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Clean Energy in Europe Suffering from Falling CO2 Prices | The Energy Collective

Clean Energy in Europe Suffering from Falling CO2 Prices | The Energy Collective | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) is facing tough times. Last week saw the price fall to below €3 after the European Parliaments’ Industry & Energy (ITRE) Committee voted against the Commission proposal to amend the ETS Directive to allow for backloading of ETS allowances (a compromise mechanism which will shift the auction profile in Phase III to remove allowances in the short term). At such a price level the system isn’t really functioning, rather it is little more than a short term compliance accounting system for reporting on CO2 emissions.

 

In effect, this means that the EU doesn’t currently have an explicit carbon price to drive change in energy and infrastructure investment, despite 10 years of policy in place designed with that single goal in mind. The very low price level also implies that there is no expectation for a real carbon price ever developing. In theory these allowances could be bought and banked through to Phase IV. Assuming a cost of capital of 5% (and of course availability of capital to do so), a €3 allowance would only need to fetch €7 in 2030 to cover this, which would be well below the price of a market which is presumably driving investment in carbon capture and storage, surely a technology being seriously considered by then. So what is the thinking that might lead to an ~80% discount in market value? Three possible scenarios could lead to such an outlook;

 

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It hit 63 degrees in Antarctica on Tuesday | Reem Nasr | CNBC.com

It hit 63 degrees in Antarctica on Tuesday | Reem Nasr | CNBC.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Antarctica may have experienced its warmest day ever recorded on Tuesday, with the temperature reading of 63.5°F, reports The Weather Underground.

Tuesday's record high temperature follows another high reading of 63.3°F set just the day before. Until this week's heat wave, the highest-known recorded temperature on the continent was 62.6°F back in 1976.

The Antarctic Peninsula where the readings were made "is one of the fastest warming spots on Earth," reports The Weather Undergound. The website cites studies from 2012 that show the world is warming at a quickening pace.

Five nations and territories have tied or hit all-time high temperature records so far this year.


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The Often Overlooked Role of Natural Gas in the Israel-Palestine Conflict | Michael Schwartz | Mother Jones

The Often Overlooked Role of Natural Gas in the Israel-Palestine Conflict | Michael Schwartz | Mother Jones | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Guess what? Almost all the current wars, uprisings, and other conflicts in the Middle East are connected by a single thread, which is also a threat: these conflicts are part of an increasingly frenzied competition to find, extract, and market fossil fuels whose future consumption is guaranteed to lead to a set of cataclysmic environmental crises.

Amid the many fossil-fueled conflicts in the region, one of them, packed with threats, large and small, has been largely overlooked, and Israel is at its epicenter. Its origins can be traced back to the early 1990s when Israeli and Palestinian leaders began sparring over rumored natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gaza. In the ensuing decades, it has grown into a many-fronted conflict involving several armies and three navies. In the process, it has already inflicted mindboggling misery on tens of thousands of Palestinians, and it threatens to add future layers of misery to the lives of people in Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus. Eventually, it might even immiserate Israelis.

Resource wars are, of course, nothing new. Virtually the entire history of Western colonialism and post-World War II globalization has been animated by the effort to find and market the raw materials needed to build or maintain industrial capitalism. This includes Israel's expansion into, and appropriation of, Palestinian lands. But fossil fuels only moved to center stage in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship in the 1990s, and that initially circumscribed conflict only spread to include Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and Russia after 2010.


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Are we ready for the next volcanic catastrophe? | Bill McGuire | The Guardian

Are we ready for the next volcanic catastrophe? | Bill McGuire | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you were one of the 10 million air travellers shaking your fist at the departures board in April 2010, you will appreciate the fact that – even in this tectonically peaceful realm – we ignore volcanic threats at our peril. Despite being nothing to write home about in terms of size, the eruption from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano brought air travel chaos to the UK and mainland Europe when its ash cloud grounded an astonishing 107,000 flights in the biggest air traffic shutdown since the second world war.


The eight days of mayhem brought airline CEOs to the point of apoplexy and, once the ash had settled, the air travel business was left with a €1.3bn bill. The threat posed by Icelandic eruptions has since been recognised and added, retrospectively, to the UK’s National Risk Register, in the hope that next time we will be better prepared.


But what about volcanic explosions further afield? These, it appears, are still regarded as posing no threat to our country, and so can be safely ignored. But turn the clock back 200 years and there is at least one event that suggests we ought to think twice.


In April 1815, the biggest known eruption of the historical period blew apart the Tambora volcano, on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, 12,000km from the UK. What happened next testifies to the enormous reach of the biggest volcanic blasts.


The Tambora volcano had shown no signs of life for 1,000 years; a single eruption in the previous five millennia provided the only indication that magma was still churning far beneath. It is very likely that the residents of the island considered the volcano extinct, and possible even that they did not know the impressive 4,300m (14,107ft) mountain – at the time, probably the highest in the East Indies – was a volcano at all.


