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Tar sands investor BP says their projected future of unlimited carbon pollution “is a wake-up call, not something any of us would like to see happening.”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 21-01-2011

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Guest blogger Andy Rowell of Oil Change International, in a WonkRoom cross-post.

We are on the path to climate chaos, Big Oil has admitted. Both BP and Exxon have conceded that progress on climate change is totally insufficient to stabilize CO2 emissions. Both oil companies have just published their Energy Outlooks, and the outlook looks grim.

In a bleak prognosis for success on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, BP admits in its new Energy Outlook 2030 report, which was published yesterday, that global CO2 emissions from energy will grow an average of 1.2 percent a year through 2030. In total, BP’s chief economist Christof Ruehl predicts “to the best of our knowledge,” CO2 emissions will rise by 27 percent over the next two decades, meaning an increase of about 33bn tons. All this does not bode well for climate change, with even Bob Dudley calling the scenarios a “wake-up call“:

I need to emphasize that this is a projection, not a proposition. It is our dispassionate view of what we believe is most likely to happen on the basis of the evidence. For example, we are not as optimistic as others about progress in reducing carbon emissions. But that doesn’t mean we oppose such progress. As you probably know, BP has a 15 year record of calling for more action from governments, including the wide application of a carbon price. Our base case assumes that countries continue to make some progress on addressing climate change, based on the current and expected level of political commitment. But overall, for me personally, it is a wake-up call, not something any of us would like to see happening.

BP’s estimate is just higher than ExxonMobil, which believes that CO2 emissions will increase by 25 percent in 20 years, which, according to John Vidal, writing in The Guardian, in effect dismisses “hopes that runaway climate change can be arrested and massive loss of life prevented.”

These projections by BP and Exxon scientists are even gloomier the projections of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which projectst that energy-related CO2 emissions will “grow by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035.” Exxon argues that oil will still be king in 2030:

In 2030, fossil fuels remain the predominant energy source, accounting for nearly 80 percent of demand. Oil still leads, but natural gas moves into second place on very strong growth of 1.8% a year on average, particularly because of its position as a favored fuel for power generation. Other energy types – particularly nuclear, wind, solar and biofuels – will grow sharply, albeit from a smaller base. Nuclear and renewable fuels will see strong growth, particularly in the power-generation sector. By 2030, about 40 percent of the world’s electricity will be generated by nuclear and renewable fuels.

BP too has demand for fossil fuels rising: BP’s “base case” — or most likely projection — points to primary energy use growing by nearly 40 percent over the next twenty years, with 93% of the growth coming from non-OECD countries. The BP report argues that world energy growth over the next twenty years is expected to be dominated by emerging economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil. Natural gas is also expected to be the fastest growing fossil fuel, with coal and oil losing market share as fossil fuels as a whole experience a slow decline in growth, falling from 83 percent to 64 percent. Coal will increase by 1.2 percent per year and by 2030 it is likely to provide virtually as much energy as oil, excluding biofuels.

There is some good news that energy diversification will continue. Between 2010 to 2030 the contribution to energy growth of renewables (solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels) is seen to increase from 5 to 18 percent.

What oil there is left is predominantly under OPEC control. OPEC’s share of global oil production is set to increase to 46%, a position not seen since 1977, the decade that saw the cartel preside over a series of oil shocks and shortages. In fact, 75 percent of all growth in oil reserves over the next two decades is expected to come from OPEC nations, which include Kuwait, Iran, Angola, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Nigeria.

Andy Rowell writes for Oil Change International’s Price of Oil.

JR:  Of course as much as BP claims it would not like to see continued rapid growth in carbon pollution, the UK’s Independent reported last year, “Oil giant BP today signalled it would press on with a controversial Canadian tar sands project despite facing a showdown with environmental campaigners and shareholders.”

The tar sands are among the most carbon-intensive of replacements for conventional petroleum (see “Tar sands — Still dirty after all these years“):


X-axis is the range of potential resource in billions of barrels. Y-axis is grams of Carbon per MegaJoule of final fuel.

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NewsBusted: “Is Glenn Beck’s Chalkboard a Murderer?”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 19-01-2011

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Big Journalism

Rockefeller: Preventing action on global warming “is too important for us to delay any further” – But WV Senator withdraws bill to block EPA after GOP pulls its support “so that they can gain some political advantage trying to take over this issue in 2011.”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 18-12-2010

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Climate peacock Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) threatened to tie up the funding of the government with his coal-powered campaign to kill climate action before the end of the year.  But the Republicans killed the effort so that they could take the lead on it in 2011!
First, Brad Johnson explains what Rockefeller tried to […]
Climate Progress

“Rich Bully” Lee Bollinger “is Getting His Way”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 17-12-2010

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(Randy Barnett) The takings clause reads “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” When Kelo v. City of New London upheld the power of takings for economic development, many used the political backlash to that decision as a vindication of “judicial restraint.” See, we were told, this sort of dispute […]
The Volokh Conspiracy

Another Republican Dodges The “Is Sarah Palin Qualified?” Question

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 30-11-2010

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From today’s Morning Joe, retiring Arizona Congressman John Shadegg spends several minutes dodging the question of whether or not Sarah Palin is qualified to be President:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It’s really somewhat pathetic to see the extent to which experienced Republicans are afraid of a half-term Governor turned reality show star.

Outside the Beltway

AGU Climate Q&A Service won’t answer this Q: “Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?” – Is that prudent — or lame?

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-11-2010

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As I reported, two science messaging efforts were launched Monday, amid much misreporting.

One of those efforts, by the American Geophysical Union, has bent over backwards to avoid appearing to have any connection whatsoever to policy.  The question is whether they have bent so far they have broken in two.

Climate scientist and AGU President Michael J. McPhaden, said “AGU is a scientific society, not an advocacy organization” — a distinction that was lost on many, like MJ’s Kate Sheppard:

I’m troubled by the idea that AGU set up in this press release by creating a delineation between “a scientific society” and “an advocacy organization.” This statement makes it appear that any effort to fight skeptics on climate science would by nature be “advocacy” work, and that a scientific group, by extension, should not then participate in it.

This only serves to affirm the talking point of climate change deniers that scientists who take the time to explain the science and refute lies and misinformation are engaging in “activism.” The repetition of this false association by such an esteemed scientific group is problematic.

The one thing we can be certain about are the grim consequences humanity faces if we take no serious action to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.  That means another thing we can certain about is that future generations will first be baffled and then increasingly bitter that the scientific community did not view themselves as ‘advocates’ for action.

Take sea level rise.  Within a year of the IPCC, even a major report signed off on by the Bush administration itself conceded that the IPCC numbers were simply too out of date to be quoted anymore (see US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections).

Multiple studies from the past 3 years have convinced the leading scientists in this field (at least the more than dozen I’ve talked to), virtually all of whom are members of the AGU, that we face one meter of sea level rise this century on our current emissions path — see Report from AGU meeting: One meter sea level rise by 2100 “very likely” even if warming stops? And that would followed by SLR of 6 to 12 inches a decade: PNAS Study:  Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100 and links below.

Clearly, the nation isn’t prepared for business as usual SLR, let alone the plausible worst-case which is what much if not most planning is based on.  But the AGU apparently will have a “no comment” policy on that.

The AGU has explained what media questions it will and won’t answer in a section in a post titled, “Science vs. Non-science Questions,” which, I’m afraid, raises more questions than it answers (emphasis in original):

The goal of this AGU-sponsored project is to make the science underpinning the Copenhagen negotiations accessible to journalists. To that end, the email exchange forum is designed to answer questions about the current state of scientific knowledge, with a special emphasis on the physical sciences that relate to climate change. Non-science questions such as those relating to policy, ethics, or economics will be returned to sender for refinement. Here are examples of the types of questions that are out of our scope, along with explanations and suggested refinements:

How much will it cost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Why not answered: The cost of greenhouse gas emission reductions is a complex and open question dependent on technology, policy, and economics.
Related (acceptable) question: What are the sources of greenhouse gas emissions?

Sample: What are the best ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions?
Why not answered: Any ranking of abatement options depends on a number of judgments that include economics, ethics, and politics (The word “best” is what makes this question inappropriate)
Refinement: By how much might some proposed activity reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

Sample: Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?
Why not answered: Judgments of adequacy involve tradeoffs in risk and in policy.
Refinement: What amount of sea level rise might occur this century?

Sample: Is there too much uncertainty in climate models to use them for planning purposes?
Why not answered: We will not evaluate uncertainty or policy processes.  We can, however, describe the level of uncertainty and explain its sources. The words “too much”  and “for planning purposes” make this question inappropriate.
Refinement: What are the main sources of uncertainty in climate models?

First, while I think it is useful to have a way of linking climate scientists to journalists, I tend to think the AGU’s approach is going to be fairly offputting to journalists who typically don’t want to waste a lot of time getting the answers to their questions.

Second, the service that would be most useful to journalists is one that finds the right person to answer all such questions, not one that refuses to answer any interesting question or that demands the question be changed.  If the AGU won’t do that, my guess is they will lose out to some other group that will.

I hope the Climate Rapid Response Team put together by John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota and others will be smart enough to be a “one-stop-shop” for journalists and know whom to direct journalist to the answer questions that aren’t purely climate science.

Third, the larger point is that it is very hard to draw a sharp line between “science questions” and others.  I think this is a bizarre judgment by AGU:

Sample: Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?
Why not answered: Judgments of adequacy involve tradeoffs in risk and in policy.
Refinement: What amount of sea level rise might occur this century?

If a journalist gets an answer to the refined question then the obvious follow-up is whether we are prepared.

It is transparently obvious that, based on the latest science, current US infrastructure is wholly inadequate.  If the AGU is going to forbid its Q&A team from answering such questions, then it is applying a form of political correctness that makes little sense.

For the record, I think the answer to the refined question is something like, “The latest science suggests sea levels will rise 3 to 6 feet this century.  The two biggest uncertainties are 1) the degree to which dynamic ice thinning of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet occurs and 2) the level of emissions.   We don’t have a full picture of dynamic ice disintegration in the great ice sheets, and so the IPCC essentially chose to ignore it in their projections.  But so far, ice appears to be melting faster than our models had suggested in both Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet.  Sea level rise in 2100 could be lower than that range, but on our current emissions path, multiple studies sugggest we are risking the higher end of that estimate.”  Then I’d direct them to a few recent studies.

Any AGU scientist who can’t easily answer “Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?” probably shouldn’t be talking to the media.

If you can find an AGU scientist who doesn’t think we are headed to sea level rise of around one meter (or higher) if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, please have them call or email me.  I’d be exceedingly interested in hearing their thinking and learning what the scientific basis is for that view.

Here’s some of the recent science:

Climate Progress

The Today Show profiles Governor Christie: “Is he ‘Born to Run’?”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 20-10-2010

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This is a positive profile of republican Governor Chris Christie, which is rare by Today Show standards. This gets into more about who the governor is, his family, and profiles his popularity among people of all political persuasions (with the exception of many union members). They even interview democrat Newark Mayor Cory Booker on why he has such a good relationship with the governor.

So is the governor ready to run for president?

Liberty Pundits Blog