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Lindzen in Newsweek

Filed under: — group @ 17 April 2007

Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann

As part of a much larger discussion on Learning to live with Global Warming in Newsweek recently, the editors gave some space for Richard Lindzen to give his standard ‘it’s no big deal’ opinion. While we disagree, we have no beef with serious discussions of the costs and benefits of various courses of action and on the need for adaption to the climate change that is already locked in.

However, Lindzen’s piece is not a serious discussion.

Instead, it is a series of strawman arguments, red-herrings and out and out errors.

Lindzen claims that because we don’t know what the ideal temperature of the planet should be, we shouldn’t be concerned about global warming. But concern about human-driven climate change is not because this is the most perfect of possible worlds – it is because, whatever it’s imperfections, it is the world that society is imperfectly adapted to. Lindzen is well aware that predictions of weather are different from climate predictions (the statistics of weather), yet cheerfully uses popular conflation of the two issues to confuse his readers.

Lindzen claims that the known amount of ‘forcing’ on the system proves that CO2 will only have a small effect, yet makes plain in the subsequent paragraph that the total forcing (and hence what the planet should be reacting to) is quite uncertain (particularly before the satellite era). If the total forcing is uncertain, how can he say that he knows that the sensitivity is small? This issue has been dealt with much more seriously than Lindzen alludes to (as he well knows) and it’s clear that this calculation is simply too uncertain to constrain sensitivity on it’s own.

Among the more egregious of Lindzen’s assertions is this one:

Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn’t account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300. They tried to expunge the medieval warm period from the observational record—an effort that is now generally discredited.

It’s remarkable that Lindzen is able to pack so many errors into two short sentences. First of all, doubts about the global scale of warmth associated with the “Medieval Climate Anomaly” date back well over a decade and certainly precede any known attempts to use climate models to simulate Medieval temperatures [e.g. Hughes and Diaz (1994), Was there a ‘medieval warm period’, and if so, where and when?; there are even earlier conference proceedings that were published coming to similar conclusions]. To the best of our knowledge, the first published attempt to use a climate model and estimated forcing histories to simulate the climate of the past millennium was described less than 7 years ago in this Science article by Tom Crowley, not 10 years ago– (a 43% error ;) ). Crowley’s original study and the other similar studies published since, established that the model simulations are in fact in close agreement with the reconstructions, all of which indicate that at the scale of the Northern Hemisphere, peak Medieval warmth was perhaps comparable to early/mid 20th century warmth, but that it fell well short of the warmth of the most recent decades. Not only has the most recent IPCC report confirmed this assessment, it has in fact extended it further back, concluding that the large-scale warmth of recent decades is likely anomalous in at least the past 1300 years. So we’re puzzled as to precisely what Lindzen would like to have us believe was “expunged” or “discredited”, and by whom?

Finally, we find it curious that Lindzen chose to include this very lawyerly disclaimer at the end of the piece:

[Lindzen’s] research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.

Richard, one thinks thou dost protest too much! A casual reader would be led to infer that Lindzen has received no industry money for his services. But that would be wrong. He has in fact received a pretty penny from industry. But this isn’t for research. Rather it is for his faithful advocacy of a fossil fuel industry-friendly point of view. So Lindzen’s claim is true, on a technicality. But while the reader is led to believe that there is no conflict of interest at work behind Lindzen’s writings, just the opposite is the case.

It should hardly be surprising to learn that Lindzen was just chosen to share the title of “false counselor” in the list of leading “environmental sinners” compiled in the May issue of Vanity Fair on the newstands now (article “Dante’s Inferno: Green Edition”; unfortunately, this sits behind the subscription wall, so you’ll have to purchase the magazine for further details). Incidentally, several other frequent appearers on RC such as Fred Singer, Willie Soon, Sally Baliunas, James Inhofe, and Michael Crichton share in the award festivities. For a time, Lindzen set himself apart from this latter sort of contrarian; his scientific challenges were often thoughtful and his hypotheses interesting, if one-sided – he never met a negative feedback he didn’t like. Sadly, it has become clear that those days are gone.

174 Responses to “Lindzen in Newsweek”

  1. 101
    James says:

    Re #95: […records show Minnesota has had eight consecutive Novembers mild enough to play golf.]

    It’s really difficult for me to fathom the state of mind that would regard this as a good thing. (But then, I’ve always thought that the desire to play golf is an unrecognized early warning sign of Alzheimer’s Disease :-)) I imagine that people who enjoy cross-country skiing, or whose ice fishing shacks & snowmobiles fell through thin lake ice, might voice a different opinion.

    In either case, the goodness or badness is just a reflection of personal taste, and so hardly a reason to ignore all the objective effects of climate change.

    [Many people living in Minnesota say fewer really cold winters are a good thing here.]

    If they don’t like cold winters, why don’t they just move to Florida? Much simpler than buggering up the climate for those of us who prefer the current state.

