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Tesla Model 3 Production Ramp — Steady as She Goes

If a person were to define the goal of aspiration, not in the dictionary sense, but in the ideal sense, a part of it would include attempting to achieve things that were previously considered impossible.

From the point of view of Tesla, setting seemingly impossible goals and then shooting to attain them has apparently become a new model for doing business. As the old adage goes — shoot for the stars. Go ahead try. If you miss them you might hit the moon instead.

With the Model 3, it appears that Tesla, so far, may have just managed to land on the moon after setting some pretty amazingly ambitious initial star-shot-type goals. That said, the moon, at this point, appears to be a temporary way-station as the company course corrects, but is still aiming for some ridiculously starshot-high production goals through 2018.

According to recent announcements from Tesla, the company achieved 2,425 units of production in the 4th Quarter of 2017. This is a considerable jump from third Quarter production of around 260 Model 3s. It is not, however, anywhere near the 5,000 vehicle per week target by year end that Tesla had initially aimed for. In other words — some moon, but no stars as yet. And it’s obvious that some Tesla watchers are disappointed. Perhaps more frustrating to those of us who are EV lovers, Tesla has again scaled back its targets somewhat — shooting for 2,500 vehicles per week by the end of Q 1 of 2018.

(Ramping Model 3 deliveries in a record 4th Quarter for Tesla. Image source: Electrek.)

But before we leave it at that, let’s add just a little context.

The first bit is that reviews for the Model 3 are coming back as very positive. Even Jalopnik, which regularly tears Tesla a new one, recently complained that there wasn’t enough to criticize about the Model 3. Meanwhile, previous Tesla owners are raving about the car. So some credibility must be given, there, to Musk’s recent claim that the company is aiming for a slower ramp to focus more on quality early and push the mass quantity part back for later. But how much later is still a pretty serious question on everyone’s mind.

The second piece of context that’s worth considering is the fact that as of December, the Model 3 was likely the 5th or 6th best selling EV in the United States. If Tesla manages to achieve an average production rate of around 500 to 1,000 vehicles per week in January, then the car will likely be ranked between 1st and 3rd. By March, if the ramp continues to scale up, it’s likely that the Model 3 will hit over 5,000 monthly sales and be the best-selling EV in the U.S.

(Despite moderate production delays, the Tesla Model 3 continues on its ramp to mass production. As you can see from the above video, fans really love this car. Meanwhile, many analysts don’t see major issues with the present Model 3 ramp and still expect Tesla to be selling north of a million EVs per year by the early 2020s.)

Looking still closer, we should take Tesla’s claims of 750+ vehicle per week production in late December with a dash of salt. It’s clear that Tesla production is now ramping. That bottlenecks are being cleared. That said, this announced sustained rate is the highest yet achieved over a relatively decent period of time. And, if past is any guide, it’s likely that Tesla will be speeding and slowing the line as they address issues. We probably shouldn’t assume that every week from now on will produce 750 or more. It could. But it’s likely we’ll see a kind of two step forward, one step back, two step forward progression as Tesla continues to refine the Model 3 line.

To this point we should probably also add that when Tesla says it is aiming for 2,500 vehicles per week by end of Q1, that’s probably a snapshot of peak production. Not of average weekly production during March. Same for the 5,000 vehicle per week target by June.

It’s a lot to digest. But I think those of us who’ve been following EVs for some time should sit back and take stock of what is a really big achievement underway. It may not be happening as fast as many had hoped. But it is happening. And even with its less ambitious ramp, Tesla appears set to at least double its overall EV production during 2018.

Steady as she goes…

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113 Comments

  1. Good news in a week of nothing but tears. Frozen lizards in Florida, bats dropping out of the sky in Australia, turtles in Australia being born 99% female, sinking ocean floors underestimating sea level rise by 8% or more, and on and on. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain positive, and climate change disasters are accelerating.

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    • Mblanc

       /  January 10, 2018

      This is the challenge really, holding on to hope through the dark days to come.

      I think we are seeing positive stories on a scale that just wasn’t happening 10 years ago, but equally the negative ones are more frequent, darker and more certain than in 2007.

      It probably looks worse from the US (if that is where you are based) because of the nutter in charge. I’m not saying everything is rosy in the rest of the world, but the climate wars are more like skirmishes these days, at least that is my impression.

      I just don’t seem to be able to find many people who are motivated enough to defend inaction on AGW, outside of the few conspiracy suckers I know.

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      • Action on AGW makes sense but I feel we need a couple of miracles in order to avoid a full collapse at this point, technological and otherwise. There’s just so many humans.

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        • Yes, there’s a lot of people, but their ability to impact is very unevenly distributed – and the more impactful societies to externalise/occlude their level of impact. Peak phosphate will sort things out a bit as it’s a hard limit. It’s likely peak P happened in 2006 and helped lead to the financial meltdown (P price (and wheat prices) spiked in 2006 and has remained higher ever since.
          – this explores some of the issues –
          Phosphorus vulnerability: A qualitative framework for assessing the vulnerability -http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378013001970

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        • Mblanc

           /  January 11, 2018

          It might well be true we now need some luck to emerge without some sort of breakdown (it certainly looks like a very real possibility), but I’m not prepared to give up on the basis of a maybe.

          Population is often quoted as a reason for feeling fatalistic, but I don’t think it as simple as pessimists often assume. Population is pretty static or falling in many countries, and indeed the late lamented statistician Hans Rosling demonstrated that our understanding of modern population trends is so poor as to be worse than that of guesswork (actually he said it is worse than that of monkeys!).

          His TED talks are worth a watch, at least to get a feel of the trends, and the factors that influence them.

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  2. redskylite

     /  January 10, 2018

    Thanks for the Tesla update, the brand has recently gone on sale here in New Zealand, plenty of interest and excitement in the shopping malls where Tesla cars are being displayed (and sold). Beginning to appear on our roads, a real quality car of the future. Much of the positive news is in the energy field and I hope to live long enough to see the effects putting our carbon balance back to rights.

    Energy research gives me hope. ” Scientists in Britain have tested a way to turn the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into rock, using seawater, sunlight and scrap metal – and one of the waste products is hydrogen, potentially a useable fuel.

    Researchers in Japan have devised an even simpler process to make hydrogen: they have worked out how to use natural light and a new kind of catalyst to turn water into hydrogen.

    Each process is still at the research stage. But both are examples of the extraordinary levels of ingenuity and imagination at work in the world’s laboratories and research institutions, as scientists around the planet try new ways to sidestep the use of the fossil fuels that release ever greater levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, to drive global warming and precipitate dangerous climate change.

