Hundreds of thousands of people are without electricity, a situation the Irish power network is calling “unprecedented territory.” Officials say it will take weeks to repair the damage.
Meanwhile, Ophelia’s strong winds, as well as lingering dry conditions from a record hot summer heatwave nicknamed “Lucifer,” have worsened hundreds of wildfires that are raging mostly out of control in parts of Portugal and Spain. Dozens of people have died, and thousands of firefighters are working to quash the flames, which have encroached on several urban areas.
Congress might allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a 2018 budget resolution this week. The outcome could open the pristine landscape of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and drilling.
At nearly 19.6 million acres, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States. More than 7 million acres of its landscape is federally protected wilderness — but not the “1002 area,” a 1.5-million-acre stretch of coastal plain that sits above an estimated 4 to 12 billion barrels of oil, less than a year’s worth of oil in U.S. markets.
The 2018 budget resolution would require the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to draft legislation to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1 billion over the next decade, a figure that includes projected revenues for Arctic Refuge drilling. If passed, this would provide the first step for greenlighting opening the refuge for drilling.
Environmentalists and opponents say that the risks of oil and gas exploration in the Arctic are too great considering the potential for habitat destruction, pollution, and oil spills. Construction and noise pollution emitted from drilling could also disrupt the migration of birds, the calving of porcupine caribou, and the denning patterns of polar bears, environmentalists say. For thousands of years, native communities like the Gwich’in have depended on the ecological harmony of the region.
On the other side of the world, wildfires burned in Siberia all summer long, covering the sun with enormous clouds of smoke and ash.
To understand why this happens, you need to know a bit of optics. Sun rays contain light from the whole visible spectrum. As the sun’s white light beams into the atmosphere, it collides with molecules that diffuse some of the wavelengths. On a normal day, short wavelength colors, like purple and blue, are filtered out, making the sun look yellow.
But high concentrations of light-scattering molecules in the air (like smoke particles from a wildfire) crowd out more of those short-wavelength colors, leaving behind that hellish red color.
Trump’s new environmental nominee says carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett White to run the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office in charge of promoting the improvement of the environment.
Like many Trump picks who came before her, Hartnett White is an outspoken climate skeptic. In an interview with the Washington Post last fall, she said, “Carbon dioxide has none of the characteristics of a pollutant that could harm human health.”
That’s not the only bonkers thing Trump’s nominee has said about climate change. Previously chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Hartnett White was a candidate for head of the EPA before the position went to another climate skeptic, Scott Pruitt.
In a column published in Townhall in 2015, Hartnett White wrote that “industrialized nations that utterly depend on the consumption of fossil fuels have not amplified environmental degradation of the natural world.”
And in an op-ed last year, she suggested that CO2 “may not be the cause of warming but instead a symptom of it.”
As for what does impact our climate, Hartnett White has a theory: “What role does our sun play? The sun is the source of over 99 percent of the energy in the earth’s climate.”
Federal officials accidentally emailed a reporter their plans to spin Puerto Rico.
In late September, the Pentagon included Bloomberg News climate reporter Christopher Flavelle on a series of emails meant for Pentagon employees.
The emails detail talking points for convincing the public that the White House’s response to Puerto Rico was going well. Just one minor problem: It so wasn’t. Many Puerto Ricans have gone without power, clean water, and adequate food ever since Hurricane Maria hit last month.
Flavelle pointed out some highlights from the messages, which he received between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2.
So much for the White House’s attempts to turn the corner on their PR problem. As Department of Defense staff admitted in a later email, the public perception of the government’s response “continues to be negative.” Sometimes, perception is reality.
Here’s how direct-air carbon capture works: Giant turbines pull in huge quantities of air, hoovering up molecules of carbon dioxide so we can store it somewhere that’s NOT the atmosphere.
The Icelandic pilot program can remove an estimated 50 metric tons of CO2 from the air in a year. It pumps the collected gas deep into the island’s volcanic bedrock, where it reacts with basalt and essentially turns into limestone. Voilà! No massive reservoirs to manage for millennia — just a lot of rock.
If all this sounds too good to be true, there’s a reason. Ambitious “clean coal” plants have been engaged in a very public struggle with the economic reality of carbon capture in recent years, and direct-air capture is an even tougher sell.
But it’s getting more affordable. Today, companies estimate it would cost between $50 and $100 to capture a single metric ton of carbon. Iceland’s plant has already achieved $30 per metric ton. It will never work as a substitute for action to reduce emissions, but carbon capture could be a crucial part of keeping global temperatures in check this century.