By John R. Platt
Let's be honest: This has been a truly exhausting year.
We started 2020 already worn thin by three years of the Trump administration, with its constant assaults on the environment and human decency on display almost every single day — and it got worse from there.
In February the coronavirus pandemic hit and took off like a wildfire, killing hundreds of thousands of people in this country and leaving millions underemployed or without jobs, healthcare, homes or beloved family and friends.
The virus would have been bad enough on its own, but the willful, outrageous failure of the Trump administration to address it, and the failure of many state and local elected officials as well, made it all much worse — and so much more exhausting.
But then, that failure shouldn't have come as a surprise. The denial of climate science from just about everyone on the far right — fueled by corporate influencers, Fox News, social-media platforms and their soul-draining ilk — had already showed us that science denial could rear its ugly head the next time we faced a crisis.
And it did, in spades.
Of course, COVID-19 wasn't the only thing to sap our strength this year. The pandemic came alongside seemingly countless racial injustices, angry protests, violence and intimidation by right-wing extremists, and the worst election season this country has ever seen — one characterized more than anything else by a bloviating, habitual liar seeking reelection.
His performance in the first presidential debate — like watching a rabid dog on stage — may be what pushed my own exhaustion past the breaking point. From then on the election kept going downhill, my doomscrolling went into hyperdrive, and our collective grief continued to swell while more and more people got sick and died.
And yet it kept getting worse. Spurred on by Trump's lies about the virus, people and communities "debated" whether they should or should not wear masks, stay home, stop partying, stop coming to the office — an endless fuel of "free-dumbness" driven once again by the increasingly righter-than-ever right-wing media and what passes for leadership in the Grand Old Party.
And through it all, the world experienced record temperatures, species went extinct, millions were displaced by the world's worst hurricane season and endless fires, and…and…and…
…and a record 81 million people stood up and voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. More voters turned out this year than any election in history, and many of us had to fight to get our votes and our voices recognized.
Maybe we weren't so exhausted, after all? Or maybe we tapped into some final reserve of strength, saved for just such an emergency.
So here's where we are now: Although the shockwaves of 2020 will be felt for a long time, and we're all obviously still exhausted, this devastating year is nearly over. Now's the time to heal, to rest, and to take all the energy we would normally have poured into the holidays and pour it into taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.
And while we're at it, stay safe and physically distant, wear masks, share scientifically accurate information, and help others to recover from the ravages of the pandemic so we can get back to the greater task of saving the planet.
And the Biden win — assuming it's not stolen at the last minute by Trump operatives and Republican legislators committed to a coup — sets us up for a lot of success.
"Biden has put forward a bold climate plan with ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions and support for both regulatory and market-driven policy measures," climate scientist Michael C. Mann tells me. "If Democrats take back the Senate, there is real opportunity for meaningful climate action by the U.S. — and not a moment too soon. A Biden win will stop the hemorrhaging, but there is a lot of work that will need to be done in repairing our reputation on the world stage."
Heck, there's still a lot of work and repairing to do in general — more than ever, in fact, since we're now four years behind where we should have been by this point.
But that work won't be possible without taking care of ourselves. That's why our team here at The Revelator is about to take a couple of weeks off to recuperate and recharge. We've published hundreds of articles and commentaries over the past year and we're going to do it again next year — but if we don't rest up now, we won't make it very far.
I sincerely hope you also get a chance to rest the final few weeks of the year. I know that kind of rest is a privilege not everyone has.
So do our best to reboot and meet back here the first week of January. We already have a lot of good stories in development for the New Year, and we're excited to share them with you.
Of course, before we get that far, we'll have one more source of exhaustion to contend with: the drawn-out, sore-loser end of the Trump era. Just as the post-election period was filled with Trump shenanigans, malarkey and the attempted reversal of the election, so will the very last weeks be a chance for the outgoing White House occupants and their enablers to tear every bite they can out of the government and the environment.
So keep an eye out for tomfoolery — we will, too.
Rest up, exhausted readers. The fight to save our planet and everything that lives here will keep up in 2021 — and far beyond.
John R. Platt is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His "Extinction Countdown" column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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