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Topics - Sigmetnow

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Policy and solutions / Elon Musk tests positive and negative for SARS-CoV-2
« on: November 13, 2020, 01:50:35 PM »
New thread, so as to not clog up the Tesla thread with this news.

Everyone, please remain calm.
Elon Musk (@elonmusk)11/13/20, 12:47 AM
Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for covid four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD.
< Hmmmm.... Are you feeling any symptoms?
Elon Musk (@elonmusk)11/13/20, 12:52 AM
Symptoms of a typical cold. Nothing unusual so far.
< Could this be why we’ve been seeing such a major spike?
Elon Musk (@elonmusk)11/13/20, 12:50 AM
 If it’s happening to me, it’s happening to others. I’m getting PCR tests from separate labs. Results will take about 24 hours.

<Revenues from tests are likely not bogus & very consistent
Elon Musk (@elonmusk)11/13/20, 12:57 AM

Breaking — Elon Musk Tests Positive For SARS-CoV-2

Elon Musk (@elonmusk)11/13/20, 6:16 AM
@cleantechnica Technically, I tested positive, then negative twice, then positive again, so “Elon Musk Tests Negative for Covid” is an equally correct title. The “rapid antigen test” from BD seems to be about as useful as a flipping a coin.

< Which symptoms did you have?
Elon Musk (@elonmusk)11/13/20, 6:23 AM
Mild sniffles & cough & slight fever past few days. Right now, no symptoms, although I did take NyQuil.

Pranay Pathole:
An individual antibody test is unreliable on it's own because they were developed extremely quickly in order to have some way to detect covid at all ...
Pranay Pathole:
Some of the antibody rapid tests (now no longer manufactured) were literally just over 50% accuracy of positive results - meaning half the time, when you test positive, it might actually still be negative. That's why @elonmusk got tested 4 different times

Policy and solutions / New or Alternate Foods & Agricultural Methods
« on: July 23, 2020, 07:42:06 PM »
Culture, habits, and availability drive what foods we eat and how we produce them.  But AGW and new technologies are inspiring new options.

This article is more to the point in this topic than the Vegan thread.

KFC has teamed up with a Russian biotech company to 3D-print chicken nuggets
According to a recent press release, KFC wants to become a "restaurant of the future" by "crafting the 'meat of the future,'" with help from a Russian company called 3D Bioprinting Solutions. This initiative, "arose among partners in response to the growing popularity of a healthy lifestyle and nutrition, the annual increase in demand for alternatives to traditional meat and the need to develop more environmentally friendly methods of food production."

If all goes to plan — which is definitely a thing that happens in the Hell Year 2020 — KFC will begin to sell the world's first lab-grown chicken nuggets in Moscow in the fall.

These lab-grown nuggies will of course still feature the same blend of 11 spices and herbs that made them famous, while combining chicken cells with plant material, "allowing it to reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat almost without involving animals in the process." It's not clear if they'll be vegan friendly, or if they're meant to vaguely compete with fully plant-based meats like the Beyond or Impossible Burger.

The press releases — shared verbatim across companies — includes some thoughts on the project's environmental sustainability as well:

Biomeat has exactly the same microelements as the original product, while excluding various additives that are used in traditional farming and animal husbandry, creating a cleaner final product. Cell-based meat products are also more ethical – the production process does not cause any harm to animals. Along with that, KFC remains committed to continuous improvement in animal welfare from the farm and through all aspects of our supply chain, including raising, handling, transportation and processing.

Also, according to a study by the American Environmental Science & Technology Journal, the technology of growing meat from cells has minimal negative impact on the environment, allowing energy consumption to be cut by more than half, greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 25 fold and 100 times less land to be used than traditional farm-based meat production. ...

Consequences / Drought 2020
« on: January 05, 2020, 07:57:19 PM »
New year, new decade.

In the US: a bit unusual to see California normal but the Pacific Northwest (short-term) dry.

Consequences / Drought 2019
« on: February 21, 2019, 08:15:59 PM »
“We’ve decoupled growth from water.  We use the same amount of water that we did 20 years ago, but have added 400,000 more people.” In 2000, some 80 percent of Phoenix had lush green lawns; now only 14 percent does. The city has done this by charging more for water in the summer. Per capita usage has declined 30 percent over the last 20 years. “That’s a huge culture change.”

In Era of Drought, Phoenix, Arizona Prepares for a Future Without Colorado River Water

Consequences / Heatwaves
« on: July 20, 2018, 01:09:14 AM »
Need a thread for heat waves and their effects.  So here we go.

UPDATE 2-Texas power demand hits all-time peak during heat wave -ERCOT
July 18 (Reuters) - Texas homes and businesses set an all-time power consumption record on Wednesday as consumers crank up air conditioners to escape a brutal heat wave, according to the operator of most of the state's power grid.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said demand reached 71,438 megawatts (MW) on Wednesday, topping the grid's August 2016 high of 71,110 MW. One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes.

To keep air conditioners humming, Texas utilities bought electricity from all sources, boosting power prices to their highest in almost seven years. ...

Science / Emerging trends in global freshwater availability
« on: May 16, 2018, 08:15:56 PM »
Newly analyzed data from groundwater-detecting satellites reveals a clear human fingerprint on the global water cycle.

