Daily Archives: October 13, 2018

Climate Change Sea Level Rise Will Be Worse Than Imagined

One of the leading climate scientists of our time is warning of the horrifying possibility of 15-to-20 feet of sea-level rise

Jeff Goodell October 12, 2018 12:51PM ET

A boat sits amidst debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida.

Gerald Herbert/AP/REX Shutterstock

Hurricane Michael, the third most intense storm on record to make landfall in the U.S., has caused widespread destruction, turning places like Mexico Beach, Florida, into a hellscape of broken homes and overturned cars. It will be a while before we learn the full extent of the damage — and the human suffering and death — caused by the storm’s 155 mph winds and the 14-foot storm surge that swamped the coastline.

Bad as the hurricane was, imagine the damage and destruction if that storm surge had been 15 feet or so higher. And if instead of receding, that wall of water never went away. That is what we could be facing in the not-so-distant future if we don’t dramatically cut fossil-fuel pollution.

If that sounds alarmist, watch this short video. In it, you’ll see a scientist named Richard Alley in a Skype discussion with students at Bard College, as well as with Eban Goodstein, director of the Graduate Programs in Sustainability at Bard. It would be just another nerdy Skype chat except Alley is talking frankly about something that few scientists have the courage to say in public: As bad as you think climate change might be in the coming decades, reality could be far worse. Within the lifetime of the students he’s talking with, Alley says, there’s some risk — small but not as small as you might hope — that the seas could rise as much as 15-to-20 feet.

…(read more).

Richard Alley National Climate Seminar Excerpt, 9/19/18, Bard Center for Environmental Policy

For full seminar, go to vimeo.com/291976360

Dr. Alley is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and an Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Penn State. His current research interests include glaciology; ice sheet stability; paleoclimates from ice cores; physical properties of ice cores; and erosion and sedimentation by ice sheets. Along with his many teaching accomplishments, Alley has authored numerous publications, chaired the National Research Council’s panel on abrupt climate change, has been involved with advisory groups to improve national and international research, and has been active with media outreach to translate research findings to a broad audience with appearances on television and radio and in print outlets. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (news.psu.edu/expert/richard-alley).


The  Bard Graduate Programs in Sustainability  offer masters programs in  Environmental Policy,  Climate Science and  Policy, and Sustainable Business. The Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s career-focused, science-based, interdisciplinary master of science programs are located in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley. The rigorous first-year coursework, followed by a required four-to-six-month immersive internship, culminates with a master’s Capstone Project and a 93 percent job placement rate within six months of graduation. Graduates are currently pursuing careers in many fields, such as alternative energy, international development, advocacy/lobbying, conservation, research, and strategic consulting. For more information: bard.edu/cep/.

Nowhere to hide: Using satellite imagery to estimate the utilisation of fossil fuel power plants – Carbon Tracker Initiative

In this report, we present the results from a revolutionary method pioneered by Carbon Tracker to use satellite imagery to estimate the utilisation of fossil fuel power plants.

Using advanced machine learning techniques to process both commercial and public satellite images of coal plants, we explore the potential to estimate the capacity factors of coal plants in regions where data is inadequate for investors, policymakers and campaigners to make informed decisions. This analysis brings asset-level data to life by making it possible to develop actionable climate scenario analysis for coal power. It can also help investors gain trading insights in emerging Asian economies, which are significant contributors to global GDP and have considerable fossil fuel exposure.

Space revolution – data provision is going to improve in ways previously unimaginable

There is a revolution happening in space. As of August 2017, there were nearly 1,800 operational satellites in orbit. Of these, 596 are used for earth observation. Planet, a commercial satellite provider, has over 175 satellites in orbit, enabling them to produce an image anywhere on the globe with up to 30 cm resolution. The space revolution is part of a wider digital revolution coursing through every sector of the economy from manufacturing to finance – cloud computing, predicative analytics and remote sensing – and transforming the power sector as well. This paradigm shift in the availability, coverage and granularity of satellite imagery coupled with advances in machine learning are going to have profound implications for asset-level data and environmental monitoring.

Asset utilisation – a vital and elusive variable

Plant utilisation is essential for economic analysis of power generation assets, as plants derive the majority of their revenues through the volume of electricity they produce and sell through tariffs and wholesale pricing. However, in many power markets outside the EU and the US, plant utilisation data is often untimely, unreliable or publicly-unavailable. These markets, where governments and asset owners are either unable or unwilling to provide granular and timely data, are predicted to dominate global demand growth for both power generation and fossil capacity. For instance, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China could represent around one-third of power generation and over 20% of fossil fuel-based capacity globally by 2040. The Paris Agreement requires a relatively rapid phaseout of coal fleet by 2040. Decision-makers need support to ensure an orderly and economically rational phase-out. Asset-level data and modelling lies at the heart of these retirement schedules. Our methodology can improve the data provision and accuracy of asset-level modelling.

