[1THING] Blog

[ How Geothermal Could Cleanly Power the Planet: Indonesia’s Tale ]

The Earth’s heat could power homes and businesses worldwide, but it’s barely been tapped. Indonesia is trying to change that.

[ Cheap Oil Won’t Stop Gulf of Mexico’s Resurgence ]

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began April 20,  2010. The BP-operated drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers. Its fire is shown here on April 22, 2010. (John Amos, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began April 20, 2010. The BP-operated drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers. Its fire is shown here on April 22, 2010. (John Amos, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)

Neither low oil prices nor the worst oil spill in U.S. history seem likely to stop oil production from rising in the Gulf of Mexico.

That finding comes from data unveiled Tuesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which expects the area’s production will increase to 1.5 million barrels per day this year and 1.6 million next year.

The EIA attributes the increase to the long timelines associated with Gulf projects, some of which were launched last year and others are expansions of older fields. It says four companies—Stone Energy, Chevron, Murphy Oil and Hess—began five deepwater projects in the last three months of 2014.

“The relatively high number of fields that came online in 2014 and are scheduled for 2015 and 2016 production start-ups reflects the revival of interest and activity” in the Gulf of Mexico, says the EIA report. After the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, the worst in U.S. history, the United States imposed a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling that lifted in Oct. 2010 but left a temporary pall on development. Relatively few new fields were started in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Industry hesitation appears to be over. In the next two years, EIA expects 13 fields to begin, followed by eight in 2015 and five in 2016.

The EIA report says current low oil prices add “uncertainty to the timelines” of deepwater projects, putting those in the early stages of development most at risk of delay. “In an effort to reduce this risk,” it says, “producers are collaborating to develop projects more cost-effectively, to shorten the time to final investment decision and first production, and by sharing development costs.”

For example, it says Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips recently announced a collaborative effort to explore and appraise 24 jointly held offshore leases. The EIA estimates the Gulf’s oil production will account for about 16 percent of total U.S. production this year, rising to 17 percent next year.

Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to increase in the next two years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported March 3, 2015.

Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to increase in the next two years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported March 3, 2015.

[ How Volcanoes Could Help Power the Planet—But Barely Do ]

The Earth’s heat could power homes and businesses worldwide, but it’s barely been tapped. Indonesia is trying to change that.

[ BLM Colorado: lost in the wilderness on Tres Rios Plan ]

In the first of a three management plans to be released in 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Colorado missed a great opportunity to protect some of Colorado’s most treasured landscapes—including the Dolores River, lands surrounding Mesa Verde National Park and recreation hub


[ NASA’s Big Picture on Climate Change ]

NASA’s Big Picture on Climate Change


Visitors to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland see signs of a warming planet on NASA’s hyperwall / Erica Flock


When you hear “NASA”, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of the International Space Station, the Mars Curiosity rover, or the Hubble Space Telescope. These high-profile missions are all important, but they represent only a fraction of the US space program.

Because of its unique “big picture” view of our planet, NASA is undertaking extensive research on climate change too. Using a fleet of cutting-edge satellites and teams of scientists working around the world, NASA is showing us what we can expect on a warming planet. Here are just a few of the missions that are bringing climate change into focus.


Measuring Carbon in the Atmosphere with OCO-2

Measuring greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere gives us the most reliable predictor of global warming. Throughout the earth’s history, CO2 and temperature rise and fall together. Today, humans are adding significant amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, jacking up the earth’s temperature. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory, launched in 2014, is measuring this CO2, giving us a better idea of the severity of the warming we can expect. 


Picturing the Human Footprint with Landsat

How many trees are we loosing to deforestation? How much has sprawl eaten into our natural space? How long does it take for a forest to recover from a wildfire? What cities are most at risk from flooding? These are questions that the Landsat satellites have been answering for over the last 40 decades using the most extensive imagery of our planet ever produced.


