LINKS OF THE WEEK: July 30 - Aug 5, 2023
The US moves closer to getting more green energy on the grid – plus battery-powered container ships, electric ferries, compostable bioplastic, and more.
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved reforms that will make it easier for power projects to interconnect with the nation's transmission grids. Clean energy groups are saying they welcome the reforms but U.S. won’t be able to clean up its grid without dramatically speeding up the construction of new transmission lines.
Seems like electricians and electrical engineers are going to be in huge demand for the next few decades…
China just launched a 393-ft battery-powered container ship to service 600 miles of the Yangtze River. It reportedly has the largest battery capacity of any ship, with 36 replaceable containerized batteries that are swapped for fresh ones at several points along the journey.
I wonder how long it will be before we see similar battery-powered container ships on the St. Lawrence and Mississippi?
Chinese battery-powered container ships aren’t the only vessels transforming marine transportation. Here's a recent Condé Nast Traveler article claiming that electric ferries are about to take over the world. As someone who lives in a community accessible only by boat, I would love to see electric ferries and other forms of zero-emission waterborne transportation become more popular!
Two California-based aviation startups say that their hydrogen-powered passenger airplanes will be ready to start flying commercially as early as 2025. ZeroAvia has successfully completed 10 flights with its prototype plan and says it’s on track to launch its 9-10 seat aircraft next year, while Universal Hydrogen has completed 9 successful test flights of its 40-seat prototype and says it plans to enter a hydrogen-fueled aircraft into passenger service later in 2025 or in early 2026. (Looks like aviation industry giants are throwing a ton of money at them as well.)
Researchers in Michigan are saying they've found a way to make bioplastic PLA more compostable. (Apparently the secret is adding starch to the mix.) Good news if true... the world needs more biodegradable alternatives to plastic. We also need to realize that we can easily make do with a LOT less "stuff” – and our lives will be richer and happier if we prioritize experiences over things!
I’m loving this Anthropocene article about two new studies showing how a lightweight construction material and a fire-retardant, both made from fungi, could be safe, sustainable alternatives to the chemicals, foams, and plastics in our homes. The world is waking up to the fact that the future is fungal! 😁🍄
A German supermarket recently conducted an experiment in which it has raised the prices of some products to reflect their real cost on the environment. The money raised will go to supporting family-run farms. I'm all for raising climate change awareness and helping farmers, but I feel like consumers are the wrong group to penalize – especially when poor people will be the ones who will suffer the most. Maybe let's focus more on getting fossil fuel companies etc. to pay their fair share?
If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that the world has been experiencing some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, thanks to the climate havoc wreaked by spewing billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for decades. (An inevitable consequence the fossil fuel industry knew about and deliberately hid from the public for DECADES, lest we forget.) Grace Blakely, writing for the Jacobin, argues that fossil fuel giants BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Aramco, and Chevron are collectively responsible for $5.3 trillion worth of damage likely to emerge from climate breakdown between 2025 and 2050 and owe the world $209 billion in annual climate reparations as a result.
I always appreciate hearing what longtime famed environmental scientist and activist David Suzuki has to say. The standout quote in his latest interview with The Guardian is this: "The fundamental failure, I think, of environmentalists, including me [is that] we haven’t been able to get across the idea that the systems we’ve developed are themselves limited and responsible for the destruction... We’ve got to break out of that, and stop elevating the economy, our politics, our legal systems, as if they come before anything else.”
We have to fix our social and economic systems if we want to overcome the climate crisis and create a world that works for everyone!
DANG, when I saw the headline about Darryl Hannah introducing a new Barbie that wasn’t made of plastic, I was really hoping that MyCelia™ EcoWarrior Barbie was real. (At last, a Barbie I would be delighted to buy for kids!) Turns out the whole “product launch” was just a publicity stunt to generate awareness about plastic's role in the climate crisis. Well played, activists! Point taken.