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Posts Tagged ‘Earth Day

Climate change whack-a-mole

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALarge water desalinization plant installations that will replenish water supplies hit by shrinking aquifers are good and necessary things, but those plants require a tremendous amount of energy produced from heavily polluting coal-fired plants, a story in the March 18 New Yorker reported.

Uh-oh.

Devouring a passel of “mega-crabs” from the Chesapeake Bay is pretty great if you’re a big fan of the Maryland Blue Crab, but not so good if that enjoyment comes at the expense of the Bay’s oyster population.

Uh-oh again.

It’s hard not to get the feeling that addressing climate change and pollution is often a case of one step forward and two steps back. Or like a perverse game of whack-a-mole. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 22, 2013 at 3:00 am

Climate change on Earth Day: lies, delusion and reality

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Somewhere in China, a professor of political science and ethics, Won Tru Tang, begins his lecture.

“Today students we’ll review some recent statements in the news from America. It will be up to you to determine which, if any, of these statements were actually said, and which are fake. This will be part of next week’s testing on lies, delusion and reality. So listen carefully! Chou, will you please turn on the audio compilation?”

First speaker: “There is no such thing as global warming. The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is. Climate change is an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life.

“We have to have all sorts of government regulations now because of the threats of hydrofracking. It’s the new bogeyman. It’s the new way to try to scare you … And they’re preying on the Northeast, saying, ‘Look what’s going to happen. Ooh, all this bad stuff’s gonna happen, we don’t know all these chemicals and all this stuff, what’s gonna happen?’ Let me tell you what’s going to happen: Nothing’s going to happen, except they will use this to raise money for the radical environmental groups so they can go out and continue to try to purvey their reign of environmental terror on the United States of America.”

Second speaker: “I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. I believe that climate change is occurring. The reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

The tape pauses briefly; the same voice then says: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.

“My view with regards to energy policy is pretty straightforward. And that means let’s aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal, our nuclear power.”

Third speaker: “You know, the greatest hoax I think that has been around in many, many years if not hundreds of years has been this hoax on the environment and global warming. You notice they don’t call it global warming anymore. It’s weather control. The Copenhagen treaty on climate change can’t help the economy. It has to hurt the economy and it can’t possibly help the environment because they’re totally off track on that. It might turn out to be one of the biggest hoaxes of all history, this whole global warming terrorism that they’ve been using, but we’ll have to just wait and see, but it cannot be helpful.

“There is no consensus in the scientific community that global warming is getting worse or that it is manmade. Over 30,000 scientists signed a petition recently directly disputing the claims on which this policy is based. Washington bureaucrats have classified the very air we exhale as a pollutant and have gone unchallenged in this incredible assertion. The logical consequence is that there will come a time when we will have to buy a government permit just to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from our own lungs!”

Fourth speaker: “The evidence is sufficient that we should move towards the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon loading of the atmosphere.”

Another brief pause in the tape; the same voice says: “I don’t think that we have conclusive proof of global warming. And I don’t think we have conclusive proof that humans are at the center of it.”

The tape ends and Professor Won dismisses the class. A student approaches the professor.

“Surely sir, these audio clips are a splicing or computer trick! They can’t possibly have actually been spoken by serious, intellectually honest and consistent people. If true they are truly clueless and dangerous fools.”

The professor merely smiled.

[Image: Hong Kong – climate change canvas by Oxfam International via Flickr] Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 22, 2012 at 2:00 am

Earth Day viewing: Nova’s Power Surge

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PBS’ production of Power Surge, aired on Nova Wednesday night, is an excellent companion as we settle in for Earth Day musings and strategies.

The show lays out the current status of climate change and what is doable on an individual and global basis. For example energy efficiency, while certainly not the total answer, will help tremendously. Take a look at the carbon footprint of the average U.S. family in a year–some 50 tons of CO2!

Remarkably, while there’s no glossing over that what we’ve done to the planet is alarming and dangerous and getting more so — the show has an upbeat and even optimistic message. It’s a solvable crisis because we have the technology and innovative ideas; we need the will for change.

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 22, 2011 at 2:00 am

Cool coolant fights global warming

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Soon your car’s AC might be really really cool, in a green way. The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved a new chemical that can drastically reduce the amount of harmful, ozone-depleting emissions from motor vehicle air conditioning systems.

