Category Archives: earth

Citizens of Tartu Ask to be Heard about their Home Environment

You may or may not have heard that Tartu (my home city) is facing a rather difficult issue. A group of private investors who have made a significant amount in the wood industry are proposing to build a  billion euro wood pulp mill just upriver from the city.

The concerns relate to the effects that this mill would have on the environment around the planned facility as well as to the river and to the city of Tartu. Those concerns are magnified by our own vision of Tartu’s future as a university town, and attractive place in part because of its clean environment. One wonders how such an industrial facility fits into that vision.

The government of Estonia has given the project a special status under Estonian law that is reserved for “strategic works”. What is strategic here? The argument, as far as I understand it, is that “Estonians” would benefit from adding value to wood before it is exported. I place Estonians in quotations because, that extra value added primarily would go to the small group of shareholders of the project — and not to the people of Tartu or Estonia, for that matter.  So I, for one, question why such a private sector project would have this status.

Continue reading Citizens of Tartu Ask to be Heard about their Home Environment


Is There a Path to All Renewable Energy Use?

Some folks I talk to are very pessimistic about climate change. They don’t believe that humanity will figure out a way to change behavior patterns radically enough to stop, let alone reverse the trends that are at work now.

So what is likely to happen? No one really knows. Certainly the drastic drop in cost of solar energy is cause for optimism. If it continues to fall, the economics of burning fossil fuels to produce energy changes. But there are other challenges. This TED ED video gives an overview. Enjoy!

Some Bad News for California

Each year in September and October,  California experiences forest fires. That is normal. The bad news is that these fires are getting worse because of climate change

Climate change will continue to affect fire behavior. According to an article published in PNAS, data from Western North America confirms that human-caused climate change will lead to widespread and more frequent fires. This is because the continual warming trend sets up conditions for a longer burning season — climate change means higher temperatures and more erratic precipitation, which leads to drier fuels ripe for burning.

And this year has been very gad. Next year? Gulp!

Hurricane Irma, Richard Branson and Rush Limbaugh

We are still getting over Harvey, and  among the least welcome new events would be a level 5 hurricane. Welcome Hurricane Irma that is brewing in the Atlantic.

This new hurricane is hitting the Caribbean. And there it will find Richard Branson, determined to ride it out in his wine cellar  with his crew on his private island, Necker.  Here they are in bunk beds

Image result for Branson Hurricane Irma

If  Irma reaches Palm Beach, it will find good old Ruch Limbaugh. Rush makes a big deal each year that hurricanes are a con job — a media feeding frenzy to sell climate change, bottle water and such.

Well, Rush, I will be curious to hear what you have to say if Irma hits Palm Beach in full force.

Good luck to any and all in Irma’s path!


Why Trump is Irrelevant on Climate Change

Feeling a bit blue? Read this for a “pick me up”. Enjoy!

Donald Trump will be long remembered for his gesture of pulling the US out of the Paris Agreements. But what effect will that have overall? That depends on what forces are actually driving the human species in coping with climate change. According to Andrew Beebe, thsoe forces are not “top down”.

… all of the stakeholders addressing climate change were moving on their own before Paris, and virtually all of them already had in place plans which would result in exceeding the Paris goals. This is true of the U.S. as well. The real value of Paris was simply coming together to collectively acknowledge the challenge and show unity around a future engagement for the next steps after Paris.

It is an optimistic scenario. Moreover, as innovation drives the cost of alternative fuels down further, we will see more innovative adaptions that will multiply their impact on enegy markets.

Stay tuned on this one! And pat your dog.  It will perk you up!