December 30, 2011
December 29, 2011
Watch How 2011 Became a 'Mind-Boggling' Year of Extreme Weather on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
PBS deserves a special mention for producing a segment looking at how global warming is influencing extreme weather events. Jeff Masters, co-founder of the Weather Underground, explained :
“In one year, we had three of the most remarkable extreme weather events in history of the U.S.
So, it just boggles my mind that we had three extreme weather events that matched those events in U.S. history.”
December 21, 2011
Black & Veatch has produced a report showing that coal fired electricity generating capacity will decline from 45% to 15% of total generating capacity by 2036.
by Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
From historic efforts to cut pollution from American automobiles to strong measures to prevent power plant pollution from crossing state lines, 2011 was already a banner year for clean air and the health of the American people. And the EPA is closing out the year with our biggest clean air protection yet.
Last week, we finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, a rule that will protect millions of families and, especially, children from air pollution. Before this rule, there were no national standards that limited the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases power plants across the country could release into the air we breathe. Mercury is a neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children, and emissions of mercury and other air toxics have been linked to damage to developing nervous systems, respiratory illnesses and other diseases. MATS will require power plants to install emissions controls that will also reduce particle pollution, which has been linked to premature death and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
As a result, MATS will provide between $37 billion and $90 billion in health benefits for the American people. Once the rule is fully implemented in 2016, it will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 cases of aggravated asthma among children between six and 18 years old.
That last point is especially significant to me as a mother. I understand the importance of MATS in very profound ways, because both of my sons have struggled with asthma. Fifteen years ago, my youngest son spent his first Christmas in the hospital fighting to breathe. Like any parent of a child with asthma, I can tell you that the benefits of clean air protections like MATS are not just statistics and abstract concepts.
What we’re really talking about with all those numbers above are pregnant mothers who can rest a little easier knowing their children won’t be exposed to harmful levels of mercury in critical development stages. We are talking about reducing the levels of mercury in the fish that we and our kids eat every day. We are talking about future generations growing up healthier because there is less toxic pollution in the air they breathe.
Find out how MATS will protect health in your state.
What we’re also talking about with MATS are thousands of new opportunities for American workers. Not only will MATS provide health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance, it will also support jobs and innovation for our economy.
To meet the MATS standards over the next several years, many power plants will have to upgrade their operations with modern and widely available pollution control technology. There are about 1,100 coal-fired units that are covered by MATS, and about 40 percent do not use advanced pollution controls to limit emissions. Increased demand for scrubbers and other advanced pollution controls will mean increased business for American companies that lead the way in producing pollution control technology.
But that’s just the start. Power plants making upgrades will need workers to build, install, operate and maintain the pollution controls. As the CEO of one of the largest coal-burning utilities in the country recently said about cutting emissions by installing pollution control technology, “Jobs are created in the process – no question about that.” The EPA estimates that the demands for workers will support 46,000 short-term construction jobs and 8,000 long-term jobs.
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will protect millions of families and children from harmful and costly air pollution, provide the American people with health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance, and support job creation and innovation that are good for our economy. Families across the country – including my own – will benefit from the simple fact of being able to breathe cleaner air. That is what environmental protection and the work of the EPA is all about.
In this holiday season as we gather with our friends and families, Americans can take pride in the gift of clean air. Our children and future generations will have healthier air to breathe because of MATS and this historic year for clean air protection.
About the author: Lisa P. Jackson is the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
December 20, 2011
At first glance, the declaration that the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors are now in a state of “cold shutdown” and “stable” sounds like some rare good news from the disaster zone. Not at all. As we all know, first impressions can be deceptive.
The industry definition of “cold shutdown” means that the temperature inside a nuclear reactor has stabilized below 95℃ from the hellish temperatures of the nuclear fission process. In the case of Fukushima, this suggests the crisis is over. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the Japanese authorities have cheated by redefining “cold shutdown” to suit the situation at Fukushima. Only operating nuclear reactors can be put into a state of “cold shutdown”. Reactors that have suffered meltdowns – like those at Fukushima – cannot be. The 260 tons of nuclear fuel inside the Fukushima reactors melted and burned through the steel floors of the containment vessels and into the thick concrete under pads. The melted fuel is far from under control. This means the temperature inside the reactor can’t be regulated by conventional means. Nobody at Fukushima actually knows what state this highly radioactive molten fuel is in or what temperature it is at because it’s obviously far too dangerous to go in and find out.
