Climate

Is Big Oil Going Green?

Oil supermajors rank among the biggest polluters in the world—a hardly surprising fact. In recent years, however, Big Oil has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, in what may come as a surprising fact about the dirtiest industry globally. The world’s five largest oil firms—ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and Total—cut their combined emissions by 13 percent, starting from 2010 and ending in 2015, the latest year with available comprehensive data, a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released this week showed. BP cut its pollution the most, by 25.5 percent, while the largest polluter among listed companies—Exxon—reduced its emissions by 14 percent. The oil supermajors—excluding Chevron, which only started reporting emissions in 2012—reduced their combined greenhouse gas emissions by 56.7 million tons between 2010 and 2015, according to the BNEF report. The emissions reduction this decade is in stark contrast with the trends in previous decades, when […]

California cities sue big oil firms over climate change

California cities San Francisco and Oakland filed separate lawsuits against five oil companies on Wednesday seeking billions of dollars to protect against rising sea levels they blamed on climate change, according to public documents. The lawsuits, filed in state courts in San Francisco and Alameda Counties, alleged Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell, created a public nuisance and asked for funds to finance infrastructure to deal with rising sea levels. According to a press release by San Francisco city officials, the lawsuits mirror 1980s-era lawsuits against tobacco companies. They allege the oil giants “knowingly and recklessly created an ongoing public nuisance that is causing harm now and in the future risks catastrophic harm to human life and property.” “Chevron […]

Hurricane Maria seen strengthening into major hurricane in next two days

18 Sep 2017   Climate, USA

A second powerful storm in as many weeks was bearing down on a string of battered Caribbean islands on Sunday, with forecasters saying Maria would strengthen rapidly into a major hurricane in the next two days and rip into the Leeward Islands on Monday night. Maria’s strength was building as it approached the Lesser Antilles, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, estimating its winds at near 85 miles per hour (140 kph). ”Maria is expected to become a major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands,” the forecaster said. Maria is approaching the eastern Caribbean less than two weeks after Irma hammered the region before overrunning Florida. That storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic with winds up to 185 miles per hour (298 kph), killed at least 84 people, more than half of them in the Caribbean. Hurricane conditions were expected […]

Tillerson says U.S. could stay in Paris climate accord

18 Sep 2017   Climate, USA

The United States could remain in the Paris climate accord under the right conditions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday. President Donald Trump was willing to work with partners in the Paris agreement if the United States could construct a set of terms that are fair and balanced for Americans, Tillerson said on the CBS “Face The Nation” program. “The president said he is open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue,” Tillerson said. Trump administration officials said the United States would not pull out of the agreement and had offered to re-engage in the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. U.S. officials attended a meeting on Saturday of ministers from more than 30 of the nations that signed the climate-change agreement. Trump announced in June that he […]

Trump Administration to Brief Officials on Emissions Goals

18 Sep 2017   Climate, USA

President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser is expected to outline the administration’s proposals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while restating that its stance on the Paris climate accord has not changed, White House officials said, following signals over the weekend that the U.S. was exploring ways to remain in the 2015 pact. White House economic chief Gary Cohn’s planned breakfast discussion on energy and climate matters in New York follows a similar meeting led by Canada, China and the European Union in Montreal on Saturday, when U.S. officials broached revising Washington’s goals under the Paris accord to avoid pulling out of it, according to officials at the event. Mr. Cohn, who is leading the White House’s stance toward the 197-party accord, is set to discuss how the U.S. can continue to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions without sacrificing its re-emergence as a leading energy producer, […]

How US oil and gas passed test of ‘unprecedented’ weather

18 Sep 2017   Climate, Refining, USA

As Hurricane Harvey battered southern Texas on August 27, the National Weather Service described it as “unprecedented”. There had been stronger storms before, but the torrential rainfall brought by Harvey would have an impact that was “unknown” and “beyond anything experienced,” it warned. The severity of the damage to the oil and gas industry of Houston and along the coast was one of those unknown effects. Total refining capacity in Texas is 5.6m barrels a day, 31 per cent of total US refining capacity. It also produces 36 per cent of US crude. The flood waters lapping up around storage tanks at refineries owned by Valero Energy and Motiva, a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, looked like a sign that there could be serious and lasting damage. Three weeks on, it is clear that the oil and gas companies have mostly been able to withstand the threat. Lessons learned from previous storms, in particular hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, have made operations more resilient. “This storm was a test for how well the US can deal with these threats,” says Jamie Webster of the BCG Center for Energy Impact. “The industry, I would say, has passed with flying colours so far.” Harvey has been a human catastrophe. At least 82 people were killed, and the mounds of ruined carpets, panelling, furniture and other possessions piled up outside tens of thousands of houses bear witness to the scale of the damage to property. Leaks from sewers, refineries and chemical plants during and after the storm have raised fears about the lasting effect on human health. But for the energy industry, the impact seems set to be mostly transient.

