Another Fake Clean Coal Plant Bites the Dust

Southern Company’s Kemper Coal Gasification Plant is the Latest Clean Coal Project That Didn’t Make The Long Haul

FutureGen bites the dust
Or, the way MIT Technology Review reported it:  ”Clean Coal’s Flagship Project Has Failed”

Southern Company has shut down its Kemper County Power Generation Facility clean coal gasification showcase project in Mississippi due to incredibly high costs – $7.5 billion so far. Ratepayers are on the hook for $800 million thanks to legislation passed by the Mississippi legislature; the plant also was on the receiving end of a $382 million Federal Energy Dept. “grant”.

Talk about gasification. I love the free market.

It is worth noting that that ratepayers are suing the company for fraud, and the SEC was investigating Southern Company back before the regime change. The delays and excuses were too much even for the regulators in the state of Mississippi.

Last year, the New York Times reported that the University of Southern Mississippi was forced to raise annual tuition $236 per student, partly to offset an extra $1 million in electrical power costs attributed to the plant.

The plant was backed by good ole Haley Barbour, Southern’s chief lobbyist prior to becoming governor of Mississippi. No one was real surprised when he signed legislation that passed the costs of new power plants on the ratepayers.

Company spokesmodels are calling the suspension a setback, but meantime Mississippi regulators have directed that the Kemper plant be converted to natural gas only (rather than coal fired).

Custer suffered the same kind of “setback” at Little Big Horn.

That will be the end of the Mississippi clean coal scam, but it certainly is not the first of these projects to fail after spending a lot of money. Their primary purpose from the beginning was to create the illusion that clean coal was actually a real thing, even though the claims began long before any ground was broken.

FutureGen bites the dust
The imaginary FutureGen 2.0 is a failed clean coal plant that cost taxpayers a lot of money.

CatMap has been following the clean coal carbon sequestration/gasification up our butts fairy tell for over a decade. It was in 2006 that the Bush administration granted $1 billion to an imaginary clean coal project called FutureGen, which was a proof of concept coal fired electrical that would show how clean my coal can be, and also provide millions of jobs in southern Illinois. In 2010, it was rebranded as FutureGen 2.0. It was finally shut down in 2015. Your $ billion is long gone, and so is FutureGen.

Two coal-fired electric generation plants are closing in Ohio. Two more are closing in New Jersey. I wonder who is going to buy all that coal Trump is bragging about?

Posted in clean coal, coal gasification, Haley Barbour, Kemper clean coal plant closed, Southern | Comments Off

Dead Right Whales

The critically endangered species is now under 500 globally as six more whales die suddenly off New Brunswick

National Geographic reports that the carcasses of six right whales were found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, an unprecedented mortality event that bodes ill for yet another species on the brink.

Humans nearly wiped out the North Atlantic right whale in the late 18th century and the species has never fully recovered. Today, they are the rarest whale species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that only about 350 individual animals still exist, down from over 10,000 a century and a half ago. Canada’s department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada estimate is closer to 500.

Posted in Right whales mortality, Six dead whales off new brunswick | Comments Off

Today’s Large Earthquake & Tsunami: The Latest Aberrant Events In Greenland

A lethal 4.1 quake followed by flash flooding kills 4 in Greenland in the latest bizarre happening in Greenland

“It’s not normal that we have such large quakes in Greenland,” - Trine Dahl Jensen, Senior Researcher at the Danish Geological Survey.

Four residents of the coastal village of Nuugaatsiaq are missing and presumed dead after an earthquake and landslide that destroyed dozens of buildings and inundated the village. About 40 people were evacuated from the settlement of about 100 people on the west coast.

Greenland has been experiencing more powerful earthquakes recently, which many geologists believe may be attributed to changes in the landmass itself as ice sheet collapse accelerates. As the melting of Greenland’s massive ice cap and glaciers accelerates, trillions of tons of ice and snow are flowing into the North Atlantic, allowing the land underneath to rise.

