Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mixed News on Energy Front

A new study predicts investments in renewable energy sources will climb to $8 trillion by 2040. This, they say, will be about twice the amount that will be invested in coal, gas, and nuclear power over the same time period. This is certain to put a dent into the fossil fuel industry.

But, even if it becomes less dominant, these projections show fossil fuels are not going away. In addition to that $8 trillion going into renewables, approximately $4.1 trillion will be invested in coal, gas, and nuclear. This will result in continued increases in atmospheric CO2 levels until 2029. CO2 levels are projected to be 13% higher in 2040 than they were in 2014.

Still, a closer look at the number encourages me some. Of that $4.1 trillion, only about $1.6 trillion will go into coal-fired power plants. Gas plants will see approximately $1.2 trillion. The rest will go into nuclear power plants. This means only about $2.8 trillion will go towards CO2 producing power plants.

Some top international doctors and health experts are calling for the world to get off coal completely within five years, stating,
"The prescription for patient Earth is that we've got a limited amount of time to fix things," said commission co-chairman Dr. Anthony Costello, a pediatrician and director of the Global Health Institute at the University College of London. "We've got a real challenge particularly with carbon pollution."
The issue of carbon pollution was called a "medical emergency." Projects show about 57,000 Americans dying every year from complications caused by polluted air and approximately 12,000 will die every year because of high temperatures. A study by the World Health Organization stated climate change will "be likely to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year" around the world by 2030.

The cost of coal is extreme. The coal industry likes to say it is the cheapest form of energy, but that is true only if you pass the costs associated with burning coal to other people. If the coal industry had to pay for the damage done by CO2, mercury, arsenic, and sulfur dioxide, they would not be able to generate electricity at any rate the market could afford. It is only by making other people pay for the damages that the coal industry can afford to operate. So, why not make them pay for it?

Coal is not going away. Stopping all coal burning in five years would be a wonderful thing for the planet, but it isn't going to happen. But, if we start now, maybe we can turn that $1.6 trillion going into coal-fired power plants into a much smaller number. Zero would be a smaller number. The Netherlands showed there is a way through the courts to force a reduction in greenhouse emissions. The court there ordered the country to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020. In it's decision, the court said,
"The state must do more to reverse the imminent danger caused by climate change, given also its duty to protect and improve the environment,”
If it worked in the Netherlands, maybe it's time we tried it here.


  1. I'm sure you've seen the news about the Dutch climate change liability lawsuit that was decided in favor of the plaintiffs--the first time a government has been found liable for not doing enough to reduce AGW. Hoping you will be doing a post to share your thoughts on that!

  2. I think I'll write a post on just that topic.

  3. Commercial use of renewable energy is still only a small percentage of all the marketable energy currently used. However, this small amount seems (in recent years), has been growing by relative leaps and bounds---despite all the resistance to its use that has been erroneously promoted at the hands of deniers. So the reasons that the fossil fuel industry is so aggressively circulating concocted conspiracy theories about "socialist," scientists who are supposedly going to rake in the big bucks by lying about their research, and therefore "legitimizing," the need for green energy sources, is entirely defensive--they know that they stand to lose a large portion of the energy market so, in order to prosper---it has become imperative to them to disseminate conspiracy theories designed to discredit the work of reputable scientists, while boosting the amount of fossil fuels we use each year.

    The American public needs to be made aware of this transparent scheme to cast aspersions on scientists, in order to line big oil, and big coal's, pocket books, all the while raking in enormous profits from their carbon based products. It's truly amazing how large special interests seem to have successfully concealed their own conspiratorial anti--renewable energy goals and how they are managing to create the illusion that those whose only aim is to inform the public about the very likely, detrimental, (and perhaps dangerous effects), that Co2 will have on our future environment are the ones to blame, is beyond me? Obviously we don't find many climate scientists, (some of whom may be relatively well paid), living opulent lifestyles only available to the wealthy. A tenured professor may make about $100,000 per year, and may have written a popular book, but still, such a professor, or researcher, is not likely to own and keep a Bently and a porsche in his garage, or have a summer home in Bermuda---however, executives for large oil and coal, actually can afford such expensive playthings! So although their hypocrisy remains glaringly obvious, none-the-less, deniers have managed to convince many of us that they should be believed---mostly due to the fact, (as Al Gore said)---that facing the actual reality, remains very inconvenient. Such a dire situation causes many of us to bury our heads in the sand, and hope that the problem just goes away--while the fossil fuel industry is busy digging more and more holes in that sand, because the inconvenient reality we are told to ignore, represents a very convenient way to disguise the truth in favor of mega--companies like Exxonmobil and BP! But the time has come to think for ourselves, and to acknowledge what an obvious threat to the future, our unbridled use of fossil fuels has created!

  4. Read "The Merchants of Doubt," by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. It is the definitive book on the subject.

  5. Thanks Chris,

    I watched the one hour video narrated by Naomi Oreskes and found it very informing. I have always realized that the politics of special interests are behind the entire scientific "conspiracy" charge, but I didn't realize that many of the early deniers were rabidly opposed to regulating businesses on basis of their fierce anti-communist and anti-socialist philosophies. The ironic thing is that whatever the future holds, effective measure to limit greenhouse gasses will not destroy the existence of free enterprise--rather entrepreneurs and capitalist players will simply invest in other energy companies as the need to use carbon based products is replaced by the emergence of renewable energy sources. It's always amazed me how paranoia about socialism and communism, have been used so persuasively to prevent prudent regulation of institutions considered too big to fail. The merchants of doubt, are the masters of propaganda also.