The UK must ditch its cars to meet vital emissions targets

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A new report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has found that the UK has next to no policies in place to deliver its legally binding emissions targets for 2023 to 2032, let alone its 2050 net zero target (The Register).

The committee recommends that the government bring forward its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035, criticised cuts to grants for the purchase of electric vehicles, and made recommendations for the construction of new charging infrastructure. But ultimately, it says, “in the long-term, widespread personal vehicle ownership does not appear to be compatible with significant decarbonisation,” and notes that electric vehicles come with their own significant environmental costs.

YouTube has followed Twitter and Facebook in taking down 210 channels that the company says  “behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong” (The Verge). 

Twitter was the first firm to raise the alarm about accounts that appeared to be run from mainland China with the intention of spreading misinformation about protests against Chinese interference in Hong Kong’s independent legal system. Google says that it “found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.” 

New research has shown that, if presented by made-up news stories that support our beliefs, our minds can generate vivid memories to support the non-existent events they describe (BBC News).

In the run-up to Ireland’s referendum to legalise abortion, 3,140 volunteers were shown six news stories – two of them fabricated tales of dubious behaviour by campaigners on each side of the issue. Almost half of the respondents reported memories of the fictional events, sometimes greatly embellished, particularly if they aligned with their existing political beliefs.

Brazil’s space research agency INPE has counted more than 72,800 fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 2019 so far (WIRED). For this time of year, that’s thought to be a new, harrowing, record. The blazes are threatening indigenous communities, destroying precious wildlife habitats and sending gigantic plumes of pollution skyward. The first indications of its impact on planetary CO2 seem dire: we’ve assembled the available data.

Russia’s latest International Space Station crewmember is a 160kg, 180cm android officially called Skybot F-850, but nicknamed Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) by researchers (Deutsche Welle). It’s scheduled to remain aboard the ISS for two weeks, where it will be commanded by cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov via an exoskeleton and VR headset to test its ability to operate a range of tools in zero-gravity.

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