Edition 25 — Green Energy, Soft Colonialism
by Kartik Chaturvedi
Transition to Sustainable Energy
In the Swiss municipality of Arbedo-Castione, a 70-meter crane stands tall with concrete blocks hanging from six arms, ready to be lowered to the ground. For physics students, this is perhaps the simplest example of potential energy converting into kinetic energy. But it might also be the key to quick, dependable, sustainable energy – use gravity to lower the blocks and generate electricity during peak demand, then use excess electricity during non-peak hours from other sources to raise the blocks once again.
For over a decade, we believed that ethanol blended into gasoline reduces carbon pollution from fossil-fuel powered vehicles. But a new study says that the practice may not be achieving its goals. Instead of incremental patching up of the problem, we must discard age-old fuels and adopt new technologies such as electric motors and hydrogen fuel cells.
Fleet-as-a-service offerings like those from Highland Electric and Thomas Built could help kick-start widespread EV adoption. A subscription service is an easy solution to the higher upfront cost of EVs. The all-in subscription includes the cost of buses, charging infrastructure installation, and even the electricity used to charge the fleet. For school districts, this payment structure ends up costing less (both money and time) than operating, maintaining, and refueling current diesel fleets.
Colonialism is Over
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made lofty statements condemning slavery, but failed to mention by whom. Even worse, they could not bring themselves to even say “sorry” for the cruelties of their ancestors.
29 antiquities have been repatriated to India by Australia. This move by Australia comes on the day when Prime Minister Modi and his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting.
Other Noteworthy Links
If you’ve ever eaten okra, then you’ll know that the stuff can be pretty … gooey. According to new research, that quality could allow a compound from okra and fenugreek to be used in a less toxic method of removing microplastics from drinking water.
Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to capture light from what appears to be the most distant single star ever seen. Because light takes time to travel through space, scientists see this star as it appeared when its light began its journey.
A new study shows that, since Euro-American settlement approximately 160 years ago, agricultural fields in the midwestern U.S. have lost, on average, two millimeters of soil per year. This is nearly double the rate of erosion that the USDA considers sustainable. Furthermore, USDA estimates of erosion are between three and eight times lower than the figures reported in the study.
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