Carbon Matters: Middle school students get carbon cycle literate

Jul 22, 2015

by Jana Dean

It was the day after Hurricane Sandy, and Eli and Krishna rushed into class with a question: “Ms. Dean, can it happen to us?” They’d seen images of buildings flooded up to the second story and cars that had floated to rest on top of each other. Our West Coast bayside town has early 20th-century buildings that look something like those flooded by Sandy in early 2013, and the students already knew that our streets flood when high tide, low air pressure, and heavy rainfall combine. The water backing up into storm drains in our streets has increased because of rising seas due to heat trapped by our carbon-laden atmosphere. Eli and Krishna gave me an exciting opening to connect their up-to-the-moment concern to the biology, geology, and physics of climate change. I knew I could squeeze a lot of relevant science out of just one hurricane.

I was in for a surprise, however. The first time I mentioned climate change, Trevor’s dad sent me an email insisting I “balance the science” and teach students that global warming may not be happening at all. Ultimately, this parent’s persistent scrutiny, as uncomfortable as it made me, had a silver lining. Instead of treating humanity’s effect on the atmospheric system generally and broadly, I decided to isolate the carbon cycle from climate change and help students explore the difference between the short and long carbon cycles. As a result, they became more informed about the science behind climate change than most of the adults in their lives.

Carbon cycles and, as it does, it changes form by bonding with other elements. It bonds with hydrogen to make the carbohydrates in plants and animals. It bonds with calcium to make the shells of sea creatures. It bonds with oxygen to make atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In the short term, carbon shifts from CO2 in the air—through both photosynthesis and digestion—to the starches and sugars that make up all living tissue. Then it shifts back to CO2 and methane through respiration and decomposition. Over millennia, carbon-holding plants and animals are compressed by layers of sediment into coal and oil, becoming hydrocarbons. When burned as fuel, coal and oil break down into CO2, which is suddenly released back into the atmosphere. What matters in climate science is not whether carbon enters the atmosphere, but how fast the carbon cycles from the atmosphere to living organisms, to rocks and oil, and back again.


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18 comments on “Carbon Matters: Middle school students get carbon cycle literate

  • Although that little tree may not be much, I hope it symbolizes the fact that moving carbon from the long carbon cycle to the short one is not inevitable. I want my 6th graders to remember that we make choices as we interact with the Earth. I want them to remember that in planting Murphy, they took collective action and worked together to make a difference. They are young, and they will encounter climate change again and again in their lifetimes. Perhaps with their objective knowledge of the carbon cycle, they will engage the logic of those who say the wholesale transfer of carbon from earth to sky is nothing to worry about. Moreover, when the coal trains threaten again to come through town—as they will—students will know why so many of our citizens picket and they’ll have a scientific basis for choosing whether to join in on the action.

    Teacher Dana does yeoman work (were there ever yeowomen?). She omitted the crucial multiplying factor of population growth on carbon emissions and the rates of carbon emission as the world’s burgeoning poor struggle to build economies that assert their equal rights to pollute on a par with Ms. Dana’s rich kids. Since as recently as the mid seventies we’ve almost doubled the per-capita capacity for carbon emissions by growing human population from around 3.5 billion to 7 billion. By 2050 using the 3 billion base of 1960, humans will more than triple the capacity by propagating polluters to over 9 billion. You’re good with numbers, Ms. Dana; why the silence on this issue?



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  • @OP – Over millennia, carbon-holding plants and animals are compressed by layers of sediment into coal and oil, becoming hydrocarbons. When burned as fuel, coal and oil break down into CO2, which is suddenly released back into the atmosphere.

    In the UK, carbonaceous Cameron has announced a consultation on cuts to wind and solar energy subsidies while MPs are in recession!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33625470
    MPs have accused the government of denying them a say over planned cuts to solar subsidies.

    Ministers are risking the future of low-carbon energy with a series of abrupt cuts to industry support, the Commons Energy Committee’s chair said.

    The solar and wind industries say they can compete without subsidy in a few years if support is tapered off slowly.

    But the MPs say the whole sector is jeopardised by changes announced after MPs had left for their summer recess.

