Monday, September 17, 2018

Coastal wetlands not endangered by sea-level rise

The academic article below endeavours to look at all the factors that might be at work if the sea level rises.  The simplistic Greenie claims that X amount of sea level rise will cause X amount of land loss is dismissed in favour of real science.  And the conclusion is surprising.  Sediment buildup is likely to keep the land level where it is.  The area flooded ("accommodation space") will have all sorts of complex structures and features which will tend to catch sediment  -- and active  measures could also be taken to increase the sediment trapping  ability of the area, further insuring no wetland loss

Future response of global coastal wetlands to sea-level rise

Mark Schuerch et al.


The response of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise during the twenty-first century remains uncertain. Global-scale projections suggest that between 20 and 90 per cent (for low and high sea-level rise scenarios, respectively) of the present-day coastal wetland area will be lost, which will in turn result in the loss of biodiversity and highly valued ecosystem services1,2,3.

These projections do not necessarily take into account all essential geomorphological4,5,6,7 and socio-economic system feedbacks8. Here we present an integrated global modelling approach that considers both the ability of coastal wetlands to build up vertically by sediment accretion, and the accommodation space, namely, the vertical and lateral space available for fine sediments to accumulate and be colonized by wetland vegetation.

We use this approach to assess global-scale changes in coastal wetland area in response to global sea-level rise and anthropogenic coastal occupation during the twenty-first century. On the basis of our simulations, we find that, globally, rather than losses, wetland gains of up to 60 per cent of the current area are possible, if more than 37 per cent (our upper estimate for current accommodation space) of coastal wetlands have sufficient accommodation space, and sediment supply remains at present levels.

In contrast to previous studies1,2,3, we project that until 2100, the loss of global coastal wetland area will range between 0 and 30 per cent, assuming no further accommodation space in addition to current levels. Our simulations suggest that the resilience of global wetlands is primarily driven by the availability of accommodation space, which is strongly influenced by the building of anthropogenic infrastructure in the coastal zone and such infrastructure is expected to change over the twenty-first century.

Rather than being an inevitable consequence of global sea-level rise, our findings indicate that large-scale loss of coastal wetlands might be avoidable, if sufficient additional accommodation space can be created through careful nature-based adaptation solutions to coastal management.

Nature volume 561, pages231–234 (2018)

Bloom Energy: A Bloomdoggle

The public vaguely remembers and little understands even the spectacular green project failures that cost investors and taxpayers tens of billions, largely because they are rarely presented in everyday terms.

But that is changing as the public becomes more aware of Bloom’s involvement in the D.C. swamp, crony deals and pollution problems. That could ordain Bloom as an example of deep-rooted green energy corruption — and launch resistance against these programs.

Bloom customers include America’s most prestigious corporate brands. AT&T, Google, eBay, Apple, Amazon, Staples and others have helped Bloom cultivate a well-polished image, enhanced by ads extolling the companies as virtuous early adopters of climate-protecting green energy technologies. Contradictions to this narrative are obscured but abundant.

Bloom survives on federal and state subsidies. Its S-1 Registration Statement states: “Our business currently depends on the availability of rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives.”

Ideally, subsidies enable new technologies. But government entities decide which technologies deserve largesse, at what levels and under what terms. This makes subsidies highly political, and subject to shifting political circumstances.

For example, after years of dependence, Bloom lost its 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC) in late 2016. Sales plummeted.

But with Kleiner Perkins, other lobbyists and senators like Tom Carper, Delaware Democrat, and Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, promoting Bloom’s virtues, Congress reinstated Bloom’s ITC in the 2017 tax bill and even made it retroactive. Bloom rebounded and the IPO was feasible. The swamp delivered.

Bloom makes solid oxide fuel cells that use an electrochemical reaction to convert natural gas into electricity at the customer’s site. On-site generation is called “distributed” or “behind-the-meter” energy. It eliminates costs, complexities and inefficiencies associated with long-distance transmission and distribution from large power plants, which lose about 7% of their generated electricity over power lines.

Distributed energy users avoid that power loss and, proportionally, the costs of maintaining utility transmissions lines. But the fixed maintenance costs are divided among smaller groups of users, causing electric rates to rise proportionally.

Solar panels on the rich family’s roof (distributed energy) are proportionally paid for by the worker who installed the subsidized panels. By installing Bloom technology, Apple benefits, but its employees and customers’ communities experience rising electric bills. These households cannot afford to play the fuel cell game. They just pay for it.

These and other factors were exposed in Delaware, where Bloom cut a sweet deal in 2012. For $12 million, a $1/year land lease for a factory and a 21-year arrangement for selling Bloom-generated electricity — all courtesy of state ratepayers and taxpayers — Bloom agreed to build a factory and bring 900 high-paying, allegedly clean-energy manufacturing jobs to Delaware.

To date, Bloom has created only 277 Delaware jobs; the rest are in India. Bloom was penalized $1.5 million for missing its jobs target. This was peanuts considering that Bloom has received $190 million under the electricity sales agreement, which has 16 more years to go.

Billions of taxpayer dollars subsidize wind, solar and other green projects like Bloom. These projects are complex and never explained or displayed in a homeowner’s electric bill. However, in Delaware Bloom’s costs are prominently displayed on every monthly electric bill, along with solar and wind costs.

Consumers (and voters) are increasingly upset, as they realize that Bloom’s original forecast of $0.70 per household has ballooned to $5.00 a month, and still rising. Bloom under-delivered on jobs by 70 percent and underestimated costs by 700 percent.

Bloom electricity is sold to the grid via Delmarva Power, acting as Bloom’s agent. Since Delmarva is a utility, regulated by the Public Service Commission, Bloom’s monthly PSC performance reports are also public.

Performance transparency became a problem when a Delaware think tank hired chemical engineer Lindsay Leveen to analyze Bloom’s monthly reports. Six years of data confirm significant efficiency decreases as units degrade. Maintenance and operational costs increase and are passed along to consumers.

Moreover, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that Bloom’s units generate hazardous wastes and fined Bloom $1million. The dispute is currently in the courts, creating another awkward situation for the “green tech” company.

Then North Carolina’s environmental regulators fined Bloom customer Apple Computer for multiple violations regarding hazardous wastes at Apple’s server farm near Charlotte, N.C. Apple claimed Bloom was responsible; Bloom said it was Apple’s problem.

Bloom won the dispute, and Apple paid the state a $40,000 fine, without admitting wrongdoing. It’s reasonable that every Bloom customer has a similar inconvenient problem.

Bloom’s bigger difficulty may be that Mr. Leveen is outraged by the deceptions he’s uncovered. It was Mr. Leveen who alerted Tar Heel environmental regulators about Bloom and Apple. He’s also approached state and federal regulators, media and others with his data and findings in Bloom’s IPO documents.


Finding ‘clean power’ is the least of New York’s energy worries

A key Team de Blasio aide is fretting that the closure of the Indian Point nuclear-power plant will lead to more electricity coming from “dirty” fossil fuels. Yet the truth may be far worse.

If Indian Point closes as planned by 2021, “we will see localized impacts” before any clean-energy sources are up and running. That, The Post reported this week, is what top de Blasio energy aide Susanne Des-Roches told a forum earlier this year.

She feared the plant’s replacement power would be “heavy” on greenhouse gases. She also cited “cost impacts” from IP’s closure — i.e., higher electric bills. She’s right: Wind and solar “clean energy” is unlikely to be sufficient to replace IP’s 2,000 MW of juice — not by 2021, and quite possibly never.

Which leaves fossil fuels, particularly natural gas. So why does climate-change warrior Mayor de Blasio, DesRoches’ boss, support IP’s shutdown?

The plant is closing after spending years (and up to $200 million) fighting legal harassment by Gov. Cuomo, who (in a suck-up to anti-nuke radicals) claims IP puts the metro area at risk of nuclear contamination — which tons of evidence show is fear-mongering nonsense.

But fracking has made natural gas cheap and nuclear power less economical, so IP’s owners threw in the towel.

Thing is, high costs, unreliable juice and greenhouse-gas emissions are the least of New York’s post-Indian-Point concerns. The big question: Will there be enough power from any source, dirty or clean?

Cuomo has nixed pipelines for natural gas. Last month, he denied a key permit to a new Orange County natural-gas power plant. Con Ed is so worried about shortages, it’s spending $100 million a year on workarounds.

As we’ve warned before: Stock up on candles while you still can.


Does Russia Deploy American Green Groups as Pawns?

The Trump administration, despite being accused of facilitating Russian collusion in the 2016 Presidential election, is, with the rest of America, actually a victim of Russian sabotage.

American environmental groups’ threats to halt energy projects and defence operations, long a problem, have grown recently, thanks in part to Russian support. They are now more dangerous to energy security than ever.

While the media remain obsessed with “Russia collusion” in the 2016 elections, they ignore a more serious problem: Russian efforts to shrink American energy production.

Russian-backed cyberattacks on the U.S. energy sector amount to what U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry calls “an act of war.” But while worrisome, those probably are less effective in the long run than another strategy.

It’s not mere collusion but open and direct cooperation between Russia and American environmental organizations to thwart the growth of the U.S. energy industry.

That industry is on the rise, thanks to the discovery and, by applying the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, use of huge natural gas reserves across large basins covering multiple states.

Shale gas production more than doubled between 2011 and 2016, and proven reserves (shale gas that can be extracted and used for energy) continue to rise as exploration continues.

The International Energy Agency predicts that U.S. shale production will reach 1.3 million barrels a day in 2018, and there is a huge organic cash flow into the industry, eliminating the need to borrow from banks. This points to an energy-independent U.S.

And that is why other big natural gas exporters, particularly Russia, are determined to make countries like the UK and U.S. curtail oil and gas exploration.

