Metal shapers: 3D metal printing firm latest ASX hopeful

Robotic metal printing startup AML3D is vying to be the latest 3D printing stock to hit the ASX boards, though its chief executive says despite enthusiasm about the sector, growth will take patience.

"It does take time, and it does need investment," Andrew Sales said.

AML3D’s Andrew Sales (left) with an employee, said it’s hard to grow 3D printing startups organically without shareholder investment.

AML3D pioneered a metal printing approach called wire arc additive manufacturing. It draws inspiration from the standard welding process but uses robotics and software to build layers of the material its printers work with which allows for freeform building and means metal parts can be designed without traditional size restrictions of other methods.

The company has also launched a portable 3D printing hub called Arcemy that it wants to sell to businesses in sectors like defence so they can print individual parts as needed even if they are in remote locations.

AML3D this week launched its initial public offering raise asking investors for $9 million with shares at 20c each for the Adelaide-founded business to expand its design pipeline and its printing services into Singapore.

Last year the technology received certification from Lloyd's Register, the global firm providing inspection and certification for firms in the manufacturing, marine and shipping spaces.

Mr Sales said external certification was critical for the business as it started to make its pitches to some of the world's biggest ship and airline builders.

AML3D's technology is targeted at these industries as well sectors like rail and defence, and Mr Sales said the approach was a more cost-efficient way of printing a number of individual machinery pieces that sit within products like aircraft.

If it hits the ASX boards in the coming months, the startup will join a cohort of other 3D printing stocks including Titomic, Aurora Labs, 333D, Robo3D and Oventus.

These peers are using novel printing methods to create everything from defence parts to 3D-printed mouth guards designed to help treatment of sleep apnoea.

They are all hopeful to cash in on the growth in the sector: IDC puts global spending on 3D printing at $US22.7 billion ($US33.7 billion) by 2022.

Listed Australian 3D printing stocks have had a bumpy couple of years. Titomic, which is focused on printing large titanium components, was a market darling two years ago after listing on the ASX at 20c and hitting as high as $3.00 in 2018.

However its share price was down 60 per cent over the past 12 months, dropping to 82c this week.

Mr Sales said looking across the broader 3D printing sector showed progress from idea to commercialisation for companies was a long one and many businesses had to do significant legwork before getting deals.

"I think that classically what’s happened is that there is a huge opportunity but it's taking a bit longer than what people may have planned," he said.

Like companies before it, AML3D is making its pitch to investors before securing significant revenues: the company generated just under $40,000 from customers last year but its net cash used in operating activities was $687,000.

Mr Sales defended listing so early in the company's journey, saying the funds would allow the business to expand globally and pursue more contracts in the South-East Asian market.

The printing game, he said, naturally required longer-term capital support to build momentum.

"It would be fantastic to build a business organically and keep it private. But we're in a space where to grow organically is near impossible."

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Armoured car used in Cold War that is completely road legal could be yours for £20,000

AN ARMOURED tank used in the Cold War that is completely road legal is set to go under the hammer for £20,000.

The Mark II Ferret comes with a replica machine gun and thick armoured plating which can protect drivers from landmine explosions.

Built by Daimler, the scout car was used by the British Army of the Rhine in Germany during the 1960s and 1970s.

After it decommissioned in the 1990s, the model was picked up by private collector Andrew Adams.

The hulking motor was originally equipped with a machine gun on its turret to protect occupants, but has since been replaced with a replica.

It boasts a 4.25-litre Rolls Royce engine that can propel it to speeds of 50mph, with the vehicle only having 7,000 miles on the clock.

The tank is even classified as a classic vehicle, meaning it's tax exempt and doesn't require an MOT certificate.

The driver sits in a seat low to the ground with a front hatch to look through, while the passenger can peak through the turret.

The four-tonne machine is expected to get plenty of interest when it goes up for auction in May.

Ned Cowell, arms and armour expert at Woolley and Wallis Auctioneers, said: "It is enormous fun to drive and is remarkably easy.