  2. 102
    John Mashey says:

    re: #94, #99: Jim

    Lord Kelvin wrote (1883):
    “…when you can measure what your are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind…”

    When we started switching to CFLs 10-15 years ago, we checked out the expected lifetimes/costs and mercury issues, deciding that on the basis of the numbers, that they were good investments, saved energy, and were at worst even-up on the mercury, but probably better, and most likely in the noise. Of dozens of CFLs in this house for a decade, one has failed so far.

    Several of us have pointed at numbers regarding CFLs, mercury, cost/energy/lifetime tradeoffs.

    Could you do the same for LEDs and low-power incandescents? We have windup LED flashlights, but unlike CFLs that are widely available in numerous form factors in our small local hardware store, I haven’t yet seen LED/low-power incandescents as available, nor the data that shows me why they are *now* better than CFLs for general use. Over the longer term I have high hopes for LEDs, but I’d switch over as quickly as sensible if you could actually point me at credible numbers… but emotional pleas without numbers fall under kelvin’s comments.

    At least around here, people know they need to recycle CFLs along with batteries, CRTs, etc; there are regularly-scheduled days to take these in. (At least some) kids here learn this stuff in high school or even middle school.

  3. 103
    pat n says:

    re: 101

    Many people come to Minnesota for the money as Lindzen did in 2002 but only for a day or two I suppose. Some come here with the idea of not staying but end up staying longer than they figured. Most people travel to Florida, Nevada, Mexico or other warm climates for a few weeks of vacation in winter or spring, or all winter-spring if they can afford it. For most people, vacation travel and other heavy consumption is not considered a moral issue, not yet anyway, and perhaps never for some.

  4. 104
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Jim at 32:

    He lauds biofuel- and hydrogen- powered gas guzzlers at a time when hydrogen is worse than petroleum because of the marginal power station emissions caused (correct me if I’m wrong), and more biofuel use seems to be worse from almost every angle.

    I think the Governator is taking a commercial mass appeal approach to the problem. There’s a lot to be said for getting the masses to think of things in other than “My life is going to be miserable, even if my soul feels good doing it” terms.

    As for biofuels, for agro-crop generated biofuels that’s certainly the case, but for thermal depolymerization generated biofuels I don’t see how that’s at all true. Plus, it’s apparently not that far from profitable at current oil prices.

    Anyone know what I’m missing?

    (Oh, I found y’all from another blog. Very interesting web-site — definitely feeding the science junkie in me.)

  5. 105
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Lynn at 89 writes:

    Our club is about to start promoting CF bulbs, as well as Green Mountain 100% wind power, at our “BE COOL PARTIES,” so we need to find a place to recycle them….And I think our recycling center may handle them (& if not, we can see to it that they do). Then that will get people to go to the recycling center (we don’t have curbside), and perhaps recycle other stuff as well.

    If you’re looking for a really “sexy” way to push CF bulbs, I’d find electric bills from people who’ve switched. I’d planned on switching over to CFs as the bulbs in my house burned out. Not as a green thing, but as a greenback thing. When I saw how much difference it made in electric consumption I went out and switched the entire house over. The drop in basic electric consumption (without heat or A/C) was about 30% and the payback period from reduced electric consumption on the order of 6 months.

    There are a lot of people, myself included, who are skeptical on the subject of AGW, that aren’t the least bit skeptical about ways to save $$$’s.

    As regards Jim’s response to your post, he’s correct in theory, but I’m not sure that’s what matters. If you’re generator, or whomever is generating, 100% of your KWH used, someone else is likely generating power when the wind isn’t blowing in your part of the world. It’s no less accurate to say you’re getting power from that other source when the air is still in your corner of the world.

  6. 106

    Why is it that the whole AGW issue has been framed to being two sided. The framing works clearly for the benefit of Lindzen et. al. Media has believed that there are two sides in the argument and both must get their say. I believe the reality is that IPCC stands in the middle. There are many who think this will be worse than IPCC thinks. They are not regarded as a “side” in this debate or they are disregarded by all.

    I bet a careful reframing of the issue and suitable metaphors to strengthen the “alarmists” role would show IPCC as the middleman view and both extreme views as equally distant and scientifically remote from consensus. Currently it seems that the middleman is afraid of being mixed with the alarmists and tries it’s best to make all claims disappear that lead to much worse situation than IPCC has claimed. These claims have no advocate of their own in the discussion, but are integrated as small statistical probabilities in it. This approach clearly also has merits and my suggestion is not without dangers.

    There is naturally a cultural and psychological bias towards dyadic arguments but there are also good metaphors for the left right and middle, where the layman usually believes the middle as the most probable in most discussion. This kind of refaming of the AGW issue is severely damaged if the “alarmists” themselves try to suppress their views as they think IPCC level of warning should be enough to convince people. It is also damaged equally much when RC disregards that side of the discussion and only concentrates on the “serious” side of the nay-sayers.

