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Is the Rockefeller family really getting out of oil?

Jon ExcellImage: Jon Excell - September 24th, 2014 - Jon Excell

There’s no doubt that the decision by the $860 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund to reinvest its fossil fuel money in clean energy represents a pretty symbolic moment.

John D Rockefeller – who founded Standard Oil in 1870  – is one of the towering figures; some would argue the father, of the international oil industry. So the news that a charitable fund bearing his name is turning its back on the stuff that made the family fortune was always going to raise a few eyebrows.


Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels


Stephen Heintz, left, with Valerie Rockefeller Wayne and Steven Rockefeller on Tuesday.
Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times - by John Schwartz - September 21, 2014

John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels.

Is China Finally Kicking Its Coal Addiction?

The first half of 2014 saw China's first decline in total coal consumption in over a decade.Image: The first half of 2014 saw China's first decline in total coal consumption in over a decade. - September 12th, 2014 - Matt Sheehan

It may be difficult to see through the putrid smog, but major changes appear to be taking shape in China’s coal industry. So far this year, Chinese coal consumption has hit two major milestones: Coal consumption through June and coal imports through August both dropped for the first time in over a decade.

Environmental activists aren't yet popping the Champagne, but taken together, these data points suggest that market forces and government mandates are causing China's decadelong coal binge to finally peak and potentially sputter.


World Council Of Churches Divests From Fossil Fuels - August 29th, 2014 - Yasmine Hafiz

The World Council of Churches, which represents over 500 million Christians in more than 110 countries, has decided to divest from fossil fuels, reports The Guardian.

The WCC Central Committee, which includes religious leaders from around the world, voted to include fossil fuel companies in the sectors that WCC will not invest in on ethical grounds, according to a statement from, an international enviromental campaign.

A report from the WCC's finance policy committee simply states, "The committee discussed the ethical investment criteria, and considered that the list of sectors in which the WCC does not invest should be extended to include fossil fuels."


Are electricity-eating bacteria the next big thing in green fuel?

By Michael Keller - Published August 20, 2014
Editor's Note: This story is republished with permission from Txchnologist, a digital magazine that follows innovation in science and technology.

There's a large and growing list of renewable energy projects pumping out cleaner electricity these days. Photovoltaic panels produce direct current and solar concentrators drive steam turbines using sunlight. Wind turbines churning out megawatts of power dot the landscape of many countries. Other projects are looking to light communities through tides, running rivers and even the heat of the Earth.

Fracking Waste Disposal Fuels Opposition in U.S. and Abroad

In England, the government approved the injection of a million and a half gallons of potentially radioactive water under the North Moors National Park. Photo credit: SpinwatchAnastasia Pantsios | August 14, 2014 11:50 am

Spinwatch’s Andy Rowell reports:

The commercial success of the Ebberston Moor field depends on Third Energy being allowed to re-inject the potentially radioactive water that is produced with the gas back into what is known as the Sherwood Sandstone formation, which overlies the limestone where the gas will be extracted from. The sandstone lies 1400 metres below the ground. Notes of a meeting between Third Energy and the regulator involved, the Environment Agency, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), reveals that “the success of the Ebberston Moor Field is dependent on the disposal of [produced] water to the Sherman Sandstone.”

Electromagnetic Disaster Could Cost Trillions and Affect Millions. We Need to Be Prepared


Roasted by a pulse. Credit: arbyreed, CC BY-NC-SA - by Anders Sandberg - August 12, 2014

In 1962, a high-altitude Pacific nuclear test caused electrical damage 1,400 km away in Hawaii. A powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP) – created either by a solar storm or a high-altitude nuclear explosion — poses a threat to regions dependent on electricity, as such pulses could cause outages lasting from two weeks to two years. The main problem is the availability of spare transformers. Superstorm Sandy’s worst effects were in a single location. In the case of a big EMP surge, replacement transformers would be needed in hundreds of locations at the same time. The cost of an EMP pulse to the U.S. economy would likely be in the range of $500 million to $2.6 trillion. A report by the U.S. National Academies was even more pessimistic, guessing at a higher range and a multi-year recovery. Besides disrupting electricity such storms can also destroy satellites, disrupt GPS navigation, and make other parts of the infrastructure fail.

China plans to ban coal use in Beijing by 2020

Chinese workers level coal to be used for generating electricity on a freight train at a railway station in Jiujiang city on June 16, 2014. Imaginechina via AP Images

Image: Chinese workers level coal to be used for generating electricity on a freight train at a railway station in Jiujiang city on June 16, 2014. Imaginechina via AP Images - August 5th, 2014

China has announced plans to ban the use of coal in its smog-plagued capital by the end of 2020, as the country fights deadly levels of pollution, especially in major cities.

Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau posted the plan on its website on Monday, saying the city would instead prioritize electricity and natural gas for heating.

The Chinese central government recently listed environmental protection as one of the top criteria by which leaders will be judged.


The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard

The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranks the world's largest economies on their energy efficiency policies and programs. The rankings include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

Thirty-one different energy efficiency indicators have been analyzed for each economy ranked in the report. The rankings are determined by scoring out of 100 possible points. Points can be earned in four different categories, including buildings, industry, transportation, and national effort, which measures overall or cross-cutting indicators of energy use at the national level.


Clean Power, Off the Grid

Image: Eleni Kalorkoti - by David J. Hayes - July 17, 2014

STANFORD, Calif. — AFTER years of hype, renewable energy has gone mainstream in much of the United States and, increasingly, around the world. . .

. . . But many communities that need small-scale renewable energy remain out in the cold — literally and figuratively.

In Alaska, for instance, the vast majority of the more than 200 small, isolated communities populated primarily by native Alaskans rely on dirty, expensive diesel fuel to generate their electricity and heat.



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