Thursday, June 30, 2016

North American Leaders Unite to Combat Climate Change and Protect the Environment

North America is setting the pace for international climate and environmental cooperation. At a summit hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday June 29th, American President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced an historic continent wide clean energy plan. The deal known as the North American climate, clean energy and environment partnership contains "aggressive but achievable" goals.

The three "Amigos" agreed to an unprecedented North America clean energy partnership. They also agreed to work with indigenous people on environmental issues and protect the rights of the LGBT community. As a tangible refutation of the Brexit and Donald Trump's isolationist policy stance the three leaders emphasized the importance of working closely together.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Solar Roadways: Science Fiction Becoming Reality

Solar roads are entering a new test phase that will see them installed along a portion of the iconic route 66. Solar Roadways is the brainchild of Scott and Julie Brusaw of Idaho.  It all started ten years ago when Scott, an electrical engineer and his wife Julie began to imagine how solar panels could be embedded into the road. The concept eventually incorporated LEDs that could illuminate highways, and replace road lines. These solar panels can also be heated enabling them to melt snow and ice. The panels used in olar roadways are made out of recycled glass and in addition to collecting renewable energy, the panels can even redistribute storm water.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Costs of Volkswagen's Greenwash Continue to Mount

The chickens are coming home to roost over Volkswagen's epic greenwash. Earlier this year it was reported that Volkswagen's pre-tax profits fell 20 percent. The disgraced auto company has just reached a more than 14 billion settlement in the US. However, their legal troubles are far from over. They are being sued by multiple litigants ranging from governments to groups of private citizens.

VW's sales have dropped precipitously and their most recent quarterly market share in Europe has dropped to a five year low. May marked the eighth consecutive month of falling market share in Europe.

Monday, June 27, 2016

40 More Eco-Apps that put Technology to Work for the Environment

There are more than two million apps and a growing number of them have an ecological purpose. The huge and growing eco-apps market is making a significant contribution to the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants.

This post is a follow-up to a 2012 eco-apps article. When that article was published four years ago there were less than 800,000 apps. As of June 2016, there are approximately 2.2 million apps available for download from the major sellers. In 2015, global mobile app revenues amounted to $41.1 billion. Consumers are projected to more than double their spend on apps over the next four years. By 2020, the apps market is expected to be worth more than $100 billion.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Event - Global Summit on Smart, Secure & Sustainable Cities

The Global Summit on Smart, Secure & Sustainable Cities: Opportunities and Challenges in India will take place on July 17 - 20, 2016 at Harte & Garter, Windsor, Royal Berkshire, UK.

The conference will focus on the opportunities and challenges that India offers in building ‘Smart,Secure and Sustainable Cities’ in the context of energy, infrastructure, communications, Internet of Things, cybersecurity, water, and waste management.

Event - UK Marine Energy Conference 2016

The UK Marine Energy Conference 2016 will take place on July 5th at the Glasgow Marriott Hotel, 500 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8RR, United Kingdom.

The conference will focus on accelerating wave and tidal energy as viable energy alternatives, while maintaining the UK & Ireland's position at the forefront of marine energy development. This Conference will bring together those at the forefront of wave & tidal technology within the UK and Ireland. This event aims to accelerate marine energy as a viable energy alternative and maintain the UK & Ireland’s position as leaders of this emerging market..

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit Implications for the Climate and the Environment (Video)

The Brexit is a pyrrhic victory. Make no mistake about it, Britain's exit from Europe is bad news for environmental and climate policy and not just in the UK. Compounding the problem is the fact that uncertainty will further destabilize a less than stable economy. Brexit has already wiped $2 trillion off world markets.

We can expect less external pressure to address environmental and climate issues and it could ultimately gut the UK's green policy initiatives.

