May 23, 2013
It’s where deniers live. Cafeteria style reality. Watch the progression as they go from bashing, to sucking up, to Tesla Motors.
DETROIT (Reuters) – Electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. on Wednesday paid off its U.S. Department of Energy loan nine years earlier than required, using money raised last week in a stock and debt offering.
The automaker said on Wednesday that it wired $451.8 million to repay the full loan with interest.
“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the (Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing) program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said in a statement. “I hope we did you proud.”
Republicans have criticized the Obama administration‘s support of new-technology companies, including struggling automaker Fisker Automotive Inc, as well as electric battery maker A123 Systems and solar panel maker Solyndra. Both A123 and Solyndra filed for bankruptcy.
DOE officials heralded the Tesla payoff in a press release.
“When you’re talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed – but today’s repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department’s portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Monizsaid.
Moniz said more than 90 percent of the loan loss reserve Congress established remains intact, while losses represent about 2 percent of the overall $34 billion portfolio.
May 23, 2013
This American Life, one of the most listenable and ingenious hourly shows that public radio has ever offered, has done a piece on climate change, that a lot of people have told me about. Finally got the chance to listen, and its well worth it. I recommend putting it on when you have some quiet work to do.
If you can’t listen to the whole hour right now, I’ve excerpted 4 minutes here from the long segment that profiles Bob Inglis. Inglis is a conservative Republican who actually believes in science. As far as his former constituents in South Carolina care, (at least, the tea party nut bags who dominate the primary process) he might as well as come out of the closet as a Gay Muslim Rastafarian. Small piece of his interview here – but even more revealing, a chat with a Republican congressional staffer, who chose to be anonymous. He discusses the abject terror that a small number of closeted science-literate GOP reps are living with, should anyone ever find out that they, too, accept the overwhelming mainstream scientific view.
It’s not a profile in courage.
Below, when he was still in congress, Inglis made a sharp point to his colleagues. Guys, this is all on video. Your children are going to know what you did, and what you said, when it counted.
I’ve written and talked about this for years. It’s not getting any less significant.
Smart money is betting on sustainability and renewable technology. There’s a new sense of urgency, because in states like mine, where the anti-science crowd has done their best to hold up progress, there is a real threat to the health of our major utilities if we do not update our regulatory structures fast enough to keep up with new technology, and the increasing recognition by the financial community that sustainable business will soon be the only business.
Climate Deniers, WindBaggers and the “Agenda 21″ crowd will take this as more evidence of the vast, left wing conspiracy.
Guys, if you want to argue the science of interdependence, don’t look at me. Take it up with the capitalists at Walmart.
According to a recent survey conducted by SRI, 65 percent of retail investors and 53 percent of institutional investors are currently expressing interest in fossil fuel-free portfolios in reaction to climate change. More than 2,000 SRI industry professionals took the First Affirmative Financial Network’s Fossil Fuels Divestment Survey in anticipation of the 24th annual SRI Conference taking place October 28-30 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Other key survey findings include:
- 77 percent see growing risks for investors associated with fossil fuel company holdings in their investment portfolios.
- 30 percent of those surveyed either already do – or are getting ready to – offer fossil-fuel free portfolios to investors.
- 63 percent believe that investors will in the next 10 years start divesting in meaningful numbers from fossil-fuel companies due to climate change implications of such energy sources.
Since launching its sustainability program in 2006, Walmart has reduced energy consumption in its stores, installed solar panels on its rooftops, curbed emissions from its trucks and recycled millions of tons of its trash. Now that the world’s biggest retailer has streamlined its own operations, it is turning its attention elsewhere — actually, almost everywhere.
Since last fall, Walmart has rolled out what it callsa supplier sustainability index to thousands of suppliers, asking them pointed questions about their operations and prodding them to better understand and manage their own supply chains.
It’s Walmart’s most ambitious environmental project ever, and if all goes according to plan, it will change the way all kinds of consumer products — clothes, toys, electronics, food and beverages — are made. The typical Walmart stocks 125,000 to 150,000 products (!), and the environmental and social performance of most companies that make them soon will be rated and ranked in Bentonville, Ark.
