The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Is your wood stove choking you?

Just as diesel was promoted as an improvement over petrol for CO2 emissions that then turned out to hav negative health impacts, so too with wood burning stoves where the idea that wood is a renewable resource suggested that net CO2 emissions could be zero. The stoves are producing worse health effects in cities that motor transport and may not even be helping with Climate Change.

Windows on to a cleaned up atmosphere

How Bill Gates aims to clean up the planet

“A2F is a potentially game-changing technology, which if successfully scaled up will allow us to harness cheap, intermittent renewable electricity to drive synthesis of liquid fuels that are compatible with modern infrastructure and engines,” says Geoff Holmes of CE. “This offers an alternative to biofuels and a complement to electric vehicles in the effort to displace fossil fuels from transportation.”

The point to note is that some people are working on technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and seeing it as value added economic activity. There is hope.

The Cost of Currency

Here is a climate change problem with cryptocurrency BitCoin.

Bitcoin’s energy usage is huge – we can’t afford to ignore it

BitCoin uses proof of work to make it trustworthy, not human work but machine work that uses a lot of electricity. Criminals are not spending their own money on the electricity but the money of millions of computer users whose computers have been infected by a computer virus that makes the computer do work for the remote criminals.

New Cryptocurrency Mining Bot Is Infesting Facebook Messenger

They win all, you lose!

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.

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

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.

Sustainability

This is an inspiring business.

Chinese textile business booms after betting on sustainability

But neither Lingyong nor Lingyan were satisfied with solely improving their own environmental performance. They realized that collective action is the only way to really mitigate water-related risks to their business so they teamed up with the Industrial Park Committee and WWF to take the next critical steps on the path to water stewardship — engaging with other water users in the same industrial park and river basin to take collective action.

versus, the non-sustainable:

Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals

Mahon said there were two principal concerns: very small plastic particles and the chemicals or pathogens that microplastics can harbour. “If the fibres are there, it is possible that the nanoparticles are there too that we can’t measure,” she said. “Once they are in the nanometre range they can really penetrate a cell and that means they can penetrate organs, and that would be worrying.” The Orb analyses caught particles of more than 2.5 microns in size, 2,500 times bigger than a nanometre.

Microplastics can attract bacteria found in sewage, Mahon said: “Some studies have shown there are more harmful pathogens on microplastics downstream of wastewater treatment plants.”

I hope that Lingyong and Lingyan will look into this, there is clearly an enormous opportunity for new technologies.