Seeing that Tony mentioned some of the effects of El Nino in yesterday’s blog, I figured I should mention that the latest El Nino/La Nina (ENSO) diagnostic discussion was released last week. Not to much has changed in the outlook. The computer models are still indicating a weak to moderate El Nino for this Fall and early Winter. Only one model (the JMA) is forecasting a strong El Nino. A weak El Nino has almost formed already, but many of the atmospheric conditions that go along with El Nino have not developed as of yet. If an El Nino forms, what we could most likely expect for the late Fall and early Winter is warmer than normal temperatures. An El Nino could be bad news for the Midwest as it typically means lower than normal precipitation during the Winter. Check out the computer model forecasts here. Not only could the weather be warmer and drier than normal across the Midwest and much of the U.S. this Winter (because of El Nino), it might be that way across the globe as well. The warmest year on record (according to most statistics anyway) was 1998 when we had a strong El Nino. La Nina has been proven to do the opposite as well – cool the globe.
And now a follow up to the electric car and battery developments of the past few years. A123 systems seemed like a rising star at one point and I blogged about the battery maker a few years ago. In the intervening years, it started to provide batteries for the Fisker brand of electric sports cars (the Fisker Karma) and it was supposed to provide batteries for the Volt, according to some news outlets. That probably is not going to happen. As I reported earlier this year A123 was having financial trouble. They were heading toward bankruptcy. It seems they are still in bad shape, as the only hope to keep them alive is a possible bailout from a Chinese company. It is kind-of strange, or ironic, or I am not really sure of the term, that A123 was touted and supported by the U.S. government and now it might come under the ownership of a Chinese company.
So what is GM to do? It looks like they are investing hope in a new battery maker – Envia. They are one of the financial backers of the battery company and held a press release about the new better lithium battery just recently. Kind-of old news for everyone who reads the blog. I mentioned Envia’s breakthrough already back in April. Of course, Envia’s product is not yet out of the lab, so GM could be in a bind for a year or two.
What about Fisker? They have on of the hottest hybrids on the market in the Karma. They might also have to shop around for a new battery supplier, or they might have trouble staying solvent. Unfortunately, another one of their sports cars went up in flames recently. I feel bad for the engineers who designed such a great car. Safety trouble could be a death knell for the already struggling car company.
In another follow up, it now appears the UN is also calling for a halt to grain ethanol production in the U.S. As I have written lately, I have my doubts as to the benefits of grain ethanol and the ethanol mandate for gasoline. This issue has been especially crystallized this year with the drought. Burning food while crops burn in the field, doesn’t make too much sense. With advanced and more efficient methods of gasoline production possibly coming online in the near future, ethanol might become and ever expensive option.
Have a nice Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.