Energy and Global Warming News for April 17

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"Energy and Global Warming News for April 17"

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Third-World Stove Soot Is Target in Climate Fight

In Kohlua, in central India, with no cars and little electricity, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming, are near zero. But soot “” also known as black carbon “” from tens of thousands of villages like this one in developing countries is emerging as a major and previously unappreciated source of global climate change.

While carbon dioxide may be the No. 1 contributor to rising global temperatures, scientists say, black carbon has emerged as an important No. 2, with recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, compared with 40 percent for carbon dioxide. Decreasing black carbon emissions would be a relatively cheap way to significantly rein in global warming “” especially in the short term, climate experts say. Replacing primitive cooking stoves with modern versions that emit far less soot could provide a much-needed stopgap, while nations struggle with the more difficult task of enacting programs and developing technologies to curb carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

Obama, Calderon vow cooperation

President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon said today they planned to create the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Framework on Clean Energy and Climate Change.

Asia may see more conflicts over water: report

Asia may see more conflicts over scarce water resources in the coming years as climate change and population growth threaten access to the most basic natural resource, a report warned on Friday.

Water problems in Asia are already severe, with one in five people, or 700 million, not having access to safe drinking water and half the region’s population lacking access to basic sanitation, according to the report produced by the Asia Society, a New York-based think tank.

Population growth, rapid urbanization and climate change are expected to worsen the situation, according to the report, “Asia’s Next Challenge: Securing the Region’s Water Future.”

Forests could become source of warming – report

The world’s forests are at risk of becoming a source of planet-warming emissions instead of soaking them up like a sponge unless greenhouse gases are controlled, scientists said.

Deforestation emits 20 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide when people cut and burn trees, but standing forests soak up 25 percent of the emissions.

If the Earth heats up 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees F) or more, evaporation from the additional heat would lead to severe droughts and heat waves that could kill wide swaths of trees in the tropics of Africa, southern Asia and South America. And emissions from the rotting trees would make forests a source of global warming.

West Africa faces ‘megadroughts’

Severe droughts lasting centuries have happened often in West Africa’s recent history, and another one is almost inevitable, researchers say.

Analysis of sediments in a Ghanaian lake shows the last of these “megadroughts” ended 250 years ago.

Writing in the journal Science, the researchers suggest man-made climate change may make the situation worse.

Renewable Energy’s Environmental Paradox:  Wind and Solar Projects May Carry Costs for Wildlife

Renewable-energy development, which the Obama administration has made a priority, is posing conflicts between economic interests and environmental concerns, not entirely unlike the way offshore oil and gas development pits economics against environment. But because of concerns about climate, many environmentalists and government agencies could find themselves straddling both sides, especially in Western states where the federal government is a major landowner….

As the push for renewable-energy development intensifies across the United States, scientists and activists have begun to voice concern that policymakers have underestimated the environmental impact of projects that are otherwise “green.”

“There is no free lunch when it comes to meeting our energy needs,” said Johanna Wald, a senior lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She added, however, that the renewables boom “offers a chance to do it right.”

“We want to do it differently compared to how we did oil and gas development,” she said.

Compiled by Max Luken and Sean Pool

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31 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for April 17

  1. ecostew says:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    Climate Change Impacts on Regional Air Quality Report Just Released by EPA

    Contact: Roxanne Smith, 202-564-4355 / 4455 / smith.roxanne@epa.gov

    (Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a report on the potential impacts of climate change on regional U.S. air quality. The information contained in the report will enhance our ability as a nation to protect air quality and human health.

    The report, “Assessment of the Impacts of Global Change on Regional U.S. Air Quality: A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on Ground-Level Ozone,” concludes that there is a potential for climate change to make ozone pollution worse in some regions and that future ozone management decisions may need to account for the possible impacts of climate change.

    Climate change has the potential to produce increases in ground-level ozone in many regions. Ground-level ozone is formed in the presence of sunlight by a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from sources like motor vehicles and industrial facilities. Climate change also could increase the number of days with weather conditions conducive to forming ozone, potentially causing air quality alerts earlier in the spring and later in the fall.

