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.

Getty Images

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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Facebook suspends environmental groups despite vow to fight misinformation

Facebook has suspended the accounts of several environmental organizations less than a week after launching an initiative it said would counter a tide of misinformation over climate science on the platform.

Groups such as Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote and Rainforest Action Network were among those blocked from posting or sending messages on Facebook over the weekend. Activists say hundreds of other individual accounts linked to indigenous, climate and social justice groups were also suspended for an alleged “intellectual property rights violation”.

The suspended people and groups were all involved in a Facebook event from May last year that targeted KKR & Co, a US investment firm that is backing the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a 670km-long gas development being built in northern British Columbia, Canada.

The suspensions, the day before another online action aimed at KKR & Co, has enraged activists who oppose the pipeline for its climate impact and for cutting through the land of the Wetʼsuwetʼen, a First Nations people.

“Videos of extreme violence, alt-right views and calls for violence by militias in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are allowed to persist on Facebook,” said Delee Nikal, a Wet’suwet’en community member. “Yet we are banned and receive threats for permanent removal, for posting an online petition.”

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Facebook suspends environmental groups despite vow to fight misinformation

Facebook has suspended the accounts of several environmental organizations less than a week after launching an initiative it said would counter a tide of misinformation over climate science on the platform.

Groups such as Greenpeace USA, Climate Hawks Vote and Rainforest Action Network were among those blocked from posting or sending messages on Facebook over the weekend. Activists say hundreds of other individual accounts linked to indigenous, climate and social justice groups were also suspended for an alleged “intellectual property rights violation”.

The suspended people and groups were all involved in a Facebook event from May last year that targeted KKR & Co, a US investment firm that is backing the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a 670km-long gas development being built in northern British Columbia, Canada.

The suspensions, the day before another online action aimed at KKR & Co, has enraged activists who oppose the pipeline for its climate impact and for cutting through the land of the Wetʼsuwetʼen, a First Nations people.

“Videos of extreme violence, alt-right views and calls for violence by militias in Kenosha, Wisconsin, are allowed to persist on Facebook,” said Delee Nikal, a Wet’suwet’en community member. “Yet we are banned and receive threats for permanent removal, for posting an online petition.”

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'Bonkers': Turnbull criticises Angus Taylor's $18bn bet on emissions technology

Angus Taylor says the Morrison government will develop an emissions reduction target for 2035, but likely not reveal it before the next federal election, and says his working definition of low-emissions technology is “what will move the dial”.

The energy minister on Tuesday launched the first annual statement under the government’s technology roadmap, which is the Coalition’s new policy framework for long-term emissions reduction.

The minister characterised the government’s approach, which prioritises taxpayer investments in particular technologies, with funding of $18bn over a decade, as betting on the future. “The nature of R&D portfolios is that you have to place bets. We’re placing a bet on a portfolio here.”

The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was scathing about the approach of his former colleagues, describing government intervention as a substitute for a market mechanism, and the Coalition’s much-vaunted gas-led recovery, as “crazy” and “mad ideology” and “bonkers”.

Turnbull told the ABC the Liberals did not generally favour market intervention as a policy approach, and he said “a green new deal, renewable-led economic stimulus, would be much more effective than focusing on what is a very expensive fuel in gas”.

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We love... Fashion fixes for the week ahead – in pictures

We love... Fashion fixes for the week ahead – in pictures | Fashion | The Guardian

Original author: Jo Jones and Helen Seamons
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Ron Howard: 'I'm introverted and risk-averse. But not when there's a story to be told'

While some celebrities spent lockdown in their Malibu beach houses or Beverly Hills compounds, Ron Howard – one of the most powerful and prolific men in Hollywood – spent the first two weeks sleeping in his editing office near his home in Connecticut. The image of Howard living in his workplace fits so well with his public image that it sounds almost storyboarded: the hardworking, humble guy who happens to be an Oscar-winning director (of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind; he was also nominated for Frost/Nixon in 2009. His mother thought, rightly, that he should also have been nominated for 1995’s Apollo 13). Yet Howard’s work-based isolation was not just for professional purposes, but personal ones, too: his wife of 45 years, Cheryl, was sick with Covid-19. He needed to isolate from her, but he wanted to stay close by.

