Energy and Global Warming News for August 11th: China surpasses U.S. in energy usage; Top U.S. green power cities; Free solar panels to 2.5 million UK homes

IEA: China overtakes the United States as world’s largest energy user

Preliminary data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that China has become the largest energy consumer in the world, having overtaken the United States in the top spot. An IEA chart shows China using roughly 2.25 billion tons of oil last year, while the United States used roughly 2.2 billion tons of oil in 2009. China rose to its top ranking faster than expected because the country was much less affected by the global financial crisis than the United States. The IEA notes that China’s energy use would be even higher today had the government not made significant progress in reducing the energy intensity of the nation’s economy, that is, the amount of energy used per unit of output. China has also become one of the world’s leaders in renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy, and is planning a major expansion of its nuclear power industry.

The IEA notes that China has experienced “phenomenal” growth in energy demand in recent years, doubling its energy use since 2000. But despite this rapid growth in demand, China’s energy consumption on a per capita basis is still only approximately one-third of the average among industrialized countries. Considering this low per-capita energy consumption and China’s rank as the most populous nation on the planet, the IEA concludes, “prospects for further growth are very strong.” The IEA will further explore these trends in its World Energy Outlook 2010, due to be published on November 3. See the IEA press release and the accompanying chart.

Free Solar Panels to 2.5 Million UK Households

HomeSun, a British solar company, has announced that it will spend £1 billion (US$1.6 billion) on a free solar panel giveaway to British households. The method behind HomeSun’s billion-dollar madness is to promote home solar power in the UK. The free installations will be spread out over the next three years and will add solar energy to an estimated 2.5 million homes.

HomeSun plans to recoup its massive investment through earnings from government feed-in tariffs to promote solar power installation. Any excess energy produced by the free-paneled homes will be collected by HomeSun and sold back to the national grid at a premium.

Daniel Green, head of HomeSun, aims to boost renewable energy production in Britain while helping the European Union meet its carbon reduction goals on schedule. He pointed out that Germany already produces half of the world’s solar energy, but the UK has yet to show much progress in the field. He wants HomeSun, “the free power company,” to catapult Britain onto the global solar power front.

California school set to become first grid-positive U.S. college

It’s back to school, and back to solar for Butte College, a 21,000-student community college in Northern California, which recently announced its intent to become the first U.S. “grid-positive” college. Administrators plan to produce more electricity by solar power than the school consumes by adding approximately 15,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels by May 2011. The new arrays will generate 2.7 megawatts (MW) of power””which when combined with the 1.85 MW already produced from 10,000 existing campus solar panels””will make Butte the largest solar-producing college in the world, the college said.

The system approved by the schools’ Board of Trustees will allow Butte to generate more than 6.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, which is enough to power more than 9,200 households. The school introduced PV to campus in 2005 and added to that over the years. Under the latest expansion, new solar panels will be installed on rooftops, on covered parking and walkways, and in ground arrays. The $17 million project will use $12.65 million in federal clean renewable energy bonds and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocations for the bulk of the cost. The remainder, up to $4.35 million, will be funded by college, which expects a $1 million rebate from PG&E, their utility provider, and the California Solar Initiative. See the Butte College press release.

Recycling land for green energy ideas

LEMOORE, Calif. “” Thousands of acres of farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley have been removed from agricultural production, largely because the once fertile land is contaminated by salt buildup from years of irrigation.

But large swaths of those dry fields could have a valuable new use in their future “” making electricity.

Farmers and officials at Westlands Water District, a public agency that supplies water to farms in the valley, have agreed to provide land for what would be one of the world’s largest solar energy complexes, to be built on 30,000 acres.

At peak output, the proposed Westlands Solar Park would generate as much electricity as several big nuclear power plants.

Unlike some renewable energy projects blocked by objections that they would despoil the landscape, this one has the support of environmentalists.

The San Joaquin initiative is in the vanguard of a new approach to locating renewable energy projects: putting them on polluted or previously used land. The Westlands project has won the backing of groups that have opposed building big solar projects in the Mojave Desert and have fought Westlands for decades over the district’s water use. Landowners and regulators are on board, too.

“It’s about as perfect a place as you’re going to find in the state of California for a solar project like this,” said Carl Zichella, who until late July was the Sierra Club‘s Western renewable programs director. “There’s virtually zero wildlife impact here because the land has been farmed continuously for such a long time and you have proximity to transmission, infrastructure and markets.”

British government looks to private sector on energy efficiency

Having major corporations advising government isn’t anything new”¦ but in the UK they have begun a refreshing approach. Instead of having major oil companies and other big polluters working hard to water down any legislation aimed at controlling the damage caused by their operations, the UK is taking a different tack and having some of their most prominent corporations become forces for good.

David Cameron’s government took the decisive step of announcing the goal of a 10% cut in carbon in its first year in power, just days after being elected. Now Cameron has taken another firm step down the road to being the “greenest government ever” and has asked for help from some major players. Tesco, Marks & Spencer, and B&Q owners Kingfisher and HSBC will all be providing advice to the government on how exactly it can achieve this 10% target.

To some, this may seem surprising. How can a supermarket chain, a department store, a home supply store chain and a financial services company be expected to give the UK sound green advice? Simple. They are far ahead of the game and have already become quite green themselves. Super energy saving heroes, if you will.

Take Tesco as an example. In 2007, they were already concerned about the energy efficiency of their stores. In fact, they were so concerned that they had already completed a two-year roll-out of Smartcool technology to 500 Tesco Express stores in order to reduce the energy used by their refrigeration systems. This one measure cut refrigeration energy use by 22%, saving the company thousands of pounds of cash and carbon emissions.

