Top energy and climate stories for April 8

Climate Progress is launching a new feature today.  With the help of  Center for American Progress staffers, we’ll post links to some of the top energy and global warming stories of the day, with a short summary.  So if you only have a couple of minutes to check the blog, you’ll still be able to get a quick survey of the day’s news.  And it will help me feel better about not writing about every lost drop of the open fire hydrant of energy and climate news coming out every day.  And yes, we will generally be doing this much earlier in the day!  Comments welcome.

Top Stories

Science Daily
When Oceans Get Warmer Carbon Dioxide Uptake On Marine Plankton Will Be Reduced, Potentially Increasing Climate Change
The ocean plays a central role in Earth’s climate system and has considerably slowed down climate change by taking up about one third of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted through human activities.  But that is likely to change in the future, as an experiment that warmed up plankton found.  “What came as a surprise to us was that the plankton consumed up to one third less CO2 at elevated temperatures. Ultimately, this may cause a weakening of the biological carbon pump”, says Prof. Ulf Riebesell from IFM-GEOMAR, the principal investigator of the study.

Energy Outlook 2050: Lower Carbon, But Not So Renewable
Matthew Wald cites a new study released by Electric Power Research Institute, a pro-industry group, predicting that coal with carbon capture and nuclear are the low-cost power sources of the future.  Not!  (see “Is coal with carbon capture and storage a core climate solution?” and “An intro to nuclear power“)

In keeping with his misrepresentation of energy and climate realities in a recent, related NYT piece, Mr. Wald fails to reference any recent study concerning the cost of inaction in the face of dire climate change or the low (and dropping) cost of many alternatives (see NYT’s Matt Wald blows the “Alternative and Renewable Energy” story, quotes only industry sources, ignores efficiency and huge cost of inaction“).

Despite the solar industry’s exponential growth in the last few years, the EPRI’s Revis W. James is quoted saying, “[Solar] just doesn’t enter into our equation.” Sad — and quite wrong (See “Concentrated solar thermal power Solar Baseload “” a core climate solution“).  Only in conclusion, does Mr. Wald begin addressing the reality about carbon:  “Of course, the relative competitiveness of any future energy resource will depend on another uncertain factor: How much it will cost to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”  Duh!

Legislation and Policy

E&E Daily
(Subs. Req’d)
DOE to play ‘deep role’ in cap and trade — Chu
“We will have a deep role in providing the technical base for informed decisions.”
-Secretary Steven Chu

While the direct regulation of industry emissions will fall to the EPA, Secretary Chu announced that the DOE will play a “vital role” in crafting cap and trade policy.

New Yorker
Re: Economy vs. Environment, A letter in response to David Owen’s article (March 30, 2009)
“Owen writes that creating truly ‘green jobs’ will only displace the need for ‘non-green jobs,’ and, therefore, the transition from oil to clean energy will probably be a ‘zero-sum game’ in terms of job creation. That might sound logical at first, but numerous studies conclude that the zero-sum-game notion is incorrect. In fact, one study from the Center for American Progress found that investing in clean-energy infrastructure would provide four times as many jobs as investing that same money in the oil industry. It doesn’t have to be ‘economy vs. environment’: real investment in a clean-energy economy will improve the health of both.

Fielding Huseth
Baltimore, Md.”

See also “Paging Elizabeth Kolbert: The New Yorker (!) parrots right-wing talking points.”

Green Technology

E&E Daily
(Subs. Req’d)
Electric car start-ups move forward despite grim forecast
While automotive giants GM and Chrysler fight for survival, new electric themed start-ups vie for position in a dismal market:

“Fisker Automotive Inc. yesterday received $85 million in additional venture capital to move forward on plans to begin producing the Karma luxury sports car, a battery-powered vehicle it hopes will see 15,000 sales in 2010.

Meanwhile, Chrysler LLC has selected A123 Systems Inc. of Watertown, Mass., to supply lithium-ion battery cells, packs and modules for electric cars it hopes to have in showrooms beginning in late 2010.”

At a time of low gas prices and even lower consumer demand, experts speculate that it will be “difficult to meet sales targets when the vehicles are finally rolled out onto lots.”

Midwest carbon storage project nears drilling target
The $84 million DOE funded project to store captured carbon is nearing completion. The project is meant to support the currently canceled Futuregen CCS coal plant based in Mattoon, Ill.

“The day has come when we can remove coal from the ground and return carbon dioxide,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin at the project’s official ground breaking. Perhaps Sen. Durbin is unaware that, with existing technology, it is not economical to remove the carbon dioxide from burnt coal and return it to the earth.

DOE chief ‘agnostic’ on natural gas-powered cars
In a move contrary to the expectations of energy industry billionare T. Boone Pickens and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Secretary Steven Chu announced his apathy towards natural gas powered cars. “I’m agnostic, really, about it” Chu said to reporters at an EIA conference. He did not, however, rule it out as a possibility.

G.M. and Segway Unveil “¦ Something
“[GM’s] latest dream, the P.U.M.A. mobility pod, to be unveiled Tuesday in New York, is pretty far out “” and as such, requires no big immediate investments”¦ Of course, the P.U.M.A. (for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility) is not really a car, and it’s not really being introduced, except as a bit of blue-sky thinking about better ways to move around crowded urban areas than driving an automobile.”

