The Rains of Antarctica are Coming — Warm Summer Storms Melted Texas-Sized Section of Ross Ice Shelf Surface During 2016

“In West Antarctica, we have a tug-of-war going on between the influence of El Niños and the westerly winds, and it looks like the El Niños are winning. It’s a pattern that is emerging. And because we expect stronger, more frequent El Niños in the future with a warming climate, we can expect more major surface melt events in West Antarctica (emphasis added).” — David Bromwhich, co-author of a recent study identifying massive summer surface melt in West Antarctica during 2016.

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If you’re concerned about human-caused global warming, then you should also be concerned about ice. In particular — how warming might melt a miles-high pile of the frozen stuff covering the massive continent of Antarctica.

During recent years, scientists have become more and more worried as they’ve observed warming oceans eating away at the undersides of floating ice sheets. This particular process threatens numerous cities and coastal regions with swiftening sea level rise as ice margins melt and glaciers the size of mountain ranges clamor for release into the world’s oceans.

Major Antarctic Surface Melt Event During 2016

But another potential process in a still warmer world threatens to compound the impact of the heating waters that are already melting so many of the world’s glaciers from the bottom up — large scale surface melt.

(A major warming event during January of 2016 turned a Texas-sized section of Antarctica’s surface into slush. This occurred as a storm running in from the Southern Ocean delivered warm air and rainfall to sections of West Antarctica. Scientists are concerned that more major surface melt is on the way for Antarctica as the Earth’s climate heats up and that repeated warming and rainfall events in this typically-frozen region may further quicken rates of sea level rise. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

During January of 2016, as a very strong El Nino was combining with human-caused global warming to spike atmospheric temperatures to 1.2 C above 1880s levels, something pretty strange and concerning happened. Over the course of about 15 days, a 300,000 square mile section of the Ross Ice Shelf surface and nearby lands over West Antarctica experienced melting. This mass slushing across Antarctica’s surface occurred as a warm storm swept in from the Southern Ocean (see image above) to deliver an unheard of rainfall event to the region.

West Antarctica is typically too cold for such weather. It is also often too dry. The region is well know by climate researchers as a frozen desert. But as human-forced climate change has warmed the nearby ocean, warm, moist winds blowing in from these heating waters have become more frequent.

Westerlies Interrupted by Warming Ocean

Antarctica is typically protected by strong westerly winds that keep both heat and moisture out. But a warming ocean environment, according to Ohio State researchers, is enabling El Nino to interrupt these westerlies and hurl increasing volumes of heat and moisture over the glaciers of Antarctica. In 2016, countervailing winds pushing against the typically prevailing westerlies bore with them an odd rainstorm that set off a massive surface melt event.

(Surface melt over a large section of West Antarctica lasted for as much as 15 days as heat and moisture from the surrounding ocean beat back a protective barrier of westerly winds and invaded the frozen continent. According to scientists, these events are likely to become more frequent and long-lasting as the climate warms. Image source: Ohio State University.)

When combined with already-active melt from ocean warming, surface melt could further serve to destabilize ice sheets and swiften sea level rise. This was exactly the concern that David Bromwich, an Antarctic researcher at Ohio State and co-author of the paper that identified this strange event highlighted in this statement (please see related Washington Post article here):

“It provides us with a possible glimpse of the future. You probably have read these analyses of West Antarctica, many people think it’s slowly disintegrating right now, and it’s mostly thought to be from the warm water eating away at the bottom of critical ice shelves. Well, that’s today. In the future, we could see action at the surface of these ice shelves as well from surface melting. So that makes them potentially much more unstable (emphasis added).”

It’s worth noting that this particular storm, though unusual and noteworthy, did not produce too much in the way of surface melt ponding. Instead, the storm turned a large section of the Antarctic surface to a slurpee-like slush. But this event did deliver a considerable amount of heat to the Ross Ice Shelf region. And repeated instances could serve to seriously soften this massive ice formation.

