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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Warlike: Prince Charles Calls For “Marshall Plan” To Fight Climate Change

Fighting words: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, used his opening speech at Climate Week NYC to ... [+] call for a "military-style campaign" to combat climate change.

Getty Images

The climate crisis will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and world governments must adopt a “warlike footing” if humanity is to avoid “an ultimate reckoning for our abuse of nature,” the Prince of Wales has warned.

“The borderless climate, biodiversity and health crises are all symptoms of a planet that has been pushed beyond its planetary boundaries,” the prince said in remarks for the opening of the Climate Week NYC summit today. “Without swift and immediate action at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to reset for a green-blue recovery and a more sustainable and inclusive future.”

The first in line to the British throne and a veteran environmental campaigner, the prince said climate change was now a “comprehensive catastrophe” that required a “Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet.”

Singling out the melting of permafrost in Siberia and the burning of large areas of the Pantanal region in Brazil as pivotal climate events, the prince warned there would be an “ultimate reckoning for our abuse of nature.”

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Warlike: Prince Charles Calls For “Marshall Plan” To Fight Climate Change

Fighting words: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, used his opening speech at Climate Week NYC to ... [+] call for a "military-style campaign" to combat climate change.

Getty Images

The climate crisis will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and world governments must adopt a “warlike footing” if humanity is to avoid “an ultimate reckoning for our abuse of nature,” the Prince of Wales has warned.

“The borderless climate, biodiversity and health crises are all symptoms of a planet that has been pushed beyond its planetary boundaries,” the prince said in remarks for the opening of the Climate Week NYC summit today. “Without swift and immediate action at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to reset for a green-blue recovery and a more sustainable and inclusive future.”

The first in line to the British throne and a veteran environmental campaigner, the prince said climate change was now a “comprehensive catastrophe” that required a “Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet.”

Singling out the melting of permafrost in Siberia and the burning of large areas of the Pantanal region in Brazil as pivotal climate events, the prince warned there would be an “ultimate reckoning for our abuse of nature.”

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We Need To Bring Forward The Ban On Internal Combustion Engines

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The United Kingdom, which had originally set a ban on the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles — diesel, gasoline and hybrids — for 2040, took the decision in February to bring the ban forward by five years to 2035, only to find its advisors on the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) demanding that to be effective, the ban should be brought forward to 2032. Now, according to sources in The Guardian, that ban could be advanced to 2030, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of a stimulus package to develop a more sustainable economy.

The idea is that from 2030, the only new vehicles on sale in the UK will be electric, either battery or hydrogen fuel cell powered. To this end, incentives of up to £6,000 ($7,687) are planned to trade in an internal combustion vehicle for an electric one, as well as the development of an extensive charging network — even McDonald’s is signing up — and other measures, such as a ban on advertising for highly polluting SUVs.

The reality is that the rollout of clean energy in the United Kingdom is advancing rapidly: the substantial increase in solar and wind power was able to supply 47% of total generating needs in the first quarter of 2020, and costing between 30% and 50% less than the government had initially estimated. British oil company BP plans to reduce its oil and gas production by 40% by 2030 through investment and acquisitions in renewables, and to position itself as one of the world’s most important suppliers of clean energy. In fact, the company predicts a bleak future for the oil industry as a whole, foreseeing that half of the world’s proven oil reserves, 1.7 trillion barrels, will not be extracted because they will never be needed, and as such they are already negative assets.

If the United Kingdom confirms its intention to bring forward the ban on the sale of internal combustion vehicles to 2030, it will join a select group of developed economies including Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway, which plans to ban them in 2025, given that more than half of new vehicle sales in the country have been electric for some time now. Other countries, such as France and Spain, are still aiming for 2040, which is good news for carmakers that have already been forced to change their strategy since it was originally set, but which reflects a failure to commit to serious environmental policies

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Rich People Are Bad For The Planet Studies Show

© 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP

The richest 1% of people in the world create more than double the carbon emissions of the poorest, says a new report which calls for taxes targeting excessive luxury.

Studying the quarter century from 1990 to 2015, Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute found that the richest 1% were responsible for 15% of emissions. The poorest half accounted for 7%.

Travel was the biggest culprit. In the E.U. "air travel" of the 1% accounted for nearly half of all their emissions. "Land travel" was next, followed by housing.

The richer you are the more you travel, and the more you travel privately. While the affluent drive their own cars and take holidays abroad, the even more flush buy mega-polluters like private jets and superyachts (which burn an average of 500 litres (110 gallons) of fuel an hour). Meanwhile poorer people mostly travel on public transport if at all.