The suggestion that global warming can cause earthquakes may seem crazy until you give it even a little scientific thought (remember that people thought we were joking about fracking waste wells causing quakes in Oklahoma until the state and federal geological agencies confirmed it).

A fault line has been described as a coiled spring that can be triggered by a relatively small change in pressure. There are actually several ways that global warming can cause earthquakes > see our previous post.

And then there’s this other thing that happened…..!

Posted in Greenland earthquake, tsunami in Greenland | Comments Off

Glacier Pulse Warped Earth’s Crust

Rapid changes in the Arctic resonate across the planet

A gargantuan mass of melting ice and water pulsed through one of Greenland’s glaciers with such force that it warped the Earth’s crust in the process. During the unprecedented warming of 2012, the Rink Glacier pulse traveled approximately 15 miles, actually bending bedrock around it as it pushed its way to the sea.

During the record heat of 2012, most of the surface of Greenland was covered with meltwater, a phenomenon that had not been previously observed. Researchers studying the event believe the unusual amount of surface water drained beneath Greenland’s ice sheet and then thrust its way via gravitational forces until it reached the North Atlantic coast. While a glacier moves very slowly under normal circumstances, this massive pulse moved quickly beneath the ice, ripping up everything in its path.

NASA researchers say this unprecedented event is likely to be a harbinger of the future as the Arctic regions warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

The quantity of melted ice that exploded into the ocean was 6.68 billion tons, or gigatons. If all the ice on Greenland ended up in the ocean, it would raise sea levels by about 20 feet worldwide.

Posted in Greenland ice loss, Rink Glacier Pulse | Comments Off

Non-Linear* Global Warming and Sea Ice Albedo Decline

Loss of Arctic reflectivity in sea ice + meltwater ponds drives a feedback loop that accelerates warming at an alarming rate

As Arctic sea ice declines, it begins to crumble, which causes a decrease in reflectivity. Meltwater ponds now appear more frequently, causing a similar effect.

A number of feedback loops mechanisms are at work in the Arctic, and each of them contributes to the acceleration of regional and global warming.

The “surface albedo” effect is a well understood phenomenon that is known to reinforce warming over reflective surfaces such as ice sheets and sea ice. The rapid increase in lower level (near surface) air temperature is causing sea ice and snow cover to melt more rapidly than in the past. The reduction in ice exposes less reflective surfaces such as dark open seawater, bare ground, and vegetation. These surfaces absorb more solar radiation, which warms the land and ocean water and moves heat energy the atmosphere. The loop comes full circle as the near surface temperature further increase and the process reinforces itself.

Examples of feedback processes that amplify an initial near-surface air temperature rise caused by global warming (diagram courtesy of 

The combination of surface albedo reduction and other feedback loops work together to generate a degree of warming that some scientists are now beginning to describe as “abrupt climate change.” This is another way of saying that the rate of climate change is faster than earlier models predicted, and may be virtually unprecedented in terms of the geological records.

Some of these forces are difficult for laymen to understand, but others are more accessible (and therefore alarming). Such changes include increases in atmospheric water vapor as cloud, which radiates heat down and further warm the atmosphere. Another example is airborne black soot including dust and dirt particles that darken glaciers and snow pack, again increasing the solar heat absorption.

In the event of an ice fee ocean, phytoplankton will increase, with a corresponding uptick in solar radiation going into the water and land. As algae and phytoplankton proliferate, interaction with the upper atmosphere, changing the chemical makeup of the atmosphere.

The chemical makeup of the oceans are already changing as the waters absorb more CO2.

Non-linear means it is changing rapidly in response to extreme input (such as human production of CO2 and methane) that are outside the normal influence of natural processes. It is also called “abrupt climate change.”


