#115: All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.

November 2nd, 2018

4 days to go

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It's time.

When we started this newsletter, Trump didn't exist. At least not to most folks. And now we find ourselves fighting for our basic freedoms, and the future of the planet (something we should have been fighting for all along, but alas). 

If we have any hope of a carbon tax, or anything else that could move the needle, we need everyone to turn out over the next four days.

So go here, and join us: sign up to fight on The Last Weekend


This week's topic was Outsmarting Cholera

Our guest is Dr. Minmin Yen. She’s the CEO of her medical startup PhagePro, where she’s developed viruses to target cholera bacteria, because antibiotics…surprise! Are on the wane. She’s got a PhD in molecular microbiology from Tufts University and she started her own lab because boom, sucka, that’s how it’s done. Get on board.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: Almost An Astronaut.

Our guest: Dr. Sian Proctor. She’s an African-American explorer, scientist, STEM communicator, and almost-astronaut. She’s lived in training habitats across the world, she’s been on TV, and today she’s with us on the mic explaining how we can get more women and people of color into space, one way or another.



On to the news!

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

60,000 tons of dangerous radioactive waste sits on Great Lakes shores

"It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

In the United States, when the nuclear industry was established in the 1950s and 1960s, the assumption was that the spent nuclear fuel would be reprocessed,” Thompson said.

A plutonium reprocessing facility was opened in New York state in the early 1960s, operated for six years, and then folded amid skyrocketing costs and various mishaps. President Jimmy Carter banned reprocessing in 1977 because of the costs and concern about the proliferation of plutonium."

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

5 Major Crops In The Crosshairs Of Climate Change

"Wheat, source of bread and a foundation of life in much of the world, will suffer from hotter temperatures — and the country where the impact may be greatest also is among least well-equipped to cope with a shortfall. India is likely to see a large drop in wheat production due to heat stress — about 8 percent if average global temperatures rise by 1 degree Celsius, according to one recent study."

+ More Food & Water:

      - How the Farm Bureau’s Climate Agenda Is Failing Its Farmers

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming

We thought that we got away with not a lot of warming in both the ocean and the atmosphere for the amount of CO2 that we emitted,” said Resplandy, who published the work with experts from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and several other institutions in the United States, China, France and Germany. “But we were wrong. The planet warmed more than we thought. It was hidden from us just because we didn’t sample it right. But it was there. It was in the ocean already."

+ More Climate Change:

      - Wait, Have We Really Wiped Out 60 Percent of Animals?

      - As World’s Air Gets Worse, India Struggles to Breathe

      - Banning cars in major cities would rapidly improve millions of lives

      - Here's your city's weather in one generation

      - Bitcoin mining is, once again, all together now, a climate nightmare

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Overuse of antibiotics 'risks return to dark ages of life-threatening surgery'

"Dame Sally Davies made her remarks as Public Health England (PHE) published a report showing that 3 million common surgical procedures, including caesarean sections and hip replacements, could be hazardous in a future where hospital-acquired infections have become resistant to the antibiotics we have to treat them.

Antibiotics are given to one in three surgical patients either before they are wheeled into the operating theatre or when they are recovering. PHE says that without antibiotics, infections from surgery could double, potentially endangering lives."

The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

Why a Mission to a Visiting Interstellar Object Could Be Our Best Bet for Finding Aliens

"As it stands, both ground- and space-based telescopes aren’t powerful enough to detect traces of life in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets.The next generation of space-based telescopes should be capable of this feat, and they could very well sniff out alien biosignatures. Trouble is, this sort of data would come back in the form of ambiguous light curves, leading to the inevitable controversies of interpretation. At the same time, the prospect of sending probes to a distant star system, while inevitable (fingers crossed), won’t yield results for hundreds if not thousands of years."

+ Related: Telescope DRAMA and why we gotta find Earth 2.0

Robots & AI 🤖🚘🧠⚡️

Should a self-driving car kill the baby or the grandma? Depends on where you’re from.

"The classic trolley problem goes like this: You see a runaway trolley speeding down the tracks, about to hit and kill five people. You have access to a lever that could switch the trolley to a different track, where a different person would meet an untimely demise. Should you pull the lever and end one life to spare five?

The Moral Machine took that idea to test nine different comparisons shown to polarize people: should a self-driving car prioritize humans over pets, passengers over pedestrians, more lives over fewer, women over men, young over old, fit over sickly, higher social status over lower, law-abiders over law-benders? And finally, should the car swerve (take action) or stay on course (inaction)?"

The Highlight Reel

#114: It's Halloween; everyone's entitled to one good scare.

October 26th, 2018

11 days to go

Phone Bank - Knock on Doors - Win Win Win

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Is climate change even on the agenda?

BarelyHere's why conservatives keep fucking with you, and how far apart we really are.

Reminder: they either do not believe in science (but they're happy to use iPhones and fly on airplanes or get an MRI), they're lying to you, or they don't care about you. Vote them the fuck out.


This week's question was How Does A Young Lady Go from Art School to NASA?

Our guest: Ariel Waldman. Ariel is on the council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, she's the co-author of the National Academy of Sciences report on the future of human spaceflight, the author of the book What’s It Like in Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who’ve Been There, the founder of Spacehack.org, and the global director of Science Hack Day, a grassroots endeavor to prototype things with science that is now in over 25 countries. In 2013, Ariel received an honor from the White House for being a Champion of Change in citizen science, because of course she did.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: Outsmarting Cholera

Our guest is Dr. Minmin Yen. She’s the CEO of her medical startup PhagePro, where she’s developed viruses to target cholera bacteria, because antibiotics…surprise! Are on the wane. She’s got a PhD in molecular microbiology from Tufts University and she started her own lab because boom, sucka, that’s how it’s done. Get on board.



On to the news!

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

These huge new wind turbines are a marvel. They’re also the future.

"The math on wind turbines is pretty simple: Bigger is better. Specifically, there are two ways to produce more power from the wind in a given area. 

The first is with bigger rotors and blades to cover a wider area. That increases the capacity of the turbine, i.e., its total potential production.

The second is to get the blades up higher into the atmosphere, where the wind blows more steadily. 

As of yet, the US has one and only one operating offshore wind installation, the Block Island Wind Farm off of Rhode Island. Its turbines rise to roughly 590 feet. 

How does the Haliade-X compare to all that? According to GE, it will reach 853 feet tall."

+ More Clean Energy:

      - Wind Farms + California?

      - EV's are going to come faster than we think

      - San Diego wants to make their own clean power company

      - This is why sunny Arizona shuns the sun -- and it's bullshit.

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

Can Eating Organic Food Lower Your Cancer Risk?

"A new French study that followed 70,000 adults, most of them women, for five years has reported that the most frequent consumers of organic food had 25 percent fewer cancers over all than those who never ate organic. Those who ate the most organic fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and other foods had a particularly steep drop in the incidence of lymphomas, and a significant reduction in postmenopausal breast cancers."

+ More Food & Water:

      - Austin urged to boil water as health officials warn of bacteria

      - The future of food: inside agritech’s Silicon Valley

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

New York Sues Exxon Mobil, Saying It Deceived Shareholders on Climate Change

"The suit does not charge Exxon with playing a role in creating climate change, though the burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor to human-driven warming. Rather, it is a fairly straightforward shareholder fraud suit, the kind that New York attorneys general have long brought and successfully prosecuted under state law.

It says the company engaged in a “longstanding fraudulent scheme” to deceive investors, analysts and underwriters “concerning the company’s management of the risks posed to its business by climate change regulation.”"

+ More Climate Change:

       - The Migrant Caravan's Plight Is a Glimpse of Our Coming Climate Crisis

       - How Scientists Cracked the Climate Change Case

       - Y Combinator issues a request for geo-engineering startups

       - Here's what young urbanites can do to make change

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Scientists have estimated the cost of stopping 11 diseases that could kill millions in a pandemic

"Getting them from development to market can cost billions of dollars, can take over a decade, and the process has a 94 percentfailure rate on average. It’s a risky investment not many people want to make — until, of course, there’s a deadly outbreak like in 2014. By then, it’s often already too late.

Thanks to CEPI’s research, we now know the minimum cost of developing at least one vaccine for each of the 11 diseases experts have highlighted as pandemic risks: $2.8 billion to $3.7 billion.

That sounds expensive, but so are pandemics: The 2003 SARS outbreak in East Asia cost $54 billion. Moreover, if early development prevents us from experiencing another Spanish flu, which killed nearly one of out of every 20 people in 1918, then it’s actually a bargain."

+ More Bio 401:

      - U.S. Approves First Anti-Flu Pill in Two Decades

      - Project Baseline Aims to Ward Off Illness Before We Get Sick

      - 'Game changer' tuberculosis drug cures 8 in 10

Fuck Cancer, Volume CXIV 🖕

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

"For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. But the benefit for most women was small, raising questions about whether the treatment is worth its high cost and side effects.

Women with high levels who received the combo treatment lived roughly 25 months on average versus about 15 months for women given chemo alone.

That’s a big difference, but it will take more time to see if there’s a reliable way to predict benefit, said Dr. Jennifer Litton of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston."

The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

The case against colonizing space to save humanity

"“If we had a thriving civilization on another planet, that would be really good news for the future of humanity,” he said. He’s looked into risks like climate change, nuclear war, pandemics, and other potential sources of ecological catastrophe. A healthy, independent Mars colony that didn’t need any supplies from Earth could immunize us from many of those dangers. “If you handed me a Mars colony that was functioning, I’d be pretty excited about that.” 

But he’s less bullish when considering the prospects of achieving that. “It’s going to be very difficult, very expensive, and probably take a long time,” he said. Not a long time as in decades — which might barely be enough time to get us to Mars in the first place — but a long time as in centuries."

+ More Space:

      - How Many Space Stations Does This Planet Need?

      - Mars may have enough oxygen underneath its surface for life

War 🚀🌎🔥

Nations Rush Ahead With Hypersonic Weapons Amid Arms Race Fear

"Over the past year, the U.S., China and Russia have all stepped up efforts to develop a new kind of missile, a weapon that can fly faster and farther than almost anything in existence.

Known as a hypersonic weapon, it would travel at five times the speed of sound or more. It could strike at a target while evading missile defenses and hit almost without warning deep inside enemy territory."

The Highlight Reel

#113: The Revolution Will Be Televised (Apparently by Facebook Watch?)

October 19th, 2018

18 goddamn days to go

Phone Bank - Knock on Doors - Win Win Win

Please (Please) Share

Visit Your Share Page to See Your Progress!

Quick: who's your most popular friend?

Great. Text/Slack/Snap them.

Make a plan to vote on Nov 6, and tell them to text/slack/Snap all THEIR friends.

You can even plan your ballot ahead of time right here.

There. Democracy saved. See? So easy!


This week's question was Is the Ocean Running Out of Oxygen? Is That Bad?

Our guest: Dr. Dawn "Deepsea Dawn" Wright. She's the chief scientist at the Environmental Systems Research Institute (aka “ESRI”), a professor, and also the first African-American female to dive to the ocean floor in the deep submersible ALVIN. She's a baller. Let's get it.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: How Does A Young Lady Go from Art School to NASA?

Our guest: Ariel Waldman. Ariel is on the council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, she's the co-author of the National Academy of Sciences report on the future of human spaceflight, the author of the book What’s It Like in Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who’ve Been There, the founder of Spacehack.org, and the global director of Science Hack Day, a grassroots endeavor to prototype things with science that is now in over 25 countries. In 2013, Ariel received an honor from the White House for being a Champion of Change in citizen science. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?



On to the news!

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

Solar Power Could Still Save the World

"“I’m not a pessimist, I’m a data-driven optimist,” said Martin Green from the University of New South Wales. Here’s what the data are telling him:The cost of solar energy is dropping faster than anyone expected: 34 percent this year alone. And installations of it are skyrocketing."

+ Bill Gates loves solar, but wants to remind us that electrical production is just 25% of current emissions. So he's all in on everything else.

More Clean Energy:

      - It looks like folks are realizing clean energy could be the biggest goddamn industry ever. Here are the funds behind the new push for that $$$. Of course, BP thinks we're just going tooooo fast.

      - Supercharged geothermal energy could power the planet

      - Are we back to battery swapping for EV's?

      - Washington State is taking another shot at a carbon tax please for the love of all that is holy

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 within planetary limits mayyyy be achievable

"Climate change cannot be sufficiently mitigated without dietary changes towards more plant-based diets. Adopting more plant-based “flexitarian” diets globally could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than half, and also reduce other environmental impacts, such as fertilizer application and the use of cropland and freshwater, by a tenth to a quarter."

+ More Food & Water:

      - California's Central Valley produces a quarter of our food supply. Drought and sinking land are putting that supply at risk. GOOD TIMES.

      - Dehli's slum residents are trying to stop a water crisis

      - The banana is dying. The race is on to reinvent it before it's too late

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Alarming Study Links 'Collapse' of Rainforest Food Web to Rising Temperatures

"Want to know what happens with a 2 degree increase?

Published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, the Rensselaer Polytechnic University researcher-led study shows a 10-60 fold decline in the abundance of insects in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo Rainforest, the only tropical forest in the U.S. national forest system. The authors say rising temperatures are the most likely culprit, raising the possibility that the base of the food web could be unraveling elsewhere as climate change turns up the heat on rainforests around the globe."

