The Next Wave

October 22, 2020

Exelon Corp.’s Clinton Power Station nuclear plant in Illinois uses about 248.5 billion gallons of water annually, the utility said in its 2020 report to CDP. The plant is in an area projected to face increased water stress by 2030.
Source: Exelon Corp.

One reason I have some confidence that China is not going to burn as much coal as they project, is that they are simply not going to have enough water to implement that plan.

Standard & Poors Global Market Intelligence:

As global warming climbs and humanity’s water consumption increases, nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants that rely on freshwater for cooling may not be able to perform at their peak capacity or could be forced to shut down temporarily even as demand for their supplies for indoor cooling and other uses increase, according to researchers and industry experts. 

Climate change-exacerbated water shortage issues pose a near-term and longer-term performance risk to power plants, such as hydropower and nuclear, around the world. And in the Lower 48, more than half of the fossil-fueled and nuclear fleet is located in areas forecast to face climate-related water stress by the end of this decade under a business-as-usual scenario, according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Into Epsilon’s Eye

October 22, 2020

This may be the best video ever of penetration into a hurricane eyewall.

A lie is not “the other side”.
We are where we are in large part due to “both sides” false balance journalism that awards the same credibility and time to someone who is obviously lying. Is there hope that this time of global disaster is a wake up call?

If you missed this clip from New Zealand journalist Tova O’Brien’s interview with a hapless political hack, it’s only 4 minutes, and a demolition for the ages.

Wondering if American journalists may have been watching – especially after seeing NBC’s Hallie Jackson tear into White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley – also short, and almost as brutal.

Phys.org:

Governments worldwide are planning stimulus packages to boost the economy following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, more than $12 trillion USD have been pledged in such packages. This response is three times larger than the 2008-2009 global financial crisis recovery spending, and represents around 15 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

A new analysis published today in Science, led by researchers from Imperial College London, Climate Analytics in Berlin, and the Electric Power Research Institute in the United States, shows that if just a tenth of this money was invested each year over the next five years in climate-positive recovery plans for the global energy system, the world could be put on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the average global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures and to pursue efforts to keep it at 1.5°C. This will require a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, a shift to low-carbon renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, and large improvements in energy efficiency.

However, current efforts by governments worldwide are insufficient to reach the Paris Agreement goals. Instead, today’s policies are leading us towards a world 3°C above pre-industrial averages. These higher temperatures will bring greater risks and more severe impacts, such as droughts, flooding and storms.

The new analysis shows that an ambitious path to a 1.5°C world is well within reach if just a fraction of COVID-19 funding is invested in a ‘climate-positive’ recovery, with the dual aims of stimulating the global economy and accelerating the deployment of low-carbon energy supply and energy efficiency measures. This could be achieved, for example, via direct stimulus and investments as well as via supporting policies such as incentives and rebates.

Senior author Dr. Joeri Rogelj, from the Grantham Institute—Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial, said: “Our findings show that investing in solutions to limit warming to 1.5°C is well within budget. In fact, the increase in low-carbon energy investments required over the next five years to move the world on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets is about eight times smaller than the total current COVID-19 stimulus.”

Or, we can continue to throw good money after bad by shoring up dirty energy..

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I’ve posted my take on how Joe Biden and Kamala Harris might best answer questions on fracking.
Below, a deeper dive by Zeke Hausfather and his colleague Alex Trembath expands on a few points. You may agree or disagree, but my friend Zeke is renowned as a careful researcher, and deserves full attention.

Zeke Hausfather and Alex Trembath in Politico:

Hydraulic fracturing — the controversial oil and gas extraction method usually called “fracking” — has divided Democrats and the political left for a decade now. Many in the environmental community claim that allowing fracking is incompatible with climate action. Others, including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, take a more nuanced position: During their respective debates, both Biden and Harris emphasized that a Biden-Harris administration would not ban fracking. 

While most environmental groups tend to be on the side of a ban, there are actually strong environmental justifications for Biden and Harris’s light touch on fracking today. In fact, there are reasons to worry that even a partial ban on fracking could slow decarbonization efforts in the near-term. What’s more, the deployment of some clean energy technologies could depend, perhaps counterintuitively, on fracking.

Fracking, which involves pumping chemicals at high pressure underground to extract gas from shale rock formations, has driven a revolution in the U.S. fossil fuel sector, doubling natural gas production since 2005. That surge has pushed down prices dramatically, making natural gas-fired electricity much more cost competitive with coal power. Today, coal accounts for only 23 percent of U.S. electricity generation, compared to over 50 percent two decades ago; much of that shift is due to the fracking boom.

According to the federal Energy Information Administration, coal-to-gas switching has driven the majority of CO2 emissions reductions in the power sector every year since 2005. And while methane releases are an important downside to gas use that needs to be better addressed, even taking them into account, natural gas is still better for the climate than coal.

Another fear of environmentalists is that the expansion of natural gas will slow the adoption of cleaner renewable energy. But the shale gas revolution has not demonstrably reduced the impressive growth of solar and wind power. Since 2005, wind generation has risen by over a factor of 15, and solar by over a factor of 140. Experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have observed that, because natural gas plants are so flexible in terms of when they start and stop production, they actually pair well with solar and wind power, whose output is intermittent. 

By all appearances, natural gas production in the United States has acted exactly like the “bridge fuel” many imagined it would, providing an interim step in energy development from legacy fuels like coal and oil to the renewables of the future. It is a bridge that will ultimately have to end to meet the Biden campaign’s goal to decarbonize the power sector by 2035, but in the meantime natural gas is both helping dismantle the old fossil fuel economy while laying the groundwork for a new, renewable one.

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GM Debuts Hummer EV

October 21, 2020

They didn’t spare much expense on this.
Definitely went out of their way to make sure this EV had no hint of unmanliness.

Believe that is Lebron James voice over?

Getting Greens to the Polls

October 21, 2020

You’d think this would not be hard – but the demographic groups most likely to vote for environment issues are those most heavily targeted by Republican suppression.

Harvard Gazette:

The number of registered voters who say climate and the environment is their top priority is rising (from 2 percent in 2016 to 7 percent in 2018). They are, however, failing spectacularly at making themselves heard at the polls. … 10 million registered voters who named the environment as their top priority did not vote in the 2016 election.

Grist:

The jury is in: Most Americans agree that climate change is a problem and would like to see the government do more to reduce carbon and protect our air and water. So, you might ask, why isn’t the government doing more to reduce carbon and protect our air and water? Part of the problem is that green-leaning citizens often don’t make it to the polls. In some elections, they turn out at just half the rate of registered voters overall. And politicians tend to cater to the will of voters, not non-voters.

Transforming environmentalists into faithful voters, and thereby building political power for the climate movement, is the mission of the Environmental Voter Project— an organization founded by 2016 Grist 50 Fixer Nathaniel Stinnet. And, thankfully, Stinnett’s not alone. Other organizations are working on the same goals, such as the advocacy org Georgia Conservation Voters, led by Brionté McCorkle. Fix spoke with Stinnett and McCorkle about their efforts to educate and empower environmental voters, and get them in the habit of casting their ballots — which may include tearing down the barriers that were raised to block their way.

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