- NewEnergyNews: IF CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HOAX, WHY IS THE MILITARY PLANNING FOR IT?

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

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 30:

  • TTTA Thursday-HOW TO TALK TO CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND AT STAKE IN THE ELECTION
  • TTTA Thursday-THE AESTHETICS OF SOLAR
  • TTTA Thursday-EV MRKT TO MORE THAN DOUBLE BY 2023
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Talking With The Redwoods
  • Weekend Video: Evangelicals Confront Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Living The Platinum Rule: Making The Best Invention Of All Time Better
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
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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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  • Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    IF CLIMATE CHANGE IS A HOAX, WHY IS THE MILITARY PLANNING FOR IT?

    Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security
    August 9, 2009 (NY Times)

    SUMMARY
    While some U.S. civilian conservatives believe the proposition of climate change-induced extreme weather events and resulting human crises are the product of Al Gore’s imagination, the U.S. military has begun doing intelligence studies and running war game-like exercises that demonstrate they believe strategic security challenges second to climate change are a very real possibility.

    The U.S. military is making plans for action in respons to such climate change-created emergencies.

    The military sees in global climate change the prospect of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics that topple governments, drive terrorist activity and/or destabilize entire regions.

    click to enlarge

    In December 2008, a National Defense University exercise modeled a huge flood in Bangladesh. It began with hundreds of thousands of refugees moving into India and ended with religious war, raging disease contagion and infrastructure breakdown.

    Intelligence analysts believe vulnerable regions like sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia could in the next 2 to 3 decades experience food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding. American humanitarian relief or a military response may be necessary.

    The military’s thinking and planning reflects the implications of many recent scientific studies that have suggested climate change is worsening rapidly and threatening to reach a tipping point. (See NEWEST SCIENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE) The military sees the potential for a series of global environmental, social, political and even military crises that could follow from the worst consequences of climate change.

    click to enlarge

    2008 Department of Defense (DoD) budget authorizations from then-Senator John Warner (R-Virg) and then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) pushed the Pentagon to begin thinking about the security implications of climate change. It began looking at Navy and Air Force weather programs and research from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It began building on findings about the energy and national security nexus that had emerged from years of DoD and State Department studies.

    The result was new, long-term planning documents that included climate change considerations. (See OUR CHANGING PLANET; The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) for Fiscal Year 2009) The Pentagon’s February 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review will have a section on climate change, as will the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.

    The National Intelligence Council’s 2008 (and first) assessment of the national security implications of climate change warned of storms, droughts and food shortages that will create emergencies and have significant worldwide geopolitical impacts, adding to poverty, environmental harm and the weakening of governments. (See The Impact of Climate Change to 2030)

    click to enlarge

    In response, the intelligence community is preparing climate change impact reports on strategically significant individual countries (like China and India), a study of alternative fuels and an assessment of how pivotal major power relations could be affected.

    The military has experience with impacts. In 1992, Homestead Air Force Base in Florida was “essentially destroyed” by Hurricane Andrew. Pensacola Naval Air Station was “badly damaged” by 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. The Pentagon is studying ways to protect major naval bases from future storms and sea level rises. Also vulnerable is Diego Garcia, the Indian Ocean atoll only a few feet above sea level and the crucial “logistics hub” for U.S. and UK Middle East operations.

    When Congress reconvenes in September, the Senate will face a choice of whether to take on the burden of making profound changes in the way the U.S. uses energy. Military planning seems to suggest bold action is warranted.

    Leading Democrats and members of the Obama White House are beginning to weave the national security and climate issues together as part of their support for Senate energy and climate legislation.

    It is no coincidence that Senator John Kerry (D-Mass), powerful Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, is co-authoring the Senate climate and energy legislation with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Long a major factor on Senator Boxer’s agenda, the climate change matter became a natural objective for Senator Kerry as the need to stress its importance as a national security matter grew more urgent.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    Amanda J. Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, who has been in senior Pentagon positions since the Clinton administration, describes the change in DoD thinking in the last year as a “sea change.”

