April 30, 2013
The reinforcement of the “Republicans are against science” meme continues.
How’s that rebranding coming?
About an hour into the session, Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”
“Young people,” one woman called out.
“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.”“Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.”
When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”
April 30, 2013
WindBaggers. Still living in 1995.
18 years ago, a skeptic of wind power reviewed a German book on the history of wind power in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ). The journalist still publishes for the paper. His comments from way back have not aged well, but they do sound like a lot of the criticism we now hear outside of Germany today.
The book itself is entitled in German “The history of the wind energy usage 1890-1990,” and although it was never translated (and, indeed, it is practically impossible to find even in German now), US wind power expert Paul Gipe reviewed it on his website in 2004.
Gipe’s summary is much more positive than German journalist George Küffner’s was in 1995. Küffner doubts that wind power “failed” in the 20th century primarily because, as the book’s author argues, the focus in energy policy has been on central-station power plants, such as nuclear. Instead, the journalist believes that low “energy density” is one major problem – a charge that is repeated even today, most recently in a scientific paper that drew a lot of attention. But as I recently wrote in the Energy Transition blog, almost no one in Germany speaks of energy density; the Germans simply install systems and know that the real limit is not theoretical, but practical (see “peak demand parity“). It is important, however, to note that the focus on energy density has historically been a tool used by those who said renewables would never suffice.
After tossing out all of the usual anti-wind claims – they destroy landscapes, kill birds, and are loud – the journalist takes the energy density issue to its logical conclusion when he states that “it remains to be seen whether Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein will ever reach their target of 10 percent wind power, which itself represents the technical maximum.”
The assessment has not aged well. Allow me to draw your attention to a new website, which is unfortunately only in German (the project manager told me today that no English version is in the works, but he will make a budget proposal for an international version). The website provides interactive graphics for renewables in Germany’s 16 states. Though it does not separately provide statistics for wind power, renewables made up 37.6 percent of gross power generation in Schleswig-Holstein in 2011, and most of that was wind. But the state is only in third place behind Thüringen (44.9 percent) and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (57.7 percent).
April 30, 2013
I recently noted that the Wall Street Journal now reports emerging solar energy technology is a “mortal threat” to utilities who do not change their way of doing business.
Wall Mart underlines the reality. Your biggest customers will soon be self generating. Adapt or die.
We are at the beginning of a utility death spiral for those that do not read the writing on the wall. As big customers begin to self generate and cut back on power purchases, more and more of the rate burden will fall on remaining, mostly smaller, customers. Rates will have to rise, pushing even more customers off the grid. Do the Math. Draw the curve.
This is a big deal.
To every environmentalist who ever bad-mouthed Walmart for its big-box blandness and gigantic impervious parking lots, here’s some news:
The retail behemoth is throwing its full economic muscle behind energy sustainability. Local utilities that don’t get on board with Walmart’s green energy programs could be left behind like an old, worn-out shopping center.
The company’s new energy policy, announced this week at its Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting, calls for Walmart to produce or procure 7 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy globally by the end of the decade, a 600 percent increase over 2010 levels.
At the same time, the retailer will make deep cuts to its energy consumption by shaving 20 percent from 2010 levels the amount of electricity required to power a square foot of a Walmart store or warehouse.
The new commitments put much sharper teeth into Walmart’s existing clean energy program, which calls for the retailer to become 100 percent powered by renewable energy by midcentury. But that goal was considered more aspirational than real, given the company’s expansive geographic footprint — 10,500 stores in 27 countries — and the complexity of electricity markets across the many regions and states where Walmart operates.
In a statement, Mike Duke, Walmart’s president and chief executive officer, made clear that the retailer was doubling down on its energy commitments and that it intends to make good on those promises much faster than originally anticipated.
“More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful,” Duke said. “The math adds up pretty quickly — when we use less energy, that’s less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings. These new commitments will make us a stronger business, and they’re great for our communities and the environment.”
April 30, 2013
Some hourly readings at Mauna Loa now above 400 ppm.
Carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere are on the cusp of reaching 400 parts per million for the first time in 3 million years.
The daily CO2 level, measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, was 399.72 parts per million last Thursday, and a few hourly readings had risen to more than 400 parts per million.
”I wish it weren’t true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat,” said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, which operates the Hawaiian observatory.
”At this pace we’ll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.”
The 450 ppm level is considered to be the point at which the world has a 50 per cent chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. Any higher and the odds of avoiding searing temperature rises of 4 or 5 degrees by the end of the century become prohibitively risky.
The rise in greenhouse gases corresponds with the extra amount of CO2 known to have been emitted by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. More greenhouse gases means more heat builds up at the Earth’s surface.
April 29, 2013
The latest example of climate denial boobery from the rich trove at Forbes and WattsUpWithThat, is Peter Ferrara’s new piece that compares climate science to Lysenkoism.
Trofim Lysenko, you’ll remember, was a Russian scientist in the Stalin era, whose theories of genetics were embraced as official government science because they were ‘consistent with certain broader Marxist doctrines”. His story is the cautionary tale of what happens when government mandated political directives override careful scientific process.
Ferrara writes: “Lysenko himself arose from a peasant background and developed his theories from practical applications rather than controlled scientific experiments. This fit the Marxist propaganda of the time holding that brilliant industrial innovations would arise from the working classes through practical applications.”
You know, sort of like the way George Bush trusted his gut, not those crazy left wing journalists, scientists, academics, and military leaders obsessed with facts and all that gobbledegook..
The V.I. Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences announced on August 7, 1948 that thenceforth Lysenkoism would be taught as the only correct theory. All Soviet scientists were required to denounce any work that contradicted Lysenkoism. Ultimately, Soviet geneticists resisting Lysenkoism were imprisoned and even executed. Lysenkoism was abandoned for the correct modern science of Mendelian genetics only as late as 1964.
The Theory of Man Caused Catastrophic Global Warming
This same practice of Lysenkoism has long been under way in western science in regard to the politically correct theory of man caused, catastrophic, global warming. That theory serves the political fashions of the day in promoting vastly increased government powers and control over the private economy. Advocates of the theory are lionized in the dominant Democrat party controlled media in the U.S., and in leftist controlled media in other countries. Critics of the theory are denounced as “deniers,” and even still bourgeois fascists, with their motives impugned.
And it’s weird that he says that about motives, because I was about to mention that Mr Ferrara has a history of writing stuff that just happens to favor the positions of wealthy and powerful people, for money, according to Business Week:
Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation, says he, too, took money from (well known lobbyist Jack) Abramoff to write op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist’s clients.
Jack Abramoff, of course, was convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy to bribe public officials, and tax evasion. No problem for Ferrara – he’d do it all again.
“I do that all the time,” Ferrara says. “I’ve done that in the past, and I’ll do it in the future.”
Anyway, so it’s richly entertaining to read today that Rep. Lamar Smith, climate denier and new chair of the House of Representatives science committee, “has drafted a bill that, in effect, would replace peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress.”
April 29, 2013
In perhaps his first major interview since leaving NASA, James Hansen demonstrated quiet passion, and a clear style that has not always been a hallmark of scientific communication on climate change.
Question for the fossil fuel industry: Is that a Neanderthal in your pocket?
April 28, 2013
Peter Jackson, a meteorologist in Prince George B.C., couldn’t believe what he was seeing on his radar screen. It was like a rainstorm, but thicker, and it was
crossing east over the Rocky Mountains. It looked a little like insect swarms, except
insects had never been seen at such high altitudes before. Farmers on the eastern slope
of the Rockies described huge clouds of insects. They could hear them pinging off their
steel roofs. The swarms were so dense they gummed up the windshield wipers on the farmers’ vehicles.
This was this first attack of the Mountain Pine Beetle east of the Rocky Mountains… the
year when the unthinkable actually happened: carried along by the prevailing winds,
trillions of Mountain Pine Beetles crossed the Rocky Mountains from BC into Alberta. Now, the great Northern Boreal Forest, one of the world’s richest ecosystems and one of its greatest carbon sinks, was face to face with a grave threat – a plague of insects, each the size of a grain of rice.
