Never mind Extinction Rebellion, let's consider Boris Johnson's charge sheet | Stewart Lee

My old university friend, the American geographer William Dyer, accepted my Skype call at a research station on the pebble shores of the Antarctic Sound. Once, it would have been too remote to receive messages and yet here I was, laughing at the Sub Pop Records baseball cap that fixed him temporally and culturally. Will had wanted to be free, free to do what he wanted to do. And he had wanted to get loaded and have a good time. But Will, a better man than I, discovered a conscience. And now he was watching ice melt.

Will had been the first person to tell me about climate change, one long whiskey night in 1986, but the idea that the world was warming was absurd, just like his claim that one day we would piggyback on a worldwide military computer network to communicate face to face. And yet here we were doing just that and Will was in a shrinking southern ice field documenting exactly the kind of destruction I had doubted.

I needed Will’s advice. The environmental action group Extinction Rebellion was asking minor celebrities, like me, to sign a letter in Sunday’s Observer countering the Boris Johnson government’s claims it was a criminal organisation, after it stopped the distribution of newspapers deemed hostile to its aims from Rupert Murdoch’s plants. I was interested in William’s position. “Well, Extinction Rebellion is of course right to be extremely alarmed,” he said, “but I suppose, philosophically, it might be worth your clarifying the distinction between a criminal action and a moral one.” William allowed me to answer him in one long stream-of-consciousness rant, a skill honed through 30 years of echo-chamber leftwing standup.

“You’re right of course, Will,” I began. “But the verified crimes of Boris Johnson himself are many and varied and range from the irrelevant to the indefensible. He claims to have been arrested for plant-pot related restaurant vandalism while a student member of an elite restaurant vandalism society; was sacked from the Times for inventing quotes impugning the 13th-century nobleman Piers Gaveston; agreed to find his friend Darius Guppy the address of a journalist the convicted fraudster wanted to give “a couple of black eyes and a cracked rib”; used cocaine, though claims he imbibed with the lack of accuracy or care typical of his approach to politics; accrued multiple parking fines while reviewing cars for the monthly sex-gadgets journal GQ; built an ostentatious shed on his balcony without planning permission, making his Islington neighbours choke on their Fair Trade LGBTQIA hessian duffel-coat espadrille dinner-party muesli; used discreet water sprayers to suppress air pollution levels around monitoring stations in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, inadvertently contributing to the long-term critical health problems of thousands of vulnerable children; failed to declare a conflict of interest regarding his friendship with a pole-dancing technology instructor; lied about Turkish accession to the EU; lied on a bus about EU savings that could be transferred to the NHS; lied about an affair and so was dismissed from the post of shadow arts minister; lied about public support for a no-deal Brexit and so was censured by the Independent Press Standards Organisation in April 2019; failed nine times to declare his full earnings from the Daily Telegraph when he should have done, in breach of ministerial codes; lied about the reasons for not singing Rule, Britannia! at the Proms; lied by colluding in the distribution of undated images of al fresco long-hair dining to shore up the perceived stability of his relationship with Carrie Symonds; and lied to the Queen to unlawfully prorogue parliament. And yet here is Boris Pot-Crime Gaveston-Crime Address-Crime Cocaine-Crime Parking-Crime Shed-Crime Pollution-Crime Pole-Crime Turkish-Crime Bus-Crime Affair-Crime No-Deal-Crime Telegraph-Crime Proms-Crime Hair-Crime Queen-Crime Johnson, asking the Home Office to reclassify Extinction Rebellion as a “criminal” organisation. And Boris Johnson calling Extinction Rebellion a criminal organisation is the pot calling the kettle black. And that pot had probably been thrown through the window of an Oxford restaurant in the 1980s anyway. Or been smoked. Or something. And the kettle isn’t called “black”. It is called a “picaninny”. Yes! That’s it!! Boris Johnson is the pot that has been thrown through a restaurant window or smoked, calling the kettle a picaninny. Let’s see that sentence trending on Twitter! Could a rightwing comedian have thought of that? No! That is why I was called “The World’s Greatest Living Standup” by the reputable and honest Times newspaper in 2018. And you’re watching ice melt in a wilderness!!”