"The interior is fairly compact and you are surrounded by a lot of metal. There is a holder for maps and smoke grenades right next to the driver.

"The steering wheel position is slightly above you and points down at your lap and you have a hatch on three sides of you to look out of.

"But if you are under attack you can pull the hatch up and look through vision slits to drive.

"It is a bit noisy but is probably just as loud as a tractor.

"It a military vehicle that is now accessible to normal people to own without having to have a massive private estate to drive it on.

"It is road legal and is not too big to handle on ordinary roads. It would certainly turn a few heads if you drove it into your local supermarket car park."

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Elon Musk is launching SIXTY 'internet satellites' today in defiance of 'space junk' critics

ELON Musk plans to send another 60 internet satellites into space today – just two weeks after a launch took the same number into orbit.

The tech billionaire's rocket firm SpaceX is launching the satellites in defiance of angry critics who say Musk is clogging up Earth's orbit with "space junk".

Starlink is Musk's bid to create a network of satellites in space that will beam internet back down to Earth.

Dozens of satellites have already been launched – and Musk has approval to send tens of thousands more into orbit.

Just last month, a 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket took 60 satellites into space, where they will orbit 341 miles above Earth.

And a further 60 satellites will be carried into space on Monday February 17, at 10.05am New York time (3.05pm UK time).

But despite his good intentions, Musk is facing growing criticism from the astronomy community.

There have been concerns that humanity could be trapped on Earth by too much space junk in Earth's orbit.

That's according to one space scientist, who says Musk's plan could create an impenetrable wall of space junk around our planet.

A catastrophic clutter of space debris left behind by the satellites could block rockets from leaving Earth, an effect known as "Kessler syndrome".

"The worst case is: You launch all your satellites, you go bankrupt, and they all stay there," European Space Agency scientist Dr Stijn Lemmens told Scientific American.

"Then you have thousands of new satellites without a plan of getting them out of there. And you would have a Kessler-type of syndrome."

It will take thousands of years for any SpaceX satellites left in our orbit to descend to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere.

The firm says it's already taken steps to avoid cluttering up the region. It's launching the satellites into a lower orbital plane than most space tech to avoid collisions.

Even with such precautions, mega-constellations like Starlink will results in 67,000 potential collisions per year, another space scientist warned.

"This is something we need to pay attention to,” aerospace engineer Glenn Peterson told MIT Technology Review. "We have to be proactive."

The Starlink satellites are tightly packed into the nose of one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, which is currently poised on a launchpad at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Musk has previously said he plans to send up nearly 12,000 satellites by the mid-2020s.

If everything goes to plan for SpaceX then internet users across the world could have 40 times faster internet speeds no matter where they live.

How much this service will cost has not yet been revealed but Musk intends to keep prices low.

What is Starlink?

Here's what you need to know about Elon Musk's satellites…

  • Starlink is a satellite project led by billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk
  • Musk intends to put 12,000 satellites into the Earth's orbit so they can provide cheap WiFi to the whole world
  • SpaceX also intends to sell satellites for military, scientific and exploratory purposes
  • The satellites are being launched on top of unmanned Falcon 9 rockets
  • How they will affect the night sky is causing concern as they look brighter than expected
  • It will take at least 12 trips to take all of the satellites into Space and they will be staggered at different heights above the Earth

Last year, astronomers complained that the satellites were appearing as bright trails of light in the night sky.

"Wow!! I am in shock!! The huge amount of Starlink satellites crossed our skies tonight," said Clarae Martínez-Vázquez, an astronomer at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in northern Chile.

"Our DECam exposure was heavily affected by 19 of them. The train of Starlink satellites lasted for over 5 minutes.

The astronomer added: "Rather depressing…this is not cool!"

Back in June, the International Astronomical Union issued a statement complaining about the reflective Starlink satellites.

It argued that the probes could be "detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes".

In November, Musk's Starlink satellites were accused of "photo-bombing" footage of the Unicorn meteor shower.

