climate change

Coal Ash Wednesday: 419 parts per million


Breaking all the wrong records in the climate change fight:

Scientific instruments atop the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii showed that levels of carbon dioxide in the air averaged 419 parts per million in May, the annual peak, according to two separate analyses from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Those readings are about half a percent higher than the previous high of 417 parts per million, set in May 2020. Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas driving global warming and researchers have estimated that there hasn’t been this much of it in the atmosphere for millions of years.

I think it was 11 years ago when I attended a climate change summit hosted by NC WARN, featuring former NASA scientist James Hansen. At that time, atmospheric carbon was about 378 parts per million, and Hansen was adamant that we must keep it from passing the 400 mark. That was a tipping point that would very likely trigger the dissolving and subsequent release of methane hydrates in the permafrost and ocean floor. That is no longer a theory, it is happening right now:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy rate increase begins June 1st


It could have been much worse, but it's still not necessary:

Duke Energy Progress electric rates will increase by an average of 4.7% across all customer groups, effective June 1. The annualized bill for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month will increase to $119.83 from the current $113.53 over the next two years.

The specific increase for individual customer groups will vary, depending on the rate they pay. The average rate increase will be 5.3% for residential customers, 4.7% for commercial customers and 3.6% for industrial customers.

Duke Energy pays out about 75% of its earnings in stockholder dividends, and those dividends have grown by almost 10% in the last 3 years. In actual dollars paid to investors, it's now roughly $2.8 Billion, per year. Which makes this almost laughable:

The biomass bait-and-switch: From scraps to whole trees


This was both predictable and preventable:

Several Enviva mills were soon processing material from logging sites and sawmills throughout the region. Environmental groups say they have documented truckloads of logs and whole trees, not just leftovers, entering pellet mills. Publicly available images show logs stacked at mills, and a reporter outside a pellet mill entrance saw trucks of logs entering.

Pellet makers’ pledges to rely on waste wood “painted them into a corner,” said Robert Abt, a forest economist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, because the wood-products industry already used its supplies relatively efficiently, leaving little waste.

Around 2009 or so I got into a protracted (online) debate with an NC State grad student about burning biomass as a replacement for coal. I could not get him to admit that, eventually, the industry would grow to the point it would need to consume whole trees instead of detritus. Which he stubbornly claimed would be "more than enough" to satisfy demands. But aside from the deforestation issues, the environmental justice impact of these plants is horrendous:


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