Trailer: Fukushima 50

January 31, 2021

Continuing to dole out the climate solutions wisdom I’ve been gleaning in recent weeks.
Roadmap for a new administration.

Saul Griffith is a PhD from MIT and a MacArthur Genius.

If you want a good read on where we are in the energy transition, you might want to speak to Stanley “Skip” Pruss, former Chief Energy Advisor to former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who is incoming Secretary of Energy. (pending confirmation)
I spoke to Skip on January 19 about the massive acceleration in electrification of the Auto industry.

Not 10 days later, GM’s huge announcement of a 2035 target to exit Internal Combustion, for good.

Green Tech Media:

In a Wednesday Senate hearing, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm echoed previous commitments to create clean energy jobs and focus on U.S.-made equipment if confirmed as U.S. Energy Secretary.

Beyond helping carry out President Biden’s target of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, the Energy Secretary oversees 17 national labs and manages the U.S.’ nuclear capabilities and cleanup efforts. Despite Biden’s grand clean-energy ambitions, the latter responsibilities make up most of the department’s current budget.

Granholm’s confirmation hearing, however, largely focused on how the Biden administration will carry out its energy targets. On Wednesday Biden signed several climate-focused executive orders that direct federal agencies to buy carbon-free electricity and start U.S. goal-setting for emissions reductions under the Paris climate agreement, among other measures.

Granholm, who as governor helped steer Michigan and its auto industry through the financial crisis of the late aughts, has centered her nomination around clean-energy employment and manufacturing in support of the Biden-Harris administration’s wide-reaching climate goals.

“I believe that I was nominated by the president because I am obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America,” Granholm said in testimony at the hearing. “Having been the governor of Michigan when the automotive industry was on its knees, I understand what it’s like to look in the eyes of men and women who have lost jobs through no fault of their own.”

“The experience I had in Michigan seared my soul on behalf of workers,” Granholm said later in the hearing, discussing the anxiety associated with job losses in legacy energy industries.

Caution, language, and furrrr-ious anger….

It’s friday, take a load off.

Uploaded by Aleksandra Mazur, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Music: Emilie Simon – The Frozen World
Christian Van Gothen remix

As fires raged in California last year, I interviewed Daniel Swain of UCLA on the science. He made note that along with the flames, conspiracy theories also raged.

Science Alert:

The stretch of Arctic ice between Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is known as ‘the Last Ice Area’, thought by scientists to have the best chance of surviving the climate crisis – but new research suggests it could be more vulnerable to disappearing than previously thought.

It’s the oldest and the thickest stretch of ice in the Arctic region, and up to this point it’s managed to survive even the warmest summers on record. There are even hopes that it will eventually act as the foundation of a spreading Arctic ice region, if we can get the planet to begin cooling down again.

Maybe not, according to a new analysis of satellite data looking specifically at ice arches along Nares Strait, which is 40 kilometres (25 miles) wide and 600 kilometres (373 miles) long.

Ice arches aren’t traditional arches at all, they’re key patches of ice that form seasonally and prevent other pieces of ice from entering a body of water. The Nares Strait and its arches could play a crucial role in whether or not the Last Ice Area survives through the peak of global warming.

“The ice arches that usually develop at the northern and southern ends of Nares Strait play an important role in modulating the export of Arctic Ocean multi-year sea ice,” write the researchers in their published paper.

“We show that the duration of arch formation has decreased over the past 20 years, while the ice area and volume fluxes along Nares Strait have both increased.”

Simply put, the Nares Strait ice arches that effectively hold the Last Ice Area in place are becoming less stable. The risk is that this old ice will not just melt in place, but also break up and drift southwards into warmer regions, speeding up the melting process.

The ice arches look like bridges on their sides, blocking the movement of ice from north to south. The problem is that the arches are breaking up earlier in the year than they have previously, allowing more ice to flow through the Nares Strait.

Every year, according to observations, the ice arches are breaking up a week earlier than before. The ice blockage is becoming thinner and less of a barrier, and that is leading to changes further north – it’s estimated that ice movement in the Last Ice Area is increasing twice as fast as it is in the rest of the Arctic.

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Media Matters:

In November 2018, California was hit with the worst wildfire in the state’s history. At the time, future Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wrote a bizarre Facebook post that echoed QAnon conspiracy theorists and falsely claimed that the real and hidden culprit behind the disaster was a laser from space triggered by some nefarious group of people. 

Greene’s post, which hasn’t previously been reported, is just the latest example to be unearthed of her embracing conspiracy theories about tragedies during her time as a right-wing commentator. In addition to being a QAnon supporter, Greene has pushed conspiracy theories about 9/11, the Parklandand Sandy Hook school shootings, the Las Vegas shooting, and the murder of Democratic staffer Seth Richamong others

The Camp Fire was a horrific California wildfire that started on November 8, 2018, and, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, “burned a total of 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures and resulting in 85 civilian fatalities and several firefighter injuries. The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.” After an investigation, the department “determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) located in the Pulga area.” Scientists have noted that climate change has worsened wildfires in places like California. 

Conspiracy theorists have pushed other explanations for the Camp Fire, especially on social media. One theory, which has been promoted by QAnon followersfalsely posits that a nefarious entity used laser beams or a similar instrument to start the fire for financial profit or to clear space for California’s high-speed rail system.

Rep. Greene is a proponent of the Camp Fire laser beam conspiracy theory. She wrote a November 17, 2018, Facebook post — which is no longer available online — in which she said that she was speculating “because there are too many coincidences to ignore” regarding the fire, including that then-California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) wanted to build the high-speed rail project and “oddly there are all these people who have said they saw what looked like lasers or blue beams of light causing the fires.” She also speculated that a vice chairman at “Rothschild Inc, international investment banking firm” was somehow involved, and suggested the fire was caused by a beam from “space solar generators.” 

Greene added: “If they are beaming the suns energy back to Earth, I’m sure they wouldn’t ever miss a transmitter receiving station right??!! I mean mistakes are never made when anything new is invented. What would that look like anyway? A laser beam or light beam coming down to Earth I guess. Could that cause a fire? Hmmm, I don’t know. I hope not! That wouldn’t look so good for PG&E, Rothschild Inc, Solaren or Jerry Brown who sure does seem fond of PG&E.” 

Below, Nancy Pelosi criticizes Republican response to MTG craziness.

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Washington Post:

General Motors said Thursday that it will end the sale of all gasoline and diesel powered passenger cars and sports utility vehicles by 2035, marking an historic turning point for the big U.S.-based carmaker and a future full of new electric vehicles for American motorists.

GM chief executive Mary Barra, who antagonized many climate experts by embracing President Donald Trump’s relaxation of fuel efficiency targets, said the company was eliminating all tailpipe emissions from light duty vehicles by that date. “As one of the world’s largest automakers, we hope to set an example of responsible leadership in a world that is faced with climate change,” she said on LinkedIn.

A GM executive, who asked for anonymity to describe details of the GM shift, said that the company would spend $27 billion on electric vehicles and associated products between 2020 and 2025, outstripping spending on conventional gasoline and diesel cars. That figure includes refurbishing factories and investing in battery production in conjunction with LG Chem, a South Korean battery maker.