“We are very literally seeing all of the hotspots for climate change, for changing extremes of flooding and drought, and for the impact of human water management….”

The map offers a powerful first glimpse of what climate change and over-exploitation of water resources looks like — a “global pattern of freshwater redistribution, due to climate change,” according to Famiglietti. It’s stark, visual evidence that the way humans use water is unsustainable.
The study’s authors took 14 years of data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which measures minute fluctuations in the Earth’s gravitational field as water moves around the planet. They then tried to track down the root causes of the biggest changes they found — an analysis that took eight years to complete. In two-thirds of the cases, the researchers discovered a direct link to human activity. And in some of those, especially in remote regions of southern Africa and China, the colossal scale of the shifts was previously unknown.

The study:
Emerging trends in global freshwater availability
Freshwater availability is changing worldwide. Here we quantify 34 trends in terrestrial water storage observed by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites during 2002–2016 and categorize their drivers as natural interannual variability, unsustainable groundwater consumption, climate change or combinations thereof. Several of these trends had been lacking thorough investigation and attribution, including massive changes in northwestern China and the Okavango Delta. Others are consistent with climate model predictions. This observation-based assessment of how the world’s water landscape is responding to human impacts and climate variations provides a blueprint for evaluating and predicting emerging threats to water and food security.

The next generation of GRACE satellites, now scheduled for launching next Tuesday, May 22, should provide additional evidence of exactly how humans are altering the planet’s water cycle, and with more accuracy.

Glaciers / Andes Glaciers
« on: May 06, 2018, 12:44:49 AM »
In 1941, Lake Palcacocha spewed a glacial lake outburst flood that destroyed the city of Huaraz, Peru.  Today, fueled by tourism, Huaraz has grown into the second largest city in the central Peruvian Andes—its population has quadrupled.  And the volume of the lake is now 34 times greater than it was in 1941 — a ticking time bomb of 4.5 billion gallons of water.

Beneath a Melting Glacier, a Peruvian Town Prepares For the Worst

The forum / Embedding Tweets?
« on: January 29, 2018, 04:57:37 PM »
Viewing Tweets through Safari, it suggests I can share the tweet via an “Embed Tweet” option to “publish the tweet.”

And it gives me code like this:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Mt. Fuji vs Clouds <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; 日本 (@japaninpics) <a href="">January 27, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Which of course I tested by pasting into a comment and posting, but it just printed the text.

Is there an extra bit of html needed to embed a tweet?

More importantly, do you want tweets embedded, or do you prefer simply posting a link to the tweet, the way I have been doing?  I am thinking mainly of tweets with gifs or short videos, to give an idea of what you’ll find at the link.

Consequences / Volcanoes
« on: September 24, 2017, 09:51:38 PM »
A major eruption of Mount Agung in [Bali] Indonesia could happen at any time. This volcano has potential to temporarily cool the global climate.

Bali’s Mount Agung threatens to erupt for the first time in more than 50 years

Mount Agung in Bali at highest alert level 4. These are the alert levels for volcanoes in Indonesia. @USConGenSby @usaidindonesia

More tremors as Mt Agung threatens to erupt

Permafrost / Melting permafrost flowing like lava in Tibet
« on: September 10, 2017, 02:46:18 PM »
This video is circulating on Wechat & Weibo, melting permafrost, flowing like lava in #Tibet.

I have no other details on this....  :o

Policy and solutions / The Cost to Mitigate Climate Change
« on: May 29, 2017, 04:13:24 PM »
There are many methods of reducing greenhouse gasses.  Some are inexpensive but don't do much.  Some will generate major cost savings.  This study compares abatement potential versus cost.

How much will it cost to mitigate climate change?
What is an ‘abatement cost curve’?

An abatement cost curve measures two key variables, as shown on McKinsey&Company’s chart below: abatement potential and the cost of abatement.

‘Abatement potential’ is the term we use to describe the magnitude of potential GHG reductions which could be technologically and economically feasible to achieve. We measure this in tonnes (or thousand/million/billion tonnes) of greenhouse gases (which is abbreviated as carbon dioxide equivalents, or CO2e). Note that our measure of CO2e includes all greenhouse gases, not just CO2.2 So, on the x-axis we have the abatement potential of our range of options for reducing our GHG emissions; here, each bar represents a specific technology or practice.3 The thicker the bar, the greater its potential for reducing emissions.

Policy and solutions / Aviation
« on: May 22, 2016, 01:10:23 PM »
Time for Aviation to have its own thread.  Airplanes, helicopters, blimps, balloons, drones.  Flying cars?  Space tourism? 
Aviation's contribution to greenhouse gasses.  And, giving up flying for the sake of your carbon footprint:

Here's the solar-and-battery-powered Solar Impulse 2 landing in Dayton, Ohio (home of the Wright brothers!) under an almost-full moon.  Solar Impulse is flying around the world using no fuel, to encourage the growth of green energy.

Consequences / Health Effects of Climate Change
« on: April 06, 2016, 02:13:06 AM »
Studies increasingly show adverse health effects resulting from climate change.  The latest report is the White House climate study.

Deaths, Floods and Pestilence Cited in White House Climate Study
Deadly heat waves, worsening air quality, and the increasing spread of illnesses like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus could kill tens of thousands of Americans and leave scores more battling chronic disease over the next century, the White House warned in a report released Monday.

All Americans are vulnerable to climate change affecting their health and the risks are varied and severe, administration officials said Monday. Air pollution and longer allergy seasons will exacerbate asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The chances of food and waterborne illnesses will increase. Droughts and floods will become more frequent. And extreme weather events -- and their disruption to public services and health infrastructure -- will be more likely and more severe.

“This isn’t just about glaciers and polar bears, it’s about the health of our families and kids,” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said in a briefing with reporters.

Climate change threat to public health worse than polio, White House warns
Obama administration report details the diversity of risks and claims global warming is a far more challenging danger than polio virus in some cases

Scroll down at this link for a synopsis and a link to the White House report itself.

2014 was not a fluke. :P  Global CO2 energy emissions were flat again or even slightly less in 2015 -- even without an economic decline.  If (and it's a big IF) developing countries continue to choose to add clean energy over fossil fuels, and we continue the progress in clean energy generation, efficiency and storage, the emissions curve should maintain this trend, then begin a decline.  The question becomes more one of speed, rather than eventuality.
Roughly a year ago, the International Energy Agency announced a wonky yet nonetheless significant development. Looking at data for the year 2014, the agency found that although the global economy grew — by 3.4 percent that year — greenhouse gas emissions from the use of energy (their largest source) had not. They had stalled at about 32.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, just as in 2013.

The agency called this a “decoupling” of growth from carbon dioxide emissions, and noted that it was the “the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.” For decades prior to 2014, economic growth had pretty much always meant more pollution of the atmosphere, and a worsening climate problem.

It now seems like 2014 wasn’t just a fluke — IEA is saying the same thing about 2015. In a news release Wednesday, the agency said that 2014’s hint of decoupling had now been “confirmed,” as 2015 also saw flat emissions combined with 3.1 percent global GDP growth. Emissions, the agency said, were just 32.1 billion metric tons in 2015, based on preliminary data — indicating perhaps even a slight downturn from 2014.
That this decoupling is occurring is certainly a landmark. The relationship between economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions (and other environmental assaults) has been intensively studied, based on the premise that, as one paper put it, “Energy is considered to be the life line of an economy.”

When people have more money, they can drive their cars more, take more trips on airplanes, buy new appliances, and much more. Businesses can build new plants and factories. Houses get constructed – and on, and on, and on. And it all takes energy.
So how do you break this relationship? Simple: Find a new way of getting energy. Sure enough, the IEA attributed the second straight year of decoupled growth and emissions to a greater uptake of renewable energy, particularly wind, and fewer emissions in China and the United States, the two largest emitters by far. The former country is cutting back its coal use deliberately, while in the U.S., market forces have had a similar effect, as cheap natural gas has pushed out a considerable volume of coal in electricity generation.

The finding echoes a late 2015 study, which also said that the year’s global carbon emissions appeared to have declined slightly, relative to 2014. However, at that time experts cautioned that it was far from clear that emissions had actually peaked overall – the growth slowdown might be temporary. Many rapidly developing nations, led by India, are actually expected to increase their use of fossil fuels over the coming decade or more, as global populations grow and energy demand increases.

Consequences / Forests: An Endangered Resource
« on: October 11, 2015, 07:40:25 PM »
Climate change is increasing the vulnerability of many U.S. forests through fire, insect infestations, drought, and disease outbreaks. Forests play an important role in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, but the rate of uptake is projected to decline.

Explore interactions between climate change and forests. 

From:  the National Climate Assessment

Policy and solutions / Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: September 09, 2015, 01:34:29 AM »
The strange link between global climate change and the rise of the robots
We’ve already heard of all the nasty consequences that could occur if the pace of global climate change doesn’t abate by the year 2050 — we could see wars over water, massive food scarcity, and the extinction of once populous species. Now add to the mix a potentially new wrinkle on the abrupt and irreversible changes – superintelligent robots would be just about ready to take over from humanity in the event of any mass extinction event impacting the planet.

In fact, according to a mind-blowing research paper published in mid-August by computer science researchers Joel Lehman and Risto Miikkulainen, robots would quickly evolve in the event of any mass extinction (defined as the loss of at least 75 percent of the species on the planet), something that’s already happened five times before in the past.

In a survival of the fittest contest in which humans and robots start at zero (which is what we’re really talking about with a mass extinction event), robots would win every time. That’s because humans evolve linearly, while superintelligent robots would evolve exponentially. Simple math.

Think about it — robots don’t need water and they don’t need food — all they need is a power source and a way to constantly refine the algorithms they use to make sense of the world around them. If they figure out how to stay powered up after severe and irreversible climate change impacts – perhaps by powering up with solar power as they did in the Hollywood film “Transcendence” — robots could quickly prove to be “fitter” than humans in responding to any mass extinction event.

Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don't Fire Us?
Smart machines probably won't kill us all—but they'll definitely take our jobs, and sooner than you think.

ICYMI:  Lengthy but recommended article.
The AI Revolution: Our Immortality or Extinction

Consequences / Wildfires
« on: August 21, 2015, 01:28:27 PM »
Western Wildfires: Experts from Australia Will Help U.S. Firefighters
More than 70 firefighting experts from Australia and New Zealand will travel to the United States to help tackle deadly wildfires across the West as local officials warned they could not keep up with the spread of the flames.
"We cannot keep up. We do not have the resources. It's nonstop," Okanogan County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Dave Rodriguez said. "It's all burning, and we don't have the resources available. We cannot get out and put boots on the ground for all these fires."

