Tag Archives: new york

State of New York to ban new fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2035

It’s time to say goodbye to fossil fuel vehicles, at least in the New York. Following the approval of the state’s Senate and Assembly, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new law banning the sale of all fuel-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. This would help New York achieve its overall climate target of reducing polluting emissions by 85% by 2050. 

Image credit: Flickr / Nova Fields.

Under the new legislation, all in-state sales of new cars and trucks will have to be zero emissions by 2035. The first step will be creating a zero-emissions vehicle market development strategy, which should be ready by 2023. Currently, about 1% of new vehicles sold in the New York are fully electric, so there’s a long way to go. 

As well as targeting passenger vehicles, the law also asks off-road vehicles and equipment to be zero-emission by 2035. Heavy-duty vehicles will have an extra five years. Still, there’s some wiggle room in case batteries for trucks or construction equipment aren’t available. Zero emissions will only be required “where feasible,” the law reads.

“New York is implementing the nation’s most aggressive plan to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions affecting our climate and to reach our ambitious goals, we must reduce emissions from the transportation sector, the largest source of the state’s climate pollution,” Hochul said in a statement. “The new law marks a critical milestone in our efforts.”

Even without regulations, such as the one in New York, half of the global passenger-vehicle sales in 2035 will be electric, according to the BloombergNEF (BNEF) consultancy. This is driven by a dramatic drop in the cost of the batteries, making electric cars more cost-competitive — and even cheaper. BNEF estimates they will be 20% cheaper in 2023 compared to what they cost today, making electric cars reach price parity with conventional ones by mid-2020s. 

The challenges for New York

While it may hard to convince people to change to EVs, the biggest hurdle for New York will be developing a fast-charging network to facilitate long-distance travel. Cities will also need a large-scale charging infrastructure to allow residents to charge their cars, placing chargers in streets, parking garages, grocery stores, and also in shopping malls. 

New York City, with 40% of the state’s population, predicts it will have to install over 800,000 chargers, especially curbside, as on-street partaking is very commonly used. There’s already a pilot plan in place through which 120 chargers were set up, with EV owners paying by the hour. Their location was based on projected demand and input from the residents. 

Back in April, New York and 11 other states asked President Biden to develop a strategy for all vehicles to be sold in the US to be zero-emissions. In the letter, they ask the federal government to ensure all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks are zero-emission by 2035, encouraging Biden to promote tax credits for EVs and secure funding for investment in infrastructure.  

California was the first state to announce a deadline for new fossil-fuel vehicle sales. Last September, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order asking the state’s Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop regulations to obligate zero emissions for all new passenger cars and trucks by 2035. Massachusetts then joined California with a phaseout set for 2035.

New York unveils first results of antibody tests, with some positive news

With 312,977 positive cases and over 24,000 deaths, New York has been the state most severely hit by coronavirus infections so far in the United States. A new antibody survey could help researchers understand just how many people were infected in the American state.

Credit Wikipedia Commons

To get a better grasp at the extent of the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered a massive antibody test campaign, the largest one in the nation, and the latest results are in, with some positive news.

The 15,000 tests recently done showed 12.3% of those tested were positive for antibodies — considered evidence that a person had been infected with the virus. That’s lower than the first report from April 22 with 13,9% positive cases and even lower than the report from April 27 with 14.9%.

The same fluctuation was true for New York City. The study showed 21.2% of respondents had COVID-19 antibodies on April 22. Five days later, that number went up to 24.7%. But the May 1 report found that 19.9% of New York City participants had the antibodies.

While diagnosis tests show who has the virus now, antibody tests show who has had it in the past and has developed an immune response. Since many cases are asymptomatic, antibody tests are crucial in determining how far the disease has actually spread, and who is “safe” to return into society.

For Cuomo, the decline in the number of people with antibodies should be seen as positive news. Nevertheless, when looking deeper at who is actually getting infected, the virus is disproportionately impacting certain demographics.

The Bronx had the highest infection rate of the five boroughs in NYC, with 27.1% of respondents with antibodies. Brooklyn and Staten Island were next with 19.2%, followed by Queens with 18.4% and Manhattan with 17.3% Black and Latino New Yorkers are also being impacted the worst by coronavirus, with 17.4% and 25.4% infection rate respectively.

