Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday 31

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Global Warming Can Make Extreme Weather Worse.  Now Scientists Can Say by How Much.

Researchers no longer hesitate to blame climate change for floods, fires and heat waves.  Here's how the science works.


A wildfire burns in Alvdalen, central Sweden, on July 26. (Credit: Maja Suslin / EPA file) Click to Enlarge.
When the heat waves, droughts, wildfires and deluges come — as they seem to with increasing regularity these days — the question inevitably arises:  Did climate change play a role?

The answer scientists gave for years was that greenhouse gases created by humans likely contributed to extreme weather, but it was hard to definitively tie the warming atmosphere to any single episode.

But that cautious approach, repeated in thousands of news reports for more than a decade, has been changing in recent months.  Now, scientists say that they will increasingly be able to link extreme weather events to human-caused global warming and to make such determinations quickly, sometimes within days.

So when a heat wave beset Northern Europe early this summer, bringing temperatures in Scandinavia into the 90s, a consortium of researchers operating under the name World Weather Attribution whipped together a series of computer simulations.  Within three days, the scientists issued a finding that the hot spell had been made at least twice as likely because of human-driven climate change.

In less frequent instances, scientists taking more time have reached even bolder conclusions — finding that some extreme events would not have happened at all in a pre-industrial era, when Earth's atmosphere had not been pumped full of carbon dioxide.

The trend promises to become even more pronounced in the coming years, because national weather agencies in countries like Germany and Australia, and the weather service for the European Union, expect to begin issuing regular findings on whether unusual weather events grew out of climate change.

“Usually scientists have been quiet or said only that ‘This is the kind of event that we would expect to happen more often,'" said Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University in England.  "But now we can, and will, be able to say more."

Read more at Global Warming Can Make Extreme Weather Worse.  Now Scientists Can Say by How Much.

Most Land-Based Ecosystems Worldwide Risk 'Major Transformation' Due to Climate Change

 With the "business as usual" emissions scenario expected changes would threaten global biodiversity and derail vital services that nature provides to humanity, such as water security, carbon storage, and recreation. (Credit: © Stephen Bonk / Fotolia) Click to Enlarge.
Without dramatic reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, most of the planet's land-based ecosystems -- from its forests and grasslands to the deserts and tundra -- are at high risk of "major transformation" due to climate change, according to a new study from an international research team.

The researchers used fossil records of global vegetation change that occurred during a period of post-glacial warming to project the magnitude of ecosystem transformations likely in the future under various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

They found that under a "business as usual" emissions scenario, in which little is done to rein in heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions, vegetation changes across the planet's wild landscapes will likely be more far-reaching and disruptive than earlier studies suggested.

The changes would threaten global biodiversity and derail vital services that nature provides to humanity, such as water security, carbon storage,
and recreation, according to study co-author Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

Read more at Most Land-Based Ecosystems Worldwide Risk 'Major Transformation' Due to Climate Change

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thursday 30

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Rise in Insect Pests Under Climate Change to Hit Crop Yields, Study Says

Wheat, corn, and rice are staple foods for 4 billion people.  A new study suggests crop damage from climate change may be far worse than projected as pest risks rise.

Wheat (Credit: CC0 Public Domain) Click to Enlarge.Global warming could increase both the number and appetite of insect pests, new research finds, which could pose a serious threat to global crop production.

The study finds that global warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels – which is the limit set by the Paris Agreement – could cause pest-related yield losses from wheat, rice, and maize to increase by 46%, 19%, and 31%, respectively.

And each additional degree of temperature rise could cause yield losses from insect pests to increase by a further 10-25%, the research shows.

Losses from pest infestation are likely to be largest in China, the US, and France – three of the world’s most important grain producers, according to the findings.

Soaring swarms
At present, around 10-16% of global crop production is lost to pests – including insects, fungi, and bacteria.

Thousands of insect species are known to threaten food production.  One of the most well-known pests, the desert locust, feeds on a wide range of crops – including rice, maize, and sugarcane – and can swarm and strip a crop field within an hour.

Other insects, such as the western corn rootworm, target specific crops.  The rootworm, for example, feeds on maize during both its larval and adult beetle life stages and currently costs US farmers around $1bn a year in lost revenue.

