Governments must plan for migration in response to climate change, researchers say


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Governments around the world must be prepared for mass migrations caused by rising global temperatures or face the possibility of calamitous results, say University of Florida scientists on a research team reporting in the Oct. 28 edition of Science.

If global temperatures increase by only a few of degrees by 2100, as predicted by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, people around the world will be forced to migrate. But transplanting populations from one location to another is a complicated proposition that has left millions of people impoverished in recent years. The researchers say that a word of caution is in order and that governments should take care to understand the ramifications of forced migration.

A consortium of 12 scientists from around the world, including two UF researchers, gathered last year at the Rockefeller Foundation‘s Bellagio Center to review 50 years of research related to population resettlement following natural disasters or the installation of infrastructure development projects such as dams and pipelines. The group determined that resettlement efforts in the past have left communities in ruin, and that policy makers need to use lessons from the past to protect people who are forced to relocate because of climate change.

“The effects of climate change are likely to be experienced by as many people as disasters,” UF anthropologist Anthony Oliver-Smith said. “More people than ever may be moving in response to intense storms, increased flooding and drought that makes living untenable in their current location.”

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Space Debris, More Efficient LEDs, and Thinner, Cheaper Solar Cells


Advancing the Science and Technology of Light

Advancing the Science and Technology of Light

The Optical Society’s Renewable Energy & the Environment Congress highlights the role of optics in energy generation and conservation

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25—Scientists and engineers from around the world will convene in Austin, Texas next week as experts gather to discuss recent advances in optics and photonics—the branch of physics dealing with the science of light—affecting renewable energy and environmental research.

Journalists are invited to the Optical Society’s (OSA) Optics and Photonics Congress: Renewable Energy & the Environment, which will be held at the Omni Austin Hotel Nov. 2-3. Four co-located meetings will cover optics for solar energy, solid-state and organic lighting, photovoltaics, and instrumentation for energy and environmental applications . Press registration details are below.

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Weather satellite budget cuts a ‘disaster in the making’


Jane Lubchenco, head of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, criticises GOP moves to cut funding for critical satellite

The weather satellite – shown here over Cuba

The weather satellite – shown here over Cuba – provides 90% of the data used by the National Weather Service and the UK Met Office. Photograph: Getty Images

«America and Europe face a “disaster in the making” because of Congress budget cuts to a critical weather satellite, one of Barack Obama’s top science officials has warned.

The satellite crosses the Earth’s poles 14 times a day, monitoring the atmosphere, clouds, ice, vegetation, and oceans. It provides 90% of the information used by the National Weather Service, UK Met Office and other European agencies to predict severe storms up to seven days in advance.

But Republican budget-cutting measures would knock out that critical capacity by delaying the launch of the next generation of polar-orbiting satellites, said Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.

“It is a disaster in the making. It’s an expression of the dysfunction in our system,” said Lubchenco, who was speaking at a dinner on the sidelines of the Society of Environmental Journalists meeting in Miami.

It would cost three to five times more to rebuild the project after a gap than to keep the funds flowing. “It’s insanity,” Lubchenco said.”»

More (Click here),, US environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 October 2011

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Reports of the death of solar power are greatly exaggerated


US solar company Solyndra‘s bankruptcy filing was a result of a drop in the cost of silicon, not scandal and impropriety

Solar Power in California

US solar company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy recently, but should not be read as the death of the US solar industry. Photograph: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The solar company Solyndra recently filed for bankruptcy, which media reports have depicted as the end of solar power in the U.S. This is like saying there is no future for the internet because Netscape went out of business.

The molar-grinding irony of it all is that Solyndra was the victim of a big success — the price of solar power has fallen rapidly, making more expensive technologies like theirs uncompetitive, but more importantly, making solar power a real player in the U.S. energy economy.

Since October of 2008, the average price of solar modules has fallen from $4.20 per watt to around $1.20 to $1.50 per watt today. These are mind-boggling reductions. And these new prices are resulting in extraordinary market development. As of June, California utilities have signed over eight gigawatts of solar contracts … half of which are below the price of new natural gas generation. That’s right. Gigawatts of solar cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives. …

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Climate action a ‘moral responsibility’


Chinese climatologist says the world must work together on global warming.

Qin Dahe

Qin Dahe. - Stephen Shaver/UPI Photo/Newscom

Global warming is causing changes in glaciers, permafrost and snow cover in Central Asia, threatening the livelihood of millions of people in the region. Nature spoke with Qin Dahe, a glaciologist at the Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou and co-chairman of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the International Symposium on Changing Cryosphere, Water Availability and Sustainable Development in Central Asia held last week in Urumqi, China, where he gave un update on the IPCC’s work. Qin tells Nature how the panel is working to ensure scientific rigor in the upcoming assessment report, and what the world must do to tackle global warming. …

Given the deadlock of recent rounds of climate negotiation, what must the world do to limit and mitigate climate change?

Despite uncertainties, one thing is absolutely clear: global warming is real and poses a significant threat to civilizations worldwide, and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases can mitigate the problem. The process of climate negotiation has been frustratingly slow, but it’s encouraging that the world has committed to a goal of keeping temperature increases to less than 2 ºC. Both developed and developing countries must work together to share the obligation of emissions reduction. We must act now. This is our moral responsibility towards future generations.”

More (Click here), Jane Qiu, 20 October 2011 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2011.604

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Ottawa Solar Power Installs FIT Compliant Solar Energy System at Drouin Farms


One of first FIT projects installed in Ontario with Conergy’s FIT Compliant Conergy ON modules

Ottawa Solar Power installing Conergy ON modules at Drouin Farms

Ottawa Solar Power installing Conergy ON modules at Drouin Farms

Toronto, Ontario (PRWEB) October 06, 2011

Drouin Farms, a large family run egg producer who has made the commitment to move to organic farming, is now taking its operations solar with a 250 kW solar energy system. The solar energy system was installed by Ottawa Solar Power, the largest provider of solar solutions in Eastern Ontario. Leveraging Ontario’s FIT program, the new solar energy system will provide Drouin Farms an additional revenue stream to diversify its income and expands its operations. The Drouin Farms solar project will produce energy generation revenue that is expected to achieve up to 11% return on their investment and will reach its financial break even point in less than 8 years. Producing over 300,000 kWh per year, the project achieves significant environmental benefits by reducing CO2 emissions from non renewable power generation by 2,800 tons annually and produce the energy equivalent to the power consumption of 30 average homes.

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EarthTechling also reports on the Drouin installation: “Solar FIT A ‘Good Egg’ For Ontario Farm” (Click here), by Lauren Craig, October 20th, 2011

Ontario likes its eggs sunny-side up – literally. The province’s aggressive feed-in tariff (FIT) program has prompted Drouin Farms, a large family-owned organic egg producer, to install a 250-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system. Producing over 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year, the project will reduce CO2 emissions by 2,800 tons annually and produce enough electricity to power about 30 homes.

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Andasol Now Europe’s Biggest Solar Plant


Andasol 3

Andasol 3 - image via Solar Millennium

As reported at EarthTechling by Lauren Craig, October 18th, 2011, the largest solar power plant in Europe is officially up and running. The 50-megawatt (MW) Andasol 3 parabolic trough plant, together with the Andasol 1 and 2 plants, creates a 150-MW behemoth in Andalusia, Spain.

Andasol 3 is expected to generate approximately 165 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, and save about 150,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

During construction the project employed nearly 600 people and continuing operation and maintenance of the facility will create about 50 permanent jobs. The power plant has about 205,000 parabolic reflectors that concentrate solar heat into a heat transfer fluid, transmitting the heat through a steam circuit to drive a turbine, producing electricity. A thermal storage tank holding 30,000 tons of a special blend of salts can store heat for eight hours, allowing Andasol 3 to continue to generate electricity at night.

“Andasol 3 proves that converting Europe’s electricity production methods can be achieved far more efficiently if we take an international approach, rather than pursuing national concepts,” said Hans Bünting, chief financial officer of RWE Innogy, one of the collaborating builders. “I see this power plant as a role model for the rest of Europe; it may even generate the impetus needed for the development of a European market with common regulations for renewable energy sources.”

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