Category Archives: Climate Change

California ecological collapse on the fast track

It is said that the name “California” came from the Spanish after a Greek adopted legend about an island fortress populated by “beautiful Amazon women warriors whom were gifted in the use of golden tools and weapons.”  Early European “explorers” described the place as having fog shrouded and rugged coastlines, vast mountains, deep valleys, desserts, and lakes. They dreamed and schemed about how to conquer the wilderness. Invasion and colonization of the west coast of the United States by Europeans began in earnest about 500 years ago. They did not know or care that they were preceded by at least 250 generations of people who were there first. People that had lived in relative harmony with the natural world and each other–Karok, Maidu, Cahuilleno, Mohave, Yo Semite, Paiute,  Tule–were now put under the colonial guns. The wilderness that supported all life was on the road to evisceration.

The Mother of the Forest, -Mother Tree of Calaveras County- Cut down for lumber 1902.  Height 300 plus feet. circumference 78 feet, bark off. Photo C.L. Pond, Buffalo, New York circa 1870-1880)

The Mother of the Forest, Mother Tree of Calaveras County, cut down for lumber 1902. Height 300+’. Circumference 78 feet, bark off. Photo C.L. Pond, Buffalo, New York (circa 1870-1880)

There was once a vast waterbody, Lake Tulare, located in the Central Valley. It was the largest freshwater lake in North America outside of the Great Lakes. At one point, pre-contact with Europeans, it is thought that 70,000 human beings lived along this beautiful productive lake. Around this lake and stretching to the coast, vast groves of Giant Sequoia and Coastal Redwoods stood as sentinels that helped to balance the atmosphere and the ecosystem in ways that we are only just learning about in 2014.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Forests, Indigenous Peoples

Colorado Biomass = Clearcut=False Solutions to Climate Change

It is difficult to imagine that in 2014 we are still facing clearcut  strategies for our rapidly disappearing forested lands. Biomass is certainly a false solution to climate change. From the Summit County Colorado Summit Daily

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Is biomass all its cut up to be? 

Howard Brown    17 October 2014    Summit Daily

One possible reason for sticking to the ill-advised Ophir Mountain and other clear-cutting plans is that the clear-cut trees would go to the biomass power plant in Gypsum. Biomass power is renewable energy. It wouldn’t justify destroying Summit County’s wonderful forests and trails, but biomass is green energy right? Maybe not.

Is biomass power a good renewable energy source that we should promote here in Colorado? To answer this, we need to back up and look at where biomass energy comes from. As with most of our energy sources, it starts with energy from the sun. In photosynthesis, plants use solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide to carbohydrates. Energy is stored in the carbon-hydrogen bonds. (Geologic pressure over time strips the oxygen from plant material to create hydrocarbon fossil fuels.) When animals metabolize carbohydrates, or when plant or fossil fuel material combusts (burns), that energy is released as oxygen combined with the material, returning to the lower-energy carbon-oxygen and hydrogen-oxygen bonds of carbon dioxide and water.

The problem with fuels such as coal and wood is that they are solids. The combustion process requires direct contact between oxygen molecules and molecules of the fuel. For gaseous fuels such as natural gas, that is very easy, individual oxygen molecules readily mix directly with individual methane molecules. For liquid fuels such as petroleum products, vegetable oil or ethanol, that mixing is more difficult and the resulting combustion less efficient. With solid fuels, however, it is exceedingly difficult for individual oxygen molecules to contact individual fuel molecules, so the combustion process is incomplete and far less efficient.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Uncategorized

Don’t like Coal, how about Nukes?

A cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of stopping fossil fuels without addressing the problem of overconsumption and demand for energy.  And yet another example of why we need to fundamentally address the system driving ecological destruction and climate change and not just promote bandaids.

In Tennessee, Time Comes for a Nuclear Plant Four Decades in the Making



Cooling towers rise above two adjacent nuclear reactors, Watts Barr 1 and 2. Construction on the second was suspended in 1988 and resumed in 2007. CreditShawn Poynter for The New York Times 

SPRING CITY, Tenn. — When the Tennessee Valley Authority first ordered Watts Bar 2, the nuclear reactor now approaching completion here, demand for electricity was growing at 7 percent a year and coal supplies were uncertain. The mercury, soot and acid rain that coal produced were simply accepted as the way things were, and many of the people who now worry about global warming had not yet been born.

But that was 1970. Today nearly all of that is reversed as Watts Bar 2, the nuclear industry’s version of a time traveler, prepares to begin operations. Now there is barely any growth in electricity demand, and plenty of coal, but most aging coal-burning plants need expensive cleaning or replacement. Thus the reactor, the T.V.A. reasons, is arriving at an opportune moment, even if almost every projection made over the last 44 years has proved wrong. With halting progress amid changing projections, construction has taken longer than that for the Panama Canal or the Great Pyramid of Cheops.


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Filed under Climate Change, Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Nuclear power, Uncategorized

Brazil to Build Huge Biomass Plant

BOLT Energias has secured the 150 MW Campo Grande biomass power plant.  The facility will be operational in 2017, and will be fueled with woody biomass. This will be Brazil’s largest biomass plant. Areva has already constructed 95 biomass plants globally with a total installed capacity of over 2,500MW.

French Energy Firm Areva will build the BOLT Energias 150MW Campo Grande biomass plant.

French Energy Firm Areva will build the BOLT Energias 150MW Campo Grande biomass plant.

 Areva secures contract to build Brazil’s largest biomass power plant

Clean Technology Business Review (CBTR)  15 October 2014

French energy firm Areva has secured a contract to build the 150MW Campo Grande biomass power plant for Brazilian utility BOLT Energias.

