from the world's big
Amazon pledges surprisingly bold climate change goals
The move comes one day before more than 1,500 Amazon employees are set to walk off the job as part of the global climate strikes.
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Thursday plans to swiftly combat climate change.
- Some parts of the plan include becoming carbon neutral by 2040, buying 100,000 electric delivery vans and reaching zero emissions by 2030.
- Some Amazon employees say the pledge is good but doesn't go far enough.
Amazon pledged on Thursday to become carbon neutral by 2040 and to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early. The move — announced by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during a presentation with former United Nations climate change chief Christiana Figueres — comes one day ahead of the global climate strike, for which more than 1,500 Amazon employees are expected to walk off the job.
It marks the most sweeping climate promise to date from the world's largest retailer. To launch its new plan, Amazon created and became the first signatory of the Climate Pledge, which calls on businesses to measure and regularly report on greenhouse gas emissions, and also to implement decarbonization and carbon-offset strategies.
"We've been in the middle of the herd on this issue, and we want to move to the forefront," Bezos said.
This said, Amazon plans to:
- Get 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2024, up from its current rate of 40 percent
- Reach zero emissions by 2030
- Become carbon neutral by 2040
- Buy 100,000 electric delivery vans, some of which will begin making deliveries in 2021, with all projected to be in use by 2024, according to Bezos
- Create a $100 million reforestation fund
- Encourage other corporations to sign the Climate Pledge
"Meeting these goals is something that can only be done in collaboration with other large companies because we're all part of each other's supply chains," Bezos said. "We're signing up to help do that."
But Bezos disagreed with the idea that Amazon should no longer sign cloud computing contracts with oil and gas companies, which is one of the demands of Amazon employees planning to walk out on Friday.
"We should and we need to help them instead of vilify them," Bezos said, referring to aiding oil companies in the transition to renewable energies.
The Amazon Employees For Climate Justice Twitter account said the pledge is a "huge win," but added that it's not enough.
Amazon’s Climate Pledge is a huge win for @AMZNforClimate & we’re thrilled at what workers have achieved in under a… https://t.co/hMmXLGhK1v— Amazon Employees For Climate Justice (@Amazon Employees For Climate Justice)1568909210.0
Josué Velázquez Martínez, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Transportation and Logistics and director of its Sustainable Logistics Initiative, told The Washington Post that Amazon's quick delivery services work against sustainability and climate-friendly goals.
"That part is not sustainable at all," Velázquez Martínez said, adding elsewhere that the company should show customers the environmental impacts of next-day shipping to incentivize slower delivery options. "They could do much more in terms of sustainability."
Of course, consumers share some of this responsibility, though many find the convenience hard to turn down.
"With Amazon, it's hard to be disciplined," said University of Washington's Don MacKenzie, who leads the Sustainable Transportation lab. "You've [got] an all-you-can-eat buffet as far as shipping goes. We don't see that price signal telling us, maybe you wait and combine shipments."The global climate strikes are set to happen worldwide from Sept. 20 to 27, with hundreds of employees of other big tech companies, such as Microsoft and Google, planning to participate as well.
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.