NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: HOW BIOFUELS CAN BE IMPORTANT NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 30: SOLAR AND UTILITIES SHAPE EACH OTHER; ‘HIDDEN’ WIND COSTS DWARFED BY ‘HIDDEN’ FOSSIL COSTS; GM’S RUN FOR THE 200 MILE CHARGE
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: A CHRONICLE OF EXTREME CLIMATE IMPACTS
  • QUICK NEWS, July 29: OFFICIAL FORECASTS OVERLOOK NEW ENERGY; NEW ENERGY NEEDS NEW TRANSMISSION; BRITISH COLUMBIA EMISSIONS TAX SUCCEEDING
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: MORE AND SMARTER MEDIA COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2014
  • QUICK NEWS, July 28: CLIMATE SKEPTICS REACHING ‘CATASTROPHIC’ NUMBERS; THE COST OF THE EPA EMISSIONS CUTS; GEOTHERMAL DRILL SKILL ADVANCES
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica
  • Weekend Video: Warmest May And June Ever And Non-Stop Record Heat
  • Weekend Video: Meet The Microgrid
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- STAR WARS PLANET TATOOINE’S CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BIG NEW THREAT TO CLIMATE FROM COAL-TO-GAS IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA VILLAGE OF 2,400 GOES 100% SOLAR WITH BATTERIES, MICROGRID
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMANY IS WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT MAJOR ECONOMY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 24:

  • TTTA Thursday-CLIMATE FACTS VERSUS CLIMATE CULTURE
  • TTTA Thursday-MONEY IN WIND UP FOR QUARTER, DOWN FROM 2013
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST BIOFUELS CAN BE NEW ENERGY – UCS STUDY
  • TTTA Thursday-TESLA CHAMPIONS THE PLUG AND THE CAR
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Thursday, July 31, 2014

    HOPE EMERGES IN THE CLIMATE FIGHT

    10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change; From action in China and the US to falling solar costs and rising electric car sales, there is cause to be hopeful

    Karl Mathiesen, 30 July 2014 (UK Guardian)

    "For the last few months, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have been at record levels unseen in over 800,000 years…Future generations will no doubt wonder at our response, given the scale of the threat. It’s known that death, poverty and suffering await millions, and yet governments still vacillate…But solutions are available. Here are ten reasons to be hopeful that humans will rise to the challenge…1) Barack Obama has made it one of his defining issues…2) China has ordered coal power plants to close…3) The cost of solar has fallen by two thirds…4) People are taking their money out of fossil fuels…5) Bangladeshi women are being retrained as solar technicians…6) Renewable energy will soon take the lion’s share of new power…7) European homes are using 15% less energy than they were in 2000…8) Cutting emissions has become a business imperative…9) Oil is becoming much more expensive to find…10) Electric car sales are doubling each year…” click here for more

    NEW ENERGY CHEAPER, CLEANER THAT NUKES, CLEAN COAL

    Wind Energy Beats Nuclear & Carbon Capture For Global Warming Mitigation

    Mike Barnard, July 29, 2014 (Clean Technica)

    “There’s an enduring myth…that only nuclear can be scaled to sufficient capacity to reduce the impacts of global warming, and that wind energy is much less scalable…And there’s another myth related to carbon capture and sequestration being more significant than renewables…China is the true test bed for maximum scalability of nuclear vs wind. It has a tremendous gap between demand and generation…[It built 16-plus gigawatts of 40.35% capacity factor wind in 2013 and 4.7 gigawatts of 90.9% capacity factor nuclear from 2010 to 2013]…[T]hat’s about 6.5 GW of real capacity of wind energy in one year vs 4.3 GW of real capacity for nuclear over four years. That’s roughly six times more real wind energy capacity than nuclear per year…[N]uclear is a good choice where it can actually be built and where it makes economic sense…But reality limits nuclear growth mostly to China and India…[J]ust solar and wind so far have eliminated perhaps thirteen times the CO2e of all the CCS projects to date [and are being built much more quickly at a much lower cost]…Doing a little math, it’s apparent that CCS will add…16.8 to 19.6 cents per KWh which puts existing coal plants impossibly deep into unprofitable territory…[In the U.S. Midwest]…the total price of newly built wind generation including PPA, PTC, grid interconnections and additional ancillary services is 5.4 cents per KWh and dropping…[T]he heavy lifting will be done by displacing fossil fuel generation with renewables…That’s what the empirical data tells us…” click here for more

    ARIZONA UTILITY PROPOSES ROOFTOP SOLAR LEASING BUSINESS PLAN

    APS wants to put free solar panels on 3,000 homes

    Ryan Randazzo, July 28, 2014 The Arizona Republic

    Arizona Public Service, the state’s dominant electricity provider, filed with regulators for approval of a plan to build rooftop solar for 3,000 customers at no cost and give them each a $30 per month bill credit in return for all the electricity those solar systems deliver to the APS grid. APS expects a cumulative 20 megawatts of solar capacity from its $57 million to $70 million total investment that allots $7,200 to each participating utility customer, either owners or renters with owner consent, with no financial participation or credit check but only APS approval of the involved roof’s solar resource and structural viability. Implicit in the proposal is the recognition by APS of the value of rooftop solar to its system and its non-solar-owning customers. The APS plan will put the utility in direct competition with the solar leasing companies like SolarCity and Sunrun which were its nemesis in last year’s fight over net energy metering and the $30 monthly bill credit being offered in the APS program is significantly more than the perhaps $20 per month savings offered by the solar leasing companies. click here for more

    ENORMOUS NEW ENERGY IN THE GULF STREAM

    Gulf Stream gold: Mining green energy from Atlantic currents; Scientists hopeful for renewable potential from sea turbines, environmentalists concerned about impact on marine life

    Patricia Sagastume, July 14, 2014 (Al Jazeera America)

    “The Gulf Stream meanders clockwise from the Gulf of Mexico, past the mid-Atlantic coast toward Europe. It is one of the most powerful currents in the world, and it is full of life…Land-bound humanity is hoping to capitalize on the Gulf Stream’s fast-flowing [endless power as]…a possible solution to Florida’s energy needs…It is believed the Gulf Stream has the potential energy…to supply Florida with 35 percent of its electrical needs...[T]here is also concern that there might be an ecological downside. According to [the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management], the environmental impact would be minimal. But no one wants to take any chances as the global quest for clean energy aims to bring full-scale commercial deployments of devices, turbines and cable-to-shore systems in the ocean. Many believe it still remains uncertain how life in the current will respond [but it is focus of a five-year study by Florida Atlantic University’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center]…” click here for more

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: HOW BIOFUELS CAN BE IMPORTANT NEW ENERGY

    Turning Agricultural Residues and Manure into Bioenergy (2014)

    July 2014 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    Clean, renewable energy resources for transportation and electricity are an important part of the solution to the climate, economic, environmental, and security challenges posed by our fossil fuel use. Bioenergy—the use of biomass, including plant materials and manure, to produce renewable fuels for transportation and to generate electricity—can provide a sustainable, low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels while enabling communities to benefit from local resources. Bioenergy is one of several elements of a comprehensive climate strategy that can cut projected U.S. oil use in half by 2030, and help put the nation on track to phase out the use of coal in producing electricity.

