Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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The Indian Subcontinent Again Sets Record Temperatures

India Droiught

Record breaking temperatures and little rain.

“As the planet warms it can be expected that there will be more severe heat waves and they will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places.”

Dr. John Hidore

July 22, 2016—Global warming is occurring over the entire planet and record high temperatures have become common. The Indian subcontinent is no exception. Early written history documents heat waves and droughts.While temperature records were not available prior to the late 19th century, written descriptions indicate the severity of some earlier events.

Drought and Famine in 1768-1770

In the mid-eighteenth century the people of India were largely subsistence farmers. It was primitive crop agriculture subject to the vagaries of the monsoon. The country was under the control of the British East India Company, which kept the farmers on the verge of starvation under the best of conditions. Because of the general poverty of the mass of the population, and the marginal food supply, only a small shortfall in rain produced scattered starvation.

India is a large country, and at the time only a ponderous transportation system existed. There was no means of moving large quantities of food, or of moving people to more productive areas. Therefore, when drought set in, the alternatives were few. The beginnings of a prolonged drought and massive famine began in India in the fall months of l768. Rainfall was below normal and the crops were poor in December. The summer monsoons did not produce the usual rain in l769 and again the crop yields were scanty. By April of l770, over 30 million people in West Bengal and Bihar were directly affected. Estimates of deaths ranged upward to l0 million. The deaths were due to a combination of starvation and disease. Smallpox became epidemic in association with the drought. The death toll was exacerbated by the flood of people that fled the countryside and moved into the cities looking for sustenance. There was little to be found.

Drought in India

Indian drought causes famine.

Drought and Famine in Asia, 1875-1879

It was just a little more than a century later that drought and famine struck India with even more lethal results. The atmospheric circulation began to shift as early as 1873 in central Asia. Summer monsoons weakened for a number of years. By August 1877 the Indian government was well aware that a major famine was in progress and was going to get worse. Since rainfall was low there was insufficient feed for livestock. Wells, ponds and streams dried up. The lack of feed and water resulted in extensive loss of animals. Rainfall was so low that there was no measurable summer crop harvested in many districts. Human mortality was high.

Following the poor summer harvest, dysentery, smallpox, and cholera flared up into epidemic proportions taking a heavy toll of the population. In Bombay Presidency (Providence), the excess mortality from the famine of 1876-1877 reached 800,000 lives over the normal death rate. The Famine Commission estimated that by the end of 1878 the loss of life in the Providence totaled 3.5 million.

Indian drought

Global warming raises temperatures around the world.

The Asian Heat Wave of 2015

In May 2015, a heat wave in India claimed at least 2,500 lives. Extremely high temperatures were reached in cities scattered over the country. Power outages were wide spread. The city of Khammam recorded the highest temperature ever recorded there at 48 degrees C (118.4 degrees F). Other high temperatures were:Allahabad 47.8 degrees C (118.0 degrees F) Delhi 45.5 degrees C (113.9 degrees F)Hyderabad 46 degrees C (115 degrees F) Jharsuguda 45.4 degrees C (113.7 degrees F).

In June 2015, the deadliest heat wave known to have occurred in Pakistan took place in the southern part of the country near Karachi. The death toll is unknown for certain but may have reached more than 1000. It was followed by several weeks of the most severe heat wave to strike India. The heat wave struck during the month of Ramadan which made the impact of the event more severe than it might have been. Unfortunately, city services could not cope with the heat.

Indian drought

Millions effected by the drought

The Indian Heat Wave of 2016

India experienced even higher temperatures this year than in 2015. Temperatures were above normal most of the spring. Normally, the hottest months of the year are April, May, and June, before the summer monsoon rains begin. In May a severe heat wave alert was issued for several states. A severe heat wave is one in which temperatures of at least 117°F (47.2°C) occur. In the city of Philodi, in western India, unofficial temperatures reached 124°F (51°C). This is the highest temperature on record in India. Temperatures averaged above 104 degrees F (40°C) over large areas. Some urban high temperatures were New Delhi 47 °C (117 degrees F) Churu 50 °C (122 ºF)Philodi 51.°(124 degrees F).

The impact in India was immense. More than 300 million people have been been adversely affected. Crops failed or were below average in 13 states in the last growing season. Thousands of farmers abandoned their farms. In places the asphalt on the streets partially melted. At Bikaner, the streets were being sprinkled with water to reduce the heat. 17,000 villages had, or were facing water shortages. Several Indian states shut down schools to reduce risk to students. Heatstroke was a widespread problem and many deaths were reported across the region.

Fortunately, the government responded in a variety of ways to reduce the suffering and mortality. Forecasts for the summer monsoons are far above average precipitation. The first monsoon rains began in the south in the second week of June. Only time will tell if the monsoons will be enough to break the drought.

As the planet warms it can be expected that: (1) there will be more severe heat waves and they will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places. As cities grow larger in area and population, they will experience increasing heat waves. (2) new record high temperatures will be set across the planet.

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From Coal Mining to Renewables

Loss of jobs in underground mining

Underground Mining

By Linn Smith

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Niccolow Machiavelli (1532)

June 18, 2016—-Much has been publicized in the past year concerning the loss of coal mining jobs, often blaming the loss on the move toward renewable energy. Recently on NPR, coal mining families stated this transition would lead to losing a “tradition,” saying the coal mining culture has been part of their families for generations.

