2012 Was Hottest Year Ever In The United States.

State of the Climate - NCDC and NOAAWe’re #1? Hardly. Breaking the warmest yearly temperature record is not one that we should be proud of and hopefully, it won’t be a record we break every year. From e360:

“In its annual State of the Climate Report, NOAA said the average temperature during the year was 55.3 degrees F, about 3.2 degrees warmer than the 20th century average and 1 degree warmer than the previous high, recorded in 1998.”

The United States’ record breaking warm 2012 wasn’t isolated to one season – it was spread out over the fourth warmest winter (bronze), second warmest summer (silver) and the warmest spring ever recorded (gold). Check out the full State of the Climate Report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. [e360]


Sounds From A Shakedown? American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard Wants Feds To Back Off.

Jack Gerard, American Petroleum Institute President

“The most important thing is to do no harm…. Don’t overreact and do anything that would impede or discourage what we see going forward state by state today.”
API President Jack Gerard’s message to the Federal Gov’t [NY Times]

You can read the full article on the NY Times Green Blog.


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]


Panasonic’s Thermoelectric Hot Water Pipes Generate 7.5 Watts Of Power Per Foot.

Panasonic is designing an improved system to generate thermoelectric power by making it more efficient. Thermoelectric power is created via temperature differences – in this case, between the hot and cold water running through your house. Attempts to generate thermoelectric power in the past have been unsuccessful due to the amount of heat lost in the process.

The video pretty much explains how Panasonic’s thermoelectric tubes work. [DigInfo]

Somewhat related article: 100-Megawatt Power Plant via Variations in Ocean Temperature


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]