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This section of SustainabiliTank.info – REAL WORLD’S NEWS – will be carrying short notes with information not based on the daily press of the United States.

We will not attempt here to write lengthy articles, neither will we editorialize on why the information did not see light in the US.

If readers find other material relevant to sustainable development that was not published, please forward it to us at: Submissions@SustainabiliTank.info


 
Real World’s News:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Friday, May 12, 2017 ,The Manhattan Greentech Investors Forum, led by Dr. Gelvin Srevenson, and hosted by Sidney Austin LLP, met to listen to the presentation of Dr. James Magnuss Who described the use of “Vertically-variable Ocean Sail Systems” (VOSS) Sails that do not look at all like those conventionally used in wind powered sail-ships.

Present were gentlemen from Africa who seem to have an in with Chinese interests that pay
attention to innovative ideas.

The Magnuss VOSS is a 100-foot rotating and spinning metal hollow-tower, when not in use – retractable into the ship’s hull. This tower is draped in material in a way that the spinning movement creates thrust like in the case of an airplane.

These VOSS power sources are not intended to replace the original engine – but rather to add on to what powers the ship. A ship with four VOSS towers has thus an effective added powering engine added up to its original engine.

The chief innovation here is in the retractable feature for stowing the towers below the deck
when loadig and unloading in a port.

Magnuss delivers three benefits:

(1) fuel savings of 20-35%
(2) a new means to reduce carbon emissions
(3) a patented and class-approved design of proven technology applied in a different way to
meet the needs of global shipping today.

He reminded us that fuel cost represents 60-80% of a bulk cargo ship’s operating costs and ranks among the world’s largest emitters of carbon. Considering the need to have hull space for the retractable towers VOSS sails fit best onto bulk shipping.

Currently James Magnusis looking to close a $2.7 million angel round of common equity – he offers strategic partnership and international patent expansion.

Proof of concept was verified, patents issued, tech design complete, and class approval is already in hand.

The savings have been validated by 3rd party NGOs, including Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon
War-Room and the Sustainable shipping initiative.

The Funds needed now are for proceeding with new construction projects.

If bulk transport emissions were added up globally, we heard that they would have
reached 6th place if this industry were a nation – so making a dent here is consequential.

With Dr. Magnus as CEO of the company, others involved are:

Ted Shergolis as COO – a Tech Entrepreneur
Eric Holohan as CTO – a Naval Architect
Alistair Fischbacher – Chairman ofSustainable Shipping Industries (SSI) who is the
Former General Manager of the Rio Tinto Fleet.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

I saw the following in the WSJ of today and was intrigued by the great ideas of this man, whom by the way we knew, and knew his wife as well. I thought, finally the WSJ writes about his ideas on the cost of health-care – something they really should have done a long time ago – not just now hidden in the memorial of an obituary. Oh well – how many people will search for those lines?

I tried to lift the article and post it – but neigh – the WSJ wants to be paid fr this.


William Baumol Diagnosed the Disease of Higher Health and Education Costs
Economist explained why TV sets get cheaper but hospital stays don’t

By James R. Hagerty
The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2017 10:00 a.m. ET

William Baumol made his name as an economist by explaining why the costs of health care, education and some other services rise much faster than most other things.

so, I looked it up by other ways and found the original from which the WSJ article was built:

I Found the Free exchange Blog that wrote a 2012 book review:

An incurable disease


A new book explains how health care can become both more expensive and more affordable
Sep 29th 2012


HEALTH-CARE expenditure in America is growing at a disturbing rate: in 1960 it was just over 5% of GDP, in 2011 almost 18%. By 2105 the number could reach 60%, according to William Baumol of New York University’s Stern School of Business. Incredible? It is simply the result of extrapolating the impact of a phenomenon Mr Baumol has become famous for identifying: “cost disease”. His new book* gives a nuanced diagnosis, offerings both a vision of a high-cost future and a large dose of optimism. The cost disease may be incurable, but it is also survivable—if treated correctly.

To understand the cost disease, start with a simple observation: whatever the economy’s average rate of productivity growth, some industries outpace others. Take car manufacturing. In 1913 Ford introduced assembly lines to move cars between workstations. This allowed workers, and their tools, to stay in one place, which cut the time to build a Model T car from 12 hours to less than two. As output per worker grows in such “progressive” sectors, firms can afford to increase wages.

In some sectors of the economy, however, such productivity gains are much harder to come by—if not impossible. Performing a Mozart quartet takes just as long in 2012 as it did in the late 18th century. Mr Baumol calls industries in which productivity growth is low or even non-existent “stagnant”.

Employers in such sectors face a problem: they also need to increase their wages so workers don’t defect. The result is that, although output per worker rises only slowly or not at all, wages go up as fast as they do in the rest of the economy. As the costs of production in stagnant sectors rise, firms are forced to raise prices. These increases are faster than those in sectors where productivity is improving, and faster than inflation (which blends together all the prices in the economy). So prices of goods from stagnant sectors must rise in real terms. Hence “cost disease”.

The disease is most virulent in industries where standardisation and automation are hard. The best examples are goods tailored to meet customer-specific demands, such as bespoke suits and haircuts. But Mr Baumol focuses on industries in which the cost disease is rife because human interaction is important, such as health care, education and the performing arts. Because it is often human input that makes the products of these industries valuable, cutting labour would be self-defeating.

Historical data confirm that the cost disease is real. Since the 1980s the price of university education in America has risen by 440% and the cost of medical care by 250%. For the economy as a whole, the average price and wage increases were only 110% and 150% respectively (see left-hand chart). Mr Baumol’s theory makes for scary extrapolations. America’s health-care spending as a share of GDP, for instance, is growing by around 1.4% a year. If it continued to expand at this rate for a century, it would rise to that eye-popping figure of 60% in 2105.

Although America leads the pack in medical inflation, it is not the only country that is infected. In Japan health-care spending per person grew by 5.7% a year in real terms between 1960 and 2006; in Britain it rose by 3.5% a year over the same period. Applying Mr Baumol’s logic, health-care spending in both countries could, if nothing was done about it, rise from around 10% of GDP to more than 50% in the next 100 years.

Fortunately, possibilities abound to mitigate the impact of the cost disease. Cutting waste in health care can shift down the level of spending. Though this is no cure, it does mean costs grow from a lower base when the disease inevitably takes hold. And innovation will mean that activities within the stagnant sector, like hand-delivered post, can be replaced by alternatives where productivity improvements are more likely, like texts and e-mail.

Rising costs will also encourage hard thinking about whether a personal and tailored touch is needed. If not, productivity gains are easier to find. In some areas of medicine computers now have better diagnostic skills than humans. In education lectures can be recorded, allowing star academics to teach millions. In the arts live opera performances are beamed to audiences in cinemas across the world.

A bigger slice of a much bigger pie

But that still leaves a rump of services within medicine, education and the arts that are resistant to productivity gains. For these, Mr Baumol offers his most intriguing prediction: although their costs will grow alarmingly high, they will remain affordable. In a way, the disease produces its own cure. If America’s economy grows by 2% per year (its long-term rate), it will be eight times bigger in 100 years. In addition, goods and services in innovative sectors will become much cheaper. In 1908 the average American had to work for around 4,700 hours to earn enough to buy a Model T Ford. A century later, a typical car can be had for only 1,365 hours of labour. This means that, even if health care really did eat up 60% of the pie, there would still be much more to spend on everything else (see right-hand chart).

The real problem is not the cost disease, Mr Baumol argues, but knee-jerk reactions to it. The most likely response to spiralling budgets for publicly provided medicine and education is to shift provision to the private sector. But that will not cure the underlying disease. High costs could also lead to excessive rationing, slowing development over the long term.

If it happens, such a reaction rests on a mistaken premise: that the rising costs in the stagnant sectors make people poorer. In fact, buying power is growing much faster than medicine, education and the arts are becoming dearer. Mr Baumol’s crystal ball says that in 100 years a live performance of a Mozart quartet will be vastly more expensive, but people will still be able to afford it.

————————-
* “The Cost Disease: Why Computers Get Cheaper and Health Care Doesn’t”, by William Baumol, 2012
 Economist.com

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A spokesman for the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said that he would consider replacing academic scientists with representatives from industries that the agency is supposed to regulate.

Chicago Mayor Recoups Climate Change Data Deleted From EPA Website
By Cassie Kelly, EcoWatch
08 May 17

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has his own ideas about the Trump administration taking down important climate data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

This weekend, Emanuel posted the scrubbed data on the City of Chicago’s official website to preserve the “decades of research [the agency] has done to advance the fight against climate change.” Emanuel said he plans to develop the site further in the coming weeks.

Follow EcoWatch @EcoWatch

#EPA Takes Hatchet to Website rbl.ms/2qpaIma @ClimateNexus @climatehawk1 @CenterForBioDiv @NRDC
10:52 AM – 1 May 2017
Photo published for EPA Takes Hatchet to Website

The U.S. Environmental Protection is editing pages from its website related to …
 ecowatch.com

“While this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it,” Mayor Emanuel said.

The new page highlights NOAA records on global warming, basic information on what climate change is, the impact that it will have on things like farming and human health, and what citizens can do to reduce their emissions. It even has a section linking to the president’s Climate Action Plan, which as of right now, doesn’t lead anywhere but a blank page that says “stay tuned.”

The Trump Administration has shown it is not making climate action a priority and is leaning toward withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Emanuel said.

——————————————-

EPA Cuts Half of Advisers on Key Panel

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, The Washington Post
08 May 17


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.


The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA’s key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that “no one has been fired or terminated,” and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.

“We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool,” Freire said. “This approach is what was always intended for the Board, and we’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach.”

But the move came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term.

“I was kind of shocked to receive this news,” Robert Richardson, an ecological economist and an associate professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability, said in an interview Sunday.

Richardson, who tweeted on Saturday, “Today, I was Trumped,” said that he was at the end of an initial three-year term on the board, but that board members traditionally have served two such stints. “I’ve never heard of any circumstance where someone didn’t serve two consecutive terms,” he said, adding that the dismissals gave him “great concern that objective science is being marginalized in this administration.”

Courtney Flint, a professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University who had served one term on the board, said in an email that she was also surprised to learn that her term would not be renewed, “particularly since I was told that such a renewal was expected.”

