May 2019 Newsletter

MAY 2019 Newsletter

The Goal: Zero Global Green House Gases by 2050 

Editorial comments from Bill; feel free to comment

  1. My wife & I wish to buy an EV but don’t like tiny cars; we are willing to install home charger but concerned not enough chargers on the roads thus long trips seem to be a hassle – it takes longer to charge than fill with gasoline; Tesla chargers can only be used by ;  If you live in condo/ apt, charging would be tough. CA has chargers at many shopping malls. Have yet to see any in shopping malls in PA. 
  2. Tough Issue: Is fail safe nuclear part of the solution ?

That is the wrong question. First, let us define the climate risk issues; then compare those risks & their magnitude to risks from various solutions:  Accept that There are always trade offs. But GHGs Must go to zero.  

First:  Climate Chaos: Terrible impacts to every life form on land & in the sea (acidification & hotter waters). Examples: forests /trees dying due to heat and droughts punctuated with heavy rains; large crop failures; every coral reef dead; every polar bear – dead; many mammals & primates – dead; & retreat from Atlantic and Pacific coasts; huge migrations of poor people fleeing north to escape the heat & crop failures.  High risk to bottom of food chain -phyto & zoo-plankton & more extreme storms, fires. Hmm- sounds fun.  

  •  All caused by burning natural gas and coal & gas/ diesel fuels
  • Now, compare these impacts to the risks from nuclear power or Crisper biology for drought tolerant crops or trees to suck up CO2.
  • I find that the risks from Climate change chaos substantially over rule virtually every other concern from potential solutions.  This does not mean we should abandon good judgement, sound science, safety factors & economics. BUT – a runaway train is rushing right at our families.

–         One possible outcome: Until methane or H2 made from renewable or very low carbon energy or bio sources is cost effective & readily available; then Small fail safe Modular Reactors could power high energy end uses such as Cement mfg; desalinization; steel mfg & various chemical processes & techniques to suck CO2 from the atmosphere in attempt to return to 400 parts/million.

VOTE – prioritize the CLIMATE

See Informative article on energy cost:

 “The Economic Thicket of Generating Cost Comparisons” 04/01/2019; Kennedy Maize – “How much does it cost? Seems like a simple question. But when it comes to competing electric generating technologies, it’s an extremely gnarly proposition….”

**** Oops – breaking news: These actions only prolong the life of natural gas and oil companies and burning of their fuels.….Warren Buffett is getting involved in a rare bidding war unfolding in the energy industry. Berkshire Hathaway has committed a $10 billion preferred stock investment in Occidental Petroleum contingent on the company completing its proposed takeover of Anadarko Petroleum. Last week, Occidental made a rival bid for the oil and gas driller, challenging  Chevron’s $33 billion buyout of Anadarko

Impacts:* Greenland’s great ice loss

The rate of ice loss from Greenland’s ice sheet has increased sharply in the past several decades with an almost six fold increase;  a new study published in the Proceeds of the National Academy of Sciences. Loss from the planet’s second-largest ice sheet was contributing 51 billion tons of ice to the ocean from 1980 to 1990, and between 2010 to 2018, that spiked to 286 billion tons, “Greenland lies in a zone of the Arctic that has warmed by more than 2 C or, in some regions, even 4C above preindustrial levels.”

* A warming Arctic, another exhausted polar bear

By Dawn Stover, April 22, 2019

Polar bears hunt for food, mostly seals, from sea

When a polar bear showed up in the Russian village of Tilichiki surprised residents threw fish to the “exhausted” animal. Climate change likely forced the bear to look for food hundreds of miles from its normal habitat, but it’s possible the bear simply got stranded on a drifting ice floe. While not as gut-wrenching as the video of a dying bear that went viral in 2017, the video of the Russian bear shows an animal that “can barely move” by the time it swims to shore.

Surface air temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the rest of the globe. For the past five years, they have broken all previous records since 1900. Arctic warming is not only melting the sea ice on which polar bears depend, but also shortening the season during which they can hunt for seals and accumulate the fat they need to make it through the ice-free summer.

