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EU leaders agree to cut GHG emissions by 40% by 2030
From: The Guardian  Posted: October 24th 2014

"This package is very good news for our fight against climate change,” the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, added. “No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU."

"EU’s climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said the agreement was an important step for the whole world. She said: 'We have sent a strong signal to other big economies and all other countries: we have done our homework, now we urge you to follow Europe’s example.'"

"The anticipated 40% greenhouse gas cut by 2030 would be measured against benchmark 1990 levels. That figure is to be binding on the EU and the minimum level achieved, with Germany and Britain happy to agree a higher figure."

BYD Unveils World’s Largest Battery-Electric Vehicle
From: Clean Technica  Posted: October 23rd 2014

"The said eBus can, reportedly — and quite impressively — travel 170+ miles (270+ Km.) with a passenger load of up to 120 passengers. Which makes it easy to assume that BYD will have no trouble finding a market for it."

"With the announcement also comes a challenge to transportation leaders to ‘step out of the dark ages’ and ‘be better stewards’ of our planet. You have to love that."

"The consequences of our choices today will leave a legacy that our children will live with, both environmentally and economically, for decades into the future." BYD Vice President Micheal Austin stated.

SA ASLEEP?  |   600,000 SO FAR  |   167 TAXIS  |   READ MORE

How to Determine if Water Contamination Comes from Fracking
From: Emily Atkin  Posted: October 21st 2014

"A team of U.S. and French scientists say they have developed a new tool that can specifically tell when environmental contamination comes from waste produced by hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking."

"This is one of the first times we’ve been able to demonstrate that, here, you have a spill in the environment, and yes, this is from fracking fluid and not from other sources of contamination."

Boron and lithium occur naturally in shale formations. When fracking fluid is injected underground, those two elements are released and enrich the fracking fluid which then has a specific isotopic fingerprint, quite different from other types of wastewater - the pink area of the schematic as opposed to the others ............ [Ian]

September 2014 is now the hottest on record
From: The Weather Network  Posted: October 15th 2014

"NASA records show that the month of September 2014 has now taken the top spot on the list of hottest Septembers on record. According to records from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), September 2014 now ranks as the hottest month of September, in records going back to 1880."

"Jake Crouch, an NCDC climatologist, said, 'if we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record.'"

The biggest anomalies are in Antarctica, for which NASA had to allocate a new colour (brown). The puzzle of why we are also seeing record ice extents (area) in Antarctica remains. Remember that extent is measured in discrete cells which have at least 15% sea ice - no measurement of the ice thickness is taken into account. It is possible that melting ice shelves are causing more sea ice or that the changed wind patterns are scattering the ice further afield............[Ian]


Regional Sea Level Impacts becoming Clearer
From: The Conversation  Posted: October 13th 2014

"At the moment, regional sea-level rise driven by warming oceans and melting ice is hidden by natural variability such as the El Niño, which causes year-to-year changes in sea level of several centimetres."

"Analysis of sea-level projections published in Nature Climate Change indicates that regional sea-level rise will be generally noticeable before 2030."

The melting ice component will be increasingly from the polar ice sheets as we move forward. James Hansen and Makiko Sato expect the disintegration to be exponential like the spread of Ebola. Exponentials possess a doubling time - 4 weeks in the case of Ebola, ~10 years for ice. If this is correct and GHG emissions are not reduced, then we can expect sea levels to rise by 5m or so by the end of the century. But again, it will take around 15 years to determine whether they are right...........[Ian]

EU: Wind cheapest; Gas 56% more; Coal 122% higher.
From: The Guardian  Posted: October 13th 2014

"Onshore wind is cheaper than coal, gas or nuclear energy when the costs of ‘external’ factors like air quality, human toxicity and climate change are taken into account, according to an EU analysis."

"Renewables are regularly denigrated for being too expensive and a drain on the taxpayer. Not only does the commission’s report show the alarming cost of coal but it also presents onshore wind as both cheaper and more environmentally-friendly."

"The paper, which was written for the European commission by the Ecofys consultancy, suggests that the [UK] Conservative party plan of restricting new onshore wind farms will mean blocking out the cheapest source of energy when environmental and health facts are taken into consideration."

