NEWS OF THE DAY:
Media Can’t Handle the Climate Truth
Holman Jenkins Jr., The Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2021
If, after four decades, scientists see less warming and lower emissions, isn’t that good news?
If “news” is about how today differs from yesterday, the press missed a lot of news in the long-awaited new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that was issued a few weeks ago.
After 41 years of promoting a fuzzy and unsatisfying estimate of how much warming might result from a doubling of atmospheric CO2, the world’s climate science arbiter has finally offered the first real improvement in the history of modern climate science.
Through five previous U.N. assessment plus their predecessor, the 1979 Charney Report, the likely worst-case was a rise of 4.5 degrees Celsius. This came from averaging the result of inconsistent computer climate simulations about which the IPCC knew only one thing: They couldn’t all be right and perhaps none were.
Using real-world data, the new report now says the worst case is a 4-degree rise. More important, with much greater confidence than before, disastrous outcomes above 5 degrees are now found to be very unlikely.
In another departure, the U.N. panel now says the dire emissions scenario it promoted for two decades should be regarded as highly unlikely, with more plausible projections at least a third lower.
The report also notes, as the press never does, the full impact of these emissions won’t be manifested until decades, even a century, later. The ultimate likely worst-case effect of a doubling of CO2 might be 4 degrees, but the best estimate of the “transient climate response” this century is about 2.7 degrees, or 1.6 degrees on top of the warming experienced since the start of the industrial age.
You might not wish this on your least favorite planet but compare it with media coverage of the U.S. National Climate Assessment in 2018, which paraded as a nearly foregone conclusion a temperature increase of 6.1 degrees.
No, the new report isn’t a reason to stop worrying about climate change, on the unlikely assumption that your previous level of worry corresponded to the actual science. But if you’ve been buying the media’s exaggerations, you can relax quite a bit.
The words most quoted in the press weren’t found in the U.N. report or even its executive summary. They were the claims of a pair of U.N. officials that the report heralded a “code red for humanity” and, even more devoid of meaning, that “no one is safe” from a warming planet.
In reality, no creature makes the whole planet its home but picks those zones it finds most equable. Even with technological help, humanity is present, and thinly so, on 20% of the earth’s land surface. The boundaries of this presence will shift in response to a changing climate, as they have in the past.
By now, though, the press and the climate science impresarios know each other too well, thus scripted idiocies abound. This week’s massive rainstorm in the Northeast reflexively was described as a consequence of climate change. Never mind that heavy rains always happened and, in any case, climate policy can’t be a solution for a New York City storm-drain system designed not to withstand a five-year storm, let alone a 100-year storm.
Or take the U.S. government’s claim that July was the hottest month on record. Unmentioned in any news report that I could find, the margin of error in this measurement was 10 times as large as the purported difference over the previously claimed hottest month of July 2016.
Imagine the news industry was still able to discern news. If the latest in a 40-year succession of climate forecasts differs from its predecessors in finding temperature change and emissions not as bad as previously projected, this would qualify as news. That is, to a media not wedded to the senseless assumption that climate science can only produce a succession of ever more dire discoveries.
Our climate fluctuates under many influences, but one factor that overwhelms all others is the increase in human beings and their valuable property placed in the path of extreme weather, behavior encouraged by politicians. Even so, human preparedness has advanced faster than climate change or even human building propensities. As University of Colorado Boulder’s Roger Pielke Jr. has patiently pointed out, your odds of dying from extreme weather have been declining drastically all through the period of growing human climate impact.
This progress had been made, so far at least, without help from climate policy, unless you consider fracking, which has led to a decline in total U.S. emissions, to be climate policy. Since mankind demonstrably is not going to arrest climate change by banning fossil fuels, and quite likely would leave itself on balance worse off if it did, let this be your good-news story of the day.
Interior reevaluates Trump plan to open up most of Arctic oil reserve for drilling
Rachel Frazin, The Hill, September 8, 2021
The Interior Department is reevaluating the Trump administration’s plan to open up 82 percent of an Arctic oil reserve to drilling.