+ More Climate Change:

      - Marco Rubio's state just got trashed by Hurricane Michael (here's how it got so big, so quick). And yet -- he still doubts climate change. He is a fucking idiot.

      - These are the 10 systemic ways we can slow climate change. VOTE VOTE VOTE FUCKING VOTE.

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Doctors prescribe antibiotics without need nearly half the time, study finds

"Nearly half of all outpatient antibiotic prescriptions in the United States are given to patients who have not been diagnosed with an infection that should be treated with the bacteria-fighting drugs, according to study results revealed Friday at an infectious disease conference in San Francisco.

The study, which analyzed more than half a million outpatient prescriptions over a two-year period, underscores the ongoing widespread, casual overuse of antibiotics in the United States, infectious disease experts said."

+ PEOPLE. This shit has to stop. Ask your doctor if your diagnosis actually calls for antibiotics. If not, they will not help you, and if we keep at this shit, well:

Antibiotics may soon become useless. Now what?


A pandemic killing tens of millions of people is a real possibility — and we are not prepared for it

+ More Bio 401:

      - Percentage of young U.S. children who don’t receive any vaccines has quadrupled since 2001

      - CRISPR moves out of the lab - here's the big questions.

Fuck Cancer, Volume CXIII 🖕

Colorectal cancer is killing more 20- to 30-year-olds. We now have one clue about why.

"Overall, those born in 1990 have double the risk of developing colon cancer and four times the risk of getting rectal cancer compared to those born around 1950. So in response to the alarming trend, in 2018 the society lowered the age for routine colorectal cancer screening to 45 from 50. 

“It’s not like the problem is bad and has stabilized,” said Thomas Weber, the director of surgical oncology at New York’s Northwell Health. “The problem has continued to worsen.” 

But a new study published Thursday in JAMA offers one potential explanation: the rising rates of obesity."

The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

How Do You Find an Alien Ocean? Margaret Kivelson Figured It Out

"It was December 1996, and the spacecraft Galileo had just flown by Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. The readings beamed back to Earth suggested a magnetic field emanating from the moon. Europa should not have had a magnetic field, yet there it was — and not even pointed in the right direction.

“This is unexpected,” she recalled saying as the weird data rolled in. “And that’s wonderful.”

Dr. Kivelson’s instrument was never supposed to change the course of space exploration.

And then it did. Dr. Kivelson and her team would soon prove that they had discovered the first subsurface, saltwater ocean on an alien world."

Robots & AI 🤖🚘🧠⚡️

M.I.T. Plans College for Artificial Intelligence, Backed by $1 Billion

"The goal of the college, said L. Rafael Reif, the president of M.I.T., is to “educate the bilinguals of the future.” He defines bilinguals as people in fields like biology, chemistry, politics, history and linguistics who are also skilled in the techniques of modern computing that can be applied to them."

The Highlight Reel

#112: Is Exactly How Many Days We Have Left? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

October 12th, 2018

25 goddamn days to go

Phone Bank - Knock on Doors - Win Win Win

Please (Please) ShareVisit Your Share Page to See Your Progress!

Hi. Hello -- friends. Earthlings. Not-robots. I'm sure everybody enjoyed the climate news this week. But it wasn't news to you, because you've been tracking this shit all along.

But all your pals are woke as shit now, aren't they? All the sudden it's super cool to talk about carbon taxes and timelines and what half a degree of warming really looks like. MUST BE NICE.

To be clear: this is happening. But we're relatively optimistic.

If...we get enough people on board.

So here's the deal. Stupid Phil in accounting gets it. Finally. So let's get him up to speed on everything else, huh?

Two options, both super easy:

1. Drop this signup link into Slack, Messages, WhatsApp, whatever: Your Share URL. Copy, paste, repeat. Boom. Done.

2. Click this Your Thank You URL and use our sharing tools to blast it FB, Twitter, whatevs.

Now's the moment. They're ready. Get enough of them on board and you can earn some cool free shit. 


This week's question was What’s harder: Building Clean Power Plants, or Playing in a Reputable Cover Band?

Our guest: Sean Casten, Congressional candidate for Illinois district 6. He’s obsessed with climate change, got like 40 science degrees, and built profitable clean energy. 

Another one with 314 Action, as we BUST OUR ASSES to put STEM candidates in office on November 6th. 

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: Is the Ocean Running Out of Oxygen? Is That Bad?

Our guest: Dawn Wright. She's the chief scientist at the Environmental Systems Research Institute (aka “ESRI”), a professor, and also the first African-American female to dive to the ocean floor in the deep submersible ALVIN. She's a baller. Let's get it.



On to the news!

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

One of the country's oldest coal plants is closing -- and it's not alone, and it's not enough

"Englewood, Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for voluntary Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston as part of a restructuring agreement with an unnamed group of lenders.

Westmoreland, which operates mines across the U.S. and Canada, is the fourth major coal company to file for bankruptcy in the past three years, joining Peabody Energy Corp., Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources."

+ More Clean Energy:

       - Exxon Mobil is giving $1m to a conservative push for a carbon tax. That's great! Except they've given $16m to efforts to defeat the same shit in Washington state. Fuckers.

       - Who's winning the de-carbonizing race? Nobody! Yay!

       - Denmark helping New York build offshore wind

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

Viruses Spread by Insects to Crops Sound Scary. The Military Calls It Food Security.

"Within the Defense Department, one agency’s recent project sounds futuristic: millions of insects carrying viruses descend upon crops and then genetically modify them to withstand droughts, floods and foreign attacks, ensuring a permanently secure food supply

But in a warning published Thursday in the journal Science, a group of independent scientists and lawyers objected to the research, which has not yet moved out of the lab. They argue that the endeavor is not so different from designing biological weapons — banned under international law since 1975 — that could swarm and destroy acres of crops."

+ More Food & Water:

      - US states agree on plan to manage overtaxed Colorado River

+  A quick Happy Birthday to my little bro Casey, who's taught me so much about perseverance and food and also hangovers

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

How a Fortnite Squad (of Scientists) Wants to Defeat Climate Change

"Fortnite is the world’s most popular video game, with hundreds of millions of players worldwide.

Every Sunday for two hours, Henri Drake jumps into Fortnite, bringing climate-themed guests — such as Dessler and Peter Griffith, the founding director of NASA’s Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Office — with him. While they play (and stream to Twitch), they chat about climate change. The three-month-old squad has set out to make climate change information accessible to Fortnite fans."


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

U.S. deploys disaster response team to help fight Ebola in the Congo

"The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Monday that it has sent a disaster assistance response team (DART) to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help contain the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

The World Health Organization recently warned that renewed violence in eastern DRC has halted progressthere and has increased the national and regional risk level to "very high" while the global risk remained "low." "

+ Global risk is, again, low. But life comes at you fast -- and the next pandemic could be here in a minute.

+ More Bio 401:

      - How bacteria fights off antibiotics, part 349340

      - Here's the Plan to End Malaria With Crispr-Edited Mosquitoes, oh, but -- uhh -- Nobody Knows What Will Happen if Mosquitos Disappear

Fuck Cancer, Volume CXII 🖕

Australia set to 'eliminate' cervical cancer by 2028

"The cancer could be classified as "rare" as early as 2022, meeting a threshold of six new cases per 100,000 and deaths due to the diseases are expected to decline to one new case per 100,000 women by 2034.

But this is all contingent on Australia's high vaccination coverage and screening being maintained, write the study authors."

The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

Animal study suggests deep space travel may significantly damage GI function in astronauts

"The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that deep space bombardment by galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) could significantly damage gastrointestinal (GI) tissue leading to long-term functional alterations. The study also raises concern about high risk of tumor development in the stomach and colon."

+ More Space:

      - Fifty-foot-tall ice spikes might make it hard to land on Europa

Robots & AI 🤖🚘🧠⚡️

Cyber Tests Showed 'Nearly All' New Pentagon Weapons Vulnerable To Attack

"Passwords that took seconds to guess, or were never changed from their factory settings. Cyber vulnerabilities that were known, but never fixed. Those are two common problems plaguing some of the Department of Defense's newest weapons systems, according to the Government Accountability Office."

- More Robots & AI:

      - Waymo clocks 10 million self-driven miles on public roads

      - How the Enlightenment Ends

      - The race to build a quantum economy

      - Artificial intelligence is about to revolutionise warfare

The Highlight Reel

#111: Farewell, Captain America

October 5th, 2018

32 goddamn days to go

Phone Bank - Knock on Doors - Win Win Win


Please (Please) ShareVisit Your Share Page to See Your Progress!

AsbestosRadiationMercury. If it can poison you/turn you into a supervillian, Trump and his fucking henchmen have made it more accessible to the American people. Kryptonite? Sure. That shit the Joker fell into in Tim Burton's Batman? Fuck it, why not. #MAGA

You know why you're voting. Make sure everybody else does


This week's question was Why Does Congress Need a Female Air Force Officer/Engineer/Chemistry Teacher/Mom?

Our guest: Chrissy Houlahan, candidate for the House of Representatives and Pennsylvania district six. Find out her very personal reasons for getting into the race.


Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: What’s harder: Building Clean Power Plants, or Playing in a Reputable Cover Band?

Our guest: Sean Casten, Congressional candidate for Illinois district 6. He’s got like 40 science degrees, and built profitable clean energy. Let's go.

These are both new conversations in our partnership with 314 Action, as we work to put STEM candidates in office on November 6th. Or else we die.



On to the news!

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

China’s Giant Market for Really Tiny Cars

"The taste for tiny EVs has become a quirky subplot in China’s push to become a world leader in electric cars. Roughly 1.75 million micro-EVs were sold in China last year, more than twice the sales of regular EVs, of around 777,000, industry executives estimate. Most of the tiny ones were sold in a handful of rural provinces. The market is still growing rapidly, with some 400 Chinese manufacturers building countless models."

More Clean Energy:

      - A Green New Deal is on the ballot in Washington state this year

      - Whomever Figures Out Better Batteries Is Going To Be A Goddamn Trillionaire

      - Sunrun is bringing 100 megawatts of rooftop solar to low-income communities

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

The World Bank's latest tool to fight famine: BATMAN. I'm kidding. It's artificial intelligence.

"A year after severe food shortages threatened more than 20 million people in countries such as South Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, a coalition of international organizations say they are partnering with tech companies in an effort to prevent future famines using technology.

The coalition — which includes the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon — said Sunday it is launching a tool called the “Famine Action Mechanism,” a still-evolving algorithm that will use analytics to identify areas that are most likely to experience extreme food shortages."

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Floods. Wildfires. Yet Few Candidates Are Running on Climate Change.

"The vast majority of Democrats and Republicans running for federal office do not mention the threat of global warming in digital or TV ads, in their campaign literature or on social media.

Environmental activists and political scientists say it is a reflection of the issue’s perpetual low ranking among voters, even Democratic voters, and of the intense polarization along party lines that has developed around global warming, even as the science of human-caused warming has become overwhelming.

For scores of Democrats running in reddish districts and hoping to win a majority in the House, and for Democratic Senate candidates running in states President Trump won, highlighting climate change risks handing conservative voters a motivating issue to turn out against them."

+ More Climate Change:

      - Google's got two new climate related tools: an AI flood predictor and an air pollution measure-r

      - Reminder: Puerto Rico is still fucked.

      - Time to start thinking harder about sucking the carbon out of the air.

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Just 57% of 6 month to 17 year old kids got flu vaccines last year

There's no article. Get your kids fucking vaccinated. All of them. Just do it.

+ More Bio 401:

      - How smartphones plugged vaccine gaps in rural Pakistan

      - Wiping Out the Brain’s Retired Cells Prevents a Hallmark of Alzheimer's

      - Tiny Device Is a ‘Huge Advance’ for Treatment of Severe Heart Failure

Fuck Cancer, Volume CIX 🖕

Customized immunotherapy is way too fucking expensive

"Kymriah is priced between $373,000 and $475,000 per patient, depending on the type of cancer, and Yescarta at $373,000. When the costs of other necessary medical support is tallied up, the total average cost for treatment rises to anywhere from $500,000 to $850,000 per patient.

The extraordinary cost of these treatments presents a tragic dilemma: We may soon have a miracle drug for cancer whose cost, when multiplied across the population that needs it, could bankrupt the country."

+ More Cancer:

      - First Neuroblastoma Patient Successfully Dosed with Natural Killer T Cells 

      - Cancer cells evade immunotherapy by hiding telltale marker, fuck them

      - Lung cancer drug cuts deaths by almost a third

The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

Moon is stepping stone to MARS, NASA says

""The moon is the proving ground, and Mars is the goal," Bridenstine said during testimony before the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, part of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation."

+ He said, 40 years after we proved we could go to the moon six times

Robots & AI 🤖🚘🧠⚡️

The geopolitics of artificial intelligence

"Lee envisions the parallel universes of Chinese and American AI extending globally, with the United States dominating North America, Europe and Australia, and China eventually dominating South East Asia, Africa and to some extent South America. He also discusses the downside of AI, which he believes will displace 40 percent of jobs in both the developed and developing world, leaving only creative and human service jobs that can’t be automated — such as elderly care or teaching — as the primary source of future employment. "

The Highlight Reel

#110: Blackout drunk - you?