Eventually, as warming worsens, significant surface melt and flooding could help to shatter large buttressing ice shelves like Ross or even generate risks of surface glacial outburst flooding in instances where permanent surface melt lakes form behind an ice dam. But the primary concern at this time is that these warm rain events provide a compounding melt influence that adds to risks for more rapid sea level rise this Century.

Links:

Widespread Snowmelt in Antarctica During Unusually Warm Summer

Scientists Stunned by Antarctic Rainfall and Melt Area Bigger Than Texas

Scientists Report Large Scale Surface Melting Event in Antarctica During 2015-2016 El Nino

The Ross Ice Shelf

Earth Nullschool

Hat tip to TodaysGuestIs

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48 Comments

  1. wili

     /  June 15, 2017

    I just saw ASLR’s posting on this over at ASIF. Really stunning. Fast work getting a post up about it already! Nice work!

    Reply
  2. climatehawk1

     /  June 15, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  3. Sheri

     /  June 15, 2017

    june high heat is about to showup in phoenix in the next 10days or so. We usually get a heat wave like this durig this month but the predicted temps seem a little bit high to me. Starting Friday it’s 110 up close to 119 or 120 through Wenesday evening and itcomes down some after thatfor a week. Try http://www.accuweather.com under Phoenix, Arizona forthe10 extended frecast.

    We had a hot stretch last June at the beginning of the month only I think then a huge high was all over southernCalifornia and other states surrounding Arizona. Our record hgh is 122 from end ofJune 1990. I had just moved back here fromthe east coast. It was just very hot and you have to use some ense when it is that hot.

    Best to scribblers and chief Scribbler, Sheri

    Reply
    • Thanks for the update, Sheri. The forecast is calling for a strong high to reassert off the U.S. west coast — which tends to enforce heating and drying. To this point, the last 90 days have been pretty dry in general in the SW. The massive dose of moisture is starting to get wrung out as minor drought conditions begin to creep in along the Mexico-U.S. border.

      Reply
  4. wili

     /  June 15, 2017

    Long range forecasts show a 971 hpa cyclone forming in 8 to 9 days! A more certain 978 cyclone should hit in 4 days or so. Either of these by themselves could do a lot of damage to the weak ice that’s up there now and possibly help transport a lot of ice out through the Fram.

    If _both_ appear as predicted…

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Wili.

      Was eyeballing the various models this morning and found CMC at 969 mb in the 8 day. Lots of energy getting injected into the Laptev/Kara region. Some association with a stormy N. Atlantic. But most coming from a very strong temperature dipole with N. Siberia. The 970 to 978 mb in 72 to 96 hours is more certain. Surface wind predictions in the 40-50 mph range are pretty likely to dig a bite out of the ice in that region. Beaufort high is weak and may peter out as we get storms in the central Arctic in the 8-10 day models. Central Arctic storms in June tend to have less effect than big storms in late July through August. But with ice so thin, who knows?

      Overall export remains strong. Extent holding at third lowest on record for now. PIOMAS inching closer to baseline in May. As has been true for the past decade — everything Arctic remains interesting…

      Reply
      • wili

         /  June 15, 2017

        “969 mb” Yikes!

        “Central Arctic storms in June tend to have less effect than big storms in late July through August. But with ice so thin, who knows?” Just what I was thinking.

        “…everything Arctic remains interesting… ” Indeed!

        Reply
        • Most models now showing a storm that ranges in the 980s in the shorter term but dips down into the 970s in the longer term. CMC is the outlier showing a 963 mb storm in the 186 hour timeframe. That would be pretty devastating, I think, but it’s just one model and it’s a very long range forecast.

          It seems the overall trend points toward a weak Beaufort high opposed by some pretty strong lows running through the Siberian side. This is pretty bad for June. Temperatures near average are relatively helpful. But thin ice states compound the problem.

        • wili

           /  June 16, 2017

          Thanks again. This is an update cribbed from BFTV at ASIF (where I get nearly all of my info on such things…well, there and here 🙂 ) :

          “BOTH GFS and ECMWF 12z op runs depicts a possible bomb cyclone by D8 ranging from 961 hpa (GFS) to 971 hpa (ECMWF).”

