Energy and Global Warming News for May 12: Australian region loses 95% of rice harvest to drought, floods

Drought and floods cut rice harvest back 95%!

Australia continues to suffer under the effects of climate change as a food shortages are added to its ever increasing list of woes (see also “Australia today offers horrific glimpse of U.S. Southwest, much of planet, post-2040, if we don’t slash emissions soon” and “Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in”).

The rice harvest has been ravaged by both drought and flooding, with the NSW Riverina expected to deliver just 5 per cent of its normal output.

About 65,000 tonnes are expected to be harvested this year in the nation’s rice growing heartland — down from 1.2 million tonnes in a typical year — while trial crops in northeast NSW have been destroyed by heavy rainfall. Mike Hedditch, from the ricegrower-owned company SunRice, said so far 56,000 tonnes of paddy had come in.


‘We expect harvest to wrap up with receives of around 65,000 tonnes,’ he said.

Early forecasts for a 75,000-tonne crop in the Riverina were not realized, after a heat wave in February damaged flowering.

In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars

(follow-up: Creating a ‘Car-Free’ Community)

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” “” except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park “” large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

Waxman to huddle with House Dems today in preparation for markup

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is expected to outline details of a major global warming and energy bill later today during a closed-door meeting with his fellow Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Waxman, the panel chairman, wants to get members up to speed ahead of votes next week on a comprehensive bill that includes a cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gases and a nationwide renewable electricity standard. But sources on and off Capitol Hill yesterday said they do not expect Waxman to release legislative text until later this week, leaving lawmakers on both sides with only a narrow window to review the proposal before voting on amendments.

Green Investment Funds Look to Asia

At a Sustainable Industries breakfast meeting in San Francisco last week, Anup Jacob, a founding partner of the Virgin Green Fund, a renewable energy investment fund launched in tandem with Richard Brandson’s Virgin Group, noted that many renewable energy and cleantech start-ups are limping along with subsidies from the government stimulus package, which will run out in 2010.

The outlook on green investing in China, however, looks markedly different. Environmental protection and energy savings are still fairly new ideas in emerging Asian markets, so these sectors have a huge development potential. And unlike in the West, the fact that the Chinese government is supporting the growth of its green economy appears to be boosting the confidence of foreign investors.

China mulls 3 trillion yuan spending for renewable energy

China is considering investing a more than 3 trillion yuan ($440 billion) in the renewable energy sector by 2020, an official with the National Energy Administration said on Tuesday.

The administration is drafting a stimulus plan for the industry that will noticeably raise the development targets for wind and solar power, Liang Zhipeng, an official with the New Energy and Renewable Energy Department under the administration, told an industry conference.

The Razing of Appalachia: Mountaintop Removal Revisited

Over the past two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has obliterated or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried more than 1,000 miles of streams. Now, the Obama administration is showing signs it plans to crack down on this destructive practice.

Concentration Solar Power Module Integrates Into Side And Roof Of Buildings

A concentration solar power module that produces heat, cold and electricity and that can be integrated to fa§ades or building roofs constitutes the new patent obtained by the University of Lleida.

This thermal-photovoltaic modular system has a solar concentration of 10 suns, that is, it only needs a tenth part of a standard system’s active surface to produce the same energy, be it electricity, heat, or both simultaneously. Besides the reduction in the surface of used solar cells and the cost reduction this implies, this new technology can generate cold by connecting a heat pump to the system.

Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten