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How Los Angeles Is Helping Lead the Fight Against Climate Change

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.

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Planet Earth

How to create a “heaven on earth” for all mankind?

We ask ourselves this question and tried to answer it. Of course, by “paradise” we do not mean “paradise booths” somewhere in the mythical nooks of the past, but a very real place – our home called planet Earth.

Moreover, this is our only home at the moment, since the prospects for the colonization of other planets of the solar system for us are still rather dreams, and very far from being realized.

Two main problems for humanity

Do you know what we like about people? The fact that even being in difficult living conditions, they do not limit their interests only to how to earn a living for themselves – no, they are interested in more global issues: political, social, philosophical or scientific in nature. But what worries them the most?

In our opinion, most people on our planet are preoccupied with two main problems:

1) Security (in every sense of the word, including economic)

2) Happiness (in the broadest sense of the word)

While these problems may seem very different at first glance, they actually boil down to caring for your own well-being.

In this context, it is quite easy to understand why humans do not live in paradise on Earth.

There are many problems that are prevalent all over the world today, such as wars and crime (with all the associated problems), as well as various health problems, both physical and mental.

It seems obvious that no one wants to live in a world where they are constantly under the threat of violent crimes, wars or other disasters, and it is also clear that many people want to find love and happiness not only, and not so much for themselves, but rather for those who are very dear to them.

Hence, the most obvious way to create a paradise on earth would be to increase safety for all people and increase the possibilities for human relationships.

When it comes to security, there are a number of obvious things that can be done. For example, many people are concerned about pollution and environmental degradation, as well as related issues such as global warming and overpopulation.

There is an obvious solution to this in the form of cleaner energy sources (such as solar energy) and more efficient modes of transportation (including space travel). This would help reduce fears about climate change at least partially.

Another issue that is widely discussed is the possibility of a nuclear war between large countries. This could potentially lead to the extinction of all of humanity, if it happened at the moment, given the advances in technology and weapons compared to previous generations.

In addition to these issues, there are a number of other issues that seem to be at least somewhat predominant, such as privacy, economic insecurity and social inequality.

What we can do?

If we digress from philosophical reasoning and look at the real situation that has developed in the world over the past ten years, we can see that the world has ceased to live by the rules.

If earlier, there were official and unofficial rules of “behavior of states in international relations”, now these “gentlemen’s agreements” are completely ignored.

One possible solution to this could be the creation of a “world government” that would control all aspects of human life (including economy and technology). However, this will almost certainly have some negative consequences.

World government: pros and cons

Pros : One government of all human civilization, by definition, will save us from wars, economic inequality, social inequality and the likelihood of global destruction in the event of a nuclear war. In fact, on planet Earth, there will be one huge country in which the entire population of the planet will live.

Cons : There is a risk that people will come to power who will turn the good goal of “heaven on earth” into the possibility of establishing a dictatorship in which all the disadvantages of the previous type of government will remain, when “everyone was for himself”, but already without the opportunity to defend their interests as it was when there was a system of scattered but sovereign states.

How, then, to create a paradise on earth for everyone?

1) Develop future technologies that will help us save the planet and stop global climate change.

2) To develop medicine in the direction of increasing the life expectancy of a person, which will entail an increase in the quality of life, and an increase in “happiness” for each individual citizen.

3) To achieve maximum protection of people from any threats . The safety of citizens in all spheres of life should become a priority for the state.

4) Revive the system of “international rules”, which must be observed by all countries, without exception.

5) Limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons in order to increase the overall level of the sense of security of all mankind, and save it even from hypothetically possible mutual destruction in the event of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons.

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Planet Earth

Ways to have fun celebrating Halloween in the pandemic

Roughly 74% of American millennials and young parents think Halloween is more important this year than ever. They gather in online groups where they exchange tips and suggestions on the safest way to have fun on All Saints’ Day in a pandemic.

7 ways to have fun celebrating Halloween in a pandemic

The Los Angeles Times selected seven of the most successful ideas, and shared them with readers.

This year, when most of the candy lovers are staying at home, decorating their home is more important than ever. The more tinsel, the better. You can hang out flashlights, buy a fog machine, or make a stuffed animal out of old clothes. Carve some pumpkins and have an online contest among family members, asking them to vote for the best neighborhood crafts.

Of course, the bravest children will come under your door shouting “wallet or life”, but it is impossible to communicate directly with little ghouls who are always short on candy. It is better to arrange sweets in bags in advance and put them outside the door. You can wave your hand at them from the balcony or out the window if you want to see how happy they will be with the treat.

The candies can be hung from strings on a fence or from trees. Children will quickly figure out how to rip them off.

If your child really wants to go outside, and the level of infection in the region does not allow this, you can distract him by looking for sweets at home. Turn off the lights, take flashlights, and run with him in search of candy. For teenagers, you can do a whole quest with tips and tasks.

Plastic eggs, which many use for Easter gifts, can be pasted over with glowing scary faces and muzzles. Then fill them with candy and hide them inside or outside the house. You can decorate them with stickers glowing in the dark, then it will be more interesting to look for surprises in the dark.

