Innovations - February 1
Electric air taxis, vaccination and climate change policies
Stuck in traffic?
Though the FAA has not (yet) permitted air taxis for commercial operation, there are multiple companies in the eVOTL market with companies like Wisk Aero raising $450 million from Boeing and Joby Aviation going public providing them more than $1.5 billion in capital. Earlier CNBC reported, “The market for flying cars, now known as electric air taxis, should continue to mature during this decade, soaring to $1.5 trillion globally by 2040.”
These vehicles are essentially better designed helicopters (not really flying cars), which are electric-powered, self-flying with remote human supervision, able to transport several passengers, designed for short journeys, and of course available via a mobile app. The social benefit, beyond living like a Jetson, ostensibly would be to help alleviate traffic burdens in congested cities and provide services to underserved geographic areas. Since they are electric powered, the potential decrease in cars on the road should alleviate air pollution as well.
Should America vaccinate children?
As of today, the CDC still defines people as fully vaccinated “two weeks after their second dose in a two-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine. Fully vaccinated, however is not the same as optimally protected. To be optimally protected, a person needs to get a booster shot when and if eligible.”
Yet ABC News just reported “As of Wednesday, just under half of those who are eligible to receive a booster -- about 85 million Americans -- have yet to receive their additional shot, and data shows that each day, fewer and fewer Americans are getting vaccinated.” The article goes on to say that Dr. Fauci thinks “it is still unclear whether an additional booster shot will be recommended, as scientists are still trying to determine how much protection is provided by the first booster.”
The confusion only can increase anxiety for those wanting to know if we are safe to resume life..ever. Now take Sweden.
When will COVID end?
In late September 2021, the White House announced plans to send an additional 500 million COVID-19 vaccines totaling more than 1.1 billion vaccines to be donated to nations worldwide. Yet as we approach the second anniversary of the March 2020 shutdown, Americans (and citizens across the globe) continue to suffer, from inflationary pricing due to ongoing supply chain issues being exacerbated to changing workplace and school rules for when/how we can be together in-person to of course the ongoing health issues for those infected.
Though U.S. intentions may have been to end COVID (as a serious health and economic threat) as soon as possible, as of today less than 400 million doses of the 1.1 billion vaccine dose pledge have actually been delivered. Of the more than 7.5 billion people living on this planet, the World Bank estimates that at least 65% are older than 15 years old, which is at least 5 billion people. Those numbers put in context would indicate that we as a species need a much more robust and collaborative effort to fight this pandemic. Though there is a segment of our nation’s population (and in the world) which are consciously not being vaccinated, the more dominant global issue today is vaccine supply and distribution.
According to the Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity published by the United Nations, 68% of people living in high income countries have been vaccinated while less than 12% of people living in low-income countries have received at least 1 vaccine dose. Many low-income nations do not have vaccine research and production facilities and cannot safely store Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which require ultra-cold storage far exceeding standard refrigeration capabilities.
Is the Biden administration serious about climate change?
Moments after the Fern Hollow bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh, President Biden was set to deliver a speech promoting the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed with bipartisan support and signed into law in November 2021. And while the bridge collapse highlighted the justification of a national infrastructure response, there has been significant pushback in the U.S. Senate for the other vitally important White House initiative - Build Back Better.
The framework for that legislation has 4 broad categories, one of which was combating climate change. It is beyond me why climate change is in the same bill as child care, affordable housing, immigration reform and many other initiatives. However our government chooses to address climate change, it is clear that increasing clean energy must accompany reducing energy reliance on fossil fuels, including coal. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2020 roughly 4 billion kWh of electricity were generated from a variety of sources, with 60% from fossil fuels and renewable energy and coal each accounting for ~20% each. It is important to note that a key dissenting vote (to date) for Build Back Better has been from West Virginia Senator Manchin (D), whose state is the second-largest coal producer in the country.