The home battery that stores renewable energy

(CNN)Throughout the German countryside, the evidence of an energy revolution is becoming part of the scenery. Wind turbines dot the hillsides and solar panels can be seen on the roofs of even the most rural farmhouses.

Though renewable energy is on the rise, a significant challenge has always been finding ways to store it on days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. In the small Bavarian town of Wildpoldsreid, technology company Sonnen is creating a battery that not only stores residential renewable energy, but allows users to even trade their excess energy with others.
“The specialty about Sonnen is that we provide homes with battery storage systems and make them more or less independent by connecting them to a virtual power plant called the Sonnen Community,” says CEO Christoph Ostermann.
Last year the company started selling their batteries to homeowners who do not have access to renewable energy collection devices such as wind turbines and solar PV systems. By decoupling the place of production and the place of consumption, Ostermann says more people in urban areas can begin using more renewable energy, even if they don’t produce it themselves.
“The energy world is becoming more and more decentralized and digitalized,” he says, “and our aim at the end of the day as a company is to provide, clean and affordable energy for all.”
The company started in 2010, and has sold around 30,000 battery systems, 75 percent of which in Germany.
The battery starts at approximately $7,000 and with an expected lifetime of 20 years, Ostermann says people can save money compared to buying power from the grid.
The Sonnen battery is made from lithium, the same material found in traditional smartphone and laptop batteries, but it’s engineered to offer a higher number of charge cycles, lasting longer.
“We are using a very specific cell chemistry which is called lithium iron phosphate, so our batteries perform easily 10,000 charge cycles.”
Along with residential usage, battery storage technology is becoming an increasingly popular solution to supporting grid infrastructure. After the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Sonnen and other renewable tech giants like Tesla, delivered residential battery units in an attempt to create a microgrid to bring power back to communities.
Just last month, Tesla also launched the world’s largest lithium ion battery in South Australia, to support the frequent blackouts that occur in the region.
Watch the video above to find out more about Sonnen batteries

Spokesman for Trump campaign adviser killed in January 20 hotel attack

(CNN)Glenn Selig, spokesman for Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates, was killed in the weekend Kabul hotel attack, according to a statement from spokesperson for The Publicity Agency and Selig Multimedia Inc., his Florida-based companies.

Four Americans were killed in the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, according to the US State Department.
“The United States strongly condemns the attack on January 20 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. We can confirm that there were four US citizens killed and two injured. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and wish for the speedy recovery of those wounded. Out of respect for the families of the deceased, we have no further comment,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Selig represented Gates in recent months, as Gates faces criminal charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Selig also played a role in promoting a legal defense fund for Gates in December.
“Unfortunately, we have received confirmation Glenn Selig was killed during the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel,” the Selig Multimedia representative said in the statement. “Glenn was a tireless professional, loyal friend and pillar of the community, but most importantly he was a loving husband and wonderful father.
“The loss for his family and friends cannot be measured nor conveyed strongly enough, but we thank everyone for the outpouring of support we have received,” the statement added. “Moving forward we kindly request privacy and compassion as we process this terrible situation.”
Selig’s firm’s spokesperson added: “Glenn was in Kabul on a potential success story involving Afghanistan and its steps to battle extremism. The focus was highlighting the country’s new president and constructing a democracy forum event for Afghani women.”
The spokesman declined to name Selig’s client for the Afghanistan work.
At least 22 people were killed during a 12-hour standoff with security forces after gunmen raided the hotel, Afghan authorities said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Sunday condemning the attack.
“The United States stands with the government and people of Afghanistan,” he said. “We remain firmly committed to supporting Afghan efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country. Violence like what we witnessed yesterday has no place in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world.”

US citizens killed in Kabul hotel attack

Washington (CNN)American citizens were among those killed in the weekend attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, US State Department officials told CNN.

