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Climate Solutions
self sacrifices for life - multiplication & exponentiation

Carbon Dioxide Just Passed 410 ppm
April 24, 2017

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has now exceeded 410 parts per million (ppm), as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii (410.28 ppm on Tuesday, April 18, 2017).

Carbon dioxide was recorded at 280 ppm at the Mauna Loa Observatory back in 1958.

It passed 400 ppm in 2013.

From Climate Central:

“The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease,” Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. “But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.”

Even when concentrations of carbon dioxide level off, the impacts of climate change will extend centuries into the future. The planet has already warmed 1.8°F (1°C), including a run of 627 months in a row of above-normal heat. Sea levels have risen about a foot and oceans have acidified. Extreme heat has become more common.

All of these impacts will last longer and intensify into the future even if we cut carbon emissions. But we face a choice of just how intense they become based on when we stop polluting the atmosphere.

Also last week on April 21st, Britain had its first coal-free electricity day since the industrial revolution.

Music Association: AC/DC - Highway To Hell

Hopes and Dreams

730,000 Elephants Killed From “Protected Areas”
Elephant Tusks Are Not Trophies

April 21, 2017

elephant plays with ribbon

elephant throws stick

According to a recent report, 730,000 elephants have been killed by poachers in 73 “protected” areas in 21 African countries. Elephant numbers are down by 75%. Every organization, every country that has failed to protect elephants should be more than ashamed.

China says it will ban its domestic ivory trade, starting now. Conservationists doubt China's resolve. And speaking of conservationists, is the World Wildlife Fund complicit?
Elephants are intelligent tool-using animals, long-famous for their memory, traveling with cognitive maps and having respect for the dead and dying.

Elephants can live 70 years in the wild, if people don't kill them for their tusks.

Music Association: Fleetwood Mac - Tusk
Free Comic Book:  Wild For Life by Diego Otero & Lisa Rolls

Concert Review
Steven Wright
April 7, 2017

Saw Steven Wright at the Ordway in St. Paul tonight. Sustained laughter past the point of pain.

He started by saying that all search parties are surprise parties. Then he led the audience on a search and surprise party through the curious, the bizarre, and the spots where Wright is long gone and the audience said WHOA and stopped in their tracks.

Wearing someone else's clothes because he took the first suitcase off the baggage carousel, Wright twisted and turned around the stage, trailed by his microphone cord, as he twisted and turned his way through conjoined terms and ponderings from long ago and last month.

The reason I bring him up is he touched upon climate change when he said he thought global warming was created by the end of the cold war.

Looking at the chart below titled Energy Consumption In The United States, I think he might be on to something. But then again, I'm recovering from hyperventilating.

5 stars?!? This might be the first 5 star review here.

Music Association: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

“If worst comes to worst... we're screwed.”  - Steven Wright

Hopes and Dreams

Permafrost: No Longer Permanent, No Longer Frost
The Escalation of Climate Change
April 6, 2017

Climate change can be divided into two sources: natural and anthropogenic, which means originating from the activities of people, everything I've been talking about in the earlier posts.
Climate Change 1900-2000 natural & anthrpogenic from EPA
When you look at the chart of climate change differentiating between natural and anthropogenic sources, the natural sources have been zigzagging in the same range while the anthropogenic sources have sent average temperatures up. For the past few years, each year has been hotter (on average) than the previous year.

In December 2016, methane watchers saw some extreme hikes in atmospheric methane, starting in 2007 but with big increases in 2014 and 2015. Concentrations of methane in the atmosphere over those two years rose by more than 20 parts per billion, bringing the total to 1,830ppb.

The anthropogenic climate change is causing a natural melting of the permafrost, breaking every rule of permafrost.

Permafrost Rules
1. Permanent
2. Frozen

Methane has been held back by the permafrost. And again, methane is much worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. “The radiative forcing of methane is 72 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 20 years) or 25 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 100 years). Carbon dioxide receives the lion's share of attention over greenhouse gases because it is released in much larger amounts.”
permafrost became the Batagai crater in Siberia
“Larger amounts?!?” nature asks. “I'll show you larger amounts.”

More carbon -- 1.7 to 2 trillion tons -- is in the permafrost than humans have released into the atmosphere -- 350 billion tons -- since the beginning of the industrial age. Permafrost covers 24% of the land in the northern hemisphere. About 70% of Russia's landmass is permafrost.