Making matters even worse, National Geographic reports that seals and other animals eaten by bears are themselves dependent on a food chain that has at its foundation tiny organisms called zooplankton that feed on sea-ice algae. Like soil in a forest, the report says, sea ice appears to be essential to the Arctic ecosystem. Impacts on zooplankton would be catastrophic.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for 2019 on March 13. This year tied with 2007 for the seventh-lowest maximum since the center began collecting satellite data 40 years ago. “While this is not a record low year for the Arctic sea ice maximum extent, the last four years have been the lowest in our record, reflecting a downward trend in winter sea ice extent,” said NSIDC senior research scientist Walt Meier. “This is just another indicator of the rapid changes that are occurring in the Arctic due to climate change.”

The animation of global sea ice area is nice but it does NOT give a true picture of what’s important. There will always be ice at both poles, but the area or extent is not as important as the fact that it’s getting way thinner and losing volume in the Arctic, the area of the globe that is warming the most. The Death Spiral graphic shows volume shrinkage not just area shrinking.

  • Polar Warning: Even Antarctica’s Coldest Region Is Starting to Melt   East Antarctica is the coldest spot on earth, long thought to be untouched by warming. But now the glaciers and ice shelves in this frigid region are showing signs of melting, a development that portends dramatic rises in sea levels this century and beyond. BY NICOLA JONES  MARCH 28, 2019
  • Cape Town Water Crisis:  A warning .. scary 13 min video. ……….Think humans & animals fleeing to America
  • The Great Barrier Reef is being battered by climate change, and it might only get worse
  • “It’s not something that might happen in the future. It’s unfolding right now,” the study’s lead author says.

The Great Barrier Reef  By Brady Dennis

The damage caused in recent years to the Great Barrier Reef by ocean heat waves has compromised the massive reef’s ability to recover, and climate change could make the problem more severe in the future, according to research published Wednesday.

The world’s largest coral reef, which stretches for more than 1,400 miles off the coast of Australia, has suffered four mass “bleaching” events driven by above-average sea temperatures over the past two decades, including back-to-back episodes in 2016 and 2017.

Scientists studying the reef’s capacity to bounce back from those episodes detailed a disheartening set of findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday. Climate change, which has caused extreme heat stress on some reefs, has severely hindered the reef’s ability to heal, they found.

“The replenishment ability of the reef has been diminished,” Terry Hughes, the study’s lead author and director of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Queensland, said in an interview. “Our study shows that [corals] are pretty much struggling to cope with rapid-fire bleaching events.”

Hughes said the researchers’ findings center on a key reality: Dead corals don’t make babies. Coral bleaching occurs when corals lose their color after the symbiotic algae that live in coral cells and provide them with nutrients are expelled because of heat stress. The longer this state of stress lasts, the less likely corals will recover. So scientists tend to distinguish between moderate bleaching, which can be managed, and severe bleaching, which can kill corals and leave surviving corals more vulnerable to disease and other threats.

Liar, liar pants on Fire: Are EVs worse than Gasoline?

First the original article.  “According to the study directed by Christoph Buchal of the University of Cologne, in Munich last week, electric vehicles have “significantly higher CO2 emissions than diesel cars.” That is due to the significant amount of energy used in the mining and processing of lithium, cobalt, and manganese, which are critical raw materials for electric car batteries.” NOTE: The comments from deniers are fascinating. These deniers were ecstatic and made many unsupported over the top derogatory comments about climate change and EVs. But they were & the link was wrong.. .. 

New corrected link:

Turns out electric cars have lower env impacts and lower green house emissions over the lifetime cradle to grave; but you need to recycle the batteries or their components. I have supplied the links I found below..  