    The military has not been unaware of climate change but Obama administration leadership has pushed the issue. The military’s response, however, is another indication that the mainstream discussion about climate change is making the shift climate change activists have long feared the most: It is moving from how to mitigate to how to adapt.

    click to enlarge

    The military, of course, is charged with making such adaptive preparations and, therefore, is only a canary in the coal mine. But the military’s preparations have broad implications and far-reaching influence.

    Fortunately, the military has also become highly pro-active in moving to New Energy and Energy Efficiency. (See GETTING MILITARY ABOUT NEW ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY) This suggests that even if it is necessary to start thinking about adaptation, there might still be a chance to mitigate the worst impacts.

    click to enlarge

    As the Senate takes up energy and climate legislation, the filibuster rule preventing passage without a supermajority of 60 votes could make it possible for a recalcitrant minority of climate change deniers to block action. Knowing their thinking is not in line with military planning could sway some in this minority.

    Actions likely to be proposed by the Senate legislation include (1) the first-ever U.S. Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring regulated utilities to obtain 15% of their power from New Energy sources by 2020, (2) the first-ever hard cap on total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs), bringing them to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, (3) the first-ever U.S. mandatory emissions trading system to make meeting the caps an equitable business proposition, and (4) a long list of new Energy Efficiency standards and requirements that could on their own more than meet the targeted emissions cuts.

    click to enlarge

    Senators Kerry and Boxer are actively negotiating with as many as 30 undecided Senators on the issue. Kerry says many are from coal dependent and manufacturing states and from the South and Southeast. Because electricity tends to be cheapest and dirtiest in those kinds of places, the impacts of the climate and energy bill will be the most noticeable and potentially burdensome there.

    In his negotiations with undecided Senators from such places, which also have strong faith communities, Senator Kerry frequently mentions the drought that led to the conflict, starvation and genocide in Darfur, a major concern of many in the faith communities.

    Retired Marine General and former head of U.S. military Central Command Anthony Zinni recently pointed something out in a report that could help Senator Kerry sway Senate votes. It is also something the President, with his unique speechmaking gift, should take to the public when it is time to move from the health insurance issue to the energy and climate bill.

    click to enlarge

    One of the biggest objections to the cap&trade portion of the legislation designed to cut U.S. GhGs 17% by 2020 and put the country on track to cut GhGs 83% by 2050 is the cost. Although Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports have all found the cost through 2020 will be about the same as 1 postage stamp a day, conservatives and the public continue to believe overblown, exaggerated reports of the costs.

    General Zinni pointed out that the public is going to pay for GhGs, one way or another. It will pay a postage stamp a day to transition to a New Energy economy that will cut GhGs, create a new and enduring economic boom based on innovation and real production and lead the world to an international New Energy economy. Or it will pay for a century of chaos, upheaval, terror and economic turmoil that will require enormous investments in defense and relief. Nobody needs to take Al Gore’s word for it or NewEnergyNews’ word for it. Just ask the Pentagon.

    With the first choice, the price is manageable. With the second choice, the nation will reap the whirlwind and, in the end, pay much more than a postage stamp a day to get to the same international New Energy economy.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Amanda J. Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, working with a Pentagon group to incorporate climate change into national security strategy planning: “It gets real complicated real quickly [but]…These issues now have to be included and wrestled with…”
    - Senator Kerry (D-Mass), Chair, Foreign Relations Committee: “I’ve been making this argument for a number of years…but it has not been a focus because a lot of people had not connected the dots.”

    click to enlarge

    - Senator Kerry, referring to the ongoing conflict and genocide in Sudan: “That is going to be repeated many times over and on a much larger scale…”
    - Peter Ogden, chief of staff to top State Department climate negotiator Todd Stern: “The sense that climate change poses security and geopolitical challenges is central to the thinking of the State Department and the climate office…”
    - National Intelligence Council 2008 (and first) assessment of the national security implications of climate change: “The demands of these potential humanitarian responses may significantly tax U.S. military transportation and support force structures, resulting in a strained readiness posture and decreased strategic depth for combat operations,”

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