Craters have been appearing in areas of melted permafrost. The largest so far might be the Batagai crater northeast from Yakutsk. It's an expanding depression last measured at one kilometer long and 100 meters (328 feet) deep. Here's an aerial view and an inside view. Here's a view of some new Canadian depressions near Hudson Bay.

Last month the Siberian Times reported, 7,000 underground bubbles of methane “were poised to 'explode' in Arctic.”

Music Association: Modern English - Melt With You

methane (CH4) molecule

Hopes and Dreams

Multiplication and Exponentiation
Climate Solutions
March 31, 2017

A cigarette butt is flicked out a car window. One cigarette butt might not make a bit of difference, but if you walk along the roadside, you see there isn't just one cigarette butt. There are layers of cigarette butts.

Multiplication is at the core of climate change. One chunk of coal or one car is not going to make any difference to the world. The problem is that all the coal and oil, all the factories and power plants and cars get multiplied.

People want their meat, electricity, landfills, and to embalm their dearly departed. And all of that gets multiplied by many billion people.

Multiplication is the problem.

Multiplication is also the hope of climate change. It is our only hope.

There are big things and little things to be done. Do what you can if it matters to you.

Climate Change Solutions

1.  Convert Or Replace Coal Power Plants

Talk with companies and state lawmakers about converting or replacing coal power plants to natural gas power plants. Or even better, renewable power (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass).

Natural gas combustion produces about 45% less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than coal, emits lower levels of nitrogen oxides and particulates, and produces virtually no sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions. That's the good news. The bad news is that natural gas combustion is burning a fossil fuel, which emits CO2, unlike renewables or nuclear energy. Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere.

Methane in the atmosphere is eventually oxidized, producing carbon dioxide and water. In the atmosphere methane has a half life of seven years (if no methane was added, then every seven years, the amount of methane would halve). The radiative forcing of methane is 72 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 20 years) or 25 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 100 years). Carbon dioxide receives the lion's share of attention over greenhouse gases because it is released in much larger amounts. It is inevitable in using natural gas on a large scale that some of it will leak into the atmosphere. Current USEPA estimates place global leakage of methane at 3 trillion cubic feet annually, or 3.2% of global production. Direct emissions of methane represented 14.3% of all global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2004.” [sourcewatch]
U.S. energy consumption 1908 - 2015 from US-EIA
Coal power plants are part of electric utilities and industrial manufacturing. U.S. total energy consumption from 1908 to 2015 in quadrillion Btu's is charted on the right and broken out by type of fuel. From the looks of it, about 15 quadrillion Btu's of coal was used in 1945 and 2015.

Btu - a British thermal unit. The power of burning one match or burning about 252 calories or raising the temperature of a pound of water by one degree F. One kilowatt hour (kWh) is equal to 3,413.94 British thermal units or about 3,414 matches. A quadrillion is a thousand trillion (a million million) or a one with 15 zeros.

Here is a map showing new U.S. power plants to come online from February 2017 to January 2018. The four large nuclear reactors in Georgia and South Carolina will have issues due to this week's bankruptcy declaration by Toshiba-Westinghouse.

The top ten coal consumers in the U.S. (2015) are:
American Crystal Sugar Co                 (MN,  ND)
Archer Daniels Midland                       (IA,  IL,  MN,  NE)
Carmeuse Lime Stone Inc                    (AL,  IN,  KY,  MI,  OH,  PA,  TN,  WI)
Cemex Inc                                           (AL,  CA,  CO,  FL,  GA,  KY,  OH,  TN,  TX)
Dakota Gasification Company              (ND)
Eastman Chemical Company                (TN)
Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products     (AL,  GA,  OK,  WI)
Holcim (US) Inc                                   (AL,  CO,  MD,  MO,  MT,  OK,  SC,  TX,  UT)
Mittal Steel USA                                  (IN)
NewPage Corporation                          (MD,  MI,  WI)
share of global carbon emissions 1960-2015
Renewable power (US map) is increasing and has advantages over fossil fuels by emitting no greenhouse gases or in the case of biomass (plant material) no new greenhouse gases. Nuclear power and hydro electric require heavy infrastructure built with tons of cement which releases tons of greenhouse gases. Solar, wind, and geothermal powers release no greenhouse gases and require far less cement. When looking at solar or wind or geothermal energy, location matters. Google has a roof-by-roof sunlight map, Sun Roof, to estimate the solar potential of your community. Here is more information about solar affordability by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

2.  Buy Renewable Energy
The sun hits the Earth with 100,000 terawatts of solar energy. Most of that energy bounces off the atmosphere. The world uses 17 terawatts of energy. Solar energy has potential.

