Tuesday 29 December 2020

How The Fracking Revolution Is Killing the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry (excerpt): DeSmog

"Competition from Renewables

At the same time, cheap renewable energy is out-competing gas.

A new report released in December by industry analysts Wood MacKenzie predicts that “More than 75% of new liquefied natural gas global supply could be at risk due to competition from renewable energy.”

In December, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted that the share of electricity in the U.S. produced by natural gas would decline “in response to a forecast increase in the price of natural gas delivered to electricity generators.” The EIA predicts that the percentage of U.S. power generated from natural gas could fall from 39 percent in 2020 to 34 percent in 2021 due to a rise in prices. And the EIA predicts renewable energy, and a return to coal in some locations, will replace that market share.

This highlights a fundamental problem facing the gas industry. Current prices are too low for the industry to make money. But when prices rise to levels where the industry could make money, the gas is no longer economically competitive because renewable energy is cheaper right now.

As gas prices rise and renewable energy prices continue to fall, the U.S. gas industry is in a no-win situation.

A recent analysis by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), for instance, found that shale gas producers in the Appalachian region of the U.S. lost another $500 million in the third quarter of 2020.

The U.S. gas industry also is suffering due to the warmer winters the U.S. is experiencing — warmer weather due in part to the burning of fossil fuels and the methane released by the natural gas industry. Warmer weather depresses gas prices because there is less heating demand.

IEEFA, which has been tracking the industry’s decline, recently summed up the reality of what the “shale revolution” has done: “The shale revolution has turned the U.S. into the world’s most prolific gas producer. Yet in financial terms, the gas production boom has been an unmitigated financial bust.”

Its Not Easy to Pay Off Debt

Despite all of this, to this day, the U.S. oil and gas industry is still producing large amounts of oil and gas by fracking — and it continues to lose money doing it. The companies that are doing this have taken on large amounts of debt to make this happen."

By Justin Mikulka • Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 07:26 

 From: How The Fracking Revolution Is Killing the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry (excerpt): DeSmog

Related:  Big batteries are getting bigger and smarter, and doing things fossil fuels can’t do (excerpt): RenewEconomy

Friday 25 December 2020

Sea-level rise from climate change could exceed the high-end projections, scientists warn (excerpt): CBS News

Since the end of the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago,
  sea levels have risen dramatically,
sometimes at a very fast pace. John Englander

 "Historically speaking, simple math reveals that for every degree Fahrenheit the Earth warms, sea-level eventually rises by an astonishing 24 feet. There is, however, a sizable lag time between warming, melting and consequent sea-level rise. 

Considering that Earth has already warmed 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1800s, we know that substantial sea-level rise is already baked in, regardless of whether we stop global warming. Scientists just don't know exactly how long it will take to see the rise or how fast it will occur. But using proxy records, glaciologists can see that as we emerged from the last Ice Age, sea level rose at remarkable rates — as fast as 15 feet per century at times.

That said, the fact that there is a lot less ice on Earth today than there was 20,000 years ago means the amount of sea-level rise per degree would likely be less now, and the maximum pace may be tempered as well. But even a pace that's half the historical maximum would still be catastrophic to an Earth with billions of people who depend on stability. 

We must also remember that warming today, due to human-caused climate change, is happening faster than it has in at least 2,000 years and possibly over 100,000 years. So scientists just don't have a directly comparable situation to measure against — once again highlighting our uncertain future. 

While scientists and scientific periodicals tend to be conservative in their public projections of sea-level rise, scientists will often remark that they are concerned it may be much worse. When CBS News asked Englander what he thinks is a "realistic range" of sea-level rise by 2100, he said, "With the current global temperature level and rate of temperature increase I believe that we could get 5 to 10 feet before the end of this century."

While this is just one expert's opinion, if sea-level rise even comes close to those levels, the impacts would be truly dangerous and destabilizing, dramatically reshaping nations' coastlines and forcing hundreds of millions of people to abandon their homes. Englander says to reduce the potential impacts, it is better to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. 

"We need to begin planning and designing for that while there is time to adapt.""

Go to complete CBS story

Monday 14 December 2020

Is Climate-Related Financial Regulation Coming Under Biden? Wall Street Is Betting on It (excerpt): Inside Climate News

 "The president-elect has said he would require publicly traded companies to disclose emissions and financial risks associated with global warming.

The White House may not be preparing to transition to a Biden administration, but Wall Street is.

While President Trump and other Republican leaders continue to dispute the election results, the financial sector is moving ahead with plans to begin the transition to a carbon-free economy and acknowledge a new administration that’s eager to tackle the climate crisis.

Investors are increasingly putting their money into funds geared toward either excluding the fossil fuel industry entirely, or underweighting high-carbon companies in their mix. 

A growing number of major banks and other money managers have committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 and have pledged to disclose

exactly how their finances contribute to climate change, as well as which of their assets are at risk from its impacts. And last week, the U.S. Federal Reserve said for the first time that failing to address climate change would put the nation’s finances at risk and its economy at a global disadvantage.

For years, analysts have been saying that the global economy is shifting away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy, with or without the United States. Clean energy saw an expansion this year despite a global drop in energy demand because of the pandemic, the International Energy Agency said last week, and renewables are likely to expand nearly 50 percent by 2025.

Now, as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January, global finance leaders are again calling on the United States to provide some kind of federal guidance for companies in regard to climate change, especially as other parts of the world begin taking major regulatory action.

Last week, the United Kingdom announced that within five years, all major companies and financial institutions doing business in the country would be required to measure and disclose their climate risks and greenhouse gas emissions—a move met with wide support from the financial industry."

 Link to complete Inside Climate News story by Kristoffer Tigue

Big batteries are getting bigger and smarter, and doing things fossil fuels can’t do (excerpt): RenewEconomy



Saturday 5 December 2020

Green growth vs degrowth: are we missing the point? (excerpt): Open Democracy

Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. Public domain.
"It’s time to stop talking past each other and unite against the real enemies of environmental justice.

By Beth Stratford. Originally published at openDemocracy
4 December 2020 

The row about ecological limits to growth is back with a vengeance. On one side are those who are deeply sceptical about the idea of ‘infinite growth on a finite planet’. They argue that to be sure of offering a good life for all within planetary boundaries, we need to kick our addiction to consumption growth (in wealthy countries at least). These ‘green growth sceptics’ include those advocating for ‘degrowth’, ‘prosperity without growth’, ‘steady state economics’, ‘doughnut economics’ and ‘wellbeing economics’.

In the opposite corner are ‘green growth’ advocates who believe that the historical relationship between GDP and environmental impact can be not just weakened but effectively severed. For green growthers, the key to maintaining a habitable planet is decoupling — reducing the environmental impact associated with each pound or dollar of GDP. By deploying new technologies, and shifting the nature of our consumption, they argue we can do our bit for the environment while continuing to grow our economies, even in wealthy countries.

Green growth sceptics do not dispute the need for decoupling, but observe that the faster we grow the faster we have to decouple. Even a modest goal like 2% growth per year implies doubling the scale of consumption every 35 years. Unfortunately, we have never approached the rates of decoupling that would be necessary for rich countries to get back within their fair share of ecological space while maintaining that kind of exponential growth.

Green growth advocates tend to respond that the historical record shouldn’t be taken as a guide to what is possible in future. Pessimism about future technological breakthroughs will be self-fulfilling, they say.

For some this is a compelling and entertaining debate. But it is not going to be settled in a timeframe that is useful for maintaining a habitable planet. In the meantime, these adversaries are in danger of delivering a major own goal. Because the more time we spend in nerdy (and sometimes venomous) exchanges about decoupling, the less time we have to build the broad-based movement we need to take on the vested interests who benefit from the status quo."

See complete article in openDemocracy

 Related: Photo & Video: Climate Justice Activists Conclude 24-Hour Occupation at Dnc, Demand President-Elect Biden Be Brave (excerpt): Common Dreams


degrowth, #economy, growth economy, green growth, 


Wednesday 2 December 2020

Beating Back the Tides (excerpt) : NASA

High-tide floodwaters in downtown Annapolis on April 4, 2017. Credit: City of Annapolis
 "It was a sight you don’t normally see: a jellyfish lying dead in the middle of a parking lot partly submerged in water. But this was no ordinary parking lot. This particular section of asphalt in downtown Annapolis, Maryland, is among a growing number of areas prone to frequent flooding in the seaside town. The jellyfish had slipped in from the Chesapeake Bay through an opening in the seawall.

“You can literally kayak from the bay right into this parking lot,” said NOAA oceanographer William Sweet on the September day that we visited. The tide was relatively low that day.

On days with the highest tides of the year, whole parking lots and streets in Annapolis are underwater, causing delays and traffic congestion. Compromise Street, a major road into town, is often forced to shut down, slowing response times for firefighters and other first responders. Local businesses have lost as much as $172,000 a year, or 1.4% of their annual revenue, due to high-tide floods, according to a study published in 2019 in the journal Science Advances.

High-tide floods, also known as nuisance floods, sunny-day floods, and recurrent tidal floods, occur “when tides reach anywhere from 1.75 to 2 feet above the daily average high tide and start spilling onto streets or bubbling up from storm drains,” according to an annual report on the subject by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.) These floods are usually not related to storms; they typically occur during high tides, and they impact people’s lives. Because of rising seas driven by climate change, the frequency of this kind of flood has dramatically increased in recent years.".... By Jenny Marder,
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Go to complete NASA article