Houston Chronicle:

In its biggest reshuffle in several years, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is removing its longest-serving member: Exxon Mobil Corp.

The change was prompted by Apple’s forthcoming split, set to happen at Friday’s market close, which will leave the stock at one-quarter of its current price, Bloomberg News reported.

As opposed to the market-cap-weighted S&P 500 index, the Dow weights its members by price rather than market value. If a stock’s price falls too much, it can have a notable impact on the 124-year old index, according to Barron’s.

Energy giant Exxon Mobil, the oldest member of the index, joined the Dow in 1928 as Standard Oil of New Jersey. The Dow’s last original member, General Electric, was removed in 2018, CBS News reported.

While Exxon Mobil was worth more than $450 billion as recently as 2014, according to Bloomberg News, the stock had fallen throughout the six years before 2020 and is down another 40 percent since January.

ClimateWire:

“Supermajor” has long been the term used to describe the world’s largest oil companies. Increasingly, it is coming to define the globe’s biggest producers of wind and solar power.

Large-scale renewable energy developers now boast valuations greater than the behemoths of the oil and gas industry.

NextEra Energy Inc., a Florida-based power company and the world’s largest generator of wind and solar electricity, is now worth $138 billion. That’s more than the likes of Royal Dutch Shell PLC ($112 billion), BP PLC ($71 billion) and ConocoPhillips ($40.1 billion).

Iberdrola SA, the Spanish renewable titan, is valued at $78 billion. And Ørsted A/S, once a tiny Danish utility, has been transformed into a global offshore wind juggernaut worth $58 billion.

The role reversal is a reflection of the times. Oil stocks have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting drop-off in demand. BP and Shell have been forced to write down their assets by $17.5 billion and $22 billion, respectively, as a result of low oil prices. And Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world’s largest oil companies, was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average yesterday, a symbol of the industry’s sharp economic fall.

Many of the world’s oil reserves simply aren’t profitable when crude is trading for $45 a barrel.

Sky-high valuations for renewable developers also speak to wider changes in energy markets. Some analysts are predicting the world may soon see a peak in demand for oil (Climatewire, May 7).

Wind and solar are being propelled forward by a combination of falling costs and government climate targets. That has made renewable energy projects increasingly attractive to investors.

Researchers at Imperial College London recently concluded that renewable energy companies delivered better returns than their oil competitors. They also found that their shares were subject to less price volatility.

“We think we’re going to see a new category of companies called wind and solar majors,” said Sam Arie, a research analyst at UBS, the Swiss investment bank. “They’re on the way to being the size of the oil majors.”

The oil majors have noticed.

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NYTimes:

The number of Americans who feel passionately about climate change is rising sharply, and the issue appears likely to play a more important role in this year’s election than ever before, a new survey shows.

What’s more, despite the turmoil caused by overlapping national and global crises, support for action to curb climate change has not diminished. Backing for government to do more to deal with global warming, at 68 percent in May of 2018, was at the same level in 2020, according to the survey, issued Monday.

“People can walk and chew gum at the same time,” said Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of communication, political science and psychology at Stanford University and the leader of the project.

Many social scientists might have predicted a different result. A hypothesis in psychology called the “finite pool of worry” suggests that when people’s level of concern about one issue rises, concern about others tends to fall. Climate change, under such thinking, appeared to be a “luxury good” issue, the sort of thing that’s nice to have if you can afford it, but which gets pushed down the list of priorities in tough times.

The survey, the latest in a 23-year series, suggests that, instead, climate change has become important enough to Americans that it remains prominent despite the global coronavirus pandemic, with its rising death count in the United States, as well as the related national economic crisis, the pressures of self isolation brought on by the pandemic and a never-ending rush of other news.

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Hurricane Update

August 24, 2020

Tropical Storm Laura could strengthen quickly into a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico with a dangerous threat of storm surge along parts of the Louisiana and Texas coasts, and threats of flooding rain and strong winds extending well inland later in the week.

Laura has prompted new hurricane and storm surge watches for the Gulf Coast.

A hurricane watch has been posted from Port Bolivar, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana. This means hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours in the watch area.

storm surge watch has also been issued from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This watch, meaning life-threatening inundation of water moving ashore over land is possible within the area in 48 hours or less. The watch includes Galveston Bay, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Lake Borgne for areas outside of the southeast Louisiana Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. 

Tropical storm warnings continue from parts of Cuba into the Middle and Lower Florida Keys

Guaranteed Iowa-whasca flashbacks for years for this stoic Mom with a carload of kids, and a roaring Derecho incoming.

Washington Post:

When the derecho tore through Iowa on Aug. 10, it unleashed winds gusting up to 140 mph, equivalent to a major hurricane. The vicious storms arrived with little warning, ravaging the state’s corn crop and devastating communities. The damage is expected to rise well above $1 billion.

More than a week later, upward of 30,000 customers remain without power, down from 590,000, as residents continue the lengthy recovery process.

The storm’s ferocity caught many Iowans off-guard, but the Hawkeye State is surprisingly vulnerable to these violent tempests. While the storm’s intensity was on the high end of derechos, this wasn’t some freak event. Destructive derechos are as common in Iowa as hurricane strikes are in Florida.

The derecho damaged or destroyed 10 million acres of crops while many structures in communities such as Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Ankeny and Iowa City lay in shambles. The historical record indicates these violent, fast-moving storm complexes will continue to torment the state most years into the future.

Alex Gibbs, a lead meteorologist at the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, said that his office, which serves central and eastern Iowa and western Illinois, inspected and rated the storm’s intensity using damage indicators traditionally reserved for tornado surveys. His office found evidence of 110-to-140-mph winds.

In Atkins, Iowa, about 10 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, a wind gust of 126 mph was measured. That’s near where the WMT Cedar Rapids transmitter tower was toppled.

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Could Laura reach Cat 3?

Marco/Laura Visual Update

August 23, 2020

cone graphic
cone graphic

UPDATE:

Reuters:

Louisiana residents were ordered on Sunday to evacuate low-lying coastal areas as back-to-back hurricanes were forecast to bring strong winds and rain, striking the state within days of one another this week. 

Tropical Storm Marco, which is forecast to hit the Louisiana coast with hurricane-force winds on Monday, will be followed by Storm Laura, now over the Dominican Republic and expected to travel across Hispaniola and Cuba and strengthen to a hurricane before striking Louisiana on Thursday.

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August 22 Sea Ice Update

August 23, 2020

Utility Dive:

The following is a contributed article by Alex Gilbert, project manager at the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, and Morgan Bazilian, director of the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines and professor of public policy.

A severe heat wave brought high electric prices and rolling electricity outages to California last week, with as many as twomillion customers suffering a loss of power. Already, some are trying to politicize the blackouts, blaming renewables and California’s aggressive energy transition. However, the situation is considerably more complex than this simplistic narrative. 

While service reliability in the United States is generally high, weather events frequently cause outages and interruptions. Faced with an especially severe heat wave throughout the western U.S., California’s electric grid is grappling with how to maintain service at a time of very high air conditioning usage. 

Power sources, the state’s regulatory structure, institutional responses and market design are all factors. Knee-jerk reactions and pre-prepared policy prognostications are an insufficient response to identifying the causes of the disruptions and developing solutions.

California’s recent woes began near the end of last week, as severe region-wide heat led the grid operator to issue an emergency alert and conservation request warning about potential capacity risks. On Friday, as evening approached, solar generation began to fall as expected, requiring other resources to ramp up to maintain reserve margins. Managing periods during this time, the well-known ‘duck curve,’ is usually predictable and hence straightforward. However, with hot temperatures continuing into the evening, air conditioning needs remained high. 

After a natural gas unit tripped offline, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) issued a Stage 3 Electrical Emergency, and directed utilities, particularly PG&E, to begin load-shedding. By implementing rolling blackouts that impacted 200,000-250,000 customers per hour, overall grid reliability was maintained. 

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All over the country, TV meteorologists have been – slowly – waking up to their responsibility as science messengers, and making climate change a part of the larger context as they explain extreme weather events to their audience.

Arizona is a state that is gradually changing from deep red to some thing more moderate, and part of that is taking note of the increasing number of heat waves and heat records they’re seeing, for instance in the last week.

It’s interesting to watch the TV-met above as he kind of hedges all his bets on the way to explaining the role of climate in the current heat wave, and brings in Gavin Schmidt of NASA (in full quarantine beard) to explain.

I’ve talked to a number of TV mets about their work as often the only science explainers that most of their audience will ever see in day to day life. (below)

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