GOOD

In the Energy Wars, It’s Solar Power: 1, Fossil Fuels: 0. For Now.

The U.S. solar industry is expanding at a breakneck pace, though the growth may not be sustainable.

According to a new survey from The Solar Foundation, the U.S. solar industry is expanding at a breakneck pace—so quickly that it’s a major driver of the nation’s economy. One out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. since 2013 was part of the solar industry—representing 1.3 percent of all new jobs. According to the survey, solar jobs grew 21.8 percent last year, with 36,000 new jobs on the way for 2015.


From installation to sales, solar jobs drastically outnumber fossil fuel jobs. But the industry still makes up a tiny slice of America’s energy pie. Image via Flickr user cgulyas2002

As of November 2014, solar employment reached a total of 173,807 workers, quickly encroaching on oil and gas extraction, which in the same time period employed 201,000. Last year, solar added nearly 50 percent more jobs (31,000) than oil and gas pipeline construction (10,529) and crude petroleum and natural gas extraction (8,688) combined. Meanwhile, coal mining employment has long been trending downward; the last available numbers come from 2013, when there were just over 80,000 coal miners—a decrease of more than 10 percent from 2012. That means there are at least twice as many solar workers as coal miners today, though it’s possible the disparity may be even greater. It’s important to note, however, that The Solar Foundation’s survey asks us to look at the solar industry as a whole—including installation, sales and distribution, product development, and manufacturing—while taking a narrow view of coal (only mining) and oil and gas (just extraction).

Solar is still a tiny slice of the American energy pie: It’s projected to make up 10 percent of our energy needs, but not until 2030. For now, a mere 0.4 percent of U.S. electricity comes from the solar sector. And all those jobs may simply be a side effect of the hands-on labor required for rooftop installation of solar panels (approximately 56 percent of solar jobs are installation-related); as this process becomes more efficient, fewer jobs will be necessary. Plus, a major industry slowdown is expected in 2017. That’s when a major federal tax credit—which, according to the survey, has “significantly improved” business for 73 percent of solar companies—is set to expire.

Still, over the next five years, 175 coal-fired power plants (more than 10 percent of total capacity) are expected to shut down. And increasing corporate investment in renewable energy demonstrates solar’s promise as both a financial and literal powerhouse. With new solar systems being installed every four minutes in the U.S., enthusiasm for clean energy is clearly on the rise, even if low prices (and the tax credits and subsidies that make those prices possible) are a major cause.

According to a recent report from the International Energy Agency, the continued success of renewable energy sources depends upon regulators working together to develop consistent policy in support of green energy: “Where there is a record of policy incoherence, confusing signals or stop-and-go policy cycles, investors end up paying more for their finance, consumers pay more for their energy, and some projects that are needed simply will not go ahead.”

Prices fluctuate all the time, but when effective policies remain in support of a common long-term goal, progress (and money) can be made.

Illustration by Addison Eaton

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Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

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Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert

This election cycle, six women threw their hat in the ring for president, but is their gender holding them back? Would Americans feel comfortable with a woman leading the free world? Based on the last election, the answer is a swift no. And a new study backs this up. The study found that only 49% of American men would feel very comfortable with a woman serving as the head of the government. By comparison, 59% of women said they would feel comfortable with a woman in charge.

The Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which measures attitude towards women leaders, evaluated the attitudes of those living in the G7 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. 22,000 adults in those 11 countries were surveyed on their attitudes about female leadership in 22 different sectors, including government, fashion, technology, media, banking and finance, education, and childcare.

Only two countries, Canada and the U.K., had a majority of respondents say they would be more comfortable with a female head of state. Germany (which currently has a female Chancellor), Japan, and Russia were the countries least comfortable with a female head of state.

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Culture
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

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Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

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Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

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