Trump Administration will Waste Billions by Disregarding Science in Hurricane Recovery

15 Sep 2017   Climate

The Trump administration is consciously choosing to reject climate science in its plan to rebuild from superstorms Harvey and Irma. And that means their reconstruction of Houston and Florida will squander billions of taxpayer dollars and put Americans who rebuild at risk in the future. In stunning remarks during Monday’s White House press briefing , Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert told reporters that the administration does not take seriously the “cause” of climate change. “I will tell you that we continue to take seriously the climate change — not the cause of it, but the things that we observe,” Bossert said. “And so there’s rising flood waters — I think one inch every 10 years in Tampa — things that would require prudent mitigation measures.” But the problem is that if you don’t take seriously the cause — human activity and carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels — then […]

Harrowing Storms May Move Climate Debate, if Not G.O.P. Leaders

14 Sep 2017   Climate

Extreme weather events have fueled the national debate on climate change. For years, climate change activists have faced a wrenching dilemma: how to persuade people to care about a grave but seemingly far-off problem and win their support for policies that might pinch them immediately in utility bills and at the pump. But that calculus may be changing at a time when climatic chaos feels like a daily event rather than an airy abstraction, and storms powered by warming ocean waters wreak havoc on the mainland United States. Americans have spent weeks riveted by television footage of wrecked neighborhoods, displaced families, flattened Caribbean islands and submerged cities from Houston to Jacksonville. “The conversation is shifting,” said Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii. “Because even if you don’t believe liberals, even if you don’t believe scientists, you […]

Stop Talking Right Now about the Threat of Climate Change. It’s Here; it’s Happening

14 Sep 2017   Climate

For the sake of keeping things manageable, let’s confine the discussion to a single continent and a single week: North America over the last seven days. In Houston they got down to the hard and unromantic work of recovery from what economists announced was probably the most expensive storm in US history , and which weather analysts confirmed was certainly the greatest rainfall event ever measured in the country – across much of its spread it was a once-in-25,000-years storm, meaning 12 times past the birth of Christ; in isolated spots it was a once-in-500,000-years storm, which means back when we lived in trees. Meanwhile, San Francisco not only beat its all-time high temperature record , it crushed it by 3F, which should be pretty much statistically impossible in a place with 150 years (that’s 55,000 days) of record-keeping. That same hot weather broke records up and down the […]

7 Big Changes to the Energy Industry Coming by 2040

13 Sep 2017   Climate, Oil Supply

For the most part, the way we generate and use energy hasn’t changed a lot in the past 50 years. But that’s not likely to be the case in the decades to come. As renewable energy sources become cheaper and more reliable, and we develop technology that enables us to better store and distribute that power, there could be some big changes in the energy industry between now and 2040. Factor in the historic Paris Agreement — signed by virtually every country on Earth — to reduce global carbon emissions, and it’s a near-certainty that we are at the threshold of an energy revolution. Keep reading to learn about seven of the biggest changes coming to the energy industry over the next 23 years. The Paris Agreement could lead 80% of energy demand growth to come from low-carbon and renewable sources The Paris Agreement has the potential to radically […]

China’s war on smog chokes Shandong industries, smokes out fuel kiosks

13 Sep 2017   China, Climate

China’s crackdown on pollution is choking output of chemicals, fuels and other materials in Shandong province as plants curb or cut operations amid random environmental checks. Beijing’s clear-sky efforts are not new, but the frequency and duration of recent inspections in the industrial Shandong heartland is impacting output more extensively as small and mid-sized plants come under the same scrutiny earlier focused on large state-owned facilities. Some 30 independent oil refineries in Shandong have been shut since mid-July, plus an unspecified number of chemical plants making propylene oxide (PO),PVC and rubber tyres have been closed, according to industry sources and market analysts. Unlicensed fuel kiosks have also been removed. While some of the plants have resumed operations or are hoping to restart later this month, others are less optimistic. “We were told to prepare to work half a month and be off the other half, […]

Hurricane Irma Linked to Climate Change? For Some, a Very ‘Insensitive’ Question

12 Sep 2017   Climate

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, says it is insensitive to discuss climate change in the midst of deadly storms . Tomás Regalado , the Republican mayor of Miami whose citizens raced to evacuate before Hurricane Irma, says if not now, when? “This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the E.P.A. and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change,” Mr. Regalado told the Miami Herald . “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.” For scientists, drawing links between warming global temperatures and the ferocity of hurricanes is about as controversial as talking about geology after an earthquake. But in Washington, where science is […]

How Vulnerable Are Oil Markets To Extreme Weather?

