Tuesday, December 17, 2019

News from the Front

On the oceanic front.

The world's oceans are absorbing nearly a third of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. That's a good thing. Without that we would all be in a horrible mess. It's also a bad thing. Some of that CO2 turns into H2CO3, carbonic acid. That messes up the pH. The oceans become more acidic and that spells trouble for a variety of marine life, particularly shellfish.

A study just published in Nature Geoscience finds that the waters of the Pacific northwest are acidifying at twice the average rate.

On the methane front.

For those who still think that fracking is worthwhile, there's a different picture emerging thanks to a new satellite designed to monitor methane leaks around the world. It's sensors detected a methane leak at a fracking site in Ohio last year that was greater than the methane released by some entire countries.
The findings by a Dutch-American team of scientists, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mark a step forward in using space technology to detect leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, from oil and gas sites worldwide. 
The scientists said the new findings reinforced the view that methane releases like these, which are difficult to predict, could be far more widespread than previously thought. 
The blowout, in February 2018 at a natural gas well run by an Exxon Mobil subsidiary in Belmont County, Ohio, released more methane than the entire oil and gas industries of many nations do in a year, the research team found. The Ohio episode triggered about 100 residents within a one-mile radius to evacuate their homes while workers scrambled to plug the well.
Meanwhile, on the coal front, Bloomberg reports that expansion of coal power plants in China and India ensures that coal will stay in first place for electricity generation.
The steady outlook for coal comes in spite of waning demand in industrialized nations. Europe has set a goal of zeroing out carbon pollution by the middle of the century, which would mean drastic reductions for coal. In the U.S., competition from natural gas has cut into demand for coal, despite President Donald Trump’s vows to revive the industry. 
The story is different in Asia, which will more than make up for reductions elsewhere. India, with a population of more than 1.3 billion, will see coal generation increase by 4.6% a year through 2024 to help power its growing economy. In Southeast Asia coal demand will grow more than 5% annually. China, which accounts for almost half the world’s consumption, will also have modest growth with usage peaking in 2022.


Owen Gray said...

The news keeps getting worse, Mound. And the March of Folly continues.

The Disaffected Lib said...

I've taken the "News from the Front" format, Owen, from Canadian newspapers during WWII. They had a section where you could learn what was going on (or at least what the government wanted you to think was going on) in Europe, the South Pacific, the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, on the seas, in the air and on the ground.

That was a good way to present the global crisis we faced in the 40s. We're in a far more dangerous crisis now with the survival of human civilization in the balance.