Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Davos


It hasn’t been this bad since the 1999-2000 meeting. As President Trump might say, they could do with some of that good ol’ global warming. Then again, if you go to a Swiss ski resort in January…

The global economy and geopolitical tensions are taking a back seat to a more immediate problem at this year’s Davos summit of political and business leaders: heavy snow is burying the venue, as Reuters reports.

High in the Swiss alps on Monday, on the eve of the opening sessions, many of the roughly 3,000 delegates struggled to reach the ski resort. Part of the main train line into Davos had been buried in snow over the weekend, forcing people onto buses, and helicopters were disrupted by poor visibility.

Some pre-summit meetings were canceled or delayed as the first waves of delegates waded through snow-blanketed streets with luggage, looking for their hotels, or had to wait for road crews to dig their limousines out of drifts.

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We don’t normally do press releases at the Talkshop, but this one might be interesting if we can work out what it really means. The fact that they refer to grid stability implies it’s an issue in Germany at least.

Automobile, home and power supply combined to form an intelligent energy network: In a pilot project the Audi Smart Energy Network for the first time interacts with the power grid.

This marks a major advance for grid stability, claims Audi’s press release.

As part of a research project, Audi is running a pilot project with households in the Ingolstadt area and the Zurich region in conjunction with other partners.

This involves combining various sizes of photovoltaic systems with stationary storage batteries. The control software by the Zurich start-up company Ampard distributes the solar power intelligently based on the current or plannable demand from car, household and heating system.

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One local complained: ‘Residents used to be able to watch the sun setting over the sea at Blackpool. Now all they can see is a mountain of muck.’ Not to mention the foul smell.

Clayton Hall, a supposedly ‘green’ electricity plant in Lancashire, has been generating misery for months – by shrouding thousands of nearby homes in a stinking fog of poisonous gas, writes David Rose in The Mail on Sunday.

The owners of the plant at the Clayton Hall landfill site in Lancashire, sandwiched between the commuter towns of Leyland and Chorley, a golf course and pretty, rolling hills, have received about £1.7 million in green energy subsidies since it opened in 2010.

These levies are added directly to consumers’ household bills. The firm has made a further £1.7 million from selling power to the grid.

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Image credit: Siberian Times


Claims that everywhere apart from the Eastern USA was warmer than ‘normal’ this winter turn out to be wide of the mark, in parts of Siberia at least.

The thermometer in a remote Siberian village known as the coldest inhabited place on earth has broken as temperatures plunged to near-record depths, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The public device, which was installed in Oymyakon as a tourist attraction, recorded -62C, before malfunctioning this week.

Meanwhile the Siberian Times reports that some locals had readings as low as -67C – in touching distance of the record -67.7C, which was logged in the village in February 1933.

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Image credit: BBC


Looks like UK councils have better things to do than worry about providing charging points for a few electric car owners. There are no council-run filling stations after all.

Just five councils across England have taken advantage of a government backed scheme for funding electric car charge points, ministers have revealed.

Jesse Norman and Claire Perry, respectively ministers for transport and climate change, have written to local authorities urging them to take advantage of the On-Street Residential Charge point Scheme, which was launched in 2016, reports Utility Week.

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frack-sectionThe last legal challenge has failed and the initial results impress the boss, so it’s full steam ahead for gas drilling tests in 2018.

Fracking firm Cuadrilla Resources said it has discovered a “very sizeable quantity” of natural gas at its exploration site in Lancashire as it prepares to drill what will be the UK’s first horizontal well in shale rock, reports City AM.

The fresh data, acquired by recovering some 375 feet of core samples from a well at the Preston New Road site, suggests the rock quality is excellent for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and holds a high natural gas content in several zones within the shale.

Cuadrilla said it is “exceptionally well positioned to drill its first two horizontal wells into the gas rich zones”.

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Image credit: Andrew Holt


Parts of the Alps have seen a return to 1978 weather conditions according to this report, with some places only accessible by helicopter.

Hundreds of roads across the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland were closed, cutting off resorts and villages, after the kind of snowfall that only comes once every 30 years, as Euronews reports.

Tens of thousands of people have been stranded across the Alps after ‘once-in-a-generation’ weather dumped almost 2 meters of snow on some ski resorts in less than 48 hours.

Schools and nurseries have been closed and roads cut off after the Savoie department in France was placed on red alert – the highest warning for avalanches.

Tignes and Val d’Isere have been in lockdown with tourists and residents confined to the area.

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Construction of Chinese ‘solar road’


For less cost they could have put the panels at the side of the road, angled towards the sun.

Road built from solar panels targeted by gang thought to be trying to steal technology, reports the South China Morning Post.

The one-kilometre stretch of photovoltaic highway – built of solar panels which cars can drive over – opened for testing in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province on December 28.

During a routine inspection last Tuesday, staff found that it had been vandalised and a portion of it was missing, Qilu Evening News reported.

A narrow 1.8-metre panel had been removed and seven surrounding panels damaged by the thieves.

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Snow disruption in the USA, December 2017 [credit: BBC]


Climate contortionists must be working overtime to explain how this could fit into their models showing ever milder northern winters under supposedly dire man-made warming.

Bitter cold continues to blanket the northern United States and Canada as forecasters warn that the deep freeze will continue into the start of 2018, reports BBC News.

International Falls in the US state of Minnesota – the self-proclaimed “Icebox of the Nation” – saw temperatures drop to -37F (-38.3C).

New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, home of the “worst weather in the world”, set a new low record at -34F (-36.6C).

Parts of Canada are colder than the North Pole or Mars, officials say.

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Electric bike crackdown in New York

Posted: December 26, 2017 by oldbrew in Legal, News, Travel
Tags:

Electric delivery bike [credit: electricbike.com]


Pollution-free pizza deliveries are too racy for NYC it seems.

Cheap, electric bicycles have made life a lot easier for New York City’s legions of restaurant delivery workers, but the party may be over in the New Year, says Phys.org.

City officials are promising a crackdown on e-bikes, which may be loved by environmentalists and the largely poor, immigrant workforce that relies on them, but are loathed by many drivers and pedestrians who think they are a menace.

Under city law, the bikes are legal to own and sell, but riding them on the street can lead to a fine of up to $500.

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Volkswagen camper van


Looks like a classic case of ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say’ unless he’s planning a motor museum.

For a man on a mission to ban petrol- and diesel-guzzling cars, French environment Minister Nicolas Hulot is himself strangely fond of combustion engine vehicles – he has no fewer than eight of them, reports the Daily Telegraph.

His green credentials have been sorely tested after his fleet was revealed this weekend when the assets of President Emmanuel Macron’s ministers were published by High Authority for Transparency in Public Office (HATVP).

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Star system has record eight exoplanets

Posted: December 14, 2017 by oldbrew in Astronomy, Astrophysics, News
Tags: ,

Kepler Space Telescope [credit: NASA]


The two nearest planets to the star Kepler-90 (90b and 90c) are very close to a 5:4 (i.e. first order) orbit ratio.

Nasa finds a distant star circled by eight planets, equal to the complement in our own Solar System, BBC News reports.

It’s the largest number of worlds ever discovered in a planetary system outside our own.

The star known as Kepler-90, is just a bit hotter and larger than the Sun; astronomers already knew of seven planets around it.

The newly discovered world is small enough to be rocky, according to scientists.

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Image credit: BBC


Before anyone asks – ‘UTS are also adapting the emerging technology to spot crocodiles for a program in northern Australia.’

High-tech shark-spotting drones are patrolling dozens of Australian beaches this summer to quickly identify underwater predators and deliver safety devices to swimmers and surfers faster than traditional lifesavers, reports Phys.org.

As hundreds of people lined up in early morning sun to take part in a recent ocean swimming race at Bilgola beach north of Sydney, they did so in the knowledge the ocean had been scanned to keep them safe.

“I think it is really awesome,” 20-year-old competitor Ali Smith told AFP. “It is cool to see technology and ocean swimming getting together, and hopefully more people will feel safer and get involved.”

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Closed due to snow
Image credit: BBC


A shock to the system for many Europeans after years of being told that the world is supposed to be warming at an alarming rate, so they must pay billions for decades to try and buy a ‘better’ climate.

The heaviest snowfall in four years in Britain caused travel mayhem Sunday, while more than 300 flights were cancelled at Germany’s busiest airport and a ferry ran aground in the French port of Calais, reports Phys.org.

