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Choosing Tom …

April 14th, 2017 · 1 Comment

Virginia Democrats face a real choice in the primary as to who will be the Democratic nominee for (and next) Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia: current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam or former Congressman Tom Perriello.  For those with an understanding of climate change’s challenges, risks, and opportunities, the choice is quite clear:

Tom Perriello for Governor.

CRITICAL NOTE:  While I expect to be helping get Tom Perriello elected as the next Governor of Virginia come November, I — and would hope this is true for all those concerned about climate change, clean energy, reality-based policy-making (as opposed to #AlternativeFacts’ dystopias) — will work just as passionately to get Ralph Northam elected if he is the nominee.  While there is a meaningful difference between Perriello and Northam, as discussed after the fold, both of them are the light of day across a swath of policy/moral/ethical arenas compared to the dark dystopia and hatred that dominate the potential GOP nominees.

[Read more →]

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Earth Day and a t-shirt challenge

April 13th, 2017 · No Comments

Searching for silver linings … the Trump regime has sparked a remarkably inventive t-shirt industry.  Whether proclaiming support for immigrants rights, decrying Team Trump’s fascist sympathies, mocking Trump lies, or … well, a myriad of other issues and approaches, one could fill multiple wardrobes with political commentary and seemingly not even scratch the surface.  Whether walking on the street (okay, too rarely), opening up blogs, ads next to my email (or forwarded in emails), or twitter items, it is hard to miss them …

#ScienceNotSilence

With Earth Day nigh — and the March for Science the activity (okay, post coaching volleyball in the morning) for the day — the temptation is there to spend $s for some relevant sartorial splendor.

Temptation …

But, those three Rs …

  • Reduce,
  • Reuse,
  • Recycle …

 

So, come 22 April 2017, I will fight that temptaWhite House Effecttion, reduce that purchasing stream by a few threads, and reuse a shirt from a previous Earth Day whose message, all too sadly, is recyclable to relevance today.Greenhouse Effect

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Townhalls unpleasant for @HouseGOP as constituents challenge them on #climate #science

April 12th, 2017 · No Comments

Much has been made of how Republicans, writ large (not universally, but a very large share) have been avoiding face-to-face encounters with their constituents — their massively frustrated, angry, scared constituents.  In many places in the country, billboards have gone up questioning whether their Representative will ever show up to have an honest engagement with their constituents.

Where is @RepComstock?

Missing members of Congress are even showing up up milk cartons.

A large share (a majority) of Americans

Those few Republican Representatives showing up to speak in front of (semi-)unscripted town halls open to all citizens (rather than limited to core supporters) are being confronted with demands for truthful engagement on issues like these.

Jason Chaffetz had, several months ago, a very contentious town hall — not surprising considering that the GOP House Government Oversight Committee Chair is steadfast in his refusal to guide actual oversight of and investigation into the myriad of almost certain Constitutional and ethical violations by Donald Trump and all-too-many members of Team Trump.  One of those moments, when a young girl questioned Chaffetz’s science denial. Her simple — evasively (at best) responded to — questions:

What are you doing to help protect our water and air for our generations and my kids’ generations?

Do you believe in science? I do.

Chaffetz isn’t alone in being ridiculed and roundly booed for his recklessly dangerous climate-science denial.

Arizona’s Randy Biggs just suffered the Chaffetz treatment.  When Biggs doubled down on his climate-science denial, his constituents made it clear their disdain for a Congressman showing less understanding of science than what might be expected from a middle-school student.

Chaffetz and Biggs aren’t alone,

Rep. Mike Coffman faced angry liberals from his suburban district right outside of Denver on Wednesday night, asking about everything from climate change to single-payer health care.

On at least two occasions, [NJ Republican Leonard Lance] was drowned out by standing ovations for speakers urging Lance to fight climate change and GOP healthcare plans.

REBLOGGED BY

Much has been made of how Republicans, writ large (not universally, but a very large share) have been avoiding face-to-face encounters with their constituents — their massively frustrated, angry, scared constituents.  In many places in the country, billboards have gone up questioning whether their Representative will ever show up to have an honest engagement with their constituents.

The billboard is just the beginning. Stay tuned next week when we announce the next project. /cc @SwingLeft

milk-carton-copy.jpg
Have you seen Representative Barbara Comstock?
If so, please call her constituents who would like to talk with her.

Missing members of Congress are even showing up up milk cartons.

A large share (a majority) of Americans

Those few Republican Representatives showing up to speak in front of (semi-)unscripted town halls open to all citizens (rather than limited to core supporters) are being confronted with demands for truthful engagement on issues like these.

Jason Chaffetz had, several months ago, a very contentious town hall — not surprising considering that the GOP House Government Oversight Committee Chair is steadfast in his refusal to guide actual oversight of and investigation into the myriad of almost certain Constitutional and ethical violations by Donald Trump and all-too-many members of Team Trump.  One of those moments, when a young girl questioned Chaffetz’s science denial. Her simple — evasively (at best) responded to — questions:

What are you doing to help protect our water and air for our generations and my kids’ generations?Do you believe in science? I do.

Chaffetz isn’t alone in being ridiculed and roundly booed for his recklessly dangerous climate-science denial.

Arizona’s Randy Biggs just suffered the Chaffetz treatment.  When Biggs doubled down on his climate-science denial, his constituents made it clear their disdain for a Congressman showing less understanding of science than what might be expected from a middle-school student.

Chaffetz and Biggs aren’t alone,

Rep. Mike Coffman faced angry liberals from his suburban district right outside of Denver on Wednesday night, asking about everything from climate change to single-payer health care.

For a long time, I (and others) have advocated that “climate” and “science” were issues not just meriting attention because they merited (required) attention but because they had the potential for serious political payoff: the partisan split is so extreme and the public ‘favors’ science, that highlighting GOP science denial and anti-science behaviors would provide political gains. Yet, for the most part, “D” campaigns (listening to VSP advisors and the paid political class) seem to have run away from science and climate. Looking at what is happening in town halls suggests that leveraging D alignment with science for political strength could be becoming a reality in the Trump-ista dysopian era.

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#TX21: Another sign of why @GOP is running scared … (w/serious #climate/#science element)

April 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Today, Kansans are voting in an unexpectedly close race to replace now Trump CIA director Mike Pompeo in KS-04, which ‘is’ a R+30 district. [Update: The Republican won by 7% in what should have been a sleeper, blow-away vote … e.g., a massive swing toward Ds that suggests >100 GOP seats could be in play in 2018.]

Next week, Georgians are voting in the 6th district to replace now Secretary of (anti)Health and Human Services Tom Price.  In the pent up passion of the (anti-)Trump era, the Democratic candidate John Ossoff might just pull off the shocker of getting a majority in this first round primary and be the first ‘@Flippable‘ step toward a Democratic-controlled (and, well, democratically-elected) Congress.

GA-06 is only a small indicator of the passion sweeping through the nation — across the nation, from local and state politics (like Virginia’s 2017 House of Delegates campaigns) to Congressional races, potential candidates are coming out in district after district around the nation giving a clear indication that 2018 might be a greater sweep election than 2010 Koch-funded “Tea Party” or the 1974 post-Nixonian era elections.

Texas’ 21st congressional district, part of horrific GOP gerrymandering to deny Austin-area Texans true Democracy and real opportunities for political choices, is one of those districts.  Currently occupied by the rabidly anti-science Lamar Smith, who has either not faced an opponent or else coasted for victory, prospects are that Smith will face a very serious challenger come 2018.  In addition to a likely effort by his 2016 challenger Tom Wakely, Army veteran and clean-energy advocate Joseph Kopser is (very openly) toying with throwing his hat in the ring.  Kopser is explicitly making Smith’s maniacal anti-climate science crusade core to his messaging:

defeat one of the most anti-science politicians in Congress.