“She had it only mildly, thank God, and so did my daughter Paige, but they were real cases. So I lived in the editing room. When Cheryl felt better, the two of us would go on what I called Victorian courting strolls, staying 10ft away from each other and no touching,” Howard says with a chuckle.

We are talking over video chat. Howard, 66, is back in the family home, which, from the little I can see, looks lovely; impressive, but not showy. “Yes, as gilded hamster cages with velvet wheels go, this one’s not bad,” he says. He is wearing one of his signature baseball caps; peeking out is his even more signature red hair, now a little paler than it was when he played Richie Cunningham on Happy Days. Does he mind that annoying people (ie me) still bring up the show, 45 years after it first screened?

Anson Williams, Don Most, Henry Winkler and Ron Howard in Happy Days, which Howard starred in from 1974 to 1980. Photograph: Alamy

“Not any more!” he replies in his affable chatty way. “There was a time when I felt a little threatened by that. But, in recent years, I’ve come to appreciate my unique place in pop culture.”

He has carved out this place at least partly through his workaholism. If Steven Spielberg is the father of modern mainstream US cinema, Howard is its beloved uncle. Between his directing career – which spans 80s comedies (Splash, Cocoon, Parenthood), 90s dramas (Backdraft, Apollo 13) and blockbusters (The Da Vinci Code, Solo: A Star Wars Story) – his production company, Imagine Entertainment (8 Mile, My Girl, Bowfinger), and his lifelong acting career (The Music Man, Happy Days, Arrested Development), Howard’s IMDb page rivals in length the works of Dickens. He has said he needs only four days’ rest after finishing a film before he is ready to start the next. So how did he cope with a six-month lockdown?

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Morrison's rejection of 2050 net zero emissions target is at odds with Paris agreement, experts say

The Morrison government’s rejection of a net zero emissions target for 2050 is at odds with the Paris agreement and more than 100 countries that have backed the goal, according to some of Australia’s most experienced climate experts.

Scott Morrison told the ABC on Sunday that the government’s position was to reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions “in the second half of the century, and we’ll certainly achieve that”.

Asked why he would not commit to the 2050 goal, which has been backed by business, farming, union and environment groups and every state and territory, the prime minister said “because I’m more interested in the doing”.

Erwin Jackson, policy director at the Investor Group on Climate Change and an observer at international climate conferences since the 1990s, said it was “very clear” that by ratifying the Paris agreement Australia had agreed global heating should be limited to between 1.5C and 2C above pre-industrial levels, and commitments should be informed by the latest science.

He said countries in Paris including Australia had specifically asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to examine what 1.5C of heating would mean, and what needed to be done to avoid it.

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Norway To Build $3 Billion ‘Longship’ Carbon Dioxide Capture Project

The project intends to suck carbon dioxide out of the air.

AFP via Getty Images

The Norwegian government has presented a major funding proposal to enable the large-scale implementation of carbon capture, transport and storage (CCS) technologies in Norway. Public funding of around $1.8 billion will contribute to the overall cost expected to be in the region of $2.7 billion.

Named 'Longship', the funding package will see the implementation of the first full-scale CCS project in the world. It follows decades of research and pilot projects and marks a major step forward for this critical climate mitigation technology for Norway, Europe and the world.

The only option for some high-emission industries

CCS is a series of technologies that can remove harmful CO2 emissions from industries that are otherwise difficult to decarbonize, such as cement and steel manufacturing, but also applies to heat and power, clean hydrogen and carbon dioxide removal systems.

Leadership at the European Commission have said that to meet the challenging climate goals of the Paris Agreement, such sectors need the continued development of carbon capture and storage. If we are to meet those challenging targets, IEA modeling shows that as much as 14% of cumulative emissions reductions must come from CCS.

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Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Resigns After Short-Seller’s Fraud Accusations

Nikola founder Trevor Milton at the groundbreaking for the company's factory in Coolidge, Arizona, ... [+] in July.

Nikola Motor

Trevor Milton, the founder of upstart hydrogen truckmaker Nikola Corp., has resigned as executive chairman and from its board in the wake of allegations by an analyst with a short position in the company’s stock who had accused him of misrepresenting its technology and capabilities prior to going public. Board member Steve Girsky, a former General Motors vice chairman, replaces him as chairman.

“I asked the Board of Directors to let me step aside from my roles as Executive Chairman and a member of the Nikola Board of Directors,” Milton tweeted late Sept. 20. “The focus should be on the Company and its world-changing mission, not me. I intend to defend myself against false allegations leveled against me by outside detractors.”

