Activists Ask WMO To Name Hurricanes After Climate Change Deniers

A environmental lobbying organisation going by the name of Climate Name Change are lobbying the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to change the current naming system used for hurricanes and tropical storms. The activists say that instead of naming them after normal people they should instead be named after politicians who deny the existence of climate change.

Just two of the big names pulled out as examples are Senator Marco Rubio and House Speaker John Boehner.

“Since 1954, the World Meteorological Organization has been naming extreme storms after people. As scientific evidence shows that climate change is creating increasingly frequent and devastating storms, and with climate scientists declaring these extreme weather events as the new normal, we propose a new naming system. A system that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy.” States the online petition.

People interested in signing the petition can do so here. The number of signatures so far at the time of writing is 22,599. The website also lists all of those who deny the existence of climate change in the USA and their past voting records in terms of support or non-support for legislation with environmental consequences.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efAUCG9oTb8[/youtube]

Image courtesy of Climate Name Change (YouTube)

Humans Have Used Up Yearly “Budget” Of Natural Resources For 2013

The concept of the Earth having “ecological limits” is hardly a new idea. Put simply there is the assumption that the Earth can only provide a certain amount of natural resources and cope with a certain amount of pollution in a sustainable way. The idea of Earth Overshoot Day, explained by the FootPrintNetwork.org, is that every year we exceed our annual sustainable limit and every year that limit is coming earlier. This year we reached the Earth Overshoot Day on August 20th 2013 while in previous years it came much later (earlier is worse/later is better).As the two images show we are now essentially “over our limits” for the rest of the year. If you imagined the Earth like a bank account we would effectively be overdrawn from now to the rest of the year. Though there is one key problem which is that we have been overdrawn for over 30 years now causing sustained permanent damage every year and we are becoming overdrawn “faster” every year.

Of course it isn’t all doom and gloom and it is possible to change the way we interact with our world for the better. This isn’t a “carbon scaremongering” tactic to levy extra taxes upon people but this is an effort to explain to people that we must use resources more cautiously and we must treat the environment like the fragile being it is. In effect we must start living within our means, not on our current course of destructive over-consumption.

To read more about Earth Overshoot Day and its significance please see here.

Images courtesy of FootPrintNetwork

World’s Second Largest Offshore Wind Farm Up And Running In The UK

Business Green reports that UK’s Greater Gabbard wind farm off the coast of Suffolk has now been officially opened. The new offshore windfarm is made up of 140 wind turbines capable of generating an average of 1750 GWh of electricity a year, enough to power 450,000 homes. This makes the project the world’s second largest offshore wind farm and the project provides 14% of the UK’s offshore wind farm electric generation capacity.

The wind farm is located 12 miles from the shoreline of Suffolk. The project is expected to be extended and will reportedly double in size by 2017 under the planned Galloper wind farm extension. The total cost of the project is £1.3 billion and was jointly developed by SSE renewables and RWE npower renewables. The world’s largest offshore wind farm in the world is located in the Thames estuary and is called the London Array.

Despite all the positives surrounding this new opening the UK government still faces criticisms about its commitments to carbon-neutral electricity generation. Business Green states that:

“The government has faced criticism over the extent to which foreign companies have supplied the turbines for the UK’s offshore wind farms and led the development of new projects. The industry has repeatedly warned that without stronger reassurances that the market will continue to develop post 2020 manufacturers will remain reluctant to locate manufacturing plants in the UK, arguing that the government should introduce a decarbonisation target for the power sector for 2030 and sign up to post-2020 EU renewables targets.”

Image courtesy of Business Green

 

Hybrid-Electric Airliners Expected By 2050

While we already have hybrid-electric cars, such as the Toyota Prius, our aviation is still dominated by oil-based fuels. This will be problematic as oil supplies start to dwindle and become more expensive. That is why engineers and scientists with the European Aerospace Consortium EADS and Rolls-Royce are currently developing a hybrid electric propulsion system, Inhabitat reports.

