Imagine how inept I seemed to myself having presented an entire Zoom video sermon to my Unitarian Universalist fellowship in Grants Pass, Oregon, only to…
Why do this? I continue to gather news that tells of those tools and
trends that affect our global situation. While some don’t care about new
technologies and policies, I think both are crucial in rescuing us from the
plight of global warming and similar problems for life on earth, primarily for humans, but for plants and animals too. Positive tools and trends are even more important and are included here along with the blunders and bummers.
I used to do these reports at my radio show at KSKQ. But the Morning
Show format changed and I pulled away. I may start a different show, The
Liberal Hour, at which I would continue to contribute these reports. Or
I may take on the Morning Show again.
(Note: WordPress, which is the background publisher of this website,
now uses Gutenberg to automatically insert photos and background story links to what I’ve gathered. I appreciate this easy, automatic service. So
far, all their photo choices, etc., have worked out. Just know it isn’t
me putting in anything other than my paraphrased summary of each story.)
And here’s what I found in November, 2018:
Good Earthkeeping Tools and Trends
Nov. 6 to 27, 2018
An analysis of recent headlines and stories about the electric car company Tesla shows many news sources dwell on FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt – but noted it may have helped bring more positive reporting in the second half of October. Whereas the month started out with 130 negative headlines to 13 positive ones, it ended up slightly less bad, with 81 negative and 39 positive. Some publishers we tend to believe were excessively negative – like the NYT, Wired, MSNBC, and even the Guardian – while for some others, like Fox, the reporting depended on the correspondent reporting. Only the BBC and the media-savvy company BGR tilted positive. Meanwhile, Tesla is utterly successful in making cars their owners love and in transforming the future of transport. This analysis is open to researchers and other journalists to check.
China will install another 40 GW of solar by the end of this year. This is slightly down from initial projections due to a slowing of their subsidy policy.
Ahead of former plans by 50%, China now is raising its cumulative expected total for the year 2020, up from 200 GW to as much as 270 GW.
An Indiana utility is phasing out coal, projected to save customers $4B by 2030. Coal use will drop from 65% to 15% by 2023 and reach 0% by 2028. Solar, wind, efficiency and management will supply the difference.
The World Bank will no longer fund upstream oil and gas projects and will stop funding all new coal plants except in rare circumstances with no alternatives.
Walden, Colorado is a very small town (0.3 square miles) now spending $10,000 a month for electricity to treat waste water. They are putting solar panels on a large pond, expecting it to pay for itself in 10 years. The panels will have the added advantage of preventing evaporation at the high 8000 foot elevation.
The Supreme Court, having temporarily halted Climate Kids lawsuit, has now allowed it to proceed. The federal government could try again in the 9th District court. The Oregon children are suing the government, claiming it isn’t doing enough to protect their futures from the ravages of global warming.
While Tesla is building the EV world from the top down, LSEVs are expected to be even better at changing the world’s driving habits. Low Speed EVs are very small, basic cars using lead-acid batteries and able to travel of speeds only up to 45 MPH. China, India, and other high-volume, low-income needs will adopt these practical and inexpensive vehicles.
When delivery service DHL sought electric delivery vans from VW, they were turned down. So they are building 10,000 of their own. Now they’ve teamed up with Ford in Europe to develop an additional 3,500 larger electric vans, each of which will have a 120 mile range and will each save 1900 liters of fuel and 5 tons of co2 yearly.
China is instituting a sort-of cap and trade system for car manufacturers, seeking 20% of new cars be electrics, plug-in hybrids, or fuel cell-driven. Meanwhile, U.S. auto makers are trying to battle EPA clean-air requirements to hang on to gas/diesel. China, with some 22 million cars produced there a year, is also positioning itself to be the world’s top EV producer.
In response to complaints about exotic materials sourced by unethical means going into our smartphones, the Fairphone was launched in 2013. It accomplishes two things. All sourcing of materials (gold, cobalt, etc.) will be purchased along ethical guidelines (no slave labor, less environmental impact). The Fairphone will also be constructed to be easily opened, repaired, and upgraded without requiring a whole new phone. Sustainable ethics guide the phone’s build.
