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Empty Gestures on Climate Change

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Empty Gestures on Climate Change

When climate campaigners urge people to change their everyday behavior, they trivialize the challenge of global warming. The one individual action that citizens could take that would make a real difference would be to demand a vast increase in spending on green-energy research and development.

MALMÖ – Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, wash your clothes in cold water, eat less meat, recycle more, and buy an electric car: we are being bombarded with instructions from climate campaigners, environmentalists, and the media about the everyday steps we all must take to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, these appeals trivialize the challenge of global warming, and divert our attention from the huge technological and policy changes that are needed to combat it.1

For example, the British nature-documentary presenter and environmental campaigner David Attenborough was once asked what he as an individual would do to fight climate change. He promised to unplug his phone charger when it was not in use.

Attenborough’s heart is no doubt in the right place. But even if he consistently unplugs his charger for a year, the resulting reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions will be equivalent to less than one-half of one-thousandth of the average person’s annual CO2 emissions in the United Kingdom. Moreover, charging accounts for less than 1% of a phone’s energy needs; the other 99% is required to manufacture the handset and operate data centers and cell towers. Almost everywhere, these processes are heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

Attenborough is far from alone in believing that small gestures can have a meaningful impact on the climate. In fact, even much larger-sounding commitments deliver only limited reductions in CO2 emissions. For example, environmental activists emphasize the need to give up eating meat and driving fossil-fuel-powered cars. But, although I am a vegetarian and do not own a car, I believe we need to be honest about what such choices can achieve.

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In “Historic” Ruling, Dutch Supreme Court Says Government Must Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 25%

In “Historic” Ruling, Dutch Supreme Court Says Government Must Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 25%

In a move that has “put the rest of the world on notice,” the Dutch Supreme Court has upheld a landmark climate change ruling that requires the Dutch government to accelerate cuts of carbon emissions. 

It was called an “immense victory for climate justice,” according to AP

The Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that the severity of the climate change crisis demanded greenhouse gas reductions of at least 25% by 2020, according to the Guardian. This is higher than the 17% drop in emissions that was planned by Mark Rutte’s liberal administration. 

The ruling was greeted with cheers in the courtroom an will act as a tailwind for similar cases worldwide. Similar cases are being planned in places like Norway, New Zealand, Uganda and the UK. 

Marjan Minnesma of the Dutch Urgenda Foundation said: “I am extremely happy that the highest court in the Netherlands has confirmed that climate change is a real, severe problem and that government should do what they themselves have declared for more than 10 years is necessary, namely between 25% and 40% reduction of CO2.”

Jesse Klaver, the leader of the Dutch Greens, said of the original ruling that it was “historic news” and said  “Governments can no longer make promises they don’t fulfil. Countries have an obligation to protect their citizens against climate change. That makes this trial relevant for all other countries.”

To comply with the ruling, one new coal plan would have to be shut down. The state had argued that the judges were “sidelining democracy” by trying to force the policy change. 

But Judge Tan de Sonnaville was unconvinced, ruling: “Climate change is a grave danger. Any postponement of emissions reductions exacerbates the risks of climate change. The Dutch government cannot hide behind other countries’ emissions. It has an independent duty to reduce emissions from its own territory.”

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Our climate is like reckless banking before the crash—it’s time to talk about near-term collapse

Our climate is like reckless banking before the crash—it’s time to talk about near-term collapse

Our food, finance, and logistics systems are worryingly vulnerable to climate shocks, Aled Jones and Will Steffen write. These are not distant existential issues raised by uncertain and abstract models of future climatic risk. They are urgent questions that humanity has been ducking for decades, but now demand urgent answers. 

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CC.0 :: Nikita Sypko / Unsplash.com

After a quarter of a century of nations from around the world coming together to discuss progress in dealing with climate change, emissions are still rising. The 25th annual United Nations climate change summit is now underway—and for the sake of the planet, it’s high time it changed its approach.

While climate scientists, policymakers and environmental campaigners have been engaged in a decades-long conversation about the future of the planet, most people on planet Earth see no climate emergency. Put bluntly, the science of global warming has failed spectacularly to emotionally connect with much of society, particularly those in the most powerful positions—rendering policy makers ineffective despite repeated warnings.

The science and the warnings focus on curtailing the emission of heat-absorbing gases into the atmosphere that, left unaddressed, may threaten the viability of contemporary society and worsen a mass extinction event already in motion.

