Oil Companies Want to Eliminate Their Own Carbon Emissions

According to a Vice article, the largest six oil companies announced a large initiative to eliminate their own carbon emissions using carbon capture and storage (CCS) off the shores of the UK. The way CCS works is by “siphon(ing) off the CO2 emissions from industrial facilities and pipe them into a saline aquifer beneath the bed of the North Sea”, where they would theoretically remain forever. If these efforts are successful, the UK could eliminate half of its carbon emissions. It seems too good to be true, which is why many are skeptical to CCS’s true environmental benefits. Carbon capture and storage critics argue that adopting this technique would only keep oil companies in power without much change to the actual root of the problem. Others site the large amounts of money it would need to make these machines and train employees. Instead of funneling this money into CCS, critics suggest shifting focus into energy efficient sources to replace coal plants in general. “According to the Financial Times, around $900 billion – about one-third of the value of big oil firms – would evaporate if governments attempted to adhere to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature target” suggesting oil companies could be the true benefactors of CCS. It is an interesting conversation and one that we must act upon sooner rather than later if we want to save our planet.

Carbon Emissions Are Down 17%

Researchers from the Nature Climate Change have released information that in April of 2019 global CO2 emissions had dropped by 17%  and in some places like the US and UK, these numbers have fallen by a third. This is all in part to the world hitting pause on everyday life due to COVID19. Going forward, even if some restrictions are lifted researchers project a 7% drop in overall carbon emissions by the end of the year, which is more than a 3% decrease from the 2008 financial crisis. According to climate scientist, Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, “CO2 stays in the atmosphere a long, long time, even though we had a massive change in emissions, that did not affect the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere very much. It’s small compared to what we’ve put in the atmosphere for decades.” In order for scientists to measure the earth’s CO2 emissions they had to study mountains of data and statistics about car traffic, electricity usage, airline flights, and manufacturing, in order to build a global picture of how the pandemic has cut emissions. Satellites cannot be programed to receive CO2 emissions in real-time in orbit and to make matters trickier each country has its own unique carbon emission output. However grim our current global situation is, this research shows that not all of us have to commute to the office every day and that a likely future of working from home might be in the cards. Possibly not all events like conferences have to be in person either. Over the last few months, NYC has closed several miles of streets off to cars, allowing more room for pedestrians to safely practice social distancing. If we continue to do this in other major cities, the outcome will have a lasting positive impact in the long run. Looking back at the 2018 financial crisis, the Obama administration pumped funding into renewable energy sources, why can’t we do the same in this crisis?

1 Trillion Trees

To combat the ever looming climate change, a new campaign is gaining traction: planting 1 trillion trees. A new ambitious project under the World Economic Forum launched in January called 1t.org has set to achieve this goal. If achieved, this would be a tremendous step forward in combating climate change. According to Fast Company, “a 2019 study estimated that restoring forests with around 1.2 trillion trees could store more than 200 gigatons of carbon”. Currently, the world looses a U.K. sized chunk of forest every year, sometimes for the sake of products such as hamburgers and shampoo. One of the problems is cutting down trees more rapidly than they are able to mature. In some cases, forests are able to regenerate on their own by placing fences to safe guard them. It is more important to keep existing trees safe than planting new ones. For example, the Amazon forest to protect young trees from cattle. Another problem lies in efforts of monitoring trees daily, which often times falls short. Fast Company estimates that “planting 60 billion trees will cost at least $4 billion a year to finish the campaign within 20 years”. To combat the high cost, governments could implement incentives similar to those in the solar industry, where landowners quickly plant and maintain trees. Pachama is a startup that uses drones and satellite imaging to track how trees grow and their carbon storage.  According to Justin Adams, the director of the Tropical Forest Alliance at the World Economic Forum, “we’re scrambling to really sort of figure out what are the workstreams that need to be in place to actually measure those commitments, track progress against those, so that by . . . next year, we will be able to talk more explicitly about how that would all work.”  There is no doubt that this initiative has sparked momentum throughout the world as we continue to combat climate change.

How Gen Z is Dealing With a Looming Climate Apocalypse

Vice recently sat down with 9 Gen Z’ers to discuss the innvitable climate apocalypse. It seems like in this day and age, only doing the bare minimum when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint is not enough and often times leads to “eco-anxiety – the stress associated with facing a climate crisis and uncertainty about the future”. 

Recently, there have been enormous outcries from Gen Z’ers with a sense of urgency to act now for the future of our planet. Many of the interviewees have changed their diets (many becoming vegans and vegetarians) and waste consumptions (eliminating packaged goods and bicycling as a form of transportation) in efforts to make a change. However, the majority still experience eco-anxiety when thinking of our world vanishing before their eyes. Most feel paralyzed with sadness and grief of not being able to do enough or completely overwhelmed as this is a much larger issue. In many cases, as children they were exposed to an environment that sparked eco-anxiety, once they understood the consequences of the world’s waste. “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” summarizes the exact steps we, as a society need to take in order to protect our planet.

