The Sunswift eVe solar-powered car broke a 26-year-old land speed record for electric vehicles

The Sunswift eVe solar-powered car broke a 26-year-old land speed record for electric vehicles on Wednesday at the Australian Automotive Research Center in Victoria. While the record still has to be ratified by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, it would make eVe the fastest electric car to ever compete a 500 km set distance course by a significant margin, Gizmodo reported. The previous record, set in 1988, was an average speed of 73 kilometers per hour; the Sunswift eVe reached 100 km per hour average over the 500 km course.

Sunswift eVe, designed and built by students at the University of New South Wales, seeks to overcome the traditional obstacles that have impeded solar-powered cars, namely, offering both speed and range in the same vehicle.

“There are many solar cars out there with a long range, and many other solar cars capable of even higher speeds,” Rob Ireland, business team leader at Sunswift, told International Business Times. “However, we’re trying to do something ground-breaking and overcome both.”

The zero-emission solar and battery storage electric vehicle is capable of covering 800 km on a single charge and has a top speed of 140 km per hour (87 miles per hour). The car’s solar panels have an 800-watt output and when the sun isn’t shining, eVe relies on its battery pack, reducing drivers’ range anxiety. The car’s motor, “supplied by Australian national science agency CSIRO, operates at 97 percent efficiency, meaning eVe consumes as much power as a kitchen toaster,” according to IB Times.

For Wednesday’s record attempt, the solar panels on the roof and hood were used to charge the battery, but were covered for the actual run, as the attempt had to be completed on a single charge.

While the Sunswift eVe is not fully road legal, the team believes that isn’t far out of reach, telling Renew Economy they hope to have the vehicle on Australian roads within the year as “a symbol for a new era of sustainable driving.” And Ireland said the practicality of the two-seat, four-wheel car is unmatched among solar-powered vehicles.

In the run-up to their attempt at the land speed record, project director and third-year engineering student Hayden Smith explained to Renew Economy why it was so significant. “Five hundred kilometers is pretty much as far as a normal person would want to drive in a single day,” Smith said. “It’s another demonstration that one day you could be driving our car.” More

 

Jet Stream So Weak Winds Are Running From Pacific to Atlantic Across the North Pole

robertscribbler

image

(Winds flowing north from just west of Hawaii, through the Bering Strait, over the North Pole and on into the North Atlantic as seen by NOAA’s GFS model and imaged by Earth Nullschool.)

This is a very odd pattern for global surface winds.

In the central Pacific, along a band above 20 North Latitude and about 500 miles west of Hawaii, a broad stream of easterly winds yesterday took a turn toward the north. The wind field was then pulled into a long frontal boundary spinning out from a large low pressure system off Irkutsk, Russian and driven on toward the Western Aleutian Island Chain.

The winds continued their sprint northward through the Bering Strait before being again captured by a low, this time over the East Siberian Sea. Sped on by this second nudge, the winds, running at 15-25 mph, spilled over the North Pole and into a…

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In Gaza, no one knows who will survive

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — No one feels the suffering of Gaza’s people except the actual victims. It seems that only the person who has been injured feels injury. Only the dead suffer in death. Only those who lose their homes experience the loss.

The images of children being killed by tons of iron and gunpowder has become a political goal. No matter the size of our grief, it remains small compared to that of the actual victims who have been injured, have lost loved ones or no longer have a home.

What Israel is doing to the civilians of Gaza is shocking — indiscriminate shelling and killing, destruction of entire residential buildings with occupants inside. They say that death by bombing is painless, but no one knows from where death will come. There is no safe place for you or your family. You wonder why planes and shells are trying to kill you as you sit with your family. Why are they killing your children in front of you? Killing you in front of them? Killing all of you, leaving no witness to your final moments?

Israel's intent to destroy the Dawud building, which is next to my family's house and has been bombed several times, was conveyed in a phone call to a building resident. Then the Israelis fired a warning rocket on the afternoon of July 21. Everyone in the neighborhood began screaming — nearby residents, the people in our house (from which the building can be seen), the owner of a nearby restaurant and shop.