This all changed, however, with the rumblings and earthquakes of 1812, a full three years before the climactic blast. Over time, the seismic shocks were superseded by steam blasts and small ash explosions, engendering increasing trepidation on the island and signalling that something bigger might be imminent. It was.


On 5 April 1815, a titanic explosion hurled a cloud of ash to a height of more than 30km. Violent, but short-lived, the blast lasted just two hours, after which the volcano returned to a state of brooding menace.


According to the lieutenant governor, Thomas Stamford (later Sir Stamford) Bingley Raffles, to whom volcanologists are indebted for his accounts of the eruption, the detonation was so loud that it was mistaken across Java for cannon fire, causing consternation among the British troops, which had ousted the Dutch and French forces just a few years earlier.

But the blast was small beer in comparison with what followed. After five days of relative calm, the climactic phase of the eruption began with a colossal explosion that launched a towering column of ash to the edge of space.


For four or five days, utter blackness reigned across the island as the hurricane blasts of hot ash and scalding gas – known as pyroclastic flows – scoured the flanks of the volcano of everything and everyone, and drifts of ash metres thick entombed what few signs of life remained.


When the explosions ceased and the darkness finally lifted, the view revealed was a vision of Tolkien’s Mordor; a grey landscape within which nothing lived or moved. The top 500m of the volcano was gone, blasted into smithereens, and replaced by a 6km-wide maw from which steam spiralled skywards.


Communities on the flanks of the volcano had vanished, along with the lives of around 12,000 men, women and children. These, perhaps, were the lucky ones, as a further 60,000 survivors of the eruption succumbed slowly and agonisingly to famine or disease.

But the consequences were not confined to this Indonesian backwater.


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Fracking Town’s Desperate Laid-off Workers: ‘They Don’t Tell You It’s All a Lie’ | Evelyn Nieves | AlterNet

Fracking Town’s Desperate Laid-off Workers: ‘They Don’t Tell You It’s All a Lie’ | Evelyn Nieves | AlterNet | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

From the looks of it, the nation’s boomtown is still booming. Big rigs, cement mixers and oil tankers still clog streets built for lighter loads. The air still smells like diesel fuel and looks like a dust bowl— all that traffic — and natural gas flares, wasted byproducts of the oil wells, still glare out at the night sky like bonfires. 


Not to mention that Walmart, still the main game in town, can’t seem to get a handle on its very long lines and half­ empty shelves. 


But life at the center of the country’s largest hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, boom has definitely changed. The jobs that brought thousands of recession­-weary employment­-seekers to this once peaceful corner of western North Dakota over the last five years have been drying up, even as the unemployed keep coming.


Downtown, clutches of men pass their time at the Salvation Army, watching movies or trolling Craigslist ads on desktop computers. The main branch of the public library is full, all day, every day, with unemployed men in cubbyholes. And when the Command Center, a private temporary jobs agency, opens every morning at 6am, between two and three dozen people are waiting to get in the door.

Some of these job seekers are sleeping in their trucks, in utility sheds, behind piles of garbage by the railroad tracks, wherever they can curl up.

Only a year ago, Williston’s shale oil explosion was still gushing jobs. From 2010 to 2014, thanks to the Bakken shale oil patch, it was the fastest growing small city in the nation. Williston nearly tripled in size, from 12,000 to 35,000 people. But the number of active rigs used to drill new wells in the Bakken dropped to 111 in March, the lowest number since April 2010, according to state figures. Low oil prices have prompted drilling to slow down, and companies big and small have been laying off workers and cutting hours.

City officials paint a rosy picture. They cite North Dakota Job Service reports that maintain there are 116 jobs in Williston for every 100 residents, point to North Dakota’s ranking among oil­-producing states (number two, after Texas), call the oil production slowdown a blip and say the oil patch is still growing.

But the city’s job numbers do not match the reality on the ground.


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WATCH: Nebraska farmer silences oil and gas committee with invitation to drink water tainted by fracking | Tom Boggioni | Raw Story

WATCH: Nebraska farmer silences oil and gas committee with invitation to drink water tainted by fracking | Tom Boggioni | Raw Story | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Appearing before a Nebraska Oil & Gas Conservation committee hearing, a local farmer received nothing but silence from the pro-fracking members of the board after he invited them to drink glasses of water tainted by fracking.

In the video, uploaded to YouTube by BoldNebraska, Nebraskan James Osborne used his 3 minutes before the committee to visually explain what fracking waste can do to the water table, dramatically pouring out water containing his own “private mixture” of fracking additives.

The committee is holding public hearings on a proposal by an oil company to ship out-of-state fracking wastewater into Nebraska where it will be dumped into a “disposal well” in Sioux County. According to a report, the Terex Energy Corp wants to truck as much as 10,000 barrels a day of the chemical-laden fracking wastewater to a ranch north of Mitchell, Nebraska for disposal.

