Archive for the category “Alternative Energy”

Sagar Dhara: The climate challenge is deeper than technology

DEVELOPMENT AND DISARMAMENT ROUNDTABLE

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Technology’s role in a climate solution
If the world is to avoid “severe, widespread, and irreversible [climate] impacts,” carbon emissions must decrease quickly—and achieving such cuts, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, depends in part on the availability of “key technologies.” But arguments abound against faith in technological solutions to the climate problem. Electricity grids may be ill equipped to accommodate renewable energy produced on a massive scale. Many technological innovations touted in the past have failed to achieve practical success. Even successful technologies will do little good if they mature too late to help avert climate disaster. Below, experts from India, the United States, and Bangladesh address the following questions: To what extent can the world depend on technological innovation to address climate change? And what promising technologies—in generating, storing, and saving energy, and in storing greenhouse gases or removing them from the atmosphere—show most potential to help the world come to terms with global warming? Read more…

News update

World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn
The Guardian UK
Pledges by nations to cut carbon emissions will fall far short of those needed to prevent global temperatures rising by more than the crucial 2C by the end of the century. This is the stark conclusion of climate experts who have analysed submissions in the runup to the Paris climate talks later this year. A rise of 2C is considered the most the Earth could tolerate without risking catastrophic changes to food production, sea levels, fishing, wildlife, deserts and water reserves. Even if rises are pegged at 2C, scientists say this will still destroy most coral reefs and glaciers and melt significant parts of the Greenland ice cap, bringing major rises in sea levels.

Climate Change “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth
Michael T. Klare, Tom Dispatch
Not so long ago, it was science fiction. Now, it’s hard science — and that should frighten us all. The latest reports from the prestigious and sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make increasingly hair-raising reading, suggesting that the planet is approaching possible moments of irreversible damage in a fashion and at a speed that had not been anticipated. Scientists have long worried that climate change will not continue to advance in a “linear” fashion, with the planet getting a little bit hotter most years.  Instead, they fear, humanity could someday experience “non-linear” climate shifts (also known as “singularities” or “tipping points”) after which there would be sudden and irreversible change of a catastrophic nature.

Inadequate attempts by US to combat climate change shifted burden to India: CSE
Livemint.com
Inadequate attempts by the US to combat climate change have shifted the major burden of battling it to countries like India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said, calling American promises ‘much ado about nothing’. In a report released on Wednesday, CSE, a noted environment think-tank in India, termed US’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) as just ‘business-as-usual’. The study said the energy system in the US would remain fossil fuel dependent, with 76% of total primary energy coming from fossil fuels in 2030 while renewables will contribute just 15%, up from the current 11%. (Also read, CSE press release: ‘Capitan America’ and its climate promises: Much ado about nothing)

Southeast Asia’s energy demand to grow by 80 per cent in 2040: IEA
Down to Earth
Southeast Asia’s demand for energy is projected to grow by 80 per cent to just under 1,100 million tonnes of oil in 2040, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The share of fossil fuels in the energy mix of the region is expected to rise from 74 per cent in 2013 to 78 per cent in 2040, the report titled “Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2018” said.

Elon Musk says the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of what’s to come if world ignores climate change
Tech Insider
Billionaire visionary Elon Musk painted a bleak picture of the future on Wednesday when he said the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of what we can expect if nothing is done to address climate change. “Today’s refugee problem is perhaps a small indication of what the future will be like if we do not take action with respect to climate change,” Musk said during his opening remarks at a business seminar.

World’s oceans facing biggest coral die-off in history, scientists warn
The Guardian UK
Scientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever. But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016. (Also read: Coral reefs are not just pretty – they are vital to life)

Oil and the Global Economy
Jan Mueller, Jim Hansen, Stephen P.A. Brown, – The Energy Xchange
The remarkable economic expansion of in the United States and other industrial nations over the past century or more has been fueled by a steadily growing supply of low-cost energy—mostly from fossil fuels—oil in particular which accounts for more global energy consumption than any other source.
But there is growing uncertainty whether this trend will continue as it has in the past. How will shifting trends regarding the cost, demand, and supply for oil affect the global economy and the outlook for investment and economic growth?

