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Thomas Fire Likely to Become Largest in California History

Fanned by Santa Ana winds gusting up to 65 mph, the Thomas Fire swiftly expanded toward the Santa Barbara community of Monticeto on Saturday. The blaze rapidly grew by 8,500 acres forcing numerous evacuations and road closures, including the emptying of a zoo.

Tonight, winds are still fanning burning embers and lighting spot fires in the Monticeto area. This video shows a palm tree burning as sparks fly down a local street.

Montecito is one of Santa Barbara’s more affluent communities. But as of this report, all homes have so far been kept safe due to valiant firefighting efforts by the more than 8,000 personnel battling what has aptly been called a monster blaze. That said, night-time flare ups and spot fires continue to make this defensive effort extraordinarily difficult.

Totaling 267,500 acres by late Saturday, the fire was at the time the third largest in California history. That’s just 12,500 acres smaller than the Cedar Fire which burned through the San Diego area in 2003. Winds presently fanning the fire near Santa Barbara are expected to die down tonight through Sunday. However, Santa Ana gusts of up to 55 mph are expected to return to the Ventura side of the fire on Sunday — risking rapid expansion there.

The blaze is still just 40 percent contained. Its sprawling extent and predicted continued dry and windy weather conditions make it likely that the fire will ultimately exceed the size of the Cedar Fire over the coming days. Firefighters had hoped to get the fire under control by January 1, 2018. But conditions, which include the longest running red-flag warning on record, have made the fire very unruly and difficult to manage despite the amazing efforts of the largest fire fighting force ever assembled by California.

Conditions associated with human-forced climate change are clearly a compounding issue. Various climate studies indicated that persistent ridging, above average temperatures, rising drought prevalence in winter, and unusually strong Santa Ana winds would increase fire danger for California as the Earth warmed. And this is the general state of affairs we now witness.

It’s a trend we see now. Large fires have become more prevalent in California. Fire officials now note that the fire season has grown in lock-step with warming to become a year-round affair. And thirteen of the twenty largest fires on record for California have occurred since the year 2000.

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62 Comments

  1. Genomik

     /  December 17, 2017

    What a catastrophe! The winds are key to this fire as they were to the fires in Napa a couple months ago.
    I’d bot really appreciated the role of wind in fires but it’s obviously crucial. It can turn a little BBQ into an inferno in no time.

    It occurs to me as I put my crystal ball out that it’s hard to predict winds related to climate change.

    As the arctic melts and climate systems change drastically great winds could pop up all over. Add a small fire and you have a formula for annhilation. In particular the west coast seem to be poster child’s for wind and towns. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen to cities.

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    • So the firefighters have really done an amazing job defending homes and structures. This despite the fact that Santa Ana winds yesterday were stronger than predicted. Recent studies have shown how climate change strengthens the Santa Ana winds.

      Like

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  2. Suzanne

     /  December 17, 2017

    My apologies if this has already been posted on an earlier thread. I haven’t been here in quite awhile since my new, full time, unpaid job is GOTV for 2018..and has sucked up any and all free time I once had to read the latest climate change news.
    Wishing all my fellow Scribblers a Happy Holiday season..:)
    https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/12/14/16772722/greenland-ice-sheet-melting-sea-level-rise

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    • Suzanne

       /  December 17, 2017

      And as an addendum to the VOX article on the melting Greenland ice sheet..is this video from Climate State on YouTube…”Arctic Sea Ice and Permafrost Status Report 2017″

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      • Allan Barr

         /  December 17, 2017

        Melting of the permafrost and its over one trillion tons of carbon which can be transformed into CH4 and CO2 in a matter of months is what concerns me the most. The process has clearly already started and just how does one stop this process?

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    • I am glad you are back

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    • Thank you for this, and thank you so, so much for your efforts. You’re on the front lines defending true American greatness. That which stands on values, reason, a hope for peace, defense of rule of law, and the good quest for a better future.

