Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An interesting note from a correspondent

It is interesting to note that CO2 levels drop at the rate of about 1 1/2 ppm per month over a Spring/Summer cycle when plant growth is maximum. This seems to indicate that forest and food crops can actually out run the emissions.  I once calculated how much corn production it would take to off set the total CO2 emissions from  one 500 megawatt coal powered plant ............ 900 sq miles, an area of a mere 30 miles x 30 miles. It is likely that there are several good food crops that would sequester CO2 at very efficient rates. So the easy way to sequester CO2 is grow food but store it until a famine makes it necessary to consume it.

Would this not be a more noble cause and more acceptable than killing our overall energy system.  There was a time not so long ago that the USA did operate a food bank in an area near the North Pole.  There still is a seed bank operated by another country.

Researchers Team Up for Cheaper Solar Energy Battery Storage

This is all very well but pure sodium is a hugely reactive element, meaning that it can lead to explosions.  If sodium batteries become a reality, I predict a lot of "accidents".  A competent regulatory authority would ban them as intrinsically  unsafe in the hands of the general public

The storage of solar energy is one of the weak spots in systems that harvest this alternative type of electricity. Now three UK research organizations -- the companies Faradion and Moixa Technology, and WMG, part of the University of Warwick -- have teamed up in a partnership to develop sodium-ion cells as a low-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries for solar-energy storage.

Each of the entities in the partnership brings different engineering strengths to the table. Faradion is a startup eyeing innovation in the sodium-ion battery space, while Moixa specializes in smart energy storage. Researchers led by Rohit Bhagat, an associate professor of electrochemical engineering at WMG, will bring expertise in large-scale prototyping and electrode coating to the partnership.

Currently, lithium-ion batteries are used primarily for storage as part of solar energy systems, but this type of battery also represents significant costs, researchers said. Sodium-ion cells, however, can be as much as 30% less expensive to produce. Using Faradion’s technology, solar storage could be less expensive and therefore more accessible, particularly for domestic use, to help promote environmental interests, according to the company.

“This partnership with Moixa Technology and WMG offers a great opportunity, not just for Faradion, but for global CO2 reduction,” said Francis Massin, Faradion’s CEO. “Solar energy storage is an important growth market of the next five years and this partnership means that the UK has the opportunity to be at the forefront of technology development.”

Sodium is more abundant than lithium and therefore less expensive in terms of battery production, according to researchers. The new effort also will focus on providing that sodium-ion technology can meet the lifecycle requirements of solar energy storage. In contrast, a lead-acid battery -- another type of battery for solar storage -- would need to be replaced up to five times through the typical lifetime of a photovoltaic system.

“We see sodium-ion batteries offering strategic and technological advantages for solar and grid energy storage applications,” Bagat said.

The new partnership’s effort is just one of a number tackling solar energy storage, which continues to be a hotbed of research not only to make solar storage cheaper, but also a more viable option for the power grid.

While the new partnership’s work focuses on more accessible and smaller-scale solar energy storage, other efforts from companies like Ambri, as well as researchers at Harvard and other institutions, focus on the development of flow and other types of batteries for large-scale storage.

Indeed, all of this focus means there is a significant business opportunity in this market, with Lux Research predicting the market for energy storage for solar energy systems to grow to $8 billion by 2026.


Woodrow Wilson Center: ‘Giant Number of Refugees’ Are Result of Climate Change

Wars in the Middle East nothing to do with it?

During an event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Thursday to discuss how women are disproportionately affected by climate change in developing countries, Jane Harman, president and CEO of the center, said that many of the refugees around the globe today are being displaced by climate change.

Harman said it is in the interest of the United States to “build resilience” in these countries to prevent migration and even terrorism.

“It seems to me that the U.S. has a direct interest in building government capacity, which will build resilience in the countries you’re talking about,” Harman said.

“Because if we don’t do it, guess what happens?” she said. “What we’re seeing right now is – it’s not just refugee flows, which is also horrible and heartbreaking – oh by the way, climate refugees are a giant number of refugees.”

We’re also seeing the export of terrorism caused by instability in those countries, Harman said.

“So it seems to me if we want to reduce – we’ll never totally prevent it – but want to reduce the terror threat to the United States, we have to help build resilient capacity in countries abroad,” she said.

