30 OF OUR RECENT ARTICLES
SHORT VIDEO CLIPS
Links in BOLD are recent (14 days or less)
|California - Even More Droughts Predicted|
From: Joe Romm Posted: March 7th 2014
"Scientists a decade ago not only predicted the loss of Arctic ice would dry out California, they also precisely predicted the specific, unprecedented change in the jet stream that has in fact caused the unprecedented nature of the California drought."
"Meteorologists have fixed their attention on the scientific phenomenon they say is to blame for the emerging drought: a vast zone of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast, nearly four miles high and 2,000 miles long, so stubborn that one researcher has dubbed it the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge."
"This high pressure ridge has been acting like a brick wall and forcing the jet stream along a much more northerly track, blocking Pacific winter storms from coming ashore in California, deflecting them up into Alaska and British Columbia, even delivering rain and cold weather to the East Coast."
|Exxon's Shale Reserves Drop Dramatically|
From: Deborah Rogers Posted: March 6th 2014
"In February, 2012, Exxon Mobil announced that approximately 40% of its reserve replacements came from two shale plays, the Woodford and the Bakken"
"In late February, Exxon announced its latest  reserve replacements. In one short year, production from the Woodford and Bakken had more than halved."
"Reserves from the[se] shale plays have dropped more than 50% in one short year. Clearly, the company attempted to soften these numbers by including three other plays in the figure. Setting aside the accounting smoke and mirrors, it is a significant decline in reserves from those two shale plays."
ALSO, speaking to the Financial Times in Houston, Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of BHP Billiton, said it was completely impractical to suggest that shale gas could be the sole answer to providing affordable energy for the world while cutting carbon emissions.
SA needs to stop dreaming that shale gas is a cornucopia for the country.....[Ian]
|Will the Electricity Grid Become Optional?|
From: Renewable Energy World Posted: March 6th 2014
"For years, low-cost solar-plus-battery systems were seen as a distant possibility at best, a fringe technology not likely to be a threat to mainstream electricity delivery any time soon. By far, the limiting factor has been battery costs. But thanks to a confluence of factors playing out across the energy industry, the reality is that affordable battery storage is coming much sooner than most people realize. "
"That approaching day of cheaper battery storage, when combined with solar PV, has the potential to fundamentally alter the electricity landscape."
"While grid-tied solar has seen dramatic recent cost declines, until recently, solar-plus-battery systems have not been considered economically viable. However, concurrent declining costs of batteries, growing maturity of solar-plus-battery systems, and increasing adoption rates for these technologies are changing that."
|Final fracking regulations will take account of public input|
From: Engineering News Posted: March 4th 2014
"The Minister of Mineral Resources is now ready to consolidate. We’re looking at finalising the regulations. We need some guiding principles. The next step would be who does the exploration, minister Edna Molewa told an infrastructure cluster media briefing at Parliament."
"We see fracking as helping the country to deal with carbon emissions reductions. While working within the environmental considerations, if we find shale gas, we do think it will be a game-changer for the country."
But the balance of studies now tells us that shale gas production is worse than coal in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and major health studies have yet to be completed in the US.
|Watching a Bubble Burst|
From: Chris Nelder Posted: March 3rd 2014
"The economic foundations supporting fossil fuels investments are collapsing quickly, as the business case for renewables such as solar and wind finds a new center of balance."
"Underlying the abundance hype over tight oil, tar sands and other 'unconventional' sources of liquid fuel has been a dirty little secret: They're expensive. "
"A marvelous new presentation by Steven Kopits, Managing Director of the Douglas-Westwood consultancy, details oil supply, demand, cost and price trends with merciless precision. "
|Norway’s Oil Fund to Debate Ending Fossil Fuel Investments|
From: Financial Times Posted: February 28th 2014
"Norway is to debate whether the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – funded by petroleum revenues – should stop investing in oil, gas and coal companies."
"Any decision to stop investing in fossil fuel-related companies would send shockwaves through markets where the oil fund’s actions are closely followed."
"High quality global journalism requires investment. The oil fund’s chief executive, told the FT: This is the people’s money. It’s the people’s representatives in the parliament who decide the main aspects of the fund and decide what they ultimately do or do not want to be invested in.The oil fund was set up to channel Norway’s oil and gas revenues into long-term investments that would benefit future generations."
|Los Angeles Bans Fracking|
From: Jeff Spross Posted: February 28th 2014
"The new rule bans fracking and other forms of well stimulation within the city, until the council is assured that they do not pose a threat to residents’ health and safety. This also makes Los Angeles the first oil-producing city in California to call a halt to the practice."
"California lawmakers are also pushing for state-wide ban, based on concerns that the large amounts of freshwater consumes franking will further stress the state’s already drought-wracked drinking supplies"
"The chemicals used in fracking have been linked to infertility, birth defects, and cancer. In 2011, a study by the EPA of an aquifer in Wyoming found it had been contaminated by fracking fluids, with levels of benzene well above the standards set by the Safe Water Drinking Act. A Duke University study in 2013 analyzed 141 drinking water wells, and found methane — the natural gas released by franking — in 82 percent of them. "
|Tesla’s Gigafactory Unveiled|
From: The Eco Report Posted: February 27th 2014
Tesla have released preliminary plans of their so-called Gigafactory which is expected to be producing more lithium-ion batteries by 2020 than total global production today. They also plan to build 500,000 all-electric cars each year from 2017.
