April 10 News: UN Says Health Benefits Of Switching To Clean Energy Will Be Enormous

Fighting climate change would be good for everyone’s health, UN experts said yesterday. [Reuters]

Air pollution is an underestimated scourge that kills far more people than AIDS and malaria and a shift to cleaner energy could easily halve the toll by 2030, U.N. officials said on Tuesday.

Investments in solar, wind or hydropower would benefit both human health and a drive by almost 200 nations to slow climate change, blamed mainly on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from use of fossil fuels, they said.

“Air pollution is causing more deaths than HIV or malaria combined,” Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, told a conference in Oslo trying to work out new U.N. development goals for 2030….

A 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) study found that 3.5 million people die early annually from indoor air pollution and 3.3 million from outdoor air pollution. Toxic particles shorten lives by causing diseases such as pneumonia or cancer.

“The problem has been underestimated in the past,” Maria Neira, the WHO’s director of public health and environment, told Reuters. Smog is an acute problem from Beijing to Mexico City.

“Still, it means more than 6 million deaths every year caused by air pollution,” she said. “The horrible thing is that this will be growing” because of rising use of fossil fuels. …

“If we increase access to clean energy … the health benefits will be enormous. Maybe the health argument was not used enough” in debate on encouraging a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies, she said.

Yesterday, Ernest Moniz told the Senate that he saw natural gas as a way to fight climate change. [Washington Post]

He also echoed the Administration’s position on pricing carbon — that there was more of a bipartisan appetite for doing so in 2008. [The Hill]

A federal judge ruled that the Administration should have fully weighed the environmental impact of fracking before issuing leases in California. [Reuters]

Yesterday, educators released curriculum guidelines that recommend teaching the science of climate change and evolution starting in middle school. [New York Times]

America does not spend enough on research and four charts will prove it. [Washington Post]

Researchers at Solazyme have made a breakthrough in microalgae renewable oil production, and will soon be able to produce several types of oil in the same place. [CleanTechnica]

Tomorrow, Heather Zichal will discuss energy and environmental issues with the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. [The Hill]

Olympic medalists who depend on snow to ply their craft wrote a letter to the White House saying that climate change threatens the winter tourism industry. And snow. [Guardian]

On May 1, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a case brought by Mississippi coastal landowners suing energy and chemical companies for emitting carbon pollution that causes climate change and sea level rise. [AP]

LCV and NWF are airing ads in some key states urging senators to back EPA nominee Gina McCarthy because she is an ally of fishermen and “a cop on the beat protecting the air, our kids and our communities.” [The Hill]

Crowdfunded solar energy is quickly gaining ground in California, with the first project offered selling out in six hours. [EarthTechling]

A Walgreens in Evanston, Illinois opening by Thanksgiving will produce more energy than it consumes. [CleanTechnica]

30 Responses to April 10 News: UN Says Health Benefits Of Switching To Clean Energy Will Be Enormous

  1. Will Fox says:

    Kansas’s Self-Destruct Button: A Bill to Outlaw Sustainability

    By Tom Randall
    Apr 9, 2013 1:10 PM GMT

    Kansas, I love your sense of humor.

    It seems like every time the Sunflower State pops up in my news feed, it’s for something like this: House Bill No. 2366, a proposed law that would make it illegal to use “public funds to promote or implement sustainable development.”

    Kansas, the place where I spent my formative years skipping school to go fishing in farm ponds, is populated with thoughtful stewards of the nation’s breadbasket. It also has a habit of turning reason on its head. The state famously dropped evolution from its educational curriculum in 1999, along with the age of the Earth and the history of the universe, for good measure.

    Now the state’s “Committee on Energy and Environment” is proposing a law that would prohibit spending on anything that won’t set Kansas on a course to self-destruction. House Bill No. 2366 would ban all state and municipal funds for anything related to “sustainable development,” which it defines as: “development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.”

    Read more:

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Moniz just crushed whatever hope anyone had for him, by nixing a carbon tax and touting natural gas.

    It doesn’t matter who’s president, since anyone who makes it that far was vetted by the banks and oil companies. Obama was never going to pick anyone decent for either Interior or Energy.

    Joe, Moniz is your homie. What happened to him, or was he always this bad?

  3. Joan Savage says:

    As in, keep it here, keep it in the ground, and use sparingly, for high priority matters, like food costs.

    That said, my home is still heated by natural gas and I’d like a way to get off it.

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    I’m very interested in your thoughts, Joe, regarding what Dr. Moniz said yesterday according to the articles cited above (I didn’t watch the hearing). So far, it all sounds like a disaster to me.

    Your thoughts?



  5. Sasparilla says:

    Same here Joan, I’ve thought about it as well.

    Seems like there’s alot of hard to answer questions (if we had a clean grid it’d be easy). Lets say you converted to a heat pump (getting heat from the grid), but most of your grid electricity is coming from coal or natural gas, where would you be CO2 wise? (since you’re harvesting pure heat from the furnace it may be more CO2 efficient than the grid -> heat pump route). If you have a clean grid then switching to a heat pump would seem to do the job (throw in some solar thermal and electric in there as well).

    On another thought, it seems crazy we don’t harness the waste heat in natural gas furnaces via thermoelectric generation of some sort as they get quite warm.

  6. Sasparilla says:

    He’s just parroting the administration’s plan, which I’d expect him to.

    He has had extensive contact with big oil (worked with BP and Saudi Arabia for years) so I’d expect him to be quite friendly with it as well – he’s going to be (for Big Carbon) the friendlier, cuddlier administration DOE Secretary compared to Chu and I doubt he’ll be out there tilting at climate change windmills for the country’s future or he wouldn’t have been nominated.

    But as long as he doesn’t allow/throw green energy and battery programs at DOE under the bus I’ll be able to stand him…at this point I think we just need to get past Obama with as little damage to DOE green and battery programs from here on out as possible – cause you know Big Carbon wants all that ended and the lobbying $$$ are there.

  7. Sasparilla, return of the concern troll?!

  8. Oh yeah, “alot of hard to answer questions”.


  9. fj says:

    3 Ways to Unlock Climate Finance — World Resources Inst (@worldresources)

  10. Getting house off natural gas:

    a) Maximum weatherization.

    b) Depending on the specifics of your house and climate, ductless heat pumps can be a pretty solid, fairly affordable way to convert to electric-powered heat. Here in Eugene we run them on a “green power” utility option, allocated from 100% wind and solar for a modest extra cost.

    Voila! Low carbon.

  11. Sasparilla says:

    Sorry Kevin, I’m not understanding what you’re meaning there. Are you calling me a troll?

  12. rjs says:

    moniz is wrong, wrong, wrong…

    up to 9% of the gas output from fracking escapes into the atmosphere at the wellhead…more escapes from leaking pipes in old cities like new york, boston, & DC…

    methane is about 21 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2 in the long term, but 72 times as potent over a 20 year horizon…

    according to the World Meteorological Organization’s annual report on 2011 greenhouse gases, atmospheric methane hit a new high of about 1813 parts per billion (ppb) in 2011, which was 259% of the pre-industrial level; since CO2 levels were at 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, that means methane’s net warming effect is already one-third that of CO2 over 20 years

  13. fj says:

    Very Sad, Tragic

    Both the structural (indirect) violence and the direct violence of global transportation cement the monopoly of transportation dependent on fossil fuels.

  14. fj says:

    There is definitely something wrong with a manmade system that kills and gravely injures people unless that is its intent.

  15. fj says:

    Making the streets safe in the world’s major cities would cause a profound reduction in emissions.

  16. catman306 says:

    Gee, Mr. Wizard, I’ve never heard of this before!