So that’s pretty neat- using the lessons already learned by big business to help government get greener. But perhaps the most impressive part is that they are managing to do this in a coalition government. Aiming for a 10% cut in carbon emissions in a single year sure sounds like green, liberal policy. One which should have Conservatives at the very least worried, if not frothing at the mouth in opposition.

Research: Green data centers on pace for rapid growth

For those of you who consider the green data center movement a fad, there is a new report out from Pike Research that suggests investment in greener facilities will grow rapidly over the next five years. In fact, Pike predicts that so-called green data centers “” with a focus on energy efficiency and environmental design sensitivities “” will generate $41.4 billion in revenue by 2015, representing close to 30 percent of the total data center market.

Three hallmarks of these facilities will be energy efficiency, virtual technology infrastructure and adaptability, meaning that these data centers can respond dynamically to new business needs, new processes and services, and technology innovation. (What’s green in 2015 might necessarily be green in 2016, after all.) Cooling and power infrastructure will represent about 46 of the revenue associated with green data centers over the next five years, followed by investments in more efficient IT equipment, with about 41 percent of the revenue.

In a press release about the report, Pike analyst Eric Woods writes: “Cost of energy has seldom been a concern for IT departments in the past, and there was little incentive to invest in energy efficiency improvements. But as data center energy costs become more visible, the financial benefits of moving to a greener mode of operation are being recognized by CEOs, CFOs and CIOs.”

For me, the Pike research is validated by the fact that I’m receiving a growing number of pitches from data center operators, such as Stream Data Center (which I wrote about yesterday) that are investing substantially behind the idea that their data center site or co-location facility is greener than the alternative. And that customers will be interested in that.

While for a brief period of time you might see some of these data center operators charging a premium for those services, I think you are more likely to see them use the “green” messaging as deal closers and strategic differentiators with companies that use corporate sustainability issues as a divining rod when making procurement decisions.

22 top cities for green power

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has named 22 cities of varying sizes to its 2010 Smarter Cities list for green power. And now I’m wondering why I ever moved away from Santa Cruz, Calif., which is one of the smaller cities on this latest ranking.

Here’s the NRDC’s list, chunked up by size:

Large (population more than 250,000)

Columbus, Ohio
El Paso, Texas
Long Beach, Calif.
New York
Oakland, Calif.
San Francisco

Medium (population between 100,00 and 249,999)

Berkeley, Calif.
Fort Collins, Colo.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Reno, Nevada
Santa Clarita, Calif.
Springfield, Ill.

Small (population less than 100,000)

Beaverton, Ore.
Denton, Texas
Dubuque, Iowa
Santa Cruz, Calif.

The NRDC said it used green energy as the criteria for this list because half of all the energy in the United States is still produced by coal, a dependence it would like the nation to wean itself off of, for various environmental and health reasons. Factors for list selection included aggregate kilowatt-hour power consumption, the top three fuel sources for a particular city, whether it had completed a greenhouse gas inventory, and what energy conservation programs are in place locally. Transportation was deliberately excluded from the inventory. An evaluation of this metric is planned for fall 2010.

Cities with populations of more than 50,000 were consulted for the planned list. In all, about 655 cities were contacted. NRDC also reached out specifically to the appropriate cities on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Communities list.

2009 a Year of growth, challenge for U.S. wind power: Report

The U.S. wind power industry had a record-setting year in 2009, adding 10 gigawatts of new capacity and securing $21 billion in investments, a new DOE report shows. The cumulative wind power capacity grew 40% despite the economic turmoil throughout the year, according to the “2009 Wind Technologies Market Report,” which was released on August 4. The analysis, from DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), showed that for the fifth consecutive year, wind was second only to natural gas in adding new electrical capacity to the U.S. grid. Still, a sharp drop in wholesale electricity prices (due in part to lower natural gas prices) pressured the wind energy industry bottom line in 2009 and indicated challenges on the horizon.

Gains in wind power capacity figured prominently in the DOE report’s key findings. Utility-scale wind power grew at a pace 20% higher in 2009 than in the previous record year of 2008, driven in part by support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the carryover of projects planned for completion in 2008. Wind power supplied 39% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity, which was down from the 44% in the previous year but remained the second-largest new resource for the grid behind natural gas. The United States held the lead in total global wind power capacity but was passed in total annual additions in 2009 by China, which reached the top spot by recording 36% of the world’s market share in 2009 while the U.S. recorded roughly 26%. Domestically, Texas added 2,292 megawatts (MW) of wind power, easily outpacing the next highest states””Indiana with 905 MW and Iowa with 879 MW””as well as the 26 other states that brought new large-scale wind turbines online last year.

Conditions in the 2009 wind power market suggested some future uncertainties, according to the LBNL report. For example, the LBNL authors noted that going forward, natural gas prices may not rebound to earlier levels as the economy recovers, putting the near-term comparative economic position of wind energy at some risk. Further, the installed cost of wind power projects continued to rise. Among a large sample of wind power projects installed in 2009, reported installed costs had a capacity-weighted average of $2,120 per kilowatt, which marked a 9% average increase from the weighted-average cost of $1,950 per kilowatt for projects installed in 2008. The report concludes that while there are expectations that those costs will eventually decline, the costs may remain high, on average, as developers work through the dwindling backlog of turbines purchased at peak prices in early 2008. Although the DOE report showed strong wind power growth in 2009, a mid-year update from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), released on July 27, found that wind industry growth slowed in the first half of 2010. See the 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report (PDF 3 MB) and the AWEA Q2 report (PDF 541 KB).

San Francisco Bay area gets $5 million for electric vehicle charging stations

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in San Francisco on August 5 approved $5 million in funding for further development of a regional electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure program in the Bay Area. The stations and home chargers are part of the BAAQMD’s “Spare the Air” program, designed to make owning EVs viable in the Bay Area.

The program will leverage the funds to support EV charging infrastructure grants that cover 3,000 home chargers at single family and multi-family dwellings. The grants also will supply 2,000 public chargers at employer and high-density parking areas as well as 50 fast chargers near highways. According to the BAAQMD, which covers nine counties, transportation accounts for more than half the air pollution in the region. See the (BAAQMD press release) and the BAAQMD Web site.

U.S. Vietnam nuclear talks focus on enrichment

Nonproliferation objectives get attention from Congress and China

The Wall Street Journal reports Aug 3 that US talks with Vietnam about its plans to build nuclear reactors has “unsettled” key members of Congress. The Hindu, one of India’s largest newspapers, reports Aug 9 that China is annoyed by reports Vietnam might develop uranium enrichment capabilities with U.S. technology.

The WSJ report leads with news that the Obama administration is “in advanced negotiations to share nuclear fuel and technology . . . that would allow Hanoi to enrich its own uranium.”

It didn’t take long for a reaction in Congress. On Aug 6 the WSJ reports that Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the negotiations are an example of a double standard when compared to the “hard line position” the US took in its 1-2-3 agreement with the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE promised not to develop its own uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing capabilities in return for the right to import U.S. commercial nuclear energy technologies and components. So far the arrangement hasn’t done much for U.S. nuclear firms as last December the UAE awarded a $20 billion contract to South Korea to build four 1,400 MW reactors.

Robbing Renewable Energy to Pay Teachers

This afternoon, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi called them back from their six-week summer break, members of the House of Representatives passed an emergency $26 billion spending bill to prevent the layoff of 300,000 teachers, police and other civil servants from layoffs due to state cutbacks. The bill passed along a nearly party-line vote“”Democrats hailed it as the only way to keep thousands of teachers in the classrooms as students prepared to return to school, while Republicans derided the legislation as yet another fiscally irresponsible government bailout. To wit:

“Where do the bailouts end?” asked Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio. “Are we going to bail out states next year and the year after that, too? At some point we’ve got to say, ‘Enough is enough.'”

And on the other side of the aisle:

“We can’t stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe,” said President Obama during remarks in the Rose Garden ahead of the vote.

So, yet another example of how politically divided Washington is, how strapped our state finances are””and perhaps how essentially ungovernable we’ve become. Not something that would usually involve Ecocentric””I try to avoid any stories that contain the word “Medicaid.” But in order to provide some of the funds needed to pay for that $26 billion package, the House voted to transfer $1.5 billion from the renewable-energy and loan-guarantee program used to support solar, wind and other alternative energy companies. Along with another reduction earlier this year, that leaves the program’s size at about $25 billion””less than half what Democrats in Congress had originally planned. (Unsurprisingly, the Senate has already passed a similar measure.)

97 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for August 11th: China surpasses U.S. in energy usage; Top U.S. green power cities; Free solar panels to 2.5 million UK homes

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    China Pulls the Plug on 2,000 Factories

    Venture capitalists in the US may swear at government regulations, but Congress’s tightening measures are child’s play compared to the lengths China’s willing to go to implement public policy. In an effort to meet energy efficiency goals, China’s government this week ordered more than 2,000 factories across 18 industries to close or face being barred from obtaining bank loans, exporting credits, having business licenses and land.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    As Fires Continue to Burn,
    Carbon Monoxide Levels Soar Over Russia
    This NASA satellite image, compiled using sensors that measure pollution in the troposphere, shows that carbon monoxide levels have reached high levels in Western Russia as forests and peat bogs have burned during the nation’s worst heat wave in history.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    WHO list reveals pandemic flu advisors with industry ties
    Five of the 15 experts that advised the World Health Organisation about swine flu pandemic alerts had received support from the drugs industry, including for flu vaccine research, the WHO revealed on Wednesday.

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Chemicals in water supply near Chicago linked to cancer

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    Norway has set Europe an eco example

    The rest of Europe should take note of Norway’s ecological mindset and investment in environmentally friendly technologies

    In December 2009, Oslo received the distinction of the third greenest city in Europe (after Copenhagen and Stockholm). Always aware of the wealth of their fisheries, water and fossil fuels, the Norwegians were among the first Europeans to feel concerned by the protection of the environment. Beyond the postcards of mountains plunging into the sea, fjords and spectacular northern lights stands a modern country that strives to protect its natural heritage.

    To achieve its goal of becoming CO2 neutral by 2030, Norway bets on sustainable development and environmental laws (the last one being that buildings over 500m2 must cover 60% of their using renewable sources). Revenues generated by the carbon tax ($50 per ton) can finance some innovative technologies such as carbon dioxide capture and storage, and promote renewable energy such as osmotic energy.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    Norway opens world’s first osmotic power plant Nov 24, 2009

    Norway opened on Tuesday the world’s first osmotic power plant, which produces emissions-free electricity by mixing fresh water and sea water through a special membrane.

    The plant is driven by osmosis that naturally draws fresh water across a membrane and toward the seawater side. This creates higher pressure on the sea water side, driving a turbine and producing electricity.

    “While salt might not save the world alone, we believe osmotic power will be an interesting part of the renewable energy mix of the future,”

  7. Bob Wallace says:

    “But despite this rapid growth in demand, China’s energy consumption on a per capita basis is still only approximately one-third of the average among industrialized countries.”

    I’d like to know how China is doing in terms of amount of greenhouse gas released per unit electricity produced compared to other industrialized countries.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t doing better than most of us….

  8. Where I live there are many abandoned buildings that have blighted the landscape. Some have been there for decades. Seems to me they could tear them down and offer the land for community gardens until the owner finds a business that wants the site.

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    Disturbing Oil Sticking Around in the Gulf (Photos & Video)

  10. Prokaryotes says:

    Fracking water quality concerns
    The extraction of natural gas from deep shale formation requires the use of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’, which involves injecting water and chemicals to rupture deep shale. A predicted boom in Michigan has raised public concerns about water supply, use and contamination.

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    India Oil Spill: Coast Guard Tries To Contain Leak From Ship Collision (PHOTOS)

  12. Prokaryotes says:

    Plastics and Detergents May Contribute to Lobster Die-Offs

    A lobster with shell disease
    Waterborne chemicals leached from plastics and detergents, including bisphenol A (BPA), may have contributed to significant lobster die-offs in the waters of Long Island Sound over the last decade, researchers say.

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    The Justice Department continues to impose stifling restrictions on independent scientists seeking to study the catastrophic effects of Gulf spill, according to one scientist.

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    *** Greenland ice sheet faces ‘tipping point in 10 years’ ***

    Scientists warn that temperature rise of between 2C and 7C would cause ice to melt, resulting in 23ft rise in sea level

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    U.S. Energy Department Faces Lawsuit over ‘Secret’ Nuclear Loan Program
    Environmental group accuses government of ‘astonishing level of censorship’ in its $8.3 billion Georgia nuclear loan deal

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    Study: Solar Power Officially Cheaper Than Nuclear in North Carolina
    Aided by subsidies, some utilities are purchasing commercial-scale solar for up to 30% less than nuclear, Duke University researchers say

  17. Prokaryotes says:

    New Maps Reveal Massive Forest Loss from Mountaintop Coal Mining
    For the first time, users can view the geographic extent of mountaintop removal operations in Appalachia

    Following the philosophy of the coal barons …
    Why not nuke the entire sight? After the dust settles you will find some workers willing for cheap money to dig up the coal around the sight.

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    Forbes: America’s Energy Future May Lie In Canada’s Oil Sands

  19. Prokaryotes says:

    Deutsche Bank spurns U.S. for climate investment

    Alternative energy investment prospects have shriveled in the United States after the U.S. Senate was unable to break a deadlock over tackling global warming, a Deutsche Bank official said.

    “You just throw your hands up and say … we’re going to take our money elsewhere,” said Kevin Parker in an interview with Reuters.

    Parker, who is global head of the Frankfurt-based bank’s Deutsche Asset Management Division, oversees nearly $700 billion in funds that devote $6 billion to $7 billion to climate change products.

    Amid so much political uncertainty in the United States, Parker said Deutsche Bank will focus its “green” investment dollars more and more on opportunities in China and Western Europe, where it sees governments providing a more positive environment.

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    BP delays Libyan offshore drilling

    BP has run into opposition to its plans for drilling in both the Gulf of Sirte and off Scotland’s Shetland Islands after the Gulf of Mexico spill.

    Both fields could prove lucrative for the scores of companies, including BP, with drilling rights and will likely provide crucial new global gas and oil reserves as supplies of less risky land and shallow-water reserves decline.

    But there is concern about the haste in proceeding before a full investigation into what caused the most serious environmental disaster in U.S. waters, particularly given questions about whether Mediterranean states are equipped to deal with a spill of such a magnitude.

    The libyan drill would be deeper than the Gulf well. 5600 or something.

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    Leaders % Losers
    The Green Gauge: Black mark on Enbridge

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    Jellyfish Sting MORE People In Spain
    A massive amount of small, nearly transparent jellyfish have stung over 700 people since Sunday across Spain, according to the Associated Press.

    Most of the attacks have been on the Costa Blanca, where officials claim warmer waters are to blame. 380 people were stung in one day in the area.

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    Follow the (Dirty Energy) Money

    … the senators who voted in favor of a measure to take away the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate planet-warming gases in June “took on average two and a half times as much Dirty Energy Money as those who voted against it.”

  24. Prokaryotes Smith says:

    Prokaryotes is english for obssessive compulsive disorders.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Global Warming and Heat Waves

    More extremely hot summer days are projected for every part of the country, and 30 large cities are especially vulnerable, detailed in a new report from the National Wildlife Federation and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

    “Global warming is bringing more frequent and severe heat waves and the result will be serious for vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist, National Wildlife Federation.

    “That means air pollution in urban areas could get worse, bringing increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks. Children, the elderly, poor, and people of color are especially vulnerable to these effects.”

    Extreme Heat in Summer 2010: A Window on the Future

    Many Americans in the eastern and southern United States have been sweltering during Summer 2010. As global temperature records have been set for the early summer months, states and cities are also setting numerous temperature records. Unfortunately, climate models indicate that an average summer in 2050 will have even more days topping 90°F if global warming continues unabated. This supplement to National Wildlife Federation’s 2009 report More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call examines just how hot Summer 2010 is shaping up to be and the implications for air pollution, health, and the economy.

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Michigan is First to Air Special EV Power Rates — $40/Vehicle Per Month

  27. Doug Bostrom says:

    Not to get all monomaniacal or anything, but by any chance is the UK going to be intelligent about solar power and pick the low-hanging fruit first?

    Sorry, that’s a rhetorical question. Here’s the real question: why is the UK going to equip 2.5 million homes w/PV panels prior to exploiting domestic hot water offsets thereby getting something like 5 times the effective energy capture for 1/5th of the cost of the PV proposal? How exactly does that make sense?

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Oil spill has created huge mess on beaches
    An alarming level of oil has been found in sand on these beaches following the spill caused by the collision of two merchant vessels off the Mumbai coast on August 7.

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    Texas Sues BP…But Not over Oil Spill

    BP is being sued by the state of Texas for excess pollution that has nothing to do with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In April and May, while all eyes were on the broken well that released millions of gallons of oil into the ocean, BP’s Texas City refinery released 538,000 pounds of pollutants into the atmosphere, including 17,000 pounds of the carcinogen benzene.

  30. Sasparilla says:

    #28 Nice post Prokaryotes. The article talks about a website so you can see how tied up in fossil fuel contributions your politicians in Washington are.

    The site the Mother Jones article is referring to is actually this one:

    Go there, enter your zip code and it will pull up your Washington politicians and all the fossil fuel contributions they have received – simple, easy, frightening. No wonder the Democrats gave up without actually trying on the climate change bill.

    Its actually quite amazing, I would not have expected my congressman to be so washed over in contributions from so many fossil fuel interests – and we don’t even have major fossil fuel industry or deposits in my district, but there’s Exxon, Sunoco, Koch (of course)…unbelievable.

    Thanks Prokaryotes.

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    ExxonMobil resumes oil shipments after Nigeria spill

    “ExxonMobil needs to show more caution in terms of the management of oil spills,” Odey had told reporters after the meeting.

    “We are concerned about the operation of ExxonMobil because once it is offshore, any spillage will, of course, affect the shorelines and it could go far beyond the area of operation,” he added.

    ExxonMobil is Nigeria’s major oil operators, often accused by militant groups and rights campaigners of causing environmental degradation and destruction of the local communities’ ecosystem.

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    EcoAlert: Massive New Greenland Iceberg Drifting Toward Canada -Could Threaten Ships, Oil Platforms

    The Canadian government’s top ice experts have begun planning how to deal with the massive iceberg that broke off a Greenland glacier last week … NASA, the European Space Agency and a host of academic institutions are already helping Canadian officials monitor and analyze the mammoth object, the biggest free-floating mass of ice in the Arctic Ocean in 50 years.

    Icebergs calved from Greenland’s glaciers and floating ice shelves typically follow that Canadian route south, as did the huge one that struck and sank the Titanic in 1912.

    I wonder how much DDT and other contamination is in this chunk of ice.

  33. fj2 says:

    To all the staff and J Romm, thanks folks for the Global Warming News.

  34. fj2 says:

    . . . and Prokaryotes also!

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    NOAA Scientists Uncover Oscillating Patterns in Clouds
    Finding has implications for climate change

    NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., shows for the first time that interactions between certain types of neighboring clouds can result in synchronized rain patterns within a large cloud system.

    “Clouds organize in distinct patterns that are fingerprints of myriad physical processes,” Feingold explained. “Precipitation can generate fascinating honeycomb-like patterns that are clearly visible from satellites. Cloud fields organize in such a way that their components ‘communicate’ with one another and produce regular, periodic rainfall events.”

    While the discovery of synchronized behavior in clouds is one of many recent findings on self-organization in nature, the study also examines how suspended particles, or aerosols, in the atmosphere can influence these patterns and be a factor in climate change.

  36. Prokaryotes says:


    We can solve the problems related to energy and our climate. And we can do so in a way that will be affordable, stable and meet our country’s needs, enhance our national security and protect our climate.

    We need policies that will:

    Get the most out the energy we already produce
    Rapidly deploy the proven clean energy technologies
    Promote research and development of more advanced technologies
    Create a new smart, integrated grid to deliver power economically from wherever it is

    Sounds like fun and a lot of jobs.

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    Texas petrochemical emissions down, but still underestimated, says study
    A thick blanket of yellow haze hovering over Houston as a result of chemical pollution produced by manufacturing petroleum products may be getting a little bit thinner, according to a new study.

    The problem is that industry still significantly underestimates the amounts of reactive chemicals being released into the air, according to airplane measurements made by the research team as part of the study. Inaccuracies in the reporting of emissions pose big challenges for the reduction and regulation of emissions coming from petrochemical plants. The emissions are important to monitor, because some chemicals released from the plants react to form ground-level ozone that can be harmful to human health and agricultural crops.

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    The BP Cover-Up
    BP and the government say the spill is fast disappearing—but dramatic new science reveals that its worst effects may be yet to come.

  39. Prokaryotes says:

    The Story of Bottled Water

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    Coal of Africa said on Wednesday it had halted some construction activities at its Vele Colliery in South Africa after a government order which said they contravened environmental laws, sending its shares down.

    Several environmental groups had appealed to South Africa’s mining ministry against granting of a new mining right for the Vele Colliery on concerns that it might increase pollution at Mapungubwe, a World Heritage Site, located near the Kruger National Park, the country’s premier national wildlife park.

  41. Prokaryotes says:

    Tips for Growing Fruit Trees in Containers
    Oranges, apples, limes, blueberries, bananas, and pomegranates are among the most popular choices for growing fruit trees in containers. Then there are my personal favorite potted fruits; fig trees, which are easy to grow, productive, and hardy in many areas. Read on for general cultivation tips and ideas specific to growing fruit trees in containers.

    Tips to consider when preparing a climate change shelter.

  42. Prokaryotes says:

    Genetically Modified Organisms Found in the Wild

    For the first time in the United States, populations of genetically modified organisms were found to be growing in the wild in North Dakota – along roadsides, in ballparks and cemeteries- and in some cases, have been cross-pollinating to create new plants that are resistant to several strains of herbicides.

    Moreover, in at least two of these plants, the cross-pollination had created pesticide-resistant strains, resulting in canola plants that are resistant to both LibertyLink and Roundup Ready, two of the most popular commercial pesticides used today.

    It also highlights the lack of proper monitoring and regulation of genetically modified crops in the United States, a stark contrast to Europe where GMO’s are strictly controlled, labeled and often banned.

