Good morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,362 words, 5 minutes.
🎵 And we're a few days past the 20th anniversary of the album "Figure 8" by the late Elliott Smith, whose achingly beautiful songwriting opens today's edition...
Storage units are in and car dealerships are out in our coronavirus-fueled shutdowns, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Driving the news: Those inferences are from new power data tracked by analytics company Innowatts.
How it works: The chart above shows the percentage change between the first full work week of March to the last full work week of March.
The intrigue: Many of the changes in electricity consumption are as you would expect — we're drinking more alcohol and hospitals are busy — but a few offer surprising upshots...
One level deeper: Innowatts also shared more granular data for a few of the establishment types, allowing us to compare different parts of the country. The most interesting inference there was with religious activities.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Something Al Gore said in his new endorsement of Joe Biden gets to what really matters about Biden's recent emphasis on climate change — and it's not brewing changes to his platform that are in the works.
Driving the news: Here's part of Gore's interview with the Associated Press yesterday...
My thought bubble: If he wins, the way Biden deploys his political capital and administrative focus will matter more than how his policy platform might get stronger.
Flashback: In 2009, the Obama administration and Senate Democrats prioritized sweeping health care legislation over trying to pass a big climate bill, which was already a steep climb.
Catch up fast: Biden is vowing tougher steps on climate, saying this week that he plans to bolster provisions on environmental justice, medium-term targets and clean energy investments.
The multinational oil giant Equinor said Thursday that it's sharply cutting its first quarter dividend payouts by 67% compared to the prior quarter, citing "unprecedented market conditions and uncertainties."
Why it matters: Norway-based Equinor is the first oil major to cut dividends due to the pandemic-fueled collapse in oil prices and demand.
The big picture: Oil majors including Equinor have already been cutting spending and suspending share buybacks due to the crisis.
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Speaking of oil, Bloomberg reports: "The U.S. is investigating whether traders with inside information on Russia’s negotiations with other oil producing nations made hundreds of millions of dollars from illegal wagers on crude price swings, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter."
Google is deploying a new tool in its ongoing quest to eventually run its energy-thirsty data centers on carbon-free power around the clock.
Driving the news: The company said in a blog post yesterday that it's beginning to deploy a "carbon-intelligent computing platform" at its very large data centers. The goal is to align energy use to the time period when the supply is cleanest.
How it works: The platform compares two next-day forecasts: how the hourly carbon intensity of the grid will change during the day, and what the hourly power needs of the data center will be.
Why it matters: Data centers suck a lot of power (even though they're not the carbon bomb some think).
The intrigue: Google hopes to not only align the tasks of specific data centers with the local grid mix, but "move flexible compute tasks between different data centers, so that more work is completed when and where doing so is more environmentally friendly," the post states.
Screenshot of Lucid Motors video showing prototype testing in winter conditions
Lucid Motors is out with a new video showing off the performance of prototypes of the upcoming Lucid Air luxury EV in cold, snowy and icy conditions in northern Minnesota.
What they're saying: "The extreme environment is ideal for validating vehicle dynamics as we test features like antilock braking, traction control, and stability control," a blog post alongside the video states.
Why it matters: Electric vehicle manufacturers are taking pains to show that their products perform as well or better than gasoline-powered cars in tough conditions.
The big picture: The company, which is backed by $1 billion from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, plans to begin initial production of the vehicle at a factory in Arizona late this year.