When improper waste disposal procedures are producing islands of trash, it may be time to consider the weight of environmental issues. One by one, communities are diverting themselves from fossil fuels to pursue more environmentally friendly energy options. For state-owned vehicles in Sri Lanka, electric and hybrid cars will be stepping in as replacements as early as 2025.
Private owners have until 2040 to replace their cars, tuk-tuks and motorcycles, when the country plans to no longer allow any fossil fuel-burning vehicles on its roads… said [Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera].
Home to roughly 6.8 million vehicles, Sri Lanka’s transition into electric will benefit the country immensely. To encourage a hassle-free switch, the government is encouraging consumers by cutting taxes on electric cars.
“The tax on electric cars will be reduced by over a million rupees (S$8,851) to encourage motorists to switch to clean energy,” Mr. Samaraweera told parliament.
On the other hand, Samaraweera is also hiking carbon and import taxes to discourage keeping gas vehicles. With inflation on the rise, Sri Lanka’s bumpy ride will hopefully segue into smoother (and sustainable) sailing.
With a rising number of electric buses and taxis headed for the streets, roads are having to undergo adjustments, too. Los Angeles is home to an excess of both trucks and smog. To revamp the deadly duo into something more eco-friendly, Siemens has installed its first electric highway where trucks can charge on-the-go.
“To have the road electrified and have these heavy trucks electrified is just far more efficient from the perspective that you don’t waste fuel, you save energy because the electric motor is far more efficient than the gas motor, and you have no emissions at all,” says Andreas Thon, the head of turnkey projects and electrification in North America.
The trucks are rigged onto overhead wires that run the entire length of the highway. The trucks themselves are cost-efficient, requiring significantly less maintenance than diesel motors. The highway also alleviates battery problems, as they don’t generate enough energy for heavy loads.
Thon says, “With this technology, you permanently feed energy into the truck.”
Siemens also hopes to install charging technology beneath road surfaces — but that will have to wait. After all, it does require a lot more science and a lot more money.
Flying cars may not yet be a reality, but if bridges can sail rivers, can’t be too far behind. Picking up the pace are Uber and NASA, which plan to test their flying vehicles as early as 2020.
Uber is looking to speed development of a new industry of electric, on-demand, urban air taxis, [Chief Product Officer] Holden said, which customers could order up via smartphone in ways that parallel the ground-based taxi alternatives.
Much like a regular Uber, the airborne taxi will hold up to 4 passengers. It will also run at 200 miles an hour — perfect for traffic congested cities. NASA has stepped in to develop a software for air traffic management as well as ensure the taxis are safe.
“We are very much embracing the regulatory bodies and starting very early in discussions about this and getting everyone aligned with the vision,” he said of Uber’s plans to introduce what he called “ride-sharing in the sky”.
Autonomous vehicles may not be everyone’s cup of tea — much less when they’re in the sky. But if NASA is on board with it, it’s likely we will be, too.
It’s been a year of firsts for the railway system — from going solar to launching its fastest model. Pushing its limits even further, China is test-driving its Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system, which is fully electric and trackless.
ART bears the physical appearance of a train but it doesn’t rely on following a track. Instead, it follows a virtual route using an electric powertrain and tires. It’s expected to function much like an urban train or a tram, but since there’s no investment cost in laying down rails, it should be much cheaper to implement.
The train can only travel 15 kilometers at a time, but can fully recharge in just 10 minutes. Environmentalists will likely tip their hats off to the new system — it’s entirely emissions free! Smoggy China could surely use more sustainable public transport alternatives. Thankfully, its government has been taking other measures to ensure that its locals don’t further experience pollution-caused health issues.
40 percent of China’s factories have been shut down, and authorities are reportedly working on a timetable to end the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars.
A round of applause for China — sounds fresh!
Step aside, fossil fuels — everyone is going solar. With eco-houses and trains now on the market, we might as well redesign as much as we can into solar. This is where electricity-generating greenhouses are stepping in.
Electricity-generating solar greenhouses utilize Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs), a novel technology that generates electricity more efficiently and at less cost than traditional photovoltaic systems… WSPVs absorb some of the blue and green wavelengths of light but let the rest through, allowing the plants to grow.
In testing a variety of plant species, researchers at UC Santa Cruz found that 80% remained unaffected by changes. The remaining 20%? They actually grew better under the building’s bright magenta windows.
“If greenhouses generate electricity on site, that reduces the need for an outside source, which helps lower greenhouse gas emissions even more,” said [professor Michael] Loik. “We’re moving toward self-sustaining greenhouses.”