I want to help move this country forward, which means supporting science and business while taking climate change seriously.

While greatly appreciating that Wakely sought to hold #climate zombie Smith accountable and defeat him at the polls, the 2016 result doesn’t necessarily bode well for a 2018 rematch.  Kopser, however, could be the sort of top-tier candidate (see after the fold) who would garner both national attention (and resources) and local support to oust Smith.  If districts like TX-21 (and not ‘just’ those few traditional swing districts, like the candidates coming out of the woodwork in Virginia’s 10th) are truly competitive in 2018, someone who actually cares about good governance (unlike Jason Chaffetz — who is also likely to face a serious opponent in 2018) will chair the House Oversight Committee come January 2019.  And, if it hasn’t already occurred, it will be reasonable to expect that Articles of Impeachment will be voted on by spring 2019.

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Energy BOOKSHELF: Emancipate Slaves, End Climate Change?

March 25th, 2017 · Comments Off on Energy BOOKSHELF: Emancipate Slaves, End Climate Change?

Head-slapping moments liberate intellectually. A weltanschauung shifting moment is powerful, especially that sudden light bulb over the head event which seems so self-evident in retrospect.

  • Slavery fosters pollution
    • Slavers are operating outside the law already and thus typically have utter disdain for any form of environmental regulation and/or protection.
    • Slavers are despoiling humans for profit, why not despoil the planet.
  • Fighting slavery fights pollution — including global warming.

Kevin Bales, in his impassioned and well-written Blood and Earth: Modern slavery, ecocide, and the secret to saving the world, brings us to this simple realization.

Where there are slaves, the environment is under assault, forests are being destroyed, endangered species are dying, and climate change is worsening – and all of this destruction is driven by profits from products we buy.

To provide the shocking scale,

we now know that if slavery were a country it would be the third largest producer of CO2 in the world after China and the USA,

“The third largest producer of CO2 in the world after China and the USA” and not a word to be found about this in the Paris Climate Accords …

A question to be asked, it seems, is whether ‘attacking slave labor’ around the world is something that can unite people who might battle at the corollary of ‘to fight climate change and reduce pollution’?

Bales’ makes a lot of sense and has convinced me that fighting slavery will also mean fighting against environmental damage.  The question is: to what extent?  Does eliminating slavery eliminate that ‘third largest producer of Co2’?  Bales certainly implies this … yet, the roughly 40% of deforestration that Bales attributes to slave labor wouldn’t end if slavery ended. As another reviewer put it

where workers are so vulnerable that they can be pressed into modern slavery, and rule of law is weak enough to tolerate profound environmental destruction, free labor will usually be available to do the same bad work on marginally better terms. Bales knows that modern slavery is a symptom of complex social vulnerability, rooted in poverty, violence and ecological displacement. Turning around to propose that a new abolition movement would reverse these deeper problems may work as a homily, but it is unpersuasive as policy.

Blood and Earth is highly worth the read and, as this review started, it changed my thinking in a head-slapping moment.  However, Bales’ assertions fall short as to what the environmental benefit would be from ending slavery and his work fails to provide a set of viable prescriptions for individuals, businesses, and societies as to how to move forward to eliminate slavery and its associated environmental destruction.

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Comments Off on Energy BOOKSHELF: Emancipate Slaves, End Climate Change?Tags: energy bookshelf · environmental · environmental justice

.@EPAScottPruitt rejects basic science: is there media normalizing

March 9th, 2017 · 2 Comments

When it comes to climate science, Donald Trump arrogantly shows his total lack of intellectual curiosity and disdainfully rejects the world’s leading scientists’ and scientific institutions conclusion that 

  • climate change is real
  • humanity is driving this change
  • this is creating serious risks

Science denial isn’t isolated to the Oval Office, it is one of the most unifying features of @TeamTrump.

