Planet Earth Weekly

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


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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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Earth Day, Earth Hour, and Other Happenings

Make Every Day Earth Day

April 22, 2016, Love the Earth You’re On!

“Whether it is rising sea level, rising global temperatures, more frequent severe storms, changing weather patterns, the problems of climate change are real.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

April 14, 2016—-In the past year or so, environmental events have changed the public perception of global warming and climate change. Not only have the majority of people now endorsed the fact that warming of the planet is real, but also that something must be done to stop the rapid change to the global system. Making a difference has become the action mode. Politicians around the world, regardless of their political or economic philosophy, are being forced to take action to curb the process. They are taking action because they must deal with the effects of global warming. Whether it is rising sea level, rising global temperatures, more frequent severe storms or changing weather patterns, the problems are real. Heads of state and mayors of major cities are now beginning to deal with these problems.

Earth Hour Spreads

On Saturday March 12, a global event took place called Earth Hour. The purpose of the event was to call attention to the rising impact of global warming and climate change. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia on March 31, 2007. The World Wildlife Fund organization asked the people to turn off their lights for one hour to call attention to the increasing effects of global warming. More recently, on Saturday, March 12, billboards in Times Square in New York and lights on some buildings were dimmed or shut down from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. Many other cities around the globe also participated.
This year marked the tenth year of the event.

Earth Day

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

Earth Day is Global

Earth Day 2016 promises to be a significant event. In December 2015, a conference was held in a suburb of Paris, France to discuss the necessary action to slow global warming. Attending were more heads of state than had ever before attended a single conference. The outcome? Nearly all of the countries presented plans to reduce greenhouse gases in the near future.

This year on Earth Day, April 22, that group of over 190 governments have been invited by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, to confirm the commitments they made in Paris by signing the agreement. The two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, have agreed to sign. Unfortunately, most of the countries which participated in the Paris conference have not agreed to attend the UN signing. In order for the agreement to become a working document more countries, accounting for an additional 55% of greenhouse gases, must sign. It is extremely important that as many people as possible contact their representative leaders and encourage these countries to sign the agreement. Enacting this agreement would be a huge step forward in slowing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming!

Earth Day: Let's Clean and Green!

Agreement between China and U.S. will be signed on Earth Day 2016.

Rapid Change in Global Temperature Becomes Evident

Many global temperature records were broken in 2015 and the trend has continued into 2016. February continued a string of nearly a dozen straight months of record breaking monthly temperatures. Global average temperatures reached 56.08 degrees Fahrenheit which is 2.18 degrees above the average. The winter season, December through February, also set records. In February 2016 global temperatures were not only record breaking temperatures, but they rose drastically. Increases over the previous year were the highest since records began in 1880.

The Artic

In February of 2016, the arctic region experienced unusually warm average temperatures. In January 2016, land temperatures were 10oF (5.6OC) higher than the average, and in February 2016 they were 8 degrees F warmer (4.4 o C warmer). Warmer air temperatures in the arctic have had an enormous impact on ice cover in the arctic seas.

Melting of the Arctic

The Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate.

Normally, the lowest amount of ice cover in the Arctic occurs in September and the maximum in February. The warmer temperatures have melted the winter ice cover. Scientists began recording the extent of melting of the winter sea ice in 1979. The winter freezing of the ice set a record in 2015. This past February the area of sea ice was lower than in 2015, setting another new record.

It is predicted that the Arctic could be entirely ice free in the next 20 years as greenhouse gases grow and the planet warms, resulting in even greater weather extremes in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth Day 2016–Make Every Day Earth Day


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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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The Creation, Growth, and Limitations of Coal as an Energy Source

Fossil Fuels, Coal

Formation of Fossil Fuels

“It is time to drastically curtail coal’s use and leave it in the ground!”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

March 23, 2016—-In today’s energy conscious world, greenhouse gases are a target in the efforts to reduce global warming. The primary greenhouse gas is CO2, largely a product of burning fossil fuels. The term fossil fuels implies that these fuels are of ancient origin and such is the case. The climate of Earth has oscillated widely over the past 570 million years. Vast ice sheets covered the planet at times. At other times the earth was warmer than it is now and species of plants and animals diversified rapidly.

