1. World Science Festival explains, how nuclear power plants work

     

  2. In hydraulic fracturing, a slurry of water, sand, and chemicals is blasted at high pressure through a well pipe that reaches a mile or more into a layer of shale. There, the high-pressure fluid cracks open the porous rock, unlocking trapped oil and gas and releasing it to flow back up the well. Like all energy extraction methods, fracking has a multitude of environmental impacts, but one critical question will determine fracking’s future: Does fracking contaminate drinking water? 

    The politics of fracking

     


  3. Have you cut your energy consumption — and greenhouse gas emissions — by 40 percent in recent years? Didn’t think so. Neither have I, or many of the other seven billion people on the planet. In a draft of their final report that was leaked last week to The New York Times, scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have concluded that the world is not heeding their repeated warnings, and that mankind’s heavy use of fossil fuels — and emissions of carbon dioxide — are increasing, not declining by 25 to 40 percent, as they recommended.

    Resistance remains strong. If plan A is prevent climate change through massive, collective sacrifice, let’s face it: It’s time to start working on plan B.

    — William Falk, in Why climate change is inevitable
     

  4. If trends continue, solar energy prices could be competitive with coal by 2020.

    Get ready for a massive renewable energy boom

     

  5. America has an energy addiction

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  6. All your tweets, emails, and other assorted pieces of data end up being stored in vast centers requiring unfathomable amounts of energy. The New York Times investigated the huge amounts of power that go into the sprawling server farms. Here, a brief look at the eye-popping numbers:

    1 — Bytes used to store a single letter or number

    1 — Gigabytes required to store for one billion bytes of information

    50,000 — Gigabytes used by a “data-intensive customer" who stored a lot of data in server farms 10 years ago

    1 million — Gigabytes processed and housed in data centers during the creation of a single 3D-animated movie today

    2,000 — Gigabytes of data produced each day by the New York Stock Exchange

    30 billion — Watts of electricity used by digital warehouses worldwide, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants

    76 billion — Kilowatt-hours used by data centers nationwide in 2010, or roughly 2 percent of all electricity used in the United States

    More numbers…

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  7. Cartoon of the day — Restoring justice 
    NATE BEELER © 2012 Cagle Cartoons

    More cartoons

    (Source: theweek.com)

     


  8. 4 myths and misunderstandings about gasoline, renewable energy, and politicians

    Myth #1: Presidents have major power over gas prices 

    "Gasoline prices have more than doubled on Obama’s watch, from $1.89 on Inauguration Day in 2009 to last week’s $3.93. That’s an increase of 107 percent. But guess what? Gas prices skyrocketed 387 percent between 2002 and 2008, when the average price of regular went from $1.06 to $4.11, before dropping again before Obama took office. 

    So if you blame Obama for gas prices doubling, then who do you blame for gas prices nearly quadrupling in the six years before our Democratic president was sworn in? And why was gas, at $1.89, so cheap when he took office, anyway? Credit (or blame) the crippling recession of 2007 to 2009, which saw millions thrown out of work and demand for gasoline crater. It’s the same reason gas was just $1.06 back in 2002, following another downturn. Of course, a nasty recession and near economic collapse is not the way we want to lower gas prices. But that’s what happened. 

    When gas prices exploded from 2002 to 2008, Democrats — including then-Sen. Obama — were wrong to blame George W. Bush, just as Republicans are wrong to blame Obama for the 107 percent jump since 2009. So who can we blame? The “blame,” if that’s the word, lies largely with the ever-changing market cycles of supply and demand — not just in the U.S., but around the world.  I know, I know. It would be so much simpler if you could just blame one person for the rise in global commodity prices. But that’s not how it works. Sorry.”

    -Paul Brandus: Why you’re wrong about gas prices and politics

     

  9. Pockets of extremely high radiation have been discovered near a ventilation chimney at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The radiation has reached a level of at least 10 sieverts per hour — the highest level the Geiger counters available can measure and more than 40 times the maximum radiation exposure that’s allowed for the plant’s workers on an annual basis. A single dose of 10 sieverts per hour will kill a person.

    Photo: REUTERS/Tokyo Electric Power Co

     

  10. GM has a new self-driving pod car. It’s hands-free, has two wheels, can park itself, and come when you call… by smartphone.

     


  11. The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light-bulb choices.
    — 

    Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

    GOP lawmakers are trying to repeal an energy bill mandating that light bulbs use 25 to 30 percent less energy starting in 2012, and 65 percent less energy by 2020. Some say the new standards would effectively ban traditional incandescent bulbs (or at least phase them out) in favor of compact-fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs, potentially saving billions in energy consumption.

     

  12. Fire crews in New Mexico are fighting off an approaching wildfire, trying to protect one of the nation’s preeminent nuclear labs, where 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste are believed to be stored in “fabric-type buildings.” As of Thursday morning, the fire was two miles from the nuclear waste.

    Photo: REUTERS/Eric Draper

     


  13. There is no way the existing energy system can satisfy the world’s future requirements. It must be replaced or supplemented in a major way by a renewable alternative system or, forget Westphalia, the planet will be subject to environmental disaster of a sort hard to imagine today.
    — Hampshire College professor of peace and world security studies Michael T. Klare says climate change and growing demands for energy will lead the planet into another major world war