Posts

How The Real Estate Industry Is Working To Combat Climate Change

Real estate accounts for nearly 40% of the energy-related carbon emissions in the world. Investors are now focusing on cutting emissions to net zero by refurbishing old properties and avoiding new projects.

This Company Is Using New Technology With Nature To Combat Excessive AC Use

The heat waves in the US have become more and more common as climate change has worsened in recent years. SkyCool Systems is a relatively new company attempting to combat the harmful greenhouse gases emitted from excessive air conditioning use throughout the country through new technology. 

“Our planet naturally cools itself by sending heat out in the form of infrared light or radiation. We’re using that effect to essentially radiate heat out during the day and at night, even under direct sunlight.” 

Eli Goldstein is SkyCool’s co-founder and CEO who explained that this process is known as radiative cooling. SkyCool uses rooftop panels made using nanotechnology and optical film that radiates infrared light and cools itself in the process. 

Embed from Getty Images

According to the company these panels work in the opposite way that traditional solar panels do by reflecting about 97% of the sunlight that hits them, and cooling the surface below. 

The SkyCool model involves an embedded network of pipes that are below the panels. These pipes are filled with water that’s kept cool by the panels and then can flow into a refrigeration or air conditioning system. The goal is to take pressure off the AC or fridge cooling systems which can use a lot of energy. 

The panels also cool themselves naturally and don’t require any external power to function, which helps the entire house use less electricity during times of extreme heat. 

Jesus Valenzuela is the store manager at a grocery outlet store in Stockton, California which recently adopted the SkyCool system technology. 

“After we had our SkyCool system installed, our electricity company increased their rates on us. We actually didn’t see our bill go up at all. In fact, we saw it go just a little bit down. I estimate that the panels have saved the store roughly $3,000 a month.”

Goldstein’s co-founder and UCLA professor Aaswath Raman is one of many scientists who have been researching the benefits of radiative cooling for years now. Raman is an expert in the field who claims that while several similar solutions have appeared in recent years, there have also been challenges, like how well the technology works without sunlight. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Our technology works best in hot, dry climates where the sky is clear, so when you have clouds, that blocks that radiative cooling window. In the same way that [carbon dioxide] blocks light and sort of has that heat trapping effect, water vapor also will block infrared light.”

“The biggest obstacle to making the technology ubiquitous is its relatively high cost. Most radiative cooling solutions suffer from a high manufacturing cost and large-scale production limits,” researchers at China’s Fudan University wrote in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Goldstein claims that SkyCool’s panels do cost more than solar panels, but didn’t disclose the actual cost. 

“New technologies like radiative cooling are often more expensive. People are very sensitive to first cost, and so that is another barrier to getting new things out there.”

“Much of that is because of low production volumes. Scaling up production could help bring the cost down, particularly for developing countries in Asia and Africa where we hope to eventually expand. For now, we’re focused on commercial applications of the technology, though we hope to start installing panels on the roofs of individual homes.”

“We’re just excited to be able to use this new technology for good,” Goldstein said.

Wildfires

 California Sheriff’s Office Issues Intense Wildfire Warning For Northern Residents

Thousands of residents in Northern California were forced to evacuate their homes this week as US Fire officials continue to fight around 96 large and active fires raging through 2 million acres of forest land. 

The River Fire is what officials are calling the fire that has now raged in Nevada and Placer counties in California. An estimated 40 building structures have been damaged or completely destroyed since Wednesday, when the fires initially began. CalFire Deputy Chief Jim Hudson claimed that the fire has already torn through 1,400 acres of land and was uncontainable Wednesday evening. 

Embed from Getty Images

Nearly 2,400 residents are under evacuation in Placer County alone, and in Nevada County 4,200 residents have now been placed under an evacuation order, according to Sheriff Shannan Moon. 

California’s largest active wildfire — the Dixie Fire — has already torn through Greenville, a town in Plumas County, also in the state’s northern region. “The Dixie Fire pushed into Greenville Wednesday and early indications are there has been significant damage,” California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spokesman Brian Ferguson said. 

“Right now, there are still a lot of people unfortunately in Greenville that did not evacuate. And so, we are having to deal with that … and get all those folks out,” said Jake Cagle, the operations sections chief for California’s Incident Management Team.

Embed from Getty Images

Currently there are 11 large active fires throughout California and over 420,000 acres of land have been destroyed. Wildfires throughout the US have been fueled by extreme drought, global warming, and low humidity. 

The US Forest Service recently announced it will no longer be using the “let it burn” strategy when it comes to wildfires. Even Governor Gavin Newsom recently spoke out against this strategy in a call to President Joe Biden where he claimed the Forest Service has “a culture that too often is wait and see.”

“We need your help to change the culture in terms of the suppression strategies in this climate literally and figuratively to be more aggressive on these federal fires,” Newsom told Biden.

“The 2021 fire year is different from any before. In short, we are in a national crisis. At times like these, we must anchor to our core values, particularly safety,” said US Forest Service Fire Chief Randy Moore.

