What are we reading? May 14, 2020

File photo, Shutterstock

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Internal combustion engine cars on the ropes in Europe; is it really the end of the road for consumer-level vehicles powered by fossil fuels? – International Council on Clean Transportation



Purdue University engineers floating the idea of 3D printed concrete to build offshore wind turbines. Cheaper, lighter, easier to move than traditional steel turbine structures, they say. – 3D Printing Progress



Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Columnist Evan Schuman on how telecommuting has begun to radically reform big companies, which have traditionally resisted it. He predicts that after COVID-19 subsides, pre-pandemic rates of telecommuting, somewhere between 3% and 9% of full-time employees, will soar to as high as 70%. – Computerworld



U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says taking interest rates into negative territory like other central banks isn’t being considered as an option – at the moment. – Bloomberg



Jeremy Hainsworth, reporter:

Autocrats and would-be autocrats around the world are using the COVID-19 crisis to tighten their grips on power as they insist on extraordinary powers they claim protect public health. – The Economist



As researchers come to understand autism and its childhood beginnings, there’s new hope for better lives of those with the condition. – National Geographic



Bedtime reading: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The tale of the open-hearted, good, and guilelessness Prince Myshkin and the consequences of placing such a person at the centre of the conflicts, desires, passions and egoism of worldly society, both for the prince and for those with whom he becomes involved.


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

What Michael Moore-backed documentary Planet of the Humans gets wrong about renewable energy. Although the documentary makes some valid criticisms about renewable energy a single-minded fixation on them as being a silver bullet being one of them it also gets quite a bit wrong. Several critiques of the film have been made, but this one by Forbes is the most exhaustive to date. The central problem with the film is that the renewables it focused on are about 10 years out of date. Forbes



The one country that was arguably the most successful in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore has the most valuable insights for the World Health Organization, is the one that the WHO continues to exclude: Taiwan. Quartz Daily Brief



Hayley Woodin, reporter:

“This is the most brutal jobs purge ever recorded.” The National Bank of Canada’s latest monthly economic monitor, which examines the damage to Canada’s economy, and what’s to come. – National Bank of Canada



These weird dispatches from actor Robert Pattinson’s isolation in London, where he was filming The Batman when the pandemic hit. An entertaining read, and a bit of a reminder that we all have our own ways of coping with COVID. – GQ