Monday, August 5, 2019

Norwegian study shows "sustainable forest management" is not working

While SFM has been increasingly integrated into legal frameworks, it seems to remain poorly applied in practice, and most commercial logging remain stuck into the paradigm of “sustainable income”, instead of progressing towards “sustainable provision of goods and services”. Poor forest-related law enforcement in producer countries and low prices of wood or carbon credits are creating uncertainties among stakeholders, who generally prefer fast return on investment. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Solutions that don't work: Nuclear Energy

In the 10 years since I suggested that the opportunity for a nuclear energy-based economy had come and gone, the circumstances for the industry have only gotten worse—worse than even I foresaw back then. It's hard now to believe that the United States government predicted back in 1962 that half of all electricity in the country would be produced by nuclear reactors by the year 2000 and that all new power plants after that would be nuclear. Today, the percentage of electricity generated by nuclear power in the United States stands at about 20 percent, a percentage that has remained nearly steady since the early 1990s.
And so, an energy source that was once imagined to be the long-term replacement for fossil fuels is now in the equivalent of an old-age home. What is more disturbing is that the other candidates for replacing fossil fuels—renewables, which the BP Statistical Review of World Energy defines as wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste—still only provide energy for 3.6 percent of total world consumption. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Changing to #renewables means more plunder of scarce resources

Take cobalt. Each electric vehicle needs between five to ten kilograms of the bluish-white metal for its lithium-ion batteries. The authors consider cobalt a “metal of most concern for supply risks,” because nearly 60 percent of its production takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country with a dismal record of child labor and human rights abuses. Should the world’s transportation and electricity sectors ever switch to running entirely on renewables, demand for the metal would soar to more than four times the amount available in reserves, according to the researchers. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Wood pellets, environmental and economic disaster

  • Debunking the “green” myth behind wood pellets
  • Current status and expected growth of the industry
  • The industrial effects of sourcing, producing, transporting and burning wood pellets on the environment and health
  • A case study of North Carolina and Enviva, the largest industrial scale producer of wood pellets in the US
  • Environmental justice implications of the industry
  • Political and economic drivers of the industry
  • How you can take action through political engagement and important NGOs working on the issue

Friday, January 25, 2019

Carbon capture does not work, and is a harmful distraction

...due to a fundamental error in it’s representation of the carbon cycle, BECCS could never work, but also why such ‘sci fi’ climate solutions are so prevalent and so dangerous. Even if these kind of solutions have no realistic possibility of being viable, they allow politicians and businesses to give the impression that they are committed to reducing emissions and have strategies to do so. Thus, like the walking dead, new publicly subsidised demonstration projects continue to pop up as others die off. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nuclear energy may not even be carbon neutral

Greenhouse gases are emitted in all stages of the lifecycle of a nuclear reactor: construction, operation, fuel production, dismantling and waste disposal. Leaving out any of these five stages will bias estimates towards lower values.
The last two contributions, dismantling and waste disposal are particularly difficult to estimate. Not many commercial reactors have been fully decommissioned. Also there is still no scientific or political consensus on the approach to be used for the long-term storage of waste.
The fuel preparation contribution is also problematic. Considerable amounts of carbon are released in the mining, milling and separation of the uranium from the ore. Also the carbon emitted is very dependent on the concentration of uranium in the ore.
It's important to appreciate that these three problematic contributions, fuel production, dismantling and waste disposal are either non-existent or small contributions in the case of electricity generation by renewable technologies. Estimates of the carbon footprint of renewably generated electricity therefore should be much more reliable than those for nuclear.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hazardous chemicals in solar panels

During manufacture and after the disposal of solar panels, they release hazardous chemicals including cadmium compounds, silicon tetrachloride, hexafluoroethane and lead.