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The North American Supergrid: Saving our Electricity and Our Climate by ClimateYou Editor Abby Luby

Imagine a high voltage supergrid that would supply 48 states with a reliable stream of electricity. Right now, a High Voltage Current transmission network, or supergrid, is being proposed. It’s known as the North American Supergrid (NAS or Supergrid). The NAS would be constructed almost all underground along already existing roadways or right-of-ways. Power lines underground means protection from downed lines and outages happening more and more from natural disasters (think devastating superstorms like Sandy (2012), Maria  (Puerto Rico, still without power), hurricanes, tornados, flooding, rain, snow, ice storms. Also, our electric grid has increasingly become a vulnerable target for cyber and terrorist attacks which would be less likely to happen with an underground supergrid.

A Supergrid like this sounds pretty good, right? And odds are that it can become a reality. The public learned about just how it would work on November 29th, 2017, at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium. The symposium was hosted by John Topping, President and CEO of the Climate Institute based in Washington DC. Topping has been with the Climate Institute since its founding in 1986.

The super grid was initially promoted by Alexander MacDonald, one of the world’s top weather scientists, and the first presenter at the symposium. MacDonald is known for collaborating with other scientists in authoring the NAS concept published last year in Nature Climate Change. MacDonald revealed how wind is always blowing somewhere in the United States and if it was tapped into for energy on a national scale it would help the U.S. grid overcome intermittency problems. This would work especially since high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) transmission lines are known to suffer less energy loss than traditional alternating-current transmission lines. Working on this premise, surplus power generated by such renewables as wind, solar hydroelectric and natural gas from around the nation via the proposed national super grid network of 30,000 miles of HVDC electricity lines, would use less power from fossil fuel facilities. By producing power from sustainable energy sources, we would significantly lower carbon emissions created by power made from fossil fuels. Studies about the NAS Super grid have shown cutting electricity generating emissions by as much as 80 percent by 2030 could significantly reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, lessening the growing number of greenhouse gases negatively impacting our climate.

The supergrid would link into the existing grid and tap into power not only from traditional power plants, but also from energy generated by renewables, which would create a competitive energy market. The plan is to have approximately two-thirds of the HVDC cable be placed underground but where a link cannot be aligned, construction of traditional, aboveground transmission lines may be required. The proposed super grid construction would create hundreds of thousands of jobs for several decades.

Testing the idea with MacDonald was Christopher Clack of NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and other colleagues who built a computer model analyzing different configurations of a weblike network of interregional HVDC lines plus renewable energy installations. The model divides the United States into a grid of 152,000 squares that are assigned to regional grids.

https://energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/transmission-planning/recovery-act-0

Our existing electrical grid is over 100 years old: 70% of the grid’s transmission lines and power transformers are over 25 years old, the average age of this country’s power plants is over 30 years old. Strengthening our aging and inefficient grid is becoming a crucial necessity; reliable electricity is now a life-sustaining requirement. This NAS Supergrid would be one of America’s great infrastructure programs. The proposal should have popular, bi-partisan backing in Congress. Let’s hope they move forward and make it happen.

 

 

 
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Leading by Example: Google leads renewable energy movement by City Tech Blogger Gerald Pasco

Over the past decade Google has grown to be one of the biggest companies on the planet. People from all over the world know who and what Google is: acompany who strives on the principle of innovation. So it really isn’t a surprise when you read on the news that their company is almost entirely run on renewable energy and that by the end of 2017 the company plans to be 100% reliant on renewable energy. By doing this they plan to have all of their offices and data centers throughout the world run solely on solar and wind energy. There new energy purchasing model isn’t something that they are trying to hide. The company also hopes to inspire other businesses to follow suit.

So why is this important? Why does a big company like Google entirely run on renewable energy so important? Is it because that if they are a big company then it will be seen as acceptable? According to Google’s 2017 Environmental Report,  they are the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. Signing 20 agreements totaling 2.6 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy. If you want to imagine how much this affects the environment it would be equivalent to taking more than 1.2 million cars off the road. And according to the EPA ,  in 2015 transportation in the U.S accounted for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes with 90% of fuel used is either diesel or gasoline.

So what is Google’s goal? According to Google their end goal is “a zero-carbon world where everyone everywhere has access to clean, carbon-free energy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This means empowering all energy users with cheap, clean options by continuing to drive down the cost of existing renewable energy sources like wind and solar and developing new policies, technologies, and tools that help users, businesses, and activists drive change.”

Now imagine if more other companies followed in their footsteps. I go back to the title of my post because in order for the world to move towards a better tomorrow and protect the environment with renewable energy there has to be someone that can lead us or show us how it can be done. Companies can easily support ideals that help our environment but rarely do they follow on their promises, especially if it will cost them money.  Our world is still very reliant on fossil fuels which is no doubt hurting our environment and adding to the already high level of greenhouse gases, and it doesn’t seem like renewable energy will be our number one source of energy anytime soon. But for now this is a step in the right direction.

 

 
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Altering the Environment by City Tech Blogger Nathan Persaud

Changing climates on Earth is something everyone is currently experiencing whether they like it or not. This type of change refers to change in climate or temperature change in a specific region. This could be a change in Earth’s usual temperature. Earth’s climate has always been constantly changing. More specifically, here in New York City climate change has been ongoing.

