Inspirational News Stories
Excerpts of Key Inspirational News Stories in Major Media


Below are many highly engaging excerpts of key inspirational stories reported in the mainstream media. Links are provided to the original stories on their major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These inspirational stories are ordered by date posted to this list. You can explore the same stories listed by order of importance or by article date. Enjoy your inspirational reading!


Inspirational News stories


Note: This comprehensive list of inspirational news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.

Wind Power Blows Away Coal and Gas in Nordic Countries
2014-10-17, Scientific American/Reuters
Posted: 2014-10-20 18:46:16
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/wind-power-blows-away-coal-and-gas-...

Wind power is blowing gas and coal-fired turbines out of business in the Nordic countries, and the effects will be felt across the Baltic region as the renewable glut erodes utility margins for thermal power stations. Fossil power plants in Finland and Denmark act as swing-producers, helping to meet demand when hydropower production in Norway and Sweden falls due to dry weather. The arrival of wind power on a large scale has made this role less relevant and has pushed electricity prices down, eroding profitability of fossil power stations. "Demand for coal condensing power in the Nordic power market has decreased as a result of the economic recession and the drop in the wholesale price for electricity," state-controlled Finnish utility Fortum said. Nordic wholesale forward power prices have almost halved since 2010 to little over 30 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) as capacity increases while demand stalls on the back of stagnant populations, low economic growth and lower energy use due to improved efficiency. "The Nordic system price will likely more often clear well below the production cost for coal fired power production," said Marius Holm Rennesund Oslo-based consultancy THEMA. "This will, in our view, result in mothballing of 2,000 MW of coal condensing capacity in Denmark and Finland towards 2030," he added. Adding further wind power capacity at current market conditions could lead to power prices dropping towards as low as 20 euros per MWh, the marginal cost for nuclear reactors, Rennesund said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of key energy news articles from reliable major media sources. To learn about new energy technologies, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our New Energy Information Center.




Moral Courage & The Story of Sister Megan Rice
2014-10-01, Daily Good
Posted: 2014-10-20 18:40:23
http://www.dailygood.org/story/857/moral-courage-and-the-story-of-sister-mega...

The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oakridge, Tennessee, is supposed to be impregnable. But on July 28th 2012, an 84 year-old nun called Sister Megan Rice broke through a series of high-security fences surrounding the plant and reached a uranium storage bunker at the center of the complex. She was accompanied by Greg Boertje-Obed (57) and Michael Walli (63). The trio ... sat down for a picnic. When the security guards arrived they offered them some bread. Two years later, Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed were sentenced to federal prison terms of between three and five years, plus restitution in the amount of $53,000 for damage done to the plant - far in excess of the estimates produced at their trial. When questioned about her actions at her trial by Judge Amul Thapar, Rice told him that her actions were intended to draw attention to the US stockpile of nuclear weapons that she and her co-defendants felt was illegal and immoral. They also wanted to expose the ineffectiveness of the security systems that were supposed to protect these weapons from theft or damage. “We were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear weapons have already caused,” wrote Rice afterwards in a letter to her supporters, “and we realize that all life on earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental or technical error. Our action exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public.” All three defendants were found guilty of “sabotage of the national defense.” Just before they were sentenced, Rice made a statement to the court which ended like this: “We have to speak, and we’re happy to die for that. To remain in prison for the rest of my life is the greatest honor that you could give me. Please don’t be lenient with me. It would be an honor for that to happen.”

Note: If you would like to receive copies of Sister Rice’s letters to her supporters, please email nukeresister@igc.org. Mailing addresses for Sister Rice and her co-defendants can be found here and here. You can also sign a petition requesting their pardon.




Hemp fibres 'better than graphene'
2014-08-13, BBC News
Posted: 2014-10-20 18:33:59
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28770876

"People ask me: why hemp? I say, why not?" said Dr David Mitlin of Clarkson University, New York, who describes his device in the journal ACS Nano. "We're making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price - and we're doing it with waste. ... the leftover bast fibre - the inner bark - typically ends up as landfill. "You can do really interesting things with bio-waste. We've pretty much figured out the secret sauce of it," said Dr Mitlin. The trick is to tailor the right plant fibre to the right electrical device - according to their organic structure. "With banana peels, you can turn them into a dense block of carbon - we call it pseudo-graphite - and that's great for sodium ion batteries," he explained. "But if you look at hemp fibre its structure is the opposite - it makes sheets with high surface area - and that's very conducive to supercapacitors." Mitlin's peer-reviewed journal paper ranks the device "on par with or better than commercial graphene-based devices". "They work down to 0C and display some of the best power-energy combinations reported in the literature for any carbon. Fully assembled, their energy density is 12 Wh/kg, which can be achieved at a charge time less than six seconds. "Obviously hemp can't do all the things graphene can," Dr Mitlin concedes. "But for energy storage, it works just as well. And it costs a fraction of the price – $500-1,000 a tonne."

