With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility (To Analyze)
GRAPH OF THE DAY I
ENERGY-RELATED CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS, 1990-2012. EIA. October 2013.
One year ago, on October 29, Hurricane Sandy traveled up the east coast pummeling everything in its path.
Today, Sandy’s impact continues. In New York, insurance companies working with the National Flood Insurance Program processed 400,000 Sandy-related claims. Unfortunately, too many of the families filing claims remain aggrieved, unable to restore their lives to what they were before the storm. Suggestions on how to improve the federal disaster-relief program come via CAP; and a checklist of 10 post-Sandy priorities are here for review. For a discussion on the vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure against future superstorms read this. But, for a comprehensive assessment on how to protect a major metropolitan coastal city from a climate disaster, nothing compares to plaNYC.
The U.S. was on the receiving end of some good news. The EIA reports that we cut our energy-related carbon dioxide pollution by 3.8 percent last year – reaching the lowest level since 1994. EIA attributes the drop to warm winter weather, an ongoing shift from coal-power to natural gas, more efficient cars and their new mileage requirements. This article tethers the key data from the report to the agency’s always-informative graphs. Another analysis of government data tracking total U.S. energy use in 2012 is found in America’s (Amazingly) Good Energy News from the NRDC. A snapshot of that report’s major findings is found here.
Despite the good news emanating from the U.S., global financing for projects that reduce carbon emissions fell one percent even while global emissions keep rising. An inescapable sense of alarm over global warming has convinced some climate scientists to rely on geoengineering to cool the planet down. NPR has an interesting story on rogue geoengineering or “climate hacking” – radical scientific acts to combat climate change. Bryan Walsh reprimands us for leaving our grandchildren the legacy of an unlivable climate. Read and reflect on his commentary here.
Adding to the controversy surrounding the ameliorative role of natural gas, a new study from Stanford’s Energy Modeling Forum has policy experts questioning the full impact of the North American shale gas revolution. Joe Rohm provides his analysis of the findings and highlights the report’s claim that shale gas will not significantly reduce U.S. carbon emissions. Brad Plumer explains both the upside and the downside of the report’s key finding: that cheap natural gas will divert investment and activity away from clean energy sources like wind, solar, and nuclear.
In California, the recent unanimous decision by the CPUC – requiring the State’s big three investor-owned utilities to add 1.325 GWs of energy storage to their grids by 2020 is widely viewed as groundbreaking. The challenges the CPUC faces in carrying out the regulations are explained here and here. This article explains why the CPUC's decision is important even though the challenges of storage technology remain largely unsolved. This article from the Energy Collective ‘welcomes’ California’s attempt to promote energy storage, but also raises serious questions about the viability of meeting 1.325 GWs of energy storage within the mandated time frame.
From the recent attempts to regulate fracking to the controversy swirling around the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and all the underlying politics in between, Amy Harder’s recent series of articles on California captures the inherent conflicts between green energy advocates and big oil as the Golden State, a global leader in clean energy, is on the cusp of a new oil boom.
Not too long ago, fracking in California occurred largely unnoticed. However, since the passage of SB 4, the displeasure expressed by both environmentalists and the oil industry has called attention to the issue – goading local opposition into voicing their concerns. Organized dissent over fracking is now gaining momentum, particularly in the State’s agricultural community, where the procedure’s excessive use of water is a major cause of concern.
As climate changes in California, projections reveal extreme heat to be a growing problem and California’s EPA and Department of Public Health have recommendations for coping with the rising temperature. This article addresses the impact of hot weather on Cal’s agricultural industry. Over the last three decades automobile travel in California has doubled because of our burgeoning population but the amount of gasoline consumed in California has increased by only 25 percent. Ending on another high note, the funds from Prop. 39 are on en route to California’s schools.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“This is not just a matter of the recent financial crisis; it is structural, based on the huge obligations we face from aging populations and other pressing needs for infrastructure, education, health care and the like.” U.S. climate envoy, Todd Stern explaining why the U.S. isn’t likely to boost funding to help poor countries battle global warming.
"Doing nothing is a decision that’s going to have incredible costs." Tom Steyer on why, together, with Michael Bloomberg and Henry Paulson, he is conducting Risky Business, a study that debunks the argument that doing nothing about climate change has no economic consequences.
"California is literally sitting on top of a sea of Black Gold that could put our energy supply and economic prosperity in our own hands, not the hands of foreign nations." A statement contained in a letter from California House Republicans telling Gov. Jerry Brown to allow nothing to get in the way of the revival of California’s oil industry.
“For years, the promise of solar was always ‘just around the corner.’ Well, solar has turned the corner, and found itself on Main Street, USA.” Adam Browning, Executive Director of Vote Solar commenting on commercial solar’s deployment currently topping 3,380MW in the U.S.
GRAPH OF THE DAY II
PERCENTAGE OF INSTALLATIONS BY DATA SET AND INCOME RANGE. Center for American Progress. October 2013.
HURRICANE SANDY/RISKY BUSINESS
STANFORD’s REPORT ON NATURAL GAS