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Green Energy is Good For The Planet, But Bad For Its Most Vulnerable Populations

Green Energy is Good For The Planet, But Bad For Its Most Vulnerable Populations 86

Current U.S. President Donald Trump, like all candidates, made a lot of promises before the election. One of his biggest was directed towards coal workers, to whom he vowed to end the “war on coal,” and bring back the “beautiful” coal industry. Trump claimed that “clean coal” would ensure that “coal will last for 1,000 years in this country.” (We won’t get into the fact that clean coal doesn’t exist the way Trump thinks it does. That’s a topic for another day.)

The problem with all of these promises? As any energy expert will roundly tell you, coal is on its way out. Though coal saw a slight jump in exports in 2017 (thanks to demand from Asia), coal consumption in the U.S. has declined every year for the past decade. It’s largely being replaced by cheap natural gas. China, which has taken over as the globe’s biggest coal consumer, is working to make its coal-fired plants more efficient and to eliminate coal usage altogether in the long term.

That suggests coal workers are being set up for failure. And Trump’s coal-friendly policies simply postpone the inevitable end of this industry.

New research by researchers at Indiana University seeks to address exactly this problem: how can we buoy communities that rely on jobs in fossil fuel industries so that they can transition into a future of green energy?

“The energy transition will bring many benefits to society,” said Sanya Carley, Indiana University (IU) associate professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, in a press release. “But the benefits, as well as the costs, will not be dispersed proportionately across society.”

Carley and her co-authors used a tool called the Vulnerability Scoping Diagram, which has previously been used to identify communities susceptible to the impacts of natural hazards and climate change, to identify geographic areas and individuals that will feel the brunt of the clean energy transition.

Unsurprisingly, they found that the most vulnerable communities were those places where fossil fuels play a large role of the local economy, as well as places where individuals cannot afford the increased costs of cleaner energy. For example, the researchers found that counties in Texas, California, Hawaii, and New York would face the greatest financial difficulty from renewable portfolio policies, in which states require a certain portion of electricity to be generated from renewable sources.

The authors suggest that the tool could be used to target these populations for special programs, such as job retraining, or financial assistance.

“It is important to document adverse effects of policies, not in an attempt to undermine their credibility or efficacy, but to better understand their limitations and unintended consequences,” said co-author David Konisky, an associate professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, in the press release.

It’s definitely better for everyone in the long run to handle the end of the fossil fuels with compassion for the people whose work relies on them. Helping those who are the most affected by the switch could even speed up the transition. It might even identify towns with workers that might be good candidates to employ in the rapidly-growing renewable energy sector.

Promises aside, coal’s heyday is indisputably over. And given the adverse affects coal had on both human health and the environment, that’s a good thing. If policy-makers take vulnerable populations more into account and help them move towards a future reliant on renewable energy, maybe they’d be on board, too.

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Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 87

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 88

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 89

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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