03 Oct

NYTimes.com – Corporations Getting New Tools for Calculating Emissions

The creators of influential measures of greenhouse gas emissions plan to announce two new tools for corporations on Tuesday.

One is a way to calculate the amount of climate-warming gases released through a company’s supply chain, as well as in the use and disposal of its products. A standardized way of calculating such emissions had eluded energy experts and statisticians for several years. The tool is known as Scope 3.

The second tool is for calculating the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and four other gases linked to climate change across a consumer product’s entire life cycle. With a toaster, for example, a company would seek to count greenhouse gases released in the mining of elements for its metal shell and the coal burned to make the electricity to power it — and even the fuel burned when the toaster is carted away.

Now that there is a method for tallying those emissions, experts hope to refine it in years to come, perhaps eventually enabling consumers to compare the greenhouse gas footprints of, say, two frozen dinners or two sofas.

via NYTimes.com – Corporations Getting New Tools for Calculating Emissions. I would be skeptical of any tool able to reasonably estimate this in a meaningful way, just too many differences across the whole ecosystem of every product from the original ore being mined to manufacturing to shipping to use by the end user. Plus the difficulties in presenting this information in a way that actually means something to the business. That being said more tools to enable customers to estimate what effect that new laptop has, is a good idea.

06 Mar

Scientific American Blogs – Observations: Can we get off oil now?

To be clear, the goal is to break U.S. addiction to oil, not just foreign oil. Oil prices are global, and as Woolsey points out, the U.S. has no domestic leverage. Greatly increasing our own offshore oil drilling could lower imports a little, but it won’t lower world prices; it is too easy for OPEC to manipulate production to offset the effects of any new U.S. supply.

The payoff of significantly reducing oil consumption would reach far beyond the economy and the environment, by the way. A study by Boyden Gray and Andrew Varcoe noted that oil companies are permitted under a waiver of the Clean Air Act to include known carcinogens such as benzene, toluene and xylene in gasoline, which raise octane (power output). The study showed that the added cost to healthcare and shortened lives in the U.S. comes to more than $100 billion a year.

The U.S. can take a number of steps to reduce oil consumption and to create liquid fuels that can substitute for oil.

via Scientific American Blogs – Observations: Can we get off oil now?. The argument of drill here, drill now, doesn’t really mean much.

04 Feb

Union of Concerned Scientists – FoxNews.com Article Uncritically Passes on Climate Misinformation

A January 24 FoxNews.com article, “Five Reasons the Planet May Not Be Its Hottest Ever,” uncritically repeated a number of discredited claims by climate contrarians questioning whether or not the planet is warming. The story, which does not include a byline identifying the author, featured only climate contrarians. Evidence-based conclusions about climate science were shut out.

The arguments at the heart of this piece are at this point very familiar to anyone following this issue. Here are the main claims made in the article and why they miss the point or simply wrong:

via Union of Concerned Scientists – FoxNews.com Article Uncritically Passes on Climate Misinformation. Nice take down UCS.

15 Nov

NYTimes.com – I Believe I Can Fly

Where do I start? We know that these were not the Republican goals because they had eight years under George W. Bush to pursue them and did just the opposite. And even if we assume that this time they really mean it, they’ve never explained what programs they would cut and how doing that now won’t make our recession worse. But even if they did, these are the wrong priorities. Our priorities now are to mitigate the recession that was set in motion under Bush and to put the country on a path to sustainable economic growth. That will require vastly improving the education and skills of our work force and enabling them with 21st-century infrastructure so they will be smarter and more productive. We know that tax cuts alone won’t do that; we just had that test, too, under Bush. It requires a complex strategy for American renewal — raising some taxes, like on energy, while lowering others, like on workers and corporations; and investing in new infrastructure, schools and research, while cutting other services.

via NYTimes.com – I Believe I Can Fly. Remember the Republican agenda old failed ideas and non-ideas.

25 Jul

Scientific American – The New Normal? Average Global Temperatures Continue to Rise

This trend reaches back further than a couple of years. There have been exactly zero months, since February 1985, with average temperatures below those for the entire 20th century. (And those numbers are not as dramatic as they could be, because the last 15 years of the 20th century included in this period raised its average temperature, thereby lessening the century-long heat differential.) That streak—304 months and counting—was certainly not broken in June 2010, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Last month saw average global surface temperatures 0.68 degree Celsius warmer than the 20th-century average of 15.5 degrees C for June—making it the warmest June at ground level since record-keeping began in 1880.

via Scientific American – The New Normal? Average Global Temperatures Continue to Rise. But of course climate change is a made up fiction of scientists bent on ridding the world of oil, or something?