Climate change to cause more damage to Canada’s northern roads than previously feared

Climate change to cause more damage to Canada’s northern roads than previously feared

SOURCE: Global News DATE: January 17, 2019 SNIP: The impact of climate change on roads and other crucial structures in Canada’s North is likely to be even greater than feared, says new detailed research. Scientists have long warned that Canada’s northwest corner is warming more quickly than almost any other spot on the globe. Using modelling techniques so detailed they take a supercomputer to process, Pomeroy and his colleagues say they’ve looked more closely than any other researchers into how temperatures are likely to play out over the next century. They concluded that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current level, temperatures in the area around Inuvik, N.W.T. will go up by six degrees on top of the three degrees they’ve already risen. They say roads in winter will be vulnerable to a phenomenon in which melted groundwater seeps to the surface, then refreezes into a thick layer of ice. Permafrost holding up buildings and roads will melt and retreat by another 25...
A $3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise

A $3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise

SOURCE: Miami Herald DATE: January 10, 2019 SNIP: Miami-Dade has tens of thousands of septic tanks, and a new report reveals most are already malfunctioning — the smelly and unhealthy evidence of which often ends up in people’s yards and homes. It’s a billion-dollar problem that climate change is making worse. As sea level rise encroaches on South Florida, the Miami-Dade County study shows that thousands more residents may be at risk — and soon. By 2040, 64 percent of county septic tanks (more than 67,000) could have issues every year, affecting not only the people who rely on them for sewage treatment, but the region’s water supply and the health of anyone who wades through floodwaters. “That’s a huge deal for a developed country in 2019 to have half of the septic tanks not functioning for part of the year,” said Miami Waterkeeper Executive Director Rachel Silverstein. “That is not acceptable.” Septic tanks require a layer of dirt underneath to do the final filtration work and return the liquid waste back to the aquifer. Older rules required one foot of soil, but newer regulations call for double that. In South Florida, there’s not that much dirt between the homes above ground and the water below. Sea level rise is pushing the groundwater even higher, eating up precious space and leaving the once dry dirt soggy. Waste water doesn’t filter like it’s supposed to in soggy soil. In some cases, it comes back out, turning a front yard into a poopy swamp. High tides or heavy rains can push feces-filled water elsewhere, including King Tide floodwaters — as pointed...
Despite shutdown, Trump administration continues work to begin oil drilling in ANWR

Despite shutdown, Trump administration continues work to begin oil drilling in ANWR

SOURCE: Alaska Public Media DATE: January 4, 2019 SNIP: As the partial government shutdown drags on, the Trump administration is making sure some Interior Department employees continue work on one of its biggest, most controversial priorities: opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Drilling opponents were quick to criticize the move, contrasting it with the overflowing trash cans and unattended public toilets in national parks managed by Interior, which have become a symbol of the continuing stalemate in Washington, D.C. The partial shutdown also isn’t stopping Trump’s Interior Department from pressing ahead with potentially allowing more oil development in another vast, federally managed area in the Arctic, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or NPR-A. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed it is going forward with previously scheduled public meetings on overhauling the NPR-A management plan in the North Slope communities of Utqiagvik on Fri., Jan. 4 and Nuiqsut on Sat., Jan. 5, despite many other Interior Department activities remaining...
Gas flaring lights up Texas skies amid US oil boom

Gas flaring lights up Texas skies amid US oil boom

SOURCE: Financial Times DATE: January 4, 2019 SNIP: The powerful telescopes of Texas’s McDonald Observatory aim at some of the darkest night skies on the planet. But a dome of light is creeping closer on the northern horizon. The glow emanates from the booming oilfields of the Permian Basin, lit up by flares of burning natural gas. So much gas has bubbled up from the oil wells in the area that it has overwhelmed pipelines needed to take it to market. Rather than wait for new gas pipelines to arrive, bottling up lucrative oil production in the process, energy companies are incinerating the methane. Flaring means the gas will never be used by consumers. It is also forgone revenue for energy producers and tax authorities. The pollution emitted is significant, even if carbon dioxide released in flaring traps far less heat in the atmosphere than methane gas. The US government estimates the basin’s oil production has risen by nearly 1m barrels per day in the past year to 3.8m b/d, as the US has regained its position as the world’s largest crude producer. The amount of gas flared in the Permian, meanwhile, averaged 209m cubic feet per day in 2017, according to data compiled by Rystad Energy, a research company. In the third quarter of 2018 it hit a record 407m cu ft/d — roughly the consumption of the state of Nebraska. By the second quarter of 2019 it will surpass 600m cu ft/d, the consultancy estimates. Read the whole story at the Financial...
How China’s Big Overseas Initiative Threatens Global Climate Progress

How China’s Big Overseas Initiative Threatens Global Climate Progress

SOURCE: e360 DATE: January 3, 2019 SNIP: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, has been described as the most ambitious infrastructure project in history. It is a plan to finance and build roads, railways, bridges, ports, and industrial parks abroad, beginning with China’s neighbors in Central, South, and Southeast Asia and eventually reaching Western Europe and across the Pacific to Latin America. The more than 70 countries that have formally signed up to participate account for two-thirds of the world’s population, 30 percent of global GDP, and an estimated 75 percent of known energy reserves. Just building the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will absorb massive amounts of concrete, steel, and chemicals, creating new power stations, mines, roads, railways, airports, and container ports, many in countries with poor environmental oversight. But more worrying still is the vision of industrial development to follow, and the energy that is planned to fuel it. While China has imposed a cap on coal consumption at home, its coal and energy companies are on a building spree overseas. Chinese companies are involved in at least 240 coal projects in 25 of the Belt and Road countries, including in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Serbia, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. China is also financing about half of proposed new coal capacity in Egypt, Tanzania, and Zambia. The Belt and Road Initiative threatens to lock China’s partners into the same high-emission development that China is now trying to exit. So far, the majority of BRI projects are energy-related: Since 2000, Chinese-led policy banks have invested...