    In the past 12 months, researchers have worked out how to generate jet fuel from air, sunlight and water; how to exploit the evaporation of water as a new source of renewable energy; and how to use “bionic” foliage to make a precursor to liquid fuels that could drive a tractor, and even the fertiliser that the tractor would spread.”

    https://climatenewsnetwork.net/23679-2/

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  3. Greg

     /  January 10, 2018

    Welcome back Robert! Happy New Year and may 2918 be the year of good news in ludicrous mode. In Musk we Trust. I watch his every move with great interest and know he is a climate Hawk and a great ally. He has done a remarkable job retrofitting a factory he didn’t design. When he builds his own car and truck factories, such as the gigafactory, you may see some truly remarkable numbers. Regarding the medium term, when he emerges from manufacturing hell sometime in the 20’s, I would hope and expect him to respond to the need for carbon sequestration to meet our carbon goals. I have been thinking about how he could leverage his intellectual and engineering capital. It would not surprise me if after implementation of solid state batteries, solar cell cost reductions, and additional efficiency improvements to the EV vehicle that we won’t be talking about cost and range and charge limits anymore. In fact, we may be looking at excess battery capacity and excess energy available from the grid and from our homes ( witness Germany recently paying customers to take excess renewable energy). What if, instead of the current state of vehicles being mini little factories that pollute, they did the opposite.They collected CO2, as an add on possibly profitable option for the owner. One billion or more co2 collectors.This in a carbon taxed world. They could suck air in at highway speeds in small enough quantities to minimally reduce drag and separate the Co2 and compress it in a small tank. The owner would then sell these compressed tanks to a local central processor/ manufacturer, swapping for an empty one, that manufactures carbon-based products such as carbon fibers or cement, thereby sequestering carbon long term. Elon would so love to do this kind of project using charging stations as tank swaps and even the manufacturing of the carbon products to be used as fibers in his cars and Boring tunnel construction cement. Who knows?

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  4. wharf rat

     /  January 10, 2018

    Santa Barbara County hit by deadly flooding, mudslides | ABC7

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  5. wharf rat

     /  January 10, 2018

    US Renewable Energy Hits The Ground Running After FERC Debacle

    Whelp, that was fast. Just a few weeks ago, Energy Secretary Rick Perry went begging hat in hand to save the nation’s dwindling fleet of coal power plants. On Monday, federal regulators officially gave the bum’s rush to that idea, and Perry didn’t let any grass grow under his feet. Within hours of their decision, Perry’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced a major new research initiative laying the groundwork for the all-electric economy of the future.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2018/01/10/us-renewable-energy-hits-ground-running-ferc-debacle/

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    • Jim

       /  January 11, 2018

      I love it. FERC essentially told Rick Perry that his idea of paying more for old costly, polluting technologies was the definition of stupid. And Trump even appointed 4 of them.

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  6. Hi,
    Off topic to this article, but I want to share these two resources:
    First, a map of carbon stocks in the vegetation and soils of Brasil (my home is in a 106-157 tC/ha area 🙂 ):
    http://www.imaflora.org/atlasagropecuario/

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    • And second, an article by some of the same authors of the map above, detailing who owns those carbon stocks in Brasil, and wheter or not they´re legally protected. It has a pay wall, unfortunally, but the abstract explains the gist of it well:
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.14011/full

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    • Jim

       /  January 11, 2018

      Hi Umbrios27,

      Thanks for the link, this is an incredible resource. I don’t know of a similar map in the US.

      In your view, what’s driving the deforestation in the Amazon? In the US, it is commonly attributed to the demand for palm oil, but I know beef and soybeans are a major cause as well. Is that the real reason, or is it (as it usually is) more complicated than that?

      ~Jim

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      • Palm oil? Pará does produce a lot of it, but I wouldn´t consider it a driver of deforestation per si.

        Deforestation normally initiates in public lands. Brasil has a lot of those, land that isn´t claimed by anyone, and therefore, is considered to belong to the Federal government (therefore, to all brasilians). We call those “terra devoluta”.

        In the 1960´s and 1970´s almost all of the Amazon was terra devoluta. The militar dictatorship that governed Brasil at the time was paranoid that the Amazon would be invaded by the US, and for some reason they believed that if there were more people living on it, that would stop an invasion (don´t ask me to explain that reasoning, as I can´t).

        So they started the “Brasil Grande” program, with its genocide of indigenous population and distribution of free land to whoever wanted to move from the southern states to the Amazon. (link in portuguese: https://www.ecodebate.com.br/2014/04/02/a-ditadura-enraizou-a-visao-de-que-a-floresta-amazonica-e-um-territorio-corpo-para-exploracao-por-eliane-brum/ ). It worked scaringly well… when I was in Nova Mamoré in Rondônia, I spent 90 days in the place and I didn´t met a single person that was born in Rondônia. I saw a small baby and I asked the mother were he had been born… and even that child had been born in the USA, not in Rondônia. Most people were from Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and São Paulo.

        The free distribution of land came with a caveat: the land needed to be “civilized”. No jungle, but crops. Or pecuary (but not native species, cows, or if the cows croaked too easily in the hot damp places, buffalo). A person would own what area it razed. That built a dangerous culture.

        While most of that kind land grabbing is illegal nowdays, every five years or so there´s an anisty that legitimizes land grabbed that way, and lot of very rich latifundiaries started their fortunes with this kind of deforestation.

        It begans with settling in a non- white people povoated (indigenous people don´t count >__< ).

        In a few cases, mineral resources are found in the land, and then the "grileiro" (the one commanding all this operation) has hit proverbial, and sometimes literal, gold.

        The one thing that drives this cycle the most, though, is how easy it is to steal land this way (not only in the Amazon) in Brasil. Free land is incredible lucrative.

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        • Jim

           /  January 12, 2018

          Thanks for the detailed answer Umbrios. I had no idea this was the process. Stealing public resources seems to be a common way to make money.

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        • I thought it was the palm oil problem..interesting Umbrios should write a book

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        • You´re welcome, Jim, and thanks for the editing, Robert, I guess the original was too long (and maybe it had a couple bad words that I shouldn´t have used, sorry).

          He, Jean, I have written a few books, but they´re sci-fy & fantasy, and in Portuguese. But non-fiction… I´m don´t known all that much, I´m just a bit nearer the problem. While I´ve been in police operations againt the deforestation in the Amazon, my day-to-day job is in fighting animal smuggling, and I do have colleagues that are a lot more knowledgeable than me (as *their* day to day work is in fighting deforestation). About deforestation and conservation in Brasil, I´d recommend the book “Arcas a deriva, Unidades de Conservação no Brasil” (https://www.amazon.com.br/Arcas-Deriva-Unidades-Conserva%C3%A7%C3%A3o-Brasil/dp/8561368373 ) but as far as I known, that book doesn´t have an English translation.

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  7. Greg

     /  January 11, 2018

    Installing a 5-kW solar system in California eliminates as much carbon pollution as 5.6 acres of mature trees.

    https://solarpowerrocks.com/environment/installing-solar-like-creating-small-mature-forest/

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    • That’s all very nice but with proper urban design you could have both and then gain the multiple benefits that arise from having lots of (climate appropriate re fire, rainfall etc) trees.

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      • kassy

         /  January 11, 2018

        Usually they fail to plan for the mature trees. I have seen so many been taken down just when they started to become proper trees. Or earlier when there roots grow to big. It is a pity because these big mature trees are both pretty & very useful.

        Observations mainly from Utrecht in the Netherlands.

