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.