Top Stories of 2015

1-10 In April we reported that seismologists were hot on the trail of a “smoking gun” that would link fracking to earthquakes on Ohio. At the time the experts were a bit cautious, but earlier this week the Seismological Society of America came out with a definitive statement: yes, fracking earthquakes are real. [CleanTechnica]

1-14 Analysis of the impact US tight oil has on global oil markets shows that only around one quarter of the drop in US imports of 1.7 million barrels per day since 2005 to 2006 can be explained by the tight oil boom. Oil imports dropped by about 1 million barrels per day before the tight oil boom even began. [Resilience]

2-14 New York ratepayers will subsidize operation of the Ginna nuclear facility near Rochester, under terms of an agreement with the plant’s operators, Exelon. The Ginna Nuclear Generating Station will be allowed to charge customers above-market rates until 2018, because the plant has been losing money. [Capital New York]

Ginna Nuclear Power Plant. (Entergy Nuclear—R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant)

Ginna Nuclear Power Plant. (Entergy Nuclear—R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant)

2-19 Rolling Stone published a blockbuster climate change article complete with the incendiary title, “The Pentagon & Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk.” Now, the US Navy has posted a response with a forceful declaration of support for the Rolling Stone article. [CleanTechnica]

3-9 If the “true costs” of emissions — increased rates of premature death, illness, increased loads on the healthcare system, lowered crop yields, missed work days, etc — are factored in, a gallon of gasoline would cost you roughly $3.80 more at the pump than it currently does, according to Duke University research. [CleanTechnica]

Image Credit: Duke University

Image Credit: Duke University

5-1 Tesla unveiled a suite of energy products, including a wall-mounted battery for use in consumers’ homes. The Powerwall is a lithium-ion battery designed to be mounted on a wall, and connected to the local power grid. It will be sold to installers for $3,500 for 10 kWh, and $3,000 for 7 kWh, starting in late Summer. [CNN]

5-26 Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk has grown to include over 100 institutional investors with more than $24 trillion in collective assets. The network is actively calling for an end to global fossil fuel subsidies and a strong Paris climate agreement later this year. It is also moving the corporate world. [Communities Digital News]

6-3 Lights flick on across a sleepy hamlet in Kenya, thanks to the efforts of more than 200 Maasai women at the frontline of a solar power revolution. Trained in solar panel installation, they use donkeys to haul their solar wares from home to home in the remote region, giving families their first access to clean and reliable power. [TODAYonline]

Massai village in Tanzania. Photo by David Berkowitz. Wikimedia Commons.

Massai village in Tanzania. Photo by David Berkowitz. Wikimedia Commons.

6-18 Pope Francis has clearly embraced what he calls a “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing cataclysmic climate change that is endangering the planet. The pope has also lambasted global political leaders for their “weak responses” and lack of will over decades to address the issue. [National Catholic Reporter]

7-1 A statewide ban on fracking is now official in New York State, nearly a year after communities won the right to ban oil and gas development locally. This action concluded New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s comprehensive, seven-year review and completely prohibits fracking. [Environment News Service]

7-14 ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, knew as early as 1981 of climate change, seven years before it became a public issue, according to a newly discovered email from one of the firm’s own scientists. Despite this the firm spent millions over the next 27 years on climate denying research. [The Guardian] (7-8 article)

Tugboats tow the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound 5 April 1989. Exxon became aware of climate change as early as 1981, according to a newly discovered email. Photograph: Chris Wilkins/AFP/Getty Images

Tugboats tow the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound 5 April 1989. Exxon became aware of climate change as early as 1981, according to a newly discovered email. Photograph: Chris Wilkins/AFP/Getty Images

7-11 World seabird populations have suffered a staggering 70% drop over the last 60 years, according to new international research. This means around 230 million seabirds have disappeared across the globe since the 1950s. Climate change, overfishing, and pollution from plastics and oil have been blamed. [Scotsman]

Numbers of black-legged kittiwakes have plunged by 77 per cent since the 1980s. Factors including climate change are blamed. Picture: RSPB Read more: http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/world-seabird-populations-in-catastrophic-decline-1-3827960#ixzz3vesB5Im6 Follow us: @TheScotsman on Twitter | TheScotsmanNewspaper on Facebook

Numbers of black-legged kittiwakes have plunged by 77 per cent since the 1980s. Factors including climate change are blamed. Picture: RSPB

8-1 Dr James L Powell, director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium, examined titles and abstracts of more than 24,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles on climate change published during the past couple of years. He identified 69,406 authors named in the articles. Only four of them rejected the fact that human emissions cause climate change. [CleanTechnica]

