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  1. This 2 degree limit tops everything I have ever heard about the warming frenzy. How arrogant can these politicians be. How can anyone think that they are so important that they can actually change the world’s temperature. For their short lifetime on this earth these people actually believe that they have had that much effect while science and other data proves them wrong. Simply appalling.

    For every fool that subscribes to the global warming frenzy there many others who actually have taken the time to properly research the subject. Information from our own US government proves them wrong. I guess I just don’t see myself as being that important. Of course I am not interested in making money on the global warming issue.

    Comment by David Kambic — 8 Jul 2009 @ 6:16 PM

  2. For every fool that subscribes to the global warming frenzy there many others who actually have taken the time to properly research the subject

    So you’re expecting us to believe that the climate scientists that host this site haven’t properly researched climate science, while you have?

    OK … what’s your tinfoil hat size? I’ll send you one, free.

    Comment by dhogaza — 8 Jul 2009 @ 6:41 PM

  3. Hasn’t Pielke published to the contrary regarding storm damage caused by global warming?

    Isn’t a 2C target too high? Even with large reductions by China and the rest of Asia, that is probably not achievable.

    Comment by MikeN — 8 Jul 2009 @ 6:55 PM

  4. David Kambic… go read a few articles about astroturfing. You’ve been duped.

    This is the company you keep.

    http://one-blue-marble.com/blog/2009/04/21/big-tobacco-big-oil-big-coal/

    Comment by Richard Levangie — 8 Jul 2009 @ 6:59 PM

  5. Peak Oil may actually help here since it’s a choke on expansion and economic activity. We’re going to have to do something and, at this point, all alternate energy sources are pretty much on the same footing. It makes as much sense to make a wind farm as it does to build a coal-to-gasoline plant.

    [Response: Yeah, but there's still the option of cooking ourselves burning coal to generate electricity, no matter what happens with oil and transportation energy. David]

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 8 Jul 2009 @ 7:20 PM

  6. David, not to pick on you in particular, but your remarks remind me of pilling our household cats.

    How could this be?

    Both cats require to given a pill each day. Without these pills, the cats will prematurely waste away and die. Each day, once for each cat, I grab a pill, lodge the cat in my lap, squeeze his or her jaws open, push the pill down-gullet as far as possible, then hold the cat’s jaws shut until I think the cat has swallowed the pill. Very often the pill reappears later, gagged up. The cat has no notion what a pill is, nor what will happen if it fails to swallow enough pills. It is untrainable in that way.

    To me it’s a nice model for how Gavin and others must feel, trying to get facts about anthropogenic climate change integrated into the minds of people who for whatever reason cannot or will not accept them.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 Jul 2009 @ 7:22 PM

  7. MikeN (3) — Given what we are seeing with the 0.8 K so far, yes, 2 K is much too high.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Jul 2009 @ 7:23 PM

  8. article in Spiegel the other day (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,634738,00.html) telling us, among other things:

    “But the Obama administration is realizing that ordinary Americans are adamantly opposed to their country becoming the global leader in a radical new green movement. A majority of Americans do not consider the climate crisis to be particularly important: According to a poll carried out in January by the Pew Research Center, only 30 percent of Americans rated global warming as a top priority for President Obama. The issue came last on the list of priorities, far below the economy and terrorism.”

    I have not been able to find the poll referred to, but the jist sounds about right from my conversations with Americans when I was living in Houston, regular people, good people, kind people, people who talk to strangers on the bus – and people who just don’t believe it is happening

    anyway … just for your interest

    Comment by David Wilson — 8 Jul 2009 @ 7:29 PM

  9. Very practical decision.

    Now the governments decide how much they want to cut (or not cut) by selecting the scientists that fit the bill.

    There are plenty to choose from: One group holds it for true that a doubling of the CO2 will cause 4-6 C temperature increase. They are out!

    Another says that doubling cause 1 C increase. They are in!

    Just wait.

    Comment by Knut Witberg — 8 Jul 2009 @ 7:33 PM

  10. Regarding pilling cats, another boring, repetitious feature comes to mind, that being the writhing and struggling and histrionics the cat performs as it tries to make sure it is not kept from dying.

    And now, here are the cats, waking up. Time to get out the pills…

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 Jul 2009 @ 7:35 PM

  11. I have not been able to find the poll referred to, but the jist sounds about right from my conversations with Americans when I was living in Houston, regular people, good people, kind people, people who talk to strangers on the bus – and people who just don’t believe it is happening

    You may be right. Humans have an horizon of concern measured in weeks, not decades. We’re probably going to just blow past the point of no return. If one were looking for a way to rid the planet of a pesky species, AGW is startling in its simplicity: addict the beasts to carbon energy.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 8 Jul 2009 @ 7:42 PM

  12. (The last cat I pilled died on me – but that (I hope!) is beside the point!)

    As has been suggested, anything we do to avoid (or not) 2K almost accidentally prepares us for life after the end of peak oil and the ravages of a sillier climate. So it is hard to find a downside to the necessary efforts.

    Even if we are aiming at the wrong goal, the journey gets us to place that is safer anyway, so its worth doing.

    The only bad thing to do – is to do nothing.

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 8 Jul 2009 @ 8:10 PM

  13. It is a first step, but what good is a temperature target without an accompanying greenhouse gas emissions target? The leaders agreed to a +2 deg C target but would not agree on emissions target that could limit warming to 2 deg C.

    Comment by Simon D — 8 Jul 2009 @ 8:16 PM

  14. The critical nation in the initiative to cut greenhouse gas emissions IS the United States. When it moves, others will follow. If it stalls, so will they. America must lead and I fear the American people and their political leadership have an astonishingly weak grasp of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders.

    Comment by Rob D — 8 Jul 2009 @ 8:33 PM

  15. This is a constructive step, but what we need is for this commitment to translate to an emissions budget that gives a low probability of exceeding 2 degrees. The proposed references to probabilities of exceeding 2 degrees in the draft UNFCCC long-term cooperative action negotiating text refer to 50% probabilities.

    Comment by Peter Wood — 8 Jul 2009 @ 8:43 PM

  16. RE: #8,

    I don’t think Houston, Texas, or anywhere in Texas would be a good indication of Americans’ attitude, or aptitude, on global warming. People know which side their bread is buttered as the saying goes. Houston is oil and gas. Weaning folks anywhere off carbon will be tough. Tough enough that many will chose not to believe and even those on the fence will not succumb to a perception of being lectured on what the facts are on the topic. They just don’t want to know.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 8 Jul 2009 @ 9:12 PM

  17. To me, this is not constructive at all; it strengthens my sense of despair. I do not see the good in this as long as there is no strategy to limit warming to 2 degrees C. I do not think we need a lot of policy; what we need is politics and thinking assumptions through. For example, for the last 30 years the best way to end a non-conversation with any mainstream economist was uttering the p-word (protectionism). Now, this begins to change. Personally, I am not for protectionism in the old style, but I am opposed to free trade also. I am a proponent of a multilateral world wherein trade works on the basis of bilateral and multilateral agreements between countries. This could have enormously (positive) effects on global warming, but it is something politicians cannot see. This is only an example between many. Because, in its childish simplicity, it is all too true what David Morris said long ago: he was eating in a restaurant in Minnesota, picked up a toothpick and saw ‘Made in Japan’, but Japan has no wood and little oil; so it’s deemed efficient to send wood to Japan as well as oil, wrap the one in the other and send it all over the globe. Meanwhile, a factory in Minnesota produces chopsticks (disposable ones, of course) for sale in Japan. The wood that Morris used as a toothpick traveled perhaps as much as 30, 000 miles. This is complete insanity. While we are at it, we need to rethink and reverse the global division of labour and we need to destroy speculative capital. We are not tackling the root of climate change and fighting carbon will not help. We need to tackle the whole economic and political apparatus and rebuild it so that both serve human needs. If something like this would happen, I am sure the population would be very welcome to do its part, while now Joe the Plumber doubts climate change and certainly does not lose any sleep over it.

    Comment by Will Denayer — 8 Jul 2009 @ 9:29 PM

  18. Climate Pearl Harbors that will actually get the attention of most Americans, not in any particular order:
    The price of bread goes to $10/slice.
    There are no oranges in the grocery store.
    There is no lettuce in the grocery store or at the salad bar.
    500 Million people starve to death in India.
    600 Million people starve to death in China.
    Produce formerly grown in California cannot be found. That would include fruits, nuts, and leafy vegetables.
    Wheat or corn production in the US drops below 30 million bushels.
    There is no more Prime or Choice steak.
    The salad bar at your favorite restaurant is empty. You can’t afford to eat there any more anyway.

    By then it will be too late. It could be a whole 5 years from now. The only way to avoid extinction is to move to Mars. Another thing that amazes me: Americans are afraid of nuclear power plants and not afraid of coal. Coal fired power plants make 40% of our CO2 and nuclear power plants make none.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 8 Jul 2009 @ 9:54 PM

  19. No negotiating, texas is always like this

    Comment by dofus kamas — 8 Jul 2009 @ 10:10 PM

  20. David,

    “Given the drought that already afflicts Australia, the crumbling of the sea ice in the Arctic, and the increasing storm damage after only 0.8°C of warming so far”

    Could you point me to something authoritative that shows how the drought in Australia has been caused by the .8 degrees Celsius increase in global average temps.

    Here in Washington State, everything under the sun has been linked to global warming (local TV and newspaper reports, seems like almost daily); and we’ve had a couple of cold years as I was able to confirm from a recent report from our state’s climatologist (not just my perception). I come to this site to try to separate what is real from what is hype. I can’t look at everything. It is just too overwhelming but you’ve printed a link between the Australian drought and the .8 degree increase in temp, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at that. I’ve found many stories but no actual science showing clearly the linkage.

    Thank you for your time,

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 8 Jul 2009 @ 10:13 PM

  21. 2 degrees would be the limit for being sure east antarctica will stay +- as it is, yes?

    Comment by jyyh — 8 Jul 2009 @ 10:51 PM

  22. David,

    Do you think that a 350 ppm CO2 target makes more sense?

    [Response: Hansen's argument for 350 is that it would stop the Earth from warming further -- he calculates the committed warming at our current 390 or whatever it is, then dials down CO2 until the climate stays as is with no further committed warming. Sounds very sensible to me. David]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Jul 2009 @ 10:54 PM

  23. With an 80% reduction in GHGs by 2050 we have a 50% chance of dangerous climate change or runaway global warming. That is far too much risk. A good chance would be 5% or less, I suggest. Obviously more work needs to done by the G8 and other nations on improving the world’s chances of avoiding both dangerous climate change and runaway global warming, but at least we now have a significant advance on the George “Dubya” Bush position of no substantial action on emissions reductions.

    Comment by Mark Andrews — 8 Jul 2009 @ 10:59 PM

  24. #20 Chris Dudley

    I think a 300ppm CO2 makes sense.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 8 Jul 2009 @ 11:05 PM

  25. Terribly off-topic, but will the “recent posts” widget on the right get fixed soon? It was and still is a simple SQL query …

    Comment by dhogaza — 8 Jul 2009 @ 11:11 PM

  26. I find it interesting that in this, ahem, scientific age, it’s an antiquated 17th century utterly unscientific economic system that’s holding us back. Men like Herman Daly and many at the British Sustainability Commission seem to understand this while everyone else just keeps whistling in the dark.

    IF we had a modern, sustainable, eco-friendly economic system the problems of GW, climate change and fossil fuel use could be solved almost overnight. The real outrage is that we do not have such an economy and we don’t even complain much when the dog we have that passes for an economic system kicks us in the teeth and makes us pay the repair bill AND the $20 billion in bonuses Goldman Sachs is paying its employees, and kicks us hard, real hard.

    But oh no, we like our 17th century capitalism, even though its plainly going to be the death of us and the planet. The mere fact that we haven’t imagined our way past our archaic economy, no, our obsolete economy, is living proof that we are collectively dumber than a box of bolts.

    ‘Tis a sad tale to tell. We’re all complicit.

    Comment by Sean Rooney — 8 Jul 2009 @ 11:35 PM

  27. 2 degrees is probably more than “enough”, surely?

    Here’s a fact to try and swallow:

    July 7 JGR-Oceans:

    We present our best estimate of the thickness and volume of the Arctic Ocean ice cover from 10 Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) campaigns that span a 5-year period between 2003 and 2008. Derived ice drafts are consistently within 0.5 m of those from a submarine cruise in mid-November of 2005 and 4 years of ice draft profiles from moorings in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Along with a more than 42% decrease in multiyear (MY) ice coverage since 2005, there was a remarkable thinning of ∼0.6 m in MY ice thickness over 4 years. In contrast, the average thickness of the seasonal ice in midwinter (∼2 m), which covered more than two-thirds of the Arctic Ocean in 2007, exhibited a negligible trend. Average winter sea ice volume over the period, weighted by a loss of ∼3000 km3 between 2007 and 2008, was ∼14,000 km3. The total MY ice volume in the winter has experienced a net loss of 6300 km3 (>40%) in the 4 years since 2005, while the first-year ice cover gained volume owing to increased overall area coverage. The overall decline in volume and thickness are explained almost entirely by changes in the MY ice cover. Combined with a large decline in MY ice coverage over this short record, there is a reversal in the volumetric and areal contributions of the two ice types to the total volume and area of the Arctic Ocean ice cover. Seasonal ice, having surpassed that of MY ice in winter area coverage and volume, became the dominant ice type. It seems that the near-zero replenishment of the MY ice cover after the summers of 2005 and 2007, an imbalance in the cycle of replenishment and ice export, has played a significant role in the loss of Arctic sea ice volume over the ICESat record.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009JC005312.shtml

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 12:08 AM

  28. How does this square with the evidence that the warming response is non-linear?

    Comment by John Gribbin — 9 Jul 2009 @ 1:12 AM

  29. Re: #1 David Kambic

    I find it instructive that in all the years and after all the post of asking people of your mindset to do so, not one – not one – has ever been able to post five scientifically sound, peer-reviewed papers on climate science that have not been shown to be flawed, in error or that have been replicable while showing clear evidence that the existing body of climate science is wrong.

    You see, this is what is interesting and what no denialist of any rank, privilege or position is able, and more importantly, willing to do: exhibit how the entire breadth and depth of climate science is wrong. All you do is pick at what you think is an area that can be easily exploited to create confusion.

    The troposphere study done a while back is a good example. Review here at RC showed the study had some serious weaknesses, but more so for my argument, that one study was touted across the deniosphere as a refutation of anthropogenic forcings and climate change itself. Such reactions are proof in and of themselves that the deniosphere has a bias that either a. causes them to be willing to lie outright or b. blinds them to simple logic.

    To wit, I have taught children as young as third grade students about the scientific process, and they understand it with no trouble whatsoever. They are taught that any result that is anomalous needs to be replicable by others, and if it cannot be, treated with caution. That is, it’s unlikely to be accurate. Also, if it stands it should not be treated as a refutation of all that came before it unless and until further study proves it out. More likely, it is simply an expansion of our understanding of the issue in question and needs to be assimilated if shown to be robust. But, as stated in the post above, this is rarely ever a refutation of an entire area of scientific inquiry. If third-grade students can understand this, why can’t the deniosphere, other than those that have been actively paid not to?

    Since science should always start with observation, as opposed to an agenda (disproving ACC/AGW), why is it that the entire denial industry is focused on disproving rather than proving? What observations do you offer that would encourage this other than claiming the last 3 years (2005 hottest) or last twelve (’98 hottest) equal global cooling when they are all among the hottest years in the last 2 million (a fundamentally flawed assertion that shows 100% ignorance, or willful disregard, of basic scientific principles, namely that a three – twelve year period is not a long-term trend, but is variability until proven otherwise.)

    In point of fact, I don’t think you can point to even one study, let alone five, that in any way does more than suggest a rethinking of a small bit of what we term climate science. To my knowledge, such studies simply do not exist.

    In order to legitimately refute the current consensus on anthropogenically-forced climate change, you must offer a theory to do most, if not all, of the following:

    1. Refute the Greenhouse Effect.
    2. Prove another mechanism for heat/energy retention
    3. Explain ice core data
    4. Explain changes in habitat/flora/fauna relationships, i.e. why habitats are moving to higher latitudes/higher elevations or flora and fauna or out of synch, or why populations are crashing/climbing for various flora and fauna… etc.
    5. Explain why the Arctic sea ice extent and mass have dropped precipitously since pre-2005.
    6. Explain net land ice losses in Greenland and the Arctic.
    7. Explain why the number and intensity of weather-related disasters has risen precipitously.
    8. Explain why the overall temp trend is up.
    9. Explain why temps are now higher than they have been for at least 2 million years.
    10. Etc., etc., etc….. (Perhaps Gavin or one of the other contributors could give us a list of key elements of climate change that essentially must be refuted or explained alternatively in order to “debunk” ACC/AGW?)
    11. Explain why the proof of climate denial by the GCC, Exxon, GC Marshall Inst., etc, is not pertinent and why, given that is the source of your skepticism, why this proof (yes, it is fact) does not affect your stance.
    12. Refute the risk assessment that: given temps are rising, given they will continue to rise for 1k+ years even if we had zero emissions starting today, given the risks of rapid climate change and long-term temp rises are real and threaten our ability to function as a society, etc., we should act to mitigate these threats, particularly since the actions to be taken will lead to a healthier existence for humanity even if AGW/ACC turns out to be wrong. Meanwhile, doing nothing saves us from nothing, but makes the negative outcomes not only worse, but certain.

    The above list is not exhaustive, to be sure, but until you can do at least that, don’t you think you are morally and ethically bound to cease and desist spreading disinformation?

    Comment by ccpo — 9 Jul 2009 @ 1:24 AM

  30. The reality is that we will be extremely fortunate to limit average global tempeerture rise to 2 degrees, given the lack of progress in limiting GHG concentrations. It has become the least worst politcially acceptable level. However it comes at an enormous price. At a seminar I presented at in November the Prime Minister of Barbados stated that “2 degrees is entirely uncacceptable because it spells disaster for my country”. It also spells disaster for the developed world, reliant upon the developing world for its resources (including food)and for the commercial markets it provides.

    Comment by John Firth — 9 Jul 2009 @ 2:17 AM

  31. The AGW discussions at the Convention have all the earmarks of an “Alphonse-Gaston” routine (but more tragic than comic)–who will be willing to go first?

    The “balance-of-world” side rightfully claims that Americans, on a per-capita basis, at least, have been responsible for much more than their fair share of the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere, including that deemed responsible for already measurable “ocean acidification”.

    On the other hand, Americans can be too easily (not to mention, conveniently) convinced that AGW may, in fact, not be real, but more likely the result of a conspiracy by s*ci*l*sts, Muslims, or foreign nationals (Russian, Chinese, Indian…) to overtake the USA as the dominant economic power in the world. At a minimum, enough seeds of doubt can be planted to greatly weaken any potential agreement.

    Do any of the words; stalemate, gridlock, Mexican standoff, etc., come to mind?

    Any fool can see that the “diplomatic” pathway will go nowhere when each side feels that they would likely come out on the short end of any agreement. Thus, any politician that actually advocates or agrees to anything truly effective and equitable, which can so easily (given the mentality) be framed as “putting the country at a competitive disadvantage”, will surely LOSE the next election–BIG TIME in the bad economic times that will surely prevail.

    So what is to be done?? –As it turns out, nature has provided humanity with an “escape hatch” from this conundrum, which is a means to cool the surface of the planet with the same techniques as nature uses to cool overheated tropical sea water. That response is to form a gigantic vortex we call a hurricane. These can transfer as much heat in a day from the surface into the troposphere where it is radiated to space, as the all of mankind uses in a year.

    The same phenomenon occurs on a much smaller and weaker scale, in the form of dust-devils or waterspouts, but involves the same principles. Obviously, in the case of tornados the dynamics can be much more complex, involving CAPE, as well as weather fronts, which neither of the first vortices mentioned normally require.

    As it turns out, there has been nothing of a scientific nature put forward as yet to suggest that it would not also be possible for man to create a stationary vortex, and to extract from the winds at the confluence, mechanical energy, which could be converted to electrical energy that would be considered to be essentially “carbon free”.

    I know that many scientists find it uncomfortable to be reduced to the state of looking for “lost keys” in the only place they could possibly be found, under the nearby “street lamp”, but, IMO the Atmospheric Vortex Engine is an extraordinarily bright lamp.

    With respect to further development, we appear to be in a “chicken-or-egg” situation. Funds are needed, but no funds are forthcoming because there is insufficient scientific support. Scientists are reluctant to support it because it hasn’t been demonstrated on a sufficiently large scale to prove it will work.

    What can be done to get the development of this technology off the dime and get it into the next developmental stage?

    Gandhi said–first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then You Win. In this case, if proven practical, the whole world would win.

    While I wouldn’t mind it at all if you good and descent scientists here at RealClimate were to skip the “laughing” stage and get directly to the “fighting” one, isn’t it time we get past the “ignoring” stage?

    The basis for this has been developed meticulously over the years by the inventor, Louis Michaud. Given the stakes, it seems strange that few, if any of you have gone over this with the idea of coming up with a fundamental reason why it WON’T or CAN’T work, if indeed, such a reason, perhaps due to some error in calculation, does exist.

    If none of you can (I can’t imagine that none of you would try) I urge you to discuss and present your findings to those further up the food chain, so that some action may soon be taken in support of this. A pronouncement in support of this by Dr. Hansen, for example, could work wonders in getting this moving. I’m sure he would find it preferable to standing in front of coal shovels.

    Even if moving it up that far isn’t possible, your own valuable words in support of AVE development would be greatly appreciated.

    Ref: http://vortexengine.ca

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:22 AM

  32. All that has happened so far is that a broad agreement has been reached on what to (epistimological) do and not how to do it ontological) and hence its just a broad agreement amongst the G8. China and India are as yet to get involved in any meaningful way and even if they are it will be a monumental undertaking.

    We all know that the world uses 30 billion barrels a year (4.5 billion tonnes) of oil and the additional equivilent amounts of coal and gas combined. If no agreement is reached regarding economic growth and world population growth and we just opt for the alternative energy to so the same amount of thinsg we do now then it is very difficult to see how it can be done.

    Any how to do it strategy will need to incredibly well funded (one hurdle to overcome) and takes it as red that sufficient alternative energy exists to not only replace existing electricity in use but also all of the oil in use and gas! In regard to the sensitivity of the earths climate to forcings is it still 3C for 550 ppmv equivilent or 6C as James Hansen has postulated for new boundary conditions he has spoken about? Are we to use all of the existing oil and gas and only replace coal with alternative energy making around a 450 ppmv limit of CO2 plus all of the other GHGs whilst eliminating all of the cooling agents.

    Lots of questions and few as yet answers from governments.

    Comment by pete best — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:47 AM

  33. Well, it would be nice, if this happens.

    However, peak oil means a double whammy – it reducec GHG emissions from oil, however, there is the danger, that we switch to coal-to-liquids, gas-to-liquids, tar sands and oil shales, just because increases in energy efficiency, solar and wind output are not enough to counter population increase, decrease in oil availability, and increase in total energy consumption…

    Adopting of 2°C means nothing unless we are serious with moratörium on new coal power plants today and on oil shales and tar sands… is this going to happen anytime soon?

    Comment by Alexander Ač — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:55 AM

  34. it is very likely that the current trend will continue with polar temperatures rising much faster than the rest of the world [two and a half times faster at the moment.] whether this will average out at less than two degrees is irrelavant what happens at the poles particularly the south pole is the crutial thing and what will ultimately effect the world climate.

    Comment by donald moore — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:15 AM

  35. “How can anyone think that they are so important that they can actually change the world’s temperature”

    How arrogant must someone be if they think that they can wreak damage with impunity?

    And this isn’t about controlling the temperature, it’s about controlling us playing around with it.

    Is stopping slapping you controlling you?

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:50 AM

  36. Approving the target is a great step forward. However, words need to be followed by actions that are not just half-measures but that will truly give as a reasonable chance to succeed.

    For anybody who is interested, you can read more about this here:
    http://www.cleanenergy-project.de/2009/07/08/now-is-the-time-to-pressure-your-politicians/

    Maiken

    Comment by Maiken — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:57 AM

  37. The 2 centigrade target is noble (though still dangerous as pointed out in this and other fora), but it very much remains to be seen that this threshold can indeed be implemented and maintained which would require a truly global concerted effort and understanding. History has proven us wrong thus far. Canada, for example, not only failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions a la Kyoto (which they signed), but they significantly increased their emissions from 1990 levels, largely due to oilsand developments. I also don’t see any Chinese plans to scrap their plans of constructing some 40 coal-fire power plants per year for some time to come. I have a, perhaps overly pessimistic, feeling that national energy interest and the mantra of ever-continuing economic growth will trump international agreements unless there are enforcable and painful penalties for non-compliance.

    Comment by Matthias — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:18 AM

  38. When will climate scientists in numbers understand that it is their responsibility to force political action?

    They should be before the public in the Press and on Television and radio making this the issue that it should be. It seems that only Hansen has attempted this so far.

    Nothing will be done until the front pages of the Press find this a more important issue than Michael Jackson’s passing.

    Comment by John — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:49 AM

  39. Edward Greisch:

    Sometimes sceptics say things like “the models say the oceans should have boiled off by now, but they haven’t, so the models are trash”.

    Seeing as no GCM projects any such thing, I wonder where they get that idea. It is easy to find the model projections, yet they invent their own straw men.

    Speaking of agricultural catastrophe possibly within five years and having to move to Mars adds to such confusion, I think. Let’s stick to what is actually supported by the science.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 7:03 AM

  40. @#8,

    A majority of Americans do not consider the climate crisis to be particularly important: According to a poll carried out in January by the Pew Research Center, only 30 percent of Americans rated global warming as a top priority for President Obama. The issue came last on the list of priorities, far below the economy and terrorism.”

    Maybe if we can get a famous psychic on Oprah to say he is channeling Michael Jackson and Michael says that Americans have to take action on climate change… Heck it might be worth a try ;-)

    Comment by Fred the Hun — 9 Jul 2009 @ 7:42 AM

  41. John (#22),

    The 2 oC number is coming after a great deal of political pressure from activists who thought that the science was saying that dangerous climate change starts after that. The science now seems to be saying that there are overlarge risks associated with that target. That is OK. Activists can adjust. They were successful getting to this target, they can work to get to a stronger target as well. It will take just about as long to do this, perhaps five to seven years, as getting agreement on the current target.

    Hansen’s work on targets has lead to a revision of activist effort towards 350 ppm. http://www.350.org/ My own inclination, based on the idea that we should unmake our waste, is that 280 ppm should be the final target. But, if we are to take a risk based rather than principles based approach, the target we select will be higher than 280 ppm. What then, based on risk, is the target to adopt? Perhaps 350 ppm is the correct next step and 300 ppm will follow as the science becomes more certain? So far, I know of a clear case for 350 ppm.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Jul 2009 @ 7:42 AM

  42. David Kambic, You’re right. You’re not important, but it’s because you’ve opted to remain ignorant of the science. Fully 90% of scientists publishing on climate related topics and vurtually all the evidence say the globe is warming and that we’re the cause. Let us know when you realize that you don’t understand the climate and are ready to learn.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Jul 2009 @ 7:57 AM

  43. I was going to ask if you could make the comment entry box larger, then I noticed the little diagonal stripes in the lower right corner. I didn’t know this was possible, but this site lets commenters enlarge the comment box, allowing us to see more of our comment while reviewing before posting – so we should have no typos, right guys? :-) I just thought I’d point this out for others, since I’d never noticed this before and hadn’t seen it at any other site.

    Comment by Jim Prall — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:00 AM

  44. @8 David Wilson:
    Pew Research Center and several other polls are discussed, for example, on Andy Revkin’s N.Y. Times DotEarth blog, 1/22/09 and 3/11/09

    Yes, the American public is not only skeptical… but INCREASINGLY skeptical. This may be partly because of media matters discussed by Revkon and also on this blog–polemicists of every stripe leap on any new scientific finding that seems to support their position. The news media inevitably featured the latest findings, inevitably unreliable (the oceans were warming! …no, they were cooling! …oops, they really were warming!). Many citizens, scarcely aware of the laboriously developed pronouncements by authoritative scientific bodies, take the matter as nothing more than partisan political posturing.

    Hmm, “preview” comment feature is gone, it would be helpful…

    Comment by Spencer — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:11 AM

  45. Sadly, McCain got 47% of the electoral vote and a large % of that total is made up of the scientific illeterates embodied in comment #1. All these fools have to do is sway another 4% of the know-nothings out there and it’s syonara to civilization as ya knew it!

    Comment by keith — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:11 AM

  46. This is a start – cutting emissions by 80% (90% in the UK by 2050) will not be easy. Could leave a big energy gap. What are the options:
    1) Nuclear Power – actually has a large carbon footprint in life cycle terms. Uranium is a limited resource – there could be supply problems within 20-30 years (see, http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications/downloads/Nuclear-paper8-UraniumResourceAvailability.pdf ) Major security issues.
    2) Renewables – solar, wind etc. Variable output – energy not always available to meet demand.
    3) Fossil fuels using carbon capture and sequestration – will be developed in the short term. Oxygen depletion potentially a problem in the longer term. These technologies will permanently remove oxygen from the atmosphere. Same for hydrogen fuel if hydrogen is obtained from regenerative methods – the cracking of methane.
    4) Energy conservation – important but will quickly be off-set by the demand for more energy if current rates of growth are maintained.
    5) New forms of energy. Space-time energy may be a possibility but little interest / investment in it to date:

    http://www.aias.us/

    http://www.aias.us/documents/miscellaneous/Spacetime-Dev-2.pdf

    http://et3m.net/

    “Spacetime energy is is the only energy source available 24 hours a day, that does not use fuels and other resources that are finite and limited, that produces zero emissions to the atmosphere, that does not produce other wastes that cannot be recycled, that is not toxic or radioactive or a danger (in any known way) to the environment or public health , that does not depend on natural processes that vary and are subsequently not reliable (such as the sun or wind), and is completely silent (and so produces no noise nuisance)”.

    See the last link.

    Gareth Evans

    Comment by Gareth John Evans — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:27 AM

  47. RE # 6

    David, my comment to you is entirely off topic but I was caught by your description of the cat medication process you use. I have been there and know how frustrating it was to medicate my pet especially when I know it is a matter of my cat’s survival.

    Try crushing the pill and mixing it into some tuna fish or like medium. The cats will love you for it.

    And, on topic,

    The G-8 decision to cap global temperature at 2 degrees while China and India refuse to enter any discussion on any negotiation on how to achieve that cap tells me what is becoming so obvious to those who follow climate change as a serious matter.

    It is too late to save the Himalayan glaciers and the next 20 to 30 years will witness the unhinging of South Asia’s civil society. Meanwhile the Southwest monsoon is late and not sufficient to fill the reservoirs Mumbai relies upon for municipal and industrial water. Thirty days supply and that part of India runs out of water. A new chapter opens for that finance capital while China, US and India dictate the future.

    We ran out the clock back in the 1950s and our children will inherit our arrogant stupidity.

    Comment by John McCormick — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:47 AM

  48. Ray Ladbury says:

    “Fully 90% of scientists publishing on climate related topics and vurtually all the evidence say the globe is warming and that we’re the cause.”

    1. What is your evidence for that statement.

    2. Then it is not 98% as Oreskes maintains?

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:49 AM

  49. Well this following comment has always got me into trouble. But here it is anyway. I don’t see a down side to the earth losing 1 to 1.5 billion humans. Since it appears it is we humans who are contributing to the global warming phenomina, why not reduce the number of humans in order to control the issue. And what better way than for “nature” to do it. Would be better than a political or military solution, albeit the natural progression would obviously lead to political and military actions.

    This comment is not to be confused with the religious right wingnut idea of the “rapture”. It is simply a normal response by nature to anything that tries to create an imbalance to the natural equilibrium.

    Comment by Randy L — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:54 AM

  50. #27 CCPO
    It’s possible that CO2 contributes about a .6C increase in temperature and that the effects of clouds acts as a negative feedback to moderate further increases. As far as I know all the GCM’s assume positive cloud feedbacks to get to some of the higher temperature increases. so it’s possible that that all the GCM’s may turn out to be incorrect. Time, more data and a better understanding of clouds will clarify this over the next 10-20 years.
    Thanks
    Edward

    Comment by Edward — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:55 AM

  51. Amazing amount of chaff and red herring being thrown.
    Must be an important topic.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2009 @ 9:31 AM

  52. #47 Randy L:

    Along the lines of burning down your house because it has a colony of ants living in it?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 9:49 AM

  53. #50 Doug Bostrom. Obviously you have never seen an infestation of fire ants. Are there other ways to control the ants? Yes. But if you refuse to use those less extreme methods then your only recourse may be to burn down your house. A sacrifice many of your neighbors would be more than glad for you to take in order to save their houses. But little do they know that it only spreads the ants further afield and now they too have the problem. If only they had paid attention early on and handled the ants before they became such an extreme danger.

    Comment by Randy L — 9 Jul 2009 @ 10:01 AM

  54. I see a lot of people here doing only one side of the cost-benefit analysis. The scientific community’s job is to lay out the probability distribution of outcomes for different scenarios.

    But you can’t just take that information and pick whatever CO2 or warming target you like. You first have to do something like the Stern review and work out the economics. I maintain this is nearly impossible to do well, but you have to try. So long as coal, gas and oil remain cheaper than anything else, you cannot glibly dismiss the costs of converting to something else. The conversion will create jobs and opportunities for some, but overall will involve quite some cost. If the conversion did not cost something, it would have happened by now anyway.

    As for the agreed 2C target: as others have said – I’ll be more interested when they agree on the means to get there.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 10:03 AM

  55. ““Fully 90% of scientists …”

    2. Then it is not 98% as Oreskes maintains?

    Comment by Richard Steckis ”

    Uh, fully 90% of scientists support it. And another 8% support it.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 10:16 AM

  56. I have a couple of questions:

    Firstly, 2 degrees higher than what? The LIA, 19th Century average, 20th Century average, or 21st Century average? Does it start now, or when the US Senate approves the deal?

    Secondly, is a 2 degree limit really possible without a reduction in growth?

    Cheers, Alastair.

    [Response: Pre-industrial is generally defined in these contexts as ~1850 temperatures, though mean 19th Century would be another reasonable interpretation. - gavin]

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 9 Jul 2009 @ 10:22 AM

  57. Why do people think that we will one day have to move to Mars to survive? Wouldn’t it be far easier to bring Earth’s climate back into balance than to try to create this balance anew elsewhere, especially on a planet with no magnetic field?

    I think that we need to instruct the public on the fact that Earth is our one and only planet. The idea that our finite resources can be used until they are gone and that we can continue to be irresponsible with what this planet offers is absurd and aggravating to real climate scientists.

    The cat pill analogy is an excellent one. (Except that some cats — or students in my case — are quite appreciative of the pill.)

    Comment by Todd Albert — 9 Jul 2009 @ 10:23 AM

  58. “Firstly, 2 degrees higher than what? ”

    The pre-industrial average temperature.

    In effect, the CO2 concentration above 280ppm that will keep the warming less than 2C.

    “Secondly, is a 2 degree limit really possible without a reduction in growth?”

    Yes.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 10:59 AM

  59. At this point any step forward to mitigate CC is going to be much too little much too late.

    That said, even little steps toward reduction, I think, may have great consequences. Once people actually start scratching their heads about how to reduce cost-effectively, they’ll find a bonaza of savings out there, then (this is my ardent wish) they’ll go on to surpass any government-set limits and reduce drastically, reaping in the $$.

