From this month on, state agencies of California will no longer buy vehicles from automakers that have not agreed to follow the state’s clean car rules. California has implemented its own strict regulations for the auto industry, banning most gas-powered only sedans from General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and any other company that doesn’t follow the regulations.

This recent change rose as a way to counter climate change and high levels of pollution caused by car emissions. California used to produce around 361.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide in a year, only the second most polluting state after Texas, and is now looking to make a move away from internal combustion engine sedans.

The Californian directive is set to give a boost to electric vehicle sales for government fleets, standing up against companies who are not putting an effort to reverse at least some of the damage done to our planet for several decades, and to those who put short-term profits ahead of our health and future.

As of now, four major automakers including Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen have accepted to follow the state’s rules and will probably be rewarded with millions of dollars, as current fleets will replace all of their vehicles provided by the banned companies. For example, as of now, Chevrolet will lose around $27 million in purchases, Fiat Chrysler $11 million and Toyota will lose $3.6 million.

California’s government actions towards air pollution will prove as inspiration for other states to follow them, and hopefully will make buyers think twice about buying a gas-powered vehicle and invest in electric cars instead

It sounds like California is heading in the right air direction, doesn’t it?

Science can do great things in the fight against climate change, and with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, climate scientists can understand better its impact and how to stop it. AI can strengthen climate predictions, find ways to assign renewable energy and identify vulnerabilities and risk zones for our environment.

Thanks to Big-Data, machines can gather and analyze data from environmental data sources such as NASA to develop better solutions alongside researchers on how to reduce global emissions and suggest actions to industrial companies and governments.

Machine-learning algorithms can also predict extreme weather events like hurricanes, and tell us its severity and length. By being able to review dozens of data points at once, machines can warn governments and its citizens earlier than ever before, allowing everyone to prepare for an event with more time.

There is an issue, though, and it’s that AI uses a lot of energy. Like, a lot. Think HUGE amounts. In order to maintain the data processing flowing, massive data centers with rows and rows of computers need to be kept running - and that uses up a lot of energy. Some experts even compare it with the energy that a small city consumes. Wowza!

Even though AI has been around for some decades, the question on its environmental impact is only arising. It’s time for scientists to start doing AI in a more environmentally friendly way - even if it means focusing efforts on it.

What can you do to help? Start with digging deeper into climate change, try to discover new materials for your everyday stuff, plant your own food. We have to start somewhere!

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A Boeing 747 uses 7840 kg of fuel only for its takeoff, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that aviation is responsible for around 3.5% of the climate change related to human activity. The problem is the industry is not only growing, but its impact could contribute up to 5% of climate change causes. Swedes are recognizing the high climate damage derive from flying, and they are beginning to see changes in attitudes as well as in travel behaviors.

Politicians have started to think on other travel alternatives for their people, and Sweden is certainly a leading example on this. For them, trains are a more climate-friendly option than airplanes, as all rail tracks are electrified - meaning them zero-carbon. Even in countries where trains are still run on fossil fuels, they emit far less carbon per passenger than flying.

Swedes now have a concept called “flygskam” or “flight shame” - calling out people who brag about flying thousands of miles around the world and supporting alternative traveling options.

The country’s national railway service set a record in 2018 of 31.8 million passengers traveling with them, and in the first quarter of 2019 the numbers have increased 10% as compared with the same time last year. Several cargo ships are also offering transport for civilian passengers. Ships are by far the most efficient way to travel as they are essentially zero carbon for personal travel.

Here’s some food for thought expressed by a renowned climate academic: “Flight should be seen as a precious gift, to be used wisely and sparingly, not blown on cheap weekend jaunts.”

So, how will you make it to your next getaway destination? How about a nice boat ride there?

Not Planes

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