Endangered river dolphin species’ numbers on the rise

Once believed to number in the thousands, the dolphins of the Mekong River were devastated by war, hunting, and indiscriminate net fishing.



Driving into a cleaner future

Perhaps an answer has come in the advent of “clean cars”. These can be defined as vehicles that are electrically propelled using either batteries or fuel cells that run on on-board hydrogen, and often a hybrid of the two. The idea of electrical cars has been mooted for years, but it is only now, with the proven effects of climate change, that enough is being done to make them a viable commercial prospect.

While only around 500 electric cars were registered per month during the first half of 2014, this has now risen to 5 000 per month during 2018)

Indeed, change is already upon us. Monthly figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders suggest that electric car sales in the United Kingdom have risen significantly over the past few years. While only around 500 electric cars were registered per month during the first half of 2014, this has now risen to an average of 5 000 per month during 2018).

Yet their production is not straightforward and many challenges face both producers and consumers before they can be considered mainstream. The first target, as Mr Yasuji Shibata, Toyota Motor Corporation’s General Manager of the Evaluation Department for Electrically Propelled Vehicles, makes clear, “is to develop the electrically propelled vehicle to the same level of performance and reliability as conventional vehicles within a reasonable budget”.

Read entire post Driving into a cleaner future | Robert Bartram | ISO.org

The green heart of Costa Rica

In 2015, Costa Rica hit a remarkable milestone when it generated the country’s electrical power from 100 % renewable energy sources during 285 consecutive days. This was another feather in the cap for our small Central American republic, which already emerged as a leader in ecotourism in the late 1990s.

The Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) has since revealed that the country had 300 days in which renewables met its entire demand for electricity, beating its own previous record.

You might be tempted to ask how a country of just 51 000 km2 and five million inhabitants managed such a feat. Helped by its geographical situation and its geological and topographical conditions, Costa Rica focused on its most abundant resource: water. The country’s power mix is dominated by hydropower (75.3 %), but also includes geothermal (12.84 %), wind (10.08 %), biomass (0.77 %) and solar (0.01 %), according to ICE statistics.

Read entire post The green heart of Costa Rica | ISO.org

Maine becomes the first state to ban Styrofoam

The law, which will go into effect January 1, 2021, prohibits restaurants, caterers, coffee shops and grocery stores from using the to-go foam containers because they cannot be recycled in Maine.

The law prohibits restaurants, caterers, coffee shops and grocery stores from using the to-go foam containers because they cannot be recycled

Maine has become the first state to take such a step as debate about banning plastic bags or other disposable products is spreading across the nation.

While states like New York and California have banned single-use plastic bags, others such as Tennessee and Florida have made it illegal for local municipalities to regulate them.

Read entire post Maine becomes the first state to ban Styrofoam | Gianluca Mezzofiore | CNN

‘You did not act in time’: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs

Greta Thunberg took her climate message to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Tuesday. The 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist told a packed room that her future and the futures of her fellow children had been ‘sold’.

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

Read entire post ‘You did not act in time’: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs | Greta Thunberg | The Guardian

Thunderstorms 101

Learn how thunderstorms form, what causes lightning and thunder, and how these violent phenomena help balance the planet’s energy and electricity.

Urban resilience: Why should we pay more attention?

Think cities — how they form, prosper, interconnect, and yield exponential gains on all fronts. There are numerous reasons why cities are created — colonial ambitions; sea-connectivity; part of ancient routes of trades, including slavery; centre for learning; economic growth; sites of administrative and cultural centres; and religious importance. Thus, there are reasons galore why cities are formed but very few on why they disappear at the drop of a hat.

However, climatic events can cause catastrophe to cities that can render them grounded in minutes

Change in the structure of national and local economy, poor infrastructure, rising pollution levels and lack of physical safety leads to decline of cities at a glacial pace. However, climatic events can cause catastrophe to cities that can render them grounded in minutes. The floods of Mumbai and Chennai, Nepal Earthquake, Uttarakhand floods are few such instances where our cities, many hundreds of years old, became paralysed and inhospitable. Cities are at real risks.

By one estimate, every year, around 46 million people in cities are at risk from flooding from storm surges in the East Asia region alone. Many coastal cities, particularly in Asia, are staring at the risk of submersion due to rising sea levels. More than 1,000 people died and 45 million people suffered losses in terms of loss of livelihood, homes, and services in 2017 when severe floods hit south-east Asian cities, including Dhaka, Mumbai and Chennai

Read entire post Urban resilience: Why should we pay more attention? | DEVASHISH DHAR | OrfOnline

Climate research offers coffee farmers hope for their crops

The plant thrives in a narrow climate range at a certain elevation on the country’s mountainous slopes. Changing rainfall, rising temperature, and a fungus called “coffee rust” is affecting the crop and the livelihoods of indigenous farmers in the region.

However, scientists think they’ve found a way to ensure climate models are correct, which might help these farmers adapt. Filmmaker Mari Cleven interviews Diego Pons and Kevin Anchukaitis about their research in this informative short.

A standard for water reuse brings hope for water scarcity

By 2030, water scarcity will have displaced between 24 and 700 million people, according to UN Water, the United Nations coordinating body on water issues. World Water Day is focusing on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which means ensuring access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. What is keeping us from getting there and how can ISO standards make a difference?

The current situation also means that 4.5 billion people still lack safely managed sanitation services, particularly in rural areas

Although water covers 70 % of the earth’s surface, only a fraction of it is freshwater. The available drinking water is unevenly distributed across the globe, polluted or disputed, which means billions of people don’t have access to clean water each day. The current situation also means that 4.5 billion people still lack safely managed sanitation services, particularly in rural areas.

Celebrated each year on 22 March, World Water Day puts the spotlight on the importance of freshwater. This year’s edition, “Leaving no one behind”, adapts the central promise of Agenda 2030 that progress achieved through sustainable development should be available to all.

Read entire post A standard for water reuse brings hope for water scarcity | Catherine Infante | ISO.org

Why natural disasters are getting more expensive

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, and more costly. According to one estimate, natural disasters caused about $340 billion in damage across the world in 2017. And insurers had to pay out a record $138 billion. The $5 trillion global insurance industry plays a huge role in the U.S. economy. Insurance spending in 2017 made up about 11 percent of America’s GDP.

Natural disasters cost the USA $91 billion in 2018, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report’s findings are a sign that the changing climate and increasing numbers of extreme weather events are having a significant economic impact, even as the Trump administration continues to undo Obama-era climate regulations.

Read entire post Why natural disasters are getting more expensive | CNBC

Daylight Saving Time 101

About 70 countries around the world practice Daylight Saving Time. Find out who came up with the concept of Daylight Saving Time, where the time change was first enacted nationwide, and how some countries are attempting to eliminate it.

A forest garden with 500 edible plants could lead to a sustainable future

This type of agroforestry mimics natural ecosystems and uses the space available in a sustainable way. UK-based Martin Crawford is one of the pioneers of forest gardening. Starting out with a flat field in 1994, his land has been transformed into a woodland and serves as an educational resource for others interested in forest gardening.

This short film by Thomas Regnault focuses on Crawford’s forest garden, which is abundant, diverse, edible, and might be one answer to the future of food systems.