September 21st, 2018

38 days to go

Register to Vote -- Take Action -- Burn It Down


Please (Please) ShareVisit Your Share Page to See Your Progress!

Hi. Sooo sorry about the delay. Lots going on here. Ignore the half-painted living room. Let's get to it.


This week's question was How Will Latinos Save the Planet?

Our guest was Mark Magana, founding president and CEO of GreenLatinos, a national coalition of Latino environmental, natural resources, and conservation leaders. He was the first Latino to serve as senior staff at both the White House and in Congressional leadership, and he's leading us to the promised land. Dig in.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: Why Does Congress Need a Female Air Force Officer/Engineer/Chemistry Teacher/Mom?

Our guest: Chrissy Houlahan, candidate for the House of Representatives and Pennsylvania district six. Find out her very personal reasons for getting into the race.

This is another conversation in our partnership with 314 Action, as we work to put STEM candidates in office on November 6th.



On to the news!

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

Chinese Soup Ingredients May Hold Key to Fighting Dementia

"Chinese scientists have borrowed three ingredients from the country’s traditional medicine practice -- a 3,000-year-old approach that aims to regulate the flow of energy in the body -- and used modern pharmaceutical technology to devise a formula to tackle dementia, which has no cure.

The resulting blend of ginkgo biloba, ginseng and saffron extracts, called Sailuotong or SLT, is due to enter a late-stage study in Melbourne this month, and a larger clinical trial to validate its impact is slated to begin in China later this year."

+ More Food & Water:

      - Bill Gates: GMOs can help farmers adapt to climate change

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

How Zinc Batteries Could Change Energy Storage

"Thomas Edison tried to develop batteries made with zinc 100 years ago. But he did not figure out how to make them technologically viable. NantEnergy says its zinc air batteries are the first to become commercially available.

Scientists at NantEnergy said they had achieved two key goals: to make the batteries rechargeable, and to lower their cost for energy storage to $100 per kilowatt-hour.

That is a figure that some people in the industry have said is essential to creating a carbon-free electric grid that operates even when the sun is down and the wind abates."

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100

"Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century.

The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020."

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

80,000 Americans died of the flu last winter. Get your flu shot.

"That’s more than the number killed in traffic collisions, gun violence, or from opioid overdoses. 

It was also the deadliest flu season in more than forty years — since 1976 — when the agency starting publishing annual influenza trends, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Associated Press this week.

Seasonal influenza is a killer, even in milder years. Lately, mild flu seasons tend to kill about 12,000 Americans, and more severe flu seasons kill up to 56,000. 

But 80,000 deaths is an unusually large toll. Here’s what led to the massive spike in flu mortality — and why you should get your flu shot."

+ More Bio 401:

      - Why the Gene Editors of Tomorrow Need to Study Ethics Today
      - Why Your DNA Is Still Uncharted Territory

Fuck Cancer, Volume CIX 🖕

Black Patients Miss Out On Promising Cancer Drugs

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Ninlaro in 2015 after patients in a clinical trial gained an average of six months without their cancer spreading. That trial, though, had a major shortcoming: its racial composition. One out of five people diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the U.S. is black, and African Americans are more than twice as likely as white Americans to be diagnosed with the blood cancer.

Yet of the 722 participants in the trial, only 13 — or 1.8 percent — were black.

The scarcity of black patients in Ninlaro’s testing left unanswered the vital question of whether the drug would work equally well for them."

The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

NASA's TESS telescope discovered two new Earth-like planets, got hot Insta feed

"TESS has already found its very first planet: a super-Earth orbiting the star Pi Mensae (π Men), nearly 60 light years away.

What is most mind-boggling is that TESS has only just begun its mission. The space telescope launched on the back of a SpaceX Falcon in April and officially began observations in July. What wonders still await? How many exoplanets will we find?"

Robots & AI 🤖🚘🧠⚡️

Self Driving Cars Are Headed for an AI Roadblock

"There’s growing concern among AI experts that it may be years, if not decades, before self-driving systems can reliably avoid accidents. As self-trained systems grapple with the chaos of the real world, experts like NYU’s Gary Marcus are bracing for a painful recalibration in expectations, a correction sometimes called “AI winter.” That delay could have disastrous consequences for companies banking on self-driving technology, putting full autonomy out of reach for an entire generation."

The Highlight Reel

#109: There can be only one!

September 21st, 2018

46 days to go

Register to Vote -- Take Action -- Burn It Down

Hi. Hello, there, friend. I know you get sad when the climate change news is all bad. Tough nuts: it's all bad. But the clean energy news isn't (there's a difference), nor the cancer news. You know the ice is melting, the seas are rising, and coasts are sinking. You want clean energy. We got it. We love you.

So let's focus on action, like the ladies out there kicking ass for a sustainable future (and not the crazy fucks manipulating the news and our trajectory as a species).


This week's question was Can These Scientists Really Save Congress?

Our guest was Shaughnessy Naughton, founder of 314 Action, the advocacy group committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration's attacks on science. FUCK YEAH.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: How Will Latinos Save the Planet?

Our guest: Mark Magana, founding president and CEO of GreenLatinos, a national coalition of Latino environmental, natural resources, and conservation leaders. He was the first Latino to serve as senior staff at both the White House and in Congressional leadership, and he's leading us to the promised land. Dig in.


On to the news!

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

How global warming is driving the decline of the Colorado River (aka your drinking water, west coast)

"Udall, together with UCLA researchers Mu Xiao and Dennis Lettenmaier, used a hydrologic model to examine the streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin from 1916 through 2014. They found the flow declined by 16.5 percent over the past century. 

They calculated that 53 percent of the trend was linked to warming, which has shrunk the average snowpack in the mountains, boosted the uptake of water by plants and increased the amount of water that evaporates off the landscape."

+ More Food & Water:

      - This is The Hidden Link Between Farm Antibiotics and Human Illness

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

This is how your life will (hopefully) change as California goes carbon-neutral

"Carbon neutrality will require Californians to drive less overall and use cars that aren't powered by oil, a fundamental lifestyle shift in a state known for its freeways, gas stations and suburban sprawl. The push for carbon neutrality might also force local officials to focus on getting more housing built in existing neighborhoods, creating denser communities that encourage walking, biking and public transit.

The biggest source of climate pollution, by far, is transportation, which is responsible for 41 percent of the state's carbon emissions."

+ More Clean Energy:

      - The Divestment Movement to Combat Climate Change is All Grown Up

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

At this rate, Earth risks 20-30 feet of sea level rise

"Temperatures not much warmer than the planet is experiencing now were sufficient to melt a major part of the East Antarctic ice sheet in Earth’s past, scientists reported Wednesday, including during one era about 125,000 years ago when sea levels were as much as 20 to 30 feet higher than they are now.
“It doesn’t need to be a very big warming, as long as it stays 2 degrees warmer for a sufficient time."

+ More Climate:

      - Here's how air pollution hurts your brain-dome

      - Heat kills record number in Arizona, which is saying something

      - An Equator Full of Hurricanes Shows a Preview of End Times

In Flood-Hit Public Housing, a Reminder That the Poor Bear Brunt of Storms’ Fury

"But in a complex that is more than 90 percent black, there is significant suspicion that the plan is just a scheme to move the poor out to make room for a richer, whiter population.

“They want all that waterfront,” said Charles Holloway, 47, a furniture mover, gesturing toward the broad river. “They want to extend it so they can walk their dogs all the way down.”

As she sat on a staircase overlooking her wrecked living room, Ms. Monk, 23, said none of this mattered to her. She simply wanted out.

“I don’t want to live nowhere near water, because I’m scared,” she said. “I’m just lost, and hoping my kids don’t get sick. Can you smell it?"

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

A three-front war on a potential flu pandemic, all in one tiny needle that comes in your mail

"Researchers created an H5N1 vaccine, boosted by a special ingredient that primes the body's immune system to respond. Then they administered it through a microneedle that penetrates only the skin's upper layer. They see this prototype technology as a platform that could lead to novel vaccine patches that can be distributed rapidly and administered without a nurse. People would simply stick a bandage-like strip, lined with microscopic needles, onto their skin."

Fuck Cancer, Volume CIX 🖕

Did CRISPR crack cancer's immortality switch? Is that a Highlander reference? Maybe.

"More than 50 types of cancers possess an “immortality switch” that essentially lets them divide indefinitely. But a research team studied glioblastoma brain cancer cells and was able to isolate the GABP protein, which is responsible for enabling cancer cells to activate the endless multiplying. They removed the protein, and the cancer cells “behaved like mere-mortal cells.”"

+ Related: May I introduce you to CAR Natural Killer cells? (I did not make up this name)

The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

Mars trips may involve less radiation exposure than previously thought

"Newly presented ESA ExoMars orbiter data indicates that astronauts would receive "at least" 60 percent of their maximum recommended career radiation exposure on a round trip to Mars that takes six months both ways. That's still several times what ISS crew members receive, but it's relatively gentle compared to what some had feared."

+ More Final Frontier/Escape Hatch:

      - Proxima B might (might) be habitable. San Francisco, not so much.

The Highlight Reel

#108: We could grow up together, E.T.

September 14th, 2018

53 days to go

Register to Vote -- Take Action -- Burn It Down

First things first -- it's Friday morning, which means Florence is probably, finally laying waste to a good part of the southeastern US coast. Sending so much love your way, folks. 

For reference, here's the other east coast cities most at threat in coming years, and also the crazy-ass people who fly into these monsters to study them. I'm sure they think climate change is a hoax, too.


This week's topic was Electrocuting the Shit Out of Cancer!

Our guest was Theo Roth, of UCSF, who has figured out how to -- yes, it's true -- electrocute the shit out of cancer. Brian asks a LOT of questions (you're welcome), and we find out what the future of immunotherapy really looks like. Listen now to find out how you, too, can zap cancer right where it counts.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: Can These Scientists Really Save Congress?

Our guest: Shaughnessy Naughton, founder of 314 Action, the advocacy group committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration's attacks on science. FUCK YEAH.


On to the news!

Food & Water 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾🚰

Cape Town Is an Omen

"In its march to slash water consumption drastically, this metropolis of 4 million people also became a harbinger of how water will constrain global cities in the future, and how climate change will bring turmoil and a new slate of challenges to places where class and racial divides are deep. Day Zero is still hypothetical, but Cape Town’s reality will soon impact many global cities, where water will become a constant concern, and democracy will become contingent upon the taps."

+ More Food & Water:

      - Probiotics labelled 'quite useless'

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

California passes 100% clean energy bill, but punts on several plans for getting there

"...this includes a plan backed by Gov. Jerry Brown to connect the power grids of as many as 14 western states, as well as a bill that would have promoted geothermal energy development at the Salton Sea. The geothermal bill might have passed, if not for last-minute opposition from state Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican who represents the Coachella Valley."

+ More Clean Energy:

      - Jerry Brown's curtain call includes a massive climate conference this week in San Francisco. Is it enough?

      - Arizona voters will decide renewable-energy rules in November

      - Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air, which is really just fucking incredible, isn't it? I mean. They really just give zero fucks about you. Or me. Or anyone. Not even themselves! Do you think they have a rocket ship we don't know about? To blow this joint once it gets real bad? Who's gonna fly it? Anyways.

      - New York and London mayors call on all cities to divest from fossil fuels

      - From Rooftops to Algae Pools: Orlando’s Vision for Carbon-Free Energy

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

A Climate Agenda Without A Housing Agenda Is Incomplete

"In short, unless and until we allow more housing — including more housing density — near job centers and public transportation, we will continue to rely on sprawl development, forcing people to drive everywhere and to drive very long commutes."

+ Do better, California

North Carolina didn't like science on sea levels, so they passed a law against it

"In 2012, the state now in the path of Hurricane Florence reacted to a prediction by its Coastal Resources Commission that sea levels could rise by 39in over the next century by passing a law that banned policies based on such forecasts.

The legislation drew ridicule, including a mocking segment by comedian Stephen Colbert, who said: “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.”"

+ How's that working out for you? Vote vote vote vote vote vote

+ More Climate:

      - US pension funds ‘must consider climate-related risks’

      - Young voters and voters of color are key to climate policy, by the amazing Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

      - Exxon REALLY doesn't want you to see what they're hiding, appeals to Supreme Court

Biology 401 💉👾💊 

If AI is going to be the world’s doctor, it needs better textbooks

"Imagine there was a simple test to see whether you were developing Alzheimer’s disease. You would look at a picture and describe it, software would assess the way you spoke, and based on your answer, tell you whether or not you had early-stage Alzheimer’s. It would be quick, easy, and over 90% accurate—except for you, it doesn’t work.

That might be because you’re from Africa. Or because you’re from India, or China, or Michigan. Imagine most of the world is getting healthier because of some new technology, but you’re getting left behind."