    It may be that you have fallen victim to the two sided framing of the denialists. IPCC actually stands in the middle and so should RC but in the public view this is not the case. I again recommend reading Lakoff’s book “Whose Freedom” as an excellent guide to framing. And I seriously oppose the view that the framing is controlled by the media. Framing is included in each metaphor you use and you can reframe each topic by switching metaphors and analogues. Any good politician knows this. It is not lying that you need to do, it is selecting efficient metaphors and selecting the frames that you draw from peoples minds to leverage the claims you have.

  7. 107
    pat n says:

    re 101.

    If they don’t like cold winters, why don’t they just move to Florida? Much simpler than buggering up the climate for those of us who prefer the current state.

    Many people come to Minnesota for the money as Lindzen did in 2002 (but only for a day or two I suppose). Many Minnesotans travel south to warm climates for winter if they can afford it. Travel is not moral issue yet, except for a few.

    Good Question: Are Energy Choices Moral Ones?
    When it comes to morality, energy probably doesn’t come to mind. However, some experts argue that we need to view our energy choices and those about conservation as morals ones.
    Ben Tracy Reports.

    http://wcco.com/goodquestion

    Based on comments from Lindzen, I doubt that he’s given much thought to energy choices being moral decisions.

  8. 108
    pat n says:

    Global warming media duel going on now in the Twin Cities

    KSTP Channel 5 TV (ABC) featured Richard Lindzen last night who said:

    There is ample evidence that the Earth is far less sensitive to increasing CO2 than current models suggest.

    ————-

    WCCO Channel 4 TV (CBS) featured Don Shelby on Project Energy – accurate and helpful on global warming and what we can do to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

    http://wcco.com/

    I hope other networks and stations are paying attention to this!

  9. 109
    Hank Roberts says:

    >LEDs
    Not there yet. Not efficient (good for spotlight tasks in dark rooms, but see below; the white ones are actually very blue right now). Efficiency is changing fast, very fast.

    >CFLs
    Very efficient. After dark, they can interfere with sleep unless you filter the blue light out. This is getting a lot of attention elsewhere; I won’t digress here; pointers only:

    http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/2007/04/more-clotheslines-poverty-and-compact.html

    (fourteenth paragraph, but start at the top, the rest is also worth reading; the first link in _that_ paragraph is to more documenting why there is a problem, how to find the spectra to know which lights interfere with the sleep cycle, and how to avoid the problem cheaply and easily at home)

    http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/2007/04/more-clotheslines-poverty-and-compact.html#comment-8923783994015270125
    (a bit more from me in his comments thread)

    Happy to talk more at the site pointed to in that response — let’s not digress in this thread. –hr

  10. 110
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re 109: Hank, re LED lighting. Today I found out that you can actually order candelabra bulbs for chandeliers. These are very efficient and last bloody forever–a really good thing when you have 30 foot ceilings that silly-assed builders seem to love these days. They are not cheap–and that is the main drawback, but they make sense for such applications already.

  11. 111
    pat n says:

    Re: more on The Anchor Duel (#108.)

    WCCO shows multiple coverage on global warming under Project Energy. Last night’s program isn’t there yet. Should be there Monday. On Thursday night, WCCO featured Mark Blaiser of Twin Cities Waste Wise who said:

    Our main goal in Waste Wise is to help business in Minnesota find ways to reduce their waste and find recycling outlets for their materials that can be recycled, … Less waste is smart business.

    It was good.

    http://wcco.com/specialreports

    —–

    KSTP has done little or no coverage on global warming. I taped KSTP News this morning which had a replay of last night Earth Day piece with Lindzen and Patrick Michaels.

    It was bad.

    http://www.kstp.com/

    ——-

    The duel has been no contest so far.

    WCCO is in the majors and KSTP is in bush league.

    More on The Duel at: http://npat1.newsvine.com/

  12. 112
    Crust says:

    You may want to write to Newsweek and request a correction, including a link to this blog. Even if the statement is technically correct (and that is not clear as per the discussion at comment #84) it is highly misleading and therefore worthy of correction/clarification.

  13. 113
    Mellors says:

    I am concerned non-expert with grad degree in humanities now slogging through
    Lomborg’s Skeptical Enivornmentalist. Have read Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe. Which author should I believe? I am surprised Lomborg is not referred to more often if only to refute him. What is his credibility? If no one can answer this question, can someone please tell me where I can get help with answer? Thanks.

  14. 114
    Ron R. says:

    Durn! Missed this discussion. Anyway, it looks like the deniers are changing their message. They are beginning to accept that AGW is occurring but they want us to just ADAPT to it rather than take preventative measures. Pretty convienient for the oil companies if you asked me.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_controversy#The_evolving_position_of_some_skeptics

  15. 115
    Jim Roland says:

    FurryCatHerder (#104), I said “almost every angle”. I’d like to be optimistic about thermal depolymerisation of ‘messy wastes’. However there would seem to be much larger theoretical scope to source agro-fuels (with destructive consequences), so that is likely to have the lion’s share of what the additional demand stimulates.