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        • Yes, I’ve been involved in town planning to allow for mature trees and it’s interesting to see how siloed thinking restricts people when it comes to understanding natural systems like trees. I work off the reasoned assumption that a mature tree in a city street has a real value of US$10k and needs a root volume to 20 to 40 cubic metres to be sustainable, Ideally street (or any urban design) design starts with the trees.

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      • Greg

         /  January 12, 2018

        Absolutely. Adding a solar roof is part of a holistic process of reducing your carbon footprint. The tree value equivalence is just a way to visualize or grasp the significance of the impact.

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  8. Syd Bridges

     /  January 11, 2018

    I hope that you had a pleasant break over Christmas and New Year, Robert. Thank you for starting this year with a note of optimism. On the plus side, also, this year, is the unstoppable rise of renewables, with so many cheap tenders for renewable power generation. What I find so hopeful about this is that the new technology is not yet near its peak efficiency, yet it is now outcompeting fossil fuels, which have no prospect of any but tiny efficiency improvements.

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  9. Suzanne

     /  January 11, 2018

    “Alaska just had it warmest December on Record”
    https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/weather/2018/01/08/alaska-just-had-its-warmest-december-on-record/

    Last month was the warmest December on record in Alaska, according to a federal report released Monday.

    The statewide average temperature in December was 19.4 degrees, 15.7 degrees above the 20th century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s report said. Records for Alaska go back to 1925.

    The report also found that 2017 was the third warmest year on record for the U.S. as a whole since record-keeping began in 1895. But December in Alaska specifically “was really quite remarkable,” said Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service.

    “Alaska, of course, being the only Arctic part of the U.S. … it’s often referred to as polar amplification, that climate is warming much more rapidly at high latitudes,” Thoman said. “We are the U.S.’s canary in that coal mine.”

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  10. I believe myself that all the suspense about Tesla Model 3 production rates is overblown. Elon Musk has won, and will be the first U.S. major electric vehicle manufacturer, I think.

    Even if he loses half the Model 3 pre-orders (he won’t) he still comes out on top, I think. The Tesla heavy truck will be a great success, I also believe, since it seems to have physics on its side. Major corporations are starting to understand the benefits of electric trucks with regenerative braking.

    The Model 3 buyers will wait for their Model 3 vehicles. We are all tired of driving vehicles that are killing the biosphere, I think.

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    • OK, batteries is the story for electricity and Tesla

      I am investing with limited funds into small companies I think have a big future.
      In the process I found this Company update for a Miner (Titanium) with a share in a large Lithium mine and its future output – A penny dreadfull (@0.425c) – looking for Lithium exposure
      They are also putting money into research with the assistance of Australia’s CSIRO

      An excerpt
      LITHIUM TITANATE RESEARCH PROJECT
      (Neometals 100%)
      The Company has applied for a provisional patent to obtain protection of the IP and has
      subsequently conducted testing through CSIRO to optimise the production process.
      A leading US test facility has been engaged to perform testing of pouch cell batteries using Lithium Titanate (“LTO”) anode material (in a cell with NMC cathode material) made by the Company at the CSIRO.
      The results of these tests are expected in January 2018. Lithium Titanate is an anode (negative electrode) material, which can replace graphite. The primary advantage over graphite is the surface area of the anode of LTO being around 100 square metres per gram in contrast to typically 3 square metres for graphite.The conceptual plan is to develop a process producing a superior Lithium Titanate anode material from feedstocks (generated from the Company’s future lithium hydroxide production) to add value to its materials.
      Next Steps
      The Company plans to commence discussions with potential commercialisation partners once it has the test results.

      Plus
      LITHIUM BATTERY RECYCLING TECHNOLOGY
      (Neometals 100% Commercialisation Rights through Urban Mining Pty Ltd, 50% Ownership in IP)
      Neometals is co‐developing a technology to economically recover high‐value cobalt and other compounds that can be recycled within the battery manufacturing chain. The cobalt supply chain is under stress due to the rapid increase in demand from battery manufacturing and a supply chain that is dominated by co‐production in high sovereign risk locations. Currently less than 5% of used lithium‐ion batteries are recycled as disposal is typically eit
      her paid‐for recycling or landfill. The Company’s team has completed most of the fabrication and construction of a 100kg/day mini‐max pilot plant in Montreal. Commissioning of the first sections of the plant has commenced and campaigns to process the major commercial battery chemistries will commence in Q1 2018. The pilot plant will also test batteries supplied by consumer electronics manufacturers and car makers.
      Neometals has internal financial resources with which to fund evaluation, construction and
      commissioning of the commercial‐scale plant. Neometals has advanced discussions with a number of interested parties from the lithium battery supply chain.

      All planned up and operating 2021, I bought shares but expect a long wait, darn I have shares in a graphite miner that is involved with 4 battery megafactories – 3 planned and one being built in NY State (30% share and providing expertise and graphite) this process could put a dint in that
      https://newswire.iguana2.com/af5f4d73c1a54a33/nmt.asx/6A865179NMT_Update_on_Downstream_Lithium_Projects

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      • The lithium titanate electrode seems to be a valid approach to increasing the charging rate and longevity of the battery, at some loss of energy density. Very interesting, thanks a lot.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium%E2%80%93titanate_battery

        It seems possible that battery improved properties could be available for the Model 3, in the future. Certainly it seems easier to modify the software and possibly electronics of the Model 3 to accommodate such changes than it would be to modify an internal combustion vehicle.

        Tesla and their experts seem to be continually improving their current technology, too.

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        • Uh, that should read “It seems possible that battery packs with improved properties could be available for the Model 3, in the future”. Typo alert, sorry.

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    • Jim

       /  January 12, 2018

      Very true Leland. I have a reservation for a Model 3 and I can’t wait to get away from gasoline. My only concern is Tesla’s cash burn rate, which is pretty high.

      Beyond that, you are spot on. Tesla has single handedly moved the automotive industry from ICE to battery propulsion, and with that has initiated the greatest threat to fossil fuel dominance, at least in my lifetime.

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      • I experienced the boom and bust phenomenon when Valeant Pharmaceuticals took over my old employer, then boomed on Wall Street and later crashed due to its debt load.

        Tesla has amazing demand for their products, and isn’t hugely in debt, having a lower debt to equity ratio than Ford, roughly the same as GM. Overall, Tesla seems pretty financially sound, while Valeant was a house of cards, from the start. In addition to his visionary qualities, Elon Musk seems like a smart economic manager, at least to me.

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  11. http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-pfizer-20180108-story.html

    Meanwhile thank you Donald and the GOP
    Pfizer, pocketing a big tax cut from Trump, will end investment in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research
    With every passing day, it becomes clearer who’s reaping the benefit of the huge tax cut handed over to American corporations by the Republican-dominated Congress in December.

    Spoiler alert: Not workers or customers, but shareholders, especially the rich ones. (Don’t be fooled by those $1,000 bonuses handed out by a few big companies anxious to curry favor with the Trump White House — if they were serious about improving their employees’ lot they’d distribute the money in the form of permanent raises, not a bonus that you can safely bet will be a distant memory by this time next year.)