To halt natural gas extraction and other pipeline projects, anonymous donors pump millions of dollars into environmental advocacy groups. Then they use those groups as proxies to serve their vested interest in impeding the growth of American energy infrastructure projects, to rein in American competition for energy markets, to bolster their own revenues.

Of the many American environmental advocacy groups complicit in this war-by-other-means strategy, two are particularly guilty of colluding with Russia to quell American production.

The Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club Foundation (SCF) have been advocating for the restriction of energy exploration and such advocacy could be harming the operation of defence forces.

Both NRDC and SCF get large amounts of money from the Sea Change Foundation, which receives funds from Russia and other sources and disseminates them to NRDC, SCF, and other Green advocacy groups.

The Daily Signal reported that NRDC and SCF alone received more than $10 million in grants from Sea Change.

When approached by journalists about the ultimate sources of funding through Sea Change, both NRDC and SCF gave ambiguous responses.

How did Sea Change’s gifts pay off?

NRDC and SCF filed an unusually large number of lawsuits against shale gas exploration. They organized a large network of advocacy groups, lobbyists, and lawyers in strategic places, including Washington, D.C., and state capitals.

Recent successes include blocking fracking projects in New York, where energy bills are soaring because of the state’s stubbornness in rejecting affordable, clean natural gas.

Intelligence reports indicate that this is not the first time Russia has blocked fracking through environmental groups. It tried the same trick in Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Romania. A potential shale boom in Europe like the one in the U.S. would hurt Russia’s economy by reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

But Russia is not finished interfering with U.S. production. It will continue using environmental advocacy groups as platforms for economic and political sabotage.

It is ironic that two of America’s biggest environmental advocacy groups act as enemy agents in the same country that guarantees their right to pursue their dreams and flourish as they do.

Democrats should set aside party politics and join Republicans in the battle against Russia’s breach of national energy security and the home-grown threats from environmental groups.

While Trump and Putin may shake hands and smile at each other before the world, tensions are sure to rise behind the scene in Washington and Moscow.


Australian wind farm report a blow to future of the industry

A class-action lawsuit is being planned against a local council, the Victorian government and a wind farm operator after an independent review accepted resident complaints that noise from a Gippsland wind farm was causing them harm.

A council-ordered report on the Bald Hills wind farm found there was a nuisance under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

This was despite the wind farm being compliant with state planning laws. Investigators said they could hear wind turbines in some residents’ homes and accepted they could sometimes be heard over the television and that residents were suffering sleep deprivation and other symptoms.

The report is a milestone on a years-long journey for residents at Bald Hills involving botched investigations, doctored reports, court interventions and heavy-handed planning decisions.

The finding could have dramatic implications for the ongoing development of the wind industry, which claims its turbines do not disturb residents.

Affected resident Don Fairbrother said the situation should never have got to this point. “There was a lot of concern about the suitability of the site and the height of the turbines was increased without community consultation,” he said. “The project has had a troubled history and we are finally being listened to.

“Our concerns about sleep dep­ri­vation have finally been recognised as a health and welfare issue.”

Noise logs by Mr Fairbrother document “whining, roaring noise” causing sleep deprivation and headaches.

The independent monitor, James C. Smith and Associates, was engaged in March by the South Gippsland Shire Council lawyers to investigate. The report said Mr Fairbrother appeared to have “frequent sleep interruptions from a noise described as ‘grumbling noise and a sensation’ and frequent associated headaches”.

In conclusion, the report said there had been a consistency in complaints. “Without exception, there are allegations that the wind farm noise is audible inside their individual homes and, as a result, there is sleep disruption during the nightly and early morning hours,” the report said.

One first-hand experience where wind farm noise intruded on conversation during a site visit was seen as “detrimental to the personal comfort and enjoyment of the residential environment”.

“After consideration of the completed noise logs by individual complainants and subsequent discussions with some of these individuals, it appears there is nuisance caused by wind farm noise, in that the noise is audible frequently within individual residences and this noise is adversely impacting on the personal comfort and wellbeing of individuals,” the report said.

The report is significant because the wind farm had been approved as compliant under state noise regulations and was being operated in a low-noise mode when investi­gations were under way.

The residents’ lawyer, Demenika Tannock, said she was meeting affected residents to consider their options. “A QC has been briefed and a junior counsel briefed with a possible class action against the shire, the operator, the minister and the state Environment Department,” Ms Tannock said.

A case is currently before the Supreme Court.

The Bald Hills wind farm was developed by Mitsui and Co and sold to Australian-based Infrastructure Capital Group in February last year. South Gippsland Council said it would be seeking comments on the report from both the wind farm operator and the complainants over the next few weeks.

Council chief executive Tim Tamlin said: “Without in any way suggesting that council is avoiding its responsibility, I would like to point out that this finding demonstrates the apparent disconnect between the Planning and Environment Act and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act,” he said. “I would suggest this is something the Victorian government needs to resolve.”




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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