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Climate change

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The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Vivi Smilgius spotlights the MIT Climate Clock, a massive clock being projected onto MIT’s Green Building that uses Celtics, Patriots and other local sports teams as a means to count down to the projected date and time that the planet is expected to have warmed by 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels. “Someone might get that there are six Pats games until this event. That makes a lot more sense to people,” said second-year student Norah Miller. “It’s a sense of personal urgency.”

The Hill

Writing for The Hill, Prof. Emeritus Henry Jacoby, former co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and his colleagues make the case for a concerted scientific effort to better understand the risks posed by exceeding climate tipping points. “These risks are becoming more serious with every tenth of a degree of global warming,” they write. “Investment in a better understanding of tipping point risks might be the best investment humanity could now make in the effort to preserve a livable planet.”

Time Magazine

Prof. Yet-Ming Chiang has been named to the TIME 100 Climate list, which highlights the world’s most influential climate leaders in business. “When it comes to cleantech, if it won’t scale, it doesn’t matter,” Chiang says. “This is a team sport—companies large and small, and governments state and federal, need to work together to get these new technologies out there where they can have impact.” 

The Wall Street Journal

Prof. Jacopo Buongiorno speaks with Danny Lewis, host of The Wall Street Journal’s “Future of Everything” podcast, about the future of nuclear power plants. “As countries, regions, businesses contemplate their future plans for reducing carbon emissions, nuclear is one technology that they have got to consider,” says Buongiorno. “It's an incredibly dense energy source, so you don't need a big supply chain that continuously feeds the power plant with fuel, the same way that you would with coal, for example. Also, the machine itself, the reactor is very, very compact.”

The Independent

Principal Research Scientist Emre Gençer speaks with The Independent reporter Louise Boyle about natural hydrogen and its potential as a future renewable energy source. “There is a ‘mismatch’ where natural hydrogen is being discovered and where it could be used, which would require massive investments in completely new infrastructure,” says Gençer. “I think it will be part of the solution but we need to take it with a grain of salt.”

KQED

Postdoctoral associate Milan Klöwer shares how large conferences can impact air travel and personal carbon footprints, reports Sydney Johnson for KQED. “Flying is one of the sectors where there are enormous inequalities,” says Klöwer. “The people that earn the most [money] fly the most, and therefore have personal carbon footprints that are thousands of times larger than the poorest people on the planet. There is a responsibility for people to understand that problem about how they are personally emitting.”

The Atlantic

A study co-authored by research scientist Evan Fricke found that “extinctions and declines in habitat [of migratory birds] have dramatically reduced the long-distance dispersal of seeds,” reports Liam Drew for The Atlantic. “There have been really strong declines in long-distance seed dispersal as a result of the massive loss of big animals from the ecosystems,” says Fricke.

Living on Earth

Prof. Kerry Emanuel speaks with Living on Earth host Jenni Doering about the future of extreme weather forecasting. “We have to do a much better job projecting long term risk, and how that's changing as the climate changes so that people can make intelligent decisions about where they're going to live, what they're going to build, and so on,” says Emanuel. “We need better models, we need better computers, so that we can resolve the atmosphere better, we need to make better measurements of the ocean below the surface, that's really tough to do.”

Cipher

Cipher News editor Amy Harder spotlights the MIT Renewable Energy Clinic, a new course developed by Prof. Larry Susskind aimed at training students to be mediators in conflicts over clean energy projects. Harder notes that the course is focused on creating “collaboration that may slow down projects initially by incorporating more input but ultimately speed them up by avoiding later-stage conflicts.”

Higher Ed Spotlight

As MIT’s fall semester was starting, President Sally Kornbluth spoke with Ben Wildavsky, host of the Higher Ed Spotlight podcast, about the importance of incorporating the humanities in STEM education and the necessity of breaking down silos between disciplines to tackle pressing issues like AI and climate change. “Part of the importance of us educating our students is they’re going to be out there in the world deploying these technologies. They’ve got to understand the implications of what they’re doing,” says Kornbluth. “Our students will find themselves in positions where they’re going to have to make decisions as to whether these technologies that were conceived for good are deployed in ways that are not beneficial to society. And we want to give them a context in which to make those decisions.” 

The Guardian

Roofscapes Studio, an MIT startup co-founded by Olivier Faber MArch ’23, Tim Cousin MArch ’23 and Eytan Levi MArch/MSRED ’21, transforms rooftops into greenspaces as part of an effort to combat climate change and provide green spaces in cities, reports Kim Willsher for The Guardian. The team is looking to add, “wooden platforms fixed across the sloping panes to create roof gardens, terraces and even walkways,” in Paris to help prevent the city from overheating. 

NPR

Prof. John Fernández, director of the Environmental Solutions Initiative, speaks with Aynsley O’Neill and Jenni Doering of NPR’s Living on Earth about steps homeowners and renters can take to reduce the risk of wildfires impacting their homes. “The most important thing is to reduce the fuel that’s available between your house and the beginning of the forest, reducing the amount of objects that could ignite,” says Fernández. “That includes outdoor furniture [or] any plastic material.” 

Xinhuanet

Researchers at MIT have developed a conceptual design for a system that can efficiently produce “solar thermochemical hydrogen,” reports Xinhua. “The system harnesses the Sun's heat to directly split water and generate hydrogen -- a clean fuel that can power long-distance trucks, ships, and planes, while in the process emitting no greenhouse gas emissions.”

CBS Boston

Graduate student Kaylee Cunningham speaks with CBS Boston about her work using social media to help educate and inform the public about nuclear energy. Cunningham, who is known as Ms. Nuclear Energy on TikTok, recalls how as a child she was involved in musical theater, a talent she has now combined with her research interests as an engineer. She adds that she also hopes her platform inspires more women to pursue STEM careers. “You don't have to look like the stereotypical engineer,” Cunningham emphasizes.