Los Angeles doesn’t have a great environmental reputation. It’s the car capital of the United States. It’s famous for its curtains of smog, and for stealing a bunch of water once.
But the city is in the midst of a metamorphosis. With fewer, yet stronger storms on the horizon, it’s begun an ambitious plan to cut its reliance on imported water in half by 2025. And it’s emerging as a leader in the frantic international quest to curb emissions—in 2016 alone, it slashed emissions by 11 percent, the equivalent of taking more than 700,000 cars off the road.
This week, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti joined other leaders, along with activists and business leaders, at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The mission? Stop climate change before it destroys the planet, and our species along with it. Garcetti sat down with WIRED for two interviews, which we have combined and condensed, to talk about how to turn LA into a greentech testbed, why cities have to compete in order to save the world, and what the city can learn from its infamous water wars.
Matt Simon: In what way are cities uniquely positioned to be leaders on climate change?
Eric Garcetti: There’s never been more people living in cities, and many of them control directly the most important national assets, like ports and airports and utilities. We have a culture of trying new things, whereas in Washington and other national capitals it’s like, Oh make sure it’s perfect before it comes to us and then we’ll scale it up. Cities are those laboratories of democracy that states used to be. In a city like LA, we’re trying to get to this idea of a city as a platform.
MS: So what is LA doing about emissions? It’s known as a place of cars, of course, is that part of it? Is it renewable energy?
EG: In Los Angeles, we can’t afford not to do all of the above, from energy generation to our building codes to transportation including personal transportation, our mass transit, and our goods movement from the port and our logistical network. We’re the number one solar city in America—we’ve made a pledge to go to 100 percent renewable power, we’re reducing our water imports, which consumes a lot of energy. We’re cleaning up the port of LA, which is now the greenest port in the world, and made a pledge to go to zero emissions by 2035.
In 2016, the last year we measured, we were down 11 percent, which is the equivalent of 737,000 cars off the road. And by the way, that same year unemployment went down 14 percent. So this whole myth that you can’t do that and expand the economy, we’re laying to rest, I hope.
MS: People throw their arms up about that—you can’t do renewable energy, it’ll kill jobs.
EG: We generated 30,000 new green jobs since I’ve been mayor, so in five years. To put that in perspective, there’s 50,000 coal jobs left in America. So this town that’s just 1 percent, roughly, of the US population has created the equivalent of 60 percent of the remaining coal jobs left in America. Appalachia should be doing that, areas that have been hard hit by a recession and not recovered. These are generally good middle class jobs too, not just minimum wage.
MS: There’s this interesting dynamic between cities working on this problem that is at once competitive, but also collaborative.
EG: When Shenzhen says, I’ve got 100 percent already of our bus fleet electrified and all of our taxis, that’s good competition for LA to try to catch. And it’s collaborative in the sense that when people back in LA say there’s no way we can electrify our buses by 2030, I can point to the fact that Shenzhen in China just did it and it took them two and a half, three years. It begins to change people’s attitudes.
MS: How much are you enlisting the populace in this? Is it about changing behavior on a wide scale?
EG: It’s everything from 25,000 car chargers by 2025, to the work that we’re doing to make sure people reduce their water consumption, because we have to use a lot of electricity to bring that water to them. Recycling is now 75 percent. The goal for all megacities is to get to 70 percent, we’re already at 75 percent. And that’s human behavior of sorting, recycling and demanding. So the most important work is actually in-house, in your own place of work, in your own habits. And then secondarily in what you demand from your elected representatives.
MS: You mentioned water, and I think this is a really key component, especially for LA.
EG: We need to build cities that can survive what is happening, and what will continue to happen even if we can reverse this. Which is there will still be decades of hotter days, extreme weather, and social and health disruptions.
William Mulholland, the great engineer who built out our water system, as told in Chinatown and other movies—I say this is kind of our second Mulholland moment to reengineer a system that instead of stealing other people’s water, we’ll recycle, reuse, reduce our water consumption. The fact that my residents stepped up and reduced, in a year, 20 percent of their water use shows we can absolutely do this without feeling it.
MS: Say a city is looking to get into this sort of thing, to clean themselves up, what one piece of advice would you give them?
EG: I’d say go big and be personal. Stretch farther than you think you can reach. And boil it down in human terms. Don’t talk about tons of carbon or millions of vehicles. Talk about people’s health and sickness and firefighters who are dying on the line with historic fires caused by drought. This isn’t about environmentalists who are hobbyists in a little peripheral policy area. This is about everybody’s health and their lives. People are dying and those who aren’t dying are all suffering under the weight of what’s happening.
Once a Year at 11:11 am the Sun Shines Perfectly on this Memorial
At precisely 11:11 a.m. each Veterans Day (Nov. 11), the sun’s rays pass through the ellipses of the five Armed Services pillars to form a perfect solar spotlight over a mosaic of The Great Seal of the United States.
The Anthem Veterans Memorial, located in Anthem, Arizona, is a monument dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of the United States armed forces. The pillar provides a place of honor and reflection for veterans, their family and friends, and those who want to show their respects to those service men and women who have and continue to courageously serve the United States.
The memorial was designed by Anthem resident Renee Palmer-Jones. The five marble pillars represent the five branches of the United States military. They are staggered in size (from 17 ft to 6 ft) and ordered in accordance with the Department of Defense prescribed precedence, ranging from the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard.
Additionally, the brick pavers within the Circle of Honor are inscribed with the names of over 750 U.S. servicemen and women, symbolizing the ‘support’ for the Armed Forces. The pavers are red, the pillars are white, and the sky is blue to represent America’s flag. The circle represents an unbreakable border. Anthem resident and chief engineer, Jim Martin was responsible for aligning the memorial accurately with the sun.
– Arizona Historic Landmark Designation 2012 – Arizona Historical Society
– Arizona Public Works Project of the Year Award 2012 – Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association
– ACEC 2012 Grand Award – Best Engineering and Environmental Consulting Project
Anthem Veterans Memorial
41703 N. Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Veterans Day is an official United States holiday that honors people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I (major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect).
The United States also originally observed Armistice Day; it then evolved into the current Veterans Day holiday in 1954. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving. [source]
Could Earth Have Been Seeded With Life?
How did life begin? The biggest question mankind has asked itself. Where did we come from? The idea that gods from the heavens had provided the seed of life has been supported by many researchers. End of the day we may have been looking into the correct direction: a breakthrough study claims that the so-called building blocks of life, the elements that are the backbone of organic molecules which form living matter, came to Earth from outer space.
Evidence of seeding
According to a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and their colleagues from France and Taiwan, phosphates and diphosphoric acid, two major chemicals that form chromosomes carrying our genetic information, were generated billions of kilometers away from our planet and were delivered to Earth by space wanderers such as asteroids or comets.
The scientists used a vacuum chamber cooled down to near absolute zero to simulate interstellar icy grains coated with carbon dioxide, water, and phosphine.
When exposed to radiation, these grains created both phosphates and diphosphoric acid. “On Earth, phosphine is lethal to living beings,” said Andrew Turner of the University of Hawaii.
“But in the interstellar medium, an exotic phosphine chemistry can promote rare chemical reaction pathways to initiate the formation of biorelevant molecules such as oxoacids of phosphorus, which eventually might spark the molecular evolution of life as we know it.”
Scientists suggested that these phosphorus oxoacids could be traced back to an interstellar medium, the materials that fill the space between stars, which are delivered to Earth by comets or meteorites.
Panspermia is a mechanism that allows biology to spread through space without needing a spaceship. Living matter “hitches a ride on sunlight or inside rocks.” Some scientists believe that Mars was indeed inhabited at one time. Some space rocks were “kicked” off the planet and landed in a “suitably welcoming patch” on Earth. Biological material from Mars that was in the rocks may spur exploration into the search for the solution to the age-old question: Where do we come from and why are we here? There are several theories that relate to extraterrestrials.
