Extinction Rebellion co-founder arrested over Heathrow drone plan

Climate activist Roger Hallam sought to shut down Heathrow Airport on Friday

Heathrow Pause activists with the drones they plan to fly. Reuters
Heathrow Pause activists with the drones they plan to fly. Reuters

A co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion activist group has been arrested a day before he planned to shut down London’s Heathrow Airport.

Roger Hallam and another four people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance. Climate change activists intend to ground flights at Heathrow on Friday morning by flying toy drones in its exclusion area, in protest at global warming and plans to build a third runway at the airport.

Heathrow Pause@HeathrowPause

We will not be silenced. Please spread this far and wide and keep the flame of Heathrow Pause alight . We are parents protecting our children @GeorgeMonbiot @GretaThunberg @ExtinctionR https://twitter.com/RaphaelThelen/status/1172151205574918144 

Raphael Thelen@RaphaelThelen

Roger Hallam, Co-Founder of Extinction Rebellion, was just arrested in front of my eyes. From what I understand because of the planned „Heathrow Pause“-Action. More soon @SPIEGELONLINE @extinctionr

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“Our policing plan is aimed at preventing criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport, and the thousands of passengers that will be using it,” said Laurence Taylor of London’s Metropolitan Police.
Police had already warned the Heathrow Pause, a group of individual activists with close links to Extinction Rebellion, they faced arrest if they went ahead with their plans.
“In these circumstances, we believe these arrests to be a proportionate response to preventing criminal activity that could significantly impact on a major piece of national infrastructure,” said Mr Taylor, a Deputy Assistant Commissioner.
“We remain fully prepared for the planned protest tomorrow, and will work quickly to identify criminal activity and arrest anyone committing offences.”

Members of the Pause had already said they expected to be detained but would continue with their plans regardless. It is unclear how many of them are. MORE

Heathrow protest thwarted as police use radiowaves to jam Extinction Rebellion group drones

Innovation rush aims to help farmers, rich and poor, beat climate change

Image result for farming with drones

LONDON, July 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In decades to come, African farmers may pool their money to buy small robot vehicles to weed their fields or drones that can hover to squirt a few drops of pesticide only where needed.

Smartphones already allow farmers in remote areas to snap photos of sick plants, upload them and get a quick diagnosis, plus advice on treatment.

Researchers also are trying to train crops like maize and wheat to produce their own nitrogen fertilizer from the air – a trick soybeans and other legumes use – and exploring how to make wheat and rice better at photosynthesis in very hot conditions.

Image result for photosynthesis wheatA gene that helps plants to remain healthy during times of stress has been identified by researchers at Oxford University.

As warmer, wilder weather linked to climate change brings growing challenges for farmers across the globe – and as they try to curb their own heat-trapping emissions – a rush of innovation aimed at helping both rich and poor farmers is now converging in ways that could benefit them all, scientists say.

In a hotter world, farmers share “the same problems, the same issues,” said Svend Christensen, head of plant and environmental sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

Agricultural researchers, who have teamed up to boost harvests and fight the major blight of wheat rust are now forming an international consortium in a bid to make wheat stand up to worsening heat and drought.

“There was a real shift in terms of the intensity of what we do together when we became aware of climate change,” said Hans-Joachim Braun, who heads the global wheat program for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), based in Mexico.

For each 1 degree Celsius global temperatures rise above pre-industrial times, wheat harvests drop 5-8%, he said.

That means the world will likely see a 10% drop in harvests even if governments hold global warming to “well below” 2C, as they have agreed, he said – and that drop would come even as the world’s population grows and demand for food rises.

Finding ways to breed wheat that can cope better with heat could help farmers from Australia to India and China, as well as the people who depend on their grain, he said.

“It doesn’t matter where you use this trait – it will have an impact,” Braun said.

DARE TO DREAM

One idea scientists are working on is to fundamentally reshape how crops such as wheat and rice carry out photosynthesis, to make them better able to continue producing in hot weather, especially if less water is available.

The process – like efforts to help wheat and maize start making their own fertilizer – is hugely complex and will likely require decades of work, scientists say.

“It would be a mega-breakthrough. Many people think it’s dreaming a little bit because it’s so difficult,” said Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

But early tests to improve photosynthesis in tobacco have shown a 40% boost in production – and the technique is now being tested with crops from cassava to maize, said Kathy Kahn, a crop research expert with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Nick Austin, who directs agricultural development for the foundation, said such changes “are going to benefit the poor and rich worlds together” – and could play a key role in keeping food prices affordable.

“These technologies… are going to be globally relevant,” he predicted. MORE

Stanford scientists creating ways to quickly, accurately and inexpensively find natural gas leaks

From production to consumption, natural gas leaks claim lives, damage the climate and waste money. Research teams at Stanford are working on better ways to find and fix gas leaks quickly and inexpensively from one end of the system to the other.


Stanford’s Robert Jackson used this specially equipped car to survey Manhattan and several other cities in search of natural gas leaks. (Image credit: Robert Jackson)

As it flows through pipelines from wells to stovetops, natural gas is prone to leaking, threatening not only human safety and health but also the health of the planet.

Over the past 10 years, natural gas leaks and explosions in U.S. residential and commercial neighborhoods have killed 73 people, injured 412 others and caused more than $500 million in property damage. Gas leaks and other emissions throughout the industry emit a third of all human-made methane, a greenhouse gas 36 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Researchers at Stanford and elsewhere are looking for fast and affordable ways of detecting leaks throughout the natural gas supply chain in an effort to reduce damage and save lives.

“While a large portion of methane in the atmosphere comes from agriculture and livestock, natural gas leaks are found throughout the gas distribution system,” said Stanford professor of geophysics Mark Zoback, director of the Natural Gas Initiative, which funds much of the work at Stanford tracking down and mitigating leaks.

When burned to produce electricity, natural gas releases about half the carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour that coal does, as well as less sulfur and nitrogen oxides, making it a tempting alternative to coal.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the oil and gas industry emitted approximately 8 million metric tons of methane in 2016 – the equivalent of emissions from 43 million cars in a year. A 2014 study by Adam Brandt, an associate professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford, found that such leaks can negate some but not all of the climate benefit of switching from coal to natural gas, as some experts, including Zoback, have advocated.

Working with postdoctoral scholar Arvind Ravikumar, Brandt recently led the Mobile Monitoring Challenge – a contest to find the most affordable and accurate ways of detecting natural gas leaks – along with colleagues from Stanford, Colorado State University and the Environmental Defense Fund.


A drone-based methane detector competes in the Mobile Monitoring Challenge at a natural gas facility in Colorado. (Image credit: Sean Boggs/Environmental Defense Fund)

In the course of the contest last year, drones whizzed overhead, trucks rumbled by and helicopters zoomed through the sky at controlled testing facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Sacramento, California. MORE