Nine Surprising Signs That Momentum Is Building for Climate Action

first_imgOther nations are making notable stridesWhile China is a pace setter, it is not alone. All told, global green energy investment jumped nearly 17 percent in 2014 from the previous year, topping an unprecedented $270 billion according to a UN-backed report.Examples of this investment abound. Oil-rich Dubai just announced a $3 billion solar project expansion. Mexico made a larger-than-anticipated pledge in 2014, to cap its carbon emissions by 2026 and to achieve a 22 percent reduction in global warming emissions by 2030. And other nations continue to break new ground in the race for a low-carbon future. In March, for instance, Costa Rica announced that its state-run electricity company had powered the country exclusively with renewable resources (including hydropower) for a record-breaking 75 consecutive days.Our world is still powered predominantly by burning fossil fuels and the imminent threats posed by climate impacts continue to grow. But make no mistake: with a growing catalog of developments like these, a cleaner and greener future is seeming more achievable than ever before. Regional emissions reduction plans are exceeding expectationsA new report from the nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) highlights the continuing success of the nation’s longest-running carbon market, showing that it really is possible to tackle our climate and energy challenges while delivering huge benefits to consumers.According to the report, RGGI states have successfully cut emissions by 40 percent since 2005 while their economies have grown by 8 percent. Meanwhile, the $1.4 billion in proceeds from their auctions of emissions credits have been invested in energy efficiency projects that will return more than $2.9 billion in lifetime energy savings to millions of households and businesses. In the year to come, look for other states to wake up to these figures — either by asking to join RGGI or by forging regional carbon trading plans of their own. Red states among wind and solar leadersDespite a lot of partisan talk in Washington, renewables are ramping up in many unexpected places. Consider, for example that, aside from California, North Carolina installed more solar photovoltaic systems last year than any other state in the country, with enough solar installations now to meet the needs of close to 100,000 homes. And Texas — a state practically synonymous with fossil fuel production — installed more wind turbines than any other state in 2014. Employing forward-thinking policy and investment, Texas nearly doubled its wind energy generation between 2009 and 2014 to now generate nearly 10 percent of its electricity from wind power. Record-breaking coal retirementsIn a report issued last month, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast “the largest wave of coal retirements in U.S. history.” This is good news for air pollution and the carbon emissions that drive global warming.According to the Bloomberg report, fully 7 percent of U.S. coal energy generation is expected to shut down in 2015, spurred by the onset of a key mercury emissions rule and also by tougher economic competition from other energy sources. The upshot, according to this hard-nosed energy forecast: a “fundamental reduction in coal’s share of the U.S. power mix” and a significant step toward reducing the nation’s carbon footprint. RELATED ARTICLES Hoping for a Climate Change BreakthroughTaking Action on Climate ChangeEarth Day 2014 and Climate ChangeIn the West, Drought Ends ‘Era of the Lawn’Half of All Americans Worry About Climate ChangeGood News Bad News With Climate ChangeSeeking Common Ground on Climate Change PolicyThe Uncertain Future of Phoenix and Las VegasScience, Climate Change, and Policy The Science of Global Warming Is Older Than Quantum MechanicsThe Connection Between Obesity and Climate ChangeAvoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation China is beating its own ambitious pledgeIn an agreement with the United States at the end of last year, China pledged to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and increase its share of non-fossil fuels to around 20 percent in the same time period. While China has yet to publish the details of its plan, it appears to be moving even faster than its pledge would require.According to the latest figures, China burned less coal in 2014 than it did the previous year, the first such decline in decades. At the same time, as my colleague Michael Klare has noted, China increased its spending on renewable energy by an impressive 33 percent in 2014, investing a total of $83.3 billion. That’s the most a country has ever spent on renewables in a single year. The Pope is getting involvedPope Francis is laying the foundation for a substantive campaign to combat global warming and environmental degradation, with an imminent Vatican summit meeting and plans for a potentially influential encyclical on the subject this summer.The development shouldn’t be underestimated as a catalyst for change. As Timothy E. Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation recently told The New York Times: “We’ve never seen a pope do anything like this. No single individual has a much global sway as he does. What he is doing will resonate in the government of any country that has a leading Catholic constituency.” In particular, the Pope’s exhortations on the subject are expected to speed climate action in some Latin American countries that have resisted getting involved up to now. Tea Party loyalists are revolting to back solar solutionsMuch to the chagrin of the Koch brothers who helped launch the Tea Party in 2009, a growing number of Tea Party activists are turning on their pro-fossil fuel backers to support solar energy. Last year, Debbie Dooley, one of the Tea Party’s original founding members, went head-to-head with the Koch-backed branch of the Tea Party to successfully persuade Georgia’s utility commission to require Georgia Power to buy more of its energy from solar sources.Now, in Florida, some 85 Tea Party groups are joining a broad bipartisan coalition called Floridians for Solar Choice to support a popular ballot initiative that would amend the state’s constitution to allow individuals and businesses with solar panels to sell the power they generate directly to their tenants or neighbors. California breaks new ground on renewablesLast week, Governor Jerry Brown set aggressive new global warming emissions targets for California that put the nation and the world on notice. His plan calls for California to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. That’s a timetable for steep emissions reductions almost unthinkable just a few years ago. And considering that California is the world’s eighth largest economy, the state’s actions make a big difference. Seismic shift in global business communityIn a notable development, the G20 powers recently launched a joint probe into the global financial risks posed by the potential for fossil fuel companies’ so-called “stranded assets” — investments in costly ventures that may never be viable in light of emerging international climate agreements.G20 nations have asked for an independent assessment of whether fossil fuel companies’ $6 trillion of investment into oil, gas, and coal development since 2007 might be based on false assumptions about demand that could risk the bursting of a so-called “carbon bubble.” Equally notable in the new zeitgeist, Newsweek recently reported that HSBC — the world’s third largest bank — wrote a private note to its clients advising them to divest from fossil fuel companies because of increasing risks they will become “economically non-viable.” Considering that five of the top six Fortune 100 companies are still in the oil refining business, if that doesn’t mark a sea change in thinking, I don’t know what does. A spate of recent developments suggests momentum is building to address climate change — including some truly unexpected and inspiring signs in the United States and around the world.Of course, huge obstacles remain: Florida Governor Rick Scott would allegedly like to censor any official mention of the subject. Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe still seems to think that carrying a snowball onto the floor of the Senate offers some kind of “evidence” that global warming is hoax.And more worrisome, fossil fuel interests including the Koch brothers and Shell Oil are still spending millions trying to repeal renewable energy standards in states around the country through the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other front groups. But consider the following and see if you don’t agree that, when it comes to climate change, dramatic changes are afoot. Equally impressive, virtually all the evidence shows that California has profited mightily from its green energy economy so far, attracting an estimated $27 billion of venture capital into California clean tech companies since 2006. Seth Shulman is the editorial director at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a veteran science journalist whose work has appeared in Nature, The Atlantic, Discover, Technology Review, Parade and many other publications. This post originally appeared at The Huffington Post. Peter Dykstra wrote about this subject last month.last_img read more

