ERoEI and Climate Change
ICSUSA Article April 2018 - The Bureau of Labor Statistics graph labeled “U.S. coal mining employment...” which indicates the industry had as many as 175,000 workers in 1985 compared to about 50,000 today. The graph also shows that during the Obama era the number of miners was relatively constant: so much for the purported “war on coal.” . . . In the case of solar about 250,000 workers in the U.S. are involved in the solar industry [manufacture, installation, etc.].
Coal: Are We Beating a Dead Horse?
ICSUSA Article March 2018 - In 2000, coal burning plants provided more than 50% of the U.S. electricity needs: in 2018 it will be less than 30%. This is a huge change or disruption in our infrastructure and economy in such a relatively short period of time. See Bar Chart, “U.S. Electricity Generation By Fuel Type”. Many forces are responsible for this transition. The amount supplied by renewables has doubled from 9% to 18%, the need to reduce toxic pollution of our air and water [mercury], and the reduction of greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions that contribute to climate change. Additionally, human health agencies want a reduction in small air-bourne particles from burning fossil fuels that cause cardiovascular disease, lung-cancer and childhood asthma. The availability of cheap natural gas and the falling prices of renewables [wind and solar] also contribute to this transition.
Artists Engage the Science of Climate Change
ICSUSA Article February 2018 - Earth’s changing climate, primarily caused by the combustion of fossil fuels and resulting carbon dioxide emissions, has brought artists working in all media to express in their own way what is happening to Earth’s climate systems right now. . . .Artists all over the world are expressing their concern about climate change from their own experiences
and in their own individual ways.
The Clean Disruption: Will Help Reduce Emissions Causing Climate Change
ICSUSA Article January 2018 - Technology advances for EVs and the associated advances in battery capacity have been remarkable. Note the graph labeled, “Average battery pack price.” Through 2016 there has been a price drop [in $ per kWh] of 77% since 2010 . . . In October, 2017, GM announced that by 2023 it will have 20 new all-electric models [not hybrids]. Ford announced similar plans. GM is staking its future on this transition. The company sells about 10 million cars per year globally. Its biggest market is in China with 3.9 million sold and about 3 million sold in the U.S. With China’s push to go EVs, GM is focusing to meet that challenge, retain its market share, and the U.S. will be brought along. The clean revolution is coming as EVs will be the car of choice in the near future as ICE are phased out. Other car makers working toward the same goal include Ford, Volvo, Nissan and more; Volkswagon plans on introducing 25 EV models in China alone between 2020 and 2025.
Climate Change: the Clean Disruption Continues
ICSUSA Article December 2017 - So let’s take a look at the illustration labeled “Global Energy Potential.” Inside the largest circle is “SOLAR 23,000 TW” or 23,000 trillion watts. This is the total amount of solar energy received by Earth from the Sun in terawatts [TW]. Just below and to the right is, “World Energy consumption 16 TW.” So, the Sun is sending us over 1,500 times as much solar energy as we currently consume! The six smaller circles within the large circle are all renewable sources of energy. The largest of these six is wind energy, and in some combination, these renewables can significantly reduce our carbon emissions. However, by a large measure, solar is the key. Three of the four circles to the right are fossil fuel reserves [coal, oil, natural gas] and their potential to meet civilizations energy needs. The remaining circle is Uranium, used for generating nuclear power. Clearly, Solar and Wind must become the majority of our power generation, and soon; Very soon.
Climate Change and the Great Disruption
ICSUSA Article November 2017 - Module costs have dropped in half since 2008. The implication is that if one made a business decision in 2008 to proceed with a nuclear or fossil fuel burning generating plant based on the cost of PV modules at that time, that business plan may have to be scrapped today due to the rapidly falling PV costs. It would not be economical. And, this is exactly what is happening around the world. Hundreds of coal burning plants are being retired, mothballed, and/or construction stopped with China taking the major initiative.
Climate Change: Carbon Diem
ICSUSA Article October 2017 - It is notable that with the data only through July 7, 2017 it does not include extreme weather events since then. Preliminary estimates of the cost of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria exceeds $290 billion [AccuWeather September 12, 2017] and will take us off the chart. Now we are beginning to talk about some real money. This represents about 1.5% of the total annual Gross National Product [GDP] of the United States. These extreme events may be a part of a new “norm.” Earlier this year California and other parts of the West had record breaking rain and snowfall events. But then the drought started along with high temperatures and very dry air. Add in lightning strikes to this mix and this brew has led to an earlier than normal wildfire season across parts of five states; CA, MT, ID, WA, and OR with millions of acres burned.
Climate Change and Y2K
ICSUSA Article September 2017 - If global emissions peak in 2016 [indications are that we may be close], then the world has 25 years to bring carbon dioxide [CO2] emissions to ZERO. If we wait until 2020 for emissions to peak, then we would have about 20 years to bring emissions to ZERO.But if we delay until 2025 for emissions to peak, then we have an almost impossible task. We would have to transform the global economy and bring emissions to ZERO in 10 years to avoid the worst
effects of climate change.
Climate Science: It’s Carbon Dioxide Silly!
ICSUSA Article August 2017 - Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas [GHG], and the rising level of this GHG in Earth’s atmosphere is causing our planet to warm with major consequences [droughts, rising sea levels, increased global temperatures, extreme weather, etc]. The rapidly rising atmospheric levels of this GHG are anthropogenic in origin: we humans are the cause for this increase. This comes from the combustion of vast amounts of gas, coal, and oil, and land use changes [agriculture, and deforestation tropical forests].
Climate Change: Let’s Cool it and Talk About Ice
ICSUSA Article July 2017 - So what is happening in Antarctica? The story here is a bit different. The air temperatures in this region do not get above freezing [32°F] for any length of time and so
surface melt is relatively small. However, most of the ice lost from Antarctic glaciers as they flow off the land is caused by warmer ocean waters that eat away the glaciers or ice shelves from below. As these ice shelves melt and shrink in size, the flow of the massive land ice behind them, literally ice-rivers, accelerates as there is less ice to hold them back
Climate Science: Step Forward and Half Step Back
ICSUSA Article June 2017 - In 1989 the first layman’s book titled, ”The End of Nature,” by Bill McKibben, was published on this subject of a changing climate. During his presidency, President H. W. Bush ultimately took a more active role in international efforts to study and address global warming, which led to the Earth Summit agreement in Rio de Janeiro signed by 154 countries. That was 25 years ago. Today, rather than join the 195 countries that signed the Paris Accords in 2015 to reduce CO2 emissions, the policy of the U.S. is to accelerate its consumption of fossil fuels, the source of most of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. This policy is condemning our planet, and ourselves, to increased temperatures with all of its attendant effects on extreme weather, species extinction and more.
Climate Change and Earth’s Carbon Budget
ICSUSA Article May 2017 - So it seems we should be taking Will Rogers quote seriously; we should “stop digging.” The primary reason is that we, the citizens on this planet, and the planet itself, have a carbon budget. Just as with our check books and credit cards there is a limit to how much we can spend. The Earth’s carbon budget is how much carbon can we burn and still keep temperature increases below 2 degrees centigrade [3.6 ºF]. Data says we should keep temperature increases below this amount to avoid the worst effects of climate change and the extreme weather events, rising sea levels, droughts and other impacts that will result. And we do actually have a budget. Note the horizontal bar chart with the large numbers associated with it. The top line shows that we have put into the atmosphere 2,103,192,995,039 [trillion] tons of carbon dioxide or 72% of the planet’s budget. We can only place 796,807,004,961 [billions] of tons more of this GHG into our air. At our current rate of consumption we will exceed our carbon budget in less than 20 years.
Climate Change; Whales and Wind Energy
ICSUSA Article April 2017 - New England had about 795 ships of the 900 in the world dedicated to this slaughter. There were tens of thousands of people involved in this industry. With few whales remaining, and voyages lasting up to 2 years or more before returning to port with whale oil, the whole industry collapsed. American business, and the workers in this trade, went through a wrenching transition to a new economy. An industrial era was emerging based on petroleum, gas, and eventually electricity and required workers to learn new skills as opportunities developed elsewhere. Today the U.S. economy is going through major changes again. Robotics used in manufacturing has displaced many workers and now a major transition is happening in the area of energy supply. Automation and robotics used in the production of coal and oil has increased output significantly, at a lower unit cost, and requires far less workers.
Climate Change and An Earlier Energy Transformation
ICSUSA Article March 2017 - In 1900, New York City had approximately 120,000 horses hauling people and goods around the streets of the city as “The Big Apple”, as it is now known, went about its daily business. Based on simple biology the horses in NYC alone delivered over 2 million pounds of manure per day on the city streets; every day. This horse power required livery stables, hundreds of blacksmith shops, wagon sales and repair businesses, wheelwright shops and hundreds more stores dealing in saddles, harnesses, hay, grain and more. . . .When we consider this, it was an amazing transformation to our economy and way of doing business. The dislocations to people, businesses, employees and other aspects of commerce at that time were huge. It was definitely a “climate change” as odors, flies, many diseases and related issues went away. . .
Climate Change: Strawberry or Watermelon Ice?
ICSUSA Article February 2017 - In a peer review paper published in Nature Communications in December 2016, a team of geobiologists from Germany and Britain collected samples from 16 glaciers across the Arctic. They found that the algae was widespread and that the normally green algae turned red upon exposure to ultraviolet rays; a kind of natural sunscreen which also happens to absorb heat . . . This inter-connectness of increasing global temperatures, decreased ice extent in the Arctic, increased amount of open water, algae blooms that absorb solar energy, and more, all work together to change Earth’s climate. And it is changing.
Volcanos and Climate Change: It’s All in the Numbers
ICSUSA Article January 2017 - This science is well understood and accepted by the rest of the world. At the Climate Conference in Marrakesh in November, 2016, 195 nations including the U.S. reaffirmed their commitment to reduce GHG emissions. See photo “We Will Move Ahead” taken at the conclusion of that meeting [courtesy COP22]. The goal is still to try to limit Earth’s temperature rise below 3.6°F [we are already plus 2°F higher than long term average]. So what can be done? There is a lot happening right now to reduce emissions. We are beginning to see a convergence of technologies, business opportunities, cost reductions, and policy leadership at the state and local level that all combine to begin the changeover from fossil fuels to renewables.