#68: I'm pleased to meet you, Ava.

I get it. Reading these newsletters to your kids might lead to some fairly damaging nightmares. But that doesn't mean kids shouldn't know what's up. There's so much good stuff happening, but we're also in a hell of a #raceagainsttime. And much of the burden is going to be on their shoulders.

So where to start? Thanks for asking, friends. Start with this excellent new carbon-neutral kids' book from prominent climate scientist Michael E. Mann and longtime storyteller Megan Herbert. Back it on Kickstarter and help fuel the revolution.

On to the news!


Hellooooo, Michael Bloomberg

"The Sierra Club and other environmental groups are expanding a campaign to retire U.S. coal power plants with a $64 million contribution from former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, as the the environmental group aims to blunt efforts by the Trump administration to rescue coal.
The announcement Wednesday came a day after the Trump administration began a formal effort to repeal Obama-era curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Compared to other sources of electricity, including natural gas, wind, solar and nuclear power, coal generates more carbon dioxide for each unit of electricity generated.

"The war on coal has never been led by Washington. It has been led by market forces that are providing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy,” along with local activists, Bloomberg told reporters at the Sierra Club’s Washington office. "The war on coal is saving tens of thousands of lives, and we won’t stop fighting until we save every last one."



Do I have to say it? Let's move on.



Things that aren't true, or used to be true and aren't anymore, or have been advertised as true, but...you get the point.

There's no such thing as clean coal - Popular Science

Click here for five climate truths Donald Trump doesn't understand - New York Times

The world once laughed at North Korean cyber power. Not anymore. - New York Times

People are scared of GMO's in their food. People aren't scared of editing their own genes, though. And that could save some serious lives . - Wall Street Journal

Shell is a gas company. - engadget

Power grids are easy to hack. Power grids are not easy to hack. What the hell is going on? - WIRED

The bird flu is old news. SO VERY FALSE. An excellent multi-part series from the always excellent How We Get to Next. 

And finally...

Computers don't need us to teach them anymore and byeeeee - The Verge

+ Yeah. Source article in Nature here, with the headline "Mastering the game of Go without human knowledge". Anyways. Enjoy the next quote:

"AlphaGo Zero developed its Go skills by competing against itself. It started with random moves on the board, but every time it won, Zero updated its own system, and played itself again. And again. Millions of times over.

After three days of self-play, Zero was strong enough to defeat the version of itself that beat 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol, winning handily — 100 games to nil. After 40 days, it had a 90 percent win rate against the most advanced version of the original AlphaGo software. DeepMind says this makes it arguably the strongest Go player in history. 

“By not using human data — by not using human expertise in any fashion — we’ve actually removed the constraints of human knowledge,” said AlphaGo Zero’s lead programmer, David Silver, at a press conference. “It’s therefore able to create knowledge itself from first principles; from a blank slate [...] This enables it to be much more powerful than previous versions.”


The California wildfires have been a nightmarish disaster. Without taking away from those folks' suffering, are you aware that 5% of Portugal has been torched this year? Yeah. 5%. Of the entire country.

Back to California, because you may have caught yourself wondering: is this shit an aberration? Or the new status quo? Who do I have to vote out of office to stop these fiery hell?

Straight from Scientific American: Here's What We Know about Wildfires and Climate Change.

Why the 2017 fire season is shaping up to be one of California’s worst - LA Times

California Winds Are Fueling Fires. It May Be Getting Worse. - New York Times

I think this headline speaks for itself: Incarcerated Women Are Fighting on the Front Lines of California's Wildfires for $1 an Hour

Will Northern California Soon Have Southern California's Climate? - The Atlantic

"In their entirety, the fires—from their speed to their wind-driven nature—suggest a much more southwest-like climate than the region today. Is this the future? Will climate change turn Northern California into Southern California?

“The comparison is not a bad one,” said Alex Hall, a professor of atmospheric science and the director of the Center for Climate Science at the University of California, Los Angeles.
It might be literally true for temperature. If greenhouse-gas emissions continue on roughly their current trajectory, then Northern California’s temperatures will warm by between 6 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

“That’s approximately the current temperature difference between Southern and Northern California on the coast,” says Hall. “The warming you would expect by the end of the century would be equivalent to a shift in latitude.”

He added that it’s not clear whether wind-driven fires will increase in Northern California in a warmed world. In Southern California, researchers predict that the amount of area burned by wildfires will double through the end of the century, as the Santa Ana winds become even drier."


The World's First Floating Wind Farm Just Started Producing Electricity - Earther

"A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesfound that wind farms in the open waters of the North Atlantic could generate up four times more electricity than their land-based counterparts. Turning the region into a giant wind farm sacrifice zone could theoretically generate enough electricity to power the entire world.

“We show that there is really something special about some ocean areas like the North Atlantic where substantially higher rates of extracted power may be sustained from a purely geophysical perspective,” Anna Possner, a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science who led the study, told Earther."

A Giant Cave on the Moon Could Host Lunar Settlers - Discover

Immunotherapy Treatments for Cancer Gain Momentum - Wall Street Journal

The Future of Space Is Coming, "Soonish" - Scientific American

+ Clicked, ordered, couldn't love it anymore than we do.

The pitch for a health DARPA - Axios

"The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is known for creative, high-tech research projects that often sound like science fiction. Now, a philanthropic heavyweight and a former DARPA program director together are pushing for the federal government's health department to have its own version.

DARPA gave us the internet, and both say it is worth seeing what the same model could do for much-needed advances in detecting and treating cancers and other diseases."


Yellowstone Supervolcano May Rumble to Life Faster Than Thought - National Geographic

Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers - The Guardian

Inside Mount Saint Helens, Scientists Find Clues to Eruption Prediction - Scientific American

World Hunger Is Increasing, Thanks to Wars and Climate Change - Scientific American

Could the World Be in For a Rapid Burst of Sea Level Rise? - Gizmodo

"Indeed, while global climate models treat sea level rise as gradual, the geologic past paints a different picture. Between 14,600 and 13,800 years ago, for instance, sea levels rose at least ten meters, an event aptly-termed meltwater pulse 1A. In a later, more controversial meltwater pulse event, some scientists think sea levels rose more than 20 meters in just 500 years. But as important as these events are, they don’t tell us much about how sea level rise plays out over the shorter time intervals—decades to a single century—that matter to us mortals."

The Fate of Humanity -- through other animals' eyes. - The New Yorker


Is positive thinking the way to save the planet? - New Scientist

"Forests are growing back, renewable energy is beating coal, the ozone layer is recovering and although the fate of polar bears is still iffy, at least the giant panda is no longer on the brink of extinction. Sure, there’s plenty to be concerned about, but for the first time in a long time, say the optimists, there are reasons to be hopeful about the fate of the planet.

The question is whether they have just forgotten to take off their rose-tinted spectacles. And even if they are right and the tide is turning, are positive messages really the best way to galvanise further action?

The movement wants to shift the narrative on the environment to “celebrate a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope”. Conservation biologists such as Balmford, who works on conflicts between biodiversity and farms at the University of Cambridge, were the first to get on board. But since the Paris climate agreement was struck in 2015, optimism appears to be taking hold among even the grumpiest of environmental researchers – climate scientists. “With radical collaboration and relentless optimism, we will make the 2020 turning point a reality,” proclaims Mission 2020, a project set up by the head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that seeks to radically curb emissions in the next three years."


How to Build a Self-Conscious Machine - WIRED

How to Make a Consciousness Meter - Scientific American