It’s late, but ExxonMobil has stopped funding ALEC, the right-wing attack group funded by the Koch brothers along with the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, and other conservative and reactionary organizations. Other major oil companies (BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Conoco Phillips) have already dropped ALEC. Exxon had given them $1.8M, a small part of the $34.6M they have spent deceiving the public about the problem of climate change.
Tesla’s second gigafactory, located in Buffalo, N.Y., is finally creating solar roof tiles. (Musk and others had been busy getting their Model 3 car line up to speed.) Already, prices are falling 10-20% as manufacturing techniques improve. They were to have 500 employees by now as part of the $750M tax advantage they secured, but have exceeded that by 300 so far. That job number is expected to grow to 1,460 by 2020 and to 5,000 within 10 years. At scale, such roofing innovation could massively change our sunny rooftops from warding off the sunlight to gathering it cleanly and quietly, putting it to good use powering our homes, businesses, and cars.
Tesla is also hinting at adding their version of an electric bike to the rapidly growing field. Such companies as GM, Ducati, and Yamaha are also jumping in. Yamaha has sold 2 million e-bikes worldwide and has manufactured another 4 million drive units.
An article in Nature Communications (based on studies by universities in Melbourne and Potsdam) calculates that if the voluntary measures agreed to by most companies in the Paris Accords continue on as-is we will reach and exceed a 5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature by 2100 – a death sentence for most of our ecosystem and us. This forecast is more alarming than the recent 12-year warning of the conservative IPCC. As-is, activities such as in China, Russia and Canada would raise it the full 5 degrees, the U.S.’s practices would raise it 4, Europe’s would raise it 3, and India’s would raise it 2 degrees. In short, unless we rapidly change what we’re doing with the old technology of burning fossil fuels (and other such drivers, such as heavy meat consumption) and create ways to draw down carbon from our skies, we’re committing collective suicide. Hiding our heads in the sand about this won’t fix it, especially if that sand is near where the ocean is rising – the acidified, dying ocean.
Residents of Aurora, Colorado can avail themselves of numerous rebates and credits for a new electric Nissan Leaf, bringing the $34,000 cost down to about $16,000. This assumes the buyer owes enough taxes to take the $7,500 federal credit.
Colorado is the 13th state to sign-on to the California auto emissions standards, plus it is giving purchasers of EVs a $5000 rebate (better than a tax credit). This means about 1/3rd of all cars sold in the U.S. will have to meet clean air standards, exactly what big oil and old auto companies didn’t want.
EV Ashland (a working partnership between GEOS and SOHEVA) has persuaded the city to provide up to $1000 for a limited number of persons, businesses, and non-profits wishing to purchase a new or used electric vehicle intended for use here in the Ashland area. The incentive is to be included on top of other state ($1500-2500) and federal subsidies and tax credits ($2500 – 7500). The pool of used and new cars range from $7000 to $50,000 before subsidies. Their website describes the program’s advantages and application process in clear terms.
https://uploads.strikinglycdn.com/files/526782cb-64a0-459a-ba73-7d036ff44c1b/EVA%20Flyer-Businesses.pdf (a flier and list of cars)
Engineers at MIT have flown an airplane with no moving parts. It also is silent. The flimsy prototype uses a high voltage positive charge from a wire in front of an airfoil which is attracted to a high voltage negative charge on the airfoil. The flow creates an ionic wind that silently propels the plane. This initial success has many implications for hybrid aircraft and for less noisy ones.
A scheme to place aerosols high in the air to reflect off sunlight as a way of balancing global warming is being met with caution and ridicule. That sort of geoengineering is as problem-prone as the geoengineering of using fossil fuels.
Elon Musk launched the first two of an eventual 4,425 satellites in space intended to provide broadband Internet service at 1 Gbps service to the entire globe by 2024. The FCC has given its approval, assuming there is a workable deorbiting plan in place. Once 800 of the Starlink satellites (each weighing 850 pounds) in orbit (each covering about 650 square miles on the ground) the system will be open. The operating speed will be about 200 times faster than current averages.
GM has announced it is closing three factories and laying off 15000 workers. It is also dropping the Volt plug-in hybrid. This feels like another round of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” except they still will create the Bolt, a BEV. They intend to make and push big ICE cars and SUVs, claiming the public wants them, probably influenced by their advertising only them. What becomes of the abandoned factories, workers, and their communities? Taxpayers may have to rescue them. The Trump tax cuts to big industries and the already rich sure didn’t help here.