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Facebook vows to run operations with 100% renewable energy by 2020




San Francisco, Aug 29: Aiming to make its energy-guzzling data centres environment-friendly, Facebook has pledged it would power its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy by the end of 2020.

The social networking giant also said it was committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent in the same time frame.

“In a record-breaking year of corporate renewable energy purchases, Facebook is on track to be one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy. Facebook has signed contracts for over three gigawatts of new solar and wind energy, that includes over 2,500 megawatts in just the past 12 months,” the company wrote in a blog post late on Tuesday.

Notably, tech titans such as Facebook, Google and Amazon consume extraordinary quantities of electricity to power their global networks of data centres and infrastructure across the globe.

Assuming everything goes according to plan, Facebook’s operations around the world will be covered entirely by renewable energy within the next two years.

In 2015, the company had set a goal of supporting 50 per cent of its facilities with renewable energy by the end of 2018.

“We have achieved that goal a year early, by reaching 51 per cent clean and renewable energy in 2017,” the company added.

Last year, the company pledged its support for climate action by supporting the Paris Agreement through the “We Are Still In Initiative”.



EU, Bill Gates launch $115mn clean energy fund in Europe

Maroš Šefcovic, Vice President of the Commission, presided the official Memorandum of Understanding for the BEE which both Gates and Moedas signed.



BillGates Maros Sefcovic

Brussels, Oct 17 : The European Commission and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investment fund led by Microsoft Corporation co-founder Bill Gates, launched on Wednesday a joint project to foster innovation in the energy sector in order to tackle climate change.

The new investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Europe (BEE), is the brainchild of Gates and European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas, Efe news reported.

“With a capitalization of 100 million euros ($115 million), BEE will give a strong signal to markets and investors that the global transition to a modern clean economy is here to stay. With this initiative, the Commission takes action to continue leading in the fight against climate change and to deliver on the Paris Agreement,” the Commission said in a statement.

“As our planet increasingly faces the unpredictable consequences of climate change and resource depletion, urgent action is needed to adapt to a more sustainable model and modernize Europe’s economy and industry,” it added.

Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the Commission, presided the official Memorandum of Understanding for the BEE which both Gates and Moedas signed.

Gates praised the EU for leading the way for clean energy innovation and said the joint venture was bound to attract direct investment so scientists and entrepreneurs could pave the way in the fight against climate change.

Breakthrough Energy sets a goal to ensure basic standards of living are accessible to everyone on the planet without leaving a large carbon footprint in detriment of the environment.

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NGT imposes Rs 50 crore fine on Delhi government

The tribunal also directed the state to shut these units with immediate effect, as they fell under the prohibited list of industrial activities.



Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi, Oct 16 : The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday imposed a fine of Rs 50 crore on the Delhi government for not taking action against illegal, polluting steel-pickling units in the national capital’s residential areas.

“We also direct the Chief Secretary, Delhi, to constitute a three-member team to identify persons responsible who may be liable to be prosecuted and punished for violation of law. A report of the action taken may be furnished to this Tribunal by e-mail within four months,” it said.

Hearing a plea filed by the All India Lokadhikar Sangthan, an NGO seeking the execution of the NGT’s previous order, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel blamed the state government for not closing the industrial units despite its specific directions.

The NGT had directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to take action against stainless steel pickling industries in residential areas as they fell under the prohibited list of industrial activities as per the Delhi Master Plan (DMP), 2021.

The polluting industries functioning at Wazirpur discharged effluents in open drains, which ultimately emptied into the Yamuna river, the plea contended. Under the pretext of decision-making “time is being taken by the Delhi government and the environment is made to suffer continuously,” the NGO argued.

The NGT directed the state to immediately stop the operation of such industries and initiate action for violation of the law.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Media Adviser told IANS that they will wait for a detailed order of the Tribunal before deciding on the future course of action.

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Himalayan quakes: Water-loading plays a role, say geophysicist



Himalayan quakes

Seasonal variations in the “hydrological load” in the Indo-Gangetic plains play a key role in the genesis of Himalayan earthquakes, a team of geophysicists from India and the US have reported.

The Himalayas block the northward monsoonal winds from the Indian Ocean during June to September, resulting in extreme precipitation on the southern slopes that fills up rivers of the Ganges basin, increasing the pressure bearing down on the region.

While it is known that strain built up by the continually converging tectonic plates beneath the Himalayas is responsible for unleashing the earthquakes, the tectonic deformation along this plate boundary “can be significantly influenced by hydrological loading cycles centered in the Indo-Gangetic plains”, the geophysicists report.

The exact interaction between this seasonal (non-tectonic) deformation induced by hydrological load and tectonic deformation along the Himalayan plate boundary has implications for the seismic hazard, but has so far remained elusive.

“We focus on this important issue, and this paper demonstrates how the hydrological load-induced deformation influences the tectonic deformation in the Himalayas and the seismogenesis,” Vineet Gahalaut, Director, National Centre for Seismology, New Delhi, and a co-author, told this correspondent.

Precipitation patterns and associated seasonal water-mass accumulation and mass redistribution by the Himalayan river system dominates regional surface loading along the Himalayan arc and in the adjoining Indo-Gangetic plains. Also, during the winter, snow accumulates in glaciers on the high peaks of the Himalayas.

The researchers explored the seasonal mass oscillations by water storage in Southeast Asia and Himalayan arc region using Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements and data obtained from NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite.

“Our study demonstrates how the deformation induced by hydrological load influences the tectonic deformation of the crust and the uppermost mantle and possibly impacts tectonic processes in the Central Himalaya and adjacent regions,” says the report.

The researchers analysed the seasonal variations in GPS sites and found that these sites are located “close to the “downdip edge” of Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT) — which is the fault that separates the under-thrusting Indian plate from the overlying Himalayan wedge and is the seat of major earthquakes in the Himalayas.

“Thus the influence of hydrological load gets amplified here and leads to seasonal tectonic deformation in the region,” says the report.

According to the authors, GRACE satellite data on water level, regional rainfall and “micro-seismicity” suggest that the non-tectonic seasonal stress perturbations “ultimately influences the timing of central Himalayan earthquakes”.

Besides Gahalaut, scientists from Rourkela’s National Institute of Technology (NIT); University of California, Berkeley; University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; and the National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, were involved in the study, led by NIT’s Bhaskar Kundu.

“Non-tectonic hydrological load over Southeast Asia is the second-largest one in the world, after the Amazon basin, and it significantly influences the tectonic processes in the Himalayan plate boundary,” Kundu told this correspondent in an email.

“These non-tectonic signals need to be identified and taken into account in order to improve our understanding of tectonic processes,” Kundu added.

(K.S. Jayaraman is a veteran science journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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