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The Hill

A new study by MIT researchers finds that “the energy required to run computers in a future global fleet of autonomous vehicles could produce as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers in the world,” reports Sharon Udasin for The Hill. The researchers found that “1 billion such cars, each driving for an hour daily, would use enough energy to generate the same amount of emissions that data centers do today.”

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.

Politico

Politico reporter Derek Robertson writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds the computing power required to replace the world’s auto fleet with AVs would produce about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers currently operating. Robertson writes that the researchers view the experiment “as an important step in getting auto- and policymakers to pay closer attention to the unexpected ways in which the carbon footprint for new tech can increase.”

BBC News

Graduate student Soumya Sudhakar speaks with BBC Digital Planet host Gareth Mitchell about her new study showing that hardware efficiency for self-driving cars will need to advance rapidly to avoid generating as many greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers in the world.

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.”

Popular Science

Using statistical modeling, MIT researchers have found that the energy needed to power a fleet of fully autonomous EVs could generate as much carbon emissions as all the world’s data centers combined, reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science.

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Pranshu Verma writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds the “future energy required to run just the computers on a global fleet of autonomous vehicles could generate as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers in the world today.” 

Scientific American

Writing for Scientific American, John Fialka spotlights Form Energy, an MIT spinout designing an iron-air battery that “could help decarbonize the nation’s power sector more cheaply than lithium-ion storage systems.” Fialka explains that “unlike current lithium-ion batteries that require expensive materials mostly from other countries such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite, the proposed battery stores electricity using widely available iron metal.” 

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 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.”

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.

The Conversation

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have found that brown carbon – released from burning biomass – could have a larger impact on the Earth’s climate than originally thought, write University of British Columbia student Nealan Gerrebos and University of British Columbia Prof. Alan Bertram for The Conversation. “The results show a warming effect on the climate from brown carbon that is twice that of the previous estimate,” write Gerrebos and Bertram.