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OK, relatively short diary because I need to get to work fulfilling some New Year's resolutions, y'know, on NEW YEAR'S DAY and stuff. Been dragging my feet a bit because it's been raining off and on where I live. Oh well, might as well enjoy it now before climate change screws up weather patterns worldwide.

And that's kinda where I wanted to go. While everyone here seems to be jubilant about six million or so having greater access to health insurance starting today, and indeed we should all take some comfort after what it took to get THAT far, my mind is on more long-term things at the moment. Prevent ecocide, stuff like that.

But alas, look at all the rumblings regarding renewable energy in 2013. The price of solar power continuing to drop like a rock, speculation that wind power can excel without renewal of government support, nearly all of new power generating capacity in America toward the ass-end of 2013 being renewables, and grid parity close to being reached in many places, if it hasn't already.

And that's just the, ahem, supply-side of things. What about things to do with this abundant, cheaper, minimally-polluting source of power down the line? Plug-in electric vehicles are finally, FINALLY working their way into the market, even here in the somewhat-red, upper right end of Florida. I've seen a Tesla parked at the big outdoor mall in my area. And yesterday I had to use the family car to get new tags and drop off recyclables, (I usually use a bus) and saw a Chevy Volt for the first time. Ford has a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric now, and as I understand it, BMW plans to get in the game, if they haven't already. And don't forget all the Priuses already on the road, proving many people are cool with stuff that's not straight-up gas-powered. Slowly but surely, it's happening. And the technology for batteries with longer life and range will only get better, the price will get cheaper, and demand for this spiffy new futursiticy mode of transportation will rise.

Too slow, you say? We always knew the transition would take time, and wouldn't be painless. Cue ALEC and the Kochs' attempts to label solar users as 'freeriders' or some shit like that, and have ridiculous taxes levied on them. Do NOT let this frighten you. Instead, see it for what it is: proof of fear and desperation on their part.

But will this allow humanity to cut emissions enough to allow the planet to stay under that 2°C rise? Maybe. I mean, if NEW YORK CITY can cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 19% in eight years, anything is possible. And another rumbling in 2013 has me optimistic about long-term sustainability: notions that nuclear fusion is back on track. And what to do with this new source of power? Easy. This new gizmo unveiled by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory back in May of 2013. Basically, it removes CO2 from the air, generates hydrogen fuel, and produces alkalinity to counteract ocean acidification. All for the proposed price tag of $50.00 per ton of CO2 removed, the lowest price yet attached to any proposed geoengineering tactic! I know I know, it's controversial topic in these parts. Believe me, dumbass ideas like huge space umbrellas and screwing with aerosols to let people keep driving their gas-guzzling sports cars reek of assiness. But a technique with the aim of simply cleaning up the collective mess humanity has made, while our collective behavior slowly but surely changes for the better, is a winner in my book.

So though we have a long, torturous road ahead of us if we wish to drag our teabagger neighbors kicking and screaming into a better, sustainable future, quiet progress was made this year. So don't get discouraged as we gear up to make sure it still doesn't all come crashing down anyway. Happy Fucking New Year.

EDIT: Wow, Community Spotlight? Whatever I'm doing right, I suppose I'd better keep doing it.

Originally posted to Infected Zebra on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 11:11 AM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We will stop using oil only... (4+ / 0-)

    when it costs more to remove from the ground than can be made back when it is sold.  That's a long time off.

    Electric cars are not the answer.  That will just perpetuate the need for more and more highways and money spent to maintain them.

    When we can make it more pleasurable to use a different type of transportation will things improve.

    We need more trains and faster trains.   I would love to be able to take a train to the ocean for a weekend or for a trip to LA for a week. .

    •  Rethinking transportation is already happening. (9+ / 0-)

      America's gasoline consumption and amount of miles driven annually has gone DOWN in recent years. DOWN! And I'm sure I'm not the only post-college hire in the country that's perfectly happy with using a bus, and is in no big rush to buy a new car. Plus we're already scraping the bottom of the barrel for fossil fuels (hydraulic fracking, etc).

      •  Great (0+ / 0-)

        I am also a bus rider but I don't see what that has to do with post-college?

      •  millenials like the city (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happyshadow, belinda ridgewood

        they find suburbs sterile lifeless and boring and want to
        spend their days in rich exciting cities.

      •  The Right-Wing Hates Buses and Trains (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Infected Zebra, the autonomist

        Primarily for one reason:  they're egalitarian by nature.  You may sit next to a trust fund baby or a homeless person and that's OK, but that's why they hate it.  It's also part of the "rugged individualism" narrative - what's more rugged and individualistic than cutting others off in traffic?  

        I participate in a local message board - great place to hone my skills for arguing with right-wingers - and to develop a thick skin.  One of my detractors there once posted a litany of charges against me - it was all the usual crap, i.e., I think I'm "better" than they are because I'm a liberal (as opposed to, I guess, them thinking they are better than us because they have more money).  But one thing really struck me in the usual bogus complaints:  the poor ass referred to himself and others of his ilk, almost as an aside, as "some of us who still believe in 'The American Dream.'  

        That was one telling Freudian slip right there:  Their American Dream is, as they say it, 'those who work hard and play by the rules will rise.'  What they don't say is the caveat which goes with it, which is:  'as long as they strive to keep their elbows out to knock aside the competetion.'

        Those of us even slightly left of center, like an old Clintonista like me, know full well what crap that is.  We refuse to jab elbows at our neighbors in our striving - plus we know 999 out of a thousand times it makes no difference anyway.

        The best comment about upward mobility ever was made by a business professor at the University of Arkansas named John Imhoff.  Those "Murphy's Laws" books call it "Imhoff's Law."  Here it is:  "any bureaucracy is just like a septic tank:  the really big chunks always rise to the top."  

        The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

        by Kangaroo on Thu Jan 02, 2014 at 01:07:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We are in the lull before the storm. (5+ / 0-)

    Gas prices relatively stable around 3-3.50, weather more and more irratic but not out of the norm, energy industry fighting back against individual solar, more and more people being displaced  from the economy and no political solutions or consensus.  America is due for a perfect storm event - the question is when, not if.

  •  Thank you for highlighting some of the progress (6+ / 0-)

    we've made, it's important to do so when the cost of keeping hope is extremely high for  those fighting the good fight, it's easy to lose it and then where will we be?

    I'm in deep blue CA where we have an abundance of organic produce available to us if we can afford it and several of my neighbors have the Chevy and the Leaf. Many of us have teamed with our local 350 chapter to outreach, educate and act the civil disobedience part of this climate change drama. We are fortunate here because there are many of us, but in the redder parts of the state and country, it must just suck.

    Happy (child is around) New Year to you too.

    "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass... it is about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Vivanne Grenne Shop Kos Katalogue!

    by remembrance on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 01:35:48 PM PST

  •  Like the positive outlook to start the New Year. (6+ / 0-)

    We have the ability to change our ways very quickly if we only have the will and courage to do it.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 02:38:27 PM PST

  •  the synergy between PV and EV Cars (4+ / 0-)

    will be  a huge stabilizer for the future.

    EV cars will soon be  a lot cheaper
    and with PV on your house you will be making
    not just power but fuel.

    •  Alas.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jplanner, belinda ridgewood

      I see myself renting studio apartments once I move away from where I am now. Getting those panels in apartment complexes, now THAT'S the kicker....

      •  that's me, now. Hard to be sustainable (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        belinda ridgewood

        in oil heated, un-insulated apartment in an 80 year old building. There is very little out there for apartment dwellers unless you understand enough to make your own portable equipment as well as have the money and the brawn (or can borrow both) to make it.

        •  Lease arrangements and Tax tied (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          belinda ridgewood

          where the array is tied to the tax system.

          •  if the landlord so chooses (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            patbahn, ladybug53

            and you can find/afford an apartment owned by him/her. I'm talking about how it works now not eventually. Hopefully eventually it will be better.

