California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is finding the fracking issue to be increasingly irritating. Or more to the point, he's finding anti-fracking activists to be increasingly irritating.
Brown is a long-time environmental champion with a strong record of advancing clean energy and climate action, but he doesn't mind the fracking that's going on in his state. In fact, he kinda likes it.
A company called Shimizu wants to power Earth by building a band of solar panels around the moon's equator that beam the harvested energy back in microwaves. This plan would require moon mining and robots, but Todd Woody writes for Quartz that it isn't totally unrealistic:
If that sounds like a sci-fi fantasy -- and fantastically expensive -- it’s not completely crazy. California regulators, for instance, in 2009 approved a contract that utility Pacific Gas & Electric signed to buy 200 megawatts of electricity from an orbiting solar power plant to be built by a Los Angeles area startup called Solaren. The space-based photovoltaic farm would consist of a kilometer-wide inflatable Mylar mirror that would concentrate the sun’s rays on a smaller mirror, which would in turn focus the sunlight on to high-efficiency solar panels. These would generate electricity, which would be converted into radio frequency waves, transmitted to a giant ground station near Fresno, California, and then converted back into electricity.
But here are three points that make the whole idea less realistic:
Sea snot: not just blowing your nose into the ocean. It’s a mixture of gooey sea animal corpses and their poo, which deep-sea creatures eat to survive. (NatGeo used the term first, mom! For once it snot just us being juvenile!)
Basically, algae and phytoplankton hang out on the ocean’s surface, photosynthesizing with the sun’s help and creating oxygen. Then sea salps and other oddly named marine creatures munch on the phytoplankton. Then everything poops and dies and falls to the ocean’s floor, pretty much.
Monterey Bay Aquarium researcher Christine Huffard and her team found that after seasonal phytoplankton blooms, there’s more deep-sea activity, which means bottom-dwellers are TOTALLY chowing down on sea snot. (Heh. We already knew deep-sea creatures LOOKED weird. Now we can tease ’em at recess for eating boogers too.)
There’s nothing like a thick book of gorgeous nature photography to show the Avon lady you’re a savvy art connoisseur. But if you’d rather passive-aggressively shoo her and those door-to-door evangelists away as quickly as possible, just show ‘em Your Beautiful, Fragile World: The Nature and Environmental Photographs of Peter Essick. (We would’ve named it A Huge Bummer: Look At the Shit We’ve Done to the Planet, but apparently that’s less marketable.)
Q.How do I measure wood smoke from firewood? We want to do a comparison of different firewoods and find the one that has the least smoke emissions, provides the most heat, and burns the longest. We would like to really measure the smoke. Any ideas?
Scotts Valley, Calif.
A. Dearest Patricia,
If you listen carefully this time of year, you can almost hear it: the crackling of thousands of wood stoves firing up for a season of home heating. Unfortunately, the cozy glowing of all those stoves has a serious downside: a smoky, sooty smudge on local air quality.
Wood smoke emits all kinds of nasties [PDF], including benzene and formaldehyde, but the primary culprit is particulate matter (PM2.5), a mix of tiny particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs when inhaled and wreak all kinds of havoc. The stuff is linked to respiratory illness, chronic lung problems, cancer, and premature death -- so your desire to find the cleanest-burning logs possible is a vote for both air quality and personal health for you and your neighbors.
I admire the citizen-scientist pluck behind your wish to analyze and compare different types of wood smoke yourself, Patricia. Unfortunately, this is currently pretty tough to do unless you A) are an atmospheric scientist with access to sophisticated sampling tools, or B) have an extra $10,000 to $50,000 lying around to spend on said tools. I checked with Matthew Harper, air monitoring lead for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. He said you could use a handheld particle counter, the cheapest of which will run you a mere $300 to $500, but these devices probably aren’t accurate enough to distinguish the nuances between, say, hickory versus oak smoke.
But don’t hang up your lab coat just yet: There are still a few worthwhile experiments to be done.
This 1,900-mile pipeline will carry gas condensate or ultra-light oil from an Illinois terminal northwest to Alberta, where it will be used to thin tar-sands oil so it can travel through pipelines. Without this kind of diluent, tar-sands oil is too thick and sludgy to transport. "Increased demand for diluent among Alberta's tar sands producers has created a growing market for U.S. producers of natural gas liquids, particularly for fracked gas producers," reports DeSmogBlog.
Houston-based Kinder Morgan is the company behind the $260 million Cochin Reversal Project, which will reverse and expand an existing pipeline. The pipeline will be fed by fracking operations in the Eagle Ford Shale area in Texas.
All across the country — most recently, in the state of Texas — local battles over the teaching of evolution are taking on a new complexion. More and more, it isn't just evolution under attack, it's also the teaching of climate science. The National Center for Science Education, the leading group defending the teaching of evolution across the country, has even broadened its portfolio: Now, it protects climate education too.
How did these issues get wrapped up together? On its face, there isn't a clear reason — other than a marriage of convenience — why attacks on evolution and attacks on climate change ought to travel side by side. After all, we know why people deny evolution: Religion, especially the fundamentalist kind. And we know why people deny global warming: Free market ideology and libertarianism. These are not, last I checked, the same thing. (If anything, libertarians may be the most religiously skeptical group on the political right.)
And yet clearly there's a relationship between the two issue stances. If you're in doubt, watch this Climate Desk video of a number of members of Congress citing religion in the context of questioning global warming:
Legislation that would impose a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is making its way through the Massachusetts state legislature. On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture passed the bill, which would also prohibit the dumping of fracking wastewater in the state.
"Although the state isn't seen as a rich source of shale gas, there could be limited deposits in western Massachusetts," the Associated Press reports. As EcoWatch explains, "Local concern about fracking has grown since the U.S. Geological Survey identified shale gas deposits in the Pioneer Valley last December. Moreover, as New York mulls large-scale fracking next door, drilling operators could soon view Western Massachusetts as a convenient dumping ground for toxic fracking wastewater."
If the full state legislature passes the bill and Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signs it, Massachusetts would become the second state in the nation to ban fracking. Vermont banned it last year, despite having negligible fracking potential.
How did things go so wrong for a conservative Republican in the coal-rich state of Virginia? Earlier this month, voters in that closely watched battleground state rejected Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme, right-wing bid for governor and dealt a serious blow to the deep-pocketed oil companies that backed his candidacy.
Of course, now is when the number-crunchers confer behind closed doors, in hushed tones, about what it all really means -- for the midterms in 2014 and the primaries in 2016, for soccer moms and NASCAR dads, for women’s bodies and marriage equality, and for climate change.
I am here to tell you: A new political dynamic is emerging. Climate change is a winner, not a loser.
Residents of a rural northern Texas area were awoken early on Thanksgiving by not one but two earthquakes. Such quakes have become alarmingly normal during the past month, and fracking practices could be to blame.
North Texas has been feeling a string of earthquakes — more than a dozen — over the past few weeks. Most have been centered around Azle, with the most recent [previous] one being on Tuesday morning. All of those quakes have registered between 2.0 and 3.6 in magnitude. Those who live in the small town have grown concerned.
Azle leaders have called on state officials to have geologists investigate the cause of these quakes. “The citizens are concerned,” said Azle Assistant City Manager Lawrence Bryant at a city council meeting. “They should be.”
“If it’s a man-made cause, it would be nice to know,” Bryant added.