Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Global Water Shortage Risk Is Worse Than Scientists Thought

If this is worse than expected, have we equally under evaluated the potential rise in global temperatures and the risk of severe environmental of work and life?

Global Water Shortage Risk Is Worse Than Scientists Thought

About two-thirds of the world’s population faces water scarcity for at least one month during the year.

by Kim Bellware

Sheep seen on Manie van Rooys farm on November 6, 2015 near Frankfort, South Africa. Free State farmers have been severely affected by what is considered as the worst drought since 1992.

The growing risk of worldwide water shortages is worse than scientists previously thought, according to a new study.

About 66 percent, which is 4 billion people, of the world’s population lives without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year, according to a new paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies calculated a lower number, estimating that between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people lived with moderate to severe water scarcity for at least a month out of the year.

Scientists, led by Dr. Arjen Hoekstra of the Netherlands’ University of Twente, used a computer model that is both more precise and comprehensive than previous studies have used to analyze how widespread water scarcity is across the globe. Their model considers multiple variables including: climate records, population density, irrigation and industry.

“Up to now, this type of research concentrated solely on the scarcity of water on an annual basis, and had only been carried out in the largest river basins,” Hoekstra said in a statement. “That paints a more rosy and misleading picture, because water scarcity occurs during the dry period of the year.”

“The fact that the scarcity of water is being regarded as a global problem is confirmed by our research,” Hoekstra added. “For some time now, the World Economic Forum has placed the world water crisis in the top three of global problems, alongside climate change and terrorism.”

Severe water scarcity happens when consumption is twice as high as available resources, according to the study’s researchers. Consequently, half of those suffering from water scarcity are in the world’s two most populous countries — India and China — where demand is high.

High-scarcity levels are also widespread in areas with significant irrigated agriculture (like the Great Plains in the United States) or low natural availability of fresh water (like the Arabian Desert) where populations are also relatively dense, according to the study. Similar patterns exist in the south and western United States where heavily populated states like California have been in a drought for years.

The consequences of water scarcity can result in economic losses due to crop failure, limited food availability and poor business viability, and can threaten environmental biodiversity. When faced with scarcity, areas in need of water often resort to pumping groundwater, which can permanently deplete the supply.

Water shortages have also precipitated or heightened the potential for global conflicts in places like the Middle East and Africa.

“Freshwater scarcity is a major risk to the global economy, affecting four billion people directly,” Hoekstra told The New York Times. “But since the remaining people in the world receive part of their food from the affected areas, it involves us all.”

Despite the grim findings, the study recommends ways to reduce scarcity, such as increasing reliance on rain-fed rather than irrigated agriculture, improving the efficiency of water usage and — perhaps the most challenging for humans — sharing what’s available. The researchers point out that for these solutions to be effective, governments, corporations and investors will need to cooperate.

Farmland Could Help Combat Climate Change

We've done some good shows on this, including one we just recorded last week with Cascadian Farms.  Large-scale production will make it hard to manage soil as a holding tank for carbon.  That could put even more of a financial strain on our agricultural providers

Yet, from everything we've heard implementing soil management techniques that will help with storing carbon and offering habitat to pollinators brings efficiency and increased profitability to farmers?  How?  By cutting costs and, ultimately, better managing crops.

Do you want to see some of the better approaches to improved food production.  Take a look at some of the work Cascadian and similar operations are using and teaching to others..

Farmland Could Help Combat Climate Change

Soils could lock away carbon, helping solve global warming

By Bobby Magill

The earth’s soil stores a lot of carbon from the atmosphere, and managing it with the climate in mind may be an important part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming, according to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

“Climate-smart” soil management, primarily on land used for agriculture, can be part of an overall greenhouse gas reduction strategy that includes other efforts like carbon sequestration and reducing fossil fuel emissions, the paper’s authors said. Many scientists believe new efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are needed to keep global warming to an internationally agreed-upon limit of 2°C (3.6°F).

“One way to do that is by locking up carbon in soils,” said study co-author Pete Smith, professor of soils and global change at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. “If we can do this, we can complement efforts in other sectors to stabilize the climate and deliver on the Paris agreement.”