“In the broader view, I suppose it is the prerogative of this administration to set the goals of federal agencies and to appoint members to advisory boards,” she added.

Ryan Jackson, Pruitt’s chief of staff, noted in an email that all the board members whose terms are not being renewed could reapply for their positions.

“I’m not quite sure why some EPA career staff simply get angry by us opening up the process,” he said. “It seems unprofessional to me.”

Pruitt is planning a much broader overhaul of how the agency conducts its scientific analysis, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The administration has been meeting with academics to talk about the matter and putting thought into which areas of investigation warrant attention from the agency’s scientific advisers.

The agency may consider industry scientific experts for some of the board positions, Freire said, as long as these appointments do not pose a conflict of interest.

Conservatives have complained about EPA’s approach to science, including the input it receives from outside scientific bodies, for years. Both the Board of Scientific Counselors and a larger, 47-person Scientific Advisory Board have come under criticism for bolstering the cause for greater federal regulation.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who questions the link between human activity and climate change and has several former aides now working for Pruitt, said in an interview earlier this year that under the new administration, “They’re going to have to start dealing with science and not rigged science” at EPA.

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) held a hearing on the issue in February, arguing that the composition of the Scientific Advisory Board, which was established in 1978, should be expanded to include more non-academics. It is primarily made up of academic scientists and other experts who review EPA’s research to ensure that the regulations the agency undertakes have a sound scientific basis.

“The EPA routinely stacks this board with friendly scientists who receive millions of dollars in grants from the federal government,” Smith said at the time. “The conflict of interest here is clear.”

In a budget proposal obtained by The Washington Post last month, the panel is slated for an 84 percent cut — or $542,000 — from its operating budget. That money typically covers travel and other expenses for outside experts who attend the board’s public meetings.

The reasoning behind the budget cut, said the document, reflects “an anticipated lower number of peer reviews.”

Joe Arvai, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board who directs University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, said in an email that Pruitt and his colleagues should keep in mind that the board’s membership and its standing and ad hoc panels “already includes credible scientists from industry” and its “work on agency rulemaking is open to public viewing and comment. So, if diversity of thought and transparency are the administrator’s concerns, his worries are misplaced because the SAB is already has these bases covered.”

“So, if you ask me, his moves over the weekend — as well as the House bill to reform the SAB — are attempts to use the SAB as a political toy,” Arvai added. “By making these moves, the administrator and members of the House can pander to the president’s base by looking like they’re getting tough on all those pesky ‘liberal scientists.’ But, all else being equal, nothing fundamentally changes about how the SAB operates.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Donald TrumpTrump’s first 100 days

TRUMP WILL CELEBRATE 100 DAYS IN OFFICE – AWAY FROM A WASHINGTON DC UNDER THE PEOPLE’S ASSAULT – WITH A FRIENDLY CROWD IN HARRISBURG’, PENNSYLVANIA.

His office announced on April 29, 2017: Looking forward to RALLY in the Great State of Pennsylvania tonight at 7:30. Big crowd, big energy!

Trump appeals for loyalty as 100th day fanfare threatens to fall flat.

President prepares for Saturday night rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as adviser Steve Bannon is thought to be behind focus on economic issues.

On his 100th day in office, facing a historically low popularity rating, a succession of intractable foreign crises and multiple investigations of his links with Moscow, Donald Trump reminded the nation that 1 May was Loyalty Day.

Donald Trump’s first 100 days: a guide to the successes, the failures – and the tweets

The day is an American tradition dating back to the Cold War, when it was a bolster to stop May Day becoming a rallying point for socialists and unionised workers. But for an embattled president learning on the job, it has an added resonance.


Making his remarks in an interview with Fox News, timing with the 100-day mark, Trump also declared himself “disappointed” with congressional Republicans – despite his many “great relationships” with them.


Regarding his lack of signature legislative achievement, he blamed the constitutional checks and balances built in to US governance. “It’s a very rough system,” he said. “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country, stresses The Guardian.”

The Loyalty Day announcement came amid a flurry of other proclamations to mark a milestone at which presidencies are traditionally measured. The coming seven days were named both National Charter Schools Week and Small Business Week. May has been burdened with being National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Older Americans Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, National Foster Care Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
{All this we guess as an outcome of trying to do away with the International Marxist Labor Day.}

Such announcements are always a mechanism to help a president look busy – doubly so for an inexperienced politician rapidly learning the limits of presidential power even with a solid Republican majority in Congress.


Trump has failed to get any of his priorities turned into legislation in the face of party disunity, and his attempt to rule by executive order has been largely hollow. His decrees have been either meaningless, like his one-page, detail-free tax reform plan, or have been been blocked by the courts, like his two attempts to impose a travel ban on refugees and travellers from some Muslim-majority countries.

In what is supposed to be a honeymoon period, the president’s approval rating has remained mired at historic lows, hovering around and frequently below 40%, well below recent predecessors at this stage.


One nation, two Trumps: America as divided as ever after first 100 days


But his core supporters have remained faithful, choosing to believe that the mainstream media is a purveyor of fake news rather than accept that Trump has not been the unrivalled success he has claimed. They have also accommodated Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin. The percentage of Republicans who see Russia as an unfriendly state has fallen from 82% in 2014 to 41%, according to a CNN/ORC poll.
{This being a very dangerous reality that some in Europe think of as a reminder of the Stalin-Hitler entente}


Claims versus realities:


On his 100th day, Trump turned to this loyal base and trumpeted the issue that bonds them most tightly – economic nationalism. On an otherwise leisurely Saturday, in which his only other engagement was a morning call with the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, the president was due to attend an evening rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a state in which disenchanted workers defected from the Democrats in droves in the 2016 election.

While visiting the town – and skipping the media’s White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington – he was due to sign an executive order to establish an office of trade and manufacturing policy, which will help push his drive for import substitution.

Trump’s weekly presidential address focused on jobs, repeating his claim that his first 100 days “has been just about the most successful in our country’s history” and pointing to evidence of an economic revival that has been previously suggested to be a result of corporate decisions made before Trump came to office.

In his address, Trump claimed that car companies were “roaring back in”, an apparent reference to General Motors’ plans and Ford’s decision to expand in Michigan, which both appear to be part of long-term strategy.

Trump also claimed that his approval of the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada would create tens of thousands of jobs. That will be true in the short term, during construction. After that, keeping the pipeline going is expected to employ 35 people on a permanent basis.


Le Pen, Putin, Trump: a disturbing axis, or just a mutual admiration society?


The gap between the extreme bravado of Trump’s claims and the daily realities of governing has deepened public cynicism. In a new Gallup poll, just 36% declared the president honest and trustworthy, down from 42 in early February. His general approval rating stood at 40%.


There is strong evidence however that fact-checking of presidential claims is having a small and dwindling impact on true Trump loyalists. Support remains strong in blue collar areas and evangelical strongholds, where there is more trust in the president than the mainstream media.

The president has relentless assaulted the media, launching an attack per day on average, denouncing negative news as “fake news”. There are signs the offensive has inflicted wounds. One poll released on Friday found that more people trusted the White House than political journalists.

Against that background there were reports on Saturday that Steve Bannon, the champion of economic and ethnic nationalism, is making a political comeback in the White House, and that he remains a bulwark of Trump’s strategy to secure his core support and win again in 2020.

Bannon’s hand has been seen behind the rapid-burst issue of protectionist moves in the run up to the 100th day, including picking fights with Canada over milk and softwood imports and measures to shield the aluminium industry from foreign competition.

“All of these people who say the president doesn’t have an ideology, they’re wrong,” one unnamed Bannon ally told The Hill. “He does have an ideology, and it’s Bannon’s ideology. They are just now figuring out how to implement it.”

Bannon was also said to have drafted an executive order withdrawing the US from the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA). Trump chose simply to issue a call for its renegotiation on Thursday, reportedly after having been shown a map showing it would cost the most jobs in states that had supported him in the election.


The battle between countervailing factions in the Trump White House continues to ebb and flow, but the president’s reflex in times of adversity is to fall back on the “America First” nativist message that got him elected in the first place.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the list of mportant News in The New York Times of Tuesday April 25, 2017:

• The middle class grew in Western Europe even as it shrank in the U.S. over the last two decades, according to a new study.

• The Spanish and Brazilian governments plan an undersea fiber optic cable in the Atlantic Ocean, to improve internet speed for both sides and route traffic outside the reach of U.S. intelligence agencies.

• Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president’s daughter and adviser, will share a stage at the W20 Summit in Berlin today. [Politico]

• U.S. embassies posted, but later removed, an article praising President Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago. [The New York Times]

ECONOMY

Middle Class Contracted in U.S. Over 2 Decades, Study Finds
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZAPRIL 24, 2017
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works in Illinois – the plant was idled in 2015. Some displaced employees found new work, but often it paid much less than their jobs at the mill had, forcing them to adjust. “I’ve had to rethink my whole life to make ends meet on what I’m now making,” Mike McCabe, a former U.S. Steel worker, said. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times
Mike McCabe’s neighbors in rural Gillespie, Ill., consider him lucky. After being out of work for a year, he landed a job in January making cardboard boxes at a nearby Georgia-Pacific plant for $19.60 an hour.

He would agree with them, were it not for the fact that his previous job in a steel mill near St. Louis paid $28 an hour. “I’ve had to rethink my whole life to make ends meet on what I’m now making,” Mr. McCabe said. “The middle class is struggling for sure, and almost anybody in my position will tell you that.”

Middle-class Americans have fared worse in many ways than their counterparts in economically advanced countries in Western Europe in recent decades, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

What is more, as Mr. McCabe’s experience suggests, the authors of the Pew study found a broader contraction of the American middle class, even as the ranks of the poor and the rich have grown.

Where Trump Sees Economic ‘Disaster,’ Experts See Something More Complex JAN. 5, 2017

INCOMES AND OUTCOMES
The Economic Expansion Is Helping the Middle Class, Finally SEPT. 13, 2016

Middle-Income Jobs Finally Show Signs of a Rebound AUG. 18, 2016

A SHIFTING MIDDLE
Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure APRIL 10, 2015

“Compared with the Western European experience, the adult population in the U.S. is more economically divided,” said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director for research at Pew. “It is more hollowed out in the middle. This speaks to the higher level of income inequality in the United States.”

