Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Thursday, September 08, 2016

Bridge fuel or scam fuel? Methane energy emissions surpass coal, but oil emissions rising

by Gaius Publius

Methane ("America's clean natural gas") is being touted and sold as the "bridge fuel" from carbon emissions from all sources, including oil. In fact, methane is turning out to be a bridge fuel away from coal only, a bridge fuel that's having almost no effect on overall emissions. See the charts below and note the rise of emissions from petroleum as methane emissions replace coal emissions.

Emissions from methane (natural gas) are replacing emissions from coal, but not petroleum (source; click to enlarge).

In the meantime total CO2 emission in the U.S from all sources is essentially flat:

Total U.S. CO2 emissions, 1990–2014 (source; click to enlarge)

Methane may be a bridge fuel from coal, but it's not a bridge to fewer overall emissions, not by a long shot.

This news comes from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (which is touting methane, by the way):
Energy-related CO2 emissions from natural gas surpass coal as fuel use patterns change

Energy-associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from natural gas are expected to surpass those from coal for the first time since 1972. Even though natural gas is less carbon-intensive than coal, increases in natural gas consumption and decreases in coal consumption in the past decade have resulted in natural gas-related CO2 emissions surpassing those from coal. EIA's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook projects energy-related CO2 emissions from natural gas to be 10% greater than those from coal in 2016....

In 2015, natural gas consumption was 81% higher than coal consumption, and their emissions were nearly equal. Both fuels were associated with about 1.5 billion metric tons of energy-related CO2 emissions in the United States in 2015.
Three points about this announcement:

First, it's good that coal is being used less and less, but coal still has a large emissions footprint, as this 2006 chart shows.

Second, reducing the use of coal is a mixed blessing. Coal emissions (poisonously) contain particulate matter (various kinds of soot, or as scientists say, "aerosols") that in part act to reduce global warming because they tend to reflect some of the sun's energy back into space before it hits the earth and becomes heat. Dr. Michael Mann has a fuller explanation here.

Bottom line, if we don't reduce coal use, Mann estimates we "lock in" +2°C global warming likely in the early 2030s, as atmospheric CO2 reaches 450 ppm. If we (somehow, miraculously) do eliminate coal use, we lock in +2°C global warming as soon as atmospheric CO2 reaches 405 ppm, a level we've already crossed on the monthly chart (source and discussion here). Climate people call the use of coal a "Faustian bargain."

Third, look again at the total emissions chart above. People, especially in government (like the EIA) and the energy industry, like to tout the CO2 emissions reduction "since 2005." That reduction was (a) caused almost completely by the global slowdown in economic activity due to the financial crisis that followed, and (b) not much of a reduction, unless you eliminate most of the bottom of the chart to exaggerate the change (as here).

Is it an emergency yet?

Yes. For one thing, methane is not a bridge fuel. I'm willing to bet money that no prospective investor in a methane-burning energy facility is being told that the facility will be torn down in 10 years and replaced with something else, like a zero-carbon power plant. On the contrary, I think investors are being told that putting money into new methane (natural gas) infrastructure is a long-term profit-maker. No bridge fuel for us; just the words.

And it probably doesn't hurt the industry's future that Exxon is the "largest natural gas producer in the U.S."

But more to the point, we just don't have the time, even if methane were used as a true bridge fuel. Atmospheric CO2 is accelerating, with 2014 and 2015 being named, successively, "the hottest year on record." Also, the 10 warmest years in the historical record all occurred since 1998. If we don't put the brakes on now — the real brakes, not just the rhetorical ones — it won't matter who's president for the next eight years, Clinton, Sanders, Trump or Genghis Khan. They'll all be powerless to stop what everyone can see coming and is panicked about.

For more on why a "WWII-style mobilization" is both possible and necessary, see the section "The Zero Carbon Economy, a Rationing Regime that Works" here. To work to build a Mobilize Now awareness, you might start here.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)