Don’t hold your breath, but future historians may look back on 2015 as the year that the renewable energy ascendancy began, the moment when the world started to move decisively away from its reliance on fossil fuels. Those fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal — will, of course, continue to dominate the energy landscape for years to come, adding billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon to the atmosphere. For the first time, however, it appears that a shift to renewable energy sources is gaining momentum. If sustained, it will have momentous implications for the world economy — as profound as the shift from wood to coal or coal to oil in previous centuries.
Global economic growth has, of course, long been powered by an increasing supply of fossil fuels, especially petroleum. Beginning with the United States, countries that succeeded in mastering the extraction and utilization of oil gained immense economic and political power, while countries with huge reserves of oil to exploit and sell, like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, became fabulously wealthy. The giant oil companies that engineered the rise of petroleum made legendary profits, accumulated vast wealth, and grew immensely powerful. Not surprisingly, the oil states and those energy corporations continue to dream of a future in which they will play a dominant role.Full Story
Nothing has caused climate scientists quite as much recent trouble as the so-called “global warming hiatus.” Not only did this approximately 14-year lull in the rise of global mean (or average) temperatures provide fodder for a variety of misguided climate change deniers (there have been other, longer pauses), but it also represented a genuine scientific mystery. Scientists knew it was being caused by falling ocean temperatures, but they also knew that the ocean, as a whole, was warming. Where was the extra heat being stored, and when would it make itself known?
Then this past November Axel Timmermann, a climate scientist at the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center, announced that global mean temperatures had finally resumed their rise, driven mainly by an unprecedented spike in sea surface temperatures in the northeast Pacific.Full Story
In 2009, the Government of Lebanon committed to reach 12% renewable energy in its energy mix by 2020. In addition, the Ministry of Energy and Water, in its Policy Paper for the Electricity Sector, plans to increase the electricity generation capacity based on diversity and security. Even though Lebanon’s share of emissions compared to global emissions is minimal, reaching for renewable energy technologies instead of fossil fuels ensures sustainability.
Now, there is somewhere to start; a cost optimization model has been developed by the UNDP Climate Change Coordination Unit project at the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Program project at the Ministry of Finance to determine the optimal renewable energy mix based on a cost criterion using three technologies: hydropower, wind power and solar energy. The study then analyzes different scenarios while calculating the cost to the Lebanese economy and the government. After the results are presented, the study offers policy suggestions to follow through with the best scenario.Full Story
Oil from the wreck of a Russian trawler that sank off the Canary Islands last week has washed up on the beaches of the picturesque tourist islands, Spain said on Friday.
"On Thursday and the morning (of Friday), 200 cubic meters (7,000 cubic feet) of sea water with oil residues were recovered. On the beaches, 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of oil have been removed," the government said in a statement.Full Story
News that a Texas city is to be powered by 100% renewable energy sparked surprise in an oil-obsessed, Republican-dominated state where fossil fuels are king and climate change activists were described as “the equivalent of the flat-earthers” by U.S. senator and GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.
“I was called an Al Gore clone, a tree-hugger,” says Jim Briggs, interim city manager of Georgetown, a community of about 50,000 people some 25 miles north of Austin.Full Story
Electric vehicle demand in the past five years has soared in this country. The same is true worldwide. By the end of 2014, more than 700,000 total plug-in vehicles had been sold worldwide (plug-in hybrids and pure battery electrics), up from about 400,000 at the end of 2013. As of 2015, dozens of models of electric cars and vans are available for purchase, mostly in Europe, the United States, Japan, and China.
A major reason for the rapid jump in EV sales is the rapid drop in the cost of their key component -– batteries. The energy stored in a battery is measured by kilowatt-hour (kWh). The more kWh stored, the further the car can go on one charge, so a key metric for battery economics is the cost per kWh. The lower the cost, the cheaper it is to build an electric car with a significant range.Full Story
Record-breaking heat waves, long-term drought, “100-year floods” in consecutive years, and increasingly extreme superstorms are becoming the new normal. The planet is now facing an unprecedented era of accelerating and intensifying global climate change, with negative impacts already being widely felt. While global climate change will impact nearly everyone and everything, the greatest impact is already being felt by farmers and anyone who eats food.
When we think of climate change and global warming, visions of coal-fired power plants and solar panels come to mind. Policy discussions and personal action usually revolve around hybrid cars, energy-efficient homes and debates about the latest technological solutions. However, the global agriculture system is at the heart of both the problem and the solution.Full Story
Debates on climate change can break down fairly fast. There are those who believe that mankind's activities are changing the planet's climate, and those who don't.
But a new way to talk about climate change is emerging, which shifts focus from impersonal discussions about greenhouse gas emissions and power plants to a very personal one: your health.Full Story
In a joint statement issued by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French president Francois Hollande, the two leaders have vowed to cooperate closer in the fight against climate change and to work jointly to reach an effective global climate agreement in Paris at the end of the year. The key paragraph of the joint statement, published during last week's visit of Prime Minister Modi to France:
“Tackling the issue of climate change is of vital importance for the sake of today's world and future generations. Prime Minister extended his full support to France for a successful outcome of CoP 21 to UNFCCC to be held in Paris later this year.Full Story
Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, found himself facing a skeptic recently after he outlined the coalition's preparations for Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on global warming.
The woman didn't doubt the science. She just wasn't sure of the bishops.Full Story