Bill Cooke, the lead of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told Space Weather that the video of the satellites over the rare Unicorn meteor shower was a "real eye opener".

He added: "This kind of thing could force us to change how we write software to auto-detect meteors."

The Global Meteor Network (GMN) caught the footage on camera at the Farra Observatory in Italy on November 25.

GMN has over 150 meteor cameras all over the world and over half of these caught the Starlink satellites in action.

University of Western Ontario meteor researcher Denis Vida stated in a GMN blog post: "One has to be concerned how will our skies look like when hearing that there are plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites.

"This might completely deny us to do any optical meteor observations as soon as 2024."

In other news, a supersonic Nasa X-plane that's as quiet as the "thump of a car door" is nearly ready.

Nasa has unveiled the design of a moon lander that could be taking astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024.

And Nasa recently revealed a surreal photo of Earth taken from 4billion miles away.

What do you think of Musk's orbital antics? Let us know in the comments!

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UK Property: Asking prices soar as buyers flock back to the market after Brexit

Latest data from property search portal Rightmove suggests that the price of properties which have been listed for sale over the last four weeks have reached a new high, rising by 0.8 per cent on a monthly basis, leading to an average increase of £2,589, which is just £40 short of the record high seen in June 2018. This appears to be the result of the number of properties available for sale failing to keep pace with buyer demand, even though the number of new sellers coming to the market rose by 2.1 per cent over the course of the past month.


  • Housing boom: ‘Boris bounce’ could see house prices hit record high

This uptick in activity has led to an increased number of agreed sales, which are up by 12.3 per cent year-on-year nationally and 26.4 per cent in London.

Many solicitors and conveyancers up and down the country have anecdotally suggested that they are seeing one of the busiest first quarters of the year since 2006.

However, whilst there is a long-awaited and welcome recovery in the number of new sellers coming to market, this is being exceeded by a surge in demand from buyers in many areas, as a result of a post-election release of pent-up housing demand.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director commented: “There is a boom in buyer activity outstripping the rise in the number of new sellers, which we expect to lead to a series of new price records starting next month. This means that spring buyers are likely to be faced with the highest average asking prices ever seen in Britain.

“Buyers who had been hesitating and waiting for the greater political certainty following the election outcome may be paying a higher price, but they can now jump into the spring market with renewed confidence.”

Shipside adds: “Owners coming to market this spring face the best selling prospects for several years, with good demand for the right properties at the right prices.

“However, sellers should be careful not to get carried away with their pricing, as this is still a price-sensitive market with stretched buyer affordability.

“Those who over-price risk missing out on the window of increased activity that could run at least until we approach the next Brexit deadline at the end of the year.”

Brexit boom: Busiest ever month on Rightmove as EU exit spurs property market into action
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Edward Heaton, founder and managing partner of property search agency Heaton and Partners, said that: “It’s great to see vitality in the market once again after a year dogged by election worries and low growth. In an uncertain world, certainty suddenly seemed to have been restored.”

But Edward also cautioned: “I would expect any house price rises we’ve seen in January to flatten by the latter part of the year, as attention will inevitably turn to ‘Deal or No Deal’.

“Trade negotiations will unavoidably affect market confidence, both in attracting foreign investors and housebuilders who rely on European materials.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance is also optimistic: “Rightmove is delivering some more good news about a property market which has been stagnant at best for the past three and a half years.”


  • Property: Average home value increased by £600 in January

“The uncertainty around Brexit, coupled with three general elections since 2016, has meant that buyers and sellers have long been waiting to see what happens on the political front. 

“Now we have a majority government which has confirmed that Brexit will finally go ahead, and this has sparked off a quick frenzy in the market from buyers who have been waiting. 

“Next month’s Budget will be an interesting one with regards to possible changes to stamp duty. If the new Chancellor is brave enough to cut stamp duty, it will give the market a boost, encourage downsizers to sell up and persuade more buyers to take advantage of low mortgage rates and get on with a purchase.”