What's New in Climate Change Acceptance and Action

News about Climate Change Acceptance, or related activity, doesn't always seem to fit well under the other threads.  Taking a tip from the Arctic Sea Ice section :) , now here's a place for it.

Climate Change Is Getting Its Own Museum
So what exactly is at the core of this mission? A museum based in New York City that chronicles the global and local impacts of climate change, the possible solutions and the connections that exist between every visitor to the museum and the world around them.

Consequences / Hansen et al paper: 3+ meters SLR by 2100
« on: July 20, 2015, 04:50:10 PM »
The new Hansen et al paper looks to be a very important one.  Ties in with ASIF threads like SLR, Places Becoming Less Livable, and discussions of the 2°C target.
@EricHolthaus: James Hansen: Sea level rise could top 10 feet by 2100. Peer reviewed study with 16 co-authors. Yikes.

@EricHolthaus: Today's paper by Hansen et al could prove a turning point on climate change action. NYC may have only ~50 yrs left.

The Daily Beast article:
James Hansen, the former NASA scientist whose congressional testimony put global warming on the world’s agenda a quarter century ago, is now warning that humanity could confront “sea level rise of several meters” before the end of the century unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed much faster than currently contemplated.

This roughly ten feet of sea level rise—well beyond previous estimates—would render coastal cities such as New York, London and Shanghai uninhabitable.  “Parts of [our coastal cities] would still be sticking above the water,” Hansen says, “but you couldn’t live there.”

Optimists deserve a moment of celebration!   \o/  Yay!

  Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.

We did it!  Without global economic collapse, please note.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.

The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries. In China, 2014 saw greater generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind, and less burning of coal. In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth – including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy – are producing the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.

By definition, since this is a first, it cannot be called "Business as Usual."
For 2015, I declare "Business As Usual" to mean: "Rescuing the Planet." 
(Hoping that soon, it will also mean, "Saving humankind.")

To everyone who helped, by lowering their carbon footprint, Thank You. 
To everyone who did not:  Shame on you!  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Eric Holthaus tweeted a list of things individuals can do.  There's more out there, but if you don't know where to start, start here:

  @EricHolthaus: For those sick of depressing climate headlines without the “so what can I *do* about it”? Here are some suggestions:

1. First off, it *is* still possible for us to keep climate change to manageable levels. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

2. That said, it’s going to be difficult (though not necessarily costly). It’s going to require making changes in our lives, though not bad.

3. The easiest and most effective way to limit your climate impact is to just use less stuff. Less fuel, less packaging, less impact.

4. Right now, that’s hard to do because, for a few more years, coal/oil are still cheaper than wind/solar renewable. That’s quickly changing

5. A major report ( on “deep decarbonization” found best way for US to cut carbon is to go almost totally electric.

6. But that will need all of our help to choose to power your homes by renewable energy. It’s usually only a couple more dollars per month.

7. Pretty soon it will actually be cheaper.

8. Run your numbers on a carbon calculator. I did, and found that flying was my #1 impact. So I stopped.

9. For most people, travel and diet are their two biggest impacts. Another huge way to help: give up meat.

10. The U.S. has largest historical responsibility for climate change of any country on Earth. We should lead & be an example for solutions.

11. Don’t think you’re too small to make a difference. You’re not. And it sucks it will cost you more money to do so. But it’s worth it.

12. Someday (soon, hopefully) you’ll be rewarded financially for cutting carbon. Until then, you have piece of mind you’re saving the EARTH

13. And, seriously, what could be more important than that.

14. Just b/c it’s hard to see & will probably affect Africa more than your hometown, doesn’t mean climate change isn’t a BFD. You can help.

15. Of course corporations/gov’ts have much bigger potential than individuals. But they’re made up of individuals, too.

16. As pessimistic as I can (often) be, I’m still hopeful that we’ll solve climate change… because we can, and we must.

17. Ok, carry on. Thanks for humoring me. (by our powers combined……..)

Optimists deserve a moment of celebration -- now let's get back to work!

Policy and solutions / Pope Francis' Encyclical on Climate Change
« on: March 11, 2015, 05:43:43 PM »
Perhaps no leader has the global reach of the Catholic pope.  His upcoming encyclical on climate change, and the discussion thereof, has the potential to sway the hearts and minds of millions.

Or does it?

Turkson argued that regulation alone won't stop global warming. He said a "changing of human hearts" is required and that religious teachings can "help to orient and integrate us as humans within the wider universe, to identify what is most important to us, what we revere, sustain and protect as sacred."

First Direct Observation of Carbon Dioxide’s Increasing Greenhouse Effect at the Earth’s Surface
Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect at the Earth’s surface for the first time. The researchers, led by scientists from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface over an eleven-year period at two locations in North America. They attributed this upward trend to rising CO2 levels from fossil fuel emissions.
“We measured radiation in the form of infrared energy. Then we controlled for other factors that would impact our measurements, such as a weather system moving through the area,” says Feldman.

The result is two time-series from two very different locations. Each series spans from 2000 to the end of 2010, and includes 3300 measurements from Alaska and 8300 measurements from Oklahoma obtained on a near-daily basis.

