The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: climate change

1200px Joe Manchin Official Senate Portrait

The Guardian: Manchin monkey-wrenches climate change legislation because he's made millions off fossil fuels

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the Democratic linchpin for game-changing climate legislation proposed in a budget bill as part of the Biden administration's plan to provide aid to families as well as give a boost to efforts to reduce global warming, has thrown a now-infamous wrench in the works. 

He has vigorously opposed key parts of the climate legislation included in the 2022 budget bill. Per the Guardian, it's simply because he and his family have made a fortune off coal extraction in the relatively impoverished state of West Virginia and elsewhere.

"Financial records detailed by reporter Alex Kotch for the Center for Media and Democracy and published in the Guardian show that Manchin makes roughly half a million dollars a year in dividends from millions of dollars of coal company stock he owns. The stock is held in Enersystems, Inc, a company Manchin started in 1988 and later gave to his son, Joseph, to run," according to the Guardian.

 "He has already effectively succeeded in stripping the bill of its most powerful climate change provision, a program that would have rapidly shut down coal and gas-fired power plants and replaced them with wind and solar power," according to the New York Times.

 

Published in Feedbag

flooding 210821 NWS map 01

Washington Post: Devastating Middle Tennessee floods latest consequence of climate change

Training thunderstorms dumped 17 inches of rain within 24 hours last week in Middle Tennessee, causing a cascade of runoff that led to localized flash flooding of creeks and rivers that killed at least 20 people and destroyed the small town of Waverly. That amount of rain, which a climatologist said had a 1 in 1,000 chance of occurring, would set a record for the highest amount of daily rainfall recorded in the entire state.

A lesser-noted flood of the Pigeon River just over the state line in Haywood County, North Carolina a week ago killed at least five people and destroyed homes and property as the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred moved over the region. The towns of Canton and Clyde were particularly hard hit. A rain gauge in Cruso recorded nearly 15 inches of rain in less than three days, according to the Smoky Mountain News. Nine inches fell within a 24-hour period.

Deadly floods in Germany and the European lowcountry this summer that killed 200 people were also attributed to climate change.

A warmer atmosphere holds exponentially more moisture, so such intense rainstorms will increase in coming years as climate change reshapes the Earth, scientists told the Washington Post.

"It’s yet another example of how climate change has loaded the dice for disaster, experts say. The floods that people lived through in the past are no match for the events that are happening today. And what in 2021 seems like an unprecedented catastrophe may by 2050 become an annual occurrence," the Post reported.

The flooding threat promised by a warming planet is exacerbated by continuing urbanization and inadequate public stormwater infrastructure. More impermeable surfaces means more runoff.

Published in Feedbag

Washington Post: Carbon dioxide levels at highest point in 2 million years

A United Nations climate report authored by 34 people mining 14,000 scientific studies concludes that substantial climate change and its effects are now largely unavoidable but nations, municipalities and individuals can still take steps to minimize the consequences as much as possible.

Here are some key points from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report:

— Human-caused global climate change is an irrefutable fact. Now the debate is what we do about it.

— Few if any signatories to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord met their pledged reduction targets.

— At current emissions rates, the Earth will have heated to or beyond 2.7 degrees (F) above pre-industrial levels by the 2030s.

— Hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, heat waves and other weather anomalies will worsen.

The report comes as many present disasters linked to global warming unfold around the world. The second-largest wildfire in California history burned in the drought-stricken state; Greece dealt with historic wildfires; and Germany and the European Lowcountry reeled from an unprecedented rainstorm that destroyed entire towns and killed more than 200 people. Another heat wave is supposed to arrive in the Pacific Northwest this week.

Published in Feedbag

As Hellbender Press reported in April, the Tennessee Valley Authority plans to phase out its use of coal. And as we mentioned in an action alert, TVA is conducting a scoping process pertaining to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for retirement and replacement of the Kingston Fossil Plant. TVA is preparing similar EIS for its other remaining coal-fired power plants as well.

Although TVA lists "construction and operation of solar and storage facilities" in these scoping documents as an alternative for replacement of coal as the power source, it has made no secret of its belief that construction of gas-powered combustion turbines (CT) and natural gas pipelines to feed them will be the best solution to replace the outdated generation capacity.

Unlike other power utilities, TVA has been making it more difficult, financially unattractive or impossible for distributed renewable energy, storage and even efficiency projects to get realized, according to proponents of renewables and some of TVA’s local power distribution partners. TVA also reneged on its agreement with other utilities to make large amounts of wind power available to the Southeastern United States through the Plains & Eastern Clean Line high-voltage direct-current power line project.

Below, we reprint the statement submitted by FGS during the public comment period for the Kingston Fossil Plan Retirement.

(Hellbender Press is a self-funded project of FGS).

 

The Foundation for Global Sustainability urges TVA to truly step up to the challenges of climate change

The action alternatives in the dockets for the replacement of TVA’s coal fired power plants are shortsighted and most disappointing.

As a quasi-federal entity with a de-facto monopoly over a vast area of our nation, the Tennessee Valley Authority should strive to spearhead, exemplify, and not only meet — but exceed — most of the federal goals for decarbonization.

By basing plans primarily on data of historic trends — unquestioningly projected into the future — TVA is apt to commit yet another horrendous miscalculation; it is prone to saddle itself with even more stranded assets.

Addressing the climate change crisis

Rarely a month passes without scientific discoveries of natural feedback mechanisms that aggravate the consequences of climate change. Signs that Earth’s natural life-support systems are approaching tipping points are multiplying.

At the same time that uncertainty about prevailing conditions over the lifetime of infrastructure investments is growing, technologies are evolving at an increasing pace. Many private-sector corporations have already realized that time-proven business practices are no survival strategy.

What’s called for today is more nimble management. TVA needs to focus on cooperative, adaptive planning for more flexible, responsive operations.

A multitude of smaller investments that seek to attack problems from a diversity of facets will have greater probability of success than monolithic huge investments that are hard to revert, abandon, or repurpose.

We encourage TVA to take a step back, to first look at what it can do to help improve the sustainability and resilience of our regional and local economies and of its large, small, and individual customers, WITHOUT investments that lock in carbon emissions for decades.

Although we welcomed, appreciated, and supported TVA initiatives such as Energy Right, Green Power Switch and Generation Partners, one has to admit that in the larger context they amounted to little more than public relations Band-aids.

Distributed renewable energy generation and storage

It is high time for TVA to stop stonewalling renewable energies.

The promising potential of widely distributed renewable energy generation and storage to minimize transmission losses and to boost community resilience is still largely untapped. It lends itself to easily manageable, quick turn-around, incremental projects that can readily be evolved and fine-tuned as new conditions, greater insights, and better technologies emerge.

People in TVA’s service areas are no less likely to welcome and personally invest in solar energy and storage than the people of Germany have done, despite getting far less sunlight in their northern latitudes than we enjoy here; if only TVA relaxes its severe restrictions and abandons its adversarial stance.

We call upon TVA to embrace, as major planning objectives, environmental sustainability and efficiency from energy generation all the way through end use.

Sincerely,

Wolf Naegeli, PhD
President
Foundation for Global Sustainability

Published in Voices

Washington Post: Sea level rise will be investigated as one possible factor in Florida condo collapse

There is no direct evidence yet that increased subsidence on a Florida barrier island caused by rising sea levels and saltwater intrusion contributed to the devastating collapse of an ocean-front condo complex near Miami, but the possibility will be examined in coming weeks and months.

Rising sea levels threaten seaside properties on an increasing scale, undermining the unstable land on which they sit and further contributing to erosion of steel and concrete.

In the case of Champlain Towers South, developers used fill from denuded mangrove stands to support the 12-story building, which was built in 1981.

“Land subsidence is a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the surface when material that supports it is displaced or removed, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Erosion and the disappearance of groundwater are two of several factors that cause it,” the Washington Post reported.

A least one engineer has said the collapse could be related to a structural problem, not subsidence. The investigation continues, as does the search for bodies.

Published in Feedbag
Friday, 18 June 2021 17:52

Outrage + Optimism

Global Optimism: “We Have to Be At War With Carbon”

The first 15 minutes of this podcast analyze the Shortcomings of the G7 Summit.

The second 15-minute segment is a conversation with the CEO of Rolls Royce about its goal to make long-distance flights Net Zero by 2050.

Published in Feedbag

NYT: Interactive maps show how the most widespread drought in 20 years is ravaging the Southwest

Low snowpacks, unusually high temperatures and below-normal rainfall have all contributed to the renewed development of extreme and exceptional drought in many portions of the Southwest and California.

Scientists and public officials attribute the drought to climate change. Climatologists expect the drought to worsen during the upcoming summer months and lead to increased wildfires and other problems. Agriculture in California has been particularly affected, and water restrictions to preserve endangered fish are again in a harsh spotlight.  

Drought conditions had lessened since a severe drought affected the region five years ago and led to aggressive rationing and water-conservation measures, but this prolonged dry spell could be even worse.

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S., is at its lowest level in 85 years and is emblematic of the growing crisis.

"The lake, which sits on the border between Nevada and Arizona, is under growing pressure from the prolonged drought, climate change and growing population in the Southwest," The Times reported.

Published in Feedbag

Washington Post: CO2 levels hit highest point yet, even after 15-month idling of transportation, industry and overall carbon emissions.

Initial air pollution reductions during the Covid-19 pandemic had an immediate measurable impact on global and local air quality. Demand for oil dropped by nearly 9 percent. That didn't stop the atmospheric carbon dioxide level from reaching its highest concentration since records began.

It's a sign of how difficult it will be to curb overall global emissions enough to prevent the worst consequences of climate change and global warming.

"Even as international borders closed and global economic activity took a massive hit throughout much of 2020, researchers have found that human-caused emissions rebounded fairly quickly after decreasing sharply early in the pandemic," the Washington Post reported. 

Published in Feedbag

NYT: Shareholder revolt forces troubled Exxon to focus on a fossil-free future

Exxon stock tanked (it was even kicked off the Dow Jones Industrial Average) in recent years, largely because of the oil giant's dismissive stance toward climate change and renewables. This led shareholders to conclude the oil giant wasn't playing the long game by investing in carbon-free fuel technologies.

Both a renegade hedge fund and huge investor groups recently forced a change by electing half a slate to the board of directors who are calling for increased energy-source diversification. Some of the largest pension-investment groups in the country drove the change because Exxon's coddling of climate denialists was definitely and demonstrably bad for business.

Published in Feedbag
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