Use the Sun Roof and solar affordability links as part of your research into the costs of your very own solar power. Here is a wind map of the United States. I'm a big fan of wind.

But not everyone can afford to buy their own renewable power generators. 

Some or all of residential or business power can be voluntarily purchased through special renewable energy programs and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Many power companies sell solar power or wind power (like Xcel Energy's Windsource™) or cow power (like Green Mountain's Cow Power™). Here's a list of the Green-E certified renewable providers.

(Many of those companies listed are not generators of renewable power, so much as sellers of RECs.)

Kill a Watt, by P3, measures power use of devices
3.  Use Less Energy
Maybe it is the simplest or the toughest task to make a dent (as a community) against climate change.

Set your water heater to the energy-efficient setting. Wash most clothes in cold water and try to line dry, instead of drying using a clothes dryer.
Kill A Watt® is a small gadget for $30 that tells how much power different devices use when on or when off. It's plugged in between the device and the wall outlet. It's a good device to learn from, short term. It would be a great tool to loan in a tool loaning program. Basically, it teaches people to use power cords with a switch to switch off electronics that would otherwise continue to leech energy.

Use sunlight to read, otherwise use LED light bulbs. Listen to newly purchased bulbs to make sure they don't hum. Read the fine print for whether the bulbs are dimmable and whether they are designed for enclosed fixtures. Compact fluorescent bulbs use mercury, can generate heat, and are more likely (my personal experience) to make noise.

The carbon footprint of many things have been studied. Someone did a study measuring the energy used by copying multiple people into an email message. Reducing the number of copies of emails, reduces energy used. Downloading a 1mb file takes about the same amount of energy as a charcoal briquette.

4.  Have Fewer Children Or No Children Or Delay Having Children
This is the most forbidden subject of climate change. Climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufacturing by humans. The more people there are, the more greenhouse gases. As of March 2017, the world population is estimated at 7.49 billion. The world population is expected to double in 61 years. When Yitta Schwartz died in 2010 at 93 years old, she had 2,000 descendants, illustrating the power of exponentiation.

Climate change is all about multiplication. Population is all about exponentiation, raising a number to a power.

Not that everyone is equal. While China has the most greenhouse gas emissions of any country (29%), the U.S. has the most greenhouse gases per capita (16.8 metric tons of COper person in 2015). The carbon footprint of Americans is larger than any other humans.7.49 billion people

According to a 2009 Oregon State University study, each U.S. child ultimately adds about 9,441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent, about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which an average person is responsible. The carbon impact of a U.S. child, along with all of its descendants, is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh.

As part of Population Matters, David Attenborough said, “The growth in human numbers is frightening. I've seen wildlife under mounting human pressure all over the world, and it's not just from human economy or technology. Behind every threat is the frightening explosion in human numbers. I've never seen a problem that wouldn't be easier to solve with fewer people – or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more.” A more detailed discussion with David Attenborough is in the video, People and Planet - 2011 RSA President's Lecture.

This is not about making anyone feel guilty for having kids. Multiplication is the problem and the solution. The trick is being more of the solution and less of the problem. To paraphrase Steve Hofstetter, anyone can have kids; the trick is to raise good adults. Contraceptives are free in 46 countries but not the United States.

5.  Eat Less Meat
carbon footprint of foodThis is the second most forbidden subject of climate change. Livestock are among the top most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems (water scarcity, deforestation, habitat loss, soil erosion, climate change...) from local to global, according to the 2006 United Nations FAO report titled, Livestock's Long Shadow (wiki, ftp-pdf). Livestock are responsible for 18% or as much as 51% of greenhouse gas emissions, due to:
  •  Deforestation and land use change - 2.5 Gigaton carbon dioxide equivalent; including forest and other natural vegetation replaced by pasture and feed crop in the neotropics (CO2) and carbon release from soils such as pasture and arable land dedicated to feed production (CO2)
  •  Feed production (except carbon released from soil): 0.4 Gigaton CO2 equivalent, including fossil fuel used in manufacturing chemical fertilizer for feed crops (CO2) and chemical fertilizer application on feed crops and leguminous feed crop (N2O, NH3)
  •  Animal production: 1.9 Gigaton CO2 equivalent, including enteric fermentation from ruminants (CH4) and on-farm fossil fuel use (CO2)
  •  Manure management: 2.2 Gigaton CO2 equivalent, mainly through manure storage, application and deposition (CH4, N2O, NH3)
  •  Processing and international transport: 0.03 Gigaton CO2 equivalent

