Sunday, December 12, 2010

VIDEO: Abreviated History of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels have powered human growth and ingenuity for centuries. However, fossil fuel resources are limited, and obtaining, transporting and burning fossil fuels are creating problems for the environment, public health and national security. We need to prepare for moving beyond fossil fuels and transitioning to clean, renewable energy sources.

The video below depicts an abbreviated history of fossil fuels in a creative way, through time-lapse photography of hand drawn illustrations. Watch it and see 300 years of fossil fuel history in 300 seconds:

Power Shift 2011: April 15-18, DC Convention Center

Power Shift 2011 is now set for April 15-18 in Washington DC’s Convention Center — the largest available space in the nation’s capital.

The event is organized by the Energy Action Coalition, a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement. Their website states:
Power Shift 2011 is our opportunity to come together and define the way forward for our movement. Together we'll celebrate our grassroots success stories, hear from movement leaders, and learn from and train each other to launch new campaigns. We'll take bold action to set the tone in Washington and show them what true leadership looks like. If it's anything like years past, Power Shift 2011 is bound to be historic.
Power Shift 2007 and 2009 were the largest convergences of young environmental and social justice activists in U.S. history. The 2009 event was the largest lobby day ever on Capitol Hill.

To learn more about the 2011 event, visit the Energy Action Coalition on the web.

To REGISTER, Click Here. Register by Sunday, February 13 to get the discounted rate.

FaceBook Page is here.

To see earlier posts about Power Shift 2009, click here.

To see an extensive post about University at Buffalo student involvement in Power Shift 2009, visit Re-ENERGIZE BUFFALO.

The UB students also held a local Power Shift event in 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where does electricity come from?

Do you know where your electricity comes from?

Fifty percent of the electricity in the U.S. is generated from burning coal.

Despite all of the industry hype about "clean coal", there is no such thing, and there never will be. Coal is dirty from start to finish: mining, mountaintop removal, watershed pollution, transportation, burning, greenhouse gas emissions, mercury and acid pollution of waterways, and toxic solid waste.

Isn't it high time to invest more into renewable energy, make the transition to a clean energy economy and create new jobs for coal miners and many others?

"The Story of Coal" video, below, was produced by a company that sells solar panels that use the free energy of the sun to make electricity. Other types of clean, renewable energy come from wind, hydropower and geothermal sources.

Watch the video to learn more about dirty coal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Climate Action and Energy Policy News

Bill McKibben is the recipient of the 2010 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. The award is given to an individual who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, and socially responsible work of significance. Read more here.

The recent elections will have major consequences for U.S. climate and energy policy. Read about the Election Results, State Elections, The Role of Dirty Money, What's Next for Climate?, and the Lame Duck Outlook.
See a summary by Jason Kowalski, Policy Coordinator at in Washington, DC.

This November 20-27, the week before the United Nations meets in Cancun to continue negotiations on a global climate treaty, is organizing the first ever planetary art show: 350 EARTH.
See the article by Jamie Henn, Co-founder and Communications Director.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't believe in global warming? That's not very conservative.

By Bracken Hendricks
The Washington Post
Sunday, November 7, 2010

Few causes unite the conservatives of the newly elected 112th Congress as unanimously as their opposition to government action on climate change.

In September, the Center for American Progress Action Fund surveyed Republican candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races and found that nearly all disputed the scientific consensus on global warming, and none supported measures to mitigate it. For example, Robert Hurt, who won Tom Perriello's House seat in Virginia, says clean-energy legislation would fail to "do anything except harm people." The tea party's "Contract From America" calls proposed climate policies "costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation's global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures." Even conservatives who once argued for action on climate change, such as as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), have run for cover.

But it's conservatives who should fear climate change the most. To put it simply, if you hate big government, try global warming on for size.

Many conservatives say they oppose clean-energy policies because they want to keep government off our backs. But they have it exactly backward. Doing nothing will set our country on a course toward narrower choices for businesses and individuals, along with an expanded role for government. When catastrophe strikes - and yes, the science is quite solid that it will - it will be the feds who are left conducting triage.