    It’ll still be much to little much too late, it seems, even if people can reduce up to 80% within 10 years (it can’t be done overnight — that’s how long it took me). I think from what I know, the harms will be great into the next few centuries. But perhaps by doing do we may avoid runaway warming.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 9 Jul 2009 @ 11:14 AM

  60. This is an existentialist end-game debate.

    Do we change now to prolong the rapidly degrading lives of future generations, or do we give up and go fill up the Hummer?

    Or maybe just a little bit of each in each direction

    I’m gonna adopt a cat, just so I can pill it.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 9 Jul 2009 @ 11:23 AM

  61. Lynn, re 58: There are unrealised savings out there, such as through better use of fluorescent lighting, insulation, and simple conservation. Why are these unrealised? Probably a lack of awareness, the relatively low amounts of money saved by each action (electricity is cheap), and long payback periods – sure, installing insulation will save you money over the course of ten years, but what if you don’t want to foot the up-front bill?

    But let’s not pretend that there are so many ways to reduce both cost and emissions. Those actions alone will not do the trick; one has to be honest and see that many necessary steps will reduce emissions but increase cost.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 11:30 AM

  62. “But let’s not pretend that there are so many ways to reduce both cost and emissions. Those actions alone will not do the trick;”

    And you’ve done the sums to show this?

    I don’t think so…

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 11:37 AM

  63. #49 Edward: Clouds

    Gonna save us all? Keep dreaming. As usual a denialist pops up and ignores everything I’ve said and tosses out their talking point: Clouds! Bad GCMs, bad!

    You can disabuse yourself of this fantasy by simply looking at the world around you. The science starts in the natural world and it ends there. Mother Earth is talking to you with a sledge hammer upside your head.

    It’s time you started listening.

    Cheers

    Comment by ccpo — 9 Jul 2009 @ 11:48 AM

  64. Mark – What are your thoughts about the analysis by Ramanathan and Feng (PNAS, Sept 17,2008: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0803838105), in which they calculate the committed warming of cumulative emissions since the pre-industrial era as in the region of 2.4°C (with a confidence interval of 1.4°C to 4.3°C), based on calculating the equilibrium temperature if GHG concentrations are held at 2005 levels into the future.

    Doesn’t this contradict the analysis you point to by Allen et al and Meinshausen et al, both of which calculate a cumulative emissions budget that include substantial future emissions, to keep us within the 2°C limit?

    Is Ramanathan’s analysis too pessimistic? I can’t tell how they’ve accounted for natural removal by the oceans, and they do assume other forcings (such as cooling from aerosols) are removed.
    Or are Allen and Meinshausen too optimistic?

    It seems that, regardless of whether the 2°C limit is politically possible, it might not even be physically possible.

    Comment by Steve Easterbrook — 9 Jul 2009 @ 11:53 AM

  65. Dr Hansen sounds positively negative on all this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-james-hansen/g-8-failure-reflects-us-f_b_228597.html

    There are ways to move forward without all countries always falling apart on cynically doomed agreements bent on Carbon capping.

    I suggest renewables not yet invented. As I will propose soon one prototype (which theoretically renders current wind renewables as primitive).
    I believe that the solution is to render all dirty energy forms more expensive than new renewables,
    We should spend our energies not entirely on moving behemoth governments not easily motivated to change their convenient pollution ways, but on inventing newer technologies, like the invention of the clock, basically giving birth to new energy world order. RC should have a special section on renewables, because it turns out, renewables and climate science are intertwined a lot closer than you can imagine. Understanding climate intimitly makes one a great renewable inventor!

    Comment by wayne davidson — 9 Jul 2009 @ 12:07 PM

  66. Mark, Re 61:

    I haven’t had to; the IPCC WG3 and Nicholas Stern have done so. The IPCC report identifies how much CO2 reduction can be realised at no net economic cost. They are significant, but not nearly enough.

    Sir Stern speaks of having to spend 1-2% of global GDP in the near term in order to stabilise CO2 levels at whichever point he chose. That’s a huge cost. He says this is cost is worthwhile, as the costs of avoided problems down the road would be even greater.

    You can agree or disagree with Stern’s methodology (and there is much discussion on it), but for heaven’s sake, let’s not pretend there would be no cost in the short or medium term for reducing emissions. Oil, coal and gas are cheap; nuclear, solar, wind and biomass are currently more expensive. You can’t wish that fact away.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 12:09 PM

  67. Are you talking about post #57? Steve?

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 12:09 PM

  68. PS Steve #64, what do YOU think?

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 12:10 PM

  69. tharanga 9 Jul 2009 at 10:03 am

    “The conversion will create jobs and opportunities for some, but overall will involve quite some cost. ”

    An excellent reminder. Cost is cash flow; we’re not talking about sequestering money but instead changing the directions in which it is flowing.

    Changing our energy sources will involve changing the direction of cash flow, but no cash will actually vanish, not if a change in energy sources implies the creation of markets. That appears to be true; I have not seen any genuinely serious suggestion that we simply turn out our lights, toss our car keys in the trash and hunker down in mud huts. Rather, there appears to be a surfeit of competing ideas for products and solutions, all of which demand investment and expenditure of money. Even the dead ends will result in money spent and earned, and up until now we seem to have had no difficulty with letting things sort themselves out in that way.

    There will be losers here to the extent that a great deal of money is currently headed in the direction of a relatively few concerns as it stands today, with that money sooner or later heading somewhere else. Naturally those benefiting from the present arrangement are anxious about the situation. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain the status quo as long as possible, after all.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 12:16 PM

  70. Randy L 9 Jul 2009 at 10:01 am:

    Randy, my analogy was to point out that making our fate and letting it take its course is wrong; there’s too much collateral damage involved unless we’re ok with playingu the same role as a large, dumb rock striking the planet.

    Amusingly, I have spent an inordinate amount of time with fire ants and their handiwork, both digging them out of electrical panels as well as futilely scratching at their bites. I’m still puzzled about how it is an evolutionary advantage for them to be so psychotically aggressive; I suppose it’s something about dominating all possible food sources as well as trying to eat anything that moves. Where I dealt with them they eliminated both their larger cousins as well as most game animals plus snakes and virtually all creatures having no way of escaping them.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 12:39 PM

  71. The UK Guardian was a little less enthusiastic about the news:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/09/g8-climate-change-agreement

    The draft states: “We recognise the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed two degrees centigrade.”

    But unfortunately that doesn’t commit them to finding a way to prevent such a scenario from occurring. Also, defining the target in terms of temperature when we know there is a substantial lag seems to be quite useless. They should be concentrating on emissions and not effects that they can always blame on someone else if/when it all goes pear-shaped. Most of those involved in the negotiations will be long gone by the time such a temperature rise occurs, or maybe some of them will actually live to regret their inaction. Either way, I hope they can do better in December…

    Comment by Lucibee — 9 Jul 2009 @ 1:05 PM

  72. “Sir Stern speaks of having to spend 1-2% of global GDP in the near term in order to stabilise CO2 levels at whichever point he chose.”

    But the 12% GDP spent on the military isn’t considered lost money.

    In fact much effort is spent to make sure that level of spending IS spent.

    (I think that 12% is what the US spends…)

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 1:14 PM

  73. PS:

    It costs me £3000 to fit double glazing and increase lagging in the loft.

    But not doing so costs me more. Even in the rise of the sellable price of the house (how many TV programs have people spending £700 on paint and plaster to spruce up the house and sell the house for £2000 more?)

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 1:17 PM

  74. PS Thuranga, how much more money would be spent on oil if we didn’t change to renewables?

    If that is more than the “cost” of moving to renewables, then there is, actually, a saving.

    Or is there another method that isn’t

    a) moving to renewables
    or
    b) staying with irreplaceable fossil fuels

    and doesn’t cost more than either?

    Got the sums?

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 1:21 PM

  75. @ #47
    The answer is too long for this format and has been answered many, many times already, but here is a synopsis.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    An even shorter version is: It is getting warmer; CO2 is a greenhouse gas and so an increase in it will drive warming (logarithmically without feedbacks); we are taking many gigatons of C out of the earth and dumping it into the biosphere as CO2; the increase in CO2 and the change of isotopes in the C are consistent with the source being the fossil fuels we are burning. There are no other sources of the magnitude required.

    @ #48
    In nature you see boom and bust cycles fairly regularly. Well, most of the more serious ones I know of are related to man upsetting some balance; so, they are not strictly within the “natural” world. The problem is that the busts look terribly unpleasant to live through; most of the population suffers starvation and disease. Also, the populations tend to occilate(sp) around a natural carrying capacity; the highs are higher and the lows are lower. We may very well be heading to a Malthusian limit on human population, but I think it would be better to hit that limit softer rather than harder. The pattern seems to be that the greater the overshoot, the more precipitous the fall, the more damage the environment sustains, and the longer the recovery period. Sometimes the environment is so damaged that the recovery is yet to be seen.

    Climate change is having, or will have, the effect of lowering the carrying capacity, at least for normal human timeframes; so, that means that whatever the overshoot is, it will be greater with greater effects of climate change. I would prefer to live through a, say, 500 million reduction than, say, a 3 billion reduction.

    Comment by Chris G — 9 Jul 2009 @ 1:35 PM

  76. Mark re 72: That’s exactly what I mean by unrealised opportunities for saving money AND cutting emissions. The question is, why don’t more people do such things? I suggest lack of awareness, and high up-front cost/long payback period. In a recession, people might not make that investment now. Assuming you did not sell the house, how long would it take for those home improvements to pay for themselves?

    Mark re 73: I don’t follow. If coal cost 4 cents per kWh, and solar costs 20 cents, then where do you find a savings by switching? You switch to avoid future adverse climate impacts, but you save nothing up front.

    Doug re 68: Take it one step further. Yes, you are changing the direction of the cash flows. But to what consequence? The consumer pays more for what, as far as he cares, is a commodity: 1 unit of energy. The TV works the same, no matter what the electricity source is. That comes with an opportunity cost – he could have spent that money on something else. Everything you might do would cost a little bit more.

    How would you react if I told you that from tomorrow, you’d have to pay double the price for the exact same quantity and quality good you got before – say, for health care, or internet access? You would not see this as simply money flowing in a different direction, but you’d see it as a step backwards for the overall productivity of the economy.

    Likewise with energy. Deciding to pay more for something we already have (energy) would decrease overall productivity and thus economic growth. According to many economists, it is worth paying that cost, because the losses due to climate change would be even worse, but there will be negative economic impacts all the same.

    Some people will see net benefit, such as those with newly created ‘green’ jobs. But on the balance, there is a net cost. It’s worth paying that cost, but don’t pretend there is no cost.

    Mark re 71: The US spends 4% of GDP on military. Well, that’s a matter of priorities, isn’t it? I’m happy to spend 1-2% of GDP per year on reducing CO2 emissions. But to convince others to do the same, one has to describe the economic costs of inaction. Hence, the Stern Report, and other such works.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 2:05 PM

  77. tharanga wrote: “Oil, coal and gas are cheap; nuclear, solar, wind and biomass are currently more expensive.”

    Oil, coal and gas appear to be cheap as long as their actual, full cost is externalized and foisted on the public. Which is exactly the scam that the fossil fuel corporations have gotten away with for a century or so, to their vast profit, and to the grave detriment of everyone else.

    And you don’t even need to consider the current, and inevitably, astronomically escalating costs of anthropogenic global warming to see that — just consider the cost of the direct detrimental effects of toxic air pollution from fossil fuels on human health.

    tharanga wrote: “How would you react if I told you that from tomorrow, you’d have to pay double the price for the exact same quantity and quality good you got before …”

    How would you react if I told you that from tomorrow, you can no longer flush your toilet into my kitchen, but have to pay for a sewer?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Jul 2009 @ 2:22 PM

  78. “Mark re 72: That’s exactly what I mean by unrealised opportunities for saving money AND cutting emissions.”

    Well, maybe I was concentrating on the negative word “cost”.

    EVERYTHING costs.

    But, when we pay half price for a shirt, we say “we’ve save £10″ not “It cost £10″.

    Saying “changing over to renewables will cost” implies (unless you clarify) that this will cost more.

    When in fact, it will likely cost less.

    But still cost.

    Your folow-up using the Stern Report and saying “It will cost 1-2% of GDP” leaves out “It will cost much more if we don’t”. Again, implying by omission of that “cost more” that this is a cost that we will have to bear ABOVE any cost doing nothing will have.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 2:24 PM

  79. #63 – oops, I meant to address the comment to David and the other RealClimate folks. Sorry for confusing everyone (esp. Mark).

    Comment by Steve Easterbrook — 9 Jul 2009 @ 2:24 PM

  80. theranga 75 “According to many economists, it is worth paying that cost, because the losses due to climate change would be even worse…”

    Do you have any sources for this?

    Comment by Michael — 9 Jul 2009 @ 2:48 PM

  81. The political will to limit CO2 emissions does not exist in this country. It is hard enough to get people to pay for tangible benefits, let alone pay to prevent potential future threats like climate change. Increasing energy efficiency and weaning ourselves from foreign energy sources are causes that people can believe in. Adaptation will be the response to climate change. Whether we like it or not.

    Comment by Jim Heath — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:02 PM

  82. tharanga says 9 July 2009 at 2:05 PM

    “How would you react if I told you that from tomorrow, you’d have to pay double the price for the exact same quantity and quality good you got before – say, for health care, or internet access? You would not see this as simply money flowing in a different direction, but you’d see it as a step backwards for the overall productivity of the economy.”

    Doubled overnight? Very scary. But that’s not what’s going to happen, we’re not -that- stupid. Unlike gasoline prices, which did double practically overnight last year and did not bring the world to an end, the changes we’re discussing are going to happen over the course of years. Let’s not let our need for rhetorical impact infect our discussion to the point we’re in la-la land.

    Here’s something about which I’m sure we can agree: Fossil fuels will naturally over the course of time become more expensive, more so if we don’t bring other sources of energy online. In fact, fossil fuels will absolutely without a doubt more than double in price eventually, and they’ll do so faster or slower in correlation with how slowly or quickly we bring substitutes online. The faster we get other energy sources online, the more slowly will the price of fossil fuels advance. So if you like cheap fossil fuels, now is a great time to begin spending money on substitutes. More money will thus be freed up for purposes other than setting it on fire.

    As far as replacement like-for-like goes, a KWH of fossil-generated energy is inferior to a KWH of, for instance, PV energy. Fossil fuels are inherently filthy, cleaning up the mess they leave behind is expensive and ignoring that mess is no longer practical or even affordable. It would be cheaper for me to have my sewer ending in my backyard, if I didn’t mind the stench and disease and expense accompanying that economic choice; fossil fuel pollution is a little less obvious so we’ve been able to ignore it more easily until now. No more.

    “Deciding to pay more for something we already have (energy) would decrease overall productivity and thus economic growth.”

    We’re not deciding to pay more for something we already have, we’re deciding to pay for something else. In the medium to long run, we’re deciding to substitute something less expensive as a means for doing the same things we’re doing today.

    Again, all of this is inevitably going to happen, slowly, while curves for costs and prices are unavoidably shifting for reasons including those having nothing directly to do with combating global warming. There’s no avoiding it.

    Why are we so reluctant to do the necessary work in front of us?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:09 PM

  83. 38 tharanga: Sticking to science: Read “Collapse” by Jared Diamond and “The Long Summer” by Brian Fagan. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE!!!!!!!!! At least 2 dozen times. And the temperature change was a fraction of a degree! Agriculture just now collapsed in Australia. Last year Australia produced 1.4 Million tons of rice, this year only 65000 tons of rice. Australia had a wheat crop 15 years ago, but not recently. A few of the deceased civilizations: Maya, Anasazi in Chaco Canyon, the Caananites, the Vikings on Greenland.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:09 PM

  84. Secular Animist Re 76: That is absolutely correct, and is implicit to my points. The adverse effects of CO2 on the climate are unpriced externalities. Thus, we need government action to price that in. Though even with a carbon price, some alternative energies would still be uncompetitive, and would require further research and development.

    ___

    My main point is that we need to convince the public that we ought to take such action. The purpose of RealClimate is to educate people on the physics, but that is only half the story. After the physics comes the biology (impact on agriculture and wildlife) and finally the economics.

    You CANNOT assume that people will want to pay the costs to avoid a 2 C temperature rise, just for the sake of it. You’ll have to convince them that we’ll be worse off, economically, if we don’t. Moral arguments will simply not work for many; it has to be economic. Like it or not.

    We’re probably all more comfortable with physics here, but we need to read and approach the economics literature with the same critical eye.

    Mark re 77:

    I still don’t follow.

    Everything costs, and unfortunately, nuclear/solar/wind/biomass all cost more than oil/gas/coal. It’s simple arithmetic – coal is very very cheap and will remain so, unless and until you raise its cost using a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, to account for its ill effects.

    But it’s a cost worth paying, if you accept the Stern Report, which estimates that the long term cost of not doing so is much worse. I didn’t omit that at all.

    _____

    I’d put it this way: our choices are slower growth now (due to adopting nuclear/solar/whatever), or much worse slower growth later (allowing continued warming and its ill effects). To convince a sceptic, you’ll have to quantify the ‘worse’ part. To have any credibility at all, though, you have to acknowledge the upfront costs.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:26 PM

  85. Re #64. Hansens piece just demonstrates how intractable a problem this issue is but when you come down to it only 3 continents pose an issue on this problem. North America, Europe and Asia. If the new energy technologies were immediately for deployment and had been proven to be viable and economic then off we would go. However it does not look that way, we need efficiency gains in every area to go with new energy sources and it seems to be expensive and Governments seem loathe to reallocate GDP towards these large scale revisions in their political systm. From the trustable and well known fossil fuel lobbying to something totally new and odd.

    The sheer scale of the problem for the UK alone is just beyond belief. Our seas will need to have tens of thousands to these wind turbines deployed at several per week to do the job in time and only shallow offshore is viable at the present time and that is inline with existing baseload fossil fuel coal and gas fired power plants along with existing nuclear ones to. Phasing out coal in favour of wind might not be as easy to achieve in a time frame and viable political and economic way. We have yet to see anything but vague to plans for emissions cuts, no detailed plans of how to achive it!!

    Comment by pete best — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:38 PM

  86. Doug re 80:

    Point is, doing a “like-for-like” replacement (subbing solar for coal, for example) and paying more for it is a decrease in productivity, and thus would tend to decrease overall economic growth.

    Of course, in terms of impact on climate, the two are not alike. The issue is of time scales. If I build a solar or nuclear plant today, I pay a lot today. But I do it anyway, so that my children are not paying even more, 50 years from now, because of the effects of global warming.

    It’s because of the disparate time scales that the issue is ultimately difficult, politically. It takes effort to convince a human being to pay more now, in order to have some benefit in 2050.
    __

    I agree that oil and probably natural gas will become more expensive over time; simple supply and demand will see to that. In the absence of regulation, perhaps not coal; the coal supply is enormous and cheap to extract.

    But I don’t like my fossil fuels to be cheap; in fact I NEED them to become more expensive. Otherwise, there is no incentive for utility companies to switch to other sources. Oil at $137 is a beautiful thing for people working on alternative energy.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 3:56 PM

  87. > The political will to limit CO2 emissions ….

    Changes with each election. Change happens.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:00 PM

  88. #67 – Mark – Here’s what I think of it:
    http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=692

    Comment by Steve Easterbrook — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:09 PM

  89. Re #5 I think there is a good chance that Peak Oil could dramatically slow coal use within the next decade. We have to find low carbon alternatives regardless of AGW.

    On 2 vs 0.8C of warming I guess that depends on whether that is old style weather a tad warmer or an increase in extremes.

    Comment by Johnno — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:10 PM

  90. tharanga says 9 July 2009 at 3:56 PM:

    I see what you’re saying, in terms that work for an economist it’s a loss of productivity. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against economists, why some of my best friends are economists, but they have their culture and we have ours.

    Seriously, I wonder what happens if we work out the numbers? What’s the net effect on productivity over 5, 10, 20 and 40 years between torching a dollar versus investing it? Approaching an answer requires YAM (or Yet Another Model).

    Here’s a bunch of interesting stuff:

    http://realclimateeconomics.org/discounting_and_intergen_ethics.html

    but I don’t see where anybody has actually modeled the choice between burning a dollar now versus investing it in more modern energy sources. Is it actually reasonable to hypothesize (as I happily do) that investment of a dollar will produce a more predictable and even favorable outcome for productivity than combusting it?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:28 PM

  91. Chris Dudley (21, 40) — Based on some limited knowledge about glaciers and ice sheets, I am of the fairly firm opinion that nothing above 300 ppm CO2e preserves a “safe” climate, in the long run. That’s about the same as your 280 ppm CO2 (alone).

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:40 PM

  92. 45 Gareth John Evans: “1) Nuclear Power – actually has a large carbon footprint in life cycle terms. Uranium is a limited resource – there could be supply problems within 20-30 years (see, http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications/downloads/Nuclear-paper8-UraniumResourceAvailability.pdf ) Major security issues.”

    The source you quoted is very probably sponsored by the coal industry. Reference: “Google and the myth of universal knowledge” by Jean-Noel Jeanneney 2007 The original is in French. When you do a Google search, you get “sponsored” links on the right side and “non-sponsored” links on the left. The “NON-SPONSORED” links on Google ARE LISTED IN THE ORDER OF THE HIGHEST BIDDER to lowest bidder. Companies pay dollars to Google to get web sites other than their own that lie in favor of the paying company to be at the top of the “non-sponsored” list. Companies pay dollars to Google to get web sites other than their own that lie in favor of the paying company to be at the top of the “non-sponsored” list. Google search results in your getting nothing but corporate propaganda. Since the coal industry has a $100 Billion per year income at stake, they can and must share a lot of money with Google.

    1a: Nuclear power has the SMALLEST carbon footprint of ANY source of electricity. Wind turbines and solar collectors of any type actually require a lot more concrete per kilowatt hour delivered because so many of them are needed.

    1b: We have enough nuclear fuel for 5000 YEARS!!!!!!!! All we have to do is recycle spent fuel, breed thorium into Uranium 234 and use diluted plutonium as fuel. Don’t worry, power plants make the wrong isotope of plutonium to make bombs.

    1bb: Uranium can be mined all over the world. Australia alone has, did or could mine uranium in 2 dozen places. Egypt has 10 potential uranium mines. The US has many uranium mines.

    1bbb: Coal ashes and cinders contain so much uranium and thorium that more energy goes into coal cinders and ash in the form of uranium and thorium than you get by burning the coal. For Illinois coal, the coal for one coal fired power plant has enough uranium alone for up to 103 nuclear power plants of the same size.

    1c: Nuclear is the ONLY source of electricity that is cheaper than coal on a per kilowatt hour basis. Nuclear power would LOWER your electric bill by 30%. Solar and wind would multiply your electric bill many times, and add $10,000./year for batteries. Nuclear is also the safest.

    Books that tell the truth about nuclear power that are easy enough for anybody to read:
    “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by
    Gwyneth Cravens, 2007
    “Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy” by B. Comby. The original is in French Available only from: http://www.comby.org/livres/livresen.htm 100 Euros. Also available in English

    Better URLs on the subject of nuclear power:
    http://www.cleansafeenergy.org/
    http://www.comby.org/livres/livresen.htm
    http://www.comby.org/media/articles/articles.in.english/
    http://www.ecolo.org
    http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com
    http://bravenewclimate.com/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power/

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:44 PM

  93. In the news, everybody’s got a month to sharpen their knives prior to the Senate taking up the climate change bill:

    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/senate-to-wait-on-climate-bill-till-after-break-2009-07-09.html

    Comedian Inhofe makes this thigh-slapper remark: “So with this delay, the public should expect more arm-twisting and backroom deals — or, in other words, more business as usual in Washington.”

    I’m sure he makes that statement from a position of great authority.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 4:51 PM

  94. From Jeffrey Davis:

    “You may be right. Humans have an horizon of concern measured in weeks, not decades. We’re probably going to just blow past the point of no return. If one were looking for a way to rid the planet of a pesky species, AGW is startling in its simplicity: addict the beasts to carbon energy.”

    I think that with the political and economic headwinds at hand, as less expensive as it might be, prevention has become a hopeless goal. I think mitigation is the only thing to do. The trouble is, given the increased marginal cost of mitigation, the economic headwinds, and beliefs by many that scientists don’t have the climate thing right (per the great post of yesterday regarding Mooney’s “Unscientific America”) or that the Divine will simply “take care of good people” no matter, I don’t see pursuit of mitigation as being something people or politicians are going to back either.

    So, we are in a Cassandra moment, analogous to the few who foresaw the credit derivatives debacle, knowing Bad Things are coming, unable to convince people that they need to prepare, and watching it play out in slow motion. People will eventually mobilize — after enough body bags with Americans are filled. (They only put up traffic controls at intersections when enough are killed, don’t they?) There’s also the risk, a decade or two from now, of a backlash against scientists, as ridiculous as that might be: “Why didn’t you TELL us it was going to be so bad??!”

    I think we need more “before and after” pictures akin to the Arctic ice ones from NASA, except possibly showing coastal states and ocean states.

    I know it sounds terrible, and I wish it weren’t true, but maybe we’ll get “lucky” and an 1821-type Eastern seaboard hurricane will come long and WAKE PEOPLE UP? (This is even acknowledging that the causal tie of such an event to climage change may not be scientifically demonstrable.) That’s a heck of a way to pursue what should be a rationale response to looming danger.

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:13 PM

  95. I think we’ve already passed critical tipping points, so the only way to keep temps below the two degree target will be with geoengineering.

    75 Tharanga said, “The US spends 4% of GDP on military.”

    That’s only the base military budget, excluding the wars, nukes, veterans, and lots of other stuff. The US spends close to 10% of GDP on current and deferred military costs (deferred as in the cost of taking care of widows and the disabled)

    On costs of renewables:
    Oil has extremely inelastic supply. Once a well is dug, most owners will pump oil regardless of price. National sources, such as in the Mideast, need the money. Private sources, such as a Texas farmer, lose the oil if not pumped, since their neighbours pumps will keep going and the oil will migrate. Besides, the farmer probably needs the cash too. This means that if we reduce demand, the price will collapse. Remember last year? $147 oil. That level will return shortly unless we reduce demand. So spending a chunk of change on renewables will save plenty of money in the cost of oil. A reasonable policy would be to build up to a $125/barrel tax on oil, to be mostly rebated per adult citizen while concurrently dropping demand via the expansion of renewables using a chunk of the tax. Over the course of a few years, the price of oil would drop to $25, which is the cost of tar sand oil. This would deter new oil exploration. The same tax per ton of CO2 should go on coal and natural gas, resulting in a no-net-cost (except to the fossil fuel industry) way to switch to renewables. It’s a bit more complicated than this, but the math works.

    Comment by RichardC — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:24 PM

  96. Edward Greisch says9 July 2009 at 4:44 PM

    Edward, gross oversimplifications such as

    “Solar and wind would multiply your electric bill many times, and add $10,000./year for batteries. ”

    make you sound like a sponsored link. Why not stick w/the truth, or at least if you’re going to make comparisons keep them honest, or do the homework you need to perform to improve your credibility.

    Do you -really- think proponents of PV power are suggesting that every home will have a battery bank?

    For that matter, do you actually believe that the duty cycle and size requirements of an off-grid PV system require $10,000/year of operational costs for batteries?

    Why should I believe anything you say, when you’re slinging transparently inaccurate b——t like that? Either you’re making it up because you don’t know any better, or you do know better and are saying it to work your agenda. Either way, your credibility tanks.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:34 PM

  97. “Point is, doing a “like-for-like” replacement (subbing solar for coal, for example) and paying more for it is a decrease in productivity, and thus would tend to decrease overall economic growth.”

    Uh, paying subsidies for oil at the moment (to the tune of a trillion dollars for the US alone…) is a decrease in productivity.

    Since you don’t have to invade another country to control your own sunlight or wind or tides, this would represent a HUGE saving with all those unneeded tax dollars being spent not on one-shot (pun not intended) bombs and bullets, but spend in the US itself.

    Saying that changing to renewables will “cost” is misleading. Saying changing to renewables will cost more than staying with oil is not misleading, but may well be wrong, and at least is a statement that can be tested.

    So when you say the changes will cost, no changes will cost too.

    Which will cost more?

    And according to the Stern report, not changing will cost more.

    So leave out the weasel wording. Say what you mean and defend it.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:38 PM

  98. “I’d put it this way: our choices are slower growth now (due to adopting nuclear/solar/whatever), or much worse slower growth later (allowing continued warming and its ill effects).”

    But you only said the first half.

    Missing out the second.

    Comment by Mark — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:40 PM

  99. Re 55: “Secondly, is a 2 degree limit really possible without a reduction in growth?”

    It seems to me that an equally important question is: “Is undiminished economic growth possible with a 2 degree or more rise?”

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 9 Jul 2009 @ 5:45 PM

  100. Doug re 88: I don’t know about “culture”. Reduced growth is felt by all, economist or no. The issue is convincing people that having reduced growth now is worthwhile, in order to prevent worse things happening to our children.

    The link you provide discusses the major hornet’s nest opened by Nicholas Stern in his report: discounting – how to value future costs, now. That’s been a huge point of discussion, and I’ll not presume to have a handle on it.

    As for the maths you request: Flip through the Stern report, and you’ll see things along those lines. Such economic models are just fiendishly challenging, though – how can you predict the rate of technological advancement, for example? How do you predict the economic cost of damaged ecosystems? How do you predict the economic effects of ocean acidification? This is all harder than working out the radiative heat transfer.

    There is a reason I’m insistent on being up-front about the up-front costs:

    Polling shows that people want to take action on climate change, but they don’t want to pay for it. You will not get the political will for change UNLESS people realise that it will cost something in the short and medium term, and accept that it’s a price worth paying.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:07 PM

  101. Jan Galkowski (92) says:
    “I know it sounds terrible, and I wish it weren’t true, but maybe we’ll get “lucky” and an 1821-type Eastern seaboard hurricane will come long and WAKE PEOPLE UP?”

    What, another monster hurricane? That’s so-o-o 2005!

    Now, a catastrophic drought in the American Midwest, THAT would get people’s attention.

    Until it finally rained; then all would be forgotten again.

    Comment by Dan L. — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:11 PM

  102. Forgive the shameless plug, but I went into the lessons to be drawn from Ramanathan & Feng, and this recent NatureReports: Climate Change paper, in a lengthy discussion of emissions targets for New Zealand (we’re in the middle of a hurried “consultation” process).

    In my local consultation meeting, NZ’s climate change ambassador, Adrien Macey, provided a handy summary of the preferred international target: 450 ppm CO2e(total), 2C and 50% (global) cuts by 2050. Unfortunately, as several recent papers have shown (and I discuss in my post), if we are really shooting for 2C then we need to do more than 50% globally — more like 70% according to the NatureReports study. This suggests that the developed world needs to be heading for greater than 90% cuts by 2050 – not the 80% on the table at the G8 meeting.

    That message is not getting through to negotiators — perhaps in part because the current goal, however inadequate, is unlikely to be met at Copenhagen. To be optimistic about the situation we need to hope that we will be lucky, that (even more) rapid change will not happen in the coming decade, and that Copenhagen puts in place a process that can be rapidly adjusted to cope with more agressive emissions cuts when the body politic wakes up to their necessity.

    And all that’s before we start considering whether 2C can really be considered a safe target…

    Comment by Gareth — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:13 PM

  103. #1 “For every fool that subscribes to the global warming frenzy there many others who actually have taken the time to properly research the subject.”

    Wow! Not one, I repeat, not one published study stating that human caused global warming is false has held up to world wide juried peer review to the best of my knowlege. You sir, are being political or are extremely misinformed on an extremely dangerous situation.

    Comment by Richard Ordway — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:18 PM

  104. Why is everyone so concerned with the cost of things?

    I would bet that 95% of those who post here have adequate money to get by on.

    And those consumer goodies. Within my lifetime I have seen off wind-up gramophones (yes, kids, clockwork music!), electric gramophones, hi-fi record players, cassette tape, CDs, those i-pod things. (Have I missed anything?) At any point people were happy with what they had – until a new gizmo came along.

    Now there you are! Captcha says “borrowed fantasy”. Yes, the Credit Crunch was borrowed fantasy and we all fell for it.

    Comment by Theo Hopkins — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:20 PM

  105. Mark, re 97: When? My original post on the Stern report, 65:

    “He says this is cost is worthwhile, as the costs of avoided problems down the road would be even greater. ”

    Cost and Benefit. or rather, cost and avoided later cost.

    RichardC, re 94: I think you’ve confused yourself with some circular logic with your taxes and rebates. If energy source A costs $x/BTU, and energy source B costs $2x/BTU, then you cannot (in the short run) save net money from going from A to B. You would save money in the long run if source A is damaging your planet, however.

    Mark, re 96: Sure, those are other costs associated with using oil. If you want to somehow estimate those costs and add it to the ledger, it would change the sums.

    “Saying that changing to renewables will “cost” is misleading. Saying changing to renewables will cost more than staying with oil is not misleading, but may well be wrong,”

    I would have assumed that a reader would read the former to be the same as the latter, but fine, I’m agreeable.

    “So when you say the changes will cost, no changes will cost too.
    Which will cost more?
    And according to the Stern report, not changing will cost more.”

    Precisely my point. I don’t see what the disagreement is. All that you’re leaving out is the time scales.

    IN the next few years, cutting emissions will cost more than not cutting emissions. But some years down the line, not cutting emissions will result in costs which may well dwarf the current cost of cutting emissions.

    That’s what I mean, and it’s what I’ve meant the whole time. My issue is with people who don’t recognise that there will be net costs in the short term. Mitigation won’t come free in the near term – we will pay some costs, in order to spare our children.

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:40 PM

  106. Re Theo, 102:

    “Why is everyone so concerned with the cost of things?”

    IN the end, that’s what drives decision-making, like it or not.

    Some people might be willing to pay any price at all, in order to prevent sea level rise, ocean acidification, ice caps melting, agriculture and wildlife and ecosystems being disrupted, people forced to migrate due to climate, etc, etc.

    But to build the critical mass to change policy, you have to answer the question: Well, what would all those awful things cost, and how much would it cost me to prevent them?

    Comment by tharanga — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:45 PM

  107. Politicians agreeing to some target in 40 years time is not a step forward at all, it is completely irrelevant. If they agreed to a target in 1 or 2 years then it might actually mean something.

    Comment by Stuart — 9 Jul 2009 @ 6:57 PM

  108. Gareth (101) — Look how bad it is (for some folk) already with only 0.8 K rise. I opine that 2 K will be quite badf indeed. You might care to see what Mark Lynas states about 2 K in his “Six Degrees”.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Jul 2009 @ 7:04 PM

  109. OK, who can talk me off the ledge?

    2C? The world is going to set a hard ceiling of 2c? With treaties?

    Holy s***. Certainly I am not the only one who sees how frackin’ stupid this is. What convenient estimate was used to guarantee this result?

    I’m losing hope, folks. I think we’re headed for 5C+ by 2100 with this kind of bogus political goal setting. Somebody please show me I’m wrong.

    Comment by Dan L. — 9 Jul 2009 @ 7:15 PM

  110. #1

    I agree. It’s fine for climate to have a high public profile, however, it should be unbiased.

    For example, we never hear about the fundamental assumption. Elements of the fundamental assumption have been discussed on this blog, but that is as far as it goes for the general public. It’s never news worthy! No glossy graphics describing the big IF on the nightly news.

