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Climate Change

Dutch Government Orders Itself to Cut Emissions 25% by 2020

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netherland flagGovernments are major contributors to climate change, both positive and negative. In several countries, the government is all but exempt from climate control regulations.

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Recently, in the Netherlands, a group of some 900 people have brought suit against the Dutch government in an attempt to force the state to reduce its emissions at a quicker rate than is currently outlined under its own policies. The current policies were scheduled to have reduced government emissions 17% from 1990 levels by 2020, which the activists behind the lawsuit believed was not doing enough to effect actual change.

The suit is a first in several ways, though certainly not the first time a government judge has ruled against the government in terms of the law. The judge made this ruling on the belief that the Dutch government has the responsibility to do everything in its power to protect citizens from climate change. This is particularly important to the Dutch, whose country is largely below sea level. Therefore, the judge believed that by the government contributing to climate change in ways that further melt the ice caps and raise sea levels, they were in fact contributing to the harm of the Dutch people.

Also read: Dutch Government Goes Offline

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Meanwhile, there are similar lawsuits going on in Norway and Belgium, with citizens suing the government for very similar reasons. Although International precedent is not always overtly important in cases of such gravity, rulings in other countries on the same issue can often play into the minds of sitting judges.

Could Be Difficult to Enforce

The court now finds itself in a predicament as to enforcing the ruling it has made. After all, how do they go about fining a government agency for non-compliance? Indeed, how deeply does this ruling go, in terms of outlining exactly how the government should reduce emissions? It turns out, not too deeply. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the activists who fought for this victory, since they see the symbolism as the most important aspect of it. After all, now even the government must answer to the cause of a greener society, and it cannot, at that point, allow regulations which do not push in this direction or otherwise fail to push toward the goal of reduced emissions.

A longstanding problem in the world has been that even if some enlightened countries reduce their emissions down to zero, the rest of the world has to be on board. Neither the Netherlands nor any other country where these lawsuits has a chance are highly industrialized zones anymore. Therefore their reduction is not as valuable as a reduction in somewhere like the United States, Mexico, or China, places where there are significant emissions as well as governments somewhat lax on them. Thus while this victory and those that may be to come are important victories, global emissions reduction will be much harder to achieve.

Image from Shutterstock and ahsan_therock.

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Activism

AnonSec Hackers Release Data Dump, Tried To Crash A Global Hawk Drone In The Pacific

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The AnonSec hacker group released a 250GB data dump and claimed it tried to cause a Global Hawk Drone to crash in the Pacific Ocean, according to the International Business Times. The hackers gained flight logs, employee personal information and video footage from the $222 million drone.

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The data dump included names, phone numbers and email addresses of 2,414 NASA employees, 631 videos from radar feeds and aircraft, and 2,143 flight logs. The dump also included a “zine,” a self-published paper, explaining the technical vulnerabilities the group was able to hack.

How They Did It

AnonSec stated that in 2013 it bought an “initial foothold” from a hacker who had knowledge of NASA servers, then started trying to find out how many computers they could break into and hijack. The administrator credentials for remotely controlling NASA computers and servers were left at default. Hence, it took the hackers no time to penetrate the network and get additional login data using a hidden packet sniffer.

AnonSec image

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The hackers mapped NASA’s internal network over several months, uncovering details of a wide range of private and public missions, aircraft and airbases. They uncovered video footage relating to Global Hawk drones as well as Operation Ice Bridge polar ice research mission in 2012 and 2013.

The videos show drones taking off on a NASA runway, in addition to aerial footage of big chunks of ice. Flight logs display GPS coordinates, sensor readings and aircraft models.

AnonSec said it infiltrated networks at the Goddard Space Flight Center, the Glenn Research Center and the Dryden Research Center. It was also able to gain full root access to three network-attack storage (NAS) devices gathering aircraft flight log back-ups.

The hackers then programmed the NAS devices to send a copy of all flight logs to their server which is outside the NASA network. In examining the flight logs, the hackers recognized the data included NASA Global Hawk drones’ pre-planned route files. When a drone mission took off, drone operators uploaded flight paths. Hence, the hackers knew they could replace the Global Hawk drone flight file which would cause the drone to deviate from its set flight path and do whatever the hackers wished.

AnonSec wrote that several of its members disagreed on this course of action out of concern for being called terrorists for possibly crashing a $222.7 million U.S. drone, but they continued along this path. The group included a screenshot of how they attempted to deviate the flight path to cause the Global Hawk to crash into the Pacific Ocean.

Ground Control Responds

The Ground Control drone operators noticed it deviated from its flight path and manually accessed it via satellite to redirect it from crashing, AnonSec noted.

NASA then realized the hacking and took measures to inspect its network. NASA changed passwords and patched the vulnerabilities, keeping the hackers out for good.

AnonSec wrote that NASA has been breached more than most people can remember and that the recent hack was not focused at first on drone data and upper atmosphere chemical samples. The original NASA breach was not even planned, “it was caught up in a gozi virus spread.”

AnonSec stated that people might find the poor security surprising, but based on the hackers’ experience, it is pretty standard. Once the main lines of defense are breached, propagating through the network is “pretty much smooth sailing” as long as access is maintained.

Also read: Watch the SpaceX Falcon 9 makes an almost-successful crash landing

Real Goal: Climate Change

AnonSec alerted Infowars, the home of the Alex Jones Internet radio news show, about the zine. Infowars noted the hackers’ main goal was to highlight the U.S. government’s use of climate engineering methods like geoengineering and cloud seeding to manipulate the climate and cause more rain to fall to fight carbon emissions.