The framework for the conference,  “At the Eye of the Storm: Women and Climate Change,” was described as follows:

“Struggling to save their failing crops. Walking farther to fetch clean water. Protecting their families from devastating storms and violent conflicts. Experts warn that women in developing countries will be disproportionately affected by climate changes. But women could also hold the keys to solving the climate challenge.

“Empowering women through education, economic opportunities, and reproductive health care can make surprising contributions to the climate fight. To make this happen, we need to bridge sectoral barriers and work together to ensure that women are climate victors, and not climate victims.”

One panelist, Public Policy Fellow Maxine Burkett, shared the story of an Indonesian woman who wants to save the forests in her country.

“My people regard the Earth as the human body,” “Mama” Aleta Baun said. “Stone is our bone. Water is our blood. Land is our flesh. Forest is our hair.”  “If one of them is taken away, we are paralyzed,” Baun said.


This Could Be The Biggest Threat To Our Climate If We Don't Act Fast

Pure comedy: We read below that the "threat" is "equivalent to the annual emissions of 200 cars".  How frightening!  We seem to survive with many millions of cars on the road so 200 more or less will mean nothing

When you think “peatland”, you probably picture water, or mosquitoes, or creepily preserved human artefacts. What most of us don’t consider are catastrophic wildfires — but that’s precisely what scientists are now worried about when it comes to one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth.

Mike Waddington is a forest ecologist at McMaster University in Ontario. He’s been studying the peatlands that pepper the Canadian boreal forest for going on 30 years, and he’s begun to notice an alarming trend. When peatlands that have been drained by humans for forestry or mining catch on fire, they burn like crazy, eating through metres of carbon-rich soil over the course of months.

“I always tell people to think about the fire swamp from Princess Bride,” Waddington told Gizmodo. “Peat fires are very difficult to put out because they just keep smouldering down into the soil.”

Sphagnum moss acts as a natural fire suppressor in peatlands, but it’s often lost when these ecosystems are drained.

Over the last few years, Waddington and his colleagues have been piecing together the ecological and hydrological changes that are causing managed peatlands across north America, Scandinavia and Russia to become some of the best natural fire starters on Earth. When peatlands are drained, centuries of years of accumulated organic matter (basically, coal that isn’t coal yet) become exposed to the surface. Couple this new fuel source with ecological changes — the disappearance of sphagnum moss that acts as a natural flame retardant, and the invasion of large spruce trees that can shoot fiery embers hundreds of metres skyward — and you’ve got the perfect storm of conditions for a very large, very dangerous fire.

Waddington’s latest study, which appears today in Nature Scientific Reports, takes these observations to their sobering conclusion: Peatlands, especially those that humans have messed with, are ticking carbon time bombs. Combining measurements on drained and mined peatlands in Canada and northern Europe, the study finds that under modern weather conditions, catastrophic “deep burns” can lead to over 200 tonnes of carbon released per hectare.

That’s roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 200 cars. And given that catastrophic wildfires have developed a nasty habit of burning across hundreds of thousands to millions of hectares, this could become a major new source of climate-warming greenhouse gases.

“These ecosystems have been storing and removing carbon for millennia, but they have the potential to become an enormous carbon source in the future,” Waddington said, adding that according to his models, the warming and drying brought on by climate change is causing the fire risk to become even greater for many peatlands. We need only look at the peat fires in Indonesia last spring, which were at one point emitting more carbon than entire the US economy, for a glimpse of what the future could hold.

The good news is, there’s still time to prevent peat fires from singlehandedly undoing everything we’ve done to cut back on fossil fuels. We can restore peatlands to their natural state. “By just rewetting peatlands, the fire risk is reduced greatly,” Waddington said. “Reducing fuel loads — removing black spruce trees to get the mosses to come back — is also critical.”

Waddington and his colleagues are sharing their findings with land managers throughout Canada, who are starting to take the issue of peat fires very seriously, particularly in light of the megafire that ripped through Fort McMurray and surrounding wildlands earlier this autumn. Let’s just hope that awareness of this problem translates into swift action. There are roughly 21 million hectares of managed peatlands across the world’s northern forests, and we need them on our side in the fight against climate change.