Livestock require food, water, and grazing land. Livestock, especially cattle, produce methane (CH4) as part of their digestion. This process is called enteric fermentation, and it represents almost one third of the emissions from the agriculture sector. Again, the radiative forcing of methane is 72 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 20 years) or 25 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 100 years).

Since the 2006 report, the United Nations FAO has yielded to pressure from the meat industry on climate change and announced a partnership with them in 2012.

manure emissions and management report studied methane and nitrate emissions by continent, by livestock, and by management technique. The only thing left is to thumb-through a Meat Atlas and watch the documentary, Meat the Truth (youtube).

By comparison, here is the carbon footprint of a banana.

6.  Less Air Travel or No Air Travel
Aviation causes up to 9% of greenhouse gas emissions, and emissions are rising fast. In 1990, there were 1 billion air passengers. In 2005, there were 2 billion air passengers. In 2015, there were 3.5 billion air passengers (chart). A plane with 300 passengers traveling from Paris to New York emits approximately 100 tons of carbon dioxide, or as much as emissions from 22 cars in a year. And because the emissions happen higher up in the atmosphere, the impact on global warming is greater than emissions on the ground.

At all levels of flight, planes emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides (0.05% by weight in jet fuel), unburned hydrocarbons (UHC), water vapor, soot and other particles. In addition to greenhouse gases, planes produce contrails, short for condensation trails. Contrails “are line-shaped clouds produced by aircraft engine exhaust, typically at aircraft cruise altitudes several miles above the Earth's surface.” Contrails increase the cloudiness of the atmosphere, for minutes or hours, adding to the greenhouse effect beyond the greenhouse gases emitted.

A 2014 Los Angeles study of air pollution 10km downwind from the international airport (LAX) found four times the air pollution (particulate concentrations).

7.  Less Cement
Cement production causes approximately 5-8% of global human-made CO2 emissions. Half of the emissions come from removing CO2 from limestone in a kiln at 1450° C. The de-carbonation of limestone emits 525kg CO2 per ton of clinker. About 40% of the cement production emissions come from burning fossil fuels to heat the kiln (about 300-350kg CO2 per ton of cement). Roughly 10% comes from electricity for raw materials and clinker grinding, and cement finishing (typically 50kg CO2 per ton of cement) and transportation. [wbcsdcement.org]

8.  Compost & Recyclecompost and recycle, don't throw it away
Globally only about 20% of municipal solid waste is recycled and about 14% is treated with energy recovery, while the rest is deposited in open dump sites.

Organic wastes in landfills release methane (CH4). Landfill methane recovery waits until the landfill unit is full (with methane emissions in the meantime), then the landfill is capped with cement, valves, and tanks to capture methane and other greenhouse gases. Methane recovery from landfill is cement intensive.

A worm bin is a microcosm of the landfill organic waste problem. Proper worm bin management involves stirring or flipping the worm bin, because methane is produced under highly anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions. A 2004 study found that unaerated composting produced as much as 24 times the amount of methane produced in aerated piles.

The best way to aerate compost is small piles. It is better for households to compost their own organic wastes than to send them to landfills.

Reduce what you receive by stopping junk mail. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has instructions on how to stop unsolicited mail, phone calls, or email. WikiHow also has instructions. RedPlum-SaveOn has an opt-out option. Stop pre-screened credit card and insurance offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.

9.  Stop Deforestation, Plant Trees
One acre of average U.S. forest sequesters 1.06 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. That means forests breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. In 1990, forests were 31.8% of land worldwide. In 2015, forests were 30.8%.

Deforestation accounts for 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Nearly 300,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in Brazil since 1970. Just in 2016, over 3,000 square miles were deforested, and Brazilian President Temer has plans to accelerate the degradation for mining and agriculture. Here is a map showing where forests have been lost.

