In Ten Years, Renewable Energy Will Be Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels

This year we celebrated Earth Day with marches being held across the nation, including the capital and even around the world. The marches are set up to counter the anti-science policies that have been put in place by the current administration. The United States government is completely under control of a political party that is one of very few around the world that does not recognize the threat of global climate change. According to Paul Getsos, national coordinator of People’s Climate Movement, “It also sends a dangerous message to the world that the United States does not care about climate change or protecting front-line communities.”

One of Trump’s biggest campaign promises was to bring back coal, a fossil fuel that has a deleterious effect on the environment. This runs contrary to current trends in the energy market here in the US as well as around the world. The price of generating renewable power is rapidly falling and it’s starting to make more financial sense. Local governments and business are starting to embrace a switch from fossil fuels to more sustainable forms of power generation.

CLEANING UP COSTS

Solar power is a clear leader in the renewable energy game. According to Bloomberg, “Just since 2000, the amount of global electricity produced by solar power has doubled seven times over.” The technology that makes it possible to collect the sun’s energy is getting cheaper to produce, partially fueled by increased innovation but also by governments’ willingness to invest and subsidize the tech.

However, not all of the world has the luxury of being able to easily move to renewable sources of energy. Many developing nations are focusing their energy on providing the infrastructure to get power to underserved regions.

BIG PROJECTS

Prices for renewable energy are already cheaper in more technologically advanced nations, but within the next decade those prices could be extended to all parts of the globe. Not all nations have the kind of space that solar power generation requires, therefore there is no single renewable source of clean energy that is one size fits all. Thankfully, the world is not relegated to a few choices, and there are already novel ideas developed that can cater to regions’ unique capabilities.

One such example is tidal wave generation. Scotland is a leader in this emerging field. The MeyGen tidal stream project off the northern coast of Scotland is the first of its kind. Each turbine in the planned 269 turbine farm can produce 1.5 megawatts of power, which is collectively enough to power 175,000 homes. This could be a great technology to further develop for small island nations who may not have the room to install other sources of energy generation.

As clean energy technology gains traction, the tech will continue to develop. Researchers are working to improve on existing technologies. There is even talk of the benefits of manufacturing solar panels in space to take advantage of the benefits of making panels in zero gravity. In the meantime, Elon Musk’s SolarCity has developed solar power generating roofing tiles. Other innovations such as transparent solar panels could turn entire metropolises of skyscrapers into mammoth solar farms.

CONFRONTING CLIMATE CHANGE

A major piece (by no means, the entire puzzle) of tackling climate change is shifting our reliance on fossil fuels. Regardless of who sits in the oval office, climate change is real, and humans are to blame. The habitability of the only planet we can live on (at least at this point) is not an issue on which politicians can score political points.

This is not an issue that will be a problem for our grandchildren’s children to worry about; we are already seeing the ill effects around the world. The very landscape of the planet is changing all around us. Holding politicians accountable is not just an excuse to carry snarky signs in Washington on a single day in spring. Real change needs to happen, even starting at the level of personal decisions. We need to think globally but act locally.

Space Alien Reports Have Overwhelmed Trump’s Immigration Hotline

Barely 24 hours after United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement opened its “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement” office — VOICE — its victim support hotline has been flooded with calls by people reporting aliens from outer space.

It seems to have started when Alex McCoy, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and member of Common Defense, a grassroots organization of progressive military veterans and family members, wondered aloud on Twitter about the possibility of millions of people reporting crimes perpetrated by extraterrestrials.

“Wouldn’t it be a shame if millions of people called this hotline to report their encounters with aliens of the UFO-variety,” McCoy posted on Twitter.

McCoy tells Inverse he thought it was an especially catchy idea given that the VOICE office opened on Alien Day, April 26.

His call to action appears to have created a tremendous response. Multiple attempts by Inverse to call the hotline were met with busy signals, and McCoy said he waited for 30 minutes. ICE has also drafted a statement in response to the calls.

Why Is There a VOICE Hot Line?

The federal VOICE offices encourage victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants or suspected undocumented immigrants to call the hotline. They will receive information about the suspect and receive professional support. But beyond that, VOICE offers to help people track the criminal history and deportation status of a suspect.

“Additional criminal or immigration history may be available about an alien to victims or their families,” reads the VOICE website.

McCoy says the real reason for the VOICE line is political, of course.

“This VOICE tip line has nothing to do with helping victims, provides them with no services, and serves no law enforcement purpose,” McCoy tells Inverse. “The only thing it does is collect anecdotes for Trump to use to divide our country and promote racist stereotypes.”

The VOICE office was created in response to a pledge President Donald Trump made in a speech on February 28. By tracking victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, the program has drawn criticisms that compare it to Adolf Hitler’s government publishing stories and statistics about Jewish crime. Does McCoy think this is an appropriate comparison?

“Absolutely,” he says. “There is no legitimate purpose for creating an office solely dedicated to anecdotes of perpetrators from one demographic. That’s what betrays that this has nothing to do with supporting victims.”

Needless to say, ICE doesn’t quite see things the same way. In response to a request for comment, an ICE spokesperson responded with the following statement. It is salty:

The VOICE line remains in operation. As yesterday was its first day I can’t give you any sense of whether this group had any impact at all on wait times or call volume because there’s no prior data to compare.

I hope you won’t dignify this group with the attention they are seeking. But if you choose to do so we’re not to going to dignify it with any official on-the-record response. However, as an ICE official on background, this group’s cheap publicity stunt is beyond the pale of legitimate public discourse. Their actions seek to obstruct and do harm to crime victims; that’s objectively despicable regardless of one’s views on immigration policy.

The VOICE Office provides public information to citizens and non-citizens alike regardless of status, race, etc., whose loved ones have been killed or injured by removable aliens. VOICE provides access to the same information you and other reporters are already able to obtain. Yet this group claims it’s somehow racist to give the same public information to victims of all races and nationalities? That is absurd.

One additional point just to be explicitly clear: reports that VOICE is some sort of line to report immigration-related crime are demonstrably false. This is a line for victims to receive public information, not to report crimes.

Further, openly obstructing and mocking victims crosses the line of legitimate public discourse. VOICE is a line for victims to obtain information. This group’s stunt is an attempt to harm victims. That is shameful.

McCoy isn’t impressed. He offers Inverse this rebuttal:

What is truly beyond the pale is this illegitimate administration’s attempts to use government offices to promote bigotry, spread fear, and divide our nation. The American people are speaking out and making our voices heard that we will not tolerate an office of racist propaganda exploiting the grief of victims of crime. Those victims are entitled to support and justice. VOICE provides neither. It merely collects stories to slander my neighbors, my friends, people who I served honorably alongside in the United States Marine Corps. Calling to report a UFO is absurd, but no more absurd than this unacceptable, un-American program, and we will not stop until it is shut down.

McCoy also encourages people not just to call VOICE with their extraterrestrial reports but to support immigrants’ rights groups United We Dream, Mijente, and DREAM Action Coalition.

The March for Science Is Happening This Weekend

Since taking office in January, President Donald Trump has not only started a rhetorical war with the media and potentially real wars with North Korea and Russia-backed Syria, but he’s also engaged in what critics call a “war on science.”

This weekend, members of the nation’s scientific community are battling back with an Earth Day March for Science at the nation’s capital.

The March for Science initiative is a cooperative partnership between more than 200 scientific and academic institutions as well as nonprofits, uniting to “defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies and governments,” according to the campaign’s website.

On March 28, President Trump signed his Energy Independence executive order, rolling back former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from coal plants across the country. It was a policy move in line with a position Trump has held since at least 2012, when he tweeted that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, a claim he denied making last year during a debate with Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post reports prior to Trump’s China conspiracy tweet, he argued climate change was, in fact, real, signing a 2009 letter to Congress urging law makers to support a clean-energy economy.

