Posts tagged climate
Posts tagged climate
Renewable-energy developers in Germany, the world’s biggest solar market, added a record number of panels last year even after subsidies were cut back. Chancellor Angela Merkel has cut solar-power subsidies to reduce the burden on consumer electricity bills of Germany’s renewable-energy expansion. Still, the above-market tariffs remain at levels that allow developers to profit, while component prices have continued to drop amid an oversupply.
Germany once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion”, doling out generous subsidies—totaling more than $130 billion, according to research from Germany’s Ruhr University—to citizens to invest in solar energy. But now the German government is vowing to cut the subsidies sooner than planned and to phase out support over the next five years.
9/2012 The technology makes wafers that are less than a third the thickness of conventional wafers. It wastes less silicon during processing than conventional approaches and greatly reduces the amount of equipment needed to make the wafers, potentially cutting wafer costs in half. Wafers account for a third to a half of the cost of making a solar panel.
12/2012Led by Stephen Chou, the team has made two dramatic improvements: reducing reflectivity, and more effectively capturing the light that isn’t reflected. The new cell
is also capable of capturing a large amount of sunlight even when the sunlight is dispersed on cloudy days, which results in an amazing 81% increase in efficiency under indirect lighting conditions when compared to conventional organic solar cell technology. All told, PlaCSH is up to 175% more efficient than conventional solar cells.
A germany-based manufacturer nanosolar has recently completed a 1-megawatt solar panel installation in california, demonstrating the efficacy of the company’s solar cells, which are printed with metallic ink on rolls of aluminum foil rather than fabricated as in conventional solar panels. as a result of the replacement of silicon with less expensive metals, and the use of printing rather than constructive technology, the energy costs under 1 USD per watt, whereas conventional cells approximate 2-3 USD per watt. in addition, the flexibility and light weight of the cells eases transport costs and
increases the range of locations in which they can be installed.
Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region holds some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the United States, even if they’re not as well-known as famous spots like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Historically, advocates in the state have worked hard to protect its environment, but all of that is starting to change as Republicans have seized control of the state legislature and Governor Scott Walker sits prepared to approve legislation that may repeal key environmental regulations, like the moratorium on sulfide mining passed in 1997 by the then-Democratic legislature.
For those not in the know, sulfide mining is a messy, polluting process. It’s used when sulfur-rich ores are mined and processed to get at the goodies inside, like gold and silver. This involves the generation of a large amount of acid waste, a historic and huge problem for the mining industry because it’s difficult to manage and contain. Wisconsin’s legislators eliminated the problem by banning sulfide mining, but mining companies have started fighting back, laying the groundwork to access the riches they think lie beneath Wisconsin’s soil. They’re arguing that mining will bring needed revenue into the state, but environmental advocates aren’t sold on the idea, concerned about the high environmental cost associated with mining.
THIS IS SO AWESOME
Penn State University scientist Michael Mann, whose work showed that Earth’s temperatures have risen along with increased fossil fuel use, announced Tuesday he had filed a lawsuit against the conservative National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute for defamation, complaining that they falsely accused him of academic fraud and compared him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.
Organizations that deny climate change is a serious problem have condemned Mann for years.
Mann was one of the scientists whose emails were hacked from a climate research center at Britain’s University of East Anglia in 2009. Climate skeptics quoted portions of the emails in an attempt to discredit the scientists in what the critics dubbed “Climategate.” But government and university investigations found no misconduct.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, argued that the two conservative outlets and two writers named in the suit, Rand Simberg and Mark Steyn, “maliciously accused (Mann) of academic fraud, the most fundamental defamation that can be levied against a scientist and a professor.”
Simberg, in a Competitive Enterprise Institute blog post in July, wrote that “Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he molested and tortured data.”
In a blog post in National Review Online, Steyn quoted the Competitive Enterprise Institute blog’s Sandusky comment in full.
Mann is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State and shared with other climate scientists in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
“There is a larger context for this latest development, namely the onslaught of dishonest and libelous attacks that climate scientists have endured for years by dishonest front groups seeking to discredit the case for concern over climate change,” Mann said in an email. “It’s why I wrote my book ‘The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars’ about my experiences as a public figure in the climate change debate, and it’s why I filed this suit.”
His book, published this year, was about being at the center of attacks on climate science.
Senator James Inhofe, one of Congress’ staunchest deniers of climate change and stalwart human obstacle to federal action on this unprecedented global crisis, is the lucky recipient of the Center for Biological Diversity’s 2012 Rubber Dodo Award, which is given annually to those who have done the most to drive endangered species extinct.
When it comes to denying the climate crisis — the single-greatest threat now facing life on Earth — James Inhofe has few peers. The Oklahoma Republican is the ringleader of anti-science climate-deniers in Congress and a driving force behind the tragic lack of U.S. action to tackle this complex problem. 2012 saw the publication, to resoundingly little critical acclaim, of Sen. Inhofe’s book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, by WND Press, an entity also known for its “birther” campaign against President Barack Obama.
“As climate change ravages the world, Senator Inhofe insists that we deny the reality unfolding in front of us and choose instead to blunder headlong into chaos,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “Senator Inhofe gets the 2012 Rubber Dodo Award for being at the vanguard of the retrograde climate-denier movement.”
This year is on track to become the warmest on record; some 40,000 temperature records have been broken in the United States in 2012 alone, while Arctic sea ice has melted to a record low. The year has also seen record droughts, crop failures, massive wildfires, floods and other unmistakable signals that manmade global warming is tightening its grip, threatening people and wildlife around the globe.
“Senator Inhofe’s pet theory that climate change is an elaborate hoax would be hilarious, if only he weren’t an elected representative of the American people,” Suckling said. “If he were, say, a performance artist, it’d be really funny. But sadly he has the power to affect U.S. climate policy. The United States has a chance — and a duty — to take significant steps to slow the climate crisis, and a brief window of time before it’s too late for us to do so. Deniers like Inhofe, in positions of leadership, are dooming future generations of people to a far more difficult world.”
More than 15,000 people cast their votes in this year’s Rubber Dodo contest. Other official nominees were Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who put a rider on a must-pass bill that stripped Endangered Species Act protection from wolves, and Shell Oil, a company bound and determined to pursue dangerous oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
Shell’s vice president of Alaska operations was quoted last Saturday as saying “Happy, happy, happy.” Then the ice showed up.
Hours after Shell began drilling in the Artic, operations were forced to shut down to accommodate a drifting 30-mile by 12-mile hunk of sea ice, moving at a rate of a mile every 30 minutes. That’s what ice does in the Arctic—it is unpredictable, unforgiving and moves in with the high winds just in time to ruin a happy day.
A week ago, the Department of the Interior approved drilling in “non-oil-bearing zones” and Shell immediately began drilling its first exploration well in the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Northern Alaska in the early morning hours of Sunday. The drilling lasted only a few hours before the company took a “precautionary” move and disconnected the drilling rig from the seafloor anchors and temporarily moved the vessel off the well site. One wonders what would happen if such an ice mass moved in while Shell was trying to respond to a major oil spill.
The window for Shell to strike oil this season is rapidly closing as Shell is approved only until Sept. 24 for drilling into the oil-bearing zones. The company has asked for an 18-day extension but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that extension decisions won’t happen until after the final permits to drill deeper have been issued.
Drilling deeper this year has not been possible so far because of challenges with the Arctic Challenger, the oil spill response and containment barge, which had been undergoing retrofitting and testing in Washington State for months. Until Shell gets Coast Guard and various agency approvals of this vessel and moves it in place in the Arctic, Shell can’t drill for oil.
The Arctic Challenger left Bellingham, Washington in the middle of the night last week and hasn’t been seen since. Sea testing? On its way to the Arctic while undergoing sea testing? We don’t really know, even though the administration and Shell both promised the communities of the Arctic and the rest of us—transparency.
The latest government approvals to Shell’s ever-changing set of standards, specifically the air pollution and sea-worthiness of vessels, have been made without any public process and in some cases the official documents have only been released to the public after repeated requests. The public has yet to see Shell’s official request to extend the drilling season. That’s about as transparent as the gooey waters of an oil spill.
