The door of the refrigerator has been left open

Jeremy Mathis: The Arctic has traditionally been the refrigerator to the planet, but the door of the refrigerator has been left open.

Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever

Jeremy Mathis, head of NOAA’s Arctic research program: 2017 continued to show us we are on this deepening trend where the Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago.

Changes that would in the past have happened over thousands of years now happen over decades. We need solutions to be implemented.

Looting sand

Sand shortage? Those deserts have the wrong kind of sand! Climate change is our biggest problem, but there are lots of others.

Sand mafias and vanishing islands

Sand seems like a limitless resource, but mounting evidence suggests this is far from the case.

“In the past year there have been hundreds of people murdered because of conflicts between sand mafias,” says Torres.

We are unlikely to completely run out of sand, but quite aside from the diminishing stocks the devastating impacts of sand mining mean this is no longer something that can continue unchecked.

Renewables win

Hopefully, this is the tipping point in changing our ways for the better. This from a financial investment firm.

A widely-used yearly benchmarking study — the Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE) from the financial firm Lazard Ltd. — reached this stunning conclusion: In many regions “the full-lifecycle costs of building and operating renewables-based projects have dropped below the operating costs alone of conventional generation technologies such as coal or nuclear.”

Building new renewables is now cheaper than just running old coal and nuclear plants

Even fracking now has limited time, only because we have still not developed enough storage capacity to smooth out renewable energy fluctuations. That will change rapidly.

Climate change methodology mistake

But the reassessment is likely to make the state worse than the current bad state we think we are in.

Climate change might be worse than thought after scientists find major mistake in water temperature readings

Here is the research report:

Burial-induced oxygen-isotope re-equilibration of fossil foraminifera explains ocean paleotemperature paradoxes

Trump has not managed to silence the scientists yet:

US report finds climate change 90% manmade

“A lot of what we’ve been learning over the last four year suggests the possibility that things may have been more serious than we think,” said Robert Kopp of Rutgers University, one of the dozens of scientists inside and outside the government who wrote the studies.

The report also documented how different climate change-caused events can interact in a complex way to make life worse such as the California wildfires and Superstorm Sandy five years ago.

Enough solar for everyone too

But we knew that. Were it not so we would not be here anyway.

Solar windows could meet ‘nearly all’ of America’s electricity demand

Solar cell technology could soon tap into the massive energy potential of windows and other transparent objects, new research has shown.

Scientists have been working on transparent solar panels which could be used as windows in cars or homes at the same time as generating electricity.

Here is solar technology now with exponential growth as new technologies get to work.

Why waste time developing old technologies that seem to be dangerous for our health and future: Pollutants from fracking could pose health risk to children

Enough wind for everyone

There’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization

Although, in principle, there is enough ocean wind to power our civilization, in practice –

It’s very unlikely that we would ever build out open ocean turbines on anything like that scale — indeed, doing so could even alter the planet’s climate, the research finds. But the more modest message is that wind energy over the open oceans has large potential — reinforcing the idea that floating wind farms, over very deep waters, could be the next major step for wind energy technology.

Lovely graphs and graphics in the original paper:

Geophysical potential for wind energy over the open oceans

Good news for solar power

Elon Musk says he can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid with solar

Ricardo Rossello (Governor of Puerto Rico): Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your Tesla technologies? Puerto Rico could be that flagship project.

Elon Musk: The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.

The critical words: there is no scalability limit

Tropical forests – our saviour (no more) but something is growing

Alarm as study reveals world’s tropical forests are huge carbon emission source

The world’s tropical forests are so degraded they have become a source rather than a sink of carbon emissions, according to a new study that highlights the urgent need to protect and restore the Amazon and similar regions.

Researchers found that forest areas in South America, Africa and Asia – which have until recently played a key role in absorbing greenhouse gases – are now releasing 425 teragrams of carbon annually, which is more than all the traffic in the United States.

So, let’s push the good news. Note the last paragraph below.

Solar power is fastest-growing source of new energy

The Paris-based IEA predicted that solar would dominate future growth, with global capacity in five years’ time expected to be greater than the current combined total power capacity of India and Japan.

Dr Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, said: “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar photovoltaics [PV]. We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology up to 2022.”

The authority, which is funded by 28 member governments, admitted it had previously underestimated the speed at which green energy was growing.

In praise of China

China is not only doing R&D in technologies such as solar, wind & nuclear, it is also developing the legal framework to move to a sustainable society. This ties in well with the previous post Sustainability

‘My job is to clean up the environment. China really wants to do that’

Environmental lawyer James Thornton says China’s ‘ecological civilisation’ concept is the best response to the world’s environmental crisis

First invited to Beijing in 2014 to help implement China’s new law allowing NGOs to sue polluting companies for the first time, Thornton has seen how serious the world’s biggest polluter is about addressing its environmental problems. He believes their concept of “ecological civilisation” is the best formulation he’s heard for the new environmental story we must tell.

“Facing the ruin of their environment, the Chinese looked hard and amended their constitution. This core document now calls for the building of an ecological civilisation,” he says. “We built an agricultural, then an industrial, and now must build an ecological civilisation.”

“I have no cynicism about whether they mean to do it. My job is to try and clean up the environment for future generations. The Chinese really want to do that.” This task, apparently insurmountable for the west, is made possible by China’s 2,500-year tradition of centralised government.