The proposed privatization of PREPA through LUMA is both an injustice to thousands of workers and their families, an attack on the energy justice of communities, and a perpetuation of the fossil fuel pollution that threatens the planet. Puerto Rico needs an energy change but LUMA is NOT the necessary change.
This is not the time for LUMA, it is the time to reflect and plan in advance for a cleaner and healthier environment, it is also a reminder of how minorities and low-income communities (in Puerto Rico more than 60% of the population) are forgotten and attacked by the type of polluting energy system that LUMA represents.
Climate change disproportionately affects those who suffer from socioeconomic inequalities.
A March 2019 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that minority and low-income communities experience 56% and 63%, respectively, more pollution, which is characterized as an "additional pollution burden.".
Puerto Rico has 44 coastal towns, more than 270 miles (501 km) of coastline, and some 1,200 beaches. 25% of our geography is flat land adjacent to the sea. Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes several islands (Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Monito, Caja de Muertos, Desecheo, and the keys that surround them).
New research says the total collapse of a crucial ice sheet in Antarctica could mean sea level rises 30% more than scientists currently predict.
The study, published in Science Advances, looks at how melting ice in the West Antarctic ice sheet will affect the Earth's crust underneath. Current predictions say that the ice sheet will raise sea level by 10.8 feet (3.3 meters) if it completely melts over the next 1000 years, but this study found that the onset of the bedrock could add a total 3.3 feet (1 meter) to current predictions. Furthermore, the models the researchers used show that predictions of sea level rise from the ice sheet by the end of this century could be 20% higher due to this bedrock effect.
"This will reduce the amount of accommodation space for water, further raising sea levels on time scales ..." says Bethan Davies, a glacier researcher at Royal Holloway University in London.
The climate crisis also affects coastal erosion by intensifying severe weather events. “Five municipalities in different areas of Puerto Rico had coastal sediment losses of between 40 and 50 meters due to erosion problems caused by Hurricane María in September 2017, according to a study revealed this Thursday. Mayagüez, Isabela, Dorado, Hatillo and Yabucoa are the municipalities that have suffered these losses of coastal sediment, according to the report "Findings of the state of the beaches of Puerto Rico post-hurricane María", by the geological oceanographer Maritza Barreto Orta. Professor at the Graduate School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico and director of the Institute for Coastal Research and Planning of Puerto Rico. "
“Some of the coastal areas of Puerto Rico that have been most affected by erosion are Ocean Park, in San Juan; Suárez and Villa Cristiana plots in Loíza; Fortuna, in Luquillo, Punta Salinas, in Toa Baja; La Boca in Barceloneta, Barrio Obrero in Arecibo, as well as others in Rincón and Humacao. "
Recently, Professor Méndez Tejeda (Rafael Méndez Tejeda, professor and director of the Laboratory of Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Carolina) explained that for more than 25 years he has studied global warming. This phenomenon translates into accelerating changes in the atmosphere, which has repercussions in transcendental situations such as those that have been occurring in recent years ... ”It is enough to visit the coasts of the Island —as in Arecibo or Loíza— to know we have a worrying coastal erosion. "
So the problem is more than evident, we are losing a part of our island and the unquestionable scientific fact is that methane, the largest component of natural gas, is a climate super-pollutant 86 times more powerful to heat the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
On our Caribbean island, the sun is undoubtedly a source of greater potential, the wind is also a presence impossible to ignore, and however, the LUMA proposal obviates these potentials and seeks to perpetuate the energy model based on natural gas. The International Energy Agency (IEA) declared that reaching net zero emissions by 2050 is a global goal.
In the report, they evaluated companies that were not aligned with the Paris targets, including and highlighting ATCO, the Canadian natural gas company that owns 50% of LUMA's shares.
Let's be clear LUMA / natural gas / methane must be eliminated now: How much methane, one of the most powerful sources of global warming, is there in the atmosphere that comes from the oil and natural gas industry? New research, published in Nature, suggests that natural geological sources make up a much smaller fraction of the methane in today's atmosphere. Instead, the researchers say, the methane is most likely attributable to industry. Together, the results indicate that we have underestimated the impacts of methane from fossil fuel extraction by as much as 40 percent.
On a 20-year time scale, a molecule of methane is about 90 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than a molecule of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that exerts the most control over future warming of the planet. Long-term land. Atmospheric methane concentrations have increased by at least 150 percent since the Industrial Revolution. Due to its power, the more there is in the air, the more difficult it will be to prevent the planet's temperatures from skyrocketing beyond global climate targets.
It means that oil and gas production has had a bigger and messier impact on the greenhouse gas budget than scientists knew. But the more methane emissions that can be attributed to human activity such as oil and gas extraction, the more control means that legislators, companies and regulators have to solve the problem, it means in Puerto Rico eliminating the LUMA energy model.
