Posted by Big Gav
Martin Eberhard from Tesla Motors made a classic if rather sarcastic speech thanking the California Air Resources Board for encouraging their competitors to remain mired in the slow progress world of hydrogen fuel cells instead of the future of personal transport, electric vehicles.
Good afternoon, Members of the Board.
I am Martin Eberhard, cofounder and CEO of Tesla Motors, based here in California.
Tesla Motors will begin shipping highly-desirable, DOT-compliant electrical cars with well over 200 miles range later this year – perhaps you saw one of our prototypes outside. We have already pre-sold more than 400 cars; 2008 production will easily exceed 1,000 cars, exceeding the worldwide fleet of fuel cell cars.
Additionally, we will deliver Tesla-built battery systems for the newly revived TH!INK City Car this year, with a standing order for many thousand batteries per year.
The Air Resources Board continues to show a bias toward hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and against the less expensive and more efficient battery electric vehicles. This bias is clearly seen in the ARB Independent Expert Panel Report. Tesla Motors believes this bias is not justified by science or the evidence of actual vehicles and infrastructure.
However, we are actually delighted by the way this bias finds implementation in the ZEV mandate. For the results of this mandate is that all of our potential EV competitors – all the big car companies – remain mired in non-productive, deeply-expensive fuel cell programs, keeping them out of the EV marketplace, and indeed out of the serious ZEV marketplace entirely.
Every year spent on fuel cell programs by GM, Ford, Honda, and the rest is another year we at Tesla Motors can build our technological and market lead in the obvious winning technology: battery electric vehicles. We therefore sarcastically and enthusiastically encourage you to maintain the hydrogen bias and keep our competitors in the quagmire.
Meanwhile, we are on schedule to place 15,000 battery electric Tesla vehicles on the road by the end of 2010.
Sarcasm aside, wouldn’t it be nice for our environment if we had a few competitors?
The SMH reports on the disappearing glaciers of Mt Everest.
These two photographs - taken 40 years apart - show how one of the world's most spectacular ice formations, the field of ice towers ("serac forest") around Mount Everest, is shrinking. Environmental group Greenpeace, which released the photographs today, say this is global warming in action.
The photographs are of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, which is called the world's "third pole" because it contains the biggest fields of ice outside of the Arctic and Antarctic. Its glaciers are the source of Asia's biggest rivers - Yangtze, Yellow, Indus and Ganges.
The melting of this glacier is also significant because the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last month that if current trends continue, 80 per cent of the Himalayan glaciers, the water source for a sixth of the world's population, could disappear in 30 years if the current rate of emissions is not reduced. Other reports have suggested that the impact would be lower, at about 30 per cent.
The original picture from 1968 was taken by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Greenpeace has made three expeditions to the same area in the past two years.
The Greenpeace campaigners were unable to reach the same spot where they think the 1968 picture was taken because a smaller glacier that was there four decades ago has disappeared, making it impassable. The season in which the 1968 photograph was taken is also unknown, though there are really only two periods when the area is habitable by humans, which is April to May (spring) and September to October (autumn).
Li Yan, one of the expedition members, said climate change was transforming the ancient Himalayan landscape. The first photograph shows a long valley filled with ice towers as high as 20 metres that form the Rongbuk glacier, the biggest glacier on Mount Everest's northern slopes. The second photograph taken on April 29 this year (early spring here), shows that the ice forest has retreated dramatically.
"A big piece of the Rongbuk glacier ... has disappeared," Ms Li said. "The demise of the ice towers is the most significant sign of global warming in the Himalayas. But this is just one example of what is happening right across the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. All the glaciers are depleting, threatening the livelihoods of millions of people."
The melting glacier has created many new lakes, which can create havoc through flooding when they burst. Unfortunately for the farmers who live in the area, the extra water has been more than offset by less and less rainfall and the hotter temperatures.
China has acknowledged that global warming is adversely affecting its environment and has pledged to reduce its emissions, but this week, along with India, another developing country and also the world's second most populous, again rejected mandatory targets because it would slow development.