+ More Bio:

       - For the first time, researchers will release genetically engineered mosquitoes in Africa

       - Why the U.S. faces a growing risk of epidemics

       - There’s A New Antibiotic In Town, And We Can Create It In The Lab

Fuck Cancer, Volume CVIII 🖕

There's a goddamn homing system targeting therapeutic T cells at brain cancer

"Successful T cell immunotherapy for brain cancer requires that the T cells can access tumour tissues, but this has been difficult to achieve...

We have therefore developed a molecule that targets the delivery of T cells to brain cancer."

The Highlight Reel

#107: You Can't Handle The Truth!

September 7th, 2018

60 days to go

Register to Vote -- Take Action -- Burn It Down

Thing we're loving this week that's not a certain Supreme Court candidate getting railed by Senators Harris and Booker: This Place Will Be Water. An excellent tool to get knowledgeable and organized around sea level rise in your hometown. Was happy to support their recent Kickstarter. Check it out and make some noise in your area!


This week's topic was: This Is Zero Hour - So What The Hell Are You Doing?

Our guests were Elsa Mengistu & Emelly Villa, teenage ballers behind the This Is Zero Hour Movement (don't call it a march). We talk the march, the future of the movement, and of course why old people have ruined everything, but for real this time. Check it out now.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: Electrocuting the Shit Out of Cancer!

Our guest: Theo Roth, of UCSF, who has figured out how to -- yes, it's true -- electrocute the shit out of cancer. Brian asks a LOT of questions (you're welcome), and we find out what the future of immunotherapy really looks like.


On to the news!

Food 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾

3 Lessons From Cape Town Running Out of Water

"My doctoral and post-doctoral research focused on climate adaptation decision making and governance in southern African cities. In other words, how are people organising to reduce the risks that higher temperatures, intense rainfall and dry periods pose to city residents?

My research suggests three lessons for any city looking to prepare for and manage climate extremes. These centre on preparation, leadership and an understanding that adaptation requires both big and small changes."


Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

How China's giant solar farms are transforming world energy

"China has more solar energy capacity than any other country in the world, at a gargantuan 130 gigawatts. If it were all generating electricity at once, it could power the whole of the UK several times over. China is home to many sizeable solar farms – including the huge 850-megawatt Longyangxia Dam facility on the Tibetan Plateau, with its four million panels. And the largest solar plant in the world at the moment is in China’s Tengger Desert – its capacity exceeds 1,500 megawatts.

These projects have cost many millions of dollars to build – but have they been worth it? And will enough of these sprawling farms ever be constructed to meet its green energy targets?"


California's Going 100% Green -- but When Will Their Vehicles?

"It took Norway about a decade to reach six percent electric vehicle sales but then only five years to go from 6 percent to 47 percent. Norway is a special case, given that the country has generous incentives that aren’t replicated elsewhere. It does show, though, that inflection points occur, and when they do, markets can change quickly."


Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?

"As the world warms because of human-induced climate change, most of us can expect to see more days when temperatures hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) or higher. See how your hometown has changed so far and how much hotter it may get."

+ More climate:

      - The limits of local/regional/state fights against climate change

      - Dire Climate Change Warnings Cut From Trump Power-Plant Proposal

      - Poorer neighborhoods are hotter than wealthy ones, surprises fucking no one who's paying attention


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Italy's anti-vaccine push could spread around the world

"Last week, Italy's upper house of parliament voted to suspend the mandatory inoculation of schoolchildren against 10 diseases. In addition to the influence of Wakefield's study, the anti-vaxx politics are in part driven by a 2012 Italian court ruling that a child’s autism was caused by the MMR vaccine (the ruling was later overturned)."


+ The scientific community is floored

+ More bio: 

      - Crispr Halted Muscular Dystrophy in Dogs. Are Humans Next?

      - Sentences your grandparents could never comprehend: Can artificial cells be tiny bacteria fighters?

      - Hunting for humanity's antibiotic savior


Fuck Cancer, Volume CVII 🖕

This tech startup wants to connect cancer patients to treatments -- but is it unaffordable?

"How it works: A patient downloads the Driver app and gives consent for the company to collect medical records and tumor tissue. The technology then finds cancer treatments or clinical trials that are available and hospitals they can go to, which can lead to a video conference with an oncologist about next steps and future appointments. 

A "patient support team" will evaluate people's health insurance, and that may limit their options, Driver co-founder Petros Giannikopoulos said.
Driver's first product, called Hyperdrive, is targeted for cancer patients. It costs $3,000 upfront and then $20 per month as a subscription.

The second product, called Everdrive, is targeted for cancer survivors and other presumably healthy people. It costs $500 upfront with a $20-per-month subscription."

+ Health care is broken as shit


The Highlight Reel

#106: Throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip!

August 31st, 2018

67 days to go

New hero: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Shiloh Baptist Church, North Carolina.

“Jesus said love your neighbor,” Dr. Barber told the crowd. “I don’t care how many times you tell me you love me, if you put coal ash in my water you don’t love me. Because if there was nothing wrong with the coal ash, then put it in the wealthy communities.”

Preach, Reverend. Preach.


This week's question was: Are You Ready for Some Radical Environmental Justice?

Our guest was Shantha Ready Alonso, Executive Director for Creation Justice Ministries, where she busts her ass on the reg to help empower minorities affected by this well-rounded environmental shitshow we've created.

We raged against the machine, discussed The New Jim Crow, Chicago, pissed off moms, Virginia, and more.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: The Revolution Is Upon Us.

Our guests: Elsa Mengistu & Emelly Villa, teenage ballers behind the This Is Zero Hour Movement (don't call it a march). We talk the march, the future of the movement, and of course why old people have ruined everything, but for real this time.


On to the news!

Food 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾

Climate change will make hundreds of millions more people nutrient deficient

"Experts say that by the middle of the century about 175 million more people develop a zinc deficiency, while 122 million people who are not currently protein deficient could become so.

In addition, about 1.4 billion women of childbearing age and infants under five years old will be living in regions where there will be the highest risk of iron deficiency.

Among other problems, zinc deficiencies are linked to troubles with wound healing, infections and diarrhoea; protein deficiencies are linked to stunted growth; and iron deficiencies are tied to complications in pregnancy and childbirth."

+ Related: Stop. Wasting. Food.


Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

California's Going Carbon-Free by 2045 -- Will It Be In Time?

"California joins Hawaii, which passed legislation in 2015 calling for 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., are also considering such a mandate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maryland and Colorado had considered bills but have not passed the requirement."

+ Here's the kick in the pants: Climate change will be deadlier, more destructive and costlier for California than previously believed. Semi-related: How California Can Save the Amazon

+ More clean energy:

      - The U.S. is on the verge of an offshore wind revolution


Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

The Global Rightward Shift on Climate Change (this is not the headline you were hoping for in 2018)

"Last Thursday, Malcolm Turnbull was the prime minister of Australia. By the end of this week, he’ll be just another guy in Sydney.

Turnbull was felled by climate-change policy. His attempt at a moderate, even milquetoast energy bill—which included some mild cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions—proved too aggressive for his co-partisans. On Friday, members of Australia’s center-right Liberal Party voted him out of office."

+ Editor's note: Fuck Trump

+ More climate:

      - Lowering air pollution just *a bit* would increase life expectancy as much as eradicating lung and breast cancer

      - Permafrost not frosting faster than expected and I don't have a good feeling about this


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Anti-vax fears drive a measles outbreak in Europe

"In the past decade, measles-vaccination rates in some European countries have often fallen below those in parts of Africa. Italy, France and Serbia, for example, have lower child-vaccinations rates than Burundi, Rwanda and Senegal.

Two-fifths of people in France—a country whose people pop antibiotics like sweets—believe that vaccines are unsafe. A quarter of Greeks and Ukrainians are also hostile... A survey of French doctors in 2014, for example, found that nearly a quarter believed that some of the officially recommended vaccines were not useful."

Here's why Islam can't make up its mine on vaccines

+ More Bio:

      - Inside the slimy underground hunt for humanity's antibiotic saviour

      - Ebola outbreak in Congo could be slowing down, maybe due to experimental vaccine

      - China Has Withheld Samples of a Dangerous Flu Virus

      - The Future of Medicine May Land Within Five to 10 Years, Crispr Inventor Says


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

How NASA Built a Shark Tank for Space Inventions

"Here at NASA's iTech competition, the cofounder of PharmaJet is vying for access to expert advice from the space agency. She and 14 other researchers are pitching diverse terrestrial technologies that they hope to level up to space. Each team has three minutes each—after which “shark music,” an off-brand Jaws theme, plays them out like a shepherd’s crook—to convince a panel of judges (not including Barbara Corcoran or Mark Cuban) they are worthy of the agency's wisdom. Tonight's winner will become one of 10 finalists chosen from similar events across the country, who will then compete for just three mentorship slots."


Fuck Cancer, Volume CV 🖕

A malaria protein may be the key to a universal blood test for cancer

"The new research reveals that a particular protein produced by malaria parasites is attracted to a very specific sugar molecule found on more than 95 percent of cancer cells. Called VAR2CSA, the protein essentially acts like a tumor cell magnet, gripping onto any cell found to harbor the target sugar molecule. 

The experiments have already yielded some exciting early results. One test placed ten single cancer cells into five millilitres of blood. Using the malaria protein the researchers were able to successfully retrieve 9 of those cells."

+ More cancer:

      - Immunotherapy Drugs Slow Skin Cancer That Has Spread to the Brain

      - Here's the new test for melanoma immunotherapy potential


War 🚀🌎🔥

The Untold Story of NotPetya, the Most Devastating Cyberattack in History

"Jensen walked out of the building and into the warm air of a late June afternoon. Like the vast majority of Maersk staffers, he had no idea when he might return to work. The maritime giant that employed him, responsible for 76 ports on all sides of the earth and nearly 800 seafaring vessels, including container ships carrying tens of millions of tons of cargo, representing close to a fifth of the entire world’s shipping capacity, was dead in the water."

+ More war:

      - With Ships and Missiles, China Is Ready to Challenge U.S. Navy in Pacific


The Highlight Reel

#105: Was the little car your idea?

August 24th, 2018

74 days to go

While we all celebrate everyone Trump has ever trusted turning against him, in no uncertain words, let's keep in mind he's still busy sweeping away clean energy statutes left and right.

Register to vote. Then get everyone you know to register to vote. Then support organizations that are getting out the vote with people you've never met. Then, in 74 days, pick up your most popular friend, on your cool scooter, and take them to vote, so they'll tell all their friends to vote.

And then we win. 


This week's question was: Can Texas go (clean energy) independent?

Our guest was candidate for Texas district 21, Joseph Kopser. He's a military vet, and a clean energy entrepreneur.

This is the first conversation in our partnership with 314Action.org to introduce you to the scientists, doctors, etc running for office on November 6th.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: It's time for radical environmental justice.

Our guest: Shantha Ready Alonso, Executive Director for Creation Justice Ministries, where she busts her ass on the reg to help empower minorities affected by this well-rounded environmental shitshow we've created.


On to the news!

Food 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾

Scientists Finally Crack Wheat’s Absurdly Complex Genome

"While the genome of Arabidopsis—the first plant to be sequenced—contains 135 million DNA letters, and the human genome contains 3 billion, bread wheat has 16 billion...

Researchers estimate that the world will need to grow 60 percent more wheat by 2050 to feed its booming population.

“Whatever your views on a wheat-based diet, there is no escaping its importance in global food security."

+ More food:

      - Geoengineering to avert global warming could reduce crop yields


Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

The Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Power the Entire Continental US with Clean Energy. But Should It?

"In 2017, NASA scientists ran a thought experiment to see if they might be able to halt a future supereruption. It suggested drilling a series of wells around the perimeter of the park and pumping cold water down into the hot rock. The hypothetical solution would cool down Yellowstone’s magma chamber and prevent calamity.

As a bonus, the system would provide enough geothermal energy to power the entire country.

...But Yellowstone and other national parks have long been protected from commercial energy development to ensure that these regions remain pristine. The 1970 Geothermal Steam Act, which prohibited the placement of geothermal plants in national parks, even lists Yellowstone by name."

+ More clean energy: 

      - Electric cars: the race to replace cobalt

      - The US is losing the high stakes battery war

      - Stacking concrete blocks is a surprisingly efficient way to store energy


Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record

"This phenomenon – which has never been recorded before – has occurred twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heatwave in the northern hemisphere.

One meteorologist described the loss of ice as “scary”. Others said it could force scientists to revise their theories about which part of the Arctic will withstand warming the longest."

+ More climate:

      - Big oil asks government to protect its Texas facilities from climate change, can kindly go fuck themselves

      - This carbon-sucking mineral could help slow down climate change, let's go already

      - Germany Has Proven the Modern Automobile Must Die

      - BREATHE: London's air is now as bad as Beijing and Seattle's is like smoking 7 cigarettes


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

China's killing it in the "how to edit a human" game

"A team of scientists in China have used a cutting-edge Crispr technique, known as base editing, to repair a disease-causing mutation in viable human embryos.

Published last week in the journal Molecular Therapy, and reported first by Stat, the study represents significant progress over previous attempts to remodel the DNA of human embryos. That’s in part because the editing worked so well, and in part because that editing took place in embryos created by a standard in-vitro fertilization technique."

