3 countries are capturing wind to power all our futures.

As Bob Dylan once sang, "The answer, my friends, is blowin' in the wind."

Reflecting on 2015 from our cozy perch here in early 2016, it would seem as though Dylan was right, at least in terms of wind energy. 2015 was one of the best years for wind energy ever, even better than 2014, which saw remarkable growth in wind power around the world.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, there were about 268,000 wind turbines spinning around the world at the end of 2014.


And as the 2015 numbers continue to roll in, it would appear that more and more countries are increasing their efforts and commitments by producing clean, renewable wind energy.

Three countries in particular stepped up their wind power game so much last year they deserve a special shoutout.

Like pinwheels but, you know, gigantic. Photo by Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images.

1. First up, Denmark.

Also known as Germany's cowlick, Denmark is home to Danish pastries, Grundtvig's Church, and popular cult filmmaker Lars von Trier, who directed 2009's feel-good comedy "Antichrist."

In 2015, Denmark emerged as the world's leading wind energy producer for the second year in a row.

According to Danish utility company Energinet, an incredible 42% of the country's energy came from wind power last year, which is the highest proportion achieved by a single country.

Is there a blog for pretty pictures of wind turbines? Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

While this success is partly due to an extremely windy year in Denmark, the results are consistent with the country's efforts to produce more and more wind power, as part of its commitment to hit some significant goals: relying on 50% wind power by 2020 and being 100% renewable by 2050.

The country's goals may be lofty but, as Denmark's minister for energy, utilities, and climate, Lars Christian Lilleholt told The Guardian, hitting them should provide a case-study in what is economically possible when you're committed to renewable energy:

"Hopefully, Denmark can serve as an example to other countries that it is possible to have both ambitious green policies with a high proportion of wind energy and other renewables in the energy supply, and still have a high security of supply and competitive prices on electricity."

Nicely done, Denmark.

2. Next, we have Morocco.

Morocco is the home of spiced coffee, beautifully intricate architecture, and of course Casablanca — the best town in the world to walk into a gin joint and annoy Humphrey Bogart.

Morocco is also the home of Africa's largest wind energy project: a farm that covers an area of 8,900 hectares with 131 turbines.

The wind farm in Tarfaya, Morocco. Photo by Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Morocco's investment in wind energy has definitely paid off, as the price of wind power has just reached a new global low for Moroccan citizens with the lowest bids being around $25 per megawatt-hour.

Normally, reaching a new low is a bad thing (like starring in a road trip movie with Zac Efron), but in this case, it means that the cost of wind energy is now cheaper than it's ever been in Morocco. Wind energy is even cheaper than coal power, which is often described as the "dirty but cheap" energy option.

Clean, renewable, dare I say ... sexy wind power. Photo by Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images.

The results of the wind energy project are "amazing" according to Abderrahim El Hafidi, vice minister of energy and environment in Morocco, who hopes that it points to a "real revolution" in energy production around the world:

“Isn’t that amazing that we can have confidence in renewable energy for the future of our energy and for the future of the planet?”

Hey, Morocco, I know we don't talk much but ... you're pretty awesome.

3. And finally, we have China.

China, the "Greatest Wall" winner of 206 B.C., has had a tumultuous relationship with renewable energy in the past, to put it lightly.

The country is the biggest polluter in the world and emitted about 10,540,000 kilotons of carbon in 2014. (Before you get too judge-y, America had the dubious honor of coming in second place.)

Recently though, China has made efforts to turn that number around. Late in 2015, China committed to cap and trade carbon emissions and sharply increased its targets for both wind and solar production.

Because of those efforts, as of last year, China is believed to be the largest installer of clean energy in the world.

Wind turbines in northern China. Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

According to a report from British research firm GlobalData, in 2015, China accounted for 40% of all renewable energy projects. Which is representative of their shift in policy and consciousness.

Energy company Maxwell Technologies also recently announced that it had been selected by a Chinese electric company to build the world's first megawatt-scale, ultracapacitor-based wind farm energy storage system. Or, to put it simply, they're creating one of the most efficient and powerful wind power systems on the planet.

Dr. Franz Fink, Maxwell's president and CEO, noted the unique opportunity is indicative of a growing demand for clean energy in China and around the world:

"With growing demand, we see a great deal of opportunity to partner with more Chinese customers to expand ultracapacitor-based energy storage in more applications."

Here's to you, China.

As wind power technology continues to advance, it will only get more efficient and more cost-effective.

One of the reasons wind power is on the rise is because the business of wind power is improving. While clean renewable energy is good for the health of the planet, a lot of countries can't or won't reasonably make the shift until it's a good economic decision to do so.

If that's not a sign, I don't know what is. Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images.

With wind power costs being so affordable in Morocco, and with Denmark and China leading the way into a wind-based energy future, it won't be long until every country can find the economic justification to follow suit, for the good of humanity as well as our collective wallets.

Heroes
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

Most Shared
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family