Disruptions In Energy Security And Climate Security Part 2: What’s Coming.
Originally published on Forbes.com on September 14, 2022
The US has shale and sends huge LNG tankers to help Europe’s crisis. The UK commits to producing more oil and gas and renewables. Denmark and Australia are surging forward with wind and solar energy.
Part 1 was about energy and climate security in the present.
Alarming recent events have affected both energy and climate security. This is a dilemma for global oil and gas which is needed to support energy security but at the same time it contributes 50% of carbon emissions.
Part 1 addressed a massive rise in natural gas prices in Europe and Asia, increases by 11-18 times over the past two years. This was due to low inventories plus Russia cutting gas supplies to Europe.
The shale revolution, which led to the US being self-sufficient in gas and oil production, has provided a way out. LNG exports have soared and made the US number one in the world in 2022. The majority (68%) of LNG exports goes to Europe, to help reduce their gas disruption.
Energy security ahead.
The new UK Prime Minister, Liz Truss, wants the UK to become self-sufficient in energy. Perhaps a local shale revolution could help achieve the country’s goal.
The Prime Minister announced last Thursday she will (1) open a new licensing round for oil and gas production in the North Sea, and (2) lift the existing ban on fracking used in shale gas wells, but only where local populations support this.
Ms Truss also announced the government would negotiate with renewable energy companies, including nuclear power, to lower the price of long-term contracts. The Bank of England would provide emergency support to energy firms that are struggling.
Energy security differs from country to country, since natural resources vary greatly. Here are just a few examples of progress that looks favorable for the future.
Norway gets most of its in-country energy from hydroelectric – lots of little turbines set in rivers to produce electricity for local people. The country has used this, plus government policy advantages, to achieve over 60% of new car sales are EVs. But Norway is also lucky offshore where huge deposits of oil and gas have been developed and sold overseas to boost the country’s wealth.
Denmark leads the world in constructing and using wind turbines to capture wind energy onshore. They sell turbines to other countries. The country is planning a man-made island of renewable energy, powered by offshore wind.
In Australia, the previous conservative government was supportive of fossil fuels, especially coal because the country is the largest coal exporter in the world. However, individual states picked up the baton and installed onshore wind and solar energies. The state of South Australia, for example, has achieved a place where nearly all of their electricity now comes from wind-power turbines.
UK are running down the hydrogen path, while developing, with BP, a massive hydrogen hub near Teesside, an important industrial area. Both blue and green hydrogen will be produced for industrial usage as well as mixing a small fraction in with natural gas pipelines.
The US shale revolution made the US self-sufficient in oil and gas by 2021, the first time since 1947. It’s been said that four different presidents stated that the US would never become self-sufficient in energy. The world-class Delaware basin in New Mexico and West Texas contains 46 billion barrels of oil, the largest assessment ever in the US. Oil production from New Mexico alone was 1.15 million bopd in early 2020. The USA is indeed a lucky country in this regard.
Climate security ahead.
The other side of the security coin is climate. Certain “unprecedented” climate disruptions, which have occurred in the past couple of years, were described in Part 1.
What lies ahead in general has been defined by climate scientists and government officials, even book authors like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates. The most comprehensive are scientific reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations Body.
The Paris Agreement of 2015 said that global temperature by 2100 should be constrained to a rise of 2C above pre-industrial temperature, and 1.5C would be better if possible. The present temperature is 1.1 C above.
Paris also led to a goal for carbon emissions: that they should be held to net-zero by the year 2050. Net zero is not real zero, but it means whatever volume of emissions is created after 2050 needs to be compensated by an equal volume that has been removed.
This strategy should stop glaciers retreating, stop Arctic ice melting, stop sea levels rising, and stop corals bleaching.
If not stopped, high altitude reservoirs fed by glaciers will dry up and hurt populations that depend on them. Polar bears may struggle to survive in the Arctic. A vast tourist industry based on the Great Barrier Reef corals, for example, may collapse. Fishermen in some countries live off fish that eat creatures that inhabit coral reefs. This food-chain may not last if corals bleach and die.
Sea level rise is very small, only 3 millimeter (mm) per year, and likely would amount to 3 feet or so by the year 2100 if carbon emissions are not controlled. The effects of future sea level rise are not immediate but would be serious in the long term for low-lying countries. But still, there is plenty of time to build 3-foot seawalls in those low-lying places to provide the extra protection needed.
Extreme weather events.
But there are more serious issues for humanity. These come from worsening of extreme weather events such as droughts, wildfires, tropical storm floodings, and hurricanes. Most if not all climate models predict worsening, and this has been widely accepted and reported by IPCC as well as national figures such as Bill Gates and David Attenborough, and by many of the press.
But this picture has been challenged recently by Steven Koonin in his book Unsettled. It’s a thoughtful book by a scientist who had worked in government. Koonin has examined in depth the findings and conclusions of the IPCC team publications, and he disagrees with many of them. Koonin says “…the models we use to predict the future aren’t able to accurately describe the climate of the past, suggesting they are deeply flawed.” He says, statements such as ‘hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent’, are seriously misleading, according to science.
Most extreme events, such as hurricanes, floods, droughts and wildfires, show no worsening trend over the past 50 years (or more) despite that global temperature has risen about 0.7C (or more).
If Koonin is right, and the IPCC reports are misleading in their presentation of extreme weather data of the past 50 years, then the urgency to reduce carbon emissions is not as serious as portrayed by IPCC reports.
Unless… a tipping point has been reached in the last few years. A concordance of “unprecedented” weather extremes of the last few years, as illustrated in Part 1, may suggest this. Is it possible that a lack of worsening trend of extreme events over the past 50 years may have suddenly changed?
It’s easy to suggest that such-and-such a recent weather event is due to climate change. But to answer this using science, graphs of new and more recent data would have to show on a global basis, a trend to more worsening. We just have to wait for scientific collection and presentation of the data to conclude this.
Despite this uncertainty, global temperature is rising rapidly and heat waves are becoming more common. Now the US Congress has acted and will change what lies ahead. The new Inflation Reduction Act provides a policy push to address climate security, such as producing more solar and wind renewable energies and replacing gasoline-powered cars and trucks by EVs.
But such progress would lead to a rapid drop-off in US fossil energy consumed – oil and gas usage in the US could drop by 34 – 39% within 10-15 years, respectively (ref 1).
The shale revolution, which led to the US being self-sufficient in gas and oil production, is providing LNG exports that have soared and the majority (68%) of these goes to Europe, to help reduce their gas disruption.
The new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, wants the UK to become self-sufficient in energy. Perhaps a local shale revolution could help achieve the country’s goal of energy security.
Energy security differs from country to country since natural resources vary greatly. Listed above are a few examples of country progress that looks favorable.
Most extreme events, such as hurricanes, floods, droughts and wildfires, show no worsening trend over the past 50 years despite global temperature rising about 0.7C.
Steven Koonin is an honest broker. If he is right, and the IPCC reports are misleading in their analysis of extreme weather data of the past 50 years, then the urgency to reduce carbon emissions is not as serious as portrayed by IPCC reports.
Unless… a tipping point has been reached in just the last few years.
- Teknisk Ukeblad, October 2021.