Nikola “is in amazing hands and the executive team is well-equipped to lead the Company into the future,” he said. The brash, 38-year-old entrepreneur is Phoenix-based Nikola’s largest shareholder with a stake of more than 20% that Forbes estimates is worth $2.7 billion as of Sept. 21. (Trucking industry news site Freightwaves broke the news of Milton’s departure, citing people close to the matter who weren’t identified.)

The news led Nikola shares to plunge nearly 30% at the start of Nasdaq trading. They fell 19% to close at $27.58.

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Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Resigns After Short-Seller’s Fraud Accusations

Nikola founder Trevor Milton at the groundbreaking for the company's factory in Coolidge, Arizona, ... [+] in July.

Nikola Motor

Trevor Milton, the founder of upstart hydrogen truckmaker Nikola Corp., has resigned as executive chairman and from its board in the wake of allegations by an analyst with a short position in the company’s stock who had accused him of misrepresenting its technology and capabilities prior to going public. Board member Steve Girsky, a former General Motors vice chairman, replaces him as chairman.

“I asked the Board of Directors to let me step aside from my roles as Executive Chairman and a member of the Nikola Board of Directors,” Milton tweeted late Sept. 20. “The focus should be on the Company and its world-changing mission, not me. I intend to defend myself against false allegations leveled against me by outside detractors.”

Nikola “is in amazing hands and the executive team is well-equipped to lead the Company into the future,” he said. The brash, 38-year-old entrepreneur is Phoenix-based Nikola’s largest shareholder with a stake of more than 20% that Forbes estimates is worth $2.7 billion as of Sept. 21. (Trucking industry news site Freightwaves broke the news of Milton’s departure, citing people close to the matter who weren’t identified.)

The news led Nikola shares to plunge nearly 30% at the start of Nasdaq trading. They fell 19% to close at $27.58.

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Rising temperatures shrink Arctic sea ice to second-lowest level on record

Rising temperatures in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean this year to its second-lowest extent in four decades, scientists have announced, in yet another sign of how the climate crisis is rapidly transforming the region.

Satellites recorded this year’s sea ice minimum at 3.74m sq km on 15 September, only the second time the ice has been measured below 4m sq km in 40 years of record keeping, said researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

“It’s fairly devastating that we’ve had such consistently low sea ice. But unfortunately, it’s not surprising,” said Twila Moon, a glaciologist at the research center in Boulder, Colorado.

The record low of 3.41m sq km, reached in 2012 after a late-season cyclonic storm broke up the remaining ice, is not much below what researchers see today.

This year’s decline was especially fast between 31 August and 5 September, thanks to pulses of warm air coming off a heatwave in Siberia, according to the NSIDC. The rate of ice loss during those six days was faster than during any other year on record. Another team of scientists found in July that the Siberian heatwave would have been all but impossible without human-caused climate change.

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Nikola’s Troubles Raise Questions For Tesla And Elon Musk On Battery Day

The stock price of Nikola Corporation, the electric truck company, dropped hard in early trading on Monday morning. While Tesla TSLA is established as the world’s most famous and valuable electric vehicle (EV) company, unlike Nikola, it naturally draws comparisons. In fact, the recent Nikola news raises a couple vital questions for Tesla and its outspoken CEO, Elon Musk, about their batteries. We’ll be waiting see if they answer those questions tomorrow at the company’s Battery Day and annual meeting. 

Signage is displayed outside Nikola Corp. headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. ... [+] 15, 2020. Nikola Corp. shares fell as much as 10.4%, resuming its decline as investors reacted to word of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into allegations it deceived investors about its prospects. Photographer: Ash Ponders/Bloomberg

© 2020 Bloomberg Finance LP

Problems with Nikola started to appear when short-selling firm Hindenburg Research issued a report a week and a half ago that questioned whether Nikola has any significant priority technology behind its plans to build electric trucks and whether the company misled investors. The SEC then began looking into the matter. Back in the spring, the company went public through a reverse merger, and in the summer, it announced a partnership deal with GM which sent stock prices rising (but also exposed that GM would build the batteries for the supposed-EV company). Early this morning, Nikola’s founder and executive chairman, Trevor Milton, resigned. 