    Why don’t we break down the fundamental assumption into it’s basic elements. What is known and what is unknown, and the relationships in between.

    Comment by isotopious — 9 Jul 2009 @ 7:25 PM

  111. haranga says:
    9 July 2009 at 6:07 PM

    “I don’t know about “culture”. Reduced growth is felt by all, economist or no. The issue is convincing people that having reduced growth now is worthwhile, in order to prevent worse things happening to our children.”

    Sorry, I was being tongue-in-cheek about “the dismal science” and its practitioners.

    Opinion samples usually reveal a reluctance to pay for dimly perceived objectives, absolutely true, and even trying to tease out a thread of self-consistency from public opinions about such matters is sometimes impossible. As an example, looking at mitigation of household lead dust from paint reveals just such problems, that example affecting in particular poorer households. Parents in such households on the one hand are quite certain their children need protection, but equally they balk when confronted with the costs of mitigation. Simultaneously, many such households entertain levels of discretionary spending that, if adjusted, will help offset mitigation costs. It’s not a feature of being poor; we don’t think clearly about these things.

    At root I’m not qualified to argue with actual economists, but I’ll hazard a guess that, just as with CFCs, tetraethyl lead and a host of other examples, the increased costs associated w/controlling carbon emissions will quickly be lost in the general noise level of economic statistics. More, I’ll double down by speculating there will be a distinct net benefit by so doing in terms of stabilizing hydrocarbon costs in the relatively near future, that benefit having nothing to do with climate control in particular.

    It’s worth remembering that smaller yet still bulky analogues of what we’re discussing are relatively abundant in recent history (CFCs, tetraethyl lead, others). In all cases, those with a fiduciary charge to protect their investors ultimately resorted to exaggerated claims about costs, relying on public fear to help slow the rate of policy response. In every one of those examples we find that no existential damage was done to anybody. Except in the bookkeeping of a relatively few concerns the effects were not particularly visible in the noise of our economic machine.

    This is a larger problem. For existing and still-to-be-minted economists I’m sure it will represent a rich feeding ground as signals emerge from financial statistics. Though features of the problem are larger they are yet still familiar from experience, including the exploitation of public fears of costs.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:14 PM

  112. Richard Ordway says:

    “Wow! Not one, I repeat, not one published study stating that human caused global warming is false has held up to world wide juried peer review to the best of my knowlege.”

    [edit] What is a “world wide juried peer review”?

    [edit -ok, enough on this now]

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:19 PM

  113. David BB @ #107:

    Read the Lynas a long time ago. Check out the graph from Ramanathan & Feng. It’s a powerful argument against complacency. And that’s before we start talking about positive feedbacks in the carbon cycle…

    Comment by Gareth — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:29 PM

  114. Re 109: “The fundamental assumption????” Are you referring to the reality of physical existence or to some other less fundamental fundamental assumption?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 9 Jul 2009 @ 8:30 PM

  115. Hansen article Huffpost: http://climateprogress.org/2009/07/09/nasas-james-hansen-pushes-false-misleading-and-pointless-attack-on-u-s-climate-action/

    Romm: http://climateprogress.org/2009/07/09/nasas-james-hansen-pushes-false-misleading-and-pointless-attack-on-u-s-climate-action/

    Comment by francois — 9 Jul 2009 @ 9:24 PM

  116. (arrgh)

    Hansen’s article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-james-hansen/g-8-failure-reflects-us-f_b_228597.html

    captcha: dedicate 45,

    Comment by francois — 9 Jul 2009 @ 9:26 PM

  117. #113

    “Are you referring to the reality of physical existence or to some other less fundamental fundamental assumption?”

    Interesting question. I think it is wise to remind you all, in the context of climate science, ‘the reality of physical existence’ is accepted.

    For clarity, there is a fundamental assumption on which the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is based.

    [moderator: enough of this nonsense. no more please. ]

    Comment by isotopious — 9 Jul 2009 @ 9:29 PM

  118. I think it is wise to remind you all… ‘the reality of physical existence’ is accepted.

    Good deal.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 9 Jul 2009 @ 9:47 PM

  119. Re 92, Edward Greisch – from what I’ve read recently, nuclear, solar, and wind are about the same in CO2 output per unit energy, although I once read that solar put out less CO2 than nuclear. Is it necessary to use a lot of cement with solar? Aside from the lime that goes into glass, that is (which might not be used in all solar panels). The CO2 emissions should actually decline (presumably for all of the above) as clean energy takes over, since clean energy will be used to create clean energy devices, althouth there may be some C necessary for some material processes, but biochar and carbonate mineral production might be used to offset emissions.

    (PS solar energy payback time could be analogous to the energy used in conventional power plants (difference between gross and net generation).

    Solar doesn’t generally need a lot of water, though it depends on the technology. How much water does nuclear use? For one solar thermal to electrical energy plant I looked up, the energy used by desalinating and pumping vertically 1000 m an equivalent amount of water as used by the plant would be a tiny fraction of the energy output, and less per unit area of the plant than rainfall even in most arid regions so far as I know, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

    I was trying to estimate the mining footprints of solar and nuclear, and came up with some very tentative rough estimates that ore input for solar energy might have an energy density (per unit mass) ~ 5 to 80 times coal, while nuclear (convential US fuel cycle) may be ~ 20 times coal – on the solar side, this doesn’t include some balance of system components, and on the nuclear side, it only includes the U, but on the solar side, the actual energy density could get much higher with recycling of the same material into multiple successive generations of solar energy devices, and on the nuclear side, breeder reactors. It also doesn’t include cogeneration (hybrid systems) for any of the three (solar, nuclear, coal)

    PS I’m not antinuclear, but I’m not pronuclear either. But it is certainly interesting that the Pu in the fuel cycle you refered to is less of a security risk than I would have guessed (but there is the issue of dirty you-know-whats). A somewhat farfetched idea I had was that maybe nuclear fuel cycles could be developed that produced stable isotopes of Ga,In,Rh,Ru,Pd,Ag,Te,Xe,Re,Ir,Pt, and/or Au, etc. (some of those would be helpful to the solar cell industry) – this would indirectly reduce the mining footpring of nuclear power. On the other hand, use of common rock for seasonal thermal storage of solar power might be used to manufacture ores over time…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 Jul 2009 @ 11:04 PM

  120. 54 tharanga; How do you do a cost-benefit analysis of a collapse of civilization or the extinction of your own species? Economics is useless because the cost of a collapse of civilization is nearly infinite and the cost of the extinction of Homo Sapiens is infinite if you are a human. Economics assumes the existence of money and people. Either a collapse of civilization or the extinction of Homo Sap eliminates money. Therefore, a cost-benefit analysis is meaningless.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:06 AM

  121. 57 Todd Albert : 20 people or fewer might survive on Mars. If more than that move there, Mars won’t be able to support them. If anybody other than scientists move to Mars, they will make a mess of Mars and cause the Mars colony to die as well.

    The point is that the average person on Earth won’t understand the need to change until it is too late. Nothing will be done to save people on Earth because the scientists are not in charge. 6.7 Billion people will die on Earth. “WE” don’t get to move to Mars. Only astronauts with post-doctoral degrees in science will be stranded on Mars by accident. An intentional colony is too far in the future.

    It would certainly be far less painful to save Earth. I doubt that it will be done, again considering the average person and the political process.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:23 AM

  122. Re: 119, Patrick 027:

    “Solar doesn’t generally need a lot of water…”

    It does depend upon the technology, but for example, the concentrated solar power plants proposed for Ivanpah Valley in the Mojave Desert would use about 100 acre feet of water a year — but most of that would be not in power productions but used to wash the mirrors:

    “Each plant uses an air-cooled condenser or ‘dry cooling,’ to minimize water usage in the site’s desert environment. Water consumption would therefore, be mainly to provide water for washing heliostats.”

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ivanpah/index.html

    Captcha: $1.5 want

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:33 AM

  123. David (in #22),

    As I read Hansen, http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf the 350 ppm target is aimed at stabilizing the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica. Restoring Arctic sea ice requires a target between 300 and 325 ppm and avoiding stress on coral reefs wants about the same range. So, I think he is considering not just stabilizing at committed warming but actually avoiding some of that. The “irreversible” aspects of climate change are only so if we fail to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, something that these targets imply. Does that seem like a reasonable reading?

    [Response: I don't recall his paper at this level of detail but the Arctic sea ice and the coral reefs are already being hurt, although in the case of corals they're also impacted by local pollution and fishing and ocean pH. So it makes sense to me that a target CO2 with respect to these issues might be lower than the number that stuck in my head from his paper, 350 ppm. As for irreversible, if an ice sheet starts flowing, or if an albedo change from sea ice gets locked in, I could imagine a climate change being essentially irreversible even if CO2 was brought back down, but it's just speculation, nothing more. David]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:37 AM

  124. 96 Doug Bostrom: Go ahead and try it right now. Get off the grid. Build a wind turbine or a solar collector. To maintain your current lifestyle, you are going to need a lot more batteries than you can afford. I did the calculation for the current price of lead-acid batteries. My house would need $50,000 worth, given my air conditioning bill, etc.. Car batteries last about 5 years. That makes batteries cost $10,000. per year. And by the way, if you go with photovoltaics at the current price without subsidy, you would be raising the price of a $150,000 house by $1 Million.
    Go ahead and do it to your house right now. I double dare you.

    “Do you -really- think proponents of PV power are suggesting that every home will have a battery bank?”
    There are a lot of ways to do it in the future. Dr. Smalley suggested [http://cohesion.rice.edu/NaturalSciences/Smalley/emplibrary/120204%20MRS%20Boston.pdf] putting the batteries in houses, obviously because the electric company doesn’t want the cost. So let those who choose “renewable” alias “intermittent” power pay for the intermittentcy.

    PS: My credibility is irrelevant. Only experimental evidence is believable. I’ll be watching for a report from your accountant.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:08 AM

  125. Unfortunately it is not realistic to keep the warming at or below 2 degrees C. Also, I do not think we will have a run away global climate at 2 degrees or such drought and weather changes that the human population will be threatened in a major way. The data does not really point in this direction either. I am referring to the majority of the data from peer review; some from the very moderators of this site. What the data does show is a series of risk factors at 2 degrees C and then of course above that, 3, 4 and 5 degrees.I agree that we should continue to lower global emissions and the US is responsible for leading the way, however, we need to think about adapting as well.Humans do make a potent impact on weather and climate, but this is not unprecedented in the paleoclimate record as Gavin and other paleoclimate modelers have mentioned in their papers and interviews, but if people continue to be ignorant of climate and science in general, then we will prematurely destroy ourselves; all socities and empires fall and eventually species either become extinct or evolve…humans will not inhabit this planet forever regardless; many threats to our existence permeate our every day lives.
    I love this site and I do read all of your papers and books as they are published, but this 2 degree fear is a little sketchy as it is being portrayed by some. Humans are not eternal, but ephemeral; all we can do is double our efforts, but people are so scientifically illiterate in general the scare tactic of “2 degrees,” is not working which admittedly has been used by geniuses like Hansen to speed up the process of slowing global warming.It is like going to a doctor and you have a high BP reading from anxiety (iantrogenic) and the doctor tells you “will” have a stroke if you do not give up caffeine and exercise more; the doctor has no idea when you will have a stroke, but you are at a higher risk for it though it may never occur; if you stop or cut down on caffeine and lower your BP you have less risk factors, which is great, but there is no assurance that you will not have a premature stroke. Natural vraiations and the “butterfly effect” are the same way; the world could cool or warm from more rare, but natural cycles if greenhouse gases did not exist. There is no “vital force” holding the sun and atmosphere together. Yes, we should implement more green technologies because it is humanity’s best interest and nothing more or less. Even if we do get GHG down below 350 one day, do you really think that we have somehow reduced the overall statistical risk factors to the globe and specifically humanity? Just saying.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:20 AM

  126. Nuclear power is unwise for the US.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:21 AM

  127. 119 Patrick 027: “from what I’ve read recently, nuclear, solar, and wind are about the same in CO2 output per unit energy, although I once read that solar put out less CO2 than nuclear.”

    “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear power. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist.

    Page 13 has a chart of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production. Nuclear power produces less greenhouse gas [CO2] than any other source, including coal, natural gas, hydro, solar and wind. Building wind turbines and towers also involve industrial processes such as concrete and steel making.

    Nuclear power plants produce a total of 30 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour, the lowest.

    Wind turbines produce a total of 58 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Solar power produces between 100 and 280 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Hydro power produces 240 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Natural gas produces between 439 and 688 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Coal plants produce the most, between 966 and 1306 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour, the highest.

    Remember the total is the sum of direct emissions from burning fuel and indirect emissions from the life cycle, which means the industrial processes required to build it. Again, nuclear comes in the lowest. Nuclear would produce even less CO2 per kilowatt hour if the safety were lowered to the same level as other sources of electricity. Switching from coal to nuclear is a 97% reduction in electricity’s 40% of our CO2 output.

    “How much water does nuclear use?”
    NONE
    Some nuclear power plants are water cooled. Some nuclear power plants are air cooled. In the water cooled case, the water coming out is just as clean as it went in, just warmer. NO water is consumed. You may choose air cooled nuclear power if you wish.

    “Renewable energy could ‘rape’ nature ”
    11:10 25 July 2007
    NewScientist.com news service
    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/
    dn12346-renewable-energy-could-rape-nature.html

    http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/
    2007/07/renewable-energy-bad-nuclear-power-good.html

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg18925361.500-interview-be-green-think-big.html
    “Ausubel (who New Scientist interviewed in 2006) says the key renewable energy sources, including sun, wind, and biomass, would all require vast amounts of land if developed up to large scale production – unlike nuclear power. That land would be far better left alone, he says.
    Renewables are “boutique fuels” says Ausubel, of Rockefeller University in New York, US. “They look attractive when they are quite small. But if we start producing renewable energy on a large scale, the fallout is going to be horrible.”
    Instead, Ausubel argues for renewed development of nuclear. “If we want to minimise the rape of nature, the best energy solution is increased efficiency, natural gas with carbon capture, and nuclear power.”
    ‘Massive infrastructure’
    Ausubel draws his conclusions by analysing the amount of energy renewables, natural gas, and nuclear can produce in terms of power per square metre of land used. Moreover, he claims that as renewable energy use increases, this measure of efficiency will decrease as the best land for wind, biomass, and solar power gets used up.”
    article continues……

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:43 AM

  128. Edward Greisch #92: “all we have t do” … if it’s so easy, why hasn’t it happened yet? Thorium sounds like a great alternative but I’m not aware of a single commercial-scale reactor. Are there real practical problems with it, or is it a matter that the massive R&D costs any nuclear approach needs are unlikely to be footed if there isn’t a military application?

    Some articles outlining some of the problems:

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle

    Short summary: getting a practical thorium fuel cycle working would be expensive and requires the sort of technologies that can be misapplied to make nuclear weapons. While thorium itself looks relatively benign compared with uranium, the fuel cycle produces a number of highly radioactive by-products.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 10 Jul 2009 @ 2:14 AM

  129. Re: 92 “Don’t worry, power plants make the wrong isotope of plutonium to make bombs.”

    Huh? A quote from

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/pu-isotope.htm

    “A successful test was conducted in 1962, which used reactor-grade plutonium in the nuclear explosive in place of weapon-grade plutonium. The yield was less than 20 kilotons. This test was conducted to obtain nuclear design information concerning the feasibility of using reactor-grade plutonium as the nuclear explosive material. The test confirmed that reactor-grade plutonium could be used to make a nuclear explosive. This fact was declassified in July 1977. ”

    You might also be interested in what these guys have to say:

    http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

    (especially chapter 9).

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 3:24 AM

  130. Tharanga says ““Why is everyone so concerned with the cost of things?”

    IN the end, that’s what drives decision-making, like it or not. ”

    No.

    Else there would be no charity.

    There would be no leisure.

    “Accountants know the cost of everything and the value of nothing” is a common meme for a reason.

    The CFC’s was a good one. Lots of doom-and-gloom about how the price of fridges and so on would skyrocket if cheap CFCs were no longer used.

    But guess what? They found something else and the price of fridges and so on didn’t go up.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 3:32 AM

  131. Richard 103, people HAVE informed themselves. They’ve informed themselves of the current cut and paste arguments against AGW.

    They haven’t informed themselves of whether these arguments are *right* mind.

    But that’s not their problem.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 3:38 AM

  132. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/the-big-question-will-it-really-be-possible-to-meet–the-g8s-climate-change-targets-1740136.html

    This article in the UK newspaper The Independent shows a graph of emissions of carbon and where we need to be to keep things below 2C (most likely temperature rise). Its now more than 15 billion tonnes of carbon by 2015 (we are presently at 9?) and it must then tail off but if you have reached 15 then that is the problem in itself as usage is growing very quickly.

    So here comes the next part. 0.8C experienced and another 0.6C in the pipeline from our oceans. Now here comes the question. if its rising at 0.2C per decade so long as we continue to emit at 2 ppmv per year making 20 ppmv per decade then that 0.4C to reach 2C requires another 40 ppmv or two more decades of present emission levels ?

    If emissions are increasing at 3% per year (recession not counted as it is a short term blip) then it will take around 20 years of present emissions levels to get to 2C at present linear CO2 emissions radiative forcings? If on the other hand we have slowing sinks and increased emissions from other potential sources (dying temperate forests and more land use changes) then its not that 2C will be guaranteed any quicker but that more then 2C will be guaranteed.

    What is the time line radiative forcing of CO2? If we reach 400 ppmv does that mean that the world cannot warm anymore than what a forcing of that much CO2 is? Co2 is not like a big battery and continuously stores more and more heat, its just a matter of equilibrium being reached of a world on average 1.6-2C warmer?

    Comment by pete best — 10 Jul 2009 @ 4:08 AM

  133. “Nevertheless, we view today’s development as a constructive step”

    I agree, we can’t forget that five years ago very few politicians took this threat seriously. In that very short time frame the global political argument has changed from “what problem?” to “how do we reach the scientifically derived target?”.

    As noted in the article, here in Australia the climate is already screwed but we will never be able to adapt to the new reality if it continues to change. Stability is what is required and this agreement is a good start.

    As a software engineer I’m willing to make a social prediction, if dangerous climate change is averted you can expect a large number of people to claim it was just another “Y2K scam”.

    Comment by Alan of Oz — 10 Jul 2009 @ 4:44 AM

  134. Isotopious, you know, at a certain point, when somebody makes vague and ominous statements like that, you really have to wonder whether they’re [edit-lets keep it civil]. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 Jul 2009 @ 4:56 AM

  135. Gareth Evans writes:

    2) Renewables – solar, wind etc. Variable output – energy not always available to meet demand.

    Smart wide-area grids. And note that some solar thermal plants are now achieving availability on a par with coal-fired plants, due to storing excess heat from the day in molten salts and using it to run the turbines at night and in bad weather.

    5) New forms of energy. Space-time energy may be a possibility but little interest / investment in it to date:

    http://www.aias.us/

    http://www.aias.us/documents/miscellaneous/Spacetime-Dev-2.pdf

    http://et3m.net/

    “Spacetime energy is is the only energy source available 24 hours a day, that does not use fuels and other resources that are finite and limited, that produces zero emissions to the atmosphere, that does not produce other wastes that cannot be recycled, that is not toxic or radioactive or a danger (in any known way) to the environment or public health , that does not depend on natural processes that vary and are subsequently not reliable (such as the sun or wind), and is completely silent (and so produces no noise nuisance)”.

    “Space-time energy” is pseudoscience. It exists, but it is so diffuse that there is no practical way to harvest it, and there never will be. With a collection area the size of the Earth you might be able to harvest enough to run a lightbulb.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:03 AM

  136. Question: If we do model future temperatures based on CO2 emission scenarios, then how can we target a future temperature without targeting CO2 emissions at the same time? Why target the temperature? Who benefits? Will this open a whole can of worms where some politicians chose model x, projecting 2C at n ppm and some chosing model y, projecting 2C at m ppm and again others picking a trendline from a number of years in the past, extending it to 2050 and do nothing unless it exceeds 2C? I agree that targeting 2C rather than nothing is a start – but is it a start in the right direction or will we be confronted with a whole new set of excuses ranging from “we don’t have to do anything because of the “current” trend” or “we’ll put up an aerosol emission program as soon as 1.9C have been reached” or “our scientists say we’ll never reach the 2C anyway and we don’t care what your scientists say” or other ideas like that?

    I think without naming a single authority for the +2C projection (like the IPCC) which translates this temperature to emission scenarios, a temperature target is at least worthless – probably worse.

    Comment by bobberger — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:19 AM

  137. P.S. Gareth — about that last site you link to: if they ever claim to be producing home energy devices that use “space-time energy,” as they are hinting at, it will be a clear sign that they are a criminal enterprise perpetrating a consumer fraud. I note that, being located in Mexico, this firm is outside FTC supervision, and I suspect Mexico is kind of lax about these things (cf Laetrile).

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:24 AM

  138. Randy L writes:

    I don’t see a down side to the earth losing 1 to 1.5 billion humans.

    Do you volunteer to be one of that group?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:26 AM

  139. Edward writes:

    It’s possible that CO2 contributes about a .6C increase in temperature and that the effects of clouds acts as a negative feedback to moderate further increases.

    It’s not very likely. If that were true, you couldn’t account for paleoclimate.

    CAPTCHA: “Time cogwheel”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:27 AM

  140. tharanga writes:

    Oil, coal and gas are cheap; nuclear, solar, wind and biomass are currently more expensive. You can’t wish that fact away.

    Present price of wind electricity in California: 9 cents per kilowatt hour.

    Coal: 10 cents.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:32 AM

  141. Mark writes:

    But the 12% GDP spent on the military isn’t considered lost money.
    In fact much effort is spent to make sure that level of spending IS spent.
    (I think that 12% is what the US spends…)

    The proposed FY 2010 defense budget is $533.7 billion.
    Present GDP: $13.84 trillion.
    Percent represented by defense spending: less than 3.9%.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:37 AM

  142. Edward Greisch writes:

    Nuclear is the ONLY source of electricity that is cheaper than coal on a per kilowatt hour basis.

    Price of wind electricity in California: 9 cents per kwh.

    Coal: 10 cents.

    Nuclear: 15 cents.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 6:03 AM

  143. “The G-8 decision to cap global temperature at 2 degrees while China and India refuse to enter any discussion on any negotiation”

    What an odd statement.

    What on earth do you think they are discussing at the MEF? At the UNFCCC?

    Did you know both India and China have climate change plans?

    There is very significant DISAGREEMENT about who should do what. China and India want the “rich” to do more, and won’t commit to actions under the UNFCCC until they see money. The “rich” want China and India to do more, and aren’t yet willing to talk about money.

    None of my business to say who is right and who is wrong, but the idea that China and India are doing nothing is a dangerous lie propogated by those who don’t want to see action in the US and elsewhere.

    Comment by Silk — 10 Jul 2009 @ 6:20 AM

  144. Getting all the necessary parties to not only agree to two deg C max seems unlikely let alone to actually do what it takes to implement it.

    One possible consequence: http://www.williamsburghomes.com/hurr.html

    Comment by Henry Molvar — 10 Jul 2009 @ 7:13 AM

  145. #113 re. Ramanathan & Feng.

    In section 2.6 of Air pollution, greenhouse gases and climate change: Global and regional perspectives they say:

    “Lastly, the CFC concentrations are so low (part per billion or less) that their effect increases linearly with their concentration, where as the CO2 absorption is close to saturation since their concentration is about 300,000 times larger.”

    Eh? Having learned at the feet of the wise here in RC, I thought we had debunked the s word. Do R and F mean something else?

    http://tinyurl.com/kmb25l

    Comment by Dan L. — 10 Jul 2009 @ 7:22 AM

  146. As far as actual costs of climate change go, I can see the ravages (from my porch in NJ!) There has been much discussion of the damage by pine bark beetles on the West Coast and in Canada, and virtually no attention to the trees on the Eastern Seaboard. I cannot understand this willful blindness, because it’s quite apparent they are all in decline. Every species, every age, and many shrubs and vines as well, are shedding leaves and needles, and dropping branches.

    The trees are the structure of the ecosystem. Without this foundation all other species -birds, butterflies, plants in the understory, wild animals like squirrels that eat nuts – are all going to die as well.

    What is this going to cost us, to raise children in a world without apples and pears and peaches? Without the majesty of trees, without their shade?

    If you don’t believe me, check out my blog where I an doing my best to document the decimation. Or just go outside and really LOOK at some trees. The evidence is quite obvious.

    Comment by Gail Z — 10 Jul 2009 @ 7:48 AM

  147. “Eh? Having learned at the feet of the wise here in RC, I thought we had debunked the s word. Do R and F mean something else?”

    No, the denialists just don’t bother to listen.

    They mean “it’s saturated, so how can adding more be a problem?”.

    They are ignoring why it is still a problem.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 8:22 AM

  148. BPL #140

    I point you to #96:

    RichardC says:
    9 July 2009 at 5:24 PM

    75 Tharanga said, “The US spends 4% of GDP on military.”

    That’s only the base military budget, excluding the wars, nukes, veterans, and lots of other stuff. The US spends close to 10% of GDP on current and deferred military costs (deferred as in the cost of taking care of widows and the disabled)

    +++

    The source I read may have not made the distinction.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 8:25 AM

  149. #85 Pete, its fascinating to see most esteemed people here fixated on the present wind energy technology which is good, but , as you wrote, is cumbersome and takes a lot of land/sea space.
    THere is other ways to harvest winds in sync with gravity waves. I would suggest thinking out of the wind pillar box.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 8:38 AM

  150. … sure, installing insulation will save you money over the course of ten years, but what if you don’t want to foot the up-front bill?

    What if you live in an apartment, where the choice to (not) install insulation is made by someone who doesn’t pay your heating or cooling bills?
    Additionally – having spent the whole of my adult life without a car, I’ve found that car-free living requires moving every few years, due to new jobs.

    Comment by llewelly — 10 Jul 2009 @ 8:46 AM

  151. As a software engineer I’m willing to make a social prediction, if dangerous climate change is averted you can expect a large number of people to claim it was just another “Y2K scam”.

    Here’s my social prediction: if GHG emissions are reduced to zero, but the GHGs already emitted are sufficient to cause dangerous climate change, a large number of people will claim that since dangerous climate change happened anyway, GHG emissions must not have been the cause.

    Comment by llewelly — 10 Jul 2009 @ 9:04 AM

  152. re 150.

    Some people think that the Y2K problem was a scam because computers didn’t fail on the swap over the millenium.

    So maybe the answer to that “problem” is to say “sod ‘em” and ignore them.

    You can’t please all of the people all of the time. So do what’s right, even if some will try to knock you down.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 10:11 AM

  153. “its fascinating to see most esteemed people here fixated on the present wind energy technology which is good, but , as you wrote, is cumbersome and takes a lot of land/sea space.”

    What is fascinating is that you think wind takes up a lot of land/sea space.

    There are a lot of farms that lose a small fraction of their land and still use it for farming, the only loss being the rather small footprint of the upright tower. Though they cannot be placed close together, that is because the turbines are wide. But they don’t go anywhere near the ground.

    Fascinating that you have to make up a problem and can’t find a real one to use.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 10:13 AM

  154. Agreeably, a 2C target is a step in the right direction. Education is still critical. The 350ppm target by Hansen is also a good target but as I recall he mentioned something about “possibly lower” as part of the consideration.

    Education remains critical to understanding for people and policy makers. A point I have been trying to get across is that it’s not about believing in AGW, it’s about understanding the mechanisms involved. Believing always leads to a rhetorical argument. Understanding leads to appropriate action in the way people view the energy they use and they way they influence policy makers through their votes.

    So progress has been made, but we all just need to keep learning as best we ca. and helping inform others.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 10 Jul 2009 @ 10:35 AM

  155. “Understanding leads to appropriate action in the way people view the energy they use and they way they influence policy makers through their votes.”

    But the debate is steered into belief to ensure there IS no understanding.

    And it’s being done by those who, for whatever reason, do not want to think AGW is real or does not want to take the steps necessary to counter it.

    TV today doesn’t want “understanding” either. It wants talking heads. Preferably two. And conflict.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 10:51 AM

  156. Mark, I don’t understand your cynical matter of fact argument. But that is nothing new. Some countries don’t have the luxury of vast tracks of lands ( to place the pillars on??? Cappich???) the question of ownership, grid placements, like in the UK, some countries are heavily populated, and many dislike the sight of wind turbines over their landscapes. The fixation over the same generation of horizontal axis turbines to be placed all over the world as the solution is a bit passe, there are other ways to harvest the wind.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 10:59 AM

  157. 2 degrees seems like rather a lot to me, especially when we take into account how this is predicted to be manifested over the different latitudes (e.g. increases of much more than 2 degrees near the poles). My other concern is that the models generally seem to underpredict the rate of change. It will be interesting to see what happens in Greenland next, I think, and then probably down at Pine Island; we will find out soon enough, anyways.

    Comment by Nick O. — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:08 AM

  158. 105 Tharanga says,”If energy source A costs $x/BTU, and energy source B costs $2x/BTU, then you cannot (in the short run) save net money from going from A to B. ”

    You missed the point. The cost of A depends entirely on whether we choose to adopt B. Oil will cost EITHER $150 OR $25 depending on whether we choose to limit fossil fuel demand. That’s $125 worth of savings on the oil side IF and ONLY IF we adopt renewables. Roll that savings into a tax to prevent the market from backsliding and suddenly we have a big pile of money that would have gone to oil. Even now oil is way overpriced. We can drop the price to $25 any time we want through demand modification. Since we’re huge importers of oil, it’s all gravy to the USA, Europe, Japan, et al. Of course, Mideast wars and terrorism will have to find alternative funding, but then that’s dandy with me.

    Comment by RichardC — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:15 AM

  159. Edward #121
    You state “that the average person on Earth won’t understand the need to change until it is too late” and “6.7 Billion people will die on Earth”.

    You are correct, because most of the people on this planet are scratching to make a living and feed their family and probably don’t have an electrical source to even plug in a fridge much less a laptop computer. Their list of concerns don’t include worrying about how much CO2 they are emitting when burning dung to keep warm.

    If given a choice, these “average people” would probably choose access to any energy source even if produced using coal or oil rather than worry about potential climate change 20 to 100 years from now.

    I think it’s presumptuous of the Elite Industrial nations to try and impose their will on the developing world in this regard. If C02 is a problem and USA and developed world truly are concerned about it, then they are welcome to cause as much pain to their economies to correct the problem. Their actions should not depend on what the rest of the world does.

    On an individual basis, how many here are willing to give up their Prius’ and laptops and trade places with a subsistence farmer in India?
    Thanks
    Edward

    Comment by Edward — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:24 AM

  160. Edward Greisch 10 July 2009 at 1:08 AM:

    Edward, let me amend and soften my words, introducing and possibly substituting “feckless” where I’ve already mentioned deception and/or ignorance.

    The vast majority of residential PV systems do not involve batteries at all, they use an arrangement called “grid tie”. DC electricity generated at a residence is used to operate an inverter, which is designed so as to maintain phase with grid-supplied AC. Output from the PV system is thus added to the grid, this output sometimes only offsetting demand from the residence, at other times exceeding local demand and thereby unloading the grid itself by an incremental amount.

    Thanks to the fact that the distribution grid functions using AC, no modifications are required of the grid itself. As the he “pig” on the pole outside a home is a transformer, it functions both “forward” and “backward”.

    Depending on locale, this energy may be purchased by the utility at either wholesale or retail rates. If the local utility has sufficient pull with regulators, in rare cases no compensation is offered for surplus power.

    Surplus power generated by these residential systems offsets required generation capacity for a utility. These systems operate best during periods other than typical base load periods for the utility, so whatever power is sent back into the grid is delivered at an advantageous time for the utility.

    Progressive utilities are assisting customers to the extent they can with these systems, because incrementally capitalizing grid tie can be attractive compared to capitalizing monolithic generation plants and because they do not demand an ongoing input of money for the electricity they generate.

    Personally, I would not make the mistake of ignoring the grid power available where I live, so I’m just going to chuckle in amusement at your “challenge”, which only reflects poorly on you. As it happens, I do pay extra money into my monthly electricity bill, money which is used to capitalize “alternative” energy sources. In the case of my location this money is being used to relieve load from hydroelectricity which supplies something like 80% of electrical power here.

    As to off-grid applications, first let’s emphasize that they represent a tiny fraction of PV installations. Secondly, a properly sized and managed battery bank for these systems will retain some 80% of initial capacity after 5 years’ operation. 80% of capacity is typically considered end-of-life for secondary batteries, though consumer tolerance for degraded performance is generally accepting of worse degradation.

    As to the enormous battery bank you require, that’s because you’re on grid, have evolved your habits to reflect that, and are making an ignorant choice about improving your situation. It’s nothing to do with the viability of PV systems.

    “Only experimental evidence is believable.”

    Pertaining to batteries, see:
    http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0038092X07000291

    “My credibility is irrelevant.”

    Yes, to the extent that you don’t have any when it comes to this subject.

    But your credibility -is- important in another way. RC is somewhat of a well of clear factual information about climate science and by nearly inevitable connection to a lesser extent about energy topics. Whether making stuff up because you don’t know any better or by presenting erroneous communications for unknown reasons, you’re dropping a dead donkey down the well and polluting it.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:40 AM

  161. 147 Mark, I added it up in more detail and I came up with the US spending 8% of the GDP on the military.

    Comment by RichardC — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:40 AM

  162. Mark #146 “No, the denialists just don’t bother to listen.

    They mean “it’s saturated, so how can adding more be a problem?”.

    They are ignoring why it is still a problem.”

    Ramanathan & Feng are denialists? Don’t think so.

    Comment by Dan L. — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:07 PM

  163. ‘some countries are heavily populated, and many dislike the sight of wind turbines over their landscapes’

    Perhaps these people with such delicate aesthetic sensibilities would prefer to live next to a coal burning power station? Or maybe a nuclear reactor…

    The problem here is that for decades those affluent enough to live in nice areas away from environmental problems such as living near a power station, on inside heavily polluted inner-urban areas have simply done so, externalising the visual and environmental costs of their lifestyle on to people who are poorer than themselves.

    If people are willing to include the total costs (not just a monetary sum) of generating energy in a sustainable way so as to minimise ACC then the most painful measure that will be taken will not be the sight of some windmills on the horizon.

    Comment by Sy — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:19 PM

  164. “wayne davidson says:
    10 July 2009 at 10:59 AM

    Mark, I don’t understand your cynical matter of fact argument.”

    No, I don’t suppose you do.

    Interferes with your dogma.

    “Some countries don’t have the luxury of vast tracks of lands”

    And such countries therefore have no large volumes of people to protect.

    It’s a lot easier to put a solar panel on a roof and no more space is needed.

    Land that you can’t build on or farm can be used to put wind or solar power collectors on. Are there any countries who have no land that is unsuitable for this AND have used all the land they have up?

    “and many dislike the sight of wind turbines over their landscapes.”

    And many don’t like the sight of power lines. Or factories.

    Dislike won’t kill them and their dislike is more dogmatic (it’s green energy. eeewww) than aesthetic.

    “The fixation over the same generation of horizontal axis turbines to be placed all over the world as the solution is a bit passe”

    Ah, a statement with NOTHING AT ALL to back it up.

    Well done.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:21 PM

  165. “On an individual basis, how many here are willing to give up their Prius’ and laptops and trade places with a subsistence farmer in India?”

    Are you one?

    How about you move to the Maldives or the sub-saharan cities if you think that there are more important things to do now than avoid global warming.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:23 PM

  166. 161….

