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Julia Harte's articles

With No Policy Incentives, Turkey's Solar Entrepreneurs Wait Out in the Cold

Government’s inaction could permanently stunt solar industry in a nation sunnier than California, advocates warn

By Julia Harte

Dec 14, 2010

On Nov. 14, after working for ten days to convert their mosque to run on solar power, residents of a village in the Turkish district of Akkuyu assembled outside the building and unfurled a banner that read, “The sun is rising on Akkuyu.”

It was a bright moment in what has been an otherwise discouraging year for Büyükeceli, a picturesque Mediterranean village in Akkuyu. In July, the Turkish government authorized Russia to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in Büyükeceli. Averse to the risks posed by the plant, Büyükeceli locals asked the government to let them build a photovoltaic panel array instead.

When the government rejected that proposal, the people took matters into their own hands and installed a 2.25 kilowatt-capacity system on their mosque — enough to meet all of its energy needs, and then some.

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In Turkey, Environmental Opposition to Power Plants Invites Defamation Lawsuits

Turkish Law No. 5651 and lawsuits used to muzzle environmentalists

By Julia Harte

Oct 19, 2010

Editor's Note: This is the second of two parts. You can read the first part here.

Haluk Direskeneli says he's  “an engineer, not an environmentalist.” But he's been threatened with a lawsuit for criticizing Turkish energy investors who disregard the environment, as several environmentalists who have opposed power plants have been lately. 

An energy consultant and member of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers in Ankara, Turkey's capital, Direskeneli says that he doesn't object to power plants as long as they follow environmental regulations.

But after he published an on weaknesses in the licensing process for new power plants in Turkey, he was told to retract it—or prepare for a lawsuit.

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Residents Fight Power Plant Plan in Turkey Earthquake Zone

Environmentalists Sued for Defamation

By Julia Harte

Oct 18, 2010

Editor's note: This the first installment in a two-part series.

Ask Turks to name the most beautiful natural places in their country, and they’ll almost inevitably mention Yalova: a small province of resort towns along the southern shore of the Marmara Sea.

Just an hour away from Istanbul by ferry, Yalova’s population of about 200,000 is sustained by its tourism industry. Thousands of visitors flock to the region each summer, drawn by natural wonders such as the Yalova thermal springs. Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, built a private pavilion there.

But today, a different kind of thermal presence is concerning the residents of Yalova.

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Geopolitics Complicates Solutions to Turkey's Soaring Energy Demand

Clean energy sector faces development challenges as Turkey becomes a hub of energy exchange between Asia and Europe

By Julia Harte

Aug 26, 2010

On August 6, the citizens of Turkey consumed more electricity in one day than ever before, at a record rate of 0.39 kilowatts per person, in large part because extremely hot temperatures had pushed air conditioner usage to new levels.

The Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources expects installed power capacity to double by 2020 to meet growing demand. That means 100% growth in the power sector in less than 10 years.

Turkey's energy minister, Taner Yıldız, in a speech the day after the new record was set, . "Turkey has overcome the economic crisis experienced last year," he said, and took comfort in the increasing energy consumption as a symbol of vigorous economic growth.

But in the modern world order, where political autonomy, membership in elite markets and national security are tied to controlling fossil fuel consumption and lowering greenhouse-gas emissions, does it still make sense to celebrate the growth of Turkey's appetite for energy?

Not all Turks think so.

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Skeptics Failing to Get Anti-Climate Science Agenda into Texas Classrooms

Teachers are largely ignoring a Board of Ed demand to spread doubt about man-made global warming, a SolveClimate investigation finds

By Julia Harte

Jun 1, 2010

Last March, the Texas State Board of Education approved controversial language in the curriculum requiring teachers to cast doubt on human contributions to climate change. Now, more than one year later, it appears that rule is being largely ignored by educators across the state, a SolveClimate examination has found. 

In fact, dozens of inquiries failed to turn up one science teacher in Texas whose approach to the subject of climate change has been at all affected by the amendment to the state science curriculum. The standard has also done nothing to turn students against the consensus view of man-made global warming, according to educators.

Some even said that their students are more receptive than ever to the established science. 

"It's too 'in the news' for it to go away," said Paul Caggiano, an environmental science teacher at St. Pius X High School in Houston. "When I ask a kid to do a current events report, they're not going to come up with a skeptical view of climate change. They're going to see it for what it is."

Still, as the scientific consensus continues to build worldwide, skeptics of global warming show no sign of giving up their fight against teaching the mainstream view in classrooms in Texas, and across the United States.

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DOE Still Disavows Peak Oil Forecast, Despite New Studies

Gulf oil spill adds pressure for release of "proprietary database" behind DOE's optimism.

By Julia Harte

May 10, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy has long disavowed peak oil theory: the notion that annual world oil production will peak, plateau, and then enter a decline. But the agency’s stance appears increasingly at odds with the future predicted by many world energy analysts, including the US military.

In February, the United Kingdom Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security—a group comprised in part by renewable energy companies—published a warning that global peak oil would probably occur within the next decade.

And in March, the U.S. Joint Forces Command released its report, a forecast of likely national security challenges. Drawing on several energy information sources, the report concluded that "world surplus oil production could disappear by 2012, and shortages of 10 million barrels per day could be seen as soon as 2015."

With the BP Gulf oil disaster continuing with no resolution in sight and mounting public concern over the wisdom of offshore drilling, more pressure is mounting on DOE to justify its optimistic forecasts and its belief that the nation will be producing millions of more barrels of oil a day within two decades.

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EPA's Biofuel Mandates Based on Shaky Assumptions, Scientists Say

By Julia Harte

Apr 20, 2010

Federal renewable fuel mandates have created an industry around corn ethanol that now consumes of the U.S. corn crop. But what is the rationale behind those mandates in the first place? Several scientists have asked and found the answers to be unsound.

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Economists: Graham-Kerry's Sector-Specific Approach to Carbon Limits is Less Efficient

'We'll Be Getting Less CO2 Reduction for Our Dollar'

By Julia Harte

Mar 15, 2010

The climate bill being drafted by U.S. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is widely viewed as a compromise between lawmakers bent on reducing fossil fuel emissions and those who fear such reductions will cripple the domestic energy industry.

But their approach of applying different types of carbon limits to different sectors of the industry doesn't just the urgency of reducing emissions. Some economists say the sector-specific approach would be costlier to society and less efficient than an economy-wide approach that would limit emissions “upstream” from where fossil fuels enter the economy, such as at companies that supply raw energy.

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