My economic views are progressive, and I think government has an important role in tackling big problems. But I admire many cherished conservative values, from personal responsibility to thrift to accountability, and I worry that conservatives' lock-step posture on climate change is seriously out of step with their professed priorities. A strong defense of our national interests, rigorous cost-benefit analysis, fiscal discipline and the ability to avoid unnecessary intrusions into personal liberty will all be seriously compromised in a world marked by climate change.

In fact, far from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk. When faced with uncertainty and the possibility of costly outcomes, smart businessmen buy insurance, reduce their downside exposure and protect their assets. When confronted with a disease outbreak of unknown proportions, front-line public health workers get busy producing vaccines, pre-positioning supplies and tracking pathogens. And when military planners assess an enemy, they get ready for a worst-case encounter.

When it comes to climate change, conservatives are doing none of this. Instead, they are recklessly betting the farm on a single, best-case scenario: That the scientific consensus about global warming will turn out to be wrong. This is bad risk management and an irresponsible way to run anything, whether a business, an economy or a planet.

The great irony is that, should their high-stakes bet prove wrong, adapting to a destabilized climate would mean a far bigger, more intrusive government than would most of the "big government" solutions to our energy problems that have been discussed so far.

Let's start with costs. The investment needed to slow carbon pollution might total from 1 to 2 percent of global GDP each year for several decades, according to a 2006 study by the British government. This spending would pay for advanced technology, better land use and modern infrastructure. The same study put the cost of inaction - including economic harm from property damage and lost crops - at 5 to 20 percent of global GDP, lasting in perpetuity, with the risk of vastly higher catastrophic damage. You tell me which option is more fiscally responsible.

But it's not this cost-benefit arithmetic that should most concern conservatives. Their real worry should be what it will take to manage the effects of climate change as they are felt across the economy over the course of our lifetimes.

The best science available suggests that without taking action to fundamentally change how we produce and use energy, we could see temperatures rise 9 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit over much of the United States by 2090. These estimates have sometimes been called high-end predictions, but the corresponding low-end forecasts assume we will rally as a country to shift course. That hasn't happened, so the worst case must become our best guess.

With temperature increases in this range, studies predict a permanent drought throughout the Southwest, much like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but this time stretching from Kansas to California. If you hate bailouts or want to end farm subsidies, this is a problem. Rising ocean acidity, meanwhile, will bring collapsing fisheries, catch restrictions - and unemployment checks. And rising sea levels will mean big bills as cash-strapped cities set about rebuilding infrastructure and repairing storm damage. With Americans in pain, the government will have to respond. And who will shoulder these new burdens? Future taxpayers.

This is just the beginning. If conservatives' rosy hopes prove wrong, who but the federal government will undertake the massive infrastructure projects necessary to protect high-priced real estate in Miami and Lower Manhattan from rising oceans? And what about smaller coastal cities, such as Galveston and Corpus Christi in Texas? Will it fall to FEMA or some other part of the federal government to decide who will move and when and under what circumstances? Elsewhere, with declining river flows, how will the Bureau of Reclamation go about repowering the dams of the Pacific Northwest?

And while we're busy at home, who will help Pakistan or Bangladesh in its next flood? What will the government do to secure food supplies when Russia freezes wheat exports? Without glaciers, what will become of Lima, Peru, a city dependent on melting ice for drinking water? Will we let waves of "climate refugees" cross our borders?

As the physicist and White House science director John Holdren has said: "We basically have three choices: mitigation [cutting emissions], adaptation and suffering. We're going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be."

Today's conservatives would do well to start thinking more like military planners, reexamining the risks inherent in their strategy. If, instead, newly elected Republicans do nothing, they will doom us all to bigger government interventions and a large dose of suffering - a reckless choice that's anything but conservative.

Bracken Hendricks is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a co-author, with Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), of "Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Karl Rove denies climate change, likes fracking - GASLAND's Josh Fox responds

Karl Rove is in denial about climate change, and the GOP thinks it's a scientific fraud. Rove is also promoting gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale by hydraulic fracturing, i.e., fracking.

Josh Fox, GASLAND filmmaker, exposes the water and air pollution caused by fracking, and advocates the switch to renewable energy for America's future.