"So what we are saying is that the fossil fuel portion is larger than we think, and we can have a greater influence on the portion size, because it is something that we can control." says Benjamin Hmiel, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Rochester.
The rationale is clear, and unthinkably ironic, after Hurricane Maria, the island experienced the destruction of its energy system. Later, the good news is received that there will be an extraordinary allocation of federal funds to rebuild that system. The cruel irony is to invest these once-in-a-lifetime funds in a system that directly drives the crisis that produces hurricanes like Maria in addition to increasing environmental heat and coastal erosion.
Research led by the University of Arizona, published in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that more record temperatures will actually occur in the tropics, where there is a large and rapidly growing population. As the study's lead author, Xubin Zeng, director of the Arizona Center for Hydrometeorology and Climate Dynamics and a professor of atmospheric sciences, put it: "The second fact is that warming over land is greater than over the ocean." The question now is: Where do we see the most extreme heat events?
Over the tropics, where it is hot and humid, raw temperature data reveals smaller temperature fluctuations. But when the temperature is normalized, or divided, by temperature fluctuations over the same period, the data shows that the tropics have more normalized warming and are actually experiencing more record-breaking heat events.
This new perspective allowed Zeng and his team to describe the threat to these areas in a new way. "Temperature trends in the tropics do not need to be that great to break records and affect the environment, ecosystem and human well-being," write Zeng and the study co-authors.
This is important because marine heat waves are not well understood, but they would likely have large impacts on marine ecosystems. Zeng also publishes annual hurricane forecasts. He said warming oceans not only leads to more intense hurricanes, but ocean temperatures affect climate in other ways as well.
On May 27, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its 10-year study, which included dire predictions: There is a 90 percent chance that one of the next five years will be the hottest on record, and a 40 percent chance. that we experience a year with a global average temperature 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.
The WMO found that 2020 had an average global temperature of about 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. And over the next five years, the organization predicts that the average global temperature will be about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than pre-industrial levels.
The global warming that has already taken place may be even worse than we thought. That's the conclusion of a new study that finds that satellite measurements have likely underestimated the warming of the lower levels of the atmosphere over the past 40 years.
That means satellite measurements of the troposphere have either underestimated its temperature or overestimated its humidity, study leader Ben Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California, said in a statement.
In other words, the measurements that show the least warming may also be the least reliable.
More than a third of heat deaths in the world each year are directly due to global warming, according to the latest study to calculate the human cost of climate change. But scientists say that is only a small part of the total cost of the climate, even more people die from other extreme weather events amplified by global warming, such as storms, floods and droughts, and the numbers of deaths from heat will grow exponentially with rising temperatures.
Dozens of researchers who analyzed heat deaths in 732 cities around the world between 1991 and 2018 calculated that 37% were caused by higher temperatures from human-caused warming, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
That works out to about 9,700 people a year from those cities alone, but that's much more worldwide, the study's lead author said.
“These are heat-related deaths that are actually preventable. It's something we directly cause, ”said Ana Vicedo-Cabrera, an epidemiologist at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
Vicedo-Cabrera, A.M., Scovronick, N., Sera, F. et al. The burden of heat-related mortality attributable to recent human-induced climate change. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-01058-x
Climate change disproportionately affects those who suffer from socioeconomic inequalities.
Racial, social, and ethnic disparities in air pollution show that exposure to particulate matter is disproportionately caused by patterns called environmental discrimination and racism.
It is essential to ensure that communities bearing a disproportionate pollution burden have a voice in decision-making processes that affect their health, resilience, and vitality, environmental experts say.
The underlying message of the fossil fuel-based energy model is that these communities and people matter less than others based on a fiction of business economics. These communities are disproportionately victims of environmental hazards and are much more likely to live in areas with higher pollution.
Abundant data shows that low-income communities like Guayama breathe the worst air and have excessive rates of pollution-related illnesses such as asthma and other respiratory problems associated with the energy system. There is data of higher mortality associated with this contamination.
Annually, the oil and gas industry releases tons of methane gas and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, and low-income communities are disproportionately affected.
In addition, exposure to poor air quality can cause numerous health problems such as asthma. About 13.4% of low-income children suffer from asthma compared to just 7.3% of other children.
Science warns that the proportion of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased at a rate of ~ 25-30% per ° C of global warming after considering the analysis and observing the system changes. This has been balanced by a similar decline in the proportions of Category 1 and 2 hurricanes, leading to the development of a clearly bimodal intensity distribution, with the secondary maximum in Category 4 hurricanes. This global trend is replicated in all ocean basins.
The biggest storms in recent years were driven by climate change, which increased the amount of torrential rains. Future storms could be even windier, wetter, and potentially more destructive.
