Good News For The Environment

As environmental awareness increases around the world, there is good news about the hole in the ozone layer - it is getting smaller.

By Hugh Finlay

Bonn Climate Conference 

An estimated 25,000 people are expected to go to the UN climate conference at Bonn. Representatives from 195 countries will be there. Bonn is the location of the UN climate change agency, and the former German capital has plenty of conference facilities for the conference.

The conference is making an attempt to be as environmentally conscious as it can. People at the conference will be taken back and forth every day by electric bus. Bicycles will also be provided. Everyone at the conference will be given a refillable bottle for water, to save an estimated 500,000 plastic cups that would have to be used during the conference (November 6-17).

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel is referred to as the "climate chancellor," but Germany still has some way to go to reduce its 40% reliance on coal-fired stations for energy. 

Electric Cars Charge Forward

Daimler, BMW, the Volkswagon Group (includes Audi and Porsche), and Ford have formed a company called Ionity, which will construct 400 fast-charging stations in Europe for electric vehicles by 2020. This is the first stage in the construction of more stations, which will encourage people to buy electric vehicles. There will be a common plug (known as the Combined Charging System standard) for all auto makers in the Ionity scheme, and other car companies have been invited to join. The charging stations will be set up near cafes and gas stations in 3 countries. The CEO of Ionity, Michael Hajesch, said the network of charging stations "plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles." 

This will make it more convenient for electric vehicles to travel long distances, instead of being restricted to the usual short trips near their home where they are usually charged up. The fast-charging stations will allow an electric vehicle to charge up in 30 minutes or less, instead of the usual several hours it can take, to charge up at home. The charging stations will be set up near cafes or service stations. Ionity headquarters will be in Munich employing 50 people.

In Norway almost 30% of the car market is electric, due to government pressure. The electric car market in the rest of Europe has a long way to go to catch up with Norway. Electric vehicles are more expensive to buy, and there are not so many charging places. But it is felt that electric vehicles will become more attractive when the price of batteries drops. 

Ozone Hole Gets Smaller

It's official, the hole in the ozone layer of the Earth is getting smaller. The hole size this summer was 7.5 million square miles, or 19.5 million square kilometers. In the winter the hole gets smaller, and it is now (2017) twice the size of the United States, but that is 1.3 million miles smaller than it was the same time in 2016, and 3.2 million miles smaller than it was in 2015. According to the main Earth scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Paul Newman, stormy weather has stopped bromine and chlorine from attacking the ozone layer during the past 2 years. His tone was optimistic, "It's really small this year. That's a good thing."

Scientists at the United Nations have said that the ozone layer is starting to recover because of the phasing out of certain chemicals that are used in aerosols and refrigerators. This phasing out was a result of a treaty in 1987.


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