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Trump Takes Advantage of Europe's Fossil Fuel Dependence

Energy
Trump Takes Advantage of Europe's Fossil Fuel Dependence

After President Trump's speech last week promoting a dark and dystopian vision—U.S. fossil "energy dominance"— it is no surprise that his visit to Poland centers on promoting U.S. exports of fracked gas. Beyond such bluster, reality tells a different story.


U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are expensive. For the economics to work, U.S. production costs have to be low while prices in importing countries stay high. In India, a major importer of U.S. LNG is now finding itself at the mercy of contracts that locked in high prices for U.S. LNG, relative to other sources of gas. This is how energy dominance will play out for those at the receiving end.

Consumers in LNG exporting countries are also getting pinched. In Australia, for example, "extreme" levels of LNG exports have caused economic disruptions. While the Industrial Energy Consumers of America's call for a moratorium on LNG exports is prudent, Trump is not known for his prudence.

The fracking industry dominates the Trump administration, and it wants more pipelines to support more exports. The U.S. government is allowing pipeline companies to forcibly take land away from property owners through eminent domain—not to benefit the general public, but to increase the amounts of U.S. oil and gas brought to the surface and burned, and increase industry profits. In short, we are witnessing the transformation of the U.S. into a petrostate. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is running the State Department, and oil and gas cheerleaders Rick Perry and Scott Pruitt are at the Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Most people accept the science of climate change and see through the dangerous, short-sighted and corrupt vision Trump and his cadre have for the world. People are beginning to see—in Europe and elsewhere—that economic security hinges on stopping climate pollution, and requires moving off fossil fuels. We can redefine and meet our energy needs using clean, renewable sources of power by organizing local campaigns and holding political leaders accountable. Together we can build a positive energy future by moving off fossil fuels.

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This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

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One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

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