But these warnings are not connected with complex human systems, such as food, finance and logistics, leaving them to evolve as if climate change didn’t exist. Terms such as “tipping points” are on their own technical, distant and abstract, while humans are wired to prioritise the short-term.

This failure to connect the dots means humanity has rapidly entered uncharted territory, pumping out carbon ten times faster than at any point since the extinction of the dinosaurs.

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Trudeau will fuel the fires of our climate crisis if he approves Canada’s mega mine

Trudeau will fuel the fires of our climate crisis if he approves Canada’s mega mine

Alberta’s oil sands produce one of the dirtiest oils on the planet. If the Teck mega mine is approved, the damage to our planet will be colossal

The Syncrude Oil Sands site near to Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta. Bitumen Oil Sands Tar Sands Oil refinery Canada Photograph by David Levene 22/4/15 *** FIRST USE INTENDED FOR POTENTIAL EYEWITNESS IN CONJUNCTION WITH SUZY GOLDENBERG ‘CARBON BOMB’ INTERACTIVE PLANNED FOR MID-MAY 2015***
 ‘Less than two months ago, two-thirds of Canadians voted for parties vowing to do more to fight climate change.’ Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

This week, the Canadian government is in Madrid telling the world that climate action is its No 1 priority. When they get home, Justin Trudeau’s newly re-elected government will decide whether to throw more fuel on the fires of climate change by giving the go-ahead to construction of the largest open-pit oil sands mine in Canadian history.

Approving Teck Resources’ Frontier mine would effectively signal Canada’s abandonment of its international climate goals. The mega mine would operate until 2067, adding a whopping 6 megatonnes of climate pollution every year. That’s on top of the increasing amount of carbon that Canada’s petroleum producers are already pumping out every year.

The Teck mega mine would be on Dene and Cree territory, close to Indigenous communities. The area is home to one of the last free-roaming herds of wood bison, it’s along the migration route for the only wild population of endangered whooping cranes, and is just 30km from the boundary of Wood Buffalo national park – a Unesco world heritage site because of its cultural importance and biodiversity.Advertisement

Alberta’s oil sands produce one of the dirtiest oils on the planet, and they are the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions in Canada. The industry is expanding rapidly and is already responsible for more carbon pollution than all of Quebec. Oil and gas is now the largest climate polluter in the country, exceeding all greenhouse gases from transportation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Carbon capture could require 25% of all global energy

Carbon capture could require 25% of all global energy

Preface.  This is clearly a pipedream. Surely the authors know this, since they say that the energy needed to run direct air capture machines in 2100 is up to 300 exajoules each year. That’s more than half of global energy consumption today.  It’s equivalent to the current annual energy demand of China, the US, the EU and Japan combined.  It is equal to the global supply of energy from coal and gas in 2018.

That’s a showstopper. This CO2 chomper isn’t going anywhere.  It simply requires too much energy, raw materials, and an astounding, impossibly large-scale rapid deployment of 30% a year to be of any use.

Reaching 30 Gt CO2/yr of CO2 capture – a similar scale to current global emissions – would mean building some 30,000 large-scale DAC factories. For comparison, there are fewer than 10,000 coal-fired power stations in the world today.  

The cement and steel used in DACCS facilities would require a great deal of energy and CO2 emissions that need to be subtracted from whatever is sequestered.

Nor can the CO2 be stored in carbon capture sorbents – these are between the research and demonstration levels, far from being commercial, and are subject to degradation which would lead to high operational and maintenance costs.  Their manufacture also releases chemical pollutants that need to be managed, adding to the energy used even more. Plus sorbents can require a great deal of high heat and fossil fuel inputs, possibly pushing up the “quarter of global energy” beyond that.

As far as I can tell the idea of sorbents, which are far from being commercial and very expensive to produce, is only being proposed because there’s not enough geological storage to put CO2.

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Volatility in Weather is Spot On! Are Pole Shifts Part of the Process?

Volatility in Weather is Spot On! Are Pole Shifts Part of the Process? 

QUESTION: What proof do you have that there is higher volatility in weather? I think you just make this up. I have not seen anywhere else with claims of new high and low records. Humans are responsible for climate change. You are spreading propaganda yourself.

JG

ANSWER: Well here is the list published by the NOAA that shows there have been 17,082 new record daily highs and 17.068 new record lows. If this is what you believe, then stop heating your home in the winter or using air conditioning. Quit your job, stay home. Do not use any public transportation. Grow your own food because even buying a head of lettuce means a truck has to deliver it to the store. You better not read a newspaper, for you are continuing to cutting down trees that suck up CO2. Then again, turn off your computer because even reading this consumes electricity and you are destroying the planet every second, according to your theory.

