On Energy and Geometric Progression

The following video has been labeled “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See.” Hyperbole? It’s just a lecture on math, given by a Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It explains how just a 7% annual growth in energy use equals a 100% growth in 10 years. After a few decades, you’ve got a really big number. And a tremendously enormous problem. Watch and learn, please.

[H/T Peter Hufnagel]

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You Will Be Eaten By a Bear

If yer one of them huntin’ folks up there in Wyoming or Montana – y’know, Republican, an’ thinkin’ climate change is a myth – best listen up.

You will be eaten by a bear.
A grizzly bear.
A six-foot-tall, 600-pound grizzly bear.

The bears are hungry.

See, grizzlies up in Yellowstone eat the nuts of whitebark pine cones. Trouble is, there aren’t as many whitebark pines. That’s because of the beetles. There’s been a huge beetle infestation of the Yellowstone whitebark pine – 70% of the trees have been decimated. And that’s because the ground’s not freezing as much to keep the beetles at bay. And that’s because of global warming.

“Every year is now a bad year for whitebark pine,” said Louisa Wilcox with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We can expect more conflicts and we are getting it.”

The bears are comin’ down the mountain an’ eatin’ livestock.

“Right now every god-dang dead cow down in this country’s got grizzlies on them,” said Mark Bruscino, a bear specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Cody. “We’ve already had a couple of reports of bears on the gut piles of hunter-killed elk. Road-killed deer have bears on them.” (Quotes via the Associated Press.)

An’ when they ain’t got no roadkill to eat, they’ll go with human carpaccio. Two people done gone an’ been killed by grizzlies so far this year, the most in a century. But those ain’t related to no whitebark pines. Ain’t the time of year yet. But it will be soon, as autumn arrives. So watch out, folks. Global warming could kill you sooner than you think.

Read more at the AP [H/T John Emerson]

Holy Crap That’s a Lot of Money: 34 Billion in Fines

The Guardian reports quite a heavy bill for BP, and this may really set a buzz for the President’s fist Oval office speech tomorrow.

BP is facing a bill of up to $34bn from the Gulf of Mexico disaster after US senators demanded the oil company deposited $20bn into a ring-fenced account to meet escalating compensation costs.

The sum dwarfs many analysts’ previous estimates, shared by BP, that put the cost of the clean-up effort and payment of damages to affected communities, such as fishermen, closer to a total of $5bn.

Shares in BP nose-dived by more than 9% today as investors took fright at the demand by the 54 Democratic senators, who represent a majority in the US upper house. The company is now worth almost half what it was before the accident of just under two months ago.

BP already faces up to $14bn in civil penalties, payable under US environmental law, assuming the leak is plugged in August. These punitive damages are directly linked to the size of the spill – already estimated at being up to eight times worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989 – with BP liable for up to $4,300 for each barrel-worth spilt.

Senate leaders insisted the $20bn ring-fenced account should be exclusively for “payment of economic damages and clean-up costs” and should not be seen as a cap on BP’s other legal liabilities. With punitive damages pending too, the theoretical total of $34bn is equivalent to more than half the corporation tax paid by all British companies last year.

Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP, and other directors of the company, will meet Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday prepared to offer concessions in the hope of taking the sting out of mounting political attacks on the company.

BP will be in “listening mode”, willing to cut its next dividend, worth about $2.5bn, possibly paying the cash into the clean-up fund. It will also reiterate its commitment to paying all legitimate claims arising from the disaster. But the company does not believe that the demand by the senators to stump up $20bn is justified.

read the rest at the Guardian

Vow What?

After several reports of its demise, the Climate Bill is back on the burner. The president made a speech in its support today at Carnegie Mellon University . If Obama passes this one, he will be known as the President of reanimated zombie bills. Speaking of familiar, Republican support for the bill is no where to be found since Sen. Lindsey Graham backed off from Sen. Kerry’s shadow, but there are a pack of moderates targeted for swinging sides. Mentioning them, Obama said, “The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months,”

While he had the microphone, he took the time to outline some of his ideas for the legislation. The President said he would like to roll back the oil tax breaks and use that money to invest in our energy independence. This is something that has been talked about during drum circles for over four decades, but this time the talk may become law in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf.

Here is an excerpt from his speech,

And the time has come to aggressively accelerate that transition.  The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future.  (Applause.)  Now, that means continuing our unprecedented effort to make everything from our homes and businesses to our cars and trucks more energy-efficient.  It means tapping into our natural gas reserves, and moving ahead with our plan to expand our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants.  It means rolling back billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development.
But the only way the transition to clean energy will ultimately succeed is if the private sector is fully invested in this future — if capital comes off the sidelines and the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs is unleashed.  And the only way to do that is by finally putting a price on carbon pollution.
No, many businesses have already embraced this idea because it provides a level of certainty about the future.  And for those that face transition costs, we can help them adjust.  But if we refuse to take into account the full costs of our fossil fuel addiction — if we don’t factor in the environmental costs and the national security costs and the true economic costs — we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future.
The House of Representatives has already passed a comprehensive energy and climate bill, and there is currently a plan in the Senate — a plan that was developed with ideas from Democrats and Republicans — that would achieve the same goal.  And, Pittsburgh, I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.  (Applause.)  I will continue to make the case for a clean energy future wherever and whenever I can.  (Applause.)  I will work with anyone to get this done — and we will get it done.

read more at the Atlantic

Oceans’ Chemistry Changing Rapidly

The fish might need these one day.

Not too long ago we reported that the oceans are farting out a lot of methane. Today’s special Earth Day report confirms that the chemical makeup of the world’s oceans is changing – fast – because of  increased CO2 absorption from the atmosphere.

The pH of the oceans is declining, i.e. our seas are growing more acidic. In fact, since the Industrial Revolution to today, the rate of increasing acidity is greater than at any time in the last 800,000 years. And that’s really bad news for coral, and for photosynthesis.

The full story in the AP is located below the fold, since the story comes to me over Yahoo!’s network, and it destroys links after a certain time.

Continue reading “Oceans’ Chemistry Changing Rapidly”