Washington Post:

The same heat dome that roasted Europe and broke national temperature records in five countries last week has shifted to Greenland, where it is causing one of the biggest melt events ever observed on the fragile ice sheet.

By some measures, the ice melt is more extreme than during a benchmark record event in July 2012, according to scientists analyzing the latest data. During that event, about 98 percent of the ice sheet experienced some surface melting, speeding up the process of shedding ice into the ocean.

The fate of Greenland’s ice sheet is of critical importance to every coastal resident in the world, since Greenland is already the biggest contributor to modern-day sea level rise. The pace and extent of Greenland ice melt will help determine how high sea levels climb and how quickly.

As a result of both surface melting and a lack of snow on the ice sheet this summer, “this is the year Greenland is contributing most to sea level rise,” said Marco Tedesco, a climate scientist at Columbia University.

To illustrate the magnitude of ice contained in Greenland, consider that if the entire ice sheet were to melt, it would raise sea levels by 23 feet. Scientists are using aircraft, field research, satellites and other tools to improve their understanding of how quickly ice is being lost.

Jason Box, a climate scientist who studies Greenland’s ice sheet, examined recent field data from two locations on the ice sheet, both of which showed more ice loss so far during this event than in 2012.

At one location, 75 miles east of Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, the equivalent of 8.33 feet of water (2.54 meters) had melted as of July 31, slightly exceeding the value of 8.27 feet (2.52 meters) from 2012.

At another location 497 miles to the north, the equivalent of 7.38 feet (2.25 meters) of water had melted, topping the record of 6.30 feet (1.92 meters) in 2012. In an email, Box said the 2019 melt at this location is twice the average over the last decade.

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Bloomberg:

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens’ eponymous fund is swapping out one of its crude investment vehicles for renewables, seeing an opportunity in clean energy as fossil fuels get pummeled in the capital markets.

BP Capital Fund Advisors LLC plans to revamp an oil-focused exchange-traded fund with a shift to renewables in mid-August, according to a Friday filing. The underlying index was co-developed by BP Capital’s investment adviser and Morningstar Inc., and is made up of North American companies that are “leaders in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” according to a regulatory filing.

“A guy that was a good old-fashioned wildcatter is now saying that solar and wind and geothermal and biomass, that we need to embrace it,” Toby Loftin, the firm’s founder, said in an interview in Houston. “He’s been saying that for 11 years publicly, but this just puts the cherry on top.”BP Capital, a spinoff of Pickens’ shuttered hedge fund, launched the oil ETF just last year, offering investors exposure to companies that benefited from a rise in global crude prices. Brent oil futures are down about 15% in the last year while BP Capital’s ETF, which trades under the ticker BOON, is down almost 20%.

Meanwhile, both the WilderHill Clean Energy Index is up 19% in the past 12 months and a Bloomberg Intelligence index of large solar companies is up 1.7%.

With crude supplies booming, demand “questionable” and electric vehicles ramping up, “do you have one last hurrah for oil prices or is it just never going to happen?” Loftin said. “I think that backdrop is going to always keep the energy space in general muted in terms of returns.”

Energy’s role in the S&P 500 Index has plunged to just over 5% now from almost 11% as recently as 2014.

“There’s a set of specific reasons why that’s the case, and it’s not going to go back to 13%, unless they can generate cash,” Loftin said. “The puck is heading toward renewables.”

Wall Street Journal:

Unchecked climate change could mean that the weather conditions hurting farmers this year will become increasingly common and result in higher costs for the federal government, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

The report, issued by the USDA’s Economic Research Service, found that if greenhouse gases are allowed to continue to increase, U.S. production of corn and soybeans—which are more susceptible to extreme heat during growing season—could decline as much as 80% in the next 60 years.

As a result, corn and soybean prices would skyrocket in that period, as would the cost of crop insurance. According to the study, the cost of crop insurance to the federal government could rise to $7.6 billion a year for corn and $3.3 billion for soybeans. By comparison, the USDA has spent roughly $300 million on insurance for the 2019 crop year as of July 15.

Federally subsidized crop insurance covers as much as 85% of a farmer’s acres against natural disasters or declines in commodity prices. The government subsidizes 62% of the insurance premium on average.

“We show in the report that the cost of the crop insurance program will increase with global warming,” said Andrew Crane-Droesch, a research economist with the ERS and one of the authors of the report.

Last year was the fourth-warmest year on record since 1880, according to a February report by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Image from University of Maine.

Above, Resource planner Jessica Woycehoski of Consumer’s Energy – Michigan’s biggest utility – on the future for Gas vs Renewables.
“The model really loved” efficiency and renewables.

Bridge fuel to nowhere.

