Another Thing That Climate Change Takes From Us: Our Beaches

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Poles without ice. Oceans without oxygenAreas of the planet without people.

These are just some of the effects of a rapidly warming planet.

Add to the list: coasts without beaches.

You might assume this will happen sometime in the distant future, when sea levels rise. But it’s already happening. Climate change is taking beaches away from humans — in a physical way, as rising seas erode them, and in the way humans interact with them, as several governments have closed beaches to visitors to limit further damage.

Just this week, the Thai government announced that it was closing one of its most famous beaches for four months out of the year. Its rationale? To allow nearby coral reefs to recover from the effect of millions of visitors, which range from pollution to physical destruction from boats and human hands. And as the ocean grows warmer, stressed coral ecosystems like these recover more slowly from these intrusions.

Several other Southeast Asian islands have done the same, closing off beaches to allow their marine inhabitants to recover with some peace and quiet.

Thailand's Maya Bay, a white sand beach with turquoise water ringed by mountains. This is one of many beaches being closed thanks to climate change.
Thailand’s Maya Bay. Ah it’s so beautiful. Too bad no one will get to go there. Image Credit: Mike Clegg / Wikimedia Commons

I know: this sucks. And that’s fair — many people think of beaches as a universal public right. But beaches are also bigger than you and your summer plans.

Organisms in, above, and next to the water dwell there, even if you don’t see (or eat) them. Without beaches, most of these animals would lose their homes, risking extinction.

If you live near the ocean, you can thank beaches for keeping your water drinkable and keeping your house where it is. Beaches and sand dune ecosystems are a vital barrier between the powerful seawater and shore-based ecosystems. They also stop salty ocean water from leaching into fresh groundwater.

Protective closures like the ones in Southeast Asia also mean tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, many in developing countries that rely on tourism to survive, as The Outline reports.

Southeast Asia may seem far away, but the problem is global, and happening faster than you might expect. Without human intervention, up to two thirds of beaches in Southern California will disappear from erosion within the next century, a 2017 U.S. Geologic Survey study found.

By 2100, sea levels may rise between 0.2 and 2 meters (0.66 to 6.6 feet), depending on how much the Earth warms. That could swallow the majority of beaches worldwide.

Banning beaches is disappointing for humans. But it might be worth giving up a chill place to sunbathe and sip out of coconuts to save an ecosystem.

The post Another Thing That Climate Change Takes From Us: Our Beaches appeared first on Futurism.

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Estonia To Offer Free Genetic Testing, And Other Nations May Follow

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For residents of Estonia, genomic tests may soon become as commonplace as blood pressure. The country has launched the first stage of a national state-sponsored genetic testing and information service, which will seek to help residents minimize their risk of illness based on their DNA. If the experiment goes well, it’s possible that other countries with nationalized healthcare systems will follow suit.

The initiative, which launched on March 20, will start by providing 100,000 of its 1.3 million residents with information on their genetic risk for certain diseases. Genetic information from the project will first be delivered to a family doctor, so that patients will receive counseling about what their results actually mean and how they can better adapt their lifestyle to avoid illness. According to a press release from the University of Tartu’s Institute of Genomics, which is hosting the new service, the country plans to eventually offer free genetic testing to all of its residents.

Estonia isn’t the only nation to offer free or low-cost genetic testing to most of its residents — the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom also offers them, but often only to help doctors diagnose diseases, not to help patients prevent them (and patients in the NHS still have to pay a lab processing fee).

It’s not surprising that Estonia is among the first to adopt modern trends; the small nation seems to always be on the cutting edge. The country has had a biobank program since the year 2000, established with the goals of accelerating research and making healthcare more personalized. It was the first nation to ever hold elections via the Internet, the first to offer “e-residency” for anyone in the world, and among the first to propose a national cryptocurrency. Adding genetics to its state-sponsored healthcare program, it could just offer a model for a better way to use genetics for good health.

In many places, getting genetic information alongside health advice is much more difficult. In the United States, genetic testing is usually available through primary care physicians, but according to the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH), insurance companies don’t have good systems in place to evaluate whether genetic tests will be covered. That means that patients may not know whether or not they can afford genetic testing until they actually get it, even if it’s recommended by their doctors.

