Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Apologia pro vita vegan

The stuff below would make some sense IF CO2 was likely to subject us to dangerous warming but there is no way it could.  It does not even correlate with warming. So what is below is just a religious sermon

While the exact cause of emaciated polar bears captured in the controversial photos is yet to be proven, skyrocketing climate change has rapidly sped the loss of sea ice and thus seals that polar bears rely so heavily upon for energy demands.
We have created a crisis. Our planet, our land, our home. It is dying. To say that we have an environmental crisis, an emergency with the place in which we all inhabit, cannot be taken lightly. However, it is not just the mere fact that our actions have already led to the shrinking of our beloved glaciers and earlier flowering trees and will inevitably result in catastrophic climate change by 2030. It is not just the photos of what were once adorable polar bears, now shriveled down and emaciated to nearly nothing. It is not just the cruelty to our beloved domestic pets, totaling at 10,000 puppy mills in the United States and 1.5 million pets being euthanized each year in shelters. We cannot continue being so ignorant as to prioritize our selective concerns only towards the species we care most strongly towards. This dangerous mindset ignores the greater problem being faced. While most recognize the detrimental impacts of our emerging ecological footprint, our environment will only further deteriorate shall we continue our careless use of animal products and reckless means of agriculture.

Let us start at the surface. It is clear, starting with the easiest of questions, that abstaining from animal products would significantly benefit our suffering environment. According to a study published in the magazine Nature last October, due to population growth and the continued consumption of red meat, environmental pressures could spike up to 90 percent by 2050. However, research consistently suggests that by drastically reducing animal product consumption and living a more plant based lifestyle, we would be able to substantially reduce our impact on the environment. This means that we would require less energy, use less land, reduce greenhouse emissions, lead to less water being used, and cause less pollutants to be produced.

Greenhouse gases. Those two notorious words cover piles and piles of headlines on end of from the New York Times, the Guardian, and so forth. We talk about them endlessly, yet not enough thought is ever given to what we really have done to our environment. Now this concept, all this methane and carbon dioxide, has to be arguably the most significant impact of our mindless consumption of animal products. While we tend to discuss and blame the impacts of transportation, especially our beloved gas-fueled cars, on our environmental footprint, it is so imperative to understand how little they actually contribute in comparison to animal products.

When you drive to school or work, then to the grocery store, off to the car wash, go shopping at the mall, and finally head home at night after driving over to the gym, all of that gas spurting from your engine is still less than the emissions that brought your chicken and lasagna to your dinner plate. Your average nuclear family of four contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions from meat than from driving two cars on a daily basis. Even researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from a standard American diet to a vegan one is more effective in fighting global warming than switching from a standard car to a hybrid. In essence, the majority of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by animal products, with our food products accounting for up to 78 percent of total agricultural emissions. For example, beef alone is 100 times more emissions intensive than legumes.

However, this only makes sense, considering that cows need on average 10 kilograms of feed, often from grains, to grow only one kilogram of body weight. That feed requires water, land, and fertilizer in order to grow and animals like cows, sheep, and other ruminants emit especially high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane as they digest. In the end, you are no longer growing enough grains to feed yourself. You are growing about 16 times more grain, in order to provide the nourishment to fatten up that one hefty piece of meat on your table.

By reducing the amount of animal products consumed on a daily basis and switching to plant based diets, we could easily and significantly reduce our overwhelming greenhouse gas emissions. In 2014, a UK study was published in the journal Climate Change, where it was discovered that eating a diet high in meat resulted in a staggering 7.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per day, whereas vegetarians only contributed 3.8 kilograms of emissions daily and a minimal 2.9 kilograms daily by vegans. Similarly, in a paper by Joseph Poore of Oxford University, he discovered that going vegan would eliminate more than half of the carbon emissions from food production. As a result, simply limiting amounts of red meat and animal products has the potential for crucial emission reductions. Your 7.2 kilograms of emissions per day could easily be halved, simply with more thoughtful and environmentally aware choices.

