Energy and Global Warming News for June 29: China likely to reject bid for GM’s Hummer; Projected food demands seen to outpace production’s a follow up to “GM sells Hummer to China “” the second mistake by those clueless new owners?”  Hmm.  If this story pans out, maybe it’s a second chance for those clueless owners of GM to make the right call.

China likely to reject bid for Hummer

The Chinese government will likely reject the bid of a local company to acquire the Hummer division of General Motors, partially out of concern that the infamous gas-guzzler conflicts with the country’s environmental goals, China’s state radio reported.

Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery emerged as the surprise buyer for Hummer this month, conditional on the state’s approval. GM is seeking to sell the unit as part of its bankruptcy.

Chinese regulators will also say Tengzhong, which typically makes construction vehicles like cement mixers, lacks the expertise to run Hummer, state radio reported, citing no source.

Tengzhong, a private company, said it would invest in more fuel-efficient Hummers and keep the division based in the U.S. Hummers are known as “Han Ma,” or Bold Horse, in China.

The Chinese government has ramped up its conservation efforts, cutting sales taxes on small cars and encouraging automakers to develop electric and other alternatively fueled vehicles.

Projected Food Demands Seen To Outpace Production

With the caloric needs of the planet expected to soar by 50 percent in the next 40 years, planning and investment in global agriculture will become critically important, according a new report released June 25.

The report, produced by Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s leading global investment banks, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, provides a framework for investing in sustainable agriculture against a backdrop of massive population growth and escalating demands for food, fiber and fuel….

By 2050, world population is expected to exceed 9 billion people, up from 6.5 billion today. Already, according to the report, a gap is emerging between agricultural production and demand, and the disconnect is expected to be amplified by climate change, increasing demand for biofuels, and a growing scarcity of water.

See also Ponzi redux: Scientific American asks “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?”

Carbon Footprint Calculator Enables First-ever Country By Country Comparison

A first-ever analysis and comparison of the carbon footprints of different countries using a single, trade-linked model has been created by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the Centre of International Climate and Environment Research – Oslo (CICERO).

“We are trying to help come up with a better framework for mitigation actions, and to point out that we really need to take emissions from trade into account”, says Edgar Hertwich, professor of Energy and Process Engineering at NTNU, and director of the university’s Industrial Ecology Programme, who co-authored a paper about the analysis with Glen Peters, a senior scientist at CICERO. The online preprint of the publication in Environmental Science and Technology, a peer-reviewed publication from the American Chemical Society, was made available on June 15.

Does Free Trade Help or Hurt the Climate?

Making trade more free could lead to a rise in carbon dioxide emissions as a result of greater economic activity. But more trade could also help to staunch climate change by increasing the availability of climate-friendly technologies and products.

Those are the conclusions in a report issued on Friday by the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Environment Program.

The report seemed aimed partly at defending continuing efforts by the W.T.O. to broker a long-awaited deal as part of the so-called Doha round of trade talks.

“Contrary to some claims, trade and trade opening can have a positive impact on emissions of greenhouse gases in a variety of ways including accelerating the transfer of clean technology and the opportunity for developing economies to adapt those technologies to local circumstances,” read a statement that accompanied the report.

Europeans ‘Demand More’ From Americans

Many environmental advocates have called the recent passage of a climate bill through the United States Congress a landmark achievement in the struggle to address climate change.

But too some Europeans, the United States still appears to be taking baby steps.

Andreas Carlgren, the Swedish minister for the environment, told journalists on Friday in Brussels that passage of the Waxman-Markey bill would be significant, but added that American emissions reduction targets still risked falling far short of what would be needed to reach a global deal at United Nations negotiations in December in Copenhagen.

Public still supports emissions scheme

Two-thirds of voters support the Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme in a finding that will do little to ease pressure on the Opposition to deal with the scheme in the Senate before the end of the year.

The latest Herald/Nielsen poll finds 65 per cent support the scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and 25 per cent oppose it.

Support for the scheme was virtually unchanged since the question was last polled a year ago, but opposition to it has risen by 10 percentage points as arguments against the scheme in the midst of an economic crisis have mounted.

Algae Farm Aims to Turn Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel

Dow Chemical and Algenol Biofuels, a start-up company, are set to announce Monday that they will build a demonstration plant that, if successful, would use algae to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol as a vehicle fuel or an ingredient in plastics.

Because algae does not require any farmland or much space, many energy companies are trying to use it to make commercial quantities of hydrocarbons for fuel and chemicals. But harvesting the hydrocarbons has proved difficult so far.

The ethanol would be sold as fuel, the companies said, but Dow’s long-term interest is in using it as an ingredient for plastics, replacing natural gas. The process also produces oxygen, which could be used to burn coal in a power plant cleanly, said Paul Woods, chief executive of Algenol, which is based in Bonita Springs, Fla. The exhaust from such a plant would be mostly carbon dioxide, which could be reused to make more algae.

The Dirty War Against Clean Coal

While President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal to reduce greenhouse gases has been the big topic of recent environmental debate, the White House has also been pushing a futuristic federal project to build a power plant that burns coal without any greenhouse gases. Sounds great, right? Except the idea is a rehash of a proposal that went bust the first time around.

GM rolls out preproduction Chevy Volt ahead of schedule

General Motors Corp. has announced it drove the first preproduction model of its electric-powered Chevy Volt Tuesday — two weeks ahead of schedule.

The car is seen as the linchpin of GM’s effort to transform itself from a bankrupt automaker into a leader in the fuel-efficient auto market.

Early testing of the automobile will make it less prone to problems when it reaches the market, according to Aaron Bragman, an analyst for IHS Global Insight.

Carbon capture tech ready by 2015 — utility exec

The technology needed to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide emitted by coal-fired power plants will be ready by 2015 and could be in wide use by 2020, according to Mike Morris, the CEO of American Electric Power.

American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest utilities, has learned much about the technology from its experimental works in West Virginia, he said. Three-fourths of the firm’s power is generated by coal.

“I’m convinced [carbon capture] will be primetime ready by 2015 and deployable,” Morris said at the Edison Electric Institute conference.

Grassoline: Biofuels Beyond Corn

By now it ought to be clear that the U.S. must get off oil. We can no longer afford the dangers that our dependence on petroleum poses for our national security, our economic security or our environmental security. Yet civilization is not about to stop moving, and so we must invent a new way to power the world’s transportation fleet. Cellulosic biofuels””liquid fuels made from inedible parts of plants””offer the most environmentally attractive and technologically feasible near-term alternative to oil.

QuikScat Finds Tempests Brewing In ‘Ordinary’ Storms

“¦But tropical cyclones aren’t the only storms that generate hurricane-force winds. Among others that do is a type of storm that dominates the weather in parts of the United States and other non-tropical regions every fall, winter and into spring: extratropical cyclones….

Take the “Hanukkah Eve” extratropical cyclone of Dec. 14-15, 2006, for example. That storm viciously raked the U.S. Pacific Northwest and British Columbia with torrential rainfall and hurricane-force winds exceeding 87 knots (100 miles per hour) in spots. Dozens of people were injured and 18 people lost their lives, while thousands of trees were downed, power was knocked out for more than 1.5 million residents and structural damage topped $350 million….

NOAA defines an extratropical cyclone as “a storm system that primarily gets its energy from the horizontal temperature contrasts that exist in the atmosphere.” These low pressure systems have associated cold fronts, warm fronts and occluded fronts. Tropical cyclones, in contrast, don’t usually vary much in temperature at Earth’s surface, and their winds are generated by the energy released as clouds and rain form in warm, moist, tropical air. While a tropical cyclone’s strongest winds are near Earth’s surface, the strongest winds in extratropical cyclones are about 12 kilometers (8 miles) up, in the tropopause. Tropical cyclones can become extratropical, and vice versa.

Extratropical cyclones occur in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific year-round. Those with hurricane-force winds have been observed from September through May. Their frequency typically begins to increase in October, peaks in December and January, and tapers off sharply after March. They can range from less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) in diameter to more than 4,000 kilometers (nearly 2,500 miles) across. They typically last about five days, but their hurricane-force winds are usually short-lived–just 24 hours or less. Because they can intensify rapidly, they’re often referred to as meteorological “bombs.” Wind speeds in extratropical cyclones can vary from just 10 or 20 knots (12 to 23 miles per hour) to hurricane-force (greater than 63 knots, or 74 miles per hour). During their development, they can trek along at more than 30 knots (35 miles per hour), but they slow down as they mature. At their seasonal peak, up to eight such storms of varying intensity have been observed at once in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

Rising sea could swallow Mombasa in 20 years

Mombasa is known all over the world as a city of sun-kissed beaches and luxurious hotels packed with tourists having the time of their lives.

