Sunday, August 29, 2010

History of oil and gas on the Gulf Coast

What destination does our society want to reach, and how will it get there?
(Natural Capitalism, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins)

At the present time there are about 4,000 gas platforms in the Gulf. For 40 plus years the oil industry has been in the region and is closely intertwined with the economy, the culture, and the politics of the region.

Numerous judges have had to recuse themselves from numerous cases involving the oil and gas industry because of their close ties to the industry. Eco-systems have been in serious trouble for years. Marsh grasses are disappearing and dead zones are expanding. Of course the question can be legitimately asked about who makes public policy in the region? Who in fact is in charge of the people's business? Who should be held accountable?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clean coal and its reality

COAL POWER PLANT:'s photostream/Bruno & Ligia Rodrigues
Clean coal is like dry water
(Appalachian Voices)

A friend asked me why I say CCS isn't practical. Answer: it isn't.
(a tweet from Don Blakenship, CEO Massey Energy)

The letter I received this past May from Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri regarding the clean energy and climate change legislation was fairly typical among a portion of the U.S. Senate. While she acknowledged that climate change science is “real,” she then went on to offer a number of caveats about not hurting “Missouri families” while we address the real problem of climate change. Above all, according to the senator, America must invest in clean coal technology, such as carbon capture and sequestration, sometimes referred to as CCS.

Clean coal technology

At the present time there is no such thing as clean coal, in the United States nor anywhere else in the world. We can not “capture” carbon nor do we have the technology at the present time to bury it, in the United States nor anywhere else in the world, certainly on a commercial scale that would be required.

The optimists say we're ten to twenty years away from developing the technology … maybe. The pessimists say we ought to put our effort and our money into something more promising—which is? Meanwhile global warming is increasing, according to the scientists that actually study the issue, because of the burning of fossil fuels.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently released the breakdown of its $3.4 billion stimulus money for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Some $1 billion is to be used for actual development programs. CCS.

Where does reality lead

The question has come up about “shifting liability” from industry to the taxpayer. Obama's Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage has raised the point about industry's reluctance to spend its own money until the question of liability is clearly determined. Companies see big up-front costs associated with the development of carbon sequestration facilities.

The skeptics have said—certainly in reference to the oil and nuclear industry—that if these industries are so safe as is oftentimes claimed, why do they seem to want to invest in insurance, paid for by the taxpayer instead of the industry. The phrase "limit on claims" is one heard often in the oil industry, as well as in the nuclear power industry.

Finally, Don Blakenship, who runs Massey Energy, has stated publicly, more than once, that he doesn't believe in climate change, yet his company is investing a lot of money in CCS research. The truth may yet set us free, maybe.

Some Sources:

Appalachian Voices

CCSReg Project

Coal Tattoo

Monday, August 09, 2010

Decreasing Marine Phytoplankton and Survival

Eelgrass, Allison King, F.M.A.P.

Phytoplankton, microscopic marine algae, is the foundation of the marine food chain, from zooplankton to the largest sea mammals on the planet – and ultimately humankind. Science News has reported on a study, published in the journal Nature, that states that phytoplankton may have declined by some 40% since 1950.

Phytoplankton produces something like one-half of the oxygen we need as well as reduces surface CO2. This is not insignificant, as scientists report that global warming is likely changing the fundamentals of marine ecology, along with the very real problems of pollution, overfishing, and the possibility of increased ocean acidification as carbon dioxide levels rise.

New Study of Phytoplankton

Michael Behrenfeld, botany professor at Oregon State University, conducted a recent study challenging the prevailing theory on how phytoplankton blooms in the ocean. The new theory Behrenfeld calls the dilution-recoupling hypothesis.

Professor Behrenfeld's hypothesis suggests—unlike the prevailing view first proposed back in 1953—that global warming will decrease ocean productivity. Behrenfeld believes oceanographers will now have to conduct a lot more research on the complexity of how oceans actually work.

Phytoplankton and Extinction

Related to the study on the decreased marine phytoplankton in the world's oceans, the Keiser Report of August 6, 2010 talked to Captain Paul Watson the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and host of "Whale Wars" on the Animal Planet. Watson claimed that Japan and Norway, using large commercial drag trawlers, are pulling up huge amounts of phytoplankton to be used as cheap protein meal for livestock.

Unity of Knowledge

Edward O. Wilson, the well known biologist, more than ten years ago, coined the word consilience. He was telling humankind that they had to create a common framework of understanding and explanation, especially in the natural sciences but ultimately in the humanities as well.

Will we ultimately be able to see the connections, the linkages, and the cause and effect of our actions?


Findings Overturn Old Theory of Phytoplankton Growth, Raise Concerns for Ocean Productivity

Keiser Report Episode 66

Phytoplankton in Retreat

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A View on Energy

Burton Richter, physicist,Nobel Prize recipient, and author of Beyond Smoke and Mirrors, offers a view on energy between what he calls the climate deniers and the climate exaggerators. While he clearly believes that common sense shows that global warming is occuring,he asks us to look at what we can accomplish right now. See
Energy Efficiency.