Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Global warming’ Category

More than 800m Amazon trees felled in six years to meet beef demand

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Why is the Amazon rainforest being cut down? Profit. Why are more and more fossil fuels being extracted with new fields developed? Profit. Why is the earth becoming uninhabitable? That’s an unfortunate side effect, but look at how much profit was made.

Andrew Wasley, Elisângela Mendonça, Youssr Youssef, and Robert Soutar report in the Guardian:

More than 800m trees have been cut down in the Amazon rainforest in just six years to feed the world’s appetite for Brazilian beef, according to a new investigation, despite dire warnings about the forest’s importance in fighting the climate crisis.

A data-driven investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), the Guardian, Repórter Brasil and Forbidden Stories shows systematic and vast forest loss linked to cattle farming.

The beef industry in Brazil has consistently pledged to avoid farms linked to deforestation. However, the data suggests that 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) of the Amazon was destroyed near meat plants exporting beef around the world.

The investigation is part of Forbidden Stories’ Bruno and Dom project. It continues the work of Bruno Pereira, an Indigenous peoples expert, and Dom Phillips, a journalist who was a longtime contributor to the Guardian​​. The two men were killed in the Amazon last year.

Deforestation across Brazil soared between 2019 and 2022 under the then president, Jair Bolsonaro, with cattle ranching being the number one cause. The new administration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has promised to curb the destruction.

Researchers at the AidEnvironment consultancy used satellite imagery, livestock movement records and other data to calculate estimated forest loss over six years, between 2017 and 2022 on thousands of ranches near more than 20 slaughterhouses. All the meat plants were owned by Brazil’s big three beef operators and exporters – JBS, Marfrig and Minerv​a.

To find the farms that were most likely to have supplied each slaughterhouse, the researchers looked at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2023 at 8:40 pm

Carl Sagan’s Warning of Climate Disasters

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These warnings were made in the 1980s — 40 years ago. People in power did not listen then, and they’re not listening now as they continue to subsidize the burning of fossil fuels and the production of oil (e.g., oil-depletion allowance).

Written by Leisureguy

22 May 2023 at 12:45 pm

Rethinking autos

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From a post on Mastodon:

 • A car is parked 92% of the time.
 • A car spends 20% of its driving time looking for parking.
 • Its 5 seats move only 1.5 people on average.
 • 86% of its fuel never reaches the wheels.
 • A road at peak throughput is only 10% covered with cars.

Written by Leisureguy

21 April 2023 at 8:14 pm

Fire and Ice: NPR explains the mechanisms by which climate change is wrecking weather systems

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This interactive explanation is very much worth viewing.

Written by Leisureguy

20 April 2023 at 4:54 pm

In the midst of Arizona’s historic drought, a Saudi company is tapping into its groundwater

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Arizona is foolishly generous, as Talib Visram describes in Fast Company:

Along with its arid neighbors, Arizona is 23 years into a megadrought. Some say it might be the worst drought since 800 A.D.

Yet, despite that, a Saudi company has been pumping the groundwater out of Arizona soil for nine years, which it uses to grow crops to feed its cattle 8,000 miles away. That’s just one example Arizona’s glaringly nonrestrictive water management even in the face of unprecedented water shortage.

The historic drought has brought Arizona’s unique laissez-faire water system to light. The state allows unregulated groundwater pumping in its rural areas, benefitting ordinary farmers in the short run, but also allowing out-of-state and foreign corporations to take advantage of the resource. As the drought worsens, ordinary Arizonans see the need for more regulation, and the new Democratic governor is trying to usher in new legislation before it’s too late.

Forty percent of Arizona’s water supply is from groundwater—that is, water accumulated in cracks and crevices between soil and sand, which collects in aquifers, underground layers of permeable rock. Water is extracted by drilling into the aquifers and pumping it out through wells.

But Arizona has one of the most lax systems for pumping, which Natalie Koch, a political geographer and a professor at Germany’s Heidelberg University, calls a “wild west” approach. “You can pump as much water as you want, and nobody is checking,” she says. It stands out from the six other states in the Colorado River basin—California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming—which all regulate their pumping.

Before 1980, groundwater access was a complete free-for-all. But that year—only after federal pressure—the state passed the Arizona Groundwater Management Act, which somewhat limited and regulated pumping in the most populous and fast-growing areas, including Phoenix and Tucson. Still, that leaves the rest of the state with an unregulated system, one that Haley Paul, policy director for Water for Arizona, calls a “help-yourself” system.

And entities have certainly helped themselves. Most notably, in 2014, Fondomonte, the parent corporation of Saudi company Almarai, the largest dairy company in the Middle East, purchased 3,500 acres of land in Butler Valley in Western Arizona. It was one of many land acquisition deals that the Saudis made after depleting most of their own groundwater, explains Koch, who has written a book about the “entangled fates” of Arizona and Saudi Arabia.

Fondomonte leased the land from the state for well below market value (the new Democratic Attorney General has called for an investigation of the previous administration as to why the price was so low). Then, they built more wells and drilled deeper than before, in order to produce eight or nine harvests of water-intensive alfalfa each year to send to feed their cattle at home. That amount of water is roughly the equivalent of what 54,000 homes would use every year.

While the Saudi deal is notable in highlighting the broader problem, the water it pumps is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 April 2023 at 10:44 am

Record-Breaking Rates of Sea-Level Rise Found Along the U.S. Southeast and Gulf Coasts

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We’ve been warned for more than 50 years that, if we fail to take action on climate change, the sea will rise. Now it’s here and — oddly — people are not prepared for it.

Tulane University writes in SciTech Daily:

A new study led by scientists at Tulane University reveals that sea levels along the U.S. Southeast and Gulf coasts have rapidly accelerated over the past 12 years, reaching record-breaking rates of about half an inch per year since 2010. The acceleration is attributed to the compounding effects of man-made climate change and natural climate variability. The acceleration extends from the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina and into the North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Seas, affecting the entire Subtropical Gyre area. This acceleration is primarily due to changing wind patterns and continued warming, causing warmer water masses to need more space, leading to a rise in sea level. Although rates will likely return to more moderate values in the coming decades, the study highlights the urgency of addressing climate change to protect vulnerable coastlines.

Researchers found rates of sea-level rise of about a half an inch per year since 2010 — three times higher than the global average over the same period. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 April 2023 at 10:31 am

Solar panels handle heat better when they’re combined with crops

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Solar panels mounted on posts (and sloping to face the sun) abovve crops in a garden.

Emma Brice reports in Anthropocene Magazine:

It’s an ironic fact that sun-harvesting solar panels function better when they’re not too hot. But luckily researchers have now discovered precisely how to cool them down. Building solar panels at a specific height above crops can reduce surface temperatures by up to 10 °C, compared to traditional panels constructed over bare ground, they’ve found.

The results, published in the journal Applied Energy, are the latest contribution to a growing body of research on agrivoltaics: a farming method that aims to maximize land use by pairing solar panels with cropland, thus minimizing competition between energy production and food. We already know that agrivoltaics can increase land-use efficiency, produce plenty of electricity on minimal land, and may also improve crop yields by shielding plants from heat and wind. 

But how to maximize this relationship for the hard-working solar panels is something that we knew less about—until this research.

Using a one-of-a-kind model, researchers on the new study simulated the effects of varying ground cover levels, different amounts of evapotranspiration from the vegetation, and various panel heights combined to affect the hyperlocal microclimate. Using these factors their model worked through 18 different scenarios, which also simulated different wind speeds and ambient air temperatures. 

From this, it spat out a very precie recommendation for the Ontario-based agrivoltaics farm that the researchers used as their test case. 

Hovering solar panels over an area vegetated with soybeans would reduce panel temperatures by 10 °C [18ºF – LG] compared to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 April 2023 at 11:52 am

All the Bunnies in the Meadow Die: More on overshoot

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B. Sidney Smith writes:

Take a pinch of the spores of a certain fungus and drop them into a gallon jug, one whose walls are coated with nutrient so the fungus can grow as fast as it likes. Suppose you do this one morning, and that exactly 4 days later you find that the fungus has filled the jar and is just beginning to overflow it. How full was the jug the morning of the 3rd day?

A. Three-quarters full.
B. Half full.
C. One-quarter full.
D. Mostly empty.

This question is one I pose to students in general math courses at the start of my standard lecture on modeling natural growth, a lecture with the deliberately provocative title of this chapter. I find that if the lecture isn’t provocative students are unlikely to absorb the main point, because people tend to think of growth as something steady. Trees grow a few feet each year just as children grow by 5 to 7 pounds each year. Our lives grow with the steady accumulation of the years themselves.

Growth, we think, means adding a fixed amount for each fixed period of time. But most natural growth is nothing like that. In most kinds of natural growth it is not a fixed amount but a proportional amount that is added at regular intervals. This is why so many rates of growth, such as the growth of an investment or the growth of a population, are expressed in percentages-per-unit-time.

If natural growth matched our intuition, the jug would be three-quarters full the day before it overflows. But in fact the jug is still mostly empty the day before. The correct answer is D. One way of understanding how this could be so is to think in terms of doubling times. In natural growth the time it takes for whatever is growing to double in size is always the same regardless of how big or small it is. For the fungus to fill a gallon jug in 4 days starting from just a pinch means it has to double about once very 7 hours or so.* So 7 hours before the jug overflows it is half full, and 7 hours before that it is one-quarter full, and 7 hours before that it is one-eighth full. Three times 7 is 21, so when we check the jug 24 hours before it overflows it is less than one-eighth full—mostly empty.

Now to make it vivid.

Suppose we start with 10 breeding pairs of bunnies living in a fenced meadow. There is no such thing as an infinite meadow: every meadow produces just so much food and water, and has just so much space. Suppose for the sake of the example that this is a large meadow that continuously produces enough food and water and contains enough space to support a thousand rabbits. Now the doubling time for populations of rabbits under ideal conditions is about 3 months, or 1 season, so they double their number 4 times per year. Thus after the first year our starting population of 20 rabbits has doubled 4 times, from 20 to 40, then to 80, then to 160, then to 320. So the second year starts with 320 rabbits. How many rabbits are there at the start of the third year?

The correct answer is 0. At the start of the third year there are no rabbits in the meadow at all. Not only that, the meadow is gone too. This is because the rabbits’ population went into overshoot. In the first three months of the second year their numbers doubled from 320 to 640 and everything was going along fine. By midyear they had doubled again, to 1,280, and were eating up the available food faster than the meadow was regrowing it. Things were getting crowded too, but there was no panic; all the rabbits were still getting enough to eat, even though all the fresh, green shoots were gone and everybody had to eat the tough, older leaves and stems. But by the autumn the population had doubled again, to 2,560—far more than the meadow could support. Having eaten all the leaves, the rabbits ate the stems down to the ground. As they began to starve, in desperation they dug up the roots and ate those. In the end they ate each other. When the last rabbit died from starvation, it died in a desert.

This is a horrifying outcome, and fortunately nature has ways of preventing it. Coyotes, to begin with. Also, when food supplies become stressed the strongest and luckiest survive while others, weakened by hunger, succumb to predators and disease. In the real world populations of rabbits and of all animals fluctuate, sometimes wildly, from year to year, but over time tend to remain in rough balance.

Humans are an altogether different kind of animal. There is nothing to play the role of coyotes for us—we are the top of the food chain. We don’t have to depend any longer on natural processes alone for our food, because with machinery and fertilizers and science we can extract from Mother Nature far more than she would give on her own. Disease too, while not conquered, is nothing like the scourge it once was. With the aid of technology we can fit vast numbers of us into comparatively small spaces. There are few natural forces left to constrain our numbers, and because of this our rate of population growth increased dramatically in the 20th century while our doubling time decreased from half a millennium to half a century.*

Humans are a different kind of animal, but not so different that the laws of mathematics don’t apply to us. We live in a finite meadow, called the Earth. There is no other to which we might go. With all our knowledge and all our technology, there is still an absolute limit to how much this meadow can provide. We are not as prolific as rabbits, but our population is 7 billion and growing; our current doubling time is about 65 years.*

And we are in overshoot. It is not a question of if we will overshoot our environment, and it is not a question of when. We are in overshoot—right now. Sometime in the 1970s came the first year when the ecological footprint of humanity became so large that the impact on the planet was no longer sustainable.* Now, some 30 to 40 years later, we use up about 150% of the planet’s yearly supply of resources every year.* In effect, if we apply the rabbits-in-the-meadow analogy, we are at the point of eating the stems.

