Tag Archives: Climate change

Humanity’s fight against climate change is failing. One technology can change that.

By Akshat Rathi – The optimism surrounding renewable energy masks some harsh realities. Despite decades of progress, about 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels—the same as in the 1970s. Since then, we’ve kept adding renewable capacity, but it hasn’t outpaced the growth of the world’s population and its demand for energy.

Today, about 30% of total world energy (and 40% of the world’s electricity) is supplied by coal, which emits more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than nearly any other fuel source.

The hugely valuable oil and gas industries, accounting for 33% and 24% of total world energy use, respectively, are also entrenched. “Based on what we know now, we would need major technological breakthroughs or weak world growth, including for large emerging and developing economies, for oil demand to peak in the next 20 years,” says Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti of the International Monetary Fund. Despite the growth in electric vehicles, most oil companies agree that peak oil is “not in sight.”

If you’re still not convinced, consider this: there are a handful of industries essential to the modern way of life that generate large amounts of carbon dioxide as a side product of the chemistry of their manufacturing process. These carbon-intensive industries—including cement, steel, and ethanol—produce about 20% of all global emissions.

If we want to keep using these products and reach zero emissions, the only option is to have these industries deploy carbon capture. more>

Updates from GE

GE Is Helping Build A Huge Wind Farm On Santa’s Doorstep, Europe’s Largest
By Dorothy Pomerantz – In Markbygden forest in the northern Sweden, the temperature drops to minus 10 degrees Celsius in the winter and bitter winds blow. That makes this area 60 miles south of the arctic circle uncomfortable for humans, but the sparsely populated region, where real reindeer roam, is perfect for a wind farm.

Engineers there are now building the roads and preparing the land to erect some of the world’s largest wind turbines. When the project is complete, 179 GE turbines, each twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, will rise approximately 140 meters above the forest, where they will catch the nearly ceaseless wind to generate 650 megawatts of electricity. When complete in 2019, it will be the largest operating wind farm in Europe, increasing Sweden’s installed wind generation by 12 percent, says Thomas Thomsen of GE Renewables.

GE machines already power Europe’s largest operational wind farm in Fântânele-Cogealac in Romania, which can generate 600 megawatts. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Spain’s Forestalia Group to supply wind turbines for a planned 1,200-megawatt wind farm near Aragon. The company also will supply turbines for the planned 2,000-megawatt Wind Catcher in the Oklahoma Panhandle, which will be the largest wind farm in the U.S. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Daydreaming is Good. It Means You’re Smart
By Jason Maderer – A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that daydreaming during meetings isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It might be a sign that you’re really smart and creative.

“People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering,” said Eric Schumacher, the Georgia Tech associate psychology professor who co-authored the study.

Schumacher says higher efficiency means more capacity to think, and the brain may mind wander when performing easy tasks.

How can you tell if your brain is efficient? One clue is that you can zone in and out of conversations or tasks when appropriate, then naturally tune back in without missing important points or steps.

“Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings,” said Schumacher. “Or school children who are too intellectually advanced for their classes. While it may take five minutes for their friends to learn something new, they figure it out in a minute, then check out and start daydreaming.” more>

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Updates from GE

A Bright Idea: How LEDs Are Helping JPMorgan Chase Become Carbon Neutral
By Bruce Watson – When Mike Norton took over as managing director of real estate at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2015, he took on a weighty responsibility that included finding an efficient and sustainable way to oversee the branding, maintenance, upkeep and design of 6,000 branches and commercial properties around the world. It was a complex task that turned on a simple item: the light bulb.

Norton started talking to the energy management company Current, powered by GE. They devised a plan for a system focusing on improving energy efficiency, productivity and sustainability in nearly 4,500 Chase branches across the U.S. In 2016, that proposal turned into a deal for the world’s largest LED lighting installation, a project covering 25 million square feet of real estate that would eventually lead to energy savings equivalent to taking 27,000 cars off the road.

One year later, Current by GE has installed LEDs in 2,500 Chase branches. The original plan estimated that the installation would lead to 12 percent energy savings. But in reality, the savings have ranged from 15 to 50 percent, depending on the branch.

“It’s common sense: You take a 100-watt phosphorus light bulb and replace it with a 4-watt LED, and it’s going to lower energy usage by quite a bit,” Norton says. more> https://goo.gl/1UiEwV

Updates from GE

By Amy Kover – Standing on a 10-foot-wide platform 365 feet above the rolling green hills of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Kristen Hough looks tiny. The winds at this height are strong enough to spin a 500,000-pound wind turbine at 14 revolutions per minute. One strong gust could push a person over.

But Hough, 28, also looks unafraid. A wind technician, Hough is part of a team that is responsible for the electrical and mechanical upkeep of 61 turbines here that can produce 185 megawatts of energy — enough to power an entire city. She makes the climb to the top of a wind turbine at least once a day. At that height, Hough is in her element. “Even climbing the turbines [the first few times], it was so exciting that I knew it was what I was supposed to do,” she says.

