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Environmental activists frustrated COP24 deal not strong enough

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Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna and environmental activists are emphasizing that more action is needed to combat climate change despite Saturday’s deal reached by countries at a UN climate summit.

In addition, some green groups and certain countries expressed frustration that more ambitious climate goals were not achieved during intense negotiations that ran into the weekend.  

Nearly 200 nations at COP24 agreed upon universal, transparent rules that will govern efforts to cut emissions and curb global warming and enable countries to put into action the commitments they made in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

“The majority of the rulebook for the Paris agreement has been created, which is something to be thankful for,” said Mohamed Adow, a climate policy expert at Christian Aid. “But the fact countries had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line shows that some nations have not woken up” to the dire consequences of global warming as outlined in a report by the UN Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

McKenna, who was in the Polish city of Katowice for COP24 along with other Canadian negotiators, said in a statement on Saturday that, while she is pleased with the outcome, “more work remains over the next year.”

That’s because despite agreements, negotiators delayed decisions on two key issues until next year.

They include a decision on the mechanics of an emissions trading system, and the issue of setting more ambitious targets in light of recent science showing a worsening trend in climate change. 

Fierce disagreements on those two issues were kicked down the road to help avoid an impasse on these issues, but according to some, it was a missed opportunity to send a signal to businesses to speed up their actions.

The talks in Poland took place against a backdrop of growing concern among scientists and citizens that global warming is proceeding faster than governments are responding to it. (Luca Bruno/Associated Press)

“Ambition will be at the centre of the climate summit I am convening in September,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted. “It’s time to show strengthened ambition to defeat climate change.”

McKenna also said the deal made is contingent on efforts from those in the private sector, from all levels of government and from individuals.

“Climate change is a complicated problem,” McKenna told The New York Times. “It’s not going to be solved by national governments alone.”

Climate Action Network Canada welcomed the agreement and applauded the efforts of McKenna and other Canadian negotiators, but emphasized the importance of countries following through with their promises.

“What matters most is what everyone does when they leave Katowice and go home,” Catherine Abreu, the group’s executive director, said in a statement on Saturday.

Abreu was critical over the lack of specifics on how to curb greenhouse gas emissions, saying there were “precious few specifics on how individual governments plan to respond to the devastating climate chaos of 2018 and deliver the climate action that science demands.”

Poorer nations vulnerable to climate change also wanted more clarity on how an already agreed $100 billion a year of climate finance by 2020 will be provided, and on efforts to build on that amount further from the end of the decade.

Greenpeace urges halt to Canadian pipelines

McKenna in her statement touted Canada’s “leading role” in the carbon market and in securing investments to tackle global climate change, but some critics dispute Canada’s role as major climate player on the international stage due to its domestic policies. 

Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace International, said Canada is “not credible” as a world leader in climate change while committing to building pipelines instead of shifting to renewable energy.

“[Climate] leaders simply don’t buy and build pipelines, climate leaders go for a just transition as the science suggests we need it,” Mittler told CBC from Berlin on Sunday. 

“[The Canadian] government is making the right steps in some ways — for example, getting rid of coal — but they’re simply not credible as long as they own and build pipelines and expand fossil fuels when the science has been very clear.”

Watch: Canadian government ‘not credible,’ says Greenpeace

Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace International, says the Canadian government is ‘not credible as long as they own and build pipelines and expand fossil fuels.’ 1:45

Mittler also criticized the COP24 deal for not doing enough.

“We should have had so much more… we’ve had a really terrible year of extreme weather events, of forest fires and of scientists telling the world that we are running out of time,” he said. “In the face of that, this agreement is morally bankrupt, it is just not enough.”

However, he said the goal now is for governments to return home and show they mean business by putting the deal into action.

“Governments have in Poland, indeed, achieved a global rule book,” he added.

“But without action, even the best rules will not get us anywhere and our children will face a very, very unfortunate climate [and] chaotic future.”