Nowhere to hide – model accuracy of ~90%

Our modelling techniques showed that satellite imagery can independently derive coal power plant capacity factors when aggregated at local levels. For instance, the average precision of our model for predicting capacity factors of US and EU plants was 91% and 92%, respectively. Modelling accuracy was strongly influenced by a number of factors, including:

(i) available images due to both cloud cover and satellite revisit rate;
(ii) differences in cooling technology between plants; and
(iii) the size of the plant.

Nonetheless, these results suggest that a quantitative methodology to estimate the capacity factor using satellite imagery is potentially feasible. As the quality of satellite imagery improves, we expect our methodology to be a powerful tool for investors, policymakers and campaigners to navigate the transition away from fossil fuel power generation.

Making asset-level data actionable – shining a spotlight on China

As decision-makers turn their focus towards phasing-out existing fossil fuel power capacity, the data requirement will need to become timelier and more accurate. For example, the IEA, stated in 2015 that Chinese coal demand would peak in 2030 – only to say in 2016 that Chinese coal demand had already peaked in 2013. Moreover, for asset-level inventory data to be actionable it will need to be translated into economic and financial outcomes. We applied our satellite imagery methodology and integrated the plant utilisation results at the local level to our ‘investment grade’ climate scenario analysis for coal power in China, of which provides insight into when coal plants should close and the potential stranded asset risk of delaying their retirement.

The headline findings from our coal power analysis for China, include:

  • Owing to high fuel costs (capacity-weighted average of $85/t), 40% of the coal fleet may be cash-flow negative in 2018 and due to carbon pricing ($40/t by 2040) and air pollution regulation 95% of the fleet could be cash-flow negative by 2040;
  • It will be cheaper to build new onshore wind than operate coal by 2021 and solar PV by 2025; and
  • As the majority of units are loss-making from 2018 to 2040, Chinese coal power owners can avoid losing $390 bn by retiring the operating fleet in a manner consistent with the Paris Agreement. Cost-optimised retirement schedules show Guangdong Yudean Group, Zhejiang Energy Group and National Energy Investment Group could benefit the most from premature closures consistent with Paris, with asset stranding as a percentage of total capital of 117%, 101% and 52%, respectively.

…(read more)

See: https://www.carbontracker.org/

La Palma Mega Tsunami.mov

Published on Jun 22, 2012

This movie shows a physics-based computer simulation of a Mega Tsunami generated by a flank collapse of La Palma, Canary Islands. The movie focuses on the maximum expected runup of the waves on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. For more tsunami/natural hazard information visit http://es.ucsc.edu/~ward.

NOVA – Hurricane Katrina The Storm That Drowned A City

Published on Aug 29, 2012

PBS predicted Hurrican Katrina disaster

Published on Apr 8, 2011

Years before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, PBS Nova ScienceNow did a piece on the massive impact a hurricane would have. They predicted the failure of the levies, the swamping of the city, the failure of the eroded wetlands to soften the blow. Truly a prescient bit of video right here, considering what happened soon after. Please note: This small segment is used for educational uses and as such is condiered FAIR USE under U.S. law.

Etna Tsunami Impact Analysis


Published on Oct 13, 2018

Daily Sun, Earth and Space Science Did you miss part 1? https://youtu.be/x8ZxP8ZX4Nw
[This is probably the worst-case scenario depicted here]

Ingomar200 Video: https://youtu.be/PQcpys0QHmA

Stephen Ward: https://websites.pmc.ucsc.edu/~ward/

New Scientist Video: https://youtu.be/k-DJkj5yr9E

Vivek Maru: How Can We Make Legal Support Accessible To All? : NPR

October 12, 20189:24 AM ET   Heard on TED Radio Hour

About Vivek Maru

Vivek Maru is the founder and CEO of Namati, an organization that builds networks of community paralegals across the globe. These paralegals have worked with over 65,000 community members to protect their basic rights and community lands.

Maru also convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, an organization of more than 1,000 groups from 150 countries who come together to tackle common legal challenges.

Before founding Namati, he was a Finberg Fellow at Human Rights Watch, a senior counsel for the World Bank’s Justice Reform Group, and the director of the World Bank Justice for the Poor Program in Sierra Leone.

He was named an Ashoka Fellow and one of the Schwab Foundation’s 2017 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year.

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Hacking The Law.

About Vivek Maru’s TED Talk

Often, people who don’t understand the law or can’t pay for lawyers end up being mistreated. Lawyer and social entrepreneur Vivek Maru calls for a global community of paralegals to place the law on the side of the people.

…(read more).

Hurricane Michael threatens Florida as Category 3 storm

CBS Evening News

Published on Oct 9, 2018

Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon. It’s 500 miles wide and packing winds of 120 miles per hour. WCBS chief weathercaster Lonnie Quinn is tracking the forecast.

Hurricane Michael: Who will pay for the damages?

Fox Business
Published on Oct 12, 2018

Deloitte Services LP’s Howard Mills on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.