7 Sep 2017   Climate

Refineries were closed, pipelines shut down, tankers held out to sea. The price of fuel shot up as gas stations went dry across the country, while crude slumped with a third of the U.S. refinery capacity shut in. A week later, a recovery is evident and most of the shuttered facilities in Corpus Christi and elsewhere are slowly coming back on line. But the impact of Harvey will likely be felt for weeks . Gas prices, according to EIA data , remain high in PADD 1 and PADD 3 (East Coast and Gulf Coast). The massive Motiva refinery has resumed partial production, and Goldman Sachs estimates that half of affected capacity will be back-online. But that leaves 1.4 million bpd that could remain off-line through mid-September, depressing prices. The actual damage to facilities, according to a report from the New Orleans-based Times Picayune, has been relatively minor . Operations […]

U.S. Braces For Second Major Hurricane In Two Weeks

6 Sep 2017   Climate, USA

Hurricane Irma has reached category 5-level winds, according to the latest reports from the Atlantic Ocean. If it hits land near Texas, it could destroy an oil and gas network already ailing from historic rainfall courtesy of its predecessor, Hurricane Harvey. Harvey knocked out one-fifth of oil production in the United States due to its activity in the Gulf of Mexico and certain parts of Texas. Still, it is uncertain if the newest hurricane will hit Texas at all. Some models strongly suggest the storm will turn north and hit the East coast, but there is a chance it could hit Houston – the nation’s energy capital. So far Irma is only confirmed to hit Florida, a state that has already declared a state of emergency to prevent prices on essential goods from skyrocketing. Still, orange juice futures are sky high. “Our biggest concern is Florida citrus,” Joel Widenor […]

If $26 oil doesn’t do us in, 52 inches of rain won’t either

4 Sep 2017   Climate, USA

Frenzied motorists scrambled to find gasoline in Dallas-Fort Worth as reports of imminent shortages spread on social media, fueled by refinery and pipeline shutdowns along the energy-rich Texas Gulf Coast. Storm-weary homeowners and renters by the thousands fled water-filled properties with whatever they could carry, not knowing what would be left of their belongings when floodwaters receded. Restaurants, boat storage centers and other small businesses battered by winds topping 130 mph emerged as twisted heaps of metal and plywood in coastal towns where Hurricane Harvey began its roughly 400-mile path of destruction. Those searing images from Harvey’s time in the spotlight also represent the layered economic impact left behind by one of the nation’s worst natural disasters. Just as the stubborn storm refused to go away for nearly a week, it’ll take months for its economic toll to fully unfold. Here’s where that damage stands nine days after Harvey […]

Did This Startup Solve The Carbon Capture Challenge?

When the Mississippi Public Service Commission earlier this year asked Southern Co. to pull the plug on its plan to turn the Kemper power plant into a clean-coal, carbon-capturing facility, the prospects of carbon capture and storage becoming a mainstream approach in power generation became a little bit gloomier. Luckily, Southern Co. is by far not the only one working on CCS. One startup in Texas is forging ahead, preparing for the first tests of its gas-fired, 50MW power plant that runs on natural gas and captures all the carbon dioxide the generation cycle produces to use it in that very cycle. In a story about the Net Power project, MIT Technology Review’s senior energy editor James Temple explains that the startup basically replaces the water that ordinary natural gas plants use to heat up to steam and power the turbines with carbon dioxide. Net Power’s generator uses supercritical […]

Caribbean Islands Begin Preparations for Hurricane Irma

4 Sep 2017   Climate, USA

Islands in the Caribbean are preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm. San Juan, Puerto Rico—Islands at the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea made preparations Sunday for approaching Hurricane Irma, which could threaten the area Tuesday. Hurricane watches were posted for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Monserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm could near that region late Tuesday. It said islands farther north, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, should monitor the progress of the storm. Antigua’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, urged people to take preventive measures in case the storm should hit, including cleaning drains and removing objects that could be sent airborne by high winds. Workers began pruning trees and shrubs to reduce chances for branches to tear down power and phone lines. […]

Hurricane Irma remains potential threat to the East Coast, possibly matching Harvey’s wind strength

4 Sep 2017   Climate, USA

Irma advisory from the National Hurricane Center as of 11 a.m. Saturday morning. ( ) On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, now estimated to be the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, attention is turning to the next threat, Hurricane Irma. Irma, which weakened slightly overnight — now down to Category 2 strength with sustained winds of 110 mph — is currently marching westward across the Atlantic Ocean. Irma’s center of circulation is still more than 2,000 miles away from U.S. coast, but signs continue for future concern. As highlighted Friday, this storm will definitely be one to watch over the next several days — particularly along the East Coast — despite the high uncertainty in impacts at this juncture. Current status Although it has dropped to Category 2 strength, Irma continues to look quite healthy on satellite images, as of this morning. Hurricane #Irma in the Atlantic via #GOES16 […]

The second face of climate denial

4 Sep 2017   Climate

Human kind cannot bear very much reality. That is certainly true when it comes to long-term threats such as climate change. But the temptation to push aside inconvenient truths is not limited to those who say climate change is a myth or a plot invented by the Chinese to undermine the American economy. Some of those who accept the scientific evidence as presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others also have a strand of denial in their thinking, particularly when it comes to finding answers to the challenge.

The problem is evident in a — beautifully written — essay written by Mathieu Munsch for the website Bright Green. His aim is to lay out the facts about climate change in language that is accessible to non-specialist readers, and he succeeds admirably — his summary is well worth reading. Climate change is an existential threat to human life but there is no certainty about the detailed nature of the changes that could take place or the timing. Mr Munsch very clearly identifies what we know and do not know.

