MIT Engineers Create Concept Hybrid-Electric Plane to Address Aviation Pollution

by Arun

According to MIT news, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently come up with “a concept for airplane propulsion that they estimate would eliminate 95 percent of aviation’s NOx emissions, and thereby reduce the number of associated early deaths by 92 percent.”

The aviation industry has had a strong history of pollution, with the rise only slated to continue. Scientists estimate that aviation, left unchecked,  will generate approximately 43 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2050. Furthermore, according to WorldWildLife, if air pollution was a nation, it would be one of the top 10 carbon-pollution nations on the planet. With the world shifting to renewable and alternative forms of energy in other methods of transportation such as automobiles, scooters, and even trains, it was inevitable a shift would soon come to the ever-growing aviation industry. 

So what have the researchers come up with?

The researchers have developed a unique hybrid-electric design where a plane’s conventional gas turbine would be integrated within the plane’s cargo hold. This would allow it so that “rather than directly powering propellers or fans, the gas turbine would drive a generator also in the hold, to produce electricity, which would then electrically power the plane’s wing-mounted, electrically driven propellers or fans.” As a result, the gas-produced emissions would clean the exhaust before ejecting it into the atmosphere. In this regard, the plane would be able to be more fuel efficient and be more eco-friendly.

Steven Barrett, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT cautions that “this would still be a tremendous engineering challenge,” yet still is very optimistic about the viability of the project. Assuming the system will be widely accepted, the engineers estimate that about 92 percent of pollution-related aviation deaths would be effectively eliminated.

As technology advances and renewable energy becomes more widespread, economized, and accepted, the future looks bright as industries start shifting towards greener alternatives, with the possibilities growing endlessly.

Image link: https://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/news/a28540/boeing-backed-electric-plane-fly-2020s/

Jeff Bezos Made the Largest Charitable Donation of 2020, All Towards Climate Change

by Arun

Jeff Bezos is largely known as the leader of Amazon who revolutionized the way we go about shopping and for spurning the wave of e-commerce. Yet little know that Bezos also leads several philanthropic efforts, one being his startup Blue Origin, dedicated to “making access to space cheaper and more reliable through reusable launch vehicles.” Most recently, Bezos revealed perhaps his most ambitious initiative, claiming the title as one of the largest contributors towards funding the fight against the climate crisis. He has led a $10 billion dollar climate fund to which he will distribute to 16 organizations. The significance of this investment is that the $10 billion Bezos is committing is 10 times as much combined as all philanthropic foundations dedicated towards efforts to combat climate change in 2018.

So far, Bezos has paid out $790 million to 16 different groups, with the number growing as Bezos continues to seek organizations to support monetarily.

On the heels of Elon Musk now becoming the richest man in the world, a trend of technological companies and leaders shifting towards fighting climate change has a strong showing. Venture Capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya supported this idea, stating in October 2019 that “the world’s first trillionaire will be made in climate change.” More recently, Palihapitiya supplemented his comment in congratulations of Musk, stating that “the world’s richest person should be somebody who’s fighting climate change.” Other tech billionaires have joined the effort, including Bill Gates, who has recently unveiled a plan revealing how US Leadership could effectively fight climate, noted in a plan that involves a $25 billion boost in spending, creating over 370,000 new jobs in the process as well.

With more joining in the fight against climate change – from current to former technology CEOS and influential members in the financial community – the future of support looks strong as many seek to fight out any way in which they can contribute. 

Image link: https://wallpapercave.com/jeff-bezos-wallpapers

Online Shopping: Bad for the Environment?

by Arun

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping as a means to buy goods has been on the rise. E-commerce sales have exploded as a result, with companies like Amazon, JD.com, Alibaba, Etsy, Shopify, and related companies reaping the benefit of the “modern” consumer spending means and habits.

This peaks on November 11th each year, as China, the world’s biggest consumer market, has the black friday equivalent overseas, called “Singles’ Day.” E-commerce giants have experienced huge sales on that day, with over $76 billion dollars in total sales with over 583,000 sales made in one single second (aljazeera.com). Yet, a consideration that is almost never thought of is the carbon footprint that comes as a result of online shopping. Online shopping has received praise over the years as being green, eco-friendly, and convenient, though recent findings may prove otherwise.

As a result of all the order, 675 million packages had to be delivered, with over 9.4 million tons of packaging, with that number expected to increase to about 41 million tons by the year 2025. A study by Greenpeace estimates that on Singles’ day, the resulting purchases generated about 52,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping in 2017. To put that into perspective with the trend of online shopping, this figure is expected to 5x by the year 2025. This brings about the concern that online shopping perhaps makes it too easy to buy products at the click of a few buttons.

China’s President Xi Jinping has recognized this issue and has been pushing these larger corporations to support more environmentally-friendly options. Some larger corporations have tried to adapt to new regulations by implementing zipper boxes and sorts of tape, though it is harder for smaller businesses as these adaptations are often more expensive than simple, common packaging.

As online shopping and package-use will inevitably increase in the future, it brings about the need for stricter regulations and more societal support for these issues. With the impact of consumer spending and the related carbon footprint set to increase over the next decade, it warrants immediate action from all ends of society to make a difference.

Image Link: https://www.monsterinsights.com/50-breathtaking-online-shopping-statistics-you-never-knew/

Over 50 Countries Commit to Protection of 30% of Land and Ocean on Earth

by Arun

This past week, over 50 countries committed to a project to protect over 30% of the land and ocean on the plan by the year 2020 in an effort to slow down the effects of the climate crisis.

The organization behind this pact, The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, agreed to the terms shortly before the One Planet summit in Paris on Monday.

According to The Guardian, “the HAC said protecting at least 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade was crucial to preventing mass extinctions of plants and animals, and ensuring the natural production of clean air and water.” Additionally, there are hopes that other countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Pakistan, Japan, and Canada would also join the agreement to set stage for a larger world movement.

Over the course of the One Planet summit, several countries additionally committed to investing billions of government funding into environmental projects such as the Great Green Wall in Africa. Independently, the UK government has also committed over $3 billion USD to support nature and biodiversity over the next five years.

In fact, biodiversity was a hot topic at the conference. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “we are destroying the species and habitat at an absolutely unconscionable rate. Of all the mammals in the world, I think I am right in saying that 96% of mammals are now human beings or livestock that human beings rely upon.” Johnson points out how humans have reduced biodiversity and as an established “dominant species” are disproportionately affecting the natural cycles of wildlife and diversity.

The steps taken at the summit may have been large, but they stand for far more than that. The future looks bright as politicians get behind efforts to mitigate the climate crisis and unite towards creating change that will last generations and create a cleaner world for humans and wildlife alike.

Image Link: https://www.oneplanetsummit.fr/en

A Year in Review: A Challenging 2020 for the Environment

As 2020 comes to a close, we reflect on what has largely been a difficult and turbulent year for the world. Amid a global pandemic, the world’s landscape has changed and our way of life forever altered. Over a course of a resilient humanity and a different scope of the way we now see our lives, we have impacted – in both good ways and bad – the environment every step of the way. As we reflect on what came to be over the course of 2020, we acknowledge the difficulties that come with shutting down economies around the globe that resulted in decreases, then increases in pollution. It has surely been an equally turbulent year for the environment, experiencing some of the highest pollution and differences we have ever seen. Looking forward to seeing what 2021 has to bring, here is a list of some of the most notable changes from this year.

– The Incentive Team

Can Carbon Capture Stop Climate Change?

https://theincentive.org/2020/03/17/can-carbon-capture-stop-climate-change/

How Half the World’s Beaches Could Disappear by the End of the Century

https://theincentive.org/2020/03/17/how-half-the-worlds-beaches-could-disappear-by-the-end-of-the-century/

Here’s How Plant-Based Meats are Reducing the Carbon Footprint of the Agriculture Industry

https://theincentive.org/2020/03/01/heres-how-plant-based-meats-are-reducing-the-carbon-footprint-of-the-agriculture-industry/

Sweden’s Efficient Recycling Process the World Needs to Adapt for a Better Future

https://theincentive.org/2020/03/01/swedens-efficient-recycling-process-the-world-needs-to-adapt-for-a-better-future/

