Eric the Green's Global Warming blog.

This site will feature articles I have found that provide information on the Climate Crisis. Plus occasional commentary by myself.

Latest articles first.


These Are the 10 Most Important Climate Stories of 2016


Published: December 28th, 2016
By Brian Kahn
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/most-important-climate-change-stories-2016-21007

This year is likely to remembered as a turning point for climate change. It’s the year the impacts of rising carbon pollution became impossible to ignore. The world is overheating and vast swaths of the planet have suffered the consequences. At the same time, it’s also a year where world leaders crafted and agreed on a number of plans to try to turn the tide of carbon pollution and move toward a clean energy future. It’s clear 2016 was a year where planetary peril and human hope stood out in stark contrast. Here are the 10 most important climate milestones of the year.

10. The world struck an airline carbon pollution deal

The friendly skies got slightly friendlier. Air travel counts for about 7 percent of carbon emissions globally. That number will need to come down in the coming decades, and the International Civil Aviation Organization, the world’s governing body for airlines, put a plan in place to start that transition. The plan, which was signed off on by 191 countries, is focused on letting airlines buy credits that will help fund renewable energy projects to offset airplane emissions. It isn’t a perfect solution since it doesn’t directly reduce carbon pollution from air travel, but it’s a first step for an industry that will have to find novel, carbon-free ways to produce the fuel needed to fly you home for Christmas vacation.

9. An extremely potent greenhouse gas is also on its way out

Hydrofluorocarbons are the chemicals in your air conditioner that help keep you cool in the summer (and the food in your refrigerator cool year round). Ironically, they’re also a greenhouse gas that’s thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. Reducing them is critical to keep the planet from heating up much more and in October, international negotiators struck a deal to do phase them out. Countries still have to ratify the agreement — and it could face a major roadblock in the U.S. Senate — in order for it to take effect, but if approved, it will provide strong targets and a timetable to find replacement chemicals to keep you cool in a warming world.

8. July was the hottest month ever recorded. Then August tied it

The Arctic had a crazy heat wave this winter, but the planet as a whole really roasted through July and August. The summer is usually the warmest time of the year by dint of the fact that there’s more land in the northern hemisphere. But this summer was something else. July was the hottest month ever recorded, and it was followed by an August — usually a bit cooler than July — that was just as scorching. Those epically hot months helped set this year up for record heat (but more on that in a bit).

7. Arctic sea ice got weird. Really weird

The Arctic was probably the weirdest place on the planet this year. It had a record-low peak for sea ice in the winter and dwindled to its second-lowest extent on record. The Northwest Passage also opened in August, allowing a luxury cruise ship to pass through. Those milestones themselves are a disconcerting harbinger of a warming world, but November brought an even more bizarre event. Normally it’s a time when night blankets the region and temperatures generally plummet to allow the rapid growth of ice. But a veritable heat wave ratcheted temperatures 27°F above normal, hitting pause on ice growth and even causing ice loss for a few days. December has seen a similar warm spell that scientists have found would be virtually impossible if it wasn’t for climate change. The Arctic is the most rapidly warming region on the planet and 2016 served as a reminder that the region is being dramatically reshaped by that warming.

6. Divestment and clean energy investments each hit a record

Climate change is a huge, pressing economic issue as countries will have to rejigger their economies to run on renewables and not fossil fuels. Investors are attacking that switch at both ends, and 2016 stands out for the record pace at which they’re doing it. On the fossil fuel side, investors representing $5.2 trillion in assets have agreed to divest from fossil fuels. That includes massive financial firms, pension funds, cities and regional governments, and a host of wealthy individuals. Not bad for a movement that only got its start in 2011. On the flip side, a report showed that investors poured $288 billion into new renewable projects in 2015, also a record. That’s helping install 500,000 solar panels a day around the world and ensuring that 70 percent of all money invested into energy generation is going to renewables.

5. The Great Barrier Reef was decimated by warm waters

Coral has had a rough go of it around the world for the past three years. El Niño coupled with climate change has caused a massive coral bleaching event around the globe. Nowhere have the impacts been more stark than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Up to 93 percent of the reef was rocked by coral bleaching as record-warm waters essentially boiled coral to death. A third of the reef — including some of the most protected areas — are now dead. Researchers found that climate change made the record heat up to 175 times more likely, offering a glimpse into the dystopian future reefs face. A 1.5°C rise in the global average temperature would essentially mean game over for corals around the world.

4. The world breached the 1.5°C climate threshold

So about 1.5°C. It’s a threshold that’s crucial for low-lying island states to continue their existence (to say nothing of Miami or other coastal cities). Passing it would mean essentially issuing a death sentence for these places, corals and Arctic sea ice and other places around the world. The globe got its first glimpse of 1.5°C in February and March this year. Climate change, riding on the back of a super El Niño, helped crank the global average temperature to 1.63°C above normal in February and 1.54°C above normal in March compared to pre-industrial times. While the abnormal heat has since subsided a bit, it’s likely that 1.5°C will be breached again and again in the coming years and could become normal by 2025-30.

3. Carbon dioxide hit 400 ppm. Permanently

Scientists measure carbon dioxide in parts per million and in 2016, and it hit a not-so-nice round number at the Earth’s marquee carbon observatory: 400 ppm. Despite the seasonal ebb and flow, there wasn’t a single week where carbon dioxide levels dipped below 400 ppm. It’s the first time on record that’s happened. Because carbon pollution continues to rise, the world isn’t going to see carbon dioxide dip below 400 ppm again in our lifetimes (and likely a lot longer than that). Carbon dioxide also breached the 400 ppm threshold in Antarctica, the first time that’s happened in human history (and likely a lot longer). And in a report that was published this year, the World Meteorological Organization revealed that carbon dioxide passed the 400 ppm milestone globally in 2015. So yeah, 400 ppm was kind of a thing this year.

2. The Paris Agreement got real

The world got together to deliver the Paris Agreement in 2015, but the rubber really hit the road in 2016. Nearly 120 countries have ratified the agreement, putting it into force on Nov. 4. That includes big carbon pollution emitters like China, the U.S. and the European Union, and tiny ones like Mongolia, the Cook Islands and Sierra Leone. While there’s concern that President-elect Trump could pull the U.S. out of the agreement, signatories have stressed that they’ll go forward to meet their pledges regardless. With the rubber on the road, the next step is to get the wheels spinning.

1. It was the hottest year on record. Again

In case it wasn’t clear, the clearest sign of climate change is heat. And this year had lots of it. Hot Arctic, hot summer, hot water, and so it’s only fitting that the biggest climate milestone of the year (in a year that itself is a milestone) is record heat. Of course, that was the biggest story in 2014. And 2015 for that matter. This year marks the third year in a row of record-setting heat, an unprecedented run. It’s a reminder that we’ve entered a new era, where our actions have changed the world we call home. We also have the ability to decide what comes next.

You May Also Like:
The U.S. Has Been Overwhelmingly Hot This Year
Warming is Sending Mountain Glaciers ‘Off a Cliff’
Temperatures Are Soaring at the North Pole . . . Again
Obama Bars Arctic Drilling Ahead of Trump Inauguration


04-23-2016, 10:06 PM

George Will, who is sometimes intelligent, here insists on going off the deep end into utter stupidity. But, as I refute it, I am at least giving some "free speech" on this little blog to your nonsense, George. I don't want to be an "authoritarian" (meaning any progressive who disagrees with established authority).

The ‘settled’ consensus du jour

George F. Will 11:33 a.m. EDT April 23, 2016

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2016/04/21/settled-consensus-du-jour/83348376/

George Will: Authoritarianism, always latent in progressivism, is becoming explicit. Progressivism’s determination to regulate thought by regulating speech is apparent in the campaign by 20 state attorneys general, none Republican, to criminalize skepticism about the supposedly “settled” conclusions of climate science. NO, it's more about reining in the power of big money oil companies to hide the truth they themselves knew, and to fund the deniers who hide it.

Four core tenets of progressivism are: First, history has a destination. Second, progressives uniquely discern it. (Barack Obama frequently declares things to be on or opposed to “the right side of history.”) Third, politics should be democratic but peripheral to governance, which is the responsibility of experts scientifically administering the regulatory state. Fourth, enlightened progressives should enforce limits on speech (witness IRS suppression of conservative advocacy groups) in order to prevent thinking unhelpful to history’s progressive unfolding.

Eric the Green: First, progressives maintain that we need to make progress and solve real problems. I guess that's a "destination," meaning forward; but why call it a destination as if all problems can be solved forever? That's utopia, which these days it's you libertarian trickle-downers who excel at. Second, well yes, we have opinions and naturally we think we're right. So, you don't? Sure! Third, if you don't get your way on policy, you say it was created by experts. No, it was created by politicians. And your Republican ones want corporate experts to control everything instead of the people through politics. Fourth, fraud is not speech, although you want to attribute all fraud to our side because of a few bureaucrats who acted on their own to target conservatives.

Will: Progressivism is already enforced on campuses by restrictions on speech that might produce what progressives consider retrograde intellectual diversity. Now, from the so-called party of science, aka Democrats, comes a campaign to criminalize debate about science.

Eric: Sure, you want equal time on campus for unscientific bullshit. Do you want campuses to offer creationism too? How about conspiracy theory?

Will: "The debate is settled," says Obama. "Climate change is a fact." Indeed. The epithet "climate change deniers," obviously coined to stigmatize skeptics as akin to Holocaust deniers, is designed to obscure something obvious: Of course the climate is changing; it never is not changing -- neither before nor after the Medieval Warm Period (end of the 9th century to the 13th) and the Little Ice Age (1640s to 1690s), neither of which was caused by fossil fuels.

Eric: There is no greater obfuscation in the realm of public discourse today, than for you climate science deniers to say that "climate is always changing."

Will: Today, debatable questions include: To what extent is human activity contributing to climate change? Are climate change models, many of which have generated projections refuted by events, suddenly reliable enough to predict the trajectory of change? Is change necessarily ominous because today’s climate is necessarily optimum? Are the costs, in money expended and freedom curtailed, of combating climate change less than the cost of adapting to it?

Eric: First, to deny that climate science answers the first question, by saying that humans are indeed causing climate change today, is simply to cover up the facts. No-one is saying you can't say things. But be prepared to be called on them.

Second, climate models CAN'T be completely accurate; they are MODELS. To insist on accuracy is typical of folks like you who refuse to follow and understand science.

Third, the results are already being felt and widely reported. You just put your head in the sand and deny these events. Lost species, dying coral reefs, acidic ocean, rising seas, diminishing food and water supplies, more droughts, more floods, more storms, more fires; you call that an improvement? When you say things like that, then don't try to repress us when we call you on it.

Fourth, the costs of acting are inflated by promoters of free market fundamentalism. "Freedom" curtailed indeed: meaning freedom of your wealthy corporations to make money without paying taxes and without regulations. We progressives don't care about the so-called "freedom" of your moguls to pollute, fire people, export jobs, cause recessions, buyout companies, keep wages low, and all the other wonderful stuff you guys do with your "freedom." Reaganomics is dying, and you are clinging to a sinking ship. Get over it and jump out. The costs of finding and making more fossil fuels are rising while costs of alternative energy are falling, and the green energy boom creates millions of new jobs. But you'd rather keep the profits for fossil fuel bosses high. You moguls and mogul-enablers are the only ones who are hurt by the "costs" of responding to climate change; THE ONLY ONES. You are crying wolf because you wolves are running out of meat to hunt and kill for from the rest of us. Shut up and pay for the pollution and climate change you cause, George. Corporations should change to alternative energy, or go out of fucking business. And the sooner the better. And the market itself will kill you soon anyway.

Will: But these questions may not forever be debatable. The initial target of Democratic “scientific” silencers is ExxonMobil, which they hope to demonstrate misled investors and the public about climate change. There is, however, no limiting principle to restrain unprincipled people from punishing research entities, advocacy groups and individuals.

Eric: Oh, let those who benefit from fossil fuels "speak" and tell us how much we depend on their products! It's not enough they buy up the airwaves and regale us with their nonsense in commercials all the time. They seem to somehow remain "free" enough to purse their mindless propaganda campaign!

