Scorch the Earth – Part 1


Check the time, Donald…It’s five minutes to Armageddon. And from the looks of things, things seem pretty bleak – which is mainly because they’re terrible.

Mercifully for you, although the Mainstream Media stubbornly refuses to look into a single one of hundreds of Sworn Statements regarding voting irregularities, ignores the existence of Project Veritas and incessantly repeats “democracy” consists of counting votes rather than verifying them, the American electorate has proved to be impressively resistant to Controlled News propaganda.

Approximately 50% of all voters think the balloting was fraudulent, about 70% of Republicans are convinced cheating occurred, and even 10% of Democrats begrudge Biden stole the office.

Sadly, in the United States the truth means virtually nothing…just ask the Supreme Court.

Tempus Fugit Don, Tempus Fugit

Now Uncle Joe – The Great Pretender – has been crowned victor by the Electoral College there is only one week left for you to leave your mark on History. Whatever else you may believe, you likely will not have another opportunity to do so. Indeed, there is talk the Congress may forbid you to run again.


Your enemies intend (in this order) to humiliate you with investigations, to attack you through your family and if these do not succeed, to have a trial after which you will be bankrupted or imprisoned.

While you display remarkably sharp instincts blunted by incredibly dull fortitude, below are all you need to be bound for glory. Heed these words, Don – You may not have four years to wait.

Step 1 – Pardons, Pardons, Pardons

There used to be a popular phrase when going up against a powerful adversary, “Oh yeah, you and what army?” It means if you challenge the status quo you had better bring some might to the match.

You are going to need stalwart friends. Get that army by pardoning individuals who can help you most…

The Easy Ones:

Julian Assange – The founder of Wikileaks is currently imprisoned on bogus charges which basically amount to “practicing journalism.” No one alleges Assange stole any documents, infiltrated any governments, or did anything other than publish what others gave him.

His punishment is mainly deterrent – warning similarly honest men to keep quiet.  You need to pardon him.

Many American citizens think it and even the Australian Prime Minister thinks it. Assange and his organization will be invaluable to you from an Intelligence standpoint.

The Proud Boys – Brains always needs brawn (no offence to the PBs). These fellows are organized, disciplined and patriotic. They come in all colors, for the record.

Many have been accused of crimes when in fact most of what they have done is defend themselves against anti-social elements intent on causing trouble. Police allow BLM to riot yet arrest the PB.

You need to pardon (probably preemptively) dozens or even hundreds, including founder Gavin McInnis. If former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter can pardon their brothers, you can pardon your Boys.

The Hard Ones:

Ted Kaczynski – You need strategists, especially asymmetrical ones. Kaczynski is a criminal and he did kill people. His motivation was the de-industrialization of society and he wrote an entire manifesto about it.

He is also an intellect surpassing most alive. That makes him uniquely of worth to you. In normal times such a pardon would be unconscionable – We do not live in normal times.

The United States supports drug cartels, terrorists and abusive regimes all over the world for the sake of expediency and this would be little different. Claim Kaczynski is nearly 80 years old and has been in jail more than 20 years. Then use him to figure out what none of the rest of us has thought of yet.

Eric Rudolph – Another tough call is the Abortion Bomber. Rudolph is of use because he was largely supported by his fellow citizens until the FBI pinned the Olympic Park blast on him.

The man was on the run – in a limited geographic area – for years without the Feds getting close. This was because several residents in the area would leave him food and clothing on their porches. They supported his cause even if they did not support his methods.

To the degree Rudolph is supposedly guilty of the Olympic Park bombing…well, one can only envision some Agents in an office with heels kicked up on desks theorizing, “How can we get a guy so many people love?…What else do people love?…The Olympics!…Hey, we still haven’t solved that one either…What if we put the two together and…” – Voila!

Once Rudolph got the blame his support in the community was gone, always a suspicious confluence.

The Essential Ones:

The Capitol Clambake Crew – Any arrested during the January 6 Patriot Party at Capitol Dome gets a pardon. No exceptions. (Even the guy in the bearskin overalls.) All of them get a pass.

For one thing, you enticed everyone to make a show of force so it’s on you to save them decades in Federal Prison. For another, you will go down in History as Benedict Don if you throw your most loyal (if impetuous) supporters to the wolves. For yet one more, you should know the whole thing appears to have been a trap (with police politely ushering in Patriots at one door as they fought them at another).

Do the right thing…though you will catch Inferno for it, so do it the last minute.

Step 2 – Declassify Everything

Early on in your Presidency you wanted to declassify the files on the John F. Kennedy assassination. Later, you succumbed to the pressure of the Bureaucrats who killed him. (Wait? Are we still pretending it was Oswald and that he wasn’t an Operative?)

