This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week
. For an index to revealing excerpts of news stories on several dozen engaging topics, click here
Jessica Cox pilots her own course
2012-08-23, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2012-09-04 08:48:47
She can put on contact lenses, drive a car and sign her name - all with her feet - but Jessica Cox's biggest accomplishment may be up in the air. The 29-year-old Arizona native and Tucson resident was born without arms as a result of a rare birth defect, yet she got her pilot's license in 2008 and made the 2011 Guinness World Records for being the world's first licensed armless pilot. "It was tough being different growing up. For me it was a challenge to go to public school and always be stared at," Cox said. "I had a choice to embrace that part of my life or avoid it." So she chose to not hide behind long-sleeve sweaters and instead took up surfing, scuba diving and tae kwon do (she is a black belt), and conquered her biggest fear - flying. Like other tasks, she pilots with her feet. Cox is the subject of a documentary being filmed about her life and accomplishments, titled "Rightfooted." A trailer for the film can be seen at rightfooted.com/movie. In the trailer, Cox is seen as a girl with prosthetic arms as she explains that she was called "hook" and "robot girl" growing up. She is later seen wearing her favorite flying shirt, which reads, "Look Ma, no hands!" "I remember that as a child I always wanted to fly like Superwoman over my playground because I was so angry about how limited I was," she says during the trailer. "With the documentary, I will be able to reach millions of people to say it's OK to be different," Cox said in an interview.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Grandmother helping Chicago kids 'off the block'
Posted: 2012-09-04 08:46:40
In Roseland, one of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods, many residents stay off the streets to protect themselves from rampant gang violence. But one grandmother opened her door and invited gang members to come inside. "They say I'm a nut because I let kids into my home who I didn't even know," said Diane Latiker, 54. "But I know (the kids) now. And I'll know the new generation." Since 2003, Latiker has gotten to know more than 1,500 young people through her nonprofit community program, Kids Off the Block. "I invited them into my living room," she said. "They all started saying: 'I want to be a doctor. I want to be a rapper. I want to be a singer.' They didn't want to be out here running up and down the street. They wanted to be involved in something." Latiker told them her house was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They could come over for food, or homework help, or just to talk about their hopes, dreams and fears. Kids Off the Block was born. "We've had six gangs in my living room at one time. ... But that was the safe place. And you know what? They respected that." As Latiker began to see positive change in many of the kids, she quit her job as a cosmetologist to focus on them full-time. She set up tutoring sessions with teachers and retired educators. She provided job interview training and opportunities to play football, basketball and soccer. Latiker and volunteers also started taking the kids on field trips to museums, movies, skating rinks, water parks and professional sports games.
Note: For lots more on this amazing woman and her great work, click here.
The Politics of Happiness
2004-05-20, Yes! Magazine
Posted: 2012-09-04 08:45:05
We really have to admit that over the past 100 years we have been building cities much more for mobility than for people's well-being. Every year thousands of children are killed by cars. Isn't it time we build cities that are more child-friendly? Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people. When I was elected mayor of Bogotá and got to city hall, I was handed a transportation study that said the most important thing the city could do was to build an elevated highway at a cost of $600 million. Instead, we installed a bus system that carries 700,000 people a day at a cost of $300 million. We created hundreds of pedestrian-only streets, parks, plazas, and bike paths, planted trees, and got rid of cluttering commercial signs. We constructed the longest pedestrian-only street in the world. It may seem crazy, because this street goes through some of the poorest neighborhoods in Bogotá, and many of the surrounding streets aren't even paved. But we chose not to improve the streets for the sake of cars, but instead to have wonderful spaces for pedestrians. All this pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human dignity. We're telling people, “You are important—not because you're rich or because you have a Ph.D., but because you are human.” If people are treated as special, as sacred even, they behave that way. This creates a different kind of society.
Note: For more on the amazing work of Enrique Peñalosa, click here. For the highly inspiring story of Mayor Antanas Mockus, also of Bogotá, click here.
2012-09-01, The Intelligent Optimist (formerly Ode Magazine)
Posted: 2012-08-28 09:10:59
In 2006, after a less than illustrious career in the restaurant business, 31-year-old Ben Zempel got a job with wholesaler Costco. That wouldn’t be remarkable in itself, but Zempel has Down syndrome. Since he got the job, he’s happier than ever, according to his mom, Jane. It’s not just employees with a disability—all 163,000 people on Costco’s payroll around the world can count on extraordinary amounts of attention. They’re better paid than competitors’ staff, management solicits their input on store strategy, and full- and part-time workers alike enjoy complete health insurance coverage. It all adds up to low turnover: Just 6 percent of employees decide to leave the company after more than a year. In fact, after 20 Costco staff from Melville, New York, won a $200 million lottery prize last year, only one of them quit—not because of the unexpected fortune but because at 73, he figured it was time to retire. More and more businesses are beginning to realize, as Costco has, that it pays to invest in people. Strikingly, it’s companies that put staff at the top of the list that seem to be doing best. Costco ended 2010 and 2011—tough years for most companies—with hefty profits.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from reliable sources, click here.
The women of India's Barefoot College bring light to remote villages
2011-06-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2012-08-21 09:40:05
Santosh Devi is [a] 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan [who] has broken through India's rigid caste system to become the country's first Dalit solar engineer. While differences of caste have begun to blur in the cities, in rural India Dalits – also known as "untouchables" – are still impoverished and widely discriminated against. Santosh trained to be a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, 100km from Jaipur. The college was set up in 1972 by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy to teach rural people skills with which they could transform their villages, regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. The college claims to have trained 15,000 women in skills including solar engineering, healthcare and water testing. Roy, 65, says his approach – low cost, decentralised and community driven – works by "capitalising on the resources already present in the villages". The college, spread over eight acres, runs entirely on solar energy, maintained by the Barefoot solar engineers. Since the solar course was launched in 2005, more than 300 Barefoot engineers have brought power to more than 13,000 homes across India. A further 6,000 households, in more than 120 villages in 24 countries from Afghanistan to Uganda, have been powered on the same model. Only villages that are inaccessible, remote and non-electrified are considered for solar power. A drop in the ocean, perhaps – 44% of rural households in India have no electricity – but these women are making an important contribution to the nation's power needs.
Note: For a very inspiring TED talk filled with great stories by the founder of this college, click here.
USDA: Number of Farmers Markets up Due to Demand
2012-08-03, ABC News/Associated Press
Posted: 2012-08-14 09:02:45
As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has increased, so too has the number of urban farmers markets sprouting up across the nation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced ... that the number of direct-sales markets has increased 9.6 percent in the past year, with California and New York leading the way. After 18 years of steady increases, the number of farmers markets across the country now registered with the USDA is 7,864. In 1994, there were 1,744. Organizations such as Slow Food, founded in 1989 to counter fast-food, junk-food lifestyles, first ignited consumer demand for fresh, local produce. Some markets are so popular that there are wait lists for farmers to sell there, including one of the largest and most diverse of all, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Farmers from across the region travel there three days a week to sell fruits, vegetables and artisan breads and cheeses to thousands of shoppers, including top chefs from the food-centric city. Operated by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, the iconic market on the San Francisco Bay is celebrating its 20th birthday. "When we started there were only three markets in the city, and now there are 29," said Liz Hunt, a center spokeswoman.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
Gore Vidal, 1925-2012: Prolific, Elegant, Acerbic Writer
2012-08-01, New York Times
Posted: 2012-08-07 10:36:46
Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on [July 31]. He was 86. The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy. Perhaps more than any other American writer except Norman Mailer or Truman Capote, Mr. Vidal took great pleasure in being a public figure. He twice ran for office — in 1960, when he was the Democratic Congressional candidate for the 29th District in upstate New York, and in 1982, when he campaigned in California for a seat in the Senate. Some of his political positions were ... provocative. Mr. Vidal was an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he wrote an essay for Vanity Fair arguing that America had brought the attacks upon itself by maintaining imperialist foreign policies. In another essay, for The Independent, he compared the [9/11] attacks to the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, arguing that both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush knew of them in advance and exploited them to advance their agendas.
Note: Gore Vidal was very outspoken on his belief that 9/11 was an inside job, yet the media give this very light coverage in discussing his career. For a video clip of Vidal recommending The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin, which reveals a major 9/11 cover-up, click here.
Unleashing the power of real girls
2012-07-17, Washington Post
Posted: 2012-07-31 10:21:27
A 14-year-old Maine girl named Julia Bluhm [has] mobilized more than 80,000 supporters to lobby Seventeen [magazine] to commit to [a] modest goal: printing one photo spread per issue without an unaltered image. Bluhm’s efforts are part of Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge or SPARK, a girl-fueled activist movement that is demanding an end to the sexualization of women and girls in media. In the magazine’s August issue, Seventeen editor Ann Shoket responded to the campaign with a carefully worded statement that vowed that the magazine will “never change girls’ body or face shapes” and will publish only images of “real girls and models who are healthy.” [This] represents a meaningful victory for young women seeking reality-based images in a seemingly unwinnable war against big publishing, big advertising and big fashion. Images of blemish-free cover models displaying skeletal arms, enhanced chests and disappearing waistlines are a time-honored magazine tradition. The breakthrough success of Bluhm’s campaign represents ... the beginning of a new era of female empowerment. Bluhm started her movement on the online organizing site Change.org, which allows users to share electronic petitions with their social networks. When petitions like Bluhm’s rally significant support, the site offers the additional assistance of its expert organizing staff and broad activist network. Now, with the momentum of a successful campaign, Bluhm and her peers have turned their attention to transforming the policies of other magazines, including Teen Vogue and Cosmo Girl.
Note: For a treasure trove of inspirational reports from major media sources, click here.
One Random Act of Kindness Turned $93 Into $100,000!
2010-08-27, Yahoo! News
Posted: 2012-07-24 16:20:56
Let's say you were at Trader Joe's Menlo Park, Calif., and you saw a woman standing at the checkout counter who couldn't find her wallet. Would you pick up the tab? Well, that's what Carolee Hazard did last summer. When she saw that Jenni Ware wasn't able to pay the bill because her wallet was missing, a knee-jerk reaction inspired her to hand over $207, the exact amount Ware needed for her groceries. The next day, Hazard received a check for $300 in the mail and a thank you card from Ware suggesting that she use the extra $93 dollars to get a massage. Uncomfortable with keeping the money, Hazard asked her Facebook friends what they'd do. Several suggested giving it to charity, which Carolee liked a lot, and she decided to match the money with $93 of her own. Again, she turned to her Facebook friends asking to whom should she donate the $186. Given the food connection, she decided to donate the money to her local Second Harvest Food Bank. To her great surprise, a friend added another $93. So did another and another and another! Soon the story was being posted and reposted on Facebook, inspiring others to donated as well. Thus was born the 93 Dollar Club. In just one year, the 93 Dollar Club has raised a whopping $100,000 for Second Harvest.
Note: For lots more highly inspiring articles from the major media, click here.
Man Celebrates 65th Birthday by Giving Away Free Money
2012-07-13, Yahoo! News
Posted: 2012-07-24 16:17:42
Doug Eaton wanted to celebrate his birthday on June 11 in a big way, so he turned to his friends for ideas [and] ended up marking the day with random acts of kindness, including handing out free money to people passing by. "I asked a bunch of my friends ... what should I do on my 65th and I got a whole long list of stuff," he told KFOR-TV. "And one of my friends said, 'Why don't you do 65 random acts of kindness?'" So that's exactly what he did, spending 65 minutes standing on the corner of NW 39th Street and May Avenue in Oklahoma City, handing out $5 bills to people who passed by. From a distance, Eaton looked a bit like any other panhandler holding a sign at a street corner. But instead of a plea for money, his sign read: "I have a home… and a car… and a job. Do you need a few bucks for some coffee?" Many people murmured "I can't believe this" or "bless you" as he handed them the cash. Others were reluctant to take his money, and he had to tell them "It's OK, it's just a blessing" and explain that this was his way of celebrating his milestone birthday. "This day has been one of the biggest blessings of my recent life," he [said]. "I don't know if I can wait until another birthday to do this again. But what if it became a habit? Or what if everyone or a lot of people did their birthday number of random acts of kindness on their birthday? How good would that be?"
Note: For lots more highly inspiring articles from the major media, click here.
