April 23, 2013
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We've got to hang in there and fight. The Trump Administration can't last forever.
We saw this coming, but still it's tough to hear
Some encouraging words about renewable energy and the decline of coal
"There's really not much he (Trump) can do against very, very strong market forces. Natural gas is incredibly inexpensive and the cost of renewables has been dropping incredibly rapidly. Which basically means that when a utility is thinking about what power to build, if you're building a new power plant, you're not going to be looking to coal. It just doesn't make sense, the pure economics. One thing to know is that most coal power plants are actually quite old. And when you're looking to retire a plant, are you going to retrofit it and replace it or are you going to put in something more economic? Generally, you put in the more economic thing and more economic choice. So it's pretty hard to imagine a case where the trends that we're already seeing away from coal are going to stop."
Interview with Kenneth Gillingham, Assistant Professor of Economics at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research focuses on energy, economics and policy.
My thoughts: Regardless of these truths, the Trump administration can still pull some dirty anti-renewable stunts to keep renewables down. They are obviously ruthless and devoid of knowledge or ethics with regard to climate change or what's best for the country in terms of clean energy. They are fixated on making money for themselves and their cronies off dirty 19th century technology and holding back any clean energy progress. We've got to stay diligent and at the ready to protest, write Congress and the Senate, letters to the editor, or any other means to keep the renewables momentum going that started during the Obama administration.
Liz Perera, climate policy director for the Sierra Club, said Trump's move to freeze all EPA communications and contracts should be "a major red flag for all Americans."
Good News: California is ahead of schedule for meeting the RPS requirements: the Energy Commission estimates that nearly 25 percent of electricity retail sales in 2014 were served by renewable energy generated from sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and small hydroelectric.
We are not immune - our beloved Bal Boa is right at sea level:
“I’m a Republican, but I also realize, by any objective analysis, the sea level is rising,” said Jason Buelterman, the mayor of tiny Tybee Island, one of the first Georgia communities to adopt a detailed climate plan.
But the local leaders say they cannot tackle this problem alone. They are pleading with state and federal governments for guidance and help, including billions to pay for flood walls, pumps and road improvements that would buy them time.
Yet Congress has largely ignored these pleas, and has even tried to block plans by the military to head off future problems at the numerous bases imperiled by a rising sea. A Republican congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck, recently called one military proposal part of a “radical climate change agenda.”
Goal: accelerate solar technology to reach the 'S-Curve' - the point at which a technology goes from being a fringe side-market to the mainstream standard. Challenges:
• The existing energy grid to accommodate solar energy technology
• Battery technology needs to be enhanced and new storage technology developed
• Solar capturing technology needs to continue to be made more efficient and less expensive
• Existing labor forces in the fossil fuel industries (eg coal, oil and gas, fracking, etc) need to be reequipped through education and training to work in the renewable energy industries.
Daylight needs to be shed on the insidious tactics of the Koch Brothers. They are ‘co-opting’ such media as PBS (Nova-PBS's premier science program that normally would be focusing on the threat of Global Warming/Climate Change) and NPR (Marketplace) to twist their mission and misrepresent reality and fact based journalism to favor the fossil fuel industry.
Latest rooftop solar panel update
For Solar Energy enthusiasts like myself :)
Specious arguments from opponents to taking action to fight Climate Change / Disruption
It often seems to me that when people make the argument that "yes there is a causal relationship between mankind pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and Climate Change, but we shouldn't 'rush' into anything extreme because there is a cost to fighting Climate Change", sound like people standing inside of their own (and our) burning house and saying, "Yes the house is on fire, but let's not do anything rash. These fire trucks are VERY expensive. Let's use the garden hose".
The Great Barrior Reef is half-dead or dying. There is no longer a forest fire season-- it's hotter, more ferocious and all year long. Species are going extinct at a rate unprecedented in recorded history. I think, as Bill Maher points out, that "Alarmism is called for. Extremism in the defense of the planet is no vice".
Other great local Climate Change fighting groups
An alliance of Orange County organizations to address the problem of climate change and how it affects individuals, organizations and our community here in Orange County, California.
Mission: To raise awareness, educate, increase collaboration, empower and motivate ourselves and others in Orange County to take actionable steps to reduce climate change and become better stewards of our environment.
Vision: The GuSRC unleashes youth leadership for community resilience to a changing climate and cultivates a campus culture of sustainability. This pursuit informs our students’ academics, career choices, and ways of life. As the University of California steps up as a global force for climate resilience, GSRC enables UC Irvine students to shape this legacy.
Mission: The GSRC is a hub for students, providing resources, education, and programming to forward environmental balance, economic vitality, and social equity. Students, as well as campus and community partners, are invited to share a platform from which to address the root causes of ecological disruption, deepen understandings of the interdependence of all life, and engage the challenges and solutions of sustainability in a campus, community, and global context.
