Daily Blog

Bushy Eyebrows and Climate Change - And Now, a Few Minutes with Keith Bailey


Rusty’s Introduction

As a general rule here at RBN, we try to avoid hot button issues like environmental policy.  We have good friends on all sides of these issues, so our practice has been to steer clear of debates where the relationship between facts and outcomes can be subject to so much interpretation.  However, today we make an exception for a blog by Keith Bailey, a highly respected leader in our industry who serves on the boards of MarkWest Energy, Aegis Insurance Services, Cloud Peak Energy, Apco International Oil and Gas, and by the way, was CEO of The Williams Companies when I worked for that company more than a few years back.   Today Keith contemplates the issue of climate change from the vantage point of someone who has been around the track in energy markets and thinks deeply about the big picture issues.

Bushy Eyebrows and Climate Change - by Keith Bailey

The first real sign of advancing age is when one's barber asks if you want the ears, nose and eyebrows trimmed.  The second may be when two friends suggest that because of your "experience in the industry" that you might like to do a periodic blog on their internet energy website. Well it was a truly Andy Rooney moment for me to be asked to be part of this publication and, just as Andy obviously did, I continue to tell my barber to keep his hands off my eyebrows.

Assuming this first attempt doesn't hit the cutting room floor, my goal is to periodically choose a subject that strikes my fancy and which doesn't, at least in my judgment, appear to be getting either enough or balanced attention in the media.  And occasionally, just like Andy, there are things I will just wonder about.

For example, one thing I’ve been thinking about is the weather this past year.  If you look at the numbers, 2013 is going to turn out to be one of the coldest years in the U.S. in the last 20 years. [Among other publications, The Standard-Examiner had an article on this a couple of weeks back.  Click here to see it.)   

Let’s look at some of the numbers.  The blue line on the graph below shows how cold it has been relative to 20 year average temperatures.  What is particularly fascinating is that this cold weather comes just after 2012, which was one of the warmest years on record (red line on the graph).  These temperature differences may look small on the graph, but just a few degrees in average temperature makes a big difference in how it feels when you walk outside, and also the impact of the weather on our environment. [Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/]

Source: NOAA (Click to Enlarge)

This year’s colder weather has been responsible for a number of interesting developments.  One that I find particularly intriguing is that the arctic ice cap grew by 553,000 sq miles or 29% over the past year.  (See: The Gazette: And now it is Global Cooling).   Of course that’s what the ice cap does. It shrinks in warm years like 2012 and grows in cold years like 2013.  It doesn’t seem like that should be a big surprise.  But apparently it was for some forecasters who according to the Gazette article have been predicting the impending demise of the ice cap. Some ‘experts’ had the ice cap gone in 2013.  Oops.

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