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Google’s Plan to Power Data Centers with Geothermal

On the tech giant’s geothermal deal, Musk’s pay package, and the climate costs of war

Google’s Plan to Power Data Centers with Geothermal
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Extreme flooding has displaced hundreds of people in Chile • Schools and tourist sites are closed across Greece due to dangerously high temperatures • A heat wave is settling over the Midwest and could last through next weekend.


1. Tesla shareholders vote on Musk’s pay package

We’ll know today whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk gets to keep his $56 billion pay package. The compensation deal was originally approved in 2018, but a Delaware court voided it earlier this year, saying it was “deeply flawed” and that shareholders weren’t made fully aware of its details. So the board is letting shareholders have their say once more. Remote voting closed at midnight last night. This morning Musk “leaked” the early vote results, claiming the resolution – along with a ballot measure to move the company from Delaware to Texas – was passing by a wide margin.

2. Google to buy geothermal energy from Nevada utility to power data centers

Google is teaming up with Nevada utility NV Energy Inc., and startup Fervo Energy, to power its data centers in the state with enhanced geothermal energy. The deal still needs to be approved by state regulators, but if it goes through, Fervo would develop a geothermal power plant to supply 115 megawatts of carbon-free electricity to NV Energy, which the utility would sell to Google. It represents “a new way that companies with very large emerging electricity loads and climate goals may get their power in regulated power markets,” Reutersexplained. Fervo is already supplying Google with about 3.5 MW of power as part of a pilot program. Its enhanced geothermal process involves drilling down beneath the Earth’s surface to harness the constant heat that radiates there.

3. Fires ravage world’s largest tropical wetland

Brazil’s tropical wetlands are on fire. The Pantanal, in central-western Brazil, spans an area twice the size of Portugal, making it the world’s largest tropical wetland. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a refuge for wildlife including the world’s largest species of jaguar, approximately 10 million caiman crocodiles, giant anteaters, and many monkeys. But all those creatures are in danger. Thanks to climate change and the El Niño weather pattern, ongoing drought in the region has led to early-season wildfires of epic proportions. In the first five months of the year there have been more than 1,300 fires, a huge increase over the 127 fires reported in the same period last year. The “real” wildfire season doesn’t start until next month and won’t peak until August or September.

4. New report quantifies climate impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused $32 billion in climate damages and has a greenhouse gas footprint equivalent to releasing at least 175 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to a new report published by Ukraine's environment ministry and several climate NGOs. This is more than the annual emissions of The Netherlands, and would be like putting 90 million new combustion engine vehicles on the road. The calculation includes “reconstruction” emissions that will be generated from rebuilding infrastructure, which requires carbon-intensive materials like steel and cement.

Initiative on GHG accounting of war

5. Ford is reportedly building a ‘secretive low-cost EV team’

Ford has reportedly been snapping up workers from its rivals to beef up its own EV talent. The company is building a “secretive low-cost EV team,” according toTechCrunch. The 300-person team includes around 50 former Rivian workers, 20 former Tesla employees, as well as people from Lucid Motors and Apple’s ill-fated EV project. Internally, Ford’s EV team is known as “Ford Advanced EV.” Doug Field, Ford’s chief EV, digital and design officer, told TechCrunch that “this team is leading the development of breakthrough EV products and technologies.”


“Conservation shouldn’t just happen in ‘pristine’ and ‘untouched’ landscapes, but in areas where wildlife have used and adapted to the human-induced changes in habitats.” –Emilie Hardouin, a conservation geneticist at Bournemouth University in the U.K., advocates for better conservation efforts in cities.

Jessica  Hullinger profile image

Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.


America Wasn’t Built for This

Why extreme heat messes with infrastructure.

Teton Pass.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

America is melting. Roads are buckling everywhere from Houston to Aurora, Colorado, and in June caused traffic jams in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Last week, a New York City bridge that had opened to let a ship pass got stuck after expanding in the heat, forcing thousands of commuters to detour. The mid-June heat wave led to thousands of flight delays; more recently, even Toronto’s Pearson International Airport warned travelers to brace for heat-related complications. Commuters along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor have been harried by heat-induced delays for weeks.

The train delays have affected an especially large population. The Northeast Corridor is the most trafficked commuter rail system in the country, with over 750,000 daily commuters. In late June, Amtrak notified customers that trains in the corridor could face delays of up to an hour in the coming weeks as heat interfered with tracks and overhead power lines. Since it issued that warning, tens of thousands of people have experienced heat-related delays.

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AM Briefing: Turbine Troubles

On broken blades, COP29, and the falling price of used electric vehicles

Vineyard Wind Is Having Turbine Troubles
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Torrential rain brought flash flooding to Toronto • A wildfire on the Hawaiian island of Kauai has been contained • Parts of southern Spain could hit 111 degrees Fahrenheit this week.


1. Intense heat waves and thunderstorms torment millions of Americans

The extreme heat wave over the East Coast may very well break a record in Washington, D.C., today that was set during the 1930s Dust Bowl: the longest stretch of days with temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The mercury yesterday hit 104 degrees, after similarly scorching numbers on Monday and Sunday, tying the existing record of three days. The National Weather Service forecasts a high of 98 degrees for Wednesday but The Washington Post said there’s “an outside chance that it hits 100 (or higher).” Either way, with humidity at 55%, it will feel torturously hot, with a potential heat index of 110 degrees. An “Extended Heat Emergency” is in effect in the city through today. Nearly 75 major cities across the Northeast, South, and Southwest are currently facing dangerous heat levels, according to The New York Times.

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A container ship.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Jesse is on vacation until August, so this is a special, Rob-only summer episode of Shift Key.

Shipping is the backbone of the modern economy. At least 80% of all goods worldwide are shipped as ocean cargo, and the global economy rises and falls on the free movement of gigantic ships across the sea. But container ships and bulk carriers burn what’s known as bunker fuel, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. The international shipping industry generates 3% of global carbon emissions, a proportion that’s projected to rise through the century.

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