Extinction Rebellion: 92-year-old among dozens arrested in London climate protests - video report

“OK, Tiger, petty, personality-driven political point-scoring is too trivial a framing device for this debate. Let’s make this more of a Socratic dialogue and less of an ego trip,” said Will, harshing my buzz. “Critics will claim that Extinction Rebellion’s actions strike at the democratic notion of a free press. But from a moral perspective, when rising temperatures have destroyed our world as we know it, perhaps the cockroaches that inherit the planet will fashion from their stinking dung enormous reverential statues of the heroic Extinction Rebellion ‘criminals’ that tried to save us from ourselves.”

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Is Anybody Listening?

TOPSHOT - The San Francisco Bay Bridge and city skyline are obscured in orange smoke and haze as ... [+] their seen from Treasure Island in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2020. - More than 300,000 acres are burning across the northwestern state including 35 major wildfires, with at least five towns "substantially destroyed" and mass evacuations taking place. (Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small / AFP) (Photo by BRITTANY HOSEA-SMALL/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

How much longer will we continue to ignore the impact of our continued refusal to do anything to mitigate the planet’s long-standing climate emergency?

California and Oregon are in flames, forcing half a million people to abandon their homes, and exceeding in a matter of weeks the area burned last year: yet we still refuse to accept that this is a direct result of the increase in global temperature caused by human activity that has turned our forests into tinder. The orange skies lending an apocalyptic, science-fiction air to San Francisco illustrate the terrible magnitude of the catastrophe we all now find ourselves part of.

And it’s not just California and Oregon: the Amazon rainforest is burning at a faster rate than ever; the ice in the Bering Strait and Greenland is melting beyond the point of no return in a loss that keeps increasing every year, threatening floods that will surely create millions of climate refugees; temperatures in the Arctic exceed 100ºF; the Atlantic hurricane season seems to be preparing to break all records and wipe out entire areas; human activity is destroying biodiversity at an unprecedented rate, storms flatten entire towns in Iowa, and huge clouds of mosquitoes rising from flood debris are killing cattle and horses in Louisiana. For once, the term apocalyptic is no exaggeration.

The science is beyond question: our carbon dioxide emissions are killing the planet by turning it into a hothouse. Last year, the climate emergency generated more than fifteen weather phenomena the cost of clearing up each exceeded $1 billion, and threatens to destroy our economies, especially if we continue voting for politicians who do nothing to prevent it or even make the problem worse.

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Trump doesn't care if wildfires destroy the west – it didn't vote for him | Robert Reich

The air outside my window is yellow today. It was orange yesterday. The Air Quality Index is over 200. The Environmental Protection Agency defines this as a “health alert” in which “everyone may experience more serious health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours”. Unfortunately, the index has been over 200 for several days.

The west is burning. Wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington are incinerating homes, killing scores of people, sickening many others, causing hundreds of thousands to evacuate, burning entire towns to the ground, consuming millions of acres, and blanketing the western third of the United States with thick, acrid and dangerous smoke.

Yet the president has said and done almost nothing. A month ago, Trump wanted to protect lives in Oregon and California from “rioters and looters”. He sent federal forces into the streets of Portland and threatened to send them to Oakland and Los Angeles.

Today, Portland is in danger of being burned and Oakland and Los Angeles are under health alerts. Trump will visit California on Monday, but he has said little.

One reason: these states voted against him in 2016 and he still bears a grudge.

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Extinction Rebellion is a force for good | Observer letters

The government is failing us on every count. Deaths from Covid 19; a recovery plan that allocates billions of taxpayers’ money to the fossil fuel economy; climate and ecological devastation that has destabilised our planet; refugees used by politicians and media to stir up fear and hatred; Public Health England scrapped with zero consultation. This list is not exhaustive.

The system is broken and the government is not protecting us.

Extinction Rebellion has helped push the government’s failure to act on the climate and ecological emergency into the public eye. Whether or not we agree with their tactics or their targets, by blocking printing presses and delaying newspaper distribution, they have connected the dots of a broken system.

For the past 30 years there’s been a woeful lack of serious reporting on the climate and ecological emergency due to the billionaire owners’ vested interests, and a lack of understanding from reporters, to editors to senior executives, about the severity and scale of the crisis. This has meant a terrifying delay on action to combat climate change.

Extinction Rebellion are not organised criminals. They should not be the targets of vitriol and anti-democratic posturing. They’re just a group of people who are holding the powerful to account.

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UK move to classify Extinction Rebellion 'organised crime group' comes under fire

Letter signed by 150 public figures hits back at move to scapegoat protesters

Extinction Rebellion protesters use bamboo lock-ons to block the road outside the Rupert Murdoch-owned Newsprinters works in Hertfordshire on 5 September. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Stephen Fry, Mark Rylance and a former Archbishop of Canterbury are among 150 public figures to hit back at government moves to classify the climate protesters of Extinction Rebellion as an “organised crime group”. In a letter to be published in the Observer on Sunday, XR is described as “a group of people who are holding the powerful to account” – who should not become targets of “vitriol and anti-democratic posturing”.

It comes in response to the prime minister and home secretary’s reported move to review how the group is classified in law after it disrupted the distribution of four national newspapers, including the Sun and the Daily Mail, last Saturday.

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Nikola Denies Short-Seller’s Fraud Claims It Calls ‘Hit Job’ As Shares Fall Further

Nikola shares continued to drop despite denying claims its founder misrepresented the company's ... [+] technology.

Nikola Motor

Nikola fired back at a scathing report by an analyst with a short position in the company’s stock that accused it of being an “intricate fraud,” denying its findings and retaining a high-profile law firm for a possible legal response. Yet Nikola shares fell further on Friday.

“An activist short-seller whose motivation is to manipulate the market and profit from a manufactured decline in our stock price published a so-called ‘report’ replete with misleading information and salacious accusations directed at our founder and executive chairman,” Nikola said Friday. “To be clear, this was not a research report and it is not accurate. This was a hit job for short sale profit driven by greed.”

The hydrogen truckmaker said it has nothing to hide in and we will refute the allegations. Nikola also hired Kirkland & Ellis LLP, a law firm that often works with automakers, “to evaluate potential legal recourse, including with respect to the activist short seller and any others acting in concert.”

The report, “Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership With the Largest Auto OEM in America” by Nate Anderson, a CFA whose Hindenburg Research says it specializes in forensic financial analysis, helped drive an 11% drop in Nikola shares on Sept. 10. Among its accusations, the “breakthrough” battery system Nikola founder and Executive Chairman Milton said the company was working on last year doesn’t exist and the company has claimed to have designed technology and vehicle components purchased from other manufactures as its own. “We have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size,” Anderson said. 

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Nikola Denies Short-Seller’s Fraud Claims It Calls ‘Hit Job’ As Shares Fall Further

Nikola shares continued to drop despite denying claims its founder misrepresented the company's ... [+] technology.

Nikola Motor

Nikola fired back at a scathing report by an analyst with a short position in the company’s stock that accused it of being an “intricate fraud,” denying its findings and retaining a high-profile law firm for a possible legal response. Yet Nikola shares fell further on Friday.

“An activist short-seller whose motivation is to manipulate the market and profit from a manufactured decline in our stock price published a so-called ‘report’ replete with misleading information and salacious accusations directed at our founder and executive chairman,” Nikola said Friday. “To be clear, this was not a research report and it is not accurate. This was a hit job for short sale profit driven by greed.”

The hydrogen truckmaker said it has nothing to hide in and we will refute the allegations. Nikola also hired Kirkland & Ellis LLP, a law firm that often works with automakers, “to evaluate potential legal recourse, including with respect to the activist short seller and any others acting in concert.”

The report, “Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership With the Largest Auto OEM in America” by Nate Anderson, a CFA whose Hindenburg Research says it specializes in forensic financial analysis, helped drive an 11% drop in Nikola shares on Sept. 10. Among its accusations, the “breakthrough” battery system Nikola founder and Executive Chairman Milton said the company was working on last year doesn’t exist and the company has claimed to have designed technology and vehicle components purchased from other manufactures as its own. “We have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size,” Anderson said. 