Be that as it may, you have around seven days (not quite “In May”…) to deal the Deep State an embarrassing blow. Moreover, it does not have to end there.

Next up you need to release the sealed files on old Martin Luther King. You know, the ones concerning how he raped his own parishioners? Or, if you want to keep his debauchery secret you might at least put out the plethora of paperwork concerning his work as a Communist activist (if not paid agent)? What about his illegitimate children? (Oops, I may have spilled too many black beans there…)

What about the death of Marilyn Monroe? Dump the recordings. You know which ones. Only the naïve and the neophytes still cling to the notion Robert Kennedy wasn’t visiting that night. After all, we have multiple eyewitnesses from ambulance workers to policemen on the beat, even if some politicians from California covered for him. Put it all out and let the world know.

Of course, that is only the hoary history. What say you about penumbra weapons? Or the clone department? How about…well, you get my drift…

Step 3 – Appointments Galore

Several days may not seem like a long time, but it can be a lifetime when you trust the right comrades.

Ever heard of the term, “Temporary Appointment”? First up – Fire everyone. And I mean, everyone. (Start with Jared and Ivanka.) You have solid political insights but are about the worst judge of character I have ever encountered. There was scarcely a solitary person in your White House you could trust.

Second – Take one morning this week and put out three dozen “Temporary Appointments.” In fact, get creative and do a hundred…or more.  Here are some fresh faces for you: Jim Goad, Gavin McInness, Nick Fuentes, Michelle Malkin, Darren Beatty, Alex Jones, etc. Pick from anyone and everyone who actually gave you support and put them in places to do some real damage to the Deep State for the next week.

Otherwise, you don’t even have to be drastic. Pick a hundred worthies who bolstered you from outside Washington during the four years everyone in the White House tore you down – Then make every single one a “Temporary Appointment” or “Special Envoy” or “Acting Ambassador” spanning the globe.

The sheer hilarity of watching 100 America Firsters take up residence in Ambassadorial Mansions around the world for a week would make all the heartache of your Presidency of Missed Opportunity worth it.

Final Thoughts – These were the Easy Ones, Next time are the Hard Choices

Okay Don, get on these right away and I’ll get on to providing what you need to make your final week in office count.

Check tomorrow and we can really have some fun together.

Guy Somerset writes from somewhere in America

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Earth to reach temperature tipping point in next 20 to 30 years, new study finds — ScienceDaily


Earth’s ability to absorb nearly a third of human-caused carbon emissions through plants could be halved within the next two decades at the current rate of warming, according to a new study in Science Advances by researchers at Northern Arizona University, the Woodwell Climate Research Center and the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Using more than two decades of data from measurement towers in every major biome across the globe, the team identified a critical temperature tipping point beyond which plants’ ability to capture and store atmospheric carbon — a cumulative effect referred to as the “land carbon sink” — decreases as temperatures continue to rise.

The terrestrial biosphere — the activity of land plants and soil microbes — does much of Earth’s “breathing,” exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen. Ecosystems across the globe pull in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and release it back to the atmosphere via the respiration of microbes and plants. Over the past few decades, the biosphere has generally taken in more carbon than it has released, mitigating climate change.

But as record-breaking temperatures continue to spread across the globe, this may not continue; the NAU, Woodwell Climate and Waikato researchers have detected a temperature threshold beyond which plant carbon uptake slows and carbon release accelerates.

Lead author Katharyn Duffy, a postdoctoral researcher at NAU, noticed sharp declines in photosynthesis above this temperature threshold in nearly every biome across the globe, even after removing other effects such as water and sunlight.

“The Earth has a steadily growing fever, and much like the human body, we know every biological process has a range of temperatures at which it performs optimally, and ones above which function deteriorates,” Duffy said. “So, we wanted to ask, how much can plants withstand?”

This study is the first to detect a temperature threshold for photosynthesis from observational data at a global scale. While temperature thresholds for photosynthesis and respiration have been studied in the lab, the Fluxnet data provide a window into what ecosystems across Earth are actually experiencing and how they are responding.

“We know that the temperature optima for humans lie around 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), but we in the scientific community didn’t know what those optima were for the terrestrial biosphere,” Duffy said.

She teamed up with researchers at Woodwell Climate and the University of Waikato who recently developed a new approach to answer that question: MacroMolecular Rate Theory (MMRT). With its basis in the principles of thermodynamics, MMRT allowed the researchers to generate temperature curves for every major biome and the globe.

The results were alarming.

