LA and the World Economic Forum present blueprint for global UAM adoption

Drone view of downtown Los Angeles or LA skyline with skyscrapers and freeway traffic below.

Clean, safe and inclusive urban air mobility closer to becoming a reality with new partnership

The City of Los Angeles and the World Economic Forum have released a pioneering report that presents a roadmap for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Principles of the Urban Sky advocates a principles-based policy-making framework for the rollout of UAM that protects the public interest to benefit the many rather than just the few.

UAM is an emerging mode of next generation aviation technology that is better suited for urban transport. With vertical takeoff and landing configurations, improvements in energy sources, and improved connectivity, it looks towards piloted or autonomous flights of people and the movement of goods in city centres, suburban and edge of town conurbations.

The report identifies seven principles critical for a scalable UAM policy framework. These include safety, sustainability, equity of access for disadvantaged communities, low-noise, multi-modal connectivity for seamless travel, local workforce development for new air and ground level jobs, and purpose-driven data sharing to respond to the needs of the market.

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NYC’s newest proposed building would be the city’s tallest – and will act as a carbon emissions filter

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The 2,400-foot-tall building would change New York’s skyline forever.

Paris-based studio Rescubika just released a proposal for a new building in New York City that would both make a mark architecturally and environmentally. The 2,400-foot-tall tower would actually trap carbon emissions, reducing the carbon in the atmosphere.

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Researchers reveal a much richer picture of the past with new DNA recovery technique

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A shot of the Klondike region in the Yukon, where the permafrost samples containing sediment DNA, were collected.

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a new technique to tease ancient DNA from soil, pulling the genomes of hundreds of animals and thousands of plants—many of them long extinct—from less than a gram of sediment.

The DNA extraction method, outlined in the journal Quarternary Research, allows scientists to reconstruct the most advanced picture ever of environments that existed thousands of years ago.

The researchers analyzed permafrost samples from four sites in the Yukon, each representing different points in the Pleistocene-Halocene transition, which occurred approximately 11,000 years ago.

This transition featured the extinction of a large number of animal species such as mammoths, mastodons and ground sloths, and the new process has yielded some surprising new information about the way events unfolded, say the researchers. They suggest, for example, that the woolly mammoth survived far longer than originally believed.

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World wildlife plummets more than two-thirds in 50 years: index

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Graphic outlining the environmental degredation of the oceans caused by human activity.

Global animal, bird and fish populations have plummeted more than two-thirds in less than 50 years due to rampant over-consumption, experts said Thursday in a stark warning to save nature in order to save ourselves.

Human activity has severely degraded three quarters of all land and 40 percent of Earth’s oceans, and our quickening destruction of nature is likely to have untold consequences on our health and livelihoods.

The Living Planet Index, which tracks more than 4,000 species of vertebrates, warned that increasing deforestation and agricultural expansion were the key drivers behind a 68 percent average decline in populations between 1970 and 2016.

It warned that continued natural habitat loss increased the risk of future pandemics as humans expand their presence into ever closer contact with wild animals.

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Alphabet’s Loon balloons are helping scientists study gravity waves

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The research could lead to better models for predicting the weather.

 In between beaming internet to people in developing countries and sometimes passing for UFOs, Alphabet’s Loon balloons have been busy helping scientists study how our planet works. A team led by Stanford professor Aditi Sheshadri recently published a report on gravity waves, ripples created by gravity when it pushes down on air forced up into the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

To compile their report, professor Sheshadri and her team used data that Alphabet’s Loon balloons collected over 6,811 separate 48-hour periods between 2014 and 2018. “This was just a very lucky thing because they weren’t collecting data for any scientific mission. But, incidentally, they happened to be measuring position and temperature and pressure,” the researcher told Stanford News.

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New autonomous sustainable robots could mine the deep sea

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Pliant Energy Systems says its C-Ray robot could be used as a less invasive ocean mining tool.

Mining companies are ready to tackle two new frontiers like never before: space and the deep sea.

The deep ocean is a place that’s not only rich in sea life, vast swathes of it are also abundant in metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, zinc, which are essential to making smartphones, electric vehicles, and solar panel parts.

The problem is that marine scientists and environmentalists strongly oppose the invasive methods proposed by these mining companies as they might irreversibly damage fragile ecosystems. Renewable energy firm Pliant Energy Systems thinks it has the solution to this problem.

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EGEB: Germany builds the world’s first hydrogen train filling station

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 Hydrogen trains in Germany

Germany breaks ground on the world’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains.