Both series showed the same trend: atmospheric CO2 emitted an increasing amount of infrared energy, to the tune of 0.2 Watts per square meter per decade. This increase is about ten percent of the trend from all sources of infrared energy such as clouds and water vapor.

Based on an analysis of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s CarbonTracker system, the scientists linked this upswing in CO2-attributed radiative forcing to fossil fuel emissions and fires.

The measurements also enabled the scientists to detect, for the first time, the influence of photosynthesis on the balance of energy at the surface. They found that CO2-attributed radiative forcing dipped in the spring as flourishing photosynthetic activity pulled more of the greenhouse gas from the air.

Policy and solutions / Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: February 14, 2015, 01:45:48 AM »
Batteries (and other types of energy storage) are the key to enable the switch from fossil fuels to the next generation:  renewables.  Lots to talk about!  Here's a sample of recent stories.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) and the grid:
Tapping the Power Potential of Plug-in Electric Vehicles

Tesla and Samsung to expand battery partnership?

Residential storage and the grid:
Tesla Wants to Build a Battery for Your House

Building a better battery:
Beating the polysulfide shuttle to build a solid-state battery approaching theoretical capacity

Boosting developing countries with clean energy:
Tanzania: Solar 'Generators' Power Up Remote Homes, Factories
70,000 Tanzanian Households Could Be Powered By New Solar Project

Policy and solutions / Energy Efficiency: The “First Fuel”
« on: February 07, 2015, 02:37:34 AM »
Energy efficiency.  It's not just changing light bulbs and adding weather stripping any more.  Businesses are using high tech (new sensor-controlled heating and cooling systems) and low tech (insulating pipes) and saving money and energy, with paybacks in one to several years.

Just how much savings?

IEA: "The Energy Efficiency Market Report 2014 (EEMR 2014) estimates that investment in energy efficiency markets worldwide in 2012 was between USD 310 billion and USD 360 billion. Investment in energy efficiency was larger than supply-side investment in renewable electricity or in coal, oil and gas electricity generation, and around half the size of upstream oil and gas investment. Investment in energy efficiency is distributed unevenly across countries and energy-consuming sectors (buildings, domestic appliances, transport and industry).

In 2011, energy savings from continued improvement in the energy efficiency of 11 IEA member countries equalled 1 337 million tonnes of oil-equivalent (Mtoe). This level exceeded the total final consumption (TFC) from any single fuel source in these countries, and was larger than the total 2011 TFC for the European Union from all energy sources combined. Energy efficiency savings in 11 IEA member countries were effectively displacing a continent’s energy demand.   

"The cheapest energy is the energy you don't have to produce in the first place."

Investing in Energy Efficiency Pays Off

Energy Efficiency May Be the Key to Saving Trillions

Since the 1970s, the United States and arguably much of the rest of the world have effectively broken the historical trend of energy consumption increasing in tandem with economic growth. The latter has kept going up while the former has plateaued. That means we’re figuring out how to do more with less; more wealth production for every unit of energy we use.

And because the rebound effect — the tendency of people to consume more energy as it becomes cheaper — tends to be much smaller than the total energy savings, energy efficiency is a crucial tool in reducing humanity’s carbon emissions. In projections IEA laid out for how the world can stay under 2°C of global warming, energy efficiency accounts for 40 percent of the emission reductions — the biggest single contributor.   

To save you some typing ;) , here's an ACEEE white paper on the energy efficiency rebound effect:
  There have been more than 100 studies published that attempt to estimate direct rebound effects for specific energy efficiency programs and policies. Many of these are evaluations of individual programs. These studies indicate that direct rebound effects will generally be about 10% or less.

Permafrost / Dark Snow
« on: January 14, 2015, 03:20:20 AM »
Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Is Coming to America
Changes in albedo are responsible for a significant fraction of global warming—about one-fourth as much as greenhouse gases, according to a recent study. If you’ve ever walked barefoot from light-colored concrete to black asphalt on a hot summer day, you’ll know what I mean. The increase in darkness due to dirt or wildfire soot or smokestack pollution literally changes the melt rate of the snow, causing it to disappear more quickly. Hence this alarming chart.

A recent study showed Northern Hemisphere snow cover is declining faster than climate models have predicted, at a rate that outpaces even the stunning decline of Arctic sea ice. Another line of research has linked fluctuation of snow cover in Siberia and the decline of Arctic sea ice with recent bouts of weird weather in the eastern United States. What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.

Policy and solutions / If not Capitalism... then What? And, How?
« on: January 04, 2015, 02:40:11 AM »
Economists, scientists, and even the current Pope, and Catholic Bishops from every continent, are calling for an end to capitalism.  They see this new paradigm as positive, not destructive.  Eminently doable.  And already underway.

Worried about the shit hitting the fan on climate change and other major crises? Good. Because those crises prove that we have an unprecedented opportunity to change the world.
Far from being all doom and gloom, continuing global economic fragility is symptomatic of a fundamental shift in the very nature of civilization itself. The new era of slow growth and austerity has emerged because the biosphere is forcing us to adapt to the consequences of breaching environmental limits.
This fundamental shift has also brought about significant changes that offer profound opportunities for systemic transformation that could benefit humanity and the planet. These five interlinked revolutions in information, food, energy, finance and ethics are opening up opportunities for communities to co-create new ways of being that work for everyone. This year we could discover that the very disruption of capitalism itself is part of a major tipping point in the transition to a new post-industrial, post-capitalist paradigm.

