Energy and Global Warming News for December 16th: Senate approves clean tech tax break extensions; NASA releases global warming map; WikiLeaks cables show BP suffered devastating blowout in Azerbaijan

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"Energy and Global Warming News for December 16th: Senate approves clean tech tax break extensions; NASA releases global warming map; WikiLeaks cables show BP suffered devastating blowout in Azerbaijan"

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Senate approves biofuel and clean tech tax break extensions

The US renewable energy and biofuel industries were celebrating yesterday after the Senate overwhelming approved plans to extend crucial green tax breaks and grant programmes. Senators voted 81 to 19 in favor of the controversial bi-partisan tax bill, which extends the Bush-era tax cuts supported by Republicans, but in return extends federal unemployment benefits for 13 months and provides a raft of incentives to clean energy projects.

In particular, the package includes extensions to the existing research and development tax credit, ethanol tax credit, biodiesel and renewable diesel tax credit, and energy efficient homes tax . Significantly, it also extends by one year the Treasury’s popular Section 1603 program, which offers large scale renewable energy projects and upfront cash grant to help cover construction costs in lieu of a 30 per cent tax break.

Rhone Resch, president and chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the compromise deal would provide a major boost to the renewable energy sector. “Since its passage, the 1603 program has successfully created jobs and opportunity in all 50 states for construction workers, electricians, plumbers, contractors that have struggled during this difficult economic climate,” he said in a statement. “An extension will help the solar industry remain one of the fastest growing industries in America and create thousands of new careers.”

NASA releases global warming map

The map shows temperature anomalies for 2000-2009 and 1970-1979 relative to a 1951-1980 baseline. To conduct the analysis, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) uses “publicly available data from 6,300 meteorological stations around the world; ship-based and satellite observations of sea surface temperature; and Antarctic research station measurements.”

1970-1979
nasa global warming map

2000-2009
nasa's climate change map NASA images by Robert Simmon, based on data from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The space agency reports that the average global temperature has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. About two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade. “The world is getting warmer,” stated NASA on its Earth Observatory site. “Whether the cause is human activity or natural variability, thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

WikiLeaks cables show BP suffered devastating blowout in Azerbaijan

Striking resemblances between BP‘s Gulf of Mexico disaster and a little-reported giant gas leak in Azerbaijan experienced by the UK firm 18 months beforehand have emerged from leaked US embassy cables. The cables reveal that some of BP’s partners in the gas field were upset that the company was so secretive about the incident that it even allegedly withheld information from them. They also say that BP was lucky that it was able to evacuate its 212 workers safely after the incident, which resulted in two fields being shut and output being cut by at least 500,000 barrels a day with production disrupted for months.

Other cables leaked tonight claim that the president of Azerbaijan accused BP of stealing $10bn of oil from his country and using “mild blackmail” to secure the rights to develop vast gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region.

WikiLeaks also released cables claiming that:

“¢ Senior figures in Thailand are concerned about the suitability of the crown prince to become king, citing rumours that he has lovers in several European capitals in addition to his wife and son in Thailand.

“¢ American energy firm Chevron was in discussions with Tehran about developing an Iraq-Iran cross-border oilfield, despite US sanctions against Iran.

The leaks came as the whistleblower site’s founder Julian Assange prepared for another night in jail ahead of tomorrow’s high court challenge to the decision to grant him £200,000 bail. Swedish authorities, who want to question Assange on allegations of sexual assault, believe he should remain in custody as he is a flight risk. On the Azerbaijan gas leak, acable reports for the first time that BP suffered a blowout in September 2008, as it did in the Gulf with devastating consequences in April, as well as the gas leak that the firm acknowledged at the time. “Due to the blowout of a gas-injection well there was ‘a lot of mud’ on the platform, which BP would analyze to help find the cause of the blowout and gas leak,” the cable said.

California air board to accept cap and trade program

Officials hail the program as flexible and sensitive to economic conditions. It would begin in 2012 by capping emissions from the 600 biggest industrial facilities. California regulators Thursday are expected to adopt the nation’s most comprehensive carbon trading regime, creating a market-based way to lower greenhouse gas emissions at a time when similar efforts have stalled in Congress.