Agriculture -- beef cattle, soybeans, palm oil (details, infographic, pdf), and wood products -- drives most deforestation, about 80% worldwide. The rest of deforestation is due to logging and paper product production, mining (aluminum, gold, & copper), subsistence farming and fuel production, and roads and dams.

What you can do:
•  advocate to stop deforestation - support zero deforestation
•  plant trees and native plants
•  eat less meat (livestock are a main reason for deforestation)
•  buy recycled wood or paper products (and recycle)
•  support the rights of indigenous peoples

Forests around the world have been home to Indigenous peoples for tens of thousands of years. When Indigenous peoples’ rights to traditional lands and self-determination are respected, forests stay standing. Too often, corporations and governments overlook or intentionally trample the rights of Indigenous peoples. The Waswanipi Cree of Northern Quebec are fighting to keep the last wild forests on their traditional land intact. The Munduruku people of the Amazon are battling a proposed mega-dam that threatens rainforests, a river, and their way of life.

Forest protecting non-profit organizations start with high goals but become entangled with the motives of fossil-fuel and deforesting companies. They stop seeing the forests for the trees.

Skeptically support forest-protecting organizations, mindful of partnerships with Indigenous peoples:

•  Rainforest Alliance (criticism) and their certified products program

•  Forest Stewardship Council - FSC (criticism) and their certified products program

•  Nature Conservancy (criticism) and their plant a billion trees program

•  World Wildlife Fund for Nature - WWF (criticism) and their forest programs

•  Greenpeace (criticism) and their programs to halt deforestation globally by 2020 and restore 500 million hectares of native forests by 2030

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) sounds good but when you read into it, the carbon offsets (forests are not a commodity), not defining what a forest is (plantations can be forests?!?), and the kicking out indigenous people in order to log wood and mine land is appalling. The REDD often does the exact opposite of protecting forests and preventing climate change:

10.  Advocate Against Climate Change and Bad Climate Practices
Spread the word about what people can do to help minimize the effects of climate change. Like I said at the start, it is about multiplication. Humanity can make a difference.

You can make a difference, if you really try.

Music Associationa: Sam Cooke - Wonderful World & Alanis Morissette - Eight Easy Steps

Hopes and Dreams

Apples and Oranges
Climate Change - Energy Utilities
March 25, 2017

Xcel Energy is the 12th largest gas and electric producer in the United States by market size, with customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. They are the 8th largest U.S. energy utility polluter with 56,506,228 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions in 2014, according to the Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index. That figure includes emissions they produced, not emissions that were part of energy they purchased. Xcel's CO2 emissions have been dropping since 2007, dropped further in 2015, and is expected to have reduced 30% by 2020 (with 2005 as a base year).

Xcel has a program called Windsource™, which allows business and residential customers to buy wind-generated electricity in 100 kWh (kilowatt hour) blocks or 100% of electricity for at least one year. The cost is $1 per block for residential customers. The number of customers utilizing Windsource™ was about 50,000 in 2015 and about 54,000 in 2016.

Since I signed up for Windsource™, I can say this Hopes and Dreams website is created with wind.

I recently wondered how other U.S. energy utilities compare to Xcel Energy.

Largest U.S. Energy Industries
Gas and electric utilities - market size (in $billions, 2016)Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index  - CO2 equivalent metric tons (2014)
1   Duke Energy                 53.1
2   NextEra Energy             52.8
3   Southern Co.                 45.3
4   Dominion Energy           43.2
5   Exelon                           31.4
6   American Electric          30.8
7   PG&E                           28.2
8   PPL                              24.7
9   PSEG Public Service     22.9
10  Edison International      22.4
11  Consolidated Edison    21
12  Xcel Energy               19.8
13  WEC Energy Group     17.9
14  Eversource Energy       17.6
15  DTE Energy                 15.4
1     Duke Energy                       122,474,576
2     American Electric                121,098,420
3     Southern Co.                      108,671,229
4     NRG Energy                       100,224,829
5     Berkshire Hathaway              83,939,342
6     U.S. Government                  74,687,012
7     Dynegy                                 61,183,427
8     Xcel Energy                        56,506,228
9     FirstEnergy                           56,050,031
10   PPL Corp.                            52,174,283
11   Energy Future Holdings         51,929,011
12   Calpine Corp.                       41,692,267
13   NextEra Energy                    40,023,063
14   ExxonMobil                          38,141,796
15   DTE Energy                          35,491,147

Comparing these U.S. power utilities and other energy producers is like comparing apples to oranges. And when you bite into it, there are some really bad apples in here.

