Get Energy Smart! NOW!

Blogging for a sustainable energy future.

Get Energy Smart!  NOW! header image 1

#Climate activists occupy @HouseGOP offices re #TaxBill

December 4th, 2017 · No Comments

The GOP Tax Plan (or “Deficit Augmentation to Enrich Super Rich (DATES Rich) Act) is horrid on so many grounds — from devastating graduate education, to massively increasing economic inequality, to setting the path for destruction of Social Security and Medicare, to … well, the list of horrors would take many pages of scribbling on the margins (as the bill was written). Amid the horror — worsening even further climate devastation and climate risks through additional subsidies to fossil fuels, opening up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling, to …

With this in mind — recognizing both the reality of the challenge and the additional devastation that the #GOPTaxScam would cause the climate — the activist Sunrise Movement (which has done some great actions, such as during the climate talks in Germany) put together a team and are occupying House offices this morning.

The following is from the office of Congressman Curbelo.

Who is Sunrise targeting this morning? GOP members who

  • are members of the Climate Solutions Caucus
  • voted for the Tax Bill on the first round and, especially,
  • sign a letter to the Senate calling on protection of ANWR from drilling.

BREAKING: Young people demand House Republicans vote against #GOPTaxScam for the 1% and fossil fuel billionaires.

Call your representative: 877-796-1948

Sign the petition to Republicans who say they care about climate change but might vote for this




→ No CommentsTags: Energy

Light at Night: a sign of …

November 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Across energy presentations, versions the following might just be the most common image.

Light at Nights

The globe at night: what does bright really mean?

Variations of this image and discussion have been around for decades.  This post, while reflecting long-time thinking, was sparked from presentations (such as slide 2) at the excellent Green Growth Knowledge Platform annual conference with much top-notch economic analysis of climate, sustainability, and clean energy/water challenges and opportunities (along with more valuable networking opportunities/interactions).

Bright areas, in short, show higher density + higher economic strength (developed) communities.  Brightest areas include Western Europe, Japan, and the East Coast of the United States.

Dark areas are low density and/or low-income economies. Sub-Saharan Africa (notably not South Africa) and

“The World At Night” provides a surrogate to discuss economic development (and, conversely, lack of development).  The take-away one is expected to take: dark is bad and we need as much of the world as bright as possible.

There is substantive truth here: the bright areas have electricity, have clean waters supplies, economic and job opportunities, health care infrastructures, higher educational achievement, greater stability, higher life expectancy, and a plethora of other ‘life is better’ measures. (Even if the climate change (and other pollution) impacts are lower in the dark space … which is is used by those fighting climate action as a (false flag) argument against climate mitigation efforts.)

The basic message which we are expected to understand on seeing the image:

  • Bright is good.
  • Dark requires development to become bright.

There is another way of looking at this image.  Very simple, human generated lumens reaching space is waste — no one flips the light switch with the desire to have Martians see them light up their bedroom.  While, again, there is truth that ‘light’ represents developed areas, there is also a reality that the light represents a significant opportunity: how can humanity become more efficient in lighting to cut wasted energy lighting the heavens.





Earth at Night, North America [hd video]

→ No CommentsTags: Energy

A clear-eyed look at Gov. McAuliffe’s climate record …

November 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Recently, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has been making some news when it comes to climate change.

  • When climate-science denier Donald Trump declared his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, Gov. McAuliffe stepped up to declare that Virginia would act to address climate change at the state level.
  • Following an executive order earlier this year to examine what it would take for Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the report came back with a path to join RGGI via Executive action, which Governor McAuliffe has initiated.
  • Various press appearances and other statements highlighting advances in Virginia clean energy (e.g., deployed solar and the prospects for a two-turbine offshore wind demonstration project).

McAuliffe’s actions, like those noted above, merit praise for moving the ball forward in Virginia in the facing of mounting climate risks on the one hand and, on the other hand, improving clean-energy and energy efficiency economics.

Joining RGGI, in particular, creates real opportunity for Virginia. As a relatively polluting state compared to the existing RGGI pool, Virginia could:

  • Potentially draw in financial resources from other states to accelerate energy efficiency and clean energy across the Commonwealth.
  • See improved economic competitiveness with a cleaner, more efficient, and more reliable energy sector, along with increased attractiveness to clean energy/climate-leading businesses and people.