+ More bio:

      - New CRISPR technique skips over portions of genes that can cause disease

      - Ebola's back in the Congo. This is the experimental vaccine they're trying that might just get approved in the US

      - Why the hell isn't there a Lyme disease vaccine?


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

The Genetics (and Ethics) of Making Humans Fit for Mars

"As George Church, a Harvard geneticist and leading synthetic biologist, argues: “One likely path for risk reduction in space does seem to involve biological engineering of adult would-be astronauts.” He has identified 40-some genes that might be advantageous for long-term spaceflight (and would benefit those who stayed behind, too). His list includes CTNNBI, which confers radiation resistance, LRP5, which builds adamantine bones, ESPA1 (common in Tibetans), which allows people to live with less oxygen, as well as a host of genes that might make us smarter, more memorious, or less anxious.

The menu even includes a gene, ABC11, which endows its possessors with “low-odor production,” a friendly trait in a confined space."


Fuck Cancer, Volume CV 🖕

'Undruggable' cancers slowed by targeting growth signals

"As many as 50 percent of human cancer cases -- across a wide variety of tissues -- involve defects in a common cellular growth signaling pathway. These defects have so far defied most attempts to develop targeted therapies, leading some in the field to conclude that they may be "undruggable."

Now researchers at UC San Francisco and Redwood City-based Revolution Medicines, Inc, have identified a new strategy for potentially treating a subset of such intractable cancers by decoupling the entire RAS / MAP Kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway from external growth signals ...dramatically slowing cancer growth in lung, skin, colon and pancreatic cancer cell lines as well as human lung cancers grown in animal models."

+ More cancer: 

       - Researchers artificially generate immune cells integral to creating cancer vaccines


The Highlight Reel

#104: Who's Galoka?

August 17th, 2018

81 days to go

Yuval Harari says humans are a post-truth species. No shit. Ever wonder why folks ignore the truth? Here's one thought, and here's another. Regardless, let's keep working on meeting people where they are, and finding a way forward, so we can turn this ship around on the quick step. 


This week's question was: what's the (real) business incentive for clean energy?

Our guest was Will Hackman. Will’s an expert and author on various energy, environmental, and climate change topics. He also bolted immediately after the call to go to Alaska and potentially never come back. Check it out anyways!

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: can Texas go (clean energy) independent?

Our guest: candidate for Texas district 21, Joseph Kopser. He's a military vet, and a clean energy entrepreneur. This is the first in our partnership with 314action.org to introduce you to the scientists, doctors, etc running for office on November 6th.


On to the news!

Food 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾

The Wonder Plant That Could Slash Fertilizer Use

"A team of researchers has shown that the secret of this Mexican corn’s success lies in its aerial roots—necklaces of finger-sized, rhubarb-red tubes that encircle the stem. These roots drip with a thick, clear, glistening mucus that’s loaded with bacteria. Thanks to these microbes, the corn can fertilize itself by pulling nitrogen directly from the surrounding air.

The Sierra Mixe corn takes eight months to mature—too long to make it commercially useful. But if its remarkable ability could be bred into conventional corn, which matures in just three months, it would be an agricultural game changer."

+ More food:

      - European Ruling Could Slow Africa’s Push for CRISPR Crops

      - Ravenous for Meat, China Faces a Climate Quandary

      - Livestock treatment may offer solution to antibiotics crisis

      - Global dimming may mitigate warming, but could hurt crop yields


Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Jakarta, the fastest-sinking city in the world

"The Indonesian capital of Jakarta is home to 10 million people but it is also one of the fastest-sinking cities in the world. If this goes unchecked, parts of the megacity could be entirely submerged by 2050, say researchers. Is it too late?

It sits on swampy land, the Java Sea lapping against it, and 13 rivers running through it. So it shouldn't be a surprise that flooding is frequent in Jakarta and, according to experts, it is getting worse. But it's not just about freak floods, this massive city is literally disappearing into the ground."

+ More climate around the world: 

      - China could face deadly heat waves due to climate change

      - Emerging economies will slow down as temperatures rise

      - Scorching Summer in Europe Signals Long-Term Climate Changes

      - Water is running out in Jordan


The Earth Ablaze

"While we naturally focus on the immediate loss of lives, the full toll may not be so immediate. Recent epidemiological research following the enormous fires in Indonesia in the past few years suggests that lung disease from smoke and particulate matter inhalation may have caused over 100,000 additional premature deaths across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

A dangerous, large-scale feedback loop that promotes wildfires has emerged. Forests, woodlands and grasslands hold much of Earth’s terrestrial carbon. When they burn, more carbon dioxide is released, increasing concentrations in the atmosphere and causing land and sea surface temperatures to rise. This warming increases the likelihood of even more widespread and intense fires and exacerbates the severe weather and sea level rise we are now beginning to experience.

What has been particularly worrisome in recent years is that the world’s largest forests, the taiga of Russia and its boreal forest cousins that ring the Arctic and store much of the world’s carbon, experienced wildfires at a rate and scale not seen in at least 10,000 years."


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

She discovered how to edit a human. Is that good?

"The speed of CRISPR’s dissemination represents a threat as well as a breakthrough. Anxious about the lack of control, Doudna convened a conference of 500 ethicists, scientists and lawyers in 2015 to consider all the apparently fantastical futures ushered in by the ability to tinker with the code of life. She wanted to set out rules and protocols before the technology was applied to humans."

+ More bio:

      - The $250 Biohack That’s Revolutionizing Life With Diabetes

      - Artificial intelligence tool 'as good as experts' at detecting eye problems

      - Goddammit. Hospital bacteria are starting to tolerate hand sanitizer

      - Crazy new antibiotics found in these leaves

      - Alzheimer's research takes a step...back (science is hard)


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

New NASA Planet Hunter May Find 10,000 Alien Worlds in Just Two Years

"As eye-catching as 10,000 planets are, the particularly important number here is the 3,500 sub-Neptune worlds, Christiansen said. Those planets will be TESS' proving grounds in terms of its formal requirements and will help scientists understand how small rocky planets are formed."

+ More space:

       - Are We Alone? Maybe. The Better Question Is, Can We Survive? 

       - SETI Researchers Want to End the Alien-Detection Hype (well, not "end", but temper)

       - NASA Is Trying To Save Us From The Sun


Fuck Cancer, Volume CIV 🖕

Tumor cells can unleash tiny weapons to ward off immune system attacks, oh come on

"Scientists have discovered that cancer cells can release tiny weapons called exosomes that target immune cells before they have a chance to reach a tumor."

+ Quick note: fuck cancer

+ More cancer: 

      - After 30 years, an immunotherapy to rival CAR-T finally nears the clinic

      - IBM Has a Watson Dilemma (science is hard)

      - Johns Hopkins wants to predict whether immunology will work


Robots & AI 🤖🧠⚡️

Should Artificial Intelligence Copy the Human Brain?

"To understand artificial neural networks, picture a bunch of points in space connected to one another like the neurons in our brains. Adjusting the strength of the connections between these points is a rough analog for what happens when a brain learns. The result is a neural wiring diagram, with favorable pathways to desired results, such as correctly identifying an image.

Today’s deep-learning systems don’t resemble our brains. At best, they look like the outer portion of the retina, where a scant few layers of neurons do initial processing of an image."


War 🚀🌎🔥

Inside Russia's invasion of the U.S. electric grid

"In the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia deterred any major attack by the other with existentially dangerous arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles. Now, Russia has what it views as a potent new deterrent, experts say — cyber implants in the U.S. electric grid.

Over the last year, Russian hackers have infiltrated power stations and other points on the U.S. grid — and now are inside hundreds, empowering them to create chaos with massive blackouts, U.S. officials say."


The Highlight Reel

#103: Never Gonna Give You Up

August 3rd, 2018

95 days to go

As I was type-type-typing away at this little newsletter, President Dipshit just proposed rolling back the country's fuel-efficiency standards, so I had to change my intro from a delightful poem to a(nother) battle cry.

What does this mean? It means adding the equivalent of adding 30 coal-fired power plants to the grid. 

Friendly reminders: transportation is now America's number one carbon-emitter. Also, we can tabulate climate-related deaths now

If you feel like all of this doesn't add up, you're not crazy. They don't care about you. Or your kids.

No one said this was going to be easy. We're in it. We're fucking in it. You're fighting, I'm fighting, it's hot as Satan's shit out there, and there's 95 days to go before we go up against incalculable dark money and Russian meddling and racists all over this great country to try to take the goddamn place back.

It has always been, and will always be, a perilous fight.

So take a deep breath. Read this awesome optimist's guide to fighting climate change. Register to vote.

Get back to it.


We're off next week because of travel. 


This week's question was: Why the Hell Is Space Exploration Important When the Planet is Literally On Fire?

Our guest was the uber-popular and hard-working Space Gal, Emily CalandrelliTune in!

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode where we discuss: The Pope Has Said "F*ck It, I'll Solve Climate Change With My Own Bare Hands". And we are INTO it.

Our guest: Jose Aguto, associate director of the Catholic Climate Covenant. More to come!



On to the news!

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Take 1: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change

"With support from the Pulitzer Center, this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it."

+ Take 2: There's (much, much) more to the story. Who's really at fault?

Here's another one.

+ More climate: 

       - How Record Heat Wreaked Havoc on Four Continents

       - A one minute-read on how climate bullshit in the US compares to the smoking battle of the 80's/90's

       - In India, Summer Heat May Soon Be Literally Unbearable

       - Here's the Republicans who believe in climate change 


The Carr Fire is a terrifying glimpse into California’s future

"On Thursday evening, the wind-driven Carr Fire rushed into residential neighborhoods in Redding, bringing a one-two punch of thick smoke and unpredictable “firenados” that overwhelmed firefighters. At least two people were killed trying to beat back the blaze and, within hours, dozens of homes had burned to the ground. 

“There was literally a wall of flames coming into the city,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said Friday as firefighters tried to make a stand in triple-digit heat and gusting wind...

...That means not only figuring out whether PG&E will be liable for the billions of dollars in property damage from wildfires along the path of its utility equipment, but also fundamentally changing the way we live, and the way we prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

Many in Redding, for example, weren’t ready for a wildfire capable of creating its own weather system in their neighborhoods. They thought flames could never jump the Sacramento River and get into the city, in large part, because it’s never happened.

But old rules no longer apply."

+ More on the fires:

      - From the firefighters: "Fatigue is starting to set in", job is "twice as violent" as ever before, two die

      - California Is Burning Before Our Eyes

      - Heatwave made more than twice as likely by climate change, scientists find

      - Wildfires In The U.S. Are Getting Bigger

      - Experts say urban sprawl, climate change hike wildfire risk (which is interesting because aren't 30 million folks supposed to move to cities in the next 20 years? Asking for a friend)


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Malaria’s ticking time bomb

"Throngs of men and women ventured into the forests of northeastern Cambodia in April, lured by a bumper crop of a rare tropical treat called samrong. After days of hiking through the wilderness, some of the travellers returned to their homes with a bounty of the wrinkled seeds, which fetch a high price as a special dessert or an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.

But many soon fell ill. Khong Chhoem, a 56-year-old rice farmer, says the fevers hit him a few days after the expedition. His muscles hurt. His eyes hurt. He had unbearable nightmares. A health worker told Chhoem that he had tested positive for Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest kind of malaria-causing parasite. But because a wave of malaria was sweeping through the region, medicine was in short supply. Chhoem eventually found a shop that carried the drugs he needed, and he recovered. But in the intervening days, mosquitoes probably sucked up the parasites in his blood and spread them to other people."


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

This Solar System Catalog Could Be Key to Finding an Earth-Like Exoplanet

"A pair of scientists has released a detailed catalog of the colors, brightness, and spectral lines of the bodies in our Solar System. They hope to use the catalog as a comparison, so when they spot the blip of an exoplanet, they’ll have a better idea of how it actually looks.

“This is what an alien observer would see if they looked at our Solar System,” study coauthor Lisa Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell, told Gizmodo. With this data, astronomers might guess whether an exoplanet is Earth-like, Mars-like, Jupiter-like, or something else entirely."

+ Who doesn't get AMPED by the line "something else entirely"?

+ More space:

      - A Breakthrough Way to See Distant Planets


Fuck Cancer, Volume CIII 🖕

Could your gut microbes hinder your cancer treatment?

"What does cancer have to do with poop? In the past few years, researchers around the world, including us, have realized that the gut bacteria – what we call the gut microbiome – of cancer patients may hold the key to improving cancer therapies for patients. Exactly how this happens is unclear, but may be linked to the ability of gut bacteria to boost our natural immune responses.

The gut microbiome comprises the entire collection of microorganisms dwelling in the gastrointestinal tract. But recent research suggests that the microbes in the gut might not be idle bystanders. Rather, they may be critical for helping patients respond to new drugs called “immune checkpoint inhibitors” that help immune cells recognize tumor cells and attack them."

+ More cancer:

      - The Case Against Screening For Thyroid Cancer


Robots & AI 🤖🧠⚡️

Here’s How the Russian Military Is Organizing to Develop AI

"The Russian Ministry of Defense is pursuing artificial intelligence with an urgency that has only grown since Vladimir Putin’s “rule the world” speech in September. But after several years of watching American and Chinese researchers accumulate breakthroughs and funding, while Russia continues to lack a relevant high-tech culture, Ministry leaders have decided that if they can’t outspend their global competitors, perhaps they can out-organize them.

