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Texas Storm Exposes Just How Unprepared US Energy Grids Are For Climate Change

Electric grid regulators throughout the US are claiming that the nation must develop new and vast supplies of energy storage to cope with future climate change related incidents.

NYC Real Estate

How Commercial Real Estate Will Advance In 2021 Thanks To Digital Marketing 

The Biden administration has pledged to reduce the carbon footprint caused by US buildings by 50% by the year 2035. While the administration hasn’t announced a concrete plan on how they intend to do so, digital services that help businesses monitor their carbon emissions is already proving to show success for the commercial real estate sector.

For example, Carbon Lighthouse is a startup with over $67 million in funding that uses artificial intelligence to lower building emissions in commercial real estate. Their new Efficiency Production service allows building owners to directly monitor and measure carbon emissions in certain structures. This technology is thought to be extremely beneficial for older buildings that may be falling behind on meeting new climate goals. 

The 2021 Deloitte Commercial Real Estate Outlook Report shows data that proves the Covid-19 pandemic has also made a major systemic impact on commercial real estate for 2021 that will last the whole year. John D’Angelo is a US Real Estate Leader at Deloitte Consulting who helped write the report. He claimed the impact of the pandemic on commercial real estate is causing the industry to rely much more on technology.

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“As commercial real estate companies work to understand and respond to emerging behavior patterns, create safe building spaces, improve operational efficiency and identify asset- and portfolio-level risks and opportunities. We see the rise of digital twins, direct digital engagement, data and analytics, robotic press automation and digital maturity to drive commercial real estate  in 2021 and beyond,” D’Angelo explained. 

Jim Berry is the Vice Chairman and US Real Estate Leader at Deloitte, who also recently spoke with the media regarding the pandemics creation of unique obstacles for the industry to get through: “It is important to recognize that while the pandemic served as an accelerant in the market, it did not change the trends that were already occurring.”

“In previous commercial real estate outlooks, we had pointed to a changing dynamic and need for the industry to seize better opportunities to utilize new and emerging technologies and data analytics to drive a different value proposition that focuses on tenant and end-user experience. Today, we continue to see – and what you can expect down the road – is a disruption in the value proposition of commercial real estate,” said Berry.

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“As memorable as 2020 events have been, 2021 and beyond will be telling, as certain commercial real estate companies begin to step into opportunities to better align their operations with those of the occupier and end-user.”

Berry believes that this newfound focus on these technologies will help advance development and shift the way the industry works overall for the better. The digitization of carbon emissions and other information regarding climate is essential for these businesses to maintain a greener footprint. 

“We will see commercial real estate businesses reevaluating the value proposition of properties by emphasizing experiential value and repositioning assets such as transforming the talent function – job roles, processes, and culture – to prepare for the future of work and balancing business recovery, seizing new opportunities and tenant and employee engagement. This will likely require a combination of elements, including breaking down functional silos, enhancing leadership and organizational agility, increasing collaboration and engaging in transparent and ethical decision-making.”

Berry believes that as the pandemic comes to an end, all the trends that were existing before it hit will still be around, but much more advanced, which will hopefully be beneficial to both the real estate industry overall in America, as well as the planet.

Paris Climate Agreement

Joe Biden Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement On First Day In Office

Hours after he was sworn in as 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden signed two executive orders relating to climate change. Environmental activists throughout the nation rejoiced that the next administration entering the White House is ready to take major steps in reversing the damage that has been done to the planet within the past four years especially. 

Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, a clean transportation advocate for GreenLatinos, a nonprofit organization focusing on environmental issues that are disproportionately impacting Latino communities, recently spoke with the media about the significance of the US rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and the cancellation of the permits for the Keystone XL pipeline. 

“The Biden administration is sending a message, and it’s really exciting that these conversations are happening so early. My hope is that these actions are just the beginning of a sustained climate-oriented agenda.”

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On the White House website, climate change is second on a list of the Biden Administration’s priorities; obviously getting the Covid-19 pandemic, that has now killed over 400,000 Americans, under control is top priority. If we remember back to Trump’s first week in office back in 2017, his administration completely removed the climate change page from the White House website. 

“We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis. Any one is enough to challenge us in ways. The fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested,” Biden said in his inaugural address.