The new aircraft is dubbed E-Thrust and due to its hybrid nature it will burn considerably less fuel than its totally oil-powered counterparts. There are many positive benefits of this for the airline industry. Firstly, less oil-fuel consumption should reduce overall costs of flying as oil prices continue to soar. Secondly, the reduction in oil-fuel consumption will reduce harmful emissions released by the airline industry. Finally, the electric engines run much quieter and will dramatically reduce noise pollution.

Should everything run smoothly and to timetable we can expect to see these new Hybrid-airliners operational by 2050. In my opinion this is a case of too-little too-late as oil supplies will already be dwindling and pollution from air travel will have already reached dangerous levels. As an innovation this is great but as a means of fighting climate change 2050 simply isn’t an ambitious enough target.

Image courtesy of Inhabitat

Serious Polluters In China To Face Death Penalty

Since China underwent rapid industrialisation the problem of containing pollution has been a growing issue for the Chinese government. According to a report by Inhabitat the Chinese government have just got serious on environmental pollution and under a new judicial interpretation Chinese courts could offer up much harsher penalties for environmental crimes. In fact for the most serious environmental offences the Chinese courts could hand out death penalties.

The reasons are relatively clear, some industries generate so much chemical, water and air pollution that they jeopardise public health and even indirectly cause deaths by contaminating water supplies and so forth. China proclaimed this new judicial document with the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

Apparently dumping radioactive substances into sources of drinking water and nature reservers along with incidents that poison more than 30 people or force the evacuation of more than 5000, will be considered an environmental pollution crime for the first time. There are 14 new environmental crimes under the new interpretation.

Is the death penalty one step too far or is it a good thing China is now taking the environment more seriously?

Image courtesy of Inhabitat.com

China Preparing New World’s Tallest Mega Dam

According to news coming out of China, they are preparing another Mega dam project. Information made available to the public suggests this dam will be the world’s tallest at a height of 314 metres (1030 feet). The new mega dam will be a subsidiary of one of China’s state owned power companies the Guodian Group.

The location of this new Mega dam is to be in South-Western Sichuan province on the Dadu river. The estimated cost is a huge £2.9 billion / $4.40 billion and the construction will take approximately 10 years from start to finish.

The design engineers believe this new dam could generate 8 billion KW-hours of electricity every year. Though it certainly doesn’t come without envirornmental costs, the Chinese environmental authorities gave the project the green light despite knowing the potential devastating effects of doing so.

“The project will affect the spawning and movement of rare fish species, as well as the growth of endangered plants, including the Chinese yew, which is under first-class state protection.”

The scale of the project implies that people will need to be relocated and nature relocated where possible. The costs may be large but China desperately needs new ways to meet its rapidly rising electricity demand in a more green way. By 2020 it aims to have 15% of energy supplied by “Green” sources.

China’s state council is currently debating whether or not to approve this new mega dam or not.

What are your thoughts? Are China leading the way with their green energy projects?

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Electric Wind Farm Proposal In Scotland Challenged By Donald Trump

Whether you believe in climate change or not, the issue of electricity generation is one that we will face for a long time. With growing electricity demand we need new ways to generate electricity, particularly in the UK where we are reliant on gas, coal, oil and an ageing stock of nuclear power plants. That is to say, irrelevant of what your opinion is on climate change we still need more electricity and more cost effective long-term ways of generating it.

The proposal to build an offshore windfarm in Scotland’s Aberdeen bay was hoping to be exactly that. The 11 turbines promised to generate enough electricity to power 49,000 homes – while small, it is still a positive start to adding extra capacity to the UK grid that doesn’t rely on expensive imports. However, Donald Trump is now trying, and will probably succeed, in blocking this proposal.

Donald Trump owns a golf course and is in the process of planning luxury hotel buillds in Aberdeen and he believes these wind farms will kill the value of his businesses. He has also made other objections such as he believes the wind farms will actually raise the cost of electricity,  he says they will need to be rebuilt every 4 to 5 years and he claims they cause cancer to nearby people. While you might disagree with Donald Trump’s objections, money does speak, already Swedish energy investors Vattenfall are looking to sell their shares in the project, if you believe media speculation.

What is Donald Trump up against? Well, he is up against the Scottish National Party and minister Alex Salmond, both of whom are strongly committed to the success of the renewable wind energy sector. Donald Trump recently launch an anti-wind farm advertising proposal which fell through as the advertising standards agency said it was misleading.

This type of situation certainly isn’t new as wind farms have always suffered from strong NIMBY (not in my back yard) sentiments. Will business interests prevail or will the windfarm get the go ahead? It is a tough one and it is also hard to call which one is more “in the public’s interest” but as a technology lover I would like to see offshore windfarms grow, succeed and lower energy costs particularly in the UK where electricity costs have been spiralling out of control.

What are your thoughts on this story? We know it isn’t what we usually cover but electricity is the lifeblood of the technology sector.

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Electric Car Company Tesla repaying U.S Govt. Loans ahead of Schedule

Back in 2011 the electric car company Tesla Motors received a $465 million loan from the American Department for Energy to help expand business operations and the growth of the company in an effort to promote more environmentally friendly forms of transport within the United States. The loan was given to the electric car company with the intention that it would be paid back in full by 2022. It seems now that business must be booming at Tesla with their electric car sales because they now plan to repay this loan 5 years ahead of schedule by 2017.

In Tesla’s annual financial report, released on March 7th 2013, Tesla amended the repayment agreement. Their Chief Financial Office, Deepak Ahuja, said that the repayments will begin in 2015 (2 years from now) and will be completed with a lump sum in 2017 (4 years from now). This announcement just goes to show how well the company is clearly doing in terms of sales, operating efficiency and what’s more impressive is that it has done all this in a time of relative economic stagnation and uncertainty that pervades the United States of America and the rest of the Westernised world.

One of the big incentives for Tesla to pay this loan off was the fact that if they hadn’t completed the repayment it by full by 2022 then the U.S government would get 3 million shares and by the looks of things in the next 9 years those Tesla shares are likely to get very valuable indeed if current growth in electric car sales continues. Tesla’s latest production model is a 4 door Sedan, Model S, which has been highly acclaimed winning 2013 car of the year by the Motor Trend magazine, among many other awards. Interestingly enough for Americans is the fact Tesla says they will be producing their first SUV in the fall of 2014 at their Fremont California plant, perfect for the American market where the SUV is still the car in-fashion. 15,000 of these Model X SUVs will be available, and more if demanded.

The future certainly looks bright for Tesla and the electric car industry. Do you think electric cars are a good idea? Would you ever buy one? Have you already got one? Let us know your thoughts on this story.

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NASA Study Shows Dramatic Climactic Changes in Northern Hemisphere

Climate change, global warming, call it what you will (although technically climate change is the correct term), it is a topic that is highly controversial and potentially significant to every single one of us. The latest NASA funded study of records about the last 30 years has shown some quite significant changes for the Northern Hemisphere.

The international team of researchers consisting of leading academics and scientists examined changes in data about temperatures and vegetation growth for the past 30 years for the Northern Hemisphere. The results show that Northern Latitudes now resemble warmer environments 4 to 6 degrees further south (compared to 1980 levels). Vegetation changes in the Northern Hemisphere are particularly significant since the Northern Hemisphere has the vast majority of land mass and thus the vast majority of the world’s vegetation.

“Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more,” said Ranga Myneni of Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment. “In the north’s Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems.”

The satellite data from NASA’s advance radiometers and moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometers (yes that is one hell of a mouthful) between 1982 and 2011 was analysed revealing these significant climactic shifts. One of the NASA staff likened this change to moving Winnipeg, Manitoba to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years. By the end of the century the NASA scientists predict a shift of climate 20 degrees further south compared to the current 4-6 degrees (compared to 1980 levels). These findings were published in the Nature Climate Change Journal if you’d like to go and find out more.

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