November 30, 2016
Small farms are just as important as big agriculture in the fight against climate change
By Duda Cardosa
Just four days before the US elections, the Paris Agreement officially became international law after receiving formal sign-off from 55 countries that contribute 55% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. This landmark deal marked a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change, particularly given its ratification by a majority of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, including India, China, the United States, and the European Union.
However, the election of Donald Trump has ushered in a new administration that has vocalized opposition to the agreement, leaving a wake of uncertainty. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we make every dollar and every action count in the fight against climate change.
November 29, 2016
Breakthrough In Solar Power Could Make It Cheaper And More Commercially Viable
In a paper published in Nature Energy, Dr Ross Hatton, Professor Richard Walton and colleagues, explain how solar cells could be produced with tin, making them more adaptable and simpler to produce than their current counterparts.
Solar cells based on a class of semiconductors known as lead perovskites are rapidly emerging as an efficient way to convert sunlight directly into electricity. However, the reliance on lead is a serious barrier to commercialisation, due to the well-known toxicity of lead.
November 28, 2016
Finland Is Set To Become The First Country To Ban Coal Power
By Thomas Tamblyn
Finland is widely expected to become the first country in the world to actually ban the use of coal power stations.
The government is being tipped to announce the bold decision along with a new climate and energy strategy for the country in March 2017.
It would be a significant step forward in countries prohibiting the types of energy production that we know directly contribute to putting harmful gasses into the atmosphere.
While coal currently only provides around eight per cent of the country’s energy needs the move will have a significant impact on Finland’s own energy companies.
November 27, 2016
New technology makes solar panels 70% more efficient
By Cat DiStasio
Researchers at Technion Israel Institute of Technology recently made a breakthrough in solar cell technology that could boost efficiency of existing photovoltaics by 70 percent or more. The amount of sunlight solar cells can convert into usable energy is typically limited to around 30 percent, with many existing solar panels falling short of that due to less than optimal conditions. The Technion team developed new thermodynamic tools that work to capture energy currently lost, and convert it to electricity, thereby increasing a solar cell’s efficiency to as much as 50 percent.
November 26, 2016
16-year-old scientist could turn Egypt’s plastic problem into a biofuel boom
Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad was the winner of the European Union Contest for Young Scientists for finding a new way of turning plastic into biofuel.
A sixteen-year-old Egyptian student, Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad from the Zahran Language School in Alexandria has identified a new low-cost catalyst which can generate biofuel by breaking down plastic waste.
The idea of breaking down plastic polymers into fuel feedstocks, the bulk raw material used for producing biofuel , is not a new idea. But Faiad has found a high yield catalyst, aluminosilicate catalyst, that breaks down plastic waste producing gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane, which are then converted into ethanol to use as biofuel.
November 25, 2016
The startup heroes of China’s household solar revolution
By Tom Baxter
China has seen enormous growth in renewable energy over the last few years. It now has both the largest and the fastest growing wind and solar sectors in the world. In fact, last year all of China’s increase in energy demand was met by renewables. All of this has been rapidly reducing the carbon intensity of China’s economy, now decreasing at the fastest rate in the world.
However, the picture is far from all rosy. The country’s massive solar and wind potential is seeing huge curtailment, where energy is produced but not integrated into the grid – or, in other terms, wasted. Meanwhile, China’s enormous State Grid continues to favour coal and other fossil fuels as they are able to provide a steady and reliable stream of power, compared to renewables’ natural fluctuations in efficiency.
November 24, 2016
Ireland to Plant Largest Grove of Redwood Trees Outside of California
By Steve Williams
An estate in Ireland has revealed plans to create a redwood grove that will be the largest of its kind outside California. The initiative serves as a testament both to Ireland’s heritage and its commitment to fighting global warming.
The initiative, Giants Grove, is spearheaded by the seventh Earl of Rosse, Brendan Parsons and the environmental organization Crann, which promotes the preservation of trees, hedgerows and woodlands throughout Ireland.
November 23, 2016
Obama Administration Rolls Out Series Of New Clean Energy Initiatives
By Betsy Lillian
President Barack Obama’s leadership has catalyzed a global transition toward a clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced. Specifically, from 2010-2015 alone, the U.S. invested in more than $11 billion in international clean energy finance – including grant-based assistance, development finance and export credit – to support countries as they work to meet their growing energy needs and reduce carbon emissions.
