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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 8/19


1.  A review of research published in the Public Library of Science shows five emerging trends in studies of climate change ecology.  http://blogs.plos.org/blog/2014/08/12/ecologists-worried-right-now-5-emerging-trends-climate-change-ecology/

2.  A new polymer absorbs CO2 under the conditions for producing hydrogen in an IGCC and then releases it, perhaps for sequestration.  It has the potential to render hydrogen a sustainable power source, assuming that satisfactory storage can be devised for the CO2.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140810124200.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28Latest+Science+News+--+ScienceDaily%29


3.  A 3,000 megawatt wind farm in Wyoming awaits federal environmental approval.  None of the power will remain in Wyoming, which uses primarily coal, unless the EPA rules can overcome ALEC and other fossil fuel interests in the state.  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/11/3469826/wind-farm-wyoming-carbon-county/?elq=~~eloqua..type--emailfield..syntax--recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type--campaign..campaignid--0..fieldname--id~~


4.  22% of the world’s power came from renewable sources in 2013, an increase of 8% over 2012.  Over 144 countries have renewable energy targets, and 138 have support policies for that energy.  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/08/global-renewable-energy-status-uncovered?cmpid=WNL-Friday-August15-2014 


Wave and tidal power are proving more expensive than forecast and are growing slowly than other renewable sources.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-14/wave-and-tidal-power-costing-more-than-forecast.html


5.  A booming market in solar panels has reversed the glut of recent years.  Production may lag demand for the first time in eight years, though new production is planned and may pace demand.  Prices are not expected to rise since the increasing demand is based partly on the declining cost of solar power.   http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-18/solar-boom-driving-first-global-panel-shortage-since-2006.html


6.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 1000 requires regional grid planning which takes renewable portfolio standards into account and otherwise paves the way for a transition to renewable power.  It has been fought in the courts by utilities and other interests but has now been affirmed by the US Court of Appeals.  The next step for the enemies would be the Supreme Court.  The Southeast and West are the regions most likely to see changes from Order 1000.  http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25870


7.  A report by the Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab calculates the current cost of wind energy at 2.5 cents/kilowatt hour, an all-time low more remarkable because recent projects have often been in less favorable areas.  http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Price-of-US-Wind-Power-at-All-Time-Low-of-2.5-Cents-Per-Kilowatt-Hour?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

Sent 8/11


1. Biomass burning accounts for 18% of carbon emissions, far more than we had thought, and for 5-10% of mortalities from air pollution.  http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0805-hance-biomass-burning-impacts.html.


2. Glint Photonics has developed a system which traps and concentrates solar energy from the changing angles of the day, greatly simplifying the need for tracking technologies.  It has the potential to reduce the cost of concentrated solar energy to $.04/kilowatt hour.  The technology is not yet commercial.  http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529476/adaptive-material-could-cut-the-cost-of-solar-in-half/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-weekly-energy&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20140804    The concentrated solar power industry is in something of a tailspin because it cannot compete with solar panels (or gas) in cost.  Glint’s news should help it recover, if commercialization works as well as promised.  http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Areva-Abandons-Solar-and-Shutters-Its-Ausra-Concentrated-Solar-Effort?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily


3. Startup company Semprius has found a way to stack collectors of a range of solar frequencies so as to increase efficiency to 50%.  The technique has the potential to decrease the cost and the footprint of pv solar power.  The company estimates that the cost would drop to below $.05/kWh—making it competitive with Glint’s concentrating solar technology above.  http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529651/stacking-cells-could-make-solar-as-cheap-as-natural-gas/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-weekly-energy&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20140811


4. As photovoltaic power prices continue to drop, utilities have worked to keep people from using it in several states.  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-no-solar-20140810-story.html#page=1


5. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute has summarized a selection of recent government publications on climate.  Topics include health vulnerability, defense, and extreme heat events.  A selection of forthcoming publications is also provided.  http://www.eesi.org/papers/view/summarizing-recent-governmental-climate-change-publications


6. While Broward County municipalities have adopted the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact’s Climate Action Plan, local governments in the other three Compact counties have not.  The linked article emphasizes the resistance to action in Southeast Florida and sketches the near-term challenges the region faces from sea level rise.  http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060004241 


The Compact’s web site, with a link to the plan:  http://southeastfloridaclimatecompact.org/

7. In a U of WA study on the behavior of plants as temperatures rise, 60% of plant species generally and occasionally all plants in a habitat moved down slope, perhaps in response to changing precipitation patterns, rather than moving higher to cooler temperatures as was expected.   Planning for conservation in a changing climate asks for careful analysis of specific environments.  http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/08/plants-have-unexpected-response-climate-change


8. An article in Nature Climate Change observes that the climate impact of the Keystone XL pipeline has been greatly underestimated because the pipeline would reduce the cost of oil and therefore increase consumption.  http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/keystone-climate-impact-could-be-4-times-u-s-state-dept-estimate-study-says-1.1953616


Sent 7/31

1.  Peter Sinclair has assembled expert testimony concerning the rate of methane emissions from the Arctic and its impact.  Oxford’s Anton Vaks calculates that the tipping point past which methane emissions will cause sufficient heat to release further methane, making it impossible for us to intervene, is 1.5°C of warming.  We are more than halfway there.  James Box:  “This is an all hands on deck moment. We’re in the age of consequences.”  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/07/28/is-the-climate-change-awakening-a-methane-monster/

2.  ALEC is calling all hands on deck to preserve the current use of fossil fuels.  They cannot understand the consequences of what they doing in their greed.  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/28/3461743/alec-annual-meeting-energy-climate/

