Resilience Roundup - July 24
Climate models accurately predicted global warming when reflecting natural ocean cycles
Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian
A new study shows that when synchronized with El Niño/La Niña cycles, climate models accurately predict global surface warming.
The elephant in the atmosphere
Editorial, The Economist
IN SEPTEMBER 2013 a group of institutional investors with $3 trillion of assets under management asked the 45 biggest quoted oil firms how climate change might affect their business and, in particular, whether any of their oil reserves might become “stranded assets”—unusable if laws to curb emissions of carbon dioxide became really tight. Exxon Mobil and Shell are the most recent to get back with their assessment of the risk: zero. “We do not believe that any of our proven reserves will become ‘stranded’,” says Shell. In many areas of commerce, investors and managers are trying to harness the power of markets for environmental purposes. In oil and gas—the business which causes by far the most carbon emissions—investors and managers seem set on a collision course...
Obama Administration Opens Eastern Seaboard To Oil Drilling Surveys
RyanN Koronowski, Think Progress
On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the use of seismic airguns to explore the seabed from Cape May to Cape Canaveral for oil and gas...
It’s not a surprise that this is dangerous: even BOEM estimates that this practice will disrupt, injure, or kill millions of marine animals, including the most endangered whale species on the planet...
OPEC’s Two-Decade Ride on Global Growth Stalls: Chart of the Day
Grant Smith, Bloomberg
For the past two decades, growth in the global economy spelled higher revenues for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Not any more.
California and Texas are mainstreaming renewable energy
Mike G, DeSmogBlog via The Ecologist
California and Texas continue to break new ground in making electricity generation from renewable sources, writes Mike G. Solar PV in particular has become a vital part of the US' energy mix, accounting for half of new generation capacity.
In California, May 2014 recorded three times as much solar generation as the same month in 2013. California, for its part, is following up on the huge year solar energy had in 2013 by breaking the record for single-day solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation back in March, and then breaking its own record on June 1...
Why The Fossil Fuel Industry Hates Wind Power
Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy
Wind energy has a significant impact on wholesale prices, particularly in those peak demand events when fossil fuel generators used to make most money.
New research from the University of Queensland has added more understanding about why fossil fuel generators hate wind energy, and why they are seeking to bring the renewable energy target to a halt, or at least have it greatly reduced...
Off-Grid, Clean Energy Access Market Valued at $12 Billion
Justin Guay - Sierra Club, Huffington Post
One in five people around the world, approximately 1.3 billion people, lack access to electricity.
Today, the Sierra Club is releasing a new report -- "Clean Energy Services For All (CES4All)" -- showing that off-grid clean energy is the right tool for the energy access job. That's because it's the fastest, cheapest, and most effective means of ending energy poverty -- and it's going to create a $12 billion annual industry by 2030.
Working with Evan Mills of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Stewart Craine of Village Infrastructure Angels, we have provided one of the first estimates of future growth for the rapidly expanding clean energy access market...
Texas judge upholds $3 million fracking verdict
Mica Rosenberg, Reuters
A Texas judge upheld a $3 million jury verdict by ruling in favor of a family who claimed that oil and gas drilling near their land made them sick, in a landmark case hailed as a victory by anti-fracking activists.
Last week's ruling, confirmed by lawyers on Tuesday, is the latest step in a three-year case that began when Bob and Lisa Parr filed suit against a handful of oil companies claiming that fumes from drilling around their 40-acre (16-hectare) ranch exposed them and their livestock to hazardous gases and industrial chemicals...
Effort to Avoid Vote on Fracking Falters in Colorado
Jack Healy, New York Times
Efforts by leading Colorado Democrats to head off a costly and divisive election-year fight over oil and gas drilling appeared to crumble on Wednesday as Gov. John W. Hickenlooper announced that he did not have enough support to pass a compromise law giving local towns more control over fracking in their backyards.
“Despite our best efforts and those of other willing partners, we have not been able to secure the broader stakeholder support necessary to pass bipartisan legislation in a special session,” Mr. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a statement...
UK council rejects Celtique Energie's fracking proposal
Nina Chesty, Reuters
A plan by London-based oil and gas exploration firm Celtique Energie to drill for shale gas in southern England failed to win county government approval on Tuesday, the latest in a series of setbacks to Britain's fledgling shale industry.
Citing concerns about noise and the impact on the environment, West Sussex County Council's planning committee rejected the firm's application for permission to explore for oil and gas in Wisborough Green for three years...
Replacing oil and coal with shale gas will not cut greenhouse gas emissions, study finds
Tom Revell, Blue Green Tomorrow
In the paper, published in the journal Energy Science & Engineering, Dr Robert Howarth, of Cornell University, suggests gasses actually have a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal or oil, which are usually thought of as the more polluting fossil fuels.
The study explains that while the burning of natural and shale gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal and oil, they emit far more methane. While carbon emissions have the bigger impact on the world’s climate because of their quantity, methane is a far more effective greenhouse gas...
Link to report
The water-energy nexus could become a collision in a warming world
Jonathan Thompson, High Country News
If you thought fracking was a water-guzzling and violent way to get the oil and gas flowing from shale, then you should check out oil shale* retorting. Earlier this month, details were made public regarding an oil shale project Chevron proposes for western Colorado. Of particular note was the amount of energy and water it will take to produce 100,000 barrels of oil per day. If you think about it, it makes about as much sense as melting down five quarters to make a silver dollar...
A World Without Water - FT investigation
Water is needed for almost every aspect of energy production, from digging up fossil fuels to refining oil and generating power, and the amount of water consumed by the sector is on track to double within the next 25 years, according to the International Energy Agency.
Detroit will stop shutting off people’s water — for now
Heather Smith, Grist
Monday morning, the Detroit Water and Sewerage District (DWSD) announced that it would stop shutting off people’s water, at least for now. What was it, in this infrastructural showdown I wrote about last week, that caused the change of heart? Was it the condemnation from the U.N.? The protestors blocking utility shut-off trucks? The giant march on Friday, featuring Mark Ruffalo and a megaphone? The children holding signs that read “We need water to brush our teeth”?
The DWSD isn’t saying. Here’s what it is saying: “We are pausing for 15 days to refocus our efforts on trying to identify people who we have missed in the process who may qualify for the Detroit Residential Water Assistance Program.” That’s according to DWSD spokesperson Bill Johnson in a phone interview this morning...
Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design
Lloyd Alter, The Guardian
It is hard to find something that we actually got right in the modern bathroom. The toilet is too high (our bodies were designed to squat), the sink is too low and almost useless; the shower is a deathtrap (an American dies every day from bath or shower accidents). We fill this tiny, inadequately ventilated room with toxic chemicals ranging from nail polish to tile cleaners. We flush the toilet and send bacteria into the air, with our toothbrush in a cup a few feet away. We take millions of gallons of fresh water and contaminate it with toxic chemicals, human waste, antibiotics and birth control hormones in quantities large enough to change the gender of fish...
What could the bathroom of the future look like?...
How to feed 3 billion extra people — without trashing the planet
Brad Plumer, Vox
One of the daunting challenges of the coming century will be figuring out how to grow enough food for everyone on the planet. And all without destroying the planet.
That's harder than it sounds. The global population is expected to swell from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050. On top of that, countries like China and India are getting richer and eating more meat — a particularly resource-intensive type of food...
So how can countries change this? That's the subject of a new study in Science, led by Paul West of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. The authors identify just a few improvements to farms in a handful of countries that could help feed billions more...
Avaaz's global 'ebay of seeds' - how did they get it so wrong?
Julian Rose, The Ecologist
Already 56,000 people have pledged to support a global 'internet seed swap' initiative promoted by Avaaz, writes Julian Rose. Trouble is, the plans are deeply flawed, and have been developed without consultation with major seed saving groups worldwide...
