By Stuart N. Brotman – The growing restrictions on internet freedom around the world are easy to document; less so any visible American strategy that would reverse the ominous trends at hand.
According to its most recent annual report in this area, Freedom on the Net 2016, two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under government censorship. Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.
The types of blocked content include political communication aimed at promoting democratic values, such as online petitions and calls for public protests. Even satire can be punished severely: a 22-year old in Egypt was imprisoned for three years after photo-shopping Mickey Mouse ears on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Unfortunately, this type of criminal penalty is hardly unique.
Overall, Freedom House deemed only 17 surveyed countries to have real internet freedom; 28 were partly free and 20 were characterized as not free. The leading bad state actors should not be surprising: China, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan and Cuba (North Korea was not included in the survey, alas).
The U.S. would be hurt if the marketplace of ideas and the online commercial marketplace that thrive here are diminished overseas.
However, there has been radio silence to date about this issue from the White House and the Department of State. more> https://goo.gl/msTcLz
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, CONGRESS WATCH, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Net
Tagged Digital privacy, First Amendment Rights, Government, Internet freedom, Repression, Surveillance state
Renewable Energy Makes Things Tough On The Grid, But New Software Could Help
By Bruce Watson – In 2016, more than two-thirds of power in Europe came from nonrenewable sources. Globally, renewables are expected to reach parity with coal and gas around 2040.
Nevertheless, the speed with which intermittent renewables — the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow — are coming on board is making it harder for European utilities to balance the grid. That’s because the grid, as large as it is, is also a delicate system where supply must match demand at all times or there’s a risk of blackouts.
In France, for example, strong winds in the north mixed with a sunny week on the Riviera in the south can lead to a surfeit of electricity that puts the balance at risk.
The intermittency also makes profits hard to find, with European utilities on average struggling to increase profits 1 percent in 2016. Countries around the world are watching how Europe uses thermal generation to keep the grid balanced; prioritizes low-cost, clean and renewable energy; and keeps utilities profitable amid a rapidly changing energy network. more> https://goo.gl/iC532f
Posted in Broadband, Communication industry, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Nature, Technology
Tagged Black out, Climate change, Electricity grid, GE, Power generation, Renewal energy
The Time To Invent The Technologies That Will Power Our Future Is Now
By David Danielson – The year 2050 sounds pretty far away, doesn’t it? But in terms of the world our children and grandchildren will inherit, 2050 is today: it’s right around the corner.
By 2050, there will be almost 10 billion people on Earth, one-third more than there are today, with essentially all of this population growth predicted to be in currently less-wealthy nations around the world. And the approximately 9 billion people living in these nations in 2050 will be hungry to consume more energy, requiring an almost doubling of energy usage per person to achieve a good standard of living by some estimates.
At the same time, the world’s best scientists have determined that we must simultaneously reduce our global greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent or more by 2050, relative to today’s levels, in order to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change.
Scaling and improving today’s clean energy technologies can take us part of the way to the future we all want. Technologies like wind power, solar power, LEDs, electric vehicle batteries, and many others are already rapidly approaching widespread cost-competitiveness with traditional forms of energy.
But these technologies alone will not be enough: it has become clear now that to provide universal energy access around the world while simultaneously achieving required emissions reductions, we must unleash an unprecedented Energy Innovation Revolution today – and over the next few years – to develop the transformative new energy technologies that will be needed to close the gap between the 2050 we are headed for and the 2050 we want. more> https://goo.gl/57jCZr
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Energy & emissions, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Clean energy, Climate change, GE, Paris Agreement, Population
Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die, Author: Garrett Graff.
By Mahita Gajanan – Raven Rock is the name of the military installation built in the late 1940s near Camp David, in case of disaster during the Cold War. As Graff’s subtitle indicates, not everyone was invited to take shelter.
“It’s too hard to keep people scared enough that every family will have a shelter,” Graff said. “The planners were like, ‘This is going to be too much to save America. So, we’re going to try to figure out how to save the idea of America.'”
As we think about Russia and North Korea, these questions are more relevant today,” he said. “We just don’t know what [Trump] is doing or who might be appointed to some of these secret roles after a catastrophic incident.”
Graff said plans for a nuclear disaster today “absolutely exist,” although they remain classified. more> https://goo.gl/G1DnyD
Posted in Book review, CONGRESS WATCH, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, History, Leadership, Media, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Catastrophe, Earth, Ecology, Government, Leadership, United States