Climate News Roundup 8/1/2016

Remember COP21, aka the 2015 Paris Climate Accords?  Here’s an update on the world’s progress in meeting the goals, and there’s good and not-so-good news (from Renewable Energy World):  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/07/part-i-it-ain-t-over-until-it-s-over-a-cop21-reality-check.html

This week’s news about renewable energy covered many aspects, but here are two articles, also from Renewable Energy World, about some municipal approaches to energy efficiency and clean energy that could have some applicability close to home (think:  Harrisonburg and its Harrisonburg Electric Commission):
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/ugc-content/2016/07/25/city-power-play-report-part-1–municipal-utilities.html
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/ugc-content/2016/07/28/city-power-play-report-part-2–communities-choosing-clean-energy.html

From a Virginia blog, Bacon’s Rebellion, comes an opinion piece from James Bacon about solar–its potential and how Virginia’s stance may put our state way behind as solar becomes cheaper and more available:  http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2016/07/solar-technology-advances-solar-policy-backtracks.html

From another Virginia blog, The Energy Fix, we get Jim Pierobon’s take on a lawsuit challenging the 2015 Virginia legislature’s law restricting the State Corporation Commission’s authority to set utility rates.
http://www.theenergyfix.com/2016/07/26/fast-fix-utility-customers-in-virginia-take-their-challenge-of-a-2015-law-to-the-states-supreme-court/#sthash.KcfATQZb.dpbs
http://southeastenergynews.com/2016/07/15/constitutional-test-looms-over-who-sets-utility-rates-in-virginia/

Here are two admittedly wonky stories from the Washington Post about climate change effects, giving some details on recent scientific reports.  One is about gravity’s effect on melting sea ice and the other provides a graphic illustration of the effects of global warming since 1850.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/27/a-stunning-prediction-of-climate-science-and-basic-physics-may-now-be-coming-true/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/28/these-climate-spirals-perfectly-illustrate-the-human-hand-in-global-climate-change/

Speaking of wonky, here’s a link to a NOAA web site that will give you climate resilience information for a given location.  You may want to try it for, say, Rockingham County, and then take a gander at the projected temperatures between 2020 and 2080:  https://toolkit.climate.gov/climate-explorer2/

This week brought three articles in the Washington Post about water–as a potential source of renewable energy, how human behavior risks harm to drinking water, and how lack of it may lead to conflict.  Also, this week James Cameron released a 5 1/2 minute “short” called “Not Reality TV” that shows, among other things, climate change’s nexus to water; I’ve included also a link to the National Geo web site for “Years of Living Dangerously”, of which the Cameron short is a part.  (Coincidentally, I recently viewed the 1st of several episodes from a chillingly prophetic and not-at-all uplifting 2007 documentary called “The Future of Water” that explores these same themes; check it out if you’re interested.)  And no series of items on water would be complete without one on flooding, this one from the Ohio Valley ReSource; Ohio, you are no doubt aware, is a neighbor of WV (so, no, this isn’t a story about sea level rise which, as it happens, is known to many VA legislators as recurrent flooding).
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/26/the-surprisingly-bright-future-of-americas-overlooked-renewable-energy-source-water/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/26/the-way-were-damaging-the-environment-may-also-be-costing-us-our-drinking-water/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/07/25/how-climate-disasters-can-drive-violent-conflict-around-the-world/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wJJk-kVjWg
http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/
http://ohiovalleyresource.org/2016/07/22/flood-next-time-warming-raises-risk-disaster/

From Commonwealth Magazine (no, not VA; it’s that other one) comes an oped by Synapse Principal Economist Liz Stanton on New England’s clean energy leadership.  Too bad VA isn’t part of that leadership, but Climate Nexus featured a Southeast Energy article about the July 23 “March on the Mansion” (that’s VA’s governor’s home).  And the Daily Climate provided a link to a Richmond TV station’s coverage.
http://commonwealthmagazine.org/opinion/new-england-is-a-leader-in-fighting-climate-change/
http://southeastenergynews.com/2016/07/22/with-term-running-out-activists-push-virginia-governor-on-fossil-fuels/
http://wric.com/2016/07/23/protesters-march-to-governors-mansion-over-environmental-issues-in-virginia/

Shakespeare, climate change, and a carbon tax!  Huh?  Read this oped from The Daily Climate and a reader’s response in iambic pentameter.  Unrelated to two of these three subjects, but noteworthy nonetheless, The Guardian tells us that Canada is getting ready to put a price on carbon.
http://www.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2016/july/to-tax-or-not-to-tax2014that-is-the-question
http://www.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2016/july/carbon-tax-shakespeare
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/28/canada-emissions-climate-change-justin-trudeau-corporate-business

The Guardian reported on China’s coal peak; some scientists see it as a major milestone:  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/25/china-coal-peak-hailed-turning-point-climate-change-battle

Speaking of coal, OH is not just worried about WV’s flooding.  As this article in Midwest Energy News points out, First Energy is closing coal plants and wants its customers to pay the freight:  http://midwestenergynews.com/2016/07/28/as-firstenergy-announces-closures-bailout-request-keeps-growing/

Remember Keystone XL?  And of course VA has its own pipeline issues.  Here’s some discouraging news from Climate Progress about a new pipeline’s approval in the Midwest and from Inside Climate News about how U.S. planned new pipelines threaten our climate goals:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/07/28/3802907/bakken-pipeline-gets-full-approval/
https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28072016/natural-gas-pipeline-expansion-fracking-fossil-fuels-threatens-us-climate-change-goals

Politics has been a hot topic all week; here’s one item.  Climate Nexus reported the following about the two parties’ platform’s climate-change-related provisions and also gave links to many news items about this.
GOP, Democratic Platforms Polar Opposites on Climate: Side-by-side comparisons of the Republican and Democratic party platforms show that the parties’ stances differ almost completely on key climate and energy issues. The Democratic platform calls for implementing the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and supports renewable energy, while the Republican platform avows to do away with CPP and supports “clean” coal. The two presidential nominees also hold differing viewpoints. GOP nominee Donald Trump is not a “believer of global warming” and wants to “cancel” the Paris Agreement while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton calls climate change “one of the defining threats of our times” and aims to cut US carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. At present, neither candidate support a carbon tax but Clinton’s campaign said yesterday that she is open to having a conversation if Congress wanted to implement a carbon tax.  (News: Inside Climate News, Carbon Brief,VOA News, Politico Pro $, The Hill, E&E News $, National Journal $. Commentary: USA Today, James Bruggers column; Wall Street Journal, Karen Alderman Harbert op-ed $)”

This week brought a plethora of items about wildfires, drought, algae blooms and rising seas, but we’ll save these doom and gloom stories for future roundups.  Unfortunately, there are sure to be more of them in our future.

These news items have been compiled by Joy Loving, member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

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