Analysis: US grid could be 90 percent carbon-free by 2030 with IRA tax credits

Read the full story at The Hill.

Under the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, the American electrical grid could achieve up to 90 percent of its electricity without carbon emissions by 2030, according to an analysis published Wednesday by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The combination of the Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law could increase the share of clean electricity from 41 percent in 2022 to between 71 percent and 90 percent by 2030, the report found. Researchers analyzed a broad range of scenarios, accounting for unknown quantities such as future fuel prices and technology costs.

U.S. home heating is fractured in surprising ways: Look up your neighborhood

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

Until recently, you might not have focused much on whether you need gas, oil or electricity to warm your house. But in America’s highly fractured energy landscape, the surprising ways our home heating is split could speed — or slow — our shift away from fossil fuels.

There are four main ways that Americans heat their homes: electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil. The vast majority of, nearly 90 percent, get their warmth from either electricity — in the form of old, inefficient electric resistance heaters or new, more efficient heat pumps — or from natural gas that is piped into homes and burnedin a natural gas furnace. The remaining homes use propane — a fossil fuel created by natural gas processing or oil refining — or fuel oil, both of which need to be delivered to homes by truck.

Butthese fuels are not evenly distributed across the entire country.

Thanks to a combination of local climates, electricity prices and historical accident, America’s home heating system, like the country’s politics, is deeply divided. In the South, thanks to government funding from almost a century ago and mild climates, many rely on electricity to stay warm. The Midwest is dominated by natural gas and, in rural areas, propane. In the Northeast, despite high prices andinconvenience, fuel oil still heats many homes.

Currently ‘not enough workers’ in the labor force to meet offshore wind’s 2030 goals: NREL

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

Deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 will require a significant boost in new skilled workers because too few are available to meet demand, Jeremy Stefek, a researcher at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, said during a webinar on Thursday. 

An increase in training and apprenticeship programs can help meet that need, and NREL believes that as new skilled workers are being trained, workers in adjacent industries like maritime oil should be recruited.

Safety certifications for offshore wind projects also need to be standardized, Stefek said.

Midwest farmers tripled use of cover crops, but it’s still a small fraction of acres

Read the full story from St. Louis Public Radio.

The University of Illinois completed a study late last year using a combination of USDA reports and satellite images to produce the most accurate survey of cover crop usage in the Midwest. The study found that in the past 10 years, the number of acres with cover crops tripled — from 1.8% to 7.2%.

It’s a big jump but still a small number of acres.

How fluoropolymer makers are trying to hold on to their business

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

As the materials face regulatory fire, producers look to eliminate problematic polymerization aids.

“Plasticosis:” New disease in birds highlights dangers of microplastics

Read the full story in New Atlas.

Scientists have described a new disease called plasticosis, which is directly caused by – you guessed it – plastic waste in the environment. While the disease has so far only been identified in the digestive tracts of seabirds, the scale of the problem suggests it could be widespread in other species and different parts of the body.

Academic employers seek research experience and teaching skills

Read the full story in Nature.

Research experience is still the most sought-after attribute in senior academic scientists, a study finds. However, universities’ demand for teaching and student-supervision experience, digital-literacy skills and geographic mobility increases with time, and demand for research, teaching and supervision skills rises with seniority.

Embracing ugly veg and the ugly side of poultry production to make more profitable and sustainable products

Read the full story at Food Navigator Europe.

A Danish food tech start-up is leveraging two very different food industry side streams – spent laying hens, and mushrooms rejected by supermarkets – to launch fermented organic flavour enhancers.

Disaster survivors need help remaining connected with friends and families – and access to mental health care

Earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters can cause a lot of personal upheaval. Omer Alven/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

by Daniel P. Aldrich, Northeastern University and Yunus Emre Tapan, Northeastern University

The earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria in early February 2023 have killed at least 47,000 people and disrupted everyday life for some 26 million more.

Survivors of big disasters like these earthquakes – among the worst in the region’s history – certainly need food, water, medications, blankets and other goods. But they also need psychological first aid – that is, immediate mental health counseling along with support that strengthens their connections with their friends, relatives and decision-makers.

As scholars who study how disaster survivors benefit from preserving connections to people in their networks, we know that these social ties help with the recovery from traumatic events that cause significant upheaval.

But often in the rush to keep survivors fed, warm and housed, we’ve observed that the flow of support that focuses on meeting their psychological needs falls short of what’s needed.

Emergency response underway

The Turkish government agency responsible for disaster management – the AFAD – focuses strongly on the delivery of tents, medical care and physical aid. And the few nongovernmental organizations providing mental health care, such as the Maya Foundation and Turkish Psychological Association, have received less than 10% of the donations channeled through the Turkey Earthquake Relief Fund.