Biden has indicated that he plans to restore a multitude of the environmental rules and regulations that former president Donald Trump and his administration rolled back on. Michael Mann is the author of “The New Climate War” as well as a professor and climatologist at Penn State University who recently spoke with the media about these crucial efforts already being made by the Biden administration. 

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“This administration has to hit the ground running, because we’re four years down the road not having made the progress that we ought to have made. That means we’re going to have to work even harder.”

“Rejoining the Paris Agreement will help restore the country’s credibility, but Biden will also have to set an example by pushing for even more aggressive emissions targets to avert the most damaging impacts of climate change. The current commitments under the Paris Agreement are not enough to keep us below 1.5 degrees Celsius of planetary warming. It will be incumbent on the United States to display leadership to keep warming below catastrophic levels. What I would like to see over the next 100 days is language that speaks to our commitment to substantially ratchet up our obligations under the Paris accord.”

Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit also shows a major shift away from needing fossil fuels. During his campaign Biden proposed a $2 trillion climate plan that included a goal of achieving a 100% clean electricity standard by 2035. 

Environmental activists will be watching closely as the administration continues to navigate the climate crisis that is impacting the world more and more every day. Many will be looking for policies that will benefit all communities in the US, especially communities that are predominately made up of people of color which have been disproportionately impacted by climate change due to a complete lack of funding and resources from the government. 

Deforestation

Deforestation In The Amazon Is At A 12-Year High 

Between August 2019 and July 2020 the Brazilian Amazon experienced a 12-year high in deforestation rates, according to the nation’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). During that one-year time period, 6,890 square miles of forest were completely destroyed, along with the thousands of wildlife habitats within them. 

The destruction that occurred within this year is 9.5% greater than the previous year-long period, and is the highest level of destruction the Amazon has endured since 2008, according to the INPE, who recently spoke at a news conference to discuss this major issue. 

In general, deforestation rates have skyrocketed in Brazil since current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office back in January 2019. Bolsonaro has highly encouraged the commercial development of the Amazon and has defunded numerous agencies that are responsible for preventing illegal logging, ranching, and mining within the rainforest. 

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Fires are often lit in the Amazon on purpose to clear vegetation from parts of the forest to make room for these illegal ranches. The surrounding forest area is typically already destroyed due to deforestation as well. Environmentalists have been outspoken about their disapproval of Bolsonaro and his policies that promote illegal logging and development in the Amazon. 

Back in August Bolsonaro was called out for referring to official data and news reports regarding fires in the Amazon “a lie.” Back in 2019 the president was faced with a threat from 34 international investors who all threatened to divest from Brazilian companies unless Bolsonaro made a genuine effort to slow the destruction of the forest as well as the illegal fires and ranching. 

While his government did take steps to curb that destruction by periodically banning fires and allocating military personnel to control them, the new data shows the opposite. NGO Greenpeace is an environmental group that’s been documenting the destruction of the Amazon throughout the past year.

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NGO released photos from a flyover operation they completed in August. The images showed the southern portion of the forest located in Rondônia which included protected areas where commercial development and exploitation is prohibited, however, the images clearly showed the areas engulfed in flames and smoke. 

Back in September current president-elect Joe Biden even brought up the deforestation issue in the Amazon during a debate, claiming that the “rainforests in Brazil are being torn down but [he would] make sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion to say ‘here’s $20 billion, stop tearing down the forest and if you don’t, you are going to have significant economic consequences.’”

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and is now an integral player in the fight against global climate change. When the rainforest is healthy and thriving, it’s able to pull billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and thus defend the planet from further climate destruction. 

It’s also a biodiversity hotspot and home to numerous species, and according to NGO South America’s Pantanal region has been hit by the worst wildfires in decades. The fires have now consumed over 28% of the area, meaning the area that is typically responsible for absorbing carbon dioxide and maintaining a healthy ecosystem for the forest is struggling for survival now.

Solar Panels

UK Company Using Material That Could Be “Game-Changer” For Solar Power 

Solar energy has been one of the biggest innovations within the past few decades. Now, a company in the UK is using a group of materials called perovskites to create the “next generation of solar panels.” The company claims that the materials could make solar power twice as efficient as it is now, and it’s flexible enough to wrap around entire buildings. 

Solar energy as a power source first appeared in the 1950’s in New Jersey. At the time Bell Labs created a silicon-based solar panel that was expensive, but effective enough to turn 6% of sunlight into electricity powerful enough to power everyday electrical equipment. As time went on the cost of solar panels went down but the use of silicon remained. Today, panels can turn up to 22% of the light emitted from the sun into power. 

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Oxford PV is the company that’s based out of the University of Oxford that initially began using perovskites for solar power back in 2018. The company found that when they coated the silicone used in the development of solar panels with perovskite, they achieved 28% efficiency in terms of converting solar energy into electricity. The company believes, however, the technology can get that percentage up to 40%. 

So what exactly does this mean in terms of the future of solar energy? As solar cells improve in efficiency, less solar panels are needed to power certain buildings, meaning costs for solar panels will decrease, and the amount of land, labor, and equipment needed to operate the panels would also decrease and simplify. This would mean more average individuals can begin implementing this type of technology in their own homes, and not just individuals of a higher working class who can afford it. Henry Snaith is the co-founder of Oxford PV and recently spoke to the press about the company’s major breakthrough.

“If we want to make it that all new power generation is solar photovoltaics, then we need to keep driving the price down. One way to do that is to keep pushing the efficiency or the power output of the module up, and this is where perovskites really come into play.”

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Perovskite was initially discovered as a material in the 1800’s, but Oxford PV uses a synthetic version that’s made from more inexpensive materials that are abundant in the Earth’s crust. This way the cost of material remains low, while other companies attempting to use the same materials are using different more expensive variations. The perk of perovskite is that it works monumentally better in the shade or on cloudy days when compared to regular panels with just silicone at the base. The goal, according to Snaith, is to replace silicone entirely with perovskite. 

“In the coming decades, all perovskite solar coatings promise to raise efficiencies even further, reduce the weight and shipping cost of solar equipment. As the technology develops, perovskite could be sprayed or rolled onto flexible surfaces.”

Oxford PV will begin producing solar cells made from perovskite on top of silicone early next year in a newly acquired factory in Germany. The company is estimating that the panels could save homeowners currently using solar panels up to $1,000 on the purchase and installation of these newer panels.

California Wildfire

California Wildfires Update: Hospitals And Hundreds Of Homes Evacuated

Wind-driven fires that have erupted in the Napa Valley have forced hundreds of residents and all patients at St Helena Hospital to evacuate.

Ice Sheets

Melting Ice Sheets Will Cause Global Sea Levels To Rise Over 15 Inches By 2100

A new study performed by an international team of more than 60 ice, ocean, and atmospheric scientists has estimated that if humans keep emitting greenhouse gases unnecessarily at the rate that we’re going now, global sea levels will rise more than 15 inches by 2100.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere every day, and they impact climate change by causing global temperatures to increase, leading to a myriad of other detrimental environmental events. One of these events includes the melting of ice sheets from some of the worlds largest bodies of ice.

As things continue to heat up, ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are particularly worrying scientists, as they’re both located at opposite poles of the world and their simultaneous melting is causing the entire planet to struggle. Sophie Nowichi was the project leader of this study and recently released a statement about how the major uncertainty regarding ice sheets specifically has made it hard to measure just how severe things can get in terms of global warming.

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“One of the biggest uncertainties when it comes to how much sea levels will rise in the future is how ice sheets will contribute, and how much the ice sheets contribute is really dependent on what the climate will do.”

This study is a part of a larger initiative known as the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project (ISMIP6). This initiative is led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The team working for ISMIP6 has been measuring how sea levels will rise between 2015 and 2100, specifically in relation to greenhouse gas emissions.

They found that higher emissions of these greenhouse gases extending throughout time will cause Greenland to contribute about 3.5 inches to the global rise in sea levels, while levels from Antarctica are a little harder to calculate based on the massive size. Antarctica has bodies of ice known as “shelves” which scientists are predicting will break down over time and cause an even more devastating increase to sea levels. 

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Right now it’s predicted that at the current rate of emissions Antarctica can contribute around 12 inches to sea levels in the future. Helene Seroussi is an ice scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California who worked on the study and recently released a statement emphasizing that this particular study is only providing predictions for ice loss between 2015 and 2100, and doesn’t take into account the already significant amount of loss that’s already occurred. 

“The strength of ISMIP6 was to bring together most of the ice sheet modeling groups around the world, and then connect with other communities of ocean and atmospheric modelers as well, to better understand what could happen to the ice sheets.”