Watch the report by Keith Olbermann and interview with Josh Fox

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Burn Dirty Coal, Lose Facebook Friends

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, is facing criticism from many, including clean energy activists. Greenpeace, for one, objects to Facebook’s decision to build a massive new data center that will be powered disproportionately by burning coal, emissions from which are a major contributor to global warming.

Greenpeace wants Facebook to use more energy from renewable sources, such as the wind, or the sun like Google does. In their animated film, the Greenpeace warns that they have a half a million people on Facebook who oppose coal power, and that Mr. Zuckerberg could lose all those “friends” if he proceeds as planned. Check out the video:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Road Not Taken ... Again!

President Jimmy Carter's White House Solar Panels Rejected Again

The film "A Road Not Taken" tells the story about the solar thermal panels that were put on the White House in 1979 during the administration of
President Jimmy Carter, a solar energy advocate who also created the Department of Energy.

The solar panels were taken down during the Reagan administration, warehoused, and later put back into service
at Unity College in Maine, generating hot water using the free, clean energy of our sun.

The title of the film is apropos even today, given the Obama Administration's refusal to take an historic Carter solar panel from Bill McKibben and students from Unity College on Sept. 10. The gift was symbolic, but for those interested in Obama's promise of a clean energy future, the refusal of the gift is just another example of a road not taken.

The film trailer of "A Road Not Taken" is below. Watch, listen and then let Obama know how you feel (see some reactions to the White House refusal, below).

Bryan Walsh at stated, "given how unhappy many greens are feeling towards the White House, rebuffing McKibben and his friends doesn't look all that great—especially to the young, committed activists who helped form Obama's Army in 2008."

Here's what Amanda Nelson, a Unity College student who traveled with McKibben, told Andy Revkin:
I didn't expect I'd get to shake President Obama's hand, but it was really shocking to me to find out that they really didn't seem to care. They couldn't even give us a statement…. They did stress it's a slow process and I recognize that. What we did today maybe will help a year from now. But right now it didn't happen.
Personally, I think it is lame that the Obama administration refused the Unity College solar panel, which is not only a piece of history from former President Jimmy Carter's White House, but also a symbol of energy independence and a clean, renewable energy future.

But the future is now, because it was 31 years ago that Jimmy Carter said, "A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people."

It was a road not taken for Reagan, and now again for Obama.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bill McKibben on the Letterman Show

Environmentalist Bill McKibben appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and discussed climate change, putting solar back on the White House, and a Global Work Party on October 10, 2010 -- 10/10/10.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving Beyond the BP Oil Spill

Beyond BP
Restoring the gulf will take decades. But we can start getting off oil now.
By MICHAEL BRUNE, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

It looks a lot worse out on the water than it does on TV. The Gulf of Mexico is literally a sea of oil, with countless orange-brown waves of sludge washing into its beautiful salt marshes. We passed oil-drenched pelicans and dolphins, with no rescue crews anywhere nearby. It was heartbreaking.

If we can find ways to get from Point A to Point B without financing terrorism and cooking the planet, there's no reason we can't finally move—as BP's 2000 corporate rebranding effort put it—"beyond petroleum."

Here's the good news: When the Exxon Valdez ran aground 21 years ago, we didn't have the wealth of alternatives to oil that are available today. For example, we could save more than 25 percent of the oil that's extracted from the Gulf of Mexico if we used alternate energy sources for home heating and electricity production. We could save more than the total amount of oil produced in the gulf (or all the oil we import from the entire Persian Gulf) by moving freight from highways to railways and repowering commercial vehicles with cleaner fuels.

As individuals, there is much that we can and must do to cut oil consumption, starting with walking, biking, and riding transit whenever possible. The single most effective thing we can do as a country to get off oil, however, is to electrify transportation. The days of tinkering around with tiny increases in fuel economy should be long gone.

The full article is here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

BP Oil Spill: Is 75% of the Oil Really GONE?

An estimated 5 million barrels (~200 million gallons!) of oil gushed out of the Deepwater Horizon well. White House advisor on energy and climate change, Carol Browner, announced that "more than three-quarters of the oil is gone". This estimate was called overly optimistic, to say the least, by experts.

Here is how a pelican on the gulf coast reacted to the initial "good news" from the Administration in Washington about the BP oil spill cleanup:
[click image to enlarge]

But where did all of the unrecovered oil go?

