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Messages - Sigmetnow

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Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: March 26, 2015, 01:16:36 AM »
On Tuesday, Maryland legislators passed legislation that would place strong limits on the extraction of natural gas in the state.

Obama: Federal fleet must be 50 percent plug-ins by 2025
President Obama signed an executive order Thursday directing the federal government to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2008 levels by 2025. As a part of this plan, plug-in vehicles are to make up 20 percent of government agencies’ fleets by 2020, and 50 percent by 2025. Agencies will also have to ensure that there is sufficient charging infrastructure.

“America once again is going to be leading by example,” said the President. “We’re proving that it is possible to grow our economy robustly while at the same time doing the right thing for our environment and tackling climate change in a serious way.”

Consequences / Re: CA Drought Emergency Declared
« on: March 25, 2015, 08:23:17 PM »
How much rain has San Francisco missed in the 4-year drought? More than 2.5 FEET...  over a year of rain. 
Rain in SF since July 2011:  61.5 inches.  4 years of "average" rain would be 92.6 inches.

@NWSHanford: 4 YEARS OF DROUGHT...Images of Half Dome in YNP taken every year on Mar 19th since 2012. #cawx

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: March 25, 2015, 08:10:13 PM »
The US coal sector is in a “structural decline” which has sent 26 companies bust in the last three years, according to financial analysts.

A report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative found that in the past five years the US coal industry lost 76% of its value. At least 264 mines were closed between 2011 and 2013. The world’s largest private coal company, Peabody Energy, lost 80% of its share price.

These declines were in spite of the Dow Jones industrial average increasing by 69% during the same period. Authors said this indicated a decoupling of US economic growth from coal.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 25, 2015, 08:03:38 PM »
Genetic tools lead to breeding of beans that can beat the heat, which could save the “meat of the poor” from global warming.
The new beans are a landmark result of urgent efforts by CGIAR to develop new crop varieties that can thrive in drastic weather extremes. The bedrock of this research is CGIAR’s “genebanks”, which preserve the world’s largest seed collections of humanity’s most important staple crops. Using new genomic tools, plant breeders are now better able to unlock the potential of the genebanks’ vast genetic diversity by probing nearly 750,000 samples of cereals, legumes, roots and tubers, trees, and other important food crops—along with their wild relatives—to identify genes with traits like heat, flood, and drought tolerance or resistance to pests and disease that can help farmers adapt to environmental stresses.

“The payoff we are seeing from these bean breeding efforts underscores the vital importance of investing in CGIAR’s genebanks—a front-line defense in the race to adapt crops to climate change to protect the staple food supplies of poor farmers and consumers and avert food crises around the world,” said Jonathan Wadsworth, Executive Secretary of the CGIAR Fund Council. “The development of these heat-defying beans also highlights what can be achieved when we invest in modern science to find solutions to urgent challenges, with expected economic benefits vastly exceeding the costs of investment in the research.”

Protests surround Japan's "climate financing" of coal plants in India and Bangladesh that will use Japanese technology.

I agree with Neil deGrasse Tyson on this one:

I like this quote:   :)
Now we have a time where people are cherry picking science,” he said. “The science is not political. That’s like repealing gravity because you gained 10 pounds last week.”

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: March 25, 2015, 01:54:08 AM »
US coal crash serves as a warning to investors betting on carbon
“We’ve known for decades that coal posed serious health and environmental risks, but now coal has also become an investment risk as countries take serious actions to clear their air and protect the climate,” said Andrew Logan, director of the oil and gas program at Ceres, a non-profit sustainability organization.

“Investors have been pushing for coal and other fossil fuel companies to face facts and adapt their business models to thrive in a carbon-constrained world.”

The financial think-tank says the fate of US coal should serve as a warning to investors in other fossil fuel markets worldwide who fail to prudently read a structural shift away from hydrocarbons and blindly continue to invest in assets that are in increasingly in danger of becoming stranded. Earlier this month the International Energy Agency said that for the first time in 40 years CO2 emissions had stalled in 2014, a development that was not tied to a downturn in economic growth. It attributed the fall to changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries with the use of renewables and greater energy efficiency measures cited as contributing factors.

