Business Leaders Urge Congress to Extend Renewable Energy Tax Credit — Ceres

Published September 18, 2012 by tweetingdonal

Today, 19 companies, including major consumer brands and several Fortune 500 firms, wrote to Congressional leaders encouraging them to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC), a key provision supporting renewable energy.

The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of renewable power generated and, if lawmakers fail to act, is set to expire in 2012. Originally signed into law by George H.W. Bush, the tax credit has helped to strengthen energy diversity, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and keep electricity costs low for homes and businesses across the country.

“For consumers of wind electricity, the economic benefits of the PTC are tremendous. The PTC has enabled the industry to slash wind energy costs – 90% since 1980 – a big reason why companies like ours are buying increasing amounts of renewable energy,” the companies wrote in their letter. “Extending the PTC lowers prices for all consumers, keeps America competitive in a global marketplace and creates homegrown American jobs.”

The signatories of the letter demonstrate how a broad cross-section of U.S. companies are increasingly relying on inexpensive and abundant American wind energy to power their businesses. The signers include:  Akamai Technologies; Annie’s, Inc.; Aspen Skiing Company; Ben & Jerry’s; Clif Bar; Johnson & Johnson; Jones Lang LaSalle; Levi Strauss & Co; New Belgium Brewing; The North Face; Pitney Bowes; the Portland Trail Blazers; Seventh Generation; Sprint; Starbucks; Stonyfield Farm; Symantec; Timberland; and Yahoo!. Many of these firms are members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a project of Ceres.

Sprint, a national top 50 green power purchaser, highlighted the PTC’s importance to meeting its renewable energy goals:

“Sprint has committed to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and increase its use of renewable energy sources for electricity,” said Amy Hargroves, manager, corporate social responsibility at Sprint. “That’s why we have been actively working to meet our goal to secure 10 percent of our total electricity through renewable energy sources by 2017.  We support the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind because it has enabled companies like Sprint to make the shift to abundant, clean, and homegrown wind energy.”

Members of BICEP like New Belgium Brewing also expressed strong support for the PTC:

“New Belgium Brewing has made investing in renewable power a strategic priority because it’s the right thing to do for the environment, for our business, and for clean energy employment,” said Jenn Vervier, director, strategic development and sustainability at New Belgium Brewing. “Over the past several years, we’ve seen clean energy job growth in our home state of Colorado and a vision for building a more resilient power grid by integrating renewables. Extending the Production Tax Credit will help to ensure that those positive trends continue across the nation.”

“The Production Tax Credit helps every business that purchases renewable power: It’s just that simple,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which coordinates BICEP. “Letting the PTC expire now would increase energy costs for homes and businesses at exactly the wrong time. For Congress, the message from business leaders is clear: Extend the PTC and help us build the economy.”

Navigant Consulting estimates that extending the PTC for four additional years would result in 95,000 wind-supported jobs and $16.3 billion in investment by 2016. However, failing to immediately extend the PTC would result in the loss of more than 37,000 American jobs and $10 billion in investment in 2013.

Bolstered by the PTC, wind energy accounted for 35% of new electrical generation capacity installed in the past five years, and now supplies 20% of electricity in states like Iowa and South Dakota. From 2004 through 2011, non-hydroelectric renewable energy more than doubled and now accounts for nearly 5% of electricity generation in the U.S.

BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate. BICEP is a project of Ceres. www.ceres.org/bicep

Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership.  Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $10 trillion.

Our Congress is choking on 2.2 cents per kW-hr but has no problem with much larger breaks for the coal companies…

Winter 2010 | Momentum | Institute on the Environment | University of Minnesota

Published May 24, 2012 by tweetingdonal

A Survival Guide to Geoengineering

Despite its potential to trigger conflict, geoengineering will likely be part of the global response to climate change. Be prepared.

By Jamais Cascio

Geoengineering

Illustration: Mark Thoburn
The idea of geoengineering has been around for some time—often imagined in science fiction and futurist tomes as giant orbiting mirrors blocking the sun. But as the dangers of global warming have become more evident, while efforts to reduce carbon emissions continued to stall, the concept has moved from the scientific fringes to the mainstream.

The tumultuous outcome of the Copenhagen summit drives home two clear facts: The political struggles around how we respond to global climate disruption are enormously complex—and the resulting delays are bringing us dangerously close to disaster.

This disaster may not unfold in the way we expect. Accelerating changes to the global climate may render even the most aggressive carbon reductions insufficient. But there’s a good chance that the action taken will be in the form of geoengineering, or the intentional modification of geophysical systems to reduce the impacts of climate change.

However, the clashes around geoengineering will make COP15 look amicable. Done carelessly,geoengineering could cause unintended environmental damage. It could also undermine the health and security of millions of people, and drive political wedges between powerful nations. Geoengineering could even push us to the brink of war.

While we know geoengineering would be enormously risky, we’re likely to try it anyway. We can’t eliminate the risks entirely, but if we act wisely, we can make the risks more manageable. Here, I lay out a few ideas for making sure that any geoengineering efforts are done in ways that reduce the risks of both environmental harm and political conflict.

Risky Business

The idea of geoengineering has been around for some time—often imagined in science fiction and futurist tomes as giant orbiting mirrors blocking the sun. But as the dangers of global warming have become more evident, while efforts to reduce carbon emissions continued to stall, the concept has moved from the scientific fringes to the mainstream.

Nobel Prize-winning scientists like Paul Crutzen have openly endorsed research into geoengineering—not as a substitute for carbon reductions, but as a stopgap measure to prevent runaway catastrophe. Reports from respected scientific bodies (such as the U.K.’s Royal Society and the American Meteorological Society) have cautiously endorsed research into geoengineering.

The concept is even gaining some popular visibility, appearing in The Atlantic Monthly and the 2009 pop-economics book SuperFreakonomics. It was also the focus of an article I wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

The current version of geoengineering has dispensed with the space mirrors, adopting a variety of more down-to-earth measures. One proposal would seed the oceans with iron to trigger algae blooms, which pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (initial experiments were unsuccessful, but research continues). Another would cool the atmosphere through the use of massive vortexes, mixing colder air from high up with the warmer air near the surface.

The plan that has received the most attention is one where megatons of sulfur dioxide particles would be pumped into the stratosphere, causing a slight dimming of incoming sunlight, cooling the planet by a few degrees. As outlandish as that might sound, it’s an idea that has worked in nature—it’s one of the side effects of a volcanic eruption.

As the most feasible geoengineering proposals do nothing about rising carbon levels, they aren’t considered solutions for global warming. They’re just temporary fixes meant to delay the worst heat-related impacts while the world completes its sluggish transition from fossil fuels. There are currently no known large-scale geoengineering projects underway. Yet, a growing number of scientists support the idea of researching ways to use geoengineering in a global warming crisis.

The appeal of such plans is obvious, as is the environmental risk. Nations desperate to do something about imminent climate disaster would readily embrace mechanisms to slow the disaster’s onset. But the sheer complexity of the ocean-atmosphere system almost guarantees that interventions on this kind of scale will have unexpected and unwanted consequences.

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Yes, it’s that time… geoengineering is starting to seem inevitable, time to learn the ins and outs.

Arctic Ocean is a Potent Methane Source Too | Mother Jones

Published May 10, 2012 by tweetingdonal
Arctic sea ice: NOAA

Arctic sea ice: NOAA 

We’ve known for a while that a melting Arctic is likely to be a big methane producer, and that methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Until recently we thought the primary sources of Arctic methane were from:

  1. Melting tundra
  2. Melting marine sediments (like gas hydrates)

Now a new paper in Nature Geoscience reports the Arctic Ocean is itself a source of atmospheric methane. Here’s how this scientific riddle got cracked. From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

During five research flights in 2009–10, [researchers] measured increased methane levels while flying at low altitudes north of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas… The methane level detected during the flights was about one-half percent higher than normal background levels.
But where was the methane coming from? The team detected no carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, which would have been a signature of methane coming from the human combustion of fuels. And based on the time of year, the location, and the nature of the emissions, it was unlikely that the methane was coming from high-latitude wetlands or geologic reservoirs.

 Thawing on East Siberian Arctic Shelf: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

Thawing on East Siberian Arctic Shelf: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation 

The researchers eventually pinpointed the source: the Arctic Ocean. But not just any part of the Arctic Ocean. From the paper:

“While the methane levels we detected weren’t particularly large,” says lead author Eric Kort, “the potential source region, the Arctic Ocean, is vast. So our finding could represent a noticeable new global source of methane.”

We further show that high methane concentrations are restricted to areas over open leads and regions with fractional sea-ice cover. Based on the observed gradients in methane concentration, we estimate that sea–air fluxes amount to around 2 mg d−1 m−2, comparable to emissions seen on the Siberian shelf. We suggest that the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean represent a potentially important source of methane, which could prove sensitive to changes in sea-ice cover.

To put that into perspective, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is leaking an amount of methane comparable to all the methane from the rest of the world’s oceans put together. In the schematic above, you can how its permafrost is highly porous, allowing methane stored under to burst through cracks into the atmosphere. 

According to the new research, now we’re talking about a rapidly de-icing Arctic, with methane bursting through its ice cracks, capable of contributing hella big methane to the atmosphere. Talk about a tipping point.

No one’s yet sure how the methane is produced, but lead author Eric Kort suspects biological productivity in Arctic surface waters may be the culprit. “It’s possible that as large areas of sea ice melt and expose more ocean water,” he says, “methane production may increase, leading to larger methane emissions.”

 

 

The video condenses the rapid changes underway in the Arctic into two minutes (though prior to the new evidence on methane production from the Arctic Ocean).

The paper: 

  • E. A. Kort, et al. Atmospheric observations of Arctic Ocean methane emissions up to 82° north. Nature Geoscience. DOI:10.1038/ngeo1452 

 

Nicely done job of presentation. You may wish to see the original for a slightly better view.

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If you follow such things, today marks the beginning of the 5115th year of the Kali Yuga

Published January 23, 2012 by tweetingdonal

 

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Kali yuga is known as the age of the male demon, Kali. The scriptures, like Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.2, teach that during the 432,000 year age of Kali, humanity deteriorates and falls into barbarism. “Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, physical strength and memory diminish with each passing day.” Severe droughts and plagues are everywhere. Slovenliness, illness, hunger and fear spread. Nations are continually at war with one another. People in this age will be lazy, greedy and deceitful. The end of Kali Yuga is marked by the return of the Kalki, the last reincarnation of Vishnu, who will battle the demon Kali.

According to another tale, there are 4 ages, Krita/Satya Yuga (Golden Age), Treta Yaga (Silver Age), Dvapara Yuga (Copper/Bronze Age), and the Kali Yuga (Iron Age). In one of the oldest Vedic writings, attributed to the god-man Manu, the four yugas are said to add up to 24,000 years, but when they are enumerated they only come to 12,000 years. The Krita/Satya Yuga lasts 4,800 years; the Treta Yuga lasts 3,600; the Dvapara lasts 2,400 years and the Kali Yuga lasts 1,200 years. The “descent into darkness”- Kali Yuga – started when the summer solstice (June) Sun was aligned with the apparent Galactic Center, around 10,800 BC. The “Ascent back into light” takes place now, when the winter solstice (December) Sun aligns with the apparent Galactic Center around 2002-2012.

It would seem that no matter who you are or what sort of worship practice you follow, things around the world point to the human race being fed up with current human behaviour. 

