Climate clippings 120

1. Pope Francis becomes active on climate change

Pope Francis is going to give climate change action a red hot go in 2015:

In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

He also wants to change the financial system from one based on raw consumerist exploitation to one based on ethics which respect ecological principles. He should have a chat with Naomi Klein!

Giles Parkinson has more at RenewEconomy, including the note that Pope Benedict kicked things off by buying carbon credits in the form of a Hungarian forest to make the Vatican carbon neutral, and the possibility that the Catholic church may divest funds invested in the fossil fuel industry.

2. 2014: the year climate change undeniably arrived

John H. Cushman Jr. at InsideClimate News in reviewing the year thinks 2014 was the year climate change undeniably arrived. It was the hottest year ever, the science became conclusive, and a mushrooming climate movement pressed world leaders to act, which to some extent they did.

On the science, he was referring mainly to the IPCC report where already in 2013 the Physical Science Working Group moved the probability of human causation up a notch from “very likely” (>90%) to “extremely likely” (>95%) which is about as good as it gets. In the Synthesis Report of 2014 the language was ramped up saying that harm from greater warming if we stay on the current course could be “severe, pervasive and irreversible.”

Action looked promising with mitigation pledges by the EU, China and the US, also the UN climate talks at Lima.

On the “mushrooming climate movement he is talking about a:

phenomenon that emerged in a spectacular way in September, on the eve of Ban Ki-moon’s UN summit—the coming of age of a new popular movement demanding climate action now.

Hundreds of thousands of marchers filled the streets of Manhattan, curb to curb for 50 blocks or more. Their presence attested to a new dynamic in which inside-the-beltway lobbyists and well-heeled think tanks joined forces with grassroots anti-fracking and anti-pipeline protestors, in which labor unions and school kids found common cause.

A fine effort, but then, you see, sensible voters stayed at home and allowed the Republicans to take over Congress.

3. Precarious Climate

Climate and political blogger James Wight at Precarious Climate reviews the year, kind of, mostly by listing his best posts.

The last, Australia continues climate obstructionism in Lima, was an excellent wrap of the Lima talks. I was not aware (I’d wondered) that Julie Bishop is a climate denier, along with Andrew Robb, just the pair we needed to represent us at international climate talks.

4. Utility scale solar surges

But not in Australia:


The big surge is in Asia and North America, but other continents have come to life through installations in Chile and South Africa.

5. Production of shale oil increases

The production of shale oil in North Dakota has increased month by month in 2014, in spite of falling prices.


Meanwhile falling oil prices have hidden a new global warming fee on the purchase of gasoline in California.

6. Compressed air technology

Not everyone reads the discussion threads, so I’m repeating here some links made by Jumpy to compressed-air technology.

Danielle Fong with her company LightSail Energy is bringing compressed-air energy storage technology to the market.

Both Peugot and Citroën are developing compressed-air hybrid cars that use 2 litres per 100 kilometres of fuel. Apart from the hybrid compressed-air powertrain both cars are using light-weight materials and aerodynamics to improve economy. The also have narrow tyres pumped up high.

Of course these cars use twice as much fuel as the electric hybrid Volkswagen XL1 which plans to put 250 cars on the road, at a price. That article is from July 2013 – not sure how they are going.

11 thoughts on “Climate clippings 120”

  1. I think that the VW was decided to be a bridge too far for the time being particularly considering the degree of political wavering at the hands of Climate Denialists who are having the effect of slowing technological change and alternatives uptake rate.

    Audi developed a plug in hybride drive package that achieves 2 litres per 100 klm and has a 50 to 60 klm all electric range powered from a 9 kwhr battery. This is what powers Audi’s A3 hybride at $60,000. VW have put together a vehicle that uses Audi’s A3 drive train at $50,000, but this is not being imported into Australia at this stage.

    This is an awesome combination and right for the time particularly as it requires no design compromises and the vehicle is a regular body just with a different power system. Furthermore for any one who can fit the 50 klm all electric range into their daily commute with a night time off peak charge that will cost $1, or a night charge and a day at work charge which will cost $3 for the 100 klm round trip commute. If the driver is lead footed the engine will be cutting in to provide the extra power during acceleration.

    One huge advantage of the smaller battery pack is that its replacement cost is very manageable, and the depleted pack at 7kwhrs is a very usable module for domestic backup power storage from rooftop solar. Also those keeping up with what is happening in the battery world…..

    …..will know that by the time their first Audi or VW battery is requiring replacement there will be an 18 kwhr battery ready to take the original 9 kwhr battery’s place, doubling the all electric range to over 100 klms.

    I am not a great fan of Compressed air storage, however, Danielle Fong’s proposal makes good functional sense if it in fact stacks up commercially. I am prepared to be converted.

    2014? don’t worry, the denialists will be counting every single snow flake looking for a huge number of something to support their impending ice age fantasy.

    For my part, my new years resolution is that this will be the “solar” year when I put together prototypes of the system that I have been evaluating for some time, and I now have a much better understanding of the design considerations of absorptive air conditioners this being a very large component in taking solar from 15 % efficiency to 60% for rooftop systems. The power companies are playing their greedy part by keeping electricity prices at the exploitative level thereby maintaining the cost justification for domestic rooftop solar. It is all good, apart from the oppresive heat and humidity, the fires, and the lightning.

  2. The Peugot article is very interesting, but the take away quote for me was

    “The demonstrator provides a snapshot of the full range of technologies used in
    meeting the government’s goal of achieving a fuel efficiency of just 2.0 l/100 km.”

    Some active constructive guidence from government, how novel.

  3. Thanks, BilB for the comments on compressed-air and the rest.

    @2 the first link is 4 November, but still a worry.

    @3 I understand the Europeans do have car emissions standards.

  4. Get ready for an outbreak of “No Popery!!” from the flat-earth mob. Pope Frank The Beaut is probably scaring the living daylights out of them.

    So far as I know, the concept of environmental stewardship had been part of Catholic and other Christian thinking and practice for quite a while before Pope Frank The Beaut was elected. Still, having the head of one of Christendom’s major denominations speak out like this cheers me up no end.

  5. Clicking around the BOM site ( as you do ) and rainfall across Australia is trending up !
    For the ” driest continent in the world ” that’s a good thing.
    Time to build a few dams though, let’s not get complacent, water’s the most precious commodity on Earth.

  6. Brian
    If I’ve learnt anything from you it’s, not to trust snapshots or short term weather events, but rather long term trends.
    The longer the better.
    Perth and Brisbane are a little down but everywhere else is the same or up.

  7. Jumpy, you are right in principle.

    The last time I looked at the longer term trends in Australian was actually a few years ago, when the map looked similar to the 2014 map. I think at that time only shorter trends were available.

    Take a look at the 1970 to the present map. That’s the weather the farmers are living in. Much like the 2014 map.

    Note too that the green patch in SW Qld was no doubt due to the astonishing floods of 2011. It has barely rained since, and recent rain has been patchy.

  8. Just on compressed-air technology: the benefits are obvious but you can bet your little cotton socks that the flat-earth mob will do what they can to stop any of these funny ideas – just as they did with steam-powered vehicles and just about every other resource-saving technology.

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