The greenhouse uses 5% less water — a success, taking into account that greenhouses occupy 9 million acres of land. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, the system costs 40% less than traditional means. Clearly, percentages have demonstrated a win-win situation for these buildings, which will hopefully bring users 100% satisfaction.
Rarely does a community experience a surplus of energy — much less clean energy. In fact, rural areas are still depending solely on whatever they can gather from eco-boxes. Germany, on the other hand, may be the first to boast an energy overflow. As it happens, in a single weekend, the country produced enough wind energy to provide households with extra — for free!
[Bloomberg], which tracks daily wind power in Europe, said that over 24 per cent of the EU’s electricity demand was powered by wind on Saturday, the highest per cent ever recorded.
Wind farms amassed an impressive output of 39,409 megawatts altogether. That’s almost equally as shocking as electricity itself. But considering much of Germany’s power grid is wind-generated, everything falls perfectly into place.
Offshore wind accounted for 2.8 per cent of the EU’s electricity demand while onshore wind accounted for 21.8 per cent. Wind represented 61 per cent of electricity demand in Germany.
Good weather may have played a hand in helping Germany strike gold (or air) — but its eco-initiatives surely take the cake.
As the planet is hastily running short of natural resources, communities are looking to waste as an asset. Anything from biochar to human excrement are now staples in energy production. To bring everything together, engineers have created the NEWgenerator, which processes materials found in sewage.
First, the waste is fed into a bioreactor, where anaerobic microorganisms break down the solids and produce biogas.
The methane produced is chemical-free and perfect for cooking and heating. To complete the cycle, USF engineers have also made the most of liquid and solid waste.
The water that passes through is… disinfected with chlorine, and while the end result is probably still not drinkable, it’s clean enough to use to flush the toilets in the block or irrigate crops.
The remainder of the waste can be used as fertilizer. So far, the system is testing waters in India and South Africa. Each device is usable for up to 100 people a day, with future versions projected to reach thousands. Considering that millions are without access to basic amenities, the NEWgenerator is a game-changer for marginalized communities.
The latter half of 2017 has been all about milestones for our Jurassic ancestors. Casual hikers discovered a Stegomastodon fossil, while the world’s largest dinosaur finally earned its nickname. If you thought things couldn’t get more exciting, you might want to take a trip down to southern Africa. Scientists have just unearthed evidence of an enormous meat-eating dinosaur — and it’s almost the size of T-Rex.
Several three-toed footprints left by the two-legged “megatheropod”… were found near the site of a prehistoric watering hole or river bank in the kingdom of Lesotho.
Experts calculated that the creature would have been around nine metres (30ft) long and stood almost three metres (9.8ft) tall at the hip.
Theropods from the Jurassic period were relatively small — roughly the length of a crocodile — making Kayentapus ambrokholohali quite the celebrity. Thrilled paleontologists also located other footprints, making this discovery one of the greatest of the century.
“This makes it a significant find. Globally, these large tracks are very rare. There is only one other known site similar in age and sized tracks, which is in Poland.”
While it’s good to know such fascinating animals existed, I’m not too upset they’re extinct.
While researchers have been working tirelessly to treat conditions such as blindness and HIV, drug use as a health issue is sitting on the back burner. To bring attention back to the opioid epidemic, pharmaceutical giant Walgreens is selling medication that reverses the effects of heroin overdoses.
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, [is a] medicine that can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioid drugs or heroin within seconds.
The treatment is selling over-the-counter at more than 8,000 branches in nearly every state. The remaining five states that don’t offer the drug are battling regulation issues. Dr. Dan Lustig of addiction treatment facility Haymarket Center has since commended Walgreens’ efforts.
“This actually signifies, I think, a significant step in the battle that we have with this epidemic.”
“First and foremost, it gives families a fighting chance to save loved ones,”
Many remain skeptical, citing Narcan as an encouraging factor to continue drug use. Though the ethical implications of the drug are problematic, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
The existence of eco-friendly, weather-resistant structures such as Thailand’s bamboo building are evidence that designers are saving the planet. To drive a point, MIT students are embedding irradiated water bottles into cement to make concrete more robust and sustainable.
The research revealed that exposing the plastic to gamma radiation actually made it stronger. The irradiated plastic was then ground into a powder and mixed with cement. The subsequent concrete was up to 20 percent stronger than concrete made without the irradiated plastic.
Engineers found the added plastic (only 1.5% of the concoction) made concrete significantly denser. If you’re skeptical about incorporating the mix into future room renovations, don’t worry — it isn’t radioactive. Furthermore, using plastic will potentially relieve a few dozen landfills.
“Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” says [MIT professor Michael] Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”
Environmentalists might campaign for a plastic-free society — but it isn’t the easiest option. Perhaps, now, it’s all about redirecting your waste to where it will be most useful.