Jim Morin at the Miami Herald demonstrates why gasoline prices rise

May 6, 2012

Jim Morin of the Miami Herald, via the National Journal.  Here’s  a near-real-time demonstration of why gasoline prices rise so dramatically.

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Jim Morin at the Miami Herald demonstrates why …, posted with vodpod

Robert Redford, for NRDC, on the Keystone Pipeline fight

February 24, 2012

My old sometime nemesis and rescuer Robert Redford keeps chugging along — getting sharper, politically, as he ages, I think.

Here’s his succinct summary of the Keystone Pipeline issue so far — with a plea for funds for the NRDC tacked on.  Any factual errors?

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Annals of Global Warming: Planetary energy budget, for beginners, and climate engineering — from GAO

December 28, 2011

From the General Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, a report to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Aug 25, 2011
01:16

Global Average Energy Budget of the Earth’s Atmosphere

In eight steps, this animation depicts the path of sunlight that enters the planet’s atmosphere, illustrating how that radiation is reflected, absorbed, and emitted as heat energy.

In less than 90 seconds, an animated, graphic description of how and why global warming occurs.  You didn’t get it in 90 seconds?  Watch it again.  This video was made to accompany a GAO report on climate engineering. (Emphasis added, in red.)

Climate Engineering: Technical Status, Future Directions, and Potential Responses

GAO-11-71, Aug 25, 2011

[135-page report, in .pdf, here]

Summary:  Reports of rising global temperatures have raised questions about responses to climate change, including efforts to (1) reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, (2) adapt to climate change, and (3) design and develop climate engineering technologies for deliberate, large-scale intervention in Earth’s climate. Reporting earlier that the nation lacks a coordinated climate-change strategy that includes climate engineering, GAO now assesses climate engineering technologies, focusing on their technical status, future directions for research on them, and potential responses. To perform this technology assessment, GAO reviewed the peer-reviewed scientific literature and government reports, consulted experts with a wide variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, and surveyed 1,006 adults across the United States. Experts convened with the assistance of the National Academy of Sciences advised GAO, and several reviewed a draft of this report. GAO incorporated their technical and other comments in the final report as appropriate.

Climate engineering technologies do not now offer a viable response to global climate change. Experts advocating research to develop and evaluate the technologies believe that research on these technologies is urgently needed or would provide an insurance policy against worst case climate scenarios–but caution that the misuse of research could bring new risks. Government reports and the literature suggest that research progress will require not only technology studies but also efforts to improve climate models and data. The technologies being proposed have been categorized as carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM). CDR would reduce the atmospheric concentration of CO2, allowing more heat to escape and thus cooling the Earth. For example, proposed CDR technologies include enhancing the uptake of CO2 in oceans and forests and capturing CO2 from air chemically for storage underground. SRM technologies would place reflective material in space or in Earth’s atmosphere to scatter or reflect sunlight (for example, by injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere to scatter incoming solar radiation or brightening clouds) or would increase the planet’s reflectivity (for example, by painting roofs and pavements in light colors). GAO found these technologies currently immature, many with potentially negative consequences. Some studies say, for example, that stratospheric aerosols might greatly reduce summer precipitation in places such as India and northern China. Many experts advocated research because of its potential benefits but also recognized its risks. For example, a country might unilaterally deploy a technology with a transboundary effect. Research advocates emphasized the need for risk management, envisioning a federal research effort that would (1) focus internationally on transparency and cooperation, given transboundary effects; (2) enable the public and national leaders to consider issues before they become crises; and (3) anticipate opportunities and risks. A small number of those we consulted opposed research; they anticipated major technology risks or limited future climate change. Based on GAO’s survey, a majority of U.S. adults are not familiar with climate engineering. When given information on the technologies, they tend to be open to research but concerned about safety.

Transcript of the video, describing each slide, below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Daily-floggings-will-continue Dept.: Alaska Rep. Don Young melts down, takes it out on famous historian Douglas Brinkley

December 1, 2011

Dr. Douglas Brinkley writes history, and teaches.   In the last decade he’s been one of our premiere historians of conservation and wilderness preservation, especially as started by Theodore Roosevelt.

The issue at the hearing was the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One may get a whiff of “skeptic” desperation at the hearing — Brinkley’s written a book on wilderness protection.  That’s why he was called to testify.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Eli Rabett.  He’s right — it’s tough to improve on the straight dope, the unexpurgated version.  So most of this post is borrowed from the Bunny’s Spartan, laconic post of this same material.

And the Big Bunny is correct that MSNBC’s interview of Brinkley following the hearing is good to see and hear.

More, Resources: 


Obama unchained oil and gas exploration in the U.S.?

November 22, 2011

Anyone who votes Democrat regularly gets the “told you so” e-mails from Republicans making claims about how bad things are under President Obama.