Instead, patients might turn to the cheaper, and arguably easier, method of at-home genetic testing — no driving to an appointment, no standing on a scale; you just spit in a cup, mail it off, and get results, all for a flat fee. Yet these tests don’t include the expertise of a genetic counselor, who can help a person understand how particular mutations can affect their risk of developing a disease. There are also concerns that companies like 23andMe are using genetic data for research in ways that consumers don’t understand, and even concerns that some home-testing kits could yield results that are false or misleading.

Compare that to the Estonian system. Though some experts have cautioned that free genetic advice could cause unnecessary alarm, having results delivered through a doctor leaves patients much less prone to misinformation and unnecessary freak-outs than if they tried to interpret those results themselves.

Additionally, thanks to the 1999 Estonian Human Genes Research Act, all genetic data belongs to the donor that submitted it; Estonians can choose what studies to participate in, and will soon be able to check an easy-to-use online portal to see which research studies have actually used their data.

Genetic testing is more popular than ever, and it makes sense that people want to decode their DNA to make their lives better, not just to learn about their lineage. Other countries, from Iceland to the United Arab Emirates, have plans to sequence the DNA of large segments of the population with the goal of making citizens’ lives better. These plans likely won’t be perfect at first. But other nations looking to implement their own systems might build off those, and citizens will be the ones to benefit.

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Tesla Model X in Autopilot Killed a Driver. Officials Aren’t Pleased With How Tesla Handled It.

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Updated 3PM ET

Tesla is taking PR very seriously after one of its vehicles in autonomous mode killed a passenger recently.

The crash occurred at 9:27 AM on Highway 101 near Mountain View, California. Walter Huang was in the driver’s seat of the Model X, which was in autonomous mode. The car hit a concrete highway divider, marked with black and yellow chevrons, at full force. Huang didn’t take any action. The SUV crumpled like a tin can, and Huang didn’t make it.

Other information has been hard to come by, due to the severity of the damage. So far we don’t know if his death was a result of negligence, a fatal nap, or simply being distracted by the fireworks of warning lights, and sounds. But one thing is clear: the crash proves that audio and visual cues on the dashboard could after all be insufficient to prevent a crash.

Huang wasn’t the first to die in a Tesla with Autopilot active. In 2016, Joshua Brown crashed his Model S into a truck, marking fatal collision while Autopilot was engaged.

The timing for this particular crash isn’t exactly ideal (from Tesla’s perspective). Uber is already doing damage control after its self-driving car killed a pedestrian in Arizona on March 19, four days before Huang’s fatal collision.

Interestingly, officials aren’t too pleased about Tesla’s PR offensive. On Sunday, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told the Washington Post:

At this time the NTSB needs the assistance of Tesla to decode the data the vehicle recorded. In each of our investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data. However, the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla.

Presumably, investigators aren’t happy because they’d like to get as much information as they can, then release a report.

But Tesla might have jumped the gun. Not complying with the NTSB’s investigation processes and deadlines might end up having their technological advancements (and security improvements) screech to a halt.

After the Uber car’s crash, the company was banned from further testing in Arizona (though other companies were allowed to continue). Many people feared that the crash would fray the public’s trust in autonomous vehicles, and that largely has not come to pass, at least not yet.

But if the crashes continue, that could change. The market for autonomous cars could dry up before the technology becomes reliable enough to make them widespread.

Tesla’s Autopilot is Level 2 autonomy, while Uber’s self-driving car is a Level 4. So the technology isn’t even really the same. Still, a turn in the tide of public opinion could sweep both up with it.

Autonomous vehicles aren’t the best at sharing the unpredictable road with imprecise humans. Yes, once fully autonomous vehicles roll out all over the country and make up 100 percent of the vehicles on the road, American roads will inevitably become safer.

But we’re not there yet. If crashes like these keep happening, and the public loses trust, we might never be.

Update: Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to respond to comments from NTSB and reiterate Tesla’s priorities:

The post Tesla Model X in Autopilot Killed a Driver. Officials Aren’t Pleased With How Tesla Handled It. appeared first on Futurism.

