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Politics Equilibrium/Sustainability — Space station reroutes to dodge debris

01:48  04 december  2021
01:48  04 december  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Pledged money not going to Indigenous causes

  Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Pledged money not going to Indigenous causes Today is Wednesday. Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. Of the billions of dollars pledged to Indigenous "causes" during COP26, little may actually reach Indigeous peoples themselves, Mongabay reported.Indigenous communities in the Amazon, for example, have 90-percent less deforestation than the average, the World Resource Institute has found - but less than 17 percent of funds for Indigenous conservation actually reach such communities, according to Rainforest Foundation Norway.

Today is Friday. Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Equilibrium/Sustainability — Space station reroutes to dodge debris © Associated Press / Anonymous Equilibrium/Sustainability — Space station reroutes to dodge debris

The International Space Station had to zigzag away from a chunk of U.S. space junk on Friday, the head of Russia's space agency told Reuters.

The trash in question - part of a discarded 1994 U.S. launch vehicle - was the latest in a series of incidents in which space debris have required rapid response from astronauts, beginning with a Russian anti-satellite missile test that sent a field of garbage into orbit last month, Reuters reported.

Overnight Energy: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review | Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030 | Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' PFAS risks

  Overnight Energy: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review | Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030 | Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' PFAS risks IT'S TUESDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day's energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com . Follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin . Reach Zack Budryk at zbudryk@thehill.com or follow him at @BudrykZack . Today we're looking at reported details on the Biden administration's vehicle mileage push, an inspector general probe finding that a lack of Defense Department action may have caused "preventable" PFAS risks and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland facing questions on the federal oil and gas program.

The station's orbit on Friday dropped by 339 yards for about three minutes to prevent a collision, according to Dmitry Rogozoin, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos. In another space debris incident on Tuesday, NASA had to postpone a spacewalk to replace a damaged antenna on the station, while the facility had to dodge a piece of an old Chinese satellite last month, Reuters reported.

"Unless we change course, the opportunities of space to improve our lives on Earth could be closed off for generations," former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrote in a Financial Times piece, cited by Reuters.

As Rasmussen warned against "turning Earth's celestial neighborhood into a junk yard," we'll look at the flaming debris still being ejected from the Canary Islands volcanic eruption - a real-time laboratory for the mysteries beneath our feet. Then we'll travel around the world to look at a new partnership between Toyota and a Chinese tech firm to accelerate low-cost electric vehicle production.

General: Space Force racing 'to stay ahead of a growing threat' from China and Russia

  General: Space Force racing 'to stay ahead of a growing threat' from China and Russia China and Russia are developing “a suite of capabilities” to threaten American assets in space, according to a top U.S. general who acknowledged the pressure to keep ahead of these adversaries in orbit. © Provided by Washington Examiner “One of the main reasons why we established the Space Force was to go fast and to stay ahead of a growing threat," Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, told reporters Thursday.

For Equilibrium, we are Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Please send tips or comments to Saul at selbein@thehill.com or Sharon at sudasin@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @saul_elbein and @sharonudasin.

Let's get to it.

Ongoing eruption a reminder of volcanic risks

  Equilibrium/Sustainability — Space station reroutes to dodge debris © Provided by The Hill The ongoing volcanic eruption on La Palma, a far western outpost of Europe, is serving as a proving ground for volcanologists seeking to understand more about the mysterious workings of the inner Earth - and to predict geologic disaster before it happens.

First words: Scientists "are probably beginning to know the stars better than what happens under our feet," Pedro Hernández of Involcan - the volcanology institute of Spain's Canary Islands, of which La Palma is one - told The Associated Press.

Remind me about this eruption? On Sept. 19, the mountain of Cumbre Vieja ("Old Peak") blew its top, fountaining molten rock and ash and raining red-hot watermelon-sized "lava bombs" of semi-solid rock, as in this Global News video.

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And that flareup hasn't stopped. On Monday, lava forced its way through new "tubes" in the rock and continued to flow downhill at 3 feet per second toward what is left the town of La Laguna - adding to the flows that have already destroyed 1,500 buildings and covered about 378 hectares (900 acres) of avocado and banana plantations, CNN reported.

