2015 proved to be another weird weather year around the country, especially for Texas. 80 degrees and dry in Austin on Christmas Day, spring wildflowers in bloom, and kids playing outside in shorts – a surprise ending to a wild ride of drought followed by devastating floods followed by drought and then more floods.
Texas is used to drought-flood cycles and extreme weather, but last year the pendulum seemed to swing wildly from one to the next. And climate models predict intense swings for the future as well: After the next flood is another drought, which will likely be more intense and longer than usual due to climate change.
Unfortunately, it seems like during our brief respites from drought, we also take a break from thinking about water scarcity. After the year we’ve just had, this should not be the case – water security should be at the top of Texans’ minds going into 2016. But there are two promising developments for our water future: the Clean Power Plan and examples that cities in other water-stressed Western states are setting. Read More
Originally published on CleanTechnica.
I was a little kid when the first Star Wars movie came out, and it’s not an understatement to say that it remains a huge influence on me. For those of my generation, growing up in the 1980s, it was a powerful “force” in our lives. The Star Wars films have arguably left a legacy like no other: in the 2011 census, nearly 200,000 residents of England and Wales identified themselves as Jedi Knights, the largest single category after the traditional, mainstream religions. And now, with the new film promising to restore fans’ faith in the franchise, a new generation can be inspired.
But aside from its devoted fan base, Star Wars and other sci-fi mega-blockbusters have a much greater role to play in our society. Science fiction both reflects the times we are in and inspires future technologies – not to mention the innovators that create them. This is true of most science fiction: think about Jules Verne (arguably the father of Science Fiction) and the influence 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had on submarines, or the original Star Trek series and communicators (flip phones), or 2001: A Space Odyssey and interactive computers (hello, Siri!). Read More
If you drive around the Lone Star State, you’re sure to see bumper stickers that say, “Texas: Bigger than France.” It references an ongoing debate about which “country” is bigger (something Texans feel very strongly about), but a closer look (aka, a quick Google search) reveals Texas and France are roughly equivalent in size. This, however, is where the similarities end – at least until recently.
Earlier this summer, France and the rest of Western Europe were in the grips of a record-breaking heatwave. Texans are certainly no strangers to crippling heat, even if we have been enjoying a relatively mild summer (so far) with regular spring and summer rains. But one year of El Nino climate patterns does not mean Texas is in the clear. Nor does it mean one abnormally hot summer in France is the last one they’ll see.
Global climate change predictions show that extreme heat and drought are on the rise, meaning both Texas and France increasingly need to consider water in their energy decisions. Why? Because as temperatures increase, so will our energy demand, which means an increase in demand for water, too.
Both France and Texas are facing some tough times ahead based on climate models, but their responses are very different. Read More
By: Jorge Madrid, Coordinator, Partnerships and Alliances, and Kate Zerrenner, Clean Energy Project Manager
School’s out for summer! It’s time to check those report cards and figure out if we made the energy efficiency grade or if we’re stuck trying to catch up.
For Los Angeles, the marks are pretty consistent: “Not great yet, but getting there…”
According to the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE), who just released their 2015 City Energy Efficiency Score Card, Los Angeles is the most improved city in the country – rising the fastest of all cities and finally breaking the top 15 rankings (up to #12 from #28 last year). ACEEE cites “a strong new suite of climate goals and high marks in energy and water utilities” as key factors in the city’s improved score.
For a city the size and scale of Los Angeles (second largest U.S. city in total population, a regional economy larger than most countries, and the largest manufacturing sectors and ports in the U.S.) these are impressive accolades. The city has consistently kept water demand relatively flat despite a booming population and desert-like climate. L.A. also has a gold star from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for being ranked second on a list of the top 25 U.S. cities with the most energy efficient buildings in the nation. Read More
Every year, SXSW Eco – one of the most high-profile environmental conferences – selects its programming based on votes from the public. This means anyone, regardless of whether you submitted a panel, can cast a vote.
This year, seven experts from Environmental Defense Fund are featured on dynamic panels that cover everything from solar equity and new utility business models to innovative building efficiency programs and the threat of methane pollution. To make sure EDF and energy-related programming is represented at the conference in Austin, TX this October, we are asking our readers to please vote for your favorite EDF panels and presentations. Read More
Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, General, Grid Modernization, Illinois, Methane, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Texas, Utility Business Models