At the same time, says the DOE, the U.S. has made research and development (R&D) a top priority – decreasing the cost of clean energy technologies substantially – and previously launched several initiatives to enhance universal access to cleaner energy:
November 22, 2016
Biochar at COP22: Fighting Climate Change From the Ground Up
By Kate Wheeling
Climate delegates from around the globe have converged on the COP22 Village in Marrakech, Morocco, to hammer out the details of implementing the Paris Agreement. We already know that nations’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, as they stand now, will not be enough to meet the goals of the agreement, and it’s widely accepted that, in order to keep warming below two degrees Celsius, we’ll have to deploy technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere during the second half of the century.
There has been much ado about flashier carbon-capture systems, like geologic sequestration, which involves collecting carbon dioxide and injecting it deep below the Earth’s surface — into depleted oil or gas wells, for example. But such technologies are both expensive and unproven. But in the Green Zone on Monday, Cornell University researchers explained how adding carbon to the soil could help ease climate change while also improving agriculture.
November 21, 2016
Scientists Turned Carbon Dioxide Into Solid Rock In 2 Years
By SUSMITA BARAL
Scientists have been working together to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale and are looking for solutions to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2). Now, a team of researchers have successfully turned CO2 into solid rock in just two years, offering a solution for the abundance of carbon in the atmosphere.
Published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, the study spotlights the results of a field project in eastern Washington where researchers injected pressurized liquid CO2 into a basalt formation. Basalt is a fine-grained volcanic rock that formed from lava millions of years ago and has previously been found in lab studies to turn CO2 into carbonate minerals.
November 20, 2016
France is serious about carbon: will stop using coal by 2023, might carbon tax US goods if US pulls out of climate agreements
By Jameson Dow
France will shut down all of their coal power plants by 2023, French President Francois Hollande has announced. The announcement took place at COP22, the UN’s annual climate change conference happening now in Marrakech.
France has been a leader in non-polluting electricity sources for a long time, with 95% low-carbon sources and 77% nuclear power (page 4, data from 2014), but they still use some fossil fuels for electricity, getting 3% of their power from coal through the month of November so far. Given that their share of coal for electricity generation has been dropping since the 60s and is now a fairly small amount, it seems likely that France will easily meet their goal of eliminating the power source by 2023.
November 19, 2016
Acting on Climate Change Is Actually Where the Money Is
By Dr. Steven Santos
President-elect Donald Trump has a chance to get America working
In March, Donald Trump, then just one of many GOP presidential candidates, told the Washington Post Editorial Board: “I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.” This was consistent with Trump’s longstanding tendency to dismiss global warming as a “fictional” problem. Since 2011, he’s rattled off a litany of tweets mocking concern for the issue. And if it wasn’t a joke to him, it was a hoax—one created by the Chinese in order to hurt American manufacturing, as Trump tweeted in November 2012.
Climate change is still (somehow) viewed as a controversial issue, but the data suggests that, in reality, a consensus is developing that any climate-change policy should be science-based. A recent Pew poll shows that more than 75 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of moderate Republicans say climate scientists should have a major role in policy decisions related to the climate.
November 18, 2016
Climate momentum will continue: US envoy on Trump vote
By Agence France-Presse
The global drive to stave off disastrous global warming will continue regardless of who heads the US administration, Washington’s top climate envoy said Monday on the election of climate change denier Donald Trump.
“Heads of state can and will change, but I am confident that we can and we will sustain a durable international effort to counter climate change,” US special envoy for climate change Jonathan Pershing told journalists on the sidelines of a UN climate conference in Marrakech.
November 17, 2016
Pakistan ratifies Paris Agreement to fight global warming
By: Associated Press
Islamabad: Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says Islamabad has ratified the landmark Paris Agreement which requires signatory countries to take steps to limit global warming.
In a statement Friday, the ministry said the pact was ratified in a ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York. The Paris deal calls for keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times.
Pakistan committed to the accord in April.
Climate change in recent years has caused deadly heatwaves in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. Earlier this month, the city of Lahore was engulfed in heavy smog for several days.
November 16, 2016
If Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement, Europe could institute a “carbon tax” on US imports
By Jake Flanagin
Following the upset election of Donald Trump to the US presidency last week, members of the international community have raised concerns over the country’s role in combatting climate change.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to remove the US from the landmark Paris Agreement, which went into force on Nov. 4, 2016. The president-elect reportedly still plans on a swift withdrawal once he settles into office after Jan. 20 (Inauguration Day in the US).
Editor’s Note: Sign the Global Petition to let the World Leaders know: Protect the Paris Agreement
November 15, 2016
UCC Biochar Expo demonstrates the use of kilns to make biochar for farm or forest
By Vera Westbrook, The News-Review
WINCHESTER — About 30 people gathered around a kiln at a Biochar Expo held at Umpqua Community College Saturday where tree branches and shrubbery were burned to demonstrate how easy it is to make biochar.