About three times the carbon currently in the atmosphere is stored in the Earth’s soil—up to 2.4 trillion metric tons, or roughly 240 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels annually.

Much of that is locked up in land used for agriculture. Cropland soil stores atmospheric carbon in organic matter such as manure, roots, fallen leaves and and other pieces of decomposing plants. It doesn’t remain there permanently. It takes decades for the organic matter in the soil to decompose, and the carbon stored within is eventually emitted back into the atmosphere as gas. Soil is responsible for 37 percent of global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, according to the paper.

Estimates vary for how much carbon dioxide could be stored if soil were managed with the climate in mind. Methods of controlling the amount of carbon stored depend on climate and soil type. In addition to slowing the decomposition rate of organic matter in the soil, some methods include adding compost or biochar to fields, vegetating fallow fields and more effective use of irrigation, erosion control and fertilizer.

The study says that if all the Earth’s farmers were to manage their fields so the soil stored more carbon, the impacts of the greenhouse gases emitted from burning fossil fuels annually could be cut by between half and 80 percent.

More realistically, the emissions reductions would likely be much lower, possibly between 10 and 20 percent of total annual human emissions.

“The question of what the most ‘realistic’ potential is, is not really possible to answer directly, at least from a science perspective, because it really depends on enactment of policies that would encourage adoption of the climate-smart soil management practices,” study lead author Keith Paustian, a soil ecologist at Colorado State University, said.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions so drastically using better soil management involves using technology—some of it complex and very expensive—that isn’t available to most farmers, many of whom haven’t had much incentive to manage their soil to store more carbon. Instead, they’ve focused on crop production, Paustian said.

“Certain land management practices can add more plant material to soils as well as hold more of that organic matter in the soil for a longer time and thus build up the storage of that carbon in the soil,” he said. “There are ways to both maintain high production as well as build soil carbon and reduce other greenhouse gases, but in many cases that means some additional work and/or costs to the farmers, so a key issue is to incentivize them to do so.”

The researchers suggest four ways policymakers could encourage farmers to manage their soil in a “climate-smart” way: a cap-and-trade system for soil management, government regulation, subsidies for better management practices and supply-chain initiatives, such as better marketing for foods grown on sustainable soils.
“If it turns out that many consumers will indeed favor low-GHG-footprint products, that could be a big difference-maker, and it could likely cause more rapid movement than incentives that are more dependent on governmental action,” Paustian said.

While scientists unaffiliated with the study said a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions and sequester carbon may be necessary, they disagreed on whether soils management is the best way to go.
Francesco Tubiello, a Rome-based senior statistician and environmental team leader at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said he is skeptical of the overall climate benefits of focusing on soils management.

“I’m not so convinced that there’s a lot of great potential there,” he said, adding that curbing deforestation should be a greater priority than agricultural soils management because forests store the most carbon naturally and provide numerous other ecological benefits to help the earth withstand climate change.

“I personally think people should go for the biggest bang for their buck,” he said.
Margaret Torn, co-head of the climate and carbon sciences program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that some approaches to more climate-friendly soils management are things farmers already know how to do, but others, such as growing crops with deeper roots, aren’t available to many farmers globally.

The study has high estimates for how many emissions could be mitigated through soils management each year, but if those practices could help sequester even 10 percent of human greenhouse gas emissions annually, it would have a “huge” effect on the climate, she said.

Encouraging farmers to manage their soil with the climate in mind will be a different challenge in every country, however, because local politics and market forces operate differently from place to place, she said.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Tale of Two Grids

Here's a very good webinar from Clean  Energy States Alliance.  Little scary to hear a leading candidate in the US, Donald Trump, ready to turn his back on renewables and push again, and depend again, on oil and fossil fuel.  The new grids can be so much more than that.

We encourage all political leaders to watch and learn and see the future of clean energy and efficiency:

Clean Energy States Alliance Clean Energy. Let's make more.

This webinar looked at the future of the electric grid and states’ approaches to grid modernization. The presentation by Cameron Brooks was based on research that he recently featured in an article in Public Utilities Fortnightly. He found that states are tending to fall into two categories: ones where policy is moving toward more open market solutions and ones that are inclined toward expanding the vertical integration model. The webinar highlighted issues that RPS program managers, utility commission staff, and other state officials can consider as they think about the future of the grid.

  • Cameron Brooks, President, E9 Insight
Categories: Policy
Related Project(s): RPS Collaborative

How climate change dries dries up mountain streams

This is a nice weekend to get outside and enjoy nature.  This story, as you do that, reminds us of the delicate nature of our eco-system.

Sometimes this ecological changes are subtle, sometime dramatic.  Both can have serious social and economic impact.  So many industries, and human beings, generally, depend desperately on a stable natural world.  Disruptions threaten our every day existence and prosperity.

Water is a precious resource.  It is our duty to preserve and use it wisely.  Doing so brings balance and stability.  We need that if we are to build any kind of future.

How climate change dries up mountain streams

The western United States relies on mountain snow for its water supply. Water stored as snow in the mountains during winter replenishes groundwater and drives river runoff in spring, filling reservoirs for use later in summer. But how could a warming globe and a changing climate interrupt this process?

Climate change can affect mountain streams in two major ways: By raising the overall temperature, increasing evapotranspiration, and by shifting the precipitation from snow to rain. Both impacts could significantly alter the amount of water in a stream watershed and the amount that reaches cities downstream.

The western United States relies on mountain snow for its water supply. Water stored as snow in the mountains during winter replenishes groundwater and drives river runoff in spring, filling reservoirs for use later in summer. But how could a warming globe and a changing climate interrupt this process?

In a new study in Environmental Research Letters, a team of hydrologists that includes University of Utah professor Paul Brooks answers that question by simulating isolated climate change effects on Rocky Mountain stream systems, varying the type of precipitation (rain vs. snow) and the amount of energy (temperature) in the system. The answer, they found, depends less on how water enters the stream watershed, and more on how it leaves.

Balancing the water budget

Hydrologists often construct water budgets to account for all the ways water enters and leaves a system. In the case of a mountain stream, water enters as precipitation but only a portion of this water leaves as streamflow. Much of this melt water enters soils. Here it can be used by plants or evaporate directly, with water loss from both processes combined called evapotranspiration. The water can also recharge groundwater and enter the stream later in the year. And it matters whether the precipitation falls as snow or as rain.

Climate change can affect mountain streams in two major ways: By raising the overall temperature, increasing evapotranspiration, and by shifting the precipitation from snow to rain. Both impacts could significantly alter the amount of water in a stream watershed and the amount that reaches cities downstream.

So why try to separate the influence of the two factors? "As the climate becomes increasingly more variable, we need to provide water resource managers with specific guidance on how individual warm or wet years, which may not coincide, will influence water supply," said Brooks.

Simulated streams

The team, led by doctoral student Lauren Foster at Colorado School of Mines, constructed models of two Colorado stream watersheds on both sides of the continental divide. The researchers simulated the atmospheric conditions of a typical water year, but then applied 11 simulations of various temperature alterations to see how the watersheds responded.

In baseline scenarios, without any temperature alteration, the streams behaved as expected, with a swell in streamflow during snowmelt. During snowmelt and into summer, meltwater recharged the underlying aquifer, which then sustained streamflow through the fall and winter.

When precipitation was changed from snow to rain, the stream system became "flashier," the team writes, with the water that would have been stored as snow running off into the stream faster. Overall streamflow in this scenario decreased by 11 percent in the watershed east of the continental divide and by 18 percent west of the divide. But warming the systems by 4 degrees Celsius resulted in more evapotranspiration, enough that groundwater had to support streamflow an entire season earlier, beginning in summer rather than in fall. Streamflow reduced by 19 percent in the east watershed and 23 percent in the west, suggesting that warmer temperatures may have more impact on streams than a transition from snow to rain.

"Changes in energy, which result in changes in evapotranspiration, outweighed the changes in the form of precipitation," said Reed Maxwell of Colorado School of Mines.

The effects of these two climate change effects may vary with location, the team writes, and the results need to be checked against real-life environments. But the researchers' work helps to make sense of the noisiness in climate data and helps scientists gain a clearer picture of the future of water, especially in the mountainous west.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

NASA Is Facing a Climate Change Countdown

'Electric Highways' Could Charge Electric Cars

UK is not the only place we are seeing 'electric highways".  This technology is taking hold in a variety of cities.  Good news.

