Earth News

Leading Scientists Promote Need For Nuclear To Slow Global Warming

Four of the world’s leading climate scientists have published an open letter “to those influencing environmental policy” stating that wind and solar energy simply won’t be enough to halt the slide of global warming, and they’re asking environmentalists to support the growth of safe nuclear energy as a means to weaning society off its reliance upon fossil fuels. 

The letter was written by Dr. Ken Caldeira, a senior scientist in the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution, Dr. Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. James Hansen, a renowned climate scientist at the Columbia University Earth Institute, and Dr. Tom Wigley, a climate scientist from the University of Adelaide and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems,” they write, adding that “continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.”

Authors of the letter. From left to right: James Hansen, Tom Wigley, Kerry Emanuel, and Ken Caldeira.

Their case is a strong one, made not least because of their reputations and qualifications. The development of wind and solar energy as alternative energy solutions has been a central tenant of CleanTechnica’s coverage over the past few years, not to mention a significant driver of industry in countries like China, Japan, India, Germany, and the United States.

In the US alone, both wind and solar have continued to make huge strides. A recent report by the EPA showed that wind energy has dramatically cut global warming pollution in the US. While recent numbers released by NPD Solarbuzz at the beginning of October showed solar PV installations reaching a record high of 9 GW for Q3’2013.

It’s all good growth — good development, installation, publicity, public and political support. But as the authors of the letter note, “renewables like wind and solar and biomass” simply “cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires” in time to make a significant impact on the rising global temperature.

“While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power.”

The author’s are quick and repetitive in their need to reassure the intended recipients that the need for nuclear is a need for ‘safe’ nuclear, calling for “the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems” and acknowledging that “today’s nuclear plants are far from perfect.”

“Fortunately, passive safety systems and other advances can make new plants much safer. And modern nuclear technology can reduce proliferation risks and solve the waste disposal problem by burning current waste and using fuel more efficiently. Innovation and economies of scale can make new power plants even cheaper than existing plants.”

The call for an alternate solution to a carbon-heavy energy system is obvious. For several years now, politicians, energy advocates, and those like myself have repeatedly called for a focus on renewable energy. Not only does it benefit the environment and wean us off our reliance upon atmospheric-destroying fossil fuels, but it’s arrival on the industrial scene has meant it is an economically sound and beneficial solution, allowing many companies around the world — not to mention thousands of homeowners — to divest themselves from the utility monopoly.

The call came to late, however, and with 2020 nearing ever closer and a 2- to 3-degrees Celsius increase over industrial revolution temperatures looms on the horizon, growing ever large. Despite the press dedicated to wind and solar’s growth, it is all relative — the growth is impressive, but it is nowhere near what is needed to banish fossil fuel-driven energy.

“While there will be no single technological silver bullet, the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as one among several technologies that will be essential to any credible effort to develop an energy system that does not rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump,” the authors note. “With the planet warming and carbon dioxide emissions rising faster than ever, we cannot afford to turn away from any technology that has the potential to displace a large fraction of our carbon emissions.”

The authors are well aware of the spectre of nuclear disasters, but are clear in sidelining those fears where they belong: “Quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuels.”

In the end, it is public calls for action such as this letter — available to read in full here — that will spark public interest and create political dialogue. The key is to not allow these public calls to be sidelined as inconvenient.

Leading Scientists Promote Need For Nuclear To Slow Global Warming was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 other subscribers: RSS | Facebook | Twitter.


Dallas Goes All-In On Green Building With Mandatory Regulations

Looks like America has a new contender for “Greenest City” – at least when it comes to green buildings – and it’s probably not where you’d expect.

Dallas, Texas implemented mandatory minimum green building regulations on October 1st in an aggressive effort to cut citywide power and water consumption en route to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The regulations are the final step in a five-year implementation of the Dallas Green Building Construction Ordinance, cover all new residential and commercial buildings, and create a comprehensive green building standard across the city.

Dallas green building

Dallas skyline image via Shutterstock

Green Building Tackles Energy, Water, Building Waste

All new construction projects proposed in Dallas must now meet minimum certification requirements from one of three established standards: Green Built Texas, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

Since drought is such an important issue in Texas, the new regulations focus on water preservation – especially when it comes to single-family homes. At least 70% of the built area for homes (excluding areas under a roof) must be permeable or capture water runoff, homes must use drip irrigation for bedding areas of landscaping, and must include high-efficiency fixtures.

Commercial buildings are also expected to do their part, with a 20% water use reduction goal, restrictions on outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution, and cool roof or green roofs requirement to cut urban heat island effects.

The construction process is also getting a lot greener with requirements to divert a 50% minimum percentage of waste material is from landfills as well as source 45% of building components from recycled, recyclable, bio-based, or local materials. In addition, developers will have to attend training classes and pass a certification exam to receive green builder certification.

While the new regulations may be comprehensive, green buildings aren’t new to Dallas. The city is already home to over 140 LEED-certified buildings, including 23 LEED-certified municipal government facilities, has 59 million square feet of Energy Star-certified buildings, and Texas placed second with over 36 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings in the US Green Building Council’s 2012 state rankings.

Green Business Too?

But even though green building will help improve Dallas’ environment, the new regulations could also help boost the regional economy. Green building is expected to top $ 248 billion in revenue nationwide by 2016, and the green home-building market could be worth $ 114 billion by 2016.

Considering Texas now has the third-largest concentration of LEED professionals in America and building asset values rise when builders make sustainable investments, Dallas’ green building mandate isn’t just an environmentally friendly move – it might just be an incredibly savvy green business push, too.

Dallas Goes All-In On Green Building With Mandatory Regulations was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 other subscribers: RSS | Facebook | Twitter.


BP tells 5th Circuit to throw out private oil spill settlement if business … –

BP tells 5th Circuit to throw out private oil spill settlement if business
A 3-judge panel of the appeals court is considering whether to throw out a multi-billion-dollar settlement of private claims against BP involving the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. (Mark Schleifstein, | The Times-Picayune). Print.

and more »

oil spill – read more

Proposal to move fracking waste on barges

Pennsylvania is home to one of the largest formations in the United States; the Marcellus Shale. Fracking is what allows natural gas to be produced so cheaply in America, but it also causes a huge amount of waste in the form of contaminated water …
fracking wastewater – read more

Court Hears Arguments on BP Oil Spill Settlement – ABC News

Washington Post

Court Hears Arguments on BP Oil Spill Settlement
ABC News
A federal appeals court heard dueling arguments Monday on whether a judge should have approved BP's multibillion-dollar settlement for compensating victims of its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Theodore Olson, a lawyer for BP, said the class
Appeals court to hear BP's objections to oil spill settlementCBS News
BP tells 5th Circuit to throw out private oil spill settlement if business
Gulf oil spill: Court to hear arguments on BP settlementNaples Daily News

all 53 news articles »

oil spill – read more

Ancient Antarctica’s Forests Featured Weird Trees, Wood Fossils Show – Huffington Post

Sahara Samay

Ancient Antarctica's Forests Featured Weird Trees, Wood Fossils Show
Huffington Post
DENVER — Strange forests with some features of today's tropical trees once grew in Antarctica, new research finds. Some 250 million years ago, during the late Permian and early Triassic, the world was a greenhouse, much hotter than it is today
Antarctica harboured strange forests 250 million years ago?Zee News

all 4 news articles »

antarctica – read more