+1 I.A.U.

Of course, from XKCD.

(Click image to see bigger picture. Hat tip to Carl Safina for the joke.)

Posted in adaptation, Antarctica, Anthropocene, Arctic, astrophysics, carbon dioxide, civilization, climate, climate change, climate disruption, ecology, environment, geophysics, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, maths, meteorology, physics, rationality, reasonableness, risk, science, sea level rise | Leave a comment

Yep, power to developing countries as simple as that

No tanker trucks needed, no pipelines, no roads, no utilities, no security forces to defend them, and no government back-room-deals with oil and gas companies.

Hat tip to Eco inventos for the original inspiration.

Posted in Anthropocene, civilization, clean disruption, climate education, compassion, conservation, consumption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, destructive economic development, economics, education, efficiency, energy, energy reduction, environment, ethics, fossil fuel divestment, humanism, Hyper Anthropocene, investment in wind and solar energy | 1 Comment

“Mother Nature is not sitting idle”

This is an extension of Eli Rabett’s earlier piece.


Eli Rabett offers a sobering post.
(Click image for larger picture.)
That’s from Solomon, Plattner, Knutti, and Friedlingstein, PNAS, 2009, “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions”.

Posted in Anthropocene, atheism, bifurcations, bridge to nowhere, capricious gods, carbon dioxide | Leave a comment

Advice for a young academic: imposter syndrome

Originally posted on Peter G Knight:

A great deal has been written in the last few years about so-called “imposter syndrome” – the feeling experienced by many young academics that somehow they don’t really belong in their new role as a lecturer and that somehow they should never have been allowed to make the step up from being a student. The fear is that you are not good enough, that you don’t deserve this, that you won’t cope and that you will in due course be found out and exposed. There are books about it. There’s a TED Talk about it. Seeing what has already been written makes me feel like an imposter even thinking about writing this post.

If you are in that situation I have two pieces of advice to get you started:

  1. Get used to it. We all feel that way. Welcome to academia.
  2. Don’t worry. You are not an imposter. You are as good…

View original 812 more words

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Locally generated solar PV will destroy America’s electric utilities: Barclays

We fully expect utilities and regulators to make a good faith effort to preserve the status quo “regulatory compact,” whereby the monopoly utility provides a safe and reliable service and regulators allow it to earn a reasonable low-risk return. However, we also expect them to be playing a constant game of catch-up as solar develops. The costs of solar and storage technologies are falling quickly and may fall even faster as higher demand builds additional scale. But the cost of distribution grids and thermally generated power are more likely to rise than to fall, in our view. As a result, regulators and utilities will be constantly trying to respond to a moving target, which is precisely the environment where slow-moving incumbents can fall behind.

This is from Barclays, not exactly a bastion of left-wing environmental progressivism. It means, Investors: Pay Attention.

It’s a nice companion to Bloomberg’s Why the U.S. Power Grid’s Days Are Numbered, subtitled “Homegrown green energy is making power utilities irrelevant”. Sure, green energy has a long way to go. But this is exponential growth we’re talkin’. Nothing withstands that kind of onslaught.
(Click on image to see larger one.)
Even though solar and wind growth in the USA is impressive, China is still beating us, by a big margin. Original data
from Wikipedia.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, bridge to nowhere, Cape Wind, carbon dioxide, citizenship, clean disruption, climate, climate change, climate disruption, compassion, conservation, consumption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, dynamical systems, economics, efficiency, energy, energy reduction, energy utilities, engineering, environment, ethics, exponential growth, forecasting, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuels, geophysics, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, meteorology, microgrids, physics, prediction, public utility commissions, PUCs, rationality, reasonableness, risk, solar power, statistics, Tony Seba, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Super Hydrophobic Materials

Hat tip to Jeff Galkowski, my son, post-doc in Mathematics at McGill University and at Stanford University, a University of Rochester grad, who recently received a doctorate in Mathematics from University of California, Berkeley.

Posted in chemistry, materials science, McGill University, physics, proud dad, science, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of Rochester | Leave a comment

Leaks in Westwood: Natural Gas — a bridge to nowhere

These are ongoing leaks of natural gas in the Westwood area. They are reported, as required by law, by Eversource, the local utility, to Massachusetts government authorities, along with an indication of Eversource’s estimate of the severity of the leak. All that’s been done here is to display these locations on a Google map, something anyone could do at any time.

There is, apparently, no urgency on the part of the utility to fix these, something which gives pause to those of us who consider fugitive emissions of this methane to be both a threat to climate and to public safety. Moreover, suppliers of natural gas to utilities like Eversource and National Grid, are going crazy building additional transmission lines. National Grid is intending to increase pressure for delivery in these lines which, naturally, will make the leaking worse.

Apparently, the quarterly profitability of utilities and natural gas suppliers allows the construction of new pipelines, paid, as it is by ratepayers, but not the repair of existing pipelines, which may not be.

Natural gas: Not clean. Not cheap. A bridge to nowhere. Dangerous to your family and to the environment.

Ditch natural gas. Switch to solar energy.

(Click on image for a larger version.)

This can be found online. And you can check the status of your community in Massachusetts yourself.

There has been news coverage.

