The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.
The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.
Assuming these findings are published in a peer-reviewed publication, as is planned, they should be taken quite seriously for four reasons. First, many fear that a huge methane release is what happened during the Permian-Triassic extinction event and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Second, releasing even a small fraction of the sub-sea methane would make a stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at non-catastrophic concentrations all but impossible.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 23, 2008 at 5:16 pm
In 2006 the California legislature passed AB32, which required greenhouse pollution to return to 1990 levels by 2020. They left it up to state regulatory agencies to come up with the details.
Governor Schwarzenegger followed with an executive order that requires an 80% reduction from 1990 levels in greenhouse pollution by 2050 (at which time California’s is expected to be twice the 1990 population, so this represents a factor of ten per capita reduction in greenhouse pollution.)
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been working to meet various statutory deadlines for the reduction plan. Its proposed plan will be released next month (October). As part of the process, it has made estimates of the economic costs and benefits of its plans, and it released those estimates last week:
These estimates indicated that the overall savings from improved efficiency and developing alternatives to petroleum will, on the whole, outweigh the costs. This balance is largely driven by current high energy costs and the degree to which measures increase energy efficiency throughout the economy and move California toward ultimately cheaper alternatives to fossil fuels.
The measures pay for themselves — not even counting the benefit of helping to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. The executive summary lists the key elements of CARB’s preliminary recommendation for the 2020 target:
At the same meeting, McCain also criticized the idea of building new coal plants that do not sequester their greenhouse gas emissions. He said:
We’re going to build new plants that generate energy, my friends, we’re going to build them. We’ve got to. There’s an increased demand for it. And it seems to me, it’s going to be coal, which I believe will increase greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, or it’s going to be nuclear, or it’s going to be clean coal technology.
Carbon capture and sequestration (sometimes described as “clean coal” technology) is still a developmental technology. Does McCain’s careful separation of coal plants that “increase greenhouse gas emissions dramatically” from “clean coal technology” mean that McCain opposes the construction of new traditional coal plants?
Following McCain’s remarks, McCain representative George “Macaca” Allen (R-VA) spoke with reporters about coal. Allen confused traditional coal plants, advanced “clean coal” technology, and climate-killing liquid coal. In the twenty-minute call, neither Allen, Capito, Scott McInnis (R-CO) — a registered lobbyist for the mining industry — nor the other speakers mentioned any of the following:
The coalition will help spread the message about the importance of clean coal technology and the advantages of tapping the country’s vast coal reserves. As part of John McCain’s “all of the above” energy plan, the Lexington Project, clean coal will be a strong component of the drive to energy independence. In addition to providing domestic energy, the coal industry is a key part of the economy in several states.
The Obama-Biden campaign later announced the “Clean Coal Jobs Task Force”:
Today, the Obama-Biden campaign announced a Clean Coal Jobs Task Force, aimed at furthering Senator Obama and Senator Biden’s commitment to creating jobs and energy independence through clean coal. The Task Force is made up of members representing workers from key coal-producing states and will work to promote the Obama-Biden agenda to invest in advanced coal-based technologies, create more jobs in the coal sector and enhance mine safety.
If you follow peak oil — and if you don’t, you will be bitchslapped by reality — then you know of Matt Simmons. I was introduced to him several years ago by my former boss at the Energy Department. Back then Simmons was merely one of the savviest financier in the oil services business, who was presciently warning all who would listen that natural gas supplies in this country would not respond quickly to increased prices and thus we should expect some serious price spikes.
10. Climate Feedback (46,821 – #9) — “An informal forum for debate and commentary on climate science.”
9. A Few Things Ill Considered (35,362 - #2) — “A layman’s take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic.”
8. SolveClimate.com (23,600 – NEW) – Daily Climate News and Opinion
7. Climate Ark (22,922 - #5) — “Climate Change and Global Warming Portal.”
6. Climate of Our Future (15,042 – #8) — “A discussion on climate change.”
5. It’s Getting Hot In Here (13,992 – #7) — “Dispatches from the youth climate movement.”
4. Celsias (8,394 – #3) — “Cooling the planet one project at a time.”
3. DeSmogBlog (6,671 – #4) — “Clearing the PR pollution that clouds climate science.”
2. Climate Progress (4,359 – #6) — “An insider’s view of climate science, politics, and solutions.”
…and the reigning champ:
1. RealClimate (3,222 – #1) — “Climate science from climate scientists.”
In a new video, Green Jobs Now compares Newt Gingrich’s “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” propaganda to the Green Jobs Now green recovery agenda. Newt fares poorly. Watch it:
The Green Jobs Now Day of Action is this Saturday, September 27. Thousands of Americans will be calling for investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and job training for people who are ready to get to work building a more just and sustainable economy.
Newt Gingrich’s “Solutions Day” is this Saturday, September 27. He’ll be calling for more drilling, privatizing health care and Social Security, and slashing corporate taxes.
Who will you join this weekend?
UPDATE: Adi at 1Sky reports: “We’re up to 558 events in all 50 states!” At SolveClimate, David Sassoon writes: “And the coalition now has a secret weapon: Patrick, and his caulk gun. Shock and Awe has met its match.”
Lobbying for his plan to sharply ramp up renewables, the billionaire oilman has been brought face to face with the Big Energy Lie — the absurd notion that either John McCain or the Republicans in Congress actually believe in an “all of the above” energy policy.
TP reports on a sadder but wiser (and far more cogent) Pickens at the National Press Club yesterday:
Q: You told the New York Times last month that you’d never vote for a Democrat. Are you finding that difficult in reaching out to Democrats then with your plan? [...]
PICKENS: So I am having no problem working with the Democrats. Having a little problem working with the Republicans. They don’t like it because I want to do more than just drill. And they, somehow have gotten it, a lot of them have, that you can drill your way out of this. But you can’t do it. There’s not enough oil there to do it.
Edited by Joe Romm, we cover climate science, solutions and politics. Columnist Tom Friedman calls us "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named us one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." Newcomers, start here.