I have been convinced for a long while that renewable energy, particularly solar, is on a pathway to becoming the world's dominant form of energy. (And it's not just me — even Big Oil agrees that solar power will eventually win out.)
But I expected that expansion of renewables would only really begin to take off once the price of renewables fell below that of conventional fuels. And while the price of renewables is falling and falling, it still isn't cheaper in most countries (although, it is on course to be be cheaper than coal and nuclear by the end of the decade).
Still, that hasn't stopped Germany's massive solar rollout. As Brian Merchant of Vice notes: "Germany is now producing 28.5 percent of its energy — nearly a third — with solar, wind, hydro, and biomass. In 2000, renewables accounted for just 6 percent of its power consumption." Merchant adds that one day this year 75 percent of German power consumption came from renewables, smashing existing records.
Remember: This is not occurring in a small, obscure country, but in the industrial heartland of Europe.
Germany has done this by cleverly incentivizing its solar rollout. Electricity firms are obligated to pay producers of solar electricity a fixed tariff for solar-generated electricity fed back into the grid over the 20-year lifetime of the solar panels. This guarantee provides security for investors in photovoltaics, making solar economically sustainable earlier that it would otherwise be, thereby smoothing the transition to a renewable-energy economy and lowering carbon emissions. John Aziz
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine topped the Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon in Saturday's Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. It's the second year in a row LaVine has won the All-Star weekend event, a feat only three other players in history — including Michael Jordan — have managed.
"There was some stuff that's never been done before. I don't want to get into the greats — Mike, they're in a different breath," LaVine said. "If you really look at it as a whole, we were doing dunks that professional dunkers take four or five tries to do, and we were doing it on the first try. It was ridiculous, man."
In the second tiebreaker, LaVine sealed his victory with a between-the-legs dunk from the free-throw line. Watch below. Julie Kliegman
After years of delay, Twitter feuds, and technical difficulties, Kanye West has finally bestowed upon us his seventh album, The Life of Pablo. You can stream it through Tidal, buy it from his website, or just watch a couple of his Saturday Night Live performances below. Here's "Highlights":
And this is "Ultralight Beam." Enjoy. Julie Kliegman
In his first full day in Mexico, Pope Francis spoke directly to the issues facing the nation Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"I beg that you not underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the church," he told church leaders at a Mexico City cathedral.
The pope also delivered a speech to politicians alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto. Francis stressed the need to care about the common good, not just those who are privileged.
"Each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few, to the detriment of the good of all, the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence, and also human trafficking, kidnapping, and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development," Francis said. Julie Kliegman
In 2015, 3,545 civilians were killed due to war in Afghanistan, while 7,457 were injured, the United Nations said in a report released Sunday, The Associated Press reports.
That's a 4-percent decrease in deaths, but a 9-percent increase in injuries. The majority of the violence can be attributed to civilians caught in the ongoing crossfire between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Julie Kliegman
Donald Trump is backed into a corner in South Carolina, where he has been routinely booed by the debate audience for everything from insulting Jeb Bush to insinuating 9/11 was George W. Bush's fault. Perhaps as a result, when Ted Cruz turned his criticism on Trump, Trump came back swinging with a particular vengeance.
"You are the single biggest liar, you're probably worse than Jeb Bush," Trump said — a mighty insult in his book. Trump added that Cruz is a "nasty guy."
"This guy lied about Ben Carson…and he just continues," Trump went on.
However, Trump was met with what is becoming a familiar sound this Saturday: Boos. Watch below. Jeva Lange
— POLITICO (@politico) February 14, 2016
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are the only Cuban-Americans on the South Carolina Republican debate stage, and things got especially heated and personal when Cruz criticized a time Rubio went on Univision to speak in Spanish about his immigration policy.
When Rubio was given the chance to respond, he snapped, "I don't know how [Cruz] knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish."
Cruz countered by shouting in Spanish at Rubio. "We can do this in Spanish, if you want," he roughly said.
Some Spanish speakers took issue with Cruz's reply, however:
Spanish-speaking person here. Whatever gibberish Cruz uttered to Rubio wasn't Spanish. Gracias. #GOPDebate
— Alex Beech (@alexbeech) February 14, 2016
Anyone who heard Ted Cruz's gibberish and thought it was Spanish... Sorry you also you don't know Spanish.
— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) February 14, 2016
Nevertheless, Rubio didn't take Cruz up on the challenge, continuing on in English — but it was a moment for the books. Watch below. Jeva Lange
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) February 14, 2016
Jeb Bush and Donald Trump locked horns for the second time in the South Carolina Republican debate when Trump took a swing at one of his favorite subjects of ridicule — the Bush family.
"I am sick and tired of him going after my family," Bush began in response, going on to say that, "While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe."
Trump interrupted, pointing out that 9/11 happened while George W. Bush was in office — and was greeted with a round of angry boos.
"He had the gall to go after my mother," Bush went on. "My mom is the strongest person I know."
But Trump, never one to cede the last word, quipped, "She should be running." Jeva Lange