Saturday, August 15, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
- NYT: An Upbeat Fed Views Recession as Near an End
- Game changer 7: Tim Wirth and John Podesta on Natural Gas, A Bridge Fuel for the 21st Century
- British coal industry flack pushes geo-engineering "ploy" to give politicians "viable reason to do nothing" about global warming. Is that why Lomborg supports such a smoke-and-mirrors approach?
- Tim Johnson (D-SD) supports climate and clean energy bill
- NAM makes case for stronger climate bill, forecasts 20 million new jobs, $9 trillion GDP growth by 2030 under American Clean Energy And Security Act
- Portland Maine talk, August 18th
Posted: 13 Aug 2009 07:10 AM PDT
Certainly if Obama's economic policies were not working, it would be all that opponents of climate and clean energy legislation would be talking about it. But it would appear those policies — and the Feds — are, as the NYT reports in its lead story:
Again, it may not be fair, but the likelihood of climate legislation passing the Senate depends critically on such seemingly unrelated matters as whether the Senate can pass health care reform and what the state of the economy in November or January or whenever they vote on bill (see "Unemployment rate drops for first time in 15 months").
I'll discuss messaging the recovery when it is further along in the fall.
Posted: 13 Aug 2009 06:04 AM PDT
Previous posts in this series (see links below) have focused on how the unconventional natural gas opportunity changes the game for low-cost climate action. This post, by former Senator Tim Wirth and CAP CEO John Podesta, first published here, offers a variety of proposals for tapping this new resource in an environmentally responsible manner.
Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel—it produces less than half as much carbon pollution as coal. Recent technology advancements make affordable the development of unconventional natural gas resources. This creates an unprecedented opportunity to use gas as a bridge fuel to a 21st-century energy economy that relies on efficiency, renewable sources, and low-carbon fossil fuels such as natural gas.
Despite the potential energy, economic, and security benefits of natural gas, the recently House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, does not include enough opportunities to expand its use. The Center for American Progress and the Energy Future Coalition therefore propose a number of policies that would increase the use of natural gas and low-carbon energy sources while providing additional protection for our climate and communities.
Clean natural gas development
Download the full memo (pdf)
Posted: 12 Aug 2009 07:00 PM PDT
Everybody from global warming delayer Bjorn Lomborg to the country's worst science writer seems to be embracing geo-engineering schemes these days. Geoengineering is "the intentional large scale manipulation of the global environment" to counteract the effects of global warming — such as injecting massive amounts of soot or mirrors into the air.
But why would you choose an experimental combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy that might make you sicker if your doctors told you diet and exercise — albeit serious diet and excercise — would definitely work (see "Geo-engineering remains a bad idea" and "Geo-Engineering is NOT the Answer")?
Well, desperation drives some people to contemplate extreme things, and climate scientists are increasingly desperate to prevent the catastrophe we face on our current path of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions (see "Desperate times, desperate scientists").
But why do people who don't believe anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real or would be catastrophic push it? Richard S. Courtney, British coal industry flack (see bio here), is one such denier who spreads disinformation on various blogs (including this one today). As BigCityLib informs us, Courtney recently made this remarkable admission:
Fool me once….
(See also "Geoengineering and the New Climate Denialism.")
Geo-engineering remains a dubious set of schemes — literally smoke and mirrors. Science advisor John Holdren told me in April that he stands by his long-standing critique:
Now uber-delay Bjorn Lomborg is embracing geo-engineering — and NYT's John Tierney is flacking that work (here). What a surprise!
RealClimate just published an outstanding response, "A biased economic analysis of geoengineering" by Prof. Alan Robock. Since Robock gave the best talk I ever heard on geo-engineering (here), and since this post is an excellent primer with numerous links, I am reprinting it below (with his permission):
Posted: 12 Aug 2009 05:20 PM PDT
Okay, Senator Johnson (D-SD) may have had a Probability of a Yes Vote of 87% to Nate Silver (see "Epic Battle 3: Who are the swing Senators?"). But others, like E&E News (subs. req'd), had him as a straight fence sitter with the likes of John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Lugar (R-IN).
So it is a reasonably big deal for him to come out now and endorse a strong climate and clean energy bill. Here is his full piece, "Climate Change Bill Could Bring Jobs, Prosperity and Clean Air":
Posted: 12 Aug 2009 03:15 PM PDT
A "new" study by the National Asssociation of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation rehashes their analysis of the Lieberman-Warner Climate bill (see "Wrong Again 2: Delayers cry wolf with same old Garbage In, Garbage Out economic model"). And both are just a rehashing of the analyses of the Clean Air Act sulfur trading program that were proven wrong by reality, which is to say by the ingenuity and technology of entrepreneurs.
