I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
NEWS
+
VIEWS
May 15 2022

heat wave in Asia, deforestation in South America and Africa, drought and fire in the southwestern U.S., methane leaks in New Mexico, innovations in battery technology

The Guardian describes a powerful heat wave that is gripping India and Pakistan. For weeks, daily high temperatures in Pakistan’s Balochistan region have exceeded 120°F, and it’s only April. When the humidity of monsoon season arrives, many experts are worried that conditions will become ever more dangerous. The heat is impacting agriculture, with yields of wheat in the hottest areas dropping 50%. An article in The Atlantic describes the challenge India faces to meet its renewable-energy goals as electrical demand climbs (in large part due to the growing amount of air conditioning). Last month, more than 600 passenger and postal trains were canceled so that the railroad could deliver more coal to power plants to prevent blackouts, as India faced its worst electricity shortage in six decades. Yet even with these steps, many communities faced outages. This also underscores the need for developed nations to help countries like India accelerate their renewable-energy deployment so that rising demand for electricity does not result in rising greenhouse-gas emissions. (Grist notes that per-capita emissions in the U.S. are over seven times higher than in India).

Coal-burning is also on the rise in China, where many municipalities suffered power outages last year, as described by the New York Times. At the same time, China is building huge amounts of renewable power as well (it will add more wind and solar power capacity this year than the entire rest of the world did last year). China is still committed to having greenhouse-gas emissions peak in 2030 but, with more coal-fired plants built in the next few years, any decline in emissions will likely be gradual. Meanwhile, in the U.S. Reuters reports delays in deployment of solar (due in part to a Department of Commerce investigation into Chinese tariff violations), resulting in a utility in Indiana delaying closure of a coal-fired power plant by two years…

read more
April 30 2022

removing carbon from the atmosphere, Senator Manchin’s conflict of interest, tree planting as a climate solution, nuclear-fusion reactors, high-altitude wind power

The Atlantic notes that a key (but not new) finding from the recent IPCC report is that humanity will have to remove large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere to prevent global average temperature from rising to a very dangerous level. While natural ecosystems can carry some of this load, there is no doubt that we will need to develop and deploy technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Recently, an alliance of major tech companies — including Google, Meta, Shopify, and Stripe — announced that it is purchasing $925 million worth of carbon removal over the next eight years through a new venture called Frontier. Frontier will be paying carbon removal companies for drawing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it. Stripe has been engaged in this work for a couple of years, purchasing carbon removal from 14 different start-ups (you can hear Stripe’s project leader on the Volts podcast). By creating demand, they want to stimulate innovation and policy development that will bring about carbon removal at large scale (this approach, previously applied in vaccine development, is known as “advanced market commitment”). The new company’s leader states that “a billion dollars is roughly 30 times the carbon-removal market that existed in 2021. But it’s still 1,000 times short of the market we need by 2050.”

Even if large-scale carbon removal is successfully commercialized, this is not some type of “morning after” pill for excessive greenhouse-gas emissions. If we overshoot our temperature limits by failing to control emissions (which seems likely), many irreversible impacts will occur. Grist discusses these, including species extinctions and sea level rise driven by heat already captured in the ocean. It is also possible that a warming planet passes through tipping points where climate changes occur (over decades/centuries) even with extensive carbon removal in the second half of this century. Examples include insect outbreaks and wildfires that kill trees and release additional greenhouse gases, or heat and drought causing some parts of the Amazon rainforest to release more carbon than it sequesters (I explored tipping points in a previous post). If such processes take off, our carbon-removal efforts will be “like shoveling a walkway in a blizzard.” Steering clear of these tipping points is why it is so essential to cut emissions aggressively now…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES
 

NEWS
+
VIEWS
I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
May 15 2022

heat wave in Asia, deforestation in South America and Africa, drought and fire in the southwestern U.S., methane leaks in New Mexico, innovations in battery technology

The Guardian describes a powerful heat wave that is gripping India and Pakistan. For weeks, daily high temperatures in Pakistan’s Balochistan region have exceeded 120°F, and it’s only April. When the humidity of monsoon season arrives, many experts are worried that conditions will become ever more dangerous. The heat is impacting agriculture, with yields of wheat in the hottest areas dropping 50%. An article in The Atlantic describes the challenge India faces to meet its renewable-energy goals as electrical demand climbs (in large part due to the growing amount of air conditioning). Last month, more than 600 passenger and postal trains were canceled so that the railroad could deliver more coal to power plants to prevent blackouts, as India faced its worst electricity shortage in six decades. Yet even with these steps, many communities faced outages. This also underscores the need for developed nations to help countries like India accelerate their renewable-energy deployment so that rising demand for electricity does not result in rising greenhouse-gas emissions. (Grist notes that per-capita emissions in the U.S. are over seven times higher than in India).

Coal-burning is also on the rise in China, where many municipalities suffered power outages last year, as described by the New York Times. At the same time, China is building huge amounts of renewable power as well (it will add more wind and solar power capacity this year than the entire rest of the world did last year). China is still committed to having greenhouse-gas emissions peak in 2030 but, with more coal-fired plants built in the next few years, any decline in emissions will likely be gradual. Meanwhile, in the U.S. Reuters reports delays in deployment of solar (due in part to a Department of Commerce investigation into Chinese tariff violations), resulting in a utility in Indiana delaying closure of a coal-fired power plant by two years…

read more
April 30 2022

removing carbon from the atmosphere, Senator Manchin’s conflict of interest, tree planting as a climate solution, nuclear-fusion reactors, high-altitude wind power

The Atlantic notes that a key (but not new) finding from the recent IPCC report is that humanity will have to remove large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere to prevent global average temperature from rising to a very dangerous level. While natural ecosystems can carry some of this load, there is no doubt that we will need to develop and deploy technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Recently, an alliance of major tech companies — including Google, Meta, Shopify, and Stripe — announced that it is purchasing $925 million worth of carbon removal over the next eight years through a new venture called Frontier. Frontier will be paying carbon removal companies for drawing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it. Stripe has been engaged in this work for a couple of years, purchasing carbon removal from 14 different start-ups (you can hear Stripe’s project leader on the Volts podcast). By creating demand, they want to stimulate innovation and policy development that will bring about carbon removal at large scale (this approach, previously applied in vaccine development, is known as “advanced market commitment”). The new company’s leader states that “a billion dollars is roughly 30 times the carbon-removal market that existed in 2021. But it’s still 1,000 times short of the market we need by 2050.”

Even if large-scale carbon removal is successfully commercialized, this is not some type of “morning after” pill for excessive greenhouse-gas emissions. If we overshoot our temperature limits by failing to control emissions (which seems likely), many irreversible impacts will occur. Grist discusses these, including species extinctions and sea level rise driven by heat already captured in the ocean. It is also possible that a warming planet passes through tipping points where climate changes occur (over decades/centuries) even with extensive carbon removal in the second half of this century. Examples include insect outbreaks and wildfires that kill trees and release additional greenhouse gases, or heat and drought causing some parts of the Amazon rainforest to release more carbon than it sequesters (I explored tipping points in a previous post). If such processes take off, our carbon-removal efforts will be “like shoveling a walkway in a blizzard.” Steering clear of these tipping points is why it is so essential to cut emissions aggressively now…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES