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October, 2012 Archives
Posted by Brad Plumer on October 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm
Every time a major natural disaster barrels along, people want to know whether it has anything to do with global warming. Is climate change causing this storm? That drought? Will we see more disasters like it if the planet keeps warming?
When it comes to tropical cyclones like Hurricane Sandy, the climate links can be somewhat difficult to pin down. On the one hand, humans have warmed the planet about 0.8°C since the Industrial Revolution. As Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research likes to say, that affects all weather events to an extent. The oceans are now warmer, there’s more moisture in the air—those things help fuel hurricanes and alter other weather patterns.
And yet trying to attribute specific hurricanes to changes in global temperature remains quite difficult. In its big report on natural disasters last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said it had “low confidence” that humans were currently affecting tropical cyclone patterns. Hurricanes are far more complicated to study than, say, heat waves and the historical record is patchier. (For more on this, Andrew Revkin has an excellent discussion with climatologists over at Dot Earth.)Share This Post
Environmentalist warns clean energy businesspeople their opponents to be prepared for ‘uphill battle’
By Gordon Hamilton, Vancouver Sun October 29, 2012
VANCOUVER — Environmental icon David Suzuki warned a Clean Energy B.C. conference Monday that Canadian alternative energy companies are facing two distinct challenges: not being green enough themselves yet facing a growing challenge from a well-organized anti-climate change lobby.
“You are going to encounter a lot of opposition. Some of it is legitimate, some of it is for other reasons,” Suzuki told an overflow audience at Generate 2012, Clean Energy B.C.’s 11th annual conference. “Be prepared, even if you are doing the right thing.”
The clean energy sector is encountering opposition, Clean Energy B.C. executive director Paul Kariya said in a later interview. Not only from advocacy groups but from within government as well.
“We have a product that we think is arguably cleaner and better in terms of energy, but there are folks who just don’t see a need for it,” Kariya said in response to Suzuki’s comments. “It is an uphill battle across the board. There are organizations that are feeding information to counter the kinds of messages that we are trying to put out there.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy/Climate+warming+deniers+have+well+oiled+propaganda/7465708/story.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 10/29/2012 6:34 PM
Theodore R. Johnson is a naval officer and 2011-2012 White House Fellow. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of the federal government.
Drilling for oil on public lands is the source of a heated debate between the presidential candidates. Mitt Romney accuses the president of reducing oil and gas production. President Obama says that production has increased under his leadership. Both candidates are correct - and both claims are beside the point.
While the candidates mold statistics to their political narratives, the public stake in this debate is not as easily quantified. Oil and gas production on federal lands is a considerable portion of the nation's total energy output (about one-third), but its real value is in what it represents. Producing energy on federal land tracts is important in this election because it appeals to the most American of sentiments: self-reliance.
Here are the facts debated in last week's presidential debate:
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sfgate.com/sfchron/db_106687/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=qukd5nmVShare This Post
By MIREYA NAVARRO October 26, 2012,
The multistate carbon trading system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is undergoing its first comprehensive review since it was first put into effect in 2009.
While the nine participating Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, including New York, have found that RGGI (pronounced reggie) has succeeded in producing almost $1 billion for energy efficiency programs and in encouraging reliance on renewable energy, they are considering making some changes.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/toward-a-tougher-cap-and-trade-program/Share This Post
Posted: 10/29/2012 10:43 am
Author, 'SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth'
The U.S. fleet of 104 deteriorating atomic reactors is starting to fall. The much-hyped "nuclear renaissance" is now definitively headed in reverse.
The announcement that Wisconsin's Kewaunee will shut next year will be remembered as a critical dam break. Opened in 1974, Kewaunee has fallen victim to low gas prices, declining performance, unsolved technical problems and escalating public resistance.
Many old U.S. reactors are still profitable only because their capital costs were forced down the public throat during deregulation, through other manipulations of the public treasury, and because lax regulation lets them operate cheaply while threatening the public health.
But even that's no longer enough. Dominion Energy wanted a whole fleet of reactors, then backed down and couldn't even find a buyer for Kewaunee. As the company put it: "the decision" to shut Kewaunee "was based purely on economics. Dominion was not able to move forward with our plan to grow our nuclear fleet in the Midwest to take advantage of economies of scale". Ironically, Kewaunee was recently given a license extension by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Though Kewaunee may become the first U.S. reactor to shut in more than a decade, it won't be the last:
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harvey-wasserman/us-nuclear-plants_b_2016046.htmlShare This Post
Or at least keep customers from hating their utility even more?
Katherine Tweed: October 29, 2012
At Connecticut Light & Power, most of the preparations for Hurricane Sandy have involved tree-trimming, lining up extra work crews and sandbagging critical substations that lie in the flood zone. The utility is aiming to have a far different outcome than one year ago, when an October snowstorm left 800,000 Connecticut residents without electricity. CL&P is hardly alone in its Hurricane Sandy planning.