The Rightmove figures follow a similarly positive narrative from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). According to the latest RICS survey of its members, the report based on January data signals continued improvement in both buyer and seller activity, with indicators on demand, sales and new properties being listed for sale all moving further into positive territory.

What’s more, surveyors across all UK regions seem to be optimistic that sales volumes will continue to gain momentum over the next twelve months.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said: “The latest survey results point to a continued improvement in market sentiment over the month, building on a noticeable pick-up in the immediate aftermath of the General Election.

“The rise in new sales instructions coming onto the market is a noteworthy and much needed development, given the lack of fresh listings over the past few years had pushed stock levels to record lows.

“It remains to be seen how long this newfound market momentum is sustained for, and political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year. But, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next twelve months.”

All in all, it seems that new Housing Minster Christopher Pinscher may find the current property market conditions make for a rather full in-tray in his new office. Whether or not his fresh perspective will unlock any new solutions around how more homes can be built or indeed the ongoing cross-party consultation around the mandatory regulation of estate agents, rather remains to be seen.

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Deloitte, too, refuses to offer non-audit services to clients

Deloitte India would not provide non-audit services to all listed companies and other entities where public money is involved such as banks and insurance companies, if they are its audit clients.

After Price Waterhouse (PW) India, Deloitte Haskins & Sells has said its network of firms in India will not offer non-audit services to public interest entities they audit here, a press statement said.

Deloitte India would not provide non-audit services to all listed companies and other entities where public money is involved such as banks and insurance companies, if they are its audit clients.

“We believe this would increase public confidence in auditor independence and quality and will remove ambiguity in a public and business environment that demands greater clarity about our services,” a spokesperson from Deloitte said on Sunday.

Deloitte has become the third such company to do so after PW India and Grant Thornton, and is the second among the big four.

“Doing the right thing is at the bedrock of the audit profession, and one doesn’t have to wait for regulators to tell you what to do.

“I’m pleased to see we were able to lead that change in India,” Vishesh C Chandiok, chief executive officer, Grant Thornton India LLP.

Experts said there was pressure from stakeholders to keep audit and non-audit at arm’s length to avoid conflict of interest.

Deloitte Haskins & Sells was among the two firms that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office had asked the National Company Law Tribunal to bar for alleged lapses in auditing the books of IL&FS Financial Services.

The Bombay high court had granted interim relief to the auditors against any coercive action in November.

An audit quality review by the National Financial Reporting Authority had found that Deloitte Haskins & Sells failed to comply with the standards of auditing and compromised its independence by providing prohibited non-audit services for substantial fees in the matter of IL&FS financial services.

In the press statement issued on Sunday, Deloitte said their voluntary action was in the spirit of self-regulation and extended beyond non-audit services permissible under prevailing rules and regulations in India.

“Deloitte Haskins & Sells remains committed to support initiatives, which enhance the quality of financial reporting in India.”

A recent consultation paper floated by the corporate affairs ministry called for suggestions on increasing the list of non-audit services and amending existing laws to enhance independence and accountability.

“…the auditors could be tempted to eliminate certain audit procedures to reduce costs, take on riskier clients, acquiesce to management’s demands, or aggressively expand their riskier non-audit services under the banner of a trusted audit firm brand, which would only increase the already continued high rates of audit deficiencies,” the paper said.

Most audit firms operate as networks and have a brand licensing agreement with the big four, which are not allowed to undertake audit activity in India.

Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

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Floods Put Mississippi Capital In ‘Precarious Situation’

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — With the waters in the Pearl River continuing to rise in and around Mississippi’s capital city and more rain on the way this week, the governor warned residents that it would be days before floodwaters start to recede.

Gov. Tate Reeves said Sunday morning that the Pearl would continue to rise throughout the day, and he warned that the state faces a “precarious situation that can turn at any moment.”