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With the Most Reused Parts Ever, SpaceX’s Mission Successfully Sent Its Cargo to the ISS

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Unlike the hit song played nonstop on the radio or your mother questioning you about when you’re going to give her grandchildren, rocket launches are one thing that never gets old. That’s lucky, because SpaceX has done two in the span of just four days. Today, the company again launched its Falcon 9 rocket, this time with 2,630 kilograms (5800 pounds) of deliveries to the International Space Station, from the base in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The theme for this launch: reusable. One of the Falcon boosters first flew on the CRS-12 mission in August 2017. And this particular Dragon module flew in April 2016, on the CRS-8 mission. It’s the first time two reused (or, as SpaceX calls it, “flight-proven”) components have been combined in a single mission.

This marks SpaceX’s 14th successful flight for Dragon, and 15th flight overall (CRS-7, in 2015, failed before reaching orbit). It’s the end of the line for this particular first stage — SpaceX did not attempt to recover it, though the engineers did gather information about it to improve future missions.

Today’s launch was perfectly choreographed, no surprises. It’s a testament to how efficiently SpaceX now operates with missions like these. They’ve really got it down to a science. Things can still happen, of course, but nothing abnormal did today.

Screencap of the livestream of April 2, 2018 SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. Image Credit: Alexandra Ossola

The Dragon is en route to deliver food, gear, and other supplies to the ISS, according to Space.com. It also contains materials for 50 science experiments conducted there, one fifth of the total experiments on board (more info about research on board the ISS can be found here). According to the Kennedy Space Center website and Space.com, those include:

  • An Earth observatory that will study thunderstorms and how they affect Earth’s atmosphere and climate. 
  • An investigation about how to best make products from metal powders in low gravity in order to improve manufacturing techniques. 
  • Experiments on how to best give plants the proper nutrients as part of continued studies to grow food in space.
  • Studies that analyze how fruit flies and wasps interact in microgravity
  • A study that assesses how space affects bone marrow, blood production, and wound healing

It’s not necessarily as exciting as, say, launching a cherry red sports car into the ether. But it’s still pretty dope.

If everything continues to go according to plan, the Dragon will get within docking range of the ISS around 7 AM ET on Wednesday, April 4, at which point “ISS crew members will use the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6- meter) robotic arm to reach out and capture the Dragon spacecraft and attach it to the orbiting laboratory,” notes a SpaceX press release. And you thought those claw machine games were stressful.

Dragon will be back again. After a month-long stint at the ISS, it’s slated to return to Earth, where, if its descent goes well, it will plop right into the Pacific near Baja California.

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A Journal Retracted A Controversial Paper About CRISPR. The Damage Might Already Be Done.

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A scientific journal just retracted a controversial study that claimed the gene editing tool CRISPR causes a number of unintended mutations, but it may be too late to undo the damage the paper caused.

Let’s walk it back a second. In May 2017, well-respected journal Nature Methods published a peer-reviewed study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The study claimed that the gene-editing technology CRISPR caused more than a thousand unintended genetic mutations in mice  way more than any other study noted.

If that were true, it would mean that CRISPR’s potential to treat conditions in humans, from congenital blindness to cancer, would have disappeared. And the millions poured into researching CRISPR would have been wasted.

The reaction was swift and brutal for those who still had faith that CRISPR could fulfill its promise. The stocks of the three biggest gene-editing companies — CRISPR Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, and Intellia Therapeutics — all took major hits.

Except the study wasn’t actually all that legitimate.

Shortly after Nature Methods published the paper, other CRISPR researchers began pointing out its flaws, calling upon the journal to retract the study. Nature Methods responded with an Editorial Note on June 14 highlighting these criticisms. Then, on July 25, it published an Editorial Expression of Concern saying it was investigating the authors’ interpretation that gene editing causes mutations.

Now, more than 10 months later, the publication has officially retracted the paper. On March 30, Nature Methods published an editorial noting the retraction and the primary reason behind it: “There was insufficient data to support the claim of unexpected off-target effects due to CRISPR.” There could be a few different reasons for that, as one researcher previously noted on Twitter:

 

The experts that had opposed the paper’s original findings were vindicated; the journal also published five expert critiques of the study.

So the misinformation was corrected (though, strangely, several of the study’s original authors did not agree to the retraction, as the notice points out). The system of scientific publishing still works, and errors were rapidly remedied.

All good, right? No harm done?

Perhaps not. There are some bells you just can’t un-ring, especially when questionable studies confirm people’s fears about a particular advance. The purported link between vaccines and autism persists, no matter that the paper that started it all was retracted, and no matter how many times researchers debunk it.