1. Electric vehicle life cycle analysis and raw material availability LCA_briefing_final.pdf  ..  October 2017

2. Life Cycle Analysis of Electric Vehicles Quantifying the Impact

Prepared by: Balpreet Kukreja, UBC Sustainability Scholar, 2018 Prepared for: Adrian Cheng, Equipment Services, City of Vancouver August 2018


3. Effects of battery manufacturing on electric vehicle life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions


Porter is a paleoclimatologist and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga. On that day in 2013 , Porter and a small team drilled for core samples. Using a diamond-tipped drill, they spun and melted their way into the permafrost.

The team could only drill about a metre at a time, pulling out each piece that was seven centimetres in diameter, and quickly putting it in a cooler. In all, they drilled five metres deep. In those five metres was 13,600 years of Yukon history.


The research on those cores was published last week in the journal Nature Communications. Porter and his team were able to show that Yukon summer temperatures in recent decades are the warmest they’ve ever been in the 13,600-year period. The report is just one of a series of recent studies indicating that Canada’s North is warming faster than the rest of the world. It confirms previousseparate research, but was also a groundbreaking form of permafrost analysis. The study shows the research community that, ‘Wow, look, you can do this in places that don’t have glaciers,'” said Porter.

  • “Virtually No Risk of Drilling Restrictions: – West Virginia Official Tells Fracking-Petrochemical Industry     This week, at an industry conference focused on wooing petrochemical producers to West Virginia, officials from the state and federal government made clear their support for continuing fracked shale gas extraction and petrochemical industry development near the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale.

Why should petrochemical companies build in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio? For one thing, don’t expect regulation of shale gas drilling, Michael Graney, executive director of the West Virginia Development Office.

“Contrasted to other U.S. regions, Tri-State region is industry-supportive and industry-friendly,” read a slide that Graney, who was appointed by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice in September 2018, presented to the conference. “Virtually no risk of drilling restrictions.”

 “We have earned an A from the Cato Institute in fiscal policies.

  • Scientists track Florida’s vanishing barrier reef

Paul Voosen; Science  26 Apr 2019: Bottom of Form


Around the world, warming oceans are killing coral. In Florida, Lauren Toth, a coral geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, has found that heat-induced bleaching is just the latest in a long series of insults, which have brought the reef’s growth to a standstill and left it vulnerable to erosion and rising seas. As a result, the barrier reef—the third longest in the world—is not simply dying. It appears to be vanishing. At stake is a 320-kilometer-long bulwark that protects the Keys from waves while providing habitat for fish and a lure for tourists. Recent measurements by Toth and her colleagues have confirmed that the coral is eroding, in some places by several millimeters per year. Now, she and others are surveying the entire reef to learn how fast, and where, it is being lost.

  • Citizen science shows that climate change rapidly reshaping Long Island Sound (and everywhere!)

21 March 2019. Marine Environmental Research study about long-term ecological change in eastern Long Island Sound based on data collected by Project Oceanology! This non-profit ocean literacy organization has educated middle and high school students on boat trips to nearby estuarine sites for decades. For the first time, the digitization of these data allowed their quantitative evaluation, offering insights into the abiotic and biotic changes in nearshore waters of Eastern Long Island Sound…Highlights..

  • Citizen-science observations revealed rapid warming, acidification, and dissolved oxygen loss over the past 40 years in eastern Long Island Sound
  • Otter trawl catches showed significant decreases in overall species diversity and richness
  • Cold-water adapted species (American lobster, winter flounder) decreased, but warm-water adapted species (spider crabs) increased since 1997
  • What are they thinking??  US shale on track to break another production record next month

The Energy Information Administration projected that US shale oil production will expand by approximately 80,000 barrels per day in May to hit an all-time high of 8.46 million bpd. The Permian Basin will account for more than half the growth, with output there expected to increase by 42,000 bpd to about 4.14 million bpd.

Description: Smiling face with no fill
  • Positive Items- finally :
  • David Attenborough says we are running out of time to save the planet unless urgent action is taken on climate change.  Calling for an end to the burning of fossil fuels, the veteran nature broadcaster said action must be taken to tackle global warming.    Attenborough said: “Right now we are facing our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. At the current rate of warming we risk a devastating future.”
  • Ford pumps $500 million into electric vehicle startup:  called Rivian…they recently rolled out an electric pickup truck and SUV, the deal means Ford will set about building its own new electric vehicle using Rivian technology.

