Category Archives: BarnacleBill

What amount of Evidence is Needed to Act on Climate Risks?

Barnacle Bill’s Blog, 2/19/13

When is it time to act on Low probability but potentially high impacts: Sounds like the big risks from a hotter planet.

There exists a huge amount of scientific publications and virtually every climate scientists agree that our planet is getting hotter due to manmade GHGs (mostly CO2 from burning fossil fuels). (REF: NAS; NASA, NOAA: WMO: World Bank; every country’s equivalent to our National Academy, etc).

This extra energy in turn is causing rapid melting of Arctic ice and the Greenland glacier and net loss of ice from Antarctic ; & more frequent extreme storm events; & more prolonged droughts and massive forest fires and oceans changing acidity; etc. This leads to huge risks to humans and wildlife across the planet.

This is a risk greater than from Al-Qaeda and on a par with the destruction from a nuclear war.If we look at the doctrine espoused by former Vice President Dick Cheney, on dealing with terrorism. This was: “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.” “It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.”

The climate science and risk assessments are well over 1% chance of catastrophe changes and in fact more like 90% certainty. So what is Congress waiting for?

The longer we wait, the more expensive the solutions become and the hotter the planet and the greater the risks to our economy and our children.

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The End Game for Nat gas & Coal & Oil

by BarnacleBill, 20jan13Edit Link

What are the Options for fossil fuel industry to Drastically Reduce CO2 ?

Can we reduce CO2 without them at the table?


First, time is running out. E.g., PricewaterHouse Coopers: “7F is incompatible with organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’; is devastating to the majority of ecosystems and is not stable but lead to higher temperatures. …world needs RADICAL transformation… rapid uptake of renewable energy…sharp falls in fossil fuels or massive deployment of CCS…”

2nd: Where is energy generated in America & for what?   From US Energy Information Administration:


Note  that 93% of oil is for transportation. Note also only 9% (2012) is renewable; mostly old hydro. This is a mountain to climb.

The largest most concentrated energy use is for making Electricity = 40% of Total USA generation (of which 40% is from coal; 27 % Nat gas; 19% nuclear; 8 %Hydro = 94.5% and ONLY 3% wind and 1% each from geothermal & Biomass ; Solar is less than 0.5%

If we do not drastically reduce CO2 from a large % of Utilities & steel and cement plants then the planet will get much too hot. It does not matter how efficient in use we become, nor if we switch all cars to EV –these sites generate too much CO2. It is generation that must be controlled.

Ideally this would all be renewable energy; BUT with trillions of $ at stake and many good paying jobs & cheap Nat gas and 94% of the current energy generation – the fossil fuel industry will NOT just roll over and play dead.

Nor will the public support more expensive energy; until huge catastrophes with direct links to climate change are seen.

Thus, it is doubtful that we can switch to over 50% renewables or nuclear in the next 30 years fast enough to reduce CO2 without the option of CCS.

Currently the fossil fuel industry refuses to discuss the science or the risks. But they must be at the solutions table with CCS –if we have any chance in hell of dramatically reduce their Greenhouse emissions.

So what is the global status of CCS? A informative report is: The Global Status of CCS: 2012.

Key points: “CCS is the only technology available for decarbonisation in the iron, steel & cement industries “ – I would argue the Electricity sector also, unless you move to Renenergy or nuclear.

* This technology is being tested globally but most of the units are capturing CO2 for EOR (enhanced oil recovery) and not put into deep aquifers.

* The US emits approx 5.4 billion tons of CO2 every yr.

* There are only 8 large scale projects underway with 8 more in construction. Just 2 in the electricity sector.

130 must be in operation by 2020 to avoid 2 C temp rise

* Governments must provide regulations and money to make this happen

* While deep well storage is a well used and understood technique. Each formation is unique and requires millions of dollars just to assess each formation. And these should be within 100 mile of the capture point (e.g.: utility) for cost containment. These can be under the ocean.  Geological storage is the most important public perception challenge and greatest long term financial liability associated with CCS projects.