Biochar is charcoal added to soil to improve soil tilth for forestry and farming.
“One of the most interesting points I learned today is that you do not have to put biochar on your soil every year, you put it on and it lasts, and every year it gets better and better,” said expo visitor Peggy Gilbertson, who tends a garden, including 40 trees, in Roseburg.
The Saturday event was sponsored by the Umpqua Biochar Education Team who is currently working with the UCC welding department to make flame cap kilns to burn biochar that are about 4-feet by 4-feet square in width at the top and 2-feet tall that widen to 3 feet at the bottom.
November 14, 2016
A Changing Climate Equals A Changing Ocean And Coast
By Stefanie Sekich-Quinn
As countries meet this week at COP22, it is imperative that promises made last year at COP21 under the Paris climate accord are seriously pursued, including the Clean Power Plan and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to tackling emissions, the world must also seriously examine, and address, climate change effects that are already impacting our coasts and ocean.
When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, the U.S. received a sobering glimpse of what future sea level rise could look like. Although it had long been theorized that climate change could intensify storms, it wasn’t until a few years after Sandy that studies indicated that climate change had intensified the hurricane and resulting devastation. A Harvard geologist asserts that Hurricane Sandy’s 13-foot storm surge is an “example of what will, by mid-century, be the new norm on the Eastern seaboard.”
November 13, 2016
Big oil slowly adapts to a warming world
By Clifford Krauss, The New York Times
In a warming world, Big Oil doesn’t look quite so big anymore.
A global glut of oil and natural gas has sent prices tumbling over the last two years, and profits are evaporating. Improving auto fuel efficiency standards threaten to depress oil consumption eventually, and fleets of electric vehicles are gradually emerging in China and a few other important markets.
Perhaps most troubling for oil companies over the long term is the goal — agreed to in December by virtually every country in the world at a climate conference in Paris — of staving off a rise in average global temperatures of more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
November 12 , 2016
How We Plan to Cover the Environment In a Trump Presidency
By SARAH EMERSON
Our nation is about to embark on a four year journey under the presidency of Donald Trump, a demagogue who successfully agitated a rash of scientific doubt throughout his campaign. A man who once called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese. A man who promised the working class that he’d revive a dying coal industry so vigorously, yet so impossibly, that it would increase GDP by $100 billion annually and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Americans.
While many aspects of his leadership are ambiguous for now—Trump skimped on policy details during the election—the impact of his appointments will likely resonate throughout the environment, climate, and energy industry. And for anyone still doubting the force of his impact, Trump has spoken in plain words about dismantling the framework that many believe would have reduced carbon emissions and weaned us off fossil fuel power.
November 11, 2016
Wind farms can tame hurricanes: scientists
By Staff Writers, Wind Daily
Huge offshore wind farms can protect vulnerable coastal cities against devastating cyclones like Katrina and Sandy by tempering winds and ocean surges before they reach land, a study said Wednesday.
Had such installations existed at the time, Hurricane Katrina which ravaged New Orleans in 2005, and Sandy, which smashed the coastlines of New York and New Jersey in 2012, would have been reduced to strong but not devastating winds, it said.
“The little turbines can fight back the beast,” said Cristina Archer, an associate professor of Earth sciences at the University of Delaware.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to demonstrate that wind farms, deployed on a grand scale, can buffer violent hurricanes, the researchers said.
November 10 , 2016
Scotland generates enough wind energy to power almost every household for an entire month
By Paul Ward
Wind turbines in Scotland provided enough electricity to supply the average needs of almost all Scotland’s homes last month, according to a report.
Data from WeatherEnergy showed turbines generated 792,717MWh of electricity to the National Grid in October, up more than a quarter on the same month last year.
The amount is enough to supply the average needs of 87% of Scottish households, WWF Scotland said.
November 9, 2016
New Record Set For Storing Solar Energy In A Technique That Uses Water As A Battery
For solar energy to be able to provide abundant power, scientists have to solve two key issues: improving the cost effectiveness of the technology and storing the energy so that it can be used at all hours, mainly at night. An interdisciplinary team at Stanford has recently made substantial progress toward solving the storage issue.
They have demonstrated how electricity captured from sunlight can be stored in the form of chemical bonds. To date, this is the most efficient means of storing electricity. The team say that if they are able to find a way of lowering the cost of their technology, it would be a massive step toward making solar power a viable alternative to current energy sources.
