What in the World is Perovskite?
Welcome back to Pique Behind the Curtain. Today, you’re getting a look at the effectiveness of e-bikes, a preview of a startup innovating in the solar-tech landscape, and a story exemplifying what you already know about Indigenous knowledge: we should be using it.
— Written by Shayna Berglas
Today’s solar industry is dominated by silicon solar cells. These silicon solar cells are actually quite good. But they're reaching the fundamental limit of how efficient they can be. Swift Solar is a startup building a new class of high-efficiency solar cells using perovskite semiconductors.
What’s that? You’re unfamiliar with perovskite? How embarrassing.
I learned about perovskites from Joel Jean, Co-Founder of the California-based startup, Swift Solar. He describes the mineral material as naturally occurring crystal structures that the company engineers to make solar cells more efficient. Traditional silicon cells push about a 30% efficiency limit. Perovskites raise that ceiling up to over 40% - which is a massive difference in terms of energy consumption.
Is it a solar car? A plane? A train? It’s actually all of the above, and it (the film, that is) goes live next week.
Biking for a Better Climate
Did you know that in the US, 76% of commuters drive alone?
All those people are paying for gas, insurance, and parking every day to transport what’s basically a small living room around cities.
What if there was a better way? A… bikable way?
60% of all car trips are under 6 miles. 6 miles might seem like a lot, but e-bikes generally travel 15-18 miles per hour, bringing that average ride time to about 20 minutes. That’s less time than it takes to watch one episode of Friends.
People seem to have a ton of qualms and questions about biking around town, so let’s address a couple of them here:
What if the bike gets stolen?
Unlike a traditional bike that can be picked up and carried away, e-bikes have security systems more like a car.
What about trips longer than my average 6-mile commute?
Ebikes travel on average up to 50 miles, and even if they run out of juice, they still work! You just have to, you know, use your legs.
To be clear, I’m not claiming that to care about the climate, you need to ditch your car immediately. Biking in the U.S. has a ways to go. Places like Amsterdam are the gold standard for city planning that’s fostered a community more or less independent from cars, and while cities in the States continue to spend billions of dollars on EV initiatives, they also need to consider the infrastructure to support it.
Investing in bike lanes doesn’t only improve the safety of bikers, reduces the rate of speeding drivers, and encourages non-fossil fuel modes of transportation. Besides the health and environmental benefits, some studies indicate bike lanes boost city businesses, too.
Take off the training wheels, folks! We’re pedaling towards a greener future.
Watch our video on e-bikes here.
Would you consider using an e-bike?
Good Climate News!
The Inuit people of Nunavik, Canada felt their world changing around them before ever hearing the words “climate change.” Indigenous people in the Arctic region have historically been the first to experience climate change and the effects of anthropogenic pollution. Using their ancestral knowledge, they’ve been able to identify these changes with great detail and speed.
Indigenous knowledge is derived from an understanding of the Earth’s natural cycles and how all life is interconnected in a delicate balance. Despite making up less than 5% of the world’s population, Indigenous peoples protect 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. But it has been argued that this understanding is not rooted in the empirical science standard of Western culture. As a result, Western science has long struggled to utilize the extensive knowledge of Indigenous populations in areas they’ve explored to study and protect.
Fortunately, progress is being made. A recent paper published in the journal Science of the Total Environment examines the research of endemic mercury poisoning in the Arctic and concludes that the findings of the study could not have come about without the involvement of the Indigenous population. It goes on to recommend the establishment of collaborative processes between scientists and Indigenous peoples, citing the gap in community-based studies.
The scientific community has a long way to go in regard to the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge, but successfully publishing a journal largely using that knowledge gives cause to be hopeful that mentalities are changing.
What We’re Watching, Reading, and Listening to
Searching for more positive and informative climate content? Look no further!