* Cost estimates should include both the capture & condensing of the CO2 and then transport in pipelines to deep formations . Thus costs range from 40 % to 100% increase in electricity . So early units will be pricey. But off shore wind and nuclear are also expensive. And they are probably more complex.

* Norway has opened a billion $ industrial scale test center for carbon capture (not deep storage). China has 5 locations working on scale up and burial; The USA should begin operation in 2014 at the Kemper county power utility and Canada at the Boundary Dam. These operations will “learn by doing.”  South Africa and Australia have large scale units under construction.

So my assessment is that we can fight until the temperature gets so hot billions of people die (and sea level washes away cities or famines set in) or we can work with them to encourage CCS as one of the key important solutions.

Yet, I never hear CCS mentioned by any advocacy groups. I suggest they are not being realistic. Perhaps I have missed something ?

What is CCS?

Carbon capture and sequestration is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) (various technologies ) from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it via pipelines to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an underground geological formation (with centuries of monitoring,tho the CO2 should react with the minerals and stay in place). Although CO2 has been injected into geological formations for several decades for various purposes, including enhanced oil recovery, the long term storage of CO2 is a relatively new concept.

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Did Climate Change cause Sandy ?


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Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy?

This is a short version of a article in Sci American- By Mark Fischetti | Oct, 2012 | Sci. American. Good insight into how a warmer planet does not act alone but has Huge contribution.  

If you’ve followed the U.S. news and weather, you have no doubt run across a journalist or blogger explaining why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.Image

Scientists have long taken a similarly cautious stance, but more are starting to drop the caveat and link climate change directly to intense storms and other extreme weather events, such as the warm 2012 winter in the eastern U.S. and the frigid one in Europe at the same time. They are emboldened because researchers have gotten very good in the past decade at determining what affects the variables that create big storms.

Here’s where climate change comes in. The atmospheric pattern that sent the Jet Stream south is colloquially known as a “blocking high”—a big pressure center stuck over the very northern Atlantic Ocean and southern Arctic Ocean. And what led to that? A climate phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—essentially, the state of atmospheric pressure in that region. This state can be positive or negative, and it had changed from positive to negative two weeks before Sandy arrived.

Recent research by Charles Greene at Cornell University and other climate scientists has shown that as more Arctic sea ice melts in the summer—because of global warming—the NAO is more likely to be negative during the autumn and winter. A negative NAO makes the Jet Stream more likely to move in a big, wavy pattern across the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic, causing the kind of big southward dip that occurred during Sandy.

Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.

These changes contribute to all sorts of extreme weather.

In a recent op-ed in Washington Post, James Hansen at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York blamed climate change for excessive drought, based on six decades of measurements, not computer models: “Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”

Hurricane Sandy has emboldened more scientists to directly link climate change and storms, without the hedge. On Monday, as Sandy came ashore in New Jersey, Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, tweeted: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? ‘Yes, Fueled by many factors’. Is the storm stronger because of climate change? ‘Yes.”

Now, as promised: If you still don’t believe scientists, then believe insurance giant Munich Re. Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance firms, issued a study titled “Severe Weather in North America.” “Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.” … While many factors have contributed to this trend, including an increase in the number of people living in flood-prone areas, the report identified global warming as one of the major culprits: “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”

Let’s remember that the Earth will not cool back for many thousands of years. And it continues to get hotter.  So storms will get stronger.

Someone asked me if they should sell their shore home. Of course there are lots of variables including how close you are to the water & elevation, resiliency of your house.  But i suggest the biggest issue is:  When will the general public make a shift in belief that many shore homes are at risk?   And stop buying.. 

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Why 2 + 2= 4; Not 5. Reply to Tea party opposition to Carbon Taxes

Reply by 4CP: Chester County Citizens 4 Climate Protection & Bluer of West Chester
To: The 6 Think tanks & 8 Tea Party Groups letter: “Reasons they Oppose Carbon Taxes” 12/26/12

Dear Pennsylvania Elected Officials:

We read with interest the recent letter sent to all US members of the House and Senate by 6 Conservative Groups & 8 Tea party groups (14CG- see below for names)-  Urging Congress to Oppose Carbon Taxes.

As constituents in your Districts representing grassroots organizations focused on Greenhouse gas emissions; We feel compelled to present a response to the speculative, misleading, and in some cases, false claims made.

We welcome a dialogue on these issues and would be happy to meet with any of their representatives. We believe that we share similar concerns for America’s future.

Rather than follow the order in the 14CG letter; let’s start with the most important issue: The science and risk assessments. Everything else flows from this. And let us remember that science and technology have been the major drivers behind America’s economic engine for 100 yrs.

First the Consensus on Science: Is the “fear from global warming overstated”? The 14CG provide neither references nor links to peer reviewed articles to support their misleading statements.
If you’re going to make risk statements that have huge consequences then you need to back them up. We have listed on the last page the credible Scientific sources we believe: (See the links at the end of this paper).
We also note there have been 13,925 peer reviewed articles on climate change in the last 25 yrs vs. 24 articles that made mention of other causes of climate change. The scientific consensus is Real.

Here are a few of the science statements, we urge you to go to their links below for better understanding.
National Academies of Sciences: “Man Made” & “Serious” & “Risk of crossing Thresholds that Result in Abrupt Changes”
The National Academy of (UK Royal Society & China & Germany, France; Korea; Japan; Sweden, etc) : “Seize all opportunities” to address global climate change that “is happening even faster than previously estimated.”
World Meterological Organization: “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities”
Ducks Unlimited:  “After examining the best available science on the issue, DU’s conservation staff has determined that climate change poses a significant threat to North America’s waterfowl that could undermine achievements gained through more than 70 years of conservation work.”

World Bank: “We are on track for a 7 F hotter world marked by Extreme Heat waves, declining global Food stocks; loss of Ecosystems & biodiversity; & life threatening sea level Rise & Risk of triggering Non linear tipping points”

• Pricewaterhouse Coopers: “7 F is “incompatible with organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’; is devastating to the majority of Ecosystems & is not stable but lead to higher Temps.” & “ World Needs RADICAL transformation… Rapid uptake of Renewable Energy, Sharp falls in fossil fuels or Massive deployment of CCS……….” Etc.

Second: Risk Assessments: The risk from global warming is greater than that posed by Al-Qaeda. The free market – which we support, is not capable of reacting to those forces that would destroy our way of life and threaten our children. A hot planet presents a huge threat to America and our way of life.
A hotter planet is very likely to cause lot of bad things: (prolonged droughts and massive crop failures; more extreme storm events; an acidic ocean in which fish and shell fish populations will decline dramatically; storm surges and a rising sea level will force large areas of the coast to be abandoned; and salt water contamination of water intakes for cities will be extremely costly; warmer winters are now allowing beetles to live and reproduce longer thus killing many millions of forests in the west leading to huge forest fires) and few good things. These impacts will be very disruptive and may destabilize our economy.

Water shortages caused by prolonged heat will lead to wars. Let’s remember that global warming is irreversible for many thousand years and we must avoid feedback loops like warming permafrost or huge loss of Greenland ice.

What the “14CG” must provide is an independent risk assessment of the scientific data and the potential for harm. Let the chips fall where they may. Until they support this, then their comments are merely speculative adding confusion to a serious issue.

Third: “Reducing US emissions vs. China and India will not stop climate change” We agree, a global effort is needed. First some perspective: America has 5% of the population but emits 25% of the greenhouse gases. And has been doing so for 100 yrs. Thus most of the C02 “out there” is from us. We now have outsourced a lot of manufacturing and now buy back many products from developing nations including China. Thus those CO2 emissions are being generated due to our demand.
In fact China is spending large amounts of money on lower carbon energy generation and now dominates the world in sales of solar PV & wind turbines and carbon capture & sequestration technologies and investment in new battery storage technologies. These are technologies and jobs that should be in America.

Fourth: Their comment that reducing carbon dioxide concentrations in the air will lead to lower crop yields is not valid. Please name one respected agricultural scientist who would sign their name to that statement.

Fifth: Their comment that carbon taxes will force substitution of wind and solar for fossil fuels- thus killing birds and bats is extremely misleading. The reality is that high rise buildings are responsible for many more bird deaths than wind turbines. Current site selection procedures avoid bird & bat migration pathways. The impact of white nose fungus on bats is million time more deadly than wind turbines. Please use real data.

