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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 10/24 

1.  A Living on Earth interview describes why the drop in crude oil prices is causing the cancellation of new tar sands projects and may halt the development of the Koch brothers’ Alberta Tar Sands.  The less we use, the cheaper it gets, and the less profitable it becomes to use extreme extraction methods.  Thanks to Brian Paradise for the link.  http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=14-P13-00042&segmentID=1 

Luckily, wind and solar power are becoming so cheap that they might run oil off the cliff.  An electric car would make an appropriate vehicle.  You could pick one of the fifteen now available in California. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/10/23/kia-soul-ev-2015-hits-californian-market-rated-93-miles-range-105-mpge/?utm_source=Cleantechnica+News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=008969e87a-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_b9b83ee7eb-008969e87a-331994013   But beware of lifting the restrictions on US crude exports, which would increase production pressures.  http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20141020/us-oil-exports-would-worsen-global-warming-government-auditors-say  Finally, the market, which got us into this mess, cannot be trusted to get us out.  We must put a direct price on carbon.  If you have not read Naomi Oreskes’ fine book This Changes Everything now would be a good time.


2.  This September was the hottest one on record.  So were May, June, and August.  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/20/3581850/hottest-september-on-record/


3.  US carbon emissions rose 2.5% last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/21/us-fossil-fuel-obama-climate-change-energy-heat  The rise estimate is unlikely to include realistic figures on methane emissions, which have been ignored by the EPA. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/22/how-much-methaneisleakingfromfrackinginfrastructure.html  So where are the methane regulations we were promised for this fall?  http://grist.org/climate-energy/we-were-promised-methane-regulations-where-are-our-methane-regulations/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Oct%252022&utm_campaign=daily


4.  Grist’s David Roberts argues that “Our power utilities are structured to oppose our social and environmental goals.”  Since those goals will become only more persistent, the utilities will have to transform their business model by creating value for their customers.  http://grist.org/climate-energy/rooftop-solar-is-just-the-beginning-utilities-must-innovate-or-go-extinct/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Oct%252022&utm_campaign=daily


5.  The city commission of South Miami, FL, has voted to split South Florida off to form a separate state so that it could fully engage the prospect of sea level rise, as the current state government has failed to do.  Tom Larson suggested the topic.  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/22/3582766/florida-city-secession-sea-level-rise/?elq=~~eloqua..type--emailfield..syntax--recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type--campaign..campaignid--0..fieldname--id~~


6.  The EU has adopted a target of cutting emissions 40% on a 1990 base by 2030, with 27% renewable energy and a 27% increase in energy efficiency improvement.  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/eu-leaders-agree-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-40-by-2030  

Sent 10/19 

1.  Seattle’s Bullitt Center produces its own energy, processes its own restroom waste, and collects its own potable water.  It gets to sell the negawatts from its high efficiency features to the local utility, and provides as much value in the way of environmental services to Seattle as it took to build it.  http://grist.org/business-technology/how-one-building-is-changing-the-world/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Oct%252015&utm_campaign=daily


2.  In the last couple of years significant methane seeps have been found from surprising sources.  Does methane release pose a significant present danger?  Peter Sinclair has put together an interim collection of materials on the topic, including a brief interview with Carolyn Ruppel.  The material supplies the information necessary to listen in on the methane conversation.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/10/15/calling-the-methane-bomb-squad/ 

Richard Alley meditates the likelihood and unlikelihood of a giant methane burp  The piece includes an excerpt from an NAS study of Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change in which Alley participated.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/10/17/methane-bomb-squad-part-4-dr-richard-alley-and-the-national-academy/


3.  Lockheed says that it can produce a 100 megawatt fusion reactor which would fit in the back of a pickup truck.  They hope to have it available commercially in ten years.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/15/lockheed-breakthrough-nuclear-fusion-energy  It may well be, as Joe Romm argues, that the technology would be too late for the necessary energy transition even if Lockheed were able to meet its announced schedule.  This late in the process of climate disruption we may have to go with the current technologies of renewable energy to reduce emissions in time to have a chance of maintaining a livable world. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/15/3580379/fusion-power-lockheed-martin-cfr/?elq=~~eloqua..type--emailfield..syntax--recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type--campaign..campaignid--0..fieldname--id~~


4.  A Dutch team has won an award for its salt tolerant potato.  They are developing crops which can be grown on diluted sea water.  Several tons of seed potatoes are on their way to Pakistan, where salt water encroachment has already taken large tracts of land out of agricultural production.  http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/18/humble-potato-poised-to-launch-food-revolution  Unlike the Dutch project, industrial agriculture is engaged in green-washing with such self-descriptors as “climate-smart.”  http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/oct/17/climate-change-agriculture-bad-isnt-good 

Permaculture is a good place to start looking through the developments in agriculture which promise to provide food in a heated world.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture  Kristin Ohlson’s The Soil will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet (Rodale Press, 2014) is a non-technical and personal investigation of the rewards and promise of ecologically responsible agriculture.  http://smile.amazon.com/Soil-Will-Save-Us-Scientists-ebook/dp/B00DVF13AW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413735793&sr=8-1&keywords=the+soil+will+save+us 