“The roof has fallen in on U.S. coal, and alarm bells should be ringing for investors in related sectors around the world,” said Andrew Grant, Carbon Tracker’s financial analyst and report co-author. “These first tremors are amongst the clearest signs yet of a seismic shift in energy markets, as high carbon fuels are set to be increasingly outperformed by lower carbon alternatives.
The industry’s plan B, to export production to assumed perennial growth markets in Asia, has also floundered amid a global market awash with supply from other countries and weak demand; Chinese coal consumption fell nearly 3% in 2014 while India, the world’s third largest buyer, says it may stop imports of thermal coal in the next three years With domestic markets collapsing and no lifeline from abroad, 264 US mines were closed between 2011 and 2013.

Policy and solutions / Re: But, but, but, China....
« on: March 25, 2015, 01:45:02 AM »
Chinese city prepares to pump almost $800M into electric car incentives
Shenzhen city, which is home to Warren Buffett-backed Chinese electric-car maker BYD Auto, will provide as much as 5 billion yuan ($799 million) in government funding to spur demand for green vehicles, according to an official statement released recently.

The statement says the fund will be used to subsidize purchasing of vehicles, to help reduce the cost of driving them, and to buy recharging infrastructure and develop regulations for Shenzhen, which is located just north of Hong Kong. It is one of the most crowded cities in the world, with more than 15 million inhabitants.

In addition to providing fiscal assistance, the statement notes, Shenzhen has ordered government departments and public transport agencies to purchase clean cars for their fleets.

Shenzhen's clean car promotion policy represents China's latest effort to remove fossil fuels from its transportation system. Policymakers here hope that an influx of clean cars will help the country fight pollution, cut carbon emissions and reduce its reliance on imported fuels.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 24, 2015, 09:10:41 PM »

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation that:
✓Repeals medical device excise tax
✓Ends tax-breaks for Big Oil
✓Closes free oil, gas drilling loophole

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 24, 2015, 05:44:56 PM »

Thanks. So I went out and read about SunEdison and their business model, and from what I can gather the utility agrees to purchase all the power generated at a fixed cost, regardless of its distribution and fluctuations.
IF I understood correctly, when the sun is shining, you get 100 MW and have to pay for them, and when the sun is hidden you get nothing and pay for nothing.  In my view this model is not scalable beyond a certain point. Today all electricity is priced alike using an average rate, but with high penetration of solar the utility might have an overabundance of power that it has to pay for even if it doesn't use it. One the other hand, during widespread cloudiness it will have to buy the missing power from other sources just at the time when power is scarce. Eventually this should translate into variable wholesale pricing and could cause losses for the utility (average prices during overabundance and high prices during scarcity = above-average rates in total).
Bob - I'll be happy to hear your thoughts on that.
Don't neglect the effect of battery storage....   :)

Policy and solutions / Re: Pope Francis' Encyclical on Climate Change
« on: March 24, 2015, 05:31:11 PM »
Head of US Episcopal church says climate denial is immoral
The Episcopalian church will host a webcast on 24 March to kick off a month-long action campaign designed to encourage church members to reduce their own carbon footprints and lobby government and international corporations to fight climate change.

An oceanographer before she was ordained at the age of 40, Bishop Jefferts Schori said she hoped to use her visibility as a church leader to help drive action on climate change.

As presiding bishop, she oversees 2.5m members of the Episcopal church in 17 countries, and is arguably one of the most prominent women in Christianity. The two largest denominations in the US, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists, do not ordain women.

Fun times at a Florida Senate budget subcommittee.

Awkward: Watch as Florida lawmaker mocks Rick Scott official for refusing to say ‘climate change’

Policy and solutions / Re: But, but, but, China....
« on: March 24, 2015, 12:57:45 AM »
Let's see if he keeps his job....

Top Chinese Official Says Climate Change Is “Serious Threat,” Could Have “Huge Impact”

A sign pro-fossil-fuel ALEC is too extreme for even the fossil fuel companies?

Oil Giant BP Drops Membership With ALEC
The oil-and-gas super company is just the latest big firm to leave the conservative group in recent months.

Consequences / Re: North Atlantic Ocean Currents
« on: March 24, 2015, 12:16:44 AM »
The news is spreading fast on Twitter -- but not always very clearly....  ;)

@MichaelEMann: "Atlantic Circulation Weaker Than In Last Thousand Years" @JohnUpton for @ClimateCentral:

@docfreeride: Having lots of journalists in my feed means I read [the above tweet] & thought, "Why is @MichaelEMann tweeting about magazines?"

