Tag Archive | "global warming"

Tags: , , , , ,

Is There Cap and Trade in Our Future?

Posted on 18 October 2015 by Jerry

Countries are doing it. States are doing it. And groups of both are doing it. It only stands to reason that we (the U.S.) will be doing it some day, especially if the Republicans win. So what is a cap and trade program as it pertains to climate change?

There is nothing mysterious here, Cap and Trade is straightforward. An institution, a state or country, decides how much pollution they should be putting into the atmosphere and by what time in the past they exceeded their limit or at what level they will put a “cap” on their emissions. The objective normally is to return to some past level and better it by cutting emissions even further.

The institution normally gives out permits to various businesses. Those that put out emissions that stay just under their annual permitted amount see no change. Those that achieve targeted reductions can sell their excess permits to other businesses that need more time. In this way, companies can make money on the permits they can sell and other companies can buy themselves more time to achieve their required level. This is the business of selling and buying the permits.

Typically the cap is divided amongst various industries with each having a “cap” for their kind of business with all caps totaling the amount of carbon emissions the institution will allow to be generated during the year. The caps in each industry shrink over time cutting the industry’s overall emissions over a number of years.   In this way there is a belief that a cap and trade system gives all players another layer of motivation to achieve desired outcomes.

This sounds easy right, but it isn’t. The problem is that all pieces of the puzzle can be moved or changed to advantage various parties. So far California, the European Union and a host of other players have implemented different plans with a variety of outcomes. Others have announced plans they will institute in the future, like China.

Most people that have looked at cap and trade systems and other alternatives prefer a more straightforward tax on emissions. Never-the-less cap and trade systems are still favored by many businesses, politicians and by the finance community. They see them as something that can be “gamed” to an advantage by sharp people who can manipulate the political entities and regulators who set up and administer these programs.

Politicians and power companies like cap and trade systems because they mask that customer costs for power will go up dramatically. Their greatest fear is that the public will understand that the politician’s and power company’s actions are raising the consumer’s costs. The cap and trade mechanism hides that power companies will just pass on additional costs to its ratepayers as higher prices. This is a much sneakier way of raising costs for energy than just implementing an energy tax. No one wants to be the cause of higher prices.

Cap and trade has a checkered past. The California and European systems represent the best and worst of cap and trade plans. The European system is known as the Emission Trading System (ETS) and is the world’s largest such system.

There are more than 25 countries in the European Union and each country gave out too many permits to their industries. The politicians wanted to make their industries more competitive. Unfortunately they all felt that way and given they were afraid of their constituencies knowing they were the cause of higher prices, they all gamed the cap and trade system.

Critics point out that for much of the ETS history the prices generated have been so low that utilities have been dis-incented and made no progress on reducing their emissions. This is because they found it less expensive to run coal-fired plants than to switch to less polluting natural gas.

The California system is more successful because it is administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB). This takes it out of the hands of politicians and puts it in the hands of bureaucrats that will make it work. While it remains much more complex and still allows the politicians to hide from rising prices, it is much more successful and has elements that are being copied around the world.

We must be realistic. Whether it is the result of a direct tax or a cap and trade system, energy prices to consumers will go up as power companies pass increased costs on to the consumer. Smart politicians will act now and put the effects of their actions out in the future so they will not be associated with charges during their political tenure. We, and especially our children, will all pay for climate change and coping with it.

But if we know we are going to pay for it and that sooner is cheaper than later, we will support higher charges now rather than even higher prices later. This is where knowledge and willingness collide to produce progress. We must act. Very smart people once asked, “If not now, when and if not us, whom?”

