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Tilley's Track

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. Tilley’s analysis is intended to provoke thought and action, but not necessarily endorsed or held as policy by the Sierra Club.

About Allen Tilley

To receive these items in your email, please join the listserv called the Global Warming Study Group: GWSG lists.unf.edu/mailman/listinfo/gwsg   

Sent 4/17


1.  Rising CO2 causes fish to become more adventurous and susceptible to predators.  It even seems to cause them to reverse their sense of danger from the smell of predators.  The effect does not lessen with habituation to the new CO2 levels, and could endanger the entire food chain.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/14/entire-marine-food-chain-at-risk-from-rising-co2-levels-in-water



2.  Climate contrarians have managed to get papers published, but the journals are often the worse for it.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/apr/14/climate-contrarian-backlash-journal-difficult-lesson



3.  Business Insider reports that solar energy is becoming so cheap that it will dominate energy supply.  http://www.businessinsider.com/solar-price-terrordome-chart-2014-4  CleanTechnica provides further comments.  Thanks to Tom Larson for the news.  http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/14/low-cost-solar-poised-for-global-domination/



4.  The 2° threshold will mean significant changes for Europe, with high temperatures and significantly increased precipitation.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140415084425.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fscience_society%2Fresource_shortage+%28Resource+Shortage+News+--+ScienceDaily%29



5.  Direct measurement of methane releases by newly drilled wells in PA showed methane levels 100-1,000 times EPA estimates.    http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2340130/fracking-methane-leaks-at-least-100-times-larger-than-epa-estimated-say-researchers 


The PNAS study has implications for the use of natural gas as a bridge from coal to renewables.   http://climatecrocks.com/2014/04/16/are-natural-gas-wells-huge-methane-sources/



6.  The XL Keystone pipeline would be a major setback to climate mitigation efforts.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/apr/16/keystone-xl-cops-incompetent


7.  Japan might replace its nuclear power with coal.  But it need not do that; increased efficiency has already replaced much of the nuclear capacity.  http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/how-japan-replaced-half-its-nuclear-capacity-with-efficiency?utm_source=Efficiency&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily 


The negawatt—a watt you don’t have to produce because you are using energy more efficiently—is hands down the cheapest energy available.  Costs vary by region; generally, a negawatt is more expensive in those areas which have already undertaken energetic efficiency programs, but even there it beats all other sources of energy.  http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/studies-efficiency-still-the-cheapest-energy-resource?utm_source=Efficiency&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily 



Sent 4/13


1.  “Years of Living Dangerously” now on Showtime Sunday nights at 10 is the most ambitious mass media project yet on climate.  The Guardian provides details on the nine part series.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/apr/09/years-of-living-dangerously-global-warming-blockbuster  You can tell that the series is anticipated to have an effect on public knowledge about climate by the squealing from the The Breakthrough Institute (among other foes of action to control greenhouse gas emissions).   


2.  When NBC ran a special on climate last week they gave the final ten minutes or so to Roger Pielke, Jr., of The Breakthrough Institute (see the last item).  Contrarians get inordinate attention from the media, generally, even when their work has been resoundingly discredited.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/apr/11/climate-change-research-quality-imbalance

3.  Desmond Tutu is calling for an apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign aimed at exerting moral and financial pressure on fossil fuel companies.  “We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies.”  Thanks to Brian Paradise for the story.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/10/desmond-tutu-anti-apartheid-style-boycott-fossil-fuel-industry


4.  Leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund joined the UN Secretary General to ask the finance managers of 46 countries to use financial tools such as carbon taxes to counter global climate change.  http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/11/climatechange-money-idINDEEA3A0DG20140411

5.  Current Chinese plans for energy efficiency and renewable energy development could mean that its greenhouse gas emissions will peak before 2020.  Coal emissions are already tapering off.    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/china-cuts-in-coal-use-may-mean-world-emissions-peak-before-2020.html


6.  The IPCC Working Group III on mitigation has released its report, calling for conversion to renewable energy sources sufficient to lower emissions by 40-70% on a 2010 base by midcentury and emissions levels near zero by 2100 in order to keep warming below 2° C (page 15 of the report Summary).  The report projects that the conversion will be affordable and in any case is necessary.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/13/averting-climate-change-catastrophe-is-affordable-says-ipcc-report-un   Further details, and a link to the report and its 33 page summary from the Washington Post:   http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/world-must-turn-from-fossil-fuels-to-cleaner-energy-to-avoid-climate-disaster-panel-says/2014/04/13/21bd2144-c273-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html   US Secretary of State John Kerry called the report “a wake-up call for entrepreneurs.”  http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/167393-un-climate-report-a-wakeup-for-entrepreneurs-kerry.html   Further reactions from Kerry and from many other notable people:  http://www.rtcc.org/2014/04/13/ipcc-wg3-reaction-as-un-launches-third-climate-report/ 


Sent 4/9


1.  Missouri U of Science and Technology has hooked up its solar decathlon houses from 2002-09 in a microgrid which can “island from the utility grid indefinitely.”  This first US solar village is inhabited by grad students.  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/03/solar-decathlon-houses-make-up-a-solar-village-to-test-microgrid-technology?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-April2-2014

2.  Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage removes and stores the CO2 produced by burning biomass for energy.  Ideally, that would produce negative emissions, but the idea has its difficulties.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/07/ipcc-report-sucking-carbon-air-climate-report-biomass

