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Messages - Sigmetnow

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"The evolution from roads designed for cars, to streets designed for people. Nice graphic via @bikeyface. #multimodal "

Hailstorm that hammered west metro Denver May 8 is costliest ever for Colorado
The storm caused $1.4 billion in damages, with an estimated 200,000 combined auto and homeowners insurance claims to be filed
The hailstorm that pounded west metro Denver with golf ball- and baseball-sized stones on May 8 will rank as the most expensive catastrophe in state history, according to estimates Tuesday from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

The insurance industry trade group estimates that more than 150,000 auto insurance claims and more than 50,000 homeowners insurance claims will be filed, resulting in $1.4 billion in insured losses.

“It isn’t an exact science, and we try to be conservative,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the trade group. “The cost of claims will likely go up.”

At $1.4 billion, the storm will surpass the $1.1 billion in damage claims, adjusted for inflation, that a storm on July 11, 1990, generated and the $845.5 million in claims tied to a storm on July 20, 2009.

It will also be three times more expensive than the state’s most damaging wildfire, which destroyed 346 homes in the Waldo Canyon area of Colorado Springs in June 2012 and generated $453.7 million in payouts at the time.
One factor that sets the May 8 storm apart from earlier ones is that it is on track to generate more auto claims ($710 million) than home claims ($704 million).

“It is a high number of auto claims as opposed to home,” said Walker.

Farmers Insurance Group has seen about 60 percent of damage claims come in on the auto side and 40 percent on the home side, said Carrie Bonney, a spokeswoman for the insurer. Normally, the split is in the other direction.

Part of that reflects the storm’s timing. Cars were out in the open at workplace parking lots or on roads during early rush-hour traffic.

Also, Angela Thorpe, a spokeswoman with State Farm, said the path of the storm took it through areas with a heavy concentration of multifamily housing, where fewer carports and garages are available to shelter vehicles from the elements.

The storm also carried a big punch, with stones so large in some areas that they didn’t just dent hoods and roofs, but shattered and punched through windshields.

About half of the cars reporting damage aren’t drivable, Walker said. That requires providing replacement vehicles, adding to claim costs....

Electric Vehicle Costs Must Fall by 20% in India, Mahindra Says
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India’s only manufacturer of electric passenger cars, said costs to produce the vehicles need to come down by about 20 percent to make prices attractive as the government looks to encourage adoption with favorable tax treatment.

The government needs to support research and development activities of suppliers to localize component manufacturing, Mahindra’s Managing Director Pawan Goenka said at a press conference in Mumbai Wednesday. The automaker imports almost half of the materials it uses in electric vehicles making them costlier, he said.
Battery prices are expected to decline by as much as 25 percent in the next three years as volumes increase, Goenka said. Batteries account for about one-third the total cost of an electric vehicle.

Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd., a subsidiary of the automaker, aims to expand its capacity to make electric vehicles almost 10-fold to 5,000 units a month in two to three years, Goenka said without elaborating on the type of vehicles that will be produced. The company, which sells about 100 electric vehicles a year, plans to introduce a 32-seat electric bus and three-wheeled electric rickshaws in 18 months, he said.

The auto rickshaw or tuk-tuk is a very popular vehicle in Asia.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: May 24, 2017, 09:54:19 PM »
"UK coal:

Fiddlers Ferry & Aberthaw didn't run at all during April. None of UK coal plants ran for more than 20% of hours..."

U.S. government sues Fiat Chrysler over excess emissions
The U.S. government filed a civil lawsuit on Tuesday accusing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) of illegally using software to bypass emission controls in 104,000 diesel vehicles sold since 2014.

The U.S. Justice Department lawsuit, filed in U.S. District court in Detroit, is a procedural step that may ramp up pressure on Fiat Chrysler and comes amid growing scrutiny of diesels by regulators around the world.
The lawsuit asserts the Italian-American automaker placed undeclared "defeat devices," or auxiliary emissions controls, in 2014-2016 Fiat Chrysler diesel vehicles that led to "substantially" higher than allowable levels of nitrogen oxide, or NOx pollution, which is linked to smog formation and respiratory problems.

