VW credits Tesla for “proving electric cars are here to stay”


VW ID Crozz at Shanghai Auto Show

❝ Volkswagen is arguably the legacy automaker most committed to electric vehicles and this week, it gave a rare nod to a competitor, Tesla, for “‘proving electric cars are here to stay.”

Scott Keogh, the CEO of Volkswagen in the US, made the comment at the National Automobile Dealers Association…

❝ Two years ago, when he was the head of Audi in America, he told dealerships to get behind electric vehicles because they will dominate the market within 10 years…

Now the head of Volkswagen in America, he told the same audience this week that they are going electric…“Even if it’s 10 percent of the market, we want to pursue it,”

❝ He also acknowledged the success of the Tesla Model 3 and said:

“We have not seen in the history of the auto business, a company going from zero to fourth place in luxury in a matter of a few years.”

Yes, yes, I know there are birdbrains who still think this will never happen. Probably the same crowd that think our fake president is “draining the swamp” when all he’s doing is siphoning money and putting some of the worst fascist-minded reactionaries in history into lifetime judge’s robes.

Bacteria that can conduct electricity

❝ Scientists have made a surprising discovery about how strange bacteria that live in soil and sediment can conduct electricity. The bacteria do so, the researchers determined, through a seamless biological structure never before seen in nature – a structure scientists can co-opt to miniaturize electronics, create powerful-yet-tiny batteries, build pacemakers without wires and develop a host of other medical advances.

❝ Scientists had believed Geobacter sulfurreducens conducted electricity through common, hair-like appendages called pili. Instead, a researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and his collaborators have determined that the bacteria transmit electricity through immaculately ordered fibers made of an entirely different protein. These proteins surround a core of metal-containing molecules, much like an electric cord contains metal wires. This “nanowire,” however, is 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

❝ This tiny-but-tidy structure, the researchers believe, could be tremendously useful for everything from harnessing the power of bioenergy to cleaning up pollution to creating biological sensors. It could actually serve as the bridge between electronics and living cells.

Cripes. I wish I could be around long enough to see so many interesting things [like this] come to pass into common useful devices.

Who’s making the biggest hole in worldwide oil? Chinese electric buses.

❝ While electric cars are displacing global oil demand at increasing rates, new research shows electric buses are making a much bigger mark overall thus far.

Electric vehicles have displaced about 3 percent of total oil consumption growth since 2011, a larger share than ever before. And so far, more than three-quarters of that oil displacement has come from electric buses, Bloomberg reports.

❝ The report estimates that “for every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day.” The same number of battery-powered electric vehicles only displaces 15 barrels of oil a day, by comparison.

Most of this is occurring in China, Bloomberg notes. A report last year found that of about 385,000 electric buses in the world in 2017, about 99 percent of them were in China, with rapid growth still taking place. The city of Shenzhen alone announced in 2017 that it had completely electrified its fleet of 16,000 buses.

Not that you’re going to see much about this on Fox News. Or most mainstream media for that matter.

Future Urban Climates

❝ By the 2080s, the climate of North American urban areas will feel substantially different, and, in many cases, completely unlike contemporary climates found anywhere in the western hemisphere north of the equator. If emissions continue unabated throughout the 21st century,the climate of North American urban areas will become, on average, most like the contemporary climate of locations about 500 miles away and mainly to the south…

❝ Scientists analyzed 540 urban areas that encompassed approximately 250 million inhabitants in the United States and Canada. For each urban area, they mapped the similarity between that city’s future climate expected by the 2080s and contemporary climate in the western hemisphere north of the equator using 12 measures of climate, including minimum and maximum temperature and precipitation during the four seasons.

Check out the examples nearest you. Gives you some idea what awaits not-so-future generations

Say Goodbye to Thermal Coal


Click to enlargeEdward Burtynsky

❝ ,,,Just one year ago, in his 2018 State of the Union address, the president claimed that his administration “ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.”

If the war on coal is over, peace for coal is a curious-looking thing.

❝ 2018 was a particularly bleak year for the industry. Coal capacity retirements actually doubled in 2018 compared to 2017, and coal production was largely flat. Recent projections from the Energy Information Administration don’t show the conclusive end of the coal industry any time soon, but they do show that coal may have reached a point of no return, despite all the rollbacks of environmental regulations that the Trump administration has proposed or enacted…

❝ In President Trump’s State of the Union speech, this year, he didn’t mention coal once…

Metallurgical coal is still needed. Specific chemical requirements in legacy steel-making processes continue. Thermal coal? Natural gas is going to take care of that easy-peasy.

World’s #1 wind-power producer budgeting almost $15 billion for US construction the next 4 years

❝ …The world’s largest wind-power producer, Iberdrola SA, has brushed off Big Oil’s embrace of renewable energy as “more noise” than action.