There are several aspects that must be considered in measuring the degree and effects of human overshoot. They include the availability of food and water, disposal of waste, energy, biodiversity, and climate change. Each of these affects all the others.


Predictions of mass starvation owing to overpopulation have been made for 200 years, but have not come to pass.* This is because  . . .

Continue reading.

Also, William R. Catton, Jr.’s book, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change offers more insights. You can download the book as a PDF:

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2023 at 6:10 pm

Overshoot: Why It’s Already Too Late To Save Civilization

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Alan Urban in Medium has a grim but persuasive take on where we are shortly headed — and I wonder whether the turmoil, conflict, and tension we see throughout the world today might be symptoms of the overall system starting to crumble under stress. Urban writes:

What is Overshoot?

The St. Matthew Island Reindeer Herd

A chart showing the St. Matthew Island Reindeer Population: 0 in 1940, around 700 in 1950 around 2600 in 19508, ascending steeply to 6000 in 1964, then plunging to 42 in 1966.

Continue reading. There is a lot more, and it’s based on evidence and data.

The article concludes:

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2023 at 2:25 am

Projected Collapse of Crucial Antarctic Current Met With Media Silence

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Julie Hollar reports at FAIR:

On the heels of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (3/20/23), which featured scientists running out of ways to emphasize how urgently deep cuts in fossil fuel use are needed, a troubling new climate study has emerged. Published in the prominent peer-reviewed science journal Nature (3/29/23), the study found that a little-studied deep ocean circulation system is slowing dramatically, and could collapse this century. One IPCC author not involved in the study declared it “headline news.” Unfortunately, science doesn’t guide US corporate media, which were virtually silent on the landmark study.

The authors modeled the effects of Antarctic meltwater on deep ocean currents crucial to marine ecosystems. Similar to the more well-studied Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) that the Gulf Stream is a part of, and which is also known to be dangerously weakening, the Antarctic overturning circulation has major planetary impacts. It pushes nutrient-dense water from the ocean floor up toward the surface, where those nutrients support marine life. The Nature study, which also refers to the current as the Antarctic Bottom Water, found that this circulation system is projected to slow down 42% by 2050, with a total collapse “this century,” according to study co-author Matthew England (CNN.com3/29/23).

This is indeed “headline news,” with major impacts on the sustainability of marine ecosystems and the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, accelerating climate change. And this deep warming could cause further ice melt, which isn’t incorporated into the study’s models—meaning this could all happen even faster than their model predicts.

Yet FAIR could find no record of any US newspaper even mentioning the Nature study in the week since it came out—let alone giving it the front-page coverage it inarguably deserves. Nor did we find mentions on national TV news programs, aside from CNN anchor Michael Holmes interviewing England for the network’s 3 a.m. airing of CNN Newsroom (4/1/23). Aside from science- and environment-focused news outlets (Conversation3/29/23Grist4/3/23, picked up by Salon4/3/23), almost no major US-based web outlets offered reports either, with the exception, again, of (3/29/23), which ran a creditable article by Australian-based journalist Hilary Whiteman.

Toronto-based wire service Reuters (3/29/23), the London Guardian (3/29/23) and BBC (3/30/23) also published articles.

Climate activist Bill McKibben (Crucial Years4/2/23) argued that Donald Trump’s arrest, which dominated headlines the day the Nature study came out, was far less remarkable as news goes. “Him ending up in trouble for tax evasion to cover up an affair with a porn star seems unlikely only in its details,” McKibben wrote, while the Antarctic story was “one of the most important installments in the most important saga of our time, the rapid decline of the planet’s physical health.”