AnonSec claimed in 2014 to have hacked an NSA drone and has hacked Indonesian, Turkish and Israeli commerce and government websites for political reasons.

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Climate Change

Spain May Be Targeting a Resurgence as a Renewable Energy Leader

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Following its crippling economic crisis that inevitably led to the country losing ground in its status as a global leader in renewable energy production, Spain is looking to prioritize the sector rather than decimating it.

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The world knows about Spain’s staggering economic crisis, a downturn in its economy that the country is now starting to climb out of. A lesser known fact could make for insightful reading. Spain, with its 300 days of sunshine and a landscape that receive plenty of winds was the world leader in solar and wind energy production between 2007-08, the year before the global financial crisis. As reported by AFP, the year was also one where a decade-long property bubble burst, resulting in previous subsidiaries and benefits granted to renewable energy adopters being reversed with the government also going back on its promises.

Speaking to the publication, Jorge Puebla, a 41-year-old firefighter and father of two who made a substantial renewable energy investment had damning words for the government at the time.

They ruined my life.

In 2007, Puebla and his wife invested a million euros ($1.1 million) in a solar energy farm in the north eastern region of Spain. Puebla’s parents presented themselves as the guarantors for a bank loan that saw the couple borrow 800,000 euros from a bank. The idea for investing in renewable energy was an attractive proposition at the time, during the reign of the Socialist government in power.

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Producers of solar energy were guaranteed a “solar tariff” of up to 44 cents per kilowatt-hour for their electricity, a slab that was promised for 25 years. At such returns, the borrowing couple could
comfortably repay their loan payments of 8,400 euros. However, a budget deficit forced the government to cut its promised subsidies and state aid was completely take down when the conservative party rode to power in the next term in 2011.

WindmillPuebla’s unfortunate tale is one that is shared by thousands in Spain. At the height of its status as the top global producer of solar energy, Spain’s solar power sector employed 35,000 people in 2008. Now, Spain only employs 5,000 people, according to Jose Donoso, the head of Spain’s chief solar lobby group UNEF (Unión Española Fotovoltaica).

In a remarkable figure that confirms the extent of the economic crisis and its impact, Spain only added 22 megawatts of photovoltaics installations last year, compared to 2,270 megawatts achieved by Great Britain. The wind energy industry also lost half its jobs in the past eight years due to the government’s shift in stance and the economic crisis, with zero wind power installations added so far this year. The situation is so dire that Abengoa, Spain’s most prominent renewable energy company which employs over 27,000 people from around the world is close to filing bankruptcy.

Heikki Willstedt, Spain’s Wind Energy Association policy director explained the year so far:

2015 marks the lowest point in the development of renewables in the past 20 years in Spain.

She notes the importance of the next few years, while stating that “Spain must make up for lost time and fulfil its goals for 2020.”

One of those goals include Spain’s commitment to achieve 20% of its energy demands via renewable energy. In its current course, Spain is at 15%.

Also read: A World Where Solar Land is More Valued than Farm Land

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made a pledge at the World Climate Conference 2015 (COP21) to mandate a “law on climate change,” if re-elected. Rajoy has previously spoken against renewable energy, claiming it to be far too expensive for it to be feasible.

Despite the slowest year yet in expanding on renewable energy installations in the past two decades, Spain is still the third biggest exporter of wind power in the world and the fifth largest producer.

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Climate Change

Private Clean Energy Technology Group Announced by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg

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In a Facebook post today, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife Priscilla Chan have joined former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates in launching a Zuckerbergnew initiative. Dubbed the “Breakthrough Energy Coalition”, the founders will look to support companies that are working on zero-carbon clean technology solutions around the world.

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The timing of the announcement comes during a time when the U.N. Climate Control Conference takes place in Paris this week. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a private group of investors made up of the likes of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO; Jack Ma, Founder of Ali Baba and Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn among other global billionaire investors. Arguably, the working group has a collective net worth over nearly $400 billion and will privately invest in high-risk research on promising technologies.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition

The coalition notes that current funding initiatives from governments are hugely lacking in meeting energy challenges and demands. An excerpt from the coalition’s website reads:

The existing system of basic research, clean energy investment, regulatory frameworks, and subsidies fails to sufficiently mobilize investment in truly transformative energy solutions for the future.

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Citing the need for an immediate influx in funds and the need for new zero-carbon technologies, a statement notes the coalition “cannot wait for the system to change through normal cycles.”

A paper written by Bill Gates explaining in the innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition can be downloaded here. [PDF]

Mission Innovation

As a separate program, Mission Innovation’s goals are similar to that of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and is expected to be announced in Paris as well. While the Coalition’s primary objective is to accelerate the ideas and progress for clean energy solutions, Mission Innovation’s primary goal is to bring affordable clean energy innovation to the masses.

Mission Innovation participation

A complete breakdown of the participating countries of Mission Innovation and their efforts to contribute to clean energy solutions can be seen here.

As reported by the Washington Post, U.S. officials have confirmed that President Obama and Bill Gates will –along with 20 other countries listed above – announce measures and ‘unprecedented efforts’ to make significant advances in clean energy R&D.

Also read: The World’s First Fully Solar-Powered Airport is Already Here

With Mission Innovation, the world’s biggest economies will commit to double their public investments in basic energy research over the next five years, the publication revealed from official sources in Obama’s administration.

Presently, over 180 countries have already pledged to cut or limit carbon pollution with the aim to curb the rise of global temperatures by over 2 degrees Fahrenheit (3.6 degrees Celsius). The pledges and programs will formally be announced and unveiled during the two-week climate conference that includes over 190 participating nations.

Images from Shutterstock and Mission Innovation.

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