But what is fascinating about the GIGO analysis by NAM/ACCCF is that even though they ignored the key cost-containment provisions in the climate bill — including virtually all of the international offsets and the strategic reserve — they still found that 20 million new jobs will be created in the United States by 2030 and GDP will be some $9 trillion higher, as Brad Johnson shows in the post below first published by Wonk Room.
So NAM has ironically made a solid case for strengthening the bill, for limiting the international offsets and setting a high ceiling price — since the climate bill manages to achieve these outcomes even with NAM's absurdly high price estimate for carbon allowances in 2020 of up to $60. Even EIA, which uses a similar economic model as NAM/ACCF (but less biased assumptions, although EIA also ignored the strategic reserve), found a permit price in 2020 of $32 (see here), which was about double what EPA and I project and 50% higher than CBO's projection.
A new analysis of the economic impact of clean energy legislation forecasts powerful job and economic growth through 2030. The analysis of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), commissioned by the right-wing National Association of Manufacturers and the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF), finds that 20 million new jobs will be created in the United States by 2030, even under high-cost assumptions:
Similarly, NAM found the gross domestic product of the United States would increase by $9 trillion by 2030 from current levels. To be more precise, the analysis estimates $9.1 trillion in growth under its low-cost scenario, and $8.9 trillion under its high-cost scenario, versus $9.5 trillion in growth under its baseline scenario.
This analysis, conducted by the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), uses the same economic model as the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), but with "input assumptions provided by ACCF/NAM":
These "input assumptions" for the deployment of the ACES carbon cap-and-trade market include:
NAM also made unusually pessimistic assumptions for the deployment of biomass electricity generation and the use of banking provisions by polluting corporations. These assumptions lead to a carbon allowance price of $123 to $159 per ton of carbon dioxide in 2030. This price is more than twice as expensive as the estimates of the EIA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Congressional Budget Office.
Essentially, NAM is assuming that American companies will be unable to deploy clean energy and energy efficiency technologies in a timely fashion. It's odd that the National Association of Manufacturers is so gloomy about its members' ability to build the clean energy economy. Even so, its analysis finds vibrant economic growth while global warming pollution is kept under control.
Update At Get Energy Smart Now, A. Siegel notes:
Update The Media Matters Action Network asks about SAIC: "Would A 'Policy-Neutral' Organization Spend $20 Million On Lobbyists?"
Posted: 12 Aug 2009 12:35 PM PDT
I will be speaking Tuesday, August 18 at the The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, 350 Commercial Street, Portland. Reception starts at 6 pm, talk at 7 pm.
Here is the full event release from the sponsor organization, the The Natural Resources Council of Maine (with RSVP info):
|You are subscribed to email updates from Climate Progress |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|
Start's just barely keeping his head above water. Not complaining, but rather aching that he can't do more to help.
But if I were, this would be an indictment of me; it would
be a clear indication I was staying on the sidelines and not pushing myself to the absolute
limits for my "family," Humanity, as is called for from all of us at such a pivotal, desperate time...
I would not be Waging Love with all of my might. But I am making the attempt. "Soldiers" that
dearly love their comrades, when in the midst of battle, are likely to be a bit,
unintentionally "rough;" or they are not responding appropriately to the REAL emergency.
Sorry, in advance, or in arrears, as the case may be. Distance yourself from me,
or drop me altogether when you must.
I need 10,000 of me right now to achieve what needs to be achieved!!!!!!!!!!! At least. Soon, it will be too late.
This is such a crucial time for Humanity. Such crucial, ultimate, for-all-time
decisions on the direction of America and therefore the world ARE BEING DECIDED, NOW
- Whether we completely crucify President Obama or fight alongside him, shield him, and win; unlike
how we failed in the opportunity presented by JFK, RFK, King, Gandhi, Romero, Jesus....
- Whether we once and for all cede America to the Corporations forever or, using Healthcare
as a pivot issue, rise up and take America back from their bloody grasp.
- Whether we win Climate Change legislation BEFORE COPENHAGEN IN DEC (7th)
and: 1. literally begin saving Humanity from destruction; and 2. Thereby avoid
ceding domination of the renewable energy industry to China, if it is not already
too late for that.