While unveiling the results of the tests, Cuomo said the number of new hospitalizations, used to measure the rate of infection, decreased to 831 after hovering in the 900s in the last week. There are still 10,350 hospitalized – a reduction from the 18,825 registered in the peak of the outbreak in April.

“We’re still getting about 900 new infections a day walking into the hospital, that’s an unacceptably high rate,” Cuomo said in a press conference. “We’re trying to understand why that is, where is it coming from, what we can do to refine our strategies and find out where those new cases are being generated.”

The governor has asked local hospitals to gather additional information from COVID-19 patients and better trace where the residents live and how they may have contracted the virus. He hopes the state could use this data to identify COVID-19 hotspots and bring additional resources to them.

Cuomo also announced a partnership with New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to combine resources in an effort to obtain further medical supplies. From now on, they will carry out joint purchases to lower the cost of the purchases.

“By working together we can do a lot more than if each of us works on our own,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. “Part of this is testing. We really need to work together to build the capacity to test or we’re not going to be able to give our citizens the confidence they need to go back to work.”

While the antibody tests could be helpful, their actual usefulness depends on the supposition that those who have had the virus are immune to new infections, an argument that is still an open question. Earlier reports of reinfection have been seen in China and in Japan. Furthermore, the precision of these tests has been questioned and it’s not entirely clear just how reliable they are.

Asthma is surprisingly uncommon among COVID-19 patients who died in New York

Credit: Pixabay.

At the start of the outbreak, many medical professionals were worried that patients with asthma may be a particularly vulnerable group for COVID-19. After all, asthma can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing and COVID-19 is known to cause very aggressive forms of pneumonia in severe cases. However, among the thousands of people who died in New York due to the coronavirus, those with asthma didn’t even make the top 10 list of comorbidities.

Just 5% of coronavirus deaths in New York involved patients with asthma

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is an acute respiratory disease that can lead to respiratory failure and death.

Bearing this in mind, one might anticipate that those with chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, would be at a greater risk for the most severe symptoms of COVID-19.

As the outbreak started to unfold in the United States, many took to pharmacies, depleting stocks of some antibiotics and antiviral medicines, as well as albuterol, a common asthma inhaler medication. About 25 million people living in the United States have asthma.

However, it’s striking to see respiratory illnesses so underrepresented in comorbidities reported for patients with COVID-19.

According to the New York Times, data on hospitalized cases and deaths due to COVID-19 suggests that asthma doesn’t make it in the top 10 comorbidities.

Only 5% of COVID-19 deaths in New York state were among asthmatic patients, although the condition is prevalent in about 8% of the country’s population. However, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is more common among the elderly than asthma, made it on the list at #7.

The top 10 COVID-19 comorbidities listed by New York, in order, were:

  • hypertension
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol coronary artery disease
  • dementia
  • atrial fibrillation (a heart condition)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • renal disease
  • cancer
  • congestive heart failure

From this list, it seems like morbid obesity, diabetes, and chronic heart disease are much more dangerous than asthma.

These findings are supported by a commentary published on April 3rd in the journal The Lancet, which concluded asthma was heavily under-represented in COVID-19 comorbidities from China, Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

While these findings suggest that asthma doesn’t increase the risk of developing the worst COVID-19 outcomes, these are based on preliminary data. As more robust data becomes available, we’ll have a more accurate picture of how asthma fits into the COVID-19 comorbidity roster. So, asthma patients should continue to exercise great caution.

For now, this is all quite positive news, considering the concerns of many patients with asthma. For instance, it could be that those with chronic respiratory disease have a different immune response that may even protect them against COVID-19, but this remains to be seen as more studies look into this.

New York to starts an “aggressive” antibody test campaign, but questions still loom about tests

For governments hoping to reopen their economies, antibody tests are usually seen as a key tool to do so. They can confirm if a person has had the virus but was asymptomatic, helping to understand the actual scale of the outbreak.