In sum – thank you Governor McAuliffe for taking steps that should see Virginia become an RGGI member under Governor Ralph Northam.

Of course, a healthy relationship is also an honest one, and an honest, clear-eyed assessment of Terry McAuliffe’s climate change record is, unfortunately, far from rosy.

[

→ No CommentsTags: climate change · climate hawk · virginia

Energy Bookshelf: the potato famine has a myriad of lessons for our 21st century (climate) challenges

November 27th, 2017 · No Comments

We sometimes talk about the end of nature or treats to nature.

But nature, though it includes trembling subtleties, can be a son of a bitch. [p 238]

Humanity’s history is inextricably that of mankind’s relationship to the natural world and exploitation of nature for nourishment. And, with the explosion of human population over the past several hundred years, that relationship has both grown more complex in many ways and more remote from people (in developed nations) as fewer and fewer people are involved in agriculture.

Rob Dunn‘s Never Out of Season provides a compelling window on that complex relationship, with a powerful call for enhanced support for those who study plants (and threats to plants/agriculture) to help assure humanity’s ability to feed itself in the decades and centuries to come.  Critical issues include:

  • How a focus on maximizing productivity has fostered monocultures that create increased risk of catastrophic collapse.
  • That seed, disease, and insect ‘banks’ are critical to reducing risks of catastrophic collapse and maintaining tools to deal with a changing world —
    • from parasites attacking monocultures to human-driven climate change creating radically different growing environment.
    • Basic investments — from human capital to physical infrastructure to basic science — in these ‘banks’ are inadequate and, in fact, dwindling.
  • That, in fact, humanity needs expanded efforts:
    • from focus on an ecosystem (rather than stove-piped) understanding of (potential) crops (e.g., the plants, soils, insects, parasites, propagation, and other elements rather than simply the plant isolated in a greenhouse)
    • to building on/expanding the best of US land grant college relationships with agricultural extension agents in to a global (rather localized) set of relationships
    • to developing programs and tools to engage ever greater portions of humanity in collaborative efforts (such as Plant to better understand and share knowledge about agricultural (eco)systems.

[

→ No CommentsTags: Energy · energy bookshelf

UK and US both going back to 19th century? UK to past pollution levels, US to past polluting technologies

November 26th, 2017 · No Comments

A rather stunning thing passed by earlier this year: the United Kingdom’s 2016 emissions were back to 19th century levels. The key reason: a massive (52 percent) decline in coal use.

the most dramatic change in 2016 came from coal emissions, which fell by 50% compared to a year earlier to around 37 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2). A decade earlier, in 2006, UK coal emissions stood at 137MtCO2.

The 2016 record low coal use levels followed 2015’s record low coal use followed 2014’s record coal use. Coal is now 75% below 2006 levels and 1/12the peak 1956 usage level. There is no one (except perhaps coal-promoters in the Trump White House) who have any expectation of a turn-around in this path forward as the United Kingdom accelerates its move beyond coal.

The United Kingdom soon will fall to half its peak (1970) emission levels primarily because of coal’s decline. Coal is being drven from the market by:

  • Cheap natural gas
  • Renewables
  • Energy efficiency
  • Closure of a steel plant

Even with all these, the key driver that will maintain the accelerated pace is the United Kingdom’s imposition of a reasonable (even if below actual externalities/social cost of carbon) price imposed on carbon that “doubled in 2015 to £18 per tonne of CO2.”

A simple economic reality globally … coal is not coming back.

Sadly, the Trump Administration is governed by #alternativefacts dystopian ideology, rather than reality, and conceives of a coal renaissance.  Thus, while the United Kingdom drives down emissions by moving @BeyondCoal, #PollutingPruitt, Rick Perry, and the rest of the fossil-foolish GOP seek to hurt the U.S. by reviving a less efficient and more polluting 19th century coal economy.

[

→ No CommentsTags: coal · Energy

Electric ship: powered by and carrying coal (scratching head)

November 25th, 2017 · No Comments

Shipping is highly polluting — burning pretty much the dirtiest liquid fuels with limited (to no) pollution controls, shipping pollution is extreme.  A variety of measures are occurring, worldwide, to tackle this — from global agreements on shipping to nations creating regulations as to pollution in their coastal waters and ports, to the introduction of new technologies.  One of those technologies, with limited but growing applicability, is electrification.