Gene editing in humans was already controversial before the Nature Methods study. Skeptics warned of a future filled with “designer babies” and increased income inequality. And that was all assuming that the technology actually worked. If they were looking for “proof” that CRISPR was dangerous, they now had a scientific study to bolster their claim.

Even with the retraction, that “proof” that gene editing causes mutations is already out in the ether. It’ll stick in some people minds, no doubt.

Some scientists, including Harvard geneticist George Church, weren’t worried about the dip in stock prices. “This seems like a great example of rapidly self-correcting science… I was never worried.  Some investors look for opportunities to sell high then buy back low and then watch the rebound — based more on herd psychology than lab science,” Church told publishing watchdog Retraction Watch

But scientists don’t just need to agree that CRISPR is safe and effective in humans. They also have to convince the public that it is, and that’s much harder to do when respected journals present flawed conclusions about gene editing as fact.

The post A Journal Retracted A Controversial Paper About CRISPR. The Damage Might Already Be Done. appeared first on Futurism.

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Exclusive: The Truth Behind the Bitcoin “Cult” Trying to Buy a Church in Brooklyn

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Word has it that a cryptocurrency “cult” is trying to buy a church in Brooklyn. Here’s what we know.

Last week, these fliers started popping up around Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

The Facebook page for the protest, run by a Judy Gunderson, linked to an actual Facebook page:

And the “cult” that Ms. Gunderson was linking to was, yes, The First Church of Crypto:

People on Twitter, of course, went nuts (look for yourself).

There was a (very excited) Reddit thread on it:

And some people started a Telegram group to talk about it:

Yes, there was even an Overheard In New York post about it:

Before this goes any further, and any reporters sink their teeth into it, let’s take a glimpse at the source code of the First Church of Crypto site:

 

Yeah. April Fool’s, dummies. That was us.

With good reason.

But before we get there! A brief making-of:

  1. Yes, we actually hung flyers last week around Williamsburg.
  2. We spun up the “Church” site. Which, true story, at one point included a rewritten version of the Serenity Prayer (“Satoshi, grant me the wisdom…“).
  3. We took out a bunch of targeted Facebook ads.
  4. The entire thing took a few hours.
  5. And over the weekend, a bunch of people not only bought the idea hook, line, and sinker, but to our surprise, propagated it and actually wanted it to happen.

Let’s linger on that last point for a moment:

A bunch of crypto bulls thought it’d be a good idea to spin up a church in praise of cryptocurrency to replace a real church in Brooklyn.

Out of the hundreds of people who bought this reality sight-unseen, there was just one, dumb, random Pepe on Twitter who had our number. That’s it.

And that, right there, might explain much of the cultural problem around cryptocurrency:

The fervor around crypto, perpetrated by its loudest, most absurd, unilateral boosters is comically, blindingly obtuse to its own dumbassery.

The ideas behind decentralized currencies and blockchain are fascinating, and hold tremendous amounts of potential, blah blah whatever. Look: If you’re reading this, you already know how important and great blockchain could be. And if you’re a cogent, thinking, sentient human being who hasn’t caught the crypto vapors past the point of common sense, you also know it could be even greater if the, uh, culture and literacy around it weren’t such an absolute, utter shitshow (to say nothing of the bad actors, charlatans, and snake-oil slingers exploiting this uncharted territory).

It’s really too bad that there’s not a single must-read publication for breaking news, gossip, commentary, and analysis about cryptocurrency and its culture — its highs and lows, the most brilliant iterations and the most idiotic pratfalls, the big-time titans, the low-grade conmen, the shitcoins, the Lambos, the fortunes, the face-falls — that isn’t just a mash note, or a dumping ground for press releases, or yet another site for hot takes and explainers where someone tries to craft a shitty blockchain metaphor around a deck of cards for the umpteenth time. A site where no token is sacred, no moon hangs too high, and no bag is too rekt.

Which is why we’re launching one. Hodl on to your bags, coins, and asses:

Blocknik, a new site about cryptocurrency from Futurism Media, is coming. Summer 2018.

Sign up here to be first in the door.

*Oh, and if you know anyone: We’re putting a premium on talent, and looking for funny, sharp, brilliant writers who can rise above the current Rainman-esque standard of dialogue about crypto, and who would like to do it for what’s gonna be the most fun, hysterical gig in the space. It’ll also pay well, and in fiat currencies. If you’re interested — or know anyone who is — give us a shout.

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The Chinese Space Station Has Crashed in the Pacific. Why Was It So Hard to Track?

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If a massive space station falls out of the atmosphere into the Pacific Ocean, with no one there to witness it, does it make a sound?

That’s no hypothetical question. We’re asking about Tiangong-1, the Chinese space station that finally “de-orbited” from space and into the Pacific around 8 PM Eastern time on April 1.

Let’s be honest — “de-orbited” is a polite way of saying “free-fall.” Scientists could neither alter nor even really track Tiangong-1’s descent. That could be a problem in a future — an atmosphere more packed with spacecraft presents a (slightly) higher risk for humans on the ground.

We’ve anticipated Tiangong-1’s homecoming since 2016, when abnormalities in the space station’s orbit suggested that the Chinese space agency had lost control of it. It took a few months for authorities to admit that the craft was out of their reach. Normally, a space agency will retire a satellite by purposely guiding it into the atmosphere, at an angle and speed such that it burns up completely or re-enters Earth’s atmosphere far from human populations.

That makes Tiangong-1’s spinning, erratic descent less than ideal.

Scientists weren’t exactly sure when and where the craft would land until the moment it did so. Indeed, the space station’s case highlights the fact that scientists still don’t have the capacity to wrangle the significant number of variables that factor into tracking and modeling such situations.

Around noon Eastern time on April 1, seven hours before the craft actually fell, the European Space Agency (ESA) had reached the limit of what it could forecast. And there still a pretty big window for when and where the station would re-enter.

“With our current understanding of the dynamics of the upper atmosphere and Europe’s limited sensors, we are not able to make very precise predictions,” said Holger Krag, head of ESA’s Space Debris Office, in an agency blog about Tiangong-1.

Note: we do not want to overstate the odds of being hit by falling spacecraft. Space junk falls out of the atmosphere all the time, and only one person has ever been hit by it. For the Tiangong-1, the odds that the falling space station would have hit any single human on Earth were still 1 in 1 trillion, lower than your yearly odds of being struck by lightning.

But that may change in the coming years. The growing space industry has promised to put a number of new spacecraft into orbit around Earth in the next decade, including thousands of new satellites. As we increase the number of objects in space, the overall probability of something falling out of the sky into a populated area will increase. At the moment, nobody has a way to zap space junk (or incoming meteors, for that matter) that might pose a threat, and it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll get one anytime soon.

Instead, as ESA’s Krag implies, research could help a lot. If we could better understand how the upper atmosphere behaves, we could better model where a falling object would land, and potentially warn people in the area if needed.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely. The sort of basic research that would improve scientists’ understanding of the atmosphere is chronically under-funded, and in the U.S., happens in agencies to which the White House doesn’t allocate many resources.

Basic research into the upper atmosphere isn’t nearly as sexy as as falling space junk, but it could one day save a lot of people some logistical — and potentially physical — headaches.

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Hold Up: What Actually Happened in Sierra Leone’s “Blockchain” Election?

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On March 7, Sierra Leone held the first presidential election using blockchain, the distributed ledger technology poised to transform our world.

At least, that’s what we were told.

That’s according to Agora, the Swiss-based blockchain startup that claimed to have facilitated the blockchain-based election.

“Sierra Leone’s 2018 presidential elections, which took place on March 7th, represents the first time in history that blockchain technology has been used in a national government election,” wrote Agora in a press release distributed on March 8. Media outlets — including TechCrunch, Quartz, and yes, Futurism  covered it accordingly.

But Sierra Leone’s election officials say that’s not what happened. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) is the “sole authority” on Sierra Leone’s public elections, and the group has gone out of its way to make it clear that it did not use blockchain in the March 7 election.

First, the NEC shared a quote from Chief Electoral Commissioner/Chairperson Mohamed Conteh via Twitter on March 18:

If that wasn’t enough, the NEC then posted this “Fast Fact” the next day:

So, what exactly happened here?

Agora obtained permission from the NEC to act as “an international observer” at 280 of roughly 11,200 polling stations. Sierra Leone election officials recorded the paper votes as they would in any other election. Then, Agora’s team recorded those same votes on its blockchain. Later, it published those results on its website.

