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Have you ever dreamt of “driving” a flying car just like in Back to the Future? Well, this might happen in real life sooner than you ever expected. But, rather than flying cars, the technology that is being developed today looks more like human-sized drones
9 Personal Flying Vehicles — CleanTechnica’s New “Flying Car” Overview Page was originally published on CleanTechnica.
In Arizona, the Ecosa institute offers a tuition-free ecological design certificate program.
Ecosa Institute Offers A Tuition-Free Ecological Design Certificate Program was originally published on CleanTechnica.
Alberta's oil industry won a symbolic victory. President Trump calls his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline "a great day for jobs and energy independence" in the United States. Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) admits the industry is not using its current pipeline capacity and adding more pipelines is "not consistent with the Paris Accord’s commitment to keep (global) warming to two degrees Celsius, or its aspirational goal of limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius."
Approving The Keystone XL Pipeline Is About North America’s Energy Future was originally published on CleanTechnica.
Greg Walters | Seeker | 24 March 2017
The world’s first deep-sea mining operation will [may] kick off in early 2019 when a Canadian firm, Nautilus Minerals Inc., lowers a trio of massive remote-controlled mining robots to the floor of the Bismarck Sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea in pursuit of rich copper and gold reserves.
The machines, each the size of a small house, are equipped with rock-crushing teeth resembling the large incisors of a dinosaur. The robots will lumber across the ocean floor on mammoth treads, grinding and chewing the encrusted seabed, sending plumes of sediment into the surrounding waters and killing marine life that gets in their way. The smallest of the robots weighs 200 tons.
“A lot of people don’t realize that there are more mineral resources on the seafloor than on land,” said Michael Johnston, CEO of Nautilus, by phone from the company’s field office in Brisbane, Australia. “Technology has allowed us to go there.”
If Nautilus succeeds, an undersea gold rush could be at hand.
Over two-dozen contracts have already been granted to explore hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean floor by a United Nations body called the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which regulates areas of the seafloor that lie outside of any national jurisdiction.
“In the seabed, resources are incredibly rich,” said Michael Lodge, Secretary-General of the ISA. “These are virgin resources. They’re extremely high-grade. And they are super-abundant.”
Analysts warn that population growth and a transition to low-carbon economies will test global supply constraints for minerals. Indeed, current levels of mining exploration are not keeping pace with future demand, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in March by a team of researchers led by the University of Delaware’s Saleem Ali.
The prospect of mineral demand outstripping supply has led an increasing number of firms to consider operations at the bottom of the ocean, where reserves of copper, nickel, and cobalt are thought to be plentiful, along with lesser amounts of gold and platinum.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that there are thousands of years’ supply of minerals in the seabed,” Secretary-General Lodge said. “There is just absolutely no shortage.”
Nautilus says early tests show their Bismark Sea site, called Solwara-1, is over 10-times as rich in copper as comparable land-based mines, with a copper grade above 7 percent versus an average 0.6 percent grade on land. The site also boasts over 20 grams per ton of gold, versus an average grade of 6 grams per ton on land.
Many of the world’s best options for surface mining have long since been explored and developed, according to Thomas Graedel, an industrial ecologist at Yale University.
“The planet has been extensively explored on land,” he said by phone from New Haven. “I think industry will continue to want to explore for new potential deposits of minerals.”
Indeed, mining the ocean floor has been under consideration for decades, but seen as a remote possibility.
In one famous case in 1974, the CIA used a fake ocean floor mining expedition, ostensibly backed by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, as cover for an attempt to hoist a sunken Soviet submarine off the coast of Hawaii.
But now, the practice is shifting from fantasy to reality — a fact that is causing alarm among environmental groups who argue that not enough research has been done to prove seabed mining is ecologically sound.
“There are too many unknowns for this industry to go ahead,” said Natalie Lowrey of the Australia-based Deep Sea Mining Campaign, which is calling for the practice to be banned. “We’ve already desecrated a lot of our lands. We don’t need to be doing that in the deep sea.”
Lowrey worries that the plume of seafloor sediment stirred up by the mining robots could travel with sea currents, disturbing ocean ecosystems. Sediment clouds could prove harmful to filter-feeders, environmentalists argue, undercutting the lower rungs of the food chain and potentially causing knock-on effects for other creatures.
“There’s a serious concern that the toxicity from disturbing the deep sea can move up the food chain to the local communities,” who live along the coast of Papua New Guinea, she said.
Johnston of Nautilus said his company is taking the sediment plume issue seriously, and that the company’s machines are designed to minimize the undersea cloud through the collection procedure itself.
“When we’re cutting, we have suction turned on,” he said. “It’s not like we’re blowing stuff all over the place. We’re actually sucking it up. So the plume gets minimized through the mining process.”
Johnston added, “We go to great efforts to minimize the impact of the plumes. We’re quite confident that the impact from these activities will be significantly less than some of these people claim.”
At Solwara-1, Nautilus is going after a type of deposit known as Seafloor Massive Sulfides (SMS), which form next to subsea hydrothermal vents at the margins of tectonic plates.
The deposits, which include copper, gold, and potentially other valuable minerals, collect after cold water seeps into the earth and becomes geothermally heated, dissolving metals and sulfides from the surrounding rocks before being spewed back out of the vent at temperatures up to 400 degrees Celsius and collecting on the sea floor — along with the minerals brought up from below.
The mining robots have been designed to operate in near-freezing temperatures, under pressure 150 times greater than at sea level.
The first robot, the auxiliary cutter, carves a level path to make way for the second machine, the bulk cutter, which is equipped with a wide, powerful cutting drum.