There are suggestions that aliens escape from an unknown planet and come here due to dire circumstances on their home planets and most likely we are descendants of this race. Environmentalist and ecologist turned author Dr. Ellis Silver believes we may have come from Alpha Centauri. The planet may have suffered some type of cataclysmic event from which a few residents were able to escape and come to Earth.
Other scientists believe that, eons ago, Humanoids inhabited Mars but a war destroyed the livability of the planet. This could have been due to the equivalent of two hydrogen bombs exploding on Mars 300,000 to 1 million years ago. Is it possible some living beings were able to escape to Earth before the destruction?
There are many mysteries and controversial theories for which there seems to be more questions than answers.
Rare T. Rex Relative Discovered in New Mexico
They don’t look remarkable to the untrained eye. The skull bones are fragmentary, unrecognizable to most. The story of a fearsome tyrannosaur, who lived millions of years before T. rex, would remain lost to the ages had it not been for the fossil’s discovery in New Mexico by a dedicated team of dinosaur hunters.
Digging in rock known to be approximately 80 million years old, but also infamous for its lack of fossil preservation, paleontologists Andrew McDonald, Douglas Wolfe, and their team searched for remnants of life in the Menefee Formation of New Mexico. This particular geologic formation was part of Laramidia, the western part of the ancient continent that eventually became the North America we know today.
Clues were there from the very beginning: Most of the bones were hollow and the skull segments were distinctive. Excited, McDonald knew these indicated a theropod. But what kind?
Theropods were bipedal dinosaurs and most, but not all, were carnivorous. Tyrannosaurus rex is the most well known type of theropod, but it’s just one of a very diverse group of animals. It is also a later form of tyrannosaur. Many of the T. rex fossils people recognize from museums are approximately 66 million to 77 million years old. Earlier forms of tyrannosaur are extremely rare.
In a paper published today, McDonald, Wolfe, and Alton Dooley Jr., introduce Dynamoterror dynastes, which is only the second known tyrannosaur in Laramidia from this time period. D. dynastes walked the Earth approximately 80 million years ago.
Comparing fragments of bones offers a unique challenge to paleontologists hoping to identify such fossils. It took considerable research into published data, as well as trying to match the bones with available specimens. Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the study was the use of 3D scanning and printing to facilitate their research.
3D models of the D. dynastes bones. Image: McDonald et al.
The two frontal bones of the skull of D. dynastes were broken in different ways, but there was enough on both sides that they could reconstruct them.
“There are features on the right frontal,” explained McDonald, curator at the Western Science Center, “that aren’t preserved on the left, and vice versa. But there are enough overlapping features” that enabled them to recreate a digital composite of both bones.
“Those overlapping features gave us landmarks to work with,” he said.
To be clear, Dooley, executive director of the Western Science Center, said, “the 3D modeling didn’t reveal any feature that we didn’t already know was there. But it made it much easier to make the comparisons and for us to interpret what we were looking at.”
What would have previously taken weeks to confirm their fossil interpretation took only three days with the 3D models.
“The whole process of producing the composite 3D model took us [approximately] a day to scan the fragments,” said Dooley, “then maybe one more day to make the composite model and then a third day to print it out.”
“We hope that [publicly available digital fossil scans] become the standard,” Dooley said. “It’s not going to replace looking at the original specimens. As good as scans are, the actual specimen is still better. But sometimes you don’t need the original specimen. You can get the data that you need perfectly well from just a scan.” He said that these digital scans open up fossil research to scientists who may be limited by time or money.
He added: “We’re not doing [scientific] work to keep it secret. We want to further human knowledge. We want other scientists to be able to use this specimen to help them in their own research. Travel is expensive; it can be difficult. And if we can do things to mitigate the costs of doing research, we can make it more accessible.”
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