With that in mind, while depressing, Scott Pruitt’s open statements that he rejects basic science on CNBC’s Squak Box aren’t shocking:

Kernan: Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?

SCOTT PRUITT (EPA ADMINISTRATOR):

No, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact.

So, no, I would not agree that’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. But we don’t know that yet, as far as — we need to continue debate — continue the review and analysis.

Pruitt, as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, ‘owns’ some of the best climate science in the world and yet is rejecting perhaps the most basic and longest understood item in the field. As Professor John Abraham put it in an email

Scientists have known since the mid 1800s that carbon dioxide was a major greenhouse gas. This means Mr Pruitt is knowledge is close to 200 years out of date.
This post really isn’t the place for a (yet another review) of the science but here is a great place to start as to how the science really is settled on the basic points of climate change including that CO2 emissions from human activity is the prime driver in climate change.
Now, there are several options to explain Pruitt’s rejection of basic science:
  • Pruitt is an absolute idiot who can’t comprehend basic science…
  • The science is inconvenient ideologically …
    • and thus rejected

The second seems to fit Occam’s Razor — the simplest explanation for the situation that meets all the facts. [UPDATE: David Roberts’ excellent post focuses on this–that the denialism is ex post facto the decision to prevent action on climate.]

Now, Pruitt’s revealing statement is generating lots of buzz.

Within reporting, even ‘honest’ reporting seeking to make clear the #AlternativeFacts nature of Pruitt’s comments, the framing is all too often ‘normalizing’ and understating the outrageousness of the EPA directly holding such anti-science attitudes. For example, here is Tim DeChristopher at CNBC:

The statement contradicts the public stance of the agency Pruitt leads. The EPA’s webpage on the causes of climate change states, “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.”

Pruitt’s view is also at odds with the opinion of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Here are some more honest statements:

The media norm creates a ‘he says, she says’ that understates the dangerous nature of the Violently Radical GOP Extremism (ViRGE) Trump regime.

Fossil foolish rejection of basic science runs rampant through the GOP and (climate) science denial is the norm for @TeamTrump as it is a critical tool to prevent ideologically-rejected action to mitigate climate change (primarily through moving off fossil fuels).  Perhaps we owe #PollutingPruitt a thank you for making this so explicitly clear …

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→ 2 CommentsTags: climate change · climate zombies · Energy · EPA · science · Trump Administration

Uncertainty: one nail in #coal’s coffin

March 8th, 2017 · Comments Off on Uncertainty: one nail in #coal’s coffin

Mark Sumner, someone who made his career in the coal mining industry, has penned (keystroked?) a thoughtful “Open letter to America’s Coal Miners & America“. This very respectful missive lays out the powerful ‘team’ reliance reality of coal-mining, highlights that coal powered America (and the globe) for a century, and lays out that any attack on coal is perceived by miners (by those more broadly in the industry) as a fundamental attack on them and their self-worth.  The reality that coal — essentially uniquely — powered America, Sumner discusses, is no longer the reality and is less true with each passing day.

This is the hard truth. In 2000, coal generated almost 53 percent of all the electricity in the United States. By 2009, that was 45 percent. In 2014 it was 39 percent. One year later, it was 33 percent.

Look at that last number. Coal’s contribution to the electrical picture dropped by 6 percent in a single year.

Sumner calls for miners to recognize that

you’re being used as props in a war that’s not just bad for the nation, it’s bad for you and your families. You’re being sold a bill of goods

Sumner lays out that mining jobs have been disappearing for a long time and that this atrophying will continue — whether or not Trump successfully destroys environmental policy.

The core element for coal’s fall from glory in Sumner’s narrative:  natural gas, in particular: fracked natural gas.

It happened because fracking for natural gas has made that fuel extremely abundant, and generators of electricity would much, much rather deal with gas than coal.