3.  The Guardian’s Karl Mathieson supplies 10 welcome reasons to be hopeful that ALEC will fail and the rest of us will succeed.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/30/reasons-hopeful-overcome-climate-change-solar

4.  The President’s Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the cost of dealing with climate change will rise 40% for each decade of delay.  (Though if we wait ten years we may not be worrying about this at all.  See item 1.)  http://time.com/3049465/report-not-acting-on-climate-change-could-have-serious-economic-impact/

5.  A new study shows that ground water is being depleted six times faster than surface water in the Colorado River basin, which supplies many civic and agricultural centers.  http://news.sciencemag.org/earth/2014/07/western-u-s-states-using-ground-water-alarming-rate

6.  Mueller, a planned sustainable community in Austin, TX, has more electric cars per capita than any other US city and lots of solar power to charge them.  In an interview the Pecan Street Project research team looks at what spurs residential solar investment.  Solar growth is already exponential in the US; it seems to be set for explosive increase, first in CA.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/07/25/pecan-street-and-exponential-growth-of-solar/

7.  The Washington Post excerpts from Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s  The Collapse of Western Civilization fourteen concepts and terms which are due to become obsolete by 2393.  Among them are “environment” and “invisible hand.”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/14-concepts-that-will-be-obsoleteafter-catastrophic-climate-change/2014/07/25/04c4b1f8-11e0-11e4-9285-4243a40ddc97_story.html

8.  Ontario has signed up for 34mw of energy storage from a range of technologies—thermal, hydrogen, batteries, and flywheels.  The storage approaches are partly matched to specific tasks, and are partly in competition.   http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ontario-contracts-34mw-of-all-of-the-above-energy-storage?utm_source=Efficiency&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily 

9.  A Delaware tar sands oil refinery has asked for government assistance in protecting it from sea level rise.  http://grist.org/climate-energy/oil-refinery-threatened-by-sea-level-rise-asks-government-to-fix-problem/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520July%252030&utm_campaign=daily 






Sent 7/25

1.  Because cattle are inefficient processors of their feed, beef uses far more resources and contributes far more carbon to the atmosphere than its alternatives, including chicken and pork.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars


2.  Global heat set a new high last month, and the month before.  “We are living in the steroid era of the climate system,” said NOAA’s climate monitoring chief Derek Arndt.  http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/25472497/article-World-breaks-monthly-heat-record-2-times-in-a-row-?instance=special_coverage_bullets_right_column


3.  The heads of state of the US and China are part of a long list of leaders expected for a September UN meeting on climate in New York to prepare for a 2015 conference in France.  Rally organizers hope to have a million marchers to support them.   http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/24/barack-obama-xi-jinping-ban-ki-moon-climate-summit


4.  A new court ruling would require the government to consider the social cost of carbon released from the extraction of fossil fuels on federal land when permits are requested.  http://www.climatecentral.org/news/social-cost-carbon-court-ruling-17800


5.  Renewables provided 55.7% of new energy in the US during the first half of this year.  Solar accounted for about a third of new energy.  Renewables now account for 16.3% of US capacity.    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/07/renewables-provide-56-percent-of-new-us-electrical-generating-capacity-in-first-half-of-2014?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-July23-2014


6.  Navigant Research estimates that wind will supply 7.3% of electricity globally by 2018.  http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25828


7.  An Oregon SU study finds that 15,000 years ago the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans became synchronized in their transfer of heat north, tipping off a period of rapid climate change.  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-07/osu-son072314.php


8.  Deforestation shrinks markedly when forests are managed by local communities.  10-20% of greenhouse gas emissions annually result from deforestation.  http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/25/forests-land-rights-deforestation-climate-change



Sent 7/21


1.  An ACEEE scoring of 16 nations on energy efficiency placed Germany first, the US thirteenth.  http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Global-Ranking-for-Energy-Efficiency-US-Near-Bottom-Germany-Near-Top?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily 


The report itself:  http://aceee.org/portal/national-policy/international-scorecard


2.  In under 3 minutes the Rocky Mt. Institute explains why solar and wind ramp up so quickly.  For one thing, if you build a natural gas plant it will produce a certain amount of energy every year.  If you build a pv factory, it will produce energy producers every year.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/07/18/why-solar-is-taking-over/   In under 4 minutes, Amory Lovins goes on to explain why we need not wait for cheap bulk energy storage to transition to renewables.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/07/19/the-myth-of-energy-storage-vs-baseload/


3.  Stress from climate disruption can lead to cooperation as well as conflict.  Examples are the international cooperation over water supply from the Colorado and Mekong rivers.    The article begins by questioning some of the links claimed between climate stress and conflict.    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-liverman/what-if-climate-change-tr_b_5599886.html


4.  Based on a new study State of the Climate in 2013, the head of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center says that “the climate is changing more rapidly now than it has at any time in the historical record.”  “More than 400 scientists from 57 countries contributed to the report.”  http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/07/report-climate-changing-more-rapidly-any-point-record  Further details from the report:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/18/3461677/noaa-state-of-the-climate-warmer/


5.  The BRICS nations have established a bank with $100 b to fund infrastructure and sustainable development.  http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2014/07/20/brics-100bn-sustainable-development-bank-launched-by-worlds-largest-developing-economies/


6.  While melting permafrost releases methane and contributes to heating, a thermokarst lake over millennia becomes a net carbon sink.  http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/47608


7.  Google Street View cars are now equipped with methane sensors, and some Google city maps are already indicating methane releases.  http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/07/google-maps-methane-leaks.html


8.  WA State just lowered the cost of its residential solar power by standardizing and simplifying the permitting process.  http://grist.org/news/washington-state-just-lopped-up-to-2500-off-the-cost-of-solar-panels-heres-how/?utm_source=syndication&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed 




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