Posted in bridge to nowhere, carbon dioxide, climate, climate change, climate data, climate disruption, conservation, consumption, ecology, energy reduction, energy utilities, environment, fossil fuels, fracking, global warming, investment in wind and solar energy, meteorology, methane, natural gas, open data, pipelines, politics, public utility commissions, PUCs, rationality, reasonableness, risk, spatial statistics, sustainability, the right to know, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Why coastal New England is good for wind

(Click on image for larger graphic.)

By the way, this “sigma.995” says the wind speeds are for where the atmospheric pressure is 0.995 of Sea Level atmospheric pressure.

Compare with Texas. And see this chart of installed wind capacity:
(Click on image for larger graphic.)

Posted in climate, rationality, reasonableness, politics, physics, economics, science, geophysics, environment, ecology, meteorology, civilization, energy, wind power, forecasting, risk, consumption, conservation, carbon dioxide, fossil fuel divestment, investment in wind and solar energy, NOAA, ethics, NCAR, decentralized electric power generation, climate change, games of chance, clean disruption, global warming, climate disruption, decentralized energy, ignorance, Hyper Anthropocene, MA, energy utilities, EIA, NIMBY, Cape Wind | Leave a comment

“Does Local Climate Information Stimulate Action?” | Tyndall°Centre for Climate Change Research ®

Does Local Climate Information Stimulate Action? | Tyndall°Centre for Climate Change Research ®.

In an experiment, we asked people, who live in the U.S. state of Vermont, to what extent they care about other communities/people (self-transcendent values), or their own status and power (self-enhancing values). Prior research suggests that people with self-transcendent values tend to be more concerned about environmental issues and act on them compared with their self-enhancing peers. After assessing value orientations, our study participants received information about climate change. One group [4] received information on local climate impacts (in the Vermont region), while another group received information on global climate impacts (focusing on other regions in the world – i.e., not in Vermont). A control group received no climate information. Following this stage, we asked participants how important they thought climate change was, the extent to which they were willing to make changes in their lives to reduce their personal contribution to climate change (e.g., driving less), and their support for climate policy measures. As we expected, regardless of the kind of information (global or local), participants who held a strong, versus weak, self-transcendent values were more concerned about climate change, more willing to engage in pro-environmental behaviour (such as switching to public transportation), and more supportive of climate policy. However, the focus of the climate information – local or global – greatly mattered for individuals with strong self-enhancing values. For these individuals, hearing about likely local impacts of climate change was demotivating. Instead of spurring action, hearing the local projections about increased flooding and other likely local outcomes made self-enhancing people care less than their similar self-transcendent value oriented peers who read about global outcomes.

I’m not surprised, really. Nobel Laureate and author of Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, has said:

I am very sorry, but I am deeply pessimistic. I really see no path to success on climate change.

Dan Lashof of the NRDC has a summary of this.

Seeing how it performs, both now and in United States history, I am increasingly skeptical the United States Constitution and its 50 mirrors around the country are capable of solving a problem on this spatial and temporal scale. I don’t believe that simply fixing the Citizens United fiasco will do it. And I also believe that, for similar reasons, the This Changes Everything thesis of Naomi Klein would also fail if realized.

Maybe there’s a simpler explanation than Professor Kahneman’s explanation … or maybe his is the same as this. My brother says “Some people are just selfish.”

However the evidence is to be interpreted, this is yet another reason why I am enthusiastic about initiatives which cause the individual and their family to gain, such as the solar and wind energy disruption I have written and extolled several times about here. Basically these are the things Professor Tony Seba writes and speaks about.

I think many environmentalists and environmental progressives have a long way to come to catch up with this. I think many feel the core problem is corporations not people. And, yet, I see, for instance, no overt corporate control in the sheer love and frenzy associated with buying gifts over the Christmas holidays. That’s more like an addiction. But people want things and, in doing so, they produce waste, including greenhouse gases.

So, what to do?

First, and fortunately, energy will go in the right direction, at least for consumers. It will be predominantly electric wind and solar generated, and there will be electric cars and trucks. Some manufacturers have already seen where this is going. Other sectors and more will eventually follow, after solar and wind energy scales. These grow at least 40% every two years. That’s exponential growth. Unfortunately, as I’ve noted many times before, this means people tied by job and unrelenting loyalty to fossil fuel energy and companies will get hurt, either by exponentially increasing rates or by loss of their livelihoods. The former might be alleviated for a time by states and governments spreading the costs over the taxpayer base. Eventually it will be seen as too expensive and an antiquated idea.

Second, for those purchasing decisions, consumers need to see the price of climate and greenhouse gases in the things they buy, so only an aggressive and steep Carbon Tax will send that signal. (More here.) Sorry, I don’t think cap ‘n’ trade mechanisms work in the long run. I don’t mind them or even mind using them in the short term and in the absence of something better, but ….

Posted in Anthropocene, Boston Ethical Society, carbon dioxide, Carbon Tax, citizenship, civilization, clean disruption, climate, climate change, climate disruption, compassion, demand-side solutions, economics, environment, ethics, games of chance, geophysics, global warming, humanism, Hyper Anthropocene, ignorance, meteorology, sociology, temporal myopia, UU Humanists | Leave a comment

A new site in favor of climate disruption

It’s the Coalition to Lower Energy Costs. At the expense of our children’s and grandchildren’s fortunes and sometimes lives, of course.

Read on.

Posted in clean disruption, climate, climate change, climate education, fossil fuels, global warming, methane | Leave a comment