April 27, 2013
“There’s no place on Earth that is changing faster–and no place where that change matters more–than Greenland.” So said 350.org founder Bill McKibben, in a 2012 Rolling Stone magazine interview. As Earth Week 2013 draws to a close, I want to draw your attention to a unique effort to learn more about why Greenland is melting so fast–a crowd-funded research project that anyone can contribute to, which aims to answer the “burning question”: How much does wildfire and industrial soot darken the ice, increasing melt? The Dark Snow Project, the first-ever Greenland expedition relying on crowd-source funding, hopes to raise $150,000 to mount a field research campaign to find out. The project is the brainchild of Dr. Jason Box, Professor at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), and one of the world’s leading experts on Greenland’s glaciers. He has set up a website called darksnowproject.org to help raise the funds for the field campaign, and has raised about half of the needed amount as of mid-April.
2012: Unprecedented melting in Greenland
Watching the weather events of 2012 over Greenland made all seasoned climate watchers a little queasy. The vast ice sheet on the island holds enough water to raise global sea levels by 7.36 meters (24.15 feet) were it all to melt, and the ice melt season of 2012 gave notice that an epic melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet may be underway. According to NOAA’s 2012 Arctic Report Card, the duration of melting at the surface of the ice sheet in summer 2012 was the longest since satellite observations began in 1979, and the total amount of summer melting was nearly double the previous record, set in 2010 (satellite records of melting go back to 1979.) A rare, near-ice sheet-wide surface melt event melted 97% of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet on July 11 – 12. While a similar melt event at the summit occurred 1889, but the 1889 event has no basis in the instrumental record from coastal Greenland. It’s instead likely that 2012 was Greenland’s warmest summer in at least 863 years, since the medieval warm period (see http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=677 and http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=725).
It would not be a surprise if this sort of summer began occurring regularly, since the ice sheet reached its darkest value on record in 2012. The darkened surface was due to below average summer snow, soot particles from pollution and forest fires, and record melting. A darker ice sheet absorbs more solar energy, in a vicious cycle that raises temperatures, melts more ice, and further darkens the ice sheet. The amount of melting that was caused by soot from forest fires is important to know, since global warming is likely to increase the amount of forest fires in coming decades. However, the amount of forest fire soot landing on the Greenland Ice Sheet is almost completely unknown, which is why Dr. Box is determined to find out, via the Dark Snow Project.
April 27, 2013
Two sixties music icons gone in one week, Richie Havens and now George Jones.
April 26, 2013
One of my more popular “solutions” videos starting to come true.
Basic idea, electric cars provide stability and storage to a distributed electrical grid, paying the car owner for the very valuable service.
I put this out before the Chevy Volt and other electrics hit the road, but the idea is still the same. Now we’re taking baby steps to make that vision become reality.
Finally, payback for the plug-in.
A line of Mini Coopers, each attached to the regional power grid by a thick cable plugged in where a gasoline filler pipe used to be, no longer just draws energy. The power now flows two ways between the cars and the electric grid, as the cars inject and suck power in tiny jolts, and get paid for it.
This nascent form of electric carcommerce will be announced on Friday by the University of Delaware, the regional grid operator and an electric company. They have developed a system to collect payments for work (balancing supply and demand moment to moment) that is normally the domain of power plants.
The possibilities of using electric cars for other purposes are being realized around the globe. Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet’s plug-in hybrid Volt, are generally not sold in the United States with two-way chargers that could feed back into the grid. But Nissan is offering a similar device in Japan that allows consumers to power their houses when the electric grid is down.
In the Delaware project, each car is equipped with some additional circuitry and a battery charger that operates in two directions. When the cars work with the grid, they earn about $5 a day, which comes to about $1,800 a year, according to Willett M. Kempton, a professor of electrical engineering and computing. He hopes that provides an incentive to make electric cars more attractive to consumers, and estimates that the added gadgetry would add about $400 to the cost of a car.
The frequency of electric current in the United States is supposed to be stable at 60 cycles a second, but if the supply from a wind farm or solar plant changes suddenly, or demand shifts, frequency gets out of whack.
The market that Professor Kempton is tapping into, known as frequency regulation, has become increasingly important as the mix of generators on the grid has changed.
If electric cars become more popular, proponents say that a network of thousands of plug-in cars could help stabilize the grid.