    The conclusions from Ramanathan and Feng’s 2009 paper are:

    “1) The missing warming: global average TOA forcing of ABCs is about −1.4 Wm−2. The implication is that, when ABCs are eliminated, the surface can warm by about 1.3 °C.

    2) The committed warming: effectively the greenhouse gas increase from pre-industrial to now has committed the planet to a surface warming of 2.4 °C (using IPCCs central value for climate sensitivity), and only about 0.6 °C of this has been realized thus far.

    3) Global dimming: aerosol observations from satellites, surface stations and aircraft (for the 2000–2002 period) suggest that there is a global wide dimming of about −5 Wm−2 due to ABCs. Assuming negligible dimming before 1900s, this result translates into a global dimming trend of −0.5 Wm−2 per decade, with factors of 2 or larger dimming trend over land areas. The ABC induced global mean dimming trend is much smaller than the 3–6 Wm−2 per decade inferred from radiometers over land stations.

    4) ABC impact over Asia: regionally, ABCs may have played a very large role in the widespread decrease in precipitation in Africa and in S. Asia (the Indian summer monsoon) and the widespread retreat of glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya-Tibetan region. The former is due to dimming and the latter is due to solar heating of elevated layers by ABCs.”

    This is a peer reviewed paper by respected scientists who are saying that aerosol forcing means that the majority of the warming caused by existing co2 emission has effectively been masked thus far, and that as aerosols remain in the atmosphere for far shorter a duration of time than co2, we will have already most likely crossed the 2 degree threshold that the G8 politicians have been discussing this week once the cooling effect of aerosols dissipate.

    That really doesn’t sound like denialism to me

    Comment by Sy — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  167. A couple of comments.

    First, I would suggest to those who hope to influence American public opinion regarding anthropogenic global warming, PLEASE state temperatures and temperature changes in degrees Fahrenheit, rather than degrees Celsius. I understand that Celsius is the standard for science. But Fahrenheit is what Americans are used to hearing in weather reports and weather forecasts, and what they intuitively and viscerally understand.

    When most Americans hear about a 2 degree (Celsius) rise in global average temperatures, it doesn’t sound very significant. So you have to lead them through a scientific, logical, factual chain of explanation and causation as to why that matters. Will they “get it”? Maybe.

    But if you tell them (as per the recent NOAA-led report on expected climate change impacts on the USA) that by century’s end, much of the USA from the southeast up through the vast agricultural lands of the midwest will experience more than 150 days per year (five whole months!) when the temperature doesn’t fall below 90 degrees (Fahrenheit), that makes a much stronger, more intuitive and visceral impression. People “get” what that would be like.

    Second, there are a lot of things said about renewable energy technologies — e.g. solar photovoltaics, concentrating solar thermal, wind, biomass, geothermal, etc — in these threads that reflect ignorance about the actual state of those technologies and industries today. Solar and wind are mature technologies, which at the same time continue to develop rapidly. And the wind and solar industries are booming. The planet’s wind and solar energy resources are vast, and harvesting even a small fraction of that potential can supply far more energy than the world currently uses, sustainably and indefinitely, with tiny environmental impact compared to fossil fuels or nuclear.

    If you want to know what’s really going on with these technologies — e.g. the state of the art of mainstream technology that’s being deployed on large scales today, the new developments and breakthroughs that have the potential to produce even more renewable energy at ever lower cost, the major projects that are now being built or are planned all over the world — then please take advantage of the numerous online resources offered by trade groups like AWEA, or manufacturers, or business-oriented publications that track the renewable energy industry to educate yourself.

    You may be surprised at what you learn. In my experience most people are really unaware of what wind and solar can do, and how fast they are already growing. While the climate situation is far worse than most people think, the options for quickly phasing out fossil fuel and nuclear energy and replacing them with clean renewable energy sources are much better than most people think.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:46 PM

  168. Dan L

    Ramanathan & Feng are denialists? Don’t think so.

    I skimmed the section you refer to, and what they appear to be discussing is why the forcing response to increasing CFCs is linear, rather than logarithmic as is true for CO2 at concentrations in the atmosphere we see today and will for the foreseeable future.

    Go read the whole section, closely …

    No, the denialists just don’t bother to listen.

    They mean “it’s saturated, so how can adding more be a problem?”.

    They are ignoring why it is still a problem.

    You, too, Mark, since they [R & F, in the paper Dan's asking questions about] say no such thing. It’s obvious you didn’t look at the paper, which isn’t really about CFCs or CO2 anyway, but negative forcing due to aerosols.

    Dan’s question appears to be an honest one, and the section he refers to is a bit poorly worded IMO.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:55 PM

  169. In fact, Mark, R&F first came up in this thread in a question to you:

    Mark – What are your thoughts about the analysis by Ramanathan and Feng (PNAS, Sept 17,2008: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0803838105), in which they calculate the committed warming of cumulative emissions since the pre-industrial era as in the region of 2.4°C (with a confidence interval of 1.4°C to 4.3°C), based on calculating the equilibrium temperature if GHG concentrations are held at 2005 levels into the future.

    R & F discuss our already being committed to a 2.4C rise without adding any more GHGs at all, and the text I blockquoted above is in essence asking how can we limit global warming to 2C if we’re already committed to 2.4C, i.e. if R&F are right.

    Sounds like your tarring them as being denialists, or lashing out at Dan for asking an honest question about a statement they make in their section 2.6, is a bit unkind, at best.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:01 PM

  170. re 169, If R&F is right, then we have already broken the 2C limit.

    How could it be otherwise?

    If R&F are wrong, maybe not.

    But if we’ve broken 2C limit, so what?

    Give up and party like it’s 1999?

    It’s kind of a pointless question, which is why I’m so sharp about it.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:15 PM

  171. #165 Mark
    I think we should be cautious putting demands on nations and people who have not enjoyed our standard of living for the last 50-60 years. I think China makes a good point when they make the argument that since the developed countries have pushed CO2 up to it’s current 389 ppm level the developed countries should bear the burden of correcting the problem. In the meantime, China and India are interested in improving living conditions and the standard of living for their people by making cheap energy available. If that energy is most easily provided by the coal or oil resources they have available to them so be it. It’s all the more reason that developed countries have to innovate renewables and get them to the point where they can provide energy cheaper than oil or coal. At that point India and China will have an economic reason to begin making the transition to a Lower CO2 economy.

    One last point, it’s not likely that huge oil producing countries in the middle east will allow their main source of income to become obsolete and “stay in the ground”. I would expect the price of oil to fall to stay competitive with renewables which will forstall the rate of transition to low CO2 economies.

    If the USA had taken Hansen’s advice back in the late 1980′s and gone on a crash program of building next generation nukes there was probably a chance we could be exporting that technology now to China and India and it might have prevented the commissioning of many of the new coal power plants they are building.

    Given the reluctance to take action back then, I cannot forsee a scenario where CO2 stays below the 450 or even 500ppm level. There’s just too much inertia in coal and oil and too much incentive to make sure all of it comes out of the ground.

    In the meantime, I’m fine driving my Chevy Conversion van, living nearby a nuclear power plant and enjoying the comforts of AC and the use of a wireless laptop.
    Thanks
    Edward

    Comment by Edward — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  172. “You, too, Mark, since they [R & F, in the paper Dan's asking questions about] say no such thing.”

    May I point you to 145.

    Query:

    “where as the CO2 absorption is close to saturation since their concentration is about 300,000 times larger.”

    Saturation is irrelevant to CO2 having an effect.

    Denialists think it is central.

    So maybe you should go back to 145 and see whether the quote is taken out of context, yes.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:20 PM

  173. David (in #22),

    Sorry, in my #41 I got your name wrong.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:31 PM

  174. PS what would be the point of asking the question “if this paper says we’re already over 2C, is it possible that we won’t be able to keep under 2C”?

    Is this a rhetorical thing?

    It’s like asking “If I ate all the pies, would there be no pies left for you?”

    Patently silly.

    Comment by Mark — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:34 PM

  175. Give up and party like it’s 1999?

    It’s kind of a pointless question, which is why I’m so sharp about it.

    Well, “party like it’s 1999″ isn’t the reaction a sane person would make, and I don’t see anything in the thread above suggesting that’s the response of anyone posting here.

    Obviously, the response would be that we’ve got to work even harder to reduce CO2 emissions, while simultaneously facing up to the need for more mitigation that is being thought about in a 2C-rise world.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:37 PM

  176. So maybe you should go back to 145 and see whether the quote is taken out of context, yes.

    The section’s rather poorly written and there’s nothing explicit embedding the statement in a “logarithmic response to increased CO2″ context.

    So Dan L asked in post 145 …

    Eh? Having learned at the feet of the wise here in RC, I thought we had debunked the s word. Do R and F mean something else?

    An honest question deserving of an honest response (I already laid out the “something else” above, at least as I read it) rather than abuse. He found the statement confusing. He asked for clarification. Labeling R&F as being “denialists” was not a clarifying response.

    OK, I’m done with this. Feel free to yell scornfully at me if it will make you feel better.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:43 PM

  177. Edward Greisch says (10 July 2009 at 1:08 AM)

    “To maintain your current lifestyle, you are going to need a lot more batteries than you can afford. I did the calculation for the current price of lead-acid batteries. My house would need $50,000 worth, given my air conditioning bill, etc.”

    Why not start by examining your basic assumptions? Take the one about maintaining your current lifestyle: do you really think the way you live now is perfect and unchangeable? Or, to take your example, with a little thought, some insulation, and a few shade trees, might you not be able to reduce that air conditioning bill?

    That’s really the first piece of advice that a reputable solar installer will give to people contemplating an OTG system: redesign your lifestyle to minimize energy use. Then instead of $50K worth of batteries, you’d only need $5K. Then think about storage other than batteries, such as flywheels…

    Comment by James — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:47 PM

  178. Mark:

    Is this a rhetorical thing?

    No, the poster at 13 asked your opinion of the paper, wondering if you think their 2.4C figure is plausible or not. Something tells me he won’t be doing that again .,..

    It’s like asking “If I ate all the pies, would there be no pies left for you?”

    Patently silly.

    Not at all, if we can’t contain warming to 2C then mitigation planning should assume warming greater than 2C. Whether or the warming can be contained to the 2C level proposed by the G8 seems to be a rather important question, to me. Regardless of whether or not a simple answer suffices.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2009 @ 1:49 PM

  179. Ray Ladbury says:

    “Fully 90% of scientists publishing on climate related topics and vurtually all the evidence say the globe is warming and that we’re the cause.”

    Interestingly this may be only 84% not 90%, and only 70% who think it’s a serious problem.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/09/climate-change-debate-human-activity

    [Response: Wrong. Please re-read the above sentence, in particular "scientists publishing on climate related topics" (i.e. those most likely to be familiar with the current state of the science). That is not what is reflected by the poll quoted in the Guardian. By the way, the actual number (98%--i.e. Oreskes) is actually higher than 90% as a previous commenter already noted above. -mike]

    Comment by David Schofield — 10 Jul 2009 @ 2:22 PM

  180. Animist says:
    First, I would suggest to those who hope to influence American public opinion regarding anthropogenic global warming, PLEASE state temperatures and temperature changes in degrees Fahrenheit, rather than degrees Celsius. I understand that Celsius is the standard for science. But Fahrenheit is what Americans are used to hearing in weather reports and weather forecasts, and what they intuitively and viscerally understand.

    Chu did exactly that in his Senate testimony yesterday as he illustrated one possible future scenario by comparing it to the difference between the last glacial maximum and now (11 degrees F I think it was).

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 10 Jul 2009 @ 2:24 PM

  181. 164 Mark says about [and many dislike the sight of wind turbines over their landscapes.],

    “And many don’t like the sight of power lines. Or factories. Dislike won’t kill them and their dislike is more dogmatic (it’s green energy. eeewww) than aesthetic.”

    I agree. Wind turbines are drop-dead gorgeous. The spacing required ensures that they don’t become a visual blight, and their slow white turning just thrills the soul. They are silent, beautiful, and effective. If only most neighbours could be so good.

    Comment by RichardC — 10 Jul 2009 @ 4:27 PM

  182. I don’t follow the policy stuff a whole lot (especially at the local, state levels), but I was wondering if anyone was familiar with some recent stories about Arizona looking to outlaw legislation that relied on climate change projections. See some of the first several links at http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22arizona%22+AND+%22climate+change%22+AND+%22legislation%22+AND+%222009%22&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

    Not a lot of credible sources I could find, but it did come to my attention so I was wondering if this is a big deal?

    Comment by Chris Colose — 10 Jul 2009 @ 4:27 PM

  183. Tis true Chris:

    http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/1r/bills/sb1147s.pdf

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 10 Jul 2009 @ 4:53 PM

  184. 182 Chris, it’s a non-law. Since laws take precedence from last to first, any law prohibiting future laws is just a political pout.

    Comment by RichardC — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:15 PM

  185. Chris Colose 10 Jul 2009 at 4:27 pm:

    Does not seem unlikely. AZ has at least one state Senator on record (last month) as saying that Earth is already 6,000 years old, got along with environmental regulations for that long, thus does not need environmental regulations.

    Anything’s possible when your brainpan has been dessicated to jerky by standing out in the noonday Arizona sun.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:20 PM

  186. Chris Dudley (123) — Hansen has (more recently?) stated “350 ppm or lower”. I am under the distnct impression that GIS began melting a little in the 1950s, with CO2 concentrations at about 315 ppm. At that time the Swiss glaciers were melting back about 4 m/yr. Already the last remnants of the Laurentide Ice Sheet on the mainland had melted in the 1930s and 1940s.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 5:47 PM

  187. #155 Mark

    Thus the challenge for those who understand it better are tasked with.

    #167 SecularAnimist

    Good idea, to speak to Americans in Fahrenheit.

    #179 David Schofield says

    If one examines the NCAR chart, combined with the evidence it is not improper to say based on the evidentiary record that we are virtually 100% sure that the new path of warming is 100% human caused.

    http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/natural-variability

    In other words, separate natural variability from the path based on the forcing and accept the fact that we now have natural variability on the new AGW path.

    That’s 100% human caused.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 10 Jul 2009 @ 6:02 PM

  188. OT but there is no Q&A section so I didn’t know were to put it. Also, all relevant threads are closed for further comments. (E.g this one http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument/ or this one http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument-part-ii/)

    Does planet earth emit any infrared rays in the wavelengths the CO2 is supposed to stop? Or put like this, how does the earth look like from “out there” does its signature/spectrum still contains the wavelengths within the 13-17um band in any significant amount or has most of it already been absorbed by the current CO2 layer? If not, how much is it left for CO2 to absorb.

    /Rob

    [Response: I have an on-line simulator of IR in the air, showing a spectrum of the outgoing IR to space, that I use for teaching and my textbook. The model server is here. David]

    Comment by Rob — 10 Jul 2009 @ 6:20 PM

  189. 182 Chris, it’s a non-law. Since laws take precedence from last to first, any law prohibiting future laws is just a political pout.

    Did you read what they’re actually passing? The bill will prohibit the state equivalent of DEQ from *enforcing* any law that mentions global warming.

    It doesn’t attempt to forbid the *passing* of furture laws that mention global warming. They may be scientifically illiterate but at least someone there knows enough about the law to pass something that will stick.

    Still, it’s mostly symbolic. AZ isn’t likely to pass any law regarding global warming that would require state DEQ enforcement anyway. The claim that they can use this law to fight federal legislation is farfetched.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2009 @ 6:33 PM

  190. Rob (188) — I suggest seeing if what you want is in Ray Pierrehumbert’s

    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Jul 2009 @ 7:15 PM

  191. Rob, CO2 doesn’t “stop” infrared. CO2 and other greenhouse gases absorb infrared photons; the energy gets moved around, some gets transferred to non-greenhouse gases by collisions, and so on. If you’re thinking of the notion that CO2 might be “saturated” and so increasing CO2 wouldn’t cause more warming, that’s long debunked. Look up “saturation” in the search box.

    If you’re wondering about the weather satellite photographs in various bands, there are some that show clouds, others that show the ground, some that can image CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere at various heights.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jul 2009 @ 8:03 PM

  192. 189 dhogaza said, “Did you read what they’re actually passing? The bill will prohibit the state equivalent of DEQ from *enforcing* any law that mentions global warming.”

    so the future law simply has to say that the equivalent of DEQ *MUST* enforce the future law.

    Comment by RichardC — 10 Jul 2009 @ 9:22 PM

  193. so the future law simply has to say that the equivalent of DEQ *MUST* enforce the future law.

    Yes, but that’s more difficult. Laws in place are harder to overturn than floating hot air balloons that aren’t law.

    It’s called politics

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:07 PM

  194. Rob (188) – I second David B. Benson’s suggestion (191), and what Hank Roberts said (192) – see also some comments made here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/06/groundhog-day-2/
    (some comments – most of these are mine but a few aren’t:
    370-372,(374 Barton Paul Levenson),382,

    463 (middle of comment – re 425,454)

    604, (622 Chris Colose),
    759,
    ***764***
    792,
    958 (see link)
    978
    (Hank Roberts 918 links to (Kiehl and?) Trenberth)

    1004,1045
    1048-1049,1066

    1063,

    1070 (Chris Colose),
    1071)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:11 PM

  195. I am not a climate scientist, my physics career ended at differential calculus. I am an electrical contractor, so I feel qualified to answer Edward Greisch.

    Here on the Hilo side of Hawaii Island we average 280 days a year with measurable rain. I mention that so you are not under the impression that we get massive amounts of sunshine.

    I can install a stand alone solar system for a small cabin for $5,000.00. For $50,000.00 you can get a really good system, enough for a 2,500 square foot house with a swimming pool (I just did one) which includes batteries and and an automatic start generator.

    A grid tied system without batteries can be done for between $8,000.00 and $20,000.00, depending on the size needed. These are real world numbers.

    Comment by Jerry Gardner — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:24 PM

  196. Re 188 – but the short answer:

    Earth still radiates significantly to space even in the central portion of the CO2 band (near 15 microns). Adding CO2 does not (at least not before the climate response, which is generally stratospheric cooling and surface and tropospheric warming for increasing greenhouse gases) decrease the radiation to space in the central portion of the band because at those wavelengths, CO2 is so opaque that much or most radiation to space is coming from the stratosphere, and adding CO2 increases the heights from which radiation is able to reach space, and the stratospheric temperatures generally increase with increasing height. This does not translate into greater net upward radiation at the tropopause, however. Meanwhile, farther out from 15 microns, CO2 is not yet sufficient to make the stratosphere so opaque, and much radiation comes from below the tropopause, from where temperature generally decreases with height. Adding CO2 increases the height distribution from where radiation can escape to space, so the Earth looks colder to space at wavelengths where the effect is not already saturated at the tropopause level. There is some added complexity in that downward radiation from the stratosphere will increase at wavelengths where CO2 is not saturated, but what is especially important is that the net upward radiation at the tropopause level decreases with increasing CO2 (true both before and after stratospheric equilibration (adjustment of straospheric temperatures to radiative equilibrium given the forcing but before tropospheric and surface response), but with a quantitative change), with contributions to this effect coming mainly from two wavelength intervals on either side of the central part of the band at 15 microns. Further increasing CO2 saturates a wider central part of the band but brings wavelengths farther out from the center of the band into the interval of significant CO2 opacity, so there is still an effect. Tropopause-level forcing is particularly important because the way the temperature varies with height in the troposphere is shaped by convection so that the temperatures at different vertical locations are coupled by convection and tend to go up and down together – this includes the surface (uncoupled variations in temperature will tend to change the rates of convection so as to bring the temperatures back into a relationship shaped by convection). There are some variations from that general pattern due to convection patterns and changes in convection.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:31 PM

  197. “There are some variations from that general pattern due to convection patterns and changes in convection.”

    … and other feedbacks.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:33 PM

  198. Re 188
    see also:
    Kiehl and Trenberth:
    http://www.atmo.arizona.edu/students/courselinks/spring04/atmo451b/pdf/RadiationBudget.pdf

    The work is an estimate of the global average based on a single-column, time-average model of the atmosphere and surface (with some approximations – e.g. the surface is not truly a perfect blackbody in the LW (long-wave) portion of the spectrum (the wavelengths dominated by terrestrial/atmospheric emission, as opposed to SW radiation, dominated by solar radiation), but it can give you a pretty good idea of things (fig 1 shows a spectrum of radiation to space); there is also some comparison to actual measurements.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 10 Jul 2009 @ 11:46 PM

  199. So .8C gives us this.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jh99PM8foq-x0d5BIbqMF-Bpd9Tw
    2C? Good luck.

    Comment by Ron Crouch — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:01 AM

  200. Richard (#184),

    In the Constitution there are some constraints on future laws. For example, no law is allowed that establishes a religion or prohibits the free exercise of a religion. Presumably, that can be changed by Constitutional Convention, though I don’t see how congress could propose a repeal to the states. Prohibition on Bills of Attainder or ex post facto laws is also in the Constitution.

    So, there are ways that a present law can prevent a future law. In this case, the legislation is requiring a future law rather than agency derived regulation. Sometimes it is hard to feel like you are doing your job if you don’t micromanage.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:07 AM

  201. #186 David Benson: While you may be correct about the GIS and Swiss glaciers, the Laurentide Ice sheet retreated from northern Quebec (i.e. the mainland) about 6500 years ago. It’s remnants still exist, though thinning, as Barnes Ice Cap on Baffin Island.

    Comment by Bill Woolverton — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:48 AM

  202. #1 – you state
    “Information from our own US government proves them wrong”

    Perhaps you may want to reconsider that statement

    From the site which integrates all federal research on climate and global change ( 14 agencies including NOAA and NASA and Dept of Defence amongst others… )

    ” 1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.
    Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. (p. 13)

    2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.
    Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow. (p. 27)

    3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.
    Climate changes are already affecting water, energy, transportation, agriculture, ecosystems, and health. These impacts are different from region to region and will grow under ”

    http://www.globalchange.gov/whats-new/news

    Comment by MacDoc — 11 Jul 2009 @ 4:05 AM

  203. Rob #188

    Does planet earth emit any infrared rays in the wavelengths the CO2 is supposed to stop? Or put like this, how does the earth look like from “out there” does its signature/spectrum still contains the wavelengths within the 13-17um band in any significant amount or has most of it already been absorbed by the current CO2 layer? If not, how much is it left for CO2 to absorb.

    Rob, if you are not of a religious persuasion that bans any kind of climatic modelling ;-) you might look at David Archer’s 1D radiative transport model:

    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/cgimodels/radiation.html

    This model gives you as the default what a satellite sees looking down from 70 km. Note how less radiation comes from the 13-17 um band; this is because it comes from higher up, around the tropopause where it is colder — note the coloured temperature curves. What adding greenhouse gas does, is make this band broader, so more radiation gets emitted from high, cold layers. The whole climate system including the surface must then heat up a little to compensate and restore equilibrium.

    I remember having seen really observed IR spectra looking similar… somewhere on the Wide Wide Web.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 11 Jul 2009 @ 4:40 AM

  204. “Did you read what they’re actually passing? The bill will prohibit the state equivalent of DEQ from *enforcing* any law that mentions global warming.”

    Then they don’t mention global warming.

    Or they don’t pass a state law, they enact a federal one (thereby not overriding the international committment by saying “we shall reduce the CO2 output by 25% by 2030 and stop there.”

    Or someone will point out it’s dumb to pass a law against a law and it won’t be passed.

    Or…

    Comment by Mark — 11 Jul 2009 @ 4:54 AM

  205. Jacob Mack writes:

    I do not think we will have a run away global climate at 2 degrees or such drought and weather changes that the human population will be threatened in a major way. The data does not really point in this direction either.

    “Very dry” areas have increased from 12% of the globe to 30% since the 1970s, according to:

    Dai, A., Trenbert, K.E., and T. Qian 2004. “A Global Dataset of Palmer Drought Severity Index for 1870–2002: Relationship with Soil Moisture and Effects of Surface Warming.” J. Hydrometeorol. 1, 1117-1130.

    For “very dry” read “drought.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 5:02 AM

  206. “No, the poster at 13 asked your opinion of the paper, wondering if you think their 2.4C figure is plausible or not.”

    Well it’s not 2.4C now, and the error bar is 1.4C, so it’s likely that the right answer is within that range.

    ” Something tells me he won’t be doing that again .,..”

    Good.

    Why did they think I’d know? It was prompted by me answering someone’s query “what is the 2C based on?” and I answered “pre-industrial” well, actually 1900′s temperature, but that isn’t a lot different from the 1850 generally taken as the beginning.

    But all that required was READING THE STATEMENT.

    How that is supposed to indicate in depth understanding of a paper I’ve never read I fail to comprehend.

    Comment by Mark — 11 Jul 2009 @ 5:02 AM

  207. I think the science being discussed here and elsewhere in R-C is good and vital. However, I strongly believe that here and as a society we are perilously confusing the role of research scientists (developing understanding and accurate estimates) with the role of engineers (applying that scientific knowledge safely).

    There is a gulf of difference between the scientists’ confidence limits and probabilities and the engineers’ factor of safety. Safe application of science takes into account not only scientists’ view of uncertainties, but also other contingencies. Even as well as the physics of flight and aircraft structures are known, you would not want fly in an aircraft that was designed literally on that science, without a significant factor of safety (1.5, by FAA regulation). Same principle for bridges, buildings, etc. But no factor safety for planet Earth?

    Failures in the Earth system are already beginning to occur in a number of ways at a GMT increase of only 0.8 oC; GMT does not address huge regional differences in temperature increase; a temperature target doesn’t even address ocean acidification; and we are frittering our time here (and in numerous scientific papers) addressing 2oC as if it is a reasonable target???

    For me, it comes down to the need to “hit the brakes hard” – and I mean much more so than the tap on the pedal suggested in the R-C article of that title. I say that partly because I believe it is what the situation demands, and partly because the reality of the climate change problem won’t sink in to very many people until there is strong, persistent, pervasive advocacy that we all have to be accepting and making lifestyle sacrifices – right now. Not a decade or two or four from now. (I am thinking of those of us in the U.S. – we need to turn this corner.) Alternative energy technology will help, but we can’t build our way entirely out of the problem. Significant sacrifice is required too, and we had best get on with it.

    A token way to get the ball rolling would be advocacy of the elimination of frequent flyer miles, as an element of the climate bill. That is, elimination of an inducement to travel. I think that would grab attention, and bring reality to those who are affluent enough to have significant personal impacts on climate not just through air travel, but in other ways too. Aviation is but a small slice of GHG emissions, but the move of advocating this would be potently symbolic. What greater hope is there? The 2oC target, or even plaintive language such as “as far below 2oC as possible” offers no hope. We have already consumed our factor of safety — it is time to slam on the brakes.

    Comment by Larry — 11 Jul 2009 @ 5:24 AM

  208. Edward writes:

    China and India are interested in improving living conditions and the standard of living for their people by making cheap energy available. If that energy is most easily provided by the coal or oil resources they have available to them so be it.

    If 200 million Chinese citizens find themselves without fresh water because the glacier melt they depend on to feed their rivers goes away, so be it.

    If Shanghai is under water, so be it.

    If 400 million Indians lose their fresh water from Himalayan glacier melt, so be it.

    If a billion or more people in Asia starve to death when human agriculture collapses due to exploding drought, so be it.

    That’s what you’re saying, in effect.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 5:34 AM

  209. Richard Kinder, CEO of Kinder-Morgan, wrote an interesting article in the Houston Chronicle last Thursday.

    He claims the following USA energy use, measured in equivalent barrels of oil:

    US consumption – 47.4 MBOE/D (million barrels per day)
    Oil – 19.0
    Natural gas – 11.9
    Coal – 11.5
    Nuclear – 3.8
    hydro – 1.1
    wind & solar – 0.8

    My question is — are these numbers correct?

    He argues for natural gas and nuclear as answers for the next 10 to 20 years.

    Comments?

    Burgy

    Comment by John (Burgy) Burgeson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 9:53 AM

  210. #164 Mark,

    “Ah, a statement with NOTHING AT ALL to back it up.

    Well done.”

    Really?? I didn’t know I have not invented something? Wait a bit and see… I am trying to state, so much talent here, and so much fixation over impossibilities, and the “end of the world” will not be avoided without some huge sacrifices… How about sacrificing the limits imposed on your imagination! And unleash sheer energy from the sky!

    Now for those out there in love with standard wind turbines, good for you! But wind is not only confined near the ground. There is so much energy to tap in up there in the atmosphere, when I sleep, and hear the wind howl, I dream of dollars flying in the sky…..

    Comment by wayne davidson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 10:04 AM

  211. The argument about developing nations participation has two threads. The first is ownership, most of the damage to date comes from the developed nations. Second, that of per capita equity going forward. The answer to the first is ok, but going forward China and India will be major contributors. The answer to the second is that the per capita in China and India has increased by between three to four times since 1950 so they are not exactly innocents walking in the park.

    Eli, of course, has a simple plan to save the world (Part II)

    India and China and many other developing countries should reduce their emissions of black carbon by 90% or more in the next decade. This will not only significantly reduce warming of the climate, it will make a major contribution to the health of their people. Simple and economical methods of doing this are available.

    PS: Several sites including Rabett Run have been down for a couple of days due to Blogger unpleasantness. Visitors are now being accepted.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 11 Jul 2009 @ 10:27 AM

  212. Martin V., it might be just a nit, but something is amiss in your explanation (203): 70km is way above the tropopause and even higher than the stratosphere.

    Comment by Rod B — 11 Jul 2009 @ 10:36 AM

  213. John Burgeson, when someone (like Kinder) posts numbers without cites, they’ll be arguable because not precisely defined (energy use within the country? or also bought and paid for elsewhere on our account including shipping? used in/for products we import? etc), usually the best bet is to ask him for his sources. You could ask:
    http://www.kindermorgan.com/about_us/about_us_rich_kinder.cfm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2009 @ 11:27 AM

  214. …”Now for those out there in love with standard wind turbines, good for you! But wind is not only confined near the ground. There is so much energy to tap in up there in the atmosphere, when I sleep, and hear the wind howl, I dream of dollars flying in the sky…”

    You’ve got some sense, Wayne, of where we should be looking to get abundant energy, but I submit that energy won’t be harvested by dangling (perhaps heavy) tethered machines in a region of unstable, albeit abundant air flow.

    If, for a moment, you would consider using a vortex, instead of tethers, to connect the surface with upper level winds (these would perform a function similar to the water stream in a “lab aspirator”), your dreams of $$$ (and who hasn’t had them?) could be, IMO, more readily realized.

    In other, less windy regions lacking kinetic energy, there is still in the air, abundant CAPE (residual solar), existing either naturally (day, evening, summer), or through augmentation by transfer to air from waste heat sources, to produce a virtually inexhaustible supply of electrical energy.

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 11 Jul 2009 @ 11:41 AM

  215. #20 (Australian drought/.8 degree C rise)

    “Given the drought that already afflicts Australia, the crumbling of the sea ice in the Arctic, and the increasing storm damage after only 0.8°C of warming so far, a target of 2°C seems almost cavalier.”

    I’ve found many stories about the drought in Australia but haven’t been able to find an authoritative piece showing how the 0.8 degrees Celsius rise is linked to the drought in Australia as David has indicated. (showing the temp rise has changed this or that wind pattern and/or water flow around Australia, etc, etc) As I mentioned in post #20, I’m trying to sort through the hype and come to RC to help me do that. I asked David for some pointers to info but understand that answering blog questions is likely not his primary concern.

    Having just seen an emotional WWF commercial showing polar bears standing on pieces of ice, and indicating that these polar bears are in peril, I went searching for more information. I found stories about 4 polar bears that drowned in a storm and stories about 2 that were killed by scientists studying them when the scientists tranquilized the bears and the bears made their way back into the water and drowned. Other than that, all I could find was that some polar bears were struggling because of land use issues.

    I know polar bears have nothing to do with the topic but wanted to emphasize what I pointed out in post #20 that common members of the public, me, are indeed being fed half truths if not all out lies concerning global warming; I don’t think from the scientists themselves but I’ll put up WWF as an organization that is attempting to make us believe that those polar bears in the commercial were in imminent danger when they were probably just hanging out on some pieces of ice.

    It would be great to get direction from an official member of RC but there are many who seem knowledgeable blogging here, so if anyone can point me to substantive information showing clearly how the .8 degree Celsius change has caused the Australian drought, I would appreciate it much. I think that RC was set up to give the public real climate change information, helping us to separate reality from hype and I appreciate your efforts in that endeavor.

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:08 PM

  216. #214 Jerry, The tether idea is fantastic, I hope they resolve the engineering problems, it is a step upwards in the right direction :)… There is always winds up there, even over the less windy regions.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:19 PM

  217. Martin V., it might be just a nit, but something is amiss in your explanation (203): 70km is way above the tropopause and even higher than the stratosphere.

    Yes. An (imaginary) satellite looking down. Sees eveything coming out of troposphere and statosphere on its way to space, precisely what the questioner (Rob) wanted to know.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:50 PM

  218. Tad Boyd 11 Jul 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Tad, some links. One superficially amusing common thread many articles is, the bears will likely turn to us as a food source. Funny on the face of it but presumably we’ll then engage in some ugly interactions, with the bears lacking the essential edge provided by high velocity rifles.

    http://intl-icb.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/44/2/163

    http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2193/2006-180

    http://www1.nasa.gov/pdf/157360main_StirlingParkinson2006_Arctic59-3-261.pdf

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:51 PM

  219. LOL Bart… I did not say nothing has changed, but it is not all from AGW and it is certainly not a global catastrophe either; no way near yet.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  220. Re #210, on a historical note, already space pioneer Hermann Oberth proposed wind turbines suspended from giant kites in the upper atmosphere…

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 11 Jul 2009 @ 12:59 PM

  221. Re: Tad Boyd # 215

    Since you managed to weave polar bears into your question about Australia, perhaps you should put a little more effort into your search for information about their status (hint: they’re in more trouble than you suggest). You might start with Andy Revkin’s post on dotearth today: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/06/more-polar-bear-populations-in-decline/?hp

    Comment by Rick Brown — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:06 PM

  222. Edward says (10 Jul 2009 at 1:16 pm):

    “In the meantime, China and India are interested in improving living conditions and the standard of living for their people by making cheap energy available.”

    That deserves a bit of thought. Are they in fact interested in improving living conditions? (I see no evidence of this, and much that suggests that living conditions have gotten worse.) Or are they instead interested in increasing their national GNPs, as a means of increasing the power & prestige of the leaders, with the effects on the ordinary people being a distant afterthought?

    Comment by James — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:08 PM

  223. ” Really?? I didn’t know I have not invented something? ”

    No, you invented nothing.

    And then argued it.

    And now you think that this is something?

    [edit-lets keep this civil]

    Comment by Mark — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:12 PM

  224. Tad/#215

    “so if anyone can point me to substantive information showing clearly how the .8 degree Celsius change has caused the Australian drought, I would appreciate it much.”

    Tad – There is a post on RC about the situation in Australia that you can search for that goes into some detail. We can never know for sure what causes an individual heat wave or drought. But when something happens that we expect global warming to cause and/or exacerbate, then there is a growing likelihood that climate change is playing a role. Whether you consider this “clear” enough is up to you. This is just something that we’re not going to have absolute proof on until it is too late to do anything about it.

    Comment by Dean — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:35 PM

  225. Actually, Wayne I said I had doubts about tethers.

    What I suggested was to tap into greater wind speeds at higher levels by creating a “vortex tunnel” (wormhole, stargate…) in which buoyant air (natural or made-made) is sucked upward with greater speed and energy than it would be in the “no wind” case.