Use the following links to access more information or see the original documents used as the basis of this article.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/air/the-political-history-of-cap-and-trade-34711212/?all

https://www.edf.org/climate/how-cap-and-trade-works

http://www.ehow.com/facts_7246784_pros-cons-cap-trade-system_.html

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/index.cfm

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/06/27/us/20090627-nat-climate.ready.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/us/politics/obama-to-offer-rules-to-sharply-curb-power-plants-carbon-emissions.html

http://www.carbontax.org/cap-and-trade-problems/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/20/europes-cap-and-trade-program-is-in-trouble-can-it-be-fixed/

http://www.technologyreview.com/notebook/414025/the-problem-with-cap-and-trade/

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=14411

http://legal-planet.org/2015/06/19/does-pope-francis-really-hate-californias-cap-and-trade-program/

http://www.chinabusinessreview.com/chinas-cap-and-trade-plan/

http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/index_en.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/26/world/asia/china-emissions-xi-jinping-limit-cap-and-trade.html

 

Comments (1)

Bright Idea

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Pope’s Visit Highlights Humility

Posted on 25 September 2015 by Jerry

The Pope delivered a message and was a prime example of humility to the Congress. Most of us were moved by his messages that pointed out we are each single human beings with responsibilities to find our highest values and act on them. All of the members of Congress could not help but put aside political considerations and seek a path to work together on the very special issues we are all facing. It is gratifying to see the Pope use his platform to highlight the worldwide dilemmas we face. As a human being, he is truly deserving of our admiration.

The humility he displayed was underscored by how he spent his time. His decision was that he would not spend his lunchtime with our legislators but rather have lunch with a group of homeless people served by a Catholic charity. This choice exemplified his priorities.

He stressed that as individuals we must protect other humans from adversity (or take care of people and realize what they are going through) whether they are refugees from Syria, Mexico or anywhere. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and empathize with the challenges they face. He changed subjects and stated we must protect the environment as the final shepherds of our planet’s wellbeing (or we must pool our collective efforts to deal with global warming).

While there are some areas that are still ripe for disagreement, the messages he gave were general enough to be inclusive of most of us. As an example he asked each of us to respect the sanctity of life, to protect life at every stage of its development. His remarks about the abolishment of the death penalty were consistent with his admonishment to respect the sanctity of life.

His remarks were also interpreted by some as a reference to abortion.   Whether you are a supporter of a woman’s right to choose or believe that life begins at conception, his point was broad enough to include most of us.

He reminded people to reject their tendency to paint all peoples, including those who have our adversaries in their ranks, with a common brush. We must not extend our dislike of individual actions to an entire population (we should not blame all in a group, for instance Muslims or arms traders, for the violent or illegal actions of a few within that group). We should love all peoples irrespective of members within these groups whose actions we don’t support.

He reminded us to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world. He restated that we must become our brother’s keepers who truly care about the well being of all others no matter where they exist in the world.

His references to great examples of faith included Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day (founder of the Catholic Worker Movement) and Thomas Merton (an American Cistercian monk). These were pious Americans who lived the essence of these beliefs. We also appreciated his reminder for us of the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Mt: 712).

No matter who you are or which belief system you accept, his statements resonate at a very personal level as a single human being concerned about the future. He picked issues of concern to all of us to include in his statements. We all hope that the warm glow of his remarks continues beyond the time of his departure.

There are so many things that we, each of us, must do. Ours is a time for reflection where each of us must ask ourselves what are we doing to further these beliefs or solve humanity’s problems. We have a common cause with Catholic beliefs to act consistent with our highest values in how we conduct ourselves and which issues we support and to which we dedicate our lives.

Use the attached link to access the Pope’s message to Congress. The link accesses the text of the Pope’s speech.

http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript/

 

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ozone Progress but India Pollutes China, U.S.

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Jerry

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, effective a little over 25 years ago has been labeled the most successful international agreement in history. Since the banning of substances that destroy the ozone in the upper atmosphere, we have seen concrete improvement or slight shrinkage of the Ozone Hole over the South Pole.

The agreement banned substances used in refrigeration (air conditioning, freezers, etc.) to do away with the ozone hole. Unfortunately, many of the substitutes, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), while sparing the ozone, “have a substantial global warming potential.” So says a July 31, 2015 article released by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD).