The researchers evaluated 15 tropical cyclones (which are called hurricanes when they form in the Atlantic) from the last decade and then simulated how the storms would have behaved during pre-industrial times, before the arrival of recent climate change. They also analyzed possible future scenarios, modeling what storms would look like if Earth's climate continued to warm.
The scientists' findings, published in the journal Nature, paint a sobering picture of a future marked by supercharged hurricane seasons.
The researchers investigated the role that a warm climate could play in hurricane force winds and rainfall, looking at factors such as greenhouse gas concentrations, humidity, and temperature variations in air and ocean water.
They found that hurricane rainfall increased under climate change scenarios, with Hurricanes Katrina, Irma and Maria producing 5 to 10 percent more rain than they could have generated under pre-industrial conditions.
Future storms are likely to get windier, with maximum wind speeds increasing by as much as 53 km / h (33 mph). Precipitation is also predicted to increase in hurricanes by 25 to 30 percent, if current emissions remain uncontrolled, the scientists reported.
Warming oceans is already recognized as a fuel source for more intense hurricane seasons. And rapidly accumulating evidence shows how climate change is directly affecting individual storms.
"We are already beginning to see anthropogenic factors influencing tropical cyclone rainfall," study lead author Christina Patricola, a research scientist in the Division of Climate and Ecosystem Sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said in a statement.
"Our simulations clearly indicate that as time passes we can expect to see even greater increases in precipitation," added Patricola.
More rainfall during seasonal hurricanes carries a higher risk of flooding in regions close to the coasts.
But the dangers of coastal life can also be intensified by another factor: the human transformation of rural and suburban areas into more urban settings. The scientists found that urbanization significantly increased the amount of rain that fell during the storm and also increased the risk of flooding.
The president of LUMA has said and repeated that LUMA will be ready to face a Category 2 hurricane. His statements are an admission of disability.
LUMA Energy Chief Executive Officer Wayne Stensby assured that they are ready to respond to a hurricane emergency "... should such an atmospheric phenomenon reach Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale."
The quote is taken from:
Stipulated: They are not ready or nor adequately prepared for the task even after a year of supposed preparations for which they requested payments in excess of $130 million.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an active Atlantic hurricane season for 2021. NOAA said it expects six to ten hurricanes to occur during the year, and three to five of them are likely to become major hurricanes. Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season.
By 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds 39 mph or greater), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds 74 mph or greater), including 3-5 major hurricanes (Category 3 , 4 or more). 5; with winds of 111 mph or more). NOAA provides these ranges with 70% confidence.
The expensive LUMA preparations did NOT meet the necessary mínimums in what is known to be a major priority (hurricane María).
From 1981 to 2010, there were, on average, 12.1 named storms, 6.4 hurricanes, and 2.7 major Category 3 or higher hurricanes each year. In the new period, from 1991 to 2020, there were an average of 14.4 named storms, 7.2 hurricanes, and 3.2 hurricanes 3-5 each year, according to data analyzed by Brian McNoldy, principal investigator at the University of Miami. .
Hurricane Hugo hit Puerto Rico as a category 3-4 in 1989. Since then, the total volume of storms is higher in the new 30-year period. From 1991 to 2020, those numbers increase.
Storms are getting wetter, because warmer air can hold and then drop more torrential rains, while hurricane scientists are confident that global warming is making stronger storms stronger when it comes to winds.
Over the past century, the water temperature of the tropical Atlantic has risen by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. With that in mind, it makes sense that global warming is causing an increase in hurricane activity and strength.
In this context, LUMA itself admits that it is not prepared, nor does it recognize that it is precisely fossil fuels, especially methane / natural gas, that are driving this trend of strengthening cyclones.
So science repeatedly proves beyond doubt that the social costs and environmental effects of the fossil fuel energy model imply environmental injustice.
It is not a mystery that federal funds are what the LUMA project is looking for, as expressed in Quanta Services documents in their messages to investors.
Doing good business in itself is not a bad idea, but profiting from a bad idea is never good business.
We must not forget the science: Methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45 percent in this decade to help meet global warming management goals.
Science looks at the air and climate pollution costs and benefits of methane mitigation and says a 45 percent reduction would prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion work hours’ losses due to extreme heat and 25 million tons. of crop losses annually.
How can it be a good idea to just forget about science and exploit public funding for the sole benefit of corporate interests while putting the island in grave danger?
Why should we act now and stop LUMA?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says updated indicators show that "climate change has become even more apparent, stronger and more extreme."