The attackers were affiliated with the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry. The Taliban released a statement claiming responsibility.
Additional details, including the precise number of Americans killed, were not immediately available.
At least 22 people were killed during a 12-hour standoff with security forces after gunmen raided the hotel, Afghan authorities said.
Of those killed, 14 were foreign nationals and eight were Afghans, according to Najib Danish, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. Six gunmen were also killed by Afghan security forces responding to the attack, he said.
“The attack on the hotel, once again, shows the depravity of terrorists who seek to sow chaos. Sadly, we can confirm that Americans are among the victims,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
“We express our deepest condolences to our American families and to all the victims of the attack. We are grateful for the bravery displayed by the Afghan National Defense and Security forces. Had it not been for their speedy recovery of the wounded, more lives may have been lost,” she added.
The slain included nine people from Ukraine and one person each from Greece, Germany and Kazakhstan, Kabul Police Chief Salem Ehsas said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Sunday condemning the attack.
“The United States stands with the government and people of Afghanistan,” he said. “We remain firmly committed to supporting Afghan efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country. Violence like what we witnessed yesterday has no place in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world.”
The US State Department had warned last week of a possible attack by extremist groups targeting Kabul hotels.
The Afghan Interior Ministry blamed the Haqqani network for the attack. The group is based in the Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan and known for its high-profile attacks on Western targets in Afghanistan. The network maintains close ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and seeks to reestablish Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan mourns after ambulance bomb kills more than 100

Story highlightsThe attack occurred in the heart of what’s considered the most secure part of the cityIt’s renewing doubts over the Afghan authorities’ ability to keep people safe

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN)As Afghanistan mourned another deadly attack Sunday — one that raises questions about the potential for stability in the region — a top American general says US victory in Afghanistan is still a possibility.

The Afghan government declared a national day of mourning after an ambulance packed with explosives blew up in a crowded street in the capital of Kabul, killing 103 people.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Saturday attack, which injured 235 people, including 30 police officers, Kabul police chief Basir Mojahid said. It comes a week after militants stormed a Kabul hotel and killed scores in a 12-hour standoff.
Flags were flown at half-staff nationwide after the latest attack. The government set aside Monday as a public holiday and Tuesday as a day of prayer for the victims, according to presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi.
The blast Saturday occurred after the ambulance passed through a security checkpoint, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.
Police identified the attacker at a second checkpoint, Rahimi said, but couldn’t stop him before he detonated the explosives in a central area near the old Interior Ministry building, a hospital and diplomatic buildings.
The attack, in the heart of what’s considered the most secure part of the city, renewed doubts over Afghan authorities’ ability to keep people safe.
Meanwhile, the head of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told CNN that the attacks do nothing to dampen the United States’ resolve to help Afghanistan, and that victory in the war-torn country remains “absolutely, absolutely” possible.
Hotel siege
Afghanistan has had a deadly few days, with ISIS attacking an office of the aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, killing at least four people and injuring dozens.
Last weekend, gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing at least 22 people during a 12-hour standoff with Afghan security forces. Six gunmen were killed. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that assault.
Saturday’s bombing was not just another attack in the Afghan capital. Every time the so-called “ring of steel” in the city is penetrated, it challenges the government’s ability to remain in control of even its most important sanctuaries.
Strategy change for Taliban?
The Taliban’s swift claim of responsibility marked a contrast to a March attack on a key military hospital in Kabul that killed at least 30 people, many of them doctors and injured soldiers. The Taliban denied it was behind the hospital attack, and ISIS eventually claimed it.
This time, the Taliban had no such qualms. It’s possibly a sign the Taliban doesn’t want to lose out to its younger, nastier rival insurgency in the extremism stakes. A year ago, medical facilities were off-limits; now, an ambulance can be used as a bomb.
US President Donald Trump condemned the attack.
“This murderous attack renews our resolve and that (of) our Afghan partners,” Trump said in a statement.
“The Taliban’s cruelty will not prevail. The United States is committed to a secure Afghanistan that is free from terrorists who would target Americans, our allies, and anyone who does not share their wicked ideology. Now, all countries should take decisive action against the Taliban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them.”
The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan said the attack was “nothing short of an atrocity” that targeted a civilian area.
“While the Taliban claim suggested the purpose of the attack was to target police, a massive vehicle bomb in a densely populated area could not reasonably be expected to leave civilians unharmed,” Tadamichi Yamamoto said in a statement.
Strongholds vulnerable?
The latest attack comes at a crucial moment in the 16-year Afghanistan war. Last year, US and Afghan officials accepted that things had not gone well — that territory had been lost. This year, they insist, the Taliban will begin to lose territory again. Attacks such as this not only diminish morale but show strongholds as vulnerable.
A wounded woman is assisted at the site of the attack Saturday in Kabul.