          Still pretty far out, but interesting that both models now basically agree on such an extreme cyclone appearing in about a week.

        • GFS reloading at this time. I do see the ECMSF at 971 D8. CMC has backed off with multiple 980 mb storms coming in over the ESAS. Will check back as I always do 😉

  5. Greg

     /  June 15, 2017

    Not sure this was cited in previous gigafactory article discussion re:Mars and Musk’s thoughts re:extinction event, and that’s it for humanity, versus us becoming an interplanetary species. I found out today that a co-worker of mine signed up as a volunteer to go to Mars. Quite the discussion about it with her. She loves this planet but wants to finish her life there.
    http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/space.2017.29009.emu

    “Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species

    This paper is a summary of Elon Musk’s presentation at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, September 26–30, 2016.”

    Reply
    • wili

       /  June 15, 2017

      “…finish her life there…” Well, that’s one way to go.

      Reply
      • Sheri

         /  June 15, 2017

        How old is she??

        Reply
        • Greg

           /  June 16, 2017

          About 30. Figures 30 years from now. Would never have guessed and she is not an outlier otherwise, a bit introverted and a very smart analyst.

      • So what I find inspiring is that the same groups that, today, are generally supporting space travel are also those supporting taking better care of our Earth. There’s a new kind of bridge between progressive sentiment and environmental sentiment that’s coming about as we move forward along the path toward energy transition. Overall, I find this to be a very positive development.

        Reply
    • T-rev

       /  June 16, 2017

      Interestingly I was listening to a podcast today from BBC Radio today, about Humbolt, from 200 years ago, one of the things he admonishes was that if we were to ever gain interplanetary travel, that would be a sad day because we’d take our destruction and desecration with us.

      >Alexander Von Humboldt – the forgotten father of environmentalism – warned of harmful human induced climate change over 200 years ago.

      Reply
      • We can address Humbolt by learning to care for our world and its creatures. To recognize that this is not only a moral decision, but one that improves the prospects of all humanity. In doing so, we could be assured in the fact that when we go to the stars, we will have done so after gaining a good measure of wisdom and compassion.

        Reply
    • “For those about to rock, we salute you.”

      More power to her. She’s obviously very brave and intrepid. Humankind could use more like her.

      Reply
  6. Wildfires pollute much more than previously thought. Data from flights through plumes reveal three times the fine particle levels than officially inventoried. June 14, 2017
    Georgia Institute of Technology https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170614112819.htm

    Summary:
    Wildfires are major polluters. Their plumes are three times as dense with aerosol-forming fine particles as previously believed. For the first time, researchers have flown an orchestra of modern instruments through brutishly turbulent wildfire plumes to measure their emissions in real time. They have also exposed other never before measured toxins.

    So-called prescribed burnings prevent or reduce wildfires, and they appear to produce far less pollution per unit area than wildfires, the study said. “A prescribed fire might burn five tons of biomass fuel per acre, whereas a wildfire might burn 30,” said Yokelson,

    Reply
  7. Abel Adamski

     /  June 16, 2017

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/15/marine-expert-warns-of-climate-emergency-as-fish-abandon-tropical-waters

    As climate change pushes marine species towards cooler waters, and the fishing industry expands around the globe, the tropics are emptying out, a leading fisheries expert has warned.

    The federal government is expected to release its new management plan for marine reserves in coming weeks, after a 2016 review recommended winding back protections. However Dr Daniel Pauly has called for the creation of more, saying they are the only realistic form of mitigation to the current crisis.
    Pauly, principal investigator at the Sea Around Us research organisation, said it was unknown whether the “explosion” of fishing industries or global warming was having the biggest impact on fish stocks, but both needed to be addressed.

    “The depth, the distance from the coast, all of these were factors which protected fish. Now we go everywhere … now nothing protects the fish,” he said during an observation tour of Darwin’s tropical harbour.

    “Climate change is something that is already being perceived by fish. It’s already happening and they’re already moving,” he said.