So in March, the MOD — along with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, or MES; and the Russian Academy of Sciences — gathered domestic and international developers and users at a conference intended to take stock of the world’s AI prowess, and develop plans to focus Russia’s academic, scientific, and commercial communities to compete."

+ More AI, robots, and war

      - What's the newest on AI cyberattacks?


The Highlight Reel

#102: We The Best Music (Another One)

July 27th, 2018

103 days to go

Good afternoon!

Toasty enough for you?

Great/not great news: you are not alone. 

This is the face of climate change, but the battle has just begun (finally). This is the best news yet -- these are the young faces fighting against it.

Want to help them? Share this newsletter with everyone you know. Not only will you help save the world, we'll send you some very cool free shit


This week's question was: What Happens When the Atlantic Ocean Invades the Arctic Ocean?

If that sounds insane to you, you're in good company.

Short answer: not good things.

Long answer: that's why we made the podcast. Tune in!

Our guest was Julia Roberson of the Ocean Conservancy, who overcame truly tremendous technical difficulties (j/k) to get on the line.

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode where we ask: Why the Hell Is Space Exploration Important When the Planet is Literally On Fire?

Our guest: The Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli. More to come!



On to the news!

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

Next-Gen Nuclear Is Coming — If Society Wants It

"At a conference in 2011, Simon Irish met an engineer with an innovative design for a nuclear reactor cooled by molten salt. If it worked, Irish figured, it could not only solve the problems with aging nuclear power, but also provide a realistic path to dropping fossil fuels.

“The question was, ‘Can we do better than the conventional reactors that were commercialized 60 years ago?” Irish recalled. “And the answer was, ‘Absolutely.’”

+ More clean energy:

      - California Wants to Reinvent the Power Grid. So What Could Go Wrong?


Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Pakistan is ground zero for global warming consequences

"Pakistan contributes less than 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases blamed for causing global warming, yet its 200 million people are among the world's most vulnerable victims of the growing consequences of climate change.

The nation is facing ever-rising temperatures, drought and flooding that threaten health, agriculture, water supplies and hopes for development of a society that ranks in the bottom quarter of nations, based on income per person.

Pakistan is among 10 countries affected most by climate change, according to the 2018 Global Climate Risk Index released by the public policy group Germanwatch."

+ More Climate:

      - Trump to Seek Repeal of California’s Smog-Fighting Power, remains huge piece of shit

      - America’s Pledge: Bottom-up climate solutions to America’s low-carbon future for every city and state

      - The lawsuits against fossil fuel companies are failing. Here's what's next

      - Climate Change May Cause 26,000 More U.S. Suicides by 2050


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Scientists explore a new kind of immunotherapy to treat autoimmune diseases

"In CAR-T therapies, T cells are extracted from a patient’s blood, reprogrammed to attack cancer cells, and then re-infused into the bloodstream to carry out their new assignment.

Scientists – including those at Caladrius Biosciences and TxCell – are now engineering a subgroup of these immune cells, called T regulatory cells, or Tregs, in hopes of tamping down the wayward parts of the immune system responsible for autoimmune diseases and organ rejection."

+ More Bio:

      - Two sides of a coin: For Scientists Racing to Cure Alzheimer’s, the Math Is Getting Ugly and New Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Memory Loss in Early Trial Results

      - Filed under WTF: Some viruses weaken their hosts’ immune systems by sacrificing themselves in kamikaze fashion, paving the way for successful infections later, defeating CRISPR


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

A Large Body of Water on Mars Is Detected, Raising the Potential for Alien Life

"Italian scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission announced on Wednesday that a 12-mile-wide underground liquid pool — not just the momentary damp spots seen in the past — had been detected by radar measurements near the Martian south pole.

“Water is there,” Enrico Flamini, the former chief scientist of the Italian Space Agency who oversaw the research, said during a news conference.

“It is liquid, and it’s salty, and it’s in contact with rocks,” he added. “There are all the ingredients for thinking that life can be there, or can be maintained there if life once existed on Mars.”"

+ More space:

      - SpaceX Preps for Three Block 5 Launches in Just Two Weeks

      - NASA, SETI seek to harness AI tools

      - Life on Europa Could Be Just Beyond Our Reach


Food 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾

“If you look at food waste globally, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China”

"Each year, the average family of four in America throws $1,800 in the garbage.

Not in cash. In moldy vegetables. In uneaten hamburgers. In leftovers from the local pub.

A scourge besets the United States: the rampant waste of food. 

In this country, we throw out more than 1,250 calories a day per person — or more than 400 pounds of food for each person every year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council."

+ More food:

      - The public doesn’t trust GMOs. Will it trust CRISPR?


Robots & AI 🤖🧠⚡️

AI beats human doctors in neuroimaging recognition contest

"An artificial intelligence (AI) system scored 2:0 against elite human physicians Saturday in two rounds of competitions in diagnosing brain tumors and predicting hematoma expansion in Beijing.

The BioMind AI system, developed by the Artificial Intelligence Research Centre for Neurological Disorders at the Beijing Tiantan Hospital and a research team from the Capital Medical University, made correct diagnoses in 87 percent of 225 cases in about 15 minutes, while a team of 15 senior doctors only achieved 66-percent accuracy."


The Highlight Reel

#101: We all have our little faults. Mine's in California.

July 20th, 2018

110 days to go

Greetings from the Outer Banks in North Carolina, home to the Graveyard of the Atlantic, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the site of the Wright Brothers' first flight, 200 miles of  beautiful beaches, my childhood (and now adult) vacation spot. 

Will these great barrier islands still be here in 50 years? It's unclear, but the actions we take today could make a difference. 

I've spent much of the past couple years fighting for climate change action -- and not just because of places like this, or our amazing national parks (now featuring shitty air quality like our fabulous/unbreathable big cities). But also for the minority communities punished worse than all the rest, for our youth, for my and your children. They deserve better. 

Let's show them we give a shit.


This week's question was: He's Given 200 Climate Speeches to Congress. What's Next?

Our guest was esteemed Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of the great state of Rhode Island. We talked real talk, suing fossil fuel companies, our amazing and infinitely more capable wives, and calling out bullshit. Check it out!

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode where we ask: What Happens When the Atlantic Ocean Invades the Arctic Ocean?

Our guest: Julia Roberson of the Ocean Conservancy. More to come!



On to the news!

Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

Mini-grids may be the best way to illuminate the “bottom billion”

"Many utilities are short of cash, if not bankrupt. The cost of taking power to those least able to afford it adds to their debts. China and Thailand took 20 years to improve electrification rates from about 30-40% to 85-90%. Reaching the remaining sliver took a further 20 years; China managed it only in 2015. And universal electrification, a slogan beloved of politicians, is frequently less than it seems. In April India celebrated the electrification of its last village, yet about 240m people remain without power and connections are often unreliable.

Enter mini-grids, which can operate independently of national grids, and are a way for private companies to offer services more quickly and reliably than frequently state-owned incumbents. Mini-grids are banks of batteries often charged by solar arrays. Unlike “rooftop” solar systems, which are increasingly common in parts of Africa but provide little juice, mini-grids provide round-the-clock electricity capable of powering machinery, irrigation systems and freezers, as well as lighting. Although they are expensive, mini-grids are likely to become cheaper as they grow more common. In the interim, providers are using specialists in rural development and microfinance to teach people how to set up businesses that benefit from a lot of power. They find that if people learn how to make money from electricity, they willingly pay for it."


A daughter of Detroit defies odds, takes car industry into the future

"Denise Gray arrived at Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurant in Livonia, along with nearly three dozen clients and employees, for her business dinner. A well-dressed man she didn't know took her aside and expressed concern about the evening's corporate host, a Korean battery company that recently made leadership changes. 

Minutes later, she noticed a horrified look on the customer's face when she introduced herself as the company's president. The man realized Gray was the leadership of LG Chem's Michigan Inc. tech center.

"It's just being a female in a male-dominated industry," Gray said. "People expect the CEO to be male or Korean or I don't know. Just not me."

The little girl raised at Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church on the corner of McDougall and Charlevoix in Detroit, grew up to be one of the world’s most respected electrical engineers who is helping guide the auto industry into the future."

+ More clean energy:

      - State ratepayers will pick up tab for $2.1B offshore wind plan, but not the energy

      - This could be the first emissions-reductions project (inadvertently) supported by Trump



Fuck Cancer, Volume CI 🖕

Cancer cells engineered with CRISPR slay their own kin

"Cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream have something of a homing instinct, able to find and return to the tumor where they originated. To capitalize on that ability, researchers engineered these roving tumor cells to secrete a protein that triggers a death switch in resident tumor cells they encounter. The cancer-fighting cancer cells also have a built-in suicide switch — so the weaponized cells self-destruct before they can start tumors of their own, the team reports in the July 11 Science Translational Medicine."


Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Brett Kavanaugh: ‘The Earth Is Warming’ (and why this might not be a good thing)

"“The earth is warming. Humans are contributing,” (Judge Brett Kavanaugh, recent nominee to the Supreme Court) told a federal courtroom two years ago, during a hearing about a major Barack Obama climate policy. “There is a moral imperative. There is a huge policy imperative. The pope’s involved.”

He’s even inscribed this view in his judicial opinions. “The task of dealing with global warming is urgent and important at the national and international level,” he wrote in 2013.

Yet this is not necessarily good news for liberals. Kavanaugh has sometimes sympathized with the need for environmental protection. But because he considers global warming to be charged with a “huge policy imperative,” he’s skeptical that the Environment Protection Agency (or the executive branch) should be fighting it alone. And as a future justice, he’s likely to block the agency from doing so."

+ More climate:

      - Nobel-Winning Economist to Testify in Children’s Climate Lawsuit

      - Giant sea gate proposed by feds for New Jersey and New York is slammed by environmentalists

      - Here's what climate change looks like now. The future: Scientists from 17 countries say sea-level rise could be "unstoppable for millennia" -- happy Friday!


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Urgent care clinics are prescribing too many unnecessary antibiotics, study says

"Nearly half of patients who go to urgent care clinics seeking treatment for a flu, cold or other conditions that do not require antibiotics received a prescription for one anyway. That is three times as often as antibiotics are prescribed to patients with the same illnesses in traditional doctors’ offices, according to a study published Monday.

Patients who get unnecessary antibiotics are at risk for severe side effects, even with just one dose of the medicine, doctors say. Inappropriate use of these lifesaving drugs also puts everyone else at risk because overuse accelerates the emergence of resistant bacteria, or “superbugs,” that cannot be stopped with drugs."

+ More Bio:

      - Pushback against immunization laws leaves some California schools vulnerable to outbreaks

      - Potential DNA Damage from CRISPR “Seriously Underestimated,” Study Finds

      - New Effort for Lyme Disease Vaccine Draws Early Fire

      - The Strange and Curious Case of the Deadly Superbug Yeast


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

Turning water into oxygen in zero gravity could mean easier trips to Mars

"One of the main challenges with long-distance space flight is transporting enough oxygen for astronauts to breathe and enough fuel to power complex electronics. Sadly, there’s only little oxygen available in space and the great distances make it hard to do quick refills.

But now a new study, published in Nature Communications, shows that it is possible to produce hydrogen (for fuel) and oxygen (for life) from water alone using a semiconductor material and sunlight (or star light) in zero gravity—making sustained space travel a real possibility."


Food 🍌🥑🥕🔬💊👩‍🌾

Your produce is less healthy than it was 70 years ago. These farmers might change that

"70 years ago, (broccoli) contained twice the calcium on average and more than five times the amount of Vitamin A. The same could be said for a lot of our fruits and vegetables.   

Why? How?  

The answers lie in the soil and how Americans farm it."

+ More food: 

      - Crispr Can Speed Up Nature—and Change How We Grow Food


The Highlight Reel

#100: How did you get in the building? Jumped off a super crane.

Holy shit -- it's Issue #100!

A #HonestTweet here, folks: I can't express deep enough thanks for those of you that have been with us since the beginning.

For those who are just joining us -- welcome to the Thunderdome!

What are we about here? We're laser-focused on the existential-ish news you (understandably) missed because you get a goddamn NY Times alert every 12 seconds as the US crashes out of yet another post-WWII global institution. 

These are the biggest stories of our time, or they should be.

We curate and deliver, often with a healthy dose of sass, the very good and very bad items affecting humans and the planet now, or, at most, in the next 20 years. This shit is going down.

What do we stand for? We don't debate science. But we do believe in finding common ground. We need everyone on board, like yesterday. We believe in questions, and action

What are we up against? No doubt, it's dark out there. We're in a race against time, a battle against moronic and dangerous short-sightedness, and depending on the day, it's not going so hot. But we've got our wands in the air and we're fighting like hell.  

There's amazing news out there that will transform our species. And there's the baaaad stuff, too. We bring you only what's most vital, and all we ask is you go out and spread the fucking gospel. There's so many more like you out there, people who give a shit

So thanks for joining. It's time to march, to vote, to fight. For the future. For your kids. For mine. 



This week's question was: Middle School Physics: Lame, or the First Step To Becoming A Superhero?