Will: But it is difficult to establish what constitutes culpable "misleading" about climate science, of which a 2001 National Academy of Sciences report says: “Because there is considerable uncertainty in current understanding of how the climate system varies naturally and reacts to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, current estimates of the magnitude of future warming should be regarded as tentative and subject to future adjustments (either upward or downward).” Did Al Gore “mislead” when he said seven years ago that computer modeling projected the Arctic to be ice-free during the summer in as few as five years?

Eric: Good, at least you read science from 15 years ago. Why not read science from TODAY? You might be more credible. Climate system models have, if anything, underestimated the amount of global warming, and how long its effects will last. You think some inaccuracies in the timing indicated by some models invalidates the entire thesis and all the measured, real evidence that the Earth's climate IS changing. NO, the models forecast global warming, and global warming IS happening; and it's happening FAST! Case closed!

Will: A 21st attorney general, of the Virgin Islands (where ExxonMobil has no business operations or assets), accuses the company with criminal misrepresentation regarding climate change. This, even though before the U.S. government in 2009 first issued an endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gases, ExxonMobil favored a carbon tax to mitigate climate consequences of those gases. This grandstanding attorney general’s contribution to today’s gangster government is the use of law enforcement tools to pursue political goals -- wielding prosecutorial weapons to chill debate, including subpoenaing private donor information from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. You want fraud from our side prosecuted, whether legit or not (the IRS scandal), but fraud from your side is "free speech."

The party of science, busy protecting science from scrutiny, has forgotten Karl Popper (1902-1994), the philosopher whose “The Open Society and Its Enemies” warned against people incapable of distinguishing between certainty and certitude. In his essay “Science as Falsification,” Popper explains why “the criterion of a scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.” America’s party of science seems eager to insulate its scientific theories from the possibility of refutation.

Eric: It was Exxon that covered up. That's the fact. If your scientists can disprove global warming and its consequences, then PROVE IT. Show us your evidence, and be prepared to debate it, instead of whining about authoritarian progressives and quoting philosophers. Put your mouth where your money is.

Will: The leader of the attorneys general, New York’s Eric Schneiderman, dismisses those who disagree with him as “morally vacant.” His moral content is apparent in his campaign to ban fantasy sports gambling because it competes with the gambling (state lottery, casinos, off-track betting) that enriches his government.

Eric: Because a politician might be wrong about something else, does not make him wrong about climate change. Your reasoning ability is indeed compromised in your old age, it appears, Mr. Will. Is it moral to defend the profits of CEOs while the world careens toward disaster because of THEM? Pardon me if I say, no it isn't moral, and neither are YOU George.

Will: Then there is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who suggests using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, written to fight organized crime, to criminalize what he calls the fossil fuel industry’s “climate denial apparatus.” The Justice Department, which has abetted the IRS cover-up of its criminal activity, has referred this idea to the FBI.

Eric: As well it should. And no, the IRS alleged abuse is not being abetted or covered-up. It was revealed and dealt with. That's just a convenient excuse for your own cover-up and deception, George. Maybe you were disappointed that it didn't lead to the impeachment of Obama. That's your idea of abetting, I guess.

Will: These garden-variety authoritarians are eager to regulate us into conformity with the “settled” consensus du jour, whatever it is. But they are progressives, so it is for our own good.

Eric: The consensus has been settled for quite some time. For you to label it as du jour, is fraud on your part. And regulating the fossil fool CEOs is what we desperately need. Their fraud is criminal indeed. Tell me about real scientists who are repressed. Science is an open process. Your corporate world is not. It's all about greed and conformity, and practically nothing BUT greed and conformity. How many whistle-blowers speak up in corporate meetings, or report misconduct to their bosses, and get away with it? Not many, I reckon. It's go along with the program, or be fired. Just like your Donald says on TV.

George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

Happy Earth Day, George. You have a strange way of celebrating it.


04-23-2016, 09:18 PM

Editorial: Is the Paris climate accord too little, too late?

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-0422-climate-change-accord-20160422-story.html">

Representatives from more than 160 nations will gather at the United Nations on Friday to sign the accord they hammered out in Paris last December to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the effects of climate change.

But is it too little, too late? The accord was an extraordinary achievement, but in the end, it was only a nonbinding agreement, and everyone understood that the real, daunting challenge would be in working together to meet the accord's stated goals.

And even that may not be enough. Experts have warned that the accord's goal of capping global warming at “well below 2 degrees Celsius” still might be insufficient to avoid a catastrophic rise in sea levels. What's more, the world is already experiencing more violent storms and cycles of drought and floods. The Paris accord came near the end of 2015, which was the warmest year earth has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1880. The first few months of 2016 have continued the upward trend — February's increase in temperatures over previous years was described by NASA officials as “a shocker.”

Then there's this problem: Neither of the leading Republican candidates for president — Donald Trump and Ted Cruz — even believes the conclusion reached by an overwhelming consensus of scientists that global warming, driven by human activity, is well underway. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Democratic contenders, accept that fundamental reality. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third Republican contender (barely) standing, has acknowledged global warming as real but has balked at some of the administration's tougher responses.

So what will be accomplished by the signing of the agreement in New York? That's unclear. The accord requires the signatory nations to develop plans for reducing greenhouse gases by 2030, but the plans unveiled so far fall short of what is needed. Their aggregate effect will only limit global warming to about 2.7 degrees Celsius at best. Because of that, the nations are supposed to update their plans every five years, beginning in 2020, to reach the less-than 2 degrees target. How they will reach that mark is crucial.

The U.S. has pledged to cut emissions to at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025. But President Obama's Clean Power Plan, a linchpin of his climate change strategy, was derailed two months after the Paris accord was reached, when the U.S. Supreme Court halted implementation until legal challenges could be resolved. If it is ultimately tossed out, that would set back Obama's chances of reaching the nation's 2025 goals for reducing carbon emissions even though the administration has taken other steps, including a 54.5 mpg standard by 2025 for cars and light-duty trucks, limiting methane emissions from future natural gas and oil wells, and declaring a moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal land.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could speed things up by reaching a quick decision on the stalled Clean Power Plan after it hears the oral arguments that are scheduled for June. Still, if the fight goes to the Supreme Court, a final decision isn't likely until the next president takes office. If the Environmental Protection Agency prevails, states will still have time to meet the plan's deadlines for moving away from coal-fired energy production (which they should be doing even without the federal plan). If the regulations are shot down, the next president ought to work with Congress to achieve the same or an even more ambitious goal.

Unfortunately, climate change isn't waiting. As the global temperature rises, glaciers are retreating, shrinking polar ice is threatening Arctic species, river and lake ice has been breaking up earlier, plants and animals are shifting ranges, and flowering cycles for trees are occurring earlier in the season.

The signing of the accord, while historic, won't solve those problems. It merely starts the world on the right, though very belated, path. While ambitious, it is also cautious, and contains vague wording that the signatory nations pledge to “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.” The world needs to accelerate the pace. Slow and deliberate means lost species, drowned seaside cities, disappearing island nations and more political instability in the most affected nations.

Despite the urgency of the issue, discussion of climate change has been depressingly limited in the presidential campaign. Whoever wins the White House needs to recognize the enormity and gravity of the problem, and lead the way to a more habitable world.


MARCH 31, 2016

Climate Catastrophe, Coming Even Sooner?

BY ELIZABETH KOLBERT

http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/climate-catastrophe-coming-even-sooner

New research indicates that, due to global warming, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) may be headed for an unavoidable and disastrous collapse, triggering a rapid rise in sea levels.

One of the first people to propose that climate change could result in rapid sea-level rise was an eccentric British geographer named John Mercer. A hesitant speaker in public, Mercer was less restrained in private. He was once arrested for jogging naked. It was said that he liked to do his fieldwork in the nude—a curious habit for a man who studied glaciers.

In a seminal paper published in 1968, Mercer proposed that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, known in scientific circles as WAIS, was vulnerable to collapse. The reason, he wrote, was that the ice sheet rests on land that is below sea level. It is buttressed by floating ice shelves that extend far out to sea, but were these to disintegrate, Mercer wrote, then “changing horizontal forces” would cause the ice sheet to lift off its base. At that point, the sea would rush in and WAIS would start to warm from below as well as above. This would initiate the ice sheet’s demise, which would be “rapid, perhaps even catastrophic.” Several meters of sea-level rise would ensue.

More recent research has tended to confirm Mercer’s worst fears. The latest example comes from a study published Wednesday, in the journal Nature. “Antarctic Model Raises Prospect of Unstoppable Ice Collapse,” ran the headline in the news story that accompanied it.

The new paper, coauthored by Rob DeConto, of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and David Pollard, of Pennsylvania State University, arose out of frustration. The two researchers had spent years working on a computer model that did not seem to capture rises in sea level that were already known to have taken place. Before the last ice age, about a hundred and twenty thousand years ago, for instance, sea levels were at least twenty feet higher than they are now. But DeConto and Pollard found that unless they programmed the model with temperatures that were unrealistically high for that period it could not account for such levels.

Then the two got an idea from a colleague, Richard Alley, also of Penn State. Alley suggested that they look at what would happen if the floating ice shelves were lost. This would leave towering cliffs of ice exposed to the sea, which could make them vulnerable to rapid collapse. (A version of this process seems already to be under way in parts of Greenland.)

When DeConto and Pollard revised their model to account for this possibility, the results, as the Times put it, were “striking.” The revised model could account for earlier sea-level rises. More significantly, it suggested that what had happened then could easily happen again. The researchers concluded that just a few more decades of “unabated” carbon emissions could result in more than three feet of sea-level rise from WAIS by the end of this century. (The over-all rise would be much greater, as ice would also be lost from Greenland and from mountain glaciers.) Over the longer term, melt from Antarctica could raise sea levels by fifty feet.

This is, of course, alarming news for those living near sea level, which is to say anyone in New York or Boston or New Orleans or Miami or Mumbai or Jakarta or Guangzhou. And it couldn’t come at a much more alarming time. In spite of the flood of disturbing reports coming from both the Antarctic and the Arctic—just a few days ago, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that the extent of the Arctic ice cap in winter had hit a record low for the second year in a row—the issue of climate change has rarely come up during the Presidential primary campaign. To the extent that the Republican candidates have addressed the issue at all, it has only been when forced to, and the results have been—well, let’s just say that no one is winning any ribbons at this science fair. Trump has repeatedly used Twitter—his favored policy platform—to scoff at the very notion of climate change. “Hoax” and “con job” are some of his more nuanced comments. “Bullshit” is another.

Ted Cruz is, if anything, worse; he recently claimed that the federal government was “cooking the books” to demonstrate warming that doesn’t exist. Cruz has said he will rescind rules the Environmental Protection Agency has put in place to limit emissions from power plants, while Trump has said he would eliminate the agency altogether. (The E.P.A.’s Clean Power Plan rules are being challenged in a suit brought by more than two dozen states and many industry groups; that case is expected to be heard by the D.C. Circuit Court in June.) Even with the power-plant rules, it’s possible that global temperatures will rise enough to set in motion the sort of catastrophic melting of West Antarctica that John Mercer warned about almost half a century ago. Without the rules, disaster is looking like an increasingly good bet.


04-04-2016, 07:58 AM

OUR NEW MOON SHOT: RESTORE A HEALTHY CLIMATE BY 2070

We can restore the climate of the 1980s by 2070. It won’t require a miracle or big sacrifices, just the will and policies to do it. Top climate scientists confirm this is possible.

Restoring the climate requires that we switch to carbon-free energy by 2030-2050, as described by Stanford’s Prof. Mark Z. Jacobson, and let the ocean continue absorbing the carbon dioxide we’ve emitted.

In 1961, President Kennedy declared: “We will send a man to the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade.” At the time we had just sent a man into space for 15 minutes. We did not have the rockets, the navigation or the life support systems for a moon trip and most people, including my parents, thought it was complete folly. Seven years later we had developed and demonstrated the technology — ahead of schedule. We had a clear ambitious goal and a deadline, and we rose to the occasion.