Note: For more about the amazing properties of graphene, read this CNN News Article.




Globetops gives old laptops a new home – and a new purpose
2014-05-29, Christian Science Monitor
Posted: 2014-10-20 18:24:09
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2014/0529/Glo...

Becky Morrison never knew her love of African dance and a friend’s old laptop would help change the world. Becky, 33, is a producer who works on big budget projects like the NFL’s Sunday Night Football and Hollywood blockbuster movies. She’s also a professional West African dancer. Over the years she’s built a community of close friends in Guinea. During one of her trips, her friend Sekou Sano, the Ballet Merveilles’s artistic director, made a request: Rather than bring t-shirts or other small gifts, he asked if Becky could bring a laptop. Shortly before her next trip to Guinea, Becky posted a request on Facebook for old laptops. Within minutes she had 10 responses. So Becky founded Globetops, an organization that refurbishes donated laptops and sends them to worthwhile applicants throughout the world. It was through Globetops that Becky discovered just how much an old laptop can change a life while at the same time, reducing the amount of E-waste that ends up in landfills. In addition to receiving the laptop, Globetops recipients receive a “Golden Ticket” for training at a local “hub.” The hubs offer a free course in basic computing skills, web browsing, setting up an e-mail address and Microsoft Office, and graduates receive a certificate upon completion of the course. Certificates are a big deal in Guinea, Becky says. And after a long happy life, when the laptop no longer works, the hub will arrange for responsible disposal. The hubs are also the center of Globetops’ ambition to grow their footprint and introduce sustainable practices beyond just computers. Right now Becky is working to create a worldwide, grassroots infrastructure to move a wide variety of goods. “I’m starting at laptops but it could be cell phones or [even] shoes. We have enough stuff in the world,” Becky says, “It’s just not in the right places.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Seed money sprouts change for tiny non-profits
2014-03-23, CBS News
Posted: 2014-10-20 18:08:59
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/seed-money-sprouts-change-for-tiny-non-profits/

Ari Nessel ... made a fortune in Dallas real estate. Nessel's unusual quest: giving away $1,000 a day, every day for the rest of his life, to someone trying to make a difference. Instead of writing a big check to an established charity, he chooses someone just getting started to receive his daily thousand-dollar donation. [He] created a foundation he calls the Pollination Project. He sent out his first check January 1st last year, and has selected a new recipient each day since. He gave away his 447th grant this morning -- that's $447,000 and counting. In the past year-and-a-half, he's awarded grants in 42 different states and in 50 countries. "My experience is that transformation happens on the fringes and in the micro areas and the individuals, and doesn't happen on the large scale. It happens through all these people coming together in communities, and those communities coming together in larger communities. And so it becomes a movement." Kazu Haga is trying to start a movement with the $1,000 he got from the Pollination Project. Haga trains prisoners and at-risk students to embrace nonviolence. "One of the reasons why we continue to come into county jails and prisons is because we know that if the violence is ever going to decrease in our communities, it's your voices that's going to help create that change," Haga said. He conducts weekly workshops at the San Bruno County Jail. Ivan Montgomery, one of Haga's students, says the training has changed him: "I'm practicing on being better than I was. I know one thing is for sure: I'm never going to be the same person I was when I walked in these doors." When asked what difference the Pollination Project has made, Haga replied, "As small as the grant may be, it's really meaningful when we're starting off." For Ari Nessel, these small investments are earning big returns.

Note: Explore the inspiring work being done by The Pollination Project. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




First hint of 'life after death' in biggest ever scientific study
2014-10-07, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2014-10-13 15:46:30
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/11144442/First-hint-of-life-a...