8-10 Anaerobic digesters capture both the smell and the greenhouse gases of manure, providing fuel in the process. The EPA estimates that more than 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions were eliminated last year by 247 US livestock farms with biogas recovery systems. There are about 8,000 farms in the US large enough to make a biogas recovery system viable. [Capital FM Kenya]

cows

8-18 A new study has found that China’s air pollution is linked to the death of over 1.6 million people a year or 4,400 people a day. The study was carried out by Richard Muller and Robert Rohde, researchers at Berkeley Earth. They mapped the concentrations of six major pollutants across eastern China, using data from China’s national air quality reporting system. [The Next Digit]

china air-pollution-industries

8-21 A new report published by Trillium Asset Management has found that California’s two public pension funds lost over $5 billion over the last year due to investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies. Interestingly, this report comes at the same time that SB 185 is awaiting vote in the California State Assembly, a bill that would divest the same pension funds from coal. [CleanTechnica]

8-27 A new Citigroup report values the fossil fuel reserves that need to be left in the ground if the world is to meet its targets of trying to limit global warming to 2° C at $100 trillion. But 2° C is a target that, according to a new Climate Council report, is actually a lot less “safe” for humankind than the science thought it was just 10 years ago. [CleanTechnica]

8-28 One of Britain’s most controversial energy projects for decades, the £24.5 billion nuclear power development at Hinkley Point in Somerset, is poised to get the green light. The Government and EDF have agreed a deal that would guarantee EDF a price of £92.50 per MWh, up to 2061. That’s nearly three times the current price. [The Independent]

Power and the glory? An artist’s impression of Hinkley Point C, which it is envisaged will start generating in 2026 and account for 7 per cent of British consumption PA

Power and the glory? An artist’s impression of Hinkley Point C, which it is envisaged will start generating in 2026 and account for 7 per cent of British consumption PA

8-31 The government wants to slash by 87% subsidies for householders who install solar panels on their rooftops, in a move that renewable energy experts warn could kill off a promising industry. The assault on solar power comes after ministerial decisions to remove financial aid from new onshore wind farms and slash home energy efficiency measures. [The Guardian]

9-15 Malcolm Turnbull has replaced climate change doubter and coal industry booster Tony Abbott as Australian Prime Minister. This means that one of the world’s least enthusiastic backers of a new climate treaty has just been removed from the global stage. While Abbot’s views were not aligned with mainstream science, Turnbull’s are. [Mashable]

9-16 A relatively cheap and environmentally friendly battery that uses salt water and other commonly available materials to store electric energy has been awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize. The head of the company making the battery, Aquion, said batteries capable of powering a typical single family home should cost between $1,000 and $3,000. [CNBC]

Source: Aquion Energy Aquion M100 Battery Module

Source: Aquion Energy
Aquion M100 Battery Module

9-20 It didn’t add up. VW diesel cars were spewing harmful exhaust when testers drove them on the road. In the lab, they were fine. Discrepancies in the European tests on the diesel models of the VW Passat, the VW Jetta and the BMW X5 last year gave Peter Mock an idea. He checked the cars. VW had a cheat device on them. [Bloomberg]

9-26 The overall collective risk of cancer via exposure to 7 toxic air contaminants in California has declined by an incredible 76% since comprehensive air quality regulations went into effect there back into 1990, according to a new study from the California Air Resources Board. The worst offender is said to be diesel particulates. [CleanTechnica]

9-27 A study prepared by DIW Econ, a German institute for economic research, found that, as a whole, countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have already decoupled their economic growth from emissions. This means they can grow without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. [The Guardian]

9-30 Solar energy pricing is at an all-time low, according to a report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Driven by lower installed costs, improved project performance, and a race to build projects ahead of a reduction in a key federal incentive, utility-scale solar PV power sales agreements are averaging just 5¢/kWh. [solarserver.com]

11-14 Texas wind farms are generating so much energy that some utilities are giving power away. One example is TXU Energy, which offers a free overnight plan to encourage customers to use less energy when wholesale prices are highest and use more when prices are lowest, 9 pm to 6 am. The plan has slightly higher daytime rates. [HPPR]

Part of the Desert Sky Wind Farm in Texas. Photo by Pismo. Placed in the public domain by the author. Wikimedia Commons.

Part of the Desert Sky Wind Farm in Texas. Photo by Pismo. Placed in the public domain by the author. Wikimedia Commons.

10-7 Here is an article geoharvey missed, but the photo is too telling to pass up. The article is all photos relating to the current conditions in the Fukushima exclusion zone (which is why it was missed). The photo shows abandoned cars of people trying to flee a nuclear disaster. Now, after four years, the cars are being overrun by plants. [The Mirror]

Aerial photo of abandoned cars

Aerial photo of abandoned cars

11-26 This year will be the hottest on record and 2016 could be even hotter due to the El Niño weather pattern, the World Meteorological Organization said. WMO director-general Michel Jarraud rejected climate sceptics’ arguments, saying, “It’s not about believing or not. It’s a matter of seeing the facts. The facts are there.” [Free Malaysia Today]

Effects of El Niño

Effects of El Niño

12-12 The world now has its first universally accepted plan to limit climate change! The agreement will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from human activities to curtail dangerous atmospheric warming and related climate changes, BBC News reported at 3:40 am. [CleanTechnica]

Laurence Tubiana, Christiana Figueres, and Laurent Fabius applaud the Paris Agreement

Laurence Tubiana, Christiana Figueres, and Laurent Fabius applaud the Paris Agreement

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