even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Worldwide Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Industry to 2027 – Key Drivers and Challenges – ResearchAndMarkets.com

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Global Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market By Component (Anti-Reflective Coating, Silicon wafers, Passivation layer, Capping Layer, Others), By Type (Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, Thin Film), By Application, By Region, Competition, Forecast and Opportunities , 2017-2027” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.

The global passivated emitter rear cell market is projected to register a significant CAGR during the forecast years, 2023-2027. Increasing demand for better and more efficient energy storage solutions to meet the growing energy requirement worldwide is the primary driver for the global passivated emitter rear cell market.

Solar panels with passivated emitter rear cells (PERCs) contain an extra layer covering the typical solar cells’ backs, increasing the efficiency and output of electrical energy from solar radiation. The safety of the solar panels can be enhanced by using PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) modules.

These modules are able to reduce back recombination and prevent longer-wavelength solar light from turning into heat energy, both of which are detrimental to the device and its performance. Market players are continuously making high-end investments in research and development activities to find new innovative solutions and upgrade the existing infrastructure.

Further improvements to the device are being made to lower installation and maintenance costs in addition to improving its efficiency. Modern PERC panels make better use of available space and operate more efficiently even when fewer panels are put in, which reduces installation time and expense.

The global passivated emitter rear cell market segmentation is based on component, type, application, regional distribution, and competitive landscape. Based on type, the market is divided into monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. The monocrystalline segment is expected to hold the largest market share during the forecast period, 2023-2027.

Monocrystalline passivated emitter rear cell is a combination of single-crystal cell, passivated emitter cell, and back cell. The solar panel provides high flexibility and has various placements viability & tilt options without compromising efficiency. Monocrystalline passivated emitter rear cells are also efficient in case of low lighting; thus, regions such as Europe can effectively use these for power generation.

Years considered for this report:

Objective of the Study:

Companies Mentioned

Report Scope:

In this report, global passivated emitter rear cell market has been segmented into the following categories, in addition to the industry trends which have also been detailed below:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Component:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Type:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Application:

Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Region:

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/n6onw8

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Nord Stream Gas Leaks Raise Suspicions of Sabotage

Credit…Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Suspicious leaks in two gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea caused a sudden drop in pressure on Monday, raising concerns about possible sabotage and prompting the authorities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden to investigate.

Sweden’s national seismic network said it detected two large undersea explosions on Monday near the locations of the leaks. Neither of the pipelines — Nord Stream 1 and 2 — had been active, but they were filled with gas when there was a sharp drop in pressure, first registered on Monday.

Footage released by the Danish Defense Command showed a swirling mass of methane bubbling up onto the surface of the Baltic Sea. Officials in Denmark raised its security alerts at electricity and gas facilities around the country.

Speculation immediately fell on Russia, which denied responsibility. The leaks underscored the vulnerability of Europe’s energy infrastructure, even as the continent tries to wean itself off supplies from the Russia as punishment for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister, blamed Russia for the leaks, saying they were an attempt to further destabilize Europe’s energy security. He spoke at the launch of a new undersea pipeline that connects Poland to Norway through Denmark.

“We do not know the details of what happened yet, but we can clearly see that it is an act of sabotage,” Mr. Morawiecki said. “An act that probably marks the next stage in the escalation of this situation in Ukraine.”

Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said that sabotage could not be ruled out. “It is too early to conclude yet, but it is an extraordinary situation,” she said during a visit to Poland to inaugurate the pipeline from Norway.

“There is talk of three leaks, and therefore it is difficult to imagine that it could be accidental,” she said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, said on Twitter that the leaks were “a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards E.U.”

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said of the leaks that “no possibility can be ruled out,” but the Russian state media sought to blame the United States and Ukraine. The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported that Washington “is an active opponent of Russian gas supplies to Europe,” and said that Ukraine opposed Nord Stream 2 because it “was afraid of losing revenues from the transit of Russian gas.”

Credit…Planet Labs

It was not immediately clear who would benefit from ruptures in the pipelines, which were not in operation. The leaks were found at different points on two branches of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and one branch of Nord Stream 2, Danish and Swedish officials said. They warned ships to avoid the affected areas.

The pipelines have been a focal point of the broader confrontation between Russia and Europe. After the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia to penalize it for invading Ukraine in February, Russia began withholding the natural gas that for decades it had sent to Europe, threatening the continent’s energy supply as winter looms.

The governments in Denmark and Germany both said the leaks would not affect natural gas supplies in their countries. Gazprom had already halted nearly all deliveries of natural gas to Europe, through Nord Stream 1 as well as all but one of several overland pipelines, and European countries have turned to other suppliers, including Norway, to meet their energy needs.

But the incident made clear how vulnerable energy infrastructure could be. Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority warned on Monday that unidentified drones had been sighted recently near its offshore oil and gas facilities, raising concerns of possible explosions, helicopter collisions or of “deliberate attacks.” It called for “increased vigilance by all operators and vessel owners,” citing the heightened security concerns following recent threats by Russia linked to its war in Ukraine.

Russia’s Gazprom halted deliveries through Nord Stream 1 indefinitely earlier this month, as part of a continuing dispute with Germany over gas deliveries. The pipeline is made up of about 100,000 concrete-coated steel pipes designed to withstand the change in pressure the gas undergoes on the 760-mile journey from Russia to Germany. They lie on the floor of the Baltic Sea.

Nord Stream 2 was never put into operation after Germany canceled its certification on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Senators and members of Congress had lobbied for years to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2. After Germany halted certification, President Biden imposed sanctions on the Russian-owned operator of the pipeline.

Monika Pronczuk, Oleg Matsnev and Torben Brooks contributed reporting.

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Call Center Technology Could Remove Accents From Customer Service

By Newsy Staff
September 14, 2022

New AI technology for call centers can essentially remove foreign accents on phone calls, but does this perpetuate discrimination issues?

When calling customer service and actually reaching a real human, it’s likely people end up speaking to someone outside of the U.S. about a domestic issue.

It’s no secret many companies outsource their customer service to call centers around the globe. Sometimes, it’s the representative’s accent that lets the customer know they aren’t stateside.

But one startup has plans to hide foreign accent completely.

It’s a controversial idea, creating a new debate around accents: On the one hand, this could help protect workers from discrimination. On the other hand, skeptics argue it could actually exacerbate existing problems with discrimination.

Accent training for call centers is already standard procedure. Workers are usually trained in a number of different English-speaking accents. The BBC reported on one company that trained workers both in their speaking accents and in understanding accents, like New Yorker, Jamaican and even Medieval English accents.

One of the apparent benefits of using tech that neutralizes accents means it could save companies from a rigorous training process. The other major goal is protecting workers from discrimination. 

One of the founders of Sanas, who is a former call center worker, told the Guardian, “I built this technology for the agents, because I don’t want him or her to go through what I went through.”

Unsurprisingly, call centers are magnets for all kinds of accent discrimination from callers. Accents are a huge factor in how we perceive identity and form prejudices. They can be associated with cultural background, nationality or even class and education.

Some research has shown accents can play an even more important role in how humans judge based on looks and how humans respond to non-native accents differently: In one study, native English speakers rated recordings of different accents saying statements like “Ants don’t sleep,” but the results showed the English speakers rated the statements said with the heaviest accents as the least true. In other words, they trusted them less.

It might be easy to point to studies like this as evidence that accent bias is just unavoidable, but experts say it seems more like the other way around: Stereotypes are what shape how we respond to certain accents in the first place.

Some studies show that native U.S. English speakers trust British accents more than Indian accents, regardless of how strong it is, or that Mexican and Greek accents were seen as “less intelligent or professional” than people using standard U.S. English. 

This isn’t just the U.S. Many countries in Europe, like Sweden or Denmark, have dialects referred to as “street language” or “street dialects.” But these are often used by immigrant communities and are seen as “less refined.”

Some language experts suggest exposure to more accents can actually help combat harmful stereotypes, which circles back to why some critics have raised eyebrows at the call center technology.

It can seem like erasing accents and identity might be a step backwards to some, but not for others like call center workers, who might find some relief in technology like this.

Source: newsy.com

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How Different Sex Education Methods Affect Students Around The World

Gaps in sex ed in the U.S. can leave students in the dark, while other countries have programs that positively affect student health and knowledge.

Across the nation, students have vastly different experiences learning about a somewhat taboo but super important health topic: sexual health education, or sex ed.

According to Sex Ed for Social Change, or SIECUS, 29 states and D.C. mandate sex ed as of July 2022. But 17 of those states require that abstinence be stressed, and only 11 of them require the curriculum to be medically accurate. Some states choose to leave discussions around healthy relationships, contraception and sexual orientation out of the conversation entirely.  

“Due to the lack of guidance and policy implementation at the federal level, the United States has a patchwork of laws that vary, which determine what and if sex education is being taught,” said Michelle Slaybaugh, director of social impact and strategic communications at SIECUS. “When it comes to education, policy, decisions have largely been left to local control, So we’re talking very local at the school board level, not even the city or state level. It’s very, very local.” 

Currently at the federal level, SIECUS is one group working to get the Real Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act passed. This legislation promotes comprehensive sex ed, which means giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices about their sexual lives, and the act makes sure access to this education is protected.

In March, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, but funding for comprehensive sex ed programs is not included.

On the state level, according to the SIECUS mid-year report, the number of bills introduced this year aimed at restricting sex ed was almost equal to the number of bills introduced advancing sex ed. But more regressive bills were passed in states this legislative session than progressive ones.

“I think there is this big myth that if we teach young people about sex, that they’re going to go and have it,” Slaybaugh said. “The evidence does not show that. Additionally, I think it is very important for us to understand that age appropriate or developmentally appropriate sex education is key.”

A Georgetown University study shows that sex ed helps with a lot of things, like preventing unplanned pregnancy, maternal death, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. But a survey from the Public Religion Institute found that nearly a quarter of millennials were not taught sex ed in middle or high school.

There is also a big gap in sex ed that’s inclusive and talks about LGBTQ+ identities. Less than 10% of LGBTQ+ students say their school’s sex ed is inclusive. When talking about gender identity and orientation, this is sometimes where curriculum can become “medically inaccurate.” 

“Medically accurate sex education is vital to promoting long term health outcomes, and a part of that, which I think is really where we’re seeing the rub, is this idea of gender norms, gender stereotypes and orientation,” Slaybaugh said. 

Florida in particular has become a bit of a hotspot when it comes to sex ed and what can or should be taught. New laws there, like what critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits discussion of sexuality and gender identity for some elementary students.

Katie Lagrone, a correspondent at Newsy’s sister station in Tampa, Florida explains a confusing mix of standards on whether the new laws are altering old policies on sex ed.

“In Florida, while laws mandate health education include teen dating and disease control, we discovered there’s actually no statewide curriculum for sex education,” Lagrone said. “What and how students are taught about sexual and reproductive health is left to individual school boards who approve policies, principals who interpret them and instructors who ultimately drill it down for students. What’s more… we found about a one-third of Florida’s 67 school districts are teaching students, even high schoolers, abstinence only.”

Studies show abstinence-only instruction doesn’t prevent teens from having sex. In fact, a 2019 study by the CDC found by the 12th grade, more than half of Florida teens surveyed have already engaged in sexual intercourse, with some STD rates among teens in Florida being four times higher than the national average.

In some counties that have adopted this abstinence-only teaching method in Florida, teen birth rates are actually higher. One district spokesperson told Newsy these limits are because they “are respectful of parents rights.”

Elsewhere in the world, some countries have been recognized for comprehensive sex ed programs that help combat these issues, especially in Europe.

In the Netherlands, it’s required by law that all primary school students are taught sex ed. It starts as early as 4-years-old, but they’re not talking about the full birds and the bees at that age. They are simply covering the basics of healthy relationships.

In the U.S., some people argue that that is too young to be teaching sex ed, but three decades of research shows that sex ed can help prevent child abuse.

On average, teens in the Netherlands are also waiting longer to have sex when compared to Europe or the U.S. Researchers found that most young people in the Netherlands had “wanted and fun” first sexual experiences, while many American teens said they wished they waited longer to have sex for the first time.

The Netherlands has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world. Dutch teens are some of the most likely to use birth control pills, though part of that could be because contraception is easily accessible.

The Netherlands also works to educate parents on how to talk to their kids about sex to help get everyone on the same page.

In Denmark, for a long time, their sex ed program emphasized preventing unplanned pregnancy and promoting safe sex. In 2015, the country’s birth rate fell below the rate necessary to maintain population, and Danish officials went as far as actually encouraging people to have babies at a younger age. At the time, only point 5% of teen girls in Denmark had a baby. That rate was six times higher in the United States.

In recent years, the birth rate has started to rise again. While neither Denmark nor any country has a perfect system, they experienced some outcomes that other places could learn from.  

This highlights good models for comprehensive sex ed, but there are also other countries, like the U.S., where it isn’t widely taught, there are inconsistencies or it’s not available at all. Experts stress the importance of making sure students have the information necessary to live healthy lives.  

