#62: It requires something with a little more kick. Plutonium.

Crazy people do crazy things that sometimes change the world. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Either way, we should be listening. Let's go.

On to the news!


BECAUSE SCIENCE SAID SO 🤓🖕

What's weird is when science decreed "On this Monday at this VERY SPECIFIC TIME, the moon is going to block out the sun and Earth shall be cast into darkness", everybody fucking listened and got our their special glasses and oooh and awed.

When science said "Guys. GUYS. Listen: I'm pretty sure these mushrooms can make it so we can stop cutting people's legs off when they get infected", we all got on the mushroom train and then, what do you know, antibiotics.

When a crackpot scientist named Newton who was SUPER into magic said there was an invisible force pulling the planets around in a big circle, a theory we still haven't actually figured out, we pushed back at a bit at first because, again, the magic thing, but eventually we were all like "Sure, yes, fine, clearly there's something going on, so ok we'll sign onto the invisible voodoo force we can't prove or see that effects everything from the formation of the universe to why I can't dunk a basketball."

But when science says "It's getting way too hot way too fast, we're almost out of drinking water, the storms are getting more frequent and more violent, seriously guys we measure this shit all the time with a boatload of satellites and other stuff, here are all the very specific things we can do to stop it from getting much hotter before the place is unlivable, please do them ASAP", then nooooooooo. 

And so now we have situations like Hurricane Harvey, which is definitely going to kill a whole lot of unprepared people, right here in this country, because, well, read:

"A 2016 investigative series by The Texas Tribune, ProPublica and Reveal detailed why a high storm surge and heavy rain may be particularly devastating along Texas’s Gulf Coast. In recent years, intense, rare flooding has frequently hit areas outside of officially designated floodplains. The people who live in those areas aren’t required to have flood insurance, which can leave them in dire financial circumstances after the rains come. Even those who are covered buy their flood insurance from a federal program that’s deeply in debt after decades of charging rates that don’t reflect the true risk of flooding. Scientists believe that climate change, which is causing more frequent and more intense storms, has led to a growing risk of catastrophic flooding in the area, a risk further intensified by an increase in urban development, which has paved over prairie lands that were previously able to absorb some of the water."



Similarly, Alaska/Canada's permafrost, which, surprise, isn't permanent anymore, is melting, and fast, and here's the deal. Either there's a ton of carbon under there, and we've been hot-boxing it and now the blanket's gonna get lifted and that's real bad, or there's a bunch of ancient bacteria and/or viruses trapped under there, and that's REAL bad, or both, and welp, bye bye.

Here's some pretty pictures, and an explanation. - NYTimes

"Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, it contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter — plants that took carbon dioxide from the atmosphere centuries ago, died and froze before they could decompose. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere.

Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming. Scientists have estimated that the process of permafrost thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to global warming over the next several centuries, independent of what society does to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other activities."


 

YOU'RE NOT HELPING 👎🏻

Not you. You guys are the best. Gold stars. I mean these guys:

Donald J. Trump: The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change - Washington Post

In the world's biggest understatement, the now ex-chair said “It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action".

Rick Perry: Federal Electricity Study Hints at Future Support for Coal - NYTimes

"The 187-page study, commissioned by Energy Secretary Rick Perry in April, recommends that federal regulators make changes to wholesale electricity markets that could potentially benefit existing coal and nuclear plants. Revenues for many of these facilities have slumped in recent years as electricity prices have declined, mostly because of cheap natural gas, the study said, but also as a result of low electricity demand growth and the rise of wind and solar power."

Mike Hunter: Scott Pruitt’s successor as Oklahoma AG opposes mega-wind project - ThinkProgress

"Hunter, after threatening a lawsuit against a California official over his stance on coal, is challenging PSO’s plans to purchase the $4.5 billion wind farm, known as the Wind Catcher project. It would be one of the largest — if not the largest — in the nation if it is successfully completed, as scheduled, in 2020.
Hunter’s office, which serves as the state’s official consumer advocate, contends the electric power produced by the Wind Catcher project is not needed and believes the cost of the project will unfairly raise the monthly bills of electric customers in the state."
 



YOU'RE HELPING 👍🏽

Yes, you. But also these guys:

State Dept. science envoy resigns with letter that spells out 'Impeach' - The Hill

"Daniel Kammen announced his resignation in a letter addressed to Trump — in which the first letter of every paragraph spelled out "Impeach."

"My decision to resign is in response to your attacks on core values of the United States," Kammen said in the letter.