The heaviest snowfall in four years in Britain caused travel mayhem Sunday, while more than 300 flights were cancelled at Germany’s busiest airport and a ferry ran aground in the French port of Calais.

Hundreds of air passengers were stranded in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, as well as Britain, and many took to Twitter to complain.

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Arctic Northern Sea Route


The risks of underestimating seasonal Arctic sea ice catch up with a group of over-optimistic Russian sailors.

The 35 year old vessel «Chukotka+» carried several thousand tons of oil and independently tried to make it across the Northern Sea Route, says the Barents Observer.

Little is known about the incident which probably could have triggered a serious accident along Russia’s icy northern coast.

According to Rosatom, the state company operating the fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, the «Chukotka+» on the 30th October entered the waters of the Northern Sea Route. The ship sailed alone and aimed for a voyage across the Arctic route without icebreaker assistance.

It was not successful.

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The gloves are off in the polar bear wars, as Dr Susan Crockford launches a strong response to a recent unfair and malicious attack on her reputation by a group of climate scientists.

polarbearscience

Today I sent a letter to the editors of the journal Bioscience requesting retraction of the shoddy and malicious paper by Harvey et al. (Internet blogs, polar bears, and climate-change denial by proxy) published online last week.

The letter reveals information about the workings of the polar bear expert inner circle not known before now, so grab your popcorn.

Harvey et al. 2018 in press climate denial by proxy using polar bears_Title

I have copied the letter below, which contains emails obtained via FOIA requests to the US Geological Survey and the US Fish and Wildlife Service by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, E&E Legal, and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (USFWS request; USGS request) and sent to me by lawyer Chris Horner in 2014, unsolicited. I reveal some of them now, with his permission (most of the emails are boring, involving mostly technical topics not relevant to anything, as might be expected).

The emails in…

View original post 6,096 more words

Guangzhou, China


If there were prizes for irony, this would have to be a contender. Does the coal generate its electricity?

China, already the world’s biggest electric-vehicle market, is now using battery power to fuel cargo shipping as well, reports Quartz Media.

A Chinese company has built a 2,000 metric-ton (2,204 tons) all-electric cargo ship, which was launched from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in mid-November, according to state-run newspaper People’s Daily.

The 70-meter long (229 feet) and 14-meter wide (45 feet) ship is equipped with over 1,000 lithium batteries, with a total capacity of 2,400 kilowatt-hours.

By comparison, Tesla’s Model X is equipped with a 100-kWh battery that allows it to drive nearly 570 kilometers (350 miles).

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“There are chaotic variations internal to the climate system, and that is something that has been totally swept under the rug”, comments Dr Roy Spencer in this GWPF report.

U.S. EPA appears to be close to unveiling its program to question mainstream research on global warming, referred to as a “red team” exercise, and several candidates for that role cast doubt on the extent of climate change at the Heritage Foundation yesterday.

One theme they expressed is that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels should no longer be considered a pollutant but instead an essential ingredient in maintaining a global population boom.

They described potentially catastrophic impacts of human-caused warming as “alarmism.”

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New Sentinel satellite tracks dirty air

Posted: December 2, 2017 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Emissions, News, pollution

Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite [image credit: ESA]


This looks like a big advance in monitoring the contents of the Earth’s atmosphere, whether ‘dirty’ or not.

It’s been working less than a month but already the UK-Dutch-built Sentinel-5P satellite is returning spectacular new views of Earth’s atmosphere, says BBC News.

The spacecraft was designed to make daily global maps of the gases and particles that pollute the air.

The first sample images released by mission scientists show plumes of nitrogen dioxide flowing away from power plants and traffic-choked cities.

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Getting any response from 13 billion miles away is quite a feat.
But what will the aliens make of Chuck Berry?

Engineers experience “joy and incredulity” as a successful test extends the life of the farthest human-made object from Earth, reports Sky News.

NASA has been able to extend the life of one of its space probes travelling 13 billion miles from Earth by firing up dormant thrusters not used for 37 years.

Voyager 1 was launched in September 1977 and is the only human-made object in interstellar space – the environment between the stars.

But after four decades of exploration which have taken in fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, engineers found that the primary thrusters which orient the space probe had severely degraded.

So, in an attempt to keep Voyager 1 operable, NASA tested four thrusters on the back side of the spacecraft which have not been used 1980.

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