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‘Geostorm’ Movie and Climate Hacking: Are the Dangers Real?

By Jane A. Flegal and Andrew Maynard

Hollywood's latest disaster flick, "Geostorm," is premised on the idea that humans have figured out how to control the earth's climate. A powerful satellite-based technology allows users to fine-tune the weather, overcoming the ravages of climate change. Everyone, everywhere can quite literally "have a nice day," until—spoiler alert!—things do not go as planned.

Admittedly, the movie is a fantasy set in a deeply unrealistic near-future. But coming on the heels of one of the most extreme hurricane seasons in recent history, it's tempting to imagine a world where we could regulate the weather.

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Ta'u, an island in American Samoa, runs nearly 100 percent on renewable energy thanks to Tesla technology. Photo credit: Tesla

Elon Musk Wants to Rebuild Puerto Rico's Power Grid With Solar

Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló responded positively to Tesla CEO Elon Musk's offer to help restore the island's hurricane-wrecked power grid with the company's batteries and solar panels.

"Let's talk," the governor tweeted to Musk Thursday evening. "Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project."

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Puerto Rican Farm Powers On After Hurricane Thanks to Solar Energy

An ornamental plant farm in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico that was wrecked by Hurricane Maria is slowly rebuilding thanks to solar panels that power the 40-acre nursery.

Cali Nurseries grower Hector Santiago told Reuters that his $300,000 investment on 244 solar panels six years ago has allowed him to continue working.

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'World's First' Solar-Powered Indoor Farm Coming to Philadelphia

Looks like Philadelphia's first indoor vertical farm will also be the world's first to go completely solar.

Metropolis Farms, which operates out of a warehouse in South Philly, has switched on its massive 100,000 sq. foot rooftop array, according to a company blog post. The system's 2,003 solar panels generates more than half a megawatt of energy to entirely power an indoor vertical farm being built on the floor underneath.

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China Is Showing the World What Renewable Energy Dominance Looks Like

By Ben Jervey

The growth of solar energy continues to outpace forecasts and this growth, according to a report published Wednesday by the International Energy Agency, (IEA) "is a China story."

While China today is far and away the global leader in solar generation, a decade ago, the country had just 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed. That's nothing. For reference, it's actually less than is currently installed in the city of San Antonio. By the end of 2016, China had increased its solar PV capacity by nearly 800 times, with more than 77 gigawatts currently installed.

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Closed coal mine in Boone County, West Virginia. WVPB/ Janet Kunicki

Coal Will Not Bring Appalachia Back to Life, But Tech and Government Jobs Could

It was supposed to be all about jobs. When the president announced his intent to abandon the Clean Power Plan this spring and then withdraw from the Paris agreement this summer, one of the biggest reasons cited was to protect the coal jobs sustaining communities in places like Appalachia.

There's just one problem. Whatever the White House says, coal jobs are in a terminal decline and whatever cynics claim, it's not some cabal of heartless environmentalists to blame. It's the power industry itself, driven by advances in technology and simple market forces.

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Solar Technology Hits Historic 'New Era'

Solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy in 2016, surpassing the net growth of all other energy sources including coal, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA report found new solar capacity increased by 50 percent last year, and IEA executive director Fatih Birol hailed solar's rapid growth. "What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar photovoltaics [PV]," she told the Guardian: We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology up to 2022."

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World's First Solar-Powered Smartwatch Harvests Both Natural and Artificial Light

A big problem with smartwatches is that, compared to traditional watches, the internal battery can easily run out of juice.

But a San Francisco-based startup has taken a major step in solving this problem by creating the LunaR, which claims to be the world's first solar-powered smartwatch.

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Here's How Lakes Could Power the Nation

By Marlene Cimons

When the conversation turns to sources of clean renewable energy, evaporation usually isn't the first thing to come up, if at all.

Yet scientists think evaporation from U.S. lakes and reservoirs could generate almost 70 percent of the power the nation produces now. Even better, it could meet demand both day and night, solving the intermittency problems posed by solar and wind.

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