Take Duke Energy. It's not just the largest power utility conglomerate in the U.S. It's the world's largest. And Duke is the top U.S. greenhouse gas polluter with 122,474,576 metric tons annually of CO2 and CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases. Its website has little to say about the environment or climate change. More information about Duke's environmental record is available at Wikipedia. Bad apple.

NextEra Energy is #2 in market size (U.S. & worldwide) but is down at #13 on the pollution index. NextEra operates Florida Power & Light and dots the United States and Canada with 15% of all U.S. wind capacity and 9% of all U.S. solar capacity. It is the largest wind and solar supplier in the world. Some of its wind farms in southern Minnesota may supply some wind power to Xcel customers. One of the few complaints against NextEra is that it has not paid much by way of U.S. corporate taxes because it invests so much money in renewable energy and can take advantage of renewable energy tax credits. Good apple.

Southern Company burns “21st century clean coal” which is ordinary coal with a rosier name than pollution rock. Southern is #3 for pollution and size. Bad apple.

Dominion Energy is improving. Dominion was responsible for releasing 1,110,703 pounds of gastrointestinal or liver toxicant emissions, 1,440,000 pounds of musculoskeletal toxicant emissions, 1,489,763 pounds of suspected respiratory toxicant emissions, and 1,478,383 pounds of suspected skin or sense organ toxicant emissions in 2002. In 2005, Dominion was ranked 19th with an air pollution toxic score of 117,712 (pounds released x toxicity x population exposure) by the Political Economy Research Institute. In 2008, Dominion was ranked 27th, in 2010 Dominion was ranked 51st, and in 2016 Dominion no longer made the top 100 of U.S. corporations emitting airborne pollutants. For the Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index, Dominion was ranked 16th. Good apple?

Exelon is the largest electric utility by revenue with mostly nuclear power. It generates over 19,000 megawatts in nuclear power with full or majority ownership of 17 nuclear reactors in 10 nuclear power plants. It generates 10,000 megawatts of natural gas & oil, and about 6,000 megawatts of other energy (hydro, solar, landfill gas, & wind). Exelon has operations in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Exelon is also not on the list of Greenhouse Polluters Index. Nuclear power has a cleaner, safer potential (according to PBS Nova The Nuclear Option from last January) than today's nuclear power plants. In the greenhouse gas criteria, nuclear power is clean. Goodish apple.

American Electric is the 5th largest power utility by size but #2 on the Greenhouse Polluters Index. In 2012, they tried to turn back renewable energy legislation as part of a clean coal coalition (I get it, coalition). Today, their website brags: “AEP’s carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) have been reduced 39 percent from 2000 levels, and we will continue to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as we transition to more natural gas and renewable resources in the future. AEP’s CO2 emissions significantly decreased between 2014 and 2015, largely due to low natural gas prices, slowing load growth, and coal unit retirements. AEP’s CO2 emissions were approximately 123 million metric tons in 2014; they were approximately 102 million metric tons in 2015. This represents a 16.5 percent decrease compared with 2014 and an approximate 39 percent reduction compared with our 2000 CO2 emissions of about 167 million metric tons.” Retiring coal units is a step in the right direction.

The fourth largest greenhouse gas polluter, NRG Energy, plans to “cut CO2 and CO2 equivalent emissions 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050 from a 2014 baseline.” David Crane, NRG Energy’s chief executive, said in 2014, “The power industry is the biggest part of the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, but it has the potential to be an even bigger part of the solution.

One of the biggest impacts anyone can make upon climate change is to help encourage the power companies (and other industries) of all sizes to cut CO2 emissions as quickly as possible. Energy customers should seek programs like Xcel Energy's Windsource™ program. As a community, we can make a difference.

