Good morning, Q-MHI readers!
This week the UK became the fifth country—after the Netherlands, Norway, India, and France—to commit to selling only electric cars in the near future. It will do so starting in2040, while Norway and India are more ambitious, aiming for 2025 and 2030 respectively.
As battery prices fall, it’s clear that electric cars are the future. How soon we get there will depend on how serious we are about reaching emissions goals set under the Paris accord.
There is a world of difference between making the pledge and actually delivering. Each country will need to create incentives that promote electric-car purchases, build thousands of charging stations, and ensure enough electrical capacity.
The UK’s transition to an all-electric future will push peak demand by 18 GW, a third more than now. The country’s transmission operator has warned that the UK won’t be able to reach its goals without large investments in new plants and line upgrades.
If any country seems to be on track in this regard, it’s China. In 2016, the country registered 350,000 electric vehicles (the US was a distant second with 160,000). It has tax exemptions in place worth $6,000 to $10,000 per car. It boasts 150,000 charging stations, with 100,000 more coming in 2017 (the US has just 16,000). And it has plenty of spare capacity to power all these vehicles, with its thermal power plants running onlyhalf the time.
China has other motivations. Since US president Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement, there is an opening for Beijing to take on global leadership.
Even if saving the climate is not China’s priority, the transition makes sense from an energy-security perspective. The country doesn’t have as much oil as it has coal—the fuel most power plants need.
SIX THINGS ON Q-MHI WE ESPECIALLY LIKED
An exclusive look inside London’s reputation-laundering business. The British capital is home to consultancies and law firms that help the global super-rich obscure the sources and extent of their wealth and burnish their images. Max de Haldevang investigates the efforts three firms undertook on behalf of Vladimir Yakunin, US-sanctioned ally of Vladimir Putin.
One way to beat the shortage of quality engineers in India. Zoho Corporation, a Chennai-based software firm catering to global cloud customers, makes programmers out of high-school graduates—and some dropouts—by taking their education into its own hands, as Sushma U N reports.
Solar-eclipse fever has spawned a surfeit of counterfeits. Americans who gaze heavenward Aug. 21 for the rare sight of the sun disappearing behind the moon will need special dark glasses. Many for sale on Amazon may not be safe, Elijah Wolfson and a squad of Quartz reporters discovered. Good thing there’s NASA guidance for consumers.
The class dynamics of breastfeeding. Even as the cultural definition of what’s “best” for babies has fluctuated between formula and breast milk for decades, one thing remained constant, as Corinne Purtill and Dan Kopf explain: The most socially desirable form of nutrition has been whichever is harder for poor parents to access.
Accepting your darkest emotions is the key to psychological health. In this decidedly pro-positivity era, the pressure to suppress feelings like anxiety and rage is real. Lila MacLellan finds that science has joined Buddhist thinkers and mindfulness teachers in agreeing “acceptance” is the key to handling emotional reactions to stressful events.
Drones are dropping from the sky. Users took to DJI’s support forum to complain that their new Spark drones were switching off in mid-flight. After Mike Murphy pointed out the issues, DJI said it was sending out a firmware update.
The film Her is one step closer to becoming reality. See how a graphic designer created a robot replica of Scarlett Johansson using supplies he found at the hardware store. While you’re there, check out the rest of Machines with Brains, our latest special series exploring what it means to be human in an increasingly artificially intelligent world.
FIVE THINGS ELSEWHERE THAT MADE US SMARTER
A ping-pong match reveals the inner workings of China’s Communist Party. When the country’s star player refused to show up for a match against a Japanese rival, blame fell mostly on the sports minister. Ma Tianjie of Chublic Opinion digs deeper to show how a seemingly mundane controversy exemplifies the complicated games Chinese politicians play to get ahead.
The new rules on staging a military coup. The old first directive—take control of the TV airwaves—doesn’t apply now, Danny Orbach writes at War on the Rocks. Reviewing Naunahal Singh’s book Seizing Power, he notes that the attempt to overthrow Recep Erdogan in Turkey floundered because the president was able to communicate with the nation on an iPhone.
A frightening transition, nukes included. US Department of Energy staff waited for days to brief Trump’s team on running the 110,000-person bureaucracy that safeguards the grid and nuclear stockpiles. When they showed up, Michael Lewis recounts, their approach mirrored that of their boss: “We don’t want you to help us understand; we want to find out who you are and punish you.”
Not everyone who works at Facebook has it made. Just miles from Mark Zuckerberg’s five-house compound, a couple that works in his company’s cafeteria lives in a two-car garagewith their three children, Julia Carrie Wong reveals in The Guardian. Combined wages of $37.70 an hour are not enough to rent an actual house in Silicon Valley.
The two dirtiest words in the world of shipping. No one on board died in the 2011 hijacking of the Brillante Virtuoso off Yemen, as Kit Chellel and Matthew Campbell write in Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Yet the oil tanker’s name became “an epithet among shipping veterans,” because the incident and its aftermath revealed so much that is ugly about the industry.