A wounded woman is assisted at the site of the attack Saturday in Kabul.

Hundreds more US troops are en route to Afghanistan to begin a much riskier mission: training Afghan troops outside the wire. The mission will put Americans on the front lines, possible in deadly combat situations.
Speaking at an airbase outside Amman, Jordan, on Sunday, Gen. Votel said the recent attacks have served only to bolster the US commitment to Afghanistan.
“(The attacks do) not impact our commitment to Afghanistan, our commitment to the mission and seeing this through and our commitment about making sure that the Afghan national security forces have what they need to deal with this particular enemy,” he told CNN. “As horrible as this is, to me, it strengthens our resolve to help them move forward.”
Votel was in Jordan for a ceremony celebrating the delivery of Black Hawk helicopters to the nation. There, he also emphasized US commitment to its Arab ally, which borders Israel, Syria and Iraq.
“Jordan has been a fantastic partner for a number of years,” the general said. “I think what you saw in our demonstration here today is the maturity of our relationship. Jordanians are operating top-of-the-line equipment and doing a great job with it.”
Votel was also pressed on an issue closer to Jordan — a Turkish demand that the US withdraw its troops from Manbij, in northern Syria’s Aleppo Governorate, so as to allow Turkish forces to take on US-backed Kurdish forces in the region. He said such a withdrawal wasn’t in the offing.
“Right now, it’s not something we’re looking into,” he said.

Carnage in Kabul adds to US challenges in Afghanistan

(CNN)Afghanistan has observed a day of mourning for the 103 people killed in the bombing of a Kabul hospital on Saturday. It was the latest in a sequence of devastating attacks, underlining the difficulties the Trump administration faces as it reiterates Washington’s security commitment in Afghanistan.

Saturday’s attack follows a gun battle last week at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, which left 22 people dead, a suicide attack on the offices of Save the Children in Jalalabad, and an assault on a cultural center in Kabul at the end of last month that killed more than 40 people.
A year ago Trump spoke with US troops in Afghanistan — hours after his inauguration. “I’m with you all the way … we’re going to do it together,” he told them. It was a sentiment he repeated in condemning Saturday’s attack. General Joseph Votel — who leads US Central Command and was in Kabul when the bombing occurred — insisted “it does not impact our commitment to Afghanistan” and that victory is “absolutely” possible.
But in the past year, the Taliban has become stronger in many Afghan provinces. It now controls or contests control of at least 40% of the country, according to an official US assessment. The US relationship with Pakistan, seen by most as an essential player in Afghanistan, has deteriorated sharply. The central government in Kabul is weak and divided. It’s embroiled in a struggle with a powerful provincial governor, Atta Muhammad Noor, who was fired but has refused to step down. Corruption remains endemic, especially within the national police.
And the bloodshed has continued. At least 7,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in the past year. There were 2,640 civilian deaths in the first nine months of 2017, according to UN figures, though probably many more went unrecorded. Two-thirds were attributable to anti-government groups.
There have been local successes. Afghan security forces with US guidance have cleared the Taliban from a notoriously troubled part of Helmand province. But as Kosh Sadat and Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, have written in Foreign Affairs, “today, Afghanistan is struggling to survive,” and the Taliban’s “presence and influence are likely at their highest levels since the group lost power in 2001.”
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What is the US strategy?
President Trump set out his Afghanistan policy in August. It involves adding US troops (from 8,400 to a level of some 13,000 now and ultimately to about 16,000), and devolving decision-making to commanders in the field. And it stressed standing up Afghan forces. “The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do,” Trump said.