The response to the mounting evidence has been centred around a consensus target of keeping any global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees That is not based on particular scientific evidence — it is a politically driven goal. We not know whether 2 degrees represents safety, and the figure is in any case an average likely to reflect wide variation that could cause great damage in some places.

Future Hurricanes Will Be Worse Than Harvey

1 Sep 2017   Climate

How powerful would Hurricane Harvey have been in 1880? How much stronger might it be in 2100? A single Hurricane Harvey has been more than anyone can bear. But to better prepare cities for future storms, researchers are preparing to re-watch Harvey thousands of times. They’ve already been studying earlier storms, and their conclusions don’t bode well for the decades to come. In the months and years after Superstorm Sandy’s 2012 assault on New Jersey and New York, Gary Lackmann, an atmospheric science professor at North Carolina State University, was asked how the event might be understood in light of human-driven global warming. He knew that the question everyone wants answered—did climate change cause the storm—wasn’t the right one. Hurricanes were around long before the industrial revolution. Two questions did, however, resonate: How does climate change affect the frequency or intensity of huge storms? What would the weather pattern […]

U.S. states hit back at EPA chief over climate rule guidance

1 Sep 2017   Climate

Democratic state officials blasted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday for telling governors in what they describe as a “legally incorrect” letter in March that they do not need to comply with a major climate change regulation. Fourteen Democratic attorneys general and officials from six cities and counties said the guidance that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sent to states on March 30 was misleading because the Clean Power Plan enacted under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, remains on the books despite the Republican Trump administration’s plans to unravel it. The Clean Power Plan was aimed at curbing carbon emissions from power plants. It never took effect because the Supreme Court put it on hold in February 2016. The state officials said […]

I Was an Exxon-Funded Climate Scientist

31 Aug 2017   Climate

ExxonMobil’s deliberate attempts to sow doubt on the reality and urgency of climate change and their donations to front groups to disseminate false information about climate change have been public knowledge for a long time, now. Investigative reports in 2015 revealed that Exxon had its own scientists doing its own climate modeling as far back as the 1970s: science and modeling that was not only accurate, but that was being used to plan for the company’s future. Now, a peer-reviewed study published August 23 has confirmed that what Exxon was saying internally about climate change was quantitatively very different from their public statements. Specifically, researchers Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes found that at least 80 percent of the internal documents and peer-reviewed publications they studied from between 1977 and 2014 were consistent with the state of the science — acknowledging that climate change is real and caused by humans, […]

Peabody Says Bankruptcy Shields Coal Miner From Climate Change Lawsuits

30 Aug 2017   Climate, Coal

Some coastal communities in the state are suing energy companies over rising sea levels. Coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. says its recent emergence from bankruptcy shields it from lawsuits brought by three coastal California communities against fossil fuel companies over rising sea levels and global warming. The lawsuits were filed last month by the counties of San Mateo and Marin in Northern California and the southern city of Imperial Beach. The suits seek to hold more than three dozen oil, gas and coal companies responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions produced over decades. The lawsuits link these emissions to global climate change and rising sea levels, which they say have made coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding and other dangers. Peabody, which emerged from chapter 11 in April, said Monday in papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Missouri that it should be dropped as […]

Harvey Shows How Planetary Winds Are Shifting

30 Aug 2017   Climate

Meteorologists explain that Hurricane Harvey stalled off the Texas coast because two high-pressure atmospheric masses—huge bookends made out of air—have squeezed it in place, and there haven’t been any high-level currents to help steer it away. Harvey is yet another of several recent weather disasters marked by such shocking staying power, punishing whole regions for days or weeks on end—and longer. Others include a massive heatwave over Russia and flooding in Pakistan in 2010, the Texas drought of 2011, the California drought that began around the same time and continued through this year, and the flooding last year in Texas’s neighbor to east, Louisiana. Sluggishness in storms is a big deal, particularly if they’re increasing in frequency. “It turns a garden-variety disaster into a catastrophe,” said Paul Douglas , a broadcast meteorologist and weather entrepreneur. As Harvey stays put, it functions as a firehose that sucks warm water from […]

2020 low-sulfur requirements for marine bunker fuels causing scramble for refiners and shippers

29 Aug 2017   Climate

On 27 October 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that beginning on 1 January 2020, the maximum sulfur content allowed in marine bunker fuel will be reduced from 3.50% mass by mass (m/m) to 0.50% m/m (35,000 ppm to 5,000 ppm)—five years earlier than many expected. ( Earlier post .) The IMO fuel sulfur content regulation will have a significant global impact on both the refining and the shipping industries. Owing to uncertainty around the implementation date and the ultimate level of compliance, neither the global refining nor shipping industries have as yet made the necessary investments to comply fully with the IMO rules. As a result, both industries will experience rapid change and significant cost […]

Tropical storm Harvey heads for Texas, may become hurricane

25 Aug 2017   Climate

The Texas Gulf Coast was bracing for Tropical Storm Harvey to make landfall by Friday, bringing with it powerful winds, torrential rains and the possibility that it could strengthen into a hurricane. Harvey was about 370 miles (595 km) southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, by early Thursday as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles (72 km) per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. U.S. benchmark gasoline prices RBc1 hit a three-week high on Thursday as the storm took aim at the center of the country’s refining industry. The storm has also forced energy companies including Royal Dutch Shell ( RDSa.L ), Anadarko Petroleum ( APC.N ) and Exxon Mobil ( XOM.N ) to evacuate staff from oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge watches were in effect […]

Harvey Sends Gasoline Surging as Texas Refineries Shut Down

25 Aug 2017   Climate, Oil Supply

Exxon, Anadarko, Shell among energy explorers cutting output Would be first major hurricane to hit U.S. since Wilma Hurricane Harvey, set to become the worst storm to strike Texas in more than a decade, wreaking havoc upon the heart of America’s energy sector, has forced evacuations from offshore platforms, shut refineries and sent the prices of commodities from gasoline to soybeans rallying. Oil refiners in the Gulf Coast, home to as much as half of the nation’s refining capacity, began halting operations as Harvey, a Category 1 storm with top winds of 85 miles (137 kilometers) an hour, bore down on the Gulf Coast, threatening the region with deadly floods and storm surges. If Harvey makes landfall as a Category 3 — with winds of at least 111 miles — it’ll be the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since Wilma in 2005. “We are expecting catastrophic, life-threatening flooding […]

While keeping CPP litigation on ice, judges warn EPA about delaying GHG regulation

25 Aug 2017   Climate, USA

A federal appeals court has extended by 60 days the abeyance period for the Clean Power Plan litigation pending the Environmental Protection Agency’s review of that regulation. But in an unusual move, two of the 10 judges on the panel reminded the agency of its statutory obligation to regulate greenhouse gases, indicating that at least some of the judges may be growing impatient with the continued delay in regulating carbon emissions from power plants. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals in April suspended the lawsuit (State of West Virginia , et al. v. EPA, 15-1363) over the contentious rule that sought a 32% drop from 2005 levels in the existing generation fleet’s carbon emissions by 2030. The two-page order issued August 8 by the DC Circuit extended the abeyance period and asked EPA to continue filing status updates every 30 days. The extension would have been a procedural development […]

First tanker crosses northern sea route without ice breaker

25 Aug 2017   Climate, LNG

A combined ice breaker and LNG tanker has crossed the northern sea route A commercial LNG tanker has sailed across the colder, northern route from Europe to Asia without the protection of an ice-breaker for the first time. The specially-built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to tanker’s Russian owners. The 300-metre-long Sovcomflot ship, the Christophe de Margerie, was carrying gas from Norway to South Korea. Rising Arctic temperatures are boosting commercial shipping across this route. The Christophe de Margerie is the world’s first and, at present, only ice-breaking LNG carrier. The ship, which features a lightweight steel reinforced hull, is the largest commercial ship to receive Arc7 certification, which means it is capable of travelling through ice up to 2.1m thick. On this trip it was able to keep up an average speed of 14 knots despite sailing through ice that […]

Harvey Could Be First Hurricane to Strike Texas Since 2008

24 Aug 2017   Climate, Oil Supply, USA

Storm threat sends cotton futures higher on Wednesday Anadarko has removed nonessential staff from platforms Harvey, which could strengthen into the first hurricane to strike Texas since 2008 this week, forced workers to be evacuated from Gulf of Mexico platforms, sent cotton rallying and has airlines preparing for flight disruptions. Currently a tropical depression, Harvey was 470 miles (756 kilometers) southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, with top winds of 35 miles per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory. It could develop into a hurricane just before landfall. Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico “It could intensify right up to landfall on Friday,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I expect a Category 1 hurricane at landfall, but I cannot rule out a Category 2.” The Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, is home to nearly […]

What Exxon Mobil Didn’t Say About Climate Change

24 Aug 2017   Climate

The Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, Calif. In a 1997 ad the company said, “We still don’t know what role man-made greenhouse gases might play in warming the planet.” Scrutiny is mounting on the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company. On multiple legal fronts the question is being asked: Did Exxon Mobil’s communications about climate change break the law? That’s what some of Exxon Mobil’s current and former employees think. In February, they filed a lawsuit arguing that the company deceived them by making false and misleading statements about the financial risks of climate change, which they argue affected the value of shares they bought as part of a company-sponsored savings plan. Other Exxon Mobil shareholders are bringing similar charges against the company in a separate class-action securities fraud case. And just last month, three California communities sued 37 oil, coal and gas companies, including Exxon Mobil, […]

Harvard researchers say Exxon misled public on climate science

24 Aug 2017   Climate, USA

Two Harvard University researchers said in a study published on Wednesday they had collected scientific data proving Exxon Mobil Corp ( XOM.N ) made “explicit factual misrepresentations” in newspaper ads it purchased to convey its views on the oil industry and climate science. In an article in the journal Environmental Research Letters researchers, Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes, said they examined 187 documents, including internal memos, peer-reviewed papers by Exxon scientists and New York Times “advertorials” – paid advertisements in the style of opinion pieces. They said they used a social science analysis method to turn statements in the documents into data points that could be counted and compared to each other. Supran and Oreskes said that […]

Northwest heat wave leads to record levels of summer electricity demand

24 Aug 2017   Climate, USA

U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on National Weather Service and National Centers for Environmental Information Multiple record-breaking heat waves swept across the western United States this summer, with the latest occurring in the Pacific Northwest from August 1–4, 2017. Coincident with the hot weather, some of the largest electricity balancing authorities in the area experienced record-high summer electricity demand on their systems. In the region’s largest cities, the highest temperatures were seen on Thursday, August 3, when Portland reached 105 degrees and Seattle reached 94 degrees. These highs were 23 degrees and 17 degrees higher than the 30-year (1981–2010) average highs for that day for Portland and Seattle, respectively. Despite the proximity of the cities, Seattle’s summer temperatures can be notably lower than Portland’s because of the nearby Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean’s moderating effect on Seattle’s climate. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Electric System Operating […]

Typhoon Hato batters Hong Kong, streets flooded, flights canceled, trading halted

23 Aug 2017   China, Climate

Waves triggered by Typhoon Hato are seen in Hong Kong, China August 23, 2017. HONG KONG (Reuters) – Typhoon Hato, a maximum category 10 storm, slammed into Hong Kong on Wednesday lashing the Asian financial hub with destructive winds and waves which uprooted trees, flooded streets and forced most businesses to close. More than 400 flights were canceled, financial markets suspended and schools closed as Hato bore down on the city, the first category 10 storm to hit Hong Kong since typhoon Vicente in 2012. Many skyscrapers in the heart of the financial center were empty and in darkness as the city’s workers stayed at home and hunkered through the storm. Hato churned up Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour and triggered large swells and massive waves on some of the city’s most popular beaches, with serious flooding in low-lying areas. In residential districts like Heng Fa Chuen on densely […]

Harvey Threatens Gulf Coast, Sending Gasoline Higher

23 Aug 2017   Climate, USA

Remnants of Harvey could reform in southern Gulf of Mexico Flooding rains threaten Gulf Coast from Mexico to Louisiana The prospect of Tropical Storm Harvey reforming and taking aim at the Gulf of Mexico coastline later this week sent spot gasoline prices higher. Harvey, reduced to a collection of thunderstorms over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, has a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm again by Thursday as it moves into the Bay of Campeche, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. It initially formed last week east of Barbados before being torn apart by wind shear. The Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, is home to nearly 30 refineries — making up about 7 million barrels a day of refining capacity — and is in the path of heavy rainfall expected to start as early as Friday. Flooding poses risks to operations, while torrential […]

July ranks 2nd for heat globally, hottest recorded on land

18 Aug 2017   Climate

Earth yet again sizzled with unprecedented heat last month. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday Earth sweated to its second hottest month since recordkeeping began in 1880. At 61.89 degrees (16.63 Celsius), last month was behind July 2016’s all-time record by .09 degrees. But Earth’s land temperatures in July were the hottest on record at 59.96 degrees (15.5 Celsius), passing July 2016’s by one-seventh of a degree. Land measurements are important because that’s where we live, said NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch. Earlier this week, NASA calculated that July 2017 was a tad hotter than 2016, making it essentially a tie for all-time hottest month. NASA uses a newer set of ocean measurements and includes estimates for the Arctic unlike NOAA. Record heat was reported in Africa, Australia, parts of Asia, the Middle East and the Indian ocean, Crouch said. “There […]

New Orleans Scrambling to Fix Drainage System Following Heavy Rains

12 Aug 2017   Climate

Workers in New Orleans raced Friday to repair a broken power turbine that provides electricity for the city’s troubled drainage system and slowly brought it back online—ahead of more possible rain this weekend. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a press conference that the city was also ordering 26 additional generators “out of an abundance of…

Students, Cities and States Take the Climate Fight to Court

12 Aug 2017   Climate

Can the courts fix climate change?  Several groups and individuals around the United States have gone to court to try to do what the Trump administration has so far declined to do: confront the causes and effects of global warming.  In California, two counties and a city recently sued 37 fossil fuel companies, seeking funds to cover the costs of dealing with a warming world. In Oregon, a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of young people is moving toward a February trial date, though the so-called children’s suit could be tossed out before that. And more than a dozen state attorneys general have sued to block Trump administration moves to roll back environmental regulations.

