Jack Dini

Jack Dini is author of Challenging Environmental Mythology. He has also written for American Council on Science and Health, Environment & Climate News, and Hawaii Reporter.

Most Recent Articles by Jack Dini:

Solar Industry Financial Woes

Dec 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

Solar Industry Financial Woes
Germany’s last remaining major solar manufacturer, Bonn-based Solarworld, earlier this year announced it would file for bankruptcy. Solarworld’s demise was the last in a spectacular series of solar manufacturer bankruptcies that swept across Germany over the past year, with names like Solon, Solar Millennium and Q-Cells going under. 1

Up to 100 solar PV firms in Japan could face bankruptcy this year, with more than double the number of firms going bust in the first half of the year than in the same period in 2016.2

EU Carbon Capture Project A Massive Financial Failure

Nov 20, 2017 — Jack Dini

EU Carbon Capture Project A Massive Financial Failure
Ten years ago EU leaders said that a technology called carbon capture and sequestration, also known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be deployed with new fossil-fuel power plants by 2020. 1

This technology supposedly would reduce the negative impact the extensive use of energy sources coal, oil and gas have on the earth’s climate.

Wind Energy Issues

Nov 9, 2017 — Jack Dini

Wind Energy Issues
The drumbeat for a fossil fuel free energy utopia continues. But few have pondered how we will supposedly generate 25 billion megawatts of total current global electricity demand using just renewable energy,  wind turbines, for instance. For starters, we’re talking about some 830 million gigantic 500 foot tall turbines requiring a land area of some 12.5 billion acres. That’s more than twice the size of North America, all the way through Central America reports Paul Driessen. 1

Spencer Morrison addresses two questions: 1- Are renewable energies making a difference, and 2- Are they sustainable?

Wind Speed Is Slowing Down

Nov 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

Wind Speed Is Slowing Down
Worldwide wind speeds have slowed down by about half a kilometer per hour (0.3 miles per hour) since the 1960s according to researchers. 31

The phenomenon is known as ‘stilling’, and scientists are not sure why it is happening. They speculate that it may have something to do with urbanization, climate change and cumulus clouds. But then researchers admit: “Or it could be due to aging wind speed instruments producing inaccurate results.”

Surprising Pollution From Trees

Oct 14, 2017 — Jack Dini

Forests have been called the lungs of the Earth because growing trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with oxygen. Planting trees is often touted as a strategy to make cities greener, cleaner and healthier.

However, there is some degree of pollution associated with trees.

Wood Burning Pollution

Oct 10, 2017 — Jack Dini

The use of wood for electricity generation and heat in modern technologies has grown rapidly in recent years. For its supporters, it represents a relatively cheap and flexible way of supplying renewable energy with benefits to global climate and to forest industries. For its critics, Duncan Brack adds this important observation, “Overall while some instances of biomass energy use may result in lower life-cycle emissions than fossil fuels, in most circumstances, comparing technologies of similar ages, the use of woody biomass for energy will release higher levels of emissions than coal and considerably higher levels than gas.” 1

Hockey Stick Revisited

Oct 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

The hockey stick is the nickname given to a temperature graph that became the central icon of the 2001 publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It purported to show that temperature had been roughly stable from the year 1000 AD until the 20th century—after which it began to shoot up dramatically. The flattish part of the line reminded people of the long handle of an ice hockey stick at rest, while the uptick resembled the blade, reports Donna Laframboise. 1

The 2001 graph profoundly influenced world energy and environmental policies. It has appeared in a variety of government documents and featured prominently in the documentary film version of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Notes On Tricky Use Of Math

Sep 29, 2017 — Jack Dini

A bat and ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Almost everyone who reads this question will have an immediate impulse to answer ‘10 cents.’ I surely did. As Dan Gardner says, “It just looks and feels right. And yet it’s wrong. It’s clearly wrong—if you give it some careful thought—and yet it is perfectly normal to stumble on this test. Almost everyone we ask reports an initial tendency to answer ‘ten cents,’ write psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Shane Frederick. Many people yield to this immediate impulse. People are often content to trust a plausible judgment that quickly comes to mind.” 1

