Financial Times (Paywall):

An influential research firm has cut its estimate of potential oil production by an amount that exceeds the reserves of Saudi Arabia, as the coronavirus crisis accelerates longer-term structural changes to the market.

In an annual report published on Thursday, Oslo-based Rystad Energy said its estimate of “recoverable” oil resources — the volume that could be extracted from the earth, given constraints of technology and demand — has fallen since 2019 by 282bn barrels to 1.9tn barrels, as consumption habits change and oil companies abandon exploration plans. The proven reserves of Saudi Arabia, the world’s second biggest producer, come to 267bn barrels.

“‘Peak oil’ is now a little closer,” said Per Magnus Nysveen, head of analysis at Rystad, referring to the hypothetical moment of maximum production. “We used to say that peak oil will happen around 2030. Now we say that it could happen in 2027 or 2028.”

Crude consumption dropped as much as one-third at the height of the coronavirus crisis in April, as lockdowns and travel restrictions forced people to stay home. Demand has begun to recover, but there is growing acknowledgment across the industry that the impact of the virus may reverberate for years to come.

People will be reluctant to travel by air for some time, Mr Nysveen said, reducing demand for jet fuel. Meanwhile, he said, the sharp fall in crude prices will cause drilling activity to plunge in the near term, leading to a spike in prices between 2023 and 2025 — just as electric vehicles become competitive with the combustion engine. This should accelerate a switch from petrol and diesel, further hurting demand for crude.

Rystad said this drop-off in demand, coupled with increasing environmental consciousness among investors, would discourage oil producers from pumping money into projects in more remote areas with long lead times, meaning areas previously expected to be explored for oil would be left untouched.

Modelling by Moody’s suggests global oil demand may not return to 2019 levels until at least 2025. The rating agency said that there is possibility that demand does not return to last year’s levels at all.

“Oil demand may take a long time to recover . . . due to the combination of weaker economic growth, decarbonisation trends and behavioural shifts, increasing the possibility that demand peaked in that year,” said James Leaton, senior credit officer at Moody’s.

Yale Environment 360:

Any day now, New York State will be coal-free. Its last coal-fired power station, at Somerset on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, will shut for good as the winter ends. Remember when Donald Trump promised to bring back coal? Well, three years on, coal’s decline is accelerating — in the United States and worldwide.

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The group Stop Funding Heat has a web ad urging Gillette, which has famously produced a number of groundbreaking ads featuring progressive ideas – to stop advertising on race baiting, climate denying Fox News.
Ad below features Fox climate denial along with corona virus denial.

“Just have a Think” series is one of the most useful I’ve come across recently.

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UPDATE: Wash Post Video

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

― Issac Asimov


On Wednesday, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joined the US Department of Health and Human Services’ podcast “Learning Curve” and gave his expertise on the pandemic and the vaccine development process.He also defended the stay-at-home orders as having saved “millions of lives,” and drew attention to anti-science bias and the disproportionate impact the virus is having on the black community.

Fauci said “anti-science bias” in the country can be problematic.”One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said.

“So when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that — and that’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth,” Fauci said. “

It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is. It’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines,” Fauci added. “That’s really a problem.” 

Trump has frequently disregarded expert advice — and often the guidance of his own administration — during the pandemic. He long touted the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 despite a lack of medical evidence, and the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for the drug earlier this week. His suggestion that ingesting disinfectant in April was a potential treatment — he later said he was joking — was quickly denounced by medical experts. And he has refused to wear face masks in public despite widespread beliefs that doing so slows the spread of the virus.

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Recharge News:

A new type of battery is coming onto the market that can store multiple days’ worth of energy, that doesn’t degrade, can’t possibly explode and is up to five times cheaper than lithium-ion, claimed its developer as it prepares to pilot the technology in New York state.

The zinc-air hybrid flow battery developed by Canadian company Zinc8 has the potential to disrupt the entire energy-storage market — making wind and solar farms baseload and even replacing the need for transmission grid upgrades in many places.

“For large-scale energy storage, lithium-ion can’t touch us on cost,” says chief executive Ron MacDonald, a former Canadian member of Parliament who now oversees a company that has received more than $50m of funding.

Zinc-air can beat lithium-ion batteries on price because the latter can generally only hold about four hours’ worth of energy at any one time, so an eight-hour storage system would require two batteries. By contrast, the storage capacity of the Zinc8 system can just be made bigger by increasing the size of the storage tank and the volume of the electrolyte it contains.

The capital cost of an eight-hour Zinc8 storage is about $250/kWh, falling to $100/kWh for a 32-hour system and $60/kWh for 100 hours. By contrast, lithium-ion projects cost about $300/kWh for any duration over eight hours.

“Our market is eight hours [of storage] and above,” MacDonald tells Recharge. “And the reason is that as you increase your storage capacity — the overall cost of the system continues to go down very significantly.”