@MichaelEMann: .@docfreeride Hah! Took me a moment...
Pretty sure @TheAtlantic wasn't in print during the Medieval area ;-)

@docfreeride: .@MichaelEMann @TheAtlantic There's "old media" and then there's OLD media!

Journalists have to decide what to do about candidates who are climate change denialists.
The linked article explores various options.

NYT: "Claims that the entire field of climate science is some kind of giant hoax do not hold water, and we have made a conscious decision that we are not going to take that point of view seriously."

Action taken against vociferous climate change troll "Steve Goddard".

@EricHolthaus: Wow, Twitter has suspended the account of uber-troll @SteveSGoddard.

Consequences / Re: CA Drought Emergency Declared
« on: March 23, 2015, 11:34:48 PM »
California Governor says presidential contender Ted Cruz is unfit to be president because of his denial position on climate change.
"Here's the point, that the buildup of carbon coming from coal and petroleum and other sources, that this is going to create these droughts and much, much worse. And that's why to have the leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell representing his coal constituents, are putting it at risk, the health and well being of America, is a disgrace," Brown said.

Calling the drought California's new normal, Brown wants a presidential campaign "almost at the level of a crusade" to make the public aware that man-made carbon dioxide emissions can have an affect on the climate. He implied that politicians who dismiss the scientific consensus on climate change are doing the bidding of profit-hungry constituents and corporate donors.

"The coal companies are not as important as the people of America and the people of the world," Brown said.

Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: March 23, 2015, 11:22:14 PM »
Dyson (the vacuum-cleaner company) invests $15 million in solid-state battery-maker Sakti3

Includes a TED video on Sakti3’s development of their solid-state battery.

Consequences / Re: North Atlantic Ocean Currents
« on: March 23, 2015, 09:22:52 PM »
Greg Laden has a blog post on it.  The video at the bottom intercuts scientists from today and clips from the disaster movie, "The Day After Tomorrow."    :-\

New Research Shows Exceptional Slowdown In Major Atlantic Ocean Currents

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 23, 2015, 03:49:21 PM »
Here's how the recent total eclipse affected Germany's power output.
Dear all,

just to put one thing clear: The eclipse never was seen as a threat to the German grid and power system but as a chance to test the infrastructure under future conditions: Just like in Italy they could also have shut down solar to avoid the steep power gradients. But they decided to take the chance and to test the current system under future conditions (at larger installation in the future morning/evening gradients will be similar) and the test passed. The situation was not a big deal after proper preparation, which must be standard in the years to come.
It was an interesting test, and Germany's success shows that the system can deal with the ups and downs of renewables.  One can hope it will quiet some of the detractors.   ;)

Text of an interview on climate activism with Bill McKibben of
What kind of obstacles prevent public engagement with scientific research? What obligations do scientists have, if any, to engage in climate politics beyond their own research?

In a rational world, Jim Hansen would not have to regularly end up in handcuffs. We would long since have heeded the scientific alarm and gotten to work. But in the real world, I fear scientists have the same civic duty as the rest of us: after hours and on weekends it’s time to join together in real protest.

Can we really use blockades and divestment as a mechanism to buy time while the price of renewables comes down in the market? Can that approach work quickly enough given the extreme limits of our time frame? What about the people before profit/ecology before economy models of climate activism?

I think we can freeze the growth of the fossil fuel industry long enough for renewables to take the lead in this race — the price of solar panels has fallen enormously in the last few years, and it will continue to plummet. Whether it happens fast enough to outpace the warming of the planet is an open question, but in any event putting people (and every other living thing) before the profit of the fossil fuel industry is key.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 23, 2015, 01:53:30 AM »
So when such a deal is signed in the US, what does it mean when it says 150 MW? Is this installed capacity, average supply, or guaranteed supply?
And who deals with power fluctuations (partly cloudy, etc.) and I assume the need to buy power on the spot market? Is it the local utility or SunEdison?
I'd be grateful for a clarification. These fixed solar contracts and the issue of fluctuations have been bothering me for some time.
Great questions!  Perhaps Bob Wallace can help.  In the meantime, although not exactly what you asked, I found this:

For instance, a 100 MW rated wind farm is capable of producing 100 MW during peak winds, but will produce much less than its rated amount when winds are light. As a result of these varying wind speeds, over the course of a year a wind farm may only average 30 MW of power production. Similarly, a 1,000 MW coal plant may average 750 MW of production over the course of a year because the plant will shut down for maintenance from time-to-time and the plant operates at less than its rated capability when other power plants can produce power less expensively.