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Pipeline Safety Law Followed by Another Oil Spill

Mere hours after President Obama signed the PIPES safety bill into law, a pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of oil. Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 became law on June 22nd. Within hours of the signing an oil pipeline erupted in Ventura County, California. It was first noticed by a local rancher early Thursday morning.
The spill emanated from a ten inch underground pipeline owned by Colorado-based Crimson Pipeline LLC. It sent an estimated 29,400 gallons of crude oil down into an arroyo that flows through the city of Ventura and reaches the ocean near the Ventura Pier. The spill marks Crimson’s 11th such incident in the last ten years.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Apple's Apps for Earth Initiative Raised Awareness and Funds for WWF

Apps are big business and a partnership between Apple and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) funneled some of these revenues to ecological causes.  Given the number of apps and the volume of demand  using apps to generate revenues for the environment is a boon. As of June 2016 there are approximately 2.2 million apps available and 2 million in the Apple App Store. In 2015, global mobile app revenues amounted to $41.1 billion. In 2020, consumers are projected to spend over $101 billion on mobile apps via app stores.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Clmate Change Fueling Wildfires in North America and Russia

Wildfires fueled by record heat have ravaged areas across North America and Russia this year. This year is very much like last year. However, the western fires of 2015, were not as widespread and they came later than they did this year. 

There is strong evidence that global warming has lengthened wildfire seasons. This research is corroborated by recent observations in North America and Russia. Across the continent warm temperatures are melting snowpacks, exacerbating droughts and contributing to the number and size of wildfires. Heat is an important catalyst for forest fires and temperatures continue to soar. Even before the start of summer Phoenix hit a sweltering 127 degree F [or 53 C]. Heat records are being broken in many states and in parts of Southern California temperatures exceeded 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Climate Refugees Need to be Formally Recognized

We need to start preparing to address the flood of climate refugees that will continue to increase as the planet warms. Climate change will make the current refugee crisis look insignificant. Climate refugees are already being forced to flee their homelands.

The Coming Climate Refugee Crisis

To commemorate International Refugee Day, here is a re-post of an article from earlier this year on the scope of the climate refugee problem both present and future. 
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The refugees pouring out of Syria and Iraq has focused global attention on migrants however the unfolding human catastrophe will be dwarfed by the coming climate refugee crisis. The issue of climate refugees is an international problem that is already impacting the US.

The refugees streaming from Syria and Iraq was caused in part by climate impacts in the Levant. However, the refugees that streamed out of Syria and Iraq in 2015 is nothing compared to the number of climate refugees we can expect in the years to come.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Event - New Energy Forum, NEF-2016: The Light of Hope for New Energy

The 6th Annual New Energy Forum, NEF-2016: The Light of Hope for New Energy will take place on June 30 - July 3 in Goyang City, Gyeonggi, South Korea

With the reduction of traditional fossil fuels and increasingly serious global environmental degradation and health dangers, we are ready to meet new age of energy production. While human demands for energy will not decrease, the largest shifts are the increase in the renewable energy share and the decline in the traditional energy share. New energy occupies an increasingly important position in the whole energy system. New sources of energy, aided by improved technology and productivity, underpinned by large-scale investments make a significant contribution to supply growth. Entering its 6th year, New Energy Forum (NEF) has been grown substantially, NEF-2016 will provide a perfect opportunity to researchers from academia and professionals from industry, as well as government regulators to tackle energy challenges, and exchange best practices about improved new energy technology and cooperation.

Event - ISEE Conference: Environmental Ethics and Economics: Values & Choices

The 2016 edition of the annual ISEE Conference will take place on June 29 - July 2 at Pace University One Pace Plaza, New York City, NY 10038. The theme this year is "Environmental Ethics and Economics: Values & Choices".

This conference asks the question: Can environmental philosophy avoid a sustained critique of the current political-economic system and remain sincere participants in the environmental community?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fort McMurray Fire Post Mortem: Forest Fires, Climate Change and Fossil Fuels (Videos)

The Fort McMurray fire forces us to take a closer look at the relationship between fires and climate change as well as the relationship between fossil fuels, climate change and ecological degradation. We cannot attribute an individual fire to climate change with any certainty, however it would be inaccurate to say the climate change plays no role in wildfires. We can explore wider trends that do indicate that forest fires will increase as the planet continues to warm.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Green Banks Leverage Private Investments for Climate Finance

In addition to creating new jobs and improving the environment Green Banks are essential to ramping-up clean energy finance. Such banks are capable of helping to unleash the vast potential of climate focused investing. Green Banks reduce the cost of clean energy and efficiency. They are helping to change market thinking by taking a holistic, long-term view of industry support.