Bill Lehr, a senior scientist in NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, later testified before the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in Washington that in reality about three-fourths of the oil is "still in the environment" -- dispersed or dissolved at or below the water surface, and evaporated into the air. Read more here.

Scientists funded by the National Science Foundation and affiliated with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have detected a plume of hydrocarbons at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Read more here.

Questions still remain about the possible long-term environmental effects of the oil that remains in the gulf.

We have only One Environment -- the water, air, land -- there is no backup plan. We have got to end our addiction to oil!

British Petroleum claimed originally that its initials stood for "Beyond Petroleum". According to an Editorial in the journal, Science, "Beyond Petroleum" could be the right slogan for the Policy Changes needed to end the U.S. national addiction to oil. That outcome will require a mix of solutions involving the Congress, the American public, businesses, the Administration, and environmental organizations — all driven by passionate conviction about the need for change. Read more here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Get Serious about Clean, Renewable Energy

President, after president, after president...for the past 40 years...has given lip service to the need for ending our addiction to fossil fuels.

We have seen what offshore oil drilling can do to damage the environment, the fishing industry and tourism. We have seen what dirty coal can do in terms of mountaintop removal, smog, acid rain, mercury pollution, and fly ash waste. We have watched the carbon pollution increase and the global average temperature rise.

Tell President Obama that it is time to get serious about shifting to clean, renewable energy.

Add your name to a letter to President Obama, and let him know that we stand with him for a strong renewable energy and climate bill to end our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels and to build America's clean energy future.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How BP Execs handle a Spill

The tragedy of the BP oil spill, and the multiple failures to contain and stop it, beg for some comic relief. Watch a video showing how BP executives deal with a different type of spill.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oil Spill: What are We Thinking?

Excerpts from the article:

Missing the real drama of the Deepwater Horizon blowout

By Bill McKibben

Let’s think about the stories that are suggested by this trouble.

One has something to do with Peak Oil. BP has gone to all this trouble for a well that taps into what they now think may be 100 million barrels of oil. And that’s…5 days supply for the U.S? Does that give you any sense of the precariousness of the arrangements undergirding our economy right at the moment?

Another -- even more important -- has to do with global warming. Let’s assume that the oil from the Deepwater Horizon made it safely onshore and was refined and then burned in the gas tank of your car. What then? Well, the CO2 in the atmosphere would be doing at least as much damage as the oil spreading across the Gulf.

People are sad and bitter only in part because they see those pelicans oiled; mostly, they sense correctly that our leaders have yet to deal with what is clearly the biggest problem we face, the transition off of fossil fuel.

How out of balance with the natural world are we? And what would it require to get back in balance?

BP’s great victory will come if it need merely confess to technical overreach and pay a few billion in fines -- if that happens, it can get back to making serious money, and the planet can get back to burning.

Editorial Cartoon by Tom Toles:
Are we out of our minds?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oil Spill: Obama's chance to Lead on Energy

Mr. President, lead now on fossil fuels
The gulf oil spill is Obama's chance to take bold steps on climate change.
By Bill McKibben

Which one is the real Obama? Has he really been transformed by the oil spill in the gulf, or is he merely trying to ride out the public reaction with stronger words? I think the answer is as murky as the water off Mobile. We don't know because so far it's all words; the closest he's come to specifics is that pledge that we won't be off oil in a decade.

We need someone to stand up and tell it the way it is, and in language so compelling and dramatic it sets us on a new path.

Read the full article here.

Brown Pelican on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP photo)

Veterans for Clean American Power

Cut our dependence on oil -- switch to Clean, American Power.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Obama's Crude Awakening

US set to hit BP retrospectively with increased fines
The White House has expressed its frustration at the lack of progress on stopping the Gulf of Mexico oil leak and its intention to introduce retrospective legislation to lift the cap on compensation that BP could be liable to pay -- from millions to Billions of dollars. This comes as bosses from BP and other companies involved in the spill have been grilled by US lawmakers. Watch a short BBC News video report, ending with a clip at the White House showing 'Obama’s Crude Awakening'.