“We are in a ‘triage mode’ where our primary focus must be on fires that threaten communities and infrastructure. There is a finite amount of firefighting resources available that must be prioritized and fires will not always get the resources that might be requested,” Moore wrote. 

Climate

Climate Emergency Scientists Claim The Earth Is In Dire Need Of Our Help 

The Covid-19 pandemic initially helped combat climate change in America due to the lack of human activity in major metropolitans, where things like pollution are common. Now, climate scientists are warning that the climate crisis has worsened exponentially within the past decade, and this year was no different. 

In November of 2019, an article co-signed by over 11,000 scientists was published in a journal that declared a global climate emergency. This Tuesday, the same journal released an update in which they claimed a few improvements have been made to our environment thanks to the pandemic, but ultimately much more systemic work needs to be done if we want to see a real change in our planet’s health. 

Embed from Getty Images

“A major lesson from COVID-19 is that even colossally decreased transportation and consumption are not nearly enough and that, instead, transformational system changes are required, and they must rise above politics.” 

“Given the impacts we are seeing at roughly 1.25 degrees Celsius (°C) warming, combined with the many reinforcing feedback loops and potential tipping points, massive-scale climate action is urgently needed,” the article reads.

Ecology professor William Ripple and forest ecosystem researcher Christopher Wold were some of the lead authors on the article update, and they cited catastrophic flooding, wildfires, and record-breaking heat waves that have been impacting America. 

The data published shows a Covid-related dip in air travel led to a decrease in the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, however, record levels of methane and carbon dioxide were still recorded in the atmosphere, which has increased acidification in the Earth’s oceans, and led to the melting of major ice sheets. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Global gross domestic product dropped by 3.6% in 2020 but is projected to rebound to an all-time high,” Ripple said in a statement. 

“Likely because of the pandemic, fossil fuel consumption has gone down since 2019, as have carbon dioxide emissions and airline travel levels. All of these are expected to significantly rise with the opening of the economy.

The article update sent a very similar message as its original, calling on the government for an elimination of fossil fuels, air pollutants, a switch to mostly plant-based diets, a more sustainable economy, and a means of stabilizing the human population. 

“As long as humanity’s pressure on the Earth system continues, attempted remedies will only redistribute the pressure. But by halting the unsustainable exploitation of natural habitats, we can reduce zoonotic disease transmission risks, protect carbon stocks and conserve biodiversity, all at the same time,”  Wolf said. 

“We need to quickly change how we’re doing things, and new climate policies should be part of COVID-19 recovery plans wherever possible. It’s time for us to join together as a global community with a shared sense of cooperation, urgency and equity.”

Government In Dubai Is Artificially Creating Rain To Combat Extreme Heat Wave

Temperatures in Dubai have regularly been surpassing 115 degrees Fahrenheit, so the government has decided to take matters into their own hands by artificially creating rain to cool the metropolitan area. 

Scientists working in the United Arab Emirates are using electrical charges from drones to manipulate the weather and force rainfall across the dry and desert areas of Dubai. Meteorological officials released video footage showing the rain in Ras al Khaimah and several other hot regions. 

Embed from Getty Images

The method is known as “cloud seeding” and so far is proving to be successful when it comes to minimizing drought conditions in a given area. This technology could become extremely useful in other parts of the world where climate change and extreme heat temperatures are destroying the environment. 

The United Arab Emirates has reported that they receive about 4 inches of rain every year. The government is hoping that if they regularly use this technology to generate rain, it could help alleviate some of the damage caused by the annual heat waves. 

Scientists create these storms by using drones which hit clouds in the sky with electricity. This electricity then creates large raindrops within the clouds that become heavy, and fall, thus creating a man made rainstorm. 

“It’s moving to think that the rainfall technology I saw today, which is still being developed, may someday support countries in water-scarce environments like the UAE,” Mansoor Abulhoul, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the U.K., said.

Embed from Getty Images

“Of course, our ability to manipulate weather is puny compared to the forces of nature. We are mindful that we have a big role to play, by working with global partners to understand and help prevent the worst effects of climate change.” 

Back in 2017, the researchers were awarded a $1.5 million funding grant for what they refer to as “Rain Enhancement Science.” So far the UAE has invested up to $15 million in creating man-made rainstorms. 

“The water table is sinking drastically in UAE, and the purpose of this is to try to help with rainfall,” University of Reading professor and meteorologist Maarten Ambaum said.

The UAE has become one of the first countries to use this technology, and at least 8 states throughout the US are experimenting with different versions of this technology to combat climate change.

Climate Experts Worried About Misinformation On Fox News’ 24-Hour Weather Channel 

Fox News Media announced that they would be launching their own weather channel this year, an announcement that has many climate experts worried considering how often Fox News reporters criticize science and spreads misinformation regarding climate change. 

Fox Weather will be “a 24-hour channel devoted to all things meteorological, providing cutting-edge display technology with forecasting experts surrounding every major weather event,” according to the press release from Fox Media. 

