Obama flying 747 to Paris to warn about security threat posed by climate change

On Earth Day, President Obama torched nearly 10,000 gallons of jet fuel to go to the Florida Everglades with Bill Nye to warn about the threat posed by “climate change,” and he later burned over twice that amount to fly to the Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

If those trips weren’t enough to highlight Obama’s commitment to battling America’s number one national security threat, the quest to make man-made climate change the most expensive self-fulfilling prophecy ever continues:

That alone might be a bigger carbon footprint than the Keystone pipeline would have made, but the climate hangs in the balance!

Question of the week:

Perhaps a member of the WH press corps can ask about that.

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2015/11/09/obama-flying-747-to-paris-to-warn-about-security-threat-posed-by-climate-change/

The amazing school where grandmothers go to learn to save the world.

Barefoot College is an NGO that is training a new generation of female solar engineers to fuel the rural developing world with renewable energy.

I think you don’t have to look for solutions outside. Look for solutions within. And listen to the people on the ground. They have all the solutions in the world,” said Bunker Roy, the founder of Barefoot College in his 2011 TED Talk.

from around the world in “barefoot solutions” to problems they face back home, like how to power villages through solar power, create water purification systems, build FM radios, engineer parabolic solar-powered cookstoves, and become midwives, dentists, and teachers.

At the moment, Barefoot College’s most successful program focuses on teaching women to become solar engineers. Launched in 1990, it has exceeded all expectations.

By the end of 2015, women from all 43 of the world’s least-developed countries will have trained as solar engineers. Their knowledge and skill power an estimated 45,000 rural homes worldwide.


Students at Barefoot College have a few things in common.

1. All of them are women from small, rural communities where electricity is hard if not impossible to come by.

The Barefoot model gives them the skills to power their homes and villages with renewables, in exchange for a small monthly fee based on how much they would have spent on candles, kerosene, and wood. This fee really is small most of these women get by on less than $1 per day.

2. They’re likely illiterate or semi-literate.

At most schools, this would be a huge barrier to learning anything but not at Barefoot College. Here trainees learn from graduates and other teachers many with the same literacy limitations. Instead of teaching each other to read instructions, they develop skills by following mimed instructions (sometimes delivered via puppet), learning to recognize component parts by shape or color, and through regular practice.

3. Many of the graduates of Barefoot College are grandmothers.

The school makes a point of prioritizing training for women who are single mothers, middle-aged, divorced, physically challenged or illiterate because they need the employment opportunity and income the most.”

Image by Gaganjit Singh/Flickr.

It just goes to show how giving women tools and knowledge can change both their lives and their communities for the better.

After six months of training, the women leave with the skills to build and maintain solar energy systems, and to manage a solar workshop in their own community. As a teacher who worked with Barefoot College writes, the change in their confidence is astounding:

“Their transformation has been astonishing. Transformed into Solar Engineers, but beyond that, into joyous and confident women. Women who worked and laughed and bossed about other women from 7 countries they had never heard of or known existed, in languages they did not speak. I hardly recognize their faces today, so much younger and alive than when they arrived.”

Learn more about Barefoot College on their website or on their YouTube channel.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-amazing-school-where-grandmothers-go-to-learn-to-save-the-world?c=tpstream

While the rest of the world wasn’t looking, Mongolia managed to achieve something kind of amazing.

Even though up to 40% of Mongolia’s population is nomadic, the country has found a way to achieve something wealthier nations can only envy: 98% of its girls and 93% of its boys are now getting a secondary education.



“Big Brother Walks by His Sister and Mom”

Since his family is nomadic, 14-year-old Munkhin Otgonbayar has gone to schools in Uvs Province, Ulaangom, and Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar.


“A Traditional Yurt, Now With Solar Panels and a Satellite Dish”

Mongolia has worked hard to preserve its cherished traditions in the face of modernization.


“Boys and Their Horses”

For school, Munkhdemberel Munkhbat leaves home and lives in a dormitory. Here he is hanging out with his friends at home he’s the one on the left.



“Doing Homework at Home”

Munkhdemberel hits the books in the family yurt.


“Two Boys Race Their Horses”

It’s a traditional Mongolian pastime. These two boys are prepping to race in the Naadam festival of the Three Manly Sports: horse racing, wrestling, and archery.


“A 37-Year-Old Mongolian Mother”

Years ago, Togtokh Buyanjargal had to leave school in first grade to become a herder. She looks to a better future for her kids thanks to education.


“A Little Girl Watches the Big Kids Do Homework”

A girl watches her siblings work on their assignments. She looks a little envious.



“Urangoo Bayartsogt, Proudly at Her School Desk”

15-year-old schoolgirl Urangoo Bayartsogt attends a boarding school. Even though she’s a long way from her parents and home, she obviously enjoys being there.


“Urangoo at the School Computers”

The good thing about [boarding] school is that … you can ask teachers to explain anything that you don’t understand at any time.”


“Dorm Life”

Urangoo has lived in a school dormitory since first grade. Her younger brothers, 8 and 9, live there with her.



“Teacher Gantuya Galkhuu”

The 29-year-old math teacher has been teaching at her boarding school for eight years. Mongolia encourages teachers to take jobs in remote areas, offering bonuses as incentives.


“Herder Battulga Dorjpurev”

35-year-old herder Battulga Dorjpurev has two kids at school in Bayankhangai Soum. When he was young, his parents weren’t able to provide him an education.



“A Schoolboy and His Parents Shear Sheep During a School Holiday”

When school’s in session, Dorjpurev’s wife (left) moves to town with the kids so they can attend. I guess everybody strives to provide their children with education,” says Battulga.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/while-the-rest-of-the-world-wasnt-looking-mongolia-managed-to-achieve-something-kind-of-amazing?c=tpstream

This ancient Japanese art could improve everything from bridges to surgical gear.

Origami: It’s more than just paper cranes!

My crane style defeats your monkey style. Photo by
Doug/Flickr.

Did you know the principles of paper folding have been used to cram car airbags into tight spaces for years? And that’s just the beginning.

All that material sits patiently inside your steering wheel until you need it. Photo by
Scott E./Flickr.

The ancient Japanese art is actually inspiring the future of engineering.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tokyo, for example, have been toying with
a specific fold configuration they’re calling the “zippered tube.”

They say it could have some pretty amazing applications.

Whooooa. All GIFS via
University of Illinois News Bureau/YouTube.

They start by folding a strip of paper into a sort of zig zag. Then, they glue two of these folded strips together to form a flexible-yet-powerful tube. From there, multiple tubes can be combined in all kinds of different combinations and geometric formations.

The result?

Firm, yet still flexible, Transformer-like structures capable of folding nearly flat for easy transportation or storage.


Here’s a basic paper bridge holding up some hefty weights.

A lot of (our research) was driven by space exploration, to be able to launch structures compactly and deploy them in space,”
says Evgueni Filipov, a graduate assistant on the project. “But we’re starting to see how it has potential for a lot of different fields of engineering. You could prefabricate something in a factory, ship it compactly and deploy it on site.”

But it’s not just paper that can be origami’d into amazing new forms.

Imagine a steel surgical probe capable of collapsing in order to fit through a tiny incision, then expanding after insertion in order to perform its function.

Imagine shelters, bridges, housing, boats, and medical equipment that can be deployed at lightning speed during natural disasters.

Imagine
an incredible, self-assembling robot. (Sound familiar?)

The possibilities are really endless.

From super cool, super convenient pop-up furniture…

This table is “more than meets the eye.” Photo by
Brett Jordan/Flickr.

… to solar panels that collapse and then expand when launched into space.

Starts small, becomes huge. Image from
BYU/YouTube.

It may take some time before we see some of these techniques reach the mainstream.

But it’s pretty exciting to think about a world where structures can be moved, modified, and stowed away with ease. And it’s even cooler to think about a world where engineering is based as much in art as it is in science.

So, let’s keep folding our way to a more beautiful, more functional world.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-ancient-japanese-art-could-improve-everything-from-bridges-to-surgical-gear?c=

‘Cronies he needs to pay off’? Obama seeks to double ‘clean energy’ spending

President Obama will send his final budget proposal to Congress next week, and he’s seeking to again crank up the amount of money going into “clean energy”:

Haven’t we been down this road before?

In his weekly media address, Obama announced that he will send a budget to Congress on Tuesday which hits twice the current spending levels for clean energy research and development by 2020, declaring that “rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”
[…]
“One of the greatest challenges of our time is climate change,” the US leader said.

Additionally, Obama has proposed a $10-per-barrel oil fee.

Never let a low energy price “crisis” go to waste:

Obama’s budget doubling “clean energy” spending faces hurdles though:

Obama appears determined to make energy prices as high as possible by the time he leaves office.

Apparently not.