Tesla is much older and an established company. It was started in 2003, more than 17 years ago. Tesla delivered 367,656 cars in 2019, whereas Nikola does not yet have a product. If you search for patents assigned to “Tesla” at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you get 565 results, and if you search for patents assigned to “Tesla” with “battery” in the title, you get 126 results (as of the morning of September 21, 2020). Clearly Tesla is a real company with real products, real revenues and protected intellectual property. 

Investors should not see the two companies as the same. For all of the criticism Elon Musk and Tesla get—legitimate and not—they have a real company. Tesla does not regularly turn a profit, and its market cap is probably far outsized for the value it has actually earned. However, Tesla cars and SUVs are driving around on the streets, and its fans love the vehicles. 

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Israel fish deaths linked to rapid warming of seas

High temperatures and the persistent warming of oceans have triggered profound changes in marine ecosystems, but a new study suggests that the rate of onset of warming – rather than the peak – could also play a key role in the damage fuelled by climate change.

In early July 2017, researchers were drawn to the coast of Eilat, Israel, following sightings of fish carcasses, a rare occurrence in the region’s coral reefs.

“The fish were absolutely fresh … their gills were still red,” said the lead author, Amatzia Genin of the Interuniversity Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat.

Soon after, a citizen-science campaign was initiated and by early September, 427 carcasses belonging to at least 42 species were collected. Necropsies were performed on 14 freshly dead and moribund fish from eight different species. In 13 cases, severe infection directly caused by a pathogenic bacterium, Streptococcus iniae, was observed.

Although this pathogen is ubiquitous in fish in warm waters, a healthy immune system usually prevents debilitating infections. So, what caused the mass casualties?

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Israel fish deaths linked to rapid warming of seas

High temperatures and the persistent warming of oceans have triggered profound changes in marine ecosystems, but a new study suggests that the rate of onset of warming – rather than the peak – could also play a key role in the damage fuelled by climate change.

In early July 2017, researchers were drawn to the coast of Eilat, Israel, following sightings of fish carcasses, a rare occurrence in the region’s coral reefs.

“The fish were absolutely fresh … their gills were still red,” said the lead author, Amatzia Genin of the Interuniversity Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat.

Soon after, a citizen-science campaign was initiated and by early September, 427 carcasses belonging to at least 42 species were collected. Necropsies were performed on 14 freshly dead and moribund fish from eight different species. In 13 cases, severe infection directly caused by a pathogenic bacterium, Streptococcus iniae, was observed.

Although this pathogen is ubiquitous in fish in warm waters, a healthy immune system usually prevents debilitating infections. So, what caused the mass casualties?

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Prince Charles calls for 'Marshall-like plan' to combat climate crisis

Prince Charles has called for the world to put itself on a “warlike footing” to tackle the “comprehensive catastrophe” caused by the climate crisis and the loss of nature.

The threat posed by global heating and the degradation of biodiversity will “dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic”, the Prince of Wales said.

“At this late stage I can see no other way forward but to call for a Marshall-like plan for nature, people and the planet,” he added, in reference to the massive US-backed programme to rebuild a shattered Europe after the second world war.

“We must now put ourselves on a warlike footing, approaching our action from the perspective of a military-style campaign,” said Charles, warning that the world had been “pushed beyond its planetary boundaries”, only for the crisis to long be “decried, denigrated and denied” by those in power.

The heir to the British throne called upon business leaders and governments to articulate clear strategies to eliminate planet-heating emissions, remove “perverse” subsidies from polluting industries and restore the natural world.

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A Google Chrome Extension Removed Over 100 Tons Of Marine Plastics

OCG's cleanup crews.

Ocean Cleanup Group

Ocean Cleanup Group (OCG) built a search engine that helps clean the ocean. Founded in December 2019, the non-profit organization is committed to saving the coasts and marine lives from plastic pollution.

The extension works like Google GOOGL and, the more a user searches, the more relevant ads are shown. The difference is that OCG ends up getting a portion of the price that the advertiser is paying and uses the money to fund cleanup operations.

The project was born out of the idea to “help everyone make a difference from their homes.” The two founders Mike Powell and Jon Chambers wanted to create something that could encourage people “to make a change wherever and whenever they are.”

“While traveling, I was shocked at the extent of plastic waste in some countries, you hear and see news about it all the time, but seeing and witnessing it firsthand really brought something to life in me,” Powell told Forbes.com.

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