    The big drug company Pfizer seems intent on being a pace-setter in cranking out the benefits of the tax cut to stakeholders who need them the least. In an announcement over the weekend, Pfizer said it was shutting down its research efforts on treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism. The company didn’t say how much it was spending on the two conditions, but said about 300 researchers will lose their jobs as it redirects its research and development budget elsewhere.

    Do read the article, but have a bucket handy to vomit into

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    • Jim

       /  January 19, 2018

      Thanks Frank. Capitalism run wild.

      I used to believe some of that crap, but somewhere through my executive MBA program it became apparent to me that the “free market” is anything but free. I remember challenging an economics professor who said stocks and bonds were perfectly priced at all time, due to the collective “wisdom” of millions of minds. I said “BS, any superficial analysis shows you that stock markets are often driven by fear and greed”. He actually agreed, then added when he taught the class to people in their 20’s the lapped it up. Older students were less likely to swallow it.

      Looks like hospitals are fed up with the pharmaceutical industry too. A group of 300 of them have a plan to manufacturer their own medications.

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    • Greg

       /  January 12, 2018

      Yes. Follow the money as Bill argues. “And overnight, the battle to save the planet shifted from largely political to largely financial.”

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  12. Suzanne

     /  January 11, 2018

    Happy New Year Fellow Scribblers!

    As someone dedicating my life this year to GOTV..I found this article on the Environmental Voter Project (EVP) quite informative. Anyone interested in helping to GOTV might want to connect with EVP.

    Let’s hope we can slow this Trump Titanic disaster down a bit by Flipping the Congress, and states… BLUE in 2018.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/climate-voters-could-swing-congress-but-they-might_us_5a56720be4b024fa0543b650

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    • Keep working and informing Suzanne..Happy New Year

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    • Jim

       /  January 12, 2018

      Interesting article Suzanne. It kind of reminds me of the tremendous unifying effect the opposition to the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines generated – with farmers, ranchers, Native America groups, veterans, activists and environmentalists coming together – basically everybody who’s value set extends beyond simple greed.

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  13. Bill H

     /  January 11, 2018

    Remarkable news on battery storage: https://www.energy-storage.news/news/incredible-low-prices-for-renewables-plus-storage-in-xcels-solicitation . A Minnesota based electrical utility has been receiving bids for wind and / or solar with energy storage: the energy storage part adds a mere 3-7 dollars per MWh.

    It looks as if battery storage is hyper competitive!!

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    • Shawn Redmond

       /  January 12, 2018

      https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-cobalt-batteries/
      When BMW AG revealed it was designing electric versions of its X3 SUV and Mini, the going rate for 21 kilograms of cobalt—the amount of the metal needed to power typical car batteries—was under $600.

      Only 16 months later, the price tag is approaching $1,700 and climbing by the day.

      For carmakers vying to fill their fleets with electric vehicles, the spike has been a rude awakening as to how much their success is riding on the scarce silvery-blue mineral found predominantly in one of the world’s most corrupt and underdeveloped countries.
      _________________________________________________________________________

      “There just isn’t enough cobalt to go around,” said George Heppel, a consultant at CRU. “The auto companies that’ll be the most successful in maintaining long-term stability in terms of raw materials will be the ones that purchase the cobalt and then supply that to their battery manufacturer.”

      To adjust to the new reality, some carmakers are recruiting geologists to learn more about the minerals that may someday be as important to transport as oil is now. Tesla Inc. just hired an engineer who supervised a nickel-cobalt refinery in New Caledonia for Vale SA to help with procurement.

      But after decades of dictating terms with suppliers of traditional engine parts, the industry is proving ill-prepared to confront what billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland dubbed “the revenge of the miner.”

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      • bill h

         /  January 14, 2018

        I agree: we should not rely on one specific technology. Mind you Frank Speaking’s post earlier in this thread mentions a Canadian company that has developed an effective way to recycle Li ion batteries. I think that recycling should be up there with Robert’s key triangle of wind, solar and batteries.

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        • Mblanc

           /  January 16, 2018

          Obviously it isn’t great to run into choke points, but many different variants of battery design are being tried, with different active ingredients.

          If cobalt keeps going up they will reduce its use over time. That is time we don’t really have spare, but still…

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  14. Jim

     /  January 12, 2018

    “We’re going after those who’ve profited, and what a horrible disgusting way to profit, in a way that puts so many peoples lives in danger. Its time that they are held accountable. It’s time that things change in the way we do business, because the way we’ve been doing it up to now doesn’t make sense any more” “Make no mistake, we’re fighting for our lives and we can’t count on anyone else to do it for us”.

    ~ New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in simultaneously announcing $5B of divestment from fossil fuel companies, and the filing of litigation in federal court against 5 oil majors, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Conocophillips, and Shell seeking billions of dollars in damages.

    https://theintercept.com/2018/01/11/new-york-city-big-oil-fossil-fuels-climate-change/

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  15. wharf rat

     /  January 12, 2018

    AXA: 4C warming makes the world uninsurable

    https://www.greenbiz.com/article/axa-4c-warming-makes-world-uninsurable

    Insurance giant AXA has announced a quadrupling of its 2020 green investment target from $3.53 billion to $14.13 billion as the company’s CEO warned more than 4 degrees Celsius of warming this century would make the world “uninsurable.”

    Launched at the One Planet Summit in Paris, Axa unveiled this week a raft of climate policy moves that also will see it further reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets.

    The company said the acceleration of its previous $3.53 billion in green investment target, originally set in 2015, was twice as high as the recent recommendation from former UNFCC executive secretary Christiana Figures that investors should aim to inject 1 percent of their assets into green and clean technology by 2020.

    In addition, the firm said it will increase its coal divestment fivefold to reach $2.83 billion by moving its money away from companies “which derive more than 30 percent of their revenues from coal, have a coal-based energy mix that exceeds 30 percent, actively build new coal plants, or produce more than 20 million tonnes of coal per year.”

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    • paul

       /  January 15, 2018

      The first line made me laugh out loud.
      Of all the things a 4C warmer world will be, uninsurable is probably the last thing I would have come up with and the very least of our worries.
      Some (most) really have no idea.

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  16. Methane madness

     /  January 12, 2018

    OT but couldn’t the Cali mudslides be seen as direct result of climate chaos, extreme heat then extreme rain, as expected from increased radiative forcing.

    Like

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  17. wili

     /  January 12, 2018

    Cape Town, South Africa, Is Running Out of Water

    Cape Town, home to more than 4 million, is in the midst of the worst drought to hit South Africa in more than 100 years.

    City officials say they will “turn off the tap” in April when dam levels are expected to reach 13.5 percent of capacity.

    The situation is dire. Dams supplying the city with usable water dropped this week to 29.7 percent, the city of Cape Town posted to Facebook on Wednesday. Only 19.7 percent of the water is usable. Several times a day, the city encourages residents via social media to conserve water.

    Mayor De Lille says she hopes it won’t come down to Day Zero, but the city is already planning for that eventuality. Should the city be forced to turn off the taps, 200 water stations guarded by police and the military will be set up to ration out roughly 6.6 gallons (25 liters) of water per day per resident.

