King George was a pussycat compared to King Koch.
In a stunning turn in the battle between corporate domination of renewable energy and community ownership, a cooperative of German investors has rescued defunct commercial wind developer Prokon.
The move marks a forceful rejection of a proposed takeover by one of Germany’s largest electric utilities, Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW). The utility, one of Germany’s Big Four, has lagged far behind other German utilities in the connection of wind turbines to its system. Analysts saw EnBW’s proposal to buy Prokon’s assets as a particularly cheap way for the utility to quickly gain wind capacity without the arduous and time consuming work normally necessary.
However, the utility didn’t count on an effective grassroots campaign by Germany’s electricity rebels, including Elektrizitätswerke Schönau (EWS)–the country’s most famous rebels–who urged investors to fight for their independence.
On 2 July 2015 a clear majority of Prokon’s investors chose the cooperative model to continue operation despite EnBW’s aggressive advertising campaign that threatened investors with the loss of their money if they rejected the utility’s offer.
EWS declared the decision a Great Day for Prokon and Community Energy, characterizing the decision as another victory in a David versus Goliath struggle for the future of renewable energy.
Electricity rebels argue that Germany’s Energiewende, or energy revolution, must be built from the ground up by putting renewable energy in the hands of the people.
At the time of its bankruptcy, Prokon operated more than 500 MW of wind generating capacity–assets worth more than one billion dollars–and employed more than 600 people.
EWS is a cooperatively-owned electricity provider in the Black Forest village of Schönau in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. The coop’s founders were described in the media as “electricity rebels” for their revolt against the local utility company after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. Ursula Sladek, one of the coop’s founders, received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize and met with President Barack Obama in 2011. The coop now has 100,000 customers. For more on EWS, see Strom Rebels of Schönau: The Village That Built Their Own Solar Utility.
July 3, 2015
You’re cooking brats outside on an unseasonably cool July 4th afternoon, and your crazy dittohead Uncle sidles up to you with a Miller High Life and a smirk – “So, we sure could use some global warming today…”
Whip our your cellphone and show him the screen shot from the NASA Climate home page. Invite him to peruse the site with Aunt Teabag.
A Public Service. You’re welcome. Enjoy your brats.
July 3, 2015
The Director of Citizen’s Climate Lobby, reacting to feedback from 800 CCL members, who descended on Washington, DC last week for their trademark respectful and consistent dialogue with climate deniers in congress.
He’s optimistic – but we need a Climate Churchill among Republicans, and I’m not seeing it, yet.
Here’s what we know about climate change: 97 percent of climate scientists are convinced, based upon the evidence, that human-caused global warming is happening.
The popular narrative in the media these days, however, is that Republicans in Congress don’t accept this fact and that the GOP is in denial about the science around climate change.
Our organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, recently sent 800 volunteers to meet with more than 500 House and Senate offices in Washington. This was our opening in those meetings:
“We’re here to talk about a policy that can grow the economy, add jobs, increase our competitiveness with China, and make our air and water cleaner.”
That policy, our volunteers would go on to explain, is to place a gradually-rising fee on carbon and return the revenue to households. They also shared the results of a non-partisan study that found such a policy would cut CO2 emissions in half within 20 years, while adding 2.8 million jobs to the economy and saving 13,000 lives annually because of reduced air pollution.
So, what happened when our volunteers engaged Republicans in this conversation?
In most instances, there was keen interest, active listening, productive discussions and — in some cases — expressions of support for our proposal. In very few instances was there pushback from the staff or member of Congress about the science of climate change.
In meeting after meeting with Republican offices, the unspoken agreement seemed to be: “Let’s not argue about the science; let’s talk about solutions and where we might find common ground.”
But what about everything we’re hearing on TV and reading in newspapers about Republican presidential candidates pushing back on the Pope’s Encyclical? What about a certain member of Congress who tossed a snowball on the Senate floor to dispute global warming?
These are the more sensational reactions that make the news because the media thrives on conflict. No conflict. No news.
Despite the headlines, CCL has found in the past year that the propensity among congressional Republicans to dispute climate science has waned considerably. So, why has that changed and why were we ever arguing the science to begin with? Read the rest of this entry »
July 3, 2015
My guess is yes.