The eco-friendly refrigerant uses a new chemical developed by Honeywell and DuPont—HFO-1234yf—that the agency and the companies say does not deplete the ozone layer. And when used appropriately, the chemical has a global warming potential that is 99.7 percent less than the current chemical (HFC–134a) used in most car air conditioners.

“It is homegrown innovative solutions like this that save lives and strengthen our economy.” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in a recent EPA release.

EPA said its recently issued standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty motor vehicles “provide an opportunity for automakers to receive credit for adopting a chemical with less climate impact as a cost-effective way to meet the new standards.

“Using HFO-1234yf is one option available to automakers.”

Prior to HFC-134a, car air conditioners generally used CFC-12, a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance.

The new chemical is the product of a joint manufacturing venture of Honeywell and DuPont. The venture was launched last May and several months later General Motors said it would introduce the refrigerant in 2013 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models.

The biggest benefit of HFO-1234yf is that it breaks down faster in the atmosphere than the currently used R-134a. On average, the R-134a refrigerant has an atmospheric life of more than 13 years, giving it a global warming potential (GWP) of more than 1,400. By comparison, the new refrigerant lingers in the atmosphere for only 11 days and has a GWP of 4, a 99.7 percent improvement. By the way GWP is a value used to compare different greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The base measurement for GWP is relative to that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Just in time for Earth Day, something cool to celebrate. Maybe there can be better living through chemicals, or at least better cooling.

Clean tech investment drops dramatically

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cleantech1Clean technology venture investments in North America, Europe, China and India plummeted in the first quarter to about $1 billion across 82 companies, according to the Cleantech Group and Deloitte, the global auditing, tax, consulting and financial advisory services firm.

Cleantech investment in the first quarter plunged 41 percent from the previous quarter, and was down even further, by 48 percent compared to the last year’s first quarter.

Cleantech venture investments have declined for two consecutive quarters since peaking at $2.6 billion in the third quarter last year. This represents the lowest level of venture capital investment in clean technology companies in two years. The average round size has contracted from $20 million in 3Q08 to $12.3 million in the first quarter.

“Cleantech financing is moving into a new phase, characterized by diversified funding sources, as the global recession and liquidity issues impact venture investors. Venture funds continue to invest significant sums, albeit at a slower pace and smaller scale than in the past two years,” says Brian Fan, Cleantech Group’s senior director of research.

Global governments are trying to take up the slack. They are “allocating historic amounts of capital to clean technologies through stimulus packages, loan guarantees and tax incentives, which will enable the cleantech industry to continue to develop,” says Cleantech and Deloitte.

A report titled ‘Towards a Global Green Recovery’ presented at the G20 Summit in London earlier this month estimated that almost $400 billion of about $2.6 trillion in economic stimulus allocations announced so far by G20 nations are earmarked for clean technologies such as renewable energy, improved electrical grids and cleaner cars.

In addition utilities and corporations are increasingly playing a leadership role in developing the sector. “Governments are not the only significant new investors in cleantech…Utilities are also stepping up to fill the funding void and making equity investments in companies,” says Scott Smith, Leader of CleanTech for Deloitte. “Investment plans range from building and operating solar and wind systems to financing third party, shovel-ready projects. These moves underscore cleantech’s emergence as a significant and maturing market that will remain highly relevant—both during and following the economic downturn.”

The leading investment areas from the quarter were solar, biofuels, advanced batteries and electric vehicles:

  • Solar – $346 million
    Deals included Norsun, a Norwegian polysilicon producer, which raised a $72 million round led by Good Energies. Concentrated PV startup SolFocus raised $67 million from Apex Venture Partners, NEA and NGEN. Solar service provider Solar Power Partners raised $47 million, and thin-film startup Sierra Solar Power raised $40 million.
  • Biofuels – $96 million
    Deals included BioMCN, which has developed a process to convert crude glycerine, a byproduct of biodiesel, into methanol. It raised $46 million from Waterland Private Equity. Cellulosic ethanol company ZeaChem raised a $34 million round led by Globespan Partners and Prairie Gold Venture Partners.
  • Advanced batteries – $94 million
    Deals included lithium-ion startup Boston Power, which raised a $55 million round led by Swedish investor Foundation Asset Management. Boston Power’s Sonata batteries were chosen by HP for nearly 70% of its consumer line of notebooks. UK-based Nexeon raised over $14 million from Invesco Perpetual and others for its silicon anode technology for lithium-ion batteries, while Swiss startup ReVolt Technology raised over $13 million for its Zinc-air battery technology for consumer electronics devices
  • Electric vehicles – $78 million
    Deals included Dutch transmission manufacturer Fallbrook Technologies, which raised $25 million from NGEN Partners and Robeco. Scuderi Group raised $20 million for its split cycle internal combustion engine, PHEV manufacturer Bright Automotive raised $11 million from White Pines Partners and Duke Energy, and Smith Electric Vehicles, which manufactures electric trucks and vans, raised $10 million.