Provided over 500 megawatts of baseload 100-percent renewable electricity supply.  It did so by designing pump-storage hydroelectric facilities that use only renewable energy to pump ground water from abandoned and flooded coalmines. 

 The FERC orders mean that these two 500-megawatt projects-Pennsylvania Pump Storage and Old Forge Bore Hole Reclamation-can be developed under Pennsylvania law without the need to secure a federal license under the Federal Power Act.  Federal licensure is typically costly and protracted, extending development lead times by as much as two years.  Avoiding that licensure allows REA to bring on line these two and possibly other similarly designed pump-storage generation facilities faster and at substantially lower cost.

The Bucks County-based Merchant Hydro Developers wants to convert 21 out-of-use anthracite coal mines into pumped storage facilities. When power is less expensive, intermittent wind power will be used to pump water into an upper reservoir. When energy prices rise during the middle of the day, the water will be released into the lower reservoirs of the mines, spinning turbines on the way down to generate a consistent and predictable flow of power.

  • Renewable natural gas: U.S. Gain  new renewable natural gas (RNG) project located in Springfield, Nebraska, is producing much-needed clean fuel for the transportation industry, as well as a RNG supply contract for Southern California Gas Company’s (SoCalGas) natural gas fueling station network.

 U.S. Gain is working with producers and developers on a multitude of landfill, agricultural and wastewater treatment RNG development projects—converting their waste to financially-rewarding, clean fuel. One of the most recent projects that U.S. Gain was involved in is the Sarpy County Landfill located in Springfield, Nebraska. This landfill will produce enough RNG to fuel 117 class eight trucks daily, the equivalent of displacing more than 2.3 million gallons of diesel.

RNG is methane captured from landfill, wastewater treatment plant and agricultural waste that is cleaned and conditioned to meet natural gas pipeline quality standards. Once the gas is certified for use, it can be dispensed through natural gas fueling stations as a drop-in fuel, with no changes to fueling equipment or vehicles.

  • Florida Power & Light  plans to build the world’s largest battery.. collect electricity from solar panels during the day and discharge it as needed during periods of high power demand.

 the battery, when fully charged, would be able to provide 409 megawatts of electricity for two hours, enough by FPL’s  to power about 329,000 average Florida homes.

  • FPL operates a 74.5-megawatt solar farm in Manatee and earlier this month announced plans to open a second 74.5-megawatt farm. Both will feed power into the proposed battery.
  • The battery would be larger than the battery array being developed b in Long Beach, Calif., which would be able to deliver 100 megawatts of electricity for four hours. It would also be four times larger than the battery Tesla built in South Australia in 2017.
  • BIOCHAR SEQUESTRATION: Overcoming public misperceptions that conflate pyrolysis with incineration or combustion is one obstacle to establishing a biochar project. Proposing a biomass pyrolysis plant can also elicit objections due to many of today’s bioenergy enterprises’ reliance on clear cutting and other unsustainable practices. The Biochar & Bioenergy 2019 conference (Jul 1 -3, Ft. Collins, CO), will showcase how adaptation to a problem generated by climate change can also lead to mitigation. 

Many western U.S. forests experiencing widespread disease are turning from carbon sinks into carbon sources. BANR starts by harvesting beetle-kill trees, saving surrounding stands from infestation, as well as saving biochar – a coproduct of biofuel and energy production. By using dead and diseased trees, this approach removes a carbon source and avoids incurring the carbon debt that accrues from harvesting live trees, which can take 90 years or more to recoup.

Clearly, we need quicker payoff periods than several decades when interrupting carbon’s natural cycle for the purpose of sequestering it. EG: Miscanthus, a wild bioenergy crop that can be harvested year after year and does well on marginal land (Eastern Siberia, for example), would have a short-term carbon debt and promises to be carbon-negative in a full accounting.

