Temps Blow Past Record for Third Year in a Row

January 18, 2017

New York Times: "Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row."

"The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases."


Tahoe Basin Area Plan Litigation

January 03, 2017

CCEC has initiated litigation against Placer County for its failure to evaluate mitigation for the climate change impacts of its Tahoe Basin Area Plan. Pursuant to legislation adopted by the California Legislature in 2007, lead agencies such as Placer County are required to identify feasible mitigation for climate impacts. 

Major projects elsewhere in California have gone so far as to fully mitigate their climate impacts.

Despite being roundly criticized during the public comment period, Placer County nevertheless postponed the issue of feasible climate mitigation making it into a future closed-door discussion between Placer County staff and developers.  

The impact of climate change on the Sierras is already clear in the reduced snowpack and the unprecedented forest die-off in the Sierras.  In January, 2016, the Placer County Board of Supervisors itself formally found "that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property have arisen within Placer County, caused by the widespread and rapidly increasing incidence of tree mortality."

The County's process for the Area Plan plainly did not protect the public interest in cost-effective and enforceable climate mitigation. The writ petition is here. The Lake Tahoe News coverage is here. The Sierra Sun coverage is here.


Ford Investing $4.5 Billion in Electric Cars

December 29, 2016

Ford Cars Info: "Ford, the Blue Oval American automaker aims to use electric drive-trains in over 40% of its models by 2020 according to its CEO Mark Fields. To achieve this, the automaker is investing $ 4.5 billion in the next five years."


Americans Strongly Favor Clean Energy

December 28, 2016

Pew Research Center: "Large majorities of Americans favor expanding renewable sources to provide energy, but the public is far less supportive of increasing the production of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, and nuclear energy."

"Fully 89% of Americans favor more solar panel farms, just 9% oppose. A similarly large share supports more wind turbine farms (83% favor, 14% oppose)."

Greentech Media:  "A new survey of 1,000 people conducted by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies illustrates this dynamic. According to the poll, 75 percent of Trump voters support 'action to accelerate the deployment and use of clean energy'--including solar, wind, energy efficiency, and community renewable projects."


Tahoe Volunteers Collect 45 Signatures Supporting CCEC Comment Letter

December 04, 2016

Local North Shore residents at Lake Tahoe have collected 45 signatures supporting the Clean Energy Committee's comment letter on the proposed Tahoe Basin Area Plan that have been submitted to the Placer County Board of Supervisors.  Placer County Board of Supervisors will address this project at 9:00 a.m. on December 6 at the North Tahoe Event Center.


Sea Ice Level Plummets

November 20, 2016

Weather Underground: "Sea ice extent and area have both plummeted to record lows for this time of year in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Such dramatic losses rarely occur at the same time, which means that the global total of sea ice coverage is phenomenally low for this time of year."

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Amtrak Ridership Breaking Records

November 18, 2016

Progressive Railroading:  "Amtrak broke ticket revenue and ridership records and posted its lowest operating loss ever in fiscal-year 2016, according to unaudited results."Passengers-Boarding_80005722.jpg

"The railroad posted a record $2.14 billion in ticket revenue in FY2016, a $12 million increase over FY2015, Amtrak announced yesterday in a press release. All results have yet to be audited."

"The revenue increase was fueled by a record 31.3 million passengers, up nearly 400,000 passengers over the previous fiscal year. FY2016, which ended Sept. 30, was the sixth consecutive year that Amtrak's annual ridership surpassed 30 million passengers, Amtrak officials noted."

"Total revenue was a record $3.2 billion. The railroad posted an operating loss of $227 million, down $78 million from FY2015, and the lowest operating loss since 1973."

"Amtrak covered 94 percent of operating costs with ticket sales and other revenue, up from 92 percent in FY2015. In addition, the railroad made a net reduction in long-term debt of $71.4 million."


Scientists Stunned by Trump Win

November 09, 2016

Scientific American:  "Republican businessman and reality-television star Donald Trump will be the United States’ next president. Although science played only a bit part in this year’s dramatic, hard-fought campaign, many researchers expressed fear and disbelief as Trump defeated former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on 8 November.

“'Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,' says Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC. 'The consequences are going to be very, very severe.'”


Short-Haul Intermodal Big Untapped Area for the Railroads

October 31, 2016

Railway Age:  "Steve Ditmeyer, one of the industry’s visionaries and a frequent contributor to Railway Age articles and conferences, offers this analysis: 'In my humble opinion, short-haul intermodal (250 to 700 miles) represents the only opportunity in the near future for railroads to increase their traffic. And they only need to capture just a small fraction of the total short-haul truck traffic to experience a substantial traffic gain.'"

“'Two things are needed to pull this off. The first is new roll-on, roll-off equipment . . . .  The designs for this equipment already exist, and the carbuilders now find themselves with plenty of excess production capacity.'"

“'The second thing the railroads need is a train control system to enable them to run short-haul intermodal trains on precise schedules. Fortunately, their PTC systems will be coming on line in the next year or so. GPS plus digital communications will provide the continuous real-time information to enable them to execute tightly scheduled operations, should they elect to do so.'"


Mass Extinction Underway

October 28, 2016

The Guardian: "The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends."

"The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame."

"The creatures being lost range from mountains to forests to rivers and the seas and include well-known endangered species such as elephants and gorillas and lesser known creatures such as vultures and salamanders."

"The collapse of wildlife is, with climate change, the most striking sign of the Anthropocene, a proposed new geological era in which humans dominate the planet. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report."

"Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF, said: 'The richness and diversity of life on Earth is fundamental to the complex life systems that underpin it. Life supports life itself and we are part of the same equation. Lose biodiversity and the natural world and the life support systems, as we know them today, will collapse.'”

"He said humanity was completely dependent on nature for clean air and water, food and materials, as well as inspiration and happiness."