Category Archives: earth

A Coal Free Day in the UK!

From BI

Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again.

A good excuse for hoisting a pint! Hooray!

The New Challenge for Coastal Cities

Many thriving cities are on the water. It has been, after all, one of the best ways to monetize location – by being a transit hub through a port. Even with our modern transit alternatives, this is still true.  It is also true that cities located on coasts face a rather serious issue – rising water levels.

This is not a matter for future concern only. Consider this from Wired

In Miami Beach, they call it “sunny-day flooding.” You’ll be hanging out downtown under clear blue skies—only to see, whoa, the streets slowly filling with water.

Miami Beach, Florida, is a coastal city built on porous limestone, so as climate change melts polar ice into the oceans, water is literally pushed up out of the ground. “It’s an eerie, scary, unnerving feeling, like something out of a sci-fi movie,” says Philip Levine, mayor of the city of 90,000. On days when Miami Beach actually gets a coastal storm, it can see a 2-foot flood.

To confront this challenge, Miami is investing NOW approximately $200 million.

The next time you get into a discussion about whether anything should be done about climate change, consider this story.  The bill is already coming due.

There Was this Yak that Wanted to Hitch a Ride to Siberia …

Yes, we are talking about something like this

Image result for Yak

Though the yak herself was not specifically thinking about hitching a ride, the yak wants to be in Siberia.

Why? Because that habitat is perfect for Yaks. And it is in our interest to help lots of yaks get there. Why? Because when Yaks live there, they tamp down the snow, and this causes much deeper freezing.  Deeper freezing helps preserve the permafrost.

And as you may have heard, the melting permafrost releases a huge amount of carbon gasses into the atmosphere. Niht gut for climate change.!

So what does this have to do with us? We can help get thoseYak to Siberia via a very cool Kickstarter campaign!

Check it out! Tell a friend!

Paris and Le Smog

President Trump has thought it wise to roll back emissions standards for US cars. Across the pond, Europeans are realizing how important higher standards are.

Paris is a good example. We all love to love Paris. We don’t all love Parisian air pollution, caused mainly by its auto traffic. Paris air quality is among the lowest in Europe.

Paris has been trying to do something about this. Indeed, one might argue that Paris has to do something about this in order to retain its reputation as the world’s charm capital.  This image gets your attention

Image result for Eiffel Tower in smog

Yes, that is the Eiffel Towe on the left.

Traffic restrictions have indeed had a negative effect on commuting.   these restrictions were imposed before any alternatives were in place. Still …

It’s not yet clear if the closure of the lower quays has reduced pollution nearby; figures will be released next month. But, unless you’re a grumpy commuter trapped in traffic nearby, it feels nigh-on impossible to disagree with the city’s decision to close them. Walking the quayside at sunset, almost nothing seems more beautiful than the parade of grand honey-colored buildings lining the banks, or their wild cubist reflections on the wind-whipped river. The last of the evening sun floodlights the rooftops and a small group of young people are drinking beer and laughing, not so loudly that they disturb a nearby man daydreaming on the quayside, absent-mindedly poking the water with a stick. In ten years, a visitor will struggle to believe that cars were ever allowed to dominate this space.

Image result for Paris  quayside

Marchons!

Why We Don’t Have thorium Reactor Prototypes

Nuclear reactors that use thorium have been discussed for a long time. Initially (back in the 1950’s) they presented a better option for producing nuclear power. But uranium-based reactors could be used to make weapon-grade material.  So thorium designs were rejected.  Better, but rejected.

And that is still the story. But now the arguments for not exploring how to make commercial grade thorium reactors is that the cost of renewables will keep falling.  Errr … that sounds like a decent argument. But NO ONE in their right mind argues that energy from renewable sources will be enough to meet all of our energy needs for the foreseeable future.

In this article, you get the more complete picture of why thorium is very interesting, and why we are spending so little on it.

Good News on Global CO2 Emissions

Here it is

Global CO2 emissions from energy have stayed flat, even as the world economy has kept chugging along, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. It’s the first time that’s happened without a sharp economic slowdown (as in the early 1980s):

Staying flat does not mean the end of climate change. It does mean that we have made a start in decoupling economic growth and CO2 emission growth.