The program is the centerpiece of the state’s 2006 global warming law, which aims to slash carbon dioxide and other planet-heating pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. That would amount to a 15% cut from today’s level. The cap-and-trade system “will help drive innovation, create more green jobs and clean up our air and environment,” said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols, adding that it “provides flexibility” to industry and takes “into consideration the current economic climate.”

Under the state’s cap-and-trade plan, emissions from the 600 biggest industrial facilities, including cement manufacturers, electrical plants and oil refineries, would be capped in 2012, with that limit gradually decreasing over eight years in an effort to encourage energy efficiency and renewable sources of power. Companies would be granted “allowances” for each metric ton of greenhouse gas they emit, and they could trade unused allowances among themselves to cut costs.

Generous tariffs lure British farmers into raising solar arrays

Michael Eavis is not your average farmer, but this year he is following the herd. Spurred on by a new tariff that pays individuals to produce their own electricity and sell it to the nation’s grid, Eavis has installed 1,100 solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of his dairy barn. He calls it his “Mootel.”

“The panels will earn about £50,000 [$79,053] a year, so in 10 years we will have paid off the £500,000 [$790,398] we borrowed from the bank to build the array. Solar power is really clean — even more so than wind — and it is free. There is enough energy from the sun to power the whole world during the day,” he added.

Eavis is just one among a throng of people, including many farmers, who have leaped at the chance the tariff scheme offers both to make money and to get “greener.” In contrast to many other such schemes across Europe, the U.K. feed-in tariffs pay for all power produced, not just that exported to the grid. They also have the added attraction of being guaranteed for 25 years.

Wind power for Boston made in China

Goldwind USA and A-Power Energy Generation Systems are not the only big Chinese-owned wind energy companies setting up shop in this country. Sinovel, a state-owned company based in Beijing that is China’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, has signed a contract with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to provide a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine. The machine will provide electricity for a wastewater pumping station in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston.

The turbine accounts for about half of the $4.7 million cost of the project, which is still in development and is being financed with money from the federal economic stimulus package. Sinovel, with a $6.5 billion line of credit from banks owned by the Chinese government, has said its goal was to become the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines by 2015. It also said it intended to eventually realize half of its sales beyond China’s borders.

Meanwhile, Ming Yang Wind Power Group, China’s fifth-largest wind turbine manufacturer, and its largest privately held wind power company, has opened a sales office in Dallas. Recently, the company raised $350 million in an initial public offering in New York, in a deal led by Morgan Stanley “” part of $6 billion being raised this year through initial public offerings by six Chinese wind turbine and wind farm companies.

Regulation is deficient in Canada’s oil sands

Reclamation in Canada’s oil sands is not keeping pace with rapid development and that could leave the public vulnerable to major financial burdens in years to come, a scientific panel said Wednesday. The study by Royal Society of Canada scientists, the latest report on the effects of the country’s multibillion-dollar oil sands sector, also concluded that governments and regulators are lagging world standards in their ability to oversee the industry and monitor its environmental impact.

“Current government of Alberta policy on financial security for reclamation liability leaves Alberta vulnerable to major financial risks, which are exacerbated by the current state of reclamation, which is not keeping pace with the rate of land disturbance,” the panel said in its report. Alberta’s oil sands are the largest source of crude outside Saudi Arabia, and are the target of billions of dollars of spending by the world’s oil industry. However, the environmental impact of the rush to develop the oil is under intense scrutiny by environmentalists and politicians.

The seven-member panel, chaired by Steve Hrudey, professor emeritus of analytical and environmental toxicology at the University of Alberta, pointed out uncertainty in the industry’s ability to reclaim wetlands, given current methods. It pointed out that technology to manage tailings ponds, the toxic byproducts of oil sands extraction, has improved over the past decade, despite recent incidents involving the deaths of hundreds of ducks that landed on a toxic pond.

