Send this to Uncle Dittohead and Aunt Teabag.



Major European carrier EasyJet announced Wednesday that it is teaming up with U.S. startup Wright Electric to build an all-electric airliner.

The aircraft they have in mind would handle short routes of 335 miles or less — think New York to Boston or London to Paris.

EasyJet, a budget airline that specializes in shorter flights, said the new aircraft would cover 20% of its passenger journeys.

The airline said it has been working closely with Wright Electric this year and it hopes to have an electric commercial aircraft flying in the next decade.

“We can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when not if a short haul electric plane will fly,” said EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall. Read the rest of this entry »



Crisis = Opportunity.


It’s been over a week since Maria tore through Puerto Rico, leaving a tangle of transmission lines in its wake. The hurricane knocked out all of the island’s electricity, just weeks after Irma took down electricity for 1 million people. Thousands still hadn’t had their electricity restored when the second storm arrived.

Since Maria made landfall on the island, President Trump has been criticizing the National Football League and waffling on a waiver of the Jones Act, which would allow foreign vessels to bring aid to Puerto Rico. He finally lifted shipping restrictions yesterday.

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground is dire. Supplies that have arrived are reportedly sitting on the docks. FEMA has said 42 percent of people are without drinkable water, and nearly everyone still lacks electricity access.

With the U.S. government moving slowly, private citizens have taken up their own efforts. That includes some players in clean energy.

This week, Tesla announced it would send Powerwall storage packs to help restore power. And on Friday, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) posted an announcement about its effort to coordinate with solar companies to donate equipment and installation services.

“That’s what is different today than during the Haiti earthquake, or some other disasters recently. The solar industry is just much larger,” said Jigar Shah, president of Generate Capital. “We have the ability to do things we weren’t previously able to do.”
That includes coordinating donations and possible development and installation when the time is right.

It also includes products for immediate disaster needs. About 40,000 solar lanterns have been shipped from Haiti. About a million lanterns are available around the world that could be sent to the island. According to Shah, portable-solar companies such as Goal Zero are also coordinating donations.

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This year’s hurricanes could be black swan events in several ways.

Washington Post:

The ongoing electricity disaster in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria — and on several other Caribbean islands slammed at full force by strong storms — is driving new interest in ways of shifting island power grids toward greater reliance on wind, solar and even, someday, large batteries.

“For the most part, these island grids were completely devastated, and it will be four to six months before most of them can power their islands completely again,” said Chris Burgess, director of projects for the Islands Energy Program at the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Adding more renewables, and moving away from centralized power grids to more so-called “microgrids,” could lower costs and increase resilience in the face of storms, several energy experts said. And island nations, already at the forefront of pushing for action on climate change, have been moving this way for a while.


Members states of CARICOM, a consortium of Caribbean nations, already have a goal of reaching 47 percent renewable energy by 2027. The storms now only give greater impetus.

“You look at islands like Dominica, Anguilla and the other islands affected by the recent hurricanes, I’ve spoken to a couple of the utilities, and they say they would prefer to rebuild using distributed generation with storage, and just trying to reduce the amount of transmission lines,” said Tom Rogers, a renewable energy expert at Coventry University in Britain who previously was a lecturer in energy at the University of the West Indies in Barbados. “Because that’s where their energy systems fail. It’s having these overhead cables.”

Even in good weather, islands like those in the Caribbean have an energy problem: They’ve tended to burn fossil fuels, such as diesel or heavy fuel oil, to drive centralized power plants. But being an island without its own fossil energy resources makes shipping in the fuel quite expensive — in turn translating into sky-high electricity bills — to say nothing of the environmental costs incurred by burning it.

I’ve written many times about the intersection of climate denial and racism.

Add to that incompetence. All of it on full frontal hideous display in Puerto Rico.


Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican refugees will be coming to the US, many to southern states, many to Florida.
Possible political ramifications. Will they remember how a Republican President treated them when it mattered?

The crisis in Puerto Rico could send tens of thousands of people to Florida, accelerating an already steady exodus from the economically depressed island and triggering wide-ranging effects on schools, housing and jobs.

“This is a humanitarian crisis and Florida needs to brace for the influx,” said Dennis Freytes, a political activist in the Orlando area. “Many of the people coming are the most vulnerable. I’m desperately trying to get my 92-year-old mother out of there and haven’t been able to even with my connections.”

The wave might also carry political ramifications.

Gov. Scott back in Washington Friday to meet with Trump ]

“Florida is a big swing state and Central Florida is the epicenter of that,” Freytes said. “This could be a very big deal. There are going to be voter registration drives and both parties are going to be after them. They already are.”

More than 1 million Puerto Ricans already reside in Florida — some 1,000 families relocating each month — double the number in 2000 and now rivaling New York.

The growth, largely around Orlando but also in Tampa Bay, has outpaced the overall population increase in Florida as well as that of Hispanics overall.

Now Hurricane Maria could send as many as 100,000 more Puerto Ricans to the state, adding to growing political clout, just as waves of Cubans decades ago formed a potent voting bloc in Miami.

In a state of more than 20 million, it may not seem like a big deal. But top Florida elections are often decided by narrow margins. “It’s a state where little tiny changes matter,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale.

Until recently, Cubans were reliable Republican votes. By contrast, Puerto Ricans, who arrive as U.S. citizens, have largely favored Democrats and are elevating members of the community to power. Last year, Democrat Darren Soto of Orlando was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, the first Puerto Rican to serve in Congress from Florida.

“It only makes sense that when you have a large, growing population, it will gain some influence,” said Emily Bonilla, a Democrat who last year was elected to the Orange County Commission. “We as Puerto Ricans care about our families, the community and supporting each other.”

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Image here from a stunning photo essay in the Atlantic, highly recommended to see more at link. Jaw dropping.

The Atlantic:

Five days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, its devastating impact is becoming clearer. Most of the U.S. territory currently has no electricity or running water, fewer than 250 of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers are operational, and damaged ports, roads, and airports are slowing the arrival and transport of aid. Communication has been severely limited and some remote towns are only now being contacted. Jenniffer Gonzalez, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press that Hurricane Maria has set the island back decades.

Angela Fritz in the Washington Post:

“Puerto Rico is a fantastic place and deserves the best, which is what we will deliver. Every detail will be important to me.”

If only.

President Trump said this about his failed golf course in Puerto Rico back in 2008, when he promised that his brand would revive a troubled resort and help buoy the recession that hit the island especially hard.

Instead, the resort fell into bankruptcy and left the Puerto Rican taxpayers with a nearly $33 million bill.

And this weekend, instead of talking about the plight of these 3.4 million American citizens living in total devastation, Trump posted 10 taunting tweets about the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.

But the Puerto Rican governor is worried that the mainland isn’t understanding the scope of the destruction.

“This is a major disaster, not unlike Katrina or Sandy. There is going to be a hefty toll for us to make sure that we can reestablish normalcy and build Puerto Rico back stronger,” Rosselló said.

It’s going to be more than meals and construction to bring Puerto Rico back. The destruction also hit airports and ports.

FEMA said Sunday that the U.S. Coast Guard has nine cutters in the vicinity of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are at least 5,000 FEMA workers, and the National Guard and military helicopters are helping with rescues and evacuations.
But this is going to be a long-haul effort, and it’s pretty clear that Puerto Rico isn’t topping any news cycles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Washington Post:

The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season has not only been super active so far, but also super unlucky. In some past busy hurricane seasons, land areas have avoided some of the most extreme storms, but this year they have been a magnet.

Category 5 hurricanes have directly hit six land masses head on, leaving devastation in their wake almost every time. While just two separate hurricanes, Irma and Maria, did all the dirty work, they repeatedly found areas to target.

Brenden Moses, a researcher at the National Hurricane Center, found that of all Category 5 landfalls on record in the Atlantic since 1851, one-quarter have occurred this season. This is a remarkable statistic.

However, it’s important to remember monitoring of hurricanes was much more difficult before the advent of weather satellites in the late 1960s and storms may have been missed. That said, there is no precedent in the last half century of Category 5 storms striking land so frequently in the same season.