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Climate change

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Forbes

Forbes reporter Jeff McMahon spotlights visiting scientist Judah Cohen for his research examining the connection between Arctic snow cover and sea ice to cold air intrusions in the United States during the month of February. “December has certainly been warming if you look at the U.S.,” sayscCohen. But “February, going back to 1979—so quite a few years now—we're actually seeing in the center of the U.S. a very distinctive cooling trend.”

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Scott Kirsner spotlights Boston as a potential leader in climate technology for their “incubator spaces like Greentown Labs in Somerville and The Engine in Cambridge.”

The New York Times

Prof. Steven Barrett speaks with New York Times reporter Paige McClanahan about the pressing need to make air travel more sustainable and his research exploring the impact of contrails on the planet’s temperature. “Eliminating contrails is quite a big lever on mitigating the climate impact of aviation,” said Barrett.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg reporter Akshat Rathi spotlights Sublime Systems, an MIT startup developing new technology to produce low-carbon cement. “Sublime’s solution involves splitting the cement-making process into two steps,” explains Rathi. “The first step is to make calcium—the key element in limestone—in a form that’s ready to chemically react with silicon—the key element in sand. Sublime reduces energy use and carbon emissions in this step by avoiding limestone and using electricity, rather than coal-fired heat.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Emeritus Ernest Moniz writes that the National Ignition Facility’s fusion energy advancement “is exciting because when the journey from science demonstration to a commercially viable power plant is completed, the electricity grid will be revolutionized.” Moniz continues, “To meet widely accepted climate objectives, we must double the clock speed of the clean energy innovation process.”

Forbes

Forbes has named Commonwealth Fusion Systems one of the biggest tech innovations and breakthroughs of 2022, reports Bernard Marr. “Commonwealth Fusion Systems is now working with MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center on plans to build a factory that can mass-produce components for the first commercial fusion reactors,” writes Marr.

Bloomberg

Prof. Jessika Trancik speaks with Bloomberg reporter Kyle Stock about the carbon impact of electric vehicles. “On average, your emissions are substantially lower if you go for the full electric [vehicle],” says Trancik. “But we could probably think of extreme edge cases where a hybrid is just as good.”

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Aaron Pressman spotlights how The Engine has “backed a number of promising climate-tech startups” and has “helped attract many other investors to climate tech.” Additionally “three-quarters of startups backed by The Engine had a founder or chief executive from an underrepresented minority group, and 44 percent had a woman in one of those roles,” Pressman notes. “From our point of view, it is unacceptable not to believe that people of very diverse backgrounds should be the next founders,” says Katie Rae, CEO and managing partner of The Engine.

NPR

Prof. Dennis Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, speaks with NPR host Rob Schmitz about fusion energy and its impact on climate and energy sustainability. “So in fusion, what you're doing is literally fusing or pushing together these hydrogen atoms,” explains Whyte. “They turn into helium. This is what happens in our sun as well, too. And when that happens, that can release large amounts of net energy.”

The Washington Post

Research Scientist Josué Velázquez Martínez speaks with Allyson Chiu from The Washington Post about how online and in-store shopping can impact the climate. “In general, anybody that is in logistics and supply chains agree that having one or two or three days more to deliver is always better,” Velázquez Martínez says. More time for deliveries makes planning, inventory replenishment and distribution “way more efficient, which in turn also reduces the amount of fuel and energy that you require to serve your customers.”

Physics World

Physics World has named two research advances by MIT researchers to its list of the Top 10 Breakthroughs of the Year. Prof. Gang Chen and his colleagues were selected for their work “showing that cubic boron arsenide is one of the best semiconductors known to science.” Prof. Asegun Henry, grad student Alina LaPotin and their colleagues were nominated for “constructing a thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cell with an efficiency of more than 40%.”

Popular Mechanics

Quaise Energy, an MIT spinout, is developing a millimeter wave drill to “vaporize enough rock to create the world’s deepest holes and harvest geothermal energy at scale to satisfy human energy consumption without the need for fossil fuels,” reports Tim Newcomb for Popular Mechanics.

The Verge

The Verge reporter Justine Calma writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds that while wind energy has measurably improved air quality, only 32% of those benefits reached low-income communities. “The research shows that to squeeze out the greatest health benefits, wind farms need to intentionally replace coal and gas power plants,” writes Calma. “And to clean up the most polluted places — particularly those with more residents of color and low-income households — those communities need to be in focus when deploying new renewable energy projects.”

HealthDay News

A new study by MIT researchers finds that increased usage of wind power is improving air quality in parts of the U.S., however only a third of the health benefits are being seen in disadvantaged communities, reports Alan Mozes for HealthDay. "Going forward," explains Prof. Noelle Selin, "more targeted policies are needed to reduce the disparities at the same time, for example by directly targeting [fossil fuel] sources that influence certain marginalized communities."

The Hill

Increased usage of wind energy has led to health benefits, but does not affect all communities equally, reports Saul Elbein for The Hill. The researchers found that in order to increase the benefits of wind energy, “the electricity industry would have to spin down the most polluting plants at times of high wind-supply — rather than their most expensive ones,” writes Elbein.