Floods in Africa, Droughts and Wild Fires in Australia

Guardian graphic. Source: The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Global heating supercharging Indian Ocean climate system
The Guardian, 11/19/2019

Global heating is “supercharging” an increasingly dangerous climate mechanism in the Indian Ocean that has played a role in disasters this year including bushfires in Australia and floods in Africa.

It is similar to El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific, which cause sharp changes in weather patterns on both sides of the ocean.

Recent research suggests ocean heat has risen dramatically over the past decade, leading to the potential for warming water in the Indian Ocean to affect the Indian monsoon, one of the most important climate patterns in the world.

“There has been research suggesting that Indian Ocean dipole events have become more common with the warming in the last 50 years, with climate models suggesting a tendency for such events to become more frequent and becoming stronger,” Ummenhofer said.

She said warming appeared to be “supercharging” mechanisms already existing in the background. “The Indian Ocean is particularly sensitive to a warming world. It is the canary in the coalmine seeing big changes before others come to other tropical ocean areas.”

This is our future. The world is either on fire, or under water.

Ford’s new Mach E Mustang SUV looks appealing

Ford Wants to Sell You an Electric S.U.V. It’s Called a Mustang.
New York Times, 11/17/2020

Ford Motor’s latest offering seems like an oxymoron twice over: It’s a sport utility vehicle that’s electric … that’s a Mustang.

It’s also Detroit’s biggest bet yet on a mass-market future for battery-powered cars.

The big automakers have been producing hybrid and fully electric vehicles for years. But almost all have been smaller models that found limited demand. Even the manufacturers often referred to them as “compliance cars” — built to help meet environmental regulations while they mainly turned out big internal-combustion vehicles that sold well and made hefty profits.

Purists will probably complain about the looks, and I guess they have a point. The Mustang has always been know for its distinctive and sleeks lines, and the decision to shoehorn an SUV into a Mustang could be divisive, but it is keeping with Ford’s decision to switch away from “family cars” to SUVs and trucks.

Pricing and performance seems tailored to parallel the upcoming Tesla Model Y in price and performance, though it comes up short on range in its high end trim, and is 6 cubic feet shy on cargo space on all trims.

Also, Ford gets to have a celebrity spokesman, which Tesla, so far, does not, and he comes in the form of Idris Elba, which is certainly better (and less creepy) than Matthew McConnaughey.

Prices for the new EV range from $43K to $60K and you can reserve one now for $500 (refundable), though they will not be shipping until about this time next year (for the high end models), and sometime in 2021 for the cheaper models. One thing that Ford does have helping its efforts is that the $7500 federal tax credit (and some state credits) are still available. Tesla’s remaining $1875 credit expires at years end, and GM’s in April 2020. Ford, having only sold about seven of its Ford Focus EVs has a ways to go.

One caveat I see after reviewing the Ford web site is that a number of the specs like range and performance are not firm, but a “target” spec. Which means, “Here’s what we hope it does when it comes out”, which I have to say

And that will be, to use the hoary cliche, “where the rubber meets the road”. Will Ford hit that ship date? Probably, since they are a “big auto” company and are supposed to be able to mass produce cars on time. And will they be mass produced, and available nationwide, and will dealers actually sell a product that will be less profitable to dealerships going forward?

Stay tuned.

Musk sends Tesla

Tesla Is Sending Battery Packs to Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico
Bloomberg News

Tesla Inc. is sending to Puerto Rico hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels in an effort to help the battered island territory restore electric power, the company said Thursday. Some of the systems are already there and others are en route.

The equipment is sorely needed, since the island remains largely without electricity more than a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20. The company has employees on the ground to install them and is working with local organizations to identify locations.

Apparently, that S.O.S. paid off. I note from the article that Musk moved faster than the U.S. government in dispatching equipment and trained techs to coordinate with locals on which arrays to get up first.

Wind & Solar Exceed Expectations, Again…

Wind power costs could drop 50%. Solar PV could provide up to 50% of global power. Damn.

Solar and wind energy have been underestimated by analysts and politicians again and again and again. They have gotten cheaper and scaled up faster than even the most optimistic forecasts of a decade ago, or even a few years ago.

And there’s good evidence we’re still underestimating them. In fact, two new reports — one on solar, one on wind — make the point vividly. They argue that the radical trends of the last decade are going to continue, which is all that needs to happen for the energy system to tip over from disruption into revolution.

Lots of charts and graphs in this article you need to see, so go read the article.

Bottom line: The costs of solar/wind continues to drop, as market penetration gets deeper

Cummins unveils e-Semi concept truck with 100 mile range

Besting Tesla’s Reveal By Just Days, Cummins Unveils AEOS Electric Semi

Cummins revealed from its historic technical center in Columbus, Indiana, a fully electric class 7 demonstration Urban Hauler Tractor as a step in its earlier announced electrification movement.

The vehicle is equipped with a 140 kWh battery for 100 miles (160 km) of electric range, but up to 300 miles is possible with additional battery packs. Tesla’s upcoming semi is also believed to have range of 200 to 300 miles. It’s reveal is set for late September, which means Cummins is ahead in the electric semi race.

Optionally, a range extender (Cummins B4.5 or B6.7 engines) will be made available for even longer ranges.

I would note that Cummins does not make trucks, only diesel engines for trucks. The truck was made for it using a Cummins’ designed drivetrain. 100 miles is not useful for anything beyond intracity deliveries, but that is certainly a niche area that would save money and reduce pollution.

They have upstaged Tesla’s planned reveal of the electric semi on September 6, but then rumor has it the Tesla models will have 2-3 times the range, making it useful for intrastate transport.

Stay tuned.