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FC97: Mr Electrico

Plus, hot qubits, magic mushrooms, Nicolas Jaar, and good news on coal financing in Japan, a Green New Deal in South Korea, and white-tailed eagles in Britain.

Angus Hervey

Good news you might not have heard about


Coal continues its collapse in the EU, falling by 25.5% in the first quarter of 2020, and Austria has become the second European country to exit coal altogether, shutting down its last coal-fired power plant last week. Euractiv

The three largest banks in Japan - the #2 financier of new coal overseas - have just announced they will stop financing new coal power projects. Straits Times

South Korea has become the first Asian country to set a 2050 net zero emissions goal, following a landslide win by its Democratic Party. Electrek

German officials have agreed on an ‘eco-scrappage program’ to promote the uptake of electric vehicles in the country’s post-pandemic economy. Electrek

Poland and Denmark are refusing to bail out organisations based in tax havens, saying assistance will only go to companies paying domestic business taxes. BI

Saudi Arabia has abolished the practice of flogging convicts, and a day later, banned the death sentence for minors. DW

Virginia has become the first Southern state to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people for housing, employment and credit applications. The Hill

Virginia’s governor has also signed new gun controls that increase background checks, limit handgun purchases and establish ‘red flag’ laws. USA Today

A five year old ban preventing pregnant teenagers from attending school in Sierra Leone has been reversed by a new administration. Via News

France will require that all new public buildings must be made at least 50% from wood or other sustainable materials from 2022. Archinect

Remember the insect apocalypse? A new study says the picture is more mixed. While land species have declined by 9% per decade, freshwater species have risen by 11%, possibly due to efforts to clean up rivers and lakes. Science

After disappearing in England in the early 20th century, white-tailed eagles are back, thanks to a pioneering rewilding project. Country Living

Thanks to unprecedented conservation efforts, the number of black rhinos in Africa increased from an estimated 4,845 in 2012 to 5,630 in 2018. Phys.org

Black rhinos. A mother and baby black rhino in Lewa Conservancy ...
A mother and baby black rhino in Lewa Conservancy, Kenya, one of the world’s leaders in conservation and anti-poaching. Image credit: Unsplash/David Clode

Indistinguishable from magic


Marine biologists have documented 30 new species in the deep sea off Australia’s coast, including the longest animal ever discovered. Guardian

While we’ve all been on lockdown, three records have been broken in solar panel efficiency - including conversion at 47.1% efficiency.

Researchers in California have created nanolattices - nanometer-sized carbon structures that are stronger than diamonds. Eureka

Physicists in Sydney have managed to make qubits work at 1.5 Kelvin - ten times warmer than previous quantum computing efforts, and millions of dollars less expensive. Popular Mechanics

A court in Shenzhen recently ruled that an article written by an algorithm qualified for copyright protection. Ecns.cn

Neuroscientists have analysed the connectomes of people on magic mushrooms, and shown that psilocybin destabilises well-trodden paths through the brain, creating a more ‘global’ network. Inverse

A mad genius has come up with a completely new approach to physics, and if it was anyone other than Stephen Wolfram, we’d be ignoring them. Wired

The information superhighway is still awesome


Hard to believe that Nicolas Jaar’s legendary BBC Essential Mix is now eight years old. Still feels as fresh as the day it dropped. Soundcloud

Rebecca Solnit on hope. “I often think of these times as akin to a spring thaw, as if the pack ice has broken up, and the water starts flowing again.” Guardian

Matt Taibbi has gone full time on Substack. Arguably the best financial journalist alive, his work is going to be more important now than ever.

An insanely detailed account of how one person built herself a Weird Internet Career. If you’re looking to do the same, you’ll find plenty of good advice.

If you haven’t read it yet, go and read it. Arundhati Roy’s blistering account of the coronavirus in India. Financial Times

Marc Andreessen has just published his first big essay in almost a decade. He says it’s time to build. The question is - what? a16z (+ bonus climate edition)

Ray Bradbury ends this interview with an answer that starts in our world, opens a trapdoor in the fabric of reality itself, and surges into an elemental realm of cosmic myth. Genuine magic. Boing Boing


Alright, we’re all done here.

We know these last few editions have been heavy going, thanks for hanging in there with us as we try to re-establish our bearings. We’re spending a lot of time researching and thinking a way out of this mess, and you’re watching our thought process unfold as it happens. We really appreciate you joining us on this journey.

Let us know in the comment section what you think. Are we wrong? Are we right? How bad, really, are the attempts at humour? And where the hell does Mr Electrico fit into all of it?

Big love,

Gus, Tane and the rest of the gang.


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