Many international aid groups, private companies and NGOs have launched campaigns to support search and rescue operations and response and recovery through disaster diplomacy. The United Nations invited its member states to raise US$1 billion to support aid operations. The U.S. is providing more than $100 million in aid.

All this assistance is funding emergency response efforts and humanitarian aid that largely consists of food, medicine and shelter in the area.

The Turkish government has announced it will begin building 30,000 homes in quake-hit areas in March and will give cash aid to those affected.

A group of people hug and cry amid rubble.
Hatay, Turkey, was hit hard by the February 2023 earthquakes. Ugur Yildirim/dia images via Getty Images

Psychological aspects of disasters

Research conducted after a wide variety of catastrophes has shown that mental health problems become more common after these events. Many survivors experience anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder because of everything they have been through.

One reason for this is that disasters can cut people off from their routines and sever access to the sources of emotional support they previously relied on. Often moved to emergency shelters, and away from their doctors, neighbors and friends, survivors – especially those without strong networks – regularly experience poor mental health.

Further, when there are many casualties after major disasters of any kind, families may have lost loved ones and still not have a gravesite at which they can mourn. Within seven weeks of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for example, nearly half of the residents of New Orleans surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had PTSD symptoms.

An important lesson we’ve drawn from researching what occurs after disasters is that robust social networks can soften some of the blows from these shocks. Even after someone loses a home and a sense of normalcy, staying in close touch with family and friends can minimize some of the sense of loss.

People who are pushed out of their routines but manage to remain connected to their neighbors – who are often going through the same ordeal – tend to have lower levels of PTSD and anxiety. Their friends and relatives can provide emotional support, help them stay informed, and encourage the use of mental health treatment and outside help when it’s needed.

One of us participated in a research team that surveyed nearly 600 residents of a town located near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant after the nuclear meltdowns in March 2011. More than one-fourth of these survivors of the catastrophe had PTSD symptoms. Those with strong social networks, however, generally had fewer mental health problems than other survivors with weaker connections to their friends and loved ones.

Another study of Japan’s Great Eastern Earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that one of us took part in showed that survivors of that disaster with stronger social ties recovered more rapidly and completely following a disaster.

People dressed for winter gather in a semi-outdoor space.
Syrians gather in Aleppo, in a building damaged by the February 2023 earthquake. Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images

4 strategies that can help

In our view, relief organizations that operate in Turkey and Syria and government aid agencies need to focus and spend more on mental health priorities. Here are four good ways to accomplish this:

  1. Include psychologists, therapists, social workers and other mental health professionals in the mix of aid workers who arrive immediately after disasters to begin group and individual therapy.
  2. Ensure that local faith-based organizations and spiritual leaders play key roles in the recovery process.
  3. Get as many public spaces, such as cafes, libraries and other gathering spots as possible, up and running again. Even virtual get-togethers using Zoom or similar software can help maintain connections with displaced friends and loved ones – as long as survivors have working cellphone service, at a minimum.
  4. Disaster recovery efforts should make communications technology a high priority. In addition to spending on food, tents, blankets, cots and medical supplies, we recommend that basic disaster aid should include access to free phone calls and Wi-Fi so that people whose lives have been upended can stay in contact with far-flung friends and loved ones.

Given the likelihood of more large-scale disasters in the future, we believe that it’s essential that relief efforts emphasize work that will strengthen the mental health and social networks of survivors.

Daniel P. Aldrich, Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Director, Security and Resilience Program, Northeastern University and Yunus Emre Tapan, Ph.D. Student in Political Science, Northeastern University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Aqueduct Tools

Aqueduct is a data platform run by World Resources Institute. It is comprised of tools that help companies, governments, and civil society understand and respond to water risks – such as water stress, variability from season-to-season, pollution, and water access.

Aqueduct uses open-source, peer reviewed data to map water risks such as floods, droughts and stress. Beyond the tools, the Aqueduct team works one-on-one with companies, governments and research partners through the Aqueduct Alliance to help advance best practices in water resource management and enable sustainable growth in a water-constrained world.

Aqueduct tools include:

  • Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, which maps and analyzes current and future water risks across locations;
  • Aqueduct Country Rankings, which allows decision-makers to understand and compare national and subnational water risks;
  • Aqueduct Food, which identifies current and future water risks to agriculture and food security; and
  • Aqueduct Floods, which identifies coastal and riverine flood risks, and analyzes the costs and benefits of investing in flood protection.

Aqueduct data is available for download in several formats. The underlying code can be downloaded on GitHub. If you would like to adapt and/or share the data, please provide attribution as dictated by WRI’s Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License.