    Cape Town isn’t the only city dealing with water issues in a warming world.

    The World Wildlife Fund estimates two-thirds of the world may face water shortages by 2025 as droughts become more frequent because of global warming.

    https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2018-01-10-cape-town-south-africa-water-shortage-day-zero

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  18. From The Financial Times:

    Some of the world’s largest listed energy companies are facing a lawsuit for “billions of dollars” after New York City accused them of contributing to climate change.

    The city also said it would start analysing ways to divest its pension funds, which have $189bn in assets, of fossil fuel companies “in a responsible way that is fully consistent with fiduciary obligations”.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was seeking damages from BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell to “protect New Yorkers from the effects of climate change”.

    “We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits,” said Mr de Blasio.

    “As climate change continues to worsen, it’s up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient.”

    The lawsuit, filed to federal court in New York on Tuesday night, adds to the pressure on the fossil fuel companies, which are already under scrutiny from investors about the impact of climate policies on their future earnings.

    The same five companies are fighting court cases in California brought by cities and counties over the harm they expect to suffer from climate change.

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  19. Paul in WI

     /  January 12, 2018

    Here’s an article on Triple Pundit about how U.S. transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions are now exceeding the country’s power generation-related emissions as more renewable energy projects are built for power generation:

    “Transportation Now Largest Source of U.S. Emissions, While Renewables Surge”

    https://www.triplepundit.com/2018/01/transportation-now-largest-source-u-s-emissions-renewables-surge/

    Hence the need to address vehicle emissions with the wide scale adoption of electrical vehicles that are powered by an electric grid that is dominated by renewable power generation, as Robert has been writing about in this forum.

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  20. wili

     /  January 13, 2018

    “Armed raid on nuclear workers’ housing raises fears over Brazil’s two reactors”

    This kind of thing will occur more and more frequently with worse and worse outcome as we go further and further down the rabbit whole of societal collapse…

    then all the wet dreams of ‘clean, free, un-meterable nuke power’ will rapidly turn into horrific living nightmares…

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/12/brazil-nuclear-reactor-armed

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    • Thanks for this one, Wili. I´m in Brasil and I hadn´t heard anything about this. As I searched for more info, it seems that only one of the major newspapers in Brasil noticed this, and only as a small article hiding near the obituary. And it should have been front page news, for the gravity and danger.

      Rio de Janeiro right now is very near governmental collapse, with all living ex-governors and ex-heads of the legislative house in jail because of corruption, government employees and retirees missing their wages (some for more than six months), and rises in homelessness and criminality. The government there is surviving (badly) with federal aid, and that´s just from political incompetence, without much aid of climatological problems. How bad things will be when the full impact of climate change hits, it´s better not to try imagining.

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  21. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2018

    Mongabay reports of worrisome cuts to NASA’s great work:

    “It is particularly worrisome if one thinks that Trump’s decision to cut Earth Science missions might go hand-in-hand with an approach of total denial of climate change and a refusal to take on measures to limit it.”

    https://news.mongabay.com/2018/01/trump-threatens-nasa-climate-satellite-missions-as-congress-stalls/

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    • redskylite

       /  January 13, 2018

      Like

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    • More and more, I feel like I’m living in the biggest shithole country in the world. Our widespread flight from reality is reminiscent of what happened in Germany with Hitler.

      If this is Trump earnestly trying to do his best, how pitiful is that? How is it possible that this President who I think shouldn’t be trusted with anything sharper than a spoon is demanding that we ignore reality, and threatening to inadvertently trigger a nuclear war?

      I hope that the Koch Brothers are happy with the bats that flew out of Hell when they started deliberately politically empowering low information voters, to protect their fossil fuel interests.

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  22. Recent enhanced high-summer North Atlantic Jet variability emerges from three-century context. V. Trouet .al. Nature Communications 9, Article number: 180 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02699-3
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02699-3
    Abstract
    A recent increase in mid-latitude extreme weather events has been linked to Northern Hemisphere polar jet stream anomalies. To put recent trends in a historical perspective, long-term records of jet stream variability are needed. Here we combine two tree-ring records from the British Isles and the northeastern Mediterranean to reconstruct variability in the latitudinal position of the high-summer North Atlantic Jet (NAJ) back to 1725 CE. We find that northward NAJ anomalies have resulted in heatwaves and droughts in northwestern Europe and southward anomalies have promoted wildfires in southeastern Europe. We further find an unprecedented increase in NAJ variance since the 1960s, which co-occurs with enhanced late twentieth century variance in the Central and North Pacific Basin. Our results suggest increased late twentieth century interannual meridional jet stream variability and support more sinuous jet stream patterns and quasi-resonant amplification as potential dynamic pathways for Arctic warming to influence mid-latitude weather.

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  23. wharf rat

     /  January 13, 2018
    Reply
  24. redskylite

     /  January 14, 2018

    Glad to read that marine transport is receiving electrification also – we’re getting there slowly.

    “Larger barges that can handle up to 280 containers are expected to enter service between Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Rotterdam later this year. The technology for the autonomous ships was made possible through an investment of €7 million by the European Union as part of a program to improve port efficiency. The port of Antwerp also invested €200,000 in the project.”

    https://cleantechnica.com/2018/01/13/dutch-company-introduces-autonomous-electric-barge-europe/

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  25. redskylite

     /  January 14, 2018

    “A German shipbuilder is making a specialty of creating commercial electric boats. They not only skip over the diesel engine and save on petrol; the electric motors are also peacefully silent.”

    http://www.dw.com/en/doing-your-bit-electric-ferries-in-germany/av-42033351

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  26. redskylite

     /  January 14, 2018

    Like

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  27. wili

     /  January 14, 2018

    ”The effort to address climate change can no longer afford to focus exclusively on emissions.”

    Thoughtful response to the Holthaus article.

    Nuclear Is Not the Answer

    Eric Holthaus has become one the best climate journalists in the country over the past few years, but his most recent article promoting nuclear power demonstrates why the effort to address climate change can no longer afford to focus exclusively on emissions. There are a lot of problems with Holthaus’ article, some of which likely stem from his use of Jesse Jenkins and Michael Shellenberger as sources. Jenkins and Shellenberger have spent their careers promoting techno-salvation and denigrating environmentalism. Their influence is particularly evident in the fact that Holthaus literally starts his article with a conclusion that nuclear power is necessary.

    We can’t have a serious discussion about nuclear power without talking about democracy. Nuclear proponents argue that nuclear power can be done safely and with minimal waste. Even if that is true, it is also certainly true that nuclear power can be done less safely by cutting corners in ways that increase the profits of the corporations who own the plants. And the consequences of cutting those corners can be catastrophic. That’s why it is so critical that if we are going to be embracing extremely high-risk technology, we need a government and regulatory agencies that are not willing to compromise public safety for corporate profits. We don’t have such a system. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Until we end corporate personhood, we don’t have a governing structure that can handle the responsibility of nuclear power.