  43. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Prokaryotes –

    following the REDD plan being reduced to mere circus, its quite amusing to see this :

    Ecuador to World: Pay Us $3.5 Billion to Not Drill Oil 2010/ 08/ ecuador-to-world-pay-us-3-5-billion-to-not-drill-oil/

    a fresh version of: “Gibus da munny or da renforess getsit!” ?

    As a gesture, maybe a few takers – as a precedent, very few takers.



  44. Prokaryotes says:

    France digs deep for nuclear waste

    Geological storage of long-lived radioactive material is moving closer to reality in Europe

    A more worrying problem is the possibility of a rock fracture, which could lead to radioactive leaks. But the research at Bure has largely confirmed that the layer of rock that would house the repository is homogenous, highly impermeable to water movement and free from faults and seismic risk.

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    *** Yes, Biochar Really Might Be That Magical ***

    The basic idea is easy enough to follow. Plants, as every eighth-grader knows, absorb carbon-dioxide as they grow and then release it back into the air when they die and decompose. All part of the natural carbon cycle. But what if there was a way to block that second part? As it turns out, if dead plants are burned in a controlled, low-oxygen atmosphere—a process known as pyrolysis—you get charcoal, which holds its carbon in a stable state for thousands of years. And this doesn’t take any advanced technology, since the stoves are pretty easy to make.

    But it gets better. When you mix biochar in with certain soils, the soils can end up releasing less methane and nitrous oxide—two potent greenhouse gases—than they otherwise would. What’s more, infusing select types of soil with biochar can make the soil more fertile and cause crops to grow faster, since the charcoal seems to prevent nutrient leaching and increase water retention. (In the Amazon, much of the soil on the forest floor is poor quality except for patches of “terra preta”—black soil that appears to have been deliberately mixed with charcoal centuries ago.)

  46. Prokaryotes says:

    The Worst Ethics Scandal on Capitol Hill?
    Donald Brown, the ethics professor at Pennsylvania State University who runs the ever-interesting Climate Ethics blog, has posted a provocative piece positing that the recent flurry of ethics investigations in Congress has missed the biggest lapse — failure to put responsibility ahead of politics and meaningfully address global warming.

  47. Prokaryotes says:

    The U.S. power sector: where the power plants are, when they were built, what they pollute
    I have been fitfully trying over the last month or two to get my head around where things stand with the U.S. power sector, which is responsible for around 40 percent of U.S. energy use and around 40 percent of the country’s climate pollution.

    There are immense changes afoot, even without the passage of a climate bill. In fact, the biggest short-term drivers of change have nothing to do with greenhouse gases. I get the sense that the power sector and the changes bearing down on it are not well understood by a wide audience, despite their enormous environmental and economic consequences. So let’s take a look! I’ll be digging into the subject in a series of posts over the coming weeks.

  48. Prokaryotes says:

    Lewis Cleverdon, #42

    Why not try a diplomatic approach here? Give them clean technology and let them in turn adopt biochar practice. That requires a big change of politics, because so far the biggest export is crude oil from equador.

  49. Prokaryotes says:

    High price on carbon only way forward, says economist

    THE US and European economies are heading into a long period of weak growth and corrosive unemployment – and imposing a high price on carbon is the best way to resolve the funk, a visiting Nobel prize-winning economist says.

    Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at New York’s Columbia University, said the spending cuts and budget restraints increasingly being imposed by western governments were likely to prolong the economic stagnation triggered by the financial crisis.

    Inflation Alert – Action required.

  50. Prokaryotes says:

    BREAKING News on the climate & Nrg Debate by Politico

    New national offshore drilling plan could drop today – Climate groups planning recess events to target swing senators – Chu announces Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

  51. Prokaryotes says:

    US: Kill CO2 by burying it

    How can we get kill off the carbon dioxide that’s spewing into the atmosphere thanks to fossil fuels? The US Department of Energy (DOE) wants to bury it deep underground … without having to worry about zombie emissions rising back up into the air.

    The department today announced 15 projects it will fund to help achieve that goal. It plans to throw $21.3 million at these carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects over the next three years.

    According to the agency’s Carbon Sequestration Atlas, the US and Canada have enough used oil and gas reservoirs, deep saline formations and other underground geological sites to store more than 3,500 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

    Just remember the energy it takes to transport the collected potential to the designated storage sight – make it zero emission (EV’s).

  52. Prokaryotes says:

    Oil washes ashore on Brazil beach (Video)

    GUIDANCE: This video contains some disturbing images.

    Oil has washed up on the shore of five beaches in Brazil, east of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

    It is not yet known where the oil has come from but it is already damaging wildlife and tourism in the area.

  53. Prokaryotes says:

    ACID TEST: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification

    This documentary explores the phenomenon of ocean acidification, which may challenge marine life on a scale not seen for tens of millions of years. The film, featuring Sigourney Weaver, aired on Discovery Planet Green throughout Blue August, a month devoted to programming about the wonders and mysteries of the oceans, and will also air throughout the month of October.

  54. Prokaryotes says:

    Missouri conservative group fights for Prop. 23

    Opponents working for the campaign against the ballot measure say the large donation amounts to money laundering.

  55. Prokaryotes says:

    Russian Heat, Asian Floods Share Common Cause

    Any way you look at them, the weather crises of 2010 are human disasters of historic proportion. Thousands of Russians are dying from heat, thousands of Asians are dying in flood. And it is worth keeping in mind that for many of the survivors, for whom the hardships of homelessness, hunger and illness have just begun, the search for “causes” of these events is basically beside the point.

    To get a real whopping debate going about the underlying causes of our manifestly changing climate, everybody has to be pretty well fed. In the shorter term, before our eyes, dynamical explanations of weather events will always be so complex and so naturally variable that they challenge our best thinking. If there is a harder science than meteorology — figuring out the atmosphere of Earth — I don’t know what it is.

    The Northern Hemisphere’s atmosphere is dominated this time of year by great cells of rising and falling air. These features are more intense than usual this year, and more stable.

  56. Prokaryotes says:

    Mental Health to Decline With Climate Change
    A rise in natural disasters will lead to more cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

  57. Prokaryotes says:

    Ice Island Calves off Petermann Glacier

    The Petermann Glacier in northwestern Greenland terminates in a floating ice tongue. Days before a massive ice chuck broke off the glacier, cracks were visible on the glacier surface. This high-resolution image of the Petermann Glacier was acquired on July 22, 2010. (This image has been rotated so north is at right.) The long, thin fracture extending from the eastern side of the glacier toward the middle of the ice tongue occurs where the ice chunk later detached and began to float out to sea.

  58. Prokaryotes says:

    Millions Of Barrels Of Oil Safely Reach Port In Major Environmental Catastrophe

  59. Prokaryotes says:

    In what may be the greatest environmental disaster in the nation’s history, the supertanker TI Oceania docked without incident at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port Monday and successfully unloaded 3.1 million barrels of dangerous crude oil into the United States.

  60. Prokaryotes says:

    Chemical Regulations and the Modern Mattress: The Stuff of Nightmares

    No one sets out to make toxic baby mattresses; it just evolved that way. As just one example, nearly all baby mattresses are covered with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make them waterproof. Because PVC is rigid, manufacturers mix in a class of chemicals called phthalates to soften the PVC. When added to PVC, phthalates don’t stay put; they leach into the air, making children more vulnerable to asthma, reproductive harm and cancer. One short-sighted decision leads to another and, before you know it, you’ve got a very unhealthy baby mattress.

    The good news is, Congress is considering legislation that requires chemical manufacturers to show that their products are safe before they end up in products. Called the Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate and the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act in the House, these proposals have the potential to improve Americans’ health and restore consumer trust in American businesses and products.

  61. Prokaryotes says:

    Unusually Intense Asian Monsoon Rains (Sat Image)

    The Asian Monsoon occurs because of the temperature difference between the Eurasian continent and the ocean.
    La Niña usually enhances the Asian Monsoon, and it may have been a factor in shaping the intense 2010 monsoon. In July 2010, La Niña conditions had developed. Ocean temperatures in the western Pacific were warmer than normal.
    Additional factors may also have influenced the 2010 monsoon rains. The northern Indian Ocean was also warmer than normal. In particular, waters off the coast of Pakistan

  62. Prokaryotes says:

    Lords distance themselves from climate sceptic Christopher Monckton

    House of Lords steps up efforts to make Christopher Monckton stop claiming he is a member of the upper house

  63. Prokaryotes says:

    Grid Could Meet Sudden Energy Demands By Storing Power As Liquid Oxygen

  64. Prokaryotes says:

    Economists see flaws in Whitman’s policy proposals
    An open letter from a group of progressive experts finds the Republican’s policies if implemented would deepen the budget crisis, raise unemployment and cut growth.

  65. Prokaryotes says:

    Pakistan floods surge as fresh rainfall triggers two more waves of water

    Minister says people face a ‘grave situation’ as further flows could halt embankment repairs

  66. Prokaryotes says:

    Pakistan’s worst ever flooding has already affected 14 million people, leaving 2 million homeless and an estimated 1,600 dead. News of the fresh surges came as the UN launched an emergency fundraising appeal for $459m (£290m), warning that survivors still face life-threatening conditions from disease and food shortages. The chief minister of Sindh province, Qaim Ali Shah, described the international aid pledged so far as “peanuts”.

    I would trade those nukes for food/water and clean tech.

  67. Doug Bostrom says:

    Prokaryotes says: August 11, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Lords distance themselves from climate sceptic Christopher Monckton

    No problem, no need for a spat, a replacement for His Lordship’s disputed emblem is ready to go.

  68. Bill Woods says:

    Bob Wallace (#9[!]):

    I’d like to know how China is doing in terms of amount of greenhouse gas released per unit electricity produced compared to other industrialized countries.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t doing better than most of us….

    Then you won’t be surprised.

    Electricity (Quadrillion BTUs) from Coal / Total (2007):

    World (F1): 84.5 / 194.1 = 0.44
    OECD (F2): 35.3 / 98.5 = 0.39
    USA (F3): 20.8 / 40.6 = 0.51
    PRC (F13): 27.7 / 33.7 = 0.82

    IEO 2010, via

  69. Prokaryotes says:

    Lol, Doug don’t know what this suppose to be, but it looks funny.

  70. Prokaryotes says:

    Connecting the Dots Between Russian heat wave and Asian floods

    The Economist sums up the relationship between climate change and the ongoing extreme events succinctly with these two sentences: “The two events [Russian heat wave and flooding in Pakistan] are linked by a large-scale pattern of atmospheric circulation which is producing a particularly persistent area of high pressure over Russia. They are also linked in both being the sort of events climate scientists predict more of in a warming world.”

    Unfortunately, there may be another region that will feel the effects of the Russian heat wave, and it’s an area that is already undergoing major changes due to a warming climate.

    According to Reuters, scientists are warning that soot from the raging Russian wildfires may have a warming impact in the Arctic, where sea ice is in the midst of another abnormally extensive melt season.

  71. Mike#22 says:

    @ #53 Prokaryotes quoting David Roberts in Grist:

    “There are immense changes afoot, even without the passage of a climate bill. In fact, the biggest short-term drivers of change have nothing to do with greenhouse gases. I get the sense that the power sector and the changes bearing down on it are not well understood…”

    Good link PK. JR might want to take a look.

  72. Doug Bostrom says:

    Prokaryotes says: August 11, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Lol, Doug don’t know what this suppose to be, but it looks funny.

    It’s suggestive of the general shape of the House emblem but w/specially revised constituent parts chose to simultaneously obviate the intellectual property problem while conveying an accurate impression of His Lordship’s utility. A superior drop-in replacement!

  73. Mike#22 says:

    @ #53 again, thanks for this

  74. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate-Change Fight Shifting To Western US Coal Mines

    Western U.S. coal producers are increasingly coming under fire by environmental groups that see a chance to fight climate change by curbing output from the nation’s largest coal basin.

    For years environmentalists have lobbied for tougher limits on the emissions of heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change from power plants, vehicles and other direct sources. But the collapse of federal climate-change legislation in recent weeks and growth of coal exports to Asia is leading some groups to look past the smoke stacks and aim to quash emissions by stymieing production of fuel.

    The Powder River Basin, which underlies Wyoming and Montana, is one of the country’s largest sources of fossil fuel, accounting for about 40% of U.S. coal output. Combustion of this coal in power plants accounts for about 13% of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions each year

  75. Prokaryotes says:

    Britain’s local authorities are to be allowed to sell renewable electricity into the grid this month, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said Monday, as the U.K. strives to increase the amount of renewable energy in the mix to meet its 2020 climate change targets.

    Only 0.01% of electricity in England is generated by local authority-owned renewables despite the potential to install projects on their land and buildings. In Germany, the equivalent figure is 100 times higher.

  76. Prokaryotes says:

    When the Smoke Clears in Russia, Will Climate Policy Change?

    “I don’t know what it would take to produce an active stance on climate change in Russia, but I hope this is enough,” said Samuel Charap, a senior fellow for the Center for American Progress who studies Russian climate and energy policy.

  77. Prokaryotes says:

    Biochar Could Put Huge Global Dent in Greenhouse Gases

    Forget elaborate, potentially hazardous geoengineering schemes for countering global warming: injecting aerosols into the atmosphere or seeding the ocean with iron is just too risky.

    Instead, a new study suggests we should borrow an idea from ancient Amazonian farmers: biochar. Far from a hippie-environmentalist-crackpot “save the world” scheme, researchers have found biochar could be the real deal, able to sequester over a billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

  78. Prokaryotes says:

    *** Sustainable biochar to mitigate global climate change ***

    Production of biochar (the carbon (C)-rich solid formed by pyrolysis of biomass) and its storage in soils have been suggested as a means of abating climate change by sequestering carbon, while simultaneously providing energy and increasing crop yields. Substantial uncertainties exist, however, regarding the impact, capacity and sustainability of biochar at the global level. In this paper we estimate the maximum sustainable technical potential of biochar to mitigate climate change. Annual net emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide could be reduced by a maximum of 1.8 Pg CO2-C equivalent (CO2-Ce) per year (12% of current anthropogenic CO2-Ce emissions; 1 Pg=1 Gt), and total net emissions over the course of a century by 130 Pg CO2-Ce, without endangering food security, habitat or soil conservation. Biochar has a larger climate-change mitigation potential than combustion of the same sustainably procured biomass for bioenergy, except when fertile soils are amended while coal is the fuel being offset.

  79. Prokaryotes says:

    The two interconnected watersheds and ancient lakes of Lake Baikal and Lake Hövsgöl represent over 20 ecosystem types and thousands of terrestrial and marine species, many of which are classified as endangered. The Baikal basin ecosystem remains under threat from increased levels of persistent toxic substances (PTS), including POPs, heavy metals and suspended solids, as well as nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and pathogens (E.coli). Most of these contaminants and toxic substances are caused by the pollution from the mining industry, the backbone for the region’s economic growth as well as livestock runoff and related waste-water facilities, and finally, the industrial effluents of both steel and paper mills. Significant portions of the region’s wildlife are near extinction due to contamination or destruction of habitat through previously mentioned pollutants, unsustainable logging, and poaching.

  80. Prokaryotes says:

    Gas hydrates are logically described as a fuel of the future because one cubic meter of gas hydrate produces up to 200 cubic meters of methane. Experts have estimated that 25 trillion cubic meters of gas lies on the Black Sea bed in crystalline from.

    This means that the Black Sea is capable of producing more gas than the Arctic

  81. Prokaryotes says:

    Ukraine’s sea fauna hit by heat

    Not only people have been hit by abnormal heat this summer. In Southern Ukraine, water temperature reached 26 C degrees which is killing fish and other river and sea fauna.

    Several dolphins beached themselves from the Black Sea. Heat triggered a virus hitting dolphin’s neural system which makes them weak and vulnerable.

  82. Prokaryotes says:

    Tracking Fire Trends from Space

    Southern hemisphere also heavy burn …

  83. Prokaryotes says:

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed new rules to ensure factories and power plants will be able to obtain permits they will need to emit greenhouse gases starting next year.

  84. Prokaryotes says:

    Ford Plant Turns To Solar For Energy

    An innovative clean energy collaboration between auto manufacturer Ford, utility Detroit Edison and energy storage systems builder Xtreme Power plans to bring to Michigan one of its largest solar energy systems, which will be used to help in the production and usage of electric vehicles. The system will be installed at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant.

  85. Prokaryotes says:

    LED Light Bulbs For Under $20;
    5,000 Charging Stations for San Francisco
    The U.S. retailing giant, Home Depot, is now selling a super-efficient, LED light bulb for just under $20, and the chain says that the bulbs are selling so quickly that it is having difficulty keeping them in stock. LED bulbs, which emit a brighter light than energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, can last as long as 30 years

  86. Pukirahe says:

    You have done a marvelous job for a green world.
    Our lives depend more on agriculture than on anything else.
    Wishing greater success in the appropriate direction.