Posts tagged “Environment”
Bloomberg and others have reported that in August the Canadian Prime Minister sent a letter to President Obama, proposing to work with the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a way to facilitate US approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL.) The only surprising aspect of this story, if accurate, is that it has taken so long for so obvious a solution to be floated. If, as I believe, opposition to the pipeline has little to do with potential spills and local rights of way, and everything to do with the emissions profile of Canadian oil sands crude — accurately or not — then environmentalists should welcome this overture.
All CO2 Is Equivalent
You would never know it from protest slogans conflating all types of air pollution as if they were identical, but the characteristics and effects of greenhouse gases (GHGs) like CO2 are very different from the smog-forming emissions from automobile tailpipes or the sulfate pollution from coal power plants. For that matter, air containing 400 ppm of CO2 (0.04%) is no more harmful to breathe than pre-industrial air with 280 ppm of CO2. More relevant to the current topic, it is also a fact that the climate consequences of each ton of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere are the same as for every other ton, regardless of where they are emitted or from what source. While scientists can distinguish CO2 from fossil fuel combustion from the CO2 you just exhaled, based on differences in the ratio of carbon isotopes they carry, the effect of these on global warming is essentially identical.
What Can Obama Do?
The President has begun his second term in office by saying that he will act on climate change, stating in his inaugural address: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
However, the question now becomes: what can President Obama do about climate change? He made action on climate change a central argument during his 2008 campaign and early in his first term, but failed in the effort to pass major emissions reduction legislation through Congress. While the stimulus had many important clean energy sections, it is unclear whether these will result in lasting changes in our economy.
Market-Based Actions Are Most Effective
Having tried and failed to pass major climate legislation through Congress in 2009 and 2010, and knowing that a polarized Congress is unlikely to address this again in the next few years, I believe that the Administration will move towards a two-pronged approach that uses regulation at home, but prioritizes action on climate as a tool of international relations.
(Read More: Why Climate Change is a Matter of National Security)
I made a trip to my forest property last weekend where I took these photos. The rough skinned newts had returned to the lakes from their terrestrial stage winter wonderings, just in time to avoid their main predators, the snakes that were hibernating. The frog tadpoles were plentiful in seasonal ponds that will eventually dry up, concentrating their numbers into smaller and smaller areas. The snakes and herons will have a heyday then, but that is part of the reproductive strategy. Like with salmon, the tadpoles will be too numerous to all be eaten. The snakes will get full way before the tadpoles are gone. The emerald tree frogs only lay eggs in ponds that dry up in the summer because they don’t have major predators in them like fish and turtles. Nature, what remains of it, always amazes me.
This week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV considers a couple of questions that I receive from time to time. The questions are as follows: You’ve called yourself an environmentalist in the past; can you expound on that? What causes do you support? Do you get enjoyment out of debunking myths? Next week’s episode will touch on the politics of energy, as well as the single most important question to ask when you encounter an energy claim that sounds too good to be true. Readers who have specific questions can send them to ask [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com or leave the question after this post (at the original source). Consider subscribing to our YouTube channel where you’ll be able to view… Continue»
Signs of Recovery While it will only be with years of hindsight that we can determine the total environmental impact of the Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, there are encouraging signs that the environmental devastation will be less severe than many had feared. Today a reader sent me this encouraging story: Oil spill area coming back to life More than a dozen scientists interviewed by The Associated Press say the marsh here and across the Louisiana coast is healing itself, giving them hope delicate wetlands might weather the worst offshore spill in US history better than they had feared. Some marshland could be lost, but the amount appears to be small compared with what the coast loses every… Continue»
Last December, I received an intriguing request from the Public Relations Director at the world’s largest ethanol producer. Nathan Schock asked if I would be interested in posing a video question that would be answered by POET CEO Jeff Broin. He said that any topic was fair game, except for questions dealing with proprietary information. I considered a number of questions, and wrote an essay detailing my thought process as I ran through a list of potential questions: The Questions I Didn’t Ask. But I had one question that had been weighing on my mind more than any other, and I posed that one in the video I sent in. Since then, Nathan and I have exchanged a number of… Continue»
I have been asked to submit a video question on ethanol policy that will be potentially answered in a video blog by someone who is very well-known in the energy business. I will keep the details quiet for now, including the question I did submit. (I thought I would be able to record my question with stunning Hawaiian scenery in the background, but alas it has been raining for two days). I really had to brainstorm on exactly which question I would ask. I made a short list, and finally honed it down to one that I think is fair, but tough. But I had a number that I decided not to ask, either because I already knew how it… Continue»
With the newly created Paramount Energy Solutions, Paramount Equity and SolarCity plan on providing inexpensive solar systems.
What a vicious chain of events our politicians have set into motion. It just continues to worsen. It started out innocently enough. Oil prices were climbing. Our energy production was shifting to an ever greater extent to countries that are hostile to the U.S. So, Step 1 is to propose a solution: 1. Subsidize ethanol production to encourage biofuels and enhance energy security. However, subsidies didn’t do the trick. It was still too expensive to produce ethanol. People still chose gasoline derived from hostile sources over more expensive ethanol. What we really needed was Step 2. 2. Let’s mandate ethanol usage. At the point that the subsidy turns into a mandate, things change. Now, the fuel doesn’t have to be… Continue»
(Also, a Barack Obama discussion in the comments following this essay). The Guardian has just published a list of 50 people who may save us all from “stranded polar bears, melting glaciers, dried-out rivers and flooding on a horrific scale.” Some of the names certainly belong on the list, and some left me shaking my head: 50 people who could save the planet It is pretty clear to me that the author couldn’t really distinguish between what is complete hype, and what may actually work. Some will get a kick out of seeing Amory Lovins on the list. Especially in light of this article in Energy Tribune. Leonardo DiCaprio is also on the list, but I think he is a… Continue»