Last Week in Climate Change

What was new in climate change: 12/13 — 12/18

Svein T veitdal

Trump and Related

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The difference between the Carbon Bubble deflating rapidly now and popping spectacularly in a decade or more could mean literally trillions more dollars in profits for the kind of people now helicoptering into Washington.

But that same delay would also bring on climate catastrophe, damage our democracy and bring financial ruin for the investors who are left holding those assets when the bubble pops. If history is any guide, those investors will be pensions and mutual funds and small timers — in other words, regular people…

Journalists are unused to thinking about climate change as being an economic and financial issue — much less the core political issue of our day — so for a lot of us this whole problem is invisible, despite the credibility of everyone pointing it out. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, frankly, because we are so cognitively unprepared to see the Bubble in front of us. That we are so blind to these risks is a tragedy.

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Trump has already made it pretty clear that he would like to undo the Paris Climate Agreement. CEI lays out a plan for doing so by reclassifying the agreement as a treaty requiring ratification in the Senate, which would almost certainly fail to receive the necessary two thirds vote…

CEI also calls for overturning the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which includes carbon dioxide and other pollution standards for power plants. If Congress can’t dismantle the actual Clean Power Plan rule, which the report describes as “an unlawful power grab that will increase consumer electricity prices,” the think tank suggests a plan B, defunding the EPA’s implementation of it.

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[Under Tillerson] Exxon shifted from its public position of doubting climate change to declaring that there is “no question” that human activity was the source of carbon dioxide emissions contributing to the phenomenon…

After Tillerson took over, the company backed a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, implemented an internal accounting measure to put a fee on carbon emissions and stopped funding many groups that outright reject the scientific consensus behind climate change, all major shifts away from its previous positions.

Exxon endorsed last year’s agreement in Paris on global warming.

That doesn’t mean anyone should be putting any faith in him to change Trump’s views (or do anything not terrible), however:

Tillerson nonetheless disagrees with environmentalists’ views that fighting climate change means using less fossil fuels. Instead, Exxon looks at solutions like replacing coal with natural gas — which the company produces — and adapting to the effects of a changing world.

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“There is no doubt that Rick Perry is completely unfit to run an agency he sought to eliminate — and couldn’t even name. Perry is a climate change denier, opposes renewable energy even as it has boomed in Texas, and doesn’t even believe CO2 is a pollutant,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement. “Not only that, he is deep in the pocket of Big Polluters, who have contributed over $2.5 million to his presidential campaigns, a disturbing sign that they expected him to protect their profits in office, not do what’s best for the American people.”

Perry sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the firm that is trying to complete work on the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Great Plains.

Science

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqQVBmMMgEw

This is kind of an incredible clip.

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Drinking water can be affected at any stage of the fracking process, the report notes, from acquiring the water that will be used to injecting it into production wells and disposing of the wastewater afterward. Impacts are generally seen at sites close to production wells.

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A number of independent groups of scientists, technologists and journalists are working to get a snapshot of crucial U.S. government datasets and mirror it on private servers should access be curtailed…

American data is crucial for understanding everything from big questions about how carbon dioxide moves around the globe to tiny ones like how tides are affecting sand crabs on South Padre Island in Texas. Its usefulness extends beyond pure science questions to ones about infrastructure, forest management, climate negotiations and insurance rates…

“What strikes me the most over those 20 years is that even when researchers aren’t specifically looking for evidence of climate change or anthropogenic influence, they often find it,” said Laura Naranjo, a science writer at the National Snow and Ice Data Center…

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“We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,”
– Energy spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder

Effects

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The world’s tallest animal is at risk of extinction after suffering a devastating decline in numbers, with nearly 40% of giraffes lost in the last 30 years, according to the latest “red list” analysis…

The natural world is in the midst of a mass extinction as wild places are destroyed by conversion to farmland, mining and pollution, and animals are hunted in huge numbers. In October, a major analysis found the number of wild creatures was on track to fall by two-thirds by 2020, compared to 1970. Recent red list updates have found the eastern Gorilla and whale shark moving closer to extinction, while the prospects of the giant panda are improving.

Energy

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The overall shift to clean energy can be more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new solar must compete with existing billion-dollar coal and gas plants. But in countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said Liebreich.

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This is likely the first time an American city has wielded its zoning code to halt such a large array of fossil fuel projects. Under the new ordinance, which will take effect next month, new large terminals for transporting and storing coal, methanol and various natural gas and oil products can’t be built in the city. The rules also forbid expansion of Portland’s 11 existing facilities — one liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and 10 terminals for petroleum fuels.

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Other

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As a scientific concept, the Anthropocene is ambiguous and disputed. As a political and ethical concept, it is sharper: it means we have take responsibility for a world we partly create. Simple “preservation of the world,” as Thoreau named it, is not an option anymore, just as nothing today is truly wild…

I’ve been wondering, though, whether we can’t have a Thoreau for the Anthropocene, a Thoreau who is less interested in wilderness than in how to live with, relate to and value a world we have irrevocably changed, a world where nothing is really separate from us. I like this idea because the Anthropocene needs its own cultural history, its environmental texts.

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