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OPINION | EDITORAL: Advances happen

What climate change should worry about March 14, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

Scientists in the United States say they have produced "the first commercially accessible material that eliminates the loss of energy as electricity moves along a wire."

How's that for a lede?! Surely we had you at "commercially accessible."

The story was found deep in The Wall Street Journal the other day. As nerdy as it sounds, they are calling it a breakthrough on superconductors. It could mean longer-lasting batteries.

That is big news for climate change. That is, in combating climate change.

But before we get into the Green News, the nerdy news: Before now, superconductors could only conduct electricity from Point A to Point B--without losing energy--if they were massively cooled. Emphasis on massively. And that kind of stuff is massively expensive. So it is massively impractical.

But researchers at the University of Rochester say they've built a superconductor that operates at room temperature.

It's complicated. Which is why mankind is this many years old before he could make it happen. Something about pressure, add a bit of nitrogen, a pinch of a rare-Earth metal called lutetium, and some complicated math.

And although nothing is complete, experts say the breakthrough will allow engineers to run with the knowledge and eventually get to something "commercially accessible."

There are all kinds of possibilities.

Superconductor trains, they say. More efficient power grids, they say. And here is the Green News: longer-lasting batteries.

The battery problem is the big holdup in trying to convert the world to renewable energy. Wind and solar don't work well on still nights. But if the right batteries come along, energy could be better stored during windy days and used later. Every day, or at least every year, batteries get better and better at this. When they get great at this, the world could start weaning itself off of polluting fuels.

And perhaps mankind is taking another step toward that goal.

THIS reminds us that climate change, or global warming, or whatever it's called this week, has its own challenge awaiting: mankind.

For all the gnashing of teeth about the abuse mankind heaps upon the world, we're pretty sure Homo faber, man the toolmaker, is going to figure out a way to cure his own proliferation. Nobody is talking about a "population bomb" anymore, even though the world just surpassed 8 billion people.

Few fear that the poor will starve. (There's an obesity problem in this country, much of it among the poor.)

And humans have never had to work fewer hours to pay for their evening meals. Even though just a few decades ago, we were all warned of all these coming disasters/calamities/doom.

What happened? Innovation happened. With humans to thank.

Remember the boll weevil? About 30 years ago it was the top of agriculture news every year, and the critter would either ruin cotton crops across the South, or prove diminished one year and farmers could pay their bills. Then eradication efforts in this country got rid of the bug nearly completely. Advances happen. Innovation happens. Mankind happens.

These challenges come to us frequently enough, and frequently enough humans figure them out. Look at the tech available to change dumpster gas into heating fuel.

Something tells us we will figure out this climate change, too. And that something is man's history of innovation.

Print Headline: Advances happen


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