November 8, 2016
Geoengineering to Alter Climate Moves Closer to Reality
By: Anna Hirtenstein
Researchers say greenhouse-gas removal needed to avert warming. Large-scale greenhouse gas removal among methods considered
A United Nations body is investigating controversial methods to avert runaway climate change by giving humans the go-ahead to re-engineer the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere.
So-called geoengineering is seen as necessary to achieve the COP21 Paris agreement clinched in December, when 197 countries pledged to keep global temperatures rises below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), according to researchers who produced a report for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
“Within the Paris agreement there’s an implicit assumption that there will need to be greenhouse gases removed,” said Phil Williamson, a scientist at the U.K.’s University of East Anglia, who worked on the report. “Climate geoengineering is what countries have agreed to do, although they haven’t really realized that they’ve agreed to do it.”
November 7, 2016
Climate Change Resilience May Mean Planting More Trees
By: Tim McDonnell
In the late 1970s, the legendary Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai began to promote the idea that planting trees could be an effective way for rural women to combat poverty in their communities. Trees provide a home-grown source of fuel and income for farmers. By the time of her death in 2011 at age 71, Maathai had become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize and could claim a legacy of some 51 million trees planted around her home country.
Now, her daughter Wanjira Mathai is building on her mother’s work on trees, but with a new focus: Protecting Kenyans—particularly farmers— from the impacts of manmade climate change.
November 6, 2016
How many wind turbines would we need to power the planet?
By LEANNA GARFIELD, BUSINESS INSIDER
Wind energy is a deeply underrated resource. Though the US invested $14.5 billion in wind-power projects last year, wind farms still provide just 4 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Globally, that percentage is about the same – Harvard researchers estimate that non-urban wind farms have the technical potential to produce up to 40 times the electricity the world consumes. What would a world powered by wind actually look like?
November 5, 2016
Bike tour highlighting climate change visits Pittsburgh on Sunday
By Bill O’Driscoll
Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall started their journey of more than 4,000 miles on Aug. 27, on the coast of Oregon. Retracing Lewis & Clark’s historic route, they pedaled the highways and backroads of northern-tier states like Montana and North Dakota, crossing mountains and plains.
They have mostly hauled all their own gear, and have tent-camped and stayed with contacts along the way, when possible organizing public events in towns they pass through. They’ve been meeting both formally and informally with people from rural areas to big cities to talk climate change and what we can do about it. They’ll wrap the trip with a series of events starting Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C.
November 4, 2016
Why America’s Dirtiest Power Companies Are Investing Billions in Clean Energy
By Travis Hoium
The U.S. energy industry is in a state of transition, and there may be no company whose situation exemplifies that more than Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK). As recently as last year, Mother Jones Opens a New Window. ranked it the dirtiest power company in the U.S., primarily based on the large number of coal power plants it operates. But that report was based on 2013 data, and the Duke Energy of 2016 is rapidly changing along with the rest of the industry. Formerly dirty utilities like Duke Energy, AEP (NYSE: AEP), and Southern Company (NYSE: SO), which were on the top 5 of the dirtiest companies list, are now all leaders in renewable energy. But Duke’s transition may be the most surprising given its investments in coal over the last few decades.
November 3, 2016
Big Oil Is in Big Trouble
By Andy Rowell
Something significant happened on Friday that warrants more than just a few column inches in a newspaper.
With the most divisive presidential election in U.S. history just days away from concluding, it is easy to understand why more is not being made of the news, but just to tell you something seismic happened on Friday last week.
The world’s largest listed oil company, Exxon, announced that it was going to have to cut its reported proved reserves by just under a fifth—by 19 percent.
It would be the biggest reserve revision in the history of the oil industry. It is yet another sign that Big Oil is in big trouble.
November 2, 2016
Agencies work to combat global warming in Monterey Co.
By: Maya Holmes
More than 20 agencies from the Monterey Bay came together at the third annual Climate Summit to celebrate how they have helped reduce Monterey County’s carbon foot print and discuss how they can keep the efforts going.
“Look at places where we have successful projects that maybe could be replicated and expanded, and scaled so that we can have a bigger and better impact,” said Monterey Bay Regional Climate Action Compact co-chair Brennen Jensen. “Then identify some of the future initiatives that might be possible.”
November 1, 2016
David Letterman turns global warming reporter for NatGeo
By: Verne Gay
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Last winter, David Letterman and a production crew went to the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh — population 204 million — to produce a story on India’s growing reliance on coal and attempts to also expand renewable energy. He interviews, among others, the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, who says that India needs international assistance if his renewable energy mandate is to be achieved. Meanwhile, Letterman learns of a plan to bring electricity to 300 million Indians currently without power. In this second-season premiere of NatGeo’s series on climate change, Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live” also reports on solar energy in Nevada.