    The key to using biomass resources sustainably is to focus on the right ones, and to develop them in responsible ways, including at appropriate scales. To identify today’s most sustainable biomass resources and scales of operation, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) assessed how much biomass the United States could produce and use while carefully balancing energy and environmental tradeoffs. We found that the nation could tap nearly 680 million tons of biomass resources each year by 2030 (UCS 2012). That’s enough to produce more than 10 billion gallons of ethanol, or 166 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity—4 percent of total U.S. power consumption in 2010.

    Agricultural biomass can be an important energy resource. Crop residues, in particular, are one of the largest biomass resources in the United States. The best options for using agricultural biomass and manure to produce bioenergy depend on local factors, including the type and scale of resources in each location. With the potential to tap resources around the country (see Figure 2, p. 4), the use of agricultural residues and manure to produce bioenergy offers a significant opportunity for local and regional economies.

    Two Sources of Sustainable Agricultural Biomass

    Crop Residues

    Crops such as corn, wheat, and rice consist not just of the grains we eat or feed to livestock but also of stalks, husks, cobs, and other biomass unsuitable as direct human food. These residues generally account for about half of the total biomass in U.S.-grown crops.

    Historically, these materials have been used for animal bedding, burned, or left on fields. However, recent scientific advances now allow producers to turn agricultural residues into biomass-based fuels such as ethanol, or to use them to generate electricity. Overall, U.S. agriculture could provide up to 155 million tons of residues for producing bioenergy in 2030 (UCS 2012). And because they are a by-product of today’s primary crops, such residues can be used to produce energy without expanding the amount of land agriculture now occupies (USDA 2009).

    Residues play an important role in farming, protecting soil from erosion and loss of soil carbon, so they should be used for bioenergy only under specific circumstances, and even then, only at certain scales. How much of their crop residues farmers can sustainably remove varies from field to field, or even within a field, depending on soil conditions, the slope of the land, management practices, and the regional climate (Muth et al. 2012). Under some circumstances removing residues will cause problems (such as increased soil erosion) and under other circumstances leaving too much residues behind can prevent soils from drying in spring, and impede timely planting and other field operations.

    While removing residues for use in producing bioenergy absent any other changes in agricultural practices could worsen existing environmental challenges, farmers can adapt their practices to minimize the potential harm. For example, they can use no-till farming and plant cover crops to reduce soil erosion and water pollution. In so doing, they can boost agricultural productivity while expanding the amount of residues available for bioenergy even beyond our estimates (Wiggins et al. 2012).

    Power plant owners can use agricultural residues to generate electricity but agricultural residues are usually not suitable for direct burning: they are processed into pellets or other forms before being used to produce power.

    In corn-growing regions, large quantities of corn stover— leaves and stalks left over after corn is harvested—are available to produce ethanol (ORNL 2011). Corn residues are abundant near existing facilities fitted to produce and distribute ethanol made from corn grain. Indeed, companies are building the first three commercial-scale efforts to produce ethanol from agricultural residues near such existing facilities in Iowa and Kansas. Producing ethanol from corn grain and corn stover at the same location can reduce the use of natural gas and electricity by the combined facility, curbing the environmental footprint of the fuel.

    Waste from Livestock

    Livestock raised in very large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) produce nearly unmanageable concentrations of manure, which can be used for bioenergy, but also regularly pollute water supplies in many parts of the country.

    Fortunately, on the smaller end of the livestock production scale, farmers can use anaerobic digesters to convert manure into biogas while reaping economic and environmental benefits. They can use the biogas to provide heat and power on the farm, or it can be further purified and sold as renewable natural gas for use elsewhere. Using anaerobic digesters to extract biogas from manure at this scale can improve water quality, reduce methane emissions from manure, and allow farmers to return nutrients to their soils.

    Our analysis shows that the United States can tap almost 60 million tons of manure to produce bioenergy in 2030 (UCS 2012). This resource is best used close to where livestock produce it, and would ideally be integrated with crop production.

    Key States with Large Amounts of Agricultural Residues and Manure

    The top 10 states (as shown in the map on p. 1) with the potential to use agricultural co-products, including crop residues and manure, to produce bioenergy include these four:

    Iowa : 31 Million Tons

    With a projected 31 million tons of agricultural residues available in 2030, Iowa has the largest potential to use such resources to produce bioenergy. The state already has extensive resources and infrastructure for producing ethanol from corn grain—and experience in doing so. Producers are building two of the first large-scale commercial refineries for using corn stover to make biofuel next to existing facilities for making ethanol from corn grain. Corn stover from Iowa farms could yield 1 billion additional gallons of ethanol each year in 2030—an expansion of more than 25 percent—without the use of one extra kernel of corn. Iowa is also the nation’s leading pork producer, and the state’s farmers can use the associated manure to produce biogas.

    Arkansas : 10.3 Million Tons

    Despite its relatively small population, Arkansas ranks first in the nation in rice production, second in poultry, and third in cotton production. This impressive agricultural output means that Arkansas farmers have substantial opportunities to provide crop residues and manure for bioenergy. Rice hulls are the largest potential feedstock for biofuel from Arkansas crops, and manure could be a significant source of biogas.

    Indeed, with the potential to make more than 10 million tons of agricultural residues available in 2030, Arkansas is poised to become a leader in bioenergy.

    Texas : 9.8 Million Tons

    One of the nation’s leading agricultural states and home to a sizable cattle industry, Texas could become a major producer of bioenergy from agricultural residues and manure. Wide variations in climate across the state mean that different regions produce different amounts and types of agricultural biomass. Two significant opportunities include field residue and cotton gin by-products, together with manure from cattle. Residues from rice fields and rice hulls, and sugarcane bagasse—the material that remains after sugar production— can also provide significant biomass for bioenergy. Overall, nearly 10 million tons of agricultural co-products can be available for use in producing clean fuel and electricity in Texas in 2030.

    California: 9.2 Million Tons

    California leads the nation with ambitious climate and air-quality policies, and its high-tech businesses are thriving. However, the state also has the seventh-largest potential to provide agricultural co-products for producing bioenergy. California is the nation’s number-one agricultural state, and its farmers produce a wide range of fruits, vegetables, milk, and meat. Their top-three commodities by value are milk, grapes, and almonds—and that means manure and vineyard and orchard prunings are readily available. California has the potential to provide more than 9 million tons of crop residues and manure in 2030, including more than half of the vineyard and orchard prunings available nationwide. California is also a major producer of rice, making rice straw another important source of agricultural residues in the state.

