The government “has a long way to go” to achieve its aim of transforming the car market to selling only 100 per cent electric vehicles (EVs) within 15 years, and to ensure almost every car on the road is zero emissions by 2050, the UK’s public spending watchdog has warned. Assessing the government’s ambitions to decarbonise Britain’s roads, the National Audit Office (NAO) said a huge amount of work was still needed to prepare drivers and the auto market for rapid green transition and urged Ministers to draw up a detailed roadmap with clear milestones through to 2050. See full story on Business Green.
Parts of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are being sold illegally on Facebook, the BBC has discovered. The protected areas include national forests and land reserved for indigenous peoples. Some of the plots listed via Facebook’s classified ads service are as large as 1,000 football pitches. Facebook said it was “ready to work with local authorities”, but indicated it would not take independent action of its own to halt the trade. “Our commerce policies require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations,” the Californian tech firm added.
A new report by industry body WindEurope has highlighted how Europe is still is not moving fast enough in pivoting to wind to deliver the Green Deal and climate neutrality. The report concludes that Europe installed 14.7 GW of new wind energy in 2020 with 80% of this onshore wind. Europe now has 220 GW of total wind energy capacity and is set to build 15 GW per year over the next 5 years. However it needs 27 GW per year to deliver the 55% emissions reductions by 2030. Says Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO, said: “Wind is now 16% of Europe’s electricity. But Europe is not building enough new wind farms to deliver the EU’s climate and energy goals.” Full story on Transition Earth.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a generation of schoolchildren interested in a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), research has revealed. A survey of 1,000 kids aged 11-17 revealed 83 per cent have been learning about the pandemic by watching the news – with 71 per cent asking their parents about the virus. Two thirds (67 per cent) have also been inspired by the hard work of the nurses and doctors working during the pandemic, as well as the likes of Chris Whitty and Jonathan Van-Tam. And 48 per cent of secondary-age schoolchildren would be interested in a career in STEM after seeing how people working in these industries have helped others. See Tech Digest.
Smartphones could be used to scan people’s eyes for early-warning signs of glaucoma – helping to prevent severe ocular diseases and blindness, a new study reveals. Scientists at the University of Birmingham have successfully carried out experiments using soundwaves and an eye model, publishing their findings in Engineering Reports. Co-author Dr. Khamis Essa, Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Group at the University of Birmingham, commented: “We discovered a relationship between the internal pressure of an object and its acoustic reflection coefficient. With further investigation into eye geometry and how this affects the interaction with soundwaves, it is possible to use a smartphone to accurately measure IOP (intraocular pressure) from the comfort of the user’s home.” See full story here: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2021/02/smartphones-glaucoma-blindness.aspx
A 10,000-kilometre-long fibre-optic cable owned by Google that is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean can be used to detect earthquakes. Zhongwen Zhan at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, and his colleagues, including researchers at Google, used traffic data from one of the tech giant’s optical fibres to measure changes in pressure and strain in the cable. Using this data, they could detect earthquakes and ocean swells generated by storms. Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2269324-google-uses-underwater-fibre-optic-cable-to-detect-earthquakes/#ixzz6nZd9Tv22
In the market for an electric tractor? The good news is that you can now reserve one from Solectrac in the US for just $1,000, writes Clean Technica. There are two tractors open for reservations, a 40 HP-equivalent eUtility tractor and the 4-wheel drive 30 HP-equivalent compact electric tractor (CET). The former comes at a base cost of $45,000, with add-ons that can bring it up to $75,000 while the compact electric tractor starts at $25,800 with add-ons taking it up to $33,000. “Both tractors are built to outperform their diesel counterparts by eliminating exhaust and noise and with the benefit of instant torque at low RPM,” claims Solectrac founder and CEO Stephen Heckeroth.