Earthjustice continues to represent its clients in challenging flawed and unlawful oil-spill response plans, air pollution permits and leases. Our aim remains to protect the pristine American Arctic waters from harmful industrial activities in the short term with a long-term focus of conservation based on best available science.
The implications of a failed Arctic ecosystem will affect us all through the rapid effects of climate change. And there’s nothing “happy, happy, happy” about that.
What a Bad Idea……….Psychopaths Drilling for Oil in the Arctic.
The ocean touches nearly every aspect of our lives making it essential to the economic, social, and ecological well-being of everyone, everywhere.
The Ocean Health Index is a new, comprehensive measure of the ocean’s overall condition – one that treats people and nature as integrated parts of a healthy system.
Soon it could be ice free for the first time since humans walked the Earth. This would be not only devastating for the people, polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species that live there - but for the rest of us too.
It is official: This year’s spring was the warmest on record and this May was the second warmest, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. NOAA scientists found that the average temperature — 64.3 degrees F – for the contiguous US during May was 3.3 degrees higher than the long-term average. All told, the data reveal that, so far, 2012 has been the warmest year-to-date since recordkeeping began in 1895.
In addition, while rainfall totals varied across the nation in May, the US was drier than average as a whole. The nationally averaged precipitation total was 2.51 inches, which is 0.36 inches below average and 37.4 percent of the contiguous US is experiencing drought conditions. The Southwest in particular has been stricken by drought, alleviated somewhat by Storm Beryl, which made landfall near Jacksonville, Fla., on May 28.
A few more facts about how much hotter it is getting:
Overall, 26 states had May temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Only the Northwest did not see warmer-than-average temperatures; only Oregon and Washington had temperatures that were normal.
31 states experienced record warmth for the season.
The drought and windy created ideal wildfire conditions in the Southwest. Over 210,000 acres of the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico are already charred.
However, some states experienced wetter-than-average temperatures: Oregon experienced record wet and Minnesota and Washington had the third wettest seasons on record.
The June 2011-May 2012 period has been the warmest twelve-month period for any twelve-month period in the contiguous US. In that period, the second warmest summer has occurred as well as the fourth warmest winter and, yes, the warmest spring on record.
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.
The subtropical ridge is a significant belt of high pressure situated around the latitudes of 30°N in the Northern Hemisphere and 30°S in the Southern Hemisphere. It is characterized by mostly calm winds, which acts to reduce air quality under its axis by causing fog overnight, and haze during daylight hours caused by the stable atmosphere found near its location.
Environmental groups are trying to build a critical mass around issues like global warming to inspire public action and encourage legislators to get their heads out of the sand. The Sierra Club is working to block new coal burning power plants, a new coalition is organizing actions against a tar sands pipeline, and folks in West Virginia are sitting in trees in an attempt to halt destructive strip mining. It’s great work, but what if it’s not enough? What if it’s too little, too late? What if we never get enough mass for it to ever reach that critical point?
Tundra fires have become more common over the past two decades as average temperatures in the Arctic have risen and sea ice has receded. And according to scientists, there has been a marked increase in lightning activity on the North Slope in the last two decades. Warmer temperatures may allow more vegetation to grow — which, in turn, makes it more of a fire risk when lightning strikes.
Normally, the tundra in this region of Alaska, near the Anaktuvuk River, takes up more CO2 from photosynthesis than it gives off every year from natural decomposition.
Back in 2007, lightning struck the remote North Slope of Alaska, igniting the largest fire to hit the region since modern recording began in the 1950s. The fire burned for nearly three months until snowfall finally put it out in October. It left behind a charred scar of 400 square miles — .
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced a settlement with Caterpillar Inc. to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations for shipping more than 590,000 highway and non-road diesel engines without the correct emissions controls. Caterpillar also allegedly failed to comply with emission control reporting and engine-labeling requirements. Caterpillar will pay a $2.55 million penalty, continue a recall of noncompliant engines and reduce excess emissions. Engines operating without proper emissions controls can emit excess nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter and other air pollutants that impact people’s health, potentially causing respiratory illnesses and aggravating asthma.