The lawsuit asks a court to require Fiat Chrysler to fix the vehicles and bar it from selling vehicles with excess emissions as well as unspecified civil penalties. EPA said in January the maximum fine is about $4.6 billion.

Fiat Chrysler faces a separate criminal investigation on the same emissions issue by the Justice Department and probes by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and many U.S. states.

In January, EPA and California accused Fiat Chrysler of illegally using undisclosed software to allow excess diesel emissions in 104,000 U.S. 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks....

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 24, 2017, 07:03:20 PM »
U.S. Bank Becomes First Major Bank to Stop Financing Pipeline Construction
U.S. Bank has become the first major bank in the U.S. to formally exclude gas and oil pipelines from their project financing. This groundbreaking change to their Environmental Responsibility Policy was publicly announced at the annual shareholders meeting in Nashville in April.

In addition to no longer providing "project financing for the construction of oil or natural gas pipelines," the bank has stated that relationships with their clients in the oil and gas industries will be subject to "enhanced due diligence processes."

As recently as March 2017, U.S. Bank has renewed commitments with Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline, and with Enbridge Energy, whose pipelines operate within Minnesota. However, advocates are hopeful that the bank's newly released policy will limit other kinds of financing relationships with these industries.
A national and international campaign pressuring banks to divest has been highly successful, pulling nearly $4.5 billion from financiers, and a newly launched coalition effort called Mazaska Talks has expanded this effort.

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: May 24, 2017, 02:08:20 AM »
Landslide on California Highway 1 is part of $1 billion in damage
BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — A massive landslide that went into the Pacific Ocean is the latest natural disaster to hit a California community that relies heavily on an iconic coastal highway and tourism to survive, and it adds to a record $1 billion in highway damage from one of the state's wettest winters in decades.

The weekend slide in Big Sur buried a portion of Highway 1 under a 40-foot layer of rock and dirt and changed the coastline below to include what now looks like a rounded skirt hem, Susana Cruz, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Transportation, said Tuesday.

More than 1 million tons of rock and dirt tumbled down a saturated slope in an area called Mud Creek. The slide is covering up about a one-quarter-of-a-mile (0.40-kilometer) stretch of Highway 1, and authorities have no estimate on when it might re-open. The area remains unstable.
One of California's rainiest and snowiest winters on record has broken a five-year drought, but also caused flooding and landslides in much of the state and sped up coastal erosion.

"This type of thing may become more frequent, but Big Sur has its own unique geology," said Dan Carl, a district director for the California Coastal Commission whose area includes Big Sur. "A lot of Big Sur is moving; you just don't see it."

Even before the weekend slide, storms have caused just over $1 billion in highway damage to 424 sites over the fiscal year that ends in June, Mark Dinger, also a spokesman for the state transportation agency, said Tuesday. That compares with $660 million last year, he said.

Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science
« on: May 23, 2017, 09:38:15 PM »
The Center for Biological Diversity just sued the Trump administration over climate censorship.

Lawsuit Targets Trump's Climate-change Censorship
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the Trump administration to uncover public records showing that federal employees have been censored from using words or phrases related to climate change in formal agency communications.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeks to require four federal agencies to release climate-censorship records, in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. The Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior and Department of State have failed to provide records requested by the Center or indicate when they might do so, violating deadlines established under the law.

“The Trump administration’s refusal to release public information about its climate censorship continues a dangerous and illegal pattern of anti-science denial,” said Taylor McKinnon at the Center. “Just as censorship won’t change climate science, foot-dragging and cover-ups won’t be tolerated under the public records law.”