Major oil and gas firms have been venturing into renewable power under pressure from climate-change policy, collectively spending around 1 percent of their 2018 budgets on clean energy…

❝ However, Iberdrola Chief Executive Ignacio Galan, who has led the Spanish utility for 17 years, shrugged when asked in a Reuters interview if Big Oil represented a competitive threat.

“It’s good that they have moved in this direction but they make more noise than the reality,” he said on Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland…

❝ He said U.S. states were more influential than Washington in terms of energy investment, and that several were looking to develop America’s first offshore wind farms, from Massachusetts down to North Carolina and New York across to California.

“The states are more and more committed to moving to renewables and the same is true of the cities and towns,” he said, adding that falling generation costs of renewable energy was a big driver of the U.S. adoption of wind and solar power.

Woo-hoo. I knew they were taking on the first big US wind-power project off Martha’s Vineyard. Hadn’t realized the size of their immediate follow-on commitment. [Davos has been really interesting this year and the coverage from Bloomberg TV has been stellar.]

The fossil fuel era is coming to an end and…

❝ “Coal is dead.”

These are not the words of a Greenpeace activist or left-wing politician, but of Jim Barry, the global head of the infrastructure investment group at Blackrock — the world’s largest asset manager. Barry made this statement in 2017, but the writing has been on the wall for longer than that.

❝ Banks know it, which is why they are increasingly unwilling to underwrite new coal mines and power plants. Unions and coal workers know it, which is why they are demanding a just transition and new employment opportunities in the clean economy. Even large diversified mining companies are getting out of the business of coal.

The only ones who seem to have remained in denial are President Donald Trump and non-diversified mining companies like Westmoreland Coal. The Denver-based firm made a bad bet in 2013 when it purchased five coal mines in Alberta. Now it wants Canadian taxpayers to pay for its mistake.

This is becoming a battleground, many ways and means, many reasons. Workers who need retraining and creepy investors trying to get out of foolish contracts do not have common cause.

Massachusetts offshore wind auction draws global competitors, big money


David L. Ryan/GLOBE Staff/File

❝ The blockbuster auction for offshore wind leases that wrapped up Friday should leave few doubts: The industry has finally arrived in New England.

Three developers backed by major European energy companies paid a record $405 million to gain access to 390,000 acres of federal waters nearly 20 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. These firms will each pay $135 million to the federal government for the rights to build massive windmills in their respective slices of the ocean…

❝ The victors: Equinor, a Norwegian company formerly known as Statoil until this past spring; Mayflower Wind, a joint venture owned by Shell and EDP Renewables; and Vineyard Wind, a venture controlled by Spain’s Iberdrola and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

RTFA. Maybe someone will read it to the fake president.

The trouble with Gribbles

The tiny gribble — less than an inch long — lives in coastal marine environments and feasts upon wood. It gobbles up sticks and logs that wash into the sea from river estuaries, performing an important ecological function. But it also can be a damaging nuisance, eating the wood from boats and piers, causing considerable damage.

Unlike other wood-eating creatures, such as termites, that require thousands of microbes for digestion, the gribble’s gut needs no such help. Its digestive system is sterile, meaning it’s free of the complex microbial communities that inhabit other intestines, including ours.

Scientists say that understanding how the gribble breaks down wood could help them develop better methods for turning timber into fuel. Currently, wood that is burned to generate energy must first be broken down in costly and energy-intensive processes. Gribbles may hold the key to a cheaper and energy-efficient means of unlocking the energy in wood.

For that reason, Simon McQueen-Mason and his research team have been trying to figure out how the gribble breaks through lignin, the tough coating surrounding the sugar polymers that compose wood — long a mystery.

RTFA. Not too complex and although the process might seem to be uneconomic, once folks can lay out the requisite steps – including what can be substituted from the human-made catalogue – doors can be opened to a number of environmental solutions.

Geothermal Mud Pot Began Moving Across California About 3 Years Ago

When it comes to matters of geology and rumbling earth in California, the San Andreas Fault is usually the star of the show. But this time around, the area near the infamous fault has caught people’s attention due to a mysterious pot of bubbling mud.

Refusing to stay in place, a roiling mass of carbon dioxide and slurry-like soil is migrating across the state at a pace of 20 feet a year. So far, it’s carved a 24,000-square-foot basin out of the earth, and it’s set to continue its crusade until whatever’s driving it dies out. Scientists currently have no real idea why it’s moving or if it can be stopped.

Interesting stuff. RTFA and see what little scientists have so far figured out. Mostly, just keeping track of the “feature” on the map of Southern California.