Episode 12

Abnormal climate impact; more frequent droughts, floods and sudden storms

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The Angry Clean Energy Guy on the impact of climate change so far in June (and just June) on India, Pakistan, China, Finland, Russia, Australia and the US – and how these major climate impacts are seemingly broadly ignored by the media even though they dwarf in importance what counts as news these days; on the $200 billion value destruction at GE, directly related to how much its management mis-judged the competitiveness of renewables; and on the 200,000 pieces of microplastics each one of us is eating and drinking and breathing each year. Hero of the week: The oceans. Villain of the week: Every single coffee shop in New York

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Episode Transcript:

Hi, I am The Angry Clean Energy Guy, Assaad Razzouk. This is episode 12 of my podcast and I am so happy you’re here. Thank you. My apologies if my voice is slightly different. I think I have a cold, but I’m fighting it very hard. This week I am going to rant about the June that we’ve had so far around the world in China, in India, in the US Midwest, in Finland, in Siberia, but which for some reason is completely unknown to almost everybody I’ve spoken to in the past two weeks who are all without exception educated very well and have great jobs, but seemingly have no clue what is going on on their planet.

CLIMATE CHAOS

So if I was to believe that the top stories in the world this June are what I’m reading in the newspapers and what I’m seeing in the news on TV and on current affairs programs, then I would think that the top stories are that president Trump received a beautiful letter from North Korea; that the US-Mexico tariff spat matters; that the China-US tariff problem is of huge significance; and that the British conservative party selecting a prime minister is what I need to focus on. 

Except it’s not. It’s only the 12th of June and so far this month all hell has been breaking loose in multiple countries around the world because of climate change. But that is simply not in my newsfeed for some reason and it makes me really angry. The stories that matter are not being covered enough of that in India for example, two thirds of the country is in the midst of a severe heat wave.

And let me put that into perspective for you. A heat wave covering two thirds of India affects 700 million people and let’s not forget another 200 million Pakistanis on top. That’s almost a billion people who have been in the midst of a severe heat wave for two weeks without anybody paying attention. That is completely unacceptable. It makes me so angry. In New Delhi, the temperature peaked on Monday at 48 degrees Celsius, the highest in the history of the capital. Temperatures are nearing record highs across India and Pakistan and residents are fighting as we speak over access to water. The police has had to be deployed to escort water tankers in multiple states. In Pakistan the temperature is up at 51 degrees centigrade or 124 degrees Fahrenheit, but a city in India hit 51 degrees Celsius a couple of days ago. The annual monsoon, which normally brings much needed rain to South Asia, to that part of the world, is running at least a week behind schedule and the entire Indian peninsula has seen a dramatic change in its rainfall patterns over the past 10 years. Lots and more frequent droughts, floods and sudden storms. 

That means the people are suffering and there are more of them that are suffering each year as we continue to burn or oil, gas and coal, send greenhouse gas emissions up into the atmosphere and warm the planet. This cannot continue. You can expect waves after waves of climate refugees to leave these countries unless we do something drastic between now and 2030 which is in just 10 years. We have just 10 years to turn the situation around and we know how to turn it around. Remember, all we need is to fuel the world with renewable energy and to reverse the deforestation. That’s all we need to do. Get used to this word “record”; As in record temperature, record drought record rainfall. 

In China at least five people have been killed, thousands more have been left stranded and 2 million have been affected because of record rainfall that just hit southern China. There is an entire town submerged under two meters of water. I am not reading about that in a constant and logical manner that prioritizes the planetary importance of this news anywhere and that makes me really angry. Rainfall in the southern provinces of China hit record highs for June already. The world is upside down and instead of a heatwave in Australia and snow in Russia, the world is so upside down that it’s the other way around. Kangaroos in Australia are jumping through snow and a high temperature of 32 degrees Celsius was recorded just short of the Arctic Circle. 

So instead of a heat wave in Australia and snow in Russia, we’ve got snow in Australia and a heat wave in Russia. That should focus the mind but it doesn’t seem like anyone cares. The snow in Australia is like snow in Florida. It happens, but it’s definitely not a regular event, particularly not this early in the season where temperatures should be running at 20 degrees Celsius, not snowing. 

Meanwhile, a town in central Finland near the Arctic circle hit a temperature of 32.3 degrees Celsius on Friday. Everybody was in tee shirts and even that was too much. That town is a stone throw from the Arctic circle. In Russia, the city of Murmansk well inside the Arctic Circle was also into the 30s.  

Now that is not normal, people. Heat waves are not supposed to break records year after year in India. Rainfall is not supposed to be so brutal in China. We’re not supposed to have snow in Australia right now and we’re not supposed to be in tee shirts in the Arctic circle. The United States is not spared. There is no end in sight as record flooding in the Midwest and the South East United States mean the US has had its 12 wettest months since modern record keeping began 124 years ago. It’s never rained as much as it had in the last 12 months. Historic flooding and I mean historic flooding continues to saturate large stretches of land across the Midwest and the Southeast.  Rivers are swollen, reservoirs are bursting and there is more rain in the forecast while at the same time, the US administration is working to undo environmental protections. Impacts to communities, crops, infrastructure, and the economy are in the billions and billions of dollars. Billions in damages to homes, billions in damages to infrastructure, billions in damages to crops. Farmers in particular have suffered enormously. They are supposed to have planted by now 90% of American corn, but so far this year, just 58% of the corn is in the ground. That is completely not normal. The five year average before us was 90% for soybeans. Just 29% has been planted compared to the normal rate of 66% by now. That is not normal.