The third robot, called the collecting machine, follows behind them, slurping up the seawater slurry with a consistency like wet cement through internal pumps before sending the material to the ship at the surface via a riser system.
On the ship, the water is filtered, and solids larger than eight microns are removed, before being returned back into the ocean. The cargo is then transferred to a transport vessel and sent directly to customers in China.
Now, as Nautilus prepares for its maiden voyage, many will be watching from the sidelines — and if it succeeds, imitators will likely try to follow.
“If Nautilus goes ahead, it’s going to open the gateway for this industry,” Lowrey said.
Within a day of Rex Tillerson’s swearing in as secretary of state, the State Department’s climate change website began to change. The changes signal a shift away from leading international climate actions that the Obama administration pursued and a pivot toward a more passive role.
The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative tracked the changes to the Office of Global Change web page and shared them with Climate Central. They are the first changes to the State Department site documented by EDGI after Tillerson took over on Feb. 1, according to Toly Rinberg, a researcher who helps coordinate EDGI’s Website Tracking Team.Changes were made to the State Department’s Office of Global Change web page shortly after Rex Tillerson was sworn in. The image on the left shows it in its Obama-era format. EDGI
Nearly the entire description of the office was changed.
Deleted from the text was: “The United States is taking a leading role by advancing an ever-expanding suite of measures at home and abroad.” Also stricken were references to mitigation efforts and other mentions of leading on climate change.
In its place is more generic language, solely referencing that the office represents the U.S. at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other international forums. It does use the word “lead” once, but only saying the office leads the U.S. government in participating with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The new language does note foreign assistance for clean energy and adaptation. The addition of adaptation language mirrors changes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
Other changes to the page that occurred prior to Tillerson’s swearing in include paring down the sidebar menu that had links to reports and statements about climate change that included how the U.S. was addressing its international climate commitments.
On their own, they are small changes and are to be expected with any new administration. But they didn’t happen in a vacuum, and taken with other actions, they offer insights into America’s climate change strategy abroad.
The G20 finance ministers recently axed climate finance from a communique under U.S. pressure, a move that business leaders promptly decried. That stands in contrast to the 2016 communique, when G20 finance ministers lauded the Paris Agreement and pledged to provide assistance to developing countries for clean energy and adaptation projects through mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund, which aims to raise $100 billion by 2020.
President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal also represents a major departure from recent years. The blueprint slices more than $10 billion off the current State Department budget, including zeroing out U.S. commitments to the international climate process and funding. That’s in addition to cuts into clean energy innovation and domestic climate programs (though the final budget passed through Congress will likely look different).
In a letter to State Department staff, Tillerson endorsed shrinking the budget.
“It acknowledges that U.S. engagement must be more efficient, that our aid be more effective, and that advocating the national interests of our country always be our primary mission,” Tillerson wrote, according to the Washington Post. “Additionally, the budget is an acknowledgment that development needs are a global challenge to be met not just by contributions from the United States, but through greater partnership with and contributions from our allies and others.”
What happens to the Paris Agreement itself will be perhaps the strongest signal of how the U.S. approaches climate change on the international stage. Reports indicate that presidential advisor Steve Bannon and the more populist faction of Trump’s inner circle want the U.S. to exit the agreement, which Trump said he would “cancel” during the campaign.
Another faction of the White House is in favor of staying in the Paris Agreement, of which Tillerson is likely a part. During his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said, “I think we’re better served by being at that table than leaving that table,” though he also puts the brakes on a bit by noting “as we commit to those accords, are there any elements of that that put America to a disadvantage?”
Any changes to how the U.S. acts — or doesn’t act — on climate change come at a crucial time for the world. The planet just endured its third straight year of record-setting heat, and 16 of the 17 hottest years have all occurred since 2000.
While renewable energy investments are at an all-time high, there’s still a vast amount of work the world will need to do to shift away from fossil fuels and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. What role the U.S. plays in that remains to be seen.
This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Climate leadership was scrubbed from the State Department website on Mar 24, 2017.
The State Department estimates the Keystone XL would provide 42,000 direct and indirect jobs — a number that might be inflated — and only 3,900 of those would be full-time construction positions. The thing is, they’re nearly all temporary, lasting long enough to get Keystone XL built. Once operational, the pipeline would employ just 35 people, according to the estimate.
Those numbers fall a bit short of what a certain reality TV star predicted in 2013:
Will the Keystone XL pipeline finally be approved? Will create over 100,000 jobs and make us more energy independent.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2013
Keystone XL would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the United States, running over the Ogallala Aquifer and close to more than a dozen tribal lands. That puts a lot of drinking water at risk. As pipelines age, they typically aren’t properly maintained (after all, only 35 permanent employees are doing the work). Sooner or later, they’re sure to leak.
“It’s going to be an incredible pipeline,” Trump said on Friday morning. “Greatest technology known to man or woman. And frankly, we’re very proud of it.”
This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Keystone XL is approved. Apply now for 35 permanent pipeline jobs. on Mar 24, 2017.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Performance Model 3 Coming In ~1 Year, Early Model 3 Deliveries To Be RWD, Model Y Still “A Few Years Away” (#ElonTweets)
Accompanying the tweet of the video of a Model 3 release candidate going down a street, Tesla CEO Elon Musk also revealed that early deliveries of the Model 3 will be of the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) variant -- as was the case with the launch of the Model S a few years back
Richard Linklater Captures The Simple Pleasures Between Adolescence & Adulthood In ‘Everybody Wants Some’
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has posted a short video of what may well be the production version of the Model 3 ... in action. The video is only of a quick run down a street, and doesn't show the front of the car much, so it doesn't give us much to go on, but the design does appear to be altered some from earlier Model 3 iterations.
Have a watch