In one Jackson neighborhood, residents paddled canoes, kayaks and small fishing boats to check on their houses, giving lifts to other neighbors. Some were able to get inside while others peeked into the windows to see what, if any damage, had been done inside. Outside floodwaters lapped at mailboxes, street signs and cars that had been left in driveways.

In a bit of good news, officials at a reservoir upriver of the capitol said Sunday that water levels in the reservoir had stabilized, allowing them to send less water downriver. The National Weather Service, which had been anticipating the river would crest Sunday at 38 feet, on Sunday slightly reduced that to 37.5 feet. The river is now anticipated to crest Monday.

But even with that development, officials urged residents to pay attention to evacuation orders, check on road closures before traveling and stay out of floodwaters, warning that even seemingly placid waters could mask fast-moving currents and pollution. Law enforcement officials went door to door in affected areas, telling people to evacuate, Reeves said.

Rescuers performed four assisted evacuations Saturday, although they said none were needed overnight.

“We expect the river to continue to rise over the next 24 hours or so, “ Reeves said at a news conference in Jackson. “We are not out of the woods yet.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said power had been shut off to 504 residences as a safety precaution. He said some city homes had been flooded but officials do not yet know how many. About 30 people are at a shelter that has been set up in Jackson, he said.

Nearly 2,400 structures across the three counties closest to the river and the reservoir — Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties — could be impacted, meaning they either get water inside or are surrounded by water, said Malary White, of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

In the suburb of Flowood, John and Jina Smith had packed up as much as they could and left their home as waters rose Thursday.

On Sunday, their neighbor Dale Frazier took them back to their house in a rowboat, where they checked on the damage, then got in their own canoe and rowed away.

“We’ve been able to stay in here when the water gets up,” John Smith said. “But as you’ve watched it over the years, you know when to get out. It’s time to get out this time.”

A foot and a half of water was inside his house, Smith said. He’d already been in touch with a contractor and insurance agent about rebuilding. Both he and his wife said they love their home, where they can sit on their back porch and watch deer and other wildlife.

”It’s going to take a while for us to rebuild, but we are safe, and we’re all OK,” Jina Smith said.

On Frazier’s lot next door, the water was at the bottom of the driveway but had not crept inside the one-story house where he’s lived for 23 years.

“The water is very close to my house. It could flood; it could not flood. It depends on the crest right now,” he said.

Down the street, a Presbyterian church and several businesses were flooded.

While the focus now is on the Jackson area, the heavy rains and flooding has affected a much larger swathe of the state. State emergency management officials said Sunday that they had received preliminary damage reports from 11 counties connected with the severe weather that hit the state starting on Feb. 10.

The Pearl’s highest recorded crest was 43.2 feet on April 17, 1979. The second-highest level occurred May 5, 1983, when the river rose to 39.58 feet.

On Saturday night, officials released water from the nearby Barnett Reservoir to control its levels. They urged residents in northeastern Jackson who live in the flood zone downstream from the reservoir to leave immediately. By Sunday morning, Reeves said the reservoir’s inflow and outflow had equalized.

Reservoir officials said that allowed them to release less water than expected.

“We have some good news today,” said John G. Sigman, who oversees the reservoir’s operations, during a separate news conference Sunday afternoon.

Once the river crests Monday, it will take the water three to four days to go down significantly. Part of the reason is that forecasters expect more rain between midday Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

”It will be days before we are out of the woods and waters start to recede,” the governor said.

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Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be regulated so hard it 'HURTS'

BILLIONAIRE Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has called for his apps to be regulated so hard that it "hurts".

The Harvard drop-out, 35, said that Facebook needed more oversight – and said tech giants "should serve society".

Facebook has had countless privacy, security and content catastrophes in recent years.

The firm has been hacked, has leaked data on hundreds of millions of users, and even suggested "child abuse videos" to shocked users.

Governments, experts and the public are quickly tiring of Facebook's rogue antics – with many calling for better regulation of social media.

Now Zuckerberg himself has asked for regulation in an article for the Financial Times.

"Companies like mine need better oversight when we make decisions," wealthy mogul Zuckerberg wrote.

