TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 11

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Special collaborative courts focus on rehabilitating troubled veterans. They’re working.

By Spencer Michels at PBS Newshour

2. PayPal runs a dead-simple microlending program that helps small businesses grow.

By Michelle Goodman in Entrepreneur

3. To make voters care, a radio station in L.A. picked a prototype non-voter and built their election coverage around him.

By Melody Kramer at Poynter.org

4. Can the mining industry become a responsible, reliable partner for local communities and the environment?

By Andrea Mustain in Kellogg Insight

5. Robert Mugabe is 91 years old. The world should prepare for a succession crisis in Zimbabwe.

By Helia Ighani at the Council on Foreign Relations

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Italy

A Village in Italy Just Got 8 Feet of Snow in 1 Day

Elisabetta Carugno (@elisabetta_carugno) via Instagram Instagram user Elisabetta Carugno posted this photo with the caption, "I'm too much small for this too much snow!! #snow #winter #weatherchannel #WinterGoHome #capracotta #molise #neve #me"

And you thought Boston was bad

The front doors in the village of Capracotta, Italy, are snow-where to be found.

In just 18 hours on Thursday, the village received 100.8 inches (8′ 4″) of snow,CNN reports, likely setting the all-time mark for most snow in 24 hours (though it’s not official yet).

That’s more snow than Boston got in January and February combined, but just short of the 107.9 inches that have inundated Beantown so far this year.

Capracotta is a town of 1,000 residents sitting at an altitude of 4,662 feet. The city is in the mountains a three-hour drive east of Rome and roughly halfway down the Italian Peninsula, and vulnerable to weather coming from the northeast.

The World Meteorological Organization will confirm whether the snowfall at Capracotte exceeded the 24-hour record of 75.8 inches in Silver Lake, Colorado, in 1921.

[CNN]

TIME natural disaster

The Odds of a Massive Earthquake Hitting California Just Went Up

The Marina district disaster zone after an earthquake, measuring 7.1 on the richter scale on Oct. 17, 1989 in San Francisco.
Otto Greule Jr—Getty Images The Marina district disaster zone after an earthquake, measuring 7.1 on the richter scale on Oct. 17, 1989 in San Francisco.

But the chances of a moderate earthquake went down

The chances of earthquake magnitude 8.0 or greater hitting California in the next 30 years have been increased from about 4.7% to 7%, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said in a statement Tuesday.

The revised forecast was calculated by the Third California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3), a follow-up to 2008’s UCERF2 conducted by USGS and its partners, who modeled the latest geological data.

While UCERF3 increased the odds of a massive California earthquake, the study lowered the chance of an earthquake around magnitude 6.7—like the 1994 Northridge earthquake—by about 30%, from one every 4.8 years to one every 6.3 years.

“The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously,” said the study’s lead author Ned Field.

Read next: A Village in Italy Just Got 8 Feet of Snow in 1 Day

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. How do we convince Americans that justice isn’t for sale — when in 39 states, it is?

By Sue Bell Cobb in Politico

2. It took pressure from customers and investors to make corporations environmentally sustainable. It’s time to do the same for gender equity.

By Marissa Wesely in Stanford Social Innovation Review

3. London’s congestion pricing plan is saving lives.

By Alex Davies in Wired

4. Libraries should be the next great start-up incubators.

By Emily Badger in CityLab

5. Annual replanting has a devastating impact. Could perennial rice be the solution?

By Winifred Bird in Yale Environment 360

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME climate change

Florida Reportedly Bans Environment Officials From Mentioning Climate Change

Climate Change Impacts South Florida Ecosystems
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Phillip Hughes, an ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, walks through an area of buttonwood trees killed by a saltwater incursion in Big Pine Key, Florida. Hughes says over the past 50 years, as sea levels rise, the Florida Keys upland vegetation has been dying off and replaced by salt-tolerant vegetation

An investigative report claims that global warming and sustainability are also prohibited terms

Underscoring the divisiveness of climate change in American politics, government officials at Florida’s main environment agency have reportedly been asked to refrain from mentioning it.