Are antibody tests reliable enough to take decisions based on them? Cuomo believes so. Image credits: Wikipedia Commons.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took an important a step in support of this approach, announcing the state will begin a massive antibody testing campaign to get a grasp on the number of people who have been infected with the coronavirus.

Antibody tests (also called serological tests) differ from diagnosis tests in a key aspect. Whereas the diagnosis tests show who has the virus now, antibody tests show who has had it in the past and has developed an immune response. Since many cases are asymptomatic, antibody tests are crucial in determining how far the disease has actually spread, and who is “safe” to return into society.

Cuomo said the state will carry out an initial 2,000 antibody tests per day, or 14,000 a week, on a random group of citizens, in addition to the diagnostic testing for the virus. It will be the “largest survey of any state population that has been done,” according to Cuomo.

“We’ll take thousands of tests, antibody tests, over this next week all across the state to give us a real snapshot, a real baseline, of exactly how many people were infected by coronavirus and have the antibodies,” Cuomo said. “So we’ll have the first real statistical number on exactly where we are as a population.”

More than 617,000 New Yorkers have been tested for COVID-19 so far, 242,786 of whom were positive for the virus, state health officials reported. Nearly 14,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the state.

The antibody tests were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will give the state its “first true snapshot” of how many people in the state have been infected with COVID-19, Cuomo said.

“We don’t really know how many people were infected. How many people had coronavirus but self-resolved? We don’t really know because we haven’t been able to do testing on that large of scale,” Cuomo said. “We’re going to do that in the most aggressive way in the nation.”

The governor asked the federal government to work with New York and other states to address all the logistical and supply chain problems that alter the capacity to do a larger number of tests. He also called for the Trump administration to pass legislation to help states respond to the pandemic.

“The states must do their part and the federal government must do its part,” Cuomo said when asked about President Donald Trump’s Twitter assertion that his administration will support governors, but they “must be able to step up and get the job done” on testing. “Perfect, that’s called partnership, I agree,” Cuomo said.

While the antibody tests could be helpful as mentioned by Cuomo, their actual usefulness depends on the supposition that those who have had the virus are immune to new infections, an argument that is still an open question. Earlier reports of reinfection have been seen in China and in Japan, and notably, the UK’s attempts to mass-test its population were marred by tests that didn’t truly work.

The decision to carry out an antibody test campaign comes a few days after Cuomo signed an order asking all New Yorkers must have a mask or mouth and nose covering when they are not maintaining social distancing in public. This includes using the subway or walking on a busy street.

Coronavirus in New York — live updates, cases, and news

Coronavirus cases and fatalities in New York

A regularly-updated map of confirmed COVID-19 cases, borough by borough.

The number is based on confirmed diagnostic tests. It is very likely that the true number of COVID-19 cases is higher as many cases are asymptomatic.

New COVID-19 cases and fatalities per day in New York

This is a good indicator of “flattening the curve” — when there is a steady decreasing trend, it is an indicator that the spread of the disease is slowing down.

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Coronavirus in New York

Recent Guidance and Tools

New Yorkers must stay home as much as possible. If you have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself at home immediately. After three to four days, if you still feel sick, contact your health care provider.

If you have any of the following symptoms, go to an emergency room or call 911:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to stay awake
  • Blue lips or face

This is not a complete list. If you are concerned you may be experiencing a medical emergency, contact your provider immediately or call 911.

Face Coverings

People who do not show symptoms may still be able to spread COVID-19. A face covering can help prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to other people, so you should wear one whenever you leave the home.

Social Distancing Rules

An order from the Governor requires every New Yorker to stay at home from work, unless they are an essential worker. All non-essential businesses that are normally open to the public must remain closed. Bars and restaurants may provide takeout. All non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason are banned.

The police may issue fines to anyone they see in public not following these rules.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from mild diseases, such as a cold, to more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia. Recently, a new coronavirus was detected that had not been previously seen in humans. The disease, called COVID-19, can be spread from person to person.

There is widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in New York City, meaning the sources of new infections are unknown. Everyone in New York City should act as if they have been exposed to COVID-19. That means you should monitor your health closely and stay home. Only go out for essential supplies and services, such as groceries or urgent medical care.

