Jared Wolf's articles

  1. Climate Change
  2. Energy and Environment
  3. Planet
  4. Science

The scoop: Two billionaires flew into space this week, neither of which contributed to scientific research. We want to know... how much carbon does a space plane emit?

Key talking points:

  • traditional rocket fuel depletes the ozone, but bezos used a liquid form of hydrogen and oxygen that is more sustainable.
  • one atmospheric scientist reported that bezos's rocket emitted nothing more than "water and some combustion products".

Bottom line on billionaires in space: It's not necessarily a climate problem, but the world is in no shape to spend that much money on vanity projects.

Dig deeper → 1 min

  1. Energy and Environment
  2. Planet
  3. Science
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The scoop: Tesla is probably the most famous and influential inventor/scientist you never heard of.

A few things Tesla did:

  1. In 1904, Tesla invented an efficient bladeless turbine.
  2. Tesla proposed electric power generation through geothermal, solar and wind energy.
  3. Tesla speculated on the existence of the ionosphere years before we discovered it.

Bottom line: Tesla imagined the world in many ways more like a philosopher than a scientist. But his scientific mind was as infallible as any. One thing is for sure: the modern world would be far behind without Nikola Tesla.

Dig deeper → 5 min.

  1. Cities and Communities
  2. Federal
  3. People
  4. Politics and Policy

The scoop: American infrastructure is aging and the problem is two-fold. Large cities need federal funding to support ambitious projects, while small cities can't afford any new projects.

Disaster in Miami, Detroit: As the story unfolds, it appears the Surfside condo tower likely collapsed from deteriorating infrastructure. In the Midwest, Detroit suffered from unprecedented rain, but also decades of underinvestment.

Rising cost of construction: US infrastructure rebuilds are extremely expensive, 6th highest in the world. Despite that, we dedicate a lower percentage of our GDP to infrastructure than the EU or China.

One solution: Prioritize domestic infrastructure projects over foreign interventionism to fund new projects. Don't just use deficit money to fund it. In fact, money alone will not be sufficient to ensure new construction is a success.

Successful federal projects require careful planning, strategic management and people-first politics. America needs to rebuild itself bearing both today's economy and future economies in mind. It's important we don't forget either.

Dig deeper → 4 min

  1. Better Business
  2. Business
  3. Profit

This week, I had the chance to sit down with Madison Rifkin, founder of Mount. Mount is a SaaS platform that enables private property (think airbnb) to launch, track and monetize their guest amenities. Those amenities can include things like bikes and e-scooters.

Mount allows travelers to use more sustainable modes of short distance travel in place of ubers or car rentals. And it accomplishes this without causing a scooter-frenzied-tourist headache for city administrators, because all of the equipment is completely owned and controlled by the host.

If you'd like to learn more about Mount and how they're disrupting the hospitality industry, check out the full Q&A below.

Check out our full interview.

  1. Federal
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy
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The scoop: El Salvador announced that Bitcoin is now legal tender. Citizens can pay taxes with it and stuff.

Why it matters: El Salvador is the first country to recognize a cryptocurrency as a legal form of currency. This marks a major shift toward government's view of decentralized financial systems, and a potential shift away from central banks.

The energy problem: We all know Bitcoin has an energy problem. To combat that, El Salvador plans to use geothermal energy from its volcanoes to produce cheap, clean energy for bitcoin mining. Let's see if they can build sophisticated infrastructure to match pent-up demand.

Bottom line: In the rush to make bets on the future of finance, governments around the world are responding with crypto plans for citizens.

Question: Will this push for legal forms of cryptocurrency help or hurt its climate impact in the long-run?

Dig deeper → 2 min

  1. Energy
  2. Energy and Environment
  3. Planet
  4. Water

10 reasons why seaweed farms are both sustainable and practical:

  1. Seaweed farms require no land.
  2. Seaweed farms are quite efficient, and can be harvested for commercial use within 90 days.
  3. Seaweed farms by-pass negative side-effects like deforestation or pesticide-use.
  4. Seaweed farms work in harmony with surrounding wildlife.
  5. Seaweed farms don't interfere with boats or ships, and create economic opportunities where none exist.
  6. Harvesting seaweed requires very little biofuel; it is a scalable process.
  7. Seaweed has multiple uses: it can produce both food and fuel.
  8. Seaweed is biodegradable, unlike solar panels and wind turbines that require heavy metals and create waste.
  9. Seaweed yields 30x more energy per acre than biofuel land crops like soy or corn.
  10. Only 2% of the fertile ocean is covered by kelp forests, so there is much more room to grow.

Dig deeper → 2 min

  1. Energy and Environment
  2. Planet
  3. Science
  4. Uncategorized
  5. Water

The scoop: Jersey Shore has clean water compared to many parts of the country, but certain beaches still test unsafe for swimming more than 40% of the time.

Key causes of water contamination:

  • outdated sewage systems
  • overdevelopment of beachfronts
  • factory farming spillovers
  • storm runoff

Bottom line: Jersey Shore water was much dirtier 30 or 40 years ago. But some Jersey Shore towns still need serious help improving their water infrastructure. Read below to learn how they can fix that.

Dig deeper → 4 min

  1. Better Brands
  2. Better Business
  3. Business
  4. Profit
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Big picture: GM announced plans to release an electric Hummer in 2023. It got me thinking, is it time to make the switch to electric vehicles?

Benefit of electric vehicles:

  1. Lower carbon footprint... social impact ✓
  2. Lower maintenance costs... convenience factor ✓
  3. Tax credits... financial incentive ✓

Cost of electric vehicles:

  1. EVs require minerals like cobalt and lithium to function. Mineral mining is a tough industry with poor standards in developing countries like Bolivia and Chile. Organizations are working to change that.
  2. Electric vehicles have a limited driving range compared to their gas cousins. You may find yourself charging up more than usual.
  3. High sticker prices: The average price of a new electric vehicle is almost double the price of a gas car.
  4. Limited amount of charging stations: this is a tricky one, because there are still more charging stations per EV on the road than there are gas stations for gas cars. Unless you go on a road trip, most of your charging will probably be at home anyway.

Bottom line: With billions of dollars flowing in, electric vehicles are not only here to stay, they are booming.

If you 1) need a car in your life 2) want to be a part of a cleaner future and 3) can afford the extra monthly cost (for now), then making a switch to electric vehicles is the right thing to do.

Dig deeper ➝ 3 min

  1. Better Markets
  2. People
  3. Politics and Policy
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The scoop: Overpopulation is a myth... because Jack Ma and Elon Musk said so. On a more serious note, a population collapse is more likely than an overpopulated planet.

Some talking points for the dinner table:

  1. Overcrowded cities ≠ overcrowded planet. The entire world population can fit in the state of Texas with the same population density as Manhattan.
  2. Lopsided populations will inevitably occur in modern advanced nations. That means young workers will be unable to support aging populations, causing natural population declines.
  3. 'Malthusian traps' refer to inevitable food shortages as populations grow. Either Malthus was right and some of us go hungry (as in we don't need to artificially halt population growth), or he's wrong and the population keeps growing sustainably through innovation.

Bottom line: The Earth has plenty to offer for 9 billion mouths. And a sustained population decline due to lower fertility rates is already becoming a realistic outcome. We just need to spread out more.

Dig deeper → 2 min

  1. Better Business
  2. Business
  3. Profit
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The scoop: Food takeout and delivery accounts for considerable waste. About 29% of all greenhouse emissions come from packaging. And food takeout uses a lot of packaging.

Takeout packaging: You want a burrito? Let me wrap that in foil for you. Here's some plastic utensils and paper napkins wrapped in plastic to go along with your hand-held meal. Ok, now here are three packs of ketchup and hot sauce you didn't ask for because you have condiments at home. Let me put that in a paper bag placed in a plastic bag for you... even though you are about to eat it.

Sustainable solutions: Reduce and reuse. Buy in bulk. Use bulk alternatives when on the go. Shop at restaurants that use sustainable alternatives like plant fibers for their packaging. If you have a good relationship with your local food business, talk to them about affordable options.

Dig deeper → 3 min

  1. Animals
  2. Energy and Environment
  3. Land
  4. Planet
  5. Science
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The scoop: 40% of insect species are at risk of extinction.

Why it matters: We need bugs to survive and thrive.

  • Pollination: Pollinators pollinate plants; we need them to keep doing that.
  • Pest control: Paradoxically, predatory and parasitic insects kill pests.
  • Decomposition: Some insects are primary or secondary decomposers. They serve an important function to clean-up animal waste.
  • Food security: Many mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians depend on bugs for food. They are a quick and easy resource for a nutritious meal.
  • Research and innovation: Technology mimics nature (think birds and planes). Researchers can observe the ethology of insects and learn new ways to innovate. An example? Ant colony optimization in computer science.

What's causing the insect decline: Habitat loss from agriculture and urbanization is the #1 driver. Agro-chemical pollutants (think pesticides), invasive species and climate change also play a role. You can check out some cool charts and figures below to learn more.

How to help: Contribute to the fight against pesticides, support or start a small farm, and educate others about the importance of insects. A more positive perception of 'bug people' can also lead to change.

Bottom line: We need bugs to survive, yet insect populations are on the decline. This issue deserves more recognition.

Dig deeper → 4 min

  1. Animals
  2. Lifestyle
  3. People
  4. Thinking
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The report: A 2016 study of over 8,000 threatened or near-threatened species found that over-exploitation and agricultural activity posed a much greater threat to biodiversity than climate change.

Why it matters: Climate change is long-term and abstract. But it also gets all the breaking news coverage. In reality, harsh trends like deforestation and poaching pose immediate threats to wildlife. They need urgent attention, too.

These tangible problems deserve similar attention to carbon emissions. Most ESG funds pour cash into (trendy) clean energy while critical species face extinction from other causes.

Sustainable suggestion: Environmental solutions should be more well-rounded. How can we work more cooperatively with intersecting threats like wildfire risk mitigation and ecological restoration, for example.

A forestry organization may want to clean-up deadwood to prevent harsher wildfires, but a conservation group will sue them for cutting down a sacred forest. A conservation group may want to support hunting an invasive species , but an animal rights group will publicly condemn them.

Organizations with differing philosophies should work more closely through coalitions and associations to understand their perspectives.

Bottom line: Climate change is important, and intersects with basically every ecological issue. Not arguing we should take it less seriously. But that behemoth threat will be much easier to manage if we knock off smaller issues that we see, touch and feel.

We need smarter farming, more responsible animal agriculture, accountability for commercial hunting, fishing and logging. We need more stringent land protection in sensitive areas of the developing world. It's as important as climate change.

Dig deeper → 3 min

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