It was the opposite of what candidate Trump had promised: to get out of Afghanistan. But it was also a million miles from the ambitious counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan set out by General David Petraeus in 2010, an effort to deprive the Taliban of the conditions in which to prosper.
“We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” Trump said. There was one line about the possibility “someday” of a political settlement that might involve elements of the Taliban, but the administration has not pursued such a settlement with any enthusiasm.
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The United States is not getting much help from the international community either. Allies have less than 3,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan. In 2011, the United States and its partners had some 130,000 troops in Afghanistan. The United States is also at odds with Russia on Afghanistan (as on so much else). The top US general in Afghanistan said in April last year he was “not refuting” reports that Russia was providing weapons to the Taliban. Russia has denied providing the Taliban with arms. In turn, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has described the US reliance on force as a “dead end.”
Lies and deceit
After the 9/11 attacks, no one heard the “with us or with the terrorists” warning uttered by President George W. Bush more loudly than Pakistan, whose military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, quickly allowed the United States to use Pakistani territory to oust the Taliban.
Since then, Pakistani cooperation in the battle against extremist groups has ebbed and flowed. Rarely has the relationship been as bad as it is now. The United States has held back $255 million in military assistance. In his first tweet of 2018, President Trump said: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years and they have given us nothing in return but lies & deceit.” Pakistan’s Defense Ministry shot back that after 16 years of military and intelligence cooperation, the United States has “given us nothing but invective & mistrust.”
Insecurity in Afghanistan cannot be reduced if militant groups like the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network can use Pakistani territory as a launch pad. In the past decade, these groups have all had rear bases in Pakistan, and US officials have repeatedly accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye to, or even being complicit in, their activities — using them as proxies to deter post-Taliban governments from getting too close to its archrival, India.
Some analysts believe the spike in violence in Kabul may be related to the bad blood between Washington and Islamabad.
Over the years, Washington has tried a mix of charm, threats and cash to bring Pakistan onboard. None have worked very well. But ultimately, there is no political settlement in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s cooperation. So long as the Taliban and groups like the Haqqanis can use Pakistani cities such as Quetta and Peshawar as their logistical hubs, attacks within Afghanistan will continue.
More of the same?
Between 2001 and 2017, the United States spent some $830 billion fighting the war in Afghanistan. There is no way that this administration would propose, nor the US public support, another sizeable “surge” in the US military presence in Afghanistan. Trump himself has made that clear. And there’s no reason to think it would work any better than previous efforts in a country often dubbed the “graveyard of empires.”
As weak and divided as the current Afghan government is, the alternative — to Sadat and McChrystal — is likely worse, what they term “a repressive and ideological regime that supports transnational terrorist groups.” “Among a range of unpalatable choices, the best option is to pursue some version of the current policy,” they write.
In other words, do enough to prevent the Taliban reaching Kabul, chip away at their strongholds, drop massive bombs on the budding ISIS contingent and painstakingly try to improve the performance of every part of the Afghan state. Little wonder that President Trump refused to attach deadlines to his strategy.

Davos cochair: Why your backyard might save the planet

Sharan Burrow is general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and a co-chair for the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.

(CNN)In 1764, British weaver James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, a mechanized yarn-spinning machine that enabled one person in a textile factory to do the work of eight. Industrial innovation of this kind transformed what had been a rural workforce, and among the new industrial workforce were young children often subjected to terrible working conditions.

In 1833, after nearly 70 years of economic and social upheaval, the British Parliament banned labor by children under age 9.
In other words, it took a lifetime for government to catch up to the most inhumane social consequences of industrialization.
Sharan Burrow

Sharan Burrow

Just as the struggles of the Industrial Revolution eventually prompted new employment standards to reflect a changed workforce, we must consciously and conscientiously shape the emerging low-carbon economy through dialogue between governments, businesses and workers. Governments should also provide strong support for displaced workers, affected communities and low-income households. This is what will ensure a just transition into a world of renewable energy.
This week, business, government trade unions and civil society leaders gather in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum in pursuit of “creating a shared future in a fractured world.”
Much like the leaders of the Industrial Revolution, they can determine how change takes place and blunt its impacts.
How can they can make the low-carbon economy a driver of social inclusion? How can they help communities avoid the social pitfalls of breakneck economic transformation? And how can they simultaneously ensure change happens quickly enough to meet the Paris goal to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius?
It is no exaggeration to say that we are now living through a technological revolution as transformative and disruptive to how people work and live as the Industrial Revolution was more than 200 years ago. In 2016, coal industry employment in the United States dropped below 50,000, while solar and wind industry jobs were approaching ten times that figure.
These trends are persistent and global, driven by the fact that, since 2010, costs of new solar photovoltaic systems (used to supply solar energy) have dropped by 70%, wind by 25% and battery costs by 40%. Worldwide, the renewable energy companies employed 9.8 million people in 2016.
Evidence such as this shows that moving toward a low-carbon economy is a good thing for society as a whole as it benefits both the economy and the environment. Worldwide, pollution is linked to an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015, according to the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. Emissions reduction efforts are already improving health and economic outcomes: In the United States, investment in pollution control has returned $200 billion each year since 1980.
But depending on where you sit, these changes can feel like less of an opportunity and more of a threat. The confluence of corporate greed in the coal industry, increasingly cost-competitive renewable energy alternatives and the global response to climate change is being felt in palpable and personal ways by coal communities.
We cannot wait a lifetime for new jobs in the renewable energy sector to become good jobs with fair wages, or watch parents and grandparents dumped out of secure employment without pensions while communities die with no jobs left for younger generations.
It is entirely possible, however, to diversify local economies away from coal while providing strategic assistance and social protection. While tensions are high, the tradition of social dialogue holds the promise of just transition. In Port Augusta, Australia, for example, a community with workers and their unions at a dying coal-fired power station successfully lobbied for a solar thermal plant to be built in its stead. The plan was to allow local energy workers to transfer their skills to cleaner, more viable employment and the community to remain an energy hub.
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They are not alone. Other countries are embracing just transition policies. As China delayed or stopped work on 151 coal power plants, it also created a $15 billion fund for retraining, reallocating and early retirement of an estimated 5 million to 6 million people who will be laid off due to coal overcapacity. In the Canadian province of Alberta, the government has put in place a comprehensive just transition plan for workers and communities, developed in dialogue with them. And as Germany grapples with coal-fired power and climate targets, the government knows it must provide plans and funds for regional redevelopment and support for early retirement schemes for workers while sharing the costs of reform with the industry.
If we are to avoid dangerous levels of temperature rise, all governments must embrace the innovations that will enable us to accelerate climate action and the transformation to a low-carbon economy. But hope of a secure future for working families and communities requires the commitment to ensure there are no stranded workers and no stranded communities. The path to a sustainable future runs through everyone’s backyard. Just as it is all our responsibility to tackle climate change, it is also all our responsibility to ensure that a sustainable future holds a place for everyone.

Javier Bardem: The Antarctics penguins need us

Javier Bardem is an Oscar-winning actor who has joined Greenpeace’s expedition to the Antarctic to call for the creation of the largest wildlife reserve on Earth: an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary covering 1.8 million square kilometres. The opinions in this article belong to the author.

(CNN)I have a picture in my head. It’s impossible to fully convey, but it is a part of me.

I am sitting in a secluded bay. My hands are resting on the sand as a breeze drifts over the blue-green ripples by the shore. Boulders thrust out of the sea. They are teeming with small black and white penguins, waddling across the rocks and dropping into the ocean. It is magical: a window onto a little world which will continue long after I leave.
Twenty years later, this image now exists only in my head and in my heart.
Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem

You’re probably reading this on your phone. Or maybe your computer screen. The world around you is frozen. The light of your screen is your focus. You are removed from your surroundings.
Screens are so often our window onto the world. We filter the infinite currents of information and images through them. They shape how we think and they catalogue our experiences.
That’s why I’ve never been on social media. And it’s also why I’ve just joined social media.
Right now, the window I’m looking through is not a screen. It’s round. It’s a porthole on a ship, and a portal to a majestic world of towering ice and shimmering sea and an abundance of life.
I’m lucky enough to be directly experiencing the Antarctic and the vast blue wonder of its ocean. Penguins are plunging into the water, just like in my memory of Boulder Beach in Cape Town. If I’m even luckier I’ll see the great whales, leopard seals and a whole other existence down at the bottom of our planet. It feels a lifetime away from my home in Madrid.
Which brings me back to social media. Last week I joined Twitter and Instagram — not to share updates about my breakfast — but to share this journey I am taking to the end of the Earth.
Adélie penguins in Hope Bay on Trinity Peninsula, Antarctica.

Adélie penguins in Hope Bay on Trinity Peninsula, Antarctica.