Natural, organic items grab bigger share in supermarkets
2012-07-07, USA Today
Posted: 2012-07-17 10:42:16
In recent years, the grocery industry has seen sales of natural and organic food double in supermarkets such as Kroger ..., one of the largest mainstream grocers in the nation. "Used to be this was all very faddish," said Gregg Proctor, who heads up natural foods for Kroger's central division, which includes Indiana. "Not anymore. We're adding new items constantly because if we don't get it when it comes out, our competition will." There seems to be a race to pure foods among the nation's largest supermarkets as they ramp up their offerings, even launch their own brands of organics and naturals, and then heavily advertise the healthy choice. It all makes sense, considering sales of this segment of groceries are outpacing traditional grocery sales. Nationwide, natural and organic food sales grew 8 percent in 2010 versus the less than 1 percent growth in the $630 billion total U.S. food market, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. It grew at about a 5 percent rate each year from 2005 to 2009. With that growth and popularity comes a definite consumer advantage: Slowly but surely, the price of natural foods is falling. Inside more than 1,300 of Kroger's 2,500 stores are Nature's Markets, a store within the store that is devoted solely to natural foods. Natural foods are not regulated, which leaves the meaning of that term largely up to the grocers that sell them.
Looking For 10% Yields? Go Online For Peer To Peer Lending
2012-06-06, Forbes Magazine
Posted: 2012-07-10 16:06:19
Today a tidal wave of aging boomers want income, but traditional sources are lacking. But there’s [a] source of high yield that relatively few consider. Peer-to-peer lending, or making personal loans via the Internet using websites like LendingClub.com and Prosper.com. After six years of experience and some bumps, including a financial crisis and ensuing recession, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has finally earned its place on an income investor’s menu. The basic premise of these bank disintermediaries is that they harness the networking power of the Web to match people who have excess cash with people in need of it or those who simply want to refinance credit card debt. The key to its success has been how the sites have managed the inherent riskiness of unsecured personal loans. Believe it or not, it is now possible to earn yields of 6% or more, making relatively safe loans to complete strangers. San Francisco’s Lending Club is the largest P2P lender, followed by its crosstown rival Prosper. Lending Club and Prosper have loaned a total of more than $1 billion since inception, in 112,000 loans. Lending Club currently issues about $45 million in loans a month versus Prosper’s $13 million per month. Of course defaults happen. Lending Club’s top-rated three-year loans expect a default rate of around 1.4%, and the riskiest loans, offering rates as high as 25%, have a 9.8% default rate.
Note: A 1.4 default rate is much lower than that of the average bank. For those who want to borrow or loan money free of the banks with excellent rates, check out www.lendingclub.com and www.prosper.com.
India to give free generic drugs to hundreds of millions
2012-07-05, Fox News
Posted: 2012-07-10 16:00:16
India has put in place a $5.4 billion policy to provide free medicine to its people, a decision that could change the lives of hundreds of millions, but a ban on branded drugs stands to cut Big Pharma out of the windfall. From city hospitals to tiny rural clinics, India's public doctors will soon be able to prescribe free generic drugs to all comers, vastly expanding access to medicine in a country where public spending on health was just $4.50 per person last year. Under the plan, doctors will be limited to a generics-only drug list and face punishment for prescribing branded medicines, a major disadvantage for pharmaceutical giants in one of the world's fastest-growing drug markets. The initiative would overhaul a system where healthcare is often a luxury and private clinics account for four times as much spending as state hospitals, despite 40 percent of the people living below the poverty line, or $1.25 a day or less. Within five years, up to half of India's 1.2 billion people are likely to take advantage of the scheme, the government says. "The policy of the government is to promote greater and rational use of generic medicines that are of standard quality," said L.C. Goyal, additional secretary at India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and a key proponent of the policy. "They are much, much cheaper than the branded ones."