    The committee, which is chaired by SNP MP Angus MacNeil, says it will not have time to discuss the changes before the consultation period concludes on 1 September.

    Mr MacNeil said: “The measures raise more alarming questions for investors in low-carbon technologies who are already struggling to finance projects after a series of sudden policy changes.

    “Removing support for the lowest cost renewables calls into question once more the government’s commitment to decarbonisation targets, sending out a worrying signal in the run up to the Paris climate change conference.”

    Professor Jim Watson, from the UK Energy Research Centre, warned that if solar subsidies disappeared completely the government risked the industry “dropping off a cliff”.

    The solar cut is the latest in a succession of announcements that have rocked the low-carbon sector.

    Over the past few months the Treasury has cut onshore wind subsidies; large-scale solar subsidy; the energy efficiency budget; small-scale solar subsidy; the obligation for new homes to be zero carbon; the escalating tax on polluting industry; and low vehicle excise duty on energy efficient cars. It has also introduced a tax on green energy.

    Ms Rudd, who gave evidence to the energy committee on Tuesday about her department’s priorities, said the government was willing to pay more for nuclear power because, unlike wind and solar, it was not intermittent.

    She appeared to hint that the government would address the concerns of the industry in its forthcoming consultation on solar, although a government press release suggested that the decision had already been made to end the subsidies.



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  • However! Carbonaceous Cameron, is still promoting gas-facking and subsidising oil-drilling!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33612293
    Coal dropped from producing half of US electricity in 2007 to 37% by 2012.

    Scientists and commentators immediately linked the curb on emissions to shale gas.

    Even official government documents such as the US Third National Climate Assessment highlighted the move as being “largely due to shift from coal to less CO2-intensive natural gas.”

    .But according to this new study, the shift played a minor role. The key to the reduction in emissions in this period was consumption.

    “We couldn’t see that gas was the real driver,” lead author Prof Klaus Hubacek from the University of Maryland told BBC News.

    “What we can show is that the main driver has been the level of consumption, GDP per capita. The decrease in this was the main driver. Gas was a driver but a very minor one.”

    The biggest drop in emissions took place when the recession was really beginning to bite between 2007 and 2009 when CO2 fell by almost ten percent, due to a sharp decline in in the volume of consumed goods.

    From 2009 to 2013 the US economy started to recover and consumption began to rise, also impacted by a growing population.

    But the authors point out that although shale gas begins to have a greater impact on the fuel mix in this latter period, changes in the amount of energy used to produce goods and services still has a far greater effect on the overall picture.

    “It is a myth – in terms of the economics of the whole system, natural gas is also competing with renewables,” says Prof Kubacek.

    “The other question is what happens with the coal that the gas displaces – if you take it out of the ground, it’s going to be used somewhere. The whole gas story doesn’t make a difference.”

    The researchers argue that it is a mistake to think that shale gas can be an easy path to lower emissions, as many governments around the world have argued.



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  • Alan4 gives examples of how difficult it is to measure carbon emission reductions on larger geopolitical- geographic scales. Measurements of reduction may mistake correlation for causation. Piecemeal reductions may not factor in contributory omissions from external sources. A British family living in a low-carbon house or flat, assign the credit for the carbon footprint of imported goods to the country of manufacture, notably today China. Family members may fly frequently leaving wide carbon contrails of combusted aviation fuel or even use a petrol car with less fuel efficiency than a diesel.

    More significantly, small nations like the U.K. will have little global impact on climate change for two main related reasons. 1) Unlike the U.K. the vast majority of world population living in developing countries cannot afford to implement the expensive green technology available to a mature affluent western nation with a huge tax base. 2) It appears that even when the most environmentally conscious nations of western Europe apply the technology, the results are limited by thresholds of cost-effectiveness. At some point, consumers dependent on jobs from global market capitalism push back against further expenditures, if the “progress” negatively impacts economic growth, international competitiveness, job growth and standards of living.



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  • Hi Melvin,

    *1) Unlike the U.K. the vast majority of world population living in developing countries cannot afford to implement the expensive green technology available to a mature affluent western nation with a huge tax base. *

    Actually it is often cheaper, for example a rural village can gradually add say photovolatics initially for lighting, then for other purposes like refrigeration in a modular fashion. The old technology alternative is build enormous infrastructure. Over the life of the solar panels they will more have paid for themselves, coal for example never pays for itself, and requires massive destruction. In my country now massive areas of our best agricultural land are being ripped open in open cut coal mines, most of the increased cost in electricity has been due to infrastructure costs associated with power lines, many of the alternatives can be either entirely off-grid or require much less infrastructure. Your analysis assumes the method of applying power to communities has to look like it does in the West, it does not. Your analysis also assumes the third world jumps straight from current levels of power usage (very little impact indeed) to equal to ours. The reality is they we need to drastically reduce power (which can be done without a drop in lifestyle), while they gradually increase theirs which as I’ve stated can be done without the massive infrastructure costs we in the west have relied on. We in the west are moving towards decentralised power production, there is no need for the third world to follow us in centralised power production.

    A good example in my city was born out a few years ago when we lived through a massive drought. Almost everyone I knew (in town) relied entirely on city water, as soon as the prospect of us having to recycle our water arrived most people bought rain water tanks (ignoring the bird and possum crap on their roof of course) we also stopped wasting it. Now we use a fraction of the water we did only a few years back, lifestyle change zero.

    It appears that even when the most environmentally conscious nations of western Europe apply the technology, the results are limited by thresholds of cost-effectiveness. At some point, consumers dependent on jobs from global market capitalism push back against further expenditures, if the “progress” negatively impacts economic growth, international competitiveness, job growth and standards of living.

    Many banks are now refusing to invest in new coal fired and gas powered power plants because if measured over the life of the power station/ wind farm-solar farm. The coal plants are already more expensive. It takes decades to pay off a coal fired power station and you still have to keep digging the crap up and burning it at the cost of health, and lost productivity of good rural land and damage to the water table. Wind and solar are just simply cheaper, so if I as a tax payer are going to subsidies power it’s going to be wind, and solar (and others as they become economic), not only because they save me money ultimately but because they reduce the damage to houses, crops and infrastructure from AGW related storms, drought and fire, the losses to the fishing industry alone in my country from erosion to the Great Barrier reef from increased acidification of the oceans which has been accurately measured, modeled and tested with as far as I can tell zero scientific controversy alone is reason enough to do it even if it was more expensive, which it is not.



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  • Melvin
    Jul 22, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    ) It appears that even when the most environmentally conscious nations of western Europe apply the technology, the results are limited by thresholds of cost-effectiveness.

    There is no evidence that carbon based industries will be more cost effective in the long term. It is a myth put about by the carbon lobby.
    The ethical and smart money is disinvesting from their dirty industries.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/05/norways-pension-fund-to-divest-8bn-from-coal-a-new-analysis-shows

    Fossil fuel divestment – Keep it in the ground
    Norway confirms $900bn sovereign wealth fund’s major coal divestment

    Parliament’s move come as analysis shows largest fossil fuel divestment yet will affect 122 companies across the world, including SSE and Drax in the UK

    Other major energy companies identified in the analysis by German and Norwegian NGOs are Germany’s E.ON ($685m) and RWE ($320m) and the Danish company Dong ($30m), which is often associated with wind energy but has a significant coal business.

    Sweden’s Vattenfall and Italy’s Enel are also set to be affected by the coal ban as are 35 groups in the US, including Duke Energy ($434m). A dozen coal-related companies on China are set to lose their Norwegian investment, as are eight in Japan and five in Australia.

    At some point, consumers dependent on jobs from global market capitalism push back against further expenditures, if the “progress” negatively impacts economic growth, international competitiveness, job growth and standards of living.

    Exponential growth is not sustainable. Again there is no evidence that jobs and living standards will be more secure by investing in polluting industries rather than clean technologies.



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  • Melvin. You allude to the population problem.

    Are we burning too much carbon, or are too many people burning carbon?

    Global warming due to burning carbon is not an economic problem, or even an environmental problem. It is an ethical and moral problem. Can we behave today, in a manner that hurts future populations?