Music Associations: Bad Company - Bad Company & Kansas - Dust In The Wind

Hopes and Dreams

By the Numbers
Climate Change
March 21, 2017

Since 1751, approximately 374 billion metric tons of carbon have been released to the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels and cement production. Half of these fossil-fuel CO2 emissions have occurred since the mid 1980s. The 2011 global fossil-fuel carbon emission estimate, 9.449 billion metric tons of carbon, represents an all-time high and a 3.4% increase over 2010 emissions. [Oak Ridge National Laboratory]

Carbon Dioxide (co2) Emissions from fossil fuels 1900-2011
Greenhouse Gas Emissions

64% = carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels, cement, & other industrial processes
10% = carbon dioxide (CO2) from deforestation
18% = methane (CH4) from livestock, landfills, fossil fuels (fracking), & deforestation
  6% = nitrous oxide (N2O) from fertilizer and manure, runoff, fossil fuel & biomass burning, & industrial processes
  2% = fluorinated gases:  hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), & hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) [Trends in Carbon Emissions, EC Joint Research]

Burning fossil fuels is the #1 cause of climate change, and of the fossil fuels, coal is the most polluting.
coal causes climate change
Blowing Smoke - Clean Coal

Burning coal produces noxious gases of nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury, particulates and ash. It's nasty to breathe and nasty in the atmosphere. At first people wanted less particulates and ash in the air so filters were added to power plants. After people noticed the effects of acid rain, the 1990 amendment to the U.S. Clean Air Act caused coal power plants to add limestone scrubbers to catch sulfur dioxide. The U.S. EPA issued mercury limiting regulations in 2011. Incrementally coal burning at U.S. power plants became cleaner than it had been but it is still not clean. All U.S. coal burning power plants release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, except one. On January 10, 2017, a coal power plant in Houston became operational that pumps its carbon dioxide into an oil well to help pump out oil. Maybe the oil comes out fizzy, I don't know.

Coal mining is biologically and environmentally destructive.  Burning coal results in fly ash, bottom ash, and slag waste in addition to greenhouse gases.

Blowing Smoke - Sustainable Cement

The cement industry is following the lead of the coal industry to clean up its appearance. Cement industry associations talk about a sustainable cement, which defies either the laws of chemistry or economics.

Cement production causes approximately 5-8% of global human-made CO2 emissions. Half of the emissions come from removing CO2 from limestone in a kiln at 1450° C. About 40% of the cement production emissions come from burning fossil fuels to heat the kiln. Roughly 10% comes from electricity and transportation. [wbcsdcement.org]

Blowing Smoke - the false solution of REDD

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) sounds good but when you read into it, the carbon offsets (forests are not a commodity), not defining what a forest is (plantations can be forests?!?), and the kicking out indigenous people in order to log wood and mine land is appalling. The REDD often does the exact opposite of protecting forests and preventing climate change.

Read more: REDD Monitor, REDD Gamble, WWF Scandal in Tanzania, and Ten of the worst REDD-type projects.

world deforestation 1990-2015 (click link for details)

air passengers 1970 - 2015 (source: World Bank) 
Blowing Smoke - Plane Facts of Aviation

Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation currently represent 5% of worldwide emissions – making aviation the world’s seventh largest emitter - a number anticipated to rise exponentially in the coming decades as more and more people choose to fly to their destinations. Today, an aircraft with 300 passengers traveling from Paris to New York emits approximately 100 tons of carbon dioxide, or as much as emissions from 22 cars in a year. And because the emissions happen higher up in the atmosphere, the impact on global warming is greater than emissions on the ground. Contrails of jet exhaust, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur, hydrocarbons, black carbon, nitrogen oxides, and water vapor add to aviation's impact on climate change.

One of aviation's answers to carbon emissions is to suggest pilots might take routes to decrease the greenhouse effects of air travel. Or purposefully create contrails.

airplane contrails at sunset

Music Associations: The Hollies - The Air That I Breathe & Anna Nalick - Breathe

Hopes and Dreams

Beware the Ides of March
Climate Change
March 15, 2017

First, 2014 was globally the warmest year on record.
Then, 2015 beat 2014, becoming the warmest year on record.
And then, 2016 beat 2015 which had beat 2014, becoming the warmest year on record.

Climate Change - hottest years on record

This has got to stop.

Global Warming world

Music Association: Little River Band - (Time for a) Cool Change

Pffft Winter...
March 2, 2017

Last fall, the fine people at the Farmers Almanac said the first part of winter would be colder than usual. What actually happened was rain on Christmas day.

We really didn't have a winter in any Minnesota sense. A high temperature of 60° in February is not winter.

And this was the winter Chicago had no snow. After 150 years of snowy winters in Chicago, they get none of the falling frost.

It is way past time for climate change solutions.

Springs here

Music Association: Kool & the Gang - Too Hot

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