“We really need to push for something that is rooted in age-appropriate, medically-accurate and affirming content that is taught by trained educators to be able to deliver the most comprehensive and age-appropriate education around sexuality as possible,” Slaybaugh said.

Source: newsy.com

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Russia’s Unfounded Claims of Secret U.S. Bioweapons Linger On and On

The United States secretly manufactured biological weapons in Ukraine. It trained birds to carry pathogens into Russia. It created Covid-19. It operated laboratories in Nigeria that engineered this year’s outbreak of monkeypox.

Of the many falsehoods that the Kremlin has spread since the war in Ukraine began more than six months ago, some of the most outlandish and yet enduring have been those accusing the United States of operating clandestine biological research programs to wreak havoc around the globe.

The United States and others have dismissed the accusations as preposterous, and Russia has offered no proof. Yet the claims continue to circulate. Backed at times by China’s diplomats and state media, they have ebbed and flowed in international news reports, fueling conspiracy theories that linger online.

international treaty that since 1975 has barred the development and use of weapons made of biological toxins or pathogens, gives member nations the authority to request a formal hearing of violations, and Russia has invoked the first one in a quarter-century.

the origins of Covid-19 has.

“The message is constantly about these labs, and that will erode confidence in that infrastructure and the work that’s being performed,” said Filippa Lentzos, an expert on biological threats and security at King’s College London. “And it will significantly undermine global biosafety and biosecurity efforts, so it does have consequences.”

Russia added the outbreak of monkeypox to its list of American transgressions in April. Gen. Igor A. Kirillov, the head of the Russian Army’s radiological, chemical and biological defense force, insinuated that the United States had started the latest outbreak because it supported four research laboratories in Nigeria where the epidemic began to spread.

In the months after the general’s comments, there were nearly 4,000 articles in Russian media, many of them shared on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, according to research conducted by Zignal Labs for The New York Times.

For evidence of a conspiracy, some of the Russian reports pointed to a simulation in 2021 at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of defense officials and experts from around the world. The simulation, intended to test how well countries would contain a new pandemic, posited a hypothetical monkeypox outbreak that began in a fictional country called Brinia and caused 270 million deaths.

a statement in May trying to tamp down any misconception.

routinely amplifies Russian claims about the war with Ukraine and about secret biological weapons research, as part of its own information battle with the United States that began with the debate over the spread of Covid-19.

China’s heavily censored internet, which aggressively stifles unwelcome political opinions, has also freely circulated conspiracy theories about a possible American role in the spread of monkeypox, as Bloomberg reported.

Russia’s efforts to push the claims about biological weapons come from an old Russia propaganda playbook, adapted to the age of social media.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation called the Russian strategy a “fire hose of falsehood,” inundating the public with huge numbers of claims that are designed to deflect attention and cause confusion and distrust as much as to provide an alternative point of view.

died on Tuesday, that it would hurt newly warming relations with the West.

Russia’s propaganda model today has been adapted to take advantage of “technology and available media in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War,” according to the RAND study.

Despite “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions” and a disregard of consistency, the strategy can often be persuasive to some, especially those who have preconceived biases, one of the authors, Christopher Paul, said in an interview.

“There are still people who believe the C.I.A. caused AIDS in Africa, even though that idea has been thoroughly debunked,” Mr. Paul said. “Not many, but some.”

Like many disinformation campaigns, Russia’s accusations on occasion have a passing relationship to facts.

Even before the war in Ukraine, Russia raised alarms about U.S. efforts to establish closer defense and research ties with several of Russia’s neighbors, including other former republics of the Soviet Union.

invoked a special session was in 1997, when Cuba accused the United States of spraying a plume of insects over the country’s crops, causing a devastating infestation.

The proceedings were not public, but several nations later submitted written observations about Cuba’s claims and the United States’ rebuttal. Only North Korea supported Cuba’s claim. Eight countries — Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand — concluded there was no link. China and Vietnam said it was impossible to determine. (Russia submitted no response.)

“There’s a big silent majority that just wants to sit on the fence,” Dr. Lentzos said. “They don’t really want to take a side because it could hurt their interests either way. And so the big question is not ‘Do these guys believe it, or not?’ It’s to what extent are they motivated to act on it and speak out.”