He went to explain how good regulation would likely hurt Facebook – but would be worthwhile in the end.

"Tech companies should serve society," Facebook's founder and chief explained.

"I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook's business in the near term.

"But it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term."

Zuckerberg added: "We won't agree with every proposal. Regulation can have unintended consequences."

In Facebook's United States homeland, there is limited regulation of social media.

Tech firms take care to avoid illegally collecting the data of children – but are generally free to operate as they like.

US lawmakers have investigated and questioned Facebook several times, with little effect.

In the UK, tech regulation has been stepped up a notch.

Just last week, then-Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan and Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed plans that would see all social media firms sign up to a new legal duty of care

Ms Patel warned sites like Facebook and Snapchat must no longer be used as a “hiding place” for vile criminals – but stayed silent on what punishment they would be given if they breach the new code.

They are expected to face fines, but the government has yet to decide what sanctions if any to issue.

It will apply to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit – as well as smaller sites that include forums, comments or video sharing.

However, Ofcom won’t respond to individual complaints and instead will decide what kind of behaviour is appropriate.

Ofcom will get new powers to carry out its extended responsibilities, including making sure online companies have the systems and processes in place to keep platforms safe.

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok will need to ensure illegal content is removed quickly and minimise the risk of it appearing.

The government will set the direction through legislation, but will leave things flexible for Ofcom to adapt to emerging harms.

Who is Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook?

Here's what you need to know…

  • Mark Zuckerberg is the chairman, CEO and co-founder of social networking giant Facebook
  • Born in New York in 1984, Zuckerberg already had a "reputation as a programming prodigy" when he started college
  • While at Harvard, Zuckerberg launched a site called Face Mash, on which students ranked the attractiveness of their classmates
  • Harvard shut the site down after its popularity crashed a network and Zuckerberg later apologised saying it was "completely improper"
  • The following term he began working on an early version of Facebook
  • The 33-year-old launched the social network from his dorm room on February 4, 20o4 with the help of fellow students
  • The friends would end up embroiled in legal disputes as they challenged Zuckerberg for shares in the company
  • Zuckerberg also faced action from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, as well as Divya Narendra who claimed he had stolen their idea – the disagreement was later turned into the film, The Social Network
  • The tech prodigy dropped out of Harvard to focus on Facebook, but received an honorary degree in 2017
  • Speaking about the site to Wired magazine in 2010 he said: "The thing I really care about is the mission, making the world open"
  • By 2012 Facebook had one billion users. By June 2017 it had reached two billion users every month

Some have suggested that Facebook should take more action now – rather than waiting for regulation.

But Zuckerberg hit back at those criticisms in his op-ed.

"To be clear, this isn't about passing off responsibility," the divisive tech whizz wrote.

"Facebook is not waiting for regulation; we're continuing to make progress on these issues ourselves.

"But I believe clearer rules would be better for everyone.

"The internet is a powerful force for social and economic empowerment. Regulation that protects people and supports innovation can ensure it stays that way."

In other news, Mark Zuckerberg was accused of "helping child abusers" with his plan to encrypt chats.

Several Facebook privacy blunders in 2018 caused Zuckerberg's firm to lose about £180billion in value.

And furious Facebook employees even resorted to buying burner phones to badmouth Zuck's leadership.

Do you think Mark Zuckerberg is a well-meaning tech geek or an evil genius? Let us know in the comments!

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Researchers Debate Whether Global Emissions Have Peaked

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Have global emissions from energy peaked?

$81.​9B Renewable power investment worldwide in Q4 2019 0 3 2 1 0 9 ,0 8 7 6 5 4 0 9 8 7 6 5 0 5 4 3 2 1 Soccer pitches of forest lost this hour, most recent data

50,​820 Million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, most recent annual data

Dhaka, BangladeshMost polluted air today, in sensor range -3.​61% Today’s arctic ice area vs. historic average

The short answer is probably not. A slightly longer answer is probably not, and don’t let the coronavirus fool you.

