breakglass

A lot of rhetoric around the “Time to Panic” message.
I think the idea is to make the point we are in an emergency.

I was a paramedic for 15 years, so have been around a few emergencies.
I can tell you that panic is not the optimal approach.
Seriousness and quick, effective action is what is required. Applying solutions that are evidence based and shown to work, backed by training, is the most effective strategy.

That said, a lot of talk about how Green New Deal is “too aggressive” misses the point.
We do need to act, and we need to act now.

Vox:

To put it bluntly: this is not normal. We are not in an era of normal politics. There is no precedent for the climate crisis, its dangers or its opportunities. Above all, it calls for courage and fresh thinking.

Rather than jumping into individual responses, I want to take a step back and try to situate the Green New Deal in our current historical context, at least as I see it. Then it will be clearer why I think so many critics have missed the mark.

The earth’s climate has already warmed 1 degree Celsius from preindustrial levels, unleashing a cascade of super-charged heat waves, wildfires, hurricanes, storms, water shortages, migrations, and conflicts. Climate change is not a threat; it’s here. The climate has changed.

And it is changing more rapidly than at any time in millions of years. The human race is leaving behind the climatic conditions in which all of advanced civilization developed, going back to the beginning of agriculture. We have no certainty about what will happen next, mainly because we have no certainty about what we will do, but we know the changes are bad and going to get much worse, even with concerted global action.

Without concerted global action — and with a few bad breaks on climate sensitivity, population, and fossil fuel projections — the worst-case scenarios include civilization-threatening consequences that will be utterly disastrous for most of the planet’s species.

At the moment, nobody is doing a better job of describing the tragic unfolding reality of climate change than author David Wallace-Wells, especially in his new book The Uninhabitable Earth, but also in this New York Times piece. Here’s just a paragraph of coming attractions:

All of that is expected when the global average temperature rises 2 degrees Celsius.

Jeffrey Sachs in CNN:

The right wing and corporate lobbies are already hyperventilating: It is unachievable; it will bankrupt us; it will make us into Venezuela.
These claims are dead wrong. The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable. This will become clear as the agenda is turned into specific legislation for energy, health care, higher education, and more.
The Green New Deal combines ideas across several parts of the economy because the ultimate goal is sustainable development. That means an economy that delivers a package deal: good incomes, social fairness, and environmental sustainability. Around the world, governments are aiming for the same end — a “triple-bottom line” of economic, social, and environmental objectives.

In the US, the economy is feeding the wealth of billionaires while leaving tens of millions of households with no financial cushion at all. Meanwhile, the fossil-fuel lobby continues to endanger the planet by promoting the use of fuels that contribute to climate change, raising the risk of mega-floods, droughts, hurricanes, and heat waves, claiming many lives and costing the US more than $450 billion during 2016-18, or more than $150 billion per year on average.

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AZCentral:

The energy market in the Southwest has hit a turning point, with battery prices falling so low that the technology is now the least expensive way to provide customers electricity, according to officials from Arizona Public Service Co.

To take advantage of the historic shift, the state’s biggest electric company will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to add large, building-size batteries to the power grid across Arizona.

APS will use the batteries to soak up surplus energy on the grid early in the day when solar power plants across the region are pumping out more electricity than the homes and businesses require.

The batteries will then discharge that power in the evening, when the sun sets, solar panels power down for the night, and customers turn on their lights and need the energy.

The 850 megawatts of batteries planned by APS will make better use of the solar already on the grid. They will allow for more people to add solar panels to their roofs and utilities to build more solar power plants without creating problems on the grid, officials said.

“Eight-hundred fifty megawatts shows you how incredibly transformational what we’ve seen happening on the grid is and how quickly that has been evolving,” APS President Jeff Guldner said.

“The holy grail in the industry right now is trying to figure out how we capture solar energy during the day when there is tons on the system and then use it later when the sun goes down,” he said.

The amount of batteries APS plans to add by 2025 is more than the 338 megawatts of batteries the entire U.S. utility industry added last year, based on estimates from the Edison Electric Institute.

APS does not offer cost estimates for the entire project because of proprietary information from its construction partners and because not all the work has been put out to bid.

But in general, 100 megawatts of battery capacity with four hour of storage runs about $120 million, APS officials said.

That would put the total cost of the projects at more than $1 billion. APS will own some of the projects and purchase power from others.

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RawStory:

According to a congressional report, a group that includes former senior U.S. government officials is lobbying to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia. As an expert focusing on the Middle East and the spread of nuclear weapons, I believe these efforts raise important legal, economic and strategic concerns.

It is understandable that the Trump administration might want to support the U.S. nuclear industry, which is shrinking at home. However, the congressional report raised concerns that the group seeking to make the sale may have have sought to carry it out without going through the process required under U.S. law. Doing so could give Saudi Arabia U.S. nuclear technology without appropriate guarantees that it would not be used for nuclear weapons in the future.

A competitive global market

Exporting nuclear technology is lucrative, and many U.S. policymakers have long believedthat it promotes U.S. foreign policy interests. However, the international market is shrinking, and competition between suppliers is stiff.

Private U.S. nuclear companies have trouble competing against state-supported international suppliers in Russia and China. These companies offer complete construction and operation packages with attractive financing options. Russia, for example, is willing to accept spent fuel from the reactor it supplies, relieving host countries of the need to manage nuclear waste. And China can offer lower construction costs.

Saudi Arabia declared in 2011 that it planned to spend over US$80 billion to construct 16 reactors, and U.S. companies want to provide them. Many U.S. officials see the decadeslong relationships involved in a nuclear sale as an opportunity to influence Riyadh’s nuclear future and preserve U.S. influence in the Saudi kingdom.

Of the 56 new reactors under construction worldwide, 39 are in Asia.
IAEA, CC BY-ND

Why does Saudi Arabia want nuclear power?

With the world’s second-largest known petroleum reserves, abundant untapped supplies of natural gas and high potential for solar energy, why is Saudi Arabia shopping for nuclear power? Some of its motives are benign, but others are worrisome.

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Below, more about William Happer, tobacco shill and climate denier.

Desmogblog:

In 1989, at the same time the George C. Marshall Institute initiated its “Climate Change Policy Program,” the GMI released a report arguing that “cyclical variations in the intensity of the sun would offset any climate change associated with elevated greenhouse gases.” Although it was refuted by the IPCC, the report was used by the Bush Sr. Administration to argue for a more lenient climate change policy. [2]

The George C. Marshall Institute’s “Climate Change Policy” program started in 1989 as a “critical examination of the scientific basis for global climate change policy.” According to the Marshall Institute, a major part of the program was “communicating the findings to policy makers, the media and the public policy community.” [3]

In a 2009 essay, former Executive Director Matthew B. Crawford had this to say about his initial experience with the Marshall Institute (emphasis added):

“… certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn’t fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning.” [4]

Newsweek has described the George C. Marshall Institute as a “central cog in the denial machine,” and Naomi Oreskes has said that the Institute has lobbied politically to create a false perception of scientific uncertainty over the negative effects of second-hand smoke, the carcinogenic nature of tobacco smoking, the existence of acid rain, and on the evidence between CFCs and ozone depletion. [5]  [22]

Marshall Institute Shuts Down

The Marshall Institute shut down in September, 2015. William Happer told E&E News that funding from fossil fuel companies to the Marshall Institute had been cut down in recent years: [51]

“You can forget about asking money from Exxon; they send all their money to Stanford [University] or to Princeton [University] for greenwashing,” Happer said. [51]

For a really great primer on climate science do check out and bookmark  Mike MacCracken’s point by point takedown of Dr. Happer’s cracked recitation of denial talking points in testimony before congress.

 

Mavis Staples, can’t get enough of this voice.

northbranch222

In North Branch, MI, residents crowded into Deerfield Township Hall for a rousing dose of desperately needed real info on renewables – my Wind101 presentation. They’ve been subjected to a steady stream of disinformation, abuse and trolling at the hands of a small but screechy band of local anti-renewable conspiracy theorists.

I’ve had a busy week of traveling and speaking, which finally ended with celebratory sloppy joes, nachos and Budweiser at a local farmhouse.
Citizens here tell me they are tired of “being punching bags” for surly and misinformed anti-winders, and they are standing up – on social media and in person at local meetings.
I wish I’d had a lapel camera to capture the “Agenda 21” nut job that was convinced I was part of a Merovingian Illuminati underground, but otherwise most of  the crowd was enthusiastic and rapt.

northbrnch

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midwestbobm

Wunderground:

A powerful storm, more typical of March, will cause winds to howl and may knock down trees, cut power and lead to travel problems from the Plains to the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

For some, it may seem more like an inland hurricane, rather than a winter storm.

Gusts, in most cases, will fall short of that of a hurricane and fall within the range of 40-60 mph.

However, a few gusts may reach hurricane force, or 74 mph, over open areas of the Great Plains, along the shores of the Great Lakes and the ridges in the central Appalachians.