    The Global Change Research Program in EPA’s Office of Research and Development led the development of the peer-reviewed report, which was done in partnership with EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. The report combines the results of new EPA-funded and existing scientific research and acknowledges that uncertainty remains over the specific regional patterns of climate change induced ground-level ozone changes.

    More information on the report: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=203459

    More information on EPA Office of Research and Development’s Global Change Research Program:
    http://www.epa.gov/ord/npd/globalresearch-intro.htm

    R096

  2. ecostew says:

    Air News Release (HQ): EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Pose Threat to Public Health, Welfare‏
    From: U.S. EPA (usaepa@govdelivery.com)
    Sent: Fri 4/17/09 3:58 PM
    To: ecostew@hotmail.com

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Pose Threat to Public Health, Welfare

    Proposed Finding Comes in Response to 2007 Supreme Court Ruling

    Contact: Cathy Milbourn, 202-564-4355 / 7849 / milbourn.cathy@epa.gov

    (Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2009) After a thorough scientific review ordered in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding Friday that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare.

    The proposed finding, which now moves to a public comment period, identified six greenhouse gases that pose a potential threat.

    “This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations. Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation,” said Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This pollution problem has a solution – one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

    As the proposed endangerment finding states, “In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.”

    EPA’s proposed endangerment finding is based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world. The science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate.

    The scientific analysis also confirms that climate change impacts human health in several ways. Findings from a recent EPA study titled “Assessment of the Impacts of Global Change on Regional U.S. Air Quality: A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on Ground-Level Ozone,” for example, suggest that climate change may lead to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant. Additional impacts of climate change include, but are not limited to:

    · increased drought;

    · more heavy downpours and flooding;

    · more frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires;

    · greater sea level rise;

    · more intense storms; and

    · harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.

    In proposing the finding, Administrator Jackson also took into account the disproportionate impact climate change has on the health of certain segments of the population, such as the poor, the very young, the elderly, those already in poor health, the disabled, those living alone and/or indigenous populations dependent on one or a few resources.

    In addition to threatening human health, the analysis finds that climate change also has serious national security implications. Consistent with this proposed finding, in 2007, 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed a report from the Center for a New American Security stating that climate change “presents significant national security challenges for the United States.” Escalating violence in destabilized regions can be incited and fomented by an increasing scarcity of resources – including water. This lack of resources, driven by climate change patterns, then drives massive migration to more stabilized regions of the world.

    The proposed endangerment finding now enters the public comment period, which is the next step in the deliberative process EPA must undertake before issuing final findings. Today’s proposed finding does not include any proposed regulations. Before taking any steps to reduce greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, EPA would conduct an appropriate process and consider stakeholder input. Notwithstanding this required regulatory process, both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have repeatedly indicated their preference for comprehensive legislation to address this issue and create the framework for a clean energy economy.

    More information: http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html

    R097

  3. Harrier says:

    There have also been very long droughts in California’s past as well, including one during the Middle Ages that lasted more than a century. Something to keep in mind.

  4. Wonhyo says:

    The article on soot from primitive stoves doesn’t mention what should be used as a clean alternative.

    I suggest the use of solar stoves, in areas where this is practical (including in developed countries!). Solar stoves are simple, inexpensive, and non-polluting.

  5. paulm says:

    Renewable Energy’s Environmental Paradox: Wind and Solar Projects May Carry Costs for Wildlife

    They and other large infrastructure projects also carry a carbon footprint which may leave us in a dilemma.

  6. Dean says:

    Today’s Portland Oregonian (April 17, 2009) has an interview with local-done-well Jane Lubchenco in it’s “How We Live” section, “NOAA’s Agent for Change”. I am unable to find a link to it online. If they don’t post it in a day or two, I suppose I could scan it and put a link to that here.

    Among other things, she discusses her desire for NOAA to create a National Climate Service, parallel to and separate from the National Weather Service. Seems to me that such an agency could serve the purpose that we miss by having such rare IPCC reports, as Joe discussed yesterday.

  7. Justin says:

    paulm, for me that’s an easy paradox to solve: preserving human life should come at any cost, including ancillary damage to wildlife that comes from progressing to a low-carbon energy infrastructure.

