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there is a clearly visible trend of public companies (82%) to publish sustainability reports in order to disclose information and be transparent about their sustainability performance. What is also interesting is that there is a growing trend for Small-Medium Enterprises to publish sustainability reports in order to increase their transparency, attract customers and grow their business.

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Since 2011, French photographer Laurent Kronental has been working on an ongoing series documenting life on the edge of Paris in the “grands ensembles.” These monumental housing projects were built between the 1950s and the 1980s on the outskirts of major French cities as answers to a dearth of housing and an influx of foreign migrants. Aging monolithic concrete structures with an almost alien presence in the French landscape, they are a far cry from the Haussmannian apartment blocks that dominate central Paris and the world’s collective imagination about how the French live.

 

Kronental said in an artist’s statement that he is “fascinated by these projects’ ambitious and dated modernistic features” that “are today often stigmatized by the media and marginalized by public opinion.” He hopes that his images provide “sharp contrast with these cliché views” and celebrate the often overlooked “urban veterans who have aged there.”

 

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For the first time, researchers have developed a microchip that is powered by the same energy-rich molecules that fuel living cells, researchers say. Thisadvance could one day lead to devices that are implanted within cells and harvest biological energy to operate.

The molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stores chemical energy and is used inside cells to ferry energy from where it is generated to where it is consumed. The new microchip relies on enzymes known as sodium-potassium ATPases. These molecules break down ATP to release energy the enzymes use to pump sodium and potassium ions across membranes, generating an electrical potential during the process.

“Ion pumps are electronics-like components in living systems,” says study senior author Ken Shepard, an electrical engineer at Columbia University in New York. Shepard and his colleagues detailed their findings in the 7 December edition of the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers embedded sodium-potassium ATPases taken from pig brains in artificial fatty membranes. There were more than 2 million of these molecules active per square millimeter of the membranes, about 5 percent of the density naturally occurring in mammalian nerve fibers.

In the presence of ATP, these ion pumps generated 78 millivolts. A “biocell” of two membranes provides enough of a voltage to operate a CMOS integrated circuit. The ion pumps have a chemical-to-electrical energy conversion efficiency of of 14.9 percent.

“These ion pumps generated an electrical field that we harnessed to power a solid-state system,” Shepard says.

Since ATP is only really found within cells and not in the bloodstream, Shepard cautions that this new system is not a way to power conventional implantable medical devices such as pacemakers.

“However, such a system might power an implant small enough to sit inside a cell,” Shepard says. “Solid-state materials are already used in nanoparticles for various therapeutic and imaging purposes in the body, but those are all just passive materials. Our idea is to make something that would have the ability to compute and act, to make decisions and then actuate in some way.”

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The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has just announced a long-term moratorium on new leases to mine coal on federal lands. While the 18- to 36-month moratorium is in place, the government will launch a suite of studies to determine how to make coal leases fair to U.S. taxpayers and consistent with the country’s commitment to climate change mitigation.

Given the beleaguered state of the U.S. coal industry, it’s probably inaccurate to call today’s announcement the beginning of the end. It’s more like the middle of the end. Or the end of the beginning of the end. Or … you get the idea. By the time the moratorium lifts, there may be little left of the coal industry.

The BLM’s move applies a set of pincers to coal, with economic challenges pressing in on one side and environmental ones tightening on the other.

 

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President Obama laid out four big questions the United States has to answer in his nearly hour-long final State of the Union address Tuesday night. One of those four points: How do we make technology work for us, and not against us, especially when it comes to solving urgent issues like climate change?

“Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there,” Obama said. “We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon … Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

The administration’s push to continue making new discoveries came in a speech optimistic about America’s destiny and referencing the president’s accomplishmentsin office the last seven years.

Obama also presented a vision for our energy future.

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Western European waters are a global hotspot for lingering toxic PCB pollution, research reveals, damaging the reproduction of orcas and dolphins

The UK’s last pod of killer whales is doomed to extinction, with new research revealing western European waters as a global hotspot for the lingering legacy of toxic PCB pollution.

The persistent chemicals, used in electrical equipment but banned in the 1980s, are still leaking into the oceans and were also found in extremely high levels in European dolphins, whose populations are in decline.

The new research analysed levels of PCBs, which are known to harm breeding success and immune systems, in the blubber of more than 1,000 dolphins and killer whales over the last 20 years. The levels found “greatly exceed concentrations at which severe toxic effects are known to occur,” the scientists found.

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The question of what to do is a moral one. What values will shape how we answer it?

 

Climate change presents a severe ethical challenge, forcing us to confront difficult questions as individual moral agents, and even more so as members of larger political systems. It is genuinely global and seriouslyintergenerational, and crosses species boundaries. It also takes place in a setting where existing institutions and theories are weak, proving little ethical guidance.intergenerational, and crosses species boundaries. It also takes place in a setting where existing institutions and theories are weak, proving little ethical guidance.

 

A central component of this perfect moral storm is the threat of a tyranny of the contemporary, a collective action problem in which earlier generations exploit the future by taking modest benefits for themselves now while passing on potentially catastrophic costs later.

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Long-term plans to bring renewable Canadian electricity to the power-hungry markets of southern New England got a big boost when Vermont utility regulators approved a plan to build a 1,000-megawatt transmission line down Lake Champlain and across the state to feed the regional power grid, experts say.

TDI New England is still awaiting its final federal permits before it can begin construction and contracts to deliver power, but the system could become the first piece of a system to supply renewable electricity to Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Unlike the Northern Pass project proposed for northern New Hampshire, the $1.2 billion, privately funded TDI project faced no significant opposition in Vermont, something unusual for the state.

 

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