The article speaks to efforts to get the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG), the group of nations that have been meeting to monitor the original Montreal agreement, to take on the management of the elimination of the HFCs. This would put these parties directly in the middle of the climate change problem.

What gives this move its impetus in part is a working paper issued by the IGSD that says that a quick elimination by 2020 of these HFCs could prevent half a degree of world temperature rise by the year 2100. This is viewed as a significant contribution to progress of efforts to control global warming.

Once again there was disagreement over how best to tackle the issue. Whether it was best to deal with the HFCs in this group or give the issue to those organizations fighting climate change. The last few meetings of this group showed promise when several nations changed their positions. Led by India these countries put forward proposals to confront the problem. Pakistan however, blocked adoption of any one of the four different plans presented by stating that none of the substitutes for the HFCs would be an effective refrigerant against the heat in their country.

At the same time a report published in Nature magazine in its August 10, 2015 issue blamed pollution wafting across the ocean from India and China as the reason the West Coast of the U.S.A. has not made any progress in lowering the ozone pollutants in its atmosphere.  Citing the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory that undertook the study, Nature reported that this Chinese pollution was the reason the Western states of the USA showed no lessening of its atmospheric pollutants after reducing its production of ozone-forming pollutants by 21 percent between 2005 and 2010.

NASAs JPL said in its release that “Scientists from the Netherlands and from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California looked at ozone in the mid-troposphere, about 10,000 to 30,000 feet (3 to 9 kilometers) above ground level….In the mid-troposphere, ozone has a measurable greenhouse effect.”

Finally, scientists have reported on the Nature Geoscience web site on February 16, 2015 that they have discovered that a very short-lived substance, less than six months, is a significant contributor to the destruction of ozone. This article says, “Halogens released from long-lived anthropogenic substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons, are the principal cause of recent depletion of stratospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas.”

Their research results, “Show atmospheric levels of dichloromethane, a short-lived chlorine substance not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, are rapidly increasing. We conclude that potential further significant increases in the atmospheric abundance of short-lived halogen substances, through changing natural processes or continued anthropogenic emissions, could be important for future climate.”

We are seeing unprecedented success to keep the benefits of our ozone depletion fighting efforts. In fact, the choices our scientists have selected are contributing to climate change and they are being pressed into service to start helping with climate change as well.

At the same time we see that our world is interdependent. Our weather and the continued effort are worldwide phenomena and our responsibility. We see that India pollutes China that in turn pollutes the West Coast of the U.S. We also understand there is another chemical that needs to be covered by the Montreal Protocol in order to continue our progress against ozone destruction.

We must not forget the ozone depletion and the danger an ozone hole represents to life on earth. We must continue our forward movement. We must also continue to support those scientists and countries that are fighting to protect our ozone.

Use the following links to access additional information or the original documents used to formulate this article.

http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/biores/news/hfc-negotiations-under-the-montreal-protocol-inch-forward

http://www.mepielan-ebulletin.gr/default.aspx?pid=18&catigoryld=12&articleld=215&article=montreal-protocol-inches-closer-to-negotiations-on-hfc-phase-down (Scroll down on right to this article)

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n9/full/ngeo2493.html

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2015-263

http://phys.org/news/2015-08-china-exporting-ozone-pollution.html

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n3/full/ngeo2363.html

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

Faster Glacier Retreat as Court & Scientists Speak

Posted on 21 August 2015 by Jerry

Two independent reports give separate results to explain away the lack of increase in the average world temperature beginning in 2000 and lasting about a decade.   They both come to the conclusion there was no long pause in the rise of the world’s average temperature – in other words it kept rising.

The first study that was conducted by researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology said the apparent period of no growth was caused by a decade long shift of ocean heat collection to another area.  Their study found a heating of the top layer of water in the Indian Ocean with some residual heating still in the Pacific Ocean.  This heating offset a corresponding temperature stability or change in the rest of the Pacific Ocean.

