Sunday, May 30, 2010

Senator Bernie Sanders on the BP Oil Spill and America's Energy Policy

Open Mike, Memorial Day Weekend Edition, May 29-31

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an unmitigated disaster. Its full consequences will not be known for decades, but we already know that one of the most beautiful and productive coastal regions in the world is being turned into a giant cesspool and that thousands of workers are going to lose their livelihoods.

This crisis occurred at a time when the United States was considering opening new areas to offshore oil drilling. The fact is that offshore drilling simply does not achieve the goals that its advocates claim, and it is not worth the risk. If we are serious about wanting to break our dependence on foreign oil and move to energy independence; if we want to lower the cost of energy; if we want to combat climate change and cut greenhouse gas emissions; if we want to create millions of new jobs – then more offshore drilling is not the way to go.

That is why I have introduced legislation to reinstate a ban on new offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves and along Florida's Gulf coast and dramatically increase fuel efficiency for vehicles sold in America.

Instead of saving three cents a gallon by 2030 by allowing wide open offshore drilling, we can save far more with stronger fuel economy standards. Just by raising our fuel efficiency standards to 35.5 miles per gallon for cars and trucks, as President Obama is doing, we will save consumers the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gas in 2030. If we enacted my legislation, we would reach 55 miles per gallon by 2030. That would save motorists the equivalent of $1.43 a gallon of gas. It also would eliminate the need for 3.9 million barrels of oil per day, more than double the amount we now import from Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia.

We know we can get better fuel economy, because other nations are already doing it. The European Union currently gets 42 miles per gallon and is moving to 65 miles per gallon by 2020. China, Canada, Japan, and South Korea all have stronger fuel economy standards than the United States.

If we take bold action in energy efficiency, public transportation, advanced vehicle technologies, solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, we can transform our energy system, clean up our environment, and create millions of new jobs in the process.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wall Street Journal Article Analyzes Causes of Accident

Capt. Curt Kuchta, the Deepwater Horizon's commander, was hosting two BP executives on board for a ceremony honoring the rig for seven years without a serious accident.

With the Deepwater Horizon rig six weeks behind schedule and millions over budget, BP made a number of decisions with the Gulf well that saved money, saved time, and set the stage for the disaster, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.

Read the Wall Street Journal article

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mr. Wilson's Proposal to Ford Shareholders

Mr. Frederick Wilson, of Grand Blanc, MI, submitted a proposal titled “Don’t Waste Corporate Funds on CO2 Reduction,” which was voted on at the May 13, 2010, annual meeting of Ford shareholders. Wilson, who ran unsuccessfully on the 2008 Republican ticket for the Genesee County office of Register of Deeds, an office he pledged to eliminate if elected, is a “life member” of the National Rifle Association, and “a member of the Linden Sportsmen Club, and Ottawa Hills Cabana Club swim team.”
Wilson worked 30 years for General Motors and its affiliate Delphi, but he apparently invested his hard earned dollars in Ford stock, of which he owns 450 shares. Mr. Wilson's proposal included statements that were illogical and/or patently false. This could have been determined by anyone who wasn't too lazy, ignorant, or politically predisposed against climate science to do so. His proposal, reproduced below, was soundly defeated, garnering only 2.1% of the votes cast. And yet that 2.1% represented 854,187 shares voted by those lazy, ignorant, and/or politically predisposed shareholders. The number of shares voted in favor of Mr. Wilson's proposal is troubling, but what is more troubling is Ford's rationale for recommending that shareholders vote against the proposal. Instead of saying, in so many words, that Wilson is a wing nut, they write about how research in CO2 reduction might meet Ford investment return targets.
Proposal 8
Mr. Fredrick Wilson of 1305 Rollins St., Grand Blanc, Michigan 48439, owner of 450 shares of common stock, has informed the Company that he plans to present the following proposal at the meeting:

