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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 4/23


1.  Researchers at the DOE’s Berkeley Lab have developed a lithium-sulfur battery that could power an electric auto with a 300 mile range.  The Li/S battery is cheaper than the lithium-ion battery, does not have the overheating problems, is more environmentally benign, and is long lived.  The lab is now working to scale it commercially.  http://eetd.lbl.gov/newsletter/nl46/eetd-nl46-1-holistic.html


2.  Al Gore is sounding more hopeful on the prospects of dealing with climate change than he did a couple of years ago.  The dropping cost of solar power is one factor.  http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/19/al-gore-climate-change-crisis/


3.  Cellulosic ethanol made from corn waste is no better than gasoline for carbon emissions, according to a new study.  If the study holds, biofuel from corn stover would not qualify as renewable under EPA guidelines.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/20/corn-biofuels-gasoline-global-warming

4.  New online tools are making available local projections for sea level rise, deforestation, water supply, and other climate related matters.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/20/climate-change-new-online-tools/7739415/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+usatoday-NewsTopStories+%28USATODAY+-+News+Top+Stories%29


5.  Net metering for rooftop solar and state renewable energy standards are under attack in several states by the Koch brothers, utilities, and others.  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-solar-kochs-20140420,0,7412286.story#axzz2zP9yfShi  The Koch brothers may want to protect their fossil fuel profits, and the utilities presumably want to continue to operate as they are accustomed.  If the Kochs and others like them cling to fossil fuels, we shall try to see we do not go down with them as seems to be their intent.  However, we need the utilities with us as part of the solution to our climate woes.  Peter Sinclair assembles several stories on the threat that renewable energy poses (and is said to pose but does not) to traditional utilities’ business model, and the opportunities that managed distributed power generation offers.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/04/21/utilities-transformation-or-die-off/ 


Not all Republicans oppose solar power, and others may discover that opposition is bad for their political future.  http://climatecrocks.com/2014/04/23/republicans-who-oppose-solar-will-be-wiped-out/

6.  Can fossil fuel companies be sued for the damage they have done?  Perhaps.  A paper last fall documented the contributions of 84 companies to anthropogenic warming.  A federal court found that individuals and groups had standing in global warming damage suits.  Groups of lawyers are at work, and some say that they are in a situation similar to that of early litigation against tobacco companies.   http://www.thenation.com/article/179459/want-stop-climate-change-take-fossil-fuel-industry-court#


7.  Jackfruit, smelly but nutritious, is the largest treeborne fruit.  It could replace wheat and corn crops endangered by climate disruption.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/23/jackfruit-miracle-crop-climate-change-food-security


8.  “Declining coral reef health is threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of people living in the coastal tropics, according to a study by University of Queensland researchers.”  http://phys.org/news/2014-04-dying-coral-reefs-threaten-livelihood.html 



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



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