  8. Robert says:

    Justin

    “paulm, for me that’s an easy paradox to solve: preserving human life should come at any cost, including ancillary damage to wildlife that comes from progressing to a low-carbon energy infrastructure.”

    Surely you transposed ‘human’ and ‘wild’ in this sentence?

    There are vast numbers of humans. If we were squirrels or deer we would decalre ourselves a plague and perform a cull. Meanwhile other species are going extinct at 1000x the natural rate.

    Be positive. View water shortages are a rare negative feedback. We need more of these otherwise the human population will continue to grow to the exclusion of all else.

  9. MarkB says:

    The EPA news appears to be pretty significant.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090417/ap_on_go_ot/epa_climate

    What does everyone else think? Will this ruling put pressure on Congress to get something done? If Congress fails miserably on climate legislation, will the EPA likely take any significant action towards regulating greenhouse gases? Or is this all for show?

  10. paulm says:

    Justin I was refeering to the fact that by switching to green technology we might actually cause GW tipping points to tip.

    This is a dilemma, what do we do in this case?

    We of course should be focusing now on reduction of energy use. A big part of this is consumption and frivolous activities such as travel and global trade.

  11. paulm says:

    We now have to contend with adaptation. This has to be included in the overall cost of CC. Can we afford it? A. We have to???

    Also with ref to tipping points above, the adaptation to CC will also have a CO2 footprint. Example – what was this for the sea wall below – cement, construction transportation etc?

    Throw this variable in to the mix and things get fuzzier.

    We must protect communities who face climate change displacement
    ‘Climigration’ requires a new and unique institutional response based in human rights doctrine

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2009/apr/17/alaska-migration-climate-change

    In 2006, the US government completed a $2.5m (£1.7m) seawall to protect the native village of Kivalina, located on an island in the Chukchi Sea. But on the day of the dedication ceremony, a storm surge partly destroyed the newly constructed sea barrier. One year later, the community was evacuated to protect inhabitants from a severe storm.

  12. paulm says:

    More on adaptation…worth having a look at the PI analysis. Its got a Google map showing how Ca will be impacted.

    It’s Time to Decide Which Coastal Cities Are Worth Saving
    http://www.alternet.org/water/136480/sea_levels_are_rising:_it%27s_time_to_decide_which_coastal_cities_are_worth_saving/

    California, which went under the climatalogical microscope in a recent Pacific Institute analysis on sea-rise bankrolled by the California Energy Commission, California Department of Transportation and the Ocean Protection Council.

  13. charlie says:

    @wonhyo:

    I agree alternatives are difficult.

    A lot of developmental agencies try to move to kerosene — the idea was to prevent wood from being over harvested. Great idea, not so good from a carbon reduction point of view.

    Solar stoves are not idea for countries like India. Still too expensive, too inconvenient, and too many rainy days (monsoon). Yes, we could GIVE them away to remove the cost factor, but then again wood is basically free as well — which is the problem.

  14. Lou Grinzo says:

    “MGA launches CCS inventory and toolkit

    The Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) has released a CCS inventory and toolkit designed to aid the development of a platform for coal power generation with CCS. ”

    http://www.carboncapturejournal.com/displaynews.php?NewsID=375

  15. Doug says:

    @charlie

    If the kerosene could be derived from a biological source, it would not be contributing to global warming. I don’t know if it can, though.

    Another point to consider: release of very fine particulates actually can have a global cooling effect, as it can lead to the formation of long-lived clouds made up of a larger number of finer droplets, which reflects light more effectively than even regular clouds. Not sure how that factors in here.

  16. David B. Benson says:

    Doug — Biodiesel can be made from algae or Jatropha or other plants. With some organic chemistry this could be converted to kerosene.

  17. ecostew says:

    David – the LCA peer-reviewed science on most biofuels in terms of EROEI and carbon footprint is not sustainable.

  18. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — Boeing thinks you are wrong, some oilmen think you are wrong; large projects in South Asia and Southeast Asia say you are wrong.

    What is foolish is ethanol from corn instead of sugarcane, biodiesel from rapeseed or soybeans instead of from algae or Jatropha.

  19. paulm says:

    How to ask all the wrong questions Reuters….

