Sept 2011 newsletter

Good News – Bad News:  First the Grim – just to get it out of the way

► ENERGY Projections: Renewables is only 15% in 25 yrs —  Coal & Nat Gas & Oil Rule – What the heck will we do?

Capture CO2 from Utilities that burn coal or Nat Gas; and Build off shore wind and utility scale solar ;  Panic..


►Will  natural gas save us since burning emits less CO2 than coal?    —–Sadly No ! 

The following link compares the finding from two studies ( Cornell University and another from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) )  regarding the GHG emissions from Nat gas vs Coal from an climate change perspective.  I urge you to read the abstract….

The conclusions are in line with T. Wigley computer model study:   Shifting from coal to natural gas would have limited impacts on climate, new research indicates. If methane leaks from natural gas operations could be kept to 2.5% or less, the increase in global temperatures would be reduced ONLY by about 0.1 degree Celsius by 2100. The reduction in global temperatures would be more minor with higher methane leakage rates.

SO: Utilities must either capture CO2 or move to Renewables;  IF we have any hope….


This process would only be successful IF the net amount of energy (measure as CO2 & all Green house gas emissions)  used to do this ( & make the chemicals,  dispose of the concentrated CO2 ,etc)  is LESS  than the CO2 captured.   The article does not say but  I am willing to go out on a limb;   that the probability of  emitting less CO2 than they  capture is remote – almost nil.

In addition the cost to do this is prohibitive.  Much more expensive than  solar or wind and probably more expensive than nuclear.


►Giant red crabs invade the Antarctic abyss (What will migrate to Pa? – Fire ants?  More mosquitos?    Texans?  )


Huge crabs more than 3 ft across have invaded the Antarctic abyss, wiped out the local wildlife and now threaten to ruin ecosystems that have evolved over 14 million years.

Three years ago, researchers predicted that as the deep waters of the Southern Ocean warmed, king crabs would invade Antarctica within 100 years.

But video taken by a remotely operated submersible shows that more than a million Neolithodes yaldwyni have already colonised Palmer Deep, a basin that forms a hollow in the Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf.

They are laying waste to the landscape. Craig Smith of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, whose team discovered the scarlet invaders.   They now occupy the deepest regions of Palmer Deep.. The best long-term solution? To slow the rate of global warming, says Smith.

►FEMA stresses climate change impacts a THIRD time

How many times does a federal agency have to say something before it is taken seriously?  Apparently, three times over multiple decades may not be enough.  Recently, a New York Times article titled “Flood-Prone Land Likely to Increase by 45% — a Major Challenge to Federal Insurance Program” detailed the pending release of a Federal Emergency Management Agency study prompting policymakers to consider the need to “incorporate the effects of climate change more directly into various aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program”.


Accounting for future changes due to rising global temperatures is characterized as a “major policy change” for a program that has traditionally relied on historical flood levels.  The FEMA report argues that climate change is responsible for 70 percent of the flood plain increase. The remaining 30 percent stems from increased development.  ( More energy in = more storms out)


Finally  Good (not so bad) News:

►Canada has ‘massive’ store of geothermal Energy:

VANCOUVER — A “massive” store of clean, renewable energy is sitting at Canadians’ feet, according to a federal report on geothermal energy.

Tapping into hot rocks that are tantalizingly close to the surface in western and northern Canada could generate more electricity than the entire country now consumes and generate few greenhouse gas emissions, says the report by a team of 12 scientists led by Stephen Grasby at the federal Geological Survey of Canada.

“As few as 100 projects could meet Canada’s energy needs,” according to the team’s findings.  The 322-report suggests the clean, renewable source of energy could be a game-changer.  “Canada’s in-place geothermal power exceeds one million times Canada’s current electrical consumption.”


► Ski in Slush ? : Auden Schendler, Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company and a board member of

To the extent that the ski industry has worried about climate change at all, the concern has almost always focused on potential (and in Europe, real) loss of snow. In fact, that has been my concern in the past. And “environmental action” as defined by the industry has meant operational greening: retrofits and solar panels. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that environmentalism in the ski industry ($6B), if we really mean it, means stopping climate change at its root. And the real climate threat to the ski industry is most likely to come in rather unexpected shapes and sizes: either, in the current case, through the massive infrastructure damage caused by superstorms, floods, fires and droughts  or from the economic impact of climate change on people’s lives, which will prevent them, and their communities, from even thinking about skiing.

The upshot of all this is the following point: if we ski resort operators care about environment and sustainability, the ski industry’s number one priority should not be operational greening, but to mobilize its substantial and high profile political and lobbying power, as well as its celebrity and huge reach, to create political action on climate change.


►British To Test Geoengineering Scheme: 

Can a garden hose to the stratosphere really keep the planet cool?

In October, British researchers supported by the U.K. government will attempt to pump water a kilometer into the air using little more than a helium balloon and a rubber hose. The experiment, which will take place at a military airfield along England’s east coast, is meant as a test of a proposed geoengineering technique for offsetting the warming effects of greenhouse gases.

The scheme, called SPICE (stratospheric particle injection for climate engineering), is one of several proposed geoengineering methods under study. In this case, the idea is that particles injected into the stratosphere would reflect a small percentage of the sun’s energy back into space, thereby cooling the planet. The concept seeks to mimic the cooling effect of volcanoes.  (Hmm – it won’t stop oceans from Acidity  & Side effects?)


►  GOOD COMPANY: BASF’s ‘eco’ efforts rewarded

BASF is one of the world’s top companies in terms of tackling climate change and reporting carbon footprint, according to the not-for-profit Carbon Disclosure Project.

It was selected to appear in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) because of the transparent and comprehensive way in which it discloses its carbon emissions data.

BASF was also chosen to be listed on the Carbon Performance Leadership Index (CPLI) because of its climate protection strategy and commitment to carbon reduction.

BASF has reduced its emissions per tonne of sales product since 2002 by almost 29%.

►Scientific American 3-part series on climate change

June 28-30:


Finally:  We did Not make these Up !

√German Solar Mfgs (& US)  in Renewable Energy ‘War’ With China:   

Solarworld AG, Germany’s largest module maker, plans to close a factory to cut costs and compete against Chinese manufacturers that its chief executive officer says are subsidized by the state.   Competing against Chinese producers that receive financial assistance from the government isn’t “fair,” CEO Asbeck said, such as two loan facilities worth $713 million that GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. received yesterday from state-run China Development Bank Corp.   “It’s not about a free market or good products anymore, it’s about who gets the most political protection,” Asbeck said in an interview. “That’s not even industrial politics anymore. That’s war.” Loans such as the one GCL received are “direct subsidies” from the Chinese government, Asbeck said. “These guys get money practically for free.”  (like $30 Billion in the last few yrs).

√  Michigan Republican Fred Upton, chairman of the committee leading the investigation into the failed loan guarantee, who was an early backer of the policy. In 2007, he proposed adding $4 billion more to the loan guarantee program in order to help build new nuclear facilities.   No nuclear facility would get built in this country if it weren’t for loan guarantees and government-backed insurance

√ Clemson University’s new Drive Train Testing Facility, will be a one-of-a-kind world class facility to test the industry’s demand for large wind turbines up to 15 megawatt (MW). The larger turbines are likely destined to be developed for offshore wind farms. Commercially available offshore wind turbines currently top out around 5 MW

U.S. coal companies have pumped $1.5 million into House Speaker John Boehner’s political operation this year, a sign of the industry’s beefed-up efforts to fight new and proposed regulations from the Obama administration.  The coal industry now ranks as one of the top sources of cash for the Ohio Republican.

√Halliburton Sues BP Over Deepwater Crisis

NEW ORLEANS — BP has engaged in a “cover up scheme” to hide its culpability for the deadly rig explosion that spawned last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the oil giant’s partners in the drilling project claims in a newly filed lawsuit.

Halliburton, which did cement work on BP’s Macondo well, claims in Thursday’s suit that BP provided false information about the location of pockets of oil and gas around the well before the blowout. Halliburton says knowing the location of those zones is critical for a cementing job.

“Profit and greed” were BP’s motives for concealing the information, the lawsuit alleges. Halliburton says it likely would have insisted on redesigning the well’s production casing if it had known about an additional hydrocarbon zone that BP allegedly failed to disclose.


One of the most effective things we can do is to call our Elected representatives: . You don’t need to know the bill name or be an expert ; – just say  your opinion.   You can be sure the Flat earth people call frequently.     A staff member will answer the phone. It’s their job to take calls from constituents, so don’t be shy. To make the most impact, make it personal. EG:  I am concerned about climate change;    Please follow the Science ;   We need to take action… Senator Robert Casey: (202) 224-6324

Senator Pat Toomey: (202) 224-4254   These calls really have an Impact…


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