For example, between 1991 and 2010, the proportion of adults in middle-income households fell to 59 percent from 62 percent, while it rose to 67 percent from 61 percent over the same period in Britain and to 74 percent from 72 percent in France.

Households that earned from two-thirds to double the national median income were defined as middle income in the Pew study; in the United States that translated into annual income of $35,294 to $105,881, after taxes, in 2010.

A shrinking middle class is not necessarily cause for alarm, if the reason for the contraction is that more people are moving up the income ladder, said David Autor, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The proportion at the top did rise, but so did the proportion at the bottom, rising to 26 percent from 25 percent. That is much more worrisome, said Mr. Autor, who was not involved with the Pew study.

Moreover, the middle-income group was smaller — and the groups at either extreme larger — in the United States than in any of the 11 Western European countries studied.

And incomes in the middle rose faster in Europe than they did in the United States, according to Pew. Median incomes in the middle tier grew by 9 percent in the United States between 1991 and 2010, compared with a 25 percent gain in Denmark and a 35 percent increase in Britain.

The United States, including the middle class, has a higher median income than nearly all of Europe, even if the Continent is catching up. The median household income in the United States was $52,941 after taxes in 2010, compared with $41,047 in Germany and $41,076 in France.

And while inequality may be widening, the proportion of households in the upper-income strata rose to 15 percent from 13 percent.

“Financially, the U.S. remains well ahead of the countries in Europe,” Mr. Kochhar said. “The difference is how incomes have evolved, and they are catching up.”

Although the cutoff of the study, 2010, may have highlighted weak income gains because it was in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, he said that was not enough to alter the study’s findings.

“It’s a clear trend that the middle class in the U.S. is shrinking and not keeping up financially with the upper-income group,” he said. “There is an aura of redistribution of income from middle income to upper income.”
[and we note this predates Trump – and we must add that it helped create Trump – the study in our opinio does not do full justice to the numbers it came up with.]

The study acknowledges that “middle class” can connote more than just income — like a college education, white-collar work, economic security, homeownership or even self-image — but for the purposes of the study, it was defined by income.

Whether in Europe or the United States, technological change and globalization mean that people who can adapt and learn new skills can reap bigger rewards, Mr. Kochhar said.

Since founding LaSalle Network, a staffing company based in Chicago, with two employees nearly 20 years ago, Tom Gimbel has watched revenues grow to a projected $70 million this year.

“I know a lot of people who have done much better in the last five years,” he said. “I have people working for me who made $35,000 to $60,000 a few years ago and are earning $60,000 to $150,000 now.”

Mr. Gimbel, who grew up in a comfortable Chicago suburb, has seen his own fortunes improve as well. “We didn’t want for anything, but my dad wasn’t rolling in money,” he said. “I’ve succeeded beyond where my parents were.”

On both sides of the Atlantic, the pressure on the middle class is translating into frustration with the political establishment and distrust of the elites.

Like his father and uncle, Mr. McCabe worked at the U.S. Steel mill in Granite City, Ill. But after the plant was idled in late 2015, he looked for a new job rather than waiting to be called back if the economy improved.

As a result, Mr. McCabe voted for Donald J. Trump in the presidential election last year, even though he grew up in what he calls a staunchly Democratic home. “My dad is probably rolling over in his grave,” he said.

“But I liked Trump’s message that he was going to help the middle class and get the jobs back,” Mr. McCabe said. “I was amazed that he won, and sat up all night watching.”

“You can only wait so long, and your unemployment runs out and you run out of choices,” he added. “I’m divorced with no kids. For people with kids, I can only imagine how tough they got it.”


Spain, Brazil plan subsea fiber optic cable by 2019

Reuters

SAO PAULO, April 24 (Reuters) – The Spanish and Brazilian governments have teamed up to lay an undersea cable in the Atlantic Ocean to offer fast online and cloud services to citizens of both countries by 2019, underscoring efforts to rout communications outside North America.

The EllaLink subsea cable will connect to data centers in Madrid and São Paulo, as well as in Lisbon, using shielded fiber rings, officials said on Monday. The cable will also connect the archipelagoes of Madeira, Spain’s Canary Islands and Africa’s Cape Verde along the route, they added.

At an event in São Paulo, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the venture to build the first subsea fiber optic cable linking Europe to Brazil should help improve data security and privacy by routing calls and internet navigation outside the reach of the United States.

The idea gained traction almost four years after former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other officials were target of personal and economic espionage by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Documents leaked by former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 showed the U.S. National Security Agency had tapped Rousseff’s telephone calls and those of millions of other Brazilians.

The 9,200 km-long (5,700-mile), 72-terabytes-per-second- capacity subsea cable is about seven times the size of existing communications capacity between Latin America and the rest of the world, said Alfonso Gajate, president of EulaLink, one of the partners in the venture. No cost estimates were provided.

The only existing direct link between Europe and South America is a 20-Gb copper cable laid in 1999 by a consortium of voice operators. (Reporting by Brad Haynes; Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

On Saturday April 22, 2017, Earth Day, Scientists and their related fields, marched in New York – on Central Park West Avenue and Broadway – down to Times Square.

A week later – Saturday, April 29, 2017, there is no major march in Manhattan, New York, but all efforts are directed to Washington DC for what becomes a People’s March on Washington –
a march for Jobs, the Earth, Climate, and Decency. It happens on the 100th day since the Trump inaugural – and stretches out before our eyes and minds the dangers of a full four years term of this science-devoid President.

SCIENCE is REAL – The FACTS are with SCIENCE.
A scientific theory isn’t just a hunch or guess –
It’s more like a question that’s been put through a lot of tests.

And when a theory emerges consistent with the facts,
The Proof is witH Science – The truth is with Science.

In Science we Trust – Science is not just an Alternate Fact.

NO SCIENCE IS NON-SENSE. Science, Reason, Knowledge, Trump Stupidity or Opinion.
SCIENCE NOT SILENCE – Resist Stupidity

PRO FACTS – WE ARE NOT SLAVES TO FOSSIL FUEL – SCIENCE TRUMPS POLITICS.

“WHEN ICEBERGS ARE CRACKING IT IS NOT FUNNY.” This was the wording on a poster carried
down New York’s Broadway by an active 8-years young boy who MARCHED with his mom – a university person. She said he picked those words.

THERE IS NO PLANET B – EDUCATE WASHINGTON. GOP – DON’T FLUSH OUR EARTH AWAY.
REMEMBER – PLANET NOT PROFIT. MAKE AMERICA SUSTAINABLE FOR EVERYONE.

Above all – Remember – “SCIENCE MAKES AMERICA GREAT” – DEFEND OUR PLANET – WE LIVE HERE.

THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON CAN BASICALLY BE SUMMED UP AS: “CLIMATE SCIENCE IS REAL – TRUMP IS FAKE.

For the April 29, 2017 People’s March on Washington – please see also:
 www.cnn.com/2017/04/29/us/climate…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Hundreds of Thousands Join March for Science Rallies Across the World.

By Oliver Milman, Guardian UK
22 April 17

More than 600 marches held around the world, with organizers saying science ‘under attack’ from a White House that dismisses the threat of climate change
undreds of thousands of climate researchers, oceanographers, bird watchers and other supporters of science rallied in marches around the world on Saturday, in an attempt to bolster scientists’ increasingly precarious status with politicians.

The main March for Science event was held in Washington DC, where organizers made plans for up to 150,000 people to flock to the national mall, although somewhat fewer than that figure braved the rain to attend. Marchers held a range of signs. Some attacked Donald Trump, depicting the president as an ostrich with his head in the sand or bearing the words: “What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything.”

More than 600 marches took place around the world, on every continent bar Antarctica, in events that coincided with Earth Day.

The marches, the first of their kind, were officially non-political. They were however conceived by three US-based researchers – Caroline Weinberg, Valorie Aquino and Jonathan Berman – after Trump’s inauguration. Organizers have said science is “under attack” from the Trump administration and many protesters excoriated the president with signs that likened him to a dangerous orange toxin or disparaged his now defunct university.

Trump released a statement that insisted his administration was committed to preserving the “awe-inspiring beauty” of America, while protecting jobs.

“Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” Trump said. “My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.

“As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

The US marches were some of the last to take place, following hundreds across the world. A common theme among protesters was a worry that politicians have rejected science-based policies.

“I’m encouraged by the marches I’ve seen already taking place around the world,” said Rush Holt, a former congressman and head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “For generations scientists have been reluctant to be in the public square. There is a lot of concern.”

Speakers in Washington included Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate chief and climate scientist Michael Mann. Hundreds of scientific institutions, environmental groups and union groups partnered with the march.

“There’s very low morale among government scientists because science is under assault from this administration,” Mann told the Guardian. “That being said, events like this will lift the spirits of scientists. They are finding a voice.”

Pharmaceutical companies, concerned about the impact on research talent of Trump’s attempts to ban or restrict travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, risked his wrath by supporting the march. In a video, Pfizer said it was “proud to stand behind our scientists”.

Trump has galvanized scientists with his comments about climate change, which he has called a “hoax”, as well as questions about whether vaccines are safe and threats to cut funding to universities that displease him.

The White House’s recent budget proposal would remove around $7bn in science funding, with the National Institutes of Health, which funds medical research, bearing much of the pain. Earth sciences, ranging from weather satellites to marine research to coastal preservation, are also lined up for severe cuts.

Climate change was at the heart of the March for Science, spurred on by dismissals of the issue by Trump and his top advisers. Budget director Mick Mulvaney has said climate research is a “waste of your money”. Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has erroneously denied that carbon dioxide is a primary driver of global warming.

Other areas of science have been all but abandoned. The president has yet to nominate administrators for Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nor to appoint his own science adviser.

John Holdren, science adviser during Barack Obama’s presidency, said Trump had “shown no indication of awareness of the role of science and the role of science in government”.

“Scientists are understanding that they have to become activists, that they have to speak up, that they have to be heard,” he said. “The message isn’t, ‘Please save our jobs.’ Scientists would be in another line of work if they were just interested in their salaries. If funding for science is slashed, all of society will lose out.”

The march has proved controversial within the science community, which is typically reluctant to be overtly political. Some scientists have raised concerns that the marches will invite attacks by Trump and his supporters, or will fail to convince the public that science has inherent value.