    Q+A-How great is the threat from melting ice sheets?
    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSP159190

    responses to questions from Reuters by a leading glaciologist as part of an ad-hoc global series of top climate change scientists, policy makers and academics.

  20. paulm says:

    It’s offten the little things that clobber you when your not paying attention to them…
    we are having potato problems here in Canada too….

    Potato prices double in nation capital, up in other places
    http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/015200904101931.htm

    New Delhi (PTI): Potato prices have shot up across India and in the northern parts of the country it has almost doubled in the last one month owing to higher demand from the four major producing states, where crops were damaged due to high temperature.

  21. Mike D says:

    “Solar finds it hard to squeeze water from desert”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090418/ap_on_sc/water_for_solar;_ylt=Alb7_5vDURP8mvZ0ATM6klQPLBIF

    [JR: That’s why the (near) future is air cooling — and not just for solar but for nukes and coal. Everybody is going to have to take the efficiency hit because of climate change and growing fresh water scarcity.]

  22. ecostew says:

    At this point I haven’t seen LCA EROEI, which supports Benson with a few exceptions e.g., waste-related biofuels. Biofuels require at least an EROEI of 3 and 5 is better and they must also have a CF that is sustainable as one mitigates AGW.

  23. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — Jatropha plantations make sense in, for example, Myanmar, where workers are paid $3/day + 3 square meals — which is much better than ther natiional average of $2/day and pay for your own food out of that. Myanmar, and many other “developing” countries, do not what, in the worse way, to be caught in another food/fuel squeeze as ocurred last spring and summer. Note that it did not affect Brazil, with its massive ethanol from sugarcane program, hardly at all.

    Boeing togethr with the airlines don’t want to be hit by another big jet fuel squeeze. The plan seems to be to try to obtain bio-jet-fuel from mostly algae (lots of R&D still required) and some from Jatrophra (little R&D still required). It seems likely that both energy paths will likely be established in so-called developing countries with low labor rates, at least mostly.

  24. ecostew says:

    David, you did not address EROEI and sustainable CF, while ensuring food and water security and protecting the environment.

  25. David B. Benson says:

    ecostew — I don’t know what “sustainable CF” is supposed to mean. But EI on those Jatropha projects is essential zero, being labor intensive, so EROEI is very high. You could have figured that out for yourself. Obviously those peoples want to eat, so that’s not a problem. Jatropha needs little water as you could have bothered to determine yourself:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jatropha

    Those projects being set up on degraded former agricultural lands obviously arn’t making the environment any worse and are certainly improving the lives of the subsistence farmers in those areas by providing a cash crop, grown around the edges of fields.

  26. ecostew says:

    I see – you really are clueless!

  27. David B. Benson says:

    GREENHOUSE GAS SEQUESTRATION BY ALGAE –
    ENERGY AND GREENHOUSE GAS LIFE CYCLE STUDIES
    Peter K. Campbell, Tom Beer, David Batten
    http://www.csiro.au/resources/Greenhouse-Sequestration-Algae.html

  28. ecostew says:

    Checked the site – I didn’t see any peer-reviewed science publications. Also, relative to Jatropha – it is most unfortunate that one would push marginal ag lands and their subsistence peoples into growing fuels for us. Jatropha, at this point based on good science and ecosystem dynamics has not been demonstrated to be ecologically sustainable. It in many respects is very toxic and could quite possibly be an invasive species that should never had been introduced (has Australia removed its prohibition?). Additionally, yields of existing Jatropha are not adequate and marginal lands not sufficiently productive – might we need more fertilizer and more fertile soils (the same issue exists with cellulosic ethanol). What a potential disaster in the making. One should get science-grounded LCA before pushing such concepts. I also include biochar in the same context.

  29. David B. Benson says:

    ecvostew — The Myanmar Jatropha plantation is funded by a Singapore company. I*’m sure they did their analysis. For that project I am sure that a substantial portion of the resulting biodiesel is used in Myanmar and all of it in Southeast Asia.

    Similarly for the projects in India; none of that biodiesel will ever leave South Asia.

    The exceptions to this are in Africa, where various biofuel projects are specifically being started for the export market.

    And I am sure all the investors have all done their due dilligence. Give it up; go bark up anothr tree.