We're Sitting on 10 Billion Barrels of Oil! - OK, Two
From: Bloomberg  Posted: October 10th 2014

"Lee Tillman, chief executive officer of Marathon Oil Corp., told investors last month that the company was potentially sitting on the equivalent of 4.3 billion barrels in its U.S. shale acreage. That number was 5.5 times higher than the proved reserves Marathon reported to federal regulators."

"In public presentations, unregulated estimates included wells that would lose money, prospects that have never been drilled, acreage that won’t be tapped for decades and projects whose likelihood of success is less than 10 percent."

"If a lot of people get burned -- and I think a lot of people can and will be burned -- by these numbers in the investor presentations, there may be a push by investors to get the SEC to do something about it."

The Other CO2 Problem
From: AllAfrica  Posted: October 8th 2014

"The global economy could be losing as much as R11 trillion annually by the end of the century if countries do not take urgent steps to stop ocean acidification, says a United Nations report."

"Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by a drastic increase in carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity. The report stresses that this phenomenon is occurring at unprecedented levels, threatening marine biodiversity and ultimately human society."

"Ocean acidification will greatly affect food security in the coming years, as well as tourism and other industries such as the pharmaceutical industry which relies on many marine organisms."

Aquifers Contaminated With Fracking Wastewater
From: Desmogblog  Posted: October 7th 2014

"California state regulators shut down 11 fracking wastewater injection wells last July over concerns that the wastewater might have contaminated aquifers."

"The California State Water Resources Board has sent a letter to the EPA confirming that at least nine of those sites were in fact dumping wastewater contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants into aquifers."

Are we foolish enough to believe that something similar will not happen in South Africa. Wells will be located out of the public gaze. The hazardous material will not be identified. We will not be able to fully supervise this activity ...........[Ian]

Biochar! The verdict is in: it works.
From: resilience.org  Posted: October 7th 2014

"Terra preta de indio (Indian black earth) is the name given in the Amazon to deep black soils found in many places. They are highly and persistently fertile, often farmed by the local folks."

"Typical rainforest soils are the opposite; very infertile, because the trees already have all the nutrients tied up in wood, and [are] red, not black. After decades of argument, it is now agreed; these soils were created, somehow, by the Native Americans, and they’re black because they’re full of charcoal, which is also what makes them fertile. The details are very thorny - but that’s all now accepted."

"The terra preta soils are persistent? The carbon in that charcoal in the soil can be 2-3 thousand years old. Maybe 4 or 5."

Cuts EV Charging System Costs by up to "90%"
From: Clean Technica  Posted: October 7th 2014

"ubitricity want to do away with costly charging stations. These typically cost thousands of dollars (or euros). ubitricity’s answer is to mount sockets on streetlights and other existing outlets."

"ubitricity has a contract to set up 100 of its charging stations in Berlin. A joint press release with Berlin energy provider Grundgrün predicts ubitricity’s mobile metering system 'will soon be charging Grundgrün energy at every street light'."

South Africa has hardly begun to think of the benefits of EV transport. Many think it will further stress Eskom whereas, in practice, EVs combine excellently with solar PV and result in reduced emissions, imported fuel and grid dependancy. Here's a way we can recover lost ground .........[Ian]


Natural gas may be a boon for economy, but methane emissions are a bane
From: Lancaster Online  Posted: October 6th 2014

"[The] natural gas compressor station in Marietta, for instance, was the sixth-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Lancaster County in 2013, according to the EPA; methane accounted for about a fourth of the compressor station’s emissions."

" [Pennsylvania's] aging natural gas distribution network, including some 10,000 miles of dangerously leaky pipes, sprang more than 31,000 leaks in 2013. Those leaks can pollute our air and leach into the water table."

"The best way for the gas industry to reduce the amount of natural gas it leaks and vents into the atmosphere is to upgrade the infrastructure that produces, transports and stores the gas, and that’s not going to happen without it being a requirement of doing business in Pennsylvania."

Upper 700m of the ocean have been warming much faster than thought
From: New Scientist  Posted: October 5th 2014

"It's worse than we thought. Scientists may have hugely underestimated the extent of global warming because temperature readings from southern hemisphere seas were inaccurate."