The abnormal climate impact is global. It’s obvious. It’s clear. It’s everywhere. As I’ve just explained, it’s in India, it’s in Pakistan, it’s in China, it’s in Finland, it’s in Russia, it’s in Australia, it’s in the US Midwest. It’s in the US South East. It’s in Alaska too. The wettest part of Alaska, the southeast region, has been experiencing a two year drought that was upgraded last week to the second highest level of drought severity, and that’s Alaska in a drought. Come on people. What needs to happen for everyone to wake up? The media should have a dedicated section of its front page every day reporting climate change. People need to know what’s going on around them before Big Oil, Big Gas and Big Coal finish all of us. And they, the polluters, must pay. We’ve got to apply to them the principle of paying for their damages. At the moment, they do not pay in any shape or form for any of the damages they are causing. On the contrary, we give them in cash and lives and health, 5 trillion, yes, trillion dollars a year. I mean, that really must stop

GENERAL ELECTRIC

Did you know that investors in General Electric lost a simply staggering, unbelievable, $193 billion, $193 billion, in just three years, 2016, 2017 and 2018, misjudging the falling costs of renewables and collapsing gas turbine and thermal power markets?

The market capitalization of General Electric or rather what General Electric is worth dropped by almost $200 billion because the company misjudged renewables and instead focused on building more gas turbines, turbines that burned gas to generate electricity. That was three quarters of what the company was worth, but it doesn’t seem to me like anybody’s learning from these lessons. The market capitalization of oil companies, of gas companies, of coal companies is going the same way. Investors need to wise up and exit the stocks before they drop dramatically, just like GE did. GE wrongly assumed that demand for natural gas and coal is going to just keep going up and up and they completely missed the fact that solar and wind power costs dropped so dramatically that they’re pretty much cheaper than electricity from gas or from coal everywhere in the world. They assumed that gas and coal are just going to continue to track global economic growth forever. I mean that is an epic failure of corporate governance. What were the Directors doing? And on a related note, what are the Directors doing at the oil companies, at the gas companies, at the coal companies? Aren’t they reading the leaves?

 

INDIA SOLAR

Investors that think oil companies, gas companies and coal companies are going to keep increasing their market capitalization should take a look at what is going on in India. India is now investing more in solar than in coal for the first time ever. That was the case in 2018 and what happens in India matters. India is the third largest emitter of warming gasses at the moment, and it’s home to one sixth of humanity. Aggressive policies are coming to reduce call to almost zero percent of India’s energy by 2040. What do you think that’s going to do to the Adani coal mine in Australia project a crazy project that makes no sense whatsoever? But just like investors in GE dropped $200 billion in three years, investors in oil companies and gas companies and coal companies seemingly are on track to do it again. To do the same thing again.

MICROPLASTICS

I’d like to touch on microplastics before we go. There was an interesting scientific paper published on June 5 called “human consumption of microplastics”. Now surely all of us would agree that we shouldn’t be consuming any microplastics. We shouldn’t be eating them, we shouldn’t be breathing them, we shouldn’t be drinking them. Instead, what this study has found is that we are all eating and breathing and drinking microplastics and lots of it, thank you very much. 

Up to 200,000 pieces of plastic particles for each human being on the planet every year to be exact. Up to 200,000. You are eating, breathing, and drinking up to 200,000 pieces of plastic particles each year. Every one of you. I am eating, drinking and breathing 200,000 pieces of plastic particles each year and that makes me so angry on behalf of all of us. All of that is happening because of the polluter doesn’t pay principle, which is applied to the oil industry. Plastic comes from oil, they manufacture it, they throw it at us, and then consumer companies in turn throw it at the public. Meanwhile, they don’t pay for any of the damages that occur when that microplastic integrates into our food, into our drinking water and into our air. That’s got to stop. Polluters must pay

Thank you so much for listening to me. The angry clean energy guy this far. Thank you. 

My hero of the week are the oceans. Yes. All of our oceans. Why? Let me give you three incredible facts about the crisis facing our oceans. First, plastic equal to the weight of 90 aircraft carriers is dumped into the oceans each year. Thank you. Second, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is three times the size of France. That’s three times the size of France in the middle of the Pacific Ocean full of plastic trash, plastic trash which of course means eventually microplastics which the fish and therefore you and me are eating. Number three, 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed from plastic each year. So the oceans are my hero of the week because they have put up with all this and they are still trying to fight it, but we have to help them.  The oceans do not have the self-regulating mechanisms to deal with our trash. They just simply don’t. 

My villain of the week is an interesting one. I’ve been in New York City for a few days and frankly my villain of the week, based on my daily observations, is every single New York City coffee shop without any exception. Every single New York City coffee shop that I walked into. Now why are they my villain of the week? They all seemingly have done away with plastic straws. That’s great you would think: I couldn’t really find plastic straws in the coffee shops that I have been to. However, they would still give me my iced coffee in a big plastic cup with a big plastic lid. They’re still giving me my plastic spoon and my plastic fork and my plastic knife, all nicely wrapped in a plastic bag and on and on and on. What kind of blind management is that? Focusing on plastic straws and ignoring every other piece of plastic multiplying through the store. And that was the case in every single New York City coffee shop I visited without any exception. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case in every single coffee shop in the entire country. So coffee shops get your act together. This is simply not good enough. 

Thank you for listening. Don’t hesitate to send my way questions you have about clean energy, climate change, the oceans, the environment, or whatever else you like. Stuff in the green space that makes you angry is always very welcome and have a great week.

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About Me

There is so much to be angry about, if you are a clean energy guy.

Every day, so many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us. And I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying.


Each week, I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about – and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar or wind power, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, wildlife, the oceans and other related topics.

Assaad Razzouk

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