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What We’re Reading

Posted by on November 12th, 2018 with 0 Comments

Climate issues didn’t win in the midterms

Climate issues were on the ballot in a number of states in the US midterms this week, but they weren’t very successful – in Washington, Arizona and Colorado – although Florida did ban offshore oil drilling. There has also been lots of criticism on how much oil and gas companies spent on opposing these ballots.

Democratic candidates across the US were also elected over Republicans with a less climate-focused policy, including a bunch of scientists. There are also plans to reinstate a climate change committee, giving them a chance to amplify climate concerns.

Controversial Keystone XL pipeline blocked

A federal judge in the US has blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Trump approved almost as soon as he got into office. The pipeline would have carried oil sands from Canada to refineries in the US. However, the judge said the government did not fully review the environmental impact of the pipeline – either greenhouse gas emissions or potential oil spills.

Obama blocked the pipeline because of environmental concerns when he was in office but the Trump administration, as the judge noted: “simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal.”

The UK’s Moorside nuclear plant cancelled

Earlier this week, Toshiba announced they were going to liquidate their UK nuclear arm, NuGen, after failing to sell it. NuGen was meant to construct the Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria, but now that Toshiba has pulled out, ministers are considering closing down the project.

This analysis, by Carbon Brief, looks at how important Moorside is (or was), to the UK’s nuclear plans.

David Attenborough: repeated environmental warnings can be a “turn-off” for viewers

Sir David Attenborough has said that broadcasting repeated warning about the human danger to the environment can be a “turn-off” for viewers, in discussing his new BBC series, Dynasties. Although it does address the high level of wildlife extinction, the series steers clear of putting any of the blame on viewers.

On the other hand, Attenborough is also presenting a Netflix series, called Our Planet, which is out in April, that has been produced in collaboration with the WWF. They said, “it’s spectacular mass public entertainment, but by the end you are absolutely aware of the challenge of climate change and overfishing and deforestation.”

When we spoke to him last year, David Attenborough said that although he has an obligation to make programmes about destruction, if you made those too much, “people would lose sight of the splendour of this wonderful world.” You can watch (and read) the full interview here.

Exxon’s algae ad banned in the UK

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has banned a TV ad from Exxon talking about algae as a source of biofuel, after a complaint that it misleadingly implied it would reduce CO2 levels. ExxonMobil said it plans to appeal the ruling, and that algae’s role in carbon dioxide emissions reduction was “universally held.”

Technology of the future

Here’s an interesting one – how realistic is futuristic tech like lampposts that can store energy, or vertical turbines that generate power when vehicles drive past? According to this intriguing BBC article, it definitely shows promise, and teams of researchers are exploring how to have sustainable futures with new tech. Not to pick a favourite, but I quite like the paths that generate electricity when you walk on them. And speaking of alternative energy ideas, how about a bionic mushroom?

Scotland’s environmental watchdog proposes tougher new rules

Scotland’s environmental watchdog is proposing tougher new rules to prevent marine pollution from salmon farms, which would tighten regulations on them, following criticism about the sustainability of the industry. The fishing industry has come under fire recently, such as in Unearthed’s investigation about who owns fishing quotas in the UK.

Should red meat be taxed?

To eat or not to eat (meat) seems to be a recurring topic in our newsletter these days. This week, there is new research that suggests a tax on red meat could help save lives, due to the health problems it causes. It could also help the environment, as a tax would mean fewer people eating it, and it consumes a lot of energy to produce.

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