Sustainability Article

Katie Myers’s picture

By: Katie Myers

Freight trucks account for 23 percent of U.S. transportation. Transportation is the No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions in America. The country’s freight industry is in no position to ignore its impact on the environment and the greater good.

We can break down the trucking industry’s environmental impact further. Each market segment emits the following amount of carbon emissions every year:
• Truckload (TL): 836 million tons of emissions
• Partials: 722 million tons of emissions
• Less-than truckload (LTL): 342 million tons of emissions

Fortunately, at least one logistics provider is committed to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Flock Freight is transforming the $400 billion freight landscape by eliminating inefficiency and waste through green shipping practices.

Emerson Grey’s picture

By: Emerson Grey

It’s Sunday night, and you decide to make a quick run to the grocery store. You grab five bananas—one for each breakfast of the work week. Then, at home, you immediately throw two of the bananas into the trash.

Who would buy fresh food and throw 40 percent of it away? Americans do, on average, every day. This 40 percent represents the overall rate of food waste in the United States. That amount of waste is the same whether you throw the bananas away immediately upon returning from the supermarket or let them brown and attract fruit flies next to the toaster. And the problem isn’t just at the consumer level; farmers, grocers, restaurants, and other businesses where food waste is rampant are huge contributors as well.

Tara García Mathewson’s picture

By: Tara García Mathewson

In October 2019, I shared the news that the classroom connectivity gap in U.S. schools is effectively closed. More than 99 percent of schools nationwide have access to speedy and reliable internet, making online learning an option for their students.

Only now it doesn’t matter. School buildings are closed because of the coronavirus, and the bandwidth that powered digital learning for kids is going unused. Now, the most important connectivity statistic is that more than 9 million students do not have internet access at home.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have demonstrated a potentially new way to make switches inside a computer’s processing chips, enabling them to use less energy and radiate less heat.

The team has developed a practical technique for controlling magnons, which are essentially waves that travel through magnetic materials and can carry information. To use magnons for information processing requires a switching mechanism that can control the transmission of a magnon signal through the device. 

Although other labs have created systems that carry and control magnons, the team’s approach brings two important firsts: Its elements can be built on silicon rather than exotic and expensive substrates, as other approaches have demanded. It also operates efficiently at room temperature, rather than requiring refrigeration. For these and other reasons, this new approach might be more readily employed by computer manufacturers.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

While sales of products like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and even home appliances have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, auto sales have experienced the opposite. Through March, April, and May 2020, total vehicle sales in the United States fell to levels not seen since the Great Recession a decade ago. Demand crashed as millions of commuters suddenly found themselves working from home or laid off, and consumers responded predictably to the economic uncertainty by putting off expensive purchases such as new cars, trucks, and SUVs.

But with the lockdowns gradually lifting across all 50 states and life returning to a more normal pace, auto dealers are feeling cautiously optimistic that sales will pick up again and increase throughout the summer months. The bigger question is whether the rest of the year can make up for the springtime slide.

Jeffrey Phillips’s picture

By: Jeffrey Phillips

Throughout human history we’ve constantly sought out tools and capital to make us more productive. From the formation of basic tools to assist in farming to real cultivation and shaping of the land for greater yields, humankind learned to grow food. Further research into genetics, fertilizers, and pesticides enabled us to rapidly scale food production. From early sweatshops to almost fully automated factories, we’ve learned how to scale manufacturing and get far more productivity from fewer workers and more machinery and automation.

In this manner, we’ve learned to improve the deployment of human labor, land, tools, machinery, and other capital to improve our quality of life. Now, we must fully engage the asset that we have the most of that is producing the least for us: data. It’s time to put our data to work.

Multiple Authors
By: Katherine Harmon Courage, Knowable Magazine

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

From mask wearing to physical distancing, individuals wield a lot of power in how the coronavirus outbreak plays out. Behavioral experts reveal what might be prompting people to act—or not.

With many states and towns lifting strict stay-at-home orders, people are faced with a growing number of new decisions. Mundane logistical questions—Should I go get my hair cut? When can I picnic with friends? What should I wear to the hardware store?—during the Covid-19 pandemic carry implications for personal and public health, in some cases life-or-death ones.

Vanessa Bates Ramirez’s picture

By: Vanessa Bates Ramirez

Long before coronavirus appeared and shattered our preexisting “normal,” the future of work was a widely discussed and debated topic. We’ve watched automation slowly but surely expand its capabilities and take over more jobs, and we’ve wondered what artificial intelligence will eventually be capable of.

The pandemic swiftly turned the working world on its head, putting millions of people out of a job and forcing millions more to work remotely. But essential questions remain largely unchanged: We still want to make sure we’re not replaced, we want to add value, and we want an equitable society where different types of work are valued fairly.

To address these issues—as well as how the pandemic has impacted them—this week Singularity University held a digital summit on the future of work. Forty-three speakers from multiple backgrounds, countries, and sectors of the economy shared their expertise on everything from work in developing markets to why we shouldn’t want to go back to the old normal.

Jessica Reiner’s picture

By: Jessica Reiner

For more than 20 years, a class of man-made, potentially cancer-causing chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has commonly been found in humans and the environment. These chemicals are used in a variety of industries and can be found in many consumer products, such as food packaging and cleaners. Many early studies showed PFAS could even be found in remote locations like the Arctic.

There is one that I remember well in which 21 of the top PFAS researchers wrote about the measurement challenges that were hindering research. I was in graduate school at the time, and this paper really resonated with me. The authors pointed out that data for these chemicals should be accurate, precise, and reproducible because it was likely these data would be used as a foundation for regulatory decisions. As I look at the current news, it seems that these regulatory decisions are now being made under the Environmental Protection Agency’s PFAS Action Plan.

Carrie Van Daele’s picture

By: Carrie Van Daele

Crossing the street or stepping backward when you encounter another person has already become a habit, as has a routine elbow bump, instead of a handshake.

And that is definitely what is needed during a health crisis. But when the time is right, as a society we must bounce back to social connectivity to prevent productivity and relationships from being forever damaged.

Humans are social beings. Sure, we have varying levels of desire for social interaction; some of us want to spend time alone, while others are more inclined to want to hang out in groups. But in one form or another, we all strive for connection with one another.

The physical distancing and forced isolation was a shock to our social system. Although it is helping the health emergency, in the long run it will hinder companies’ efforts to ramp up productivity.

During the late 1970s, I remember the Big Three automotive companies launched a “Quality of Work Life” workshop to rebuild trust between employees and their superiors after an economic downturn resulting in layoffs. The Big Three knew ramping up productivity would happen only with repaired relationships.

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