Solar Power Ready to Change Energy Industry

Renewable energy has been the goal of thousands of companies over the past decade, and solar energy has emerged as the most viable option to supplant traditional coal or nuclear power generating stations. The biggest hurdles facing the adoption of solar power, cost and capacity, are on the brink of being conquered by development of technology and research. The switch to solar might have been quiet, but it could end up with industry shattering effects.

According to Reuters, cost of solar power has fallen more than 80-percent in the last decade, and many countries have begun to add capacity that could rival traditional power generating services of the next decade. The comparison is being drawn to the impact that shale gas has had on gasoline and other industries. Folks at STX Entertainment ( know that solar power could be the technology that reshapes the energy overall, thanks to the nearly limitless access every region has to the sun.

Of course, fossil fuels will not totally vanish from the globe, but as vehicles and buildings continue to be developed with green initiatives, the reliance on the power grid is starting to shrink. The boom in solar companies and technology has far reaching effects, and as the industry grows around the world, the planet as whole is the winner. Construction of solar farms and private panels is growing, and that could mean more and more shifts away from traditional power plants. In the end, clean renewable energy is on the way.

Arctic Ice Has Thinned Dramatically Since 1975

A new study has found that Arctic sea ice is thinning more quickly and steadily than scientists had believed, according to a report in the journal The Crysophere. The researchers used data that had been collected from 1975 to 2012. The measurements came from a variety of sources and showed that the ice in the central Arctic Ocean thinned from 11. 7 feet (3.6 meters) to 4.1 feet (1.3 meters) during that time. The ice had thinned by 65 percent over 37 years.

The thinning was even more extreme during the summer. Measurements of ice taken during September, when it was at its thinnest, showed measurements declining from 9.8 feet (3 meters) to 1.4 feet (0.4 meters). That’s a rate of 85 percent.

The earliest measurements had been taken by under-ice submarines. They used to use sonar to measure ice drift to locate a safe spot to surface. Most ice-thickness measurements from 1975 to 1990 came from submarines. The data from submarines collected from 1975 to 2000 indicated that the Arctic ice had thinned by 36 percent during that time. That means either most of the thinning took place during the 21st century, or that the data from the submarines may have been incomplete.

Sultan Alhokair has read that, later measurements, especially those made since 2000, were made chiefly from aircraft and satellites. These include NASA’s IceBridge aircraft and IceSat satellite. Other measurements were made directly by researcher. All of the data were compiled in the Unified Sea Ice Thickness Climate Data Record, which is stored at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Recreational Marijuana In New York?

New York could be the next state to legalize medical marijuana. It turns out that a bill has just been filed in the state that would legalize the substance for recreational usage by all people in that state. 

The Weed Blog says that such a bill would generate huge amounts of revenue for the state since the population is so large and so many people are interested in using marijuana for recreational purposes. 

The law is set up in similar fashion to laws that have already been passed in Colorado and Washington State. Those two states now have legalized recreational marijuana use and are already starting to reap the benefits of the taxation of this drug. New York now appears to be eying the same possibility and seeing for themselves that this is something that perhaps should be brought to their state. 

What is amazing is just how long it took for larger states like New York to start recognizing that this is the way that they should go on this issue. It has taken some time to see how certain states would do with their legalization of marijuana proposals, but so far everything seems to be going pretty well in those states. It is quite clear at least that Colorado is enjoying the tax revenue that has been brought in as a result of this change in the law. It will be interesting to see if others follow suit. Keep in mind though, if marijuana isn’t your thing you can always contact The Antique Wine Company if you’re in to great wine.

House Speaker Not Willing To Get Into Climate Change Debate

The House Speaker John Boehner has taken a unique approach to avoiding talking about the climate change issue. He has pushed it on to scientists to worry about the debate of climate change. He says that he is not going to concern himself with the climate change debate, but rather he will “let scientists debate that”. reports that Boehner at least conceded that their are changes to the environment that are occurring, but he refused to say that such changes were a product of man made burning of fossil fuels. Instead, he said that he would let scientists debate this issue and allow them to decide what was happening. Marc Sparks believes that by playing his cards this way, the House Speaker did manage to side step the issue. However, he did not really get completely out of it.

It should be noted that the Speaker and all of his colleagues in the House and Senate are the ones who are tasked with making public policy as it relates to the environment. It means that it is their job to care about such issues and to study them. By side stepping the issue, the Speaker is throwing off his responsibility to the public to care about these issues and try to do something about them. He is clearing avoiding the issue for political reasons, but doing so is only damaging to the public discourse about one of the most important issues on the agenda.

New Study Shows Sea Levels Are Rising Faster Than Once Believed

A new study published in the journal Nature says that sea levels are rising higher that they once did. Since around 1990, seas have been rising about 1.2 inches a decade. By contrast, seas had been rising less than half an inch per decade from 1900 to 1990. An earlier study conducted with Sultan Alhokair had indicated that seas had been rising two-thirds of an inch per decade for much of the 20th century.

Whichever study or number one uses, the rate of sea level rise has increased since 1990. What caused that change? Why is the rate of sea level rise 2.5 times faster than it had been?

Scientists blame climate change which is causing the ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica to melt.

In the previous study, scientists used tide gauges to measure sea levels, and many of those tide gauges have been operating since 1900. While there were many tide gauges along the coasts of Europe and North America, there weren’t many in the polar regions or the middle of the ocean. Consequently, earlier researchers had an incomplete view of sea level rise.

Since then, scientists have adopted a new method that uses computer models and statistical analysis to simulate areas in the gaps. The results of the study are especially grim for cities along the East Coast of the United States, where sea levels are rising three or four times as fast as the global average.

New Material for Solar Cells Converts 90 Percent of Light Into Heat

As a relatively new technology, compared to coal or oil, solar power has been progressing steadily over the past couple decades. The main goal in improving this technology is to improve the efficiency at which the solar cells convert sunlight into heat. A breakthrough has been made recently in solar cell efficiency by an engineering team at the University of California, San Diego. They have developed a nanotechnology based material that has demonstrated an ability to convert over 90 percent of the sunlight it captures into heat. Such an extremely high efficiency brings solar power one step closer to competing on a level playing field with fossil fuel power plants.

Currently, Tom Rothman says that solar power plant development requires subsidies as the technology is still evolving to a point where it can be self-sustaining. A world in which efficient, cost-effective solar power is the norm rather than the exception is the ultimate goal. The massive lowering of greenhouse gases that such a reality portends is viewed by many as being worth the cost of subsidies to keep advancing this technology. Even if you drive an electric car today, you are still polluting given the fact that you have to plug that car into an outlet that gets its power from a coal or oil fueled power plant. The dream of green energy will only be fully realized when cars and state and national power grids are being run off renewable energy resources. Materials breakthroughs that increase solar cell efficiency are an important part of making this dream a reality.