Sent 10/15 

1.  Coal plants with carbon capture and sequestration are underway at several sites and a few are in operation.  The picture is full of trade-offs.  A Saskatchewan project sequesters 90% of the carbon but uses it to recover oil.  All cost a lot and use extra coal to trap the carbon.   http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531531/carbon-sequestration-too-little-too-late/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-weekly-energy&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20141013  Finally, we do not need (and should not develop) ways to keep on producing and burning more fossil fuel.  We could remove CO2 from the air using amines—but the major market for the CO2 is enhanced recovery of oil, and in that situation whatever energy we put into CO2 recovery would better be used to retire coal/natural gas power production.  http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/531346/can-sucking-co2-out-of-the-atmosphere-really-work/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-weekly-energy&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20141013   If we do employ CCS, measurements of volcanic CO2 trapped in New Mexico’s Bravo Dome shows that saline aquifers can sequester CO2 for a million years.  http://news.sciencemag.org/chemistry/2014/10/storing-greenhouse-gas-underground-million-years


2.  Rising temperatures and increased CO2 can degrade the rebar in concrete ahead of the projected time, resulting in crumbling bridges and buildings.  https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/10/11/for-concrete-climate-change-may-mean-shorter-lifespan/rJ8vWjSp2xRShwFmDS6lQJ/story.html


3.  As more Pacific islanders are becoming climate refugees, New Zealand has recognized climate disruption as a factor in granting asylum to people in forced migration (along with escaping political persecution, the usual legal grounds for accepting refugees).  Island spokespeople are asking that other nations follow New Zealand’s lead.  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/14/island-nations-shouldnt-be-left-to-drown-from-climate-change


4.  The Pentagon has released a report naming climate disruption as an immediate threat to national security as it triggers terrorism, disease, poverty, and food shortages, among other humanitarian crises.  The report foresees mass forced migrations destabilizing whole regions.  (As a senator, Defense Secretary Hagel, who is calling for extensive preparation to deal with the challenges of climate, sponsored legislation to block US participation in the Kyoto Protocol.  Now he is posing a major challenge to deniers among his former Republican colleagues as he attempts to build a global agreement to act on climate.)  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/us/pentagon-says-global-warming-presents-immediate-security-threat.html?_r=5  The report, released at a meeting of thirty defense ministers, marks a change from planning for climate disruption as a “threat multiplier” in the future (language still in use) to confronting it as an “immediate risk” as well.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/13/pentagon-global-warming-will-change-how-us-military-trains-and-goes-to-war


5.    Plants absorb more CO2 than previously thought.  Models will have to be adjusted, but the general climate picture is not expected to change greatly.  http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29601644 


Sent 10/11 

1.  The global solar industry is adding 19.5 gigawatts of capacity in the last quarter of 2014, the equivalent of five large nuclear power plants.  That would increase world capacity to 200GW, with 50GW added this year.  http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2374135/solar-power-market-could-hit-200gw-milestone-by-year-end


2.  Many East Coast cities are experiencing tidal flooding now.  The Union of Concerned Scientists provide a chart of how that will increase by 2030 and 2045.  Washington D.C. leads the list with almost 400 tidal floods in 2045; Miami will have only 240 and Jacksonville about 110.  http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/impacts/effects-of-tidal-flooding-and-sea-level-rise-east-coast-gulf-of-mexico#.VDVXn-8tDIU


3.  President Obama has called for the extension of measures already widely adopted to minimize the impact of climate disruption: replanting cleared forests, creating greenways, restoring coastlines and river fronts as storm buffers, and practicing low impact development.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-rogers/how-cities-can-help-fight_b_5954754.html


4.  Inshore waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are acidifying at almost triple the rate of offshore waters, with dire implications for coral and other inshore aquatic life.  The effect has appeared in the last 30 years.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/10/great-barrier-reef-a-massive-chemistry-experiment-gone-wrong  Mangroves in the Virgin Islands provide protection for over 30 species of coral.  The mangroves shade the corals from the heat and modify the chemical insults.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141008131601.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28Latest+Science+News+--+ScienceDaily%29  A collaborative report to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity warns that ocean acidity has increased 26% already and will have a widespread impact on ocean life.  http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/10/08/4102808.htm


5.  The loss of Arctic sea ice is understood and in accordance with climate models.  The growth of Antarctic sea ice is not in accordance with models but is understood as an effect of increasing winds blowing cold air from the interior of the continent over increased fresh water from ice sheet melt.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/09/why-is-antarctic-sea-ice-at-record-levels-despite-global-warming


6.  Waste heat can be used to generate power.  Thanks to Tom Larson for the item. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531526/an-industrial-size-generator-that-runs-on-waste-heat-using-no-fuel/


7.   A hitherto unsuspected hotspot in the four corners region of New Mexico is responsible for 10% of US methane emissions.  The newly discovered emissions arise from coal mining and processing.  It is another indication that methane emissions have been severely underestimated by the EPA and others.  http://e360.yale.edu/digest/natural_gas_production_causing_large_methane_hotspot_over_us_southwest/4272/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+YaleEnvironment360+%28Yale+Environment+360%29  More details:  http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/stories/biggest-us-methane-source-spotted-from-space 


8.  The SXSW Eco conference in Austin yielded some interesting positions for cities confronting climate disruption: for example, we don’t need more food (but we do need to distribute it better); we can’t climate-proof cities.  http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/oct/10/can-we-climate-proof-cities-sxsw-eco-austin 


9.  We can still keep under 2° of warming, but we have to get busy, reports a group of thirty energy and climate experts.  They say how.  We don’t need new technology, but we do need courage.    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/10/we-can-meet-c2-climate-target-and-heres-how-say-energy-experts 



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