Construction of first fully-electric cargo ship (

From luxury houseboats to ferries, electricity is becoming a player in the maritime energy environment. While transoceanic voyages on electric battery (as opposed to electric ships with, for example, nuclear power plants) ships is unlikely to emerge soon, China has started commercial operations with a ton electricity propelled cargo ship.

This kind of ship takes into consideration the harmony between humans and nature and can protect water quality and marine life, and should be copied by other ships sailing on local rivers,” said Wang Yongchen, a Beijing environmentalist.

One of the key energy paths for mitigating climate change is electrification — moving as much economic activity, as possible, from fossil fuels to electricity (whether heating, industry, and/or transportation) while cleaning up the electricity supply.

While intriguing as a step forward toward a more energy-efficient and lower-polluting future, the particular situation does set one ill at ease:

Thus, while using an an electric ship using coal-fired electricity to move coal might (MIGHT) represent some small incremental pollution improvement over the burning of bunker fuel, it is hard to see its current use as exemplifying desired “harmony between humans and nature”.

→ No CommentsTags: China · electric vehicles · electricity · Electrification · Energy · Maritime

How are Trump & Coal the same? both pollute the commons, people hate them, and vast majorities want them gone

November 22nd, 2017 · 4 Comments

For the first time in history, green energy is now cheaper than black energy. The world now has a unique opportunity to create a world that runs entirely on green energy.

With this reality in mind, Orsted (the Danish clean-energy firm formerly known as DONG (Danish Oil & Natural Gas)), chartered  the largest global survey ever focused on clean energy issues seeking to understand:

if people also want a green transformation and how they see challenges and benefits.

The short and sweet summary:

  • People think it is important to move to a world powered by clean-energy technology
    • and this support is true across educational levels, age groups, and ideological self-identification.
  • People love clean energy
    • and every country has vast majorities in favor of wind and solar.
  • People are seriously concerned about climate change
    • and rank it #2 (mistakenly behind terrorism) in terms of global security risks.
  • People support clean energy for many reasons
    • and want their nation leading (key: for nationalistic pride more than ecological or economic reasons).
  • People want government to be in the lead
    • and view it as necessity for energy companies to go/lead on clean energy.
  • People hate coal
    • and want it gone as fast as possible..
  • People in China are pretty much the strongest on all the above points
    • and thus demonstrate strong public support for the Chinese government’s massive investments to secure the leading role in the clean-energy revolution (and the associated economic benefits).

In the United States, the Federal Government is simply the opposite of what the public wants when it comes to clean-energy leadership. From Donald Trump on down, the climate-science denying, anti-clean energy investment pro-coal attitudes and objectives are at odds with global attitudes, necessities, and economic opportunities.  This clearly seems to be one of those reasons why, when it comes to both US and international publics, Trump and coal are seen in much the same way:

  • Large majorities understand that they are both polluting the commons and damaging to humanity’s future prospects;
  • Large majorities hate them; and,
  • Large majorities (globally AND in the United States) want both gone from the scene …
    • as soon as possible.

Trump, however, was not the focus of Orsted’s polling and analysis — that is on public attitudes toward clean energy transformation. There is much of interest in this 26,000, multi-national poll.  On first blush, there are two elements that seem somewhat surprising and revealing:

  1. That people, writ large, want their country to be aggressive in this domain
    1. While there is majority support re environmental benefits,
    2. the dominant/strongest reason is for “national pride”.
  2. The strength of Chinese public support
    1. for a serious #WarOnCoal and
    2. for Chinese leadership in clean energy.

As to China, as Dave Roberts, Vox , put it:

if you’re keeping track, China is No. 1 on seeing the importance of clean energy, No. 1 in wanting its government to be ambitious on clean energy, and No. 1 in wanting to phase out coal.

[

→ 4 CommentsTags: ActOnClimate · China · climate change · Energy · Public Opinion

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.

[

→ No CommentsTags: electric vehicles

Sun shines bright on (some) Minnesota schools

November 14th, 2017 · Comments Off on Sun shines bright on (some) Minnesota schools

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?).

[

Comments Off on Sun shines bright on (some) Minnesota schoolsTags: schools · solar

EPA Refugee + Climate solution emerges in Germany

November 10th, 2017 · Comments Off on EPA Refugee + Climate solution emerges in Germany

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 …

Comments Off on EPA Refugee + Climate solution emerges in GermanyTags: Energy