The new study, published in Science, explores how climate change could alter the activity of 38 of the world’s most-studied insect crop pests.

Read more at Rise in Insect Pests Under Climate Change to Hit Crop Yields, Study Says

New York AG:  Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation Nearing End

At a hearing to force the oil giant to turn over more records, the attorney general’s office said it had found 'smoking guns’ suggesting Exxon misled investors.


A state judge urged the New York Attorney General's Office to wrap up its investigation soon. "If you choose to bring a formal complaint," he said, "this is going to be a 2019 trial." (Credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
A New York state judge ordered ExxonMobil on Wednesday to quickly turn over some of the documents sought by the state attorney general's office, which is investigating whether the oil giant misled investors about the risks posed by climate change.

But Justice Barry R. Ostrager allowed the company to withhold one batch of the financial records, saying Exxon could instead respond to questions from the attorney general's investigators about their contents.

Exxon agreed to turn over other records that it had provided to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which earlier this month ended its own investigation into the company's climate accounting practices without taking action.

The mixed instructions came at a hearing in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, where Ostrager began by urging prosecutors to quickly wrap up their investigation and decide whether to press charges against Exxon or move on.

"This cannot go on interminably," he said.  The company has provided millions of pages of documents and answered questions over some three years of investigation, Ostrager said.  "It's not my place to tell you when an investigation ends, but it is my place to put an end date on the requests for information and the filing of a complaint."

Read more at New York AG:  Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation Nearing End

Germany Lags Behind in Battery Race

Car factory (Credit: oilprice.com) Click to Enlarge.
German carmakers are increasingly going EV.  Volkswagen alone has plans for as many as 80 EV models across its brands by 2025.  Also by that year, annual production of EVs should hit 3 million vehicles.  But there is a small problem with these plans:  they might not be competitive enough.  Okay, it’s not a small problem; it is potentially a very big one, and it concerns all German carmakers with EV plans.  The root of the problem is in the batteries.

German carmakers have been buying batteries from China and South Korea so actively that German battery makers have scrapped plans for local battery factories, deepening an already heavy dependence on imported products.  Bosch, for instance, last year said it planned to splash US$23 billion (20 billion euro) on building battery production capacity of 200 GWh by 2030.  Just two months after this announcement in February this year, the car supplier major said it no longer would pursue these plans.

“For Bosch, it’s important to have a technical understanding of cells.  We don’t have to make them ourselves,” Electrek quoted Bosch executive Rolf Bulander as saying at the time.  Yet a lot of other people in the industry and the country’s Chancellor apparently beg to differ.

Read more at Germany Lags Behind in Battery Race

Improving Soil Quality Can Slow Global Warming

Better land management practices can sequester enough carbon to lower global temperatures.


Existing agricultural land management practices and currently managed land can help slow global warming. (Credit: Heather Dang) Click to Enlarge.
Low-tech ways of improving soil quality on farms and rangelands worldwide could pull significant amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere and slow the pace of climate change, according to a new University of California, Berkeley, study.

The researchers found that well-established agricultural management practices such as planting cover crops, optimizing grazing and sowing legumes on rangelands, if instituted globally, could capture enough carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil to make a significant contribution to international global warming targets.

Their initial aim was to determine if such practices could reduce global temperatures at least 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18 degrees Fahrenheit).  This is one-tenth of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's goal of limiting the average global temperature increase between now and the year 2100 to 1 degree Celsius (1.8ºF), or 2" degrees Celsius (3.6ºF)" above temperatures before the industrial revolution.

When combined with aggressive carbon emission reductions -- the best scenario for limiting warming from climate change -- the study found that improved agricultural management could reduce global temperatures 0.26 degrees Celsius -- nearly half a degree Fahrenheit -- by 2100.

Read more at Improving Soil Quality Can Slow Global Warming

Equinor Bets on Offshore Wind as European Oil Firms Push Green Agenda

A logo of Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, is seen at the company's headquarters in Fornebu, Norway May 21, 2018. (Credit: Reuters/Nerijus Adomaitis) Click to Enlarge.
Norway’s Equinor is focusing its green efforts on offshore wind, a goal it is already on its way to achieve, but some investors are concerned about the impact this shift will have on the company’s bottom line.