Sungevity gets $15 million to go nationwide

In cubicles in Sungevity’s Oakland, California headquarters, employees are finessing residential solar bids — for homes in Colorado. The company, which has created software that lets its assemble and manage residential solar projects over the web, has to date concentrated on solar deals in California, Colorado and Arizona. Today, it is announcing a $15 million round of financing that will let it expand to the other solar markets in the U.S. while staying centralized, said founder Danny Kennedy. In 2011, it is looking at expanding internationally and rolling out a Spanish-language version of its service in the U.S.

Business, Kennedy adds, is booming. Installations, measured in terms of kilowatts, are up by a factor of ten this year, and the total number of installations are up 9x. The company booked 1 megawatt worth of solar deals in October alone. Its market share in California has grown from 0.4 percent to 2.9 percent. Like competitors SolarCity, SunRun and others, part of Sungevity’s explosive growth comes through solar leasing, which allows consumers to skip the down payment. More than 99 percent of the deals that were booked in One Megawatt October revolved around leases, he said.

Both SolarCity and Sungevity have exploited the power of software to reduce the cost of solar installation, which can still account for a third of a residential system. Sungevity’s software examines satellite imagery of a rooftop as well as data on the pitch of the roof, local solar radiation, and the angle of the roof toward the sun, among other factors, in order to concoct a bid on a project. The software has been fine-tuned over the past few years. Sungevity projects now are almost one kilowatt larger on average than they were 2.5 years ago.

Kenya’s largest energy provider receives $364 million for geothermal development

Under the agreement, the French Development Agency will loan KenGen roughly US$201.3 million to help finance the construction of the 140-megawatt Olkaria IV geothermal power plant.  In turn, the European Investment Bank will loan US$153.2 million for the construction of a high-voltage substation and transmission lines from the new geothermal projects the utility is developing.      The loans will help generate an additional 280-megawatts of geothermal power in Kenya.  The East African state has become a geothermal hot-bed of late.  The country has announced plans to increase its geothermal capacity from 1,300 MW to 4,000 MW by 2030.  This has brought investors and finaciers to the table.  Earlier this year the World Bank committed US$118 million to the development of Kenya’s geothermal industry.      Currently Kenya relies predominantly on hydropower and wood fuel.  With energy demand on the rise and only 20% of Kenyan’s with access to consistent electricity, the government needs to develop more reliable and envrionmentally conscious sources of energy, such as geothermal power. Kenya’s Finance Minister, Uburu Kenyatta said the development of these geothermal projects will help make this change.  “We need to increase access of the households to the national grid electricity to improve the quality of life of our people.  This will ensure that the use of firewood that destroys our forests will be drastically reduced.”

Huhne: Reforms to make low carbon ‘dominant’ force in UK energy mix

The government has today unveiled its plans for energy market reforms, predicting that the new package of measures will lead to a huge increase in investment for renewable, nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. However, the proposals stop short of providing precise details on the future price of carbon emissions

and the regulations governing fossil power plants that will ultimately by required by investors if they are to determine the economic feasibility of low carbon projects.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said the reforms would strengthen the economic case for investment in low carbon technologies to ensure that they become the “dominant” form of energy generation by 2030. He also predicted that the changes would lead to lower energy bills in the long term, compared to the continuation of the current market framework.

“The UK was first to put binding carbon reduction targets into law,” he said. “Now the coalition is taking the historic step of introducing, permanently, a level playing field for low carbon technologies in the UK’s electricity market… Low carbon technologies must be given the chance to become the dominant component in our electricity mix.” The reforms propose the introduction of four new measures, all designed to strengthen the investment case for low carbon technologies.

South Korea plans new energy self-sufficiency strategy

South Korea is hauling out new plans to increase its energy self-sufficiency next year by developing and investing in more overseas energy products to meet its rising demands. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said it will raise its self-sufficiency ratio to 13 percent of total oil and gas imports, up from the current 10 percent, and import less crude oil for state reserves.

