19 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for June 29: China likely to reject bid for GM’s Hummer; Projected food demands seen to outpace production
Here’s a follow up to “GM sells Hummer to China “” the second mistake by those clueless new owners?” Hmm. If this story pans out, maybe it’s a second chance for those clueless owners of GM to make the right call.
The Chinese government will likely reject the bid of a local company to acquire the Hummer division of General Motors, partially out of concern that the infamous gas-guzzler conflicts with the country’s environmental goals, China’s state radio reported.
Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery emerged as the surprise buyer for Hummer this month, conditional on the state’s approval. GM is seeking to sell the unit as part of its bankruptcy.
Chinese regulators will also say Tengzhong, which typically makes construction vehicles like cement mixers, lacks the expertise to run Hummer, state radio reported, citing no source.
Tengzhong, a private company, said it would invest in more fuel-efficient Hummers and keep the division based in the U.S. Hummers are known as “Han Ma,” or Bold Horse, in China.
The Chinese government has ramped up its conservation efforts, cutting sales taxes on small cars and encouraging automakers to develop electric and other alternatively fueled vehicles.
With the caloric needs of the planet expected to soar by 50 percent in the next 40 years, planning and investment in global agriculture will become critically important, according a new report released June 25.
The report, produced by Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s leading global investment banks, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, provides a framework for investing in sustainable agriculture against a backdrop of massive population growth and escalating demands for food, fiber and fuel….
By 2050, world population is expected to exceed 9 billion people, up from 6.5 billion today. Already, according to the report, a gap is emerging between agricultural production and demand, and the disconnect is expected to be amplified by climate change, increasing demand for biofuels, and a growing scarcity of water.
A first-ever analysis and comparison of the carbon footprints of different countries using a single, trade-linked model has been created by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the Centre of International Climate and Environment Research – Oslo (CICERO).
“We are trying to help come up with a better framework for mitigation actions, and to point out that we really need to take emissions from trade into account”, says Edgar Hertwich, professor of Energy and Process Engineering at NTNU, and director of the university’s Industrial Ecology Programme, who co-authored a paper about the analysis with Glen Peters, a senior scientist at CICERO. The online preprint of the publication in Environmental Science and Technology, a peer-reviewed publication from the American Chemical Society, was made available on June 15.
Making trade more free could lead to a rise in carbon dioxide emissions as a result of greater economic activity. But more trade could also help to staunch climate change by increasing the availability of climate-friendly technologies and products.
The report seemed aimed partly at defending continuing efforts by the W.T.O. to broker a long-awaited deal as part of the so-called Doha round of trade talks.
“Contrary to some claims, trade and trade opening can have a positive impact on emissions of greenhouse gases in a variety of ways including accelerating the transfer of clean technology and the opportunity for developing economies to adapt those technologies to local circumstances,” read a statement that accompanied the report.
Many environmental advocates have called the recent passage of a climate bill through the United States Congress a landmark achievement in the struggle to address climate change.
But too some Europeans, the United States still appears to be taking baby steps.
Andreas Carlgren, the Swedish minister for the environment, told journalists on Friday in Brussels that passage of the Waxman-Markey bill would be significant, but added that American emissions reduction targets still risked falling far short of what would be needed to reach a global deal at United Nations negotiations in December in Copenhagen.
Two-thirds of voters support the Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme in a finding that will do little to ease pressure on the Opposition to deal with the scheme in the Senate before the end of the year.
The latest Herald/Nielsen poll finds 65 per cent support the scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and 25 per cent oppose it.
Support for the scheme was virtually unchanged since the question was last polled a year ago, but opposition to it has risen by 10 percentage points as arguments against the scheme in the midst of an economic crisis have mounted.
Dow Chemical and Algenol Biofuels, a start-up company, are set to announce Monday that they will build a demonstration plant that, if successful, would use algae to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol as a vehicle fuel or an ingredient in plastics.
Because algae does not require any farmland or much space, many energy companies are trying to use it to make commercial quantities of hydrocarbons for fuel and chemicals. But harvesting the hydrocarbons has proved difficult so far.
The ethanol would be sold as fuel, the companies said, but Dow’s long-term interest is in using it as an ingredient for plastics, replacing natural gas. The process also produces oxygen, which could be used to burn coal in a power plant cleanly, said Paul Woods, chief executive of Algenol, which is based in Bonita Springs, Fla. The exhaust from such a plant would be mostly carbon dioxide, which could be reused to make more algae.
