Energy and Global Warming News for November 30th: Deaths from climate-related disasters doubled this year; Poland gets recyclable subway cars in 2012; Nissan Leaf named 2011 European Car of the Year

Deaths from climate-related disasters more than double in 2010 – Oxfam

Climate-related disasters killed 21,000 people in the first nine months of this year, more than double the number in 2009, the humanitarian organization Oxfam reported on Monday.

Timed to coincide with the start of international talks tackling climate change in Cancun, Mexico, the report cited floods in Pakistan, fires and heat waves in Russia and sea level rise in the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu as examples of the deadly consequences of climate change.

The new round of U.N. climate negotiations aims to agree on a narrow range of issues dividing rich and poor economies, specifically on funding, preservation of rainforests and preparations for a warmer world. The talks also will seek to formalize existing targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year’s climate negotiations in Copenhagen ended with no binding global agreement, and expectations for this year’s talks are low. U.S. lawmakers are unlikely to consider legislation creating a cap-and-trade system to curb climate-warming emissions.

Still, Oxfam put its report forward as evidence that quick action is needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“Countries should identify new ways to raise the billions of dollars needed, such as putting levies on unregulated international aviation and shipping emissions and agreeing on a Financial Transaction Tax on banks. The sooner the money is delivered, the cheaper it will be to tackle climate change,” Tim Gore, author of the report, said in a statement.

Poland to introduce recyclable subway cars in 2012

Poland has teamed up with Siemens and BMW to create a recyclable subway car for Metro Warszawskie.

The Inspiro design was developed by Siemens in cooperation with the BMW Group DesignworksUSA, which is an independently operating BMW Group subsidiary based in Los Angeles, Singapore and Munich. The Inspiro design offers an enhanced experienced for subway passengers that incorporates sustainable engineering.

The environmentally-sensitive concept incorporates spacious interiors with extra-wide entrances for optimized passenger flow. To increase space for passengers, the electronic and mechanics cabinets have been removed from the interior cabin walls. The floor-to-ceiling handrails emulate simple tree forms, communicating the green intent of the design.

The cars are rated to be 97.5 percent recyclable. The aluminum carriage and weight-optimized chassis make the design significantly lighter than most traditional subway cars. The lighter cars require less energy to run, reducing the overall consumption of this public transit system.

The cars also utilize demand-controlled air conditioning and electrodynamic braking systems which reduce noise and fine particle emissions, and an alternative to conventional drive technology. The Syntergra system reduces energy consumption by as much as 30 percent and lowering maintenance costs by up to 15 percent.

API spent $1.27M in 3Q on lobbyists

The American Petroleum Institute spent $1.27 million in the third quarter to lobby the federal government on climate legislation and other issues, according to a disclosure report.

That’s down from the $2.16 million that the oil industry group spent in the year-ago period and also less than the $2.31 million it spent in the second quarter of this year. API also lobbied the federal government on legislation involving the summertime ban on offshore oil drilling, liabilities related to offshore drilling, tax proposals and bills that promote natural gas vehicles, according to the report filed on Oct. 20.

The institute was deeply critical of House and Senate climate bills that would have limited how much carbon dioxide oil refineries and other companies could release into the air. It called the House climate bill a job killer and lobbied for measures that would promote greater use of cleaner-burning natural gas.

API also complained when the U.S. shut down deepwater oil exploration following the April 20 rig explosion that pumped 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The moratorium, combined with tough new rules for drillers, nearly halted all offshore drilling activity in U.S. waters for several months. The drilling ban has since been lifted.

Nissan Leaf named 2011 European Car of the Year

Well, the Nissan Leaf has done it again. It’s garnered another award.

This time, the Leaf has been named 2011 European Car of the Year. The Leaf beat out 40 contenders including Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, and Volvo.

In the 47-year history of the annual competition, this is the first time the award has gone to an electric vehicle. This comes on the heels of the Leaf being rated at 99 MPGe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This award recognizes the pioneering zero-emission Nissan Leaf as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness, and handling,” said Nissan Motor President and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “It also reflects Nissan’s standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility. With three other electric vehicles in the pipeline from Nissan–and with the imminent market introduction of four additional electric vehicles from our Alliance partner Renault–Nissan Leaf represents a significant first step toward a zero-emission future.”