The world is currently, quite clearly, at the dawn of a huge technological revolution in information that has already in the space of a few years transformed the way we do things, and is pitched to trigger ongoing changes in coming decades.


Seba told me that conventional EROIE calculations are potentially misleading because they ignore critical costs and externalities, especially in land and water usage, waste and pollution. Applying the concept of Energy Payback Time (EPBT) to photovoltaic (PV) solar panels—where EPBT is how long it takes to produce the same quantity of energy that was used to create and install the panels—Seba notes that recent thin film technologies will pay back this energy in around just one year. After that point, effectively, energy is generated for free. If a thin film panel produces energy for 25 years, then its EROIE is 25. “This is far higher than the published results for most forms of energy today, including oil, gas, wind, and nuclear,” Seba said....


With global food prices at record levels in the context of these challenges, combined with the pressures of climate-induced extreme weather, volatile oil prices, and speculation by investors, the incentive to develop greater resilience in locally accessible food production is also growing....


The information, food and energy revolutions are being facilitated by a burgeoning revolution in finance. Once again, the emerging trend is for new models that give greater power to the crowd, and undermine the authority and legitimacy—and even necessity—of the traditional, centralized banking infrastructure....


The old and new paradigms can be clearly related to two quite different value systems. The first paradigm, which is currently in decline, is that of egoism, crude materialism, and selfish consumerism....

In contrast, a value system associated with the emerging paradigm is also supremely commensurate with what most of us recognize as ‘good’: love, justice, compassion, generosity. This has the revolutionary implication that ethics, often viewed as ‘subjective’, in fact have a perfectly objective and utilitarian function in the fundamental evolutionary goal of species survival. In some sense, ethics provide us a value-driven benchmark to recognize the flaws in the old paradigm, and glimpse the opportunities for better social forms.
The model that is fast developing and disrupting this paradigm from within, is one premised on open access to information; distributed and effectively free, clean energy; local, community and democratic ownership over planetary resources; and a form of prosperity and well-being that is ultimately decoupled from the imperative for endless material accumulation.

Policy and solutions / UN Climate Agreement - Paris 2015 and beyond
« on: October 15, 2014, 06:04:55 PM »
Might be helpful to start amassing the "will they, or won't they, sign a significant treaty in Paris" comments under one thread.

Here's the latest proposal:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States wants to broker a global agreement on climate change that would contain some legal elements but would stop short of being legally binding on an international level, the country's top diplomat on climate change issues said.

Todd Stern, the State Department climate change special envoy, addressed one of the thorniest issues in ongoing talks to secure a global plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions – its legal form.

Stern said a recent proposal by New Zealand for countries to submit a "schedule" for reducing emissions that would be legally binding and subject to mandatory accounting, reporting and review offers an approach that could get the buy-in of countries like the United States that are wary of ratifying an internationally binding treaty.

The content of the schedule itself and the actions each country pledges would not be legally binding at an international level.

Given the increased activity in investing in clean energy, divesting from fossil fuels, and legislation supporting (or hindering) the switch to renewables, perhaps a thread devoted to the "Money and Politics" of addressing climate change is apropos.

Recent divestitures:

Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels

Separately, almost 350 global institutional investors representing more than $24 trillion in assets have called on governments to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions and phase out subsidies to fossil-fuel industries. The signatories to the carbon-price statement include the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS, BlackRock and major investors from Europe, Asia and Australia.

 - - - -

ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has been pushing anti-renewables legislation in the States, with a few successes out of their many attempts.  But recently they have fallen out of favor with numerous large companies, due to that stance -- or, granted, perhaps purely due to the companies' public image concerns.  But less money and support for ALEC means less anti-climate-change legislation making the rounds.

Tech Companies Are Dropping ALEC En Masse

Occidental Petroleum is cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council amid backlash against the organization’s stance on climate change.

 - - - -

The new, clearer approach of talking about "Zero Net Carbon in 2050" rather than "limit warming to 2°C" is a genius kind of (political) marketing.  Similarly, the idea of ditching a "carbon tax" and instead calling for "major support for renewables and renewable product development" (partially funded by carbon emitters and consumers???) just seems so much more palatable.  "Support more jobs and keep ahead in the global tech race!"  Rather than "let's punish you and those nasty fossil fuel companies who made your life so comfortable."

The UNFCCC recently introduced the idea of ‘carbon neutrality’, which the Marshall Island’s Foreign Minister representative who was also speaking on the panel said engages more people than the “2 degrees” conversation, and should therefore be the “guiding light” for global talks in Paris. Carbon neutrality means reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero and then ‘offsetting’ an equal amount of any remaining emissons.

 - - - -
A couple cross-posts:

Steven Cohen argues in the Huffington Post that a carbon tax is not needed; we should instead fight for the funding of the basic research required to make the transition to a fossil fuel-free economy.

...The fact that the U.S. has not signed onto a meaningless non-binding resolution on the way to another round of meaningless climate talks in Paris next year is a non-issue.