In terms of levelized cost of storage (LCOS) — ie, the cost of storing each MWh of energy across a project’s lifetime, taking into account all capex and opex — zinc-air blows lithium-ion away for storage capacities higher than eight hours. This is because the LCOS of lithium systems, for long-duration applications that require daily or multi-day full cycling, roughly doubles for every ten hours of storage capacity added, compared to every 70 hours or so for zinc-air.

This means that a 10-hour zinc-air storage system would have an LCOS of about $100/MWh, compared to $125/MWh for lithium-ion. But a 72-hour zinc-air system would have an LCOS of about $180/MWh, compared to more than $600/MWh for lithium.

The cost of the zinc-air battery is expected to fall significantly as manufacturing is stepped up.

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Every part of America will eventually get the wake up call – that climate change is not just something that happens to brown-skinned people in Bangladesh.
It’s here, now, and it’s coming for your town, your home, and your pocketbook.

For my community, which has historically not been subject to frequent weather extremes, the wake up came on May 19.

Close-up view of a giant larvacean, a small, nearly transparent sea animal

Perhaps we should learn more about the creatures we share the planet with before we kill them.

LA Times:

It was decades ago when Bruce Robison first looked through the plexiglass sphere of a submersible and spotted a most curious critter in the waters off Central California.

Nearly transparent and no larger than a fist, the squishy tadpole-like animal was surrounded by an enormous balloon of mucus about 3 feet wide. Robison could discern chambers intricately inflated within this sticky structure, speckled with particles of food and plant debris. 

Robison spent years in the open ocean studying these gelatinous animals, which are too large and too fragile to bring back into a lab. Known as giant larvaceans, they inhabit seas across the world. Tens of thousands of them live just outside Robison’s office in Monterey Bay. 

He and fellow researchers eventually learned that these creatures and their snot palaces play an outsize role in helping the ocean remove planet-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — one more part of a vast and underappreciated system that makes the ocean an unsung hero of climate change.

Covering more than 70% of Earth’s surface, the ocean has absorbed more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide released by humans since the Industrial Revolution, and about 90% of the resulting heat. 

“We’re just on the edge of this tremendous change in how we perceive and understand how the ocean works,” said Robison, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “If an alien civilization from some other solar system were to send an expedition to Earth to look at the dominant life forms on this planet, they wouldn’t be up here walking around with us. They’d be exploring the deep ocean.”

With giant larvaceans, or Bathochordaeus, scientists and engineers at the Monterey Bay institute finally figured out a way to study their inner workings. In a new studypublished recently in the journal Nature, the team described how they were able to scan the animals with lasers mounted onto a 12,000-pound robot, and then reconstruct the mucus structure into a 3-D model.

Like radiologists with a CT scan, the scientists were able to piece together the intricate architecture within the mucus apparatus, called the “house,” and study how water moves through these delicate structures. Suddenly they could see chambers and passageways they never knew existed.

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Jeff Masters PhD is now writing for Yale Climate Connections, and he’s gotten off to a roaring start.
Jeff brings vast knowledge, great writing chops, and a huge audience of loyal readers, and I couldn’t be happier to have him as a new colleague in the Yale CC bull pen.
Here’s his latest.

Jeff Masters for Yale Climate Connections:

Mother Nature gave human civilization a survival pop-quiz in 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nations like South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan, which studied for the quiz and heeded the expertise of their tutors (i.e., scientists), have done much better on the quiz than nations that rejected the expertise of their scientists – like the U.S. and Brazil. The number one lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is: LISTEN TO THE SCIENTISTS! Scientific ignorance can be fatal.

Decisions by President Trump to downplay the threat as no worse than the seasonal flu, ignore and silence top scientists, and delay a full-bore response to the pandemic have led to a horrific failure by the U.S. on the COVID-19 quiz: A May 2020 study by Columbia University epidemiologists estimated that with the extreme social distancing many scientists had been pushing for just seven days earlier, the United States could have prevented 36,000 deaths through early May – about 40% of the death toll at that time.

Silencing scientists, down-playing their advice

In an attempt to down-play their failing grade on the COVID-19 quiz, government officials have sought to shift the blame, including, in particular, silencing scientists attempting to communicate their evidence-based science. The nonprofit Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) maintains a Silencing Science Tracker showing where government scientists working on the pandemic have been silenced.

As reported by the New York Times this week, the Trump administration’s antagonism towards climate science has pervaded the government, and is no longer limited to the people at the top. The article called attention to an inspector general’s reportat the Environmental Protection Agency made public in May: It found that almost 400 employees surveyed in 2018 believed a manager had interfered with or suppressed the release of scientific information, but they never reported the violations.

Civilization’s final exam – climate change – with no vaccine

Many students’ recurring nightmares involve a final exam tomorrow for a course they seldom attended all term: They can’t remember where the classroom is, and barely studied for the exam. Unfortunately, that nightmare describes humanity’s situation for the coming climate change final exam. While the stakes for flunking the COVID-19 quiz have been crushing – over 425,000 people dead globally by mid-June, economies crippled, and an as-yet unrealized catastrophe looming for many nations in the developing world – the cost of failing our inevitable collective climate change final exam will be apocalyptic for civilization.

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