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29Aug/14Off

Policy uncertainty could undermine future of renewables, agency says

Posted on August 28, 2014 at 10:36 am by Ryan Holeywell in Electricity, Environment, Politics/Policy, Solar, Wind

Power generation from renewable resources like wind, solar and hydroelectricity grew last year, but that growth could slow over the next five years unless policymakers provide more certainty about the future market for such technology, the International Energy Agency said in a new report today.

Renewable resources accounted for 22 percent of the world’s power generation last year, and by 2020, that figure could climb to 26 percent, the Paris-based intergovernmental organization said.

But that growth could start to slow after this year. The agency said renewable energy faces “sluggish demand and growing risks in key markets.”

“Renewables are a necessary part of energy security,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “However, just when they are becoming a cost-competitive option in an increasing number of cases, policy and regulatory uncertainty is rising in some key markets. This stems from concerns about the costs of deploying renewables.”

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/08/28/policy-uncertainty-could-undermine-future-of-renewables-agency-says/

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29Aug/14Off

Powering the World’s Poorer Economies: A Response to Bill Gates and Jigar Shah

Carl Pope weighs in with a more data-driven case for renewables over fossil fuels.

Carl Pope

August 28, 2014

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and SunEdison founder Jigar Shah have clashed in a heated debate over the best way to provide energy access to the world’s poor.

Gates sides with Bjorn Lomborg (author of The Skeptical Environmentalist) in making a call for centralized, fossil-fuel-based electrification. Shah calls for prioritizing distributed renewable solutions.

Both Gates and Shah agree that it should be a high moral priority to provide modern energy to the poor as quickly, reliably and cheaply as we possibly can. Both also agree that to the extent that this goal involves some additional use of fossil fuels, climate concerns should not be regarded as a barrier. Both are right on this count.

It would be wrong for the rich to continue to burn fossil fuels while denying them to the poor to protect the climate. It would also be a pointless exercise, since the poor cannot afford enough fossil-fuel consumption to make a meaningful climate difference.

However, neither Gates (and the Bjorn Lomborg clips which Gates cites) nor Shah provide meaningful, supporting data analysis for their divergent solutions.

What’s the quicker, more reliable and cheaper solution to reach the 3.2 billion electricity-deprived people around the globe? New centralized, fossil-fired generation or distributed renewables? This ought to be a data-driven conversation, so here are the facts.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Powering-the-Worlds-Poorer-Economies-A-Response-to-Bill-Gates-and-Jigar-S?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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29Aug/14Off

Accounting for the Expanding Carbon Shadow from Coal-Burning Plants

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

August 28, 2014 2:55 pmAugust 28, 2014 9:52 pm

Steven Davis of the University of California, Irvine, and Robert Socolow of Princeton (best known for his work dividing the climate challenge into carbon “wedges”) have written “Commitment accounting of CO2 emissions,” a valuable new paper in Environmental Research Letters showing the value of shifting from tracking annual emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants to weighing the full amount of carbon dioxide that such plants, burning coal or gas, could emit during their time in service.

This makes sense because of the long lifetime of these plants once built — typically 40 years or so — and the long lifetime of carbon dioxide once released. (I’d love to see some data visualization experiments on this idea from Adam Nieman, building on his work showing the volume of daily CO2 emissions from cities and the like.)

Here’s Davis’s “video abstract” (the transcript is appended at the end of this post, along with a rich discussion of the paper’s findings and implications):

The opening section of the paper is remarkably clear and is worth posting here (minus footnotes and the like):

To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/accounting-for-the-expanding-carbon-shadow-from-coal-burning-plants/

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29Aug/14Off

Catastrophic flooding turned the U.K. into a nation of climate change believers

Apparently extreme weather speaks louder than science

Thursday, Aug 28, 2014 07:00 AM PDT

Lindsay Abrams

Topics: Climate Change, Extreme weather, climate change denialism, Floods, united kingdom, Sustainability News, News

What’s it going to take to convince people that climate change is a real and serious threat? I’m loath to think an eye-opening catastrophe’s the answer. Yet, there’s this: Half the people who lived through this past winter in the U.K. — which was marked by widespread flooding — said it made them more convinced that climate change is happening, according to a survey conducted by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. And over a quarter of respondents emerged with a strengthened belief that human activity is driving that change.