      Like

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      • Suzanne

         /  December 18, 2017

        I am all in on the GOTV movements popping up across the Nation. I truly believe flipping Congress BLUE in 2018 is the only thing that stands between us and a Trump Authoritarian state. We cannot wait until 2020. I am old enough to remember Watergate..and Trump’s Regime is making that look like child’s play with their deplorable actions against our Institutions and Constitution.

        I want to give everyone here some hope. In the canvassing we have already done, we are finding voters who are “fired up” and “disgusted” by Trump and the Republicans. So, even 10 months out from the mid-terms, people are paying attention. I think that is good news, and makes all the effort put into organizing, planning and canvassing all worth it. Fingers crossed.

        And if Traitor Trump fires Mueller..I hope everyone here will find and participate in one of the over 400 “peaceful protests” planned. We must come out by the millions IMO to stand up to the Constitutional Crisis that Trump would be creating. Dark and dangerous times.

        https://act.moveon.org/event/mueller-firing-rapid-response-events/search/

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        • Trump = Nixon squared.

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        • Vaughn Anderson

           /  December 18, 2017

          Suzanne, thanks for all your hard work and dedication. I have missed your posts as well.

          Yes, Trump is dangerously worse than Nixon ever was. I am old enough to remember Nixon. He actually did a few things that weren’t too bad at least IMHO. I can’t say that about Trump. Nothing but abjectly “stupid” decisions and policies. Very dangerous and scary.

          Like

        • Suzanne

           /  December 18, 2017

          Thank you for your kind words Vaughn. I have missed being here.

          Like

  3. Loni

     /  December 17, 2017

    Epic fires, biblical floods, cat 5 hurricanes by the score, yet the most amazing thing of all is the social cognitive dissonance regarding climate collapse.

    It reminds me of the poem, ‘Charge of the Light Brigade.’

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    • DJ LX

       /  December 17, 2017

      Don’t let’s forget ocean acidification, which is a huge problem that tends to get ignored.

      Like

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    • X miller

       /  December 17, 2017

      Cognitive dissonance must be what allows Republicans/Trump to claim Mueller somehow broke a law by legally subpoenaing thousands of emails detailing their transition team’s connections to Russian/ KGB assets whilst simultaneously giving themselves a pass on their own use of illegally hacked opposition emails provided to them at Donald Trump’s public request. It also outs the real reason for the creation of their Fox news feedback loop of lies and breathtaking hypocrisy which they are most certainly promoting at this very moment (Sunday morning) in an attempt to discredit the FBI’s investigation of Republican obstruction of justice and treason.

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      • The cognitive dissonance goes hand in glove with the ongoing corruption of the party. This is evidenced by a bald inability to stand on principle. Their betrayal of Robert Mueller, a republican, is case in point.

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    • Syd Bridges

       /  December 17, 2017

      But as far as Lord Cardigan was concerned, the Charge was a great success. He was OK. So he incompetently misunderstood the orders and charged the wrong guns, thus sacrificing many his men. He was more upset by the riding of Captain Nolan-who was killed-than the deaths of a sixth of his men. He does sound like a model for our times.

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  4. Eugene

     /  December 17, 2017

    As long as we have climatologists soft shoeing around with words like “could, might, perhaps, maybe, etc” they are simply providing fuel for deniers. An example is the opening speaker stating “warming in the Arctic can cause changes in the upper level winds”. It is causing changes. I fully understand the scientific need to “not be certain until they are certain” but how much does it take to be certain. I can see it now. California has returned to desert meaning empty food shelves and “we think it might be connected to climate change” will be the word of the day. How can we criticize deniers when the “experts” waffle around?

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    • Scientific reticence is there for a reason. The use of the words ‘likely’ and ‘could’ are appropriate when predicting future trends or when there is a given level of uncertainty. In developing intelligence assessments and threat analysis, these are also appropriate terms. What would be helpful is if the quantitative sciences would develop some numerical assessments to go along with these statements. Such as — a warming Arctic makes it two times more likely that an extreme dipole pattern will impact the US during fall/winter (moderate certainty 60 percent). Climate change attribution studies are starting to do this. But there are a number of areas that need to be explored in this way.

