Whitefish Puerto Rico Contract Cancelled, Now How About Letting Renewable Industry Leaders Step in?

At this blog I often cover how climate change is worsening the global weather situation. How fossil fuel burning is the primary cause of climate change. How renewable energy adoption is the primary means for removing global carbon emissions. And how bad, on our present track, climate change outcomes could become.

What I often do not talk about in main posts (though we see quite a bit in the comments section) is how underlying factors such as political corruption and the ideologies supportiing that corruption can harm effective responses to climate change.

Witness Puerto Rico. A U.S. territory that has suffered a very severe blow from one of the worst hurricanes ever to make landfall in the Caribbean. A storm fed by the warming waters of human caused climate change which were, in turn, fed by a rampant and harmful climate change denial afflicting a number of our powerful political leaders.

There, electricity has now been largely knocked out for more than a month. U.S. Citizens have been forced to go without water, power, and basic life-saving medical services. The Trump Administration’s response to the disaster could best be described as incompetent. More incompetent than the Bush Administration during Katrina. And that’s being generous.

Though people died during the storm, a far more substantial death toll is emerging due to the Administration’s lagging response. With 900 people now estimated to have perished as a result of life-threatening conditions due to a loss of infrastructure and due to Trump’s larger failure to rapidly deploy a necessary massive relief and restoration effort.

If this spiraling situation wasn’t bad enough, Trump Administration incompetence has been followed on by allegations of corruption. The most glaring example comes in the form of a recently cancelled 300 million dollar contract with Whitefish to restore power on Puerto Rico — a small contracting firm reported to have only two permanent employees, links to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and whose larger investors are known Trump donors.

Due to the fact that this contract appeared to contain a number of conflicts of interest that looked like a ‘pay for play’ arrangement, and due to concerns over a privatized grab for control of Puerto Rico’s energy grid, both Republican and Democratic leaders have called for an investigation into the power repair contract. FEMA had also flagged the contract for potential problems. Meanwhile, review of the contract has found a number of cases that could best be construed as over-charging. According to NPR:

Much of the controversy that has surrounded the contract has focused on the high rates Whitefish is charging for labor. The contract shows those labor rates are pricey indeed: $240 an hour for a general foreman and $227 for a lineman. The per diems are also expensive: almost $80 a day for meals, and $332 a day for lodging. Employee flights are billed at $1,000 each way. For subcontractors, the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce, the prices go even higher. A general foreman costs $336 an hour and a lineman, $319.

The combined allegations of corruption, overcharging, and various links to the Trump Administration are all hallmarks of vulture disaster capitalism — where private firms exploit government contracts following disasters or military conflict to bilk exorbitant sums from the government (and by extension the taxpayer) while providing only standard or substandard service. Such exploitation comes along with a policy push for privatization of previously provided government services. And there was serious concern that the Whitefish contract would result in just such a privatized electrical grid in Puerto Rico following over-charging and possible shoddy work.

Today, amid rising scandal, both Puerto Rico’s governor and the mayor of San Juan called for the cancellation of the Whitefish contract. Work already started by Whitefish will be completed — this includes refurbishing two major power lines. But the contract is expected to be awarded to a less shady agency going forward. San Juan’s mayor, on AM Joy today called for work to be led by companies like Tesla or Southern California Edison — both of which have substantial experience with both grids and renewables.

Tesla, for its own part, restored power for a children’s hospital by providing solar + power packs without any incentive. The renewable energy company has become increasingly involved in building power systems for islands and helping to stabilize grids through its renewables based energy storage. Tesla played a pivotal role in providing solar+battery based power for the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It has also worked with Australia to provide batteries to assist in grid stabilization activities.

Given Tesla’s long track record and due to the fact that Tesla workers were already on the ground helping Puerto Ricans, it was a no-brainer add this company to a mixed list of experienced corps in assisting the power restoration effort. In addition, renewable energy systems like those provided by Tesla help to mitigate the root causes of the climate change related extreme weather that has so terribly damaged Puerto Rico — putting of the U.S. citizens there in danger. A fact that was obviously missing in the decision to hire Whitefish — a company with practically zero renewable energy chops.

