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Can the world run on renewables? Yes, Stanford researchers say.
It just might be a possibility.
- Study presents roadmaps for 139 countries to go 100 percent renewable.
- Authors suggested it was a much more aggressive strategy than the Paris agreement.
- Researchers found that it's possible with current technology and capabilites to go full renewable by 2050.
The fossil fuels that we're currently dependent on for much of our energy consumption — among them, coal, natural gas, and oil — are not renewable resources. It's been a common fact for quite some time that when we exhaust these resources, we won't be able to produce any more. Still, with that being said, many regard renewable energy as a subpar and less dependable energy source than our go-to fossil fuels.
Yet, according to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energies already account for 15 percent of our total electricity generation. Investments in renewable energy is occurring rapidly and places once seen as petroleum producing havens (such as Texas) now account for 12 percent of their energy production from renewables.
This said, as the world marches steadily on toward a future of renewable energy, one 2017 study, published in the journal Joule, indicates that a total overhaul may happen sooner than we think.
One hundred percent renewable energy
The extensive study analyzed the 139 countries that are responsible for 99 percent of global carbon emissions. Overall, the researchers found that the planet should be ready to go 100 percent renewable by 2050.
In the completed report, the authors lay out renewable energy roadmaps — overviews of how each country can transition completely away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Their work doesn't just provide blueprints, though. The researchers also explain how in transitioning we can avoid 1.5°C global warming, create 24.3 million long-term jobs, reduce the social cost of energy, and increase worldwide access to energy.
Mark Z. Jacobson, lead researcher of the study stated, "I was surprised by how many countries we found had sufficient resources to power themselves with 100 percent wind, water, and solar power."
All of these countries would be able to use renewable energy contained within their own borders and could most likely rely on technologies they currently possess. Researchers also talked about how the shift to 100 percent renewables would decrease the amount of land dedicated to energy production. Jacobson writes:
"The entire renewable energy footprint [. . .] is on order of 1.15 to 1.2 percent of the world's land. But keep in mind that 20 percent of the world's land is used for agriculture. In the United States, if you just look at oil and gas, there are 1.7 million active oil and gas wells and 2.3 million inactive wells. Collectively they take up somewhere between one to two percent of the U.S. land area. And that's not counting the refineries, the pipelines, or coal and nuclear infrastructure."
Each day we're beginning to see an increased amount of effort and investment being funneled into purely renewable energy resources. Indeed, the trend is spreading far and wide throughout the world.
Wind energy projects
A surprising study back in 2009 — it was conducted by the European Environment Agency — made an almost unbelievable claim: If Europe built all of its onshore and offshore wind farms, it'd be able to power the continent 20 times over.
As it turns out, though, the actual wind potential in Europe could be even greater. A new study found that maximizing onshore wind potential could enable the wind farms to power the continent to 100 times the over. That would be enough energy to power the entire world — from now until 2050. Europe's untapped wind energy amounts to around 52.5 terrawatts, or about 1 million watts for every 16 European citizens.
It's not just Europe that is getting in on the action. Kenya recently launched one of Africa's largest wind power farms. They're on course to meet the country's goal of 100 percent green energy by 2020. The farm, known as Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) can generate around 310 megawatts to the national grid and increase the country's electricity supply by 13 percent.
Kenya has launched Africa's largest wind power farm in a bid to boost electricity generating capacity and to meet the country's ambitious goal of 100% green energy by 2020. President Uhuru Kenyatta stated during the time of launch, "Today, we again raised the bar for the continent as we unveil Africa's single largest wind farm. Kenya is without doubt on course to be a global leader in renewable energy."
Solar power around the world
The United Arab Emirates is winding up the sun power as it just opened up one of the world's largest solar farms. They've opened up a couple of solar plants in a row, as they start the long transition from oil to solar.
Noor Abu Dhabi is one of the world's largest individual solar power plants. The plant contains 3.2 million solar panels. It can produce up to 1.17 gigawatts of power, which is enough to supply the electricity needs of 90,000 people, while reducing carbon emissions by 1 million metric tons.
Not to be outdone, Saudia Arabia is working on a solar farm outside of Mecca, they think will be able to produce 2.6 gigawatts of power once finished.
Back in the states, Disney has led an initiative to build a giant solar panel installation to power its Florida resort. This is part of Disney's plans to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2020. The 50-megawatt solar facility was ready for action in 2019 to provide renewable energy to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The New York Times reported that it'll reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 57,000 tons per year.
Time and time again, these pockets of renewables sprout up and showcase the success that this type of energy can have on the surrounding areas around it. A concentrated effort throughout the globe could turn this into the new fabric of our energy needs.
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Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.
- Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
- The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
- The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Oldest Cave Art Found in Sulawesi<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a9734e306f0914bfdcbe79a1e317a7f0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/b-wAYtBxn7E?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Persian polymath and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age teaches us about self-awareness.