Plum Organics offers healthy food for kids
2012-07-02, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2012-07-10 15:58:57
Some might call Neil Grimmer and his wife Tana Johnson picky eaters. For more than a decade, Grimmer, a triathlete, didn't eat meat or dairy while Johnson followed a macrobiotic diet, made up mostly of whole grains and vegetables. So when the couple became parents about nine years ago, they sought to feed their children healthy foods. Trouble was, they couldn't find snacks that were healthy, yet easy to pack and appealing to their kids. That's how the Nest Collective, now known as Plum Organics, was born. [The] startup makes baby food and toddler and kids' snacks such as pouches of pureed blueberry oats and quinoa for babies and squeezable oatmeal for older children. Plum Organics is also addressing increasing concerns about childhood obesity and parents looking for alternative, easy-to-pack snacks. In what turned out to be a momentous decision, the company moved away from the traditional plastic or glass jar and began offering baby food in the form of the squeezable pouch already popular with older children. The company took off from there. The benefit of the pouch is that it allows the food to be cooked more gently so that the flavors are richer, said Grimmer. The packaging also takes up less space in landfills and is easier to transport.
Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way
2012-06-24, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2012-07-03 10:39:11
Capitalism's recurring tendencies toward extreme and deepening inequalities of income, wealth, and political and cultural power require resignation and acceptance. [It] entails and reproduces a highly undemocratic organization of production inside enterprises. Believers insist that no alternatives to ... capitalist organizations of production exist or could work nearly so well. Of course, alternatives exist. The city of Arrasate-Mondragon, in the Basque region of Spain ... is the headquarters of the Mondragon Corporation (MC). MC is composed of many co-operative enterprises grouped into four areas: industry, finance, retail and knowledge. In each enterprise, the co-op members (averaging 80-85% of all workers per enterprise) collectively own and direct the enterprise. The largest corporation in the Basque region, MC is also one of Spain's top ten biggest corporations (in terms of sales or employment). And MC has expanded internationally, now operating over 77 businesses outside Spain. MC has proven itself able to grow and prosper as an alternative to – and competitor of – capitalist organizations of enterprise. MC worker-members collectively choose, hire and fire the directors, whereas in capitalist enterprises the reverse occurs. One of the co-operatively and democratically adopted rules governing the MC limits top-paid worker/members to earning 6.5 times the lowest-paid workers. In US corporations, CEOs can expect to be paid 400 times an average worker's salary – a rate that has increased 20-fold since 1965.
Do Plants Think?
2012-06-05, Scientific American
Posted: 2012-07-03 10:33:05
How aware are plants? This is the central question behind a fascinating new book, What a Plant Knows, by Daniel Chamovitz, director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University. Chamovitz unveils the surprising world of plants that see, feel, smell—and remember. Just because we don’t see plants moving doesn’t mean that there’s not a very rich and dynamic world going on inside the plant. People have to realize that plants are complex organisms that live rich, sensual lives. Plants had to develop incredibly sensitive and complex sensory mechanisms that would let them survive in ever changing environments. [A plant] can mount a defense when under siege, and warn its neighbors of trouble on the way. A plant can even be said to have a memory. If a maple tree is attacked by bugs, it releases a pheromone into the air that is picked up by the neighboring trees. This induces the receiving trees to start making chemicals that will help it fight off the impending bug attack. So on the face of it, this is definitely communication.
Note: This article only touches the surface of a rich world of research suggesting that plant life is much more complex and miraculous than we might imagine. For more, explore the landmark book The Secret Life of Plants or the work of researcher Cleve Backster.
Yoga Tights, Big City
2012-06-21, Wall Street Journal blog
Posted: 2012-07-03 10:29:35
Amid the 500,000 people who pass through the center of Manhattan on their way to work, I took part in an outdoor yoga practice held in honor of the Summer Solstice. Against the cacophony of police sirens and taxi horns, the occasional rumble from the subway, the perplexed stares of commuters and the urban aroma of bus exhaust, four thousand of us stretched, lunged, twisted and saluted the sun. It was surreal – in an odd and wonderful way. The event was the 10th annual “Solstice in Times Square.” The yoga class I attended was the first of four that were held throughout the day and evening. The early-morning class was led by Drisana Carey, a lanky instructor who also works as a model for Athleta. A midday class was lead by Rajashree Choudhury, the wife of Bikram Choudhury – the founder of the standardized yoga practice that consists of 26 poses done in an environment heated to 105-degrees. Carey had great presence and even greater poise when the audio on her microphone frequently cut out. She understood that New Yorkers who get on their yoga mats are still New Yorkers. Carey reminded us to try to transcend the rush-and-bustle of Times Square — to be, as she put it, “guided by our breath and our hearts and not by our egos.” The movements were designed to be accessible for yogis of all levels, but the workout was tough. The mental challenges, however, were far greater: How to get zen amid the chaos?