And it is here that we need to return to the basic problem that arises from having climate change deniers as leaders in government. First, such politicians tend to favor contracts by fossil fuel companies, or worse, by shady firms like Whitefish. They also tend to be ideologically opposed to actual functional government — which leads to harmful privatization, related over-charging, and exploitation following disasters. In other words, such ideologues on the right leave wide open the door to corruption by establishing links with shady corporations. Finally, they tend to block more upstanding corporate players like Southern California Edison and Tesla who have a track record for building public utilities up by establishing solid renewable energy systems rather than by tearing them down by seeking to ram through fossil fuel linked privatization.


Hat tip to Greg

Hat tip to Wili


Leave a comment


  1. Kassy

     /  October 30, 2017

    At they rates they charge Whitefish should work for the Pentagon. Nobody would notice (which is sad but off topic here).

    Pruitt is ignoring EPA’s own research and just cancelling measures which are proven to save peoples lives. (and save tons of dollars by reducing health care costs/ lost work hours).


    These actions actually kill (some of) the voters but they mostly don’t know. Some simple stories are not told enough but also it is hard to reach people if it is just not on their radar and they are busy doing other things. Then again the media aren’t neutral either.


    • Thinking that as well.

      Pay rates would tend to be higher in a disaster relief situation. However, these rates are beyond the pale. They’re clearly puffed up to generate more profit for the firm in that it’s highly unlikely that such wages are fully going to the contract workers involved.


  2. Reblogged this on ~Burning Woman~ and commented:
    A must read article for anyone who has thoughts on climate change and how to approach a dangerous future.


  3. Good article, thank you: reblogged on ~burning woman~ blog.


  4. Kassy

     /  October 30, 2017

    One more link:

    Absolutely remarkably, since 1992 the EPA has singularly been instrumental in saving American citizens $362B on utility bills in partnership with the Department of Energy’s Energy Star Program, promoting the creation of efficient product development. That’s an amazing feat and worthy of increasing the EPA’s budget. They’re more than paying their own way.

    On March 31st an official EPA ban on “all use of chlorpyrifos” was scheduled to take effect. On that same day, luckily for Dow Chemical, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt intervened and determined it is not harmful. How else could he approve continued use? But, he did not offer any data to back up his determination. Whereas, in November 2016, after years of studies, EPA scientists said the insecticide poses an unacceptable risk to humans when its residue is found in fruits, vegetables, and drinking water.



    • Thanks for this, Kassey. Even after Pruitt is long gone, we’ll still be repairing the health and environmental damages inflicted under his watch. We’ll have more chronic disease, illness, and death because of his lax policies on toxins. And we’ll have less preparation and more destruction from climate change.


  5. Abel Adamski

     /  October 30, 2017

    An excellent article re South Africa.
    I love the take away top right, almost fits the subject matter
    ONLY DEAD FISH GO WITH THE FLOW (it was written in caps)

    We have been living through a persisting global economic crisis. A global crisis of climate change is happening at the same time. In South Africa we face the reality of a massive jobs crisis. We need solutions to all three. Urgently. By JONATHAN NEALE.

    A new 64-page report – One Million Climate Jobs: Moving South Africa forward towards a low-carbon, wage-led, and sustainable path – by the Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC) provides the detail, with extensive research citations, showing how this can be done and financed. The focus is on South Africa, but the remedies are broadly replicable across the globe.

    The whole world is full of voices saying there is a stark choice between jobs and action on climate. In South Africa, they tell us to choose between jobs for coal miners and saving the planet.


    • Good to see that some in South Africa are taking the side of jobs and the environment through renewable energy development. Best wishes for their success.


  6. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    “PREPA CEO Ricardo Ramos said during a news conference Sunday afternoon that he accepted the governor’s recommendation and would be writing a letter to the board of directors ‘asking for a resolution that will allow me to cancel the contract,’ adding that the contract was not officially canceled as of yet.

    Ramos added that the plan was for Whitefish to ‘finish what they started,’ which was work on two transmission lines on the island.

    He added that he hoped to speak with officials at Whitefish within the next few hours and that the contract required a 30-day notice for cancellation.

    ‘Even if I cancel today it becomes effective in 30 days,’ he added.”


  7. Suzanne

     /  October 30, 2017

    “Swarms of Monarch Butterflies stuck up North”

    Tens of thousands of monarch butterflies that should be in Texas by now, en route to their wintering grounds in Mexico, are still in the northern U.S. and Canada, their migrations delayed due to above-average temperatures and strong winds this fall.

    After weeks of warmer-than-usual weather, temperatures from the Great Lakes to New England are beginning to fall. Monarchs’ muscles stop functioning correctly when temperatures are in the 50s, so scientists warn that unless the butterflies start their 3,000-mile journey south soon, many of them may end up stuck up north and die. Even if they do leave now, many of the plants they eat along the way will be gone by the time they reach them, making starvation a real threat, biologists said.


    • This is a very real problem and one we are seeing in many migratory species who rely not just on temperature change, but many seasonal features including the availability of food plants. Hansen has been warning about the Monarchs for some time now.


  8. wpNSAlito

     /  October 30, 2017

    Manufacturing and designing localized power grids is a very different skill set than managing a construction project amid the vagaries of the PR countryside. A narrowly defined *charity* project by Tesla at a children’s hospital is wonderful, but Puerto Rico should put out the rebuilding of infrastructure (roads, water supplies, electricity, dams, etc.) out for competitive bids by established project management companies.

    In any case, it wouldn’t surprise me if the workers themselves ask higher pay for traveling out to Puerto Rico if that’s what the labor market supports, with an extra bonus if they speak Spanish. After all, with all the hurricane, flood and fire disasters in the past few months, they wouldn’t have trouble getting work for good pay somewhere else.


    • Abel Adamski

       /  October 30, 2017

      If I may
      I think Robert has a point, as do you.
      However PR’s geography and circumstances, especially going forward with increasing probabilities for more regular reprises of increasingly powerful extreme weather events would indicate a distributed grid would be far more appropriate and resilient. Current circumstances demonstrate the folly of dependency on one power source supplying the whole island.
      Is this something that the established utilities have the expertise in over and above the alternative players that Robert suggested as a starter.
      Remember we know about Tesla because he told us, there are however from memory quite a few other renewable energy players also involved in the recovery effort, so distributed mini grids similar to interlinked community power co ops would be a great step towards building a resilient life saving grid able to keep on or rapidly recover power for essential services


    • If Puerto Rico wants to have a power system that is more resilient to the storms that are coming, they will move to a distributed grid based on renewables. The primary expertise for this is in the alternative energy companies. Some utility players like California Edison also possess this expertise — which is why I mentioned this company.

      Tesla was the only company to move in with such a generous project. Other companies have pitched in, but not on that level. Of course part of this was PR and marketing in the hopes that Puerto Rico would choose Tesla. But it is a much more honest offering than operating under what could easily be seen as pay for play in the case of Whitefish. Tesla’s method of doing business is both more helpful and upstanding — setting an example of a leader as a show of good intention while also demonstrating what is possible through renewable energy offerings these days.

      Typical hazardous duty pay is around 100 percent higher than base pay. Average base pay for utility workers is between 30 and 40 dollars per hour depending on location. 60-80 dollars would be reasonable in the present situation. Though I do not condone the practice, because it makes profits less transparent, inflation of wages by the bidding company to increase profit margins might reasonably add 50 percent or so in this situation. The present contract bids for wages are, despite this generous calculation, still considerably higher than it should have been. It looks like gouging and exploitation.

      You fail to mention it, but this is part and parcel of the move to privatization — overpaying on government contracts. A pretty harmful process that is both less efficient and transfers more wealth into the hands of a small number of investors and owners. This is part of the systemic problem we are presently experiencing the world over. We can’t address it without public oversight, punishment of bad actor corporations, and reward of companies that act in an upstanding and, helpful to the public, fashion.


  9. wili

     /  October 30, 2017

    Thanks for the hat tip, and of course for another excellent article.

    As they say, you couldn’t make this sh!t up if you tried! And if you did, and put it in a novel, people would say that you had strained credulity. Stranger than fiction…


  10. wili

     /  October 30, 2017

    While Puerto Rico’s contract with Whitefish will be cancelled, help is already on the way from utilities in New York and Florida under a mutual aid agreement.



  11. coloradobob

     /  October 30, 2017

    A golden window to change the world.


  12. Abel Adamski

     /  October 30, 2017

    Meanwhile in the coal state in OZ

    Way off the planet’: regional businesses use renewables to slash costs

    From solar to running generators, some have quit the energy grid and several others are showing interest in ‘defecting’

    In the heart of Queensland’s mining belt, a businessman who has grown his enterprise mostly off the back of the coal industry sees the energy sector going only one way.
    “I think renewable energy is where the market’s going – what we class as the energy revolution,” says Jason Sharam.
    The self-described “dumb-arse electrician”, who will have grown his Mackay mining energy business from a starting staff of six to 150 by mid-2018, says he is trying to help people “see through the politics” on energy.
    “We try to stick to the facts and the real numbers,” Sharam says.

    Renewables being held out as a scapegoat for rising costs in the energy debate is “typical politics” but a complete red herring, Sharam says.

    The “elephant in the room” is the network and distribution charges that “we’re all paying exorbitant prices [for] and it seems to be the small to medium enterprises that are copping the brunt of it”, Sharam says.

    These “go through the roof” when a business uses more than 100 kwh a day.

    This is especially so in regional Australia because it lacks the concentrated populations to keep down network and distribution charges, which make up half of a business’s energy bill, he says.

    That means renewables like solar are a countervailing force, a way for businesses to drive down their network power costs, even if they stop short of getting off the grid.
    Wild is the wind: the resource that could power the world
    Read more

    Sharam’s Linked Group Services has quit the grid entirely however, and some clients are also interested in “defecting” after hearing how the numbers stack up.

    Linked Group has spent $460,000 on a solar and battery installation, including what Sharam thinks is the first off-grid use of a Tesla Powerwall battery system in Australia.

    And yet the business will immediately save $75,000 a year on its energy bill – even while paying off a bank loan over six-and-a-half years for the installation.

    Linked Group supplies trade services for both coking and thermal coal miners out of the Bowen Basin, as well as manufacturing niche products such as solar lighting towers and transportable, self-sufficient buildings. Their latest product, a solar carport, has caught the interest of construction group Lend Lease.

    Sharam says the company’s new Mackay complex will be a showcase for these and other wares, such as an electric vehicle charging station free to the public, and a geothermal air-conditioning system, which halves the energy load by using 90-metre-deep boreholes to dissipate heat and makes more efficient use of the refrigerant.

    The complex will use a propane gas-fired micro-turbine as a backup generator.

    Offsetting the solar industry’s “frustration and despair” at the Neg was Queensland’s emergence as “winner of the most improved award” in renewables nationally, Grimes says.

    From no large-scale renewables projects approved under the former Liberal National party government, the Palaszczuk Labor government now has 38 under way and in the pipeline.

    “It’s a huge turnaround because the resource is fantastic; the state government’s putting out the right signals for investment, and economics and industry has done the rest,” he says.


    • On islands and within high priced distribution markets like Australia, the impetus for moving off-grid is growing. Local government policy will tend to enhance or mute this process, but as batteries and solar become less expensive (solar costs are expected to drop another 60 percent over the next decade, while battery costs are expected to drop by 80 percent over the next five years), this process will become more widespread. Even moderately priced markets will tend to see more grid defections unless grid operators provide more incentive, through pricing and functionality, for people to stay tied.

      There are a number of renewable energy based technologies that can leverage a connected grid in a positive fashion — particularly vehicle to grid technology. Grid companies that wish to innovate and thrive in the energy revolution will be looking at both vehicle recharging and vehicles as storage in power sharing arrangements. So far, many utilities have been resistant to such innovation. However, it provides a way for progressive players to take part in the revolution.

      We talk a lot about Tesla, but that company’s growing network of charging stations and demonstrated ability to install large distributed solar networks is a serious advantage going forward. However, the company will need to be positioned to leverage that advantage to take full advantage. Movement appears to be in that direction. However, I don’t yet see Tesla V2G charging/storage. This would be a helpful offering for Tesla and companies that wish to use similar business models.


  13. Oil/gas corporation Okla based started up being in the utility business.I wonder if there is a connection w the Sec of Interior? http://newsok.com/article/5568861?slideout=1


  14. Kassy

     /  October 30, 2017

    Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016

    By Matt McGrath
    Environment correspondent

    Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

    Last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years.

    Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years.

    Scientists say this risks making global temperature targets largely unattainable.

    This year’s greenhouse gas bulletin produced by the WMO, is based on measurements taken in 51 countries. Research stations dotted around the globe measure concentrations of warming gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

    The figures published by the WMO are what’s left in the atmosphere after significant amounts are absorbed by the Earth’s “sinks”, which include the oceans and the biosphere.

    2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million, up from 400ppm in 2015.

    “It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network,” Dr Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO’s global atmosphere watch programme, told BBC News.

    “The largest increase was in the previous El Niño, in 1997-1998 and it was 2.7ppm and now it is 3.3ppm, it is also 50% higher than the average of the last ten years.”

    El Niño impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by causing droughts that limit the uptake of CO2 by plants and trees.

    Emissions from human sources have slowed down in the last couple of years according to research, but according to Dr Tarasova, it is the cumulative total in the atmosphere that really matters as CO2 stays aloft and active for centuries.

    Over the past 70 years, says the report, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is nearly 100 times larger than it was at the end of the last ice age.

    Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and other gases have the potential, according to the study to “initiate unpredictable changes in the climate system… leading to severe ecological and economic disruptions.”

    The study notes that since 1990 there has been a 40% increase in total radiative forcing, that’s the warming effect on our climate of all greenhouse gases.

    “Geological-wise, it is like an injection of a huge amount of heat,” said Dr Tarasova.

    “The changes will not take ten thousand years like they used to take before, they will happen fast – we don’t have the knowledge of the system in this state, that is a bit worrisome!”

    According to experts, the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, in the mid-Pliocene era. The climate then was 2-3C warmer, and sea levels were 10-20m higher due to the melting of Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheets.

    Other experts in the field of atmospheric research agreed that the WMO findings were a cause for concern.

    “The 3ppm CO2 growth rate in 2015 and 2016 is extreme – double the growth rate in the 1990-2000 decade,” Prof Euan Nisbet from Royal Holloway University of London told BBC News.

    “It is urgent that we follow the Paris agreement and switch rapidly away from fossil fuels: there are signs this is beginning to happen, but so far the air is not yet recording the change.”

    Another concern in the report is the continuing, mysterious rise of methane levels in the atmosphere, which were also larger than the average over the past ten years. Prof Nisbet says there is a fear of a vicious cycle, where methane drives up temperatures which in turn releases more methane from natural sources.

    “The rapid increase in methane since 2007, especially in 2014, 2015, and 2016, is different. This was not expected in the Paris agreement. Methane growth is strongest in the tropics and sub-tropics. The carbon isotopes in the methane show that growth is not being driven by fossil fuels. We do not understand why methane is rising. It may be a climate change feedback. It is very worrying.”

    The implications of these new atmospheric measurements for the targets agreed under the Paris climate pact, are quite negative, say observers.

    “The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

    “We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.”

    The report has been issued just a week ahead of the next instalment of UN climate talks, in Bonn. Despite the declaration by President Trump that he intends to take the US out of the deal, negotiators meeting in Germany will be aiming to advance and clarify the rulebook of the Paris agreement.



    • Thanks for this.

      We haven’t mentioned it in a little while. So I’ll give a brief refresher here:

      1. Present atmospheric CO2 levels approaching an average of 410 ppm represent a long term level of warming in the range of around 2.1 to 3.5 C.
      2. Present atmospheric ghg levels in the range of 491 ppm CO2e represent a long term level of warming in the range of 3.2 to 4.2 C.
      3. These ranges represent 1.6 to 2.1 C warming this Century even if they just remain stable.
      4. Reduction of present atmospheric greenhouse gas loading is necessary to remove risk that warming will exceed 1.5 and 2.0 C thresholds this Century.
      5. A warming climate makes this more difficult due to the fact that the Earth system is likely to contribute a feedback of between 10 percent and 30 percent carbon emissions relative to the present annual human based fossil fuel emission (primary source) going forward over the next 80 or so years.
      6. We are therefore on the precipice of locking in some very dangerous climate conditions and rapid reduction of the presently unacceptable 10 billion tons per year emitted by humans is both necessary and urgent.


      • wili

         /  October 30, 2017

        Thanks for the update. One question: How long term is the ‘long term’ in #s 1 and 2 above?


  15. Vic

     /  October 30, 2017

    Here’s a 60 Minutes segment aired last night taking a somewhat shallow look at Australia’s electricity woes. Tesla fans might find it interesting.

    Some background context is probably required. Electricity prices in Australia have skyrocketed over recent years, so much so that energy policy has been at front row center of the political debate here for at least the last year or so now, and showing no sign of easing up any time soon. Although much of the public have been programmed into thinking the price rises are due to renewable energy, the real reasons are more along these lines…

    1\ So called Network Goldplating, where five to ten years ago the network operators overspent on the grid expecting a higher electricity demand than what eventuated, largely because of the mass roll out of rooftop solar and efficiency measures.

    2\ Ongoing privatisation of generators and grid segments that has lead to widespread retailer price gouging and even more perverse outcomes, such as an old coal fired power plant that was sold two years ago for $1m recently being valued at $720m.

    3\ The recent introduction of a price fixing gas cartel that has exploded the price of gas and gas-fired electricity generation. This situation arose once three new Liquified Natural Gas export facilities off the coast of Queensland came on line over the last year or so. Widespread public resistance to Coal Seam Gas extraction has left Shell/Santos/Origin struggling to fulfill their contracts, so they’re now tapping into our once plentiful domestic supply and selling it into Asia for a pittance. You can now buy Australian sourced gas in Japan for less than what you can buy here, even after it’s been liquified and transported there!

    In the video you’ll see the Federal Energy & Environment Minister at work extolling the virtues of their latest plan to kick the can down the road, the “National Energy Guarantee”. It’s meant to define Australia’s energy policy out to 2030 and beyond, all eight pages of it.


    • Thanks for this excellent and insightful analysis, Vic.

      Any way we can dig a little deeper? It appears that the various corporate bad actors are having a field day due to the fact that the present government has enabled a degree of regulatory capture. It also appears that a growing number of fed up Australians and Australian businesses are going off-grid as a result.


      • Vic

         /  October 31, 2017

        I would like to have provided links for that Robert but it’s spread out over multiple sources over multiple years. Reneweconomy.com.au is the best source for info like that. There used to be another good Oz focused climate website called Climate Spectator. Too bad it was acquired by Murdoch and shut down several months later.

        Mass grid defection would seem the logical outcome if conditions persist. I’ve been noticing odd comments below the line at RenewEconomy, the Guardian and ABC trying to suggest that if there’s poles and wires going down your street then the retailers will be able to continue charging you even if you disconnect. That’s not true, yet. God only knows what they’re saying BTL in the Murdoch press.


  16. Greg

     /  October 30, 2017

    I can’t pretend to know what it is like to be poor. I symbolically give all my hat tips to those without voices or the tools to be heard. They have to have a voice through us. The weak and vunerable are bearing the brunt of the harsh lessons we are learning, but we will learn… after we have exhausted our ignorance and greed.


    • We are paying for it now in all the obvious ways that no one is really talking about. The present level of inequality combined with environmental destruction — both through direct human activity and through follow-on climate change — is producing severe unrest and extremism around the world. If the wealthy are uneasy at the angry, desperate, and hungry masses that increasingly move hither and yon, they have only to blame themselves. It was their carbon emissions that caused the climate crisis, their backward and selfish tax policies that made it worse, their deregulation that gave corps free reign to exploit, their looking the other way are harms done to other peoples around the world. Not all of the wealthy behaved in this way. But enough did that it has created this harm and fear that everyone now experiences.

      Businesses now need to be in the business of helping people. Powerful leaders — the same. And not just through charitable donations but through support of government institutions that are enabled to help people and to solve the problems caused by climate change.


  17. Shawn Redmond

     /  October 30, 2017

    Hi folks and Robert here is something I stumbled on a few days back. OT but it appears to be legitimate. I’ve signed on and it seems to work well. It is a search engine that does not track you and uses it’s profits to support tree planting globally. It tells me I’ve contributed 19 trees so far with my searches. It keeps a running tally in the upper right corner showing your total. https://www.ecosia.org
    It also has a blog to show some of its where’s and what’s.
    P.S. for those of us with a little paranoia


  18. BradH

     /  October 31, 2017

    Hi Robert: could you please provide references for these statements:
    >>We haven’t mentioned it in a little while. So I’ll give a brief refresher here:
    1. Present atmospheric CO2 levels approaching an average of 410 ppm represent a long term level of warming in the range of around 2.1 to 3.5 C.
    2. Present atmospheric ghg levels in the range of 491 ppm CO2e represent a long term level of warming in the range of 3.2 to 4.2 C.
    3. These ranges represent 1.6 to 2.1 C warming this Century even if they just remain stable.
    4. Reduction of present atmospheric greenhouse gas loading is necessary to remove risk that warming will exceed 1.5 and 2.0 C thresholds this Century.
    5. A warming climate makes this more difficult due to the fact that the Earth system is likely to contribute a feedback of between 10 percent and 30 percent carbon emissions relative to the present annual human based fossil fuel emission (primary source) going forward over the next 80 or so years<<


    • Brad —

      This is based on my analysis and interpretation of active ghg monitors, Earth System climate sensitivity, climate system inertia, climate system feedbacks, and paleoclimate science data:

      REF 1.1:

      Peak CO2 in 2018 will be in the range of 411 to 412 min CO2 will be 405 to 406. Average will range from 408 to 409 during 2018 at MLO. 2019 will hit between 410 ppm to 411 ppm average in that monitor. Global monitor will lag by a year or so.

      REF 1.2:

      Paleoclimate data indicates that past CO2 levels in this range produced long term warming near 3 C. I identify a rough range of 2.1 to 3.5 C given uncertainty in the proxy data.

      Pliocene temperatures: https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch6s6-3-2.html

      Average CO2 at that time was 390 ppm with temps ranging from 2-3 C warmer than 1880s.

      Miocene temperatures: https://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?n=2845

      Average CO2 during middle Miocene ranged from 3-4 C with CO2 ranging from 400 to 500 ppm during the middle miocene climate optimum.

      See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miocene

      Worth noting that ranges closer to 400 ppm CO2 showed closer to 3 C long term warming.

      REF 2.1: 491 CO2 equivalent forcing is estimated for 2017 based on this data by NOAA.


      NOAA notes that CO2e from all greenhouse gasses during 2016 was 489 ppm. Average gain from CO2 alone nets us 491.2. Other ghg gain might push this a bit higher. La Nina will tend to lower the overall average for a single year. Hence the 491 ppm CO2e estimate for 2017.

      REF 2.2:

      491 CO2e forcing roughly correlates with the Middle Miocene climate optimum during which global temperatures were as high as 4 C warmer than 1880s values and atmospheric CO2 hit about as high as 500 ppm. The range of 3.2 to 4.2 accounts for uncertainty in the paleoclimate proxy data.

      REF 3:

      Because warming will tend to lag due to inertia in the climate system, Century levels of warming will be approximately half that of the total long term warming levels. This is not an exact estimate. Just a rough rule of thumb.

      Basic global warming science finds that you get about 1/3 of the warming up front, another 1/3 after 1-3 Centuries, and the last 1/3 after more than 500 years or so. This is primarily due to the thermal inertia of the ocean, the ice sheets (which generate increased albedo), and due to water vapor feedback as atmospheric water vapor levels rise due to increased evaporation off a warming ocean.


      Again, this is a rough rule of thumb based on reported science.

      REF 4: Self explanatory given past supports in REF 1 through REF 3.

      REF 5: Multiple references. Here is just one:


      This is a brief list of references due to time constraint. If you are quoting me or using my comment for an article, I can provide more. But if this is a general inquiry. The background information should suffice.


  19. Keith Antonysen

     /  October 31, 2017

    Thanks for another great article Robert.

    Maria, caused in Puerto Rico a human catastrophe, and a political one … rampant ideology and greed gone mad.

    Robert, your experience with dealing with Opal in 1995 is so different than what Puerto Rican’s are now having to face. It clearly displays how Maria should have been managed.


    “Man’s inhumanity to man” is a concept coined a few centuries ago; it is still a very salient concept.



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