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How To Be Carbon-Free, With A New App And A Neutrality Certificate

The Klima carbon calculator measures personal carbon footprint so users can offset your emissions ... [+] through a subscription that funds climate projects.

Klima

Whether you own a smartphone or a company, two systems can help you take climate action. The newly launched climate app Klima has a mission to turn climate neutrality into a mass movement, similar to what the Climate Neutral’s Certification does for brands.

The Klima carbon calculator allows users to measure their personal carbon footprint and then neutralize these emissions. Through an average $20 monthly subscription, they can choose the climate projects they want to fund among a list that includes: tree planting, solar energy and clean cook stove initiatives.

These align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and count among the top 10 most effective climate solutions worldwide, according to Project Drawdown.

“Klima is a climate app for consumers that empowers everyone to become carbon neutral with the tap of a button,” says the CEO and cofounder Markus Gilles. “It makes effective climate action radically easy.”

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How To Be Carbon-Free, With A New App And A Neutrality Certificate

The Klima carbon calculator measures personal carbon footprint so users can offset your emissions ... [+] through a subscription that funds climate projects.

Klima

Whether you own a smartphone or a company, two systems can help you take climate action. The newly launched climate app Klima has a mission to turn climate neutrality into a mass movement, similar to what the Climate Neutral’s Certification does for brands.

The Klima carbon calculator allows users to measure their personal carbon footprint and then neutralize these emissions. Through an average $20 monthly subscription, they can choose the climate projects they want to fund among a list that includes: tree planting, solar energy and clean cook stove initiatives.

These align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and count among the top 10 most effective climate solutions worldwide, according to Project Drawdown.

“Klima is a climate app for consumers that empowers everyone to become carbon neutral with the tap of a button,” says the CEO and cofounder Markus Gilles. “It makes effective climate action radically easy.”

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What The World’s Brightest Young Leaders Are Doing About Racial Injustice, The Virus And Climate Change

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Illustration by Andrea Mongia

Daily Cover||Sep 10, 2020,06:30am EDT

They inherited a world of three plagues: racial inequality, Covid-19 and climate change. These Under 30 alumni are trying to fix them all with cutting edge technologies, new markets and fresh ideas.

Additional Reporting ByMarley Coyne

Wildfires. Racial inequity. A global pandemic. Widespread civil unrest. Rather than throwing up their hands in despair, these young activists and entrepreneurs, all Forbes Under 30 alumni, are taking action. Here’s how these young innovators are combating inequality, fighting climate change and battling the virus in 30 words or less.

Illustration by Sally Deng

Cofounders, Byteboard

To combat gender and racial bias, Lyft and Dropbox turn to these Stanford and Berkeley-grads’ identity-blind software to assess engineering skills of job candidates through real-world projects.

 

Founder, Madym

Tired of being the only woman-of-color in science and math classes, Karanja raised $1.2 million for skill-based training programs targeting underrepresented students. It’s graduated 1,200 middle and high schoolers.

 

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California Has Always Had Fires, Environmental Alarmism Makes Them Worse Than Necessary

It’s possible we would have awoken to an orange sky even had the planet’s temperature not risen ... [+] one-degree Celsius over the last 100 years.

Mark Nelson

I woke up an hour later than normal yesterday morning because smoke from northern California’s forest fires had blotted out the sun. My bedroom windows glowed orange. It looked like a scene out of the 1983 made-for-TV movie, “The Day After,” about nuclear war. 

I wasn’t the only one creeped out by the apocalyptic hue. “'A Nuclear Winter' Over Bay Area, as Wildfires Blot Out the Sun,” read a New York Times NYT headline. “Without the smoke, it would be a clear day,” noted a scientist. “This is all generated from the fires.”

The same mechanism that caused the orange sky is what could destroy agriculture in the wake of a thermonuclear war: particulate matter from burned wood blocking parts of the light spectrum from reaching the ground.

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And yet the air quality wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked. “The good thing about it is most of the (smoke) is staying aloft,” the air quality meteorologist for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), said. “The sun is able to scatter those smoke particles that produce this apocalyptic orange color that we’re seeing.”