    I made the connection, because some months ago, don’t remember where, I read that strong “upper level winds” can actually, in some cases, intensify a thunderstorm, by increasing the strength of the updrafts within the cell. Can anyone verify this?

    Anyway, some suggestions on how the vortex could be created are given at http://vortexengine.ca

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:50 PM

  226. James,

    I see substantial effort by China to reduce pollution. China is closing many of their dirtiest coal power plants, and they are building much clean nuclear and wind generation. They are still building many new coal plants, of course, but the new one produce less pollution, especially locally.

    Comment by Greg Simpson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:52 PM

  227. [edit-lets keep this civil]

    Tell Wayne that!

    [moderator: Wayne, goes for both of you. Play nice!]

    Comment by Mark — 11 Jul 2009 @ 1:57 PM

  228. James says: “That deserves a bit of thought. Are they in fact interested in improving living conditions? (I see no evidence of this…”

    But the people in power want better lives for themselves.

    And, unless “trickle down” is complete bunkum, this better life will trickle down.

    They also have a much lower standard of living. It’s a populace that is fat, rich and happy that are the least problem to people in power: it’s ALWAYS the poor who have nothing to lose in revoultion that are the problem for those in power. Those who have no cake have nothing to lose in their life.

    Comment by Mark — 11 Jul 2009 @ 2:00 PM

  229. Greg Simpson 11 Jul 2009 at 1:52 pm

    China is also taking some serious steps on the consumption side:

    “Experts project that by 2010 the number of solar water heaters installed in China will equal the thermal equivalent of the electrical capacity of 40 large nuclear power plants.”

    http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/sciencetech/china-solar-hot-water-capacity-soon-to-be-equivalent-to-40-nuclear-plants/822

    Happily, there is -some- equivalent policy work being done in the U.S:

    http://www.alohapolitics.com/?p=522

    Here in Washington state, architects, the building industry association and a loose coalition of assorted cavemen are staunchly opposing the introduction of solar hot water requirements into building codes.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 11 Jul 2009 @ 2:09 PM

  230. Tad you may want to read this by Neville Nicholls at the BOM in Australia.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/r080521301858622/fulltext.pdf

    It’s from 2004 and refers to the 2002 drought, but the conclusion still applies in 2009.

    Comment by Ron Crouch — 11 Jul 2009 @ 2:26 PM

  231. I did a page on Pielke Sr. I did my best to respect the body of his contributions while separating the context of his work v. opinions in the realm of the AGW debate.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/roger-pielke-sr

    My goal is to treat the separation fairly and point out what looks like rather obvious errors in his opinion.

    As always, if anyone has relevant comments please inform me through
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/contact-info

    I will correct relevant errors for the page with a bias towards relevance and substance of the argument.

    Trying to move the debate away from the ‘bleating edge’ remains a good universal target.

    2C = 3.6F

    This is going to get interesting.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 11 Jul 2009 @ 2:29 PM

  232. On a related issue–the temperature in Almeria, Spain (southeast corner), which has the world’s greatest concentration of greenhouses, with reflective roofs (seen from space), the temperature is said to have dropped 0.3 C over the past few decades, while in the rest of Spain, it has risen 0.6 C.

    While superficially this is in the right direction, it has come at a cost–depleting ground water. It would seem that, at some point they’re going to have to consider the technology that can be found at http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com

    Instead of relying on trade winds (weak), they could use a solar tower, or preferably, an “AVE” to draw air through the system, humidifying it first. Concentrated brine would either be sent back to the sea or to evaporation ponds.

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 11 Jul 2009 @ 3:11 PM

  233. Thanks Moderator, I agree, [edit--I said lets play nice!] I am interested in bringing out the true potential in us all. And focus on solutions rather than bickering… Edit at will when I deviate…

    Comment by wayne davidson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 3:13 PM

  234. #218 Doug

    Thank you for the links. I couldn’t get to the first one for some reason but the other two did have good information as to why we should be concerned about the well being of the polar bears.

    I moved my family into a neighborhood in a rural area, in the forest and we often have coyotes and other predators roam through. I’m far from being an Urban dweller type and love interacting with nature, but as you suggested, if push comes to shove (and I hope it never comes to this) I do have a rifle and I’m glad the animals can’t shoot back. (I appreciate the coyotes, rabbits are cute but we’d be overrun without them. The occasional cougar tracks make me nervous at times).

    #221 Rick

    Thank you also Rick. I checked out Andy Revkin’s post. I have found articles at that level of information but tried clicking on some of the links to get deeper. I’m sure you are right, that more effort would certainly yield deeper information. I wasn’t actually trying to weave polar bears into my question but rather using that ad as an example of how in news and advertising for donations, we the public, are getting hype, making it difficult to determine what is real and what is hype. The NASA article Doug pointed to was the most useful I think because it actually talked about how polar bear fat content at a certain time of year gives an indication of their well being.

    #224

    Dean,

    Searching RC for Australian drought I did find an article about the brush fires. Thank you for that but the rest of your reply really answered my question concerning our ability to link current events to global warming. In the end “Is it clear enough for me?” is something I continue to struggle with. I thought that there may have been some very reliable computer model (or something) that showed cause and effect with sufficient vigor to make it “clear enough” for me, for the assertion that the Australian drought was brought on by global warming. I’m a software developer and I’ve worked with statistical models (not creating them, just coding them as specified by the actual statisticians). I worked in the financials industry 90 – 96 , then in supply chain from 98 – 01, now I’m in the clinical trials industry (but not coding anything to do with statistical models); so, I find it interesting that we can use such tools to make linkages like are reported for climate. I know that some climate modeling software is available for public consumption but haven’t put forth the effort to dig into what is actually there and make it run.

    Thank you all for replying,

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 11 Jul 2009 @ 3:22 PM

  235. #230 Ron (Australian drought)

    Thanks Ron. That article pointed out that warmer weather makes a drought worse than it would have been with cooler weather because it increases evaporation. Makes perfect sense. The article was really helpful to helping me with my original question by referencing Australian droughts all the way back to 1902. Concerning my search for links to Global warming causing the Australian drought, this article seams to show that drought in Australia is a regular occurrence. A more relevant question then may have to do with severity and frequency in regards to global warming.

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 11 Jul 2009 @ 3:43 PM

  236. (#235) Tad

    “A more relevant question then may have to do with severity and frequency in regards to global warming.”

    That’s only an educated guess on anyone’s part Tad, and based largely on observations to date, but then that applies to any unknown within science. One can only guess based upon the evidence so far that things will only get more exaggerated and exacerbated in a warmer world. That applies not only to the Australian drought, but to all aspects of climate change, whether it be loss of sea ice, loss of glaciers and ice caps, acidification of the oceans, desertification, mass migrations due to sea level rise, and so on. Things will simply change due to a domino effect, or, knock-on effect if you prefer, and that does not bode well for the economic upheaval that will ensue as a result thereof. Add in such factors as energy demands vs energy supply, shortcomings in potable water, a population that is projected to hit 9 billion from the present 6.5 billion by 2050, regional (and possibly global) conflicts over resources. Res ipsa loquitur. The bigger picture tells the whole story, not just climate change.

    But then this is not really a forum for discussing all of mankind’s ills. Only one aspect of them. What most fail to comprehend is the interrelationship between all of the issues.

    Comment by Ron Crouch — 11 Jul 2009 @ 5:30 PM

  237. #235 Tad as you say, droughts have a long history in Australia. The overall weather patterns in Australia are a function of its latitudinal position and of oscillations in the water temperatures in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. El Nino brings droughts to eastern and southern Australia (La NIna brings floods). Under normal conditions southern Australia gets winter rainfall as a result of fronts coming in from the southern ocean and crossing the continent. Northern Australia is in the tropics and gets rain as part of the monsoonal systems. Eastern Australia can also get addition rain from onshore winds from the Pacific as a result of either the southern systems or tropical lows heading south. South eastern Australia (southern Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania) could get rain from several different sources, had most of the major rivers, and has good deep soils, and so is a major agricultural region, supplying wheat and wool and meat etc to the world.

    The problem with global warming is that it seems to be changing these long established patterns. The southern fronts are being pushed further south, the tropical systems are not reaching as far south, and overall the continent is warming so that evaporation is increasing. As a result major rivers are drying, and droughts are lasting longer and being more severe. My gut feeling (sitting in the middle of the NSW agricultural regions) is that agriculture in southern Australia is not going to survive in any significant way (although there are individual regions where some activities will remain viable). There is already talk of farmers switching enterprises. Irrigation (which currently produces large quantities of fruit and vegetables and even rice) is dying out and water licenses being bought back by government. It is already so serious that even that arch sceptic, former prime minister Howard, sent one of his Senator friends north to see whether it was going to be possible to switch agriculture production to northern Australia (the answer is probably no because of nature of soils and weather patterns and tropical diseases etc), an astonishing move (quietly done) by a man representing conservative parties that see the 200 years of agriculture in southern Australia as a fundamental part of Australia’s character.

    So this is serious business, this climate change. If agriculture is greatly reduced in Australia there are countries that will have to look elsewhere for food. And which other agricultural countries are going to see similar changes?

    So plenty of room for a variable climate.

    Comment by David Horton — 11 Jul 2009 @ 5:46 PM

  238. Bill Woolverton (201) — While almost all of LIS was gone by 6000 BP, we have “Final disappearance of ice sheet remnants … occurred around 5000 BP.” from
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/1551245?origin=crossref&cookieSet=1
    concerning Ungava Pennisula.

    Unfortunately I can’t find my original reference, but it is just possible that the reference was to mainland ice which reformed (in what is now mainland Nunuvik) during LIA.

    As I have time I’ll keep digging.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 5:47 PM

  239. Sorry, I meant to add that there is also a debate about whether rising sea temperatures will add to the severity of future El Nino events. So a warmer drier continent with more severe “droughts” (relatively) more often.

    Comment by David Horton — 11 Jul 2009 @ 6:25 PM

  240. However, Mount Caubvick, Labrador, still has icefields. See the photo and map:
    http://peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=16570
    So in some sense the very last remnants of LIS on the mainland are still there.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Jul 2009 @ 6:42 PM

  241. Drought in Australia:

    The 2007 CSIRO Technical Report contains a discussion of attribution for the current series of droughts. Yes, “Recent Australian droughts (1994, 2002-03 and 2006-07) have not become drier than droughts that occurred earlier in the 20th century. However, the recent droughts have been accompanied by higher temperatures (refs).” Also has an extensive discussion of projections.

    G.

    Comment by GlenFergus — 11 Jul 2009 @ 7:09 PM

  242. #237 The phrase “So plenty of room for a variable climate”, inexplicably sitting at the end of my post and puzzling all who see it, was actually meant to appear near the end of my first paragraph. My apologies.

    Comment by David Horton — 11 Jul 2009 @ 7:12 PM

  243. Tad (215), there have been a couple papers come out in the last year that place the Australian drought in the context of natural variation and global climate change:

    (1)
    Murphy and Timbal, 2008. A review of recent climate variability and climate change in southeastern Australia. Intl. J. Climatology 28:859-

    Abstract: Southeastern Australia (SEA) has suffered from 10 years of low rainfall from 1997 to 2006. A protracted dry spell of this severity has been recorded once before during the 20th century, but current drought conditions are exacerbated by increasing temperatures. Impacts of this dry decade are wide-ranging, so a major research effort is being directed to better understand the region’s recent climate, its variability and climate change. This review summarizes the conditions of these 10 years and the main mechanisms that affect the climate. Most of the rainfall decline (61%) has occurred in autumn (March-May). Daily maximum temperatures are rising, as are minimum temperatures, except for cooler nights in autumn in the southwest of SEA closely related to lower rainfall. A similar rainfall decline occurred in the southwest of western Australia around 1970 that has many common features with the SEA decline. SEA rainfall is produced by mid-latitude storms and fronts, interactions with the tropics through continental-scale cloudbands and cut-off lows. El Niño-Southern Oscillation impacts on SEA rainfall, as does the Indian Ocean, but neither has a direct influence in autumn. Trends have been found in both hemispheric (the southern annular mode) and local (sub-tropical ridge) circulation features that may have played a role in reducing the number and impact of mid-latitude systems around SEA, and thus reducing rainfall. The role of many of these mechanisms needs to be clarified, but there is likely to be an influence of enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations on SEA climate, at least on temperature.

    (2)
    Ummenhoffer et al, 2009. What causes southeast Australia’s worst droughts? GRL 36: L04706, doi:10.1029/2008GL036801.

    Conclusion:

    We have demonstrated that Indian Ocean variability, more than ENSO, is the key driver of the major droughts over the past 120 years in the region of southeastern Australia examined in this study. In particular during virtually all of Australia’s iconic droughts, including the Federation Drought (1895–1902), the World War II drought (1937–1945), and the present “Big Dry” (post-1995), the IOD [Indian Ocean Dipole] has remained persistently ‘positive’ or ‘neutral’. During the negative phase of the IOD, unusually wet conditions dominate across southern regions of Australia, due to an interaction between the tropics and the temperate zone that increases regional moisture advection. The conspicuous lack of the “negative” phase of the IOD during the major droughts thus deprives Southeast Australia of its normal rainfall quota. Future work will use climate model output to test the robustness of our main findings. Despite the prominent role of the Indian Ocean in driving southeastern droughts, the severity of the “Big Dry” is still exceptional; this appears to be linked to recent large increases in air temperature.

    IOD events may be predictable out to several months in advance [Luo et al., 2008]. Exploitation of this predictability could therefore lead to significant improvements in water planning and agricultural management in a drought-stricken region. This heightens the need for improved and sustained Indian Ocean observations. Recent non-uniform warming trends in the Indian Ocean [Ihara et al., 2008] raise the possibility that the characteristics of positive and negative IOD events might be changing. Modifications to the frequency and decadal cycles in the IOD could result in major impacts for Indian Ocean rim nations.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 11 Jul 2009 @ 7:12 PM

  244. Correction: Ummenhofer et al.; one f not two.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 11 Jul 2009 @ 7:18 PM

  245. #217, one of the interesting things you can do with the web MODTRAN is move your sensor up and down in the atmosphere, as well as pointing it to the surface or up into space. It is a delightful learning tool.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 11 Jul 2009 @ 10:13 PM

  246. Re 243 Jim Bouldin – that is very interesting.

    It raises an issue in my mind – the Asian Brown Cloud. Of course, without any additional understanding, it’s concievable that recent changes are actually opposite what the ABC would do, requiring some additional causes (internal variability, AGW, ozone depletion, …) (PS I really don’t know much about the IOD). But more generally, something I’ve wondered is: while in the global annual average, aerosols could be said to partly cancel (net effect) the warming from anthropogenic greenhouse forcing, the circulatory, latitudinal, regional, seasonal, diurnal, and internal variability changes would be some combination of reduced changes from reduced AGW + some other changes related to aerosol forcing. How would that look on climate model output graphics? – I haven’t really found it.

    Tad – global warming is generally expected (so far as I know) to result in poleward shifts in the midlatitude storm tracks, which will cause poleward expansion of subtropical arid regions – although with some regional variations, of course. However, ozone depletion in the Southern Hemisphere may also have a qualitatively similar effect (I don’t know offhand the magnitude relative to the AGW effect). There is some natural variability in the latitudinal position of the midlatitude storm tracks.

    Re 188:
    clarification of 196:
    “There is some added complexity in that downward radiation from the stratosphere will increase at wavelengths where CO2 is not saturated, but what is especially important is that the net upward radiation at the tropopause level decreases with increasing CO2 ”

    I got mixed up and made it sound as if the increase in downward radiation subtracted from the effect of decreased upward radiation, but the opposite is of course true – both effects contribute to a decrease in the net upward radiation at the tropopause level.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Jul 2009 @ 10:32 PM

  247. ” – I haven’t really found it.”

    Except that GHG forcing + cooling aerosol forcing results in less precipitation globally in general than reduced GHG forcing that produces the same global average temperature, as found in “Climate Change Methadone” elsewhere at RC.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Jul 2009 @ 10:36 PM

  248. 195. Jerry Gardner:
    1. Small cabins don’t qualify.
    2. Anything attached to the grid doesn’t qualify.
    3. Anything with a generator doesn’t qualify.
    4. Anything in Hawaii doesn’t qualify because people in Hawaii need neither heat nor air conditioning. If I were in Hawaii, I would need air conditioning, but I am not you. California doesn’t qualify because the climate is too nice there also.

    That disqualifies all of your entries. I was talking ONLY about a house like most Americans have with American energy use habits completely disconnected from the grid and without any supplements from any other source of energy. Put the house in a reasonable climate like Illinois or New York or Alaska. My highest energy bills happen in August.

    NOW provide ALL of the energy for the house with solar cells and storage batteries only. No cheating by adopting an energy conserving lifestyle or a heat pump. It has to be like most American houses. One brownout in 10 years and you loose.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 11 Jul 2009 @ 11:10 PM

  249. Burgy (#209),

    Your source seems to be giving numbers for primary resource consumption as they appear to scale with the left side of this graph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USEnFlow02-quads.gif

    The numbers seem OK if you include biomass with wind and solar.

    One should be cautious though. Nuclear power is not very efficient while hydro power is. The amount of primary energy consumed in nuclear power is more than is delivered as electricity. Thus the comparison is a little skewed towards nuclear power.

    New nuclear power is about the most expensive form of new power generation, more than wind, gas, or solar. http://www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/Energy/E09-01_NuclPwrClimFixFolly1i09.pdf so that your source’s crystal ball only works if nuclear power is forced on us.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Jul 2009 @ 11:38 PM

  250. 128 Philip Machanick

    Thorium isn’t in use yet for the same reasons coal hasn’t been replaced by nuclear yet: KING COAL is a $100 Billion per year industry in the US alone. In other words: politics.
    Thorium is attractive because there is more than twice as much thorium as there is uranium.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:02 AM

  251. Re Edward Greisch – Why no grid connection? How is that cheating? Most American houses are grid connected. Storage may be more efficient if it doesn’t have to be at all individual buildings, and will be less necessary if energy is mixed together from type and over distance into the total supply at any one place.

    Jerry Gardner (195) highest price for grid without batteries, presumably including inverters, was $20,000. With batteries, and a pool!, $50,000. Your figure: $1,000,000

    Solar panel prices range from maybe $1 to $6 per peak W now; some figures from EIA suggest around $3/peak W. Let’s say $4/peak W. A typical panel in most of the lower 48 states may get 170 W/m2 at least ( http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/06/groundhog-day-2/#comment-127040
    ). So $4/peak W * 1000 peak W/ 170 average W = approximately $24/average W.

    Average person’s electrical use, ~ approx. 1500 W. This includes at home, at work, and via products purchased, etc. Let Residential electricity = x * 1500 W per person; x is less than 1, perhaps 1/3, though I’m not sure offhand.

    Family of 4, average power needed is x * 4*1500 W = x * 6000 W.

    Cost: x * $24/average W * 6000 W = x * $144,000

    $144,000 is a lot more than Jerry Gardner’s figure, but that’s for home, office, and industry for four people, and it’s roughly 1/7 of your figure. And prices are heading down. Just 1 question – how much is the inverter? I doubt it makes up the full difference between 144,000 and 1,000,000. Then there’s efficiency improvements, etc. You can preheat your water by using a hybrid system to use waste heat from the panels and/or in a seperate portion of roof space – water heating panels are much less costly per unit area and in terms of energy, but they are not of much use for electrical production; hence the need for other things.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:34 AM

  252. David Horton says:

    “The overall weather patterns in Australia are a function of its latitudinal position and of oscillations in the water temperatures in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. El Nino brings droughts to eastern and southern Australia (La NIna brings floods).”

    This is not quite true. More recent research shows that the weather patterns governing southern Australia are driven by the Indian Ocean Dipole and not El Nino. El Nino affects northern Australia as does La Nina.

    Therefore, for droughts in southern Australia, we should be monitoring what is going on in the Indian Ocean and not the Pacific. This is why the Australian BOM considers both El Nino and the IOD in seasonal forecasts.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:36 AM

  253. David Horton,

    Desertification is a “creeping phenomenon” involving many positive feedbacks which tend to accelerate the process to the point of irreversibility, as is observed in the Sahel of Africa.

    What I don’t understand is why nobody in South Australia (or in any other place for that matter) can’t come up with a plan to fight the problem “at the margin” which would involve harvesting “humidity” from the seas to the south and west and moving it eastward and northward, pushing the “dry line” back toward the north.

    It won’t be instantaneous, but progress could be made with a properly conceived plan, including reforestation, which could “make the winters longer and wetter”.

    As I mentioned in a previous post here, “reflective” greenhouses seem to be reducing temperatures in southeastern Spain, although ground water is being depleted as a result of that particular scheme.

    Seawater greenhouses could be part of the solution as well as Vortex Ventilators which could serve as “artificial trees” to shade and cool nearby areas.

    All I read is talk and nothing about action–have all the Aussies just given up and are resigned to let the entire continent just dry up and blow away without a fight? It just doesn’t seem possible.

    One Australian, Don Cooper, agrees. Is anyone down there paying any attention to him and his presentations?

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:51 AM

  254. 129 John E. Pearson:
    Read
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/pu-isotope.htm
    more carefully.
    Iran and North Korea cannot make a Pu240 bomb that they could use, would kill mostly their own people if they tried, and would be caught very early in the process. Al Qida cannot do it. Technical sophistication and suicide workers don’t go together. If North Korea did make a Pu240 bomb, I doubt that they could deliver it because Pu240 has too short a half life, meaning Pu240 is too radioactive. They don’t have rad hard electronics. Ask yourself: could they make a missile guidance system with tubes instead of transistors? Tubes are not reliable enough or small enough for missile guidance computers. Most transistors don’t work long enough when irradiated with neutrons. One transistor failure out of thousands would be enough to send the missile off course.

    A Pu240 bomb, being very radioactive, is too easy to detect.

    Making a Pu240 bomb may seem simple if you forget how radioactive and how poisonous Pu240 is. In the US, it would be done entirely by robots. North Korea and Iran don’t have robots, so they would have a lot of dead machinists.

    You should assume that globalsecurity.org told you the worst story they could if they told you the truth. Even if globalsecurity.org told you the flat truth, I don’t see a Pu240 bomb as a believable threat. Was North Korea’s first bomb a Pu240 bomb? NO. My guess is that the yield was too high for a North Korean Pu240 bomb. Even though it was a fizzle, my guess is that it didn’t fizzle badly enough. If anybody would have built a Pu240 bomb it would have been the North Koreans, and they went to the trouble of trying to make something better. Remember, they wanted to convince the US government that they had a nuclear bomb, so they needed a credibly nuclear yield. To be credible, the yield had to be too big to be a chemical explosive. How much RDX could the North Koreans have put in a hole in the ground? So now you can try to find out the exact yield of the North Korean fizzle, and see if you can distinguish what kind of a fizzle it was. Also try to find out if there were any signs of a lot of Pu240 dust or oxide in the air near North Korea.

    Al Qida, North Korea and Iran would do much better with conventional explosives than with a Pu240 bomb. It just doesn’t make sense that they would even try to make a Pu240 bomb.

    32 nations have nuclear power plants. Only 9 have the bomb if you count North Korea. Anybody crazy enough to want to make a Pu240 bomb would be too crazy to succeed. The idea that nuclear power plants mean nuclear bomb proliferation is a coal industry scare tactic. Again: King Coal stands to loose $100 Billion per year in the US alone if you quit being afraid of nuclear power. That $100 Billion per year would pay for a huge number of nuclear power plants [fuel included] and lots of oversight.

    My computer is too old for http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/
    or their server is down right now.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:58 AM

  255. Droughts, historically have beenn recorded which were of immense severity prior to 1850. I do think that we humans are needlessly speeding things along, but do not think that even if we get the global mean temperature increase below 2 degrees that we cannot or will not have widespread droughts and potential world catastrophes in terms of both weather and climate. I think reducing emissions by an adequate amount to slow global warming is still a band aid (albeit large) on the global situation. I am of course all for trying to reduce emission by a far greater %. I just do not see the solutions being implemented, whatever they may be.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 12 Jul 2009 @ 1:09 AM

  256. @ Tad Boyd 11 Jul 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Depending on rain in Australia is like playing craps. Sometimes the roll of the
    dice, or the fall of the rain, goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. If the dice are
    weighted a little, you’ll still win on some rolls, and lose on some others, but you
    can’t say for any single roll, “I lost because the dice are weighted” (and a crooked dealer will be sure to emphasize your wins). Global warming is skewing the Australian odds towards more drought, more wildfire, and less crops. Few people know
    the odds, or even appreciate the bets they’ve made in terms of depending on rice
    exports, or building their houses in the bush. 200+ people paid the wildfire bet
    with their lives this year. Not everybody who smokes dies of cancer; not everyone
    who dies in a drought, or wildfire, or starves to death, dies because of global
    warming. The US could offset some loss of Australian rice exports by replacing it
    with corn destined for ethanol, but that would reduce Archer Daniels Midland
    profits; we could let the “free market” determine the relative value of ADM profits
    and poor third world lives, but given taxes, subsidies, the government’s power to
    print money, and the ability of ADM and Oxfam to pay lobbyists to influence
    government actions, the market is far from free. As long as you win some of the
    time, even though the odds are getting more and more stacked against you, do you
    think the game is fair?

    About polar bears -fuzzy, white, photogenic symbols of the Arctic-

    Possible Effects of Climate Warming on Selected Populations of Polar Bears(Ursus
    maritimus) in the Canadian Arctic
    IAN STIRLING and CLAIRE L. PARKINSON, ARCTIC, VOL. 59, NO. 3 (SEPTEMBER 2006) P.
    261–275

    “Furthermore, in Western Hudson Bay at least,
    recent studies have confirmed that the ice is melting
    earlier, apparently in response to climate warming, and
    that both the condition of bears and their population size
    are declining (Stirling et al., 1999; Gagnon and Gough,
    2005; Regehr et al., 2005; I. Stirling and N.J. Lunn,
    unpubl. data).”
    “…there is a clear overall trend toward progressively earlier
    sea-ice breakup. A linear least-squares fit through the data
    points of Figure 2b yields a slope of -0.75 ± 0.25 days/year,
    which is statistically significant at a confidence level
    exceeding 99% (p = 0.003). ”
    “Consequently, over those decades, the entire
    polar bear population of Western Hudson Bay has been
    forced to come ashore progressively earlier to begin fast-
    ing and also to fast for a longer period…”
    “Figure 3 shows the decline in mean estimated mass of
    lone (and thus possibly pregnant) adult female polar bears
    in Western Hudson Bay from 1980 through 2004. Their
    average weight declined by about 65 kg (from 295 to about
    230 kg), a change that is statistically significant ([math that won't format] p <
    0.001).”
    “in Western Hudson Bay, the decline in population size, condition, and
    survival of young as a consequence of earlier breakup of
    the sea ice brought about by climate warming have all been
    well documented (Stirling et al., 1999; Gagnon and Gough,
    2005; Regehr et al., 2005; I. Stirling and N.J. Lunn, unpub.”

    Journal of Wildlife Management 71(8):2673-2683. 2007 doi: 10.2193/2006-180
    Effects of Earlier Sea Ice Breakup on Survival and Population Size of Polar Bears in
    Western Hudson Bay
    ERIC V. REGEHRa,1, NICHOLAS J. LUNNb, STEVEN C. AMSTRUPc, and IAN STIRLINGd

    “Survival of juvenile, subadult, and senescent-adult polar bears was correlated with
    spring sea ice breakup date, which was variable among years and occurred
    approximately 3 weeks earlier in 2004 than in 1984.We propose that this correlation
    provides evidence for a causal association between earlier sea ice breakup (due to
    climatic warming) and decreased polar bear survival.”

    Are there lots of polar bears surviving now? Yes. Are the images of polar bears
    isolated on small ice floes symbolic rather than actual representations? Of course.
    Can the average guy tell whether the bear in a photograph weighs 295 or 230 kg, and
    if that is statistically significant? Doubtful, but when it comes time to vote, I’ll
    bet most remember the symbolic picture, and won’t even know the science. At least
    you have come to inquire, Tad.

    Can we prove that global warming killed THAT polar bear? The ranger shot him.
    Because he threatened humans. Because he was roaming in a populated area. Because he
    was eating garbage. Because he was starving, Because he fasted longer. Because he
    came ashore earlier. Because the ice melted earlier. Because of global warming. QED?

    Do your gut instincts tell you whether the summer ice melt will accelerate, or
    reverse course? Will polar bears be threatened with extinction because of AGW? How
    long will it take? Do you gut instincts raise alarms if you are traveling at 30
    mph(48 kph) toward a bridge abutment 1/2 mile(0.8 kilometer) away? If you are on a
    supertanker which will take 5 mi(8km) to stop, you’d best be abandoning ship. I’m
    comfortable driving a car, and am qualified to captain charter boats with ~20 times
    the mass of my car. Few are qualified to captain supertankers, and I have no gut
    feeling what the mass ratio of them to my car is. I doubt that anyone has an
    accurate gut feeling of what the mass ratio of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 is to
    my car, or how ponderous the changes that CO2 will make will be. Some people,
    including me, trust that Jim Hansen has a good idea, because he has devote his life
    to doing the math and developing an understanding. Others trust Jim Inhofe.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 12 Jul 2009 @ 1:25 AM

  257. #252 Thanks Richard, I was trying to keep it as simple as possible, and I am used to thinking in terms of Pacific Ocean, which does seem to have an effect in the east as well as the north. I also don’t know what effect rising ocean temps will have on the IOD, do you?

    #253 Jerry it is only in recent times that Australian farmers are starting to come to terms with climate change, after more than a decade of denial from conservatives (and not much better from the new Labor government, who just love coal mines) and their supporters among farmers organisations etc. The leading National Party (the farmer’s political party) members in federal parliament are still denialists, and refusing to support any GHG reduction measures. So it is very hard to convince farmers themselves that this isn’t “just another drought” but a sign of the future, and hard to get adaptation measures underway. Even a reduction in irrigation is being fought tooth and nail by farmers groups and right wing think tanks. But there is the beginning of people starting to think about changing crops and animal varieties and land use practice. But reforestation? No, land clearance still going on, and any attempt to stop or even reduce it is being fought hard. I can’t see any cause for optimism.

    Comment by David Horton — 12 Jul 2009 @ 1:48 AM

  258. 142 Barton Paul Levenson: You must have gotten a price from the coal industry.
    Nuclear: 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour or 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour or 1/3 cheaper than coal:

    HyperionPowerGeneration makes nuclear power plants in a factory:
    From: Jim Jones @hyperionpowergeneration.com>
    To:
    Date: Tuesday, February 3
    Subject: Re: $.05 to .06 per KWh

    Assume HPM costs $30M and plant side doubles it:

    $60M divided by 25,000kw = $2,400/kw
    $2,400/kw divided by 5 years = $480/KWyr
    $480/KWyr divided by 8760 hours = $.0547945/KWhr (Call it 5 and half cents per KWhr)

    OR

    $60M divided by 20,000 homes = $3,000/home
    $3,000/home divided by 5 years = $600/home/year
    $600/home/year divided by 12 months = $50/home/month (How’s that for an electric bill?)

    Jim
    ———————-
    Reference: “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear power. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist.
    Page 211: “In 2005, the production cost of electricity from
    nuclear power on average cost 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour; from
    coal-fired plants 2.21; from natural gas 7.5, and from oil 8.09.
    American nuclear power reactors operated that year around the
    clock at about 90 percent capacity, whereas coal-fired plants
    operated at about 73 percent, hydroelectric plants at 29 percent,
    natural gas from 16 to 38 percent, wind at 27 percent, solar at 19
    percent, and geothermal at 75 percent.”
    ————————
    Read: “Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy”, by B. Comby
    English edition, 2001, 345 pp. (soft cover), 38 Euros
    TNR Editions, 266 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France;
    ISBN 2-914190-02-6
    order from: http://www.comby.org/livres/livresen.htm
    Read a review of this book by the American Health Physics Society at:
    http://www.comby.org/media/articles/articles.in.english/HealthPhysics-NUC-July2002.htm

    http://www.ecolo.org
    Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy [EFN]

    Nuclear power is 30% cheaper than the coal power we have been duped into using.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:31 AM

  259. CO2 absorption is close to saturation:

    Have you considered the case of Venus? If CO2 absorption is close to saturation, why is Venus hotter than Earth? It isn’t THAT much closer to the sun, but lead is a liquid there.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:38 AM

  260. Replies to (Drought in Australia)

    Thanks all for your replies. I’ve had my specific question answered as well as several I probably wouldn’t have thought to ask.

    #256 Brian

    I appreciate that you’ve shared your thought process with me. I’m afraid that the older I get, the less trust I seem to have. It’s a sad thing really. Politicians, I am most wary of. Even though I’m far less equipped than probably everyone else blogging here, I will continue to try to put the pieces together for myself and when I run into a point of contention in my thinking, do what I can to resolve it; And since several here have availed themselves to me, I’ll likely continue to take advantage of RC bloggers’ kindness as questions arise.

    You have nothing to gain by convincing me because really, I’m nobody in the grand scheme of things, so I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts on my question.

    Tad

    Comment by Tad Boyd — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:44 AM

  261. Why don’t I hear any crickets or frogs or whatever they were outdoors at night any more? 2 weeks ago I heard 1 cricket. Now, Nature is dead silent. I hear only machinery sounds: cars and air conditioners. It used to be noisy after midnight. No cyotes either.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:48 AM

  262. Edward Greisch 11 July 2009 at 11:10 PM

    Edward, your link points us to “Environmentalists for Nuclear Power”. Could you do everybody a favor and stick to nuclear power as a topic? I’m sure you know something about that subject. I personally would never follow your advice about anything because you’ve destroyed your own credibility by insisting on propagating misleading and inaccurate rumors about PV technology, but perhaps you’re better informed about nuclear energy.

    You appear to unable to contain your enthusiasm about nuclear power, to the point that you can resist trashing other power generation technologies, a leading indicator that your enthusiasm about nuclear power has deranged your judgment.

    You do realize you’re doing actual harm by providing misinformation of this kind, don’t you? Can you see that? Do you understand that fabrications of the kind you’re spreading affect decisions that real people make?

    Also, you forgot condition #5 in your latest “challenge”:

    “Anybody with a clue about how PV technology is deployed and used is disqualified.”

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Jul 2009 @ 3:05 AM

  263. ‘”An effort on the scale of the Apollo mission that sent men to the Moon is needed if humanity is to have a fighting chance of surviving the ravages of climate change. The stakes are high, as, without sustainable growth, “billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse”.

    This is the stark warning from the biggest single report to look at the future of the planet – obtained by The Independent on Sunday ahead of its official publication next month. Backed by a diverse range of leading organisations such as Unesco, the World Bank, the US army and the Rockefeller Foundation, the 2009 State of the Future report runs to 6,700 pages and draws on contributions from 2,700 experts around the globe. Its findings are described by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, as providing “invaluable insights into the future for the United Nations, its member states, and civil society”.’

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/the-planets-future-climate-change-will-cause-civilisation-to-collapse-1742759.html

    Well, there’s good news. The U.S. alone did do Apollo, even while we were trashing Vietnam, simultaneously building “The Great Society” -and- feeding voracious consumer habits. Presumably the entire world can do a bit better. Of course, back then the U.S. at least was not dominated by a bunch of wet blankets insisting that “our best days are behind us, we absolutely cannot improve the smallest iota about our technologies or habits without simply laying down and dying right on the spot”. That would be the climate change deniers I’m speaking of, of course. Real patriots, them.