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  • Serious obstacles have emerged that limit the implementation of solar and wind power. 1) Geographic limitations. People living in cold, overcast locations cannot reliably use solar power. Unless buildings, homes and offices, face the sun for prolonged periods on most days or are otherwise located in shade, solar panels cannot supply sufficient electricity. Shade trees cut down pose other environmental aesthetic costs, and smaller buildings covered by the shadow of larger buildings have no chance. Wind power also depends on steady strong winds specifically dependent on geographic location -flatland off the European coasts of the Baltic for example. No wind; no power. 2) Nighttime darkness shuts down solar. Energy stored in batteries may or may not be sufficient. 3) Consigning “traditional’ grid infrastructure to obsolescence is premature. Networks of transmission lines and power stations provide the vast share of electrical power. Solar must be supplemented by grid power in most cases, especially at night. Energy ‘sold back” to the grid from solar relies on an infrastructure that can redistribute the excess power. 3) Cost. Even though solar equipment costs are dropping precipitously as production rises, the installation of solar on an economy of scale requires capital intensive investments and government subsidies not only up front because of start-up costs but also because of factors peculiar to the technology itself. Modular by design, panels must be installed in one house or facility at a time. Poor candidates for the technology located in shade, intemperate climates must be excluded. Financing or subsidies must be allocated house by house in every neighborhood. A separate self-sufficient solar-electric system must be installed by technicians working on one house/building at a time. Financing or subsidies for low income households must essentially provide materials and labor “free’ at taxpayer expense to millions, tens of millions of users. Economic pressures to make customers pay for the service as subsidies dwindle, will narrow solar business activity to meeting demand for middle income and upper middle income households with purchasing power while marginalizing “free” distribution to the poor.



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  • Melvin
    Jul 23, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    You missed tidal and hydroelectric power, which can cover gaps in production by wind and photovoltaic generation. In sunny climes, heat storage solar thermal systems can produce during hours of darkness.

    The Norwegians who I mentioned earlier, are divesting from coal, and investing in sub-sea cables to export hydro-electric power to other European countries. This can be used intermittently to cover peak demand, avoiding the need for substantial standby capacity.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6f861176-d3af-11e4-99bd-00144feab7de.html#axzz3gk6udKFO

    Operators of electricity networks in the UK and Norway have approved a €2bn deal to build the world’s longest subsea power link, allowing British consumers to tap Nordic hydroelectric reserves.

    The NSN interconnector, a joint venture between the grid operators, will stretch 730km across the North Sea and will be capable of delivering 1,400 megawatts of power — enough to supply 750,000 homes — in either direction.

    The cable, expected to be operational by 2021, will add to an existing network of interconnectors between the UK and France, the Netherlands and Ireland.

    Formal approval for the scheme comes a month after National Grid, with the backing of the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, agreed terms with its Belgian counterpart for the construction of a 140km cable linking Kent and Zeebrugge with a capacity of 1,000MW. That project is expected to be working by 2019.

    Ed Davey, energy secretary, said access to Norway’s reserves of hydroelectricity would help balance the less reliable output of Britain’s growing fleet of wind and solar farms.

    Analysis by DECC suggests that, in spite of the interconnector’s cost, the project could save UK consumers £3bn over 25 years.

    The NSN interconnector is one of several additional links to neighbouring countries planned by Statnett aimed at exploiting Norway’s ability to smooth the power supplies of other grid systems using its network of reservoirs.



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  • Melvin,

    Generally your comments ignore many solutions that have already been found to your issues. A very thorough study in Australia showed that over the period measured (5years from memory) of detailed weather records that there would be only 5 days per year in which we would have requires some back up with non-renewables eg. gas generators.

