King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) signed an agreement with two Chinese companies for a project to manufacture environmentally friendly green plastic.
This project will utilize KAUST-developed technology based on high-mass aliphatic polycarbonate compounds. The experimental phase for this plastic is expected to take two years before commencing commercial production, and a specialized facility for this project will be constructed next year.
According to SPA, this green plastic is intended for use in manufacturing biomedical products and food packaging. Furthermore, up to 45% of the polycarbonate compounds developed by KAUST consist of environmentally friendly carbon dioxide.
The two Chinese companies expressed their interest in introducing the polycarbonate compounds developed by KAUST into the market, with the goal of reaching a production capacity of one ton before expanding into full commercial manufacturing.
Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification, Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli launched on Sunday the executive plan for the National Forestry Program.
The program falls within the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 to preserve the environment and protect natural resources and plant 10 billion trees as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.
The Vegetation Center has completed a detailed strategic scientific feasibility study that would allow the Kingdom to achieve its goal of planting 10 billion trees.
The goal is in line with the Kingdom’s national and international commitment to address environment and climate challenges and improve the quality of life of citizens.
Sebastian Steudtner already holds the world record for the largest wave ever surfed, but as the giant wave season begins, the German is looking to science and technology to chase a new high.
Harnessing the technical prowess of race car maker Porsche and autoparts specialist Schaeffler, Steudtner is seeking to dwarf his record 26.21-metre (86-foot) wave set at the Portuguese surfers’ Mecca of Nazare three years ago, said AFP.
“With the world record wave I realized I’ve reached a limit for how fast my board can go,” Steudtner told AFP of his last run, involving the wave reaching the equivalent of around eight storeys.
“Together with Porsche, we asked ourselves how we could make the board faster and more stable,” said the 38-year-old Bavarian.
Surfers who increase their speed can take on bigger swells — although it’s not just a question of a “need for speed” but a question of safety as well.
“Speed is so important to us because the bigger the wave, the more speed I have to have to get away from it,” said Steudtner.
“The power of the wave is an absolute force,” he said, “like having several buildings pushing you.”
Steudtner said the pressure of riding the biggest waves means surfers need to know their equipment will allow them to focus on the run itself.
Describing his record-breaking Nazare run in 2020, when he added almost two meters to the previous mark, he said: “I shoot across the wave at 80 kilometers (50 miles) an hour and concentrate 100 percent.”
“I don’t think about the past, the present and the future.
“I’m in the flow. I don’t have time to think ‘wow, this wave is beautiful’.”
‘A higher level’
Steudtner first fell in love with surfing at the age of nine when boogie boarding in France.
With his parents’ blessing, Steudtner traded landlocked Bavaria for Hawaii to pursue a career in surfing at the age of 16.
He worked on construction sites to earn money, while learning to surf in his own time.
“I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life that nobody understood at the time”.
His burning curiosity may have taken him across the world but it has also propelled changes to the sport itself.
Technological innovations could take the sport “to a higher level”, he said.
In order to truly let surfers harness and master the force of the ocean, surfboards need not only to be faster, but also more stable and maneuverable at extreme speeds.
Porsche engineers helped develop a new board with an adapted nose, tail and edges to improve the hydrodynamics.
Schaeffler developed a friction-reducing coating which helps the board glide through the water.
Through tests in a wind-tunnel simulator, Steudtner was able to see how he should position himself on the board as it handles monster waves.
“Through changes to the board and altering Sebastian’s stance, we were able to reduce air resistance by 20 percent,” said Markus Schmelz, a project manager at Porsche.
The innovations “made the board faster and more stable at high speeds”.
The new board, colored yellow and black, has since been delivered.
Steudtner, who trains daily in the gym to build up his muscle strength, was set for an autumn and winter chasing big waves.
Accompanied by a team of almost 30 people, including military doctors, Steudtner said he hopes to “understand the journey of the waves in the ocean”.
With the power of science and design in tow, the German may be only days away from testing the board on the biggest stage of all.
“I’ll have to give my best”.