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YouTube Anti-Spam Move Might Spur More Spam

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting YouTube’s decision to hide search tags – an effort to fight spam – is drawing passionate responses to the move. Some say it’s overdue, and others think it will cause more problems than it is intended to fix.The tags still exist as private information that can only be seen by the video poster.Yesterday, YouTube said via its Twitter and Google+ page that the tags had been manipulated for unfair advantage by some members.The spammers copied tags from trending videos and used them to trick people into clicking on their links, inflating their traffic and netting them ad revenue based on those clicks.“You may have noticed – we made tags private, so you can’t see them on the watch page anymore. Viewers weren’t using them, and some abused them. Please keep providing tags when you upload, though – they’re important tools to help promote and connect your videos!” the post read.Tag abuse became a hot issue this year when a group of young women known as the “reply girls” gamed YouTube’s related-video algorithm over eight months for personal profit through inflated ad views.Armed with push-up bras and search-engine prowess, the reply girls made $10,000 to $40,000 a month by enticing male viewers to click on their unrelated minute-long video replies focused on their breasts. Some of these young women made as many as 10 videos a day, one for each newly trending video beginning in July 2011.YouTube shut down the reply girls in early March, labeling their antics “spam,” by rewriting the related-videos algorithm and changing the way video views are counted.YouTube had tallied initial clicks, a fact the reply girls exploited. Once people realized they had been tricked into watching a reply girl video rather than a legitimate reply, they left in seconds, but that initial click was registered as a view, and the women were paid as such.Fallout from the reply girl scheme still plagues the video-sharing site. In a Locker Gnome blog post published Aug. 16 about the tag changes, Swedish writer Maximilian Majewski called out the reply girls for abusing the tag system “to great lengths.”Majewski wrote, “[m]aking tags private is a long overdue decision,” a sentiment echoed by other YouTubers.Not everyone views the change as a good move, however.Jack Durst, a host on Tahoe Network TV, pointed out on the YTCreators Google+ page viewers weren’t clicking on video tags because the tags were “buried at the bottom of the description where nobody sees them.”If the Google-owned company moved the tags “to a control at the top of the ‘related videos’ column that changed the content…by what tag you chose, it would quickly become a dominant mode of navigation,” theorized Durst.Still others pointed out that by hiding the tags, the community wouldn’t be able to tell if people were actually abusing tags. YouTube has heavily relied on the community to police itself against bad behavior, but if the community can’t see the bad behavior, how can it flag videos and users for tag abuse? they asked.“What is to stop UPLOADERS from abusing tags by loading them with things that have nothing to do with the video, but are popular?” asked @TheReallyRick, a YouTuber and iCNN reporter, on Twitter.Besides using tags that are unrelated to a video, tag abusers also engage in a practice called “spam tagging,” where they write the same tag multiple times in order to increase their video’s ranking.Hiding tags will prevent people from copying and pasting the tags of trending videos in order to get views, but it won’t stop either of the two aforementioned issues. Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img Tags:#web#YouTube A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… fruzsina eordoghlast_img read more

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Shashi Tharoor: A ready-reckoner

first_imgWho is Shashi Tharoor?Born on March 9, 1956, Shashi Tharoor is a Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram. He has been appointed Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development in the latest Cabinet reshuffle on October 28, 2012. Political CareerUntil 2007, he was a career official at the United Nations and rose to the position of Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information. He resigned after he lost the 2007 election for UN Secretary General to Ban Ki-Moon. Upon his return to India, he joined politics in 2009 and served as Minister of State for External Affairs. He resigned from the post less than a year later following a controversy generated by one of his tweets. Literary CareerA prolific author, he has written numerous books most of which were best-sellers. His book, The Great Indian Novel, is currently in its 28th edition in India and his latest book The Elephant, The Tiger and the Cellphone has already undergone seven hardback reprints. Tharoor is not just an author, he was a successful actor also and played Antony to Mira Nair’s Cleopatra in a 1974 production of Antony and Cleopatra. Personal lifeFollowing his divorce from his first wife, Christa, a Canadian working at the UN, he married Sunanda Pushkar at his ancestral home in Elavanchery village in Kerala’s Palakkad district in 2010. ControversiesIn September 2009, he was accused of staying in luxurious 5-star hotels at the government’s expense. He, however, clarified that the money was being spent from his own pocket for the accommodation. Another controversy erupted when, while responding to a question as to whether he would travel in “Cattle Class”, he answered in the affirmative, thus equating the travelling public to cattle. His tweet was also a tongue-in-cheek dig at his party, the Congress, over its austerity drive. He again courted trouble when he said that people should work on Gandhi Jayanti instead of staying at home taking a holiday. In January 2010, he was reprimanded by his party for criticising Gandhi and Nehru for their vision on Indian foreign policy by the Indian media. He was also involved in a controversy regarding the Kochi IPL team’s franchise owners, Rendezvous Sports World (RSW) group. In his tweets, former IPL chief Lalit Modi had mentioned that he was asked by an influential Union Minister not to get into details of Sunanda Pushkar, who was given sweat equity of 4.5 per cent in Kochi IPL team. Tharoor, however, denied having made any gains from the sale or having pressured Modi in any way.advertisementlast_img read more

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