Explaining that he has ties to the oil industry and that he is still on the fence about fracking, Osbourne explained fluid dynamics to the board while pouring out three cups of the sludgy water that could result from spills or from seeping into the water table.

Referring to earlier testimony, Osbourne said, “So you told me this morning that you would drink this water,” as he indicated the cups.

“So would you drink it? Yes or no?” he asked, only to be met by silence by the stone-faced group before a member explained they wouldn’t be answering any questions.


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China ramps up the rhetoric on climate change | Kieran Cooke | Climate News Network

China ramps up the rhetoric on climate change | Kieran Cooke | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Zheng Guogang, head of the China Meteorological Administration, says future variations in climate are likely to reduce crop yields and damage the environment.

In one of the strongest official statements to date on the challenges faced, Zheng told China’s official Xinhua news agency that climate change could have a “huge impact” on the country, with a growing risk of climate-related disasters.

“To face the challenges from past and future climate change, we must respect nature and live in harmony with it,” Zheng said. “We must promote the idea of nature, and emphasise climate security.”


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Thanks to stricter emissions rules, one foul gas is on the downswing | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org

Thanks to stricter emissions rules, one foul gas is on the downswing | Susan Cosier | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The red in the map on the left shows how much nitrogen dioxide pollution wafted over the Northeast in 2005. On the right is 2011. Cars and coal-fired power plants emit NO2 into the air, where the brown-yellow gas can cause respiratory problems and react with other atmospheric substances to form ground-level ozone and particulate matter. So what happened in those six years? Stricter NO2 standards and improvements in technology both helped clear the air—despite increases in population, electricity consumption, and numbers of cars on the road. About 147 million Americans, however, still live in areas with high levels of air pollution.

This week, the Supreme Court began deliberating over whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can issue its new mercury standards for power plants, which would also help curb particulate matter and save of an estimated $90 billion in annual health costs. If the standards are put in place, imagine the map NASA could create a half decade from now on those pollutants. Suddenly, the future looks more rosy than red.


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High-performance flow battery could rival lithium-ions for EVs and grid storage | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

High-performance flow battery could rival lithium-ions for EVs and grid storage | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new redox flow battery designed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) more than doubles the amount of energy that this type of cell can pack in a given volume, approaching the numbers of lithium-ion batteries. If the device reaches mass production, it could find use in fast-charging transportation, portable electronics and grid storage.

A flow battery is formed by two liquids with opposite charge (electrolytes) which turn chemical energy into electricity by exchanging ions through a membrane. The electrolytes are stored in two external tanks and this makes the system easy to scale up, potentially very quick to charge (the electrolytes can simply be replaced) and resistant to extreme temperatures. These perks have already inspired some radical concept car designs but if these dreams are going to come to fruition, flow batteries will need to get over one big hump: currently, the best flow cell out there only packs less than a third of the energy per unit volume as a lithium-ion battery.

Because of this, flow cells are mainly used where space is not at a premium, such as to store large amounts of energy from renewable sources in open spaces. Still, even in this arena, a more energy-dense flow cell could turn out to be very useful, improving the reliability of the electric grid in a tight urban setting, and perhaps even challenging the upcoming lithium-ion home batteries announced by Tesla.


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eric roberts's curator insight, Today, 5:27 AM

This is another possible contender to knock the Lithium-on battery off top spot, the testing is not yet completed but the results look good after initial testing.

For further reading...http://www.batteriesontheweb.co.uk/blog/

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Royal Navy subs provide insights for Arctic science | David Szondy | GizMag.com

Royal Navy subs provide insights for Arctic science | David Szondy | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The National Oceanography Centre in the UK has used data on the Arctic Ocean gathered by Royal Navy submarines to study the effects of a possible future shrinking of the ice cap. This meeting of oceanography and military intelligence has seen declassified data from the 1990s analyzed to gain insights into how diminished ice cover affects turbulence in arctic waters.

One of the concerns presented by climate change models is a steady decrease in summer sea ice in the Arctic. If this occurs, it poses the question how will it affect the composition and circulation of the waters, which can have an impact on the chemistry and biology of the sea. Previous thinking put a lot of emphasis on the role of the ice, regarding it as a seal that protected the waters beneath from wind. The idea was that an ice-free Arctic would be stirred up by the winds and become more turbulent, which can cause effects like the mixing of cold, fresh water layers with warmer, saltier ones and accelerate ice melts.

But the Arctic Ocean isn't a simple sealed basin. There are all sorts of currents, eddies, internal waves, and other factors, so to understand the future of the Arctic, it's necessary to have a better understanding of how it behaves under the ice as well as in ice-free regions.


