ANOTHER PLANET?

CLIMATE-MARCH-570Are we already too late to save Planet Earth? Mankind is clearly failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – indeed our addiction to air travel, meat consumption, energy and private car use is increasing  – despite efforts to promote energy conservation, renewable energy, carbon prices and green taxes. With a growing world population moving towards westernn lifestyles where dos that leave us? One solution might be technological – building carbon capture plants to start to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere  as well as investing in geo-engineering to artificially cool the planet – alongside a need to reverse deforestation and start planting billions of trees. Time is running out.

quant_05In a breakthrough that is bound to catch the attention of the oil industry and even electric car makers, a company has just gained approval for its ‘salt water’ powered car in Europe. The e-Sportlimousine, built by the German company Quant, runs on an electrolyte flow cell power system made by NanoFlowcell that generates a staggering 920 horsepower, goes 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and propels the car to a top speed of 217.5 mph! The flow cell system powering the Quant e-Sportlimousine’s four electric motors develops electricity from an electrochemical reaction created by two electrolyte solutions. This electricity is forwarded to super capacitors where its stored and distributed. More here.

An ancient volcano deep beneath the city of Stoke in England could soon provide heating for residents and businesses – with plans to drill a 2.5km borehole down to allow water to be naturally heated to 85C to produce heating and energy. The £52 million plan has already been pledged £20 million by the UK Government.  Geothermal heating networks are common in continental Europe but there is just one in the UK – in Southampton.

The UK has had its driest and warmest September since records began. Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science found that the heat waves and drought that hit Australia in 2013, the continent’s hottest year on record, were “virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused global warming.” Meanwhile, Stanford researchers published findings in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society concluding that the historic drought plaguing California towns and farmlands is also “very likely” tied to anthropogenic climate change. “This isn’t a projection of 100 years in the future,” climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh said in a statement. “This is an event that is more extreme than any in the observed record, and our research suggests that global warming is playing a role right now.” BUT also in the UK …….. The Global Warming Policy Foundation set up by former Tory chancellor and climate change denier Lord (Nigel) Lawson  as an educational charity has been rapped by the government’s Charity Commission for blurring fact and comment and for lacking neutrality on climate change. The Commission examined the website and material published by Britain’s leading climate sceptic organisation and ruled that “it was difficult not to form the conclusion that the publications and postings on the charity’s website promoted a particular position on global warming.

Germany looks set to ban fracking: Germany has a moratorium on the use of fracking technology to extract unconventional fossil fuels but the method is not banned, something the country’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) hopes to change with swift regulation, EurActiv Germany reports. Maria Krautzberger, the President of the Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA), presented the organisation’s new Fracking-II assessment in Berlin. Her conclusions were clear-cut. “As long as crucial risks related to this technology cannot be predicted and likewise cannot be controlled, fracking should not be used in Germany to extract shale and coalbed gas,” she said “Fracking is and remains a risky technology. For this reason it requires tight safeguards to protect the environment and health,” Krautzberger said in a statement. In a recent joint paper, the German Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel and the Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks agreed on a fracking moratorium until 2022, covering unconventional shale and coalbed gas deposits up to 3,000 metres. The agreement contained exemptions for research and development projects.

India will be a “renewables superpower” according to its new energy minister, but its coal-fired electricity generation will also undergo “very rapid” expansion. However, Piyush Goyal dismissed criticism of the impact of India’s coal rush on climate change , as western governments giving “homilies and pontificating, having enjoyed themselves the fruits of ruining the environment over many years.” The aggressive statements are significant in setting out both how prime minister Narendra Modi will fulfil his government’s ambitious goal to bring electricity to the 300m power-less Indians and also how India will approach the crucial 15 months of negotiations ahead before a UN deal to tackle global warming must be agreed.

The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found. “If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing. “We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

Canada has switched on the first large-scale coal-fired power plant fitted with a technology that proponents say enables the burning of fossil fuels without tipping the world into a climate catastrophe. The project, the first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology, was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming. The Guardian reports that Saskatchewan’s state-owned electricity provider is due to cut the ribbon on the $1.3 billion Canadian project on Thursday. But officials from SaskPower International Inc told guests invited to the ceremony the 110 megawatt plant went live on Tuesday night.

Street protests, petitions and a row over undeclared financial interests heralded the start of parliamentary hearings into the suitability of former oil mogul Miguel Arias Cañete to be the EU’s next climate and energy commissioner. Hundreds of protestors – some dressed in Cañete face masks – gathered outside the European parliament, while the online activist group Avaaz, which has collected 300,000 signatures against Cañete’s candidacy, claimed that thousands of angry constituents had been phoning in complaints to their MEPs.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The first London telephone box to be transformed into a free, solar-powered mobile phone charger has been unveiled today on Tottenham Court Road thanks to support and funding from the Mayor of London The solar-panelled phone boxes provide a clean, carbon-neutral source of energy for phones, tablets, cameras and other devices. Costs are covered through in-booth advertising space enabling the public to power-up free of charge. A new company Solarbox is using this first installation as a pilot before turning more phone boxes green early next year. Heineken has taken its sustainability strategy to the next level by becoming the first major brewer in the UK to implement a large-scale solar panel installation on the roof of one of its flagship production sites in North Yorkshire. John Smith’s Brewery in Tadcaster is set to power up over 4,000 solar panels that cover its huge corrugated iron roof; generating more than 876MWh of electricity each year which will be used to power the brewery’s bottling and canning departments.

Despite highlighting climate change as one of the ‘biggest challenges of this generation’ at the Climate Summit last week, Cameron made no mention of the issue in his final conference speech before next year’s general election today, other than to announce that the UK is ‘leading, not following, on climate change.’ The Prime Minister’s speech follows that of Chancellor George Osborne on Monday, which also made no mention of climate change and only a fleeting reference to renewable energy and offered no mention of the solutions needed to slash carbon emissions. Environment Secretary Liz Truss gave a ‘lack of detail’ on how to tackle the UK’s environmental challenges. But new Energy Minister Matthew Hancock (the ones who sends rather bad taste tweets) wants to make the UK the ‘global centre’ of the sharing economy, announcing a nationwide review into how the concept can benefit businesses. Led by Debbie Wosskow, chief executive of sharing economy advocate ‘Love Home Swap’, the review will assess the opportunities offered by the sharing economy business model, and ways its success can be expedited. For instance, the average car sits idle for 23 hours a day creating ample opportunities for car share schemes. “The sharing economy is disrupting existing markets and changing the face of business,” said Hancock, who is also Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. “By opening doors for everyday entrepreneurs to trade directly with each other online, these new market places are driving down costs and pushing the frontiers of innovation.

Despite an increase of 4% in the production of renewable energy over the past 18 months, new figures have revealed a marked increase in fossil fuel consumption across the US. The latest Monthly Energy Review from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) explains that the release of energy-related emissions – which account for 98% of total US CO2 emissions – had been in decline between 2010 and 2012. But this downward trend has been reversed, with current CO2 levels 2.74% higher than 2013 and 5.96% higher than 2012. Emissions as a result of coal consumption are 12.32% higher, while those from natural gas and petroleum increased by 7.31% and 0.81% respectively. Emissions from biomass energy rose by 6.49% but accounted for less than 6% of the total emissions from fossil fuels and biomass combined.

noaaThousands of walruses are gathered together in Alaska on the shoreline —  as the ice they typically rely on for respite between hunts has all but disappeared. The giant animals are clambering to the coast in record numbers and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) photographed a gathering of 35,000 of the mammals five miles north of Point Lay, an Inupiat Eskimo village 700 miles northwest of Anchorage. The retreat of the Alaskan sea ice north into Arctic Ocean water has accelerated in recent years. It’s bad news for the Pacific walrus, who rely on it for everything from giving birth to diving down to reach the food below. In the journal Nature Communications, researchers using a new model at the University of Cambridge found that: “The massive ice sheet covering most of Greenland is more sensitive to climate change than earlier estimates have suggested, which would accelerate the rising sea levels that threaten coastal communities worldwide.

Solar power could provide more than a quarter of the world’s electricity by 2050, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy – which converts sunlight directly into electricity – could provide 16% of the world’s energy, while solar thermal (STE) – which concentrates the sun’s power to heat water- could account for 11%.”The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years and decades,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released its latest quarterly energy trends publication, highlighting the growing contribution made to the UK’s electricity production by biomass power and biofuels as well as the vital role they play in the reduction of CO2 emissions. The report states that bioenergy accounted for 5.6TWh (7%) of electricity generation in 2014 Q2, an increase of 8.8% compared with the previous year. This is mainly as a result of conversions at both Drax and Ironbridge power stations, which have begun the shift from coal to sustainable biofuel. Commenting on the report, the chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) Dr Nina Skorupska said: “Today’s figures highlight the vital role of biomass in the UK electricity mix. With wind speeds below average, wind generation has actually decreased, so it’s vital that we get more flexible biomass generation into our low carbon power supply as well as more wind.

Tesco, M&S, Homebase and Sky are among a coalition of big businesses that have signed up to a new WWF-UK commitment to use 100% sustainable timber by 2020. The firms, also including Morrisons, Kingfisher and Boots, have pledged to join the national campaign which will attempt to close legal loopholes in the European Union Timber Regulation. The current law allows more than half of timber imports to come from suspected illegal sources.

The UK may have achieved a European Commission waste-to-landfill target eight years ahead of schedule, but it could be hard-pressed to reach the EC target recycling rate of 50% for household waste by 2020. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has today (25 September) sent its waste statistics for 2010 to 2012 through to Eurostat as part of its reporting objectives. The stats reveal that the UK sent 10.3 million tonnes of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) to landfill in 2012, which is equivalent to 29% of a 1995 baseline – well under the 35% figure initially set by the Commission in 1999.

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