CleanTechnica Fossil Fuels elaborated on the more and more overwhelming tendency of eying Fossil Fuel complicity as no longer hidden in America’s investments institutions. as well as elsewhere in the world. Here it is.
They’re not giving up. Yes, several attempts were defeated to persuade the Massachusetts municipal and county retirement systems to remove fossil fuel investments from their portfolios. But the Massachusetts Legislature is still considering measures that open up possibilities for divestment. To do otherwise, they argue, is to engage in fossil fuel complicity.
And they’re not alone. All over the US, organizations are pushing for divestments within institutions and municipalities. Led by FossilFree.org, individuals and advocacy groups are raising the discourse around the necessity to stop and ban all new oil, coal, and gas projects bypassing local resolutions to divest and by building community resistance.
Divestment has been a tool used to promote social change since at least the 1970s, when anti-apartheid activists urged institutions to move their investment dollars away from companies that did business with South Africa. Fossil fuel divestment has been gaining momentum in recent years, with more than 1,000 institutions pledging to remove $8.55 trillion from investments in the fossil fuel sector.
Fiduciary Duty is Now a Companion Argument to Social & Environmental Reasons to Divest
In 2017, Somerville, Massachusetts’ governing board agreed to move $9.2 million — 4.5% of the total invested funds — out of fossil fuel investments. The regulatory body that oversees public pension systems rejected the move, however, with reasons ranging from procedural to breach of fiduciary duty. The Massachusetts Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) claimed Somerville was failing to put the financial needs of its beneficiaries ahead of social and environmental causes. PERAC oversees 104 public pension plans across the state, with about $86 billion in total assets.
Demand for fossil fuels is likely to drop as much of the global economy shifts to renewable energy.
Increased storm frequency due to climate change can cause supply chain disruption and infrastructure damage for oil companies.
“From the fiduciary perspective, there are a lot of questions as to the economic health of the fossil fuel sector moving forward,” Alex Nosnik, a member of the Somerville board, said. “Risk, certainly in concert with the environmental and social issues, was driving our decision to move forward.”
Ultimately, after lots of divestment advocates worked alongside sympathetic legislators to craft a local option bill that would authorize any municipal or county retirement system to divest from fossil fuels should they so choose. Standalone bills have been filed in the House and Senate; similar language has also been included in a wide-ranging clean energy bill pending in the Senate.
Several of the state’s environmental groups have come out in favour of these measures, including the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club, the Green Energy Consumers Alliance, and the Climate Action Business Association.
“We have to stop putting money into fossil fuels,” said Deb Pasternak, director of Sierra Club Massachusetts. “We need to take our money and direct it toward the renewable energy economy.”
2019 is just around the corner, and across the globe observations and statistics indicate that clean, renewable energy production is growing faster than fossil fuels, and multiple studies predict that this trend will continue to grow. Renewable energy investments grew to $297 billion in 2016 (the last time full-year data was collected), while only $143 billion was spent on fossil fuels and nuclear power.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels as early as 2020. Bloomberg’s New Energy Outlook 2018 forecasts that “By 2050 wind and solar technology provide almost 50% of total electricity globally – ’50 by 50′ – with hydro, nuclear and other renewables taking total zero-carbon electricity up to 71%.”
Developing nations are now forging ahead of the wealthiest countries (and previous leaders in renewable energy) by practicing the use of producing energy through environmentally friendly methods, like wind and solar, more than traditional, harmful methods.
Because many developing countries are plentiful in natural resources and equipment costs are relatively low, clean energy has been shown to be financially beneficial for less wealthy countries allowing them to dominate in clean energy production. In fact, research shows that, in many cases, due to the sharp decline in prices of solar technology in recent years, the same amount of energy produced from fossil fuels can be produced by solar panel systems at half the cost of coal.
According to an article on Bloomberg News, “Emerging markets added the least new coal-fired power generating capacity last year since at least2006.” The article continues, “New coal plants in these countries slumped 38 percent from a year earlier to 48 gigawatts in 2017, which was about half of the peak in 2015, according to BNEF.”