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Top 5 Analytics Trends That Are Shaping The Future

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Digital transformation is increasingly becoming the focus for many CIOs around the world today—with analytics playing a fundamental role in driving the future of the digital economy.

While data is important to every business, it is necessary for businesses to have a firm grip on data analytics to allow them transform raw pieces of data into important insights. However, unlike the current trends in business intelligence—which is centred around data visualization—the future of data analytics would encompass a more contextual experience.

“The known data analytics development cycle is described in stages: from descriptive (what happened) to diagnostic (why did it happen), to discovery (what can we learn from it), to predictive (what is likely to happen), and, finally, to prescriptive analytics (what action is the best to take),” said Maurice op het Veld is a partner at KPMG Advisory in a report.

“Another way of looking at this is that data analytics initially “supported” the decision-making process but is now enabling “better” decisions than we can make on our own.”

Here are some of the current trends that arealready shaping the future of data analytics in individuals and businesses.

  1. Growth in mobile devices

With the number of mobile devices expanding to include watches, digital personal assistants, smartphones, smart glasses, in-car displays, to even video gaming systems, the final consumption plays a key role on the level of impact analytics can deliver.

Previously, most information consumers accessed were on a computer with sufficient room to view tables, charts and graphs filled with data, now, most consumers require information delivered in a format well optimized for whatever device they are currently viewing it on.

Therefore, the content must be personalized to fit the features of the user’s device and not just the user alone.

  1. Continuous Analytics

More and more businesses are relying on the Internet of Things (IoT) and their respective streaming data—which in turn shortens the time it takes to capture, analyze and react to the information gathered. Therefore, while analytics programspreviously were termed successful when results were delivered within days or weeks of processing, the future of analytics is bound to drastically reduce this benchmark to hours, minutes, seconds—and even milliseconds.

“All devices will be connected and exchange data within the “Internet of Things” and deliver enormous sets of data. Sensor data like location, weather, health, error messages, machine data, etc. will enable diagnostic and predictive analytics capabilities,” noted Maurice.

“We will be able to predict when machines will break down and plan maintenance repairs before it happens. Not only will this be cheaper, as you do not have to exchange supplies when it is not yet needed, but you can also increase uptime.”

  1. Augmented Data Preparation

During the process of data preparation, machine learning automation will begin to augment data profiling and data quality, enrichment, modelling, cataloguing and metadata development.

Newer techniques would include supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning which is bound to enhance the entire data preparation process. In contrast to previous processes—which depended on rule-based approach to data transformation—this current trend would involve advanced machine learning processes that would evolve based on recent data to become more precise at responding to changes in data.

  1. Augmented Data Discovery

Combined with the advancement in data preparation, a lot of these newer algorithms now allow information consumers to visualize and obtain relevant information within the data with more ease. Enhancements such as automatically revealing clusters, links, exceptions, correlation and predictions with pieces of data, eliminate the need for end users to build data models or write algorithms themselves.

This new form of augmented data discovery will lead to an increase in the number of citizen data scientist—which include information users who, with the aid of augmented assistance can now identify and respond to various patterns in data faster and a more distributed model.

  1. AugmentedData Science

It is important to note that the rise of citizen data scientist will not in any way eliminate the need for a data scientist who gathers and analyze data to discover profitable opportunities for the growth of a business. However, as these data scientists give room for citizen data scientists to perform the easier tasks, their overall analysis becomes more challenging and equally valuable to the business.

As time goes by, machine learning would be applied in other areas such as feature and model selection. This would free up some of the tasks performed by data scientist and allow them focus on the most important part of their job, which is to identify specific patterns in the data that can potentially transform business operations and ultimately increase revenue.

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Waterloo drone-maker Aeryon Labs bought by U.S. company for $265M

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Waterloo’s Aeryon Labs has been bought by Oregon-based FLIR Systems Inc. for $256 million, or $200 million US.

