by Prof Allen Tilley |
Disclaimer: the material in this section is not necessarily the policy of the Sierra Club. The referenced materials are the responsibility of the publishers/writers and Mr. Tilleys analysis is intended to provoke thought and action, but not necessarily endorsed or held as policy by the Sierra Club.
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1.An attempt by utilities and regulators in Michigan and Illinois to resist paying for transmission of wind energy into their states has been blocked in federal court.The effect is to enable plans for regional wind power and for the transmission of renewable energy generally. States will not be able to favor local renewable energy in their renewable energy portfolio plans. http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059982660
2. Three renewable energy projects totaling 520 megawatts have been approved in Arizona and Nevada. One is a 100 mw concentrating solar project with power storage. http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/secretary-jewell-announces-approval-of-three-renewable-energy-projects-in-arizona-and-nevada.cfm
3. Two MIT nuclear engineering grads have worked up a modular molten salt 500 megawatt nuclear reactor. Like other Generation 4 plans, it is walk-away safe, uses spent fuel as input, and produces only low level waste, having gotten 96% of the energy out of the fuel in its process of boiling water to drive a turbine. Also like other Gen 4 plans, it faces technical and regulatory hurdles, but perhaps its time has come. The article explains the Gen 4 idea well. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/06/a-new-way-to-do-nuclear.html?mbid=nl_Daily%20(265)
4. A report in the 3rd year of a 5-year NASA study of carbon release in the Arctic finds “amazing and potentially troubling” amounts, much more than models projected. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/earth20130610.html Scientists will need further measurements to estimate the risk of a runaway feedback (with released carbon causing heat which releases yet more carbon and so on). If that were to happen the results could be more severe than we had anticipated, both because of the enlarged estimate of the amount of carbon stored in the Arctic and because new work raises the expected release rate. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/12/ticking-arctic-carbon-bomb-may-b.html I will pass on immediately whatever new info I get on this topic, and urge you to forward to me whatever might be of interest.
5. This Guardian essay argues that internal surveillance by the US government in part anticipates hostility toward the government and corporations arising from climate crises, and in part is done on behalf of corporations. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jun/14/climate-change-energy-shocks-nsa-prism
1.A New Mexico utility has signed a 25 year power purchase agreement with First Solar for a 50 megawatt solar installation at $.0579/kilowatt-hour, cheaper than new coal. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/06/new-mexico-approves-miniscule-ppa-for-states-biggest-solar-plant
New solar installations made up nearly half of the new energy in the US for the first quarter of this year, and were up 33% from the same quarter last year.http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/06/residential-demand-spurs-us-solar-installations-in-1q13?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-June12-2013
2. The US and China have agreed on a plan to cut the global use of HFCs, potent greenhouse gasses. http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/06/08/us-usa-china-environment-idINBRE9570EX20130608
3. As the Arctic warms, diseases spread north. http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/06/arctic-disease Vector diseases are gaining ground among children in Pakistan thanks to climate disruption. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-182680-Climate-change-may-be-making-children-sick Heat can bring higher ozone levels and with them respiratory ills. http://www.mantecabulletin.com/section/1/article/76080/ American farmers are faced with adapting to a change they have been propagandized into denying (or our food supply is that much more diminished).http://grist.org/article/tough-spot-for-farmers-adapting-to-change-you-cant-believe-in/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=atilley%40unf.edu
4. The International Energy Agency has proposed a package of stopgap actions designed to buy time while an international climate agreement is being negotiated. Actions include developing carbon capture technology, increasing energy efficiency, controlling methane leaks, and ceasing subsidies for fossil fuels. The object is to avoid the 2° of warming threshold. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22845425 Emissions in 2012 set a record but did show some encouraging trends. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/jun/11/climate-change-carbon-emissions-iea-silver-lining
5. A New York City report anticipates that by 2050 the city will have the climate of Birmingham and two feet of sea level rise. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/11/us-usa-newyork-heat-idUSBRE95A01A20130611?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews
The report projects 4-8” of sea level rise by 2020. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/nyregion/new-york-city-faces-increasing-risk-from-climate-change-new-data-show.html?_r=0 New York has announced a $20 billion climate adaptation plan. http://news.yahoo.com/nyc-lays-20-billion-plan-combat-climate-change-180254585.html
6. Cellana of San Diego has contracted to deliver commercial quantities of Omega 3 oil and fuel oil from their algae-based process. Production is intended to begin in two years. The production facility is in Hawaii. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/jun/07/san-diego-based-algae-biofuel-strikes-milestone-de/