    If incentives and market conditions caused the level of biofuel use to hit a ceiling guided by an alternative fuels obligation, then the result of driving a 100% biofuel gas-guzzler would become the uptake of an equivalent amount of petroleum, as less blending elsewhere would be required.

    I can’t see what Arnie’s achieving if he’s promoting something that’s not the solution i.e. gas-guzzlers, calling them “the future”, and being abusive about small lightweight/hybrid cars. Instead of breaking with a stereotype he panders to it.

  16. 116

    James:

    Define ice ages?

  17. 117
    dhogaza says:

    I am surprised Lomborg is not referred to more often if only to refute him. What is his credibility?

    His credibility is about zero, and not only on climate science issues.

    He’s a political scientist, with no background in those areas in which he claims scientists are dead wrong.

    I’m only competent to comment on his writings about conservation biology, which are laughable. Given that, I have no reason to trust him on any other science issue.

    When it comes to science, I tend to trust scientists much more than I do political scientists like Lomborg, science fiction authors like Michael Crichton, or young earth creationists like Kent Hovind …

  18. 118

    Mellors:

    The built-in search here shows 4 posted articles and about 100 comments mentioning Lomborg.

    Also for what it’s worth, eventually you run out of things to refute. Especially since, like Lindzen in fact, he’s more of a “no big deal-er” than a total denier. Once you’ve said he’s not a scientist, he doesn’t present his material fairly, he selects the most one-sided possible sources for the material, and he substitutes snark for skepticism and study, you’re pretty much done.

    I note they don’t refer to ME either, and I’m not even a serial misleader. It’s so unfair.

  19. 119
    Fredrik says:

    http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/
    Take a look at “six illustrative examples of errors” and decide for yourself.

    More info and references
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lomborg

    I wouldn’t belive Lomborg on anything without checking the references myself.

  20. 120

    [[I am concerned non-expert with grad degree in humanities now slogging through Lomborg’s Skeptical Enivornmentalist. Have read Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe. Which author should I believe? I am surprised Lomborg is not referred to more often if only to refute him. What is his credibility? If no one can answer this question, can someone please tell me where I can get help with answer? Thanks.]]

    The Danish Academy of Sciences was so upset with Lomborg’s book that they voted to censure him in 2003, and declined to review their decision in 2004, if that helps.

  21. 121
    Hank Roberts says:

    Barton, you might want to triple-check; the info at Wikipedia says
    “members of the Danish and international scientific community accused Lomborg of ‘scientific dishonesty’, although Lomborg is not a trained scientist, and does not claim to be.[1] These allegations were investigated by appropriate arms of the Danish government and in the end, no official charges were left standing.”
    Lomborg on his website, and Lomborg at his recent Congressional testimony say the same, and it’s worth double checking to get that fully right.

    In the recent Congressional hearings, he made quite explicit that he’s a “political scientist” not a “scientist.”

  22. 122

    [[Barton, you might want to triple-check; the info at Wikipedia says “members of the Danish and international scientific community accused Lomborg of ‘scientific dishonesty’, although Lomborg is not a trained scientist, and does not claim to be.[1] These allegations were investigated by appropriate arms of the Danish government and in the end, no official charges were left standing.”
    Lomborg on his website, and Lomborg at his recent Congressional testimony say the same, and it’s worth double checking to get that fully right.
    In the recent Congressional hearings, he made quite explicit that he’s a “political scientist” not a “scientist.”
    ]]

    Is Wikipedia always right, or can partisans enter data which isn’t corrected for a long time?

    I don’t know what the Danish government did. I know that the Danish Academy of Sciences said Lomborg’s book was bilge. That’s the central fact of importance here, I’d say.

  23. 123
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Barton, to my knowledge the Wikipedia article is mostly correct–and Lomborg certainly doesn’t come off looking good as a result. It appears that wrt the charges of scientific dishonesty, the ministry allowed Lomborg to plead guilty to the lesser charge of willful ignorance. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the whole affair, is that Lomborg seems to be as willing to discard good economics–which he ought to understand–as he is to discard inconvenient physical science.
    WRT Wikipedia in general–it’s pretty good for public figures who are controversial or popular, as any distortions are likely to be recognized by the next knowledgeable reader. Where it tends to fail is for relatively obscure public figures nobody really cares about.

  24. 124
    Howard Glick says:

    #122: Will the New York Times do?

    http://tinyurl.com/2jl79z

    And the accuser was not the Danish Academy of Sciences. It was the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty.

