Monday, June 23, 2014

Clean Energy Running in Place

Don't despair but despite many positive things happening -- tighter restrictions on coal plants, growing use of wind and solar, greater awareness by the general public -- clean energy is not gaining ground on fossil fuels.

"All told, coal, oil, and gas made up 87 percent of the world's energy consumption in 2013. By contrast, low-carbon sources — including nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, and biomass — made up just 13 percent.

That ratio hasn't changed since 1999, as the University of Colorado's Roger Pielke Jr. has long pointed out. Fossil fuels have provided 87 percent of the world's energy for more than a decade — even as overall energy use grows," according to a story on Vox by Brad Plumer.

How is that possible? Hello off the charts booming Asian economy.

Renewable energy cannot keep up with demand for energy from fossil fuels in Asia. This means more coal is being used than ever and that carbon continues to pour into the atmosphere at ever faster rates. Asia alone accounted for over half of global carbon emissions last year.

There's work to be done.

Find solace in the fact that more and more people are aware, painfully aware, of the terrible costs of fossil fuels. Costs we all pay for. Think asthma, mercury in our food, extreme weather, drought, a more acidic ocean (bad for all living things), and sea level rise to name a few that are not relegated to the margins anymore. They are real and people understand what's happening.

This can only help us accelerate the pace of our adoption of clean energy.  Can we survive the pace of such adoption? Jury's out on that one. Depends on who you ask kind of thing.

Can you imagine a world where solar, wind, and tidal (or some untapped source) make up 87% of the world's energy consumption?

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Wandering Soul of Katharine the Great...White Shark

From Cape Cod to Miami, Katharine's travel log rivets me, especially since Katharine's a great white shark hugging the coast.

The awesome crew of Ocearch researchers tagged her with a radio transmitter in the cold waters off Massachusetts.

At fourteen feet, she took up most of the bay of their special vessel.  Her skin shimmered like something beautiful from another world.  On her face shaped like a bullet, her eyes seemed to reflect the darkest ocean depths, callous and cold.

The tag is attached to her dorsal fin and when she surfaces, it sends out a signal.  And Katharine surfaces a lot.  That gives researchers good data and a clear path of Katharine all the way down the Atlantic seaboard.

I tend to romanticize travel, and of the school that considers all travel good for the soul.  That's probably why my imagination soars with thoughts of Katharine's journey.

Did she hear the sounds of the squealing teenagers near the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore?  Did she smell the southern cooking along the Carolinas?  Did she run into the crowds -- surfers, paddlers, boaters -- enjoying the ocean every way possible along the Florida stretch?

The researchers say she is looking for food in almost everything she does.  She is a feeding machine, a top predator.  They call her species "the lion of the sea".

At several points along the way, she ventured very close to inlets and places where rivers meet the ocean with names like Ponce Inlet or Biscayne Bay.  This is where fish -- her food -- congregate as nutrients pour off the land.

We all know that sharks don't like to eat humans.  They usually bite them in a case of mistaken identity.  Still hard to get over "the bite" part of that scenario, however.

I wonder how many people, maybe swimming at dusk after a nice afternoon laying on the sand or out for a brisk morning kayak up the beach, never realized how close Katharine came to them.

Or perhaps a few did see her.  They spotted Katharine and watched wide eyed and breathless as her unmistakable silhouette silently glided past them.  Back on land, they found themselves unable to stop talking about her.

The pings show that Katharine moved past Key West and through the Dry Tortugas into the Gulf.  No one is sure where she'll go next.  I hope she finds what she's looking for but never stops swimming.

Orange line is Katharine's path. 

Osearch has a cool app.
News about Katharine.