Driving clean is a true "smart highway" system...electric charges, enhanced street lights with LED bulbs, solar power, wifi capability, etc.  The success will come, though, when consumers buy more EV's and hybrids.

'Electric Highways' Could Charge Electric Cars

Today, the UK government announced that, later this year, it will begin testing electric highways designed to power electric and hybrid vehicles.

The technology could enable EV drivers to travel longer distances without having to stop to charge their car.

During the trial period, wireless technology will be implemented in the test cars. Meanwhile, equipment will be installed underneath the roads used during the experiment to mimic various driving conditions.

“Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on our England’s motorways and major A roads,” Mike Wilson, Highways England chief highways engineer, said in a press release.

The test run is expected to last about 18 months and could be followed by on-road trials. The UK government plans to unveil more specific details about the project once a contractor is secured.

Electric Cars Combat Urban Heat

In addition to these so-called electric highways, the government also plans to install plug-in charging points every 20 miles along the UK’s motorways. This was inspired by the UK’s Road Investment Strategy, which outlines a number of goals, from improving road conditions to making them more sustainable and adding more lanes to improve traffic and safety.

“The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities,” Transport Minister Andrew Jones said in the press release.

He went on to say, “The government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What about the growth of the organic food industry?

This, too, was mentioned on the show with Ashley from Cascadian.  The industry stats look great.  Keep buying organic.   You are helping to build a remarkable green economy.

Market Analysis

If you’re looking for the latest data on the organic industry, you’ve come to the right place! OTA is the premier source of information about organic. Whether you're looking for the size of the organic market, organic industry trends or insights into the organic consumer, OTA is here to help. 
Each year, OTA publishes two flagship research products—the Organic Industry Survey and the U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study, to inform the business, media, government and other communities about the organic trade.

State of organic

U.S. Organic Industry Survey 2016
With $43.3 billion in total organic product sales, the industry saw its largest dollar gain ever, adding $4.2 billion in sales in 2015, up from the $3.9 billion recorded in 2014. For the fourth year running, the industry saw growth in the double digits at 10.8%. To-date, the industry has shown continuous and steady gains since the economic downturn of 2009 with a growth rate well beyond that of the overall food market at 3.3% in 2015.

- See more at: https://www.ota.com/resources/market-analysis#sthash.moSL6DFP.dpuf

U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Survey 2015 

78 percent of organic buyers say they typically buy their organic foods at conventional food stores/supermarkets. Over half also shop organic at the “big box” stores, and some 30 percent also report that it’s not unusual to buy organic at one of the warehouse clubs in the country.
African American and Hispanic families have been steadily increasing among the ranks of organic-buying households.
The OTA survey also looks at the incomes, education and ages of organic buyers, and compares the buying habits of the new organic purchaser to the more experienced organic consumer. 
- See more at: https://www.ota.com/resources/market-analysis#sthash.moSL6DFP.dpuf

There's More To Organic Than Meets The Eye

Consumer sales of organic reach $39 billion

- See more at: https://www.ota.com/resources/market-analysis#sthash.GGEblx7d.dpuf

Cascadian Farms: A great way to grow food

Yesterday, we recorded an interview with Ashley Minnerath, Cascadian's Site Director and we think you can hear that live today at 1p, ET.  If not, it will run this summer.

Their story is one of an early pioneer who turned into a great entrepreneur  and whose legacy influences the entire organic food industry.  Here's more:
Cascadian Farm

The Farm Our Story

You already know that Cascadian Farm® is one of the country's leading brands of organic foods. But Cascadian Farm is also a real place — a working, active, productive farm dedicated to bringing wholesome organic food to your table.
The story of Cascadian Farm begins with the story of our founder, Gene Kahn. 40 years ago, Gene was an idealistic 24-year old grad-school dropout from Chicago, who just wanted to make a difference in the world. He recognized the delicate balance between nature and humans. Inspired by reading “Silent Spring” and “Diet For A Small Planet”, Gene wanted to go back to the land and farm in a way that would not harm the natural beauty of the earth or her inhabitants. So he set out to farm organically on a little stretch of land next to the Skagit River in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.
Today Cascadian Farm has grown beyond our original farm and is recognized as a pioneer in converting conventional farms to organic. Cascadian Farm also realizes that we can make a difference beyond just the food that we produce. That’s why we work with partners who share our mission. Working together, we can help sustain the health of the earth for all living creatures today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Electric car fast charger for the North Country – no, it’s not from Tesla

Thank you Jack Gregg, our talented co-host from Boston.   Good to see level 3 chargers for EV's of all types.  We think this is key to getting more EV's on the road.

Crosby Peck, owner of Rogers Campground, demonstrates his new fast charging system for electric cars.

The new fast-charging system unveiled Friday at a popular campground in Lancaster, in the part of the state known as North of the Notches, is the first such public facility in the North Country and the first non-Tesla Level 3 charger available in the state for the public. It’s being paid for by what’s called the Forward NH Fund, which is used by Eversource and Hydro-Quebec as part of their sales pitch for the proposed and very controversial Northern Pass  transmission lines which would carry hydropower from Quebec into New England.
I’ve long been surprised that electric companies aren’t building car chargers right and left, to goose a market which will use their product, although I realize that the complex regulatory structure around electricity makes that complicated. Using money from Northern Pass, which is a separate, non-regulated entity, is easier.
I have a short announcement about it in today’s Monitor, but many of the details weren’t available when I filed that. A few extra tidbits:
+ It will have one CHAdeMO and one CCS charger, so it can handle all models of non-Tesla cars.
+ It is a behind-the-meter system for Roger’s Campground. The owner, Crosy Peck, was quoted in the press release as saying: “EVs are here and more are on the way. … This fast charger will attract a segment of our tourist population that I expect will continue to grow each year.”
+ It cost about $100,000 to install, according to Eversource spokesman Martin Murray, who wrote in an email: “There were a number of upgrades necessary, between the meter and the station, including new pole, x-arms, and transformer.” No upgrades were needed for the local substation.
+ Murray wrote that the campground owner has customers with electric vehicles that plug into the 110-volt outlets located at each campsite and charge overnight.
Fast DC chargers are usually said to be able to “fill up” an electric car to at least the 80 percent level in 20 minutes. The same thing from a 110 volt home system would take eight hours or more.
By the way, driving past the Hooksett tolls today, I saw a Tesla charging up – the first time I’ve ever spotted one of thedozen Supercharger stations being used.
David Brooks

David Brooks

Dave Brooks is a reporter with the Concord (NH) Monitor who has has written a science/tech column since 1991 and has written this blog since 2006, keeping an eye on topics of geekish interest in and around New Hampshire. He moderates monthly Science Cafe NH discussions, beer in hand, and appears regularly on New Hampshire Public Radio.

Overlooked Tool to Fight Climate Change: A Tweak in Fuel Standards

Many times we need small steps forward.  Here's a good example.

Overlooked Tool to Fight Climate Change: A Tweak in Fuel Standards

One of the best new opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions might be to tweak a bureaucratic regulation we’ve had around for close to four decades.

Changing vehicle fuel efficiency standards — if done properly — could not only reduce emissions from cars and trucks, but also set the nation on a path that textbook economics suggests is the most efficient: by placing a nearly economywide price on carbon pollution.

The United States has to figure out how to meet the lower emissions targets that nations committed themselves to under the climate change accord reached in Paris in December. In the United States, the centerpiece of climate policy is the Clean Power Plan put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency. It sets limits on carbon pollution from power plants. If this plan survives a court challenge, the nation will take a major step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But even this won’t be enough to reach the levels promised in Paris. So where can other cuts — ideally, not too expensive and not requiring new laws — come from?

Using corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards might seem counterintuitive. They are widely regarded as costly and inefficient because they rely on mandates for achieving emissions reductions, rather than letting market forces find the least expensive ones. But a big advantage is that CAFE standards have been required by law since the 1970s and so do not require new legislation.