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The Age Of The ‘Megafire’ Is Upon Us

A law enforcement officer watches flames launch into the air as fire continues to spread during the ... [+] Bear fire in Oroville, California on September 9, 2020. - Dangerous dry winds whipped up California's record-breaking wildfires and ignited new blazes, as hundreds were evacuated by helicopter and tens of thousands were plunged into darkness by power outages across the western United States. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

The west coast of the United States is ablaze. Nearly 100 wildfires burning from San Diego to Seattle have devastated communities, killed at least 14 people, incited rolling blackouts, and caused billions of dollars in damages. California has seen a record-setting 2.5 million acres burned thus far in 2020, with the cooler and damper Pacific Northwest approaching 1 million acres burned in just three days – double the amount the region loses in an average year. Oregon is in the process of an unprecedented evacuation to move 500,000 residents (10% of the state population) out of high-risk areas. Washington State has lost 1000 square miles to fires. Incredibly, six of California’s 20 worst wildfires happened in 2020, and there are still three months to go in the year.

Due to the impacts of climate change, the West Coast has turned into a literal tinder box: a 20 year drought, record-high temperatures, dead vegetation, high winds , and savage lightning storms have come together to cause what climate scientists are calling the age of the ‘megafire.’ Poor forest management and human development into high-risk areas compound the damage these fires can do.

U.S. wildfire map tracker (updated Sept 09, 2020)

OpenStreetMap Contributors via https://dabrownstein.com/tag/active-fire-mapping/

As humans dig up and burn previously sequestered hydrocarbons like coal, oil, and natural gas, they increase the levels of heat-trapping gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. More heat means more energy injected into the earth’s self-contained energy systems. This anthropogenic boost to greenhouse gas concentrations is making powerful storms more frequent and more severe. And the worst is still yet to come.

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These Countries Could Receive $21 Billion To Go Green, But Keep Burning Coal Instead

The Belchatow power plant in Poland. The EU country most dependent on coal for its electricity, ... [+] Poland has said it plans to continue using the fossil fuel beyond 2030.

AFP via Getty Images

Seven European nations that are to be awarded billions of dollars to help them go carbon neutral are planning to stick with coal-fired electricity generation until at least 2030, a new report has revealed.

Further, 11 out of 18 EU countries reviewed do not have a plan to phase out coal by that year—a target considered necessary to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.

The findings raise questions about the effectiveness of the European Just Transition Fund, a financial vehicle intended to enable less prosperous, fossil fuel-dependent regions to develop into low-carbon economies. It’s part of the trillion-euro European Green Deal, the ambitious plan to take the continent carbon neutral.

In an analysis of 18 European countries’ national energy and climate plans (NECPs), environmental think tank Ember and the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe found that only nine explicitly stated they would phase out coal by 2030.

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These Countries Could Receive $21 Billion To Go Green, But Keep Burning Coal Instead

The Belchatow power plant in Poland. The EU country most dependent on coal for its electricity, ... [+] Poland has said it plans to continue using the fossil fuel beyond 2030.

AFP via Getty Images

Seven European nations that are to be awarded billions of dollars to help them go carbon neutral are planning to stick with coal-fired electricity generation until at least 2030, a new report has revealed.

Further, 11 out of 18 EU countries reviewed do not have a plan to phase out coal by that year—a target considered necessary to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.

The findings raise questions about the effectiveness of the European Just Transition Fund, a financial vehicle intended to enable less prosperous, fossil fuel-dependent regions to develop into low-carbon economies. It’s part of the trillion-euro European Green Deal, the ambitious plan to take the continent carbon neutral.

In an analysis of 18 European countries’ national energy and climate plans (NECPs), environmental think tank Ember and the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe found that only nine explicitly stated they would phase out coal by 2030.

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Nikola Shares Sink On Short-Seller Claims Founder Milton Overstated Tech Capabilities

Nikola Motor founder and chairman Trevor Milton at the truckmaker's Nikola World 2019 conference.