And this, which suggest SunEdison manages the power balancing:
For utilities who prefer to own their solar installations, SunEdison can design, build, and provide operations and maintenance services to meet their requirements. For utilities who prefer to put their capital to work in other ways, a Power Purchase Agreement is often the best solution.

With a SunEdison PPA, you agree to purchase the power generated at a fixed cost, and that’s it. SunEdison or its subsidiary TerraForm Power will often retain ownership of the system once it’s up and running. You enjoy the benefits of a diverse energy portfolio, and we do the rest. And because we own the system, we’re as invested as you are in its performance.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 23, 2015, 01:17:43 AM »
Africa poses unique challenges to increased food production because there is little surface water.
Ninety-five per cent of sub-Saharan agriculture depends on 'green water': moisture from rain held in the soil. In large parts of the continent, most rain evaporates before it generates 'blue water', or run-off, so little of it recharges rivers, lakes and groundwater. Most farming communities are a long way from rivers and cannot use irrigation. Arid deserts and semi-arid savannahs comprise 40% of the region's land area. These receive too little surface run-off (less than 100 millimetres a year) to grow maize (corn), rice, millet and sorghum (which requires at least 400 mm per year) using irrigation alone. Future rainfall will be more variable and could be 25% lower in many semi-arid regions if average global temperatures warm by 2 °C above pre-industrial levels5.

Management of green water for rain-fed, small-scale farming is integral to eradicating hunger. But it is missing from the draft United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be agreed in September. A dedicated water goal that includes science-based targets and indicators is essential and must receive attention during the SDG negotiations in New York next week, in the wake of the World Water Day on 22 March.

We propose an approach for the SDG goal that will improve water security, address hunger and poverty and enhance carbon storage. Retaining more rainwater in soils and storing run-off would bridge dry spells that last weeks, the major challenge to rain-fed food production. For longer droughts, social and economic strategies are needed to assure food security.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 22, 2015, 06:59:08 PM »
UN/IRENA:  clean energy helps save world's precious water supply.

Consequences / Re: General Drought Stuff
« on: March 22, 2015, 06:52:46 PM »

Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: March 22, 2015, 05:11:08 PM »
Sweden 2015.
I would love to use an EV, unfortunately it's still not a viable option here in the countryside.

What about in another 43 years, 2058?
Hopefully development speeds up, because I'll be dead long before that.

Tesla and GM will have EV's out in 2017 with 200-mile range, priced around $25,000.  The next generation Nissan LEAF should be similar, and there will be others, plus lower-priced options.  You don't have very long to wait.


I am not promoting/supporting continued BAU human behavior; however, you might benefit from reviewing how Ray Kurzweil believes that human behavior will change in the next few decades due to such rapidly developing trends (see links) as "hybrid thinking" and "AI":


Cool idea!  (Fifteen years ago, who thought people would spend their day glued to their smart phones and tablets -- conversing about climate change....)

As long as the nanobots don't make you view an advertisement, first.  ;D

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 22, 2015, 03:19:02 AM »
Study says local and residential solar can make large arrays in environmentally sensitive areas unnecessary.
"Our results show that we do not need to trade these places of environmental value for the production of renewable energy as ample land and space exists elsewhere," said Rebecca Hernandez, study lead author and an environmental earth system scientist at Stanford. "Additionally, developing renewable power generation in places close to where it is consumed reduces costs and loss of electricity associated with transmission."

Consequences / Re: CA Drought Emergency Declared
« on: March 22, 2015, 12:55:26 AM »
Eric Holthaus:  California’s Next Megadrought Has Already Begun

The linked article states that beginning next year states will need to have a climate change plan if they are going to receive disaster preparedness funds from FEMA.  This will put pressure on states with denalist governors like Scott, Jindal and Christie:

FEMA to deniers:  Gotcha!

Money and politics!   :)

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 21, 2015, 11:27:21 PM »
A Central Texas city is waving goodbye to fossil fuels.

Georgetown’s municipal utility on Wednesday unveiled plans to abandon traditional electricity sources like coal and gas power plants, instead exclusively tapping wind and solar energy to meet all of its customers’ power needs. It is the state's first city-owned utility to make that leap.

