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Comic for April 22, 2019

Dilbert - April 23, 2019 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

Another judge sets back Trump attempts to open up federal lands to fossil fuels

Ars Technica - 1 hour 47 min ago

Enlarge / Coal mine in Utah. (credit: Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

On Friday, a federal judge in Montana District Court dealt the Trump Administration another setback pertaining to leasing out federal lands for fossil fuel extraction.

In an order (PDF), the judge said that the US Department of the Interior (DOI) had to conduct a review of the impacts of its decision to lease federal land for coal mining under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Under the Obama Administration, the DOI placed a moratorium on leasing federal land out for coal mining. The move was expected to have significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions: according to the Friday order, "the federal coal program, as of 2014, stands responsible for an estimated eleven percent of total United States greenhouse gas emissions." Coal use has tumbled in the five years since 2014, but it still remains a significant fuel source in many parts of the country.

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After the Galaxy Fold breaks in the hands of reviewers, Samsung delays launch

Ars Technica - 2 hours 12 min ago

The $2,000 Samsung Galaxy Fold was slated to come out April 26 in the US. It was supposed to be a triumph of Samsung's display technology—a product years in the making that would redefine the smartphone. Instead, it's being delayed. A report from The Wall Street Journal says the phone has been delayed until "at least next month." The report cites "people familiar with the matter" and says that the original launch plans were changed due to "problems with phones being used by reviewers."

Samsung Galaxy Fold

View more stories Samsung was suspiciously protective of the Galaxy Fold in the run-up to launch. It was announced alongside the Galaxy S10 in February, but while the S10 was put on display to be touched and tapped, the Galaxy Fold was only shown in a glass box. It wasn't until last week that people outside of Samsung were finally able to try the Galaxy Fold, when Samsung handed out review units to select members of the press. There were always durability concerns about the folding display, but when devices in the hands of reviewers sometimes lasted a single day before the displays died, the alarm bells started ringing.

The report from the Journal says, "The new rollout is expected in the coming weeks, though a firm date has yet to be determined." Apparently Samsung has flagged the current hinge design as one of the issues causing an early death. "Though the company’s internal investigation remains ongoing, the Galaxy Fold phone’s reported issues stem from problems affecting the handset’s hinge and extra pressure applied to the internal screen," the report says.

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There’s just no getting away from microplastic contamination

Ars Technica - 2 hours 56 min ago

Enlarge / The Pyrenees mountains, now with microplastics. (credit: flickr user: Paula Funnell)

Microplastics may be having a moment in the spotlight, as the public is increasingly aware of their presence in the environment around us. But as more evidence of their presence comes to light, it’s becoming clearer that we don’t yet have a handle on how big or bad the problem is. A huge amount of small plastic particles end up in the sea, but recent research has also found them in in lakes and mountain river floodplains, and even as airborne pollution in megacities.

A new paper in Nature Geoscience reports finding microplastics in a region that should be pristine: the French Pyrenees mountains. The researchers estimated that the particles could have traveled from as far as 95 km away, but they suggest that it could be possible for microplastics to travel even further on the wind—meaning that even places relatively untouched by humans are now being polluted by our plastics.

The mystery of the disappearing plastic

Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic are produced. In 2016, this figure was estimated to be around 335 million tonnes. We have no idea where most of this ends up. The amounts that are recovered in recycling plants and landfill don't match the amount being produced. Some of it stays in use, sometimes for decades, which explains part of the discrepancy. An estimated 10 percent ends up in the oceans. Although these numbers could change with further research, there's still a gap.

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