Embed from Getty Images

Over the years, hosts on Fox News have consistently undermined the idea that climate change caused by human activity is an actual issue worth fighting for. So the fact that the same company that owns that outlet which hires journalists who ignore the actual scientific facts of what global warming is, is creating a weather channel, has many worried. 

“Fox News has access to and is highly trusted by a wide range of conservative Americans – which is precisely the audience that least well understands the serious threats that climate change poses to the safety, security and health of all Americans,” said Edward Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication.

“If Fox chooses to inform viewers about the realities of climate change and its impacts on the weather, it could be a game changer. Conversely, if it opts to perpetuate misinformation to advance political goals, it will be a huge disservice to all Americans.”

Last year Fox News host Tucker Carlson discussed how all the forest and wildfires the west coast has endured within the past two years were not caused by climate change. Carlson’s colleague Laura Ingraham also doubled-down on this ideology by insisting that the planet has a “natural cycle of warming, and climate activists like Greta Thunberg have been brainwashed, and the left’s obsession with climate is a political tool.” 

Embed from Getty Images

“The danger of Fox News running a weather channel is that if they pervert news about the weather anything like how they’ve perverted news about climate change and energy politics, millions of Americans will be further misled about this crisis,” said Geoffrey Supran, research fellow at Harvard University’s department of the history of science.

“It’s been shown that the most important predictors of public support for climate action are understanding that this crisis is real, human-caused, serious and solvable.”

“If Fox News Media’s weather channel downplays the links between global warming and extreme weather, it will only solidify their viewers’ existing biases against climate action. Fox News has been a powerful engine of climate misinformation for years – so powerful, in fact, that its influence has been named the ‘Fox News Effect’,” Maibach said.

One of our studies showed that before Fox News began its attack on the Green New Deal, most conservatives supported its core policy proposals. Six months later – after Fox had relentlessly attacked it and its sponsors – support for those proposals dropped to near zero among frequent Fox viewers.”

“I don’t expect that Fox News will change its ways or its views about climate change anytime soon, but Fox Weather has the opportunity to get the facts right. Let’s hope it chooses to,” Maibach said.

Clean Environment Concept

America’s National Science Academy Proposes $100 Million Geoengineering Research Program 

The nation’s national science academy recently claimed that the US should establish a multi-million-dollar research program specifically for looking into solar geoengineering. The group recently released a report that recommends the country put between $100-200 million into a five year program that would work to understand the “feasibility of interventions to dim the sun, the risk of harmful unintended consequences, and how such technology could be governed in an ethical way.”

The National Academies of Science (NAS) said that cutting fossil fuels emissions should be the nation’s number one priority when it comes to tackling climate change. However, the lack of action from our world leaders within the past decade has created an even more damaged environment to improve. 

The report claims that there are three types of solar geoengineering that would help heat escape the Earth’s atmosphere and thus cool the planet overall: “injecting tiny reflective particles into the stratosphere to block sunlight; using the particles to make low-lying clouds over the oceans more reflective; and thinning high-altitude cirrus clouds. Major volcanic eruptions are already known to cool the climate by pumping particles high into the atmosphere.

Embed from Getty Images

Geoengineers are already arguing that the impact of climate change is already so large that every option must be explored if the Earth wants any chance at surviving the next century. Professor Marcia McNutt is the president of the Academy who recently spoke to the media about the importance of this overdue research. 

“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, solar geoengineering needs to be studied further. But just as with advances in fields such as artificial intelligence or gene editing, science needs to engage the public to ask not just can we, but should we? Questions of governance – who will decide to deploy this intervention and for how long – were as important as the scientific questions.”

Professor Chris Field of Stanford University was the chair of the committee that wrote the report, who claimed that “the US solar geoengineering program should be all about helping society make more informed decisions regarding the planet.”

“Based on all of the evidence from social science, natural science, and technology, this research program could either indicate that solar geoengineering should not be considered further, or conclude that it warrants additional effort.”

Embed from Getty Images

The report claimed that “a reasonable initial investment for this solar geoengineering research program is within a range of $100-200 million total over five years. The program would be a small fraction of the US budget for climate change research and should not shift the focus from other projects.”

“The program should be designed to move forward in a socially responsible manner with researchers following a code of conduct, research catalogued in a public registry, and public engagement undertaken. Outdoor experiments should be subject to appropriate governance including impact assessments,” according to the report. 

The academy claims that the program should also include scientific research regarding the possible climate outcomes that geoengineering could have on society and its many ecosystems. “Social dimensions cited for research included domestic and international conflict and cooperation, and justice, ethics, and equity.”

Professor Gernot Wagner of New York University said: “The report’s focus on research and research governance is important for one simple reason: the current discussion is – and should be – all about research into solar geoengineering, certainly not about deploying the technology, where, if anything, a firm moratorium would be appropriate.”

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.

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.”

Embed from Getty Images

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

“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. 

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.

Embed from Getty Images

“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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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.