    As sea levels rise and predictions for future sea level rise keep increasing, it can’t make sense to be building nuclear power plants near shorelines. But if we build them inland, the increased water shortages caused by climate change will be an ever-increasing problem for nuclear power, which uses more water than any other power source. With a diversified energy system of renewables, we can afford a few mistakes in our planning, experimentation, and development. With nuclear power, we can’t afford a single mistake.

    http://www.timdechristopher.org/nuclear_is_not_the_answer

    (Thanks again to sig at asif for this)

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    • Mblanc

       /  January 16, 2018

      Arrgh, first it was Mark Lynas, then Monbiot and now Holthaus.

      Building nukes at a time when we face increasing estimates for sea level rise has got to a bad idea.

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      • Jim

         /  January 19, 2018

        I agree Mblanc. I wrote a lengthy response to Wili’s post – ok, a supportive rant really – on this but it must have run afoul of the WordPress rules and filtered me out as a bot. Maybe if Robert can find it he can post it as he sees fit.

        The TLDR summary was the nuclear option to solve climate change is too slow, too expensive, and too fraught with problems to be a viable alternative against increasingly inexpensive wind, solar, and lately, storage.

        ~ Jim

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  28. wili

     /  January 14, 2018

    “Power companies plan to shutter more than 10 big coal plants in 2018, extinguishing a major portion of coal burning in the United States.”

    Coal’s death spiral, in 3 charts
    http://grist.org/article/coals-death-spiral-in-3-charts/

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    • Jacque in southern Utah

       /  January 15, 2018

      Great article – packed full of information, ending on an important statistic to bear in mind: “This year, people are expected to drive more, and a growing economy will cause industry to ramp up. All told, the United States is likely to pump out more greenhouse gases this year, according to the new data from the EIA.
      “After declining by 1.0 percent in 2017, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are forecast to increase by 1.7 percent in 2018,” the EIA wrote.
      It looks like our biggest problem is no longer coal. It’s cars.”
      Share

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  29. https://techxplore.com/news/2017-08-mexico-prickly-pear-cactus-energy.html?
    Mexico’s prickly pear cactus: energy source of the future?
    2 Birds with one stone, installing biofuel composters and generators at markets selling Prickly Pear (hugely popular in Mexico) from the tons of waste (Skin), with the byproduct being compost. Produces enough electricity to power the market, plus and there are hundreds of markets in Mexico City

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  30. https://techxplore.com/news/2018-01-fossil-fuels-blown-terms.html
    Fossil fuels blown away by wind in cost terms: study
    By IRENA

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  31. https://techxplore.com/news/2018-01-discovery-batteries.html
    Surprising discovery could lead to better batteries
    January 12, 2018 by Stephanie Kossman, Brookhaven National Laboratory

    A collaboration led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory has observed an unexpected phenomenon in lithium-ion batteries—the most common type of battery used to power cell phones and electric cars. As a model battery generated electric current, the scientists witnessed the concentration of lithium inside individual nanoparticles reverse at a certain point, instead of constantly increasing. This discovery, which was published on January 12 in the journal Science Advances, is a major step toward improving the battery life of consumer electronics.

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  32. https://techxplore.com/news/2018-01-battery-leverages-iron-oxygen-lithium.html
    On paper, it doesn’t seem like Christopher Wolverton’s super lithium-rich battery should work. For one, the novel battery uses iron, an inexpensive metal that has notoriously failed in batteries. And in another difficult feat, the battery leverages oxygen to help drive the chemical reaction, which researchers previously believed would cause the battery to become unstable.
    But not only does the battery work, it does so incredibly well.
    “Not only does the battery have an interesting chemistry because we’re getting electrons from both the metal and oxygen, but we’re using iron,” Wolverton said. “That has the potential to make a better battery that is also cheap.”

    And perhaps even more importantly, the fully rechargeable battery starts with four lithium ions, instead of one. The current reaction can reversibly exploit one of these lithium ions, significantly increasing the capacity beyond today’s batteries. But the potential to cycle all four back and forth by using both iron and oxygen to drive the reaction is tantalizing.

    “Four lithium ions for each metal—that would change everything,” Wolverton said. “That means that your phone could last eight times longer or your car could drive eight times farther. If battery-powered cars can compete with or exceed gasoline-powered cars in terms of range and cost, that will change the world.”

    Wolverton has filed a provisional patent for the battery with Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office. Next, he and his team plan to explore other compounds where this strategy could work.

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  33. https://techxplore.com/news/2017-12-graphene-lithium-sulfur-batteries.html
    Graphene unlocks the promise of lithium sulfur batteries
    To make the cathode material, Argonne chemists Jun Lu and Khalil Amine heated lithium metal and then exposed it to carbon disulfide gas, a common industrial solvent. The creation of lithium sulfide, as well as the graphene encapsulation, happened spontaneously.

    “This is quite a beautiful reaction, because it creates a common compound in a single step,” Lu said. “The design seems quite interesting for lithium sulfide electrodes, because of the improved conductivity, stability and loading. Most importantly, this reaction can be easily scaled up for industrial production.”

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  34. utoutback

     /  January 15, 2018

    And so it begins –
    I told someone about 25 years ago that climate change (at the time global warming) would make the lose of life from all our wars look insignificant, if we didn’t get busy making changes.
    Now we have the start of climate refugees –
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jan/15/study-finds-that-global-warming-exacerbates-refugee-crises

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  35. Mblanc

     /  January 16, 2018

    More battery news from Samsung.

    Standout paragraphs…

    ‘Samsung showed off its lineup of battery cells for EVs and plug-in hybrid cars that come in 37, 50, 60 and 94 ampere hour capacities. The tech giant proudly shared that part of this lineup are battery cells that can power electric vehicles as far as 600 kilometers after charging for just 20 minutes.’

    The article also mention ‘graphene ball’ tech which might be the same thing as posted further up the thread.

    ‘Samsung SDI has said that it will also introduce its new battery technology called “graphene ball” at the Detroit Motor Show this week. According to the company, this innovative technology allows a 45 percent capacity increase and five times charging speeds than standard lithium-ion batteries and solid-state batteries. Samsung also confirmed that it is exhibiting a new technology that improves the capacity and safety of solid-state batteries at the event.’

    http://www.ibtimes.com/samsungs-quick-charging-ev-batteries-show-naias-2018-2641695

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  36. Mblanc

     /  January 16, 2018

    Also quite liked this article talking about the tidal wave of money going into EV’s. 90 billion dollars is quoted according to Reuters, although it should be borne in mind that some of the included figures refer to the period up to 2030.

    ‘While Tesla is the most prominent electric car maker, “soon it will be everybody and his brother,” Daimler AG Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche told reporters on Monday at the Detroit show.’

