Even Smart People Are Still Arguing About Fossil-Free Electricity

Even Smart People Are Still Arguing About Fossil-Free Electricityby 3p Contributor on Friday, Jul 21st, 2017 CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENTSHAREClick to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)25Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)2556Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)56Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)U.S. cities like Chicago have pledged to continue working toward the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. By Felix Kramer and Rosana FrancescatoAt a pivotal moment for climate strategies, scientists and business leaders have started a public debate about how fast and how fully we can leave oil, coal, and gas behind. More people now recognize climate change as the pre-eminent issue of our time, a core focus of resistance, and a source of massive economic opportunities.Imagine looking back and saying, “The Anthropocene Epoch started dangerously, as human activity threatened our future. But that sparked an unprecedented transition that protected our air and water. Every country pulled together to ensure a livable world. Our confidence, ingenuity, and resolve made it humanity’s greatest triumph.”After the U.S. government walked away from its international climate commitments, other key players including companies, cities, and states – where much of the action was already taking place – upped the ante. Policies, legislation, and entrepreneurship increasingly reflect this urgency. Globally, cities and companies are setting timetables to get off fossil fuels. Some are already there! Roadmaps created by Stanford engineer/atmospheric scientist Mark Z. Jacobson and the Solutions Project he co-founded helped make “100 percent renewables by 2050” a meme.But some have privately questioned the goal’s assumptions, research, and feasibility. Now 21 prominent climate scientists have issued a comprehensive public critique in the same Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where Jacobson published in 2015. Jacobson’s team gave broad and line-by-line responses, to which the critics responded.This debate highlights the views of experts who support renewables, but believe the electric grid needs a “many of the above” portfolio. To keep the lights on, they say we may long need 20 percent low- or zero-carbon non-renewable baseload capacity. They favor keeping open most atomic plants. They support efforts to develop affordable next-generation nuclear, CCS (carbon capture & sequestration), hot fusion, and LENR (low energy nuclear reactions). They hope these can be deployed at scale in time to make a difference.

Courtesy: By Felix Kramer and Rosana Francescato

Source: Even Smart People Are Still Arguing About Fossil-Free Electricity

A Floating Food Forest In New York City | Modern Cities

New York’s ‘barge-to-table’ floating farm gives city residents without access to farmland the opportunity to pick their own food. As a successful demonstration at Brooklyn Bridge Park comes to end later this week, Mary Mattingly has shed light on an obscure New York City law that prohibits the growing of food on public land, and demonstrated that edible perennial landscapes can help solve food insecurity problems in even the harshest of urban settings.Swale is a public floating food forest built atop a 5,000 square foot barge, currently docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6. Founded in 2016 by artist Mary Mattingly, Swale allows visitors to harvest herbs, fruits and vegetables for free. The project began as an idea to advocate for food to be grown on some of the 30,000 acres of public land in New York City. Although NYC boasts over 100 acres of community garden space, the City has more than 30,000 acres of park space. Picking one’s own food is illegal on New York City public land, so Mattingly banded together a team of stakeholders to construct a dense garden of edible plants atop a barge- which is technically legal due to a loophole created by waterway common law.

Source: A Floating Food Forest In New York City | Modern Cities

Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

Want to make your barren yard lush again? Just add a bit of soil from your local meadow. A new study reveals that the addition of foreign soil—and more importantly, the organisms it contains—can shape which plants will grow in the future. Such “inoculations” could even help bring back fallow farmlands and turn deserts green.”This is a really cool and remarkable study,” says Harsh Bais, a root biologist at the University of Delaware, Newark, who was not involved in the work. “Dirt matters.”Soil isn’t as simple as it seems. It contains microscopic bacteria and fungi, as well as tiny worms called nematodes and other invertebrates. Ecologists have long known that these underground communities build critical partnerships with the plants growing nearby. But many of these partnerships remain a mystery. Small-scale studies in greenhouses have shown that adding the right soil can promote the growth of a particular plant community, and some researchers have even tried soil transplantation—replacing one soil with another—to get certain endangered plants to grow.Such need is great across the globe, where many once-fertile lands are turning into desert, and a significant amount of agricultural land is lost every year. What’s more, when governments and nonprofit organizations try to bring back grasslands, forests, and other ecosystems destroyed by agriculture and other human uses, they are often disappointed: Restoration can take decades. It sometimes fails altogether.E. R. Jasper Wubs, an ecologist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen, hoped to find a better way. But instead of doing wholesale transplantation of soil—which can be expensive—he wanted to see what would happen with a booster shot.He and colleagues set up a series of 2- to 5-hectare plots on abandoned, degraded farmland in the Netherlands. They removed about 60 centimeters of top soil from part of each plot and spread a 1-centimeter-thick layer of soil in others. The soil was taken from either a heathland—rolling hills dominated by heather and small shrubs—or a grassland. They then added seeds from 30 plant species from a variety of habitats and waited—for 6 years.When their waiting was up, they compared the seeded areas with and without the added soil layers, looking at which species were thriving and which were not. The source of the added soil greatly influenced what grew where, they report today in Nature Plants. Plots with heathland soil were covered with heather and gorse, whereas plots with grasslands soil were overflowing with a variety of grasses. The added soil made the existing land richer—as the researchers found more nematode worms, more bacteria, and more fungi in those sections of the plots. Those with heathland soil also had a greater diversity of springtails and mites.

Source: Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

From Worst to First: Can Hawaii Eliminate Fossil Fuels?

Ask Americans which state is the greenest, most unspoiled, most eco-conscious place in the country, and a lot of people would probably say Hawaii. So it may come as a surprise to learn that Hawaii is actually the most oil-dependent state in the nation. Because it’s unreachable by trains or pipelines, the state spends $5 billion a year importing oil. As recently as 2003, more than 90 percent of their electricity came from foreign oil. That’s not just bad for the environment; it’s bad for consumers: Hawaii residents pay the highest electricity rates in the nation.That could all soon be changing, however. Thanks to sweeping legislation adopted last year, Hawaii has set a goal to become the first state in the country to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources. If it’s successful — the 100 percent goal has a deadline of 2045 — Hawaii would move from worst to first on clean energy. To call the plan ambitious would be an understatement. Getting to a completely renewable portfolio requires not only new investments and new technologies, but also a complete overhaul of the energy industry in the state. But the truth is that Hawaii has already made notable strides in reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. Thanks to a committed effort over the past 15 years, the state has decreased its dependence on oil by about 20 percentage points from that 2003 high.

Source: From Worst to First: Can Hawaii Eliminate Fossil Fuels?

Oakland Votes To Ban Coal Shipments, Could End Export Plans

Officials in Oakland, California, effectively ended proposals to open a new coal export terminal by voting to ban the transport and storage of the fossil fuel within city limits.The Oakland City Council announced its 7-0 decision on Monday as hundreds of anti-coal protestors descended on City Hall. The vote, which must be reconfirmed before it’s made official, came after Mayor Libby Schaaf and council member Dan Kalb argued that a coal export terminal would pollute the area, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.Environmentalists, who had ardently opposed such a project, hailed the decision

Source: Oakland Votes To Ban Coal Shipments, Could End Export Plans