    Warmer waters were pushing marine species away from the equator at a rate of about 50km per decade as they followed the ideal temperatures for feeding and spawning.
    “In temperate areas you will have the fish coming from a warmer area, and another one leaving. You’ll have a lot of transformation but they will actually – at least in terms of fishery – adapt. In the tropics you don’t have the replacement, you have only fish leaving.”

    Reply
    • It’s a bad situation. One where the fish face stress even as the industry grasps to maintain output. It’s the kind of combination that can really take down populations of key species in rather short order.

      Reply
  8. Abel Adamski

     /  June 16, 2017

    Cats and Pigeons

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/15/lobbyist-russian-interests-jeff-sessions-testimony

    An American lobbyist for Russian interests who helped craft an important foreign policy speech for Donald Trump has confirmed that he attended two dinners hosted by Jeff Sessions during the 2016 campaign, apparently contradicting the attorney general’s sworn testimony given this week.

    Sessions testified under oath on Tuesday that he did not believe he had any contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests over the course of Trump’s campaign. But Richard Burt, a former ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration, who has represented Russian interests in Washington, told the Guardian that he could confirm previous media reports that stated he had contacts with Sessions at the time.

    “I did attend two dinners with groups of former Republican foreign policy officials and Senator Sessions,” Burt said.

    Asked whether Sessions was unfamiliar with Burt’s role as a lobbyist for Russian interests – a fact that is disclosed in public records – or had any reason to be confused about the issue, Burt told the Guardian that he did not know.

    Several media reports published before Trump’s election in November noted that Burt advised then candidate Trump on his first major foreign policy speech, a role that brought him into contact with Sessions personally.

    Burt, who previously served on the advisory board of Alfa Capital Partners, a private equity fund where Russia’s Alfa Bank was an investor and last year was lobbying on behalf of a pipeline company that is now controlled by Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy conglomerate, first told Politico in October that he had been invited to two dinners that were hosted by Sessions last summer, at the height of the presidential campaign.

    Sessions, a former senator for Alabama who was chairman of the Trump campaign’s national security committee, reportedly invited Burt so that he could discuss issues of national security and foreign policy.

    When John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona who is a frequent critic of Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, asked Sessions in a hearing this week before the Senate intelligence committee about whether the attorney general had ever had “any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company” during the 2016 campaign, Sessions said he did not.

    Reply
    • At what point does all this lying under oath by Sessions also become obstruction of justice? There’s just so much of this in the Trump admin, it’s pretty unprecedented. A real travesty of justice.

      From an unrelated Slate Article:

      “What about obstruction of justice? You’re guilty of obstruction if you do anything that hampers an ongoing case—destroying documents, intimidating witnesses, or lying under oath, for example. (Some courts have ruled that lying under oath is not sufficient for conviction on its own, though.) As with the other charges, prosecutors must show that an act of obstruction has significant bearing on the proceeding. According to the Supreme Court, it must have the “natural and probable effect” of interfering with the case.”

      LInk: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/recycled/2007/03/how_many_ways_can_you_say_lie.html

      Reply
  9. Abel Adamski

     /  June 16, 2017

    Lemmings rule

    https://theconversation.com/volcanoes-under-the-ice-melting-antarctic-ice-could-fight-climate-change-79353

    Volcanoes under the ice: melting Antarctic ice could fight climate change
    June 16, 2017 6.06am AEST

    Iron is not commonly famous for its role as a micronutrient for tiny organisms dwelling in the cold waters of polar oceans. But iron feeds plankton, which in turn hold carbon dioxide in their bodies. When they die, the creatures sink to the bottom of the sea, safely storing that carbon.

    How exactly the iron gets to the Southern Ocean is hotly debated, but we do know that during the last ice age huge amounts of carbon were stored at the bottom of the Southern Ocean. Understanding how carbon comes to be stored in the depth of the oceans could help abate CO2 in the atmosphere, and Antarctica has a powerful role.

    Reply
    • It might sink a bit more carbon into the world’s oceans even as their uptake ability is harmed by warming and stratification. But iron seeding also generates the big algae blooms that result in expanding ocean anoxia. I wouldn’t view more iron flushing into oceans as a positive overall development. It’s feedstock for all the most dangerous ancient organisms including those that produce hydrogen sulfide gas. Iron seeding of the oceans will, in other words, draw down some atmospheric carbon while speeding ocean health decline and acidification. But the net effect of warming and ocean stratification is that oceans are warmer, mix less, and generally take in less carbon. I doubt iron seeding will overcome this trend overall. Meanwhile the cost is pretty high in the form of speeding ocean anoxia.

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  June 17, 2017

        I will plead guilty to putting my 2c worth into the conversation, talking directly to one of the researchers

        Reply
  10. Abel Adamski

     /  June 16, 2017

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/global-warming-kitchener-meteorologist-climate-change-1.4160469

    Q&A: Retired scientist warned of global warming in 1960s
    ‘I was letting them know, this is happening, get ready’

    So now at 89, you’ve thought about this for more than half your life. What do you think of when you hear people are still skeptical about climate change?

    What I think is these people are simply denying and refusing, for some political reason or another, or they’re just covering up. Or for some reason or another they don’t want to hear about that.

    How does it make you feel for the future?

    I am optimistic that the world has finally come around to the realization that this is real, it’s happening before our eyes and we’ve got to deal with it. I am also optimistic that we have gone through a couple of generations of naysayers and our children are being taught the climatic or the environmental issues in schools and the science is being explained to them. They are coming up now and demanding that governments act, so I am very optimistic that we are serious about it now.

    Reply
  11. Abel Adamski

     /  June 16, 2017

    Shell Exxon and Barclays
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/16/gas-grab-and-global-warming-could-wipe-out-wadden-sea-heritage-site

    Note in the text
    Campaigners say some local house prices have fallen by as much as €50,000 (£44,000) each in the last five years due to fears of subsidence and the drilling-related earthquakes that have damaged an estimated 100,000 homes in neighbouring Groningen province.

    Michiel Schrier, the Socialist governor of Friesland’s provincial capital Leeuwarden, says: “After the earthquakes in Groningen, people woke up and now every time a contractor wants to take gas from the ground, the communities are revolting and coming together in protest. These movements are getting bigger.”

    Gas has been drilled on Ameland island off the Wadden Sea coast since 2006, and Schrier has himself taken part in many of the anti-drill demonstrations.

    NAM argues that it can contain subsidence by keeping “a hand on the tap” – to turn their operations off if geological monitoring shows cavities appearing which might not be filled by sedimentation.

    But the geological processes at work can take years to become apparent, and NAM’s technical blueprint was dismissed by the government’s mines supervisory board last week for a second time. NAM now has until November to address their report’s shortcomings, after which it could face fines of €500,000 a week.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the excellent links, Abel.

      It’s good to see that the global movement against drilling and mining for fossil fuels is growing. It’s tough to imagine that such a thing wouldn’t happen given all the negative environmental and economic impacts inflicted on residents in these sacrifice zones.

      Reply
  12. Here’s an interesting article on 538.com comparing plant hardiness climate zone maps from USDA & NOAA.

    But then we noticed something weird. The USDA website specifically asks people not to use the maps to document climate change. Meanwhile,it looked as if other parts of the federal government were doing exactly that in reports such as the National Climate Assessment.

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/two-government-agencies-two-different-climate-maps/

    Reply
    • Well, as part of the resistance, I’m completely going to ignore this request and continue to responsibly use government maps to document and warn people about climate change. It’s public information for public use and we’re identifying a threat to public safety by conducting this research. In other words, it’s the people’s imperative to know and the Trump administration can go suck an egg if they think otherwise.

      Reply
  13. Music Break//Mother Please Forgive US ..I heard on Democracynow.org this am..https://sonichits.com/video/Wendy_Colonna/Mother_Forgive_Us

    Reply
  14. John McCormick

     /  June 16, 2017

    Robert, you should talk about how you might respond to Roger, in New Orleans comment on previous thread about Elon Musk and gigafacatories.