In a November New York Times interview after winning the election, however, Trump acknowledged “some connectivity” between carbon emissions and climate change but added his position on reform “depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies.”

“You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now,” he added.

The White House’s website removed all previous mentions of the phrase, “climate change” in January.

A July Sierra Club report acknowledged then-candidate Trump as the only potential national leader on the planet who doesn’t think climate change is real, the Associated Press reports.

Consequently in November, an anonymous Trump administration source told Reuters the president’s advisers had been examining not only ending the U.S.’ involvement with the 2015 Paris Agreement — on which Time reports Trump’s team is indecisive. The source says some of Trump’s advisers support pulling out of the preceding 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty, which established global cooperation to reduce carbon emissions 25 years ago.

“It was reckless for the Paris agreement to enter into force before the election” the anonymous source told Reuters.

The president in December appointed staunch EPA critic and climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head an agency Pruitt once described as having “an activist agenda,” according to NPR.

Pruitt previously sued the EPA 14 times while serving as Oklahoma attorney general. He also has served with an alliance of Republican AGs partnering with some of the nation’s top energy producers to persuade Congress not to support climate change initiatives, according to the New York Times.

Free Public Radio reports almost 800 outgoing EPA members signed a February petition opposing Pruitt taking the EPA helm, but since beginning his new job, Pruitt has declined to do what many climate change deniers have been clamoring for the most.

Politico reports conservative critics in March called for Pruitt’s head when he refused to challenge Obama’s 2009 EPA “endangerment finding,” the old EPA’s Clean Air Act assertion that CO2 emissions themselves endanger public health and welfare by warming the planet.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June declined to review legal challenges to the endangerment finding, which in 2012 was upheld in federal court, The Hill reports.

Pruitt, ironically, has argued to Trump any reversal of the endangerment finding would likely be overruled the courts, according to the New York Times.

On Jan. 24, the Urban Policy Initiative reports President Trump signed an executive order to continue creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, reversing the Obama administration’s pause on the initiative.

After weeks of unending protests from members of the local Standing Rock Sioux native tribe and its allies last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December declined to approve an easement for further construction on the pipeline. CNN reported the Sioux tribe and its supporters have argued the pipeline encroaches on sacred land, and according to Salon, potential oil leaks could contaminate its water supply.

The launch of a new water treatment plant stationed away from the pipeline may greatly reduce the risk of water supply contamination, though Standing Rock supporters are skeptical, Reuters reported.

Why We Have To Learn To Live with Wildfires

Communities across the U.S. and Canada may have to adapt to living with the ever-increasing threat of catastrophic wildfires as global warming heats up and dries out our land, according to a University of Colorado study published Monday.

Residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to forests — known as “wildland-urban interface” zones — will have to accept that many wildfires may have to be allowed to burn and that building new homes in fire-prone forests should be discouraged, the study says.

Firefighters and policymakers will also have to adapt in new ways as catastrophic wildfires burn more land and destroy more homes than ever before.

Officials have long tried to cut wildfire risk by spending billions of dollars annually to “manage fuels” — physically removing some trees and underbrush from dense forests and intentionally setting some forests ablaze in controlled “prescribed burns.” In the dry season, firefighters rush to fight, or “suppress,” nearly all blazes to prevent them from spreading.

Yet homes and even whole communities still go up in flames, and there’s little indication that many efforts to reduce the risk have done much good, the study says.

“Neither suppression nor current approaches to fuels management adequately reduce vulnerability of communities to increasing wildfire,” said the study’s lead author, Tania Schoennagel, a research scientist at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “We’ve been very effective with fire suppression for many years, but wildfires are increasing beyond our capacity to control, especially with more people in fire’s way.”

