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Will Real Climate Change Events Change Doubters?

“There is nothing new about large-scale impacts of human activities on the biosphere. Conversion of forests, grasslands, and wetlands to crop fields, and deforestation driven by the need for wood and charcoal to heat homes and smelt metals, and for lumber to construct cities and ships, changed natural ecosystems on a grand scale in preindustrial Europe and Asia.” -Vaclav Smil “Global Catastrophes and Trends – The Next Fifty Years (published, MIT Press, 2008)

Highway vehicles release about 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere each year—mostly in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2)—contributing to global climate change. Each gallon of gasoline you burn creates 20 pounds of GHG. That's roughly 6 to 9 tons of GHG each year for a typical vehicle.

Every international automaker is introducing battery powered cars, and plug-in hybrid options.

Bentley, one of the most unlikely auto manufacturers to quickly leave fuel powered vehicles, has committed that by 2026 all its cars will be plug-in hybrids or all electric. Ford is also ramping up electric vehicles to be a major portion of its most popular F-150, the best best-selling vehicle in the U.S., which will be electric and sell for less than $40,000. A small hybrid truck, the Ford Maverick, will be ready in 2025. The company plans to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Will this put the oil companies out of business? Some would think so. And those who prefer gas powered vehicles and do not want the government determining their choices, see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Exxon Mobil is venturing into biofuels. It is investing $600 million into producing liquid transportation fuel from algae, organisms in water that range from scum to seaweed.

When will it be available? “I am not going to sugarcoat this- this is not going to be easy” said Dr. Emil Jacobs, VP of research and development at Exxon.

He expects the production of algae-based fuels by large-scale commercial plants to be at least 5-10 years away.

“The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. Over 90 % of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes primarily gasoline and diesel.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Currently 29% of emissions directly related to transportation.

U.S. utilities are considering miniature nuclear reactors as an energy source to reduce carbon emissions. Electricity productions is a source for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. (EPA Report).

Now what have we recently experienced in which climate change is a contributing factor?

Heavy rain and strong winds hit mid- coastal areas of California on October 25. This included a “bomb cyclone” (a quickly intensifying low-pressure system that draws in strong winds) and an atmospheric river (a slim band of moisture).

Accurate predictions by AccuWeather forecasters were that some spots in California were going to get more than a month’s rain in one day and they did.

On October 27th, Boston suffered “…the strongest wind we’ve ever experienced Hurricane-force winds and drenching rain slam state, downing power and trees.” Boston Globe, October 28th.

The market value of coal has ramped up. U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that in 2021, “annual coal-fired electricity generation will increase for first time since 2014,” which is about a 21 % increase from 2020. Coal combustion is responsible for more than 30% of total U.S. carbon dioxide pollution.

These dramatic weather events are not sufficient recognition of a global environmental problem. Where the economic need today, such as the nation’s need for electric power, does not include in the cost equation the cost of negative, economic impact of a damaged environment.

Yale professor William D. Norhaus, 2018 Nobel Prize Winner for integrating climate change into long-run, microeconomic analysis in economic sciences noted in a conversation with Jeff Sommer, a Twitter journalist who also writes for The New York Times, “public policy around the world now is still really just minimal. it’s just a little more than nothing.”

Stephen N. Anderson

Founder and Managing Director

Marquis Advisory Group

Philadelphia, PA



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