    You said they “declined to review their decision” in 2004. What they actually did in 2004 (March 12) was to decline to pursue the case further after they were rebuked.

    http://tinyurl.com/3ymxnr

  25. 125
  26. 126
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Howard, if you look at the whole sordid affair, Lomborg was hardly vindicated. All the ministry did was question whether he committed his transgressions out of ignorance or with intent–hardly a ringing endorsement. The committees declined to further pursue the matter because they were concerned that it would just add publicity to a bad piece of work. As I said above, the most disturbing thing I find in Lomborg’s work is not that it is bad science–anyone can make an error when they venture outside their expertise. Rather, it is that it is damned lousy economics–a field Lomborg should understand. It appears we are cursed with academics who are more concerned with scoring points than they are with clarifying them.

  27. 127

    For me, the thing that showed Lomborg up as a charlatan is the way he framed his book. He explained how he had been a member of Greenpeace but now he had seen the light, so making out that he was a repenting sinner. Just the line to take that would go down well with the Christian Right!

  28. 128
    James says:

    Re #115: [I can’t see what Arnie’s achieving if he’s promoting something that’s not the solution i.e. gas-guzzlers, calling them “the future”, and being abusive about small lightweight/hybrid cars. Instead of breaking with a stereotype he panders to it.]

    Think about the psychology. Consider the language he uses: “wimpy, feminine car”. Doesn’t it suggest that a car to him is something other than a convenient way to get from point A to point B? That it substitutes for certain… how shall I say this tastefully? …perceived inadequacies in areas that have nothing to do with transportation?

    In that light, biofueled Hummers make perfect sense, allowing the guzzler-drivers to resolve (in their own minds, at least) conflicts about being ‘green’, while still keeping their highly-valued substitutes for masculinity.

  29. 129
    Howard Glick says:

    #126: I admit to being an admirer of Lomborg. However, my sole intention in Post #124 was to simply point out that Post #120 and #122 were very inaccurate. And thanks to that poster for admitting he was wrong.

  30. 130
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 129

    So, what is it about Lomborg’s work that you admire? And which works, in particular? I’m really curious to know.

  31. 131
    Jim says:

    Re John Mashey.

    What you said was acutally quite funny!

    [if you could actually point me at credible numbers… but emotional pleas without numbers fall under kelvin’s comments. ]

    In affect you say show me the money. Well hell I have been asking that from everyone here wrt to power generation and you know what I get? He3 mining on the moon for fusion power. (Wind ain’t gonna cut it, and the best forms of solar power are still not even close. ei. algae biodiesel, and molten salt solar. MW per unit land area is much too low.) You must see the irony in that! In any case I did an oh so tuff google search “LED watts/lument” that took forever that found this little markety page for you.
    http://lighting.sandia.gov/XlightingoverviewFAQ.htm

    And believe the improvements of which they speak. The one constant in the semicon world has been improvements in the neighborhood of orders of magnitude at least 2-3years. Otherwise PC processors would not be where they are right now.

    Once the LED ball gets rolling they won’t be near as expensive as CFLs or Incandescents as they are churned out by the millions on proven/volume scalable semicon process. So yes I had more than an impassioned plea but I set you up some.

  32. 132
    Jim says:

    Actually James,

    Maybe you should ponder the term “different strokes for different folks.” A lot of people get something out activities and things that everyone else takes for granted. For instance you and your electronic toys at home would not be understood by the average grease monkey either and they would have some choice words about your “nerdiness” or something. I am not saying anything about the stereo typing or if it is right or wrong by whomever (yourself included btw with the implication to the guy’s er midsection.), but alot of people like to have a little power under the hood. Maybe some folks just enjoy driving and perish the thought driving fast! If you ever drove a hybrid, you know a sporty car it is not!

  33. 133
    Jim says:

    In regards to biofuels. Algae biodeisel seems to be a good start for transport fuels. Ethanol or other types of food oils depend to much on current food crops and have a large amount of land use with a big penalty of less energy in the finished product than the energy required to make it. (Ethanol and foodstock based biodiesel is a bad idea, you don’t even break even with what you get out wrt what you put in.) Algae OTOH we have complete freedom to grow as much as we wish, and to site the tanks close to C02 producers. (C02 is required for growth.) Most importantly you get out more than you put in.

    WRT to furrycatherder.

    What I posted was not just correct in theory, but in fact. Electricity is supplied to load as a sum total of generation capacity to the sum total of load. Companies must fill that load any way then can and they do with a myriad of electrical power sources ranging from coal pp, to nuclear, to wind, to hydro. The electricity we all get is a combination of all sources and it is physically impossible to isolate a specific load to a particular source. In any case, I was trying to educate the layman a little on how the power industry works. (I used to work in it.)

    When you buy “wind” power, what in effect is happening is the power company agrees to import the amount of KWHs that you burn from a wind source when it is online. (approx 35% of the time due to wind power variabilities) The net result is an economic shift to different and more power sources by the power companies which is a good thing.