Essentially, Agora’s involvement with the Sierra Leone election was a proof-of-concept experiment. Like: “See? We can record an election and get the same result as government officials.”

On March 20, Agora published its own official statement on Medium attempting to clear up the situation.

In it, the company first laid out the facts of its involvement with the election. Then, Agora addressed where the controversy seems to have begun: a Medium post published on March 16, two days before the NEC’s first tweeted that blockchain wasn’t involved in the country’s elections.

As Agora notes, the author of that post, Tamba Lamin, is the CTO of LAM-TECH, a tech consulting company that sponsors the Sierra Leone Open Election Data Platform (SLOEDP), a software platform designed for the collection and sharing of data about Sierra Leone elections (and apparently an Agora competitor).

In its official statement, Agora says, “Most of the media pushback we have received over the past week stems from…[SLOEDP].” The company even not-so-subtly suggests why that might be:

While we are unclear about the motivations of SLOEDP, their stated description as “an open source platform to facilitate free, fair, safe, secure and transparent elections” is directly competing or overlapping in nature with Agora’s technology. Furthermore, slides from a LAM-TECH public presentation on the electiondata.io website show clear conflicts of interest between our two organizations.

So, was this “controversy” surrounding Agora’s role in the Sierra Leone election simply one election-recording company looking for a chance to paint a competitor as a liar? Or was Agora overtly trying to make it seem like they were more involved than they were?

It might be a bit of both.

While most of Agora’s wording post-election leaves room for interpretation, a couple of lines sure make it seem like the company played some sort of official role beyond that of “observer”:

  • “The National Electoral Commission’s decision to work with Agora…” [March 8 press release]
  • “Sierra Leone is the first government to use blockchain in part of its election process…” [March 8 press release]
  • “[Agora is] engaged in Sierra Leone presidential elections…” [message from CEO Leonardo Gammar to Agora’s Telegram group on March 8]

Agora is now taking at least some responsibility for the misleading media coverage surrounded the Sierra Leone election. CEO Leonardo Gammar told Cointelegraph on March 29:

There was some miscommunication on our behalf, and I think we learned a lot because of it. We made a few mistakes when speaking to journalists, and when we sought to clear it up, it was all too late. We got very excited about the technology and the way in which it could help people  like a lot of companies do in the blockchain space — and I think we came on too strong for the NEC.

Gammar also said the company has hired someone to help them with its “PR game,” so that they present all future projects accurately.

If there’s one thing the blockchain space doesn’t need, it’s unwarranted hype overshadowing the technology’s true potential.

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Pruitt’s EPA Will Give Automakers What They Want: Fewer Emissions Rules

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Thanks (for trying), Obama.

The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) is moving forward with plans to roll back the former president’s emissions standards for automobiles.

Back in 2010, the Obama administration altered the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, requiring automakers to meet a minimum fuel standard of 54.5 miles per gallon for vehicles by 2025.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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According to the E.P.A.’s own projections, passenger vehicles in model years 2012 through 2025 that meet these emissions standards would decrease the country’s oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, and its greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the vehicles’ lifetimes.

But with a new administration in charge, it’s likely those goals won’t be met.

This week, an E.P.A. spokesperson confirmed that the agency’s head, Scott Pruitt, has sent the White House a draft of a 16-page plan to revisit those standards. Two sources familiar with the matter told The New York Times the plan could “substantially roll back the Obama-era standards.”

“The proposed rollback is going to be quite a significant number,” Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Times. “It will be more than a couple [miles per gallon].”

Automakers have been eager to lower the CAFE standards, which they deem expensive and difficult to attain. And the president and his administration have seemed just as eager to acquiesce. “My administration will work tirelessly to eliminate the industry-killing regulations,” Trump told autoworkers during a speech in March 2017.

Now that Pruitt has delivered a plan, Trump’s one step closer to keeping that promise, and it has environmental experts concerned.

“This is certainly a big deal,” Robert Stavins, director of Harvard’s environmental economics program, told The Times. “The result will be more gas-guzzling vehicles on the road, greater total gasoline consumption, and a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions.”

We should know the specifics of Pruitt’s plan for revising emissions standards later this year, according to The Times’s sources.

Whether the administration simply rolls back standards to those in place prior to the Obama administration or goes even further is unknown. Either way, our environment will surely suffer.

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