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2016/02/06/cronies-he-needs-to-pay-off-obama-seeks-to-double-clean-energy-spending/

How do you power a solar panel without sunlight? These scientists have an awesome answer.

The more you think about it, the more it seems like solar panels were gifted to us by a strange foreign planet.

GIF from “Superman Returns.”

Of course, there’s one major catch: The amount of energy solar panels create and store can be substantially affected by weather.



GIF via “Smallville”

With a little tweaking, these graphene-coated cells could very well revolutionize how the some areas on our planet generate power.

But the story actually gets more dramatic from there.

Not wanting to be outdone, researchers at Binghampton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science inNew York published a paper of their own on the same topic.

In their study, they were able to generate energy across a bio-solar panel using bacteria. BACTERIA, you guys! According to their research:

“Using cyanobacteria (which can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat on the planet) as a source of clean and sustainable energy … the group connected nine identical bio-solar cells in a 3×3 pattern to make a scalable and stackable bio-solar panel. The panel continuously generated electricity from photosynthesis and respiratory activities of the bacteria in 12-hour day-night cycles over 60 total hours.”

This means the weather might not even matter much for generating solar energy in the future. “This could result in barrier-transcending advancements in bio-solar cells that could facilitate higher power/voltage generation with self-sustainability, releasing bio-solar cell technology from its restriction to research settings and translating it to practical applications in real-world,” the report read.

Both rain and bacteria-powered solar energy are a long way from becoming readily available, but the proof of concept under development in these projects is awesome.

People are really into solar energy right now. In fact, last year was the biggest year on record for solar energy development, with over 7,000 megawatts of solar power being installed in the United States alone. China also plans to triple its solar power capacity by 2020 in an effort to significantly reduce its greenhouse emissions, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/how-do-you-power-a-solar-panel-without-sunlight-these-scientists-have-an-awesome-answer?c=tpstream

5 things happening now that should give you hope about climate change.

Admit it talking about climate change can be super depressing.

Sea levels could rise to terrifying levels, droughts are getting worse, storms are getting more severe, and … this one’s tough … even beer is being ruined.

But don’t let all the doom and gloom rain on your parade. Because although, yes, we certainly need to continue acting on climate change (like, yesterday), the world has taken many encouraging, consequential steps forward as of late. And you have every right to feel good about that.

Here are five reasons to feel hopeful in the fight to keep global temperatures down.

1. Carbon emissions are expected to stall or even fall this year.

Yeah, you read correctly decline.

Photo via iStock.

New data presented at the UN climate talks in Paris earlier this month suggests global carbon emissions will have dropped 0.6% in 2015.

Even though that figure might sound measly (no one’s saying we don’t have our work cut out for us), this is pretty big. It marks the very first time carbon emissions have dropped during a year of global economic growth.

What have we been doing differently lately? Well, the world is using more renewable energy, the data found, and China one of global warming’s worst offenders is slowly kicking its dirty coal habit to the curb, which helped a lot.

2. More and more people around the world are taking climate change seriously.

Photo via iStock.

Just last month, Pew Research Center found that in all 40 countries where it polled respondents, majorities agreed that climate change is a “serious problem.”

What’s more, a median of 78% of global respondents were in favor of their country agreeing to limit greenhouse gas emissions to halt rising temperatures.

It’s OK to celebrate these numbers because, naturally, the more people believe in the science behind climate change, the harder they’ll fight to do something about it.

And that leads me to #3:

3. The biggest carbon-emitting culprits just united in Paris to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN hosted the largest-ever gathering of heads of state this month in France at COP21 a summit focused on setting ambitious global goals to drastically reduce our collective carbon footprint.

Photo via iStock.

Yes, plenty of international climate conferences have happened before, and many have failed on reaching their prospective benchmarks. But this time looks especially promising, seeing as 195 nations around the world committed to dramatically reducing their carbon footprints.

“The Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis,” President Obama said of the agreement. “It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.”

But it’s not just politicians (finally) trying to pull their weight against global warming…

4. Big names with deep pockets are stepping up to share the burden of a warming planet.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a UN Messenger of Peace on the climate, was also in France for COP21, encouraging about 1,000 mayors and leaders from around the world to go big on renewable energy.

Model cities like Vancouver, Sydney, Stockholm and Las Vegas have already committed to using 100% renewable energy in the coming decades,” he said in a speech. So to all the mayors and governors in this room today, I implore you to join with your peers to commit to moving to no less than 100% renewable energy as soon as possible. Do not wait another day.