In a memo released as part of a court case Tuesday, Interior official Laura Daniel-Davis directed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to “undertake an evaluation” of the plan and an environmental review that were completed last year regarding the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A).
Daniel-Davis, the department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management, also wrote that the review may prompt a new decision on how much of the reserve should be open for drilling.
Until that time, the BLM won’t offer leases for drilling on tracts of land that were newly opened up for drilling last year.
Daniel-Davis wrote that the department’s initial assessment indicates that the 2020 plan is “inconsistent” with a Biden executive order titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis.”
But the department hasn’t yet made a final determination and thus will carry out its review.
Daniel-Davis specifically raised concerns about opening up the “biologically sensitive” Teshekpuk Lake Special Area. Opponents of the plan have raised concerns about drilling in that area, citing its importance for wildlife.
Daniel-Davis also noted the plan’s elimination of the Colville River Special Area and said that it additionally “contains other changes that reduce environmental protections in favor of further promoting oil and gas development.”
She contrasted it with a 2013 plan from the Obama administration that opened up 52 percent of the NPR-A for drilling.
“The Department of the Interior is committed to protecting public health, conserving land, water, and wildlife, and ensuring that management of our public lands and oceans is guided by science, equity, and community engagement,” an Interior Department spokesperson said in a statement late on Tuesday.
“Today’s action is in accordance with President Biden’s directive to review and address agency regulations and programs that conflict with this Administration’s climate priorities,” the spokesperson added.
Natural Gas Jumps to 7-Year High as Winter Supply Worries Mount
Josyana Joshua, Bloomberg, September 8, 2021
U.S. natural gas futures soared to a seven-year high amid escalating concerns about tight supplies heading into the winter-heating season.
Gas prices are soaring across the northern hemisphere as anxiety mounts about the prospects of a supply crunch in coming weeks when cold weather begins to descend and homeowners switch on furnaces. A confluence of production and processing disruptions are running headlong into robust demand for the fuel in some of the world’s biggest economies.
Gas for October delivery rose as much as 9.7% to $5.01 per million British thermal units in New York on Wednesday, a level not seen since unprecedented cold gripped North America during the Polar Vortex of early 2014.
In Phoenix and Los Angeles, so-called spot prices jumped to $30 and $20, respectively, according to a source who asked not to be identified. Demand for the fuel is climbing in the U.S. West amid a heat wave that’s lifting consumption of electricity to run air conditioners. European prices are in the midst of a record-setting ascent because deliveries from key producers have been stymied at a time of meager stored supplies.
“We’re probably going to go into this coming winter, just the way things were already setting up, with the lowest level of gas in storage since 2014,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital LLC.
In the U.S. sector of the Gulf of Mexico, about 78% of gas production remains offline more than a week after offshore crews fled to safety ahead of Hurricane Ida’s arrival. The premium for March 2022 gas over April futures — essentially a bet on how undersupplied the market will be at the end of next winter — surged as much as 27%.
Meanwhile, European energy executives are warning of a difficult winter as already-tight supplies are stretched by post-pandemic economic reopenings. That’s fueling inflation concerns and worries about ripple effects that could roil gas-intensive industries from fertilizers to steel and food producers.
Drill challenges at Arctic copper project won’t influence timeline, says Trilogy Metals
Mining.Com, September 7, 2021
Trilogy Metals (TSX: TMQ; NYSE America: TMQ) says lower than expected drilling productivity due to adverse weather and staffing shortages at its Arctic copper project in remote northwestern Alaska will not detract from the project’s permitting and development timeline.
The project, part of the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP) being managed by the Ambler Metals joint venture between the company and South32 (ASX: S32; LSE: S32; JSE: S32), opened the Arctic exploration camp in May in preparation for a start-up of drilling in June.
