EU3C. Stay Current—Fossil Fuels

2022-09-19. Burning world’s fossil fuel reserves could emit 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/19/world-fossil-fuel-reserve-greenhouse-gas-emissions] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: Burning the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels would emit more planet-heating emissions than have occurred since the industrial revolution, easily blowing the remaining carbon budget before societies are subjected to catastrophic global heating, a new analysis has found. An enormous 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be emitted if governments allow identified reserves of coal, oil and gas to be extracted and used, according to what has been described as the first public database of fossil fuel production. The database, which covers around three-quarters of global energy production, reveals that the US and Russia each have enough fossil fuel reserves to single-handedly eat up the world’s remaining carbon budget before the planet is tipped into 1.5C (2.7F) or more of heating compared to the pre-industrial era. …Among all countries, there is enough fossil fuel to blow this remaining budget seven times over, propelling people and ecosystems into disastrous heatwaves, floods, drought and other impacts never seen before in human history. Governments have agreed to restrain global heating to 1.5C but have largely declined to actively halt new fossil fuel leases or extraction.…

2022-09-16. At Old Coal Mines, the American Chestnut Tries for a Comeback. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/climate/coal-mine-american-chestnut.html] By Elena Shao, Photographs by Maddie McGarvey, The New York Times. Excerpt: Billions of chestnuts once dominated Appalachia, with Americans over many generations relying on their hardy trunks for log cabins, floor panels and telephone poles. Families would store the trees’ small, brown nuts in attics to eat during the holiday season. …Now, Mr. French and his colleagues at Green Forests Work, a nonprofit group, hope to aid the decades-long effort to revive the American chestnut by bringing the trees back onto Appalachia’s former coal mines. Decades of mining, which have contributed to global warming, also left behind dry, acidic and hardened earth that made it difficult to grow much beyond nonnative herbaceous plants and grasses. As coal continues to decline and many of the remaining mines shut down for good, foresters say that restoring mining sites is an opportunity to prove that something productive can be made of lands that have been degraded by decades of extractive activity, particularly at a moment when trees are increasingly valued for their climate benefits. Forests can capture planet-warming emissions, create safe harbor for endangered wildlife species and make ecosystems more resilient to extreme weather events like flooding.…

2022-06-09. Fossil Fuels Drive Increase in Atmospheric Helium. [https://eos.org/articles/fossil-fuels-drive-increase-in-atmospheric-helium] By Jennifer Schmidt, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) during the extraction and burning of fossil fuels has contributed to major changes in Earth’s atmosphere in the centuries since humans realized their value as an energy source. Often accompanying CO2 are benign gases such as helium (He) that can be used to trace such emissions. Scientists have long speculated that the amount of 4He—an isotope of helium—in the atmosphere is increasing because it is found in the same reservoirs as natural gas and other hydrocarbons. But measurements have so far been conflicting and imprecise. Now, researchers have developed a new way to measure the noble gas, shedding light on the decades-old conundrum. “With our measurements, for the first time, we’re able to demonstrate that [the theory is] actually true, that helium concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing,” said Benjamin Birner, an atmospheric chemist and postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The new discovery could lead scientists to better identify sources of CO2 in the atmosphere, which could guide policies to curb emissions. The increase in 4He also raises questions about its isotopic companion, 3He, and a potential undiscovered reservoir of the gas—a critical resource in some research and commercial industries.…

2022-06-02. Once eager to drill, oil companies exit leases in Arctic refuge. By Steven Mufson and Joshua Partlow , The Washington Post. Excerpt: Three major oil companies have given up opportunities to explore for oil in Alaska’sArctic National Wildlife Refuge, after the industry and Republican politicians have spent decades workingto gain access to the sensitive region. Regenerate Alaska, a division of an Australian firm and the only oil company to directly acquire a tract on the refuge’s nearly 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, canceled its lease last month, after Chevron and Hilcorp, two other major oil companies,had also jettisoned their claims. The exits make it far less likely that drilling will take place soon in a vast, unspoiled landscape that has achieved iconic status among environmentalists and has been fought over for half a century. …Five major U.S. banks — Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — and a growing list of insurance companies have stopped giving financing for the Arctic oil business. …There are many obstacles to drilling in the Arctic refuge. There are no roads or facilities, so building the infrastructure to support oil exploration would be costly. There has long been strong opposition to drilling in the refuge, which has only intensified as climate change worsens, driven by burning of fossil fuels. The Alaskan Arctic has warmed at least three times more than other parts of the country, posing new risks to oil infrastructure on the North Slope as permafrost melts. “If you look at project proposals in other parts of the Arctic, they’re using things like chillers to freeze the permafrost so they can drill more,” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, deputy director for public lands at the Center for American Progress, a liberal thinktank. “It’s not getting any colder in the Arctic. It’s only getting harder to do things like drill, and it’s a vicious cycle.” …Some oil industry analysts see the departure from Alaska as a sign of increased fiscal discipline by oil companies as renewable energy becomes a more prominent focus for them. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/06/02/arctic-national-wildlife-refuge-drilling/

