👋 Welcome back to Greenwashed! In this edition, we'll be covering the full scoop behind the infamous train crash in Ohio, followed by some good news in hydrogen and the continuation of sustainability's AI trend.
The Full Scoop on Ohio's Train Crash 🚂
By now, many of our readers have likely heard about the Ohio train derailment that caused a massive leak of toxic chemical waste, which isn't all that shocking considering that some are calling it the largest environmental disaster in American history. 🧪
Despite the fact that it's been one of the more popular news stories over the past few weeks, the coverage surrounding the incident has been fragmented and confusing due to constantly changing stories from the government and reports from the public on social media that have conflicted with official stories.
In order to make the situation and its implications as clear as possible, we've compiled everything relevant about the crash and outlined it below. Spoiler alert: it doesn't paint the prettiest picture about the state of US environmentalism. ⬇️
- 🧪 The chemicals that leaked were vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen, benzene, which is a carcinogen and a mutagen, meaning it can cause genetic mutations, as well as butyl acrylate and ethylhexyl acrylate, two chemicals that are have potentially "severe" consequences to human health that have both since been found in the Ohio water supply.
- 🏡 That water supply is the Ohio River Basin, which services 10% of the entire US population. It's unknown at this point what the effects of the leak will be, but there have been thousands of fish deaths near the site of the crash, as well as videos showing clear evidence of chemical presence in the water and resident reports of adverse health effects.
- 🛤 The crash, which America averages over 1700 per year of, was caused by the train's lack of modern brake technology, which was the result of a successful corporate lobbying campaign to overturn a regulation requiring all trains carrying hazardous materials to have.
- 🤑 In addition to the lobbying, company executives fought off an internal shareholder initiative to review safety processes and ignored safety concerns about short-staffing when firing thousands of workers, instead electing to spend that money in service of billions of dollars of stock buybacks.
- 🚔 Part of the initial media confusion surrounding the event stems from police intimidation of the media, such as reporter Evan Lambert who was physically assaulted by police while asking questions about the crash. Police claim that Lambert initiated the altercation and charged him with trespassing and resisting arrest, but Lambert vehemently denies the claim, which seems to be supported by body camera footage and the subsequent dropping of the charges.
Potential Hydrogen Breakthrough 🌊
Sustainable hydrogen fuel has long been thought of as a huge weapon in the fight against the climate crisis due to its ability to replace fossil fuels in industries such as shipping and aviation, but has always been somewhat of a pipe dream.
Recently, however, researchers at India's RMIT may have had a breakthrough. 🇮🇳
By using a unique reaction catalyst that is designed to draw hydrogen fuel from seawater, the researchers may have solved two of the biggest problems hampering the technology: the scarcity of freshwater and the creation of chlorine as a byproduct.
Sustainability's AI Moment Continues 💸
Last edition, we wrote about the intersection of promising environmental outcomes from venture capital's AI obsession, highlighting an Israeli company trying to use machine learning for artificial pollination. Over the past two weeks, this trend has continued. 📈
- German company Smart Steel Technologies raised an undisclosed amount to use AI to make steelmaking more environmentally efficient.
- UK-based Greyparrot raised $1.6mm from Leonardo DiCaprio's venture fund to use AI to improve the recycling process.
- UK-based QiO Technologies raised a $10mm Series B round to aid their AI-powered full-stack sustainability suite.
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