Carbon Dioxide Levels Hit Highest Level In 3 Million Years, While Plastic Industry Plans Big Growth
Canadian Permafrost Thawing 70 Years Early, As U.S. EPA Gives Coal A Reprieve

New Paper Outlines Doomsday Climate Scenario, And U.S. Plans First Oil Lease Sale In Alaska Arctic Refuge

From USA Today: “End of civilization: climate change apocalypse could start by 2050 if we don't act, report warns.”

Excerpts:

A chilling Australian policy paper outlining a Doomsday scenario for humans if we don’t start dealing with climate change suggests that by 2050 we could see irreversible damage to global climate systems resulting in a world of chaos where political panic is the norm and we are on a path facing the end of civilization.

The worst thing about it, say experts, is that it’s actually a fairly calm and rational look at just how bad things could get — and how quickly — if humans don’t stop emitting greenhouse gases into the environment.

The scenarios "don't seem that far-fetched to me. I don't think there's anything too crazy about them," said Adam Sobel, a professor of applies physics and mathematics at Columbia University in New York City who studies atmospheric and climate dynamics. 

The paper was written by an independent think-tank in Australia called Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration. It offer a scenario for 2050 in a world where humans didn't lower carbon emissions enough to keep the global temperature from rising.

Last year's United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said the world’s nations must quickly reduce fossil fuel use to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The transitions, the report said, must start now and be well underway in the next 20 years. 

The Australian report imagines a world where that didn't happen and global temperatures warmed by 3 degrees Celsius or even more. That's a rise of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. While that may not seem like a lot, on a worldwide scale it is expected to result in massive, catastrophic shifts to the weather, agriculture and even the habitability of some areas. 

"Three degrees Celsius by 2100 is a pretty middle-of-the-road estimate. It's not extreme and it's totally believable," if serious action isn't taken, said Sobel.

The writers say their scenario offers a "glimpse into a world of 'outright chaos' on a path to the end of human civilization and modern society as we have known it, in which the challenges of global security are simply overwhelming and political panic becomes the norm.”

From Smithsonian.com:  “Record-Breaking Heat in Alaska Wreaks Havoc on Communities and Ecosystems.”

Excerpts:

Alaska in March is supposed to be cold. Along the north and west coasts, the ocean should be frozen farther than the eye can see. In the state’s interior, rivers should be locked in ice so thick that they double as roads for snowmobiles and trucks. And where I live, near Anchorage in south-central Alaska, the snowpack should be deep enough to support skiing for weeks to come. But this year, a record-breaking heatwave upended norms and had us basking in comfortable—but often unsettling—warmth.

Across Alaska, March temperatures averaged 11 degrees Celsius above normal. The deviation was most extreme in the Arctic where, on March 30, thermometers rose almost 22 degrees Celsius above normal—to 3 degrees. That still sounds cold, but it was comparatively hot.

“It’s hard to characterize that anomaly, it’s just pretty darn remarkable for that part of the world,” says Rick Thoman, a climate specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy in Fairbanks. The state’s wave of warmth was part of a weeks-long weather pattern that shattered temperature records across our immense state, contributing to losses of both property and life. “When you have a slow grind of warming like that, lasting weeks or months, it affects people’s lives,” Thoman says.

From the Guardian:  “Thousands could perish annually in US if global heating not curbed, study finds.”

Excerpts:

Thousands of heat-related deaths in major US cities could be avoided if rising global temperatures are curbed, new research has found.

On current global heating trends, thousands of people are set to perish due to the heat every year across 15 major US cities, in an analysis by a team of British and American researchers.

Once the average worldwide temperature rises to 3C (5.4F) above the pre-industrial period nearly 5,800 people are expected to die each year in New York City due to the heat, more than 2,500 are forecast to die annually in Los Angeles and more than 2,300 lives will be lost annually in Miami.

This dire scenario would probably be avoided if the world was able to keep to its commitments made in the Paris climate agreement, where governments pledged to limit the global temperature rise to 2C, with an aspiration to keep the increase to 1.5C.

...

From Reuters:  “U.S. vows first oil lease sale in Alaska Arctic refuge this year.”

Excerpts:

The U.S. Interior Department is determined to sell oil leases for the first time this year in the ecologically sensitive but presumably petroleum-rich coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a Trump administration official said on Thursday.

“That lease sale will happen in 2019,” Joe Balash, the assistant interior secretary for lands and minerals management, told an oil industry conference in Anchorage.

The decision marks a likely turning point in a decades-long battle between environmental groups and fossil energy companies over the Beaufort Sea coast of the wildlife refuge, home to caribou, polar bear and other Arctic wildlife east of Alaska’s North Slope oil fields.

The refuge had been off-limits to oil and gas drilling until the end of 2017, when Congress passed a tax overhaul that included a mandate for oil leasing there.

The tax bill requires the Interior Department to hold a lease sale within four years, offering at least 400,000 acres for development within the coastal plain of ANWR, America’s largest wildlife sanctuary.

From the Houston Chronicle:  “Permian gas flaring hits new record highs for 'widespread waste,' pollution.”

Excerpts:

The flaring of natural gas in West Texas' booming Permian Basin has exceeded previous estimates and is now contributing to far more "widespread waste" and pollution than ever before, according to a new report.

Burned off or vented natural gas in the Permian is projected at a new high of 661 million cubic feet per day in June, way up from previous record highs of about 450 million cubic feet a day late last year, the Norwegian research firm Rystad Energy said Tuesday.

As companies drill for oil, they're also pumping out large volumes of associated natural gas that frequently has nowhere to go because of temporary pipeline shortages in the region. So they're opting to simply waste the gas by burning it off in a practice know as flaring until new outlets can carry their energy products to market.

Houston’s Kinder Morgan is currently building two massive gas pipelines to carry the product to the Gulf Coast markets in Corpus Christi and Houston, but only one of them will be completed this year.

"We anticipate that basin-wide flaring will stay above 650 million cubic feet a day before the Gulf Coast Express pipeline comes online in the second half of 2019," says Artem Abramov, head of shale research at Rystad.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas that traps considerably more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, helping to accelerate climate change.

From S&P Global Platts: “Shell sees LNG market growth at 4% a year, plans to 'grow with it': CEO.”

Excerpts:

Anglo-Dutch major Shell expects the global LNG market to grow by 4% a year to 2035 and the company plans to "grow with it," maintaining its leading position in the market, CEO Ben van Beurden said Tuesday.

Speaking at a management day in London, van Beurden said the company had an "unmatched" LNG supply portfolio globally with a 22% share of global LNG sales in 2018, and a trading function that allowed Shell to do "serious" optimization.

Global LNG imports in 2018 were some 314 million mt, according to industry group GIIGNL, but Shell sees the market doubling in size by 2035.

"The gas market and LNG in particular will continue to grow," van Beurden said, adding that by 2035 more than 70% of energy demand growth will be met by gas and renewables combined.

China and India, he said, would drive a lot of that growth thanks to their stated policy goal of a preference for gas over coal in power generation.

From the Barents Observer:  “Moscow’s new energy doctrine warns against green shift.”

Excerpts:

Subhead:  “International efforts against climate change are alright, but only as long as they do not encroach on the country’s oil and gas interests.”

Russia is experiencing dramatic and unprecedented climate change, and effects could be detrimental for national development. Consequences are already clearly seen in the country’s Arctic where ice is melting at record-speed and average temperatures several places have hiked up to five centigrades above normal.

However, for the country that controls a lion’s share of Arctic territories, the vast lands of the North are seen first and foremost as an area of natural resources and great revenue. And anything that could put those interests in jeopardy is perceived as a threat.

The new Energy Doctrine signed in mid-May by Vladimir Putin makes clear that Russia’s position as energy superpower is challenged by international efforts to combat climate change.

The document states that international climate efforts and the rapid shift to a “green economy” must be perceived as a foreign policy challenge. Likewise, it highlights that the growing share of alternative energy sources in the global fuel and energy balance is an issue of concern.

The energy doctrine makes clear that Russia «supports international efforts aimed at counter-acting climate change and is ready to cooperate in the field with all counties». 

At the same time it highlights that Russia takes part in the international climate policy issues only “to the extent to which it corresponds with its national interests.”

“Russia considers it unacceptable to assess the issues of climate change and protection of the environment from a biased point of view, [with] infringement of the interests of countries that produce energy resources and the deliberate ignoring of aspects of sustainable development such as general access to energy and development of clean hydrocarbon energy technologies.”

Russian authorities are well aware of the dramatic climate changes unfolding in the country. But for Moscow it is not climate change itself that is the most threatening. More important are the effects it could have on its position as global leader in energy production. Russia is the world’s biggest producer of oil and second biggest of natural gas and makes the lion’s share of its revenues from energy exports.

Consequently, the new doctrine describes the shrinking of Russia’s traditional energy markets abroad as a key security threat.

From S&P Global Platts: “Angola kick-starts plan to address dramatic output decline.”

Excerpts:

Angola's steep decline in crude production over the past three years has been tough to ignore. The government led by President Joao Lourenco has unearthed a plan that includes tendering as many as 50 marginal fields to foreign oil companies in a bid to revive its crude output.

On Tuesday, the newly created National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG), which is responsible for all upstream concessions in the country, announced the details of its new licensing round, including a total of 10 blocks.

ANPG President Paulino Jeronimo, speaking at the Angola Oil and Gas conference in Luanda, said nine blocks will be offered in the Namibe basin, with one bock in the Benguela basin.

This round is aimed at ensuring "the replacement of reserves and the promotion of exploration activity," Jeronimo said.

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