The Christian Science Monitor has an article on an odd tool for mapping the currents of the world's oceans - rubber ducks.
Computer models of ocean currents and wind directions developed by a friend of Ebbesmeyer's, Jim Ingraham, accurately predicted the arrival of the ducks off the Washington State coast in 1995, after they had been round the Pacific's circular current three times, in a 45,000 mile journey. And they were not the only pieces of plastic flotsam around. The Pacific gyre, a huge circular current "is like a toilet that never flushes," says Moore, who has run a number of scientific expeditions to two particularly polluted giant eddies he calls the "garbage patches."
In those areas, he astonished the scientific community by finding six pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton. Broken down into smaller and smaller particles, "it is insinuating itself into the bottom of the food chain," he worries. Larger pieces are probably eaten by albatross and other birds, he says: of 28,000 pieces of plastic he analyzed in the Eastern Garbage Patch, only 83 fragments were tan-colored. The rest had probably been snapped up - mistaken for shrimp, he says. And since plastic is a sponge for pollutants such as PCBs and other chemicals which are estrogenic, Moore worries, "we are changing the sex of the ocean and its creatures," feminizing them.
Pairs of female seagulls have been found nesting together on the California coast, he points out, wondering whether this might not have something to do with the plastic in their diet.
Kevin Rudd has tried to upstage the Rodent's upcoming announcement on global warming (which will most likely amount to absolutely nothing tangible other than lots of spin and hot air) with some more announcements on Labor's global warming policy. I've yet to see if his "cao and trade" system involves handouts to existing polluters or a much fairer and more competitive auctioning of permits. Crikey says the Rodent's climate change policy machinations show why he is out in the cold with voters.
THE Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, tried to pre-empt John Howard's imminent policy announcement on climate change last night by announcing a new grab bag of measures and outlining the necessary conditions for an emissions trading scheme.
Today Mr Howard will receive the report from the emissions trading taskforce he commissioned last year and his response is expected on Sunday. ...
Mr Rudd, speaking in Canberra last night, promised another $50 million to upgrade the CSIRO's National Solar Energy Centre and another $50 million to further the development of geothermal energy. He also promised that a Labor government would lead by example by making Parliament House and all electorate offices reliant on renewable or clean energy. Government offices would be made to turn lights off at night, all Commonwealth buildings would have to have a five-star greenhouse rating, and all computers, fridges and other appliances in such buildings would have high-efficiency ratings.
Mr Rudd said an emissions trading scheme must be "cap and trade". This means total emissions would be capped and trading of emissions permits would be allowed as long as the overall cap was not exceeded. The scheme would be in place by 2010 and need to be accompanied by a mandatory renewable energy target to ease the reliance on fossil fuels.
The SMH also has an article from Clive Hamilton on the seven tests of an effective carbon trading system.
Can we trade our way out of the climate crisis? There seems to be convergence of opinion on the need for an emissions trading system in Australia. Even the Prime Minister, a closet sceptic, has succumbed to pressure from business.
The report of his task group on an emissions trading system is due today, but how would such a scheme work, and what features must it have to reduce Australia's burgeoning greenhouse gas emissions? What are the tests that will distinguish an effective system from one that is just more window-dressing by the Government?
Before an emissions trading system can work, it must be made illegal to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without a permit. In passing such a law, the Government must nominate the polluters to which the restrictions apply.
Electricity generators and big industrial polluters are obvious candidates. To cover transport emissions, it would be unwieldy to ask motorists to buy a permit each time they fill up the tank. An "upstream" system would require oil refiners and importers to hold permits to cover the emissions that result from the petrol and diesel they sell.
This would cover all fossil fuel emissions and account for about three-quarters of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, with agriculture and waste accounting for much of the rest. So, comprehensive coverage of the main emission sources is the first test the system must pass.
A trading system is pointless unless the number of emission permits issued each year is less than demand. The cap on emissions makes permits valuable and therefore open to trade. If a polluter wants to emit more than its allocation, it must find someone to sell it more.