Forecasting Drought with SMAP

Society depends on reliable, clean water supplies, but global warming is changing all that. In early 2015, NASA launched its SMAP satellite that will measure soil moisture around the planet. What’s so important about soil moisture? Ask any farmer: no water, no food.

In places like California, we’re learning this the hard way as drought threatens to cripple our nation’s “produce basket”. SMAP will provide us with more detailed drought warnings, among other applications. On a planet facing worsening droughts in the years ahead, it’s a critical tool.


Predicting Sea Level Rise with ICESat

One of the most alarming impacts of climate change has been the rapid loss of Arctic ice. As that ice melts, it raises sea levels around the planet, threatening many cities (and even NASA’s own facilities!). How much sea level rise can we expect? The ICESat mission, which is mapping polar ice using lasers, is helping us answer that question.


Want to learn more about what federal agencies like NASA are doing to study and address climate change? Visit climate.nasa.gov and globalchange.gov.

[ Teens Lead on Climate with ACE ]

Teens Lead on Climate


Guest post by Katherine Frazier-Archila of the Alliance for Climate Education

When did you first begin to care about the environment? Do you remember what inspired you? 

Today we face our greatest challenge as a world in addressing climate change. However, there’s a hopeful sign: recent polls have shown that young people, those who have the most at stake, are committed to lowering our carbon footprint and working for a fossil fuel-free future. That’s where the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) comes in.

ACE recognizes that young people have the most to lose when it comes to climate change, and the most to gain by fighting it. ACE teaches them how to take control of their future.

First, ACE teaches climate science that puts teenagers at the center of the story with live in-school assemblies that combine airtight science with pop-culture entertainment.

Second, ACE gives every student a chance to take action. For some, it’s a small lifestyle change like recycling or turning off lights. For others, it’s hands-on preparation for a lifetime of leadership.

This program model has proven effective. A study published in the journal Climatic Change showed a 27% increase in understanding on climate science after viewing the assembly. Also, 38% of students became more engaged on the issue of climate change and the number of students who talked to parents or peers about climate change more than doubled.

ACE students have gone on to testify before lawmakers, push their schools to cut carbon and take thousands of individual actions to limit their footprints.

In 2014 alone, ACE students advocated for a New York City climate education mandate, pushed for school districts to cut carbon in Nevada, and partnered with policy-makers to promote climate education.

Since 2009, ACE has brought its program to over 5,000 schools and presented to over 1.9 million students across the country. Now, ACE's new Action Fellowship program will provide an opportunity for high school students and recent ACE graduates to gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be lifelong climate leaders. As ACE Action Fellows, students will take action on local climate solutions and raise their voices for climate action.

While Congress and the media continue to debate the science of climate change, ACE and their student leaders are acting for a safer and cleaner future.

Want to learn more? You can follow ACE on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for their newsletter 

[ Corn for Home Heat: A Green Idea That Never Quite Popped ]

Some enterprising Americans burn kernels to keep warm in winter, but there’s a reason the green heating concept hasn’t taken off.

[ Privatization threatens your public lands ]

When school was out for the summer in the suburbs of Manhattan where I grew up, my mom packed our little Subaru hatchback with sleeping bags, a tent, a cooler filled with fruit and sandwich meat, hiking boots, rain gear, and three kids, and headed West.  Like generations before and since, w


[ BLM plan for southwest Colorado puts wildlands and cultural resources at risk ]

Jennifer Dickson

The BLM’s Tres Rios Field Office issued a final plan today that could have balanced a number of issues, ranging from wilderness-quality lands to oil and gas leasing to protection of remarkable cultural artifacts, inc


[ Reintroduction of Boulder-White Clouds Bill is No Improvement for Wilderness Lovers, Wildlife; Core wildlife areas at risk from increased motorized uses under the Simpson-Risch bill ]

Michael Reinemer

The bill, jointly introduced by Rep. Simpson and Senator Jim Risch (R), eliminates important wild areas that have been recommended for wilderness protection by the U.S.