But several famous voices have joined the cause. “Science has always been political but we don’t want science to be partisan,” Bill Nye, a prominent engineer and TV personality, told the Guardian.

“Objective truths have become set aside and diminished and lawmakers are acting like a strong belief in something is as valid as careful peer review.”

Nye said science was in a “dangerous place” but hoped the march would help nudge Trump to a more amenable position.

“The president changes his mind quite frequently,” he said. “We want to influence the people who influence him. That’s our goal for the march.”

Leland Melvin, a former Nasa astronaut who participated in two missions, criticized the administration’s plans to eliminate Nasa’s education budget.

“Doing that would keep people like me from getting a masters or PhD,” he said. “If we want brown people and women getting these degrees and get them involved in science, we have to fund it. The administration needs to get its head out of the sand.”

Cristian Samper, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the march aimed “to celebrate science, not to politicize it”.

“Science is behind the good news and bad news about wildlife conservation ,” he said. “it has nothing to do with the fake news. Science is the antithesis of fake news.”

The marches came one week before the People’s Climate March, a series of large-scale events focused on climate change that will be more overtly political.

“Attacks on science don’t just hurt scientists, they hurt scientists’ ability to protect the people, and climate change epitomizes that,” said Dr Geoffrey Supran, an expert in renewable energy at Harvard University.

“When politicians cater to fossil fuel interests by denying the basic realities of climate science and pursuing anti-science climate policy, they endanger the jobs, justice, and livelihoods of ordinary people everywhere.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bertelsmann Stiftung at PRESSE CLUB CONCORDIA, Bankgasse 8, 1010 Vienna.

TUESDAY APRIL 25, 2017, 11:00-14:00

with Academics originally from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Sudan.

In 2015 – one million refugees to europe; in 2016 – 300,000; in 2017 – what now?

TURKEY IS A SPECIAL CASE – Many of their Austrian Residents and Citizens are now lining up
at the Turkish government representations to turn back their Turkish Passports and renouncing their Turkish Citizenship. This in order to avoid the Stigma of dual citizenship that
Mr. Erdogan forced theM into by campaigning among them for his intent to undo democracy in his country. They voted for him forgetting that he became persona non grata in Europe and so will they.

see:

’Escaping the escape – Europe and the refugee crisis’
Tuesday, 25 April 2017, 11:00-14:00 hrs
Bertelsmann Stiftung in cooperation with The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw)
Location:
Presseclub Concordia Bankgasse 8
1010 Vienna
In 2015, more than one million refugees and migrants came to Europe, in 2016 nearly 300,000. How many will enter in 2017? What can we, in Europe, expect with wars and conflicts continuing and driving people from our neighbourhood to European shores? What is the situation in the source and transit countries of refugees and migrants that are most affected? How can the life of refugees, migrants and host communities be improved?
Listen to and debate with experts from Afghanistan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Libya, Sudan and Nigeria: what solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis do they recommend? What are their proposals for EU actors to improve European policies?
Be our guest and meet
Mariam Safi, Afghanistan, founding director of the Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS);
Dane Taleski, FYROM, adjunct professor at the South East European University in T etovo/Skopje;
Zakariya El Zaidy, Libya, protection team leader for the Danish Refugee Council in Libya; J. Shola Omotola, Nigeria, professor of Political Science at the Federal University Oye
Ekiti in Nigeria; and
Amira Ahmed Mohamed, Sudan, assistant professor at the Department of International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
We will take this opportunity to launch a new Bertelsmann Stiftung publication
’Escaping the Escape – Toward solutions for the humanitarian migration crisis’
Please register for the event.

AND FOR THE ERDOGAN IMPOSED PROBLEM OF THE AUSTRIAN TURKS:

 www.krone.at/oesterreich/zweitpas…

Zweitpass zurück! Türken stürmen nun die Konsulate
Angst vor Strafen
21.04.2017, 19:57
Neuer Wirbel um illegale Doppelstaatsbürger: Die heimischen Konsulate werden auch nach dem Ende des türkischen Verfassungsreferendums von Austro-Türken gestürmt – diesmal allerdings nicht wegen eines “Ja” zur umstrittenen Reform von Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sondern um verbotene Zweitpässe abzugeben! Offenbar geht die Angst vor Strafen um …

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 21st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Thousands to march in defFence of science

By ALEKSANDRA ERIKSSON, THE EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, April 21, 2017

Thousands of people in hundreds of places worldwide will take to the streets in support for science on Earth Day, taking place this year on Saturday (22 April), in an event underlining the difficult relationship between science and politics.

The idea of a global March of Science developed shortly after the inauguration of US president Donald Trump in January, amid fears that his term would be marked by disregard for facts and research.

.
Some 517 rallies have been registered so far, with the main one taking place in Washington.

But Calum MacKichan, a Scotsman who organises the march in Brussels, said the goal was much broader than just an anti-Trump protest.

“We want to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives, protect facts and promote dialogue between the scientific community and the public,” MacKichan said at a press event on Thursday (20 April).

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a Belgian professor who is the former vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP for the Green group, were also present at the gathering.

They said there was need for scientists to play a wider role in public life, also on this side of the Atlantic.


Van Ypersele welcomed that Earth Day’s theme this year is climate literacy, and said scientists should be in broader dialogue with both the public and politicians.


Eickhout, who trained as a chemist and worked as a climate change researcher at the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, said he entered politics “out of frustration that politicians made so little with science”.


“We are pointing fingers at Trump, but we should also point them at ourselves,” he added.


Politicians are dependent on research if they are to make good decisions, but many scientists are afraid of actively providing information to politicians, Eickhout said.

“They fear it makes them into lobbyists. But I don’t think it’s lobbying what you are doing, it’s about informing decision-makers throughout the legislative process,” he said.

This would help to strengthen EU policies, he said.

The European Commission, since 2001, has been conducting impact assessments for all major legislative proposals, covering the potential economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of each proposed policy.

But Eickhout said the assessments were not as objective as one would think. Rather, impact assessments usually portray the commission’s preferred scenario as the best option.

“If I was the commission, I would do the same, so I don’t blame them for this. But I blame them for claiming that the assessments are neutral, when they in fact are designed to fit the political interests of those that commanded them,” Eickhout said.


Trump’s actions could seem like a golden opportunity for green parties, but Eickhout wasn’t so sure.

“If you really want to get policies off the ground you need a broader political basis. I fear that in Europe, climate sceptics, who had a sleeping existence, are now waking up again. They see Trump’s election as an opportunity,” the Dutch MEP said.

The new US president has said the concept of global warming was made by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing less competitive.

Van Ypersele said, however, that Trump has also shown signs he believed in climate change.

In 2009, Trump had signed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times calling for “meaningful and effective measures to combat climate change”, just before president Barack Obama departed for the climate summit in Copenhagen.

His organisation has also used the term “global warming and its effects” when applying for a permit to build protection against coastal erosion for his golf course in Ireland.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CLIMATE – The New York Times

More Permafrost Than Thought May Be Lost as Planet Warms

By HENRY FOUNTAIN, APRIL 11, 2017


As global warming thaws the permafrost, the frozen land that covers nearly six million square miles of the earth, a big question for scientists is: How much will be lost?


The answer, according to a new analysis: more than many of them thought.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that as the planet warms toward two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, each degree Celsius of warming will lead to the thawing of about 1.5 million square miles of permafrost.

That figure is at least 20 percent higher than most previous studies, said Sarah E. Chadburn, a researcher at the University of Leeds in England and the lead author of the study.

“Previous estimates of global changes in permafrost were done using climate models,” Dr. Chadburn said. “Our approach is more based on using historical observations and extrapolating that to the future. It’s a very simple approach.”

GRAPHIC
How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps
Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that it will harm them personally.

OPEN GRAPHIC
Permafrost thaws slowly over time, but it is already causing problems in the Arctic, as slumping ground affects building foundations, roads and other infrastructure in places like the North Slope of Alaska, Yukon and parts of Siberia. The thawing also contributes to climate change, as warmed-up organic matter is decomposed by microbes, releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Dr. Chadburn and her colleagues looked at how much permafrost would thaw if temperatures were to stabilize at a warming of two degrees Celsius, long a target of climate accords, or at 1.5 degrees, which the 2015 Paris agreement set as an ambitious goal.

A two-degree increase, the researchers found, would lead to a loss of about 2.5 million square miles of permafrost compared with a 1960-90 baseline, or about 40 percent of the current total.

The study showed the advantages to be gained from limiting warming to 1.5 degrees: Thawing would be reduced by about 30 percent, or 750,000 square miles.

Graphic: How 2016 Became Earth’s Hottest Year on Record
But the research also shows the potentially devastating consequences of missing either of those targets. Warming of five degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit) would leave at most about a million square miles of permafrost, or less than 20 percent of the current total.

Edward A. G. Schuur, a permafrost expert at Northern Arizona University, said the study was “an important and interesting calculation of where permafrost will be at some distant point in the future as we undergo climate warming.”

“What’s really important is this is based on totally different assumptions,” Dr. Schuur said. “It’s useful because it gives us a different perspective.”

Dr. Chadburn said her study did not delve into the details of how different permafrost areas might be affected. Dr. Schuur said that as the planet warms, more southerly regions, where the permafrost occurs in discontinuous patches, would be expected to thaw first.

But there will still be changes even in areas of extensive permafrost in the far north, Dr. Schuur said. “There will be surface changes that affect everyone who lives there,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the permafrost zone that’s remote enough to escape changes.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NOV 23, 2016 @ 02:38 PM 60,058
Why Clean Energy Can Withstand Changing Political Winds

Morgan StanleyVoice:
Capital Creates Change – Clean-energy-election-hero.


When President Obama first took office in 2008, it was hard to imagine how solar and wind would ever stand on their own as viable alternative sources of energy. Today, solar and wind are so price-competitive that players in the renewables industry were among the few that could afford to be cavalier about who won the U.S. election.


“The increasingly favorable economics of renewables are more important than the presidential election’s impact on the industry, in our view,” says Stephen Byrd, a senior analyst with Morgan Stanley. “Wind and solar are price-competitive in many parts of the U.S. It’s the economics and not the politics that’s driving the use of renewables.”