We and the neighbors went outside and left the keys in the doors. The moment of horror is not when the missile pulverizes your body, but when you realize that it is on the way, whether after receiving notice or from the actual sound of the approaching shell.

We reached a safe place. The initial shock dissipated, and our thoughts turned to the pictures and memories we had left behind in the house: babies' first steps, the drawing on the wall, my sister’s wedding party in the living room.

You think that you are ready to start over as long as no one dies, but the sadness in your heart makes you go on with your life even after having lost your child or your mother to a shell that tore them to pieces. The shell disfigures a body to the point that it becomes unrecognizable. We try to console the orphans, but do we really know how someone who lost his father or mother feels?

My family sought shelter in my cousins’ home. Earlier, at the beginning of the war, my cousins had sought shelter in our home, but suddenly their home became safer than ours. In this war, it is hard to compare how safe different locations are. We ponder the mood of the fighter pilots as to which family they will target that night. For example, they warned the tower block next to us, but they bombed another one without warning, killing the al-Kilani family. There is a complete disregard for civilian life.

It is a war of religious ideologies. The bloodshed has come to be seen as for the sake of God or heaven or the Promised Land. Feelings are ignored as long as the political goal is being attained, and the religious reward is on the way. When this happens, ideology trumps humanity.

In the first week of the war, the media followed the story of Shaima al-Masri, 4. The only family she has left is her father Ibrahim al-Masri. Sitting next to his daughter, who lies in a bed in al-Shifa Hospital, he told Al-Monitor, “I thought that sending my wife to her sister’s home will make her safe. But minutes later, I heard the explosion. I ran down the street, then I received a phone call that my son had been martyred. At the hospital’s entrance, I was told that my wife was martyred. I found my eldest daughter, Asil, in critical condition. She woke up for a few seconds and asked me where her mother was, but then she died in the operating room … I later went to where they got martyred and found that a plane had targeted them 10 meters before they reached the house of my wife’s sister.” Shaima’s mother, Sahar, her brother, Mohammed, 14, and her sister, Asil, 17, all died in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip on July 9.

Where can children be safe? That was the question I kept asking myself as I moved my children from house to house. I was separated from my family for the first time when they decided to remain in my uncle’s house. I preferred to take my son and daughter to another place until I could find an apartment where we could again gather. I learned that some people had left Gaza for Egypt. I don't think I can do the same. I found one apartment, but its Palestinian owner doesn’t accept Palestinians, only foreigners! Such is the racism and greed that the war brings out in some people.

If you listen to the partisan radio, you would think that our strength is equal to Israel’s. It is a high moment and the point of no return for the ideologues, whose stubbornness is equal to the blood being shed. In their opinion, what I am saying is defeatist, but it is simply natural fear for my family and sadness for the rest of the children. Words of regret can no longer heal the pain.

I finally found an apartment next to the port. I want my family to survive. I don’t know, no one knows, whether my family has survived or if we have only temporarily escaped death.

I returned to al-Shifa, looking for the wounded from the al-Salam residential building. I was informed, “There are no wounded. All of them arrived dead.” Less than a day later came the Khuza’a disaster and the indiscriminate shelling of Khan Yunis— a new Shajaiya.

I entered the pediatric surgery room, where I found a child named Louay Siam, 9, entirely wrapped in bandages. His face and head were burned, but you could still see his tears. His brother Uday Siam, 12, lie in the next room with burns so severe his bones were exposed.

Their cousin Mohammed Siam told Al-Monitor, “His mother, grandmother and aunt were preparing pies on the roof of the house. The children were playing in front of them when the Israeli jet bombed them. Nine of them died.”

The Siam family had fled from the Zeitoun neighborhood east of Gaza to their relatives in the al-Rammal neighborhood in central Gaza, a supposedly “safe” area according to the Israeli army in the warning messages it sends so families can leave their homes for those areas. The planes followed them there.