What You Need to Know

  • Schools and nonessential businesses will stay closed through May 15th.
  • Governor Cuomo issued executive orders 202.17 and 202.18 requiring all people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public, including when taking public or private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.
  • Governor Cuomo announced a partnership with the federal government to double testing capacity in New York State.
  • The State Department of Health has begun to conduct statewide antibody testing. Find more information and FAQs.
  • Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg announced a nation-leading COVID-19 contact tracing program being done in coordination with Connecticut and New Jersey.
  • Governor Cuomo announces financial and administrative relief for all New York State hospitals.
  • Elective outpatient treatment can resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge starting next week.
  • New Yorkers without health insurance can apply through NY State of Health through May 15, 2020; must apply within 60 days of losing coverage.
  • New Yorkers can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for mental health counseling.
  • Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.
  • Your local health department is your community contact for COVID-19 concerns.  

Coronavirus in New York News:

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The US now has the most coronavirus cases in the world

The US reports more than 82,400 COVID-19 cases, overtaking Italy and China in the total number of confirmed cases. The US is now the epicenter of the outbreak, as New York braces for weeks of crisis.

Scientists and media alike warned that the US was prone to a devastating COVID-19 outbreak. With its lack of universal health care, fumbled initial testing, mixed messages from Donald Trump, and no coherent plan, a storm was brewing.

Rising fast

It seems surreal, but just weeks ago, Donald Trump was issuing conferences saying that cases will “likely go down”, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio was expressing confidence in his city’s ability to handle the crisis. Now, cases are expected to rise for approximately three weeks, and hospitals are already overflowing. De Blasio recently announced that he expects half of New Yorkers to get the virus.

As it is so often the case, the US has maybe more resources than anyone. The country had every opportunity to be prepared for this. Yet, as authorities ignored and then downplayed the risk of the virus, even as it spread from China to other countries, decisive action was taken when the virus had already established a foothold in the country. A series of missteps, including a failure to deploy mass testing in the initial phases of the outbreak left the US in a precarious, vulnerable situation.

The US is the richest country in the world, but many of its inhabitants don’t really feel that — because of a large economic inequality, 46.2 million Americans (or 15% of the country’s population) are considered impoverished.

The country is now forced to face its inequality in a novel way: while it undoubtedly has some of the best specialists and treatment facilities in the world, it also has a surprising amount of shortages: basics such as masks and protective gear for doctors and nurses on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep the critically ill alive. The public health system, handicapped by years of underfunding, limped as it found itself unable to contain the outbreak. In 2017, public health represented just 2.5% of all health spending in the country.

Countries are increasingly starting to treat the pandemic as a war. If this is indeed the case, the Pentagon wasn’t ready. The President wasn’t ready. In truth, few were.

New York is one of the cities with the best hospitals in the world. The crown jewel of the US, a megacity that has inspired generations. If the mammoth New York is kneeling under the pressure, what does this mean for other areas in the country? If the disease continues to spread as it has so far, there is little good news. As many states are still hesitating to impose severe containment measures, there are concerns that New York is merely a sign of what is to come elsewhere.

You don’t make the timeline — the virus makes the timeline

Hopefully, lockdown and social isolation can prevent the virus from spreading. Donald Trump wants things to “reopen” the country by Easter, but that is simply unrealistic — or irresponsible.

For now, suppression is the top priority. The disease must be contained, as we’ve seen that is possible in China and other Asian countries. These countries are also concerned now about a potential second wave, but that’s a concern that the US can’t afford to prioritize right now.

When hospital admissions have started to drop, when the number of cases has stabilized and is decreasing, and when front-line workers have a moment to pause, then the long term strategy can be revised.

‘You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline’, Anthony Fauci emphatically and very correctly pointed out. This is a changing situation to which we must adapt and respond accordingly.

The US has misunderstood the situation and missed the start. But the race is far from over.

It may be months before US doctors start giving reassurances. It may extend into the summertime, or well beyond it. By that time, we can hope that the researchers working on the case (many of them inside the US) have made significant progress on treatments and vaccines. As always, the US has the resources to overcome this crisis. But it cannot afford any more missteps. The race is on.