Climate change can be affected by many factors. This can include human disturbances. Humans use massive amounts of energy daily, and even hourly. Scientist say  this can range from driving your car to simply cooking or reheating food in the microwave. Before the power can reach into people’s homes it is produced by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal. By burning these fuels, the gas heats the air up and over time causes the climate to change. Climate change can also be affected by events outside of man’s control. For example, a shift in the orbit of Earth from the sun, the sun can release more or less energy into space, or even when a volcano erupts there can be atmospheric change that can lead to climate change. All of these factors play a role in causing Earth’s climate to change over time and will continue to cause the climate to change on Earth and in New York City.

Currently in the New York region, there have been several types of climate change. First, New York City has experienced a shift in temperature. The national average temperature has risen 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970 and winter warming exceeding 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This increase has occurred in the entire state. Secondly, precipitation cycles have increased rapidly in NYC. Since 1990 precipitation has risen every year and pronounced to rise in a shorter period. We receive more precipitation in the winter than in the summer seasons. Also the precipitation that has occurred is mostly heavy rain. Thirdly, the sea levels along the coast of New York are rising. They have risen more than one foot since 1990. This is almost twice the observed global rate per decade. Finally, some natural occurrences have been causing climate change. This includes a shift in the seasons. Compared to a couple decades ago, spring has begun a week earlier. By spring starting earlier than usual, this is a clear sign that the Earth is warming up; temperatures are increasing. Thus with temperatures increasing, during the winter season there is less snow cover. Snow covering allows the Earth to naturally cool down. This is where the Earth is farthest from the sun. So we can also assume that there are slight shifts in the Earth’s orbit.

As you can see, these are just a few contributing factors that are causing climate change not only in NYC, but globally.  In the future,  temperature increases could potentially cause bodies of water to dry up, start forest fires, or even cause more fossil fuels to be burned because people would need energy to cool their homes and huge apartment and office buildings in the city. More rain in the future can cause flooding and sea levels to rise. Climate change is constantly altering. We may not have total control over it but we can still help prevent it.

 

 

 
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Yes, There Are Melting Glaciers of Africa Too by ClimateYou Assistant Editor Idiatu Jalloh

When most people think about glaciers, they do not think about Africa. However, there are glaciers in Africa too. And these glaciers are all located in sub-Sahara Africa, up top three of Africa’s biggest and highest mountains: Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and the Rwenzori Mountains. Although these glaciers have been there since ancient times, the glaciers of Africa are only starting to be known to people around the world. But as their popularity grows, their size is rapidly reducing. The glaciers of Africa are in imminent danger of disappearing this century. And scientists monitoring the glaciers are blaming global warming for the rapid melting of glaciers’ ice. Already climate change has caused almost eighty percent of the ice to melt, and from evidence such as photographs taken early in the 20th century,  much of this melting happened this past century, a rate undoubtedly much faster than past centuries.  Based on the rate the glaciers are melting, scientists predict they could be gone in twenty years, or by 2030.

Glaciers on Margherita Peak on Rwenzori mountains. http://www.amusingplanet.com/2014/09/the-disappearing-glaciers-of-africa.html

The melting of the glaciers is an indication of the rapid rise in temperature in the region. If these glaciers melt, they could threaten the ecosystem. Even though they are unknown to many people around the world, including Africans, these glaciers have been very important in sustaining the lives of millions of people, animals, and plants in their regions.  For example the glacier of the Rwenzori mountains, dubbed the “African Alps,” is the highest source of water for the Nile River, so “it disappearance threatens dozens of plant and animal species that call the range home.”  This threat also true for other living things that are dependent on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

Though the problem of the disappearing glaciers is known, the solution to the problem remains elusive and this is because as Luc Hardy, explorer and founder of Pax Arctic said, “it’s not like there’s a specific local cause that you could act on. It’s pretty much all of us, all over the world, creating C02 in the air.” The problem is caused by global warming. And for as long as temperatures keep rising, these glaciers will disappear even if the locals living near and dependent on these glaciers for fresh water are not contributing to global warming.  To solve this problem, everyone has to take responsibility for climate change. As a Kenyan Alpinist, James Kagambi said, “[a] lot of times, people think that ‘I’m only one in a billion people.’ But a’long journey starts with one step. If you want to save our world, that journey can start with one person. Do what is right, and maybe your family will follow suit, your clan will follow suit, your tribe will follow suit, and maybe your whole country will follow suit.” It is not right that regions with the lowest carbon emissions are feeling the greatest impacts of climate change.

 

 
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Thank You City Tech Bloggers!

We here at ClimateYou want to thank all the City Tech Bloggers from Dr. Reginald Blake’s “Physics of Natural Disasters” classes, that have participated in blogging about climate change and global warming since September. Your voice embellished our ClimateYou voices and we were able to share your views and thoughts with the growing population concerned about the impact of the changing climate. Also, we’ve appreciated how many of you shared your personal experience of the dramatic impact of climate change in your country of origin, far from New York City. We hope your awareness of this important life-changing issue will grow; please know that you are always welcome to share your words, concerns, opinions at ClimateYou.

Thanks again, City Tech Bloggers!

 

 
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