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/28/catastrophic_flooding_turned_the_u_k_into_a_nation_of_climate_believers/

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29Aug/14Off

Climate change poses challenges to Haiti’s coffee production, study says


By JACQUELINE CHARLES

The Miami HeraldAugust 28, 2014 Updated 10 hours ago

Haiti's coffee production, which is enjoying a sweet comeback, could be adversely affected by warmer temperatures and less rainfall in the future, a study released Thursday by Catholic Relief Services said.

The humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church commissioned the study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture to help its work with coffee and mango growers in southern Haiti. But after seeing how climatic changes could reduce suitable agriculture land for coffee, while offering opportunity for other crops, CRS decided it needed to be shared with a wider audience, said Jeff McIntosh, CRS deputy director in Haiti.

"The main message is there are climatic changes that are being forecast through the study and the effects will be felt in the near term and over the next 40 years," he said from the Hotel Montana in Petionville, Haiti, where CRS led a daylong discussion with officials from Haiti's ministry of environment and agriculture, among others.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/08/28/238076/climate-change-poses-challenges.html?sp=/99/200/260/

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29Aug/14Off

19 Central American Coffee Farms Now Generate Energy from Wastewater

by Inhabitat, 08/28/14

filed under: clean tech, Reader Submitted Content, Recycling initiatives, Renewable Energy, social responsibility, Water Issues

Did you know that only 1 percent of freshwater in the world is available for human consumption? Or that 140 litres of water are required to produce a single cup of coffee? Over 70% of water used in Latin American coffee farms is returned into rivers without being treated, causing severe damage to to downstream communities, aquatic fauna, and flora, due to its organic waste and high toxicity. UTZ Certified, a sustainable farming initiative, is changing that. 19 pilot sites across Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala received tailor-made coffee wastewater and solid waste treatment mechanisms, and the positive impact, both economic and environmental, has been startling.

This initiative is known as The Energy from Coffee Wastewater Project, and it has a dual goal: to prevent polluted water from coffee production to be released untreated into ecosystems, and to generate energy from coffee production waste. It has been implemented differently in a range of farms of varying sizes, all to great effect. In addition to treating all water used in coffee processing, they have managed to reduce the amount of water needed for this process by 50 percent, prevented the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by redirecting it as cooking fuel for local residents, thus preventing local deforestation of local, native trees as cooking firewood.

To read the entire article go to: http://inhabitat.com/19-central-american-coffee-farms-now-generate-energy-from-wastewater/

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29Aug/14Off

Commentary: How natural gas is changing China’s energy landscape

Posted on August 29, 2014 at 6:58 am by Matt Smith in Coal, Electricity, Environment, Hydraulic fracturing, Natural gas

China is in a pickle. It is a pickle it is well aware of – and trying to fix – but a pickle nonetheless, as it tries to wean itself off coal and ramp up its natural gas consumption. So here are some of the trials and tribulations faced by the world’s largest energy consumer around natural gas:

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/08/29/how-natural-gas-is-changing-the-energy-landscape-in-china/

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29Aug/14Off

China scoffs at our puny bikeshare programs

By Madeleine Thomas

27 Aug 2014 6:32 PM

Original source: http://grist.org/list/china-scoffs-at-our-puny-bikeshare-programs/

The Chinese have tried every trick in the book to clear up urban smog that, at times, has literally broken the pollutometer. We’ve seen everything from protest art to threats from the government to execute some of the country’s worst polluters.

But there’s another smog fighting tool hitting the streets now, too: The humble, and once common bicycle.

According to a 2008 report by the Earth Policy Institute, bicycling in China took a serious dive between 1995 and 2005: The country’s bike fleet declined by 35 percent, while private car ownership doubled.

Now, according to the Atlantic, bikes are making a comeback, in part because of ubiquitous bikeshare programs. In fact, of the top 30 cities worldwide with more than 5,000 bikes in their systems, 24 of them are in China, Vox reports:

“…over the last couple of years, China has lapped the field several times over. As its private bicycle fleet has declined — largely because more and more people can afford cars — officials have implemented bike share programs to give residents a transportation option that cuts down on traffic.

