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Green Or Gone

eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. — How White House Climate Action Could Spark A Global Trade War

-Analysis-

When the U.S. Congress passed the Biden administration’s landmark "green" spending bill in August, environmentalists around the world saw it as a very strong — and long overdue — step in the right direction on climate change.

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Deny Evidence, Downplay Science: Big Oil Is Following Big Pharma's Legal Playbook

Opioid and oil companies alike have a history of obfuscating science as a litigation tactic. How does this harm victims?

Opioids and fossil fuels might seem like vastly different products. But both were marketed as panaceas for a more comfortable existence. Both have some legitimate uses, though we now know that safer alternatives exist for treating chronic pain and powering our economy. And in both instances, we could have known about the harms caused by these products decadessooner, had they not been deliberately concealed from the public for corporate profits.

As those harms have come to light, litigation has become the primary mechanism for attempting to protect the public. Here, too, the parallels continue.

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Clean Hydrogen Production In Egypt: A Big Green Step Or More Hot Air?

As the Mediterranean region awakens to the potential of green hydrogen as a clean alternative, Egypt is still hesitant to invest heavily in the sector. For good reason?

CAIRO — When it opened in Aswan in 1963, the KIMA fertilizer plant was a clean energy producer ahead of its time. Running entirely off the surge of cheap, hydroelectric power spilling over from the Aswan Dam, it produced green hydrogen, used to make green ammonia and ultimately fertilizers, all part of a national politics of the time that was oriented toward self-sufficiency.

That the KIMA plant boasted state-of-the-art green credentials was almost a “coincidence” of the project, says Osama Fawzy, hydrogen consultant and manager of Hydrogen Intelligence platform, who attributes the decision to use renewable power at the fertilizer factory to its proximity to the dam and the relatively low cost of hydroelectric power for Egypt at the time. Yet as the natural gas and oil sectors boomed in the 1970s, KIMA’s specialized hydroelectric equipment deteriorated and was never replaced, and the plant was converted to run on cheaper natural gas in 2019.

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Why The Netherlands' Exit From An Obscure Energy Treaty Is Such Big News For The Climate

The little-known Energy Charter Treaty protects oil and gas firms from regulation that harms their interests. The Dutch government has pulled out, and now the rest of Europe may follow.

AMSTERDAM — For many, the big climate story of the week was the two young activists who tossed tomato soup on a Van Gogh painting in London. But the real story with lasting impact was unfolding in the Netherlands, which announced on Tuesday that it intends to withdraw from the “Energy Charter Treaty” (ECT).

Environment policy experts say the Dutch exit — with Spain and Poland poised to leave — could set in motion the complete collapse of this little-known pact.

Climate activists were jubilant. Dutch politician Christine Teunissen of the Party of the Animals described it as a “huge win”. Just last week, Greta Thunberg announced that five young victims of the climate crisis were taking action against the ECT at Europe’s top human rights court.

But outside climate circles, few had even heard of a treaty that brought risks of leaving governments open to billion-dollar lawsuits by fossil fuel companies.

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Society
Irene Caselli

Switching Off Street Lights? Not The Brightest Solution To Our Energy Crisis

Keeping the lights out at night may be a good measure both for the environment and in the context of an energy crisis – but it may have repercussions on people's sense of security, in particular for women.

As the leaves fall and an energy crisis looms, countries across Europe are preparing for a winter that will be dark, figuratively and literally.

After deciding to switch to cold showers in public buildings, Germany is now turning off street lights at night. Since Sept. 1, the Energy Saving Ordinance has officially prohibited the illumination of public buildings, including landmarks, from the outside.

Others are following suit: In Paris, the Eiffel Tower will see its lights dimmed an hour earlier than usual starting this week, while some 12,000 towns around the country have fully or partially switched off public lighting at night. Spain requires shops and monuments to dim the lights and shut down at 10 p.m. sharp.

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Society
*Saumya Kalia

India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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Ideas
William Ospina

On Our Planet's Future, And The "Art Of The Necessary"

States and technology have failed to stop the destruction of the natural world, but a deceptively simple rethinking of our habits could turn the tide.