    Captcha “the preachy”. Hah!

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Jul 2009 @ 4:00 AM

  264. Edward Greisch (#248),
    Let’s make it a fair contest with your preferred energy solution. Put a house in Illinois or New York. Disconnect your house from the grid — anything connected to the grid doesn’t qualify, you say. NOW provide ALL of the energy for the house from a nuclear reactor in your garage or basement. One meltdown in 10 years and you lose. We’ll be waiting for a statement from your accountant.

    Comment by CM — 12 Jul 2009 @ 6:34 AM

  265. Edward Greisch:

    If North Korea did make a Pu240 bomb, I doubt that they could deliver it because Pu240 has too short a half life, meaning Pu240 is too radioactive. They don’t have rad hard electronics

    The half-life of Pu-240 is 6.5ka, one-fourth of that of Pu-239. Not enough of a difference to be of consequence. What you missed is the big difference between the two: Pu-240 is about 10,000 times more likely to spontaneously fission, producing neutrons instead of alpha particles. It’s the kind of radioactivity that’s different. (And yes it complicates handling the stuff… but humans are inventive.)

    To me that’s a giveaway that you don’t have a clue.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 12 Jul 2009 @ 9:15 AM

  266. US Senator Inhofe “Vows a full investigation” into “suppressed” EPA report claiming no such thing as AGW. And guaranties that the cited above G8 deal is dead on arrival… Not that the deal will change anything, except for UK government which has been fantastic on Carbon reductions, The Senator and acolytes would have trouble explaining the disappearing Arctic Ocean ice, not that someone is capable of “Hoaxing” vanishing multi year ice, and even further, failing to match their statements with Polar ice disappearing in tandem with world wide temperatures being flat, not rising for ten years now, as they like to claim, how to explain the disappearing ice then??? Those trying to explain a long term cycle, beware! Polar people ancestors housing ruins, going back 5000 years prove otherwise.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seasonal.extent.1900-2007.jpg

    Someone should send the Senator a memo!

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:06 PM

  267. Greg Simpson says (11 July 2009 at 1:52 PM):

    “I see substantial effort by China to reduce pollution. China is closing many of their dirtiest coal power plants, and they are building much clean nuclear and wind generation.”

    After having first created that pollution. And there’s still increased urbanization, etc.

    You might find it illustrative to think of China (or indeed, any urban society) from the viewpoint of say a battery chicken farmer. The more chickens he can crowd into his farm & the less he can spend on supplying food & fresh water and cleaning the cages, the greater his profit. However, if he packs them too tightly & keeps the cages too dirty, the “wastage” will increase and his profit will diminish accordingly. So the trick is to find the optimum point that maximizes profit.

    “They are still building many new coal plants…”

    Enough said?

    Comment by James — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:27 PM

  268. Here’s the _Nature_ article from the ANDRILL work:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7236/abs/nature07867.html

    “… an understanding of the behaviour of the marine-based West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) during the ‘warmer-than-present’ early-Pliocene epoch (approx5–3 Myr ago) is needed to better constrain the possible range of ice-sheet behaviour in the context of future global warming…. a switch from grounded ice, or ice shelves, to open waters in the Ross embayment when planetary temperatures were up to approx 3°C warmer than today and atmospheric CO2 concentration was as high as approx 400 p.p.m.v.”

    Uh oh.

    So that took a very long time to warm up — low rate of change.
    This time — very fast.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:28 PM

  269. Edward Greisch says (11 July 2009 at 11:10 PM):

    “California doesn’t qualify because the climate is too nice there also.”

    You’ve OBVIOUSLY never spent much time in California :-) Look at today’s weather for say Palm Springs, or a typical summer in Sacramento.

    “Put the house in a reasonable climate like Illinois or New York or Alaska.”

    Now why would you think those places have “reasonable” climates? But in fact I grew up in northern New York state, and don’t remember ever encountering air conditioning until I went off to college.

    “No cheating by adopting an energy conserving lifestyle or a heat pump. It has to be like most American houses.”

    Why? Seems like changing an energy-wasting lifestyle is the first thing – and the cheapest & easiest – to do. Nor is it all that hard. Quite apart from your parochial idea of what most American houses are like, you might think about the fact that much of this lifestyle of yours is only about a generation old.

    “One brownout in 10 years and you loose.”

    Hardly fair, since the power company has lots more than that.

    Comment by James — 12 Jul 2009 @ 12:56 PM

  270. Hank Roberts 12 July 2009 at 12:28 PM

    Quoting a bit more:

    “Our data provide direct evidence for orbitally induced oscillations in the WAIS, which periodically collapsed, resulting in a switch from grounded ice, or ice shelves, to open waters in the Ross embayment when planetary temperatures were up to approx3 °C warmer than today and atmospheric CO2 concentration was as high as approx400 p.p.m.v. ”

    So in a nutshell and roughly speaking, the grand yet unintentional experiment we’re running today has already been performed albeit w/the surrogate input of orbital forcing (if that’s the correct way to put it) to induce the disappearance of the WAIS. The result of the ancient “run” seems to confirm that the WAIS is quite fragile.

    So what happens if the orbital forcing is not in “bad” phase w/our mucking about w/the atmosphere? For that matter, is it or is it not? I suppose I should go find out.

    More work for Spencer Weart, too!

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Jul 2009 @ 1:14 PM

  271. David said:
    I also don’t know what effect rising ocean temps will have on the IOD, do you?

    Don’t know what effect it will have but there was a study done last year on the effect it has had from 1880 to 2004:

    Ihara et al., 2008. Warming Trend of the Indian Ocean SST and Indian Ocean Dipole from 1880 to 2004. J. Climate 21:2035

    Abstract:

    The state of the Indian Ocean dipole representing the SST anomaly difference between the western and southeastern regions of the ocean is investigated using historical SST reconstructions from 1880 to 2004. First, the western and eastern poles of the SST-based dipole mode index are analyzed separately. Both the western and eastern poles display warming trends over this period, particularly after the 1950s. The western pole tends to be anomalously colder than the eastern pole from 1880 to 1919, whereas in the interval 1950–2004 the SST anomalies over the western pole are comparable to those over the eastern pole though there are occasional outliers where the eastern pole is anomalously colder than the western pole.

    The tendencies of the occurrences of positive and negative dipole events in September–November show three distinct regimes during the period analyzed. In 1880–1919, negative dipole events associated with La Niña events occur more frequently than positive events. In 1920–49, some weak positive events occur relatively independently of El Niño events over the Pacific. The period of 1960–2004 is characterized by strong and frequent occurrences of positive events associated with El Niño events.

    Summary and discussions

    The state of the Indian Ocean dipole mode is investigated using SST anomaly data from 1880 to 2004. The SST anomalies over the western and eastern poles of the Indian Ocean dipole show a clear warming trend during the entire period of analysis, particularly after the 1950s. The warming trend appears in the western pole around the 1910s, about a decade earlier than in the eastern pole in both the ERSST and Kaplan SST datasets, which were reconstructed by different methods, although the limitation of the quality in the historical SST data disallows a precise discussion on this issue. The relationship between the SST anomalies averaged over the western pole of the dipole, WEIO, and the SST anomalies averaged over the eastern pole, EEIO, shows different features in the earlier period compared to the later period. In 1880–1919, WEIO tends to be anomalously colder than EEIO most of the time. Whereas in 1950–2004, the values in the WEIO are generally comparable to the values in the EEIO. However, the existences of occasional outliers where WEIO is anomalously much warmer than EEIO stand out.

    In 1880–1919, more negative Indian Ocean dipole events occur in September–November than positive events. In 1920–49, some positive events occur in the ERSST data but these events are weak. Few negative events occur in this period. Strong and frequent positive events appear after 1960. These positive events are characterized by both significant anomalous warming over the western pole and significant anomalous cooling over the eastern pole, whereas only significant cooling compared to the climatology over the eastern pole is observed in the earlier two periods. With respect to the association with Pacific events, positive dipole mode events are strongly significantly linked with El Niño events in 1950–2004 and negative events with La Niña events in 1880–1919. Two different historical SST reconstructions are used in this study, but overall our results are not sensitive to which SST datasets are used.

    There is ongoing debate in the research community regarding whether the Indian Ocean dipole mode is a phenomenon that is independent of ENSO. Our composites maps of Indo-Pacific SST anomalies during positive (negative) events demonstrate a strong El Niño (La Niña) signal over the Pacific during the period between 1950 and 2004 (1880 and 1919). At the same time, analyses of observational data from the late nineteenth century to the present performed in this paper and in Ashok et al. (2003), as well as some modeling work (Behera et al. 2006; Bracco et al. 2005; Lau and Nath 2004; Fischer et al. 2004), indicate that the dipole events can sometimes occur without ENSO. Some weak positive events in 1920–49 are examples. Also, the results presented in this paper make us speculate that the dipole mode events in the early twentieth century are influenced by the warming trend that started over this region during that period. In 1880–1919, before the appearance of the strong warming trend over this region, WEIO tended to be anomalously colder than EEIO most of the time, and thus we see the strong negative events show in Fig. 4 , since we have used the climatology of the entire period from 1880 to 2004 as the reference. It can be said that the warming trend appeared earlier in WEIO than in EEIO; thus, the values of WEIO caught up with those of EEIO before the warming trend started over EEIO. After the 1960s, unlike in the early twentieth century, the values of WEIO are mostly comparable to those of EEIO. However, strong positive events that are characterized by both significantly warmer than normal WEIO and significantly colder than normal EEIO occasionally appear; something that is not found in the earlier two periods.

    It is interesting that the eastern pole sometimes cools among the strong warming trend over this region. In contrast to the surface warming trend of the Indian Ocean, Alory et al. (2007) found a subsurface cooling trend of the main thermocline over the Indonesian Throughflow region, that is, near EEIO, in 1960–99, the interval using the new Indian Ocean Thermal Archive. Thus, it can be speculated that water carried to the surface by upwelling during positive dipole events is becoming colder and results in a colder EEIO during positive events in recent decades. We also hypothesize that shoaling of the thermocline over the EEIO, corresponding to a subsurface cooling trend (Alory et al. 2007), can make this region more susceptible to the wind–thermocline feedback and leads to frequent occurrences of positive events in recent decades. Thus, the emergence of intense and frequent positive dipole events in recent decades may be speculated to have some connection to the trend of the climatic conditions over this region.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 12 Jul 2009 @ 1:23 PM

  272. Martin Vermeer 12 July 2009 at 9:15 AM:

    “To me that’s a giveaway that you don’t have a clue.”

    Elsewhere Edward has also said:

    “You don’t buy fuel every day for a nuclear power plant. The fuel is built in to the reactor and is part of the building cost. You remove and RECYCLE the fuel once every 10 years.”

    Going beyond being a gross oversimplification, this is just wrong, so wrong that it’s deceptive. There is a spectrum of fuel replacement methodologies in use w/commercial power reactors; a few reactors are essentially in a continuous refueling mode (RBMK, but let’s not go there), others are replenished on a periodic basis.

    Here’s a handy link describing typical scenarios in the U.S.:

    http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2006/02/2005-refueling-outages.html

    Edward I think is well intentioned but has let his enthusiasm carry him away. What I wish he’d do is confine his misinformation to the specific area of his enthusiasm. There is work to be done and needless friction is not helpful.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Jul 2009 @ 1:24 PM

  273. Edward Greisch writes:

    142 Barton Paul Levenson: You must have gotten a price from the coal industry.
    Nuclear: 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour or 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour or 1/3 cheaper than coal:

    When are your figures from, 1970? Nobody charges only 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour these days, let alone 1.72.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 Jul 2009 @ 1:32 PM

  274. ““One brownout in 10 years and you loose.”

    Hardly fair, since the power company has lots more than that.”

    Well, apart from it should be lose, what’s so bad about that?

    He’s insisting that nuclear is great. And the current rid system has a minority of power produced by nuclear AND has to deal with massive surges (which isn’t the case when it’s just one house rather than millions).

    Comment by Mark — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:08 PM

  275. More:

    Constraints on the amplitude of Mid-Pliocene (3.6-2.4Ma) eustatic sea-level fluctuations from the New Zealand shallow-marine sediment record.
    Naish TR, Wilson GS.
    Philos Transact A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2009 Jan 13;367(1886):169-87.

    “… This paper presents a synthesis of faunally derived palaeobathymetric data for shallow-marine sedimentary cycles corresponding to marine isotope stages M2-100 (ca 3.4-2.4Ma). Our approach estimates the eustatic sea-level contribution to the palaeobathymetry curve by placing constraints on total subsidence and decompacted sediment accumulation. The sea-level estimates are consistent with those from delta18O curves and numerical ice sheet models, and imply a significant sensitivity of the WAIS and the coastal margins of the EAIS to orbital oscillations in insolation during the Mid-Pliocene period of relative global warmth. Sea-level oscillations of 10-30m were paced by obliquity.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:20 PM

  276. ““No cheating by adopting an energy conserving lifestyle or a heat pump. It has to be like most American houses.”

    Why? Seems like changing an energy-wasting lifestyle is the first thing – and the cheapest & easiest – to do.”

    Because

    1) it can just as easily be used for wind/solar, making it orthogonal to the test being done. One variable at a time
    2) accountants like Thuranga keep continuing the idea that change costs and this would then, in her estimation, be a cost. Either then used to not change the process or to be added on to the “cost” of any change thereafter.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:51 PM

  277. Exactly what I think of G8 accords which are never really enforced :)

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=385×335803

    Comment by wayne davidson — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:55 PM

  278. I must say, the Hyperion reactor Edward mentions is quite interesting. Edward has infected me with his enthusiasm; the notional simplicity of the device is pretty intriguing, very appealing. Can any of the ground-dwelling nuclear experts here comment on this idea?

    –What’s the probability it gets a license from the NRC?

    –When a unit is breached after statistics catch up with the thousands of reactors proposed to be deployed, what’s the downside? Hyperion proposes burial sequestration for operational units- does this restrict them to locations above ground water tables? Would the fuel be particularly mobile if it encounters ground water?

    –Is it reasonable to dismiss radiolysis effects in such a device?

    –For the circulating connection of the device to steam turbines, what challenges could we expect?

    –What will be entailed in reconditioning units returned to Hyperion for service? In particular are the material handling requirements for such a proposal realistic if the concept should enjoy commercial success, thus requiring Hyperion to reprocess hundreds of units per year? Would we expect the neutron flux inside such a device to induce radioactivity in the non-nuclear components of the reactor?

    http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com

    Edward, in all kindness I’d rather hear from somebody else. Though I of course cannot stop you answering, please don’t bother replying on my account.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Jul 2009 @ 2:58 PM

  279. “Exactly what I think of G8 accords which are never really enforced :)”

    Y2K was worked on worldwide.

    CFCs was changed worldwide.

    Why the CERTAINTY that this won’t be actioned?

    The only reason I can think of is that Big Oil has more money to spend on making it not happen than white goods/fridge makers did.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Jul 2009 @ 3:23 PM

  280. Mark (#131) writes:

    “Richard 103, people HAVE informed themselves. They’ve informed themselves of the current cut and paste arguments against AGW.

    They haven’t informed themselves of whether these arguments are *right*, mind.

    But that’s not their problem.”

    If people are repeating and/or defending bogus arguments, that is very much their problem. Especially when the stakes are as high as they are with AGW.

    Comment by Chris Winter — 12 Jul 2009 @ 3:44 PM

  281. re Chris #280.

    It isn’t a problem in their eyes.

    As long as “debate” is still going on, even if it’s bogus debate, they can always point to “the science isn’t settled, so lets wait”.

    And the stakes are only high if you consider other people. The costs are bourne by the rich and the damage for not mitigating is not seen by them. After all, if it turns out that the rich man’s home is flooded and some poor person has the new beachfront property, he’ll just get it bought and make his new house on it.

    Comment by Mark — 12 Jul 2009 @ 4:02 PM

  282. Re 273 – not that I am prone to agreeing with Edward Greisch, but those numbers are presumably before profit, or… Well, the number for coal seems about right, so far as I know, though it is much less than what anyone pays for retail electricity now.

    Industry gets the cheapest rates for electricity, but still more than the cost of producing coal electricity.

    The profit margin is not THAT great, is it?

    And yet the transmission/distribution costs do make up the difference.

    Where is the missing money? Anyone?

    (PS in terms of costs of replacement to maintain total generation capacity, solar power is also quite cheap – maybe 2 to 3 cents/kWh, or maybe even less, depending. In case that’s how the nuclear costs were figured (?)).

    Re 274 – I’m thinking that on site solar power generation would reduce the average transmitted electric power, so the same capacity could handle greater power variations in proportion to the total average power.

    Also, if the big solar power plants out west and some of the geothermal,hydroelectric,biofuel,and wind plants all connect to the same HVDC lines, the ratio of average to peak power transmission can be reduced along those lines by having geothermal,biofuel, and hydroelectric plants respond to variations in wind and solar.

    But fair point in 276, although some solar technologies are linked to energy efficiency so it might not be precisely orthogonal in all cases (?).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 12 Jul 2009 @ 4:06 PM

  283. #271 Thanks JIm.

    Comment by David Horton — 12 Jul 2009 @ 5:45 PM

  284. Rob, don’t miss David Archer’s inline reply and link, added to your earlier question

    Nukees — please. Not here yet again. You’d be topical at, for example,
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/07/01/brave-new-power-for-the-world/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jul 2009 @ 5:57 PM

  285. @Nuclear/Solar
    Cost of nuclear waste do not go into account in recent comparsions with cost efficiency.

    Use industrial biochar production to relativate Co2 in the process of solar device construction.

    Comment by save gaia — 12 Jul 2009 @ 7:39 PM

  286. David Horton,

    Nothing gets accomplished overnight–but if anything is to be accomplished, it will be because someone has done something, even on a small scale, that captures the imagination of the public–something that appears to them to be almost appears like magic.

    I can’t help but notice that the St. Vincents Gulf temperature now is 22 C, including something like a 3 C positive anomaly, whereas the normal winter air temperature in Adelaide may be something like 12 C. Using “cooling tower” calculations, I think it should be possible to heat up the air by contacting it with 22 C sea water raining through it to a temperature of at least 18 C. Such air, would also be 90+% saturated with water vapor, and due to the 2+% density difference between it and the surrounding air at 12 C, should be positively buoyant.

    A 25-50 m floating generator on the Gulf should be able to produce a “water spout” sized vortex which rises several kim, being visible due to the condensation within. Increases in precipitation downstream should be measurable.

    Still–not very practical at this size, but an “enduring waterspout” could be one helluva tourist attraction! Hopefully it might also serve to open some minds.

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 12 Jul 2009 @ 8:21 PM

  287. David Horton says:

    “#252 Thanks Richard, I was trying to keep it as simple as possible, and I am used to thinking in terms of Pacific Ocean, which does seem to have an effect in the east as well as the north. I also don’t know what effect rising ocean temps will have on the IOD, do you?”

    The IOD is the difference in sst between the tropical East Indian Ocean and the tropical West Indian Ocean (http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/IOD/about_IOD.shtml). If the tropical East Indian has a lower sst relative to the WIO then the IOD is in positive phase and rainfall is reduced in Southern Australia. There is an interaction between IOD and ENSO that affects Australian rainfall patterns (http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/IOD/negative/). If rising SSTs in the Indian Ocean affect the differential between the WIO and EIO then the weather patterns are accordingly affected. I can only assume that increasing SST will dampen the positive IOD in favour of neutral or negative IOD but I am probably wrong on that.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 12 Jul 2009 @ 9:16 PM

  288. @196 Patrick,
    Would there be a specific trend in certain specific wavelength?
    I ask this for the reason to test planets for growing civilizations.

    Comment by save gaia — 12 Jul 2009 @ 9:33 PM

  289. Richard (287): Dead links.

    If rising SSTs in the Indian Ocean affect the differential between the WIO and EIO then the weather patterns are accordingly affected. I can only assume that increasing SST will dampen the positive IOD in favour of neutral or negative IOD but I am probably wrong on that.

    According to the paper cited above (271), there is a concordance between rising SSTs and strength of the dipole over the last 130 years, and between positive IOD and ENSO events since 1950. Since we are now officially in an ENSO that is supposed to last through the austral summer, the likelihood of yet another dry year in the southeast seems good. Not good news obviously.

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 12 Jul 2009 @ 10:37 PM

  290. Tue, 03 Feb 2009 is the date of the email from Hyperionpowergeneration. You have the URL and the email address. Ask them.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Jul 2009 @ 11:57 PM

  291. Hank Roberts says (12 Jul 2009 at 5:57 pm):

    “Nukees — please. Not here yet again.”

    How about the same for the anti-nukees? As in if they’d stop dragging in inflated cost estimates and such, I’d be more than happy not to have to point out how wrong they are :-)

    Comment by James — 13 Jul 2009 @ 12:40 AM

  292. Mark says (12 Jul 2009 at 2:08 pm):

    “Well, apart from it should be lose, what’s so bad about that?”

    You don’t want a fair test? Seems to me fair would mean the same performance as the grid over some suitable period, no?

    BTW, there’s already considerable operational experience with small-scale nuclear power. Consider radioisotope thermal generators: the ones on the Voyager probes have been running for something over three decades now, without maintenance or outages of any sort.

    “…AND has to deal with massive surges (which isn’t the case when it’s just one house rather than millions).”

    In fact, it’s just the other way around. One house tends to have much greater surges (as percentage of load), than the grid as a whole. As for example starting my table saw will dim the garage lights for a second.

    Comment by James — 13 Jul 2009 @ 1:03 AM

  293. Doug (#278)

    The Hyperion reactor uses uranium hydride for fuel, something that has not been used in commercial reactors. Because uranium hydride reacts violently with air or water, one can anticipate a similarly poor safety record as found with sodium cooled reactors except that since it would be the fuel reacting, one can expect guaranteed contamination of the environment with radioactive material, sort of like a dirty bomb. It is doubtful that installations of the sort envisioned by the company could be secured against a fairly simple security breach that would spread contaminants across a fairly broad area. Even on a military base, the extra effort needed to protect the reactor may well make it less useful than, say, a diesel generator. Certainly the planned frequent transport of the reactors could not possibly be secured at any reasonable cost owing to the nature of the fuel.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Jul 2009 @ 7:19 AM

  294. RE #66 & “let’s not pretend there would be no cost in the short or medium term for reducing emissions. Oil, coal and gas are cheap; nuclear, solar, wind and biomass are currently more expensive. You can’t wish that fact away.”

    Well, the actual problem is that the externalities for that cheap fossil and nuclear fuel (not to mention gov subsidies and tax breaks) have not been factored in. Even if one were to exclude the externalities from GW (cost for GW harms), the other externalities, both enviro/health harms & military expenses & all the other stuff, plus cut the subsidies and tax breaks (don’t forget big oil/coal buy the politicos, who in turn provide these tax-breaks and subsidies), the cost for a gallon a gas may exceed $50 per gallon & coal-base electricity may be over $1 per KWH. That would then provide a level playing field for wind and solar, etc.

    Now let’s include the externalities for GW. Consider what price you might charge for all life on planet earth and its viability, divide that by the amount of fossil fuel used, and you’d get a whopping $infinity per gallon or KWH.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Jul 2009 @ 8:29 AM

  295. “You don’t want a fair test? Seems to me fair would mean the same performance as the grid over some suitable period, no?”

    It is a fair test.

    The position is that nuclear is good to go NOW.

    And NOW, such changes are not extant at his house. So he should disconnect from the grid and WITH NO OTHER CHANGES, put in place nuclear.

    This is fair.

    And brownouts? Well California encountered brownouts because the power companies wanted to up the price.

    Other forms of brownout is unexpected demand from other places and failures in the grid. There are also contractual agreements with bigger customers compared to residential. E.g. the hospital gets proority, as to police, fire, ambulance and the armed forces. Then big industry. Your home is right at the bottom of the list.

    First it’s his own house, so unexpected is not a problem. There’s no grid, so no grid to fail and he’s the only customer.

    So that seems fair too: if his system has no better brownout resistance under such perfect conditions, it will be worse under real ones.

    Comment by Mark — 13 Jul 2009 @ 8:51 AM

  296. Jim Bouldin says:

    “Richard (287): Dead links.”

    My apologies. The closing bracket is not supposed to be part of the URL. Just delete the close bracket and the link works.

    Comment by Richard Steckis — 13 Jul 2009 @ 10:09 AM

  297. David (in #123),

    Thanks for the response. That is an interesting idea about tipping forward but not back. Surely, a serious loss of altitude in Greenland would not be recovered but presumably cutting the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air would avoid that. If the American Pika were to go extinct while we have not yet cut the concentration, then that would seem to be irreversible.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Jul 2009 @ 11:17 AM

  298. #278, #293, Doug, Chris:
    a relevant link on UH3:
    http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/192553-ccGMfM/webviewable/192553.PDF

    While using up my welcome here on an OT subject, I must say that the Hyperion reactor concept made my neck hairs stand up. This is a nuclear materials control nightmare. The first production run is 4000 reactors… and those must be transported (by road? By ship? By air??) to, and five years later, back from, their respective deployment sites, packed with hot waste. Thousands of compact, stealable objects travelling around the globe. Shudder.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 13 Jul 2009 @ 11:21 AM

  299. James 13 Jul 2009 at 12:40 am

    Agreed. In my case I “react violently” to hyperbole intended to deceive. There’s scads of actual information to draw on in making the case for one technology versus another, exaggerations and distortions just lead to degeneracy, cultural dementia. In my case they’re directly counterproductive, making me suspicious. Something genuinely virtuous can stand on its own merits without recourse to deceptive assassinations of alternatives.

    Chris Dudley 13 Jul 2009 at 7:19 am

    Thanks, that’s the sort of detail I was wondering about. The self-modulating nature of the reactor is very attractive, from an engineer’s perspective it’s positively seductive. My concerns are the same as yours, basically a matter of worry over statistics. It still seems like a marvelous idea for particular contexts, like so many others. Same as an RTG- indispensable in certain situations.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Jul 2009 @ 12:12 PM

  300. Re 288 (save gaia) – I’m not quite sure what you mean.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Jul 2009 @ 12:42 PM

  301. Mark says (13 Jul 2009 at 8:51 am):

    “The position is that nuclear is good to go NOW.”

    The Voyagers, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and others. All using small nuclear power sources (radioisotope thermal generators), all providing power for decades with no interruptions or service calls. How much more evidence do you need?

    Comment by James — 13 Jul 2009 @ 1:27 PM

  302. “The Voyagers, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and others…”

    Safely a very long way away.

    With very low demands.

    Yeah.

    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/science/index.html

    285W.

    You call that evidence???

    Comment by Mark — 13 Jul 2009 @ 1:45 PM

  303. James wrote: “How about the same for the anti-nukees? As in if they’d stop dragging in inflated cost estimates and such, I’d be more than happy not to have to point out how wrong they are”

    Yes, please, why don’t you “point out” once again that installing concentrating solar thermal power plants on one percent of the USA’s deserts is equivalent to paving the entire continent with solar panels and is an environmental disaster so horrific that nuclear war would be preferable. Then tell us how the actual cost overruns of billions of dollars, delays of several years and counting, and serious safety problems afflicting the “next generation” French AREVA reactor being built in Finland, are “inflated estimates” made up by “anti-nukees”. And you can conclude by asserting yet again that anyone skeptical of nuclear power is driven by religious mania.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Jul 2009 @ 2:07 PM

  304. James wrote: “The Voyagers, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and others. All using small nuclear power sources (radioisotope thermal generators), all providing power for decades with no interruptions or service calls. How much more evidence do you need?”

    Evidence of what exactly? That an energy technology suitable for small-scale electricity generation in space probes can easily be scaled up to power the national grid? I’d say a whole lot more evidence is needed, if that’s what you are suggesting.

    And of course there is another energy technology that has been successfully used to generate electricity for space probes and satellites and space stations “for decades with no interruptions or service calls” — photovoltaics.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Jul 2009 @ 2:15 PM

  305. Warning — ASCII art, but relevant to the digression and those who prolong it:

    http://jni.sdf-eu.org/trolls.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jul 2009 @ 2:16 PM

  306. Hank Roberts 13 Jul 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Sorry, the record’s stuck (SKKZZZK) the record’s stuck (SKKZZZK) the record’s stuck (SKKZZZK) the record’s stuck…

    How about if we don’t repeat ourselves? Can we do (not?) that?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Jul 2009 @ 2:34 PM

  307. I admit this is a step in the right direction, but in general I think the recent g8 summits were an across the board failure. They couldn’t even pass a no-brainer resolution like this one: http://bit.ly/e0c7K Very disappointing on the whole.

    Comment by Angry Environmentalist — 13 Jul 2009 @ 2:38 PM

  308. Doug Bostrom (270) — Orbital forcing is rather dull for at least the next 20,000 years. NOt a current consideration.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Jul 2009 @ 3:07 PM

  309. David B. Benson 13 Jul 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Tanks! I was working my way through Weart’s history hoping to get a handle on that while thereby also being made to absorb more information. I should probably finish doing so.

    Dr. Weart deserves some kind of medal, BTW.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Jul 2009 @ 3:34 PM

  310. Barton #208
    In brief you stated:
    “If 200 million Chinese citizens find themselves without fresh water, Shanghai is under water, Indians lose their fresh water if a billion or more people in Asia starve to death so be it. That’s what you’re saying, in effect…”

    That’s not what I’m saying, it’s what the countries of India and China have said to the G-8 or the world. We may not like their decisions, but they probably did not like being colonized and having their resources pillaged by European countries for centuries either.

    If there is to be a “CO2 solution” Europe and the USA must take the lead and experience the “pain” of being the first to make the transition. This is not something that the developed countries can shove down the throats of the developing countries. If China and India are not worried about dwindling water supplies “so be it”.

    The Aral sea has virtually disappeared as a result of diverting the inflows for irrigation and there are Chinese rivers that virtually dry up during the year for similar reasons.

    We need to clean our own house first and then we’ll be in a better position to sell India and China on changing course.
    thanks
    Ed

    Comment by Edward — 13 Jul 2009 @ 4:29 PM

  311. James #222
    Take your statement
    “Or are they instead interested in increasing their national GNPs, as a means of increasing the power & prestige of the leaders, with the effects on the ordinary people being a distant afterthought?”

    and apply that to the leaders of any government not just China and India. The G-8 countries would love to foist the burden of cleaning up their CO2 problem on the developing countries and are working round the clock to deflect any from their own countries.

    There are no clean hands in this mess but Europe and the USA created the problem and must lead the cleanup. China and India wil follow in 20-30 years but too late to keep CO2 much below 500ppm.
    Thanks
    Ed

    Comment by Edward — 13 Jul 2009 @ 4:33 PM

  312. Doug Bostrom (309) — By all means read Weart’s excellent history, but for orbital forcing also see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_forcing

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Jul 2009 @ 5:02 PM

  313. SecularAnimist says (13 Jul 2009 at 2:07 pm):

    “Yes, please, why don’t you “point out” once again that installing concentrating solar ther/mal power plants on one percent of the USA’s deserts…”

    If you can’t possibly avoid the subject, why not first go back to that thread, or to the article you cited as a reference, and try to come to terms with the fact that your 1% figure is a grievous underestimate of what would be needed? Even the authors of that article admit that, though they still downplay the real requirements in order to sell their hopelessly over-optimistic plan.

    Comment by James — 13 Jul 2009 @ 5:53 PM

  314. David B. Benson 13 Jul 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks again, David. Mostly was curious about -where- we are in the grand polyphasic scheme of things. I did a paper about this ages ago, back when it was barely possible to do an FFT on a 8 bit microprocessor -if- one had a brother w/the chops do do the assembly language for free. Great fun, though as it turned out only repeating other folks’ work and we had pretty severe limitations on what we able to accomplish with the tools at hand.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Jul 2009 @ 5:57 PM

  315. Just to be clear, when I say “paper” I mean an undergraduate paper for a glaciology class. Published I ain’t.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Jul 2009 @ 6:01 PM

  316. James – (and note to others – let’s not just repeat ourselves, but build upon what we’ve started) –

    “and try to come to terms with the fact that your 1% figure is a grievous underestimate of what would be needed?”

    Indeed, even I became a bit concerned with their 2100 numbers for land use – however,

    “their hopelessly over-optimistic plan.”

    In some ways optimistic, but in some key areas, actually pessimistic. They deliberately do not take into account energy use efficiency improvements and limit technological advancement beyond 2020 or so, to come up with a conservative estimate with respect to the potential for solar energy. I suspect land use can still be much less than their year 2100 numbers. In particular, as older panels’ performance degrades, new panels can be installed in optimal locations (approx. latitude-tilt, unshaded locations, in large plants and on roofs) while older panels might fill in the land area to boost summer production, or be moved to the south side of buildings to boost winter production, etc. Cheaper panels will also allow more efficient land use with closer spacing and reduced tilt. Energy consumption per capita has remained roughly constant over the last 2 or 3 decades in the U.S. – the “Solar Grand Plan” actually allows it to grow, whereas there is actually much potential for reduction.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Jul 2009 @ 6:39 PM

  317. ————————————————
    Subject: Heavy Boots
    Organization: University of Wisconsin
    Author: Unknown
    Originally posted 1985 approx.
    ————————————————

    HEAVY BOOTS

    About 6-7 years ago, I was in a philosophy class at the University of
    Wisconsin, Madison (good science/engineering school) and the teaching
    assistant was explaining Descartes. He was trying to show how things
    don’t always happen the way we think they will and explained that,
    while a pen always falls when you drop it on Earth, it would just
    float away if you let go of it on the Moon.

    My jaw dropped a little. I blurted “What?!” Looking around the room, I
    saw that only my friend Mark and one other student looked confused by
    the TA’s statement. The other 17 people just looked at me like
    “What’s your problem?”

    “But a pen would fall if you dropped it on the Moon, just more
    slowly.” I protested.

    “No it wouldn’t.” the TA explained calmly, “because you’re too far
    away from the Earth’s gravity.”

    Think. Think. Aha! “You saw the APOLLO astronauts walking around on
    the Moon, didn’t you?” I countered, “why didn’t they float away?”
    “Because they were wearing heavy boots.” he responded, as if this made
    perfect sense (remember, this is a Philosophy TA who’s had plenty of
    logic classes).

    By then I realized that we were each living in totally different
    worlds, and did not speak each others language, so I gave up. As we
    left the room, my friend Mark was raging. “My God! How can all those
    people be so stupid?”

    I tried to be understanding. “Mark, they knew this stuff at one time,
    but it’s not part of their basic view of the world, so they’ve
    forgotten it. Most people could probably make the same mistake.” To
    prove my point, we went back to our dorm room and began randomly
    selecting names from the campus phone book. We called about 30 people
    and asked each this question: 1. If you’re standing on the Moon holding
    a pen, and you let go, will it a) float away, b) float where it is,
    or c) fall to the ground?

    About 47 percent got this question correct. Of the ones who got it
    wrong, we asked the obvious follow-up question: 2. You’ve seen films of
    the APOLLO astronauts walking around on the Moon, why didn’t they fall
    off?

    About 20 percent of the people changed their answer to the first
    question when they heard this one! But the most amazing part was that
    about half of them confidently answered, “Because they were wearing
    heavy boots.”

    I say, science education must be at an all time peak !!!

