July 20th, 2018
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."
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.
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
- (Kind of an amazingly understated headline copied directly from the NYTimes) Women Making Science Videos on YouTube Face Hostile Comments
CSI Earth: Human 'fingerprints' detected in Earth's seasonal temperature changes
This Magnetic Wire Could One Day Pull Cancer Cells from Your Blood
How a single ghostly neutrino could change our understanding of the universe
Raising My Child in a Doomed World
More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution (stop buying plastic)
Thanks for reading, thanks for acting, and thanks for giving a shit.
Have a great weekend, everyone!