We can do that again with the climate. Shifting the world’s energy from fossil fuels to renewables could be accomplished before 2045, with CO2 levels peaking about 430 parts per million. That is up from 280 ppm a hundred years ago, 400 ppm now, and our goal of 350 ppm, which is considered to be a safe level and last seen in 1988.

Scientists and skeptics agree that about half the CO2 emitted globally has been absorbed by the oceans already, and expect that half of future emissions will be absorbed over the next 25-35 years. The oceans will continue to acidify, and the only way to slow that is to reduce emissions. We might even decide to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere to hasten a restored climate. If so, there are dozens of companies working on it and we have dozens of years to perfect some creative methods.

The shift to renewables would be accomplished mainly by using wind and solar power. Only wind and solar are ready for utility scale now at the low costs we need. The market will decide which alternative sources, such as biofuels or nuclear, may become cheaper and better over time.

Wind generation has been growing at over 25% per year for the last six years. It provides 3% of our country’s electricity now. If we maintain that growth rate, it will provide 50% in 2025. This would be something like 2,000 modern 5-megawatt turbines per state. Solar provides 1% of our electricity now, and is growing at over 50% per year. If we keep up that pace, it will produce the other 50% of our electricity by 2025.

China is already building panels at ten times the US rate, so catching up to and even surpassing their production is plausible. Efficiency improvements will provide at least a 30% reduction in our requirements. For example cars are slated to double their mileage by 2025 and LED lights are now ten times more efficient than old incandescent bulbs.

Twenty years is plenty of time to develop the missing links such as batteries, smart grids and domestic manufacturing capability. Compare that to the 5 years we spent building the 300,000 aircraft that helped us win WW II, using 1940’s technology, or the 7 years developing the technology for the moon program with 1960’s technology. We now have Google, computers, 3D printers, and millions of highly educated engineers connected by the internet.

The looming issue is the rapidly growing CO2 emissions in China and India. China is working hard to slash its fossil fuel consumption and severe air pollution–since 2012 China has been building more new wind capacity than new coal and the New York Times reports that China is expected to reduce its net coal imports to zero by 2015.

India’s neighbor, Bangladesh, has set an example by installing solar roofs at a rapid pace, without subsidies, thereby skipping the development of expensive and unreliable utility and fossil fuel infrastructure. They already have 2.5 million solar roofs powering LED lights, phones, refrigerators, and TVs. This is fifteen times as many as California has now.

As solar panel production soars, its cost plummets — it is below the cost of fueling kerosene lamps in most developing countries, and will soon fall below the cost of utility electricity in the cities. For that reason, India is now starting work on the world’s largest solar plant—4 gigawatts.

Switching to renewables will create many local jobs in the US, while costing some fossil fuel jobs. It will stabilize energy prices because the sun and wind are free and the technology costs are steadily decreasing. It is shown to improve network reliability because with thousands of solar panels and wind turbines, the loss of a few has little effect.

Two policies are critical to achieving our rapid transition to renewables: First is instituting a gradually increasing carbon disposal fee, aka a carbon tax, as recommended by almost all economists. Political expediency requires that the fee be revenue-neutral, returned 100% to households and corporations. This fee will send a convincing message to corporations and investors that society is placing a value on its future, and that smart investments from now on will be in clean energy.

The second policy is promoting investment in clean energy. Fossil fuels still receive six times more subsidies than renewables and they attract more than twice the investment. If you ask companies that are installing renewables, you’ll find that their limiting factor is acquiring capital, despite good returns. That will change when investors see that we’re committed to and headed to a future of a healthy climate.

Tell your children, the President and your representatives the legacy you want to leave: A healthy climate by 2070. That is our moonshot. There is room for small government fans and everyone else to contribute in this game.

Peter Fiekowsky is a physicist, business owner, and volunteer for Citizens Climate Lobby.

https://brainscienceandclimatechange.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/our-new-moon-shot-restore-the-climate-by-2070/


04-02-2016, 04:53 AM

New Antarctic Melting Study Confirms Voting Republican Would Trigger Worldwide Catastrophe

By Jonathan Chait Follow @jonathanchait

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/03/antarctic-study-gop-would-trigger-catastrophe.html?mid=facebook_nymag#

The good news on climate change is that the politics and the technology arrayed to transition the world away from greenhouse gasses are both moving rapidly and in tandem. The bad news is that the scale of the challenge itself may also be accelerating. A new study finds that the West Antarctic ice sheet may be melting at a far more rapid pace than previously believed. Sea-level rise is just one of the dangers posed by climate change, but that danger may be more imminent than anybody believed.

Let’s review the state of play heading into the presidential election. The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan is the largest element of its domestic program to reduce carbon emissions — it’s a set of targets for every state to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions from its power system. The Clean Power Plan faces a legal challenge from Republicans. The Supreme Court recently froze implementation of that plan until the courts resolve its status.

The challenge will be heard in the D.C. Circuit court on June 2. The panel hearing that case will consist of two Democratic appointees and one Republican appointee, and is nearly certain to affirm the administration’s plan. Republicans will then appeal the case to the Supreme Court. But since the Court is currently tied 4–4, and five votes would be needed to overturn the D.C. Circuit, the case would be upheld. However, if Republicans block the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Court, which seems likely, and win the presidential election, which is possible, they can appoint the deciding justice. And that justice could well be seated in time to hear the appeal, quite likely dooming the Clean Power Plan.

A president determined to keep working to limit climate change could easily regroup in the face of a legal defeat and design a different set of climate regulations. The Clean Power Plan’s requirements do not take effect until 2022. But a Republican president would not do anything to limit climate change. The Republican Party is institutionally committed to blocking any action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The largest and most influential bloc of thought within the party dismisses the field of climate science as a massive hoax concocted by scientists to increase their own power (a theory expounded by Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, and a believer that the existence of snow in February in Washington disproves climate science).

Senator Snowball.


http://pixel.nymag.com/imgs/daily/intelligencer/2015/02/26/26-james-inhofe.w529.h352.jpg

A tinier, far less influential bloc within the party accepts the legitimacy of climate science but argues against any political action on the grounds that it would be impossible or hopelessly expensive. For instance, the Manhattan Institute’s James Manzi — one of the most moderate voices on climate science within the party — has urged Republicans to come up with non-science-denying reasons to permit the continued cost-free dumping of greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere. “The challenge posed by climate change is not one of averting a global disaster in which Manhattan becomes an underwater theme park … ” Manzi wrote in his last climate manifesto. “Despite the dire warnings from progressives, the best models show us that global warming is a problem that is expected to have only a limited impact on the world economy.”

In reality, the Manhattan-as-underwater-theme-park scenario remains very much in play. The latest modeling projects a sea rise of five to six feet by the end of the century, with a sea-level rise of a foot per decade after that. That rise could be mitigated if the political response under way worldwide continues. And things are happening. China is reducing the carbon intensity of its economy very rapidly. Innovators in the private sector, responding to signals from political leaders who have committed to carbon reductions, have brought down the cost of clean energy nearly to parity already, and the cost curve is continuing to head downward. It sounds partisan to say, but it remains true: The fate of humanity rests to a very large degree on keeping the Republican Party out of power for as long as possible.


Study Confirms World’s Coastal Cities Unsavable If We Don’t Slash Carbon Pollution

BY JOE ROMM MAR 31, 2016 2:36 PM

A new study confirms what leading climate scientists have warned about for many years now: Only very aggressive climate action can save the world’s coastal cities from inundation by century’s end.

We still could limit sea level rise to two feet this century if we keep total warming below 2°C, according to analysis using these new findings. Otherwise, we should be anticipating five to six feet of sea level rise by 2100 — which would generate hundreds of millions of refugees. That isn’t even the worst-case scenario.

This latest research from the journal Nature underscores that what the nation and the world do in the next decade or two will determine whether or not cities like Miami, Boston, New York, or New Orleans have any plausible chance to survive by 2100.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/03/31/3765266/coastal-cites-carbon-pollution/



Desdemona Despair: blogging the end of the world.



The new Tesla looks great!

http://reneweconomy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/rsz_screen_shot_2016-04-01_at_25816_pm-590x271.jpg

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/tesla-unveils-its-mass-market-model-3-electric-vehicle-52503

Tesla unveils its "mass-market" Model 3 electric vehicle

By Giles Parkinson on 1 April 2016

Source: Tesla

Tesla Motors on Friday (Australian time) unveiled the Tesla Model 3, the electric vehicle that it hopes will hit the mass-market and lifts its total sales to 500,000 units a year by 2020, a ten-fold increase on its current production.

This was no April Fool’s release. It was actually unveiled at the company’s California headquarters in the evening of March 31 local time. The event was broadcast live on the net, along with an option to reserve a vehicle, even though it will not go into production until late 2017.

"You will not be able to get a better car for that price," Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk said of the $US35,000 vehicle. And punters seem to agree. Musk said that 115,000 reservations had already been received in the first 24 hours, and that’s before any of them had seen the vehicle.

Musk said the company had slowly transitioned to low-volume, high price and high performance cars, to show the world that an electric vehicle can be the best car, through to an SUV and now, a lower priced high volume vehicle.

The Model 3 looks similar to the Model S, although it will cost less than half the price.

"It is very important to accelerate transition to sustainable transport," Musk said in his opening remarks. "This is important for future of the world," he added, pointing to record high Co2 levels in the atmosphere, a sharp rise in average global temperatures last year, and the health impacts of vehicle emissions.

Musk said the Model 3 will fit 5 adults. The instrument panel has been compressed, and the front seats brought a little further forward. The rear roof pane is one big piece of glass. And it will fit a 7 foot surfboard inside, Musk said. (Ed: My Peugeot 207 wagon fits a 9’6? surfboard inside, I should point out).

The high efficiency electric motor provides zero to 60 mph (100kmh) acceleration in less than six seconds. It is equipped with electric all-wheel drive.

Musk said the development costs and learnings of the Model S and the Model X are key for bringing down the cost of the Model 3......


04-02-2016, 04:08 AM

UK carbon emissions fall below 1920s levels. Renewables on the rise as coal declines.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/uk-emissions-lowest-since-the-1920s-as-renewables-overtake-coal?utm_content=buffer45d96&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer


Climate scientists have big new computers to develop their models. Here's a couple of sites: http://www.scientificcomputing.com/articles/2016/01/new-dkrz-mistral-supercomputer-enhances-climate-modeling-capabilities https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models.htm The evidence is growing for the effects of AGW on severe weather. Many posts have been already made on this topic here. https://www.climatecommunication.org/climate/global-warming/

04-01-2016

Indigenous peoples need respect to help stop climate change.


03-26-2016

Adorable Cat Builds Mini Igloo for Himself During Denver Blizzard

nice music too :)


03-26-2016

Watch Solar Power Bloom in China’s Desert

China leads the world in renewable power growth.

JUN 18, 2015

Emily J. Gertz is an associate editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/06/18/china-solar-power-expanding-rapidly-gobi-desert-images?cmpid=tp-san

These solar energy farms in China's Gobi Desert grew nearly threefold between 2012 and 2015. (Photos: Jesse Allen/NASA Earth Observatory)

Only three years separate these two images of solar panels in China’s Gansu province in the Gobi Desert. But it’s clear that the carbon-free power plant grew nearly threefold over that time.

According to information gathered by NASA Earth Observatory, the total installed solar power capacity in Gansu province hit 5.2 gigawatts last year, and the country is targeting an additional half gigawatt by the end of this year. Nationwide China’s installed solar capacity was just more than 28 gigawatts by the close of 2014—that’s three times the capacity installed in 2013.

Just halfway into 2015, that capacity has grown to 33 gigawatts.

China has expanded its renewable energy resources remarkably fast, with hydro-, wind, and solar power growing to nearly 10 percent of the nation’s energy mix between 2006 and 2013. China has also become the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines.

But China has continued to expand its coal-fired power capacity at the same time. In 2007 the country outpaced the United States to become the biggest greenhouse gas polluter on Earth: China burns around 4 billion tons of coal a year, more than four times the amount that the U.S. burns.

It’s important to put China's coal use into the population context: China, with a population of about 1.4 billion, emits between 10 and 11 million tons of carbon pollution a year, while the United States, with about one-quarter the population, is the No. 2 carbon polluter, emitting around 6.5 million tons a year, according to the World Resources Institute.

So, Why Should You Care? Because burning fossil fuels is the leading driver of global warming, energy decisions made by China and the United States have a major impact on the health and welfare of nearly every living thing on Earth. In November, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced ambitious plans to reduce their carbon pollution in the next 15 years.

Lately, China is slowing its coal power expansion, driven in part by terrible air pollution problems as well as the country’s growing sensitivity to its international standing in the fight to curb global warming. The government has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions after hitting a peak in 2030 and to double its carbon-free energy generation at the same time.


03-26-2016

After 115 Years, Scotland Is Coal-Free

BY ALEJANDRO DAVILA FRAGOSO MAR 24, 2016 4:08 PM

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/03/24/3763158/scotland-closes-last-coal-plant/

After some 115 years, Scotland has burned its last lump of coal for electricity.

The Longannet power station, the last and largest coal-fired power plant in Scotland, ceased operations Thursday. What once was the largest coal plant in Europe shut down after 46 years before the eyes of workers and journalists, who gathered in the main control room.

“Ok, here we go,” said one worker moments before pressing a bright red button that stopped the coal-fired turbines that generated electricity for a quarter of Scottish homes.

Longannet’s closure comes as Scotland, a country of some 5 million people, aims to have enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of its electricity demand by 2020. And while Europe has lowered its investment in renewables recently, Scotland seems well on its way to meeting its green energy goals. Renewable electricity output has more than doubled since 2007 and is equivalent to half of the electricity consumed. This surge in renewables follows a massive investment in onshore and offshore wind, which has established Scotland as a renewable energy leader in the region. In fact, Scotland’s largest wind farm is also the largest in the United Kingdom. Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow has a 539-megawatt capacity and generates enough electricity to power just under 300,000 homes.

The end of Longannet was long expected. Two years ago, Scottish Power, which owns Longannet, said regulations made the plant too costly to operate. According to the Guardian, the plant bowed to a mixture of old age, rising transmission costs and higher carbon taxes. The energy burden will now fall on the shoulders of nuclear and gas plants, as well as renewable energy, particularly wind farms.

“Coal has long been the dominant force in Scotland’s electricity generation fleet, but the closure of Longannet signals the end of an era,” Hugh Finlay, generation director at Scottish Power, told the Guardian. No decisions have been made on what will be done with the site, though several proposals are under discussion, including one that would make Longannet a center for renewable energy expertise. Scottish Power said they will outline a plan before the end of the year.

For their part, local environmentalists welcomed the end of Longannet, noting the station burned around 4.5 million metric tons of coal a year, and was responsible for a fifth of Scotland’s climate change emissions. “For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution, this is a hugely significant step, marking the end of coal and the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland,” Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said in a statement. With the closure of Longannet, the only major fossil fuel plant in Scotland is a gas plant at Peterhead, in the northeast.

In the United States, the Sierra Club also praised the plant’s closure. “Scotland is done with coal,” Maura Cowley, director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy Campaign, said in a statement. “The U.S. is moving beyond coal with 232 plants announced for retirement, and just today China announced new measures to stop unnecessary new coal plants.”

Indeed, China’s National Energy Administration ordered 13 provincial governments to stop approving new coal-fired power plants until the end of 2017, according to published reports. Yet even approved coal-fired power plants aren’t safe there, as 15 provinces were told to stop building new plants. A Greenpeace analysis says this could affect up to 250 Chinese coal plants.

Coal may be under stress in much of the world, yet the role of fossil fuels is expected to remain strong for some time, according to multiple reports. That’s despite scientists saying global emissions need to substantially drop to avoid the most dramatic effects of climate change. Renewable energy is, however, expected to continue the surge it has been enjoying. In fact, a new United Nations-backed report found that coal and gas-fired electricity generation drew less than half the investment made in solar, wind, and other renewables in 2015.


[B]Big solar is heading for boom times in the US[/B] Riding three strengths, overcoming one weakness. Updated by David Roberts on March 10, 2016, 9:30 a.m. ET @drvox [email]david@vox.com[/email] [url]http://www.vox.com/2016/3/10/11192022/big-solar-boom-times[/url] When people think of solar power, they tend to think of panels on rooftops. That kind of small-scale, distributed solar power is the most visible, gets the most press, and, from the consumer perspective, has the most sex appeal. But the humble workhorse of solar power is the utility-scale solar power plant, usually defined as a solar array larger than 5 megawatts. Solar power plants can consist in either PV panels or mirrors that focus sunlight on a fluid that boils and turns a turbine ("concentrating solar power," or CSP). In practice, most new solar plants these days use PV, which has gotten so cheap so fast that it's outcompeted CSP and every other solar segment, at least for now. In 2007, there were zero utility-scale solar power plants in the US. Today there are hundreds, ranging from the 579 MW Solar Star project (the world's largest solar farm) in California down to dozens upon dozens of 10, 20, and 50 MW projects in communities across the country. (SEIA counts 2,100 solar PV projects over 1 MW.) Big solar power plants still provide a measly 0.6 percent of overall US electricity. But they are headed up a steep growth curve. Residential rooftop solar is the fastest growing solar segment, but utility-scale solar is bigger. There's more installed, so even with its slower growth rate it adds more capacity each year — in 2015, it accounted for 57 percent of all new installed solar capacity. What's more, there's a ton of utility solar in the pipeline. According to the Energy Information Administration, 9.5 GW of utility solar is scheduled for installation in 2016 — more than from any other single energy source, including natural gas. That would make 2016 a banner year, with utility solar accounting for more than three-quarters of installed solar capacity, installing more in a year than in the past three combined. That's serious growth. A new report from GTM Research is also optimistic about utility-scale solar passing something of a milestone in 2016. For years, the growth of big solar was driven by state-level renewable energy mandates; utilities had to build these plants. This coming year, GTM expects more than half the growth in big solar to come outside those mandates. In other words, utilities are beginning to voluntarily opt for big solar. Why is that? Utility solar is being boosted by three strengths — and it's making progress against its one weakness........... [B]Big solar is about to get unstoppable[/B] Big solar used to be almost entirely driven by policy, mainly state renewable energy standards and federal tax credits. It has all but outgrown the first and will outgrow the latter over the next five years. It's about to stand on its own two feet, outcompeting even rivals that are allowed to dump carbon emissions into the atmosphere for free. It won't be long before the discussion about environmental benefits is moot — utilities will demand solar because it's the cheapest power available.


Antarctic Ice Loss Accelerating 03.05.2015 by Morgan Kelly, Princeton University [url]http://www.reportingclimatescience.com/news-stories/article/antarctic-ice-mass-loss-accelerating-says-study.html[/url] During the past decade, Antarctica's massive ice sheet lost twice the amount of ice in its western portion compared with what it accumulated in the east, according to Princeton University researchers who came to one overall conclusion — the southern continent's ice cap is melting ever faster. The researchers "weighed" Antarctica's ice sheet using gravitational satellite data and found that from 2003 to 2014, the ice sheet lost 92 billion tons of ice per year, the researchers report in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. If stacked on the island of Manhattan, that amount of ice would be more than a mile high — more than five times the height of the Empire State Building. The vast majority of that loss was from West Antarctica, which is the smaller of the continent's two main regions and abuts the Antarctic Peninsula that winds up toward South America. Since 2008, ice loss from West Antarctica's unstable glaciers doubled from an average annual loss of 121 billion tons of ice to twice that by 2014, the researchers found. The ice sheet on East Antarctica, the continent's much larger and overall more stable region, thickened during that same time, but only accumulated half the amount of ice lost from the west, the researchers reported.


Global sea levels rising faster due to global warming Man-made climate change responsible for fastest rise in sea levels in the past 2,800 years. [url]http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/global-sea-levels-rising-faster-due-global-warming-160222201945865.html[/url] Sea levels are rising several times faster than in the past 2,800 years and are accelerating because of man-made global warming, according to new studies. An international team of scientists dug into two dozen locations across the globe to chart gently rising and falling seas over centuries and millennia. Until the 1880s and the world's industrialisation, the fastest rise in sea levels was about 3cm to 4cm a century, plus or minus a bit. During that time the global sea level really did not get much higher or lower than 7.62cm above or below the 2,000-year average. But in the 20th century the world's seas rose 14cm. Since 1993 the rate has soared to 30cm and two different studies, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said that by 2100 the world's oceans would rise between 28 and 131cm, depending on how much heat-trapping gas Earth's industries and vehicles expel. "There's no question that the 20th century is the fastest," said Bob Kopp, Rutgers earth and planetary sciences professor and the lead author of the study that looked back at sea levels over the past three millennia. "It's because of the temperature increase in the 20th century, which has been driven by fossil fuel use." If seas continue to rise as projected, another 45cm of sea-level rise will cause lots of problems and expense, especially with surge during storms, said study co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. The link to temperature is basic science, the study's authors say. Warm water expands. Cold water contracts. The scientists pointed to specific past eras when temperatures and sea rose and fell together. Both studies project increases of about 57 to 131cm if greenhouse gas pollution continues at the current rate. If countries fulfill the treaty agreed last year in Paris and limit further warming to another two degrees Fahrenheit, the rise in sea levels would be in the 28cm to 56cm range.


Batteries are advancing. [url]http://www.fastcoexist.com/3051217/these-incredible-saltwater-batteries-are-designed-to-store-renewable-energy[/url]


[B]2015 smashes record for hottest year, final figures confirm[/B] Experts warn that global warming is tipping climate into ‘uncharted territory’, as Met Office, Nasa and Noaa data all confirm record global temperatures for second year running Damian Carrington @dpcarrington Wednesday 20 January 2016 10.30 EST [url]http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/20/2015-smashes-record-for-hottest-year-final-figures-confirm?CMP=share_btn_fb[/url] 2015 smashed the record for the hottest year since reporting began in 1850, according to the first full-year figures from the world’s three principal temperature estimates. Data released on Wednesday by the UK Met Office shows the average global temperature in 2015 was 0.75C higher than the long-term average between 1961 and 1990, much higher than the 0.57C in 2014, which itself was a record. The Met Office also expects 2016 to set a new record, meaning the global temperature records will have been broken for three years running. Temperature data released in the US on Wednesday by Nasa and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) also showed 2015 shattered previous records. Experts warned that the record-breaking heat shows global warming is driving the world’s climate into “uncharted territory” and that it showed the urgency of implementing the carbon-cutting pledges made by the world’s governments in Paris in December. Heatwaves have scorched China, Russia, Australia, the Middle East and parts of South America in the last two years, while climate change made the UK’s record December rainfall, which caused devastating floods, 50-75% more likely. The Paris agreement commits the world’s nations to limit warming to below 2C compared to pre-industrial times, or 1.5C if possible, to avoid widespread and dangerous impacts. But the Met Office data, when compared to global temperatures before fossil fuel burning took off, shows that 2015 was already 1C higher. A strong El Niño event is peaking at the moment, putting the “icing on the cake” of high global temperatures. El Niño is a natural cycle of warming in the Pacific Ocean which has a global impact on weather. But scientists are clear that the vast majority of the warming seen in 2015 was due to the emissions from human activity. “Even without an El Niño, this would have been the warmest year on record,” said Prof Gavin Schmidt, director at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He said he expected the long trend of rising global temperatures to continue because its principal cause – fossil fuel burning – was also continuing. “It is clear that human influence is driving our climate into uncharted territory,” said Prof Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, which produces the temperature record – called HadCRUT4 – with the Met Office. Peter Stott, at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, said 2015 was the first year global average temperature was more than 1C above pre-industrial levels. Noaa’s global temperature records stretch back to 1880 and it also found 2015 was the hottest year yet, beating the previous high by a record margin. The agency also found December was warmer than any other month in the record, when compared to long-term averages. Ten of the 12 months in 2015 had record high temperatures for their respective months, according to Noaa. Nasa’s new data for 2015 also shattered its previous record and showed 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. “Climate change is the challenge of our generation,” said Nasa head Charles Bolden. “Today’s announcement is a key data point that should make policymakers stand up and take notice - now is the time to act.” The Nasa, Noaa and HadCRUT4 temperature records all use independent methods to calculate the global average. They use many thousands of temperature measurements taken across the globe, on land and at sea, each day.


