General Electric Embraces Renewable Energy

“The combination of our renewable project development expertise and GE’s financial strength and risk management will help achieve the ambitious goals set by the government to expand the use of renewable energy in India.
—Vineet Mittal, vice chairman of Welspun Renewables Energy Pvt. Ltd.

For the last few years, I’ve been encouraging the concept that today’s utility companies need to evolve into considering themselves as energy companies rather than just fossil fuel companies. Progress sometimes means we have to let go of the old to make room for the new. Case in point: print journalism. With the internet making access to information so easy, some print publications like Newsweek Magazine have gone the way of the dodo. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

So it does my heart good to see that General Electric (GE) has announced that it will invest more than $1 billion annually in clean energy projects like wind and solar. GE’s Energy Financial Services (EFS) has already invested around $10 billion in creating 17 gigawatts of renewable energy since 2006, so this move demonstrates a real commitment to moving forward with the times.

The Chief Executive Officer of EFS, David Nason, points out that renewable power is GE’s fastest-growing energy market. In his words: Continue reading

At Least One GOP Member Has an Open Mind

“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.”
—E. B. White

Hell froze over? The Leafs won the Stanley Cup?

Not quite, but something almost as unlikely: a Republican changed his mind on climate change. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) is the first GOP member in Congress in at least the last couple of years who has gone from denying the science of global warming and that human activities are the main culprit to accepting it. His acceptance of the basic science was revealed in this past Sunday’s episode of “Years of Living Dangerously,” Showtime’s documentary on climate change.

Like so many other Republicans, Grimm has long been a climate science-denier. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the northeastern seaboard, he told MSNBC the following: Continue reading

The Basic Science Behind Global Warming

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
—Isaac Asimov

Sometimes people need to be reminded of the basic facts. Although when it comes to global warming, the facts aren’t always that basic. But this three-minute video does a good job of giving a brief—albeit high level—summary of the facts.

When it comes to our planet and its average global temperature, it all boils down to how much energy is coming in (from the sun), and how much energy is going out (as radiated heat). And if greenhouse gases help trap that radiating heat, the planet will get hotter until it reaches a new steady state, a new equilibrium.

It’s just basic science.

President Carter and Other Nobel Laureates Say No To Keystone XL

“You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced—climate change.”
—Former President Jimmy Carter, in a joint message to President Obama and Sec. of State Kerry

It should come as no surprise that former Democratic president Jimmy Carter is opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline. Remember, he was the first President to put solar panels on the White House. (Those same solar panels were promptly removed by his successor, Republican President Ronald Reagan.) But Carter has joined a number of other Nobel Prize Laureates who feel the same way in a letter to President Barack Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry. This is a big deal because Jimmy Carter is the only former President to express opposition to Keystone XL so far.

Bill Clinton is the only other living former President who is Democratic, but even he thought a revised route for the pipeline which avoided the Nebraska Sandhills region was acceptable. And of course the Republican Presidents are likely to support the pipeline because it provides Americans with oil. Two years ago, former President George W. Bush described the pipeline as “a no-brainer.” Continue reading

Canada's Energy Industry Number One for Emissions

“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche

When looking at what contributes to an entire country’s greenhouse gas emissions, there are a lot of sources that play a part. Often the largest sources of emissions come from the transportation sector and the energy used in homes and other buildings. Canada is frequently accused of more emissions per capita than many ofter nations, but the excuses that we’re a big country with vast distances between cities, and a colder climate are often used to explain that statistic.

But excuse no more: Canada’s energy industry has officially surpassed transportation as the largest source of greenhouse gases. This should come as no surprise given the very dramatic increases in tar sands development in the province of Alberta and the significant emissions associated with that endeavour, much higher than any other source of oil we obtain on the planet. (This is why it’s so often referred to as the dirtiest oil.)

Environment Canada reported that oil and gas production now makes up one quarter of all of Canada’s emissions, and that’s more than the transportation sector for the first time ever. Continue reading