James West

James West

Climate Desk Producer

James West is senior producer for the Climate Desk and a contributing producer for Mother Jones. He wrote Beijing Blur (Penguin 2008), a far-reaching account of modernizing China’s underground youth scene. James has a masters of journalism under his belt from NYU, and has produced a variety of award-winning shows in his native Australia, including the national affairs program Hack. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family.

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A Place With the Population of West Virginia Just Powered A Work Day Entirely on Clean Energy

| Tue Oct. 14, 2014 10:39 AM EDT
Wind energy is booming in South Australia.

Here's one for the naysayers who insist renewable energy can't keep the lights on and power our cities. An entire state in Australia with a population of  around 1.7 million people just used renewable energy to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs throughout an entire working day. According to industry news site Energy Business News:

Between 9.30 and 6pm on Tuesday, September 30, a day not unlike most Tuesdays, with business and homes using electricity as usual, the state received the favourable weather conditions allowing solar and wind infrastructure to work side by side to achieve the impressive achievement.

The analysis comes from Pitt & Sherry, an Australian energy consultancy. As the wind picked up, all but two of the state's coal-fired power generators, and one gas-powered unit, were shut down; the excess power was exported to other regions, according to the report. There were a few moments during the previous days—on September 27 and 28—when the state actually produced more wind power than the state's total energy demand. Normally, nearly a third of the state's energy comes from renewable sources, according to figures from 2012 to 2013.

South Australia, home to the city of Adelaide, has almost half of the country's wind capacity; 25 percent of its households have rooftop solar installations, according to the report. The state is aggressively pursuing green energy goals, upping its 2025 renewable energy commitment from 33 percent to 50 percent, having met its previous goal six years ahead of schedule.

This is despite the conservative federal government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatening to gut a national renewable energy target, having already defunded several government agencies responsible for the country's climate change policies. In July, Australia became the world's first developed nation to repeal a carbon tax.

All of that policy uncertainty is having an impact on the renewable energy sector in Australia. Investment has virtually frozen in a land famous for being bathed in sun. Recent data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows Australia is on track to record its lowest level of financing for big renewable projects since 2002, dropping the country from the 11th largest investor to 31st in Bloomberg's rankings. In the third quarter of this year, investment was down 78 percent from the same time last year.

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Photos: This Year's Strongest Typhoon Pounds Japan

| Mon Oct. 13, 2014 12:04 PM EDT

Typhoon Vongfong—the word means "wasp" in Cantonese—brought torrential rain and damaging winds to Japan overnight, as it continued its northward trajectory across the Japanese islands. The powerful storm arrived just a week after Japan was hit by another typhoon, Phanfone, which took the lives of three US airman off Okinawa, a southern Japanese island where the US maintains a large military base. Last week, Vongfong became the strongest cyclone system observed all year, anywhere in the world—equivalent to a category 5 hurricane. It was downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit the Japanese island of Kyushu. The Japan Times is reporting that the storm has left at least 61 people injured and one missing, with hundreds of thousands advised to evacuate. Authorities took steps to protect the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the site of the 2011 meltdown.

Here are some photos of the storm as it moved through northeast Asia:

The storm created powerful waves in Wenling, in the coastal Chinese province of Zhejiang, on Sunday, drawing thrill-seeking crowds Whitehotpix/ZUMA
Not exactly the safest place to attempt a selfie. Whitehotpix/ZUMA
The view of the storm from the International Space Station last Thursday reveals its enormity. It was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made land fall in Japan. Alexander Gerst/NASA
A huge tree upended by Vongfong's force on the coast of Setouchi, Kagoshima, on Sunday October 12. While the storm has been downgraded, it has increased in size, and still contains a huge amount of moisture. The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP
Waves pound the coast in the city of Kochi on the Japanese island of Shikoku on Monday October 13, 2014. The storm grounded 300 flights. Kyodo/AP
This photo of the super typhoon last week showed the eye of the storm was approximately 50 miles wide. NOAA/NASA
Streets were (almost) empty and shops shuttered in Toyko as Vongfong approached last night. The storm is expected to pass over the capital on Tuesday. kodomut/Flickr
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