Planet Earth Weekly

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


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Solar Uses in the West: Monitoring the Irrigation Ditch

solar water monitor

Solar monitors the flow of water.

“It’s predicted that in the future, solar will be the main source for controlling our water systems in the West.”

By Linn Smith

June 23, 2017—In the eastern section of the U.S., water is easily obtainable. In the west, where dry land prevails, water rights are taken seriously.

How is water diverted to arid land? Irrigation ditches are man made channels that deliver water to homes, farms or industries. They have head gates on creeks and water sources to divert water to these arid regions.

solar monitor

Monitor water flow through solar

Water Rights

In the West and Southwest U.S., a person diverting water through a canal needs legal rights, because there are many demands on the water between individuals, industries and cities. In the 1800’s miners depended on water rights for mining of gold and other minerals, and pioneers depended on water rights to irrigate crops far away from the stream.

Colorado developed the Prior Appropriation Doctrine which is still in use today. It states that, “The first person to divert water and apply it to a beneficial use has a prior or senior right to the water over any other user who seeks to use water at a later time.” This secures the amount and date of senior users. Water rights in Colorado are property rights and can be bought, sold or rented apart from the land through which they run, if the water is put to beneficial use.

In New Mexico a person needs to obtain a permit through the State Engineer Office. The office will evaluate and determine if water is available and would not impair existing water rights.

Solar

Solar monitors the flow of water in irrigation ditch

Irrigating

In New Mexico I helped surface irrigate (flood irrigate) a friend’s ranch from an irrigation canal, which ran above ground. Irrigating consisted of opening the irrigation gate by hand and allowing water from the canal to run over the horse pasture. We were able to control the amount of water on the pasture by sliding the gate down when the water was sufficient for healthy pasture growth. This has been the most common type of irrigation in most parts of the world.

solar for irrigation

The irrigation ditch runs through this horse pasture to keep it green and usable.

Solar Powered Water Moniters

Recently a solar monitor was added to an irrigation ditch nearby, which runs through farmland and continues to a large lake. The gate of the irrigation ditch was previously open and closed by hand, but now a solar monitor opens and closes the gate to prevent flooding from unused water in the ditch.

solar

Solar to monitor irrigation ditch

In an article, Solar-Powered Automation on Irrigation Delivery Systems, it states, “The most popular do it yourself solar automation model consists of a 1/16 inch horsepower gear motor, a bicycle-type lift apparatus, (chain and sprocket) and a cover over the gate stem which contains a gate position sensor and limit switches. The gate system is usually powered by 1 or 2 deep-cycle batteries which are charged by a 20-40 watt solar panel. The gear is attached to the 12 volt DC gear motor with an industrial chain.”

irrigation ditch

Water flows through irrigation ditch to lake

It’s predicted that in the future, solar will be the main source for controlling our water systems in the West, from pumping up groundwater for cattle to monitoring the amount of water in irrigation ditches. Again, sunshine prevails!

Solar!


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Another Pragmatic Use for Solar–The Solar Bus!

The solar bus!

A prototype of what is to come in Uganda–the solar bus!

“It’s environmentally friendly, green and clean—the solar bus!”

By Linn Smith

July 3, 2016—In February of this year, Africa’s first solar bus, a prototype, hit its highways thanks to engineer, Paul Isaac Musasizi, CEO of Kiira Motors. The Kayoola Bus, as it is called in Africa, is an environmentally friendly, green and clean, 34 seat alternative to current buses. The system consists of two batteries charged by solar panels on the roof.

Creating Jobs for Uganda

When manufacturing of the bus is in place the company hopes to create 7,000 jobs, and by 2039, be able to manufacture all the parts for the bus in Uganda. Pricing the bus at $58,000, Musaisizi currently has some government funding, but is still looking for investors to get his project off the ground.

The solar bus

The Solar Bus–ride free!

Australia’s Tindo

Uganda does not boast the first solar bus. Australia has what they call the Tindo, powered 100% by solar! The Tindo was created by a New Zealand company called Designline International which “leads the world in vehicle design, hybrid propulsion systems and electric drive systems,” striving to keep New Zealand green through being environmentally conscious. The batteries of the Tindo are charged by a solar system on the roof at the city bus station instead of panels on top of the bus. This bus has been in operation since 2007 and accommodates 40 passengers–and cost to ride? Totally free!

China's hybrid bus

China’s hybrid bus–keeping in green!

China’s Hybrid Buses

China put solar hybrid buses into operation in 2012. These buses have solar panels installed on the roof which power lithium-ion batteries.

Solar Bus

Austria’s Solar Bus

And Solar for Austria

In Austria the first solar bus was put into operation in 2011. This is a bus developed to transport students between the university campuses.

“Solar buses—solar energy applied in another pragmatic way!”


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Fun in the Sun: Camping with Renewables

Earth Day

Clean Energy: Make It a Priority!

“These are just a very few of the many renewable accessories available for camping–and you can’t beat a free charge using the sun!”

By Linn Smith

June 3, 2016—-Now that nice weather is upon us, many think about taking tents and equipment into the peacefulness of the wilderness, sitting by a stream with a fishing pole, hiking the path along the scenic terrain and getting out of the city into nature.

Replace Those Batteries with Sun Power!

Have you thought about replacing those battery driven gadgets used for camping with solar ones? There are many products now on the market that are environmentally friendly, many using the free energy of the sun! I have had the same solar flashlight for about 10 years–and it never fails me, even if it has been in the glove compartment for weeks! We have had solar panels for our travel trailer for about 5 years–which keep our DC lights lighting up just fine! (In the article, “Solar Powering Your RV” on our Planet Earth Weekly website, I covered how to set up your RV using Solar.)

Renewable Camping

Every year there are more solar and renewable camping accessories to choose from. Here are just a few that are on the market:

Solar Radio

Know the weather when your camping.

1. Eton Scorpion Multi-Purpose Solar Powered Digital Weather Radio–It retails for about $70. It’s a flashlight, radio, USB cell phone charger, and gives you weather alerts. Reviews say it’s good for short interval uses.

Biolite kettle Charger

Charge phone as you boil water.

2. Biolite KettleCharger–This gadget charges your phone or tablet while you boil water. It retails for about $150 from http://www.BioLite.com and provides 10W On-Demand power, with a charge the strength of a wall outlet. It also stores power for “a quick recharge with no heat or water.” This gadget packs flat, creating power while you boil water for cooking, drinking or cleaning. You can use it on your camp stove, boiling water as your battery stores power. This has excellent reviews.

LuminaAid

Solar Lantern that is waterproof.

3. LuminaAid Packlight Spectra–This is a color changing solar light that inflates into a handy lantern and retails at Luminaid.com for about $25. It recharges in about 7 hours direct sunlight and gives 12 hours of LED light. It weights about 3.5 oz and is waterproof up to 1 meter deep and can float. This has excellent reviews.

GoSun camping stove.

Cook with Solar!

4. GoSun Stove–This retails for about $280. It’s a portable stove that cooks a meal in less than 20 minutes and uses no fuel, only the sun! It weighs about 3.5 pds (1.5 kg), but will cook up to 31 lbs of food at a time. It retains about 80% of it’s sun intake, can bake, boil or fry and collapses to carry. This has excellent reviews.

Yeti Solar Generator

Camp with a Solar Generator

5. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator–Available at http://www.REI.com for about $230. It’s gas free and fume free, cranking out portable power from sunlight to power lights, phones and laptops. It’s quiet and lasts about 7 hrs on a full charge. The output is 12V, AC, and USB. It weighs about 12 lbs and is rechargeable by solar, AC or 12V. It can be plugged into a Boulder 30 panel for recharging.

scrubbabag: Clothes washing for camping trips

Wash your clothes when camping!

6. Scrubba Wash Bag–Pick it up at REI for around $50. It weighs less than 5 oz, volume of the bag is about 3 gallons. You fill it with water, clothes and soap, your rub it with your hands to wash. Inside it has hundreds of internal Scrubba nodules that clean your clothes quickly and it folds down to pocket size. It has a transparent window so you can see the dirt escaping your clothes! And you can just keep dirty clothes in it until your ready to do your wash. This has very good reviews.

These are just a very few of the many renewable accessories available for camping–and you can’t beat a free charge using the sun! Have a fun summer! And remember—do what you can, when you can, where you can to create a healthier planet!

Clean It and Green It


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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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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 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.