Our New Environment – UPDATE #60

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Deepnews Digest #60

Our New Environment – UPDATE

Editor: Christopher Brennan
One of the beauties of Deepnews is that by focusing on in-depth articles, we can get a better understanding not just of the world today, but pull in pieces whose analysis and reporting is forward-looking. Many of the articles this week tackle coronavirus and climate by looking at what the world will become after the pandemic is under control, from bike lanes in Paris to oil industry struggles to working from home. We hope that, with some help from the Deepnews Scoring Model, getting good info can help you make up your own mind about whether the future is bright.


Editor’s Note: This Digest was in many ways inspired by the “Green Energy” newsletter that we publish on Mondays. If you want a taste before you subscribe, we share some articles on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
Story Source
Guardian
Measures taken in response to court ruling have yet to face much dissent, partly owing to coronavirus

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The Conversation
Political divisions are a growing fixture in the United States today, whether the topic is marriage across party lines, responding to climate change or concern about coronavirus exposure. Especially in a presidential election year, the vast divide between conservatives and liberals often feels nearly impossible to bridge

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New York Times
Of all the media images that the Covid-19 crisis has generated in recent weeks, it is the city devoid of crowds that has perhaps been the most affecting. It doesn’t matter whether it’s New York, or Rome or London — it is the empty public space that most clearly signifies something is wrong. There ought to be crowds, and there aren’t. It is the classic horror movie trope. Closer to home, it is what most disturbs and compels us about contemporary Detroit — except we are all Detroiters now.

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The Conversation
On a Friday, in late February, during rush-hour in Truro, N.S., I recorded 80 seconds of noise dynamics at a four-way intersection. I returned on April 3 after the COVID-19 restrictions sent people in Canada indoors. More than just looking empty, Canada may also be quieter.

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Grist
The coronavirus pandemic has transformed how Americans get our food. We’re no longer going to restaurants; we’re limiting our trips to the grocery store. Many of us are, for the first time, ordering groceries online. That’s causing huge spikes in demand on e-commerce sites like Amazon, which has moved quickly to expand its grocery delivery services and transform Whole Foods Markets into fulfillment centers for online orders.

Editor’s Note: This story mixes together a bunch of themes that have become popular during the pandemic, the role of tech companies, climate and analysis of how exactly to get groceries. Maddie Stone digs into all the complexities for Grist. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Nature
The sustained undermining of science by the EPA’s leaders is a travesty. Researchers and businesses, continue to raise your voices: the agency’s beleaguered staff need to hear that they have your support

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BBC
The Covid-19 lockdown has cut climate change emissions – for now. But some governments want to go further by harnessing their economic recovery plans to boost low-carbon industries. Their slogan is “Build Back Better”, but can they succeed?

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Inter-Press Service
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year around four million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution. Women and children in many communities are disproportionately affected because of their traditional home-based activities, including cooking. As the WHO states, “Close to half of pneumonia deaths among children under five are caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.”

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Quartz
Amid the immense hardship of the Covid-19 pandemic, one unexpected bright spot has emerged: residents from Los Angeles to New Delhi are reporting unprecedented smog-free skies — the result of a drastic reduction in vehicle-based and industrial air pollution.

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Bloomberg
Generating power without harmful carbon emissions has never been more urgent, yet one of the biggest sources of clean power is struggling to turn a profit.

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Times of Israel
A leading Israeli expert on contaminants in water called Sunday for urgent research to be carried out into the ability of the novel coronavirus in human feces to survive in streams, groundwater, seawater and wastewater treatment facilities and on beaches. Prof. Dror Avisar, head of Tel Aviv University’s Water Research Center, said that while there was no cause for immediate alarm, traces of the virus had been found in wastewater over the past couple of weeks in countries as far afield as Holland, China, Australia, Sweden and the US, and, more recently in Israel.

