By Reynard Loki – In a grim report released on August 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that climate change was “unequivocally” caused by human activity, and that within two decades, rising temperatures will cause the planet to reach a significant turning point in global warming. The report’s authors—a group of the world’s top climate scientists convened by the United Nations (UN)—predict that by 2040, average global temperatures will be warmer than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, causing more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts and extreme weather events. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the bleak findings a “code red for humanity.”
The report found global warming increasing at a faster rate than earlier predictions estimated. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land… [and] at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years,” the report says. “Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” Even if the world’s nations enacted sharp and stringent reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases today, overall global warming is still estimated to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 20 years. That means that the hotter, more dangerous future that scientists and the Paris climate agreement sought to avoid is now unavoidable.
Linda Mearns, a senior climate scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and one of the report’s co-authors, offered a stern warning: “It’s just guaranteed that it’s going to get worse,” she said, adding that there is “[n]owhere to run, nowhere to hide.” In an interview with the Hill, Kim Cobb, the lead author of the report’s first chapter, said, “We’re already reeling, clearly, from so many of these impacts that the report highlights, especially in the category of extremes that are gripping these headlines and causing so much damage, but of course the 1.5 degree C world is notably and discernibly worse.” more>
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Education, Energy & emissions, History, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Climate change, Earth, Ecology, Industrial economy, Leadership, Physics, Super regions, Technology
By John Fialka – The Department of Energy is preparing to use the massive computing power of its national laboratories to tackle a daily scourge of American life: traffic jams.
The effort is aimed at more than just improving motorists’ moods. If it works, it could cut U.S. transportation fuel consumption up to 20% and reduce auto emissions.
A second goal is to recover as much as $100 billion in lost worker productivity by unsnarling rush hour traffic jams in U.S. cities over the next 10 years.
Two years ago Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., selected Chattanooga, Tenn. (population 182,799), as the guinea pig for their first traffic-cutting experiment.
The city, nestled among the hills and ridges of the southeastern corner of the state, is ranked among the nation’s top 20 most traffic-congested cities.
The first step for NREL scientists was to make a detailed computer model, or what it calls a “digital twin,” of the city’s traffic patterns to isolate and then explore solutions to its snarled rush hours.
“Chattanooga provided an ideal microcosm of conditions and opportunities to work with an exceptional roster of municipal and state partners,” explained John Farrell, who manages the vehicle technology management program for NREL.
“Eventually, the plan is to apply these solutions to larger metropolitan areas and regional corridors across the country.” more>
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, History, How to, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Climate change, Earth, Skills, Technology, Traffic congestion
By Frédéric Simon – While fossil gas is often seen as a transition fuel towards a fully decarbonized energy mix, GE Gas Power sees low-carbon gas as “a destination technology” with the potential to convert power plants to run 100% on clean hydrogen by 2030.
“Today, we have a 50% hydrogen capability for combustion in our largest baseload gas turbines” used for power generation, said Martin O’Neill, vice president at GE Gas Power.
The company’s objective, he explained, is to continue research and development in order “to advance the percentage of hydrogen combustion capability towards 100% by 2030,” he told a EURACTIV event earlier this month.
However, getting there would require a rapid scale up in the production of clean hydrogen, he added. And that will only be possible if multiple sources of low-carbon hydrogen are added to the mix, including so-called “blue hydrogen” where emissions are somehow captured and stored. more>
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Energy & emissions, History, How to, Nature, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Climate change, GE, Hydrogen, Industrial economy, Internet, Skills
A Half-Century of Joe Biden’s Stances on War, Militarism, and the CIA
By Jeremy Scahill – “I’m not going to change,” Joe Biden said in his 2008 vice presidential debate with Sarah Palin. “I have 35 years in public office. People can judge who I am. I haven’t changed in that time.”
Never in U.S. history has the country had a president with the voluminous paper trail that followed Biden into the White House. Since the Vietnam War, Biden has been in public office for all but four of the past 49 years. He has cast thousands of votes, sponsored or co-sponsored hundreds of bills, and taken public positions on virtually every possible foreign and domestic policy issue. He has served long enough to make it possible to chart, in great detail, the evolution of his positions on a range of issues, to analyze his contradictions, and to draw conclusions about how he sees the role of Congress and the executive branch on the most sensitive and consequential decisions made by the government: decisions about war and organized state violence.
The Intercept conducted an exhaustive analysis of Biden’s political career, with a focus on his positions on dozens of U.S. wars and military campaigns, CIA covert actions, and abuses of power; his views on whistleblowers and leakers; and his shifting stance on the often contentious relationship between the executive and legislative branches over war powers. While many of Biden’s positions could be assessed by reviewing his sprawling voting record and public statements, evaluating some of his actions, particularly from the first few decades of his career, required poring over copies of the congressional record, speech transcripts, archival media reports, and declassified government documents, including from the CIA.
The picture that emerges is of a man who is dedicated to the U.S. as an empire, who believes that preserving U.S. national interests and “prestige” on the global stage outweighs considerations of morality or even at times the deaths of innocent people. It also reveals a politician who consistently claims to hold bedrock principles but who often strays from those positions in support of a partisan agenda or because he wants a policy adopted regardless of the hypocrisy or contradictions. Nowhere is this dynamic more pronounced than on U.S. wars.
The picture that emerges is of a man who is dedicated to the U.S. as an empire. more>
Posted in Business, CONGRESS WATCH, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, History, How to, Leadership, Nature, Net, Regulations, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Climate change, Congress Watch, Government, Internet, Joe Biden, Leadership, Skills