Ask Adm. Samuel Locklear III, commander of the U.S. military’s sprawling Pacific Command, what his most serious threat is, and you might be surprised. There’s a long list of possibilities, after all: North Korean nukes, rising Chinese military power and aggressive cyberespionage, multiple territorial disputes between major powers and persistent insurgencies from the Philippines to Thailand, not to mention protecting some of the world’s most vulnerable shipping choke points. Add all of that up, though, and there’s something even more dangerous to keep even the most seasoned military officer up at night: the looming disaster of climate change.
In a positive sign for United States energy consumption, a new report shows that the market share of renewable energy sources grew at a larger pace than fossil fuels for the year 2012. Additionally, the first half of this year has seen an enormous surge in renewable energy infrastructure and generating capacity.
For 2012, a decline in the cost of solar and wind infrastructure is partly credited with the surge in use. The International Energy Agency is now feeling more optimistic that renewable sources of energy could make up as much as 25% of global electricity generation by the year 2018.
And in another positive step for America, consumer energy consumption fellsignificantly in 2012, although that was in the wake of increased consumption from corporations.
San Francisco took a symbolic step Tuesday toward ridding its retirement holdings of investments in the biggest fossil fuel companies, even if it may be years before divestment is realized.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution by Supervisor John Avalos urging the Employees’ Retirement System to divest about $580 million in holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. The resolution calls for the system to stop any new fossil fuel investments and complete divestment within five years.
In unveiling his $3.8 trillion spending plan for the U.S. government on Wednesday, President Barack Obama revived his longstanding attack on oil industry tax breaks and formally launched a plan to pay for alternative vehicle research with drilling dollars.
While the tax plans are dead on arrival on Capitol Hill — where lawmakers have rejected similar proposals many times before — they drew outrage from oil and gas industry leaders who said Obama was seeking to use the sector as a piggy bank.
Ed Morse, Citigroup’s top energy economist, has taken a fresh swipe at companies and countries that rely on the global petroleum edifice. With a typically vivid title—“The End is Nigh”—Morse argues in a new report that permanent changes in the ways we produce and consume energy are hollowing out oil demand, with head-spinning ramifications.
The nub of the March 26 report: If the market transformation resembles that which occurred after the 1979 Iranian Revolution (which Morse regards as a possibility), global oil demand would plummet by 18%, to around 74 million barrels a day from the current 90 million. Such a plunge would trigger political and economic havoc in petroleum export-reliant Russia and OPEC. It would shake out the oil industry. And it would happen regardless of what steps the major players took.
We will need fossil fuels like oil and gas for the foreseeable future. So there’s really little choice (sigh). We have to press ahead with fracking for natural gas. We must approve the Keystone XL pipeline to get Canadian oil.
This mantra, repeated on TV ads and in political debates, is punctuated with a tinge of inevitability and regret. But, increasingly, scientific research and the experience of other countries should prompt us to ask: To what extent will we really “need” fossil fuel in the years to come? To what extent is it a choice?
WE will need fossil fuels like oil and gas for the foreseeable future. So there’s really little choice (sigh). We have to press ahead with fracking for natural gas. We must approve the Keystone XL pipeline to get Canadian oil.