All told, China has eight cities with more bike share bikes than the entire United States does.”

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28Aug/14Off

Forget the climate — cap-and-trade could fix your allergies

By Eve Andrews

26 Aug 2014 6:07 PM

Original source: http://grist.org/news/forget-the-climate-cap-and-trade-could-fix-your-allergies/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Aug%252027&utm_campaign=daily

How can we finally get people to care about carbon emissions even a little bit? Focus on how they are directly threatening the amount of time on Earth that we can spend snacking and sexting (clinically proven to be the preferred activities of humans in the 21st century.) Or, as The Atlantic’s James Hamblin puts it:

Researchers are learning that the most effective way around climate-policy ambivalence is to invoke imminent dangers to human health. “What’s killing me today?” with emphasis on killing and me and today.

The answer to that question is — you guessed it! — carbon emissions. As Hamblin reports, for allergy and asthma sufferers, increased carbon dioxide levels boost pollen count. One allergist expects pollen levels to double by 2040. Also fun: Fossil fuel combustion creates minuscule particles that hang around in our lungs and bloodstreams and then kill us. Air pollution caused one in eight deaths in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.

OK – so carbon emissions are threatening lives. But what kind of effect would limiting those emissions have on the economy? Those cap-and-trade programs sure seem costly!

Well, a recent study by a team of MIT researchers, published in Nature Climate Change, found that a cap on carbon emissions would end up saving $125 billion in human health costs – which would cover the projected costs of widespread emissions capping tenfold. Furthermore:

[The study’s authors] write that any cost-benefit analysis of climate policy that omits the health effects of regional air pollution “greatly underestimate[s] benefits.”

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28Aug/14Off

If You Have Allergies or Asthma, Talk to Your Doctor About Cap and Trade

The cost of limiting carbon emissions would pay for itself in human health benefits.

James Hamblin Aug 26 2014, 11:17 AM ET

The polar ice caps feel remote. The threat of orioles permanently leaving Baltimore for cooler climates might be a little more compelling. But researchers are learning that the most effective way around climate-policy ambivalence is to invoke imminent dangers to human health. "What's killing me today?" with emphasis on killing and me and today.

For one, when there is more carbon dioxide in the environment, plants produce more pollen, which is no good for allergies and asthma. Rutgers allergist Leonard Bielory recently warned that pollen counts are projected to double by 2040. Likewise, U.S. foresters recently calculated that trees seem to be averting around $6.8 billion in human health costs annually, largely due to mitigating effects of air pollution (even if they do produce pollen). And already the World Health Organization is warning that air pollution is responsible for one out of every eight human deaths, largely because combustion of fossil fuels results in invisible airborne particles that get lodged in our lungs and suspended in our blood.

But is that worth the cost of implementing policies that limit carbon emissions? Some say yes.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/asthma-and-climate-policy/379119/

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28Aug/14Off

A climate for change: A solution conservatives could accept

By Editorial Board August 27 at 7:22 PM

A PROMINENT member of Congress has proposed a comprehensive national climate-change plan. It’s only 28 pages long, it’s market-based, and it would put money into the pockets of most Americans.

This is not the first time that Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), a House Democratic leader, has made the point that the best climate-change policy is not complicated. He introduced a similar plan in 2009. The underlying logic is older still: Since the beginning of the climate debate, mainstream economists, left and right, have argued that the best way to cut greenhouse gases is to use simple market economics, putting a price on emissions that reflects the environmental damage they cause.