European Union Votes for 60% Cut in Emissions by 2030

https://theincentive.org/2020/10/17/european-union-votes-for-60-cut-in-emissions-by-2030/

China Looks to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2060

https://theincentive.org/2020/10/14/china-looks-to-achieve-carbon-neutrality-by-2060/

Protecting Peat Bogs Can Avert Global Warming Effects

https://theincentive.org/2020/10/12/protecting-peat-bogs-can-avert-global-warming-effects/

Nuclear Fusion: Solution to the Climate Crisis?

by Arun

President-elect Joe Biden has a vision for the United States that sees the elimination of all greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2035, as a result of the wide-spread adoption of the economization of renewable energy from the wind and sun. Recent findings from researchers may speed up this timeline, as they found promising results that nuclear fusion may be a possible solution to the climate crisis.

The researchers are developing promising technology that generates more energy than it consumes. Though there is no prototype yet and the reactor is still in development, scientists behind what is called the “Sparc,” believe it will be capable of producing electricity for the grid by 2030. In an interview, one of the project’s senior scientists built on the optimism by saying that “fusion seems like one of the possible solutions to get ourselves out of our impending climate disaster.” 

What is Nuclear Fusion?

By definition, nuclear fusion is “a nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei of low atomic number fuse to form a heavier nucleus with the release of a large amount of energy.” The scientists hope that by harnessing this large release of energy, they will be able to produce large amounts of energy that will supplement daily electricity usage. But what is actually the challenge of this project is actually harnessing the energy, in addition to nuclear fusion being equally very dangerous and powerful. It is more promising than the nuclear fission reactors that we see today, as fusion produces no greenhouse gases or carbon, and does not have risks of a meltdown.

The science behind the device is far more complicated, and to learn more about the MIT-based team, projects, and ventures, follow this link: https://www.psfc.mit.edu/sparc

The initial results of the project seem promising, yet being able to scale the project and effectively being able to harness the energy without letting any escape and causing related catastrophes are yet to be nailed down. The exploratory project, however, seems to be very exciting and met with a lot of optimism and it seems to be a feasible alternative to scaling renewable energy and promoting a greener world.

How Air Pollution Can Be Helpful in Developing Hurricane Path Models

by Arun

New research by a team of atmospheric scientists surprisingly found that industrial air pollution can actually help link hurricane path models to their cause. According to eos.org, researchers on the team compared models with aerosols to those without with observed data in relation to Hurricane Harvey’s path and rainfall, coming to the conclusion that air pollution was an influential factor that actually drove some of the catastrophic flooding in Houston and surrounding areas. They proved that current models didn’t predict the rainfall accurately because the aerosols the study considered and came with accurate results had not been previously addressed.

Why are aerosols so important?

Research surrounding the relationships between air pollution and storms has been a hot topic for atmospheric scientists recently as they seek to more accurately predict and determine causal effects for many natural disasters. Eos states that “particulate matter, especially very fine soot, can hover in the air for extended periods of time before settling to the ground, providing a focal point around which water molecules can condense. When water droplets form around the particles, a small amount of heat is released. In this way, more pollution leads to more condensed water and more heat, which in turn produces heavier rainfall and more intense lightning.”

In short, air pollution directly causes heavier rainfall as it allows for greater collection of water droplets and their concentration, allowing them to further condense.

The findings can be particularly useful for future hurricane modeling as it will allow scientists to look for air pollution patterns and accurately designate them as zones for heavier rainfall. In that regard, it will allow for greater protection for affected citizens and more information to spread around.

Another largely important finding this study brings about is yet again the effect that pollution is having on our lives, especially in the case of natural disasters. It brings about the need to be more cautious and mindful in the ways we pollute and the way we approach fuel, gas usage, and any other sort of environmental harm.

Study Shows Excess Plastic Pollution Causing Camels to Die

by Arun

A study done recently that has been published in the Journal of Arid Environments states that 1% of camels in the United Arab Emirates are dying due to the plastic they are unintentionally ingesting. The researchers, who looked through the remains of over 30,000 dead camels for their study, found that over 300 of them had large amounts of plastic in their stomachs. This is startling, as a figure of 1% is extremely high given the population of camels in the UAE. This is similar to ocean life and their plastic pollution which several creatures mistake for food.

