Like in Australia, the USA's energy mix is under scrutiny. A report commissioned by US Energy Secretary Rick "I Once Said I Wanted to Abolish the Agency I Now Run" Perry acknowledges that low natural gas prices—not renewables—are behind the recent closure of coal energy plants, and that the grid has managed to withstand the increasing presence of renewable energy. According to an unrelated study published this week in the journal Joule, the world is poised to give up fossil fuels altogether.
By the end of the year, South Australia will be home to the world's biggest battery, if Elon Musk and Tesla make good on an ambitious commitment. The battery installation will be hooked up to a 99-turbine wind farm (which is still being built) and serve as an energy reservoir to ensure that the region has enough power, even during times when power demand peaks.
In early March, D.C.'s famed cherry blossoms were ready to pop. An unusually balmy February had nudged the trees from the naked skeletal branches of dull dormancy into full flower production mode. Although most of the flowers were still young—little more than buds—some had reached a status worthy of peeping, with full “puffy white” blossoms. And then came a week of not wholly unexpected back-to-back hard freezes. It was early March, after all, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration doesn't declare Washington free from frost risk until the end of April.
In preparation for war in 1940s, U.S. Army tanks crunched across the wild deserts of Southern California, leaving tracks that will remain for thousands of years. Jeffrey Lovich, a U.S. Geologic Survey research ecologist, has trekked through these harsh desert environs for decades, and sometimes comes across the tank- imprinted past. “It's a consequence of history,” he says.