CAFE standards were last updated in 2011 and are now up for review by the E.P.A. These standards have grown more stringent over time but are still lax compared with those of other nations. America’s vehicles get, on average, 21.6 miles per gallon; in Britain, where fuel taxes are also much higher, vehicles average 35.6.

Besides their relative laxity, CAFE standards have loopholes — for example, based on vehicle size — that limit their effectiveness at increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. Such loopholes are made worse by the decline in gasoline prices that is leading to greater purchases of trucks and S.U.V.s, instead of more efficient cars. The result is that some observers say that we need to think “outside the box” during this CAFE review period.

One way to think about fuel economy is to take into account not just how many miles a car gets per gallon of gas, but how many miles it is likely to be driven over all. Credit Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

One way that we could think about fuel economy, but currently don’t, is to take into account not just how many miles a car gets per gallon of gas, but how many miles it is likely to be driven over all. Automakers have plenty of data on the average number of miles driven by each kind of car over time. Not all cars are driven the same amount.

A typical Chevrolet Malibu (a midsize car), after seven years on the road, will have 110,000 miles on its odometer. An average Buick LaCrosse (a full-size luxury sedan) will have only 78,000 in the same period (See iSeeCars.com data). Although their fuel economy is similar, the average Malibu will produce significantly more emissions than the average LaCrosse over its lifetime.

With some simple math, it is possible to calculate the typical lifetime gasoline consumption of each model of car. Then using the rule that each gallon of gas leads to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned, it is straightforward to determine the expected lifetime CO2 emissions from any group of cars.

This calculation could be the basis for replacing the current form of CAFE with a cap-and-trade market for CO2. Specifically, the government could set a CO2 limit for all cars sold in a given year and issue permits denominated in lifetime CO2 emission. Manufacturers could then trade these permits for the cars they produce annually. For example, automakers that specialize in fuel efficient cars could sell permits to companies that concentrate on S.U.V.s.

Cap-and-trade programs have been shown time and again to reduce regulatory compliance costs. To further reduce the costs for manufacturers, they could receive some of the permits at no charge.
Of course, more details would need to be worked out. But over all, such a cap-and-trade system would reduce the costs of lowering CO2 emissions (and gasoline consumption) and spur further research and development into more efficient cars. Finally, this is not a big leap legally because trading already takes place under CAFE standards — but of fuel economy.

The benefits of reforming CAFE are potentially even greater than just reducing the costs of compliance in the transportation sector. Subject to careful vetting of legal issues, one could link a CAFE cap-and-trade system with the cap-and-trade programs that California and some East Coast states are already using to reduce CO2 and that others are considering adopting to comply with the Clean Power Plan.

Full integration of the transportation and power sectors in a cap-and-trade program would cover 71 percent of total United States emissions and greatly reduce the costs of cutting CO2 across both sectors. Indeed, economists of all political leanings (and even some industry leaders) have been urging the adoption of a widespread CO2 cap-and-trade system.

All of these changes could be set in motion by a simple change in the formula for how we set fuel economy standards. No legislation, no votes from Congress and no presidential signings required. The result: financial savings and reduced CO2 emissions.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ground Breaking 370 Mile Range!

More good news on range.  We are quickly getting buses, trucks, cars, driven by hybrids and electric, competitive, in all facets, with gas-powered units.

In a first for electric vehicles, Dubuc Motors announces an unprecedented range of 370 miles per full charge for its Tomahawk electric sports car in initial tests. The subsequent and much awaited 2+2 supercar is set to unveil in 2017 and will provide a wind of change to the market.

To date, Dubuc Motors has gathered over $5 million dollars in indicated interest for the shares of the company through its test-the-water equity crowdfunding campaign on startengine.com. Dubuc Motors believes it is on track to complete its funding goal which is the first step in bringing the Tomahawk EV into production in 2017. This news is sure to please the hundreds of investors who have already indicated interest in the company, and underlines Dubuc Motors' unwavering pursuit of excellence.

"We want to be unequivocally the reference in the electric sports car market. We strive to push the limits and intend to offer the ultimate of what is possible. This announcement today highlights our commitment to bringing an unsurpassed level of engineering and we believe demonstrates our ability to progress quickly within our space," said Mike Kakogiannakis, CEO of Dubuc Motors.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance in 2016, sales of electric vehicles are expected to hit 41 million by 2040, representing 35% of new vehicle sales. They also estimate the premium car market has surged 154% as the growing ranks of wealthy consumers want more opulent toys. Dubuc Motors intends to penetrate this niche market and produce the most sophisticated connected sports car yet with its Tomahawk EV.
- See more at: http://renewablenow.biz/the-sustainble-auto.html#sthash.TNGuFn2T.dpuf

Advancements in Battery Technology for Heavy Duty Transit

We see this as a key indicator that hybrids and electric drive with continue to make in-roads on trucks and buses.  These systems are enhanced by regeneration and renewable systems as well that keep the batteries charged.

There is lots more stories on our main site this week as well at Renewable Now.biz:

Proterra, the market leader of zero-emission, battery-electric buses in North America, today announced a new battery design for the Proterra Catalyst® XR transit vehicle at the American Public Transportation Association Bus and Paratransit Conference (APTA), a gathering for U.S. transit agencies to showcase the best innovations in mass transit. Within the same energy storage footprint as the original Catalyst XR, the battery-enhanced vehicle now holds 28 percent more energy at 330 kWh and a best-in-market lightweight vehicle body. All current Catalyst XR customers will receive a complimentary upgrade to the higher energy level.

"Our goal is to enable a complete replacement of fossil-fueled transit vehicles," said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. "By steadily improving the range and charging capability of our purpose-built EV transit vehicles, we're broadening the market for EV transit very quickly, enabling more cities and more routes to go Zero Emission sooner."

Since establishing its state-of-the-art battery-engineering lab in Silicon Valley, Proterra has attracted world-class engineers from leading technology companies to design batteries specifically for heavy-duty EV transit. With extensive background in mechanical, electrical and battery systems engineering, the team architected a new Catalyst XR battery pack for optimal efficiency which now delivers additional range while remaining the lightest vehicle in its class.

"By increasing the battery's energy density, the team was able to utilize the Catalyst vehicle's purpose-built design and maintain its light weight," said Gary Horvat, chief technology officer at Proterra. "The improved Catalyst XR marks another step toward Proterra's goal of providing a high-performance bus that can serve any transit route in the United States."

The award-winning bus has already achieved the best efficiency rating ever for a 40′ transit bus at 22 MPGe. Nearly six times more efficient than a diesel or CNG bus, the Catalyst is also significantly more energy efficient per mile than the closest competitors' electric bus. Other performance benefits of the Catalyst XR2 include:

Longest nominal range: capable of traveling a maximum of 194 miles on a single charge, based on Altoona efficiency measures.  Actual mileage will vary with route conditions.

Lightest weight: at least 2,000 lbs. lighter than any other 40' battery electric bus on the market, while being more efficient.
Designed for safety: Catalyst vehicles are purpose-built and engineered for the safest location of batteries—outside of the passenger compartment. The batteries are temperature-controlled and incorporate both active and passive safety systems, with ruggedized, reinforced battery packs that are further separated from passengers by a heavy-duty structural barrier.

Transit agencies interested in assessing route-specific range along with the cost savings, performance and environmental benefits of the updated Catalyst XR, can now receive accurate system-level data with the new Proterra® EV Simulator, which will be on display at booth 631 during the APTA conference.
- See more at: http://renewablenow.biz/energizing-transit.html#sthash.gkHVN0h5.dpuf

Trees and Your Environment

We are supporters with American Forest and have done many shows on the environmental and economic value of trees.   Here's a great article recapping the benefits, and it is a good time of year to plant.  .

Trees and Your Environment

We're proud of the thousands of trees we have been responsible for planning through donations to Trees for the Future . Here's a look at why we think that trees are important at Clean Air Gardening, and why we'll continue planting more of them.

Planting trees in your neighborhood really is one of the best things you can do for the local environment and for the planet. It’s no secret that trees help the environment, but you may be surprised by all the benefits that planting trees can provide. Besides producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide and contaminants from the air, trees have many other social, economic, and environmental benefits.


