NewEnergyNews: SCIENTISTS WARNED BUSINESS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE BUT BUSINESS CHOSE PROFITS

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: ADDING UP THE CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 29: PRES SAYS YES TO CLIMATE ACTION, SENATE STUCK; FLAWED NEW PLAN FOR NEW ENERGY IN CALIF; SOLAR PANELS GET BETTER
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Obama On Climate Change At The UN
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Heats Up Over Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Colbert Asks If “This Changes Everything”
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HIGH WATER RISING – EVERYWHERE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MOROCCO WIND BOOM COMING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA BOOSTS ITS SOLAR BUILD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-ABU DHABI BUYS A PIECE OF NORWAY’S STAKE IN UK OFFSHORE WIND
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PRIVATE SECTOR FACES CLIMATE CHANGE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR WILL POWER SCHOOLS, EARN MONEY FOR TEACHERS
  • TTTA Thursday-A RIDE IN TOMORROW’S CAR
  • TTTA Thursday-A LOOK AT SEE-THROUGH SOLAR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: FREEING THE NATIONAL TREASURE IN U.S. NATIONAL LABS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 24: ROCKEFELLERS DIVEST OIL FOR NEW ENERGY; BOLD $8BIL WIND BUILD-TRANSMIT-STORE PROJECT; CALIF TARGETS 1.5MIL 0-EMISSIONS CARS BY 2024
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE OFFSHORE WIND IS IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 23: THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION; THE MATTER OF WIND IN KANSAS; MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY MARKET TO QUADRUPLE
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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  • ---------------
  • Monday, April 27, 2009

    SCIENTISTS WARNED BUSINESS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE BUT BUSINESS CHOSE PROFITS

    Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate
    Andrew C. Revkin, April 23, 2009 (NY Times)

    SUMMARY
    The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) was employed from 1989 to 2002 as a front group for fossil fuel-consuming industries to argue against the reality of global climate change.

    According to documents obtained by the NY Times, science and technical advisors to the GCC made it clear to them their arguments were inaccurate and the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) and global climate change was real.

    GCC nevertheless proceeded to run a multimillion dollar PR campaign denying the validity of ongoing scientific documentation of climate change and its human-generated GhG cause. The effect was to slow the completion of the Kyoto treaty, sway public opinion against it and make it politically impossible for the U.S. to sign onto Kyoto or take any other substantive actions against climate change.

    GCC was funded by oil, coal and car companies and trade groups. Its budget in 1997, the same year the Kyoto Protocol was completed, was $1.68 million.

    Lingering doubt about the validity of the science done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the panel of scientists created by the United Nations (UN) to assimilate information and render conclusions about global climate change, is a tribute to the effectiveness of GCC’s PR campaign.

    click to enlarge

    GCC capitalized on the media’s inclination to offer opposing points of view. To every substantive scientific presentation on climate change, GCC obtained the opportunity to present its unscientific and unsubstantiated propaganda as a self-legitimating counterpoint.

    William O’Keefe, an American Petroleum Institute executive and Chairman of GCC in the 1990s, continues to contend they were unaware of scientific information contradicting their work and that questioning the science was a legitimate exercise in questioning incomplete information.

    GCC was dissolved in 2002. Some members (the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute) continue to work against climate change legislation and U.S. participation in international agreements to cut emissions. Others (Exxon Mobil) now ostensibly recognize anthropomorphic global climate change and claim to not fund such lobbying efforts.

    The new evidence condemning GCC as a knowing participant in a fraudulent deception came out in a classic example of the law of unintended consequences. GCC's science advisory committee paper, containing the scientific information that was ignored and suppressed, thereby proving GCC's malicious intent, emerged as evidence in a 2007 lawsuit brought by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, a GCC member, to block California’s efforts to limit vehicle GhGs.

    Leonard S. Bernstein, a chemical engineer and climate expert then with Mobil Corp led the GCC science advisory committee and presented the paper to GCC's board that warned against using "contrarian" arguments discounting the relationship between climate change and human GhG spew.

    The legal documentation was passed to environmental groups by an attorney in the lawsuit and passed to the NY Times by the environmental groups.

    GCC approved the science advisory committee paper in 1996 after forcing the removal of the parts most contradictory to GCC's propaganda.

    More details on GCC are available from SourceWatch.

    More about how public opinion on climate change has been shaped. From greenman3610 via YouTube.

    COMMENTARY
    There is no doubt that climate change deniers must be vigilantly confronted. That is their only real intent. In the long run, their lies will inevitably be exposed but the noise they make is a terrible distraction that divides and – most importantly – delays response to global climate change.

    The businesses that employed GCC – and continue to employ other front groups and pay politicians to continue to distract, divide and delay – profit by billions for every year that crackdowns on GhG emissions are not aggressively pursued.

    Lies, sweet, sweet lies. (click to enlarge)

    GCC tactics have been compared to the tobacco industry's denials that smoking was the cause of lung cancer and heart disease. The lies have been exposed but the tobacco industry bought itself decades of sales, the opportunity to create an addiction to smoking in a next generation and time to prepare for a shift of its business to international markets.

    GCC was employed as a direct response to the formation of the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Funders included Amoco, the American Forest & Paper Association, American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, Chrysler, Cyprus AMAX Minerals, Exxon, Ford, General Motors, Shell Oil, Texaco, the United States Chamber of Commerce and many more. (See SourceWatch)

    The GCC arguments now seem specious as the Obama administration leads a new movement in the U.S. to respond to climate change, create a national standard for New Energy and commit to an emissions reduction regime.

    William O’Keefe did not go back to the American Petroleum Institute after leaving the chairmanship of GCC but became CEO of the Marshall Institute. Marshall, not surprisingly, opposes mandatory caps on GhGs.

    click to enlarge

    Benjamin D. Santer was a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and part of the IPCC effort in the 1990s. The fight to be heard over GCC’s propaganda compromised his ability to make heard his conclusion that there was evidence even then of human influence on the climate.

    QUOTES
    - GCC 1990s science propaganda: “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood…scientists differ[on it]…”
    - GCC science advisors internal report to propaganda writers: “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied…”
    - George Monbiot, British environmental activist/writer: “They didn’t have to win the argument to succeed…only to cause as much confusion as possible.”

    Some former GCC people are still denying climate change. (click to enlarge)

    - From the GCC scientific advisory committee primer on climate change: “The contrarian theories raise interesting questions about our total understanding of climate processes, but they do not offer convincing arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse gas emission-induced climate change…”
    - Minutes from the GCC meeting approving the abridged science advisory committee primer on climate change: “This idea was accepted…and that portion of the paper will be dropped.”

    It's not about lying, it's about obscuring the truth. (click to enlarge)

    - William O’Keefe, CEO, Marshall Institute: “I have no idea why the section [of GCC’s science advisory committee primer on climate change] on the contrarians would have been deleted…One thing I’m absolutely certain of,” he said, “is that no member of the board of the Global Climate Coalition said, ‘We have to suppress this.’ ”
    - Benjamin D. Santer, climate scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: “I’m amazed and astonished…that the Global Climate Coalition had in their possession scientific information that substantiated our cautious findings and then chose to suppress that information.”

    1 Comments:

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