The town of Bremervörde in Lower Saxony, Germany, has broken ground on the world’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains. Chemical company Linde will construct and operate the hydrogen filling station for the Lower Saxony Regional Transport Company.

The station has a daily capacity of approximately 1,600kg of hydrogen, and it will replace the current mobile filling station, according to Railway Technology.

Construction is expected to start in September, and the station’s completion is planned for mid-2021.

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Tesla rival Nikola scores deal to make thousands of 1,000-horsepower electric garbage trucks

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If Nikola (NKLA) founder Trevor Milton has his way, the garbage trucks emitting black smoke that troll the streets will eventually be a thing of the past.

 Milton and his team at Nikola took a giant step in that mission on Monday.

The upstart electric- and hydrogen-powered truck maker announced a deal with waste management giant Republic Services for 2,500 electric, zero emission garbage trucks. A dollar amount for the contract wasn’t disclosed. The deal is expandable up to 5,000 trucks. Full production deliveries are expected to begin in 2023 — road testing is set to commence in late 2021 and early 2022.

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The world’s growing concrete coasts

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The world’s coastlines are turning to concrete, at a huge cost to wildlife and the climate. But new technologies may offer a way to shore up coasts while benefiting biodiversity.

It’s one of the most impressive feats in modern engineering, and crossing the world’s longest sea bridge – the 55km (34 miles) Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which opened in October 2018 at a cost of $20bn (£15.9bn) – certainly has its benefits. But impressive as it appears, this mammoth construction project, like so many others, has come at a cost.

No less than one million tonnes of concrete were used in the eight years it took to build the bridge. It was this concrete that invaded the habitat of the critically endangered pink dolphin, and is thought to be the reason that dead dolphins washed up on nearby shores while the population near the bridge plummeted by 60%. Of course, dolphins weren’t the only victims – habitats are destroyed and countless other marine species are affected when large amounts of concrete are poured into the ocean.

Destruction of this kind is often the cost of using concrete – the most widely used manmade material on Earth. With three tonnes per year used for every person in the world, there are few parts of the planet that concrete hasn’t reached. The production of concrete is also a huge emitter of CO2. At least 8% of humanity’s carbon footprint comes from the concrete industry, mostly from the production of cement – one of concrete’s principal components. The cement industry generates around 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 per year – more than any country other than China or the US.

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In a world-first, Australian University builds its own solar farm to offset 100% of its electricity use

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LIMITING GLOBAL WARMING to well below 2℃ this century requires carbon emissions to reach net-zero by around 2050. Australian households have done much to support the transition via rooftop solar investments. Now it’s time for organizations to take a more serious role.

The University of Queensland’s efforts to reduce its electricity emissions provides one blueprint. Last week UQ opened a 64-megawatt solar farm at Warwick in the state’s southeast. It’s the first major university in the world to offset 100% of its electricity use with renewable power produced from its own assets. In fact, UQ will generate more renewable electricity than it uses.

The Warwick Solar farm shows businesses and other organizations that the renewables transition is doable, and makes economic sense.

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The Great Green Wall of Africa : Is the the next wonder of the world?

 

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“The Great Green Wall promises to be a real game-changer.”

Africa’s Sahara Desert is growing.

In 2018 it was found that the Sahara, the biggest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic, had increased in size by 10 per cent over the last century. This expansion is due to a combination of man-made climate change and natural climate cycles, with most of the change happening along the northern and southern edges of the desert.

Desertification is a major problem around the world, not least in the Sahel region (which runs from the southern belt of the Sahara to the Sudanian savanna below) where some of the world’s poorest communities reside. Despite the Global North being the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, it is people like those living in the Sahel who are paying the price.

The Sahel community are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, dealing with persistent droughts, famines, and rapidly depleting natural resources on an ongoing basis. As a result, millions of people across the region, from Senegal to Djibouti, are being left to handle the severe repercussions of the climate emergency without much help.

This is where the Great Green Wall comes in, a project that could save an entire region from ecological collapse.

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Renault arms entire french town with free electric cars

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Renault wants people to know that it’s easy to go electric.

The automaker giant Renault has gifted an entire village in France its Renault Zoe electric vehicle in a recent power move. The move comes as an effort to demonstrate that EVs are suitable for not only urban areas but also rural communities just as well as gas-powered cars.

Renault offered three-year leases of its Zoe EV to every house in Appy, a small town in the Ariege region of France. There is only one thing the automaker requires them to do: giving Renault periodic updates on whether they like the car and EV ownership or not.

Accordingly, this move will help Renault “understand the way customers interact with and use electric vehicles day to day.”

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