Park and ride schemes not as eco-friendly as first thought
Emma Collins, Blue Green Tomorrow
Park and ride schemes in the UK can actually increase traffic and have a negative impact on the environment, according to new research.
In a new series of short films from the University of the West of England, experts talk about transport issues. In one, Professor Graham Parkhurst explains how “most park and ride schemes increase traffic”, instead of working as a mean of sustainable transport...
Los Angeles bike trains - beating the traffic in a car-centric city
Laura Laker, The Guardian
Nona Varnado was terrified of lethal LA drivers, but all that changed when she set up safe routes for group commuting...
Phoenix is cooking the planet to refrigerate its buildings
Lloyd Alter, Treehugger
Many years ago in Slate, William Saletan wrote in the Deluded world of air conditioning:
Air conditioning takes indoor heat and pushes it outdoors. To do this, it uses energy, which increases production of greenhouse gases, which warm the atmosphere. From a cooling standpoint, the first transaction is a wash, and the second is a loss. We're cooking our planet to refrigerate the diminishing part that's still habitable.
In fact, a new study shows that the first transaction is not a wash at all. The air conditioning actually is heating up the outdoors. In Phoenix, a team from Arizona State University found that air conditioning didn't make much of a difference in outdoor daytime temperatures, but at night, when temperatures drop to about 80 degrees...
San Francisco’s plastic ban sends seismic wave around the world
Laurie Balbo, Green Prophet
Look West, Middle East – for a failsafe way to ween off one-use plastic bottles! Banning plastics is the best first step to eliminating this poisonous prodrome of modern civilization.
Last March, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass a bottle-banning ordinance – quickly signed into law by Mayor Edwin M. Lee – prohibiting the sale of plastic water bottles on public property throughout this seismically-active city. The ban goes into effect in October 2014, the first of its kind in America: will it resonate around the world as a model in dealing with municipal waste?...
On a White Horse (poem by Mike Galsworthy)
Mike Galsworthy, YouTube
Wolfgang Streeck, New Left Review
...Crisis symptoms are many, but prominent among them are three long-term trends in the trajectories of rich, highly industrialized—or better, increasingly deindustrialized—capitalist countries. The first is a persistent decline in the rate of economic growth, recently aggravated by the events of 2008 (Figure 1, below). The second, associated with the first, is an equally persistent rise in overall indebtedness in leading capitalist states, where governments, private households and non-financial as well as financial firms have, over forty years, continued to pile up financial obligations (for the US, see Figure 2, below). Third, economic inequality, of both income and wealth, has been on the ascent for several decades now (Figure 3, below), alongside rising debt and declining growth.
What If Climate Change Triggers Cooperation, Not Conflict?
Diana Liverman, Huffinton Post
"Climate change increases the likelihood of war and terrorism," President Obama said earlier this summer. The Pentagon and a distinguished committee of retired generals and admirals both produced reports earlier this year highlighting the accelerating risks of climate change to US national security. A recent Showtime series on climate change had Tom Friedman linking climate change to political instability in the Middle East.
But what is the basis of these claims? Do we have good evidence to support the connection between climate, conflict, and war? Not really...
The Strange Relationship Between Global Warming Denial and…Speaking English
Chris Mooney, Mother Jones
Here in the United States, we fret a lot about global warming denial. Not only is it a dangerous delusion, it's an incredibly prevalent one. Depending on your survey instrument of choice, we regularly learn that substantial minorities of Americans deny, or are skeptical of, the science of climate change.
The global picture, however, is quite different. For instance, recently the UK-based market research firm Ipsos MORI released its "Global Trends 2014" report, which included a number of survey questions on the environment asked across 20 countries. (h/t Leo Hickman). And when it came to climate change, the result was very telling:...
Link to survey.
What do you think? Leave a comment below. See our commenting guidelines.
Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.