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United Airline Ventures Invests In Algae-Based Fuel Producer, Viridos

United Airline Ventures (UAV) is investing in Viridos; an algae biofuel company that is aiming to turn microalgae into sustainable aviation fuel (SAV).

Luggage

How The Way You Travel Is Affecting Our Planet

This year there have been increased rumblings around the world about climate change with details regarding the way we are all collectively killing the planet seemingly being reported each day, but there are many ways we can do our own little bit to help save the world.

Currently air travel is being cited as the number one enemy in our fight against global warming. The amount of carbon dioxide that an East to West coast flight generates is around one metric ton. And that is a lot. Cutting down on the amount of times you take air travel can be a great way to reduce your own personal carbon footprint.

Earlier this year there was an event at Google Camp that centered on climate change and many high profile names were in attendance, including Barack Obama and the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry as well as environmental champion Leonardo DiCaprio. While the efforts of so many people should be applauded, there were many who thought the 114 private jets that were used to get to the $20 million event was slightly hypocritical.

Another pivotal moment in raising climate change awareness was the rise of environmentalist Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish girl who sailed around the globe to chastise the Western world for creating an environmental issue that her generation – and generations to come – will have to continue to fix. On the back of Thunberg’s successful cultural movement, the concept of flight shaming – or ‘flygskam’ – has risen.

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The Swedish word originated from an anti-flying movement started by Swedish singer Staffan Lindberg. Lindberg originally wrote an article vowing to give up flying which was also signed by five of his famous friends, including Thunberg’s mother Malena Ernman. Thunberg has taken the campaign – where they suggest people should feel ashamed for using air travel due to the massive negative impact it has on the planet – and incorporated it into her “awareness tour” around Europe.

We are not suggesting you drive each time you travel cross-country, or sail around the world to your next meeting or holiday in Europe, but you can travel more by train. However America has over 3.7 million square miles of landmass meaning there are obstacles here too. For instance, a train journey from Los Angeles to Houston is over 35 hours long and is clearly not feasible for most travelers, but by taking the train on shorter journeys you can “do your bit.”

Currently train travel is the most environmentally friendly way to get around and many passengers are “getting on board” with the idea. The Pacific Surfliner in Southern California has seen an increase in travelers with around 3 million using the train service in 2018. Getting from Hollywood to San Diego takes around three hours, roughly the same time as sitting in a car. The difference being that on a train you can do your work, move around and most importantly, reduce your carbon footprint.

Train travel is also seeing a huge resurgence in popularity in the Northeast Corridor with over 17 million journeys being taken each year.
But if train travel is not the best way for you to get around and you have to rely on your car why not opt for an electric vehicle?

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Not only are electric cars far more beneficial to the planet – each EV has zero exhaust emissions – they can also use renewable energy. By recharging your car from a supply such as a solar powered grid, you would be reducing your greenhouse emissions even further.

And if this was not enough to convince you to trade in your gas powered vehicle to an electric one how about the fact that most electric vehicles are now being made with eco-friendly materials such as bio-based or recycled materials.

Other benefits of driving an electric car are the running costs and health benefits. The cost to charge an electric car works out at roughly a third as much per mile as buying gas. They are also cheaper to maintain thanks to having fewer parts – for example, there are no exhausts systems, starter motors or fuel injection systems as well as many other parts that a conventional car would need.

And with less harmful exhaust emissions the air quality will improve, meaning better air for us to breathe.

So when you are planning your next journey ask yourself these important questions. Can I take my time getting there? Do I really need to fly? Would an electric car – bought or hired – be the better option?

And if you can utilize America’s vast train network make sure you sit back, think about how you have done your bit to help the planet, and enjoy the scenery going past. You will be amazed at what you have been missing.

Electric Plane

World’s First Electric Plane Flies For 15 Minutes in Canada

Climate issues and air pollution are a top priority for many countries around the world with the number of electric cars in many towns and cities steadily on the increase. But what about the aviation world?

It is a known fact that air travel is damaging the planet with American flights responsible for around 11 percent of our CO2 emissions. But what can we do to reduce it?

This week saw a seaplane, completely powered by electric, take its maiden flight in Vancouver, Canada, leading some to claim it as a “world first” for the aviation sector.

Harbour Air – who has a fleet of airplanes that carries around 500,000 passengers annually – and magniX carried out a test flight of an aircraft that had been fitted with an electric motor. And although the plane was only a small six seater aircraft, it has been hailed as leading the way to “the world’s first all-electric commercial fleet.”

Taking off near the Fraser River in Vancouver, the electric seaplane continued for around 15 minutes before landing safely.

