A growing body of evidence suggests that a massive change is underway in the sensitive circulation system of the Atlantic Ocean, a group of scientists said Thursday. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), a system of currents that includes the Florida Current and the Gulf Stream, is now “in its weakest state in over a millennium,” these experts say. This has implications for everything from the climate of Europe to the rates of sea-level rise along the U.S. East Coast. Although evidence of the system’s weakening has been published before, the new research cites 11 sources of “proxy” evidence of the circulation’s strength, including clues hidden in seafloor mud as well as patterns of ocean temperatures. The enormous flow has been directly measured only since 2004, too short a period to definitively establish a trend, which makes these indirect measures critical for understanding its behavior. - Washington Post
Royal Dutch Shell, one of the multinationals that defined the oil industry, is slowly turning away from the fossil fuel that made its fortune over the decades but also worsened a global climate crisis. The company said Thursday that its production of oil peaked before the coronavirus pandemic and will fall steadily as it attempts an ambitious pivot toward less polluting forms of energy. It's a milestone for the company and reflects the urgency facing governments and companies to reduce climate-warming emissions. Shell unveiled new plans for reaching its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 that include a 1% to 2% drop annually in oil output. It will eliminate seven of its 13 refineries and aims to cut production of gasoline and diesel fuel by 55% over the next decade. The plan is part of a wider push, particularly among European oil companies, to overhaul their operations to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming while still making money. BP said last year that it wants to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from its operations and the oil and gas it sells to customers by 2050. - ABC News
Pollution from fossil fuels causes one in five premature deaths globally, suggesting the health impacts of burning coal, oil and natural gas may be far higher than previously thought, Parts of China, India, Europe and the northeastern United States are among the hardest-hit areas, suffering a disproportionately high share of 8.7 million annual deaths attributed to fossil fuels, the study published in the journal Environmental Research found. The new research gives the most detailed assessment of premature deaths due to fossil-fuel air pollution to date. Another study in 2017 had put the annual number of deaths from all outdoor airborne particulate matter — including dust and smoke from agricultural burns and wildfires — at 4.2 million. - Reuters
Editor's Note - I am including links to significant podcasts related to geology, energy, and the environment. The Energy Transition Show by Chris Nelder, is an excellent source of information from experts related to..well... energy transition.
Methane (natural gas) is a greenhouse gas with a much more powerful warming effect than carbon dioxide, so finding and eliminating gas leaks is an important part of addressing the climate challenge. But until now, we’ve had poor information about gas leakage within cities, as well as how to correctly attribute the leakage all along the chain from well to consumer.
We discuss a study, The Gas Index, with two of its authors. It is the first study that has provided granular estimates for life cycle methane leakage for a large number of cities, and the first to draw together recent assessments of leakage within cities, including leakage that occurs within buildings. It shows that cities’ gas systems are leaking about 72% more than had been previously estimated by the EPA. We also consider the role of natural gas in the energy transition, and some of the tradeoffs we will have to consider as we deal with the problem of methane leakage. - Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder
We provide the first at-scale estimate of electric vehicle (EV) home charging. Previous estimates are either based on surveys that reach conflicting conclusions, or are extrapolated from a small, unrepresentative sample of households with dedicated EV meters. We combine billions of hourly electricity meter measurements with address-level EV registration records from California households. The average EV increases overall household load by 2.9 kilowatt-hours per day, less than half the amount assumed by state regulators. Our results imply that EVs travel 5,300 miles per year, under half of the US fleet average. This raises questions about transportation electrification for climate policy. - National Bureau of Economic Research
Editor's Note: This is a excellent example of why a working paper is NOT a peer-reviewed paper. The researchers did not measure vehicle miles traveled. They did not determine if the sample population was installing solar at the same time. They did not account for charging away from home. They did not determine if there were energy use changes in the home.
Yet, the authors drew conclusions. This probably won't make it past peer-review without heavy editing.... which will destroy most of the conclusions.
Many Americans fill up a glass of water from their faucet without worrying whether it might be dangerous. But the crisis of lead-tainted water in Flint, Mich., showed that safe, potable tap water is not a given in this country. Now a study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy organization, reveals a widespread problem: the drinking water of a majority of Americans likely contains “forever chemicals.” These compounds may take hundreds, or even thousands, of years to break down in the environment. They can also persist in the human body, potentially causing health problems. A handful of states have set about trying to address these contaminants, which are scientifically known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). But no federal limits have been set on the concentration of the chemicals in water, as they have for other pollutants such as benzene, uranium and arsenic. With a new presidential administration coming into office this week, experts say the federal government finally needs to remedy that oversight. “The PFAS pollution crisis is a public health emergency,” wrote Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs, in a recent public statement. - Scientific American
Canada has underestimated its methane emissions from abandoned wells by 150 percent, and the USA by around 20%. While methane emissions from abandoned wells were reported to the United Nations as part of the U.S. and Canada’s greenhouse gas inventories, experts worry that there could be as many as 500,000 undocumented wells in the USA and 60,000 in Canada contributing to these emissions. In 2018, in the USA alone, 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells emitted 281 kilotons of methane, equivalent in terms of climate change to consuming 16 million barrels of crude oil. - OilPrice.com
I started a CGCC Facebook page in May of '20 to share geo-environmental news but had concerns about FB's issues with accuracy. This page, GeoNews, is a response and partial solution, sharing a few items from reliable sources each week.