Over the past seven years, the cost of wind power has dropped from $60-$100 per megawatt-hour (MWh) to around $15-$25/MWh in the middle third of the U.S., and for large solar installations, it’s gone from $100-$300 to $40-$70 per MWh. Wind power is currently the cheapest source of energy in the middle third of the country, with its all-in cost of $15-$25/MWh, comparing with the $55-$65/MWh for a new natural-gas-fired plant.


Improving Economics

Driving their growing competitiveness are improvements in wind and solar technology, as well as some technical efficiency gains. Product Tax Credits, passed by Congress in 2015, will now provide the next bridge to ever-improving solar and wind economics going into 2020, although Morgan Stanley’s analysts argue in a recent report that neither depend on tax credits for survival.

“By the next decade, we project that wind and solar will be the cheapest resources in certain parts of the country, without any subsidies,” they state in the report. “Even without the Production Tax Credit, wind would be cheaper than gas-fired power by a wide margin. And by 2017, we project that large-scale solar projects in Texas will require revenue of about $45/MWh, lower than that required for a natural-gas-fired power plant.”

Changing Political Winds

President-elect Donald Trump has yet to lay out a comprehensive energy policy, although his comments during campaign speeches reveal his position on climate-change regulation. In May, he told audiences in North Dakota that he was opposed to the Obama Administration’s regulations “that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants.”

On the same day, he added: “We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan. We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to UN global-warming programs.”

Analysts say it isn’t clear whether a new president can cancel U.S. signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement. But the climate-change views of Trump’s coming appointment of the ninth Supreme Court Justice could be crucial, should pending legal challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan ever reach the high court.

Yet, even the failure of the Clean Power Plan wouldn’t slow the growth of renewables, according to the Morgan Stanley report. “Given the favorable economics relative to coal-fired generation of wind power in the middle third of the U.S.; solar in the West and Southwest U.S. and gas-fired generation throughout most of the U.S., we view the impact of the EPA Clean Power Plan as being relatively modest,” says the report.


For more Morgan Stanley Research on clean energy and the impact of changing politics, ask your Morgan Stanley representative or Financial Advisor for the full report, “The US Election: Impacts to Clean Tech and Utilities Skew Positive” (Jul 27, 2016). Plus, more Ideas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from Duncan Douglas

Dear Colleagues,
NAEE2017 is your Best Opportunity to Meet the Top Decision Makers in the Nigerian Renewable Energy Industries!

Make a plan now to be part of Africa’s fastest-growing energy market: register to be part of the 7th #NAEE2017; the leading event of renewable energy event Nigeria covering in Solar, Wind, Gas, experts across Africa and beyond.

#NAEE2017 will be held from October 18 – 20, 2017 in Abuja Nigeria.

#NAEE2017 – Nigeria Alternative Energy eExpo 2017 – allows you to showcase your products and services and meet face to face with high-level buyers who come to NAEE to source for solutions to the challenges they face every day. The depth of the conference program and quality of the exhibition have a proven track record of attracting a high-quality and influential audience.

As an Exhibitor, you will:
– Gain visibility in front of influential decision makers.
– Meet with high-level executives.
– Form valuable partnerships with leading services providers.

Don’t miss the best opportunity in 2017 to interact with the most influential Energy professionals in Nigeria – Act Today!

For more information, please contact San Sue, Telephone: +44 203 239 6611 Mobile:+44 770 030 9195
E:  info at nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org
or Visit www.nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org

————————————————-

Douglas Duncan  info at nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org via lists.iisd.ca
Jan 19

to Sustainable

The Advisory Board of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo (NAEE 2017) invites Energy experts to present a paper at the 7th NAEE in Abuja, from October 18 to 20, 2017. The 7th Edition of the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo (NAEE 2017) aims to provide an international forum to facilitate discussion and knowledge exchange of findings of current and future challenges and opportunities in all aspects of renewable and sustainable energy.
This year event theme is “Harnessing tomorrow’s Energy Today: A Unified Approach “». The development of renewable energy will be driven by the mutual exchange between future market requirements and technical innovation. In that respect, the NAEE 2017 offers an excellent opportunity for the whole value chain, from equipment and material suppliers up to application driven players and from academic research institutions up to downside industry, to share and discuss leading-edge renewable energy technologies.

Since its beginning in 2011, international attendees representing over 40 countries from all continents have participated in NAEE, internationally renowned keynote speakers have presented latest achievements in the transition to renewable energy.

The scope of NAEE2017 covers a broad range of hot topics like renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, green energy, climate change, sustainable energy systems and smart grid.
This 7th edition will be organized into 5 PLENARY SESSIONS covering all topics of interest of the whole value chain. We invite you to express interest by visiting: www.nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo…. or send us email:  loc at nigeriaalternativeenergyexpo.org

Deadline to submit your abstract was Friday, February 24 2017.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From Fareed’s website of Thursday April 13, 2017:

The Deep Danger of AI

The growing embrace of artificial intelligence and “deep learning” raises an important – and potentially troubling – issue, writes Will Knight in MIT Technology Review. What if we can no longer understand the decisions machines make?

“There’s already an argument that being able to interrogate an AI system about how it reached its conclusions is a fundamental legal right. Starting in the summer of 2018, the European Union may require that companies be able to give users an explanation for decisions that automated systems reach,” Knight says.

“This might be impossible, even for systems that seem relatively simple on the surface, such as the apps and websites that use deep learning to serve ads or recommend songs. The computers that run those services have programmed themselves, and they have done it in ways we cannot understand. Even the engineers who build these apps cannot fully explain their behavior.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Global Trade Causes More Than 20 Percent of Air-Pollution Deaths
By Nikhil Swaminathan, Grist
03 April 2017


Global trade causes more than 20 percent of air-pollution deaths.


A new study in the journal Nature investigated what triggers the nearly 3.5 million annual deaths worldwide stemming from airborne particulate matter. It attributed more than 750,000 of them to goods being made in one part of the world and consumed in another.


The grim statistics center on Asia, home of cheap exports and lax environmental protections. Nearly 500,000 people succumb to smog-related illness each year on the continent, including more than 200,000 in China and more than 100,000 in India. The incidence of heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke are ratcheted up by breathing filthy air.


The main culprits behind this tragic phenomenon are buyers in the West.

The study links consumption in Western Europe to almost 175,000 yearly deaths abroad and consumption in the U.S. to more than 100,000.

“It’s not a local issue anymore,” says study coauthor Dabo Guan, a professor of climate change economics at the University of East Anglia.


Asian health could benefit if the Trump administration is successful in reviving American manufacturing. Some of that health burden could shift to the U.S., which has higher air-quality standards that should result in fewer smog-related fatalities.

Then again, if Trump has his way with environmental rules, all bets are off.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

When Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. 150 years ago today, there was consternation on both sides of the Pacific.

American critics railed at the principal negotiator, Secretary of State William Seward, calling the sale “Seward’s Folly” and “Seward’s Icebox.” Russian newspapers are still denouncing the deal.

The Russians sold because they judged the territory a lost cause. After the Crimean War with Britain during the mid-1850s, Moscow determined that Britain would take Alaska in any future conflict.

The transaction cost the U.S. only $7.2 million — approximately $125 million in today’s dollars — to the delight of at least one American paper.

“We have made a fair trade,” argued The Charleston Daily News.
The editors continued, waxing both righteous and pugnacious, that while Europe quarreled over “Eastern questions and German questions, Brother Jonathan” — a national personification and forebear of Uncle Sam — “can sit with sublime indifference on the top of the Alleghenies and spit his tobacco into either the Atlantic or Pacific, whittling huge California timber with a clasp knife made of iron out of his mountains, and mix his cobbler with lemons grown in his own tropics, and cooled with ice brought from his own Arctic circle.”

———————-

• Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, visited an Arctic archipelago to reaffirm Moscow’s foothold in the oil-rich region. [Associated Press]

On a tour on the Franz Josef Land archipelago, a sprawling collection of islands where the Russian military has recently built a new runway and worked to open a permanent base, Putin emphasized the need to protect Russia’s economic and security interests in the Arctic.

The Kremlin has named reaffirming the Russian presence in the Arctic as a top priority amid an intensifying rivalry over the region that is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas.

“Natural resources, which are of paramount importance for the Russian economy, are concentrated in this region,” Putin said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

Putin said that current estimates put the value of Arctic’s mineral riches at $30 trillion.

In 2015, Russia submitted a revised bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations, claiming 1.2 million square kilometers (over 463,000 square miles) of Artic sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles (about 650 kilometers) from the shore.

Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic as shrinking polar ice creates new opportunities for exploration.

Putin said Wednesday that Russia has remained open to a “broad partnership with other nations to carry out mutually beneficial projects in tapping natural resources, developing global transport corridors and also in science and environment protection.”

He also underlined the need for the military and security agencies to “implement their plans to protect national interests, our defense capability and protection of our interests in the Arctic.”

Over the past few years, the Russian military has been conducting a costly effort to restore and modernize abandoned Soviet-era outposts in the Arctic by rebuilding old air bases and deploying new air defense assets in the region.

During the visit, Putin inspected a cavity in a glacier that scientists use to study permafrost. He also spoke with environmental experts who have worked to clean the area of Soviet-era debris.

Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi reported to Putin that the cleanup effort has seen the removal of 42,000 metric tons of waste from the archipelago, most of it rusty metal oil canisters left behind by the Soviet military.

 abcnews.go.com/International/wire…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From NRDC, Washington DC – Shahyd, Khalil  kshahyd at nrdc.org

Dear Colleagues,

Too often, action on climate change is given priority over sustainable development. No place is this disparity more vivid than in the attention and resources devoted to the Paris Climate Agreement (a formal international treaty), and the Sustainable Development Goals (a nonbinding agreement).

Discussions of climate action often neglect the role of wider dimensions of sustainable development in achieving climate goals. When the two are discussed in tandem the framing it most likely to highlight how climate action can spur sustainable development as a co-benefit.

“Sustainable development is not a fortunate byproduct of climate action; it is its organizing principle.”

Below is a new blog post that I hope will open a discussion of how to properly frame sustainable development as a larger priority in our work and vision for a post-carbon world.

Blog: “Sustainable Development is Critical for Climate Action”

And here is an earlier post I released on the day the Paris Climate Agreement became ratified.

