Electric vehicles – It's not just about the car - "One of the key characteristics of complex systems, such as the world's energy and transport sectors, is that when they change it tends not to be a linear process. They flip from one state to another in a way strongly analogous to a phase change in material science... A second important characteristic of this type of economic phase change is that when one major sector flips, the results rip through the whole economy and can have impacts on the societal scale." (via) [more inside]
Alaska is Having Its Hottest Year Since Records Began - "After a spring that was a full ten degrees hotter than normal, the northern state is on track for the most sweltering year on record." (via) [more inside]
The case for optimism on climate change - "I'll finish with this story. When I was 13 years old, I heard that proposal by President Kennedy to land a person on the Moon and bring him back safely in 10 years. And I heard adults of that day and time say, 'That's reckless, expensive, may well fail.' But eight years and two months later, in the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, there was great cheer that went up in NASA's mission control in Houston. Here's a little-known fact about that: the average age of the systems engineers, the controllers in the room that day, was 26, which means, among other things, their age, when they heard that challenge, was 18." (via; previously) [more inside]
Tesla Powerwall Battery Economics: Almost There - "Elon Musk announced Tesla's home / business battery today. [video] tl;dr: It'll get enthusiastic early adopters to buy. The economics are almost there to make it cost effective for a wide market... That said, for large scale grid deployment (outside of the home), it still looks like flow batteries and advanced compressed air are likely to be far cheaper in the long run." [more inside]
The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States (PDF); prospectus (PDF); press coverage (YT) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
How can we get CO2 out of the atmosphere? Get it out of the sea first. Making jet fuel from seawater is a pretty cool -- albeit energy intensive -- trick. But applying the same science to scrub CO2 out of seawater, where it is more densely concentrated than in the atmosphere -- and, by doing so, to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2 back to acceptable levels -- that's a game saver.
"what would it take to draw atmospheric carbon down to 350 ppm with just this technology? . . . we would require the power of about 700 AP-1000 nuclear reactors. At the Chinese cost of $1.3b apiece and an 80 year lifetime this would cost a bit over $1 trillion dollars. That sounds like a lot of money. But its only about the cost of America’s 2003 Iraq War spread over the century, so I guess it’s a question of priorities."
I love a sun-powered country, A land of deepening mines, of ragged nuclear plants, of biomass and hydropower
While developed countries are pondering whether they should sign up to The Kyoto 2 Protocol and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2020, based on 2000 levels which may be of questionable impact, the tiny Pacific territory of Tokelau has ditched its primary source of electricity generation, costly diesel imports, in favour of 100% renewable solar power, becoming the first nation in the world to do so, at a time when the global energy systems of the 21C are struggling towards decarbonisation. [more inside]
Nuclear engineers are never taught about the other kind of nuclear reaction. But a working prototype was built over 40 years ago. "The thick hardbound volume was sitting on a shelf in a colleague’s office when Kirk Sorensen spotted it. A rookie NASA engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Sorensen was researching nuclear-powered propulsion, and the book’s title — Fluid Fuel Reactors — jumped out at him. He picked it up and thumbed through it. Hours later, he was still reading, enchanted by the ideas but struggling with the arcane writing. “I took it home that night, but I didn’t understand all the nuclear terminology,” Sorensen says. He pored over it in the coming months, ultimately deciding that he held in his hands the key to the world’s energy future." [more inside]
Durango Bill's Home Page. With topics that include: 3D end-to-end tour of the Grand Canyon, the origin and formation of the Colorado River, and examples of river systems that cut through mountain ranges instead of taking easier routes around them in Ancestral Rivers of the World. [more inside]
In Lester R. Brown's new book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2008, full-text)) - an update to Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (2006, full-text) - he calls for a war-time mobilization (ch.13) to save global civilization (already showing Early Signs of Decline (ch.6)) from Deteriorating Oil and Food Security (ch.2), Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas (ch.3), Emerging Water Shortages (ch.4), and Natural Systems Under Stress (ch.5)
Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green. Last month, Wired published what it called "10 green heresies" which makes the case for urban living, intensive forest management and, er, air conditioning, among other things.
A Solar Grand Plan: By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions. [Via Gristmill.] [more inside]
Biofuels worsen global warming, according to two studies published in Science last week. Current US biofuel policies would double carbon emissions over the gasoline alternative. More details: ScienceExpress fulltext pdf of study #1, powerpoint summary of study #1, abstract of study #2, summary of both, policy recommendations pdf (via: 1, 2). [more inside]
Want to increase your energy efficiency and use more renewable energy? Want to install solar panels on your roof, buy a hybrid car, put in new storm windows, or make any number of other green improvements to your home or business? Want to save money doing it? DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Just click on your state and take it from there.
Will algae defeat global warming? "Fed a generous helping of CO2-laden emissions, courtesy of the power plant's exhaust stack, the algae grow quickly... The cleansed exhaust bubbles skyward, but with 40 percent less CO2... The algae is harvested daily and a combustible vegetable oil is squeezed out: biodiesel".
Katrinanomore&global warming Welcome to the first web site in America dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the connection between hurricane Katrina and global warming. See below an essay just written by author Mike Tidwell that explains how climate change will soon turn every coastal city in America into another New Orleans unless we make a rapid switch to clean, renewable energy worldwide.
Eprida: using biomass to produce hydrogen, reduce the emissions of coal-fired power plants, and suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, all while improving agricultural productivity. A new virtuous cycle (flash)?
As the Alberta government ratchets up its campaign against the Kyoto Protocol (and the Canadian government's support thereof), two environmental groups release a report that argues that Canadians could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent and save $30 billion a year in the process by 2030 (PDFs of the report summary and full report). And, if reducing emissions starts at home, you can apparently cut your own energy bills and emissions in half simply by stopping leaks and drafts in your house.
Alberta will face a disastrous competitive and economic disadvantage if Canada signs the Kyoto accord. Meanwhile, this year has been one of the worst for smog in Toronto. Some municipalities in Ontario are voluntarily looking towards alternate energy sources because they feel, in the long run the costs will be lower (lower health costs, avoiding higher fossil fuel costs, etc. - sorry, no link) What do you think? Is it possible to have economically viable alternative energy, and is the US setting a bad example for countries that feel they need to compete?