This study shows the shifting heat from one region to another as cooler ocean water absorbed more heat to bring its heat into balance with the other oceans.  The research shows this phenomenon started in 2003 and lasted some ten years or so.  As a result you should conclude there was no pause in the rise of the world’s heat.  It was absorbed by another region of the ocean.

Researchers from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and LMI in McLean, Virginia conducted the second study.  It re-examined data and estimates used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It finds that the data trends used by the IPCC were less than was justified by what the data actually showed.  This was especially true for recent decades where “the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century.”  This data does not support the notion of any slowdown at all in the rate of global warming.

In related activities a top court has ruled that a country must increase its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.  The government of the Netherlands was ordered by a court in The Hague to increase its commitment to cut at least 25% of its greenhouse-gas emissions by the year 2020 from levels in the year 1990.  The upcoming European Union (EU) obligations would require the government of the Netherlands to target a 17% reduction.  The Court has ruled this level is not enough in response to a lawsuit brought by an environmental group named Urgenda.

Two more studies of glaciers have not given us any good news.  One study conducted by scientists at the World Glacier Monitoring Service completed an analysis of more than 47,000 separate observations dating back to the 1600’s.  They conclude that glaciers are shrinking almost twice as fast as they were during the late twentieth century.

A second study offers an explanation at least for glaciers in Greenland that explains their rapid rate of disappearance.  It appears these glaciers are more susceptible to global warming than was thought.  This is because the use of sonar under the surface of the ocean has shown that the glaciers go hundreds of meters farther down under the water than previously thought or reflected on maps.  This allows their ice to come into greater contact with the warmer layers of water in the Atlantic Ocean.  This produces more melting of the glaciers than previously thought.

All of this shrinkage does not bode well for coastal areas around the world that are concerned about rising ocean levels.  They were hoping for at least some refuge from global warming and its negative effects.  This does not appear to be the case and will prompt continued monitoring of melting ice and the resulting sea levels around the world.

Of course the solution to this problem is to decrease temperature rise by putting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  In other words we must slow the rate of global climate change.

Use the following links to access additional information or look at the original documents used to prepare this article.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6247/532.abstract?sid=8561f70d-3348-4558-9014-aaf361a2fb57

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6242/1469.abstract?sid=d0f4aa33-6a47-45a9-ad7e-9cfc12a808f9

http://www.nature.com/news/landmark-court-ruling-tells-dutch-government-to-do-more-on-climate-change-1.17841

http://www.nature.com/news/the-week-in-science-7-13-august-2015-1.18155 (scroll down to Trend Watch)

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v524/n7563/full/524009a.html

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Politics & Pope Speak to Failure of Climate Efforts

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jerry

The fact that greater promises came from the G7 countries (without specifics) and pointed religious pleas from the Pope are at the forefront of our news show we are running out of time.  These pronouncements indicate the growing fear of the world’s leaders that not enough is being done to respond to climate change.  It marks an effort by those concerned about the rising temperatures of the world to drown out the climate deniers who have so far successfully blocked meaningful progress to limit the use of fossil fuels.

In rapid-fire succession on June 8, 2015 the G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States) agreed and announced a target of reducing greenhouse emissions to 70% of 2010 levels by 2050 to help the world achieve its climate goals.  In a very short number of days, on June 18, 2015, the Pope released his climate change “Encyclical”, a wide-ranging document that called for immediate progress on Climate Change.

It is easy to be critical of both efforts, those of the G7 and the Pope.  The G7 objective can be criticized as not as ambitious as it sounds.  Both the United States and the United Kingdom have already announced cuts that would be bigger.  The United States committed to an 83% cut of greenhouse gas emissions based on 2005 levels by 2050 and the U.K. has said it will reduce emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by mid century.