Posted in arctic amplification, arctic climate feedback loop, Diminished albedo reflectivity, Increase arctic solar absorption | Comments Off

Larsen C Ice Shelf Splits Off

When Ice Shelves Collapse, the Glaciers They Hold Back Flow Directly Into the Ocean, Rapidly Raising Sea Levels

[ UPDATE: One of the largest ice bergs (the size of Delaware) broke away on July 12, 2017. ]

The 1000 foot wide rift is cutting through the Larsen C Ice Shelf like a hot knife through butter. Once the rift traverses the remaining eight miles (which could happen within a matter of weeks), the last of the three massive ice shelves of the region will collapse and crash into the sea. The chunk of ice involved is the size of Delaware (about 2000 sq mi) and will reduce the Peninsula’s area by about 10%. Even beyond the fact that this calving event will create one of the largest ice bergs ever recorded, this is not business as usual.

When this massive berg breaks free, “It will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula,” said Adrian Luckman of the Midas Project, a UK Antarctic research institution. The West Antarctic Ice Shelves Larsen A and B have already collapsed (1999 and 2002 respectively).

Another significant uptick in sea level rise:

Ice shelves are different from both land based ice packs and floating sea ice. As a sort of hybrid, ice shelves are an extension of land based ice that are connected to land but form a floating barrier on coastal Antartica, Greenland and other polar regions. Ice shelves serve to hold back the massive glaciers that flow to the sea from the interior of the continent. When an ice shelf cracks away, the glaciers begin melt into the ocean.

Since the 1950s, accelerated warming trends in the region have driven temperatures up to 5°F higher in the region since the 1950s. They are expected to increase up to 7°F more by the end of the century.

If all the glaciers held back by Larsen C were to run into the ocean, global water level will increase by an additional four inches  (10 centimeters). Because the glaciers are comprised of fresh water, the also change the salinity of the ocean as they mix with the salt water.

Posted in Antarctic Ice Shelves Collapsing, Larsen C Ice Shelf | Comments Off

Bangladore Water Crisis: Another Mega City Running on Empty

Another vision of the future as India’a “Silicon Valley” trucks in water for basic needs.

Even as global technology corporations expand their footprint in the outskirts of India’s third largest city, the aquifers are being pumped dry.

P.N. Pavindra at the Bangladore Water Supply and Sewage Board supports predictions that the city will run out of water around the end of the decade: Quoted in Wired Magazine, he said, “the projections are relatively correct. Our groundwater levels are approaching zero.”

The causes of the impending disaster are global warming, globalization and greed.

Recurring Drought:
Bangladore and surrounding Karnataka Province are now in their sixth year of recurring drought. In 2016, the region recorded the lowest rainfall in four decades. Climate scientists site the trend as likely to worsen over the coming decades.

Globalization and short-sighted government:
As the offshore IT onslaught doubled the city’s population to over 10 million in the 21st century, the infrastructure did not grow along with it. As a result, the rise of water mafia trucks supplies drinking water to the corporate customers by pumping out ever dwindling wells. The population is left to scramble for water at failing wells, as the water is sold to the highest bidder.

This is a small sample of what’s to come.

Cape Town. Somalia. Madagascar. Western USA. Amazon Basin. Northern China. Sao Paulo.

See Mexico City Subsides for a similar story.

Posted in Bangladore water crisis, Global water crisis, water mafia | Comments Off

Cycling Along With the ClimateDenierTrolls as CO2 crosses 410PPM

A favorite argument of the typical ClimateDenierTroll® is the “cycles” gambit. The planet is constantly changing they say. There are natural cycles that the Earth is always going through and climate change is a normal part of that process. Usually accompanied by abuse and invective, this information is presented as if they personally discovered it, and thousands of climate scientists had somehow missed it.

As is the case with most spurious dialectic, they are right to a point. But in the context that they intend, they could not be more wrong.

The point at which they are not right is right now, as atmospheric CO2 levels have cycled past 410PPM for the first time.* We passed upward through the 400PPM threshold in 2016. Do the math.

Atmospheric CO2 has not been at these concentrations for millions of years.** How’s that for cyclical?

CO2 levels have risen alarmingly since the beginning of the Industrial Age, shooting from 280 to the present 400+PPM average. Scientists are virtually unanimous in their belief that this rapid increase has raised the average global temperature about 2F degrees. 2016 was the warmest year on record, beating 2015, which beat 2014…etc.