Editor’s Note: Close followers of Deepnews might remember articles about tracking COVID through wastewater, but this piece goes further and questions about the effects of coronavirus on water in general. The Times of Israel discusses with Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Dror Avisar. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Deccan Herald
Covid-19 has uprooted lives, livelihoods and economies in most countries, rich and poor. Governments and citizens are struggling to cope with the consequences, both immediate and long-term. It is a global pandemic, requiring global actions. But most actions are currently at the national level, with little cooperation and coordination. The one organisation that should have played a critical role to promote a coordinated global response, the World Health Organisation, stands discredited or ineffective, perhaps despite its best effort. The world will fight this virus in the short term through lockdowns and better healthcare for the infected and in the long term through vaccine development, which hopefully will be available at least for some later this year and may be for all by 2021.

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The National
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal saw infrastructure and energy as a crucial part of getting the country back to work.

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HuffPost
The world’s seventh-largest emitter has launched a Green New Deal. But critics say there are big problems.

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ABC (Australia)
Australia must take advantage of this. As a nation dependent upon imported liquid fuel for more than 90 per cent of our refined fuel needs, a glut of cheap oil is a bonanza. Australia’s four oil refiners only produce a small portion of our liquid fuel needs which means the rest has to come from the Middle East and Asia. Singapore currently supplies about 51 per cent of our liquid fuel as it is an important logistics centre for crude oil trade.

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The Diplomat
On Sagar Island, in the Bay of Bengal, many of these climate cascades are already playing out and are expected to worsen in the coming decades. Across the more than 100 islands constituting the Indian Sundarbans (an area with a population of 4.5 million), Sagar Island is the largest and most populated with more than 200,000 inhabitants, and growing. As the world’s largest delta region, connected to Bangladesh, Sagar has become emblematic for climate scientists and researchers as a climate change “hotspot” and a glimpse into what India’s climate future may look like.

Editor’s Note: One thing that popped up last week was the link between climate change and disease. Here Nicholas Muller reports on the world’s largest delta and issues including “a future health emergency.” – Christopher Brennan, Editor

New York Times
Mass unemployment also makes some version of a Green New Deal seem like more of a near-term possibility, at least if Biden wins the presidency. During the primaries, Biden’s environmental proposals were generally more modest than his rivals’, but with the pandemic ravaging the economy he’s called for a trillion-dollar infrastructure program focused on green jobs. That’s a lot less than what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who co-sponsored the Green New Deal in the House, has demanded — but it’s more than the entire cost of the stimulus bill President Barack Obama signed at the height of the Great Recession.

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Associated Press
The U.S. renewable energy industry is reeling from the new coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed construction, put thousands of skilled laborers out of work and sowed doubts about solar and wind projects on the drawing board.

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Economic Times (Times of India)
Sustainable investing is gaining momentum in the West and seems to be emerging as a new trend in Asia as well. For decades, investors have been making investment choices based on criteria important to them. But what has been fascinating is the evolution in terms of stock selection on ethical principles.

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AFP
A sleek new bridge in Genoa built in record time is being acclaimed in Italy as a model for rebuilding the economy by investing in major infrastructure projects.

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BBC
The UK must avoid lurching from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper climate crisis, the government’s advisers have warned. They recommend that ministers ensure funds earmarked for a post-Covid-19 economic recovery go to firms that will reduce carbon emissions.

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AFP
Some of the busiest traffic arteries in Paris will be reserved for cyclists in a bid to limit crowds on public transport when France begins lifting its coronavirus lockdown next week, the city’s mayor said.

Editor’s Note: Part of deconfinement will be trying to limit crowds everywhere, including public transit. Paris’s mayor has recently become well known for her cycling push, though here AFP reports about an initiative to get people on their bikes because of COVID. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

Financial Times ($)
John Browne, the former chief executive of BP, has witnessed first hand the ups and downs of the oil industry for more than five decades. But unlike the usual market cycles of boom and bust he believes the coronavirus-linked price crash will serve as a warning for the industry of what is to come.

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Guardian
In many respects, it makes perfect sense. Patients with severe Covid-19 are twice as likely to have had pre-existing respiratory diseases and three times as likely to have had cardiovascular problems. And decades of gold standard research have shown air pollution damages hearts and lungs.

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NJ.com
Amid all the unprecedented human tragedy, economic hardship and daily disruption caused by the coronavirus, many New Jerseyans may be wondering how things could possibly get any worse.

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