The second test is how deeply the cap bites into emissions. A trading scheme must be introduced in the context of clear and legislated short- and medium-term emission caps, coupled with a long-term planning target. A long-term target of a 60 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 is the minimum acceptable to ensure the scheme passes the test of environmental integrity.
The third test will be if the scheme has loopholes built into it allowing polluters to get out of their obligations to reduce emissions. It already looks like the scheme will fail this test, with the Government's announcement in the budget that it will provide incentives for investment in forest plantations and allow growing forests to generate emission "credits" that can be substituted for emissions permits. This will let polluters off the hook because growing forests can, at best, only delay the need to cut carbon emissions.
The mechanism for allocating emission permits provides the fourth test of an effective system. For the market to work well and be fair, permits should be auctioned to the highest bidder. The revenue can support other greenhouse reduction programs, ease structural adjustment, or offset the effects of rising energy prices on low-income households.
The Government will be under pressure to give the permits to existing big polluters, however. This would represent a huge transfer of wealth from the public to polluters and has no economic justification....
Spot on Clive.
TreeHugger has a post on energy and water efficient washing machines. We went through a similar process not that long ago and (presumably like Warren) ended up with a not quite perfect but pretty good Fisher&Paykel Aquasmart machine.
Normally I don’t pay much attention to television adverts. But recently I had to go through the process of buying a new washing machine, so it was with interest that I noticed Fisher&Paykel promoting their Aquasmart machine. The first top loader sold in Australia to qualify for a 4 Star water rating. Impressive, but the energy rating still needs work.
Jogged the memory though. “Haven’t I seen a hybrid top loader before?” Of course I had. It was the Staber, launched onto the US market a full dozen or so years ago. Inside this normal looking top loader is a hexagonal-like stainless steel drum that opens to the top. Staber reckon their ’Made in America’ machines will provide a return of around $300 each year for the rest of their life. Although about twice the price of a standard top loader, they calculate that considering water, energy and detergent saved over just three years of use, you are pretty much making money with their designs.
They figure this based on saving a third of the water, a quarter of the energy to heat water, at least a quarter of the washing detergent and a third of the drying time (due to their efficient spins cycle). The company even have some sound reasons why their design outperforms a front loader. Interestingly, for folk on wind and solar power, Staber also claim to have ‘the most energy efficient washer available and the best choice for consumers living "off-grid,"’ as a result of only needing 110–150 watt-hours of electricity per wash load.
Not being in the US, I ultimately made a different choice, but would welcome comments below from anyone with experience (good or bad) on the effectiveness of the Staber design
TreeHugger also has a post on Radiation-Loving 'Shrooms.
he recent discovery by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine that certain species of fungi such as Cryptococcus neoformans possess the remarkable ability to use radioactivity as a source of energy for consumption and growth has led to much speculation over its potential applications. Possible uses range from supplying a steady source of food for astronauts on long space voyages to providing an effective means of nuclear waste disposal.
Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of microbiology & immunology at Albert Einstein and the senior author of the study, noted that, "The fungal kingdom comprises more species than any other plant or animal kingdom, so finding that they're making food in addition to breaking it down means that Earth's energetics—in particular, the amount of radiation energy being converted to biological energy—may need to be recalculated."
Ekaterina Dadchova, one of the lead authors of the study, has even suggested that the fungi could be grown at high altitudes where little besides radiation is prevalent to be used as a source of biofuel (just imagine a car running on 'shrooms). But how does this all work? ...
The WSJ Energy Roundup has a roundup of articles on food vs fuel. They also point to BP's deal with Libya, one of the remaining under-developed oil provinces (and, as I've noted previously, at one time the world's largest oil producer before various machinations put a halt to that).
Government subsidies and surging demand for biofuels is encouraging European farmers to switch from food crops to rapeseed and other biofuel feedstock, bringing hefty profits to the farmers, but driving up food prices, the New York Times reports.