Park Williams, a bioclimatologist the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said the paper makes a valuable point: Forest density and climate change have converged to vastly increase catastrophic wildfire frequency and size in a way a that is entirely out of human control.

“We now know that continued increases in fire activity are inevitable, but we’ve been able to come up with no other way forward other than to fight fires as hard as we can,” said Williams, who is unaffiliated with the study. “All we’re doing is paying huge amounts of money to deliver an even worse problem onto the next generation.”

The West’s increasing vulnerability to catastrophic wildfire was on display in 2016 as much of Fort McMurray, Alberta, was consumed in a firestorm that incinerated 2,400 buildings. The blaze quickly became the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history. Later in the year, the Blue Cut Fire burned 105 homes near San Bernardino, California, and forced the evacuation of 82,000.

All the homes destroyed in those blazes were in the wildland-urban interface zone, an area that includes millions of homes in the West. In California alone, 4.5 million homes have been built in the zone, according to the study.

About 40 percent of the zone is expected to see an increased chance of burning by 2040. Today, about 900,000 homes in the zone are at high risk of fire damage across the West, Schoennagel said.

The reason is that climate change is making wildfire seasons longer and more intense. The trend bends toward bigger, more destructive, and drought-driven blazes in the West. On average, wildfires burn six times the acreage they did 45 years ago, Climate Central research shows.

Since the 1970s, the frequency of wildfire has increased 1,000 percent in the Pacific Northwest, 889 percent in the Northern Rockies, 462 percent in the Southwest and 256 percent in California’s Sierra Nevada as the mountain snowpack melts earlier and the fire season lengthens, according to Schoennagel’s team’s research.

In the northern latitudes, where Fort McMurray sits, the boreal forest is burning at a rate unprecedented in the past 10,000 years as the wildfire season arrives a month earlier than it did in 1970. In Alaska, the number of large wildfires have doubled in 65 years.

The study says that adapting to climate change and cutting the risk of catastrophic blazes means it’s time for a cultural change in the West. Forests are going to have to be managed differently and people will have to get comfortable with fighting fire with fire — literally.

Forests that have burned either naturally under natural conditions or with prescribed burns are much less likely to burn catastrophically in the future. But prescribed burns account for only a tiny portion of the total area in the West affected by wildfire. Firefighters fight 95 percent of all other blazes in attempt to keep as many acres from burning as possible.

The best way for forests to adapt to climate change is for them to burn, except when they threaten communities directly, the study says.

“As wildfires continue to increase, more and more communities are threatened, and suppression simply will not be able to keep up,” Schoennagel said. “Through suppression, we’ve tried to make fire adapt to us, but going forward, we will have to adapt to it.”

Foresters can greatly reduce the catastrophic wildfire risk to communities by conducting more prescribed burns in controlled conditions near where people live and allowing more wildfires to burn freely far from where people live, the study says.

Thinning forests to cut the risk of wildfire doesn’t work well, except in the driest of forests, according to the study. Of all the areas in national forests that have been thinned by hand — known in forestry parlance as “treatments” — since 2001, only 10 percent have come close enough to an active wildfire since they were treated to have had the opportunity to burn.

The effect of that thinning is temporary because the underbrush eventually grows back, requiring the forest to thinned again if it hasn’t burned.

“The effectiveness of most forest treatments last about 10–20 years, suggesting that most treatments have little influence on wildfire,” the study says, adding that between 2006 and 2015, the U.S. Forest Service spent $3.2 billion on forest thinning is likely to have little, if any, benefit.

Forest thinning is most effective near homes rather than deep in the woods.

People living near forests need to adapt by making it as difficult as possible for their homes to burn by removing wood decks, vegetation, and other combustible items from around their homes.

“The first step is to expect that wildfire will come to your door rather than assume it will not,” Schoennagel said.

Officials should also consider creating buffer zones of cleared trees and other vegetation between homes and the forest, while reducing the density of the woods around communities, she said.

Another important step is to discourage new development in forests prone to wildfire.

“By some estimates, 80 percent of the WUI is yet undeveloped, and if this were filled with homes, the risks and costs would skyrocket in combination with increasing wildfire,” Schoennagel said.

Williams said the West has millions of acres of forest that are too dense, and it’s impossible to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in all those forests.

“The public needs to become aware that fire is a natural process and that increases in the frequency and size of large fires are inevitable,” Williams said.

Police Departments Are Buying Drones Like Crazy

Police officers, the stereotype goes, love coffee, donuts, and now perhaps drones. A new study from Bard College finds that an unprecedented number of law enforcement and emergency response departments purchased drones in 2016, a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing. The report lays out startling figures on drone purchases by police around the country, tracking the dramatic rise in police drone usage over the past few years.

According to the study, published April 6, all but seven states have at least one UAV operated by police, sheriffs, emergency response, or fire departments. Without ruling out the possibility that it missed a significant number of drone purchases, the report says that “at least 347 state and local [agencies] in the U.S. have acquired drones.” In 2016, more of the departments studied acquired drones than in all previous years, combined.

The federal government is also training local cops to use drones.

Local law enforcement purchases the most drones by far. Local municipal police departments and fire departments comprise 28 and 20 percent of drone purchases, respectively, and sheriff’s offices account for a whopping 35 percent. The researchers note that the law enforcement organizations typically opt for consumer-level drones rather than more expensive, professional level surveillance drones. This is likely due to cost, more than anything else, but it also allows police drones to “blend in” among the ever-growing air-traffic population over densely populated areas. With the FAA beginning to enforce more stringent no-fly zones over cities, however, lone cop-drones sailing through restricted airspace might eventually start to stick out.

Drones are still subject to the same restrictions in use by police as any other technology, meaning that they’re only being used for surveillance and other non-violent uses. Last year, police in Dallas famously used a non-lethal drone for lethal purposes by strapping an explosive to its back. That was the first ever use of a lethal robot by police — but there are rumblings indicating that American law enforcement may be gearing up for a flurry of similar uses, in the future.

In this parlance, there’s little difference between aerial drones and ground-based robots, though aerial drones are much more likely to be automated, at this point. The same researchers who produced this study also previously documented the police acquisition of ground-based drones like the one used in the Dallas killing.

That said, drones can be used by police much more widely than just to attack or even follow suspects. Some police departments are turning to drones to try to reduce traffic fatalities, others for search and rescue.

Check the study to see if your local department is on there — but, spoilers, it almost certainly is.

U.S. Shrinks Carbon Footprint Again

Some relatively good news in the constant battle against climate change: the U.S. managed to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 percent in 2016, according to newly-released data from the Energy Information Administration.

As noted by Climate Central, the most significant change can be seen in carbon emissions from electric power plants, specifically. This is the second year in a row that this has fallen by five percent, and the first time that such a sizable change could be seen over the course of two years. Since 2005, carbon dioxide emissions at electricity plants have fallen by nearly a quarter. Experts say this is likely the result of inefficient coal-fired power plants being replaced.

The overall carbon decrease can be put down to a drop in pollution from coal used to generate energy and a decrease in coal use all-around in favor cleaner sources of energy (something President Trump has been pledging to fight aggressively). It is not, as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently said, because of anything to do with “clean coal,” which refers to a carbon capture and transportation technique that is expensive, unfunded, and far from widespread in its use.

Another reason for this decrease that isn’t exactly something worth celebrating is an unusually warm winter, put down in part to climate change itself, the EIA said. Warm years can translate to less energy consumption because it requires more energy to heat buildings than it does to cool them. While official data has not yet been released, 2016 may have had the second-lowest number of days in which heat was needed for buildings in recorded EIA history.

While the electric power sector has been steadily reducing CO2 emissions, the transportation sector has been struggling with this issue. In 2016, transportation-related CO2 emissions actually increased by nearly 2 percent. This is a problematic trend that would require major changes to the American auto industry that are unlikely to be prioritized, given President Trump’s recently-ordered review of Obama fuel economy standards designed to lower our reliance on gas.

Almost A Billion People Still Smoke Every Day

Cigarette smoking is on the decline, with the percentage of people worldwide who smoke daily dropping by roughly a third over the past 25 years. But because the global population keeps on increasing, there are still more smokers today than at any other time in history. The numbers are staggering, as a new study suggests nearly a billion people smoke at least once a day.

Smoking isn’t exactly an equal-opportunity offender. According to the paper published in The Lancet, male smokers still vastly outnumber their female counterparts. While only one out of every 20 women smokes daily, a quarter of all men on the planet do. What’s more, about half of all male smokers can be found in just three countries: China, India, and Indonesia.

The United States, for its part, has more female smokers than any other country, including the far more populous China and India. This fits with a more general trend the study found: Male smokers are most commonly found in middle-income countries, while women are more likely to be daily smokers if they live in the world’s wealthiest countries. Smoking is rarest in the lowest-income countries. But rapid population growth means these countries could also soon deal with a smoking epidemic, with as much as 80 percent of smoking deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries by 2030.

For now, the U.S. trails only China and India in the highest number of annual deaths from smoking, with just under half a million. The researchers estimate about 6.4 million deaths worldwide each year are the result of smoking, which is about a tenth of all global deaths.

Admittedly, it’s not surprising that countries with the highest populations dominate the lists of total deaths, Russia and Indonesia rounding out the top five. But it’s not quite as simple as saying the most populous countries have the highest rates — Brazil, home to 200 million people, is notable for implementing more aggressive anti-smoking policies and has seen the number of daily smokers more than cut in half between 1990 and 2015. It still has the eighth most deaths of any country, but that’s quite a bit below what one would expect just based on its population.

There’s some good news, though. The researchers found 13 countries, including the United States, saw significant annual declines across all 25 years from 1990 to 2015, while 18 countries from Nepal to Chile saw daily smoking drop significantly in the past decade.

Renewable Energy Is Shattering Records in the U.S.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) tweeted on March 23 that it hit an all-time peak percentage of demand served by renewable sources of energy at 56.7 percent that day at 11:25 am. About 60 percent of that renewable energy was provided by solar energy sources, which is especially impressive given that it was still only spring. Of course, this isn’t really that surprising to anyone who’s paying attention in California, because renewable energy has been setting and breaking records repeatedly lately in that state.

In February California broke its record for percentage of peak power demand served by solar energy sources when almost 8,800 megawatts of solar power fueled the grid in a day. That record lasted less than a week — in wintertime, no less — as over 9,000 megawatts were generated in a single day. That record, too, was shattered almost immediately.

As solar costs continue to drop and wind remains among the least costly sources of energy available, California appears to be on track for making its 50 percent clean energy target by 2030 with ease. Getting to 100 percent is going to take some intervention, however, because the state is generating more power than it needs during daylight hours and not enough during peak hours after the sun goes down. And some California legislators have started to push for just that.

LEGISLATING GREEN SOLUTIONS

A new bill is making its way through the state legislature that would require California’s utility companies to source at least 40 percent of their peak demand energy from clean sources by the end of 2027. This would essentially force the use of industrial batteries, pushing utilities and industry to work together to develop storage systems for solar power. The bill would also promote energy conservation and efficiency programs that reduce consumption of energy during peak times.

In a sense, the bill reflects California’s progress in its fight to limit Greenhouse Gas emissions. The state’s goals include reducing emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and then 80 percent by 2050. Achieving these goals will mean not just more renewables, but making better use of the renewables that are there, and running the grid without backup from fossil fuels.

Critics of the bill argue that the government should set the goals and then let the market work out how best to meet them. If fighting climate change is the goal, critics reason, then the government should mandate either increased use of renewables, reductions in emissions, or both, and then step aside to allow market-sourced solutions. They believe that energy storage wouldn’t be the market’s response, because it is relatively costly and indirect in terms of the end goal of fighting climate change.

However, although batteries are currently too costly for adoption on a larger scale, their proponents respond that incentivizing new technologies is a strategy that has historically succeeded in California, and that there is no requirement that implementation of batteries be completely in the black the moment the legislation goes online.

It remains to be seen which solutions will work best for California in the relatively short time frame that remains before the deadlines it has set for itself. There’s no doubt that the state has targeted aggressive goals, and while Californians are differing in the details of how to meet them, they appear united in the push to achieve them.

This Alarming Infographic Shows How Much Time We Spend on Social Media

If you’re worried that you might be spending too much time procrastinating on Instagram and Facebook rather than actually doing anything productive, then fear not, for it appears you’re not alone. New statistics on the average person’s social media consumption habits have emerged courtesy of Mediakix, and the results make for some grim reading.

According to the article, global social media marketing spending is set to hit $36 billion this year, with $12.5 billion of that being spent in the U.S and Canada. Two years ago, it’s estimated that people spent more time on mobile apps than they did watching television, and, terrifyingly, the advent of functions such as Facebook Video and Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat Spectacles is only set to increase that growth further.

The infographic below estimates the average person spends five years and four months on socials in a lifetime. Yes, five years. That’s longer than the wait between Frank Ocean albums. Unsurprisingly, Facebook remains the most popular platform, followed by YouTube. Snapchat is in third, but for how much longer given the rise of Instagram stories?

So, what could you be doing instead of perusing the feed of some stranger who you’ve never — and probably will never — meet? You could fly to the moon and back for starters. Scroll below to find out more.

As we said, grim. How much time do you reckon you spend on the above channels? Let us know in the comments.

Why Are People Taking Showers with Oranges?

Ever heard of orange showers? It’s quite simple. Take a hot shower, and when it’s nice and steamy, peel and eat a cold orange. In fact, rub it all over yourself without a care in the world. The result is supposedly intoxicating and transcendental.

The origins of this theory are fuzzy. Some believe it started with a 2016 Reddit post in which someone asked the question: What’s something unconventional everyone should try out? A user by the name of PHOTON_BANDIT answered with this whole orange shower thing, which he says he learned from a counselor at an Italian youth camp back in 2005.

Tearing apart a cold fresh orange with your bare hands, just letting the juices run over your body. Not worrying if your going to get sticky, or anything. Just ripping it in half, and tearing into it with your teeth like a savage cannibal who hasnt eaten in a week!

It’s believed PHOTON_BANDIT (account since deleted) is 25-year-old Willis Young, who runs the sub-reddit r/ShowerOrange. He tells Tampa Bay Times why the orange shower is so amazing.

It’s the cacophony of sensory stimuli. You have a cold orange from the freezer, plus the hot water and team. It brings out the essential oil smell you get from oranges. It’s a nice carnal thing. You can tear into it and let the juices run all over.

The orange “movement” picked up steam (pun intended) this past February when John Krewson of Men’s Health wrote about its magical effects, saying “it’s the most completely healthy mind-body-soul activity a person can indulge.” He says not only is the aromatherapy an essential start to your morning, but destroying an orange in the shower taps into your natural wild side:

It’s the most primal part of your day, the best opportunity for letting the ancient preverbal part of you out to run around, before it’s time to knot it up behind a tie and send it out in public again. You will, inevitably and willingly, force your evolution to social animal.

People are still talking — and posting photos — about their experience.

One Redditor describes it as embarking on a journey comparable to climbing Mt. Everest with Gandhi.

Watch the guys from Good Mythical Morning test the theory at the 6:40 mark. (SFW)

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