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Intentional Ignorance

November 6, 2012

I wrote this essay to offer some essential information about our world and the future of our species, adding my voice to the many cries of alarm over the environmental crisis (lately reaching criticality). [More…]

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Renewable Energy

Citizen Lobbyists Flood Capitol Hill to Combat Climate Change

The day before yesterday, I joined 350 other volunteers from around the country to visit Congressional offices in Washington at the Capitol for pre-arranged meetings with staffers for Senators and Congressmen. I had four such meetings: with a Texas Congressman’s staff, with a Florida Congressman’s staff, with my Senator Marco Rubio’s staff, and with my local representative, Bill Posey’s, staff. At each meeting I was joined by two to four other members of the organization which planned the meetings, Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

That day, we held nearly 535 meetings with members of both houses of the Congress. That’s the number of our representatives in Washington currently. The message is clear and straightforward:

Climate change is real and is accelerated by human actions, mainly from the fast-growing emissions of global warming gases, mostly carbon dioxide (CO2), but others as well, including methane (CH4), produced by a variety of causes, most importantly the combustion of fossil fuels. The level of those “greenhouse gas emissions” has ramped up steadily throughout the industrial revolution. The rise in the concentration of these gases has been trapping solar radiant heat in the atmosphere, on the Earth’s surface, and in its oceans and other water bodies at increasing levels throughout the last century. The trend is accelerating in this century, with bad and growing consequences. Great damage will be done to human civilization if the process is not stopped in the next few decades. But if we wait too long, it will be too late. A cascading sequence of adverse effects will have begun. Continue reading

Establishment Politicians Be Damned. The People Have Had Enough.

The U.S. presidential election has finally demonstrated that the people have had it. They are rising up in large numbers to let establishment politicians know they won’t take it anymore. The surge of Donald Trump to the head of the Republican Party has confounded nearly everyone. But his populist appeal has won the day—with however crazy the vessel of that anger might be to thinking adults.

Crowd of peopleThe amazing crowds also drawn to Bernie Sanders rallies in the Democratic Party make the same point, with a similar message: We’ve had it with traditional politicians who line their pockets with huge financial gifts from wealthy donors determined to bend public policy toward their greed for money and power.

But in the most important area of all, the first of these protest movements misses the mark while the second is right on target. That is the likelihood of massive environmental, political, and violent disruptions at the hands of global warming. These may bring civilization to the brink of collapse in a few decades, if much more serious action to combat it is not taken now, quickly, and with massive changes in the way that civilization powers itself.

In consequence, a massive set of public protests, demonstrations, gatherings, and stunts is kicking off around the globe this month.  BREAKFREE has started a massive global series of actions to convince the world to abandon fossil fuels, leaving them safely in the ground, while switching to energy efficiency and renewable energy. These actions are being taken in the hopes of staving off the scourge of global warming now reaching epic proportions. The severe consequences of rampant, uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions are proceeding unabated—even accelerating—with dire consequences for the future of humanity.

Continue reading

Review: The Great Transition—Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy

The Great Transition by Lester R. Brown

W. W. Norton & Company (April 20, 2015)

Review by Ross McCluney 22 OCT 2015

This is a terrific contribution from an experienced writer on environmental issues.

It has been a long struggle to bring the costs of solar energy and other renewable sources down to a point where they can actually compete in the energy marketplace, even without major government incentives.

That’s the case for wind and solar, as Brown describes so well in this new book. Other renewable energy sources are also making great strides, as are efficient buildings and efficient transportation — not to mention research accomplishments on energy storage technologies, efficient long-distance electricity grid designs, and massive new investments in green energy.

The only deficiency is the lack of graphics to support the text. But never mind that. Web searches on wave energy, tidal energy, ocean current energy, solar electric, solar thermal, energy storage, geothermal, wind turbines, electric grids, and renewable energy economics can put these images plus relevant charts and graphs at your fingertips.

For example, when I started out as a solar scientist in 1976, the holy grail in the photovoltaic world was getting the price of PV down to an amazingly low price of 50¢ per peak Watt (Wp) of electrical output. At that time the price was over $76/Wp. Take a look at this astounding bar chart of the price from 1976 to 2015.

It turns out that we passed the 50¢/Wp point in 2013 and now the price is an amazingly 30¢/Wp, thanks mainly to China’s recent burst in solar equipment manufacturing, aided along the way by the United States, Japan, and Germany. Continue reading