    A Promising Path

    Biofuels and biopower already play a significant role in our fuel and electricity mix, and have the potential to make an even greater contribution. Researchers at universities across the country are doing pioneering work on converting biomass into biofuels and other chemicals and products.

    These researchers are especially active at land grant universities, which have an important role to play in improving agriculture e in the public interest through teaching and research.

    For example, engineers, agronomists, and biologists at Iowa State University’s BioCentury Research Farm are investigating new ways of processing agricultural residues and other advanced feedstocks into biofuels, while social scientists are analyzing the economic impact of bioenergy on Iowa agriculture.

    Developing the technologies, practices, and policies needed to use agricultural biomass resources responsibly will ensure that communities across the country benefit both financially and environmentally while the nation curbs its oil and coal use and global warming emissions. However, realizing this opportunity will require private investment and smart public policy.

    Moving Toward a Vision of Healthy Food, Healthy Farms, and Low-Carbon Fuels

    While agricultural residues and manure are available at large scale from today’s U.S. agricultural system, the nation could develop even better biomass resources over the long term. In particular, perennial crops can play a valuable role as part of an integrated system that improves soil and water quality and reduces the use of chemicals. UCS has a vision for the future of agriculture that includes a better balance among healthy food crops, fewer and less-concentrated livestock, soil-improving cover crops, and low-impact perennial crops for producing energy (UCS 2013).

    To realize this vision, we need to make progress on the technology for producing biomass-based fuels and on the transformation of our agricultural system to produce a balanced harvest of healthy food and sustainable biomass at a sensible scale.

    Managed well, these transformations will complement each other. However, both will take time, so it makes sense to develop the technology for producing biofuel from the resources we have today while we work to improve the agricultural system as a whole over time.

    Pursuing a smart path forward for bioenergy—along with improving the efficiency of our vehicles and developing advanced vehicle technology—can help the nation cut its projected oil use by half in 20 years. To learn more about the UCS Half the Oil plan, visit www.halftheoil.org. You can also read more about our vision for the future of agriculture at www.ucsusa.org/ healthyfarmvision.

    QUICK NEWS, July 30: SOLAR AND UTILITIES SHAPE EACH OTHER; ‘HIDDEN’ WIND COSTS DWARFED BY ‘HIDDEN’ FOSSIL COSTS; GM’S RUN FOR THE 200 MILE CHARGE

    SOLAR AND UTILITIES SHAPE EACH OTHER SEPA Analysis Identifies Major Trends in Growth of U.S. Solar Generation Market; First Quarter of 2014 Shows 229 Percent Year-Over-Year Jump in Utility-Scale Installations

    July 28, 2014 (Solar Electric Power Association)

    “…[There was] a 49-percent growth in the utility-scale solar market in the United States from 2013 to 2014…[and total] accumulated solar capacity now stands at 10.7 gigawatts (GW) at more than 475,000 locations across the county [according to the seventh annual Utility Solar Trends report from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA)]…[It describes three important] market drivers…[1-Key] issues of customer compensation and rate design – that is, net metering, value of solar and customer fees – have come to the fore as utilities and, solar industry and consumer stakeholders seek fair and cost-effective paths toward increased levels of distributed solar adoption. Solutions will differ across states and utilities…[2-Utility] solar is now the industry’s largest market segment. But uncertainty has emerged…as utilities close in on meeting state-mandated renewable energy standards and developers anticipate the step-down of the federal investment tax credit coming in 2017…[3-Utilities] are in the early phases of developing new and innovative solar options…” click here for more

    ‘HIDDEN’ WIND COSTS DWARFED BY ‘HIDDEN’ FOSSIL COSTS ‘Hidden Cost’ Of Wind Power vs. Conventional Power Plants

    Tina Casey, July 27, 2014 (Clean Technica)

    “…[A so-called hidden cost of wind power] has been touted by the fossil fuel industry as an argument against integrating more wind power into the grid, but according to [calculations by the American Wind Energy Association] the ‘hidden cost’ for conventional power plants in Texas is 17 times more than wind…[The] calculations apply to the cost of contingency reserves needed in case of power plant failure…[A] typical Texas household with a monthly electricity bill of $128 per month would be shelling out 4.3 cents per month for the additional contingency reserves required by wind power…[Using the example of Texas grid operator ERCOT, which requires 2800 megawatts of fast-acting contingency reserves for a conventional power plant failure, the cost is] 76 cents per month for a typical Texas household…In order to make the case that wind energy is more expensive to integrate into the grid, the fossil fuel industry has been ignoring the [17 times higher] cost of integrating conventional power plants…” click here for more

    GM’S RUN FOR THE 200 MILE CHARGE GM isn't alone in race to 200-mile electric car; New rumors don’t change my view: GM will have two different plug-in electric car platforms in the next one to three years.

    July 28, 2014 (MSN)

    “A few days ago, the Internet was again abuzz with rumors about a future electric car from General Motors…[that] would have 200 miles of range, be available by the end of 2016 and be part of the Chevrolet Sonic nameplate…LG has recently said that it will have a battery capable of providing 200 miles of range by 2016. LG is GM's [and other automakers’] current battery supplier…At its core, GM likely has two separate plug-in cars planned for release in the next one to three years: [A] plug-in hybrid to replace the current Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR…[with an electric range of approximately 40 miles, and then a gasoline engine adding normal car range]…Most industry observers think GM is taking close to $8,000 in cost out of the Volt, for this all-new 2.0 model…[T]he second, and far more difficult, electric GM car…would be a 200 mile range pure electric car that could be sold at a profit for as little money as possible…” click here for more

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: A CHRONICLE OF EXTREME CLIMATE IMPACTS

    Atlas Of Mortality And Economic Losses From Weather, Climate And Water Extremes (1970–2012)

    July 2014 (World Meteorological Organization)

    Background

    Every year, disasters related to weather, climate and water hazards cause significant loss of life and set back economic and social development by years, if not decades From 1970 to 2012, 8 835 disasters, 1 94 million deaths and US$ 2 4 trillion of economic losses were reported globally1 as a result of droughts, floods, windstorms, tropical cyclones, storm surges, extreme temperatures, landslides and wildfires, or by health epidemics and insect infestations directly linked to meteorological and hydrological conditions This Atlas, a joint publication of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium (see Annex I), describes the distribution and impacts of weather-, climate- and water-related disasters from 1970 to 2012 It also highlights the actions and programmes led or coordinated by WMO to reduce the impacts of such disasters.

    Under the cross-cutting framework of its Disaster Risk Reduction Programme, WMO has launched an initiative to develop guidelines, recommended practices and standards s for hazard definition and classification to support the geo-referencing of loss and damage data and risk analysis As part of the activities of this Programme, WMO is working in cooperation with its technical commissions and programmes and the NMHSs of its 191 Members to develop statistical hazard mapping as well as forecasting and forward-looking modelling tools and methodologies for meteorological, hydrological and climate-related hazards to support loss and damage data collection and analysis and probabilistic risk modelling This initiative, combined with national capacity development projects, will enable countries to collect and develop hazard databases and metadata, carry out systematic geo-referencing of related loss and damage data and support risk modelling at local, national, regional and global scales.