Planned to be built in the northeastern state of Bahia, the Campo Grande plant is claimed to be the largest biomass facility in Brazil.

The contract requires Areva to deliver engineering, procurement and construction services for the plant, which will feature three 50MW modules.

The facility, which is expected to commence operations in 2017, will be fueled with woody biomass.

Areva Renewables CEO Louis-François Durret said: “Awarded as part of the first biomass plant project undertaken in Brazil in recent years, this success illustrates BOLT Energias’ recognition of AREVA’s knowledge in construction and technological expertise.

“This contract will mark the first step of a successful collaboration with our Brazilian partner.”

Areva has already constructed 95 biomass plants globally, with a total installed capacity of over 2,500MW.

Read the whole article here

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Uncategorized

What wood are you burning? Try some from the U.S. National Forests

The latest info from the U.S. Forest Service is nothing short of terrifying. According to an article on Earth Island Journal, the U.S. government is considering ripping through national forests for biofuels. The propaganda on this pillage concludes that forests are overgrown fire hazards and that a “burn the forest before it burns you” policy would not only help prevent fires, but also eliminate climate change.

1,600 acres of White River National Forest are being clear-cut. All of the trees are fueling the Eagle Valley Clean Energy biomass facility. Photo: Josh Schlossberg

1,600 acres of White River National Forest are being clear-cut. All of the trees are fueling the Eagle Valley Clean Energy biomass facility. Photo: Josh Schlossberg

So, for the U.S. Forest Service, here is an FYI: The number of trees and bugs in an area has nothing to do with causing forest fires. Wildfires are brought on by human action, drought and rising temperatures, which will all INCREASE if we tear down more forests.

Will National Forests Be Sacrificed to the Biomass Industry?
BY JOSH SCHLOSSBERG, Earth Island Journal, OCTOBER 15, 2014

The US Forest Service wants to sell our forests for fuel in the name of wildfire reduction
If we’re to believe the biomass energy industry, the US Forest Service, and a chorus of politicians from both sides of the aisle, we can solve the energy crisis, cure climate change, and eradicate wildfire by logging and chipping our national forests and burning them up in biomass power facilities.

The plotline of their story goes something like this: Years of taxpayer-funded logging and fire suppression in federal forests (at the behest of the timber industry) has resulted in “overgrown” forests crawling with icky bugs, ticking time bombs ready to burst into flames. And the fix, it just so happens, involves even more taxpayer-funded logging and fire suppression, with the trees forked over to the biomass industry to burn in their incinerators and then the “green” electricity sold to utilities and eventually the public — at a premium.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change

A Climate Change of Mind: Yale releases study on American attitude toward Climate Change

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication recently released its findings on the American perception of climate change. The study analyzed different beliefs Americans hold in regard to climate change, as well as compared the numbers to past percentages. Their study revealed what many of us already knew, that education on climate change still has a long way to go.

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Some interesting stats from the study include:

  • 23 percent of Americans believe that global warming is NOT happening, up 7 percent from 2013.

  • Half of Americans are “somewhat worried” about global warming, while about 38 percent are “very worried.”

  • Fewer than half of Americans currently believe global warming will negatively impact their lives, while 65 percent are confident it will impact future generations, along with plants and animals.

Want more? Read six more mind-blowing stats or, better yet, take a few moments to read the full study.

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Filed under Climate Change

Biomass-the Wrong Solution to Climate Change

Today’s post comes from our friends at the Energy Justice Network and the Biomass Monitor.

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Biomass Energy: Another Kind of Climate Change Denial

By Josh Schlossberg, Biomass Monitor. October 12, 2014

We’re all familiar with climate change deniers, cheerfully and/or willfully ignorant folk who refuse to accept that human-caused carbon emissions are responsible for the climate crisis — or that there even is a climate crisis. Those of us who value science and common sense typically have as much patience for these twenty-three percent of Americans as we do for anyone who believes that maggots arise spontaneously from rotting meat, witches cause disease, or the Earth is the center of the universe.

Recently, a subtler breed of climate change denier has emerged, spreading their propaganda and even infiltrating aspects of the environmental movement: biomass boosters. These advocates for the biomass energy industry often avoid detection by professing concern with carbon emissions. Yet, while cursing fossil fuels out of one side of their mouths, out of the other they bless the burning of one of the world’s greatest buffers against runaway climate chaos — our forests — for energy.

If the climate movement wants to win over the American people and influence policy, it needs to have credibility, which only comes through consistency, and that means distancing itself from the climate change deniers in our midst.

Read the whole article here.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change

U.S. Pentagon says Climate Change a major risk to national security

The United States Pentagon released a statement naming climate change as a top threat to the nation’s security. According to an article in the New York Times, the military links climate change to an increase risk in terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. The report sees climate change as a present danger the country’s safety, as opposed to its pervious messaging, which viewed the climate crisis as an impending future event.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday at a meeting of defense ministers in Peru. Photo: Paolo Aguilar/European Pressphoto Agency

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday at a meeting of defense ministers in Peru. Photo: Paolo Aguilar/European Pressphoto Agency

The report outlines how the military will need to adapt to climate change, as opposed to addressing the changes the Department of Defense can make to reduce the momentum of climate change. While all governments need  to recognize the risks and perils associated with climate change, focusing on the risks and not the causes will not change the future. The U.S. Department of Defense is one of the largest consumers of energy in the world —  how about a report on how they plan to cut down on that.

Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change
By CORAL DAVENPORT, New York Times, OCT. 13, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Monday released a report asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.

The report lays out a road map to show how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts. The Defense Department will begin by integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking Monday at a meeting of defense ministers in Peru, highlighted the report’s findings and the global security threats of climate change.

Read the full article here.

 

 

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Filed under Climate Change, Politics