I’ve joined a Greenpeace expedition to bring the incredible diversity of life in the Antarctic closer to home for people who may never get a chance to see it. Because we’re all connected to what happens here, even if we don’t know it.
And I want to use social media to urge you to join me. To join me not just on this voyage, but in a mission to create the largest wildlife reserve that the world has ever seen: an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.
This planet is a blue planet. Two-thirds of it is covered by seas which produce so much oxygen that they give us every second breath we take. The oceans are far bigger than every continent combined, but climate change, pollution and overfishing are killing them.
Now for the good news. This year we have an opportunity to create the largest protected area on Earth in the Antarctic Ocean. It would not only protect the vibrant life here, like Emperor penguins and blue whales, but it would ensure a healthy ocean to help mitigate against the worst effects of climate change. It would be over three times bigger than my home country of Spain and 200 times the size of Yellowstone National Park.
It would mean humans couldn’t exploit the area, like the fishing vessels which catch Antarctic krill, a tiny creature like a shrimp which is one of the most important species in the food web down here, eaten by Adélie penguins, humpback whales and almost everything else.
The proposal to create this vast marine reserve is being put forward by the EU when the Antarctic Ocean Commission meets this October. It covers a huge area in the Weddell Sea and around the Antarctic Peninsula, which otherwise could see expansion by the krill fishing industry to make products like Omega 3 fish oil and feed for fish farms.
Gentoo penguins in front of Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise in Hope Bay on Trinity Peninsula, Antarctica.

Gentoo penguins in front of Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise in Hope Bay on Trinity Peninsula, Antarctica.

In this region, where marine life is already under acute pressure, these vessels could end up competing for food with penguins and whales, in the foraging grounds they rely on.
Beyond protecting marine life, scientists are only just beginning to understand the crucial role that healthy oceans play in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, as oceans act as carbon sinks. This process could be even more significant in the polar regions.
The members of the Antarctic Ocean Commission, including the US, EU, Russia and China, have already shown that they can put aside their differences for the sake of our oceans. Just last month a massive marine reserve came into force in the Ross Sea in the Antarctic. It was a triumph of international cooperation and will have a tremendous impact in safeguarding marine life. But if we’re to rise to the challenges the oceans are facing, we have to think even bigger.
I have an image in my head. It’s a huge expanse of pristine sea and ice, of bustling penguin colonies, and a safe haven for blue whales: the largest animals the world has ever known. It is a natural world free to thrive because we have allowed it to, and because as a race, we humans know the impact that we can have. It’s a vision to protect the Antarctic.
An image in your head and in your heart is a powerful thing. And I would like to offer you mine.

Soon, this major world city will likely run dry

(CNN)In Cape Town, South Africa, they’re calling it “Day Zero” — the day when the taps run dry.

City officials had recently said that day would come on April 22. This week, they moved up the date to April 12.
Cape Town is South Africa’s second-largest city and a top international tourist draw. Now, residents play a new and delicate game of water math each day.
They’re recycling bath water to help flush toilets. They’re being told to limit showers to 90 seconds. And hand sanitizer, once somewhat of an afterthought, is now a big seller.
“Unwashed hair is now a sign of social responsibility,” resident Darryn Ten told CNN.
People collect water from pipes fed by an underground spring in St. James, a Cape Town suburb.

People collect water from pipes fed by an underground spring in St. James, a Cape Town suburb.

The genesis of the crisis
So how did this happen? How does a major city in the developed world just run dry?
It’s been a slow-motion crisis, exacerbated by three factors:
The worst drought in more than a century, which has pushed Cape Town’s water scarcity into a potentially deadly horizonThe metro area’s population, which is 4 million and growing quickly.A rapidly changing climate.
Even with the predicament they find themselves in, residents haven’t dropped their water use significantly, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said.
The city has lowered the water pressure in its mains to help stretch the water supply. But usage is still 86 million liters above its target goal.
“It is quite unbelievable that a majority of people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards Day Zero,” a statement from the mayor’s office said. “We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them.”
Starting February 1, residents will only be allowed to use 50 liters, or a little over 13 gallons, of water per person, per day.
A campaign to help Cape Town avoid "Day Zero" offers residents some water-saving tips.

A campaign to help Cape Town avoid "Day Zero" offers residents some water-saving tips.