Sixth: A statement that we agree in principle with – is that “promises of revenue neutrality will be broken”. This is a concern. We must insist that all politicians focus the revenues on reducing greenhouse gases and not for pet projects.

Seventh: Now for the final comment from the “14 CG” regarding “carbon tax killing jobs”.

Actually, the opposite is true. Economic assessments of proposed policy to put a price on carbon are in widespread agreement that the net economic impact will be small. Moreover the benefits outweigh the costs several times over.

Moreover, if we examine this from the perspective of leadership in innovation: once there is a significant cost on energy generation then virtually every corporation in America will work on techniques and products to reduce energy and move to lower carbon footprint generation sources. Every home and building owner will take steps to become more energy efficient. Every vehicle owner will assess their energy costs in purchasing decisions.

The defense of “Free Markets” should encourage innovators, not suppress them. America has lead the way in innovative uses of fossil fuel, however continued CO2 emissions pose a high risk to our economy and way of life. We agree that fossil fuels will remain the backbone of our economy for many decades, but the time has come to put in systems managing the huge risks while still generating and deploying clean power, energy and resource productivity and conservation.

There are millions of jobs in America waiting for money to be unleashed to develop extremely high efficiency appliances; vehicles; air planes; military weapons; heating and cooling equipment; advances in solar and wind and offshore installations and revival of nuclear.

Every product & service in every company will be closely examined with a new metric – the cost of energy and carbon footprint. We note that already wind power has more people involved than all of coal mining.

Finally, America is lucky to have abundant resources of gas natural gas. This will fuel a boom in very competitive chemicals and plastic production in the USA and low cost energy. However, in order to not heat the planet to death – the CO2 from its combustion must be captured and sequestered safely long term underground (or ocean). This technology will create many jobs and can be sold across the globe.

Thus Carbon tax – far from “killing jobs”- will position America for the next hundred years as the job creator king. And America won’t get so hot that our very civilization would be threatened.

However – a word of caution. The cost of energy will rise during the transition from burning fossil fuels to low carbon footprint energy generation. Off shore wind and utility scale solar are significantly more expensive than natural gas or coal (lots of reason and externalities not charged- but let’s ignore them for now). And CCS will be very expensive.

Thus there needs to be a energy strategy of phasing in low carbon sources and using cheap nat gas as the cost buffer. Utilities should be required to reduce their emissions of CO2 annually and the oil & gas industry should either pay for CCS or move to low carbon generation. Our children’s lives are at stake.   Thank You.

Bryan Hutchinson, President: 4CP; Chester County Citizens 4 Climate Protection
David Mazzocco, LEED AP for West Chester BLUER (

Who do we believe? – US National Academies of Science, NOAA, NASA, World Meteorological Organization, World Resource Council, World Bank; Price Waterhouse Coopers; Re Munich; & the equivalent of our National Academy of Science in Every developed country including UK, Germany, China Japan, France and the Vatican, & 98 % of climate scientists working in the field

Links and References:
NCAR: Weather and climate basics
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: Global Warming basics
NASA: Global Warming update
National Academy of Science: America’s Climate Choices (2011)

The UK Govt. has a good site on The Science of Climate Change (added Sep 2010).
The portal for climate and climate change of the ZAMG (Zentralaanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Vienna, Austria). (In German) (Jan 2011)

• New Scientist: Climate Change: A guide for the perplexed
• RealClimate: Response to common contrarian arguments
• NERC (UK): Climate change debate summary
• UK Met Office: Climate Change FAQ

Names of the 6 Conservative  think tanks and 8 Tea party Groups: The Heartland Institute; The American Conservative Union; Americans for Limited Government; Cascade Policy Institute; Barrett Kidner; Nashville Tea Party; Maryland Taxpayers Association; Freedom Action- Competitive Enterprise institute; the John Laska Foundation; The Tea party patriots; The Cherokee tea party patriots; the Tennessee Tax Revolt; American Tradition Partnership; The Liberty 21 institute.

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