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September 2014 is now the hottest on record
From: The Weather Network  Posted: October 15th 2014

"NASA records show that the month of September 2014 has now taken the top spot on the list of hottest Septembers on record. According to records from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), September 2014 now ranks as the hottest month of September, in records going back to 1880."

"Jake Crouch, an NCDC climatologist, said, 'if we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record.'"

The biggest anomalies are in Antarctica, for which NASA had to allocate a new colour (brown). The puzzle of why we are also seeing record ice extents (area) in Antarctica remains. Remember that extent is measured in discrete cells which have at least 15% sea ice - no measurement of the ice thickness is taken into account. It is possible that melting ice shelves are causing more sea ice or that the changed wind patterns are scattering the ice further afield............[Ian]


Regional Sea Level Impacts becoming Clearer
From: The Conversation  Posted: October 13th 2014

"At the moment, regional sea-level rise driven by warming oceans and melting ice is hidden by natural variability such as the El Niño, which causes year-to-year changes in sea level of several centimetres."

"Analysis of sea-level projections published in Nature Climate Change indicates that regional sea-level rise will be generally noticeable before 2030."

The melting ice component will be increasingly from the polar ice sheets as we move forward. James Hansen and Makiko Sato expect the disintegration to be exponential like the spread of Ebola. Exponentials possess a doubling time - 4 weeks in the case of Ebola, ~10 years for ice. If this is correct and GHG emissions are not reduced, then we can expect sea levels to rise by 5m or so by the end of the century. But again, it will take around 15 years to determine whether they are right...........[Ian]

EU: Wind cheapest; Gas 56% more; Coal 122% higher.
From: The Guardian  Posted: October 13th 2014

"Onshore wind is cheaper than coal, gas or nuclear energy when the costs of ‘external’ factors like air quality, human toxicity and climate change are taken into account, according to an EU analysis."

"Renewables are regularly denigrated for being too expensive and a drain on the taxpayer. Not only does the commission’s report show the alarming cost of coal but it also presents onshore wind as both cheaper and more environmentally-friendly."

"The paper, which was written for the European commission by the Ecofys consultancy, suggests that the [UK] Conservative party plan of restricting new onshore wind farms will mean blocking out the cheapest source of energy when environmental and health facts are taken into consideration."


We're Sitting on 10 Billion Barrels of Oil! - OK, Two
From: Bloomberg  Posted: October 10th 2014

"Lee Tillman, chief executive officer of Marathon Oil Corp., told investors last month that the company was potentially sitting on the equivalent of 4.3 billion barrels in its U.S. shale acreage. That number was 5.5 times higher than the proved reserves Marathon reported to federal regulators."

"In public presentations, unregulated estimates included wells that would lose money, prospects that have never been drilled, acreage that won’t be tapped for decades and projects whose likelihood of success is less than 10 percent."

"If a lot of people get burned -- and I think a lot of people can and will be burned -- by these numbers in the investor presentations, there may be a push by investors to get the SEC to do something about it."

The Other CO2 Problem
From: AllAfrica  Posted: October 8th 2014

"The global economy could be losing as much as R11 trillion annually by the end of the century if countries do not take urgent steps to stop ocean acidification, says a United Nations report."

"Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by a drastic increase in carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity. The report stresses that this phenomenon is occurring at unprecedented levels, threatening marine biodiversity and ultimately human society."

"Ocean acidification will greatly affect food security in the coming years, as well as tourism and other industries such as the pharmaceutical industry which relies on many marine organisms."

Aquifers Contaminated With Fracking Wastewater
From: Desmogblog  Posted: October 7th 2014

"California state regulators shut down 11 fracking wastewater injection wells last July over concerns that the wastewater might have contaminated aquifers."

"The California State Water Resources Board has sent a letter to the EPA confirming that at least nine of those sites were in fact dumping wastewater contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants into aquifers."

Are we foolish enough to believe that something similar will not happen in South Africa. Wells will be located out of the public gaze. The hazardous material will not be identified. We will not be able to fully supervise this activity ...........[Ian]

Biochar! The verdict is in: it works.
From: resilience.org  Posted: October 7th 2014

"Terra preta de indio (Indian black earth) is the name given in the Amazon to deep black soils found in many places. They are highly and persistently fertile, often farmed by the local folks."

