Using graphene to filter and desalinate saltwater

As the global population increases and water supplies become less predictable due to global warming, finding sources of clean drinking water becomes even more critical. Just ask residents of Cape Town, which expects to run out of water around April 12nd! The obvious solution is to desalinate ocean water, but that’s a very energy-intensive process. Well, researchers in Australia found a way to use a graphene film to act as a filter; its structure allows water molecules to pass through but blocks larger contaminant particles. Most membrane filters get clogged up quickly, but this one keeps working even as it gets coated in contaminants. It’s nowhere near a commercial product yet, but is a promising solution to a growing global concern.

(more at FastCompany)

Kids fighting to protect the climate for their future

Climate change is not something that will impact the old farts in Congress, which perhaps explain their inaction on the issue.  It will, however, greatly affect today’s children.  I’ve been watching an effort to use the American judicial system to force change on this issue, and while its original trial date of February 5th was delayed due to Trump tactics, that case is proceeding.  It’s worth reading more about at ourchildrenstrust.org.  From the website:

Their complaint asserts that, through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.

The reason for this blog post though, is to raise awareness of a new initiative, this one targeting the government of Washington state.  Their approach is similar, arguing that the state’s actions,

…severely endangers plaintiffs and their ability to grow to adulthood safely and enjoy the rights, benefits, and privileges of past generations of Washingtonians due to the resulting climate change.

It’s hard to argue with this line of reason.  Well unless you’re a climate change denier of course!   Read more here.

Trump pulls US out of Paris agreement

Sadly, but not surprisingly, President Trump has announced his decision to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Accord.  It’s not clear exactly when this can happen…if it’ll actually take the years that some people say (he said he’ll stick to the withdrawal process laid out in the agreement, which could take up to four years, but do you really believe what he says?).  He says he wants to ‘renegotiate’ the agreement, something that the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy said was not possible (in a joint statement today).  It doesn’t matter though…it sends a message to the world that the US will no longer be a global leader.  Other countries will rise up to take that place and will prosper from that.

The NYTimes article linked to above is a good source for more information, as is this article at Wired.

2016 was the warmest year on record

2016 officially came in as the hottest year in recorded history for this planet (as previously reported here, it was the second warmest if looking only at the US).  Both NASA and NOAA independently came to this same
conclusion, using data from over six thousand weather stations around the world.

Care to guess what year is #2 in the list?  Yep, 2015.  And you guessed it, #3 is 2014.  Even a Republican can’t deny this trend.  Ok, well that’s not true, they’re expert climate change deniers, they’ll deny anything for personal gain.  And we *can* expect 2017 to be cooler than 2016 due to the waning El Nino.  So it’s up to the rest of us to call them out on their bullshit and not let them fuck up this planet any more.

Here are some external links if you’d like to read more about this:

Climatecrocks.com

Newatlas

Engadget

 

The latest in global warming

Unless you’re ignoring the science, the Earth continues to exhibit signs of global warming.  2016 came in as the second hottest year (behind 2012) on record for the US.  With El Niño expected to fade in 2017, things should cool off a little this year but the upwards trend continues.  As for the ice in the oceans, global sea ice levels have never been as low as they are currently.  Troubling signs overall, and with climate change deniers poised to take control of the US, attempts to avert this impending disaster are not likely to succeed.  🙁

Senators go on the record on Climate Change

Some recent votes have put Senators on the record on their position on climate change.  Despite them not being climate scientists themselves, many of them are choosing to ignore the conclusions that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists have reached.  Specifically, Senators defeated a proposed amendment that stated that “climate change is real (and) human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”  To any educated person, that statement is kinda obvious and not a big deal.  However, 49 Senators voted ‘NO’ to that statement.  Children of the world…these 49 people are blocking efforts to combat climate change at the Federal government level in this country.  The science is indisputable…your future is being put at risk by these and others that agree with them.  Know this, and remember this, for in the coming years, chances are there will be some pretty creative spin put on the climate change issue as people worldwide are forced to face the reality…they’ll talk about uncertainties, doubts that people had…but know that the IS no doubt in the climate science community.  The only doubt is that which is created by those who seek to block efforts to reduce CO2 emissions (the ‘why’ is a subject for another day, but a quick tip there, just follow the money).

Read more at NBC or ThinkProgress.

The names of the Senators who voted ‘NO’ are shown below (full results are here).  Note that Harry Reid (D-NV) did not vote on this amendment so his position is unknown.  Note that not a single Democrat voted ‘NO’.   To their credit, five brave Republican Senators broke ranks and voted ‘YES’!  Nice to see…but we need more like them!

Continue reading “Senators go on the record on Climate Change”

Computer simulation of CO2 in the atmosphere

This is a really fascinating video showing CO2 levels dispersed throughout the atmosphere over a year, as simulated by NASA’s climate modeling program GEOS-5.  It’s really interesting to see how the levels change over the year based on plant growth, and also the stark differences between the northern and southern hemispheres.  Check it out below, or read about it more over at Wired.

The possibility of irreversible climate change

A draft UN science report, expected to be approved this week, warns that we’re on the path toward irreversible climate change.  We can still avoid that by making significant cuts to CO2 emissions, but the question is, will we?  Unless you’re a Republican (sorry, but I call it like I see it), you’ve probably already accepted that the current situation is unsustainable and that immediate change is needed.  What will it take?  Fortunately, the answer is ‘not much’…well, apart from a decision to change (which in this political climate in the US, is no small feat!).  A report from Deutsche Bank finds that rooftop solar will reach grid parity in all 50 states in the US by 2016.  This means the cost will be the same or less than getting power from the electric grid (10 states have already reached grid parity).  Removing the ‘cost’ argument from the debate will help a ton.  What about the reality that solar power is not a 24/7 energy source?  Good news there, too.  Many companies have been working on energy storage systems, and they’re looking more and more promising (meaning, closer to production!).  The latest is interesting…a company called Alevo has been operating out of the spotlight (sort of in stealth mode, though not like some startups)…and expects to be producing hundreds of utility-scale (read:massive) energy storage systems within a year.  These 1MWh containers use lithium ferrophosphate and graphite batteries..cool tech.  It’s easy to perhaps dismiss Alevo as yet another company with dreams and promises…except this one has raised a billion dollars from Swiss investors.  Whoa.  So they have the technology, they have the money, and they’re taking over a former Phillips Morris plant in North Carolina.  This is a company to watch.  Then of course you have Solar City looking to include battery storage systems with every home solar installation within 5-10 years.

So the future is bleak if we do not act…yet advances in technology along with greatly decreased costs is looking to push renewable energy to the forefront, despite the best efforts of Republicans opposing it.  Now, just imagine how awesome that industry could be if it actually had broad support!  Oh well.  It’s a tsunami that can’t be stopped, I think…fortunately!

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