August 25, 2014

4th hottest July on record

This July was the fourth-hottest July on record, and 2014 so far is tied for the third-hottest January-July period on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The rankings, which take into account average temperatures on land and ocean surfaces across the globe, come after a string of heat records from this spring and summer. NOAA ranked June 2014 as the hottest June on record, with especially high ocean temperatures adding to the overall global heat, and May 2014 also ranked as the hottest May on record — the 39th consecutive May with warmer than average temperatures.

The Eastern half of the U.S. experienced lower-than-average temperatures this July, but the Western U.S. — along with much of the rest of the globe, was hotter than average. Warm temperatures in the Western U.S. combined with major drought in some places — California is in the midst of an extreme drought right now, and overall, the drought in the Western U.S. cost the U.S. $4 billion from January to May 2014.

Overall, July temperatures were 1.15°F above average for the globe. For comparison, the hottest July on record, which according to NOAA's measurements occurred in 1998, had temperatures that were 1.31°F higher than average.

Today is Earth Overshoot Day

Today is Earth Overshoot day and we're not even two thirds of the way through the year. That means we need 1 1/2 earths to sustain life on earth. 

When I was born, humans were using less than three quarters of the earth's resources. 

It has taken less than eight months for humanity to use up nature's entire budget for the year and go into ecological overshoot, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in North America, Europe and Asia.
Global Footprint Network tracks humanity's demand on the planet (Ecological Footprint) against nature's biocapacity, i.e., its ability to replenish the planet's resources and absorb waste, including CO2.  Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity's Footprint in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Since 2000, overshoot has grown, according to Global Footprint Network's calculations. Consequently, Earth Overshoot Day has moved from early October in 2000 to August 19th this year.
"Global overshoot is becoming a defining challenge of the 21st century. It is both an ecological and an economic problem," said Mathis Wackernagel, president of Global Footprint Network and the co-creator of the Ecological Footprint resource accounting metric. "Countries with resource deficits and low income are exceptionally vulnerable. Even high-income countries that have had the financial advantage to shield themselves from the most direct impacts of resource dependence need to realize that a long-term solution requires addressing such dependencies before they turn into a significant economic stress."
In 1961, humanity used just about three-quarters of the capacity Earth had available for generating food, fiber, timber, fish stock and absorbing greenhouse gases. Most countries had biocapacities larger than their own respective Footprints. By the early 1970s, global economic and demographic growth had increased humanity's Footprint beyond what the planet could renewably produce. We went into ecological overshoot.
Today, 86 percent of the world population lives in countries that demand more from nature than their own ecosystems can renew. According to Global Footprint Network's calculations, it would take 1.5 Earths to produce the renewable ecological resources necessary to support humanity's current Footprint. Moderate population, energy and food projections suggest that humanity would require the biocapacity of three planets well before mid-century. This may be physically unfeasible.
The costs of our ecological overspending are becoming more evident by the day. The interest we are paying on that mounting ecological debt in the form of deforestation, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and the build-up of CO2 in our atmosphere also comes with mounting human and economic costs.
Governments who ignore resource limits in their decision-making might put their long-term economic performance at risk. In times of persistent overshoot, those countries running biocapacity deficits will find that reducing their resource dependence is aligned with their self-interest. Conversely, countries that are endowed with biocapacity reserves have an incentive to preserve these ecological assets that constitute a growing competitive advantage in a world of tightening ecological constraints.

Renewables set new record in Germany

Renewable energy generators delivered 28 per cent of Germany's power production during the first half of this year, according to new figures, marking the latest milestone for the country as it continues its high-profile Energiewende low carbon transition.
Analysis by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy published this week reveals that wind and solar power projects significantly increased their levels of generation in the first half of 2014, compared with the same period last year, thanks to a combination of mild temperatures, high winds and increased capacity.
In the first half of the year, solar and wind power plants met around 17 per cent of Germany's electricity demand - or 45 TWh. A further 11 per cent was provided by biomass and hydropower plants, meaning that renewables met more than a quarter of power demand.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel energy plants all saw a decline in generation compared with last year. Gas fired power plants in particular produced a quarter less power than in the first half of 2013, and half as much as in the first half of 2010, marking a declining trend.
Production from brown coal powered plants fell by four per cent and hard coal dropped by 11 per cent compared with last year.
Max Hildebrandt, renewable energy industry expert at Germany Trade & Invest, said the figures demonstrated the success of the government's policies to drive up renewables capacity.
"The reoccurring records for renewables in Germany demonstrate the incredible success of Germany's EEG legislation," he said.
The news comes in the same week as the UK set a new summer record for wind power output and research suggested the UK's solar capacity has passed the 5GW mark for the first time. [Business Green]

Environmental News Digest

Mercury Levels In The Ocean Are Now 3 Times Higher Than Before The Industrial Revolution - Largely the result of burning and mining coal 

Drilling Company Owner Gets 28 Months In Prison For Dumping Fracking Waste Into River

New Study Finds Tornado Outbreaks Could Have a Climate Change Assist -

Watch John Holdren's (Obama's Science Advisor) excellent 3 minute video on the link between wildfires and Climate Change - Very Powerful

Canadians Can't Drink Their Water After 1.3 Billion Gallons Of Mining Waste Flows Into Rivers

Tesla Trumps Toyota: Why Hydrogen Cars Can't Compete With Pure Electric Cars - 

Top PR Firms say - We Won't Work For Climate Denier Clients

Toledo Water Ban Lifted But Test Results Kept Secret 

Beijing cuts coal consumption 7%

Beijing cut coal consumption seven per cent in the first half of this year as the Chinese capital battles the smog that has besieged it over recent years.
By 2017, it aims to pare consumption to less than 10 million tonnes a year compared to the 19 tonnes consumed last year and reports last week suggested coal could be ditched entirely by 2020.
Public unrest over Beijing's toxic air led the central government to declare a nationwide "war on pollution", which has seen city authorities close or relocate hundreds of factories, replace aging coal-fired plants with gas-fired plants and renewable energy, raise vehicle emissions standards, and introduce London-style congestion charges. [Business Green

Drillers Illegally using Diesel Fuel to Frac

new report charges that several oil and gas companies have been illegally using diesel fuel in their hydraulic fracturing operations, and then doctoring records to hide violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The report,  by the Environmental Integrity Project, found that between 2010 and July 2014 at least 351 wells were fracked by 33 different companies using diesel fuels without a permit. The Integrity Project, an environmental organization based in Washington, D.C., said it used the industry-backed database, FracFocus, to identify violations and to determine the records had been retroactively amended by the companies to erase the evidence.
The Safe Drinking Water Act requires drilling companies to obtain permits when they intend to use diesel fuel in their fracking operations. As well, the companies are obligated to notify nearby landowners of their activity, report the chemical and physical characteristics of the fluids used, conduct water quality tests before and after drilling, and test the integrity of well structures to ensure they can withstand high injection pressures. Diesel fuel contains a high concentration of carcinogenic chemicals including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, and they disperse easily in groundwater. [Clean Techies]

Fracking Occurring in Drinking Water

Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists.

Though researchers cautioned their study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, employed at two Wyoming geological formations showed no direct evidence of water-supply contamination, their work is certain to roil the public health debate over the risks of the controversial oil and gas production process.
Fracking involves high-pressure injection of millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to crack geological formations and tap previously unreachable oil and gas reserves. Fracking fluids contain a host of chemicals, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins.
"Thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and millions of gallons of fluids containing numerous inorganic and organic additives were injected directly into these two formations during hundreds of stimulation events," concluded Dominic DiGiulio and Robert Jackson of Stanford's School of Earth Sciences in a presentation Tuesday at the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco. [LA Times]