July 1 News: Allergies Getting Worse? Climate Change Could Cause Pollen Counts To Double By 2040

Tree pollen comes earlier, ragweed stays later, and people everywhere are sneezing more due to global warming. [Louisville Courier-Journal]

Lucy Dutton would love to spend hours in her yard tending flowers, but as soon as she goes outside, her throat gets dry and scratchy, her nose stuffs up and she starts coughing.

“It’s part of living near the Ohio River,” the 53-year-old nurse from Fern Creek said of her allergy troubles. “And they’ve gotten worse in recent years.”

Doctors and other experts agree, and they say climate change is partly to blame.

A federal plant physiologist says tree pollen is emerging roughly two weeks sooner in the spring, and ragweed pollen is lingering two to four weeks longer in the fall.

In fact, pollen counts are expected to more than double by 2040, according to a study presented at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology last fall.

A major heat wave in the western U.S. tied or broke temperature records in several states and caused one death as well as multiple heat-related illnesses. [The New York Times]

Despite a steady influx of cheap Canadian oil, Midwest gasoline prices haven’t gone down, casting doubt on claims that Keystone XL will lower American gas prices. [InsideClimate News]

Amy Harder lays out a scenario in National Journal where President Obama approves the Keystone pipeline in December. [National Journal]

President Obama pledged $8 billion to the “Power Africa” initiative which would invest in more a more reliable power grid for sub-Saharan Africa. [Forbes]

Climate change is as big a threat to U.K. security as terrorism and cyber-attacks, according to a senior U.K. military commander. [Guardian]

A new study has found a possible link between an active El Nino weather pattern and climate change. [Bloomberg]

Technical hurdles are no longer the reason why solar power plants are not covering the world’s deserts. [Scientific American]

The House members who pushed a recent offshore drilling bill received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry in the last election cycle. [OpenSecrets]

Electricity in New England is virtually coal-free, with only six coal-fired power plants connected to the grid — two of which are closing. [Environmental Health News]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked legislation last week that would have improved the fuel efficiency of European cars and saved drivers about $600 per year. []

A new project to extract underground gas in Scotland would release tens of thousands of tons of methane over 25 years. [Herald Scotland]

Mother Jones highlights the 21 U.S. rivers that are most at risk of droughts, flooding, agriculture or pollution. [Mother Jones]

Several of the largest cookie companies in the U.K. have pledged to reduce the amount of palm oil in their recipes, which could mean good news in the fight against deforestation. [Guardian]

A remote region of the Peruvian Amazon, home to vulnerable indigenous tribes, will soon be exploited for its oil. [Guardian]

The longest-running concentrated solar power plant in the U.S. is turning 30 years old and looking to upgrade its facilities to be able to store more energy using technology like molten salts. [RenewEconomy]

16 Responses to July 1 News: Allergies Getting Worse? Climate Change Could Cause Pollen Counts To Double By 2040

  1. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    “Unclean at any Speed”. This article in the July issue of the IEEE Spectrum disses electric vehicles.

    *IEEE = Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

  2. BobbyL says:

    The National Journal article speculating on how Obama will approve the Keystone XL pipeline is worth reading. It kind of makes sense suggesting that Obama will use the approval to get the Canadians to take measures to reduce emissions. Then Obama will argue that the net effect of approving the pipeline is emissions reduction. It is also suggested that subsequently the big environmental groups will shift focus to regulation of emissions from power plants, although they are likely to launch law suits to stop Keystone. Importantly, it does not mention what grassroots activists will do if he approves it. It is unlikely that they will sit by and do nothing while construction commences. It is known that TransCanada is preparing for the worst, confrontations to stop the pipeline from being built.

  3. Will Fox says:

    “A new project to extract underground gas in Scotland would release tens of thousands of tons of methane over 25 years.”

    – I thought Scotland wanted to go 100% renewable by 2020?

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    Comments, CP and CAP?

    Give me a break!

    The NationalJournal article — in typical fashion from many/most/all political-type reporting — manages to present yet another rationalization that many, perhaps most Democrats will somehow find a way to accept, slowly embrace, and even ultimately applaud. The article sets the stage for us to think about it, say “hey, I hadn’t thought about it that way”, get used to it, and not be surprised when Obama finally approves KXL for one reason or another, whether his explanation does or doesn’t match exactly with the article’s theory. These types of things prepare the way so overly-loyal Dems can get used to and even embrace a ‘yes’ (to KXL) pronouncement by the President. I say, BS. Ultimately, it is only BS (given the situation and stakes involved) to approve KXL based on some sort of supposed verbal deal with the (highly conservative) Canadian government that Canada will reduce its GHG emissions more than it would otherwise do so if Obama approves KXL. Are you kidding me? Are you joking? Are you mad? Wake up.