Now, within that discussion of natural gas, he writes;

Better still, from the point of view of the people making electricity, gas generators are cheaper. You can buy them small and add on power gradually. Coal plants are big. They take a huge amount of money up front and don’t start making money for decades after construction.

This is an important economic argument and business case reason for moving away from coal toward gas that  is also true for nuclear power (like coal) and for wind/solar (like natural gas).

  • First group (nuclear, coal)
    • requires large upfront investments,
    • take a long time (decade+) to develop/build, and
    • move from 0 to 1000 (from 0 kilowatts of production to 100s to 1000+ mw hour production) at a flip of a switch.
    • And, btw, are seen as at risk to changed public perception, protests, priorities, and regulation (such as climate) as they are under construction.
  • Second group, natural gas/wind/solar,
    • can be built & brought on incrementally,
    • have (relatively) shorter timelines; and,
    • are seen as having relatively minor other certainty risks.

These differences are huge for planners amidst a disrupted electricity marketplace — uncertainty as to future demand (think efficiency, economic turmoil), massive technological change (LED lights, solar panels, smart grid, electric cars), changing business models and relationships (such as increased ‘behind the meter’ generation and storage), etc.  With such uncertainty, committing $billions to a decade-long process for adding a gigawatt of production to the grid suddenly is a risk that requires significant mitigation (locking in rate structures that likely will disadvantage customers) that might not be possible to secure.

This business risk is a too-often overlooked reason for why there businesses (including to utility) are looking to natural gas, wind, and solar while “why there are no new coal plants under construction anywhere in the United States. None.”

 

Comments Off on Uncertainty: one nail in #coal’s coffinTags: business practice · coal

Solar on the car, not the road …

March 8th, 2017 · Comments Off on Solar on the car, not the road …

The pace of global change accelerates with each passing year. Energy systems — which tend, even amid revolution (wood to coal, coal to oil, …), to change slowly — are struggling, globally, to adapt to how that pace of change is accelerating within them as well. Globalization combined with information technology reach combined with materials science explosion combined with business practice advances combined with the realities of climate change (and its risks/opportunities — even if denied by @TeamTrump/@GOP) … are all coalescing to create the circumstances for tectonic shifts.

Writ large, the average person (in the developed world, at least) doesn’t spend much time thinking about ‘energy’ other than concern over the gas tank level and paying bills (primarily ‘at the pump’ since electronic billing has removed even the electricity and gas bills from many people’s consciousness).  Most energy-system change is occurring essentially invisible to the average person … with the (partial) exception of solar power, which has become perhaps ‘the’ symbol of 21st century energy  and the technological potential for successful climate mitigation(again, with strong reality-denying exception of @TeamTrump).

Solar has seen massive price drops, continued double-digit percentage year-to-year growth rates, and expanded penetration into energy markets around the world. In the developing world, solar is providing a leap frogging out of energy poverty for literally tens (and soon 100s) of millions of people. Solar is emergent and increasingly dominate in off-grid (from highway signs to remote homes), industrial scale, and distributed grid-connected electricity generation.

In the public consciousness, something sparked mania

Do Solar Roadways stand up to scrutiny? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzzz5DdzyWY

and went viral in 2014: Solar Roadways. While any decent analysis would show this an amusing dream that might merit some research/development work but that serious investment should put it in the back-of-the-line behind many simpler and more productive solar applications, that Solar Roadway mania seems to have taken root with multiple demonstration projects and even large-scale plans underway around the world.

A question to ask, however, is whether it makes more sense to have solar ‘on the road’ (solar roadways) or solar on the things using the road?

Solar car challenge (http://www.solarcarchallenge.org/challenge/)

The idea of directly powering transportation using solar power has a long history, with the oldest solar car race now over 30 years old. While capturing attention, this really has been niche rather than a serious near-term transportation option.

There have been uses for solar power in mobile platforms. For example,

  • solar panels on electric golf carts.
    • Interesting, when talking to business people trying to sell them, it is rarely the electricity value that their customers are interested in when they but a solar option. It is the maintenance / staff implication:  the cart driver who forgot to plug in a cart, leaving it w/out power after a few days, or the annoyance of having to go out and get a dead cart in the middle of the day.  Having solar doesn’t necessarily provide 100% of the carts’ electricity requirements (though gives a true off-grid EV option) but greatly reduces ‘ran out of power’ annoyances and while extending operating ranges.
  • Solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles/aircraft
    • Aviation has been playing around with moving away from fossil fuels, including electrically powered aircraft leveraging solar on the wings. With light-weighting of equipment, including solar, this has moved from demonstration and experiment to actual applications starting with unmanned aerial reconnaissance/surveillance.
    • One option that has been explored by major manufacturers (such as Airbus) is installing solar power into commercial aircraft wings — not to power the aircraft but to power auxiliary systems, especially when on the tarmac, to reduce fuel drain to power them.

That last has been part of the automobile market, with Toyota offering a solar option for the Prius since the 2010 model year for powering the ventilation system. Think parking in the August sun — the solar would power the vents and reduce heat buildup in the Prius, both improving comfort and air conditioning loads when entering the car (think 30F or more reduced heat build-up). While enough to power a fan, that 50-watt panel couldn’t provide meaningful propulsion benefits and wasn’t hooked up to the car’s battery system.

‘Serious’, however, is now around the corner with Toyota about to start having the solar on the rooftop connected to the Prius battery.  While few are likely to drive their Prius solely from this panel (the original option would produce enough electricity for perhaps 2.2 miles/day of driving with a new Panasonic panel increasing that to nearly 4 miles/day), this actually could take a real dent out of the fuel use for many.  The average US driver is about 40 miles per day and a reasonable share of commuters travel under 15 miles each way to work.  Imagine you have a 5 mile commute and park in an open lot.  One could see the plug-in Prius’ solar panel covering 40% of your commute plus some share of non-work (those weekend, vacation solar days) driving.

Now, assuming actual achievement of 4 miles/day driving off the solar panel (an optimistic assumption, for multiple reasons: cars not driven every day, shading reducing production, etc …), this is less than 1,500 miles per year or under 10 percent of the average 16,550 annual miles driven. Again, however, this could provide a meaningful dent into the average driver’s use and enable some interesting enhanced range uses (such as ‘refilling’ the car’s battery while parked for an extended period parked away from a plug).

Now, the Prius solar roof isn’t going to revolutionize transportation and, for most, it remains “a better choice to put the solar panels on your house” rather than car roof, but it is a clear indication that integrating solar into mobile electric transportation has moved from ‘pipe dream’ into commercial reality.

 

 

Comments Off on Solar on the car, not the road …Tags: Energy · solar · transportation

Facts out of context too often Truthiness (and really #AlternativeFacts): a quick @CurryJA example

March 6th, 2017 · 1 Comment

One of the most famous analytical quips:

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Stephen Colbert’s addition of Truthiness to the English lexicon provides an umbrella concept for that old adage. And @TeamTrump’s and the @GOP base’s allegiance to #AlternativeFacts before reality is taking this to a whole new level.

One aspect of such truthiness is to blast out a seemingly blow-the-mind number (statistic) without providing a context for that number — a context that would radically change the reader’s perspective.  An ever-reoccurring example about the US budget: OMFG … the United States sends (roughly) $40B (yes, Billion with a B!) in foreign assistance (military and non-military each year. Again, OMFG and all that … That is a lot of EFFing money, isn’t it?  Well, that $40B is less than 10% of the Pentagon budget, roughly 1% of the Federal Budget (not going to eliminate the deficit with that, will we?), and is less than 0.3% of the US gross domestic product. Foreign aid (non-military) is about $30B or under 0.2% of the US GDP. In context, not such a heart-attack creating number.  And, the United States is far behind most in the developing world as to share of GDP given in foreign aid. Providing the figure and discussing aid out of context is a core reason why so many Americans (incorrectly) believe that the foreign aid budget is in the range of 28% (rather than 1%) of the total Federal budget.  And, it is disinformatzia like that which the radical Republican extremist @TeamTrump is creating and leveraging on its path to devastate the government.

This little post was sparked by a clean-energy attack example this morning.  As part of their efforts to discredit renewable energy and undercut paths to a sustainable energy future, fossil fuel shills often exaggerate negative externalities related to clean energy — which, in reality, are a tiny fraction of fossil-fuel (coal, oil, natural gas) negative externalities which those shills routinely ignore and/or gloss over.  Wind turbines require steel and concrete for their manufacture and thus have a pollution footprint . Similarly, manufacturing solar systems has pollution.  For both wind and solar these externalitees are miniscule in comparison to burning coal (or gas or oil) for electricity. That comparison, however, isn’t one the fossil foolish want people to think about.

Taking us to today’s item sparking the post: right-wing embraced / promoted / thralled Judith Curry sharing of radical Republican extremist outlet Daily Caller‘s distorting ‘lies, damned lies, and STATISTICS’ item about solar panel production.

OMFG — “17,200 Times More Potent” certainly catches one’s attention.

Curry’s note came to my attention via this ‘corrective’ context tweet:

EPA data has NF3 emissions from semiconductor manufacturing at 0.6 MMT CO2-equivalent in 2015. Total US GHG emissions = 6,586.2 MMT CO2e.

Richard Meyer

To reinforce that point, the core conclusion from those in the government who analyze climate forcing:

greenhouse gases are often used in products or by end-consumers. These gases include industrial sources of man-made compounds such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and N2O. The present contribution of HFCs, PFCs, SF6, and NF3 gases to the radiative forcing effect of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases is small

Remember, as well, that 0.6% is for the entire semiconducter industry of which the solar panel production is only a portion.

Okay, NF3 pollution matters for climate change but, for the moment, this is a blip on the spectrum compared to Carbon Dioxide, Methane, etc … And, btw, that is a tiny, tiny blip.  Going back to the 6,586 MMT of CO2 equivalent, the entire NF3 (which is not just for solar) — weighted for its greater climate impact (that 1,700 more powerful) — puts it about 5 MMT equivalent or less than 1/1000th of total US emissions.

Hmmm … does some context change one’s perspective as to 1,700 more powerful?

Judith Curry chose to share around this #truthiness in what is far from the first occasion of practicing ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics’ to undermine public understanding of climate science and support for climate action.  Is it any surprise that she’s such a ‘darling’ of the Congressional GOP climate zombie coalition?

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→ 1 CommentTags: Energy · science · truthiness

Government’s helping hand fostering 21st energy opportunities

February 28th, 2017 · Comments Off on Government’s helping hand fostering 21st energy opportunities

Government programs impact people’s lives in uncountable ways. These range from those most highly visible firemen on the streets to the semi-hidden code developments that lower year after year the risks of fire in our homes. The extent to which government programs have enabled American prosperity — whether standards or legal system or technological development — is something that few actually think about on a daily lives.

How many, when pulling up Waze on their smart phone, consider that the decades-old Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) provided the conception and resources for core technology (such as ARPANET (now the Internet) and GPS) development that enables avoiding that traffic jam so they can make it to work on time?

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), partially modeled after and developed with the lessons from DARPA, is less than a decade old but is showing its power in helping to leapfrog energy technologies in ways that could powerfully impact U.S. society, the US economy, and U.S. global competitiveness for decades to come.

This week, ARPA-E is holding its annual Energy Innovation Summit which provides a variety of windows on both ARPA-Es approaches to fostering leap-ahead (potentially disruptive) energy technology and programs along with the chance to kick the tires on many of these.

