December 20, 2012

First flexible, fibre-optic solar cell developed - can be woven into clothes

 Chicago skyscrapers go green, slash energy costs

Grid could run on 99.9% renewable energy by 2030

DOE offers 28 million in grants for U.S. offshore wind projects

Strategy developed to use older model water heaters to absorb excess power from renewable grid

Used electric vehicle batteries could be adapted for use in home energy storage

Bangladesh installs one million home solar systems

Yale study indicates Americans are becoming more active in dealing with climate change

System developed to generate electricity from water mains

Solar company delivers large gains for investors

30 megawatts of wave power planned on Mexican coast

December 4, 2012

International Energy Agency increasing pressure to end fossil fuel subsidies

Cost of installing solar fell up to 14% in the last year

Eco-friendly wind/solar power plant exceeded generating targets for 2012 (and the year's not over yet

$300 million raised towards keeping Ecuador's oil IN the ground

New Yorkers finding places to grow food in the city

New turbine blades to reduce cost of wind power by up to 40%

Showtime to air climate change series featuring some serious star power

Hints of an actual desire for action on Capitol Hill

Microsoft to use sewage-biogas fuel cells to power new data center

high-efficiency solar steam power developed

Amazon deforestation in Brazil hits record low

SUNY shuts down pro-hydrofracking "research" facility due to lack of integrity

Research program creates high-efficiency eco-friendly battery

November 5, 2012

Singapore opens the world's first low carbon hydraulic water-driven, tropical vegetable urban vertical farm

Scotland still on track to 100% renewable by 2020, ramping up solar

Photovoltaic plant powered entirely by wind

Small-scale photovoltaic factories coming soon to a neighborhood near you

Electric bus runs for 24 hours, has low maintenance costs, low noise, zero emissions

Green job growth trend continues to look excellent

More progress on energy efficiency in New England

World's Largest Community-Owned Solar Project Launches in England

Solar power brings light to Texas tent city

Americans Use More Efficient and Renewable Energy Technologies

Michigan Tech. scientist: Solar panels worth the investment even in high-snow areas

More evidence: Solar power is contagious. If one person installs, more are likely to follow

Economic impacts of climate change

Parts of the climate change story tend to get put in separate boxes. There’s the impact on nature, and the impact on business, and the impact on tourism, and the impact on farming, and the impact on health, and on homeowners, and so on.

Of course, it can be useful to focus in depth on one or another specific aspect of the overall climate picture, but it is also important to recognize the ways in which these different impacts are connected. The implication that our economy is somehow completely separate from our nation’s ecosystems, and indeed ecosystems around the world, is a fallacy that has been around for ages. In truth, our economy has always been intimately tied to ecology, and this has always been obvious to those who look. We’ve always known that while resources like fish, lumber, and game are self-renewing, if we over-harvest, they won’t be able to keep up, and those whose livelihoods rely on them will be without jobs. Even more basically, bad weather can make for bad business, and history has shown that when a nation becomes poorer and hungrier than it was, stable societies can be shaken up or taken down.

As the climate has warmed in recent decades, many things are changing. This past year, we’ve heard farmers telling us that it was literally too hot for corn to pollinate, and the droughts have been crushing production across the country. This, in many ways, is the most obvious impact. As the temperature continues to rise, so to will food prices. In the Gulf of Maine, fishermen and lobstermen are seeing their stocks change behavior and movement patterns. Shellfish in the ocean are developing various ailments as the ocean’s pH falls. The loss in cold, freshwater fishing revenues across the country has been estimated at $80-90 million per year, rising to as $300 million as the 21st century progresses. Much of this will be due to impacts on common freshwater game fish species; some of which have already been observed in New York.

On land, warm winters do a lot of economic damage in areas where winter tourism is a significant part of the economy. In NH, winter visitors spent about 20% per day more than the annual average, and warm, low-snow winters result in 33% fewer visitors, 15% fewer alpine ski tickets sold, 30% fewer Nordic ski tickets sold, and a similar decline in winter fishing licenses and snowmobile registration. The impact from all this amounts to over 13 million dollars lost in a given warm winter. A “bad winter” is one that is five degrees warmer than average, and current projections show winter temperatures increasing by six degrees by 2050, and 10 degrees by 2100. In addition to all that, the increasingly erratic spring temperatures are having a serious impact on the maple sugar industry throughout New England and New York.

Rising temperatures are also correlated with increased health problems, particularly surrounding respiratory disorders. A number of chemicals form more easily in hot air, and as a result, increasing heat waves have come with lung damage and worsened asthma. Beyond the direct impact, the northward spread of wildlife ranges means that diseases are moving north as well.

Those who deny the existence of man-made climate change, or resist taking action on it, often do so on the basis of economics – the decades-old concept that doing anything about environmental problems will ruin the economy. There has never been any real evidence for this.

Tourism, agriculture, and fishing all depend directly on the climate. Transportation, power bills, public health, and even power generation also depend on the climate.

Because many of the changes to the New England region have been fairly minor, until recent years, parsing out the influence of climate change from other factors is very difficult, especially at the local level. When you take a step back and look at the industries that drive this region, however, it becomes clear that there is an impact, and as the warming continues, and worsens, so will economic disruption.

October 16, 2012

Denmark reaches 2020 goal for solar 8 years early

Energy generation increasingly in the hands of the people in Germany

Rise in Community Choice Aggregation gives people more control over their energy sources

Norway set to double carbon tax on the oil industry to fund climate initiatives

More "greening": more jobs

People are taking direct action to prevent Keystone XL

Wild area of Wyoming saved from fossil fuel development

Shifting to 25% renewable would cost Michiganders a mere 50 cents per month

10,000MW (10GW) of renewable energy projects approved for development on public lands

GE develops new turbine optimized for renewable energy

Number of coal plants closing by 2016 to be double original assessments