Diana Olick of CNBC continues as best of the best on the economic impacts of climate change and weather extremes.

In 1988, Claudine Schneider was a Republican representative from Rhode Island, passionately advocating action on climate change and climate solutions. She was, at the time, in harmony with leaders in the GOP.

Somewhere along the line, things changed. I tracked down Ms Schneider, and some other conservatives, to look into how conservatives and Republicans are trying to find a way out of the corner they’ve painted themselves in to.

The quandary is that they’ve spent 30 years misinforming and misdirecting their base with climate denial – and now the bill is coming due. Suburbanites, women, people of color, and most concerningly, for Republicans, young conservatives are now increasingly disillusioned with the party, and looking for new voices that acknowledge reality and science.

I also looked for some perspective from Stuart Stevens of the Lincoln Project.

New York Times had a piece discussing the disturbing circumstances around cobalt mining, particularly in Africa. Gizmodo followed with the breathless headline “Cobalt is the New Oil”.
Really?
I think “Electrons are the new oil” would actually be a better analogy – but never mind.
Cobalt is important as a component of Lithium ion Batteries, hence, easy pickings for the “solutions denial” crowd to talk about the “problems” of clean energy.

Of course, as usual, there’s more to the story. Know what else cobalt is used for? Refining gasoline.

Chargesmart:

Anyway, while some have pointed fingers at EVs over ethics, no-one is without guilt and in a position to take the moral high ground on this one. This is due to the fact that cobalt is also used in the refinement of crude oil, which is used to make petrol, diesel, kerosene and pretty much any fossil fuel that you can think of. The process is called desulphurisation and cobalt is used to extract sulphur from crude oil (which is a good thing). All crude oils contain up to 2.5% sulphur. Burning this oil directly produces sulphur dioxide and sulphur trioxide. The biggest danger that these gasses pose to use is in the form of acid rain and we’ve seen the detrimental effects of that! Sulphur in crude oil also clogs up the catalytic converters of modern cars meaning that the exhaust gasses flow freely through the tailpipes rather than being purified in the catalytic converter. A cobalt catalyst is used to extract the sulphur from the crude oil, the sulphur is then converted to hydrogen sulphide which can then be converted into sulphuric acid and used in other industries. Desulphurisation uses a lot of cobalt, in fact, it is the biggest consumer of cobalt in the catalyst sector! But yes, the use of cobalt in rechargeable batteries is the largest use of the element, and this will grow if battery chemistry does not change.

But the industry isn’t just moving ahead to consume more cobalt. Leaders like Tesla and others are rapidly moving to design batteries which do not require as much or any cobalt in the future.

CNBC:

Lithium-ion batteries contain a number of different materials including lithium, nickel, aluminum, iron, manganese and cobalt. Of all these metals, cobalt is the most expensive. For the past four years, the average cost of cobalt was higher than the cost of all the other battery metals put together.

“For mass electrification to happen, there are lots of sentiments that cobalt needs to be eliminated or reduced to the bare minimum,” says Chibueze Amanchukwu, professor of molecular engineering at the University of Chicago.

The price of cobalt has also historically been very volatile. Part of this volatility is because cobalt is usually produced as a byproduct of nickel and copper mining, and therefore tied to the demand and price fluctuations of those metals. The mining and refining of cobalt is also geographically limited.

“The majority of the world’s battery-grade cobalt reserves are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the the mining of cobalt is associated with human rights abuses and child labor,” says Sam Adham, a senior powertrain research analyst at LMC Automotive.

Chinese investors control about 70% of Congo’s mining sector. China also has over 80% control of the cobalt refining industry, where the raw material is turned into commercial-grade cobalt metal suitable for use in EVs. In light of the U.S.-China trade war, cobalt supply is in a precarious position for U.S. manufacturers.

Some cobalt-free batteries do already exist, but they require some trade-offs.

“There is already a viable cobalt-free battery and that is lithium iron phosphate or LFP. But the main downside of LFP is low energy density and therefore driving range,” says Adham.

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Above, recent speech by Don Trump Jr. , attacking Epidemiological science, and Dr. Anthony Fauci as a particular boogey man. See if this sounds familiar.