Instead of wasting time and effort on a futile attempt to tax carbon, we should be gearing up our national laboratories, research universities and high-tech sector on a massive effort to invent new forms of renewable energy. New battery technology, carbon capture and storage, new energy efficiency technologies and smart energy transmission technologies should be part of the mix....

Big businesses climate momentum increased during Climate Week NYC:
"There were a lot of heads of state leading up to this [summit] that were very curious about what companies were going to say because they needed talking points for their they could say, look, this isn't going to kill jobs, this is something that a lot of companies are behind, and this is, in a lot of cases, good for the economy," Metzger said.

He paraphrased comments from Ikea CEO Peter Agnefjall, who urged an audience of government leaders to act boldly on climate change, reassuring them, "You take that ambitious step, and we'll be there to support you. We'll be there behind you."

That kind of message, Metzger said, "helps a lot for those heads of state who feel like they're putting their neck out there with industry if they're going to regulate carbon or put a price on carbon."

This Sunday, upwards of 100,000 people are expected to take to the streets of New York City in a worldwide climate protest that organizers say will be the largest and most diverse in history.

If these numbers prove correct, then the "People's Climate March" will likely mark the moment when global warming transitions from being a science and policy issue into a full-fledged social movement. Perhaps it will become as large as the gay rights and civil rights movements. But even if it doesn't, it could play a crucial part in changing the political environment on this seemingly intractable issue.

As a sign of the march’s import, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will “lock arms” with protesters in New York, a highly unusual step for a someone in his leadership position. The march is intended to help build the social movement while also prodding world leaders to make meaningful commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when more than 120 of them gather at a U.N. Climate Summit that Ban is hosting on Tuesday.
@afreedma: Keep seeing signs for #PeoplesClimate march all over NYC. Why this event may be a really big deal:

@insideclimate: Next week will be a big one for #climatechange activity and ICN will be there covering it. Here's our plan:

Consequences / National Climate Assessment (US)
« on: May 09, 2014, 01:47:24 AM »
President Obama unveiled the latest US climate report this week by sitting down with meteorologists for one-on-one interviews -- a bid to better get the message across by using the communicators more people trust.  Four years in the making, the report is downloadable, but the website is amazing:

The new assessment reflects the immersive digital experience most people expect in 2014. The site is beautifully designed, easy to navigate, and dare we say, modern. A silent looping video of palm trees whipping in the wind introduces a chapter on extreme weather, and interactive graphics abound, allowing users to delve into key climate change indicators in as much detail as they want. And you can actually look at it on a cell phone without squinting or wanting to smash your screen in frustration. It’s a far cry from slogging through static pages or links to PDFs.
Here it is:

And how did cable news cover it?  No surprise, Al Jazeera spent 120 minutes on in-depth coverage -- while Fox described it as a distraction (from things Fox prefers to rant about).

Policy and solutions / Better Tomorrows
« on: March 18, 2014, 01:26:52 AM »
Many of the discussions about "the future" on this forum seem to be about "BAU until we all die," or "Global collapse now, then we die."  Perhaps we need a separate thread like this where other, more positive scenarios can be considered?  Think of it as science fiction if you wish.   If necessary, this thread can be moved over next to the nice poetry and art items.  :-)

Climate change is happening; it's caused by the burning of fossil fuels;  we must stop using fossil fuels as quickly as possible;  climate change is going to get much worse;  it's going to be horribly expensive to act on;  the developing world needs help;  life as we know in the developed world will definitely change -- BUT -- there are still many different paths out of this scenario!  In the early 1930s, did anyone foresee disparate countries coming together to fight a "world" war?  Or could they guess that a huge chunk of the US manufacturing sector would be turned over to the war effort, practically overnight?  Or that rationing and mandatory blackouts would happen?  Given the unpredictability of humankind, I do not believe that the total collapse of civilization due to climate change is inevitable. 

The future scenario I would like to share is based on known, improving technology.  I am suggesting big changes, a new "valence state," if you will, as a result of fighting this global climate war.  It will be a lower energy state, because we won't have anywhere near the amount of power we got from fossil fuels -- but we won’t need that much!   As we totally revamp the energy, food and industrial sectors, it will make sense to revise social and economic approaches, as well.  A less materialistic and less capitalist state only makes sense.

Here’s how I see it:

1). Income.  Everyone is paid a monthly living wage.  So, since there's no need to be employed in order to live comfortably, unnecessary jobs (e.g., manufacturing, and most food production and service) can be eliminated.  People will work at what they love, which might be in government, or service, or farming; or they might be an artist, or they may do nothing at all.

2). Food.  Most cropland and herds have been demolished by climate change.  As traditional food prices skyrocket, 3D food printers take their place in every village, restaurant, household.  Big Ag turns to krill, algae, and insect sources to supply the base food mix needed for food printers.  No longer does feeding the world depend on large tracts of arable land and just the right kind of weather.  Environments can start to heal.  Small, sustainable farms exist where the climate permits.

3) Power.  Fossil fuels were eliminated.  Renewable energy and storage continue to become more efficient.  New buildings are self-sustaining. Between power cutbacks and ubiquitous 3D printers, most manufacturing plants closed.  The remaining "Industry" no longer requires large amounts of power from a national grid.  People discover they do just fine without a lot of "stuff", particularly when they can print what they need, when they need it.

4). Everything is recycled.  “Trash is the new gold.”

5). Land once used for farming can now be used for housing, helping to reduce overcrowding.  A typical house or apartment is "smart" and needs no extra devices like lamps, TVs, clock radios or fans. It probably has a food printer, but it has no kitchen or laundry.  The power it requires is small and is generated locally; water is heated with renewables and is recycled.  Water that would once have been used for irrigation or energy or manufacturing can now be supplied for (efficient) personal use.

6).  Cars.  Yes, there will be cars!  And trucks!  Not many, mostly commercial, and all-electric.  Lots of public transportation methods, and residential/work/play communities that enourage walking and biking.

I hope others will post additional positive possibilities.  Food for Thought.

Consequences / Dahr Jamail, The Climate Change Scorecard
« on: December 25, 2013, 02:50:03 AM »
Dahr Jamail, The Climate Change Scorecard

"November 2013: The International Energy Agency predicts a 3.5C increase by 2035."

"Fifty-five million years ago, a five degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures seems to have occurred in just 13 years ."

 "While the human body is potentially capable of handling a six to nine degree Celsius rise in the planetary temperature, the crops and habitat we use for food production are not."

“The long-term sea level that corresponds to current CO2 concentration is about 23 meters above today’s levels, and the temperatures will be 6 degrees C or more higher. These estimates are based on real long-term climate records, not on models.”

"There is nothing that can be agreed in 2015 that would be consistent with the 2 degrees...  The only way that a 2015 agreement can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy."

Not exactly the Christmas Eve message I was hoping for, but we have what we have.

This topic could include government money, taxes, and divestment, as well as personal spending.  But I’d like to share this fast-paced, 5-minute video.  It outlines what we know about climate change, what it’s costing us, and some places where we might invest.   A surprisingly cogent introduction to the topic -- from Yahoo Finance!

Arctic background / Arctic Drilling and Shipping
« on: August 17, 2013, 04:36:53 PM »
I can see Arctic Drilling topics regarding the US, and Shell, but I found an article from Norway... so I agree with Neven and I started this central Arctic Drilling thread... now.    :D

Well, it is the Greenland AND Arctic Circle category. Could've gone into the Arctic Sea Ice or Consequences section, but this will do. Maybe what's needed is a central drilling thread, but we'll reconsider it in 2015, or hopefully later.

    Arctic drilling too risky warns Norwegian study on ‘stranded assets’

"Arctic and deepwater drilling will prove too costly to exploit as governments work to limit temperature rise to below 2°C, warns a new report aimed at analysing Norway’s oil and gas industry’s exposure to stranded assets.

The major new report, commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment is the latest analysis to raise concerns over the formation of a ‘carbon bubble’. It assessed the potential consequences of reduced CO2 emissions on global oil and gas production.

...Significantly, it predicts that the shift towards cleaner energy sources will mean only the most cost-effective oil resources will be exploited, calculating that any field with a break-even price of more than $72 per barrel is unlikely to prove viable.

The report states that this cut-off point would make 60% of fields that have been discovered but undeveloped uncommercial, including reserves in the Arctic and other deepwater zones."

Consequences / Lake Effects
« on: July 28, 2013, 07:44:54 PM »
Increased evaporation and lessened ice coverage may mean the new normal for the Great Lakes of North America is warmer water, with a much lower water level than in past decades.  Ship traffic, recreation, even drinking water supplies and sewage disposal are affected.

Glaciers / Alaska Glaciers
« on: July 27, 2013, 05:02:59 PM »
Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska, has started to periodically flood the Mendenhall River on which the city sits.

As water builds up in the basin and seeks an outlet, it can actually lift portions of the glacier ever so slightly, and in that lift, the water finds a release. Under the vast pressure of the ice bearing down upon it, the water explodes out into the depths of Mendenhall Lake and from there into the river.

Glaciologists even have a name for the process, which is happening in many places all over the world as climates change: jokulhlaup, an Icelandic word usually translated as “glacier leap.”

Greenland and Arctic Circle / The Nares Strait thread
« on: March 31, 2013, 01:02:14 AM »
The perennial question: when will the Nares Strait ice bridge break up?

Here’s a teaser: looks like the Navy HYCOM ice thickness maps show mass movement there next week.  Run 3/28/2013, valid 3/29 to 4/5.

See if this one plays out!

Policy and solutions / Is this the Nuclear Fusion we are looking for?
« on: March 25, 2013, 09:07:42 PM »
Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works” is promising fusion power in four years:

“Lockheed's fusion power plant uses radio energy to heat deuterium gas inside tightly controlled magnetic fields, creating a very high temperature plasma that's much more stable and well confined than you'd find in something like a tokamak.”

“Charles Chase describes what his team has been working on: a trailer-sized fusion power plant that turns cheap and plentiful hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) into helium plus enough energy to power a small city.”

“Chase didn't give a whole lot more technical detail, but he seemed confident in predicting a 100mW prototype by 2017, with commercial 100mW systems available by 2022, implying that all global energy demands will be able to be met by fusion power by about 2045. No more oil, no more coal, no more nuclear, and not even any solar or wind or hydro will be necessary (unless you're into that sort of thing): fusion has the potential to produce as much affordable clean power as we'll ever need, for the entire world."

Brief article and a 15 minute video here:

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