Naturally these findings also raise the question of plants and their own faulty emissions. Does moving all of this energy and effort towards growing crops really solve the long lasting issue of emissions? If we all lived off legumes and soya products, would anything really change?

While plants also require inputs from the environment to grow, they require significantly less and their impact proves to be markedly less concerning. We do produce a great deal of soya, yet not in the purpose one would quite expect. In fact, 93 percent of the soya that we consume was fed to the animals that we later eat! If we were not so heavily reliant on animal products, a huge fraction of this figure would no longer be necessary.

Even with that in mind, producing that high amount of sustainable protein is not nearly as environmentally harmful as the counter option. In Poore’s paper, he compiled data from 570 studies, encompassing 38,700 farms. He observed 40 common foods and analyzed how much land and water were required by them as well as to what extent these foods were causing problems, such as groundwater and freshwater becoming more acidic. Through his analysis, it became clear that none of our common animal products are more environmentally friendly than the plant based alternatives. In fact, adopting plant based diets could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than half. That. Is. A. Lot. As Chloe Cornish summarized in the Financial Times, as a result of his findings, “Poore ate his last Pret a Manger cheese-and-tomato croissant and went vegan.”

As Tim Benton, from the University of Leeds, states well, “Most people don’t think of the consequences of food on climate change, but just eating a little less meat right now might make things a whole lot better for our children and grandchildren.” A day will come when we leave our children, then their children, then their children, and so on and on, to inhabit this planet. Our actions may seem minimal, but the difference between even one extra animal product each day will amplify into months of impact, which will become years, and turn into decades and generations. Our future children and grandchildren will be left to live on this planet. How do we want them to live? If catastrophic climate change is predicted in the next two decades, what will our mindless actions now bode for our grandchildren and their children?


The methane myth: Why cows aren’t responsible for climate change

Cows have become the bad boys of climate change — but their place in the global warming debate is unfair, says air quality expert Frank Mitloehner

From burping cows to grazing sheep, when it comes to global warming the finger of blame is invariably pointed at the livestock industry these days.

Animal agriculture is causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to rise, say critics, and if we’re serious about tackling climate change then we need to cut red meat from our diets and switch cow’s milk for nut juices in our tea.

It’s an argument that’s gained a significant amount of traction, with more and more people adopting vegan diets in response to repeated reports — including from the United Nations — that livestock are a major contributor to the world’s environmental problems.

But while animal agriculture is by no means blameless in the global warming debate, it seems the industry’s impact on the environment is not as significant as critics suggest.

Air quality expert Frank Mitloehner, professor of animal science at UC Davis in California, says the real problem the livestock sector faces is convincing consumers and policy makers that animals aren’t the bad guys of the global warming challenge.

Critically, he says there should be an urgent rethinking of methane to acknowledge the true impact of livestock production on the planet — before the sector’s reputation is destroyed for good.

The issue is partly down to the methods used to calculate livestock’s impact: The UN’s most significant report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, claimed livestock are responsible for 18% of GHG emissions, but the figure calculated emissions along the entire supply chain, from land use to processing and refrigeration in supermarkets.

Meanwhile transportation figures, which are regularly reported as 28% of all GHG emissions, only factor in direct emissions from exhaust fumes, ignoring processes associated with manufacturing machinery, or moving people and produce.

The methane budget

But perhaps more significant, however, is the lack of understanding about the methane famously emitted in cows’ burps, and how it acts in the environment.

While methane is 28-times more heat-trapping than carbon dioxide, methane’s lifespan is just a decade, while CO2 — known as a long-life pollutant — remains in the atmosphere for 1000 years.

After ten years, methane is broken down in a process called hydroxyl oxidation into CO2, entering a carbon cycle which sees the gas absorbed by plants, converted into cellulose, and eaten by livestock.