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Daniel Yergin’s ‘New Map’ Explains Why South China Sea Is A Flashpoint

Map of the South China Sea, with the Nine-Dash Line highlighted in green. The South China Sea is the ... [+] world's most-contested waterway.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Wikimedia

Book reviews are the literary equivalent of visiting a buffet line that features 30 different dishes, but only being allowed to fill one small soup bowl, with no second helpings. There’s no good way to reduce a 200-, 300-, or 400-page book down to 800 or 1,000 words and do it justice. For that reason, rather than try to condense all of Daniel Yergin’s new (430-page!) book The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations into a single soup bowl, I will heartily recommend the book for its focus on a single topic: the South China Sea. 

Yergin does a better job of explaining the history and importance of the South China Sea than anything I’ve read and he does so by tracing it to a map drawn 84 years ago by a “cartographic combatant."

Yergin’s multi-chapter focus on the “world’s most critical waterway” makes sense because the South China Sea is in the news almost every day. Last week, China accused the U.S. of disguising the identity of military aircraft it operates over the disputed waterway. The South China Morning Post reported that U.S. Air Force planes are, according to a Chinese official, impersonating “the transponder code of civilian aircraft from other countries.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also said, “We urge the US to immediately stop such dangerous provocations, to avoid accidents from happening in the sea and air.” 

The same story notes that last month, a U.S. surveillance plane flew through a declared no-fly zone while the Chinese military was conducting exercises in the Yellow Sea. That flight led to a protest from China’s defense ministry.

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Why China Is Suddenly Buying Record Amounts Of American Crude Oil

Chinese oil tanker unloading in July.

VCG via Getty Images

Relations between the United States and China may be near all-time lows, but the trading of energy commodities between the two powers remains active—at least for crude oil. Indeed, China’s imports of U.S. crude are expected reach a new high of about 900,000 barrels a day this month. According to Chinese customs data, China’s imports of US crude oil spiked to a record high of 867,000 barrels a day in July, up from 143,000 barrels a day in June. U.S. crude started arriving in May after Chinese buyers received waivers from Beijing of the 5 percent tariff, and oil prices plunged—recall that U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped into negative territory in late April.

China needs continued access to the United States as an export market for its manufacturing. But to ensure this economic lifeline remains open, Beijing must make good on its pledge under the phase one trade deal signed with President Trump in January.

America's oil and gas sector may have suffered under many of President Donald Trump’s harsh trade policies, particularly the trade war that resulted in tariffs on Chinese imports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG). But China’s recent increase in its appetite for U.S. energy in the run-up to the November elections is a sign that the Trump administration’s pressure on Beijing is paying dividends. 

The easiest way for China to reduce its trade imbalance with the United States and get near its phase one energy target is to buy large volumes of U.S. crude, which increase the dollar value of Chinese imports in ways that other U.S. energy products cannot.

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Plugging Abandoned Oil Wells Is One ‘Green New Deal’ Aspect Loved By Both Republicans And Democrats

Kern County, California has thousands of 'mature' oil wells.

Getty Images

Few climate proposals have been politicized more than the Green New Deal, although it is essentially a jobs program intended to put people to work fighting climate change – regardless of their political affiliation. But as oil and gas jobs have shriveled up amid the COVID-19 recession, a green jobs proposal has become incredibly popular among Republicans and Democrats: plugging abandoned oil and gas wells.

More than 100 years of drilling have left 3 million abandoned oil and gas wells across the United States, and more than 2 million of them are “unplugged” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Far from mere eyesores or local environmental hazards, these abandoned wells gush millions of metric tons of methane – 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year timeline – and plugging the wells can cut these emissions 99%.

Several Republican-led states have created programs to cap abandoned wells, putting laid-off oil and gas employees back to work, and a federal program to tackle the problem could create hundreds of thousands of jobs that slow climate change while preventing carcinogen leakage into local communities. This concept is part of Joe Biden’s campaign platform, was included in an infrastructure bill passed by the House of Representatives in July, and is being pushed by a coalition of 31 U.S. oil-producing states.

