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We ended up with some nice rain yesterday, but it did not occur early enough in the week to be incorporated into the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. The Midwest part of the Monitor now shows moderate drought in parts of northern Wisconsin. And…I am really ticked-off about it. This is the 6th year in a row that we have experienced a significant period of drought in the northern half of the state. If I had some angry looking emoticons I would insert one right here. Instead I’ll just have to use the sad face
I am planning a vacation late next week and next weekend and I usually roam around in the northwoods hitting a few small trout streams. Some of the prettiest and most productive streams have been shrunk down to shells of their former selves in recent years and it has become tough to catch a fish. I was really jazzed about the above normal rainfall earlier in the summer. Now it looks like it might be the same old same old drought. I’ll have to stick to bigger rivers.
The bonus is that dry weather means great conditions for getting outdoors, at least this weekend (late next week could be a bit wet). As has been forecast by the Doppler 9000 Weather Squad over the last couple of days, it looks like hardly a cloud in the sky from today all the way through early Tuesday. High temps will warm from the upper 70s today into the low 80s Saturday and into the mid to upper 80s for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Some locations could even hit 90, making it one of the warmer periods of weather all year. The next chance of rain will arrive Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. A couple more storm systems could move through the state late next week or next weekend – perhaps alleviating the drought.
Another story today about the Arctic sea ice getting the the second lowest point recorded in the last 29 years. Another story seemingly cheering on the meltdown so that a new record will be set. Still, the unspoken aspect of this year’s sea ice extent is that it is greater than last year. Once I hear someone speculating as to why this year has more ice than last year and if this increasing trend will continue or not, then I will be a little more interested.
On the carbon cuts aspect of AGW we find once again that other countries so quick to commit to Kyoto carbon reductions (and savagely attack the U.S for not following suit) failing to meet their "legally" binding targets. Japan will have to boost its investment because it is currently falling short of green power production. In the EU, not only have they not met their targets, they are now talking about changing their regulations in order to potentially exempt heavy industries from carbon cuts. Economic ministers project that steel and auto manufacturers will go bankrupt under the strict carbon reductions. Most economists figured this out a long time ago. Unless the entire world agrees to cuts, the countries without restrictions will gain a lot more heavy industry and manufacturing activity. Corporations are global entities, even EU corporations. They will move wherever they can make a profit. That is what they do. Companies that do not make a profit go bankrupt. Rather than onerous regulation, I would rather see investment in new cleaner technology. Which brings me to:
Government investments and tax credits have been good for alternative energy but the business is also drawing in a lot of private investment. Nanosolar just garnered a massive 300 million dollar round of funding to expand production of their plants in San Jose and Berlin. Experts predict the market for thin film solar to increase from about a billion in 2008 to $3.3 billion in 2013. I think this projection is likely 2 or 3 times too low. Oil and gas prices will continue to rise and solar will look ever more attractive year over year. Technology is improving rapidly and 5 years is a long time. The thin film solar of today will be a shadow of what it will be in 5 years. Costs will continue to go down, even without government subsidies. Here is a more bullish prediction saying it will be possible to replace nearly all of U.S. fossil fuel usage with solar power by 2040. Here is a surprising little map showing 30 different solar installations either in operation or in development here in the U.S. I didn’t know there were so many.
Wind power is also looking for an expanding market – it could be worth 60.9 billion by 2013. While it is possible, wind does have a little more resistance as was discussed the last couple of days in the blog.
On a related note, it appears Mazda is working on a hybrid-electric vehicle similar to the Chevy Volt. Competition is good news for us consumers. I still can’t believe GM is working on the Volt 24/7. Why is it going to take 2 more years in order to get the Volt into the market? What are they doing with all those hours in a day? What are they doing today? Two years is a long time.
On another related note, a couple of Japanese shipping companies are installing solar panels on their large tankers. The solar panels will be used to generate electricity for the ship’s systems and could cut fossil fuel usage by as much as 6.5%.
Lastly, you can keep up to date on Gustav at the NHC website throughout the weekend. It still looks like it will hit somewhere along the Louisiana coast around Tuesday of next week.
Have a great holiday weekend! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
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This post was written by jloew on August 29, 2008