- Whether we suffer the fate of 1920's Germans and through our cowardice, timidity,
delusion, indecision... allow the Brown Shirt Mob to take utter and final control
of this country, dooming the world to horrors never seen before.
maintain the 28 Year Peace Vigil, but of course that constrains what else I can do. So,
thanks to the blessing of a laptop and wifi, and a place to sleep
(thanks Angel Ellen) I spend all waking hours per day, when not speaking with folks at the vigil,
combing the country's newspapers - and where I think it might help, I post comments -
these are the pseudo "town hall" meetings I can "reach," and speak up within! And of course I research, comb hundreds
of articles on Climate Change, and post, and blog, and facebook, and youtube.... The youtube.com/StartLoving1 site
is up to 545 subscribers and receives up to several thousand viewings per day, and many comments.
But, this is wwwaaayyyyy tooooooooooooooo inadequate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I need to:
- Be AT these town meetings on the American-Soul-determining Healthcare fight.
- Attending, hosting, supporting, executing, funding every action I conceivably could
at http://barackobama.com and moveon.org - two EXCELLENT organizations today.
- Be Reading and Mastering "The Family" to grasp, and formulate a reaction to the
deeply Demonic threat these folks constitute. [MUST SEE DN! segment yesterday]
- Be Reading and Mastering Chip Bartlet's work about the Right Wing in America
that is SOOOO CLOSE to re-emerging and finishing the destruction reeked on
this land these last 40 years. [MUST SEE DN! segment today]
- Be down in West Virginia getting arrested with the heroic activists standing against
be a clear indication I was staying on the sidelines and not pushing myself to the absolute
limits for my "family," Humanity, as is called for from all of us at such a pivotal, desperate time
Waging Love with all of my might.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
- Energy and Global Warming News for August 12th: Lobby groups fund angry protests to oppose climate bill; Coal use to drop 7.9% in 2009 — EIA
- Building Commissioning: The Stealth Energy Efficiency Strategy
- The tragic hubris of the climate action delayers
- Zogby: 71% of likely voters support House climate bill
Posted: 12 Aug 2009 08:48 AM PDT
Posted: 12 Aug 2009 06:34 AM PDT
The following post is written Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whom I have known for almost two decades. He recently authored a cost-benefit analysis of energy efficiency measures entitled Building Commissioning: A Golden Opportunity for Reducing Energy Costs and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions. In the figure below, the overlaid orange "step" is derived from the analysis in the new LBNL report and superimposed for reference over McKinsey's 2007 green carbon "abatement curve." The full abatement curve indicates the potential emissions savings potential for a set of measures, ranked by the annualized net cost per ton of emissions reductions (y-axis), i.e., the cost of commissioning minus the value of the resulting energy savings over the measure life. The horizontal width of each step is the potential emissions reduction attributed to each measure.
One particularly potent form of energy efficiency is an emerging practice known as building commissioning. Although commissioning has earned increased respect in recent years it remains an enigmatic practice whose visibility severely lags its potential. Fortunately, a massive database on commissioning experience in the U.S. provides a potent antidote to those who poo-poo the notion that major greenhouse-gas reductions can be had at negative cost.
The aim of commissioning new buildings is to ensure that they deliver, if not exceed, the performance and energy savings promised by their design. When applied to existing buildings, commissioning identifies the almost inevitable "drift" from where things should be and puts the building back on course, often making it perform even better than the original designers intended. (Why do we tune up our cars but not our far more complex buildings?) In both contexts, commissioning is a systematic, forensic approach to quality assurance, rather than a technology per se – CSI for efficiency, if you will. Quality assurance is an essential element of any serious technological endeavor. Energy efficiency is not alone in this regard, and commissioning offers a key solution. (Consider how even more poorly electric power plants would perform if there was no QA in their construction and operation.)
Specific "deficiencies" identified and corrected through the commissioning process include problems like simultaneous heating and cooling (yes, believe it or not, this is common), mis-calibrated or otherwise malfunctioning energy management controls and sensors, defeated efficiency features (e.g., variable speed drives locked at full speed), leaky air-distribution systems, and oversized equipment. Visit our Hall of Shame for more examples. These kinds of problems collectively waste several tens of billions of dollars in energy each year, while compromising occupant comfort, health, and safety. Yes, they should be caught during the original design or corrected by routine operations and maintenance. They rarely are.
Energy-wasting deficiencies are almost always invisible to the casual observer, and unfortunately also to building designers, operators, and owners. Commissioning is not a widgit or "retrofit"; it is an integrated quality-assurance practice. It can reduce the carbon footprint of unremarkable buildings, or ensure the success of ones deliberately designed to be efficient.
Many regard uncertainties about cost and cost-effectiveness as one of the key barriers to the growth of the commissioning industry.
Back in 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy asked my team at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to build a national database of commissioning experience. Last month, we released a major update —sponsored by the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. We gathered data on 643 buildings, representing 99 million square feet of floor space across 26 states. This meta-analysis of real projects has grown to be the world's largest database of commissioning cost-benefit case studies.
