Thursday, February 25th, 2010
A rising Asian nation leverages labor advantages to adapt Western technology to lower cost fabrication, and its leading companies rise as no-frills leaders in an emerging global market.
Thanks to free trade policies – kept in place, in part, to satisfy Western consumer demand for the product in its most afforable form — the Asian nation finds a ready export market that helps to build a worldwide brand and return immense profits.
Then, given a generation to develop a domestic engineering and technical workforce worthy of their place in the industry, the Asian nation’s concerns soon come to surpass their Western competitors and they bypass the godfathers of the business in innovation and quality, while retaining an edge in affordability.
Ring any bells?
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Facing growing opposition from members of Congress, the Obama administration says it will gradually phase in controls on heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other large sources of CO2.
Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (at left), said that beginning early next year the EPA will regulate CO2 emissions from roughly 400 large emitters of greenhouse gases, mainly coal-fired power plants.
Other major sources of CO2, such as refineries and large factories, will be subject to EPA regulation in late 2011, Jackson said in a letter to eight moderate Democratic senators concerned about the effects of the regulations on their states.
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
The drive to extract and store CO2 from coal-fired power plants is gaining momentum, with the Obama administration backing the technology and the world’s first capture and sequestration project now operating in the U.S. Two questions loom: Will carbon capture and storage be affordable? And will it be safe?
On a placid bend of the Ohio River in West Virginia sit two coal-fired power plants. The Philip Sporn Plant boasts four boilers from the 1950s, surrounded by mountains of coal and a series of man-made lakes to contain the toxic residue of its coal-burning.
A faint haze emanates from its main smokestack, the only visible sign of the thousands of tons of acid-rain-forming sulfur dioxide, smog-forming nitrogen oxides, and climate-warming carbon dioxide it emits each day, a consequence of the plant’s complete lack of pollution-control technologies. The 1,100 megawatts of electricity it produces will never benefit from such controls, as they are too expensive to install on the multiple small boilers, according to the plant’s owner, American Electric Power.
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
CleanTechies is fortunate to have some of the sharpest minds in the energy and clean tech industries as regular readers, but even if you don’t have a Ph.D., you should be able to answer this quick math quiz: “Which price tag is cheaper, $8 billion or free?”
Don’t hurt yourselves!
On Tuesday, President Obama officially announced $8 billion in government loan guarantees for construction of two new nuclear plants in Georgia, the country’s first expansion of nukes in more than 30 years.
A day later, the Vermont state legislature officially began deliberations on the question of relicensure of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. While there are some transaction costs associated with keeping Vermont Yankee open past 2012, the cost is nowhere near $4 billion.
Given the commitment the president made to clean, domestic nuclear power just 24 hours earlier, you would expect the White House to jump right in on the question of relicensure in Vermont, right? Not so fast. (more…)
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
A study by scientists from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center refutes claims from climate change skeptics that data from U.S. weather stations was seriously flawed and exaggerated the rate of temperature increases.
The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, says that U.S. weather stations may have actually slightly underestimated temperature increases.
Anthony Watts, a former meteorologist who publishes the WattsUpWithThat blog, compiled photo evidence of what he considered poorly-located weather stations across the United States, including locations that could be influenced by artificial heat, such as those near parking lots and air conditioning systems. (more…)
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
We can’t successfully tackle climate change without changes to the corporate regime which has been in place in America since the Reagan presidency. That’s the underlying message of Charles Derber in his latest book, Greed to Green: Solving Climate Change and Remaking the Economy. It’s a message he delivers with directness in a book much more readable than I expected from an academic sociologist.
He accepts the position of scientists like James Hansen and others who point to the ominous dangers of tipping points in climate and conclude that we are already above a safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which they consider no more than 350 parts per million. It’s not a happy acceptance. “No sane person would wish it to be the scientific truth,” he writes.
Derber recounts the terrible difficulty he had, after realising with despair the seriousness of climate change, in dealing emotionally with the prospect of mass, collective death — “more difficult than dealing with my own personal death.”
The only good news he discerns is that the scientific truth may be spreading and leading to a tipping point in the world’s social and political awareness. (more…)
Monday, February 15th, 2010
“Sustainable development” has generated substantial buzz since the concept was brought into focus by the Brundtland Commission’s now famous 1987 report, Our Common Future. The Commission defined the concept as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Since then, the definition has been debated and adapted for specific purposes throughout policy, academic, governmental, and organizational circles. Many of these interpretations are only relevant to the circumstances in which they are applied. In the context of biomass and biofuels, sustainability standards are specific rules and criteria by which the production, transportation, and processing of feedstocks can be assessed for their environmental, social, and other values.
In the international community, sustainability guidelines for biomass have begun to emerge, but remain aspirational at best. While high oil prices, increasing pressures to mitigate climate change effects, and efforts to boost rural agricultural production throughout the world will continue to sustain support for the development of biomass and biofuel resources, environmental concerns will temper optimistic projections for the industry.
Monday, February 15th, 2010
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced it will mount a legal challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Steven J. Law, the chamber’s chief legal counsel, said the business group would not question the science behind global warming but rather would challenge the process by which the EPA decided it had the right to control carbon dioxide emissions as a threat to human health.
The Obama administration has said it would prefer that Congress pass a law regulating carbon emissions, but with the passage of such a law looking increasingly unlikely, a battle is shaping up over the EPA’s possible efforts to control CO2 emissions.
Sunday, February 14th, 2010
This post comes from Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, the founder of the San Francisco-based Interfaith Power & Light, a national campaign with affiliates in 30 states. The group is organizing the Valentine’s Weekend Preach-In on Global Warming.
Valentine’s Day typically conjures up images of roses and sweets for our loved ones, a time when we recognize the many virtues of romantic love. Yet this coming Valentine’s Day, leaders of communities of faith throughout the United States will be bringing forth a different kind of love — a deep, abiding love for God’s creation and our neighbors now threatened by the calamity of global climate change.
Hundreds of congregations of many faiths have signed up for a National Preach-In on Global Warming on Valentine’s Day weekend. We are showing our love for the poor, disadvantaged and most at-risk peoples and creatures of the world on this traditional day of love.
Friday, February 12th, 2010
We’re in for some climate chaos. The Copenhagen Accord means at least two to four degrees of warming over the next fifty years — and who knows how much “global weirding.” As greenhouse gases trap more heat, or energy, close to the earth, and that energy is used by large weather systems, which move faster and are more intense than ever.
This means more Category 5 hurricanes. More likelihood of Florida snow. My biggest concern about all this change? Eating. If crop yields drop 80 percent as they’re expected to, if we don’t adapt to a changing climate, I might get hungry.
So how do we produce food in a changing climate? How do we produce food with shortages of oil and fuel around the corner? Well we might start, like Joel Salatin’s family-owned Polyface Farm in Virginia, by decreasing inputs to the farm.