Posts Tagged ‘environment’


Global warming ‘irreversible’ for next 1000 years.

As reported by AFP, NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) scientists have released a study saying that current levels of global warming will cause irreversible damage, no matter what is done in the future to decrease CO2 and other related emissions.  I will add a link to the primary scientific article when the link is published.

“NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon said the study, published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, showed that current human choices on carbon dioxide emissions are set to “irreversibly change the planet.” Researchers examined the consequences of CO2 building up beyond present-day concentrations of 385 parts per million, and then completely stopping emissions after the peak. Before the industrial age CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere amounted to only 280 parts per million. The study found that CO2 levels are irreversibly impacting climate change, which will contribute to global sea level rise and rainfall changes in certain regions. The authors emphasized that increases in CO2 that occur from 2000 to 2100 are set to “lock in” a sea level rise over the next 1,000 years.”

This is certainly well past a wake-up call, if anybody still needed one. Here’s where the relentless optimist meets the original cynic: I refuse to accept that it is worthless to make the biggest changes possible to head off increased global warming. Am I denying science? No, I’m just clinging to hope.

Original text copyright © 2009 James K. Bashkin

See futher discussion of this post here at Gather.com.


The website 1sky.org reports that

Congress is now deciding which federal programs will be funded in 2009. Among those programs are the Green Jobs Act, which would invest $125 million in green-collar job training programs, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which would authorize grants to local communities to help improve their energy efficiency and increase renewable energy. Now we must make sure that Members of Congress keep their promise and fully fund these programs.

If you wish to write to Congress to voice your support for Green Jobs and Grants, this link will help.

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As reported by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson favored giving California some authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks … before he consulted with the White House and reversed course, congressional investigators said yesterday.

As the article describes:

An extensive congressional investigation into Johnson’s conduct relied on more than 27,000 pages of EPA documents; interviews with top EPA officials served as other sources of information. The results of the investigation were just announced.

According to the agency’s documents and depositions by staff members, EPA officials unanimously endorsed granting California the waiver, and Johnson initially agreed. EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett testified under oath that Johnson “was very interested in a full grant of the waiver’ in August and September of 2007 and later thought a partial grant of the waiver ‘was the best course of action.”

The White House claims it did not influence Johnson’s decision but has ordered Johnson not to answer questions about White House involvement in the process. Seemingly at odds with his refusal to allow California a waiver of the Clean Air Act that would have imposed more stringent emissions standards on cars and trucks, Johnson did admit to reporters that he considers CO2 to be a pollutant.

Groups including the California Air Resources Board and the Natural Defense Resources Council (NRDC) are poised to show courts how tainted Johnson’s decision was, and how it ignored internal EPA science and external scientific advisers. The NRDC and other advocacy groups will submit a brief to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to overturn the EPA administrator’s decision.

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As reported in the related story here at OhMyGov.com,

A briefing prepared by the lead staff lawyer for EPA’s General Counsel stated: “After review of the docket and precedent, we don’t believe there are any good arguments against granting the waiver. All of the arguments … are likely to lose in court if we are sued.”

In fact, the EPA staff interviewed by the Committee were unable to identify any agency documents that argued in favor of denial prior to December 19, 2007, the day California’s petition was denied.

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By Bruce Nichols SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) – “Satellite data show that changes in the sun are contributing to global warming but to a smaller extent than human activity, a space scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington told a group of petroleum geologists…”

This is the third major study in the past year or so negating the “solar activity” claim of climate-change skeptics- the claim suggests that solar activity rather than human activity is responsible for modern global warming. See discussion of another report that show no major effects of solar activity on modern global warming (at this link).

“Climate-change skeptics have suggested that solar cycles may be more responsible than human activity for increasing global temperature. But (scientist Judith) Lean said her findings showed ‘the sun is a factor of 10 less than the anthropogenic.'” In other words, people (and human activity) are responsible for the vast majority of modern climate change according to this study.

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original text © James K. Bashkin, 2008

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While some may love hearing about sweet rides like the $100K Tesla Roadster, a functional and economical electric car made for the rest of us would be even better. This could be it: the Th!nk City electric car, a four-seater with 110 mile range, top speed of 65 mph, priced under $25,000, and available in the US next year. This sounds like exactly what many people have been asking for. Next year!

The story comes to us from gas 2.0.

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Note added later: I recommend that people read the article by Sam Carana that describes other inexpensive electric car/vehicle manufacturers from around the world and their products, with pictures.

© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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For web-savvy environmentalists, or any interested environmentalists, please consider joining sustainability, a home for all environmentally-related content on Squidoo.com. See also the new site for discussion of solar power on Squidoo.com: solar power.  If you don’t know about Squidoo, I didn’t either until a little while ago.  It is easy to set up a “lens” that focuses on your favorite topic, blog, website, etc.

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“Scientists have produced further compelling evidence showing that modern-day climate change is not caused by changes in the Sun’s activity…” from an article by Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website. “The research contradicts a favoured theory of climate “sceptics”, that changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth determine cloudiness and temperature.”