And billionaire philanthropist and cool dude Bill Gates? He announced a massive carbon-fighting initiative that will use both billions of dollars from private investors (like Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg) as well as clean energy commitments from several countries to help prevent catastrophically high global temperatures.

“It is great to see so many government leaders and investors making these commitments and showing how the public and private sectors can come together to work on big problems,” Gates wrote on his blog.

“I am optimistic that we can invent the tools we need to generate clean, affordable, reliable energy that will help the poorest improve their lives and also stop climate change.”

5. The worst of climate change is still avoidable! And the urgency we’ve seen to act is a positive sign.

Yes, rising temperatures will continue to affect our planet in big, costly ways. But, if ambitious goals are met, we will have a green future ahead of us.

“I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world,” Obama said, praising the new climate agreement as “the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.”

See? There’s no need to feel demoralized. However, there still is a need to act. Demand the U.S. step up its clean energy game by signing this petition by the League of Conservation Voters.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/5-things-happening-now-that-should-give-you-hope-about-climate-change?c=tpstream

Her dad thought her clean energy idea was just a ‘kid’s project.’ He was wrong.

When Cassandra was 10 years old, she decided to take on climate change … and bring her whole town with her.

In fifth grade, she’d learned that if the world’s addiction to fossil fuels continues, it’s only a matter of time before her entire town would be underwater. (When you use carbon-emitting energy like we do, that can happen.)

Our Ocean State of Rhode Island may become the Under Ocean State by 2100 if global warming is allowed to continue at the current rate,” Cassandra, now 17, said in a speech a few years ago.

So she came up with a plan.

With help from friends, Cassandra launched Turn Grease Into Fuel, or TGIF.

Their strategy was pretty simple … but also sort of ingenious.

You know all that wasted used cooking oil that restaurants just throw away? It can be used as biofuel energy that contributes significantly less to global warming than fossil fuels.

TGIF began reaching out to local restaurants to see if they could use leftover cooking oil for the initiative, and slowly but surely the idea caught on. The City of Westerly, Rhode Island (Cassandra’s hometown) decided to help out, too, setting up a grease recycling site where TGIF could do its work.

And here’s where it gets really good: The biodiesel created by TGIF goes toward warming the homes of families in need. Because why not donate the energy to those who could use it most?

We kind of thought, ‘This is a kid’s project,’ you know,” said Jason Lin, Cassandra’s father. “‘It will probably last a year or two the most.'”

Boy … was he wrong.

To date, TGIF’s efforts have helped warm the homes of about 400 families, but that’s just the start.

Since its launch, TGIF has been incredibly successful both in terms of combating climate change and helping those in need. Through partnerships with 132 (!) restaurants, they’ve recycled enough cooking oil to offset 3 million pounds of CO2 emissions, according to the EPA’s estimations.

That’s the average annual carbon footprint of 88 people.

But TGIF’s impact goes even further beyond greenhouse gas reductions and warming homes for those in need the group is changing hearts and minds, too.

TGIF has “opened my eyes to see that something needs to change or else this beautiful world we live in might not be here anymore,” said chef Joseph Tanton of Pleasant View Inn, a TGIF partner.

TGIF is proof that sometimes a small group of kids in a small town can make a huge difference.

And all they needed was some cooking oil and a little determination.

Watch TGIF’s story below:

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/her-dad-thought-her-clean-energy-idea-was-just-a-kids-project-he-was-wrong?c=tpstream

These two posts from Arnold capture why we need clean energy now. Not in the future. Now.

In case you missed it: Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California and star action movies like “Terminator” and “Predator,” dropped some truth bombs on Facebook Monday morning.

That’s the title of a Facebook post by Schwarzenegger. He titled it that because, even if everything scientists are saying about climate change is completely wrong (which it’s not), we should already be moving to clean energy anyway.

“Do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution?” he asks. Burning fossil fuels creates pollution, sickening and killing millions of people every year.

As the actual definition of “renewable” would suggest, renewables won’t run out. And they’re usually a good deal, too California’s energy investments are already paying off.

“I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged,” he said.

Schwarzenegger lays out some realities about climate change in his second post, a Q&A video.

Image via Arnold Schwarzenegger/Facebook.

The video features Arnold standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe, taking questions from fans. Arnold was in Paris along with the current governor of California, Jerry Brown, to give a speech at the COP21 climate change talks.