3.  The Showtime series on climate “Years of Living Dangerously” premieres Sunday, April 13, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.  Here is the first installment, courtesy of Climate Crock (which mistakes the premiere date).  I found it informed and engaging.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/04/07/camerons-years-of-living-dangerously-project-lands-today/

4.  Harvard has refused to divest from fossil fuels but will be the first US university endowment to sign on to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investing.  http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/04/07/after-refusing-divest-from-fossil-fuels-harvard-takes-new-steps-promote-the-environment/USthkCP9SJOXSAwSsxx5QP/story.html  The IPCC’s Working Group III report on mitigation, due out this week, is expected to call urgently for large and systematic cuts in in financial support for fossil fuels and complementary increases in investment in renewable energy.  http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/04/07/draft-un-report-investment-in-renewable-energy-must-rise-drastically/   While the share of renewable energy globally continued to grow last year, investment in the sector fell 14%.  (Biofuels are the hardest hit, and some would say, deservedly so for a sector dubiously green.)  http://www.eco-business.com/news/global-dip-renewable-energy-investment/   In a new report Citigroup announces that for investment purposes “The Age of Renewables is Beginning.”  Renewables are newly competitive with fossil fuels and do not share their price volatility.  http://www.businessinsider.com/citi-the-age-of-renewables-is-beginning--2014-3 

5.  In the last ten years developments in wind turbine technology have led to greater power output at an expanded range of wind speeds.  The next ten years should see further drops in the cost what is already a most competitive renewable energy source.  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/04/advancements-in-wind-turbine-technology-improving-efficiency-and-reducing-cost?cmpid=WNL-Friday-April4-2014  

6.  In 2013 wind energy cut us carbon emissions by 4.4% and saved 36.5 billion gallons of water.  http://ecowatch.com/2014/04/08/wind-power-carbon-emissions/   Renewables, excluding hydropower, were 8.5% of global power production last year.  (The story concludes with a good review of the global investment situation.)   http://www.climatecentral.org/news/cheap-solar-power-pushes-renewables-growth-worldwide-17272

7.  Global solar investment surged in the first quarter of this year.  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/04/solar-sector-keeping-investors-busy?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-April9-2014

8.  Shell is among the 70 companies in the Prince of Wales Corporate Leader Group to sign a call to implement an energy transition leading to net zero emissions before the end of the century.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/08/bt-shell-corporates-trillion-tonnes-carbon

9.  The Elio is a three-wheel auto which gets 84 mpg on the highway, expects a 5-star safety rating, will carry a passenger or groceries in the back seat, and costs $6,800.  It is due out this summer.  http://grist.org/list/elio-three-wheeled-car-84-mpg/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520April%25208&utm_campaign=daily


Sent 4/1


1.  The IPCC Working Group II report on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability is now out.  Climate Crocks supplies a few handy responses.  Click the first line for the 44 page summary itself.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/03/30/climate-impacts-potentially-immense-overwhelming/ 


The supplementary materials at the end of the summary report provide graphics of regional impacts and such useful tools as the simple breakdown of the planning process on page 37, which illustrates the centrality of studying vulnerability.  The Guardian provides an overview of report’s statements of the impacts on wildlife.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/ipcc-climate-report-wildlife-impact 


The full report is 2,600 pages.  IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri says that it should “jolt people into action.”  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/31/climate-change-report-ipcc-chief 


Pachauri warned that no one will be untouched by the changes in progress.  http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/03/31/the-ipccs-stark-warning-no-nation-will-be-untouched-by-climate-change/ 



2.  Ed Carter responded to the review of the Showtime series on climate which begins this month.  “The Years of Living Dangerously looks very interesting.  Methane increased production and leakage is a serious issue. Touting a switch to methane or "natural" gas as a climate change improvement is misleading at best. The industry would have to keep leaks down to 1% to be carbon neutral and it is more like 13% from what I read. That is because methane is 34* more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 at trapping heat over a hundred years and 86 times more potent over the first 20 years. Talk about ‘out of the fracking pan and into the fire’.



“The only problem I had with the preview was the "Hurricanes are getting stronger" comment. There definitely have been some dooseys lately in size, intensification, and frequency, but the experts I trust say the numbers to stamp increased tropical storm intensity as climate change aren't there yet.”



3.  Hank Williams doodled up some extensions of the idea of storing energy with carloads of rocks on an incline.  “An idle thought on item 5:  Using tidal action why couldn't we raise that railcar full of rocks on a cable and ratchet model which, when released, spins a flywheel as it un-spools going down, having the flywheel turn a generator and add the additional impetus of momentum if there is any left at the bottom of the cycle.  The raising energy would be the combination of tide and wave action; areas of large tidal swings are often areas of large topographic swings near the coast (Maine, the St Laurence seaway).


“There would be no new technology, the capital investment would have no startup expense to invent some way to do it:  blocks, tackle, barges, railcars.  On small tides connect fewer cars, on springs, connect an entire train.  Alternatively, add cars on springs, have the flywheel store more energy to release over time between tides.”  I responded that though we are short on hills in coastal FL, building an incline would probably be cheaper than building a nuclear reactor. 



4.  The greatest extinction, the end-Permian, may have been caused by a methane-belching microbe.  http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/mar/31/methane-producing-microbes-mass-extinction-methanosarcina


5.  California citizens got their first payment from the state’s new cap and trade system.  Thanks to Brian Paradise for the story.  http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/03/31/california-climatechange-idINL1N0MS1UR20140331


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