Don’t Waste Corporate Funds on CO2 Reduction

Whereas: Newly Corrected Data from NASA shows that the warmest year in the last 129 years is 1934. No year since then has been warmer. Check it out .
Whereas: The Concentration of Atmospheric CO2 has increased by approximately 33% since 1889, or from 290 to 385 Parts Per Million, with most of that increase occurring from 1934 to 2009.
Whereas: If the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is the causative factor for Global Climate Temperature Change, then the increase in CO2 has caused Global Cooling. Since Mr. Wilson is incorrect in his assertion that global cooling is taking place, this assertion, ipso facto, is also incorrect.
Whereas: 1998 is the warmest recent year. There have now been 11 years of global cooling. The winter of 2007-8 set global records for cold temperatures and large amount of snowfall, erasing the approximately 20 years of warming from circa 1980 to 1998. The IPCC is now stating that the globe is cooling. Huh? Globally, 2009 was tied for the second hottest year on record. And if the El Nino effect this year is as strong as expected, 2010 is likely to be hotter yet. The globe is not cooling, the IPCC has never stated that the globe is cooling, and, in fact, the IPCC Chairman, addressing attendees at the December 7, 2009, climate conference in Copenhagen, said, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global sea level”; and “most of the observed increase in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.” Check it out .
Whereas: Over 90% of the Earth’s ice is in Antarctica, which is growing in both mass and thickness. The Winter of 2007-8 fully replenished the coastal ice banks that had been recently reduced. Check it out .
Whereas: Over $50 billion has been spent to document man-made global warming. The latest IPCC report said that the temperature might rise about 1⁄2 (0.50 C) of a degree this century, about the same as last century, and that sea levels might rise about 1 foot this century, about the same as last century. Which is no real problem. No real problem for whom? According to the IPCC, If greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized (fat chance), sea level would nonetheless continue to rise for hundreds of years. After 500 years, sea level rise from thermal expansion may have reached only half of its eventual level, which models suggest may lie within ranges of 0.5 to 2.0 m and 1 to 4 m for CO2 levels of twice and four times pre-industrial, respectively (1 meter = 3.281 feet). So, tell the people in Bangladesh that sea level rise is "no real problem."
Whereas: The science is not settled, it has never been settled. There is no “consensus” of scientists, there has never been a “consensus”. At OISM.ORG is a list of over 31,000 scientists (with over 9,000 Ph.D’s) who state that global climate change is a natural, not man-made, effect. This Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OSIM) balderdash has been debunked so many times it's hardly worth the effort. But the linked web essay is a fun read.
Whereas: A chart of CO2 and temperature over the last 650,000 years, an Al Gore favorite, when properly examined, shows that the temperature goes up or down, and 400 to 1000 years later, CO2 goes up or down. CO2 is a trailing indicator, and not a causative factor for global temperatures.Well, Mr. Wilson is right about one thing, temperature does "go up or down." But the temperature trend goes up, and up, and up. Check it out.
Whereas: According to Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the University of Wisconsin Department of Meteorology, called the British Institute of Geographers as the most frequently cited climatologist in the world: “Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor ... And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide? Eight hundredths of one percent. It is one one-thousandth as important as water vapor.” Water vapor is a climate feedback, not a forcing function, as is CO2 and other GHGs.
Whereas: Water Vapor, cloud formation and interactions with the Sun and its various cycles, and with the Sun’s solar wind and interaction with cosmic rays, are all valid science that need to be studied, since CO2 does not correlate as a causative factor. Wrong again, Mr. Wilson. Check it out .
Therefore: Ford should not fund or undertake any energy savings projects that are solely concerned with CO2 reduction, but that each project must meet Corporate Return on Investment guidelines and any CO2 reduction would solely be a by-product of any energy cost reductions.
The Board of Directors recommends a Vote “against” Proposal 8.
The Board opposes this proposal because we do not believe it is in the best interests of the Company or shareholders. Reducing CO2 emissions from our products and facilities has many benefits and the Company has funded many projects that have made our products and facilities more efficient. These efforts will continue. The development of the EcoBoost engine is just one example of a project that has increased the efficiency of our products while also reducing CO2 emissions. Customers value vehicles that limit CO2 emissions.
Research into reducing CO2 emissions could lead to other improvements in the efficiency and the value of our products. Adopting the proposal would limit the Company’s ability to conduct research that may lead to further improvements in the efficiency of our products and facilities. The proposal would require that such research meet corporate return on investment guidelines prior to determining whether that result is achievable. Research allows us to determine whether a particular project is worth pursuing and it is only later that we learn whether any individual research project will meet our investment return targets. If our research staff were limited in the manner suggested by the proposal, the future innovations our engineers and scientists may bring to our products could be severely curtailed. Consequently, the Board does not believe that the proposal is in the best interests of the Company or shareholders. The Board of Directors recommends a Vote “against” Proposal 8.
Mr. Wilson's proposal was indeed defeated, 97.9% to 2.1%.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science -- An Open Letter from 255 Members of the US National Academy of Sciences

