UPDATE: see video interview above.

GatesNotes:

A global crisis has shocked the world. It is causing a tragic number of deaths, making people afraid to leave home, and leading to economic hardship not seen in many generations. Its effects are rippling across the world. 

Obviously, I am talking about COVID-19. But in just a few decades, the same description will fit another global crisis: climate change. As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse.

I realize that it’s hard to think about a problem like climate change right now. When disaster strikes, it is human nature to worry only about meeting our most immediate needs, especially when the disaster is as bad as COVID-19. But the fact that dramatically higher temperatures seem far off in the future does not make them any less of a problem—and the only way to avoid the worst possible climate outcomes is to accelerate our efforts now. Even as the world works to stop the novel coronavirus and begin recovering from it, we also need to act now to avoid a climate disaster by building and deploying innovations that will let us eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions.

You may have seen projections that, because economic activity has slowed down so much, the world will emit fewer greenhouse gases this year than last year. Although these projections are certainly true, their importance for the fight against climate change has been overstated. 

Analysts disagree about how much emissions will go down this year, but the International Energy Agency puts the reduction around 8 percent. In real terms, that means we will release the equivalent of around 47 billion tons of carbon, instead of 51 billion.

That’s a meaningful reduction, and we would be in great shape if we could continue that rate of decrease every year. Unfortunately, we can’t. 

Consider what it’s taking to achieve this 8 percent reduction. More than 600,000 people have died, and tens of millions are out of work. This April, car traffic was half what it was in April 2019. For months, air traffic virtually came to a halt.

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From Desmogblog.

I learned more about this in researching the new videos that will drop this week…

Dr Andrew Dessler, one of the world’s most well regarded atmospheric experts, made a simple observation on twitter in regard to the current flooding in India.

Immediately attacked as a “scientist” (in quotes) by serial liar, grifter and egomaniac Michael Shellenberger (MA Anthropology, current Fox News, Breitbart darling..)

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Revolver, released this week 55 years ago. Some say it’s their best album.


If you haven’t heard this one in a while, give it a listen.

Image

H/T to John Fugelsang.

After waiting around for 3 hours yesterday, I decided this turbine wasn’t going up before dark, so decided to come back.

Made it in a nick of time to jump out of the car and set up camera at this site. Apex Wind Energy’s 360 MW Isabella Wind site in Michigan is ginormous, and has the tallest towers in the state, one of which you see here.

New video, coming out soon, will explain how renewable energy is now competitive everywhere in the US, one more reason why 90 percent renewable electricity by 2035 is very do-able.

Can we all agree that engineers are amazing?

On Beyond Zebra! (Classic Seuss): Dr. Seuss: 9780394800844: Amazon.com:  Books

As described below, we have now set a record for the number of named storms in The Atlantic at this time of year.
Continued storm formation at this pace means Meteorologists will run out of alphabetized names for the storms, and be forced to resort to Greek letters,

CBS News:

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is racking up storms at breakneck speed. To date, the season is about two weeks ahead of record pace and it’s only one third of the way through. On Wednesday, the news became more concerning as the research team at Colorado State University (CSU) — the standard bearer for seasonal forecasts — released the most dire forecast in their 37-year history.

Labeling the 2020 hurricane season “extremely active,” the team is now predicting 24 named storms, including 12 total hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes — each figure about double that of a normal season. If the forecast proves accurate, 2020 would be the second most active Atlantic hurricane season, behind only the record-shattering 2005 season which brought Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

Only 21 storm names are allotted each year because the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used. As a result, if 24 tropical storms are indeed named, the National Hurricane Center will have to employ the Greek alphabet for overflow. This has only happened one time on record — in 2005 when the Atlantic experienced 28 named storms.

In addition, CSU is forecasting a 75% chance that the U.S. coast will be struck by a major hurricane — Category 3 or greater — during the 2020 season. This is significant because damage increases exponentially with wind speed. Category 3, 4 and 5 systems cause 85% of all hurricane damage.

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Barakah nuclear plant (official tweet)

Aljazeera:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with help from China, has built a facility for the extraction of uranium yellowcake, a potential precursor to fuel for a nuclear reactor, in a remote desert location near the small city of Al Ula, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported citing Western officials with knowledge of the site.

The facility, which has not been publicly acknowledged, has raised concern among United States and allied officials that the kingdom’s nascent nuclear programme is moving ahead, and Riyadh is keeping open an option to develop nuclear weapons, according to the report.

Disclosure of the yellowcake processing facility is likely to elevate concern in the US Congress about Saudi nuclear ambitions and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s 2018 pledge that “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

The Saudi Energy Ministry “categorically” denied to the Wall Street Journal the country has built a uranium ore milling facility, but acknowledged contracting with Chinese entities for uranium exploration within Saudi Arabia. 

The Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, did not respond to a request by the Wall Street Journal for comment. Iran has denied it is interested in developing nuclear weapons. Iranian officials did not respond to a request for comment, the paper reported.

Yellowcake is processed from naturally occurring uranium ore and can be further enriched to create fuel for nuclear power plants and, at very high levels of enrichment, nuclear weapons. 

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Casper Star-Tribune (Wyoming):

Workers laid down Wyoming’s last operating gas rig this week in Sweetwater County, dropping the state’s total rig count to zero, a jolting reminder of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This marks only the second time the state’s rig count has reached zero since 1884, according to Pete Obermueller, executive director of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. At the time, Wyoming was still a territory.

The state’s rig count temporarily reached zero on June 26, according to Baker Hughes, but inched back up to one rig the week after.

“It is historic, but not in a great way,” Obermueller said. “There are so many jobs attached to these rigs, and now, people are painfully learning so much revenue is attached too. It’s mind boggling and hard to capture the impact.”

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming estimates one lost rig translates into 100 lost jobs.

Phys. org:

New research released by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and Resources for the Future (RFF) examines the environmental and job creation benefits of plugging orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells. The report authors estimate that a federal program to plug roughly half a million abandoned and so-called “orphaned” oil and gas wells—those where the owner is unknown or insolvent—could create as many as 120,000 jobs and reduce pollution.

“Amid this historic economic downturn, a large federal funding program to plug orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells could deliver stimulative impact by boosting employment quickly in the struggling oil and gas sector while also reducing the emissions that cause climate change,” said report coauthor Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA. “With more than 20 million Americans unemployed in the face of COVID-19 shutdowns, plugging abandoned oil and gas wells could create tens of thousands of new jobs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”

While states and the federal government fund well plugging activities through bonding requirements, industry fees and other sources, the researchers focus on the impacts of plugging well sites that date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, when regulations—including bonding requirements—were weak or nonexistent. Estimates for the total number of orphaned and abandoned wells range from several hundred thousand to 3 million.

“Practically speaking, industry could scale up this week to begin plugging abandoned oil and gas wells,” said report coauthor Daniel Raimi, senior research associate at RFF. “In today’s low oil price environment, the skilled labor and equipment required to do this work is readily available. The question now is one of appetite, and of scale.”

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National Snow and Ice Data Center:

The fast pace of ice loss observed in the beginning of July continued through the third week of July, after which the ice loss rates slowed dramatically. Above-average air temperatures and extensive melt pond development helped to keep the overall sea ice extent at record low levels, however, leading to a new record low for the month of July. Toward the end of the month, a strong low pressure system moved into the ice in the Beaufort Sea region. Antarctic sea ice extent remains below average levels as it climbs towards its seasonal maximum, which is typically reached in early October.

Still frame of an avalanche.

Washington Post:

With climate change bearing down on the planet and the novel coronavirus upending the fossil fuel business, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies on Tuesday mapped out how it plans to navigate the next decade by radically cutting back on its oil and gas business.

The London-based BP said that it will transform itself by halting oil and gas exploration in new countries, slashing oil and gas production by 40 percent, lowering carbon emissions by about a third, and boosting capital spending on low-carbon energy tenfold to $5 billion a year.

“This makes the BP the first supermajor to spell out, in detail, what the energy transition will actually entail, in practical terms,” said Pavel Molchanov, senior energy analyst for the investment firm Raymond James.

While BP announced earlier this year its broad strategy shift to comply with the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord, Tuesday’s earnings report specifically laid out for investors how much — and how soon — this would change the company. BP had in February — before the pandemic hit — vowed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but the new details show major impacts on its business by 2030.

“We believe our new strategy provides a comprehensive and coherent approach to turn our net zero ambition into action,” BP chief executive Bernard Looney said in a statement Tuesday. “This coming decade is critical for the world in the fight against climate change, and to drive the necessary change in global energy systems will require action from everyone.”

The earnings briefing on Tuesday also revealed more of the change in mind-set at the company once known as British Petroleum that gobbled up big rivals such as Amoco and Standard Oil of Ohio to bolster its reserves.

For investors, that means an immediate 50 percent cut in dividends, a significant hit for the British pension funds that rely heavily on BP’s quarterly payments to shareholders. But it will arm the company with more cash as the business reacts to climate change. And on Tuesday, investors applauded; at 10 a.m., BP’s shares jumped more than 6 percent, outpacing smaller gains among other oil companies.

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