Change is a Fact of Life

It’s true that for generations coal mining has been the only job available in many parts of the U.S., such as West Virginia. But change is a fact of life, as farmers in the Midwest experienced, losing many of the small family farms to giant agribusinesses.

I grew up on one of these small family farms, baling hay and milking cows. “Gone, for the most part, are the times when farmers would work together with wives and kids to feed the cows or harvest the year’s crop.” And that’s how it was for our family. If we were still short handed my dad would hire a cousin or two.

Ranchers on the BLM land in the west are also being forced to change. They have grazed on BLM land for generations, often claiming the land as their own, but in fact, it’s land that belongs to the citizens of the U.S. I have had many discussions about the BLM land with people in the Southwest and I have ridden horseback among the grazing cattle, which sometimes look healthy, but often look so thin you can count their ribs, and often riding past fresh carcasses of the not so fortunate cattle.

Underground mining

Today mountaintop mining is replacing underground mining.

Maintaining Traditions: At What Cost?

My point? People don’t always get what they want just because it’s been the tradition of their families for generations! Their way of life can attempt to be saved, as Willie did with the Farm Aid concerts, but often change will happen in spite of our hard work to keep things as they always have been. Today, for the most part, the small farmers are gone and ranchers are sometimes getting challenged by environmentalists and the Bureau of Land Management.

The same is happening to the coal miners! When change happens we all have to be flexible, it’s part of life. And our planet needs everyone to pitch in!

Mountaintop mining

Mountaintop mining blasts away the mountains!

The move toward renewable resources is not the only reason for the decline in underground coal mining. According to http://www.greenbiz.com, coal jobs have been trending down for decades partially because of mountaintop mining (see Planet Earth Weekly article “Mountaintop Coal Mining: The Destruction of Appalachia” http://www.planetearth5.com). Mountaintop mining has taken the place of underground mining and it requires fewer workers, cutting jobs by the thousands.

Mountain top mining in itself is an abuse to our environment, using dynamite to blast the top of the mountains to get to the coal seams–explosives and heavy machinery replacing jobs! In Kentucky, mountaintop mining has caused the decline in over 60% of coal mine workers from 1979 to 2006—over 60,000 workers! Mountain top mining has not only caused the loss of jobs, but it has destroyed the environment, causing erosion and leakage of metals and byproducts into nearby streams which provide drinking water for the local communities. Even mitigation isn’t addressing the environmental problems!.

The Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce Grants

In 2014 the U.S. Dept of Labor began giving grants to help train coal miners for clean economy jobs. The following year $35 million went to the POWER program (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative). These grants included retraining workers on down the coal production chain, from manufacturing to transportation. In 2016, the coal communities were provided with $55 million more in grants to “assist communities that were negatively affected by changes in the coal industry and help communities plan their economic future and develop a workforce based on plans.” Their goal is to “diversify economies, create jobs in new and existing industries, attract new sources of jobs, create investments and provide a range of workforce services and skills training, resulting in training for high quality, in demand jobs.”

Now is the time to accept change and meet the needs of the planet!

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Niccolow Machiavelli (1532)


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Energy Sage: The Expedia of Solar Installation

Solar comparisons

Compare your options in solar.

By Linn Smith

“This method makes it easy for every homeowner to afford solar!”

May 19, 2016—-Have you decided to go solar? What is your next step when you’ve finally made that decision? There are many solar companies out there. How will you choose? Now there’s a website that will make it easy for you–Energy Sage!

You Have Options in Solar

Solar companies and installers will often push one package towards you, not revealing the fact that there are more options. If you get all your information about solar installation from one company, you most likely will not be getting the best deal!

Expedia: Comparison shopping for Solar

Solar Options

Energy Sage can Save You Thousands

Energy Sage (www.energysage.com) is a site like Expedia, but instead of flights, hotels and car rental quotes, this site will give you multiple solar quotes, from over 300 pre-screened solar installers, to make sure you get the best deal. Energy Sage isn’t affiliated with a manufacturer, installer or finance company—which may end up saving you thousands on solar installation for your home or business!

Here’s how this website works: 1) You register to get quotes 2) Pre-screened installers will submit quotes to you, and 3) You, the buyer, can then compare quotes online.

Energy Sage Solar Comparisons

Compare prices in Solar before you Buy!

Understanding Loans, Leases and PPA’s

EnergySage helps you understand your options and the pros and cons of various solar financing methods, providing information on solar loans, solar leases and solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements). A PPA may be the best option for those with little upfront capital. This is a “financial agreement where a developer arranges for the installation, financing, ect., at little or no cost to the home owner.” The developer sells the power generated back to the customer at a fixed rate that will be lower than the local utility’s rate, while the developer gets the income from the sale of electricity, plus all of the tax credits, ect. This method makes it easy for every homeowner to afford solar!

If you can afford electricity you can afford solar. You can obtain financing without putting any money down. Solar leases and PPA’s allow you to save on your electric bill without purchasing solar panels.

Understanding All the Options

Go to the Energy Sage website, put in your information and ask yourself, do I want to rent or own a solar system? Would a solar system increase the value of my home? You can do comparisons. Choose the one that best meets your needs and financial situation.

Energy Sage will include some variables to consider. These options include whether your home is suitable for solar. Is the weather in your area suitable? Will there be applicable rebates and tax credits in your state? Is your roof in a position to generate solar electricity?

Energy Sage won’t ask your personal data because it doesn’t want to sell your information to companies or organizations. EnergySage.com is purely for your information and education on solarizing your home.

What’s new in Solar? Comparison Shopping!