While President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal to reduce greenhouse gases has been the big topic of recent environmental debate, the White House has also been pushing a futuristic federal project to build a power plant that burns coal without any greenhouse gases. Sounds great, right? Except the idea is a rehash of a proposal that went bust the first time around.
General Motors Corp. has announced it drove the first preproduction model of its electric-powered Chevy Volt Tuesday — two weeks ahead of schedule.
The car is seen as the linchpin of GM’s effort to transform itself from a bankrupt automaker into a leader in the fuel-efficient auto market.
Early testing of the automobile will make it less prone to problems when it reaches the market, according to Aaron Bragman, an analyst for IHS Global Insight.
The technology needed to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide emitted by coal-fired power plants will be ready by 2015 and could be in wide use by 2020, according to Mike Morris, the CEO of American Electric Power.
American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest utilities, has learned much about the technology from its experimental works in West Virginia, he said. Three-fourths of the firm’s power is generated by coal.
“I’m convinced [carbon capture] will be primetime ready by 2015 and deployable,” Morris said at the Edison Electric Institute conference.
By now it ought to be clear that the U.S. must get off oil. We can no longer afford the dangers that our dependence on petroleum poses for our national security, our economic security or our environmental security. Yet civilization is not about to stop moving, and so we must invent a new way to power the world’s transportation fleet. Cellulosic biofuels””liquid fuels made from inedible parts of plants””offer the most environmentally attractive and technologically feasible near-term alternative to oil.
“¦But tropical cyclones aren’t the only storms that generate hurricane-force winds. Among others that do is a type of storm that dominates the weather in parts of the United States and other non-tropical regions every fall, winter and into spring: extratropical cyclones….
Take the “Hanukkah Eve” extratropical cyclone of Dec. 14-15, 2006, for example. That storm viciously raked the U.S. Pacific Northwest and British Columbia with torrential rainfall and hurricane-force winds exceeding 87 knots (100 miles per hour) in spots. Dozens of people were injured and 18 people lost their lives, while thousands of trees were downed, power was knocked out for more than 1.5 million residents and structural damage topped $350 million….
NOAA defines an extratropical cyclone as “a storm system that primarily gets its energy from the horizontal temperature contrasts that exist in the atmosphere.” These low pressure systems have associated cold fronts, warm fronts and occluded fronts. Tropical cyclones, in contrast, don’t usually vary much in temperature at Earth’s surface, and their winds are generated by the energy released as clouds and rain form in warm, moist, tropical air. While a tropical cyclone’s strongest winds are near Earth’s surface, the strongest winds in extratropical cyclones are about 12 kilometers (8 miles) up, in the tropopause. Tropical cyclones can become extratropical, and vice versa.
Extratropical cyclones occur in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific year-round. Those with hurricane-force winds have been observed from September through May. Their frequency typically begins to increase in October, peaks in December and January, and tapers off sharply after March. They can range from less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) in diameter to more than 4,000 kilometers (nearly 2,500 miles) across. They typically last about five days, but their hurricane-force winds are usually short-lived–just 24 hours or less. Because they can intensify rapidly, they’re often referred to as meteorological “bombs.” Wind speeds in extratropical cyclones can vary from just 10 or 20 knots (12 to 23 miles per hour) to hurricane-force (greater than 63 knots, or 74 miles per hour). During their development, they can trek along at more than 30 knots (35 miles per hour), but they slow down as they mature. At their seasonal peak, up to eight such storms of varying intensity have been observed at once in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific.
Mombasa is known all over the world as a city of sun-kissed beaches and luxurious hotels packed with tourists having the time of their lives.
But in just 20 years, this world-renowned tourist haven may become an island of misery in which vast stretches of land are submerged in sea.
Salinity will make the water unfit for human consumption, it is feared, and local agriculture will collapse due to excess salts in the soil.
Just as people use the sun to generate power for their homes, many homeowners capture rainfall for a variety of uses “” from washing dishes to watering gardens during dry spells. But rainwater harvesting, as it is known, can be quite controversial “” and in some Western states it is akin to theft.
Opponents of the practice argue that if rain or snowfall is captured, less water will flow to streams and aquifers where it is needed for wells and springs. If enough people hijack precipitation, the thinking goes, it would be cheating downstream users who are legally entitled to the water.