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How drones are poised to help build the cities of tomorrow | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com

How drones are poised to help build the cities of tomorrow | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Over time we have gotten used to machines assuming certain roles in society, but even at the dawn of the the age of robotics, some types of skilled labor still seem beyond their reach. After all, how does a machine wield a hammer and overcome the perpetual problem-solving involved in putting together a house or a high-rise? While we might be some ways off from watching buildings sprout out of the ground at the push of a button, flying robots are already carrying out surveying and mapping tasks on construction sites from the US to Japan. But leading researchers are adamant that when it comes to automating the building industry, these machines have more to offer.

The value of drones in construction, at least for the time being, is more or less tied to their ability to venture where humans and heavy machinery cannot. This dictates that the vehicles remain small, agile and with minimal payload, zipping around with onboard high-res cameras and relaying progress shots and aerial surveys to construction teams on the ground. This might sound like little more than a negligible cost-cutting, but drones are already forming an integral part of business operations for innovative construction firms the world over.

In Japan, an aging population has the construction industry turning to new technology to help build the infrastructure of the future. Leading the charge is the multinational machinery maker Komatsu which has just announced the launch of a new service called Smart Construction, aimed at helping fill Japan's void of a fit young workforce with cutting edge information and communication technologies. The service includes a a platform called KomConnect that will connect machinery and workers to the cloud to improve overall efficiency, artificial intelligence-assisted control for operating machinery and, of course, drones.


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CA: Plans unveiled for Google's new Mountain View headquarters | Adam Williams | GizMag.com

CA: Plans unveiled for Google's new Mountain View headquarters | Adam Williams | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Google has released renders and preliminary information regarding its planned new headquarters in Mountain View, California. Finer details are unavailable at this stage, but the firm has commissioned top-tier architects Bjarke Ingels (of BIG) and Thomas Heatherwick to handle the design, and what information we do have points toward a sustainable, flexible, and future-proof headquarters for the company.

In contrast with the forbidding closed loop design of Apple's sustainable Cupertino campus by Norman Foster, Google's new digs appear more fragmented, open, and accessible.

"We're really making sure that we make spaces very open and accessible, so it's not just for Googlers but for anyone in the area to come by," says David Radcliffe, the firm's Vice President of Real Estate.


Intended for the North Bay Shore area of Mountain View, the renders evoke more of a futuristic college campus feel than that of a secretive technology center, and it comprises a number of buildings with large transparent roofs that allow plenty of natural light. The renders also show a mash-up of both Ingels' and Heatherwick's style in places (such as the above image, for example), and it will be interesting to see if the end result will be a clash of egos or that of two "starchitects" complimenting each other's strengths.


The proposal features bike paths, lakes, and greenery, and cyclists are offered shelter from the rain in some areas with large solar canopies. Google says a significant portion of the HQ's energy needs will be met sustainably, but we've no word on how much yet, nor of any other sustainable tech in the works. Car parks are hidden from sight underground, and the renders show a focus on landscaping in a concerted effort to offer visitors and staff a greater connection with nature.


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Pope Francis: Earth's water must be protected, available to everyone | WashPost

Pope Francis: Earth's water must be protected, available to everyone | WashPost | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Pope Francis is encouraging the world to ensure its water supplies are protected and available to all.

Francis noted the United Nations was marking Sunday as an occasion to draw attention to water’s importance.

He quoted St. Francis of Assisi, who inspired his choice of name as pope, in praising water for its usefulness and purity.

Francis intends to detail his views on the environment soon in an encyclical, a Vatican position paper reserved for important matters.

Speaking to the public in St. Peter’s Square, the pope called water “the most essential element for life” and said “humanity’s future depends on our ability to care for it and share it.”

He encouraged governments to ensure that water supplies are protected and accessible to all.

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PA: Constitution Pipeline crisis: Landowners facing condemnation | John Roby | Pressconnects.com

PA: Constitution Pipeline crisis: Landowners facing condemnation | John Roby | Pressconnects.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The first sign that something unexpected is happening in the spreading, metal-roofed outbuilding on Cathy and Tom Holleran's property here comes from the steam pumping out of twin stacks on a frosty afternoon in early March.

Inside, the air is thick and sweet and glasses-fogging warm. A shiny metal evaporator holds gallons of sap tapped from the Hollerans' maple trees, with a raging wood fire fueling the boil.

Tom Holleran offers a tour of the evaporator, a tour he loves to give. He explains the smoke and steam stacks, the chambers, the front and back pans and floats, and points proudly to a bubbling channel of sap flowing the length of the contraption.

"That's actually running a little cool right now, but it's not bad, it's evaporating," he said. "I'm getting one percent syrup right now."

The Hollerans have been making maple syrup for about five years, Cathy said, and selling some of it locally under the label North Harford Maple.

Last year, the yield was 50 gallons. This year it will be less, and possibly every year from now on. The Hollerans' other property to the northwest, where Cathy grew up and her sister still lives, is on the route of the proposed Constitution Pipeline. The family, along with six other landowners in Susquehanna County, has refused to sell the easements the company has requested. On March 17, a U.S. district court judge granted Constitution the power to condemn the land along the route.

