China Consumes Almost As Much Coal As The Rest Of The World Combined.

China Coal Consumption vs Rest Of The World

Graphic from Washington Post

I might have figured out one major contributor to China’s deadly smog.

Burning coal to supply electricity to 1+ billion people will have adverse side-effects – off the charts air pollution is just the visible one. [ThinkProgress]


During Natural Gas Production, Up To 9% Of The Methane Is Farted Into The Atmosphere.

Pulling my own finger methane releasing natural gas wells.Just as we were breaking up with dirty coal and starting a new cleaner relationship with natural gas comes news of a gas problem. It turns out the process of capturing natural gas is not as efficient as we thought and that 4-9% of the methane we fracture from the ground is released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide. From Nature:

“The researchers, who hold joint appointments with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado in Boulder, first sparked concern in February 2012 with a study suggesting that up to 4% of the methane produced at a field near Denver was escaping into the atmosphere.

Industry officials and some scientists contested the claim, but at an American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, California, last month, the research team reported new Colorado data that support the earlier work, as well as preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah suggesting even higher rates of methane leakage — an eye-popping 9% of the total production. That figure is nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data — which are already higher in Utah than in Colorado.”

How do we fix the gas problem? According to the Nature article, the EPA issued standards in April 2012 to reduce the amount of air pollution created during the natural gas extraction process. What can you do now? Consume less. [Nature via e360]


How Do You Turn Tar Sands Into Oil? (Hint: It’s Not Pretty)

Tar Sands OilScientific American posted a slide-show outlining the labor intensive, energy consuming, chemically extracted and waste producing steps needed to turn tar sands into oil. The coal industry must love this! Thanks to tar sands oil, big-coal’s new slogan might be: “We suck less!” [Scientific American]


China Wants To Frack Like The US. For China’s Groundwater It’s Going To Get Fracking Ugly.

Fracking in China.China doesn’t have the best reputation for choosing environmental concerns over economic benefits and that is why its citizens should be worried about expanded fracking. The problem with fracking is that it occurs out-of-sight and underground, without enforced protections, and the gain of capturing natural gas is so huge for the power hungry nation. The Guardian posted “China planning ‘huge fracking industry'” that discusses why the move toward less polluting natural gas and away from coal is so important for China and how the move will adversely impact groundwater.

Currently, China generates 70% of their electricity from coal. Replacing coal and fracking up natural gas would cut China’s greenhouse gas emissions in half but there is still a hidden cost. Here’s a quote from the article:

“An unidentified source at China’s Ministry of Land Resources told Caixin that as shale gas development accelerates the government will likely introduce specific environmental policies to address fracking, such as groundwater protection. But these are not likely to be legally binding, an industry source told the publication.”

Pre-fracked groundwater in 57 percent of China’s 660 cities has already been declared polluted and it’s only going to get worse. The economy holds sway over the environment and it’s too easy to conceal the groundwater contaminating effects of fracking fluids. [The Guardian]


China VS US: CO2 Emissions From Fossil Fuels Is The Most Depressing Infographic We’ll Post Today

US vs China: CO2 Emissions from fossil fuel consumptionThis graphic doesn’t require much of an explanation. Unfortunately, it’s what you’d expect when you add half a billion monied consumers. [Sightline. Graphic by Good Measures]


The Emission Footprint of Electric Vehicles Depends On How You Get Your Power

State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings Across the United States

Click on the image for larger view.

We’ve been hearing about this for a while but the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCC) have put it to paper (kind of) with their “State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-Cost Savings Across the United States.” Their research suggests that depending on how electricity is generated (coal, hydro, solar etc.) where you live in the United States, electric vehicles (EV) are responsible for producing more or less emissions relative to gas powered vehicles. In parts of the country that derive most of their electricity from non-renewable resources (ie coal, natural gas), the areas in dark blue on the map above, EVs have an equivalent fuel economy above 30 mpgs when compared to a gas powered auto. In areas in light blue, EV’s have a fuel efficiency equivalent greater than 50 mpgs.

Here are the main points from the UCC report:

  1. Nearly half of Americans (45%) live in the “best” regions where EVs produce lower global warming emissions than even the most fuel-efficient gasoline hybrids on the market today (greater than 50 mpg).
  2. Another third (37%) live in “better” areas where EVs produce emissions comparable to the best gasoline hybrid vehicles (41 – 50 mpg).
  3. A minority (18%) reside in “good” regions where emissions from EVs are comparable to the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline vehicles (31 – 40 mpg).

The UCC study has been well received and initial cost aside, going with an Electric Vehicle sounds like a good, cost-saving decision just about any place you live. [UCC]

Related information: Lifetime gasoline and fuel cost comparison for EV, Hybrids and Gas-Powered Vehicles