    He posted:
    Robert in New Orleans / June 12, 2017
    “Robert you really need to interview Mr. Musk in person. I would like to know his thoughts about global warming and how it relates to Tesla/Solar City and SpaceX. A good question to ask him is would Tesla consider selling its power trains to other automotive manufacturers. Another question to ask is his urgent ambition to colonize Mars emblematic of a dystopian future Earth ravaged by climate change.”

    Robert, I’ve had 40 years of lobbying Congress and State Houses for national environmental organizations. That experience convinces me there is no clear role for our federal and State governments to protect my grandchildren’s future from the certain impacts of global warming.

    The capitalist, private sector, investor, corporate world and small business owners are the only front line with the capability to expand clean energy deployment. Governments are not a source of investment dollars.

    Technology and market price for non-fossil energy sources are going in our direction. What is needed are clean energy projects funded by private investment (public investment will remain marginal when State Treasuries have been damaged by the Trump budget). Clean energy R & D and project deployment are — and will remain — in the hands of the private sector.

    So, it is time progressives put down our blanket indictment of capitalism and look to how our wealth can be invested in our childrens’ future safety.

    Robert, your blog can invite spokespersons from Vestas and wind developers, Tesla, solar industry and others to make their case for our investing in stock shares as an immediate response to the climate chaos governments are powerless to provide. It will take some serious programming to make their comments global and viral but that can be designed by communications experts.

    Share your thoughts with us and suggest our advice.

    I do hope ColoradoBob knows he is missed and in our thoughts.

    Reply
    • I think everyone from industry to government to NGOs to faith institutions to individuals has a role to play. If you’re only seeing things from this single frame of reference, then you’re leaving a whole heck of a lot out of the equation.

      That said, you make a number of very, very helpful suggestions that I’m taking very seriously. In particular:

      “Robert, your blog can invite spokespersons from Vestas and wind developers, Tesla, solar industry and others to make their case for our investing in stock shares as an immediate response to the climate chaos governments are powerless to provide. It will take some serious programming to make their comments global and viral but that can be designed by communications experts.”

      So my heartfelt thanks for your insight in this regard.

      Moreover, I certainly agree that leaders like Musk and others in the industry are extraordinarily helpful and I will endeavor to introduce a number of questions and memes that, I think, have been left out of the conversation thus far, while also expanding the scope of this blog to include the kind of outreach you and others have suggested.

      We should note that there was an extensive response to Robert’s post and that it set off a number of additional conversations as well. I take this level of interest, especially in the present context of global energy transition, very seriously.

      In any case, we all miss Bob. He did apologize for lashing out at Katherine Hayhoe, which I view as a positive sign. However, for the health of this forum, I have him under moderation for the time being (which means I’ll be reviewing his posts). It’s obvious he is undergoing personal and emotional difficulty. And while I can certainly empathize with my friend’s anguish, we need everyone here to keep a level head while posting to this forum. To that point, I would far rather have quality than quantity here. And I’m very happy with the present tone of the broader conversation.

      Reply
      • John McCormick

         /  June 16, 2017

        Robert, thanks for your comment.

        I do not mean to leave any sector out of protecting my grand childrens’ future. I was, and am, focused on faster deployment of 9.7 MW and eventually 15 and 20 MW wind towers and all the mass-scale and residential renewable and efficiency deployments around the world. That requires many hundreds of billions of dollars that can actually do something the mitigate our childrens’ crisis.

        Reply
        • If you can get industry to invest in that, fantastic. More power to you. If we can get China to invest 360 billion dollars more, then even better. If we can get the world to ratify increasingly powerful climate treaties, then even better. If we can get all faiths to add environmental justice to social justice campaigns, even better. If we can get all the enviro orgs on board for divestment from fossil fuels and investment in clean energy while actively working to block new coal, gas, and oil projects even better. If we can get home owners to purchase solar roofs, even better.