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This is a good overview of the solar industry by Michelle Bennett of CleanTechnica.com. The article discusses Nanosolar‘s thin solar cell technology, traditional polysilicon photovoltaics, AVASolar’s CdTe thin film technology, problems with ramping up production of new (and old) PV technology, and alternative clean energy techniques, including solar heating. The article doesn’t mention First Solar, who are in production with thin film, non-silicon based photovoltaics that are, I believe, also based on CdTe (I learned about First Solar from Steve B.). However, it is a nice summary of the solar panel, photovoltaic (or PV) industry. Ms. Bennett mentions that Nanosolar has beaten the $1/Watt goal according to the US Department of Energy (DOE), so their solar panels are officially generating electricity cheaper than coal.

The story does omit mention of the terrible environmental problems in China due to polycrystalline silicon production.

In Ms. Bennett’s article, the point is made that with oil falling out of favor, a potential opportunity for coal exists to compete with solar, etc. Luckily, as I’ve blogged about, some investment banks are refusing to fund coal-fired electricity plants. We need to make sure that our government plays its part in keeping coal from expanding (which is a realistic goal after the current administration is swept out). Coal plant emissions have already been ruled illegal in the US.* A great example is being set by Germany, for example, where solar and wind power are being pursued aggressively. Spain is also very active in solar power, and England is pursuing wind power with vigor.

Thanks to cmanders53 for DIGGing this article, which is how I came across it.

*On Friday, a US federal appeals court in Washington ruled that a policy by the Bush administration that exempted coal- and oil-fired power plants from regulations on emissions of mercury and other hazardous substances “was unlawful”. See the link above for more by Sam Carana on illegal coal emissions.

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© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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What is a plug-in hybrid? It is a car that runs on electricity via a battery that you can charge by plugging into a regular electrical outlet. These cars, being hybrids, also have gas tanks that can be used to power the car and recharge the battery, giving you what some might call the best of all world’s (assuming mass transit, bicycling or walking aren’t options). Best of all would be to burn no liquid fuel, but plug-in hybrids allow us to reach, or closely approach, this ideal in many cases.

What is different about plug-in hybrids? The plug! Current commercial hybrid cars use batteries, but they inconveniently keep a barrier between you and the electric company. You have to burn gasoline (petrol) to charge the battery.

How can you buy a plug-in hybrid? You can buy a hybrid car “off the shelf” and have it converted to a plug-in hybrid. This service is available in the US, the UK and elsewhere. Plug-in hybrids may be available directly from Toyota by 2010. For more information on plug-in hybrid cars, the following sites are very valuable: Plug-in Partners, Plug-in America, Hybrids Plus (a manufacturer of plug-in hybrids in the US). See also the DVD “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, read the book “Plug-in Hybrids: the cars that will recharge America”, and read the blog “plugs and cars”. The site “What Green Car?” provides information about plug-in hybrids for consumers in the U.K.

What are the running costs of plug-in hybrids? Estimates suggest that the transportation costs are equivalent to gasoline at $1.00/gallon.

Don’t forget that purely electric cars and trucks and buses are also available in the US, the UK, and elsewhere. For example, in the US, Tesla Motors, Volt and Phoenix Motor cars offer a range from trucks to sports cars. I wrote a recent, short post on very small and inexpensive electric cars being made for India.

I’d like to hear about other plug-in hybrid and electric car options in the US and around the world, and people’s reaction to (a) the low cost of plug-in hybrids coupled with the security of a gas tank if you need it, vs. (b) purely electric cars, which now have long range driving ability as well as high power (in some cases).

Don’t forget that you can couple electric cars or plug-in hybrids with solar and/or wind powered electric systems for your home or work-place to minimize or eliminate the use of liquid hydrocarbon fuels like gasoline/petrol, ethanol, etc. You can even run your home off your car battery!

© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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Earth Hour was reported by much of the press, and Associated Press writer CARYN ROUSSEAU published

Cities switch off lights for Earth Hour

which gave summary of world-wide activity and information from the parent Earth Hour organization. You can read the original story at the above link for details, but here are a few highlights and lowlights from Rousseau’s article:

…. In Ireland, where environmentalists are part of the coalition government, lights-out orders went out for scores of government buildings, bridges and monuments in more than a dozen cities and towns.

But the international banks and brokerages of Dublin‘s financial district blazed away with light, illuminating floor after empty floor of desks and idling computers.

… much of Europe — including France, Germany, Spain and European Union institutions — planned nothing to mark Earth Hour. …

Given Germany’s strong stand on clean power implementation, I think that is one place that already has the message, loud and clear. For example, the German city of Marburg has made solar energy systems mandatory on new buildings, and Germany and Spain have collaborated on huge solar panel-based power plants.

The wrap-up from Earth Hour US can be found here.

I think that the event was great for raising awareness and building a sense of community across international borders and locally.

In addition the the great support found in many quarters, there are a lot of cynical comments to be found on the web about Earth Hour. I’ll say this about cynicism- it is just talk, and never achieves anything.

© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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