To put that into context, each year 558m tons of methane is produced globally, with 188m tons coming from agriculture. Almost that entire quantity — 548m tons — is broken down through oxidation and absorbed by plants and soils as part of the sink effect.

That means that provided no new animals are added to the system, then the same amount of carbon dioxide produced by livestock is actually used by plants during photosynthesis.

“That’s not to say livestock has no impact on climate, but we are not adding additional warming,” Prof Mitloehner says.


Pollution from ships is probably GOOD

Studies have found that ships have a net cooling effect on the planet, despite belching out nearly a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s almost entirely because they also emit sulfur, which can scatter sunlight in the atmosphere and form or thicken clouds that reflect it away.

In effect, the shipping industry has been carrying out an unintentional experiment in climate engineering for more than a century. Global mean temperatures could be as much as 0.25 ˚C lower than they would otherwise have been, based on the mean “forcing effect” calculated by a 2009 study that pulled together other findings (see “The Growing Case for Geoengineering”). For a world struggling to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 ˚C, that’s a big helping hand.

And we’re about to take it away.

In 2016, the UN’s International Maritime Organization announced that by 2020, international shipping vessels will have to significantly cut sulfur pollution. Specifically, ship owners must switch to fuels with no more than 0.5 percent sulfur content, down from the current 3.5 percent, or install exhaust cleaning systems that achieve the same reduction, Shell noted in a brochure for customers.

There are very good reasons to cut sulfur: it contributes to both ozone depletion and acid rain, and it can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems.

But as a 2009 paper in Environmental Science & Technology noted, limiting sulfur emissions is a double-edged sword. “Given these reductions, shipping will, relative to present-day impacts, impart a ‘double warming’ effect: one from [carbon dioxide], and one from the reduction of [sulfur dioxide],” wrote the authors. “Therefore, after some decades the net climate effect of shipping will shift from cooling to warming.”

Suddenly stopping geoengineering would be dangerous. Which is why doing so is unlikely.

Sulfur pollution from coal burning has a similar effect. Some studies suggest that China’s surge in coal consumption over the last decade partly offset the recent global warming trend (though coal does have a strong net warming effect).

It’s difficult to estimate how much the new rule could affect temperatures. We don’t know enough about cloud physics and the behavior of atmospheric particles, nor how diligently the shipping industry will comply with the new rule, says Robert Wood, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Another wrinkle is that ships emit other particles that can sometimes also stimulate cloud droplets to form, including black carbon, a major component of soot. Removing the sulfur from the fuel could alter the size and quantity of these particles, which could affect clouds as well, says Lynn Russell, a professor of atmospheric science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“So we can’t really say exactly what the change will be,” says Russell, though she adds that the rule change is “likely” to produce a warming effect on balance.

The upcoming change does offer a different way of thinking about intentional efforts to cool the climate, known as geoengineering, according to some proponents of research in this area. Rather than some radical experiment, deliberate geoengineering could instead be seen as a way of continuing to do what we’ve been doing inadvertently with ships, but in a safer way.

Sulfur emissions cool the planet in two ways, directly and indirectly. The direct way is that when sulfur dioxide is further oxidized in the atmosphere, it can form particles that reflect sunlight back into space. This happens in large volcanic eruptions, which can release tens of millions of tons of sulfur dioxide.

The indirect way is that sulfur particles can also act as nuclei around which cloud droplets form. Clouds, too, reflect more sunlight. You can see this in satellite images, which show lines of white clouds above the ocean along busy shipping lanes.

Geoengineering researchers have explored both processes, but with less toxic particles, as potential ways to alter the climate (see “Scientists Consider Brighter Clouds to Preserve the Great Barrier Reef”).

For instance, researchers with the Marine Cloud Brightening Project, centered at the University of Washington, have spent years studying the possibility of spraying tiny salt particles into the sky along coastlines to induce cloud droplets to form. The group has spent the last few years attempting to raise several million dollars to build the sort of sprayers that would be needed, in the hopes of carrying out small-scale field experiments somewhere along the Pacific coastline.

Both Russell and Wood said the upcoming rule change could also offer a chance to conduct some basic climate science by observing the interactions between airborne particles and clouds. Those insights could make climate simulations more accurate — how clouds behave is one of the least understood parts of the system, Wood says — as well as informing the debate about whether and how to carry out geoengineering.

But that all depends on whether scientists can get funding for such research, which will require more frequent satellite observations and surface sensors. Ideally, the research should start before the new rule goes into effect to ensure an accurate picture of how things change.

“We’re approaching dangerous thresholds of temperature increases, so an additional bump of 0.1 or 0.2 degrees is something that we as a civilization should be watching really, really closely,” says Kelly Wanser, principal director with the Marine Cloud Brightening Project.

Whether the money will be available is less clear. Certain nations have been increasing funding levels for climate research. But it’s become far more difficult to secure such grants in the United States under the Trump administration, which specifically sought to cut NASA programs that monitor clouds and airborne particles.


The $2.5 trillion reason we can’t rely on batteries to clean up the grid

Fluctuating solar and wind power require lots of energy storage, and lithium-ion batteries seem like the obvious choice—but they are far too expensive to play a major role.

If state regulators sign off, however, it could be the site of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery project by late 2020, helping to balance fluctuating wind and solar energy on the California grid.

The 300-megawatt facility is one of four giant lithium-ion storage projects that Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, asked the California Public Utilities Commission to approve in late June. Collectively, they would add enough storage capacity to the grid to supply about 2,700 homes for a month (or to store about .0009 percent of the electricity the state uses each year).

The California projects are among a growing number of efforts around the world, including Tesla’s 100-megawatt battery array in South Australia, to build ever larger lithium-ion storage systems as prices decline and renewable generation increases. They’re fueling growing optimism that these giant batteries will allow wind and solar power to displace a growing share of fossil-fuel plants.

But there’s a problem with this rosy scenario. These batteries are far too expensive and don’t last nearly long enough, limiting the role they can play on the grid, experts say. If we plan to rely on them for massive amounts of storage as more renewables come online—rather than turning to a broader mix of low-carbon sources like nuclear and natural gas with carbon capture technology—we could be headed down a dangerously unaffordable path.

Small doses

Today’s battery storage technology works best in a limited role, as a substitute for “peaking” power plants, according to a 2016 analysis by researchers at MIT and Argonne National Lab. These are smaller facilities, frequently fueled by natural gas today, that can afford to operate infrequently, firing up quickly when prices and demand are high.

Lithium-ion batteries could compete economically with these natural-gas peakers within the next five years, says Marco Ferrara, a cofounder of Form Energy, an MIT spinout developing grid storage batteries.

“The gas peaker business is pretty close to ending, and lithium-ion is a great replacement,” he says.

This peaker role is precisely the one that most of the new and forthcoming lithium-ion battery projects are designed to fill. Indeed, the California storage projects could eventually replace three natural-gas facilities in the region, two of which are peaker plants.

But much beyond this role, batteries run into real problems. The authors of the 2016 study found steeply diminishing returns when a lot of battery storage is added to the grid. They concluded that coupling battery storage with renewable plants is a “weak substitute” for large, flexible coal or natural-gas combined-cycle plants, the type that can be tapped at any time, run continuously, and vary output levels to meet shifting demand throughout the day.

Not only is lithium-ion technology too expensive for this role, but limited battery life means it’s not well suited to filling gaps during the days, weeks, and even months when wind and solar generation flags.

This problem is particularly acute in California, where both wind and solar fall off precipitously during the fall and winter months.

This leads to a critical problem: when renewables reach high levels on the grid, you need far, far more wind and solar plants to crank out enough excess power during peak times to keep the grid operating through those long seasonal dips, says Jesse Jenkins, a coauthor of the study and an energy systems researcher. That, in turn, requires banks upon banks of batteries that can store it all away until it’s needed.

And that ends up being astronomically expensive.

California dreaming

There are issues California can’t afford to ignore for long. The state is already on track to get 50 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2020, and the legislature is once again considering a bill that would require it to reach 100 percent by 2045. To complicate things, regulators voted in January to close the state’s last nuclear plant, a carbon-free source that provides 24 percent of PG&E’s energy. That will leave California heavily reliant on renewable sources to meet its goals.

The Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy policy think tank, recently found that reaching the 80 percent mark for renewables in California would mean massive amounts of surplus generation during the summer months, requiring 9.6 million megawatt-hours of energy storage. Achieving 100 percent would require 36.3 million.

The state currently has 150,000 megawatt-hours of energy storage in total. (That’s mainly pumped hydroelectric storage, with a small share of batteries.)

If renewables supplied 80 percent of California electricity, more than eight million megawatt-hours of surplus energy would be generated during summer peaks.

Building the level of renewable generation and storage necessary to reach the state’s goals would drive up costs exponentially, from $49 per megawatt-hour of generation at 50 percent to $1,612 at 100 percent.

And that's assuming lithium-ion batteries will cost roughly a third what they do now.


Guardian’s Monbiot Vilifies Shell Oil As ‘Planetary Death Machine’

The original moonbat

Left-wing Guardian columnist George Monbiot is often unhinged on climate issues. Now he’s blasted Royal Dutch Shell for extracting oil and gas that “will destroy our lives” and calling it a “planetary death machine.”

Of course, his "oil is evil" attitude ignored all that the form of energy did to enable modern civilization’s existence and improve human life.

Despite Shell’s choice to use $300 million “investing in natural ecosystems,” Monbiot was not pleased and accused it of committing “ecocide.”

On June 26, Monbiot bemoaned Shell’s 2018 net income of $24 billion and complained the natural ecosystem fund was “almost invisible” in its annual report. He was also angry that some environmentalists viewed the company as changing and “on their side.”

Shell’s decision in 2018 to “pour $25 billion” in investing in oil and gas likewise drew scorn. The Guardian complained that the company’s’ “cash engines” were oil and gas, and how it had no plans “to turn the engines off.”

What was infuriating to Monbiot was patently obvious from a business perspective. Shell has to make profits to reinvest or go out of business.

Since oil and gas are still making lots of money for Shell because it supplies the vast majority of the world’s energy needs, of course, the company would be mostly investing in the areas he so despises.

Monbiot accused Shell of committing to “ecocide” with continued chemical and oil production, and investments in “fracking and liquefied fossil gas technologies.”

He chastised it for daring to dissent from the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals which allowed “no room for new fossil fuel development.”

He didn’t bring up the possible benefits of fracking including lower energy prices, greater energy security, reduced air pollution, and fewer carbon emissions, according to Forbes.

The Guardian columnist cited the left’s favorite climate expert — the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — to fuel fears over the “climate breakdown.”

He warned that the IPCC pleaded for “immediate and drastic cuts in fossil fuel production” and asked all countries to “leave fossil fuels in the ground.” “The age of offsets is over,” Monbiot declared.

The Guardian column attacked Shell’s renewables effort as part of a deceptive “strategy” to fool environmentalists about “blatant greenwash.”

It called Shell’s partnerships with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International, and Earthwatch “wrong,” based on “naivety,” and compared that to the “national embarrassment” of British Petroleum’s (BP) association with the British Museum.

Monbiot’s left-wing extremism regarding climate and energy prevented him from admitting all the good oil and gas did the world for many years.

After all, this is the same columnist who ranted that capitalism was “incompatible with the survival of life on Earth,” and wanted to declare capitalism “dead” for the planet’s sake.

Wired magazine isn’t exactly keen on oil and gas either, but was honest enough to admit that oil was “uniquely convenient” thanks to its stability and energy density.

Before oil the world “had only a tiny fraction of the amount of heat, light, and power” as today, Wired admitted in 2009.



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