Let’s Use Airships Instead of Airplanes

Travelling via airplane is safe for you as an individual, but collectively all of using planes is unsafe. At ground level the emissions from airplanes are bad and are even more damaging when released high in the atmosphere (where you know, planes fly). If we’re going to survive the climate crisis then we’ll need to all reduce our use of modern airplanes.

Let’s use airships instead. More commonly known as blimps, these large airborne vessels can transport cargo more efficiently than boats or planes, they are just lacking the airport infrastructure. Lockheed Martin has recently found a way to make them more efficient and is proposing airships as a new way for luxury travel.

A paper in the journal Energy Conservation and Management published in September posits that just one airship could move 21,000 tons of stuff using almost no energy at all if we used airships to harness the free winds of the jet stream, the narrow band of fast-moving air above the troposphere, where planes fly. These winds, which average 100 miles per hour and can be as speedy as 250 mph, could propel an airship from Denver to China in about seven days or from Los Angeles to Tokyo in four, says Julian David Hunt, of Austria’s International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis and the paper’s first author.

These lower-flying vehicles, known as hybrids, are likely what we’ll see in the nearer future. Aerospace company Lockheed Martin’s hybrid prototype sports three cartoonish bubbles up front to help with navigation and engines to assist with maneuverability. The company’s hybrid design uses 20% aerodynamic lift — a lightly fuel-powered boost for a bit of a “plane-like effect” — and helium for the remaining 80% buoyant lift, Boyd says. The end result uses significantly less fuel than a plane and can access many areas other vehicles can’t.

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Modifying Crops to Survive the Climate Crisis

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Presently crop failures are increasing around the world and this will only get worse unless we act. Large teams of scientists researching crops are examining ways to help them survive our warming planet. They’re looking at less commonly known plants which can survive in harsh climates to help modify our crops.

It’s an urgent mission. A food crisis is looming, says the International Panel for Climate Change, with floods and droughts linked to climate change already affecting the supply and price of food. A recent report warns that the amount of crops produced globally is set to drop by as much as 30 percent in the next 30 years. Water shortages add stress to the system, threatening supplies of wheat, maize, and rice—which are included in about half of all the calories we consume.

The idea is to help crops become stronger and more adaptable through a breeding process that tweaks domesticated varieties with genes borrowed from those untamed cousins that survive drought, salinity, or disease.

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It’s Time to Topple the Voting System

Modern democracy is under a lot of scrutiny this century as we’ve seen increased corruption by established political parties and a manipulation of bureaucratic processes to benefit the elite. The rise populism is a reaction to a perception that the electoral system isn’t reflecting the people, the system isn’t actually democratic in many people’s eyes. Let’s change that. Right now on Kickstarter you can back a project that’s trying to revive Canada’s electoral system by replacing first past the post (FPP) with a better system which represents all people. The broken FPP has already been replaced in some municipalities and that’s just the start.

But wait – there is hope! There actually HAS been successful experiments of voting reform in Canada, and the movement is GROWING. In 2018, London city council became the FIRST government in Canada to ditch first-past-the-post. Kingston and Cambridge Ontario also held successful referendums to reform their voting systems in time for the 2022 municipal elections.

YOU can make a difference. We’ve toppled three dominoes, but there are 444 municipalities in Ontario. Who’s next?

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Giving Money Directly to the Poor can Help Entire Communities

money

Aid to poorer nations isn’t always a direct transfer of wealth, it can be training or other social support. Indeed, it’s often argued that giving money directly can increase corruption and that the recipients don’t have the knowledge to know how to use money. This attitude of (some) charities is patronizing and is increasingly questioned by groups that argue people should receive donated money directly. This is exactly what some recent researchers did and discovered that entire communities benefit when money is given directly to those who need it most.

“That’s a really big income transfer,” notes Miguel. “About three-quarters of the income of the [recipient] households for a year on average.” It also represented a flood of cash into the wider communities where they lived. “The cash transfers were something like 17% of total local income — local GDP,” says Miguel.

Eighteen months on, the researchers found that, as expected, the families who got the money used it to buy lots more food and other essentials. 

But that was just the beginning.

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Lawsuit Launched Against Conservative Government for not Conserving

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In Canada, the Conservative party seems to hate actually conserving anything that isn’t their own party. In Ontario, the party has loosened laws around how much damage companies can do to nature, cut emission targets, heck they’ve basically got rid of any piece of policy that actually works (including road safety issues). One thing the Conservative party is actually good at (since good governance isn’t their strength) is getting sued. This week a bunch of kids have sued the government because of the removal of the carbon tax and other anti-environmental policies. The suit is backed by EcoJustice and has a good chance of making a difference to make the world better (unlike the Conservatives).

“I just want to live a normal life in the future; I shouldn’t have to be doing this, but adults aren’t doing a good job,” she told CBC News.

“I’m afraid that so many species that I love will go extinct,” added Zoe Keary-Matzner, 13, from Toronto. “And that children in the future won’t be able to enjoy nature the same way I do.”

The applicants, ranging from age 12 to 24, are represented by Stockwoods LLP and Ecojustice, a group that specializes in public interest lawsuits in the name of environmental protection.

Their challenge is part of a growing trend in which young people across the globe are suing governments over perceived inaction on climate change.

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