What Exxon Knew

Clearly, there's going to be an impact so I'm not disputing that increasing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere is going to have an impact. It'll have a warming impact. How large it is, is very hard for anyone to predict and depending on how large it is then projects how dire the consequences are. In the fall of 2015, an investigation by the Pulitzer Prize winning Inside Climate News as well as the Los Angeles Times and the Colombia School of Journalism revealed a trove of documents from scientists inside oil giant ExxonMobil, showing that Exxon scientists understood the mechanisms and consequences of human caused climate change as early as the late 1970s and early 1980s. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently subpoenaed oil giant ExxonMobil, apparently seeking documents that might show the company had downplayed the risks to profits and therefore to investors of stronger regulations on burning fossil fuels. The documents show Exxon understood a clear scientific consensus existed on the greenhouse effect, that the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could become a serious problem and mentioned the distinct possibility of effects that could be catastrophic for a substantial fraction of the Earth's population.

Exxon scientists stated their research was in accord with the scientific consensus on the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on climate. Multiple documents mentioned potential adverse impacts such as flooding of coastal land masses due to the melting Antarctica sheets. Our view of this very complex subject over the years, over the decades, has mirrored that of the broader scientific community. In the early 1980s, the scientific community was just beginning to sound the alarm about increasing buildup of gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Researchers say increasingly large amounts of CO2 are accumulating in the atmosphere. They fear the earth will gradually become warmer, causing as yet uncertain but possibly disruptive changes in the Earth's climate 50 to 70 years from now. The discussions that have taken place inside our company among our scientists mirror the discussions that have been taking place in the work that's been taking place by the broader scientific community.

That's what the facts show. Scientists and a few politicians are beginning to worry that global energy planning does not take the greenhouse effect seriously enough. Those same computer models correctly predict the past climate of the Earth. They correctly predict the present climate of the Earth. It is reasonable that they are correctly predicting the future climate on the Earth, given the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that were pouring into the atmosphere. Internal briefing documents for Exxon executives showed a science effort that was on the very cutting edge for its time. Graphs showed projections of temperature rise derived from increasingly complex atmospheric models, much like temperatures that have now been observed in the real world. Using global climate models developed by NASA, Exxon scientists agreed with the mainstream projections of approximately 3 degrees global average temperature rise for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide with a rise of more than 10 degrees projected for polar regions, a phenomenon called polar amplification, which has now been actually observed. Exxon state-of-the-art climate modeling predicted a pattern of planetary warming, projecting the lower atmosphere to warm, while the upper atmosphere cooled, a telltale fingerprint of human-caused warming that has now also been observed in the real world.

This table from 1982 predicts conditions looking well into the future including the current year of 2015 where Exxon predicted atmospheric carbon levels for our time to within nine parts per million and a temperature rise to within a few tenths of degree of the best current observations. But in the following years, something happened at Exxon. The company seem to have forgotten the findings of its own experts. Proponents of the global warming theory say that higher levels of greenhouse gases are causing world temperatures to rise and the burning fossil fuels is the reason. The scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect global climate. You know, there was no doubt that fossil fuels were the main driver of higher CO2 emissions and that CO2 emissions will lead to the climate change, right.

What Exxon was trying to figure out in the 70s and 80s was, when is it gonna hit and how bad is it gonna be but they knew it was gonna be bad like they admitted it is going to be bad, they used the word 'catastrophic' over and over again in documents. Fifteen years later, as the science became more certain, Exxon backed away from that and Lee Raymond talked about that. Many scientists agree there's ample time to better understand climate systems and considered policy options so there's simply no reason to take drastic action now. It's a pretty startling walk back from what, you know, the scientists said 15 years earlier. What he's concerned about and wants to know, is whether Exxon was using one set of scientific models to do its work in the Arctic, for example, where Exxon has been engaged in drilling and on the other hand, telling the public, telling its shareholders a very different set of facts about the state of climate change.

When you're making public disclosures to investors and when you're making public disclosures to government officials, there are laws regulating whether or not that's something that you really need to stand by so if there's evidence demonstrating purposeful concealment and it's too early to say then it really could be a big cloud over the company site. Exxon has funded a number of organizations that he said have been openly climate change deniers, he mentioned the American Enterprise Institute… Take for example, this hold 97% of scientists agree on global warming. That is an utterly fraudulent number. Has Exxon been funding these organizations? Well, the answer is yes, and I'll let those organizations respond for themselves. They're basically saying you and your industry are hiding the risks of climate change just like the tobacco companies hid the risks of smoking.

.. and then using tactics that are very similar to what the cigarette industry or tobacco industry used for many years even though the overwhelming scientific consensus was that smoking cigarettes is bad for you, they would find a few scientists that would disagree and then they would say, look, scientists disagree so that's essentially how they would try to trick the public into thinking that smoking is not that bad. There are allegations that ExxonMobil also funded research from somebody for example at the Smithsonian Institution without disclosing and without that person disclosing that he was going on a certain path whereby there were other scientists within ExxonMobil that might have had beliefs to the contrary. You have received over a million dollars and funds from coal and oil interests. The last grant you received from a funder with no ties to the energy industry was in 2002. That's over a decade ago. In recent weeks, ExxonMobil has accused Columbia School of Journalism of ethical misconduct in reporting this story. In response, Steve Coll, the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, has refuted those allegations in a detailed letter since published in The New York Times.

Meanwhile, 2015 will soon go down in history as the hottest year globally in the modern record with indications that 2016 will be even warmer. We can't be a 100% sure, but which is more prudent? Which is wiser? …to do nothing and hope that a mistake has been made, or to take these predictions seriously even if there's a chance the precautions you will take will be unnecessary..