The drilling contractor deployed three diamond drill rigs in June to conduct 7,600 meters of drilling at Arctic. Most of the drilling targeted infill areas to improve the confidence of the mineral resources and geotechnical and metallurgical drill holes to further de-risk the project. An additional 7,000 meters of exploration drilling was planned at targets near the Arctic deposit and elsewhere in the Ambler Mining District.
As a result, Ambler Metals is unlikely to achieve the drill meters planned at Arctic for this field season. Notwithstanding the lower-than-expected drilling productivity, Ambler Metals has recovered sufficient mineralized material to complete the planned metallurgical program at Arctic, says Trilogy.
All the planned geotechnical drilling was completed, and the company does not expect the shortfall in the drilling program to influence the permitting and development timeline of the Arctic project,” it said in a media statement.
In consultation with joint-venture owners Trilogy and South32, Ambler Metals will keep the camp open longer than initially planned to complete as much of the regional drilling program as possible. The timing of camp closure this season will be weather-dependent.
In response to the slower drilling this season, Ambler Metals has also redeployed some of the geological staff at the site to focus on regional mapping and soil sampling around satellite deposits near the Arctic project and at the earlier-stage Bornite project. Information gathered during this season will assist with future exploration activities, including identifying drill targets for next year’s field season.
The summer field season for the Ambler Access project is underway with cultural heritage work along the proposed 340-kilometre, east-west-running controlled industrial access road that would provide industrial access to the Ambler Mining District in northwestern Alaska.
The partnership, formed in 2019, seeks to eventually develop the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP) in Alaska’s Ambler mining district. Building an access road to the deposit is one of the first steps to achieving that goal.
The UKMP projects have a combined resource of 8 billion pounds of copper, 3 billion pounds of zinc and 1 million ounces of gold equivalent.
The proposed mine is expected to produce more than 159 million pounds of copper, 199 million pounds of zinc, 33 million pounds of lead, 30,600 ounces of gold and 3.3 million ounces of silver over a 12-year mine life.
Alaska Supreme Court confirms an end to 2 limits on cash in political campaigns
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, September 4, 2021
n a pair of written rulings on Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court confirmed that two state limits on spending during political campaigns are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.
In one ruling, the high court’s justices agree that the state of Alaska cannot limit political contributions to third-party groups because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in a case known as Citizens United.
The state has not enforced a limit since 2012, and a group of Alaskans had sued the state’s campaign finance regulator, hoping for a court order requiring the regulator to resume enforcement.
That lawsuit was brought by the Resource Development Council for Alaska and other groups opposing Ballot Measure 1, which sought to raise oil taxes. Last year, a lower court ruled that backers of the measure had paid signature-gatherers more than allowed by law, but that the law itself was unconstitutional.
Both rulings arrive as the state awaits the results of a federal case with even broader implications. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month overturned most of Alaska’s limits on contributions directly to candidates and campaigns.
That ruling has been placed on hold while the court decides whether the case should be heard by the entire court rather than just a three-judge panel.
Big Oil looks to outside partners for emissions tallies
Ben Geman, Axios, September 8, 2021
Oil-and-gas companies are increasingly working with third parties as they face pressure to breathe life into their climate pledges and show they’re credible.
Driving the news: Exxon has a new agreement with the nonprofit MiQ to certify and grade methane emissions from a portion of its Permian Basin gas production.
- Bart Cahir, a senior Exxon executive, said in a statement that the partnership will provide customers with “credible third-party validation” of their emissions-cutting efforts.
- The move “follows shale producers including EQT Corp in offering independently verified emissions data to buyers seeking to reduce their own carbon footprints,” Reuters reports.
What we’re watching: Chevron has a new “memorandum of understanding” with Delta Air Lines and Google to track emissions from a test batch “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF).
- “The companies hope to create a common, more transparent model for analyzing potential greenhouse gas emissions reductions that could then be adopted by organizations considering SAF programs,” the announcement states.
- MarketWatch has more.