Note: Other media reported that 14,000 people attended this event. For more great photos, see this link. WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks had major back problems for years until 2003, when Bikram yoga completely healed his back within a matter of months.
Music Therapy May Help Ease Pain
Posted: 2012-07-03 10:25:25
Approaching death can be a long descent into pain and fear. [For some,] the misery is so profound that little helps. Alternative medicine is increasingly accepted as part of palliative care and some studies show music is one method to ease pain and stress at the end of life. One of these methods includes live harp music, played at the bedside by a certified music practitioner. Carol Joy Loeb, a former opera singer, is a certified music practitioner and registered nurse. When she arrives at a patient's bedside, she's prepared to alleviate misery. "I use the music to bring a calmness to them," Loeb says. "It helps with pain and agitation. And in the case of those who are actively dying, it helps them to go peacefully." She even uses the music to open communication between family members at the end of a person's life. Last year, she worked with a dying woman on Hospice care. "This was a woman in congestive heart failure, she was in acute distress," Loeb says. Just before she arrived, the patient had received a dose of morphine but didn't get the necessary relief. When Loeb started playing, the dying woman began to relax. "Within 10 minutes her respirations were almost not there," Loeb recalls. "Her daughter was in the kitchen with the Hospice chaplain. And she came in and took her mother's hand and she said, 'Mama, it's okay to go, go to God. Take the hand of God and go to God.' And within one minute, she was gone."
Suu Kyi says Nobel Peace Prize shattered her isolation, ensured Burmese would not be forgotten
2012-06-16, Washington Post/Associated Press
Posted: 2012-06-26 10:52:38
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi declared Saturday that the Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago helped to shatter her sense of isolation and ensured that the world would demand democracy in her military-controlled homeland.
Suu Kyi received two standing ovations inside Oslo’s city hall as she gave her long-delayed acceptance speech to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The 66-year-old champion of political freedom praised the power of her 1991 Nobel honor both for saving her from the depths of personal despair and shining an enduring spotlight on injustices in distant Myanmar. “Often during my days of house arrest, it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world,” she said. “What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings, outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. ... And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma." Suu Kyi, who since winning freedom in 2010 has led her National League for Democracy party into opposition in Myanmar’s parliament, offered cautious support for the first tentative steps toward democratic reform in her country. But she said progress depended on continued foreign pressure on the army-backed government.
Note: It is inspiring to see the positive effect that the Nobel Peace Prize may have on the state of the world. Unfortunately it does not always do so, as is evident with the prizes given to strategists of global war such as Henry Kissinger.
Are we wildly underestimating solar and wind power?
2012-06-19, Washington Post blog
Posted: 2012-06-26 10:39:57
Right now, renewable energy sources like solar and wind still provide just a small fraction of the world’s electricity. But they’re growing fast. Solar is growing exponentially. Across the globe, 55 terawatt-hours of solar power had been installed by the end of 2011. That may not seem like much in itself — the United States by itself, after all, needed about one hundred times that much power in 2011. But solar has been growing at a stunning rate, as panels keep getting dramatically cheaper. If these exponential growth rates [continue] solar could provide nearly 10 percent of the world’s electricity by 2018. Official agencies keep underestimating the growth rate of renewables. The International Energy Agency is forecasting that solar will catch on much more slowly — providing a mere 4.5 percent of the world’s electricity by 2035. But [t]he IEA has almost always underestimated how quickly wind and solar can grow. Forecasters have consistently been too pessimistic. For instance, back in 2000, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook predicted that non-hydro sources of renewable energy would make up 3 percent of global energy by the year 2020. The world reached that point in 2008, well ahead of schedule. Using only current technology, renewables could technically provide the vast bulk of U.S. electricity by mid-century.
Note: The media has consistently underplayed the promising potential for alternative energy sources. The fact that the above is a blog and not a regular article in the Post is yet another example of this. For more on promising developments on energy technologies, click here.