That's good news for scientists. These flows offer a royal flush for volcanologists: an active eruption an hour from an international airport and with "the safety of being able to work under the escort of military brigades," according to the AP.

They are probing the eruption and its rising plumes of toxic gas with drones and satellite images, and gathering rocks flung from the volcano's mouth, the AP reported.

A disaster half-foretold: A principal question scientists hope to answer is why the La Palma eruption so nearly took them by surprise. Both 2017 and 2018 saw "earthquake swarms" - clusters of dozens of tiny earthquakes that, "in hindsight," suggested the unrest building underground, researcher Marc-Antoine Longpré wrote in the journal Science on Thursday.

NASA delays an output in space due to the risk of

 NASA delays an output in space due to the risk of space-expedition-NASA debris: NASA retains an output in space due to the risk of debris © Reuters / Joe Skipper NASA delays a Exit in space due to the risk of debris by Steve Gorman (Reuters) - an exit in the planned space on Tuesday to repair a defective antenna of the International Space Station (ISS) has been postponed Sine Die, announced the NASA, invoking a "Debris Notification" that it has received from the Space Research Laboratory.

But then the volcano went quiet for two years - until September 11 of this year, when earthquakes began moving closer to the surface, signalling the possibility of an eruption. That finding triggered a remarkably successful evacuation order, and no one was killed when the eruption came eight days later, according to the AP.

A DANGEROUS BREAK IN THE PATTERN

Surprise attack: The eruption at La Cumbre suggests that some island volcanoes give little signal before they erupt, even as pressure builds below ground, according to a press statement on Longpré's Science article.

The volcanoes in question, he wrote, "defy global relationships" about how much warning first responders can expect.

A neglected threat: It's easy to overlook that Europe is also a continent built by powerful and destructive geologic activity, from the ongoing Fagradalsfjall eruption in Iceland and Stromboli in Italy to the currently-quiet volcanoes - like Etna and Vesuvius - that ring the Mediterranean.

"It is often forgotten that the European coasts are also located in areas that are tectonically very active - and that many catastrophes have occurred here in the past," Professor Heidrun Kopp, a geophysicist from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, said in a press statement.

Space: NASA reports the output of two astronauts from the ISS for "debris"

 Space: NASA reports the output of two astronauts from the ISS for Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron had to perform an output of six and a half hours to replace a defective radio communication antenna © AFP The International Space Station is in orbit at 400 km altitude.

Tsunamis in Europe? Kopp is co-chair of a European Marine Board working group which just released a position paper (PDF) on the small but significant danger of earthquakes and tsunamis - devastating seismically driven tidal waves - pose to the continent, and urging the creation of better seafloor maps and monitoring stations to manage that risk.

Growing risk: The likelihood of these events has stayed flat for millions of years, according to Kopp.

"But the magnitude of damage is increasing because coasts are becoming more densely populated, we have built ports and industrial facilities on the coasts and on the seafloor, and we've generally accumulated large values there," he said.

Last words: "If a natural disaster were to occur on Europe's coasts, all European Union states would be involved-both in disaster relief and in financing reconstruction," Kopp added.

Toyota to launch China-only EV sedan in 2022

  Equilibrium/Sustainability — Space station reroutes to dodge debris © Provided by The Hill

Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to roll out an all-electric small sedan in China late next year, in a collaborative effort with local tech firm BYD to manufacture lower-cost electric vehicles (EVs), sources told Reuters.

The sources described the sedan to Reuters "as an electric holy grail for Toyota," which has been trying for years to manufacture a small EV in China that can be competitive on cost while offering maximum comfort.

So how does Toyota intend to do that? By using BYD's "lower-cost engineering know-how" and its lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) Blade batteries, which are less bulky than standard EV batteries, Reuters reported.

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The new car will be slightly bigger than Toyota's Corolla, the world's bestselling car of all time, according to Reuters.

What's BYD? Known by its acronym, which stands for "Build Your Dreams," the Chinese company gained some public renown in 2008 when Warren Buffett bought a 10 percent stake in the firm, Reuters reported.

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Since then, according to Reuters, BYD has become one of the biggest producers of "new energy vehicles" - the Chinese term for battery electric and plug-in electric vehicles that are eligible for public subsidies.