Renewables and Electricity Prices

Sep 25, 2017 — Jack Dini

Wind energy is ‘free’ but countries with the most wind power are also the most likely to get to the top of the Prize Pool for exorbitant electricity prices. It’s not even close. South Australian households pay the highest power prices in the world at 47.13 cents per kilowatt hour, more than Germany, Denmark and Italy, countries also noted for high ‘free’ wind energy concentration reports Joanne Nova. (1)
The US pays 15.75 cents per kilowatt hour.

Could there be a message here?

Temperature Record Shenanigans

Sep 15, 2017 — Jack Dini

If you heard that a temperature record had been set, how long would you expect that temperature to hold: 1 hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes,1 minute? In 2008, Lin and Hubbard argued it should be 7 minutes, that even a 5 minute averaging was not long enough to avoid some warming bias in maximums and cooling bias in minimals. 1

No so in Australia! There the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) will write it in Australia’s record books even if the heat lasts one second, and if the temperature a minute before was more than a whole degree cooler. 2

Zinc- An Important Nutrient

Sep 1, 2017 — Jack Dini

You might know that zinc, element number 30 on the periodic table, is used for galvanizing iron and steel. Here are some things you might not know.

Zinc is ubiquitous in our bodies and facilitates many functions that are essential for preserving life. It plays a vital role in maintaining optimal childhood growth and in ensuring a healthy immune system. Zinc also helps limit inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies, which are associated with the onset of chronic cardiovascular diseases and cancers. 1

Concrete- Lots Of Activity

Aug 12, 2017 — Jack Dini

A single industry accounts for around 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. It produces a material so ubiquitous it is nearly invisible: cement. Cement is the primary ingredient in concrete, which in turn forms the foundations and structures of buildings we live and work in, and the roads and bridges we drive on. Concrete is the second most consumed substance on Earth after water. On average, each year, three tons of concrete are consumed by every person on the planet. Cement production is growing by 2.5% annually.* 1

China’s Drive For Global Resources

Jul 13, 2017 — Jack Dini

Across the globe, on nearly every continent, China is involved in a dizzying variety or resource extraction, energy, agricultural, and infrastructure projects—roads, railroads, hydro-power dams, mines—that are wrecking unprecedented damage to ecosystems and biodiversity reports, William Laurance. 1

It is difficult to find a corner of the developing world where China is not having a significant environmental impact. China is the world’s biggest financier and builder of hydroelectric dams, many of which are being constructed in biologically diverse regions where the dams and their associated roads and power lines will open up new lands for exploitation.

According to a major World Bank analysis of nearly 3,000 projects, Chinese foreign investors and companies often predominate in poorer nations with weak environmental regulations and controls, causing those nations to become ‘pollution havens’ for Chinese enterprises. 1

Coal Boom Worldwide

Jul 10, 2017 — Jack Dini

In a world where more than 1 billion people have no electricity and a much larger number live in deep energy poverty, only the fossil fuel industry has developed the ability to produce energy for electricity, fuel and heat for those in need. The politically popular alternatives, solar and wind, are expensive, unreliables that depend on reliable sources, mostly fossil fuels for life support reports Alex Epstein. 1

Overall, 1,600 coal plants are planned or are under construction in 62 countries. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent. The fleet of new coal plants would make it virtually impossible to meet the goals set in the Paris climate accord. 2

Leading the pack is China with 11 of the 20 biggest coal plant developers.

Even though China claimed to halt plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year as President Trump vowed to ‘bring back coal’ in America, the contrast seemed to confirm Beijing’s new role as a leader in the fight against climate change.