Isaac Sloan for Nikola Motor

Two days after Nikola Motor’s shares surged on surprise news of a far-ranging manufacturing and technological tie-up with General Motors GM the stock sank in Nasdaq trading after an analyst with a short position in the the hydrogen truckmaker claimed founder Trevor Milton has misrepresented its capabilities for years. 

The lengthy, hard-hitting report, “Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership With the Largest Auto OEM in America,” was written by Nate Anderson, a CFA whose Hindenburg Research says it specializes in forensic financial analysis. Anderson noted “after extensive research, we have taken a short position in shares of Nikola Corp.”

Among the accusations, the “breakthrough” battery system Milton said Nikola was working on last year doesn’t exist and the company has claimed to have designed technology and vehicle components purchased from other manufactures as its own, according to the report. “We have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size,” Anderson said. 

Shares of Nikola fell 11% in Nasdaq NDAQ trading Thursday to finish at $37.57.

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Digitization and Platform Economics Enable New Energy and Building Industry Business Models

By: Ashok John, Carsten Petersdorff

Artificial Intelligence technology for backgrounds

getty

The energy industry evolution provides opportunities for businesses to engage in a highly digitized and integrated environment and gain revenue from new value streams and business models. This major transition—driven by decarbonization of the supply and demand sectors—to a clean, intelligent, mobile, and distributed energy system comes with a host of challenges but also opportunities. Due to the fluctuating and intermittent nature of renewable energy, distributed energy resources require additional flexibility potential on the demand side (e.g., buildings, industries, and mobility) to enable a robust and reliable supply system. The digitization and electrification of these components is essential to integrate various flexibility sources into the supply sector.

According to Guidehouse, cross-sectoral energy platforms such as Building-to-Grid (B2G) are enabling technologies that create value for intelligent and energy efficient buildings by integrating their storage and flexibility potential into the grid. A critical dimension for early movers and digital champions in this field is the velocity of the digital transformation, which has increased during the coronavirus outbreak. As Microsoft’s MSFT CEO Satya Nadella stated during the company’s first quarter earnings call, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” This transformational boost will severely affect all components of the energy industry.

This article addresses several key questions related to the journey toward an intelligent, highly digitized building segment. The answers provide an overview of immediate priorities to realize the full potential of this one-time opportunity.

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The Science Behind Mysterious Orange Skies In California

One of my favorite albums is “Under A Blood Red Sky” by U2. This album kept coming to mind as I saw picture after picture of the skies in California this week. While not completely red, the reddish-orange hue of the sky was undeniable and eery. Many people compared the scenes to something from one of NASA’s Martian rovers. The western U.S. is experiencing an apocalyptic fire season fueled by heat, ample dry vegetation, and even lightning. According to UCLA weather expert Daniel Swain, well over 2 million acres have burned (and counting). So why were the skies orange?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 9: Jose Castillo has his photo taken with the Bay Bridge and the San ... [+] Francisco skyline in the background by his friend Laito Miyake, both of San Francisco, as smoky skies from the northern California wildfires casts an orange and yellow color in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (Photo by Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

MediaNews Group via Getty Images

You may be tempted to conclude that it is just the color represented by all of the burning fires, but it is far more complex. We have to talk about smoke, aerosols, scattering and something called the marine layer to properly explain what is happening. I will start with the marine layer, which according to the National Weather Service “represents a difference between a cool, moist air mass and a warmer air mass.” The marine layer can linger for weeks along the west coast of continents. It can also act as a low level barrier because of the atmospheric stability of this meteorological feature. The marine layer, as seen below, is a relatively shallow feature in the atmosphere that creeps in from the ocean.

The marine layer

NWS

Most of the fires are inland but the prevailing wind flow is blowing smoke towards the Bay Area (see below). Smoke, a type of aerosol particle, moves up and over the marine layer and if the winds are weaker in an area, it literally may sit on top of this stable, moist air marine layer that drifted in from the Pacific Ocean. This tendency also explains why many residents at the surface do not actually smell smoke. It is on the top of the air mass. However, if the marine layer deteriorates, the ash can settle to the surface and cause air quality to significantly degrade.

