The Dream of the Earth by Thomas Berry

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How Much Global Warming Is Guaranteed Even If We Stopped Building Coal-Fired Power Plants Today?

Humanity has yet to reach the point of no return when it comes to catastrophic climate change, according to new calculations. If we content ourselves with the existing fossil-fuel infrastructure we can hold greenhouse gas concentrations below 450 parts per million in the atmosphere and limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels—both common benchmarks for international efforts to avoid the worst impacts of ongoing climate change—according to a new analysis in the September 10 issue of Science. The bad news is we are adding more fossil-fuel infrastructure—oil-burning cars, coal-fired power plants, industrial factories consuming natural gas—every day.

A team of scientists analyzed the existing fossil-fuel infrastructure to determine how much greenhouse gas emissions we have committed to if all of that kit is utilized for its entire expected lifetime. The answer: an average of 496 billion metric tons more of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere between now and 2060 in “committed emissions”.

That assumes life spans of roughly 40 years for a coal-fired power plant and 17 years for a typical car—potentially major under- and overestimates, respectively, given that some coal-fired power plants still in use in the U.S. first fired up in the 1950s. Plugging that roughly 500 gigatonne number into a computer-generated climate model predicted CO2 levels would then peak at less than 430 ppm with an attendant warming of 1.3 degrees C above preindustrial average temperature. That’s just 50 ppm higher than present levels and 150 ppm higher than preindustrial atmospheric concentrations.

Still, we are rapidly approaching a point of no return, cautions climate modeler Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, who participated in the study.


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180 Degrees South

Chris Malloy’s film strikes so deeply into the heart of Patagonia’s wilderness we come to feel at home there. 180° South: Conquerors of the Useless follows Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia. Along the way he gets shipwrecked off Easter Island, surfs the longest wave of his life — and prepares himself for a rare ascent of Cerro Corcovado. Jeff’s life turns when he meets up in a rainy hut with Chouinard and Tompkins who, once driven purely by a love of climbing and surfing, now value above all the experience of raw nature — and have come to Patagonia to spend their fortunes to protect it.

Quotes from the movie:

“The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask.”

“To love a place, you must know it first.”

“You can’t just keep trying to make a flawed system work.”

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Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index

Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation’s success by its productivity — instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn’t have to cost the earth). Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised.

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Climate Change Art Contest

Discover how you and others can apply your creativity to raising awareness about the challenge facing our planet.

Submit your original artwork to CoolClimate, on DeviantArt, by August 23rd.

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The Clean Energy Manifesto

Have you read  The Clean Energy Manifesto?

It comes from the summary of an ebook I wrote called Clean Energy Secrets for Homeowners.

To read the manifesto, go to

Feel free to share it with others.

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The world's next resource conflict

BERLIN, Feb. 22 (UPI) — The next resource conflict could be about minerals and rare earth elements needed to fuel the green economy, as China, which supplies most of the minerals, is considering limiting exports.

There is great hope for a green boom to transform the CO2-heavy world economy into one that is less dependent on fossil fuels and more sustainable. Experts envision solar panels and wind turbines to produce clean power and heat and electric cars to cruise tomorrow’s roads.

The problem with these technologies is that they rely on minerals and rare earth elements, or REEs, which are produced by politically unpredictable countries, including China.

The market for REEs — needed for hybrid cars, wind turbines, solar panels and defense industry products such as missiles and radar systems — has tripled in size over the past decade.

Read More

Published: Feb. 22, 2010 at 4:05 PM
By STEFAN NICOLA, UPI Europe Correspondent


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Why not use hydrogen to fuel our cars?

Q: Is hydrogen an environmentally friendly fuel? Why not use hydrogen to fuel our cars?

A: An internal combustion engine does not use an oxygen tank, instead it uses air from the atmosphere free of charge. That air is 80% Nitrogen (N2) and 20% Oxygen (O2). When you combine hydrogen with “air” you generate water (H2O) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx).

Most people don’t realize that when you run Nitrogen (N2) through the combustion chamber you end up generating Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), which is the precursor to smog.

If you want to improve urban air quality, hyrdrogen based fuel is probably moving in the wrong direction.

Other issues concerning the use of hydrogen fuel cells:

  • Safety.  In case of a collision the car must be able to maintain the safety of the hydrogen. This means the hydrogen fueled car must be built heavier which makes the car less fuel efficient.
  • Environmental impact of producing hydrogen. Hydrogen can be produced by two methods:
  • Electrolysis of water.
    Electricity can be used to split water molecules to create pure hydrogen and oxygen. Where does that electricity come from? Burning coal, usually.
  • Reforming Fossil Fuels.
    Oil and natural gas contain hydrocarbons (molecules that contain hydrogen and carbon) Hydrogen can be split off of the carbon. But when you remove hydrogen from a hydrocarbon you generate a byproduct called carbon dioxide. Generating hydrogen from fossil fuel does not make it a renewable or clean energy.
  • The environmental impact of an energy source requires us to consider the cradle to cradle life cycle of that energy source. It does not make sense to burn coal to generate electricity to produce hydrogen to fuel our cars. It does not make sense to use a limited supply of a dirt energy source to generate hydrogen. To be successful, the hydrogen economy must have a large supply of electricity to be used in separate hydrogen from water. The electricity MUST be generated from a clean energy source.

  • Cost. Hydrogen is NOT cheap.

As consumers we MUST all become technically literate AND participate in the discussions required to help form sensible policy.

We must consider the cradle to cradle life cycle of energy sources we use. The health and well being of our planet and our civilization depends upon it.

(Source: most of the content for this post came from an Introduction to Solid State Chemistry video podcast lecture by Donald R. Sadoway of MIT. This course is available for free at

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Build Renewable Energy NOW.

Our desire to live comfortably on this planet does NOT give us the right to kill the oceans.

Offshore drilling is killing the oceans.

Our survival depends on healthy oceans.

We need to replace dirty energy with clean energy.

The amount of work required to replace dirty energy with clean energy is HUGE.

The effort to become a clean energy planet requires that we create 11.5 TW of new non-carbon based energy in the next 25 years.

To generate this much new energy, we will need to retool our global economy.

In chapter 9 of the video lecture below titled “Climate Change Recalculated,” Saul Griffith proposes a plan for what it would take to retool the world energy production.

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President Obama Calls for Bold Action Clean Energy and Climate

In his State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his commitment to bold action on clean energy and climate

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