Solar panel tariffs, feeding 10 billion people, and eight other stories you might have missed

Trump’s tariffs on solar threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply.
Trump’s tariffs on solar threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply.
Image: AP Photo/ Juan Karita
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1. Strawberry Fields (for a limited time only)

“It is as if humankind were packed into a bus racing through an impenetrable fog. Somewhere ahead is a cliff: a calamitous reversal of humanity’s fortunes. Nobody can see exactly where it is, but everyone knows that at some point the bus will have to turn. Problem is, Wizards and Prophets disagree about which way to yank the wheel. Each is certain that following the other’s ideas will send the bus over the cliff. As they squabble, the number of passengers keeps rising.” But don’t worry. We probably won’t reach the cliff for at least another thirty years or so. Charles C. Mann in The Atlantic: Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People? (I’ve been led to believe that, even in the worst case scenario, Prime members will be fed.)

+ We may have a few decades before we need to worry about running out of food. But in Cape Town, they have until April before they run out of water.

2. Benton shooting

“At 7:59 am, the first 911 call came in. At 8:06 am, first responders arrived at the high school.” Two teenagers were killed and many more injured after a 15 year-old opened fire at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky (population 4300).

3. Solar plexus punch

“South Korea said it would complain to the World Trade Organization (WTO). China, the world’s biggest solar panel producer, said the move was an ‘overreaction’ and pledged to ‘work with other WTO members to resolutely defend its legitimate interests.'” In a move towards an America First vision, the Trump administration has announced significant tariffs on imported solar panels (and washing machines).

+ Bloomberg: Trump’s Tariffs on Solar Mark Biggest Blow to Renewables Yet. “On Monday, Trump approved duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made outside the U.S., a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply.”

+ US companies in related businesses (and who pushed for the tariffs) have seen a nice share bounce today.

4. Sulfuring fools?

“In 2016, the UN’s International Maritime Organization announced that by 2020, international shipping vessels will have to significantly cut sulfur pollution. Specifically, ship owners must switch to fuels with no more than 0.5 percent sulfur content, down from the current 3.5 percent, or install exhaust cleaning systems that achieve the same reduction.” That sounds like a good thing, right? But when it comes to climate change, the situation is often more complex than it first appears. It turns out that all the shipping pollution may have been helping us. James Temple explains: We’re about to kill a massive, accidental experiment in reducing global warming.

5. Fed games

“The meeting marked the first time that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are known to have interviewed a member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet.” Jeff Sessions spent several hours being interviewed by the Special Counsel’s office.

+ Sessions was already in the news this week following this Axios scoop: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions — at the public urging of President Donald Trump — has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed, according to three sources with direct knowledge.”

+ WaPo: It’s looking more and more like Jeff Sessions is doing Trump’s political dirty work. (With the constant strategic infighting and politics playing out between the Justice Dept, the FBI, and the White House, it’s got to be a pretty good time to be a federal criminal.)

6. Chain links

You see [enemy combatants] kiss their kids goodbye, and kiss their wives goodbye, and then they walk down the street … As soon as they get over that hill, the missile is released.” The Guardian takes you to the kill chain: inside the unit that tracks targets for US drone wars. And taking you there means taking you to Kansas.

7. Water shaping up

The Shape of Water is shaping up to have a big night during this year’s Oscars as the Guillermo del Toro-directed film scored 13 nominations. Here’s a rundown of all the movies up for Academy Awards. (Instead of being about who will win, all of this year’s drinking games will be about what Jimmy Kimmel will say…)

+ Rachel Morrison just became the first woman ever nominated in the best cinematography category.

+ Shoutout to my pals at the Center for Investigative Reporting who co-produced the well-done (and well-timed) short documentary, Heroin(e).

+ Yes, there were snubs, and there were surprises.

+ There was a time when the Oscar nominations would have been at the top of the newsletter. But these days, people seem less interested in movies. And this is one of the reasons why: Netflix’s Value Tops $100 Billion. It’s all about the small screen.

8. Faked Alaska

“The killer wave never materialized, but people endured several tense hours in shelters, waiting for a potential catastrophe that could wipe their communities away at any moment.” A 7.9 quake in the Gulf of Alaska sent people fleeing from a feared tsunami. It sent everyone else to what has to be the The New Yorker’s most popular article ever: The Earthquake That Will Devastate the Pacific Northwest.

9. Nature not nurturing

“Increasingly, what we do outside is less about enjoying the activity itself as an intrinsic good, and more about planning ways to go bigger, faster, and farther, often for our selfie-stick mounted cameras. And so it went that once healthy outdoor pursuits devolved into suicide clubs.” Marc Peruzzi in Outside: Stop the Progression Already.

10. Bottom of the news

A guy was arrested for a DUI when he had to be woken up after parking in a Bank of America drive-through. It probably didn’t help that when he woke up, he ordered a burrito. (I’ll let you go ahead and figure out which state he was from…)

+ The Atlantic: When Your Eyes Move, So Do Your Eardrums. (And now, I can feel that happening… damn.)

+ “Neither she, nor the three other students who ate them, had lasting symptoms, though some of the students did get ‘giggly.'” Time: A 9-Year-Old Accidentally Shared Her Grandpa’s Marijuana Gummies With Her Fifth-Grade Class. (There are few things more stupid than putting pot in kids’ candies. It just makes zero sense. These products should be boycotted.)

+ Vice: The Guy Who Played Barney the Dinosaur Now Runs a Tantric Sex Business.

Quartz now syndicates NextDraft, a daily roundup for the day’s most fascinating news curated by Dave Pell. Read the archive here. Sign up to get the newsletter or download the app here.