    ————————————————
    Subject: Heavy Boots
    Organization: Iowa State University, Ames, IA
    ————————————————

    We read an article claiming that the average American does not know the
    correct answer to the following question:

    If a pen is dropped on a moon, will it:
    A) Float away
    B) Float where it is
    C) Fall to the surface of the moon

    So a bunch of us TA’s got together and gave our physics classes quizzes asking
    this question. Out of 168 people taking the quiz, 48 missed the question.
    The responses are below. Some people didn’t write comments. The spelling and
    grammer were not changed, however, clarifying comments are enclosed in []‘s.

    Physics 324 – Modern Physics for Engineers
    ——————————————

    “A body is at rest tends to stay at rest, plus there’s no gravity”

    “The gravity of the moon can be said to be negligible, and also the moon’s
    a vacuum, there is no external force on the pen. Therefore it will float
    where it is.”

    “The pen will float away because the gravitational pull of the moon, being
    approximately 1/6 that of the earth, will not be enough to cause the pen to
    fall nor remain stationary where it is. The gravatational pull of other
    objects would influence the pen”

    Physics 222 – Second Semester Calculus-based Introductory Physics
    —————————————————————–

    “Because moon has gravitation 1/6 of the gravitation of earth the force will
    be small toward the moon [so it will float away]”

    Physics 221 – First Semester Calculus-based Introductory Physics

    “It will fall to the earth by force of gravity and by the attraction between
    the earth and the moon”

    “Because the gravitational pull of the moon is much weaker than that of the
    earth. And object such as a pen is so lite that it will float”

    “Because there are no external forces if you let go [it will float where it is]

    “External forces that are present on the moon will attract the pen. There
    isn’t gravity on the moon as there is on earth so the pen won’t drop.”

    “Since there is no gravity it will float and fall slowly. It will not fall
    like in the ground quickly because there is no gravity”

    “The force of gravity on the moon is a fraction of the gravity on the earth,
    so the moon would not be able to attract the pen to inself. Rather, it would
    only be able to suspend the pen”

    “It will eventually fall to the surface of the moon because of the slight
    gravitational field plus the moment of inertia about the moon. Also with
    angular momentum being conserved, it must fall. I=MR^2″ [We were studying
    conservation of angular momentum when I gave this quiz]

    “The pen will fall to the surface of the moon. As we let go we will
    introduce some initial enerty into the pen thus putting it in a forward
    downward motion. Since on the moon there is no force of resistance the pen
    will fall very slowly towards the surface”

    “If you are standing on the moon holding a pen and you let go, it will float
    where it is. It will not fall to the surface of the moon because a
    gravitational force strong enough to cause this does not exist. In addition,
    the pen does not have a lot of external force on it, so it will not be likely
    to move”

    “The pen will fall to the surface of the moon because the moon generates a
    gravitational field by rotating and the pen must act under this force”.

    Physics 111 – First semester Non-calculus Physics
    ————————————————-

    “It will float where it is because there is no gravity force on the moon.
    Also, if you just let go there isno acceleration so it should just float
    where it is.”

    “There is no gravitational force on the moon, the pen therefore has no
    weight so its mass has no effect on ‘where it goes’. Plus, you know, there
    is no wind to blow the pen up there! =)”

    Astronomy 150 – Physics for humanities majors
    ———————————————

    “[It will float where it is] Because there isn’t a real strong gravity force
    on the moon. Actually it is like having none at all. If I remember right,
    it is only like 2.9m/s (force of gravity)”

    “It will float away because the gravity of the moon won’t pull it down to the
    surface, but it won’t stay where it is because there is always some force
    acting on mass – (even though the gravity of the moon isn’t strong enough)”

    “The gravity of the earth will pull it more than that of the moon, so it will
    float toward earth”

    “It’ll float away because your body is not able to stay completely still. So
    it would float in the direction your hand was shaking”

    “There is not much gravitational pull on the moon to have it fall to the
    surface. The pen is so small and light, it probably would not be affected
    by the gravitation of the moon so it would float away.”

    “There is no gravity in space so if you just let it go, it will just gently
    float away.”

    “It will float away because the gravitational force is less than here on the
    Earth where it would fall. I think it will float away because of what I have
    seen of the space rooms NASA uses to get astronauts ready for flight.”

    “Theoretically, it should float away because it has no mass, gravity does not
    pull the pen towards the surface at a great enough rate to make it fall,
    however it does have enough force to keep it floating and ultimately it will
    drift away.”

    “Because there is no gravity on the moon. Therefore it would float away
    because there is nothing to hold it there or to pull it to the surface of
    the moon”

    “[It will float away] Because there would be no gravitational force to hold
    it there or make it fall to the surface of the moon”

    “There is no gravitational pull on the moon to cause pen to come back towards
    surface. The pen would float away probably toward the gravitational pull of
    the earth.”

    “[It will float where it is] Because there is no gravitational pull. It will
    neither fall towards the moon because there is no gravity to pull it there
    nor is there any other gravitational force that will pull it away from the
    moon.”

    “Float where it is and will not move because there is no gravitational pull,
    it will not float away unless it is pushed.”

    “The gravity on the moon is such that it won’t be pulled to the surface, and
    since the pen won’t make any movement it should float where it is.”

    “It will float where it is until a force acts upon it. There is no gravity
    to act upon it.”

    Astronomy 120 – Physics for brain-dead
    ————————————–

    “[It will float away because there is] no gravity to hold it and no atmosphere”

    “[It will float away] because the gravity on the moon is not as great as it
    is on the earth”

    “Because the earth is a greater mass and the pen will be pulled toward the
    greater body because of gravity. The moon doesn’t have that great of a
    gravitational pull”

    “No gravitatational pull so it won’t fall and no force pulling it away so it
    will float where it is”

    “Lack of gravity on moon allows pen to float in space”

    “Because there is no gravitational pull on the moon, there is no pull towards
    the moon or away from.”

    “The moon doesn’t have gravity like the earth which would bring the pen down
    to the surface instead the moon’s atmosphere would cause it to float above
    the moon’s surface.”

    “Gravity will not pull it down, because there is less of it. It shouldn’t
    float away just because I’ve never seen it happen. There’s a balance between
    gravity and the opposite force.”

    “It would float where it is because gravity would not let it fall to the
    surface (there is no gravity) on the moon. It would not float away because
    it has no mass.”

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 13 Jul 2009 @ 7:26 PM

  318. Heavy boots, indeed.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Jul 2009 @ 8:20 PM

  319. Edward (311, etc), you make some good points, but I have one minor possible exception: Why do you say, “India and China will follow in 20-30 years”? Is that just an intuitive opinion? Or do you have some insight to their long-range plans?

    Comment by Rod B — 13 Jul 2009 @ 9:42 PM

  320. Heavy boots – in defense of other fields of academia, I want to mention that one time after class, I had a discussion with my philosophy professor about quantum mechanics, and he seemed to be reasonably informed.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 13 Jul 2009 @ 10:40 PM

  321. @300 patrick 027
    I just ask if there is a diffrent appearance of earth emitted wavelength, a characteristic trend, due to the higher Co2 concentrations.
    Aware of this and taking in account the sharp rise and short time interval this should be a typical anomaly, an indicator for inteligent live on planets.
    Ofc this is a little odd, but not when you work on something seti related, right? (Sorry for my bad english)

    Comment by save gaia — 13 Jul 2009 @ 10:51 PM

  322. @317 I dont find this spectecular, infact its irrelevant and wrong to post wrong answers. This fail means just – more education.

    Comment by save gaia — 13 Jul 2009 @ 11:08 PM

  323. Prof David Wasdell proposes that a strategy based on temp. rise is flawed & suggests one based on net (radiative) energy forcing – what do you at realclimate think about this?

    http://www.apollo-gaia.org/PlanetEarth/index.htm

    Also, I’d be most interested to hear what you think about this (related) heat energy approach by Nordell & Gervet in Sweden?

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090713085248.htm

    Thanks for this excellent website!

    Comment by Mike Hall — 14 Jul 2009 @ 5:07 AM

  324. “I had a discussion with my philosophy professor about quantum mechanics, and he seemed to be reasonably informed.”

    It did require them to be interested.

    The path to *using* quantum mechanics has, in my opinion, a lot of interest for a philosophy course. Though there are uncertainties, it’s possible to use the underlying principles that shape the uncertainties to produce a real result.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Jul 2009 @ 5:28 AM

  325. James writes:

    “The position is that nuclear is good to go NOW.”

    The Voyagers, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and others. All using small nuclear power sources (radioisotope thermal generators), all providing power for decades with no interruptions or service calls. How much more evidence do you need?

    These are thermoelectric converters using normal radioactive decay. They are not thermal engines like commercial nuclear reactors.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Jul 2009 @ 6:13 AM

  326. Edward posts:

    If China and India are not worried about dwindling water supplies “so be it”.

    There’s a difference between, e.g., “China” and “the Chinese government.” It’s not the members of the Central Committee who are going to go without fresh water.

    Sorry, but everybody should be held to the same standard. CO2 from a Chinese power plant has the same effect on climate as CO2 from an American power plant. Period.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Jul 2009 @ 6:17 AM

  327. Re: 254 Edward Greisch says:

    “Read http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/pu-isotope.htm
    more carefully.”

    I read it carefully the first time. This article also has some bearing on the issue:

    http://www.fas.org/rlg/980826-pu.htm

    I’m quite certain that Richard Garwin isn’t a stooge for the coal industry.

    My feeling is that if you’re claiming that any energy source is a wart-free panacea you’re not being honest. Proliferation, waste, and the possibility of accidents are issues with nukes. Earth quakes are an issue with geothermal power. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/business/energy-environm
    ent/24geotherm.html I think there must be some toxic chemicals involved in the production of PV cells. If we manufacture thousands of square miles of PV cells there will be environmental costs in both production and in placement. Rational discussions of energy policy in which inconvenient truths aren’t swept under the rug would be awesome to see.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 14 Jul 2009 @ 6:52 AM

  328. “It’s not the members of the Central Committee who are going to go without fresh water.”

    However, as the Chinese well know, revolution comes when the general populace have nothing to lose.

    And there’s a lot more of them than any power structure that is meant to hold them.

    Governance is at the acceptance of the governed. Policing by the acceptance of those who are policed.

    A populace with nothing to lose is a danger to those in charge, and they hardly ever survive the change.

    Comment by Mark — 14 Jul 2009 @ 8:00 AM

  329. Barton Paul Levenson says (14 July 2009 at 6:13 AM):

    “These are thermoelectric converters using normal radioactive decay. They are not thermal engines like commercial nuclear reactors.”

    I don’t quite see your point. First, what exactly is “normal” about an isotope like PU-238, which has a half-life of around 87 years? It’s something that has to be created in a nuclear reactor (which I suppose technically classifies it as nuclear waste).

    Second, RTGs certainly are thermal engines. They typically convert the heat difference to electricity via thermocouples rather than Carnot-cycle engines, but that’s another engineering decision. RTGs are typically used in remote locations, like space probes, and a solid-state solution offers fewer failure modes than something with moving parts. There’s no reason you couldn’t use the heat to drive a steam turbine or Stirling engine, just as the steam turbines in a nuclear plant are basically identical to the ones in a coal-fired plant, or for that matter a solar thermal one.

    I think what you really meant is that RTGs aren’t fission reactors. That’s true enough, but (although I’m not a nuclear engineer by any stretch of the imagination) I think it’d be difficult if not impossible to build a fission reactor small enough to power just a single house.

    Comment by James — 14 Jul 2009 @ 12:45 PM

  330. “I think what you really meant is that RTGs aren’t fission reactors.”

    They are also out in space, where losses to the environment matter not a whit. Therefore you can build for maximum utility.

    This is not so workable here on planet earth…

    Comment by Mark — 14 Jul 2009 @ 2:48 PM

  331. @317 E. Pearson,
    Not if you use solar mirrors to collect the sun, an at least 30 year old know-how as becoming popular in europe with the http://www.desertec.org project.

    Comment by save gaia — 14 Jul 2009 @ 3:43 PM

  332. Rod B #319
    A good question. As an example China is comissioning a new Coal plant about once every week. They invested heavily to build that plant and it probably has a useful life of 20-30 years. There are additional power plants on the drawing board and in various stages of construction. If you got the the Chinese to agree to stop constructon on new coal power plants 3 years from now think of many will be finished between now and then and. The economic incentive to shut down a newly built coal power plant once it is up and running would have to be huge and to my knowledge the replacement “green” technology either does not exist or does not offer the Chinese a large enough incentive to switch.

    There is information that I’m sure I have not seen regarding China’s power generation but what I’ve read about has emphasized the building of coal plants.

    Comment by Edward — 14 Jul 2009 @ 3:52 PM

  333. #326 Barton
    You stated: “Sorry, but everybody should be held to the same standard. CO2 from a Chinese power plant has the same effect on climate as CO2 from an American power plant. Period.”

    Your argument may be persusive on this blog but the Chinese “people” or the Chinese “government” have not been persuaded and are continuing to build coal power plants.

    I’d be hesitant to appoint myself as final arbiter of what a group of people, culture or nation should do based on my judgement of what is important. In my opinion, if I were to switch places with someone in China I would not find that co2 global warming would be at the top of my list of worries regardless of what we might think of the repressive nature of their Government.

    Thanks
    Ed

    Comment by Edward — 14 Jul 2009 @ 4:26 PM

  334. Related to my last comment i found this news at the very uptodate site solveclimate.com
    “Another perk for Desertec Solar, 240.000 new jobs alone in Germany”
    http://solveclimate.com/blog/20090708/another-perk-desertec-solar-project-240-000-new-german-jobs

    Comment by save gaia — 14 Jul 2009 @ 5:32 PM

  335. James (#329),

    “I think it’d be difficult if not impossible to build a fission reactor small enough to power just a single house.”

    Difficult, yes. For a self-sustaining reaction, one needs a minimum thickness of fuel to ensure that neutrons actually get captured. This means that while one could keep the reaction damped down to provide a few kW of power, the heat would be spread out over the volume and difficult to convert to work.

    It turns out that small reactors for nuclear propulsion are really about the only appropriate use for nuclear power. These are more powerful that a few kW though. Large civilian reactors, because they are used for power generation, need to be considered as expensive batteries since transmuting the waste to stable isotopes, the only responsible solution to the waste problem, is likely going to cost as much energy as the reactors generate or more. Propulsion, on the other hand. is not about supplying power but getting around without the need to surface or refuel. So, transmuting the waste will not be a big deal.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Jul 2009 @ 6:05 PM

  336. Mark says (14 July 2009 at 2:48 PM):

    “This is not so workable here on planet earth…”

    (Sigh) In fact RTGs are used here on Earth, where reliable power is needed in remote places: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator

    Comment by James — 14 Jul 2009 @ 7:51 PM

  337. Re: James — 14 July 2009 @ 12:45 PM

    “I think it’d be difficult if not impossible to build a fission reactor small enough to power just a single house.”

    Canada built a self-contained, self cooling, self regulating, safe as a gas furnace, reactor called a “slow poke reactor”. While several were built and the technology proven, the public never considered residential reactors as a acceptable concept. Otherwise, we probably would not be discussing AGW now.

    Comment by G. Karst — 15 Jul 2009 @ 8:13 AM

  338. “(Sigh) In fact RTGs are used here on Earth, where reliable power is needed in remote places: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator

    Comment by James ”

    In fact that doesn’t change “This is not so workable here on planet earth…”

    If you have an RTG at a remote place, then you have to have a lossy grid to take it to where it’s needed.

    And the idea is that this would be IN SOMEONE’S HOUSE.

    Unless they don’t live there while they have an RTG, this is not going to work, is it.

    Go right back to the beginning of this argument and see again what this is all about. You have currently lost the plot.

    Comment by Mark — 15 Jul 2009 @ 8:44 AM

  339. “the Chinese “government” have not been persuaded and are continuing to build coal power plants.”

    Ed, the Chinese are also creating green power sources faster than anyone else.

    If you’re going to use your “point” to show that the chinese don’t care, I will equally validly use my point to prove that they do.

    Until the chinese stop producing green power, your position is unsupported rhetoric.

    Comment by Mark — 15 Jul 2009 @ 8:46 AM

  340. Edward (332), Good point; but if you get them to build no more coal plants as of 3 years from now, that’s not just waiting them out and they’ll come along 20-30 years from now.

    Comment by Rod B — 15 Jul 2009 @ 9:41 AM

  341. James says 14 Jul 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I think RTG power is the cat’s pajamas, for certain applications. Yet the Russians have discovered that many of their unattended RTG generators have vanished, sometimes to turn up in the hands of the unwitting, such as the two hunters who used a navigation beacon power source to warm themselves in the dead of winter, having stripped off everything but the radioactive source from the unit in question. One died of acute radiation exposure on the spot, the other managed to crawl back to civilization. I don’t know what became of him.

    My point is, the appropriateness of a power source always includes human factors.

    Is the power source you’re using reasonably safe? This is contextual. For an unattended or lightly supervised power source, is it reasonably safe when exposed to the least informed and most technically incompetent person you can imagine? If not, it needs to offer virtues so overwhelmingly compelling that you can essentially strike safety off the specifications list.

    This is why GFCI outlets and circuit breakers are sprouting so rapidly in new construction. A 110V outlet is potentially lethal unless the user has a thorough background in how it works. The benefits of 110V point connections are so great that we’ve chosen to ignore the steady stream of fatalities occurring as the electrically uninitiated encounter all the possible outcomes of exploiting this convenience. Now we have a fix available to partially stem the flow of corpses, so we’re deploying it as quickly as possible.

    RTG generators although simple are not amenable to being made safe in the hands of the uninformed. On the other end of the scale, looking at the record of quality control problems in the construction and operation of bulk nuclear plants, I think they’re too complex to be operated by the kind of people we have available in the quantities needed to build and operated them, when combined with the relatively serious mess they make when somebody inevitably makes a mistake.

    Mark says 15 Jul 2009 at 8:46 am

    I hate to say it, but sometimes it’s really satisfying to see how quickly improvements can be made when building trade associations, architects etc. can be crushed by power from the top:

    http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/sciencetech/china-solar-hot-water-capacity-soon-to-be-equivalent-to-40-nuclear-plants/822

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 15 Jul 2009 @ 11:50 AM

  342. Mark #339
    I agree that the Chinese are developing “green” power but that description includes Hydro power the development of which is having devasting consequences on the environment in China as well as displacing tens of millions of people. The point is that the USA and Europe cannot “make” the Chinese do anything. If China can generate power more cheaply using the coal deposits at their disposal China will continue to do so. That’s why it’s so important for the US to develop an alternative that can clearly replace coal fired plants at a cost advantage to do so. Then you can make an economic argument to the Chinese that would be compelling. The argument that “the 100 year accumulation of CO2 the developed world has pumped into the atmo means you cannot build coal plants otherwise New York City floods” has not persuaded the Chinese to date.

    In answer to Rod #340, in order for China to not plan to build a coal plant 3 years out there has to be something on the table right now that makes more sense for them economically. Until you can make a switch in that pipeline you’ll be stuck with what gets built today for the next 20-25 years. That’s a lot of co2 “inertia” in the system and that’s why I’m pessimistic that anything substantive can be done to prevent 500ppm.
    Thanks
    Edward

    Comment by Edward — 15 Jul 2009 @ 12:30 PM

  343. NY Times:

    ‘U.S. Officials Press China on Climate

    BEIJING — The top American energy and commerce officials called for China to do more to address global warming in speeches here on Wednesday, contending that the country was particularly vulnerable to a changing climate.

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu warned in a speech at Tsinghua University, China’s top science university, that if humanity did not reverse the pace of its ever-rising emissions of greenhouse gases, more people in China would be displaced by rising sea levels than in any other country.

    If China’s emissions of global warming gases keep growing at the pace of the last 30 years, the country will emit more such gases in the next three decades than the United States has in its entire history, said Mr. Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics.”‘

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/world/asia/16warming.html?hp

    How about if we step up and do something to lead by example? What about doing what the Chinese are doing with DHW? Ok, so the Chinese are ahead of us on that, dull as it is. So how about mandating modest grid tie systems based on pragmatic criteria in new construction? We’re excellent at pursuing the bleeding edge of technology because that’s where speculation of untold wealth is most seductive, yet we never actually seem to get around to seriously deploying anything we already know how to build.

    It’s -really- annoying to watch our magic market fail so badly

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 15 Jul 2009 @ 12:38 PM

  344. Chris Dudley says (14 Jul 2009 at 6:05 pm):

    “…transmuting the waste to stable isotopes, the only responsible solution to the waste problem, is likely going to cost as much energy as the reactors generate or more.”

    I don’t quite follow the logic. Quite apart from arguments about “responsible solutions” (let’s not do that again), an isotope that’s radioactive has potential energy – that’s what makes it radioactive, after all – so that in principle transmuting it to a more stable isotope* should release energy, which could be harnessed.

    *Of course there are no actual stable isotopes of anything, just ones with very much greater half-lives.

    Comment by James — 15 Jul 2009 @ 12:43 PM

  345. Mark says (15 Jul 2009 at 8:44 am):

    “If you have an RTG at a remote place, then you have to have a lossy grid to take it to where it’s needed.”

    (Deeper sigh) The remote place is where the power is needed. By putting an RTG on site, you avoid building the lossy (and long) grid connection.

    “And the idea is that this would be IN SOMEONE’S HOUSE.”

    Yes. Consider the house as a remote place :-)

    “Unless they don’t live there while they have an RTG, this is not going to work, is it.”

    Whyever not? Go back to the link and read the part about shielding.

    Comment by James — 15 Jul 2009 @ 12:48 PM

  346. G. Karst says (15 Jul 2009 at 8:13 am):

    “Canada built a self-contained, self cooling, self regulating, safe as a gas furnace, reactor called a “slow poke reactor”. ”

    Well, I SAID I wasn’t a nuclear engineer :-) Even so, the physical size and 20 KW power would be a bit of overkill for my house, since I average about 400 watts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLOWPOKE_reactor

    Comment by James — 15 Jul 2009 @ 12:58 PM

  347. Sorry if this is off-topic, but I was disturbed to see USA Today highlighting this recent study taking shots at the IPCC climate models.

    http://blogs.usatoday.com/sciencefair/2009/07/could-we-be-wrong-about-global-warming.html

    Could you guys post a response her and/or there?

    Comment by Evan — 15 Jul 2009 @ 1:43 PM

  348. James (#344),

    With nuclear waste, one has to wait too long to harvest the energy from the decay. Your harvesting machine won’t last long enough. And, it is that lack of any mechanical solution that leads to transmutation as the solution. Unfortunately, that takes energy.

    I guess you thing the proton may be unstable?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Jul 2009 @ 2:37 PM

  349. Evan 15 Jul 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I read a synopsis of the same finding at New Scientist. To these layman ears, it sounds as though it’s cause for more worry, if anything. The NS article had some speculation from other scientists about the unaccounted-for portion being due to methane or some other feedback process.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 15 Jul 2009 @ 2:41 PM

  350. Evan (347):

    I’m sure Gavin will be responding since he has published on this very subject, but as just a very preliminary first cut statement, I find it amazing that Zeebe et al (the study referred to by USA Today), don’t even cite Schmidt and Shindell (2003), not in the article nor in the supplemental material. How can that be?

    Comment by Jim Bouldin — 15 Jul 2009 @ 4:01 PM

  351. > Zeebe

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&scoring=r&q=Zeebe&as_ylo=2009

    Author of quite a bit of recent work on ocean acidification and biological responses over time, including paleo. I’m wondering if this is moving toward identifying more of the biological feedbacks and getting more of a sense of how fast biology can change, adding a new forcing.

    Here’s one for example:
    http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography/faculty/zeebe_files/Publications/IlyinaGBC09.pdf

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2009 @ 4:37 PM

  352. 14 pages worth reading, free download:
    nature reports climate change | VOL 3 | JUL 2009
    http://www.nature.com/climate/2009/0907/pdf/climate.pdf

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2009 @ 4:43 PM

  353. If you store radioactive waste in a safe place not so dense as to meltdown but dense enough to build up heat, you’ll get a geothermal resource.

    I’m no nuclear enthusiast but I still think it would be cool to see if there is some pathway to make Ga,Rh,Ru,Pd,Ag,In,Te,Xe,Re,Os,Ir,Pt,Au as stable end products from some nuclear reactions.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 15 Jul 2009 @ 6:21 PM

  354. Cheeses … check the first Google result for that quote: “There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models.”

    Then look up recent scholarly work on the PETM.
    This is not good news. Behind the fancy scientific words, what they’re describing is devastation. E.g.
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marmicro.2008.11.003

    Anyone heard from Peter Ward lately?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2009 @ 6:49 PM

  355. Chris Dudley says (15 Jul 2009 at 2:37 pm):

    “With nuclear waste, one has to wait too long to harvest the energy from the decay. Your harvesting machine won’t last long enough.”

    I guess I’m missing something: it’s the fact that an isotope decays rapidly that makes it hazardous nuclear waste, isn’t it? So if it takes a long time to decay – say like C-14 – would it still be a problem?

    “And, it is that lack of any mechanical solution that leads to transmutation as the solution. Unfortunately, that takes energy.”

    Err… Why? Sure, it would take energy to initiate the transmutation, but (with appropriate technology) it seems as though you should get more out than went in.

    “I guess you thing the proton may be unstable?”

    I thought that had been demonstrated? Or has the bleeding edge of physics moved the goalposts again?

    Comment by James — 15 Jul 2009 @ 6:53 PM

  356. Further reminder that despite the USAToday story mentioned above http://blogs.usatoday.com/sciencefair/2009/07/could-we-be-wrong-about-global-warming.html
    with its wonderful pullquote* the statement there
    is no surprise. Here’s just one of many recent modeling papers talking about the missing information we need to better fit what we know about the past to what’s happening now, and why now is different:

    http://ocean.mit.edu/~mick/Papers/Goodwin-etal-NatureGeoscience-2009.pdf

    “… The sensitivity of radiative forcing to the carbon cycle

    Ice-core records of glacial-interglacial cycles provide considerable insight into the coupling of the carbon cycle and climate …. Here our aim is to assess how representative our understanding of these relatively recent events is when considering past geological periods or the future after massive anthropogenic CO2 release….

    For the present day, a recent comparison of 11 coupled climate-carbon cycle models reveals a positive feedback between carbon and climate in all cases13: the inclusion of the carbon cycle leading to enhancement of global warming of between 0.1 degC and 1.5 degC in projections over the next 100 years. However, this high sensitivity need not have always applied further back in the geologic past owing to changes in the buffered carbon inventory IsubB.

    Our study suggests that the influence of changes to the carbon
    cycle on climate is stronger now than over much of the past 400 Myr and will remain strong in the near future with fossil-fuel CO2 release and ocean acidification. For the modern era, we suggest that for every 1,000 PgC emitted to the atmosphere, there will be an added radiative forcing of 1:5Wm2 lasting for millennia. In a similar way, terrestrial carbon and ocean ecosystem feedbacks can potentially modify this radiative forcing by up to about 30% (refs 1,13). Consequently, it is an inopportune time to perturb the carbon system. The relationships developed here provide an elegant way to reveal the climate sensitivity to the carbon system and should be viewed as the first part of a model hierarchy to understand how the coupled carbon-climate system operates29….”

    ——

    But, lordy, some editor at USAToday is a genius. That story went up yesterday. I hope some sociologist will do a proper study of how this pullquote propagates and how long it lasts.

    As of this moment, Google finds:

    Results … about 1,220 for “There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2009 @ 8:15 PM

  357. James wrote:
    “Of course there are no actual stable isotopes of anything, just ones with very much greater half-lives.”

    I was not aware that the proton was demonstrated to be unstable. In fact I thought that the lower limit on proton half life was on the order of something ridiculous like 1e33 yr, well on the way to Poincare recurrence times…

    Comment by sidd — 15 Jul 2009 @ 9:02 PM

  358. o dear i made a misattribution here:

    the following phrase:
    “Of course there are no actual stable isotopes of anything, just ones with very much greater half-lives.”

    was actually written by Mr. Chris Dudley.

    Comment by sidd — 15 Jul 2009 @ 10:39 PM

  359. Sidd (#358),

    No, that was James. I agree that the proton has not yet been shown to be unstable.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Jul 2009 @ 11:27 PM

  360. well, I wouldn’t have believed it, but — that quote that’s filling up the blogosphere tonight?

    It’s not something that USAToday got in an interview.

    Rice University’s PR department put it out as a press release:

    http://www.media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=12794&SnID=1419357327

    —- entire press release follows —-
    —–note how different the implications are
    —–when you read the whole thing —-

    7/14/2009

    CONTACT: Jade Boyd
    PHONE: 713-348-6778
    E-MAIL: jadeboyd@rice.edu

    Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong
    Unknown processes account for much of warming in ancient hot spell

    No one knows exactly how much Earth’s climate will warm due to carbon emissions, but a new study this week suggests scientists’ best predictions about global warming might be incorrect.

    The study, which appears in Nature Geoscience, found that climate models explain only about half of the heating that occurred during a well-documented period of rapid global warming in Earth’s ancient past. The study, which was published online today, contains an analysis of published records from a period of rapid climatic warming about 55 million years ago known as the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM.

    “In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record,” said oceanographer Gerald Dickens, a co-author of the study and professor of Earth science at Rice University. “There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models.”

    During the PETM, for reasons that are still unknown, the amount of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere rose rapidly. For this reason, the PETM, which has been identified in hundreds of sediment core samples worldwide, is probably the best ancient climate analogue for present-day Earth.

    In addition to rapidly rising levels of atmospheric carbon, global surface temperatures rose dramatically during the PETM. Average temperatures worldwide rose by about 7 degrees Celsius — about 13 degrees Fahrenheit — in the relatively short geological span of about 10,000 years.

    Many of the findings come from studies of core samples drilled from the deep seafloor over the past two decades. When oceanographers study these samples, they can see changes in the carbon cycle during the PETM.

    “You go along a core and everything’s the same, the same, the same, and then suddenly you pass this time line and the carbon chemistry is completely different,” Dickens said. “This has been documented time and again at sites all over the world.”

    Based on findings related to oceanic acidity levels during the PETM and on calculations about the cycling of carbon among the oceans, air, plants and soil, Dickens and co-authors Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii and James Zachos of the University of California-Santa Cruz determined that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by about 70 percent during the PETM.

    That’s significant because it does not represent a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Since the start of the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide levels are believed to have risen by about one-third, largely due to the burning of fossil fuels. If present rates of fossil-fuel consumption continue, the doubling of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels will occur sometime within the next century or two.

    Doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide is an oft-talked-about threshold, and today’s climate models include accepted values for the climate’s sensitivity to doubling. Using these accepted values and the PETM carbon data, the researchers found that the models could only explain about half of the warming that Earth experienced 55 million years ago.

    The conclusion, Dickens said, is that something other than carbon dioxide caused much of the heating during the PETM. “Some feedback loop or other processes that aren’t accounted for in these models — the same ones used by the IPCC for current best estimates of 21st Century warming — caused a substantial portion of the warming that occurred during the PETM.”

    —–end Rice University press release—–
    I look forward to hearing what the scientists make of the coverage. Perhaps they should offer the science education campaigners this as an example and ask how to improve on it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Jul 2009 @ 11:33 PM

  361. James – the C-14 concentration in C is very very very very small.

    Is it possible that the the sufficient power output for danger is less than the sufficient power output for an economic energy source?

    But I tend to agree with you (with very little specialized technical knowledge on the subject) that it should be possible to produce stable isotopes with net energy output.

    Suppose we wanted to make nuclear waste a gold mine. The approach I would start with is to look at the various stable good nuclei, find which isotopes with short half lives decay to that state, and trace back the chain of reactions to see what kind of isotopes we might want to produce by bombarding some other isotopes with neutrons… and maybe some isotope of lead or mercury would do the trick. Problem – if the desired isotope easily absorbs more neutrons, the isotope would be destroyed as it is produced. What might be done is to dissolve the isotope in the cooling fluid that goes through the reactor core, wherein the desired product isotope precipitates from solution outside of the core and is removed periodically. The reactant isotope would be from the spent fuel of another reactor…(?)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Jul 2009 @ 12:06 AM

  362. “I thought that had been demonstrated? Or has the bleeding edge of physics moved the goalposts again?

    Comment by James”

    Uh, you didn’t keep up, did you.

    The decay of the proton depends on the weight of one of the neutrinos (tau? I can’t remember off top of my head). If the neutrino is massless then the proton doesn’t decay (there’s no mass particle that it can decay to that isn’t more energetic than it). But the lower the mass of the neutrino, the longer the half-life of the proton.

    So, you can’t stop neutrinos and definitely can’t stop enough to weigh them, so people have been looking at the decay time to give a maximum weight to the neutrinos.

    A massive neutrino would explain the scarcity of neutrinos from the sun: they are transforming to another neutrino.

    But the proton hasn’t been seen to decay, making its decay time as someone else says something of the order 10^40 seconds.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Jul 2009 @ 2:43 AM

  363. I know, Hank–the headline could have been “Could climate change be twice as large as we thought?”

    The actual story, as you point out, is cause for *increased* concern, yet that aspect is not at all captured by the headline. I’ve wondered why, and resigned myself to the fact that I will likely need to explain this repeatedly over the next little while.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Jul 2009 @ 7:28 AM

  364. Cheeses … check the first Google result for that quote: “There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models.”

    It’s entertaining, in a perverse way, to watch Leif Svaalgard to to educate the WUWTers that the fact that the researchers’ belief that their work points to a possible sensitivity to CO2 doubling in the 5C+ range is somehow good news for deniers.

    I look forward to hearing what the scientists make of the coverage. Perhaps they should offer the science education campaigners this as an example and ask how to improve on it.

    How do you improve it to the point where willful misrepresentation, quote-mining, and flat-out inability to understand what one reads is no longer a problem?

    Comment by dhogaza — 16 Jul 2009 @ 7:42 AM

  365. Hank (356), I haven’t yet read the paper but a couple of thoughts from your excerpt don’t seem intuitively obvious: 1) why would CO2 coming from burning fossil fuel be more forcing than CO2 from any other source. It’s hard to imagine that IR would be absorbed differently in a pile of CO2 that has a slightly different isotope ratio. 2) Why would ocean acidification occur only (or much more) with today’s CO2 and not yesteryear’s. Again, how does the ocean know the difference? Or did I misread your excerpt?

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Jul 2009 @ 8:38 AM

  366. RodB.

    1) It wouldn’t.

    Where do you get the idea it is?

    2) Because yesteryear’s CO2 wasn’t increasing, it was in equilibrium.

    I think you did misread.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Jul 2009 @ 8:59 AM

  367. There are numerous things that can be done besides finding new ways to generate energy.

    This article quotes Steven Chu citing a calculation done by LBL scientist Art Rosenfeld who claims that painting the worlds roofs white will result in the equivalent removal of 44 Gtons of CO2.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/05/27/steven-chu-white-roofs-to-fight-global-warming/

    This next sounds like “passive solar” but it is substantially different: “Passive houses.” I think I would put both this and the white roof idea in the conservation category.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house

    one more:

    Extinguishing all the coal seam fires in the world would make a substantial difference. One was put out in China a few years ago that (according to the news articles I read) was generating as much CO2 as the entire US light truck/automobile fleet.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 16 Jul 2009 @ 9:52 AM

  368. Mark (), I was referring to this for Hank’s excerpt (356)

    the influence of changes to the carbon cycle on climate is stronger now than over much of the past 400 Myr and will remain strong in the near future with fossil-fuel CO2 release and ocean acidification. For the modern era, we suggest that for every 1,000 PgC emitted to the atmosphere, there will be an added radiative forcing of 1:5Wm2 lasting for millennia.

