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The Uninhabitable World

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Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.
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Three years to safeguard our climate

Source: Adapted from UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2016 Climate Action Tracker and Climate Central - click for full size image

Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020.

In the past three years, global emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have levelled after rising for decades. This is a sign that policies and investments in climate mitigation are starting to pay off. The United States, China and other nations are replacing coal with natural gas and boosting renewable energy sources. There is almost unanimous international agreement that the risks of abandoning the planet to climate change are too great to ignore.
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Avoiding Climate Change Disaster

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A short paper on the actions we must take soon in order to meet a carbon budget target which will limit global warming to 2 degrees and to arrive at a viable sustainable energy scenario thereafter.
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Quantifying the Narrowing Net-energy Pathways to a Global Energy Transition

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'Planning the appropriate renewable energy (RE) installation rate should balance two partially contradictory objectives: substituting fossil fuels fast enough to stave-off the worst consequences of climate change while maintaining a sufficient net energy flow to support the world’s economy. The upfront energy invested in constructing a RE infrastructure subtracts from the net energy available for societal energy needs, a fact typically neglected in energy projections. Modeling feasible energy transition pathways to provide different net energy levels we find that they are critically dependent on the fossil fuel emissions cap and phase-out profile and on the characteristic energy return on energy invested of the RE technologies. The easiest pathway requires installation of RE plants to accelerate from 0.12 TW p yr –1 in 2013 to peak between 7.3 and 11.6 TW p yr –1 in the late 2030s, for an early or a late fossil-fuel phase-out respectively, in order for emissions to stay within the recommended CO 2 budget’.

So the early fossil-fuel phase-out requires the installation of RE plants to accelerate by 7.3/0.12 = 61-fold and the late phase-out by 11.6/0.12 = 97-fold. Further delay would mean that there is no solution.

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Time to listen to the ice scientists about the Arctic death spiral

A photograph of the Arctic ice, Patrick Kelley, http://www.flickr.com/photos/usgeologicalsurvey/4370267907/in/set-72157623467470824CC by 2.0
Ice scientists are mostly cheerful and pragmatic. Like many other researchers coolly observing the rapid warming of the world, they share a gallows humour and are cautious about entering the political fray. Not Peter Wadhams. The former director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and professor of ocean physics at Cambridge has spent his scientific life researching the ice world, or the cryosphere, and in just 30 years has seen unimaginable change. When in 1970 he joined the first of what would be more than 50 polar expeditions, the Arctic sea ice covered around 8m sq km at its September minimum. Today, it hovers at around 3.4m, and is declining by 13% a decade. In 30 years Wadhams has seen the Arctic ice thin by 40%, the world change colour at its top and bottom and the ice disappear in front of his eyes.
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New tool can calculate renewable energy output anywhere in the world

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Researchers have created an interactive web tool to estimate the amount of energy that could be generated by wind or solar farms at any location. The tool, called Renewables.ninja, aims to make the task of predicting renewable output easier for both academics and industry. The creators, from Imperial College London and ETH Zürich, have already used it to estimate current Europe-wide solar and wind output, and companies such as the German electrical supplier RWE are using it to test their own models of output.
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Vestas tests four-rotor concept turbine

Illustration of the multi-rotor concept demonstration turbine. Image source, Vestas
DENMARK: Future technologies will be given a jolt of fresh thinking as Vestas prepares for a year of testing and validating a 900kW multi-rotor concept turbine, which is being installed near Roskilde, Denmark, this week. Eize de Vries talked exclusively to Vestas engineers about the potential of the concept turbine.

It is set to become a blueprint for larger-scale future products for specific markets, and the company plans to test core scaling rules, risks and opportunities, and transport and installation challenges in new markets.
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Go-ahead Given for World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm: 1.8-GW Hornsea Project Two

Havvindparken Sheringham Shoal (Photo: Harald Pettersen/Statoil) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“Overall we see a great future for offshore wind in the UK for the right type of projects,” a DONG Energy spokesperson told Renewable Energy World. “At DONG Energy we currently have four projects under construction in the UK, which will provide another 2.7 gigawatts of offshore wind power.”

