#32: He's An Angry Elf

As we careen our way towards Jan 1, and for that matter, Jan 20, it's important we focus on two things:

1. 2016 was, for the most part, dog shit. #RIP everyone. 
2. 2017 could be even crazier. But not in the fun way.
3. It's incredibly vital that you do everything you can to find the truth. Facts. We just want to help you sort through the noise. And then it's up to you to do what you will with it. 

My requests: get out there and do some good before you get completely crunk on egg-nog, and then forward on this email to five people who need it, or would love it. We're growing, and it's great, but let's spread the word. It's on you. 

On to the news!

1. Emerging nations say "Fuck it, we'll do it ourselves", take lead on renewable energy - Vox

"In 2015, for the first time, countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) invested more in renewable energy and added more renewable capacity than the 15 OECD countries combined. 

This is only a bit of symbolism — the lines have been converging for a while — but it is important symbolism."

+ MY NOTES: Here's the link to the original report with some fun visualization tools because NERDS

2. The arguments for funding basic science. PREACH. - Wall Street Journal

"...Federal investment in basic research—the foundational stage of research, on which all the rest depends—is in decline. At its height in the 1970s, government funding for basic research represented more than 2% of U.S. gross domestic product. Known as “R&D intensity,” this ratio measures society’s commitment to science, and by 2014 it had dropped to just 0.78% of GDP. 

The decline is especially pronounced in the physical sciences, like chemistry and physics—the sources for deep insights that stimulate breakthroughs in every scientific domain. This erosion of support should concern us all, because science is our most rigorous, reliable path to understanding the material world."

+ MY NOTES: It's about the "R" in R&D. Basic, fundamental science that lets us unlock everything from battery storage to dark matter.

3. Four steps to precision public health - Nature

"The use of data to guide interventions that benefit populations more efficiently is a strategy we call precision public health. It requires robust primary surveillance data, rapid application of sophisticated analytics to track the geographical distribution of disease, and the capacity to act on such information.

The availability and use of precise data is becoming the norm in wealthy countries. But large swathes of the developing world are not reaping its advantages. In Guinea, it took months to assemble enough data to clearly identify the start of the largest Ebola outbreak in history. This should take days. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of childhood mortality in the world; it is also where we know the least about causes of death."

+ MY NOTES: Increase health surveillance, increase data, increase early-detection, increase vaccines and cures.

4. Voluntary, but it's something. - New York Times

"A coalition of the world’s most powerful bankers, regulators and even executives at some heavy polluters have a message for oil and gas companies: Be more forthcoming about the risks posed by climate change.

In particular, the group calls for all companies to undergo what are essentially stress tests to see how their businesses would fare under the 2-degrees Celsius warming situation laid out under the Paris climate accord. Companies should disclose their findings in their financial statements, the guidelines say, treating any foreseeable dangers as material risks to their business just like risks posed by market or currency swings."

+ MY NOTES: About zero chance oil and gas (or, obviously, coal) companies are down with this, but the more pressure, the better.

5. NASA plotting our trip to the stars. Can't come soon enough. - NASA

"For the moment, sending humans to other stars remains firmly in the realm of science fiction—as in the new film, “Passengers,” when hibernating travelers awaken in midflight. But while NASA so far has proposed no new missions beyond our solar system, scientists and engineers are sketching out possible technologies that might one day help to get us there.

NASA’s Journey to Mars, a plan aimed at building on robotic missions to send humans to the red planet, could be helping lay the groundwork.

“Propulsion, power, life support, manufacturing, communication, navigation, robotics: the Journey to Mars is going to force us to make advances in every one of these areas,” said Jeffrey Sheehy, NASA’s Space Technology Missions Directorate chief engineer in Washington, D.C. “Those systems are not going to be advanced enough to do an interstellar mission. But Mars is stepping us that much farther into space. It’s a step along the way to the stars.”"

+ MY NOTES: We're never gonna give up on terra firma, but a backup plan or colony ship would suuuuure be handy.

6. Solar is nearly the cheapest electricity in the world. Nearly. - Vox/Bloomberg

"In a year-end note, BNEF chair Michael Liebreich says, “the latest projections from our solar and wind analysis teams are that there will be almost 70 gigawatts of photovoltaics added globally in 2016, up from 56 gigawatts in 2015, and that wind installations will total 59 gigawatts, down from 62 gigawatts last year.”

Together, wind and utility-scale solar are now the cheapest available energy sources in the places that are building the most of them. Liebreich says bluntly, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies.”"

+ MY NOTES: I, for one, welcome our new sun gods.