Last year, FAIR (4/21/22) found that  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 April 2023 at 9:41 pm

Carbon dioxide removal is not a current climate solution — we need to change the narrative

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David T. Ho writes in Nature:

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is what puts the ‘net’ into ‘net zero emissions’. All pathways to limit global warming to 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels that have been assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change require rapid decarbonization to start now. But they also require the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere because we won’t be able to eliminate carbon emissions entirely on the required time scales. ‘Hard to abate’ sectors such as aviation and shipping will remain large sources of greenhouse gases even in the most optimistic scenarios. Residual emissions will mean that we cannot achieve a zero-emissions goal, and we will need CDR to reach a net-zero target. Historically, this has meant planting or maintaining trees, but removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground, the ocean or in products will be more durable.

However, businesses are springing up that promise various CDR techniques as climate solutions for today. Others are enthusiastically buying carbon credits — essentially, investments in planting trees, or other future CDR capacity — as part of their current decarbonization commitments.

I have spent my career studying the natural carbon cycle and, in recent years, developing methods for checking that CDR works. I have scrutinized dozens of proposals, and I was a reviewer for the US$100-million XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition funded by the Musk Foundation. I don’t deny the need to develop CDR methods over the longer term. And I welcome governments committing much-needed resources to this area. After some small-scale demonstrations of ‘direct air capture’ (DAC) technology, which suck CO2 out of the atmosphere by chemical means, the 2022 US Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has devoted $3.5 billion to developing four DAC hubs. But it’s clear to me that deploying them to remove CO2 from the atmosphere is pointless until society has almost completely eliminated its polluting activities.

Time travel

To understand why, think of CDR as a time machine. Take the proposed US DAC hubs, for example. Each facility is eventually expected to extract one million tonnes of CO2 each year.

In 2022, the world emitted 40.5 billion tonnes of CO2 (P. Friedlingstein et al. Earth Syst. Sci. Data 14, 4811–4900; 2022). At that rate, for every year of operation at its full potential, each hub would take the atmosphere back in time by almost 13 minutes, but in the time it took to remove those 13 minutes of CO2, the world would have spewed another full year of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, if everyone on Earth planted a tree — 8 billion trees — it would take us back in time by about 43 hours every year, once the trees had matured.

The time-machine analogy reveals just how futile CDR currently is.

We have to shift the narrative as a matter of urgency. Money is going to flood into climate solutions over the next few years, and we need to direct it well. We must stop talking about deploying CDR as a solution today, when emissions remain high — as if it somehow replaces radical, immediate emission cuts. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 April 2023 at 4:10 pm

Greta Thunberg: The Show is Over

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An earlier post today included a graph that showed how the unbroken growth of CO2 emissions reveal that no effective steps have been taken. Greta Thunberg speaks to that quite effectively. You can read the transcript of her remarks, but their impact is greatly strengthened if you watch her deliver them in the video in this post from last October.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 April 2023 at 11:59 am

Chart showing impact of various international agreements on CO2 emissions

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Chart showing "Monthly averages of atmospheric CO2 as recorded at Mauna Loa in Hawaii."
Amounts of CO2 rapidly climb from ~325 ppm in 1960 to ~418 pm in 2020.
Graphic also notes when various meetings were held and agreements were made to limit or reduce carbon emissions. None of this has had any effect.

From Wikipedia:

The Willow project is an oil drilling project by ConocoPhillips located on the plain of the North Slope of Alaska in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The project was originally to construct and operate up to five drill pads for a total of 250 oil wells. . . 

On March 13, 2023, the Biden administration approved the project.

Environmentalist organization Earthjustice filed a lawsuit on March 14, 2023, on behalf of conservation groups to stop the Willow project, saying that the approval of a new carbon pollution source contradicts President Joe Biden‘s promises to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and transition the United States to clean energy.

The project could produce up to 600 million barrels of oil and 287 million tons of carbon emissions plus other greenhouse gases over 30 years, and could adversely impact Arctic wildlife and Native American communities. The Willow project would damage the complex local tundra ecosystem and, according to an older government estimate, release the same amount of greenhouse gases annually as half a million homes.[1]

We’re doomed.

Written by Leisureguy

4 April 2023 at 8:38 am

A (drained) California lake makes an unwelcome comeback

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An old map of California's Central Valley should a large lake at the southern end of the valley.
An 1873 map of California showing the former boundaries of Tulare Lake. Early American settlers drained the lake and planted crops on the dried lake bed.
[Image: David Rumsey Map Collection]

Jake Bittle-Grist writes about Tulare Lake in Fast Company:

When American settlers arrived in California 150 years ago, the sprawling Central Valley was home to the largest body of freshwater west of the Mississippi River. Tulare Lake expanded each spring as rain and melting snow filled the valley, growing so large that fisherfolk could sail across its surface to catch terrapin for San Francisco restaurants. But the land barons who took over the region soon drained the lake and covered it in crops, helping make it one of the nations most productive agricultural hubs.

Now, as California closes out a historically wet winter, Tulare Lake has reappeared for the first time since 1997. As runoff from several rivers drains into the valley, the homes and streets and fields that sit on the lake bed, which covers 1,000 square miles, are being inundated once again. The flooding will only increase over the next few months as the state’s record snowpack melts, dousing the area with the equivalent of 60 inches of rain.

Tulare Lake has always emerged during especially wet years, but the flooding will be worse this time: the region’s powerful agriculture industry has compounded flood risk around the lake by pumping enormous amounts of subterranean groundwater, turning the region into a giant bowl. Farmers overdraw the basin’s aquifer by around 820,000 acre-feet per year, far more water than Los Angeles consumes over the same period, and this pumping has caused the southern Central Valley to sink faster than almost any other place in the world.

Subsidence is occurring throughout California, but the problem is at its worst in the area around Tulare Lake, which is about 200 miles north of L.A. Some cities near the lake bed have sunk by as much as 11 feet over the past half-century. That rapid decline makes homes and crops in the basin much more vulnerable to flooding than when the lake last appeared 35 years ago. Whats more, the levees and channels that control flooding are getting less effective as the land around them subsides.

“Tulare Lake is playing Russian Roulette with flooding, and they just lost,” said Deirdre Des Jardins, an independent researcher and consultant who has studied flood risk in the Central Valley. “Water is flowing differently because of the subsidence, and they don’t have any kind of flood management.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 April 2023 at 10:31 am

We shall stay the course, come hell or high water

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It seems clear that both will be here quite soon.

The Titanic, labeled "World Leaders," is steaming directly toward an iceberg, labeled "Climate Change," with a voice balloon from the ship: "It's settled... We agree to sign a pledge to hold another meeting to consider changing course at a date yet to be determined."

And in other news:

A tweet from Peter Dynes (@PGDynes) saying "This summer may push India closer to the limits of human survival. Rising temperatures are forecast in the coming weeks after India experienced its hottest February on record. The region is at serious risk of wet-bulb if global temperatures continue to rise." Beneath the text is a map showing India almost solid red, indicating temperatures of 38ºC with some small regions at 42ºC

Written by Leisureguy

28 March 2023 at 1:03 pm

Climate Spiral: 1880-2022 (Degrees Celsius)

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A 1-minute video

Written by Leisureguy

12 March 2023 at 11:44 am

Electric Vehicles Are Shattering the Barrier to Adoption that Could Matter Most

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Christopher Mims reports in the Wall Street Journal:

For car buyers, a new reality is setting in: You don’t necessarily have to pay more to go electric. The automobile industry may never be the same.

There are some qualifiers, but the bottom line is a potentially momentous change.

With recent price declines,  the cost to to buy and operate some electric vehicles over several years is now roughly on par with their gasoline-powered counterparts. The considerable government subsidies available to EV buyers—including a federal credit of up to $7,500 for qualified buyers and vehicles—play a part in this. But in some cases, EVs and their conventional equivalents are at cost parity even without those.

It’s true that many electric vehicles still have a higher list price than their gas equivalents. But that gap is closing. We are now at the point that the considerable savings on fuel and maintenance costs that an EV offers can make up that difference, for some vehicles, over the first 2 to 5 years of their lives. Those savings also translate to an equal or lower monthly cost to own many EVs, when you add up the loan payment and fuel costs.

