Environment Forum

Cancun talks ignore intrusive aspect of climate change

pine beetle

One pesky aspect of climate change is that rising temperatures  and stronger storms may increase  invasions of non-native species to places that have no natural defenses against them.

The issue is mostly being ignored at the annual U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, California’s Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura said.

Just a few miles away from the talks an island called Isla Mujeres has been fighting an infestation of cactus moth swept there during a hurricane, storms that are expected to get stronger as a result of climate change.  The moth destroys prickly pears, and if it makes it to mainland –ferries full of tourists go to and fro Cancun to the island all day long — it would could harm more than the price of prickly pear fruit for your margarita.

Mexico is afraid it could reach the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts and hurt the 76 types of pricklies there and the 38 found only in Mexico. Many insects eat only the cacti and in turn many desert birds and mammals depend on those insects.

Pricklies are also an important food source in Mexico — you might have had them in a nopales soup or salad.

Survey finds electric car buyers motivated by environmental concerns, technology

RTXVC88.jpgWith the first mass-market electric cars hitting the streets this month in the United States, one question looms: Who will buy these cutting-edge vehicles?

General Electric commissioned a survey to find out and the results shed some light on what is likely to motivate different kinds of potential electric car buyers.

The global conglomerate, of course, has a vested interest in promoting the electric car market. GE has its corporate hands in everything from batteries to charging stations to smart grid technology that will be crucial to managing electric cars interaction with utilities.

California takes top spot in clean energy leadership rankings

IMG_1342.JPGAs the end of the year approaches, everyone seems to be making their lists. And, today, comes another one — U.S. states ranked for “clean energy leadership.”

Not surprisingly, California took the No. 1 spot, followed by Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington and Colorado. The bottom half of the Top 10 are New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Minnesota and New Jersey.

Clean Edge, a West Coast research and consulting firm, compiled the list based on 80 indicators, including a state’s renewable energy production, transportation systems, regulatory policies and incentives and financial and intellectual capital.

Defense Department to test concentrating photovoltaic technology

Skyline Solar Array_CenterLine - cropped_1The United States Department of Defense has signed a deal with Silicon Valley startup Skyline Solar to test its concentrating photovoltaic technology at military bases in California and Texas.

The Pentagon, one of the nation’s biggest consumers of energy, has emerged as a driver of new green technologies in an effort to wean itself of imported oil, reduce its carbon footprint and improve national security.

Earlier this year, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus pledged that within a decade the U.S. Navy would obtain half of its energy on land and sea from renewable sources. Back in 2007, the Air Force commissioned SunPower to build what was then the country’s largest photovoltaic power plant at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Abu Dhabi to use Silicon Valley startup’s software to manage energy use

RTR1L8X7.jpgHara, a Silicon Valley startup that makes environmental and energy efficiency software, has signed a deal to provide its technology to the state-run Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority.

The company on Monday said its technology will be used to monitor and manage the energy use of some 200,000 businesses and homes in Abu Dhabi. The water and electricity authority serves 1.4 million customers.

Hara, backed by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, claims Abu Dhabi will save $3 billion in costs over the next decade, forestalling the need to build several 500-megawatt natural gas-fired power plants.

Report: A dramatic drop in coal-fired power by 2035 in the U.S.

USA-UTILITIES/SOUTHERNCoal’s share of the United States’ electricity market will drop dramatically over the next two decades as supplies of low-cost natural gas expand and new pollution controls come into effect, according to a new study by Black & Veatch, the engineering and consulting giant.

The firm projects that coal-fired power plants will provide 25 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2035, down from 49 percent today. Natural gas-powered facilities’ share of electricity generation will rise to 40 percent, up from 21 percent. Renewable energy production will spike from four percent to 11 percent while nuclear generation increases slightly from 20 percent to 21 percent in 2035 under Black & Veatch’s scenario.

“Natural gas is a factor because it’s cheap at the moment,” Mark Griffith, a Black & Veatch managing director, said in an interview. “Over the past two years it has become a growing factor in the decision-making process.”

from Entrepreneurial:

Summit Series: Entrepreneurs set sail

Katharine Herrup is the Opinion Editor for Reuters.com. This is the second of a three-part series on Summit Series. Read the first part here.

The first major Summit Series event happened in May of 2010. Just after starting the company two years ago, the team of seven young men between the ages of 24 and 26, were able to get President Bill Clinton, media mogul Ted Turner and co-founder of the Carlyle Group David Rubinstein to come and speak. They were a part of an impressive group of 750 attendees.

“We hosted the country’s most innovative young minds and thought leaders from presidents to astronauts to social media gurus to photographers to celebrities,” Josh Zabar, one of the original seven members, said.

California green lights controversial desalinization plant


The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a controversial desalinization plant for the Monterey Peninsula on the state’s central coast that will solve the region’s water woes but at a high price.

The California American Water Company, known as Cal-Am, and local agencies will form a partnership to build and operate the $297.5 million desalinization project to replace supplies drawn from the Carmel River, the historical source of the region’s water.

To protect the Carmel River, the California Water Resources Control Board had ordered Cal-Am to stop diverting water by Dec. 31, 2016

Google launches mapping tool to monitor global environmental change

Mexico map 2.jpgGoogle unveiled a powerful new mapping tool at the Cancun climate talks on Thursday that allows scientists to monitor changes in the Earth’s environment as climate change accelerates.

The search giant’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, calls the new Google Earth Engine “a planetary-scale platform for environmental data and analysis.” It combines Google Earth’s maps with 25 years’ worth of Landsat satellite images and other data.

Just as important as that data goldmine is Google’s move to put its immense computing resources at scientists’ disposal. Google.org is donating 20 million computational hours over the next two years to developing countries so they can monitor their forests as the United Nation’s prepares to implement an initiative called REDD, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries.

Fabio goes green in electric car vs gas ads

plug in america.jpg

Fabio has gone electric?

The long-maned Italian model appears in a new commercial promoting electric cars that spoofs Apple’s Mac v. PC ads of years past.

“Hello, I’m an electric,” says a hip young actor in the spot made by Plug In America, a Southern California non-profit.

“And I’m socially responsible gasoline,” says his smarmy counterpart, who is surrounded by a film crew.