EDMOND, OK - FEBRUARY 20: The sun sets behind an old oil well February 20, 2016 in Edmond, Oklahoma. ... [+] The state is now the earthquake capital of the world and the quakes are believed to be caused by oil field waste water injections into the earth. In 1993, the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board began to restore abandoned oil well sites. Since the program's inception more than $90 million has been spent to restore more than 14,500 abandoned well sites. Officials report the old wells have leaked oil, natural gas and brine into the soil. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

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Airbus reveals plans for zero-emission aircraft fuelled by hydrogen

Airbus has announced plans for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft models that run on hydrogen and could take to the skies by 2035.

The European aersospace company revealed three different aircraft concepts that would be put through their paces to find the most efficient way to travel long distances by plane without producing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global heating.

UK holidaymakers and business travellers could fly from London to the Canary Islands, Athens or eastern Europe without producing carbon emissions, should the plans become a commercial reality.

Guillaume Faury, the Airbus chief executive, said the “historic moment for the commercial aviation sector” marks the “most important transition this industry has ever seen”.

“The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight. I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen – both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft – has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact,” he said.

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UK plan to use all-male team to host UN climate summit angers observers

The UK is fielding an all-male team to host a vital UN climate summit next year, flouting international norms and angering activists and observers, who say the lack of gender balance imperils progress on key issues.

All of the politicians who will host the Cop26 talks for the UK in Glasgow are men, from the business secretary Alok Sharma, who will act as president of the summit, to his team of climate and energy ministers – Lord Callanan, Zac Goldsmith and Kwasi Kwarteng – who have represented the UK in recent online meetings.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, will also take prominent roles in the conference, set for November 2021 after it was postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis. At Cop26, countries must come up with strengthened commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, if the goals of the landmark Paris agreement of 2015 are to be fulfilled.

The former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney leads on finance issues as UN envoy, and Nigel Topping, the government’s high-level climate action champion, is charged with bringing businesses onboard.

The leading negotiators and civil servants also form an all-male lineup, including the chair of the talks, Peter Hill, the lead negotiator, Archie Young, the envoy John Murton, and the Foreign Office official Nick Bridge.

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Five ways to make the climate movement less white

Family stories about tedious days out picking vegetables or managing herds of cattle always left me with a sense of pride. As the granddaughter of Colorado ranchers and farmworkers, I have a great appreciation for the hard labor involved in food production and agriculture – and the ways it connects my family to the natural world.

My family has already been deeply impacted by climate change and their experiences mirror countless other agricultural workers across the US. Yet so many young people who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) are poorly represented in environmental decision-making. I myself have sometimes felt like there were only certain ways to participate in environmental activism, that not only excluded me, but also devalued my lived experience.

As part of the team of first-time voters who are guest editing the Guardian’s climate coverage today, we want to highlight ways to build a more inclusive environmental movement, and we’ve interviewed five experts below.

One reason it’s so important to include BIPOC communities in the conversation is that we have unique solutions, drawn from centuries of working the land. Acequias, for example are communally managed systems of ditches used in the American south-west to irrigate fields – and offset water scarcity caused by the climate crisis. – Sofia Romero Campbell

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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Joe Biden Shifts To A Realistic Fracking Stance

MOOSIC, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden ... [+] participates in a CNN town hall event on September 17, 2020 in Moosic, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Getty Images

I have always viewed politicians that promise to ban hydraulic fracturing — commonly known as “fracking” — with some level of suspicion. In fact, a year ago as candidates were making these promises I explained Why A Ban On Fracking Will Never Happen.

Those promises have always signaled one of three things to me.

The Significance of Fracking

First, the candidate may not understand the significance of fracking to U.S. oil and gas production. So let’s review that significance.

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Why Coal Country Now Says Climate Change Is A Threat And What It Plans To Do About It

The NRG Energy Inc. WA Parish generating station stands in Thompsons, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. ... [+] 16, 2017. The plant is home to the Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project, a joint venture between NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp., which reportedly captures and repurposes more than 90% of its own Co2 emissions. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

© 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP

When a conservative congressman from a coal-producing state says that climate change is the biggest challenge of our lives, it grabs your attention. That this Republican congressman had paired up with a West Coast Democrat counterpart in something resembling bipartisan cooperation on climate change legislation, is even more striking. Does it raise the odds of something actually getting done?

The approach presented in a new “discussion draft” of the presumptive McKinley-Schrader bill is both collaborative and all-inclusive. Reps David McKinley of West Virginia and Kurt Shrader of Oregon aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. The key tenet: investing in research and development — efforts that promote clean technologies and an advanced electric grid that can host more green energies.

What’s in it for coal? Coal country is coming to grips with the fact that coal’s power has waned and that its survival depends on carbon capture and sequestration. While the use of coal is quickly withering among developed countries, it is still expected to make up at least 30% of the global energy pie going forward, says the World Coal Association.