    My primary hope is for energy indepenence not to lower C02 even though both can happen at the same time.

  34. 134

    [[Wind ain’t gonna cut it, and the best forms of solar power are still not even close. ei. algae biodiesel, and molten salt solar. MW per unit land area is much too low.) ]]

    Much too low for what? Compared to what? I know your constant refrain is “renewables can’t do it, gotta have nuclear,” but you should show some evidence once in a while. Assertion isn’t argument.

  35. 135
    Jim says:

    No sh%t.

    I have posted sources in past posts Bart but evidently you don’t bother to read them and I don’t and won’t post them everytime I say something. (I know you don’t bother, especially considering I don’t like nuclear on the grounds of the long life hazardous waste. That guy’s handle is James not Jim) However this time I will point you in a general direction.
    A good exmaple (to me it is one of the most promising technologies as it hopefully looks like it can be scaled to at least a couple hundred MW.) is the molten salt solar plant being built in spain. (Solar Tres, look it up yourself.) It will output 15MW with a storage capaciity of about 16 hourss at 600MWhs (Enough to greet the sun the next day and only in the summer.) with a land area size of approx 10Acres/MW for 150Acers for a 15MW power station, that can only run for 24 hours a day in the summer. Compare that to your average sized nuclear/ff 500 to 1000MW power plant that can run irrespective of sunshine. Yes I know you have to compare the size of the uranium/coal mines, but that also applies to the heliostat resource mining and manufacturing as well and I can’t find those figures.

    In any case until the problems of large scale energy storage and capacity are solved solar and wind power will at best augment traditional power sources and at this state of technology will not keep up with power consumption growth. (Again look it up yourself as google is your friend. I will even help lookup power consumption growth and the rate at which all sources of new power are installed.) Let’s reconvene in five years and the situation should be clearer in this regard. It all points back to the best options you have NOW in regards to AGW and C02 which are Nuclear, Carbon Sequestered FF, and Molten Salt when it grows in capacity.

  36. 136
    James says:

    Re #132: [Maybe you should ponder the term “different strokes for different folks.” A lot of people get something out activities and things that everyone else takes for granted.]

    Quite true. I was merely pointing out one likely possibility for what some people get from their Hummers and jacked-up pickups. (Which so often have fake testicles hanging from the rear bumpers, making the connection sort of obvious :-))

    Now if their choice of “strokes” had no adverse consequences for me and/or the rest of the world, we could just leave them to it, shaking our heads in puzzled amazement, as I might do at a fanatic collector or sports fan. Unfortunately it does, in ways that include the CO2/AGW connections we discuss here, which makes it my/our concern, doesn’t it? If we don’t try to understand just why it is that some people are so attached to oversized, gas-guzzling vehicles, we’re not going to have much chance of persuading them to make other choices, are we?

    [If you ever drove a hybrid, you know a sporty car it is not!]

    There you’ve run headfirst into the perils of arguing from ignorance :-) In point of fact, I’ve been driving a hybrid (a Honda Insight) for the last four years. I find it quite sporty – and since my car-owning experience takes a pretty straight line from my first Austin-Healey through the CRX I had before the Insight, I think I’m qualified to judge.

  37. 137
    Hank Roberts says:

    I noticed Dr. Lindzen recommended the Honda Insight (two-seater) over the Prius, because they get 60mpg; they just went out of production but they can still be found at Honda dealers as certified used, some with very low mileage. If I needed to drive regularly on pavement I’d look hard at one.

  38. 138
    Jim Roland says:

    Re #135, onshore wind can achieve over 3MW ha-1 of actual standing land, NET of wind variability, according to British Wind Energy Association notes, http://www.bwea.com/ref/faq.html . That is 0.33 hectares/MW or 0.82 acres/MW. Even if we multiplied this by 3 to allow for BWEA optimism and the shadow cast on cropland by wind turbines, still gives us about 2.5 acres/MW in fairly windy locations.

    Also have you seen this year’s findings that all US electricity could be supported by wave and tidal, or its entire energy needs from geothermal for two millenia to come. See my little source file.

    To provide seasonal backup, just keep some combustive plant on standby and a stockpile of biomass to feed in when you need it.

  39. 139
    James says:

    Re #137: […Lindzen recommended the Honda Insight (two-seater) over the Prius, because they get 60mpg]

    Well, he’s wrong about that too :-) Over the almost 4 years & 50K miles I’ve owned mine, I’ve averaged 70 mpg. (The car has an onboard recording function, which I reset shortly after I bought it.) And much of my driving is done in the Sierra Nevada mountains, not exactly the best terrain for high mpg.

  40. 140
    Fredrik says:

    Howard, “You said they “declined to review their decision” in 2004. What they actually did in 2004 (March 12) was to decline to pursue the case further after they were rebuked.”

    I just saw that your second link was from a press realise from Lomborg.

    So in the New York times

    “The rebuke is not a formal rejection of the report. Most of the ministry’s criticisms were of the panel’s methods, not its findings. About those, the ministry said the panel had relied entirely on a review of previous criticisms of the book. ”

    Then in Lomborg

    “In December 2003 The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation completely rejected the DCSD finding that “The Skeptical Environmentalist” was “objectively dishonest” or “clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice”. ”

    Thus a critique of the methods is a completely rejection in Lomborgs world. Lomborgs press realise doesn’t agree with reality. See the relevant documents on KÃ¥re’s site and decide for yourself.

    I am also interested in why you admire Lomborg?

  41. 141
    John Mashey says:

    Re: #131, Jim

    1) Thanks for the pointers to the reports. Since those industry roadmaps lay out the (hard) work to do to get LEDs to start to be competitive with CFLs around 2012, I remain supportive of our town’s GHG committee’s recommendations (use CFLs). LEDs will get there eventually, which is nice, since they’re yet another technology much of whose early research occurred where I worked (Bell Labs).

    2) “And believe the improvements of which they speak. The one constant in the semicon world has been improvements in the neighborhood of orders of magnitude at least 2-3years. Otherwise PC processors would not be where they are right now.”

    The quote above is wrong in several ways and readers should not be misled into thinking this happens overnight.

    a) The classic improvement rate has followed the famous “Moore’s Law”: 2X more transistors in 2 years, *not* “orders of magnitude” in 2-3 years. That yields 64X (2^6) in 12 years and 128X (2^7)in 14 years, in density of transistors (but not necessarily speed, and definitely not necessarily lumens/Watt or lumens/$.]

    b) Many of the challenges laid out in the 111-page document Jim mentioned are *very* different in process technology and even basic physics compared to chips in PCs.

    It makes no sense to argue semiconductor roadmaps here, but there’s no semiconductor magic that is likely to suddenly accelerate the evolution of LEDs to be more competitive. It’s like slowing down global warming – there is no easy silver bullet, just a whole lot of hard-slogging work. Again, LEDs should get there, but for consumer applications, it looks like around 2012 is the earliest time to review CFL-vs-LED [according to the OIDA roadmap], and if they don’t make that roadmap, it will be longer.

  42. 142
    Geoff Russell says:

    Re #139. I believe the Honda Insight achieves its fuel efficiency by having an all
    aluminium body (which makes it very light) so you have weigh up the
    energy/emissions cost of the aluminium against the fuel savings.

  43. 143
    Ray Ladbury says:

    John, FYI, Moore’s law is really more appropriately Moore’s Trend. In fact the doubling time for speed/density has ranged from 18 mos. to >3 years. Ultimately, though, it is a reflection of scaling of CMOS (complementary metal on semiconductor) technology–a recipe for shrinking feature sizes on transistors and still having them work. The scaling recipes are approximate, and there are always additional changes that need to be made, and we are always on the verge of a complete breakdown of scaling (ever since the ’80s), yet it’s enough to fuel the amazing growth we see.
    LEDs are a different matter, as they are manufactured using III-V (three-five) compound semiconductors. Progress here has been a bit spotty and comes in fits and starts, but there have been amazing qualitative as well as quantitative advances. I can remember when blue light LEDs were considered impossible, and white light seemed beyond comprehension. 2012 seems reasonble for solid state lighting to come of age, although there are already applications where it’s much more practical. My experience with CFLs is that they aren’t as robust as promised. It’ll be fun to follow the trends and see whether the net trend is toward energy consumption (new processors are real hogs) or power savings. I suspect it’ll be the latter, as we’re reaching the limits of our ability to cool processors into their operating range.

  44. 144
    James says:

    Re #142: [I believe the Honda Insight achieves its fuel efficiency by having an all aluminium body (which makes it very light) so you have weigh up the energy/emissions cost of the aluminium against the fuel savings.]

    True, the aluminium body is one factor (though far from the only one) in the Insight’s fuel economy. Total energy cost is not nearly as simple as figuring in the energy cost of raw aluminium vs steel, though. Aluminium is a lot more durable, especially if you live in the northeast, or other areas where salt is used on roads. I expect Insights in those areas will still have sound bodies when their contemporaries are rusted out. Then too, when an aluminium-bodied car is junked, it’s a lot easier and more profitible to recycle the metal.

    One rather sad commentary on modern automotive technology, though, is that even with all the effort Honda devoted to reducing weight, the Insight is still about 300 lbs heavier than was my old steel-bodied Sprite.

  45. 145
    John Mashey says:

    re: #143
    Yes, we agree. Given that I’ve spent much of my career designing high-performance microprocessors, doing product strategy using the industry roadmaps, and being Program Co-Chair for the Hot Chips Conference at Stanford this year … there is plenty that could be said, but I didn’t think RC needed a long exposition on chip design and semiconductor device physics, just:

    LEDs will come, but don’t wait for them, expecting magic: CFLs work fine now, and seem to last long enough that their replacements might be LEDs, but that’s no reason to stop replacing incandescents with CFLs. The OIDA (LED) roadmap is as aggressive as the SIA’s (CMOS), and there is plenty of nontrivial work to meet their 2012 and 2020 targets.

