Can Apple Remove 450,000 Cars From Road From This Year?

Can Apple Remove 450,000 Cars From Road From This Year?

As per official statement by the tech giant this week, the new Apple iPhone 12 lineup will ship without wall chargers or Lightning EarPods in the box. Let’s see how this will help in cutting carbon emissions released via cars on roads.

Crux of the Matter

How Will They Do It?
By discontinuing the wall charger and lightning EarPods for the new iPhone 12 series. In fact, Apple Watch Series 3 and 6, SE edition and the Nike models will also remove power adapter from their boxes.

Will This Be Applicable For Older Models?
Yes. On Apple’s official site, listings for the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and 2020 iPhone SE now say that they ship an Iphone with the only accessory being the USB-C to Lightning cable in the box.

Will This Affect Apple Users?
Not so much. It is estimated that there are already 700 million Lightning Earpods and 2 billion Apple power adapters, with existing Apple fans in the world.

How Is This A ‘Green’ Move?
The move means it has to consume fewer raw materials for each iPhone sold as it allows for a smaller retail box i.e 70% more units can fit on a single shipping pallet. Overall, Apple estimates the changes will cut over 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, which is equivalent of removing 450,000 cars from the road per year.

What Do The Tech Experts Say?
The move has been met with outrage online, with some suggesting that it has more to do with the company increasing its margins and decreasing its shipping costs, rather than protecting the environment. Venture Capitalist M.G. Siegler says,

“Here’s the breakdown of why Apple is doing this, in the order of importance, as I see it:
1) Margins: The next iPhone’s margins, with ‘5G’ components, and the ongoing Covid-19, will alter the supply chain immensely. The charger may not seem like a huge margin savings, but it adds up in aggregate.
2) Shipping: Apple can make these boxes more svelte, they’ll pack more in.
3) Transitions: Make customers ready for the wireless charging revolution.
4) Environment: This is on the list. But it’s the last item on the list.”

Plans To Continue Being The Richest?
In the second half of 2020, Apple had hit the $2 trillion market cap and became the world’s most valuable company by surpassing Saudi Aramco’s $1.78 tn market cap. Apple also became the first US public traded company to have a $2 trillion market cap. It’s valuation doubled in just 2 years.

Also Read: On Apple’s Tax Case & Tax Havens Of The World

One Mobile Charger For All
Since the year 2009, the European Commission has been trying to convince tech companies to adopt a common charging method for smartphones, to reduce the waste that comes with every new gadget. So in 2018, Apple, Google, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony all voluntarily agreed to standardize on some form of USB-C charging by 2021.

Read More: Apple iPhone 12: Most Powerful Phone Yet?

  • If you check Apple’s site right now, the time set on every device will be 9:41. This is so because the first iPhone was unveiled at 9:41 and since then, every apple advertisement shows 9:41 as time on all of its devices.
  • After the release of iPhone X, Samsung released a series of short advertisements under the marketing campaign ‘ingenious’. The campaign was simply made to mock Apple and the sales representatives at Apple retail stores, whom Apple calls “Geniuses”.
  • Apple Park is the corporate headquarters of Apple Inc., located in Cupertino, California, United States. Its scale and circular groundscraper design, by Norman Foster, have earned the structure a media nickname “the spaceship”.

Earth Is Having An Ice Meltdown

Earth Is Having An Ice Meltdown

As per a review paper published in the journal Cryosphere Discussions, Earth has lost 28 trillion tons of ice in a period of 23 years (1994-2017). Why is this shocking rise happening? What does it mean for us in times ahead?

Crux of the Matter

28 Trillions Lost In Just 23 Years?
Scientists from the University College London analysed satellite surveys of glaciers, mountains, and ice sheets to conclude that 532 trillion litres of water has been added to the already rising sea levels during this time.

Techniques Used To Measure

  • Tide Gauges are a part of a modern water level monitoring station, and are fitted with sensors that continuously record the height of the surrounding water level.
  • Satellite Altimetry measures mostly an accurate change in sea level, in the center of the oceans relative to the earth’s center of mass. It can also observe the land movements from space.

Greenland Reaches It’s Tipping Point
The findings come after the researchers at Ohio State University discovered that the world’s second largest ice body, Greenland’s ice sheet, would continue to lose ice even if global temperatures stop rising.

Greenland’s ice is already the world’s single-most largest contributor to sea-level rise. With its current melt rate, it would add another 2.75 inches to global sea levels in another 80 years. Complete melting is estimated to be around the year 3000, leading to a rise of 23 feet sea levels.

Rising Global Temperatures To Blame?

The ice that’s discharging into the ocean surpasses the snow that’s accumulating on the surface of the ice sheet.

Michalea King, lead author & researcher at Byrd Polar & Climate Research Centre

According to NASA, 2010-2019 was the hottest decade ever recorded. In 2019, Greenland blocking, a high pressure over Canada that changes the northern jet stream, caused warm southern air to come up from the US and Canada to Greenland, forcing more melting.

Tectonic Shifts Play A Role Too
Local sea level rise varies by region and is mainly cause by local vertical land movements due to plate tectonics.

These tectonics are the large-scale motion of 7 large plates and the movements of a larger number of smaller plates of Earth’s lithosphere comprising of crust, mantle and core. In areas where the land is sinking, regional sea level rise will be greater, and in regions where the land is rising, sea level rise will be less severe.

Major Consequences To Look Out For
1. Increased water in coastal areas, causing soil erosion and threatening farmland, housing, or recreation areas. This shall affect the flora and fauna of each place.

2. Heavier rains and strong winds, that unleash severe storms and typhoons amongst other atmospheric phenomena threatening a loss of habitat.

3. Communities in low-lying islands would be forced to be displaced and large lands would start disappearing eventually.

A Hole In Ozone Layer Above Both Poles?
Ozone layer is a region of the stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s harmful UV radiation and acts as a shield for us back on Earth.

In 1976, atmospheric research revealed that the ozone layer above the Arctic was being depleted by chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in industrial solvents and refrigerants, leading to ecological problems and diseases like skin cancer.

Now another hole has opened up in the ozone layer above Antarctica, making both the poles in danger of climate change. A stratospheric polar vortex, a band of strong, frigid winds circling the pole chewed away at the ozone layer.

Another Treaty Needed?
After the first hole, the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of such substances responsible for ozone depletion, was signed by 197 countries in 1987.

It got 9 revisions since then. UN also designated September 16 as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

  • Pancake ice is a form of sea ice that consists of round pieces of ice with diameters ranging from 30 centimetres to 3 metres, depending on the local conditions. It is usually created by breaking ice rinds, nilas or even gray ice in the agitated conditions.
  • An aurora is a natural light display in the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic). Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind.
  • In physical geography, tundra is a type of biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes from the Russian word for “treeless mountain tract”. There are three regions and associated types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine tundra and Antarctic tundra.

EIA 2020: Changes And Controversy

EIA 2020: Changes And Controversy

The recent Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Draft Notification 2020 issued by the Indian government is seeking to modify public participation and the importance of environmental clearance in project.

Crux of the Matter

EIA 2020
The Delhi High Court recently extended the deadline for feedback for the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020 to 11 August. The move came after the Central government extended the deadline from 10 June to 30 June, with the Court intervening after protests from activists.

What Is EIA?
The EIA was formulated in 1994 after the formation of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) of 1986 to regulate activities that “access, utilise, and affect natural resources”. It assesses the impact of activities like coal mining, industrial development, etc. on the environment, with the EIA clearance being compulsory before the initiation of any development project. It was first modified in 2006, with the next modification proposed in 2020.

So What’s New?

  • Post-facto clearance: Several projects operating in violation of the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) would now be eligible for clearance application. The provision would be applicable only for solar thermal plants, digging of wells for drinking or irrigation, paper manufacturing from waste paper (or without bleaching), and other non-mining activities.
  • “Cognizance of the violation”: Recognition of the violation would now be done only the “project proponent” or the government authorities.
  • Cases of violation could now be possibly dealt with by levying 1.5-2 times “the ecological damage assessed and economic benefit derived due to violation”.
  • “Inland waterways projects” and “expansion or widening of national highways” now exempted from prior clearance.
  • Projects concerning national defence development, highway expansion, modernisation of irrigation systems, projects under notified industrial areas, etc. now exempted from public consultation (it is feedback from local people and people having “stake in the environmental impact of the project”).
  • Linear projects concerning roads and pipelines in border areas (area within 100 kms aerial distance from LAC) would also be exempted from public consultation.
  • The maximum limit of 30 days for public feedback applications now reduced to 20 days.

