Jeff Bezos Overtakes Elon Musk As World’s Richest Person

Just $200 million separates Jeff Bezos and Musk’s respective fortunes.

Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos has yet again clinched the title of world’s richest person from Elon Musk, after shares of Amazon AMZN jumped on Wednesday.

Amazon’s stock rose by nearly 1.5% on Wednesday, pushing Bezos’ net worth up by $2.4 billion, to $184.9 billion. That makes him the richest person in the world once again, according to Forbes’ estimates. Bezos is just $200 million richer than number two richest Musk, who is worth $184.7 billion.

The Tesla TSLA chief briefly took the number one spot from Bezos last Friday and again on Tuesday, Forbes calculates. Shares of Musk’s electric-vehicle maker, Tesla, rose by 0.6% on Wednesday, slightly increasing the fortune of its billionaire cofounder by nearly $1 billion.

While Musk and Bezos compete for top spot, they are both more than $30 billion richer than the world’s third-wealthiest person, French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault. He is now worth $150.5 billion, Forbes estimates.

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What Can Democrats Achieve On Climate In The U.S. Congress?

WILMINGTON, DE - DECEMBER 19: President-elect Joe Biden announces members of his climate and energy ... [+] appointments at the Queen theater on December 19, 2020 in Wilmington, DE. Biden announced his climate and energy team that will advance an ambitious agenda to address the issues of climate change. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

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While largely forgotten in today’s news cycle of the attack on the Capitol and the impeachment, last Tuesday’s Democrat victories in Georgia secured the first Democratic Party trifecta — control over the presidency, the House, and the Senate — since the 2010 midterms, enabling President-elect Biden’s ability to enact his climate agenda. The news is welcome to activists, but those hoping for a Green New Deal are likely to be disappointed by the 117th Congress – and the Biden Administration.

Biden’s climate plan leans on presidential executive orders — not legislation as a first step toward achieving net-zero domestic emissions by 2050, with hopes to reach greater milestones through Congress. Fellow Democrats have criticized his plan as lacking teeth, with progressives calling 2050 far too late. However, Biden’s plan is better suited to pass through a slim Senate majority.

What’s in Joe Biden’s energy plan exactly? Here are some highlights:

Achieve 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050Commit $400 billion to clean energy research over the next 10 yearsPursue a global moratorium on offshore drilling in the Arctic and reestablish climate change as a priority for the Arctic CouncilPhase out subsidies for fossil fuelsMake climate change a core national security priority

As Majority Leader, Schumer will at last be able to bring bills like Biden’s proposal to the Senate floor, where the Vice President-elect will keep busy breaking ties. Any climate legislation will be birthed and sculpted by Democrat-controlled committees. Senators like Tom Carper (incoming environmental chair) will undoubtedly help advance the president’s agenda and the caucus as a whole might, under more favorable circumstances, back a bolder strategy. After all, some polls show as many as 87% of Democrats support the Green New Deal.

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NGOs seek to convict French state of failing to tackle climate crisis

A Paris court has been asked to convict the French state for its alleged failure to act to halt the climate crisis.

The legal case, which is being brought by four environmental groups after a petition was signed by more than 2 million citizens, seeks to hold the country responsible for ecological damage and its detrimental health and social effects.

The NGOs hope the case will trigger greater action to limit the climate breakdown by regarding it as a human right, and say convicting the French would represent an important symbolic victory and could force other governments to do more.

The Paris agreement signed five years ago aimed to limit global warming to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels. Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2017. Environmental experts say governments, including the French administration, have failed to meet their commitments.

NGOs and climate campaigners are increasingly using the courts to push for change and put pressure on politicians. In 2019 the Dutch supreme court ordered the Netherlands to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% of 1990 levels by the end of 2020. That case was brought by an NGO.

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McKinsey: Low Cost Renewables Will Outcompete Fossil Assets By 2030

The energy transition is accelerating. 2020 saw renewables replace fossil fuels in Europe for the first time and one of the many impacts of COVID-19 has been on energy demand. According to the latest research from McKinsey, demand for fossil fuels will never return to pre-pandemic levels.

McKinsey’s 2021 Global Energy Perspective report predicts not only that fossil fuel demand will not recover post-COVID-19 but that it is set to peak globally by 2029. The really big shift in energy demand though is expected to be towards electrification, and the report projects that power demand will double as this happens, with low cost renewables outcompeting fossil fuel assets by 2030.  It also projects that by 2036, half of the global power supply will be generated by intermittent renewable energy sources.

The shift in the energy mix is expected, not due to the behavioural shifts associated with the pandemic but rather “known” long-term shifts such as decreasing car ownership, growing fuel efficiencies and a trend towards electric vehicles, whose impact is estimated to be three-to-nine times higher than the pandemic’s by 2050.

Christer Tryggestad, Senior Partner at McKinsey, says: “While the pandemic has certainly provided a substantial shock for the energy sector across all fuel sources, the story of the century is still a rapid and continuous shift to lower-carbon energy systems”. She adds however: “The share of electricity in the energy mix is set to grow by around 50% by 2050 and it’s set to capture all global energy growth as hydrocarbon consumption plateaus. .”

The challenge is that while energy systems are shifting towards renewables and an earlier peak in hydrocarbon consumption will result in lower emissions, the global carbon budget for 2100 will have been used up at some point in the 2030’s.

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Countries adapting too slowly to climate breakdown, UN warns

Millions of people around the world are facing disaster from flood, droughts, heatwaves and other extreme weather, as governments fail to take the measures needed to adapt to the impacts of climate breakdown, the UN has warned.

Nearly three-quarters of countries around the world have recognised the need to plan for the effects of global heating, but few of those plans are adequate to the rising threat, and little funding has been made available to put them into force, according to the UN environment programme’s Adaptation report 2020, published on Thursday.

Last year was the joint hottest on record, with a heatwave in Siberia, wildfires in Australia and the US, a destructive Atlantic hurricane season and storms and floods in many parts of Asia.

But spending on measures to adapt to extreme weather has failed to keep pace with the rising need, according to UNEP. Only about $30bn (£22bn) is provided each year in development aid, to help poor countries cope with the effects of the climate crisis, which is less than half of the $70bn currently estimated to be needed. Those costs are set to increase further, to between $140bn and $300bn by the end of the decade.

About half of global climate finance should be devoted to adaptation, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has said, with the rest going to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, while private companies are often willing to provide funding for some projects to reduce emissions, such as profitable renewable energy generation schemes in rapidly emerging economies, projects that help people adapt to the impact of climate change, such as early warning systems, flood barriers or storm drains, are often more difficult to finance.

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'Carbon-neutrality is a fairy tale': how the race for renewables is burning Europe's forests

Kalev Järvik stands on a bald patch of land in the heart of Estonia’s Haanja nature reserve and remembers when he could walk straight from one side of the reserve to the other under a canopy of trees.

Järvik has lived in the Haanja uplands in the southern county of Võru for more than 10 years. His closeness to the forest has shaped his life as a carpenter and the fortunes of the surrounding villages, with their handicraft traditions – a substitute for farming on the poor arable land. Upcountry, travel literature promotes the region to city dwellers, promising its ancient woodlands as a place to rest and reinvigorate the mind.

But in 2015, the Estonian government allowed what is known as clear-cutting in some parts of the Haanja nature reserve. The practice involves stripping entire areas of mature forest and removing whole tree trunks.

This relaxation of the logging rules came as international demand for Estonian wood soared – not just for furniture or construction, but because of an unlikely culprit: Europe’s renewable energy policies.

“Sometimes I can’t bear to go outside,” Järvik says, standing by the stumps left on land stripped by the logging company Valga Puu. The firm is a subsidiary of Graanul Invest Group, Europe’s biggest producer of the wood pellets which are burned on an industrial scale as biomass for heat and light in many of Europe’s former coal-fired power stations.

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NuScale Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Moves Another Step Forward

NuScale Power’s small modular reactor nuclear plant, fast on its way to be the first new SMR ... [+] deployed in the United States.

NuScale

The world is moving forward on building and deploying small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs). Canadian Nuclear Laboratories announced SMR technology as a research priority and Canada now has a roadmap for SMRs, including building an SMR demonstration plant by 2026, with Terrestrial Energy’s Integrated Molten Salt Reactor topping the list.

China is also moving fast on its 100 MW SMR designed by the China National Nuclear Corporation. Called the Linglong One, this ACP100 nuclear reactor has completed its preliminary design stage and is qualified for construction in Hainan province this year. Its first use will be to generate heat for a residential district, replacing coal-fired boilers.

But the sprint in the United States is being led by the small modular nuclear reactor company, NuScale, out of Oregon. NuScale has passed several milestones in the past few year. It was the first SMR company to file a license and design certification application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and it is the first one to have the NRC complete their reviews and approve the design – in record time.

And this week, NuScale Power, and its partner Fluor, received an order from their first customer, the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), for a cost-reimbursable development agreement to provide estimating, development, design and engineering services for their first SMR as part of their Carbon-Free Power Project.

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NuScale Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Moves Another Step Forward

NuScale Power’s small modular reactor nuclear plant, fast on its way to be the first new SMR ... [+] deployed in the United States.

NuScale

The world is moving forward on building and deploying small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs). Canadian Nuclear Laboratories announced SMR technology as a research priority and Canada now has a roadmap for SMRs, including building an SMR demonstration plant by 2026, with Terrestrial Energy’s Integrated Molten Salt Reactor topping the list.

China is also moving fast on its 100 MW SMR designed by the China National Nuclear Corporation. Called the Linglong One, this ACP100 nuclear reactor has completed its preliminary design stage and is qualified for construction in Hainan province this year. Its first use will be to generate heat for a residential district, replacing coal-fired boilers.

But the sprint in the United States is being led by the small modular nuclear reactor company, NuScale, out of Oregon. NuScale has passed several milestones in the past few year. It was the first SMR company to file a license and design certification application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and it is the first one to have the NRC complete their reviews and approve the design – in record time.

And this week, NuScale Power, and its partner Fluor, received an order from their first customer, the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), for a cost-reimbursable development agreement to provide estimating, development, design and engineering services for their first SMR as part of their Carbon-Free Power Project.

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2021 Is The Year We Turn A Corner On Climate Action

The UN’s secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, opened the last climate talks in 2019 by saying the world was “at a critical juncture in our collective efforts to limit dangerous global heating.” Last year, the now postponed COP26 summit was billed as humanity’s “last chance” to tackle the crisis.

The truth in these statements is stark. The more we delay action, the more rising emissions make it much harder to limit temperatures to safe levels. It’s simple maths.

We haven’t passed the point of no return yet. Even if we had, the shift to a zero-carbon economy would still be economically inevitable. The next 12 months will determine what that transition looks like, whether we embrace change, securing the move to clean energy and decisively turn a corner in the fight against climate change; or, take a meandering route that could be more expensive both economically and environmentally in the long run.

As Europe seeks to recover from coronavirus, the promises made on a green recovery need to be borne out with new policies and major zero-carbon investments. The latest European Union coronavirus recovery package, combined with its new long-term budget, amounts to €1.8 trillion, 30% of which has been ringfenced to fight climate change. We should start to see the fruits of this labour over the coming months, especially as we turn the tide on the virus.

The pandemic has turbocharged the climate movement in Europe, leading to bigger and bolder commitments from national governments. At the back end of 2020, we saw a rush of clean energy and climate plans from the UK. A long-awaited energy white paper outlined how the government aims to put the country firmly on course to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This came shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’.

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A Bill Gates Venture Aims To Spray Dust Into The Atmosphere To Block The Sun. What Could Go Wrong?

The Sun setting into a pall of forest fire smoke over Alberta from fires in BC and elsewhere, on ... [+] August 17, 2018 This shows the dimming and reddening of the Sun as it set, with it disappearing from view long before it reached the horizon This was from home in southern Alberta, and is a Lighten blend mode stack of 20 images taken at 10 minute intervals, and shot on Auto Exposure with the Canon 6D MkII and 35mm lens The frames are part of a larger 200-frame timelapse processed with LRTimelapse. (Photo by: VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Microsoft’s MSFT billionaire founder Bill Gates is financially backing the development of sun-dimming technology that would potentially reflect sunlight out of Earth’s atmosphere, triggering a global cooling effect. The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), launched by Harvard University scientists, aims to examine this solution by spraying non-toxic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dust into the atmosphere — a sun-reflecting aerosol that may offset the effects of global warming. 

Widespread research into the efficacy of solar geoengineering has been stalled for years due to controversy. Opponents believe such science comes with unpredictable risks, including extreme shifts in weather patterns not dissimilar to warming trends we are already witnessing. Environmentalists similarly fear that a dramatic shift in mitigation strategy will be treated as a green light to continue emitting greenhouse gases with little to no changes in current consumption and production patterns.

SCoPEx will take a small step in its early research this June near the town of Kiruna, Sweden, where the Swedish Space Corporation has agreed to help launch a balloon carrying scientific equipment 12 miles (20 km) high. The launch will not release any stratospheric aerosols. Rather, it will serve as a test to maneuver the balloon and examine communications and operational systems. If successful, this could be a step towards a second experimental stage that would release a small amount of CaCO3 dust into the atmosphere.

David Keith, a professor of applied physics and public policy at Harvard University, recognizes the “very many real concerns” of geoengineering. It is true that no one knows what will happen until the CaCO3 is released and then studied afterward. Keith and fellow SCoPEx scientists published a paper in 2017 suggesting that the dust may actually replenish the ozone layer by reacting with ozone-destroying molecules. “Further research on this and similar methods could lead to reductions in risks and improved efficacy of solar geoengineering methods,” write the authors of the paper.

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Warren Buffett’s Iowa Wind Power Expansion Derailed By The Bridges Of Madison County

MidAmerican Energy's plans to install 52 wind turbines in Madison County, Iowa are likely to be ... [+] derailed by an ordinance passed on December 22 by the county's Board of Supervisors that requires 1.5 mile setbacks from non-participating landowners. It also sets strict noise limits and eliminates tax breaks for wind projects.

Photo illustration by Mary Bryce. Photo of Roseman Covered Bridge, Madison County, Iowa by Teddi Yaeger via Wikimedia Commons.

Back in 2014, Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B , famously said “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them.”

Since then, MidAmerican Energy, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, has aggressively built lots of wind farms and now expects to collect $10 billion in federal tax credits on the $12.9 billion it has spent erecting wind turbines. But Buffett’s company’s push to add even more turbines in Iowa is being derailed by the bridges of Madison County. 

On December 22, the province that has become renowned for its picturesque wood-covered bridges became the second Iowa county to ban wind projects. By a 2-1 margin, the Madison County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that prohibits installation of wind projects within 1.5 miles of non-participating landowners, limits the height of turbines to less than 500 feet, imposes strict noise limits, and eliminates property-tax breaks. 

While the new ordinance doesn’t explicitly ban wind projects, the combination of provisions, will “stop them cold,” says Diane Fitch, a member of Madison County’s Board of Supervisors. In an email, Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for MidAmerican, told me that the ordinance “could potentially stall” part of the company’s proposed Arbor Hill project, which aims to put 52 turbines in the county

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Masdar: A Green Print For The Shift From Fossil Fuel Dependence?

As Masdar hits its 15-year anniversary and the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee, we talked to Masdar’s chief executive Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi about how Masdar has moved from a focus on clean energy to the development of an ecosystem of change.

As Masdar enters 2021, it has a lot to celebrate. A 2019 target to double its renewable energy capacity within five years was met by the end of 2020. This is a remarkable achievement given that when the business was launched in 2006, renewable energy was considered an uncompetitive alternative energy source. Today Faith Birol, General Secretary of the IEA has dubbed solar the king of electricity, and solar is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many regions. 

Al Ramahi says: “In certain moments it has felt as if we were swimming against the tide but now countries all over the world have come to the same realisation. Our approach is of essential strategic importance for our nation.” Masdar, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Mubadala Investment Company, was set up to fulfil what Al Ramahi calls, “the strategic visionary thinking of the leadership, to diversify from our dependence on fossil fuels economy in order to generate power and water.” He says, “from the early days the UAE has committed to sustainable living”.

This is vitally important in a region at risk from environmental degradation and the impacts of climate change. In the UAE only 5% of the land is arable and has little potable water. Groundwater provides just over 50% of the UAE’s water supply, and desalination provides 37%, with around 12% being reclaimed water used for irrigation. Yet with development comes increased water and energy demand.

In the UAE, water demand is expected to increase by 30% to 2030. With seawater desalination requiring 10 times more energy than surface freshwater production, its cost is projected to increase by 300%. The trade-off between power and water that means around one third of Abu Dhabi’s carbon footprint now comes from the production of water and electricity. This must be addressed, as Abu Dhabi was the first Arabian Gulf state to sign up to the Paris Agreement and has committed to action on emissions.   

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Why are ocean warming records so important?

As if 2020 could get any worse, the latest research showed that oceans hit their highest recorded temperatures, a record that keeps getting broken year after year.

Why are the oceans so important? It is quite simple: almost all of the extra heat we gain because of greenhouse gases ultimately ends up in the oceans. In fact, the oceans absorb more than 90% of the excess heat. Consequently, if you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming.

I am part of a team of 20 climate scientists who just published new research in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. We collected temperature measurements spread out across the world’s oceans – measurements that in some cases, went back to the 1950s and even earlier. These data paint an unambiguous picture of a warming planet – warming that is a direct consequence of human emission of greenhouse gases.

Ocean warming has been continuing apace for as long as we have made measurements. Scientists acknowledge year-to-year records, but the long-terms trends are what matter most. Any single year that is warm or cold cannot prove or disprove global warming. The more important issue is, what happens year after year after year? Is there a trend?

ocean warming graph

The unambiguous answer is yes.

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Climate crisis: record ocean heat in 2020 supercharged extreme weather

The world’s oceans reached their hottest level in recorded history in 2020, supercharging the extreme weather impacts of the climate emergency, scientists have reported.

More than 90% of the heat trapped by carbon emissions is absorbed by the oceans, making their warmth an undeniable signal of the accelerating crisis. The researchers found the five hottest years in the oceans had occurred since 2015, and that the rate of heating since 1986 was eight times higher than that from 1960-85.

Reliable instrumental measurements stretch back to 1940 but it is likely the oceans are now at their hottest for 1,000 years and heating faster than any time in the last 2,000 years. Warmer seas provide more energy to storms, making them more severe, and there were a record 29 tropical storms in the Atlantic in 2020.

The world's oceans were the hottest ever recorded in 2020

Hotter oceans also disrupt rainfall patterns, which lead to floods, droughts and wildfires. Heat also causes seawater to expand and drive up sea levels. Scientists expect about 1 metre of sea level rise by the end of the century, endangering 150 million people worldwide.

Furthermore, warmer water is less able to dissolve carbon dioxide. Currently, 30% of carbon emissions are absorbed by the oceans, limiting the heating effect of humanity’s burning of fossil fuels.

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Top scientists warn of 'ghastly future of mass extinction' and climate disruption

The planet is facing a “ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health and climate-disruption upheavals” that threaten human survival because of ignorance and inaction, according to an international group of scientists, who warn people still haven’t grasped the urgency of the biodiversity and climate crises.