It is hard to not get stuck in a nihilist fashion of thinking that days on this planet are numbered, so why do anything or bother at all. The problem begins as a refusal to accept there is a need for any of this change, be it on a personal, social, and global aspect. Change can only happen with shake-ups in power through activism and voicing these concerns. According to an article published in The Nation, as Gen Z comes closer to the voting age in 2020 they could force many politicians into dealing with climate issues compared to any previous generations. A recent study found “42 percent of millennial Republicans recognize that climate change is caused by humans, while only 30 percent of conservative boomers do” which would profoundly impact choosing the right candidate on either side. Furthermore, climate change was ranked among the top 10 issues that would influence their decision in the upcoming election. With recent public polls showing many becoming increasingly more anxious about the inevitable climate apocalypse, failing to address this on the political fronts will hurt a party’s ability to succeed. Gen Z have stepped up to take the reigns and continue to be a driving force within the climate change conversation.  

New Apple Watch Updates Will Protect Your Ears Too

With the new rollout of the Apple Watch updates, users will be able to track their activity trends over time, get alerts to harmful levels of ambient noises, as well as track their menstrual cycle. However small these updates may seem, they actually place a significant importance on turning a user’s Apple Watch as the control center of their health. Since its launch in 2015, Apple has made quite the improvements to its watches that in turn has made it one of the best health and fitness trackers out on the market. Other trackers such as Garmin and FitBit provide dozens of tracking models, whereas Apple is able to pack its few devices with a plethora of features that make it so appealing. Until now, for users that wanted to track their menstrual cycles FitBit has been the obvious choice and for those who want to monitor long-term fitness trends, Garmin has been theirs; with Apple’s expansion making the choice of which tracker to purchase will be far more difficult. The stand out feature on the new Watch will be its noise-monitoring capability. In the US alone, hearing loss affects tens of millions and is slow and gradual; the ability to avoid it with just one alert from a user’s wrist can decrease that number exponentially. It is of no surprise that Apple wants to be the main contender in monitoring personal health and we can expect other health developments in the very near future.

Here Lies iPod Nano and Shuffle

After more than 400 million products sold, Apple has pulled the iPod Nano and Shuffle off its website. The iPod Touch can still be found online however its more similar to an iPhone than its standalone music playing cousin. RIP to a generation of click wheel whirring and waiting for iTunes to sync. I think we can all remember the rise of the iPod, correlating with sites such as Napster and LimeWire, because we well know no one had that kind of money to download several hundred songs. No one will argue its convenient size and ability to create playlists that I usually ended up skipping 10 songs at a time to find the one I was in the mood for. This beginning definitely helped urge in numerous streaming services and algorithms that we all use now that have left the iPod to the curb. The remaining iPods will be sold in stores at least for a little bit longer for those of us who want to relive the glory days.

Tinder Is Coming To a Desktop Near You

Tinder is trading in its signature swipe left for a send message. The company announced that it will be pushing for more dialogue as opposed to mindless swiping in an efforts of finding potential suiters. Its new desktop app will feature a messaging panel that takes up 1/3 of the screen at all times while the user toggles his/her keys to swipe through pictures and profiles as well. This new “talk more, swipe less” method is a more meaningful way of creating relationships based on dialogue rather than instant gratification. Currently, Tinder operates on a trigger, action, and reward basis; hence boredom becomes a trigger, swipe an action, and reward is your libido’s satisfaction or Tinder match. In the desktop app, the swipe is replaced with a meaningful message that is rewarded with a meaningful replay, rather than another mindless swipe. Less regret, more genuine connection. Now to see if Tinder becomes the new OKCupid or eHarmony of the dating world.

What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?

According to a new theory dinosaurs may have become extinct because of how long it took for them to hatch. The study used fossilized dinosaur teeth from embryos to gage a time frame of six months, as opposed to other birds which  lasts from 11-85 days. In order to acquire this number, scientists used CT scans of “von Ebner” line patterns on the fossilized teeth. These patterns are similar to tree rings and happen to be present in all animals. Due to this long incubation, the dinosaur eggs were exposed to predators and environmental disturbances and simultaneously was linked to their extinction.



Composition Notebook Kickstarter

I am a sucker for anything paper and this is why I chose the Composition Notebook Kickstarter from designer Aron Fay of Pentagram who set out to redesign the classic composition notebook which has been around in its recognizable marble form since the early nineteenth century. Fay set out to recreate the iconic notebook into a sophisticated and elegant device for the modern day human. His result is a striking minimalistic design, with some ruled and some unlined sections of the book. When opened, it has the ability to be laid flat on its spine for easier use. The paper is also thicker than normal paper in composition notebooks, allowing for a wide range of pens and pencils, perfect for the 21st century.