For less than $8K, France's new electric car could revolutionize clean transportation.

Cars are an expensive — but often necessary — part of life. And electric cars? Forget it.

That tends to be a problem with a lot of sustainable products: the overhead is just too high, even if it does ultimately pay for itself in the long run.

Unfortunately, this still leaves proponents of clean living in a a pickle. The only reason that fossil fuels seem more affordable is because of the infrastructure that's already in place.


How do you get people to make a large-scale shift toward greener transportation (which would bring prices down for everyone) when most of them don't have the cash for that initial investment?

The obvious answer is to just make them cheaper — and that's exactly what France is doing.

At the COP21 Climate Conference in December 2015, French Minister of Economy Ségolène Royal announced a global competition to create a small electric car that will sell for less than $7,500 (about 7,000 euros).


Ségolène Royal. Photo by France Ecologie Energie/Flickr.

According to Gizmodo and speaking through a translator, Royal explained that her goal is to "create an electric car for the people" — something light, small, and fast-charging that "may not look like traditional electric cars."

To help keep costs down, the French government is encouraging the use of replaceable batteries (not unlike the innovative Gogoro Smart Scooter), which can be easily swapped out and replaced at designated charging stations throughout the country.

Presently, the next-best option in electric transportation (for those of us who can't afford a $45,000 Tesla) is India's e20, which costs around $15,000. The Renault ZOE is also available in France for around the same cost, plus 49 euros a month for battery rentals.

The Gogoro Smart Scooter. Photo by Maurizio Pesce/Flickr.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to incentivize the development of affordable, sustainable transportation all across the world.

"The problem arises for other countries: they worry that if we stop the exploitation of fossil fuels, it hinders development," Royal explained in an interview with 20 Minutes (roughly translated in-browser by Google).

"It is therefore imperative to drive down the price of renewable energy to provide these countries the same level of development as the industrialized countries that have reached the using in the past, fossil fuels."

There will inevitably be cynics who question the lack of specifics available thus far in France's cheap electric car plan. But what matters more right now is the country's willingness to take these kinds of risks.

Photo by Jeremy Keith/Flickr.

And considering the tremendous strides that France has already made in sustainable development, there's no reason not to take them at their word.

The affordable electric car initiative was only one piece of a four-part plan that will double France's already considerable investments in clean energy.

That new plan also includes:

  • A commitment to bring the country to at least 20% electric vehicles by 2030 (part of the Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change and the Zero Emission Vehicles Alliance). As noted in the official statement, “The higher volume of orders will help reduce production and marketing prices."
  • An additional 2-million-euro investment in MobiliseYourCity, which aims to facilitate transport planning projects in 20 cities in developing and emerging countries (and is only one part of an even larger global initiative).
  • Solar. Freakin'. Roadways! (OK not exactly this, but close enough.) Over the next five years, the government plans to deploy at least 1,000 kilometers of "energy roads" that incorporate photovoltaic cells to generate electricity.

Photo by Steve Jurvetson/Flickr.

Clean and affordable transportation is just one step toward a brighter future. But it still makes a difference.

Like I said, the only reason that fossil fuels are cheaper is simply because that's the infrastructure that's already in place. But if that same infrastructure had been established with a renewable, non-carbon-based fuel source, it would cost us even less — without the added bonus of environmental damage.

But because of that infrastructure that's currently in place, the only way to enact wide-scale change is to go all-in and make it happen — and that's exactly what France is doing.

Together, we can create a new global infrastructure that works for the people and the planet, instead of just the pockets of a few corporations.

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Natural Resources Defense Council
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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