“We’ll continue to enlarge the state-run Korea National Oil Corp. next year via purchases of promising energy assets to help enhance the country’s energy self-sufficiency rate,” the ministry said in a statement. Korea National wants to up its crude oil and natural gas capacity from 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day to 300,000 barrels a day by 2012. To help make that goal a reality, one of Korea National’s overseas units is in the process of acquiring the Canadian assets of Hunt Oil Co. for the equivalent of $521.67 million.

South Korea also plans to expand its natural gas activities to include upstream operations like exploration, production and purchasing gas fields. The country hopes to export $40 billion a year of alternative and renewable energy by 2015, significantly higher than the $4.6 billion last year.

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33 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for December 16th: Senate approves clean tech tax break extensions; NASA releases global warming map; WikiLeaks cables show BP suffered devastating blowout in Azerbaijan

  1. MapleLeaf says:

    “Whether the cause is human activity or natural variability, thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

    Umm, NASA, how about “most of the observed warming is attributable to human activity”.

    [JR: Missed that — uber-lame!]

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    Soybeans, Corn Climb as Dry Weather in Argentina May Hurt Yields

    “While we acknowledge that room still exists for the weather to improve from here, we see production-shortfall risk increasing should wetter weather in Argentina and southern Brazil not materialize over the next two weeks,” Morgan Stanley said in a report. “Planting progress, particularly in Argentina, has been delayed due to dry weather, and the second corn crop in Brazil could also fall short due to the delayed soybean harvest.”

    Soybeans for March gained 4.75 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $13.125 a bushel at 11:06 a.m. London time on the Chicago Board of Trade. The most-active contract touched $13.2475 yesterday, the highest since Nov. 12.

    Corn for March delivery rose 4 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $5.8825 a bushel. The price reached $5.945 yesterday, the highest since Nov. 9. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-12-16/soybeans-corn-climb-as-dry-weather-in-argentina-may-hurt-yields.html

  3. I. Snarlalot Theisdaise says:

    Yeah, to echo what MapleLeaf said, I’m getting a little tired of scientific statements on global warming being softened to appease wing nuts. Like: “Oh don’t hurt me. Here. See? No need to trouble yourself, I’m shooting myself in the foot.”

    If scientists believe that global warming is a fact, is happening now, is very dangerous, and is largely anthropogenic, then they should say that global warming is a fact, is happening now, is very dangerous, and is largely anthropogenic. They should say it loud and say it repeatedly.

    Gah. Weak as water.

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    It’s a Great Time to Be Rich
    If the tax cuts become law, the next two years will be the best in living memory for many wealthy Americans to shield their income and fortunes
    “That’s going to allow a lot more people to transfer a lot more wealth to future generations free of estate taxes or gift taxes,” http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/dec2010/pi20101215_516004.htm

    This article just demonstrates a total disconnect from reality. Future generations need a livable planet – a stable habitat. Because, many rich invest into fossil energy they risk to make money worthless, same with most business which likely will be hit hard from climate destruction.

  5. Daniel Ives says:

    MapleLeaf #1 and I. Snarlalot Theisdaise #3,

    I couldn’t agree more. That last sentence isn’t just soft, it’s borderline misinformation. From NASA of all places! Pathetic.

    On the other hand the map is very nice.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    UK govt to give 25 pct subsidy to 9 new electric cars

    The British government on Wednesday said all the nine electric cars, which will be bought in the country, are eligible for a subsidy of up to £5,000 (or $7,935).

    Under the scheme, the government has pledged 43 million pounds ($68.24 million) until the end of March 2012 to help British motorists shift to low-carbon vehicles, UK government department of Transport said in a statement. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/92766/20101216/green-cars-uk-government-philip-hammond.htm

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    Eco-friendly car loans seekers might be interested in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV after it was part of the UK’s largest public electric vehicle trial.

    According to the manufacturer, the motor “proved its reliability and usefulness” during the process, entitled Cabled (Coventry And Birmingham Low Emission vehicle Demonstrators).

    The initiative is the eighth largest of its kind taking place as part of the Technology Strategy Board’s £25 million Ultra Low Carbon demonstrator programme. Last December, the process involving 25 of the Mitsubishi electric automobiles began in Birmingham.

    Automotive expert Quentin Willson, who was part of the trial, said the car is a forerunner of transport evolution that will go on to change the world. He added: “At last here’s an electric car that doesn’t look like a church pew, seats four, does 80 mph and costs less than a quid to charge.” Last month, the brand revealed its iMiEV is being used by the mayor of London Boris Johnson to promote the Big Smoke’s electric vehicle charging network.

    http://www.carloan4u.co.uk/news/green-car-loans-seekers-may-be-keen-on-mitsubishi-i-miev-after-trial-800287389.html

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    Nuclear Build Is `Essential Objective,’ U.K. Climate Secretary Huhne Says

    The cost of replacing existing plants and building renewable projects will be around 200 billion pounds ($316 billion), according to an Ernst & Young LLP report. The government says existing arrangements don’t provide the certainty needed for utilities to finance new plants. Building a new nuclear reactor in the U.K. may cost companies as much as 6 billion pounds, according to Energy Minister Charles Hendry. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-16/u-k-s-huhne-says-nuclear-build-essential-objective-update1-.html

    Uh, that is some kind of very biased reporting.

  9. dbmetzger says:

    From the CBC…
    Top Canadian Scientists Release Oil Sands Report
    A new report from the Royal Society of Canada offers a complex assessment of Alberta’s much-maligned oil sands. Scientists concluded that the oil sands aren’t as toxic as previously assumed, though they remain in need of greater government regulation. http://www.newslook.com/videos/274972-top-canadian-scientists-release-oil-sands-report?autoplay=true

  10. paulm says:

    I think that whats happening up north will see the greenland ice sheet following the same profile as the arctic ice with sudden drop offs.
    This article and chart is starting to show that there is probably going to be a sort of tipping point for the melt off…

    Greenland Ice Sheet outlet glaciers ice loss: an overview
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Schoof_et_al_rebuttal_2010.html

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    Europe Prepares for Arctic Blast, Delays at Heathrow

    Heavy drifting snow and widespread icy roads are expected to descend across Europe today starting in parts of Scotland and Germany, European weather agencies reported.

    Worst affected areas in the U.K. could see up to eight inches (20 centimeters) of snow tomorrow, the U.K.-based Met Office, a state-funded agency, said in a severe weather warning today. Germany will likely record its coldest December in 40 years, German-based N24 television meteorologist Alexander Hildebrand reported today.

    The City of Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest with a population of almost 1 million, is running out of salt needed to grit roads and make them passable, N24 television reported. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-16/europe-braces-for-arctic-blast-bringing-snow-ice-in-run-up-to-christmas.html

    MOTORISTS face chaos as most roads will remain ungritted when the big freeze returns over the coming days.

    Due to rationing, councils that spread salt on regional and local roads during the previous Arctic snap have been ordered not to treat them this time, as fresh supplies have been delayed and won’t arrive in time.

    Shipments

    The salt shipments from Egypt and Morocco had been due this weekend, but were delayed because of adverse weather in the Mediterranean.

    Snow will affect parts of northern coastal counties, north and west Connacht and west Munster, with some snow showers coming inland and widespread ice forecast at night.

    The RSA is encouraging the public to visit rsa.ie for advice and tips on dealing with the severe weather conditions.

    Meanwhile, water rationing is to continue at night in the Dublin region. http://www.independent.ie/national-news/motorists-face-chaos-as-councils-to-save-salt-in-cold-snap-2462617.html

    Water and salt rationing and the winter did not even started yet.

  12. Bob Wallace says:

    Eavis did not finish his statement.

    “The panels will earn about £50,000 [$79,053] a year, so in 10 years we will have paid off the £500,000 [$790,398] we borrowed from the bank to build the array.” And then I will have $79,053 income for the next 30+ years from the paid off panels.

    Sweeter than the cream that rises to the top….

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    2009 Europe

    Some rural communities remain cut off, while others are coping with power cuts, increasing numbers of potholes and cancelled rubbish collections.
    Freezing conditions are causing water pipes to split. Yorkshire Water has been taking 160 calls a day about the problem and has 75 teams repairing them.
    Heating oil firm Total Butler has said it is struggling to meet demand from households, despite government permission for its drivers to work longer hours.
    The Federation of Small Businesses says bad weather is costing the economy £600m a day.

    The AA predicts the thaw will reveal a 30% increase in the usual number of potholes. Councils spent £67m filling in almost 1m last year, figures suggest.
    AA President Edmund King told the BBC: “If they are not filled in, you can pay out more in compensation. Last year, £47m was paid out in compensation for people’s vehicles damaged, bicycles, motorcycles, or indeed injuries.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8458348.stm

    But nearly 100 businesses were forced to stop using gas by the National Grid as it tried to ration supplies after demand in the UK reached record levels.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8449189.stm

    2008 China

    China is facing food shortages and price rises as blizzards destroy crops and shut down transport.
    If the bad weather persists, China’s economic losses could run into billions of yuan, threatening the country’s growth this year. The national weather forecaster said the freezing conditions would continue for the next 10 days.

    The heaviest snowfall for 50 years has severely hit central and southern China, which provide most of the country’s winter fruit and vegetables.

    “The impact of the snow disaster on winter crop production is extremely serious,” said Chen Xiwen, the deputy director of the Communist party’s financial group. “The impact on fresh vegetables and on fruit in some places has been catastrophic.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jan/31/china.weather

    If you ask me the only way to sustain civilization during upcoming winter month will be with decentralized power infrastructure. Because with 15-20% arctic ice sheet lose the refrigerator NAO effect (cold air flows south into the northern hemisphere and warm air more polewards), will just become really serious. With 30% ice sheet lose do we see 40 cm snow? (Currently “2009/2010 so far” serious average seems around 20cm).

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    British Columbia –
    Last weekend Greater Victoria got between 65 and 90 millimetres of rain depending on your location and Victoria International Airport set a new one-day record for precipitation last Sunday with 45.2 millimetres.

    Halfway through December, the region has already had more than 140 millimetres of precipitation, while the average for the entire month is 150 millimetres.

    With the forecast calling for continued showers through this week and beyond, the monthly record of 295 millimetres set in 1992 could be in danger of falling.

    Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/Victoria+businesses+swamped+record+rainfall/3987365/story.html#ixzz18Ivss4KN

  15. Colorado Bob says:

    Columbia –

    Colombia flooding continues with thousands homeless
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12006568

    In pictures: Colombia floods
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12006885

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    Thursday December 16 2010

    Torrential rains in Colombia continue to hit coffee output as blocked roads and landslides hinder transport of beans to coffee cooperatives and mills, Reuters reported. With crops already affected by bad weather and a fungus outbreak, downpours continue to cause delays because of flooded roads, landslides and other transport problems across the country. Colombia has declared a national disaster after the severe weather conditions caused around $5 bln in damages to infrastructure, crops and livestock, forcing the government to introduce emergency measures.

    In Antioquia, the country’s main coffee producer, there are four major transport routes closed, the government said on December 13. Since the beginning of April, Colombia has been hit by the La Nina weather phenomenon with rains measured as the strongest in Colombia’s meteorological records, the country’s weather office IDEAM said. It predicts rains will last until March-June 2011 and precipitation in the top coffee producing area known as Eje Cafetero will be 30% to 50% above the average in December and January. With rains expected to continue into next year, coffee output may not surpass 9 mln 60-kg bags in calendar 2011 as growers fear plantations will not have enough sun for flowering, Fedecafe head Luis Genaro Munoz recently said.

    http://www.agra-net.com/portal2/home.jsp?template=newsarticle&artid=20017834631&pubid=ag049

  17. Prokaryotes says:

    Ice storm chaos: How Atlanta commute turned into a demolition derby
    Atlanta reported more than 1,000 accidents as freezing rain coated roadways Wednesday night. The ice storm is another chapter in the South’s strangely cold start to winter.

    Atlanta Southerners are used to demolition derbies, but a mass of commuters surprised by an early winter ice storm found themselves on a giant hockey rink Wednesday.

    The Atlanta metro area alone saw more than 1,000 accidents as motorists slid off roads, crashed into each other, and, in many cases, simply abandoned their cars and checked into motels literally miles from their homes. Few serious injuries were reported.

    Georgia’s state climatologist, David Stooksbury, came to the defense of the drivers involved in the great 2010 ice storm mashup. “I’ve seen drivers in the Midwest driving on ice, and they can’t do it, either, so I don’t want to hear it from them,” says Mr. Stooksbury, who works at the University of Georgia.

    A high-pressure oscillation off Greenland has sent early winter conditions deep into the South for the second year in a row, confounding atmospheric scientists. As a result, the possibility of another extreme winter may have to force Southern drivers to curb their NASCAR habits in favor the low-and-slow styles of New England winter driving. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/1216/Ice-storm-chaos-How-Atlanta-commute-turned-into-a-demolition-derby

    So much for covering the NAO and this strange – i think first ever event of this sort …

  18. Michael Tucker says:

    “The world is getting warmer,” stated NASA on its Earth Observatory site. “Whether the cause is human activity or natural variability, thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”

    So when NASA says the warming might be due to natural variability that is OK?

    If I was a Republican I would use THAT as my reason to reject scientific certainty of human caused global climate disruption!

    Messaging is, and has been, ALL OVER THE PLACE. Everything from global warming is a hoax and all data is suspect to the end of civilization is upon us.

    No wonder the general public tunes out.

  19. Colorado Bob says:

    Arctic icecap safe from runaway melting: study

    The way down in the body of the text –

    But the study, based on computer models, indicates that if annual emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially reduced over the next two decades, an initial phase of rapid ice loss would be followed by a period of stability and, eventually, partial recovery.

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Arctic_icecap_safe_from_runaway_melting_study_999.html

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2010) — Storing massive amounts of carbon dioxide underground in an effort to combat global warming may not be easy to do because of the potential for triggering small- to moderate-sized earthquakes, according to Stanford geophysicist Mark Zoback.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101213111447.htm

    “Think about how many wells and pipelines and how much infrastructure has been developed to exploit oil and gas resources over the last hundred years,” he said. “You need something of comparable scale and volume for carbon dioxide sequestration.”

  21. Prospace Environmentalist says:

    Latest progress report on solar plant that uses molten salt to store energy:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20025870-54.html

  22. Solar Jim says:

    Oh the weather outside is frightful . . . and profits from oil and gas delightful.

    What #3, Theisdaise said, and everyone else.

    So the Brits are going atomic. It is a “clean” machine. Just don’t step next to the irradiated fuel bundles or you will be dead in minutes, cleanly. Glad to know we are not alone in the US with an imploding empire of arrogance, ignorance and greed due to uranium and fossil “fuel” mining industries and their investment banksters. Hope the nukes don’t meltdown too. There is already plenty of that ahead.

    Just think, we have permanent debt of climate cataclysm and irradiation all indemnified and subsidized by western law. Makes one feel all warm and something fuzzy.

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) — Rubber climbed near a record as warnings about fresh rounds of heavy rainfall in Thailand raised supply concerns. The cash price remained at an all-time high.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-12-16/rubber-gains-as-thai-rains-may-hurt-output-record-cash-price.html

  24. catman306 says:

    Biochar update from Environment 360:

    09 DEC 2010: REPORT
    Refilling the Carbon Sink:
    Biochar’s Potential and Pitfalls
    The idea of creating biochar by burning organic waste in oxygen-free chambers — and then burying it — is being touted as a way to cool the planet. But while it already is being produced on a small scale, biochar’s proponents and detractors are sharply divided over whether it can help slow global warming.
    by dave levitan

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/refilling_the_carbon_sink_biochars_potential_and_pitfalls_/2349/

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Re Colombia

    BOGOTA Dec 16 (Reuters) – Colombia’s oil production rose 12.8 percent in November to 818,000 barrels per day (bpd), its highest level this year, the country’s state-run hydrocarbons agency said on Thursday.

    Output in November last year was 725,000 bpd.

    Colombia, Latin America’s No. 4 oil producer, is enjoying a boom in oil and mining investment, as violence from its long guerrilla war ebbs and foreign oil companies explore in areas once off limits because of security fears. http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFN1626807920101216

    Colombians are calling the flooding “Our Katrina”, after the collapse of a dike compounded the misery in the coastal region of Atlántico. http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2010/12/16/colombias-katrina-needs-fiscal-bail-out/

    BOGOTA, Dec. 16 (UPI) — Colombia faced a mounting toll of dead, injured and homeless in floods that swept through areas with more than 2 million inhabitants.

    More than 250 people were confirmed dead and many others missing as heavy rain battered the region for the second week.

    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency and promised recovery efforts would continue until all missing people are accounted for.

    Rescue teams reported shortages of drinking water, sanitation and dry elevation areas as they struggled to transport survivors to safety.

    Meteorological forecasts said Colombia could be in for a long haul — with mounting casualties, massive infrastructural damage and risk of disease — as it lay in the path of El Nino conditions that could last through February.

    Officials said that, in addition to the increasing loss of lives, material damage could exceed $5 billion. Many bridges and roads were washed away as the floods advanced. http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/12/16/Colombia-faces-rising-death-toll-in-floods/UPI-39551292534933/

    Another impact

    The seeds are sown from December to January in small plots (almacigas) sheltered from the sun, and the young plants when at 40–60 cm in height are placed in final planting holes (aspi), or if the ground is level, in furrows (uachos) in carefully weeded soil. The plants thrive best in hot, damp and humid locations, such as the clearings of forests; but the leaves most preferred are obtained in drier areas, on the hillsides. The leaves are gathered from plants varying in age from one and a half to upwards of forty years, but only the new fresh growth is harvested. They are considered ready for plucking when they break on being bent. The first and most abundant harvest is in March after the rainy season, the second is at the end of June, and the third in October or November. The green leaves (matu) are spread in thin layers on coarse woollen cloths and dried in the sun; they are then packed in sacks, which must be kept dry in order to preserve the quality of the leaves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca#Cultivation

    Between 1993 and 1999 Colombia became the main producer of coca in the world along with cocaine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca_production_in_Colombia

  26. Steve Rankin says:

    The Pembina Institute has a press release out – “Expert science panel confirms serious gaps in government oversight of oilsands development.” Limk is attached. Correction to post above. Canada’s TAR Sands are set to double in size (not increase 10 fold as I stated).

    http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2141

  27. Susan Anderson says:

    Yes, decentralized power structure. Thanks for reminding us.

  28. Colorado Bob says:

    Western Australia –

    HOMES and buildings are flooded and power poles flattened after almost a year’s rain drenched Carnarvon in just 24 hours.

    Since 9am yesterday Carnarvon, 900km north of Perth, has received a massive 204.8mm (8.06 in.)- just under the 226.7mm yearly average – and heavy rain is continuing to fall.

    The unprecedented deluge has smashed December rainfall records and severely affected fruit and vegetable crops.

    http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/monsoonal-low-system-brings-massive-rains-to-carnarvon-gascoyne/story-e6frg1rc-1225972596581

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    Proximity to freeways increases autism risk, study finds
    More research is needed, but the report suggests air pollution could be a factor.

    Children born to mothers who live close to freeways have twice the risk of autism, researchers reported Thursday. The study, its authors say, adds to evidence suggesting that certain environmental exposures could play a role in causing the disorder in some children.

    “This study isn’t saying exposure to air pollution or exposure to traffic causes autism,” said Heather Volk, lead author of the paper and a researcher at the Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “But it could be one of the factors that are contributing to its increase.” http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-autism-20101217,0,2040535.story

    Yet another reason to drive electric.

  30. fj3 says:

    World On the Edge, Lester Brown http://www.earth-policy.org/books/wote NetZero NYC by 2020. http://twitpic.com/3g6cjw Do it!