The Peak Oil Story We Have Been Told Is Wrong
Gail Tverberg
Most people believe that low oil prices are good for the United States, since the discretionary income of consumers will rise. There is the added benefit that Peak Oil must be far off in the distance, since “Peak Oilers” talked about high oil prices. Thus, low oil prices are an all-round benefit. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The Peak Oil story we have been told is wrong. The collapse in oil production comes from oil prices that are too low, not too high. If oil prices or prices of other commodities are too low, production will slow and eventually stop. Growth in the world economy will slow, lowering inflation rates as well as economic growth rates.

Anna Swaraj: The only way we can rescue Indian farmers from debt and suicide
Vandana Shiva, Scroll.in
After the crash of the Green Revolution dream, the loss of this season’s cotton is the second big blow to Punjab’s farmers. Stemming from the failure of genetically modified cotton crops, it makes clear again that genetically modified organisms and chemical pesticides are ineffective at pest control. Scientific studies worldwide prove that their use has birthed super weeds and pests – and yet state governments in India continue to promote their excessive use and subsidise them. (Also read: How 18 villages in Haryana kept the whitefly attack on cotton away)

Means of transport to be switched to electric mode in 2 years: Gadkari
Business Standard
In a bid to cut oil import bill and mitigate pollution, the government is working on an ambitious project to switch diesel and petrol-run vehicles across the country to electric mode in two years, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. “Our scientists have made cost-effective, made-in-India lithium-ion battery (rechargeable) which will be extensively used to convert all means of transport to electric mode,” the minister said here at a function organized by the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC).

One Scientist’s Hopeful View On How to Repair the Planet
Yale Environment 360
For a researcher who studies how humanity is pushing the earth close to potentially disastrous tipping points, Johan Rockström is surprisingly optimistic. Although he reckons that our species has crossed four of nine “planetary boundaries” — including those on climate change and deforestation — he believes there is still time to pull back from the brink and create a sustainable future based on renewable energy and a “circular” economy that continually reuses resources.

Greenpeace Energy (R)evolution Study: Updated Version

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This is the year when the fight against climate change could take a dramatic turn. The conference in Paris in December presents political and business leaders with the opportunity to take the critical decisions needed if we are to keep average temperature rises to no more than 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius. According to the IPCC, humankind cannot emit more than 1,000 giga-tonnes of CO2 from now, if we are to stay within this limit. At the current and projected rate of consumption, this entire carbon budget will be used by 2040.

Dynamic change is happening in energy supply, but the change needs to happen faster. this Energy [R]evolution scenario proposes a pathway to a 100% sustainable energy supply, ending CO2 emissions and phasing out nuclear energy, and making redundant new oil exploration in the arctic and deep sea waters such as off the coast of Brazil. It also demonstrates that this transformation increases employment in the energy sector.

What is required is for the political will to be there.

Greenpeace has been publishing its Energy [R]evolution scenarios since 2005, more recently in collaboration with the scientific community, in particular the German Aerospace Centre (DLr). While our predictions on the potential and market growth of renewable energy may once have seemed fanciful or unrealistic, they have proved to be accurate. the US-based Meister Consultants Group concluded earlier this year that “the world’s biggest energy agencies, financial institutions and fossil fuel companies for the most part seriously under-estimated just how fast the clean power sector could and would grow”. It wasn’t the IEA, Goldman Sachs or the US Department of Energy who got it right. It was Greenpeace’s market scenario which was the most accurate.

