"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.
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
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.
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.
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 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