The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg


Get out the popcorn, ye Northerners. Mother Nature is about to put on a show.

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights. They should be visible in the northern plains, the Pacific Northwest and northern New England.

For the best views, avoid city lights and hope the skies are clear. Light from the waning Supermoon may also interfere. The lights may be visible as soon as the skies are dark and clear, but the best time to watch will be around midnight in each time zone. Here's an AccuWeather map of the viewing area:

The storm is rated G3 on a five-point scale -- the biggest in more than a year. The two solar eruptions responsible for tonight's show forced some flights to be rerouted. GPS systems and radio transmissions may also be degraded through tomorrow. For more about the business impacts, click here.

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Bloomberg BNA -- President Barack Obama's record in Appalachian and coal mining communities is up for debate five years after his administration took “unprecedented steps” to protect the environment from the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Interior Department signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2009 to minimize the impacts of mining to the environment and water within Appalachia. The agencies were to tighten oversight of mining operations, coordinate permit application reviews, encourage public participation in federal policies and limit immediate environmental damage, the memorandum said.

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Good morning! Here are today's top reads:

  • Why Musk is building batteries in a desert when no one is buying (Bloomberg)
  • Fracking workers exposed to dangerous amounts of benzene, study says (LA Times)
  • These floating islands are made of trash that normally clogs the oceans (Fast Company)
  • New EU energy and climate commissioner 'must drop oil shares' (Guardian)
  • Rotten food ‘Wikipedia’ fights China’s fake meat (Bloomberg)
  • Drowned tropical forests exacerbate climate change (Scientific American)
  • The awful reign of red delicious (CityLab)
  • Are global companies weighing a future without utilities (GreenBiz)
  • The good and bad climate news from permafrost melt (Climate Central)
  • Aquifer is no quick fix for Central Texas thirst (NY Times)

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Tesla Motors

Tesla’s planned 5-million-square-foot ‘gigafactory’ wouldn’t just be the biggest battery factory in the world. It would be one of the biggest factories in the world, period. But hours before CEO Elon Musk took the podium last week to tout the $5 billion facility came August sales numbers for electric vehicles and a spate of news stories about how U.S. interest for electric cars has stalled.

So what gives? Why would Tesla build capacity for half a million car batteries a year if no one is buying? Four charts below tell the story.

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Bloomberg BNA -- BASF SE is close to concluding a three-year review of its sustainability, and the findings will influence acquisitions at the world's largest chemical maker as well as mark changes to its current business.

Product applications that fail to meet economic, social and environmental criteria such as impact on the climate or water use will be put on an improvement plan or discontinued, Dirk Voeste, head of sustainability strategy, said in an interview at BASF's headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Any potential acquisition targets will be examined for sustainability as part of the selection process.

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Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • Glacial death watch: Why an ice shelf snapped in 2002 and what's coming next (Bloomberg)
  • A major accounting firm just ran the numbers on climate change (City Lab)
  • Peru investigates the killing of an environmental advocate (NY Times)
  • To use less oil, we need to think about cars as software platforms (Fast Company)
  • California’s water-starved farmers stymied by fish protections (Bloomberg)
  • Tropical forests illegally destroyed for commercial agriculture (Guardian)
  • Amazon rainforest destruction in Brazil rises again (BBC)
  • Ordinary people play hidden role in studying climate change (Scientific American)
  • California plans nation's most detailed sea level rise database (Climate Central)
  • How drones are emerging as a valuable conservation tool (GreenBiz)

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Collapse of the Larsen-B Ice Shelf

Like Cape Fear or Starvation Lake, a place called Scar Inlet might be a good setting for … the perfect murder.

Unfortunately for aspiring homicidal maniacs, the population of Scar Inlet is zero, so this 900-square-mile ice cube on the northernmost finger of the Antarctic Peninsula will have to serve as the site of another kind of vanishing.

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Chemicals and Crystals: Today's Top Reads

Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • Researcher fights boss, loses $10 and flips 150 years of science (Bloomberg)
  • The International Space Station's new climate mission (Climate Central)
  • Will cutting carbon emissions save the U.K. money? (Guardian)
  • Lawmaker: Regulators' oil-train safety push could be climate-change policy in disguise (National Journal)
  • Japan takes another step toward restarting nuclear power plants (Bloomberg)
  • Hopes for a strong El Nino fade in California (NY Times)
  • Safety is primary focus in GM's driverless vehicle announcement (Scientific American)
  • American farms are in jeopardy- because of inefficient rail service (CityLab)
  • Mussels don't stick around in acidic ocean water (Daily Climate)
  • These images show the tiny amount of metal that comes from Earth-destroying mines (Fast Company)

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Warming May Threaten 314 Bird Species By 2080: Audubon Society

Bloomberg BNA -- More than half of the bird species found in North America are likely to be threatened by climate change by 2080, according to a study released Sept. 9 by the National Audubon Society.

The study, which looked at 588 North American bird species, found that by 2080, 314 species could lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range, which is the area where suitable climate conditions exist for that species. Of those species, 126 are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050.

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Bloomberg BNA -- The Environmental Protection Agency has no proof that a key pollution prevention program has cut U.S. use of hazardous materials as claimed, the agency's inspector general said in a report.

The agency also can't claim the EPA's pollution prevention program is cost effective because the program doesn't measure cost-effectiveness, the inspector general said in the report released Sept. 9.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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