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      • Vaughn Anderson

         /  December 18, 2017

        We certainly would do much better with quantitative analysis. I taught high school horticulture, math, biology, etc., etc. until I retired last year. Teachers answered opinion surveys on how we thought the students were doing. One of the statements we usually needed to respond to was, “I believe all students in my school can read at their grade level.” I normally answered “never” or “unlikely” simply because we had at least one student who could not read at grade level. My point is that if the writers of the survey would have had a choice “more that 90% of students in my school can read at grade level” I would have agreed with that statement and marked it as true. This gives us some information which we can actually use to focus help to students who struggle to read.

        So, for example, if a scientist studying the likelihood of the Thomas says “The Thomas fire would likely never have happened at this intensity in December without the added effect of climate change” it give climate change deniers fuel for their fire. They can take the non numerical value and twist it for their own purpose. I have heard many statements along the lines of “well they are not certain so it is probably just a coincidence. If this was stated, ” There is a 96% chance(This is an example and the 96% number is not intended to be the actual % and serves only as an example.)the Thomas fire was this severe due to climate change,” then climate deniers would have very little to stand on.

        Another of my favorites is ” One event like this cannot be used to prove that climate change has caused this event.” Yes, even I agree this is a true statement. However if the statement reads, “The Thomas fires proves with a 96% confidence(Again the 96% number is used merely as an example.) that the severity and timing of this fire was caused by climate change it gives us a number we can wrap our heads around. Climate change deniers would have a much harder time conjuring up an argument.

        So, I hope to see more numerical values in the future. That would make the reports on the effects of climate change more measurable and more meaningful while providing better evidence of the urgency for solutions.

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    • Where reticence has been unhelpful in the present climate discourse is that certain reticent terms have been expanded upon by deniers to generate doubt. This is aside from the general disagreement over certain climate change related issues within the sciences despite general and very widespread agreement RE the fact that climate is changing and humans are causing it. A more touchy issue is the fact that some forms of present reticence within the science RE climate change may be at least partly driven by social and cultural bias. However, science is constrained in that it, at least, must stand on facts and opposed to political denial which operates under no such form of rational constraint.

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      • bill h

         /  December 17, 2017

        The fundamental problem is that science doesn’t “prove” anything. Science, as Popper teaches us, is in the business of falsification; one cannot, for instance, prove that F always equals m x a. Unfortunately, the haters of mainstream climate science (AKA “global warming skeptics”) latch on to this, shrieking “nothing is proved”, just as “small state” libertarians inveigh against governments for seeking to curb consumption of sugar on the grounds that it has not been proved that sugar consumption leads to a range of serious diseases, merely that this is overwhelmingly likely.

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        • I’m very tempted to delete the complete nonsense statement of the first couple of lines and say — wrong answer, try again.

          Science never proves anything which is why we have things like solar panels and spaceships, weather forecasting, and an accurate measure of the speed of light?

          Popper should have said that the business of science is about challenging everything in order to gain an ever more refined view of reality. That would be more accurate. Which is why I challenge Popper in the spirit of the scientific process ;).

          Yes, yes of course deniers misuse the process. Partly because some aren’t knowledgeable enough to get it right, partly because bad actors count on folks to get it wrong, and partly b/c the cultural bias underlying the tribalism that supports these anti-thinkers don’t care what’s right and what’s wrong.

          Like

        • Entropic Man

           /  December 18, 2017

          Most scientists these days are more Kuhnian than Popperian.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Kuhn

          Like

        • Objective dependent on subjective ala Kuhn? Sure. We already have a term for that. Confirmation bias.

          Attacks on scientific evidence and inquiry are the provinciality of little minds.

          Like

  5. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    Well , one thing is clear , we are leaving a linear progression .