Environmentalists would no doubt prefer to spend national treasure developing wind and solar power. But if the coal and natural gas sectors do not meet hard targets within a decade, then tougher regulations would be enacted. The pressure is thus on those industries to cut their CO2 emissions.

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Nature Dying By A Thousand Cuts

The density of humans across the globe has become quite high. Feeding billions of humans is forcing ... [+] out all other animals. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Lars Curfs

Let’s face it. Nature is losing. The wild places of the world are disappearing, and will continue to disappear, until they are no more. I used to think I’d be dead long before it was all gone, but I don’t think that anymore.

According to the biennial report, Living Planet Report 2020 published by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles fell by two-thirds (68%) between 1970 and 2016.

Just two years ago, that number was only 60%. In some areas, like the Western Hemisphere’s tropics, they have declined by 94%.

The report followed 20,811 populations of 4,392 vertebrate species, including high-profile threatened animals such as polar bears but more of the lesser known animals and fish. In all regions of the world, vertebrate wildlife populations are collapsing and nature is being destroyed by humans on a scale like never before.

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This Award-Winning Device Can Massively Reduce Pollution From Car Tires

Sketches exploring different embodiments of our technology.

THE JAMES DYSON FOUNDATION

The annual award scheme run by the James Dyson Foundation announced the UK national winners of 2020 edition on Thursday. The Tyre Collective will receive £2,000 in prize money to develop a tool that reduces pollution by capturing tires’ particles.

The device invented by the team is fitted to the wheel and uses electrostatics to collect up to 60% of all particles, which, once captured, can be recycled for new tires or used for other applications like 3D printing and soundproofing.

Every time a vehicle moves, micro-plastic from tires is released - small enough to account for up to 50% of PM2.5 pollution from road transport and 10% of all PM2.5 by 2030.

According to a recent research from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, over 200,000 tons of micro-plastic from tires end up in oceans and other remote areas of the world each year. “Roads are a very significant source of micro-plastic to remote areas, including the oceans,” lead researchers Andreas Stohl told The Guardian.

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We Can Make 2019 The Year Oil Demand Peaked

Los Angeles City Freeway Traffic At Sunset

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The collapse of world oil prices in recent months presents government officials with an important decision: Follow the conventional path of bailing out the oil industry or accept the inevitable decline of oil demand driven currently by COVID-19, and over the longer-term by climate policy, and invest in shifting jobs and economic growth towards renewable energy and zero emission vehicles.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and sparked a worldwide recession. But the lockdowns have also given us a glimpse of what our future world could look like — a world with less pollution and one where an insolvent oil industry need not be a drag on the taxpayer. That world is within reach. We can move beyond oil to clean energy by pushing our governments to embrace stronger regulations to increase the share of electric vehicles on the roads.

We don’t need to shut our economy down in order to achieve blue skies. Strengthening some simple, tried and true policy tools can increase deployment of electric passenger and freight vehicles, eliminate tailpipe pollution, save a massive amount of money, and boost jobs and grow the economy. And in turn, this will reduce global carbon emissions and help to avoid climate chaos.

While the pandemic revealed how quickly we can get blue skies back, it also revealed that the oil industry is teetering on the brink of financial failure — and was doing so even before all this started. In fact, 90% of US shale oil companies were unprofitable in 2019, well before the pandemic. And when COVID ushered in a 30 percent collapse in oil demand earlier this year, oil prices actually went into negative territory — so low that oil producers were actually paying to get rid of their oil.

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Tesla Cofounder’s Battery Recycling Startup Wins Investment From Amazon Climate Fund

Amazon is investing an undisclosed amount into startup battery recycler Redwood Materials.

getty

Redwood Materials, a battery recycling startup created by Tesla’s TSLA former chief technology officer, is among the first companies to win investment from Amazon’s AMZN $2 billion venture fund created to back companies with technology contributing to carbon reduction efforts. 

Amazon said its Climate Pledge Fund, launched in June, is focused on backing companies “building technologies, products and services that will help Amazon and other companies accelerate the path to net-zero carbon.” Neither the retail giant nor Redwood Materials disclosed how much the fund is putting into Redwood City, Nevada-based startup.

“To fight climate change, we need to solve the impact products have on the environment, Redwood cofounder and CEO JB Straubel said. “We’re honored to be part of the Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and to build the closed-loop supply chain that will recycle batteries, electronics and other end of life products for Amazon.”

