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Google Street View to Expand Mapping of Air Pollution
The program is a partnership with Aclima, a San Francisco company that maps air quality on a block-by-block scale.
The announcement comes a day after a report from the European Court of Auditors found that air pollution was the "biggest environmental risk to health in the European Union," causing about 400,000 premature deaths a year.
The Google and Aclima expansion builds on three years of research conducted in Los Angeles, San Francisco's Bay Area and California's Central Valley that produced one of the largest data sets on urban air pollution of its kind ever collected.
The Aclima sensors will measure carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particulate matter, according to Business Wire.
"As air pollution and climate emissions pose an urgent challenge to human and planetary health, partnering with Google to scale Aclima's environmental intelligence platform in Street View cars will activate awareness about local air quality in communities around the world where this information doesn't currently exist," Aclima CEO Davida Herzl said, as Business Wire reported.
The expansion will begin in Sydney, Mexico City and Houston, The Drive reported.
While the current expansion will not cover European cities, Google began another year-long partnership with London to map air pollution with two Street View cars and monitors built by UK company Air Monitors, TechCrunch reported in June.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has made tackling air pollution one of his major goals, and the program was designed to generate more local data about air pollution to help direct policy, TechCrunch reported.
The EU Court of Auditors report found that Air Quality plans in the EU had fallen short of expected results and thought improper monitoring might be part of the problem.
"In recent decades, EU policies have contributed to emission reductions, but air quality has not improved at the same rate and there are still considerable impacts on public health," court member Janusz Wojciechowski said.
The report also found that some EU air quality standards were below World Health Organization guidelines.
The biggest killers were nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone and particulate matter.
Herzl told Fast Company he hoped the Aclima monitors could help cities gather better data to create better policies.
"[Cities] need to understand where that pollution is and who it's affecting, and then really be able to take action based on that data to understand if what we're doing is having an impact," Herzl told Fast Company. "Right now, there is no infrastructure for that."
A peer-reviewed study based on tests of the Aclima sensors in Oakland found that air pollution levels could differ by a factor of eight from one end of a street to another, making city-wide air quality monitors comparatively unhelpful to those particularly sensitive to air pollution, according to Fast Company.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.