The Orange County Renewable Energy Group is a collection of like minded people who have interest in all renewable fields. Either currently in the industry or looking to find a place where their work has a positive impact on the environment.
California's Drought and Climate Change
The most severe drought observations in the last 120 years have occurred during the current drought.
The main issue is not whether we're seeing more droughts, it's whether we're seeing more intense droughts.
The lowest calendar year and 12-month precipitation on record have occurred during this drought. The lowest spring snow-pack has occurred during this drought. Last year, for example, snow-pack measurements came in at five percent of normal. Not five percent below normal--- five percent OF normal. The Sierra's really need that snow to act as a storage reservoir for water to be released in the summer the dry season.
Tough talk from Climate Scientists
Recently there has been a noticeable uptick in videos and articles emphatically stating that we’ve already reached a global emergency threshold, and that the climate models of a few years ago should be thrown out and superseded with current models that more accurately predict a much accelerated (“abrupt”) rate of climate change. These reports are flatly stating that we need to get off carbon immediately. Not by 20 or 30 years, but now. They contend that there is no need to continue building carbon based fuel infrastructure, such as pipelines, new coal plants or deep sea oil drilling rigs, and that we need to directly move to renewable sources for energy needs and sustainable sources for petroleum based products such as plastic. Their point: “It’s just a given—we have to do it— we have no choice if we want to survive on this planet.”
The Reason behind the New Surge in Urgency
“It is the summer sea ice loss passing the point of no return, leading to unstoppable catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks sooner or later… puts us in a state of planetary emergency today.”
John Nissen, AMEG Chairman
AMEG calls for rapid refreezing of the Arctic to halt runaway melting
“We need to cool the arctic. We have methods to do this. This will buy us some time by keeping the methane from coming up.”
Building the Political Will to Address Abrupt Climate Change
The reality is, the country has nowhere near the critical mass of public awareness needed to take broad concrete action to effect such broad, sweeping changes. We are creeping toward that political will, but per the authors of the stark reports noted above we need to be in full gallop away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.
With regard to action on Climate Change, the most significant change can be made through our political leaders to set a course away from carbon based fuels quickly. There are an increasing number of outlets from which to do this, but one recommended by climatologist Paul Beckwith which I find compelling is Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Per Paul Beckwith, “We’re in that elusive tipping point in human behavior where people wake up and say, ‘Aha, I have to worry about climate change’.”
The effect of methane hydrate (27 times as powerful as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas) release in the arctic would be equally catastrophic to an asteroid hitting the Earth, because its impact on Global Warming would be immediate and large. One of the methods to mitigate the risk of methane release might be to drill beneath the methane deposits and capture the methane by tapping it off—in other words by using ‘fracking’ techniques (of all things). We need to prioritize addressing this methane release risk—currently the International Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) (as one example) is scarcely mentioning it in its reports.
Chemistry note: one methane molecule, at 27 times the strength of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, can be reduced to one carbon dioxide molecule if it is “oxidized”.
The Enemy – Cowardice and Inertia
World leaders, politicians, statesmen are too cowardly now to take concrete action now because to do so will cause large disruption of our present way of life. There is a conspiracy of complacency in which if we do a few things to adjust our carbon dioxide emission, all will be well. But it won’t, because we already have too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We not only have to stop emitting it, we have to find ways to take it out of the atmosphere. We should be working towards getting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at the level of the ‘Manhattan Project’ from the point of view of our own survival—it should be the biggest research program in the world. It’s what the present generation should be concentrating all its attention on.
The Pope’s Power Base
Encyclical – the Pope is very closely following developments of Climate Change
Of the fourteen record years globally, since record keeping began, no less than twelve have occurred since the year 2000.
The Oil and Gas Industry versus Alternative Energy
I've often wondered if, or when, the big oil and gas companies would start hedging their bets on their outdated and "fossilized" approach to energy production, and get on board, at least in part, with the burgeoning renewable energy industry. After all, one of the most strident credos in the business world has always been "diversify". The article "Exxon shareholders to vote on climate change, fracking" shows that the corporate atmosphere in the largest of these companies is still very cold towards any progressive thinking in this area, but the fact that at least these conversations are being held in their board rooms at all would indicate a (very slight) shift in the fossil fuel industry paradigm.
Headlines about Texas mega-droughts followed by Texas mega-floods aside, I'm hoping the current glut of oil and gas on the market combined with the exponentially increasing profits being made in the renewable wind and solar industries will steer these huge players in the corporate world down an alternate path. The main driver will always be profits, not environmentalism, for these companies. --But the writing is on the wall. With that in mind, having climate experts on the board of directors could help them convince their shareholders that a course correction needs to be made. As more and more headlines about climate disruptions splash across the media, these arguments are going to be increasingly difficult for the fossil fuel industry to reject.
The Presidential candidates' views on Climate Change
Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights: "There is something each of us can all do to impact Climate Change, but it's really important to remember that it's better change your leader than your light bulb - we just have to hold our political leaders accountable."