Clean technology mergers and acquisitions totaled an estimated 111 transactions in the first quarter, of which totals were disclosed for 25 transactions totaling $3.0 billion. This is down 42 percent from the fourth quarter, which saw 134 M&A transactions, of which 45 were disclosed for a total of $4.8 billion.

Cleantech Group noted four cleantech IPOs in the first quarter, three in China and one in Switzerland. The largest deal was China Singyes Solar Technologies Holdings Ltd, a solar service provider, which raised $8.1 million on the Hong Kong Futures Exchange.

North America accounted for 68 percent of the total, while Europe and Israel accounted for 28 percent, China for 2 percent, and India for 1 percent.

  • Europe: European and Israeli companies raised $281 million in 31 disclosed rounds, down 11% from 4Q08 and down 31% from 1Q08. Despite the overall reduction in amount invested, Europe and Israel increased its proportion of overall global investment to 28%, up from 19% in 4Q08 and 21% in 1Q08.
    The largest deal was a $71.6 million round for Norwegian solar company Norsun, one of the top ten largest deals ever in Europe and Israel, and pulled Norway ($79.2 million in 4 deals) into first position in the country rankings in Europe. The UK was second ($52.9 million, 11 deals) and the Netherlands third (where BioMCN’s $46 million round was the only investment of disclosed value).
  • China: In 1Q09, two Chinese companies, solar equipment company Jiangyin Aikang Solar Equipment Co., and Shanghai Insuring Polymer Materials Co., Ltd. raised USD $21.5 million.
    There were seven M&A deals in China totaling USD $517.5 million; three of these transactions were joint ventures between Chinese companies and multinationals. Cleantech Group noted three cleantech IPOs in China in 1Q09: China Singyes Solar Technologies Holdings Ltd on the Hong Kong stock market, heat exchange manufacturer SmartHeat on NASDAQ, and sustainable fertilizer manufacturer China Green Agriculture Inc. on AMEX.
  • India: In 1Q09, a total of $54 million was invested across 3 deals, out of which one company did not disclose the amount. Jain Irrigation, India’s largest provider of micro-irrigation systems; Sri Biotech, an agri-biotech company and Polygenta all received funding in the quarter. Active investors include IFC, Rabo Equity and Aloe Private Equity. ACME Group, an India-based telecom power solutions company also made an overseas investment of $30 million in California-based eSolar and PAE acquired a strategic stake in Shurjo Energy, a solar panel manufacturer, for $10 million.
    Despite the low investment amount and number of deals recorded in the region, the renewable energy sector in India continues to be very active.  Major Indian companies, such as Tata Power, BHEL and Greenko Group, announced initiatives to ramp up investment in clean energy projects across the country. Several Indian state governments in India also announced policies this quarter to increase the use of solar power and biomass for energy generation.

Cleantech Group’s free download!

Just in time for Earth Day Cleantech Group is offering a free download of its 2008 Annual Review of the Cleantech Sector. It’s publicly available for the first time as a “special gesture” this week. Click here to download the review.

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 21, 2009 at 10:55 am

Earth Day for the rest of us

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While corporations increasingly glom-on to Earth Day as a public relations and marketing tool to demonstrate just how green and sustainable they are – whether they really are or not – the Sierra Club is taking the jamboree back to its more populist and individual roots, with Seven Ways to Heaven on Earth Day 2009.

Don’t forget, April 22 is the 39th edition of Earth Day and as the club says, “If you let this one come and go without doing some good work to celebrate the day, well, you just might not get into heaven.”

It continues:  “We confirmed with the eco angels (green wings, pesticide-free cotton gowns, and fair-trade halos) that the following seven activities will confirm your seat at that big sustainable feast in the sky.” So click the link above, read, enjoy, laugh, cry and get ready to “Get out and DO something!”

And remember: Every day is Earth Day.

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

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