"Typical rainforest soils are the opposite; very infertile, because the trees already have all the nutrients tied up in wood, and [are] red, not black. After decades of argument, it is now agreed; these soils were created, somehow, by the Native Americans, and they’re black because they’re full of charcoal, which is also what makes them fertile. The details are very thorny - but that’s all now accepted."

"The terra preta soils are persistent? The carbon in that charcoal in the soil can be 2-3 thousand years old. Maybe 4 or 5."

Cuts EV Charging System Costs by up to "90%"
From: Clean Technica  Posted: October 7th 2014

"ubitricity want to do away with costly charging stations. These typically cost thousands of dollars (or euros). ubitricity’s answer is to mount sockets on streetlights and other existing outlets."

"ubitricity has a contract to set up 100 of its charging stations in Berlin. A joint press release with Berlin energy provider Grundgrün predicts ubitricity’s mobile metering system 'will soon be charging Grundgrün energy at every street light'."

South Africa has hardly begun to think of the benefits of EV transport. Many think it will further stress Eskom whereas, in practice, EVs combine excellently with solar PV and result in reduced emissions, imported fuel and grid dependancy. Here's a way we can recover lost ground .........[Ian]


Natural gas may be a boon for economy, but methane emissions are a bane
From: Lancaster Online  Posted: October 6th 2014

"[The] natural gas compressor station in Marietta, for instance, was the sixth-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Lancaster County in 2013, according to the EPA; methane accounted for about a fourth of the compressor station’s emissions."

" [Pennsylvania's] aging natural gas distribution network, including some 10,000 miles of dangerously leaky pipes, sprang more than 31,000 leaks in 2013. Those leaks can pollute our air and leach into the water table."

"The best way for the gas industry to reduce the amount of natural gas it leaks and vents into the atmosphere is to upgrade the infrastructure that produces, transports and stores the gas, and that’s not going to happen without it being a requirement of doing business in Pennsylvania."

Upper 700m of the ocean have been warming much faster than thought
From: New Scientist  Posted: October 5th 2014

"It's worse than we thought. Scientists may have hugely underestimated the extent of global warming because temperature readings from southern hemisphere seas were inaccurate."

"Comparisons of direct measurements with satellite data and climate models suggest that the oceans of the southern hemisphere have been sucking up more than twice as much of the heat trapped by our excess greenhouse gases than previously calculated. This means we may have underestimated the extent to which our world has been warming."

"The northern hemisphere has been well sampled by cargo ships and projects led by wealthy countries north of the equator, very few direct measurements have been taken in the south. So it's not surprising that the in-situ measurements have been wrong. 'But this is huge' says Wenju Cai from the CSIRO in Melbourne, Australia."


The Energy-Water Nexus
From: Clean Technica  Posted: October 4th 2014

"Did you know that it takes 11,000-24,000 litres of water per year to power just one 60W incandescent light bulb? Unfortunately it’s true. But how can this be, don’t light bulbs use electricity?"

Yes, they do. But the existing electricity fleet requires massive volumes of water for their production. By 2030, McKinsey and Co. estimate that total demand will reach 17.7billion cu.m. per year, whilst supply will only be 15billion. Plus, by then, climate change is expected to have introduced longer and deeper periods of drought. In the US, droughts in both Texas and California have closed down fossil fuel power stations, just when power demand hits a peak.

Here is yet another advantage of renewable energy - you can see how little water these sources of energy require to produce our electricity in the Cleantech article. We have seen the effects of poor planning by Eskom. It is time for the powers that be to open their eyes to what the situation demands, rather than focusing on the dollar signs that shale gas is mistakenly expected to bring.


Call for Commission of Inquiry
From: Anton Eberhard  Posted: October 2nd 2014

"SA faces its worse power crisis in 40 years. Eskom has now admitted in Parliament that, after five years of electricity shortages, we are likely to face another five. A decade of power constraints will cripple aspirations to grow our economy."

"The realisation that Eskom cannot fix the power crisis anytime soon is dawning slowly on the government. Eskom was seen as integral to the developmental state, and its mega coal power stations — Medupi and Kusile — were meant to power the economy into the future. However, we now know that these new power units are years late, way over budget, and are constraining rather than facilitating economic development."

"What has not been made public, but has been admitted privately by senior Eskom managers, is that the second Medupi unit — originally due six months after the first — will be commissioned only two and a half years later."


Even Oil Companies are Dumping ALEC now
From: Emily Atkin  Posted: September 30th 2014

"The fourth-largest U.S. oil and gas company revealed Friday that it is leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) amid widespread backlash over the free-market lobbying group’s efforts to undermine clean energy and promote climate change denial."

"Occidental’s revelation comes just a few days after a number of tech companies announced they would abandon ALEC, an exodus spearheaded by Google chairman Eric Schmidt last week. Schmidt, in an appearance on NPR’s Diane Rehm show, said the company’s decision to fund ALEC was a 'mistake', because the group spreads lies about global warming and 'mak[es] the world a much worse place.'"

"'Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place' Schmidt said at the time. 'And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.'"

Sumitomo to Probe R20billion in Shale and Coal Losses
From: Bloomberg  Posted: September 29th 2014

"Sumitomo Corp. will set up a special investigation into how it lost almost R20billion in Texas shale oil and Australian coal mining."

"The probe comes after the company, Japan’s fourth-biggest trading house, cut its annual profit forecast by 96 percent after writing down the value of the two investments. Most of the losses were incurred at the shale oil project it shares with Devon Energy Corp. of the U.S."

"Sumitomo’s board plans to sell the northern part of the oil project it shares with Devon Energy, saying it’s 'difficult to extract the oil and gas efficiently.'"


The State of the Climate Debate
From: Ian Perrin  Posted: June 13th 2014

"Kevin Anderson's blog of 5th June examines the US commitment to cut its emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and concludes that: The maths accompanying obligations to avoid 'dangerous climate change' demand fundamental change rather than rousing rhetoric and incremental action."

" View a 7 minute video clip of Michael Mann explaining the IPCC's conservatism and note that even the IPCC tells us that South Africa can expect temperature increases of 3 to 5C, without emissions reduction and that in turn implies consequences for food production."

"Ezra Klein, until recently a highly regarded political commentator with the Washington Post, wrote a piece entitled '7 Reasons America will fail on climate change' and Joe Romm of Climate Progress responded. Here we look at each of his 'Reasons' in turn and Joe Romm's response to each. "


Obama: ‘If Congress Won’t Act Soon To Protect Future Generations, I Will’
From: Joe Romm  Posted: February 13th 2013

"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and more intense."

"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late."

"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."


TEDX study reveals more detail about the dangers of gas drilling
From Ian Perrin  Posted: 14th November 2012

"The study shows that air sampling near natural gas operations reveals numerous chemicals in the air, many associated with natural gas operations. Some of the highest concentrations in the study were from methane, ethane, propane, and other alkanes that occur as a result of natural gas operations"

"Although concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in this study appear low, they may have clinical significance."

We thank them sincerely on behalf of all South Africans for the effort they are making to understand the effects of drilling and fracking for natural gas that will result in better protection for our workers and communities alike. [Ian]

Greenhouse Gas Theory explained
From Ian Perrin  Posted: 24th October 2012

You might have gained the impression climate change caused by rising amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere is a contentious theory added only recently to our scientific understanding.

Not so – we can trace the basis for it all the way back to Isaac Newton's work in the early 1670's and the first, generally accepted theory around 1859, more than 150 years ago."

Here's our plain English version of the history of its development and some detail on the scientists involved.

We Must Heed James Hansen
From: Joe Romm & Michael Mann  Posted: 9th August 2012

"During the hot, dry summer of 1988, Hansen announced that 'it is time to stop waffling…. The evidence is pretty strong that the [human-amplified] greenhouse effect is here.'" Much criticism followed.

"Hansen, it turns out, was right, and the critics were wrong. Rather than being reckless, as some of his critics charged, his announcement to the world proved to be prescient – and his critics were proven overly cautious."

"Given the prescience of Hansen’s science, we would be unwise to ignore his latest, more dire warning."

"The time for debate about the reality of human-caused climate change has now passed. We can have a good faith debate about how to deal with the problem – how to reduce future climate change and adapt to what is already upon us to reduce the risks that climate change poses to society. But we can no longer simply bury our heads in the sand."

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