Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Writing on the Wall - A Response to the White Hourse Energy Executive Order

Today's "Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth" issued by the White House, is a fascinating and troubling read. While presumably rolling back policies of the previous administration, it also guts the US capability to make progress in meeting its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement or responding at a policy level to climate change. 

Even if the U.S. does not officially withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, it is clear from this Executive Order that there is no intention in seriously meeting our commitments in emissions reductions.

For the Executive Order, see: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/28/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-and-economi-1

Three actions are most troubling. 

First is the removal of the final guidance to Federal entities and bodies in considering climate change impacts in their activities. See Section 3, c. 

The 34 page document being revoked is the ""Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews," and found at https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/08/f33/nepa_final_ghg_guidance.pdf

The second concern is the obliteration of rules relating to Oil and Natural Gas production including waste disposal as detailed in Section 7, Here it is in its entirety:

Sec. 7.  Review of Regulations Related to United States Oil and Gas Development.  (a)  The Administrator shall review the final rule entitled "Oil and Natural Gas Sector:  Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources," 81 Fed. Reg. 35824 (June 3, 2016), and any rules and guidance issued pursuant to it, for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules. 
(b)  The Secretary of the Interior shall review the following final rules, and any rules and guidance issued pursuant to them, for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules: 
(i)    The final rule entitled "Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands," 80 Fed. Reg. 16128 (March 26, 2015);
(ii)   The final rule entitled "General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights," 81 Fed. Reg. 77972 (November 4, 2016);
(iii)  The final rule entitled "Management of Non Federal Oil and Gas Rights," 81 Fed. Reg. 79948 (November 14, 2016); and
(iv)   The final rule entitled "Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation," 81 Fed. Reg. 83008 (November 18, 2016).

The third, and greatest concern is the utter disregard for climate change impacts on U.S. national security. 

In the Executive Order, it states, in Section. 3.  "Rescission of Certain Energy and Climate-Related Presidential and Regulatory Actions." 

(a)  The following Presidential actions are hereby revoked: 

(iv)   The Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (Climate Change and National Security)." This previous memorandum can be found at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/21/presidential-memorandum-climate-change-and-national-security

I find it ironic that a new administration that presumably has made national security a priority would revoke a previous Presidential Action that helped to specifically accomplish that goal. 

The previous action, now revoked, states that part of its policy implementation purpose was to partially implement, "the 2015 National Security Strategy, which identified climate change as an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water. It added that increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property, which in turn threatens the global economy, and compounds the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure"

The body created to coordinate US national security efforts in response to climate change was the Climate and National Security Working Group. Its key functions were

(i) identify the U.S. national security priorities that are within the scope of the Working Group's mission;
(ii) develop recommendations for requirements for climate and social science data and intelligence analyses, as appropriate, that support national security interests;
(iii) catalog climate science data, intelligence analyses, and other products and programs that support or should be considered in the development of national security doctrine, policy, and plans. This catalogue shall include climate and social science data repositories and analytical platforms; climate modeling, simulation, and projection capabilities; and information-sharing tools and resources supporting climate risk analyses and assessments, such as the Climate Data Initiative, the Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Global Change Information System, and the National Climate Assessment;
(iv) identify information and program gaps that limit consideration of climate change-related impacts in developing national security doctrine, policies, and plans. Descriptions of these gaps will be provided to Federal science agencies and the United States Intelligence Community to inform future research requirements and priorities, including collection priorities, on climate data, models, simulations, and projections;
(v) facilitate the production and exchange of climate data and information with relevant stakeholders, including the United States Intelligence Community, and private sector partners, as appropriate;
(vi) produce, as appropriate, and make available science-informed intelligence assessments to agencies having responsibilities in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans in order to identify climate change-related impacts and prioritize actions related thereto;
(vii) establish, by consensus, guidance for Working Group members on coordinating, sharing, and exchanging climate science data among the members, and with the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC);
(viii) provide a venue for enhancing the understanding of the links between climate change-related impacts and national security interests and discussing the opportunities for climate mitigation and adaptation activities to address national security issues;
(ix) work to improve the Federal Government's capability and capacity to characterize greenhouse gas sources and sinks accurately at sub-continental scales;
(x) in coordination with the NSTC, recommend research guidelines concerning the Federal Government's ability to detect climate intervention activities;
(xi) develop, by consensus, guidance for Working Group members on building climate resilience in countries vulnerable to climate change-related impacts;
(xii) provide information and Working Group-related progress updates to the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, established by Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, on a quarterly basis;
(xiii) take into account defined requirements and current capabilities described in subsection (4)(c)(ii) and (iii) of this memorandum to facilitate the consideration of climate change-related impacts into national security doctrine, policies, and plans. The Working Group shall develop recommended climate data requirements and consider the cost of the production and exchange of this information, and making this information available;
(xiv) have classified and unclassified capabilities, as required and appropriate, to consolidate and make available climate change-related impact information, intelligence analyses, and assessments for access and use by Working Group member agencies;
(xv) identify the most current information on regional, country, and geographic areas most vulnerable to current and projected impacts of climate variability in the near- (current to 10 years), mid- (10 to 30 years), and long- (more than 30 years) term, in order to support assessments of national security implications of climate change, and identify areas most vulnerable to these impacts during these timeframes;
(xvi) develop recommendations for the Secretary of State to help ensure that the work of U.S. embassies, including their planning processes, are better informed by relevant climate change-related analyses; and
(xvii) coordinate on the development of quantitative models, predictive mapping products, and forecasts to anticipate the various pathways through which climate change may affect public health as an issue of national security.