Countries like the US can learn from these developing nations. Nicki Zvik, founder of Green Solar Technologies, states, “As resources for fossil fuels diminish, and as the need take measures to prevent climate change remains at the forefront of people’s minds, it is essential that wealthier nations take advantage of the flourishing clean energy market, and thankfully, they are.”
According to an article published on Engadget,”Renewable energy played an important role in the US last year…” The article continues to note, “solar and wind power represented 94.7 percent of the net new electricity capacity (15.8GW out of 16.7GW) added in 2017.”
2018 has been a banner year for renewable energy. The rapid progression of investment in clean, reliable, eco-friendly renewables continues at record-breaking levels, and all indicators point to strong and steady growth in renewable energy into the foreseeable future. More than ever, global awareness that renewable energy is the only viable answer to the world’s growing energy demands, and hope for the future grows apace.
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An article of The Tech Edvocate written by Matthew Lynch and published on Aug 09, 2017 gives an idea on how education has evolved into increased depth mainly through more reliance on digital computation. This calls on diverse and bespoke application software. In the author’s opinion, these number 7 must have student-collaboration Apps that are the most used ones for the specific capabilities of each.
Would this article apply to the MENA region as well ?
Collaboration in the classroom helps students process and deepen knowledge. Students also develop important real-world skills like problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and leadership.
When you choose the right tools, incorporating technology can further enhance student collaboration and learning outcomes. Here are seven of the best student-collaboration apps, tools, and resources for you to try this school year.
With Google Docs, students can share and collaborate on documents. Color-coded icons show who is typing or editing what in real time.
Google Hangouts facilitates small group discussions, and it’s compatible with any device. Students can also create presentations together with Google Slides or collaboratively build diagrams using Google Drawings.
Essentially a virtual bulletin board, Padlet is perfect for collaborative discussions. Teachers or students start by posing an open-ended question. Students respond with words, images, audio, or video. All responses appear on the original “wall” in real time, and students can comment on one another’s posts.
Twiddla calls itself a “meeting platform” where students can collaboratively mark-up graphics, photos, webpages, and uploaded documents. Students may opt to brainstorm on a white canvas or create mind maps as well.
This very easy-to-use backchannel tool allows teachers to create a chatroom for the class. Students can ask questions, respond to questions, have collaborative discussions, or provide feedback on your lesson. The site also has a polling feature.
WikiSpaces Classroom gives you and your students a safe, private network for having discussions, collaboratively editing pages, and completing group projects. There are pre-built templates for a variety of projects, but students can also work from a blank slate.
You can track all student progress in real time and immediately communicate feedback to your students, whether they’re at home or in your classroom.
These apps, tools, and resources can all be quickly and easily implemented to enhance communication and collaboration in your classroom.
Following our Earth Day commemoration article Climate Change and Environmental Awareness , where it was mentioned that on that day, the United Kingdom gave up its use of coal for mainly generating its electrical power, today we are happy to republish a World Economic Forum’s article written by Alex Gray, Formative Content on April 26, 2017 on the same subject. It is about the US and Europe abandoning coal generated energy altogether and for the first time for generations, in fact from as it were the launching of this technology.
The media are increasingly reporting that renewable power now accounts for more than 30% of all installed electrical capacity worldwide, exceeding coal, and this whilst some politicians who riding a wave crest of popularity have promised the contrary, that is to dig deep for more coal.
We would take opportunity here to mention that despite the advent of fossil oils, the coal industry never ceased to be sourced for one purpose or another to generate and / or second energy production.
As per this article, Alex is proposing the idea that this is it and there is no looking back. So, thank you Alex for this piece of good news; wondering however, what’s next?
The benefits of renewable energy are obvious: it’s giving us a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet to live on.
But clean energy is also a massive contributor to the economy.
A recent report says that “advanced energy” is a $1.4 trillion global industry, almost twice the size of the global airline industry, and nearly equal to worldwide apparel revenue. This is a 7% increase compared to the 2015 total of $1.3 trillion.
