Monday, February 20, 2017

Heartland Fossil Fuel Funding

The anti-science organization, Heartland Institute, keeps trying to hide the fact is is funded by tobacco and fossil fuel to the point that it's supporters keep flagging comments about it for removal. Well, here is a summary of that funding and it will not be removed. Thanks to Terry for the data.

Heartland Institute has received at least $676,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998.

1997
$unknown Mobil Corporation
Source: Heartland material, present at 3/16/97 conference

1998
$30,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
Source: Exxon Education Foundation Dimensions 1998 report

2000
$115,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
Climate Change
Source: ExxonMobil Foundation 2000 IRS 990

2001
$90,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
Source: ExxonMobil 2001 Worldwide Giving Report

2002
$15,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
Source: ExxonMobil 2002 Worldwide Giving Report

2003
$7,500 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
19th Aniversary Benefit Dinner
Source: ExxonMobil 2003 Worldwide Giving Report

2003
$85,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
General Operating Support
Source: ExxonMobil 2003 Worldwide Giving Report

2004
$10,000 Exxon Corporation
Climate Change Activities
Source: ExxonMobil 2004 Worldwide Giving Report

2004
$15,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
Climate Change Efforts
Source: ExxonMobil 2004 Worldwide Giving Report

2004
$75,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
General Operating Support
Source: ExxonMobil 2004 Worldwide Giving Report

2005
$29,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
Source: ExxonMobil 2005 Worldwide Giving Report

2005
$90,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
Source: ExxonMobil 2005 Worldwide Giving Report

2006
$90,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
General Operating Support
Source: ExxonMobil 2006 Worldwide Giving Report

2006
$10,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
Anniversary benefit dinner
Source: ExxonMobil 2006 Worldwide Giving Report

2006
$15,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
general operating support
Source: ExxonMobil 2006 Worldwide Giving Report

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Despite Trump, coal is on the way out

President Trump signed an order on Thursday, Feb 16 to overturn the Stream Protection Rule. This rule was designed to prevent coal companies from dumping their mining waste into rivers by restricting mining within 100 feet of a waterway. Trump stated his action would "eliminate another terrible job-killing rule, saving many thousands of American jobs, especially in the mines." Of course, anyone paying attention has learned that Trump has great difficulty in getting his facts straight and this action is another example of it.

A study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) found the rule would have eliminated approximately 260 jobs a year, not 'many thousands.' But, at the same time, it would have created about 250 jobs a year. Overall, the rule would have been about breakeven on jobs. Which just goes to show, you can justify anything by stating you want to save jobs, even if it isn't true. So, Trump's action will hurt the watershed, the environment and the people living downstream. The things that will benefit? Nothing. Not even coal. Trump did this to appease his coal mining friends. Interestingly, that CRS study also stated overall employment in the coal industry would continue to drop and would lose around 15,000 jobs of the current 90,000 in the sector between 2020 and 2040. I think it will be much higher. Read on to see why.


The truth is, Trump can't do anything to stop the decline of coal. In fact, Trump himself will be working hard to do just that. He has promised to overturn rules on the oil and gas industry to make it easier for them to drill. Coal's biggest enemy isn't the EPA - it's cheap gas. And, Trump is going to make sure gas stays cheap.

And, ironically, OPEC is helping out as well. OPEC recently caved and reached an output agreement to prop up the price of oil. This is already resulting in a second boom of fracking. The drill rig count for last April was 132 but has risen to 301 today. But, the story is the rigs are more advanced and efficient and they can each do more than the old ones. So, the disparity in the numbers doesn't reflect the true situation. Estimates are the US oil production will increase from 8.9 million barrels of oil per day currently to between 9.5 and 9.7 million barrels per day by the end of 2018. And, along with the increase in oil production will come an increase in natural gas production. 

Even some conservative Republicans are getting into the act. Last Wednesday (the day before Trump signed his coal mining order), the Climate Leadership Council unveiled their plan for a gradually increasing, revenue-neutral tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Proceeds from the tax would be redistributed to the people. This plan is specifically designed to reduce CO2 emissions and address climate change. So, even conservative Republicans are saying there's a problem and we need to act. The plan has been well-received, but I have to be skeptical it will get passed by Congress. Too many members of Congress received funds from the coal industry to vote for something like this. But, the very announcement makes it more difficult for coal. Things are shifting when even Republicans admit manmade climate change is real and needs to be addressed. That doesn't bode well for coal.