Cargill’s new CEO warned that the biofuels boom could turn ugly, creating a risk of global food shortages, the Financial Times reports.
Sudan’s lucrative oil exports will likely not be affected by the new economic sanctions President Bush is imposing on the country, the New York Times reports.
The U.S. government plans to help Asian countries use more energy efficient appliances and develop “clean coal” technology to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, the Financial Times reports.
A global consortium of researchers is developing a way to trigger nuclear fusion with a high-powered laser, which “has the potential to solve the world energy crisis without destroying the environment,” the Guardian reports.
Tom Whipple's latest peak oil column looks at the most important areas to consider when preparing for depletion. As usual, these areas are also the most important to consider when dealing with global warming...
News on the gasoline stockpile situation was delayed this week due to the Memorial Day holiday. As gasoline consumption figures over the long weekend won’t be available until the middle of next week, we may get a better insight into prospects for this summer then. While waiting, however, it seems like a good time to start thinking a bit about the years ahead and what we should be doing to get ready for them.
There are two areas of energy consumption we, as individuals, can do something about: transportation and buildings. The cost and availability of our food is something that few of us have much control over. If food becomes too expensive, then we simply reduce or forego eating out; reduce our use of prepared, packaged, and expensive foods; or even reduce the quantity we consume until the costs of food meet our budget.
Commercial use of energy to make and distribute things will be sorted out by the market – here again, there is little most of us can do to effect change other than generally reducing consumption either because we are trying to save the world’s resources, or, more likely, we simply can’t afford to pay what stuff is going to cost.
Unaffordable gasoline will affect each of us differently depending on how dependent we are on our automobile and what our alternatives are. In the U.S. we have something on the order of 210 million cars and light trucks in service and, even if the resources are available to replace a fleet of this size, it will be many decades before they can be replaced with vehicles that use little or no gasoline. Worldwide, the situation is even worse.
It probably won’t be too long before we figure out whatever supplies of motor fuel are available will be better spent on growing and distributing food and maintaining vital-to-civilization systems such as water, sewers, electricity, and communications rather than being burned in private cars. For the immediate future though, unaffordable gasoline will be coped with through a combination of increased public transit and a lot more ride sharing.
Soon, there will be lots of room for changes in public policy as we tackle the job of reworking our transportation systems. For now, we are not ready to think seriously about changes, for the reality of imminent oil depletion is not widely recognized. Another three or four dollar increase in gasoline prices should do the trick.
Buildings, however, are another matter -- be they offices, factories, commercial space, or homes. In the developed world, most use prodigious amounts of energy. Although our electricity and natural gas bills currently are not increasing as fast as gasoline prices, price increases for other forms of energy won’t be many years behind. Unlike a gas guzzler which can be parked, used infrequently, or scrapped for a more efficient vehicle, few of us will have the opportunity to replace our buildings for more efficient ones.
A couple of hundred years ago most homes were heated and lit by wood plus a little candle wax. That’s obviously not going to work anymore. My guess is that most people’s access to firewood, if any, would be sufficient for a couple of days or, at best, a couple of weeks. For awhile, there will be a rush to huddling around electric heaters, but just as natural gas, oil, propane will soon be too expensive to for many to afford, large amounts of electricity will not be far behind. We are going to have to transition to solar and maybe a little wind energy to control our personal climates.
One of the redeeming features of our current living and work place arrangements is that we waste prodigious amounts of energy in heating, cooling and lighting them, so that there is a lot to be saved. We all know by now that eliminating incandescent bulbs and moving first to compact fluorescents and then, as they become more affordable, to LED’s most of the lighting costs in homes and offices can be eliminated.
Equally big jumps in household efficiency can be achieved by disconnecting clothes dryers and going back to clothes lines. Pulling the plug on the central air would be the third big energy saver.
Given the trends in fossil fuel availability, it is clear that our goal will have to be zero net energy for all our inhabited buildings. This means that the preponderance of the energy used in buildings will soon have to come from the sun, wind, water power, and perhaps a little biomass and will not be delivered in by pipe and power lines or in trucks.
