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Tesla is not alone: Green4u large vehicle options coming soon

November 17th, 2017 · No Comments

Tesla is THE mark when it comes to electric vehicles. The brand name, sort of like Apple, which people immediately recognize and — with quality products — all too many salivate over.  The announcement yesterday of a long-haul truck option (discussed all over, such as here, here, here …) truly moves the situation from dominated by soft benefits (who buys a Tesla roadster or plunks down a $1000 deposit to wait a few years for a car because they want to save some $s on their daily commute — as opposed to wanting the higher quality ride, to #ActOnClimate, to have a status symbol, to …?) to true green-eye shade calculation (Do the numbers work out?).  While there will be some firms and orders who might ‘want a Tesla, damn the price’, a tractor trailer will only work in the market place if the numbers work out: will the electric tractor trailer perform as well (or better) at the same (or lower) price?  Every indication: the Tesla system is well on the way to delivering that ‘higher performance at lower cost/lower risk’ nirvana for CFOs while also easing serious challenges like urban pollution from diesel engines.


Okay, Tesla … Tesla … Tesla … lets stop salivating for a minute.

There are others ‘on the road’ and others hitting the road shortly.

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Sun shines bright on (some) Minnesota schools

November 14th, 2017 · No Comments

Several Minnesota schools are celebrating significant rooftop solar installations. Leveraging public-private partnerships (enabling use of Federal tax credits) and Xcel Energy’s state-mandated community solar garden program, these schools are covering their roofs with power generation with no upfront investment costs and lower electrical bills & pollution loads from day one.

Solar panels cover Dodge Middle School, Farmington Area Schools, Minnesota

These Farmington Area School district deployments offer some lessons and thoughts for paths forward — both in terms of the positive lessons, potential lost opportunities, and (challenging) problems meriting addressing (solving?).

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EPA Refugee + Climate solution emerges in Germany

November 10th, 2017 · No Comments

As Americans engaged in a debate (Pedophilia: Good or Bad?),

the below EPA presentation in Germany amid the climate talks proposed a radical solution to major crises: refugees and climate change.

The concept: make refugees earn their keep by generating electricity on stationary bikes.

Just imagine, millions of refugees biking eight hours a day to keep Europe’s light bulbs shining …

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According to Facebook, Climate/Environment/Green irrelevant

October 31st, 2017 · 1 Comment

Amid overwhelming news — from Mueller indictments to terrorist driver in New York City — the Facebook take on Americans’ polarization in 2016 as part of its appeal to advertisers (including those ads sent From Moscow with Love) is quite striking.

Looking through Facebook’s political segmentation, considering this blog’s (this blogger’s) foci, something striking:

  • No coal — despite Trump’s emphasis on the (non-existent) “War on Coal” — nor other energy (whether gasoline prices, solar, wind, or …) topics
  • Nothing green, environment, climate, or … topics.

“Cannabis reform” shows up in four categories (on the left) while “fishing” shows up twice on the right.  And …

The 14 segments are, well, odd … yet, Facebook was playing a game for $100s of millions and has to see this segmentation of value.

The absence of energy, environmental, climate, green, and related topics/words might indicate that these were and are meaningless in understanding of American politics. Certainly, some reads and takes on polling would follow this path. And, the failure of American political elites to talk seriously and consistently about climate change (other than denialists pushing their denial, repetitively) during the election didn’t lend weight to climate as important in politics nor did that ‘absence’ help put climate on the top of Americans’ political agendas.


→ 1 CommentTags: 2016 Presidential Election

Insects disappearing: pesticides, climate change, …????

October 23rd, 2017 · 3 Comments

Friday night, at my niece’s birthday party,the conversation turned (not started by me … surprisingly) to news from Germany: the insects are disappearing.

? Dragonfly ?abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years

In this serious study (peer-reviewed publication: More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas), that involved surveys from across German nature reserves and natural areas, the pattern is pretty much consistent: numbers and mass of flying insects have shown a precipitous decline.

This is a survey and definitive work: like with bees, hypotheses as to why the insects are disappearing with varying degrees of substance but no certainty as to why.

cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.

Truly — we don’t know “why” but we do know it is occurring, that insects are disappearing.

This is Germany, one might suggest, and somewhere — someone — might be thinking/suggesting that this is somehow a German phenomena (looking at the timeline, German unification kills insects as hypothesis?) but there is global work showing declines in insects. From the article:

Current data suggest an overall pattern of decline in insect diversity and abundance. For example, populations of European grassland butterflies are estimated to have declined by 50% in abundance between 1990 and 2011.

Going back to that birthday party conversation, illuminating ‘bringing it to personal life’ comments included this observation for any/all that does long-distance driving:

I used to have to stop, multiple times, to clean the car windshield of dead insects when driving to Cleveland to visit my family. Now, I can go there and back and there might not be a single bug …

focus on the bugsThat sparked me to thinking … having gone to school in the Midwest (too many) decades ago, those drives would eat up windshield wiper fluid and the car’s grill would be filthy at the end of the drive. Driving my eldest to school in the Midwest (with detour to Kentucky for the eclipse …) this August, in what one might consider to be peak insect season, I did not have to clean the windshield of insects once during the entire trip and, thinking back, I don’t recall having to clean any insect remains from the car at the end of the trip.

From decades-long (amateur) scientific data gathering to the car’s windshield, the ominous situation seems clear: insects are disappearing.

Should we care?

Sunday evening, at a dinner party, a friend sparked a conversation starting with ‘I hate mosquitoes … this is an insect that shouldn’t exit …’ If we think of that in terms of the disappearing insects, sort of like the people who react to a record-breaking warm day in January with ‘if this is global warming, give me more of it’, many people see flying insects as pests to detest and likely would welcome hearing that they’re disappearing.  (NOTE: that is not that friend — whose comment really was more focused & even nuanced …)

But, flying insects aren’t some abstraction, some ‘other’ irrelevant for ecosystem health and, fundamentally, human existence. From the article’s introduction,

insects play a central role in a variety of processes, including pollination [12], herbivory and detrivory [34], nutrient cycling [4] and providing a food source for higher trophic levels such as birds, mammals and amphibians. For example, 80% of wild plants are estimated to depend on insects for pollination [2], while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source [5]. The ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA [6].

And …

Gastronomy implications

Now, another portion of last evening’s dinner conversation (with various degrees of disgust … though not from me) was the growing move to commercialize human food from insects (or entomophagy … by the way, some restaurant options for exploring insect-based cuisine). Taking us back to another reason to think about and be concerned about disappearing insects.

It’ll be ok if we kill off all the animals. We can still eat insects! Wait..what? 

→ 3 CommentsTags: climate change · science

When it comes to Virginia, being concerned about environment/climate demands vote for Northam

October 12th, 2017 · Comments Off on When it comes to Virginia, being concerned about environment/climate demands vote for Northam

Yesterday, Ralph Northam released a new advertisement in the Virginia governor’s race simply entitled Environment.

The advertisement opens:

Protecting our environment is one of the most important things we can do for our kids. And as a doctor, I trust the science on climate change.

While perhaps tired of “doctor” as seemingly lead for everything (when Northam’s life of service includes: Major Doctor Senator Lt.Gov. Volunteer), perhaps it makes sense because a medical doctor has a lot of scientific education which helps set the stage for “I trust the science”.  Quite honestly, Ralph Northam (including, perhaps, his staff who helped on the phrasing) earns some points for “trust the science” rather than using the often-used faulty “I believe”.

While I like that line, the next caught my attention:

But Ed Gillespie worked for a think tank that rejects climate science and fought to pull out of the global climate agreement.

Okay, knew a lot about Gillespie’s sordid client history but this was new — even as this is right in my core focus. As per the Richmond Times,  along with DCI Group, 2016 Gillespie clients included the (misleadingly named) Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy arm, the (astroturf) American Energy Alliance.  To quickly summarize, these are key players in framing political discussion in the promotion of fossil fuels, undermining of clean energy (e.g., solar and wind), denial of climate science, and damaging the Federal government’s (and state) programs to help move the United States toward a prosperous and climate-friendly modern energy system. A simple shorthand path to understanding this:

Both the American Energy Alliance and its parent organization, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), are run by Tom Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries.