According to Seroussi and other researchers working on the study it took over 6 years of workshops, conferences, and data exchange between scientists from around the world to compile these predictions and work together on ways in which humans can potentially correct their mistakes in regard to climate change. 

The specific report from the ISMIP6 will help the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with their special report regarding melting ice and global sea levels/climate change in general. This report is projected to compile data from a multitude of major studies and will be released in 2022.

Wild Elephants

Worldwide Animal Population Has Declined Nearly 70% In The Past 50 Years  

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report for 2020, nearly 21,000 monitored populations of mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds – which make up around 4,400 species – have declined an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016. Even more staggering, species living in Latin America and the Caribbean have been disproportionately impacted and have declined, on average, by up to 94%. 

The WWF releases this same report every two years to show us how severe climate change is actually impacting the planet and its billions of inhabitants. The report also reveals how these species specific ecosystems have dwindled within past decades, and shows a clear increase in damage that keeps getting progressively worse every year. 

WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts recently made a statement condemning humanity for destroying species populations out of greed and economic gain. He also claims that the US’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic goes to show how irresponsible our world leaders can actually be when it comes to major issues impacting the entire planet. 

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“We cannot shield humanity from the impacts of environmental destruction. It’s time to restore our broken relationship with nature for the benefit of species and people alike.”

The report directly blames humans as the sole reason for this massive decline and “dire state” the planet is now in. Generally speaking, it claims that the exponential growth of “human consumption, population, global trade and urbanization over the last 50 years” it’s what’s led to the unprecedented and monumental decline of natural resources and habitats. 

The destruction of rainforest habitats for farming has been a key factor in the loss of biodiversity and overall population growth for certain species. The amount of land that’s been stripped from natural habitats in Europe, Central Asia, North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean accounts for 80% of total global deforestation. Land loss in those areas has also led to a 70% decrease in terrestrial biodiversity and 50% decrease in freshwater species biodiversity. The systems now implemented in these cleared out plots of land emit 29% of global greenhouse gases as well. 

“Climate change creates an ongoing destructive feedback loop in which the worsening climate leads to the decline in genetic variability, species richness and populations, and that loss of biodiversity adversely affects the climate.”

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The report states that every single part of the ocean is affected by overfishing pollution and littering. Humans depend on certain marine ecosystems for food and other resources, however, the process of acquiring these resources is doing more damage than good. The emphasis on human health and the planet’s health has also never been more connected. 

The Covid-19 pandemic and multiple wildfires, and other natural disasters that seem to be occurring constantly at this point, prove that humans and nature are greatly connected and need one another to survive. Within the past 50 years, the child mortality and poverty rate has decreased while life expectancy has increased, however, the irreversible damage being done to the planet could completely undo that due to a lack of resources and healthy living environments. 

Within the past 80 years, the rate of infectious diseases emerging has increased “dramatically,” and nearly half of the diseases that have surfaced did so as a direct result of land destruction/change brought on by the food industry. One study reported that diseases originating in animals are responsible for 3 million deaths every year; the Covid-19 pandemic being the most severe example of this. 

So what’s the solution? For those of us at home, we can continue to practice being green everyday, however, the real change needs to come from our world leaders and the multiple industries that exist and actively destroy the environment for financial gain. It’s up to us at home to stay educated and informed, and to vote in all elections for candidates who support improving the planet.

Iceberg

Earth Lost 28 Trillion Tons Of Ice In Less Than 30 Years Due To Climate Change 

Scientists working at Leeds and Edinburgh Universities and the University College London recently released a review paper that revealed data taken from surveys of the world’s glaciers, mountains, and ice sheets between the years 1994 and 2017. The information revealed a “staggering” loss in ice throughout the Earth’s many natural ice formations. 

Professor Andy Shepherd is the director of Leeds University’s Center for Polar Observation and Modeling, and recently spoke with the press about this dramatic loss in ice, and rising in sea levels as a result. 

“Melting glaciers and ice sheets could cause sea levels to rise dramatically, possibly reaching 3 feet by the end of the century.”

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The loss in ice is the least of scientists worries, it’s more about the direct, and indirect, effects of that melting that could have a detrimental impact on the planet and its billions of inhabitants. One of the biggest concerns is a major disruption in biological health within the waters of the Arctic and Antarctica. Loss in health in these waters specifically can reduce Earth’s overall ability to reflect solar radiation back into space so it doesn’t heat the planet too much. 