A Green Bank is a government-created institution that facilitates private sector financing for clean technology projects. Different Green Banks have different programs, however, they all leverage public funds to attract private investment.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Courts are Defending the Climate and the Environment

The courts are emerging as a powerful tool to drive climate action and protect the environment. US courts have been maligned for a number of questionable rulings not the least of which is Citizens United which increases the power of corporations and gives them unlimited authority to influence electoral outcomes through campaign spending. In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that the Obama adminstration should have considered the compliance costs when crafting clean air regulations.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Time to Tell the Truth About Climate Change

For years I have written about climate narratives cautiously avoiding the dark truth for fear of scaring people into a state of paralysis. The denial of climate change is premised on psychological realities which I have titled the "Cycle of Climate Change Acceptance".  The research suggests that pessimistic narratives (aka scientifically accurate climate forecasts) can cause avoidance behavior which undermines environmental action.  However, we have reached a turning point and the world is beginning to wake-up to the threats associated with the climate crisis. This is a welcome, albeit long overdue development.  Our window of opportunity is closing so we must act now. It is time to enter the next phase of climate communication, sharing the terrifying scientific truths with the hope of expediting climate action.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Seventeen Decades of Climate Inaction

It has been almost 170 years since we first heard about climate change and we have still not come close to doing what we must do in order to avert a global disaster of unprecedented proportions. We have known for decades that greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of climate change.

In pre-industrial times levels of CO2 were around 280 parts per million. As emission levels surpass 400 ppm for the first time in many millions of years we can expect a wide range of devastating consequences.

Entrenched interests in both the private sector and political circles succeeded in interjecting doubt about the veracity of climate science. Their clever maneuvers now threatens human civilization and many life forms that live on this planet. The human race may be beginning to realize just how serious these threats are.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Event - International Conference on Renewable Energy and Bioenergy (ICREB)

The second International Conference on Renewable Energy and Bioenergy (ICREB) 2016 will take place from June 29  - July 02 July 2016 in Constanta, Romania.

The main objective of ICREB 2016 is to provide a platform for engineers, academicians, scientists, industrial professionals and researchers from over the world to present the result of their research activities in the field of Renewable Energy and Bioenergy. ICREB 2016 provides opportunities for the delegates to share the knowledge, ideas, innovations and problem solving techniques.

Event - Global Offshore Wind 2016

This event will take place in Manchester, UK on June 21 - 22, 2016. Renewable UK’s 15th annual offshore wind energy conference and exhibition welcomes the global industry to the heart of the UK - all in one place at one time.

Event - European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC 2016)

The 32nd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition will take place in Munich, Germany on June 20-24, 2016. EU PVSEC - The Innovation Platform for the Global PV Solar Sector is the largest international Conference for Photovoltaic research, technologies and applications, and at the same time a top international PV Industry Exhibition. It gathers the global PV community to conduct business, to network and to present and discuss the latest developments and innovations in Photovoltaics. It is a world renowned science-to-science, business-to-business and science-to-industry platform focused exclusively on the global PV Solar sector.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Hilary Clinton is our Last Best Hope of Tackling Climate Change

Anyone interested in climate action needs to appreciate that Hilary Clinton is our last best hope. Clinton has emerged as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and she is a far better choice than the Republican candidate Donald Trump. To get a handle on what is at stake, voters need to understand that without US involvement, efforts to reign-in climate change are doomed to fail. Clinton has recently received endorsements from the greenest candidate in this election cycle Tom O'Malley and Potus himself, President Barack Obama.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The New RE100 Initiative: 1000 Businesses 100% Renewable

A RE100 initiative is calling on governments to convince one thousand businesses to pledge that they will get all of their energy from renewable sources.  One thousand companies generate roughly 1,000Mt of carbon each year. If these companies switch to renewables, it would reduce global electricity-generated carbon emissions by 10 percent or 3 percent of total global emissions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Europe is Proving that 100% Renewables is Possible

Renewable energy is growing around the world and nations in Europe suggest that the goal of 100 percent renewable energy is possible. In May of this year Germany, Portugal, and the UK all achieved clean energy milestones.

Germany

Germany produced so much renewable energy that the cost of energy actually went negative for a few hours for commercial consumers. As reported by Time, for a few hours on May 15th, Germany's wind, solar, hydro and biomass plants produced more energy than the nation needed. According to data from Agora Energiewende, 45.8 gigawatts were generated exceeding 45.5 gigawatts of demand. Epex Spot indicates that energy prices for commercial consumption dropped to minus 50 euros ($57) a megawatt-hour.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sub-national Climate and Environmental Legislation in the US and Canada

States, provinces and municipalities in North America are showing environmental and climate leadership. Recently an American state and a Canadian province passed the continents most progressive climate and environmental legislation. Early in June the New York State Assembly passed the most ambitious climate bill in the country and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia a law was introduced into the provincial legislature that enshrines environmental rights into law.

As reported by Think Progress, the New York state climate bill, known as the "Climate and Community Protection Act," would require the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from big polluters (those that emit 25,000 tons or more) and big power (23 megawatts or larger) to zero by 2050.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Event - World Conference on Climate Change 2016

The World Conference on Climate Change will take place on October 24 - 26, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.

Here is the list of speakers and subjects for the first day of this three day event:

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Oil Train Derails and Explodes in Oregon Adjacent to the Columbia River (Video)

An oil train derailment and explosion along the Columbia river in Oregon has once again highlighted the dangers of transporting oil by rail. Around noon on Friday June 2nd, 2016, at least 12 rail cars carrying Bakken oil operated by Union Pacific derailed and caught fire. The wreck occurred in the Columbia River Gorge near the community of Mosier in Oregon which is about about 70 miles east of Portland. The derailment and subsequent fire has forced the evacuation of local schools and nearby homes. The I-84 highway has also been closed to traffic. The fire burned overnight and plumes of black smoke were seen billowing from the scene.

The rail line runs adjacent to the Columbia river which is widely used for both recreation and commerce. Residents of the town of Mosier are being asked to boil their water.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Trump Takes his First Beating with More to Come

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has taken his first beating. His ill informed and contradictory statements make for easy fodder. Thinking people recoil in horror at Trump's populism. The man known as "The Donald" has been variously described as a con-man, pathological liar and fascist. On June 2nd the likely Democratic Nominee Hilary Clinton lashed out at the Republican presidential nominee. The verbal lashing was the first time that a rival has taken on Trump since failed GOP contender Ted Cruz took his best shot.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Jurisdictions Across the US are Saying "No" to Fracking

States and other smaller jurisdictions are saying no to fracking. More than 150 towns, cities, and counties across the U.S. have already adopted such policies. A number of US jurisdictions have passed laws forbidding fracking. Some have even mandated that up to one-third of their power must come from renewable sources by 2020.

After a thorough investigation the state of New York State banned fracking at the start of 2015. Maryland has put a moratorium on the practice and Maryland county became the first in the state to ban fracking outright.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The State of Renewable Energy: Summary of the Key Findings in the REN21 GSR 2016 Report

The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) has just released its annual Global Status Report (GSR). This collaborative multi-stakeholder renewable energy report draws on hundreds of experts, authors, contributors and reviewers. It provides information designed to assist in policy development and clean energy deployment. The GSR is the most frequently reference report on renewable energy market, industry and policy trends.

In the section "Mainstreaming Renewables: Guidance for Policy Makers," started by referencing the adoption of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is focused on the provision of sustainable energy for all and the Paris Agreement which committed the 195 nation's that signed it to more renewables and greater efficiency.

Political Decision Making

The report draws attention to the linkage between environmental protection, poverty reduction, economic growth and technology development. It specifically addresses the need for ministerial collaboration between finance, climate and energy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The End of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Providing handouts to the wealthiest corporations on earth does not make much sense, particularly when their activities are the leading driver of climate change. Ending fossil fuel subsidies is the most obvious next step in our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. In the wake of the Paris Climate Agreement forged at COP21, continuing fossil fuel subsidies is an oxymoron.