Obama’s Crude Awakening at the White House
by Phil Aroneanu
We marched to the White House to send Obama a message that fossil fuels are not worth the cost in lives and livelihoods, and that this moment must be a crude awakening for our politicians: It’s time for President Obama to lead on clean energy, to end offshore drilling and to solve the climate crisis.
Read more in the article here.

Obama 'angry and frustrated' by oil leak

President Obama has criticised what he called the "ridiculous spectacle" of oil companies blaming each other for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.Three weeks after the disaster began, some experts are warning that the quantity of oil released, may be many times larger than current estimates. BP insists it's doing everything it can. Watch a short BBC News video report showing that Obama is beginning to stir from his oil-lobby-induced sleep, but he's still not quite awake.

Take Action at Crude Awakening Events

Starting on May 20th -- the one-month anniversary of the disaster -- Energy Action Coalition is kicking off events across the country.
Sign up to host a Crude Awakening event in your community.

These events are simple and important. All it takes is everyday citizens out on street corners, at symbolic locations, or in front of our elected officials offices to get the message across.

Oil Spill: Are we Doomed to Repeat it?

Never again will we take the environment for granted or abuse it. Never again will we be held hostage to foreign oil. The words have been repeated, president after president, oil spill after oil spill, explosion after explosion, for four decades.

Rachel Maddow, reporting from Louisiana, provides an excellent summary looking at present and past oil spills. She poses the question: Are we Doomed to Repeat it?

Oill Spill: Environmental Impacts

[Click image to enlarge]

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Steven Colbert on the BP Oil Spill

Steven Colbert illustrates methods used to try to stop the BP Oil Spill.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
BP's Undersea Dome

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil Spill: Look, Learn and Change

I recently posted photos of the tragedy at the offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico and some of the initial impacts of oil spill on the environment.

The catastrophic oil spill is something that all can see. It's visibility offers an opportunity for change, as described in The NY Times opinion article entitled "Drilling, Disaster, Denial". Some excerpts appear below:
Environmentalism began as a response to pollution that everyone could see. The spill in the gulf recalls the 1969 blowout that coated the beaches of Santa Barbara in oil. But 1969 was also the year the Cuyahoga River, which flows through Cleveland, caught fire. Meanwhile, Lake Erie was widely declared “dead,” its waters contaminated by algal blooms. And major U.S. cities — especially, but by no means only, Los Angeles — were often cloaked in thick, acrid smog.

It wasn’t that hard, under the circumstances, to mobilize political support for action. The Environmental Protection Agency was founded, the Clean Water Act was enacted, and America began making headway against its most visible environmental problems.

Greenhouse gases pose a greater threat than smog or burning rivers ever did. But it’s hard to get the public focused on a form of pollution that’s invisible, and whose effects unfold over decades rather than days.

Then came the gulf disaster. Suddenly, environmental destruction was photogenic again.

In particular, President Obama needs to seize the moment; he needs to take on the “Drill, baby, drill” crowd, telling America that courting irreversible environmental disaster for the sake of a few barrels of oil, an amount that will hardly affect our dependence on imports, is a terrible bargain.

The catastrophe in the gulf offers an opportunity, a chance to recapture some of the spirit of the original Earth Day. And if that happens, some good may yet come of this ecological nightmare.
The full text of the article is here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

BP Oil Spill - Map & Editorial Cartoons

Map of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and editorial cartoons, each worth a thousand words, by Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News.

[Click image to enlarge]

Photos: Costs of BP Oil Spill

The Costs of the BP Oil Spill - human lives, water pollution, air pollution, wildlife, fishing industry, tourism. Monetary estimates for cleanup are pegged at more than $4.6 Billion. Clean Energy NOW!

[Click image to enlarge]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Live Video: Climate Rally on D.C. Mall

Earth Day 2010


National Mall, Washington DC

Sunday, April 25, 11am-7pm



Live Streaming VIDEO

The United States has failed to enact a comprehensive climate bill. It is time to stop protecting polluters and enact comprehensive climate legislation that will create American jobs, cap carbon emissions and secure our nation’s future.

On Sunday, April 25, Earth Day Network will organize a massive climate rally on The National Mall to demand that Congress pass strong legislation.

