Today’s summaries save you 1 hour of news reading!
Nuclear energy is going through a glow up
Tue Mar 22
Silicon Valley is betting big on nuclear energy, with increased attention arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, climate change, and the outsized impact of fossil fuel pollution on marginalized communities. Our initial reaction often stems from fear and doubt from this 24-hour emissions-free power source, but tech billionaires and venture capitalists are fearlessly funding dozens of nuclear power startups that are promising safer, cheaper, more efficient nuclear power.
But will these promises overcome public fear? Despite being backed by big names — such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk — infamous disasters like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island have shown the public how nuclear power plants can fail and turn a thriving city into a lethal wasteland. Not to mention the nuclear power plants that cost so much time, effort, and money in construction that they have soured appetites for nuclear energy.
So could nuclear energy ever be good enough? This crop of nuclear startups boasts new cooling and storage advancements that allow for smaller reactors, which can be cheaper and more efficient. There’s also a batch of startups that are less market-ready, but still getting plenty of attention with claims that they’re close to cracking nuclear fusion, a nuclear production process that leaves behind no hazardous waste and produces many times more power than nuclear fission (the process used today).
Of course, the budding startups are not without their naysayers who are unimpressed with the claims of innovation and technological advances, saying they’re trading problems rather than actually being safer overall. Some are also dubious of the marketed timelines and claim government funds supporting these new advanced nuclear reactors should go towards improving current reactors instead. The U.S. government isn’t alone in funding attempts with nuclear energy innovations, though, especially as countries dependent on Russian fuel seek to cut ties.
Miami’s (spring) breaking point on gun violence
Tue Mar 22
In case you missed it: There were nine mass shootings in the U.S. in just one week in March. Ironically, the rapid rise in gun violence has led to less awareness, as it becomes almost too normal to be headline news. Today we’re focusing on Miami, where the struggle between tackling gun violence and discrimination have become muddled.
During spring break, Miami experienced five shootings in one week. The city responded by instituting a curfew and declaring a state of emergency. While Miami police say this helps the many officers exhausted by the crowds and rise in gun violence, Black community leaders say this response has less to do with spring break violence and more to do with a history of tension between visiting Black tourists and local white residents. Not only has gun violence surged in the pandemic (making spring break less of an outlier), but heavy handed enforcement seems to occur when Black students are visiting in high numbers, i.e. spring break. For example, spring break last year prompted a law allowing police to arrest anyone who got too close to them. Black activist leaders say it was used to primarily arrest Black people recording police.
In fact, over half of recent spring break arrests have been of local residents, meaning the city cannot blame the rowdiness and violence on visiting spring breakers. This is being cited as further evidence that Black students are being unfairly targeted.
Outside the debate on race is the impact on local businesses, such as lost business due to restrictions on the sale of alcohol in certain locations. Local businesses also claim the city is trying to move away from its partying reputation, which damages the high-profit season for many hospitality and food service businesses.
Below the Fold Bytes
A Threat to In-Person Learning
Teachers are overworked, underpaid, and insulted by parents, administrators, and even politicians. So why stick around? Well, they’re not. Consequently, schools are scrambling to stay open. Many may point to programs and grants that aim to help solve this issue, yet none address the fundamental problems to provide any relief. While this trend isn’t new,the pandemic made the profession intolerable from unmanageable classes (one had to teach a high school class of 194 — virtually) to abuse from parents and politics bleeding into the classroom. >> Read More
To Prevent War, Monkey Around
New research on Howler monkeys show an interesting conflict prevention behavior: play. Howler monkeys are generally inactive, but researchers observed adult Howlers engaging in energy-intensive play with other adults, increasing their play time in line with both group size and time spent foraging for fruit (a highly prized, scarce resource). Researchers concluded that the Howlers play for the same reason that other monkeys groom each other: reduce group tension. Clearly these Howler monkeys aren’t playing games like Monopoly. >> Read More
🎬 Action of the Week
Interested in becoming a nuclear advocate? The Nuclear Energy Institute provides a number of ways to take action, from getting your opinions heard to political involvement.
- Vice: Miami gun violence 10 days old | 8 minutes long
- Miami Herald: Shedding its party reputation 1 week old | 7 minutes long
- Washington Post: Response to restrictions 9 days old | 11 minutes long
- Bloomberg: Tech billionaires go nuclear 10 days old | 6 minutes long
- Scientific American: New nuclear is all hype 8 months old | 4 minutes long
- Yale Climate Connections: New nuclear is worth it 2 years old | 10 minutes long
- EPA: Fossil fuel emissions 1 year old | 7 minutes long
- OilPrice.com: Holy grail of energy 7 months old | 3 minutes long
ASCII-ing About the News
_.-^^---....,,-- _-- --_ < >) | | \._ _./ ```--. . , ; .--''' | | | .-=|| | |=-. `-=#$%&%$#=-' | ; :| _____.,-#%&$@%#&#~,._____ What did you do?! You said to go nuclear! I said to go with nuclear energy! Art Credit: ASCII Art Archive