But new data on the world’s biggest developer of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade reports Hiroko Tabuchi. 2

Low Dose Radiation Revisited

Jul 6, 2017 — Jack Dini

Radiation is a natural process that is occurring at all times all around us. It is measured in units called millirems (mrems). The average person experiences a dose of about 620 mrems per year. International Standards consider exposure to as much as 5,000 mrems (5 rem) a year safe for those who work with and around radioactive material.

Most people assume all radioactive materials are dangerous, if not deadly. But a recent study on the radiation emitted by everyday objects highlights the fact that we interact with radioactive materials every day. 1

“We did this study understanding how much radiation comes off common household items to help place radiation readings in context—it puts things in perspective,” says Robert Hayes of North Carolina State University. “If people understand what trace levels of radiation mean, that understanding may help prevent panic.” (2)

Questioning Recycling Of Wind Turbine Blades

Jun 28, 2017 — Jack Dini

Although wind power achieved just 0.39% of the world’s total energy consumption as of 2013, it is assumed that a rapid expansion of wind power will ultimately be environmentally advantageous both due to its reputation as a ‘clean’ energy and because of the potential to contribute to reduced CO2 emissions.1

Besides reducing wildlife populations, perhaps one of the most underrated negative side effects of building wind turbines is that they don’t last very long before they need to be replaced.

The blades, made with composites, are currently regarded as unrecyclable. With the first wave of early commercial wind turbine installations now approaching their end of life, the problem of blade disposal is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future.

Scientific Expeditions Get Stuck in Arctic and Antarctic Ice

Jun 25, 2017 — Jack Dini

The science team of Canadian Research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen involving 40 scientists, five universities and $17 million in taxpayer funding to study climate change canceled the first leg of the 2017 Arctic expedition due to extreme ice condition in the south. This meant the ship would arrive too late on site to meet research objectives.

The decision to terminate the 2017 program has significant impacts on partners and the large number of graduate students involved.

Our Sense Of Smell Is Better Than Originally Thought

Jun 20, 2017 — Jack Dini

Biology textbooks are riddled with passages relating how bad humans are at perceiving odors. As the oft-quoted statistic goes, humans can only perceive ‘10,000 odors’, a number that sits particularly well with some dog-lovers, who like to remind us that canines have 300 million odor receptors, while humans only sport 6 million. But a study in 2014 revealed that humans might not be as olfactorily challenged as we once thought because, as it turns out, we can perceive more than 1 trillion odors—and that’s a conservative estimate. 1

The original belief that humans’ sense of smell is worse than that of other animals—dogs, mice, moles and even sharks was based on a 19th century hypothesis about free will that has more in common with phrenology than with our modern understanding of how brains work. John McGann, a neuroscientist who studies olfaction at Rutgers University, recently revealed how we ended up with this myth. The truth is humans are actually pretty good at smelling our world. 2

Questioning Carbon Accounting For Lakes And Rivers

May 24, 2017 — Jack Dini

People are willing to set up a two trillion dollar global market to read carbon, but their carbon models are so primitive that giant ‘oops’ moments are now happening on a regular basis reports Joanne Nova. 1

A Yale-led study in 2015 estimated that there are more than 3 trillion trees on Earth, about seven and a half times more than some previous estimates. Previously, the only global estimate was just over 400 billion trees worldwide, or about 61 trees for every person on Earth. The Yale study used a combination of appaoiches to reveal that there are 3 trillion trees—roughly 422 trees per person. 2

Productive Energy Workers Are In Coal And Natural Gas, Not Solar

May 17, 2017 — Jack Dini

Last year, the solar industry employed more Americans (373,807) than coal (160,119), while wind power topped 100,000 jobs.

However, by reporting that the solar industry employs lots of Americans, more than twice as many as the number of coal miners and utility workers at electric power plants using coal, is only telling a small part of of the story reports Mark Perry. 1

To start, despite a huge workforce of almost 400,000 solar workers, that sector produced an insignificant share, less than 1 percent of the electric power generated in the United States last year.