Efforts in the United States are part of a wave of litigation around the world, including a 2015 decision in which a court in the Netherlands ordered the Dutch government to toughen its climate policies; that case is under appeal. A 2017 report from the United Nations Environment Program found nearly 900 climate litigation suits in more than 20 countries. In Switzerland, a group of nearly 800 older women known as Senior Women for Climate Protection have sued their government over climate change. In New Zealand, a court recently heard a climate case brought by a law student, Sarah Lorraine Thomson; a decision is pending.  But in the United States, lawsuits to get American courts to take on the climate fight have until now gone nowhere. In 2011, the Supreme Court threw out a case filed by eight states and New York City against electric power producers. A lawsuit brought by inhabitants of Kivalina, Alaska, against fossil fuel companies over the diminished buffer of sea ice that had protected the town was dismissed by a federal judge in 2009. A federal appeals court and the Supreme Court declined to reinstate the case.

China’s smog crackdown roils niche commodities markets

10 Aug 2017   China, Climate

China’s push for blue skies is roiling supplies and boosting prices of key raw materials from soymeal to ferroalloys as the government ramps up smog checks and forces some factories in the world’s top commodities market to close or suspend operations. With soymeal and gasoline prices surging, Shandong, China’s industrial and agricultural heartland, offered a snapshot into the impact in the market as environmental inspectors started to crisscross the eastern province. Shandong is one of eight provinces and regions now facing a fourth round of inspections by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. Soymeal at Rizhao, in Shandong,, has risen almost 3 percent this week, hitting a three-week high of 2,840 yuan ($424.32) per tonne on Wednesday even as a […]

It wasn’t even a hurricane, but heavy rains flooded New Orleans as pumps faltered

10 Aug 2017   Climate, USA

After Hurricane Katrina destroyed his house and forced him to flee to nearby Baton Rouge, Ronald Williams spent a dozen years waiting for the right time to go home. Seven months ago, after repeated government promises that New Orleans was once again about as flood-proof as the city can get, Williams finally got up the nerve to return. But on Saturday, from the steps of his new rental home, Williams watched water again pour through the city’s streets after a thunderstorm dropped as much as nine inches of rain in just four hours. The ensuing flood overwhelmed the city’s pump system and covered much of central New Orleans in several feet of water, taking 14 hours to drain […]

This Hurricane Season May Generate as Many as 19 Atlantic Storms

10 Aug 2017   Climate

The Atlantic hurricane season will probably end with an above-average 14 to 19 named storms that can rattle energy and agriculture markets now that it is almost certain a system-deterring Pacific El Nino won’t arrive.  At least 5 to 9 will become hurricanes with 2 to 5 becoming major systems with winds of 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour or more, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Storms are named when their winds reach 39 mph. In May, the agency said 11 to 17 storms would form.  “There is a possibility now that the season will be extremely active,” said Gerry Bell, lead hurricane seasonal forecaster at the U.S. Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “We are now entering the historical peak months of the season. This three month period is when the bulk of hurricanes occur.

El Nino, marked by a warming in the equatorial Pacific, can have a big influence on Atlantic storms. The phenomenon increases wind shear in the smaller ocean, which can tear apart tropical systems.  See Also: ‘Erratic’ Summer Weather Pinned on Lack of El-Nino Game Changer  The Earth’s most powerful storms can threaten lives, destroy property and move global energy and agricultural markets. An estimated $28.3 trillion worth of homes, businesses and infrastructure is vulnerable to hurricane strikes in the 18 U.S. Atlantic coastal states, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.  Florida, the world’s largest orange juice producer behind Brazil, is particularly vulnerable to hurricane strikes. And while dangerous winds can threaten life and property, heavy rains form storms can help crops, as was the case with Tropical Storm Emily last month.

‘Lucifer’ Heat Wave Keeps Parts of Europe in Red Alert – Bloomberg

7 Aug 2017   Climate

No wonder it’s been dubbed “Lucifer.”

A relentless heat wave that gripped parts of Europe this week has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for several days, causing at least two deaths and prompting authorities to issue severe weather warnings.

“It is just too much,” real estate agent Sasa Jovanovic, 52, said during an early morning walk in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, where the temperature was forecast to hit 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) Saturday. “Sometimes it feels as if I cannot breathe.”  The extreme heat stifling Serbia, Romania, Croatia and parts of Spain, France and Italy has fueled wildfires, damaged crops and strained energy and water supplies. Authorities in some areas issued traffic restrictions and banned outdoor work during the hottest part of the day. Spain’s national weather service on Saturday issued an emergency warning for high temperatures in 31 of the country’s 50 provinces as forecasts predicted temperatures of up to 44 C (111.2 F).Western and northern Europe, in contrast, was experiencing colder and wetter weather.

Climate change isn’t the end of the world

3 Aug 2017   Climate

Yes, the costs are not evenly spread. Some places will do better and some will do worse. The American South might be a worse place to grow wheat; Southern Canada might be a better one. In a century, Miami might find itself in approximately the same situation as the Dutch city of Rotterdam today. But spread over a century, the costs of moving and adapting are not as imposing as they seem. Rotterdam’s dikes are expensive, but not prohibitively so. Most buildings are rebuilt about every 50 years. If we simply stopped building in flood-prone areas and started building on higher ground, even the costs of moving cities would be bearable. Migration is costly. But much of the world’s population moved from farms to cities in the 20th century. Allowing people to move to better climates in the 21st will be equally possible. Such investments in climate adaptation are […]

The Miami area endured an absurd flooding event Tuesday afternoon

3 Aug 2017   Climate

During the afternoon hours Tuesday, torrential rain drenched parts of Miami and Miami Beach. Four to seven inches of rain fell in a matter of a few hours before and during the evening rush, causing extensive flooding and gridlock. Cars floated on the curbs, and neighbors helped push stranded motorists down the street. Parked cars on flooded roads bobbed in the wake as larger trucks and SUVs passed. Five-hour radar loop spanning the heaviest rain during the afternoon hours. (Brian McNoldy) This region is no stranger to tropical downpours, but this amount of rain falling in a short time will create flash flooding just about anywhere. And in some ways, because it is so low-lying, this region is more vulnerable to flooding than many as it depends on storm drains being able to drain into nearby Biscayne Bay. Unfortunately, in this case, the water had nowhere to go as […]

Earth to warm 3.6 degrees by end of century

1 Aug 2017   Climate

By the end of the century, the global temperature is likely to rise more than 3.6 degrees. This rise in temperature is the ominous conclusion reached by two studies using entirely different methods published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday. One study used statistical analysis to show there is a 95 percent chance that Earth will warm more than 3.6 degrees at century’s end, and a 1 percent chance that it will be at or below the 3.6-degree mark. “The likely range of global temperature increase is 2.0-4.9 [degrees Celsius] and our median forecast is 3.2 Celsius,” said Adrian Raftery, author of the first study. “Our model is based on data which already show the effect of existing emission mitigation policies. Achieving the goal of less than 1.5 Celsius warming will require carbon intensity to decline much faster than in the recent past.” The second study analyzed […]

Vice premier urges efforts on air pollution control in north China

1 Aug 2017   China, Climate

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli attends a meeting on air pollution control in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and other nearby areas in north China, in Beijing, capital of China, July 31, 2017. (Xinhua/Wang Ye) BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) — Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli Monday urged solid efforts on air pollution control in north China in the coming fall and winter seasons. China has made progress in the fight against air pollution in the first half of this year, but the situation in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and other nearby areas remains grim and there are still weak links in air pollution control, especially in the fall and winter seasons, Zhang said at a meeting in Beijing. Authorities should take targeted measures to prevent air pollution and tackle key problems, Zhang said.

At EPA museum, history might be in for a change

31 Jul 2017   Climate

An Environmental Protection Agency exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Building. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post) Scott Pruitt has repeated a particular line again and again since becoming the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. “The future ain’t what it used to be at the EPA,” he’s fond of saying . As it turns out, the past may not be what it once was, either. In an obscure corner of the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building, a debate is underway about how to tell the story of the EPA’s history and mission. A miniature museum that began as a pet project of former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy has come under scrutiny. It features the agency’s work over 4½ decades, with exhibits topics such as regulating carbon dioxide emissions and the Paris climate accord. The Obama administration championed such efforts, but President Trump’s policies are at odds with them. Now the museum, […]

How California Plans to Go Far Beyond Any Other State on Climate

27 Jul 2017   Climate

Over the past decade, California has passed a sweeping set of climate laws to test a contentious theory: that it’s possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond what any other state has done and still enjoy robust economic growth. Now that theory faces its biggest test yet. Last August, the State Legislature set a goal of slashing emissions more than 40 percent below today’s levels by 2030, a far deeper cut than President Barack Obama proposed for the entire United States and deeper than most other countries have contemplated. So how will California pull this off? On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law expanding the state’s cap-and-trade program , which is expected to play a big role. But cutting greenhouse gases this deeply will involve more than cap and trade . The state plans to rethink every corner of its economy, from urban planning to dairy […]

EPA chief spent almost half of spring in home state of Oklahoma

24 Jul 2017   Climate, USA

 The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was in his home state of Oklahoma on at least 43 of the 92 days of March, April and May, according to copies of his travel records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project watchdog group and reviewed by Reuters. Pruitt’s frequent visits to Oklahoma have raised concerns among critics that he is cultivating political relationships in the state at taxpayer expense, instead of focusing on his job as head of the environmental regulator. EPA officials contend that Pruitt works hard and pays for his trips home to Tulsa to see his wife and children. “Administrator Pruitt works long hours and is available around the clock,” said EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. “He is extremely focused and disciplined, which is evident by the fact that he spearheaded over two dozen significant regulatory actions since being sworn in.” Pruitt has […]

Trump just nominated a climate change skeptic to USDA’s top science post

21 Jul 2017   Climate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture building in Washington (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post) This story has been updated. President Trump on Wednesday nominated Sam Clovis, a former college professor and talk radio host who has challenged the scientific consensus that human activity has been the primary driver of climate change, to serve in the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post. “Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted advisor and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement Wednesday evening. “He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing […]