Blackouts Illuminate India’s Power Problems

Weak links in the grid prove difficult to fix

4 min read
Kolkata cut: Life went on during the biggest blackout in history. This barber in the eastern city of Kolkata worked by candlelight.
photo: Bikas Das/ap photo

Photo of barber in the eastern city of Kolkata working by candlelight. KolKata cut: Life went on during the biggest blackout in history. This barber in the eastern city of Kolkata worked by candlelight. photo: Bikas das/ ap photo

For two consecutive days in July, India experienced blackouts that took down large portions of the country’s power grid. The second outage was the largest in history, leaving more than 600 million people, nearly a tenth of the world’s population, without electricity. The blackouts brought renewed attention to the country’s power sector, which is struggling to supply India’s growing demand. They exposed weak links in the transmission system, inadequate fail-safe systems for preventing cascading failures, and a lack of proper outage planning.

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Here’s How We Could Brighten Clouds to Cool the Earth

"Ship tracks" over the ocean reveal a new strategy to fight climate change

12 min read
Silver and blue equipment in the bottom left. A large white spray comes from a nozzle at the center end.

An effervescent nozzle sprays tiny droplets of saltwater inside the team's testing tent.

Kate Murphy
Blue

As we confront the enormous challenge of climate change, we should take inspiration from even the most unlikely sources. Take, for example, the tens of thousands of fossil-fueled ships that chug across the ocean, spewing plumes of pollutants that contribute to acid rain, ozone depletion, respiratory ailments, and global warming.

The particles produced by these ship emissions can also create brighter clouds, which in turn can produce a cooling effect via processes that occur naturally in our atmosphere. What if we could achieve this cooling effect without simultaneously releasing the greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants that ships emit? That's the question the Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) Project intends to answer.

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