The city announced a 25-year deal with SunEdison, the world’s largest renewable energy company, to buy 150 megawatts of solar power beginning next year. The company said it would build a solar farm in West Texas to meet the demand.

Last year, Georgetown signed a contract for 144 megawatts of wind energy through 2039. That electricity comes from an EDF Renewables wind farm 50-miles west of Amarillo.

(On average, a megawatt of solar energy can power as many as 100 Texas homes on the hottest summer days. During average temperatures, it can power many times more.)

City officials touted a number of benefits of scrapping fossil fuels, including protecting air quality and curbing water use. But ultimately, the deal made financial sense.

“It was really primarily a price decision,” said Keith Hutchinson, the city’s spokesman.

Hutchinson said the deals locked in cheaper electricity than what the city's expired contract with the Lower Colorado River Authority guaranteed, and it would hedge against any future spikes in coal or natural gas prices – whether because of new regulations or other market shifts.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future for regulations for fossil-based fuels,” he said. “This really removes that element from our price costs going forward.”

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 21, 2015, 11:21:47 PM »
@billmckibben: Canada could supply all its electricity from renewables by 2035…if it wanted to
Canada can be a world leader in emissions reductions and renewable energy use, but only if its federal government decides to take climate change seriously, according to a new report.

The report, published Wednesday by 70 Canadian academics, looked at Canada’s potential to shift its electricity production to renewable sources and cut its emissions. It found that the country could get 100 percent of its electricity from low-carbon sources like wind, solar, and hydropower by 2035 and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. To achieve these goals, the report recommended that the federal government implement a nationwide price on carbon and eliminate subsidies to Canada’s fossil fuel industry — particularly, its tar sands industry.

Policy and solutions / Re: UN Climate Treaty - Paris 2015
« on: March 21, 2015, 11:09:23 PM »
New York, 20 March (UN Forum on Forests press [r]elease) —The sustainable management and conservation of forests must be considered in the design and implementation of the new sustainable development goals and the new climate change agreement to be adopted this December in Paris, according to UN officials and forest experts in messages for the International Day of Forests, observed on 21 March.

At least 1.6 billion people directly depend on forests for food, fuel, shelter and income, but everyone benefits from the clean air, water, and climate regulation that forests provide. Three fourths of freshwater, crucial for human survival, comes from forested catchments. Healthy forests are critical for building resilience—the ability to bounce back from storms and other natural disasters. Mangrove forests, when left intact, reduce loss of life and damage caused by tsunamis.
“Forests are integral to the post-2015 development agenda,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message marking the International Day of Forests, observed on 21 March. “To build a sustainable, climate-resilient future for all, we must invest in our world's forests.”

Forest Remain Greatest Carbon Sink that Humans Can Influence

Forests are the largest storehouses of carbon after oceans. They can absorb and store carbon in their biomass, soils and products, equivalent to about one tenth of carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century. At the same time, deforestation and land-use changes account for 17 per cent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: March 21, 2015, 07:15:22 PM »
The White House is excoriating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for advising states to ignore the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rule for power plants.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: March 21, 2015, 07:06:38 PM »
The Senate Had A Hearing On Oil Exports And Didn’t Mention The Environment Once

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: March 21, 2015, 07:01:31 PM »
The Obama administration imposed the first major federal mandates on hydraulic fracturing Friday, unveiling a plan forcing companies to disclose the chemicals they pump underground and seal off waste water in storage tanks instead of open pits.

Consequences / Re: CA Drought Emergency Declared
« on: March 21, 2015, 06:54:45 PM »
California Gov. Jerry Brown Announces $1 Billion Drought Plan

Consequences / Re: The WAVY Jet Stream
« on: March 21, 2015, 05:50:24 PM »
WAVY Jet Stream:  Wild Amplitude Variations, Yo.   
  And because "wavy".   :)

Cross-posted from the Weird Weather thread:

Forecast:  Spring 2015 in U.S. = ( extreme summer West + extreme winter East ) continued
BOTTOM LINE: An extreme weather pattern is shaping up across the U.S. that favors for hot weather over the West and cold weather over the Northeast during late March into early April. The hot weather over the West will likely break records and further amplify the severe drought conditions that have been plaguing California over the past year. The cold weather over the Northeast looks to be most amplified around the turn of the month and there is risk for records to be broken.