One remarkable detail about this development: It wasn’t Tesla that got us here, though the company has played a big part, by spurring the rest of the industry to roll out new models. Nearly all of the vehicles at cost parity with their gas equivalents are non-Teslas. At the company’s investor day Wednesday, Chief Executive Elon Musk said Tesla is working on slashing the cost of production, but he stopped short of announcing the next-generation affordable EV that many had hoped for.

There are other reasons EVs are becoming more attractive, including improvements in charging technology and the availability of public chargers. But the main reason for the disappearing cost gap is the declining price of battery packs—the single most expensive component in EVs, and the primary reason they typically cost more than conventional vehicles.

We can thank two things for the falling cost of those batteries. One is economies of scale. Domestic and international producers have gotten substantially better at churning out batteries, for what market research firm Adamas Intelligence projects will be nearly 20 million vehicles in 2023.

The other factor, just as important, is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 March 2023 at 4:07 pm

How a tax break meant to curb climate change could make it worse

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As I mentioned in the previous post, the fact that burning fossil fuels is destroying the climate and likely will destroy us if it continues, the imperative of capitalism — to increase profits no matter what — means that fossil fuels will continue to be burned — and worse, as Evan Halper reports in the Washington Post:

The promise of a powerful new fuel that can be used to run such things as steel mills or heavy construction equipment without any greenhouse gas emissions was a major selling point in the climate package President Biden signed over the summer.

But now, as tens of billions of taxpayer dollars are poised to start flowing toward “green hydrogen” technology, environmentalists, scientists and some clean-tech firms fear the subsidies could boost a fuel with a very different profile.

They are fighting an intense lobbying effort by some of the world’s biggest energy firms to make those lucrative tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act available even to companies that are using fossil fuels to produce the hydrogen, releasing what some scholars warn could be an enormous amount of greenhouse gas in the process.

The dispute underscores the considerable challenges involved with implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, which included hundreds of billions of dollars to speed the transition toward a greener economy. Several of the provisions are geared toward accelerating production of next-generation clean technologies. But deep disagreements exist over how quickly some of them can be brought into the mainstream and how aggressively the federal government should demand quick climate benefits.

Tensions are also emerging around subsidies for capturing and storing carbon, as well as those for next-generation nuclear power plants and development of sustainable aviation fuels.

The corporate resistance to requiring all green hydrogen be made with clean energy has alarmed major environmental groups and several developers of the new fuelThey warn the less restrictive rules sought by industry groups representing companies such as BP, NextEra and ExxonMobil from the IRS threaten to undermine the integrity of the fledgling green hydrogen industry and the new climate law.

“We are talking about a massive subsidy, where more than $100 billion could be spent,” said Rachel Fakhry, who leads hydrogen work at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We could wind up with government spending it on something that actually increases emissions. Imagine the consequences of tons of added emissions heavily subsidized by a climate bill. That is an awful story.”

An Australian mining magnate wants to save the planet with green hydrogen

The worries, shared by the Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists, are grounded in a study from a team of scientists at Princeton University. It concludes the looser accounting guidelines influential industry players are seeking would enable them to make the energy-intensive fuel without adding enough new clean power to local electricity grids to produce it. The result, the scientists found, is that it would be backfilled by large amounts of dirtier energy.

At the core of the dispute is the question of whether the lucrative hydrogen subsidies should be conditioned on the fuel being produced entirely with renewable power, confirmed by hourly tracking of the electrons flowing from the grid to the projects. The companies arguing for less strict requirements say flexibility in how production is powered is essential to nourishing the fragile industry, which needs to get up and running quickly to produce the most climate benefits.

The tax credit, said Rebecca J. Kujawa, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, “has the ability to  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

4 March 2023 at 3:52 pm

‘Very precarious’: Europe faces growing water crisis as winter drought worsens

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Of course, since there is still money to be made from fossil fuels, corporations and the wealthy are determined to make it. In their view, one can never have too much money, and a lack of water will not affect them, or so they believe.

