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!
The Truth About Icelandic Happiness (jdargis)
Iceland, even with its cosmopolitan capital of Reykjavik, resembles a small town in many ways. People needn’t worry about falling into a black hole, Icelanders say, because there is no black hole to fall into you. There’s always someone to catch you. As one American immigrant to Iceland told me, if your car is stuck in the snow, someone will always, always stop. In fact, trust levels are so high that it’s not unusual to see six-year-olds walking to school alone in the winter darkness.
It struck me that the gap between my highest-achieving and my lowest-achieving kids was yawning. How can we get kids to do better, and in particular the kids who I could tell from interacting with them had the aptitude, had the talent, to learn what I was asking them to learn, but weren’t?
The Calabreses aren’t alone. More than 50 people have soldered, tinkered and written software to make such devices for themselves or their children. The systems—known in the industry as artificial pancreases or closed loop systems—have been studied for decades, but improvements to sensor technology for real-time glucose monitoring have made them possible.
The Food and Drug Administration has made approving such devices a priority and several companies are working on them. But the yearslong process of commercial development and regulatory approval is longer than many patients want, and some are technologically savvy enough to do it on their own.
On Monday, Cincinnati police were left stunned by a goose’s actions. She approached the police car and started pecking at the door, and the cop tried to feed her. But it was clear that’s not what she wanted. The goose walked away but looked back at the cop, and that’s when he decided to follow.
This comes a few days after Google announced that it was taking further measures to protect consumers from exploitative advertisers. From July 13, Google will no longer accept ads from payday loan companies. Facebook similarly prohibits payday loan advertising on its site. The advertising gatekeepers appear to be taking a rather more proscriptive, protective stance to try to make advertising a little less harmful.
Much of that biology is relevant to us. Soil microbes affect the viability of our farmlands. Plant microbes affect the yield of our crops. Oceanic microbes affect the circulating of oxygen, carbon, and other nutrients around the entire planet. The microbes of our buildings influence our exposure to disease-causing species. All of these are as important to us as the gut microbes that more directly affect our risk of obesity or inflammatory bowel disease.
One rule is focused on methane emissions, and the EPA estimates that it will cut the greenhouse equivalent of 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (out of the US' roughly 5.3 billion). But as a side benefit, the release of various organic toxins, including benzene, toluene, and xylene, will also be cut, as will emissions of ozone-forming chemicals. The Agency hasn't quantified the value of the ensuing health benefits, but it figures the climate benefits by 2025 ($690 million) will significantly outweigh the implementation costs ($530 million).
New Liquid Battery Chemistry Could Be a Game Changer (blackeagle)
A new composition of liquid batteries could lead to increased capacity and output, making it a contender for storing renewable energy to power our future.
Recently, MIT’s Professor Donald Sadoway and his team of students published a paper that may have brought a new breakthrough in liquid battery implementation that can vastly improve the benefits of the technology.
BioFiltro is already used by food processors, slaughterhouses, and other entities that produce a lot of wastewater, worldwide. But what makes it especially interesting is that once it’s set up, the BioFiltro or other vermiculture filtration systems could end up being extremely cost-effective: This is basically a one-stop shop for turning garbage (wastewater) into two highly prized materials: clean water and also the castings from the worms, which as any good farmer knows is a truly spectacular fertilizer. With some more tweaks—The Guardian notes that salts can still escape a system like BioFiltro, which aren’t always wanted—this could be a remarkably efficient, low-energy, high-producing way to deal with wastewater.
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