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Every bit of green space can have positive benefits for the environment

Experts say it’s not just bigger spaces like parks that can have health benefits for consumers

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of New South Wales explored how different kinds of green spaces can be beneficial for consumers’ health and the environment. 

While larger spaces like parks and gardens have been linked with health benefits, their findings suggest that smaller spaces like the greenery on the side of roadways also come with health and environmental benefits. 

“Parks are not the homogenised ecological deserts that we think they are --...

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    Keeping your camera off during virtual meetings can help save the environment

    There are several ways consumers change their internet use to be more eco-conscious

    Many consumers have made the switch from in-person work to working from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this change has cut down on commuting times, it also has meant that consumers are spending a lot more time on the internet while at home.

    A new study conducted by researchers from Purdue University explored how consumers can use all of this extra screen time to benefit the environment. According to the researchers, one of the best ways consumers can cut down on their carbon footprint is to keep their cameras turned off during virtual meetings. 

    “Banking systems tell you the positive environmental impact of going paperless, but no one tells you the benefit of turning off your camera or reducing your streaming quality,” said researcher Kaveh Madani. “So without your consent, these platforms are increasing your environmental footprint.” 

    Small changes make a big impact

    The researchers gathered internet processing data from several countries around the world to better understand how consumers’ internet habits can influence various environmental outcomes. They looked at social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Zoom and explored how usage affected carbon, water, and land footprints. 

    “If you just look at one type of footprint, you miss out on others that can provide a more holistic look at environmental impact,” said researcher Roshanak Nateghi. 

    The researchers learned that streaming services and online video conferences are two of the biggest culprits in terms of negative impacts on the environment. However, by making simple switches, consumers help reduce the effect of such environmental damage. 

    They explained that keeping your camera off during a virtual meeting can reduce the carbon, water, and land footprints by 96 percent, and swapping high definition streaming for standard definition can reduce these footprints by 86 percent. Opting against data downloads can also be incredibly beneficial for the environment. Currently, a one-hour video call uses up to 12 liters of water and produces 1,000 grams of carbon dioxide. 

    While CO2 emissions have hit record lows since the start of the pandemic, the researchers worry about how continued excessive internet usage will continue to affect the environment. If consumers keep up at the current pace, carbon, water, and land footprints are anticipated to increase by the end of 2021.

    “There are the best estimates given the available data,” said Nateghi. “In view of these reported surges, there is a hope now for higher transparency to guide policy.” 

    Many consumers have made the switch from in-person work to working from home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this change has cut down on co...
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    Climate change has led to billions of dollars in flood damages, study finds

    More frequent extreme weather events have heightened the severity of flooding

    Climate change is a source of stress for many consumers, and findings from a new study conducted by researchers from Stanford University may just add to that stress. 

    Because climate change has led to more frequent weather events and more severe periods of precipitation, flooding has become a much more serious issue for many consumers. According to the researchers’ findings, flooding due to climate change has led to billions of dollars in damages in the last 30 years. 

    “The fact that extreme precipitation has been increasing and will likely increase in the future is well known, but what effect that has had on financial damages has been uncertain,” said researcher Frances Davenport. “Our analysis allows us to isolate how much of those changes in precipitation translate to changes in the cost of flooding, both now and in the future.” 

    Flood damage on the rise

    The researchers’ goal was to determine whether rising flood damages were related to climate change or if there were other overriding socioeconomic factors that have come into play in recent years. They used existing economic models to compare climate change data, flood damages, and weather patterns between 1988 and 2017. 

    “By bringing all those pieces together, this framework provides a novel quantification not only of how much historical changes in precipitation have contributed to the costs of flooding, but also how greenhouse gases influence the kind of precipitation events that cause the most damaging flood events,” said researcher Noah Diffenbaugh. 

    The researchers found that over the last 30 years, flooding has yielded nearly $200 billion in related damages across the United States. They learned that climate change was directly linked to more than 35 percent of those costs, or roughly $75 billion in damages. The team explained that the severity of extreme weather events is mostly to blame in these cases, as flooding has only worsened as the weather has changed. 

    “What we find is that, even in states where the long-term mean precipitation hasn’t changed, in most cases, the wettest events have intensified, increasing the financial damages relative to what would have occurred without the changes in precipitation,” said Davenport. 

