Thursday, June 1, 2017
US quits Paris climate deal; Dutch setting up hyperloop test centre; Diarrhoea deaths down by a third
1 US quits Paris climate deal (Oliver Milman, David Simith & Damian Carrington in The Guardian) Donald Trump has confirmed that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, in effect ensuring the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases will quit the international effort to address dangerous global warming.
The US will remove itself from the deal, joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not party to the Paris agreement. There will be no penalty for leaving, with the Paris deal based upon the premise of voluntary emissions reductions by participating countries.
“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to the US and its citizens, the US will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accords or a really entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the US,” the president said.
But Italy, France and Germany issued a joint statement shortly after Trump’s speech saying they believed the treaty could not be renegotiated. Trump said at the White House: “The fact that the Paris deal hamstrings the US while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries should expel any doubt as to why foreign lobbyists should wish to keep our beautiful country tied up and bound down … That’s not going to happen while I’m president, I’m sorry.”
He added: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, issued a rare statement saying the new administration had joined “a small handful of nations that reject the future”. But he said that US states, cities and businesses “will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got”.
In 2015, nearly 200 countries agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the runaway climate change that would occur should temperatures spiral 2C or more above the pre-industrial era.
2 Dutch setting up hyperloop test centre (Khaleej Times) The Dutch team that won this year's edition of the competition held by entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX to develop superfast hyperloop transport technology is setting up a full-scale testing centre for the technology.
A hyperloop is a shuttle that travels on magnetic rails, somewhat like a train, but which runs in a tube with little or no air. In theory, hyperloops could allow travel faster than the speed of sound. "People were dreaming already of transporting humans and cargo (in hyperloops) from the 1860s, so the concept is not that new," said Tim Houter, co-founder of Hardt Global Mobility, the company set up to commercialise the Dutch team's technology.
Hardt grew out of the competition team from the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft), which beat teams from MIT and the Technical University of Munich to win the all-around design and construction award in January.
With the help of several investors, among them TU Delft, the Dutch national railway NS, and construction company BAM, Hardt has built a 30 metre tube and is preparing to fit it with rails and the shuttle it has designed. Hardt has $675,000 in funding for the initial rounds of testing, with plans to raise more to build a high-speed test line by 2019. Houter's ambition is to break ground on a commercial hyperloop between Amsterdam and Paris by 2021.
3 Diarrhoea deaths down by a third (BBC) The number of children dying worldwide of diarrhoea fell by a third between 2005 and 2015, researchers have found. The Lancet study says better access to clean water and sanitation is key, with fewer weak and malnourished children becoming infected. New vaccines have also had a positive impact.
However, diarrhoea is still the fourth-biggest killer of children globally, with almost 500,000 a year dying before their fifth birthday. This figure could well be a significant under-estimate because of the lack of data in sub-Saharan Africa, where most cases occur.
Diarrhoea is also indirectly responsible for large numbers of deaths, through exacerbating the effects of other diseases, such as pneumonia and measles. The US researchers, who analysed data from the new Global Burden of Disease study, found well over a third (42%) of deaths happen in Nigeria and India.