8 Negative Effects of Climate Change

Climate change is real, and it’s affecting us all. From severe heat waves to extreme flooding, here are 8 negative effects of climate change. You’d wish it was all just a hoax… Number 8: Destruction of archeological sites We often think about how changes in the climate are threatening the lives of humans, animals, and plants on the planet. But we fail to realize that it’s not only the living that are affected by climate change. In fact, archeological sites – priceless windows to our past – are suffering as well. High sea waves are hitting Easter Island, the famous site of the moai – mysterious giant head-and-torso statues built by ancient Polynesians. The platforms supporting the moai are slowly being damaged by sea water, and if this continues, the monolithic figures might fall off and end up at the bottom of the ocean one day. Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is also at risk, and is cited as one of the places most vulnerable to climate change in the US.

There are thousands of archeological sites here, constructed by the ancient Puebloans thousands of years ago. But rising temperatures have caused frequent wildfires, and with it the destruction of rock carvings. This also causes the exposure of new sites and artifacts that become vulnerable to erosion and flooding. These are just two examples of many priceless ancient artifacts and ancient archeological sites in the world that are at risk. Archeologists seem to be in a race against time to document and protect these places before they are gone forever. Number 7: Food shortages We’ve mentioned how climate change and global warming leads to drought, deforestation, and pest infestation. All of this combined causes one major problem – it inhibits the ability of farmers to grow food. In order to grow, crops need to be on fertile land, which becomes largely unavailable due to water shortages.

Food shortages have not occurred widely yet, and international trade will likely prevent any major famine to affect us soon – at least not in the near future. But at the rate we’re going, food prices will soon skyrocket, both due to shortages and the need for refrigeration when extreme heat waves come hitting. Third World countries on the other hand, have it harder. In less developed countries, drought equates to star facial and suffrage sing. Prolonged drought and conflict have left 16 million people across East Africa on the brink of star facial and in urgent need of food, water and medical treatment. Number 6: Rising CO2 levels Since the Industrial Revolution over 2 centuries ago, we’ve gradually been producing more and more Carbon Dioxide on a regular basis. With large scale industrialization and the burning of fossil fuels, we’ve put a total of 2000 gigatons of CO2 in the atmosphere, and about 40% of it has stayed there.

Humans have only been roaming this planet for a relatively short period, yet today’s CO2 levels are the highest they have ever been for millions of years. C02 is one of the main gases contributing to the greenhouse effect, the process by which radiation from the atmosphere heats the planet’s surface. The greenhouse effect is essential for supporting life on the planet, but its extreme intensification has led to global warming. Number 5: Global Warming Global warming – it is the main form of climate changing, and the 2 terms are even often used interchangeably. As of right now, the Earth is warming at a scary rate, 10 times faster than at the end of the Ice Age. Since we started measuring global surface temperature in 1850, each decade seems to surpass the previous, and that rate does not seem to be slowing down. This directly affects us in a number of ways, mainly in the form of drought and extreme weathers. Since the previous century, mega droughts have been appearing everywhere all over the Earth.

Rainfall has been scarce, farms get deserted, and lakes are drying up. Some lakes have even dried up completely, and are no longer existent. An example is Bolivia’s Lake Poopo, which was once its country’s second largest lake. The process of global warming brought increased temperatures to the region, and its evaporation rate multiplied exponentially since the 1990s. By December 2015, Lake Poopo had completely dried up, leaving only a few marshy areas. According to scientists, it is unlikely that it will ever recover. While some places are affected by drought, other places are more vulnerable to extreme weathers in the form of heat waves and storms. The frequency and duration of heat waves has increased greatly within the past half century, and are only going to get worse. Heat waves alone kill more people in the United States compared to natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods combined. Global warming also affects storm formation, by decreasing the temperature difference between the poles and the equator.

Some experts have found a correlation between global warming and the intensity of recent Atlantic Ocean tropical cyclones such as Katrina, Wilma, and Sandy. Number 4: Losing our forests Climate change affects all life on the planet, and this includes forest ecosystems, many of which have been destroyed indirectly by global warming. Bark beetles are major pests that feed and breed between the bark and wood of various tree species, damaging them in the process. These insects thrive in warm temperatures, and as a consequence of global warming, have expanded their ranges and proliferated widely in the forests of North America and Europe. Millions of acres of forest have been destroyed due to bark beetle infestation in recent years. Another cause of widespread deforestation is wildfire. While climate change does not directly cause trees to burn up, wildfires are generally the result of forests getting extremely dry.

Global warming lessens the humidity of forest areas, making them vulnerable to catch on fire. Forests in the western coast of USA, particularly in California, get set ablaze often during dry seasons. If rain fell more often, these forest fires would be extinguished much quicker. There has indeed been a notable increase in wildfires in California within the last decade compared to the decade before, meaning a correlation with climate change is very much likely, and would probably get worse with rising temperatures. Number 3: Insufficient energy to meet demands Since the dawn of mankind, people have learnt of various ways to keep themselves warm – from starting simple fires to creating electric-powered heaters. One of the main reasons for energy demand used to be heating, as people needed to survive long and chilly winters. But a global trend that started in the past century has seen a reversal, especially with the invention of cooling devices like refrigerators and air conditioners.

With the climate getting warmer and warmer, the demand for cooling has skyrocketed. With the increase in carbon emissions and the resulting hot temperatures, the demand for more energy to produce cooling is getting out of control. The worse thing is that this creates a neverending heat-producing cycle. More demand results in more power plants and cooling devices being created, which when used, emits more carbon that heats up the environment. Our only hope is the creation and use of clean energy sources that could keep up with the demands while breaking this vicious cycle. Research and development in solar power shows promise. On the other hand, hydro-electric power is expected to fall behind, as global warming and droughts have caused a decrease in river water levels. Without enough water flow, generators at the dams will not be able to provide energy.

