By Andy Rowell
Sometimes all you have to do is join the dots.
Let’s take three different headlines from May 29, which are all from The Guardian newspaper in the U.K.
Headline number one: “'Golden age of gas’ threatens renewable energy, IEA warns”.
The article went on to state: “A ‘golden age of gas’ spurred by a tripling of shale gas from fracking and other sources of unconventional gas by 2035 will stop renewable energy in its tracks if governments don’t take action, the International Energy Agency has warned.”
If this is not bad enough for renewables, take headline number two: “Gas rebranded as green energy by EU”.
This article stated: “Energy from gas power stations has been rebranded as a green, low-carbon source of power by a €80 billion European Union programme, in a triumph of the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industry lobby over renewable forms of power.”
On Monday’s blog I talked about how a $4 billion, seven-year lobby campaign by Shell had paved the way for its exploration in the Arctic.
Another intensive lobbying campaign means that EU funds that were supposed to be devoted to research and development into renewables such as solar and wave power are now likely to be diverted, instead to subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.
The irony of the cash-sodden oil industry being even more subsidized by hard pressed EU tax-payers is nearly beyond comprehension.
But beyond that is the dangerous realization that, despite being a fossil fuel, gas is now being considered officially by the EU as a “low-carbon” form of energy, equivalent to renewables.
This becomes even more ironic when you consider our third headline: “Using shale gas over coal does not help climate, says big gas investor”.
OK, let's get first things first. Gas, extracted under normal conditions is “cleaner” than oil. However, that said, more and more gas being exploited, especially in the U.S., is “shale gas," which is not cleaner than oil. In fact, it is no better than coal.
Now a leading gas investment fund, the Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, is arguing that due to “fugitive methane” leaking from fracking, shale gas is no better than coal. This is because the leaking methane is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
“This is a very big issue, and has huge implications for climate change, given the pursuit of shale gas,” said Craig Mackenzie, author of the report by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership.
So yesterday’s news can be summed up that gas, especially shale gas, is likely to undermine renewable investment. Anyway, gas is now being seen as low carbon by the EU, and will receive subsidies that should have gone to kick-start the clean, renewable revolution. This is despite the fact that shale gas is no cleaner than dirty coal.
Make sense to you? Me, neither.
When wind turbine blades reach the end of their usefulness, most are sawed into transportable pieces and hauled to landfills, where they never break down. Because of the resources and energy that go into producing these blades, this type of disposal is inefficient and wasteful. Recently, several innovative companies have begun brainstorming better ways to repurpose this green technology after it goes offline.
- World's Largest Solar Project and Floating Wind Turbine Signal ... ›
- Wind Power Costs Could See Another 50% Reduction by 2030 ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.
- Groundbreaking Fossil Shows Prehistoric 15-Foot Reptile Tried to ... ›
- Skull of Smallest Known Dinosaur Found in 99-Million-Year Old Amber ›
- Giant 'Toothed' Birds Flew Over Antarctica 40 Million Years Ago ... ›
- World's Second-Largest Egg Found in Antarctica Probably Hatched ... ›
- Pruitt Guts the Clean Power Plan: How Weak Will the New EPA ... ›
- It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan ... ›
- 'Deadly' Clean Power Plan Replacement ›
By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.
- Gorillas in San Diego Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Wildlife Rehabilitators Are Overwhelmed During the Pandemic. In ... ›
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's ... ›
- Utah Mink Becomes First Wild Animal to Test Positive for Coronavirus ›
By Peter Giger
The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)