These subsidies take many forms including, tax breaks, cheap loans, price controls, purchase requirements, purchasing equipment, royalty breaks and direct spending. According to some reports there are over 800 ways that taxpayers support the fossil fuel industry.

Monday, May 30, 2016

How Corporate Transparency can Save the World

Transparency is a central tenant of sustainability. There are powerful social, environmental and economic implications associated with transparency. Corporations are not the only ones that should be concerned about transparency; governments, employees, consumers and the whole of civil society all have a stake.

Transparency is about open access to an organization’s activities and this has implications for everything from climate change to the bottom line.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Event - Managing the Environmental Impacts of UK Infrastructure Development

This event will take place on Tuesday June 21, 2016, 9:00 AM in Kensington Close Hotel, London, United Kingdom. This conference provides an ideal opportunity for environmental consultants to come together with their contractors and clients and share best practice examples of what can be achieved when environmental impacts are considered early in the design and development process. The event is produced jointly by Environment Analyst and Environment Onsite.

Event - World Hydrogen Energy Conference (WHEC)

This event will take place June 13, 2016 - June 16, 2016 at the Palacio de Congresos Expo Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain. WHEC 2016 is the twenty-first World Hydrogen Energy Conference and it is being organized by the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2).

WHEC is the world's most well-known conference in the field of hydrogen energy and fuel cells of the IAHE (International Association for Hydrogen Energy.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tidal Power: Renewable Energy Panacea or Environmental Pariah (Videos)

In June 2016 turbines will be installed to capture the incredible power of Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy. With the largest tides in the world, the Bay of Fundy also has the world's largest tidal energy potential. On its own the bay could supply all of Nova Scotia's energy needs.

Tidal power (tidal energy), is a form of hydro-power that converts the energy obtained from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity. This fledgling emissions free renewable technology has vast potential. It may even prove to be superior to traditional sources of renewable energy because it is far more predictable than wind or solar power.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Second Shell Oil Spill in Less than Two Weeks

For the second time in less than two weeks pipelines belonging to Shell have leaked oil. The most recent spill has leaked 21,000 Gallons (500 barrels) of oil near Tracy in San Joaquin County, California. This time the culprit was the company's underground San Pablo Bay Pipeline which transports crude oil from California’s Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area. The spill took place on May 20th but Shell did not report the leak until the evening of Monday May 23.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Obama Begins to Reign-in Methane Emissions from Fracking

Through the Environmental Protection Agency the Obama administration is cracking down on methane associated with the extraction of fossil fuels. Fugitive emissions are unintended or irregular gas leaks, however most of the emissions associated with fracking are intentional. Releases of gas are part of the standard operating procedure of the extraction process.

Methane is main ingredient in natural gas and one of the world's most potent greenhouse gases. The Obama administration’s new rules to curb methane come in the wake of two reports that illustrate the dangers of fracking. These reports show that methane is seeping into that atmosphere throughout the fracking process from extraction to the end users.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fracking Contaminates Drinking Water

Despite the secrecy of the fracking industry and the protections afforded by some states there is mounting evidence that hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" contaminates drinking water. Fracking is a fossil fuel extraction process that consists of injecting chemicals deep underground to break up shale formations.Conservative estimates indicate that there have been at least 260 documented examples of wells contamination due to fracking in Pennsylvania alone. As reported in Scientific American, a 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA found widespread examples of methane laced drinking water In Pennsylvania. The researchers showed that the closer you are to a fracking site the more likely that your well will be contaminated.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Trump Presidency Would Kill Climate Action and Push us Past Irreversible Tipping Points

The fate of climate action and by extension the health of the planet and all its inhabitants depends on who Americans choose as their next President. The choice is between two unpopular candidates, however the leading Democratic candidate has indicated she will stay the course of the Obama administration's climate leadership while the Republican nominee has vowed to end President Obama's slate of green policy initiatives.