NOTABLE SPEAKERS include Reverend Jesse Jackson, international coordinator Earth Day 2010, Denis Hayes, Waterkeeper Alliance president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., film director, James Cameron, AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, Green for All director, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Olympic gold medalist, Billy Demong, producer, Trudie Styler, author, Margaret Atwood, NFL player and television personality, Dhani Jones, environmental photographer Sebastian Copeland and MANY MORE.

LIVE MUSIC from Sting, John Legend, The Roots, Jimmy Cliff, Passion Pit, Bob Weir, Willie Colón, Joss Stone, Robert Randolph, Patrick Stump, Mavis Staples, Booker T, Honor Society and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger

Click Link to see the LIVE VIDEO STREAM brought to you by

Photo courtesy of LCVoters

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Make EVERY Day, Earth Day!


EVERY Day should be EARTH DAY!

In 1970, the first Earth Day’s original organizers made “the environment” a voting issue. A few weeks after the election — despite the furious opposition of the coal, oil, electric utility, automobile, and steel industries — the Senate version of the 1970 Clean Air Act, passed unanimously and it was later adopted by the House on a voice vote.

Denis Hayes, national coordinator for the first Earth Day in 1970, is the international chair of Earth Day 2010. He thinks that the environmental movement sometimes projects a vague image about what it stands for and that the only way Congress will act intelligently and boldly on climate change is if we give it no choice. Learn more by reading his article, "Turning up the heat on climate".

Sunday, April 25th - Earth Day Network and partner organizations will organize a massive climate rally on The National Mall in Washington D.C. to demand that Congress pass a strong climate bill in 2010. To learn more, and to Sign the Earth Day 2010 Climate Declaration demanding a comprehensive climate bill from Congress, Click Here.

President Obama marked the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in a Video. To watch the Video, Click Here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Concentrated Solar Power is HOT!

The Sun's free, clean, renewable energy can be used in a variety of ways to satisfy our needs for power. Solar electric power can be generated using photovoltaic cells. Solar water heaters can be used on rooftops to generate hot water for home use. But what is becoming really hot, in more ways than one, is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), which can raise the temperature of fluids to 400 degrees Celsius, four-times higher than the boiling point of water. The super-hot fluid can be used to convert water to steam for driving turbines that generate electricity.

The CSP technique concentrates solar radiation using parabolic mirrors to obtain higher temperatures. This reduces the plant's collector size and land use, thereby reducing the environmental impacts of the power plant and its cost. The curved mirrors reflect solar radiation onto a glass tube containing a fluid running the length of the parabolic trough positioned at the focal point of the reflectors. The trough tilts east to west to track the sun so that the direct radiation remains focused on the fluid-filled tube.

But how can the CSP technique generate power at night or when it becomes cloudy during the day? A New York company in Rochester, Bell Independent Power Corp., is a developer of Thermal Storage Technology for CSP. They have chosen the University of Arizona Tech Park as the site of a new state of the art 5-MW solar plant with a Thermal Storage System, said to be the first of its kind in the world.

The role of the Arizona CSP facility is to demonstrate Bell Independent Power Corp.’s proprietary Thermal Storage System and show how its improved efficiency can reduce the cost of producing solar power. Bell's Thermal Storage System will be able to store the sun’s heat for several hours, allowing the CSP plant to generate power after sunset or when clouds move in. It will also provide sufficient energy for full plant start-up every morning, replacing the need for natural gas. If the demonstration is successful, Thermal Storage at this facility will lead to its use on large scale facilities.

The projected cost of the facility is $32 million and it will use 45 acres of parabolic mirrors to capture the solar energy. Bell Independent Power Corp. will develop, finance, own and operate the plant. Permitting has begun and, with the help of economic development incentives, the plant will begin providing power to Tucson Electric Power customers in May 2011. The plant’s construction will employ 75 workers and 7 full time positions will be established for the operation of the facility. The CSP plant and storage system is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 1,500 typical Tucson homes while offsetting more than 16,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Read more here and visit Rochester's Bell Independent Power here.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Senate: Clean Energy Jobs Bill

Question during the Great Depression: Brother, can you spare a dime? Question during the current recession: Senator, do you have a spine?

A popular song from the era of the Great Depression is entitled "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?". It's a sad song about the people who helped build our nation's railroads and skyscrapers. These people also fought for our country in World War I to provide national security for their families. Suddenly, they found themselves out of work, bankrupt and abandoned - waiting in bread lines and at soup kitchens for food.

We are not in such dire straits, at least not yet. The people of our country certainly do not want to plunge from a recession into a depression. Government officials would agree in words, but are falling short in deeds. It will take much more than bailouts and recovery money.

In addition to an economic crisis, we are confronted at the same time with an energy crisis, an environmental crisis, and a national security crisis. The U.S. Senate can tackle these crises by enacting a clean energy bill that will spark innovation, create new jobs and provide energy security as well as help clean up our air and sustain our environment. This will require courage and the will to act. So we ask the question, Senator, do you have a spine?

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican representing South Carolina, has a spine! He said, “We are more dependent on foreign oil today than after 9/11. That is political malpractice, and every member of Congress is responsible.” He proposes putting a price on carbon, starting with a carbon tax, in order to move industries to invest in new clean energy products and consumers to buy them. “Cap-and-trade as we know it is dead, but the issue of cleaning up the air and energy independence should not die — and you will never have energy independence without pricing carbon”, he stated in an Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman in today's NY Times. Graham is now working on a new clean energy bill along with Democrat John Kerry and Independent Joseph Lieberman.

Write to your Senators and ask -- when it comes to enacting legislation in support of clean energy, a sustainable environment, new jobs, energy independence and national security -- Senator, do you have a spine?

If our government does not act, what does our future hold... another depression? Most people alive today did not live through the Great Depression, and so have little idea what it was really like. Yip Harburg did. To get a feeling what it was like, listen to some of Harburg's thoughts about the Great Depression, as well as his 1932 song "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?", via NPR online.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Climate Change: Dealing with Deniers

The recent snow storms in the Washington DC area brought out droves of global warming deniers who mocked those that accept the scientific evidence for global warming and climate change. Thinking people know that despite the cold temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere (where it is winter), it is hot in the Southern Hemisphere (where it is summer), and so it is not unreasonable that on average the global temperature could be warming despite the unusual snow storms in DC. In fact, warming elsewhere in the world could be a contributor (see below). Also, the day to day variations in weather can not predict the multi-year trends that define climate change. But how to deal with deniers who are definitely not thinking along the same lines?

Below are examples of how experts in different fields view weather, global warming and climate change:

Meteorologist: Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground -- "It is quite possible that the dice have been loaded in favor of more intense Nor'easters for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, thanks to the higher levels of moisture present in the air due to warmer global temperatures."

Scientist: Dr. Joe Romm, Climate Progress -- "An amazing, though clearly little-known, scientific fact: We get more snow storms in warm years!"

Environmentalist: Bill McKibben, -- "Washington's snowstorms, brought to you by global warming"

President: Barack Obama addresses climate change and weather in this Video.

The Military: Military leaders address the national security threats of climate change in this Video. See also related information about the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate.

Climate Warrior: WARNING: not for the faint of heart!
Video with edgy humor.

Friday, February 12, 2010

pHarmony: Matching Polluters & Politicians

So you may have heard of eHarmony, a matchmaking site for singles. But what about pHarmony, the matchmaking site for polluters, industry lobbyists, and politicians! Check out this video: [mobile link is here]

To find polluters and politician soulmates on pHarmony, click here.

pHarmony is a project of PolluterWatch and is sponsored by Greenpeace.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Coal Humor

What if you could power an entire city for $100? In a world of ever changing climates, isn't nice to know that one thing stays the same? Coal -- cheap, abundant, clean...errrr cheap. [mobile link is here]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Colbert on Mountaintop Removal Mining

Dr. Margaret Palmer, lead author of the Science journal paper on mountaintop removal coal mining described in the post below, was brave enough to appear on the Colbert Report TV show. Watch the video here:
Coal Comfort - Margaret Palmer

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Science: Stop Mountaintop Mining Permits

Science article cites extensive evidence of permanent environmental damage and risks to human health

A group of the nation's leading environmental scientists are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a moratorium on all new mountaintop mining permits. In a Policy Forum article published in the journal Science (January 8, 2010), they argue that peer-reviewed research unequivocally documents irreversible environmental impacts from mountaintop mining which also exposes local residents to a higher risk of serious health problems.

