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Meet the Colorado Neighborhood Already Living in a World of Clean Energy


Friday, March 1st, 2024


Today’s newsletter is: 920 words; 4 min.


The death toll in Gaza passed 30,000. The somber milestone came the same day at least 112 Palestinains were killed while awaiting an aid convoy in Gaza City, with witnesses claiming Israeli troops opened fire on the crowd.

The House gave itself another week to avoid a government shutdown. The lower chamber passed a short-term funding bill with a 320-99 vote, giving itself another week to fully fund the government.

Biden and Trump both visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday. Biden condemned House Republicans for killing the bipartisan border deal earlier this month and encouraged them to bring it for a vote, while Trump made bizarre, unsubstantiated claims about immigration.

Putin warned sending Western troops to Ukraine risks a global nuclear war. The comment appears to be a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement this week that a future deployment of Western troops to Ukraine shouldn’t be “ruled out.”


A new study adds to the growing body of evidence that COVID impacts cognition


COVID Infections Lead to Loss of IQ  

A new study by researchers at Imperial College London found people who had mild COVID infections showed a cognitive decline equivalent to a three-point loss of IQ, while those with persistent unresolved symptoms (like shortness of breath or fatigue) had a six-point loss.

Why it matters: 

  • The study also found people who were admitted to intensive care for COVID had a nine-point loss of IQ and reinfection contributed an additional two-point loss.

  • The findings add to the growing body of evidence that COVID impacts the brain, including cognitive loss, brain volume shrinkage, and brain damage equivalent to decades of aging.



A new study found microplastics in placenta samples


Researchers Found Microplastics in Every Placenta Sample They Tested

A new study by researchers at the University of New Mexico tested 62 placenta samples, finding microplastics in each one, ranging in concentrations from 6.5 to 790 micrograms per gram of tissue. 

Plastic world:

  • The most prevalent polymer was polyethylene (used to make plastic bags and bottles), accounting for around 54% of the total plastics, followed by PVC and nylon (each around 10% of the total). 

  • The researchers say the increasing volumes of microplastics found in humans is concerning and, because “the dose makes the poison,” if volumes continue to rise, we could see greater impacts on all mammalian life on Earth.



A new study calculates excess deaths and emergency department visits after weather disasters

Nat Geo

The Human Cost of Climate Disasters Is Probably Undercounted 

A new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital examined weather disasters that caused $1 billion in damages from 2011 to 2016, finding death rates in counties with the greatest destruction were two to four times higher six weeks after a storm than in less impacted areas, while emergency department visits also increased. 

Likely worse: 

  • The researchers analyzed Medicare data before and after storms or floods, but didn’t include other weather disasters like wildfires, heat, and droughts, because the longer duration of the events complicates analysis.

  • The exclusion of the data, as well as the fact that Medicare only covers about 20% of the population, suggests the figures in the study likely undercount the true total impact.


The Geos neighborhood in Colorado is net-zero


Meet the Colorado Neighborhood Already Living in a World of Clean Energy

Just outside of Denver sits the Geos neighborhood (pictured above), an all-electric community of 28 net-zero homes featuring energy-efficient designs and appliances.

  • The homes do occasionally pull energy from the grid, but their rooftop solar panels harvest enough energy to offset their grid use over the year.

Meet Geos:

The first home in Geos was completed in 2017, designed with three key features: a well-sealed and insulated building envelope, orientation to harvest heat from the Sun, and all-electric equipment, including the almighty heat pump.

  • All of the passive house designs also have triple-pane windows (which are far more energy efficient than double-paned ones), induction cooktops, built-in EV chargers, and owners who think they’re better than you (just kidding).

  • Altogether, Geos homes use a quarter of the energy of traditionally constructed homes, lowering the average utility bill to around $8 per month, according to the neighborhood’s developer.

Net-zero neighborhoods:

Geos is an example of a small but growing number of net-zero neighborhoods popping up across the U.S. in recent years, including communities in Hawaii, Utah, and Wisconsin, among others. 

  • A new community coming to Augusta Township in Ontario, Canada is another example, albeit across the border and full of maple syrup (probably). 

  • The Canadian community will hold 67 homes built with passive designs like Geos and have additional amenities like a grocery store, healthcare services, and workspaces.


  • 1.1 million acres - The size of the Smokehouse Creek Fire still ripping through the Texas Panhandle, making it the largest wildfire in the state’s history. The fire was around 3% contained as of Thursday.


Long Video. Watch ancient-warfare experts rate movie battles. (19 min) 

Short Video. Learn how and why India built the world’s biggest office. (8 min)

Fun Video. Watch the world’s fastest drone keep up with Max Verstappen to get a feel for just how fast F1 cars actually are. (2 min)

Good Read. A weekend read about the underground music scene powered by floppy disks. (2,214 words; 9 min)

Neat List. Here are the most- and least-visited national parks in 2023.


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Written by Ryan Wittler