Mouse.

New York mice are actively evolving into a new species: city mice

New York city rats show early signs of speciating away from their rural peers, a new paper reports. The main cause is likely greater food availability and different nutritional make-up.

Mouse.

Image via Pixabay.

Stephen Harris, a PhD graduate at the State University of New York who will join the biology faculty in 2018 and Jason Munshi-South, associate professor of biological sciences at the Fordham University in New York City, say there’s nothing quite like a New York City mouse.

The duo captured 48 white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) from three parks across the city and in three in nearby rural areas to see if they can find any signs of biological adaptation to city life. White-footed mice are native to this area of North America, so the team looked at more subtle changes, in particular, differences in gene expression. RNA analysis revealed that the urban mice show 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), areas in the genome where a single nucleotide (letter) is different between two individual or groups.

Several of the SNPs were located in genes tied to digestion and border metabolic processes. One of these is involved in the synthesis of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and is a version of a gene humans seem to have selected as we were transitioning from hunter-gatherers to agriculture.

Cheeseburger hypothesis

The team also notes finding genes tied to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which they say can be indicative of the mice eating a lot of fatty acids — which fast food has in abundance. The mice also displayed larger livers with more scar tissue.

“The first thing that we thought of was the ‘cheeseburger hypothesis’: urban mice subsidizing their diet on human food waste,” says Harris.

Besides junk food and waste food, city mice can also get their paws on other tasty treats, like seeds, nuts, or berries growing in parks. These sources are also more plentiful than in rural areas, where higher inter-species competition limits their access to food. So the most likely thing happening here, Richardson says, is that the mice rely on a mix of urban foodstuffs, and occasionally dine on human food waste for a calorie boost.

The work is part of a wave of studies investigating examples of rapid adaptation, showcasing evolution in the works. However, the authors caution that their sample size was too small to draw any definitive conclusions at this point in time, so future studies will be needed to confirm or the results.

The paper “Signatures of positive selection and local adaptation to urbanization in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus)” has been published on the preprint server bioRxiv.

ATM

That ATM keyboard you’ve touched earlier is covered in germs from all over town

ATMs may be excellent city-wide DNA repositories, a new New York University study concludes. Their keypads are a melting pot for bugs from human skin, household surfaces, even traces of food.

ATM

Image credits Emma Blowers / Pixabay.

News just in: ATM keyboards are just littered with germs, bits of people, and all sorts of DNA. With how much use these things see, it’s hardly surprising; but the range of what you can find here is. NYU scientists went around Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, swabbing off of ATMs in eight neighborhoods. That netted them a total of 66 samples which they then compared with known microbial markers.

Just like the germs on our smartphones’ screens can tell a lot about our individual lifestyle, the germs on the ATM tell the story of a city. The team found a wide range of human skin microbes, most of which can be traced back to household surfaces such as TVs, restroom and kitchen surfaces, as well as pillows. Microbes associated with bony fish, mollusks, and chicken were also found in different neighborhoods, suggesting that residues from meals can find their way to the keypads upon use.

The team also points out that the data suggests a geographic zoning, but only for certain types of microbes.

“The sampling strategy was designed to target geographic areas with distinct ethnic and population demographics, known as neighborhood tabulation areas,” the paper reads.

Store- and laundromat-based ATM keypads showed the highest number of biomarkers, with Lactobacillales (lactic acid bacteria) being the most prominent. This kind of bacteria is usually found in spoiled or rotting milk products and plants — it’s what makes milk go sour and pickles become pickled. Samples taken in Manhattan tested positive for the biomarker Xeromyces bisporus, a mold that grows on spoiled backed goods. There was no significant difference in the biomarkers of indoor or outdoor ATMs.

“Our results suggest that ATM keypads integrate microbes from different sources, including the human microbiome, foods, and potentially novel environmental organisms adapted to air or surfaces,” explains senior author Jane Carlton, director of the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and professor of biology at NYU.

“DNA obtained from ATM keypads may therefore provide a record of both human behavior and environmental sources of microbes.”