    So, I’d be interested in your thoughts on this, Joe and Ryan?

    And, am I to anticipate that not only CP and CAP, but even Bill McKibben himself will someday accept, embrace, and even possibly applaud a decision that approves KXL, along the following lines: “Well, we are deeply disappointed in the President’s decision on KXL, and we disagree with it, but under the circumstances, we have to keep our eye on the larger picture, so given that he is regulating power plants now, and given that he has managed (supposedly) to strike a deal with the Canadians to reduce their GHG emissions, well then, overall it seems to make sense, and we accept it. (And by the way, let’s all make sure that we vote for Hillary Clinton next time around. After all, we must support the Dems!)”

    Is THAT the sort of thing we can expect? I hope I’m wrong.



  5. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    From our friends in OZ:

  6. Peter Sergienko says:

    Hi Jeff,

    From what I have observed, Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and have drawn a very clear line in the sand on the Keystone XL Pipeline and expanded development of the Alberta tar sands–they’ve said it’s “game over” for the climate. Hard to walk back from that. Additionally, I am the recipient of almost daily emails from various groups, including, reminding me that civil disobedience training is available at various cities this summer in preparation for direct, peaceful, actions should Keystone be approved.

    I understand the urge to make DC insider predictions (speculation?) as in the National Journal article. I can speculate that President Obama could engage in horse-trading with Canada that would result in greenhouse gas emissions reductions sufficient to off-set further development of the tar sands. I think it would take at least that level of commitment from Canada for most opponents of the pipeline to reconsider their opposition. And, even then, because there are so many other environmental reasons to oppose the pipeline beyond its climate impacts, I suspect most opponents will remain opposed even if major horse-trading on greenhouse gas emissions occurs.

  7. Joe Romm says:

    That is the biggest collection of bs from you I have ever read. Seriously, take a chill pill. Better yet, take 10. This is the political equivalent of hypochondria. Anyway, I’m finishing up a post on that absurd piece which I’ll post tomorrow. Til then, get some Xanax or something.

  8. prokaryotes says:

    In the above linked National Journal post “How Obama Could Approve Keystone” a comment states =

    “he is going to need to clear that with Warren Buffet first – he is the guy shipping the oil currently if anyone is curious.”

    Warren Buffett bets $5.6 billion on Nevada energy
    Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway will acquire NV Energy – the company that keeps the lights on in much of Nevada. NV Energy is a relatively safe bet on renewables in a state that’s seen some hard times.

    Renewables are a big part of the acquisition. NV Energy will contribute 1 gigawatt in wind, solar, and geothermal to MidAmerican, which is a big investor in government-financed solar plants and is currently working to meet Nevada’s requirement that utilities derive at least 25 percent of their energy from renewables. That’s good news for a state short on oil and gas, but with big potential for wind, solar, and geothermal.

  9. prokaryotes says:

    This acquisition hints to a change…

  10. prokaryotes says:

    Buffett’s Union Tank Car Co. is working at full capacity and Icahn’s American Railcar Industries Inc. (ARII) has a backlog through 2014. Trinity Industries Inc. (TRN), the biggest railcar producer, began converting wind-tower factories last year to help meet demand for train cars that can transport the petroleum product.
    All three are getting a boost from a shale-oil boom that’s poised to make the U.S. the world’s largest crude producer by 2020. Rail carloads of crude tripled last year to more than 200,000, and demand for tanks designed for it soared, helping both Trinity and American Railcar outstrip the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
    “People who want to ship oil can’t get them,” Toby Kolstad, president of the consultant firm Rail Theory Forecasts LLC said, referring to railcars. “They’re desperate to get anything to move crude oil.”

    Oil produced from hydraulic fracturing allowed the U.S. to expand oil production last year by the most since the first commercial well was drilled in 1859. Domestic output grew to the highest level in 15 years, while carloads carried by Union Pacific Corp. (UNP), the country’s biggest railroad, surged to 140,000 last year from 2,400 in 2010.
    “It still feels very much like an emerging market,” said Beth Whited, vice president and general manager of Union Pacific’s chemicals business. “There are large numbers of requests coming in really every week to our crude oil team here” asking for service to new locations.

    Union Tank Car, a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) that once formed part of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, is keeping all the cars it produces and leasing them, rather than selling to third parties, said Bruce Winslow, a company spokesman.
    The company’s two plants near Houston and in Alexandria, Louisiana, are running at full capacity, which is about 6,240 a year combined, he said. Union Tank Car, whose parent company also profits from shale-oil shipments through its Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, isn’t planning to expand production, Winslow said.
    “We see the industry as very cyclical,” he said. “Within the memory of most any tank-car guy, he can say, ‘I remember when we didn’t know where to park them all.’ ”
    Excess Production
    Railcar makers don’t want to risk repeating the boom in production of coal cars, which are now gathering dust as energy producers fuel operations with cheaper natural gas, also found in shale formations. Coal carloads at the largest North American rail carriers fell 8.6 percent to 4.89 million in the first three months of 2012.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    If you’ve been paying attention, railroads have slowly but surely become the preferred option of shipping for the US in increasing crude oil production. In 2012 alone, delivery of petroleum and crude oil products by railroad increased by more than 30%. Mainly, this increase is due to the added production coming out of the Bakken region in North Dakota.