Oakland Officials Vote to Ban Coal Handling and Storage at New Shipping Terminal

The Oakland City Council voted to ban the handling and storage of coal and coke at the city’s terminals and bulk material facilities. The unanimous vote came after a long, packed city council meeting; advocates and opponents of the ban demonstrated outside. A second, largely procedural, vote is expected in July.

The ban aims to derail a proposed deal that would have granted four coal-producing counties in Utah rail access to a major commodities shipping terminal under development on city land, adjacent to the Port of Oakland.

The new terminal is part of a major redevelopment of an old Army Base the city hopes will bring thousands of jobs to a city that still has pockets of poverty and violence, even as the region’s tech sector booms and housing costs rise. Utah had agreed to invest $53 million in the project for the right to export its goods.

California ports in Stockton, Richmond and Long Beach export coal, but because of climate change and pollution concerns, such terminals have become highly contested on the West Coast. Environmentalists have defeated similar proposals in Oregon and Washington.

The battle ignited in Oakland after the plan to allow coal to be shipped through the terminal was made public, roiling local politics in the city of about 414,000. Among those opposed to the plan was Mayor Libby Schaaf, a former aide to Mr. Brown when he was mayor of the city from 1999 to 2007.

Environmentalists and some community groups opposed allowing coal to be shipped through the city. The Sierra Club, which led opposition to the plan, argued coal dust has been linked to decreased lung capacity, childhood bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema and heart disease.

Brittany King, conservation coordinator for the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, said Monday that the ban would “protect Oakland from dirty, dangerous coal exports,” and respected “the will of the people.”

Mark McClure, vice president of the California Capital and Investment Group, which is financing the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, said late Monday the company “will continue to honor all of our commitments to the City of Oakland and our partners to deliver on the promise of the Oakland Global development.”

But the company’s chief executive, Phil Tagami, said last year that restricting commodities at the terminal could harm the project’s success.  Mr. Tagami is a local businessman with close ties to Mr. Brown, who has been outspoken on combating climate change.  Mr. Brown is an investor with Mr. Tagami in an Oakland office building, according to an economic disclosure form filed by the governor.

During Mr. Brown’s gubernatorial administration, Mr. Tagami served as chairman of the state’s Lottery Commission and as a member of its Medical Board; he left the administration in 2013.

A spokesman for Mr. Brown said Monday before the vote that the governor declined to comment on the Oakland terminal, or the proposed ban.

The terminal, which would sit at the end of an existing track network, would be managed by Terminal Logistics Solutions, a company that is looking to partner with the Utah counties to export commodities including coal.

The project, dubbed Oakland Global, is expected to bring inasmuch as $2.9 million in annual property taxes for the city, schools and other local governments, and has already created more than 2,300 jobs, Mr. Tagami has said.

Utah has sought new markets for its coal as energy companies and utilities in the U.S. have moved toward natural-gas plants and renewable forms of energy due to stricter federal pollution rules. While coal mining represents a fraction of Utah’s economy, it has long been a source of jobs for counties in the central and southeastern part of the state.


Where has that rain gone?

As I have pointed out many times, one implication of AGW theory is that global warming will cause an increase in rain and snow.  So the galoots below are puzzled that there has been no recent such increases.  So they have modelled up a solution that blames aerosols.  They have apparently overlooked that any global warming is so minuscule that any effect of it would be undetectable

Global warming without global mean precipitation increase?

Marc Salzmann


Global climate models simulate a robust increase of global mean precipitation of about 1.5 to 2% per kelvin surface warming in response to greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing. Here, it is shown that the sensitivity to aerosol cooling is robust as well, albeit roughly twice as large. This larger sensitivity is consistent with energy budget arguments. At the same time, it is still considerably lower than the 6.5 to 7% K−1 decrease of the water vapor concentration with cooling from anthropogenic aerosol because the water vapor radiative feedback lowers the hydrological sensitivity to anthropogenic forcings. When GHG and aerosol forcings are combined, the climate models with a realistic 20th century warming indicate that the global mean precipitation increase due to GHG warming has, until recently, been completely masked by aerosol drying. This explains the apparent lack of sensitivity of the global mean precipitation to the net global warming recently found in observations. As the importance of GHG warming increases in the future, a clear signal will emerge.

Science Advances  24 Jun 2016: Vol. 2, no. 6, e1501572. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501572


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1 comment:

Joseph said...

"A competent regulatory authority"?

Is there such a thing?