In mountaintop mining, upper elevation forests are cleared and stripped of topsoil, and explosives are used to break up rocks in order to access coal buried below. Much of this rock is pushed into adjacent valleys where it buries and obliterates streams. Mountaintop mining with valley fills (MTM/VF) is widespread throughout eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and southwestern Virginia.

The practice destroys extensive tracts of deciduous forests and buries small streams that play essential roles in the overall health of entire watersheds. Waterborne contaminants enter streams that remain below valley fills and can be transported great distances into larger bodies of water.

At the conclusion of the article in Science, the authors argue that regulators [EPA] should no longer ignore rigorous science:
Mining permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for losses. Considering environmental impacts of MTM/VF, in combination with evidence that the health of people living in surface-mining regions of the central Appalachians may be compromised by mining activities, we conclude that MTM/VF permits should not be granted unless new methods can be subjected to rigorous peer-review and shown to remedy these problems.
A press release about the Science article is here.

The Sierra Club made a Video of Kentucky native Ashley Judd speaking out against mountaintop removal. Watch The Sierra Club video below:


See also the post below for additional information on Mountaintop Removal Mining.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Future of Energy" Smack Down

Clean Energy


Dirty Coal

Robert "The Riverkeeper" Kennedy


Don "Fill the Streams with Mountaintops" Blankenship

Live Webcast from West Virginia
January 21 at 6:15pm

Be THERE! Click Here

Join the fight for Clean Energy

and Clean Water



JPMorgan Chase is the largest investor in Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, which involves clear-cutting forests, blowing the tops off of mountains, and then dumping the debris into stream-beds.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Clean Energy Jobs to Power America

Obama pushes for green jobs program
WASHINGTON — After a disappointing new unemployment report, President Obama on Friday pushed for an expanded government program that he said would help create tens of thousands of new clean-technology jobs.

“It’s clear why such an effort is so important. Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future, jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” Obama said at the White House.

Obama announced the awarding of $2.3 billion in tax credits — to be paid for from last year’s $787 stimulus package — that he said would create some 17,000 “green” jobs. The money will go to projects including solar, wind and energy management.

The president also called for an additional $5 billion in spending for clean energy manufacturing, an idea being promoted by Vice President Biden.

Such initiatives are “an important step toward meeting the goal I’ve set of doubling the amount of renewable power we use in the next three years with wind turbines and solar panels built right here in the U. S. of A.,” Obama said.

He said more than 180 projects in more than 40 states would receive the tax credits.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” Obama said.
Read the full AP report here.

183 projects, 43 states, Tens of Thousands of High Quality Clean Energy Jobs
- by Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate
As the President has stated before, the country that leads the way in harnessing clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. It’s no surprise that countries around the world are taking charge in this effort. China is making record investments in energy efficiency. American innovation pioneered solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it.
Check out the map below to see where many of the tomorrow’s clean energy jobs will be created and read the full blog post here. Report Predicts Offshore Wind Boom
A report published earlier this month by Emerging Energy Research, a consulting firm tracking emerging technologies in global energy markets, predicts that the $10 billion offshore wind energy market will surge to $30 billion over the next decade.

The report predicts that in the next five years, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium will be prime markets. Then, from 2014 to 2020, the United States, China and Korea will follow.

In the United States, offshore wind energy will be embraced once policy makers realize how powerful it is, said Keith Hays, the research director of wind energy at Emerging Energy Research.
Read the full report here.

As Panels Get Better and Cheaper, PVs are Poised for Their Day in the Sun
For years, it was assumed that a typical PV [photovoltaic] lasted 20 years, and financing programs and payback calculations for PV-generated electricity were based on the two-decade lifespan. But recent tests conducted by the Energy Institute -- where PVs are put through a speeded-up aging process via exposure to extremes of heat, cold, and humidity -- have shown that the panels can last much longer.

The tests indicated that over 90 percent of the panels on the market 10 years ago still performed well after 30 years, despite a small drop in performance. And, as Heinz Ossenbrink of the EU Energy Institute noted, 40-year panels are on the way.

So is PV making a big move, so to speak, and will it only be in Europe?
Read the full report here.