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If it's jobs they want, Labour and the unions must back renewables, not Hinkley C

If the unions were so bothered about jobs, they should be supporting renewables, not nuclear. But could it be that those are the 'wrong kind of jobs' - not unionised ones? Photo: Centre for Alternative Technology (www.cat.org.uk) via Flickr (CC BY).

Four of Britain's major unions are big supporters of nuclear power, writes Ian Fairlie - all because of the jobs. Now Labour's shadow energy minister has joined them in backing Hinkley C - even though renewable energy is a far better job-creator than nuclear, and already employs three times more people.

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Offshore wind powers ahead as prices drop 30% below nuclear

Offshore wind turbine under construction at Burbo Bank, North Sea. Photo: The Danish Wind Industry Association / Vindmølleindustrien via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

The cost of offshore wind power in the North Sea is 30% lower than that of new nuclear, writes Kieran Cooke - helped along by low oil and steel prices, reduced maintenance and mass production. By 2030 the sector is expected to supply 7% of Europe's electricity.

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British share of renewables setting records (24.7 % of Electricity)

Pie chart showing 24.7% of uk electricity produced from renewables

A provisional estimate from the British government shows the amount of electricity generated from renewable energy set a record last year.

A monthly update from the British Department of Energy and Climate Change finds the share of electricity generated from renewable energy was a record 24.7 percent last year, which marked an increase of 5.6 percent from the previous year.

On a quarterly basis, the DECC said fourth quarter data show the share of renewables increased year-on-year by 5 percent.

"The increase reflects increased capacity, particularly in solar photovoltaics and onshore and offshore wind," the government's report said.

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Nuclear Insecurities

Nuclear Insecurities
A short document 'Nuclear Insecurities' outlining ten that would result from new nuclear plants such as Hinkley Point C.
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Is China's Role in a UK Nuclear Plant Really a Cybersecurity Risk

Hinkley Point A Power Station, Rick Crowley - geograph.org.uk - 1951616.jpg https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Last week, the UK delayed plans to build the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, which would have been the first nuclear plant to be built in the UK in 20 years.
While the government did not give a specific reason for the hold-up, one reason suggested is that it has reservations over China’s role in the construction. The state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation has agreed to a 33 percent stake in the project, and some suggest that the new British government may be concerned about the cybersecurity of the plant. Nick Timothy, Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief of staff, has previously said that experts think the Chinese government could use its involvement to introduce vulnerabilities into systems, which would allow it to tamper with Britain's energy production in the future.
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Nuclear accident in New Mexico ranks among the costliest in U.S. history

Bécs 219	János Korom: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations.

But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term  cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

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Fukushima reactor makers not liable: Japan court

IAEA fact-finding team leader Mike Weightman examines Reactor Unit 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. IAEA Imagebank Photo Credit: Greg Webb / IAEA https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

A Japanese court on Wednesday turned down a class action lawsuit seeking damages from nuclear plant makers Toshiba, Hitachi and GE over the Fukushima meltdown disaster, the plaintiffs, one of the companies and a report said. About 3,800 claimants in the suit, hailing from Japan and 32 other countries including the United States, Germany and South Korea, had sought largely symbolic compensation from the nuclear power plant manufacturers.

Under Japanese liability law, nuclear plant providers are usually exempt from damage claims in the event of an accident, leaving operators to face legal action. The plaintiffs' lawyers, however, had argued that that violated constitutional protections on the pursuit of happy, wholesome and cultured livelihoods.

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Koide Hiroaki: an insider's exposé of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Hiroaki Koide. Source Kamakichi, Wikimedia commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Koide Hiroaki has spent his entire career as a nuclear engineer, and has become a central figure in Japan's movement for the abolition of nuclear power plants.

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