“Remember not one model was ever right, based on everything we have seen, not one thing he said ever ended up being true, and basically not one thing he ever said from the beginning of this wasn’t totally contradicted in his own emails, right?”
“What he is good at is, working the bureaucratic system, right?”
“He’s never met a camera he didn’t love, never had an interview he wouldn’t do, to make himself famous, because that’s all it was for him.”

The template has been carried thru from the Tobacco industry, thru climate denial, to the current catastrophic attacks on medical science and public health.

Cosmos:

We learnt only last month that scientists have been abused on social media for telling the truth during the COVID pandemic.

Now, an international team of researchers has delved into a related phenomenon – climate misinformation – and found that attacks on the reliability of climate science is the most common form of misinformation, and that misinformation targeting climate solutions is on the rise.

Monash University research fellow Dr John Cook and colleagues from the University of Exeter, UK, and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, trained a machine-learning model to automatically detect and categorise climate misinformation.

Then they reviewed 255,449 documents from 20 prominent conservative think-tank (CTT) websites and 33 climate change denial blogs to build a two-decade history of climate misinformation and find common topics, themes, peaks, and changes over time.

It’s the largest content analysis to date on climate misinformation, with findings published today in in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

“Our study found claims used by such think-tanks and blogs focus on attacking the integrity of climate science and scientists, and, increasingly, challenged climate policy and renewable energy,” Cook says.

“Organised climate change contrarianism has played a significant role in the spread of misinformation and the delay to meaningful action to mitigate climate change.”

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PBS. spot above is the best video I’ve seen in a week, at least, and gives some depth to the discussion about Beaver’s ability to mitigate drought and fire in vulnerable areas.

The vid features Dr Emily Fairfax. who I interviewed a few years ago on the topic – her popular stop motion animation shows how beavers work their magic, below.

Below, short clip from my interview with Dr Fairfax.

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Vox:

But years of research on the environmental impact of food make one thing clear: Plant proteins, even if processed into imitation burgers, have smaller climate, water, and land impacts than conventional meats. Apart from environmental impact, reducing meat production would also reduce animal suffering and the risk of both animal-borne disease and antibiotic resistance. The criticisms against the new wave of meatless meat appear to be more rooted in broad opposition to food technology rather than a true environmental accounting — and they muddy the waters in the search for climate solutions at a time when clarity is sorely needed. 

Different animal products have vastly different emissions. For instance, pigs and chickens emit far less than cows and sheep. But according to recent peer-reviewed research from the University of Oxford and Johns Hopkins University, which compiled several estimates, all of these animal foods (except some chicken) generate more emissions than plant-based meats. (Editor’s note: Jan Dutkiewicz, one of the authors of this article, was a co-author on the Johns Hopkins paper.)

This research consisted of meta-analyses of multiple life-cycle assessments, or LCAs, which measure the total environmental impact of a product. While some of the plant-based meat estimates were commissioned by the faux meat companies themselves, including Beyond and Impossible, others were not, and all used internationally agreed-upon LCA standards for accounting of every emission source throughout processing. 

Even the lowest-emitting beef from dedicated beef herds (34 kg carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e) and lower-emitting beef from dairy cow herds (15 kg CO2e) came in far above the highest-emitting tofu (4 kg CO2e) and plant-based meat (7 kg). 

Chicken and pork production emit far less CO2 equivalent than beef. And while there is some overlap (the lowest-emitting chicken [3.2 kg CO2e] and pork [6 kg CO2e] rival the emissions of the highest-emitting plant-based meat), the average emissions of tofu and plant-based meats are still lower than the average emissions of both chicken and pork.

BBC:

Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 sq m (7,000 sq ft) of land, the equivalent of two tennis courts and more than 10 times as much as the same amount of oat milk, according to this study. 

Almond milk requires more water to produce than soy or oat milk. A single glass requires 74 litres (130 pints of water) – more than a typical shower. Rice milk is also comparatively thirsty, requiring 54 litres of water per glass. 

However, it’s worth noting that both almond and rice milk still require less water to produce than the typical glass of dairy milk.

And with it, a high tide.

Entire South Florida delegation voted against infrastructure bill.