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Op-Ed: To Meet New York’s New Climate Law, We’ll Have To Break the Car Culture




New York’s passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act — America’s strongest climate legislation — sets the state on a path toward greening the way we power and heat our homes, get around town, farm, and transport and manufacture goods.

The law seeks to make our economy carbon neutral by 2050, including a requirement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 85 percent. It mandates that we will obtain 70 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, moving to 100 percent clean power by 2040. A Climate Action Council of relevant state agencies and public stakeholders from all walks of life will set policy.

Transit advocates know that no discussion on fighting climate change is complete without talking about motor vehicles; now state law has enshrined that principle.

Put simply: Transportation is the number-one source of greenhouse-gas emissions in New York State, and the number-one offender is the internal-combustion engine. It will be a huge challenge, but we need to reduce the use of cars.

There are 11.3 million registered vehicles in New York, the overwhelming majority of which contribute not just to climate change, but also to serious public-health crises, including asthma, heart disease, and traffic deaths.

Technology has provided some fixes. Because conventional gas-powered cars emit 10 times more emissions than electric vehicles, the electrification of cars and buses and other zero-emission technologies can contribute to solving our carbon problem.

Vehicle electrification alone, however, won’t solve the climate crisis. Electric-vehicle batteries require heavy metals, like cobalt and lithium, which will become more rare and expensive in proportion to the rise in electric-car production. Lithium prices have been steadily rising, and increased by 45 percent between 2017 and 2018. Battery disposal also represents a challenge. We are still developing ways to recycle electric-vehicle batteries on a mass scale and, until that gap is closed, they will generate waste.

Realistically, meeting the requirements of the new climate bill will require a reduction in vehicle miles traveled: that is, people will have to get out of their cars and onto public transport, bicycles (or other micro-mobility devices) or their own two feet.

There’s no question that changing New Yorkers’ habits will be hard — but the law will necessitate it. We have to break the car culture; to do that, we must make it easy and desirable to do so.

Fortunately, plenty of alternatives to automobiles exist that can help us fight climate change. Such alternatives are in a much better position to succeed now that New York City has the first congestion-pricing plan in the nation.

Chief among them is a well-funded public transportation system in which subways, buses, and commuter rail work together. Yes, the city’s system desperately needs repair, and other systems across the state need more funds, too. If we are to truly make public transportation an alternative to cars, we must ensure the system runs smoothly and reliably; congestion pricing will help us do that.

Bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters are also vital to New York’s transportation future, but most urban streets will have to be redesigned for these modes of transportation.

The new climate law and congestion pricing should reinforce each other, however.

As congestion pricing opens up street space in Manhattan for alternative forms of transportation, the new climate law will create a holistic approach to redesigning streets statewide. Policymakers will devise land-use regulations promoting mixed-use streets in order to minimize reliance on personal cars and maximize opportunities for public transit, walking, biking, and other clean forms of transportation.

With a combination of electric or zero-emissions vehicles, a strong public transit system, and street infrastructure that can accommodate alternatives like bikes and scooters, New York will reduce emissions from the transportation sector and meet the requirements of the new law.


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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