Sunday 15th of December the yearly UN Climate Conference in Lima finished, two days late, with a deal between all 194 represented nations. For the first time in history, an agreement has been reached that commits every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The deal outlines the framework which will be the core of the necessary deal to take serious global action, to be agreed upon during the climate top in Paris in December 2015.
Last Thursday, Great-Britain’s first ‘poo bus’ made its maiden ride. Powered enirely by human feces and food waste, the Bio-bus can travel up to 186miles on one tank of the biomethane gas produced out of the waste by anaerobic bacteria. The bus will transport passengers between Bath city centre and Bristol airport, around 10 000 people a year. The engine is very similar to common Diesel engines, yet carbon dioxide emissions are at least 30% lower. Most important, the fuel is completely renewable and sustainable. It’s an example that with current technology it’s possible to create sustainable public transport which doesn’t compromise on comfort and yet increases the air quality.
California is not the only place who’s suffering historical droughts. The Canteira system is at its lowest level on record, posing a serious threat to water provisions of South-America’s largest city Sao Paullo. The government was forced months ago to install daily rationing. If the current situation doesn’t change dramaticcaly, Sao Paola can fall dry by February next year. Brazil relies heavily on hydropower and has to start up very polluting coal plants since no water means no hydropower. In the meantime, many speculate about the reasons behind this unseen drought. Antonio Nobre (one of country’s most respected Earth scientists and climatologists) believes the far going deforestation in the Amazon and the almost complete disappearance of the Atlantic forest are the main reason. The forest used to cool down the region and inforced a water cycle which is now broken.
This week, an unseen amount of snow covered large parts of the United states. In three days, an equivalent to a year’s supply of snow has fallen, killing at least 10 people. Global warming is intensifying the water cycle of planet earth and sights like this will become the standard. The snow is not the only misery; when it starts melting many states will have to deal with severe flooding.
This week, SolaRoad opened its first solar powered bike road in the Netherlands. The test lane is about 100 meters long and will give useful information about the efficiency of the solar panels build into the concrete lane, covered with a thick glass sheet to protect the panels. An interesting experiment, yet there are many objections to make. Why lay solar panels on the ground, where they will rapidly get covered with mud and dirt? SolaRoad says it solves this problem by tilting the bike lanes slightly. The test project will show if this is sufficient. Another important objection is that the panels aren’t tilted properly to catch as much solar power as possible. According to The Guardian this could mean a decrease of 30% electricity. It is very unlikely solar panel roads will be powering street lightning, let alone electric vehicles passing over it.