Paleozoic Era: Developing Coal and Petroleum

There are three main forms of fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. During the Paleozoic Era, coal and petroleum formed. The Carboniferous period (late Paleozoic Era–36-286 million years ago, ) was dominated by widespread warm climates with intermittent glaciation. As the Southern Hemisphere ice sheet expanded and contracted large changes in sea level took place. During periods of glacial retreat, sea levels rose, drowning vast areas of tropical forests and burying them in ocean sediments.

Coal and Oil

Fossil Fuel Formation

Many of plants living at this time were representative of a marsh or swamp environment. Some plants showed layered roots, such as those found in modern bogs and some of the plants actually floated on open water. Trees of this period show a lack of development of growth rings, indicative of a climate without marked seasonal differences. In all, the representative vegetation suggests a warm, moist climate that favored a luxurious plant growth. These buried layers of ancient tropical forests are the coal and oil deposits of today.

Microorganisms buried in sediments were the raw materials of petroleum. The search for petroleum has provided most of our current information about the earth’s crust we have today. In 1859, in Titusville, Pennsylvania, the first producing oil well was drilled. This well tapped a petroleum saturated sandstone that was just 10 meters below the surface.

The Formation of Coal

Coal is essentially fossilized carbon. The essential ingredient in coal is carbon but it also contains varying amounts of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfer. The term coal covers a wide range of carbon. The carbon content of coal varies a great deal and so there is, in fact, a great variety within the general category of coal.

The beginnings of coal are the great peat bogs which often contain large quantities of dead organic matter. In the northern hemisphere the last glacial advance left large, relatively flat areas which became large swamps, particularly in the spring. They gradually turned into peat bogs. The dead, organic matter from these bogs burned when dried out or drained. Such fires, probably started by lightning, can burn for months. When dried some of these regions have become the most productive grain producing areas of the world.

Grades of Coal and Greenhouse Gases

Peat is a forerunner of coal. When conditions are right it can become coal, given a great deal of time. Peat is used today as an industrial fuel in parts of Europe and Asia. The lowest grade of coal is called lignite or brown coal. It contains a little more than 50% carbon. The middle grade of coal is classified as bituminous and contains from 75%-90% carbon. Bituminous coal is the most widely used fuel for industrial use today. The highest grade coal is Anthracite and it is used mainly for central heating.

What is significant about burning different grades of coal is how much waste gases are given off when burned. The lower the carbon content the greater the amount of waste gases, which constitute what we call greenhouse gases. Compared to oil and natural gas, the carbon content in coal is much lower so it is often called dirty coal. All fossil fuels contain some greenhouse gas components. It is for this reason that there is now a focus on renewable fuels.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

Coal and the Industrial Revolution

From the beginning of the industrial revolution, 200 years ago, coal has propelled industry to tremendous growth. This same industrial growth supported a rapid growth in global population. The growth in industry has not been without serious consequences to both the environment and to the human population. Current changes in the environment are rampant. The use of coal has taken a tremendous toll on many species of plants and animals including, directly or indirectly, extinction! While coal has been a tremendous asset in economic growth, it has reached the point where its use as an energy source is a hazard to life on earth.

It’s time to drastically curtail coals use and leave it in the ground!


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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 Historic Paris Climate Conference-Cop21

cop21

A promising outlook for the future’

The concern over global warming and climate change is so universal that 196 countries signed the agreement.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

Ban Ki-moon of South Korea became secretary general of the United Nations in 2007. He surprised many by announcing that he would make climate change a main priority and added a climate change summit meeting at the United Nations in July 2007, with another set of negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 expired in 2012. Two of the countries which led in greenhouse gases, the United States and Australia, did not sign it.

Ban Ki-moon was a leader in making the Paris conference on climate change a success. The conference on climate change brought together the greatest number of heads of state (approximately 150) of any conference in history. The climate conference convened in Paris on December 1, 2015 and concluded on December 13. Cop 21 was the twenty-first meeting of the “Conference of Parties.” These are the same countries that signed a treaty called The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.

Cop 21

There is a lot of hard work to be done after the Cop21 agreement.

The Primary Goal: Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The main goal of the group was to keep the mean temperature of Earth from increasing less than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above the pre-industrial average temperature, even though it has already risen about half that: 1 degrees C (1.8 degrees F). What this means is moving forward in our effort to keep the global temperature from rising no more than another 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F). This would bring the level of carbon dioxide back to where it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. To reach this goal greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced essentially to zero by 2070.

An even more optimistic goal is to keep the temperature from rising only half that of the primary goal. To reach this goal of 0.5 degrees C (0.9 degrees F), it will be necessary to have negative emissions. Negative emissions means taking more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than are being added to it. Theoretically this could be done by adding technological means to natural means of removing carbon from the air. Natural means would include expanding areas of forest. Many technological means have been suggested, including seeding the ocean and direct removal of carbon dioxide from the air.

Cop 21

Hopeful that we have turned a corner as a planet.

It may already be too late to limit the warming to the lower level. To reduce the rise to 0.5 degrees C, greenhouse gases need to be reduced to zero by 2050. This is probably politically impossible, if not physically impossible. The cost of this radical program would be too high and it would be necessary to take funds away from other critical programs. Any significant measures taken would be expensive. Estimates of costs to bring emissions into a negative level are as much as $100 a metric ton.

The Second Goal: An International Agreement Supported by All Countries

A second goal was to have a united climate change agreement accepted by the end of the conference. The leaders of nearly every country signed on in the end. The agreement was finalized on December 12. The group committed to keeping the global temperature rise to 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) by the year 2100.

This agreement imposes no penalties for countries which do not meet their own goals. A key difference in this agreement from previous agreements is that each individual country can set its own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Prior conferences wanted to set the goals for each country.

Some poor countries still wanted the richest countries to bear the biggest share of the cost or to make the biggest cuts in carbon emissions. The wealthier countries did commit $100 billion a year to help pay the costs for the poorest countries.

The concern over global warming and climate change is so universal that 196 countries signed the agreement. It is worth noting that both Australia and the United States supported the goals of this agreement.

What will actually be done to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses remains to be seen. However, if actions already being taken by countries, cities, and other institutions are any indication, there will be major changes!

COP 21: A Response to Climate Change


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Coal: A Boon and Bane

Coal is the major CO2 emitter.

Coal must be reduced as a means of energy.

Carbon dioxide currently makes up about 84% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity

By Dr. John J. Hidore

December 23, 2015—The industrial revolution took place in what is now Britain from 1783 to 1812. At 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. People began burning chunks of coal in Britain which were found scattered on the surface of the land or very close to the top. Mining began soon thereafter and the use of coal as a fuel rapidly expanded.

When the steam engine was invented the demand for coal grew even faster. Coal supplied a seemingly unlimited source of non-renewable energy. It was a boon to economic growth!

The use of coal has increased rapidly since the onset of the industrial revolution and today is the most used fuel for generating electricity, increasing by more than 50% in just a few years. From 2001- 2011 India doubled its coal consumption and Australia, one of the leading users of coal in 2011, consumed more than five times the world average per capita consumption. Also, China now burns almost half of all coal consumed each year.

Smoke from Burning Coal

Human beings have suffered health hazards from smoke ever since they gained control of fire. Coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. Burning coal emits soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. As a result, it causes more illness and fatalities than other fossil fuels.

