November 2011 Newsletter
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Global Warming: Let’s
► First: What are the Biggest Risks from Burning Fossil Fuels ?
1. World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns of this (see below).
2. Permafrost & Peat Bogs warming & releasing massive amounts of GHG: CO2 and Methane (see below).
3. CO2 traps more heat causing lots of Bad things from droughts; to more intense storms; to acidic oceans. (see below)
4. The most important metric is CO2 equivalents from fossil fuels.
► Second: Where does most of above CO2 come from?
Mostly from Coal; Mostly to produce electricity.
1. In 2010 – a record amount of CO2 was emitted from fossil fuel — 30.6 Billion Tons/yr
2. Only five years ago, 25% of the world’s primary energy came from coal. The figure is now 30%. Between 2009 and 2010, global coal consumption grew by almost 8%.
3. In 2010, an amazing 48 % of all the coal burned in the world was burned in China. The country’s roads are clogged with coal trucks headed from mines to power stations. In August, there was a 40-mile traffic backup out of the major coal-mining region in Shaanxi province. Trucks were taking a week to get down the main highway, which carries 160 million tons of coal a year. Last year, 10,000 vehicles were stuck for days on another coal road out of Mongolia. The USA emitted 5 billion tons CO2 from Fossil Fuels/yr in 2009.
4. The USA has 600 coal burning plants. One plant, the 50th in size, emits 11.5 million tons or 25.3 billion pounds/yr.
a. OR: 48,000 pounds every minute, every day!
- The massive emissions of CO2 from Coal literally swamp everything we do.
a. That is to say, if we were to plant one thousand trees – the amount of CO2 absorbed by the trees in 80 yrs (if they all lived) is emitted by the coal plant above in 45 minutes. OR:
b. A car that gets 20 mpg and travels 20,000 miles/yr emits 20,000 pounds of CO2/Yr. To offset one year of CO2 from this one plant, we would need to convert 1.3 million cars to zero emission. More Calculations available – ask firstname.lastname@example.org
► Third: Where do we stand on Energy Generation?
Look at the chart below: Renewable energy as a share of total US energy use equals only 8% of our demand. Wind, Solar and Geothermal energy use together equal only 1.2% of current energy demand. We have a mountain to climb! (Some 11% of the energy we produce in the US is from renewable resources, but we import energy, especially hydroelectric energy from Canada.)
The Future for our children & Grandchildren will be won or lost at the utilities. All is not lost: WE must insist that coal and natural gas either capture CO2 (via CCS ) or we must move rapidly to millions of offshore wind turbines & Huge solar installations everywhere, as well as to build micro nuclear facilities. And also, we need to add many geothermal, wave and biomass installations. Some day biomass from algae and cellulose will start to replace oil.
►World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns!
If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change. (guardian.co.uk
, 9 November 2011)
The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy
-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change
will be “lost for ever”, according to the most thorough analysis
yet of world energy infrastructure.
Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this “lock-in” effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world’s foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous.
“The door is closing,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said. “I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever.”
Carbon dioxide, once released, stays, and industrial infrastructure is built to have a useful life of several decades.
►Industry lobbyists use the phrase “clean coal” to suggest we can have both our coal and our climate.
Why doesn’t the world care? One reason is expediency. The inconvenient truth is that coal remains the world’s cheapest fuel for electricity generation and industrial heat and power. Another is coal’s PR.
“Clean coal” is its cleverest piece of sophistry
. Lobby organizations like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — sponsored in the past by BHP Billiton, Duke Energy and
others — use the phrase to foster the idea we can have both our coal and our climate. Most insidiously, the industry has persuaded many policymakers
that dirty coal today can pay for clean coal tomorrow.
Clean coal is a distant vision, which could someday be possible through a technology known as carbon capture and storage
— in which CO2 is stripped from stack emissions, liquefied and buried underground. But large-scale deployment of what would be a massive new industry is at least a couple of decades — and tens of billions of R&D dollars away. And industry will only do it if forced
►How Arctic microbes respond to warming world
From the North Pole to the Arctic Ocean, the frozen soils within this region keep an estimated 1,672 billion metric tons of carbon out of the Earth’s atmosphere. This sequestered carbon is more than 250 times the amount of greenhouse gas
emissions attributed to the United States in the year 2009.
As global temperatures slowly rise, however, so too do concerns regarding the potential impacts upon the carbon cycle when the permafrost thaws and releases the carbon that has been trapped for eons. The Arctic is poised to change from a carbon sink to an emitter of massive amounts of methane & CO2.
Highlights of the IPCC ‘Man-made Climate Change’ draft report’s 20-page Summary for Policymakers follow.
Global warming will generate more frequent similar weather extremes of the type seen in 2010 & 2011, with the severity of the impacts leaving some regions more vulnerable than others.
Some conclusions of the report are:
1. It is “virtually certain” (99-100 per cent) that the frequency and magnitude of daily temperature extremes will increase over the 21st century on a global scale
2. It is “very likely” (90-100 per cent certainty) that the length, frequency and ori ntensity of warm spells, including heat waves, will increase over most land areas
3. Peak temperatures are “likely” (66-100 per cent certainty) to increase, compared with the late 20th century, up to 3ºC by 2050, and 5ºC by 2100
4. Heavy rain and snowfall is likely to increase over the next century over many regions, especially in the tropics and at high latitudes
5. Droughts will likely intensify in other areas, notably the Mediterranean region, central Europe, North America, northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.
Finally Better News:
►China to phase out incandescent light bulbs
The lights are going out for incandescent bulbs, as China
pledges to replace the 1 billion it uses annually with more energy
efficient models within five years.
Beijing’s move is a major step in efforts to improve lighting efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lighting accounts for 19% of electricity use worldwide, according to a 2007 estimate from the International Energy Agency
, a figure that could drop to 7% if the rest of the world followed China’s lead, the Global Environment Facility fund said.
The decision by the world’s second largest economy to phase out incandescents follows in the footsteps of Australia, the European Union, Brazil and others.
China’s move forms a striking contrast to the US government’s backsliding on the issue. This summer Republicans drove a bill through the House of Representatives
stripping all funding for government enforcement of improved lighting efficiency standards, which come into force next year. (Fortunately, it did not pass in the Senate.)
►Morocco to host 1st solar farm in Huge Renewables network
The vast solar and windfarm project across North Africa and the Middle East may provide 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050
has been chosen as the first location for a German-led, €400bn project to build a vast network of solar and windfarms across North Africa
and the Middle East to provide 15%
of Europe’s electricity supply by 2050.
The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII)
, a coalition of companies including E.ON, Siemens, Munich Re and Deutsche Bank, announced at its annual conference being held in Cairo on Wednesday that “all systems are go in Morocco”, with construction of the first phase of a 500MW solar farm scheduled to start next year. It will use parabolic mirrors to generate heat
for conventional steam turbines, as opposed to the photovoltaic cells used in the UK.
►”Green” Building Questionnaire from West Chester
The questionnaire in the link was developed by the Bluer team for the West Chester Borough. It is an excellent tool to help any township, community or developer assess if a building project has considered and incorporated building measures that can save money and reduce energy. Additional information is available through www.wcbluer.org and www.west-chester.com
Finally: We did Not make these Up!
►Denmark aims for 100% renewable energy in 2050
Danish government proposals called for sourcing just over half of its electricity from wind turbines by 2020 and all of its energy from renewable sources in 2050.
Denmark will take over the presidency of the European Union for six months from January 1 and aims to promote ambitious climate and energy goals for Europe.
“This is an historical effort to become even better at saving energy and create an even more competitive and energy-effective company culture in Denmark, also for households,” Minister for Climate, Energy and Building, Martin Lidegaard, said.
Despite Denmark’s green credentials in wind energy, the country has virtually no hydropower and no nuclear installations, making it stillheavily dependent on coal at present.
The government’s proposal called for coal-fired power plants (44%) and oil-fired heating to be phased out by 2030. Coal heating, which now accounts for 11 percent of the total heat supply, would be replaced by biomass.
►Iowa Scientists Ask Candidates to Recognize Climate Reality
With the Iowa caucus near, more than 30 Iowa scientists are asking political candidates to acknowledge the threats posed by ongoing climate change
, particularly to Iowa’s farmers.
“All major scientific societies and the US National Academy of Science have affirmed that the recent rise in greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere has contributed to changes in our climate,” the scientists write in a letter
being delivered today to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and made available to candidates for local, state and federal office. Additional climate changes will challenge farmers and planners “to maintain the prosperity of our state and its role in national and global food security,” say the scientists.
►A Power Company President Ties His Future to Green Energy
David Crane, president and CEO of NRG Energy
, is not your typical power company executive, as becomes clear when he calls climate change a “slow-moving catastrophe” and “the fundamental issue of our day.” As head of a Fortune 500 company that produces electricity for up to 20 million U.S. households, he is still neck-deep in hydrocarbons, with more than 90 percent of NRG’s electricity production coming from natural gas, coal, and oil. But the future, vows Crane, will look radically different.
I mean the people who were opposed to climate change legislation used one of two tactics. They either said, “Well, we don’t believe it’s happening.” This, of course, is just a bald-faced lie! Or, the second part of the one/two punch is, “We can’t afford to do anything about it because a synonym for the word “green” is “expensive.” But looking forward, electric vehicles will be far cheaper to operate than internal combustion engine vehicles. And solar panels on the roof will provide power more cheaply than taking power from the grid.
►Siemens & Alstom Boost Stake in Tidal Power
The engineering giants like the predictability of marine power—which can be “calculated for centuries in advance.”
Marine energy has long looked to be a niche area, capable of meeting just a few percent of global power demand. But this seemingly limited energy source is drawing some big players, the latest being Siemens. The German engineering giant boosted its stake this month in Bristol, U.K.-based tidal energy developer Marine Current Turbines
from under 10 percent to 45
percent. The attraction, according to Michael Axmann, chief financial officer for Siemens’s solar and hydro division, is the predictability of marine power.
Paris-based Alstom Group, which competes against Siemens in power equipment and high-speed trains, also expects to make a splash in tidal power next year. Alstom is building a one-megawatt demonstration turbine using technology licensed from Canada’s Clean Current Power Systems
. Phillippe Gilson, Alstom’s ocean energy manager, affirmed that Alstom plans to install the 20-meter-tall, fully submersible turbine in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy in 2012.
►Vast coast-to-coast clean energy source confirmed by first Google.org-funded geothermal mapping report
New research from SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory, funded by a grant from Google.org, documents significant geothermal resources across the United States capable of producing more than three million megawatts of green power – 10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants today.
Sophisticated mapping produced from the research, viewable via Google Earth at http://www.google.org/egs/
demonstrates that vast reserves of this green, renewable source of power
generated from the Earth’s heat are realistically accessible using current technology.
The results of the new research, from SMU Hamilton Professor of Geophysics David Blackwell and Geothermal Lab Coordinatorb Maria Richards, confirm and refine locations for resources capable of supporting large-scale commercial geothermal energy production under a wide range of geologic conditions, including significant areas in the eastern
two-thirds of the United States.
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