    Thunderstorms contain ‘dark lightning,’ invisible pulses of powerful radiation

  17. catman306 says:

    from your link:

    “It is the second tragedy to hit the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling after its director Professor Seymour Laxon died aged 49 after falling down a flight of stairs in the early hours of New Year’s Day, hitting his head and suffering a massive brain haemorrhage. Dr Giles had been earmarked as his successor.”

    A conspiracy theorist might see these two accidents in the same climate science department as connected and not being quite so accidental.

    Climate science is VERY controversial in some quarters.

    Because accidents do happen, I’d want to know much more about the lorry driver before getting my tinfoil hat on.

  18. Joan Savage says:

    I’ll take a look at ductless heat pumps.
    But I’m not counting on a modest cost, as re-insulation didn’t lower the BTU consumption quite enough to switch from therms to KWh at equivalent, much less lower, cost. The KWh are from wind & small hydro so I can at least check that step off the list.

    The other crazy thing is that we get storms from time to time that shut off grid electricity, while the gas keeps flowing, and that’s a life-saver and a pipe-saver.

  19. Sasparilla says:

    Well, while I appreciate the name calling (above) and the sarcasm – I’d like an apology from you for both.

    I really did have a hard to answer question (for me) that I couldn’t resolve, in my post, maybe you can say what the answer is with your background (really).

    Lets assume you’d done maximum weatherization but don’t have the choice of green grid power – would it be better, from a CO2 standpoint, to leave the natural gas furnace in place for heating (assuming its a somewhat efficient one) or buy & install a new heat pump which is using Coal or Natural Gas grid power (which much of the country is stuck with), since efficiency takes a huge whack turning coal or natural gas to electricity?

  20. Sasparilla says:

    Very true catman.

  21. Sasparilla says:

    Hi Joan, not sure why, but my reply to Kevin on #10, above, got stuck at #12 (like a mainline entry) so it looks like I’m replying to you there, which I wasn’t – sorry for any confusion.

    So if you loose grid power can you run your natural gas furnace and keep the house warm?

  22. Turboblocke says:

    The defense of the energy companies in that “On May 1, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a case brought by Mississippi coastal landowners suing energy and chemical companies…” story is revealing.

    “In their petition for a review by the full 5th Circuit, the companies argued that global warming was not attributable only to them but resulted from the emissions of greenhouse gases from millions of sources dating back to the Industrial Revolution.”
    Shouldn’t this admission be made known to all the deniers?

  23. MarkfromLexington says:

    I’ve done the math recently based on .905 lbs. of CO2 / kWh (conventional electricity here in Massachusetts) and an air source heat pump (spec’d at HSPF of 12.5 and the air source heat pump comes out ahead. 97 lbs. CO2 vs 117 lbs. CO2 (assuming 100% efficient natural gas boiler.)

    The natural gas boiler – will be less expensive. $13.70 per MMBTU vs $16.88 per MMBTU at $0.157 / kWh.

  24. MarkfromLexington says:

    Sasparilla – The answer to your question is highly location dependent – but here in colder New England – the best course of action if you are installing an air source heat pump is to leave the existing heating system in place – to handle heating needs on the 10 to 15 days a year that the average temperature falls below 10 degrees F.

    If your goal is max CO2 reduction per $, then switching from natural gas to an air source heat pump for the CO2 benefits – probably isn’t your best option for spending that money – unless you have renewable electricity available.

  25. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Middle school? Is that about 8-11 years? Get ’em young I say. Our littlies are now doing projects on climate change, saving water etc in pre-school, ME

  26. Sasparilla says:

    MarkfromLexington thanks for both replies (saving them both for future use), that’s actually really good news about the heat pump on the CO2 end.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:


  28. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sasp, getting past Obama means three more years of prevarication, to be polite, and the prospect of deliberately engineered losses in 2014 and 2016 delivering power to some Thuggee lunatics. Strange days indeed.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Was Professor Laxon’s ‘fall’ witnessed? Any more ‘accidents’ and one will feel the hairs prickling and the thumbs twitching.