The 17 experts, including Prof Paul Ehrlich from Stanford University, author of The Population Bomb, and scientists from Mexico, Australia and the US, say the planet is in a much worse state than most people – even scientists – understood.

“The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms – including humanity – is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts,” they write in a report in Frontiers in Conservation Science which references more than 150 studies detailing the world’s major environmental challenges.

The delay between destruction of the natural world and the impacts of these actions means people do not recognise how vast the problem is, the paper argues. “[The] mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilisation.”

The report warns that climate-induced mass migrations, more pandemics and conflicts over resources will be inevitable unless urgent action is taken.

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BlackRock holds $85bn in coal despite pledge to sell fossil fuel shares

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, holds investments worth $85bn in coal companies, a year after it promised to sell most of its shares in producers of the fossil fuel.

A loophole in the asset manager’s policy means it is still allowed to hold shares in companies that earn less than a quarter of their revenues from coal, meaning it has held on to shares or bonds from some of the world’s biggest coalminers and polluters. Those companies included the Indian conglomerate Adani, the UK-listed commodities companies BHP and Glencore, and the German energy company RWE, according to research by Reclaim Finance and Urgewald, two campaign groups.

Coal production is seen as one of the dirtiest ways of generating power, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculated that coal-fired power generation would have to be all but eliminated by 2050 to prevent global heating of more than 1.5°C.

Investors have gradually taken note, and BlackRock’s coal divestment pledge, first made in January 2020, was hailed by activists as a victory. Environmental groups hoped that other asset managers would follow the lead of BlackRock, which managed assets worth $7.8tn (£5.7tn) at the end of September.

The campaigners who carried out the latest research have now called for the CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink, to divest fully from coal, including from its $24bn in assets in companies planning to expand coal production, such as Japan’s Sumitomo and Korea’s Kepco.

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Affordable Vehicle Sales Fell 35% In 2020 While High-End Vehicle Sales Surged

The Audi S7 sells for around $80,000, putting it in the price band of vehicles that saw sales ... [+] increase some 20% last year in the U.S. as some well-off American households found themselves with extra cash to spend.

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In another sign of the pandemic’s unequal impact on American consumers, sales of vehicles costing less than $20,000 plummeted 35% in 2020 while sales of many high-end vehicles rose 20% or more compared to the previous year, data through November 2020 show. 

The U.S. economy imploded earlier this year before bouncing back, but job losses were heavily concentrated among Americans in lower-income brackets, depriving them of income they might otherwise have used to buy cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) or pickups, analysts said.

At the same time, Americans with higher household income and those with office jobs who could transition to working from home have found themselves with extra cash as a result of spending less and banking government stimulus checks. Sales of vehicles that cost between $70,000 and $80,000 rose 22% year-on-year through November 2020 while sales of vehicles costing between $80,000 and $90,000 were up 20%, according to data provided by J.D. Power, a market research company. 

“Among those that have stayed employed, they have a lot of ways to save money and are buying a lot of big-ticket items, including vehicles,” said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power, in a phone interview. 

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Elon Musk Is Back At No. 1 Richest Person In The World After Tesla Stock Rebounds

Tesla’s stock snapped back on Tuesday, adding billions of dollars to Musk’s fortune and again making ... [+] him the wealthiest person on the planet.

Saul Martinez/Getty Images

Tesla’s TSLA billionaire CEO and cofounder, Elon Musk, is again the richest person in the world after shares of his electric-vehicle maker rebounded on Tuesday. Just $1.4 billion below him is Jeff Bezos at No. 2 richest.

Tesla’s stock rose by 4.7% on Tuesday, pushing Musk’s net worth up by $7.8 billion, to $183.8 billion. That bumps him up to number one spot as the wealthiest person on the planet, according to Forbes’ estimates. Musk is now just ahead of Amazon AMZN CEO Jeff Bezos, who has a net worth of $182.4 billion.

Musk first passed Bezos to claim the title of world’s richest person last Friday, but then dropped to the No. two spot on Monday as Tesla shares fell nearly 8%.

His fortune has grown at an unprecedented rate over the past year, rising by around $160 billion since March 2020, when he was worth $24.6 billion. Much of that increase is thanks to Tesla’s skyrocketing stock price (shares rose more than 720% in 2020). The electric-vehicle maker was added to the S&P 500 Index in late December 2020, a move that further drove up its share price. 

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The Biden Administration And Energy Part II - International Relations

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JANUARY 08: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (L) looks on as U.S. ... [+] President-elect Joe Biden (R) delivers remarks after he announced cabinet nominees that will round out his economic team, including secretaries of commerce and labor, at The Queen theater on January 08, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden announced he is nominating Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as his commerce secretary, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh his labor secretary and Isabel Guzman, a former Obama administration official, as head of the Small Business Administration. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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President Biden’s first move on energy internationally likely will be one of his most unfortunate actions - rejoining the Paris Climate Accords. Unfortunately, he will have no choice, since he has consistently pledged to do so. This will be met with international acclaim, but as I have written before will be substantially limiting in the long run. 

 In order to make any real dent in combating climate change, the world will need to constrict the growth of CO2 emissions from China, whose emissions exceed those of the United States and the European Union combined. That is unlikely to happen, especially with China being able to say it is following its commitment under the Paris regime (which it will be).

Meanwhile, the new Administration will be under extreme pressure to implement parts of the Green New Deal. As he does so, Mr. Biden needs to be cognizant of the failures of other nations who have tried radical energy solutions. Foremost is Germany, whose “Energiewende” model has failed miserably.  

Despite substantial sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany and the companies involved in its construction, last month German Chancellor Angela Merkel approved restarting construction of the final 100-mile link. This pipeline solidifies German subservience to Russian gas imports, which are produced with little regard for the environment. It also bypasses Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States, depriving them of much needed revenue. More than ten years after Germany established “Energiewende,” it now ties itself more closely to Russia in order to provide energy for itself.

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Vaccines Are Evaluated With Clinical Trials - Climate Science Uses Peer Review

The Washington Post is reporting that a recent Trump appointee to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released unauthorized climate papers bearing the imprint of the Executive Office of the President. These papers, called the “Climate Change Flyers,” questioned the seriousness of climate change. After my eyes rolled back into place, my first thought was disbelief that narrative is still out there. It is 2021. The Earth is sending obvious signals, and a clear consensus exists in the scientific literature. Speaking of peer review literature, it is our version of a “clinical trial” in the science world.

IN SPACE - SEPTEMBER 12: In this NASA handout image taken from aboard the International Space ... [+] Station, shows Hurricane Florence as it travels west in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the U.S. on September 12, 2018. Coastal cities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under evacuation orders as the Category 2 hurricane approaches the United States. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

Getty Images

According to Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman of the Washington Post Capitol Weather Gang, who published this story after scientist Peter Gleick tweeted about it, the papers issued by the NOAA officials and other scientists claim, “that human-caused global warming “involves a large measure of faith” and that computer models are “too small and slow” to produce meaningful climate simulations.” There were concerns about late term appointments to NOAA as the agency geared up for the National Climate Assessment report. However, I leave it to others to discuss that part of the story. My goal is to make you aware of caution flags when consuming science reports.

I use the context of clinical trials because we are all struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has ravaged lives, lifestyles and our economy. The ray of hope is the rapid development and distribution of vaccines. However, those vaccines had to go through clinical trials. What are clinical trials? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website, they are the, “primary way that researchers find out if a new treatment, like a new drug or diet or medical device (for example, a pacemaker) is safe and effective in people.” In other words, the U.S. government was not going to allow COVID-19 vaccines to be administered to people until their efficacy and side effects were evaluated.

09 January 2021, Berlin: In the vaccination centre at the Velodrom, extras sit in vaccination booths ... [+] during a trial run. A vaccination centre has been set up in the Velodrom where vaccinations against the coronavirus can be given. Photo: Christophe Gateau/dpa (Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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