Our guest was the amazing Dianna Cowern -- otherwise known as The Physics Girl. We talked girls in STEM, ladies in STEM, the importance of humanities and asking questions, and fucking mirrors, man. Tune in!

Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode where we ask: Why Drives A Man To Give A Climate Speech Every Week on the Floor of Congress? 

Our guest: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. We Stirred. Shit. Up. 




On to the news!

Fuck Cancer, Volume C 🖕

Top oncologist to study effect of diet on cancer drugs

"The work, led by Siddhartha Mukherjee at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, will investigate whether a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet could improve outcomes for patients with lymphoma and endometrial cancer

The trial, which is initially recruiting 40 patients, is the first in a series of similar interventions being planned at other centres in the US and Europe by members of a new international working group focused on “rethinking human diets for cancer”, said Mukherjee, who is best known for writing the Pulitzer prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer."

+ More on cancer:

      - Biopharma has a new big idea for making cancer immunotherapy work better
      - Electric shock can deliver genes edited to fight cancer


Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

It was 90°F in Siberia this week. That's 40 goddamn degrees above normal.

"Climate change has sent temps skyrocketing in the far north of the planet over just the past 20 years. While that’s been quite reflected in the rapid rise in wintertime temperatures, it’s increasingly being reflected in summertime temperatures as more and more sea ice disappears earlier in the season,leaving more dark blue ocean to absorb more daytime sunlight.

...2018 has unfortunately been a prime example of global warming’s effect on the jet stream. And northern Siberia has been getting blowtorched by heat that refuses to quit because of an ongoing blocked pattern favorable for intense heat."

+ "Blowtorched". Great!

+ More climate:

      - Analysis: ‘Global’ warming varies greatly depending where you live -- this city in Oman had the hottest night on earth, which, no thanks

      - An Iceberg the Size of Lower Manhattan Just Broke off Greenland, J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS!

      - Air pollution strongly linked to diabetes, because why the hell not



California beats its 2020 goals for cutting greenhouse gases -- but it's not that simple.

"Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials said the results proved the state’s portfolio of anti-carbon laws and regulations is succeeding — and showed California can fight climate change while still enjoying a significant economic boom. They pledged to continue to fight efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to roll back strict emission rules imposed by the Obama administration.

Critics, however, said the California economy has paid a significant price — in the form of higher prices for gasoline, electricity and other goods — while achieving relatively little in terms of global environmental impact. Because California accounts for only 1 percent of global carbon emissions, “the notion that California is going to do anything unilateral that’s going to have an effect is statistically ludicrous,” said Jeremy Carl, an energy specialist at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Yet Colleen Kredell of Next 10, a Bay Area advocacy group that studies climate change and economics, said state leaders can use the results to inspire other countries to do more to fight global warming...

...Just how much California’s policies are succeeding is a matter of some debate. Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at UC Berkeley, said a key reason why carbon pollution has fallen is the Great Recession, which took a huge toll on economic activity in its early years."

+ Forgive the long excerpt -- but with California in the news quite a bit this week for climate-related reasons, I want to paint the fullest picture possible.

Here's more:

      - Why is heat illness growing in LA public schools?

      - Why California’s fire season is off to the worst start in 10 years

      - "Human fingerprint" on California's blistering heat wave


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

First attempt to get CRISPR gene editing working in sperm

"For the first time, biologists are trying to get the CRISPR gene-editing machinery directly into mature human sperm, rather than into fertilised embryos.The work is still at an early stage but could lead to a new way to prevent inherited diseases.

...Gene-editing could in theory be used to prevent fathers from passing on a wide range of genetic disorders."

+ More Bio 101:

      - This ‘smart’ antibiotic may target the most common bacterial infection contracted in US hospitals

      - Experiment wipes out over 80% of disease-carrying mosquitoes


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

New Analysis of Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Makes Us Hungry for Better Telescopes 

"Eleven light-years from Earth, orbiting a dim red star, there’s an exoplanet called Ross 128b that, as we recently reported, has some the best prospects for life of any known distant world. New results may help astronomers figure out what the planet is made of—and they offer more evidence that it might be inside its parent star’s habitable zone."


Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

Top Renewable Energy Financiers Reveal Pathway To $1 Trillion In U.S. Investment

"Spurred by wind and solar sector growth, investment in America’s renewable energy industry exceeded $40 billion in 2017 according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and is tracking close to the same amount in 2018, showing surprising resilience despite policy headwinds."


Robots & AI 🤖🧠⚡️

Google’s artificial intelligence ethics won't curb war by algorithm, Sergey needs that $

"While the US army and CIA are secretive about how they select targets – a process known as the kill chain – metadata plays a role. Big data analytics, business intelligence and artificial intelligence systems are then used to spot the correlations that supposedly identify the target. “We kill people based on metadata,” said the former head of the CIA Michael Hayden in 2014.

Armies and secret services don’t do this work alone: they rely heavily on the research programmes of commercial companies, which in turn are keen to secure government business to recoup some of their research and development investments."

+ More AI:

      - This is How Artificial Intelligence Could Prevent Natural Disasters


The Highlight Reel

#99: Asps... very dangerous. You go first.

July 6, 2018

124 days to go

GREAT NEWS! EPA head and my own personal mortal enemy/snake Scott Pruitt resigned yesterday after 196 ethics scandals -- this all on top of making it his professional business to do exactly the opposite of what the EPA was intended to do.

LESS GREAT NEWS! The new head of the EPA is an actual coal lobbyist. That's right. A coal lobbyist.

So let's be thankful for a minute for all the excellent reporting that exposed Pruitt's bullshit, and then move on to the new fight. Wheeler won't be an ethics nightmare, which means we've got to focus on the actual anti-environmental work being done.

In other news -- newsletter #99! Holy cow. Thanks to everyone who got this baby off the ground, and everyone else who's joined along the way. 

We've got some fun stuff coming in the next couple weeks, and can't wait to share it.


This week's question was: When Will San Francisco Be Underwater?

Our guest was peerless journalist Molly Peterson. We discussed what parts of San Francisco are threatened in the coming decades, what the city's doing to fight sea level rise, and how the Bay Area compares to other waterfront cities. Check it out!

Subscribe now to get Tuesday's episode where we ask: "Middle school physics class. Lame, or the first step to becoming a superhero?"

Our guest: The Physics Girl herself, Dianna Cowern!



On to the news!

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Global Warming in South Asia: 800 Million at Risk

"Climate change could sharply diminish living conditions for up to 800 million people in South Asia, a region that is already home to some of the world’s poorest and hungriest people, if nothing is done to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, the World Bank warned Thursday in an ominous new study.

In some cases, cities like Karachi, Pakistan, emerge as hot spots because higher temperatures are forecast to lower labor productivity and worsen public health. In others cases, like the central belt of India, hotter days and changes in rainfall patterns are expected to sharply increase stress on farmers."

+ Once the vanguard of the European welcoming committee, Germany's pressuring Merkel to close their borders to refugees. The migration "crisis" of 2015 will be a drop in the ocean compared to what's coming

+ More climate:

      - The Atlantic Ocean is invading the Arctic — and winning

      - Pope says "fuck it, I'll do it myself", huddles to confront oil execs

      - ‘The New Normal’: Wildfires Roar Across the West, Again

      - Hot Planet: Adapting to Climate Change Will Take More Than Just Seawalls and Levees

      - Problem: Building clean energy wind farms requires a fuckton of cement. Cement = one of worst climate catalysts. What gives?

      - This week in Trump killing the earth: reducing ozone regulationsweakening smog standards




Young Leftist Candidates Are Breathing New Life Into Climate Politics


"“We need a Marshall Plan for renewable energy in the United States,” (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said) last week, shortly before the election, suggesting that a massive $146 billion investment to rebuild Puerto Rico — per a proposal by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — could provide “an example for how we can approach the ravages of superstorms and climate change moving forward. … We can show the world what recovery in an era of extreme climate change looks like.”

Climate change hasn’t been a big part of the conversation about the blue wave. But if it’s successful, and the party finds itself with enough seats to push through ambitious legislation next January, what to date have been seen as minor differences between Democrats on climate could become the grounds for legislative battles. That is, if Ocasio-Cortez’s election marks a new era for the Democratic Party, what will that mean for its climate politics?"

+ More on Ocasio-Cortez's climate agenda here.



Fuck Cancer, Volume XCVIV 🖕

Blood test may predict cancer immunotherapy benefit

"Some cancers generate the seeds of their own destruction. Ten years ago, researchers discovered that certain random mutations that accumulate in rapidly dividing tumor cells can spur the immune system to attack the cancer. Lately, researchers have found that the extent of such mutations can predict whether a cancer will respond to new, powerful immune-based therapies. Cancer researchers can already gauge this tumor mutational burden (TMB) by sequencing a panel of select genes in biopsied tissue, an approach that recently demonstrated strong predictive power in a large lung cancer clinical trial. Some cancer physicians now even use tissue TMB tests in select cases. Now, a less-invasive blood test, which analyzes tumor DNA shed into a person's circulation, could reveal TMB in the many patients where tissue testing doesn't work."

+ This is big. Immunotherapy is incredible -- when it works. When it doesn't? It can kill. Screening candidates ahead of time (as we develop better treatments) will save lives, time, and money.



Biology 401 💉👾💊 

Measles case confirmed in Portland, about 500 people possibly exposed

"Of those 500 people, the Multnomah County Health Department Communicable Disease Services team is monitoring 40 people who were exposed and considered non-immune.

So far, no other cases have been identified.

Measles is an illness caused by a virus. It is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing and is highly contagious.

People with measles can spread the virus to others before they show symptoms. The virus can also linger in the air for minutes or hours after someone with measles leaves the area.

Measles is a serious disease that was basically eliminated in the United States thanks to routine childhood vaccination,’’ said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer. "

+ Remember measles? #MAGA

+ More on your body:

      - How Long Can We Live? The Limit Hasn’t Been Reached, Study Finds

      - How Will Trump Lead During the Next Global Pandemic? and 3 Reasons The US is Vulnerable During Big Disasters

      - Antibiotics before birth and in early life can affect long-term health

      - CRISPR vs. autism



The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

Why haven’t we found aliens yet? (a no shit important update)

"In early June, Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler, and Toby Ord of the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) released a paper that may solve the Fermi paradox — the discrepancy between our expected existence of alien signals and the universe’s apparent lack of them — once and for all. 

Using fresh statistical methods, the paper re-asks the question “Are we alone?” and draws some groundbreaking conclusions: We Earthlings are not only likely to be the sole intelligence in the Milky Way, but there is about a 50 percent chance we are alone in the entire observable universe. 

While the findings are helpful for thinking about the likelihood of aliens, they may be even more important for reframing our approach to the risk of extinction that life on Earth may face in the near future."

+ Here's the original paper.

+ This should be a damn fine wake-up call that the preservation of what may be our, well, singularly unique species, should be paramount. And that means both saving this rock, and finding a second one on which to summer/winter/live forever.



Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

Self Driving Cars Are Headed Towards An AI Roadblock

"On its face, full autonomy seems closer than ever. Waymo is already testing cars on limited-but-public roads in Arizona. Tesla and a host of other imitators already sell a limited form of Autopilot, counting on drivers to intervene if anything unexpected happens. There have been a few crashes, some deadly, but as long as the systems keep improving, the logic goes, we can’t be that far from not having to intervene at all.

But the dream of a fully autonomous car may be further than we realize. There’s growing concern among AI experts that it may be years, if not decades, before self-driving systems can reliably avoid accidents. As self-trained systems grapple with the chaos of the real world, experts like NYU’s Gary Marcus are bracing for a painful recalibration in expectations, a correction sometimes called “AI winter.” That delay could have disastrous consequences for companies banking on self-driving technology, putting full autonomy out of reach for an entire generation."

+ More clean energy:

      - The worst polluting airlines, ranked



The Highlight Reel

#98: Jump (For My Love)

Ho ho ho another fine FINE week, friends. As always, we recommend you close Twitter, take a deep breath, let it back out, do some meditations, get some rest, and then get the hell back to work fighting for the soul of our country/species/planet.

131 days to go. And we need every one of them.


This week's question was: Can We Predict the Next Big Earthquake? Josh Bashioum of Early Warning Labs joined us to give it to us straight. Note: despite my insistent claims, he is apparently, technically, not a "seer". I've still got doubts. Tune in!

Subscribe now to get Tuesday's episode where we ask: When Will San Francisco Be Underwater? Our guest: the totally baller journalist Molly Peterson. She's swell. 



On to the news!

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Judge Dismisses Suit Against Oil Companies Over Climate Change Costs

"A federal judge on Monday threw out a closely watched lawsuit brought by two California cities against fossil fuel companies over the costs of dealing with climate change. The decision is a stinging defeat for the plaintiffs, San Francisco and Oakland, and raises warning flags for other local governments around the United States that have filed similar suits, including New York City.

The judge, William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco, acknowledged the science of global warming and the great risks to the planet, as did the oil and gas companies being sued. But in his ruling, Judge Alsup said the courts were not the proper place to deal with such global issues, and he rejected the legal theory put forth by the cities.

“The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case,” Judge Alsup wrote in a 16-page opinion."


