Monday, 1 July 2013

It is not all doom gloom about the climate.

One could be forgiven, looking at climate predictions, for thinking the future is going to be very bleak. But such pessimism may not be warranted. Recent headline making stories point to better things to come.

New battery testing...

Stanford researchers have developed a zinc air-battery that has twice the energy density of Li-ion Batteries and is more durable. It would be nice to have my bat phone go a couple of days without needing a charge. If that doesn't impress, US Department of Energy researchers have developed a solid sulphur battery, with four times the energy density of Li-ion batteries, and is safer because it does not present the same level of fire hazard presented by Li-ion batteries. Boeing are dead keen for this type of battery technology because for now they have to shelve the 787 Dreamliner because the lithium batteries aren't safe enough, and they already had fire issues.

Trash in a clean get away

Kāpiti Council has just bought a garbage truck. "Woopdee" I hear you say. Ok, this struck costs about the same to buy (NZ$200,00) as any similar truck running on diesel, but this truck's maintenance costs are a third of the cost associated with a similar diesel power vehicle. It takes six hours to charge overnight.  The Truck is manufactured by Zero Emission Vehicles in Palmerston North. Who were previously looking at offering electric powered buses. Companies like this are key to a Zero Carbon/Carbon Negative future, and our government still snubs them while giving NZ$40m in subsidies to mineral exploration companies and gives them permission to operate with insufficient disaster insurance worth an mere NZ$30m. But that said, huge bouquets are deserved by Kapiti Council for making a smart choice, and to ZEV for developing the vehicles of the future.

Power games for the planet...

One of the problems facing the environmental movement has been a lack of leadership where it counts - in the moneyed elite. But finally someone has stood up to take the next step forward. Richard Branson has launched the B Team Project with the purpose of developing a "plan-B" for the environment.  The B-Team comprises 14 leading business people including a former executive from Puma. These people have access to politicians. Traditionally this has been part of the problem, business interests being served by cronyism in the halls of power. But now that can be turned on itself to push towards an environment that we can survive or even thrive in.

This is only a beginning, and popular movements are still vital for applying pressure, civil disobedience, let's not get to the point where direct action or popular coup is needed. Tim deChristopher however is on to something. And the US is still where change needs to happen to provide leadership to other countries, especially in asia. While The goverment make peacemeal changes, there is still trouble ahead, because that alone is not enough. Keystone XL will alone drive CO2 to 540ppm. But the popular is strong movement and is make a strong case. Even President Obama was move to say to deniers "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat-Earth Society". Incidentally, following the president's comment, the Flat-Earth Society's President announced accepts climate change.

Finding a dessert in a desert...

Perhaps one of the most concerning symptoms seen in climate change, is desertification. It turns our dessertified land isn't any drier in terms of rainfall as healthy grassland. What is different is that rainwater evaporates quickly, because the vegetation is not there to capture the water and shelter the soil. Research by one scientist, perhaps shows how to reverse desertification, and perhaps CO2 levels.  His work shows that to have healthy soil in grass land, the vegetation needs to be broken down quickly through biological processes. On dessertified grass land vegetation breaks down slowly, by oxidation. Otherwise people burnt it off, releasing per hectare as much carbon into the atmosphere as 6000 cars.

Grassland organisms evolved as a mixture of grasses trees, bacteria, herd animals  and predators. Some years ago this scientist made a grave mistake (one he believes will haunt him for his remaining days), his advice led to the kulling of 40,000 African elephants on the hypothesis that the land was too stressed to support them. But the land got worse. This led him in a new direction, making him realise that herd animals were an essential ingredient in a healthy grassland. Since then his new hypothesis has played out successfully in areas where livestock have been introduced to act as an analogue for herd animals absent grass land in various parts of the world bringing these lands back to a lush green and productive state.

See Also
  Sulphur battery
  Zinc-Air battery
  Battery operated trash truck
  B Team

No comments:

Post a Comment