The Center on March 30 filed Freedom of Information Act requests for all directives or communications barring or removing climate-related words or phrases from any formal agency communications. The records requests followed news reports that federal agencies had removed climate information from government websites and instructed Department of Energy staff to avoid using the phrases “climate change,” “emissions reductions” and “Paris agreement.”

The Center has filed identical requests with the Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On March 23 the Center joined conservation biologist Stuart Pimm and the Center for Media and Democracy in a separate Freedom of Information Act request to prevent the administration from removing hundreds of environmental data sets on government websites.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, when federal agencies receive requests for the same records three or more times, they must make the records freely available to the public on their websites — a rule known as “the Beetlejuice provision.”

Records responsive to the Center’s climate censorship requests will be made available to the public and the media.

Decent, less expensive EVs are on the way!  (Expect range to be much less than 200 miles / 322 km.)

2017 smart fortwo electric drive to be available at starting MSRP of $23,800 in US – before EV incentive
Earlier this year, Daimler announced that it is converting the Smart brand to all-electric in North America and discontinuing gas-powered Smart cars.

By September, Canadian and American dealerships will stop receiving gas-powered smart cars and the 2017 electric smart model year cars will become the only options.

Today, Daimler confirmed pricing of the 2017 smart fortwo electric drive and it received a small price reduction to a starting MSRP of $23,800.

It’s a $1,200 price cut for the coupe version, while the cabrio remains the same price – $28,000.

The 2017 models not only come with a price reduction but also with several performance increases like a faster onboard charger and 80 hp motor versus 74 hp....

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 23, 2017, 09:02:31 PM »
I just emailed the IEA WEO chart to the IEA along with the question -

"Do you folks ever sit back and ponder whether you're getting stuff right?"

I don't expect to hear back....

 At some point, even they have to be embarrassed. ;D  ::)

May 22, 2017.  "Dear @ElonMusk, you have @POTUS' ear. Will you reach out directly with some #ParisClimateAdvice and tell him to stay in the accord?."

Elon Musk:  "I spoke directly with The President three weeks ago about Paris. Many others have too. Cautiously optimistic of a positive decision."

Just need a pro-climate person to be the last one the president hears from before making a decision....

A California utility company offers a rebate to EV owners.

Further, SCE’s program can actually apply to the same VIN number up to three times – that is, if a car is bought new, then sold to another owner in SCE’s service area, and sold to another owner, all three can receive the same rebate.  So it’s likely that just about everyone qualifies for it.

Southern California Edison offers $450 credit to any EV/PHEV drivers

Ford had a massive leadership shakeup today that saw CEO and longtime executive Mark Field ousted and replaced by Jim Hackett, the head of the automaker’s ‘Smart Mobility’ division.

The company also appointed a new executive in charge of “strategy and business model development for electrified vehicles and autonomous vehicles.”

Even for those who have the vision, executing that vision is extremely difficult.   Legacy auto-makers have billions of dollars tied up in ICE vehicle manufacturing, which will be as worthless as oil assets once the switch to EVs is accepted as inevitable.

Did Ford Nix Its CEO Because He Was Too Much of a Visionary?

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 23, 2017, 08:24:10 PM »
"A single revolution of a turbine’s blades can power a home for 29 hours."

The World’s Largest Wind Turbines Have Started Generating Power in England

Pretty cool video/GIF at the link.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: May 23, 2017, 08:18:47 PM »
Wind Project in Wyoming Envisions Coal Miners as Trainees
Goldwind Americas, an arm of a leading wind-turbine manufacturer based in China, has been expanding its business in the United States. It has been careful to seek out local, American workers for permanent jobs on the wind farms it supplies.

Now it is trying to extend that policy to an unlikely place: Wyoming, which produces more coal than any other state and has hardly welcomed the march of turbines across the country, even imposing a tax on wind-energy generation....

Consequences / Re: Global Surface Air Temperatures
« on: May 23, 2017, 08:10:54 PM »
Kees van der Leun:  Remember the time that "global warming stopped in 1998"?  Those were the days. April 2017 second warmest on record....