The course from our current building stock to highly efficient ones will be long and difficult. Starting on this course is not difficult or particularly expensive. Plugging air leaks, adding some more insulation, and perhaps improving the window and doors is a good place to start provided one knows what to do, where to start and is physically and financially capable of taking action in the face of rapidly rising energy costs.
Later steps on the way to zero net energy buildings, such as major insulation and window upgrades, solar heating and electric panels, new heating and air conditioning equipment will be very expensive and perhaps unaffordable for many in an inflation-wracked world of depleting oil. ...
Cryptogon points to a report on a Remote New Zealand Tidal Power Project.
By 2013, power companies will have the option of cutting off power distribution to “unprofitable” parts of New Zealand.
Will the lights go out in the Hokianga? No. You see, the simple and sane solutions become possible once a place isn’t profitable anymore. ...
Via: stuff.co.nz / Northnern News:
Tidal turbines in the Hokianga Harbour could power up to 1000 homes, saving residents money and securing power supplies to remote areas facing an uncertain energy future. A working party exploring renewable energy options in the Far North says marine currents at The Narrows, Te Karaka Point, Rangi Point and North Head may be swift enough to generate up to 2.5 megawatts of electricity.
The tidal power scheme is one of several generation schemes that could be embedded in the district’s electricity network, says working party member Dr Zuben Weeds. Similar schemes, using wind and hydro power, could be modelled on the Hokianga project if it proves viable, says Mr Weeds, a Waikato University energy researcher. “An objective of this project is to develop a model community- distributed generation scheme that could supply up to 1000 houses in the Far North through Top Energy’s network,” he says.
There are two good reasons for developing the schemes in Northland, he says. Domestic electricity prices in the region have risen by 65 percent since 1999, adding $725 to household power bills, while prices nationally have gone up by an average of 39 percent. “For many Far North households, the increase in power costs is significant because incomes in these areas are lower than the national median income,” says Mr Weeds.
Generating power locally would reduce loads on the national grid at Auckland, which Transpower predicts will exceed capacity by 2013, he says. It would also secure electricity supplies in isolated areas where it is not economic for Top Energy to maintain power lines.
Under present law, the line company won’t have to maintain uneconomic power lines after 2013. “In effect, the distribution line to a remote area may potentially deteriorate to the point where it cannot carry electricity.” The Hokianga project could take at least five years to complete if it goes ahead, Mr Weeds says.
Partners in the project would likely be the Far North District Council, Te Runanga O Te Rarawa, Scottish firm Gentec Venturi, Waikato University and Kerikeri firms Small Hydro Enterprises and IES Construction. Capital funds could come from an $8 million government fund for marine power schemes. “As we are one of the only groups looking at small-scale generation for remote communities, we have a good chance of being successful once the grant applications open,” Mr Weeds says.
Apparently Joe Lieberman has visited Iraq - to be asked by the troops when can they come home ? Never said Joe (or maybe in 50 years, like Bush wants). Not until the oil runs out anyway...
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) made an unannounced trip to Iraq today, telling reporters, “what I see here today is progress, significant progress.” Hours later, he was confronted by U.S. soldiers with a very different message: “We don’t feel like we’re making any progress.”
McClatchy reports tonight on Spc. David Williams, who collected questions for Lieberman from 30 other troops.At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:
“When are we going to get out of here?”
The rest was a laundry list. When would they have upgraded Humvees that could withstand the armor-penetrating weapons that U.S. officials claim are from Iran? When could they have body armor that was better in hot weather?
Williams missed six months of his girlfriend’s pregnancy when he was given six days’ notice to return to Iraq for his second tour. He also missed his baby boy’s birth. Three weeks ago, he went home and saw his first child.
“He looks just like me,” he said. “I didn’t want to come back. . . . We’re waiting to get blown up.” […]
Next to him, Spc. Will Hedin, 21, of Chester, Conn., thought about what he was going to say.
“We’re not making any progress,” Hedin said, as he recalled a comrade who was shot by a sniper last week. “It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at. … It’s just more troops, more targets.”
In the past two months, the unit has lost two men. In May alone, at least 120 U.S. troops died in Iraq, the bloodiest month in 2007 and the highest number since the battles of Fallujah in 2004.
Spc. Kevin Krasco, 20, of Medford, Mass., and Spc. Kevin Adams, 20, of Moosup, Conn., chimed in with their dismay before turning the conversation to baseball.
“It’s like everything else in this war,” Adams said, referring to Baghdad. “It hasn’t changed.”
Andrew Sullivan reports that US torture techniques in Iraq were pioneered by the Gestapo.
The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo above, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan.
Also: the use of hypothermia, authorized by Bush and Rumsfeld, was initially forbidden. 'Waterboarding" was forbidden too, unlike that authorized by Bush. As time went on, historians have found that all the bureaucratic restrictions were eventually broken or abridged. Once you start torturing, it has a life of its own. The "cold bath" technique - the same as that used by Bush against al-Qahtani in Guantanamo - was, according to professor Darius Rejali of Reed College, "pioneered by a member of the French Gestapo by the pseudonym Masuy about 1943. The Belgian resistance referred to it as the Paris method, and the Gestapo authorized its extension from France to at least two places late in the war, Norway and Czechoslovakia. That is where people report experiencing it." ...
Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
Jerome a Paris has a look at bloodthirsty neocon warmonger Norman Podhoretz's full page call in the Wall Street Journal to unleash an aerial holocaust on Iran.
n an explicit (and unambiguously titled) article that takes a full page in the Wall Street Journal (The Case for Bombing Iran - I hope and pray that President Bush will do it), one of the senior neoconservatives, Norman Podhoretz calls for an immediate bombing campaign against Iran, as a preemptive strike to avoid the nuclear destruction of Israel.
It is full of hate, of scaremongering, of contempt for everybody that does not support the neocon views, and it is given a lot of space in what is supposed to be a serious newspaper. This HAS to generate some outrage.
As the piece is behind a sub wall, I'll extract a few key paragraphs below:Although many persist in denying it, I continue to believe that what Sept 11, 2001, did was to plunge us headlong into nothing less than another world war. I call this new war World War IV, because I also believe that what is generally known as the Cold War was actually World War III, and that this one bears a closer resemblance to that great conflict than it does to World War II. Like the Cold War, as the military historian Eliot Cohen was the first to recognize, the one we are now in has ideological roots, pitting us against Islamofascism, yet another mutation of the totalitarian disease we defeated first in the shape of Nazism and fascism and then in the shape of communism; it is global in scope; it is being fought with a variety of weapons, not all of them military; and it is likely to go on for decades.
This is the traditional thesis of the necoons, and the basis for the "9/11 changed everything" mindset: the ardent belief in an all out ideological struggle - Good vs Evil, just like the good old days of the Cold War. It's the chance for today's pundits and Deciders to be heroes, too.As the currently main center of the Islamofascist ideology against which we have been fighting since 9/11, and as (according to the State Department's latest annual report on the subject) the main sponsor of the terrorism that is Islamofascism's weapon of choice, Iran too is a front in World War IV. Moreover, its effort to build a nuclear arsenal makes it the potentially most dangerous one of all.
After dismissing Iraq and Afghanistan as mere skirmishes in a wider battle ("theaters that have been opened up in the early stages of a protracted global struggle") Podhoretz zooms in on THE enemy - the evil nasties who dared humiliate the USA almost 30 years ago. This is never said, of course, but his whole texte just burns with hate for the absolute evil that emanates from that country, and its leaders, and it is the typical discourse of a bully that has just been smacked in the face and wants - demands! - cannot live without!! - retribution. 9/11 was a similar case of lèse-majesté for these guys, but created a great opening for action (read invading countries and killing the local population); the Iranian embassy hostage crisis is a festering wound that has yet to be given closure, and these guys desperately itch to go and smack the insolent offender once and for all. ...