European oil and gas companies are diversifying their portfolio to include less-emitting sources of energy as a result of the Paris 2015 agreement, which outlines a shift from fossil fuels this century.

Equinor, formerly Statoil, is betting on offshore wind, leveraging its expertise in operating offshore platforms and its ability to scale up small projects into industrial ones.

Last year Equinor opened the first floating offshore wind farm, off Scotland.  And on Tuesday it said it was planning to use floating wind turbines to power offshore oil installations, in a world first.

“I think the floating concept is very fascinating.  We have a leading position there right now,” Equinor CEO Eldar Saetre told Reuters.

Equinor also plans to build three large, bottom-fixed wind projects off the coasts of the United States, Poland and Britain.

The three projects alone could cost around $11.7 billion to build at current prices, which already fulfills the announced budget of 100 billion crowns, or $11.8 billion, according to a Reuters estimate.

By comparison, Repsol has gone into operating hydropower plants, Total is developing solar power and owns a battery producer, while BP bought Britain’s largest electric vehicle charging company.

Read more at Equinor Bets on Offshore Wind as European Oil Firms Push Green Agenda

Green Fund Woes Loom over Upcoming Climate Talks

Difficulties within the UN Green Climate Fund will bleed into sensitive negotiations on climate change next week in Bangkok.


Delegates at a recent Green Climate Fund event in the Pacific (Photo Credit: GCF) Click to Enlarge.
A climate finance crunch is casting a shadow over talks on how the Paris Agreement will work, due to be finalised this year.

The UN’s flagship Green Climate Fund (GCF) hit a crisis last month, as a board meeting collapsed without agreement on a process to raise fresh funds.  Project bids were left in limbo as relations between rich and poor country representatives turned toxic.

It was “really disappointing” for millions of vulnerable people depending on that support, a lead negotiator for the world’s poorest countries told Climate Home News.

“We all have financial gaps and the gaps are becoming bigger and bigger with time,” said Ethiopia’s Gebru Jember Endalew, chair of the least developed countries group at the UN.  “It is going to be difficult to deliver our [national climate plans] and what we want to achieve.”

It risks hampering efforts to advance the rulebook for the Paris Agreement at an extra session of talks in Bangkok next week, he added.  The developing world has emphasised progress on the rulebook must be “balanced”.  That means clarifying how rich nations will deliver the money they promised, as well as developed country priorities like standards for transparent carbon accounting.

“We are moving faster on other issues but when it comes to finance, it is delayed.  Finance is key to deliver the rulebook,” said Endalew.

Read more at Green Fund Woes Loom over Upcoming Climate Talks

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wednesday 29

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

California Advances an Ambitious Climate Policy that Should Be a Model for the World

The state is on the verge of passing a rule requiring 100 percent of its electricity to come from carbon-free sources.


A solar farm at the University of California, Davis. (Credit: UC Davis College of Engineering) Click to Enlarge.
California is accelerating its rollout of clean energy, even as the White House is racing to unravel climate regulations.

On Tuesday evening, the California Assembly passed a bill requiring 100 percent of the state’s electricity to come from carbon-free sources by the end of 2045, putting one of the world’s most aggressive clean-energy policies on track for the governor’s desk. 

Given the size of California’s economy and the bill’s ambitions, it “would be the most important climate law in US history,” says Danny Cullenward, an energy economist and lawyer at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The actual impact of the measure on global emissions and climate risks will be negligible, unless the rest of the world responds in similar ways.  But California is effectively acting as a test bed for what’s technically achievable, providing a massive market for the rollout of clean-energy technologies and building a body of knowledge that other states and nations can leverage, says Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley.

“We are showing that you can operate a grid with high levels of intermittent renewables,” he says.  “That’s something that can be exported to the rest of the world.”