    Musk must have had an amazing 2017, watching all this sudden enthusiasm, how vindicated must he feel.

    https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Trends/Global-carmakers-to-invest-at-least-90bn-in-electric-vehicles?page=1

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  37. Vic

     /  January 16, 2018

    Two bights of the same cherry…

    Tesla’s big BAMF battery in South Australia earned around $70,000 on Saturday by sucking up 66 MWh of excess electricity from the grid during a period of negative electricity prices. Of course the earnings won’t stop there as they can now sell those electrons back to the same dumb grid. It just doesn’t seem fair!

    https://electrek.co/2018/01/14/teslas-massive-battery-in-australia-was-paid-up-to-1000-mwh-to-charge-itself/

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  38. I know it has more than likely been covered before, but worthy of a refresh as it is a brilliant resource to pass on to your denier or unsure friends and acquaintances.
    https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Geoscientist/Archive/June-2014/The-Arctic-Azolla-event
    The Arctic Azolla event
    Jonathan Bujak and Alexandra Bujak* reveal how a unique plant changed our planet’s climate – and may do so again…
    (Father and Daughter team of scientists – in the photo his daughter is a standout)

    Our modern bipolar icehouse world contrasts strongly with the earlier greenhouse climate of the Mesozoic, which had lower latitudinal thermal gradients and poles that were much warmer than those of today. The Cenozoic greenhouse-to-icehouse shift is even more striking because the geological record indicates that our present climate, with its bipolar glaciation and succession of glacial-interglacial cycles, is highly unusual and possibly unique in the Earth’s history.

    Ask them how to explain this shift

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  39. redskylite

     /  January 16, 2018

    Home heating in cities is also undergoing the same shift as transport, that is away from burning fossils and releasing carbon . . . Solutions are being found , there is progress.

    Many cities which endure cold winters are adapting district heating schemes to keep people warm without the use of fossil fuels.

    LONDON, 15 January, 2018 – Heating homes and offices without adding to the dangers of climate change is a major challenge for many cities, but re-imagined district heating is now offering an answer.

    A district heating scheme is a network of insulated pipes used to deliver heat, in the form of hot water or steam, from where it is generated to wherever it is to be used.

    https://climatenewsnetwork.net/district-heating-warms-cities-without-fossil-fuels/

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  40. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/carbon-dioxide-emissions-drive-ocean-heat-waves-global-warming/

    Human Emissions Made Ocean Heat Wave 53 Times More Likely
    Three 2016 marine heat waves that killed whales, birds, corals, and shellfish from Australia to Alaska were many times more likely thanks to climate change.
    .
    .
    But it was the eight-month heat wave in the Tasman Sea, a region where previous warm spells usually only lasted 60 to 90 days, that saw the greatest shift. Scientists found that climate change made a hot spell lasting that long 330 times more likely than it would have been without human greenhouse gas emissions.

    That event was associated with shifts in westerly winds in the interior South Pacific that slightly altered ocean currents, bringing more warm water. “And it’s been argued that these changes are consistent with climate change,” says one of Oliver’s co-authors, Neil Holbrook, with the University of Tasmania.

    The two scientists most familiar with Alaska’s blob say the work done by Oliver’s team makes sense. By using climate models to compare more “natural” conditions to today’s you find “human-caused global warming has substantially increased the risk of seeing large marine heat waves,” says Nate Mantua, a landscape ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in California. “I think it really is that simple—at least from the global climate modeling perspective.”

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    • Kiwi Griff

       /  January 16, 2018

      That Tasman Sea marine heat wave is still skewing our weather down here .

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11973975
      Record marine heatwave to ‘energize’ coming storm
      ……..
      While some of the heat had since been taken out of the heatwave, meteorologists say it was still persisting, and could contribute to a low-pressure system forecast to soon bring heavy rain and gales to parts of the country.

      Potentially adding to the mix was a Category One but quickly de-powering Tropical Cyclone Joyce, currently located to the northwest of Australia.

      “What this means for New Zealand is, as we go into next week, we’ll have this plume of moisture, elongated across the Australian continent and spewing into the Tasman sea,” Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll said.

      “And when that moisture from the cyclone goes in the Tasman Sea, it taps into those warmer waters, and we’d see, possibly by late Monday or Tuesday, the development of a pretty intense area of low pressure, potentially in the Tasman and directly over the marine heatwave area.”

      MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said some the summer had began with waters in some places around New Zealand being 4C warmer than normal for that time of year.

      It had also had a big impact on some of the weather we’d seen so far in the season, she said.

      “Put simply; warmer water evaporates more which increases the amounts of water particles into the air, so when the water particles condense there is more latent heat released.”

      This latent heat was a key ingredient to lows deepening rapidly – or even explosively.

      “An example of sea surface temperatures contributing to the development of on intense low, was the low which caused flooding and coastal inundation in many areas including Auckland, Coromandel, Thames, Christchurch and Wellington in the first few days of this year.”

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  41. wili

     /  January 16, 2018

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/16/eu-declares-war-on-plastic-waste-2030

    “EU declaring war on single-use plastics”

    Perhaps other nations and regions will follow suit?

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    • Jim

       /  January 16, 2018

      Good move. Here in Arizona our Governor, Doug Ducey, a Koch darling, had the Republican controlled legislation make it illegal for individual cities and towns to restrict the use of plastic bags. When the historic mining town of Bisbee refused to comply, the states Attorney General was sent to investigate and threaten the withholding of $1.8 in State funding. The bill also prevents any government agency from requiring commercial business to track or report energy usage. There have been 5 Attorney General investigations into the matter – a great use of state funds.

      http://www.azfamily.com/story/36671811/ag-bisbees-plastic-bag-ban-breaks-state-law

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    • Mblanc

       /  January 17, 2018

      Blue Planet 2 has really pushed plastic waste up the agenda here in the UK, it is now a huge story. Kudos to the BBC for being brave (for once!), and actually leading the news agenda.

      Has it had any impact elsewhere, or even been shown widely? Here is an example of the impact.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42692642

      Supermarket chain Iceland has said it will eliminate or drastically reduce plastic packaging of all its own-label products by the end of 2023.

      Iceland says the move will affect more than a thousand own-label products.

      New ranges will be packaged using a paper-based tray, rather than plastic.

      It follows recent outcries over the packaging of cauliflower “steaks” and coconuts, and Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet programme, which showed vivid images of plastic pollution.

      Prime Minister Theresa May has called plastic waste “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

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  42. Vic

     /  January 17, 2018

    The Green Sea Turtles have been back in the news again.

    This is a beach in northern New South Wales where wildlife rangers and local residents are fighting to save a nesting site from being washed away by a “massive king tide”.

    Locals are surprised by the existence of the turtle nest so far south of their typical nesting grounds around Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.

    “My mother is 85 and she’s lived here all her life and has never known of a turtle to nest on this beach,” one said.

    The beach is located at Sawtell, on the latitude of 30S.

    Looks like Mama Turtle’s gone and broken the chart.

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  43. kassy

     /  January 17, 2018

    Interesting article about the mass die of of the Saiga. Some snippets:

    They couldn’t find any signs of toxins that might have killed the saiga. Instead, the actual culprit turned out to be a bacterium, one that’s usually harmless.

    Pasteurella multocida normally lives in the saiga’s respiratory tract, but Kock’s team found that the microbe had found its way into the animals’ blood, and invaded their livers, kidneys, and spleens. Wherever it went, it produced toxins that destroyed the local cells, causing massive internal bleeding. Blood pooled around their organs, beneath their skin, and around their lungs. The saigas drowned in their own bodily fluids.

