This is Good News Friday, where we find some good economic, energy, and environmental news and share it with PP readers. Please send any positive news to [email protected] with subject header "Good News Friday." We will save and post weekly. Enjoy!
Denisovans diverged from Neanderthals 400,000 years ago. Because the two species are more closely related to one another than they are to modern humans, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two when sequencing contemporary genomes, explained Josh Akey, a professor of genomic studies at the University of Washington. But in a study published today in the journal Science, Akey and his colleagues developed a new technique to more accurately determine which type of archaic DNA a person is carrying.
With stagnant wages one of the hottest topics these days, and calls to raise minimum wages resounding across the country, stories like this one are obviously eye-catching. If raising wages improves worker performance enough to help the bottom line, then there’s no tradeoff between how much companies can afford to pay workers — at least within reason — and how many workers they can afford to employ. Obviously if you raise wages high enough — imagine mandating $1,000 an hour! — a lot of people will be put out of work. But it could be that most American companies are in a safe zone where hiking wages modestly makes economic sense.
Gold Is Not All That Glitters (Tiffany D.)
Uruguay offers great opportunities and is a competitive global player for farming with its non-degraded soil, even year-round rainfall and two-crops-per-year growing season. What’s more, Uruguay offers a transparent market.
Electricity generated by renewable sources played a critical role, having accounted for around 90% of new electricity generation in 2015. Wind power produced more than half of all new electricity generation, said the IEA.
In 2007, there were zero utility-scale solar power plants in the US. Today there are hundreds, ranging from the 579 MW Solar Star project (the world’s largest solar farm) in California down to dozens upon dozens of 10, 20, and 50 MW projects in communities across the country. (SEIA counts 2,100 solar PV projects over 1 MW.)
Big solar power plants still provide a measly 0.6 percent of overall US electricity. But they are headed up a steep growth curve.
New Energy World Symposium (Arthur Robey)
Such an energy source—clean, abundant, cheap and on-demand—would make oil, coal, gas and nuclear power obsolete and would permit cheap, clean energy to be distributed and as available globally as information is today. Clean water for everyone is just one example of its immediate potential.
“The researchers collected 250 environmental samples, such as soil and sludge, from the yard of a PET bottle-recycling factory and analyzed many different species of bacteria that were growing within the samples,” the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of Science, reported. It noted that Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 could almost completely degrade a thin film of PET after six weeks, at a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Hidden Language Of Bird Feathers (jdargis)
Feathers go all the way back to the dinosaurs. Some scientists even argue that the T. rex may have had a fluffy coat, since some of its cousins did. These first feathers were not for flying, but perhaps they were useful for mating displays, staying warm and helping the creatures jump farther.
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