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 23, 2017, 07:51:11 PM »
They really need a new way of making predictions. Perhaps a crystal ball might bring them closer.  8)


Heck, even a dart board might be an improvement.  ;D

My first battery-powered lawn mower used a 40-pound, custom lead-acid battery.  Maneuvering that weight around my yard caused the (light-weight) mower to essentially disintegrate after one season.  SunJoe was nice enough to replace it with their new model, which uses half-a-shoe sized, 40 Volt batteries.  It feels light enough to be a toy, but has worked well for several years now (with extra batteries on hand to be used as needed).

Image: newer mower in front, older behind.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 23, 2017, 07:19:42 PM »
        ;D      8)

"... graph showing the historic track record of the IEA in predicting solar: reality steeply increasing but IEA is having none of it."

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 22, 2017, 10:33:04 PM »
Total should use that $300 million and buy a solar farm or two.  As those gas stations are torn down over the next few years the panels will be sold off at a loss and all the installation costs will be lost.

A solar farm could keep making them money for a century.

There's been some discussion about how gas stations might convert to charging stations, since they make most of their profits from their convenience stores even today.  Until ultra-fast charging becomes the norm, a charging customer is a captive customer, so give them somewhere to spend their time and money.  :)

Most EV owners will do most of their charging at home.  But there are people who live in apartments or condos who don't have access to residential charging, and if they can't charge at work, commercial charging stations could fill a need.  And, when most EVs have ultra-fast charging capability, maybe it will become a habit to "fill up" with electrons during their morning stop for coffee.

By 2022, we will have more than ten purely electric passenger cars in series.

I wonder what that means.  Will there be ten really distinct EVs or ten cars with slight differences?

Ten different EVs one after another, because none of them really succeeds?   ;D :o

Tesla has two and getting ready to release a third.  As far as I know they only plan on adding a Model 3 sized crossover (?) and a new Roadster to their fleet. 

Ten seems like a lot.  Are they perhaps talking about a two door, a four door and a convertible version of the same basic car?

Daimler has created a new sub-brand, known as Mercedes-Benz EQ, that will specialize in selling EVs alone.

Likely they plan on offering cars at different price points, like their C-class, E-class, etc. that they have today.  That makes room for several sedans, SUVs, sportsters, probably a van or two.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: May 22, 2017, 09:48:24 PM »
In 2017 alone, enough US coal plants to power Qatar have announced closures
Trump’s coal magic has worked but not in the way Gillette had hoped. In April, US coal production was up 17% compared to a year ago. At the same time, however, coal mining jobs were down 8% (about 6,000 jobs).

This year alone eight coal power plants have announced closures. Many are shutting decades before their expiry date. The closures total 9.4 GW of lost electricity generating capacity, which is more than what all of Qatar can produce today.
Some other power companies haven’t announced closures, but are moving in that direction. For instance, DTE Energy, Michigan’s biggest power supplier, announced last week that it will retire all its coal-fired plants by 2050, moving to natural gas and wind.

The most common reason for an early closure is that the plants are no longer economically viable. The shale gas boom has made natural gas very cheap—cleaner and more efficient fossil fuel. The rate per kilowatt-hour offered by coal power plants is increasingly being beaten by natural gas or even renewables like wind and solar.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 22, 2017, 08:57:33 PM »
Oil companies begin to capitulate: Total admits EVs will be 30% of new vehicle sales by end of next decade
For an oil company to forecast strong growth of EV’s, and to take steps to prepare for this future, is quite something, but that is exactly what Total has done. First with their purchase of a controlling stake [paywall] in the solar company SunPower Corp. in 2011. Secondly with their acquisition of battery maker Saft early in 2016. And then, later in the same year, Total announced to invest $300 million to install solar panels at 5,000 gas stations around the world. So, I think it is fair to say that Total is (reluctantly?) getting ready for a world in which oil will be less important for transportation purposes.