Blog: “Celebrate Paris Agreement but don’t forget the SDGs”

Khalil Shahyd – Project Manager
Urban Solutions Program
Natural Resources Defense Council
1152 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
|202.513.6264| www.nrdc.org |  kshahyd at nrdc.org
 www.energyefficiencyforall.org/
 www.nrdc.org/experts/khalil-shah…

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EXPERT BLOG › KHALIL SHAHYD
Sustainable Development Is Critical for Climate Action
March 28, 2017 Khalil Shahyd
Climate activists are often frustrated by the slow pace of national and global actions on climate change. Recognizing the urgent need for action doesn’t always give rise to the political will necessary to follow through, particularly with an issue as complex as transitioning the global economy away from fossil fuels.

A recent paper in Science Magazine titled “A roadmap for rapid de-carbonization” (hereafter “the roadmap”) spells that part out—as does a perhaps more accessible Vox article reviewing it, and both explain in clear detail the scale of the daunting task ahead of us. However, the truth is that too often, discussion of actions required to address climate change neglect the broader dimensions of sustainable development that will be required to meet the U.N.’s ambitious and necessary targets on carbon emissions.

Patricia Espinosa, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently reminded that “the ultimate objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be achieved only if they are fully recognized as one encompassing agenda.”

A cynical approach to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals would be to simply assume they are a random accumulation of aspirations that most rational people would support. They favor, for example, logical steps like ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests but are less clear on how they all interact and complement one another.

The roadmap for success breaks the actions necessary to reduce carbon emissions and avoid the 2 degrees Celsius threshold into three 10-year time intervals each representing stages of development in achieving a post-carbon reality. The SDGs can complement these scenarios by ensuring that above all else, action on climate change “leaves no one behind.”

To accomplish that complex and challenging higher purpose, the 17 SDG goals were carefully considered and negotiated and contain numerous linkages to each other and to climate action more broadly.

2017-2020: Establishing the Policy Framework

The authors of the de-carbonization roadmap describe a period from 2017-2020 to set the policies to ensure that the reductions in carbon emissions begin by the end of the period. In addition, they suggest that “all cities and major corporations in the industrialized world should have de-carbonization strategies in place.”

Getting the right policies in place across nations and hundreds of cities, of diverse sizes, histories and economic character will require an extraordinary amount of “political will” to achieve it and the engagement of people and actors across many nations, cities and sectors. More importantly, how and who decides this policy mix will determine the patterns of development, the pace, space and structure of our decarbonized future. It is a critical step in the work that should be inclusive of multiple voices and perspectives.

Goal 17 of the SDGs—on strengthening partnerships—includes key elements of a strategy to build the political will and capacity of cities and nations to respond to the challenging scenario set forth in the de-carbonization roadmap. Achieving these ambitious targets will require a revitalized and enhanced global partnership bringing together governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors to mobilize all available resources. This means the task will only be successful with strong relationships—no minor point.

2020-2030: Time to Show and Prove

The period between 2020-2030 is the core implementation phase of the de-carbonization strategy (and simultaneously the final 10-year stretch of the 2030 Agenda on the SDGs). Within this period, the roadmap suggest that coal will be about to exit the global energy scene, and carbon pricing should be expanded to cover all greenhouse gas emissions with a minimum price of $50 per metric ton. The authors of note that improving energy efficiency alone could reduce emissions “40 to 50% by around 2030.” Finally a massive new investment in transportation technology, light rail and electrification, along with greater efficiencies in industrial production will round out to core advancements necessary to reduce emissions.

First, eliminating coal from the global energy supply implies a massive shift in energy assets and most importantly labor. SDG Goal 8 helps ensure that the transition from coal does not abandon workers and the communities that rely on revenue from those industries for economic growth.

Second improving energy efficiency is a worthy goal. However, unless attention is paid to the distribution of efficiency services, many low-income families, communities and the institutions that serve them will remain isolated and unserved. The SDGs provide a useful frame to target resources to this fact with Goal 7, ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” that includes the target to increase investment in energy efficiency as a percentage of GDP.

Further, the authors identified the need for greater efficiency in industrial production, and the SDGs, too, make a priority of this issue with Goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns. Attaining and sustaining human quality of life requires certain levels of economic growth and development. Ensuring that we meet the physical needs of people without endangering the planet is at the root of this discussion and often most difficult challenge in the transition.

2030-2040: On the Path to Sustainability

During this 10-year period, the policies, institutions and processes driving our transition to a more sustainable society are becoming more mature, including carbon-neutral or carbon-negative building construction.

Internal combustion engines for short distance hauling and personal transit along with fossil driven aircraft will be almost non-existent and oil will be in rapid decline as a the primary fuel in the global energy mix.

This phase is critical for ensuring that the policies established in the initial period and the implementation strategies deployed in the first 10-year increment distribute the benefits and burdens of this transition equitably.

The SDGs offer many goals that can help to focus our efforts in a way to meet multiple objectives. More importantly, we must address the implication of these changes and how they impact the ability of people to choose how and where to live. SDG Goals 1–poverty; 5–gender equity; and 10–reducing inequality respectively provide important frameworks to measuring policy outcomes. For example, how does carbon-neutral or carbon-negative building construction impact the cost of housing for families, particularly in many cities were housing affordability is already at crisis points?

Similarly, shifting from gas-fueled cars to electric vehicles and alternative transit options will have clear impacts on the spatial organization and social structure of cities, including issues of mobility and access. SDG Goal 11, on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, is a key strategic framework for addressing these specific challenges, as is Goal 9 on inclusive industrialization and a more resilient infrastructure.

Also, some goals of the 2030 sustainability agenda will benefit from improved environmental quality and reduced carbon emissions. However these same goals can provide important incentives and motivations for continuing progress toward the climate agenda.

One such goal is SDG Goal 3 on health and wellbeing. The relationship between climate change and health outcomes is now well understood. Health is often framed as a “co-benefit” to climate action where carbon emissions are the primary target or goal. However in as many cases, climate action and financing can benefit from the priorities of messaging health and wellbeing outcomes as the core priority. Rather than just a co-benefit, investments in health that take climate change impacts into consideration can create complementary relationships between targets on improving health and wellbeing as provided by the SDGs and building public support for climate action.

Additional issues will also have to be fleshed out—such as creating a more sustainable food production system, SDG Goal 2 (Zero Hunger). More than 10 percent of carbon emissions is attributable to the global food industry and a more sustainable food system also goes back to supporting improved health and wellbeing.

Improving the capacity of degraded land and forest cover, SDG Goal 15 (Life on Land); and oceans, seas and larger water bodies, SDG Goal 14 (Life Below Water), to improve ability of these critical ecosystems to act as natural carbon sinks will also prove key to meeting climate targets, according to the roadmap. However, the authors warn that we must be careful in addressing these issues by ensuring to “resolve deployment issues relating to food security, biodiversity preservation, indigenous rights, and societal acceptance.”

2040-2050: Monitor, Evaluate, and Renew

In this final stage of the roadmap, nations are well on their way toward meeting climate goals and are evaluating those processes, with any needed reassessments developed and incorporated immediately.

This is also where the work comes full circle. Just as we began this discussion with SDG Goal 17; we come back to the development of partnerships and inclusive processes to engage the public and civil society in assessments of outcomes, addressing challenges and charting new courses. However, we must not take for granted that various sectors of the public and civil society will have the capacity and interest to participate in these necessary conversations. To ensure that the trust in public institutions exists and that engagement is truly inclusive, SDG Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions is vital to overcoming the conflict and the instability with which many communities now struggle.

Finally, a society that lacks a strong education system will struggle to galvanize the human resources necessary to make difficult decisions and execute them successfully. SDG Goal 4 (Quality Education) serves as a reminder of the central role of education in creating inclusive societies capable of innovation and accountability to the public.

All Together Now

Action on climate change and sustainable development must be considered in tandem.

Climate Change and increased risk of extreme weather resulting in natural disasters have the potential to undermine progress on poverty alleviation, weaken the stability of communities and increase inequality. Similarly, unsustainable development can slow, or threaten progress on climate change, by potentially increasing consumption of fossil fuels as consumers become more wealthy, homes become larger and people rely more on private cars than public transit.

In a previous post I warned against a tendency by many, particularly in the environmental community, to focus on the Paris Climate Agreement while neglecting implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As the roadmap shows, a global climate solution goes well beyond a mathematical formula for the least costly method of reducing carbon emissions. It requires a global development agenda—one in which all nations are equal participants and engaged.

The SDGs are exactly that, a global development agenda negotiated by the people and nations of the world. The SDGs are comprised of 17 goals further broken out into 169 individual targets that can be further refined and localized to ensure meaningful representation on the ground.

No roadmap can be absolutely precise in its description of such a complex issue at the scale necessary to address climate change. This makes it all the more important that as many people as possible are allowed to engage in thinking through the appropriate strategies.

Sustainable development is not a fortunate byproduct of climate action; it is its organizing principle. As we continue to advance and confront the coming executive actions looming over continued climate action, the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals and actions to address Climate Change provide a blueprint for how we move forward.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

KHALIL SHAHYD
Project Manager, Urban Solutions program

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EXPERT BLOG › KHALIL SHAHYD
Celebrate Paris Agreement, But Don’t Forget the SDGs
October 05, 2016 Khalil Shahyd

It’s a historic week for the environment, with the Paris Climate agreement entering into effect after the United States, India and the European Union moved to formally join the accord. The inclusion of these large emitters brings the total number of signatories to 71, representing approximately 57 percent of global emissions.

The agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, will take effect in 30 days—an incredibly quick adoption in the history of such agreements.

As we celebrate, and the world looks to implement the agreement, we must remember another critical global agreement that will need to come into play.

What are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted on Sept. 25, 2015, at the United Nations headquarters in New York by world leaders from all 193 U.N.-member countries. The goals are built on a 15-year framework and include 17 goals and 169 specific targets, ranging from the eradication of extreme poverty to the provision of clean and affordable energy. The SDGs extend from previous international targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but the SDGs apply to all nations.

Why a sustainable development agenda matters?

Sustainable development, defined by the UN after the Bundtland Comission report, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” More importantly, “development” can best be understood as a collective vision and the institutional processes that guide how desirable or progressive change in society is best achieved.