It is items iv, vi, xii, xv and xvi that bring the most concern. The new executive order is seemingly taking a Cromwellian approach to key information that would support the administration's efforts of making "America Great Again," and protect American interests and citizens for the long term future.

We are left being blinded, bound in ignorance, and tossed adrift at the governmental level at a time that climate change is accelerating, destabilizing larger segments of global society, and decimating capabilities crucial to our current and future national security interests.

By this Executive Order, our president is setting us up for - and participating in - the writing on the wall. 

"The Writing On The Wall"
Alter Bridge: The Last hero

Don't tell us this is normal
Don't tell us there's no change
So selfish and immoral, you're to blame
'Cause you're the great disrupter
So crass and out of line
Now tell me who will suffer for all your crimes?
We are running out of time
Out of time

And the writing's on the wall
That the end will begin
Still you do nothing at all
And keep denying the greatest sin

Ignore the truth and follow
Reap all that you sow
Spawn the future sorrow, we will know
Refusing every warning
Deny the rate of change
The ignorance is swarming, what a shame
And you know that you're to blame
You're to blame

And the writing's on the wall
That the end will begin
Still you do nothing at all
Throwing lies to the wind

And the writing's on the wall
So I say it again
Still you do nothing at all
And keep denying the greatest sin

You're the one to blame
For this rate of change
No tomorrow
When will you see?

And the writing's on the wall
That the end will begin
Still you do nothing at all
Throwing lies to the wind

And the writing's on the wall
So I say it again
Still you do nothing at all
And keep denying the greatest sin

The greatest sin
Deny it again

When will it end?


Sunday, March 12, 2017

CO2 Above 410 ppm at Some Locations in 2016, Near 420 ppm in 2017

Recently, some media sources are reporting on the approach of Mauna Loa CO2 approaching or passing 410 ppm in 2017. 

For example, Digital Journal reported on March 10, "In the next few weeks, carbon dioxide is expected to pass the 410 ppm mark on a daily basis at the Mauna Loa Observatory, something we have never experienced." 
Source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/carbon-dioxide-rates-close-to-breaching-the-410-ppm-threshold/article/487650#ixzz4b8wHj9YP

While it is true that MLO has not passed 410 ppm in the past, it is helpful to note that this benchmark has already been exceeded elsewhere.

The reality is that 30 monitoring stations exceeded daily readings of 410 ppm by June, 2016. The locations marked with yellow stars below are those who passed that point by that month.

Source: NOAA ESRL Active Data Viewer and Station Data https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/dv/iadv/

What is more concerning is how many stations have reported preliminary readings above 415 and in one case almost 420 ppm.