Joel Couse, Total Chief Energy Economist said during the 2017 Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conference in New York last Tuesday:

“EVs will make up 15 to 30 percent of new vehicles by 2030, after which fuel “demand will flatten out. Maybe even decline.”


“The surge in battery powered vehicles will cause demand for oil-based fuels to peak in the 2030s.”

Couse’s forecast for the growth in EV’s is the highest yet by a major oil company and exceeds BNEF’s own forecast, said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“That’s big,” McKerracher said. “That’s by far the most aggressive we’ve seen by any of the majors.”

Ford had a massive leadership shakeup today that saw CEO and longtime executive Mark Field ousted and replaced by Jim Hackett, the head of the automaker’s ‘Smart Mobility’ division.

The company also appointed a new executive in charge of “strategy and business model development for electrified vehicles and autonomous vehicles.”

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: May 22, 2017, 07:46:53 PM »
Recent Florida wildfire status:

Florida On Fire: 125 Blazes, ‘Worst Wildfire Season in Years’
According to the Florida Forest Service, there were 125 active wildfires burning across the state on lands under its jurisdiction as of 7:30 a.m. [May 8]. The fires affected an estimated 31,154 acres. Twenty-seven of those fires, including Pasco’s Anclote Branch blaze, were deemed major, spanning 100 acres or more. State officials also reported there were four fires burning on federal lands in Florida. Those blazes span some 153,746 acres....

Parts of Texas and the Southeast can sure use [at least some of] the rain. May 16 Drought Monitor screen shot:

With 125 active wildfires burning in Florida, officials say the state is in "the middle of its worst wildfire season in years."
May is traditionally one of Florida’s driest months, Putnam said, and forecasters anticipate conditions will only get drier and warmer heading into late spring and early summer. Considering the dangers, Gov. Rick Scott issued a wildfire-related state of emergency declaration on April 11. That declaration remains in place. The last time the state had to issue an emergency executive order related to wildfires was June 2011, Putnam said.

According to the Florida Forest Service, there were 125 active wildfires burning across the state on lands under its jurisdiction as of 7:30 a.m. Monday. The fires affected an estimated 31,154 acres. Twenty-seven of those fires, including Pasco’s Anclote Branch blaze, were deemed major, spanning 100 acres or more. State officials also reported there were four fires burning on federal lands in Florida. Those blazes span some 153,746 acres.

As of Monday, 2,000 wildfires had been reported across the Sunshine State since 2017 began. Putnam reported that more than 150,000 acres have burned....

Daimler unveils new battery factory.  Importance of the announcement is illustrated by the attendance of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and Stanislaw Tillich (Minister President of Saxony).

They didn’t confirm the capacity of the plant, but it is expected to be in the gigawatt-hour range and it will employ over 1,000 workers.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said about the new factory:

“The automotive industry is facing a fundamental transformation and we see ourselves as the driving force behind this change.* The battery factory in Kamenz is an important component in the implementation of our electric offensive. By 2022, we will have more than ten purely electric passenger cars in series. We also continue to drive forward the hybridization of our fleet. Under the EQ brand, we are creating a holistic ecosystem for e-mobility.”

It will officially go into operation in mid-2018 just in time for Mercedes’ first all-electric vehicle built from the ground up, Mercedes’ new ‘EQ’ SUV.

Daimler also has several other electric vehicle programs, like it’s all-electric Urban eTruck and it is currently building 1,500 all-electric Mercedes-Benz vans for Germany’s largest independent logistic firm....

Daimler unveils its own new battery Gigafactory for electric vehicles

[*Now that Tesla has dragged us into it! ;) ]

TerryM wrote: " 300k mi. one would be on your 3d set of brakes..."

Just a note here that electric vehicles use a lot of regenerative braking, which doesn't involve the normal brake system. So wear and tear on the usual brake parts will be minimal for most drivers. :)

Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: May 22, 2017, 06:57:52 PM »
Daimler unveils new battery factory.  Importance of the announcement:  attended by Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and Stanislaw Tillich (Minister President of Saxony).