So Walmart is asking lots of questions of its suppliers. Among them:
May 22, 2013
I’ve pointed out in the past that efforts to slow down the adoption of Renewable Energy are coordinated and enabled by Koch and Fossil Funded groups like Americans for Prosperity. They rely on the same media manipulation that has given us everything from Weapons of Mass Destruction to the “Romney Landslide”, to Climate denial, to Kenyan birth certificates – and, they’ve even succeeded to some degree in poisoning the mainstream media dialogue.
But all lies must all eventually crash on the rocks of reality. Despite a nationwide windbagger mobilization and disinformation campaign that drew far more attention than the issue deserved, on tuesday, Massachusetts voters who live near wind turbines gave resounding approval to keeping them in operation.
Voters in Falmouth on Cape Cod decided Tuesday to keep the town’s two wind turbines, despite complaints about noise and health problems.
Voters were asked to decide on a plan to remove the two, 400-foot-tall turbines. They voted against the plan by a 2-1 margin, according to the Cape Cod Times. The vote was 6,001 against removal and 2,940 in favor of the plan, the newspaper said.
Both turbines are located at the town’s wastewater treatment facility. The first turbine began running in 2010.
Since the turbines’ installation, about 40 households in the neighborhood have complained about headaches, vertigo, sleep interruption and other problems.
After the initial complaints, the town tried curtailing the operation during extremely strong winds and also tried shutting them off at night. But some residents persisted in a campaign to take them down.
Proponents said support for the turbines and the renewable energy and revenues they produce is silent but strong.
Wind Wise-Massachusetts, which opposed the turbines, said the group was disappointed, but said the vote drew attention to ‘‘the negative impact of wind turbines on the lives of families living near them,’’
I’ve pointed out that in Europe, as in America, people that live close to and know wind turbines best support them overwhelmingly. A recent poll in Iowa, the state which gets almost 25 percent of its electricity from wind, gave 81 percent support to more wind power. Efforts to blame all manner of vapors, demonic possession, bad juju, and even herpes, on wind turbines – continue to be trumped by pesky reality.
…there is no evidence for a causal link between wind turbines and the reported health effects. On the other hand, there is significant evidence that these are symptoms could be a result of the “nocebo effect,” a phenomenon whereby people experience negative health effects from the mere suggestion that something could be harmful:
- As NPR noted, a study published in Health Psychology found that people who were given information designed to provoke “low expectations that exposure to infrasound causes specified symptoms” experienced “no symptomatic changes.” On the other hand, people in the high expectations groupreported ”significant increase in symptoms” whether they were exposed to sham infrasound or real infrasound.
- Public health professor Simon Chapman found in a not yet peer-reviewed paper that “only five of the 49 wind farms in Australia have ever drawn complaints, and that all five had been targets of anti-wind activism. He also points out that, although wind turbines have been operating in Australia since 1993, over 80 percent of complaints arose after 2009, when anti-wind groups first began emphasizing the potential health hazards of wind turbines,” according to NPR.* Chapman further noted in an email to Media Matters, “turbines have been running in Denmark, Holland, Germany, Spain and parts of France for many years and all this is unheard of — my public health colleagues from those nations look at me blankly when I ask about it.”
- As comedian Stephen Colbert mentioned in a satire of “wind turbine syndrome,” people have attributed everything from “weight gain” to “weight loss” to “herpes” to it, according to Chapman’s research.
May 21, 2013
Last week I linked to Coral Davenport’s notable article in National Journal, “The Coming GOP Civil War on Climate Change”. I still think it’s a significant indicator that we are nearing a turning point on climate science for the Republican party.
Rob Sisson, President of ConservAmerica, an organization of Environmentally minded conservatives, agrees that the problem is urgent, and that there are those in the Republican party who recognize the problem. He sends me this in an email:
“The sand in the hour glass is slipping away from my party. If we don’t begin to lead on climate and energy issues, we will not be capable of winning national elections. We will struggle to win the hearts and minds of young voters, under the age of 30, who understand the science of climate disruption and worry about their own future. More problematic for the GOP is the awakening of pro-life, faith voters who increasingly view strong environmental protection as part and parcel of a non-hypocritical pro-life ideal.”