Meanwhile, sea levels are rising, creating a potential risk of flood and storms that could cripple power generators along coastlines. This would disrupt power transmission to entire cities, and create a more desperate demand for energy. Number 2: Melting ice caps & rising sea levels Water covers more than 70% of our planet, and they absorb most of the heat added to the atmosphere. So it’s only natural that is where the extreme changes of climate change are seen. Sea levels around the world have been rising a 10th of an inch every year, and they’re already up 8 inches since 100 years ago. There are two reasons for this. One water expands as it gets warmer. Two, because glaciers, ice caps and icebergs are melting, so they add up to the ocean’s water volume. White sea ice is essential in reflecting sun rays back up into the atmosphere.

Without an ice layer, the dark ocean absorbs the heat rays, feeding the cycle forward. Summer sea ice in the Arctic has decreased a staggering 40% since just 40 years ago, making it the lowest in 1400 years. Antarctica is also experiencing a similar thing, with its western glaciers melting at an alarming rate. At this current rate, the oceans would be up a meter higher by the end of this century. Coastal settlements would be flooded, and many of them would become uninhabitable. And it’s not just cities, but entire nations are also at risk of being wiped off the map. The island country of Maldives is particularly endangered, and is at risk of being swallowed up by the ocean within the next few decades. Their leaders’ pleas to the world to cut global greenhouse gas emissions have been generally ignored, and they are already looking into purchasing new land from neighboring countries to settle their people in the future. Number 1: Animal extinction All the damages caused by climate change is not only affecting us humans, but nearly all the other species on the planet are also struggling to adapt to these changes that we have caused. A lot of animals, mostly birds, are seen beginning their seasonal migrations a lot earlier.

For instance, scientists have found that the Icelandic black-tailed godwits have started migrating 2 weeks earlier than normal to escape the summer heat. Some animals are moving away from their natural habitats towards cooler areas in higher elevations. The distribution patterns of Adelie penguins across Antarctica have also changed significantly. They are known to mainly feed on Antarctic krills, which are small crustaceans that stay under ice caps. But with fewer ice caps remaining, Adelie penguins find themselves in short of food supply leading to mass migrations. All this migration of various animal species is indeed a sign of the climate getting warmer every year. We have also seen a disturbing change within the behavior of several animals. The melting of polar ice in the summer has led to Polar bears channel arising their own cubs out of desperation in order to stay alive. The ocean is our planet’s largest carbon sink. With more Carbon Dioxide released into the atmosphere, more of it ends up dissolving into the ocean, causing a decrease in the water’s pH levels.

Although still far away from turning the ocean into acid, creatures with calcium shells are really sensitive to these slight changes. The ocean is on the course of hitting a pH level of 7.8 within a century, which would mean the end of about one third of the ocean’s species. The Orange-spotted filefish has already gone locally extinct around Japan due to extensive coral bleaching and hypersensitivity to warm waters. Some animal species have already gone totally extinct. The Golden toad that was once native to the forests of Costa Rica was last sighted in 1989, having likely all bite off due to high temperatures. They were known to mate in wet conditions, and the repeated dry seasons presumably ended their species..

Environmental Econ: Crash Course Economics #22

Adriene: Welcome to Crash Course Economics. I’m Adriene Hill Jacob: And I’m Jacob Clifford. Economics is about choices, and how we use our scarce resources. It’s not just about producing and consuming, it can also be about conserving. Adriene: Maybe counterintuitively, economics has a lot to add to discussions of how we can balance our desire for prosperity and growth, with the need to protect our natural resources. Today we're going to look at environmental economics and think about how economics can help us keep our planet livable. [Theme Music] Pollution is going to happen, it’s a by-product of human existence and there is no way that we can get rid of it all. In fact, one of the ways we know about earliest the societies is by looking at their trash heap, something archaeologists call middens, because it sounds better than “dumps.” But the fact that humans produce all kinds of waste doesn’t mean that we have to embrace islands of trash floating in the oceans, a layer of smog over industrial cities, and toxic chemicals in our rivers. For sake of simplicity though, we’re going to focus on one type of pollution: carbon dioxide emissions. They’re one of the primary greenhouse gases.

These greenhouse gases basically blanket the earth and are causing climate change. CO2 levels are the highest they've been for millions years which is why environmentalists consider it a “planetary emergency.” There's a lot of effort going into how to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, how to make cities more resilient to climate change, but in the interest of time we’re going to focus on efforts to reduce the amount of new pollutants getting spewed into our atmosphere. Jacob: The economic solution is pretty simple. Step one, identify the sources of the most air pollution. Done. We know exactly what it is. It’s factories that burn fossil fuels for energy, industries that use oil and coal to produce things, and vehicles with internal combustion engines. Step two, decrease the supply of these technologies and products or decrease the demand for them. That’s it, it’s simple.

But, the implementation of these policies gets complicated. Let’s look at decreasing supply. As we mentioned in the last video, one of the biggest problems with having countries independently enforce environmental regulations is the Tragedy of the Commons. No one owns the atmosphere, so there is very little incentive for countries to keep it clean and switch to expensive green technologies if no one else is going to. It’s not like there is some global environmental police punishing countries for polluting. While a country like Trinidad and Tobago has a huge carbon output per capita, its small population means it’s only producing a small fraction of global CO2. The other option is to decrease the demand for fossil fuels, possibly by finding alternate green energy sources. But we’re already very reliant on fossil fuels, and markets have made the production of those fuels very cheap. So, any new type of energy will have a hard time beating the established system.

So we can either wait patiently for new technologies to develop and get cheaper, or we can speed up the process by manipulating markets with government subsidies, taxes, and regulations. Adriene: In the case of pollution, there are long-term side effects, like climate change, that consumers often don’t take into account when they buy products. Remember negative externalities? When the full cost of a product doesn’t line up with the costs that manufacturers or consumers pay? Pollution represents a market failure — a situation where markets fail to produce the amount that society wants. To address this, some economists argue that government intervention is not only justified, but essential. There are all kinds of different ways intervention can happen — all of them meant to encourage producers and consumers to choose to pollute less.