As economists see it, the nation is giving a massive implicit subsidy to the users of fossil fuels, who fill the air with carbon dioxide, imposing real costs on society, without paying for the privilege. Make users pay for the carbon dioxide they emit and they will waste less energy, while investment will flow into low-carbon technologies. The nation would obtain emissions cuts at a minimum cost to the economy.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-climate-for-change-a-solution-conservatives-could-accept/2014/08/27/782cba4e-2a01-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html

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28Aug/14Off

The Washington Post wants to fix the climate debate — by featuring even more deniers

The Posts' bold new editorial stance is confusingly hypocritical

Lindsay Abrams Follow

Climate Week‘s come early at the Washington Post. The paper’s editorial board, at a pace of one op-ed per day, has decided to acknowledge that man-made climate change is an unequivocal reality, and that the time to take action is now. In so doing, boasts Fred Hiatt, the Post’s editorial page editor, it’s going to “unstick” America’s “devolving debate over global warming.”

Almost. As Joe Romm points out at ThinkProgress, there are still some major flaws in that plan. Chief among them: the Post hasn’t made it clear what an un-devolved climate debate would look like.

The Post is so, so close to getting there. Its editorial board is throwing itself fully behind the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real, and that it’s almost certainly caused by human activity. That’s good, because those facts are no longer up for debate.  That same realization drove the Los Angeles Times, last fall, to stop publishing letters from climate deniers who challenged those facts. “The debate right now isn’t whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does),” letters editor Paul Thorton explained at the time, ”but what this evidence means for us.”

To read the entire article go to: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/27/the_washington_post_wants_to_fix_the_climate_debate_by_featuring_even_more_deniers/

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28Aug/14Off

Palo Alto’s utility now provides guilt-free electricity

By John Farrell

27 Aug 2014 5:01 AM

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/palo-altos-utility-now-provides-guilt-free-electricity/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Aug%252027&utm_campaign=daily

It’s one thing to own your utility with a commitment to renewable energy, but it’s quite another thing to deliver on it. In 2007, the municipal utility in Palo Alto, Calif., set an ambitious target of achieving 33 percent renewable energy by 2015, and ultimately a carbon neutral electricity supply. Seven years later, they are on track to reach 48 percent renewable power in 2017, and have been meeting their carbon neutral goal since late last year.

How can a utility be carbon neutral?

The foundation of Palo Alto’s energy supply is hydro power, making up as much as half of their total electricity generation each year, though it doesn’t technically count as ‘renewable.’ The utility purchased renewable energy credits to offset the other half of its energy supply. So while the carbon neutral target is impressive, it doesn’t mean no fossil fuels are used. Rather, on an annual, net basis, the cities’ electric customers produce no carbon emissions.

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28Aug/14Off

Energy companies in Texas are setting money on fire

By Heather Smith

27 Aug 2014 5:47 AM

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/energy-companies-in-texas-are-setting-money-on-fire/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Aug%252027&utm_campaign=daily

To some, like President Obama, natural gas is the “bridge fuel” — a readily available energy source that burns cleaner than coal and that’s cheap enough to put coal out of business while we’re waiting for actually renewable energy sources to come online.

But what if it’s so cheap it just gets wasted? The bridge just collapses, is what. As an epic series put together by the San Antonio Express News shows, being really, really cheap can also mean “too cheap to sell.”

The Express News spent a year going over stacks of documents and data obtained from the Texas Railroad Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the oil and gas industry in the state. What the investigation found was that fracking operations in the remote Eagle Ford shale were keeping the more valuable oil they produced while venting the natural gas into the atmosphere. Sometimes they just released it directly into the air, despite its being one of the nastier greenhouse gases out there.  Other times they burned it first, which converted it to carbon dioxide — less climate-change inducing, but not exactly Miss Popularity either. Between 2009 to 2012, they had let go of enough natural gas to keep 335,700 typical Texan households in warm houses and hot dinners for a year.

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28Aug/14Off

Nation’s First Comprehensive Coal Ash Bill Awaits Enactment in North Carolina

08/27/2014 | Sonal Patel

North Carolina’s Legislature last week became the first in the nation to approve a sweeping coal ash bill, but the state’s governor isn’t fully endorsing it.

Both the House and the Senate on Aug. 20 approved the Coal Ash Management Act (S.B. 729), a measure that became an urgent legislative priority after Duke Energy’s February 2014 coal ash spill. That incident occurred when a pipe connected to a power plant coal ash pond ruptured and spewed 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.powermag.com/nations-first-comprehensive-coal-ash-bill-awaits-enactment-in-north-carolina/

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