Climate & Energy

Energy could be harvested from mixing of fresh and salt water

Through an osmotic process we don’t pretend to understand, the mixing of fresh and salt water at the world’s river mouths produces enough energy to feed 20 percent of the world’s electricity demand, say Dutch scientists. Could we start running our gadgetry on salt power? Small projects in Norway and the Netherlands are testing out ways to harvest estuary energy, but membranes needed for the process are expensive and energy-intensive to produce, so salt-to-power technology is unlikely to be viable anytime soon. But pass the margaritas anyway.

Take that, delayers (this means you, Pielke)!

Hadley Center says we’re warming, not cooling

The deniers/delayer-1000s cite recent U.K. Hadley Center data to promote their "climate is cooling" disinformation. Even Roger Pielke, Jr. is peddling this nonsense with his recent inanely titled post, "Update on Falsification of Climate Predictions." Falsification? Give me a break! According to the Hadley Center, the eight warmest years in the global temperature record of 150 are, in order, 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2007. Those are also the eight warmest years in the NASA record in a different order, starting with 2005, then 2007 tied with 1998. Where the heck is the cooling trend? Shame on you, Pielke, for lending your name and website to this delayer-1000 nonsense. It is only fair to ask what the Hadley Center thinks its data shows (much as we've heard NASA explain that its data shows unequivocal warming). Answer: they believe it shows unequivocally that we are in a warming trend, including this decade. They make one of the best analytical points I have seen in the whole discussion of this cooling nonsense:

Rise in U.S. power plant emissions outpaced electricity demand in 2007

Carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants rose 2.9 percent from 2006 to 2007, according to data analysis by the Environmental Integrity Project. That’s the largest annual increase in nine years and outpaced demand for electricity, according to the report. And the impact will last well beyond a year, warns EIP Director Eric Schaeffer: “Because CO2 has an atmospheric lifetime of between 50 and 200 years, today’s emissions could cause global warming for up to two centuries to come.” If that’s not depressing enough, try this on for size: Nine scientists, including ubiquitous NASA climate guru James Hansen, have written …

Letting <em>what</em> market figure out the best way?

A cap-and-trade system will not by itself eliminate dirty energy’s unfair advantages

On p. 57 of Fred Krupp’s (generally excellent) new book Earth: The Sequel, it says this: In essence, renewable standards, subsidies, and other mandates assume that the government has all the answers, rather than letting the market figure out the best way to produce clean energy at the lowest cost. I’m never satisfied with how people talk about this stuff. On one side you have this sort hankie-waving fear of besmirching the virtue of the virgin market. On the other side you hear about how Society worships Capitalism even though the Market wants to Kill Us All. What both sides …

Japan will shorten pro baseball games to cut emissions

Japan’s professional baseball league is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by using only renewable energy recycling everything aiming to shorten games by 12 minutes. Under new rules, no more than 2 minutes and 15 seconds may lapse between innings, and pitchers must throw the ball within 15 seconds of receiving it if no runners are on base. Baseball commissioners estimate that by shortening games — which, by crazy coincidence, they’d been thinking of doing anyway — the league will eliminate 230 tons of carbon emissions throughout the 864-game season. And hey, a new study says that Japan can spew 160 …

An interview with Ralph Nader about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

He brought you the seat belt. He launched a consumer advocacy empire. He got over 2 million votes in the 2000. We interview with Ralph Nader about his presidential platform.

Going, going ...

Record global glacial melt

"Record Glacier Thinning Means No Time to Waste on Agreeing New International Climate Regime," said the U.N. Environment Programme on Sunday. That statement is based on the data of the World Glacier Monitoring Service, which "has been tracking the fate of glaciers for over a century. Continuous data series of annual mass balance, expressed as thickness change, are available for 30 reference glaciers since 1980." Here's the mean annual specific net balance:

Smart grid to rock Boulder

City selected for largest U.S. smart grid project

When Xcel Energy announced a few days ago that it had selected Boulder, Colo. as "the nation's first fully integrated Smart Grid City," it represented a vitally important step toward creating a low-carbon energy network. Photo: Aidan M. Grey Xcel previously announced its intention to stage the largest and most comprehensive deployment of smart grid technologies in the U.S. ever, and now it says it has targeted Boulder for a several-year effort that will cost up to $100 million. The aim at a comprehensive system is precisely what makes this a breakthrough. Smart grid technologies exhibit the classic network effect. Deployed individually, some can still have valuable benefits, as the personal computer did before the internet. To maximize benefits, however, they must be put together. Because this requires an overall systems transformation, and because such changes generally pose all sorts of chicken-and-egg challenges, the smart grid has been slow to catch on in the U.S. (France and Italy, who have more centrally managed electrical systems, have managed to advance farther.)

Electric cars could impact water supplies, says analysis

Converting most U.S. vehicles to run on electricity could have an impact on water supplies, according to an analysis to be published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Generating the needed electricity would require more water than producing gasoline, the report found — that is, if the nation’s electricity grid continues to be powered by coal and other fuels that require a lot of H2O for processing and cooling. “If we use only wind or solar energy, water use would be essentially zero,” says coauthor Carey King. The report emphasized that we definitely shouldn’t abandon a quest for largely …

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