2022-06-01. The village that stood up to big oil – and won. By Jess Craig, The Guardian. Excerpt: Today, the oil industry in Nigeria faces a reckoning with Shell at the helm. According to Amnesty International, the oil company has come under “unprecedented legal scrutiny” in recent years for its negligent and criminal practices in the Niger Delta. Several lawsuits are ongoing while others have culminated in courts ordering Shell to pay plaintiffs billions of dollars in damages. The mounting pressure has Shell considering a rapid departure from the region’s oil market. In early August 2021, the company announced it would sell off all remaining onshore oilfields in Nigeria, citing challenges with community unrest, sabotage and a company-wide refocus on promoting green energy. But locals and lawyers see the move as Shell ducking its responsibility to clean up after itself. A court in March barred Shell from selling any more assets in Nigeria while the company appeals against a ruling in which it was found liable for a 2019 oil spill and ordered to pay affected communities nearly $2bn in damages…. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2022/jun/01/oil-pollution-spill-nigeria-shell-lawsuit

2022-05-11. Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown. By Damian Carrington and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian. Excerpt: The world’s biggest fossil fuel firms are quietly planning scores of “carbon bomb” oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits with catastrophic global impacts, a Guardian investigation shows. The exclusive data shows these firms are in effect placing multibillion-dollar bets against humanity halting global heating. Their huge investments in new fossil fuel production could pay off only if countries fail to rapidly slash carbon emissions, which scientists say is vital.  The oil and gas industry is extremely volatile but extraordinarily profitable, particularly when prices are high, as they are at present. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades, while recent price rises led BP’s boss to describe the company as a “cash machine”. The lure of colossal payouts in the years to come appears to be irresistible to the oil companies, despite the world’s climate scientists stating in February that further delay in cutting fossil fuel use would mean missing our last chance “to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”. As the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders in April: “Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us.”.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2022/may/11/fossil-fuel-carbon-bombs-climate-breakdown-oil-gas]

2022-02-22. Peat is the Unsung Hero of Carbon Capture. By Sabrina Imbler, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Although peatlands make up just 3 percent of land on Earth, they store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined.… [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/02/21/headway/peat-carbon-climate-change.html]

2022-02-15. Coal Seam Fires Burn Beneath Communities in Zimbabwe. By Andrew Mambondiyani, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: As Zimbabwe’s coal industry expands, residents around the western town of Hwange are experiencing the effects of underground coal seam fires. Residents, particularly children, and livestock are at risk from falling into the smoldering fires beneath unstable ground. Unfenced areas above the fires are often used as outdoor toilets, playgrounds, and grazing areas. Victims suffer burned legs, and in one case, a young girl died of her burn injuries. …Most of these fires start with the ignition of exposed coal seams, but they can also spark in coal storage or waste piles. Coal seam fires, which can ignite naturally as well as through human activity, can burn for decades and even thousands of years. Thousands of fires are burning at any given time, releasing toxic fumes that account for 3% of the world’s carbon emissions and release 40 tons of mercury to the atmosphere every year.… [https://eos.org/articles/coal-seam-fires-burn-beneath-communities-in-zimbabwe]

cover for gss book Energy Use

Non-chronological resources

How can the CO2 released weigh almost 3x more than the gasoline I burned? (from Blog: Climate Change 101)

Price of oil–Watch it go up: http://www.oil-price.net/

Clean Coal Technology Program –  http://www.lanl.gov/projects/cctc/

Prospecting from Orbit — With help from the ASTER instrument aboard the NASA’s Terra satellite, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have embarked on an ambitious effort to create a worldwide map of well-exposed metal ore deposits.