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Inflation Hits Record 9.1% In Countries Using The Euro

By Associated Press
August 31, 2022

In the 19 countries using the euro currency, inflation rose 0.2% from a record high 8.9% in July, according to the EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Inflation in the European countries using the euro currency hit another record in August, fueled by soaring energy prices mainly driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Annual inflation in the eurozone’s 19 countries rose to 9.1%, up from 8.9% in July, according to the latest figures released Wednesday by the European Union statistics agency Eurostat.

Inflation is at the highest levels since record-keeping for the euro began in 1997. The latest figures add pressure on European Central Bank officials to continue raising interest rates, which can tame inflation, but also stifle economic growth.

Prices are rising in many other countries as Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on, triggering unprecedented increases for energy and food that are squeezing household finances. Disruptions to global manufacturing supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic have also played a role in pushing up prices. This summer has seen a wave of protests and strikes around the world by workers pushing for higher wages and people fed up with the high cost of living.

Inflation in Britain, Denmark and Norway, which have their own currencies, is also surging, according to official data released earlier this month. U.K. residents face an 80% jump in annual household energy bills, regulators warned last week.

Inflation is also high in the U.S., adding urgency for the Fed to keep raising interest rates. Prices were up 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, thought that was lower than 9.1% in June.

In the eurozone, energy prices surged 38.3%, though the rate was slightly lower than the previous month, while food prices rose at a faster pace of 10.6%, according to Eurostat’s preliminary estimate. The agency’s final report, released about two weeks later, is usually unchanged.

Russia, a major energy producer, has been reducing the flow of gas to European countries that have sided with Ukraine in the war, a move that’s wreaked havoc with prices.

At the same time, nearly half of Europe has been afflicted by an unprecedented drought that’s hurting farm economies, crimping production of staple crops like corn, and driving up food prices.

Price rises for manufactured goods like clothing, appliances, cars, computers and books accelerated to 5%, and the cost of services rose 3.8%. The euro’s weakness is another factor keeping prices high. 

The currency has slipped below parity with the dollar, which can make imported goods more costly, particularly oil, which is priced in dollars.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Pace of Climate Change Sends Economists Back to Drawing Board

Economists have been examining the impact of climate change for almost as long as it’s been known to science.

In the 1970s, the Yale economist William Nordhaus began constructing a model meant to gauge the effect of warming on economic growth. The work, first published in 1992, gave rise to a field of scholarship assessing the cost to society of each ton of emitted carbon offset by the benefits of cheap power — and thus how much it was worth paying to avert it.

Dr. Nordhaus became a leading voice for a nationwide carbon tax that would discourage the use of fossil fuels and propel a transition toward more sustainable forms of energy. It remained the preferred choice of economists and business interests for decades. And in 2018, Dr. Nordhaus was honored with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Inflation Reduction Act with its $392 billion in climate-related subsidies, one thing became very clear: The nation’s biggest initiative to address climate change is built on a different foundation from the one Dr. Nordhaus proposed.

offers tax credits, loans and grants — technology-specific carrots that have historically been seen as less efficient than the stick of penalizing carbon emissions more broadly.

The outcome reflects a larger trend in public policy, one that is prompting economists to ponder why the profession was so focused on a solution that ultimately went nowhere in Congress — and how economists could be more useful as the damage from extreme weather mounts.

A central shift in thinking, many say, is that climate change has moved faster than foreseen, and in less predictable ways, raising the urgency of government intervention. In addition, technologies like solar panels and batteries are cheap and abundant enough to enable a fuller shift away from fossil fuels, rather than slightly decreasing their use.

Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, worked on developing carbon pricing methods at the Department of Energy. He thinks the relentless focus on prices, with little attention paid to direct investments, lasted too long.

California. But a federal measure in the United States, setting a cap on carbon emissions and letting companies trade their allotments, failed in 2010.

At the same time, Dr. Nordhaus’s model was drawing criticism for underestimating the havoc that climate change would wreak. Like other models, it has been revised several times, but it still relies on broad assumptions and places less value on harm to future generations than it places on harm to those today. It also doesn’t fully incorporate the risk of less likely but substantially worse trajectories of warming.

Dr. Nordhaus dismissed the criticisms. “They are all subjective and based on selective interpretation of science and economics,” he wrote in an email. “Some people hold these views, as would be expected in any controversial subject, but many others do not.”