Millions of Indians celebrated Diwali on Sunday with a new Guinness World Record number of bright earthen oil lamps as concerns about air pollution soared in the South Asian country.
Across the country, dazzling multi-colored lights decked homes and streets as devotees celebrated the annual Hindu festival of light symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, The Associated Press said.
But the spectacular and much-awaited massive lighting of the oil lamps took place — as usual —at Saryu River, in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state.
At dusk on Saturday, devotees lit over 2.22 million lamps and kept them burning for 45 minutes as Hindu religious hymns filled the air at the banks of the river, setting a new world Record. Last year, over 1.5 million earthen lamps were lit.
After counting the lamps, Guinness Book of World Records representatives presented a record certificate to the state’s top elected official Yogi Adityanath.
Over 24,000 volunteers, mostly college students, helped prepare for the new record, said Pratibha Goyal, vice-chancellor of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, in Ayodhya.
Diwali, a national holiday across India, is celebrated by socializing and exchanging gifts with family and friends. Many light earthen oil lamps or candles, and fireworks are set off as part of the celebrations. In the evening, a special prayer is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to bring luck and prosperity.
Over the weekend, authorities ran extra trains to accommodate the huge numbers trying to reach their hometowns to join family celebrations.
The festival came as worries about air quality in India rose. A “hazardous” 400-500 level was recorded on the air quality index last week, more than 10 times the global safety threshold, which can cause acute and chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks. But on Saturday, unexpected rain and a strong wind improved the levels to 220, according to the government-run Central Pollution Control Board.
Air pollution level is expected to soar again after the celebrations end Sunday night because of the fireworks used.
Last week, officials in New Delhi shut down primary schools and banned polluting vehicles and construction work in an attempt to reduce the worst haze and smog of the season, which has posed respiratory problems for people and enveloped monuments and high-rise buildings in and around India’s capital.
Authorities deployed water sprinklers and anti-smog guns to control the haze and many people used masks to escape the air pollution.
New Delhi tops the list almost every year among the many Indian cities with poor air quality, particularly in the winter, when the burning of crop residues in neighboring states coincides with cooler temperatures that trap deadly smoke.
Some Indian states have banned the sale of fireworks and imposed other restrictions to stem the pollution. Authorities have also urged residents to light “green crackers” that emit less pollutants than normal firecrackers. But similar bans have often been disregarded in the past.
The Diwali celebrations this year were marked as authorities prepared to inaugurate in January an under-construction and long-awaited temple of the Hindu Ram at the site of a demolished 16th-century Babri mosque in Ayodhya city in Uttar Pradesh state.
The Babri Masjid mosque was destroyed by a Hindu mob with pickaxes and crowbars in December 1992, sparking massive Hindu-Muslim violence that left some 2,000 people dead, most of them Muslims. The Supreme Court’s verdict in 2019 allowed a temple to be built in place of the demolished mosque.
Residents of a fishing town in southwestern Iceland left their homes Saturday after increasing concern about a potential volcanic eruption caused civil defense authorities to declare a state of emergency in the region.
Police decided to evacuate Grindavik after recent seismic activity in the area moved south toward the town and monitoring indicated that a corridor of magma, or semi-molten rock, now extends under the community, Iceland’s Meteorological Office said. The town of 3,400 is on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 50 kilometers southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.
“At this stage, it is not possible to determine exactly whether and where magma might reach the surface,” The Associated Press quoted the Meteorological Office as saying.
Authorities also raised their aviation alert to orange, indicating an increased risk of a volcanic eruption. Volcanic eruptions pose a serious hazard to aviation because they can spew highly abrasive ash high into the atmosphere, where it can cause jet engines to fail, damage flight control systems and reduce visibility.
A major eruption in Iceland in 2010 caused widespread disruption to air travel between Europe and North America, costing airlines an estimated $3 billion as they canceled more than 100,000 flights.
The evacuation comes after the region was shaken by hundreds of small earthquakes every day for more than two weeks as scientists monitor a buildup of magma some 5 kilometers underground.
Concern about a possible eruption increased in the early hours of Thursday when a magnitude 4.8 earthquake hit the area, forcing the internationally known Blue Lagoon geothermal resort to close temporarily.
The seismic activity started in an area north of Grindavik where there is a network of 2,000-year-old craters, geology professor Pall Einarrson, told Iceland’s RUV. The magma corridor is about 10 kilometers long and spreading, he said.
The fourth edition of the Media Oasis was launched in Riyadh on Friday with the aim of developing media coverage on major occasions and national events.
The Media Oasis, which coincides with the Kingdom’s hosting of three high-level summits this week, provides a cutting-edge space and an interactive environment for media professionals.
Stretching over 18,000 square meters, the Media Oasis showcases over 30 major national transformational projects, including NEOM, across six pavilions highlighting the developmental accomplishments of these initiatives.
The Oasis includes seven zones, namely the Welcome Zone, the Saudi Hospitality, the Communication, the Oasis Valley, the Cultural Bridge, and the Oasis Suites and Theater.
The Media Oasis is held in collaboration with key entities such as the Ministry of Sports, the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate, the Aseer Region Development Authority, the Diriyah Company, the Saudi Fund for Development, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, the Saudi Export and Import (EXIM) Bank, the Sports Boulevard Project, the Konoz Initiative, the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts (TRITA), and Jahez Company.
Saudi Arabia hosted on Friday the first Saudi-African Union Summit, and will hold on Saturday the Extraordinary Arab Summit and the Extraordinary Islamic Summit to discuss the developments in Gaza.
Melting glaciers are an “unprecedented challenge for humanity,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday, as he launched a call for nations to work together on slashing planet-warming emissions, protecting the environment and collaborating on scientific research into the Earth’s icy ecosystems.
Such a united effort is desperately needed, even though the war in Ukraine and the latest Israel-Hamas war are taking away much of the international focus and hamper global unity and cooperation, Macron said.
The French leader spoke at the Paris Peace Forum, an annual event involving governments, nongovernmental groups and others seeking dialogue around global problems such as climate change, children’s exposure to online violence, and threats to human rights.
The world, Macron said, is witnessing “the collapse of the cryosphere under the impact of climate change,” referring to parts of the Earth where water is in solid form, including glaciers.
“The most immediate and visible effect is the melting of the ice caps … it represents an unprecedented challenge for humanity,” Macron said.
Melting ice surfaces worldwide have an impact on biodiversity, rising sea levels and coastlines and they contribute to scarcity of drinking water, migration, greater release of CO2 and the risk of a new pandemic, he added.
“All these threats are real,” Macron said and called for urgent cooperation.
“Conflicts are once again on the agenda, in the Middle East and elsewhere and this makes our relations fragile, but we have to do our best to work closely together, in a peaceful way,” he added.
Heads of states, governments and diplomats from about 40 states attended the summit in Paris, including China. Russia was not invited, even though its territory includes part of the Arctic.
States issued a call to action to address human-caused climate change and biodiversity loss caused by melting ecosystems. Summit participants also launched a high-level group that will focus on the impact the melt will have on coastal towns facing rising sea levels and dwindling water resources in mountainous regions.
Ahead of Macron’s comments, Miriam Jackson, a climate scientist with the Kathmandu-based International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, called for politicians “to listen to the scientists and people and implement the necessary changes.”
She said the impact of melting glaciers are felt by billions in the form of rising sea levels, floods and unpredictable river flows.
“There is a huge human component to this rapid warming of our earth and it is our responsibility to slow down and reverse these changes, if possible,” Jackson said.
In mountains from the Alps to the Himalayas, glaciers are disappearing at alarming rates due to warming temperatures, with many predicted to disappear entirely by the end of the century, according to studies.
While human-caused climate change means the loss of glacier mass is irreversible in the short term, scientists say drastically reducing the burning of planet-warming coal, oil and gas could minimize the melt in the future.