One solution is for the government to come out and set very specific rules about how much specific industries can pollute. Forget markets. You're gonna follow our pollution rules. Another way governments encourage people to pollute less is by providing price incentives. Those incentives can encourage individuals to make choices that are better for the environment. The government could add taxes to gasoline purchases, or, on the other hand, provide subsidies for people who drive electric cars. Governments can also create permit markets — basically setting a limit on how much firms can pollute, and allowing those firms to buy and sell pollution permits. You’ve probably heard these called “cap and trade”. Proponents of cap and trade argue that it can successfully limit emissions, without creating hard and fast rules that might hinder economic growth.

And, governments can subsidize the development of a specific technology or industry—in an effort to make that technology more competitive with the alternatives. A country might help support the development of solar or wind energy. As of 2014, around 10% of the energy consumed in the United States came from renewable sources, which is pretty much in line with the global average. Current predictions are that by 2040 15% of the world energy consumption will come from renewable sources. But, alternative energy sources, for the most part, just aren’t cheap enough yet, so the majority of our energy is likely to continue to come from non-renewable sources, at least for now. Jacob: We don’t have the time to sit back and wait for new technologies to get cheaper, and there's no guarantee that the technologies that the government picks will be cost effective. Perhaps the solution is not to get rid of fossil fuels, but instead be more efficient with those fuels. But that has drawbacks, too. Some energy economists argue that the expected gains from energy saving technologies, are offset by something called the rebound effect. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble.

Adriene: Let’s say Hank uses a gallon of gas to drive to work everyday. Then, partially to help the planet but mostly to help his wallet, he buys a new fuel efficient car that only takes half a gallon of gas for the same commute. He saves money and there's less pollution. It is a win-win. But the rebound effect says that the benefits of energy efficiency might be reduced as people change their behavior. With the money he saves, Hank might start driving more than he normally would or he might go on a vacation in Hawaii. That leads to more consumption and possibly even more emissions. Also, if greater fuel-efficiency makes driving less expensive it might encourage more people to buy cars and increase the overall use of gasoline. And even if people didn't increase their driving, the new fuel efficiency could decrease the demand for gas, making fossil fuels cheaper and more readily available for other uses. The possibility of the rebound effect doesn’t mean we shouldn’t invest in energy saving technologies. It just means that we have to keep in mind how consumers will behave. It’s also the reason why it's important to have economists involved in the discussion of environmental policy.

The tools of economics can help analyze the incentives and figure out what might work best. Thanks Thought Bubble. Okay, so we’ve identified another problem. But before you get so angry that you kick over a barrel of oil and light it on fire, keep in mind that there is hope. Most countries are actively trying to address the problem of greenhouse gases. The international community has been trying for decades to work together to protect the environment with varying success. There are international treaties that commit countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. UN negotiations are underway to create a new climate change agreement — that could be adopted in December 2015. Private companies and governments are also funding research into green technology. In the U.S. the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocated billions to fund renewable energy.

China is also vowing to clean things up, and, in fact, leads the world in renewable energy investment. So, now that most countries recognize there is a problem, the hope is that they’ll figure out a way, or more likely a lot of ways, to start addressing it. Environmental economists say that is not just governments and producers that need to change, it’s also consumers. Conserving and consuming more thoughtfully likely need to be a part of our daily lives if we want to protect the environment. But just bringing our reusable grocery bags to the store isn’t going to save the planet, even if it says it on the bag. Bigger and more costly interventions like improving insulation and changing thermostats might have more impact, but we need to recognize individual action alone isn’t going to be enough. Industries, governments, and individuals; we’re in this together. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.

Crash Course Economics is made with the help of all these fine people. You can support Crash Course at Patreon, a voluntary subscription service where your support helps keep Crash Course free for everyone forever. And you get great rewards! Thanks for watching and DFTBA..

Kansas: Conservation, the “5th Fuel” (ENERGY QUEST USA)

Narrator: Kansas, a land of wheat, and corn, and cattle. In the heart of the country, it's number 48 out of all 50 states in energy efficiency. So this is a place where energy conservation can really make a difference. Come on, girls. Our region is a region of farmers. We are famously conservative and we have talked from the beginning about putting the conserve back in conservative. Narrator: According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to deliver more than $700 billion in cost savings in the U.S. alone. But, they say motivating consumers to take action is the key to unlocking this potential and that was the aim of Nancy Jackson's Climate and Energy project, with its Take Charge! Challenge. Kansans are patriotic, Kansans are hardworking, Kansans are humble.

Narrator: And Kansans are competitive. You all are competing against Ottawa, Baldwin City, and Paola, so really, you gotta beat those guys, yes? Do you want to help us beat Manhattan? Narrator: 2011 was the second year for the Take Charge! Challenge, a friendly competition among 16 communities arranged in four regional groups aiming to reduce their local energy use. Some of the lowest cost, most effective ways that you can take ownership of your energy future is taking ownership of the efficiency and the conservation of your house or your business. Narrator: Ray Hammarlund's office used federal stimulus dollars to fund four prizes of $100,000 for each of the four regions in the competition. Just as important as the grand prize, $25,000 went to each community to fund local coordinators who took the lead in galvanizing grassroots efforts.

Here's how the challenge worked in Iola. The challenge started in January of this year and ends October 1st. You're required to have three community events. We're going to have a lot more than that. Today, we are at the Fight The Energy Hog Festival. Becky Nilges: I love the hog. He was just so ugly that he is cute. He represents energy hogs in your home. You would probably let him in but you don't know the damage he's going to do. Narrator: Competing towns scored points by counting how many cfl bulbs and programmable thermostats were installed and how many professional home energy audits were done. Our job as energy auditors, both for commercial buildings as well as residential buildings is, we're essentially detectives.

What's happening here? Is there a great deal of air leakage? And we're finding that the majority of the houses that we're dealing with actually use a lot more energy than they need to. Narrator: In Lawrence, a house of worship did an energy audit, made changes, and got a pretty nice donation in its collection plate. David Owen: One part of the audit was to contact the power company. Well, during that process we discovered they had been overcharging us. And so we got a check, a rebate check from them for $4,456. Narrator: Other changes start small, but add up. We were a little bit worried at one point that the congregation would not accept the very bright, white type lights. So as an experiment, we took one of these chandeliers and changed all the bulbs in it to the cfls. And then we took the priest over here and we said, "which one did we do?" and he could not tell us.

So that told us it was ok to do them all. Narrator: Changing lights, adding insulation, and upgrading windows paid off. Even though it's an old building, we saved 64% on the consumption of energy in this room. Narrator: Lighting makes up about 15% of a typical home's electricity bill, and lighting all of our residential and commercial buildings uses about 13% of the nation's total electricity. But changing out old bulbs is a lot easier than paying for audits and the energy enhancements they recommend. Here's where the 2011 Take Charge! Challenge promised material assistance using stimulus funds. Ken Wagner: It's a $500 audit that costs you $100. The rest of that $500 is covered under the Take Charge Challenge program through the Kansas Energy Office. We really love the competitive spirit of the program and I think it's really raised a whole awareness of energy efficiency and the importance of energy efficiency to a lot of segments in our community here.

Narrator: Even Baldwin City bankers were grateful for financial assistance from state and federal governments. Dave Hill: Nine months ago, we installed a 14 KW solar power system. I believe the initial cost of the system was basically $65,000 and then we got a substantial grant from USDA, I believe it was $20,000. We have about $18,000 of our own money invested in the system, after all the deductions. We think it will pay out in about 7-8 years. Narrator: David Crane of NRG Energy thinks that kind of approach makes good business sense. Crane: What I say to every businessman who has a customer-facing business, think of a solar panel not only as a source of electricity, think of it as a billboard. You don't even have to write your name on it. Just put it on the top of your store and it will be sending a message to your customers that you're doing the right thing when it comes to sustainable energy. Narrator: Surveys of why conservation is hard to achieve have found that people want one-stop shopping, a place where they can find out what to do and get practical recommendations about who to hire and what it all might cost, just what this new facility was to offer.

Now it's mid-October, time for the results of the 2011 Take Charge! Challenge. MC: Fort Scott. MC: And the winner is Baldwin City. Nancy Jackson: Over 100 billion BTUs were saved as a result of this Challenge, and millions and millions of dollars in each community. Those savings come from measures that have been installed that will guarantee those savings for years to come. So the savings are enormous over time. $100,000 has a nice ring to it and it's a nice cash award for a community of our size. Our challenge now is to continue on with energy efficiency and encourage our community to save. Nancy: One of our real goals was to help people to stop thinking about energy efficiency as the things they shouldn't do, as what not to do, and think about it instead as a tremendous opportunity to both save money in the near term, and to make our electric system more resilient in the long term.

So it's about what we can do, both individually and together, and for us that feels like the real win. The United States today is twice as energy efficient as it was in the 1970s. And I think we have the capability in the decades ahead to become twice as energy efficient again. We believe this is something that can be done really anywhere with great success..

Global Warming Explained

So, we've all heard of global warming and climate change and that carbon dioxide is causing our planet to heat up. But what exactly is the science behind it? To get there, we first have to understand the greenhouse effect The greenhouse effect is a process that maintains our planet's temperatures at liveable levels and is pretty much the reason life on Earth is even remotely possible. You see, the sun is constantly shooting energy towards the Earth mostly in the form of visible light which is then absorbed by our planet heating it up. This heat is then released from our planet's surface in the form of infrared light. Here's where greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide come in. Completely surrounding our planet these greenhouse gases create a blanket that allows visible light to freely pass through to the surface of the Earth but traps infrared light as it tries to leave therefore, slowing the release of the planet's heat back into space.

Keeping it just warm enough for us to sustain life. However, the more greenhouse gases there are in our atmosphere the harder it becomes for the planet's heat to escape and thus causing a global warming. and that's exactly what has been happening since 1750 or the industrial revolution. You see, before the industrial revolution the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere lingered around 270 parts per million. But since then, it has increased at an exponential rate reaching over 400 parts per million this past October. The last time there was this much CO2 in our atmopshere human beings didn't exist. And there's no doubt that this unprecedented increase in CO2 is caused by human activity. Every living thing on Earth is made of carbon and this very element is continuously cycling to maintain an equilbirum through a process called the carbon cycle.

While things such as the death of plants and animals, the eruption of volcanoes, and wildfires release carbon into the atmosphere things like photosynthesis from plant life can help remove and sequester it. However, when the industrial revolution began humans started digging up and burning fossil fuels which are really just the decomposed remains of ancient plants and animals, to use as energy. In other words, we found stockpiles of carbon which has been kept deep beneath the Earth's surface and burned it for energy and in the process, added extreme amounts of carbon dioxide right into our atmosphere On top of this, we carried out deforestation on a massive scale and sabotaged what carbon filtration system the planet had provided us with. completely toppling the equilibirum between carbon emission and removal.

With over 200 years of throwing this life sustaining equilibirum off balance, action must be taken immediately to mitigate the impact of our changing climate. The first major step we can take is shifting to clean energy sources as soon as possible so as to prevent a further increase of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. And when we look at the rapid growth of clean energy, this is a shift that we can make. All we need is a unified push towards a more environmentally conscious global society..