    Underpinning this initiative is the significant capacity that WMO and its 191 Members have developed for gathering and disseminating data through two globally coordinated operational systems – the WMO Integrated Global Observing System and the WMO Information System.

    In addition, World Meteorological Centres, Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (including Regional Climate Centres) and NMHSs provide weather and climate analyses, warnings, forecasts and other information services through the WMO Global Data-processing and Forecasting System on a 24/7 basis These various centres are also involved in other vital programmes and activities to support meteorological, hydrological and climate services for disaster risk reduction, such as the Tropical Cyclone Programme, which facilitates the development of operational tropical cyclone bulletins and information.

    WMO projects such as the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project use the resources and modelling capabilities of NMHSs to assist the severe weather forecasting and warning services of less developed NMHSs, in particular in least developed countries and small island developing States Other relevant WMO contributions include activities for the monitoring and integrated management of floods and droughts, the forecasting of storm surges and coastal inundation, climate prediction organized by Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), coordination of El Niño-Southern Oscillation reports, and the annual statements on the status of the global climate All of these activities ensure delivery of reliable and timely meteorological, climate and other related environmental services and information on hazards to decision-makers building on the WMO Strategy for Service Delivery.

    The Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2012) is a first step by the new partnership of WMO and CRED to engage their respective national and global networks in improving national disaster loss and damage databases by linking them to the hazard information collected by WMO and its Members.

    Disaster database used for the analysis

    The analysis provided in this Atlas is based on the CRED EM-DAT database2, which contains data on disasters caused by several types of natural hazards – geophysical, meteorological, climatological, hydrological and biological – and technological disasters dating back to the year 1900. Of the over 20 700 reported disasters listed in the database, 62 per cent were caused by natural hazards and 38 per cent were technological. The objective of developing and maintaining this database is to provide evidence to support humanitarian actions and the development of national and international programmes.

    The disasters included in this report are classified as meteorological (storms), climatological (droughts, extreme temperatures and wildfires) and hydrological (floods and mass movement wet, which includes subsidence, rockfalls, avalanches and landslides). These categories were developed by CRED along with a number of its partners engaged in collecting loss and damage data associated with natural hazards (see Annex II, Table 1). Through the long experience of CRED in data collection and management, EM-DAT has provided a unique, public and global reference database of reported disasters. It ensures transparency through normative rules, clearly stated definitions and methodologies and selective validation methods and tools. Information sources were selected to describe disasters and their related losses as accurately as possible in EM-DAT (Annex II, Table 2). All events reported in EM-DAT should, moreover, meet the defined selection criteria (Annex II, Table 5).

    Over the years, data entry and delivery have become automated, making it easier to compare EM-DAT data across time and space. Thus, the quality and amount of loss and damage data from reported disasters have increased over time…

    Global

    From 1970 to 2012, 8 835 weather-, climate- and water-related disasters were reported globally. Together they caused the loss of 1.94 million lives and economic damages of US$ 2.4 trillion. The 10 worst reported disasters in terms of human lives lost represented only 0.1 per cent of the total number of events, but accounted for 69 per cent (1.34 million) of the total deaths. The 10 most costly disasters accounted for 19 per cent (US$ 443.6 billion) of overall economic losses. Storms, droughts, floods and extreme temperatures all figure on both lists of the worst disasters.

    Storms and floods accounted for 79 per cent of the total number of disasters due to weather, water and climate extremes and caused 54 per cent of deaths and 84 per cent of economic losses. Droughts caused 35 per cent of deaths, mainly due to the severe African droughts of 1975, 1983 and 1984.

    The 10 worst reported disasters in terms of lives lost occurred primarily in least developed and developing countries, whereas the economic losses occurred primarily in developed countries and in countries with economies in transition.

    Africa

    In Africa, from 1970 to 2012, 1 319 reported disasters caused the loss of 698 380 lives and economic damages of US$ 26.6 billion. Although floods were the most prevalent type of disaster (61 per cent), droughts led to the highest number of deaths, accounting for some 96 per cent of all lives lost to weather-, climate- and water-related disasters in the region. The severe droughts in Ethiopia in 1975 and 1983 and in Mozambique and Sudan in 1983 and 1984 caused the majority of deaths. Storms and floods, however, caused the highest economic losses (78 per cent).

    The 10 worst reported disasters in terms of human deaths accounted for 97 per cent (674 362) of the total number of lives lost. The 10 biggest reported events in terms of economic losses accounted for 42 per cent (US$ 11.3 billion) of all losses…

    Asia

    In Asia, 2 681 disasters were reported in the 1970–2012 period, resulting in the loss of 915 389 lives and economic damages of US$ 789.8 billion. Most of these disasters were attributed to floods (45 per cent) and storms (35 per cent). Storms had the highest impact on the number of deaths, causing 76 per cent of the fatalities, while floods caused the greatest economic loss (60 per cent). Three tropical cyclones were the most significant events, striking Bangladesh and Myanmar and leading to over 500 000 deaths. Economic losses were caused primarily by disasters in China, most notably by the 1998 floods. The 10 worst reported disasters accounted for 73 per cent (665 071) of the total deaths and 29 per cent (US$ 227.5 billion) of economic losses. The increase in mortality during the periods 1991–2000 and 2001–2010 was mainly due to two major tropical cyclones that caused significant loss of life in Bangladesh in 1991 and Myanmar in 2008 (Cyclone Nargis)…

    South America

    During the 43-year period of 1970–2012, South America experienced 696 reported disasters that resulted in 54 995 lives lost and US$ 71.8 billion in economic damages.

    Most of the reported disasters related to weather, climate and water extremes involved floods (57 per cent) and mass movement wet (16 per cent). With regard to impacts, floods caused the greatest number of casualties (80 per cent) and the most economic loss (63 per cent). The most significant event during the period was a flood and wet mass movement that occurred in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in late 1999 and caused 30 000 deaths. This single event skews the loss of life statistics significantly for the entire region.

    The 10 worst reported disasters accounted for 63 per cent (34 688) of total deaths and 43 per cent (US$ 30.7 billion) of economic losses…

    North America, Central America, and the Caribbean

    In North America, Central America and the Caribbean, the period from 1970 to 2012 saw 1 631 reported disasters that caused the loss of 71 246 lives and economic damages of US$ 1 008.5 billion. The majority of the reported hydrometeorological and climate-related disasters in this region were attributed to storms (55 per cent) and floods (30 per cent). Storms were reported to be the greatest cause of casualties (72 per cent) and economic loss (79 per cent). The most significant events in terms of lives lost were Hurricane Mitch in 1998 (17 932 deaths), which affected Honduras and Nicaragua, and Hurricane Fifi in 1974 (8 000 deaths), which affected Honduras. However, in terms of economic damage, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the most costly disaster on record, resulting in US$ 146.9 billion in losses.

    The 10 worst reported disasters in terms of human deaths accounted for 56 per cent (39 879) of the total reported lives lost, and in terms of economic damages, they accounted for 38 per cent (US$ 388.2 billion) of all losses…

    South-West Pacific

    The South-West Pacific experienced 1 156 reported disasters in 1970–2012 that resulted in 54 684 lives lost and US$ 118.4 billion in economic losses. The majority of these disasters were caused by storms (46 per cent) and floods (38 per cent).

    Storms were reported to be the greatest cause of deaths (68 per cent). Economic losses were more evenly distributed amongst the four hazard types: storms (46 per cent), drought (18 per cent), wildfire (14 per cent) and floods (21 per cent). The most significant reported disasters with regard to lives lost were tropical cyclones, mainly in the Philippines, including the event of 1991, which took 5 956 lives. As for economic damages, the 1981 drought in Australia caused US$ 15.2 billion in economic losses and the 1997 wildfires in Indonesia caused US$ 11.4 billion in losses.

    The 10 worst reported disasters accounted for 33 per cent (17 933) of the total deaths and 50 per cent (US$ 59.0 billion) of the economic losses.

    Europe

    In Europe, 1 352 reported disasters caused 149 959 deaths and US$ 375.7 billion in economic damages during the 1970–2012 period.

    Although floods (38 per cent) and storms (30 per cent) were the most reported causes of disasters, extreme temperatures led to the highest proportion of deaths (94 per cent), with 72 210 lives lost during the 2003 European heatwave and 55 736 during the 2010 heatwave in the Russian Federation. In contrast, floods and storms accounted for most of the economic losses during the period.

    The 10 worst reported disasters accounted for 85 per cent (127 058) of total lives lost and 25 per cent (US$ 92.7 billion) of economic losses associated to weather-, water- and climate-related hazards.

    Regional Intercomparisons

    Storms, floods and droughts are among the most recurrent weather-, climate- and water-related hazards around the world. However, the distribution of deaths and economic losses from these hazards varies from Region to Region. For example, the main contributors to the loss of life have been droughts in Africa; storms in Asia, in Central America, North America and the Caribbean, and in the South-West Pacific; floods in South America; and heatwaves in Europe. On the other hand, a large portion of economic losses has been attributed to floods in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe, and to storms in Central America, North America and the Caribbean, and the South-West Pacific…

    QUICK NEWS, July 29: OFFICIAL FORECASTS OVERLOOK NEW ENERGY; NEW ENERGY NEEDS NEW TRANSMISSION; BRITISH COLUMBIA EMISSIONS TAX SUCCEEDING

    OFFICIAL FORECASTS OVERLOOK NEW ENERGY Technology Is The New Black In The Energy Economy

    Chip Register, July 24, 2014 Forbes

    “…The traditional models [used to predict energy supply and demand] have all coalesced GDP figures with reserve estimates and power generation investments to deduce what our energy production levels and consumption mix might look like forty years in the future…Billions go on the line, backed by models that are powered by [reports like the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Annual Energy Outlook, the report from Statoil, and BP ’s Statistical Review. But I fear] the pace of arrival of disruptive technology [has] increased to the point where the standard error on these is so wide as to render them virtually meaningless…While the [current EIA forecast] could very well turn out to be true, the report said nothing about possible technological changes…[I]n all the scenarios natural gas seems to be the only winner, with renewables hardly gaining traction despite a flurry of technological advancements in the sector…[T]he energy markets are experiencing a Centennial Moment…[like the] switch from steam coal to oil and gas. The catalyst for these moments is always the arrival of disruptive technology…Beware the standard error…” click here for more

    NEW ENERGY NEEDS NEW TRANSMISSION To Unlock Wind, Build Transmission Lines Linking the Plains to the Cities

    Robert Fares, July 22, 2014 (Scientific American)

    “…Like oil and gas resources, renewable energy regions are often located far away from major population centers…[and if] the requisite transmission infrastructure is not in place, a wind farm’s electricity output might have to be voluntarily turned down to avoid overloading what transmission lines do exist…[W]ithout the adequate transmission infrastructure in place, there is no way to bring wind energy from the plains to the cities, and wind will not produce at its full potential…[A] new transmission line can cost over $1 million per mile, and that’s for the equipment alone, before any of the NIMBY (not in my backyard) related costs that tend to plague major transmission projects. Moreover, unlike oil and gas pipelines, it’s impossible to control whose electricity is flowing on whose power line…For this reason, the cost of transmission lines is typically socialized, even where electricity market competition has been introduced. This is good for raising the capital required to build the transmission infrastructure we all need, but it can also introduce partisanship and bureaucracy, slowing the whole process down…[The Texas CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zones) transmission project [proves that while] new transmission lines may be costly, in many regions of the U.S. they are a required precursor to unlocking wind energy’s true potential…” click here for more

    BRITISH COLUMBIA EMISSIONS TAX SUCCEEDING Carbon tax hasn’t harmed B.C. growers, study finds;Trade data shows no impact from tax on fossil fuels, authors say

    Randy Shore, July 22, 2014 (Vancouver Sun)

    “B.C’s carbon tax has had no overall negative impact on the province’s agriculture sector since being introduced in 2008, according to [The Effect of British Columbia’s Carbon Tax on Agricultural Trade] by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions…[There was] no drop in exports, and no increase in imports of agricultural products attributable to the [tax of $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions applied to virtually all fossil fuels, with an 80%] exemption granted to some ‘carbon intensive’ producers, in particular greenhouse growers…[Meanwhile] B.C.’s fossil fuel consumption has dropped by nearly 19 per cent, while the rest of the country has increased consumption by three per cent...[Consumers pay] 4.62 cents/litre for propane, 6.67 cents/litre for gasoline] and $62.31/tonne of coal…” click here for more

    Monday, July 28, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: MORE AND SMARTER MEDIA COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2014

    Sunday Shows Cover Climate Change As Much In First Half Of 2014 As In Last Four Years Combined

    Laura Santhanam, July 21, 2014 (MediaMatters)

    A Media Matters analysis finds that the Sunday shows covered climate change more in the first half of 2014 than in the last four years combined, following a push from nine U.S. Senators for increased coverage. Although these shows gave the issue more coverage, at times they used false balance, enshrouding the scientific consensus surrounding climate change.

    In First Half Of 2014, Sunday Shows Covered Climate Change More Than In All Of 2013. Already in 2014, climate change-related events have garnered more attention than they did in 2013 on the Sunday shows. The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that climate change will jeopardize food security, harm economies around the globe, worsen coastal flooding, trigger heat waves and more if global warming remains unmitigated. The federally mandated National Climate Assessment sounded the alarm that climate change already has started to leave its mark on the United States with more droughts, hotter temperatures, and rising sea levels -- and several extreme weather events in the U.S. this year illustrated these changes. Scientists discovered the "unstoppable" collapse of an Antarctic ice sheet, which could trigger a dramatic rise in sea levels. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants to combat global warming and improve public health. [New York Times, 3/31/14; Media Matters, 5/9/14;Media Matters, 5/14/14; Media Matters, 6/6/14]

    U.S. Senators Demanded More Climate Change Coverage On Sunday Shows. In response to lackluster media coverage in 2013, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), along with eight other Democratic U.S. senators, forged a campaign in January to get more people talking about how to mitigate climate change, starting by demanding greater coverage of the issue from the Sunday shows. The senators sent a letter to executives at ABC News, CBS News, NBC News and Fox News, asking why "shockingly little discussion" involved climate change as part of these Sunday shows. From the letter:

    We are writing to express our deep concern about the lack of attention to climate change on such Sunday news shows as ABC's "This Week," NBC's "Meet the Press," CBS's "Face the Nation," and "Fox News Sunday."

    According to the scientific community, climate change is the most serious environmental crisis facing our planet. The scientists who have studied this issue are virtually unanimous in the view that climate change is occurring, that it poses a huge threat to our nation and the global community, and that it is caused by human activity. In fact, 97% of researchers actively publishing in this field agree with these conclusions.

    The scientific community and governmental leaders around the world rightly worry about the horrific dangers we face if we do not address climate change. Sea level rise will take its toll on coastal states. Communities will be increasingly at risk of billions of dollars in damages from more extreme weather. And farmers may see crops and livestock destroyed as worsening drought sets in. Yet, despite these warnings, there has been shockingly little discussion on the Sunday morning news shows about this critically important issue. This is disturbing not only because the millions of viewers who watch these shows deserve to hear that discussion, but because the Sunday shows often have an impact on news coverage in other media throughout the week.

    The senators reportedly had a meeting with CBS News President David Rhodes in response to the letter. Sen. Sanders' office stated that "Fox News has not yet replied" to the letter in February 2014. [Office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, 1/16/14; Office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, 2/16/14; Huffington Post, 1/27/14]

    Sunday Shows Offered As Much Climate Change Coverage In Six Months As In The Last Four Years. Sunday talk shows aired far more coverage related to climate change during the first six months of 2014 than they broadcast in all of 2013. ABC's This Week, CBS Face The Nation, NBC Meet The Press and FNC's Fox News Sunday together aired 1 hour, 5 minutes of climate change-related coverage during the first six months of 2014, as much as they did during the last four years combined (1 hour, 5 minutes). Much of this coverage occurred in February, following extreme winter weather and a campaign led by U.S. senators demanding more reporting on global warming, which drew greater national attention to the issue. [Media Matters, 1/16/14; Media Matters, 2/16/14; Office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, 2/16/14]

    NBC's Meet The Press gave more climate change-related coverage in the first six months of 2014 than any other major Sunday talk show, devoting 21 minutes of its broadcast to global warming. This signaled a dramatic change from 2013 when the show gave the issue no significant coverage whatsoever. Its network competitors, CBS and ABC, ran slightly less coverage with 18 minutes and 16 minutes, respectively.

    Fox News Sunday gave the least coverage with less than 9 minutes of airtime devoted to global warming.

    Some Sunday Shows Gave False Balance National Platform. Although the Sunday shows aired more climate coverage, some also misinformed audiences about its threat with false balance. ABC, NBC and FOX altogether featured nearly 30 minutes of segments that included flawed debates in the first half of this year. CBS' Face The Nation was the only Sunday show that avoided giving airtime to those who question the consensus surrounding climate change.

    A portion of NBC's Meet The Press' first climate coverage in two years featured false balance between a scientist and a politician. In February, the show invited Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and fossil fuel-funded U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to discuss how the extreme cold weather is or is not driving climate action. Host David Gregory led in by confirming the scientific consensus on climate change, but the discussion quickly devolved into a debate about whether or not climate change is even happening. During the segment, Rep. Blackburn insisted that there was no scientific consensus on climate change, and suggested the consensus consists of merely "hypotheses or theories or unproven sciences." During another segment, the show included comments from Patrick Michaels, the Cato Institute's discredited climate expert, who suggested that by adjusting for growing global population, the world has seen no real "weather-related damages." [Media Matters, 2/16/14; NBC, Meet The Press, 2/16/14, via Nexis; Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 7/15/14, Media Matters, 7/10/13]

    Fox News Sunday only discussed climate change once in 2014, with syndicated conservative columnist George Will and others dismissing the climate consensus. In a February 2014 segment, the panel dismissed the issue as "an article of faith on the left" and a "rich man's issue," and attacked the basic premise of manmade climate change. [Media Matters, 2/16/14]

    On the February 16 edition of ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos posed a question about climate change's impact on a harsh winter to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who has rejected the science behind manmade global warming, in light of his comments that climate change "is in God's hands." McCrory said: "I think the big debate is how much of it is manmade and how much of it will just naturally happen as Earth evolves," despite overwhelming evidence and a scientific consensus that human action worsens climate change. He then stressed the need to clean the environment and improve quality of life. No one challenged McCrory about a massive coal ash spill from Duke Energy, a major campaign contributor to McCrory, that occurred in his state earlier that month. [Media Matters, 2/16/14; Media Matters, 2/20/14]

    Scientists Included In Climate Coverage On Every Sunday Show Except On FOX. Each Sunday show interviewed at least one scientist as part of its global warming coverage, except for Fox News Sunday. That stands in stark contrast to 2013 when CBS' Face The Nation was the only Sunday talk show to interview scientists about climate change. Prior to 2013, none of the outlets turned to scientists to explain the ramifications of manmade climate change. In the first half of 2014, Sunday shows continued to rely far more on politicians than scientists when discussing climate change: 21 percent of their guests were politicians, while 12 percent were scientists. [Media Matters, 4/16/2012, Media Matters, 1/8/2013, Media Matters, 1/16/2014]

    Major Network Evening News Shows Did Not Improve From 2013 Coverage. Network nightly news shows continued to offer their audiences coverage similar to what they saw in 2013. Together, the network evening news programs aired 53 minutes of coverage that included global warming during the first six months of 2014, roughly half of the 102 minutes broadcast in all of 2013. From segments on diseased coffee beans in Central America to dying moose in Northern Minnesota, network reporters used the context of climate change to frame their stories and better inform the public.

    Once again, ABC World News covered climate change the least among the three outlets, with less than 8 minutes, but this was almost as much as the 10 minutes of coverage it aired during all of 2013. One example of a missed opportunity for ABC occurred in June when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed carbon pollution standards to curb greenhouse gases. ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer simply told the audience this major proposal had been issued, while the network's competitors both aired full packages that gave greater context to how these standards might combat climate change. CBS Evening News produced the most news related to global warming, giving nearly 24 minutes of its broadcast to the issue. NBC Nightly Newsoffered marginally less with over 21 minutes of airtime. NBC and CBS are both on track to offer approximately as much coverage as last year. [Media Matters, 1/16/2014]

    Methodology

    This report analyzes coverage of "climate change" or "global warming" between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014, on four Sunday morning talk shows (ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday) and three nightly news programs (ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News). Fox Broadcasting Co. airs Fox News Sunday, but does not air a nightly news equivalent; Fox News is a separate cable channel. Our analysis includes any segment devoted to climate change, as well as any substantial mention (more than one paragraph of a news transcript and/or or a definitive statement about climate change). Timestamps were acquired from Media Matters' internal video archive, theInternet Archive online database, and online videos and were applied generously. For instance, if a segment about an extreme weather event mentioned climate change briefly, the entire segment was counted as climate coverage. For a few segments where video was unavailable, the length of the segment was estimated based on its word count.

    QUICK NEWS, July 28: CLIMATE SKEPTICS REACHING ‘CATASTROPHIC’ NUMBERS; THE COST OF THE EPA EMISSIONS CUTS; GEOTHERMAL DRILL SKILL ADVANCES

    CLIMATE SKEPTICS REACHING ‘CATASTROPHIC’ NUMBERS Report: Climate Change Skeptics Could Reach Catastrophic Levels By 2020

    July 23, 2014 (The Onion)

    “In a worrying development that could have dire implications for the health of the planet, a report…suggests that the number of climate change skeptics could reach catastrophic levels by the year 2020…[T]he rising quantity and concentration of individuals who willfully deny or downplay the ruinous impact of the ongoing climate crisis will no longer be manageable by the end of the decade, leading to disastrous consequences for global ecosystems that may well prove irreversible…

    “[EPA administrator Gina McCarthy confirmed] a worldwide spike in the number of deniers who are actively seeking to discredit the scientific consensus that human activity is responsible for climate change…

    “Since the latter half of the 20th century, the EPA noted that more and more regions, biomes, and even human commercial and industrial activities have suffered the harmful effects of individuals who refuse to accept that the ongoing rise in global surface temperatures is due to greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, the report revealed an alarming upsurge in the number of authors of discredited scientific studies questioning the reality of climate change, adversarial cable news show guests who scoff at the notion that humans can affect Earth’s weather patterns, and politicians whose opinions are controlled by fossil fuel company lobbying groups, all of whose increased presence in the world jeopardizes the planet’s vulnerable biosphere…

    “Additionally, the report noted a shocking jump in the number of uninformed citizens among the public at large, whose widespread dissemination of misleading data, half-truths, and outright lies regarding climate trends has already facilitated the destruction of numerous natural resources and hundreds of species, while putting still others at imminent risk…However, with the rise of such individuals having only accelerated over time, the report’s authors conceded that it may no longer be possible to eliminate this devastating man-made phenomenon…” click here for more

    THE COST OF THE EPA EMISSIONS CUTS First-Of-Its-Kind Report Ranks U.S. Electric Utility Companies’ Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency Performance; Xcel Energy, Edison International, Sempra Energy, Northeast Utilities, PG&E Rank High; Dominion Resources, Southern Company, SCANA Rank Low

    July 24, 2014 (Ceres)

    "…[A] new report from Ceres and Clean Edge [that] ranks the nation’s largest electric utilities and their local subsidiaries on their renewable energy sales and energy efficiency savings…found that many utilities are deploying lower carbon fuel sources and that state policies are a key driver in that performance, but there is variability in performance even among utilities operating in the same states…[Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy] ranks the 32 largest electric utility holding companies, which collectively account for about 68 percent of 2012 U.S. retail electricity sales, on three clean energy indicators…NV Energy, Xcel, PG&E, Sempra, and Edison International were found to rank the highest for renewable energy sales, with renewable resources accounting for nearly 17 to 21 percent of their retail electricity sales in 2012. Southern Company, SCANA, Dominion, AES, and Entergy ranked at the bottom, with renewable energy sales accounting for less than two percent of each company’s total power sales…Energy efficiency top performers among holding companies included PG&E, Edison International, and Northeast Utilities, whose cumulative annual energy efficiency savings were equivalent to 16 to 17 percent of their annual retail electric sales in 2012. PSEG, SCANA, Pepco Holdings, Dominion Resources, and Entergy ranked at the bottom, with cumulative annual energy efficiency savings accounting for less than one percent…” click here for more

    GEOTHERMAL DRILL SKILL ADVANCES Geothermal Industry Grows, With Help From Oil and Gas Drilling

    Kate Galbraith, July 23, 2014, NY Times

    “Geothermal energy…languishes in the shadows of better-known sources like wind and the sun…Yet the geothermal industry is growing…[to about 4 percent to 5 percent globally in 2013] and proponents hope that new technologies — including tie-ins with drilling for oil and natural gas — will bring further gains…The United States remains the world’s leader in the use of geothermal energy for electric power, followed by the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico…At its most basic, geothermal power involves harnessing water heated to steam temperatures in the depths of the earth and using it to spin turbines that produce electricity. The Ring of Fire around the Pacific Ocean, where volcanoes and earthquakes are common, is an optimal source…

    “As an electricity source, geothermal energy has certain advantages over its main renewable competitors…[especially that it] works 24 hours a day…But geothermal carries substantial upfront costs [for exploration and development. It is hard to predict exactly where hot water will pool in the earth’s crust…Drilling wells is expensive, taking 50 percent to 60 percent of a project’s total costs…[M]ore experience, emerging technology that can derive energy from lower temperatures and a new wave of interest in oil and gas drilling stand to aid geothermal…” click here for more

    Saturday, July 26, 2014

    John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica

    John Oliver offers some travel advice: "Stop coming here." From Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

    Warmest May And June Ever And Non-Stop Record Heat

    Higher temperatures would be “the new normal” except that “normal” keeps getting hotter. From WeatherNation via YouTube

    Meet The Microgrid

    A detailed look at how a microgrid can operate independently of the central grid. This is the utilities’ worst nightmare, a vision of how they will become unnecessary. From Vision Group 21 via YouTube

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    STAR WARS PLANET TATOOINE’S CLIMATE CHANGE

    Science Graphic of the Week: Mapping Climate Change on Tatooine Over 110 Galactic Years

    Nick Stockton, July 24, 2014 (Wired)

    “Just because Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine is fictional doesn’t mean it’s immune to the effects of climate change…[I]n the past 110 Galactic Standard Years, Tatooine has turned from a sprawling, desert wasteland into an even hotter sprawling, desert wasteland. It comes from Tatooine’s first Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change, written by 23 droids (not really) and a human named [molecular biologist] David Ng…[Ng and other science writers] are using Tatooine as a device to teach real world science…

    "[Ng] based his report on the IPCC’s fifth assessment report…[that concludes climate change is] happening, and it’s being caused by our dependence on fossil fuels…Unlike fossil fuels on Earth, water vapor from Tatooine’s unregulated water-mining industry is most likely to blame for the planet’s temperature rise. Like carbon dioxide, water vapor is a greenhouse gas that stores and emits thermal energy…Luke’s aunt and uncle were moisture farmers…until they were shot by Imperial stormtroopers…” click here for more

    BIG NEW THREAT TO CLIMATE FROM COAL-TO-GAS IN CHINA

    China’s planned coal-to-gas plants to emit over one billion tons of CO2

    Christine Ottery, 23 July 2014 (GreenPeace)

    "There is a potential storm on the horizon of China’s energy policy: coal-to-gas…[If the 50 planned coal-to-gas projects are operational within the next decade, they] would emit around 1.087 billion tons of CO2 per year…To put this in perspective, it is around one eighth of China’s CO2 emissions in 2011 (8.71 billion tons), and much more than the CO2 cuts from coal control measures by 2020 (655 million tons)…[Without a global climate deal requiring the plants to have carbon capture and storage, the] world’s largest emitter of CO2 will put out a significant [increased] amount of CO2 in the atmosphere…[and] exceed its own targets…There are only two existing coal-to-gas pilot projects in China currently…[but there] are around 48 in the pipeline. This includes three under construction, 16 that have been given the green light to go ahead, and 11 that have been newly signed between mid-2013 amid new regulations to get the plants approved faster…” click here for more

    INDIA VILLAGE OF 2,400 GOES 100% SOLAR WITH BATTERIES, MICROGRID

    India village claims a first – 100% solar, storage micro-grid

    Emma Fitzpatrick, 21 July 2014 (RenewEconomy)

    "…[Dharnai village in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, now sources] all of its own energy requirements with solar, while at least 19,000 other villages, or 82 per cent of the [Bihar] population...do not receive reliable power from the traditional grid-based system and still lack access to electricity…The 100-kilowatt (kW) system in Dharnai powers the 450 homes of the 2,400 residents, 50 commercial operations, two schools, a training centre and a health care facility. A battery backup ensures power around the clock…This includes 70 kW for electricity generation and 30 kW for 10 solar-powered water-pumping systems with three horsepower each. The system was built within three months…This [100% solar village] is a first for India…Reliable electricity in the evening has improved educational opportunities for village children, and brought the safety of street lighting. A dependable power supply has boosted the local economy, and brought a welcome improvement to the social life of the villagers…” click here for more

    GERMANY IS WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT MAJOR ECONOMY

    Germany is most energy efficient major economy, study finds; Ranking places Mexico last and voices concern about the pace of efforts by the United States and Australia

    18 July 2014 (AFP via UK Guardian)

    "Germany is the world's most energy efficient country with strong codes on buildings while China is quickly stepping up its own efforts…[according to a] study of 16 major economies by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy that ranked Mexico last and voiced concern about the pace of efforts by the United States and Australia…[Germany, Europe's largest economy, got credit] for its mandatory codes on residential and commercial buildings as it works to meet a goal of reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020 from 2008 levels…[but] has achieved economic growth while improving efficiency and reducing harmful environmental effects of the energy trade…The study ranked Italy second, pointing to its efficiency in transportation, and ranked the European Union as a whole third. China and France were tied for fourth place, followed by Britain and Japan…The report found that China used less energy per square foot than any other country…Australia was ranked 10th [and the United States came in 13th]…” click here for more

    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    CLIMATE FACTS VERSUS CLIMATE CULTURE

    Are the people who refuse to accept climate change ill-informed? Survey shows they know just as much—if you ask the question right.

    Scott K. Johnson, July 22, 2014 (Advances in Political Psychology via Ars Technica)

    “…When large proportions of a population seem poorly informed about evolution, climate change, or genetically modified foods, the usual response is to bemoan the state of science literacy…and that opinions would change if only we could educate them…[ Yale Professor Dan Kahan’s research into what he calls ‘cultural cognition’] has shown, unfortunately, it's not that simple…[P]ublic opinion on these topics is fundamentally tied to cultural identities rather than assessment of scientific evidence…[P]eople form opinions based on what they think people with a similar background believe…[W]hen people respond to surveys asking whether they think Earth’s climate has warmed, for example, their answers tell you more about their cultural identity [and political party affiliation] than their factual knowledge…Kahan set out to design a set of test questions that would actually dig in…The average person who believes that humans are responsible for climate change answered half of the questions correctly—and so did the average person who believes humans have had no effect, or that the globe hasn't even warmed…Kahan’s work argues that a lack of knowledge isn’t what makes climate change contentious…The problem is that a culture war has infected the conversation.” click here for more

    MONEY IN WIND UP FOR QUARTER, DOWN FROM 2013

    Wind Energy Sector Receives $4 Billion in Corporate Funding, Reports Mercom Capital Group; Wind Project Funding comes to $6.3 Billion with record number of deals

    July 2014 (Mercom Capital Group)

    “…Wind venture capital (VC) funding increased to $48 million compared to $32 million in Q1 2014. Total corporate funding in the wind sector came to $4 billion in Q2 2014, including VC funding, public market financing, and debt financing [according to Mercom Capital Group’s Q2 2014 report on wind sector funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity]…Announced large-scale project funding in Q2 2014 totaled $6.3 billion in 38 deals, compared to $7.2 billion in 29 deals in Q1 2014…[There were] nearly 11 GW of new project announcements globally this quarter in various stages of development…[including] seven M&A transactions in Q2 2014, four of which disclosed amounts totaling $828 million…Announced project acquisitions in the second quarter came to $1.4 billion in 31 transactions compared to 30 transactions in Q1 2014…Of the disclosed project acquisitions in Q2 2014, 10 investment firms, eight project developers, four utilities and two independent power producers acquired wind projects…” click here for more

    MIDWEST BIOFUELS CAN BE NEW ENERGY – UCS STUDY

    New analysis finds that 10 states could provide abundant agricultural byproducts for low-carbon fuel and electricity; Sustainable practices can turn crop residues and manure into bioenergy without competing with food supplies

    July 21, 2014 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    “U.S. agriculture could provide up to 155 million tons of crop residues and 60 million tons of manure to produce clean fuels and electricity in 2030 that would help cut the nation’s oil use and phase out the use of coal, according to [ Turning Agricultural Residues and Manure into Bioenergy (2014) from] the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)…[T]he top 10 states with the potential to use the residues left behind from crop harvest and livestock production, such as plant materials and manure, to create low-carbon fuels and electricity are: Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Arkansas, Texas, California, Indiana, South Dakota and North Carolina. Together, these states can provide about two-thirds of total projected U.S. crop residues and manure in 2030…[O]verall, the U.S. could tap nearly 680 million tons of biomass resources each year by 2030, enough to produce more than 10 billion gallons of ethanol, or 166 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity — equal to 4 percent of total U.S. power consumption in 2010…The UCS analysis found that the benefits of biomass depend on using the right types of resources at an appropriate scale…” click here for more

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