Heather Boushey, a member of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers who handles climate issues, says the field is learning that simply tinkering with prices won’t be enough as the climate nears catastrophic tipping points, like the evaporation of rivers, choking off whole regions and setting off a cascade of economic effects.

“So much of economics is about marginal changes,” Dr. Boushey said. “With climate, that no longer makes sense, because you have these systemic risks.” She sees her current assignment as similar to her previous work, running a think tank focused on inequality: “It profoundly alters the way people think about economics.”

To many economists, the approach pioneered by Dr. Nordhaus was increasingly out of step with the urgency that climate scientists were trying to communicate to policymakers. But a carbon tax remained at the center of a bipartisan effort on climate change, supported by a panoply of large corporations and more than 3,600 economists, that also called for removing “cumbersome regulations.”

speech in 2018, Dr. Nordhaus pegged the “optimal” carbon price — that is, the shared economic burden caused by each ton of emissions — at $43 in 2020. Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at Columbia Business School, called it a “woeful underestimate of the true cost” — noting that the prize committee’s home country already taxed carbon at $120 per ton.

another tack. Carbon prices, they reasoned, tend to hit lower-income people hardest. Even if the proceeds funded rebates to taxpayers, as many proponents recommended, similar promises by supporters of trade liberalization — that people whose jobs went offshore would get help finding new ones in a faster-growing economy — proved illusory. Besides, without government investment in low-carbon infrastructure, many people would have no alternative to continued carbon use.

“You’re saying, ‘Things are going to cost more, but we aren’t going to give you help to live with that transition,’” said Rhiana Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute and an architect of the Green New Deal. “Gas prices can go up, but the fact is, most people are locked into how much they have to travel each day.”

At the same time, the cost of technologies like solar panels and batteries for electric vehicles — in part because of huge investments by the Chinese government — was dropping within the range that would allow them to be deployed at scale.

For Ryan Kellogg, an energy economist who worked as an analyst for the oil giant BP before getting his Ph.D., that was a key realization. Leaving an economics department for the public policy school at the University of Chicago, and working with an interdisciplinary consortium including climate scientists, impressed on him two things: that fossil fuels needed to be phased out much faster than previously thought, and that it could be done at lower cost.

Just in the utility sector, for example, Dr. Kellogg recently found that carbon taxes aren’t meaningfully more efficient than subsidies or clean electricity standards in driving a full transition to wind and solar power. And as more essential devices can be powered by batteries, affordable electricity becomes paramount.

more useful for policymakers than broad, top-down economic models.

begun to look at the relationship between extreme weather and federal revenue. But because it’s still not clear how best to do that, other institutions are trying as well.

Carter Price, a mathematician at the nonprofit RAND Corporation, is working on a budget model that will incorporate the latest social science research, as well as climate science, to inform long-term policy decisions.

“This is a space where having more models early on would be better,” Dr. Price said. “Rather than someone has an assumption, that assumption goes into a model, nobody questions it and, 10 years later, we realize that assumption is pretty powerful and maybe not right.”

The larger lesson is that modern climate policy is a complex endeavor that calls for large, interdisciplinary teams — which is not historically how the economics field has operated.

“You can only do so much by writing things down on a single sheet of paper from your office at Yale,” said Dr. Kopp, of Rutgers. “That’s not how science gets done. That’s how a lot of economics gets done. But you run into limits.”

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Heat and Drought in Europe Strain Energy Supply

ASERAL, Norway — In a Nordic land famous for its steep fjords, where water is very nearly a way of life, Sverre Eikeland scaled down the boulders that form the walls of one of Norway’s chief reservoirs, past the driftwood that protruded like something caught in the dam’s teeth, and stood on dry land that should have been deeply submerged.

“You see the band where the vegetation stops,” said Mr. Eikeland, 43, the chief operating officer of Agder Energi, pointing at a stark, arid line 50 feet above the Skjerkevatn reservoir’s surface. “That’s where the water level should be.”

thousands of northern homes without electricity.

reignited talk of investing in nuclear power and has dried up the waterways crucial for transporting coal.

most severe drought on record in France has also cost the country’s energy production, as nuclear plants responsible for more than 70 percent of the country’s electricity had to cut down activity temporarily to avoid discharging dangerously warm water into rivers.

Many of France’s 56 nuclear plants were already offline for maintenance issues. But the rivers that cool reactors have become so warm as a result of the punishing heat that strict rules designed to protect wildlife have prevented the flushing of the even warmer water from the plants back into the waterways.

power grid operators to hire more workers amid fears of electricity shortages.

In Norway, a winter without much snow and an exceptionally dry spring, including the driest April in 122 years, reduced water levels in lakes and rivers. Shallow waters in Mjosa, the country’s largest lake, kept its famed Skibladner paddle wheel boat tied up at port and prompted city officials in Oslo to send out text messages urging people to take shorter showers and avoid watering lawns.

“Do that for Oslo,” read the text message, “so that we’ll still have water for the most important things in our lives.” In May, Statnett SF, the operator of the national electricity grid, raised the alarm about shortfalls.

But the skies offered no relief and this month, as the country’s hydro reservoirs — especially in the south — approached what Energy Minister Terje Aasland has called “very low” levels, hydropower producers cut output to save water for the coming winter.

The reservoirs were about 60 percent full, about 10 percent less than the average over the previous two decades, according to data from the energy regulator.

Southern Norway, which holds more than a third of the country’s reservoirs, is dotted with red barns on green fields and fishing boats along the coast. On a stream in the Agder region, a sign put up by the energy company, like a relic from another time, warned, “The water level can rise suddenly and without warning.”

But recent months have shown that there is danger in the water level dropping, too. Reservoirs had dwindled to their lowest point in 20 years, at just 46 percent full. One, Rygene, was so low as to force the temporary closing of the plant. On Tuesday, the rainstorms returned, but the ground was so dry, Mr. Eikeland said as he surveyed the basin, that the earth “drinks up all the water” and the water levels in the reservoirs barely rose.

He sped his electric car farther south toward Kristiansand, where a large grid sends electricity around the country’s south and to Denmark. In a fenced-off area above the hill, a Norwegian industrial developer was building a data center for clients such as Amazon, which would suck up a significant share of locally produced electricity in order to cool vast computer servers.

This year’s drought has only highlighted the urgent need for a wider energy transformation, Mr. Eikeland said.

“The drought shows that we are not ready for the big changes,” he said, but also “that we will not accept the high prices.”

Reporting was contributed by Christopher F. Schuetze from Germany, Constant Méheut from France, Gaia Pianigiani from Italy, Isabella Kwai from London and Henrik Pryser Libell from Norway.

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LEGO Celebrates Its 90th Anniversary At San Diego Comic-Con

The LEGO Group started in 1932 with wooden toys and eventually introduced plastic bricks, which still holds high over the rest of the toy industry.

This year’s San Diego Comic-Con features a 14-foot-tall “Bowser” from the video game franchise “Super Mario Bros.” He’s made up of over 700,000 LEGO bricks — a symbol of the big celebration happening for Lego’s 90th anniversary.

“A lot of people have these long histories with playing with bricks as a kid and then growing up, so I think we just wanted to pay homage to that,” said Cassidy Najarian, The LEGO Group spokesperson.

The LEGO Group started on August 10, 1932 in Denmark with wooden toys, then eventually the colorful, plastic, interlocking bricks inspired by an existing line of toys from Kiddicraft were introduced.

That means LEGO wasn’t the first of its kind, but it quickly became the most popular. In 1998, LEGO became one of the first toys inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, and in 2000, LEGO beat the teddy bear and Barbie in winning “Toy of the Century” by the British Association of Toy Retailers.

Today, LEGO continues its reign over the toy industry. The company made $8.4 billion in revenue in 2021, making it the highest-earning toy brand in the world, ahead of Bandai Namco, Hasbro, and Mattel — each of which have their own competing brick toys.  

It’s also one of the most expensive toys on the market, costing parents and families almost double what they would pay for other types of toys like action figures and stuffed animals. In some cases, LEGO sets can cost hundreds of dollars.

That’s because of another hallmark of LEGO’s history: licensing.

In 1998, LEGO negotiated with Lucasfilm for the exclusive rights to create a line of toys for “Star Wars.” Since then, the company has partnered with other major franchises like Marvel and Harry Potter, and even sitcoms like “The Office.”

In many of these cases, LEGO sets aren’t just toys made for kids; they’re for collectors. 

“It’s really become a cultural moment in its own right,” Najarian said. “It’s been able to tap into a lot of different interests of people and honor that but bring it back to the central point of different ways to play and different ways to celebrate play.” 

Over nine decades, LEGO has built its brand brick by brick to include more than just toys. The company now commands several video games, films, and 10 different theme parks all over the world.

Source: newsy.com

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