And, to make it even worse, renewable energy is surging. 

The number of solar cell installations in 2016 were up 95% over the number in 2015. The numbers nearly doubled in only one year.  By the way, if Trump really is interested in creating jobs, the solar industry employs 260,000 people and the coal industry employs only 90,000. 

And, last Sunday, February 12 saw wind power briefly account for over 50% of the electricity generated in the US.  

So, the coal industry is surely celebrating Trump's action on the Stream Protection Rule. But, during that same week, reports came out showing renewable energy sources are continuing to increase their share of the market, reports came out showing natural gas production is surging again and even conservative Republicans said we need to reduce CO2 emissions. Overall, it wasn't a great week for the coal industry.










Friday, February 17, 2017

News about sea ice continues to be bleak

I made a posting about the sea ice extent recently, but there has been so much bad news since then that I felt I needed to do an update already. A recent article in Climate Central discussed how the sea ice extent has hit record lows on both poles, although the situation in the south is much more complicated than in the north and the ice loss there may not be due entirely to climate change.

The extent of the sea ice is dependent on many things, but so many things have turned negative that we find ourselves in the situation of hoping for a low-probability series of events to help it recover. There may be a surge this summer because one of the factors in the extent is the summer weather. If the weather is cold and cloudy this summer, expect to see some recovery. Personally, the best I am expecting is that it will be bad, but not as bad as expected. And, that is the low probability scenario I was speaking of. Hopefully, I'll be wrong.

Here are some graphics to show how bad the ice is. These come from the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS). You can find a discussion on these figures on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog.

This first shows the ice volume anomaly plotted against time since 1980, revealing a strongly negative trend line.

Ice Volume vs. Time 1980 - Jan 2017

The next plot shows the ice volume as a function of year and allows for year-to-year comparisons. The red line shows the data for 2017 and shows it is lower than any other year.

Ice Volume vs Time of Year

This is an interesting plot. It shows a plot of monthly ice volume versus years and has been dubbed the Arctic Death Spiral. Each colored line represents a given month and is plotted to show how the volume each month has changed as a function of time. The year 1979 is located at the 12 o'clock position and the years advance clockwise until 2017, which is located at about the 11:00 position. This plot is very useful to compare the ice volume between different months. For instance, the red line represents the ice volume for January while the black line is for September, the month with the minimum ice extent. Comparing the two lines shows there was only one year in the 1980s, 1981, where the minimum extent was less than the current January extent, a month when we should be approaching maximum extent. So, we can see how the maximum extent today is approximately the minimum extent of the 1980s.


 

This plot is from the Polar Portal, a collaborative effort of Danish research institutions, and shows the ice thickness. The cooler temperature (blues and purples) are areas with thinner the ice which formed this year (up to about 2 meters thick). The red and white areas and the thickest areas and represents the oldest ice (over 4 meters thick). The entire center of this map should be red and white. Instead, the old ice is limited to an area north of Greenland where it is concentrated by winds and currents. The blue and purple areas will certainly melt this summer. The green and yellow are vulnerable. If left to themselves, they could melt. However, storms and waves are likely to pile up the ice so there is only a small chance we would see all of that ice melt. The red and white areas may get thinner, but are not likely to melt completely.

Source: Polar Portal

This is the current plot of the ice extent from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The darker (complete curve) line is for 2015 while the red line is for 2016. The light blue (incomplete curve) line is for 2017 to date. At the time, 2015 reached the lowest maximum extent ever recorded. That record last one year until the new lowest maximum extent ever recorded occurred in the spring of 2016. So far, 2017 is tracking significantly lower than either of those years. If the trend continues for the next few weeks, we will see a new lowest maximum extent. I've already gone on record as predicting it will come in at around 14.2 million square kilometers and I think I will stick with the prediction.

Source: NSIDC