Numlock News: August 6, 2020 • Penguins, Plants, Postponements
By Walt Hickey
WE DID IT
According to the Brookings Institution, 50.7 percent of U.S. residents were under the age of 40 as of July 2019, meaning that the combined Millennial, Gen Z and their youngers amounted to 166 million Americans, and the Gen X-Boomer-and Ups were 162 million people. That stat could be terrifying for any number of reasons, like if you’re a Gen X-er who is not particularly cool with the framing that the good people at Brookings have teed up here. The oldest millennial is 39, so maybe it’s a great time to stop using it as a synonym for “youths” because statistically a majority of millennials have lower back pain. While Millennials and Gen Z have the numbers, if it’s any consolation the Boomers continue to control most of the wealth, housing equity, stocks, earning power, pensions, political power, electoral college influence, tenure, congressional representation, media control, corporate leadership, cabinet positions, access to capital and disposable income. So, got that going for them.
A Morning Consult survey conducted last weekend found only 32 percent of NFL fans think the league should begin its season as planned on September 10, with 33 percent backing postponing the season and 18 percent saying they think the league is best off cancelling the 2020 season. That last number is significant because it exceeds the baseline coalition of Browns, Jags, Jets and Dolphins fans who would prefer that the NFL just forgo play and scrap the season under normal conditions. An outright majority thinks the college football season should be delayed or cancelled, with 34 percent of self-avowed NCAA football fans backing a postponement and 24 percent pushing cancellation.
Analysis of satellite imagery has found new Emperor penguin breeding sites in Antarctica, a discovery that will increase the estimated population of the Emperor penguins by 5 to 10 percent to 278,000 breeding pairs. Given their remote location and miserable conditions, penguin populations are found by scanning aerial imagery and locating enormous pages of ice that have been stained with guano (penguin feces). The new discoveries bring the number of known breeding sites to 61, an upgrade from the previously known 50.
Wireless charging is neat, but also wasteful. An analysis of energy use found that charging a Pixel 4 from dead to 100 percent on a classic cable took 14.26 watt-hours, while doing so with a wireless charger took 21.01 watt-hours, a 47 percent increase. For a single phone and a single charger this is a very small amount of energy, but at scale it could pose serious problems: if the 3.5 billion smartphones in service all took 50 percent more power to get a charge, the impact would be enormous. It’s estimated it takes the equivalent of 73 or so 50MW coal plants running for a day to charge 3.5 billion smartphones from 0 to 100 percent, so any increased popularity of wireless charging in the absence of serious efficiency gains isn’t a great trade-off for an incredibly mild convenience.
Sales of plant-based meat alternatives are doing vastly better than ever before, with sales of refrigerated plant proteins up 113.6 percent in the week ending July 26 compared to the same week of 2019. All told that week there were $21.3 million in sales in the category of meat and burgers that are Impossible, Improbable, Benevolent, Alleged and Beyond in nature. Now thoroughly in the mainstream, the Impossible Burger brand has made it to Walmart shelves this year, putting it in 8,000 total locations nationwide, which is fifty times their retail footprint compared to just March 2020. For rival Beyond Meat, sales were up 194.9 percent in Q2.
This year will be the end of the PlayStation 4, as the PlayStation 5 emerges near the holidays to replace it. This information will come as news to people who bought a truly enormous volume of PlayStation 4 games between April and June, the single best second quarter in the history of PlayStation 4, with $5.65 billion worth of revenue, up 36 percent year over year. The bulk of that was in digital software sales — hardware and packaged games are down 22 percent — with $3.72 billion in sales for PlayStation. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is widely expected to be the best-selling PS5 title of the year come its release in the holidays, but global lockdowns are going to give the PS4 one last burst.
The United States’ PACE financing program provides people with financing to install solar panels, battery storage, and more resilient and insulated roofs and windows for homes and businesses. By 2025, it’s expected to put up $2 billion annually, which is teensy tiny in the $11 trillion home mortgage market, but, nevertheless, a good push for upgrades that can have considerable return-on-investment in terms of climate. Every $1 million in PACE upgrades is calculated to avoid 1,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or roughly 300 passenger cars in a year. Last week, Fannie Mae priced single-family home green bonds intended for mortgages for new homes that meet more onerous certification standards, and expects to make efficiency standards more important moving forward.
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