Renewable Energy: Beyond Wind and Solar

Beyond wind and solar, a variety of carbon-free energy sources—biofuels, geothermal and advanced nuclear energy—are seen as possible ways of meeting rising global demand. 

What's the Latest Development?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Initiative turns five next month. To celebrate, the college is examining which renewable technologies can be scaled to make a truly significant difference in the global energy supply. Biofuels and tidal power hold the least promise, according to the Institute. The former currently makes land unavailable for growing food and may also encourage the cutting down of forests; the latter simply supplies too little. The most energy that could ever be captured using waves is less than one terawatt. 

What's the Big Idea?

Geothermal and advanced nuclear power hold the most promise for substituting fossil fuels in the coming decades. The Earth constantly produces 44 trillion watts of power which is three times humanity's current energy use. Hot dry rock technology can be used to heat water deep underground, bringing steam to the surface to turn turbines. For the next several decades, nuclear power faces obstacles, not the least of which are political. The Institute reminds us that harvesting energy requires energy: no system is pollution-free. 

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
Keep reading Show less

Jesus wasn't white: he was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew. Here's why that matters

There is no doubt that the historical Jesus, the man who was executed by the Roman State in the first century CE, was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew.

Hans Zatzka (Public Domain)/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

I grew up in a Christian home, where a photo of Jesus hung on my bedroom wall. I still have it. It is schmaltzy and rather tacky in that 1970s kind of way, but as a little girl I loved it. In this picture, Jesus looks kind and gentle, he gazes down at me lovingly. He is also light-haired, blue-eyed, and very white.

Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less