All posts by Manuel Richardson

Money talks when trying to influence climate change legislation

Climate lobbying is big business. A new analysis shows that between 2000 and 2016, lobbyists spent more than two billion dollars on influencing relevant legislation in the US Congress. Unsurprisingly, sectors that could be negatively affected by bills limiting carbon emissions, such as the electrical utilities sector, fossil fuel companies and transportation corporations had the deepest pockets.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180718223101.htm

Ocean Solutions Accelerator names its first wave of conservation startups

Early this year the Sustainable Oceans Alliance announced it would be starting its own accelerator with a focus on conservation. The nonprofit has just announced the Ocean Solutions Accelerator’s first wave of startups: a particularly varied and international lineup that’s easy to root for.

You may also remember that the SOA was one of the beneficiaries of the mysterious Pineapple Fund, administered by a mysterious cryptocurrency multimillionaire. No doubt that has helped get the accelerator on its feet in good time.

The startups — which I’m getting to, be patient — will receive an initial investment to cover the cost of relocating to the Bay Area for eight weeks this summer. There they will receive the loving care of the collection of academics, founders, officials and others in or around the Alliance, plus some important “personal development and executive training” intended to keep your company alive long enough to ship a product.

Interestingly, applications were only open to founders 35 years and under, presumably to get that young blood into the conservation game. Here are the five companies selected to take part:

SafetyNet, from London, makes light-emitting devices that attach to fishing nets and can be programmed to attract or discourage certain kinds of fish. This prevents a boat from catching — and subsequently throwing away — thousands of the wrong fish, a huge waste.

CalWave came out of Berkeley a couple of years ago and has been testing and refining its wave-harvesting renewable energy system, and in fact won a big Department of Energy grant just last year. Now presumably the team is looking to go from prototype to product and do some big installs.

Loliware’s edible cups.

Loliware has created seaweed-based straws and cups that are so compostable you can do it yourself — like, in your mouth. The items last for a day in a drink (or with a drink in them) but when you throw it away it’ll totally dissolve in about two months — or you could literally eat it. The New Yorkers were on Shark Tank and I’m guessing they ate one on camera. You can already order them on Amazon and people say they’re actually pretty tasty.

Etac, a Mexican company from Culiacan, has few details on its site, but SOA’s press release says the company “designs and produces functional nanomaterials for energy and environmental applications, such as oil spill and wastewater cleanup.” I believe them.

And because there can’t be an accelerator without a blockchain startup in it, there’s Blockcycle, based in Sydney, which aims to create a marketplace around waste materials that would normally go to the landfill but could also be valuable to recyclers, reusers and so on. (Turns out there was an uptick in blockchain applications after the Pineapple Fund thing.)

All five companies will present their ideas on September 11 at an event (specifically, a gala) timed to coincide with California Governor Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. And then in October they’ll present again in Bali at the Our Ocean Youth Summit.

“These ocean entrepreneurs are a beacon of hope at a time when new, bold approaches are needed to fast-track innovation and sustain the health of our planet,” said SOA founder and CEO Daniela Fernandez. “By supporting these incredible startups, we are encouraging young people to take ownership of the environmental threats facing their communities, bet against consensus and re-invent existing markets to benefit, instead of harm, our climate, and ocean.”

WeWork takes meat off the menu as part of environmental policy drive

WeWork, the co-working startup that’s valued at ~$20 billion and has some 200,000 members across 200 locations globally plus nearly 6,000 staff of its own, will no long allow employees to expense meat. It will also no longer serve meat at company events. The policy shift is intended to reduce the business’ environmental impact.

The new internal policy was reported on Friday by Bloomberg which obtained a company memo in which co-founder Miguel McKelvey revealed the policy, writing: “New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact — even more than switching to a hybrid car.”

So Elon Musk take note.

A WeWork spokeswoman confirmed the new policy to us — which specifically removes red meat, poultry and pork from company menus and expenses policy. Though she emphasized that the company is not prohibiting WeWork staff or members from bringing in meat-based meals they’ve paid for themselves.

Members are also still free to host their own events at WeWork locations and serve meat they’ve paid for themselves. The policy only applies to food purchased (or paid for) by WeWork itself.