These findings perfectly match up with the “worst-case-scenario” predictions that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlined. According to Shepherd this is the first time anyone has looked at all the ice that has/is disappearing from the planet; previously studies would only map large cool areas such as Greenland or the Arctic exclusively. 

“This is the first time anyone has looked at all the ice that is disappearing from the entire planet. What we have found has stunned us.”

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Shepherd went on in the report itself to state that there is “little doubt” that the vast majority of this ice loss is a direct result of climate change. The report was released one week after scientists working at Ohio State University discovered that the ice sheet covering Greenland may have “passed the point of no return” in regards to how melted it is. 

The Greenland melting is due to a lack in annual snowfall; which is also a result of global warming. The rate at which it snows every year in Greenland isn’t enough to keep up with the pace at which the ice is melting throughout the rest of the year. This means that Greenland’s ice sheet will keep melting and losing ice even if climate change is somehow reversed in the next few years. 

Scientists are worried about Greenland specifically because its ice sheet is considered the world’s second-largest body of water, therefore if it melts, sea levels will rise to an unfathomable level. According to a NASA study 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded on Earth; which isn’t a shock to most, but the results are now starting to come to life. 

This is why the election in November is so important, as climate change has been a major point of contention among Republicans and Democrats since the term “global warming” was initially created. If you’re a US resident and have yet to register, or aren’t sure where you’re specifically registered, you can check that status here.

2020 Election Pins

Kamala Harris Officially Chosen As Joe Biden’s Running Mate For 2020 Election

California Senator Kamala Harris, a former 2020 presidential candidate, made history this week when presidential candidate Joe Biden announced her as his running mate. If Biden and Harris win, Harris will be the first women of color vice president for the United States of America. 

Harris herself is a former prosecutor who is generally known as one of the more liberal members of Senate, however, her track record working as a prosecutor and officer of the law has many younger voters skeptical as to where her priorities will lie once in office. So where exactly does Harris stand on all the issues?

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When it comes to health care, Harris was a co-sponsor of Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All act. During her initial presidential campaigning she claimed that she wanted to eliminate private insurance, but more specifically all of the “waste and bureaucracy” that was embedded in private insurance companies. Harris also has made claims that she would never deny a person health care based on citizenship status; something that’s become a major problem for undocumented individuals living in America in the current political climate.

Harris has always been pro-choice in terms of abortion access for women in America. Pro-abortion rights group NARAL gave her a 100% rating in regard to her support of a womens right to choose, however, while working as an attorney general in California Harris also allowed a hospital to stop providing elective abortions once that hospital entered into a new partnership with the Catholic St. Joseph Health System; a decision that caused Harris to receive a lot of backlash.

When it comes to the current Covid-19 pandemic Harris has been adamant about her support of Biden’s plans for the future of America and it’s continuous fight against the virus. Specifically, she’s said that she wants Americans to receive monthly stimulus checks; $2,000 per adult and an additional $2,000 per dependent. 

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Climate change is currently one of the largest issues the world is facing (besides the pandemic of course) and has also become a major point of contention among all world leaders. Trump’s presidency has been heavily rooted in the belief that climate change is not actually occurring and the scientific evidence is simply false. 

While campaigning for president, Harris introduced a $10 trillion plan to address climate change. The goal of this plan is to have zero-net emissions by 2045 and 100% carbon-neutral electricity by 2030. Harris also claimed that she would go after major corporations who contribute the most to pollution in America, and would end federal spending on fossil fuel production. 

LGBTQIA+ rights have also been under fire throughout the Trump presidency. Harris pledged that she would be including members of the community in her cabinet if elected. When she was California’s attorney general she also declined to defend Proposition 8; a law that defined marriage as something between a man and a woman. 

Harris has also claimed in the past that she supports the federal legalization of marijuana, especially now since our economy is suffering so much. However, as attorney general Harris oversaw hundreds of marijuana-related convictions that have been seen as unjust as severe in terms of punishment. 

Finally, when it comes to gun control, another major point of conflict in American politics, Harris has promised to take executive action on guns if elected president. She’s been a major advocate for stricter gun control policies and supports requiring anyone who sells more than five guns a year to perform intensive background checks on their clients.