While miscanthus and other rapidly regrowing grasses such as phragmites are often loathed for their invasive nature, appreciation of their carbon sequestration capacity has led to more acceptance of them as another one of nature’s adaptations that we can leverage as a climate solution. Possibly even better from a biodiversity standpoint, mixed species of prairie grasses can be grown on abandoned farms using moderate amounts of nitrogen and irrigation as a reliable source of bioenergy / biochar feedstock.

FAIL SAFE NUCLEAR  SMR developer NuScale is developing two different micro reactor designs, targeting industry and remote customers with faster deployment and longer fuel cycles. Applications for micro small modular reactors include energy intensive industries and mining operations.

NuScale’s pioneering 720 MW small modular reactor project in Idaho  deliver the U.S.’ first commercial SMR plant to power cooperative Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) by 2026-27. The plant will consist of 12 light water reactor modules of capacity 60 MW and will be built on an Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site.

Smaller plants require less capex, reduce construction times and improve transport efficiency, making them an ideal fit for industrial and remote applications.     Last month, micro reactor developer Global First Power (GFP) submitted Canada’s first small modular reactor (SMR) project licence application to build a plant at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).

GFP is developing a 5 MWe high-temperature gas-cooled reactor designed by U.S. group Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC). In February, GFP became the first SMR developer to advance to the third phase of Canada’s selection process to build a full-scale demonstration plant by 2026.

Canada’s large mining sector is seen as a key early market for SMR plants. Off grid power demand is typically provided by expensive subsidized diesel-fired plants.

  •  DHL is leading the charge into electrified delivery vehicles in Germany with its acquisition and integration of StreetScooter

DHL has been working on sustainable operations since before it was cool. The push towards more sustainable operations came straight from the top when DHL’s Global CEO Frank Appel threw down a goal of zero emissions by 2050.

Since then, DHL has been hard at work around the globe to integrate more and more zero-emission and alternative fuel vehicles into its fleet around the world. The company has set near-term targets for 2025 to ensure that its distributed global business operations are on track to deliver against its goals.


PANKAJ KUMAR DRIVES his autorickshaw up to a charging station in a covered parking lot in Gurugram, a satellite city of New Delhi. He flips open a lid on the side of the box that was the driver’s seat. One at a time, he pulls out the two batteries powering the small vehicle, each about a foot high, five inches wide, and weighing 26 pounds. Kumar taps his key fob on the station, a large black box a bit shorter and wider than a vending machine. A locker pops open, revealing a fully charged battery. He pops it in, then repeats the action for the second battery. After just a few minutes of downtime, Kumar and his electric ride are back on the road, fully charged and looking for the next fare.

One company thinks it has an answer: drive down costs by splitting the vehicle from its most expensive component, the battery. A not quite two-year-old joint venture between electric car maker Virya Mobility 5.0 and solar power company SUN New Energy Systems, SUN Mobility is working with EV makers, providing the batteries for those vehicles. The twist is that SUN retains ownership of the batteries. When they run low, the driver heads to a SUN station and exchanges them for fresh ones, paying only for the electricity he has consumed.

“Our solutions for India need to be a little different,” says cofounder Chetan Maini, a longtime advocate for ditching internal combustion. He built India’s first electric car, the Reva, in 1999. The tiny two-seater ran on lead acid batteries and never broke past novelty status. Today’s lithium-ion batteries offer better performance and pricing, but in India, even a $35,000 Tesla Model 3 is nowhere near workable for the vast majority of drivers. “When you separate the batteries, it’s cost neutral in the immediate term and cheaper in the mid to long term,” Maini says.

SUN Mobility is starting off not with cars, but with autorickshaws and buses. It has an agreement to provide bus manufacturer Ashok Leyland with batteries and charging services for 18 buses. It will supply batteries for 500 three-wheelers to SmartE, a startup that runs electric autorickshaws from metro stations to neighborhoods within a few miles. (Both companies are also working with battery providers running on traditional plug-and-charge models.)