The UAE is one of the largest homes for camels across the globe with over 459,000 camels. There have been issues in the past with these camels aside from pollution, as a research article published in December of 2015 showed that camels in the UAE also contained dangerous parasites. Plastic pollution, however, seems to be far more dangerous, wide-spread, and something that we can fix.

These camels are vulnerable creatures for ingesting plastic, as they most commonly eat plastic bags that drift and land alongside roads.

Study co-author Marcus Eriksen says he doesn’t blame the camels. He told onegreenplanet (onegreenplanet.org) that “If [the camels] see a plastic bag stuck in a tree… or stuck against a fence, they might think, ‘Oh, that’s a novel piece of food,’ and they’ll consume it.” The camels won’t know good from bad, and whatever drifts their way is what they will eat as a source of food. This situation comes at the square responsibility of society around the globe which has consistently increased the use of single-use plastics despite sustainability needs. A major issue that is presented is that plastic bags are often more economical and far more convenient. There are no incentives in place globally to not use plastic bags, and often, alternatives are not offered.

Biden Selects Brenda Mallory to Lead Environmental Quality Council

by Arun

This past week, President-elect Joe Biden picked Brenda Mallory to lead the Environmental Quality Council, putting her in a position to coordinate government-wide initiatives that will mitigate climate change and encourage sustainable development. Her selection comes at the heels of several other picks Biden has made as he assembles his cabinet and team that will carry out the entirety of his agenda.

What does the council do?

According to the New York Times, The Environmental Quality Council is “a division of the office of the president, and plays a behind-the-scenes role in federal environmental policy.” The council’s main role is the coordination of government-led initiatives and often works in concordance with the larger agencies like the Interior Department or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Brenda Mallory currently serves as the director of regulatory policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center and has worked on issues ranging from pollution to land conservation. She is also a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, and has spent over 15 years at various positions within the Environmental Protection Agency.  Under the Obama administration, where she had the role of general counsel, she pioneered efforts that created new national monuments.

Moreover, she also helped lead The Climate 21 Project, which has given recommendations and guidelines for how the government can address climate change effectively, which lines in with the ideals of the Council on Environmental Quality as they stated that “[the council] is best suited to elevate environmental justice to the White House and to lead the agenda on climate change resilience.”

Bill Gates’s Plan for US Leadership to Combat Climate Change

by Arun

Bill Gates, famously known for his prominence as a big tech CEO as the co-founder of Microsoft has not seen his influence diminish since he left Microsoft’s day-to-day operations in 2008. He now dedicates his time to philanthropy, improving developing countries, and humanitarian efforts – most recently, with climate change. Gates unveiled a plan of how US Leadership could effectively fight climate, noted in a plan that involves a $25 billion boost in spending, creating over 370,000 new jobs in the process as well.

Another key note in his plan is the outline for the creation of a network of “National Institutes of Energy Innovation.” Gates writes that there should be separate institutions that focus on separate facets of the environment like carbon capture, energy storage, and renewable technology. Additionally, Gates adds that the innovation taken by these institutes, which will be located around the country, should also be prepared to be commercialized in order to see any real impact.

Gates’s involvement in fighting climate change follows the now increasing trend of technology CEOs and major corporations joining to promote environmental awareness. Jeff Bezos has been another big name in this regard, as he has led a $10 billion dollar climate fund to which he will distribute to 16 organizations. The $10 billion Bezos is committing is 10 times as much as all philanthropic foundations dedicated towards efforts to combat climate change in 2018. In suit, Microsoft said in January that it would spend $1 billion over four years “on technologies that remove planet-heating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

With industry leaders and major corporations backed by significant amounts of money, the fight towards mitigating climate change seems all the more stronger. As big money joins the effort, it brings up the importance of how all people – for-profit corporations and individuals alike – have a responsibility to participate in the fight for a better environment.

Image: https://pixelz.cc/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/bill-gates-microsoft-portrait-uhd-4k-wallpaper.jpg