Climate Change

Science Daily
Climate Change To Spur Rapid Shifts In Wildfire Hotspots, Analysis Finds
“Climate change will bring about major shifts in worldwide fire patterns, and those changes are coming fast, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with scientists at Texas Tech University.

The findings are reported in the April 8 issue of PLoS ONE, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal of the Public Library of Science.”

Complied by Carlin Rosengarten and Max Luken and Joe Romm

21 Responses to Top energy and climate stories for April 8

  1. ZS says:

    This is a wonderful addition, thanks!

  2. David B. Benson says:

    “Ancient Life Tapped for Solar Technology”:

    Solar PV enhanced with diatoms.

  3. David B. Benson says:

    “New Way To Split Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen Developed”:

    Might work well enough in sunny locations.

  4. ecostew says:

    Thanks Joe – nice addition. Some might be interested in:

  5. Harrier says:

    Does anyone know if Joe’s ever done a post about thin-film solar cells? I’ve found myself reading about them this evening and they have me very excited, because I think they could be scaled up tremendously. Since they don’t use silicon, they seem more sustainable and more plentiful than the older kinds of solar cells also.

  6. Gail says:

    Harrier I was late to find it recently, but he does have a search on the top right of the blog. It’s pretty good!

  7. Kipp Alpert says:

    Joe: When oceans get warmer less plankton is produced, and fish eat plankton to survive. They have also known(IPCCar4) that warming oceans have a natural buffering where too much co2 leads to the oceans capacity to absorb it. When the system is overloaded, doesn’t process and in a few weeks sends it back up to the Atmosphere. Only the cooler layers would be able to accept more CO2. They did some experiments last year, scientists pumping colder water up which inhanced CO2 uptake. Fisherman in South America love La Nina as it brings them a great harvest. I am waiting curiously for our first major Climate change to come about. I think in two years where they grow agriculture on two inches of dirt, in the Southwest, for that to be an obvious signal to people in the East that this stuff is for real. The jet stream has been pushed north, so the El Nino that should be making it’s way by at this time may be a dry one on the west coast. The Pacific Decadel Oscillation, is a cold one, and maybe roosby waves will through that cold air down south more where it is needed. Time will tell. KIPP

  8. Kipp Alpert says:

    Harrier:Did you read about the new solar panels MIT is devloping where they absorb every spectral wavelngth, and have the cell parked up where the sun doesn’t shine.Pretty cool concept.

  9. Kipp Alpert says:

    David B.Benson:Great find very interesting,thanks KIPP

  10. J says:

    Nice addition, keep up the good work!

  11. Cait says:

    Joseph, you caught the NASA research about aerosols, yes?

    Very interesting stuff. Obviously, it’s the followup that’s important.

  12. ecostew says:

    Sasparilla – one would hope the Australian article would catch people’s attention that AGW impacts are not decades away.

  13. DrD says:

    Sasparilla: Thanks for the link to the article on Australia. I knew it was bad there, but this was a good (bad?) overview. I assume, though, that some people must be making comparisons to the Dust Bowl in the US in the 1930s and pointing out that it was temporary.

  14. Dill Weed says:

    Looks like I found a one stop shoping for my daily climate change fix. I may trim a few sites from my Favorites.

    Dill Weed the Great

    [JR: That is what I’m here for!]

  15. RunawayRose says:

    I appreciate the new feature; lots of good links in the story and the comments!

  16. Dano says:

    Good addition Joe. Desdemona Despair is also a good resource. Thank you also for the ‘preview’ button.



  17. Bob Wallace says:


    If you’ve got a link that you think valuable to others, please take a few moments and write a couple of summary sentences. Give people the basic info so that they can decide if they want more detail.

    Practice good journalism….

  18. SecularAnimist says:

    I posted a comment linking to this article earlier today, but now it is gone. Was there something wrong with it?

    Interior secretary: Wind could replace coal power
    by Erik Palm
    CNet News


    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is optimistic about the potential of wind power to help wean the U.S. from dependence on foreign oil.

    “The idea that wind energy has the potential to replace most of our coal-burning power today is a very real possibility,” he said. “It is not technology that is pie-in-the sky; it is here and now,” Salazar said, according to an AP report, at a meeting in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday.

    Salazar is hosting four regional public meetings in April to discuss the future of offshore energy development on the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf on the East Coast.

    At the Atlantic City forum, he presented estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that said wind has a gross resource of 463 gigawatts of power in the mid-Atlantic area alone. The current U.S. total production of electricity from coal is 366 gigawatts, according to the Energy Information Administration.

  19. Bob Wallace says:

    What Salazar says is consistent with what Jacobson and his group at Stanford are finding. Their data shows that roughly 35% of the power produced by connected wind farms is 100%, 24/365, baseload reliable.

    With some load shifting and storage a lot of the other 65% can be used to replace coal baseload. The portion that is still too undependable for baseload use can be used to charge electric vehicles.

    If we wanted to do a 100% replacement of coal with wind we might have to build 2x as much wind production. But that extra power wouldn’t be wasted.