Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Weekend Random Stories

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  • NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory is running into technical problems and cost over-runs. Currently, it’s scheduled for a 2009 launch. I don’t think either issues is something to be worried about. Technical problems always crop up during a developmental phase. They’ll continue to appear during an operational phase. That’s why scientists and engineers are employed: to take care of things like a heat shield that needs to be redesigned. Added costs? They’re around $20 million, which isn’t much when the project was budgeted for $1.8 billion. Now, maybe those numbers are a little too high. But I think we’ll get considerably more out of that $1.8B than we do from spending a similar amount to occupy Iraq.
  • A good story showed up in today’s Denver Post. Counter to the pro-fossil fuel stance, it turns out that once renewable energy companies are established, they have a tendency to attract similar busineses to an area. Vestas, the Danish turbine-maker, is going to open a plant near Windsor this week. Vestas is the world’s largest wind-energy manufacturer. As such, a number of firms that will serve as vendors to the Windsor plant are looking to establish locations near the Windsor plant. That means more good paying jobs in the region.

The article goes on to mention that the plant was supposed to employ 400 workers on four production lines. It turns out that that projection is wrong. Instead, 650 workers on six production lines will be needed due to growth in demand in the wind turbine market. Wait, wait, wait. Conservatives wail that renewable energy will hurt the economy and cause job losses. An extra 250 workers will earn an average of $37,000 per year than originally planned in an area of the state that could use some more good paying jobs. And that’s just the beginning. Research continues on turbine efficiency, requiring highly educated personnel who also command good salaries. If only the companies had CEOs pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars per year, the story would likely rank as a success in conservative circles.

The culprit behind all of this do-gooder news? Voters in 2004 who passed an alternative-energy mandate and then in 2006 elected Gov. Bill Ritter. Ritter actually has a plan for renewable energy development as part of a New Energy Economy. Pat each other on the backs if you were forward-looking enough to recognize the opportunities that are beginning to manifest themselves. If you didn’t like Amendment 37 or Ritter, please continue to howl about renewables into your obscurity.

  • Disappearing ice in the Arctic has been attributed to global warming.  Now, Inupiat Eskimos are suing nine oil companies, 14 electric-power companies and one coal company to pay to move their village, which is under siege by waves of the frigid ocean, once blocked by Arctic ice.

If nothing else, the case should build a factual record.  Fossil fuel corporations have engaged in the largest disinformation campaign since the tobacco industry in the mid-1900’s.  Unfortunately, this won’t be the last suit.  Will the record be established in time to do something to save not only the Inupiat, but millions of others now at risk to rising sea levels?

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