Speeding Freight Train

December 07, 2018


New York Times: "Greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are growing at an accelerating pace this year, researchers said Wednesday, putting the world on track to face some of the most severe consequences of global warming sooner than expected."

"Scientists described the quickening rate of carbon dioxide emissions in stark terms, comparing it to a “speeding freight train” and laying part of the blame on an unexpected surge in the appetite for oil as people around the world not only buy more cars but also drive them farther than in the past — more than offsetting any gains from the spread of electric vehicles."

Fourth National Climate Assessment

November 24, 2018

Washington Post: "The federal government on Friday released a long-awaited report with an unmistakable message: The effects of climate change, including deadly wildfires, increasingly debilitating hurricanes and heat waves, are already battering the United States, and the danger of more such catastrophes is worsening."

New York Times: "But in direct language, the 1,656-page assessment lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, the report finds."

Wall Street Journal: "The impact of global climate change is being felt across the country and, unchecked, could cause U.S. economic losses totaling hundreds of billions of dollars a year by the end of the century, says a new U.S. government report released Friday."

Fourth National Climate Assessment

Twelve Years to Catastrophe

November 14, 2018


Homer Microgrid News & Insight: "One of the more sobering conclusions of the IPCC report is that we are likely to reach a global average temperature increase of 1.5 ºC between 2030 and 2052.  2030 is twelve years from now.  The implication is that we need to make radical changes, starting immediately, if we expect to stay below the critical 1.5 ºC threshold."



Rapid Increase in Large Wildfires

November 14, 2018



New York Times: "The town of Paradise was essentially wiped off the map, with more than 13,000 homes gone, more than 80 people killed, hundreds still missing, thousands homeless — the deadliest fire in state history." 

New York Times: "California’s fire record dates back to 1932; of the 10 largest fires since then, nine have occurred since 2000, five since 2010 and two this year alone, including the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest in state history."

Severe Climate Change Impacts by 2040

October 08, 2018

New York Times: "A landmark report from the United Nations’ Cover.jpgscientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has 'no documented historic precedent.'”

"The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population."

"The report was written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies."

IPCC Report

Most Americans Believe Environmental Laws Are Worth the Cost

October 07, 2018

Pew Research Center: "A majority of U.S. adults (59%) say stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost, compared with roughly a third (34%) who say such regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy."

Prepare for 10 Feet of Sea Level Rise on California Coast

October 02, 2018

Scientific American: "California coastal cities should be prepared for the possibility that oceans will rise more than 10 feet by 2100sea_cliff.jpg and submerge parts of beach towns, the state Coastal Commission warns in new draft guidance."

"The powerful agency, which oversees most development along 1,100 miles of coast, will consider approving the guidance this fall. A staff report recommending the changes was released last week."

"Earlier commission guidance put top sea-level rise at 6 feet by 2100. But according to the new report, there’s the 'potential for rapid ice loss to result in an extreme scenario of 10.2 feet of sea level rise' by the end of the century."

"Even without the 10-foot rise, the draft guidance cautions, as much as two-thirds of Southern California beaches 'may be completely lost due to rising sea level.'”

Driving Innovation in the Energy Sector

September 27, 2018

Sacramento Bee:  "'Creating an all-renewable grid 'is definitely feasible,' said Severin Borenstein, faculty director of the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley. 'The question is, how expensive is it going to be.'"

"Californians pay on average a total of 15.2 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, or about 50 percent above the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. On the other hand, Californians use roughly half as much electricity per capita as the average American, according to California Energy Commission data."

"Borenstein said the biggest obstacle to hitting 100 percent will be storage.  Natural gas-fired plants, which account for 33 percent of the state’s electricity, can be ramped up and down as demand fluctuates. But wind power can only be generated when it’s windy; solar power only works when it’s sunny. They can’t be stored up, and sometimes supply doesn’t conveniently sync up with demand."

"For instance, Borenstein said wind generation is most plentiful at night — when skies tend to be windier — but that’s when electricity consumption drops. Solar matches up better, but there are still times when demand is high but supply is scarce, such as early evening."

"That doesn’t mean going all-renewable will be impossible, though. Borenstein said California’s 'knowledge economy' is the perfect laboratory for investing and perfecting new technologies that could solve the problem."

"'We could get new technologies for storage that we haven’t even thought of yet,' he said. 'That’s exactly what California should be doing, and is good at.'"

"In that sense, he said the real benefit of SB 100 is as a spur to innovation. California barely accounts for 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases; by itself the state can’t make a real dent in global warming. But if the state can master the technological challenges of an all-renewable grid, it can show the way for other states and countries.

“'If it turns out we figure out ways to do this cost effectively, that is going to ripple out ... and move the rest of the world toward getting off fossil fuels,' Borenstein said."




Hydrogen Vehicles

August 20, 2018



Digital Trends:  “'I think Texas will come to fuel cell vehicles through a different route because they have so much wind power, which means they have excess,' Malone pointed out. 'I’m pretty sure they have excess capacity and they don’t know what to do with it. But one of the things you can do is split water to make hydrogen. In Texas, you can store that hydrogen in underground salt caverns. We’re not talking about kilowatts or gigawatts of power; we’re talking upwards of terawatts of power that can be stored. Hydrogen becomes the battery in many ways.'

"As of today, there are two fuel cell vehicles on sale in California. Both the Honda Clarity and the Toyota Mirai are enjoying sales success in areas where hydrogen infrastructure exists. Hyundai had a fuel cell Tucson SUV in 2017 and plans to return with the Nexo crossover in 2019.

“'BMW is coming to market,' Malone said. “'In about 2019, you have Mercedes-Benz with its plug-in fuel cell car. Audi is coming to market with a vehicle. It talked about a serious production run. Recently, you had Honda and GM announce a jointly owned subsidiary to build fuel cells in Michigan or Ohio. If you look at that announcement as I recall it, GM also talked about the fact that this is a power unit and reserved the right to use it for non-vehicular purposes or non-transportation purposes.'

"One planned showcase for hydrogen power is the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"'Tokyo is spending over $300 million to showcase this technology,' Malone said. 'We’re talking thousands of vehicles and hydrogen stations funded by Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. You will also have 100 buses and they’re going to power the athletes’ village using stationary fuel cells and hydrogen.'”

Widespread Record-Breaking Heat

August 17, 2018

Washington Post: "The headlines of record-crushing heat in the Northern Hemisphere began in June and haven’t stopped midway through August. Scores of locations on every continent north of the equator have witnessed their hottest weather in recorded history.

"The swelter has intensified raging wildfires in western North America, Scandinavia and Siberia, while leading to heat-related deaths in Japan and eastern Canada."