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Author Topic: The Big Picture of Renewable Energy Growth  (Read 18124 times)

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Re: The Big Picture of Renewable Energy Growth
« Reply #195 on: July 11, 2016, 06:54:02 pm »

July 11, 2016

Germany Ends Feed-In-Tariffs

The German Parliament voted for a law to replace the current feed-in-tariffs for wind and solar with competitive auctions that will set the price for electricity generation.
Currently, 33 percent of Germany’s energy mix comes from renewable energy and the target is to reach 45 percent by 2025.

Under the new law, starting in 2017 prices will be set competitively at annual auctions and the total expansion for onshore wind will be capped at 2.8 GW and will vary for offshore wind.

Critics fear this development could spell the end of citizen-owned projects with only big corporations being able to build wind farms. (BusinessGreen, Financial Times $, Wall Street Journal $, Bloomberg BNA, reNEWS)

Sea Otters Are Climate Champions
Researchers have discovered that the humble sea otter plays an important role in managing carbon dioxide levels in the Aleutian Islands, which stretch across the North Pacific Ocean from Alaska to the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia.

In his latest book, marine biologist James Estes says that by feeding on sea urchins, sea otters are preventing them from ravaging kelp forests.

Hence, by helping ensure the continued existence of rich kelp forests, sea otters protect a key carbon sink, since the kelp forests absorb substantial amounts of carbon.

“The difference in annual absorption of atmospheric carbon from kelp photosynthesis between a world with and a world without sea otters is somewhere between 13 and 43 billion kg (13 and 43 teragrams) of carbon,” says Estes.

Mangrove Die-Off in Australia Led by Climate ChangeAbout 7,000 hectares of mangroves in Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria have died due to climate change and El Nino. According to Norm Duke, an expert in mangrove ecology from James Cook University, this mangrove die-off has been the worst in the world.

Typically the death of mangroves happens naturally at a smaller scale, but the massive death of mangroves that occurred in a single month was unprecedented.

An unusually long dry-season in Carpentaria caused the mangroves to die en mass, according to Duke. "This is what climate change looks like. You see things push the maximums or minimums,” he says.

Climate change
warmed waters in the area that made rainfall more erratic and, along with the strong El Nino this year, pushed mangroves beyond their tolerance threshold. Australia is also reeling from mass coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef and mass deaths of kelp forests off the coast of Western Australia. (Guardian, ABC Australia, Sky News, News.com.au, IB Times $)


Meaningless, Mean-Spirited McCarthyism: Lamar Smith’s Ironic Investigations

Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who’s received more funding from fossil fuels than any other industry, has repeated his request for private communications between the attorneys general investigating what #ExxonKnew and a handful of NGOs who have exercised their constitutional right to petition those AGs.

As chair of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Smith has taken it upon himself to return Congress to the glory days of Joseph McCarthy, only instead of smoking out communists Smith is hunting for those who threaten his fossil fuel donor base.

Though the McCarthy comparison may seem hyperbolic, it is unfortunately all too literal. Smith is, at least implicitly, embracing McCarthyism. To justify his demands for information, Smith invokes two Supreme Court rulings that dealt with the infamously paranoid and ruinous Congressman. In essence, Smith seems to think that anything McCarthy could do, he can do better.

Even more embarrassing is that one of the two cases cited by Smith shows that not only is his harassment campaign unjustified, but it is in fact doubly unconstitutional. This information and the quotes that follow are from a letter that Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) sent him on June 23 (h/t ICN) after Smith demanded documents last month. You may remember Congresswoman Johnson as the one who sent Smith a letter in response to his NOAA harassment that was described as a blisteringly brutal thing of beauty. This latest letter is just as good, if not better, throwing shade harder than a Drake diss track and calling out irony better than Alanis Morissette ever could.

In addition to identifying multiple ways that “This ‘investigation’ is illegitimate” (like how Smith is violating the Tenth Amendment by usurping states’ power) and an “abuse of authority,” Johnson looked into the two SCOTUS cases Smith invoked to justify his witch hunt. Johnson writes: “Both of these cases involved the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)...If ever there was an example of a ‘witch hunt’ in the history of the United States Congress, the HUAC investigations best fit the bill. For that reason, it is more than a little disconcerting that [Smith] think(s) those cases’ fact patterns so closely resemble [his] own investigation.”

Lamar Smith's Modus Operandi

But it gets even worse than merely mimicking McCarthy, as Smith has done, because “Rather than supporting the legal grounds of [Smith’s] investigation, the Watkins decision is actually an indictment against it.” So, she writes, “based on the legal authorities [Smith himself has] cited, this ‘investigation’ violates the Constitution.” This means that Smith is not only aware that he’s following in McCarthy’s footsteps, but also that he can’t even be factually accurate in doing so.
As per the Watkins ruling, the only way Smith’s investigation would be legitimate would be if Congress were considering legislation relevant to the issue, the most plausible of which Johnson says would be “altering Federal fraud and RICO Act statutes to inappropriately help Big Oil avoid potential liability.” But even then Smith wouldn’t have jurisdiction, because “such a bill would not come anywhere near the jurisdiction of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.”

Ironically, under the guise of protecting ExxonMobil’s constitutional right to free speech,
Smith is himself acting unconstitutionally. And in doing so, he is infringing on the constitutional right of NGOs to petition their government to enforce their laws (in this case by investigating potential fraud.) That’s two unconstitutionals in one! What a deal!

Finally, Johnson points out the irony of Smith’s accusation that the #ExxonKnew investigations might be “having a chilling effect  on the free flow of scientific inquiry and debate regarding climate change.” But of course, if anyone is guilty of such a “chilling” it would be Smith, who spent months attacking NOAA over a study that debunked the denier-favorite “pause.” And what of that witch hunt? “In the end, [Smith’s] investigation, like so many recent Science Committee investigations, found nothing.”

This is why she describes the Committee as becoming “more like a Committee on Harassment. The Committee’s prolific, aimless and jurisdictionally questionable oversight activities have grown increasingly mean-spirited and meaningless.”

Harsh words from Johnson, but fair given that Smith is acting as though he’s Chair of the House Un-Scientific Activities Committee. May we suggest a catchy new jingle for Mr. McCarthy 2.0? Double the unconstitutionality, double the irony, in the statements from the Committee of Harassment for Fun.
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Pr. 22:22-23


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