🌡 Climate Change
A single, devastating California fire season wiped out years of efforts to cut emissions (quick read)
According to researchers at UCLA and the University of Chicago, California's 2020 fire season released nearly 127 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. This was nearly double the 65 million metric tons by which CO2 had successfully been reduced for the prior 18 years.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a slowing or reversal of farmland productivity in America's Midwest and Plains regions could start to occur as soon as 2030 while progressively degrading through 2050. Adverse results of such decreased productivity could materialize as a 5% to 10% reduction in corn yields throughout Iowa, soybean yields in Minnesota, and wheat yields in Kansas.
Each year, some 20 million Shia Muslims participate in the Arba'een pilgrimage, a holy gathering that terminates in in Karbala, Iraq after a trek by foot that begins some 80 km (50 mi) away in Najaf, Iraq. Scheduled in sync with the Islamic calendar, the pilgrimage occurs some years during the winter months, and in others, during the summer. Wet bulb temperatures exceeding 25°C (75°F) are now projected to be commonplace in the 2050-2060 timeframe, at which point, the pilgrimage will be biologically impossible for humans to endure.
🔋 Clean Energy
According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global increase in CO2 emissions was just 1% -- or 300 million tons. This contrasted favorably against estimates projecting close to 1 billion tons in CO2 emissions. Solar and wind power were primarily responsible for this reduced increase in CO2 emissions, having produced a record 700 TWh in 2022 alone.
President Biden's American Battery Materials Initiative is behind nearly $3B allocated to 20 companies in 12 states to increase production of "reliable and sustainable" minerals used for EVs, energy storage, and other applications. Anovion Battery Materials, for instance, in Wheatfield, NY will receive $117M to create more than 300 clean energy jobs.
The Biden administration just announced the first-ever California offshore wind lease sale (quick read)
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a division of the US Department of the Interior, will hold an offshore wind energy lease sale on December 6, 2022 in the waters of central and northern California. The region spans 373,268 acres (151,056 ha) and will provide at least 4.5 GW of clean electricity, sufficient to power some 1.5 million homes. This is a first step towards reaching California's goal of net-zero by 2045, and the US's goal of reaching 30 GW in offshore wind power by 2030.
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🚗 Autonomous Vehicles
Even Anthony Levandowski, arguably the godfather of the autonomous vehicle revolution, has taken a step back and acknowledged the massive delta between vision and reality of the nascent autonomous vehicle space. Despite an estimated $100B invested by various companies in so-called robotaxis over the past decade or so, the dream of a driverless future continues to slip away not unlike the promises of nuclear fusion power.
Navya, an autonomous mobility company, is currently performing a three-day demonstration of its Autonom shuttles at JFK Airport on October 17-21, 2022. The shuttles will be supervised by an onboard safety operator in addition to a remote operator at Navya's control center in Michigan. The Autonom shuttles are equipped with eight LiDAR sensors to provide a 3D point cloud view of the world around the vehicles.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that although an update to its Full Self Driving (FSD) beta software will require only minimum input from a driver, if any at all, regulatory delays will prevent Tesla vehicles from operating without an attentive driver at the wheel. The FSD beta package, originally a $5,000 USD option, is now a $15,000 option due to its touted improvements and eventual future capabilities.