It’s a similarly stark picture on the Earth’s poles. The Arctic is rapidly losing sea ice as global warming causes the ice to weaken and disappear. The frozen Antarctic has also seen dramatic ice sheet melt, disappearing glaciers and unusually high temperatures as the world heats up.
Overnight rain in New Delhi and its suburbs brought some relief to the Indian capital on Friday, where authorities were considering seeding clouds to improve the toxic air gripping the city.
The city, which was the most polluted in the world until Thursday, saw its air quality index (AQI) improve to 158 on Friday – a welcome change from the “hazardous” 400-500 level seen during the past week, according to Swiss group IQAir.
After the spell of rain which helped increase the wind speed, the local government postponed its decision to restrict use of vehicles between Nov. 13-20, Reuters reported.
The rule allows vehicles with odd registration numbers on the road on odd dates and even numbers on even dates. Environmental experts have previously said that it has been more effective in de-congesting roads than in bringing down pollution.
The local environment Minister Gopal Rai said the government will review the decision after Diwali, the festival of lights, when many people defy a ban on firecrackers, causing a spike in air pollution.
India’s weather department forecast intermittent rain over the city and adjoining areas on Friday, but the Indian capital is expected to remain largely dry on Saturday.
Kolkata in India’s east topped the global chart with an AQI of 189, while air in India’s financial capital of Mumbai has also markedly improved due to showers in nearby coastal areas.
This year, attention on the worsening air quality has cast a shadow over the cricket World Cup hosted by India.
Across the border in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, the heavy rains improved air quality which fell to 129, compared to 422 earlier in the week which had prompted a four day closure of most businesses and offices.
Amir Mir, the information minister for the Pakistani province of Punjab, of which Lahore is the provincial capital, said markets would now be allowed to open on Friday but restaurants, offices, schools, cinemas and parks would stay shut until Monday.
Scientists and authorities were earlier planning to seed clouds in New Delhi around Nov. 20 to trigger heavy rain, the first such attempt to clean the air.
A thick layer of smog envelops the city every year ahead of winter as heavy, cold air traps dust, vehicle emissions and smoke from burning crop stubble in neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana.
The local government of the city of 20 million people, spread over roughly 1,500 square kilometers, had shut all schools and stopped construction activities earlier this week to curb pollution.
Brazilian Amazon deforestation fell 22.3 percent in the year through July, hitting a five-year low, officials said Thursday, as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government fights to curb destruction of the world’s biggest rainforest.
Satellite monitoring found 9,001 square kilometers (3,475 square miles) of forest cover was destroyed in the Brazilian Amazon from August 2022 to July 2023, according to national space agency INPE’s annual deforestation tracking program, PRODES.
It was the first time the figure came in at less than 10,000 square kilometers since 2018, before the presidency of far-right ex-leader Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022), who presided over a sharp increase in clear-cutting in the Amazon, AFP said.
Under Bolsonaro, there was “an explosion of crime, following a complete dismantling of the government’s environmental structures,” Environment Minister Marina Silva told a news conference.
Since taking office on January 1, the Lula administration has dramatically increased anti-deforestation operations and fines for environmental crimes.
However, Silva admitted the government faces a tough battle to fulfill Lula’s committment to achieve zero deforestation by 2030, citing “a mix of drug- and arms-trafficking, land grabs, and illegal mining and fishing” that are fueling the destruction of the rainforest.
The Amazon is a key resource in the fight against climate change, with hundreds of billions of carbon-absorbing trees that help curb global warming.
But experts say it is increasingly fragile, and risks hitting a “tipping point” where large portions die off and turn to savanna.
“This is a forceful result that seals Brazil’s return as a partner in the fight against climate change,” Marcio Astrini, the head of the Climate Observatory, a coalition of environmental groups, said in a statement.
But conservationists urged the government to step up its crackdown on environmental crime.
“This is still a high rate” of deforestation, said Mariana Napolitano, of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Brazil office.
“The Amazon is suffering from a very high level of degradation, which makes the forest more susceptible to fires.”
The figures came days after INPE reported more than 22,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon in October, the worst in 15 years for the month, amid a severe drought in the region.
