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Climate Crisis Report

Climate Crisis Report - January 2023
By Rod Elder
Posted: 2023-01-06T00:54:03Z

Happy 2023. As I show below, there is significant progress being made on a number of fronts relative to the climate crisis. There is still much to be done to assure a future where the climate problems are solved since the time to make these changes is short.


Positive


1. French aircraft manufacturer Airbus is developing a hydrogen fueled plane.  Airbus says it's on track to have a fully operational electric powertrain, fueled by cryogenic liquid hydrogen, tested in flight by 2026, ahead of a full-scale zero-emissions passenger airliner it plans to put into service by 2035.


2. The clean energy transition is happening faster than forecasters predicted. The International Energy Agency (IEA) raised its global forecast in what it calls "the largest ever upward revision." They predict an 85% acceleration in new clean energy deployments over the next five years. The Ukraine war, unpredictable carbon energy supplies and high costs are large contributors. In order to reach net zero carbon emission scenarios, the transition from carbon fuels must continue to accelerate. 


3. Bids of over $757 million were received for installation of floating wind turbines off the coast of central and northern California. This project will produce over 4.6 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power over 1.5 million homes. This is the first U.S. venture into floating wind turbines. The area where the turbines will be installed is about 25 miles offshore and is in deep water where they cannot be rigidly anchored to the sea floor.


4. This December, at the Livermore Lab in California, nuclear fusion was sustained. This is being celebrated as a source of energy that will solve the climate crisis. However, the path to a fusion power plant is many years off. There are significant engineering challenges in sustaining the process, improving the efficiency by orders of magnitude, and in using the energy to produce electricity. It was pointed out that the old prediction saying "fusion energy is 30 years off, and always will be" is probably still true.


5.  The United States Postal Service announced that it plans to buy at least 66,000 electric vehicles by 2028. The Postal Service previously planned to buy 16,000 electric vehicles but could increase their EV procurement because of $3 billion in funding that became available in the Inflation Reduction Act.  


6.   The investment bank Credit Suisse published research about America’s new climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The bank argued that the IRA is even more important than has been recognized so far: The IRA will “will have a profound effect across industries in the next decade and beyond” and could ultimately shape the direction of the American economy, the bank said. 


 Negative 


1.  The Texas Public Policy Foundation is shaping laws, running influence campaigns and taking legal action in a bid to promote fossil fuels. They are backing efforts to block the Massachusetts offshore wind turbine development. In Arizona they campaigned to keep open one of the biggest coal-fired power plants in the West. In Colorado, they led for looser restrictions on fracking. And in Texas, the group crafted the first so-called “energy boycott” law to punish financial institutions that want to scale back their investments in fossil fuel projects.  


2.  A recent study in Sweden identifies freshwater wetlands as a crucial depository of carbon. More than 30 percent of estimated global carbon emissions are sequestered in wetlands. So, the need to protect and restore them is urgent. The U.S. is currently losing about 60,000 acres of wetlands per year and a case now in the Supreme Court has the potential to drastically reduce the number of wetlands that would be protected.  The Swedish study also examines wastewater as a major source of emissions.  Greenhouse gases are created by biological processes taking place in untreated wastewater.  By some estimates, nearly half of wastewater released into the global environment is untreated.  


3. Concern over warmer temperatures and vanishing snow in some of the world’s winter playgrounds has put the selection of a host city for the 2030 Winter Olympics on hold.  Also, in a satirical bid for the Summer Olympics in 2032 the town of Salta Finland put in a bid. Salta is above the Arctic Circle, is the coldest town in Finland, and is trying to demonstrate how much the climate crisis is heating the world.


Action Item


Relative to the climate crisis, you could follow the advice of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau who is an American author, lecturer, TEDx speaker, cultural commentator, and podcaster.  "It's pretty amazing to wake up every morning, knowing that every decision I make is to cause as little harm as possible. It's a pretty fantastic way to live." 


Rod