    But that answer just led to more questions. Pasteurella is common and typically harmless part of the saiga’s microbiome. In livestock, it can cause disease when animals are stressed, as sometimes happens when they’re shipped over long distances in bad conditions. But it has never been linked to a mass die-off of the type that afflicted the saigas. What could have possibly turned this docile Jekyll into such a murderous Hyde?

    The team considered a list of possible explanations that runs to 13 pages.

    Only one factor fit the bill: climate. The places where the saigas died in May 2015 were extremely warm and humid. In fact, humidity levels were the highest ever seen the region since records began in 1948. The same pattern held for two earlier, and much smaller, die-offs from 1981 and 1988. When the temperature gets really hot, and the air gets really wet, saiga die. Climate is the trigger, Pasteurella is the bullet.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/why-did-two-thirds-of-this-weird-antelope-suddenly-drop-dead/550676/

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  44. kassy

     /  January 18, 2018

    One for dtlange:

    Concentration of small air pollution particles has risen by more than one-third

    Air pollution is a major global issue. In the city of London, for example, more than 9000 deaths each year are attributed to air pollution, with around 3500 of those associated with long-term exposure to PM2.5. Now a study has shown that globally PM2.5 concentrations have increased by more than one-third since 1960, and that the number of deaths attributable to long-term exposure to PM2.5 has increased by nearly 90%.

    more on:
    http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/70887

    The global rise is mostly driven by China/India.

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  45. kassy

     /  January 18, 2018

    How bad are global warming levels? Scientists predict we are unlikely to reach worst case scenarios

    A recent study by climate scientists has narrowed down the generally accepted ECS of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, with 3 degrees in the centre. “The problem is the low end sort of implies maybe you don’t need to do much about climate change except adapt, and the high end implies it’s kind of too late,” said Peter Cox. This narrowing down of the ECS led the team to devise what they call the “emerging constraint”.

    This was done by making a comparison of high-powered climate change models with “currently observed elements of present climate”, notes the report. Cox and his team then focussed on how much the climate varies year after year.”What we did is look at how the variation from year to year, having taken out the long-term trend, was related to the sensitivity of the system, across all models,” Cox said.

    Calculations showed that the ECS fell between 2.2 and 3.4 degrees and the centre of this value was found to be 2.8 degrees Celsius, below the previous central value. This difference has narrowed out the uncertainty by 60 percent, say the researchers. “We think the likely range is 2.2 to 3.4, so that kind of very much downplays high climate sensitivities above 4, and low climate sensitivities below 2,” said Cox.

    Another finding in the study, the report notes, is that there is a less than 3% chance that ECS is lower than 1.5 degrees and that there is a less than one percent possibility that it exceeds 4.5 degrees (the UN method has placed this value at 4.3 degrees).

    more on:
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/how-bad-are-global-warming-levels-scientists-predict-we-are-unlikely-reach-worst-case-scenarios-1655657

    This new comparison looks at relatively recent history but it does not account for tipping points we have not reached and they are the mechanisms pushing up the worst case scenarios.

    Then again nobody wants to reach a +3C world so that does not matter too much.

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    • cushngtree

       /  January 18, 2018

      Isn’t “weather” year-to-year variability and “climate” more 30 yr changes? Sounds like cherry-picking.

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      • kassy

         /  January 18, 2018

        Not exactly cherry picking. They are trying a different approach to tease out better constraints on ECS. As noted in the article both groups are looking at each others result to see why they get different outcomes for the worst case.

        Some helpful quotes from:
        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180117131132.htm

        Co-author Professor Chris Huntingford, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, explained: “Much of climate science is about checking for general trends in data and comparing these to climate model outputs, but year-to-year variations can tell us a lot about longer-term changes we can expect in a physical system such as Earth’s climate.”

        Mark Williamson, co-author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, carried out the calculations to work-out a measure of temperature fluctuations that reveals climate sensitivity.

        This metric of temperature fluctuations can also be estimated from climate observations, allowing the model line and the observations to be combined to estimate climate sensitivity.

        Using this approach, the team derive a range of climate sensitivity to doubling carbon dioxide of 2.8+/-0.6oC, which reduces the standard uncertainty in climate sensitivity (of 1.5-4.5oC) by around 60%.

        Mark said: “We used the simplest model of how the global temperature varies, to derive an equation relating the timescale and size of the fluctuations in global temperature to the climate sensitivity. We were delighted to find that the most complex climate models fitted around that theoretical line.”

        Explaining the significance of the results, Professor Cox added: “Our study all but rules-out very low or very high climate sensitivities, so we now know much better what we need to.

        Climate sensitivity is high enough to demand action, but not so high that it is too late to avoid dangerous global climate change.”

        That last paragraph is the most important bit anyway.

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        • wili

           /  January 19, 2018

          I think they may have shown something important on the low end…it is almost surely not going to be less than about 2.2 degrees of warming above pre-industrial by the end of the century. But toward the end of the article, they admit that they did not include the possibilities of tipping points/exacerbating feedbacks, which is a huge omission, and shows that they really haven’t convincingly trimmed the ‘fat tail’ possibilities of worst case scenarios…just ignored them.

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        • True Wili
          And this has been pointed out in other places, feedbacks and the effect of atmospheric pollutions dimming effect has not been included, so the upper end is not as safe as they allude

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        • kassy

           /  January 22, 2018

          The claim of reduced uncertainty for equilibrium climate sensitivity is premature

          Cox et al. assumed that the same feedback mechanisms are involved in both natural variations and a climate change due to increased CO2. This means that we should expect a high climate sensitivity if there are pronounced natural variations.

          But it is not that simple, as different feedback mechanisms are associated with different time scales. Some are expected to react rapidly, but others associated with the oceans and the carbon cycle may be more sluggish. There could also be tipping points, which would imply a high climate sensitivity.

          The Hasselmann model is of course a gross simplification of the real climate system, and such a crude analytical framework implies low precision for when the results are transferred to the real world.

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2018/01/the-claim-of-reduced-uncertainty-for-equilibrium-climate-sensitivity-is-premature/

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  46. kassy

     /  January 18, 2018

    Wired article on 2018 being the year of the battery.

    http://www.wired.co.uk/article/renewable-energy-competition-market

    Make it so. 🙂

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  47. Greg

     /  January 18, 2018

    A comparison of the GM Bolt and a Tesla shows the advantages of Tesla’s innovation and early lead in its holistic approach:

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  48. Paul in WI

     /  January 18, 2018

    It looks like it’s now official – according to NOAA, NASA, and the UK’s Meteorological Office, 2017 was the 2nd or 3rd warmest year since modern records began: “Earth sweltered again in 2017: hottest year without an El Nino”

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/2017-second-third-warmest-behind-2016-u-n-153714989.html

    Also along those same lines, here’s another new article from ABC News: “Even without El Nino last year, Earth keeps on warming”

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/el-nino-year-earth-warming-52435946

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  49. kassy

     /  January 18, 2018

    The BBC has an article on this with a really cool NASA graph in it:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42736397

    Like

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