The researchers found that temperature “peaks” for carbon uptake — 18 degrees C for the more widespread C3 plants and 28 degrees C for C4 plants — are already being exceeded in nature, but saw no temperature check on respiration. This means that in many biomes, continued warming will cause photosynthesis to decline while respiration rates rise exponentially, tipping the balance of ecosystems from carbon sink to carbon source and accelerating climate change.

“Different types of plants vary in the details of their temperature responses, but all show declines in photosynthesis when it gets too warm,” said NAU co-author George Koch.

Right now, less than 10 percent of the terrestrial biosphere experiences temperatures beyond this photosynthetic maximum. But at the current rate of emissions, up to half the terrestrial biosphere could experience temperatures beyond that productivity threshold by mid-century — and some of the most carbon-rich biomes in the world, including tropical rainforests in the Amazon and Southeast Asia and the Taiga in Russia and Canada, will be among the first to hit that tipping point.

“The most striking thing our analysis showed is that the temperature optima for photosynthesis in all ecosystems were so low,” said Vic Arcus, a biologist at the University of Waikato and co-author of the study. “Combined with the increased rate of ecosystem respiration across the temperatures we observed, our findings suggest that any temperature increase above 18 degrees C is potentially detrimental to the terrestrial carbon sink. Without curbing warming to remain at or below the levels established in the Paris Climate Accord, the land carbon sink will not continue to offset our emissions and buy us time.”

Funding for this research was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (grant NNX12AK12G), National Science Foundation (NSF) East-Asia Pacific Summer Institute Fellowship (1614404), the Royal Society of New Zealand Foreign Partnership Programme (EAP- UOW1601) and the New Zealand Marsden Fund (grant 16-UOW-027). This work used eddy covariance data acquired and shared by the FLUXNET community, including AmeriFlux, AfriFlux, AsiaFlux, CarboAfrica, CarboEuropeIP, CarboItaly, CarboMont, ChinaFlux, Fluxnet-Canada, GreenGrass, ICOS, KoFlux, LBA, NECC, OzFlux-TERN, TCOS-Siberia and USCCC networks.

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Why on earth would I want to engage a lawyer?


When worrying about cashflow, pipelines, supply and customer issues, very few small businesses think it a good idea to bring a lawyer into the advisory mix. After all, aren’t lawyers cost centres who drain money from business only to strangle business potential with legal naysaying?

Countering the impression of lawyers as cost drainers and naysayers can be difficult. This legal reputation and brand did not materialise out of thin air but rather has its source in lived experience. From a lawyer’s perspective, some of my colleagues have warranted the cost centre and naysayer brand.

However, many commercially-minded legal advisers provide valuable and cost-effective advice that enhances business strategies, plans, offerings and minimises the effects of disputes. These lawyers many times assist businesses in increasing revenue potential and saving costs.

The problem for small-business owners is finding the time, and sometimes the inclination, to sort the wheat from the chaff? Given the number of lawyers out there who profess to be commercial lawyers, how do you find the lawyer that best suits your business needs?

Here
are a few tips when searching for that legal trusted adviser who enhances your
business:

  1. At the outset look for a lawyer who you would trust to provide valuable legal advice on an ongoing basis.
  2. Do a bit of research before seeking out a lawyer. Perhaps speak to friends, family or other business associates who have used the services of lawyers previously. Word of mouth recommendations are often the best recommendations.
  3. Before engaging a lawyer, it is best to have an introductory conversation to work out whether you have the right personality fit. Do you feel comfortable talking to the lawyer and would you be comfortable in revealing confidential information to them including your business aspirations and/or troubles? If at the outset you feel uncomfortable talking to a specific lawyer, then this person might be the wrong personality fit for you.
  4. During your first meeting gauge whether the lawyer is demonstrating an interest in you and your business. Has the lawyer asked you any questions about the background to your business, the current state of your business, your risk appetite and future plans? Is this someone you would like to work with on an ongoing basis? If you feel that you are being pigeon-holed and undervalued then it is worth looking elsewhere for your legal advice.
  5. Be forthright about the type of budget you have for legal fees upfront so that realistic expectations can be set. That said if you have not engaged legal services previously be guided by market rates for lawyers when setting up your legal budget. If your budget is unrealistic, you are unlikely to find a competent lawyer willing to take on your business as a client.
  6. Be forthright about the type of services you are seeking and don’t be afraid to be honest if you are not completely satisfied with the advice provided. Your legal adviser should be able to have frank discussions with you about the reasons for providing advice and to discuss various options based on your risk appetite that might best suit your business but might not be the most risk-averse legal option.
  7. If you are unhappy about the service to be provided or being provided it is best to walk away sooner rather than later. It often takes time to find a lawyer that best suits the business needs – but when you find the right fit the resulting relationship will be invaluable to your business.

Elise Margow, Founder, Legally Speaking



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Prince Charles asks companies to join ‘Earth charter’


The Prince of Wales is urging firms to back a more sustainable future and do more to protect the planet, as he marks 50 years of environmental campaigning.

Prince Charles wants companies to join what he is calling “Terra Carta” – or Earth charter.

It aims to raise £7.3bn to invest in the natural world.

Terra Carta will harness the “irreplaceable power of nature”, the prince will say in his virtual address to the One Planet Summit on Monday.

He hopes the new charter will help “reunite people and planet”.

He is due to say: “I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilise the innovation, scale and resources that are required to transform our global economy.”

In his foreword to Terra Carta, the prince writes: “If we consider the legacy of our generation, more than 800 years ago, Magna Carta inspired a belief in the fundamental rights and liberties of people.

“As we strive to imagine the next 800 years of human progress, the fundamental rights and value of nature must represent a step-change in our ‘future of industry’ and ‘future of economy’ approach.”

Charles has previously said that people thought he was “completely dotty” when he started talking about environmental issues in the 1970s.



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Bulls brought back to earth by plucky Mariners in home opener


It’s their first two-from-two start to a season in 13 years and has flung them into unfamiliar territory: top of the A-League ladder, at least for the time being.

“It’s reward for the hard work that’s been done behind the scenes,” coach Alen Stajcic said.

Mark Milligan and Aleksandar Susnjar after the Mariners’ second goal condemned Macarthur FC to a first A-League defeat.Credit:Getty

“I know everyone says that … but it’s such a small club with limited resources. For us to be able to fight and scrap and show the resilience we did and the heart and spirit just shows what a football group can do to overcome the odds.”

It was a disappointing comedown for the Bulls, who lacked imagination in attack and were too often exposed in defence despite being willed on by 4538 cowbell-jangling supporters.

“They didn’t ring enough, because we didn’t give them enough reason to ring them,” coach Ante Milicic said. “We were very slow, sluggish, poor tempo, couldn’t get into the game. We wasted 45 [the first] minutes … in the end, we got what we deserved.”

Macarthur might be the A-League’s newest addition but the Mariners also feel like a new team. Wooden-spooners in four of the past five seasons, coach Alen Stajcic’s men appear to have a newfound steel and spirit about them, and no longer play like pushovers.

Even better, they did it with five starters under the age of 23, while all five substitutes were of the same age bracket.

“From a national team perspective, in five or 10 years’ time, COVID’s going to be the biggest blessing we’ve ever had,” Stajcic said. “We’ll reap these rewards down the track of all these kids that are now getting opportunities.”

The match quickly settled into a clear pattern: the Bulls dominating possession but struggling to craft any genuine openings, while the Mariners sat back and occasionally threatened on the break.

That’s how the opener came about in the 35th minute. Macarthur turned the ball over and the visitors pounced, with the lively Josh Nisbet surging down the right flank. He cut the ball back to the top of the penalty box, where De Silva beat Loic Puyo to the ball and poked home his finish. Adam Federici, the hero of their win over the Wanderers on Wednesday night, could do nothing about it.

Eight minutes later and Central Coast almost struck again. A long ball from Oliver Bozanic unleashed the dangerous Alou Kuol, who had acres of space in front of him and Aleksandar Susnjar on his tail. This time Federici managed to get a hand to Kuol’s scuffed finish but it was another warning for the Bulls.

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Macarthur’s best chance came with 15 minutes to go when Ivan Franjic forced a strong save from Mark Birighitti, who tipped his long-distance shot wide, before substitute Lachie Rose spotted Matt Derbyshire with a cross late in the second half, only for the Englishman to balloon his header over the target.

With so many men committed forward in search of a leveller, there was always a danger the Bulls would let in another – and so it proved in the 89th minute when Lewis Miller sent Daniel Bouman into space down the right wing through another lethal Mariners counter-attack.

Bouman had all the time in the world to pick out Smylie with his pull-back, and the 20-year-old made no mistake, scoring his first A-League goal and sealing three vital points for his side.

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Why an Aussie NBA star’s brother flew around the globe to play for Flat Earth FC


“It was frustrating,” said the quietly-spoken midfielder. “I was just looking for a way out of Melbourne, out of lockdown.”

Eventually, Maker found one. And it landed him a contract with arguably the most peculiar club in all of world football: Flat Earth FC.

Flat Earth FC bills itself as “the first football club in the world that strives to reveal the truth of the world we live in.”Credit:Instagram

Most clubs represent the city in which they are based, and nothing more. Others – like one of Maker’s ex-teams, South Melbourne, or Chilean outfit CD Palestino – were created by migrants to honour their ethnic identities and help them integrate in a new country.

Then there’s St. Pauli, the German cult outfit with explicit left-wing political values, and whose supporters are stridently anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-homophobic.

But Flat Earth FC, who play in Spain’s fourth division, is the first club to solely represent an idea – the conspiracy theory that the world is not round, and that the powers that be are trying to obscure this truth from the masses.

The man behind it is Javi Poves, a former centre-back who came through the academies of Atletico Madrid and Rayo Vallecano, and made his La Liga debut for Sporting Gijón in 2011 but retired at the age of 24, disenchanted with how capitalism was destroying football.

“When I was young I played for the love of the game but the more you get to know how soccer works, the more you notice it is all about money, that’s its rotten, and it takes away a little of the sheen,” he said at the time.

A self-declared “non-conformist”, Poves has always been a slightly off-kilter character. He would read books like Karl Marx’s Das Kapital or Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf during training camps, bus trips and flights. He also refused to use a bank account to receive his wages because he didn’t want other people speculating with his money.

After hanging up his boots, Poves travelled the world, and in 2016 he returned to Madrid and became involved with a club called Mostoles Balompié. Along the way, he started to ask himself questions. Like, if the world is round, why does water not curve?

“No-one gave me a valid answer,” he told Copa 90 last year. “They told me ‘it’s because of gravity’ … yes, there’s gravity, but at what scale does it curve water? Because it isn’t curved in a glass of water, nor in my bathtub, nor in my neighbourhood’s swimming pool, nor in a lake.

“So at which scale does it curve? ‘On a planetary scale’, they say. Can it be proven? No, so we’ve got a problem.” (Scientists have proved it, for the record).

Flat Earth FC has built a small but very loyal fanbase of believers in Spain and around the world.

Flat Earth FC has built a small but very loyal fanbase of believers in Spain and around the world.Credit:YouTube

After guiding them to Spain’s fourth division, Poves – who by this stage ascended to the presidency of Mostoles Balompié – decided to change the club’s name to Flat Earth FC, which bills itself on its website as “the first football club in the world that strives to reveal the truth of the world we live in.”

Flat Earth FC's mascot is a nod to another conspiracy theory: that the moon landings never happened.

Flat Earth FC’s mascot is a nod to another conspiracy theory: that the moon landings never happened.Credit:Twitter

“I’m gonna use Flat Earth FC as a tool to expand the idea behind this movement, in the same way Real Madrid use their club’s image to get a certain position, in the same way Barcelona – now more than ever – use their club with political purposes,” Poves said. “I am going to use my club to make sure people reconsider their lives.”

Many thought it was a publicity stunt, but Poves was – and remains – deadly serious. The advantage of being a club based on a conspiracy theory, however, is that fans can come from all corners of the globe – and with followers from countries including Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia and, yes, even Australia, Poves believes Flat Earth FC is probably in the top 10 Spanish clubs in terms of international support.

They even have a mascot – an astronaut in a tight-fitting silver suit, a cheeky nod to those who believe the moon landings were faked – and a very active home end full of loyal terraplanistas (Spanish for … well, you can guess what) who sing songs about how the Spanish minister of science is a liar, NASA is fake, and how the Mayans were right all along.

“There’s plenty of fans,” said Maker, who has been in Madrid since the start of September and was awaiting his international clearance to begin playing when he spoke to the Herald.

“They have drums, people, fans turning up, making noise, singing. Even with the restrictions they’re at games – it surprised me how big the fanbase is.”

So what was his reaction when he discovered the team offering him a lifeline was called Flat Earth FC? “I was like, ‘oh, OK, cool’,” Maker said.

“I didn’t know anything about the club. I’m just worried about football to be honest. The rest of it – the name and what they’re about and all that – it doesn’t really mean anything to me.

“[Poves] is a good guy, a great guy. He only asked me, ‘what are your thoughts on the earth – is it flat?’ and that’s it. I was like, ‘uh, yeah, I dunno’. It was kind of a joke.”

Thon Maker playing for Milwaukee in the NBA.

Thon Maker playing for Milwaukee in the NBA.Credit:David Zalubowski

Oblivious he may be, but Maker is very happy with his decision to move to Spain. He rates the standard of play in the Tercera División as “above A-League”, firmly believes Flat Earth FC could very well contend for promotion to the third tier, and is hopeful his tenure can springboard him to bigger and better things.

“The standard is something else here,” Maker said. “It’s a fully professional set-up. The boys are good. It’s just normal, like any other club. Completely normal.”

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After the green rush: ‘Feelgood’ ESG funds to sustain Earth and your finances in 2021


F

EELGOOD firms which put the environment, society and corporate governance – the holy trinity of ESG – at the heart of their operations were the big winners to emerge from 2020’s Covid-19 battered economy.

Equity tracking funds (ETFs) which focus their investments on ethical stocks recovered from the pandemic at a pace and scale which left other sectors standing.

“Covid was the moment,” one senior investment manager told the Standard. “Covid was the stress test for ESG. Before then, people were cynical, saying ESG was a fair-weather phenomenon. They’d say ’just you wait until the next recession, everyone will hunker back in sovereign bonds.’  

“Instead, valuations of companies with a strong green ethos – like green energy, EV [electric vehicles] – just blew the roof off.”

For seasoned stock-watchers, it marked the point at which ESG companies began to make sound investment sense in terms of equity valuation, and smashed the myth that investors must forgo returns to invest in a responsible way.

In the US, the Invesco Solar fund posted a 301% year-to-date return.  The First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge Green Energy climbed 164.9% to an all-time high of $68.24.

Meanwhile, the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index (NEX) – which follows UK and EU clean energy firms – zinged back from a low of $156 in early March to sit above $450, a 152% bounce. 

Three of the UK’s top 10 performing funds also had a focus on sustainability: Baillie Gifford’s Positive Change and Global Stewardship funds, and the Guinness Sustainable Energy fund.

( WHI )

Among those leading the NEX index in the UK is Ceres Power, a fuel cell technology firm spun out of London’s Imperial College some 20 years ago.  

‘It’s almost the perfect storm’

The technology is complicated but the numbers are easier to grasp. Starting 2020 just shy of 250p, by late December its share price was up to a breathtaking at 1270p. 

Ceres, based in Horsham, has licensed its clean energy technology to engineering giants including Germany’s Bosch and Chinese engine maker Weichai and added 100 staff through the pandemic, taking its global workforce to around 350.

Phil Caldwell, a one-time chemical engineer for ICI and now its CEO, said:  “A lot of people think this is just hype in the share price because ESG is hot, but you have to look beyond that to the fundamentals.  

“It’s almost the perfect storm. The disruption that’s happening in conventional industries like automotives, oil & gas, and utilities having to decarbonise and move towards electrification. It has all driven a market for our technology like never before.

“ESG is becoming a mainstream criteria rather than one on the periphery. On top of that, you have all the major economies looking for a green bounceback from the pandemic while the financial markets are looking at opportunities for growth while there’s very few around.  

“So most oil and gas companies have probably halved in the period we have gone up by a factor of four or five.”

There are two key drivers at play, say asset managers. On the one hand, socially-conscious investors are being more vocal, demanding companies within their portfolios pay more than just lip service to ESG concerns.  

On the other, stricter regulation backed by a tightening of rules on corporate disclosure is looming across Europe, Asia and, with the arrival of Joe Biden, in the US.

Covid was the moment, it was the stress-test

Local factors are also at play. In the UK, Brexit is a helping to push forward an environmental arms race with Boris Johnson’s government putting investment in green technology at the forefront of its pandemic recovery plans to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while forging the  ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’. 

While in the EU, companies are feeling the growing influence of the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) a network of central banks and financial supervisors which aims to accelerate the scaling up of green finance.

(

An activist blocks off BP’s offices in a 2019 protest

/ PA )

The impact on the broader investment landscape has caused even giants of industry to take notice, with a raft of firms from BP and Shell to Unliever, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca announcing moves towards net-zero emissions across their operations and supply chains.

Nestle, the world’s largest food producer and a frequent target of activists, has pledged $2bn to reduce plastic in packaging and committed some $3.6bn to slash its carbon emissions.  

Geoffrey Smith, contributor at Investing.com, said: “It costs a lot of money to stay on the right side of the ESG crowd. However, management at Nestle obviously consider that it will cost shareholders more in the long run if it doesn’t.

“Nestle cannot afford to be dumped by such funds for doing too little. The announcement looks expensive, but unavoidable,” he added.  

Steven Fine, boss of investment house Peel Hunt, agrees. He said: “ESG is absolutely real and is the speed at which it’s growing as a factor in driving investment is phenomenal.  

( A wind farm opened by Nestle UK in Dumfries and Galloway. / PA )

“It’s not just younger investors. We are seeing this across the board – and in my opinion a firm’s ESG rating will soon be more important than its credit rating. Treat it lightly at your peril.”

Fine makes a key point: there are no universally agreed benchmarks for success across what can be quite nebulous criteria, leading to accusations that the rush to jump aboard the ESG bandwagon is open to exploitation from box-tickers.

There is pressure for change. In September, leaders of the UK’s Big Four accounting firms unveiled joint initiative to encourage large global companies to adopt standard metrics in their 2021 accounts. 

Lamenting the current “alphabet soup” of metrics, Deloitte boss Punit Renjen told the Financial Times. “It is important for us to have a common set of standards and if there is widespread adoption it will lead to change in behaviour.” 

Fund managers, however, remain confident that while  it is only natural to expect some pullback as early investors take profits from this year’s tear, the longer-term future remains sound.

 Laith Khalaf, of AJ Bell, said: “It’s been a record-breaking year for ethical fund sales in the UK, but they still only make up 3% of total funds under management across fund providers, which shows there’s still plenty of scope for growth.

“On top of concerted global efforts to hold back climate change, the election of Joe Biden as US President has also proved positive for clean energy stocks. 

“There are some areas which look overbought though – Tesla stock has risen eightfold in price over the course of the last year, and is now trading at around 600 times earnings. However this is a stock where the plentiful short sellers have been continually burnt by betting against its meteoric rise. ”

Nigel Green, CEO of deVere, told a Reuters round-table: “Millennials cite ESG investing as their top priority when considering investment opportunities. This is crucial because the biggest ever generational transfer of wealth — likely to be around $30trn — from baby boomers to millennials will take place in the next few years.

“ESG investing was already going to reshape the investment landscape in this new decade — but the coronavirus will quicken the pace of this reshaping.”



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Joe Biden has an opportunity to bolster how we view Earth from space


But each year, Congress intervened to save these missions. OCO-3 launched on time in 2019. PACE and CLARREO took some budget cuts but are still set to launch in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

“I’m happy to say it hasn’t been as bad as I thought,” says Andrew Kruczkiewicz, a researcher at Columbia University who uses Earth observation data to assess disaster risk. “Maybe that’s just because the expectations were [that things were] going to be a lot worse.” 

The administration tried some other tactics to weaken the impact of climate research. Scientists were pressured to stop using phrases like “climate change” and “global warming” in any grant proposals or project descriptions. And some institutions, like NOAA, were stocked with climate critics who have downplayed climate change.

So the most immediate steps the Biden administration could take on day one would be to free scientists from any language restrictions, and to assure Earth observation mission teams they have leadership’s support to plan long-term investigations in order to get the most out of these missions. 

The short steps

Increased funding would help expand the scope of these types of programs to collect more valuable information. More money could be used to plan and launch new missions as well. Mariel Borowitz, a space policy expert at Georgia Tech, thinks it could be worth taking a cue from the European Space Agency and launch an Earth observation program similar to Copernicus, which is tasked with studying global climate trends over a very long period of time. This could be a nice contrast to the current NASA approach of using discrete missions to investigate specific research questions over just a few years. 

Other trends under Trump’s watch cannot and probably shouldn’t be reversed, but they will require a response. For example, any programs spearheaded by private companies like Planet Labs (which operates hundreds of EO satellites) have found room to grow more rapidly in the last four years than ever. New companies are not only building their own sensors and flying hardware in orbit, but also processing data and disseminating images. NASA still has the largest Earth observing system in the world, and its data is free for anyone to use. But there may be communities or regions of the world whose only access to the relevant data may come from private parties who charge for it. 

The Biden administration could take steps to permanently ensure free and open access to what NASA collects, and it could also look into engaging with the private companies directly. “There’s already a pilot program started where NASA purchases the data from commercial entities under a license that allows them to share that data with researchers or a wider audience,” says Borowitz. It may be a good model for Biden to lean on permanently to help a private industry grow while giving less-wealthy parties access to critical data. 

“EO data is different from other types of data,” says Kruczkiewicz. “In some ways, it’s one of the most privileged types of data.” Maintaining its status as something closer to a public good may ensure that people continue to treat it as privileged.

But there are other large questions about the future of Earth observation research that the scientific community is ready to resolve. These have less to do with remediating the impact of the Trump years and more to do with understanding how we can better apply the findings of climate science in the real world. 

“I feel like we have an opportunity to rethink things,” says Kruczkiewicz. “The past four years have forced us to think about not only the way that data is produced, but who has access to it, how it’s disseminated, what are some of the unintended consequences for these programs, and how far down the line we should be accountable for as scientists.”

Beyond missions

Simply throwing more money at Earth science and EO programs isn’t enough, though. First, “these satellite programs take an incredibly long time to develop, fund, and implement, so the time frame for them is generally outside the length of individual administrations,” says Curtis Woodcock, an Earth scientist at Boston University. The effects of Earth science cuts at NASA during George W. Bush’s administration are still being felt, Woodcock points out: “In many ways NASA earth science has not completely recovered since then.” To restore Earth science to rigorous levels, we need a long-term plan that will go beyond Biden’s first (and possibly only) term. 

Second, there is already a lot of Earth observation data that we can already use—we just need better processing tools. “My fear is that the gap between data availability and use of that data is growing because we have so much data now,” says Kruczkiewicz. “We don’t necessarily need to develop new technology to have new sensors, or new spatial resolution in order to solve flood questions.” 

The types of technologies federal officials may want to start investing in, instead, are data processing and tasking systems that can analyze and make sense of the enormous amount of imagery and measurements being taken. Those tools could, say, illustrate which communities might require more resources and attention should a flood or a drought strike. 

Third, we need to start thinking about how climate science is applied on the ground. For example, Kruczkiewicz’s own work involves using satellite data from NASA to understand the risks vulnerable populations and communities face from disasters like floods and wildfires, as well as the issues involved in preparing for and responding to such events. “I think we need to rethink the stories that we tell of people on Earth benefiting from EO data,” he argues. “It’s not just about throwing flood maps over the fence and hoping people use them.” The Biden administration could start taking steps to empower humanitarian organizations that can communicate what EO findings mean, how they can be turned into practical strategies, and how the data could help resolve social inequalities exacerbated by climate impacts. 

Other institutions outside the US have done a better job getting up to speed on this type of perspective. Dan Osgood, an economist at Columbia University, uses satellite data for insurance programs that pay benefits to African farmers who face the threat of crop loss due to climate change. He and his team are already learning how farmers use these payouts to invest in higher-return agricultural approaches. It’s an example of how EO data doesn’t just tell us something new about the climate but can be used to actually create societal change. 

“It used to be that the US government was investing in us to try and do that kind of validation,” he says. “And now, for more than four years, it’s been primarily European governments. ESA’s data is much more freely available, and they’ve invested in us to be able to use it. The European products are often easier to work with and, in many cases, less problematic.” (Osgood notes that much of the change he describes had its beginnings late in Barack Obama’s administration.) 

Many of the actions Biden can take with respect to Earth observation might do the most good by simply setting a tone for how the US wants to treat climate data. Encouraging open access, so the information can be shared with the world, could go a long way to reorienting the US as a leader against climate change. 



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Rocket Internet – Why Rocket Internet has come down to earth | Business




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First moon samples for more than 40 years brought back to Earth | World News


A Chinese lunar spacecraft capsule has returned to Earth with the first fresh samples of rock and debris from the moon in more than 40 years.

The newly-collected rocks are thought to be billions of years younger than those obtained earlier by the US and former Soviet Union, offering new insights into the history of the moon and other bodies in the solar system.

They come from a part of the moon known as the Oceanus Procellarum, or Ocean of Storms, near a site called the Mons Rumker that was believed to have been volcanic in ancient times.

As with the 382kg of lunar samples brought back by US astronauts from 1969 to 1972, they will be analysed for age and composition and are expected to be shared with other countries.

Image:
The Chinese lunar spacecraft capsule docked down in Inner Mongolia. Pic courtesy of CSNA

The age of the samples will help fill in a gap in knowledge about the history of the moon between roughly one billion and three billion years ago.

The capsule of the Chang’e 5 probe landed in the Siziwang district of the Inner Mongolia region on Wednesday.

It had earlier separated from its orbiter module and performed a bounce off the Earth’s atmosphere to reduce its speed before passing through and floating down on parachutes.

Two of the Chang’e 5’s four modules set down on the moon on 1 December and collected about 2kg of samples by scooping them from the surface, and by drilling two metres into the moon’s crust.

The samples were deposited in a sealed container that was carried back to the return module by an ascent vehicle.

The successful mission was the latest breakthrough for China’s increasingly ambitious space programme, that includes a robotic mission to Mars and plans for a permanent orbiting space station.

The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang'e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center, in Wenchang, Hainan province, China November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
Image:
The Long March-5 Y5 rocket, carrying the Chang’e-5 lunar probe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in November

Recovery crews had prepared helicopters and off-road vehicles to home-in on signals emitted by the lunar spacecraft and locate it in the darkness shrouding the vast snow-covered region in China’s far north, long used as a landing site for China’s Shenzhou crewed spaceships.

The spacecraft’s return marked the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 robot probe in 1976.



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