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely. Scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted. One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines. “We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University ... who led the study. “But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped. The man described everything that had happened in the room." Of 2060 cardiac arrest patients studied, 330 survived and of 140 surveyed, 39 per cent said they had experienced some kind of awareness while being resuscitated. One in five said they had felt an unusual sense of peacefulness. Some recalled seeing a bright light. 13 per cent said they had felt separated from their bodies.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring near-death experience news articles and explore other fascinating resources on this most vital topic.




A Doctor Who Helps Patients – At Any Cost
2007-01-26, CBS News
Posted: 2014-10-13 15:44:25
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-doctor-who-helps-patients-8212-at-any-cost/

By salary standards, Bob Paeglow may be the least-successful doctor in America. He's got thousands of patients, but not one country club membership. His family lives in the worst neighborhood in Albany, N.Y. Fortunately, Paeglow didn't go into medicine for the money. He went into it — pretty late in life — because he kept having a vision of himself in old age he didn't like: "That the world was no better because I was a part of it than if I'd never been born." At the age of 36, Bob gave up his career as a quality control technician, went to medical school and set out to improve the quality of the planet. He opened his office in a neighborhood where most doctors wouldn't open their car door, and welcomed in all the people mainstream medicine would rather ignore. Paeglow takes absolutely no salary and survives mostly on donations. But even when people give him money, he usually plugs it right back into the practice. Every penny he makes goes back to his patients in one way or another. Does that make him the least-successful doctor in America? Or the most? If you would like to donate ... go to [Dr. Bob's website].

Note: For more, see this inspiring man's website. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Changing Minds in Senegal to Protect Girls From Genital Cutting
2013-05-09, PBS
Posted: 2014-10-13 15:42:14
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/molly-melching/

Molly Melching didn’t think she had much more than curiosity — and a love of the French language — when she ventured off soon after college for Senegal. It turns out that this product of a conservative Midwestern Lutheran upbringing may have brought exactly the qualities and experiences needed to help engineer one of the most sweeping shifts in social norms and behavior in history. Her organization, Tostan, has helped 6,400 (and counting) communities in Senegal and seven other African nations abandon the practice of female genital mutilation, one that about 3 million girls endure each year and one that governments, aid agencies and missionaries have tried to end for centuries. Melching’s story from Danville to Dakar is chronicled in a book to be released April 30: “However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph.” When she began what would become Tostan, which means “breakthrough” ... her goal was simply to provide basic health information, things like germ transmission and infection. She had no intention of broaching the sensitive and extremely taboo subject of genital cutting. That cause was championed by her Senegalese colleagues and friends, newly armed with health information and driven in at least one compelling case — a “cutter” named Oureye — by her own guilt. The message is “we know you love your daughters and would never want to harm them,” she says. People cannot be shamed into behavior modification, Melching insists. They need good scientific information to make their own decisions. It’s a simple powerful lesson that applies to just about any development endeavor, one she hopes the book will help spread widely.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Cure for Type 1 diabetes imminent after Harvard stem-cell breakthrough
2014-10-09, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2014-10-13 15:40:40
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/11151909/Cure-for-Type-1-diab...

A cure for diabetes could be imminent after scientists discovered how to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells, in a breakthrough hailed as significant as antibiotics. Harvard University has, for the first time, managed to manufacture the millions of beta cells required for transplantation. It could mean the end of daily insulin injections for the 400,000 people in Britain living with Type 1 diabetes. And it marks the culmination of 23-years of research for Harvard professor Doug Melton who has been trying to find a cure for the disease since his son Sam was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a baby. “We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line,” said Prof Melton. The stem cell-derived beta cells are presently undergoing trials in animal models, including non-human primates, where they are still producing insulin after several months, Prof Melton said. The team at Harvard used embryonic stem cells to produce human insulin-producing cells equivalent in almost every way to normally functioning cells in vast quantities. A report on the work is published in the journal Cell.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




CrowdMed wants to bring crowdsourcing to medicine
2014-05-10, Star Tribune/San Jose Mercury News
Posted: 2014-10-08 20:41:53
http://www.startribune.com/business/258540431.html

