Another Hot Topic, skiing’s future, batteries, kites, u.s.w.

There’s another Hot Topic on the bookshelves – not in NZ, but in the UK. Sir David King, the sometimes controversial scientific adviser to Tony Blair has (with Gabrielle Walker) penned The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights On. Reviews in The Times and The Guardian. It will no doubt make its way over here eventually.

[Much more below the fold]

AlterNet has a good article on North American ski resorts responses to climate change in Ski Resorts Are Reinventing Themselves in the Face of Global Warming, and Planet Ark provides the perspective from Switzerland. Adapting to less snow is already happening – and it means looking to increase summer income.

The Economist delves into biofuels and their possible impact on British agriculture, and Andy Revkin at the New York Times blogs Richard Branson’s jumbo biofuel gamble.

Norway is putting in place the policies designed to make it carbon neutral by 2030 [Economist, Guardian]. Most interestingly from the perspective of those working on NZ’s carbon neutral ambitions, The Economist reports: “Overall, the agreement calls for around two-thirds of the total reduction in the country’s emissions to be made nationally, with the remainder to be achieved through the trading of emissions quotas and through investment in “clean” energy projects abroad, as allowed under the existing Kyoto Protocol.

According to NASA’s GISS global temperature dataset, 2007 was tied (with 1998) as the second warmest year on record after 2005 [Science Daily]. The Hadley Centre in the UK estimates that 2007 will be the seventh warmest, behind 1998, and notes that the 11 warmest years have occurred in the last 13. Not much sign that “global warming stopped in 1998”, whatever the cranks might like to claim.

Battery technology looks to be advancing in leaps and bounds – and big improvements might be reaching the market soon. Technology Review reports that EEStor in the US, which is developing ultracapacitors based on a barium titanate ceramic has signed a deal with Lockheed Martin for defence use, and expects to deliver batteries to its car partner later this year. The batteries offer “ten times the energy density of lead-acid batteries at one-tenth the weight and volume. The company also claims that its system allows rapid and virtually unlimited charging and discharging without significant degradation of the unit.” Meanwhile, the CSIRO in Australia reports that their UltraBattery design, which marries an ultracapacitor (for rapid energy discharge and charge) to a conventional lead acid battery (for capacity) has sailed through 100,000 miles of testing in a hybrid vehicle.

There’s more coverage of the Beluga sea-going kite trial at the Herald and the Daily Telegraph [UK]. The latter’s worth a visit for the excellent graphic (click to enlarge).

The Economist (having a very good week) provides an overview of the politics of Europe’s attempts to refine its carbon reduction policies, and how the US might learn from their mistakes. And a wet week in Britain – more floods – leads to floating house envy. I can just see one of those in the Viaduct Basin… might not be able to afford one, though. I think I’ll stick to the Hills.

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