NATURE Scientists Get Political on Climate

By Peter Fairley for Nature / October 11 2017

It’s moving day at the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia on a sunny summer morning in Victoria, Canada, and climate scientist-turned politician Andrew Weaver is battling to retain an expansive leather sofa for his new basement office. Just a few weeks earlier, in May 2017, thousands of people in and around Victoria cast their votes for the British Columbia Green Party, which Weaver leads, growing the caucus from his one lonely seat to three. The wider of the office’s sofas, he explains, will be crucial during long nights of debate and voting. “This is the one you can sleep on. And we need that.”

Three seats in an 87-seat legislature might sound modest, but it’s enough to make Weaver — a professor at the University of Victoria — into a political kingmaker. The incumbent Liberal Party and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) each garnered fewer than half of the seats, giving Weaver’s Green Party the balance of power. Weaver exercised his new-found influence in the weeks after the election to remove Christy Clark, the Liberal premier of British Columbia, who had championed fossil fuels and neglected climate policy. He negotiated climate-friendly terms with the NDP to install John Horgan as the party’s first premier in 16 years.

Weaver is an internationally recognized pioneer of models that represent Earth’s physical systems at a modest resolution, facilitating the simulation of climate over tens of thousands of years. His ascent from academic to political power broker is a far cry from the attacks on climate scientists that are under way in the United States. But there are US researchers who dare to dream that they too can tilt the political balance. In fact, dozens have declared the intent to run for local, state or national office, promising to reverse the dismissal of climate change and other anti-science positions espoused by US President Donald Trump’s administration and other Republican Party leaders.

… READ ON AT NATURE.COM

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Companies Commit to Electric Vehicles, Sending Auto Industry a Message

Peter Fairley for InsideClimate News Sept 19, 2017

A group of large corporations, including utilities and an international delivery company, launched a global campaign today to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and away from gas- and diesel-powered transportation—which generates almost a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and has been the fastest growing emissions source.

Since more than half of the cars on the road belong to companies, the new EV100 coalition could have a major impact. It aims to do for EVs and electric car charging infrastructure what coalitions such as the RE100 are already doing to encourage corporate purchasing of clean energy (and thus motivating development of new solar and wind power).

EV100’s goal is to send a signal to automakers that there is mass demand for electric vehicles before 2030, when current forecasts suggest global uptake will start to really ramp up.

“We want to make electric transport the normal,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO for The Climate Group, the international nonprofit spearheading the effort…

… read on at ICN

How Canada Should Return Obama’s Oil Pipeline Punt

Late last week President Barack Obama deferred consideration of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, designed to ship Alberta petroleum to the Gulf Coast, until after next year’s U.S. elections. Obama’s move immediately sparked vows in Canada to redirect crude exports to Asian markets less angst-ridden by the environmental impacts associated with tapping Alberta’s tough, tarry petroleum. A smarter strategy would be to reduce those impacts, starting with the black mark that brought Keystone XL to national attention: oil sands crude’s bloated carbon footprint. Continue reading

BP Under Pressure to Tighten Spill Cap

How is one to bridge the gap between BP’s latest oil collection stats and visual reality?

The oil and gas giant claims to be sucking crude straight off its stricken mile-deep wellhead and pouring it into the drillship Enterprise at a rate of 11,000 barrels per day, thanks to a cap and tube installed on Friday. And, yet, video feeds from ROVs present a plume of oil and gas that looks as angry as ever, gushing plenty more black goop destined for dispersal into the Gulf of Mexico’s already beleaguered  ecosystems.

“Clearly alot of people are looking at it and trying to understand what does this mean,” acknowledged BP senior vp/exploration Kent Wells of the top-rated video images during in a media briefing this afternoon. Continue reading

BP Installs Crude Containment Scheme #4

BP is capturing oil at a rate of 1,000 barrels-per-day via its latest containment scheme — a cap and new riser installed on its gushing Gulf spill last night — according to Federal response coordinator and Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. But video feeds confirm that far more crude is still spilling into the sea from under the cap — at least 11,000 barrels per day if one subtracts 1,000 bpd from the minimum flow estimate of the Deepwater Horizon spill released by a federal task force last week.

BP Americas chief operating officer Doug Suttles told a media briefing this morning that the cap (BP containment scheme #4 by Carbon-Nation’s count) could ultimately capture over 90% of the leak. Suttles and his company have proved unreasonably optimistic before, and could be once again. Continue reading

BP’s Name is Mud (which today counts as good news)

BP Americas chief operating officer Doug Suttles says the ‘top kill’ operation initiated this morning to stanch the Gulf oil spill is “performing as expected” and could be completed within 24 hours. But U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry, who spoke with Suttles at an early-evening media briefing, took a more reserved tone. “I do not want to express optimism until I know for sure that we’ve secured the well and that the leak has stopped,” says Landry.

By 5pm Houston time on Wednesday BP had already pumped over 7,000 barrels of heavy drilling mud into the damaged blowout preventer on the wellhead created by the Deepwater Horizon rig whose destruction last month unleashed the spill. Much of that mud appears to be flowing up into the Gulf. Continue reading

Facing Our Flow with BP’s Live Spill-Cam

Click image, then hit play (persistently) for live stream

For a look in the mirror that could inspire a car-free weekend, BP has made available a livestream feed of its uncontrolled oil spill over 5000-feet below the Gulf of Mexico’s increasingly oily surface. [You’ll need to hit play several times to get a peek at this very popular feed.] Government agencies and industry engineers have been viewing this feed for two weeks. BP made it accessible today to gasoline consumers and shareholders of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem at the urging of Ed Markey, chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and an advocate of fossil fuel-free energy and transportation. Continue reading