What will the car cost? Toyota's new China-only sedan will be offered at prices below those of premium electric cars like Tesla's Model Y but above China's popular "ultra-cheap" Hong Guang Mini EV, which starts at $4,500, Reuters reported.

Why is this so significant? Because global automakers like Toyota had long been flippant about the rise of cheap Chinese EVs, which they considered to be sub-par, according to Reuters.

"Their long-term quality is still a question mark, but the design and quality of these cars showed levels of maturity, yet they were much cheaper than comparable Toyota models," one of the sources, told Reuters.

"We were all kinda floored by that," the source added.

'A SURPRISE PLEDGE'

Toyota has some other EV news, outside of China. The company announced on Thursday that it would be selling only zero-emission cars in Europe by 2035, a move that Bloomberg described as "a surprise pledge that aligns the world's biggest automaker with the world's most ambitious climate plan."

Although this pledge does align with Europe's green deal climate measures, the company acknowledged that its statements depended on the assumption that the E.U. would have enough infrastructure installed to enable ample battery recharging and hydrogen refueling by 2035, Bloomberg reported.

In the shorter term, Toyota set a new goal for at least half of its Western European sales to be zero-emission vehicles by the end of the decade, according to Bloomberg.

An unexpected turn of events: Toyota's shift to zero-emissions mark a change in company priorities, as the firm has long focused on maintaining the role of hybrid vehicles like its Prius in the global effort to reduce emissions in an affordable manner, Bloomberg reported.

That said, Toyota has hinted that it intends to deploy its solid-state batteries in its hybrid models prior to doing so in its EVs, and is expected to do so by the middle of the decade, U.K. trade magazine Autocar reported.

Unlike traditional lithium-ion batteries, which contain a liquid electrolyte, solid-state batteries are solid, lighter and more energy dense - enabling faster charging and greater range, according to J.D. Power.

But Toyota is recognizing the E.U.'s preparedness for electric cars, as Europeans registered more than 800,000 EVs in the first nine months of 2021 - up 90 percent from a year ago, according to Bloomberg.

And company executives maintain that they "are not in any way defensive about or reluctant followers," as Matthew Harrison, Toyota Europe's chief executive officer, told Bloomberg.

Last words: "We'll concentrate on our being in good faith, but we need the same sort of conviction and effort and progress also from an infrastructure and renewable-energy capacity perspective," Harrison said.

Follow-up Friday

  Equilibrium/Sustainability — Space station reroutes to dodge debris © Provided by The Hill

A look at issues we've explored throughout the week.

U.N. to triple plastic waste management in India

  • We looked earlier this week at a report urging the U.S. to curb plastic waste in oceans, but despite being the "top generator of plastic waste," the U.S. is not alone in its problem.
  • The U.N. has announced plans to triple plastic waste management in India by 2024, according to Reuters. India's 1.3 billion residents generate 3 million metric tons of plastic waste annually, while America's 329.5 million create 42 million metric tons - meaning the average American produces about 65 times more plastic waste annually than the average Indian does.

Deforestation becoming 'material risk' to Brazil's agribusinesses: Moody's

  • We also reported on how the demand for luxury leather was driving deforestation in the Amazon.

  • Brazil's ongoing Amazon deforestation could soon slash the creditworthiness of Brazilian agribusiness - which is dependent on the weather and ecological buffer provided by the great forest, The Rio Times reported, citing the risk-rating agency of financial analyst Moody's.

OPEC sticks with plans to pump more oil amid Omicron

  • We wrote on Monday about the crash and resurgence of global oil prices amid news of the rising Omicron coronavirus variant.

  • But oil prices are continuing to rise after OPEC announced Thursday that - while it would keep pumping an additional 400,000 barrels per day in the new year - it stood ready to shut that production off if a revived pandemic slashed demand.

That's it for today. Please visit The Hill's sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. We'll see you Friday.

Tornado Photos, Videos Show Severe Damage Across Mayfield, Kentucky .
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency, with damaged buildings left scattered across the west of the state.Just before midnight Friday, the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued a state of emergency and activated the Kentucky National Guard and other agencies to deal with the devastation caused by a tornado.

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