The rumours about their looking at sites in New Mexico and Nevada were correct. There are also potential locations in Arizona and Texas. Tesla is making a final site selection and hopes to start construction on the Gigafactory this year. They are also known to be in discussions with Apple, Panasonic and Sanyo about partnerships in the development.
The scale of the factory is designed to allow Tesla to reduce battery module costs by more than 30%, so allowing them to build a sub-$40,000 vehicle and its partners to reap similar benefits.
Maria van der Hoeven
|Wind, Solar PV are Crucial and Cost Effective
From: IEA Posted: February 26th 2014
"All our IEA scenarios indicate that generation from wind and solar PV is bound to increase sharply for decades to come. Against this backdrop, the variability of those sources is however raising concerns. And this has led us to assess the challenge of integrating variable renewables in more detail, both in technical and economic terms."
"Leading regions such as Denmark, Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula are already successfully dealing with shares between 15% and 30% in annual generation. And during some moments, wind and solar PV cover more than half of overall power demand. In Denmark, wind power frequently supplies all electricity demand."
"The second category is dynamic power systems – for example in India, China and Brazil and other emerging economies. These countries are characterised by high demand growth. Here there is great opportunity and here we expect the majority of new wind and solar power plants to be built in the coming years. They can leap-frog to a 21st-century power system – and they should reap the benefits."
|Catastrophic Sea Level Rise in China|
From: Dr. James Hansen Posted: February 26th 2014
Last Monday Drs. James Hansen and Makiko Sato made a presentation to the People's Republic of China on behalf of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States in which they described their view of the coming effects of climate change.
In one section they looked at how much higher sea levels were (5 to 9m) during the Eemian period when temperatures were 2°C higher than 1951-80 and in the Pliocene (15 to 25m) when, on the same basis, temperatures were 3-4°C higher.
They then displayed the distressing effect of those rises on China in the chart you see on the left. Darker blue is rise up to 6m, lighter blue up to 25m. The chart shows an area approximately 300x200km., so other regions are not depicted but also suffer similar, though slightly lesser fates. Currently we are headed for 4-6°C rise by 2100 and we are already seeing sea-ice sheets shrinking, ice masses in Greenland and Antarctica declining and most glaciers doubling to quadrupling the pace of their flow.
|Maize Stocks Slump to Nine-month Low|
From: Mail & Guardian Posted: February 25th 2014
"Stockpiles of both white and yellow maize declined 31% to 2.34-million metric tonnes, the lowest since April, at the end of last month from a year earlier, Pretoria-based South African Grain Information Service (Sagis) said in a statement on its website on Monday."
"White maize comprises only about 13% of global output, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. This makes it difficult to import. Southern African nations' preference for this type of the grain means the region is less likely to take advantage of a slump in global prices spurred by record harvests of maize, mainly yellow, from the US to Brazil."
"About three ships from the Black Sea are on their way with about 50 000 tonnes of yellow maize."
|Schedule of DMR Public Participation Meetings|
From: Ian Perrin Posted: February 22nd 2014
The Department of Mineral Resources(DMR) apparently released a document entitled 'PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON SHALE GAS' which was dated 28th September 2012.
Registered Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs) should have received a copy of this at the time, but it appears that they did not.
Recently an undated schedule of these meetings was circulated to the municipalities that were thought to be affected. The schedule does not have addresses for the meetings and in one case, not even a date. The meetings should have begun last Friday and have now been postponed for a few weeks.
|Cynicism and Hypocrisy|
From: CleanTechnica Posted: February 22nd 2014
The CEO of the world's largest oil company, Exxon/Mobil, has, in the past, told us that hydraulic fracturing is an old and completely safe technology that has no adverse effects on our communities, only benefits.
He has charcterised those of us with serious concerns about the risks and benefits of shale gas as dysfunctional. Debate about the process should never descend to this level of personal abuse.
Now we hear that he is objecting to a 40m water tower being built close to his R55million home. The principal market for the water will be to the fracking industry and Tillerson has objected to it because of the heavy traffic and the noise that will cause and the subsequent loss in value of his home. So, whilst acting for Exxon/Mobil he can use every trick in the book to inflict this burden on others, no-one should be allowed to do the same to him. This glimpse of the way a captain of the oil industry's mind works is revealing.
|Eskom Plan means Death for Thousands|
From: Mail & Guardian Posted: February 21st 2014
"Eskom has indicated its intention to apply for rolling postponements, thereby in effect asking for complete exemption from certain standards. The postponement applications are coupled with applications for variations of the conditions of its licences to allow certain stations to emit more than the licences currently allow."
"Greenpeace International energy campaigner and coal expert Lauri Myllyvirta has undertaken a detailed assessment of Eskom's current health impacts. He estimates that as many as 2,200 to 2,700 premature deaths are caused each year by the air-pollution emissions from Eskom's coal-fired power plants, including the deaths of 200 young children."
If the authors of this report are correct, then Eskom is holding the country to ransom. The organisation must come to grips with the realisation that such action will only hasten its break-up and privatisation. They should heed what Jeff Spross tells us is happening in the US.
|Regulation and Supervision Failure|
From: Inside Climate News Posted: February 18th 2014
"Texas' air monitoring system is so flawed that the state knows almost nothing about the extent of the pollution in the Eagle Ford. Only five permanent air monitors are installed in the 50,000-sq.km. region, and all are at the fringes of the shale play, far from the heavy drilling areas where emissions are highest."
"The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which regulates most air emissions, doesn't even know some of these facilities exist."
"Companies that break the law are rarely fined. Of the 284 oil and gas industry-related complaints filed with the TCEQ by Eagle Ford residents between Jan. 1, 2010, and Nov. 19, 2013, only two resulted in fines despite 164 documented violations."
Can we be sure that won't happen in South Africa?....[Ian]
|Divest from Fossil Fuel, Invest in Renewables|
From: Mary Robinson Posted: February 17th 2014
"The reality of climate change, of which Britons have had all too much experience recently, may be the catalyst for even more ambitious action."
"We already have the scientific knowledge available to us. Among members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations climate panel, there is a 97% consensus that humans are causing global warming. They know that the majority of the world's fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground."
"By avoiding investment in high-carbon assets that become obsolete, and by prioritising sustainable alternatives, we build capacity and resilience, particularly for more vulnerable people – while lowering carbon emissions."
Infrared image of a methane leak - invisible to the naked eye
|Shale Gas no better than Coal|
From: New York Times Posted: February 14th 2014
A new study by Stanford, MIT and NREL finds that converting diesel trucks to natural gas may worsen their greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions, shale gas is only marginally better than coal for electricity generation and the US EPA need to increase their estimates of methane emission from natural gas production by 50%.
The study used a 100 year time scale that results in methane being 30 times worse than CO2 as a GHG. But why use 100 years? The figure rises to 86 times worse if you compare them over 20 years. The lifetime of gas and coal plants is usually thought of as around 50 years, so a methane/CO2 factor should be more like 50. That makes shale gas much worse than coal in GHG terms.
The South African government committed to halting shale gas development if the science showed it to cause environmental damage. Here then is another piece of the jigsaw that says we should leave it in the ground.
|Obama: ‘If Congress Won’t Act Soon To Protect Future Generations, I Will’|
From: Joe Romm Posted: February 13th 2013
"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and more intense."
"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late."
"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
TEDX study reveals more detail about the dangers of gas drilling
From Ian Perrin Posted: 14th November 2012
"The study shows that air sampling near natural gas operations reveals numerous chemicals in the air, many associated with natural gas operations. Some of the highest concentrations in the study were from methane, ethane, propane, and other alkanes that occur as a result of natural gas operations"
"Although concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in this study appear low, they may have clinical significance."
We thank them sincerely on behalf of all South Africans for the effort they are making to understand the effects of drilling and fracking for natural gas that will result in better protection for our workers and communities alike. [Ian]
|Greenhouse Gas Theory explained|
From Ian Perrin Posted: 24th October 2012
You might have gained the impression climate change caused by rising amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere is a contentious theory added only recently to our scientific understanding.
Not so – we can trace the basis for it all the way back to Isaac Newton's work in the early 1670's and the first, generally accepted theory around 1859, more than 150 years ago."
Here's our plain English version of the history of its development and some detail on the scientists involved.
IEA warns time is running out to prevent catastrophic climate change
From: Business Green Posted: 25th May 2012
The IEA published a report showing CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion hit 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011, just 1Gt below the threshold that scientists say could give the world a 50% chance of preventing a 2°C global temperature rise.
Large numbers of climate scientists are concerned that temperature increases of above 2°C could trigger runaway climate change whereby natural carbon sinks such as permafrost and the Amazon Rainforest start to release greenhouse gas emission.
Those scientists are also concerned that the 2°C limit, suggested in the 2007 IPCC AR4 report, is now out of date and should be set at 1.5°C. The surprising speeds of Arctic ice reduction and methane increase underpin that conclusion. The most recent science about the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is concerning. [Ian]
We Must Heed James Hansen
From: Joe Romm & Michael Mann Posted: 9th August 2012
"During the hot, dry summer of 1988, Hansen announced that 'it is time to stop waffling…. The evidence is pretty strong that the [human-amplified] greenhouse effect is here.'" Much criticism followed.
"Hansen, it turns out, was right, and the critics were wrong. Rather than being reckless, as some of his critics charged, his announcement to the world proved to be prescient – and his critics were proven overly cautious."
"Given the prescience of Hansen’s science, we would be unwise to ignore his latest, more dire warning."
"The time for debate about the reality of human-caused climate change has now passed. We can have a good faith debate about how to deal with the problem – how to reduce future climate change and adapt to what is already upon us to reduce the risks that climate change poses to society. But we can no longer simply bury our heads in the sand."
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