What Wikipedia has done for knowledge, a San Francisco company called CrowdMed is betting it can do for medicine. Send your symptoms and a nominal fee to CrowdMed.com, and dozens of medical professionals, students and average Joes will “crowdsource” — that is, share their knowledge and expertise — to help diagnose what’s wrong with you. The company isn’t out to replace your family doctor, but instead take advantage of the reach of social media to tap into an age-old medical practice: seeking second opinions. Or, in this case, hundreds of them. At the UC-Berkeley/UC-San Francisco Joint Medical Program, Dr. Amin Azzam, director of the “problem-based learning” curriculum, wants to use CrowdMed “to push the boundaries of how we train medical students.” Instead of teaching first- and second-year students with “pretend patients,” as is done now, Azzam is proposing adding CrowdMed’s cases to the curriculum. “They might even be more motivated to learn because it’s a real patient,” he said. Within 90 days of a consumer putting a case online, CrowdMed’s algorithm generates a list of the most probable diagnoses submitted by its “medical detectives,” along with their explanations. Patients are asked to give those suggestions to their physicians for consideration. Once it’s confirmed that the suggestions were helpful, the patients are refunded their $50 deposit and the detective who made the correct diagnosis gets his or her reward.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Federal prison population drops for 1st time in decades
2014-09-23, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press
Posted: 2014-10-08 20:40:25
http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Federal-prison-population-drops-for-1st-...

The federal prison population has dropped in the last year by roughly 4,800, the first time in several decades that the inmate count has gone down. In a speech Tuesday in New York City, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department expects to end the current budget year next week with a prison population of roughly 215,000 inmates. It would be the first time since 1980 that the federal prison population has declined during the course of a fiscal year. The crime rate has dropped along with the prison population, Holder said, proving that “longer-than-necessary prison terms” don’t improve public safety. “In fact, the opposite is often true,” he said. The Bureau of Prisons accounts for roughly one-third of the Justice Department budget, and the prison population has exploded in the last three decades as a result of “well-intentioned policies designed to be 'tough’ on criminals,” Holder said. In August 2013, for instance, he announced a major shift in sentencing policy, instructing federal prosecutors to stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences. More recently, the Justice Department has encouraged a broader swath of the prison population to apply for clemency, and has supported reductions in sentencing guideline ranges for drug criminals that could apply to tens of thousands of inmates. “We know that over-incarceration crushes opportunity. We know it prevents people, and entire communities, from getting on the right track,” Holder said. Holder also said that there should be new ways for the government to measure success of its criminal justice policies beyond how many people are prosecuted and sent to prison.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise's summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Scientists Create Very First Solar Battery that Stores its Own Power
2014-10-03, Science World Report
Posted: 2014-10-08 20:38:51
http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/17672/20141003/scientists-create-v...

Scientists may have created the very first solar battery. Researchers have succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device, which could be huge in terms of renewable energy capture and storage. "The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy," said Yiying Wu, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost." The key to the new device is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery. There's also a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode; inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery. "Basically, it's a breathing battery," said Wu. "It breathes in air when it discharges, and breathes out when it charges." The mesh solar panel forms the first electrode. Beneath the mesh is a thin sheet of porous carbon, which acts as the second electrode, and a lithium plate, which acts as the third electrode. Between the electrodes are layers of electrolyte to carry electrons back and forth. During charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Then inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons. The findings could be huge in terms of creating sustainable energy for powering a variety of devices. Currently, the researchers are continuing to move forward in improving the efficiency of the battery and the amount of power the panel can absorb and convert. The findings are published in the journal Nature.

Note: For astounding major media articles on new energy inventions which have gotten very little press, explore this webpage. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




U.S. to pay Navajo Nation $554 million in largest settlement with single Indian tribe
2014-09-24, Washington Post
Posted: 2014-10-08 20:37:11
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-to-pay-navajo-nation...

In the largest settlement with a single American Indian tribe, the Obama administration will pay the Navajo Nation $554 million to settle claims that the U.S. government has mismanaged funds and natural resources on the Navajo reservation for decades. The settlement, to be signed in Window Rock, Ariz., on Friday, resolves a long-standing dispute between the Navajo Nation and the U.S. government, with some of the claims dating back more than 50 years. The sprawling Navajo reservation, located in parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, is the largest and most populous Indian reservation, with 14 million acres of trust lands, which are leased for farming, grazing, and oil, gas and other mineral extraction. The land is also leased for businesses, rights-of-way, easements and housing. “The Navajo Nation has worked tirelessly for many years to bring this issue to a close,” said Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation. “After a long, hard-won process, I am pleased that we have finally come to a resolution on this matter to receive fair and just compensation for the Navajo Nation.” Shelly said the tribe will host town hall meetings across the Navajo Nation to decide how the funds can be used or invested. Although the settlement marks the largest ever with one tribe, the Obama administration has made several other multimillion-dollar agreements with tribes since 2009 to settle long-standing grievances by Native Americans. Along with the Navajo Nation, the administration has negotiated settlements resulting in a total of $2.61 billion paid to 80 tribes since 2010 for tribal trust accounting and trust management claims.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




The sports car that runs on saltwater
2014-09-01, Daily Mail (U.K.)
Posted: 2014-09-26 12:07:11
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2739768/The-sports-car-runs-SA...

