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Trump Wants to Cut Subsidies for Electric Cars, Renewables
Government subsidies for electric vehicles and solar panels are an important tool to help accelerate a clean energy economy. However, a top White House economic advisor said on Monday that the Trump administration is looking to end such federal incentives, Reuters reported.
Sweeteners for purchasing EVs and other Obama-era items could be eliminated in as little as two years, according to Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House National Economic Council.
"As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies," Kudlow said, as quoted by Reuters. "And by the way, other subsidies that were imposed during the Obama administration, we are ending, whether it's for renewables and so forth."
Kudlow blamed General Motors' recent plant closures and layoffs as the catalyst behind the decision. His comments echoed President Donald Trump's tweet last week that threatened to cut all subsidies for GM, including ones for electric vehicles, in order to punish the automaker.
When asked for a timeline, Kudlow added: "It's just all going to end in the near future. I don't know whether it will end in 2020 or 2021."
The federal government currently offers $7,500 in tax credits for purchases of new electric vehicles under a 2009 federal law. Congress caps the tax credits at 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer. After hitting that mark, the credit phases out.
The only U.S. carmaker to hit this threshold is Elon Musk's Tesla, although GM is said to be close to losing this credit. This means the timeline suggested by Kudlow wouldn't really hurt GM since their tax credits could soon phase out anyway, as Electrek pointed out. However, it would punish other EV-makers and its customers if the proposal comes to fruition.
Kudlow did not provide exact details on how the White House would eliminate the tax credits, as it would require an act of Congress. It's also unlikely to happen after Democrats—many of whom are pushing for additional clean energy incentives—take control of the House in January.
However, federal subsidies for the renewable energy sector have declined significantly from about $15.5 billion in 2013 to $6.7 billion in 2016, according an April analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.
By Kerstin Palme
Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.