7. Start-up EOS plans to market a zinc-based utility scale battery sufficiently cheap and durable to replace natural gas in a hybrid arrangement with solar power. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/515076/cheap-batteries-for-backup-renewable-energy/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-weekly-energy&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20130610
8. A scientific team is funding their Dark Snow project with internet crowd sourcing. The team will study the effect of black carbon deposits on projections of Arctic melting and thus of sea level rise. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/jun/12/greenland-darkening-ice-climate-science
1. If corporations wish really to be part of the solution, they, like Nike and Starbucks, need to press for systemic changes which lead toward full transition to renewable energy soon. Greenwash can be used to maintain the status quo. http://firstname.lastname@example.org
2. A requirement that fossil fuel power producers sequester an increasing percentage of the carbon they produce would cut emissions and help return some of the externalized costs to the corporations now profiting. The move would be legislatively (though not politically) simple. It would drastically improve the economics of a transition to renewable energy, which would be that much more comparatively cheap. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/05/bury-co2-problem-capture-store-carbon Since we do not yet know how to sequester carbon except in special situations, the effect would be to ban much current carbon production. It would likely produce a transition faster than a carbon tax.
3. More than 40 countries have now placed, or are placing, a price on carbon. Exxon’s Rex Tillerson (“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”) even likes the idea, so long as Exxon Mobil gets the revenues, heaven forbid. http://grist.org/news/carbon-pricing-is-catching-on-around-the-globe-just-not-in-washington-d-c/?utm_source=syndication&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed A reflection on Tillerson’s opinion of rescuing the earth: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/30/2076751/exxon-ceo-what-good-is-it-to-save-the-planet-if-humanity-suffers/ Tillerson’s full quotation: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/06/exxon-mobil-trumps-alarmists/ A new ad campaign against a carbon tax in the US indicates that fossil fuel interests are worried about the prospect of a carbon tax (in spite of President Obama’s opposition to the idea). Good. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/06/americans-for-prosperity-carbon-tax
4. Scientific American surveys the decline of reefs worldwide from the effects of climate disruption. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/expeditions/2013/06/05/the-effects-of-climate-change-on-coral-reef-health/
5. Japan is set to become the world’s largest solar power market in 2013. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/06/04/japanese-solar-industry-soaring/
6. The federal government just raised the estimated social cost of emitting carbon by 60%. One effect is to raise the amount of carbon mitigation which can be justified. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/06/americans-for-prosperity-carbon-tax
1. Led by Stanford faculty, 524 scientists from 84 countries have signed a declaration that we must act soon to avoid collapses of life support systems on a global scale. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/may/environment-consensus-statement-052313.html
2. Newly open water in the Arctic absorbs more CO2 than the former sea ice. The Arctic Ocean is acidifying rapidly. http://www.enn.com/climate/article/46007?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ClimateChangeNews-Enn+%28Climate+Change+News+-+ENN%29
3. Pieces of the picture on climate coverage: CBS has broken their silence on climate with a panel discussion on Face the Nation. http://thinkprogress.org/media/2013/05/26/2063231/cbs-climate-change/?mobile=nc NBC has been the best of the major TV news networks in covering climate. http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/52002561/#52002561 Chris Hayes of MSNBC has been active and well informed in covering climate disruption for the last several months. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/28/msnbcs-chris-hayes-rips-gov-chris-christie-for-dismissing-climate-change/ Hayes may have influenced Rachael Maddow’s recent discovery of the issue. The New York Times has had little coverage in the last couple of years. BBC coverage has become spotty. The Guardian remains the major paper with regular coverage. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-change Here is an encouraging editorial from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which seems to be joining CBS in finding its voice (though maybe I have just missed its coverage). http://articles.philly.com/2013-05-26/news/39540253_1_climate-change-carbon-emissions-recovery-efforts Mother Jones, of course, along with The Rolling Stone, regularly issues a blast. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/terracide-exxon-environment
4. A letter in Nature Climate Change models the response of coastal real estate to climate risk. It predicts that when the risks and cost of armoring against flooding and erosion become larger than returns from rentals, the real estate market crashes and properties will be abandoned. It observes that people with little trust in climate models are more likely to hold real estate on barrier islands given current projections, so that taxes of the general population to underwrite the climate risks of holding coastal property go to support people who have undervalued risk projections. The study predicts that under conditions of high sea level rise rates (10 mm/year) a market crash develops rapidly. (Increasing rates of sea level rise, of course, are upon us.) Dylan McNamara and Andrew Keeler, “A coupled physical and economic model of the response of coastal real estate to climate risk,” June 2013, 559-62 (subsc. req.).
