Day: May 30, 2019

No further legislative study of carbon storage

Read the full story in the Terre Haute Tribune Star.

Underground carbon storage will not be among topics addressed this year by any of several interim study committees of the Indiana General Assembly.

Gov. Eric Holcomb this month signed Senate Enrolled Act 442, authored by Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, allowing a pilot project to proceed in Vigo County but also urging the Legislative Council to have an appropriate committee review the practice.

But it was not among some 40 topics selected last week by the 16-member council chaired by Senate President Rod Bray, R-Martinsville. More than 150 topics were submitted for consideration.

The pilot project at the site of a former coal gasification plant off Indiana 63 north of Terre Haute will be the largest of its kind in the country, according to the planned operator, Wabash Valley Resources. It will store up to 1.75 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, up to a total of 50 million tons.

A radical idea to get a high-renewable electric grid: Build way more solar and wind than needed

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Famous inventor Edwin Land said, “It’s not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas.” He seemed to be telling us that solutions lie just beyond our old habits of thinking.

Cities, states and countries around the world are committing to clean energy economies that run on very high levels — even 100 percent — of renewable energy. In New York state alone, four competing bills target 50 percent to 100 percent renewables by or before 2040.

Realistically, only two renewable energy resources are large enough (PDF) to meet these very high-penetration objectives on the supply side in the United States — solar (by far) and wind.

Both, however, are variable resources, driven by weather as well as daily and seasonal cycles. Therefore, they must be “firmed” — capable of delivery power on demand — in order to replace fossil resources which can be dispatched as needed. Based on our research, we contend that this firm power transformation is not only possible, it is also affordable — if we stop having old ideas.

One entrenched, and very prevalent, idea — likely a result of historically high renewable energy prices — is that all the power generated by renewable resources must be sold as it is generated. The idea of discarding available wind or solar output is anathema, imposed on power producers when production from these sources exceeds what the grid can accept.

This old idea ignores a fundamental proposition: oversizing and proactively curtailing wind and solar. However counterintuitive, a study our colleagues and we conducted shows that these steps are the key to the least expensive path to an electric grid powered largely by solar and wind.

Cities Are Making Big Promises to Address Climate Change. Can They Keep Them?

Read the full story from WABE.

Two years ago, Atlanta was widely lauded when it committed to have all homes, businesses and city operations rely largely on renewable energy in coming decades. It was part of a wave of cities responding to more intense flooding, heat and storms, and setting ambitious goals to tackle climate change even as the Trump administration ignores the issue.

Since then Atlanta has held public forums and put together a plan to achieve its goal, which the City Council adopted this past March. It includes boosting energy efficiency, using more renewable power and buying renewable energy credits.

The city has been held up as a leader by the Sierra Club, awarded a grant in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge and given props by climate activist Al Gore, who declared that if Atlanta can do it, any city can do it.

But it turns out one thing Atlanta can’t do is choose where its energy comes from. As in many places, the utility — Georgia Power — makes that decision because it’s a monopoly. It’s also regulated by statewide elected officials who are all Republican, none of whom has emphasized climate change as a concern.

And so not long after Atlanta’s City Council voted on a climate plan, it’s become clear that meeting its lofty goals could prove harder than expected.

 

Molson Coors Expands Better Barley, Better Beer Program to Improve Yield

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Molson Coors Brewing Company is preparing for the possibility of a decline in barley yields in coming years by helping barley growers adopt more sustainable practices. The company is installing weather stations and soil moisture probes across barley farms in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado as part of its efforts to help farmers future-proof their businesses and ensure its own future supply of the necessary grain.

Changing weather patterns and increasing droughts mean that barley growers are facing a potential decrease in barley yields of as much as 17% per year, according to a study in the Nature Research Journal. This could lead to an increase in beer prices of up to 15%. The Molson Coors Better Barley, Better Beer program is the company’s investment in making sure it will have a consistent, quality source of barley for the foreseeable future.

Antibiotics found in some of the world’s rivers exceed ‘safe’ levels, global study finds

Read the full post from the University of York.

Concentrations of antibiotics found in some of the world’s rivers exceed ‘safe’ levels by up to 300 times, the first ever global study has discovered.

What’s California’s True Recycling Story?

Read the full story at Waste360.

The less-told story is that California, like other states, is feeling the pain of a persistent, downturned commodities market streak.

The Importance of Word Choice: Terms with multiple meanings for scientists and the public

Read the full post at Southern Fried Science.

If you haven’t seen the excellent post on Mountain Beltway – Words matter – you should head over there and take a look. The post brought up some interesting ideas about word choice, and how the common definition of a word may convey a different meaning than the scientific definition. For science communicators, this may lead to confusion and misunderstanding between you and your audience.

I presented this table to my Science and Nature Writing class this morning and asked my students to come up with other terms that may also have multiple, opposing meanings. This impressive list is what they produced:

New online tool provides community-level health and environmental data

Read the full story at Delaware Public Media.

The state has launched a publicly accessible data tool to help Delawareans track health and environmental risks in their neighborhoods.

Biodiversity collapse: the wild relatives of livestock and crops are disappearing

Read the full story in The Conversation.

“Transformative change” is needed to prevent over a million species going extinct, according to a new report on the world’s biodiversity. Based on information gathered over three years from land, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and drawing heavily from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the report from the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warns that Earth’s life-support systems may collapse if humanity doesn’t change the way it values and uses nature.

But what does this mean for everyday life? “Biodiversity” – which describes the variety and abundance of species living on Earth – is a term which doesn’t travel far outside debate between scientists and policymakers. The consequences of the biodiversity crisis can seem abstract and difficult for many people to understand, particularly the implications for their own lives.

Think food, though, and the implications become clear.

This global map of manure could help save farming as we know it

Read the full story in Science Magazine.

To grow the world’s wheat, corn, and beans, farmers need phosphorus—an essential nutrient that comes from bird and bat droppings and rock deposits. But the global supply of easily mineable phosphorus is dwindling; to stave off the coming drought, scientists are exploring an alternative: recycling animal manure for its phosphorus content. Now, they’ve come up with the world’s first map of this underappreciated resource, which shows that most manure is exactly where farmers need it—in their own backyards.

To make their map (above), researchers used data on livestock density and calculated the annual amount of phosphorus excreted by cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, and goats globally—as much as a whopping 130,000 kilograms per square kilometer, they report in an upcoming issue of Earth’s Future. (Various estimates put total global production between 15 million to 20 million metric tons per year.) The researchers found “hot spots,” areas in which manure-based phosphorus is a widely available, but underused, on every continent except Antarctica. Unsurprisingly, many of those hot spots are near farming communities and river deltas where agricultural runoff abounds.

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