The Punchlist 3-19-2021

The Punchlist is back! Each week at the end of the week, we’ll share some of our favorite sustainability, climate, local, and whatever else – related stories.

This week’s edition features more exciting local and national news about the environment!

Push for Clean Vehicles: PA elected officials want the federal government to support the transition to cleaner vehicles. The transition to electric vehicles would create jobs and lower pollution levels. While the state Department of Environmental Protection is currently working to require automakers to offer emission-free vehicles, local governments aren’t in the position to subsidize the transition. Federal policy is needed to make a real change in the transportation sector.

Funding for Black Tech Companies: Black Nation Tech Ventures (BNTV) is a new $50 million fund that is looking to fund early-stage startups that have Black founders. The fund will start making investments in mid-2021 and will be looking to back 20 to 30 companies. While the companies that will receive funding don’t necessarily have to be tech companies, they do have to have a major tech component. One quarter to one third of all companies who receive funding will be based in Pittsburgh.

More Noise, Less Songbirds: A study conducted by researchers at Penn State has found that songbirds nesting near natural gas compressors have fewer eggs hatch than those not near compressors. This reduction in hatched eggs was found to be caused by the noises emitted by the compressors. While the study found no difference in the nest’s location choice, it did find that the eggs couldn’t hatch because the birds spent less time on their eggs.

Pittsburgh Pollution Tracker: Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab has recently launched PlumePGH, which is a map that allows users to track the origin of pollution and how it correlates to stinky air in the region. This is paired with the lab’s SmellPGH app to show reports of bad smelling air and where it has been reported from. PlumePGH includes the four largest sulfur oxides in Allegheny County, each represented by a different color on the map. Users can follow the dots on the map which represent the emissions wafting over the region over the span of 24 hours.

Research Center for Justice: The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are working together to start a research center that will study and find ways to stop extremist hate based on religion, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other prejudices. While the announcement came after the recent ethnic violence against Asian Americans, plans were being made after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018. The research center will incorporate people across a variety of academic fields including computer science, data science, social science, psychiatry, and law.

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