Also, tens of thousands of tons of water that was pumped into the reactors in the attempt to cool them remains inside and is highly radioactive. The authorities have no idea what to do with it. It’s leaking into the environment with some of it reaching the Pacific Ocean. Last week, Fukushima’s operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) had to abandon plans to dump it in the ocean after protests by local fishermen. Right now, there’s nowhere for it to go, other than to leak into the sea and groundwater.
So, we don’t have a “cold shutdown” at Fukushima.
On the eve of the “cold shutdown” announcement last week, undercover reporter Tomohiko Suzuki told a chilling story of conditions for workers at the Fukushima plant. “Absolutely no progress is being made,” he says.
A new study released this week by Navigant Consulting and prepared for the American Wind Energy Association finds that an expiration of the production tax credit could cause the loss of up to 37,000 jobs.
“It’s pretty cool that I get to do this every day,” says Crawford. “The wind industry has been able to bring me and my wife back close to home.”
But with national political leaders dragging their feet, they threaten these good-paying, middle-class jobs in America’s heartland. That is the true price of inconsistency in the clean energy policy.
Ayelet Waldman says "My dream is that before Congress considers environmental legislation... they think to themselves first and foremost 'What are the mothers going to say?'"
She asks “How dare they poison MY children? How dare they poison YOUR children?”
U.S. light bulb manufacturers are displeased that Republican lawmakers have delayed efforts to introduce more efficient bulbs, a move that was supposed to have taken effect January 1.
Manufacturers like General Electric, Philips, and Osram Sylvania have been planning for four years to meet the new efficiency standards, which would have required incandescent bulbs to be 30 percent more energy-efficient.
But in negotiating a year-end spending bill last week, Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate included language that blocks the Energy Department from enforcing those rules.
The National Electric Manufacturers Association has been urging lawmakers not to delay enforcement of the new efficiency standards, arguing that light bulb makers have been planning to introduce new, more efficient bulbs since the passage of an energy law in 2007 under President George W. Bush.
Renewing our electricity system creates the ultimate clean energy carrier that will power our passenger cars and light trucks in addition to our buildings. And, thanks to innovation in maturing renewable technologies—like wind turbines and solar photovoltaics—the cost is rapidly becoming competitive with fossil-fuel burning alternatives.
The latest estimate is that some 18.8 million square kilometres of northern soils hold about 1,700 billion tonnes of organic carbon4 — the remains of plants and animals that have been accumulating in the soil over thousands of years. That is about four times more than all the carbon emitted by human activity in modern times and twice as much as is present in the atmosphere now.
In northern Alaska, Dr. Romanovsky said, permafrost is warming rapidly but is still quite cold. In the central part of the state, much of it is hovering just below the freezing point and may be no more than a decade or two from widespread thawing.
The permafrost carbon thus represents a dangerous amplifying feedback or vicious cycle whereby warming leads to accelerated emissions, which leads to further warming.
That's especially true since sea ice loss in the Arctic is happening faster than every major climate model projected — and accelerated Arctic warming and permafrost loss was linked to ice loss in a 2008 study by leading tundra experts.
We find that simulated western Arctic land warming trends during rapid sea ice loss are 3.5 times greater than secular 21st century climate-change trends.
A troubling trend has emerged recently: Wildfires are increasing across much of the north, and early research suggests that extensive burning could lead to a more rapid thaw of permafrost.
December 16, 2011
U.S. solar industry is on a roll, with unprecedented growth in 2011. Solar industry reports a booming third quarter, 140% higher than Q3 2010. - http://lat.ms/tDvvVX
CPS Energy to build 400MW solar installation in San Antonio - It has received many bids at prices substantially lower than expected. http://bit.ly/rvKABt
China boosts solar power capacity plan by 50% to 15 GW by 2015! Reuters http://bit.ly/uqqZ1J
GENEVA—A new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned Monday that global warming is likely to become completely irreversible if no successful effort is made to slow down the trend before 2006.
Unless greenhouse-gas emissions are drastically reduced by then, the report concludes, it will be too late to avoid inflicting a grave environmental catastrophe upon future generations.
"We have absolutely no time to waste," said Dr. William Tumminelli, lead author of the report, which stresses it is utterly crucial the world cut its carbon footprint in half by the year 2000. "If we wait until 1998 or even 1995 to really start doing something about climate change, our planet's rising temperature will already have set in motion a series of devastating and irreparable long-term consequences. We need to have strict international rules in place well ahead of 2006 or, to be blunt, many of the earth's inhabitants will be doomed."
"I think the report is a bit reactionary, and perhaps even politically motivated." said Arthur Bainbridge, a climate policy specialist based in Washington. "Plenty of alternative models have estimated 2008 or even 2010 as the absolute point of no return."
From the Onion - A little climate humor
From the Onion - A little climate humor