February 13, 2016
This video is several months old, but quite interesting nonetheless.
Suzanne Goldenberg of the Guardian attends the most recent Heartland Institute Climate denial conference, just as the news came out about the Pope’s encyclical on Climate Change.
My own take on the Heartland conference of 2012, below. Read the rest of this entry »
February 13, 2016
I’ve pointed out in the past that climate deniers seem hopelessly addicted to supporting the tobacco industry. We saw in the records revealed during the tobacco lawsuits of the 90s, that some of the very same “think” tanks and even the very same individuals who loyally parroted that tobacco was perfectly fine for you, moved on to insist that there’s no such thing as climate change.
The pattern continues. Chances are, if you’re getting money from Big Fossil, you’re also a willing tool of Big Tobacco. Witness climate denier Duncan Hunter.
Rep. Duncan Hunter wasn’t blowing “smoke” when he made his case against an amendment to ban vaping on planes.
Actually, it was something more like water vapor.
A vocal supporter of e-cigarettes, the California Republican proudly declared, “Yes, I vape,” in an op-ed last year.
On Thursday, he opened his argument to allow the practice on flights by inhaling a load of e-juices.
“So this is called a vaporizer,” Hunter said as his neighbor tried (literally) to clear the air. “There’s no combustion, there are no carcinogens … there is no burning, there is nothing noxious about this whatsoever.”
The gesture drew some snickers from the gallery, but failed to win the support of Hunter’s colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which was marking up its Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act.
Vaping, which is currently forbidden by most major airlines anyway, looks set for a federal restriction.
February 12, 2016
Nice footage of recent interview with MacCracken here.
Mike was the first “real” climate scientist that I started learning from, and he is an invaluable link to the deep history of the discipline. He remains one of the best informed observers today.
February 12, 2016
Read this and have a nice weekend.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a stay to halt the Clean Power Plan regulation. They did not overturn the rule, but rather agreed to halt it while the challenge from 29 states and dozens of corporations proceeds through the federal appeals court (and eventually makes its way to the Supreme Court). This intervention, before the lower circuit court had a chance to review the plan on its merits, is unprecedented but hardly surprising.
The good news, though, is that this ruling does little to substantively impact the trajectory of CO₂ emissions in the U.S. While the Clean Power Plan serves as a valuable backstop, the timeline of implementation and limitations on what it can regulate keep it from being the dominant and irresponsible policy that opponents claim it is. Here are ten policies, trends, and market forces that are having a larger substantive impact on the trajectory of CO₂ emissions in the U.S. than the Clean Power Plan will.
1. Mercury and Air Toxic Standards
Coal plant emissions regulated by the Clean Power Plan are already controlled under the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS). Many of the dirty coal plants that would have their carbon emissions regulated by the Clean Power Plan have already shut down, or are slated to shut down, due to the cost of cutting mercury emissions to comply with MATS. By the April MATS compliance deadline, 4,600 MW of coal generation was offline, with a total of 46,000 MW on track to close in the ten years spanning 2012–2022.
2. Investment Tax Credit Extension for Solar PV and Production Tax Credit Extension for Wind
In December of last year, Congress voted to extend the 30-percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar PV for three years, with a ramp-down through 2022. They also retroactively extended the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind for 2015, with a ramp down starting in 2016 and lasting through 2020. Leading up to this announcement, GTM released their forecasts projecting that under an ITC scenario the U.S. would:
- Install 25 GW of additional solar capacity over the next 5 years
- Spend an additional $40 billion in incremental investments by 2020
- Create a 20 GW annual solar market in the U.S. by 2020
- See similar positive effects for the wind industry
3. Supreme Court Ruling on FERC 745 (Demand Response)
Late last month, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of FERC that demand response should be regulated at the federal level. This ruling was a victory for the $1.4 billion demand response industry specifically, and the clean energy community more broadly, as FERC jurisdiction over both the supply and demand sides of the wholesale energy markets now protects demand response from obstructionist state policies. This ruling was also important in highlighting the convergence of, and blurring of the lines between, the retail and wholesale sides of the electricity system, and allowing customers to participate in both parts of the electricity system.
February 12, 2016
Really interesting historical piece in ClimateProgress this morning – describing scientist Mike MacCracken’s 1960’s realization that – “You think it’s hard to change the climate, but looking at the past climate, it shows the relatively small influences have had a large effect.”
The Cold War may be remembered as a time lived in constant fear of nuclear annihilation, but it was also a time of tremendous scientific progress. Just ask climate scientist Michael MacCracken.
Cold War competition with the Soviet Union fueled the Space Race, the arms race and, by extension, a host of groundbreaking discoveries and inventions. Much of that pioneering research was carried out at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where MacCracken pursued his graduate research. Livermore was established to strengthen America’s nuclear arsenal. Scientists designed warheads, experimented with magnetic fusion, and investigated the risk of nuclear weapons to the global climate. Could atomic warfare lead to nuclear winter?
My 2012 interview with Mike, interspersed with video from his 1982 talk at Sandia labs, is one of my most popular vids, and a great aid in perspective.
“People were interested in doing this. I mean, you’re working to protect the country in terms of the Cold War that was going on,” said MacCracken. “[People] came there for that purpose, believing if you could be strong, you could keep the peace. If you’re weak you’re going to get overrun.”
In 1960, Livermore physicist Chuck Leith, MacCracken’s graduate advisor, produced the first three-dimensional global atmospheric model. He created the model to test the fastest computer on Earth, the UNIVAC LARC, and he enlisted Hollywood animators to produce a visual rendering — wiggling neon lines denoting pressure and precipitation overlaid on a map of the Earth. The animation is mesmerizing, aglow with the peril and possibility of the Space Age.
February 12, 2016
Above, one of the first interviews I did at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in 2011 was with Josh Willis, of NASA Jet Propulsion lab. At the time, we were just coming out of a large La Nina event, following the el Nino of 2010.
The event had some significant and very interesting effects on rainfall and sea level rise – which may be instructive for us looking forward. Storm tracks shifted enough to dump enormous rainfall onto land areas, so much so that sea levels actually dropped by a measurable amount, — one of those moments briefly celebrated by deniers as “proof” that global warming was over. You can see that deviation in the satellite sea level graph below.
Even as the El Nino weather phenomenon continues to impact global temperatures and crops, its counterpart La Nina is increasingly expected to emerge in the coming months for the first time in four years.
The return of La Nina, Spanish for “the girl” and characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures, is possible later this year, the U.S. government forecaster said Thursday. It joined other forecasters in projecting La Nina could follow on the heels of one of the strongest El Ninos on record.
Weather models indicate La Nina conditions, which tend to occur unpredictably every two to seven years, may emerge in the Northern Hemisphere fall, while El Nino – which means “the little boy” in Spanish – is expected to dissipate during the late spring or early summer, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said in its monthly forecast.
The phenomenon can be less damaging than El Nino, but severe La Ninas are linked to floods, droughts and hurricanes.
Below, a new study sheds more light on the water storage phenomenon – which is ongoing even in non-la nina years.
February 11, 2016
Ted Cruz did us the enormous favor a few days ago by reeling off a list of the greatest hits of bonehead climate denial.
I’ll be going thru these one by one and taking them down in coming weeks, it’s time.
Here’s the first entry.
So fasten your seat belt, Mr Cruz, you are about to be schooled.