            Right now in Boston, supposedly one of the greenest cities believe it or not, a landlord by law needs to supply heating equipment that works. Period. No definition of "works". So, my eighty year old converted coal boiler that runs at 50% efficiency (which I'm told is an abysmal joke) passes, by law. Renters in my building pay for oil, the landlord pays for equipment. So, he has no incentive whatsoever to replace equipment before it outright dies. He is not interested in the many energy incentive programs that will pay for large portions of a new boiler because he feels it ties him down (they have rules like he can't sell the building for xx many years after, or can't raise the rent). He's a quantity not quality landlord--doesn't want to deal with different details or complications for each apartment/building that he has.

            So, if I run the boiler I do terrible things to the environment and spend more money to heat a one bedroom apartment to 60 degrees than my friend spends to heat her four bedroom house to 70 degrees. No skin off the landlord's nose...he's in it only for the money.

            Needless to say, I don't have my boiler on yet.

            •  if I sound bitter or annoyed it is because I'm (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OleHippieChick, ladybug53

              sitting here too cold. It's going to a historic low temperature tomorrow night...historic at least for the last 2-3 decades. IT should be interesting how cold it will get in here. I do have electric space heaters but those are expensive too. So we'll see...

              I think landlords should be required to have and keep up heating equipment to certain standard of energy efficiency. Having some or all of that energy be sustainable/renewable, like solar, seems like a far away dream.

              •  It's a hard problem of incentives. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ladybug53

                Either the rent control needs to allow for capital recovery,
                with a healthy profit.

                or

                the system needs to come in tied to the utility bills.

                It's hard to make the landlord invest, but for instance
                signing a 10 year agreement with solar city and letting
                the  vendor provide electricity paid for by the tenants.

                or

                Contract with the Oil company for 10 years of "Heat Service"
                where they put in the best equipment and the tenants
                pay X/month and Y/Degree/Day"

  •  Consider the economics of nukes. (2+ / 0-)

    There's the enduring coal-financed hoax that the standard well-engineered nukes have killed thousands of humans. That the systems we've built over the last 30 years involve black magic.

    Hokum is hokum. The salesmen for this fear mongering line are not experts.

    On the other hand, nukes provide off-peak capacity that can be used to achieve interesting objectives:

    -- The Livermore CO2 Machine

    "When powered by renewable electricity and consuming globally abundant minerals and saline solutions, such systems at scale might provide a relatively efficient, high-capacity means to consume and store excess atmospheric CO2 as environmentally beneficial seawater bicarbonate or carbonate," Rau said. "But the process also would produce a carbon-negative 'super green' fuel or chemical feedstock in the form of hydrogen."

    Most previously described chemical methods of atmospheric carbon dioxide capture and storage are costly, using thermal/mechanical procedures to concentrate molecular CO2 from the air while recycling reagents, a process that is cumbersome, inefficient and expensive.

    "Our process avoids most of these issues by not requiring CO2 to be concentrated from air and stored in a molecular form, pointing the way to more cost-effective, environmentally beneficial, and safer air CO2 management with added benefits of renewable hydrogen fuel production and ocean alkalinity addition," Rau said.

    But of course the excess capacity from a nuclear plant does the job just as well. And uranium is as plentiful as tin -- dirt cheap today and unlikely to rise by more than a factor of three or four at any time within a million years.

    Time the CO2 reduction for midnight-to-dawn and there's very very low cost.

    -- Electric Cars

    Are perfect for taking the excess capacity power from nukes. Day time is always the peak use period for power grids and the recharge cycles for cars can be set for midnight to dawn which is the bottom period.

    Already, today, a sedan takes $50 of uranium for a year's power. Transmission lins and billing cost a lot more than the fuel.

    CO2 impact is near zero. Same for heat. The used fuel for a whole plant for a year runs to about two cubic yards for the whole plant.

    In effect the electric cars make no environmental impact when they live off the midnight-to-dawn nuke power. Other than making the cars and making tires and such.

    Sometimes engineering reality is good for us.

  •  Thank you for the promising news. I have (0+ / 0-)

    been concerned about what would happen much too soon to our poor world.

    The acid oceans is so incredibly important.

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Thu Jan 02, 2014 at 02:14:59 PM PST

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