    I read that as it being “stronger now than… the past 400 Myr” from fossil fuel CO2 release and acidification. It implies the “modern era” forcing will be 1.(sic)5 Wm2 additive. Am I reading it wrongly?

    Doesn’t acidification depend on the instantaneous concentration (partial pressure) and the chemical state of the ocean whether it is in equilibrium or not?

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Jul 2009 @ 10:05 AM

  369. Rod B, you should at least click the link and look at the paper.
    Mark’s right. The ‘thoughts’ you ask about are not in the excerpt, nor in the paper. I think you’ve failed to consider rate of change and the difference between geological time and current events.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jul 2009 @ 10:06 AM

  370. “Mark’s right.”

    And all I needed was a mindset that was thinking “how would that work?” rather one that says “this isn’t going to work”.

    The first one is what I consider a skeptic view.

    The second one denialist.

    Comment by Mark — 16 Jul 2009 @ 10:27 AM

  371. Rod B –

    “For the modern era, we suggest that for every 1,000 PgC emitted to the atmosphere, there will be an added radiative forcing of 1:5Wm2 lasting for millennia.”

    I’m not sure exactly what 1:5 means here – I would normally read that as a ratio.

    But from the context, I’m infering that for any given anthropogenic CO2 increase, there will be radiative forcing greater than that CO2 alone, because of CO2 feedback emissions.

    Such geochemical feedbacks can easily depend on the present state of things, and not just the present climate, but the locations and abundances of various geochemical reservoirs and frozen bodies of water, evolved species, soils, topography, etc, that has been shaped by climate and other factors over time.

    And this paper is suggesting that the present day CO2 feedback may be stronger than what it would have been if we’d done this experiment at many times in the past.

    *** One complexity in how to describe this: over the last several decades or so, at least, there has been some fraction (40 %?) of anthropogenic CO2 releases that have been taken out of the atmosphere (over and above the amount taken out of the atmosphere that balances the natural additions to the atmosphere), perhaps mainly as a direct biogeochemical feedback (increased CO2 favoring more rapid biological fixation of C, net flux of CO2 into water until equilibrium for the given storage of other involved chemical species in the upper ocean) fairly promptly. Seeing this as a baseline, positive CO2 feedback from temperature changes, or a running out of capacity for greater uptake from CO2 accumulation, would be seen as adding more CO2 to the air in addition to anthropogenic releases, but it would have to surpass some level before it would result in a total atmospheric accumulation of CO2 greater than anthropogenic emissions (first, as a rate, and later, cummulative change).

    The geochemistry of the ocean right now depends on what has been happening up to now, and pH can be buffered over time from dissolution of carbonate minerals and additions of Ca, Mg(?), etc, ions to the ocean from chemical weathering.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 16 Jul 2009 @ 1:12 PM

  372. The puzzling colons in that web page like “1:5″ are some sort of html font hiccup; look at the actual PDF file — what look like colons are decimal points in the original.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jul 2009 @ 2:01 PM

  373. Key point: rate of change.

    > pH can be buffered over [geological] time from
    > dissolution of carbonate minerals and additions
    > … from chemical weathering.

    Look at the PDF. That’s part of what they’re saying here.
    We’re adding CO2 far faster than has happened in the past.
    And in the past the _long_term_ temperature increase following an increase in CO@ was the PETM excursion.

    The planet was already much warmer at the time — and many other things were different. But the spike (very fast _in_geologic_time_terms_) in temperature was huge.
    More here, describing an earlier article that appeared in Science: 8 DECEMBER 2006 VOL 314:
    http://news.mongabay.com/2006/1207-petm.html

    See also the related articles linked at the bottom of that page.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jul 2009 @ 3:12 PM

  374. Ah, the irony, it burns.

    Those of you reading on the septic side of the bogusphere may have seen a lot about climate models needing improvement in the last couple of days. This sound familiar? And would you recognize this in what you’re reading from people crying out how the models need improvement?

    http://www.geotimes.org/oct06/feature_Geocatastrophes.html#Climate

    “… The light carbon isotope ratio found both in the ocean and on land during the PETM is the key to understanding the causes of the rapid changes. Whatever triggered the warming involved the release of large quantities of light carbon into the ocean-atmosphere system.

    Paleoceanographer Gerald Dickens of Rice University has suggested that this light carbon came from microbially generated methane buried in sediments along the slopes of the continental shelves (see Geotimes, November 2004).

    This methane exists along our coasts today, frozen in the sediment at low temperatures and high pressures. The microbes produce methane highly concentrated in carbon-12. An increase in temperature or a decrease in pressure in the ocean waters overlying these sediments can melt this buried methane and allow it to bubble to the surface.

    For several years, this methane “hiccup” was regarded as the best possible explanation for the rapid warming at the PETM. Despite the fact that it nicely explained the carbon-12 increase, however, this hypothesis left a few questions unanswered.

    First, the hypothesis did not invoke a mechanism for warming ocean waters to destabilize the methane (although it is possible that ocean waters reached a threshold temperature after warming gradually for millions of years). Second, the quantity of methane necessary to explain the carbon isotope ratio, as calculated by Dickens, would be much less than that required to warm ocean and atmosphere temperatures to the extent estimated by PETM temperature proxies and calculated by physical climate models.

    Dickens calculated that the release of methane at the PETM would result in an approximate 60-parts-per-million increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (compared with the modern rise of nearly 100 parts per million in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over the 19th century). Climate models suggest that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations would need to increase, at the very least, by 1,000 parts per million, to warm high latitudes by 8 to 10 degrees Celsius.

    In 2004, new evidence from the Norwegian Sea for an alternate source of methane helped scientists to revise ideas about events at the PETM. A team of geologists led by Henrik Svensen of the University of Oslo discovered hydrothermal vent complexes — thousands of them — dating back to the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. These vents form when melted rock from the mantle seeps into carbon-rich sediments. The heating and melting of these sediments can lead to a buildup of gases — and, ultimately, an explosive release. …”
    http://www.geotimes.org/oct06/feature_Geocatastrophes.html#links1

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jul 2009 @ 8:24 PM

  375. Some output from the World Laboratory. Climate change rubber begins to hit the geopolitical road:

    “Hopelessly overcrowded, crippled by poverty, teeming with Islamist militancy, careless with its nukes—it sometimes seems as if Pakistan can’t get any more terrifying. But forget about the Taliban: The country’s troubles today pale compared with what it might face 25 years from now. When it comes to the stability of one of the world’s most volatile regions, it’s the fate of the Himalayan glaciers that should be keeping us awake at night.

    Another increasingly important factor will soon heighten the tension: Ninety percent of Pakistan’s agricultural irrigation depends on rivers that originate in Kashmir. “This water issue between India and Pakistan is the key,” Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, a parliamentarian from Kashmir, told me. “Much more than any other political or religious concern.”

    ,,,

    In 1960, India and Pakistan agreed to divide the six tributaries that form the Indus River. India claimed the three eastern branches, which flow through Punjab. The water in the other three, which pass through Jammu and Kashmir, became Pakistan’s. The countries set a cap on how much land Kashmir could irrigate and agreed to strict regulations on how and where water could be stored. The resulting Indus Waters Treaty has survived three wars and nearly 50 years. It’s often cited as an example of how resource scarcity can lead to cooperation rather than conflict.

    But the treaty’s success depends on the maintenance of a status quo that will be disrupted as the world warms. Traditionally, Kashmir’s waters have been naturally regulated by the glaciers in the Himalayas. Precipitation freezes during the coldest months and then melts during the agricultural season. But if global warming continues at its current rate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates, the glaciers could be mostly gone from the mountains by 2035. Water that once flowed for the planting will flush away in winter floods.

    Research by the global NGO ActionAid has found that the effects are already starting to be felt within Kashmir. In the valley, snow rarely falls and almost never sticks. The summertime levels of streams, rivers, springs, and ponds have dropped.


    Normally, countries control such cyclical water flows with dams, as the United States does with runoff from the Rocky Mountains. For Pakistan, however, that solution is not an option. The best damming sites are in Kashmir, where the Islamabad government has vigorously opposed Indian efforts to tinker with the rivers. The worry is that in times of conflict, India’s leaders could cut back on water supplies or unleash a torrent into the country’s fields. “In a warlike situation, India could use the project like a bomb,” one Kashmiri journalist told me.

    Water is already undermining Pakistan’s stability. In recent years, recurring shortages have led to grain shortfalls. In 2008, flour became so scarce it turned into an election issue; the government deployed thousands of troops to guard its wheat stores. As the glaciers melt and the rivers dry, this issue will only become more critical. Pakistan—unstable, facing dramatic drops in water supplies, caged in by India’s vastly superior conventional forces—will be forced to make one of three choices. It can let its people starve. It can cooperate with India in building dams and reservoirs, handing over control of its waters to the country it regards as the enemy. Or it can ramp up support for the insurgency, gambling that violence can bleed India’s resolve without degenerating into full-fledged war. “The idea of ceding territory to India is anathema,” says Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University. “Suffering, particularly for the elite, is unacceptable. So what’s the other option? Escalate.”

    Rising global temperatures are putting the whole world under stress, and the first countries to succumb will be those, such as Sudan, that are least able to adapt. Compare the Netherlands and Bangladesh: Both are vulnerable to rises in sea levels, with large parts of their territory near or under the level of the waves. But the wealthy Dutch are building state-of-the-art flood-control systems and experimenting with floating houses. All the impoverished Bangladeshis can do is prepare to head for higher ground. “It’s best not to get too bogged down in the physics of climate,” says Nils Gilman, an analyst at Monitor Group and the author of a 2006 report on climate change and national security. “Rather, you should look at the social, physical, and political geography of regions that are impacted.”

    Indeed, with a population half that of the United States crammed into an area a little smaller than Louisiana, Bangladesh might be among the most imperiled countries on Earth. In a normal decade, the country experiences one major flood. In the last 11 years, its rivers have leapt their banks three times, most recently in 2007. That winter, Cyclone Sidr, a Category 5 storm, tore into the country’s coast, flattening tin shacks, ripping through paddies, and plunging the capital into darkness. As many as 10,000 people may have died. ”

    The rest of the story:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/06/22/failed_states_index_the_last_straw

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 17 Jul 2009 @ 12:39 PM

  376. Here’s some good news on the clean energy front:

    Global wind energy potential is considerably higher than previous estimates by both wind industry groups and government agencies, according to a Harvard University study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States [PDF]…

    Using data from thousands of meteorological stations, the Harvard team estimated the world wind power potential to be 40 times greater than total current power consumption. A previous study cited in the paper put that multiple at about 7 times …

    In the lower 48 states, the potential from wind power is 16 times more than total electricity demand in the United States, the researchers suggested – significantly greater than a 2008 Department of Energy study that projected wind could supply a fifth of all electricity in the country by 2030.

    While remote regions of Russia and Canada have the greatest theoretical potential, the Harvard study pointed out that there are real gains to be made in high-emission nations, especially China, which has been rapidly constructing coal plants. “Large-scale development of wind power in China could allow for an 18-fold increase in electricity supply relative to consumption reported for 2005,” the Harvard study said …

    The authors based their calculations on the deployment of 2.5- to 3-megawatt wind turbines situated either in accessible rural areas that are neither frozen nor forested, or relatively shallow offshore locations. They also used a conservative 20 percent estimate for capacity factor, a measure of how much energy a given turbine actually produces.

    Yet more evidence that the world has vast commercially-exploitable wind and solar energy resources, that are more than sufficient to produce more than enough electricity for all current uses, plus the electrification of ground transport, without fossil fuels or nuclear power.

    So … what are we waiting for ???

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jul 2009 @ 1:21 PM

  377. Hank, Patrick 027, et al: I could be picky and say the syntax could have been better, but it’s (now) clear that “anthropogenic CO2″ is simply a timely representative example and the anthropological part is not a cause per se — any source of CO2 would suffice.

    This looks interesting and I need to study it all more, but thought I’d get my clarification/misunderstanding out of the way.

    Comment by Rod B — 17 Jul 2009 @ 2:04 PM

  378. “the anthropological part is not a cause per se — any source of CO2 would suffice”

    Yes of course – the main variation is that, at any one moment in time, each unit increase of atmospheric CO2 has less radiative forcing than the last, following the logarithmic proportionality discussed earlier.

    PS isotopic variations probably would shift the spectrum around in some way, but the vast majority of all C reservoirs is C-12; variations in less-abudant isotopes (13,14) are helpful for tracing sources and fluxes.

    —————-

    PS the quickest possible way to estimate global wind energy –

    convection is about 100 W/m2, an average tropospheric temperature maybe ~ 255 K, surface temperature ~ 288 K, heat engine efficiency = 1 – 255/288 = 33/288 ~= 12 %, implies global mechanical energy generation of about 12 W/m2; if x % (50 % ?) is dissipated by damping of gravity waves in the bulk of the air (from thunderstorm CAPE energy) and 1/2 of the remainder is dissipated in the boundary layer (the part dissipated near the surface is the accessible part by conventional means)… well, you get the idea.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Jul 2009 @ 3:40 PM

  379. RE #376 & wind potential. I sort of figured someone must be underestimating it.

    Here’s an interesting solution — much smaller wind generators in urban areas (solving the bird problem) — less energy, but more could be used all over the place:

    posted at: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE55A5PD20090611?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews

    NYC water towers seen as ground for “wind farms”
    Thu Jun 11, 2009, By Joan Gralla

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City could become the grounds for a new kind of urban wind farm if a Cleveland-based mechanical engineer has his way.

    Cleveland State University’s Fenn College of Engineering on Thursday said it will unveil a new wind turbine design by one of its professors, Majid Rashidi, that could attach to the sides of the water storage tanks that sit on the rooftops of many city apartment buildings.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made green programs a centerpiece of his administration, last August proposed crowning the city’s bridges, skyscrapers and shorelines with turbines, but critics said they would be impractical and possibly hazardous.

    But Rashidi said his turbines solve a key stumbling block of harnessing wind power effectively in crowded urban areas because they accelerate the flow of wind through four rotating turbines. That allows the turbines to work where the wind speed otherwise would be too low.

    “In the urban settings, usually because of the existence of buildings, you don’t get the high speeds needed,” he said.

    The turbines, which are fixed to the sides of a cylinder, already seem to be outpacing a competing turbine that sits on a traditional mast.

    “Today, I saw on the roof, my four were all rotating; the one stationed on the mast was not moving, so proof of the concept has already been shown,” Rashidi said.

    Rashidi’s concept takes advantage of the city’s existing water towers that were designed to hold thousands of pounds of water and thus could handle any forces the turbines exert, said Richard Steiner, who is working with Rashidi.

    Rashidi’s four turbines could produce 8 kilowatts per hour. That compares with the 2,000 or so kilowatts produced by the much bigger turbines that sit atop tall masts.

    The Cleveland Indians baseball team is expected to be the first to install the turbines at its home stadium.

    Steiner said he hopes the team will agree to use them for its “Progressive Field” stadium within 30 to 60 days.

    Bridgett Neely, an energy expert for New York City, said that by late summer the city hopes to clarify how it can encourage the use of wind turbines by smoothing permitting and testing.

    Like many U.S. cities and towns, New York’s zoning and other rules could block rooftop turbines — as well as smaller models the Cleveland experts hope homeowners could use in their backyards.

    New York is likely to start with smaller turbines. Last year, “the ones that made the biggest splash in print, on buildings and bridges, some of that was fanciful,” Neely said.

    She said wind turbines were just one item on Bloomberg’s green energy list, citing six experimental turbines in the East River and a possible city-state offshore wind farm.

    One promising green model is the city-owned Brooklyn Navy Yard’s test of street lamps that run on solar and wind power, a useful feature in the Northeast where clouds can persist for days, according to Baldev Duggal, who invented the Lumi-Solair lamps.

    The Navy Yard, now an industrial park, could reap savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the new lamps’ lower costs. Each lamp has its own power, so no underground wires have to be dug up when they short out.

    The Cleveland professors also are exploring using a helix shape to hold the turbines instead of a cylinder. “We want to make it smaller and even get more acceleration,” Steiner said.

    The swiveling arm and supports for the Cleveland turbines might cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000, Rashidi estimated. “Then you have to buy off the shelf turbines and just hang them up like a chandelier,” he said.

    Critics of windmill farms say they kill birds because they often are located in migratory routes.

    But the Cleveland experts say the much smaller turbines lack the killing force of the wind farms. Those much bigger turbine blades can weigh over 2,000 pounds.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 17 Jul 2009 @ 4:29 PM

  380. Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable, America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It — guest on the Daily Show:

    “… to prevent the water crisis from becoming a catastrophe …”

    “Energy policy pays no attention whatsoever to water issues.”

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-july-16-2009/robert-glennon

    “Global warming means that the seas will rise a foot, can’t we use that …..?”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jul 2009 @ 8:30 PM

  381. > “anthropogenic CO2″ is simply a timely representative example and …
    > any source of CO2 would suffice.

    That’s one of the basic things necessary to understand anything else.
    Spencer Weart’s a good source to review if this is the first time you got that clear. Much else will now begin to make more sense.

    Next concept probably ought to be ‘rate of change’ — how fast we are increasing CO2 compared to any prior period of time. Weart, again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jul 2009 @ 10:08 PM

  382. … I wonder what portion of the wind energy is transferred to waves and currents … Probably a small fraction, but the energy is naturally transported (as with wind).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 17 Jul 2009 @ 11:09 PM

  383. Hank (#379),

    Stewart is trying to make hay of the idea that working on climate issues makes water issues worse and as a result Glennon’s views on solar power get garbled. Here is some more detail: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/05/AR2009060501988.html

    He seems to misunderstand that it is the average air temperature and not the daytime temperature that makes a difference in dry cooling, but he is a lawyer, not an engineer.

    In the case of Concentrated Solar Power that uses heliostats, one ought to be able to boost night time cooling by providing a low brightness temperature surface (the mirrors) to enhance radiative cooling, though the convective cooling will still dominate. For Sterling engine solar concentrators, one ought to be able to run them in reverse on clear nights to generate a low amount of electricity from built up daytime heat. Even parabolic troughs might run radiative cooling through pipes placed halfway between the collector vacuum pipes and the mirror surface since these pipes would see cool portions of the sky not occupied by the Sun. In fact, most of the plane shadowed by the collecting vacuum pipe is available for cooling.

    So, water is not really an issue for solar power so long as one stops thinking like a fossil fuel power plant designer.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 18 Jul 2009 @ 9:02 AM

  384. That’s a very good point, Hank (#380), the water crisis. Some 8 years back we started the Aurora (IL) Conservation Campaign, and we decided to start with water conservation. That also means GW mitigation, since there is an energy component to pumping and heating water, and CC will be reducing our potable water supplies.

    We went to our local water company, and the man told us the water level had gone down 800 feet over the past 100 years of use. Who knew? We were shocked. Why didn’t the people who were using the water know about that? They city thought no one would listen, or they’d get mad.

    Anyway, I got around to reducing our household water consumption by about half, without hardly noticing any difference in lifestyle, and saving $$$ in water bills and gas (to heat the water) bills.

    We moved away and I think the ACC became defunct, but the webpage is still up, & here are the water conservation tips: http://www.auroraonline.net/conservation/waterhow.html

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 18 Jul 2009 @ 10:01 AM

  385. Chris, you write
    > average air temperature and not the daytime temperature that
    > makes a difference in dry cooling, but he is a lawyer, not an engineer.

    But for concentrating solar, the kind that boil something to run a turbine, cool the stuff and return it, what matters is the daytime temperature, not the average, right? The temperature _while_operating_, and they operate in the daytime. If they can take off excess heat aqnd have excess power, they might store it for night operation, but pumping heat into a reservoir costs more than radiating it away.

    It’s a heat engine, operating on the difference between the hot end and the cool end.

    Radiators in the shadows pointing at cold north sky makes sense. And I recall one can make ice in the desert the same way; a concentrating solar power plant could also create a ‘cold reservoir’ by radiating heat away from some storage material at night, then dumping waste heat into that in the daytime, perhaps.

    All that adds to costs, and the point of that excellent WaPo opinion piece by Glennon that you point to is the slight extra costs deter this kind of investment, unless adult supervision is present to constrain the cheapest-possible design by the power plant mindset.

    Trading off cotton farming for concentrating solar is a good example of smart planning — take out one of the most water-wasteful subsidized crops we don’t grow very well, and replace it with a plant that uses less water and produces electricity.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Jul 2009 @ 3:35 PM

  386. SecularAnimist (#376) “An increase in friction caused by the
    presence of the turbines is likely to be compensated by a decrease
    in frictional dissipation elsewhere. Global average surface temperatures
    are not expected to change significantly although temperatures
    at higher latitudes may be expected to decrease to a modest
    extent because of a reduction in the efficiency of meridional heat
    transport (offsetting the additional warming anticipated for this
    environment caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases). In
    ramping up exploitation of wind resources in the future it will be
    important to consider the changes in wind resources that might
    result from the deployment of a large number of turbines,”

    I can hear Anthony Watts now: “Wind turbines cause Global Calming!”

    Comment by Dan L. — 18 Jul 2009 @ 4:25 PM

  387. Dry cooling towers consume no water:
    http://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/d/drycoolingtower.htm
    and there certainly are many in use.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Jul 2009 @ 7:08 PM

  388. Hank (#385),

    With dry cooling, one wants to have enough surface area so that convective cooling can do the same job that evaporative cooling can do. If you only cool half the time (not at night) then you double the needed surface area, which is a cost issue. So, you would do better to cool all the time rather than only when producing power.

    Your idea of using radiators below the parabolic trough is interesting. I was thinking of using the region below the focus but above the reflecting surface though. This gives a view of sky which is not occupied by the Sun.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 18 Jul 2009 @ 10:28 PM

  389. > cool all the time
    But a heat engine works with the difference between the hot and cold side while it’s working. Yeah, if there’s a ‘cold reservoir’ somewhere to chill all night then use to cool the radiators during the day, that might work. But that’s not in the designs I see pictured, which are self-contained Stirling engines using hydrogen gas, a sealed system; heat it, use the hot gas for work, cool the gas, return it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jul 2009 @ 12:01 AM

  390. Geopolitical maneuvering makes climate science look oh-so-tractable by comparision.

    India rejects legally binding carbon emissions targets:

    NEW DELHI — India served notice on Sunday that it remains opposed to legally binding targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, digging in its heels against the United States as the Obama administration begins marshaling support for a new global agreement on climate change.

    India voiced its rejection of the American position in an awkwardly public forum: during a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to an energy-efficient office building on the outskirts of New Delhi that was supposed to celebrate cooperation between India and the United States on climate policy.

    In a closed-door meeting with Mrs. Clinton after she marveled at the building’s high-tech features, India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, said, “There is simply no case for the pressure that we, who have among the lowest emissions per capita, face to actually reduce emissions.”

    “If this pressure is not enough,” he continued, “we also face the threat of carbon tariffs on our exports to countries such as yours.”

    The rest of the story:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/20/world/asia/20diplo.html?_r=1&hp

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 19 Jul 2009 @ 1:16 PM

  391. Hank,

    There is a “cold reservoir” (circa -50 C) for heat rejection to complete the Rankine (or Stirling) cycle located about 5 miles above sea level, anywhere, including above a solar thermal plant in the desert, that would vastly improve the efficiency versus rejecting heat to the earth’s surface.

    Radiating this amount of heat (when needed) is not feasible and some type of dry cooling tower is required.

    The upper level is accessible if one is clever enough to devise a method to do so. Louis Michaud has accomplished this, and is only awaiting support from enough prominent atmospheric scientists like yourself so the funding necessary to move forward can be obtained.

    What, in your knowledge of Atmospheric Science makes you hesitant to do support this scheme–inquiring minds want to know!

    Do you disagree with Nilton Renno, a NASA expert in vortices, who says that “the science is solid”–and if you do, in what respect do you disagree?

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 19 Jul 2009 @ 3:55 PM

  392. Hank (#389),

    The Sterling engine set up you are thinking of is not what people mean by dry cooling. Dry cooling is for turbines, and it really just means that water is not evaporated to the atmosphere, not that water is not used as a cooling fluid. Heat is transfered to the air convectively or through the use of fans from a warm surface. That surface is warmed by water used to condense steam from a turbine though. The “dryness” comes from not losing any water to the air.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Jul 2009 @ 11:10 PM

  393. Jerry Toman, there are at least three errors in your notion of me as a “prominent atmospheric scientist” — can you find them? This suggests you need to start from the basics and read more carefully. I’m an amateur reader here, just like you are.

    As to the name you mention:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?sourceid=Mozilla-search&q=%22Louis+Michaud%22 nothing

    Got science?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jul 2009 @ 1:28 PM

  394. Hank,

    There are plenty of peer-reviewed articles that can be found at:

    http://vortexengine.ca/Publications.shtml

    You or any of the “official” contributors are welcome to point out any mistakes you might find in the above articles.

    It would appear that Google’s “Scholar” database could be missing one or more “Aces”. I’m sure it will be corrected in time.

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 20 Jul 2009 @ 4:04 PM

  395. Hank Roberts, Jerry Toman -

    I believe what Jerry is refering to is the idea of using a column of spinning air to transfer the mechanical energy from CAPE (potential buoyant energy of hot and/or humid air near the surface) in an updraft to the surface. Because contraction of the vortex tends to require faster rotation (conservation of angular momentum), which increases centrifugal acceleration, which opposes contraction, it becomes hard for air to flow in sideways to take the space of warmer air that is rising when the air is spinning; thus, a rising column of air can pull up on air from below. Indeed, this is how mesocyclones supply energy to tornados.

    Basically, the idea is to construct a solar tower without an actual solid structure (except near the surface).

    I think it’s a great idea, though I’m concerned that turbulent mixing of momentum might degrade performance too much…

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 20 Jul 2009 @ 5:20 PM

  396. Jerry asked the same question and made the same request for support a couple of years ago.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/09/friday-roundup-3/#comment-53574

    The site mentions a scientific ‘Advisory Board’ naming several well known universities and one scientist — you might do better having them make the contacts asking scientists for support. Posting on blogs isn’t optimal to get attention.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Jul 2009 @ 1:11 PM

  397. Re 393 & 394:

    Try

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=%22Louis+Michaud%22+atmosphere&btnG=Search

    Google scholar isn’t missing any “aces”.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 24 Jul 2009 @ 3:36 AM

  398. I’ve supplied the group with a list of Louis Michaud’s publications which indicate that there is plenty of renewable energy in the atmosphere or from so-called “waste heat”, which could potentially be harvested with the Atmospheric Vortex Engine for which he has been grated patents.

    Why doesn’t the group deal with the actual content of these articles, rather than ruminating over some silly “list”?

    Comment by Jerry Toman — 24 Jul 2009 @ 9:33 AM

  399. Jerry Toman, Ray Pierrehumbert suggested what’s needed, in reply to your posting of
    30 Jan 2008 at 3:23 pm
    Are you involved with Michaud? Did you pass that on to Michaud as a recommendation?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Jul 2009 @ 6:54 PM

  400. PS to Jerry — Raypierre in that response (30 Jan. 2008) recommended Michaud obtain a computational fluid dynamics simulation, then on that basis build a model.

    The Michaud website mentions having obtained a computational fluid dynamics study of a small-scale model (two pictures, but no numbers nor link). So he might have something to interest some of the people in the field.
    http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=7975

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Jul 2009 @ 1:14 PM

  401. quick update -

    from what I’ve been reading, environmental impacts and energy payback times (EPBT) will be different from different reports at least in part due to the state of the technology. Improvements in PV technology, quality and manufacturing efficiency (from learning and mass market advantages) will make more recent values significantly better.

    I found one source given nuclear and wind low CO2 per kWh (from memory, nuclear around 20 g (or 10?) CO2 or CO2-equivalent per kWh), while solar PV was listed as being a couple to several times greater in CO2 emissions per unit energy. However, even then, it was much better than fossil fuels.

    (PS there are also emissions and energy consumption associated with fossil fuel energy supply outside the combustion of fuel, since power plants have to be built and run, etc.).

    But other sources give solar PV CO2(-eq) emissions being more similar to nuclear emissions (20 to 30 g/kWh). (and EPBTs from under 1 year to ~4 years, depending on location and technology…) Although other sources put nuclear CO2 equivalent emissions as being even lower again (8 g /kWh).

    The general assumption for solar PV is a lifetime of 30 years. Doubling that and adding some extra time (to make up for performance decay) could cut EPBT and emissions by almost half (most emissions and energy inputs are not from operation and maintenance – this may be less true of nuclear power).

    Of course, the energy mix used also matters – emissions vary depending on where the solar modules are made, perhaps also where nuclear fuel is mined, how far oil and coal must be transported, etc. And this will change over time – CO2 emissions should keep getting lower just from reducing fossil fuel usage in proportion to total energy use.

    Interestingly, while in normal operation at least, nuclear power emits less radioactivity than coal power plants, it is also true that during at least normal operations, solar power emits less cadmium than coal power plants – and the least emissions (among the technologies studied, so far as I know) of Cd are from CdTe solar cells!

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 26 Jul 2009 @ 11:21 PM

  402. more coming… (please keep open for comments)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 27 Jul 2009 @ 11:55 PM

  403. An update to the “Solar Grand Plan”
    http://www.clca.columbia.edu/papers/sun&wind-1.pdf

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 28 Jul 2009 @ 12:06 AM

  404. sheesh 2 DEGREES just look at the s**t we are getting at 0.8 degrees Its like goodbye coral reefs,goodbye amazon rainforest,goodbye himalayan glaciers that provide water to 40% worlds population (lot of poeple in china),goodbye east india monsoon rains needed to grow crops,hello more droughts,hello more forest fires,hello more heat waves, hello more stronger huricanes/typhones/cyclones,hello more floods (because warmer oceans have even more water evaporated from them turned into clouds and blown over land so even more rain pours down at once),hello more jellyfish(they thrive in acidified oceans because of CO2 absorbtion).Volcanoes and Earthquakes caused by rock breaking along fault lines I think should stay the same because they are powered by processes within the earth and not within the oceans or atmosphere.
    I hope this don’t turn out like the New Orleans levay The sientists warned people to fix it or when a certin catergory huricane came along it whould break and the water in the city would rise to a certin level.But probly because it reqiered finacial sacrifice the levey was never fixed.The scientists even said in a documentary that New Orleans was a disaster in the waiting.Then sometime later Katrina came along and just as the scientists said the levay broke and just as the scientists said water rose to a certin level in the city.Now is New Orleans better off financialy for not sacrifising some money to fix the levay?
    How about smoking tobacco, scientists warned poeple about it causing lung cancer but probly not much poeple listened to them until alot of poeple died from lung cancer.
    Must we only change our ways because of suffering?
    Arn’t we inteligent enough to change before we suffer?

    Comment by Sara — 29 Jul 2009 @ 8:59 AM

  405. “Arn’t we inteligent enough to change before we suffer?

    Comment by Sara”

    with 6 million people, you’ll find thousands or millions willing to say there is no problem.

    And given that AGW requires the rich first world pay *now* for the sake of the poor third world in the future (and the rich first world in a few generations, but they aren’t even BORN yet!), there’s plenty of desire to ignore a problem.

    Show me studies of people who stopped drinking at 20 to save the liver of an old man at 60. Even when it is themselves, they don’t care, it’s 40 years away…

    Comment by Mark — 29 Jul 2009 @ 9:13 AM

  406. 6 billion, of course…

    Comment by Mark — 29 Jul 2009 @ 9:32 AM

  407. Sory about putting a word in the above post it’s just that Im so frustrated that it seems like countries are going to not do what the scientists need them to do to have a good chance to avoid catastrophy because of money. I hope history dosnt repeat itself with this one. Because if it dose we might be stuck down the rabit whole for good because of runaway global warming caused by more bushfires and more melting of the permafrost releasing greenhouse gases and establishing a positive feedback loop.

    Comment by Sara — 29 Jul 2009 @ 9:57 AM

  408. “it seems like countries are going to not do what the scientists need them to do to have a good chance to avoid catastrophy ”

    “What the scientists see as the need to do” is more accurate. I was only joking about the world-domination-as-a-hobby.

    A bit like being the only breadwinner in a poor but large family. Your doctor says you are going to die within three years if you don’t change your diet, exercise a little and give up smoking.

    But because you don’t want to be told what to do by “some egghead” and exercising costs money (and ignoring that giving up smokes saves more money), you deny there’s a problem.

    In three years your family will be thrown out of their rented apartment because you died and they will live on the streets. Sure, they may survive, but their lives will be much poorer, even if you discount the fact you no longer are with them.

    And you wonder why, before then and after the advice and refusing it, your family and friends are angry with your decision.

    The denialists who make no money out of fossil fuels are that man.

    Comment by Mark — 30 Jul 2009 @ 3:05 AM

  409. Hi everyone.

    I have been reading the dicussions on this site for a while now but this is my first post. Congratulations on an excellent discussion on the realities of Global Warming.

    I have a number of questions/comments that I would like to put out for clarification or response:

    My first one is this:

    Regarding the 2C warming target that is much discussed as being needed to avoid ‘dangerous warming’. Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of that as a particular target, I have some confusion regarding where the world stands wrt to it right now. One statement put about is the AGW to date is around 0.8C, with another 0.6C ‘locked in’ as we wait for lags in the system to catch up – presumably primarily the themal lag as we wait for the oceans to warm. Then there is stated to be another 0.5C warming being masked by aerosol pollution, principally in Asia that will clear as they hopefully clean up their air. So basically we are already at 2C in effect, just waiting for it to happen. And all this at 390 ppm CO2. I presume this is the basis for recent statements that our target for stabilisation needs to be 360 ppm or even lower.

    On the other hand we have the worlds leaders slowly moving towards a target of 2C AGW based on various levels of emmissions restraint that are -50% to -80% emmissions reductions by 2050 type of figures, resulting in perhaps as much cumulative emmissions by 2050 as we have had since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

    How can we be seemingly be at our 2C limit now, although it is masked, when the policy direction (lets leave aside the politics, economics, engineering etc of whether it can actually be delivered) seems to be saying that we can pump out a lot more and still hit the target. Am I missing something basic here? Is there serious disagreement within the Scientific community about what is needed to achieve a 2C limit. Is the politics working on outdated science? Is the politics just politics. And how good is the scientific consensus on targets and where we are now?

    Am I missing something because this looks like 2 + 2 = 8.

    Comment by Glenn Tamblyn — 3 Aug 2009 @ 4:48 AM

  410. “How can we be seemingly be at our 2C limit now, although it is masked,”

    One is that some of the CO2 out there will go away if we reduce NOW. That may undo some of the warming already done and likewise reduce the amount in the pipeline (since it will reduce before it appears).

    It’s one reason why the targets being “by 2050″ is pants: if we wait till 2045 and do it all in 5 years, we will see all the warming in the pipeline and THEN some 50 years later (figure pulled from thin air) see the reduction.

    The politicians have seen “if we reduce by 2050″ and signed up to that without thinking about how that shows up if they do it all now, evenly over the next 40 years or right at the last minute.

    But there’s not a lot of political points in doing the hard stuff now, so they prevaricate.

    Comment by Mark — 3 Aug 2009 @ 8:22 AM

  411. Re 410 Mark – “The politicians have seen “if we reduce by 2050″ and signed up to that without thinking about how that shows up if they do it all now, evenly over the next 40 years or right at the last minute.”

    Maybe, and a good point to bear in mind, but the possibilities are constrained by economic inertia – I’d expect the change to be distributed over time (except when anthropogenic net emissions do approach zero – then there might be a slam into the zero line, and if there is not much sequestration, it would stop changing around that time).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 3 Aug 2009 @ 10:14 PM

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