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2016: Climate Change, Renewable Energy and Other Things

Earth Day

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

“Driving down the demand for oil as renewable energy sources are becoming less expensive.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

Earth Day was a True Global Success for Climate Change

May 7, 2016—In December of 2015 a conference was held in a suburb of Paris, France to discuss the necessary action to slow global warming. More heads of state attended that conference than had ever attended a single conference. There were 195 leaders attending, which is virtually every nation recognized by the United Nations. The outcome was that nearly all of the countries presented plans to reduce greenhouse gases in the near future. The date for signing the agreement was set for Earth Day, April 22, 2016. On that date representatives of 175 governments came together again in a special ceremony to confirm the commitments they made in Paris by signing the agreement. The two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, were among those that signed. The remaining countries have until Earth Day 2017 to sign. What remains is for the individual countries to ratify the agreement. Enacting this agreement would be a huge step forward in slowing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. The agreement was that the plans presented at the Paris conference would be in place by 2020. Many, if not most of the signers, expect to have their plans implemented before then.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

Saudi Arabia Cuts Dependence on Oil

Saudi Arabia has changed direction on oil after nearly a century of dependence on the mining of oil to finance the nation. A number of problems have led to this major change in economic policy. Among them are the collapse of the price of oil on the international market and growing unemployment for younger people entering the job market. The sale of oil produced more than 70% of the state income in 2015. Saudi Arabia experienced close to $100 billion dollar national deficit in 2015 and is projecting an 85 billion dollar deficit in 2016. The rapid transition away from coal and oil as energy sources, and the greenhouse gasses they emit, is driving down the demand for oil as renewable energy sources are becoming less expensive.

The government has developed a new plan known as Vision 2030 that would diversify the Saudi economy. The plan would set up the largest government investment firm in the world. It includes selling a small stake in Aramco, the national oil company. The current estimated value of the company is three trillion dollars. It also eliminates 61 billion dollars worth of energy related subsidies to individuals, which have been used to support the royal family.

Sustainable living on a sustainable planet!

Let’s hand our children a healthy planet!

The Year Without a Summer

The Little Ice age was the coldest period in historic times. It occurred from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries and much of the earth experienced cooling. This past winter was the warmest winter on record in North America. Just 200 years ago during the Little Ice Age the colonies experienced the coldest summer on record. The year 1816 is known as “the year without a summer.” The year began with excessively low temperatures across much of the eastern seaboard. As spring came, the weather seemed to be cool, but not excessively so. In May however, the temperatures plunged. In New England, frost occurred every month. In Indiana, in the interior U.S., there was snow or sleet for 17 days which killed off seedlings before they had a chance to grow. The cold weather continued into June, when snow again fell, totally devastating any remaining crops. No crops grew north of a line between the Ohio and Potomac Rivers, and crop yields were scanty south of this line. In the pioneer areas of Indiana and Illinois, the lack of crops meant the settlers had to rely on hunting and fishing for their food. Reports suggest that raccoons, groundhogs, and the easily trapped passenger pigeons were a major source of food. The settlers also collected many edible plants which proved hardier than cultivated crops.

The cold hit Europe also. Alpine glaciers grew in size and advanced to lower elevations. The Thames River in England froze over many times. It has not frozen over since the winter of 1813-1814.

Alaskan Aquarium Innovation Cuts Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Many technological innovations are cutting greenhouse gas emissions. One such innovation is used by the Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska. The Alaskan aquarium now draws 98% of its energy for heating and cooling from the sea. The center is getting heat energy from Resurrection Bay using a heat exchange system. Sea water contains a great deal of heat energy. The bay is about 900 feet (273m) deep, absorbing heat from the sun during the summer and retaining heat through the winter deep below the surface. A complex system of pipes carries heat from the bay into the Sea Life center, which can also be used for cooling. The center uses only a very small amount of energy from other sources, (2%)% and so has drastically cut the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

2016: Moving towards renewable resources!


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Peabody Coal: The Facts

Peabody Coal: End of Fossil Fuels

Peabody filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

By Linn Smith

“Keep Coal in the Ground”

April 17, 2016—Peabody Coal is back in the news again—filing for bankruptcy. In 2013 Peabody Coal shifted some of its assets into a new company and called it Patriot Coal to keep from paying its workers benefits. Patriot Coal declared bankruptcy! This is corruption within the law and “An unjust law is no law at all!”

Following is an article I wrote in 2013 about Peabody Coal:

April 14, 2013—The United States is using less coal, resulting in less CO2 emissions being released by the U.S., but to keep profits flowing Peabody Energy is exporting their coal to other countries. Peabody Energy (previously Peabody Coal) is the largest private coal company in the U.S., and its exports to China and India are set to increase from 1 billion to 5 billion tons by 2015. Though Peabody has made a small effort to invest in the development of clean air technologies, it exports coal to over 23 countries worldwide, where coal environmental regulations aren’t as stringent as in the United States. Newsweek Magazine has ranked Peabody Coal the least eco-friendly company in the United States.

Patriot Coal declared bankruptcy

Peabody Coal changed assets to Patriot Coal.

Protests Against Peabody Coal

In April 2013, protesters converged on a Peabody CEO meeting in St. Louis to protest environmental and worker contract issues saying, “Peabody attacks pensions, lands, and climate.” They also protested the impact on health, land, and water resources of the Black Mesa section of the Navajo/Hopi Reservations where Peabody has strip mines.