[url]http://grist.org/article/can-you-guess-which-country-just-set-a-new-world-record-for-wind-power/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=weekly-static[/url] Can you guess which country just set a new world record for wind power? By Brian Kahn on 18 Jan 2016 Wind turbines are as ubiquitous as clogs, Legos, and tall people in Denmark. Unlike the latter three, though, Denmark’s wind turbines were busy setting a world record in 2015. According to Energinet, Denmark’s electric utility, the country’s turbines accounted for the equivalent of 42 percent of all electricity produced for the year. It’s the highest proportion for any country — breaking a record the country set just last year — ?and represents more than a doubling compared to just 10 years ago. There are other countries that generate more wind energy each year, but Denmark gets the largest chunk of its energy from wind by far. The government has committed to generating 50 percent of its energy from wind by 2020 and 84 percent by 2035. Denmark is part of the European Union, which committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 at the recent Paris climate talks. In western Denmark, the heart of the country’s wind industry, turbines spun up more energy than the region could use for more than 16 percent of the year, letting the country sell some of its surplus power to its Scandinavian neighbors (though on less gusty days, Denmark also bought nuclear, hydro, and solar power back from them). The sheer number of turbines is one key ingredient for generating a huge amount of wind power. The other is, of course, wind, and as luck would have it, the winds blew harder than normal last year (note this is probably not due to El Niño, for a change). The amount of offshore wind generated in Denmark is also staggering. The country has more than 1,200 megawatts of generating capacity already installed and two other major projects in the works that will generate an estimated 1,000 megawatts, or enough to power 300,000 American homes. In comparison, the U.S. has a whopping zero megawatts of offshore generating capacity, representing what scientists say is a huge “missed opportunity” for clean energy. That’s slated to change in 2016 with the Block Island facility set to open off of Rhode Island. It’ll only have 30 megawatts of generating capacity, but hey, you have to start somewhere.


Oklahoma Ordered To Cut Fracking After Unusual Spike In Earthquakes [url]http://yournewswire.com/oklahoma-ordered-to-cut-fracking-after-unsual-spike-in-earthquakes/[/url]


Recent observations from satellite gravimetry (the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission) suggest an acceleration of ice mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014JB011755/full

National Research Council says Arctic is warming, and that scientific consensus has been slow to keep up with changing climate.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/24485-arctic-warming-and-increased-weather-extremes-the-national-research-council-speaks


Batteries are being developed around the world: [url]http://ecowatch.com/2015/09/21/battery-storage-renewable-energy/2/[/url] Off grid batteries like the Tesla powerpack are too expensive yet for most homeowners. Other home batteries exist, but don't last long enough. Staying on the grid seems the best solution at the moment for most people. But solar panels at home can still produce much of people's household needs, and being connected to the grid assures continuous power. In the long run though, as batteries improve, then off the grid will be more viable. Staying on the grid will probably require paying a service charge, which is not the case right now in northern CA. Such a charge is counter-productive now when we are trying to ramp up alternative energy. But unless the utility companies want to become solar panel and battery companies, they will likely need to charge for grid service to stay in business. If off-grid becomes the norm, then these utilities may go the way of the do do birds. They won't be the first type of business to go belly up in this high-tech day and age. We need to reduce carbon emissions now, so we can't wait until off-the-grid works for everyone. Allowing a 4C global temp rise is not acceptable. Meanwhile, salt batteries are being used at some solar power plants, and new kinds of batteries at solar and wind power plants will soon enable utilities to reduce reliance on nuclear and natural gas sources. Coal needs to be phased out as soon as possible. [B]Molten salt batteries[/B] [url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium%E2%80%93sulfur_battery[/url] From [url]http://www.ecmag.com/section/green-building/first-solar-power-tower-plant-united-states-use-molten-salt-storage[/url] Published: February 2011 By Mike Breslin Finally, there is a practical solution to store huge amounts of solar electricity that is generated by large-scale solar plants—molten salt technology. In mid-December, SolarReserve, a U.S. developer of solar power projects, received environmental approvals from the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee to build its Crossroads Solar Energy Project. The 150-megawatt project will be located in Maricopa County, Ariz., and uses an advanced molten salt technology developed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a division of United Technologies, Hartford, Conn. List of energy storage projects: [url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_energy_storage_projects[/url] [img]https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e5/12-05-08_AS1.JPG/300px-12-05-08_AS1.JPG[/img] The 150 MW Andasol solar power station is a commercial parabolic trough solar thermal power plant, located in Spain. The Andasol plant uses tanks of molten salt to store captured solar energy so that it can continue generating electricity when the sun isn't shining.


This looks so cool! :) Germany opens first stretch of bicycle ‘autobahn’ by Alex Bowden December 29 2015 - See more at: [url]http://road.cc/content/news/173907-germany-opens-first-stretch-bicycle-%E2%80%98autobahn%E2%80%99#sthash.TeIOGvh0.dpuf[/url] [img]http://road.cc/sites/default/files/styles/main_width/public/images/News/Munich%20bike%20Autobahns.jpg?itok=N_Rz2Aln[/img] [I]Study estimates track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day[/I] AFP (link is external) reports that Germany has just opened the first 5km stretch of a traffic-free bicycle highway that is set to span over 100km. Running largely along disused railroad tracks, the network will connect 10 western cities in the Ruhr region. Cities to be linked include Duisburg, Bochum and Hamm as well as four universities. Martin Toennes of regional development group RVR said that almost two million people live within 2km of the route and will be able to use sections for commuting. A study by the group calculates the track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day. Munich is also planning a series of four-metre wide, two-way segregated lanes, unsullied by crossroads or traffic lights and Birgit Kastrup, who is in charge of the project, said it was important to find a means of funding them. Further bicycle highways are in the pipeline for Berlin and Frankfurt. Most will feature lit paths which will be cleared of snow in winter. In Germany, cycling infrastructure is the responsibility of local authorities. For the first 5km stretch of track in the Ruhr region, the cost was shared, with the European Union funding half, North Rhine-Westphalia state contributing 30 per cent and the RVR investing 20 per cent. Toennes said that talks were ongoing to raise the €180 million needed for the entire 100km route. "Without support, the project would have no chance," he said. The state government is therefore said to be planning legislation to take the burden off municipalities. Berlin, meanwhile, is looking into a private financing model based in part on advertising along its routes. High speed intercity bike travel? Dutch could open 45kph e-bike paths for commuters: [url]http://road.cc/content/news/144613-high-speed-intercity-bike-travel-dutch-could-open-45kmph-e-bike-paths-commuters[/url]


This might be a good article to follow the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. [url]http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/[/url]


ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change – seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm’s own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years to promote climate denial. The email from Exxon’s in-house climate expert provides evidence the company was aware of the connection between fossil fuels and climate change, and the potential for carbon-cutting regulations that could hurt its bottom line, over a generation ago – factoring that knowledge into its decision about an enormous gas field in south-east Asia. The field, off the coast of Indonesia, would have been the single largest source of global warming pollution at the time. “Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia,” Lenny Bernstein, a 30-year industry veteran and Exxon’s former in-house climate expert, wrote in the email. “This is an immense reserve of natural gas, but it is 70% CO2,” or carbon dioxide, the main driver of climate change. However, Exxon’s public position was marked by continued refusal to acknowledge the dangers of climate change, even in response to appeals from the Rockefellers, its founding family, and its continued financial support for climate denial. Over the years, Exxon spent more than $30m on thinktanks and researchers that promoted climate denial, according to Greenpeace. [url]http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/08/exxon-climate-change-1981-climate-denier-funding[/url]


[B]Why the Paris agreement could mark the beginning of the end for global warming denial[/B] By Chris Mooney December 18 at 11:08 AM [url]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/12/18/why-paris-could-mark-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-global-warming-denial/[/url] After 195 countries agreed in Paris Dec. 12 to a sweeping agreement to try to bring global warming under control, there has been much analysis of what this means for the future of energy. But there are reasons to think that it also may have a surprising impact on the future of politics, even in the U.S. — namely, by taking away some of the motivations and dynamics that, for so long, have driven global warming skepticism, doubt and denial. That may at first seem surprising — after all, even as negotiators drove toward an agreement in Paris, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was hosting a hearing in which he once again claimed that there hadn’t even been any “significant global warming” in the past 18 years (even as we’re witnessing what is by far the warmest year on record). And we can expect to hear more of the same throughout the campaign season (although climate change was curiously absent from the latest GOP presidential debate). However, if you take a longer term perspective — and if you examine the history of politicized, public scientific debates — then you see that the world is littered with forms of scientific doubt and denial that eventually declined and dwindled away. There used to be huge skepticism that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were damaging the planet’s stratospheric ozone layer — or that smokestack and car emissions were causing acid rain. And we all know how much doubt there used to be about the health dangers of smoking. Yet today, while some individuals may still harbor scientific doubt on those matters, there are no longer significant movements around them, and they are no longer substantially a focus of debate or public policy. The matters feel settled now. The same, someday, will likely happen with global warming — but the question is when, and what will trigger the shift? Psychologists have conducted considerable, often fascinating research on what drives climate change doubt — and it’s these findings that explain why Paris could potentially help to end it. Not immediately, to be sure, and not alone. The outcome will also depend heavily on what happens domestically with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which will have at least as much of an impact on thinking and the tenor of debate in this country. But the key point is that the Clean Power Plan and Paris agreement are both solutions. As such, they move people from a world of fighting over the science in order to determine whether action is justified, to a world of taking action and consulting the science. The dynamic is fundamentally different. Thus it’s over the long term, as the reality sinks in that the entire world has now moved to address the climate problem, that there are indeed reasons to think that doubt will slowly decline. Shifting the status quo. One key idea that suggests this conclusion is the notion that climate change denial is, in part, a manifestation of what is called “status quo” bias — implicit and default justifications of the current, industrial system for getting energy. This system not only benefits many people, but is also simply what we are more familiar with. And there is mountainous evidence suggesting that we tend to be biased toward the familiar and the well-established. Status quo biases make political and social systems very hard to change — but at the same time, once they actually do change, the same biases then work to enforce the new status quo. “Historically speaking, many people once opposed child labor laws, voting rights for women, fluoridation of drinking water, admissions of minority students into universities, and so on,” says John Jost, a social psychologist at New York University who has written widely on what he calls this “system justification” tendency. “Once these initiatives became established policies, the opposition slowly dissipated. For better and for worse, the status quo exerts a kind of motivational force on our thinking.” In the context of this idea, what’s striking about the Paris accord is that it establishes a new global status quo that is built around comprehensive, country-by-country action to address climate change. And over time, based on this theory, that could lessen the motivations behind denial. “Climate change denialism has become completely marginalized now, because the world is moving on,” says Michael Mann, a climate researcher with Penn State University. Indeed, even prior to Paris, there were clear signs of public opinion shifts, in favor of more and more Americans accepting that global warming is happening (a majority position in the public at large). Undercutting “solution aversion.” On top of this idea about shifting status quos, there is also the key insight that the denial of science on climate change isn’t really motivated by science at all — even though it comes adorned with scientific claims, such as Ted Cruz’s assertion that satellite data don’t support the idea that it has been warming lately. Rather, climate change doubt or denial appears to actually be a way of rationalizing a deep rejection of the perceived solution to climate change. On the political right, this is believed to be a command and control intervention in the economy (read: the Clean Power Plan) so as to favor some types of energy over others, and thus deeply inimical to libertarian or free market values. Duke University researchers Troy Campbell and Aaron Kay published a paper late last year suggesting that “Republicans’ increased skepticism toward environmental sciences may be partly attributable to a conflict between specific ideological values and the most popularly discussed environmental solutions.” They called this “solution aversion.” The Paris agreement presents just such a solution — so they are likely to oppose it strongly. The Clean Power Plan is even more ideologically offensive because of the way it uses government regulation to change the energy system. However, once these solutions take hold, and people see that the world won’t end because of them and that there won’t be economic calamity, then the whole affair will simply be a lot less worth fighting over. Solution aversion could lose its force as the solution works, and as the status quo shifts. But there’s a key catch here, explains Troy Campbell, lead author of the “solution aversion” paper and now a professor at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. “We know from past work that often, once something becomes the status quo, we stop fighting it as much as we did, and we will stop fighting things the more we see they are solidified and unchangeable,” says Anderson. But he cautions, “People can persist, and if people are surrounded by other people who disagree with [the Paris agreement], they can [persevere] in that disagreement, and it will be especially true if people believe they can overthrow these things, or they can resist this.” The fight isn’t over — yet. Campbell points to Obamacare, where the changed status quo hasn’t stopped congressional Republicans from voting repeatedly to repeal the now implemented law. They clearly feel that the battle isn’t totally lost, that the status quo hasn’t really changed. (On the other hand, if they fail in these battles, their children will grow up with that new status quo and likely be far less motivated to question it). On the climate deal, Campbell notes that for now, despite the fact that they can’t do anything about the actions of 194 separate countries in joining the agreement, opponents still clearly feel empowered to resist it at home. Here, the fight will be principally over the Clean Power Plan, which is centrally tied to the Paris agreement because it is the number one piece of evidence showing the world that the U.S. is really serious about cutting emissions. Campbell cites, in particular, a recent statement by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell: “Before [Obama’s] international partners pop the champagne, they should remember that this is an unattainable deal based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, and that Congress has already voted to reject.” This is also a key reminder that while Republican presidential candidates really haven’t attacked the Paris deal much yet, the GOP and allies in industry have been systematically fighting the Clean Power Plan, both legally and rhetorically. But here too, notes Greg Sargent, there are hints of more compliance by state-level Republican elected officials, who might realize over time that hey, this policy isn’t actually so bad, or so hard to live with. There is, in other words, another potential status quo shift here in the form of this policy. Moreover, the growth of the clean energy industry, which is already happening but will be further driven by the Clean Power Plan, will also create a new status quo and a new energy establishment that will become entrenched around acceptance of climate change, not its rejection. Granted, all of this is theoretical and could be derailed by future events — like legal attacks on the Clean Power Plan, or a future Republican president who vows to halt the Clean Power Plan or withdraw from the Paris accord. Moreover, not everyone is convinced these sorts of dynamics are yet in play. One skeptic that Paris will kill climate denial is Princeton climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who recalls the science denial that emerged around threats of ozone depletion and acid rain. He pointedly observes that one major round of skepticism about the role of ozone-depleting chemicals actually came shortly after the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, the global treaty that, today, is widely viewed as having addressed the problem. “Denialism draws its oxygen from larger political agendas and Paris won’t put an end to those,” says Oppenheimer. “There will still be plenty of opposition to regulating greenhouse gas emissions, to regulation in general, and to any sort of international cooperation.” One thing seems clear — with campaign season in full force, and President Obama’s moves around climate change hotly opposed on the political right, the climate issue will not die down immediately. When it comes to attacking climate science, Paris may give added oxygen, for a time. But around 2020, as temperatures continue rising and as the world begins the first round of assessing how effective the Paris climate accord has been — well, matters then may feel very different indeed.