They didn’t confirm the capacity of the plant, but it is expected to be in the gigawatt-hour range and it will employ over 1,000 workers.

Daimler unveils its own new battery Gigafactory for electric vehicles

"Heavy rainfall expected from Texas to southern New England through Wednesday evening. Flash flooding will be a concern."

Precipitation, in inches:

Trump administration puts indefinite hold on plan to measure carbon pollution from cars and trucks
President Donald Trump’s Federal Highway Administration on Friday delayed implementation of new measurements for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles on the nation’s highway systems, a move that drew sharp criticism from environmental groups.

The greenhouse gas performance measure, included in a final rule issued by the Obama administration in January, was designed to help policymakers understand how the current transportation system is generating emissions, and how these emissions would be affected by proposed policies and investments.
The FHWA developed the rule over the course of a year, including a four-month comment period in which the agency received a record-breaking number of positive comments, including from many cities, metropolitan planning organizations, state transportation departments, and businesses, Lovaas said.

The FHWA, part of the Department of Transportation, plans to publish a notice of proposed rule-making in the coming weeks related to the final rule’s greenhouse gas measurement portion. The effective date of this portion of the rule will be delayed until the rule-making is completed, the agency said.
In comments filed during the rule-making process, NRDC said the U.S. transportation system is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major contributor to climate change. “Indeed, the U.S. cannot hope to meet its emissions reduction goals without action on transportation,” the NRDC said.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that in 2016, for the first time since 1979, carbon dioxide emissions from cars, trucks, and SUVs surpassed emissions from electric power plants....

EVs hit manufacturing price parity in 2018.  (Purchase price equity might be a bit further off due to demand exceeding supply.

“We raise our 2025 forecast for EV sales by ~50pc to 14.2m -  14pc of global car sales.”

By ~2020 purchase parity is reached.  Around then most people will realize the benefits of driving an EV and probably about no one will be talking about range anxiety.

In 2025 86% of all new car buyers are going to pay more for a ICEV than for a long range EV and then pay more per mile to drive?  And end up with a less comfortable ride plus having to go to gas stations to "recharge".

What's wrong with this picture....

Compared to other countries, cost-of-ownership price parity will happen later in the U.S., due to its lower gasoline and diesel prices. But the higher cost of EVs should be countered nicely by their tendency to spend a little more to get the latest tech.  Watch for a sharp vertical inflection in the adoption % "S"-curve once EVs with well over 200-mile range are available countrywide.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: May 21, 2017, 03:20:49 PM »
California grid sets record, with 67% of power from renewables
A stretch of sunny, windy days, combined with brimming reservoirs at hydroelectric plants across the state, helped California reach a renewable energy milestone last weekend.

Early Saturday afternoon, renewable sources produced a record 67.2 percent of the electricity on the portion of the state’s power grid controlled by the California Independent System Operator. That figure does not include large hydropower facilities, which added another 13.5 percent. Based in Folsom, the ISO runs 80 percent of the state’s grid.

More than half of the renewable energy flowing across the grid at that moment on Saturday came from large solar facilities and wind farms. The ISO’s numbers do not even account for electricity from rooftop solar arrays.

Overall, renewables accounted for 42 percent of the California grid’s power on Saturday, not counting the large hydropower plants.

“The fact that the grid can handle 67 percent renewable power from multiple sources — it’s a great moment, and it shows the potential we have,” said Sachu Constantine, the director of policy at the Center for Sustainable Energy, a nonprofit clean energy advisory firm in Berkeley....

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 21, 2017, 03:16:47 PM »
An investigation into life in Venezuela, as it suffers due the crash of oil prices it depended on.

Venezuela: Where supplies are few and pain is everywhere

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: May 21, 2017, 03:08:37 PM »
The coal miner who became a data miner
A heavy maintenance superintendent for a surface coal mine in Elgin, Texas, Evans was responsible for figuring out how to patch or replace outdated parts of a field delivery system that ferried coal from the mine to a plant. Each minute of downtime could cost the company as much as $170.

Now the third-generation coal miner gets her adrenaline rush sitting indoors on a soft swivel chair, fixing code on a computer screen. The 33-year-old is a data scientist currently doing a paid residency at Galvanize in Austin....

Real-world diesel emission study shows latest standards must be applied to heavy trucks
The product of years of work, and with no fewer than 11 authors listed, [the study] concludes that more than half of light-duty diesel vehicles on the world's roads today emit more NOx than the legal limits.

The same applies to roughly one-third of heavy commercial vehicles, which have often been certified under far more lenient standards despite the far higher annual mileage each one covers compared to a passenger vehicle.

The summary that opens the Nature article contains the following points:

- On-road diesel vehicles produce approximately 20 percent of global anthropogenic emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

- Regulated NOx emission limits in leading markets have been progressively tightened, but current diesel vehicles emit far more NOx under real-world operating conditions than during laboratory certification testing....

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: May 20, 2017, 08:56:58 PM »
The Crop That Ate America
Farmers who had long rotated plantings among a diverse group of grains are increasingly turning to a single one. Corn has always been a mainstay of U.S. agriculture, but its increasing profitability has driven up corn's share of total production, while grains such as wheat, oats and sorghum have steadily fallen, according to a Bloomberg analysis of a half-century of crop data. This locks farmers, as well as machinery-makers including Deere & Co., to the rises and falls of one crop, as both domestic and export markets grow more and more tied to the dominant U.S. grain. That exposes farmers to greater volatility and greater trade risk if a major buyer, such as Mexico, were to decide to stop buying U.S. corn.

Corn will make up 68 percent of this year’s projected harvest of major U.S. grains and oilseeds this year, according to data the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Wednesday. That’s up from 47 percent in 1968. New markets and technology have made corn more profitable compared to other crops, which is why longtime farmers once devoted to competitive grains have switched to the nation’s number-one source for biofuels and cattle feed.
Pushing along the economics were shifts in technology and markets. The U.S. approved genetically modified (GMO) corn and soybeans for planting in 1995. That reduced those crops’ risk of disease and simplified their cultivation, gains that weren’t matched in non-GMO wheat and other grains.

Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science
« on: May 20, 2017, 08:23:56 PM »
Chairman of the U.S. House Science Committee.

Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas Has a Problem with Science – and with Voters
Smith has always been well liked by the energy industry — he has received more than $700,000 from the oil and gas industry over the course of his career, more than from any other sector — but his newfound power has clearly delighted climate deniers, as evidenced by the hero’s welcome he received when he gave the keynote address at the Heartland Institute’s Climate Conference in March.

Not everyone is pleased with Smith’s successes on behalf of polluting industries. National environmental groups are beginning to target Smith for being “one of the worst climate change deniers in Congress,” as Craig Auster of the League of Conservation Voters described him. And just as he is reaching the height of his power in Washington, Smith is facing a wave of outrage from constituents in Texas that could present the first real challenge for his seat in 30 years....

From 2015:  Today, we are all slave owners.

JF Mouhot piece on the parallels between slavery and fossil fuels.

Thomas Jefferson and I (Solutions article)

Policy and solutions / Re: Carbon Fee & Dividend Plan
« on: May 20, 2017, 07:50:02 PM »
Virginia Moves to Regulate Power Plants' Carbon Pollution, Defying Trump
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday announced an ambitious plan to cut carbon pollution from the state's power plants, taking a stand against the Trump administration's continued efforts to dismantle carbon-cutting regulations.

McAuliffe issued an executive order directing state environmental regulators to begin creating a market-based carbon-trading program. The mandatory cap-and-trade program would become the third in the country, after California's statewide carbon compliance market and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program consisting of nine states in the northeast. The Virginia program would likely be linked to either of these trading programs.

"The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it," McAuliffe said.

"Once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Commonwealth's power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs," he said. "As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void."

The order calls for state regulators to create a legal framework for emissions trading. A proposed rule with details of the plan is expected this December, shortly before McAuliffe's term ends, and a rulemaking process will follow....

Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: May 20, 2017, 06:16:18 PM »
Many of the lessons learned and applied in this Japanese city hit by a tsunami can also be used for areas threatened by sea level rise or flooding.

In Japan Tsunami City, People Power Turns Disaster Into Opportunity

Consequences / Re: Floods
« on: May 20, 2017, 05:23:43 PM »
Urban flood mitigation in Tokyo.

G-Cans Project, Tokyo – Japan’s $2.6 Billion Flood Tunnel
The Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge system was built to handle flooding from monsoon-season typhoons, not storm surges from the ocean, and has been used over 70 times, says Takashi Komiyama, head of the pump station. He adds that the system has proven itself effective, reducing damage in terms of the number of homes and area flooded by two-thirds.

Consequences / Re: Floods
« on: May 20, 2017, 05:17:08 PM »
Bill McKibben:  So, at the moment, big and deadly floods underway in Jamaica, Haiti, DR, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Kenya.

Meanwhile, in France:

Two female scientists and a militant environmentalist join Emmanuel Macron’s new government

Are we on track to <2°C in 2025?

IEA:  Out of 26 indicators:
* 3 on track
* 15 more efforts needed
* 8 not on track

Arctic sea ice / Re: Interruption for Medical Emergency
« on: May 20, 2017, 04:09:47 PM »
Is there a meteorologist in the house?

Do you know CPR?  I'll take a pulse....,323.msg113973.html#msg113973

The rest / Re: The Trump Presidency (was "Presidential Poll")
« on: May 20, 2017, 03:58:05 PM »
Trump is trying to run the government like his business. That's why he's failing.
His most recent misstep, firing FBI Director James Comey a few months after reportedly asking him to drop the investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, is a perfect example.

CEOs don't persuade people; they dictate. And they fire those who refuse to carry out their demands. Even more importantly, a CEO of a privately held company (like the Trump organization) operates like a king over his personal fiefdom. His employees work for him; they have no higher obligation to shareholders.

This is how Trump has governed — demanding do-or-die votes in Congress, threatening legislators who don't toe the line, and bullying a FBI director into abandoning an inconvenient investigation.

You can behave like this when you're the chief executive of a company with your name on it. But it doesn't work and is wildly inappropriate when you're the president of the United States.

India's new tax structure classifies hybrids the same as SUV's and luxury cars, ~43% -- while all-electric vehicles are taxed at 12%!
Apparently several automakers were putting only tiny 1kwh batteries in their hybrids, to get the previous hybrid tax rate of 12.5%

GST: Highest Rate For Hybrids, Electric Vehicles Get Tax Incentive

A more detailed look at the plan:
Exclusive: India's green car plan prioritizes electric vehicles over hybrids

The auto industry's reaction:
GST rate on hybrid vehicles against green mobility: Auto industry

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: May 20, 2017, 12:54:36 AM »
“This is supposed to last for eternity....”

The Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts
No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change

Some cities have had one driver trucks with a driver controlled claw to pick and dump individual garbage cans for some decades. The new tech may not be a huge improvement in these cases.
Riverside California has such a system and I believe Kingman AZ. also uses this tech. Not sure how widespread it is.

Good point on the personnel requirements!  However, autonomous driving would be smoother than human driving, and thus less wear and tear on the vehicle.  And, autonomous driving works best if the vehicle is electric, so you would have the associated benefits of emissions (and noise!) reduction and increased energy efficiency.  Taking the next step, expect fully-autonomous garbage trucks that will pick up trash from RFID-labelled garbage cans, without human assistance....   :o

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