The Navajo/Hope Reservation: The Black Mesa Devastation

In the 1960′s, Peabody Coal contracted mineral and water rights on a section of the Navajo/Hopi Reservations called Black Mesa. The contract was negotiated by a lawyer, John Boyden, who claimed to represent the Hopi and Navajo people, but was, reportedly, on Peabody Coal Company’s payroll. The lease agreement was for 14 million tons of coal per year to provide electricity for southern California, Nevada, and central Arizona.

Today, the water and air are polluted in the Black Mesa section of the Navajo/Hopi land. Following is part of a letter written January, 2013, by Navajo/Hopi elders to Peabody Executives, requesting a meeting:

“The 46 year strip-mining on Black Mesa is devastating for our people. Our people are facing forced relocation because of Peabody Western Coal Co. The coal mine does not effectively extinguish coal fires to prevent the toxic gases from being emitted. The gaseous pollution endangers the health of our people….before Peabody, there were natural springs and wildlife. The natural springs are extinct now and the water is polluted. Black Mesa residents now face hauling water 30 or 40 miles to their homes and livestock….the pristine Navajo Aquifer is irreversibly damaged….the healing process can begin with Peabody Energy ceasing further coal strip mining and putting profits into solar and allowing the residents of Black Mesa to return to their way of life….the Black Mesa people have endured physical, emotional, and spiritual losses, the people struggle to survive, as the southwest cities benefit from the cheap resources of our land…tens of thousands of our people were forced to leave their land to make room for your mine, making this the biggest forced relocation of Native people since the Trail of Tears.”

Transitioning our Energy to Renewable Resouces

Keep Coal in the Ground!

The Creation of Patriot Coal

Not only is Peabody Energy a polluter without a conscience, they have refused to honor their contract with their coal miners, many having poor health conditions, including Black Lung. Here’s what big corporations can get away with! Peabody has recently shifted some of their assets to a new dummy company, “Patriot Coal”, in order to keep from paying “legacy costs” to miners. “Legacy costs” are increased healthcare fees and other benefit-related costs payed to a company’s workers and retirees. “Patriot Coal” (Peabody Coal) is now in federal court declaring bankruptcy. They expect their debt of one billion dollars owed to their miners will be “forgiven”.

Keep Coal in the Ground

Jim Hayes, of the Sierra Club, writes, “Peabody’s profits have increased in recent years, as it carries out more uncontrolled pollution mining and expands its trade worldwide, especially to China.” The only way fossil fuels will stop polluting our atmosphere is if they stay in the ground. It’s senseless for one country to make an effort to move towards renewable resources but move the culprit, coal, to countries with no regulations. It’s all the same world, and our atmosphere doesn’t know the difference. The pollution is only entering the atmosphere from a different location on our planet.

As John Prine sang in his song, Paradise, “Then the coal company came, with the world’s largest shovel, and they tortured the timber and stripped all the land. Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken, then they wrote it all down as the progress of man. Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.”

Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet For Future Generations


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What’s New in 2016 for Clean Energy?

Electric Cars

Pre-Orders 230,000 and Rising

“Clean Energy: Leaving a healthy planet for future generations!”

By Linn Smith

April 9, 2016–Things are going very well in the Clean Energy field for 2016. According to a Bloomberg News article titled, “Solar and Wind Just Did the Unthinkable,” the unpredictable happened last year–oil, coal and gas bottomed out. Even though Europe had its smallest investment in renewables in nine years, one half of the world’s annual investments in clean energy came from emerging clean energy markets, “The world is now adding more power capacity from renewables every year than from coal, natural gas and oil combined…..as fossil fuel prices crash.” It’s predicted by the International Energy Agency that renewables will lead the world’s energy market by 2020.

cop21

A promising outlook for the future

Investment in Fossil Fuel Exploration Declines

According to the NY Times, one of the reasons for the crash of the fossil fuel industry and rise of clean energy is the fact that investment in exploration for fossil fuels has dropped dramatically. Mining and exploration in the U.S. dropped from $135 billion in 2014 to $88 billion in 2015 and the drop will continue in 2016. It boils down to supply and demand, which is partially driven by more energy efficient-cars.

Tesla Model 3

Public interest in electric cars is on the rise, as witnessed this past week by Tesla’s Model 3, with pre-orders hitting 325,000 in the first week–and pre-orders are rapidly growing. The cost of the Tesla is about half of the previous models, costing around $35,000 for the basic Model 3.

In 2015 a poll showed that 48% of Americans said they would consider a hybrid car, while interest was at 21% for electric cars. The biggest concern for most people has been the price. With the unveiling of Tesla’s Model 3 recently, this concern has been met by an affordable electric car. The price has been cut, making it not only affordable but competitive with gas models causing people to line up at Tesla dealerships across the country.

Electric Cars and the Oil Crisis

A Bloomberg article titled, “Here’s How Electric Cars Will Cause the Next Oil Crises” states, “With all good technologies, there comes a time when buying the alternative no longer makes sense,”—as happened with smartphones, TVs, ect. The reason electric cars now make sense—price drop, less expensive batteries and better performance–plus the charging infrastructure is in place. When you travel the country you will see charging stations every couple hundred miles along major highways. Prediction of electric car growth? Tesla estimates the growth rate will be at least 60% through 2020, cutting approximately 2 million barrels a day of oil demand! (The same growth rate that pushed the Ford Model T past the horse and buggy in 1910!) Tesla, Chevy and Nissan all plan to sell electric cars for under $30,000 in the next several years!

