Climate Protector: Report from Addie Greene

Becoming a Master Climate Protector I

by Addie Greene

I joined the Master Climate Protector class to help mitigate global warming. The course, sponsored by Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN), will continue through April 15 at Rogue Community College.

            One of our assignments is to reduce our carbon footprints—the amount of greenhouse gases we release based on size of home, number of household members, family income, and other criteria. “In the Rogue Valley, fully 44% of our contributions to global emissions result from our individual consumption, (driving, home heating and air conditioning, flying, etc.),” according to SOCAN. That means we all can make a difference.

            The class watched a short video, produced by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, extolling the virtues of the Jordan Cove pipeline, which is being fought by climate activists because the pipeline would go under several rivers and private land, much of which is farmland. The fear, of course, is that the pipeline would spring a leak, fouling the rivers and land with natural gas. Members of the class were appalled that the federal government supports Jordan Cove.  

The BLM is pushing this project because it would create several thousand (temporary) construction jobs although, on completion, maintenance jobs would number in the dozens. Jordan Cove would produce 60% of Oregon’s emissions if the project were completed. The video neglected to mention that the sponsoring Canadian company would use eminent domain to seize Oregonians’ land from Klamath Falls to the Greensprings, Eagle Point, Canyonville, and Roseburg and would ship its liquefied natural gas overseas from Coos Bay. The logical shipping point for Canadian natural gas? British Columbia, which won’t hear of it.

            The state of Oregon has pledged to be off coal by 2030 (the Boardman Coal Plant is scheduled to close in 2020, but Oregon receives coal-generated power from Wyoming). It also has pledged to get 50% of its energy from renewables by 2040.

In the U.S. in 2015, 80% of CO2 emissions were from petroleum, natural gas, and coal, with natural gas emissions now exceeding those of coal.

            Between 1950 and 2000 world population increased by 2.5 times, while energy consumption increased by 5.0 times. As the economies of China, Brazil, and India expand, their greenhouse gas emissions are likely to increase (see chart below).

 All renewables—hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass—comprised 10% of U.S. energy production in 2015.

            The good news is that the cost of installing wind and solar farms is approaching that of installing natural gas. Coming online in 2019: 24 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar; 8 GW of coal, natural gas, and nuclear are retiring. Renewables had three times the job growth of coal in 2016, but 20,000 jobs in solar have been lost because of tariffs.

China is first and the U.S. second in solar and wind production. Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, California, and Kansas produced 55% of U.S. wind capacity in 2017. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are leading corporate purchasers of renewable energy credits.

            Instructor Ray Mallette told the class about the Halliburton Loophole, legislation passed during the George W. Bush administration, exempting gas drilling and extraction from the Clean Water Act.

            Next week: Ways to decrease your carbon footprint.

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            Greenhouse gas emissions per person in metric tons:

  • Australia          26.6
  • U.S.                 22.2
  • Canada            21.3
  • Saudi Arabia  19.9
  • Russia             16.3
  • Europe             9.8
  • China               7.8
  • Brazil               6.0
  • Mexico            5.8
  • India                1.9

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            U.S. sources of electricity in 2015:

  • Coal                 33%
  • Natural gas      33%
  • Nuclear            20%
  • Hydro              6%
  • Wind               4.7%

Next week: Ways to decrease your carbon footprint.

//inserted by Sharon