With Trump’s inexplicable (thank you Russia?) election, the door was wide open and IER flooded through it — providing much of the ‘intellectual’ (fraudulent thinking) feeding into Team Trump’s horrific energy and climate concepts, actions, and policies.

From Northam’s ad, the next line:

Now Ed’s going right along with Donald Trump as he tries to roll back our clean air and water protections.

Gillespie’s close ties to those behind Trump’s actions certainly give credence to Northam’s words.

Of course, it isn’t just IER and AEA that make Enron Ed’s dirty energy pedigree. In addition to helping Enron amid what was one of the greatest frauds in US business history, Gillespie worked for the American Petroleum Institute to fight against improved fuel efficiency. He … well … that list is long.

As Republican George Allen put it, ‘you can tell a lot about people from the folks they stand with’ (or, for Gillespie, who they profit from/help profit off others).

Gillespie’s ‘folks’ include those working diligently to undermine American prosperity and competitiveness while putting American (and, well, others’) lives and futures at (much greater) risk.

Virginia’s future cannot be given to someone so willing to put the future at risk in order to put a buck in the wallet today.

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Journalism entails more than stenography: PBS Newshour malfeasance re Clean Power Plan

October 11th, 2017 · 1 Comment

The Trump Administration’s decision to undermine America’s economy and future prospects by its announced intent to reverse the Clean Power Plan and expand its denial of that Chinese Hoax, climate change made headlines and created an imperative for serious news coverage.  Last evening, the PBS News Hour — often the gold standard when it comes to broadcast news coverage — had a segment examining this. The News Hour team decided to adhere to classic ‘he says, she says’ reporting: first having a serious discussion with the former EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, and then turning to coal mining executive Robert Murray. Simply put, as will be shown below, the ‘interview’ with Murray was essentially stenography — asking questions to which Murray responded with specious talking points and deception with the journalist then asking the next question without ever questioning or challenging Murray’s skewed (or, more accurately, baseless) #AlternativeFacts.

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→ 1 CommentTags: climate change · climate delayers · climate zombies · Energy · environmental · Global Warming · global warming deniers · journalism · SciComm · science · Science Communication · science denial

To help Puerto Rico, US gov should visit DC Convention Center with a checkbook

October 10th, 2017 · Comments Off on To help Puerto Rico, US gov should visit DC Convention Center with a checkbook

The U.S. military is designed to operate amid the worst disaster(s) imaginable: modern warfare of all types. The vast military-industrial machine supports this — providing multiple options of weapons (that creates disaster?) to housing for difficult environments (tents) to mobile power generation (diesel generators, solar panels, …) to communications systems to water purification to .. The annual Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) meeting has a massive trade show space with a chance to touch, feel, discuss virtually every aspect of systems and services to enable the U.S. military (Army) to function: from home base to the front line. Within the vast array, option after option that could play to help Puerto Ricans (almost literally) tomorrow address the array of post-Maria challenges.

Teva Environmental solar powered water purification system

Here are four brief examples:


Tova Environmental‘s WS25 is a solar-powered water purification system that delivers 20,000 gallons of potable water a day with, of course, no requirement for grid connection or diesel fuel for electricity. Easy to deploy and maintain/operate, the WS25 could support basic drinking requirements for 5,000 Puerto Ricans starting virtually immediately on arrival on scene. Tova is a start-up: the first system is operating in Burkina Faso with the potential for additional units to provide a distributed potable water supply there. The other unit is at the DC Convention Center … but should be en route to Puerto Rico at the end of the AUSA trade show rather than returning to Tova’s New Jersey offices.

Blue Sky Mast offers a path for quick restoration of telecommunications: with a suite of tactical solar systems (taking minutes to put up) and easily mounted antennas, cell phone communications could be put back into action and the equipment taken down/redeployed elsewhere when more permanent equipment is up and operating.


Rungu‘s “Electric Juggernaut LE” could enable cargo movement in difficult spaces, enabling humans to efficiently move around 200 pound loads even with road damage. A 20 mile range on electricity alone or perhaps 40-60 miles with combined pedaling & electric assist, the Juggernaut could help address mobility amid disaster relief and recovery operations.