Image: Advanced Energy Now 2017 Market Report
In fact, the advanced energy industry, which encompasses energy sources, technologies and services that are clean, affordable and secure, is also growing much faster than the world economy overall – 7% versus 3.1%.
And it is creating jobs. The industry now supports 3.3 million positions in the US alone. That’s equal to the employment provided by retail stores, and twice the jobs in construction.
What is driving its growth?
Globally, advanced energy has grown by nearly a quarter (24%) since 2011, adding $257.7 billion in revenue over six years. The top three performers were electricity generation, transportation and building efficiency, in that order, according to the report, which was prepared by Navigant Research for Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a trade association representing the advanced energy industry.
Electricity generation remained the largest advanced energy segment globally, with $455.6 billion in revenue (up 5% over 2015).
Transportation was the second largest advanced energy segment, growing 8% last year and reaching $447 billion.
At 15%, building efficiency capped a fifth straight year of double-digit growth with a record increase, reaching $271.6 billion in revenue in 2016.
Image: Advanced Energy Economy (AEE)
The picture in the US
In the US, the advanced energy industry generated $200 billion in revenue, nearly double that of beer sales, equal to pharmaceutical manufacturing, and approaching wholesale consumer electronics.
Image: Advanced Energy Now 2017 Market Report
Advanced energy in the United States has grown by an average of 5% annually for a total of 28% compared to 2011.
What is advanced energy?
The report defines advanced energy as “a broad range of technologies, products, and services that constitute the best available technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow”.
That includes things like the transmission, distribution and storage of electricity; vehicles that are powered by fuel other than gasoline or diesel; fuel production including ethanol and biodiesel; advanced industry processes (such as combined heat and power); fuel delivery and electricity generation through renewables.
Another report has reached similar conclusions.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says that, by 2050, renewables will add about $19 trillion to the world economy, and will create about 6 million jobs.
The increase in use of renewable energy, plus improved energy efficiency, will achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rises to no more than 2C, according to IRENA. The aim of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is to keep global temperature increase well below 2C and if possible below 1.5C.
IRENA says that while changing the energy landscape requires massive investment – some $29 trillion –
this only represents 0.4% of global GDP.
In addition to boosting the economy, it will create enough jobs to offset job losses in the fossil fuel industry, and of course, give us a healthier planet to live on.
Renewable energy now accounts for 24% of global power generation and 16% of primary energy supply. To achieve decarbonization, the report states that, by 2050, renewables should be 80% of power generation and 65% of total primary energy supply.
This most beautiful article produced and published on Friday, March 10, 2017 by Common Dreams and written by Nika Knight, staff writer about Thousands Marching for Native Nations, a movement of populations reacting to the newly elected president of the United States standing for the Big Oils forcing their way with a pipe-line through indigenous lands in the Dakota plains.
We would take this opportunity to remind that the right of marginalised indigenous individuals as well as communities are almost unknown or unheard of in the MENA region populations. The very best example that could laid out for illustration would be the Kuwaiti Bidoons that are by the way found in pockets in almost all countries of the Gulf, Palestine and North Africa.
We recommend reading the article in its original setting for a better appreciation of the embedded message of justice, and eventually provision of some equity as it were in our consumption of the environment.
The march began at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters and ended at Lafayette Square, in front of the White House. En route, demonstrators erected a tipi at the Trump Hotel to “reclaim stolen land”:
Afterward, the rights and land defenders marched on to the White House:
The march culminated in a rally at Lafayette Square. Indigenous people and protesters spoke, prayed, played music, and repeated calls for environmental justice, sovereignty, and a meeting between President Donald Trump and leaders of tribal nations.
“Standing Rock was just the beginning, “said a journalist with Indigenous Rising Media, speaking to a plaintiff in one of the multiple lawsuits against the U.S. government for permitting the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction.
A live broadcast of the march and rally can be found here. Throughout the day, participants and journalists are also posting photos and videos of the action under the hashtag #NativeNationsRise:
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion highlighting the need for incorporating social sciences in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines in order to foster creativity, increase empathy and create a better understanding of the human condition among scientists.
Unfortunately, however, all this talk hasn’t changed the reality on the ground.
As a researcher and teacher in biomedical engineering, looking at the fundamental functions of the human body, I feel that we in engineering (as well as other sciences) have done a disservice to our students. We have failed to connect them to the history of science through stories of scientists.
Our students, these days, have little knowledge about the giants on whose shoulders we all stand.
Research also shows that such stories enable students in STEM disciplines to better understand and apply their classroom knowledge in real-world settings.
Missing piece in science learning
In one of my engineering classes, I discuss how fluids, such as air and blood, flow in the human body. These processes are critical to our health and well-being.
As I do that, I also discuss the associated discoveries made by many leading scientists. The seminal work of scientists such as Joseph Fourier, Daniel Bernoulli and Isaac Newton has transformed our world and tremendously improved our quality of life.
However, beyond the most famous anecdote about the falling apple leading to the discovery of gravity, I find that students in my class know little about Newton’s contributions. While students in my class may have a rich understanding of the Fourier transform (a fundamental mathematical relationship that forms the basis of modern electrical engineering), they literally know nothing about who Fourier was.
Research suggests that context and history play a strong role in connecting science and engineering theory with practice.
As educators, we face tremendous pressures to pack technical materials into our courses. So why should we include history in our lesson plans?
First, history provides a compelling perspective on the process of scientific discovery. We have known through research that historical references can help students clear up common misconceptions about scientific topics, ranging from planetary motion to evolution.
Looking at the story of science over centuries enables students to understand that research and discovery are continuous processes. They can then see that the laws and the equations that they use to solve problems were discovered through long and sometimes painful processes.
The findings they arrive at today, in other words, are the fruits of the hard work of real people who lived in real societies and had complex lives, just like the rest of us.
Second, a sense of history teaches students the all-important value of failure in science. It also highlights the persistence of the scientists who continued to push against the odds.
Recent research suggests that by discussing the struggles and failures of scientists, teachers are able to motivate students. Indeed, the discussion of struggles, obstacles, failures and persistence can lead to significant academic improvement of students, particularly for those who may be facing personal or financial difficulties or feeling discouraged by previous instructors and mentors.
Learning from history
This dose of inspiration is particularly valuable for STEM students who face barriers in their academic work, either due to lack of financial resources or due to their gender or race.
The stories of past scientists are a reminder to them that history is an opportunity. Not all great discoveries were made by people who were at the very top of the socioeconomic pyramid.
Connected to the process of discovery and innovation is the fundamental notion of the multidisciplinary approach.
Students need to understand that this approach is not a creation of the 21st century. People have used the multidisciplinary tools of their time for hundreds of years. Johannes Gutenberg, for example, combined the flexibility of a coin punch with the mechanical strength of the wine press to invent the printing press, which created a profound global impact in disseminating knowledge.
Finally, a fundamental goal of modern engineering education is to create socially conscious engineering practitioners who have a strong sense of ethics.
Following an engineering education, individuals could go on to develop medical technology for resource-constrained settings, or work on stem cells or genetic engineering. The importance of ethics in any of these areas cannot be underestimated.
Case studies and history could be immensely valuable in teaching ethics. History provides strong evidence of how the environment around scientists was equally important in shaping their lives and discoveries. Lessons from history could provide insights into how to make ethical choices related to technology or engineering principles.
History, heritage and a holistic view of learning
The goal, in the end, is not to compromise on the rigor, or to focus exclusively on history and personalities, but to make the material more accessible through story-telling and connection with our common heritage.
By making students realize that they are part of a grand tradition of learning, success and failure, we might find that the goals of retention, inspiration, access and rich engagement with the material are closer than we realize.
Asst. Prof. Muhammad H. Zaman Photo by Kalman Zabarsky for Boston University Photography