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    Ranae Hanson book launch zoom May 18th 7pm

    Gerry Snyder’s article on hydrogen uses TimberJay 4/23/2021

    ALL OUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET         Gerry Snyder

     April 23rd 2021      Published in the TimberJay, Ely MN

    The New York Times headlines declared, “Auto Industry Bets its Future on Batteries.’ The newspaper could have accurately said, “The Biden Administration Bets its Future on Batteries.” According to recent reports, the Administration’s multi-trillion dollar proposed infrastructure bill has extensive incentives for consumers and manufacturers to market battery-powered forms of transportation. Has the administration given consideration of the danger of having our transport system dependent on a national electricity grid? Has it considered the detrimental impact on our environment? Has it considered the possible increase in unemployment? Has it considered the impact on our military logistics? Has it realistically considered alternative power sources?


    Encouraged by the Administration, manufacturers are taking action to convert their power products from using fossil fuels to plug-in electricity power. This massive transfer of energy requirement will be solely dependent on our national electric grid network. The system will need upgrading and significant additional power plant capacity to supply electricity to the 250 million vehicles (re NYT) in the U.S. plus trucks, buses, trains, equipment for farming, mining, road building and industrial operations.

    The grid system will always be vulnerable to breakdowns in part or in whole due to severe weather conditions, equipment failure, or sabotage which will expose a large number of people to a variety of risks when not if, blackouts occur. When a large area of the country is blacked out for a few days or more, cars, buses, ambulances, fire equipment, delivery trucks, heavy equipment will be helpful only to the extent of what electricity is left from their last battery charge. The half million new charging stations which the legislation proposes (almost four times the present number of U.S. gas stations) will not have electricity to recharge their batteries in those areas of a blackout.

    The United States should not put all of its “eggs” in one basket i.e., transportation, lighting, heating and electric power systems all of which would depend on the grid.


    Hydrogen fuel power is a viable alternative to the overloading of the national electrical grid and appears to get only token funding from the legislation. Its viability is not a theory. It is a reality. California already has 7,500 hydrogen vehicles on the road. Other applications of hydrogen power are in use or in testing stage for school and municipal buses, trucks of all sizes, light and heavy equipment, trains, and ships. The Economist reported that Airbus anticipates new large passenger jets will be powered by hydrogen fuel. Stationary hydrogen fuel power is used for buildings and factories.

    Hydrogen is limitless. It is the most abundant resource in the universe. Hydrogen cells can store immense amounts of energy, far more than today’s batteries can hold and it’s scalable. Proton exchange electrolysis can economically separate water into hydrogen and oxygen and it does not emit harmful emissions, Green hydrogen is developed using renewable power sources such as wind, solar, hydro power and geothermal to produce green hydrogen.

    Saudi Arabia is building a huge green hydrogen plant on the banks of the Red Sea. The plant will be powered solely by wind and solar to make green fuel for export and reduce its country’s dependence on petrodollars. The plant will operate without polluting.


    The raw materials for batteries include components that are mined from the earth and require a smelting process to extract metals. The process uses heat and a chemical reducing agent to decompose the one and leave the metal. Smelting has serious detrimental effects on the environment, producing wastewater, slag and vapors discharged into the atmosphere. The gases released are from copper, silver, iron, cobalt, selenium and sulfur. The impact of these detrimental emissions is of worldwide concern, not just local. All the venting becomes part of the Earth’s canopy of greenhouse gases.

    The manufacturing of batteries is dependent on minerals primarily mined in China, and consequently, is subject to the vicissitudes of trade uncertainties. Since the electrical energy in batteries continuously deteriorate, it limits the ability to stockpile them which is a critical concern for military preparedness. Moreover, “dead” batteries are not fully recyclable. Charging batteries can take a long time, sometimes longer than an hour depending on the “level of the charging rate and cannot be serviced in gasoline stations due to lack of space. So, the proposed legislation plan is to financially support an estimated half million charging stations. (That is almost four times the present number of gas stations. The country’s total proposed charging stations will require a minimum of one million acres of concrete or asphalt to accommodate cars plus buses, RVs, and trucks many of which will have large batteries requiring increased time in the charging stations to recharge their batteries. Batteries are heavy and can weigh as much as 12,000 to 15,000 pounds for a long-haul Class 8 truck representing a lot of environmental degradation.

    Batteries generally have shorter driving range than hydrogen fuels and performance is affected by extreme temperature changes. Their capacity deteriorates over varying periods of time whether the battery is used or not.