Arnold fielded these questions about subjects like how teachers can explain climate change to their students and what the average person can do about climate change, while also warning against finger-pointing and divisions both internationally and within U.S. politics.

But the best was what he’d say to the people who say fixing climate change is impossible.

“I have heard people say that it’s impossible,” said Arnold.

“I’ve heard this my whole life. I’ve heard ‘it’s impossible’ my whole life about everything. If I wanted to go to America they said it’s impossible. When I wanted to be a body-building champion they said it’s impossible. When I wanted to be a movie star they said it’s impossible. When I ran for governor they said it’s impossible. So I heard it all the time.”

“So I took the words ‘impossible,’ ‘can’t be done,’ and ‘no’ out of my vocabulary,” said Arnold.

Image via Arnold Schwarzenegger/Facebook.

“If we all work together we can solve this problem.”

It’s a great video that’s well worth a watch. If you agree with Arnold that clean energy just makes sense that fossil fuels aren’t worth an estimated 7 million sick sign this petition from the League of Conservation Voters which tells Congress to spur fossil fuels and support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/these-two-posts-from-arnold-capture-why-we-need-clean-energy-now-not-in-the-future-now?c=tpstream

Solar module prices have hit a new low. So Akon’s trying to bring power to all Africans.

Since Akon’s rise to fame, he hasn’t hesitated to use his celebrity for the greater good.

Akon performs at a Peace One Day concert for International Peace Day in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Phil Moore/AFP/Getty Images.

In addition to participating in charitable events like the Peace One Day concert, he founded the Konfidence Foundation to help impoverished youth in West Africa and the U.S.

And he recently added another act of awesome to his repertoire:

Akon’s working to bring electricity to 600 million sub-Saharan Africans in rural areas.

Yeah, that’s no small feat, but he knows how important it is. Although Akon was born in Missouri, he spent many years growing up in Senegal, where his family lived without electricity. He told Gulf News:

“Not having electricity growing up and then going to the U.S. where I got used to having clean water and light and visiting my family in Africa only to see that not much has changed within a span of 20 years or so is really what inspired me to begin this initiative.”

Through the Akon Lighting Africa initiative, Akon is bringing affordable solar power solutions to Africa. Solar module prices hit a record low last year, which means it’s easier than ever to expand the use of solar energy in countries with limited funds. So with the help of a $1 billion credit line, the initiative pays for the upfront costs so that electicity providers in African countries can pay back the money over time to the initiative in affordable installments.

The initiative isn’t just about power; it’s about em-powering. (Yeah, I said it.)

I’m sorry! I couldn’t resist. GIF via “The Office.”

Access to electricity would obviously be a vast improvement on people’s daily lives: Street lights would improve safety, home lights would allow children to do homework later, and the special skills needed for solar power equipment installation would create jobs.

But Akon doesn’t just want to improve the day-to-day things; he wants to help Africans innovate with solar energy. That’s why the initiative’s work includes creating education opportunities for community members to understand the benefits of solar energy.

An example? They’ve partnered with Solektra International to create a solar academy for local entrepreneurs in Mali the first of its kind on the African continent.

Akon believes that giving individual Africans access to power will help the continent as a whole.

Mali women make jars under a solar-powered mobile street light. Photo by Habibou Kouyate/AFP/Getty Images.

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Akon said electricity is the key to helping the continent catch up to developed nations. He believes that foreign aid can do more harm than good, so he wanted to use the initiative to invest directly in African individuals and businesses. While it’s a for-profit venture, Akon shared in a live chat that proceeds go to African banks so the money can stay within the local economy.

So far, they’re making great strides.

Akon partially attributes the quick expansion to the fact that countries can see the benefits of solar power before committing to using it. Since the ALA initiative has the funds, they front the money to launch a free pilot program in rural areas. With a risk-free introduction to the benefits of solar energy, countries have been able to make a confident, informed decision to sign on.

And there’s more to come: Just this week, the initiative presented in Paris during the UN climate negotiations (COP21) to share the impact they’re having.

As an American-born child with family in Africa, I know how big a deal this initiative is. While I’m fortunate enough to have family in Kenya who are among the 5% of Africans in sub-Saharan Africa with electricity (compared to 80% of the whole world), I’ve seen firsthand how many Kenyans living without it doesn’t just limit their own lives; it affects the country as a whole.

I love that Akon is about spreading the power literally and figuratively.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/solar-module-prices-have-hit-a-new-low-so-akons-trying-to-bring-power-to-all-africans?c=tpstream