Cautious optimism gripped the world climate conversation last week when new data showed that global energy emissions remained flat in 2019 after two prior annual increases.

New energy and old energy canceled each other out, leaving no net change in overall emission levels, according to preliminary data from the International Energy Agency. U.S. and European energy emissions fell dramatically on the further demise of coal and rise of renewables. Japan returned to using more carbon-free nuclear power. Eighty percent of the increase in emissions last year came from Asia, where coal use is still expanding and makes up more than half of energy use.

But these two factors—falling emissions in the developed world and the growing emissions from the developing world—are not the only dynamics at play. And in a situation where two massive, inertia-heavy competitors are running neck-and-neck, small factors take on disproportionate influence. 

Two days after its first look at 2019 emissions data, the IEA released its monthly oil market update, which projects that the “widespread shutdown” of China’s economy, caused by the coronavirus, will cause global oil consumption growth to drop to the lowest level since 2011. Emissions would consequently fall with it. Oxford Economics projects the outbreak could slow global GDP growth this year by 0.2%, to 2.3%. Given the shifting but strong ties between economic growth and pollution, a slowdown increases the chances for 2020 emissions to dip lower than 2018-2019—completely independent of trends in energy use. And as the economy recovers in the next couple of years, it’ll be more likely to reach a higher level of emissions than 2020, just because the dampening effect of the virus—we hope—will no longer be a factor. 

The tragedy of the coronavirus is only the most visible phenomenon that could nudge emissions this year. Other factors range from changes to how nations and the IEA measure emissions and changes in global political leadership. 

These sources of noise help explain why researchers need a long time to be able to say if emissions have actually peaked, said Kelly Levin, senior associate at the World Resources Institute’s global climate program.

“We have one year of data, which could be a blip,” she said. 

Levin said there’s a way even a perceived slowdown in emissions could backfire. Nations attending this year’s UN climate talks may be inclined to reduce their ambition to slash pollution if they have an unrealistic belief that emissions have already turned the corner. “We can’t get complacent,” she said. 

And when the pinnacle of pollution does come, the party shouldn’t last long. The UN Environment Program concluded last year that greenhouse gas emissions—all of them, not just from the energy sector, and not just CO₂—need to crash by 7.6% a year until 2030, to have a shot at keeping the world from warming above 1.5°C. It’s looking increasingly impossible to meet the Paris Agreement’s lower-end target.

So, have global emissions peaked? It’s unlikely and impossible to say for sure. Which leaves us with another question, posed this week by Jane Flegal, an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society: Have we reached peak hype about peak emissions yet?

Eric Roston writes the Climate Report newsletter about the impact of global warming. Sign up to receive the Green Daily newsletter in your inbox every weekday.

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FDA Okays Marketing Of Ultrasound Software To Examine Heart

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA granted marketing authorization for the first cardiac ultrasound software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help the user capture images of a patient’s heart that are of acceptable diagnostic quality. These images will typically help in the diagnosis of various cardiac conditions of patients.

The software called “Caption Guidance” is an accessory to compatible diagnostic ultrasound systems. It will help medical professionals in acquiring cardiac ultrasound or echocardiography images. The FDA granted marketing authorization of the software to Caption Health Inc.

The Caption Guidance software is currently approved to be used with a specific FDA-cleared diagnostic ultrasound system produced by Teratech Corp. It can also potentially be used with other compatible ultrasound imaging systems.

The Caption Guidance software is indicated for use in ultrasound examination of the heart, known as two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2D-TTE), for adult patients, specifically in the acquisition of standard views of the heart from different angles.

This software will also enable medical professionals who may not be experts in ultrasonography, such as a registered nurse in a family care clinic or others.

The software provides prescriptive guidance to users on how to maneuver the ultrasound probe to acquire standard echocardiographic images and video clips of diagnostic quality.

The AI interface provides real-time feedback on potential image quality and automatically saves the best video clip acquired from a particular view for the cardiologist to review and provide a final assessment of the images and videos for patient evaluation.

