Posts Tagged Energy
Read this: One of the problems in staying on track to move away from fossil fuels is that they are a commodity and their price can and will fluctuate. We tend to try to justify any changes we make by some financial means. For some issues and policies this makes a lot of sense and may be the only way to move forward. When it comes to climate change, the role of fossil fuel and their periodic fluctuations, their price can no longer be the driving justification. If science is correct and somewhere near 97% of scientists think it is, then we must aggressively move away from fossil fuels as fast and aggressively as possible. We may already be too late.
The article below by The Union of Concerned Scientists, says: “Fossil fuel prices will always fluctuate depending on supply and demand, and … low prices tend to lull consumers and policy makers into complacency. When gasoline costs as little as $2 a gallon, savings from driving a more efficient vehicle are reduced and it is harder for cleaner fuels to compete with fossil fuels. (On the bright side, low gas prices have forced producers to abandon some of their most damaging fossil fuel projects, such as drilling in the Arctic Ocean and making further investments in tar sands.)” The article goes on to emphasize that change must “establish strong standards that ensure progress on low-carbon fuels, zero-emissions vehicles, fuel economy and renewable electricity”. State and federal clean fuels programs must “require producers to make transportation fuels cleaner every year” as is being done in California and Oregon. This must continue in spite of temporary reductions in the costs of fossil fuels. This will be difficult as those on the right try to justify only by fiscal means. Our leaders must continually push the message that we are doing the right thing even when it may be less comfortable otherwise the only message we will hear will be the propaganda that flows from Big Fossil Fuel and Wall Street. This is a real challenge of democracy and its’ ability to do the right thing when it is most difficult.
The article and Senior Scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Vehicles Program, Jeremy Martin focus on the impact of bio fuels and fuel policy, which are definitely important parts of the overall effort. However, I must admit, I feel the article didn’t adequately emphasize the urgency in which change needs to occur. Like so many discussions of any kind of change, it seemed to assume a very gradual process. That’s not acceptable as we annually shatter “hottest year ever” records world wide.
Read this: The link below, to an article from the Union of Concerned Scientists, examines perceived progress on climate change issues made by the American Petroleum Institute, and it is not good. In the API’s latest annual report on energy in the U.S. they almost completely ignore climate change and any real discussion of alternative energy sources. “Last year’s API report … was notable—for some, even praiseworthy—because of its inclusiveness, technology-wise. API gave space to a host of organizations to talk about a range of low-carbon energy options, including solar, wind, and energy efficiency … and the word “solar” appeared 79 times.” Since then something seemed to changed. The “API just merged with America’s Natural Gas Alliance, but that move seems to actually have narrowed their vision, not broadened it.” Last year it seemed the API was on the right track, regarding climate change, only needing to get more focused and aggressive, but, that would be too much to hope for. Insterad, the “2016 State of American Energy report … focuses pretty much exclusively on oil and natural gas (and… voting for oil and gas). Any discussion of climate change is suspiciously absent, and carbon reductions show up in the report in only one sentence, one that gives credit for recent reductions to—you guessed it—natural gas.” None of this was unexpected. “Unfortunately, API’s history on climate change is mostly one of deception. API earned a starring role in our (Union of Concerned Scientists) recent Climate Deception Dossiers report because of its efforts over many years to help deceive the public about climate science and solutions.”
The battle over climate change has a long way to go. As this article points out, even as we make progress (COM21) there will be corresponding setbacks like this API change of heart. The battle goes on and we must not relent.
Read this: Once again, a news story you need to search for when it should be unavoidable. The rupture at Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site in Southern CA. “It’s the climate equivalent of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: the rupture of a natural gas storage site in California that is spewing vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere and is likely to go unchecked for three months.” The industries’ solution: make the story go away, then deal with the problem, maybe. The leak occurred on 10-23-15, but we sure haven’t heard much about it. Naturally, the resulting assumption ends up being that it must not have been much of a problem. However, the reality of this breach, near Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley is not small. It’s consequences are alarming:
- It “has forced the relocation of hundreds of families, who complained of headaches, nosebleeds and nausea from the rotten-egg smell of the odorant added to the gas to aid in leak detection.”
- The leak “now accounts for at least a quarter of California’s emissions of methane – a far more powerful climate-altering gas than carbon dioxide.”
- “Already, the ruptured storage facility has released well over the equivalent of 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide – about the same amount that would be generated by driving 160,000 cars for a year, according to the California Air Resources Board.”
- “Methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a climate-altering gas, in the short-term.” And this one is big
“The time lag and the scale of the breach brought immediate comparisons to BP’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11, caused lasting environmental damage to the marine wildlife and environment, and took three months to bring under control.” Excuses abound regarding the difficulty of plugging the leak as well as determining any realistic timetable. Consensus is “plugging the well won’t be quick.” This kind of reckless use of our environment by the fossil fuels industry must stop and coverage of these problems must be diligent and accurate. We have to make it so this industry cannot afford to chance these mistakes and that doesn’t even deal with the main problem, climate change. Read the entire article from The Guardian, by Suzanne Goldenberg for more details.
Sign the petition: Surprising everyone, “TransCanada has asked the US Government to suspend its application for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.” Sounds great, but what you need to know is that this not the end of the battle. They have merely put things on hold, hoping for a Republican presidential victory. They don’t want to give Obama the opportunity to say no before he leaves office. If the Republicans win the White House in 2016 they will simply reapply and their chances for approval would look much better. We need to ask Obama to do what is right and do it now. We must be diligent and we can’t relax.
Sign the petiton now, telling “President Obama: It’s past time to get this done. Reject this request for a suspension, and reject the pipeline once and for all.”
Read this: In this article in The Nation Magazine Tara Lohan tells us that “Americans are switching to Renewable Energy … because it’s actually cheaper”. This goes completely against the rhetoric on most media and particularly the discussions we have with folks on the conservative (non science) side. One significant indicator is the abundance of “idled drilling rigs usually at work plumbing for oil” across the nation. “By the end of July, the nationwide rig count had slipped 54 percent since the same time a year ago, indicating distress in the oil and gas industry. The most obvious culprit is the precipitous drop in crude prices. But the trouble goes deeper.” As fossil fuel prices continue to drop “well below the $100 mark. Tens of thousands of jobs have already been cut, and some debt-laden companies may go belly up.” This is the part of the story covered by most of the media but there is another part harder to find. Not mentioned is the fact that “solar and wind have been surging. Renewables have been relegated to the sidelines of our energy priorities, a small blip in our electric generating capacity each year, but that is changing.” As the organization 350.org professes, we can’t continue to follow this path to destruction and they are supported in voicing the alarm. “Scientists have repeatedly warned that if we continue to burn fossil fuels with our current abandon, we risk catastrophic climate impacts, some of which we are already beginning to see. Instead, they caution, much of our oil, gas, and coal reserves should stay in the ground.” The fossil fuel industry faces many problems: sustainability, production costs, image and the environment. A recent “crunch of the numbers on more than 20 US shale operators … found that the companies had been cash-flow-negative since 2009.” While this has been happening the “companies (are) taking on high levels of debt, including $120 billion in high-risk, high-yield bonds. JP Morgan’s estimate of the default rate for these junk bonds is nearly 4 percent this year and will be a whopping 20 percent next year, if crude prices remain around $65 a barrel. “While this is all going on there are places such as “the Texas city of Georgetown announced plans to ditch gas and coal for electricity generation in favor wind and solar.” Although “renewables still account for a small percentage of overall US electricity generation—13 … some states are showing that much greater exploitation of renewables is indeed possible.” Look at California, which has “become the first state to get more than 5 percent of its electricity from utility-scale solar.” Looks like things are changing. Read the entire article below for more details.
Bernie’s Solar Act of 2015
| Sign the petition: Solar energy is a rapidly expanding part of our move toward renewable energy. This petition, created by Credo, is attempting to gain support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Low Income Solar Act of 2015, which has been recently submitted in the Senate. “Today, solar energy is more affordable than it’s ever been, and is now the fastest growing source of energy in the U.S. But it’s still out of reach for a large percentage of Americans who can’t afford the cost of installation, can’t qualify for financing, or who are renters and don’t have appropriate rooftop access to install solar panels.” His bill takes targets the obstacles faced by the poor, renters, etc. It will “take direct aim at this problem by directly issuing grants for solar installation to low income homeowners with suitable rooftops, while connecting other households, like renters, with alternatives like community solar gardens which offer solar power access through a shared solar system.” Please sign the petition.Today, out of the 645,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels, less than 5 percent are households earning less than $40,000.