NewEnergyNews: ART CENTER DESIGN SUMMIT 2008, DAY 1: DESIGNING 2040

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE DOE LOAN PROGRAM PAYS OFF
  • QUICK NEWS, November 25: THE PRESIDENT’S CLIMATE CHANGER; SOLAR AND WIND BEAT COAL, GAS ON PRICE; LED LIGHTING TO DISRUPT, TRANSFORM THE INDUSTRY
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: RUNNING OUT OF GAS
  • QUICK NEWS, November 24: NEW ENERGY DOMINATES THE U.S. NEW BUILDS AGAIN; SIERRA CLUB, UNITED STEELWORKERS WANT WIND JOBS; THE ABUNDANCE OF SOLAR
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Much More Inhofe Now
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Talks Keystone, Politics, And Jobs
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart On How Keystone Opponents May Be Caught In Their Own Trap
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW WAY TO SEE CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU OCEAN WIND TO CUT COSTS, KEEP GROWING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-COST-COMPETIVE NEW ENERGY, GERMANY’S ‘GIFT TO THE WORLD’
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY MATCHES COAL ON COST, CAPACITY IN TURKEY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-TOP REPUBLICAN DROPS CLIMATE DENIAL
  • TTTA Thursday-FORD ELECTRIC CARS FOR ‘THE MASSES’
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST SOLAR MAKES SENSE AND CENTS
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY JOBS BY THE BAY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE MIDWEST GRID IS READY FOR 40% NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, November 19: OHIO NEW ENERGY JOBS REPORT SUPPRESSED; SOLAR GIANT BUYS WIND DEVELOPER; BUSINESS TO MAKE IT BIG IN SMART CITIES
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Thursday, February 07, 2008

    ART CENTER DESIGN SUMMIT 2008, DAY 1: DESIGNING 2040

    Think Hillary Clinton will get the U.S. ready to face the future? Think Barack Obama will bring the country back into the world? Maybe John McCain is the one to prepare the nation’s defenses for an endless war on Islamofascism?

    A bunch of remarkable thinkers in Pasadena are also looking at the cards the future might deal and discussing what the best bets to make might be.


    The Art Center Summit 2008: Systems, Cities & Sustainable Mobility is a gathering of an exclusive group of designers, engineers, planners, scientists, product planners, urban planners, industry leaders, government officials and leading educators. It was organized to provide cutting edge information for these folks as they design future transportation within future environments in a sustainable matrix.

    What's in the cards for 2040? (click to enlarge)

    To that end, Art Center presented Mobility Vision Integration Process (mVIP), a faculty-designed card game for just such gatherings and workshops. After a brief explanation of the game cards, trained leaders and game designers led small groups of these knowledgeable and innovative thinkers through the “vision integration” process. At tables all around the room, players were instantly galvanized at the challenges set out by the cards they were dealt. After 5 to 15 minutes of floundering, the discussions started drawing out creativity. Understanding of the futures their cards described emerged.

    Soon the leaders dealt the final 4 cards and the groups launched into problem solving. Solutions ran the gamut, from innovative ways to not consume energy to extraordinary ways to generate zero-emissions, endlessly renewable energies.

    Some players pontificated; some debated. Some groups used markers and oversized sketch pads to draw out designs for things nobody ever thought of; some made lists of things the brave new world of 2040 would or would not be able to do without. In an hour, there were more viable and detailed images of tomorrow than everything Hollywood has ever produced.

    And that was just the first morning of the Summit. Afternoon presentations covered transportation-and-the-city subjects: Innovations for London’s overburdened streets (Martin Tillman); The dreadful waste created by outdated U.S. urban commuter systems (Scott Bernstein); Transportation pricing strategies to incentivize a transition from suburban to urban living (Martin Wachs); The place of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in new urbanism (William Browning).

    After 5-minute pitches for some exciting ideas like fold-up motorbikes in China and wearable motorized transport (is it a shoe or is it a scooter?), Hannah Jones of Nike wowed the innovators with a presentation about corporate responsibility.

    The day was capped by a briefing from Department of Energy Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary John Mizroch on U.S. energy and concluded with the Summit’s keynote address from noted author Paul Hawken, who wrote
    Natural Captialsim, which President Clinton called one of the five most important books about today's world.

    The Aptera was in the house. (click to enlarge)

    By the way, Aptera brought one of its incredible 3-wheeled all-electric wonders and Fisker-Karma brought its sexy plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Both are about to be unleashed on the car market and both were parked on the floor of the Summit meeting room all day. Talk about eye candy.

    The Fisker-Karma. (click to enlarge)

    Mobility Vision Integration Process at The
    Art Center Summit 2008: System's Cities & Sustainable Mobility

    February 6 & 7, 2008 (Art Center College of Design)

    WHO
    Art Center’s Advanced Mobility Research and Graduate Industrial Design Programs (Developers: Lloyd Walker, Geoff Wardle, Andy Ogden, Dave Muyres)

    WHAT
    Mobility Vision Integration Process (mVIP): A workshop card game in which players are dealt a set of world circumstances, then assigned a customer and a business and asked to brainstorm a product to serve that customer in those circumstances.

    Sorting 2040 into categories of possibilities. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    The Mobility Vision Integration Process is in beta testing. It was presented publicly for the first time at the Art Center Summit 2008 February 6.

    WHERE
    - The game is designed to be workshopped by any kind of group. Its applications and challenges are applied to any number of potential world scenarios.
    - The Summit was at Art Center’s Pasadena, CA, campus.

    WHY
    - 109 cards in 11 categories generate a remarkable variety of future circumstances.
    - A group is dealt 11 cards. They add up to a scenario for the year 2040. The first 7 describe a future world. The last 4 describe the group’s business situation. The group proceeds to create a plan of action.
    - Categories describing the world of 2040: Energy, Society, Technology, Economy, Ecology, Political, Wildcard.
    - Describing the challenge: Enterprise, Axiom, Customer, Constraint.
    - The Art Center concept creators call it “vision intergration” because it was designed to formalize, make repeatable and deployable “artists’ concepts” in a world short on viable solutions.
    - mVIP draws on the finest governmental and independent data and research (ex: Rocky Mountain Institute, Energy Information Administration, etc.; see Links & Resources).

    A fascinating exercise in trying to prepare solutions to meet problems instead of waiting for problems without solutions. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Art Center website: “The outcome of mVIP is to enable teams of creative people, charged with designing viable, future mobility solutions to deal with wide-ranging, unpredictable and disparate issues that we usually have no control over and to spot otherwise unforeseen opportunities.”
    - Geoff Wardle, Art Center Instructor/codesigner: “…These cards are not going to predict the future but what they can do is alert people to the sorts of things they need to be thinking about…it helps people to understand the complexity of things and to deal with it…
    - Wardle, on the mVIP website: When you log on to the website, it will give you a random selection of cards…you can change the world scenario or you can change the design content…You can keep coming up with alternative future scenarios…

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