It is hopeful that by bringing electric into the aviation sector, the amount of carbon emissions could be reduced. Similar to that of the motor industry, where electric cars produce between 17 – 30 percent less carbon emissions to that of a petrol or diesel powered car, it is believed electric airplanes can reduce carbon emissions significantly, something the high-polluting sector should be embracing.

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In a joint statement released by magniX and Harbour Air, it was claimed that “this historic flight signifies the start of the third era in aviation – the electric age.”

magniX, an Australian company, actually launched the plane at the Paris Air Show in June this year and states that the propulsion system – the companies used a DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver which has a 750-horsepower (560kW) magni500 propulsion system – enabled them to create a “clean and efficient way to power airplanes.”

It is believed that Harbour Air, a Canadian operator of seaplanes, are aiming to have an all-electric fleet of airplanes, they currently have 40 aircraft, by 2022, however this all depends on whether they secure the relevant regulatory and safety approvals.

There are many benefits of having electric airplanes with zero emissions as well as a much lower operating cost. Yet they are proving to be a bigger challenge to engineers, unlike the concept of electric trains and cars, which do not travel such long distances. Currently the plane’s batteries are only able to fly about 100 miles in between battery charging, which severely hampers the majority of flights.

The size of the motors and batteries that would be needed to not only launch an electric plane but to also keep it in the air – and for several hours at a time – would mean that it could be difficult for the planes to be flown.

However these are only minor issues that can be resolved eventually due to the rapid advancements in electric flights. In 2017 a non-commercial electric plane crossed both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans during a round the world trip.

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But will moving airplanes to electric engines actually help cut gas emissions in the aviation sector?

There has been increasing concern regarding the amount of pollution from flying and the impact it has on the planet, with many travelers aiming to reduce their carbon footprint in any way they can. For instance, many try to travel by alternative methods where possible, such as train, while others are utilizing websites that help give something back to the environment – such as BedandTree who plant a tree each time you book your travel through them – while many businesses now hold their cross-country business meetings via video conferencing apps – such as Zoom – therefore removing their impact on the environment completely.

Swiss bank UBS released a survey recently showing that flyers are trying to reduce their air travel due to their environmental concerns, with “flygskam” or “flight shame” spreading throughout the country. And in the United Kingdom it has been claimed that by 2050 the biggest source of air pollution will be from aviation.

However, the prospect of using electric airplanes for long haul flights continues to be a major challenge for those in the aviation sector.

Although there has been a significant advancement in generators, power distribution, electrical motors and controls, battery technology has not advanced as much.

With this in mind, the electric airplane we saw recently in Canada can fly around 100 miles (160km) on lithium battery power, according to AFP.

magniX chief executive Roei Ganzarski commented that “the [flight] range now is not where we’d love it to be, but it’s enough to start the revolution.” He has also questioned ‘’if people are willing to drive an hour to work, why not fly 15 minutes to work?”

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Introduces a Wrangler that Runs on Diesel

For many years, Jeep has searched for a diesel engine suitable to power its legendary Wrangler, with no success. However, the recent announcement of the Wrangler EcoDiesel shows that the auto manufacturer has finally realized its longtime goal of producing a diesel-powered Wrangler, though critics are complaining that diesel engines produce too many harmful emissions, particularly at a time when the world needs to drastically cut back on carbon emissions to curb the effects of climate change. Nevertheless, Jeep is intent on producing a vehicle that meets its customers’ requests for a Wrangler with the power and torque that a diesel engine affords, and the company’s branding, as well as advances in emissions-reduction technology, suggest that Jeep wants to position the Wrangler EcoDiesel as an environmentally-friendly solution.

Customers have long yearned for Jeep to produce a Wrangler capable of performing difficult tasks requiring a lot of power, such as pulling stumps and climbing steep and uneven terrain. Thanks to several years of work performed by engineers employed at the company, Jeep is confident that they can produce a vehicle which both offers the power of a diesel engine and meets increasingly-stringent environmental standards. Fiat Chrysler of America, the company that owns Jeep, has already passed the required certification to begin selling the vehicle in America, which they hope to do before Christmas. That being said, Fiat Chrysler has a history of illegally subverting emissions tests with fraudulent software, resulting in executives from the company facing fraud charges.

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While diesel engines burn fuel more efficiently and produce less carbon dioxide than gas-powered engines, they also emit more nitrogen oxides, which pose a threat to human health as they can cause asthma and other lung issues. However, diesel engines remain the clear choice when substantial power is needed, though electric motors can also prove to be quite powerful. According to engineers from Fiat Chrysler, the EcoDiesel is roughly 30 percent more fuel efficient than the standard Wrangler, which means an enhanced efficiency of an additional seven or eight miles per gallon.

