The Downside of Solar Energy


Hurricane Irma Aftermath On St. Thomas

The solar economy continues its dramatic growth, with over a half-terawatt already installed around the world generating clean electricity. But what happens to photovoltaic (PV) modules at the end of their useful life? With lifespans measured in decades, PV-waste disposal may seem to be an issue for the distant future. Yet, the industry ships millions of tons every year, and that number will continue to rise as the industry grows. Total e-waste—including computers, televisions, and mobile phones—is around 45 million metric tons annually.

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Dustin Mulvaney & Morgan D. Bazilian — Scientific American

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HOW MUCH CAN DIETARY CHANGES AND FOOD PRODUCTION PRACTICES HELP MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE?


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“Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change,” Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, said in a press release. (In the summary of the report, the IPCC acknowledges that factors like financial barriers and cultural habits may influence the adoption of such diets.)

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Kelley Czajka — Pacific Standard

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Greta Thunberg: The Crusader Kid


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The young shall change the world. Amen.

WHEN IT COMES to Greta Thunberg, people fall into one of three camps: they either love her, hate her or don’t know about her. Those who appreciate her are leaders like António Guterres (Secretary-General of the UN), US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Barack Obama. Those who dismiss her are the likes of Canadian businessman and politician Maxime Bernier, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson and climate sceptic Bjørn Lomborg. But this much is clear, she is arguably the world’s best-known 16-year-old today.

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Nandini Nair — Open

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The Mysterious Life (and Death) of Africa’s Oldest Trees


Nature Baobab Tree Africa Tanzania Safari

Baobab tress are fascinating. Some can be more than 1000 years old.

Trees—sometimes felled, sometimes planted, sometimes accidental witness to history—provide a setting always growing imperceptibly in the background. We plant trees for resources, shade, sustenance. We often kill trees with intention and purpose: for shelter, for warmth, for paper, for soap, for winter rituals, for clogs, for furniture. But with baobabs, we’re watching in exasperation as they fold on their own. The description of fallen giant trees struck a chord globally, even though the baobab grows mostly in Africa, Australia, and India. (There are a few in Hollywood, Florida, and in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, where the synthetic spectacle—the Tree of Life—lights up in neon and glitz.) Speaking anthropomorphically, the baobab is the charismatic megafauna of botany, so its fall seems to portend our own.

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Jaime Lowe — Topic

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The World Is Hot, on Fire, and Flooding. Climate Change is Here.


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It’s the hottest month of one of the hottest years in the history of human civilization, and unusual wildfires are sprouting up all over the map. Sweden has called for emergency assistance from the rest of the European Union to help battle massive wildfires burning north of the Arctic Circle. Across the western United States, 50 major wildfires are burning in parts of 14 states, fueled by severe drought. The wildfires burning in Siberia earlier this month sent smoke plumes from across the Arctic all the way to New England, four thousand miles away. Last year, big wildfires burned in Greenland for the first time in recorded history.

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Yves Smith — Naked Capitalism

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How do you cool 7.5 billion people on a warming planet?


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Adapting will be expensive. With every degree of warming that gets locked into the climate system, the more it will cost to maintain something resembling normal life, and the more people there will be who are unable to afford it. The particular problem posed by heat isn’t that it’s impossible to adapt to, it’s that it’s difficult to adapt to equitably and in a way that doesn’t make the problem worse. Like mitigating climate change overall, any cooling solution will require collective action, in the form of international agreements like the Kigali Amendment, efficiency regulations, subsidies, technological advances, new building designs, and civic programs.

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Josh Dzieza — The Verge

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It Gets Wetter


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Today’s needull looks at Kim Stanley Robinson’s new book New York 2140. The writer looks at how climate change will affect New York and how might the city look then.

It’s a novel scene—New York City, 123 years from now: half-drowned but not out. Still a capital of real estate, still a political powerhouse, still an unequal battleground between finance and housing movements, still a crucible where capitalism and climate politics are smashed, melted, and twisted together. The (true) physical premise is that upper Manhattan is fifty feet higher than lower Manhattan.

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Daniel Aldana Cohen — Dissent

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