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Wind Power Guru: Nukes Fail to Gain Traction in Monumental Paris Accord
Paul Gipe is one of the world's great Solartopian pioneers. His early work on wind power helped make the industry possible. His website publishes some of the most up-to-date and reliable information on the wind and solar industry. His books form the basic library for the progress of wind energy. His newest book, Wind Energy for the Rest of Us: A Comprehensive Gide to Wind Power and How to Use It, will be available in mid-2016.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Based in Bakersfield, California, Gipe is known throughout the business as a brash, independent straight shooter with an incorruptible vision of a green-powered economy and how to best get there.
So when I interviewed him recently on my Solartopia radio show, I was curious to hear his reactions to the Paris accord, since some time has passed to let the dust settle.
But Gipe's take on this landmark agreement comes from well outside the mainstream. Gipe is devoted to community-controlled energy and to the integrity of the green technologies that will take us there.
But for Gipe, “Paris was a watershed event," especially with the failure of the nuclear industry to gain real traction there.
"The world, for the first time, agreed there is a problem with climate change and that we should do something about it. This occurred despite two decades of a sophisticated campaign to downplay and even deny that climate change was occurring.
"Further, several states, regions and provinces agreed for the need to put a price on carbon and numerous cities announced plans to meet 100 percent of their energy needs with renewables.
"There appeared to be a consensus that renewable energy's time has come and that renewables are the future. Regardless of a massive lobbying effort by the nuclear industry there was a sentiment that nuclear is too little, too late and too expensive.
"Another indication of the success of Paris in drawing attention to climate change and need for action has been the shrill cry of right-wing shills for the fossil-fuel industry calling the event a 'sham' because COP 21 didn't include binding targets. They know what happened in Paris and like cornered beasts are reacting with tooth and claw to slow or stop progress toward our renewable future.
"Of course, Paris could have done much more, but considering the opposition of the most powerful corporations on Earth and the nations that profit from the burning of fossil fuels reaching agreement on the need for action is historic.
"Quickly on the heels of Paris, the U.S. Congress, where the party in power in both chambers publicly denies climate change, voted overwhelmingly to renew and extend the subsidies for solar and wind energy. While the wrong policy, the vote revealed that the party's rhetoric about its opposition to subsidies and subsidies particularly to renewable energy is simply a charade."
Gipe concluded though that there's ample room for skepticism. He said that there's no doubting which way the future is going. The Koch Brothers with their fossil/nuclear investments have a lot of clout. But time is not on their side. And when the GOP sides with the renewable energy industry, it's only because there's sufficient financial clout to drive it there.
“There's money to be made in renewables and a lot of it as the world moves toward renewable energy," Gipe said. “Even the Republican party sees that."
And if the Republican party is lining up even partially around renewables, the end for King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas) has surely drawn near.
Here's my interview with Gipe:
Harvey Wasserman hosts the Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show at www.prn.fm. He edits www.nukefree.org and his America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of U.S. History will be published soon.
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Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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- California Emerged From Drought and Is Still Catching Fire - The ... ›
A warm day in winter used to be a rare and uplifting relief.
Now such days are routine reminders of climate change – all the more foreboding when they coincide with news stories about unprecedented wildfires, record-breaking "rain bombs," or the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets.
Where, then, can one turn for hope in these dark months of the year?