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The Top 5 Ways We Use Oil & Gas

The Top 5 Ways We Use Oil & Gas

Petchem

If climate change and the use of fossil fuels is starting to worry you, consider this: The lion’s share of the petroleum in the United States is being used just to get around–to get people and things from point A to point B. 

Industrial, residential, commercial and electrical power usage of petroleum pales in comparison.   

Fossil fuels–which include crude oil and other liquids–are refined into petroleum products for a multitude of uses, and last year, the United States consumed over 20 million barrels per day. 

A whopping 69 percent of that was consumed by transportation. Industry, which the masses like to villainize most in terms of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, used only 25 percent. Residential usage accounted for only 3 percent of our petroleum consumption, and commercial, only 2 percent. 

What about electricity? American electricity generation used only 1 percent of those petroleum products. 

Source: EIA

So, for anyone looking to pinpoint where we need to start cheerleading for renewables or fossil-fuels shaming, here are the top 5 uses of petroleum products to help redirect the debate: 

#5 Oceans of Plastic: Still Gas, 0.703M BPD

While primarily referring to methane and ethane, “still gas” is any form or mixture of gases produced in refineries by distillation, cracking, reforming, and other processes. That means it also includes ethylene, normal butane, butylenes, propane, propylene, and others. 

It’s used most as refinery fuel or petrochemical feedstock. 

The conversion factor is 6 million Btus per fuel oil equivalent barrel.

U.S. refineries burned nearly 240 million barrels of still gas in 2018. 

But petrochemicals are one of the largest drivers of global oil demand, so it’s a circular competition here for still gas. 

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

‘Factfulness’ may calm you down, but won’t change our ecocidal trajectory

‘Factfulness’ may calm you down, but won’t change our ecocidal trajectory

Here and there people have been referring to author Hans Rosling’s idea of “factfulness” as an antidote to gloomy thinking about the trajectory of the human enterprise. Rosling writes:

[T]he vast majority of the world’s population live somewhere in the middle of the income scale. Perhaps they are not what we think of as middle class, but they are not living in extreme poverty. Their girls go to school, their children get vaccinated. Perhaps not on every single measure, or every single year, but step by step, year by year, the world is improving. In the past two centuries, life expectancy has more than doubled. Although the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress.

“Factfulness,” it seems, relies on nothing more than drawing attention to a narrow set of facts. Yes, we have made tremendous progress for humans taken alone. The problem with such assessments is that they leave out how that progress was purchased. While Rosling does not deny climate change, profligate resource consumption or toxic pollution, he does not see that they are the pillars upon which the so-called “progress” we’ve achieved rests and not mere side-effects.

I agree with Rosling that the daily flow of news does not provide an accurate picture of our true trajectory. While the media may overplay the negative news about human well-being or at least give the wrong impression, it vastly underplays the damage that human dominance has inflicted on the biosphere. And, it reliably ignores the relationship between continual growth in consumption and population and that damage.

As I have written previously, the definition of “world” is crucial in the phrase “the world is getting better.” Most of the cheerleaders for our current system focus on humans alone who make up only a fraction of “the world.” Those cheerleaders fail to understand that the shortcomings of the current system will not be remedied by doing more of the same. The health of the biosphere will not get better with greater and greater emissions of  greenhouse gases or more deforestation or more soil erosion, all integral to the “progress” of humans under the current system if we’re going to keep adding population and raising living standards.

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

Fires in Arctic Ice, Exposed on Mountains of the Heart

Fires in Arctic Ice, Exposed on Mountains of the Heart

PR: Recently, the temperature in Paris rose to 108.7 F (42.6 C) surpassing the previous record by 4 F (2.2 C) set on July 28, 1947 of 104.7 F (40.4 C).

Shortly thereafter, during an email exchange with an old friend, a prominent (if the term prominent can still be applied to the professionally marginalised and culturally obscure field of psychoanalysis) Jungian analyst, I addressed this question: Do you still insist my dread pertaining to atmospherically trapped, humankind-generated greenhouse gas emissions are a, veiled in metaphor, longing for human warmth — the stuff of consulting room pathos expressed, in Jungian patois, as Puer aeternus’ (in latin, eternal boy) displaced pothos? Or I was/am highly sensitive to the earth’s (a living entity’s) suffering and I was/am psychically streaming the lament of an aspect of the pantheistic mind of the godhead (i.e., archetypal reality)? Withal, Pan would be apt to rise in the form of panic. According to Greek myth, the gods of the Olympian pantheon are amused and humanity enlivened by Pan’s earthly musks and randy proclivities. But, in our atomised time, Arcana is transubstantiated into a pixel arcade of empty sensation. The breath of the living earth has been shunted from experience thus one hyperventilates…mortified by a subliminal apprehension of the dehumanising, abysmal nature of the medium.

When the weather conditions of the planet churn in humankind inflicted chaos, what is the concomitant effect on the psychical weather systems of individuals? What essences are dispatched from the Great Soul of the implicate order to artists? For example, the canvases of Bruegel the Elder, liming in the language of dreams, the clash of status quo Catholicism and the sectarian shit-storm evoked by the Protestant Reformation?

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

Global Warming, Carbon Dioxide and the Solar Minimum

Global Warming, Carbon Dioxide and the Solar Minimum

Since Climate Change (CC) has been a constant of life on Gaia with the evolution of photosynthesis 3.2 billion years ago and has more complexities than this one essay can address; ergo, this article will explore co2’s historic contribution to global warming (GW) as well as explore the relationship of Solar Minimum(SM) to Earth’s climate.

Even before the UN-initiated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed in 1988, the common assumption was that carbon dioxide was thekey greenhouse gas and that its increases were the driving force solely responsible for rising climate temperatures.  

At that time, anthropogenic (human caused) GW was declared to be theexistential crisis of our time, that the science was settled and that we, as a civilization, were running out of time.

And yet, in the intervening years, uncertainty remained about GW’s real time impacts which may be rooted in the fact that many of IPCC’sessential climate forecasts of consequence have not materializedas predicted.  Even as the staid Economist magazine recently noted:

Over the past fifteen years, air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse gas emissions have continued to soar.” 

Before the IPCC formed, NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii registered co2 levelsat under 350 ppm (parts per million) with the explicit warning that if co2 exceeded that number, Mother Earth was in Big Trouble – and there would be no turning back for humanity.  Those alarm bells continue today as co2 levels have risen to 414 ppm as temperatures peaked in 1998.

From the outset, the IPCC controlled the debate by limiting its charter

to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

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

Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming

Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming

Photograph Source: Charles Marion Russell – Public Domain

A recent article in Arctic News on the outlook for global warming foresees a frightening scenario lurking right around the corner. Hopefully, the article’s premise of impending runaway global warming (“RGW”) is off the mark, by a lot. More to the point, off by really a lot in order to temper the sting expected when abrupt temperature increases hit hard, as projected in the article, which is entitled: “Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating.” Oh, BTW… the worst-case scenario happens within one decade!

Here’s a snippet: “… such a rise in greenhouse gas levels has historically corresponded with more than 10°C or 18°F of warming, when looking at greenhouse gas levels and temperatures over the past 800,000 years….” (Source: Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating, Arctic News, May 1, 2019)

Obviously, it goes without saying no sane person wants to believe, and likely won’t believe or accept, studies about killer temperatures locked, loaded, and ready to fire, right around the corner. That fact alone serves to christen the title “Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming.”

Furthermore, and for journalistic balance, it is important to mention that mainstream science is not warning of imminent Runaway Global Warming (“RGW”), as outlined in the Arctic News article.

Still, the article does have credibility because it is the product of academic scientists. Therefore, metaphorically speaking, one can only hope that their Ouija boards were out-of-whack, misinterpreting the data.

Alas, the Arctic News article would not be out there if only the U.S. Senate had taken seriously Dr. James Hansen’s early warnings about global warming way back in 1988. The New York Times headline d/d June 24, 1988 read: “Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate.”

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

Climate Change was No Accident

Climate Change was No Accident

Years ago, tobacco companies discovered the link between their products and lung cancer. Did they warn their customers? No — they denied the link entirely, misleading the public for decades while killing their customers.

Similarly, ExxonMobil scientists made startlingly accurate predictionsabout climate change as early as 1982 — and then spent millions of dollars on a misinformation campaign to sow public doubt about climate change.

They didn’t need to convince the public that the climate crisis wasn’t happening. They just had to muddy the waters enough to prevent us from doing anything.

They provoked uncertainty: Maybe the climate crisis isn’t happening. And even if it is, maybe it’s not caused by humans burning fossil fuels. (Of course, it is happening and it is caused by humans.)

The result was inaction.

If we aren’t even sure that a human-caused climate crisis is afoot, why should we wean ourselves off of fossil fuels? It would be highly inconvenient and very expensive to go to all of that trouble unless we’re absolutely certain that we need to.

After all, the argument went, “only” 97 percent of scientists believe that human are causing a climate crisis.

I’m a scientist. Let me tell you, when 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, the evidence must be overwhelming.

Scientists are trained to critique and argue with one another. We make our careers by pulling apart other scientists’ theories and exposing the flaws in them and then supplanting them with better theories of our own.

You couldn’t get 97 percent of scientists to agree that puppies are cute or chocolate is delicious.

What about other 3 percent? You can always find one or two nutty so-called scientists with inaccurate, fringy theories out there. There’s probably a scientist somewhere attempting to publish a study asserting that Bigfoot exists — or that climate change isn’t happening.

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

UK climate emergency is official policy

UK climate emergency is official policy

Heathrow’s expansion is now in question. Image: By J Patrick Fischer, via Wikimedia Commons

Major changes in the government’s policy on fossil fuels will be vital to tackling the UK climate emergency that Parliament has recognised.

LONDON, 3 May, 2019 − The United Kingdom has taken a potentially momentous policy decision: it says there is a UK climate emergency.

On 1 May British members of Parliament (MPs) became the world’s first national legislature to declare a formal climate and environment emergency, saying they hoped they could work with like-minded countries across the world to take action to avoid more than 1.5°C of global warming.

No-one yet knows what will be the practical result of the resolution proposed by Jeremy Corbyn, the Opposition Labour leader, but UK politicians were under pressure to act following a series of high-profile strikes by school students in recent months and demonstrations by a new climate protest organisation, Extinction Rebellion (XR),  whose supporters closed roads in the centre of London for a week.

The Conservative government ordered its MPs not to oppose the Labour resolution, and it was passed without a vote.

Zero carbon by 2050

Hours after the MPs’ decision, a long-awaited detailed report by the government’s official advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, was published. It recommends cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The current target is 80%.

The report says the government should accept the new target immediately, pass it into law in the next few months and begin to implement policies to achieve it. The committee says that will mean the end of petrol and diesel cars on British roads, a cut in meat consumption, an end to gas boilers for heating buildings, planting 1.5 billion trees to store carbon, a vast increase in renewable energy, and many other measures.

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

Arctic Permafrost No Longer Freezes … Even in Winter

Arctic Permafrost No Longer Freezes … Even in Winter

Global warming is starting to hit hard like there’s no tomorrow, and at current rates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, there may not be a tomorrow, as emissions continue setting new records year-by-year, expected to hit a 62-year record in 2019. So much for the Paris 2015 climate agreement!

The most sensitive areas to global warming, (1) the Arctic (almost all of its multi-year ice, or old ice, is gone- already melted), and (2) East Antarctica, the coldest spot in the planet… strangely melting, and (3) Siberian ground that “no longer freezes in winter” are three occurrences that should keep world leaders up late into the night, blankly staring at the ceiling.

In fact, over the past couple of decades global warming has groomed ultra-dangerous climate upheavals that could destroy sizeable swaths of civilization. But how soon remains an open question?

Moreover, there are several ecosystem flashpoints with enough potential to massively destroy large segments of life right now, which, in fact, is already happening in real time, and scientifically documented, with nearly total loss of arthropods in the tropical rain forests of Mexico and Puerto Rico as a result of excessive global warming, which can destroy populations of arthropods by inhibiting reproduction and disorienting internal organ functionality (Climate-Driven Declines in Arthropod Abundance Restructure a Rainforest Food Web, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

According to the scientists that conducted the 40-year rainforests studies in Mexico and Puerto Rico, rainforests temperatures exceeded the dreaded 2° C post-industrial guardrail (Maybe the IPCC is on to something by insisting the world must not allow temps to exceed 2° C, post-industrial).

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

Yes, The Paris Climate Agreement Sucks

Yes, The Paris Climate Agreement Sucks

Image Created by L.tak

The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 was a big deal as 195 nations agreed to take steps to mitigate global temperatures to +2°C, but preferably +1.5°C, post-industrial or over the past 250 years. When temperatures exceed those levels, all hell breaks loose with our precious life-support ecosystems.

Today, we’re already more than halfway to that first temperature guardrail but accelerating fast. Problematically, the latency effect of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions impacting global temperature is several years; similarly, a household oven turned to 450°F doesn’t immediately go to 450°F. Earth’s atmosphere, similar to that oven, takes time (years and years) to respond to GHGs that essentially turn up its thermostat.

Implementation of Paris ‘15, however, is another matter. With four years of hindsight, the original Paris Agreement appears to be nothing more than “hope springs eternal.”

The 2015 compilation of 195 signatories (subsequently 197) to the UNFCCC Paris Agreement was a great PR event. And, it was a very good wake up call regarding the seriousness, and dangers, of climate change. However, looking back at its origins, it was DOA.

For starters, ever since the ink dried, CO2 emissions have gone up and are now accelerating, as fossil fuel usage had its largest increase in seven years in 2018, prompting the prestigious Met Office Hadley Center/UK to issue a strong warning: “During 2019, Met Office climate scientists expect to see one of the largest rises in atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentration in 62 years.”

Thus, on the heels the of Paris ’15 Agreement, CO2 emissions took a short breather but then took off and never looked back. In fact, the largest increase since 1957. Counter-intuitively, the Paris ’15 Agreement, unbeknownst to participants at the time, somehow (mysteriously) served to launch accelerating CO2 emissions.

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

World may hit 56m year carbon level by 2159

World may hit 56m year carbon level by 2159

Next stop the Pole? Crocodiles were once common in Arctic waters. Image: By Balaji Malliswamy on Unsplash

Long ago the polar ice vanished and tropical animals swam the Arctic. Greenhouse gases could reach that 56m year carbon level again in 140 years.

LONDON, 26 February, 2019 – Humankind could be about to open the throttle on greenhouse gas emissions and revert to a 56m year carbon level – to a world with a global temperature marked by ice-free poles and crocodiles in the waters of the Arctic.

And it could happen by the year 2159 – just five human generations or 140 years from now.

By then, if humans go on burning ever-greater quantities of fossil fuels to underwrite ever-accelerating destruction of forests, wetlands and savannahs, they will have pumped into the atmosphere about as much carbon as accumulated during a geological period called the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a dramatic global warming event that reached its peak 56 million years ago.

The long-ago warming event occurred naturally, and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere happened over a timespan of between 3,000 and 20,000 years.