Read more at California Advances an Ambitious Climate Policy that Should Be a Model for the World

Mining for Emissions Reductions:  Strike while the Earth Is Cool

Natural gas fueled electricity generating power plant near Hermiston Oregon. (Photo Credit: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Companies involved in natural resource extraction and refinement are uniquely positioned to both benefit and suffer from society’s response to climate change.  On the one hand, global demand for many metals and minerals is increasing as developing nations rapidly modernize, the global population continues to grow, and certain industries, such as electric vehicles, batteries, and solar photovoltaics (PV), gain momentum.  Mining companies will play a critical role in the energy transition, providing the raw materials needed to grow these nascent industries.  Metals that will likely be needed for the low-carbon transition include copper, silver, aluminum (bauxite), nickel, zinc, neodymium, and indium.

On the other hand, mining companies are vulnerable to both societal pressure and policy changes.  All such companies have a lot of work to do if they are to put themselves on a decarbonization pathway in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.  A recent report by CDP shows that in 2015, half of worldwide industrial greenhouse gas emissions could be traced back to just 50 companies (called carbon majors) working in heavy fossil fuel industries (the report examined scope 1 and 3 emissions).  Mining companies, particularly those involved in coal extraction, ranked high on the list, taking two of the top five spots, and 20 spots overall.  In fact, even three International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) member companies—the “crème de la crème” when it comes to sustainability efforts in the industry—made the list.  Therefore, meeting the goal of the Paris Agreement will require these companies to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 they release and, in some cases, the types of resources they extract.  To date, technology has provided the mining industry with incremental efficiency gains, but dramatic additional emissions reductions will be required if they are to meet both regulatory mandates and societal pressures.

Read more at Mining for Emissions Reductions:  Strike while the Earth Is Cool

Far-Sighted Adaptation to Rising Seas Is Blocked by Just Fixing Eroded Beaches

June 2016’s devastating storms damaged beachfront homes on Sydney’s northern beaches. Some are calling for a seawall to be put in place. (Photograph Credit: Dean Lewins/AAP) Click to Enlarge.
Coastal communities around the world are struggling to adapt to rising sea levels and increasingly severe coastal storms.  In the United States, local governments are making investments to reduce those risks, such as protecting shorelines with seawalls, “nourishing” eroded beaches by adding sand and rerouting or redesigning roads and bridges.

In the short run, spending public money this way is economically rational.  But in the long run, many people who live near coastlines will probably have to relocate as seas continue to rise.

We have studied this problem by combining insights from our work in economics, coastal geomorphology and engineering.  As we have explained elsewhere, short-term actions to adapt to coastal flooding can actually increase risks to lives and property.  By raising the value of coastal properties, these steps encourage people to stay in place and delay decisions about more drastic solutions, such as moving inland.

Keeping millions in harm’s way
According to recent estimates, a 1-foot increase in sea levels will put about 1 million people in the United States at risk, and 3 feet will threaten about 4 million people.  Global sea levels currently are projected to rise 0.5 to 2.1 feet by 2050 and 1.0 to 8.2 feet by 2100.

As we see it, market forces and public risk reduction policies interact in unexpected ways, reducing incentives for communities to make long-term plans for retreating from the shore.  Nourishing beaches and building seawalls signal to individuals and businesses that their risks are lower.  This makes them more likely to build long-lasting structures in risky areas and renovate and maintain existing structures.  As a result, their property values increase, which reinforces economic and political arguments for more risk-reduction engineering.

Read more at Far-Sighted Adaptation to Rising Seas Is Blocked by Just Fixing Eroded Beaches

Warmer-than-Normal Temperatures to Continue in Europe

High fire risk as heat waves bake France to Germany and northern Italy (Credit: AccuWeather) Click to Enlarge.
Above average temperatures are set to continue in most of Europe during the September to November period, forecasts by The Weather Company showed on Tuesday.

“We’ve just experienced the warmest May-July period (ever) in many parts of northern and western Europe, including the UK,” said Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company.

Warmer-than-average conditions will continue, especially in northern Europe, through to November.

“The very early evidence suggests that we could have some significant cold weather, however, especially in the back half of winter,” Crawford added.

Read more at Warmer-than-Normal Temperatures to Continue in Europe

Monday, August 27, 2018

Electric Cars Exceed 1m in Europe as Sales Soar by More Than 40%

Milestone reached nearly a year after China but ahead of the US.


Between January and June around 195,000 plug-in cars were sold across the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. (Photograph Credit: Miles Willis/Getty Images for Go Ultra Low) Click to Enlarge.
There are now more than a million electric cars in Europe after sales soared by more than 40% in the first half of the year, new figures reveal.

Europe hit the milestone nearly a year after China, which has a much larger car market, but ahead of the US, which is expected to reach the landmark later this year driven by the appetite for Tesla’s latest model.

Between January and June around 195,000 plug-in cars were sold across the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, a 42% increase on the same period a year before.

With growth speeding up, the cumulative total is expected to hit 1.35m by the end of the year, according to industry analysts EV-Volumes.

Read more at Electric Cars Exceed 1m in Europe as Sales Soar by More Than 40%

As CO2 Levels Climb, Millions at Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies

An additional 290 million people could face malnutrition by 2050 if little is done to stop the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, a study finds.


Global combined risk of lost iron, zinc and protein, assuming average concentrations of CO2 reach 550ppm by 2050. Dark blue indicates a low score (zero), dark red indicates a high score (nine) and indicates no data. (Source Credit: Smith & Myers (2018)] Click to enlarge.
The increased presence of CO2 in the atmosphere could cause staple crops to produce smaller amounts of nutrients such as zinc, iron, and protein, the researchers say.

Using international datasets of food consumption, the study estimates that these changes could cause an additional 175 million people to be zinc deficient and an additional 122 million people to be protein deficient by 2050.

The findings show that malnutrition is most likely to affect parts of the world that are already grappling with food insecurity, such as India, parts of North Africa, and the Middle East, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

Read more at As CO2 Levels Climb, Millions at Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies

Sunday 26

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Montréal and Laval Award Canada’s Largest-Yet Battery-Electric Bus Contract to New Flyer

Bus diagram (Credit: New Flyer) Click to Enlarge.
The Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) and the Société de transport de Laval (STL) have awarded New Flyer a contract for 40 forty-foot, zero-emission, battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE heavy-duty transit buses, marking the largest-yet battery-electric bus contract in Canada.  The buses will use depot-based charging to slow-charge the buses, which are fitted with 466 kWh battery packs on board.

New Flyer bid successfully against two competitors, confirming its position as now serving all 25 of the largest transit agencies in North America.  The notice to proceed for the pilot bus is expected 31 October 2018, and the notice to proceed for the production buses is expected following the nine month review of the pilot bus.

...
With the announcement, Laval and Montréal join Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Palm Springs, and other cities across North America operating New Flyer’s zero-emission, battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE buses.

Read more at Montréal and Laval Award Canada’s Largest-Yet Battery-Electric Bus Contract to New Flyer

Research Shows that a Low-Carbon Future Will Be a Renewable Future - by Michael Barnard

A Road Map to 100 Percent Renewable Energy in 139 Countries by 2050 (Illustration Credit: The Solutions Project) Click to Enlarge.
There are multiple academic approaches to the inevitable transformation to a 100% renewable future.  They overlap and provide strong support for thesis that electrical generation, and by extension all primary energy needs, will be met by a combination of renewables.  The four this article will cover briefly are the work of Dr. Jacobson of Stanford, the IPCC perspective, Dr. Mark Diesendorf’s work from Australia, and finally a gloss on the current state of large-scale grid integration and transmission.

The most obvious example of a strong academic approach to a 100% renewable solution is Dr. Mark Jacobson and team’s work from Stanford.  In 2017 they took their model for renewable generation for all 50 US states, and extended it to the majority of the countries in the world.  Jacobson et al show clearly that transitioning to 100% renewables is viable by 2050.

This isn’t without controversy and criticism. the team has come under attack from various sources.  The arguments have varying merits.  Jacobson is fiercely defending the assertions made that the models used are broken, quite rightly pointing out that they are robust, accurate, peer-reviewed, iterated, and based on predecessor models which had stood the test of time.  Also fiercely, and with some merit, he’s attacking his critics who are asserting that technologies which they perceive as necessary aren’t in the mix, specifically nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Read more at Research Shows that a Low-Carbon Future  Will Be a Renewable Future

Report Outlines Climate Change Risks Faced by Insurance Sector

Insurance Journal logo Click to Enlarge.
A newly issued report that’s being touted as the “first important review of climate risk by an international financial standard setting body” may get the attention of the insurance community.

If it does, misshttps://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2018/08/23/499027.htmion accomplished.  That’s what the report was designed to do, according to its authors.

The report is from the International Association of Insurance Supervisors and the Sustainable Insurance Forum.

The IAIS is an organization of insurance supervisors and regulators from more than 200 jurisdictions with a mission to promote effective and consistent supervision of the industry.  The SIF, which is convened by UN Environment, is a network of insurance supervisors and regulators working with the goal of strengthening responses to sustainability challenges.

The report outlines climate change risks faced by the insurance sector and it aims to raise awareness for insurers and regulators, or supervisors, of the challenges presented by climate change and how to respond.

The report asserts that physical, transition, and liability risks, as well as figures on extreme weather events, point to a “growing trend of damages, both for insured and uninsured goods.”

The report, which was developed over seven months beginning with IAIS committee meetings in Kuala Lumpur, where the group confirmed climate and sustainability issues as a strategic priority, sets out a framework of observed approaches to address climate change risks and outlines approaches undertaken by SIF members – Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. states of California and Washington.

“It is important to recognize that insurers may be well-versed in understanding the dynamics of such extreme events, and may able to adjust exposures through annual contract re-pricing,” the report states.  “However, the potential for physical climate risks may change in non-linear ways, such as a coincidence of previous un-correlated events, resulting in unexpectedly high claims burdens.”

Read more at Report Outlines Climate Change Risks Faced by Insurance Sector

The World’s Oldest Metal Ushers in Solar Energy Boom

(Credit: American Public Power Association on Unsplash) Click to Enlarge.
When you examine the solar industry’s trajectory over the last decade, the growth is undeniable.  According to a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar energy generation has grown annually by 59 percent on average during the last 10 years; generating enough electricity to power 10.1 million homes.  With 1.6 million solar installations currently installed in the U.S. and 4 million expected to be installed by 2023, the nation stands to increase solar energy generation from 53 to 100 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating capacity within the next four years.

We’re seeing installations of solar energy usage continue to grow in the residential sectors, while seeing exponential growth in commercial markets, as some of the nation’s leading corporations integrate the clean energy technology into their business models.

For example, Target added 40 megawatts (MW) of solar in 2017 alone, bringing the company’s total to 203 MW of installed solar capacity.  According to SEIA’s Solar Means Business report, the top 10 corporate solar users in the U.S. could power over 400,000 homes with 7,400 installations nationwide.  Additionally, just this April, both Google and Apple achieved their goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

We’re also seeing solar integrated into utilities and institutions that shape the way our society functions, including solar powered traffic signals, street lights and water heaters, as well as hospitals, airports and schools.  These institutions encompass expansive roofs and land mass; providing the perfect solar generation environments at a huge energy cost savings.

Increased solar integration can be greatly attributed to favorable economic policies, such as state renewable energy mandates and the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which offers a tax credit for solar installations through 2021 but gradually steps down in the credit value.

The solar industry also has a huge impact on American jobs.  According to the Department of Energy’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, the solar industry employs more than 373,000 workers, double that of those employed by coal.  These workers are employed at more than 9,000 companies, located in every U.S. state, according to SEIA.

And while the sun may be the star of the show, behind the scenes of this green energy revolution remains one age-old, time-tested metal, copper.

Copper has long been known for its use in traditional electrical generation.  Copper wire and cable power homes and buildings, fuel the electrical grid, and are used in electrical transformers and motors.  What many people don’t know is that copper plays an even greater role in renewable energy technology.

Renewables, which have copper wiring, tubing, and cable, offer a potential for copper usage up to five time greater than traditional, fossil fuel electrical generation.  Copper usage in renewable energy technology varies between each system, but on average, it is up to five times greater than in traditional electrical generation.  In addition, copper is also used to connect these systems to energy storage installations and to the larger electrical grid.

Read more at The World’s Oldest Metal Ushers in Solar Energy Boom

Exclusive:  Some Arctic Ground No Longer Freezing—Even in Winter

New data from two Arctic sites suggest some surface layers are no longer freezing.  If that continues, greenhouse gases from permafrost could accelerate climate change.


Permafrost distribution in the Arctic (Credit Source: Philippe Rekacewicz, 2005. The Effect of Climate Change on Permafrost) Click to Enlarge.
Nikita Zimov was teaching students to do ecological fieldwork in northern Siberia when he stumbled on a disturbing clue that the frozen land might be thawing far faster than expected.

Zimov, like his father, Sergey Zimov, has spent years running a research station that tracks climate change in the rapidly warming Russian Far East.  So when students probed the ground and took soil samples amid the mossy hummocks and larch forests near his home, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Nikita Zimov suspected something wasn't right.

In April he sent a team of workers out with heavy drills to be sure.  They bored into the soil a few feet down and found thick, slushy mud. Zimov said that was impossible.  Cherskiy, his community of  3,000 along the Kolyma River, is one of the coldest spots on Earth.  Even in late spring, ground below the surface should be frozen solid.

Except this year, it wasn't.

Every winter across the Arctic, the top few inches or feet of soil and rich plant matter freezes up before thawing again in summer.  Beneath this active layer of ground extending hundreds of feet deeper sits continuously frozen earth called permafrost, which, in places, has stayed frozen for millennia.

But in a region where temperatures can dip to 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, the Zimovs say unusually high snowfall this year worked like a blanket, trapping excess heat in the ground.  They found sections 30 inches deep—soils that typically freeze before Christmas—that had stayed damp and mushy all winter.  For the first time in memory, ground that insulates deep Arctic permafrost simply did not freeze in winter.

"This really is astounding," says Max Holmes, an Arctic scientist with Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.

The discovery has not been peer-reviewed or published and represents limited data from one spot in one year.  But with measurements from another scientist nearby and one an ocean away appearing to support the Zimovs' findings, some Arctic experts are weighing a troubling question:  Could a thaw of permafrost begin decades sooner than many people expect in some of the Arctic's coldest, most carbon-rich regions, releasing trapped greenhouse gases that could accelerate human-caused climate change?

Already, three of the last four years have been earth's hottest on record, with 2018 on schedule to be number four.  And the poles are actually warming far faster, with areas 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Norway reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit this July.  If significant quantities of permafrost start thawing early, that would only make things worse.

"This is a big deal," says Ted Schuur, a permafrost expert at Northern Arizona University.  "In the permafrost world, this is a significant milestone in a disturbing trend—like carbon in the atmosphere reaching 400 parts per million."

Crossing a Threshold
Nearly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere's landmass sits above permafrost.  Trapped in this frozen soil and vegetation is more than twice the carbon found in the atmosphere.

As fossil-fuel burning warms the Earth, this ground is thawing, allowing microbes to consume buried organic matter and release carbon dioxide and shorter-lived methane, which is 25 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2.

Permafrost temperatures across the Arctic have been rising since at least the 1970s—so much that small-scale localized thawing is already underway in many places.  But the vast majority of this frozen land is still insulated by an active layer of freezing and thawing ground above it.

Read more at Exclusive:  Some Arctic Ground No Longer Freezing—Even in Winter

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Saturday 25

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Tesla Staying Public

Elon Musk Listening (Credit: cleantechnica.com) Click to Enlarge.
Tesla CEO & Chairman Elon Musk has conceded to large investors and decided to keep Tesla public.

“I knew the process of going private would be challenging, but it’s clear that it would be even more time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated,” Elon wrote.  “More time-consuming and distracting than initially anticipated” is unsurprising. 

“I met with Tesla’s Board of Directors yesterday and let them know that I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public,” he added.

Read more at Tesla Staying Public

Catholic Institutions Commit to Climate Action

They're speaking out in support of the Paris Agreement.

Cross & factories (Credit: yaleclimateconnections.org) Click to Enlarge.
Last year, President Trump announced that the U.S. will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  But almost 600 U.S. Catholic institutions recently signed a declaration stating that they still support climate action.

Aguto:  “We come upon this with a desire to take this out of the realm of partisanship and economic interest, and to work together in order to manifest climate solutions – so manifesting the most challenging commandments of our faith, which are to love our brother and sister, to love our neighbor, and most importantly and most courageously, to love our enemy, and stepping forth and building bridges towards a common future.”

Jose Aguto of the nonprofit Catholic Climate Covenant says the dioceses, parishes, and schools that signed the declaration will now commit to specific actions.

Aguto:  “For example, having homilies on care for creation, having educational sessions amongst parishioners or reducing your carbon footprint.”

In September the covenant will share the commitments publicly.

Aguto:  “We would love for the Catholic church to be a leader and an inspiration with regard to climate action in spirit, word, and deed.”

Read original at Catholic Institutions Commit to Climate Action

Tesla Battery Life Longer than Anyone (Except Elon & JB) Expected

Ehawk's Tesloop Journey (Credit: cleantechnica.com) Click to Enlarge.
Say “electric car” to the average person and their first question is, “How far can it go?”  The second is, “How long does it take to charge?”  The third is, “How often do you have to replace the battery?”  And the fourth question is, “How much does a new battery cost?”  All good questions, and when electric cars were new, fears of being stuck with a car that needed a costly battery replacement every few years were very real.

High mileage Tesla cars (Credit: cleantechnica.com) Click to Enlarge.Since then, real-world experience has shown that concerns about battery life are overstated.  Yes, Nissan had some issues with battery life in early examples of the LEAF, but since a redesign in 2014, little has been heard in the press about battery replacements for Nissan’s electric car.  If you own a Tesla, the latest figures should really help put your mind at ease.  According to InsideEVs, this is the list of the Tesla automobiles with the highest accumulated mileage:

Tesloop, a southern California intercity shuttle, uses Tesla automobiles exclusively.  In fact, the company put over 300,000 miles on a Model X in less than two years.  That car has lost less than 13% of its original battery capacity.  According to its observation, the bulk of the degradation happened in the first 9 months, with very little after that point.

That’s not to say Tesloop has had no battery issues. The battery in its first car, a Model S, has been replaced twice, both times under warranty. The first replacement came at 194,000 miles, at which point the battery had lost 6% of its original range.  Upon examination, Tesla determined that improper use of the company’s Supercharger network contributed to the degradation.
“Found internal imbalance in HV battery due to consistent supercharging to 100% from a low state of charge (SOC) without any rest periods in between.  HV battery has been approved to be replaced.  Also recommend that customer does not Supercharge on a regular basis and does not charge to 100% on a regular basis.  We  also recommend that the customer use scheduled charging to start charge 3 hours after end of drive at low SOC.”
The second replacement at 324,000 miles was due to a software issue that caused incorrect range estimates.  The battery was replaced and the software was subsequently updated.  No further issues have occurred.  Today, that car is the one you see at the top of the list above — the first Tesla to accumulate more than 400,000 miles.

Tesloop says its cost of maintenance over the life of the car comes to just 5 cents per mile.  It estimates maintenance costs for a Lincoln Town Car over the same number of miles would have been 22 cents  per mile, and for a Mercedes GLS, 25 cents per mile. The car’s front drive motor was replaced at 37,500 miles under warranty.

Worried about battery life?  Don’t be, especially if you are driving a Tesla.  Perform the regular maintenance and avoid regular Supercharging from a low state of charge to 100% capacity.  Then relax and enjoy the ride.

Read original at Tesla Battery Life Longer than Anyone (Except Elon & JB) Expected

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday 24

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

U.S. Wind Power Is ‘Going All Out’ with Bigger Tech, Falling Prices, Reports Show

Three new government reports detail how the wind industry is expanding — offshore and onshore — and the role corporations, technology, and tax credits are playing.


New technology is allowing for bigger, more efficient wind turbines that make wind energy possible even in areas with lower wind speeds. (Credit: Scott Bryant Photography/NREL) Click to Enlarge.
Wind power capacity has tripled across the United States in just the last decade as prices have plunged and the technology has become more muscular, the federal government's energy labs report.

Three new reports released Thursday on the state of U.S. wind power show how the industry is expanding onshore with bigger, more powerful turbines that make wind energy possible even in areas with lower wind speeds.

Offshore, the reports describe a wind industry poised for a market breakthrough.

Read more at U.S. Wind Power Is ‘Going All Out’ with Bigger Tech, Falling Prices, Reports Show