          It’s all additive John and the more of these things we get on line, the better. In any case, we should all consider ourselves to be on the same team — progressives, capitalists concerned about climate, communists concerned about climate in China and everyone else in between.

        • Mblanc

           /  June 16, 2017

          No clear role for government… in (arguably) the greatest market failure in human history!

          To my mind, that is an extreme view.

        • Abel Adamski

           /  June 17, 2017

          Actually I will beg to differ re Government role, we would not even be where we are now without the actions of the hamstrung Obama administration, the Chinese Government, even the Australian Labor Rudd and Gillard governments had a major influence which provided the groundwork and framework plus so many other actively involved governments around the world.
          People either forget or are not aware just how much Government actions have contributed to the advances in the world

          Slightly OT but gives the basic gist of the benefit of Govt funding in science and research

          http://www.computerworld.com/article/2511354/vertical-it/q-a—ipad-deconstructed–forum-makes-case-for-federal-research.html

  15. John McCormick

     /  June 16, 2017

    Robert, your first paragraph is a view of the global landscape on renewable energy and efficiency. I am trying to get to focusing on the weeds.

    Clean Energy deployment companies carry huge operating costs such as worker comp and delayed permitting decisions. That is the crux of the conversations these vital companies can have with us. They can give us business plans in which we can invest.

    As we progress to zero emissions economies, someone will have to pay and that will not be a tax payer. Federal and State budgets are not a source of those investment dollars.

    You can get a great deal of backup and support from CERES. This is the field on which it plays.

    Reply
    • We have tens of billions of dollars of public funds (ie taxpayer money) going into renewables every year globally. This public subsidy is now about 1/2 to 1/3 taxpayer and public resource support going to fossil fuels. A big part of the conflict between renewables and fossil fuels is the fight over those public dollars. And shifting all subsidies away from fossil fuels to renewables would be a huge help.

      China alone just dedicated 360 billion dollars of public funds to renewable energy support. And though this is probably not all taxpayer money, a good chunk of it is.

      This is just one example of many…

      The Sun Shot initiative under the Obama Administration directed public funds (taxpayer money) to research dollars that had an outsized effect on the cost of solar energy going forward.

      I could just go on and on and on. But the basic truth of the matter is that government spends taxpayer dollars on energy development and this is true in nations and states the world over.

      You give the impression that this doesn’t impact CAPEX or the ability of firms to invest and grow. But I think it’s pretty crucial. I understand your bent may be on developing private investment — as in the stock market — and that’s a good strategy. In fact, the thrust to invest in renewables and divest from fossil fuels on the world market is a key pillar of the mission of this blog. And this would absolutely impact the relative CAPEX strength of the renewables industry. But please also accept that this is not the sole focus, nor is it ideologically based in capitalist thinking. It is systemic in that it recognizes the various centers of gravity in science, economics, politics, media, charity and public relations that need to be hit in order to achieve a clean energy transition overall.

      If you are working to promote a single renewable energy project in this vein, then you certainly have my sympathy and support. But you need to understand that at this level what we are doing is generating information, ideas, and memes that then pass into the broader global dialect. We must be visionary. And if we limit our focus, we become far less effective here.

      To this point, it seems to me that you’re asking me to do something for you in particular. If you’re looking for a public relations campaign to drum up investment in clean energy stocks, then trying to assert your vision as that for this blog just isn’t really appropriate. And, in any case, why make it a private vs public investment messaging focus? That strikes me as way too generally limited and ideologically based. Why not generate an inclusive message and not an exclusive one? That’s more generally appealing to the public anyway…

      If you are looking for me to solely focus on developing interest for clean energy investment in the world’s markets, then I think you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree. This blog is a broader, general interest blog. A pure business focus would not be appropriate. Nor would it play to my strengths. That said, we can certainly include more clean industry related content.

      Reply
  16. Choosing a plant-based lifestyle instead of supporting animal agriculture as destructive and wasteful as it is, may help to turn the tide. If enough of us come together, maybe it will yield the results we need desperately.

    Reply

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