The present sprint from a cool to an uncomfortably warm state will have happened in fewer than 300 years, because greenhouse gases from coal, oil and natural gas fumes are building up in the atmosphere nine or 10 times faster than in the PETM, according to a new study in the American Geophysical Union journal Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.

“You and I won’t be here in 2159, but that’s only about four generations away,” said Philip Gingerich, of the University of Michigan and author of the new study. “When you start to think about your children and your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren, you’re about there.”

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

Cities muscle up

Cities muscle up 

Action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to tackle climate change can be organised more rapidly and have greater impact when it’s taken at the local level.  Communities are urging their elected officials on municipal councils to introduce and implement measures to transition to renewable sources of energy, curb emissions of greenhouse gases, reduce waste, and  improve energy efficiency in buildings.

The latest reports from the United Nations released in 2018 have confirmed that the world is still on course for catastrophic climate change caused by the continuing emissions of greenhouse gases.  Already this year, several international agencies have confirmed that average global temperatures in 2018 were the fourth highest ever recorded. The years from 2014 to 2018 rank as the warmest 5 years on record, and 9 of the 10 warmest years in the last century have occurred since 2005.  

Although over 190 governments committed to reducing their emissions in order to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement target of keeping global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, last year’s Emissions Gap Report clearly shows that these commitments are inadequate. It’s anyone’s guess where global temperatures will be at the end of the century: probably at least 3°C higher, but even 6°C higher is within the realm of possibility. 

It’s therefore perhaps not surprising that more people, especially younger people, are taking more direct and confrontational action. A group called Extinction Rebellion in the UK has disrupted London’s parliament and draped dramatic messages on bridges across the Thames; school children in Europe have taken to going on strike; and protests against pipelines are growing in intensity across the US and Canada. Getting arrested for protesting against what many people believe is an existential threat is increasingly seen as a legitimate and moral course of action.      

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

Human carbon emissions to rise in 2019

Human carbon emissions to rise in 2019

Tropical forests continue to suffer devastation. Image: By ViniLowRaw on Unsplash

Here comes another dismal science forecast, with human carbon emissions due to rise this year. Forests may be unable to keep pace as global warming increases.

LONDON, 31 January, 2019 − Stand by for a year in which global warming can only get worse as human carbon emissions climb still further. British meteorologists warn that although 2018 broke all records for greenhouse gas emissions, 2019 will see even more carbon dioxide take up long-term residence in the planetary atmosphere.

And it will happen for two reasons, both of them nominally at least under human control. The overall release of carbon dioxide from power stations, factory chimneys, cement quarries, car exhausts and so on will continue to rise with fossil fuel combustion, even though there has been greater investment than ever in renewable resources such as wind and solar energy.

And those natural “sinks” that absorb extra carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it as living timber in the forests, or bones and shells in the oceans, are expected to under-perform.

This is largely because of natural cyclic variation in the tropical climate, but also partly because humans continue to degrade grasslands and fell or burn the forests that naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and return oxygen for the animal world to breathe.

Hawaii’s unique record

Climate scientists know what is going to happen because they can see the future already written in a unique 60-year-old cycle of data recorded high on a mountaintop in Hawaii, in the Pacific, far from any heavy industry or city pollution that might distort the local chemistry of the atmosphere.

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

Rising Sea Levels – by How Much, and Why? A Current Commentary.

Rising Sea Levels – by How Much, and Why? A Current Commentary.

The following was published in the journal Science Progress recently, of which I am an editor. Since this blog typically covers issues of environment and energy, I am including the present topic, which I hope will be of interest to its regular readers, and indeed to anyone else with concerns about the direction of “the changing climate”.

Introduction.

The term “sea level rise” normally refers to an increase in the global mean sea level (GMSL), caused by an increase in the volume of water in the Earth’s oceans, primarily as a result of thermal expansion, the addition of further water  from the melting of land-based ice sheets and glaciers, and  to a  smaller degree from changes in land-water storage, including the transfer of groundwater that has been pumped from aquifers1. As measured on the local scale (Section 4), sea levels may be higher or lower than the global mean value, as a result of various factors, including land subsidence, glacial rebound, tectonic effects, and the influence of currents, local temperatures, winds, tides, storms, and variations in  local barometric pressure2 among  the particular locations where the measurements are  being made. There is strong evidence that the GMSL is increasing, and as a result of long response times from various components of the climate system, this  process may continue over the course of centuries3. It has been estimated that more than half of the observed sea level rise during the 20thcentury was due to global warming4. According to satellite altimetry measurements, the GMSL is currently5,6 increasing by 3.2 ± 0.4 mm yr-1, which is about double the rate determined to have prevailed throughout the 20th century6,…

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

Carbon Crossroads: Can Germany Revive Its Stalled Energy Transition?

A wind turbine operating next to the Niederaussem coal-fired power plant near Bergheim, Germany.

A wind turbine operating next to the Niederaussem coal-fired power plant near Bergheim, Germany. LUKAS SCHULZE/GETTY IMAGES

Carbon Crossroads: Can Germany Revive Its Stalled Energy Transition?

Although Germany has been a global leader in moving to decarbonize its massive economy, the country’s ambitious clean-energy transformation is faltering. Now, a broad spectrum of energy experts are working to revitalize the effort to make Germany nearly carbon-free by mid-century.

Northern Germany, from the Polish borderlands in the east to the Netherlands in the west, is the stronghold of Germany’s muscular onshore wind power industry. This is where the lion’s share of the country’s nearly 30,000 wind turbines are sited, a combined force equal to the power generation of about 10 nuclear reactors. Where Germany’s northernmost tip abuts Denmark, soaring turbines crowd the horizon as far as the eye can see. And many more are coming as Germany strives to go carbon neutral by 2050.

Yet despite their impressive might, the north’s wind parks are a reminder not only of how much has been accomplished in Germany’s Energiewende, or clean energy transition, but also of what remains to be done. Although the country has made a Herculean effort to shift to a clean energy economy — in just the past five years government support and costs to consumers have totaled an estimated 160 billioneuros ($181 billion) — Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions have not declined as rapidly as expected in response to the vigorous expansion of renewable energy, which now generates 40 percent of the country’s electricity. Germany’s politicians are even resigned to falling significantly short of the country’s 2020 goal of reducing emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Germany’s failings have come as a vexing shock to its environmentally conscious citizenry. While Germans still overwhelmingly back the energy transition — for years polls showed support in excess of 90 percent — about three-quarters say the government is not doing enough to slow global warming.

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

Is This The Answer To Global Warming?

Is This The Answer To Global Warming?

Globe

In my previous article – Indisputable Facts On Climate Change – I addressed some of the things we know to be true as it relates to carbon dioxide and global temperatures. Note that I didn’t try to connect any number of potential threads, nor make dire predictions. My article was based on facts, period.

In today’s article, I want to take another step and address the stakes, according to a recent report on global warming. But mostly I will focus on potential methods for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or for preventing it from entering the atmosphere.

The Stakes Are High

In October 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a Special Report on Global Warming. The report reiterated the urgent need to limit rising global temperatures but admitted that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

Various agreements, such as the 1992 Kyoto Protocol, have had some success in curbing regional carbon dioxide emissions in developed countries. However, global emissions continued to rise. More recently, the 196 parties attending the 21st yearly Climate Change Conference (COP 21) negotiated the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature rise to “well below 2 °Celsius” compared to pre-industrial levels.

This week – three years later – the COP 24 convenes in Poland from December 3rd-14th. Attendees will tout measures aimed at reining in carbon dioxide emissions, but multiple agencies, such as the International Energy Agency’s (IEA), have warned that even if the pledges made as part of the 2015 Paris Accord are enacted into binding laws, it doesn’t go nearly far enough to meet the global temperature target.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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