"The fact is, it's our property. We pay taxes every year," Cathy Holleran said. "[Constitution] impacts all this property our kids are going to inherit. I feel like it's not fair for us to just sign and say we're going to take your money and leave that pipeline for them. When we're dead and gone, that pipeline's going to be there forever."

The Constitution Pipeline would transport enough natural gas to serve about 3 million homes per day, according to the company, through a 30-inch pipe from Susquehanna County across nearly 100 miles of New York, including 17 miles in the Town of Sanford. It would also cross parts of Chenango and Delaware counties to a station in Schoharie County. Federal guidelines require the pipeline to be buried beneath two to four feet of cover, depending on soil conditions.

The gas would come from Marcellus shale fields, which currently have no direct pathway to Northeastern markets.


Christopher Stockton, a Houston-based spokesman, said benefits will extend to municipalities through which the pipeline passes.


Stockton said the use of eminent domain was a last resort following nearly three years of negotiations, and was brought on by the need to complete environmental assessments mandated by FERC. He said landowners will still be paid "the fair value" for easements the company obtains.


"We are not taking fee ownership of the land, we are executing an easement agreement which gives us the right to survey and then install and operate the pipe," he said. "The landowner still retains ownership of the property and can still use it for farming and other activities, with some restrictions."


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Why the Climate Change Movement Must Demand Energy Industry Nationalization | Bruce Lesnick | Truth-Out.org

Why the Climate Change Movement Must Demand Energy Industry Nationalization | Bruce Lesnick | Truth-Out.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come."
- Victor Hugo

Ever since scientists discovered a runaway greenhouse effect on our nearest planetary neighbor, Venus, we've known that climate Armageddon is a possibility. Even though Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth, Venus' thick cloud layer permits only one-sixth as much sunlight to reach the planet's surface. And while Mercury is nearly twice as close to the Sun as Venus, the surface on Venus is 10 percent hotter, measuring more than 864 degrees Fahrenheit. Why is Venus so hot? Its atmosphere is 97 percent carbon dioxide.

We know that human activities are adversely affecting Earth's climate. Scientists began to draw our attention to the link between fossil fuels, greenhouse gases and climate in the 1980s. Since then, the evidence for anthropogenic climate change has become overwhelming.

All that's left to debate is what to do about it.


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The Deadly Global War for Sand | Vince Beiser | WIRED.com

The Deadly Global War for Sand | Vince Beiser | WIRED.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The killers rolled slowly down the narrow alley, three men jammed onto a single motorcycle. It was a little after 11 am on July 31, 2013, the sun beating down on the low, modest residential buildings lining a back street in the Indian farming village of Raipur. Faint smells of cooking spices, dust, and sewage seasoned the air. The men stopped the bike in front of the orange door of a two-story brick-and-plaster house. Two of them dismounted, eased open the unlocked door, and slipped into the darkened bedroom on the other side. White kerchiefs covered their lower faces. One of them carried a pistol.

Inside the bedroom Paleram Chauhan, a 52-year-old farmer, was napping after an early lunch. In the next room, his wife and daughter-in-law were cleaning up while Paleram’s son played with his own 3-year-old boy.

Gunshots thundered through the house. Preeti Chauhan, Paleram’s daughter-in-law, rushed into Paleram’s room, her husband, Ravindra, right behind her. Through the open door, they saw the killers jump back on their bike and roar away.

Paleram lay on his bed, blood bubbling out of his stomach, neck, and head. “He was trying to speak, but he couldn’t,” Preeti says, her voice breaking with tears. Ravindra borrowed a neighbor’s car and rushed his father to a hospital, but it was too late. Paleram was dead on arrival.

Despite the masks, the family had no doubts about who was behind the killing. For 10 years Paleram had been campaigning to get local authorities to shut down a powerful gang of criminals headquartered in Raipur. The “mafia,” as people called them, had for years been robbing the village of a coveted natural resource, one of the most sought-after commodities of the 21st century: sand.

That’s right. Paleram Chauhan was killed over sand. And he wasn’t the first, or the last.


Our civilization is literally built on sand. People have used it for construction since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians. In the 15th century, an Italian artisan figured out how to turn sand into transparent glass, which made possible the microscopes, telescopes, and other technologies that helped drive the Renaissance’s scientific revolution (also, affordable windows).


Sand of various kinds is an essential ingredient in detergents, cosmetics, toothpaste, solar panels, silicon chips, and especially buildings; every concrete structure is basically tons of sand glued together with cement.


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Phase3 Telecom expands fibre optic cable link in West Africa | The Guardian Nigeria

Phase3 Telecom expands fibre optic cable link in West Africa | The Guardian Nigeria | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

West Africa’s largest independent fibre optic infrastructure and telecommunications services provider – Phase3 Telecom has announced plans to commence the deployment of aerial fiber optic infrastructure from Kano in Nigeria to Gazaoua in the Republic of Niger.

