Bacon Bits, Your Tasty Morning Info Treat

More hidden deficit spending. Virginia devoted 33% less to capital spending on K-12 schools (inflation-adjusted) in 2016 than in 2008, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That compared to a 26% reduction nationally. The cuts, say CBPP, “mean less money to build new schools, renovate and expand facilities, and equip schools with more modern technologies, further diminishing the environment in which teachers educate and children learn.”

The CBPP made no effort to correlate the capital spending with K-12 enrollment, which has increased only modestly nationally since 2008 after years of strong growth. Presumably, stable enrollment limits the need to build new schools. However, it should surprise no one if school systems were engaging in hidden deficit spending by deferring maintenance and repairs.

Best colleges for the money. From Money magazine, which considered graduation rates, tuition charges, family borrowing, alumni earnings, and 22 other data points to rate educational value: University of Virginia, 10th best in the country; Washington & Lee University, 24th; Virginia Tech, 29th; James Madison University, 39th. Four Virginia colleges in the top 50. Not bad.

What if there aren’t any fascists to fight? When there weren’t any fascists to be found at weekend rallies in Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville, Antifa, the so-called anti-fascists, found someone else to fight. Yesterday, I noted how they turned on the police. Today, the Washington Post’s Avi Selk details how they turned on the media. “Videos show Antifa members accosting reporters specifically because they’re reporters.” Antifa uses the cause of anti-racism to shield the fact that they are enemies of a free society.

Coal mines and methane. Three hundred active and 200 inactive coal mines identified by Climate Home News account for one-tenth of all U.S. methane emissions into the atmosphere. Methane has 34 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide.

Environmentalists have criticized natural gas as an electric power source. Although natural gas combustion produces less CO2 than coal combustion, the argument goes, when methane leakage from gas pipes and wells is taken into account, the natural gas supply chain is just as bad for global warming. I responded that the argument failed to take into account the massive outpouring of gas from coal mines, but I had no hard data. Now I do. Thanks Climate Home News!

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13 responses to “Bacon Bits, Your Tasty Morning Info Treat

  1. Gee, William & Mary conspicuous by its absence…

  2. Well, 57th not bad, right by Chapel Hill. But that high sticker price has to be knocking them down the list, as it should.

  3. I don’t put that much stock in the lowered capital spending…for K-12… At one point in the recent past – we were building a new school every year during the height of the housing boom – and we had the bond debt to show it. Now, we’ve not built a new school in years but we have renovated quite a few older ones which is a lot less expensive than replacing…

    And yes – UVA is a relative bargain compared to other schools but MY LORD – look at the number of blog posts attacking UVA for it’s tuition costs right here in BR. It’s been like an online version of an angry MOB … DEMANDING that something be done about the ABUSE! LORDY!

    Methane ? It’s everywhere.. we knew about it a long time ago from coal mining.. now we know it comes from livestock, landfills, and reservoirs…and thawing tundra.. we are doomed!

  4. Jim-
    Re: Methane sources, I would welcome an impartial review of all emission sources. I suspect that article does not qualify.

    Keep in mind unlike CO2, methane does decompose in the atmosphere, with a half-life of approx. 10-years (if my memory serves).

    I do see merit in reducing methane and other greenhouse gases where the emissions can be controlled.

    • Methane does get broken down over time. But we have discovered that its potency over time is much greater than we originally thought.

      Methan is now considered to be 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas compared to CO2 20 years after its release, and 34 times more potent than CO2 100 years after its release. I have never seen the degradation curve, but imagine how much more potent it must be in the first five years.

      Many experts think that the 20-year 86x figure is the one to focus on since the tipping point for climate effects will likely occur within 20 years if we don’t make significant reductions in GHG emissions.

      Many sources of leaks could be reduced with relatively little expense.

  5. Green Energy as “the silver bullet” for global warming is failing all over Europe, most dramatically Germany whose decision to go all green has backfired on the Nation and its people in every way imaginable. This includes defeating any chance that Germany had to meet carbon emission goals set decades ago. Plus these ill founded Green Energy standards are driving energy costs through the roof, threatening the living standards for the poor and middle class in Germany while dragging down the entire German economy.