Keep Shell Out of the Arctic! | Save BioGems

Published January 11, 2012 by tweetingdonal

For years, Shell has been vying for one environmental jewel that has remained off-limits to the company’s drill rigs: the Polar Bear Seas off the northern coast of Alaska, including the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Polar bear mother and cub
  • Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The Obama Administration has just given Shell a tentative go-ahead to begin drilling this summer off the coastline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—the polar bear’s most important denning ground in Alaska. An oil spill is all but assured if the company moves forward with full-scale oil production. Even worse, the oil industry has no proven method for cleaning up oil in the Arctic’s ice-filled waters. So the death toll of oil-soaked and poisoned polar bears, whales and seals would be unimaginable.

-Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., NRDC Senior Attorney

Looks like Shell Oil, you know, Royal Dutch Shell?, is finally going to get their way in the Arctic. Despite the fact that they don’t have a plan to handle a spill, don’t have effective technology to handle an accident, and our government lacks technology or money to handle a problem, we’ve given them a shot at creating another Deepwater Horizon for the Arctic. Oh, and to make a lot of money exporting petroleum.

In case you think this drilling will cut your gas bill, guess again. Our number 1 export last year was, wait for it, Gasoline! (“Gas, other fuels are top U.S. export – USATODAY.com” http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/story/2011-12-31/united-state… ) We’re using less gas, so they’re selling it offshore to China rather than cutting prices. They won’t cut prices, they’ll keep them high and sell whatever we don’t use offshore and pocket the profits.

Which is why they want to drill in the Arctic so badly. Not to reduce our energy dependence on foreign oil. Just to make more money while soaking your wallet.

I do, indeed, have a problem with this. If you do too, have a look at the attached.

KEEP SHELL OUT OF THE ARCTIC! http://www.savebiogems.org/stop-shell/

Siberian shelf methane emissions not tied to modern warming

Published December 15, 2011 by tweetingdonal

Abstract

EOS, TRANSACTIONS AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION,

VOL. 92, NO. 49,

PAGE 464, 2011
doi:10.1029/2011EO490014

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT

Siberian shelf methane emissions not tied to modern warming

Colin Schultz

American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C., USA

Eight thousand years ago, a rising sea inundated the vast permafrost regions off the northern coast of Siberia. Comprising the modern east Siberian shelf, the region holds enormous quantities of methane hydrates bottled up in remnant subterranean permafrost zones that are, in turn, trapped beneath the ocean waters. Records of seafloor water temperature showing a 2.1°C rise since 1985, coupled with recent observations of methane emissions from the seabed, have led some scientists to speculate that the rising temperatures have thawed some of the subsurface permafrost, liberating the trapped methane. The connection is compelling, but an investigation by Dmitrenko et al. into the sensitivity of permafrost to rising temperatures suggests the two observations are not connected. Using a permafrost model forced with paleoclimate data to analyze changes in the depth of frozen bottom sediments, the authors found that roughly 1 meter of the subsurface permafrost thawed in the past 25 years, adding to the 25 meters of already thawed soil. Forecasting the expected future permafrost thaw, the authors found that even under the most extreme climatic scenario tested this thawed soil growth will not exceed 10 meters by 2100 or 50 meters by the turn of the next millennium. The authors note that the bulk of the methane stores in the east Siberian shelf are trapped roughly 200 meters below the seafloor, indicating that the recent methane emissions observations were likely not connected to the modest modern permafrost thaw. Instead, they suggest that the current methane emissions are the result of the permafrost’s still adjusting to its new aquatic conditions, even after 8000 years. (Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, doi:10.1029/2011JC007218, 2011)

Published 6

December
2011.

Citation: Schultz, C.

(2011),

Siberian shelf methane emissions not tied to modern warming,

Eos Trans. AGU,

92(49), 464, doi:10.1029/2011EO490014.

This work does not discount the work due to be presented by Drs Semiletov and Shakhova sometime mid-year next year (2012). While the article from December 6th, above, indicates that the current evolution of methane may be from the condition change 8,000 years ago, it does not mean that we aren’t seeing some speed up due to localized warming, similar to stirring or scraping the bottom of a pan on the stove.

Regardless, this problem and the apparent acceleration of methane release has to be added to the efforts to deal with carbon gas emissions. So an increase now is not helping.