Coping with the shortage
The shortage is forcing some residents to get creative.
Alistair Coy, who’s vacationing in Cape Town from the United Kingdom, strains the water that’s left over from boiling potatoes into a bucket.
Many residents are reusing bucket water, such as Anne Verbist, who recycles her tap water to tend to her plants.
“We catch all water from the tap to wash hands and dishes and use it for the plants,” she said.
But creativity is also creating problems.
“People (are) buying anything that can hold water,” resident Richard Stubbs said. “No buckets, no (gas cans) or drums (are) in stock. So people (are) buying bins, vases and large storage boxes.”
Some then fill up these containers with water from the city supplies — further feeding the crisis.
Worries about drinking water
Verbist and some other residents said that while they use tap water for household needs, they are reluctant to drink it.
“They claim it is fine to drink, but the kids were having tummy issues,” she said.
So now, she and her family trek to the Newlands Spring to get their allotted liters of water twice a month. They tried to replenish their drinking water reserves Monday, but the line was too long. They went back the next day.
Lincoln Mzwakali said his tap water “tastes funny” as well, so he relies on the spring.
“Many neighboring communities have started depending on it,” he said.
CNN asked the city of Cape Town about the water quality concerns that some residents reported but has not received a response.
People carry water collected from a natural spring earlier this week in Cape Town.

People carry water collected from a natural spring earlier this week in Cape Town.

Long lines and bare essentials
It’s not lost on residents that “Day Zero” is fast approaching.
“It’s frightening, especially when you actually see the dams where we get our water from,” Verbist said.
Water levels at dams supplying the city have dropped 1.4% in the last week, and video taken Tuesday of the city’s largest dam, Theewaterskloof, shows an almost-barren reservoir bed.
Some who have money to leave Cape Town until the crisis subsides are doing so. Darryn Ten plans on doing just that.
“Basically, everyone I know who is in the position to be able to leave is doing so,” he said. “The consensus is that everyone who can get out of town should do so in order to help lessen the burden.”
But there are those who can’t — the elderly, disabled and the impoverished.
“They don’t have the money to buy water,” Verbist told CNN.
“It’s been a hard transition because a lot of Capetonians aren’t understanding how we got to this point when the municipality was well-informed that we would experience a drought,” Mzwakali said. “There are a lot of angry people and not enough answers on how this is going to be resolved.”

512 GB MicroSD Card Revealed, And It's Perfect For Nintendo Switch

As computer storage gets progressively cheaper, the capacity of microSD cards continues to go up. As a result, what would seem absolutely unbelievable only a few years ago is now possible: a 512 GB microSD card was recently revealed, becoming the biggest microSD ever created.

It comes from manufacturer Integral Memory, whose card overtakes the previous record holder by a significant margin. SanDisk’s 400 GB card is now in second place, although, as The Verge points out, SanDisk still has the edge in speed: Integral Memory’s microSD comes in at 80 MB/s, while SanDisk’s is at 100 MB/s.

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The new card also happens to be classified as the SDXC UHS-I U1 format, meaning that it can be used to capture full HD video from cameras–and it can be used in a Nintendo Switch. The Switch actually supports such microSDs up to 2 TB in capacity, although obviously such cards don’t exist yet.

In the meantime, you can grab one of these Integral Memory cards to download all the games you could want. In fact, according to our best guess using this list, you likely could download the entire current Nintendo Switch library to this card–and still have about 50 GB to spare.

There’s no word yet on the price, but it’s likely that you’ll have to shell out quite a bit of money for it when it’s released in February. The SanDisk 400 GB card, after all, still costs $240 on Amazon. But storage continues to get cheaper every year, so microSD cards of similar capacities will probably be widespread after a few years.

N.C.A.A. Opens Investigation of Michigan State Over Nassar Case

Lawrence G. Nassar, a former doctor with Michigan State and U.S.A. Gymnastics, in court on Tuesday. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal, via Associated Press

The N.C.A.A. has sent a letter of inquiry to Michigan State University, formally opening an investigation into how the university handled the case of Lawrence G. Nassar, the sports doctor who sexually assaulted scores of female athletes.

Dr. Nassar spent decades on the faculty at the university and treated its athletes as well as members of the United States national gymnastics team.

“The N.C.A.A. has requested information from Michigan State about any potential rules violations,” said Donald M. Remy, the association’s chief legal officer, on Tuesday.

N.C.A.A. bylaws require colleges to protect the health, safety and well-being of athletes. Among those who have said Dr. Nassar abused them are members of the Michigan State cross country and softball teams. Kathie Klages, the former gymnastics coach who retired last year, has been accused of seeking to cover up allegations against Dr. Nassar.

Several years ago, the N.C.A.A. was widely criticized for how it handled a case involving Penn State University in which Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant football coach, sexually abused young boys. (Sandusky is serving a decades-long prison term.)