[B]Climate Deal Is Signal to Industry: The Era of Carbon Reduction Is Here[/B] By CLIFFORD KRAUSS and KEITH BRADSHER DEC. 13, 2015 With the ink barely dry on a landmark climate accord, nations now face an even more daunting challenge: how to get their industries to go along. If nothing else, analysts and experts say, the accord is a signal to businesses and investors that the era of carbon reduction has arrived. It will spur banks and investment funds to shift their loan and stock portfolios from coal and oil to the growing industries of renewable energy like wind and solar. Utilities themselves will have to reduce their reliance on coal and more aggressively adopt renewable sources of energy. Energy and technology companies will be pushed to make breakthroughs to make better and cheaper batteries that can store energy for use when it is needed. And automakers will have to develop electric cars that win broader acceptance in the marketplace. “It’s very hard to go backward from something like this,” said Nancy Pfund, managing partner of DBL Partners, a venture capital firm that focuses on social, environmental and economic development. “People are boarding this train, and it’s time to hop on if you want to have a thriving, 21st-century economy.” Wall Street is clearly paying attention. Top executives from Bank of America, Citibank and Goldman Sachs dropped by the Paris talks or related side events, as did philanthropist business leaders like Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Chief executives of blue-chip companies like Coca-Cola, DuPont, General Mills, HP and Unilever all expressed support for an ambitious deal. On Twitter on Saturday night, BP, the British oil giant, called the Paris agreement a “landmark climate change deal” and pledged to be “a part of the solution.” In June, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total called for a tax on carbon emissions, saying it would reduce uncertainty and help oil and gas companies figure out the future.... More: [url]http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/14/business/climate-accord-draws-mixed-reaction-from-business-leaders.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=3[/url]


[B]The U.K. Is Testing Electric Highways That Would Charge Your EV As You Drive[/B] This could solve the charging problem that has been slowing electric car adoption for years (if it works). [url]http://www.fastcoexist.com/3049836/the-uk-is-testing-electric-highways-that-would-charge-your-ev-as-you-drive[/url] [img]http://b.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/fastcompany/imagecache/1280/poster/2015/08/3049836-poster-p-1-these-electric-highways-could-make-it-easier-to-fuel-an-ev-than-a-regular-car.jpg[/img] Brits are getting into electric cars more and more. Sales jumped up 366% in the first quarter of 2015. Still, when the U.K. government surveyed consumers and businesses, they found the chicken-and-egg problem that haunts EVs elsewhere. Some consumers don't want to buy an electric car without a full infrastructure for charging in place. But the business case for building that infrastructure is weak without more EV drivers on roads. The U.K. plans to add plug-in chargers every 20 miles along highways, so drivers don't have to worry about getting stranded on a road trip. And the country does already have thousands of chargers in place. But now they're testing out something new to make driving an EV even easier: Electric highways that can wirelessly charge cars as they drive. If the tests go well, the new highways would add to the existing network of plug-in chargers, and make it even simpler to fuel up a Tesla than a standard gas-guzzling car. "This has the benefit of saving time and improving the distance that electric vehicles can travel," says Nic Brunetti, a spokesman for Highways England. "The combination of both types of charging technologies could help to create a comprehensive ecosystem for electric vehicles."...................


[url]http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150924151401.htm[/url] [B]Green storage for green energy Rechargeable battery to power a home from rooftop solar panels[/B] Date: September 24, 2015 Source: Harvard University Summary: Researchers have demonstrated a safe and affordable battery capable of storing energy from intermittent sources -- like rooftop solar panels -- that is suitable for the home. (excerpt) Hogan says net metering is one of a series of "regulatory gimmicks designed to make solar more attractive" and predicts that eventually consumers with rooftop photovoltaic panels will lose the option of exchanging electricity for discounts on their utility bills. When that happens, these homeowners have an incentive to invest in battery storage. That's the emerging market opportunity that Tesla Motors entrepreneur Elon Musk hopes to leverage with his company's recently-announced Powerwall system. But the flow battery design engineered by Aziz and his Harvard colleagues offers potential advantages in cost and the length of time it can maintain peak discharge power compared to lithium batteries. "This has potential because photovoltaics are growing so fast," Aziz says. "A cloud comes over your solar installation and BAM -- the production goes crashing down. Then the cloud goes away and the production goes shooting up. The best way of dealing with that is with batteries." Watch video: How a flow battery works- [url]https://youtu.be/4ob3_8QjmR0[/url]. (end excerpt) Batteries are a growing option. Reselling back to the grid needs to continue while solar is being established. Eventually though, the electric utility companies will likely be allowed to charge customers a flat fee for a hookup to the grid. That's only fair, and this might be a good deal if batteries are still too expansive. But if not, then it looks like the big electric companies may be out of luck and go out of business. It might be wise for them to go into the renewable energy and battery business instead! Either way, batteries and the grid makes solar and wind power at homes into baseload power.


Message originally posted by Eric the Green on 12-04-2015

Here's a good article on the issues of solar power: [B]Eco Etiquette: How Green Are Solar Panels?[/B] Posted: 06/28/2010 5:12 am EDT Updated: 05/25/2011 4:20 pm EDT [url]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-grayson/eco-etiquette-how-green-a_b_554717.html[/url] Send all your eco-inquiries to Jennifer Grayson at [email]eco.etiquette@gmail.com[/email]. Questions may be edited for length and clarity. It seems like a good thing that solar is getting popular, but what about all the materials that go into making the panels, recycling them, etc.? Is solar really as green as it's made out to be? -Griffin Alas, there's a cloud in every green lining. Just when environmentalists think we've uncovered a win-win solution to some ecological ill, it turns out there's a downside to be dealt with: Compact fluorescent bulbs reduce electricity consumption by 75 percent but come with a dash of mercury; a new Prius takes 46,000 miles of driving before paying off the energy cost of manufacturing (if you make it that far); even tofu, as it turns out, may have a higher carbon footprint than chicken. It's not surprising, then, that solar panels also have a dark side; namely, greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals involved in manufacturing, and a lack of regulation regarding recycling. First, though, let's take a look at the big picture. Solar far outshines electricity produced from fossil fuel sources: Per kilowatt, it offsets up to 830 pounds of nitrogen oxides, 1,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 217,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. What's more, because photovoltaic (PV) panels generally have a long lifecycle -- up to 30 years -- the amount of waste generated by panels past their prime is relatively small, especially when you consider the three-to-four-year turnover of other electronic waste like computers, televisions, and cell phones. But with solar growing in popularity thanks to falling prices and various tax incentives, we could see a wave of e-waste in the next 20-some-odd years if the industry doesn't take action now: The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC), which works to promote eco-friendly practices in the high-tech industry, warned in a 2009 report that "little attention is currently being paid to the potential risks and consequences of scaling up solar PV cell production. The solar PV industry must address these issues immediately, or risk repeating the mistakes made by the microelectronics industry." (Mistakes is a nice way to put it; the United States' failure to regulate e-waste has resulted in our hazardous junk being shipped off to developing nations, where it piles up in digital dumping grounds that pollute the air and groundwater and sicken people who live nearby.) So what are some of the issues surrounding solar? And how can solar become greener (ironic though that question may be)? Let's take a look: Toxic chemicals. While it's nowhere near the amount produced by, say, coal-fired power plants, a number of nasty chemicals are used in solar manufacturing, including arsenic, cadmium telluride, chromium, and lead. While one immediate risk may be to the workers who construct these panels, the long-term hazard is where all these materials will go once the panels are no longer useful. Companies in the US are working to address these concerns, implementing take-back programs like the one offered by thin-film manufacturer First Solar, which recycles over 90 percent of the materials collected from old panels. Another thin-film company, AQT Solar, is looking into safer alternatives to cadmium like zinc sulfide. "Our goal is to definitely reduce our dependence on toxic materials, and if possible, eliminate them completely," says AQT CEO Michael Bartholomeusz. Greenhouse gases. The whole goal of solar-generated electricity may be to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere, but unfortunately, there are even more potent greenhouse gases involved before a panel is ever plugged in. The SVTC report states that sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), which is 22,000 times more powerful than CO2, is used to clean the reactors used in silicon production. Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), another global warming whopper (17,000 times more powerful than CO2), is used in the manufacturing of thin-film PV panels. This wasn't an urgent issue a few years back, when thin-film only made up a small percentage of the solar market; but thanks to cheaper manufacturing costs, thin-film is expected to double its market share by 2013. Luckily, alternatives exist: German-based startup Malibu has developed a technology that uses fluorine, a gas with zero global warming potential. Manufacturing. It would be great if all solar panel production facilities were powered by, well, solar power, but this isn't always the case: The manufacturing side of solar can be very un-green, since its energy-intensive processes are often powered by fossil-fuel based electricity. The need to construct brand-new facilities for production also can add to a solar company's footprint. One possible solution? Use existing (but dormant) auto-manufacturing plants to house production, a la traditional PV manufacturer Skyline Solar. The company also uses about 90 percent less silicon in its panels compared with traditional solar installations, to help minimize the high environmental cost of silicon production. So, do any of the above disclaimers mean we should say see ya to solar? Of course not. Even with the energy and waste involved, PV power in exchange for all our fossil fuels would still reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent. Hope this has been enlightening!