But in just 20 years, this world-renowned tourist haven may become an island of misery in which vast stretches of land are submerged in sea.

Salinity will make the water unfit for human consumption, it is feared, and local agriculture will collapse due to excess salts in the soil.

The Legalities of Rainwater Harvesting

Just as people use the sun to generate power for their homes, many homeowners capture rainfall for a variety of uses “” from washing dishes to watering gardens during dry spells. But rainwater harvesting, as it is known, can be quite controversial “” and in some Western states it is akin to theft.

Opponents of the practice argue that if rain or snowfall is captured, less water will flow to streams and aquifers where it is needed for wells and springs. If enough people hijack precipitation, the thinking goes, it would be cheating downstream users who are legally entitled to the water.

19 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for June 29: China likely to reject bid for GM’s Hummer; Projected food demands seen to outpace production

  1. ken levenson says:

    Re: “Rising sea could swallow Mombasa in 20 years”

    We should add:

    South Florida
    Gulf Coast
    Mid-Atlantic/NE coasts

    just to note our immediate neighborhood….

    Let’s watch the Great Lakes become our new “beach destination”….an expanding beach no doubt….anyone interested in starting a real estate trust? ;)

  2. paulm says:

    And the Cayman Is.!

  3. paulm says:

    Nuclear is not going to be any part of the solution in North America!

    Ontario drops plans for 2 new nuclear reactors
    Citing ballooning costs and its responsibility to the taxpayers of the province, the Ontario government says it is indefinitely mothballing plans to build two new nuclear reactors at the Darlington power station.

  4. jaykennedy says:

    Good NYT article today about rainwater harvesting becoming legal in Colorado

    Hope to see more creative efforts on both small and large scales to combat the negative effects of climate change.

  5. paulm says:

    Keys ill-prepared for rising sea
    Despite being called ‘ground zero’ for sea-level rise in the United States, the Florida Keys have lagged behind the rest of South Florida in planning for the potentially massive problem.

    Some 35 miles west of Key West, in 45 feet of water under a five-foot layer of dense mud lay an 8,500-year-old shoreline not unlike today’s coast of the Florida Keys. There were well-preserved mangroves, pine cones and pine tree pieces, some amazingly still fragrant when brought to the surface.

  6. China – hmm, their brand of totalitarian capitalism may work best for the future. Once they decide to change, they can move fast.

  7. ClaudeB says:

    PaulM: This is a negotiation tactic in order to get the cost overruns fully covered by the federal government.

    But, BC, Manitoba and Quebec will scream bloody murder (these provinces paid for their power infrastructures themselves), so Harper can’t give in.

  8. paulm says:

    Yes, but Nuclear is a different ball game – is way more expensive.

  9. paulm says:


    The followers of the peace lobbies of the 1930s resembled the environmentalist movements now; their intentions were more than good but wholly inappropriate for the war that was about to start. It is time to wake up and realize that Gaia, the Earth system, is no cozy mother that nurtures humans and can be propitiated by gestures such as carbon trading or sustainable development.

  10. paulm says:

    Its probably a similar figure for the US…not enough.

    “Our research expenditure on non-fossil energy sources is 0.2% of what we spend on energy itself,” said Shepherd. “Multiplying that by 10 would be a very sensible thing to do. We’re spending less than 1% on probably the biggest problem we’ve faced in many decades.”

  11. Andy says:

    How can so many folks believe that global warming could be a scientific screw up, a hoax or some sort of grand conspiracy? Read this story. One of the three Texas pollution control agency’s commissioners (they dictate the agency’s every move at the governors behest), a scientists from Texas’ biggest or second biggest (I’m not going to get into the aggie vs longhorn argument) university says that global warming isn’t happening.