Italy gets largest single-operating PV solar farm in Europe

Italy is not a leading renewable energy country in Europe, lagging behind other southern European nations such as Spain and Portugal. But an announcement made this week may be the sign of a change to come.

The news was released by SunEdison, a global solar energy provider. The company said it has successfully interconnected a 70MW photovoltaic power plant near Rovigo, a town in the northeast of Italy. The project took nine months to complete.

“With construction completion in less than one year, we believe this deployment signifies a new milestone for the industry and will become the standard for future mega projects,” said Carlos Domenech, SunEdison’s president.

The Rovigo solar plant is expected to generate energy to power more than 16,500 homes and prevent the emission of more than 40,000 tons of CO2. That would equal removing 8,000 cars from the road.

Philippines sparks wind energy gold rush

Proposed wind power projects in the Philippines are attracting high-level interest from a number of international energy companies, according to local press reports which claim the Asian country has the potential to develop more than 70GW of wind energy capacity over the coming years.

The Philippine Inquirer this week quoted a local official as saying that Italian firm Brulli Energia is already conducting land foundation and soil studies as part of a planned 200MW wind development in the Oriental Mindoro region of the country.

The official also said the Philippine Hybrid Energy Systems (Phesi) is similarly planning to invest in wind power projects in the province. Phesi is the local subsidiary of the US-based BreezElectric which has been scouting potential wind sites in the country since 2004.

Climate Change Increasing Flooding Risk in Hong Kong, Pearl River Delta

Climate change is increasing the risk of flooding in Hong Kong and China’s Pearl River Delta, according to a report by the Civic Exchange think tank and researchers at the University of Leeds.

Sea levels in the region may rise 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) by 2050, forcing more than a million people to move to higher areas, according to the report.

The Hong Kong Observatory has recorded a higher incidence of heavy rain storms in the past decade, increasing the risk of flooding in lowland areas of the delta, the study showed.

The authorities in Hong Kong and neighboring Guangdong province need to formulate a regional strategy to tackle the problem and more information should be released about which areas are at risk, Christine Loh, Civic Exchange’s chief executive officer, told a media briefing in Hong Kong today.

38 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for November 30th: Deaths from climate-related disasters doubled this year; Poland gets recyclable subway cars in 2012; Nissan Leaf named 2011 European Car of the Year

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    Oil companies and banks will profit from UN forest protection scheme

    Redd scheme designed to prevent deforestation but critics call it ‘privatisation’ of natural resources

    Some of the world’s largest oil, mining, car and gas corporations will make hundreds of millions of dollars from a UN-backed forest protection scheme, according to a new report from the Friends of the Earth International.

    The group’s new report – launched on the first day of the global climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, where 193 countries hope to thrash out a new agreement – is the first major assessment of the several hundred, large-scale Redd (Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation) pilot schemes. It shows that banks, airlines, charitable foundations, carbon traders, conservation groups, gas companies and palm plantation companies have also scrambled into forestry protection.

    FoE’s report shows, for example that the Anglo-Dutch oil firm Shell has linked with Russian gas giant Gazprom and the Clinton Foundation to invest in the Rimba Rey project, 100,000ha of peat swamp in Indonesia. The project is expecting to prevent 75m tonnes of carbon being emitted over 30 years, which could earn the three groups $750m at a modest carbon price of $10 a tonne.

    It also says that an investment of little more than $10m by the bank Merrill Lynch, the conservation group Flora and Fauna International and an Australian carbon trading company could generate more than $430m, over 30 years, from a project to protect 750,000ha of forest in Aceh province, Indonesia.

  2. John Mason says:

    My promised blog-post on the incredibly cold spell in Wales, UK:

    “With minus 15 recorded [early on the morning of Nov 28th] at a number of sites across Powys and 12C at the same time in Narsarsuaq [in Greenland], the latter was, at the time, 27C warmer than Mid-Wales!!! Having mused on the Saturday morning that Trawscoed (SE of Aberystwyth) was the same temperature as Cairngorm Summit, I found the Mid-Wales-Greenland contrast mind-blowing!”

    Cheers – John

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    Climate-related disasters killed 21,000 people in the first nine months of this year, ………..

    This is the only report I have found out there on how many people died in Russia.
    And it is for just August .