Background And Rulings
The EIA 2020 aimed to implement the 2014 ruling of the Jharkhand High Court, which stated that the “proposal for Environment Clearance must be examined on its merits, independent of any proposed action for alleged violation of the environmental laws”. The modification is also driven by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently asking the Central government to “strengthen the monitoring mechanism for compliance of conditions of Prior Environment Clearance”.

Controversy And Impact

  • Violations can now be reported only by the “project proponent” or the government authorities.
  • Reduction of public response time from 30 days to 20 days cited as “weakening” of public participation.
  • Mass deforestation due to highway expansion would now be possibly unchecked as the project would be exempted from public consultation.
  • Several projects are already operating in the violation under the existing laws. Post-facto laws are expected to further diminish the adherence to laws.
  • As linear projects (roads, pipelines, etc) near the border areas are exempted from the public consultation, experts have shown apprehension over the biodiversity-rich areas of North-East.
  • Experts have claimed the draft as going against the recent statement of the Supreme Court of India, which stated on 1st April that “environment law cannot countenance the notion of an ex post facto clearance… which would be contrary to both the precautionary principle as well as the need for sustainable development”.

Recent Examples Of Mishap

  • Oil India Limited obtained the clearance to dig 7 wells inside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Assam for gas extraction. The clearance was acquired a few days before the Baghjan oil leak in Assam, which killed several dolphins and other endangered animals.
  • The Vizag gas leak in May, which killed 11 people, occurred in the LG Polymers plant, which had been operating without the Environmental Clearance and was held guilty of the leakage.
  • Team Trees was a collaborative fundraiser that managed to raise 20 million U.S. dollars before 2020 to plant 20 million trees. The initiative was started by American YouTubers MrBeast and Mark Rober, and was supported by personalities like Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, Marc Benioff, Susan Wojcicki, and many others.
  • Life cycle assessment is a methodology for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life-cycle of a commercial product, process, or service. The goal of LCA is to compare the full range of environmental effects assignable to products and services by quantifying all inputs and outputs of material flows and assessing how these material flows affect the environment.
  • The Leopold matrix is a qualitative environmental impact assessment method pioneered in 1971. It is used to identify the potential impact of a project on the environment. The system consists of a matrix with rows representing the various activities of the project, and columns representing the various environmental factors to be considered.

What’s Up With Earth And Her Environment?

Environment And Habitat Loss Discovered During Pandemic

The World Environment Day and Ocean day may have passed by on June 5 and June 8 respectively, but the rising environmental concerns haven’t gone away. Animals had started taking advantage of the urban cities as they entered lockdown during Covid-19. Activists are worried about these evolving natural habitats and the subsequent changing dynamics of flora and fauna globally. Are there short-term benefits from an environmental rebound in 2020 or will it last longer than the pandemic and seep in the post-corona world?

Crux of the Matter

On Land: Protests Against Projects That Can Kill Lungs Of Goa
Goa-based activists are raising their voices over virtual clearances given to two projects passing through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa. A letter has been sent to the Union Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change by a group of 149 scientists and conservationists on June 4 who are against cutting down 50,000 trees and diversion of 216 hectares of forest.

In The Forest: Climate Change Leading To Younger And Shorter Trees
Trouble is brewing up for the forest equilibrium as findings by PNNL (U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) suggest that climate change magnifies conditions like insect and pathogen outbreaks that compromise tree health and development. In fact, annual “carbon storage lost to insects” equals “the amount of carbon emitted by 5 million vehicles”. Additionally, when old-growth forests are shifted to non-forest lands, the trees on re-established harvested land are smaller with reduced biomass.

