May 19, 2013

Tesla reports profit

Tesla Motors, the electric car company, announced on Wednesday reported net income of $11.2 million, Tesla reported revenue of $561.8 million on record sales of 4,900 of its top-of-the-line Model S sedans. That surpassed the company's forecast by more than 250 vehicles and prompted the automaker to raise its 2013 forecast. It now expects to sell about 21,000 of its Model S vehicles by the end of this year. 

Climate News

Shell Oil's CTO says that "the time of easy oil and gas is gone" as the drillers look for new technology enabling them to extract oil from extremely deep and scalding water in the Gulf. [Houston Chronicle's Fuel Fix]

Exxon will spend $4 billion to develop the "technically challenging" oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. [Bloomberg]

Senator Lisa Murkowski is pushing the Interior Department to clearly and quickly issue regulations on Arctic drilling as spring starts and the ice continues to melt. [The Hill]

The American Petroleum Institute is pushing the EPA to slow down regulations on sulfur emissions from automobiles. [The Hill]

Progressive and environmental groups are pulling their Facebook ads over the revelations that Mark Zuckerberg's political group has been airing pro-Keystone and Arctic drilling ads. [Politico]

As hurricane season approaches, President Obama meets with electric utility officials today to discuss what everyone has learned since Sandy. [The Hill]

Vice President Joe Biden tells an activist that he he was in the minority in the Administration, but he agrees Keystone should not be approved. [Buzzfeed]

Radioactive water leaks into Lake Michigan

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant was shut down after officials discovered a growing leak in a water storage tank the previous day. Safety investigators reported that 79 gallons of radioactive water from the 250,000-gallon tank leaked into a basin holding thousands of gallons of nonradioactive water. The same tank sprang a leak in 2012.

The plant is in Van Buren County's Covert Township. It has been under heightened attention from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission because of a series of breakdowns over two years.

The leak rate went from about 1 gallon on Friday to about 90 gallons Saturday, leading to the shutdown.

Palisades is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy. It has been shut down nine times since September 2011.

Why Climate Change is not an Environmental Issue

Washington Monthly's Ryan Louis Cooper makes the case that climate change is not an environmental issue. Interesting perspective.

He does a good job underlining the reality that while climate change does concern the environment, it concerns a lot more than that:
"I'm not saying that climate change isn't a major threat to the current biosphere (it definitely is), nor am I saying that other species don't have moral worth, but the point is that there is not some kind of easy trade-off between humanity and nature. When we dammed Glen Canyon to create Lake Powell, it was a monstrous crime against all that is sacred, but we humans continued to live our lives largely without disruption. Climate change, on the other hand, is a direct, existential threat to the biosphere AND all of human civilization. It's just too big to fit into something like environmentalism."

Wind power lowers costs and greenhouse gas emissions

New report finds that wind energy in the mid-Atlantic region will lower electricity prices, save ratepayer's $6.9 billion dollars, and lower greenhouse gas emissions to help fight climate change by 14%.

Adding more wind power to the grid in the PJM region can lower gas and coal consumption and reduce regional wholesale energy market prices, saving nearly $7 billion per year in the mid-2020s, according to a new study conducted by Synapse Energy Economics on behalf of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG). The report found that doubling the wind generation already planned in the region would lower fuel costs and drive down prices by $1.74 per megawatt hour (MWh) in the largest wholesale competitive energy market in the world, PJM, which includes all or parts of 13 states and Washington, D.C. The savings also extend into the regions interconnected with PJM.

Mountain of Tar Sands Waste builds in Detroit

The Koch Brothers are building a mountain of tar sands waste in Detroit. [NY Times]

Detroit residents are now see a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River where they used to see lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. 

Detroit's ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada's tar sands boom.

And no one knows what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

30 Million Flee their homes in 2012

A new report shows that over 30 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2012 by climate-related extreme weather disasters … [Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Publications]

It is increasingly likely that hundreds of millions of people per year will be displaced from their homelands in the near future as a result of global warming. 

That must be what Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil means when he says "We'll adapt."

"Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around -- we'll adapt to that. It's an engineering problem and it has engineering solutions," Tillerson said. 

Bill McKibben comments - "Crop production areas are what folks from Vermont call farms." 