Electric Cars: Less Pollution

But there is still the fact that electric cars aren’t any cleaner than the energy used to create the electricity that provides their charge. The Sierra Club’s article “Electric Vehicles: Myth Vs.Reality” dispels many of the arguments against electric cars. They state, “According to a range of studies, an electric car leads to significantly less carbon dioxide pollution from electricity than the CO2 pollution from oil of a conventional car.” As we retire more coal plants and provide cleaner sources of power, the carbon footprint of an electric car drops even further.

If you have solar panels for your house, the panels not only provide electricity but will recharge your electric car. Www.solarchargedDriving.org says you will need about 7-10kw of power on your roof for both your electricity and car charge. Also you can find out if there is a green option through your local utilities company.

So should you divest in oil and reinvest in renewables? Now might be the time to do it. Warren Buffet, an advocate for clean energy, offers investment bonds at 5.4% interest through his company, MidAmerican Energy. There is also a site that offers a direct buy into crowdsourcing solar startups through http://www.joinmosaic.com at a 4.5-6% interest rate. This company has a very good reputation.

So—2016 looks like a great year for clean energy!

“Clean Energy: Leaving a healthy planet for future generations!”


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Presidential Candidates 2016: Views and Agendas on Climate Change and Clean Energy

Clean Energy Plan

Support a Clean Planet for Future Generations!

“Vote…..while being mindful of leaving a healthy planet for present and future generations.”

By Linn Smith

March 25, 2016—-Even though the earth has experienced climate change throughout its history, the current rate of warming hasn’t been seen in 1,300 years. Satellites have enabled scientists to see the big picture of how fast global warming is taking place. According to NASA, global sea levels rose 6.7 inches in the last century. Data collection since the 1880’s, reveals that the 20 warmest years have occurred since 1981 and the 10 warmest years have occurred in the past 12 years. 2015 was the earth’s warmest year on record!

Concerned? Time has shown that most people won’t care about climate change until it’s in their own backyard—until they are personally affected. People are dealing with day to day living. Most of us have grown up taking our source of energy for granted, flip the switch—the lights come on, turn the facet–water comes out, turn the heat up–furnace kicks in, turn the air conditioner on–we feel cooler……….. gas prices drop and it’s time for a bigger car! But extreme weather conditions are now happenng in our own backyard–and these weather events are likely to become more severe and unpredictable.

Because our next administration in the U.S. will play an important role in whether we meet our goals in reducing fossil fuels, I’ve decided to summarize what each U.S. Presidential candidate’s agenda would be if they were to become president in 2017. My purpose is not to offend anyone, just to state the facts. I have taken information directly from each candidates website when available.

Clean Energy and Renewable Rescources

Creating a Healthy Planet

Hillary Clinton

Here’s what Hillary states on her website, “I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.”

Clinton’s goals:
1. Create clean energy jobs, produce enough clean energy to power all homes in U.S.
2. Cut energy waste in homes, schools, and hospitals by 1/3 and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 1/3.
3. Continue meeting the goals the U.S. set at the Paris Climate Conference in December, 2015, and back the Clean Power Plan developed by the EPA to meet these goals
4. Launch a Clean Energy Challenge to “partner with states, cities and rural communities and give them the tools and resources they need to go beyond federal standards to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy.”
5. End the billions in tax subsidies for oil and gas companies.
6. Stop the Keystone Pipeline which would pass through the U.S. from Canada.

Bernie Sanders

On Bernie’s website he states, “Enough is enough. It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy, and finally puts people before the profits of polluters. If we do nothing, the planet will heat up five to ten degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. That would cause enough sea level rise from melting glaciers to put cities like New York and Miami underwater. Executives and lobbyists for coal, oil, and gas companies have blocked every attempt to make progress on climate change, and have thrown unprecedented amounts of money (through subsidies) at elected officials to buy their loyalty.”

Sander’s Goals:
1. Cut U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030 (and by over 80 percent by 2050) by putting a tax on carbon pollution.
2. Repeal fossil fuel subsidies and make massive investments in energy efficiency and clean, sustainable energy such as wind and solar power.
3. Create a Clean-Energy Workforce of 10 million good paying jobs by creating a 100% clean energy system.
4. Return billions of dollars to consumers impacted by the= transformation of our energy system by taxing the polluters and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change.
5. Ban fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House.
6. Create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities.
7. Fight to overturn Citizens United. In a 5-4 decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations and the super wealthy to spend unlimited and undisclosed money to buy our elected officials.

John Kasich

Kasich believes that energy from all sources needs to be continued, whether they are fossil fuels or clean energy, with limited environmental regulations, (his grandfather was a coal miner.) Kasich states, “An exclusive focus on unnecessary environmental regulation drives up energy costs and keeps energy independence out of reach.”

Kasich’s Goals:
1. An energy policy that encourages more energy production from a broad base of sources. “At the same time we need environmental regulations that strike the right balance between needed protection and the need for jobs.”
2. Keep energy affordable and reliable by pursuing all sources of energy.
3. Diversifying our energy supply is the best strategy for economic growth. Government policies that encourage or discourage energy from any single source are economically counterproductive.
4. Sourcing all our energy from North America and eliminating our reliance on overseas energy makes America safer and stronger. Approve the Keystone XL pipeline to help make this happen.
5. He states, “Washington assumes authority that does not exist in pursuit of reckless regulations that will kill jobs. I will bring common sense and science to energy regulation.
6. Encourage research in new technologies.