More and more on the conservative side know that they are as far from the mainstream on science as they are on immigration, and that an adjustment is coming.
I’ve shared it around, and I hope it will be a catalyst for more conversation on the topic at the grass roots.
Not everyone agrees with the premise. D. R. Tucker, a frequent contributor here, doesn’t hold out much hope.
D. R. Tucker is a conservative writer and blogger whose recent essay “Confessions of a Climate Change Convert” crystalized the angst of intelligent, scientifically literate conservatives who have seen their movement taken over by Rush Limbaugh sensibilities and Sara Palin science.
“I hear it, but I don’t buy it.”
That’s something my old mentor the late David Brudnoy used to say when confronted with something that didn’t pass his common sense test. I remembered his line—and found myself saying the same thing—upon reading Coral Davenport’s newest piece in National Journal, “The Coming GOP Civil War Over Climate Change.”
The piece contends that a plucky band of Christian conservatives and reformist Republicans are trying to pry the lips of Republican representatives and senators away from David Koch’s rich rear end.
Good luck with that.
Does anyone seriously believe that the GOP will return to climate sanity anytime soon? The goings-on in my home state, Massachusetts, suggest otherwise.
On June 25, climate hawk Congressman Edward Markey (D) is scheduled to face Navy SEAL and businessman Gabriel Gomez (R) in a special election to fill the vacant Senate seat held for nearly three decades by another climate hawk, Secretary of State John Kerry. Gomez is being aggressively promoted as a “new kind of Republican,” just as Michael Steele was in his high-profile 2006 Senate race against Democrat Ben Cardin in Maryland. While Gomez doesn’t come across as a Tea Party freak in interviews, his campaign advisers are the old kind of Republicans—namely, former members of Team Romney (presumably the ones who convinced Romney to tell that dopey climate-change joke at the 2012 Republican National Convention.)
They said it couldn’t happen. They keep trying to trash the EnergieWende – Germany’s planet-leading transformation to renewable energy.
But the pesky Germans keep perking along.
FRANKFURT–Germany exported more electricity than it imported for the seventh consecutive year in 2012, despite an accelerated exit from nuclear-power generation that included the immediate and permanent shut-down of nearly half of the country’s atomic reactors in 2011.
Germany exported about 22.8 terrawatt-hours of electricity more than it imported in 2012, the Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, said Tuesday in a written statement.
The main destinations for German-produced electricity were the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria, said the statistics office, citing data supplied by Germany’s four power transmission grid operators.
The main sources of power imports into Germany were France, Denmark and the Czech Republic, it said.
The statistics office didn’t provide any reasons for the continued power exports, despite the fact that Germany shut down eight of 17 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March 2011.
The rapid expansion of solar- and wind-power installations are seen as the main reason for continued German electricity exports, as well as the erosion of wholesale power prices under which many of Europe’s utilities are presently suffering.
May 21, 2013
I’m declaring the tornado drought officially over.
Monday’s horrifying events in Oklahoma are still being sorted out. Standard disclaimers apply, “No particular weather event …” etc
I have a statement from Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the Natonal Center for Atmospheric Research by email:
Of course tornadoes are very much a weather phenomenon. They come from certain thunderstorms, usually super-cell thunderstorms that are in a wind shear environment that promotes rotation. The main climate change connection is via the basic instability
of the low level air that creates the convection and thunderstorms in the first place.
Warmer and moister conditions are the key for unstable air.
The climate change effect is probably only a 5 to 10% effect in terms of the instability and subsequent rainfall, but it translates into up to a 32% effect in terms of damage.
(It is highly nonlinear).
So there is a chain of events and climate change mainly affects the first link: the basic buoyancy of the air is increased. Whether that translates into a super-cell storm and one with a tornado is largely chance weather.
Below: Damage in Moore, Oklahoma, from the air.