If this sounds familiar, it’s because battery swapping has been tried before, most notably by Better Place. In the late 2000s, the Israeli company had raised more than $800 million and convinced Renault to make a car model using swappable batteries. But the idea never caught on, and Better Place went bankrupt in 2013. Maini dismisses the comparison, saying his business model is different. For one, the Israeli firm was focused only on cars and had tied up with one client (Renault) to sell its products. For another, its charging stations were expensive to install, and at least some were miles from the highway. SUN, Maini says, can work with any manufacturer. It can install its autorickshaw swapping stations, like the one Kumar uses for his vehicle, in crowded neighborhoods. SUN will fit its bus changing stations into 20-foot containers, using a robotic system to swap out the 1,430-pound battery in less than three minutes.

Since launching its battery swappable scooters in Taiwan in 2015, Gogoro has expanded to Japan, France, and Germany. Its riders now swap some 86,000 batteries a day.

  • How Calif. Will verify:     With the implementation of its  cap-and-trade program, California stands as an international leader in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. An important component of the Golden State’s system is the  Compliance Offset Program, which allows entities covered by the cap to satisfy a portion (up to 8%) of their regulatory obligations by buying and surrendering carbon credits generated by GHG reduction projects applying an Air Resources Board (ARB) Compliance Offset Protocol. These credits can provide businesses subject to California’s emissions cap a cost-effective way to meet their carbon reduction obligations while also driving investment towards activities that reduce GHG emissions. As the global leader in the voluntary carbon market, Verra is uniquely equipped to support market participants within the California system. 
  • The Trial of the Century: Maybe.. In Juliana v. United States, twenty-one individual youth plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Oregon against the United States, the president, and various other federal officials and agencies. They are claiming that the “nation’s climate system” is critical to their rights to life, liberty, and property; that the federal government has violated their substantive due process rights by allowing fossil fuel production, consumption, and combustion at “dangerous levels;” and that the government has failed to fulfill its obligations under the public trust doctrine. As a remedy, the plaintiffs asked the court to compel the government to develop a plan to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions so that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be no greater than 350 parts per million by 2100—a science-based target consistent with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C.

The U.S. Department of Justice, under both the Obama and Trump administrations, has argued that no trial should take place at all. The district court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiffs had raised colorable constitutional claims; after initial discovery had been conducted, the court denied (in significant part) defendants’ motions for summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings, affirming the earlier decision that plaintiffs raised valid claims and finding genuine issues of material fact that warrant a trial. But, after repeated attempts by the government to gain interlocutory appeal at the 9th Circuit and the Supreme Court, the district court’s decisions denying the U.S. government’s dispositive motions will now be reviewed by the 9th Circuit. It is possible that the trial will never happen.

  • Come to “climate-proof Duluth”: As people nationwide grapple with how global warming and extreme weather and temperatures will impact where they live, Harvard University Jesse Keenan has been suggesting a relocation to Duluth, Minn. “Climate projections suggest that, because of geographic factors, the region around Duluth, the Great Lakes area, will be one of the few places in America where the effects of climate change may be more easily managed,” While Keenan’s semi-serious suggestion was initially part of a marketing plan commissioned by the University of Minnesota Duluth, “The science behind it, though, is no joke…First, it’s cool to begin with. That means, as temperatures increase, it will remain mild in relative terms. By 2080, even under relatively high concentrations of carbon dioxide emissions, Duluth’s climate is expected to shift to something like that of Toledo, Ohio, with summer highs maxing out in the mid-80s F.

·     What it will take to maintain a liveable planet

A new report fleshes out a ‘global deal for nature’ that outlines what governments must do to have a hope of saving ecosystems and limiting global warming. Leaders around the world must fully protect 30% of Earth’s surface and sustainably manage another 20% by 2030. “What this paper is doing is putting a hard lens on what really needs to be protected,” says ecologist Jane Smart..Nature. 


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