The spokeswoman also confirmed that fish is not covered in the meat-free initiative.

The internal memo announcing the meat-free policy is embedded below:

Global Team,

One thing that inspires me most about WeWork is our ability to effect positive change. Our team, united together, has no limit when solving any problem. That’s the Power of We.

In the past few weeks, many teams around the world have already taken action to help us become more environmentally conscious. From plastic-free events in Montreal to recycling initiatives in Hong Kong, we’re excited and humbled by how quickly our teams can make an impact.

But we know we can do more.

We have made a commitment to be a meat-free organization. Moving forward, we will not serve or pay for meat at WeWork events and want to clarify that this includes poultry and pork, as well as red meat.

New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact — even more than switching to a hybrid car. As a company, WeWork can save an estimated 16.7 billion gallons (63.1 billion liters) of water, 445.1 million pounds (201.9 million kg) of CO2 emissions, and over 15 million animals by 2023 by eliminating meat at our events.

One of our most powerful annual events is Summer Camp. Many of you have asked if we will be serving meat this year. In keeping with our commitment, we will not be serving meat at camp. This is a significant first step — and one that will have a meaningful impact. In just the three days we are together, we estimate that we can save more than 10,000 animals. The team has worked hard to create a sustainable, plentiful, and delicious menu. If you require a medical or religious accommodation, please contact our Global Policy Team.

We are energized by this opportunity to leave a better world for future generations and appreciate your partnership as we continue the journey.

For information on changes (from T&E to the Honesty Market), additional reading on the effects a meat-free diet can have on the world, or to get involved, visit our Connect page. You can also reach out to us at culture@wework.com.

The changes you are making every day will truly change the world.

Miguel

Scientists have been warning for years that the meat industry is a massive generator of greenhouses gases — although the topic often gets bypassed in mainstream environmental discussions and overlooked by corporate social responsibility policies, so it’s interesting to see WeWork stepping up to the plate (ha!) and putting its policies where its environmentally conscious soundbites are.

According to Bloomberg, the company will also exclude meat products from the self-serve food and drink kiosk systems that are present in around 400 of WeWork’s co-working buildings.

So its affirmative environmental action to reduce meat consumption will have some impact — albeit likely a smaller one — on its paying members too.

Quantum dot white LEDs achieve record efficiency

Researchers have demonstrated nanomaterial-based white-light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that exhibit a record luminous efficiency of 105 lumens per watt.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180712114522.htm

Brain function partly replicated by nanomaterials

Researchers have created extremely dense, random SWNT/POM network molecular neuromorphic devices, generating spontaneous spikes similar to nerve impulses of neurons. They conducted simulation calculations of the random molecular network model complexed with POM molecules, which are able to store electric charges, replicating spikes generated from the random molecular network. They also demonstrated that this molecular model would very likely become a component of reservoir computing devices. Reservoir computing is anticipated as next-generation artificial intelligence.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180712100507.htm

Simpler interferometer can fine tune even the quickest pulses of light

A super compact interferometer will give scientists an unprecedented ability to fine tune even the quickest pulses of light for a host of applications, and could render traditional instruments for measuring light beams obsolete.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180711153604.htm

Carbon nanotubes used to develop clothing that can double as batteries

Engineers are creating clothing that can charge your cell phone. What makes this possible are the unique properties of carbon nanotubes: a large surface area that is strong, conductive and heat-resistant.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180710153742.htm

‘Star in a jar’: World record for stellarators set

When Germany’s Wendelstein 7-X fusion facility set a world record for stellarators recently, a finely tuned instrument proved the achievement. The record strongly suggests that the design of the stellarator can be developed to capture on Earth the fusion that drives the sun and stars.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180709161538.htm

Biosensor chip detects single nucleotide polymorphism wirelessly, with higher sensitivity

Scientists have developed a chip that can detect a type of genetic mutation known as a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and send the results in real time to an electronic device. The chip is at least 1,000 times more sensitive at detecting an SNP than current technology. The advance could lead to cheaper, faster and portable biosensors for early detection of genetic markers for diseases such as cancer.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180709142153.htm

Generating electrical power from waste heat

Researchers have developed a tiny silicon-based device that can harness what was previously called waste heat and turn it into DC power.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180709120135.htm

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