Thank you Diane Etchison for sending - must read!
Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
MINNEAPOLIS – Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.
The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them. “These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.” More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”
While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.
While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,”, he said.
Almost 200 countries have agreed to negotiate a United Nations pact by the end of 2015 to combat global climate change, which most scientists expect will bring about more flooding, droughts, heat waves and higher seas. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cited a probability of at least 95 percent that accelerated warming of the planet has been triggered by human activities, led by atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.
Jere Lipps' comment on the above article:
At the rate of accumulation of CO-2, we will reach that value of 450 ppm in less than 30 years. Seems unlikely that we will hold it to 450 ppm or 2 degrees C by 2100 at the present rate. Those projections do not account for rising rates of accumulation nor of the contribution of released methane from marshes, permafrost and the sea floor as they warm, to say nothing of flaring of oil wells. Methane is a much more effective warmer than CO-2. Even if we stopped emitting CO-2 today, we will still struggle to prevent warming more than 2C (3.8F), and may well reach 10-14F in higher latitudes (like Calif northward) based on methane alone. Remember those TV ads promoting burning of natural gas (=methane) to decrease CO-2 emissions over coal or oil (by half only); we’d still be at 450 in about 50-60 years.
Alternative Energy Updates
Exciting news from Home Batteries -
"We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky-- and it's totally free!"
My plan: I already have a 3.5 kilowatt solar array system (solar panels) on my house. Within the next two years I plan to buy or lease a small electric car I can use locally to go to work (12 mile round trip), which I will, of course, fuel from the solar panels. Also within the next three years I will have the Tesla battery system installed to further allow me to disconnect from the fossil fuel industry and lower my carbon footprint, not to mention lower my cash outlay for electricity and gas.
In Southern California there is so much opportunity for many to move away from fossil fuels, especially considering the cloudless skies we will presumably be experiencing from future extended droughts like the one we are in now. I strongly encourage all who can to invest in such technologies and be supporting of the alternative energy industries, especially wind and solar. If we have any chance at all to avoid catastrophic consequences of Climate Change, those industries will be a large part of the reason.
New Technology in Wind Energy
Has Climate Change Impacted the West Coast Drought?
Thank you Jere Lipps for the great presentation - very sobering, but hopefully motivating
OC Population impacted by sea level rises
Solar Storage - the next step in getting free of fossil fuels
Part of our future? Yes if we have the political will:
Climate Change Deniers
Important article in "The Week" magazine.
Interesting TED talk video.
One idea to address Climate Change from, believe it or not, the US Congress.
We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting
Solar panel breakthroughs:
Other related links:
While climate changes are occurring more quickly than scientists have ever predicted, most people’s knowledge of these realities remains hazy and clouded by political overtones.
A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which combines the work of 2,000 scientists from 154 countries, drawing from millions of observations from more than 9,000 scientific publications, confirms and strengthens previous predictions and adds one new and very important observation. Even 100 percent emissions reductions will no longer keep our climate from changing dangerously.
More from the International Panel on Climate Change ("IPCC"):
Greenland ice discharge has increased 632% in the last decade.
Northern Hemisphere snow cover has decreased by more than 50% since 1962.
Earth is warmer today than in the Medieval Warm Period.
Permafrost has warmed by 3.6 degrees and 5.2 degrees (F) in Russia and the North American Arctic since the early 1980s. This might not sound like much but once it hits 33 degrees, it’s gone.
Sea level rise rate has nearly doubled since 1993.
Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (the three most important global warming gases) since 1750, have increased to levels higher than they have been in 800,000 years.
Methane has caused more than half of global warming (52%).
Aerosols (sulfur dioxides) have masked half of global warming (57%). Sulfur dioxides are global cooling pollutants.
Volcanoes have masked 5 percent of global warming, not caused it as another myth would have us believe. Volcanoes release both global warming and global cooling gases and particles. We now know that when the math is done—and it has never been as accurate as it is today—volcanoes cool, not warm.
The solar sunspot cycle has cooled earth by 2% between 1978 and 2011, not warmed it as yet another myth says.
There have been twice as many high temperature records vs. cold records since the late 1970s.
Good News: The Solutions are Within our Grasp
The economic evaluations of the solutions to climate change show that 1 percent of global gross domestic product ($540 billion in 2012) is what we need to spend to control climate pollution every year - using existing technologies, techniques and policy.
This $540 billion may sound like a lot, but it's no more than we spend on either the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act in the US every year.
Recent exciting news:
Important information about the future of residential solar panels in California
Report about how utilities are moving nationwide to slow the growth of rooftop solar, especially where higher billing credits are given ratepayers for power generated by rooftop solar panels in California.
SOCAL Connected 2013
We need to slow incremental damage while taking out an insurance policy against the growing risk of catastrophic damage.