    This study points to just one area of significant cost that stems from climate change. Moving forward, the researchers hope that legislators can utilize these findings as the basis for serious climate-related policy change. Without changes, they believe flood damages will only surge higher as time goes on. 

    “Accurately and comprehensively tallying the past and future costs of climate change is key to making good policy decisions,” said researcher Marshall Burke. “This work shows that past climate change has already cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, just due to flood damages alone.” 

    Climate change is a source of stress for many consumers, and findings from a new study conducted by researchers from Stanford University may just add to th...
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    Hope still exists in the fight against climate change, experts say

    Policy-led interventions implemented around the world could lead to lasting improvements

    While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought some positive news in terms of the environment, research shows that pollution is still a very real problem.

    Though a lot of work still needs to be done, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter is detailing why hope still remains in the fight against climate change. According to the researchers, efforts put into place in two key areas -- lighter road transportation and power -- will likely benefit the environment for years to come. 

    “We have left it too late to tackle climate change incrementally,” said researcher Tim Lenton. “Limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius now requires transformational change and a dramatic acceleration process.”

    Tipping towards environmental advancements 

    Lenton and his team are optimistic about the future of climate change because of what they refer to as “tipping points.” They explained that this happens when several small changes build on top of one another to create one lasting change. When it comes to climate change, the researchers anticipate tipping points to occur in the areas of power and lighter road transportation. In both cases, policy-led interventions have already been put into place to help set the scales in motion that will eventually create long-term change. 

    In looking at power, the researchers explained that countries around the world are working to make coal plants a thing of the past. On a global scale, renewable energy sources are proving to be a more cost-effective method of generating power, which is minimizing the benefits associated with coal and fossil fuels. 

    As these efforts continue, and renewable energy is utilized more and more, the researchers predict that there will no longer be any financial benefits of using coal or in maintaining coal plants. In time, the widespread use of solar or wind-powered energy will tip the scales and make coal-fueled power obsolete.

    The researchers anticipate a similar tipping point to occur when electric cars are more widely used by consumers. Currently, the manufacturing costs of electric cars are making it difficult for them to be more accessible to car buyers. However, offsetting these costs is possible; the researchers explained that legislators in parts of the world that generate the highest car sales -- California, China, and the European Union -- can work together to mass-produce electric cars and lower costs. 

    “If either of these efforts -- in power or road transport -- succeed, the most important effect could be to tip perceptions of the potential for international cooperation to tackle climate change,” Lenton said. 

    While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought some positive news in terms of the environment, research shows that pollution is still a very real problem.Thou...
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    Uber to expand ‘Uber Green’ to more cities as part of increased sustainability efforts

    The company will also be focusing on electric vehicles and new initiatives in 2021

    The new year is officially underway, and Uber is recommitting to some of the green initiatives that it promised to undertake towards the end of 2020.

    On Tuesday, the company announced that it will be expanding its Uber Green ride option to over 1,400 more North American cities and towns. The offering allows riders to choose either an electric vehicle or a hybrid vehicle as their mode of transport. Drivers who have an eligible vehicle can earn a small bonus from each completed trip, and some of the money also goes towards greater adoption of electric vehicles. 

    Uber is also adopting Uber Green into its Uber Pass membership service. Consumers who are enrolled in that program can receive 10 percent off on Green trips and on standard rides.

    More sustainability efforts

    Also included in Uber’s announcement was information on two new initiatives it has joined to help fight climate change. The first is its enrollment in the Zero Emissions Transportation Association (ZETA), which is advocating for policies that will allow 100 percent electric vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030. 

    “For the first time in a generation, transportation is the leading emitter of U.S. carbon emissions. By embracing EVs, federal policymakers can help drive innovation, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and improve air quality and public health,” Joe Britton, ZETA’s executive director, said in November.

    The second initiative Uber has joined is Amazon’s and Global Optimism’s Climate Pledge, which seeks to meet the climate goals outlined in The Paris Agreement on a shorter timeline.

    “Uber’s work to have 100% of rides taking place in zero-emission vehicles, on public transit, or with micromobility by 2040,” aligns with this pledge, the company said.

    The new year is officially underway, and Uber is recommitting to some of the green initiatives that it promised to undertake towards the end of 2020.On...
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