Facebook launches a climate change information center and commits to eliminating ‘scope 3’ emissions by 2030

Even as Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, admits that climate change “is real” and that “the science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day” the platform appears unwilling to take steps to really stand up to the climate change denialism that circulates on its platform. 

The company is set to achieve net zero carbon emissions and be supported fully by renewable energy in its own operations this year.

But as the corporate world slaps a fresh coat of green paint on its business practices, Facebook is looking to get out in front with the launch of a Climate Science Information Center to “connect people with science-based information”.

The company is announcing a new information center, designed after its COVID-19 pandemic response. The center is designed to connect people to factual and up-to-date climate information, according to the company. So far, Facebook says that over 2 billion people have been directed to resources from health authorities with its COVID-19 response.

The company said that it will use The Climate Science Information Center to feature facts, figures, and data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and their global network of climate science partners, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and others. This center is launching in France, Germany, the UK and the US to start. 

While Facebook has been relatively diligent in taking down COVID-19 misinformation that circulates on the platform, removing 7 million posts and labeling another 98 million more for distributing coronavirus misinformation, the company has been accused of being far more sanguine when it comes to climate change propaganda and pseudoscience.

A July article from The New York Times revealed how climate change deniers use the editorial label to skirt Facebook’s policies around climate disinformation. In September 2019 a group called the CO2 Coalition managed to overturn a fact-check that would have labeled a post as misinformation by appealing to Facebook’s often criticized stance on providing and amplifying different opinions. By calling an editorial that contained blatant misinformation on climate science an editorial, the group was able to avoid the types of labels that would have redirected a Facebook user to information from recognized scientific organizations.  

Facebook disputes that characterization. “If it’s labeled an opinion piece, it’s subject to fact checking,” said Chris Cox, the chief product officer at Facebook.

“We look at the stuff that starts to go viral. There’s not a part of our policies that says anything about opinion pieces being exempted at all.”

With much of the Western coast of the United States now on fire, the issues are no longer academic. “We are taking important steps to reduce our emissions and arm our global community with science-based information to make informed decisions and tools to take action, and we hope they demonstrate that Facebook is committed to playing its part and helping to inspire real action in our community,” the company said in a statement.

Beyond its own operations, the company is also pushing to reduce operational greenhouse gases in its secondary supply chain by 75 percent and intends to reach net zero emissions for its value chain — including suppliers and employee commuting and business travel — by 2030, the company said. Facebook did not disclose how much money it would be investing to support that initiative.

Amazon buys the naming rights to a Seattle stadium, names it ‘Climate Pledge Arena’

As perennial front runner for the title of probably-the-most-evil tech company, Amazon has a long way to go to rehabilitate its image as a take-no-prisoners, industry-consolidating wealth machine.

In a bold effort to do so, the company announced today that it would buy the rights to Seattle’s KeyArena, a not particularly noteworthy stadium currently under redevelopment in the city. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos boasts that the stadium will “be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world.”

“Instead of calling it Amazon Arena, we’re naming it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action,” Jeff Bezos wrote on Instagram.

Other regular reminders for urgent climate action include the company’s own employees walking out to protest its lack of accountability on climate issues, its ongoing courtship with oil and gas companies and the sheer amount of times in a single day we see Amazon delivery vans dropping packages off on the same block.

Addressing its record of climate indifference, Amazon announced a $2 billion investment in sustainable efforts to reduce the company’s massive carbon footprint earlier this week as part of the same climate-friendly PR blitz.

Bezos himself announced in February that he would invest $10 billion of his personal wealth in a fund to address climate change, which is probably the least you can do when you’ve amassed an amount of wealth that’s incomprehensible to any normal person at the expense of workers, the environment and whatever else got in the way.

Cities are wrestling with a potential new exodus in the COVID-19 era, but Urban-X still believes in their future

Embodying the tensions that cities across the world face as they wrestle with controlling a pandemic in dense, urban environments, Urban-X, the accelerator for technology startups focused on the problems cities face, has launched its eighth, fully remote, cohort.

While the accelerator program backed by the BMW-owned Mini Cooper automaker and the venture capital firm Urban Us is based in Brooklyn, it’s conducting its latest program virtually, with participating startups coming from Atlanta, Sydney, San Francisco, Boston, Burlington, and Los Angeles, according to a statement.

“Long term, we are bullish on cities. I think that COVID and climate change share some things in common. If we think that COVID is disruptive, and not only a threat to economic livelihood but human life, climate change, is certainly a much larger threat,” said Micah Kotch, the managing director of Urban-X. “I think that cities have withstood pandemics previously. I think that we will moving forward. The clear things that we need are really good political leadership. We need to heed science and to act quickly based on the best possible science and we need collective action. And that’s where I see a lot of overlap between covid and climate.”

The latest batch of companies that Urban-X will work with includes:

  • Adiona: a machine learning-based service to optimize hourly workforces in logistics and supply chain management. 
  • Aquagenuity: a company providing search information about water quality for consumers
  • Climate Robotics: a manufacturer of robots that produce carbon-sequestering and soil-improving biochar
  • Mobilyze: the developer of a data analytics service for electric vehicle charging station site optimization
  • Resonant Link: the creator of a wireless charging service to power robots and electric vehicles.
  • Xtelligent: a company rethinking traffic signal technology

“Not everyone can afford to move out to the suburbs and not everyone wants to. Cities are going to continue to be the epicenters of creativity and innovation,” said Kotch. “While these last three-and-a-half to four months have been a real challenge, particularly here in the U.S. we are deep believers in the vibrancy and necessity of cities.”

Later stage investors think that the Urban-X thesis can create viable businesses, with about 85 percent of the accelerator’s companies going on to raise additional rounds of funding. Some of the most successful companies (in terms of capital raised) include Bowery Farming, Starcity, Mark43, One Concern, Future Motion, Skycatch, Seamlessdocs, Revivn, BRCK and Rachio.

“Technology, investment and mentorship have the power to advance the low carbon, resilient and high density future we need for our cities,” said Shaun Abrahamson, URBAN-X Investment Committee and Managing Partner at Urban Us. “We are thrilled to have this new group of founders join URBAN-X to build creative solutions that tackle climate change and the biggest issues facing our cities.”

Controversial Climate-Change Solution May Be In The Clouds

clouds In a move that has some environmentalists up in arms, a group of retired Silicon Valley engineers and scientists are proposing a new approach to fighting climate change. They want to brighten clouds. It’s one of the many solutions being proposed in the controversial industry of geoengineering. Read More

New York City Flooding: By 2050s, 800K NYers Could Be Living In Flood Zone

Superstorm Vulnerable GridNEW YORK — Officials say new projections show 800,000 New York City residents could be living in flood zone that would cover a quarter of the city’s land by the 2050s as rising seas and other effects of global warming take hold.

The number of 90-degree days in the city could double or even triple to echo what Birmingham, Ala., now has. And 8 percent of New York City’s coastline could flood just from high tides. Continue reading “New York City Flooding: By 2050s, 800K NYers Could Be Living In Flood Zone”