These robots work together to achieve a common goal


Boston Dynamics put the power of collaborative problem solving on display in a new video today. The 45 second video shows two SpotMini robots working together to achieve a common goal: opening an office door. SpotMini is an 11 kilogram (25 pound) four-legged robot capable of picking up and handling objects using its 5 degree-of-freedom arm and perception sensors. In the video, the first SpotMini approaches the door and appears to scan it before calling in reinforcements. As the second robot comes into view, the first retreats and watches as his “armed” counterpart moves into position, scans the door, and…

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For Coastal Communities, the 1.5C Climate Goal Is a Matter of Life or Death

A Clear Need

Coastal communities all over the world are already facing the double whammy of sea level rise and extreme weather events that in some cases are threatening the very existence of entire island states. Now a new study adds weight to the argument that for the sake of these communities we need to ramp up efforts and achieve what many think almost impossible, keeping global warming below 1.5° C (2.7° F).

A team from Tufts University, Rutgers University, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany found that if countries managed to stabilize global temperatures within this threshold by 2150, the impact of sea level rise would be significantly reduced. The global average sea level would be about 17.7 centimeters (7 inches) less than under a 2° C scenario (3.6° F), which is conventionally considered more achievable. The paper is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters and will be included in the landmark special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the 1.5° C goal, which will collate the available literature on the topic.

The Paris Agreement controversy

With ratification from over 170 countries, the historic Paris Climate Agreement has been in force since November 2016. Its goals are quite clear: to keep global temperature rise to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5.”

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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“Some people might argue there will be no sizable difference between the two targets, so we should aim for the higher one, because it’s easier,” lead author Klaus Bittermann, a postdoctoral student in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Tufts, said in a United Nations report.

“Those differences turn out to be significant,” Bittermann added. “For example, salt marshes and mangroves can be drowned if the local rate of relative sea-level rise exceeds their ecological ability” for adaptation.

Reaching the Goal

Limiting global average temperatures to well below 2° C — or, even better, to 1.5° C — requires a tremendous amount of effort on the part of the nations that signed the Paris deal. These include various programs that cut down on fossil fuel consumption in favor of renewable energy sources, as well as plans that favor more environmentally efficient means of transportation.

Already, a number of countries have put sweeping programs to this effect. Yet, some worry that reaching the Paris agreement’s goals would be impossible, with one study arguing that the probability is only 5 percent. In a comment piece published in Nature Geoscience, Kevin Anderson, chair of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester in the U.K., says that the 2° C goal is only achievable through mass deployment of negative emission technologies such as carbon capture and storage. These technologies are still in their infancy and nowhere near ready to be rolled out at scale.

Still, others remain hopeful, especially since global emissions have stabilized in the past three years and because carbon emissions have now “decoupled” from economic growth in some countries. That means that lowering carbon emissions no longer affects a country’s prosperity. It’s doable, but it won’t be easy.

Nevertheless, the survival of coastal communities depends on not only reaching but overshooting the Paris deal’s goals.

“To those who want to know what the difference from a global sea level point of view is if you lower the temperature by just another 0.5° C, I think that our paper provides a very clear answer, and I think it is a difference that is worth fighting for,” Bittermann said.

The post For Coastal Communities, the 1.5C Climate Goal Is a Matter of Life or Death appeared first on Futurism.

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Lisa Jackson doubles-down on 100% recycled material use goal, lauds Apple’s environmental efforts

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Apple’s Senior Vice President for Vice President Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson granted an interview to an Australian publication, and continued to drive home Apple’s goal towards using 100 percent recycled materials across all of its products, Apple’s "right to repair" philosophy, and Apple’s point of view on the taxes it pays.
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California May Reach Its Renewable Energy Goal 10 Years Early

Embracing Renewable Energy

In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would see the state committing to renewable energy. The law gave California until 2030 to ensure 50 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources like the Sun and wind. At the time, Brown made it clear that fossil fuels are taking humanity down a dangerous path, despite their impact on getting us this far.

“We’ve got to realize that we are here today because of oil — oil and gas, [and] to a lesser extent, coal,” SFGate reported Brown saying. “What has been the source of our prosperity has become the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get off of it.”

Now, only two years later, California is seemingly ahead of its own schedule. A recently released annual report from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reveals the state is on track to meet its goal by 2020 — a full 10 years before the established deadline.

California Exceeds Expectations

According to the Renewables Portfolio Standard report, California’s three biggest utility providers — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) — all surpassed the 25 percent requirement for 2016. Renewables accounted for 32.9 percent of PG&E’s electricity; SCE reached 28.2 percent, while SDG&E reached 43.2 percent. Going forward, all three companies predict “they will meet or exceed their 2020 RPS compliance period requirements.”

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, California has been pushing renewable energy since 2002, with both Governor Brown and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger steadily raising the requirements over the years. Since 2008, California’s emissions have been on a decline, and it’s only expected to continue. It helps that the prices of both solar and wind contracts have dropped considerably, making it cheaper for companies to invest in renewables.

“The RPS program has helped achieve large reductions in cost for renewable electricity: between 2008 and 2016, the price of utility scale solar contracts reported to the CPUC have gone down 77%, and between 2007 and 2015 reported prices of wind contracts have gone down 47%.” In 2008, solar contracts were $ 135.90, but as of 2016 they’re priced at $ 29.17; in 2007, wind contracts were $ 97.11, but were as low as $ 50.99 as of 2015.

California’s efforts are beginning to pay off in big ways, and the state continues to show its commitment to reducing its impact on climate change and global warming. It wants to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, and is considering a ban on non-electric vehicles. At the rate its progressing, California is due to get everything it wants.

The post California May Reach Its Renewable Energy Goal 10 Years Early appeared first on Futurism.

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How to Reinvent Goal Setting and Grow Your Company


In 1993 PC maker IBM posted the then-biggest loss in America’s history, $ 8 billion. By 2013 they became the no. 1 seller of enterprise server solutions in the world. Nintendo Koppai was founded in 1889 as a playing card company, in 1985, when NES console was released, it launched the best-selling video game franchise of the next three decades. In the 1990s National Geographic started losing readers fast as young people dismissed it. Then its CEO, John Fahey, spearheaded an effort to reinvent the National Geographic brand across all media platforms and launched the National Geographic Channel in 2001. All those success stories are about…

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