The results are compelling. The median normalized cost to deliver commissioning was $0.30/ft2 for existing buildings and $1.16/ft2 for new construction (or 0.4% of the overall construction cost). Over 10,000 specific deficiencies were identified across the half of our sample for which data were available. Correcting these problems resulted in 16% median whole-building energy savings in existing buildings and 13% in new construction, with payback times of 1.1 years and 4.2 years, respectively. Median benefit-cost ratios of 4.5 and 1.1, and cash-on-cash returns (a common statistic used in the real estate industry) of 91% and 23% were attained. High-tech buildings such as laboratories were particularly cost-effective, and saved higher amounts of energy due to their energy-intensiveness. Projects with a comprehensive approach to commissioning attained nearly twice the overall median level of savings and five-times the savings of the least-thorough projects.
Thanks to energy savings that handily eclipse the cost of the commissioning process, associated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions come at decidedly "negative" cost. Yes, negative costs. In fact, the median cost of conserved carbon is negative— -$110 per tonne for existing buildings and -$25/tonne for new construction. This compares quite well with market prices for carbon trading and offsets in the +$10 to +$30/tonne range.
Further enhancing the value proposition of commissioning, its non-energy benefits surpass those of most other energy-management practices. Significant first-cost savings routinely offset at least a portion of commissioning costs—fully in some cases. When accounting for these benefits, the net median commissioning cost was reduced by 49% on average, while in many cases the non-energy benefits fully exceeded the direct value of the energy savings. An example of this, when applied to new construction, is the capital cost savings resulting from "right-sizing" heating and cooling equipment. Commissioning can also avert premature equipment failures, avoid construction-defects litigation, improve worker comfort, mitigate indoor air quality problems, and increase the competence of in-house staff, to name just some of the other non-energy benefits. Indeed, non-energy benefits are often a more important driver in end user's initial motivation to perform commissioning.
Commissioning is arguably the single-most cost-effective strategy for reducing energy, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings today. Commissioning maximizes the quality and persistence of savings achieved through other energy-saving technologies and practices. The process ensures that building owners get what they pay for when constructing or retrofitting buildings, provides risk-management and "insurance" for policymakers and program managers enabling their initiatives to actually meet targets, and detects and corrects problems that would eventually surface as far more costly maintenance or safety issues. As such, commissioning is more than "just another pretty energy-saving measure." It is a risk-management strategy that should be integral to any systematic effort to garner and maintain energy savings or emissions reductions.
Applying our median whole-building energy-savings value (certainly far short of best practices) to the U.S. non-residential building stock corresponds to an annual energy-savings potential of $30 billion by the year 2030, which in turn yields greenhouse gas emissions reductions of about 340 megatons of CO2 each year. How do we capture this potential?
The commissioning field is evolving rapidly. The delivery of services must be scaled up radically. The fledgling existing-buildings commissioning industry has reached a size of about $200 million per year in the United States. Based on a goal of treating each U.S. building every five years, the potential size is about $4 billion per year in commissioning services, or 20-times the current number. To achieve the goal of keeping the U.S. building stock commissioned would require an increase in the workforce from about 1,500 to 25,000 full-time-equivalent workers, a realistic number when viewed in the context of the existing workforce of related trades (which includes far more people).
The energy policy community, however, is behind the curve in utilizing commissioning. Few building codes or utility incentive programs include it, and it is omitted or poorly characterized as a strategy in most energy-efficiency potentials studies. There are important trail-blazers, notably the California Commissioning Collaborative, which brings together regulators, utilities, practitioners, and other stakeholders with a collective vision of defining and instituting best practices.
"Commissioning America" in a decade is an ambitious goal, but "do-able" and consistent with this country's aspirations to simultaneously address pressing energy and environmental issues while creating jobs and stimulating economic activity.
Related Post: Energy efficiency is THE most important climate solution.
Posted: 11 Aug 2009 05:50 PM PDT
Let's assume we keep listening to the siren song of the deniers and the climate action delayers who insist human-caused global warming is not a dire problem requiring deep reductions in greenhouse gases starting as soon as possible. So we ruin our livable climate for our children and grandchildren and countless generations after that.
When they are done cursing our name, our descendents will try to understand how "a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself," as Elizabeth Kolbert put it. They'll have a long time to do this since, as a major NOAA-led study concluded this year, climate change is "largely irreversible for 1000 years," with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe — irreversible, that is, if we don't stop it in the first place.
The typical reasons why people and societies have historically made such tragically catastrophic blunders don't apply to a great many opinion makers today. Sure some are malicious or ignorant, and some, like David Broder, sultan of the status quo, are fatally uninformed about global warming.
