Last week I presented you with a smorgasbord of environmental news.  This week I’m going to display a variety of good and bad news that has been published in the last number of days.  I’ll start with the good news that should give us some level of optimism that we have the ability to do something effective to alter our society in order to maintain some level of stability and normalcy in the planet’s climate.

First, there’s this from Canary Media on October 13th:


The Unstoppably Good News About Clean Energy

“the shift to clean energy has become unstoppable and that it will be the dominant force shaping financial markets and geopolitics in the 21st century. He argues that we are on the front end of a massive, precipitous wave of change to rival the Industrial Revolution — one that will unfold even if policy support is weak and erratic, purely on the strengths of economics and innovation.
There are no fundamental limits to the spread of zero-carbon energy. There’s more than enough renewable energy, accessible with today’s technology, to supply the world’s energy needs. 
Not only do we know how to get there, it is where we are headed, based on current market and technology trends. The key to succeeding on climate change is simply accelerating what is already underway, pushing a rolling boulder a little faster.”


“we’re already getting solar PV being produced between $10 and $20 per megawatt-hour in certain favored locations, so it is, in fact, already incredibly cheap. But the point is that this cheap energy source is going to get cheaper and bigger and spread globally. And when it’s followed up by these other technologies that are also on learning curves, it will provide us with the energy that we need at much lower cost.”


Boy, if you want to see some satisfying news, click on the link to this article because there is SO much good stuff to absorb in it.  

Then there’s this news that will surprise you as it did me!  How many times have I (and you too?) heard that this couldn’t be done.  And now, we going to do what this following article now makes sound like, well yeah, duh…


From E&E News 10/14/2021

Oil Major Plans First U.S. Solar Steel Plant

“A new steel mill in Colorado will be the world’s first to run mostly on solar power, according to the project’s sponsors.”
“The 300-megawatt solar plant, called Bighorn Solar, is comprised of more than 750,000 solar panels and will be fully operational next month. It is sited mostly on 1,800 acres of land owned by Evraz at the plant in Pueblo, Colo., south of Colorado Springs. The partners claim that it will be one of the country’s largest solar plants with a single customer.
… the plant that will make rails for trains.”
“The power plant-factory duo joins a short list of heavy industrial companies offsetting their carbon emissions by co-locating with renewable energy plants. Another is a small steel plant run by Nucor Corp. in Missouri, which gets its energy from wind turbines (Energywire, Nov. 15, 2019).”


Back to good automotive news, I’ve reported on the enormously strong reception that is being given to the Ford 150EV. Well there’s now this from Bloomberg Hyperdrive 10/15/2021:


More than 150,000 prospective buyers have paid for nonbinding reservations, including many who’ve never owned a truck, or a Ford. As a result of the reception, the carmaker is doubling capacity at its factory in Dearborn, Michigan, before the pickup launches next spring.


And also from the same publication:


Porsche’s debut electric model has pulled ahead of its combustion-era flagship on the sales charts. The German sports-car maker said Friday it’s delivered 28,640 Taycans this year through September, a few hundred units ahead of the 911. Volkswagen’s most profitable brand added a more spacious version of the vehicle to its lineup this year and expects electrified vehicles to make up more than 80% of global deliveries in 2030. A battery-powered version of the Macan SUV will hit showrooms in 2023.”


It’s not just cars that are seeing a metamorphosis.


From E&E News 10/14/2021:

Electric Mowers Poised to Cut Down Gas Models in Calif.

California’s marketplace for electric lawn mowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers is set to expand quickly to meet the state’s new law phasing out most small gas engines in three years…”We estimate that more than half of the equipment in the state is already zero emission,”


On many occasions I’ve written about how seemingly obscure circumstances can have an enormous impact on our future. This particular issue is one of which I have made you aware: the electric grid and the rules that govern it.  The following article is way above my pay grade but I’ve copied the relevant overview being that many of the problems we need to resolve that are impeding our transition to a fossil free electric future are not technical but rather being impeded by our arcane regulatory system.  A few tweaks can have an enormous impact.  If you can access the E&E subscription news you can figure this out for yourself in you’re interested in the details.