The last time we had a year of extremes quite like this was 2012, which I think will go down in history as the hinge year when polls in the US began to swing from climate apathy or denial to concern.
I completed the video above, one of my favorites, in early July of 2012, in the midst of a severe drought in Southwestern Michigan, where I was attending a conference at Michigan State’s agricultural research station near Kalamazoo. The rivers nearby were running at a few percent of normal at the time, and everywhere you stepped was crunchy dry. I suspect as the summer goes on we will accumulate yet more viral videos of the odd, the unusual, and the extreme in weather and climate events.
A Google News search for “heat waves” turns up droves; this week, there’s the “unusual” one sweeping Western Europe, the one “scorching” the Bay Area with triple digit temperatures, the “brutal” one in Pakistan that left 1250 dead, and the one that “shattered” records in the Pacific Northwest.
That’s just right now, at the time of writing; together, they’re a snapshot of a heat waving world. But there’s little we should consider unusual about these brutal scorchers shattering records; they’ve become fairly routine on our 400 ppm planet. Just weeks before, a heat wave that hit India killed more than 2,300 people; it was one of the five worst in recorded history. That another came along and did comparable damage to its next-door neighbor just weeks later pretty powerfully elucidates the scope of the coming crisis.
As if cued by the tragedy, the United Nations also proposed its first-ever heat wave warning system this week. The Heat-Health Warning System, as outlined in a 100+ page document, recommends nations take a number of actions to warn their populations of heat waves and brace them for their impacts, including forecasting for high temps that may include humidity, determining their regions’ heat-stress thresholds, creating a system of alerts for notifying the public of incipient heat, and building “real time public health surveillance systems.”
The World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization, the UN agencies behind the report, have essentially concluded that climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of the heat waves—a phenomenon it says doesn’t get as much attention as other more destructive weather events—and that action is becoming urgent.
The UK has seen the hottest July day on record, with temperatures hitting 36.7C (98F).
The Met Office said the reading had been registered at Heathrow – breaking the previous record set in 2006.
A level 3 “heatwave action” heat-health alert has been declared for all parts of England.
July 2, 2015
Unprecedented June heat scorched portions of four continents during the past week, and many all-time heat records are likely to fall across multiple continents this July as the peak heat of summer arrives for what has been the hottest year in recorded human history. Already on July 1, in Wimbledon, England–site of the classic Wimbledon tennis tournament–players are enduring the city’s hottest day in tournament history. The mercury hit 96.3°F (35.7°C) at Kew Gardens, the nearest recording site, topping the previous record of 94.3°F (34.6°C) on June 26, 1976. London’s Heathrow Airport has risen to 98.1°F (36.7°C) so far on July 1. This is not only a new all-time July record at that location, but also a July heat record for the UK, topping the previous record of 97.7°F (36.5°C) in Wisley on July 19, 2006.
We’ve already seen two of the planet’s top ten deadliest heat waves in history over the past two months; the Pakistani government announced on Wednesday that the death toll from the brutal June heat wave in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, had hit 1,250. According to statistics from EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, this makes the 2015 heat wave in Pakistan the 8th deadliest in world history. The heat wave that hit India in May, claiming approximately 2,500 lives, ranks as the 5th deadliest.
Consider La Crosse, WA for instance. On Friday (June 26) it broke the all-time record for that date, not just by a degree or even two, but by five degrees. That’s five degrees hotter than any other June 26th on record. The next day (Saturday June 27) it broke the record for that day too, exceeding the hottest June 27th on record, not by one, or two, or even five degrees, but by nine degrees.
If you think that’s impressive, consider that on Sunday (June 28) it tied the all-time record for any day, not just for that date. And it was not even July or August (the usual hottest months) yet. As for the daily record, of course it broke that. Not by one degree, not by two, not by five, not even by nine. It broke the June 28th record by fifteen degrees.
If watching ice melt sounds boring, here’s a video that might change your mind.
Researchers from New York University (NYU) monitoring the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland filmed an enormous vertical slab of ice breaking off, tipping horizontally, and floating into the ocean. The glacier chunk was more than half a mile high long — that’s more than the height of two Empire State Buildings.
No other glacier in the Northern Hemisphere releases more ice into the ocean than Jakobshavn.
Jay Famiglietti on California’s unseen water crisis, depletion of Ground water.