As to kicking tires in the Technology Showcase, the floor is filled with items to fascinate the ‘tech geek’ that provide windows on ways that could impact people’s lives in ways that few really consider.

Here are two examples from that tech showcase:

  • Innovative ways to improve personal comfort
    • ARPAE is tackling the spectrum of energy challenges and opportunities including how to improve both the energy efficiency and comfort for people in the built space and, well, beyond.  Typically most would think of this as improving ‘the’ building (insulation (which ARPAE is working on), building controls (again), more efficient air conditioning (again), window glazings for upgrading single pane windows to greater efficiency (lots there, including a paint option) etc…) but how about doing things that target the individual?  Within the ARPAE program are companies developing air conditioning for shoes (so that you can have a building at higher temperature while people remain comfortable … or, by the way, making soldiers more effective on the battlefield in the Middle East during summer) and clothing that adapts to temperature changes.
    • Within Otherlab is Material Comforts, “a textile that gets thicker and increases its insulation vale in response to a drop in temperature”. Imagine the middle of winter … you put on your clothing in the house warmed to 68F and walk outside to that 25F frigid cold but you don’t need to pull on a coat since your sweater expands to provide greater insulation. You get in the car and the sweater contracts as the heat kicks in.  Within the office, as you wander around and have 5-10F differences in heat, your clothing adapts — to maintain you at your personal comfort level.  Imagine … This could directly save energy (relatively unused spaces in a building might not need to be heated as much, etc, etc …) but would enable productivity (people are more comfortable, spend less time putting on/taking off clothing) … and, well, enhance people’s lives.  Material Comforts won’t be showing on the clothing rack next year but, well, perhaps by 2020 or so this will become a clothing option and could have a real impact on real people’s lives.  ARPA-E’s program is enabling its development that, well, simply might not have occurred otherwise.
  • Tobacco to Squelene
    • Squelene oil is throughout human life, especially in cosmetics. The primary squelene source: sharks.  Sharks are under global threat from overfishing — with squelene being potentially more important than the more commonly heard of ‘shark fin soup’ challenge.  Options exist other than shark livers for squelene and, despite their higher costs, many cosmetic firms use those options. But sharks are still dying for lipstick — and likely very few are aware of this as they stand in front of the mirror.
    • SynShark has developed a path to extract squalene from tobacco plants that will, on mass scale, undercut the price of squalene from shark livers.  This will enable creating alternative income paths (higher income likely) for the world’s tobacco farmers, reduce fishery devastation (from pollution to shark kills), and provide a path for lowering the cost of cosmetics around the world. The processing of the tobacco plants creates other potential value streams, including high-quality proteins and potentially materials for making biofuels.  Several years in development, Synshark is doing its first commercial demonstration (15 acres) this year with the potential for orders-of-magnitude growth over the coming few years.

Honestly, few people — even energy specialists — might have come up with the above as tangible examples of how ARPAE’s innovative approaches are opening the doors to changing lives for the better, creating US jobs, and improving US competitiveness.  However, spending a few minutes with the two firms mentioned above and the 100s of other innovators at ARPAE would convince anyone who truly cares about making America great that the ARPAE is leveraging relatively limited resources in powerful and valuable ways.

Wandering ARPAE’s Energy Innovation Summit provides chances to learn about (reasonably viable and shockingly low cost) paths toward small fusion power, coming spray painting of windows for energy efficiency without impacting visibility, transparent wood for construction (let in light without sacrificing solidity and energy efficiency), new materials technology, heating/generator combinations for the home, new wind turbine concepts (including one that could scale up to 130 megawatts, or roughly 13 times larger than the largest currently in the world), …

Wandering the Energy Innovation Summit, seeing the technologies, speaking to the innovators, and considering the possibilities can provide reasons to technological optimism for paths toward a prosperous, secure, climate-friendly future …

This is a prosperity that is there for us (for the U.S.) to seize … if we choose to do so.

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