Resilience Roundup - Mar 18
As temperatures soar, new doubts arise about holding warming to 2 degrees C
Chris Mooney, Washington Post
February 2016 was a stunningly warm month. According to NASA data, it was the most anomalously hot month the Earth has seen since record keeping began — fully 1.35 degrees Celsius (2.43 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average from 1951-1980...
At the same time, meanwhile, two pieces of new research have questioned whether, from an energy standpoint, keeping long term warming below 2 degrees C is even likely to be possible.
Take, for instance, a study, just released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research this week. In it, Richard Newell of Duke University and two colleagues use a “harmonization” methodology to reconcile and compare future energy outlooks issued by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ExxonMobil, BP, and others...
A second new study, just out in Energy Policy by Glenn Jones and Kevin Warner of Texas A&M University at Galveston, raises further doubts. Using a modeling approach to take into account energy demand (expected to greatly increase), population growth (also set to boom), and greenhouse gas emissions between now and the end of the century, they find a giant energy hurdle for a world that, presumably, also wants to battle climate change...
WHO: Environment causes one in four deaths
Louise Osborne, DeutscheWelle
Environmental factors like air, water and soil pollution cause one in four deaths worldwide, the WHO says. Environmentally linked deaths are most prevalent in Southeast Asia.
Got Denmark envy? Wait until you hear about its energy policies.
David Roberts, Vox
Bernie Sanders's unexpectedly strong presidential campaign has drawn a great deal of attention to the small Northern European nation of Denmark (population 5.6 million), which Sanders and many other liberals cite as a social democratic success story...
Missing, however, has been any love for one of Denmark's coolest features, namely it's progressive energy policies. If the US left is really about "getting to Denmark" (a hip new phrase coined by political scientist Francis Fukuyama), this is a great place to look...
Here's a graphic from a presentation on Denmark's energy efforts:
Obama expected to severely limit oil drilling in Arctic and Atlantic
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian
The Obama administration promised to protect Atlantic waters for future generations on Tuesday, raising expectations that waters off the US east coast and Alaska would be protected from oil and gas drilling.
The expected decision reverses Barack Obama’s move just last year to open up a vast swath of the Atlantic coast to drilling – and consolidates the president’s efforts to protect the Arctic and fight climate change during his final months in the White House.
The five-year drilling plan, which will be formally announced by the Interior Department, was expected to block immediate prospects of hunting for oil in the Arctic and much of the Atlantic, according to those familiar with the proposals.
Environmental advocates called Obama’s expected announcement an outsize victory for reducing climate change despite the efforts of major corporations...
The demise of GM and the new future of food
Peter Melchett, The Ecologist
BASF are to halve their GM research and development and reduce the time spent on developing these technologies, writes Peter Melchett. Given the many problems that GM agriculture is facing, and that new non-GE technologies offer such valuable benefits as increased crop yields, does BASF's announcement spell the beginning of the end of GM crops?...
Regenerating degraded dirt
Britt E. Erickson, Chemical & Engineering News
The world’s soils are rapidly degrading. More and more farmers are trying to reinvigorate them by increasing soil organic matter. Techniques such as planting cover crops, adopting no-till practices, and adding biochar increase organic matter, reduce erosion, enhance soil’s water-holding capacity, and help keep nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from washing away. They also increase the amount of carbon dioxide that plants strip from the atmosphere, which gets locked into soil as stable organic compounds. Food companies and governments are hoping to get more farmers to adopt these practices to make agriculture more resilient to droughts and extreme weather associated with human-caused climate change...
The Terrible Oil News Nobody Noticed
Matt Badiali, Wolf Street
A terrible bit of news went unnoticed in the commotion amid the modest rebound in oil prices over the past two weeks. While every news outlet shouted about Iran and OPEC, a U.S. energy icon quietly announced news that could potentially shatter the industry.
As I’ve explained recently, many oil companies are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. But news out of Alaska could lead to disaster.
BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust (BPT) – operated by the Alaskan division of oil giant British Petroleum (BP) – sells oil from the Prudhoe Bay oilfield.
It just announced a 65% drop in its economic oil reserves...
Opec has failed to stop US shale revolution admits energy watchdog
Ambrose Evans Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph
The current crash in oil prices is sowing the seeds of a powerful rebound and a potential supply crunch by the end of the decade, but the prize may go to the US shale industry rather Opec, the world's energy watchdog has predicted.
America's shale oil producers and Canada's oil sands will come roaring back from late 2017 onwards once the current brutal purge is over, a cycle it described as the "rise, fall and rise again" of the fracking industry.
"Anybody who believes the US revolution has stalled should think again. We have been very surprised at how resilient it is," said Neil Atkinson, head of oil markets at the International Energy Agency...
Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said this alone will not be enough to avert the risk of a strategic oil crisis later in the decade, given the exhaustion of existing wells and the dangerously low levels of spare capacity in the world.
"Even if there were zero growth in demand, we would have to produce 3m b/d just to stand still," he said, speaking at the IHS CERAWeek summit of energy leaders in Texas...
Peabody shares plunge; coal producer raises bankruptcy risk
Jessica Dinapoli, Reuters
Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N), the largest U.S. coal producer, may have to seek bankruptcy protection, the company said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday, citing poor economies in countries that import coal and other factors battering the coal industry.
Its shares fell 46 percent to $2.16.
Falling demand for coal, tougher environmental controls and cheaper natural gas have pushed several big coal miners, including Arch Coal Inc ACIIQ.PK, into bankruptcy in the past year...
German coal is worthless
Craig Morris, Energy Transition DE
Back in November, we wrote about how Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall wanted to sell its coal resources in Germany after elections in Sweden in October 2014, which a climate-friendly government won. One bidder was Greenpeace, which offered to set up a lignite foundation to manage the closure of the coal plants and lignite fields. The NGO’s offer was not seriously considered, however, in mid-March it turned out that the Swedes did not receive a single bid considered reasonable. One bidder apparently even asked to be paid to take on the coal resources...
Can you put a price on nature? A Californian nonprofit thinks it can
Mary Catherine O'Connor, The Guardian
Everyone agrees that nature has value. It clothes, feeds and shelters us – and provides a spectacular playground. Yet we have never put a value on everything nature offers.
Now, environmental and sustainable business consultants want to change that by forcing corporate leaders to take stock of the economic impact of how they manage natural resources. By accounting for this so-called natural capital, the advocates hope to see more businesses adopting practices that are both good for the environment and long term profitability, especially as climate change will further deplete natural resources, causing their values to climb and increase the cost of running business. In a 1997 paper in Nature that first introduced the natural capital concept, the 13 researchers involved pegged the Earth’s worth at $33tn. A 2014 revision raised that figure to $134tn...
But turning natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides, such as pollination and erosion prevention, into line items with standard costs and benefits for each business is a hugely difficult, controversial task. Despite the creation of nearly 20 different valuation tools, not many corporations have embraced natural capital accounting because they are not mandated to do so – and some question the benefit of using it to calculate their bottom lines. A California nonprofit called The Earth Genome thinks it can change that, working with the world’s second largest chemical company, Dow, to prove the power of its data-crunching tool...
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