The network, which will run from Kano state through Katsina state before arriving at Gazaoua will be 228 km long. It is expected to be completed in the coming months.

The Republic of Niger is a landlocked country that borders seven countries; Algeria, Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria. The lack of backbone infrastructure between the Republic of Niger and its neighbors leaves Niger unable to fully enjoy the broadband advantage to its fullest.

With one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in West Africa, Republic of Niger will now have the opportunity to leverage on the huge bandwidth capacity, which is available at the Nigerian coast in Lagos through the Phase3 telecom aerial fiber network. This development will also widen the market for under-sea cable owners in Nigeria while enhancing broadband development in the Republic of Niger.

This project is expected to enhance and solidify the objectives behind the Nigeria – Niger Joint Commission (NNJC) and the partnership/relationship between the two countries.

Chief Executive Officer, Phase3 Telecom, Stanley Jegede said the opportunities that the Internet delivers are critical to the acceleration of sustainable socio-economic inclusion and growth for the Republic of Niger.

According to him, this will open doors to new opportunities for residents to enjoy the benefits of the Internet, such as being able to work from the comforts of their home or study online.

He stressed that businesses in this region will also be better positioned to use the internet to boost productivity, offer better service, connect with customers faster and work anywhere at reduced costs.


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Be-Bound®'s curator insight, Today, 4:17 AM

Birdiging the digital divide is a long and complew process and many ways exists, however the mots successful ones will be the simplest and quickest to implement.

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Ted Cruz embodies Republican climate change dilemma | Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian

Ted Cruz embodies Republican climate change dilemma | Sabrina Siddiqui | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Ted Cruz officially kicked off the long US presidential campaign when he declared his candidacy this week, but his anti-environmental rhetoric has already set the stage for a looming war over whether climate-change denial is a legitimate barrier to the most powerful job in the world.


Leading scientists are preparing for an American election in which global warming may receive much higher billing than before – and Republicans’ statements will be exposed to a level of scrutiny they have not formally had to deal with.


Cruz, the red-meat Texas senator with an army of conservative followers, raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he told the Texas Tribune that people who believe global warming is real are “the equivalent of the flat-Earthers”.

“It used to be it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier,” Cruz said.

The comments were emblematic of the environmental threat that has plagued the Republican party for years. Buoyed by the oil and gas companies and fossil-fuel-funder mega-donors that increasingly bankroll their campaigns, most prominent Republican politicians have either denied that climate change exists or refused to stake out a clear position, citing their personal lack of scientific knowledge.

But as the subject’s specter looms larger by the day, and as presumed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has stepped up her calls on the need to battle climate change as a potential signature issue, the “I’m not a scientist” line is infuriating scientists.

“I think, frankly, the Republican party is going to have to make a decision,” Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, who contributed to a Nobel Prize-winning landmark report on global warming, told the Guardian. “Are they going to move in the direction of logic and rationality, or are they going to continue to pursue this anti-scientific fringe movement within their party that is personified by people liked Ted Cruz?

“As long as the Koch brothers are pouring tens of millions of dollars into their campaigns,” Mann said, referring to the top conservative donors, “there’s going to be enough oxygen to keep these folks going.”


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Liberals get their own 'ALEC' -- it's called 'SiX' | Nathaniel Herz | Alaska Dispatch News

Liberals get their own 'ALEC' -- it's called 'SiX' | Nathaniel Herz | Alaska Dispatch News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Three Democratic legislators last week reported trips to Washington, D.C., in December to the kickoff conference of the State Innovation Exchange, a new group billed as the liberal counterpart to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which supplies conservative lawmakers with bills pushed by business interests and lobbyists.

Officials at SiX, as it calls itself, say it ultimately aims to give progressive lawmakers some of the same tools as ALEC, from template legislation to talking points, polling and even opposition research.

But while Alaska Democrats can learn from the strategies of their political opponents, the December conference didn't exactly leave them poised to overthrow Republican control, according to Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks.

The event, held at a luxury hotel near the National Zoo, featured speeches from liberal luminaries like U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Barack Obama’s labor secretary, Thomas Perez. But it was short on specifics, Guttenberg said.

“I actually thought it was disappointing -- it’s like, ‘OK, what are we doing?’ ” Guttenberg said. “There wasn’t enough substance for me.”

Other Democrats who traveled to the conference -- with around $1,000 in costs covered by SiX -- were Sen. Johnny Ellis and Rep. Chris Tuck, both of Anchorage. Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said he also spent time at the conference while in Washington for another event.

SiX launched late last year and aims to “turn the tide” back toward a more progressive agenda, said director Nick Rathod, a former liaison between Obama and state officials.

Republicans currently control 30 state legislatures, and 68 of 98 partisan chambers.

“For too long, it’s been a lot of defensive and pushing back on this onslaught to roll back environmental protections, roll back worker protections,” Rathod said in a phone interview from Washington. “We want to encourage legislators to really go on the offensive on ideas that support their working families in their states.”

SiX, however, has “a long way to go” to catch up with ALEC, said Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, the conservative group’s state chairman.

Keller said there are no more than six ALEC members in the Alaska Legislature, though in the past the group has claimed as many as nine.

ALEC holds conferences at which legislators sit with corporate representatives on task forces. Those small groups draft template bills that the legislators can take back to their home states, armed with talking points.

The group has recently seen the departure of several large corporate partners, however, including Google, which said ALEC was lying about climate change, and oil giant BP, which just announced its exit Monday.

Keller nonetheless just introduced legislation on insurance regulations, House Bill 159, that he said had been inspired by an ALEC colleague from Michigan. He said he welcomed the addition of a liberal counterpart to ALEC, saying the conservative group was a “good thing to aspire to.”

“The more the merrier -- it’s driven by demand,” Keller said. “May the tribe increase.”

Rathod said his group is fundamentally different from ALEC because of its non-corporate backers.


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New mobile-malware detection technique uses gestures | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

New mobile-malware detection technique uses gestures | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Mobile malware is a growing problem, but researchers from University of Alabama at Birmingham have figured out a new way of detecting when shady mobile apps get up to no good, such as trying to call premium-rate numbers unbeknowst to a phone’s owner.

The technique relies on using the phone’s motion, position and ambient sensors to learn the gestures that users typically make when they initiate phone calls, take pictures or use the phone’s NFC reader to scan credit cards.

Some mobile malware programs already abuse these services and security researchers expect their number will only increase.

The technology developed by the UAB researchers can monitor those three services and can check whether attempts to access them are accompanied by the natural gestures users are expected to make. If they’re not, they were likely initiated by malware.


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World’s first climate-positive data center being built in Sweden | Chris Wood | GizMag.com

World’s first climate-positive data center being built in Sweden | Chris Wood | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Information and communications technology consumes a full 10 percent of the world’s electricity, meaning that whenever a new data center is designed, its efficiency is of paramount concern. A new project, known as EcoDataCenter, will be the world’s first-climate positive data center, utilizing various techniques and technologies to ensure a positive impact on the wider world.

There are currently in excess of three million data centers in operation around the world, many of which have a significant negative impact on the environment, releasing heat into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

Sweden’s cold climate is well-suited to hosting data centers, with the region’s low average temperature – just 5°C (41°F) – helping to keep equipment cool. Energy prices in Sweden are also lower than many other parts of the world – approximately 40-50 percent lower than in the UK, according to statistics from Business Swede, Nord Pool Spot.

The EcoDataCenter, under constructed in the city of Falun, will draw power from the local energy grid, which is itself one of the most efficient in the world, but will also make use of its own excess heat and energy, using it to heat buildings in the district. The electricity drawn to power the center in the first place comes solely from renewable sources such as solar, water and wind power, as well as a local cogeneration plant.


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Eyes inspire more efficient solar cell architecture | Richard Moss | GizMag.com

Eyes inspire more efficient solar cell architecture | Richard Moss | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Solar cells don't at first glance have any relation to a tiny structure in the eye that makes our central vision sharp, but that tiny structure – called the fovea centralis – may be the key to a huge boost in solar cell efficiency. A team of scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light took the underlying mechanisms that guide the fovea and adapted them to silicon as a surface for collecting light in solar cells.

The fovea centralis – so called because it is a pit in the center of the macula of the retina – contains a number of closely-packed funnel-like inverted cones that connect directly to nerve cells and provide the visual detail that allows us to read or watch TV.

The researchers noted how the cones trap large amounts of light in well-lit environments and thought to try the same approach in collecting and conducting light for photovoltaics. The experiment worked: their silicon version of the fovea increased light absorption by around 65 percent in a thin-film solar cell, compared with a conventional silicon film. Power conversion efficiencies saw a similar improvement, at 60 percent higher than in optimized nanowire arrays of the same thickness.


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Modular biobattery plant turns a wide range of biomass into energy | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

Modular biobattery plant turns a wide range of biomass into energy | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Energy and Safety Technology have developed a "biobattery" in the form of a highly efficient biogas plant that can turn raw materials like straw, scrap wood and sludge into a variety of useful energy sources including electricity, purified gas and engine oil. The new plant design, currently being put to the test in a prototype plant in Germany, is said to be highly modular and economically viable even at the small scale.

The production of biogas  –  gas created by the breakdown of organic matter, by fermentation or through the action of anaerobic bacteria  –  is an interesting complement to other sources of renewable energy since it can not only generate electricity at little cost to the environment, but also create biofuel, fertilizer and engine oil. One issue, however, is that these plants only accept few organic substances as raw materials.

A new biogas plant developed at the Fraunhofer Institute could solve this problem by taking a number of materials that would normally have to be disposed of at great cost (like industrial biomass waste, sewage sludge, straw, scrap wood or manure) and process them with high efficiency into a more useful output, all through a highly modular, flexible design.