Merrill Mobile LIfe System: Handling serious weight can be a challenge in a disaster situation like Puerto Rico. Merrill Technologies offers a system that can be moved in a standard container, mounted on two containers, to provide a quickly mounted powerful crane on a stable base. Having a moveable  6 ton crane, read to lift large loads off truck and move cargo, might just have utility in Puerto Rico. In this case, just one prototype exists and it is at the DC Convention. As with the Teva water purification system, at the end of AUSA, Merrill’s Mobile Lift System should be en route Puerto Rico (or, well, another Caribbean island) rather than back to the war house.

A conception … there is no perhaps no better environment for testing and developing early stage equipment that using it to help people in need. Amid disaster operations, the US government should be ready — no, eager — to deploy equipment like these firms’ systems along with evaluation teams to help identify lessons as to how to improve them (if that is even necessary) and how/whether/where/when such systems would be of value into the future.

Just a taste … it has been a long day … these three are far from all viable options at AUSA (or from other US military event … for more options see, for example, STAR-TIDES) … the point is that there are a myriad of options available to help Puerto Ricans today while help advancing the options to help others in the years ahead.

NOTE:  Related posts include:


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What might a ‘solar’ Disaster 4R package cost/look like for Puerto Rico?

October 4th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Post Maria, Puerto Rico’s electricity system is in tatters.

Puerto Rico’s electricity system, prior to Maria, heavily relied on centralized diesel power generation with above-ground power transmission: very high cost electricity, dependent on continued fossil-fuel imports, with great vulnerability to disruption.

Post disaster, thoughtful policy and efforts would seek to maximize value in the Disaster 4R chain: relief, recovery, reconstruction, and resiliency against future impacts.

Rapid deployment/installation of solar-power centered micro-grids to Puerto Rico is a clear example of a Disaster 4R.

Here are some rapid thoughts as to such a Solar Disaster 4R package.

  • Upfront, roughly $100M should be able to deploy about 20-30 megawatts of distributed solar resources in six months while setting the stage for lower cost increased deployment of solar power in years to come.
  • While the $100M should be, in essence, done without cost to Puerto Ricans, a follow-on $100M might be at a 50% matching fund (e.g., lead to $200M of total investment) and successfully install another 60+ megawatts of solar+storage within a year. And, a third tranche would have $100M as a 33% match (e.g., leading to $300M of total investment) with perhaps another 80-100 megawatts of solar-based micro-grids deployed.
  • Very roughly, consider in the ballpark of 150-200MW of deployed solar into Puerto Rico within 18 months. This is a decent size, even if moderate, program for Disaster 4R Solar post Maria.

This project would roughly double Puerto Rico’s existing solar electricity production capacity (and triple rooftop/distributed generation), drive down the costs/ease future deployments due to learning and economies of scale, help lower Puerto Rico’s electricity prices (with reduced fossil fuel imports), create economic activity that will aid in the overall recovery, and boost the territory’s resiliency against future hurricanes.

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The power of STEM engagement can bring a smile to your face

October 4th, 2017 · Comments Off on The power of STEM engagement can bring a smile to your face

As a rare diversion from ‘energy’ focus, here is a story that should bring a smile to anyone concerned about science, science education (STEM), empowering women in science, entomology, how social-networking is changing the world, and, well, good human-interest stories.  In other words, well, likely most of us.

Short and sweet:

  • an 8-year old girl and PhD student just published together.
  • The 8-year old was impassioned by bugs — studying insects — but faced peer teasing/attacks for that passion.
  • Her mother reached out: is there entymologist willing to speak with my daughter.
  • That appeal went (sort of) viral and many scientists reached out to engage with her — enthusiastic about the chance to foster youth interest in and engagement with science.
  • That engagement reinvigorated the girl’s passion for studying bugs.
  • Gave power to the hashtag #Bugs4Girls.
  • And, an 8-year old girl and PhD student just published together about the power of social media and youth science engagement.
 If you only have a moment, photo at this tweet as symbol of the power of youth engagement/science promotion is, well, priceless: 

Thread for above tweet starts:


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