Working toward 100% renewables

Working Toward Renewable Energy

It is particularly severe in large cities under certain weather conditions. Severe pollution occurred the last week of November in Beijing, China. The concentration of particulate matter in the air reached a level 40 times the limit recommended by the world health organization, making it the worst event so far this year in China

In 2013 China set up a color code to announce bad air quality. The worst conditions are signified by code red. An alert is issued whenever a period of three days or more of hazardous air quality is forecast. On Sunday December 6, the government issued an alert. On Monday, December 7, the government of China declared a state of emergency due to severe smog. Schools and factories were shut down and cars were ordered off the roads. More than 3000 schools closed. On Tuesday, December 8 the air index in Beijing reached 108. At this level people were told to stay inside. Just a little more than a week later another alert was issued.

Emission of Greenhouse Gases

Earth has warmed an average of 1.5 degrees F since the 1880’s. The biggest share of the warming has occurred in recent decades. The last decade has been the warmest on record. The year 2014 was the warmest year to date and indications are that 2015 will be even warmer.

In the past several decades the concentration of greenhouse gases has accelerated. Carbon dioxide currently makes up about 84% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. In 2012 the burning of fossil fuels emitted a record amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. The burning of coal was the major source of the carbon dioxide accounting for 45% of the total amount. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has now surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm). This is the highest level in approximately 800 thousand years and perhaps in the past three million years. At this rate it could reach 450 ppm in the next 20 years. (In 2014, however, for the first time in 40 years, global carbon emissions flatlined, which was possibly due to changing patterns of energy consumption.)

To keep the total carbon emissions at or below the critical temperature increase of 3.6 degrees F, a total of one trillion tons is the maximum amount of carbon that can be emitted into the atmosphere over time. As of 2015 it is believed that half this amount has already been dumped into our atmosphere. Carbon emissions could reach the one trillion mark within 30 years. To keep it at or below the threshold means an 80% or more reduction within the next 30 years.

The Future Role of Coal

The future growth of the world economy is dependent on an increasing supply of energy available to power the system. The use of coal as a fuel has now become a bane to people and the environment. It is imperative that burning coal as a fuel must be reduced. This does not mean eliminating coal as an energy source—but the amount must be reduced. There are a number of ways to accomplish this including: Replacing coal by oil or natural gas, sequestering carbon dioxide from power plants, changing to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and increasing the use nuclear energy.

The responsibility is ours today!


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Wolfred Walter and The Solar Storage Unit: It Could Change the World!

Become independent from the power grid.

Help the energy revolution become reality.

“It’s my vision to make energy storage affordable for everyone and promote energy independence in as many households and small businesses as possible–that’s what drives me.”

By Linn Smith

November 12, 2015—-Wolfred Walter is a German man from the town of Umkirch who, at the age of 53, has greatly contributed to the health of our planet through his inventions. Here’s what he has done in his 53 years:

Founded a light aircraft school, training over 600 pilots, was named Germany’s light aircraft champion 3 times, invented a special instrument which can search for minerals from the air, turned his Porsche into an electric car, (fueling it with his own solar storage battery), and won the German award for Renewable Product of the Year in 2013–The Sonnenspeicher (Sun Storage) made by his company, ASD, or Automatic Storage Device.

His home-built electric Porsche.

He used his own smart storage battery for power.

A Smarter Solar Battery

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Walter’s greatest contribution towards a healthier planet might be his solar storage unit and his continuing effort to make it available and affordable to the average person, promoting independence from the electrical grid. Instead of building just a better solar storage battery, he built a smarter storage battery.

Why a smarter storage battery? A few years ago he put solar panels on the roof of his aircraft hanger. He grew frustrated when he had to sell 3,600 watts of solar generated power back to the electrical grid during sunny hours, but in the evening, when the sun wasn’t shining or on a cloudy day, he had to buy at least 1000 watts of electricity back from the grid. So he solved his problem by building a smart solar storage battery.

The Automatic Storage Device

The most innovative storage system on the market.