[B]Memo to Ottawa: We can solve climate change in our lifetime[/B] Provincial climate policy has improved drastically in recent years. Now it’s time for Ottawa to step up and do its part in Paris. [url]http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/11/26/memo-to-ottawa-we-can-solve-climate-change-in-our-lifetime.html[/url] This Sunday, the day before the UN climate summit begins in Paris, thousands of concerned Canadians will take to the streets of Ottawa to send a loud and clear message to our leaders: We can and must solve climate change in our lifetime. The summit comes at a critical juncture. This year carbon pollution topped 400 parts per million in the atmosphere, above what scientists believe to be the safe limit. The earth has already warmed by one degree. Extreme weather events — droughts, wildfires, floods — have become all too common. Action is needed and it’s needed now. We need an agreement in Paris that ensures that global warming stays well below 2 degrees Celsius. The good news is that success in Paris is possible. The solutions to the climate crisis are at hand. The money is moving away from fossil fuels. The momentum is building. In 2014, carbon emissions from energy sources flatlined while the global economy continued to grow, something that’s never happened in the 40 years the International Energy Agency has been tracking these statistics. The belief that economic growth must come with pollution growth is breaking down. Fossil fuel projects are being axed. U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. Coal mines are being shuttered in Alberta and B.C. Shell pulled the plug on an 80,000-barrel-a-day oilsands project and abandoned drilling in the Arctic. The money is moving too. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global dropped 114 companies on climate grounds. The Church of England divested from the most heavily polluting fossil fuels. All told, investors managing US$2.6 trillion in assets are shifting their holdings away from fossil fuels. On the flip side, renewable energy investments broke yet another record last year. Over $6 trillion is expected to be invested in clean technology over the next decade. A renewable energy revolution is unfolding before our eyes. Last year, the world added more electricity capacity from renewables than from oil, coal and gas combined. Solar panel costs have dropped by a whopping 73 per cent over the past five years, the cost of wind power has declined by 10 per cent per year for each of the last six years, and power from solar panels is now cheaper than wholesale grid electricity in 30 countries. Major companies, including Starbucks, Nike and Walmart, have pledged to shift to 100-per-cent renewable energy. Canada is part of this revolution. We are the fourth largest producer of wind, water and solar power in the world. Canada’s clean energy sector added jobs at a greater rate than any other sector in the country. Since 2008, renewable energy has created 250,000 jobs in Ontario alone. Meanwhile, governments around the world are accepting that there are economic, health and environmental costs associated with carbon pollution, and they’re starting to make those costs visible. Over 40 countries and more than 20 cities, states and provinces have or are planning to implement carbon pricing. In a few years, more than half of the global economy will have a price on carbon. China, the world’s largest polluter, has committed to a cap-and-trade system to price emissions, and it has pledged to stop and reverse pollution growth by 2030. Here in Canada, British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario and now Alberta have all put or promised to put a price on carbon. These four provinces represent over 86 per cent of the economy and over 80 per cent of Canada’s carbon pollution. This week Alberta unveiled a historic climate plan. A cap on emissions from the tarsands, a coal phase-out, a commitment to increase renewable electricity supply and an energy efficiency program should mean that emissions in the province will soon peak and then start to decline. With this move from Alberta, there’s nothing standing in the way of Canada’s federal government from setting and reaching for a meaningful climate reduction target. The new federal government has spoken well about the need for action on climate. It appears ready to turn the page after a decade of inaction. In Paris, Canada can shift from being a roadblock on climate progress to being an active driver of that progress. A solution to this great challenge is possible. In fact, progress is well underway. As our federal leaders sit down in Paris to forge the way forward, they should think of the thousands who will march in Ottawa this Sunday and know that the public is behind them and the wind at their back. Keith Brooks is director of the Clean Economy Program, Environmental Defence.


[B]Why are so many Americans skeptical about climate change? A study offers a surprising answer.[/B] [url]http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/why-are-so-many-americans-skeptical-about-climate-change-a-study-offers-a-surprising-answer/ar-BBnmtNt?ocid=spartandhp[/url] [img]http://img-s-msn-com.akamaized.net/tenant/amp/entityid/BBnmjM2.img?h=440&w=624&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f[/img] Climate change has long been a highly polarizing topic in the United States, with Americans lining up on opposite sides depending on their politics and worldview. Now a scientific study sheds new light on the role played by corporate money in creating that divide. The report, a systematic review of 20 years’ worth of data, highlights the connection between corporate funding and messages that raise doubts about the science of climate change and whether humans are responsible for the warming of the planet. The analysis suggests that corporations have used their wealth to amplify contrarian views and create an impression of greater scientific uncertainty than actually exists. “The contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust,” said Justin Farrell, a Yale University sociologist and author of the study, released on Monday in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. [url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/19/as-congress-probes-the-global-warming-pause-actual-temperatures-are-surging/][As Congress debates climate change, global temperatures surge][/url] Numerous previous studies have examined how corporate-funded campaigns have helped shape individual views about global warming. But the Yale study takes what Farrell calls the “bird’s-eye view,” using computer analytics to systematically examine vast amounts of printed matter published by 164 groups—including think-tanks and lobbying firms—and more than 4,500 individuals who have been skeptical of mainstream scientific views on climate change. The study analyzed the articles, policy papers and transcripts produced by these groups over a 20-year period. Then it separated the groups that received corporate funding from those that did not. The results, Farrell said, revealed an “ecosystem of influence” within the corporate-backed groups. Those that received donations consistently promoted the same contrarian themes—casting doubt, for example, on whether higher levels of man-made carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere were harmful to the planet. There was no evidence of such coordination among the non-funded groups. The existence of corporate money “created a united network within which the contrarian messages could be strategically created” and spread, Farrell said. “This counter-movement produced messages aimed, at the very least, at creating ideological polarization through politicized tactics, and at the very most, at overtly refuting current scientific consensus with scientific findings of their own,” he said. The report did not examine the impact of outside money on the messages of groups that encourage activism on climate change. Farrell suggested that there were qualitative differences between such groups and those that sought to advance corporate interests by promoting skepticism about science. “Funders looking to influence organizations who promote a consensus view are very different from funders looking to influence organizations who have the goal of creating polarization and controversy and delaying policy progress on a scientific issue that has nearly uniform consensus,” he said. [url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/05/exxonmobil-under-investigation-for-misleading-the-public-about-climate-change/][New York prosecutors investigate whether Exxon Mobil misled the public on climate-change risks][/url] The publication of the report comes two weeks after New York prosecutors announced an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil misled the public and investors about the risks of climate change. The probe was prompted in part by reports in the Los Angeles Times and the online publication Inside Climate News, alleging that Exxon researchers expressed concerned about climate change from fossil fuel emissions decades ago, even as the company publicly raised doubts about whether climate-change was scientifically valid. Exxon has declined to comment on the investigation while acknowledging that its position on climate-change has evolved in recent years. “Our company, beginning in the latter part of the 1970s and continuing to the present day, has been involved in serious scientific research, and we have been supporting since that time scientific understanding of the risk of climate change,” Exxon’s vice president of public and government affairs Ken Cohen told reporters after the New York probe was revealed.


[B]Weather disasters have become twice as frequent in 20 years, UN says[/B] [url]http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/weather-disasters-un-1.3331354[/url] Amount due to climate change unknown, but upward trend continues Thomson Reuters Posted: Nov 23, 2015 2:27 PM ET Certain disaster types such as floods are 'definitely increasing,' said Debarati Guha-Sapir, professor at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at UCL University in Louvain, Belgium, which co-authored the U.N. report. Certain disaster types such as floods are 'definitely increasing,' said Debarati Guha-Sapir, professor at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at UCL University in Louvain, Belgium, which co-authored the U.N. report. (IRIN/Tung X. Ngo) Weather-related disasters such as floods and heatwaves have occurred almost daily in the past decade, almost twice as often as two decades ago, with Asia being the hardest hit region, a UN report said on Monday. While the report authors could not pin the increase wholly on climate change, they did say that the upward trend was likely to continue as extreme weather events increased. Since 1995, weather disasters have killed 606,000 people, left 4.1 billion injured, homeless or in need of aid, and accounted for 90 per cent of all disasters, it said. A recent peak year was 2002, when drought in India hit 200 million and a sandstorm in China affected 100 million. But the standout mega-disaster was Cyclone Nargis, which killed 138,000 in Myanmar in 2008. While geophysical causes such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis often grab the headlines, they only make up one in 10 of the disasters trawled from a database defined by the impact. The report, called "The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters," found there were an average of 335 weather-related disasters annually between 2005 and August this year, up 14 per cent from 1995-2004 and almost twice as many as in the years from 1985 to 1994. "While scientists cannot calculate what percentage of this rise is due to climate change, predictions of more extreme weather in future almost certainly mean that we will witness a continued upward trend in weather-related disasters in the decades ahead," the report said. A damaged structure is pictured in this aerial photo in Index, Washington after a storm blew down trees and triggered mudslides and flooding, killing at least three people last week. Since 1995, weather disasters have killed 606,000 people and left 4.1 billion injured, homeless or in need of aid, a new U.N. report has found. (Jason Redmond/Reuters) The release of the report comes a week before world leaders gather in Paris to discuss plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions and prevent world temperatures rising. The United Nations says atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming, have risen to a new record every year for the past 30 years. 'Floods are definitely increasing' "All we can say is that certain disaster types are increasing. Floods are definitely increasing," said Debarati Guha-Sapir, professor at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at UCL University in Louvain, Belgium, which co-authored the report..............


Mark Jacobson: Barriers to 100% Clean Energy are Social and Political, Not Technical or Economic The Solutions Project | November 20, 2015 8:53 am [url]http://ecowatch.com/2015/11/20/mark-jacobson-renewables/[/url] As world leaders prepare to gather in Paris for a landmark climate summit, a new analysis from Stanford University and University of California researchers lays out roadmaps for 139 countries, including the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters, to switch to 100 percent clean, renewable energy generated from wind, water and sunlight for all purposes by 2050. Mark Z. Jacobson, a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and director of the school’s Atmosphere/Energy Program, said the roadmaps should give negotiators and leaders confidence that they can meet energy demands in all energy sectors—including electricity, transportation, heating and cooling, industry and agriculture—with clean sources. [img]http://ecowatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/markjacobson750.jpg[/img] “The main barriers to getting to 100 percent clean energy are social and political, not technical or economic,” Jacobson told members of Congress and ambassadors from countries participating in the negotiations during a forum Thursday in Washington, DC. All the roadmaps are available via an embeddable collection of interactive maps on The Solutions Project’s website. Jacobson and his colleagues found that future costs for producing clean energy are similar to a business-as-usual scenario of about 11 cents per kilowatt hour, similar to the average cost in America today. The air pollution and climate costs due to fossil fuels, however, are virtually eliminated by clean–energy technologies. Overall, the analysis found, the business, health, plus climate costs of a 100 percent clean and renewable energy system were more than 60 percent lower than those of a business-as-usual system. Switching to 100 percent clean energy would prevent four to seven million premature deaths each year globally from pollution associated with fossil fuels. By comparison, about six million people die prematurely each year from smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Globally, the transition to clean, renewable energy would create more than 20 million more jobs than would be lost in the transition. It would also stabilize energy costs, thanks to free fuels such as wind, water and the sun; reduce terrorism risk by distributing electricity generation; and eliminate the overwhelming majority of heat-trapping emissions that contribute to climate change. The researchers also calculated that just 0.3 percent of the world’s land footprint would have to be devoted to energy production under a 100 percent clean energy scenario. That is less than the size of Madagascar. Jacobson and his colleagues are also slated to publish a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Nov. 23 which examines how to achieve reliability under a 100 percent clean energy scenario for the U.S. The countries in the roadmap include the world’s major emitters, and were selected based on available International Energy Agency data. Last week, the IEA’s energy outlook concluded for the first time that renewables are already set to outpace coal as the world’s leading source of electricity. “The past few years have seen dramatic increases in the growth of renewable energy,” Jacobson said. “Countries can ramp that up even faster and enjoy a host of economic and health benefits by doing so.” Earlier this month, National Geographic highlighted Jacobson’s earlier research on clean energy roadmaps he drew up for all 50 U.S. states, calling the project a “blueprint for a carbon-free America.” The magazine will highlight his new research on the 139 country roadmaps to clean energy later this month. The paper, along with underlying data and tables are available on Jacobson’s faculty website. The analysis uses the same methodology as a previous study published in Energy and Environmental Science, and will be formally published in a journal next year.