Hough’s shift typically begins each morning at 7 a.m. when lead technician Mitch Burns assigns Hough and her five teammates to either handle routine maintenance — like tightening bolts and greasing gears — or troubleshoot problems. For instance, if the temperature in the gearbox appears a bit high, Hough needs to figure out why and fix it. Sometimes she can resolve the issue with a few taps on her laptop, but it -often requires hands-on attention instead. That’s when Hough gets out her safety gear and starts the long ascent to the top of the turbine. more> https://goo.gl/vWg2At

David Brooks Is Mistaken: The Economy Is Broken

By Steve Denning – Brooks concludes blithely that “the market is working more or less as it’s supposed to.” It is therefore wrong to conclude that the U.S. economy has “structural flaws.” That is “a story that is fundamentally untrue.”

The difficulty with the argument, as Brooks well knows, is that one or two good years don’t make an era. Two years of income growth don’t undo the trauma flowing from 50 years of wage stagnation, much less lead to the conclusion that there are “no structural flaws” in the economy.

The brute fact remains that median salaries have stagnated for some 50 years. That’s the real problem of the U.S. economy that economists ought to be talking about.

When moderates deny the obvious, the disaffected inevitably turn elsewhere.

If moderates want to be listened to, they will need to take a harder look at what is going on, come up with coherent explanations for what has gone wrong, and offer plausible remedial action. more> https://goo.gl/zuoJbQ

Updates from GE

Weathering The Storm: This Tech Will Help Utilities Keep The Lights On

By Bruce Watson – As Hurricane Harvey drenched the Texas coast in August — and Irma devastated the Caribbean and soaked Florida last week — the media was filled with scenes of flooded streets and gymnasiums crowded with people seeking shelter.

If earlier disasters are any indication, a key to these regions’ recovery may lie in how soon they are able to restore electricity to the millions of people who lost it. In the case of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, New York’s inundation with salt water knocked out power across New York City and and in many seaside towns, slowed down recovery efforts, and made it impossible for many people hit by the storm to return to their normal lives — and their jobs. According to some estimates, power and other infrastructure failures may have more than doubled Sandy’s long-term economic losses.

Part of the problem is the way that most regions plan for disasters. Traditional planning tends to focus on recovery — solving the problems caused by a disaster, like sheltering displaced people or fixing failed power grids. By comparison, grid resiliency, an emerging trend in preparedness, works to create infrastructure that will continue to function in the face of disaster or that can recover quickly. more> https://goo.gl/YUPzNT

Updates from Georgia Tech

You and Some ‘Cavemen’ Get a Genetic Health Check
By Ben Brumfield – Heart problems were much more common in the genes of our ancient ancestors than in ours today, according to a new study by geneticists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who computationally compared genetic disease factors in modern humans with those of people through the millennia.

Overall, the news from the study is good. Evolution appears, through the ages, to have weeded out genetic influences that promote disease, while promulgating influences that protect from disease.

But for us modern folks, there’s also a hint of bad news. That generally healthy trend might have reversed in the last 500 to 1,000 years, meaning that, with the exception of cardiovascular ailments, disease risks found in our genes may be on the rise. For mental health, our genetic underpinnings look especially worse than those of our ancient forebears. more> https://goo.gl/txQhqU

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These 5 Countries Are Killing It in the Battle Against Climate Change

By Raya Bidshahri – When it comes to climate change, government leaders and politicians must begin to think beyond their term limits and lifetimes. They must ask themselves not how they can serve their voters, but rather how they can contribute to our species’ progress. They must think beyond the short term economic benefits of fossil fuels, and consider the long term costs to our planet.

Climate change is considered one of the greatest threats to our species. If current trends continue, we can expect an increase in frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves. All of these pose a threat to crops, biodiversity, freshwater supplies and above all, human life.

Here are examples of a few countries leading the way.

Denmark: Considered the most climate-friendly country in the world, Denmark is on the path to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

China: Home to the world’s biggest solar farm, China is the world’s biggest investor in domestic solar energy and is also expanding its investments in renewable energies overseas.

France: Thanks to the production of nuclear energy, representing 80 percent of nationwide energy production, France has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions.

India: The nation is on the path to becoming the third-largest solar market in the world. Solar power has become cheaper than coal in India.

Sweden: Sweden has passed a law that obliges the government to cut all greenhouse emissions by 2045. With more than half of its energy coming from renewable sources and a very successful recycling program, the country leads many initiatives on climate change. more> https://goo.gl/PPrn3b

Away from Oil: A New Approach

By Basil Oberholzer – Two main problems arise from the connections between monetary policy, financial markets and the oil market: the first is financial and economic instability caused by oil price volatility. The second is an environmental problem: a lower oil price inevitably means more oil consumption. This is a threat to the world climate.

Is there a joint answer to these problems? There is. While hitherto existing policy propositions like futures market regulation or a tax on fossil energy face some advantages and disadvantages, they are not able to deal with both the economic instability and the environmental problem at the same time. What is proposed here is a combination of monetary and fiscal policy. Let’s call it the oil price targeting system.

First, to achieve economic stability in the oil market, a stable oil price is needed. Second, to reduce oil consumption, the oil price should be increasing. So, let us imagine that the oil price moves on a stable and continuously rising path in order to fulfill both conditions. To implement this, the oil price has to be determined exogenously. Due to price exogeneity, speculative attacks cannot have any influence on the price and bubbles cannot emerge anymore. The oil price target can be realized by monetary policy by means of purchases and sales of oil futures. Since the central bank has unlimited power to exert demand in the market, it can basically move the oil price wherever it wants. more> https://goo.gl/eUh85j