Surgeons in New York have performed the first-ever whole-eye transplant in a human, they announced on Thursday, an accomplishment being hailed as a breakthrough even though the patient has not regained sight in the eye.
In the six months since the surgery, performed during a partial face transplant, the grafted eye has shown important signs of health, including well-functioning blood vessels and a promising-looking retina, according to the surgical team at NYU Langone Health.
“The mere fact that we transplanted an eye is a huge step forward, something that for centuries has been thought about, but it’s never been performed,” said Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, who led the team.
Until now, doctors have only been able to transplant the cornea, the clear front layer of the eye, Reuters reported.
The recipient of the eye, Aaron James, is a 46-year-old military veteran from Arkansas who survived a work-related high-voltage electrical accident that destroyed the left side of his face, his nose, his mouth and his left eye.
The transplant surgery took 21 hours.
Initially, doctors were just planning to include the eyeball as part of the face transplant for cosmetic reasons, Rodriguez said during a Zoom interview.
“If some form of vision restoration occurred, it would be wonderful, but… the goal was for us to perform the technical operation,” and have the eyeball survive, Rodriquez added.
Whatever happens going forward will be monitored, he said.
Presently, the transplanted eye is not communicating with the brain through the optic nerve.
To encourage healing of the connection between the donor and recipient optic nerves, surgeons harvested adult stem cells from the donor’s bone marrow and injected them into the optic nerve during the transplant, hoping they would replace damaged cells and protect the nerve.
Transplantation of a viable eye globe opens many new possibilities, Rodriguez said, even if sight is not restored in this case.
Other research teams are developing ways to connect nerve networks in the brain to sightless eyes through insertion of electrodes, for example, to allow vision, he said.
“If we can work with other scientists that are working on other methods of restoring vision or restoring images to the visual cortex, I think we’re one step closer,” Rodriguez said.
James, who had retained vision in his right eye, knew he might not regain vision in the transplanted eye.
The doctors “never expected it to work at all, and they told me that from the get-go,” he said.
“I told them, ‘even if I can’t see… maybe at least you all can learn something to help the next person.’ That’s how you get started,” he said. “Hopefully this opens up a new path.”
James might still regain sight in the transplanted eye, Rodriguez said.
An undersea volcano erupted off Japan three weeks ago, providing a rare view of the birth of a tiny new island, but experts say it may not last very long.
The unnamed undersea volcano, located about 1 kilometer off the southern coast of Iwo Jima, which Japan calls Ioto, started its latest series of eruptions on Oct. 21.
Within 10 days, volcanic ash and rocks piled up on the shallow seabed, its tip rising above the sea surface. By early November, it became a new island about 100 meters in diameter and as high as 20 meters above the sea, according to Yuji Usui, an analyst in the Japan Meteorological Agency’s volcanic division.
Volcanic activity has increased near Iwo Jima and similar undersea eruptions have occurred in recent years, but the formation of a new island is a significant development, The Associated Press quoted Usui as saying.
Volcanic activity at the site has since subsided, and the newly formed island has somewhat shrunk because its “crumbly” formation is easily washed away by waves, Usui said.
He said experts are still analyzing the development, including details of the deposits. The new island could survive longer if it is made of lava or something more durable than volcanic rocks such as pumice.
“We just have to see the development,” he said. “But the island may not last very long.”
Undersea volcanos and seismic activities have formed new islands in the past.
In 2013, an eruption at Nishinoshima in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo led to the formation of a new island, which kept growing during a decade-long eruption of the volcano.
Also in 2013, a small island surfaced from the seabed after a massive 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Pakistan. In 2015, a new island was formed as a result of a month-long eruption of a submarine volcano off the coast of Tonga.
Of about 1,500 active volcanos in the world, 111 are in Japan, which sits on the so-called Pacific “ring of fire,” according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
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KAUST Collaborates with Two Chinese Companies to Develop Eco … – Asharq Al-awsat – English
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) signed an agreement with two Chinese companies for a project to manufacture environmentally friendly green plastic.