Abu Zeid Abu Nasser, a neighbor of the Siams, said, “Uday and Louay's father is a seller of fruits and vegetables that come from Israel. He has nothing to do with any political party … I don’t know why the plane bombed them … They’ve [the Israelis] gone crazy.”

Abu Nasser pointed to the plastic tube in Louay’s nose that sucks the ash from his lungs. He said, “[Louay’s] condition prevents him from drinking water … He is crying because he’s thirsty.”

In our new apartment, you can hear the sound of the sea mixed with the sound of Israeli drones crossing the sky. Israel's warships fire shells. It’s dark everywhere. The electricity has been out since Israel hit the main station on July 23. On our battery-powered radio, we heard Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’ political bureau, saying, “We will not accept a truce without achieving our conditions.” My heart sank, and I got ready for another day of counting new casualties. More

 

Water Resources Fact Sheet – Earth Policy Institute

JULY 30, 2014 Water scarcity may be the most underrated resource issue the world is facing today.

Seventy percent of world fresh water use is for irrigation.

Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water—500 times as much—to produce the food we consume.

1,000 tons of water is used to produce 1 ton of grain.

Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s irrigated area tripled to roughly 700 million acres. After several decades of rapid increase, however, the growth has slowed dramatically, expanding only 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. Given that governments are much more likely to report increases than decreases, the recent net growth may be even smaller.

The dramatic loss of momentum in irrigation expansion coupled with the depletion of underground water resources suggests that peak water may now be on our doorstep.

Today some 18 countries, containing half the world’s people, are overpumping their aquifers. Among these are the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States.

Saudi Arabia is the first country to publicly predict how aquifer depletion will reduce its grain harvest. It will soon be totally dependent on imports from the world market or overseas farming projects for its grain.

While falling water tables are largely hidden, rivers that run dry or are reduced to a trickle before reaching the sea are highly visible. Among this group that has limited outflow during at least part of the year are the Colorado, the major river in the southwestern United States; the Yellow, the largest river in northern China; the Nile, the lifeline of Egypt; the Indus, which supplies most of Pakistan’s irrigation water; and the Ganges in India’s densely populated Gangetic basin.

Many smaller rivers and lakes have disappeared entirely as water demands have increased.

Overseas “land grabs” for farming are also water grabs. Among the prime targets for overseas land acquisitions are Ethiopia and the Sudans, which together occupy three-fourths of the Nile River Basin, adding to the competition with Egypt for the river’s water.

It is often said that future wars will more likely be fought over water than oil, but in reality the competition for water is taking place in world grain markets. The countries that are financially the strongest, not necessarily those that are militarily the strongest, will fare best in this competition.

Climate change is hydrological change. Higher global average temperatures will mean more droughts in some areas, more flooding in others, and less predictability overall.

Data and additional resources available at www.earth-policy.org

Research Contact: Janet Larsen (202) 496-9290 ex. 14 or jlarsen (at) earth-policy.org

Water Resources Fact Sheet
JULY 30, 2014

Water scarcity may be the most underrated resource issue the world is facing today.

Seventy percent of world fresh water use is for irrigation.

Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water—500 times as much—to produce the food we consume.

1,000 tons of water is used to produce 1 ton of grain.

Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s irrigated area tripled to roughly 700 million acres. After several decades of rapid increase, however, the growth has slowed dramatically, expanding only 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. Given that governments are much more likely to report increases than decreases, the recent net growth may be even smaller.

The dramatic loss of momentum in irrigation expansion coupled with the depletion of underground water resources suggests that peak water may now be on our doorstep.

Today some 18 countries, containing half the world’s people, are overpumping their aquifers. Among these are the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States.

Saudi Arabia is the first country to publicly predict how aquifer depletion will reduce its grain harvest. It will soon be totally dependent on imports from the world market or overseas farming projects for its grain.