Do all that and if you are still alive after one year, then let me know how you survived.

For the rest of us who are objective, the VOLATILITY our computer has been forecasting is precisely on target. We have just over 17,000 new record highs and over 17,000 new record lows. That is what we call VOLATILITY in market-terms.

What is difficult to forecast short-term is the polar shifts. The magnetic North Pole is wandering about 34 miles (55 kilometers) a year. The North Magnetic Pole has moved so much, so fast, that a group of scientists rushed to change a model that helps guide shipping, airplanes, and submarines to know where they are in the Arctic Ocean.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Morgan Stanley: “Climate Will Be A Key Driver Of Asset Prices In The Months And Years Ahead”

Morgan Stanley: “Climate Will Be A Key Driver Of Asset Prices In The Months And Years Ahead”

“Sunday Start”, authored by Morgan Stanley equity strategist, Jessica Alsford

In three weeks, the world’s leaders will begin to gather in Madrid for the 25th United Nations Climate Change Conference. The intensity of the global climate strikes this year suggests that the proceedings will be scrutinized as never before. But the decisions made, or not made, will also have repercussions for global markets.

We’re transitioning towards a lower carbon economy, albeit at a slower pace than needed to stay within a two degrees Celsius climate scenario (2DS). For companies that can build offshore wind installations, develop electric vehicles and manufacture renewable diesels, we see potential for material earnings growth. In Decarbonisation: The Race to Net Zero, we estimated that more than US$50 trillion of capital will need to be deployed into renewables, EVs, hydrogen, biofuels and carbon capture and storage over the next 30 years, putting US$3-10 trillion of EBIT up for grabs.

Decarbonising electricity is the largest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, with the power sector responsible for a quarter of global emissions. Strong renewables growth should be achievable given the significant improvements we’ve seen in solar and wind economics. But costs continue to constrain many other clean technologies, including battery storage, green hydrogen, CCS and biofuels.

If governments are serious about halting climate change, some form of stimulus will be needed.

Subsidies have already been key in industries like renewables. In the US, federal subsidies have helped to drive the transition to renewable energy, which rose from 14% of total power generation capacity in 2000 to 24% in 2018.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less

The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less

The degrowth movement wants to intentionally shrink the economy to address climate change, and create lives with less stuff, less work, and better well-being. But is it a utopian fantasy?

In 1972, a team at MIT published The Limits to Growth, a report that predicted what would happen to human civilization as the economy and population continued to grow. What their computer simulation found was pretty straightforward: On a planet of finite resources, infinite exponential growth isn’t possible. Eventually, non-renewable resources, like oil, would run out.

Historically, we have considered growth a positive thing, synonymous with job security and prosperity. Since World War II, the gross domestic product (GDP) measure has been used as “the ultimate measure of a country’s overall welfare.” One of John F. Kennedy’s staff economists, Arthur Okun, theorized that for every 3-point rise in GDP, unemployment would fall a percentage point—one reason why presidential campaigns fixate on the measure.

But growth has led to other problems, such as the warming of the planet due to carbon emissions, and the extreme weather and loss of biodiversityand agriculture that comes along with that. Consequently some activists, researchers, and policy makers are questioning the dogma of growth as good. This skepticism has led to the degrowth movement, which says the growth of the economy is inextricably tied to an increase in carbon emissions. It calls for a dramatic reduction in energy and material use, which would inevitably shrink GDP. 

The Green New Deal, popularized by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seeks to decrease carbon by growing the renewable energy industry. But the degrowth movement believes we need to take this further, by designing a social upheaval that disentangles the idea of progress and economic growth once and for all.

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Extinction Rebellion: What is it?

Extinction Rebellion: What is it?

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The climate crisis is turning average law-abiding people into raging law-breaking eco rebels, by boatloads. Extinction Rebellion (ER) is at the forefront, demanding that governments declare climate emergencies and take urgent action.

In that regard, ER, which started in the UK, says government must reduce carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2025, or else! Social chaos will spring loose from within the darkened shadows of a raging climate, bringing civilized society to its knees and within current lifetimes. For proof, read the science, which says it all. We’re doomed without taking action to cut greenhouse emissions to Net Zero.

In that regard, in November 2018 ER activist extraordinaire Jenny Shearer super glued herself to a railing outside the glorious golden-trimmed gates of Buckingham Palace in expectation that: “This will get the Royal family to come and join us.” Meanwhile, another 2,000 ER activists brought a coffin, which symbolized a “sure-fire death sentence” facing the “next generation” vestiges of the present-day crisis.

For ER warriors, the climate crisis is like a freight train with failing breaks barreling down a mountainside headed for a massive wipeout of society. Regrettably, it’ll happen way too soon to take comfort today.

This coming October 31st marks the one-year anniversary of ER from beginnings on Parliament Square on October 31st 2018 when the ER leaders announced a Declaration of Rebellion against the UK government, expecting a couple hundred people to attend. Surprisingly, 1,500 showed up to exercise their right to peaceful civil disobedience whilst breaking the law and getting arrested.

Shortly thereafter, 6,000 ER activists peacefully blocked five major bridges across the River Thames. They planted trees in the middle of Parliament Square, and dug a hole for a coffin. Additionally, they lie down in streets or at entryways to public buildings, bringing parts of London and other UK cities to a standstill.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Drawing down atmospheric carbon

Drawing down atmospheric carbon

There are two ways of addressing rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon; reduce the amount of carbon emissions or increase the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere.  Most of our efforts have been focused on reducing emissions.  I’d like to shift the conversation to drawing down atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The picture above was taken in the corn field near my home showing the hard and cracked soil in this field.  The picture below was taken in my garden earlier this spring.  I simply turned over a shovel of soil and you can see worms, roots, and soil structure all indicating a healthy soil.  These pictures should make clear the differences between the degraded conventional farmland and healthy organic rich soil.  My garden soil contains about 9% organic matter, which is refreshed each year with mulch used to suppress weeds and feed the soil.  Most Midwestern farmland has been degraded and contains a small fraction of the organic matter it had when it was first farmed.

In our county we often see a decrease in organic matter from 5% to less than 1%.  The soil in the farm field is little but dust particles.  The surface cracks are an indication of what happens when the soil loses organic matter.  It dries out and the surface hardens. This farm soil has no soil structure because it has lost it’s thriving microbial life, the bottom of the food chain.  Without worms and fungi there is nothing working to form and hold opens pores, the soil surface becomes a hardened crusted surface soon after plowing and planting. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism

Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism 

As the Earth’s ecological systems upon which we depend accelerate in their slouch towards Bethlehem, our society faces an existential crisis.  The effects of climate change are far direr than we initially expected.  Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen to 415 ppm for the first time in over three million years.  The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C describes that we face an increase in global average temperatures of 1.5 degrees C as soon as 2040. Furthermore, the two degrees of warming that scientists widely argue is the final major threshold before permanent, large-scale climatic shifts leading to ecological collapse, is no longer some far-off possibility or hyperbolic fear-mongering, but an imminent reality.  The future we face in this new Earth is marked ever more frequent and intense fire and flooding, famine and disease, droughts and storms.

Similarly, compounded by decreasing habitat availability from deforestation, overfishing, and resource overuse, climatic shifts are already being accompanied by staggering and consistent losses in biodiversity.  Published last month, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ Global Assessment Report concluded that the second-fastest mass extinction event in planetary history is underway; the current rate of extinction is 100 to 1000 times greater than historical background rates.  Over one million species are at risk of extinction within the next few decades.

As they perceive the horsemen beginning to saddle up their mounts, many of my friends and colleagues in the environmental community have succumbed to anxiety, if not despondency.  It is all too easy to become overwhelmed and unable to make a decision on how to proceed given the enormity of the problem and the lateness of the hour.  Indeed, given their scale, global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss have been called hyperobjects which humans cannot comprehend despite their pervasive effects that are and will be experienced by everyone in some way.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Do electric cars take more CO2 to build than they save?

Do electric cars take more CO2 to build than they save?

EVs take a lot of CO2 to manufacture but should save more over a lifetime of use

Electric vehicles generate about 25 per cent more CO2 than the manufacture of gasoline powered vehicles largely die to the massive lithium batteries. (Getty images)

Listen 2:33 (click on above link to listen)

This week’s question comes to us from John Stinner in Prince George, B.C. He asks:

Do electric car batteries take more CO2 to make than they save?

Olivier Trescases, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Toronto suggests that this is a very important question to answer given the projected increase in the use of electric vehicles in the coming years.

Trescases says there has been research to suggest that the amount of CO2 produced by the manufacture of an electric vehicle is 25 per cent greater than that generated in the manufacture of a gasoline vehicle.

The difference is largely due to the massive lithium battery required to power the vehicle.

In terms of CO2 emissions from driving, EV-related emissions depend on where the electricity comes from. In the United States, even considering the various sources of electricity, the total emission of CO2 over the lifetime of the vehicle is still 50 per cent less than the emissions from a gasoline-powered car.

In the future, that number will increase as more electricity is generated from wind and solar power.

As well, lithium batteries are likely to become smaller and more efficient, and will therefore generate less CO2.

Household tissue is a climate issue

Household tissue is a climate issue

Trees are the source of much of our household tissue. And trees and soil store huge quantities of carbon to add to greenhouse gas totals.

LONDON, 27 June, 2019 − The household tissue you use to blow your nose could be adding to the problems of climate change.

A substantial portion of the tissue products we buy – toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissues – comes from boreal forests, the dense ring of trees which encircles much of the globe just below the Arctic Circle.

These forests – and the soils they stand in – contain vast amounts of carbon; when trees are felled and the land they are growing in is disturbed, carbon is released into the atmosphere, adding to the already dangerously high levels of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

A new report looking at tissue use in the US says Americans are voracious consumers of tissue products; they make up only 4% of the world’s population yet account for more than 20% of global tissue consumption.

The report, by the US-based environmental organisation, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), says much of the tissue in the US originates from trees in Canada’s boreal forests.

“The consequences for indigenous peoples, treasured wildlife and the global climate are devastating”

“This vast landscape of coniferous, birch and aspen trees contains some of the last of the world’s remaining intact forests, and is home to over 600 indigenous communities, as well as boreal caribou, pine marten and billions of songbirds”, says the NRDC.

It says that when boreal forests are degraded, their ability to absorb man-made greehouse gas emissions declines.

“In addition, the carbon that had been safely stored in the forests’ soil and vegetation is released into the atmosphere, dramatically undermining international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘’Biofuels Haven’t Cut Gasoline Prices Or Emissions’’

‘’Biofuels Haven’t Cut Gasoline Prices Or Emissions’’

Grass

Since its introduction more than a decade ago, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hasn’t cut gasoline prices outside the Midwest and has even led to a slight rise in pump prices in states far from ethanol production, while the standard has had a limited effect, if any, on greenhouse gas emissions.    

These are the key findings of a new report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) prepared at the request of Republican Senator for Oklahoma, James Lankford, who supports policies to lower the biofuel volumes to reflect market realities that gasoline demand turns out to be lower than what the legislators had predicted when enacting the RFS more than a decade ago.  

Under the RFS, oil refiners are required to blend growing amounts of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel. This policy has long pitted the agriculture lobby against the oil refining lobby. The Midwest farm belt benefits from the RFS policy because it increases demand for ethanol, but the oil refiners do not—they lose petroleum-based market share of fuels, and meeting the blending requirements costs them hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a recent blow to the ethanol industry in the farming vs. oil refining battle, a federal appeals court has denied a renewable fuel group’s attempt to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing small refinery exemptions (SREs) to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Now it looks like the RFS and its effects on prices and emissions are also pitting one government agency against another.   

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CO2 emissions: The trend is not your friend

CO2 emissions: The trend is not your friend

When the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported in late March that energy consumption in 2018 rose at the fastest rate in a decade, it confirmed something that most of those who truly understand the climate crisis already know: Collectively, humanity is making almost no progress in doing anything significant about climate change. So, it’s not surprising that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has hit yet another record high.

While the dominate public narrative has been that we are making great leaps toward a low-carbon economy through the rapid deployment of renewable energy, the IEA report showed a civilization moving inexorably toward climate catastrophe.

Of the growth in energy demand—the extra energy needed to power the world economy in 2018 versus 2017—70 percent was supplied by fossil fuels. When we hear, as the IEA tells us, that solar energy generation increased by 31 percent last year without appropriate context, we fail to understand that this is off a very small base relative to fossil fuel energy.

Coal burning accounted for about one-third of all emissions in 2018. Coal consumption continues to increase. This, we are told, is despite the rising use of natural gas for electricity generation. But, natural gas, though it contains less carbon, is still a carbon fuel.

Perhaps the most important statement in the release was this:

Almost a fifth of the increase in global energy demand came from higher demand for heating and cooling as average winter and summer temperatures in some regions approached or exceeded historical records. Cold snaps drove demand for heating and, more significantly, hotter summer temperatures pushed up demand for cooling.

Climate change is creating a vicious cycle in which that change creates greater extremes in weather which create more demand for energy which is still largely generated using fossil fuels—which then release more greenhouse gases creating even more extreme climate.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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