2011 in a nutshell : my selection of essential posts

With some delay I would like to propose you today my selection of the most important news of 2011. As I wrote close to 250 articles, selecting only 25 proved to be difficult.

I have mixed topics so you will find stuff on climate change, cleantech, environmental issues and sustainable development. I have also mixed personal reflections with news and book reviews.

If you think that I have missed something out or have a more personal selection, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments ! I look forward to read your own selection.

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Why continuing the Kyoto Protocol is crucial

To TreeHugger : ” If (the) Kyoto Protocol dies at COP17 climate talks, so does our climate “. This article reminds us that the next round of UNFCC climate talks will start in less than two months in Durban, South Africa.

It also reminds us that it is the only law we have on a global level on climate and that even if the United States are still not part of the process it is working (quite) well as developed nations decreased their emissions since 1990.

Due to end in 2012, the Kyoto Protocol might not be perfect but really got us moving on climate and energy issues.

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A must-read reflection on climate by The Onion

To TreeHugger : ” Leave it to the nation’s premier fake newspaper to pen the best real article on climate change I’ve read in weeks.”. Similar opinions have come from Andrew Revkin in the New York Times and Grist. Having read the full article, I can say it is indeed a fantastic reflection showing that … Read more

Peak coal to occur in 2027

In a bit more than 15 little years, the entire world may face declining coal production. This was the subject of a post on The Oil Drum. This is a huge problem as to date it accounts for 41 percent of the world’s electricity (IEA 2010). ” World coal production is dominated by China. China’s … Read more

Energy sobriety: Japan shows the example

Further to the Fukushima catastrophe in March, Japan has been decreasing in a massive way its electricity consumption. Indeed, only 17 nuclear reactors are bringing power to the grids out of the 54 existing ones. As the New York Times notes :

” Preliminary figures indicate that regions under conservation mandates have been able to meet reduction targets and even exceed them, providing a possible model of conservation’s potential when concerns about global warming are mounting. “

” In the Tokyo area, the government is pushing to cut electricity use by 15 percent between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays to prevent blackouts – and on Thursday, that target was met compared with last year.”

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Is liquefied coal really what we need ?

An article from Cleantechies pointed out that according to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) liquefied coal may become an economically viable fuel option by 2015. Further to this, I left a comment :

” Just as we are thinking about solving the climate/energy equation by ditching coal, some are willing to put it in our car tanks… Shouldn’t we concentrate on REAL alternatives instead ? Ones that actually cut our emissions and pollutions ? ”

” It’s not as if the climate was getting weirder and weirder and it is not as if coal cost half a trillion to the USA each year in externalities… What about peak coal ? “

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Is peak coal already threatening China ?

To the New York Times green blog : ” China’s ravenous appetite for energy puts the country at risk of reaching a point of  “peak coal,” when demand for coal will outstrip domestic production capacity, a growing number of experts believe.”

China now consumes approximately 47 percent of coal produced globally but by most estimates has just 14 percent of global coal reserves. Meanwhile, demand has risen by about 10 percent per year for the last decade “

China is already the world’s first energy consumer and greenhouse gases emitter. Reading these figures you wonder where  it will stop.

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Will peak coal really occur next year ?

The topic of peak coal is not entirely new as I wrote previously twice about it. What is entirely new is the date. To research carried by Tadeusz W. Patzek and Gregory D. Croft coal production from existing coalfields could peak as early as next year.

But this is not all as still to their report production from existing coalfields is expected to fall by 50 percent by 2050. Such news need to be spread among our leaders so action can occur.

We can live without coal – and oil for that matter – if we prepare ourselves early enough. Indeed, there are plenty of alternatives.

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Could peak coal occur as soon as 2025 ?

coal-fired-plantI wrote recently that  global coal reserves may be overestimated. At the time, the data I was quoting noted that coal reserves could be overestimated by 23 %. Now a new study show that coal supply could start decreasing by as early as 2025.

With peak oil also due to occur in the very next years our two main energy sources will soon be depleted. Solution have to be implemented quickly to prevent the worse from occurring.

Coal is a critical resource as many countries like China, India, the United States, many Eastern European nations or Germany get more than half of their electricity from it.

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Overestimated global coal reserves

coal-fired-plan02tAccording to recent studies global coal reserves may be much smaller than previously thought. Indeed, estimates are now of 662 billion tons instead of 850 billion tons.

That’s 23 percent smaller. So, what occurred with estimates of remaining oil is also true here : countries overestimated their coal reserves and peak coal is nearer than expected.

Coal accounts for more than a fifth of our primary energy sources. With smaller reserves, this makes it even more urgent to switch to alternatives.

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