[B]US kids' lawsuit over climate change gathers steam[/B] AFP AFP [url]http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/us-kids-lawsuit-over-climate-change-gathers-steam/ar-BBnh6fA?ocid=spartandhp[/url] A lawsuit over climate change filed by 21 young Americans has gained the attention of the fossil fuel industry, which is joining the US government to oppose the kids' demands for sharper pollution cuts The plaintiffs, aged eight to 19, include the granddaughter of renowned climate scientist James Hansen, formerly of NASA and a well-known advocate of reducing the greenhouse gases that are causing the planet to heat up. The plaintiffs want the government to commit to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and implement "a science-based climate recovery plan" that protects the Earth for future generations, according to the Oregon-based group, Our Children's Trust. "This case will put indisputable science about climate change squarely in front of the federal judiciary," said the group, which filed its lawsuit against President Barack Obama's administration in August, and has filed multiple state lawsuits over the past several years. They are calling on the US District Court of Oregon -- the state where most of the plaintiffs live -- to order the government to "swiftly phase down carbon dioxide emissions" so that atmospheric CO2 concentrations "are no more than 350 parts per million by 2100." Atmospheric CO2 concentration is currently around 400 ppm, a level unprecedented in modern history and one that has raised alarm among many climate scientists. Meanwhile, the planet is on track for its hottest year since 1880, amid key climate talks later this month in Paris that will reveal how much world leaders are prepared to do to save the environment. In a sign that the kids' lawsuit is causing some concern to industry interests, powerful oil and coal companies filed earlier this month for permission to join the US government in opposing it. They include the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers -- which represents ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Koch Industries and more -- the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers. "The fossil fuel industry doesn't want additional pressure on the federal government to run a stricter climate change program," said Cornell University law professor Gerald Torres, an expert on environmental law who is not involved in the case. "It does suggest they are taking this lawsuit seriously. And I think it ought to be taken seriously," Torres told AFP. - Dangers ignored - The plaintiffs say the federal government has known about the danger of carbon emissions since 1965, but has not done enough to stem them. Specifically, pledges in the 1990s by Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and stop global warming were "never implemented." This lack of action shows that the "federal government has violated the youngest generation's constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources," Our Children's Trust has said. In other words, the government has jeopardized such vital natural resources as the air, seas, coastlines, water and wildlife...........


11-20-2015 I'd better post this here also, in case I want to refer to it I can find it. Another look at thorium from a green, anti-nuc perspective. http://nuclearfreeplanet.org/thorium...une-2012-.html I'm not saying I agree. There are possibilities for current fission nuc tech, if meltdowns can be prevented, and the waste can be recycled. The article suggests depleted uranium, which is plentiful, could be used.


[B]Renewable energy isn’t boosting electric bills study contends[/B] By Mark Jaffe The Denver Post source: AP [url]http://blogs.denverpost.com/thebalancesheet/2015/03/23/renewable-energy-isnt-boosting-electric-bills-study-contends/12570/[/url] (typos corrected) Renewable energy is seen as the culprit behind higher electricity bills by Colorado Republican lawmakers, but a new study contends it just ain’t so. The Colorado Senate passed a bill rolling back the state’s renewable energy standard — which requires that investor-owned utilities get 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 and rural electric coops to get 20 percent — to 15 percent for both. “We want to make sure we’re not pushing the envelope so far that we’re hurting consumers, especially the rural consumers,” said the sponsor, Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction. And handing out graphs of comparative rates, Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, said, “We’ve gone from being one of the lowest-cost states, to being higher than most of our neighbors in the mountain states.” The bill, however, died in the Democratic-majority House. It is true that Xcel Energy, the state’s largest electricity provider, has had a series of rate hikes over the last few years, but $347 million in increases between 2006 and 2009 were the result of the utility’s new $1 billion Comanche 3 coal plant coming on line. A lot of the rate increases were also driven by Xcel adding long-deferred infrastructure, such as transmission lines. Putting that aside, have wind and solar installations increased the cost of electricity? A study by Nancy Pfund and Anand Chhabara says there is no evidence to show they have. The study “Renewable Are Driving up Electricity Prices – Wait, What?” looks at the top ten states for renewable energy, the ten states with the least renewable energy, and the nation averages. “Basically we didn’t find much difference and I think that’s the point,” said Pfund, who is a managing partner in DBL Investors, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm specializing in clean technologies and sustainable products and services. Chhabara, who is working on dual law and business degrees at Stanford University, was a summer associate at DBL. In their analysis the top 10 states in renewable energy had an average increase in retail electricity prices of 3.06 percent between 2002 and 2013. The 10 states with the least renewable energy generation had a 3.74 percent increase, while the national average was 3.23 percent. The numbers don’t prove anything one way or another, but they don’t particularly support the contention that renewables boost rates. On the other hand, they don’t give any sense of what the rates would have been in those leading renewable energy states if they hadn’t had wind and solar.....


Sunshine revolution: the age of solar power Ed Crooks and Lucy Hornby [url]http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/488483ca-8334-11e5-8e80-1574112844fd.html[/url] [img]http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/7ee3248c-8a03-4498-a36d-d6794980a1a7.img[/img] The suburbs of Las Vegas do not look like the cradle of a revolution. Golden stucco-clad houses stretch for street after identical street, interspersed with gated communities with names such as Spanish Oaks and Rancho Bel Air. The sky is the deepest blue, the desert air is clear and the distant mountains are beautiful. The only sounds are the buzz of a gardener’s hedge trimmer and a squeaking baby buggy pushed by a power-walking mother. The bright lights of Sin City seem a very long way away. Yet these quiet streets are being changed by a movement that is gathering momentum across America and around the world, challenging one of the most fundamental of economic relationships: the way we use and pay for energy. There are now more than 7,000 homes in Nevada fitted with solar panels to generate their own electricity, and the number is rising fast. Just five years ago, residential solar power was still a niche product for the homeowner with a fat wallet and a bleeding heart. Not any more. Technology, politics and finance have aligned to move it into the mainstream. Solar power has become the fastest-growing energy source in the US. For decades the electricity industry has been a cautious and conservative business, but the plunging prices of solar panels, down by about two-thirds in the past six years, have woken it up with a bang. Dynamic rooftop solar power companies have entered the market, in the most radical change to electricity supplies since the industry was born in the 19th century. It has been described as the equivalent of the mobile revolution in telephony, or the PC in computing. A shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy will be a central issue at the UN climate talks in Paris, which begin later this month. Although countries will arrive having made commitments to curb their future greenhouse gas emissions, analysis of the pledges so far suggests they are unlikely to be enough to meet the internationally agreed goal of stopping global temperatures rising by more than 2C from levels before the Industrial Revolution. The hope is that countries will do more, including developing more renewable energy. On a global scale, solar power is still tiny, providing only about 1 per cent of the world’s electricity, according to the International Energy Agency, the think-tank backed by developed countries’ governments. It is now clear, though, that it has the potential to contribute much more than that. Solar power and onshore wind power are the two most cost-effective forms of renewables but solar has the greater capacity for costs to fall further. “Wind is basically mechanics; solar is electronics. And the progress there is much more rapid, and will continue,” says Gérard Mestrallet, chief executive of Engie, the French energy group. Solar is also flexible in scale: it can power a calculator, or a city. Yet for some the disruptive potential of solar power is not so much a promise as a threat. Established electric utilities are facing challenges they had not dreamt about five years ago. Many are starting to push back. It is a battle that will shape the future of the industry — and possibly of the climate.....


[B]Analysts: Solar energy is on the verge of a 'global boom'[/B] Henning Gloystein and Aaron Sheldrick, Reuters Apr. 25, 2015, 10:19 PM [url]http://www.businessinsider.com/solar-energy-is-on-the-verge-of-a-global-boom-2015-4?IR=T[/url] SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) - One by one, Japan is turning off the lights at the giant oil-fired power plants that propelled it to the ranks of the world's top industrialized nations. With nuclear power in the doldrums after the Fukushima disaster, it's solar energy that is becoming the alternative. Solar power is set to become profitable in Japan as early as this quarter, according to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF), freeing it from the need for government subsidies and making it the last of the G7 economies where the technology has become economically viable. Japan is now one of the world's four largest markets for solar panels and a large number of power plants are coming onstream, including two giant arrays over water in Kato City and a $1.1 billion solar farm being built on a salt field in Okayama, both west of Osaka. "Solar has come of age in Japan and from now on will be replacing imported uranium and fossil fuels," said Tomas Kåberger, executive board chairman of JREF. "In trying to protect their fossil fuel and nuclear (plants), Japan's electric power companies can only delay developments here," he said, referring to the 10 regional monopolies that have dominated electricity production since the 1950s. Japan is retiring nearly 2.4 gigawatts of expensive and polluting oil-fired energy plants by March next year and switching to alternative fuels. Japan's 43 nuclear reactors have been closed in the wake of the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima power plant after an earthquake and a tsunami - since then, renewable energy capacity has tripled to 25 gigawatts, with solar accounting for more than 80 percent of that. Once Japan reaches cost-revenue parity in solar energy, it will mean the technology is commercially viable in all G7 countries and 14 of the G20 economies, according to data from governments, industry and consumer groups. A crash in the prices of photovoltaic panels and improved technology that harnesses more power from the sun has placed solar on the cusp of a global boom, analysts say, who compare its rise to shale oil. "Just as shale extraction reconfigured oil and gas, no other technology is closer to transforming power markets than distributed and utility scale solar," said consultancy Wood Mackenzie, which has a focus on the oil and gas Oil major Exxon Mobil says that "solar capacity is expected to grow by more than 20 times from 2010 to 2040." Investors are also re-discovering solar, with the global solar index up 40 percent this year, lifting it out of a slump following the 2008/2009 financial crisis, far outperforming struggling commodities such as iron ore, natural gas, copper or coal. Cheaper panels By starting mass-production of solar panels, China is the driving force in bringing down solar manufacturing costs by 80 percent in the last decade, according to Germany's Fraunhofer Institute. In Japan, residential solar power production costs have more than halved since 2010 to under 30 yen ($0.25) per kilowatt-hour (kWh), making it comparable to average household electricity prices. Wood Mackenzie expects solar costs to fall more as "efficiencies are nowhere near their theoretical maximums." Solar is already well-entrenched in Europe and North America, but it is the expected boom in Asia that is lifting it out from its niche. China's new anti-pollution policies are making the big difference. Because of these policies, Beijing is seeking alternatives for coal, which makes up almost two-thirds of its energy consumption. China's 2014 solar capacity was 26.52 gigawatt (GW), less than 2 percent of its total capacity of 1,360 GW. But the government wants to add 17.8 GW of solar power this year and added 5 GW in the first quarter alone, with plans to boost capacity to 100 GW by 2020. Coal-dominated India, with its plentiful sunlight, could also take to solar in a big way. Despite this boom, fossil-fueled power is far from dead. "Additional generating capacity, such as natural gas-fired plants, must be made available to back up wind and solar during the times when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing," Exxon says.