In the next several years we’re going to start seeing a lot more fully electric vehicles on the roads than we do today. The price of oil isn’t going to stay low forever, and car companies will soon be producing vehicles that are more versatile than the few electrics on the road today. Ranges will increase, charging times will drop, and van, crossover, and SUV models with four-wheel drive will be designed and brought to market. Continue reading →
I know I’m going to get asked why I spent over 30k (before all the crazy tax rebates) on a car that only goes 80 miles. My father especially will ask at some point, and he’s already called it a “toy” car.
He’s not entirely wrong, either. I’m in my 40s now, and it’s actually quite a bit of fun to drive around in a car that can go from 0 to 60 in just a tad over 6 seconds. I’ve never had a car that has this kind of acceleration. Continue reading →
In case you haven’t heard, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is dead, done in by the nefarious failure to check a single reference in a 3000 page report. Or rather, that’s what climate disruption deniers want you to think. Here’s what’s really going on.
Back in 2007, Working Group 2 (WG2) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) put together a large list of what climate disruption was likely to impact around the world. One of the impacts was reduced availability of fresh water due to rapidly melting glaciers around the world, and especially in the Himalayas. One of the specific claims was that all Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, an amazingly and likely unrealistically fast rate of melting. After an Indian government minister questioned this claim, scientists looked into it and found that the date was incorrect and that internal procedures for vetting references weren’t followed in this particular case. As as result, the IPCC has issued a formal statement of apology for the error.
And if this were about any other topic except climate disruption, that would be the end of it. Continue reading →
I have no doubt that the climate is changing, nor that it will continue to change. It seems reasonably well established that the Earth has gone through extreme climate swings in the past; on the basis of that i predict that it will do so again. Maybe humans are not responsible for climate change, and the planet would be warming in any case as it sheds the final remnants of the last ice age. Maybe it is entirely our fault. The truth usually falls between the two extremes. I do not believe that humans have the power to destroy the Earth or life. Suggesting that we do strikes me as the height of egocentricity: both preceded us by unimaginable lengths of time and will survive us for just as long. We do, however, have the power to destroy ourselves and most of the forms of life we know.
Earlier this week, for the first time in at least eight years, I revisited one of my favorite places on the Earth that I’ve yet experienced. It’s a snowmelt-filled, glacier-carved alpine lake just below treeline in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s surrounded by tall cliffs and you have to scramble over boulders to get to it (something that my wife didn’t exactly appreciate when I tried to show it to her). Sure, it’s close to one of the favorite places for tourists in the park, but most of the time I don’t mind a few other people so long as they’re being polite and not too noisy, and the people eating lunch around the lake were generally OK.
This lake and I go way back, back to when I abandoned my Catholicism in favor of a neo-paganism of my own creation. It helped me find myself and a new spirituality in a period of my life when so many things were changing that it felt like the best I could do is hang on. And I feel that it was this lake that saved my life one very, very strange night in a strange town in central Pennsylvania.
I feel a spiritual connection to this lake, like I can feel its presence with me when I concentrate.
When I arrived at the lake, though, I discovered something that saddens me. Eight years ago the lake looked like liquid glass it was so pristine and clear. But yesterday it was green. Continue reading →
When studies look at the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by transportation, the focus is nearly always on the emissions created in fuel combustion – gasoline and diesel for cars and trucks, bunker fuels for maritime vessels, jet fuel for aircraft, and so on. One excellent example of this kind of study is the Getting There Greener study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The UCS study shows that travel by bus emits the least carbon at all distances traveled and for one, two, or four travelers. Similarly, the study found that flying first class was almost always the worst option, with driving a typical SUV any appreciable distance coming in a close second.
A truly frightening video from ground zero of the coal ash catastrophe
The New York Times reports today that the coal sludge that surged out of a breached Tennessee Valley Authority impoundment in Roane County was actually three times larger than previously estimated. The updated total is 5.4 million cubic yards, “or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep,” Times reporter Shaila Dewan reports.
The discrepancy casts doubt on the credibility of assurances from the Tennessee Valley Authority that the coal combustion waste from its Kingston Fossil Plant poses little risk to residents of the area. (Several days ago, one TVA official told the Associated Press that the waste “consists of inert material not harmful to the environment.”)
In fact, evidence has been gathering for years that the waste dumps pose a very serious risk to human health and the environment. Continue reading →
UPDATE: Greenpeace sent a photographer to the area, and while the photographer was prevented from getting close, he got some good shots here. Also, both CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News devoted primetime to this “sludgeslide” (below the cut). And finally, frontpage NYTimes tomorrow AM will have this article on the ashslide: Coal Ash Spill Revives Issue of Its Hazards.
The Kingston Steam Plant ashslide is already being called the southeast’s worst environmental disaster by some environmentalists and journalists. It appears that some of the national media outlets are finally picking up the story, although this disaster remains woefully undercovered.
CNN has finally picked up the story (last updated around 6 AM MST) with interviews of two Appalachian environmentalists, Chandra Taylor of the Southern Environmental Law Center and Dave Cooper of the Mountaintop Removal Road Show.
Although video from the scene shows dead fish on the banks of the tributary, he said that “in terms of toxicity, until an analysis comes in, you can’t call it toxic.”
That coal is dirty is hardly a surprise to anyone who’s read about coal. Mining coal destroys mountaintops and towns as surely as it does the lives of the miners themselves. Burning coal emits more radioactivity than nuclear reactors do even when they have unexpected coolant releases. And the sulfur, mercury, and nitrogen oxides that exit the smokestacks of coal plants cause acid rain and heavy metal toxicity downwind of every coal plant that exists. And yet the coal mining industry and utilities are engaged in a public relations campaign to convince the world that coal can be clean. Last week I was pointed to two new sites that call out “clean coal” boosters: Coal is Clean and Coal is Dirty. Continue reading →