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — From Hurricane Ian to Pakistan's catastrophic floods, we have new reminders all the time that the risk of irreparably changing living conditions on the planet is real — and more alarming in scope than we had envisaged.

Yet the solutions so far have been ineffective because it is living beings, not things, which are destroying the world.

We could blame methane from cows, or plastic or the carbon dioxide of fossil fuels, but the culprits are our diets, our use of plastic or our high-tech traveling. Industry may be responsible, but we individuals are the ones who sustain it.

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Green Or Gone
Veengas

Pakistan's "Monster Monsoon" And The Decade Of Destruction Left In Its Path

Caught between a natural disaster, an economic crisis and poor governance, flood-affected Pakistanis contemplate a future in ruins.

THATTA, SINDH — In a hastily put together settlement in the Matka embankment area of Thatta, Leela Mallah, carrying a child on her hip, looks at her new home: pieces of cloth draped over a bamboo structure assembled by the side of a road.

Leela’s actual home was washed away in the floods that have devastated the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since the middle of June, due to what Senator Sherry Rehman, the federal minister for climate change, called a “Monster Monsoon”.

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Green Or Gone
Aline Suárez del Real, Adriana Alcázar González*

Mexican Youth Turn To Urban Agriculture To Connect With Their Roots

When the pandemic disrupted livelihoods and supply chains, young urban Mexicans decided to learn to grow food themselves.

CUAUTITLÁN IZCALLI — Growing up in a concrete city of more than 5 million people, María de Lourdes Félix never thought she would harvest corn and worry about worms.

But during the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, the 32-year-old enrolled in an online three-month economics course offered by Instituto Mexiquense de la Juventud, a Mexican government agency. Inspired, 10 classmates started a project to plant and harvest corn, calling themselves Maizkali. They borrowed a piece of farmland that had been in one of their families for generations.

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Green Or Gone
Hans-Joachim Voth

A/C And Global Warming: A Northern Call To Embrace Air Conditioning

Misguided arguments about air conditioning's environmental impact are stopping people from installing systems in homes and offices. But in the age of solar power, there's no need to stew in your own sweat "for the sake of the planet."

-Analysis-

BERLIN — The maps on TV weather reports were a glowing swathe of red. As the summer heatwave took hold in Germany, the country experienced record temperatures, with the mercury rising to over 35 °C in many places.

Every year, this time sees a fall in unemployment rates and a rise in heat-related deaths. But why do we take it for granted that the fierce heat outside must be reflected indoors?

In winter we have no problem with turning the heating on to keep our homes warm. In summer, there is also a simple technological solution – air conditioning. It costs relatively little, can be easily installed and creates a comfortable indoor temperature at the click of a button. It comes as standard in cars, but is rare in offices and homes in Germany. Only 3% of all homes in the country have air conditioning, whereas in the U.S. it is around 90%.

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Green Or Gone
Johanne Courbatère de Gaudric

What's That Smell? The Perfume Industry's Upcycling Savoir Faire

The circular economy is a hot trend, being embraced by everything from fashion to home decor. But one industry has been upcycling for decades. And the benefits and potentials go far beyond the environment. Soon, your perfume might help you fight stress and even wrinkles.

What do orange peels, a Texas-based sawmill and rosewater have in common?

Well, all three are part of the upcycling system developed by the perfume industry. This version of recycling, which transforms a waste product by adding value to it, is well known in fashion and home decor. But perfumery has been using the technique for generations, and not just for environmental reasons.

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Green Or Gone
Aline Suárez del Real

The Problem With Ixtle, Mexico's Ancestral Solution To Plastic Bags

Artisans who produce the natural fiber have mixed feelings about its success.

CARDONAL, MEXICO — Plácido Paloma places a maguey leaf on a log and scrapes it with a long, wide knife. His face and arms strain, but his scraping is efficient and delicate – just enough to remove the green pulp of the maguey plant, a type of agave, revealing a tuft of blond fibers known as ixtle.

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