Thursday, April 11, 2019

Melting Glaciers To Drown Us (At 2 Inches A Century!)

Paul Homewood below satisfies himself with some entirely justified sarcasm about this latest scare but the larger point is that glaciers wax and wane all the time so extrapolating from just one recent 55 year period tells us nothing.  It would be easy to select another period that showed glacial advance.  The Little Ice age, for instance, is relatively recent (from about 1300 to about 1850) and during it most glaciers advanced

We read:

Melting glaciers causing sea levels to rise at ever greater rates
by University of Zurich

Melting  ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic as well as ice melt from glaciers all over the world are causing sea levels to rise. Glaciers alone have lost more than 9 trillion tons of ice since 1961, raising water levels by 27 millimeters, an international research team under the lead of the University of Zurich has now found.

Glaciers have lost more than 9 trillion tons (that is 9,625,000,000,000 tons) of ice between 1961 and 2016, which has resulted in global sea levels rising by 27 millimeters in this period.

The largest contributors were glaciers in Alaska, followed by the melting ice fields in Patagonia and glaciers in the Arctic regions. Glaciers in the European Alps, the Caucasus and New Zealand were also subject to significant ice loss; however, due to their relatively small glacierized areas, they played only a minor role when it comes to the rising global sea levels.


Wow!! 27mm between 1961 and 2016! Two inches a century. Head to the hills!


Washington's famed cherry blossoms threatened by rising sea levels

More likely by tourism

Washington D.C.'s cherry blossom season has gone well this year, thanks to warm weather that has coincided perfectly with the annual blooming that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each spring.

But officials are claiming that Washington's iconic trees are under a looming threat that requires emergency action.

Decades of wear and tear from foot traffic, combined with rising sea levels and a deteriorating sea wall have created a chronic flooding problem in the Tidal Basin. The 107-acre man-made reservoir borders the Jefferson Memorial and is home to the highest concentration of cherry blossom trees.

"The Tidal Basin is at a pivotal moment," said Jeff Reinbold, acting superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks division of the National Park Service. "The area was never designed for the kind of use it sees today."

The National Park Service, along with the Trust for the National Mall and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is undertaking a campaign to save the Tidal Basin. In addition to rebuilding the battered sea wall and addressing the flooding problem, the groups want to improve walkways and update security systems.

Twice a day at high tide, a large stretch of sidewalk next to the Jefferson Memorial is submerged by the rising waters. During the heavy rains that routinely occur in Washington, the floodwaters completely overflow the sea wall in multiple locations and soak the tree roots.

It's more than just an inconvenience.

Teresa Durkin, senior project director of the Trust for the National Mall, said the higher silt concentration of the floodwaters is shortening the life span of the hundreds of cherry blossom trees that ring the basin.

"The infrastructure is breaking down because of the daily flooding. The trees are being inundated with brackish water," she said. "People do love these trees and we keep having to replace them."

Early estimates are that the rehabilitation project would require as much as $500 million, with organizers seeking a combination of government money and private donations.

The organizations are partnering with American Express, which is funding the creation of the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab and inviting architectural and landscape design firms to submit proposals for replacing the sea wall and refurbishing and modernizing the entire area.

Sean Kennealy, the chief of professional services for the National Mall and Memorial Parks division, said the original 1880s design of the Tidal Basin simply wasn't equipped to handle the kinds of crowds and traffic the area now receives. That traffic has only increased as more monuments have been added to the Tidal Basin area over the years: a memorial to Franklin Roosevelt opened in 1997, and the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial was inaugurated in 2011.

Even without the worsening flooding problem, Kenneally said the entire network of sidewalks and pathways needs to be expanded to accommodate the modern visitor numbers.

"People have started making their own paths through the grass because the walkways are either not wide enough or underwater," Kennealy said. "The trees just aren't being protected the way they should be."

For now, the Tidal Basin's structural issues remain fairly low key. Janice Contreras, a tourist from Arizona visiting the Tidal Basin on Wednesday, said it didn't really affect her experience. But it's hard not to notice a large stretch of sidewalk seemingly being reclaimed by the advancing waters.

"Does that really happen twice a day," she asked. "It doesn't really bother me, but there's no way that's good for the trees, right?"


Trump Order Will Clear the Way for Stalled Constitution Pipeline

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump will sign an executive order to streamline energy projects like the Constitution Pipeline, a 124-mile natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York. Despite winning federal approval in 2014, the pipeline has yet to be built, thanks to New York regulators who denied the pipeline a permit under the Clean Water Act.

Trump will unveil the order at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Crosby, Texas, on Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported. Another executive order will promote cross-border energy infrastructure, like the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

New York's moratorium on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") seems to have caused a natural gas shortage, making the Constitution Pipeline more important.

The Clean Water Act wasn’t "intended to give a state veto power," Dena Wiggins, president of the Natural Gas Supply Association, told Bloomberg News. "The actions New York is taking not only impact New York, they are impacting the entire Northeast, because we can’t get a pipeline through the state in order to provide gas service to the Northeast."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) has insisted that "no corporation should be allowed to endanger our natural resources," so New York "will not relent in our fight to protect our environment."

Trump's pipeline order is unlikely to result in immediate construction, because only Congress has the authority to restrict states' authority under the Clean Water Act, and because many pipelines lack adequate Interior Department reviews. Even so, the order "will be construed as opening the door to overcoming these hurdles that states are throwing up," Christi Tezak, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners, told Bloomberg.

States should encourage these pipelines, rather than hampering them. The people of New York need natural gas.


U.S. refining capacity hits another all-time high, set to grow big-time in 2019 and beyond with IMO 2020

U.S. oil refiners had another huge year in 2018, averaging 17.3 million barrels per day in refinery runs while its capacity expanded to almost 18.6 million barrels per day, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

As the U.S. became the number one producer of petroleum in the world in 2018 thanks in large part to the shale oil boom, oil refiners led the way by once again ramping up their capacity and putting to rest concerns about its ability to meet demand in the market.

In fact, current utilization of refining capacity is at about 93 percent, and it has not topped its high of 95.6 percent in 1998 in spite of there being more oil to refine.

Meaning, there’s still a lot of room for growth in this expanding industry, if the first month’s data for 2019 is any indication, with capacity rising to an all-time high of nearly 18.8 million barrels per day in January, an increase of nearly 200,000 barrels a day from that time last year.

Put another way, if you’re thinking about drilling a well, right now, you might want to do it in the United States because you are guaranteed to get your barrel to market rapidly no matter what the spot price is.

One area that will help further the industry along are International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations set to go into effect in Jan. 2020 that will reduce sulfur content of emissions of bunker fuel utilized by cargo container ships to no more than 0.5 percent sulfur. The plus for refiners will be added sales for the lower-sulfur content fuel.

And U.S. refiners, already serving the single largest oil-consuming market in the world, will be there to meet the challenge, as refiners once again expand capacity to meet the demand, for example in Louisiana and Texas.

The U.S. already has about 2.8 million barrels per day of coking capacity needed to meet the market for lower-sulfur fuel. That’s not far off from the 3.3 million barrels per day of bunker fuel that is consumed currently, or 4.2 million barrels per day when existing lower-sulfur fuel demand is taken into account.

The tale however may lay overseas in terms of meeting the rest of the market. Those that make the investment ahead of time will be the biggest winners in the new cargo container ship fuel market.  How refiners abroad respond to the change is another matter, and will determine how great of an impact on global prices there is.

Right now, the biggest loser of the new IMO regulations will be Russia, which exports the most higher-sulfur bunker fuel in the world. In 2017, it exported about 35 million tons or 702,000 barrels a day.

With an already robust market, supply should meet the demand rather quickly, meaning any spike in prices may only be temporary as it is ultimately offset by increased production and refining of the lower-sulfur fuels.

And if worst comes to worst, and overseas refiners cannot meet the demand, you can be sure U.S. refiners will do so in very short order. This might be the first regulation in history that boosted U.S. exports.


Electric vehicles can be risky, just ask Australia's Keneally

Bill Shorten’s electric vehicle policy troubleshooter Kristina Keneally knows more than most the dangers of pinning too much hope on the rapid rise of electric cars — her husband Ben Keneally was chief Australian strategist and marketer of failed EV venture Better Place.

The Israeli-founded company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013, was an early mover in the EV business, developing a battery-charging and switching service that it planned to roll out across Australia.

Mr Keneally worked with the head of the company’s Australian arm, millionaire and one-time Victorian Labor MP Evan Thornley.

The company was named one of the world’s “top-50 green game-changers” in 2011, with Mr Thornley predicting EVs would arrive in Australia “in mass volumes” by 2012.

The business model was built around cars with interchangeable batteries. Senator Keneally told The Australian yesterday that Better Place had picked the wrong technology. “Better Place promoted battery-swap stations, which people didn’t want,” she said.

“Better Place’s main global competitor, Tesla, and its main Australian competitor, Brisbane-based Tritium, focused on ultra-fast charging stations and are going from strength to strength.”

She said the fast-charging technology that ultimately beat Better Place was “precisely” the technology that Energy Minister Angus Taylor endorsed last year with a $6 million taxpayer-funded investment.

Labor has been under pressure over its pledge last week to set a target for EVs to make up half of all new vehicle sales by 2030, and implement a tough new carbon emissions standard for light vehicles of 105gCO2/km.

Senator Keneally leapt into the role of EV policy defender, getting a Department of Environment official to confirm in Senate estimates committee hearings this week that the government’s carbon abatement policies assume a 25-50 per cent EV uptake by 2030.

She also dug up pictures of Liberal MPs in EVs, and articles by Josh Frydenberg expressing his admiration for the technology. Scott Morrison has claimed Labor’s EV policy would “end the weekend” by pushing Australians out of four-wheel-drive vehicles into cars that couldn’t tow boats or caravans.

“Here he is, Joshy hanging out with some electric vehicles,” Senator Keneally said on Monday, waving a photograph of the Treasurer in an electric car.

Mr Keneally worked for Better Place from 2009 to until March 2013. The company filed for bankruptcy in Israel in May 2013, and was liquidated in November that year.

When Senator Keneally was NSW premier, Better Place was reportedly invited to exclusively bid for a recharging network by the state-owned EnergyAustralia, which ultimately did not proceed.

The then premier said at the time that she absented herself from cabinet discussions whenever electric cars were discussed.



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