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Friday, May 10, 2013

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations exceed 400ppm for the first time in human history

For the first time in human history, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have exceeded 400 parts per million. The last time concentrations were this high, humans didn't exist and the world was a very different place.

As The Economist reports:
As a rule of thumb, CO2 concentrations will have to be restricted to about 450ppm if global warming is to be kept below 2°C (a level that might possibly be safe). Because CO2 stays in the atmosphere for decades, artificial emissions of the gas would have to be cut immediately, and then fall to zero by 2075, in order to achieve 450ppm. There seems no chance of that. Emissions are still going up. At current rates, the Mauna Loa reading will rise above 450ppm in 2037.
Or sooner.

Let it be noted that the 400ppm milestone (gravestone?) was passed a year earlier than originally predicted.

Will this moment - the highest concentrations of atmospheric CO2 in 3-5 million years - pass away with the days news, and will the graph be allowed - and make no mistake, it is a choice - to continue its grim, inexorable, and rapid upward climb?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

EPA schedules public webinar on fracking wastewater treatment

As part of its national study on the potential health and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, the U.S. EPA recently held a technical workshop on Wastewater Treatment and Related Modeling. The agency has announced that it will host a one-hour public webinar on Monday, May 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm EDT to provide a summary of that workshop. 

The webinar will cover hydraulic fracturing wastewater treatment, and current and future trends in hydraulic fracturing wastewater management.

All materials from the study's technical workshops are available here.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New, safer waterless fracking technology?

Evidence continues to mount that the shale gas industry needs to squeeze the water and chemicals out of fracking.  As I've written previously, in the slow march toward waterless alternatives, one option that has been deployed on a limited basis uses liquid propane in place of water.   One downside of that technology, according to industry officials I've spoken to, is the obvious risk of fires and explosions.  That additional potential risk is one that E&P companies - that typically place a high premium on worker safety in what is, objectively, a pretty dangerous business - hardly want to incur. So, any additional risk inherent in alternative fracking technologies slows - and perhaps prevents - their widespread adoption.  

Now Houston, Texas-based eCORP International LLC has announced plans to deliver a propane-based fracking technology that "renders the propane stimulation fluid non-flammable."  The company has filed a patent application and is conducting "testing and experimentation of this technology" to prove its environmental safety and commercial viability.

I am not endorsing the company or the technology - but they bear very close watching by the industry, regulators, the environmental community, and the public, where support for fracking is still in the minority.