Forecast:  Spring 2015 in U.S. = ( extreme summer West + extreme winter East ) continued
BOTTOM LINE: An extreme weather pattern is shaping up across the U.S. that favors for hot weather over the West and cold weather over the Northeast during late March into early April. The hot weather over the West will likely break records and further amplify the severe drought conditions that have been plaguing California over the past year. The cold weather over the Northeast looks to be most amplified around the turn of the month and there is risk for records to be broken.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewables Reach a Tipping Point...
« on: March 21, 2015, 05:16:01 PM »

Consequences / Re: General Drought Stuff
« on: March 21, 2015, 01:20:04 PM »
World Could Have 40 Percent Water Shortfall By 2030, UN Warns
Many underground water reserves are already running low, while rainfall patterns are predicted to become more erratic with climate change. As the world's population grows to an expected 9 billion by 2050, more groundwater will be needed for farming, industry and personal consumption.

The report predicts global water demand will increase 55 percent by 2050, while reserves dwindle. If current usage trends don't change, the world will have only 60 percent of the water it needs in 2030, it said.

Having less available water risks catastrophe on many fronts: crops could fail, ecosystems could break down, industries could collapse, disease and poverty could worsen, and violent conflicts over access to water could become more frequent.
The report, released in New Delhi two days before World Water Day, calls on policymakers and communities to rethink water policies, urging more conservation as well as recycling of wastewater as is done in Singapore. Countries may also want to consider raising prices for water, as well as searching for ways to make water-intensive sectors more efficient and less polluting, it said.

In many countries including India, water use is largely unregulated and often wasteful. Pollution of water is often ignored and unpunished. At least 80 percent of India's population relies on groundwater for drinking to avoid bacteria-infested surface waters.

Consequences / Re: Conservative Scientists & its Consequences
« on: March 20, 2015, 09:24:31 PM »
Some not-so-conservative scientists are making short videos, to explain climate change to the public.

Watch climate scientists give global warming elevator pitches.

U.S. Secretaries Ernest Moniz, Gina McCarthy, and Denise Turner Roth: "Leading by Example on Climate Change: Our New Federal Sustainability Plan"

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: March 20, 2015, 08:51:07 PM »
The U.S. just got new environmental rules for fracking on public lands, and Republicans are freaking out.
On Friday afternoon, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final version of rules governing the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on America’s public lands. Under the rules, companies that want to frack on lands like national parks and forests would have to comply with stronger standards to protect the environment.

Republicans and the oil industry are not happy about this. So unhappy, in fact, they’ve already taken up drastic measures to stop the rule. According to Politico, 27 Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to block them, and two oil industry groups have filed a lawsuit to nullify them.

Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: March 20, 2015, 08:37:24 PM »
New idea for battery swapping:

"String cell batteries" are small balls that fill up a vehicle's tank and form their own circuits.
Tanktwo’s system replaces a vehicle’s battery pack with a container filled with several thousand “small and intelligent string cells.” A sort of vacuum-cleaner device sucks spent cells out of the tank and refills it with charged cells. Swapping all the string cells takes less than 3 minutes.

But as battery technology keeps improving, battery swapping shouldn't be needed much longer.  That's the way Elon Musk appears to feel:

News today about Tesla self-driving upgrade.

Tesla Model S will get self-driving feature in 3 months
Drivers of the high-end electric car will get an over-the-air software update within the next three months that will add automatic-steering features.

Consequences / Re: CA Drought Emergency Declared
« on: March 20, 2015, 12:44:42 AM »
Moreover, environmentalists say the proposed regulations fail to address the state's largest water waster: Big Agribusiness. In fact, California's agricultural interests use 80 percent of the available water in the state each year (even though they represent just 2 percent of California's economy). "But there's no target [reduction] for agricultural use," noted Tom Stokely, a water policy analyst for the nonprofit California Water Impact Network. Instead, Stokely pointed out that the state is just targeting urban and suburban water users in its rationing plan, even though they only consume about 20 percent of the California's available water each year.
But environmentalists rightly note that no one is calling for a cutback on water use for the state's essential food supplies. The problem is the water wasted on non-essential crops. Right now, California is producing far more almonds than state residents can consume. So much so that at least 70 percent of the state's almond crop is now exported — much of it to China. In other words, we're essentially exporting our water to China.

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