Straubel, who joined Elon Musk in cofounding Tesla after the two met in 2003, was Tesla’s chief technology officer from its earliest days and was instrumental in helping design the company’s electric motors and other technology. His departure from the electric-car maker came as a surprise announcement by Musk in July 2019 during a quarterly results call. Of Tesla’s five original founders, only Musk still has an active role with the company.

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Storage Leads The Way For Mixed-Asset VPP Models

By: Jessie Mehrhoff

Electricity Pylons at sunset on background

Getty

In 2Q 2020, the US storage market saw its second-largest storage deployment despite economic challenges from the pandemic. Reports show decreases of commercial and industrial deployment storage; however, residential segment growth is increasing from incentives in key states. Utilities will continue to deploy front-of-the-meter storage. Beyond incentive programs, the ability for storage to augment other distributed energy resources (DER), including solar PV and demand response, will add considerable value to this asset and help accelerate market growth. Guidehouse Insights’ new report, Market Data: Mixed-Asset Virtual Power Plant Models, finds that combinations of DER can participate in distribution and wholesale electricity markets, or mixed-asset virtual power plants (VPPs). These combinations will likely drive growth of DER across customer segments. 

A VPP is a system that relies on software and smart grid technologies to remotely and automatically dispatch DER flexibility services to a distribution or wholesale market. VPPs do this via an aggregation and optimization platform. Such platforms help to achieve the greatest possible profits for DER owners while maintaining a proper balance of the electricity grid. They best fulfill this goal by integrating assets that serve a variety of grid services. Given the synergistic benefits of VPPs, Guidehouse Insights finds that the mixed-asset VPP capacity likely comprises 51% of 2020 capacity market share. Mixed-asset VPP capacity is anticipated to scale up to 83% of VPP capacity share by 2029.

Partnerships Drive the Market

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Extinction Rebellion is showing Britain what real democracy could look like | George Monbiot

It’s good entertainment, but that’s all it is. Seeing Boris Johnson ritually dismembered in parliament might make us feel better, but nothing changes. He still has an 80-seat majority, though less than 30% of the electorate voted for the Conservatives. We are reduced, for five long years, to spectators.

Our system allows the victorious government a mandate to do what it likes between elections, without further reference to the people. As we have seen, this can include breaking international law, suspending parliament, curtailing the judiciary, politicising the civil service, attacking the Electoral Commission and invoking royal prerogative powers to make policy without anyone’s consent. This is not democracy, but a parody of democracy.

By contrast to our five-yearly vote, capital can respond to government policy every second, withdrawing its consent with catastrophic consequences if it doesn’t like its drift. There’s a massive imbalance of power here. The voting power of capital, with modern trading technologies, has advanced by leaps and bounds. Electoral power is trapped in the age of the quill pen.

The problem, in other words, is not just Johnson. The problem is the UK’s political system, which presents an open invitation for autocratic behaviour. In the past, people warned that a ruthless operator could make hay with this system. Well, that moment has come.

Labour has long been part of the problem, refusing to contemplate even a change to our preposterous first-past-the-post elections, let alone any wider surrender of power. And it is tragic to watch it now, still playing by the old rules. These state that a party should not show its hand until a few months before the election. That’s four years away, and the power grab is happening now. We urgently need a stirring alternative vision, a call to democratic arms. Instead, we get forensic dissections of particular government policies: admirably done, but unmatched to the moment.

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Welsh seagrass meadow sows hope for global restoration

Seagrass is a wonder plant but unrecognised and sorely neglected. This is a flowering plant with long ribbon-like leaves that often grows in the sea in lush underwater meadows.

It is an unsung hero in the fight to clean up carbon dioxide and the climate emergency. Its credentials are astonishing: it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, stores 10% of the annual ocean carbon storage across the globe and locks up that carbon in sediments that can stay out of harm’s way for millennia.

Seagrass also gives sanctuary to many marine wildlife and provides a nursery for 20% of fish species used by world fisheries. It protects coasts from erosion by absorbing wave energy, produces oxygen and helps clean the sea by absorbing polluting nutrients washed off the land.

Seagrass is in sharp decline across the globe and has almost disappeared from Britain’s coast over the past 100 years, owing to developments of coastlines, pollution in the sea and damage from boats.

But this year a restoration project got under way in Pembrokeshire, planting 1m seagrass seeds on the seabed at Dale Bay to create a 20,000 square-metre meadow.

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