"Energy and Global Warming News for April 14"
Severe water shortages in Australia have recently made headlines (see here and below), and now Time reports on the growing water crisis in the Western Hemisphere’s largest city. The story underscores water’s vitality to humanity””and all life””reminding us of our common vulnerability to water shortages. Imagine if 5 million New Yorkers woke up with no running water today. It’s not a pretty picture.
Time reporter Ioan Grillo largely misses the bigger story. Only once is climate change mentioned, when Mexico’s under director of the National Water Commission says:
This could be caused by climate change and deforestation. These are difficult factors to understand and predict.
It’s a safe bet to include climate change as a likely contributer — and, more important, to report that things are going to get much, much worse for Mexico on our current emissions path (see here). Had the reporter picked up the LA Times last week he would have read that these kinds of never-before-seen water shortages are happening elsewhere, marking the beginnings of a distinctly global phenomenon (see “Australia today offers horrific glimpse of U.S. Southwest, much of planet, post-2040, if we don’t slash emissions soon“). The Mexico story notes:
About five million people, or a quarter of the population of Mexico City’s urban sprawl, woke up Thursday with dry taps. The drought was caused by the biggest stoppage in the city’s main reservoir system in recent years to ration its depleting supplies. Government officials hope this and four other stoppages will keep water flowing until the summer rainy season fills the basins back up. But they warn that the Mexican capital needs to seriously overhaul its water system to stop an unfathomable disaster in the future.
It is perhaps unsurprising that the biggest metropolis in the Western hemisphere is confronting problems with its water supply “” and becoming an alarming cautionary tale for other megacities. Scientists have been talking for years about how humans are pumping up too much water while ripping apart too many forests, and warning that the vital liquid could become the next commodity nations are fighting over with tanks and bombers. But it is hard for most people to appreciate quite how valuable a simple thing like water is “” until the taps turn off.
The DOE is increasing the lighting standards of the previous administration. Increases in lighting efficiency will save consumers billions, and reduce power demand by nearly 4 gigawatts between 2012 and 2042.
The Energy Department proposed lighting standards today that energy efficiency advocates say will pave the way for greater savings than a Bush administration proposal in January.
The proposal applies the new standards to fluorescent and incandescent lamps manufactured or imported in mid-2012.
The Obama administration rule estimates that the efficiency standards could save consumers and businesses almost $40 billion between 2012 and 2042 and eliminate the need for as much as 3,850 megawatts of power generating capacity by that date.
New York Times
[Eben Bayer] thought it might be possible to make insulation out of fungi using perlite – and in a class before he graduated in 2007, he proved right.
Now, the company he founded with classmate Gavin McIntyre “” Ecovative Design “” is angling to provide not just a mass-market, organic insulation material, but also a replacement for Styrofoam, the non-biodegradable, carbon-intense material widely used in packing and shipping.
Because Ecovative uses locally sourced raw materials and grows its products in the dark at room temperature, the company says they are less energy-intensive and cheaper to manufacture than Styrofoam.
As the economy sheds jobs, community colleges across the country are reporting a surge of unemployed workers enrolling in courses that offer training for ‘green-collar’ jobs.
Students are learning how to install solar panels, repair wind turbines, produce biofuels and do other work related to renewable energy.
‘I think the opportunities in this field are going to be huge,’ said Rudy Gastelo, a part-time handyman who left the construction industry two years ago. ‘I’m not getting that 9-to-5 paycheck, so I’m looking forward to maybe getting a job within a solar company.’
The Guardian (UK)
Almost nine out of 10 climate scientists do not believe political efforts to restrict global warming to 2C will succeed, a Guardian poll reveals today. An average rise of 4-5C by the end of this century is more likely, they say, given soaring carbon emissions and political constraints.
At a time when water supplies are scarce in many areas of the United States, scientists in Minnesota are reporting that production of bioethanol “” often regarded as the clean-burning energy source of the future “” may consume up to three times more water than previously thought.
Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten