Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.
From Common Dreams: Humanity has just three years left to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions before risking a climate-safe world. After roughly 1°C of global warming driven by human activity, ice sheets are melting, summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs dying from heat stress— entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.
From World Economic Forum: People often have an idealised view of solar as the perfect clean energy source. Direct conversion of sunlight to electricity, no emissions, no contamination, perfectly clean. This however overlooks the messy reality of how solar panels are produced, right from the extraction of materials to scaling up the power generation process.
From The Wall Street Journal: While most big oil companies foresee a day when the world will need less crude, timing peak oil demand has proven controversial. Most Big European producers predict that a peak could emerge as soon as 2025 or 2030, and are overhauling long-term investment plans to diversify away from crude oil.
From Deccan Herald: There’s a great deal of disagreement between those who predict the end of oil era and those who believe in the need to look for more oil reserves. Since India’s ready to invest a huge amount in transforming its economy, there’s an urgent need to find out which scenario will pan out.
Keith Schneider writes: It is almost impossible for a single place to embody the full array of emerging factors around climate, carbon, water, finance, culture and cleaner technology that have utterly changed how India and the world view the value and risks of coal. But if such a place exists, it’s Vilambur in Tamil Nadu.
Down to Earth reports: With his executive order, which lifts the ban on coal production and lifts restrictions on production of oil, natural gas, ‘clean coal’ and shale energy, U.S. President Donald Trump has literally started the process of dismantling the Paris Climate Agreement— the landmark international pact adopted in 2015 to fight climate change.
Paul McDivitt writes: Making wind and solar seem like they’re doing better than they really are could come back to bite proponents —and the climate. If people think we are about to replace fossil fuels with renewables, they will be less likely to demand new policies and take actions to lower their own carbon footprints.
Somehow, most people seem to believe that our economy of 7.5 billion people can get along with a very short list of energy supplies. Given climate change, this short list cannot include fossil fuels, but we believe Wind and Solar can save us. Unfortunately, a transition to such alternative fuels can’t really work. Here’s why.
To try to solve the energy problem, we use approaches that involve increasing complexity, including new technology and globalization. As we add more and more complexity, these approaches tend to work less and less well. In fact, become problems themselves, tending to redistribute wealth toward the top, increasing “overhead” for the economy as a whole.
Phys.org reports: The climate friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday. Indeed, by some calculations, the so-called “break-even point” between dirty energy input and clean output may already have arrived, researchers in the Netherlands reported.
As the world’s leading superpowers struggle to make the transition from fossil-based energy systems, 47 of the world’s poorest nations have pledged to skip fossil fuels altogether and jump straight to using 100 percent renewable energy instead. The ambitious goal was laid out during the final day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Morocco.
Robin Delobel writes: The issue is rarely raised, but renewable energies have a heavy environmental impact when the total production chain and overall product life-cycle is taken into account– particularly, the stage of mining the metals needed in their production. In addition, chemical products used in the mining operations often lead to severe long-term pollution.
To fight climate change, a war-like mobilization a la McKibben is not necessary. Actually we are not at war at all. If we are, then it is we who are the aggressors, we are the enemy of nature. Then the first task for the transition is to end our aggression. We need only to withdraw.
Michael T. Klare writes: Nationalistic exceptionalism could become something of the norm if Donald Trump wins, or other nations put the needs of a fossil fuel-based domestic growth agenda ahead of global climate commitments. In its latest report, the Norwegian energy giant Statoil outlines a chilling scenario focused on just this sort of dystopian future.
Developed by Dr. Ashok Kundapur, this project seeks to harness energy from the ocean to generate clean electric power all round the year at over 80% of installed capacity, way better than any conventional power plant burning coal or Uranium. He is seeking funds to develop a fully functional prototype, through the Milaap crowdfunding platform.
Instead of the scenario envisioned by many Peak Oilers, it’s likely that we will in the very near future hit a limit similar to the collapse scenarios that many early civilizations encountered when they hit resource limits. We don’t think about our situation as being similar, but we too are reaching decreasing resources per capita.
The revised version of a talk given by Soujanya Mantravadi at the Future of Energy for Hyderabad workshop held at La Makaan, Hyderabad on 24. 07. 2016, organized by Ecologise Hyderabad. It explores the implications of the end of the fossil fuel era and ways in which residents of Hyderabad can start preparing for it.
Bill McKibben writes: Unlike Adolph Hitler, the last force to pose a planetwide threat to civilization, our enemy today is neither sentient nor evil. But before the outbreak of World War II, the world’s leaders committed precisely the same mistake we are making today—they tried first to ignore their foe, and then to appease him.
CoalSwarm’s new report details how India has a total of 243 GW of coal plants under development, threatening to derail its renewable energy ambitions, leading to either locked-out renewables or stranded coal plants. It would push the country towards more expensive and underutilized coal plants at the expense of lower cost and cleaner renewable energy.