"Comparisons of direct measurements with satellite data and climate models suggest that the oceans of the southern hemisphere have been sucking up more than twice as much of the heat trapped by our excess greenhouse gases than previously calculated. This means we may have underestimated the extent to which our world has been warming."

"The northern hemisphere has been well sampled by cargo ships and projects led by wealthy countries north of the equator, very few direct measurements have been taken in the south. So it's not surprising that the in-situ measurements have been wrong. 'But this is huge' says Wenju Cai from the CSIRO in Melbourne, Australia."


The Energy-Water Nexus
From: Clean Technica  Posted: October 4th 2014

"Did you know that it takes 11,000-24,000 litres of water per year to power just one 60W incandescent light bulb? Unfortunately it’s true. But how can this be, don’t light bulbs use electricity?"

Yes, they do. But the existing electricity fleet requires massive volumes of water for their production. By 2030, McKinsey and Co. estimate that total demand will reach 17.7billion cu.m. per year, whilst supply will only be 15billion. Plus, by then, climate change is expected to have introduced longer and deeper periods of drought. In the US, droughts in both Texas and California have closed down fossil fuel power stations, just when power demand hits a peak.

Here is yet another advantage of renewable energy - you can see how little water these sources of energy require to produce our electricity in the Cleantech article. We have seen the effects of poor planning by Eskom. It is time for the powers that be to open their eyes to what the situation demands, rather than focusing on the dollar signs that shale gas is mistakenly expected to bring.



The State of the Climate Debate
From: Ian Perrin  Posted: June 13th 2014

"Kevin Anderson's blog of 5th June examines the US commitment to cut its emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and concludes that: The maths accompanying obligations to avoid 'dangerous climate change' demand fundamental change rather than rousing rhetoric and incremental action."

" View a 7 minute video clip of Michael Mann explaining the IPCC's conservatism and note that even the IPCC tells us that South Africa can expect temperature increases of 3 to 5C, without emissions reduction and that in turn implies consequences for food production."

"Ezra Klein, until recently a highly regarded political commentator with the Washington Post, wrote a piece entitled '7 Reasons America will fail on climate change' and Joe Romm of Climate Progress responded. Here we look at each of his 'Reasons' in turn and Joe Romm's response to each. "


Obama: ‘If Congress Won’t Act Soon To Protect Future Generations, I Will’
From: Joe Romm  Posted: February 13th 2013

"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and more intense."

"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late."

"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."


TEDX study reveals more detail about the dangers of gas drilling
From Ian Perrin  Posted: 14th November 2012

"The study shows that air sampling near natural gas operations reveals numerous chemicals in the air, many associated with natural gas operations. Some of the highest concentrations in the study were from methane, ethane, propane, and other alkanes that occur as a result of natural gas operations"

"Although concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in this study appear low, they may have clinical significance."

We thank them sincerely on behalf of all South Africans for the effort they are making to understand the effects of drilling and fracking for natural gas that will result in better protection for our workers and communities alike. [Ian]

Greenhouse Gas Theory explained
From Ian Perrin  Posted: 24th October 2012

You might have gained the impression climate change caused by rising amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere is a contentious theory added only recently to our scientific understanding.

Not so – we can trace the basis for it all the way back to Isaac Newton's work in the early 1670's and the first, generally accepted theory around 1859, more than 150 years ago."

Here's our plain English version of the history of its development and some detail on the scientists involved.

We Must Heed James Hansen
From: Joe Romm & Michael Mann  Posted: 9th August 2012

"During the hot, dry summer of 1988, Hansen announced that 'it is time to stop waffling…. The evidence is pretty strong that the [human-amplified] greenhouse effect is here.'" Much criticism followed.

"Hansen, it turns out, was right, and the critics were wrong. Rather than being reckless, as some of his critics charged, his announcement to the world proved to be prescient – and his critics were proven overly cautious."

"Given the prescience of Hansen’s science, we would be unwise to ignore his latest, more dire warning."

"The time for debate about the reality of human-caused climate change has now passed. We can have a good faith debate about how to deal with the problem – how to reduce future climate change and adapt to what is already upon us to reduce the risks that climate change poses to society. But we can no longer simply bury our heads in the sand."

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