At the twelfth Republican debate on March 10, 2016, Kasich discussed his stance on climate change and energy production, saying, “Well, I — I do believe we contribute to climate change, but I don’t think it has to be a, you know, either you’re for some environmental stringent rules or, you know, you’re not going to have any jobs. The fact is, you can have both… We want all the sources of energy. We want to dig coal, but we want to clean it when we burn it. We believe in natural gas. We believe in nuclear power. And you know what else I believe in? I happen to believe in solar energy, wind energy, efficiency, renewables matter.”

Donald Trump

I scrolled through Trump’s website but found nothing about a clean energy plan–or any energy plan. So I turned to other websites (energyfuse.org and U.S.News) to put together what Trump would most likely do in the energy field if he were to become president.

According to U.S. News Trump has repeatedly stated he does not believe in climate change. He did post this statement on his Twitter account in 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

When confronted by Sanders on this statement Trump said in January 2016, “Well, I think that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money. I know much about climate change. I’d be–received environmental awards. And I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China. Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change. They burn everything you could burn; they couldn’t care less. They have very-you know, their standards are nothing. But they, in the meantime, they can undercut us on prices. So it’s very hard on our businesses.” and on Dec. 30, 2015 he stated, “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and…a lot of it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”(Taken from politifact.com)

Trump’s Goals (not from website):
1.Trump is a vocal supporter of fracking, as a strategy to end dependence on imported oil. “Fracking will lead to American energy independence. With the price of natural gas continuing to drop, this can be at a tremendous advantage.”
2. Keystone XL: In 2012, Trump said that he found it “disgraceful” that a permit for the pipeline had not been approved.
3. Energy Independence. “The really right way is to drill our own oil. We have so much of it we don’t know what to do. Between natural gas and oil and lots of other things, we should be doing our own.”
4. Renewable Energy? He sued unsuccessfully to block construction of offshore wind turbines near one of his golf resorts in Scotland, arguing the turbines kill birds and the “finances and environment of countries and communities.”(See Planet Earth Weekly’s 2013 article, ” Scotland’s Wind Power–Not if Trump Gets His Way.”). But when campaigning in Iowa he was asked what he thought about wind subsidies by a woman who’s husband was employed in the industry. He stated, “Well, I’m okay with it. It can be hard for wind to be competitive in energy production particularly when prices for fossil fuels are so low.”

Ted Cruz

I could find nothing on Cruz’s website about his energy plan. So I turned to the website, ballotpedia.org, and from this website took some facts:

1. Cruz sponsored S.2170 – the American Energy Renaissance Act of 2014, which proposed lifting multiple regulations on energy producing industries.
2. During his 2012 Senate campaign, Cruz proposed revoking the offshore drilling moratorium.
3. In 2014, Cruz co-sponsored S.2280 – “A bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
4. In August 2015, Cruz accused government researchers of “cooking the books” to make it appear that global warming was supported by scientific data. “If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming.The satellite says it ain’t happening,” Cruz said.

Clean Energy Plan

Our Children’s Future is at Stake–Clean Energy for the Future.

I have tried to summarize each candidate’s views on energy plans, searching first the candidate’s website for information–searching other websites when none available. Hopefully each citizen of the United States will educate themselves, not only on the views of the 2016 candidates for U.S. president, but also on the facts of climate change—and vote for the candidate who fits their values, while being mindful of leaving a healthy planet for present and future generations.

“Be mindful of leaving a healthy planet for present and future generations. Clean Energy!”


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The Hazards of Increased Methane Mining and Use

Gas leak

Old pipes leak natural gas.

“When natural gas leaks into our air, its a big problem for our climate.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore
March 3, 2016—-Methane is an organic gas found in the environment. It is a powerful greenhouse gas, but does not stay in the atmosphere for very long. Methane is also a much cleaner fossil fuel than coal or oil. For this reason, among others, the use of natural gas, which is largely methane, has increased rapidly in recent years. This has resulted in large increases in emissions, atmospheric levels, and hazards.

Historic Changes in Atmospheric Methane

Time – Parts per Billion
By Volume
___________________________________________
100,000 BC 500ppb
70,000 BC 650
20,000 BC 350
1750 AD 722
19th Century 800
1990’s 1600
2013 1823

The New Mexico Methane Cloud

Natural gas has long been a product of oil drilling. Once oil drilling began natural gas was often found as a byproduct. For many decades the gas was simply burned as it reached the surface. Photographs over the Middle East taken in the daytime show long streams of black smoke coming from well sites. At night the oil fields stand out clearly because of these burning gas torches.

In the southwest of the United States, oil well drilling began in the early 1880’s. Here too, the natural gas was burned off. Only much later, when a demand for natural gas developed, was the escaping gas contained.

In January 2016 NASA reported that satellite data showed a cloud of natural gas in the atmosphere over the southern Great Plains. The cloud is not visible to the human eye. It is believed to have been created by years of drilling for oil and particularly during the drilling of wells where fracking is used.

Natural gas leaks during the drilling process are common. The cloud is centered over the state of New Mexico and may be a permanent fixture. As clouds go it is fairly large, but small when compared to the size of the state. Scientists believe that the cloud is not new, but may have been growing rapidly.

Over the Great Plains the addition of natural gas from cattle digestive tracts undoubtedly has contributed to the cloud. It should be pointed out that long before oil and gas drilling began, natural gas seeps were not uncommon in the area.

Methane

Methane is monitored.

