‘Bromates’: Passionately advancing solar
A message about climate change and renewable energy underlies a new bromantic comedy hitting theaters next month.
In “Bromates,” directed by Court Crandall (“Old School”) and starring Josh Brener (“Silicon Valley”) and Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”) are a couple of lifelong friends – Sid, a passionate solar panel salesman, and Jonesie, an eccentric, foolhardy womanizer – are abandoned by their housemates the same day and decide to move in together. Through their misadventures, which eventually lead to a strange encounter with rapper Snoop Dogg (played by himself), Sid excitedly tells everyone he meets – even the women he tries to flirt with – about the benefits of solar energy, both for the environment as well as for energy savings.
Get a first look at the film in this exclusive clip:
The inclusion of solar factoids was very intentional. The film is the brainchild of Palmetto solar company CEO Chris Kemper, who co-wrote the screenplay with Crandall. Kemper compared “Bromates” to “Don’t Look Up” as another example of an entertaining, comedic film with an underlying message about the environment.
“You can take these narratives and make them more mainstream, however subtle it may be, it doesn’t have to catch your eye directly,” Kemper said. “So it’s more of a dialogue. After a movie you talk about it with friends, things like that.”
The film hits US theaters on October 7th.
Reducing Ethereum’s carbon footprint by 99.992 percent
Blockchain Ethereum underwent a major software update this week that experts have likened to converting a gas-powered vehicle into an electric vehicle while the car is in motion. A report by the Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute found that the update has reduced the blockchain’s power consumption – which powers the second-largest cryptocurrency, ether – by 99.988 percent and its carbon footprint by 99.992 percent.
On Thursday, Ethereum’s long-awaited “merge,” as it’s called, shifted the foundation of the blockchain without disrupting investments after nearly two years of preparation. The merger has changed the way transactions are validated using this cryptocurrency model, which unlike traditional monetary systems is not backed by a centralized institution.
The basics of the merger are complicated, but here’s the gist of what happened: The Ethereum blockchain used to rely on a “proof-of-work” security method, in which energy-intensive cryptocurrency-mining computers solve complex equations in order to Validate transactions in exchange for more cryptocurrency. to a “Proof of Stake” methodology, where significant investors validate transactions and use part of their investment as a form of collateral to keep them honest in their validations.
The move to Proof of Stake has long been recognized as the number one way to reduce the crypto industry’s carbon footprint. A White House report released this month estimates that crypto activity in the United States results in about 25 to 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, similar to the amount emitted by diesel fuel used on the country’s railroads.
“Proofs of work are inherently wasteful,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “And the merge shows that a code change from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake is possible.”
Now that Ethereum has made this shift, Bitcoin is under pressure to follow suit. According to the White House report, bitcoin accounts for about two-thirds of the electricity consumed by the crypto industry globally. The Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace, and other organizations have launched a campaign urging tech and financial leaders that have large investments in Bitcoin and are believed to have influence within the Bitcoin community to transition the blockchain to Proof of Stake.
But if Bitcoin doesn’t make the shift, Faber said, the government should step in and create energy efficiency standards for the crypto industry. The Biden administration appears poised to do so, based on their recommendations in this month’s report.
“This is a significant moment that should make the Bitcoin community realize that the financial future of this asset depends on this code change,” Faber said. “Smart people will not invest in a financial security that creates more and more climate pollution.”
Listening to young people about the climate
Young people have been at the forefront and at the center of climate advocacy in recent years as a population that will live into 2050 and beyond, when the worst effects of climate change will hit unless drastic action is taken now. Inspired by young activists, a public radio climate podcast gave their microphones to local eighth graders.
Two reporters from Higher Ground, a WSHU podcast, spent the spring with an after-school science education program in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Many of these students learned about climate change in school and understood what’s happening to the planet at large, said co-host JD Allen, a reporter for WSHU. While the students were familiar with Greta Thunberg and other activists who have blamed politicians and corporations for their inaction, many were unaware of how climate change is manifesting itself in their own backyards, Allen said.
Allen and his co-host Sabrina Garone taught the kids how to use recording equipment and encouraged them to find the effects of climate change in their neighborhoods. The five-episode podcast, funded by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Sesame Workshop, offers a glimpse inside the minds of teens as they search for these effects and ponder why they occur. The students not only found problems, Allen said, but also began to find solutions.
“They blew me out of the water. They really really did it,” he said. He recalled a young student starting the unit wondering why a shady tree in his front yard had been cut down, and just a few weeks later the student had ideas for planting trees throughout Bridgeport to provide shade increase and decrease the shadow effects of extreme heat.
“As we listen to young people and their ideas and present them to policymakers,” Allen said, “I would hope that podcast listeners will ask themselves, ‘Well, what ideas can come from young people in my community?’ ”
Climate Change Advocates and “False Social Reality”
While about two-thirds of Americans support climate policies, most people in the country believe the climate-conscious percentage makes up just over a third of the population.
The researchers drew these conclusions from a survey of more than 6,000 Americans and published their findings last month in the journal Nature Communications. Americans of all ages, educational levels, and political groups have vastly underestimated the public’s concern about climate change and support for climate policy in what researchers call a shared sense of “false social reality.”
“While proponents outnumber opponents two-to-one, people perceive it the other way around,” said study author Gregg Sparkman, an assistant professor at Boston College. “And as a result, many Americans feel alone in their concern about climate change, or perhaps feel alone in the thought that they want to do something about the problem that others don’t.”
Sparkman said he was surprised at how large that gap was. “People weren’t just a little off, but they were so far off that the perception of an overwhelming majority of Americans was completely flipped to just a minority, which for us was stunning.”
More research needs to be done to find out exactly why Americans are so misaligned in their perception of support for climate policy, Sparkman said, but this discrepancy can cause people to withhold or tone down their views on climate policy if they believe that other people do this don’t care about climate change. “If I’m worried about climate change, but I don’t think others are, then I probably think maybe I’m overreacting, maybe it’s not that big of a deal,” Sparkman said.
He hopes that the climate policies in the Inflation Reduction Act, along with continued polling of Americans’ views on climate change, will help break through this false social reality.
“Those signals that we hope will come together and help dispel this type of myth that Americans aren’t worried about climate change,” Sparkman said. “Hopefully this can create some sort of better narrative that shows the United States is a nation of people who want ambitious climate policies.”