As the Paris Agreement comes into effect, meeting our carbon emissions target will imply drastic changes to our global society at the national and local levels. The SDGs provide a way of ensuring our processes for determining the best strategies for reducing carbon emissions are socially embedded in and paired to societal goals such as reducing poverty and inequality.

Social Embeddedness and Environmental Policy

The concept of social embeddedness was first articulated by economic sociologist Karl Polanyi in 1944. Polanyi argued that economies are better understood as embedded in “non-market” institutions such as familial and ethnic relations, religion and politics. These non-market institutions discipline market activity and keep it bound to the collective social vision of society.

The SDGs use this approach to create a universally applied framework for re-embedding climate policy with social goals, and can be a key to ensuring an equitable transition from a fossil-driven global society to a sustainable one. In other words, they reintegrate environmental policy with human social realities, opening the way for a different and more positive way of thinking about altering our economies to remove fossil fuels from our energy mix in a massive economic and industrial transition on a scale never before seen, particularly given the limited time we have to achieve it.

The impacts of this transition, obviously, are likely to be wide-reaching and uneven, but the global consensus—as demonstrated this week—has decided we must proceed nonetheless.

The importance of having shared targets

Much as the Paris Agreement was negotiated by nations before eventually being adopted, the SDGs are global in nature and represent a mutually decided consensus and a common language. The process of creating the SDGs took three years and included input from more than 10 million people, including close to 80,000 Americans.

By adopting universally applicable targets, we are creating greater accountability in our policymaking and response to the climate crisis. We are committing ourselves to meeting specific, measurable outcomes and not just making empty processes to “engage” or be “inclusive.” In the climate context, when we pair emissions targets with additional social targets it reminds us to consider the social outcomes inherent in our various policy responses. Without that we risk creating negative social externalities and unintended consequences.

Reengaging the “development” discipline as progressive politics

The assumption is typically that UN agreements and ideas have little bearing on what happens in the United States. But when we look at problems like the drinking water crisis in Flint and many cities across the nation, a national crisis of housing affordability, persistent poverty, and rising inequality, development isn’t just an issue of need in struggling nations, but a common challenge facing all nations.

When compared internationally, in fact, the U.S. consistently falls in the lower half of industrialized nations on social indicators, and that is reflected in the SDGs. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, led by Jeffery Sachs, developed an SDG Index and Dashboard to track progress on achieving each of the 17 goals. The U.S. ranks 25th globally, behind nations such as Hungary, Belarus and New Zealand. Further, a recent report by the group, Future of Spaceship Earth, found that the U.S. is not likely to meet 10 of the 17 SDG targets without more deliberate action, particularly the targets on Decent work and economic growth, inequality and climate action. The latter may be due to the fact that our combined policy responses to Climate Change to date fall short of our international commitments to reduce emissions.

Re-engaging a development agenda in the U.S. will require rethinking the purpose and practice of development at the local level. It must be about more than housing and property development. Community advocates working in environmental and economic justice realms will need to reconsider community development as a progressive political strategy. Most importantly, as we delve deeper into the conversation of global climate action, development is the platform through which a much wider and diverse segment of the population can participate. While the average person may not be able to analyze or articulate how much carbon by parts per million is safe in the atmosphere, he or she can talk about the social goals that should be prioritized as we attempt such a massive transition of our global economy.

Such reimagining sounds like a large task but it is already happening. New York City has already adapted its OneNYC plan to the Sustainable Development Goals in a document titled, “Global Vision/Urban Action” and foundations across the country have been meeting for over a year to discuss the role they can play in implementing the SDGs in the U.S.

David Roberts, writing for Vox, may have put it best:

When climate activists say, ‘We have the technology; all we need is the political will,’ they act like that’s good news. But think about the political will we need: to immediately cease fossil fuel exploration, start shutting down coal mines, and put in place a plan for managed decline of the fossil fuel industry; to double or triple the global budget for clean energy research, development, and deployment; to transfer billions of dollars from wealthy countries to poorer ones, to protect them from climate impacts they are most vulnerable to but least responsible for; and quite possibly, if it comes to it, to limit the consumptive choices of the globe’s wealthiest and most carbon-intensive citizens.

I think David lays out the sheer scale of the activity we must undertake.

A climate solution of that magnitude goes well beyond a mathematical formula for the least costly method of reducing carbon emissions in our atmosphere. It requires a global development agenda—one in which all nations are equal participants and engaged.

That is the opportunity the SDGs represent as a globally sanctioned framework and common language toward our collective future.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

KHALIL SHAHYD
Project Manager, Urban Solutions program

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

March 28, 2017

Trump’s Legacy: “Make China Great Again”?

The “slash-and-burn” approach of President Trump’s executive order on climate rules not only makes “one of humanity’s greatest ever challenges more difficult,” suggests Damian Carrington in The Guardian. It also leaves the door wide open for Beijing to assume America’s global leadership role.

China “is now taking dramatic action to cut emissions, pushed by the foul air many of its citizens suffer and pulled by the likelihood of the low-carbon economy being the greatest growth story of the 21st century,” he says.

“[G]iven the issue’s critical importance for all nations and their unprecedented cooperation to date, it might just signal the end of the U.S.’s dominance as the world’s preeminent political and economic power, with others taking up the mantle. Trump’s campaign pledge was ‘Make America great again’ – his legacy could be ‘Made China great again.’”

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China’s Been Busy on Mischief: Report

China has almost completed major construction of “military and dual-use infrastructure” on three reefs in disputed waters in the South China Sea, according to a new report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative think tank, based on satellite images. “Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time,” the report says.

Beijing, though, would dispute the disputed label, CNN reports. “Whether we decide to deploy or not deploy relevant military equipment, it is within our scope of sovereignty. It’s our right to self-defense and self-preservation as recognized by international law,” a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman is quoted as saying.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK TIMES FIRST PAGE SCIENCE

A Dream of Clean Energy at a Very High Price
By HENRY FOUNTAINMARCH 27, 2017

The doughnut-shaped fusion reactor, or tokamak, and other components are kept cool inside one of the world’s largest vacuum chambers.

SAINT-PAUL-LEZ-DURANCE, France — At a dusty construction site here amid the limestone ridges of Provence, workers scurry around immense slabs of concrete arranged in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge.

It looks like the beginnings of a large commercial power plant, but it is not.
The project, called ITER, is an enormous, and enormously complex and costly, physics experiment. But if it succeeds, it could determine the power plants of the future and
make an invaluable contribution to reducing planet-warming emissions.


ITER, short for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (and pronounced EAT-er), is being built to test a long-held dream: that nuclear fusion, the atomic reaction that takes place in the sun and in hydrogen bombs, can be controlled to generate power.

First discussed in 1985 at a United States-Soviet Union summit, the multinational effort, in which the European Union has a 45 percent stake and the United States, Russia, China and three other partners 9 percent each, has long been cited as a crucial step toward a future of near-limitless electric power.

ITER will produce heat, not electricity. But if it works — if it produces more energy than it consumes, which smaller fusion experiments so far have not been able to do — it could lead to plants that generate electricity without the climate-affecting carbon emissions of fossil-fuel plants or most of the hazards of existing nuclear reactors that split atoms rather than join them.


Mimicking the Sun

PLASMA CHAMBER
1 Central magnet induces a current in the plasma, which contains two hydrogen isotopes. Heating begins.

2 External magnets confine plasma as radio waves and microwaves heat it to 150 million degrees Celsius.

3 When plasma is at proper temperature and density, isotopes collide and fuse, releasing high-energy neutrons.

4 Neutrons hit blanket, converting energy into heat. Helium and impurities are removed through diverter at bottom of chamber.

5 In a fusion power plant, the heat would be used to make steam to spin a turbine and generate
electricity.

Success, however, has always seemed just a few decades away for ITER. The project has progressed in fits and starts for years, plagued by design and management problems that have led to long delays and ballooning costs.

ITER is moving ahead now, with a director-general, Bernard Bigot, who took over two years ago after an independent analysis that was highly critical of the project. Dr. Bigot, who previously ran France’s atomic energy agency, has earned high marks for resolving management problems and developing a realistic schedule based more on physics and engineering and less on politics.

“I do believe we are moving at full speed and maybe accelerating,” Dr. Bigot said in an interview.

The site here is now studded with tower cranes as crews work on the concrete structures that will support and surround the heart of the experiment, a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak. This is where the fusion reactions will take place, within a plasma, a roiling cloud of ionized atoms so hot that it can be contained only by extremely strong magnetic fields.

Pieces of the tokamak and other components, including giant superconducting electromagnets and a structure that at approximately 100 feet in diameter and 100 feet tall will be the largest stainless-steel vacuum vessel ever made, are being fabricated in the participating countries. Assembly is set to begin next year in a giant hall erected next to the tokamak site.

At the ITER construction site, immense slabs of concrete lie in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge. Credit ITER Organization

There are major technical hurdles in a project where the manufacturing and construction are on the scale of shipbuilding but the parts need to fit with the precision of a fine watch.

“It’s a challenge,” said Dr. Bigot, who devotes much of his time to issues related to integrating parts from various countries. “We need to be very sensitive about quality.”

Even if the project proceeds smoothly, the goal of “first plasma,” using pure hydrogen that does not undergo fusion, would not be reached for another eight years. A so-called burning plasma, which contains a fraction of an ounce of fusible fuel in the form of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, and can be sustained for perhaps six or seven minutes and release large amounts of energy, would not be achieved until 2035 at the earliest.

That is a half century after the subject of cooperating on a fusion project came up at a meeting in Geneva between President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. A functional commercial fusion power plant would be even further down the road.

“Fusion is very hard,” said Riccardo Betti, a researcher at the University of Rochester who has followed the ITER project for years. “Plasma is not your friend. It tries to do everything it can to really displease you.”

Main Tokamak Components

CENTRAL MAGNET
PLASMA CHAMBER AND DIVERTER (BLUE) TOROIDAL MAGNETS
POLOIDAL MAGNETS

Fusion is also very expensive. ITER estimates the cost of design and construction at about 20 billion euros (currently about $22 billion). But the actual cost of components may be higher in some of the participating countries, like the United States, because of high labor costs. The eventual total United States contribution, which includes an enormous central electromagnet capable, it is said, of lifting an aircraft carrier, has been estimated at about $4 billion.