The California Gas Storage Leak

Known as the Porter Ranch Gas leak, the well began spewing methane into the atmosphere on October 23, 2015. The leak developed at a SoCalGas natural gas storage facility known as the Aliso Canyon site in the Santa Susana Mountains. The storage facility is the second largest in the United States. The leak, which developed about 8000 feet (2440 m) below the surface, ejected some 50 tons or more of methane per hour. In all more than two million metric tons of natural gas escaped into the atmosphere. It is believed to be the largest natural gas leak to occur as a result of mining oil and natural gas.

Federal law does not require safety valves on gas wells. Because the leak was so far below the surface, company officials knew it would take a long time to cap. It was not capped until February 18, 2016.

Natural gas by itself is not toxic, but many people complained of a variety of illnesses, which researchers at the University of Southern Cal said were due to additives that might pose a risk—added to make it easier for people to detect the gas. Among the health problems were eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and even nose bleeds. This leak was sufficient to force the removal of thousands of families from the immediate area and Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

Methane hotspots

Images of methane hotspots taken with a high tech camera

Natural Gas Pipeline Leaks

A second way in which the use of natural gas increases the atmospheric concentration of methane is through leakage in natural gas pipelines. Scattered around the world are thousands of miles of natural gas pipelines and almost all of them leak.

In Washington, D.C. recent research determined that there were about 6000 leaks in the pipeline network within the city. The average amount of natural gas leaked in Washington, D.C. is more than twice the natural average.

The leaking gas is determined to be from natural gas by its chemical nature. Mined natural gas contains other forms of volatile gas such as ethane and propane, which gas forming at the surface does not have. Recent studies also indicate that emission rates from leakage are as much as 75% higher than EPA estimates.

The Human Hazard

It is inevitable that leaks will occur in gas lines and in homes and other structures that utilize natural gas for cooking or heating. In many cases of leakage, the concentration is so high it is potentially explosive. Globally there have already been many cases of explosions occurring which result from leaking natural gas.

Homes and buildings frequently explode when leaking gas is ignited by a spark or open flame. There have been an untold number of such explosions. Perhaps the greatest gas line explosion in terms of human casualties was that known as the Ufa train disaster that occurred in Russia in 1989. Sparks from passing trains ignited gas leaking from an LPG line causing it to explode. Two locomotives and 38 passenger cars were derailed. More than 600 people were reported killed.

When natural gas leaks into our air, it’s a big problem for our climate. It is essential that utility and gas companies take responsibility to repair these leaks for the future health of our planet.

What we do today determines the health of our planet tomorrow.


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The Fairphone: Reducing Human and Environmental Destruction

Fairphone

Tracing minerals back to source.

It is a long process that Fairphone has begun in the hope of achieving a truly ethical smartphone.

By Linn Smith

February 22, 2016—We all have them! Cell phones! Have you ever wondered where the materials to make our cell phones come from?

Child Labor and Cell Phones

Cobalt is an important element in the lithium-ion battery of our cell phone. Emmanuel Umpula, director of an organization that works with Amnesty International says that companies linked to Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are buying cobalt, “Without asking questions about how, by who or where it was mined.” Umpula did ask questions and found children as young as 7 used in the mining of cobalt. In 2014, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UICEF put the number of children working in mines at about 40,000, earning about $1 a day and leaving negative health impacts by exposure to the cobalt dust. Child labor in the mining of cobalt isn’t a thing of a year or two ago—it is happening today! Besides the use of child labor, mining has negative impacts on our environment resulting in erosion, dumping tailings that could include mercury and cyanide in the river systems and contaminating the water of people and wildlife.

Child Labor and Smartphones

Minerals in our cell phones can be traced back to child labor.

Conflict Free Minerals

Today we have a choice—a choice to choose a more sustainable product. The Fairphone Company is attempting to lessen the human and environmental negative impacts of cell phone production. Fairphone, a small company in Amsterdam, is 100% independently financed (mostly through crowdfunding–pre-orders), and is trying to integrate materials in their supply chain that supports local economies, not armed militias. They’re attempting, one-step-at-a-time, to produce conflict-free minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fairphone: Seeking Alternative Mining Practices

Fairphone registered as an independent social enterprise in 2013, so is a fairly new, still developing company. In a pilot project in 2014, they sold 60,000 phones–phones containing minerals which Fairphone is working to establish a trace back system to, to assure sustainable practices both for the workers and the environment. “It is a long process that Fairphone has begun in the hope of achieving a truly ethical smartphone, but it is a process that is revolutionizing electronics, piece by piece,” stated an article in the January 2016 Newsweek Magazine. Fairphone says that it wants to work with mines in the Congo to provide alternative mining practices where there is extreme conflict. “We want to become a vehicle for change in the regions that most need it.”

Fairphone’s Goals to Improve Mining Practices

Here are a few of the goals Fairphone has adopted to work with mines in the Congo:

1. Increase employment for small-scale miners and contribute to economic development and stability of the region.
2. Work directly towards contributing alternative practices to current mining practices.
3. Address child labor and empower workers while improving the livelihoods of the local populations
4. Bring stakeholders together to participate in dialogue, decision making, and implement solutions to common problems or goals and establish the sources of minerals used in Fairphones.
5. Increase industry and consumer awareness for issues surrounding mining and existing alternatives.
6. Reduce environmental impacts of mining

Also, in the phone’s manufacturing, Fairphone’s policy is to ensure worker representation, safe working conditions and fair pay.

Fairphone can last at least 5 years.

The Fairphone shows its parts when flipped over.

Fairphone 2

Fairphone 2 has a 5″ screen and runs on android 5.1, although the company is in discussions to allow other operating systems. It is a modular smartphone which is designed to be repaired and replace parts by the user if needed. When you turn this phone over you will see the parts through a transparent case–easily covered by a protective case just as other cell phones are.

Fairphone will sell parts for this phone which will allow users to replace those that are broken and outdated, such as the camera, and replace them with newer versions. Estimated life of this phone–at least 5 years. This phone is available on Fairphone’s website at: http://www.fairphone.com.

The Fairphone, using sustainable mining practices.

You can replace the parts of this cellphone.

Review of Fairphone 2

Newsweek Magazine reviewed the Fairphone. They stated, “With moderately heavy use, the battery can easily last 2 days without a charge. When not being used much after a week there was still more than 50% of battery life left–and when the battery life dwindles after a couple of years a new battery can be ordered from Fairplay for about $20. Newsweek says, “When considering the price tag of about $500, the length of time it lasts should be taken into consideration along with the ethical ecosystem of the phone.” The potential to upgrade this phone is also being explored by the company.

For Fairphone 2016 brings the move toward growth with a goal of selling 150,000 phones. They realize they can’t do this through pre-orders alone so they are seeking “investors that are interested in generating social and/or environmental impact as well as financial gains”–investors aligned with the values of the Fairphone Company.

You can follow Fairphone’s regular updates on Facebook or Twitter.


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Renewable Energy Sources Dominate Human History

Reduce Pollution

Women coming together can make a difference in cutting CO2 in our atmosphere

“A windmill is known to have existed in Alexandria, Egypt as early as the first century AD.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore
February 12, 2016—For most of human history the energy available to our species was the strength of the individual. The first supplemental energy source humans began to use was fire. Fire was being used in Yunan province of southeast China more than a million years ago. Fire provided energy for light, for cooking, and other uses. It most likely provided these individuals an advantage in growing their population.

Renewable Resources of Early Man

The use of fire spread through the global population. It may also have come into use independently in different areas. As the use of fire spread as a resource, a variety of fuels were used depending on what was available in the region. All were renewable energy sources. In the forested regions dried, downed limbs and twigs served the purpose. In the grasslands dried grasses and stems of shrubs provided the fuel. Bones from dead animals were also used as fuel. In the Great Plains of the United States, the early farmers burned wheat straw and corn stalks for heat in the winter. Often an empty metal barrel served as the stove.

Changing Earth

An additional organic fuel source in many areas was dried dung from herbivores, such as elephants and buffalo, were used. The use of these renewable fuels continues today in parts of Africa, Asia and South America. Even in the modern world of the internet and drones, dried dung is still being sought for fuel. In India cow dung is mixed with grasses and dried into patties. Piles of drying dung are common in rural villages, as are walls plastered with drying cow patties. In fact in cities in India, residents can purchase cow dung patties from internet retailers such as Amazon and eBay. While not in great demand, they are still used in some religious ceremonies and occasionally for nostalgic reasons. The use of natural organic fuels continues today in many cultures, such as the Amazon rain forest where tribes use the same fuels as the earliest human’s use of fire.

Windmills and Waterwheels in the 10th Century

Eventually the use of animal power was added as an energy source for transportation and pumping water for irrigation among other things. This gave the people a physical source of mechanic energy. Draft animals are believed to have been used as early as 7000 years ago.

The use of wind and flowing water came into use in different areas around the world at different times. Water wheels were used to lift water for irrigation or to drain mines in the first or second century BC. A windmill is known to have existed in Alexandria, Egypt as early as the first century AD. They were certainly in use for pumping water and grinding grain in the 10th Century. Paintings of landscapes in the Netherlands show windmills in use. Both windmills and water wheels were in widespread use by 1500 AD. The additional power source increased the amount of food that could be produced and so the global population grew rapidly.

Industrial Revolution: Use of Fossil Fuels–Coal

The industrial revolution began in what is now Britain during the period from 1783 to 1812. By this time the global population had passed the 500 million mark. The pressure of the growing population had severely reduced the supply of wood for fuel and as a building material. This brought about a transition to the use of fossil fuels. People began burning chunks of coal that were found scattered on the surface. Mining coal began soon after. When the steam engine was invented the demand for coal grew even faster. Coal supplied a seemingly unlimited source of non-renewable source of energy. The consumption of coal has increased rapidly after the onset of the industrial revolution. It is the most used fuel for generating electricity. The consumption of coal increased by more than 50% in just a few years from 2000 to 2011. The use of oil and natural gas has also expanded rapidly since their introduction as usable fuels.

Growth of Renewables in 21st Century

In the 21st Century there has been a resurgence in the use of renewable energy. The traditional sources of renewable energy, such as vegetation, wind, and water continue. To these are added solar energy. There are a number of reasons for the growth of renewables, such as the hazards of burning fossil fuels. Also, new technologies for obtaining energy from renewable sources are rapidly reducing in cost. Only the growth of hydroelectric power generation, which was highly developed in the 20th Century, has slowed. This is largely due to the fact that large dams tend to completely alter the river morphology both above and below the dams.

One bit of trivia related to the increasing use of renewables is that the stadium in which Super Bowl 50 was played is powered by solar energy. Significant also is the fact that automobile companies expect to have a practical and affordable electric car on the market within five years. The future? Experimental cars and buses are being developed using solar energy. Are we coming full circle back to pre-industrial life out of necessity–trying to save the only planet we have?

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