Sports cars may not have the best reputation for being environmentally-friendly, but this sleek machine has been designed to reach 217.5 mph (350 km/h) – using nothing but saltwater. Its radical drive system allows the 5,070lbs (2,300kg) Quant e-Sportlimousine to reach 0-60 mph (100 km/h) in 2.8 seconds, making it as fast as the McLaren P1. After making its debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in March, the saltwater technology has now been certified for use on European roads. The 920 horsepower (680 kW) Quant e-Sportlimousine uses something known as an electrolyte flow cell power system to power four electric motors within the car. It works in a similar way to a hydrogen fuel cell, however, the liquid used for storing energy is saltwater. The liquid passes through a membrane in between the two tanks, creating an electric charge. This electricity is then stored and distributed by super capacitors. The car carries the water in two 200-litre tanks, which in one sitting will allow drivers to travel up to 373 miles (600km). NanoFlowcell AG, a Lichtenstein-based company behind the drive, is now planning to test the car on public roads in Germany and elsewhere in Europe as the company prepares for series production. It claims the technology offers five times the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries of the same weight. 'We've got major plans, and not just within the automobile industry,' says NanoFlowcell AG Chairman of the Board Professor Jens-Peter Ellermann. 'The potential of the NanoFlowcell is much greater, especially in terms of domestic energy supplies as well as in maritime, rail and aviation technology.'

Note: See the link above for photos and videos of this sleek masterpiece. Why isn't this car and it's unique technology getting more press? For more on this amazing car, see its website and read a gizmag article with more on how the car has received approval to run on European roads. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy
2014-09-19, Washington Post blog
Posted: 2014-09-26 12:02:08
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/09/19/the-coming-era-...

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones. The handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant. The experts are saying the same about solar energy now. They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies. They too are wrong. Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are. Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. By Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest United States, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices. In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases. By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do. Despite the skepticism of experts and criticism by naysayers, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy.

Note: This article also points out how some big energy companies and the Koch brothers are lobbying to stop alternative technologies from flowering. Read through a rich collection of energy news articles with inspiring and revealing news on energy developments. And explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Grid parity: Why electric utilities should struggle to sleep at night
2014-03-25, Washington Post blog
Posted: 2014-09-26 11:58:15
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/03/25/grid-parity-why...

What’s good news for those concerned with climate change, and bad news for electric utilities? That’s grid parity. It exists when an alternative energy source generates electricity at a cost matching the price of power from the electric grid. As grid parity becomes increasingly common, renewable energy could transform our world and slow the effects of climate change. Advances in solar panels and battery storage will make it more realistic for consumers to dump their electric utility, and power their homes through solar energy. A 2013 Deutsche Bank report said that 10 states are currently at grid parity: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Vermont. Germany, Spain, Portugal and Australia have reached grid parity. This shift has benefited from a dramatic drop in the price of solar panels, which dropped 97.2 percent from 1975 to 2012. As solar energy gets cheaper, traditional electric utilities are doing the opposite. The cost of maintaining the electric grid has gotten more expensive, but reliability hasn’t improved. If customers leave electric utilities, it starts a downward spiral. Fewer customers will mean higher rates, which encourages remaining customers to jump ship for a solar-battery system. Energy upstarts are led by forward thinkers with disruptive track records and eyes on society’s big problems. NRG Energy chief executive David Crane ... highlighted the climate change concerns in a recent letter to shareholders: “The day is coming when our children sit us down ... look us straight in the eye, with an acute sense of betrayal and disappointment in theirs, and whisper to us, ‘You knew… and you didn’t do anything about it. Why?’”

Note: Read through a rich collection of energy news articles with inspiring and revealing news on energy developments. Then explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels
2014-09-21, New York Times
Posted: 2014-09-26 11:54:37
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/us/heirs-to-an-oil-fortune-join-the-divestm...