One favorite, hoax meme is the claim that Obama hurt energy exploration in the U.S.  One friend e-mails me at least once a month with a claim that Obama has done something to frustrate drilling for oil in the U.S., usually accompanied with a political pitch that all we need to do is drill the hell out of Alaska, kill the caribou, and allow pollution of the Gulf of Mexico, and we’ll be independent of Middle Eastern oil forever.

Here’s the ugly secret they don’t want to tell you — heck, they probably don’t know:  Total oil rig count is way up under Obama from when he took office, increasing at a rate about double that of the previous Bush administration.

Under President Obama, oil and gas exploration in the U.S. is greatly increased.

Here’s the most recent rig count report from WTRG Economics, highlighting added:

North American Rotary Rig Counts

The U.S. rotary rig count was down 15 rigs at 2,001 for the week of November 18, 2011. It is 324 rigs (19.6%) higher than last year. 

The number of rotary rigs drilling for oil decreased 8 to 1,125. There are 394 more rigs targeting oil than last year. Rigs drilling for oil represent 56.2% percent of all drilling activity. 

Rigs directed toward natural gas were down 6 at 871. The number of rigs currently drilling for gas is 65 lower than last year’s level of 936.

Year-over-year oil exploration in the U.S. is up 53.9 percent. Gas exploration is down 6.9 percent. The weekly average of crude oil spot prices is 20.8 percent higher than last year and natural gas spot prices are 16.8 percent lower.

Tuesday a week ago I joined the high school economics teachers dining at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, the annual “Night at the Fed” event.  The bank brought in Keith Phillips, a Senior Economist and Advisor from the San Antonio Branch to talk about “Where Will Your Students Find Jobs?”

One of his charts showed drill rig counts since 2000, on a slide, “Drilling Rig Count has Surged to High Levels.”  Among other things, that partly explains why Texas was not so severely hit with the recession as the rest of the nation (though jobless counts in the past couple of months suggest Texas may catch up).

Sitting at the front table I could not help but be impressed with the rig count line.  In 2000, when Bush came to office, there were about 300 active drilling rigs in the country, in oil and gas.  Over seven years that count rose to about 1,000, then plunged in Bush’s last year in the economic downturn.

Obama came into office with a drill rig count just slightly higher than Bush had two terms previously.  In three years, drill rig counts have climbed to near the height of the Bush administration’s best year, just under 1,000 (if I’m reading the chart correctly — and the piece above suggests I am).

Here’s the chart from Baker-Hughes — showing about the same rig count Dr. Phillips showed:

Baker-Hughes Drill Rig Count, November 2011 (back to 2000)

Baker-Hughes Drill Rig Count, November 2011 (back to 2000) - click the image to go to WTRG Economics site and current chart

Here’s a more colorful, more clear version from EnergyDigger.com:

Drill Rig Count history from Energy Digger.com, November 18, 2011

Drill Rig Count history from Energy Digger.com, November 18, 2011

In other words, drill rigs have increased in the three years of the Obama administration at about double the rate of increase of the Bush administration.

When does Obama get credit for the increase in oil and gas exploration in the U.S. in his administration?

More, Resources: 


“Out of Yellowstone,” Nature Conservancy film on surviving the winter, and surviving the future

September 19, 2011

It seems like just a few months ago that Kathryn the Trophy Wife™ and I honeymooned in Yellowstone National Park, for a glorious January week.  On more than one occasion we had Old Faithful all to ourselves — it seemed like such an indulgence.

Seems just a few months ago, but that was before the 1988 fires, before our 1989 vacation there, before our 2004 ceremony casting the ashes of brother Jerry and his wife Barbara to the Yellowstone winds.

Will Yellowstone be there for our children, and for our grandchildren, as it has been for my lifetime?  The Nature Conservancy produced a 16-minute film showing much of the glory of winter of the place, and talking about the problems.

For the deer, elk and pronghorn in and around Yellowstone National Park, surviving the winter means finding adequate food and areas with low snow accumulation. But this critical winter range is increasingly threatened by energy and residential development. At stake is the very future of the Greater Yellowstone region’s iconic wildlife. This film highlights the voices of those working together to save these magnificent herds: ranchers, conservationists, scientists and others. http://www.nature.org/yellowstone

Growing up in the Mountain West, I learned to appreciate the stark beauty of the cold northern desert — but seldom is that beauty captured on film so well as it is here.  Phlogiston Media, LLC, made a remarkable, beautiful film, about a remarkable, beautiful land threatened by gritty, banal and mundane development.

This movie has been viewed only 542 times when I posted it.  Spread the word, will you?


Fighting global warming would save energy, cost less, and create jobs

September 12, 2011

From the Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

Of course this flies right in the face of most conservative, and denialist, claims about fighting global warming.


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