This one from E&E News also on 10/15/2021:

FERC Weighs Grid Plan That Could Revolutionize Clean Energy

“Supporters of opening wholesale markets nationwide to demand response say it would go a long way in boosting all types of zero-carbon resources.”


One more very positive development reported in E&E News on 10/14/2021.  Two of the richest people in the world are working together to dismiss the narrative that switching to a fossil free future is impossible and are working with industry partners to show how it can be done.  Our future is not simply one of capability but of will.  


Gates-Bezos Group Issues Plan for Low-CO2 Steel, Ships, Planes

“Several of the world’s largest airlines, shipping companies and steelmakers released a series of road maps yesterday for slashing carbon emissions over the next decade and beyond, aiming to jump-start a new era of clean energy policy.
The road maps were drafted by experts tapped by the Mission Possible Partnership, a 400-company coalition backed in part by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and Inc. executive Jeff Bezos. They detail emissions-reduction strategies for aviation, shipping and steel, which are usually ranked among the most difficult sectors to decarbonize.
For all three industries, the road maps call for titanic global investments in scaling up new, low-carbon fuels through 2030 in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”


Now the bad news lest you get thinking that I am getting myopic in my old age. Let’s not forget that we are heading for a world of hurt and the faster we make changes the less hurt we’ll have.  


From the Guardian 10/14/2021:

The climate Disaster is Here

Earth is already becoming unlivable. Will governments act to stop this disaster from getting worse?

““We have built a civilization based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore,” as Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy, puts it.
The world has already heated up by around 1.2C, on average, since the preindustrial era, pushing humanity beyond almost all historical boundaries. Cranking up the temperature of the entire globe this much within little more than a century is, in fact, extraordinary, with the oceans alone absorbing the heat equivalent of five Hiroshima atomic bombs dropping into the water every second.”
“Until now, human civilization has operated within a narrow, stable band of temperature. Through the burning of fossil fuels, we have now unmoored ourselves from our past, as if we have transplanted ourselves onto another planet. The last time it was hotter than now was at least  125,000 years ago, while the atmosphere has more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in it than any time in the past two million years, perhaps more.
Since 1970, the Earth’s temperature has raced upwards faster than in any comparable period. The oceans have heated up at a rate not seen in at least 11,000 years. “We are conducting an unprecedented experiment with our planet,” said Hayhoe. “The temperature has only moved a few tenths of a degree for us until now, just small wiggles in the road. But now we are hitting a curve we’ve never seen before.””
“This year has provided bitter evidence that even current levels of warming are disastrous, with astounding floods in Germany and China, Hades-like fires from Canada to California to Greece and rain, rather than snow, falling for the first time at the summit of a rapidly melting Greenland. “No amount of global warming can be considered safe and people are already dying from climate change,” said Amanda Maycock, an expert in climate dynamics at the University of Leeds.
A “heat dome” that pulverized previous temperature records in the US’s Pacific northwest in June, killing hundreds of people as well as a billion sea creatures roasted alive in their shells off the coast, would’ve been “virtually impossible” if human activity hadn’t heated the planet, scientists have calculated, while the German floods were made nine times more likely by the climate crisis. “The fingerprint of climate change on recent extreme weather is quite clear,” said Michael Wehner, who specializes in climate attribution at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “But even I am surprised by the number and scale of weather disasters in 2021.””
“Beyond 1.5C, the heat in tropical regions of the world will push societies to the limits, with stifling humidity preventing sweat from evaporating and making it difficult for people to cool down. Extreme heatwaves could make parts of the Middle East too hot for humans to endure, scientists have found, with rising temperatures also posing enormous risks for China and India.”


Sorry to leave you with this frightening view of the future.  The fact is that we’ve already baked in a vastly altered future. If we act now, finally, and with haste we can have some control and impact on how bad it will be.  We simply must demand that our politicians, regulators and business leaders (especially those that control the flow of capital) act NOW with total urgency to change our headlong path to catastrophe.  

We CAN make this happen if we want to.  


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