The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

Sea-Level Rise in Miami

Something odd happens to the neighborhood around Marlins Park, Miami’s new $650 million baseball stadium, when you overlay 21st-century sea-level rise projections. It sinks below the waterline.

It’s a shame. The park has a retractable, cloud-white roof to shield players and spectators from the summer sun. It recycles, sips energy and water, and is plugged into public transit. It has 27 flood gates, and was built one foot higher than floods are supposed to reach in once-in-500-year storms. The total, publicly financed package, with debt servicing, could cost Miami $2.4 billion by 2049.

If the Atlantic inches in as projected, eventually it might not matter how many flood gates there are. Oceans are swelling as they absorb heat, and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have been melting faster since the early 1990s. Sea-level rise estimates for later this century have been revised upward, to a global average of a foot and a half to three feet by 2100, without aggressive carbon-cutting, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

South Florida is a national leader in understanding the changing world. But politics and even policy change much more quickly than bureaucracy. That makes Marlins Park a symbol for cities in transition, a future relic from a time when the people who could build really cool things worked more or less independently from the people who monitored how fast the seas were rising.

The same potential problem exists wherever cities are laying down infrastructure expected to last into the second half of the century. Boston’s “Big Dig” highway project, a generation in the making, wasn’t driven by late 21st-century storm surge considerations. Oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have never been built with permanent sea-level rise in mind. Another newish baseball stadium, Nationals Park, stands yards from Washington’s Anacostia River.

"Cities can't wait for the next crisis," said former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, by email. He is now chairman of The Sustainability Exchange, a business that works with cities to identify more affordable and enduring infrastructure projects. "They need to plan today for what we know we will have to deal with tomorrow."

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China Cracks Down on Illegal Wastewater Discharges

China Water Pollution

Bloomberg BNA — China hopes to deal a “heavy blow” to businesses that illegally discharge wastewater, Premier Li Keqiang said in a special State Council meeting on energy savings and emissions reduction, in remarks posted on the body's website March 24.

Li said the government would “crack down hard” on such activities by businesses and on local officials who have “ignored basic social responsibility and legal liability” by failing to provide adequate oversight of wastewater discharge activities of companies in their jurisdictions.

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Hearts of Darkness: Today's Top Reads

Good morning! Here are today's top reads:

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Wastewater Reimagined: Better Technology, Changing Climate Could

Bloomberg BNA — Virtually all of the water flushed down toilets and sent down drains in U.S. homes and businesses goes to wastewater treatment plants where it is cleaned up and then discharged into rivers, lakes, streams and oceans.

Only a small percentage is directly reused.

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High Cost of Climate Earns Exxon Rare Environmental Win

ExxonMobil

For years, Exxon Mobil has walked around with an environmentalist target on its chest. So it was news when the world’s biggest oil company by market value agreed to share its plans for dealing with climate change. A look at what we already know about Exxon’s climate strategy shows why disclosure may be a savvy move.

The chart below shows how companies estimate the future cost of carbon pollution. Right now, few countries outside Europe regulate it. That’s changing and is likely to intensify in the lead-up to key UN climate negotiations in 2015. Some companies use a so-called shadow price to anticipate the future cost from climate policy when planning new projects. Of 30 U.S. companies that use a shadow carbon price, Exxon’s is among the most aggressive.

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Bloomberg BNA — Exxon Mobil Corp. has agreed to publish a report describing its plans for a future in which market forces and stricter climate regulation may leave some of its carbon reserves unburnable.

Exxon Mobil is the first oil and gas producer in the U.S. to commit to reporting on its risks of stranded assets due to climate change.

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Bill Would Enhance Safeguards to Reduce Oil Spill Risks, Especia

Bloomberg BNA – In recognition of the increasing possibility of oil exploration in Arctic waters, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has introduced a bill to increase the Coast Guard's ability to prevent and respond to offshore oil spills.

The Coast Guard Arctic Preparedness Act (S. 2131) would require the spill response plans developed by facility owners and operators and approved by the Coast Guard to be updated at least every five years. The plans would need to incorporate best commercially available technology and methods to prevent, contain and remove a worst-case spill, the bill says.

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Poo Power: Today's Top Reads

Happy spring! Here are today's top reads:

  • BP's Gulf redemption may take decade to bestow barrels (Bloomberg)
  • A cold U.S. winter for sure, but eighth warmest globally (Climate Central)
  • California officials prepare for worst as historic drought deepens wildfire risk (Guardian)
  • Climate change fueled storms, rising seas cost China $2.6 billion in 2013 (Reuters)
  • Why pot won't help Democrats in 2014 (National Journal)
  • Alligators turn a couple's dream into a court fight (NY Times)
  • Air pollution may cause genetic harm in kids, China study finds (Bloomberg)
  • Monsanto, Natura taste the true cost of palm oil and soybeans (GreenBiz)
  • This new Hyundai car runs on the poop of California residents (Fast Company)
  • Fracking hammers clean energy research (Scientific American)

Visit www.bloomberg.com/sustainability for the latest from Bloomberg News about energy, natural resources and global business.

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Profitable Solar: Today's Top Reads

Good morning! Here are today's top reads:

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Oklahoma Proposes to Boost Injection Well Testing

Bloomberg BNA – Oklahoma oil and gas regulators have approved tentative rules that would require energy operators to conduct injection well mechanical integrity testing and other data-gathering requirements each day, part of an effort to determine causes of increased earthquake activity in the state.

The proposed regulation, approved March 13 by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, must now be approved by the Oklahoma Legislature before it adjourns May 30 and be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin (R).

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor
eroston@bloomberg.net

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor
trandall6@bloomberg.net

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