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Posts Tagged ‘environment

UCS: Expect more tidal flooding and sea level rise

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Courtesy of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a video starkly illustrates, in about three and a half minutes, the “growing impacts of global warming,” on tidal flooding due to rising sea levels.

As UCS notes, it’s not all that complicated: water when heated expands. Sea levels are rising, and rising faster as global warming heats up the planet.

The UCS says: “Today scores of coastal communities are seeing more frequent flooding during high tides. As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur more often, cause more disruption, and even render some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.”

UCS also published a 76-page report, “Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years.”

According to the report, “High tides are having a greater impact on U.S. communities today than in decades past for two reasons. First, our shores are more heavily developed, so higher tides affect more people and infrastructure. Second, these tides are now occurring on top of elevated—and rising—sea levels.”

Thus, building coastal resilience is both a local and a national imperative: “Coastal communities, and the nation as a whole, need to start planning today to cope with sea level rise and unprecedented tidal flooding, and to take swift and decisive action to limit longer-term damage to our coasts.”

Tidal flooding “has simply become a fact of life.” By 2045, some coastal communities will face flooding 24 times a year – or twice a month, the UCS says.

Climate change is not something that will happen in the distant future, although even the near-term future doesn’t look very good; it’s occurring right now, and action needs to happen right now.

 

 

Written by William DiBenedetto

November 20, 2014 at 6:00 am

Wells Fargo launches “Innovation Incubator” program

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Sunrise at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.  (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

Sunrise at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

Wells Fargo last week launched an “Innovation Incubator” program (IN2), a $10 million environmental grant program for clean technology startups.

IN2 was announced 28 October at the NREL Industry Growth Forum in Denver and is the first of its kind in the banking industry, according to Wells Fargo. Under the program, clean-tech startups will be identified and recommended by Wells Fargo’s network of technical, financial and industry advisers at laboratories and research facilities across the country.

The first of three rounds of selected companies will be announced early next year, and will receive up to $250,000 for business development needs, research and testing support at NREL’s Golden, CO facility, along with “coaching and mentorship” from Wells Fargo. An independent advisory board of nearly a dozen industry leaders representing the commercial building sector, academia, community organizations, successful entrepreneurs and technical experts will select the final companies to be included in the IN2 program. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

November 3, 2014 at 6:37 am

GAO on freight transport: focus on community congestion impact

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3501697246_da4c3fa9a2_zThe Government Accountability Office says developing a national freight strategy should pay attention to the impact of congestion on communities.

GAO’s report (GAO-14-740), released on 26 September, found that recent trends in freight flows, if they continue as anticipated, “may exacerbate congestion issues in communities, particularly along certain corridors.”

As of 2012, the latest year for which data is available, national freight rail and truck traffic had approached the levels reached in 2007, prior to the economic recession, the report continues. “Certain trends related to specific commodities have affected rail flows, including increases in domestic crude oil production. A key negative impact of increasing freight flows is congestion at highway-rail grade crossings, where road traffic must wait to cross the tracks when trains are passing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

October 6, 2014 at 5:05 am

Utilities’ use of renewable energy rising

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ceres picThe “new reality” facing electricity consumers and their utility companies is that renewable energy is meeting an increasingly larger share of U.S. energy needs, according to a report from Ceres and Clean Edge.

That translates into more and better choices and a clean energy future.

“Renewables—including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, waste heat and small-scale hydroelectric—accounted for a whopping 49 percent of new U.S. electric generating capacity in 2012, with new wind development outpacing even natural gas,” writes Jon Wellinghoff, partner at Stoel Rives LLP and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the report.

Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2014, is the first annual report from Ceres in partnership with Clean Edge on this subject. It ranks the nation’s 32 largest electric utilities and their local subsidiaries on their renewable energy sales and energy efficiency savings. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

August 12, 2014 at 6:00 am

Green truck standards aid business and the planet

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Kenworth_T680 Advantage Road Tour1_TruckPRA recent report from the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres says that strong fuel efficiency and GHG emission standards for freight trucks could slash fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent compared to 2010 levels, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.

In fact the report suggests that American businesses could save more than $25 billion if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt stringent fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards. The two agencies were tasked by President Obama to come up with proposed target standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March, 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

Penalties, fracking alter the playing field for energy companies

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deepwater horizonGuest post by Daphne Holmes. She is a writer for arrestrecords.com; reach her at daphneholmes9@gmail.com.

The notorious BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010, considered to be the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, was the “shock heard ’round the world,” and it is still reverberating. The cause of eleven deaths and a loss of many billions of dollars to the Gulf Coast economy – it has impacted offshore drilling, tourism, and fishing – the BP spill resulted in numerous civil lawsuits and settlements as well as criminal charges. BP is fighting some of these charges and the terms of some settlements, even as it continues to present itself as an environmentally responsible corporate citizen.

Meanwhile, fracking is causing a furor because of concerns about environmental impacts, including groundwater pollution and an alarming increase in earthquake activity in some areas. Activists around the world are working to stop fracking, and activist groups such as Greenpeace have planned legal challenges to fracking in England. Fracking has been challenged in the U.S. as well, with the main battles being between environmentalists and proponents of economic growth. A web site called Fracking Insider keeps track of legal battles and regulatory developments in the fracking industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

July 3, 2014 at 4:00 am

Less is more, more or less: Matt Ridley’s strange alchemy

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alchemyMatt Ridley, the UK author, journalist and member of the House of Lords, recently asserted in a Wall Street Journal article that the “world’s resources aren’t running out.” Well maybe, sorta. If you are into the mental gymnastics of conservative doublethink.

I could not let his piece pass without providing, shall we say, a different and more intellectually honest (I hope) viewpoint.

He asks: “How many times have you heard that we humans are ‘using up’ the world’s resources, ‘running out’ of oil, ‘reaching the limits’ of the atmosphere’s capacity to cope with pollution or ‘approaching the carrying capacity’ of the land’s ability to support a greater population? The assumption behind all such statements is that there is a fixed amount of stuff—metals, oil, clean air, land—and that we risk exhausting it through our consumption.” Read the rest of this entry »

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