It’s not recommended to have ghosts in the house, of course, but you can watch movies about them on Halloween. An impromptu cinema can be arranged both in the house and in the yard. Then the neighbors can join the session. To keep your distance, you should buy hula hoops. Then everyone will be accommodated on the same lawn in front of the house, but the risk of infection will be avoided.

The most important thing is to get a good mood on Halloween. Therefore, without further ado, you can put vacuum-packed sweets under the door of your neighbor, call and run away with all your blades. This will amuse you and your neighbors, who will spend half the night wondering whether to eat the offering or throw a potentially infectious bag in the trash.

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Planet Earth

The activation of volcanoes in Iceland and Russia concern scientists: “This is an anomaly”

Almost all volcanic eruptions of the past, leading to a cooling of the climate, coincide in time with low solar activity. 

Alarmingly, the Sun is currently passing through its deepest solar minimum in 100+ years and looking into the future, NASA found that the next cycle (25) could be “the weakest in the last 200 years” – a return to minimum conditions Dalton. 

The Dalton Minimum (1790-1830) was a period of historically low solar activity that also included the famine-inducing eruption of Mt. Tambor, in 1815.

The eruption of Tambora was one of the most powerful on Earth in the last 2000 years, and it exacerbated the cooling of the Earth, already occurring due to low solar activity. This unfortunate combination led to one of the harshest climates of the modern era – 1816 is also known as the “year without summer”.

ICELAND

Of today’s waking volcanoes, those in Iceland are perhaps the most worrying. It is this highly volcanic region that is likely to be home to the next “big” (repeat of the 536 AD eruption that destroyed the Roman Republic), which will plunge the Earth into a new volcanic winter.

The high frequency of volcanic eruptions allows scientists to detect patterns (precursors). And if these patterns are repeated every time a volcano erupts, then scientists can be more confident in their predictions.

Grimsvötn is Iceland’s most frequently erupting volcano, with approximately 65 known eruptions over the past 800 years. Icelandic scientists are closely following Grimsvotn after its 2011 eruption 

Recently, researchers have seen various signals indicating that the volcano is preparing to erupt again, and have raised the threat level.

The volcano swells as new magma moves into the channel system below it. The increase in thermal activity has led to the melting of more ice, and earthquakes have also become more frequent in recent years.

The time intervals between the eruptions of Grimsvotn are different, writes Dave McGarvey, a volcanologist at Lancaster University. For example, before the larger eruption of 2011, there were smaller eruptions in 2004, 1998, and 1983. Intermittently from four to 15 years. It is important to note that given the next eruption, Grimsvotn appears to have a pattern of infrequent large eruptions that occur every 150-200 years (e.g. 2011, 1873, 1619), with smaller and more frequent eruptions occurring approximately every ten years in between. 

If the previous model of Grimsvotn, consisting of occasional large eruptions with more numerous smaller eruptions occurring in between, continues in the future, then the next eruption should be small (considering that there was a large eruption in 2011). 

Nevertheless, the word “must” is important here, McGarvey stresses, – Iceland’s volcanoes are complex natural systems, and their patterns do not always correspond exactly to reality.

Katla is another Icelandic volcano on the verge of erupting, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Bureau (IMO). Since January of this year, researchers have recorded an upturn in and around Katla, and in recent months have recorded an increase in sulfur dioxide levels close to the site of two previous eruptions.

The previous major eruption of Katla occurred in 1918. This year is within the Hundred Years Low, the previous multi-decade period of low solar activity.

Icelandic authorities are well aware of the dangers posed by the next Katla eruption, and a delegation of volcanologists meets regularly with the Icelandic parliament to discuss how to respond in the event of an eruption.

RUSSIA

Scientists are also concerned about the unusual behavior of Klyuchevskaya Sopka Volcano (also known as Klyuchevskaya Volcano) located on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.

As a rule, a year passes between the eruptions of Klyuchevskoy volcano, but recently this period of calm has been reduced to two months – on October 5, 2020, night cameras recorded the outpouring of lava from the crater of the volcano’s summit.

According to Yuri Demyanchuk, head of the Klyuchevskoy volcanic station IViS, all of this indicates an impending new larger eruption. 

Klyuchevsky’s uncharacteristic behavior can lead to paroxysmal explosions (unpredictable, dangerous explosions).

“The last activation was in 2013, before that – in 1994. But so far we have not observed such an intensity of tremor to speak of an impending paroxysmal activity, ”the expert explains. – “This is an anomaly.”

Seismic and volcanic activity is associated with changes in the Sun.

Volcanic eruptions are one of the key factors pushing the Earth towards the next stage of global cooling. Volcanic ash (particulate matter) ejected more than 10 km away – and therefore into the stratosphere – obscures sunlight and lowers Earth’s temperature. Smaller particles of an eruption can linger in the upper atmosphere for years or even decades.

The recent outburst of volcanoes around the world is believed to be related to low solar activity, coronal holes, a waning magnetosphere, and an influx of cosmic rays penetrating silica-rich magma.

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