Climate & Energy

Taking Germany 100 percent renewable

German scientists develop Combined Power Plant

Via the The Sietch blog, some very, very cool stuff out of the University of Kassel in Germany — the Combined Power Plant: The secure and constant provision of power anywhere and at anytime by …

Hansen v. coal

PRE-PUBLISHING UPDATE: After I wrote this but before I posted it, I got an email from Grist reader CD notifying me of the sad news that Mass.’s gov approved the coal gasification plant. Decisions like …

Kiwis say jets are 10 percent of NZ's climate impact, not 2-3 percent

Tourism and carbon neutrality

This story is critical -- another datum showing that the global jet travel binge is both global suicide and homicide all at once, complete with pre-flight thuggery from the TSA* and a side dish of helping-promote-coal-to-liquids on the side (there was another story today about the U.S. (Ch)Air Force's new plan for dealing with peak oil: burn liquified coal / natural gas mixtures).

Get real, deniers!

Climate skeptics claim no warming since 1998

Honestly, if anyone tells you "For nearly a decade now, there has been no global warming" -- as this Boston Globe columnist has -- they simply are not interested in seriously trying to understand and deal with the gravest problem facing humanity. They deserve the label "global warming denier" for willfully trying to confuse the public debate. Let's look at the data, from NASA, presented last month (PDF): Through the first 11 months, 2007 is the second warmest year in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. The unusual warmth in 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean has entered the cool phase of its natural El Niño -- La Niña cycle. Yes, in some global datasets -- not NASA's, however -- 1998 is still the peak year because that year we had global warming plus the warm phase of the natural El Niño-La Niña cycle. But guess what, deniers? Climate change is about a change in the "climate." A single year doesn't make the climate, that's why people use a running average -- in order to show the trend. Duh! NASA points out:

The 'Inhofe 400' Skeptic of the Day

Today: Christopher Castro

In previous editions of the "Inhofe 400," we found one skeptic whose only qualification for being a "climate expert" was to have written an op-ed and another who argues that climate change must not be happening because God would never allow it. We also found some economists who don't seem to doubt that humans are causing the climate to change. Today's "skeptic," Prof. Christopher L. Castro, is a bonafide atmospheric scientist, so he clearly has relevant expertise on his resume. I emailed Prof. Castro about being on this list, and he replied: Since I'm asked about this often, my "official" position on global warming is given in my series of lectures I present in NATS 101 (accessible via my website link). You are free to quote my position from that if you like. I went on his website and found these quotes from this lecture (MS PowerPoint file, slides 3 and 4):

Canada should consider adopting carbon tax, says panel

Canada should strongly consider adopting a carbon tax along with an emissions cap-and-trade system, a panel of experts advised the government today. The panel had been asked for advice on how Canada could meet its …

Gnashing my teeth over globalization

Can economic democracy make the global economy more sustainable?

Worried about more coal plants, carbon emissions from transportation, and a crumbling infrastructure? Evidence provided by several recent reports point to one of the least explored causes of these problems: globalization, that is, the transfer of manufacturing capacity from developed to developing countries, particularly China. The mechanisms differ. The U.S. and Europe, which could manufacture using environmentally benign techniques, instead use old, polluting technologies that wreck China's environment and increase global carbon emissions. The 70,000 cargo ships that ply the seas moving all of the globalized goods emit more than twice as much carbon as all airline traffic. And because major corporations no longer feel tied to their local communities, they also no longer lobby governments for a world-class infrastructure. Now, I recently proposed that it would be a good thing to manufacture locally (and Ryan Avent took me to task for saying so). But what I want to propose is not protectionism, but the idea that if local companies were employee-owned and -operated, the problems I describe in this post would go away -- as utopian as that may first sound. But first to the NYT article, "China Grabs West's Smoke-Spewing Factories":

Technology begets technology

Battery technology continues to improve

This is my hybrid bike charging at a 7-11 while I ate some lunch. I was hauling a heavy load and had been tormenting another cyclist who had been trying to close a 10-foot gap with me for a couple of miles on Sand Point Way. I took my batteries to their limit of 4.6 amp-hours, so I had to pull out of the dogfight to refuel with 14 miles on the odometer. Yet-Ming Chiang (formerly a researcher at MIT) combined lithium ion technology with nanocarbon particles to invent the batteries that power my bike, saw, and drill. These batteries solved just enough technical problems to make the hybrid electric bicycle fully feasible, and will probably do so for the first plug-in hybrid cars. Yi Cui (a researcher at Stanford) heads a team that has come up with an improvement on the A123 battery by combining lithium ion technology with silicon nanowires. "It's not a small improvement," Cui said. "It's a revolutionary development [producing 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion batteries]."

Forest Wisdom

The Forest Guild on climate change

Here's a window into how foresters are looking at climate change: the Forest Guild is a national, nonprofit network of practicing foresters whose advice and efforts on behalf of their landowner clients has a big role to play in the health and future of privately owned forests. The Guild "promotes ecologically, economically, and socially responsible forestry as a means of sustaining the integrity of forest ecosystems" (and the welfare of those dependent on them). So it's not a big surprise that the new edition of their publication, Forest Wisdom (large PDF), goes to some depth in exploring the challenges presented by climate change. It includes articles like "Recent Trends in US Private Forest Carbon" (of nine forest regions identified by the Forest Service, four are most important in terms of potential carbon gains and losses -- the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest/Lake states, and Pacific Northwest -- due to their high ratio of private ownership, high productivity, and intensity of management), and also a piece on carbon markets. What caught my eye was the cover story by editor Fred Clark, "Forest Stewardship in a Changing World," the main issues of which he describes like this: Forest practitioners will be on the frontlines in the effort to protect our forests and our environment from the effects triggered by changing climate. Guild members already possess many of the tools and skills that will be most needed ... [and] are well-suited for meeting both the new realities and expectations that society is rapidly placing on forests. The "What's New" section of their site links to this edition of the publication, and lots of other interesting papers all delightfully full of forester-speak, but I wanted to (heavily) paraphrase here some of Fred's main points contained in the cover story:

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.