This is not the first time Fiat Chrysler has included an EcoDiesel engine in one of its vehicles. The company included such an engine in Ram pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees as early as 2014, but these vehicles were pulled from the market after they were found to violate emissions standards. To make matters worse, these early implementations of the EcoDiesel engine were prone to system leaks and cracks, resulting in a forced recall of 108,000 vehicles. As a result of these failures, Fiat Chrysler has fallen behind Ford and General Motors in the diesel truck market, though these competitors have had issues of their own with regards to emissions and reliability.

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The first iteration of the engine to be used in the new Wrangler, the Gen III EcoDiesel, was included in the Ram 1500 pickup released a few months ago. The engine is a turbocharged V6 that displaces 3.0 liters, and includes a five-gallon diesel exhaust fuel canister in order to comply with emissions standards. This canister must be serviced every 10,000 miles, at roughly the same time that an oil change is needed. According to Jeep, the new Wrangler should be able to go over 500 miles on a single tank of fuel, beating the range of the gas-powered Wrangler by 200 miles.

The new Wrangler only comes with an automatic transmission and in the four-door variant, as Jeep concluded there was insufficient demand to sell other vehicle configurations. And the Wrangler EcoDiesel is not cheap, as the most basic version starts at roughly $40,000. But for Jeep fans looking for an efficient, extremely powerful compact SUV, the Wrangler EcoDiesel has the potential to make for a perfect choice. Only time will tell, however, how well this unique new entry to the Jeep family will sell, and whether the innovative EcoDiesel engine can live up to the ambitious promises of the engineers who created it.

Paris Police

Massive Paris Police Protest Sets Records

On Wednesday, roughly 27,000 police officers in Paris took to the streets to protest what they claimed were bad working conditions, a lack of respect from the general public, and a string of suicides in their ranks this year. The protest was the largest police demonstration in almost 20 years, and officers wore plain clothes, as the law does not allow them to protest in uniform. Although the protest complained about not being respected by the general public, the police officer’s public image in France has suffered as a result of the protests, which have drawn criticism about how harsh their tactics are. Protestors claim that the high number of suicides among police officers, totalling more than 50 this year alone, are a consequence of the intense degree of stress and public scrutiny associated with the profession.

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According to a French parliamentary inquiry, the French police are affected by a number of problems which lower morale, such as unpaid overtime and poor working conditions. It’s not uncommon to find anti-police graffiti in France, and anti-police slogans have grown popular among crowds. The protestors claim though they are obligated to provide public service, they get nothing but scorn and derision from the public, making the job untenable and leading to the conditions that resulted in the tragic suicides of several dozen officers.

For a number of reasons, the police in France differ fundamentally from the police in the United States and other countries. For one, they don’t walk a beat, and instead the police are a national force, which uses aggression to handle conflict but otherwise doesn’t often interact with citizens. This style of work hasn’t done favors for the police force, who are sometimes taunted with encouragements of suicide and shot with rubber bullets. Although the government has promised psychiatric intervention to address the problem of rampant suicides, little other action has been taken to address the underlying causes of the crisis.

Although protests are fairly ubiquitous in France, they are generally uncommon among police officers, and as such the recent protest highlights the severity of the bad working conditions police have been complaining about. Although the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has promised more money and hires for the police, this did little to quell the concerns of protestors. A government plan to revise pensions for police officers was criticized for jeopardizing the unique retirement benefits enjoyed by police officers.

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The police officers’ protest comes in the aftermath of, and in some ways as a response to, the Yellow Vest Movement earlier this year which became violent after 13 consecutive weekends of demonstrations. The movement, which protests the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, started as a response to fuel taxes and other environmental policies that reduced the standard of living for the French population. Among the demands of the Yellow Vest protestors are the resignation of Macron, an increase in the French minimum wage, an end to austerity measures, an improved standard of living, greater transparency and accountability in the government, and better government services for rural areas, among other goals. While these protests are ongoing, the French government has made some concessions to protestors, including the cancellation of the fuel tax and the elimination of a tax on overtime and end-of-year bonuses.

The Yellow Vest protests have led to the deaths of 11 people, some of whom were protestors killed in traffic accidents while blocking roads, with an additional 4,000 people injured. The movement is a populist and economic one, focused on reforming the government to reduce the cost of living for the middle-class. Some protests have become major riots which have been described as the most violent ones in France since 1968. The intensity and size of the protests has led to a large-scale response from the police, who wear military-style riot gear, which has intensified criticism and public distrust of the police force. Both the Yellow Vest movement and the recent police protest signal a tremendous degree of social unrest among France’s citizenry, which is a trait shared in many countries around the world in the current global political climate.

Featured image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kristoffer-trolle/25037207098