    Hurricane Harvey studies: Yesterday’s 100-year storm is today’s 30-year storm
    Something like 15 percent more rain fell because we’ve warmed the place.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/12/more-studies-examine-role-of-climate-change-in-hurricane-harvey/

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  6. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    One of the simplest relationships in climate change is how the water-vapor capacity of air increases about 6-8 percent for every degree Celsius of warming. The Houston area has warmed just about 1°C, so that’s how much you might expect rainfall extremes to change if nothing else was going on. One thing that can amplify that simple relationship, though, is the fact that water vapor added to the atmosphere also releases heat when it condenses into droplets. This causes the air to keep rising until even more water is wrung out, which can mean stronger storm events.

    The rainfall records seem to support something like that scenario. Storms around Houston are producing more rain than they used to.

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    • Allan Barr

       /  December 18, 2017

      Unfortunately its not linear Bob, someone posted some time ago on my Climate Change Survival group on facebook the true magnitude of the issue, its truly exponential something most humans have an issue understanding. Weather events are going to get so much worse its kinda hard to comprehend just now.

      Like

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      • Allan Barr

         /  December 18, 2017

        Its just the first degree of warming that gives us 7% additional water vapour, by the 4th degree we are in a completely different state. I should have saved the source but did not, unfortunately. This idea that its lineal with each degree of temp increase is completely wrong. Failure to comprehend exponential I guess and or to keep it simple. We are being rainbombed right now and its just going to get exponentially worse.

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  7. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    How To Survive Climate Change? Clues Are Buried In The Arctic

    We’re on the Bering Land Bridge, where woolly mammoths roamed 20,000 years ago. Today, the land is covered in bright green grass and miniature shrubs.

    But there’s something strange — bright white objects jutting out of the ground.

    As I walk a little closer with archaeologist Owen Mason, he tells me what they are.

    “Right there, that’s a whale shoulder blade,” Mason says, pointing to a bone about the size of a German Shepherd.

    And it’s not just bones we see. Looking more closely at the ground, I realize artifacts are scattered all around us.

    “Right here, that’s an ulu knife,” he says, as he picks up a flat piece of stone. “It’s a specialized knife for cutting animal flesh. It’s about 300 years old.”

    There’s a piece of a sled runner, a fragment of ceramic, even remnants of ancient cooking oil.

    Buried underneath this tundra is a secret seaside neighborhood, preserved in frozen soil for a thousand years.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/12/17/571050071/how-to-survive-climate-change-clues-are-buried-in-the-arctic

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    • coloradobob

       /  December 18, 2017

      Another innovation appears around this time, too: “Wound pins,” Mason says.

      This device is crazy. It’s basically a little nail made specifically for plugging up the wounds on a killed animal. Why?

      “You’re sealing the wounded seal so that the blood is retained rather than lost as the animal is carried back to camp,” Mason says. “That gives you something valuable in terms of nutrients.”

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      • coloradobob

         /  December 18, 2017

        The image of this dig site and the maps pinpointing it’s locate are truly amazing . The logs used by these people came from very far away, and are huge. The site is as close as mainland N. America get’s to Russia. In a place that had no trees. It struck me, that once the ocean was major source of timber. Then I remembered how I spent July 4, 1976. At Point Conception, California. With a dancer from Ojia. We had the whole place to ourselves , the tide line was covered with milled lumber of all sizes. Blown off the cribbing on ships. We built a huge wooden sculpture up the beach . Neither one of us was wearing any modesty. One of the great days of my life.

        I had not though about that day in years , life is truly a funny ole’ dog.

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  8. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    Like

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  9. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    Watch California’s Thomas Fire metastasize into a monster likely made more ferocious by climate change

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/imageo/2017/12/17/watch-the-thomas-fire-metastasize-into-a-monster-likely-worsened-by-climate-change/#.Wjcg6vCnE3U

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  10. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    8,000 fire fighters on the lines tonight. Tomorrow begins the 3 rd week. These people are not working on flat ground. At some point we are going to need fresh troops

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  11. Vic

     /  December 18, 2017

    China’s long-awaited nationwide emissions trading scheme will be officially launched on 19 December. It encompasses the power sector only, which represents a scaling back from their original plan for eight economic sectors to take part in the carbon market. Nonetheless, it will instantly overtake the EU’s carbon market to become the world’s largest.