Walter started with a regular lithium-iron-phosphate battery, which he says is the best one out there. He equipped it with software to maximize the battery’s efficiency, micromanaging the flow of electricity between the solar panels connected to the battery, and the power grid, allowing only a minimal amount of power to go back into the grid.

The storage battery system is about the size of a very small refrigerator and works round the clock like a small power plant. It takes only about an hour to install because, “Basically you just have to plug it in.” Customers consume up to 90% of the power generated by the solar panels.

The Automatic Storage Device

Mr. Walter founded his company, ADS or Automatic Storage Device in 2013, two years after he invented the Sonnenspeicher. His company is now selling hundreds to homes and small businesses around the world. He says the key to getting people to go solar is to make them aware they can save thousands of dollars, which will pay off the system in about 8 years, replacing fossil fuels. He doesn’t have to ask the important question, “Will you buy a storage system to help your children, grandchildren and the environment.” He just asks, “Do you want to save/earn money?”

He’s now working on a smaller, cheaper, more reliable storage battery that he thinks might change things in the solar industry. He says, “It’s my vision to make energy storage affordable to everyone and promote energy independence in as many households and small businesses as possible–that’s what drives me.”

Pretty impressive for something that started in his garage several years ago!


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Turning the Page on Climate Change

Climate Change, Global Warming

Climate Change Affects Everyone!

Millions of people are banding together to demand action on climate change.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

November 7, 2015—The tide has turned on recognizing global warming and climate change. The vast majority of people and governments now recognize that the earth’s environment is changing, and it is largely due to human activity.

Globally environmental change is real and action must be, and is now, taking place to slow or stop the process. Some recent and forthcoming events support the change in attitude towards recognizing climate change.

The Peoples Climate March

In 2014 the People’s Climate March was held. It was organized to persuade the United Nations to call a conference on climate change. There were public demonstrations in New York City and around the world to support action on climate change. It was billed as the largest climate change action in history. The march in New York drew more than 300,000 individuals and filled the 2 ½ mile route. Participants included people from many nations, Capuchin Franciscan monks, and Catholic nuns. An international advocacy group presented a petition containing 2.1 million signatures which demanded action towards climate change. Among the supporters were former vice-president Al Gore, Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations, and Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. The Mayor committed New York City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

Earth Day Celebrations

Earth day celebrations have been held around the world to make the case for slowing environmental change and to protect the earth from a major catastrophe. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970. It is often considered to be the beginning of the environmental movement. I had the privilege to be a speaker on that day at the University of Indiana. Earth Day Network now has participants in 192 countries. The United Nations has declared April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Earth Day 2015 was the 45th anniversary of the movement. Seventy-nine organizations around the world partnered in this event with more than a billion people participating in activities on this day. The overall purpose was to modify changes that are detrimental to the planet and the people on it. Many different educational activities took place. In some countries they planted sustainable trees. In Nigeria solar lanterns were made available in schools. Uganda held an International Children’s Climate Conference.

Climate Change summit

The world comes together on climate change issues.

The Coming UN Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Paris beginning on November 30. COP21, Conference of Parties, will be held in Paris in December. More that 190 nations are expected to take part in this conference, focusing on action towards climate change. It is expected that world leaders will create a strong global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, with plans for action by individual countries and the group as a whole.

Paris summit on Climate change

Supporting the Paris Summit on climate change

24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth: The World is Watching

An impressive group of people and approximately 60 organizations have partnered to persuade the Paris conference to make real progress. This event will be held on November 13-14 and is to be a day of climate action and music hosted by former Vic-President Al Gore. Millions of people are banding together to demand action on climate change, with eight different sections of the event based on geographic location. The program will focus on each section as the day moves along.

There Will Always Be Deniers

In spite of the global recognition that it is time for action, there are now and always will be those that deny climate change.These same people, many of which are in positions of power, propose that we should continue the economic and environmental policies of the past. Those that support this position are rapidly losing credibility. After all, there are still those that believe evolution is not a real process and those that believe the earth is flat!