For example, Barrow, Alaska has two preliminary readings above 420 ppm, that if not determined to be from a local source, will be a significant jump in CO2 concentration at that location.
Cold Bay, Alaska had numerous readings above 410 ppm through 2016. and may approach 415 ppm this year.
Ny-Alesund Svalbard has readings above 415 ppm in early 2017, which is not the peak of its CO2 cycle.
 Further south, Iceland has already recorded preliminary CO2 above 410 ppm in 2017.
Finally, Tiksi, Russia has preliminary readings just shy of 420 ppm, and those will likely go higher later this spring if previous years represent a pattern for its increase in the next few months.

While Mauna Loa is important as the longest running CO2 concentration reporting site, it is not the first to pass 410 ppm. That was done last year in numerous locations. It is just catching up.

Global CO2 December 2016 - A New Record Annual Increase

NOAA ESRL issued its December, 2016 Global CO2 report on March 5th. It supplied another sobering benchmark to those coming in rapid succession during the last three years.

For December, 2016, ESRL reported a preliminary global CO2 of 404.70 ppm, or 3.27 ppm above December, 2015.

Source: NOAA ESRL GMD https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html

The monthly global trend, observed since 1980, depicts the accelerating rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration.

Data Source: NOAA ESRL https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html

This is the 12th consecutive month with global CO2 year to year monthly increases above 3 ppm, which is unprecedented since Keeling began measuring CO2 at Mauna Loa, Hawaii in March, 1958.

Year to Year Monthly CO2 Increases

The December, 2016 CO2 concentration of 404.70 ppm is another record high for the month, and is 3.27 ppm higher than 2015. This is off the El Nino fueled peak change of 3.81 ppm recorded in July, 2016. While it is likely that this rate of change will decline below 3 ppm in 2017, it seems very unlikely that it will drop below 2 ppm during 2017. December, 2016 is the 24th month of year to year CO2 increases above 2 ppm. The last month with a global CO2 monthly increase below 2 ppm was January, 2015.

The year to year monthly increases continue to accelerate as the trend line above indicates. What is most troubling is that this growth is not following a linear trend but a polynomial increase through time.

Five Year Monthly CO2 Increases

December, 2016 saw a five year increase in monthly CO2 of 12.86 ppm over December, 2011. This is only slightly below the 12.96 ppm five year change recorded in August, 2016. December is the 10th consecutive month of five year CO2 increases above 12 ppm, another unprecedented rise in global CO2, and far above its accelerating trend line. We have not experienced a five year monthly increase below 10 ppm since March, 2013, and it is unlikely we ever will again.

10 Year Monthly CO2 Increases

The December, 2016 CO2 concentration is 22.52 ppm higher than December, 2006. This is another all time record increase, and the 6th consecutive month with an increase above 22 ppm. We have not experienced a 10 year monthly increase below 20 ppm since October, 2012, and it is very doubtful we ever will again. 

The 2016 Global Annual Mean CO2 Increase

According to NOAA ESRL, the annual mean 2016 global carbon dioxide growth rate is anticipated to be 3.16 ppm over 2015. Given their methodology is based on the average of December and January of the next year (2017), this seems conservative. If the December, 2016 monthly increase is 3.27 ppm, then this seems based upon an expectation that January's increase will be well under 3 ppm to meet the preliminary growth rate. Time will tell.

However, if one uses the average of monthly increases of CO2 for 2016, then the annual increase for 2016 is 3.47 ppm over 2015. It seems more likely that the NOAA ESRL annual change will move higher once the January data is available.

NOAA ESRL Data Source: 

With the final adjustments to the annual change, it can be anticipated that 2016 will be the first year that the NOAA ESRL global CO2 concentration will experience an annual increase of more than 3 ppm. This is not good news for our world. 

According to the Global Carbon Project, human global CO2 emissions practically flat-lined for 2013-2016. Source for the following: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/GCP/carbonbudget/2016/
Yet, we experienced continued high CO2 concentration increases during these years. 

The GCP position is that these concentration increases are due to declines in CO2 sink effectiveness, caused by drought and higher temperatures. These CO2 increases hold us closer to the RCP 8.5 scenario, where it is perilous for humanity to tread.
As Peter Tans commented in regard to the record 2016 Mauna Loa CO2 concentration announcement, “The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age,” Tans said. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”

If true for Mauna Loa's CO2 data, how much more a real concern for the entire planet.