Shipping is contributing to Arctic thaw, say UNEP
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have raised concern about the impact of shipping and oil and gas industries on the Arctic thaw.
Shipping and exploration for oil and gas have increased in the Arctic following increased thawing in the region, which has hit an all time high this year. UNEP believe that this increased activity could be quickening the melt, claiming there is an urgent need to calculate the risks of local pollutants emitted by activity in the area.
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UNEP have raised concerns about local pollutants such as soot, or “black carbon”, which it is believed could make ice soak up more of the sun by making it darker.
Companies such as Shell, Exxon and Statoil, which have been exploring the area, claim they are using the cleanest available technologies, but UNEP have fears about the effects of small amounts of pollution, as no assessment has been made on the amounts of damage these can cause.
“A lot of the concerns need urgent evaluation,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesman of Naibori-based UNEP, referring to issues such as flaring of gas or fuels used by vessels in the Arctic.
“There is a grim irony here that as the ice melts...humanity is going for more of the natural resources fuelling this meltdown,” he said. Large amounts of soot in the Arctic come from more distant sources such as forest fires or industry.
The expanse of sea ice on the Arctic ocean has shrunk this summer to the smallest since records begin in the 1970’s, eclipsing a previous low in 2007.
“We're working to get a better documentation of the risks of black carbon in the Arctic,” said Lars-Otto Reiersen, head of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), part of the Arctic Council.
More than 400 oil and gas fields within the Arctic region were developed by 2007, according to AMAP, mostly in West Siberia in Russia and in Alaska. Most of the undiscovered oil and gas is now estimated to be offshore.
Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight
Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports.
A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers.
Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US.
The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two.
Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels
The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.
The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete.
Tesla’s supply chain woes
Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue.
Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely.
Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany