A ‘Saur Subject
January 3, 2022
The Good News
- At least 20 states to increase minimum wage starting Saturday (The Hill)
- Broadcaster becomes first news anchor with traditional Māori tattoo (USA Today)
“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.” – John Muir
Getting The Green Light
It’s a new year, which means a fresh start and resolutions to better ourselves or our world. One thing we’re all carrying into this new year is the desperate need to address global warming. The European Union is currently drawing up plans for delineating “green” investments, determining which gas and nuclear projects are climate-friendly and which ones simply claim to be. The E.U.’s “sustainable finance taxonomy,” which is a comprehensive list of environmental criteria that certain economic activities have to meet in order to be considered “green,” will be proposed later this month, after the European Commission convenes and makes their decisions.
Making the “green” label more stringent will hopefully attract more countries to make those types of investments and prevent companies from being able to claim climate-friendly actions that are in reality still harmful. Some countries are already planning to use the E.U.’s ruling to determine which projects receive public funding. A current draft of the proposal says that nuclear power plant investments will only be considered “green” if the project has a plan, allocates funds, and delegates a site for the safe disposal of radioactive waste. New nuclear plants must also receive construction permits before 2045 to make the cut. For natural gas power plants, they would have to produce emissions below a certain threshold, replace a more polluting fossil fuel plant, receive a construction permit before 2031, and plan to switch to low-carbon gases by the end of 2035.
The moves towards combating climate change are starting to feel too little, too late in some parts of the world. A massive wildfire sparked on Thursday outside Boulder, Colorado, razing nearly 1,000 homes in a matter of hours. Incredibly high winds equal to those of a Category 3 hurricane pushed the blaze across an uncharacteristically-dry landscape, after a season of drought in the state. The fire was luckily dampened by the nearly 10 inches of snow that fell in the area the following night, leaving an almost post-apocalyptic landscape of ash and precipitation falling from the sky. On New Year’s Eve, Georgia saw an incredibly rare “low precipitation supercell” that caused tornadoes across two counties, an event hardly ever seen in the Southeastern region of the country. These extreme weather events are starting to feel more like the rule than the exception, making climate crisis measures are more vital than ever. (Reuters, Guardian, CNN)
Food For Thought
- The Cold Chain Federation, the refrigerated supply chain trade body, said that Britain’s trade with the E.U. will be hugely impacted in the new year with imports becoming “more expensive, less flexible, and much slower” due to new customs checks. Sales of small batches of food to E.U. countries could become unsustainable, as extra costs of £300 to £400 for each consignment “permanently damage” British small businesses’ ability to do trade with the E.U.
- The federation’s chief executive, Shane Brennan, said that specialty food importers that “import small and frequent quantities across borders” will be the big casualty of the changes. Brexit earned countless objections from all sides, and businesses have pleaded with the government to loosen restrictions on trade with the E.U. to prevent a complete collapse in trade. Ministers have agreed to extend the deadline for veterinary checks on food, but there has been little progress otherwise.
- Cheesemakers will be one of the hardest-hit industries. Simon Surrell, co-founder of the Cheshire Cheese Company, said this is the “biggest disaster that any government has ever negotiated in the history of trade negotiations.” But small food businesses won’t be the only ones in trouble. Food prices have been one of the main causes of inflation in the U.K., and higher import charges will only serve to drive those prices even higher. It’s looking likely that inflation will reach a tipping point, leaving the Bank of England to increase interest rates sooner than they planned and in the midst of another wave of the pandemic. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- 12 people dead in a crowd surge at a popular Hindu shrine in Kashmir (NPR)
- Germany wants G7 finance ministers to focus on recovery, climate protection (Reuters)
- South Africa parliament fire: Roof collapses, significant damage throughout complex (CNN)
- Palestinian rockets explode off Tel Aviv coast, military says (Reuters)
- Taiwan urges China to curb its ‘military adventurism’ (Al Jazeera)
- Mali proposes five-year election delay to West African bloc (CNN)
- Ukraine nationalists march to honor wartime partisan leader (ABC)
- Air travel in the United States has been turned on its head in recent days, with unusually bad weather and a surge in Covid-19 infections from the Omicron variant causing over 2,600 flights to be canceled on Saturday alone, making up over half of the flights canceled worldwide. The cancellations in the U.S. reached the highest single-day total since before Christmas, but most of those cancellations were attributed to the surge of infections rather than inclement weather.