The second chart here really puts things in perspective, but not in a happy way. Derived from ice core samples, this data shows carbon cycles for the past 800,000 years. As you can see, nowhere on this chart does CO2 exceed 300 PPM at any time. Levels have increased so rapidly from the fluctuations of the past geologic ages as to be unprecedented.***

The natural cycles referenced by the CDTs are called Milankovitch Cycles, and they are an uber force in terms of affecting global warming and cooling over the course of eons. The Milankovich Cycles run about 100,000 years and are controlled by the Earth’s orbital and axial variations.

This is as far as CDT’s get in their education, primarily because they are being taught at the ExxonKoch University of fossil fuel bullshit.

The fact is that the current data on CO2, atmospheric and ocean temperatures shows clearly that our situation is far outside of any fluctuation that could be accounted for by Milankovich Cycles.

We are no longer in a natural cycle. We are far outside the parameters constrained by the Milankovich Cycles.

We are now in the Anthropocene Epoch, and the Anthropocene Epoch is going to be very interesting indeed.

* Measurements at Mona Loa began in 1958. Prior to that, measurements are obtained via ice core samples.
** The increases in methane releases from melting permafrost and fossil fuel emissions are not included in these results. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, but does not remain in the atmosphere are long.
***Natural carbon sinks have taken up about half of human CO2 emissions, or the situation would be worse.

Posted in climatedeniertroll, co2 reaches 410 ppm | Comments Off

Great Barrier Reef Is Dying As Ocean Waters Warm

Second Bleaching Event In Two Years Takes Out Two Thirds of Iconic Australian EcoSystem

great barrier reef

According to a new report in the left wing business magazine Forbes, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may be nearing the end after decades of degradation due to warming waters and industrial pollution. The Great Barrier Reef is a coral ecosystem that stretches approximately 1,400 miles off Australia’s east coast. It is unmatched for its beauty and diversity of marine life. and is (or was) a unique home to thousands of species of marine and bird life. In 2016, the reef was hit by a second bleaching event, a euphemistic term for die off of the coral that forms the reef. That bleaching event took out approximately 1/3 of the reef and overall damaged about 95% of the area.

If you are the kind of person that prefers coal mining and hydrocarbon extraction to natural beauty – no judgement here – there is still the economic impact. Coral reefs in general and the Great Barrier Reef in particular support $7 billion in fisheries and tourism for the Australian economy.

The bleaching die off is caused by rapid warming of the surrounding seas, as temperatures rise above natural levels for coral to grow and live. Bleaching events have increased in frequency and scales since the 1980′s. Pollution run off from agriculture and mining also contributes to the decline.

As photographer Richard Vevers puts it: “I was blown away… I’ve never seen something so beautiful, but it’s dying.”

Consider the Great Barrier Reef as another canary in the coal mine as the ocean ecosystem collapses. The death of coral reefs is happening around the world.

Posted in global warming, Great Barrier Reef dying | Comments Off

CO2 Levels: Unprecedented Rise In Two Years and Accelerating

“The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age” – Pieter Tans, NOAA

This chart displays annual increases (as opposed to totals) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued more grim news on the global warming front: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is continuing to rise, and has jumped sharply the past two years. The rate of increase has also accelerated:

According to NOAA’s press release:

Carbon dioxide levels measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory rose by 3 parts per million to 405.1 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, an increase that matched the record jump observed in 2015.

The two-year, 6-ppm surge in the greenhouse gas between 2015 and 2017 is unprecedented in the observatory’s 59-year record. And, it was a record fifth consecutive year that carbon dioxide (CO2) rose by 2 ppm or greater, said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

Also from the NOAA release: Globally averaged CO2 levels passed 400 ppm in 2015 — a 43-percent increase over pre-industrial levels. In February 2017, CO2 levels at Mauna Loa had already climbed to 406.42 ppm.

Meanwhile, the nations of the earth make promises and the Trump Administration prepares the way for total climate denier takeover.

Posted in Atmospheric CO2 levels, NOAA | Comments Off