Planet Earth Weekly

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


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History of the United State’s Effort to Lead the War on Climate Change

Climate Change

Temperatures are steadily rising on our planet.

The President’s Decision Will Have Major Effects on People, the Environment, and the International Status of our Country.

By Dr. John J. Hidore
June 2, 2017—-The United States has been a world leader for decades in the effort to take action to slow or stop the warming of planet Earth. In 1992 a United Nations conference know as the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At that conference the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adapted. The United States played a key role in that conference, where the to reduction of emissions from greenhouse gases was initiated.

Negotiations were held in Kyoto, Japan in the fall of 1997. Opposition to the Protocol by the corporate world was so great that the negotiations nearly collapsed. Representatives of the United States pleaded for adaption. Then vice President Al Gore led the fight for adoption. The supporter of the document won. The treaty finally came into full force in 2005 when enough countries satisfied the criteria necessary for adaptation.

Melting of the Arctic

The Arctic sea ice is melting at a record rate.

The United States became a leading proponent of the Paris Climate agreement of 2015. The agreement will greatly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the years ahead. It was agreed to by almost every country in the world.

Shredding America’s Leadership on Climate Change

America’s leadership in taking action on climate change may be shredded. The GOP now controls the federal government and most state governments. Their position is that profits are more important than people. Greed is the primary ethic driving this policy.

The newly elected president has laid out extensive plans that will essentially prevent any action from being taken to reduce the risk of climate change if it will affect corporate profits. First and foremost the president has repeatedly stated that he would withdraw the United States participation in the Paris Climate agreement. As a major producer of these gases the decision to withdraw from the agreement spits in the face of every other country and every individual living on the planet. His stance on the agreement was a major topic at the Group of Seven (G7) meetings in Taormina, Italy this past month. The group of seven includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and japan in addition to the United States.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

Since the United States is the second leading country in the production of greenhouse gases, it would severely reduce the importance of the agreement. It is second only to China which has signed onto the agreement. Many very important persons on the international scene have encouraged President Trump to keep this country in the agreement. The first on the current trip to admonish Trump on the environment was the Pope, who gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on the environment. Others that made a strong case for the US staying in the agreement were major players in the European Union.

Effects on People, the Environment, and the International Status of our Country

What the United States does on this issue is of global importance since we are such a large consumer of energy and source of greenhouse gas emissions. At the time of this writing it is unclear what decision the President will make. He can stay with his plan to withdraw us from the world agreement in favor of profits, he can keep us in the agreement and lower our goals for cutting greenhouse gases, or he can decide to keep this country in tune with the rest of the world and honor our pledge to do something about global warming and climate change. If he decides on the latter it will at least do two things. One, announce to the world that profits for American corporations are the number one goal of his administration, and two, decide to further tarnish our image and trust by the rest of the world!

Do your part in reducing CO2!


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Urban Heat Islands: Their Effects and Solutions

the heat island effect

Heat Island prevent heat from escaping cities.

“As urban areas grow a person’s health will be connected to the build up of heat and pollution in the city…..it will become essential to build green.”

By Linn Smith

April 20, 2017—–If you live in a city you probably have noticed how much cooler it is in the summertime when you take a drive in the country. Drive back toward the city, with its concrete buildings, and you feel the great intensiveness of a hot summer day. There’s a name for this city heat….the urban heat island effect.

What is a Heat Island?

An urban heat island describes a large area of buildings and concrete (cities) that has temperatures which are higher than the countryside surrounding them. According to http://www.epa.gov, “The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C).” With global warming the temperatures of the heat islands will continue to increase.

Urban heat profile

Urban areas hold heat.

What Causes the Build Up of Heat?

As you enter a city you may notice concrete and asphalt surrounding you—-buildings, parking lots, streets and side walks. The concrete and asphalt absorb the sun’s heat rather than reflecting it, causing surface temperatures to rise. The rise in temperature also causes a depletion of vegetation resulting in less shade and moisture in the air. The resulting heat requires an increase in energy consumption—air conditioning which results in greater electrical use. This  cycle  keeps revolving—a catch 22 in which there is no escape from the merry-go-round of negative conditions from heat build-up.

Smog and Heat Islands

Cities can also cause “hotspots” of pollution. This smog can trap heat over a city, holding in the gases from coal burning facilities and vehicle emissions, not allowing them to escape into the atmosphere (the greenhouse effect). In addition, the closely built structures resist air flow, keeping the air trapped in the city, unlike the countryside which cools off as the air flows more freely.

Health Effects of Heat Islands

Some of the more obvious effects of heat islands are discomfort, breathing problems, heat stroke and exhaustion. But they can also be related to cardiovascular disease, sleep deprivation, depression and many more!

urban heat island

Build Green

Minimizing the Heat Island Effect

New technologies for minimizing heat islands are rapidly being developed. Several techniques currently in use for developing green urban areas are:

*Cut down on heat absorbing materials, such as asphalt and cement, by using more reflective surfaces for paved areas.The pavement can be enhanced by using reflective aggregate, a reflective or clear binder or a reflective surface coating.
*Plant trees that shade streets and paved areas.
*Use white roof membranes instead of black.
*Create a green roof–rooftop gardens.
*Create rooftop decks made from wood.
*Increase shade around buildings.
*Use energy efficient appliances and equipment which cut down on electrical use.