Despite the recent progress there are still plenty of doubts about ITER, especially in the United States, which left the project for five years at the turn of the century and where funding through the Energy Department has long been a political football.

The department confirmed its support for ITER in a report last year and Congress approved $115 million for it. It is unclear, though, how the project will fare in the Trump administration, which has proposed a cut of roughly 20 percent to the department’s Office of Science, which funds basic research including ITER. (The department also funds another long-troubled fusion project, which uses lasers, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.)

Dr. Bigot met with the new energy secretary, Rick Perry, last week in Washington, and said he found Mr. Perry “very open to listening” about ITER and its long-term goals. “But he has to make some short-term choices” with his budget, Dr. Bigot said.

Energy Department press aides did not respond to requests for comment.

Some in Congress, including Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, while lauding Dr. Bigot’s efforts, argue that the project already consumes too much of the Energy Department’s basic research budget of about $5 billion.

Pillars at the ITER Cryoplant in Provencal; Bernard Bigot, the ITER director-general, previously ran France’s atomic energy agency. Credit ITER Organization
“I remain concerned that continuing to support the ITER project would come at the expense of other Office of Science priorities that the Department of Energy has said are more important — and that I consider more important,” Mr. Alexander said in a statement.

While it is not clear what would happen to the project if the United States withdrew, Dr. Bigot argues that it is in every participating country’s interest to see it through. “You have a chance to know if fusion works or not,” he said. “If you miss this chance, maybe it will never come again.”

But even scientists who support ITER are concerned about the impact it has on other research.

“People around the country who work on projects that are the scientific basis for fusion are worried that they’re in a no-win situation,” said William Dorland, a physicist at the University of Maryland who is chairman of the plasma science committee of the National Academy of Sciences. “If ITER goes forward, it might eat up all the money. If it doesn’t expand and the U.S. pulls out, it may pull down a lot of good science in the downdraft.”

In the ITER tokamak, deuterium and tritium nuclei will fuse to form helium, losing a small amount of mass that is converted into a huge amount of energy. Most of the energy will be carried away by neutrons, which will escape the plasma and strike the walls of the tokamak, producing heat.

In a fusion power plant, that heat would be used to make steam to turn a turbine to generate electricity, much as existing power plants do using other sources of heat, like burning coal. ITER’s heat will be dissipated through cooling towers.

There is no risk of a runaway reaction and meltdown as with nuclear fission and, while radioactive waste is produced, it is not nearly as long-lived as the spent fuel rods and irradiated components of a fission reactor.

To fuse, atomic nuclei must move very fast — they must be extremely hot — to overcome natural repulsive forces and collide. In the sun, the extreme gravitational field does much of the work. Nuclei need to be at a temperature of about 15 million degrees Celsius.

In a tokamak, without such a strong gravitational pull, the atoms need to be about 10 times hotter. So enormous amounts of energy are required to heat the plasma, using pulsating magnetic fields and other sources like microwaves. Just a few feet away, on the other hand, the windings of the superconducting electromagnets need to be cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero. Needless to say, the material and technical challenges are extreme.

Although all fusion reactors to date have produced less energy than they use, physicists are expecting that ITER will benefit from its larger size, and will produce about 10 times more power than it consumes. But they will face many challenges, chief among them developing the ability to prevent instabilities in the edges of the plasma that can damage the experiment.

Even in its early stages of construction, the project seems overwhelmingly complex. Embedded in the concrete surfaces are thousands of steel plates. They seem to be scattered at random throughout the structure, but actually are precisely located. ITER is being built to French nuclear plant standards, which prohibit drilling into concrete. So the plates — eventually about 80,000 of them — are where other components of the structure will be attached as construction progresses.

A mistake or two now could wreak havoc a few years down the road, but Dr. Bigot said that in this and other work on ITER, the key to avoiding errors was taking time.

“People consider that it’s long,” he said, referring to critics of the project timetable. “But if you want full control of quality, you need time.”

Twitter: @henryfountain

RELATED COVERAGE

‘Learning Curve’ as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood JAN. 18, 2017

Start-Ups Take On Challenge of Nuclear Fusion OCT. 25, 2015

The Challenge: How to Keep Fusion Going Long Enough MARCH 17, 2014

Giant Laser Complex Makes Fusion Advance, Finally FEB. 12, 2014

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A version of this article appears in print on March 28, 2017, on Page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Dream Machine.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 17th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


UNITED NATIONS, UNICEF AND SMURFS TEAM UP TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS.

Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign inspires support for Sustainable Development Goals.

The UNF, New York, March 18 – Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village today joined officials from the United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation at the world body’s headquarters in New York to celebrate International Day of Happiness with a campaign promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign is designed to encourage young people everywhere to learn about and support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 to help make the world more peaceful, equitable and healthy.
As part of the celebrations, Team Smurfs recognized three young advocates — Karan Jerath (20), Sarina Divan (17), and Noor Samee (17) — for their actions to promote the Goals.

Jerath, a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, invented a containment device that could prevent offshore oil spills and ensure the protection of marine life. Divan expanded a UN Foundation girl empowerment initiative at her high school and beyond, and Samee is a UNICEF blogger and advocate on social justice issues and raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The movie’s U.S. stars — Demi Lovato, Joe Manganiello and Mandy Patinkin — presented the three young students with a symbolic key to the Smurfs Village in recognition of their work.

“This inspirational campaign highlights the fact that each and every one of us, no matter how young or old, small or big, can make our world a better and happier place,” said Cristina Gallach, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. “We are grateful to creative partners like Sony Pictures Animation and Team Smurfs for their spirit of collaboration in helping the UN reach diverse audiences.”

The Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign culminates on the International Day of Happiness on 20 March, which emphasizes the importance of personal happiness and well-being. The idea is closely linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include decent work for all, access to nutritious food, quality education and health services, and freedom from discrimination.

“Today we have seen how the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign is giving children and young people a platform to speak out about issues they are passionate about. As we celebrate International Day of Happiness, we hope many more young people are empowered to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals and help achieve a world free from poverty, inequality and injustice,” said Caryl M. Stern, UNICEF US Fund President and CEO.

The actors and UN officials addressed some 1,500 students attending an international Model UN conference in the iconic General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, where they encouraged all participants and the public to join “Team Smurfs”.

The campaign invites the general public to visit SmallSmurfsBigGoals.com to find out how to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and share information, ideas and images on social media.

The actors also premiered a new public service announcement video starring cast members of the film that inspires viewers to join the campaign and champion the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We hope the campaign will help us all think about how our actions impact the planet,” said Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the movie. “Every one of us, even a Small Smurf, can accomplish Big Goals!”

The United Nations Postal Administration closed out the blue carpet event by unveiling a special edition stamp sheet featuring the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign. The film cast along with the Belgian Ambassador to the United Nations, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Management, Stephen Cutts, presented the Small Smurfs Big Goals UN stamps to the press.

Along with the event at the United Nations, other celebrations took place in 18 countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Russia and the UK, to name a few, to help raise awareness for the “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign and the Goals.

“Since 1958, the Smurfs have embodied around the world the universal values of camaraderie, helping one another, tolerance, optimism, and respecting Mother Nature,” said Véronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs. “It’s been an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF with this campaign focused on raising awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals.”

On March 20, festivities for the International Day of Happiness will culminate in a special ceremony with the film cast along with United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation officials where they will help turn the Empire State Building blue to commemorate the occasion.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Exxon eyes Israel after Cyprus win

 www.globes.co.il/en/article-exxon…

9 Mar, 2017 14:09
Nati Yefet

After winning a Cypriot government tender, Exxon Mobile has expressed interest in bidding for Israeli natural gas tenders.

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met last week with senior executives from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell during his visit to the US. The minister’s associates say that while Royal Dutch Shell will probably not take part in the new tender for oil and gas exploration licenses in Israeli waters, the Exxon Mobil executives came equipped with a great deal of relevant information, and expressed interest in the tender.

The reason is allegedly the announcement two days ago that Exxon had won a tender for oil and gas exploration in Block 10 in Cyprus as part of a consortium with Qatar Petroleum. A group composed of Italian company ENI and Total, and ENI by itself, won the concession for two other blocks in the tender.

In a fourth block already held by Total, the company asked the Cypriot government for permission to add ENI as a 50% partner in the license, because the block is located only six kilometers away from the Egyptian Zohr gas reservoir discovered by ENI. Total expects ENI’s extensive knowledge of the geology in the area to be of use in finding gas in Cyprus.

Steinitz’s associates say that since Exxon is starting to prepare for activity in a nearby area, the company believes that it is likely to prove worthwhile to develop parallel activity in Israel, and to use the same transportation infrastructure to export gas discovered in both countries to Europe.

Steinetz went to Europe early this week, and flew from there to New York and Houston for a week of meetings with energy concerns. In Rome, he met with his Italian counterpart, and held meetings in New York with the Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan investments banks, as well as with a group of private investors organized by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). In Houston, he took part in the CERAweek energy conference, and held meetings with energy companies.

Steinitz told “Globes,” I was surprised to see energy ministers and representatives of energy companies from all over the world congratulate us on the beginning of development in Leviathan, after years of delay. Almost everyone had assumed that Leviathan was a lost cause… especially given the global crisis in investments in oil and gas fields and the fact that some of the deep water projects of the Leviathan type have been canceled or postponed in various places around the world.


“In meetings with some of the world’s largest investment banks, they noted the change in Israel’s image in the energy market, from a place to be avoided into a responsible country attractive for energy investments in general, and private gas in particular. The plans we displayed for building an undersea pipeline to Turkey, and from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and Italy, aroused a surprising degree of interest.”

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Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – www.globes-online.com – on March 9, 2017
and appears in many Israeli publications, i.e. The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2017

SustainabiliTank, sorry for the Trump Administration’s definitive efforts to undo the Obama Administration’s great successes in decreasing the place of oil in the global energy markets,
sees now a decreasing importance of the EPA, Energy Policy, Environment Policy and Global Climate Change avoidance. But also a planed subservience of The State Department to the US oil Interests – the revival of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in the Governing of the USA.
Geting the present Israel Government interested in the cooperation in developing sea resources could perhaps take off some of the pressure in the political arena, though clearly inctreasing
pressure against the potential of an Iranian sea base on Syrian soil. All of this within Israel and US State Department attention.

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