June 30, 2016
No carbon tax or fracking ban in the Democratic platform, but important acknowledgement that Oil companies knew decades ago that climate change was a serious issue, and yet still funded climate science denial groups who have fouled and distorted the needed public debate on the issue.
Decent synopsis above, including Dr. Michael Mann’s testimony to the Platform Committee.
Btw, I’m an independent, folks, if the GOP does something constructive on, well, anything,…I’ll report here.
Quick Dark Snow update. I’ve made contact a group of researchers who are heading up to the ice sheet edge today, and invited me along. Will most likely be camping on the ice tonight, back tomorrow.
June 29, 2016
There are several scenarios out there for a renewable future in which no significant grid storage is needed. These are important to keep in mind, and in part, they have been modeled with the idea that energy storage would remain too expensive in the medium term to keep up with the necessary expansion of wind and solar energy.
But, just as photovoltaic solar prices plunged in the past half decade, surprising just about everyone and changing the landscape, now it looks as though storage prices will be following a similar path, with, maybe, just as industry-shaking consequences.
Solar veterans will recall a time not so long ago when the industry’s biggest dream was a PV module with a cost of 99 cents per watt. Obviously, the solar industry has long left that figure in the dust — module costs of 40 cents per wattare a reality in today’s market.
In fact, the 99-cent figure was more a VC-funding, press-ready construct than a real economic calculation.
Which is reminiscent of the equally arbitrary $100 per kilowatt-hour battery cost goal now put forth by the battery industry and the press. (Although it does help to have a concrete target to aim for.)
Ben Kallo at equity analyst firm RW Baird believes that Tesla’s current battery costs are ~$150 to ~$200 per kilowatt-hour, well below the industry average pack costs of ~$350 per kilowatt-hour (as estimated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance). Kallo suggests that the Chevy Bolt’s battery costs “are significantly higher” than those of Tesla.
Kallo suggests that Tesla “could reach its <$100 per kilowatt-hour target in the intermediate term as Gigafactory production ramps.” He continued, “Additionally, we believe TSLA is ahead of expectations on reducing battery costs, and continues to have a significant lead on competing EVs.” (Kallo upped his Tesla stock target to $300 per share based on improved Model X production.)
Tesla’s battery factory gets a lot of attention. When completed, the so-called Gigafactory will manufacture more lithium-ion batteries each year than were produced globally in 2013.
That will help push prices further downward. But a few other large producers — LG Chem, Panasonic and Samsung — are already making batteries at unprecedented scale. There are numerous giga-scale factories producing cells and battery packs for electric cars and stationary applications throughout Asia. And the recent wave of capacity is already impacting pricing in a big way.
According to Larsh Johnson, the chief technology officer of Stem, the company is paying 70 percent less for lithium-ion batteries than it was 18 months ago.
“It’s happening. The capacity is out there,” said Johnson in an interview. “The momentum continues.”
Oldie but informative goody.
June 28, 2016
Flew in this morning from Copenhagen, setting up at KISS, Kangerlussuaq International Science Support, a remnant of the old SAC base that was once the dominant presence here, (hence one of the world’s longest runways – B- 52 worthy).
Spent a couple of hours unpacking and setting up, this will be my base of ops for a few weeks, and it’s buzzing. There’s an East Greenland Ice Sheet group here, Facebook here has some pretty amazing pics of their operation on the ice.
This is what I came for, to interact with the scientists busy gathering data and doing science. Odds are, none of them will ever win a Nobel prize – unlikely they’ll have their names in the paper or show up on the evening news. They do this because they love to work in extreme but beautiful conditions, they enjoy the challenge of doing work that that demands every part of their being, and they care about what’s happening to this critical part of the planet.
Here’s a surprising example: Turns out “Watermelon Snow” is not just something you get in a paper cone at the county fair.
Pink algae that blooms across the surface of Arctic glaciers and snowfields each summer is absorbing heat instead of reflecting it. And according to a new study published by scientists with the Helmholtz German Research Center for Geosciences, it is a more powerful contributor to the warming feedback loop than previously understood. The algae causes what is known as “watermelon snow” because the ice and snow around it turns pink. It could be responsible for reducing the reflectivity of the snow surface by as much as 13 percent on glaciers and snowfields studied.
The peer-reviewed study was published this week in the journal Nature Communications.
The study is the latest trying to explain what causes “amplification” of Arctic warming. For years, researchers have documented how the shrinking of bright, reflective Arctic ice is exposing more dark-colored ocean and land. Dark surfaces absorb more heat, spurring more Arctic warming. Sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets are also getting darker because of industrial pollution, soot, ship exhaust and smoke from wildfires.
E pluribus unum — out of many, one — has been an official motto of the United States since June 20, 1782. Writ large, it could be the motto for climate action.
There have always been two poles representing how the world might respond to the increasingly painful reality of climate change (or indeed any global scale problem). At one pole is unity driven by our moral sensibility — a concerted national and global effort to address the gravest preventable existential threat to Americans and indeed all humanity. It is embodied in the Pope’s Encyclical from a year ago, a clarion call on the moral necessity of climate action.
At the other pole is disunity driven by self-interest: “Après nous le déluge,” everyone for themselves, the very source of the “tragedy of the commons” that thwarts collective action. It is embodied in Trumpism and Brexit — the vote Britain just made to split from the European Union, driven in large part by scaremongering around the Syrian refugee crisis.
June 26, 2016
When I make presentations I always ask around the room whether those over 40 believe they are seeing more frequent intense precipitation. Always nods, always agreement.
One of the most rock solid predictions, and now, observations, of a changing planet.
In Kyushu, Japan on Friday, government officials urged 700,000 residents to evacuate as record heavy rains and severe flooding inundated the city for the fifth day in a row. Half a world away in West Virginia, another unpredicted record deluge dumped 8.2 inches of rain, washed out roads, cut off shopping malls, flushed burning homes down raging rivers, and left more than 14 people dead and hundreds more stranded.
Individually, these events would be odd. But taken together with what are now scores of other extreme flooding events happening around the world in the space of just a few months and the context begins to look a lot like what scientists expected to happen due to human-forced climate change.
In Kyushu, the skies opened up on Monday. An extension of a seasonal front draped across China and feeding on moisture bleeding off of record hot ocean surfaces edged out over Japan. Mountainous cloud banks unloaded. Record rains in the range of five inches an hour then began to inundate the southern Japanese island. This mass dumping of watereventually accumulated to half a meter (or 1.6 feet) over some sections of the island over the course of just one 24 hour period.
Here, NASA’s Josh Willis, interviewed in 2011, describes the effects of the last big transition from El Nino to La Nina, characterized by incredibly intense rain events.
The rains set loose raging rivers of water through Kyushu streets and saturated hillsides already weakened by an April earthquake. The flooding and resulting landslides killed 6 people on Monday alone and resulted in calls for tens of thousands of people to evacuate the hardest hit areas. Over the week, hourly rainfall totals of 1-3 inches and daily rainfall rates of 4-8 inches continued as more and more of the region succumbed to flooding. By Friday, bridges and roads had been washed out, an elderly man, a university student, and a child had gone missing, trains had been blocked by mudslides and the evacuation calls extended to include 700,000 people.
June 25, 2016
The sad fact about the working class people who have supported right wing politics historically in the US, is that they are themselves so often the victims of the policies their political heroes advocate. This is certainly true in areas of environment and climate, and yet another of those increasingly common “one in a thousand year” events in West Virginia illustrates vividly.
Huge floods ravaging West Virginia have killed at least 23 people, stranded hundreds and left tens of thousands without power overnight, officials said late Friday.
The threat of pop-up showers and overflowing rivers was still a concern late, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said that search and rescue efforts remained a priority to help people trapped in swamped homes and cars. He said 200 National Guard members have been deployed in eight counties with about 300 more authorized to help with ongoing relief.
The storm system dumped 9 inches of rain on parts of West Virginia and trapped 500 people in a shopping center for more than 24 hours after a bridge washed out. Crews completed a temporary roadway Friday night and evacuated all those who wanted to leave although some decided to stay.
Dozens of other people had to be plucked off rooftops or rescued as waters quickly rose during the deluge.
The heavy rainfall over six to eight hours prompted the National Weather Service to call it a “one-in-a-thousand-year event.”
A burning house being carried away by flood waters is as vivid a metaphor for global climate catastrophe as I’ve ever seen.