5 Things you need to know before the markets open in Australia and around the world

1. Ten Technologies That Could Save the World

 After decades of rapid acceleration of technology, do we finally have the tools at our disposal to transform the future?

 Pressure on firms and consumers alike seems to be increased from all angles, including issues such as climate change, pollution, food security, and the pervasiveness of plastics.

Masda, Abu Dhabi’s Future Energy Company, in partnership with The National newspaper and the World Future Energy Summit at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) have launched a new report titled “The Future of Sustainability”, highlighting innovations that can drive us towards a low carbon, sustainable planet.

A few of the most impactful technologies identified in the research include blockchain systems that enable electricity sharing, peer-to-peer solar energy sharing platforms, a 3D printable solid-state battery powered by vegetable oil, and environmentally friendly paints that improve energy efficiencies.

The report impresses on its reader the importance of young people, as the global demographics tend downwards. Most of this youth believe that climate change is the biggest threat to their future. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, education is identified as key to maintaining the momentum that will allow the achievement of sustainable goals.

H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said, “The world today is witnessing a shift from the business-as-usual paradigm to a more sustainability-conscious one”.

With continued investments and innovations in biotechnology, water saving measures, waste management and smart city transit technologies on show during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, hope about a more sustainable future is taking shape.

2. NASA Spots Gaping Holes in Mars Curiosity Wheel

The rough landscape has taken its toll on the plucky Curiosity rover, but its still business as usual as its mission continues.

A routine checkup revealed pictures of NASA’s Curiosity rover wheels this week, with some dramatic holes and cracks visible in the aluminium. The checks follow years of wheel monitoring by NASA, who have seen the damage grow from small dents and holes to its current state of disrepair.

NASA has already implemented measures in order to safe-keep the six wheels used by the rover. This has included a software update adjusting to reduce the speed of the rover and reduce the pressure from rocks.

In 2017, NASA said that it expected the wheels to last for the lifetime of the mission. It has since travelled over 12 miles (19 kilometers) on Mars since its landing in 2012.

The Curiosity rover will continue its journey across the Mount Sharp area by travelling to Gale Crater, where the NASA team will take another look at the wheels.

3. Solar Power Outperforms Wind as Renewable Energy Becomes Commonplace

Sustainable energy sources are losing their niche status and becoming more commonplace according to the latest industry research.

In its examination of the renewable energy infrastructure space, Fitch Ratings research showed that solar energy was leading the field by consistently outperforming wind power on the global playing field.

However as the renewable resource industry remains “inherently volatile” as the resource in question is not easily controlled. Solar projects have provided a beacon of stability in this field, though their track record of strong performance is short.

The report highlights lower operational risk, better generation performance and lower volatility for solar projects. Fitch has upgraded 19% of its solar projects compared with just 1% of its wind projects. Additionally, 12% of wind projects have been downgraded.

4. NASA says Earth was Purple Over 1 Billion Years Ago

One molecule may have caused our blue-green Earth to be an entirely different color in the past.

A seminal moment in human history came when we first saw our planet as a beautiful and fragile “pale blue dot” in a picture from space. It helped to inspire peace and environmental movements, providing a more holistic and planetary view of political and social actions.

But things may not have always appeared so blue. According to a new study form NASA, Earth may have spent the first 2 billion years of its existence as a purple planet, all thanks to a purple-tinted molecule called retinal.

As a simpler molecule, retinal was more abundant in Earth’s early environment and was likely the first dominant molecule allowing organisms to absorb sunlight (before chlorophyll).

Things changed 2.4 billion years ago, with the dramatic increase of free oxygen in our atmosphere, precipitating what is called the Great Oxygenation Event. Likely brought about by the proliferation of cyanobacteria, these blue-green algal organisms are able to photosynthesize by using chlorophyll, a green pigment. The findings could help us understand more nascent environments on other planets, as different colours may give away the biological status of the atmospheres.

5. Political Stalemate As May Struggles to Achieve Brexit Deal

As the deadline for Britain’s exit from the European Union draws closer, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are locked in a political stalemate that threatens to delay the entire process.

Following a landslide defeat for her Brexit deal in Parliament on Thursday, Theresa May has been engaging with senior politicians from six other parties to try and reach a compromise deal.

Yet less than 24 hours after the talks began, her refusal to give up her red lines has created a political stalemate with the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

A pre-condition of discussions for the Labour leader has been for May to rule out the possibility of a no-deal exit, something that May has been unwilling to grant. Instead, the U.K. government has now put military reserves on standby in preparation for the scenario. The European Union has matched these preparations by beginning to provide funding for a no-deal divorce.

With the leaving date approaching and no deal in sight, speculation is growing on the delay of the official Brexit date. Some European countries have begun publicly floating the idea of an extension of this process.

The government has confirmed that Parliament will vote on May’s Plan B for Brexit on January 29th. Meanwhile, the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum has published the results of a YouGov poll that shows support for remaining in the EU. Separately, the government has shared research with MPs to show that a second referendum would be unfeasible.

 

Andrew Mortimer
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