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Good News on Global Warming

wind farm
Lean to the Left podcast guest Jack Kerfoot, energy expert and author, says renewable energy resources are replacing coal worldwide.

The International Energy Agency has reported that the world will add as much renewable energy over the next five years as it did in the past two decades, with renewables such as wind and solar overtaking coal as the largest source of energy generation worldwide by early 2025.

That’s a significant development, so to bring it into context we have with us on the Lean to the Left podcast Jack Kerfoot, a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States.This is his fourth appearance on the Lean to the Left podcast.

During the interview, Kerfoot predicts that new electric vehicles will displace internal combustion-powered vehicles within the next decade. Here are some notes from the interview:

1. Why is the demand for coal, declining around the world?

There are three compelling reasons for the dramatic decline in the demand for coal as a fuel.

· 1st EconomicsThe cost to generate power from renewable energy (solar, wind, and hydropower) is significantly cheaper than coal. In the United States, the cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of solar or wind.

· 2nd Ground Water PollutionCoal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have contaminated the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America. Studies in Europe has confirmed similar

· 3rd Climate Change The burning of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) is the primary reason for global warming and climate change. Coal generates 40% to 48% more greenhouse gases than natural gas, which is another type of fuel used to generate electricity in many countries around the world.

2. Which countries are the primary consumers of coal around the world?

In 2021, the ten countries consumed over 85% of the coal mined. The top five coal consuming countries:

· #1 People’s Republic of China (PRC)Consumed 2.9 billion metric tons of coal, which was 50.5% of the coal mined in the world. The PRC’s insatiable thirst for coal is reason the country generates more greenhouse gas emissions (27%) than any other country in the world.

· #2 India11.5%

· #3 United States8.5%

· #4 Germany3.0%

· #5 Russia2.7%

· # 6 through #10 coal consuming countries in 2021 are Japan (2.5%), South Africa (2.4%), South Korea (1.8%), Poland (1.7%), and Australia (1.5%).

3. Is the United States reducing its consumption of coal?

In 2005, coal to generate 49.6% of the United States’ electricity. In 2021, coal was used to generate 19.8% of the United States’ electricity. Which is a 29.8% reduction in coal consumption for electricity generation in sixteen years.

4. Is the reduction in coal consumption impacting the United States greenhouse gas emission?

In 2005, the US generated Over 6 Billion Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent. In 2022, the US generated 4.8 Billion Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent.

The US government agencies (US EPA, EIA, etc.) are meticulous in the measurement and documentation of greenhouse gas emission data. Other countries, like the PRC, Russia, and Iran have notorious for submitting undocumented greenhouse gas emission data.

5. Where and why are renewable energy projects, like solar and wind being developed?

Where? In every region of the world. The why is region dependent for instance –

· Middle EastOil exporting countries, like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are aggressively developing massive solar projects to replace oil and natural gas power plants for domestic electricity generation. Why? To preserve their nation’s greatest natural resources for export. In 2020, Saudi Arabia exported U.S. $120.8 Billion in crude oil, refined petroleum, and petrochemicals.

· AfricaDeveloping countries with very limited access to electricity, like Chad (11.1%), Burundi (11.7%), Burkina Faso (19.0%), and Madagascar (33.7%) are building small, low cost photovoltaic (PV) projects increase access to electricity for the people in their nation. Electricity is essential to run pumps in wells which provide potable water for the local communities.

· Southeast Asia Oil and gas exporting countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are developing massive solar projects for domestic power and for export by marine cables to the nation of Singapore. Like countries in the Middle East, Indonesia and Singapore want to preserve their nation’s oil and natural gas resources for export.

· EuropeOn 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, and South Korea placing embargos on Russian exports. Europe has been aggressively developing a range of renewable energy projects (wind, biomass, and solar) to offset the loss of Russian natural gas imports.

· South America – Countries with vast renewable energy resources (hydropower, wind, and solar), like Paraguay and Uruguay are actively developing new renewable energy projects to increase green energy electricity exports to neighboring countries, Argentina and Brazil. In 2020, electricity exports from renewable energy generated U.S. $1.73 Billion for Paraguay.

· United StatesThe development of new renewable projects are booming in almost every county and state in the nation. Massive offshore wind projects are being developed along the eastern seaboard. Wind and solar are booming in the Great Plains generating thousands of new jobs and reducing the cost of power for local residents. In 2005, only 8.8% of the United States electricity was from renewable energy. In 2021, renewables generated 19.8% of the nation’s electricity.

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) forecast that wind will generate 20% and solar 17% of America’s electricity by 2030. Current data indicates that renewable energy will generate from 33% to 50% of the nation’s electricity by 2030. The demand for coal will continue to decline in the United States with every new wind or solar project.

Inflation is a global issue, not just an issue facing the United States. The rate of inflation (January through November 2022) in the United States was 7.1% compared to 12.0% in Russia, 11.8% in Italy, 10.7% in the United Kingdom, 10.0% in Germany, 7.3% in Australia, 6.9% in Canada, and 3.7% in Japan. The reason for global inflation is due to multiple reasons, including –

· Oil and Natural Gas Fuel Price VolatilityOn 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, and South Korea placing embargos on Russian exports. As a result, the price for crude oil and natural gas increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

Oil and natural gas are global commodities, and the prices quickly respond to news of dramatic changes in supply and demand. Oil and gas prices have declined as countries cut back in fuel consumption and developed new fuel sources, such as liquified natural gas from the United states. However, oil and gas supply uncertainty causes companies to increase their prices to hedge against future fuel price spikes.

· People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) COVID ShutdownsThe PRC’s was the global leader in manufacturing, prior to the outbreak of COVID. The PRC’s strict COVID policy caused entire cities to stay at home if only few COVID cases were reported. Lockdowns of major cities, have repeated occurred in major cities, including closure of the major port city of Shanghai. As a result, the global supply chain has been dramatically disrupted. Many major manufacturers are now relocating their manufacturing centers to other countries, like Malaysia, Vietnam, or India. Supply chain delays increases the cost of the goods, which contributes to inflation.

· Worker Shortage – As companies in the United States began to ramp up for expected demands, they found there was a shortage of skilled workers available. As a result, companies increased wages and compensation to attract skilled workers. Increased wages contributes to inflation in the United States.

· Russia’s Invades Ukraine – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resulted in a dramatic reduction in agricultural exports. In 2021, Ukraine was the #4, #6, and #7 exporter of barley, corn, and wheat. The war has caused global shortages of barley, corn, and wheat which contributes to global inflation.

In 2021, Russia was the largest exporter of wheat in the world. Western sanctions on Russia’s exports has limited the global supply of wheat, contributing to global inflation.

7. What exactly are greenhouse gases and what generates greenhouse gas emissions?

The composition of greenhouse gases include Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Ozone, Nitrous Oxide and Chlorofluorocarbons.

Carbon Dioxide CO2 makes up over 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. The primary source of CO2 is from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, or natural gas).

8. How do greenhouse gases cause global warming?

Greenhouse gases in earth’s atmosphere trap heat. These gases allow sunlight to pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat from the sun from leaving the atmosphere.

9. What is the impact of climate change?

According to a recent United Nations reports, major weather events (blizzards, heatwaves, hurricanes, floods, etc.) around the world increased 83% over the last 20 years (1981-2000 vs 2001-2020).

As an example, the extreme cold weather in Texas in February 2021 resulted in rolling blackouts across the state and 215 deaths and the unprecedented heat wave in June 2021 in the Pacific Northwest in the US and Canada resulted in over 500 deaths.

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