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Uber Commits $800 Million For Drivers To Buy EVs To Meet Zero-Emissions Mobility Goal

An electric BMW I3 at a charging station.

dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Rideshare giant Uber UBER is committing $800 million over the next five years to help its drivers switch from gasoline to electric vehicles by 2025 and promises to become a zero-emissions mobility platform in the decades to come.

In addition to the vehicle purchase assistance, which applies to drivers in the U.S., Canada and Europe, the company also plans to pay higher rates per trip to drivers who use battery-electric cars and hybrids and is arranging for discounted charging rates with major EV charging networks in the U.S. and Europe. The company says its goal is for all rides taken using its platform to be zero-emission by 2040.

“We're committing to work with cities to build back better together, tackle the climate crisis more aggressively than ever before,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a conference call Monday. “As our communities recover from COVID-19, we can rebuild them for people, not cars, we can add more green spaces and fewer parking spaces. We can envision a world where there are fewer fires, engulfing our homes, fewer hurricanes, displacing our neighbors, fewer natural disasters and cleaner air for everybody.”

The company’s program comes as it and rival rideshare operator Lyft LYFT draw more scrutiny for the impact the services have on local air pollution and congestion. In June, Lyft said it wanted all vehicles on its network to be electric by 2030, though at the time didn’t detail how much it planned to spend to make that happen. Uber’s program goes beyond EVs to include new initiatives to work with local transit agencies and expand micromobility options, including shared scooters and bikes.

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Nikola Surges As GM Takes Stake In Hydrogen Truckmaker, Partners On Electric Pickup

Nikola's Badger pickup is intended to use both hydrogen fuel cells and batteries for power.

Nikola Motor

General Motor GM s and Nikola are forming a broad alliance on advanced vehicle technology, with the largest U.S. automaker partnering with the hydrogen truck startup to produce its electric pickup and providing battery and fuel cell. GM is also taking an 11% stake in Nikola, whose shares jumped 41% on the news. 

Under the 10-year deal, Nikola will use GM’s new Ultium lithium-ion battery system and its Hydrotec fuel cells, their first commercial application. GM will also “engineer, homologate, validate and manufacture” the Nikola-designed Badger pickup, which is powered by batteries and fuel cells, the companies said. In exchange, GM is getting $2 billion of newly issued Nikola stock and will be able to appoint one member of the Phoenix-based company’s board. 

“This is the biggest announcement we have,” Nikola founder and CEO Trevor Milton (No. 249 on the Forbes 400 for 2020 list) said in a conference call. “This will allow Nikola to achieve things Nikola could never do on its own. ... I could not be more excited about this announcement today.”

The announcement is a significant boost for Nikola, which faces considerable financial and technological challenges to get its zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles into production. For GM, the company gets more scale for its batteries and an opportunity to commercialize fuel cell technology it’s been developing for decades. Unlike Elon Musk’s Tesla TSLA , which attempts to keep its tech and production development inhouse, Nikola founder Trevor Milton has pursued broad partnerships to get up and running, with companies including Bosch, commercial vehicle maker Iveco, Meritor, Nel Hydrogen and South Korean solar panel maker Hanwha.

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Green Energy Is Not Among The Culprits Behind California’s Energy Crisis

ASSOCIATED PRESS

As thermometers in Southern California are soaring past 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperatures are also rising among the state’s regulators, grid operators and utility customers, who are enduring rolling blackouts for the first time since the 2001 energy crisis. What now?

Fingers are pointing in all directions — from a dependence on fossil fuels to an over-reliance on green energy, to mismanagement. For California, the overarching issue is to battle climate change and to do so using clean, inexpensive fuels. But the beef against green energy is that it is intermittent, making it harder for system operators to plan and to meet demand while customers are cranking up their air conditioners.

“California has always been the canary in the coal mine for climate change, and this weekend’s events only underscore that reality,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Wildfires have caused system failures, while near-record energy demand is predicted as a multi-state heatwave hits the West Coast for the second time in a matter of weeks.”

The governor is asking commercial and industrial customers to shift their energy patterns — to consume power during off-peak times. He is also asking homeowners to do the same with regard to the use of large appliances such as washers and dryers.

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