John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels. The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses. In recent years, 180 institutions — including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments ... have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives. In all, the groups have pledged to divest assets worth more than $50 billion from portfolios. Some say they are taking action to align their assets with their environmental principles. Others want to shame companies that they believe are recklessly contributing to a warming planet. Ultimately ... their actions, like those of the anti-apartheid divestment fights of the 1980s, could help spur international debate, while the shift of investment funds to energy alternatives could lead to solutions to the carbon puzzle. At the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, there is no equivocation. The fund has already eliminated investments involved in coal and tar sands entirely while increasing its investment in alternate energy sources. The family has also engaged in shareholder activism with Exxon Mobil, the largest successor to Standard Oil. Members have met privately with the company ... in efforts to get it to moderate its stance on issues pertaining to the environment and climate change. They acknowledged that they have not caused the company to greatly alter its course.

Note: Read through a rich collection of energy news articles with inspiring and revealing news on energy developments. Then explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.




Occupy abolishes $4 million in other people's student loan debt
2014-09-17, CNN
Posted: 2014-09-23 19:22:24
http://money.cnn.com/2014/09/17/pf/college/occupy-wall-street-student-loan-de...

Occupy Wall Street is tackling a new beast: student loans. Marking the third anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the group's Strike Debt initiative announced ... it has abolished $3.8 million worth of private student loan debt since January. It said it has been buying the debts for pennies on the dollar from debt collectors, and then simply forgiving that money rather than trying to collect it. In total, the group spent a little more than $100,000 to purchase the $3.8 million in debt. While the group is unable to purchase the majority of the country's $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt because it is backed by the federal government, private student debt is fair game. This debt Occupy bought belonged to 2,700 people who had taken out private student loans to attend Everest College, which is run by Corinthian Colleges. Occupy zeroed in on Everest because Corinthian Colleges is one of the country's largest for-profit education companies and has been in serious legal hot water lately. Following a number of federal investigations, the college told investors this summer that it plans to sell or close its 107 campuses due to financial problems -- potentially leaving its 74,000 students in [the] lurch. "Despite Corinthian's dire financial straits, checkered past, and history of lying to and misleading vulnerable students, tens of thousands of people may still be liable for the loans they have incurred while playing by the rules and trying to get an education," a Strike Debt member said in an email.

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Buddha seems to bring tranquility to Oakland neighborhood
2014-09-15, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2014-09-23 19:20:57
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Buddha-seems-to-bring-tranquill...

Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist nor a follower of any organized religion. The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland's Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street. He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquility to a neighborhood marred by crime. What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray. And the neighborhood changed. People stopped dumping garbage. They stopped vandalizing walls with graffiti. And the drug dealers stopped using that area to deal. The prostitutes went away. Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, overall year-to-date crime has dropped by 82 percent. Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none. To this day, every morning at 7, worshipers ring a chime, clang a bell and play soft music as they chant morning prayers. The original statue is now part of an elaborate shrine that includes a wooden structure standing 10 feet tall and holding religious statues, portraits, food and fruit offerings surrounded by incense-scented air. On weekends, the worshipers include more than a dozen people: black folks, white folks, all folks, said Andy Blackwood, a neighborhood resident.

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Sun and Wind Alter Global Landscape, Leaving Utilities Behind
2014-09-14, New York Times
Posted: 2014-09-23 19:19:34
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/science/earth/sun-and-wind-alter-german-lan...

Of all the developed nations, few have pushed harder than Germany to find a solution to global warming. And towering symbols of that drive are appearing in the middle of the North Sea. They are wind turbines, standing as far as 60 miles from the mainland, stretching as high as 60-story buildings and costing up to $30 million apiece. On some of these giant machines, a single blade roughly equals the wingspan of the largest airliner in the sky, the Airbus A380. By year’s end, scores of new turbines will be sending low-emission electricity to German cities hundreds of miles to the south. It will be another milestone in Germany’s costly attempt to remake its electricity system, an ambitious project that has already produced striking results: Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. Germany’s relentless push into renewable energy has implications far beyond its shores. By creating huge demand for wind turbines and especially for solar panels, it has helped lure big Chinese manufacturers into the market, and that combination is driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago. The changes have devastated its utility companies, whose profits from power generation have collapsed. The word the Germans use for their plan is starting to make its way into conversations elsewhere: energiewende, the energy transition. Worldwide, Germany is being held up as a model, cited by environmental activists as proof that a transformation of the global energy system is possible.”

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