    Meanwhile, the defeat of Obama’s green energy ambitions has turned America’s production into the world’s leading energy producer and exporter, generating for America enormous wealth, world influence and power, a critical benefit for America at a time when it is sorely needed.

    • We don’t have “green energy standards” in the US, except for renewable portfolio standards in some states. But the lowest cost methods of producing electricity in the US are from renewables (and energy efficiency), so I’m not sure I follow the argument about clean energy raising our energy costs.

      The greatest contributor to rising energy costs in the US will be increasing gas prices. Exporting gas to increase our wealth, influence and power will primarily result in significantly higher energy prices at home. This will reduce disposable income and increase business costs.

      I would like to better understand how you see that this will lead us to greater prosperity.

  6. The Money rankings are kind of puzzling. UNC Chapel Hill is right below W&M at 58th, but it is better than all the VA public schools on list price, price with average grant, % of aid provided in grants (rather than loans), and average debt at graduation. In price with average grant, it is significantly better.

  7. Posted on behalf of John Payne:

    My 2 cents regarding the coal mines / methane item this morning:

    “Climate Home News analysis of government data has identified roughly 300 active and 200 abandoned coal mines, which are the source of almost one-tenth of US methane pollution.

    Methane has 34 times the long-term warming effect of carbon dioxide and accounts for 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions”.

    Therefore, the coal mines are the source of a whopping (1/10th times 10%) = 1% of US greenhouse gas emissions!

    Furthermore:

    “Even as US coal production has plummeted over the past decade, and the number of active mines halved, coal mine methane emissions fell at a much slower pace, EPA data published in April shows. This indicates mines are not being fully sealed as they shut down.”

    With the number of active mines being halved the past decade, one can reasonably expect more mines closing in the next decade, and thus further reductions in methane emissions, even if at a slower pace.

    Additionally, the phrase “not being fully sealed” suggests two things:

    • that the normal practice, regardless of any regulatory requirements in effect, is that closed mines would generally be expected to be sealed.
    • ‘Not fully’ implies they may be otherwise ‘partially’ sealed.
    Therefore, as the portion of existing mines that are being closed continues to increase, the ratio of mines with higher emissions to those with lower emissions is decreasing, along with the total combined methane emissions.

    Admittedly the total methane reductions may be slowed, for example, if some active mines are expanded.

  8. I guess it boils down to whether one believes that methane is a threat. If you don’t really believe in Global Warming then talking about the “causes” of it are a parlor game…right?

    If you DO believe that methane is a direct threat to Global Warming then you see it as part of the overall discussion where we decide the various sources and what can (or not) be done about it – and you go forward on that basis.

    But again -if you really don’t buy the Global Warming threat – why worry about the relative contributions of various sources. It’s weird.

    • Both methane and climate change valid concerns. I don’t mind remediating coal mine methane if that is warranted. I also don’t mind understanding how much methane is coming from coal mines. But when Jim says: “Climate Home News analysis of government data has identified roughly 300 active and 200 abandoned coal mines, which are the source of almost one-tenth of US methane pollution.” I am not sure Climate Home News opinion (whoever they are) should be quoted. I mean if DoE agrees that is true, OK.

    • Exactly, Larry! Methane from farm animals is a surprisingly large contributor also. Not to mention that row of beer guzzlers at the neighborhood bar. Does it matter?

      One of the great fears of some climate scientists is that some of the enormous deposits of methane hydrate on the continental shelves of the World are becoming unstable due to warmer ocean currents. These solid deposits, which precipitated during the ice ages, contain more methane than the atmosphere many times over; and at room temperature break down into methane and water; the methane then bubbles to the surface. Except, because this is an exothermic process, the released heat accelerates the breakdown of nearby deposits in what can almost instantly become an enormous undersea explosion of methane gas.

      We have a lot to learn about the possible course of global warming.

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