"Your failure to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis has domestic and international ramifications."
Kammen said it is particularly troubling to him that Trump's response to Charlottesville is "consistent with a broader pattern of behavior that enables sexism and racism, and disregards the welfare of Americans, the global community and the planet."

"Examples of this destructive pattern have consequences on my duties as Science Envoy," he said. 
"Your decision to abdicate the leadership opportunities and job creation benefits of the Paris Climate Accord, and to undermine energy and environmental research are not acceptable to me."


Portland’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy is already having a tangible impact - ThinkProgress

Plankton 'Mucus Houses' Could Pull Microplastics From The Sea - WIRED

How the U.S. Navy is Responding to Climate Change - Harvard Business Review

This Battery Breakthrough Could Change Everything, or "The Jesus Battery" - WIRED

"You should say it’s too good to be true. But every once in a while, you do invent a new material that, like semiconductors, is amazing in what it can do. Here you have an industry that’s been totally bottlenecked, right? The reason we looked for this is because this technology was blocked for a single reason. You can look at [many of the advances over the years] and say, “Well, how can you do all these amazing things? That doesn’t seem to make any sense.” But these amazing things were always possible. We just happened to unblock them."

Why The U.S. Solar Industry Doesn't Want Government Protection - WIRED

And oh hey what do you know:

Almost every country in the world can power themselves with renewable energy- Popular Science

"According to a study published this week in the journal Joule, the world is poised to give up fossil fuels altogether.

The research lays out renewable energy roadmaps—the mix of resources a given country would need to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy—for 139 countries collectively responsible for more than 99 percent of the global carbon emissions. According to the resulting analysis, the planet is pretty much ready to go 100 percent renewable by 2050."



FROM: THE DEPARTMENT OF THINKING AHEAD
TO: EVERYBODY
RE: PAY ATTENTION 🚨



CRISPR Fans Dream of a Populist Future for Gene Editing - WIRED

"CrisprCon is where people come not to ask how to do those things, but rather, should we? And also, who’s the we here?

On Wednesday and Thursday, the University of California, Berkeley welcomed about 300 people—scientists, CEOs, farmers, regulators, conservationists, and interested citizens—to its campus to take a hard look at the wünderenzyme known as Cas9. They discussed their greatest hopes and fears for the technology. There were no posters, no p-values; just a lot of real talk. You can bet it was the first Crispr conference to sandwich a Cargill executive between a septagenarian organic farmer and an environmental justice warrior. But the clashing views were a feature, not a bug. "When you feel yourself tightening up, that's when you're about to leEarly cancer detection study: A Johns Hopkins team announced Wednesday they have developed a blood test that spots tiny bits of DNA in the blood and, in the study, used them to accurately identified more than half of 138 people with relatively early stages of colorectal, breast, lung, and ovarian cancers.arn something," said moderator and Grist reporter, Nathanael Johnson."


The Girl Scouts just teamed up with SETI for STEM classes and space merit badges - Fast Company

"The new Reaching for the Stars program coincides with the creation of the Girl Scouts’ first-ever Space Science badges. The new badges will be available for girls at every Girl Scout grade level, from kindergarten to 12th grade (or Daisies to Seniors, in scout parlance). While the badges are still being focus grouped, by 2019, starry-eyed Girl Scouts will be able to earn badges in NASA’s space sciences: astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics."


New blood test can detect early stage of some cancers: study - Axios

"Early cancer detection study: A Johns Hopkins team announced Wednesday they have developed a blood test that spots tiny bits of DNA in the blood and, in the study, used them to accurately identified more than half of 138 people with relatively early stages of colorectal, breast, lung, and ovarian cancers."

+ There's lots to sort out still (like a ton of false positives), and early detection isn't everything if we're not actually extending survival rates, but new immunotherapy methods (also still early days) are riding right along the same track. #progress



IS THIS BAD? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 🤖

Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots - The Guardian

+ Are they getting ahead of themselves? Probably. Totally. But is that such a bad thing? Just saying because--

This robot can heal its own cuts like a human - Axios

and also

‘It knew what you were going to do next’: AI learns from pro gamers — then crushes them - Washington Post

and for good measure

How prepared are we for the impact of nuclear war? - BBC

Ok, I'll stop. I'm just putting it out there. It's way early, way way way early, and this walks the fine-line of fear mongering, which I'm not in the business of doing, but there's facts, and there's projections, and then there's making an educated guess and doing the little things to protect the Survival of the Species. Sleep tight!