    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/12/14/china-launch-nationwide-carbon-market-next-week-officials/

    Like

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  12. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    I watched Steve Earl last night at 2 AM. he really tugged at my Texas heart . He’s a wise old grey bald man now. Living in NYC. He reminded me that the only things that kill Texans are helicopter crashes, and heroin. But in my thinking this was one of his best

    Steve Earle – Texas Eagle

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  13. Vic

     /  December 18, 2017

    Three years of negotiations between Adani and major Australian mining contractor Downer have come to nought as Downer walks away from the $2.6 billion contract.

    How many nails can one coffin take ?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-18/adani-parts-way-mining-services-company-down-carmichael-mine-qld/9267778

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  14. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    It`s Not Easy – The Rolling Stones (HQ)

    Like

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  15. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    fleetwood mac – oh well (1969)

    Like

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  16. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter (Official Lyric Video)

    Like

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  17. coloradobob

     /  December 18, 2017

    Like

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  18. redskylite

     /  December 18, 2017

    Many many thanks Bob for including this masterpiece series from James Burke. I remember the original series from the late 70’s and was always in admiration of Burke’s lively mind. I like to re-watch Burke’s 2 part “After the Warming” quite frequently also and it seems just as relevant today as it was back then in the late 80’s. As I hit the age of 70 years old and worry that my memory and reasoning may be diminishing, I just watch Burke (attached here at 80 years old) his mind is as clear and lively as ever, – so why worry.

    Like

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  19. redskylite

     /  December 18, 2017

    My faith was so much stronger then
    I believed in fellow men
    And I was so much older then
    When I was young

    Like

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  20. Shawn Redmond

     /  December 18, 2017

    If scientists wrote Christmas carols. You might like this. Happy holidays to one and all.

    Like

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  21. Suzanne

     /  December 18, 2017

    I had a hard time sleeping last night, so was cruising NYTimes and came across this disturbing article, which did not help getting me back to sleep..but needs to be seen….We are now truly living in an Orwellian world..(This is a must read and share article)

    “EPA Employees Spoke Out, Then Came Scrutiny of Their Emails”

    Federal records show that within a matter of days, requests were submitted for copies of emails written by them that mentioned either Mr. Pruitt or President Trump, or any communication with Democrats in Congress that might have been critical of the agency.

    The requests came from a Virginia-based lawyer working with America Rising, a Republican campaign research group that specializes in helping party candidates and conservative groups find damaging information on political rivals, and which, in this case, was looking for information that could undermine employees who had criticized the E.P.A.

    E.P.A. employees are not the only ones who have been subjects of the group’s Freedom of Information Act requests. Mr. Blutstein also has sought emails and other information from at least two climate scientists, Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University and Robert Kopp of Rutgers University, who worked on a sweeping government climate change report. The Trump administration cleared the report for publication earlier this year.

    “They’re asking for emails related to a document that has already been public and has been reviewed twice by E.P.A. and was ultimately approved by E.P.A.?” Ms. Hayhoe asked. “What do they think they’re going to find?”

    The nonprofit arm of America Rising, known as America Rising Squared, oversees some of the group’s most controversial work on climate change: deploying “trackers” to videotape activists like Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and Tom Steyer, the billionaire investor and Democratic donor.

    “This is classic propaganda from an authoritarian regime,” Mr. Steyer said. “It’s distressing that it would even happen in the United States of America.”

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  22. wharf rat

     /  December 18, 2017

    Like

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  23. kassy

     /  December 18, 2017

    The first full solar train is running:

    The World’s First Fully Solar-Powered Train Just Left the Station

    A WORLD’S FIRST
    On December 16, a fully solar-powered train took a short but groundbreaking journey in New South Wales, Australia. The company behind the train, the Byron Bay Railroad Company, brought the vintage passenger vehicle back to life to prove that solar power can actually work for transportation.

    The train runs solely on clean energy — solar panels on its roof and at pit stops provide all of the power needed for its 3 kilometer (1.9 miles) route.

    The train originally had two diesel engines, of which one has been replaced by batteries and an electric motor. The other will serve as a backup in case of emergency, although the train will keep going under a cloudy sky, too, thanks to a 77kWh battery.

    The fully solar-powered train holds 100 seated passengers, with room for others to stand, and completes one round-trip journey every hour.

    SHORT DISTANCE, BIG IMPLICATIONS

    IN BRIEF
    The Byron Bay Railroad Company has created the first fully solar-powered train. While it doesn’t travel long distances, it does prove that the Sun is a viable source of energy for passenger transportation.
    A WORLD’S FIRST
    On December 16, a fully solar-powered train took a short but groundbreaking journey in New South Wales, Australia. The company behind the train, the Byron Bay Railroad Company, brought the vintage passenger vehicle back to life to prove that solar power can actually work for transportation.

    The History (And Future) Of High Speed Rail
    Click to View Full Infographic
    The train runs solely on clean energy — solar panels on its roof and at pit stops provide all of the power needed for its 3 kilometer (1.9 miles) route.

    The train originally had two diesel engines, of which one has been replaced by batteries and an electric motor. The other will serve as a backup in case of emergency, although the train will keep going under a cloudy sky, too, thanks to a 77kWh battery.

    The fully solar-powered train holds 100 seated passengers, with room for others to stand, and completes one round-trip journey every hour.

    SHORT DISTANCE, BIG IMPLICATIONS
    Powering cars with solar energy is a challenge that engineers have yet to nail. Cars require a lot of energy, zig-zag between sunlight and shadow, and start and stop all the time. Small vehicles are heavy, and the surface suitable for installing solar panels is too small to produce sufficient power.

    Trains, on the other hand, travel on a fixed route and can be quickly recharged at each stop using electricity generated by static solar panels. For that reason, they have been the target of several renewable energy projects.

    Since January 2017, a fleet of wind turbines have provided all the electricity needed to power the Dutch national railway. In July, Indian Railways debuted trains with solar panels on their roofs to power on-board services such as lights and fans.

    The United Kingdom is also looking into using solar to power its rail transport. A report by Imperial College London and 10:10 Climate Action estimates that solar energy could power 10 percent of the country’s routes currently running on direct current.

    The Byron Bay train’s short route makes it more of a proof of concept than a fully realized transportation revolution, but on a local level, it can deliver real benefits by decreasing traffic and getting the public interested in clean energy. One small step for this humble new train means a big step forward for the sector by proving that transport systems can be fully powered by the Sun.

    https://futurism.com/worlds-first-fully-solar-powered-train-left-station/

    Like

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  24. Jacque in southern Utah

     /  December 18, 2017

    https://www.ksl.com/?sid=46219422&nid=157

    “Scientists warn that worse is to come for winter sports, and that more warming will render proven Olympic venues unsuitable , even with greater use of artificial snow-making. Much has been said about the scarcity of snow in Beijing and surrounding areas, which will host the 2022 Winter Games, though officials have frequently brushed off the problem and promised to make enough artificial snow…
    Park City [Utah] is in the mix for the 2026 and 2030 Olympics. The irony is not lost on Olympians who live there but had to travel the globe to train for Pyeongchang [South Korea will host the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, 9-25 Feb, 2018]…”

    Like

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  1. Thomas Fire Likely to Become Largest in California History – Gaia Gazette
  2. Thomas Fire approaches Santa Barbara – Climate State
  3. Thomas Fire Likely to Become Largest in California History — robertscribbler « Antinuclear

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