  46. 146
    Rod B. says:

    re 143: Ray, Excellent post…

  47. 147
    P. Lewis says:

    Re #143

    CMOS = ?

    complementary metal on semiconductor?

    AFAIK, the acronym CMOS stands for complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor, a triple material sandwich of a conducting metal on an insulating oxide on a semiconductor.

    And with regard to LEDs, in addition, some are (increasingly) now being made from organics/polymers: watch for a TV screen somewhere near you in the next couple of years (ish).:-)

  48. 148
    John Mashey says:

    #147, #143

    Current CMOS chips are much more complex than a triple material sandwich [they’re more like giant multi-layer Dagwoods :-)] and yes, OLEDs (Organic LEDs)are coming as well.

    There were claims by Jim that (a) PC chips had improved by orders of magnitude every 2-3 years and (b) Therefore, that LEDs would also, and implicitly (c) Therefore, one shouldn’t mess with CFLs.

    (a) Moore’s Law (and that *is* what practitioners call it, knowing perfectly well it’s no law of physics or anything else, and it certainly is the best term to Google to find discussions about the topic) gave a trendline of 2X density about every 2 years, not orders of magnitude every 2-3.
    So (a) was grotesquely false.

    (b) Many of the issues/technologies of improving LEDs (and OLEDs) are quite different from those of CMOS, and hence (b) doesn’t automatically follow from (a). Maybe there will be huge breakthrough jumps in (O)LED performance, but the OIDA roadmap lays out very hard work to get there; from decades of firsthand experience, huge jumps in this business are rare. [I’ve been on panels with photonics computing people, and at Hot Chips, we get photonics papers every year, and not every prediction ahs come true :-)]

    (c) Hence, maybe there are reasons to avoid CFLs, but this line of reasoning isn’t one of them… If I thought LEDs would cost-competitively replace CFLs next year, I’d say wait, but even the aggressive OIDA roadmap doesn’t say that.

    By all means, keep an eye on (O)LEDs and use them where appropriate; just don’t count on magic improvements overnight.

    This has gotten way out of RC turf: better would be Google Groups sci.engr.semiconductor or sometimes comp.arch.

  49. 149
    Jim says:

    So I was exagerating somewhat about semicons with “orders of magnitude”. I (have) worked in this field as well. (Mainly with Verilog/VHDL tools, low transistor budget ASICS.)

    I have some heard Moore’s “Law” expressed as Moore’s Curves. Both Trend and Curves are more accurate.

    However some points to note
    in the 50’s the device count on ICs were in the 10s, in the 60s in the 100’s, in the 70s about 10,000, the 80s 100s of thousands, the 90s millions, and in the early 2000’s the counts are in the hundreds of millions. Hence my “order’s of mangitude statement”.
    You were also being a little careful with your own words as I was not speaking about transistor switching frequency but increases gate density which is the primary driver of performance in logic performance as it can do more things at once. There are some caveats to that of course depending on factors such as types of workloads and target performance, but it is generally true.

    Getting back on topic, you kind of ignored my first argument. You suggested for me to stop being idealistic on a forum where all one hears about is idealism, especially in regards to power generation. I find that quite ironic. In any case my personal experience with CFLs is this. I bought 12 of them within two months 6 where dead. So I don’t buy into the whole CFL deal as of yet. In any case the current state of LEDs are 30 lumens/watt which is twice as good as regular light bulbs (15 lumens/watt) with much much longer life, and without the mercury too. Which tradeoffs to make LEDs have approx 10 times long life than CFLs. (100,000 to 10,000 Hours) MTBF OTOH CFLs have about twice as much lumens/watt currently. ( I have read on the web about a 150lumen/watt white led. I will post a link later.)

    Re James

    I am not speaking out of ignorance as I have driven a Prius myself quite often. Drive your insight or prius, then drive a real sports car such as corvettes, mustang GTs etc.etc.
    Hence the statement “Sports Car it is not!”

  50. 150
    James says:

    Re #149: [I am not speaking out of ignorance as I have driven a Prius myself quite often.]

    OK, you’ve driven a Prius. It’s a 4-seat family sedan, and (though I have no personal experience) I’d expect it drives like one. So? Does that mean all hybrids do? Even when they’re made by a different company, using different technology and a different body style?

    [Drive your insight or prius, then drive a real sports car such as corvettes, mustang GTs etc.etc. Hence the statement “Sports Car it is not!”]

    I just don’t have the words… You’re seriously trying to claim that those oversized, clumsy pieces of Detroit iron are sports cars? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, really I don’t.