While falling water tables are largely hidden, rivers that run dry or are reduced to a trickle before reaching the sea are highly visible. Among this group that has limited outflow during at least part of the year are the Colorado, the major river in the southwestern United States; the Yellow, the largest river in northern China; the Nile, the lifeline of Egypt; the Indus, which supplies most of Pakistan’s irrigation water; and the Ganges in India’s densely populated Gangetic basin.

Many smaller rivers and lakes have disappeared entirely as water demands have increased.

Overseas “land grabs” for farming are also water grabs. Among the prime targets for overseas land acquisitions are Ethiopia and the Sudans, which together occupy three-fourths of the Nile River Basin, adding to the competition with Egypt for the river’s water.

It is often said that future wars will more likely be fought over water than oil, but in reality the competition for water is taking place in world grain markets. The countries that are financially the strongest, not necessarily those that are militarily the strongest, will fare best in this competition.

Climate change is hydrological change. Higher global average temperatures will mean more droughts in some areas, more flooding in others, and less predictability overall.

(PDF version)

Data and additional resources available at www.earth-policy.org
Research Contact: Janet Larsen (202) 496-9290 ex. 14 or jlarsen (at) earth-policy.org

 

 

Inside the Huge Solar Farm That Powers Apple’s iCloud

Inside the Huge Solar Farm That Powers Apple's iCloud

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. The article was reported by the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg, and the video was produced by Climate Desk's James West.

The skies are threatening to pour on the Apple solar farm but as the woman in charge of the company's environmental initiatives points out: The panels are still putting out some power. Apple is still greening its act.

The company, which once drew fire from campaigners for working conditions in China and heavy reliance on fossil fuels, is now leading other technology companies in controlling its own power supply and expanding its use of renewable energy.

After converting all of its data centers to clean energy, the Guardian understands Apple is poised to use solar power to manufacture sapphire screens for the iPhone 6, at a factory in Arizona.

And in a departure for its reputation for secretiveness, Apple is going out of its way to get credit for its green efforts.

“We know that our customers expect us to do the right thing about these issues,” Lisa Jackson, the vice-president of environmental initiatives told the Guardian.

Apple's solar farm is said to be the
largest privately owned array in
the US. James West/Climate Desk

This week the company invited journalists on a rare tour of its data center in North Carolina to showcase its efforts.

Until a year ago, the telegenic Jackson was the front woman for Barack Obama's environmental ambitions as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Now she is leading the effort to shrink Apple's carbon footprint—and make sure customers realize the company is doing its bit to decarbonize its products and the internet.

Data centers require huge loads of electricity to maintain climatic conditions and run the servers carrying out billions of electronic transactions every day.

With Apple's solar farm, customers could now be confident that downloading an app or video-chatting a friend would not increase carbon pollution, Jackson said.

“If you are using your iPhone, iPad, Siri or downloading a song, you don't have to worry if you are contributing to the climate change problem in the world because Apple has already thought about that for you. We've taken care of that. We're using clean energy,” she said.

The company is also moving to install solar and geothermal power at a plant in Mesa, Arizona, that has been manufacturing sapphire glass. Apple would not directly comment on the Arizona factory but the state's governor, Jan Brewer, has publicly praised the company's decision to relocate there and to use solar and geothermal in manufacturing.

“We are aware that almost 70 percent of our carbon footprint is in our supply chain,” Jackson said. “We are actively working on the facilities that we have here in the United States.”

The initiatives mark a turnaround for Apple, which was criticized in the past for working conditions and the use of toxic chemicals at its factories in China and for its heavy reliance on carbon intensive sources such as coal to power the cloud.

Greenpeace now says the company is out ahead of competitors like Google and Facebook, which also operate data centers in North Carolina.

“They are the gold standard in the state right now,” said David Pomerantz, a senior Greenpeace campaigner. “There are a lot of data centers in North Carolina and definitely none has moved as aggressively as Apple has to power with renewable energy,” he said.

The 55,000 solar panels tracking the course of the sun from a 400,000 square meter field across the road from Apple's data center in Maiden were not in the picture seven years ago when Duke Energy and local government officials sought to entice Apple to open up a data center in North Carolina.