While most of you are probably going through an ew-fueled bristling right now, from a microbiologist’s point of view the findings are actually quite exciting. Because each machine sees probably hundreds of uses each day and come in direct contact with air, water, and microbes adapted to live on different types of urban surfaces, the communities sampled here represent an “average” — a snapshot of each city‘s own microbial footprint. Each ATM effectively pools strains from a lot of different sources together.

Still, the machine samples showed low diversity and apart from the few bugs I’ve mentioned earlier, there was no obvious geographic clustering. The team believes this low diversity comes down to periodic cleaning of the ATMs — which would wipe out some of the bugs. Tourists and commuters also have a hand to play in mixing the communities throughout town, the team said.

Such mixing is probably limited to an in-city range, so in the end, each city might actually be unique — they may each have their own DNA.

The full paper “Microbial Community Patterns Associated with Automated Teller Machine Keypads in New York City” has been published in the journal mSphere.

statue of libery

How climate change will shape New York City in the next 100 years

The most populated city in the United States is already experiencing its fair share of floods, hurricanes and heat waves, but these will only intensify in years to come. According to the  New York City Panel on Climate Change by the 2080s there could be an 8.8-degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature from 1980s levels and as many as six heat waves a year or three times as many as in the 1980s. Sea levels could also rise by as much as six feet, pressing the municipality for swift adaptive measures.

statue of libery

Image: Getty Images

Here are the highlights from the report:

  • “Mean annual precipitation has increased by a total of 8 inches from 1900 to 2013. Future mean annual precipitation is projected to increase 4 to 11 percent by the 2050s and 5 to 13 percent by the 2080s, relative to the 1980s base period.”
  • “Future mean annual temperatures are projected to increase 4.1 to 5.7 degrees F by the 2050s and 5.3 to 8.8 degrees F by the 2080s, relative to the 1980s base period.”
  • “Sea levels have risen in New York City 1.1 feet since 1900. That is almost twice the observed global rate of 0.5 to 0.7 inches per decade over a similar time period. Projections for sea level rise in New York City increase from 11 inches to 21 inches by the 2050s, 18 inches to 39 inches by the 2080s, and, 22 inches to 50 inches, with the worst case of up to six feet, by 2100.”

City authorities acknowledged the report – it’s not like they weren’t aware of the situation before. The municipality is currently making efforts to both curve emissions and enforce adaptive measures, particularly against floods. These include design work on a flood protection system for Manhattan’s Lower East Side and investments to protect vulnerable waterfront communities, among other programs. The city has also coated over 6 million square feet of roofs with reflective paint to cool buildings and combat urban heat island effect.

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“The task at hand is daunting — and that is why we’re making an unprecedented commitment, with a sweeping plan to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050, and a comprehensive, multi-layered resiliency plan that is already making neighborhoods safer,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press statement.

“It is virtually certain that sea level rise alone will lead to an increased frequency and intensity of coastal flooding as the century progresses,” the authors wrote.

The panel highlighted the most vulnerable NYC areas in the face of future floods. Image: NYC Panel of Climate Change

The panel highlighted the most vulnerable NYC areas in the face of future floods. Image: NYC Panel of Climate Change

If the higher end of the panel’s predictions come true, this means twice as much of New York City will lie within the 100-year flood plain in 2100, as compared to 2013. About 400,000 New Yorkers live within the current 100-year flood plain, which is more than any other U.S. city, including New Orleans. By 2016, people living within the FEMA zones will be required to buy flood insurance if holding mortgages from government-backed lenders.

“Sea level rise is an extremely challenging problem that requires both greenhouse gas emissions reduction and adaptation measures to successfully protect vulnerable coastal areas,” Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer, who contributed to the report, told The Huffington Post. “This report is a model of how technical information can support decision-making.”

“The report blends cutting-edge science with presentation of the information to policy makers in a risk-based framework so they are in a position to use it to make key judgments about how to protect a city from climate change,” Oppenheimer said.

The New York City Panel on Climate Change was introduced by former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2008 as part of the city’s long-term sustainability plan.