Officials from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were given an unwritten order not to use the words climate change or global warming in any official communication or reports, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) claimed on Sunday.

“We were told not to use the terms climate change, global warming or sustainability,” Christopher Byrd, an attorney in DEP’s Office of General Counsel from 2008 to 2013, told FCIR in an interview. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Other former DEP employees claimed to FCIR that the unwritten rule was implemented after Rick Scott, who has repeatedly denied climate change is the result of human activity, became governor of Florida in 2011.

The DEP denies that it has a policy on the matter.

Read more at the FCIR.

TIME Environment

The First Solar-Powered Round-the-World Flight Has Begun

Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, takes flight as it begins its historic round-the-world journey from Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015.
Jean Revillard—Getty Images Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, takes flight as it begins its historic round-the-world journey from Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015.

The two pilots aim to circumnavigate the globe without using any conventional fuel

The world’s first round-the-world trip on a solar-powered plane got under way Monday with the initial leg from Abu Dhabi to the Omani capital, Muscat.

Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will pursue a record-shattering five-month journey, spanning 21,750 miles across several continents and two oceans, while using zero conventional fuel.

The Solar Impulse-2’s lightweight construction — weighing a mere 4,600 lb. — combined with its 236-ft. wingspan lined with 17,000 solar cells, makes it the first solar-powered aircraft capable of flying during both day and night.

“I am confident we have a very special airplane, and it will have to be to get us across the big oceans,” Borschberg told the BBC.

The pilots have undergone rigorous preparation drills, and will forgo all sleep longer than 20 minutes while airborne, practicing yoga and self-hypnosis to cope with their airborne ordeal. (Some stints will involve flying continuously for five days.) Rest stops will be spent advocating for their clean-technology campaign.

“I had this dream 16 years ago of flying around the world without fuel, just on solar power,” said Piccard. “Now we’re about to do it.”

[BBC]

TIME Military

Climate Security Pits U.S. Military Against Congress

naval-station-norfolk-virginia
Getty Images

The results of a new study underscore the security threats that climate change can exacerbate

A new study concludes that climate change played a role in sparking the civil war in Syria, adding to the body of research showing a climate link to the unrest in the Middle East.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on March 2, finds that a multi-year drought between 2007 and 2010 led to “widespread crop failure,” forcing rural communities to migrate to urban centers en masse. As a result, Syrian cities became a tinderbox, and the subsequent political instability ignited into violence in 2011 at the onset of the Arab Spring. The Syrian civil war has raged since then.

Syria suffered through the worst drought on record leading up to the outbreak of violence, a drought that was made twice as likely because of climate change, the study says. Rising temperatures and increasingly dry weather will also make such conditions worse and more likely in the future.

The results of this study underscore the security threats that climate change can exacerbate. But climate denying politicians – who often position themselves as the biggest supporters of the military and guardians of America’s national security – are willfully ignoring these threats.

Read more: Can We Fix Climate Change With Technology?

“Democrats tell us they understand the world, but then they call climate change, not radical Islamic terrorism, the greatest threat to national security,” Republican Chairman Reince Priebus told a friendly audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Look, I think we all care about our planet, but melting icebergs aren’t beheading Christians in the Middle East.” While Priebus’ comments won some plaudits, he is at odds with the assertions of the Pentagon.

The U.S. military has been acutely aware of the “climate security” threat for quite some time. Military planners have consistently referred to climate change as a “threat multiplier” – it can make existing problems worse, and can present new conflicts as well.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the Boston Globe in 2013 that climate change presented the biggest long-term national security threat. That earned him some pushback from Congress’ leading climate denier Senator James Inhofe during a committee hearing.

Jeff Goodell wrote an excellent article for Rolling Stone in February on how climate deniers undermine national security in multiple ways.