But how you explain people who have a fair amount of familiarity with the issue and actually write regularly on the subject — but just get it so wrong again and again? Many of these are people I've called the climate action delayers (CADs) — the folks who claim to believe in the science of global warming but obviously don't, the folks who substitute their own opinion for an understanding of the actual science.
Their tragic flaw is hubris, which, as Wikipedia notes is:
A perfect example of modern-day hubris can be seen in the work of one Thomas Fuller, a delayer who writes as an "environmental policy examiner" for the examiner.com named. He has his own label, as he wrote August 1:
That, of course, doesn't make him a lukewarmer. It just makes him someone who doesn't understand or care about what science actually says. On our current emissions path, we're going to double CO2 concentrations not "during the course of the century" but almost certainly halfway through it — and we're going to warm more than 4°C by century's end:
It is hubris to blithely assert that one's beliefs supersede the work of thousands of scientists, including hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers on which we base our current understanding of the danger posed by unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases.
But that isn't the most hubristic thing Fuller has written. On August 5, he wrote a column, "The best of times for global warming skeptics":
Now that sentence would be quite accurate if we replaced "boster" with, say, "fatally undermine," but as written it might as well be a manifesto for the deniers themselves. Scratch climate action delayer, and you usually get a climate science denier.
Again, it is hubris, plain and simple, to utterly ignore the information and discoveries that have been occurring almost every day for several years now, which make clear global warming is far more dire than we thought just a short time ago and that human emissions of CO2 are the predominant cause of recent warming (and obviously will become the overwhelming cause of climate change as we continue to pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere). You can find summaries of the peer-reviewed literature and observations and discoveries in the 2007 IPCC report — which every member government of the IPCC signed off on word-for-word — and in the recent NOAA-led 13-agency report on US climate impacts (see "Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year — and that isn't the worst case, it's business as usual!"). You can also find many of the best recent studies here.
Fuller's post claims "our obsession with CO2 has caused us to overlook the other things humans do to affect climate on this planet, such as deforestation…." Yes, to Fuller, it's those foolish, arrogant, hubristic climate scientists who are so obsessed with CO2 that they totally overlook deforestation — except of course for their urgent warnings to stop said deforestation because as they have told us repeatedly it is responsible for some 20% or more of all human emissions of CO2. And except for the current desperate efforts by the overwhelming majority of nations in the world to develop a workable strategy to stop deforestation.
I hadn't heard about this guy at all until I got pinged by Google for his latest piece, which attacks me with this astounding statement:
How can something I say I want to do in the future [for maybe 1 or 2 of my 4 to 6 posts a day] "show" anything already — especially to a CAD like Fuller who spends at most 30 minutes on every single one of his once-every-day-or-two opinion pieces?
It just goes to show you that even the most innocuous statement I write can be misrepresented by the CADs. In fact, as readers know, what I wrote was:
Fact-free Fuller, it won't surprise you, is an acolyte of Roger Pielke, Jr. and The Breakthrough Institute, which is an an organization that is dedicating all of its resources to killing any chance of either a national or international effort to avert catastrophic global warming and to spreading disinformation about Obama, Gore, Congressional Democrats, and the environmental movement.
Then again, Fuller writes of "the alarmist website Real Climate." I mean, if you think Real Climate is an alarmist website, then you really aren't paying any attention whatsoever to what they or anyone else is actually writing on climate science.
I think it pure hubris — and utterly immoral — to regularly write on climate science and policy without having interviewed and/or seen the talks of a few dozen of the leading climate scientists in the world and without having read at least a hundred major climate studies in the past decade.
Since global warming isn't a 3-hour Greek tragedy, this modern day hubris won't result in fatal retribution for the CADs, only for their descendants and ours. The best we can do today is hold their hubris out for all to see. Small comfort that will be for those living through Hell and High Water.
Posted: 11 Aug 2009 01:01 PM PDT
Zogby read 1005 voters the following statement about the American Clean Energy and Security Act:
This is similar to pretty much every recent poll on the subject:
Zogby even asked voters "Which Statement Best Reflects Your Opinion About What Action the U.S. Senate Should Take?" with one full of standard conservative disinformation:
The result: "A majority (54%) believe the Senate should now take action, with two-fifths (41%) preferring that the Senate wait. "
And this is also similar to recent polling: (see"Americans support greenhouse gas regulation even if it could 'substantially' raise energy prices").
As Zogby's website notes:
Which Statement Best Reflects Your Opinion About What Action the U.S. Senate Should Take?
|You are subscribed to email updates from Climate Progress |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|