    A fuel cell system running on hydrogen is compact and having no major moving parts or combustion, results in an extremely high reliability and experiences little or no downtime. Hydrogen fuel does not emit harmful pollution, zero, only pure water vapor.

    In addition to supplying power to transportation components, hydrogen facilities can “store” its electricity in a tank, unlike storing wind and solar energy that accommodate peak demands using mega batteries. Battery power degrades over time whether or not the battery is being used. In addition, battery performance is further eroded when subjected to severe weather changes and has a terminal life.


    Bulk hydrogen can be transported by trucks, ships, rail or pipelines, according to The Wall Street Journal (which is important for military usage.) The United States has three million miles of pipelines some of which can be retrofitted to carry hydrogen. With expectation of a decline of fossil fuels, pipeline companies would welcome an alternative. With 128,000 gas retail service stations looking to replace declining gasoline consumption, hydrogen dispensing pumps could be substituted. This hydrogen will have storage tanks to meet their regular service needs and the pumps can be operated by hydrogen in periods of blackouts. The pumps are about the same size as the current gasoline pumps and take the same amount or time to fill a tank as gasoline.


    Hydrogen is contained in liquid form in thick-walled tanks. According to auto manufacturer BMW, “Hydrogen is flammable, but an uncontrolled reaction of hydrogen and oxygen in the operation of a fuel is virtually impossible. Numerous crash tests have confirmed the safety of hydrogen cars. We should not forget hydrogen technology is not new but is tried and tested in a range of fields. Hydrogen pipelines and storage facilities have been in operation for decades.” Other car manufacturers that have hydrogen test cars on the road, not in the lab, are Toyota, Renault, Honda, Mercedes and Hyundai.


    Hydrogen fuel cell cars produce electricity themselves. In essence, they have their efficient power plant and electric motor on board. The fuel cell technology is reverse electrolysis by which the hydrogen from vehicles tanks reacts with oxygen coming from an ambient air intake to create electrical energy. The energy is transferred by electric wire to an electric motor that powers the wheels. The only emission takes the form of pure water vapor. The vehicles can also recapture braking energy which converts into electrical energy.

    The bottom line is that it appears that the Biden Administration is allocating a disproportion of its resources to battery driven transportation to the deterrent of the advantages of hydrogen transportation and does not address the issue of the major increased dependence on the national grid.


    1. The United States should not be entirely dependent on our national electric grid with no alternative form of energy.
    2.  Hydrogen electricity should be developed.
    3. The 128,000 gasoline stations will be deprived of their prime source of revenue, creating unemployment and triggering bankruptcies.
    4. If the national grid is partly or entirely shut down, the lack of electricity after local batteries die may cause civil unrest.
    5. The United States military cannot stockpile batteries because their energy deteriorates over time and the uncertainties of China being the predominate source of raw materials for manufacturing batteries
    6. The mining of raw materials batteries is detrimental to our world’s environment.

    Gerry Snyder
    Ely, MN


    Elton Brown letter TimberJay 4/9/2021

    Climate change makes mining more hazardous, too

    Elton Brown

    Letter to the Editor

    TimberJay April 9th 2021

    Two items in the New York Times about recent weather disasters caught my attention. The first explained why February’s severe arctic blast shut down the electrical grid in Texas, resulting in huge commercial and human losses: “The continent-spanning storms showed that American infrastructure wasn’t ready for climate change. Extreme weather is placing growing stress on a system that was built decades ago under the expectation that the environment around it would remain stable.”

    And, regarding Australia’s record-breaking flooding, following last year’s catastrophic wildfires, this analysis: “There is a very strong link between global warming and that intensification in rainfall,” said Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales. “There’s good scientific evidence to say extreme rain is becoming more extreme due to global warming.” Australia’s conservative government – heavily resistant to aggressive action on climate change that might threaten the country’s fossil fuel industry – has yet to make that link.

    The Trump administration talked a lot about the need to update our country’s highways, bridges and water pipes – but kept kicking the can down the (crumbling) road. I am thankful that President Biden has made infrastructure a top priority and has proposed a serious, ambitious plan.

    What is increasingly obvious is that any new construction projects, whether public or private, must take into account the new normal of extreme weather events. Houses should no longer be built on flood plains nor ocean beach fronts. And, closer to home, any Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed mine should prove that the project can be done safely not just in average conditions but able to withstand our increasingly frequent “storms of the century.”