As National Geographic summarized, “Urban heat islands can have worse air and water quality than their rural neighbors. They often have lower air quality because there are more pollutants (waste products from vehicles, industry, and people) being pumped into the air. These pollutants are blocked from scattering and becoming less toxic by the urban landscape: buildings, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots.”

As urban areas grow a person’s health will be connected to the build up of heat and pollution in the city…..it will become essential to build green. The planning stage for this is now!

Urban Heat Islands

building green

build green


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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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The Solar Airplane

Solar airplane

Powered only by solar energy.

“Clean Technology can accomplish amazing things!”

By Linn Smith

April 26, 2016: Following is an article I wrote in 2013 about the solar airplane and the Solar Impulse. The Solar Impulse 2 is on its around-the-world flight and just finished its 10th leg of its tour, landing in California. It started in Abu Dhubi, in the United Arab Emirates, where it will also end, taking 2 years to complete. It will travel a distance of 35,000 miles on solar only, with cruising speeds between 28mph-56mph.

June 21, 2013—–Photovoltaic (PV) technology, or the solar cell, is a power supply that produces electricity from the sun’s rays. In 1954, Bell Telephone Labs developed the first Photovoltaic Cell capable of powering everyday electrical equipment, but with only 4% efficiency. The solar cell has quickly achieved greater efficiency over the decades, as people seek free energy from the sun and express their concern about CO2 and global warming.

When a solar cell is exposed to light, it can generate an electrical current without being attached to a voltage source. Photovoltaic–the term “photo” is derived from the greek word meaning “light” and “Volt” is from Alessandro Volta, inventor of first battery in 1800. Therefore, photovoltaic cells produce energy from light, which is a sustainable energy source. If something is “sustainable” it has been “developed to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Sustainability also meets the needs of our planet, maintaining a healthy environment in which life can survive and flourish.

Project Sunrise, 1974

The first solar airplane to fly was an unmanned craft , Project Sunrise, in 1974 by Roland Boucher, an engineer for Hughes Aircraft. Boucher developed an aircraft powered only by solar panels on its wings. The Sunrise had a total weight of 22 lbs., could soar to a height of 8,000 ft., and made 28 flights before being destroyed in turbulant weather. Boucher’s invention had enough success to “demonstrate the feasibility of solar powered flight at extreme altitudes,” and opened the door for solar innovators to take to the sky!

The Solar Airplane

The Solar Airplane: 17,000 Solar Cells attached to the wing

Flying Around the World with Solar

Jump ahead to 2013, a solar airplane that can fly forever without landing, developed by a company called Solar Impulse which was founded by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. Piccard came up with the idea of flying a solar aircraft after circling the earth in a hot air balloon. He stated, “After using almost three tons of fuel during my balloon trip, I knew I wanted to try to create a cleaner way of traveling. The balloon trip was almost a failure due to the dependency on fuel. On that day, I made a promise that the next time I would fly around the world, it would be with no fuel at all.

The Solar Airplane

The Solar Airplane: Around-the-World-Tour.

The solar Impulse Company

“Our company, Solar Impulse, has a goal—to prove that progress is possible using clean forms of energy.” The Solar Impulse aircraft is a one man airplane, can fly night or day, uses 12,000 solar cells mounted on its wings and stores the sun’s power in batteries–no fuel used! It flies approximately 45mph, uses the latest technology in advanced batteries to store the power of the sun and enables the aircraft to fly round-the-clock. It has the wingspan equal to a 747 jet, but weighs no more than a car.

Piccard and Borschberg piloted the Solar Impulse aircraft, alternatively, beginning May 3, 2013, making city-to-city jaunts starting in San Francisco and landing in Washington D.C. 45 days later. This transcontinental flight has prepared the way for Solar Impulse’s second generation of aircraft which will fly around the world in 2015. The improved version will have a larger cockpit and everything necessary for the pilot to survive in the air for 5 or 6 days.

The Future of Solar Technology

Finally, I will leave you with a question asked to Piccard in the June issue of “Popular Mechanics” Magazine:

Question:”What are the future applications of solar airplane technology?”

Answer: “The technologies we carry on board Solar Impulse, if they were massively used everywhere in the world, would allow people to cut in half the energy consumption of our world and produce half of the rest with renewable sources. We have the best electrical engines, the best batteries, the lightest materials for our solar structure, the best insulation materials, the most efficient lighting system, and all this can be used to build houses and cars, and for lighting, cooling and heating systems everywhere. The problem is the resistance of people against changes. Too many people are afraid of losing their habits and beliefs, so the introduction of clean technologies on the consumer market is taking far too long.”


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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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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!