Japan will try to beam solar power from space by 2025

Japan and JAXA, the country’s space administration, have spent decades trying to make it possible to beam solar energy from space. In 2015, the nation made a breakthrough when JAXA scientists successfully beamed 1.8 kilowatts of power, enough energy to…

Ford EV drivers will get access to 12,000 North American Tesla Superchargers next spring

Last February, the Biden administration unveiled its $5 billion plan to expand EV charging infrastructure across the country. Not only with the Department of Transportation help states build half a million EV charging stations by 2030, the White House also convinced Tesla to share a portion of its existing Supercharger network with non-Tesla EVs. On Thursday, Ford became the first automaker to formalize that pact with Tesla, announcing during a Twitter Spaces event that “Ford electric vehicle customers access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada,” starting in Spring 2024, per the company release.

Because Teslas uses a proprietary charger port design for its vehicles, Ford owners will initially need to rely on a Tesla-developed adapter connected to the public charging cable in order to replenish their Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit vehicles. Ford also announced that, beginning with the 2025 model year, it will switch from the existing Combined Charging System (CCS) port to Tesla’s now open-source NACS charge port. These 12,000 additional chargers will join Ford’s 84,000-strong Blue Oval charging station network.   

“Tesla has led the industry in creating a large, reliable and efficient charging system and we are pleased to be able to join forces in a way that benefits customers and overall EV adoption,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer of Ford Model e, said in the release. “The Tesla Supercharger network has excellent reliability and the NACS plug is smaller and lighter. Overall, this provides a superior experience for customers.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ford-ev-drivers-will-get-access-to-12000-north-american-tesla-superchargers-next-spring-221752191.html?src=rss

Scientists discover microbes that can digest plastics at cool temperatures

In a potentially encouraging sign for reducing environmental waste, researchers have discovered microbes from the Alps and the Arctic that can break down plastic without requiring high temperatures. Although this is only a preliminary finding, a more e…

White House proposes 30 percent tax on electricity used for crypto mining

The Biden administration wants to impose a 30 percent tax on the electricity used by cryptocurrency mining operations, and it has included the proposal in its budget for the fiscal year of 2024. In a blog post on the White House website, the administration has formally introduced the Digital Asset Mining Energy or DAME excise tax. It explained that it wants to tax cryptomining firms, because they aren’t paying for the “full cost they impose on others,” which include environmental pollution and high energy prices. 

Crypto mining has “negative spillovers on the environment,” the White House continued, and the pollution it generates “falls disproportionately on low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.” It added that the operations’ “often volatile power consumption ” can raise electricity prices for the people around them and cause service interruptions. Further, local power companies are taking a risk if they decide to upgrade their equipment to make their service more stable, since miners can easily move away to another location, even abroad. 

It’s no secret that the process of mining cryptocurrency uses up massive amounts of electricity. In April, The New York Times published a report detailing the power used by the 34 large scale Bitcoin miners in the US that it had identified. Apparently, just those 34 operations altogether use the same amount of electricity as three million households in the country. The Times explained that most Bitcoin mining took place in China until 2021 when the country banned it, making the United State the new leader. (In the US, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation that restricts crypto mining in the state last year.) Previous reports estimated the electricity consumption related to Bitcoin alone to be more than some countries’, including Argentina, Norway and the Netherlands

As Yahoo News noted, there are other industries, such as steel manufacturing, that also use large amounts of electricity but aren’t taxed for their energy consumption. In its post, the administration said that cryptomining “does not generate the local and national economic benefits typically associated with businesses using similar amounts of electricity.”

Critics believe that the government made this proposal to go after and harm an industry it doesn’t support. A Forbes report also suggested that DAME may not be the best solution for the issue, and that taxing the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions might be a better alternative. That could encourage mining firms not just to minimize energy use, but also to find cleaner sources of power. It might be difficult to convince the administration to go down that route, though: In its blog post, it said that the “environmental impacts of cryptomining exist even when miners use existing clean power.” Apparently, mining operations in communities with hydropower have been observed to reduce the amount of clean power available for use by others. That leads to higher prices and to even higher consumption of electricity from non-clean sources. 

If the proposal ever becomes a law, the government would impose the excise tax in phases. It would start by adding a 10 percent tax on miners’ electricity use in the first year, 20 percent in the second and then 30 percent from the third year onwards. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/white-house-proposes-30-percent-tax-on-electricity-used-for-crypto-mining-090342986.html?src=rss

YouTube still displays ads on some climate change denial videos, researchers say

Over 18 months after YouTube pledged to demonetize climate change denial content, researchers say they found 100 videos that violate the policy and still feature ads. They said in a report that ads for brands such as Costco, Politico and Tommy Hilfiger were displayed alongside the videos, which collectively had more than 18 million views.

An ad for the movie 80 For Brady appeared before a video claiming that climate change is a hoax, according to The New York Times. Jane Fonda, who stars in the film and runs a PAC focused on tackling climate change, told the publication she was “appalled” to find out an ad for one of her movies was running next to such a video.

Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD), a coalition of more than 50 environmental organizations and the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said the videos it found included claims like “there is no link between CO2 and temperature” and “every single model [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] ever have put out is wrong.” The researchers added that YouTube bans videos containing “harmful misinformation” from receiving ad revenue. This policy applies to videos that contradict “authoritative scientific consensus on the existence of and causes behind climate change.”

CAAD said it found another 100 videos with more than 55 million total views that didn’t violate YouTube’s policies but met its own definition of climate misinformation and disinformation. The group claimed that’s an indication of YouTube profiting from videos that fall outside of its “narrow definition” of what constitutes climate disinformation.

The researchers said that by the time they completed their research, YouTube had demonetized eight of the videos in the dataset. CAAD said the videos that were still monetized collectively had more than 71 million views. 

Content moderation is a complex issue and some videos that violate YouTube policies will inevitably slip through the cracks. However, some of the climate change denial videos that CAAD found were on channels with more than a million subscribers.

YouTube spokesperson Michael Aciman told Engadget that although the platform rigorously enforces its climate change denial policy, it’s impossible to do so perfectly. Still, YouTube is “constantly working” to upgrade its systems and get better at spotting and removing content that violates its policies. YouTube welcomes third-party feedback, as flagging videos that violate the rules can “help improve the accuracy of our enforcement over time.” 

The platform has reviewed a list of videos that CAAD researchers shared with it and demonetized those that violate the climate change denial policy. However, YouTube found that “a significant number of the videos” CAAD flagged didn’t break the rules.

“In 2021, we launched a new, industry-leading policy that explicitly prohibits ads from running on content promoting false claims about the existence and causes of climate change, which we designed in consultation with experts and authoritative sources on climate science,” Aciman said. “We do allow policy debate or discussions of climate-related initiatives, but when content crosses the line to climate change denial, we remove ads from serving on those videos.”

Update 5/2/2023 3:20PM ET: Added a statement and more context from YouTube.

Update 5/2/2023 3:55PM ET: Clarified that many of the videos CAAD flagged did not violate YouTube’s policies.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/youtube-still-displays-ads-on-some-climate-change-denial-videos-researchers-say-153904994.html?src=rss

TikTok begins removing videos with climate change misinformation

Last month, TikTok updated its community guidelines to add policies that prohibit videos with climate change misinformation on the app. As The Daily Beast notes, the change is taking effect today, April 21st. According to the service’s announcement, TikTok will no longer allow content that “undermines well-established scientific consensus” regarding the climate crisis. 

TikTok will still allow videos that tackle discussions about climate change, such as government policies related to it, as long as they don’t go against scientific consensus. However, it will start deleting content that violate its new policy today, and any user searching for climate information will be directed to “authoritative information” that TikTok had decided on in partnership with the United Nations. 

Back in 2022, internet trust researchers at NewsGuard have published a report about misinformation. They had found that TikTok is full of false information about, among other topics, climate change, and looking for the term brings up search suggestions like “climate change debunked” and “climate change doesn’t exist.” During the height of the pandemic, looking for COVID-19 videos would also bring up suggestions that include “covid vaccine hiv.” In addition, misinformation was especially prevalent during the presidential election season in the US. TikTok had ended up removing over 300,000 election-related videos and over 50,000 videos sharing COVID-19 misinformation. 

When TikTok introduced its new policy regarding climate change, it also added new rules covering AI tech that creates content. All digitally manipulated or created media on TikTok must now come with the appropriate tag, such as “synthetic,” “fake” or “altered.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tiktok-begins-removing-videos-with-climate-change-misinformation-105652995.html?src=rss

CATL’s new battery tech could inch electric planes closer to reality

With the world gradually moving toward electric cars, it’s only a matter of time before EVs take to the skies, at least for shorter trips. Inching us closer to that milestone is Chinese battery maker CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited), …

Designing for a better future: Framlab’s vision for urban architecture

When it comes to sustainability, cities represent both the problem and the solution. Sprawling slabs of concrete and asphalt create heat islands, resulting in significantly higher temperatures than non-urbanized areas, while city populations are only g…

Apple’s batteries will use 100 percent recycled cobalt by 2025

Apple is promising more eco-friendly batteries ahead of Earth Day. The company has committed to using 100 percent recycled cobalt in all Apple-designed batteries by 2025. It also expects to use completely recycled rare earth elements in its magnets by …