    The surge saw 41,262 more people die than during August 2009,

    Moscow for both months-
    Overall, the city experienced 10,935 deaths linked to the extreme temperatures and stifling smog over the two months from July to August, which represents a 60 percent rise in the mortality rate.

    This Russia death toll is the most under reported number of the year.

  4. Esop says:

    No less than 60 all time low records recorded in Norway during the last two weeks. The extremely cold weather occupies the entire front page of the major newspapers pretty much every day. Needless to say, the deniers (and we got plenty) are in 7th heaven these days.

  5. Flin says:

    Oh great, the subway car can be recycled!
    So that means that you do not have to use another 15 MWh to produce a metric ton of raw aluminium, resulting in, like, 7,5 metric tons of CO2.

    Aluminium is really not a climate hawks favorite metal.

  6. Leif says:

    “Solidified Electricity” is how Aluminum is defined in some circles. Flin, @6.

  7. dbmetzger says:

    And don’t forget the plight of the Polar bears

    Polar Bears Dwindling in Number
    As world leaders debate ways to tackle global warming, conservationists say polar bears are being hit hard. Canada is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population, but research has shown the numbers are declining rapidly.

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    Leaked Cables Show U.S. Pressured Saudis to Accept Copenhagen Accord

    The Obama administration leaned heavily on Saudi Arabia to associate itself with the Copenhagen Accord climate change agreement, confidential State Department memos show.

    The handful of climate-related cables — among the hundreds of thousands of secret and unclassified messages released by the whistle-blower organization Wikileaks — show the United States put climate change at the center of its foreign policy relationship with the oil-producing giant in the months after last year’s blowout U.N. climate summit in Denmark.

    “You have the opportunity to head off a serious clash over climate change,” James Smith, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she prepared for a February visit to the kingdom.

    “Saudi officials are very concerned that a climate change treaty would significantly reduce their income just as they face significant costs to diversify their economy,” Smith wrote. “The King is particularly sensitive to avoid Saudi Arabia being singled out as the bad actor, particularly on environmental issues.”

    But the handful of times that climate change is raised, it appears as a front-burner Obama administration issue, a ClimateWire review of the cables found. They provide new insight into the behind-the-scenes discussions leading up to Copenhagen and the focus of the administration after the meeting.

    Increase the Pressure on these Morons!

    The Stupid Show – Extras – Report from United Arab Emirates

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    Amazon’s thirst alarming for Earth

    An intense months-long drought through November drained the mighty Negro river — an Amazon tributary — to its lowest since records began in 1902, drying up the network of water that is the lifeblood of Brazil’s huge Amazonas state. More than 60,000 people went short of food and many lacked clean water as millions of dead fish contaminated rivers.

    It was a once-in-a-century weather event. The weird thing is, it came just five years after another severe Amazon drought that meteorologists had described in the same way. Last year, massive floods in the region killed dozens and made hundreds of thousands homeless, fitting a pattern of more extreme weather that climate models forecast for this century.

    Read more:

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    In Casablanca, schools were ordered to shut on Tuesday after Morocco’s biggest city and business centre received a record 18 cm (7 inches) of rain overnight.

  11. fj3 says:

    re: “Deaths from climate-related disasters more than double in 2010 – Oxfam”

    Unfortunately, the 21,000 number seems really low considering the massive flood in Pakistan effecting 20 million people and the something like 1300-mile fire zone in Russia; and, the under-reporting typical in developing countries where populations are most at risk.

    Perhaps along the same lines, it also seems that the quest for biofuels has impacted starvation rates by increasing the price of food and a much larger toll.

  12. Bill W. says:

    My local NPR station, KPBS, had an excellent interview yesterday with Dr. Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, entitled “Scientists Must Tell the Climate Change Story”

  13. Paulm says:

    Bill that was a good clip. I only wished that they had actually mentioned in it what the climate warming means now.

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    November temperature hits record level in Bulgaria

    It was 25.5 C° in the Black-sea town of Ahtopol, 20 C° in Blagoevgrad, Southern Bulgaria, 24 C° in the city of Veliko Tarnovo, etc. Record high temperatures were registered in another 20 cities and towns across Bulgaria

  15. Prokaryotes says:

    And the heatwave in bulgaria is lingering since a few weeks

    November Heat Wave Continues in Bulgaria
    Environment | November 11, 2010, Thursday
    Bulgaria continues to enjoy one of the warmest Novembers ever

    Which confuses plants – likely damaging

    Odd: Apple tree blossoms twice a year in Bulgaria
    The local agricultural sectors and related research institutes could not explain this unusual natural phenomena.

  16. David B. Benson says:

    Pisarenko & Rodkin
    Heavy-Tailed Distributions in Disaster Analysis
    Springer, 2010.

    Emphasis on earthquakes, but considers other distributions of extreme events as well.

  17. Mike says:

    Venus Holds Warning for Earth

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 30, 2010) — A mysterious high-altitude layer of sulphur dioxide discovered by ESA’s Venus Express has been explained. As well as telling us more about Venus, it could be a warning against injecting our atmosphere with sulphur droplets to mitigate climate change.

  18. Sasparilla says:

    Today was a victory (small), but a victory nonetheless. Today was Job 1 for the Chevy Volt (Job 1 is the 1st production Volt to roll off the production line) and the initial Chevy Volt’s that will end up in customers hands rolled off the line.

    I invite the other readers of this wonderful website to sit for a moment and revel in the fact that we have reached the point, in the US (and World), that EV’s are now happening for sure at production levels. Thanks to GM and Nissan there is no turning back.

    Production numbers will be low and prices high for years and the transition will take decades, but it has truly started now. The GOP in the US can’t stop it (God knows they’d like to). We should enjoy the small victories we get, soak them up, take comfort in them.

    The world has changed for the better (in a small way) today.

  19. Mike says:

    The future of the oceans past
    Jeremy B. C. Jackson
    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 November 2010 vol. 365 no. 1558 3765-3778


    Major macroevolutionary events in the history of the oceans are linked to changes in oceanographic conditions and environments on regional to global scales. Even small changes in climate and productivity, such as those that occurred after the rise of the Isthmus of Panama, caused major changes in Caribbean coastal ecosystems and mass extinctions of major taxa. In contrast, massive influxes of carbon at the end of the Palaeocene caused intense global warming, ocean acidification, mass extinction throughout the deep sea and the worldwide disappearance of coral reefs. Today, overfishing, pollution and increases in greenhouse gases are causing comparably great changes to ocean environments and ecosystems. Some of these changes are potentially reversible on very short time scales, but warming and ocean acidification will intensify before they decline even with immediate reduction in emissions. There is an urgent need for immediate and decisive conservation action. Otherwise, another great mass extinction affecting all ocean ecosystems and comparable to the upheavals of the geological past appears inevitable.

  20. Paulm says:

    “I think what you’ve got here is storm fatigue,” Bryant said. “It’s very frightening to people.”

    Were only at .8C!

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    Perth swelters through hottest November on record

    Perth is experiencing its first November heatwave in more than 30 years says the Bureau of Meteorology.

    When the temperature reached 35.1 degrees today, it became the city’s first November heatwave since 1978 and only the fourth on record.

    It is also Perth’s hottest Spring on record with more than 10 days above 32 degrees. And it has also been the sunniest Spring ever with no sign of rain on the horizon.

    The latest current temperature for the city was 36.3 degrees at 12:30pm.

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    Disasters cause losses of 222 billion dollars in 2010

    ZURICH — Man-made and natural disasters generated worldwide economic losses of 222 billion dollars in 2010, more than three times last year’s figure, the world’s biggest reinsurer Swiss Re estimated on Tuesday.

    This year’s major catastrophes claimed 260,000 lives, most of them in the deadly Haiti earthquake during which over 222,000 people were killed.

    Other disasters with high casualty rate included Russia’s heatwave which left about 15,000 dead and summer floods in China and Pakistan which killed 6,225, said Swiss Re.

    Yet, despite the three-fold jump in economic losses, the impact to insurers rose only 34 percent from a year ago to 36 billion dollars, as the most devastating disasters occurred in regions which had little insurance coverage.

    “While most of the costliest events caused by the earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand and the winter storm in western Europe were covered by insurance, events like the earthquake in Haiti and floods in Asia were barely insured,” noted Thomas Hee, chief economist of Swiss Re.

    It was the earthquake in Chile alone which left the insurance industry with the biggest bill, costing 8 billion dollars.

    February’s western European winter storm cost the industry 2.85 billion dollars while New Zealand’s earthquake cost 2.7 billion dollars.

    The reinsurer also included losses from BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, saying that the explosion cost insurers property claims of about 1 billion dollars, although this figure could still rise.

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    On Nov. 16, Canadian senators killed Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, with a surprise vote. The way the vote was carried out is an insult to Canadians and democracy.

    It’s also further evidence that Canada will go to the UN Climate Change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, on November 29, with nothing to offer but empty words and an unwillingness to tackle what leading scientists say is the most serious crisis facing Canada and the world.

    Even though the bill had been delivered to the Senate 193 days before, after being passed by the House of Commons, the vote was called without notice and without debate, when at least 15 Liberal senators and several independent senators were absent. This law, which would have put our country on track to be an environmental leader, was killed by only 11 votes (43 to 32).

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper once promised he would never allow the unelected Senate to go against the will of the majority of Members of Parliament and the Canadian public. But with this vote in a Senate stacked by the prime minister, he has done exactly that.

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    MPs urge government to ban West Coast tanker traffic

    OTTAWA — Opposition MPs from British Columbia sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday asking him to ban oil tanker traffic on Canada’s West Coast in anticipation of a planned oil pipeline.

    The letter, signed by the six Liberals and nine New Democrats who represent B.C. ridings, urges Harper to legislate a ban on tanker traffic due to the risk of an oil spill along the Pacific coast and the communities that populate it.

    I for one boycott canadian products now.

  25. catman306 says:

    Cliff Mass has done a blog about affordable weather instruments for the home owner.

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Winds lash the East, knock out power; roads flood

    Winds whipped across the East Coast on Wednesday as the region wrestled with yet another day of heavy rain and severe weather that knocked out power to thousands, slowed commuters and caused widespread damage.

    Tornado watches were issued for parts of the Virginias, and officials in Washington, D.C., handed out sandbags to protect homes from flooding. Thousands of customers were without electricity in the mid-Atlantic area and New York, and some schools delayed openings.

    The storm system has brought suspected tornadoes to several Southeastern states since Monday, from Louisiana to South Carolina. The system was headed toward the Northeast, with colder air turning the rain into snow.

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    The entire side of Mike Croker’s two-story home was ripped off, exposing a living room with furniture and a staircase. Croker, 54, who has lived near Buford his entire life, said he was inside when the sound of roaring wind brought him to his knees and forced him to crawl into his bathroom.

    “The kitchen’s gone; the great room’s gone,” Croker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It looks like to me it’s pretty well leveled.”

    Other pictures of Croker’s neighborhood showed shingles torn off homes and debris scattered across front yards.

    In Tennessee, a rock slide followed two inches of rain, blocking part of a highway between Knoxville and the airport. Flooding closed roads in the Carolinas, which saw up to six inches of rain in some areas. In Greenville County, S.C., 50-year-old Rita Hunter of Travelers Rest was killed Tuesday when she lost control of her car on a wet roadway, struck a tree and overturned.

    Wet, wintry weather in Pennsylvania caused flooding and delayed school openings. More than 3 inches of rain had fallen in Pittsburgh since Tuesday morning, National Weather Service officials said, and the drenching forced the evacuation of dorms at the University of Pittsburgh satellite campus in Bradford near the New York state line. Classes were canceled.

    Earlier, the storm brought suspected tornadoes to Louisiana and Mississippi, where more than a dozen people were injured. In Yazoo City, Miss., which was hit several months ago by a severe tornado, 63-year-old Clarence Taylor said the town again looked like a war zone. The winds blew off a tarp he had put on his roof to cover damage from the April storm.

    “This is the second time it dropped down on this street in just six months,” Taylor said. “I’ve been through it, man.”

  28. Paulm says:

    #30 pork yes, absolutely. Canada is a rogue state on climate action. As a Canadian I am afraid that this needs to be done.

    Bolivia, who by the way official recognize that the real target to aim for is 1c (even tough probably not possible in reality) is pushing for sanctions now. Europe should be leading the way on this along with the forwad nations like Bolivia and Mexico.

    The time has come. We are in a state of emergency and our actions should reflect this.

  29. Great to see Nissan finally winning green awards.