Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Electric Vehicles

Tesla Is Reportedly Making Big Layoffs This Week

On Musk’s workforce cuts, Appliance Week, and flooding in Russia

Tesla Is Reportedly Making Big Layoffs This Week
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Temperatures in Sapporo, Japan, surpassed 77 degrees Fahrenheit today, earlier than ever before • Gale-force winds are blasting Britain • The weather is looking greatfor the Boston Marathon.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Tesla reportedly lays off 10% of global workforce

Tesla has reportedly laid off “more than 10%” of its global workforce, according to Jameson Dow at Electrek. In an internal company-wide email, CEO Elon Musk said “this will enable us to be lean, innovative and hungry for the next growth phase cycle.” The exact headcount isn’t clear but Dow calculates a 10% cut would bring the number of workers newly out of a job to about 14,000. The news wasn’t unexpected – employees had been whispering about potential layoffs for a few weeks, and their angst was fueled by the announcement last Thursday that Cybertruck production shifts at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Texas would be shortened, starting today. Dow notes the layoffs will hurt morale, “which is a shame, because we do need Tesla to keep pushing things forward, and to keep attracting the best and brightest.”

2. House Republicans pivot from appliances to Iran crisis

House Republicans canceled a plan to put forward six new bills related to household appliances and energy standards this week and will focus instead on responding to rising tensions between Iran and Israel. The bills were going to be a “coordinated legislative offensive on the Department of Energy’s efficiency standards,” reportedE&E News. It’s not clear if or when the bills will be heard.

X/jamiedupree

3. Biden administration increases fees for oil and gas drilling on public lands

In case you missed it: The Biden administration late last week moved to hike fees for drilling for oil and gas on public lands. The New York Times explained it nicely: “The nation’s largest property owner, the federal government, effectively charges rent to oil and gas companies that exploit public land for private profit.” Now it is hiking its rates. The new rules, which could take effect in 60 days, raise royalty rates, lease rents, minimum auction bids, as well as “bonding rates,” which are upfront payments “to cover the cost of plugging abandoned oil and gas wells,” Reutersreported. The new minimum lease bonds will be $150,000 per lease, up from $10,000. Royalty rates will rise from 12.5% to 16.67%. The government estimates the rules would increase costs for fossil fuel companies by about $1.5 billion through 2031. Some of the money will go toward cleaning up old abandoned oil and gas wells.

Get Heatmap AM directly in your inbox every morning:

* indicates required
  • 4. Intense flooding prompts more evacuations in Russia, Kazakhstan

    Flooding continues along the Russia-Kazakhstan border, where huge amounts of snowmelt from the Ural Mountains, coupled with heavy rain, overwhelmed the Ob-Irtysh river system, the world’s seventh largest. The Tobol River, which is usually frozen this time of year, rose by 9 inches in just four hours this morning. More than 125,000 people have been evacuated since the flooding began earlier this month. Flooding is common for the region in the spring, but this year has been particularly bad. Experts say the soil was already saturated before winter, and higher-than usual snowfall followed by a burst of warm weather made for ideal flood conditions. Maria Shahgedanova, a professor of climatic science at Reading University, said extreme flooding is likely to become more common because climate change is causing heavier snowfall in the area. “We’re looking at a 7% increase in (snow) precipitation where there is one degree temperature change,” she said.

    5. New pilot project to test highway that charges EVs on the go

    Indiana has broken ground on a pilot project that will allow electric vehicles to charge wirelessly as they drive down the highway. The technology was developed by Purdue University and is being put to the test on a quarter-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 52 in West Lafayette, Indiana, Inside Climate Newsreported. It will charge cars as they travel up to speeds of 65 miles per hour. “If you have a cellphone and you place it on a charger, there is what’s called magnetic fields that are coming up from the charger into that phone,” said Steve Pekarek, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue. “We’re doing something similar.” Cars would have to be equipped with special receivers to be compatible with the wireless charging, so even when the system is up and running next summer it won’t yet benefit existing EV drivers. “This is a simple solution,” Pekarek said. “There are complicated parts of it, and that we leave to the vehicle manufacturers.” The state’s Department of Transportation hopes the project will help in the quest to ease range anxiety for would-be EV buyers, and electrify long-haul trucking.

    THE KICKER

    Researchers say they’ve found a way to make the common pain-reliever acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) from compounds found in wood, instead of from chemicals derived from crude oil.


    Yellow
    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.

    Technology

    The Little Weather Balloon Company Taking on Google DeepMind

    AI has already changed weather forecasting forever.

    A WindBorne Systems balloon.
    Heatmap Illustration/WindBorne Systems, Getty Images

    It’s been a wild few years in the typically tedious world of weather predictions. For decades, forecasts have been improving at a slow and steady pace — the standard metric is that every decade of development leads to a one-day improvement in lead time. So today, our four-day forecasts are about as accurate as a one-day forecast was 30 years ago. Whoop-de-do.

    Now thanks to advances in (you guessed it) artificial intelligence, things are moving much more rapidly. AI-based weather models from tech giants such as Google DeepMind, Huawei, and Nvidia are now consistently beating the standard physics-based models for the first time. And it’s not just the big names getting into the game — earlier this year, the 27-person team at Palo Alto-based startup Windborne one-upped DeepMind to become the world’s most accurate weather forecaster.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Blue
    Climate

    AM Briefing: ‘Catastrophic Urban Flooding’

    On severe rainfall across the globe, Musk’s payday, and La Niña

    It’s Not Just Florida That’s Flooded Right Now
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: Mexico recorded its hottest June day ever, with temperatures reaching 125.4 degrees Fahrenheit • Southern China is bracing for heavy rain that could last through next week • It is warm and sunny in Italy’s Puglia region, where the 50th G7 summit will wrap up tomorrow.

    THE TOP FIVE

    1. An update on extreme flooding in Florida – and across the globe

    Much of south Florida remains under water as a tropical storm system dumps buckets of rain on the region. The deluge began Tuesday and will continue today with “considerable to locally catastrophic urban flooding,” but should diminish over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. In Hallandale Beach, near Fort Lauderdale, about 20 inches of rain had fallen by Thursday with more on the way. Seven million people in the state were under flood watches or warnings.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Yellow
    Electric Vehicles

    Tesla Is Doomed to Be Interesting

    We’ll never know what a Tesla without Elon Musk could have looked like.

    Elon Musk getting erased.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Elon Musk got his money.

    At a meeting on Thursday, Tesla shareholders voted to re-approve an enormous pay package for Musk, the CEO, worth $45 billion or more depending on Tesla’s fluctuating stock price. The deal had been struck down in January by a judge in Delaware, where the EV company is (for now) incorporated. Musk spent much of the intervening months campaigning on his social network, X, for the gigantic package to be reinstated.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Blue