Jersey Central Power and Light told reporters on Friday that outages from Hurricane Sandy could last more than a week. One computer model estimated more than 10 million people across the Eastern Seaboard will lose power as the category 1 hurricane slams into the coast close to a full moon. However, that model is built from looking at outages from previous hurricanes, so increasing smart grid technologies could help to dull the magnitude of that prediction.
Utilities from Virginia to Massachusetts are already reporting power outages, with more than 30,000 without power by one report. Connecticut Light & Power had about 7,700 customers without power Monday morning. Long Island Power Authority had more than 20,000 people in the dark midday Monday.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/hurricane-sandy-can-smart-grid-limit-power-outages/Share This Post
Posted: 10/31/2012 02:28:07 AM MDT
Updated: 10/31/2012 03:32:13 AM MDT
By JEFF DONN, JONATHAN FAHEY and DAVE CARPENTER Associated Press
NEW YORK—Blame a very high tide driven by a full moon, the worst storm surge in nearly 200 years, and the placement of underground electrical equipment in flood-prone areas for the most extensive storm-related power outage in New York City's history.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_21894311Share This Post
With days of warnings that giant hurricane Sandy would hit the Northeast, power companies positioned supplies and thousands of extra line workers to deal with the onslaught of blackouts.
By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / October 29, 2012
The number of power outages caused by hurricane Sandy as it barreled toward the New Jersey shore shot up Monday afternoon and then soared in the evening, posing a growing challenge to utility companies that were bracing for the storm’s worst effects.
By mid-afternoon, with the giant storm still about 100 miles at sea and hours before its expected landfall in the evening, more than 300,000 consumers in 11 states were left in the dark. That was a big jump in overall outages from the six states and 36,400 customers that had reported being out of power just six hours earlier, according to the US Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
But the numbers reported to the DOE and relayed on its websites were quickly overshadowed by those reportedly directly by utilities: By 6 p.m. more than 2,100,000 customers were without power in 11 states: New Jersey utilities reported 606,671 in the dark, New York 593,992, Massachusetts 316,190, Connecticut 229,440, the Delmarva region 141,613, Rhode Island 109,182, Virginia 43,300, Pennsylvania 26,615,North Carolina 6,466, and New Hampshire 28,427.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/1029/Hurricane-Sandy-blackouts-hit-millions.-Can-power-companies-copeShare This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD October 28, 2012, 4:55 pm
Among the various immobile pieces of infrastructure in the path of the East Coast hurricane are around 20 nuclear reactors, from Calvert Cliffs in southern Maryland to Pilgrim in Plymouth, Mass., and Vermont Yankee, just north of the Massachusetts line in Vernon, Vt. But the industry and regulatory officials say that this is an anticipated challenge.
At the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s mid-Atlantic office in King of Prussia, Pa., Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman, said that reactors in the region have undertaken routine preparations. “They all have severe weather procedures,’’ she said. “They’ve gone through their procedures, making sure they have appropriate staff able to be on site, and that anything that’s outside is fastened down.’’
“They’re all designed to withstand the natural phenomena, including hurricanes and what comes with hurricanes — high winds, high water, that kind of thing,’’ she said.
Reactors operate under licenses that require them to shut down if conditions are too severe, and some reactor operators could shut down even before they are required to do so if they choose to, she said. But none had done so by Sunday afternoon. The conditions that would require a shutdown differ from plant to plant and involve factors like wind speed and flooding potential.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/nuclear-reactors-await-hurricane-sandy/Share This Post
Published Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012
MEXICO CITY – For hundreds of thousands of Mexico City residents, daily life grew less arduous and less expensive Tuesday with the inauguration of a new subway line that reaches deep into poor districts of one of the world's biggest metropolises.
The mostly underground line, which cost nearly $2 billion to build, will shave average daily commute times from about 150 minutes to 78 minutes for riders who take the speedy train. The reduction in time comes from taking riders off buses that crawl along congested streets.
"The importance of returning an hour of their day to people to use as they please is probably one of the greatest social and personal impacts of a project like this," President Felipe Calderón said.
The project also is expected to help improve the capital's air quality, by eliminating 860 buses from the city's streets.
The new line, Calderón said, "means a massive reduction" in vehicle traffic: "It is estimated that we'll save 22,000 tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions with this mass transit project."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/31/4950196/mexico-city-subway-line-hailed.htmlShare This Post
October 29, 2012, 3:54 pmComment
Toyota Motor Sales The Toyota Prius V was above average in predicted reliability.
Hybrid vehicles, and those powered by electricity in one form or another, have good predicted reliability in the Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Reliability Survey.
The survey predicts the reliability of 2013 models based on tracking of the reliability of vehicles up to 10 years old.