Methane leaks offset much of the climate change benefits of natural gas, study says


"The U.S. oil and gas industry emits 13 million metric tons of methane from its operations each year — nearly 60 percent more than current estimates and enough to offset much of the climate benefits of burning natural gas instead of coal, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

The higher volumes of natural gas leaking from across the industry’s supply chain would be enough to fuel 10 million homes and would be worth an estimated $2 billion, the researchers said."

+ More climate:

      - New Bloomberg Energy prediction: 50% of energy comes from wind and solar by 2050. Bonkers. Is it soon enough?

      - Sea level rise: Jersey Shore town flooding predictions; $10B at risk

      - Nevada would pay health and regulatory price for Trump’s lax pollution standards, experts say

      - Rising ground under West Antarctica could prevent ice sheet collapse

      - NASA chief wants to be 'above the fray' on climate change (fun nugget: we're well past the moment to be objective/nice/polite/above the fray)

      - Are these old ass Republicans serious about their new carbon tax coalition? I WANT TO BELIEVE

      - I have questions: Team provides first plan for commercially viable, industrial-scale carbon removal plant



Fuck Cancer, Volume XCVIII 🖕

We need more answers about immunotherapy for the elderly

"We know that immunotherapy is tolerated by older individuals. But how well they respond to it and the side effects it causes them may be different from those observed in most clinical studies for two reasons. One is that clinical trials tend to include younger participants. The other is because of an aging process known as immunosenescence. It causes the immune system to change and become less effective over time. Since immunotherapy involves harnessing the immune system to fight cancer, there are questions about how well it works in patients whose immune systems are changing.

Since the first immunotherapy for cancer, ipilimumab (Yervoy), was approved in 2011, this approach has begun to transform cancer care. Today, immunotherapy is used to treat a number of cancers, from glioblastoma to advanced melanomaand lung cancer. According to the Cancer Research Institute, six types of immunotherapy clinical trials are taking aim at leukemia. It may also have the potential to help patients with breast cancer.

But we don’t know as much as we should about immunotherapy for older individuals as they are poorly represented in clinical trials. In 2013, individuals between the ages of 65 and 69 years made up 17 percent of clinical trial participants, those between the ages of 75 and 79 years made up 8 percent, and those who were 80 years and older made up only 4 percent."


Biology 401 💉👾💊 

How prepared is YOUR country for the next epidemic?

"An initiative led by Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has developed a tool that spotlights gaps in preparedness, and actions that countries and organizations can take to close them. The new website, PreventEpidemics.org, gives an individual score to each country and uses color codes to rank the world by five levels of preparedness.

“What this does, it tells you where the gaps are and what needs to be done,” said Frieden, chief executive of Resolve to Save Lives, part of Vital Strategies, a New York-based public health nonprofit organization.

Infectious diseases can spread from one village to any country in the world in about 36 hours. On average, there are 100 outbreaks a day around the world. But the website shows that most countries have not yet taken the steps needed to prepare for this risk."


The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

"A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects—asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth—otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact (editor's note: suuuuuuure), the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks.
NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs. 
The 20-page document is titled “The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan,” and organizes and coordinates efforts related to the NEO efforts within the federal government during the next 10 years to ensure the nation can more effectively respond in case this type of very low-probability but very high-consequence natural disaster should occur."

+ Laugh it up, but this is way overdue. Look at this impact projection.

+ More space: 

       - The Discovery of Complex Organic Molecules on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Is a Huge Deal (read: SPACE DOLPHINS)



The Highlight Reel

#97: Nobody puts baby in the corner/in a cage

Good morning, friends.

Hell of a week, huh? I feel you. It really seems like the bigoted, evil asshats running our country (or declining to actually run it, or enforce checks and balances, etc) are hitting all the marks: climate, clean air, clean water, clean energy, oh, and now they're putting babies in cages. 

Exhausted? Feel like you're having to readjust your donations once a week to the cause of the moment, because they're attacking on every front?

Me too. Me, too.

But guess what?

The single focus that unites each of these issues is this: replacing the motherfuckers in charge.

Want America to start fighting climate change again? Want highways filled with electric car chargers? A carbon tax? Environmental justice? Fewer babies in FUCKING CAGES?

Donate to candidates in swing states, and then vote them the fuck out.

Money in politics is the root of all evil, but like steroids in sports, sometimes you gotta do the deed just to keep up. Just to be on the level.

So donateCall your reps. March. Knock on doors. Print signs. Get arrested. Fuel the revolution.

And then in 137 days, vote them the fuck out.


This week's question was: how does your phone call become law? Our guest was Andres Jimenez, Senior Director of Government Affairs at the Citizens Climate Lobby. Check it out to find out what happens after you leave a voicemail for that scary Congressperson you've never called before.

Subscribe now to get Tuesday's episode where we ask: could we actually predict the next big earthquake? Sure hope so!



On to the news!

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Will your city be underwater by 2045?

"More than 300,000 of today's coastal homes, with a collective market value of about $117.5 billion today, are at risk of chronic inundation in 2045—a timeframe that falls within the lifespan of a 30-year mortgage issued today.

Approximately 14,000 coastal commercial properties, currently assessed at a value of roughly $18.5 billion, are also at risk during that timeframe.

This analysis looks at what's at risk for US coastal real estate from sea level rise—and the challenges and choices we face now and in the decades to come. "

+ Remember last week's bombshell about 3x accelerated ice sheet melting? Yeah. This tool gets into the nitty-gritty of who's gonna get hit worst.

If you live in one of these communities, take this information to your next city council meeting and asking what the plan is. Email us back at news@importantnotimportant.com to let us know how it goes.

+ More on coastal flooding:

      - Florida's in deep shit/water

      - And so's Norfolk. More to come on this one.

      - Further analysis by The Guardian



Deadly Tensions Rise as India’s Water Supply Runs Dangerously Low


"Tourism is the mainstay of the economy in this mountain city, which the British colonial authorities made their summer capital so they could escape the brutal heat of New Delhi. But the drought — accompanied by unusually high temperatures, above 90 degrees Fahrenheit — has been so severethat in May, some residents took to Twitter to ask tourists to stay away and leave the water for local residents. Many in Shimla call it the worst shortage they can remember."

+ Related: New Delhi's Air Pollution Went Off the Scale This Week

+ More climate:

      - Climate Change May Spark Global ‘Fish Wars’

      - Survivors Of Category 5 Hurricane Irma Want A Category 6

      - Experts: ‘Alarming’ drought conditions hit US Southwest and In a Warming West, the Rio Grande Is Drying Up



Fuck Cancer, Volume XCVII 🖕

China just approved its first cancer immunotherapy drug. Here’s what’s next.

"As more checkpoint inhibitors come to market in China, they’re expected to command far lower prices there compared to other global markets. The Goldman analysts surveyed the medical community in China and concluded that the consensus expectation for “reasonable” pricing of domestic checkpoint inhibitors ranged between $15,000 and $20,000 a year for treatment costs. That compares to $157,000 in the U.S., $135,000 in Japan, and $122,000 in the European Union."


Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

India energy minister flags massive 100GW solar tender

"India’s energy minister R K Singh has flagged a massive solar tender of 100GW (yes, that’s 100,000MW) – by far the biggest in the world, as the fastest growing energy consumer turns increasingly to renewables to satisfy its enormous needs.

Singh did not give a direct timetable for the new tender, and given its size it would likely the a few years, but he did say that India will over achieve its renewable energy target of 175GW by 2022.

According to the Economic Times, Singh said India has already installed 70GW of renewable energy capacity and had about 12.5GW under construction."

+ As noted above -- this sort of radical (but economically-viable!) action is absolutely necessary in the world's largest democracy.

+ More clean energy: 

      - New Group, With Conservative Credentials, Plans Push for a Carbon Tax

      - A "West-wide" Grid is Needed to Control Climate Change



Biology 401 💉👾💊 

The Next Plague Is Coming. Is America Ready?

"Unlike airborne viruses such as influenza, Ebola spreads only through contact with infected bodily fluids. Even so, it is capable of incredible devastation, as West Africa learned in 2014, when, in the largest outbreak to date, more than 28,000 people were infected and upwards of 11,000 died. Despite the relative difficulty of transmission, Ebola still shut down health systems, crushed economies, and fomented fear. With each outbreak, it reveals the vulnerabilities in our infrastructure and our psyches that a more contagious pathogen might one day exploit.

These include forgetfulness."

+ Related: Superbugs Are Going to Eat Us Alive, from Foreign Policy



The Highlight Reel

#96: AJ, I got just five words for you

Look. Sometimes we get news that we can react quickly to. Call your Congressperson, etc. But sometimes there's serious gut-punch news that, to be honest, is taking a minute to deal with. Existential, "this is happening already" news.

This week that news is about sea-level rise and it's no bueno, folks. Not unexpected, but shocking in scope. I urge you to read it, and process it, and then hopefully double down your efforts to make serious change on November 6th. Because our current leadership has turned their back on science.

Our efforts are making a difference -- we've made tremendous progress in clean energy -- but we need so much more. 

Let's go.


This week's question was: what's the #1 thing you can do to affect climate change? Our guest was Peter Kalmus, climate scientist at JPL in Pasadena, California. We discuss his awesome book and also why Brian should get rid of his motorcycle. Tune in.

Subscribe now to get Tuesday's episode with Andres Jimenez at the Citizens Climate Lobby. Find out how your single phone call can become climate law. Exciting!



On to the news!

Climate Change 🔥🌊💨

Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade

"Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half-millimeter every year, a team of 80 scientists reported Wednesday.

The melt rate has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped.

The result also reinforces that nations have a short window — perhaps no more than a decade — to cut greenhouse-gas emissions if they hope to avert some of the worst consequences of climate change."

+ The US-centric kicker, below.



West Antarctic ice melt poses unique threat to U.S.

"Rob DeConto, a climate scientist at the University of Massachusetts, says that as ice sheets melt, there's an elastic response from the Earth. "The Earth’s gravitational field changes because we’re redistributing mass around the planet,” he tells Axios.

When an ice sheet loses ice, it reduces its gravitational pull toward itself, which means the local sea level near the ice sheet — be it Greenland or Antarctica —is reduced.

It's the distant places that compensate for this loss in mass. “It’s totally flipped upside down for Antarctica," he says, as there is a "broad bullseye" around North America. “Sea level rise for the future, it’s not happening at the same rate in every part of the world… this gravity thing has a big impact,” DeConto says."

+ The US will pay a 25% penalty on West Antarctic sea level rise.

+ Timely: Like It Or Not, the Water Is Coming: Will the Bay Area Defend Against Rising Seas, or Embrace Them?

+ Too heavy? I get it. Consider talking to a professional about it

+ More climate:

      - Bill Gates and his billionaire friends are betting on energy storage

      - Controversial: Climate Change Can Be Stopped by Turning Air Into Gasoline

      - Researchers Argue Proposed EPA Changes Could Cause 80,000 More Deaths a Decade




Fuck Cancer, Volume XCVI 🖕

A serious new hurdle for CRISPR: Edited cells might cause cancer, two studies find

"Editing cells’ genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 might increase the risk that the altered cells, intended to treat disease, will trigger cancer, two studies published on Monday warn — a potential game-changer for the companies developing CRISPR-based therapies.

In the studies, published in Nature Medicine, scientists found that cells whose genomes are successfully edited by CRISPR-Cas9 have the potential to seed tumors inside a patient. That could make some CRISPR’d cells ticking time bombs, according to researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and, separately, Novartis."

+ Science is hard.




War 🚀🌎🔥

This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like

"If nuclear war is considered “unthinkable,” that is in no small part because of our refusal to think about it with any clarity or specificity. In the long run, the best deterrent to nuclear war may be to understand what a single nuclear bomb is capable of doing to, say, a city like New York — and to accept that the reality would be even worse than our fears."


+ More: The Nine Steps Required to Really Disarm North Korea



Clean Energy 💨☀️⚡️

Premature Birth Rates Drop in California After Coal and Oil Plants Shut Down

"Researchers scrutinized records of more than 57,000 births by mothers who lived close to eight coal- and oil-fired plants across California in the year before the facilities were shut down, and in the year after, when the air was cleaner.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that the rate of premature births dropped from 7 to 5.1 percent after the plants were shuttered, between 2001 and 2011. The most significant declines came among African American and Asian women."

+ Related (no shit): Being Black in America Can Be Hazardous to Your Healt

+ More clean energy: 

      - New Jersey plans $3 billion in energy efficiency projects and 50,000 vehicle charging stations

      - Buying Into the Electric Vehicle Future? Maybe Try Leasing It

      - Wireless charging: the key to unlocking an electric vehicle revolution



The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀

An EPIC view of the Earth as an exoplanet

"Observing the Earth as an exoplanet is not a new idea – but DSCOVR has an advantage over many other Earth-observing missions in that the data span a long period of time. The authors analyse over two years’ worth of data from EPIC. By looking at how these images change with time, on periods from hours to years, they work out the kind of imaging we would need of distant exoplanets in order to deduce their rotation periods, seasonal changes, weather, and surface type."

+ Awesome sauce. Because our neighboring Alpha Centauri stars look friendly to life.



The Highlight Reel