Science 7 May 2010:
Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 689 - 690
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.689

Pictured: Peter Gleick, Corresponding Author

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial—scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That's what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of "well-established theories" and are often spoken of as "facts." For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5 billion years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14 billion years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today's organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world's scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business-as-usual practices. We urge our policy-makers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.

We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: We can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

P. H. Gleick,* R. M. Adams, R. M. Amasino, E. Anders, D. J. Anderson, W. W. Anderson, L. E. Anselin, M. K. Arroyo, B. Asfaw, F. J. Ayala, A. Bax, A. J. Bebbington, G. Bell, M. V. L. Bennett, J. L. Bennetzen, M. R. Berenbaum, O. B. Berlin, P. J. Bjorkman, E. Blackburn, J. E. Blamont, M. R. Botchan, J. S. Boyer, E. A. Boyle, D. Branton, S. P. Briggs, W. R. Briggs, W. J. Brill, R. J. Britten, W. S. Broecker, J. H. Brown, P. O. Brown, A. T. Brunger, J. Cairns, Jr., D. E. Canfield, S. R. Carpenter, J. C. Carrington, A. R. Cashmore, J. C. Castilla, A. Cazenave, F. S. Chapin, III, A. J. Ciechanover, D. E. Clapham, W. C. Clark, R. N. Clayton, M. D. Coe, E. M. Conwell, E. B. Cowling, R. M Cowling, C. S. Cox, R. B. Croteau, D. M. Crothers, P. J. Crutzen, G. C. Daily, G. B. Dalrymple, J. L. Dangl, S. A. Darst, D. R. Davies, M. B. Davis, P. V. de Camilli, C. Dean, R. S. Defries, J. Deisenhofer, D. P. Delmer, E. F. Delong, D. J. Derosier, T. O. Diener, R. Dirzo, J. E. Dixon, M. J. Donoghue, R. F. Doolittle, T. Dunne, P. R. Ehrlich, S. N. Eisenstadt, T. Eisner, K. A. Emanuel, S. W. Englander, W. G. Ernst, P. G. Falkowski, G. Feher, J. A. Ferejohn, A. Fersht, E. H. Fischer, R. Fischer, K. V. Flannery, J. Frank, P. A. Frey, I. Fridovich, C. Frieden, D. J. Futuyma, W. R. Gardner, C. J. R. Garrett, W. Gilbert, R. B. Goldberg, W. H. Goodenough, C. S. Goodman, M. Goodman, P. Greengard, S. Hake, G. Hammel, S. Hanson, S. C. Harrison, S. R. Hart, D. L. Hartl, R. Haselkorn, K. Hawkes, J. M. Hayes, B. Hille, T. Hökfelt, J. S. House, M. Hout, D. M. Hunten, I. A. Izquierdo, A. T. Jagendorf, D. H. Janzen, R. Jeanloz, C. S. Jencks, W. A. Jury, H. R. Kaback, T. Kailath, P. Kay, S. A. Kay, D. Kennedy, A. Kerr, R. C. Kessler, G. S. Khush, S. W. Kieffer, P. V. Kirch, K. Kirk, M. G. Kivelson, J. P. Klinman, A. Klug, L. Knopoff, H. Kornberg, J. E. Kutzbach, J. C. Lagarias, K. Lambeck, A. Landy, C. H. Langmuir, B. A. Larkins, X. T. Le Pichon, R. E. Lenski, E. B. Leopold, S. A. Levin, M. Levitt, G. E. Likens, J. Lippincott-Schwartz, L. Lorand, C. O. Lovejoy, M. Lynch, A. L. Mabogunje, T. F. Malone, S. Manabe, J. Marcus, D. S. Massey, J. C. McWilliams, E. Medina, H. J. Melosh, D. J. Meltzer, C. D. Michener, E. L. Miles, H. A. Mooney, P. B. Moore, F. M. M. Morel, E. S. Mosley-Thompson, B. Moss, W. H. Munk, N. Myers, G. B. Nair, J. Nathans, E. W. Nester, R. A. Nicoll, R. P. Novick, J. F. O'Connell, P. E. Olsen, N. D. Opdyke, G. F. Oster, E. Ostrom, N. R. Pace, R. T. Paine, R. D. Palmiter, J. Pedlosky, G. A. Petsko, G. H. Pettengill, S. G. Philander, D. R. Piperno, T. D. Pollard, P. B. Price, Jr., P. A. Reichard, B. F. Reskin, R. E. Ricklefs, R. L. Rivest, J. D. Roberts, A. K. Romney, M. G. Rossmann, D. W. Russell, W. J. Rutter, J. A. Sabloff, R. Z. Sagdeev, M. D. Sahlins, A. Salmond, J. R. Sanes, R. Schekman, J. Schellnhuber, D. W. Schindler, J. Schmitt, S. H. Schneider, V. L. Schramm, R. R. Sederoff, C. J. Shatz, F. Sherman, R. L. Sidman, K. Sieh, E. L. Simons, B. H. Singer, M. F. Singer, B. Skyrms, N. H. Sleep, B. D. Smith, S. H. Snyder, R. R. Sokal, C. S. Spencer, T. A. Steitz, K. B. Strier, T. C. Südhof, S. S. Taylor, J. Terborgh, D. H. Thomas, L. G. Thompson, R. T. Tjian, M. G. Turner, S. Uyeda, J. W. Valentine, J. S. Valentine, J. L. van Etten, K. E. van Holde, M. Vaughan, S. Verba, P. H. von Hippel, D. B. Wake, A. Walker, J. E. Walker, E. B. Watson, P. J. Watson, D. Weigel, S. R. Wessler, M. J. West-Eberhard, T. D. White, W. J. Wilson, R. V. Wolfenden, J. A. Wood, G. M. Woodwell, H. E. Wright, Jr., C. Wu, C. Wunsch, M. L. Zoback

Monday, May 10, 2010

US Energy Sources and Demand by Sector

Where does the U. S. gets its energy?

85% from fossil fuels:
39% from petroleum
23% from natural gas
23% from coal

8% from nuclear fission - all used for electricity

3% from biomass - mostly used for fuel
3% from hydro - mostly used for electricity

1% from geothermal, wind and solar total

What happens to this energy?

55% is utilized:
41% used directly as fuel for vehicles, as feedstocks for industrial products, and heat sources for buildings
14% as electricity output from power plants

45% is lost as "waste heat"
27% lost in conversion from chemical to electrical energy
18% lost in conversion from chemical energy to mechanical energy

What is this energy used for?

31% used by industry
29% used for transportation
21% residential uses, such as heating, cooling and lighting
18% commercial uses, such as heating, cooling and lighting

Source: MIT Technology Review, May/June 2010.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sarah Palin Comments on the BP Gulf Spill

"We still believe in responsible development, which includes drilling to extract energy sources, because we know that there is an inherent link between energy and security, energy and prosperity, and energy and freedom." Sarah Palin's Facebook.