Category Archives: earth

The Renewable Footprint is Growing!

Sep by step, as prices continue to fall

According to a report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the addition of new solar, wind and hydro capacity in the first four months of the year pushed renewable energy‘s share of total available installed capacity to 21.56%. Coal’s share, meanwhile, has dropped to 21.55 percent, down from 23.04 percent last year.

The difference is slight. But when you consider how dominant coal was and how tiny renewables were not too long ago, it is amazing.

And we are just getting into this new era.

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A Major US Utility Has Just Committed to Go Carbon Free. Why?

The news

The energy world got some big news in December: Xcel Energy, one of the biggest utilities in the US, committed to going completely carbon-free by 2050 (and 80 percent carbon-free by 2030).

Vox explains why Xcel is doing this, and why this is a sign that more utilities may follow.

Good news for the planet.

Algae Raincoats?

Hmmm …

It was a bad week if you’re the type of person who enjoys a habitable planet. A dire report chronicled how human activities could cause 1 million species to go extinct. But that doesn’t have to happen, and a new exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan and the Cube design museum in the Netherlands looks at how we can pull the emergency brake and maybe even start to undo the damage.

Undo the damage?

Read on! It can be done!

When Polluters Cannot Hide

Coping with global climate change means thinking globally, right? And what better place to develop a picture of what is happening around the globe than … space?

Consider this

A nonprofit artificial intelligence firm called WattTime is going to use satellite imagery to precisely track the air pollution (including carbon emissions) coming out of every single power plant in the world, in real time. And it’s going to make the data public.

I see this as a first step. Not just in gathering better data about the world, bu in seeing the planet as it is – a single thing, not divided up by jurisdictions.

Onward!

Is Biomass Bullshit?

Biomass is the word used to describe a process where wood is burned for energy  in the name of protecting the environment.

That already sounds a bit dubious, but biomass is listed as an accepted process for slowing climate change in Europe and the US.

How could burning wood — the least energy efficient material to use as a fuel — deserve this treatment? The argument is that the wood that is harvested from forests will eventually grow back. As it does, the new trees absorb CO2, and the process is alleged to be carbon neutral.

And according to scientists, this is bullshit.

The reason is that the burning releases carbon into the air NOW. And it degrades our natural forested areas, creating environmental issues. The promised carbon sucking replacement trees take decades and decades to grow back.

Think about it. We are entering climate change crisis time NOW. NOW is when we need to cut back on carbon emissions. Burning wood now in the hope that decades later, we will get a benefit is not an intelligent policy. One could reasonably argue that it is a fraud on the public.

And yet it is endorsed by the EU and the US: Most recently, the EU endorsed this in June 2018.

Amazing and not encouraging.

Tony Seba is Looking More Credible

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know who tony Seba is.Tony is a “thought leader” from California who predicts that the car industry is headed for the toilet, along with related energy markets (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, etc). Why? Falling prices for solar energy plus batteries, along with better design of electric autonomous vehicles will make all that stuff obsolete by around 2025 or so.

That sounds radical. But check out this article from BI about falling auto sales.

Hmmm …

Flying to Tokyo in less than One Hour?

In a Vox article about the future of transportation, I read this about Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab

He recently few to Borneo — a 29-hour journey, including layovers — to give a 45-minute talk to 2,000 people. The topic: using VR to fight climate change. “

Totally insane.

The article offers some insights into why we travel these days more than ever, why we value travel, and where this is all headed.  And yes, there is Elon Mus,k claiming that his new monster Mars rocket can get you from anywhere on earth to anywhere on earth in less than one hour.

Go for it!