Environmental Benefits of Planting Trees

Trees are like the lungs of the planet. They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Additionally, they provide habitat for birds and other wildlife. But that’s not all trees do for us! To see just how much trees are essential to the planet and to humans, let’s look at the following statistics:
  • CO2 is one of the major contributing elements to the greenhouse effect. Trees trap CO2 from the atmosphere and make carbohydrates that are used for plant growth. They give us oxygen in return. According to ColoradoTree.org, about 800 million tons of carbon are stored in the trees that make up the urban forests of the U.S. This translates to a savings of $22 billion in control costs. Mature trees can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year. The tree in turn releases enough oxygen to sustain two human beings.
  • Trees also help to reduce ozone levels in urban areas. In New York City, a 10 percent increase in urban canopy translated to a reduction of peak ozone levels by around 4 parts per billion. (Source: Luley, Christopher J.; Nowak, David J. 2004. Help Clear the Smog with Your Urban Forest: What You and Your Urban Forest Can Do About Ozone.)
  • Trees reduce urban runoff and erosion by storing water and breaking the force of rain as it falls. The USDA reports that 100 mature trees can reduce runoff caused by rainfall by up to 100,000 gallons!
  • Trees also absorb sound and reduce noise pollution. This is especially important for people who live near freeways. In some cases, a well planted group of trees can reduce noise pollution by up to 10 decibels. (Source: New Jersey Forest Service.)
  • Additionally, trees shade asphalt and trees, reducing what is know as the “Heat Island” effect. The EPA has some great information on how planting trees and other vegetation can help to reduce the urban heat island effect.

 How Trees Help to Save Energy

Planting trees can also help cool your home in the summer. The Arbor Day Foundation states that the overall effect of the shade created by planting a healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners running 20 hours a day!

In the winter, trees can act as windbreaks for your home and will help you save on heating costs. The Journal of Horticulture claims that saving on heating costs can reach as much as 25 percent!

Trees shade buildings, streets, and homes. If enough trees are planted in cities, the overall microclimate improves and total energy use for heating and cooling is reduced. The EPA has some great information on how planting trees and other vegetation can help to reduce the overall high temperature of your city!

Social and Economic Benefits of Planting Trees

Health Benefits of Nature

Just being around trees makes you feel good. Can you imagine your community without trees? Trees, especially in urban areas, have numerous social benefits. For example, the addition of trees to a neighborhood or a business district can greatly improve the mental and physical health of residents and workers. In fact, the University of Cambridge did a study on job satisfaction of employees of business with a view of trees from their office. They found that these employees suffered from fewer diseases than workers without a view of trees. See here for more information on the study.

Another example is with children with learning disorders. As a form of therapy, children that suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can benefit from the presence of trees and other greenery. Kids with ADHD have been proven to be calmer, more responsive, and better able to concentrate when in a space with lots of trees. (Source: Taylor, A.F.; Kuo, F.; Sullivan,W. 2001. Coping with ADD: The Surprising Connection to Green Play Settings. Environment and Behavior)

Trees and their Benefits for Neighborhoods

Additionally, have you considered that planting a tree can significantly increase your property values? As an example, the U.S. Tax Court recently calculated a value of 9 percent ($15,000) for the removal of a large black oak on a piece of property valued at $164,500. (Source: Neely, D., ed. 1988. Valuation of Landscape Trees, Shrubs, and Other Plants.)

Houses with trees are also more attractive to visitors, potential buyers, and neighbors. Neighborhoods with lots of trees also report less crime! (Source: Kuo, F.; Sullivan,W. 2001. Environment and Crime in the Inner City: Does Vegetation Reduce Crime? Environment and Behavior 33(3).) There is no doubt that if you plant trees in your community, people will see and feel the difference.

As you can see, it's clear that trees are essential to our life on the planet. The great thing is that we as humans can play an active role in planting trees to help offset deforestation and urbanization. Not only can you plant trees in your yard, you can also get involved in local tree planting activities on Arbor Day.

If you need more reasons to plant trees, the United States Department of Agriculture has a complete list of statistics regarding the environmental, economic, and social benefits of planting trees. Some of the statistics from this article are included in the PDF file referenced above, as well as many others.