This year’s analysis is based on data from 1.2 million 2003-12 model-year vehicles leased or owned by Consumer Reports subscribers.
Magazine editors noted that reliability is a high point this year for all hybrids but the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. It was the only one that had a worse-than-average rating for predicted reliability.
The Toyota Prius, the Prius V (the larger hatchback Prius) and the new Prius Plug-in were all above average in predicted reliability.
The Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid, also has above-average predicted reliability.
To read the entire article go to: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/hybrids-and-electric-vehicles-do-well-in-reliability-survey/Share This Post
Posted: 10/30/2012 9:01 AM
Airbnb has found success by letting people rent their homes or apartments to travelers they may have never met. Now another San Francisco startup called Wheelz is betting that car owners will want to make money with their vehicles in the same way.
Wheelz is launching its service to the general public Tuesday in its hometown, using technology that lets drivers unlock someone else's car with an app on their smartphone.
"It allows you take your car that's parked all the time and through no effort of your own, turn it into an income-generating asset," said chief executive officer and co-founder Jeff Miller. "That helps pay for the cost of owning it."
Wheelz joins a list of sometimes controversial services - such as Uber, SideCar, Tickengo and Lyft - that are trying to reshape ridesharing and public transportation by tapping into the ubiquity of smartphones.
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sfgate.com/sfchron/db_108286/contentdetail.htm?Share This Post
by Brandon Darnell, published on October 25, 2012 at 4:45 PM
A regional bicycle share program is one step closer to reality after local officials agreed to spend $30,000 on a feasibility study that will conclude in June or July.
Public bicycle share programs are popular in cities such as Montreal, Paris, Denver and Washington, D.C., where riders pay a minimal fee to borrow a bicycle parked at one of numerous kiosks.
A similar program was floated in Sacramento last year by the Midtown Business Association, which determined that it could not support the program.
"It's evident it's time for us to be thinking about this seriously in Sacramento," said Larry Greene, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, which will foot $20,000 of the bill for the study.
An additional $10,000 comes from Amtrak as part of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/75164/First_step_in_bike_share_program_OKd_by_local_officials?utm_source=streamsend&utm_medium=email&utm_content=17313499&utm_campaign=Sac%2520Press%2520News%253A%2520New%2520bike%2520lane%2520project%2520faces%2520opposition%253B%2520Cornerstone%2520to%2520reopen%253B%2520Final%2520City%2520Council%2520debate%253B%2520Bike%2520share%2520program%2520takes%2520a%2520step%2520forward%253B%2520and%2520Jamaican%2520eats%2520on%2520K%2520Street%2520Share This Post
Posted: 10/27/2012 8:56 am
Senior Writer, The Huffington Post
As has been noted relentlessly this week, Monday evening's third and final presidential debate marked the first time since the 1980s that American presidential or vice presidential contenders were neither asked about, nor inclined to offer up on their own, opinions on climate change and what ought to be done about it.
For environmentalists -- and many ordinary Americans -- it seemed a rather discouraging milestone, particularly as a gargantuan super-storm -- of the sort that virtually all climate scientists have been warning for years would increase in frequency as the planet warmed -- threatens to slam headlong into the East Coast in a couple days' time. "Hurricane Sandy," wrote Daniel Honan at BigThink.com, "Mother Nature's revenge on the 2012 election?"
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-zeller-jr/the-politics-of-climate-silence_b_2026392.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 10/24/2012 3:06 pm
President and CEO, Joe Foss Institute; Author, 'The Long Ride'
Environmental issues haven't been a main topic of the election because the candidates are focusing on digestible "sound bites" and are unwilling to venture into the environmental vortex. Why? Because they have no credible environmental track record to promote (in the case of Obama) or no plan that can be explained in a few words or less (in the case of Romney). The candidates are setting up an either/or situation, in essence saying that we can take care of the economy or the environment, but not both, versus thinking of them as interrelated components of a healthy community. The candidates are not talking about the environment, but they are talking about energy policy because they can tie energy production to jobs, economic growth, and energy independence from the volatile Middle East, and these sound bites can help promote their platform.
The problem is that the U.S. energy platform is still predominantly a coal, oil and natural ga model, and it is the manmade emissions from these sources that are the key contributors to climate change. When we talk about our energy plan we are really talking about our environmental plan as the two are inextricably linked to one another. I propose we look at energy in a more sustainable, long-term manner wherein energy use, economic vitality, environmental quality and social justices are interrelated and vital components of a healthy community. The difficulty lies in translating this mix into a coherent and feasible plan, and it is here where both candidates struggle. When we think about a sustainable energy plan, we think about production, usage, and all of the connections between elements of a healthy society over the course of generations, not just the next ten years.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucian-spataro/energy-policy_b_2011136.htmlShare This Post