Article: Greenpeace updates Energy (R)evolution study 

Energy Revolution 2018 Full Report

Energy Revolution 2018 Executive Summary

Energy Revolution 2018 Key Messages

 

News update

Burning all fossil fuels will melt entire Antarctic ice-sheet, study shows
The Guardian, UK
Burning all the world’s coal, oil and gas would melt the entire Antarctic ice-sheet and cause the oceans to rise by over 50m, a transformation unprecedented in human history. The conclusion of a new scientific study shows that, over the course of centuries, land currently inhabited by a billion people would be lost below water. “For the first time we have shown there is sufficient fossil fuel to melt all of Antarctica,” said Ricarda Winkelmann, at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who led the research published in the journal Science Advances.

Sooty South Asian air and global warming
Nalaka Gunawardene, Scidev.net
Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas capable of causing global warming and is not the worst culprit. Black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons and ground level ozone need to be controlled. In South Asia black carbon from cooking stoves and fuels like diesel, coal and wood are problematic.

Indian govt to allow private sector to manage 40% of forests
Hindustan Times
The government is set to throw open the management of up to 40% of Indian forests to the private sector to revive degraded forests but experts warn it may destroy complex ecosystems and deprive local communities of a livelihood. The environment ministry issued guidelines to the states last month, where it argued it didn’t have the resources to manage forests well and laid down the procedure to lease out degraded forests to private companies, who would “carry out afforestation and extract timber”.

Cleaning coal instead of wishing it away
Rahul Tongia, The Hindu
So called “clean coal” is under development worldwide. But carbon capture and sequestration is some years away from commercialisation, let alone competitive commercialisation. Thus, “cleaner coal” — in the form of more efficient coal plants — requires innovation to work well with Indian (high-ash) coal. Such efforts need support, ranging from technology, to policy support and financing.

Coal mining sector running out of time, says Citigroup
The Guardian, UK
US banking giant Citigroup says the global coal industry is set for further pain, predicting an acceleration of mine closures, liquidations and bankruptcies. The value of listed coal companies monitored by Citi has shrunk from $50bn (£32bn) in 2012 to $18bn in 2018, a trend it believes will continue. “On the demand side we think thermal coal is cyclically and structurally challenged and that current market conditions are likely to persist,” it says in a report.

Coal prices hit 12-year low as demand from China, India down
Kseboa.org
Coal futures have fallen to 12-year lows, hit by soaring production and a slowdown in global buying, including from India and China which until recently have been pillars of strong demand. Benchmark API2 2016 coal futures last settled at $52.85 a tonne, a level not seen since November 2003. The contract is now over 75 percent below its 2008 all-time peak and more than 60 percent below its most recent high following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan

$250 billion opportunity to invest in renewables: Piyush Goyal
Live Mint
India has a $250 billion investment opportunity in the renewable energy space, said Piyush Goyal, minister of power, coal and renewable energy, at Mint’s fifth energy conclave in New Delhi on Friday. This includes the peripheral transmission and generation segments as well. India plans to have 100,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity by 2022. The government has also set a target of generating 60,000MW from wind power by then.

Is This The Breakthrough Fusion Researchers Have Been Waiting For?
Michael McDonald, Oilprice.com
Fusion power may have just had the long-awaited breakthrough its backers have been waiting years for. A small secretive company in California called Tri Alpha Energy has been working on fusion power for years. It has built a machine that forms a high temperature ball of superheated gas and holds it together for 5 milliseconds without decay. That tiny timeframe is enough to get backers of the technology excited as it represents a huge leap forward in comparison with other techniques tried in the past.

The choir that sings out of tune
Nimesh Ved, The Hindu
A friend asked me on Facebook if we consider the impact of travel, especially air travel, on our ecological footprint. Surprisingly, many justified it as a ‘positive’ action. How can anyone justify flying in and out repeatedly for conferences? Doesn’t going for a study tour, for example, leave its own ecological footprint? We cannot do without travel and its resulting ecological footprint, but can we at least be conscious of the issue, discuss it and look at our own actions critically?

Picturing the End of Fossil Fuels
Bill McKibben
In the energy world, though, I’m willing to bet that these images are poison to the fossil fuel industry. It’s not just because of their sheer inhuman oversized ugliness, but because they manage to look somehow so antique. Or rather, so modern in a postmodern world. Even without understanding the science of climate change—the horror that the carbon from that digger and that drill rig is driving—you have a visceral sense that they’re in the wrong moment, the wrong mood.

 

News update

NASA: World ‘Locked Into’ at Least 3 Feet of Sea Level Rise
Common Dreams
New research underway indicates that at least three feet of global sea level rise is near certain, NASA scientists have warned. That’s the higher range of the 1 to 3 feet level of rise the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave in its 2013 assessment. Sea levels have already risen 3 inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise.

Climate change will alter ocean bacteria crucial to food chain – study
The Guardian UK
Climate change will have irreversible and unprecedented impacts on crucial ocean microorganisms that could trigger dramatic effects further up the food chain, according to scientists. The bacteria trichodesmium is known for surviving in nutrient-poor parts of the ocean, where it converts nitrogen gas into a material that can be used by other forms of life – from plankton to whales – which all require it to grow.

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste
Scientifc American
…the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy.

India prone to vector-borne diseases, heatwaves due to climate change
Down to Earth
India’s extreme vulnerability to climate change will have a direct impact on the health of its population, experts said at a seminar on Friday. The World Health Organization has predicted in a report that between 2030-50, climate change will cause 250,000 additional deaths. The Himalayan region is prone to vector-borne diseases, especially malaria and dengue, Ramesh Dhiman of the National Institute of Malaria Research, said at a seminar on “Climate Change and Health Risks”.

Organic farming to get a big boost in Maharashtra
The Indian Express
The Maharashtra government is drawing up a comprehensive plan to promote organic farming in a phased manner as an alternative to chemical fertilisers. The Ministry of Agriculture is preparing the draft and special allocations will be made to meet the target. The stress on organic farming reflects the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s view that chemical fertilisers should be done away with and organic manure should replace it.

WTO rules against India in solar panels dispute with the US
Live Mint
A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme, requiring the government to offer a level playing field to both foreign and domestic manufacturers of solar panels. India is likely to appeal against the dispute settlement panel’s ruling, which could give it a two-year breather to implement the programme.

India to face power surplus, 300 million people may not be able to afford
The Economic Times
India may be heading for a huge surplus of generation capacity because the 300 million people who don’t have access to electricity also don’t have the means to buy power from new plants that are being set up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of power for all, experts said.

The Guardian UK
Local governments in China have submitted plans to relocate or upgrade almost 1,000 chemical plants in the wake of the massive explosions in Tianjin earlier this month that killed 147 people. The blast at a warehouse storing toxic chemicals was China’s worst industrial accident in recent years. There has been criticism it was located too close to densely populated residential areas. China’s industry minister, Miao Wei, said local governments were finally moving ahead to implement plans to relocate and upgrade chemical plants.

Answering ‘Resistance From All Sides,’ Germany Moves to Ban GMO Crops
Common Dreams
Germany became the latest country in the European Union to take a stand against genetically modified (GMO) crops in its food supply. German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt told government officials that he will seek to implement the European Union’s “opt-out” rule to stop GMO crop cultivation in the country, including those varieties which may be approved by the EU, according to documents seen by Reuters this week.

HBO documentary key driver of opposition to fracking, study finds
The Guardian UK
An Oscar-nominated HBO documentary that showed American homeowners near hydraulic fracturing sites setting fire to their tap water may have been the main trigger for a surge in public opposition to the oil and gas production technique, according to a study to be published next month. Gasland, produced by the film-maker Josh Fox in 2010, sparked a rise in online searches, social media chatter, news coverage, and environmental activism surrounding fracking that may have led to a series of local attempts to ban the industry in the years that followed, according to the paper which will be published in the American Sociology Review’s October edition.

News update

Doomsday in 10 years: India may run out of water by 2025
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
We know quite well that water is scarce. Many even imagine that a Third World War will be fought over water. Nonetheless, the thought of taps running dry doesn’t come naturally. But maybe it is time to wake up – doomsday is likely just 10 years from now. This alarming figure was emphasised in the last Parliament session. In the Question Hour, Sanwar Lal Jat, the junior minister for water resources, quoted a study by a private consulting firm that said India won’t have enough water for its people by 2025.

How India Can Cut Short-term Carbon Emissions 70%
Darryl D’Monte, IndiaSpend
As India works on its voluntary commitments to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Indian experts have explained how the country could cut its carbon emissions from short-lived climate pollutants by nearly three-fourths using low-cost methods and, in the process, transform the lives of the poor. The US, EU and China are among the major countries which have declared their commitments; the global community is waiting to see what India does.

The Latest Science on Global Warming (by James Hansen & others)
Eric Zuesse, Countercurrents.org
Previous estimates of the coastal cities that will be flooded out of existence have been overly optimistic. The situation will likely be worse than has been projected. But measures can be taken that will probably succeed at preventing the outcome from being even worse than that.

July 2018 was warmest month ever recorded for the globe
Science Daily
The July average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average. As July is climatologically the warmest month for the year, this was also the all-time highest monthly temperature in the 1880-2018 record, at 61.86°F (16.61°C), surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by 0.14°F (0.08°C).

Plan for Paris: looking beyond emission cuts
Sujatha Byravan and Sudhir Chella Rajan, South Asia Monitor
In the lead up to the Paris Climate Summit — Conference of Parties (CoP) 21 — an important buzzword in international climate circles is INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) that each country needs to commit itself to as its climate policy. Much of this is tacitly expected to mean a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions rather than adaptation, which would be about transforming or changing systems and institutions to enable us live in a warmer world. While we eventually have to reduce emissions to zero in order not to completely destroy the earth’s ecosystems, we also need to learn how to live on a planet that is on average at least about 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times.

Entering the Mega-Drought Era in America
William deBuyes, Tom Dispatch
On the U.S. Drought Monitor’s current map, a large purple bruise spreads across the core of California, covering almost half the state. Purple indicates “exceptional drought,” the direst category, the one that tops both “severe” and “extreme.” If you combine all three, 95% of the state is covered. In other words, California is hurting.

Why an Oil Glut May Lead to a New World of Energy
Michael T. Klare, Tom Dispatch
Major producers continue to pump out record levels of crude and world demand remains essentially flat. The result: a global oil glut that is again driving prices toward the energy subbasement.  While most oil-company executives continue to insist that a turnaround is sure to occur in the near future, some analysts are beginning to wonder if what’s underway doesn’t actually signal a fundamental transformation of the industry.

Wind Energy Could Blow U.S. Coal Industry Away
Oilprice.com
Though solar energy has become the poster child for renewable energy generally, the strongest player in the game, for now, is wind. Wind leads solar energy in capacity installed as well as output (world solar capacity passed 200 GW this year); and other than a few welcome cases (so far) where PV comes in under 5 cents per kWh, wind is generally cheaper.

Germany Struggles With Too Much Renewable Energy
Gaurav Agnihotri, Oilprice.com
Germany and its neighbors are now facing an unusual problem. With the dramatic increase in green energy usage, Germany is generating so much electricity from renewables that it is finding it hard to handle it. The excess electricity that is generated is being spilled over to its neighboring countries, thereby increasing the threat of a power blackout should there be a sudden supply disruption.

India is now a make-or-break nation for climate change – and the planet’s future

India’s coal dependence has led to rising emissions. Now, even the Chief Economic Advisor has acknowledged that India needs to cut down on them.

Sajai Jose

A new global report has revealed that India’s carbon dioxide emissions growth in 2014 was not only the largest in terms of volume in its own history, but for the first time the country has become the biggest contributor to global emissions growth.

In 2014, the world added an extra 187 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over 2013 levels, amounting to a 0.5% increase in the sum total of CO2 emissions.  In contrast, India’s emissions from fossil fuel use grew by a startling 8.1% in the same period, amounting to 157 million tons of CO2 more than the previous year’s emissions.

In other words, India has bucked a worldwide trend of slowing carbon emissions to become the fastest-growing major polluter in the world. This marks a significant shift in carbon emissions trends that holds serious implications for climate change.

The first sign that the Indian establishment has taken note of this emerged on Wednesday with a report in the Business Standard stating that Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has written to the Prime Minister, recommending that India change its strategy on climate change. “He has advised that India stop focusing on adaptation to meet the inevitable threats of climate change on the poor and, instead, do more to reduce its own emission,” the newspaper said. Read more…

News update

Parliamentary Standing Committee rejects TSR Subramanian report on environmental laws
Down to Earth
A Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) rejected a high-level committee (HLC) report that reviewed various Acts administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The committee precisely noted that some of the essential recommendations made by the HLC “would result in an unacceptable dilution of the existing legal and policy architecture established to protect our environment”.

Over 450 projects being considered for environmental clearance: Government
The Economic Times
More than 450 projects in various sectors are presently being considered by the government for environmental clearance while more than 200 are awaiting forest clearance, Lok Sabha was informed. “The number of projects under consideration for environmental clearance in the Ministry (of Environment) are 475 and for approval under Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 are 240,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in a written reply.

Drop demand for finance from rich countries: Arvind Subramanian
Business Standard
Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian has suggested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to radically alter India’s climate-change policy and negotiation strategy before the new global climate-change agreement, to be finalised in Paris by December this year. In a note to the two ministers – which has been reviewed by Business Standard – Subramanian has recommended that India should stop insisting that the developed countries provide financing for poor countries to fight climate change, as they are required to under the UN climate convention.

Cochin Airport goes solar
Catch News
The Cochin Airport (CIAL) is now the first in the world to be fully powered by solar energy. No small feat, but one which they managed to accomplish in just six months. That’s exactly how long it took for them to install 46,000 solar panels across 45 acres of land, to achieve a 12MW plant. (Watch video) (Also read: Defunct Indraprastha power station to be converted into solar plant)

India’s war on Greenpeace
Samanth Subramanian, The Guardian UK
A simmering suspicion of foreign influences is written deep into the BJP’s nationalist DNA, and it plays marvellously with its most loyal voters – many of whom proclaim their belief, loudly and often, that western powers are eager to throttle India’s rise. In particular, Modi – who steers his government with stifling control – has never hidden his distaste for NGOs and their “five-star activists”, as he once labelled them.

Four charts that show how India and the world are living beyond their ecological means
Nayantara Narayanan, Scroll.in 
As of Thursday, August 13, 2018, we have used up all the ecological resources that the earth could generate through the entire year, according to calculations by sustainability think tank Global Footprint Network. In other words, from this day – called the Earth Overshoot Day – on we will be overdrawing from our global annual budget of natural resources. (Also read: Earth Overshoot Day: a reminder that our world is dying and we are killing it)

The future isn’t what it used to be
Kurt Cobb
The Mad Max franchise survives not because people take its prognostications seriously, but because it is good entertainment. Most moviegoers unconsciously project their apocalyptic fears onto these films to obtain a catharsis. This allows them to put aside any serious concerns about the future as mere fantasy.

How Economic Growth Fails
Gail Tverberg
The economy operates within a finite world, so at some point, a problem of diminishing returns develops. In other words, it takes more and more effort (human labor and use of resources) to produce a given quantity of oil or food, or fresh water, or other desirable products. The problem of slowing economic growth is very closely related to the question: How can the limits we are reaching be expected to play out in a finite world? Many people imagine that we will “run out” of some necessary resource, such as oil, but I see the situation differently.

 

News update

OMG… Greenland’s ice sheets are melting fast
The Guardian UK
An urgent attempt to study the rate at which Greenland’s mighty ice sheets are melting has been launched by Nasa. The aim of the six-year project, called Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG), is to understand how fast the world’s warming seas are now eroding the edges of the island’s vast icecaps. Warming air temperatures are already causing considerable glacier loss there, but the factors involving the sea that laps the bases of its great ice masses, and which is also heating up, are less well understood.

Snatching Defeat
Albert Bates, The Great Change
Last week we concluded our post on climate change with a quote from James Hansen, “the matter is urgent and calls for emergency cooperation among nations.” All this year we have been leading up to our collective fin de seicle moment in December, the grand denouement of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol in Paris. At this late date, we are frankly pessimistic for the outcome there.

Undamming Rivers: A Chance For New Clean Energy Source
John Waldman & Karin Limburg, Yale Environment 360
Many hydroelectric dams produce modest amounts of power yet do enormous damage to rivers and fish populations. Why not take down these aging structures, build solar farms in the drained reservoirs, and restore the natural ecology of the rivers?

The Devil in Obama’s New Emissions Target for the US Lies in Base Year Details
Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire
The US’s carbon dioxide emissions peaked in 2005, at 5,828.63 million metric tons. This convenient choice of a base year allows the US a leeway that’s 18.64% higher than its 1990 emissions – 1990 being the year that the Kyoto Protocol uses as a base. The absence of any rules on what can or can’t constitute base years is leveraged by many countries. In Europe, for example, the base year is 1990 because that’s when emissions peaked followed by a steady decline in industrial activity as well as a growing adoption of renewable energy options.

Japan restarts first nuclear reactor since Fukushima disaster
The Guardian UK
Japan has begun a controversial return to nuclear power generation with the restart of a reactor in the country’s south-west, four and a half years after its faith in atomic energy was shattered by the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. Kyushu Electric Power, the operator of the Sendai plant, said it had restarted one of the facility’s two reactors on Tuesday morning, in defiance of strong local opposition. The move marks the first time Japan has generated nuclear power since a post-Fukushima shutdown of all its 44 operable reactors two years ago.

Space mining is closer than you think, and the prospects are great
Andrew Dempster, The Conversation
Recently, the American cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson gushed about the prospects of mining in space, and the benefits that might afford humanity. Is this really plausible? What can we mine in space? And will it really deliver world peace, or just another realm for competition and conflict? Perhaps a look at the immediate past and near future may help us answer some of these questions.

Sustainable development is failing but there are alternatives to capitalism
Ashish Kothari, Federico Demaria and Alberto Acosta, The Guardian UK
In the face of worsening ecological and economic crises and continuing social deprivation, the last two decades have seen two broad trends emerge among those seeking sustainability, equality and justice. First there are the green economy and sustainable development approaches that dominate the upcoming Paris climate summit and the post-2018 sustainable development goals (SDGs). To date, such measures have failed to deliver a harmonisation of economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection. Political ecology paradigms, on the other hand, call for more fundamental changes, challenging the predominance of growth-oriented development based on fossil fuels, neoliberal capitalism and related forms of so-called representative democracy.

Odanthurai – Tamil Nadu’s energy self sufficient village

Odanthurai powers

Times of India

COIMBATORE: Just a fortnight after the civic body elections, a village panchayat in Coimbatore has decided to offer free electricity to its residents within the next five years.

Having already won international acclaim through its unique welfare schemes and energy self-sufficiency drives, Odanthurai near Mettupalayam has begun efforts to develop a corpus of Rs 5 crore to install wind and solar energy farms.

This project will enable free supply of electricity to over 8,000 residents. This effort is quite remarkable at a time when the rest of Tamil Nadu suffers power deficiency. Read article

Read about Odanthurai’s many achievements
Read researcher B. Priyadharshini’s report of a visit to Odanthurai

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