This criticism ignores that the G7 objective commits Japan and Canada to major cuts.  Both countries have been identified as laggards and have here-to-fore not lined up to fight climate change.  This agreement at least gets both countries committed to progress in controlling global warming.

Detractors further cited the International Energy Agency (IEA) that recently stated the present agreement only provides the planet another 8 months of runway compared to projected increases in the absence of these reductions.  The IEA observed that the present commitments will only keep the world’s temperature under the 2° C objective until approximately 2040 when it will continue rising.  Unless further progress is made, the world’s temperature is estimated to rise to a minimum of 2.6° C.

The Pope’s climate change Encyclical can be criticized by detractors as taking the Catholic Church into an issue that is primarily political and not religious.   It can also be said to be an opportunistic move to attack capitalism’s profit motive, a rich country refusal to help the world’s poor and various plans for cap and trade systems.

These criticisms aside, the Pope’s Encyclical does reiterate the scientific conclusions that the temperatures of the world are rising, climate change is the cause and mankind’s commitment to burning fossil fuels is the major contributing cause of climate change.  It is useful to remember that the Pope’s college training is in chemistry.  The hope is that the Pope’s position, if not silencing the opposition, will cause the deniers to keep their doubts to themselves.  The hope is that it will move deniers out of the way of meaningful progress to slow climate change.

A recent article appearing in the Guardian on June 18, 2015 states, “Even among Catholics in the US, views on global warming are sharply divided along political lines.  A recent survey by Pew Research showed that Catholic Republicans view the nearly universally accepted scientific facts with deep skepticism.”

The article continued, “Overall, the survey found that 71% of US Catholics believe the earth is warming, and about half (47%) believe humans are the cause and it is a serious problem.  But while eight in 10 Catholic Democrats say that there is solid evidence that global warming is real, only about half of Catholic Republicans agree.  Far fewer – just a quarter of Catholic Republicans – believe that global warming is caused by humans.”

It is hoped the Pope’s Encyclical will help convince the bulk of the world’s Catholics to support the steps necessary to make progress on climate change.  There is common belief the Pope’s pronouncements will constructively lead to what needs to be done.

This does not obscure that the world is not making enough meaningful change to keep us at or under the scientific goal of keeping our average world temperature rise to less than 2° Celsius.  Many scientists believe that if nothing changes we are on a course to go up to or over 4° Celsius by the end of the century.  When speaking about the G7 goals Jennifer Morgan, director of the global climate programme of the World Resources Institute said that hitting the 2° Celsius target would depend on how quickly reductions could be implemented.

She said, “It totally depends on the pace of decarburization.   You either need to be there by 2050 for CO2 and a bit later for all greenhouse gases if you want a high chance of staying below the 2C.  If you’re up for a 66% chance then you go longer out into the century.”

We are still waiting for actual action to show a worldwide, united approach to climate change.  After all it has been 18 years since the last formal world “agreement” to limit climate change.  Some progress has been made as a result of Obama’s actions but much more needs to be done by the politicians who claim they are running things.  So far, in my mind the European Union has been the clear leader in making progress to limit climate change.  However, everyone needs to do more.

Use the following links to gain further information of the Pope’s Encyclical or the G7 commitments or see the source documents used to prepare this article.

http://www.nature.com/news/tough-targets-1.17717

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-deal-likely-paris-2015-conference-after-g7-decarbonization-pledge-says-sir-david-king-1505488

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/g7-leaders-pledge-action-climate-change-142246221.html#pdxyT3A

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-27/germany-seeks-g7-climate-financing-pledge-to-aid-poorest-nations

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/15/pope-francis-encyclical-leaked_n_7587392.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/18/popes-climate-change-encyclical-calls-on-rich-nations-to-pay-social-debt

http://www.nature.com/news/why-the-pope-s-letter-on-climate-change-matters-1.17800#/fossilfuels

http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2015/06/climate-report-introduces-sobriety-paris-talks

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here
September 2017
S M T W T F S
« Feb    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930