In a study published in the journal Science Advances entitled Cost-effective implementation of the Paris Agreement using flexible greenhouse gas metrics, Johannes Morfeldt explains, "The cumulative greenhouse effect over a 100-year period for methane gives a conversion factor of 28. This means that one kilogram of methane is 28 times more powerful than one kilogram of CO2. However, since methane has a shorter life and a greater radiative impact than CO2, the cumulative effect in 20 years is much more significant. : 84 times more than 1 kilogram of CO2. "By changing the time horizon, the conversion factor changes and, therefore, if a kilogram of methane is 84 times more important than one of CO2, it will be more effective to reduce global emissions by reducing methane.
On the island, both legislative bodies have called for the LUMA project to be stopped, the College of Engineers and the Puerto Rico Bar Association also, as well as a joint demonstration of all religious denominations and environmental groups, and thousands of energy workers, the same ones who heroically sacrificed themselves after Maria are losing their jobs while LUMA talks about a tax on the sun.
Many on the island wonder how LUMA can fit into the new energy policies and there is no logical answer.
If it is ever necessary to stop an inconceivable contract, it is now that the fate of Puerto Rico and the planet are in danger.
Cutting methane by 45% this decade would keep warming below a threshold in the Paris Agreement. Taking action has multiple benefits, including: rapid reduction in warming, which can help prevent dangerous climate tipping points; improve air quality that can save hundreds of thousands of lives; improve food security by preventing crop failure; and creating jobs through mitigation efforts while increasing productivity through reducing heat stress.
”Our analysis shows that 100% clean electricity from a combination of solar, wind and battery (SWB) is physically possible and economically affordable throughout the continental United States, as well as in the vast majority of other populated regions of the world by 2030. SWB adoption is growing exponentially around the world and disruption is now inevitable because by 2030 they will offer the cheapest electricity option for most regions. Coal, gas and nuclear power assets will be stranded during the 2020s, and there are no new investments in these technologies, from this point on. But the replacement of conventional power technology by SWB is just the beginning.
As has been the case with many other outages, SWB will transform our energy system in fundamental ways. The new system that emerges will be much larger than the existing one we know today and will have a completely different architecture that operates in unknown ways.
One of the most contradictory and extraordinary properties of the new system is that it will produce a much greater amount of energy overall, and that this overabundance of clean energy production, which we call a superpower, will be available at almost zero marginal cost at all times. much of the year in almost all populated places. SWB's disruption of energy will parallel the digital disruption of information technology. Just as computers and the Internet cut the marginal cost of information and opened the door to hundreds of new business models that have collectively had a transformative impact on the global economy, SWB will also cut the marginal cost of electricity and create a plethora of opportunities ...”
A growing number of frontline doctors and healthcare workers are turning to climate activism to urge world leaders to declare climate change a public health emergency.
Their demands for immediate action include a focus on preventive health care with educational programs in schools and the community at large, more equitable distribution and access to health care, reducing the carbon footprint of health care, and more control strict of industries to ensure clean water and air.
Underscoring the progressive nature of their platform, the protesters also called for the creation of citizen assemblies to guide strategic health decisions. Their demands were listed in a petition, signed by more than 1,200 leading doctors and healthcare workers around the world.
WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who welcomed the protesters, said that while "the pandemic will end, there is no vaccine for climate change." Later, he tweeted that health and climate change were "inextricably intertwined" and that the WHO would "stand in solidarity and urge global action" with the protesters.
In fact, the WHO and the prestigious medical journal Lancet have declared that climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century, a statement made even before the Covid-19 crisis.
Professor Valerie D'Acremont, an infectious disease physician and global health specialist at Lausanne University Hospital, is among those speaking out because "governments and the public have not understood the strong links between climate change and the loss of biodiversity and health ... We want governments to act,”she said.
“Many of us feel that there is no point in doing our job because we are fed up with always being behind, preparing for the next health catastrophe instead of acting on the root causes of problems. Covid-19 is an illustration of this problem ... Some diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases will increase more strongly, but it is more difficult for people to establish a link with climate change because they already exist, "said D'Acremont.
D ’Acremont said there was already a movement among the health professions to talk about the gaps in the health care system, although he agrees that climate activism among physicians is a relatively new phenomenon.
“Some public health experts were already saying that we cannot continue in this direction. The human side of medicine is being lost because the health system does not allow us to do preventive medicine. The system has to adapt and climate change is proving this point”.
During the pandemic, data confirmed direct links between global air pollution levels and Covid-19 outbreaks, with spikes observed where outbreaks were active.
This petition calls, first and foremost, for a pause to rethink the fundamental aspects of the energy policy proposal based on scientific criteria that include the social costs of the climate impacts involved and that it be widely discussed with the full participation of the communities.
The petition was originated by Roberto Ortiz-Feliciano, a Puerto Rican citizen and resident. All translations, editions, and texts are free and motivated exclusively by my interest in the public good and commitment to a better world. This petition as of Sunday, June 6, 2021 has been endorsed by 10,709 signatures.