Jon Henley in Paris, Sam Jones in Madrid, Angela Giuffrida in Rome, and Philip Oltermann in Berlin report in the Guardian:

The scenes are rare enough in mid-summer; in early March, they are unprecedented. Lac de Montbel in south-west France is more than 80% empty, the boats of the local sailing club stranded on its desiccated brown banks.

In northern Italy, tourists can walk to the small island of San Biagio, normally reached only by boat, from the shore of Lake Garda, where the water level is 70cm (27in) lower than average. The Alps have had 63% less snow than usual.

In Germany, shallow waters on the Rhine are already disrupting barge traffic, forcing boats heading up into central Europe to load at half capacity, and in Catalonia, now short of water for three years, Barcelona has stopped watering its parks.

After its driest summer in 500 years, much of Europe is in the grip of a winter drought driven by climate breakdown that is prompting growing concern among governments over the water security for homes, farmers and factories across the continent.

A study published in January by Graz University of Technology in Austria, whose scientists used satellite data to analyse groundwater reserves, concluded that Europe has been in drought since 2018 and its water situation was now “very precarious”.

Torsten Mayer-Gürr, one of the researchers, said: “I would never have imagined that water would be a problem here in Europe, especially in Germany or Austria. We are actually getting problems with the water supply here. We have to think about this.”

The World Weather Attribution service said last year northern hemisphere drought was at least 20 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, warning that such extreme periods would become increasingly common with global heating.

Andrea Toreti, a senior scientist at the European Drought Observatory, said: “What is unusual is the recurrence of these events, because we already experienced a severe to extreme drought a year ago, and another one in 2018.

“Clearly, in some parts of Europe, the lack of precipitation and the current deficit is such that it won’t be easy for water levels to recover before the start of the summer,” Toreti told Euronews. Experts have said the coming months will be crucial.

A map of current droughts in Europe from the EU’s Copernicus programme shows alerts for low rainfall or soil moisture in areas of northern and southern Spain, northern Italy and southern Germany, with almost all of France affected.

France recently recorded 32 days without significant rainfall, the longest period since records began in 1959, and the state forecaster Météo-France has said little or no precipitation of note is expected until at least the end of the month.

Simon Mitelberger, a climatologist, said about 75% less . . .

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This brief video — “What Happens If The World Warms Up By 5°C?” — may also be of interest:

Written by Leisureguy

4 March 2023 at 2:27 pm

A suburb in Arizona lost its source of water. Residents warn: We’re only the beginning

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Although the Great Climate Migration is beginning, we haven’t seen anything yet. Alexander Panetta reports for CBC News:

A man in Arizona sees a glimpse of a potentially frightening future. A future where the planet is hotter, the soil is drier, and our most precious resource is evaporating.

His job is delivering water. And his job is getting harder.

John Hornewer is now having to drive hours farther each day to fill his truck, which, in turn, fills the subterranean tanks at homes in an area outside Phoenix.

His normal supplier cut him off; more precisely, on Jan. 1, the city of Scottsdale, Ariz., cut off transfers to the exurban community he serves in a desire to conserve water for its own residents.

He found new suppliers, farther away. Then another supplier cut him off.

And now he’s had to go farther, spending more time in his truck, making fewer deliveries, and having to double the price he charges hundreds of his customers in Rio Verde Foothills, an unincorporated community that has lost its water supplier.

“It’s brutal,” Hornewer said in an interview. “The water haulers simply cannot keep up.”

Hornewer refers to Rio Verde Foothills as a warning sign, as the Colorado River shrinks and climate change is forecast to make things worse: “We’re the first domino to fall.”

ngenious and borderline-desperate water-saving tactics are being deployed.

People are now showering at nearby gyms. Some eat on paper plates. They collect rainwater in outdoor buckets and use them to flush toilets.

They flush toilets less often and promote their water-saving ways with not-entirely-tongue-in-cheek slogans like: Don’t blush, share a flush.

“One neighbour started peeing outside,” said one resident, Linda Vincent. “We haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

This county, Maricopa, is a fast-growing area in a fast-growing state.

A visitor can see why so many people want to live here: It’s a . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

27 February 2023 at 4:13 am

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