As he notes, it isn’t just foreign threats that will affect the military. Major military bases around the world are also at risk because of the effects of climate change. The Naval base in Norfolk, VA is dealing with frequent floods and hurricanes, and its ultimate long-term survival is in question because of rising sea levels. The same is true for the strategically important military base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Goodell reported that military officials are reluctant to discuss how they are dealing with the effects of climate change (even though they must) out in the open for fear that Congress will slash funding for climate-specific activities.

Read more: Anti-Fossil Fuel Movement Grows

And that fear is not unjustified. The Department of Defense has also prioritized reducing its demand for liquid fuels because of the human costs that stem from such a dependence. The need to refuel tanks, trucks, and planes puts soldiers at risk. When fuel convoys are sent out, soldiers must accompany those trucks to safeguard them, putting lives in danger. A 2009 Deloitte study found that one U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq and Afghanistan for every 24 fuel resupply convoys sent out. In response, the Pentagon has sought to develop biofuels to reduce its need for petroleum-based fuels, but climate deniers in Congress have repeatedly tried to ban such a pursuit. The fight is ostensibly over dollars, but no doubt the program has come under heightened scrutiny because it also fits neatly under the administration’s climate change agenda.

The threat of climate change will come from a variety of different directions, many of which will only grow worse with time. Droughts, floods, migration, disease, and severe storms will stretch the military’s resources, and strain its ability to deal with new missions.

The Pentagon continues to make the case however. The Navy’s Task Force on Energy posted the Rolling Stone article on its Facebook page, which no doubt irked the climate deniers in Congress.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME Environment

El Niño Arrival Too Late for California Drought

"Too little, too late and too weak to provide much relief for drought-stricken California"

El Niño has finally arrived, but the precipitation brought by the weather event is unlikely to alleviate California’s severe drought, officials said Thursday.

“After many months of watching, El Niño has formed,” said Mike Halpert, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. “Unfortunately, this El Niño is likely too little, too late and too weak to provide much relief for drought-stricken California as California’s rainy season is winding down.”

El Niño, a cyclical phenomenon that lasts several years, begins with warming in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and eventually affects weather around the world. In the United States, it can lead to storms along the West Coast and affect hurricanes and other tropical storms. Tropical storm activity could be reduced due to El Niño, but it’s too soon to know for certain, the NOAA said.

Forecasters have been waiting to declare the start of El Niño for nearly a year. The late arrival may make El Niño-related storms “weak in strength” with “fairly low influence on weather inclement,” Halpert said.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Human Waste on Mount Everest Creates an Environmental Issue

Nature's call maybe not be good for nature

Climbers are leaving more than just their footprints when they traverse Mount Everest, especially when they need to “use the bathroom.” People leave behind large amounts of fecal matter and urine every year.

Watch the Know Right Now above to find out more, and read more here.

TIME europe

Huge Numbers of Europeans Will Die From Air Pollution in the Next 20 Years

Eiffel Tower in a thick smog in Paris, France on January 6, 2015.
Apaydin Alain—Sipa USA/AP Eiffel Tower in a thick smog in Paris, France on January 6, 2015.

Europe is failing on a range of environmental indicators from air to water and biodiversity

Hundreds of thousands of people in the E.U. — perhaps millions, if present trends continue — will suffer premature death in the next two decades because of toxic air, a new report says.

Tuesday’s State of the Environment Report for 2015, from the European Environment Agency (EEA) blames governments for inaction and says that in 2011 alone — the most recent year for which there is a reliable tally — over 400,000 Europeans died prematurely from air pollution.

Europe’s environmental performance also lags behind in areas like urbanization, biodiversity loss, intensive farming and maintenance of inland freshwater systems, the Guardian reports.

“Our analysis shows that European policies have successfully tackled many environmental challenges over the years. But it also shows that we continue to harm the natural systems that sustain our prosperity,” EEA’s executive director Hans Bruyninckx told the Guardian.

[The Guardian]

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