Climate News Roundup 7/3/2015

  • On June 13 I alerted you to the new series on climate change, The Climate 25, being launched by The Weather Channel. The project compiled short (~2 min) videos by each of 25 people presenting their views on climate change. You can watch all 25 of the short videos starting here.
  • Ivy Main has a new post about Appalachian Power Company’s approach to customers who wish to purchase solar power from third party providers. Hint: Its not pretty.
  • We’ve all heard that it would take several planet Earths to support the global population in a manner similar to way we live. But what if we all lived in a very efficient, modern eco-village with a small carbon footprint? Samuel Alexander explores this question in a post on The Conversation.
  • Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, much stronger than carbon dioxide. Currently, leakage rates in the U.S. are thought by many to be sufficient to call into question the benefits of burning natural gas rather than coal for electricity generation. Thus, if we are to benefit climate-wise from the fracking boom, leakage rates must be reduced. To better focus attention on the worst methane polluters, Energywire has evaluated where various oil and gas companies stand.
  • As part of his new assignment to report on climate change, John Sutter of CNN visited the Marshall Islands and filed this report. The Marshall Islanders are not in good shape and many are already migrating to other countries, including the U.S. In fact, climate change, with its associated sea level rise, is considered likely to be a major factor contributing to future human migration.
  • The U.S. has an aging power grid designed well before solar and other forms of distributed energy were conceived of. ClearPath examines our power grid and its vulnerabilities. Lela Guccione of Rocky Mountain Institute addresses the question of what type of grid we will have in the future. Will we take the path to an integrated grid or will we choose grid defection? For us in Virginia the question comes down to which path Dominion Virginia Power and the State Corporation Commission choose. To get some idea, you might read Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan.
  • After a seven year environmental and health review, New York state has banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. In another regulatory action, the EPA moved on Thursday to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), refrigerants that are also potent greenhouse gases, in some cases almost 15,000 times as powerful as carbon dioxide.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision on the EPA mercury regulation has had two major effects, one direct and the other indirect. The direct effect, of course, is to slow the process of limiting mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The indirect effect, which may turn out to be even more important, is to embolden opponents of the Obama administrations climate agenda.
  • “What is community resilience? How can you know if your community is resilient? Is there a relationship between resilience and justice? What resources have proven particularly useful in actually building resilience?” These are some of the questions that the website Resilience explores in a series of interviews with a li>
  • Brazil, the U.S., and China all announced new goals Tuesday to curb climate change. Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson of The Washington Post analyse why those commitments are important.
  • As of June 30, 45 large active wildfires were burning from Alaska to Arizona and as far east as Colorado. In addition to loss of property and forests, these fires will have wide-ranging impacts, including air pollution, soil erosion impacting water supplies, and exacerbating climate change. Natasha Geiling discusses all of these impacts here. Meanwhile, the U.S. Interior Department is studying how to make forest ecosystems more resilient to fire.
  • Yet another scientific paper has been published this year showing a weakening in the Atlantic overturning circulation (i.e., Gulf Stream). This paper examines the impacts of the loss of polar sea ice. One impact of a slowing circulation is a warming of the waters off the east coast of the U.S., causing greater sea level rise in places like Norfolk.
  • Siemens is opening a plant to convert electricity from wind turbines into hydrogen gas. This provides a method of energy storage as well as a means of obtaining hydrogen for fuel cell powered cars.
  • A new study just reported on in the journal Science concludes that global warming poses serious threats to marine ecosystems and the millions of humans that depend on them.
  • Speaking at an event for the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Prince Charles of Great Britain stated that “profound changes” in the world’s economic system are needed to avoid environmental catastrophe from climate change. The prince said that “the irresistible power of ‘business as usual’ has so far defeated every attempt to ‘rewire’ our economic system in ways that will deliver what we so urgently need.”
These news items have been compiled by Les Grady, member and former chair of the CAAV steering committee. He is a licensed professional engineer (retired) who taught environmental engineering at Purdue and Clemson Universities and engaged in private practice with CH2M Hill, the world’s largest environmental engineering consulting firm. Since his retirement in 2003 he has devoted much of his time to the study of climate science and the question of global warming and makes himself available to speak to groups about this subject. More here.
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