Additionally, a new study by Science Advances states that with vanishing forests, endangered animals like tigers are bound to vanish, with 24,000 km of new roads proposed to be built in tiger conservation landscapes in Asia by 2050.  The analysis covered nearly 1.16 million sq. km range across Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In Oceans: British Columbia’s Fading Fish Habitat
According to the Forest Practices Board, sediment from logging roads is negatively impacting fish habitat after doing inspections at 5 watershed sites. Effective sediment management is needed to be enforced, else upstream fish movement can be hampered permanently. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans verified this activity by explaining how elevated sediment in streams can decrease the abundance of plant life, which impacts the fish that feed on those very plants. 

Pandemic’s Impact : Unmasking Plastic Pollution Via Clinical Debris
For the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the major tool of precaution for social distancing and hospital work has been the extensive use of surgical face masks. It is practical to not consider their environmental impacts in the midst of the pandemic, but experts are worried that the ill-effects can prolong the virus.

Masks lying on the shore of one of the beaches of China, Source: HT

During a recent survey trip, Hong Kong-based environmental NGO OceansAsia found heaps of discarded single-use masks washed up on a 100-metre stretch of beach. The surgical mask disposal along with empty hand sanitizer bottles and soiled tissue papers is leading to a massive trail of clinical waste in the environment.

Silver Lining – Wildlife Basking In The Urban Sun

Flamboyance in Mumbai, India, this spring. The Flamingoes traditionally migrate from September to the end of May
Murrah Buffalo Herd, seen in New delhi on otherwise highways and roads
Leopard spotted by residents in a Chandigarh Locality
  • Fauna comes from the name Fauna, a Roman goddess of earth and fertility, the Roman god Faunus, and the related forest spirits called Fauns. The term was first used by Carl Linnaeus from Sweden in the title of his 1745 work Fauna Suecica.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an American animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, and led by Ingrid Newkirk, its international president. A nonprofit corporation with nearly 400 employees, it claims that it has 6.5 million members and supporters, in addition to claiming that it is the “largest animal rights group in the world.” Its slogan is “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”
  • The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 that works in the field of wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment. WWF is the world’s largest conservation organization with over five million supporters worldwide and supporting around 3,000 conservation and environmental projects. WWF has received criticism for its alleged corporate ties. It has also been accused of supporting paramilitary groups tasked with stopping poaching who are responsible for numerous human rights abuses.

Turning Polluted Air to Tiles

An Indian startup called Carbon Craft Design has developed the technology to make tiles from Carbon present in the polluted air. As the world witnesses some positive impact on the environment because of the subdued activity due to the Coronavirus lockdowns, this innovation seems to have the potential to change the course of the fight against climate change.

Crux of the Matter

The world is facing serious problems because of climate change. Many efforts are being made in terms of policymaking, technology, and innovation to tackle climate change. One of the major problems in urban areas is the increasing level of carbon. The construction industry is one of the major sources for the emission of carbon i.e. around 25% to 40% of global emission of carbon comes from the construction business.

Curios Use of Carbon
Carbon Craft Design in collaboration with the Boston-based Air-Ink launched the innovative equipment that captures the pollutants from the air and converts them into tiles. 30,000 liters (30,000,000 cubic centimeters) of air will be purified to make one tile. The process of making the tiles includes cutting, shaping, joining, and filling the mould before finally forming the tiles. The price of the one tile is around ₹190, whereas the conventional tiles range from ₹50-₹1000. 

We utilised the colour of pollution to our aesthetic advantage and created tiles in shades of black only. But since the pollution source varies each time, the shade of black could also vary.

Kishor Avhad, Lead Designer, Carbon Craft Design
  • A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of different greenhouse gas. Carbon credits and carbon markets are a component of national and international attempts to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
  • Another Indian startup called Graviky Labs uses carbon (released by factories and automobiles) to transform it into ink, oil-based paints and fabric paints. With their proprietary electrostatic filter called Kaalink, they capture pollutants from vehicles or generators, reportedly without impacting engine performance and transform it into this revolutionary product which they call “Air-Ink”.
  • Kickstarter is an American public benefit corporation based in Brooklyn, New York, that maintains a global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity. The company’s stated mission is to “help bring creative projects to life”. As of December 2019, Kickstarter has received more than $4.6 billion in pledges from 17.2 million backers to fund 445,000 projects.