    With that sort of cover, it’s an easy sell to those citizens that want to believe people like Fred Dyson, George Will, etc. I mean, here we have the second biggest state of the union’s chief pollution regulator and a scientist from its biggest university stating (with arms folded at the chest) that global warming is hooey.

    It is time to tackle each and everyone of these limelighters out and destroy their credibility by calling out their credentials and pointing out their the mistakes in their beliefs.

  12. paulm says:

    Joe you gave your brother some good advice…

    Rising sea level to submerge Louisiana coastline by 2100, study warns

    Scientists say between 10,000 and 13,500 square kilometres of coastal land around New Orleans will go underwater due to rising sea levels and subsidence.

    “When you look at the numbers you come to the conclusion that the resources are just not there to restore all the coast, and that is one of the major points of this paper,”

    “I think every geologist that has worked on this problem realises the future does not look very bright unless we can come up with some innovative ways to get that sediment in the right spot,”

  13. ken levenson says:

    paulm, i’m afraid Lovelock is far closer to the target than most…too bad his last book is unreadable…

  14. Yuebing says:

    Full Deutsche Bank report is here:

    On page 24 the talk about climate change impacting yields, but then they don’t appear to factor it into the report anywhere: “Changing precipitation patterns and the shifts of regional weather to be hotter and drier in some regions while other regions become more moist will cause severe challenges to existing agricultural systems. Lobell et al. 2008, described how warmer climates will harm yields. Also, Schlenker and Roberts (2005) estimated that the probability of increased warmer temperatures would occur in developing regions of the world is proportionately. Losses of as much as US $5 billion a year have been estimated from farmland value (dryland) due to changes in temperature and precipitation Schlenker et al.2005”

  15. Yuebing says:

    The DB report is easily the best report I have seen on current and projected global food production. (sorry WorldWatch)

    They still need to factor in very high temeperatures leading to massive crop losses like those seen in the European Heat Wave of 2003.

  16. paulm says:

    I was looking forward to that read:(
    Waiting for it to get to the local library.

    Most of us tend to hang on to hope much longer than we should, because it can change outcomes – its a human instinct.

    Much is possible if you wish on it enough. Unfortunately, also, a lot isn’t.

  17. Modesty says:

    So Europeans are saying W-M doesn’t do enough?

    What is the W-M U.S. target, anyway?

    First of all, the “economy-wide” goal for W-M, as stated in W-M, is a 20% cut from 2005 levels by 2020. That’s a 6 or7 percent cut below 1990 levels, not 3 or 4 percent everyone is talking about, right?

    Furthermore, why is this (the economy-wide 20% below 2005 levels in 2020) the stated goal for W-M when WRI analysis finds that the bill will achieve cuts below 2005 levels of 28-33% and below 1990 levels of 17-23%? Why not draw on these figures for the “economy-wide” goal?

    Finally, what would the range for *domestic* emission cuts through W-M in 2020 be, using the WRI assumptions?

  18. ken levenson says:

    Yea, the book is a rambling mess, repetitive etc…like it had no editor….no big contribution beyond “Revenge”. Please report back what you think of it!

    I’m all for hanging onto hope…I’m actually an eternal optimist…but my optimism is now rooted in reinventing society to survive the coming cataclysm…a dark optimism to be sure….but with a 1 month old 2.75 yr old girls…I must believe there will be a way for them to thrive….however 90% of humanity I’m not so sure about…whiplash to be sure…

  19. Modesty says:

    The following comment is still in moderation, since 9.27 pm, June 29.
    So, I’m reposting it without the links:

    So Europeans are saying W-M doesn’t do enough?

    What is the W-M U.S. target, anyway?

    First of all, the “economy-wide” goal for W-M, as stated in W-M, is a 20% cut from 2005 levels by 2020. That’s a 6 or7 percent cut below 1990 levels, not 3 or 4 percent everyone is talking about, right?

    Furthermore, why is this (the economy-wide 20% below 2005 levels in 2020) the stated goal for W-M when WRI analysis finds that the bill will achieve cuts below 2005 levels of 28-33% and below 1990 levels of 17-23%? Why not draw on these figures for the “economy-wide” goal?

    (For the analysis, go to wri dot org slash usclimatetargets.)

    Finally, what would the range for *domestic* emission cuts through W-M in 2020 be, using the WRI assumptions?