OilPrice.com:

The outlook for natural gas producers is not great. They are getting clobbered by low prices today, amid a glut. But the medium- and long-term looks even worse, with renewable energy increasingly taking market share.

Even more shocking still is that the investment bank said that the market becomes more depressed as we move into 2021. “Our lofty 4.5 tcf inventory outlook for 2021 is quite bleak and drives our 2021 average price forecast of $2.4/MMbtu, which is $0.15/MMbtu below the current curve,” the bank said.

Beyond that, the queue of new LNG projects dries up, taking away a growing source of demand. The glut of LNG capacity over the last few years lead to a dearth of FIDs in new export facilities. As the list of projects currently under construction finishes up, there are few projects coming in behind them. “The real problem, in our opinion, is not the LNG export capacity growth over the next year, but is instead the lack of LNG capacity additions in 2021-2023,” Bank of America said. “During the lull in US LNG export growth, the US will likely have to rely on some combination of other sources of demand and a slowdown in production growth.”

But here is where it gets really tricky for the gas industry. Even amid the current down market, demand has also been growing quite a bit. Cheap gas has opened up new markets in petrochemicals, electric power and exports. But by the mid-2020s, renewable energy really starts to begin eating into the gas industry’s market share. To date, natural gas in the electric power sector has grown briskly, seizing market share from the mortally wounded coal industry. But in the 2020s, gas will have a tougher time, as it begins to fall prey to clean energy.

The writing is already on the wall. NextEra Energy Resources signed a deal in recent days that may offer a glimpse into the future. The deal with Oklahoma-based Western Farmers Electric Cooperative calls for a renewables combo – 250 megawatts of wind, 250 MW of solar, and 200 MW of battery storage. Integrated together, the project addresses intermittency concerns. The kicker? It’s cheaper than natural gas. “It’s actually cheaper, economically, than a gas peaker plant of similar size, particularly with the tax credits that are available right now,” Phillip Schaeffer, the principal resource planning engineer at Western Farmers, told Greentech Media. “Prices have fallen significantly over the last several years.”

As the deal shows, this is not an abstract far-off threat for gas. Gas is losing out to renewables today. “[R]enewable energy could provide headwinds for power sector natural gas demand,” Bank of America said. “Wind and solar projects, even without subsidies, are now competitive with new build natural gas generation, which is a depressing statistic for potential longer term natural gas bulls.”

Kate Marvel in Scientific American:

Not far from my grandmother’s house is a ghost city. At Angel Mounds on the Ohio river about eight miles west of Evansville, there are a few visible earthworks and a reconstructed wattle-and-daub barrier. There is almost nothing left of the people who build these mounds; in a final insulting erasure, the site is now named after the white settler family who most recently farmed the land.

There are traces of other dead villages along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, mounds scattered from present-day Indiana to Arkansas and Alabama. In southern Illinois, a few miles from the Missouri border, hidden among empty corn and soy fields, is the center of that dead civilization’s gravity: the lost city of Cahokia.

Cahokia was larger than London, centrally planned, the Manhattan of its day. Most people there would have come from somewhere else. There were defensive foundations, playing fields, and a magnificent temple. There would have been sacred ceremonies and salacious gossip. It must have been a very exciting place to live.

And then, relatively abruptly, it ceased to exist. We know of the city only because of the physical traces left behind. Few stories of Cahokia have survived; it disappeared from oral tradition, as if whatever happened to it is best forgotten. The archaeological record shows traces of the desperation and bloodshed that almost always accompany great upheavals: skeletons with bound hands, pits full of strangled young women.

The North American Drought Atlas, a historical record of climate conditions pieced together from the rings of old trees, provides a hint of what might have happened. The tenth century CE, when the Cahokia civilization would have developed, marked a distinct shift in the regional climate from persistent drought to rainier conditions more suitable for agriculture, centralization, and civilization.

But the good times were not to last. In the middle of the fourteenth century, the climate swung back toward drought. This shift was likely associated with shifting temperature patterns in the ocean that affected the jet stream, pulling cool air down from the Arctic and displacing rainfall patterns. These changes are attributable to some combination of natural internal climate variability and externally forced changes from solar activity and increased volcanic eruptions. Their effects were profound.

In Europe around the same time, a confluence of natural factors perhaps related and perhaps separate from the forces drying out the Mississippi Valley caused it to rain heavily in the summer of 1314. The rains continued into the winter, and then into the next year, and then the next. Crops rotted in the fields, and the entire continent went hungry. Contemporaneous historical records complain of rain and famine, villages forced to eat dogs and cats, the dead, and even each other.

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Description:
An exceptionally wet season caused a large migration of grasshoppers in July 2019. The masses were so large, they appeared on a weather radar.

The Post description of the unusual infestation omits the contribution of climate change to the “exceptionally wet season”.
Scientists describe this season’s setup, below.