    Continental Resources, a Bakken producer, seemed to really enjoy using the railroads as their favorite mode of transportation. This company and many of its peers have been producing a lot more oil than the current infrastructure and pipeline was capable of handling. That created a very wide differential in the price of crude oil produced out of Bakken and that of the United States benchmark West Texas intermediate. Thanks for the railways, the differential has come down quite a bit recently.

    This is fantastic news for specific railroad owners and certain producers of crude oil. But in reality, this may be bad news for the future of pipelines.

    When dealing with the investment world, we often speak about terms in regards to accompany as having “first mover” status because it takes over and has a large, sustainable advantage over the competition. This tends to be great in regards to future profits.

    It’s quite noticeable that the railroads have a major advantage over pipelines. If it’s any indication, the rails are here to stay as the Bakken crude oil vehicle of choice. Since it’s quite obvious that this advantage exists, it’s making it a lot more difficult for the pipelines to compete in this territory. They’re having a difficult time moving in.

    The main advantage is quite simple – it’s very easy to transport crude oil with the railways from coast to coast. The pipeline is not currently capable of doing that. Even with the extra shipping costs, domestic oil is a lot cheaper than the oil that we import. That’s why it’s very noticeable that refiners like Phillips 66 are starting to step up their game. They are looking to gain access to crude oil by any means necessary, and that includes the railways.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Railways will most likely be part of a permanent solution to move crude oil from production basins to market centers. As we have all noticed in the Keystone XL debate, it is not easy to build a major pipeline in the United States of America. That will make it less likely that an east or west coast pipeline will ever be built. So, more than likely, crude oil will continue to keep being shipped through the rails, and Warren Buffett is going to continue to be the conductor of choice.

  13. prokaryotes says:

    Oil Prices Converge as U.S. Bottlenecks Ease

    A strange distortion that’s persisted in the oil market far longer than many thought possible is finally starting to disappear. First, some background:

    For the past few years the prices of essentially two identical types of oil—U.S. light, sweet crude (West Texas Intermediate), and its international equivalent, Brent—have diverged wildly. As the U.S. shale boom flooded the middle of the country with millions of new barrels of light, sweet crude, reversing a 20 year decline in U.S. oil production, the price of WTI crashed relative to Brent. With all that new domestic oil essentially stuck in the middle of the U.S., building up in places like Cushing, Okla., WTI was suddenly super cheap. Anything you can’t efficiently transport quickly loses value. After trading within a dollar of each other for decades, by March 2011 a barrel of WTI was trading $15 below a barrel of Brent. By November 2012, the spread was $25. This differential led to one of the biggest arbitrage opportunities in recent memory.

    For the past five months, though, that spread has narrowed as more U.S. oil has started making its way to refining hubs along the coasts. New pipelines are relieving bottlenecks. Railroads are now moving more crude than they have since the days of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. By the end of this year, a million barrels of oil will likely be riding the rails, which would be more than a 1,000 percent increase from 2008.

  14. prokaryotes says:

    Sadly for consumers, higher WTI prices will likely translate into higher gasoline prices, especially as the U.S. continues to cut its imports of Brent-priced oil. More expensive WTI is also bad news for coastal refiners. Those in the middle of the country with easy access to cheap doemstic crude have enjoyed blowout profits over the past couple years, while their coastal counterparts were often stuck buying higher-priced imported Brent oil. Ironically, one of the functions of getting more WTI to market is that its price will eventually rise.

  15. prokaryotes says:

    Ironically the big loser seems to be Koch with his pipeline dream, Canada Tar Sands (as long they don’t switch to railroad) refineries and ofc the climate. Maybe there will be some opportunities for public transport and the railroad grid too.

  16. Joan Savage says:

    A Canadian pipeline that formerly took imported oil westward from the east coast is being reconfigured to ship crude in the opposite direction, from Alberta to the east. It has faced protests from and others.

    When barge traffic on the Mississippi was disrupted, that likely spurred rail car manufacturing as well. It would be interesting to see if the new cars are mostly tank cars or a variety.

    Heat thresholds for rail failure are supposedly 100F in the South and 90F in the north, roughly a point where the rails can develop sun-kinks. That doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule, and we haven’t had news of a derailment in the heatwave. Knock on wood.