with the range and recharging.

Last week, Elon Musk promised that Tesla will sell a nice EV for $25,000 in just 3 years. While he might not keep that exact promise, it’s clear that by 2035, it will actually be even better than that. Possibly much better — minimalist EVs already sell for only $5,000 in China. (I’m an investor in a company developing a specialized EV aimed at a $6,500 price without subsidy.) In addition, by 2035 there will be a whole generation of used EVs on the market at very attractive price points. Collectors of old-style gasoline cars will still want those, but they won’t be banned.

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As I noted above, people who don’t own them imagine range is a problem. People who do own them learn that with the modern cars with 200 miles of range or more, range is not the problem they imagined before they bought (for everyday urban driving.) Today, one caveat must be placed on this — you need to have charging at home, where you park your car, or at work. Today, EV use is not nearly so convenient for those who can’t do either of those, such as those who live in rental property or park on the street. That’s today, though. In 15 years, there is plenty of time to fix that problem with a variety of solutions, including getting charging in rental units and commuter parking lots, and even in some cases on the street.

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COVID-19 Kills More Americans Every Week Than All Radiation Deaths In World History

Surgical nurse Lt Natasha McClinton prepares a patient in the intensive care unit aboard the U.S. ... [+] hospital ship USNS Comfort. The ship has cared for critical and non-critical patients in support of the U.S. Northern Command's Defense Support of Civil Authorities as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

US Navy 2nd Class Sara Eshleman

The extraordinary death rate from Covid-19 hasn’t penetrated many people’s awareness, so a little perspective is warranted.

Because of our pathetic response to the pandemic, as of this writing, over 205,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, primarily from the deadly uncontrolled systemic inflammatory response of our body’s own immune system, known as a cytokine storm.

Compare that number to the biggest killers in our society, and also to those that generate the most fear, but don’t kill that many Americans (table below). Note these are generally behavioral causes, e.g., smoking doesn’t kill you directly, it causes health effects like heart disease, emphysema or cancer that actually does the killing. But these examples are things that people can choose to do, or be, to varying degrees.

Averaging over a recent 5-year period to smooth out the short-term variability (some of these numbers change quite a bit year to year), some of the big killers are:

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Wingsail Technology Uses Wind To Reduce Ships’ Emissions By 30%

Wingsail ferry

Bound4Blue

Shipowners and operators may be able to decrease their fuel-related costs and pollutant emissions up to 30%, thanks to a new system created by Bound4blue.

The Spanish company aims at delivering automated wind assisted propulsion systems (also called wingsails) that can be integrated onto a wide range of vessels. The project was founded by Cristina Aleixendri, David Ferrer and José Miguel Bermúdez.

“The three of us are aeronautical engineers, which clearly served as the foundation of the technology developed,” Bermúdez says. “We found soft sails installed in sailing boats or yachts, but none in commercial vessels. We believed we could apply our knowledge in aeronautics to build a high-lift device for the shipping industry adapted to its requirements, that could be the solution to the two showstopper challenges they are facing: high fuel operating expenses and emissions reduction pressure from international entities.”

Before Bound4blue, the co-founders worked on the design, manufacture and launch of scientific capsules to space, the construction of efficient wind towers, and the deployment of Geodetic Quality Sea-Ice drift buoys in the Arctic. They have been featured amongst the 30 brightest industry European entrepreneurs under the age of 30 by Forbes.

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Fact-Checking President Trump’s Ethanol And Oil Production Claims

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 24: President Donald Trump speaks during his, 'The Great American ... [+] Comeback Rally', at Cecil Airport on September 24, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. President Trump continues to campaign against Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Getty Images

This week at a campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida, President Trump made a puzzling claim. Near the end of a story about Kamala Harris, Trump said “The great state of Iowa — where I made ethanol possible for them...”

I can’t even begin to understand what that means, but let’s review some ethanol history.

The ethanol industry was kicked into high gear in the U.S. with the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS was first passed into law with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and it was subsequently expanded in 2007 (both under President Bush). The RFS established quotas of renewable fuels that had to be blended into the fuel supply, and an enforcement mechanism to ensure those quotas were met.

The RFS resulted in an explosion of ethanol production in the U.S. When the RFS was passed, the U.S. produced under 4 billion gallons of ethanol. By 2008, President Bush’s last year in office, ethanol production had more than doubled to over 9 billion gallons.

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Gavin Newsom’s Energy Hubris Relates Directly To “Peak Oil” Predictions

On the hood of an electric car, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs an executive order requiring all ... [+] new passenger vehicles sold in the state to be zero-emission by 2035 after a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at Cal Expo in Sacramento. (Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Three big oil and gas-related stories this week were all interrelated with one another, though few really understand that to be the case. Those stories were:

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders to ban fracking in his state and to establish a goal to eliminate gas-and-diesel-powered vehicles by 2035;The study by British oil giant BP implying that the world may have reached “peak oil” demand in late 2019; andThe forecast released on Friday by U.S. giant ConocoPhillips COP projecting that global crude demand will in fact recover to pre-COVID demand levels relatively quickly and continue to grow from there for the foreseeable future.

For Governor Newsom, banning hydraulic fracturing - or “fracking” as it has come to be called - in his state is a relatively simple matter in what has become, for all intents and purposes, a one-party state. All he has to do is convince his overwhelming majorities in both houses of California’s state assembly to pass a bill mandating that all fracking operations cease within the state’s borders by a date certain.

Such a move would of course eliminate thousands of oil and gas-related jobs in the state, but most of those are concentrated in Republican Kern County and the surrounding parts of the Central Valley, over which the assembly’s Democrats would have little concern. Besides, they can all just respond to Republican and industry complaints with the Obama-era pretense that all those lost jobs and more will be made up by the heavily-subsidized wind and solar industries. It will be akin to former President Obama telling West Virginia coal miners and Ohio steel workers that their jobs are never coming back and they should all go learn to code.

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Replacing the state’s millions of gas and diesel autos with electric vehicles will be a far more complicated enterprise. Newsom’s order gets that ball rolling by requiring the California Air Resources Board to implement the phaseout of new gas-powered cars and light trucks in the coming years, and also require medium and heavy-duty trucks to be zero-emission by 2045 where possible. Sounds simple, right?

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The Truth About Hunter Biden — And Why Republicans Are So Disappointed

The Trump campaign planned to make Hunter Biden a major issue in the 2020 campaign, hoping revelations about former vice president Joe Biden’s son would weaken the Democratic presidential candidate. Yet despite the fact that Congressional Republicans have spent over a year accusing Biden of a range of improprieties, a recent report from Senate Republican-led investigations into Hunter Biden’s activities failed to gain substantial media reaction. Which begs the question:

Why are the attacks on Hunter Biden amounting to, in President Trump’s words, a big “nothingburger?”

This past week Senate Republicans issued an 87-page interim report into the activities of Hunter Biden. The report, which was issued by Republican members of the Senate Finance and Homeland Security Committees, came after the review of over 45,000 pages of records and interviews with eight witness who purportedly had knowledge related to Biden’s activities. Focusing on purported business dealings Hunter Biden had with foreign nationals during the Obama administration, much of the report addresses Biden’s well-known service on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company. It it also explores Biden’s contacts with other wealthy and politically connected foreign nationals.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12, 2016: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden (L) and U.S. ... [+] Vice President Joe Biden attend the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)

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The biggest revelation of the report? That it doesn’t make any credible, evidence backed accusations that Hunter Biden undertook any illegal activities.

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