Making Pot Greener

January 30, 2015

The War on Drugs was the original template for the “culture war” wedge issues that paralyze our political system today – most critically, from this blog’s perspective, around climate change.

Now that we’re all pretty much agreed that the drug war is, and has been, a ruinously expensive, murderously ineffective, unfairly prosecuted, racist failure - and polls tell us that  legal marijuana is coming,  can we set about making it more climate friendly?

Oregon Public Broadcasting:

Marijuana growing operations can be major power hogs. Now that they’re legal in Oregon and Washington, experts are looking for ways to make them more energy efficient.

Indoor pot growing operations use as much electricity per square foot as data centers, according to energy attorney Richard Lorenz with Cable Huston.

“Just growing four marijuana plants uses as much energy as running 29 refrigerators,” he said. “The carbon output is incredible.”

But growers don’t want to sacrifice the quality of their product to save energy, according to John Morris, policy and regulatory affairs director for the energy-efficiency consulting firm CLEAResult.

Lorenz and Morris spoke at an Oregon Environmental Business Council event Wednesday in Portland that focused on the power demands of legal marijuana.

Morris said LED grow lights don’t work as well as they need to for the industry to start swapping out their power-hungry incandescent grow light bulbs. And lights, he said are only a third of all the energy requirements for indoor growers.

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Above average broadside video from Environmental Action.   Climate denying politicians seeking science love online.
It’s tough when 97 percent of the science community doesn’t support you, but you can still get action if you’re willing to pay..

shaleplays

What the Oil industry has in mind for America, is that the entire country become something of a resource colony, with boom and bust cycles disrupting and ultimately impoverishing communities all across the continent.  If you look at the map of shale resources above, you can see that North Dakota is not the only target by a long shot.
For now, the Oil price roller coaster is disrupting that plan.

Washington Post:

They threw a fracking party in Illinois, and hardly anyone showed up.

More precisely, two months after the state completed a long regulatory process and opened the door to hydraulic fracturing, only one company applied. The state hired 36 employees and five lawyers to handle the expected rush of applicants, reported the Chicago Tribune, “for work that doesn’t exist.”

This after a land rush by energy companies in Southern Illinois that saw them buy tens of thousands of acres anticipating a North Dakota-style energy boom that would create 10,000 jobs.

The disinterest is attributed to the sharp decline in oil and gas prices globally, which makes fracking unprofitable — at best a break-even proposition, at worst a big money-loser.

“Smart people don’t invest in things that break-even,” said energy expert Arthur Berman in Oilprice.com. “I mean, why should I take a risk to make no money on an energy company when I can invest in a variable annuity or a REIT that has almost no risk that will pay me a reasonable margin? Oil prices need to be around $90 to attract investment capital. So, are companies OK at current oil prices? Hell no! They are dying at these prices.

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NASA Maps Greenland in 3-D

January 29, 2015

Mindblowing. This is why we love science.

Above, aspiring Republican Senate candidate. Could he be headed for disappointment?

Last week’s Senate’s sideshow vote on “whether Climate Change was real” seemed a bit lame to me, and the results useless. But with tentative, but continued trial balloons on the issue from several Presidential aspirants, I think it does fit  that there is a sense of unease in the GOP,  heading into the ’16 election, that the party is poorly positioned – in an area that is clearly coming into its own, and will only fester.
Indeed, years of hostility and neglect may already have left the party permanently damaged in the estimation of future historians, if there are any.

E &E News:

“We had a chance to vote, and people cast the votes they believed in,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who voted for the amendments offered by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). “That’s all it amounted to.”

But others noted that Republican Senate leaders evidently saw an upside in giving GOP members the chance to go on the record now, after many have used the “I’m not a scientist” line to studiously avoid doing so for years. Now their votes declared that climate change is real and industrial greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to it.

Those who follow Republican climate messaging say that at least some of the amendment supporters were motivated by political considerations. Seven of the 15 Republicans who voted for one or both of the amendments — and Hoeven himself, who voted against his own amendment for strategic reasons — are up for re-election next year. Several are running in blue and purple states where President Obama won handily in 2012. And Hoeven’s own office has acknowledged that his amendment — which held that man-made emissions are driving climate change without qualifying that impact as “significant” — was intended to give cover to some of his GOP colleagues.

Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), two of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election next year, voted for both the Hoeven and the Schatz amendments — the latter of which stated that human emissions were a “significant” climate driver. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who are also running in swing states, backed the Hoeven language.

David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, said that the pivot appeared to be calculated.

“It seems like there is sort of this recognition that the Republican message on climate needs to change,” he said.

Jenkins saw last week’s votes as part of a continuing evolution in the Republican message on warming — which started with denial that warming of any kind is occurring, moved through noncommittal statements about the role human emissions play, and has now arrived, for some, with an acknowledgement that man-made climate change is real.

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The thing people do not get about electric cars? They have crazy acceleration.
And note the lack of vibration, roar or smoke.

More below – Brewster MacCracken of Austin, Texas’ Pecan Street Project talks about EV early adopter’s discovering the difference:

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scicheck

FactCheck.org has a brand new “SciCheck” project, fact-checking science-themed claims by politicians and/or partisans.
Here is a sample of their inaugural post, surveying recent statements by high profile Science Challenged politicians.
These look comprehensive and well researched – I hope to see more.

Factcheck.org:

Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania who ran for president in 2012 and is preparing to run again in 2016, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Jan. 25. Michael Smerconish, the show’s host, asked Santorum how he would have voted on a “sense of the Senate” amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act that declared “climate change is real and not a hoax.” The measure overwhelmingly passed, with only Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, voting against it.

Smerconish, Jan. 25: The Senate voted this week 98 to 1 that climate change is not a hoax. If Rick Santorum were still in the Senate, would you have supported that?

Santorum: Is the climate warming? Clearly over the past, you know, 15 or 20 years the question is yes. The question is, is man having a significant impact on that, number one.

And number two, and this is even more important than the first, is there anything we can do about it? And the answer is, is there anything the United States can do about it? Clearly, no. Even folks who accept all of the science by the alarmists on the other side, recognize that everything that’s being considered by the United States will have almost — well, not almost, will have zero impact on it given what’s going on in the rest of the world.

Smerconish: So, is your answer do nothing?

Santorum: Again — well, the answer is do something. If it has no impact, of course do nothing. Why would you do something and with the — with people admitting that even if you do something, it won’t make a difference?

Santorum’s larger point is correct. The U.S. can’t solve the problem of global warming all by itself. President Obama himself agrees with that.

In a Jan. 27 speech in India, Obama urged collaborative action: “Even if countries like the United States curb our emissions, if countries that are growing rapidly like India — with soaring energy needs — don’t also embrace cleaner fuels, then we don’t stand a chance against climate change.”

But that doesn’t mean U.S. policies will have “zero impact” on global warming.

Emissions reductions by the U.S. could indeed play a role in slowing the rise of global temperatures. The U.S. could also have an indirect impact, because its leadership on the issue could spur a global movement to cut down on the carbon dioxide emissions that are warming the planet.

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