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New electrolyte promises to rid lithium batteries of short-circuiting dendrites | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

New electrolyte promises to rid lithium batteries of short-circuiting dendrites | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Dendrites – thin conductive filaments that form inside lithium batteries – reduce the life of these cells and are often responsible for them catching fire. Scientists working at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) of the US Department of Energy claim to have produced a new electrolyte for lithium batteries that not only completely eliminates dendrites, but also promises to increase battery efficiency and vastly improve current carrying capacity.

Many of the rechargeable batteries used in portable devices today are of the lithium-ion (Li-ion) type, composed of two electrodes in a recharging battery (a positive one made of lithium and a negative one created from graphite) and a chemical electrolyte. Basically, the electrolyte chemically contains the electric charge and also acts as the medium through which the current flows between electrodes when the battery is connected in a circuit.

Unfortunately, as the electrolyte in a Li-ion battery also contains a solution of lithium, the lithium electrode tends to react with this medium, causing dendrites to form.

When these fibers snake their way out from the electrode and into the electrolyte, they tend to break down the controlled path that the electrons generally take by producing conductive paths haphazardly throughout the structure. As a result, there is often a sudden and rapid discharge that allows excess current to flow. At best, this causes the battery to fail prematurely. At worst, this heats up the battery to such an extent that it can set fire to its own packaging or even the device in which it is contained.

In an attempt to counteract this dendrite formation, some researchers have tried such things as coating the anode of Li-ion batteries with carbon nanospheres or tweaking the formula of the electrolyte with additives. Others have even added Kevlar to the mix, but this doesn’t stop the dendrites growing, it merely stops them from expanding too far into the electrolyte.

The new electrolyte developed by the PNNL researchers, however, aims to completely replace the electrolyte with one that does not promote the growth of dendrites at all. And, as a fortunate aside, it also ups the capacity and efficiency of the battery too.


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CA: Fractivists Bust Up Aquifer Exemption Workshop: Anatomy of an Action | Lauren Steiner | LAProgressive.com

CA: Fractivists Bust Up Aquifer Exemption Workshop: Anatomy of an Action | Lauren Steiner | LAProgressive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

We were twenty minutes into one of the most boring PowerPoint presentations I have ever seen. While we looked at “shaded areas of cross-sections of multiple productive zones of oil fields,” the regulator was droning on and on. You’d think I’d be nodding off. But no, my heart was beating and my palms were sweating. I was about to do one of the boldest actions I have done since becoming an activist three and a half years ago.

Professionally dressed in a sedate gray dress and heels, I was seconds away from disrupting something called an “aquifer exemption workshop” led by DOOGR — the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Regulation –the very state agency that recently had been exposed for illegally allowing oil companies to inject toxic fracking wastewater into 2500 wells near California aquifers.

Since learning about the horrific practice of hydro-fracturing, commonly known as fracking three years ago, I have signed petitions, lobbied legislators, attended and organized rallies and spoken at conferences and on the radio. I even led a statewide petition campaign in 2013 that garnered 20,000 signatures. It asked a state senator to withdraw her weak fracking regulatory bill and fight for a ban instead. I wrote about it earlier here. The senator did not listen; and a year after the legislation was passed, as predicted, it was being ignored.

We found out about this “aquifer exemption workshop” where the regulators would outline “the data requirements and process for requesting an aquifer exemption under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” so Big Oil could continue to pollute our drinking water. Californians Against Fracking, a coalition of over 200 organizations in the state, was planning to do a demonstration outside the workshop. But some of us wanted to go one step further and actually disrupt the meeting.


I have been inspired by the work of Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, from PopularResistance.org, who have been disrupting governmental hearings in the nation’s capital ever since 2009 when Margaret was arrested in the Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare after she stood up to condemn the chairman for not having any single-payer advocates in the room. Their recent work to preserve Net neutrality and fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership  has been particularly creative.


I have also long admired the work of Medea Benjamin and the fearless activists of Code Pink. Last month they got inches away from putting handcuffs on war criminal Dick Cheney at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. While I had pointed my finger into the nose of an LAPD officer who stopped me from leading a Net neutrality march two blocks from the site of an Obama fundraiser last year, I had never done anything that bold. So it didn’t take me too long to tell the group that I was on board.


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Globally, this was the hottest winter on record, with the smallest measured Arctic sea ice maximum | Laurence Lewis | Daily Kos

Globally, this was the hottest winter on record, with the smallest measured Arctic sea ice maximum | Laurence Lewis | Daily Kos | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The National Climatic Data Center is terse and to the point:

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for February 2015 was the second highest since record keeping began in 1880. Both the year-to-date (January–February) and seasonal (December–February) globally averaged temperatures were record high.

Which continues the trend that made 2014 the hottest year on record. And given these continuing records, Thursday's report from the National Snow & Ice Data Center was no surprise:


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