The acquisition was announced Monday. 

Dave Kroetsch, co-founder and chief technology officer of Aeryon Labs, says not much will change in the foreseeable future.

“The Waterloo operations of Aeryon Labs will actually continue as they did yesterday with manufacturing, engineering and all the functions staying intact in Waterloo and ultimately, we see growing,” he said.

“The business here is very valuable to FLIR and our ability to sell internationally is a key piece of keeping these components of the business here in Canada.”

Aeroyn Labs builds high-performance drones that are sold to a variety of customers including military, police services and commercial businesses. The drones can provide high-resolution images for surveillance and reconnaissance.

The drones already include cameras and thermal technology from FLIR. Jim Cannon, president and CEO of FLIR Systems, said acquiring Aeryon Labs is part of the company’s strategy to move beyond sensors “to the development of complete solutions that save lives and livelihoods.”

‘A piece of a bigger solution’

Kroetsch said this is a good way for the company to grow into something bigger.

“We see the business evolving in much the direction our business has been headed over the last couple of years. And that’s moving beyond the drone as a product in and of itself as a drone as a piece of a bigger solution,” he said.

For example, FLIR bought a drone company that builds smaller drones that look like little helicopters.

“We can imagine integrating those with our drones, perhaps having ours carry their drones and drop them off,” he said.

FLIR also does border security systems, which Kroetsch says could use the drones to allow border agents to look over a hill where there have been issues.

“We see the opportunity there as something that we never could have done on our own but being involved with and part of a larger company that’s already providing these solutions today gives us access not only to these great applications, but also to some fantastic technologies,” he said.

Aeryon Labs has done a lot of work during emergency disasters, including in Philippines after Typhoon Hagupit in 2014, Ecuador after an earthquake in 2016 and the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016.

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Inuvik infrastructure may not be ready for climate change, says study

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The Arctic is expected to get warmer and wetter by the end of this century and new research says that could mean trouble for infrastructure in Inuvik.

The study from Global Water Futures looked at how climate change could impact Havipak Creek — which crosses the Dempster Highway in Inuvik, N.W.T. — and it predicts some major water changes.

“They were quite distressing,” John Pomeroy, director of Global Water Futures and the study’s lead author, said of the findings.

Researchers used a climate model and a hydrological model to predict future weather and climate patterns in the region. They also looked at data gathered from 1960 to the present. 

If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate — which Pomeroy said they are on track to do — the study projects the region will be 6.1 C warmer by 2099 and precipitation, particularly rain, will increase by almost 40 per cent.

The study also found that the spring flood will be earlier and twice as large, and the permafrost will thaw an additional 25 centimetres. While the soil is expected to be wetter early in the summer, the study said it will be drier in late summer, meaning a higher risk of wildfires.

John Pomeroy is the director of Global Water Futures. (Erin Collins/CBC)

“The model’s painting kind of a different world than we’re living in right now for the Mackenzie Delta region,” Pomeroy said.

He noted these changes are not only expected for Havipak Creek, but also for “many, many creeks along the northern part of the Dempster [Highway].”

Pomeroy said the deeper permafrost thaw and a bigger spring flood could pose challenges for buildings, roads, culverts and crossings in the area that were designed with the 20th century climate in mind.

He said the projected growth of the snowpack and the spring flood are “of grave concern because that’s what washes out the Dempster [Highway] and damages infrastructure in the area.”

Culverts and bridges may have to be adjusted to allow room for greater stream flows, Pomeroy said. And building foundations that are dependent upon the ground staying frozen will have to be reinforced or redesigned.

Pomeroy said the ultimate solution is for humans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This study is the future we’re heading for, but it’s not the future we necessarily have if we can find a way to reduce those gases,” he said.  

“It’d be far smarter to get those emissions under control than to pay the terrible expenses for infrastructure and endangered safety of humans and destroyed ecosystems.”

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