Wildfires - The new norm in California

In remarks delivered to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's aviation management unit in Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown warned that earlier wildfire seasons will become the new norm thanks to climate change. [LATimes]
[California] firefighters have responded to about twice the average number of wildfires so far this year – more than 1,100 in all. 
"Our climate is changing, the weather is becoming more intense," Brown said in an airplane hangar filled with trucks, airplanes and helicopters used by the state to fight fires. "It's going to cost a lot of money and a lot of lives. 
"The big issue (is) how do we adapt," Brown said ,"because it doesn't look like the people who are in charge are going to do what it takes to really slow down this climate change, so we are going to have to adapt. And adapting is going to be very, very expensive."

May 14, 2013

Climate Change Milestone - 400ppm

For homo sapiens, the epochal news is that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human existence, which continues a 200-year rise that is now accelerating. [Guardian]
Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. The Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400 m and far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard.
"I wish it weren't true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we'll hit 450 ppm within a few decades," said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which operates the Hawaiian observatory.

Keeling Curve

Where can you invest $1 and get $10 in return?

Turns out the answer is the EPA. Surprised? 

It's Official. 

OMB's annual report to Congress on the benefits and costs of all major rules adopted by most federal agencies over the past 10 years shows the EPA has the highest return on investment of any agency in the US Government.  

Tesla Model S - Best Car We've Ever Tested says Consumer Reports

Wow. That's a pretty bold statement. Watch their video about the Model S here.

Here is the short summary for those of you without a Consumer Reports subscription.

Tesla Motors also reported net income of $11.2 million and revenue of $561.8 million on record sales of 4,900 of its top-of-the-line Model S sedans. That surpassed the company's forecast by more than 250 vehicles and prompted the automaker to raise its 2013 forecast. It now expects to sell about 21,000 of its Model S vehicles by the end of this year. 

Weather Whiplash

Weather Whiplash in the Midwest: a 70° warm-up in just one day

It's weather whiplash says underground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt in his latest post. After record May cold and snows hit the Great Lakes over the weekend, a ferocious May heat wave is in full bloom today. Several cities are poised to experience their greatest 1-day May temperature swing on record today. Chicago bottomed out at 36° on Monday morning, and this afternoon's high is predicted to be 88°--a spectacular 52° change in temperature in just one day. The all-time record for a one-day warm-up in the Windy City during May is 50°, set May 1, 1992. A 50°+ temperature swing is also expected in Minneapolis, where the high today is predicted to be 94°, coming on the heels of a 41° low Monday morning. The most dramatic "Weather Whiplash", though, came in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where the mercury hit 22° on May 12, then shot up to 92° on May 13--an astonishing 70° rise in just one day! 

Weather Whiplash in the Southeast: 3.4" of rain after an extreme drought

The remarkable storm that brought record-breaking May snows and cold to the Midwest last week continues to spin over the Southeast U.S. The storm is unleashing flooding rains, bringing a case of “Weather Whiplash” to Georgia: flooding where extreme drought had existed just a few months ago. The storm formed when a loop in the jet stream of extreme amplitude got cut off from the main flow of the jet over the weekend, forming a “cutoff low” that is now slowly spinning down as it drifts east over the Southeast U.S. On Sunday, the storm dumped 3.4″ of rain on Atlanta, Georgia–that city’s sixth heaviest May calendar day rain storm since record keeping began in 1878. Remarkably, the rains were also able to bring rivers in Central Georgia above flood stage. This portion of the country was in “exceptional drought”–the worst category of drought–at the beginning of 2013.

What has 8,600 horsepower and regenerative braking?

The new energy saving Amtrak electric train engines. 

The locomotives are capable of speeds up to 125 mph on Northeast Regional service between Boston and Washington, D.C. and can do 110 mph on the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. The new engines can do 125 mph while pulling up to 18 railcars.

In addition to power, the new 8,600-hp locomotives feature regenerative braking that can return up to 5 MW of electricity back into the grid through the catenary. According to Amtrak, the new trains are also more efficient and could save over $300 million in energy costs over the next two decades. [Wired]

May 1, 2013

10 billion gallons of sewage

Hurricane Sandy brought sewage-filled floodwaters to Breezy Point
Over 10 billion gallons of raw and partly treated sewage gushed into waterways, onto streets and into homes as a result of Hurricane Sandy. 

Alyson Kenward, the principal author of the report, said in a teleconference that rising seas and strengthening storms, a result of climate change, could increase the threat of similar spills in the future. She urged an overhaul of the region's wastewater infrastructure.
"Our sewage infrastructure isn't designed to handle this type of storm surge," Dr. Kenward said. [NY Times]

State of the Planet: By the Numbers

Watch Bill McKibben interviewed on ABC's Nightline

They got almost everything right - except Bill's name...