    *3) Consigning “traditional’ grid infrastructure to obsolescence is premature. Networks of transmission lines and power stations provide the vast share of electrical power. Solar must be supplemented by grid power in most cases, especially at night. Energy ‘sold back” to the grid from solar relies on an infrastructure that can redistribute the excess power. *

    I agree, in the first world having already spent the money on the grid it would be madness not to use it. If fact the very grid we both support allows us to share electricity with from windy areas at night, and sunny areas during the day with meets many of the objections you share elsewhere. In the third world however massive increases in the standard of living are possible without the infrastructure. For example solar and battery technology with efficient lighting, combine with bio-gas generators (which are very affordable and can be made with locally sourced materials largely) can provide lighting cooking and refrigeration, easily. These are modular and can be built up gradually. The alternatives in the third world are massive infrastructure, often displacement from land for many and massive ecological destruction. Additionally any much of the grid cost in fossil fuels is wasted in the sense that power must be transmitted from where it is generated to were it is used. Decentralizing the grid more allows less of this and reduces costs associated with energy loss in transmission (although not completely when sharing power) and also does not require the massive energy losses from massive coal trains km’s long and dirty great ships trudging it around the world.

    In terms of your comments of coast. You are simply wrong. Solar is cheaper per kilowatt than coal, once you include the cost of building the coal fired power plant which at least in Australia were all heavily subsided by government. None of the power grid in our country was achieved without massive taxpayer support, why should the alternatives suddenly be expected to receive no subsidies during development. Rightly now that solar PV in our country is up and running the amount of subsidies is being dropped, and because they worked these industries have become more efficient and panels are significantly cheaper. It is well worth installing them even without government subsidy. In terms of having to put solar on each house one at a time, yes, and that is also great for jobs, the installation cost is a tiny fraction of the cost and easily absorbed by the savings of the system as a whole. Millions of Australians have fitted them because they make economic sense, even now with government assistance all buy gone. This simply would not be happening if they didn’t work and save money. And if you want to talk about providing tax payer money for these things then an honest conversation would include and compare the subsidies provided by the fossil fuel industry, in other countries the nuclear industry, the mining industries that provide the fuels, the government spending on transport, roads rail and ports. If you actually do the sums the amount of tax payer dollars spend on green energy has been a tiny fraction per kilowatt hour compared to the fossil fuels industries. If you are going to try to make the green energy pay for itself then please talk to me when they have paid back all the billions of dollars they have received over the years. I won’t be waiting with anticipation for a personal tax refund.

    You are also simply ignoring the cost of not doing anything about AGW which will by orders of magnitude outweigh any additional expense. In reality now though solar and wind do not need much in the way of subsidies they are proven technology and at least in this country the only barrier is our federal government wishing to pull down our wind and solar in favour of those supporting their campaigns. Coal is dead, hopefully soon so will gas and petrol, but as far as electricity is concerned coal is coughing up blood, and in fibrillation it is not going to be with us much longer, I’d very much like to see it kindly euthanasied but I won’t get my wish any time soon with our current government. Hopefully next election.



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  • Melvin
    Jul 22, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    She omitted the crucial multiplying factor of population growth on carbon emissions and the rates of carbon emission as the world’s burgeoning poor struggle to build economies that assert their equal rights to pollute on a par with Ms. Dana’s rich kids.

    The “equal right to pollute” is a myth invented by carbon salesmen promoting their obsolete polluting products. What third-world countries need is the decentralised energy systems which have been described in earlier discussions, and which do not require large investments in heavy infrastructure.

    http://www.solarcookers.org/basics/how.html

    Use of sunlight avoids destroying trees for firewood and avoids long walks to seek it.

    They can also provide pasteurised drinking water, where disease is a problem.



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  • You missed tidal and hydroelectric power, which can cover gaps in production by wind and photovoltaic generation. In sunny climes, heat storage solar thermal systems can produce during hours of darkness.

    You’re right. I had to limit my comment because of space without waxing “encyclopedic.” The thrust of your comment seems to explore the potential for the transmission of clean energy from one country to another through undersea cables and the like. The oil and natural gas producers already do this with something called pipelines. Still the idea holds commonsense promise for expanding green energy use beyond national borders. Powerful hydro-electric plants in Norway might well supplement supplies to the U.K. and other virtually contiguous states. The major obstacles still center on cost-benefit factors: the cost of laying the cable, building the network and maintaining the network versus the Norwegian hydroelectric power output actually distributed.

    Transmitting the low output of solar and wind generated electricity from local sites to distant users often proves financially and technically unfeasible (including other technical-financial problems affecting solar thermal and marine tidal-current projects) because of further power losses incurred by increasing resistance in the longer-distance transmission lines. Solar and wind are most effectively consumed immediately in locations near the turbines and panels.

    The global energy-mix infrastructure remains little changed because of persisting technological disadvantages and limitations of wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation. Projects implemented on impressive scales still produce a fraction of the energy functionally required by society and are viable for the most part in affluent countries like those of western Europe with mature economies, large budgets and government subsidies, small stable populations, compact territories and offshore manufacturing economies. China (though actually a “wealthy” economy) would seem to be an exception but in practice proves the rule. Huge solar (and some wind) facilities only supplement reliance on coal, natural gas and oil.

    The twin problems of renewables is how to generate enough mechanical power and its long-term storage in batteries for operating mobile machinery. Solar (or wind) for example can light a residence or business, run computers, refrigerators and air conditioners on a part-time -almost full-time basis if properly, logistically installed. Electricity to date cannot be stored efficiently in batteries to operate “unplugged” machinery at a distance from wired transmission sources. All-electric cars illustrate the battery problem perfectly. The vehicles are ponderously heavy with their battery packs, yet operate only for short distances with light payloads before discharging.



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  • Melvin
    Jul 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    The twin problems of renewables is how to generate enough mechanical power

    This is purely an imaginary problem. There is enough solar energy hitting the Earth to power global use many times over. there is enough tidal power to meet global demand for about 2 million years.

    and its long-term storage in batteries for operating mobile machinery. Solar (or wind) for example can light a residence or business, run computers,
    refrigerators and air conditioners on a part-time -almost full-time basis if properly, logistically installed.

    Both wind and tidal power, have gaps in production at different times in different locations, so moving energy on a grid gives cover. There is additional cover from hydro and from heat storage and geothermal.

    Electricity to date cannot be stored efficiently in batteries to operate “unplugged” machinery at a distance from wired transmission sources.

    It does indeed to make sense to site high demand industries close to generation sites, just as they have been sited in coal-fields in the past.

    Improved efficiency from energy efficient buildings, energy efficient appliances, and technologies such as LED lights and storage systems like super capacitors, should reduce both demand and waste.

    Huge solar (and some wind) facilities only supplement reliance on coal, natural gas and oil.

    There is absolutely no reason why they should not supplement, hydro-electric, nuclear electric, solar-thermal, tidal, and geothermal systems instead.



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  • Huge solar (and some wind) facilities only supplement reliance on coal, natural gas and oil.

    There is absolutely no reason why they should not supplement, hydro-electric, nuclear electric, solar-thermal, tidal, and geothermal systems instead.

    Here is where the discussion becomes circular. It would be fascinating to re-visit global energy use around 2025 and see which forms of energy are dominating or supplementing others. I hope your scenario comes to pass. Pronto. With world population increasing by more than 50% between 2000 and 2050 with no one giving a damn, we’d better see a lot of progress in a hurry.



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  • Electricity to date cannot be stored efficiently in batteries to
    operate “unplugged” machinery at a distance from wired transmission
    sources. All-electric cars illustrate the battery problem perfectly.
    The vehicles are ponderously heavy with their battery packs, yet
    operate only for short distances with light payloads before
    discharging.

    Agreed to some extent this is still a problem however Tesla now have a car with over 426km range (more than enough, and this is a car with spiritedly performance (0-100 in under 3 seconds – granted you won’t get that range if you drive it like that but a far call from your characterisation of electric cars). And they are working on cheaper and cheaper models of their vehicles (and yes they are currently prohibitively expensive-but they prove the point that it can be done). Additionally how often have you driven down a road or a hy-way and not see power lines? Unlike petrol charging stations can be hooked up to an already existing grid, our power grid which mostly follow roads for obvious reasons. For sure there is work to be done on battery technology but it is progressing nicely and it had better because either we stop using oil or it will become so rare as to become too expensive to use anyway. Cars could also be run as hybrids using combinations of fuel cells and batteries, batteries and super capacitors, any number of possible directions that technology is dramatically improving.

    Projects implemented on impressive scales still produce a fraction of the energy functionally required by society

    Yes any amount of power used is a fraction right up to 100%. Currently South Australia is producing over 33% of their annual power with alternatives (many days producing more that 100% of needed power) and steadily increasing. Given that this has happened in little more than a decade the path is quite clear. That is a fairly big fraction and the cost to consumers has been tiny compared to the pointless infrastructure costs from the fossil fuels industries.

    and are viable for the most part in affluent countries like those of
    western Europe with mature economies, large budgets and government
    subsidies, small stable populations, compact territories and offshore
    manufacturing economies. China (though actually a “wealthy” economy)
    would seem to be an exception but in practice proves the rule. Huge
    solar (and some wind) facilities only supplement reliance on coal,
    natural gas and oil.

    Coal in our country is now unprofitable, which is why they are bitching about solar and wind. They are quickly gaining market share and will much quicker than most have anticipated take over, South Australia now is on track to beat 50% renewables by 2020 after that it’s going to be fair to say that coal will be supplementing renewables, personally I feel we should ramp it up quicker and nation wide. And all this in a country that has a conservative government which does not like wind power because Tony our PM rode past one on his push bike and thought it looked ugly (must not be in the habit of riding past open cut coal mines or coal fired power plants) and who believes climate change is crap and has done everything he can to undo any progress made in this area. Image what could be achieved with a government that is neutral on the issue let alone positively trying to do something about it.



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  • There is now the possibility of the US making some progress in cleaning up.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-33753067

    US President Barack Obama is due to unveil what he called “the biggest, most important step we have ever taken” in tackling climate change.

    The aim of the revised Clean Power Plan is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from US power stations by nearly a third within 15 years.

    The measures will place significant emphasis on wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources.

    However, opponents in the energy industry have vowed to fight the plan.

    They say Mr Obama has declared “a war on coal”. Power plants fired by coal provide more than a third of the US electricity supply.

    The revised plan will aim to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 32% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

    The war on coal extraction needs to be promptly declared, forceful, and effective, with polluters and their profits held accountable!
    Responsibility requires: – The polluter must pay!

    The right-wing will probably go bananas!
    Obama caring for the health of the nation AND the health of the planet! Horrors!!!



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  • It seems that even the most stubborn denialists are starting to make some half-hearted moves in the right direction.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-33858698

    The Australian government’s new emissions reduction target is about half of what is needed, and reinforces Australia’s reputation as a climate change laggard, according to leading Australian scientists.

    The government’s argument that setting a stronger target would damage the economy is deeply flawed, they said in statements released through the Australian Science Media Centre on Tuesday.

    Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that the government planned to cut greenhouse gas emissions by between 26% and 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

    Australia’s previous target was to cut emissions by 5% by 2020, based on emissions in 2000.

    The pledge is less than cuts planned by countries such as Canada and the US but higher than countries such as Japan.

    But in light of the huge risk posed by climate change, the government’s new target is too weak, said Professor Steven Sherwood, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

    Australia’s climate change policies include:

    Repealing a carbon pricing scheme – the “carbon tax” – introduced by the previous government
    Adopting a “Direct Action” policy that funds businesses to take action to reduce or avoid emissions
    Cutting a national renewable energy target that would have ensured 20% of power came from renewable sources by 2020

    So in his usual clueless style.

    Mr Abbott re-iterated that stance on Tuesday, telling journalists in Canberra it was important to protect jobs and the environment.



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  • So now children need to know that we have more records being broken as time goes on, regardless of denials by the corrupt and the ignorant!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-34009289

    July was the hottest month on Earth since records began, averaging 16.6 C (61.9 F), according to US scientists.

    That is 0.08 degrees higher than the previous record, set in July 1998 – a significant margin in weather records.

    Scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a report that they expect 2015 to be the hottest year on record.

    Nine of the 10 hottest months since records began in 1880 have occurred since 2005, they NOAA report said.

    Scientists say global climate change and the impacts of the El Nino weather phenomenon are behind the record temperatures.

    The first seven months of 2015 have already set an all-time temperature record for the period.

    “The world is warming. It is continuing to warm. That is being shown time and time again in our data,” said Jake Crouch, physical scientist at NOAA’s National Centres for Environmental Information.



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