New York City to Ban Styrofoam in July 2015

The administration of New York City mayor Bill De Blasio announced today that styrofoam will be banned in the city starting in July this year, in an attempt to “green up” the city. The decision comes after the Department of Sanitation that Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) announced that styrofoam is non-recyclable.

New York City announced a ban on styrofoam – users have until July 2015 to find an alternative. Image via Black Business Now.

Styrofoam is actually a trademarked brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam currently made for thermal insulation and craft applications. It is owned and manufactured by The Dow Chemical Company. However, colloquially, in the US, styrofoam is used to name any expanded (not extruded) polystyrene foam, such as disposable coffee cups, coolers, or cushioning material in packaging, which is typically white and is made of expanded polystyrene beads.

The ban means that now the material won’t be used at all within the city – so you can say goodbye to the traditional coffee cups, food containers, and packing materials as well as insulation. Mayor De Blasio is optimistic about the ban’s environmental impact and the law is expected to keep some 30,000 tons of EPS waste out of New York landfills and streets.

“These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, today’s announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City.”

In 2013, a law was introduced to restrict the sale of single-use polystyrene containers. However, authorities still gave styrofoam a chance, as long as a method to recycle it would be deemed viable. This proved not to be the case, and at least in NYC, you can say goodbye to styrofoam!

 

Photo: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale

Whales and sharks sightings increase around NY waters, in response to cleaner waters

Photo: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale

Photo: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale

After cleaning the Hudson River, which spills into New York harbor, marine biologists report increased sightings of whales and sharks around the Big Apple’s waters. The cleaner waters now harbor more fish and nutrients, which in turn has led to a surge in numbers. Dolphins and seals are also on the rise.

The Hudson River used to be filled with pollution and garbage, but in the past five years the city’s public administration took dramatic action to curb water contamination. As a result, whales and sharks in the area have steadily risen in numbers, attracted by prosperous waters.  Gotham Whale, a wildlife tracking group, counted 29 whales, all humpbacks, in New York waters from the start of the feeding season in the spring to the end of July 2014, compared with 43 for the whole 2013 season, 25 in 2012 and five in 2011.

Photo: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale

Photo: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale

So, this year sailors and tourists had the chance to marvel at the breathtaking humpbacks’ “lunge feeding” on numerous occasions. In this spectacle, the humpback make a dashing rise above the water, engulfing thousands of pounds of fish in one gulp, while seawater is filtered through their baleen grills.

whale_nyc

Photo: Artie Raslich/Gotham Whale.

It’s not all good news, though. Rising numbers of whales meant that there were more reported accidents around New York and New Jersey harbors. As one of the busiest marine destinations in the world, increased vigilance is required on behalf of local authorities. Concerning sharks, from New Jersey to Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, fishermen have reported increased instances of seeing and reeling in great whites and other sharks. Apparently because of the better food, many sharks looking to migrate North for the summer feeding season decided to linger around New York. We’ve yet to find some actual numbers, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue a report soon enough. What’s perhaps most interesting though is a similar report of shark population surge, this time on the other end of the continent. The same NOAA reports great white numbers rising an estimated tenfold in Californian waters, after decades of decline.

New York beach enthusiasts and swimmers should not panic though. White sharks do not venture closer than one mile to shores.

“Shark attacks are so rare even in waters where humans and sharks are known to coincide,” said Paul Sieswerda, head of the Gotham Whale . “I know it’s the start of [Discovery’s] Shark Week, but that doesn’t concern me.”

via The Gurdian

Valentine’s Day Present: Name A Bronx Zoo Madagascar Cockroach After Your Loved One!

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
That cockroach is named
After you…

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, and as such every couple, and of course speculative business, is trying to come up with something special for this year to impress his loved one. A box of candy and a teddy beer? Too corny. Stay up all night and watch Lord of the Rings? Please… Name a star after her? A tad melodramatic I believe. Wait, I know, how ‘about naming a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach after your love one?