Why I Left Greenpeace

In 1971 I helped found an environmental group in the basement of a Unitarian church in Vancouver, Canada. Fifteen years later, it had grown into an international powerhouse. We were making headlines every month. I was famous. And then I walked out the door. The mission, once noble, had become corrupted — political agendas and fear mongering trumped science and truth. Here’s how it happened. When I was studying for my PhD in ecology at the University of British Columbia, I joined a small activist group called the Don’t Make a Wave Committee. It was the height of the Cold War; the Vietnam War was raging. I became radicalized by these realities and by the emerging consciousness of the environment. The mission of the Don’t Make a Wave Committee was to launch an ocean-going campaign against US hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska, a symbol of our opposition to nuclear war. As one of our early meetings was breaking up, someone said, “Peace,” A reply came, “Why don’t we make it a green peace,” and a new movement was born. Green was for the environment and peace was for the people.

We named our boat “The Greenpeace” and I joined the 12-person crew for a voyage of protest. We didn’t stop that H-bomb test but it was the last hydrogen bomb the United States ever detonated. We had won a major victory. In 1975, Greenpeace took a sharp turn away from our anti-nuclear efforts and set out to Save the Whales, sailing the high seas to confront Russian and Japanese whalers. The footage we shot — young protesters positioned between harpoons and fleeing whales — was shown on TV around the world. Public donations poured in. By the early 1980s we were campaigning against toxic waste, air pollution, trophy hunting, and the live capture of orca whales. But I began to feel uncomfortable with the course my fellow directors were taking. I found myself the only one of six international directors with a formal science background. We were now tackling subjects that involved complex issues of toxicology, chemistry, and human health.

You don’t need a PhD in marine biology to know it’s a good thing to save whales from extinction. But when you’re analyzing which chemicals to ban, you need to know some science. And the first lesson of ecology is that we are all interconnected. Humans are part of nature, not separate from it. Many other species, disease agents and their carriers, for example, are our enemies and we have the moral obligation to protect human beings from these enemies. Biodiversity is not always our friend. I had noticed something else. As we grew into an international organization with over $100 million a year coming in, a big change in attitude had occurred. The “peace” in Greenpeace had faded away. Only the “green” part seemed to matter now. Humans, to use Greenpeace language, had become “the enemies of the Earth.” Putting an end to industrial growth and banning many useful technologies and chemicals became common themes of the movement. Science and logic no longer held sway.

Sensationalism, misinformation, and fear were what we used to promote our campaigns. The final straw came when my fellow directors decided that we had to work to ban the element chlorine worldwide. They named chlorine “The Devil’s Element,” as if it were evil. But this was absurd. Adding chlorine to drinking water was one of the biggest advances in the history of public health. And anyone with a basic knowledge of chemistry knew that many of our most effective pharmaceuticals had a chlorine component. Not only that, but if this anti-chlorine campaign succeeded it wouldn’t be our wealthy donors who would suffer. Wealthy individuals and countries always find a way around these follies. The ones who suffer are those in developing countries, people we’re presumably trying to help.

For example, Greenpeace has opposed the adoption of Golden Rice, a genetically modified variety of rice that contains beta carotene. Golden Rice has the potential to prevent the death of two million of the world’s poorest children every year. But that doesn’t matter to the Greenpeace crowd. GMO’s are bad. So Golden Rice must be bad. Apparently millions of children dying isn’t. This kind of rigid, backward thinking is usually attributed to the “unenlightened” and “the anti-scientific.” But I’ve discovered, from the inside out, that it can infect any organization, even those with names as noble sounding… as Greenpeace. I’m Patrick Moore for Prager University..

It’s so Cold, there can’t be Global Warming

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold tow opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald Meanwhile we’ve got this updated Fox news global warming alert, it is still cold, in fact it is getting colder, much colder, environmentalists telling me DUHHH “because it’s winter”…IT IS FREEZING! We’ve heard a lot of talk lately from deniers that cold temperatures are proof that there is no such thing as global waming. It looks like it will be an annual event for me to remind people that winter still follows summer. So, before we get started, a little review. It was a cool summer, right? Chicago, New York, places like that, so, how can it be global warming? This is how. Look at the context. These blue dots over North America represent below average temperatures for the summer, June, July, August, what we call climatological summer.

But look at the context, they’re lost in a sea of red dots, across much of the rest of the globe, just a couple other blue dots here and there, those red dots are above average temperatures. What that translates to in terms of a ranking, for this summer and for august, globally, second warmest on record, period of record going back a little more than a century. June through august globally, the third warmest on record, the oceans, which had cooled for a couple years, now recovered with a vengeance, August the warmest on record, June through August, also the warmest on record, and in the southern hemisphere, August was the warmest on record. The warm summer was followed up by a very warm november, globally, including abnormally warm temperatures in north america. Ironically, unseasonal warmth set the stage for dramatic winter weather, when temperatures did drop in december.

Let’s talk about why we’re seeing such a huge and significant lake effect event. The Great Lakes themselves, the water temperature there is still some 3 or 4 degrees warmer than it should normally be this time of year, because of a very mild November. Now again, its very cold air right now, its about 17 degrees, the cold air is coming over these warm lakes, picking up all this moisture, and dumping inch after inch of snow down wind, and, people, waking up on your friday, dealing with perhaps 2 to 4 feet of snow. People love to talk about the weather, and a series of strong storms and cold temperatures in December and early january sparked a lot of discussion. What scientists are telling us is that an important circulation pattern, the arctic oscillation, is in it’s negative phase. Normally, in the positive phase, the arctic oscillation produces strong winds around the arctic that keep cold air bottled up. When the oscillation is in its negative phase, cold air spills out of the arctic, and flows into north america and eurasia. Paradoxically, while temperate zones feel an arctic chill, the arctic itself becomes warmer than usual, exactly the effect that has been observed over the last several weeks.

The UK meteorological office produced this map, and described the observations. “Canada, North Africa, the mediterranean, and south-west Asia have all seen temperatures above normal, in many places by more than 5° C, and in parts of northern Canada, by more than 10° C.” When we look at the graph of the monthly arctic oscillation index, we can see that the current one is the strongest negative since the 1970s, which is why many people were surprised by the blasts of cold air, that are expected under these conditions. One effect was on air circulation over western europe, which normally flows from the west over the atlantic, delivering warmer air. Under the negative arctic oscillation, the warmer winds are blocked, and most of of the air flow is cold arctic winds, leading to snow and cold in many european countries. This diagram from NOAA shows the pattern of warmth in the arctic and unusual cold in mid latitudes around the northern hemisphere.

Dr Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data center, told reuter’s news agency: “It’s very warm over the Arctic, with air temperatures locally at 10 to 15 degrees F (5.6 to 8.4 degrees C) warmer than they should be in certain areas,” This map from NASA also shows the pattern, which was well illustrated in a BBC report with graphics from the UK Met office. This MET office maps show’s today’s temperatures around the northern hemisphere. There’s cold air over us, but warmer air elsewhere. Look further south and east, there’s an unusually warm band of air there. Then, further east, and over China, another very cold pocket. But just as the arctic was unseasonably warm, other areas of the globe also were not feeling the cold. While much of the Northern Hemisphere suffers from one of the hardest winters in years, the thermometer is shooting way up, down under. On Monday, Melbourne was melting with highs soaring to 110 degrees fahrenheit, monday night, Melbourne sweltered through its hottest night since 1902, the temperatures topping 34 degrees Celsius, or 93 degrees fahrenheit.

Most people think of global warming as a process where the planet sets new warming records year after year. A clearer picture comes in a new study from the National Center for Atmospheric research, described here by senior scientist Gerald Meehl. But what we noticed is in the last 10 or 20 years there’s been this ratio of about 2 to 1, for every 2 record high maximum temperatures, there’s only been about one record low minimum temperature set, on average over the US. We looked at a model simulation going off into the future, and in this model simulation we had a scenario where we are increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going off into the twenty first century. And as the climate continued to warm, this ratio continued to grow. In other words, you kept having more and more record high maximum temperatures, fewer and fewer record low minimum temperatures. So by the mid twenty first century, this ratio, which is now about 2 to 1, was about 20 to one, by the end of the century, with this continued warming, this continued change in the distribution of records, the ratio is about 50 to 1.

One of the messages of this study is, you still get cold days. Even at the end of the twenty first century, in the model simulation, when the climate’s warmed up by 3° or 4° Centigrade on average across the US, you’re still setting record low minimum temperatures on a few days every year. So, people always get very alarmed if there’s a cold snap in the winter, and they say, “what’s happened to global warming? We’re freezing out here.” And you say, well, that’s just the weather. In the northeast we’re talking temperatures well above average, Boston heading up to 43, warm in New York at 44, DC, we’re in the 50s, that’s about 10 degrees above average. And no cold in the midwest either, we are well above average here, friday temperatures 20 degrees above average in Bismark, at 39 degrees, we’ll be warm in Kansas City, in Denver will be mild, and in Great Falls, Montana, about 20 degrees above average, the warmth hangs on on saturday, all across the midwest.

When I look out at the world from a limited perspective, my senses tell me that the earth is flat. For thousands of years, most human beings probably believed that this was so. But in a technological, scientific world, our perception is greatly expanded, and we have a much larger view of the world and our place in it. We need to understand the larger perspective about our changing climate as well. Sophisticated instruments and advanced science show us details that our senses could never see, and recent satellite measurements show, that in fact, on january 13th, global temperatures were the warmest for a january day in the satellite record. And this week, NASA released data showing that 2009, was the second hottest year in the instrumental record. We’ll be looking more at this new data in coming weeks and months. The science of global climate is vital for us to understand if we are to pass along to our children a planet that is liveable, diverse, and abundant.

It’s the most important task this generation will undertake, and you can keep track of our progress right here, on climate denial crock of the week..

The Crazy Plan to Capture and Store CO2 Under the Ocean

CO2 is created by every living thing on the planet, but also by burning fossil fuels, which is causing global warming… So, what if we just trapped it all under the ocean? That'd work, right? Howdy oxygenators, Trace here for DNews. Every breath you take, you'll be exhaling CO2. In fact, each exhale contains 100 times more CO2 than was inhaled, totalling about 2 lbs of CO2 per day, per person. Carbon Dioxide is odorless, colorless, highly toxic; and apparently tastes "pungent" and acidic. Because Earth is a relatively closed system, so carbon never leaves. It gets burned and then trapped and then breathed and reused all over the planet again and again. Most of us probably connect CO2 with breathing. While we only release pounds per day, industry releases tons, and if we don't capture it, the CO2 will continue to exacerbate the greenhouse effect.

In 2014 we were projected to release 37 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the air, which is more than the planet can absorb. This is getting serious. So, scientists are working on ways to filter and trap this ubiquitous gas. In the 1930s, researchers figured out if you bubble air through a solution of a derivative of ammonia called amine, the CO2 will be plucked out, "scrubbing" the air clean. We've since developed a bunch of other ways to capture it, but in 2014 MIT developed a super-efficient process using electrochemistry — electricity plus chemistry — it's awesome. The researchers used amines to pick up CO2, just like in the 1930s, but they added a modern twist. When you bubble polluted air through an amine solution those guys naturally want to cling to CO2. They love it. But then, electricity throws copper ions into the mix.

If you're an amine, copper ions are way more enticing than CO2, so they drop the toxic gas like a bad habit and pick up the copper. At that point the lonely CO2 floats out of the system! Yay! Afterward, the copper is pulled away from the amines who have to run through that process again and again. I sort of feel bad for the hard-workin' little guys, you know? But back to the CO2. So now that we've filtered it, then what? Well, because industry faces such strict penalties for releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, they've created Carbon Capture and Storage technologies. Essentially, most companies take the filtered CO2, cool it until the gas becomes a liquid, and then transport it somewhere for storage. There are two major ways to do this, one is straightforward, and one just seems crazy. The straightforward one is called geologic carbon sequestration. In the States, the US Geological Survey has identified 36 regions around the country where the CO2 could be injected into porous areas of rock between 3,000 and 15,000 feet underground (914-4600M).

And hopefully, there it will stay. The second CRAZY one, is similar, but it's oceanic carbon sequestration. In liquid form, CO2 is denser than water. So theoretically, if we just, pumped it under the ocean, the water above it would hold it down there like a weighted blanket. A 2013 study in Geophysical Research Letters looked at the viability of pumping liquid CO2 to the bottom of the ocean, and determined it would form a lake of liquid carbon dioxide. Yep. A lake. The high-pressure, cold world of the deep sea would hold it in stasis for perhaps 1,000 years. I know what you're thinking, and yes, both of the ideas have their dangers. For example in geologic sequestration the pressure of the rock above should keep the CO2 liquid and it should stay there. Should. But if the CO2 finds its way out of the rock… global disaster. In the undersea example, the implications are also dangerous. CO2 is toxic, remember, so it could drastically increase ocean acidity, and deep sea life might not survive. Plus, if it DID leak out… global catastrophe again. Look, there's no real, permanent solution to CO2 problems except maybe venting it into space somehow… or simply stopping the release of so much carbon.

Pollution doesn't just hurt the planet, it can also hurt YOU. Check out how in this video! And if you're down to listen to my weird voice, come subscribe to my podcast! On each episode we take 45 minutes to dig into a topic all the way to the brass tacks. Here's a taste Every time we talk about this stuff, I just want to never use fossil fuels again. What about you? Ever feel guilty about your carbon footprint? Tell me about it….

NASA’s Earth Minute: Gas Problem

The Earth’s atmosphere is a mixture of gasses. Some are known as greenhouse gases. That’s because they trap heat from the sun and warm the Earth. That’s good, because without greenhouse gases, our planet would freeze and life as most of us know it would be impossible. These greenhouse gases – mainly water vapor and carbon dioxide naturally cycle between the land and atmosphere and ocean. And over the ages, these greenhouse gases have reached a delicate balance that results in temperatures that we like. A lot. It’s been that way for thousands of years. Until the last 150 years. That’s when people began burning fossil fuels. Those fossil fuels – coal, oil, natural gas – contain carbon that’s been locked away from the natural cycle for eons. But when we burn them, that carbon joins with oxygen to make carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere. It throws the natural balance out of whack. The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the more heat that is trapped.

And the warmer it gets. And the warmer it gets, the more the climate changes. And the higher the ocean will rise. The more we learn about carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the better we can deal with the changes caused by global warming. Because good planets are hard to find!.

How Global Warming Works in Under 5 Minutes

You may have heard of global climate change, which is often called "global warming." Whether or not people accept that humans are causing global warming, most folks have an opinion about it. But how much do regular people understand the science of climate change? If you were asked to explain how global warming works, could you? Take a moment to try to explain to yourself how virtually all climate scientists think the Earth is warming. What is the physical or chemical mechanism? Don't feel bad; if you're anything like the people we've surveyed in our studies, you probably struggled to come up with an explanation. In fact, in one study we asked almost 300 adults in the U.S.– and not a single person could accurately explain the mechanism a global warming at a pretty basic level. This is consistent with larger surveys that have shown that people often lack knowledge about climate change.

But how can we make informed decisions without understanding the issues we're debating? Allow us to give you a short explanation of how global warming works: First, here is how Earth's temperature works without considering how humans influence it. The Earth absorbs light from the Sun, which is mostly visible light. To release that light-energy, Earth also emits light. But, because the Earth is cooler than the sun, it emits lower-energy infrared light. So, Earth's surface essentially transforms most to the visible light it gets from the sun into infrared light. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as methane and carbon dioxide, let visible light passed through, but absorb infrared light–causing the atmosphere to retain heat. This energy can be absorbed and emitted by the atmosphere many times before it eventually returns to outer space. The added time this energy hangs around has helped keep earth warm enough to support life as we know it.

Without this greenhouse effect–caused by these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere– the Earth's average surface temperature would be about 50 degrees Fahrenheit cooler, which is well below the freezing point for ice! So, how have humans change things? Since the dawn of the industrial age, around the year 1750, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by 40%– and methane has almost tripled. These increases cause extra infrared light absorption, meaning an extra greenhouse effect, which has caused Earth to heat above its typical temperature range. In other words, energy that gets to Earth has an even harder time leaving it, causing Earth's average temperature to increase– thus producing global climate change. In case you're wondering about what makes greenhouse gases special, here are two sentences of slightly technical information: Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide absorb infrared light because their molecules can vibrate to produce asymmetric distributions of electric charge, which match the energy levels of various infrared wavelengths.

In contrast, non-greenhouse gases such as oxygen–that is, 02–don't absorb infrared light, because they have symmetric charge distributions even while vibrating. To wrap, up we'll quickly summarize the mechanism global climate change: Earth transforms sunlight's visible energy into infrared light, and infrared energy leaves Earth slowly because it's absorbed by greenhouse gases. As people produce more greenhouse gases, energy leaves Earth even more slowly– raising Earth's temperature even more than it has already gone up. That's how global warming happens! This wasn't so hard to understand, right? In these few minutes you've hopefully become one of the few people who understand the mechanism of global climate change. Please share this video with others so you can help them understand how global warming works, too.

Thanks for listening!.