5. Progress toward a transition to renewable energy: Australia appears set to beat its target of 22.5% renewable energy by 2020. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/30/australia-2020-renewable-energy-target In spite of cheap American coal, the European Union seems on track to meet its target of 20% reduction in emissions by 2020 (on a 1990 base). http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/29/us-eu-emissions-idUSBRE94S0EV20130529?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews China is reported committed to reaching peak emissions by 2025 or earlier. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21829193.300-can-china-really-turn-its-emissions-around-by-2025.html Jim Hansen, discourage by the US failure to take legislative action on climate, believes that it may be time for a third political party in the US. http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2013/20130529_AmericanParty.pdf Still, President Obama achieved his goal of 12% renewable power by 2012 and intends that the country to produce 25% renewably by 2025. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_the_United_States The US Sunshot initiative did succeed in lowering the cost of solar power to the point that permitting and installation are the soft spots. The goal is retail solar power at $.06/kwh and a constructed price for commercial solar of $1/watt by the end of the decade. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/sunshot/about.html We are close now. http://news.yahoo.com/cusp-solar-energy-boom-075000286.html In sum we have much to do to avoid the worst effects of climate disruption. (See item 1.) The great good news is that we have made a start.
1. The cost of solar power is now lower than wind in some markets, and should generally overtake (undertake?) wind soon. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/16/column-wynn-wind-solar-idUSL6N0DV3M120130516 Goldman Sachs is putting $500 million into third party financing for rooftop solar and has plans to invest $40 billion in renewable energy in the next decade. http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059981337
They are (also?) investing $2.9 billion in Japanese renewables. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gc4YRdHoaAYcFcphbOFjmpt_i4wA
2. California’s renewable energy program has added only 1% to power bills since 2006, lower than expected. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/05/despite-fears-new-renewables-are-not-bankrupting-california?cmpid=WNL-Friday-May24-2013
3. An article in Nature Geoscience confirms that the oceans are absorbing an unexpected portion of recent global heating, and that atmospheric heating seems likely to be slower than anticipated in the immediate future. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/19/us-climate-temperatures-idUSBRE94I0DJ20130519?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews More detail, particularly expert commentary: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/19/climate-change-meltdown-unlikely-research And a bit more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22567023# The topic has been misunderstood as calling basic climate science into question. I am trying to include enough commentary to put that idea to rest.
4. At a December hearing on climate disruption insurance industry speakers urged insurers not to pull out of high risk markets. They remarked on the resistance to paying the costs of current risks—specifically in Florida. One observed that not all of the costs of climate change are insurable. The occasion was the release of a CERES report on the issue. http://eesi.org/121412_insurance The NRDC reports that in 2012 the taxpayers directly funded 3 times more of the costs of climate disruption than did the insurance industry. Climate-related events took more federal support in 2012 than education or transportation. http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/taxpayer-climate-costs.asp
5. Warming has no clear statistical influence on tornado incidence so far, and because wind shear may decrease in a warming world, may have no influence in the future. http://www.climatecentral.org/news/making-sense-of-the-moore-tornado-in-a-climate-context-16021?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+climatecentral%2FdjOO+Climate+Central+-+Full+Feed More from Joe Romm, including an observation from Kevin Trenberth that the additional warmth and moisture from climate disruption are certainly influencing storm intensity and have increased general damages by up to 32%. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/21/2040221/tornadoes-extreme-weather-and-climate-change-revisited/
6. More than 32 million people were displaced from their homes last year, 98% from climate-related disasters. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/picture/2013/may/20/climate-disasters-displace-millions-worldwide
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