- 12,000 flights in the United States have been canceled since Christmas Eve. Southwest faced the worst of it this weekend, with 13% of its schedule, or 450 flights, canceled nationwide. American, United, and Delta canceled almost 600 between them as well. Weather in Chicago, Denver, and Detroit were said the be the main culprits. Airlines have said they’re doing their best to prevent more cancellations, with Spirit doubling pay for flight attendants through Tuesday and United tripling pay for pilots who pick up extra flights. (Al Jazeera)
A Leak Outlook
- Five beaches in Southern California were forced to close after about 8.5 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the flood-control waterway of Los Angeles County on Thursday afternoon. A concrete pipe 48 inches in diameter in Carson collapsed first, and the sewage then leaked out of a manhole on 212th Street on Thursday evening and throughout Friday. Brian Langpap, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Sanitation Districts, said it’s “the biggest spill we’ve ever had.”
- The pipe was built in the 1960s, and while officials are still investigating, it seems likely that the burst was simply due to age. Langpap said there was a project underway to replace the pipe, but it was not yet completed. Janice Hahn, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, said that heavy rains from recent storms in the state probably also contributed to the collapse, and bemoaned that infrastructure should be able to withstand something as simple as rain.
- The waste traveled through storm drain pipes and toward the Dominguez Channel, which discharges into Los Angeles Harbor. Water from the channel eventually flows to the Pacific Ocean. The beaches will remain closed indefinitely, as the Los Angeles Department of Public Health completes rigorous water quality testing until it is deemed safe. The closures led to the cancellation of the 70th annual Polar Bear Swim at Cabrillo Beach. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Retired general warns the military could lead a coup after the 2024 election (NPR)
- One dangerous way the Omicron surge is different than previous surges in the US (CNN)
- During the Capitol prayer service on Jan. 6, Trump will deliver his own remarks doubling down on the “Big Lie” (Politico)
- Majority of Americans think Jan. 6 attack threatened democracy (ABC)
- Chief Justice John Roberts pushes back on outside efforts to reform courts (Axios)
- Alvin Bragg sworn in as Manhattan DA, taking over Trump case (NBC)
- 21 People Rescued After a Freezing Night Stranded in Aerial Tram Cars (NYT, $)
A ‘Saur Subject
- Paleontologists at London’s Natural History Museum believe that footprints discovered on a beach in Wales were made by a dinosaur over 200 million years ago in the Triassic period. They are thought to belong to a very early sauropod or sauropod relative, as it is known that those were already in Britain at the time.
- Dr. Susannah Maidment and her colleague, Professor Paul Barrett, were sent images of the tracks at the beach in Penarth in 2020 by an amateur paleontologist. The two paleontologists were skeptical at first, as they are often sent “tracks” that end up being a simple geological formation. After examining the photos, however, the two were more convinced.
- Barrett said that, because of the spacing between the marks and the mud displacement, they were fairly certain they were looking at tracks. Marks such as these aren’t very common, and paleontologists are hopeful that they’ll lend some clues as to the dinosaurs’ behaviors, such as whether or not they moved in herds. The museum said they will leave the tracks where they are, rather than moving them to be studied. (CNN)
- The Physics of Wile E. Coyote’s 10 Billion-Volt Electromagnet (Wired)
- Key West’s Southernmost Point buoy damaged after men burn a Christmas tree in front of it, police say (CNN)
- Noblewoman’s tomb reveals new secrets of ancient Rome’s highly durable concrete (Ars Technica)
- Coronavirus pandemic: Antarctic outpost hit by Covid-19 outbreak (BBC)
- COVID experts, athletes and Daniel Craig on the UK ‘Honours List’ (NPR)
- A Spanish Mystery: Is a ‘Masked Restorer’ to Blame for a Church’s Botched Repair? (NYT, $)
- Map drawn from memory helps reunite kidnapped Chinese man with family (BBC)
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