Duke Energy, which has a near monopoly over power supply in the Carolinas, set out to lure big companies like Apple, Facebook and Google to the state with offers of cheap and reliable power for the data centers that are the hub of internet.

Data centers, with their densely packed rows of servers and requirements for climatically controlled conditions, are notorious energy hogs. Some use as much power as a small city. In Apple's case, the North Carolina data center requires as much power as about 14,000 homes—about three times as much as the nearby town of Maiden.

Charging up a smart phone or tablet takes relatively little electricity, but watching an hour of streamed or internet video every week for a year uses up about as much power as running two refrigerators for a year because of the energy powering data centers elsewhere.

That made data centers a perfect fit for Duke, said Tom Williams, the company's director of external relations. With the decline in textile and furniture factories that had been a mainstay in the state, the company had a glut of electricity.

“What the data centers wanted from Duke was low cost and reliable power. Those two things—cost and reliability—are fundamental to their operations,” he told the Guardian. “What we like about these data centers is that it's an additional load on our system.”

In the early days, Apple bought renewable energy credits to cover the center's electricity use. In 2012, the company built its first solar farm across the road from the data center.

Apple built a second solar farm, and announced plans this month for a third, all roughly about the same size, to keep up with the growing use of data. It also operates fuel cells, running on biogas pumped in from a landfill. All of the power generated on-site is fed into the electricity grid.

“On any given day 100 percent of the data center's needs are being generated by the solar power and the fuel cells,” Jackson said.

The company has been less successful in its efforts to get other companies to switch to solar power. Duke, in cooperation with Apple, launched an initiative last year to encourage other big electricity users to go solar but so far there have been no takers.

Renewable energy accounts for barely 2 percent of the power generated in North Carolina, and Duke does not see the share growing significantly by 2020. More

 

Climate Criminality’: Australia OKs Biggest Coal Mine

In a decision criticized as “climate criminality,” Australia's federal government announced Monday that it has given the OK to the country's biggest coal mine.

The announcement comes less than three months after the state of Queensland gave its approval to the project.

“With this decision,” wrote Ben Pearson, head of programs for Greenpeace Australia Pacific, “the political system failed to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the global climate and our national interest.”

“Off the back of repealing effective action on climate change,” stated Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters, referring to the scrapping of the carbon tax, “the Abbott Government has ticked off on a proposal for Australia’s biggest coal mine to cook the planet and turn our Reef into a super highway for coal ships.”

Adani Mining expects its Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project in Queensland's Galilee Basin to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year, most of which will be sent to India. A rail line will be created from the mine to a new coal port terminal, an expansion which means up to 3 million meters of dredging waste will be dumped in the area of the World Heritage-listed Reef.

UNESCO “noted with concern” (pdf) in April the prospect of additional dredging that would negatively impact the Reef and warned that the site could be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The approval for the Carmichael project came from Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt with “36 strict conditions”—conditions that did nothing to allay the environmental fears raised by critics.

Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef Campaign Manager for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, stated that the conditions would be “laughable, if they weren’t so serious.”

Wishart also accused the Queensland and federal government of “watering down environmental protections and fast-tracking approvals for new ports and LNG plants on the Great Barrier Reef.”

“The Federal government has fast-tracked industrialization along the Reef because it is too close to the mining industry,” she stated.

Pearson also admonished the close ties, saying in a statement, “The Federal Environment Minister has laid out the red carpet for a coal company with a shocking track record to dig up the outback, dump on the Great Barrier Reef and fuel climate change.”

Amongst Greenpeace's list of why the project shouldn't go ahead is that

[t]he mine would steal precious water. The mine requires 12 gigaliters (12 billion liters) of water each year from local rivers and underground aquifers. That’s enough drinking water for every Queenslander for three years. Even ten kilometers away, water tables are expected to drop by over one meter.

In addition to the dangers of dredging up the sea-bed, the list adds:

The burning of coal from Carmichael mine would produce four times the fossil fuel emissions of New Zealand. It is a catastrophe for the climate.

“History will look back on the Abbott Government’s decision today as an act of climate criminality,” Waters stated. More

 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific created this infographic to highlight what the group sees as risks the Carmichael mine poses:

 

 

Caribbean Energy Experts Recommend Creation Of New Caribbean Centre For Renewable Energy And Energy Efficiency

Caribbean energy experts recommend creation of new Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) – A Centre of Excellence to Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Energy Industries and SE4ALL

The technical design and institutional set-up of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) was successfully validated by energy experts and specialists of CARICOM Member States in a regional workshop, held from 21 to 22 July 2014 in Roseau, Dominica. The event was co-organized by theSmall Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy Initiative – SIDS DOCK, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Government of Dominica, with financial support of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC).

The workshop follows-up on the official request of SIDS DOCK to UNIDO in August 2013, to assist the small island developing states in the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean and Africa, in the creation of a SIDS network of regional sustainable energy centres. With technical assistance from UNIDO, a consultative preparatory process for the Caribbean centre was launched in close coordination with the Energy Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat. The process included the development of a needs assessment and project document on the technical and institutional design of the centre. With the inputs received at the regional workshop, the needs assessment and the project document on the technical and institutional design of the centre will be finalized.

It was recommended to create CCREEE under the umbrella of the existing institutional framework of CARICOM. It was agreed to submit the final CCREEE project document for consideration by the next Ministerial Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) of CARICOM. It was suggested to launch a competitive selection process for the host country of the Secretariat of CCREEE.

Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, endorsed the establishment of the CCREEE, and announced Dominica’s interest in hosting the centre. “Dominica has the highest percentage of renewable energy (RE) in its energy mix among the Caribbean countries, therefore, Dominica would be the ideal location,” he said. By 2017, Dominica will become the only Small Island Developing State to export electricity. A partnership between the Government of Dominica and a French Consortium will develop a geothermal power plant for export and subsea transmission lines to French neighbours – Guadeloupe to the north, and Martinique to the south.

Ambassador Vince Henderson, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the United Nations, and Chair of the SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, who spearheaded the initiative for the establishment of regional RE and EE centres, expressed gratitude on behalf of the small island developing states to the government of Austria for providing the funding for the establishment of the regional centres in the Pacific and the Caribbean and the support to African SIDS through the ECREEE. “The establishment of regional centres for RE and EE is one of the most progressive steps that UNIDO, SIDS DOCK and our governments can take towards the transitioning from fossil fuels to RE, and CCREEE will work with regional institutions, like the OECS, CARICOM, CREDP and CDB, to pool human and financial resources to transform the regional energy sector,” he noted.

Dr. Pradeep Monga, Director of the Energy and Climate Change Branch of UNIDO, said the importance of the regional energy centre is to boost inclusive and sustainable industrial development in Caribbean islands. “The centre will play an important role in empowering the local private sector and industry to take advantage of growing job and business opportunities in the sustainable energy sector,” Mr. Monga stressed.

The over 60 Caribbean experts and specialists, development and private sector partners in attendance recommended that the centre focuses particularly on policy implementation, capacity development, knowledge management, awareness raising and the creation of business opportunities for the local sustainable energy industry. The centre will act as a think-tank and hub for sustainable energy and will play a key role in creating economies of scale and a competitive sustainable energy market and business sector. It will address existing barriers and strengthen drivers through regional methodologies and tools. It will act as central service provider for the development and implementation of SIDS DOCK and Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) activities.

The centre will become part of UNIDO´s Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres. The SIDS centres will be announced as an innovative south-south partnership at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, scheduled to take place from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.

Further information on the workshop is available at: www.ccreee.org

For more information:

Mr. Al Binger, Energy Advisor, CARICOM Climate Change Centre, abinger@sidsdock.org

Mr. Martin Lugmayr, Sustainable Energy Expert, UNIDO, m.lugmayr@unido.org