The FDA reviewed the device through the De Novo premarket review pathway, a regulatory means for low- to moderate-risk devices of a new type.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing one out of every four people, or approximately 647,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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China may postpone annual congress because of virus

BEIJING (AP) — China said Monday it may postpone its annual congress in March, its biggest political meeting of the year, as the military dispatched hundreds more medical workers and extra supplies to the city hit hardest by a 2-month-old virus outbreak.

Japanese officials, meanwhile, confirmed 99 more people were infected by the new virus aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 454.

The standing committee for the National People’s Congress said it believes it is necessary to postpone the gathering to give top priority to people’s lives, safety and health, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It noted that one-third of the 3,000 delegates are provincial and municipal-level cadres with important leadership roles working on the front line of the battle against the epidemic.

The standing committee said it would meet on Feb. 24 to further deliberate on a postponement. The meeting is due to start on March 5.

Health authorities reported 2,048 new cases of the virus and 105 more deaths. Another 10,844 people have recovered from COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus, and have been discharged from hospitals, according to Monday’s figures. The death toll is 1,770.

With fears of the virus spreading further, Chinese and residents of nearby countries and territories have begun hoarding supplies of everything from masks and other personal protective gear to instant noodles, cooking oil and toilet paper.

In Hong Kong, local media reported that police had arrested two men and were seeking three others who allegedly stole a load of 60 packs of toilet paper at knifepoint early early Monday morning. Supplies of the commodity have become extremely scarce, with often only low-quality imports still available. Police were expected to discuss the matter later.

Another 1,200 doctors and nurses from China’s military began arriving in Wuhan on Monday, the latest contingent sent to help shore up the city’s overwhelmed health care system with more than 32,000 additional personnel. The city has rapidly built two prefabricated hospitals and converted gymnasiums and other spaces into wards for those showing milder symptoms, but residents still say they are being wait-listed for beds and even ambulance rides.

Wuhan has accounted for the vast majority of mainland China’s 70,548 cases. Some 60 million people in that area and other parts of China are under lockdown in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading further.

At a daily news briefing, National Health Commission official Guo Yanhong said attempts to contain the virus appeared to be bearing fruit, with the number of new cases reported daily outside of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, falling for 13 days straight, and growing numbers of recovered people.

“These are all extremely good signs that show our prevention work is very effective,” Guo said, citing early detection and treatment alongside quarantines and travel restrictions as largely responsible for the result.

Japan’s Health Ministry has been carrying out tests on passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess, which is docked in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo. The 14-day quarantine for those on the ship was due to end Wednesday.

Outside China, the ship has the largest number of cases of COVID-19.

The Health Ministry said it has now tested 1,723 people on the ship, which had about 3,700 passengers and crew aboard.

Two chartered planes flew 340 Americans who were aboard the Diamond Princess out of Japan late Sunday. About 380 Americans had been on the ship.

The State Department announced later that 14 of the evacuees were confirmed to have the virus in tests given before they boarded their planes. They were taken to the U.S. because they did not have symptoms, and were being isolated from other passengers, it said.

Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Italy were planning similar flights for their citizens.

New cases in other countries are raising more concern about containment of the virus. Though only a few hundred cases have been confirmed outside mainland China, some recent cases lacked obvious connections to China.

Taiwan on Sunday reported its first death from COVID-19, the fifth fatality outside of mainland China. Taiwan’s Central News Agency, citing health minister Chen Shih-chung, said the man who died was in his 60s and had not traveled overseas recently and had no known contact with virus patients.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an experts meeting to discuss containment measures in his country, where more than a dozen cases have emerged in the past few days without any obvious link to China.

“The situation surrounding this virus is changing by the minute,” Abe said.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the country was “entering into a phase that is different from before,” requiring new steps to stop the spread of the virus.

Japan has 518 confirmed cases, including the 454 from the cruise ship, and one death from the virus.

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