And would you know it, you’re in the nick of time, since The Bronx Zoo is holding a fund raiser in which you can send your darling (or maybe ex-girlfriend) a colorful e-card letting her know that you’ve named one of 60,000 Giant Hissing Cockroaches living in her honor. Not only will she be thrilled that find out she’s been associated with one of nature’s most resistant fiends to calamities, but also know that it’s all been for a good cause too, since all proceedings go to Wildlife Conservation Society. The e-card costs 10$ and you can order it online from the zoo’s website. Heck, it beats being in Fred Durst’s shoes.

“They’re extraordinary, which means if you’re cool about bugs, they’re really cool,’ says Steve Fairchild, a spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “We’ve got about 50 or 60 thousand in a hollowed out tree.”

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are the world’s largest roach species reaching nearly four-inches long. The hissing noise they make is a natural defense mechanism.

“Nothing says forever like a cockroach,” said Jim Breheny, Senior Vice President for Living Institutions and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “They are resourceful, resilient, and have been around for hundreds of millions of years.

6 geographical facts you’re not going to believe

Our world is a strange and awesome place — but some things are just hard to believe! Here are some mind-blowing geography facts.

Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined

Photo: LASZLO ILYES.

Canada is the second largest country on the face of the Earth, and it has a lot to brag about. Out of all the natural lakes in the world, more than 50% are situated in Canada.

Photo by Christianabend.

The number of lakes larger than three square kilometers is estimated at close to 31,752 by the Atlas of Canada, of which 561 lakes have a surface area larger than 100 km2, including four of the Great Lakes. All in all, a whopping 9% of Canada’s surface is covered in fresh water.

After Warsaw, Chicago has the largest Polish population in the world

Warsaw. Photo by Adrian Grycuk.

Warsaw is Poland’s capital, having under 3 million inhabitants, out of which 95% are have Polish origins. However, besides Warsaw, there isn’t a single city with a larger Polish population than Chicago, even though Poland number 40 million inhabitants.

Polish market

Polish market in Chicago

Chicago is the third largest city in the US, with 7.5 million people living in the metropolitan area. Due to the huge Polish population, the architecture and culture of the city greatly resemble that of Poland, and you can find Polish theaters, markets, even a newspaper.

Girls Wearing Traditional Polish Outfits. Photo by włodi

Girls Wearing Traditional Polish Outfits. Photo by włodi

It’s pretty difficult to say just how much of Chicago’s population is Polish, with estimates ranging from 150,000 inhabitants to 10 times more – there’s no exact number.

Chicago. Photo by Allen McGregor.

The largest city in the world is Hulunbuir, at 263,953 km2

Where would you expect to see the world’s largest city? China, India, Russia? Just so you can make an idea, this city in inner Mongolia (China) is about as half as big as France, and it’s just a city !

The grasslands of Hulunbuir. Photo by llee_wu

However, the urban agglomeration is just a small fraction of the city, with the area population density being otherwise really small. All accross the megacity you can see large landscapes of grassland, and industrialization is only existant in the center. For all its surface, the city has “only” 2.5 million inhabitants.

The driest place on Earth is near Ross Island, Antactica; it hasn’t rained there for millions of years

Photo by NASA.

Yes, Antarctica is the driest place on the Earth, with the Atacama desert being 2nd, and Sahara the third.

The deepest hole dug by man is over 12 km deep

The Kola Superdeep Borehole has a depth of 12,261 meters — that’ s one and a half Everest long, or deeper than the Mariana trench.

The core is under this rusty, metallic cap. Photo by Rakot13

The core is under this rusty, metallic cap. Photo by Rakot13

The borehole also led to some interesting discoveries, including a massive amount of hydrogen, so massive that the mud was actually “boiling” with it.

In New York, there are more Italians than in Rome, more Irish than in Dublin and more Jews than in Tel Aviv

The big apple stands out anytime, no matter who you are or what you’re interested in. But still, I was really shocked to see this. I mean, with Rome having more than 3.5 million people, Dublin at 1 million and Tel Aviv at more than 3, that’s almost 8 million people !

Times Square, New York. Photo by Terabass.

Not to mention the other nationalities (which are quite abundent), one can only wonder how many Americans are living in New York.

Now c’mon people, hit me with your best geographical fact !

Picture sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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