Wednesday Edition: AI Energy Drain

Plus: The John Fetterman Experience.

1. AI Energy Demand Is Unreal

It takes a lot of electricity to power AI, and the energy industry is just starting to adapt in response to the artificial intelligence boom. (Bloomberg)

Chart: Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s Big Take:

AI data centers are huge energy black holes, consuming as much energy as 30,000 homes – and their rapid growth is straining global grids. The numbers are astonishing: Sweden could see power demand from data centers roughly double over the course of this decade. In the UK, AI is expected to suck up 500% more energy over the next decade. And in the US, data centers are projected to use 8% of total power by 2030, up from 3% in 2022.

The impact: U.S. power demand is predicted to surge by 40% in the next 20 years, with data centers playing a large role.

  • According to Goldman Sachs, U.S. utility companies need to invest an estimated $50 billion to support data center power generation, which analysts say will raise energy prices for consumers.

  • Globally, 7,000 data centers are in development, up from 3,600 in 2015.

  • Green energy advocates worry AI’s energy demands threaten climate goals, with Microsoft admitting last month its carbon emissions have spiked 30% since the company started prioritizing artificial intelligence.

Elon Musk’s prediction about AI chips: “Next year, you will see that they just can’t find enough electricity to run all the chips.”

2. The Great Suburban Shift

America’s suburbs are changing in many ways, and so are their politics. (Split Ticket)

Chart: Split Ticket

Split Ticket, an electoral analysis site, took a look at how the 100 biggest “predominantly suburban” counties in the U.S. in 2020 have changed over two decades.

  • In 2000, the top 100 suburban counties were nearly 70% white. By 2020, these counties were 53% white and are projected to become majority-minority soon.

  • While they used to be GOP strongholds, suburban counties have shifted towards Democrats, with 26% of 2020 Biden voters living in these areas.

  • These suburban counties have grown by 24% since 2000, adding over 14 million people.

The trend: As a whole, the top 100 suburban counties consistently voted to the left of the nation since 2000, but they’ve become more solidly Democratic in the Trump era.

  • Pre-Trump, the counties voted about 5 points to the left of the national average, but in 2016, they voted 11 points bluer, with the trend continuing into 2020.

  • George W. Bush in 2004 was the last Republican to come close to winning these counties.

Bubba’s Two Cents

Whether they’ve meant to or not, the modern GOP seems to have made a bet that the tradeoff of ostracizing many suburbanites with its antics and rhetoric is worth the gains it’s made in other areas. I guess we’ll see in a few months.

3. Stay In Your Lane, Bro

Are public health officials overstepping by issuing warnings and advisories on political and cultural matters? (Politico)

The latest: In an announcement yesterday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared gun violence a public health crisis and recommended universal background checks, assault weapons bans and other preventative measures.

Also: Earlier this month, Murthy proposed adding tobacco-style warning labels to social media to alert users about potential harm to young people's mental health.

Related: With the pandemic in full swing in 2021, the CDC declared racism a “serious public health threat” that affects “the health of our entire nation.”

Credibility check:

  • Gun violence: Many users on social media noted that gun violence statistics cited by Murthy — including that nearly 1 in 5 Americans has personally witnessed someone being shot — seem extremely dubious.

  • Social media: As noted by CNN reporter Deirdre Phillips, researchers say “social media’s effect on mental health isn’t as clear cut as a warning label might suggest.”

  • Warning labels: A 2021 study published in JAMA found warning labels on cigarettes did nothing to get people to quit or reduce smoking.

Confidence in scientists and health officials has fallen in recent years:

  • A Pew Research Center poll last year found only 23% of people have a “great deal” of confidence in scientists (a 16-point decline since 2020).

  • Trust in the CDC fell 10% during the pandemic.

Bubba’s Two Cents

America’s newfound focus on mental well-being has brought cultural and political issues (particularly those with the potential of impacting people’s mental health) under the health umbrella. And it’s not that mental health awareness isn’t important, it’s that gun violence and racism health emergencies feel political. Even if you don’t agree with that, the bottom line is public health officials clearly have a perception problem, and this stuff isn’t helping.

4. The John Fetterman Experience

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman’s aggressive centrism is ticking off his fellow Dems — and succeeding wildly as a political strategy. (New Yorker)

What Fetterman chief of staff Adam Jentleson told New Yorker reporter Benjamin Wallace-Wells for a new profile of the senator:

He sees the [Democratic] Party being defined by the extremes in the public image, and he is pushing back against that, in a very strong way. … Most voters do not form their political views through the lens of Israel. What they formulate is more intangible and is a sense that the Democratic Party is being led around by the far left.

Whatever he’s doing is working: Fetterman’s unabashed support for Israel and criticism of immigration levels have made him more popular.

Zooming in: Surveys show voters specifically like the policies that have caused blowback from Fetterman’s left-wing critics.

  • According to Quinnipiac, 26% of voters view Fetterman more favorably for expressing strong support for Israel, while only 14% view him less favorably.

  • 35% of voters view Fetterman more favorably for expressing support for tougher immigration policies, compared to 9% who view him less favorably.

Bubba’s Two Cents

Modern day politics is an ocean of crazy. The choices aren’t great. Maybe it’s why “double haters” (people who don’t like either major party’s presidential candidate) are at an all-time high. But every now and then you come across an island of sanity. While he initially fumbled through his appearances and got off to a rough start (obviously affected by his stroke), Fetterman — great, big, goofy ogre that he is —might just be one of those islands in the end.

5. It Pays to Be in State/Local Government

State and local government employees are compensated much more than private sector employees when you factor in wages and benefits, according to a new analysis. (Committee to Unleash Prosperity)

A new Committee to Unleash Prosperity report: Public sector employees receive 23% higher salaries and 79% higher benefits than their private sector counterparts.

Chart: Committee to Unleash Prosperity

What about feds? This holds true for federal government employees in some cases, according to a Congressional Budget Office report from April.

  • Federal workers with a bachelor's degree or less earned more than their private-sector counterparts.

  • But private sector workers with master’s or professional degrees make more than similarly educated federal government employees.

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