    For the foreseeable future, given this new unstable climate reality, the cost of building a
    copper-nickel mine which would assure protection of the BWCAW watershed from toxic, runoff, if even possible, would likely be prohibitive, canceling the company’s profit motive.

    Elton Brown
    Morse Twp.


    Sarah Hobbie talk 7/7/2020 Cedar Creek Research

    Click here to get a pdf of Sarah’s talk     Ely_Group_2020_Hobbie_small

    Zoom Meeting with Tuesday Group July 7th at noon

    Hi folks

    On Tuesday July 7th we will be having a joint Climate Change and Tuesday Group meeting. This will be at noon Tuesday, not our usual 10am time. Our guest is Prof Sarah Hobbie from the University of Minnesota. Sarah will give an overview of the natural history of the U’s research station at Cedar Creek. She will also discuss the implications of the pandemic for long term research.  Her title is “Long Term Ecological Research at Cedar Creek”.  This should be a treat!


    To join click this link

    CC and Tuesday Group Zoom    July 7th at 11.45 am for a noon start

    Meeting ID: 896 3191 8520      Password: 497568


    Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a 5,500 acre experimental ecological reserve operated by the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the Minnesota Academy of Science. It is located in Anoka and Isanti Counties about 30 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, just east of Bethel, Minnesota. It has many ecosystems and species found throughout the forests and grasslands of North America. Faculty, staff and students who work at Cedar Creek are dedicated to understanding how human activities, such as agriculture and fossil fuel combustion, are changing ecosystems.

    Many of the experiments at Cedar Creek consider the long-term consequences of human-driven environmental changes. These include ecosystem responses to biodiversity loss, nitrogen deposition, elevated carbon dioxide, warming and changes in precipitation, and exotic species invasions.

    Sarah’s research focuses on three main areas:

    • the influence of changes in atmospheric composition and climate on ecosystem processes;
    • the effects of urbanization and suburbanization on biogeochemical cycles; and
    • the influence of plant species on biogeochemical processes.


    Sarah Hobbie is an American ecologist, currently at the University of Minnesota, a National Academy of Sciences Fellow and a Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor. She is an ecosystem ecologist, known for her studies of terrestrial carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems ranging from tundra to cities.

    Sarah grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Carleton College in 1986 with a degree in biology and earned her Ph.D. in 1995 from the UC Berkeley. As a graduate student her research was on the effect of increased temperature in Alaskan tundra on net ecosystem CO2 uptake.

    Her family has a cabin on Burntside Lake. They escape to the northland whenever time permits.

    Here are links to more information:           Research at Cedar Creek       and      Sarah’s lab at U Minn


    Happy 4th July


    Zoom Meeting June 2nd 2020

    Hi folks

    We plan a zoom call for our Tuesday 10am June 2nd climate change meeting. To join click this link

    Ely Climate Change Zoom Meeting       and give the password    723803


    This month we will be joined by Mike Forsman. Mike is a Lake Country Power Director for the Ely area (District 2). Recently we heard that Great River Energy plans to close its large “Coal Creek Station” plant in North Dakota. You can read some details here Coal Creek Station   and here Great River Energy   Wind energy will provide the replacement power with some battery backup. This will be less polluting and we are all pleased for that. Will is also be cheaper? Will it be reliable? Since LCP buys its power from Great River Energy these changes affect us personally.

    Maybe Mike will also be willing to discuss what is involved in being a LCP Director and give us a feel for the possibilities and problems he sees ahead as we move to more renewable energy.

    Thank you Mike for joining us. Thanks also to Ranae for setting up the zoom using her professional membership. This avoids limits on time and participants that come with free memberships.


    Be well. Wash your hands.


    Zoom Meeting 10am May 5th

    Hi folks,

    We plan a zoom call for our 10am May 5th climate change meeting.  You do not need to download any software to participate. Zoom has been responsive to recent criticism of “zoom bombing” and is becoming a standard for communication. We plan to use all their security features.

    If you have not zoomed before and would like a practice session send me an email with your preferred time and I’ll set it up. This would be a short session to chat and get used to the platform. Just a couple of weeks ago I was learning this myself.

    For May 5th the main discussion will be on a new modelling tool called En-ROADS that anyone can use to try out various policies to keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5 Celsius. Do you think we should cut coal use? Plant trees? Tax carbon? You can see how these choices and many more affect energy use and climate. En-ROADS was developed at MIT and released to the public early this year. You can find it here: En-ROADS  If you have time try it out before the meeting. If you have lots of time look at some of the training videos, especially #1 and #2. You can find them here  En-ROADS training videos  You don’t need to have the model up and running for the zoom meeting – you can watch my version.

    On another topic, you might be interested to watch the controversial video from Michael Moore “Planet of the Humans” It is free and you can find it here  Planet of the Humans It raises many topics worth discussion, maybe we should talk about it at the June meeting.

    Email me for instructions to access the May 5th zoom meeting.

    Thanks to Ranae for setting up the zoom using her professional membership. This avoids limits on time and participants that come with free memberships.


    Be well. Wash your hands.


    NO Climate change meeting April 7th 2020

    Hi folks

    There will be no meeting of the climate change group in April 7th, or on May 5th. Beyond that we will have to see. Let us resume as soon as it is safe. This virus will pass although it will take a while. Climate change will still be with us. We understand better now how fragile our infrastructure is and how quickly things can change.

    Our guest for April 7th CC and TG was to be Brenna Doheny from HPHC (Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate) to talk about the public health aspects of climate change. Thanks Brenna for planning to come, we hope we can eventually get you scheduled again. Thanks also to VCC for offering to host us for both months.

    In the news recently note that the feds are rolling back Obama’s mileage standards for cars and pickups, and that the EPA is relaxing enforcement of rules on pollution. Presumably to help industry – but hurting climate. With so much shut down, emissions will be down this year. But efforts to address climate change are also on hold as we deal with the current emergency.

    As you spend time at home here are some interesting links.

    A new modelling and teaching tool has been released by Climate Interactive and MIT called En-ROADS. It is free, has training tutorials and is amazingly sophisticated. It is user friendly and has easy to run scenarios you might find interesting. This blurb comes from their website: “En-ROADS is a transparent, freely-available policy simulation model that provides policymakers, educators, businesses, the media, and the public with the ability to explore, for themselves, the likely consequences of energy, economic growth, land use, and other policies and uncertainties, with the goal of improving their understanding.”

    Ranae refers us to a proposal to help us escape the “triple threat” of virus, climate change and inequality. This is posted on which was established by Evan Williams (who co-founded twitter) as a site for articles longer than 280 characters. Maybe you want to sign it!

    This article in the LA Times asks what a coronavirus-like response to the climate crisis would look like:

    Richard found this piece of good news about bacteria that consume methane released from permafrost:

    Does the group want to try to meet by skype or zoom? Email me if you are interested.

    Be well. Wash your hands.


    Climate meeting Mar 3rd 10am VCC Fireside Room

    Hi folks

    Our next Climate Change meeting will be March 3rd at 10am at the Fireside Room at VCC. To find the Fireside Room, go to the cafeteria and walk through the back of the cafeteria to the stairs or elevator. Walk or ride to the top which is the 3rd floor. The Fireside Room is along the corridor. It has spectacular views, a fireplace, AV setups, tables we can arrange, all the amenities.  We are inviting VCC students to join us. There will be some of the best cookies you have ever tasted! FYI Tuesday Group that day will be Kris Hallberg “The Economic Impact of Twin Metals: The Harvard Study”.

    We are meeting at VCC because March 3rd is voting day “Super Tuesday” It is Minnesota’s first presidential primary. The Senior Center will be busy as it is a polling place.  Meg Heiman and Bill Tefft are our hosts, thank you. Meg is teaching Comp 2, her students have chosen Climate Change as the topic for their writing this semester. We will resume our regular climate meetings at the Senior Center in April.

    At this meeting we plan a general discussion of climate change. Bring your questions and ideas. What aspect of the problem worries you? We can include the big topics like energy, food, population, immigration, and climate justice issues. If the “Green New Deal” gets passed will it solve our problems?

    We can also try to cover some local affects like changes in species of trees, animals and bugs. We may also be facing droughts, floods and wildfires. There will be public health impacts too. Should we try to mitigate, adapt, or both? What actions can we take either personally or as a community?

    Come and meet some VCC students. Share your hopes and concerns. Eat some cookies.

    There is one piece of sad news, our friend Helmut Buettner died earlier this month. We will miss his wit and wisdom. You can read an obituary here:

    Next month (April 7th) our climate change program and that day’s Tuesday Group will be on issues around climate and health. Brenna Doheny will represent the network “Healthcare Professionals for a Healthy Climate”. Let your neighbors know.

    Our flyer for the March 3rd VCC meeting is below.

    Hope to see you on Tuesday March 3rd, 10am VCC Fireside Room




    Flyer for March 3 meeting

    VCC flyer