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Unforced variations: Apr 2011

Filed under: — group @ 1 April 2011

This months open thread. There are some Items of potential interest::

or whatever you like.


525 Responses to “Unforced variations: Apr 2011”

  1. 51
    Rob OC says:

    Joe Lassiter:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/

    contains a current staff list.

  2. 52

    So Scott Armstrong is back for Congressional hearings. Can’t quite get myself to watch, but I assume he neglected to mention the unfair Intrade prediction market bet that his side set up, supposedly against Al Gore, in which Armstrong managed to lose anyway:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2011/02/climate-betting-update-for-2010.html (in update at bottom)

  3. 53
    Joe says:

    Joe Lassiter, CRU’s staff is listed here: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/

  4. 54
    Thomas says:

    I would think wind turbines would inhibit the decoupling of medium altitude winds to the surface during times of strong radiational cooling (i.e. clear nights). To the extent that the wind is still blowing at the height of the turbine (roughly 100M), but would have been decoupled at ground level, (due to the temperature inversion inhibiting turbulent momentum trnasfer downwards). Still spinning turbines should create turbulent mixing of the warmer air at circa 100M with the cooler ground surface. This would have a local effect -raising minimum temperatures, and perhaps a global effect, the local area with wind turbines should more efficiently radiate thermal energy from the lower atmosphere into space (by advecting atmosheric heat to the ground surface at night, where it can be radiated away). I live downwind of topography which in interaction with the wind mixes warmer air aloft downwards at night, and my summer minimum temperatures are often 10F warmer than nearby locations.

  5. 55
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Gavin, Thanks for the response to my post #16.

    Fig.2 of Unger et al. suggests that aviation cools the Earth for the first few decades. I was very impressed by Unger et. al. (and still am) but the paper I quoted by Burkhardt et. al. suggested to me the effects of aviation may not be cooling in the first few decades. Is the jury still out on this or do you stick with Unger?

    Joel #30. The importance of aviation is that it is overwhelmingly an activity of the affluent … and affluence is something to which the whole world aspires. Unlike us only a small proportion of Chinese fly but many of them are getting more affluent. Do we say “Do as I say. Not as I do?

    In the UK the government is still aiming for each person to have a carbon footprint of 2 tonnes per year so how can we justify flights like the following:

    A return flight from Leeds UK to Brisbane Australia (and making everything except air travel zero) gives a carbon footprint of just over 2.9 tonnes of CO2 according to the Governments carbon calculator. The Green Ration Book gives a figure for a similar journey of 6.8 tonnes. The difference is largely that the government calculator ignores non-CO2 effects although it does mention them.

    [Response: It is not obvious that the non-CO2 effects are large and positive – and indeed, the magnitude of the effects (as mentioned) are complicated and (as yet) incompletely understood. Unger et al was a big step forward – doing these calculations in a more coherent framework than previously, but they did not include everything. Thus my feeling is that we probably still want to wait and see. Strong statements that the non-CO2 effect is small or a factor of 3 larger are not justified. – gavin]

  6. 56
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Interview with Prof. Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Adviser to the NZ Prime Minister. Touches on many issues around science’s relationship with the media, the political/science interface, etc.

  7. 57
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re my 11:

    “Weather response to a large wind turbine array”
    D. B. Barrie, D. B. Kirk-Davidoff
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys.org/10/769/2010/acp-10-769-2010.pdf
    section 2.4: they calculate that their wind farm would produce 2.48 TW power (I only read a little bit, it sounded like this is for the specific time period modelled but I could be wrong. I might not be the average output and it might not be the capacity either… still, that’s HUGE, several times the present U.S. electric power consumption and roughly similar to U.S. primary (fuel-equivalent) power consumption.)

  8. 58
    Patrick 027 says:

    … re my last comment – interesting point, the actual change in kinetic energy dissipation in the area of the wind farm was a small fraction of the energy output of the wind farm, because much of that energy would otherwise have been dissipated by land cover.

  9. 59
    Frank Giger says:

    Is it jut me or does the mention of a “Green Ration Book” make one shudder just at the thought of the implications?

    [Response: If you go to their web site, you’ll see it’s just an attempt to calculate the energy costs associated with various economic choices (paper vs. plastic, flying vs. driving, etc.). It’s not a manifesto on how we should run the world. They could have chosen a better title, obviously, to avoid stoking the fears of the paranoid.–eric]

  10. 60
    calyptorhynchus says:

    On another topic, I have noticed in the last few months in Australia that the tone of denialist comments on Australian online discussions has changed. You still get just as many people offering flat statements about how they don’t believe in AGW without proof, but those who do try to argue are using more and more desperate and convoluted arguments.

    For example on a recent discussion about comments from Tim Flannery, head of the Climate Change Commission, there were endless arguments by denialists about whether one statement he made was contradicted by the IPCC report. Pointing out the irony of denialists using the IPCC as evidence elicited no response.

    I’m beginning to think the tide is turning.

  11. 61
    Andrew Hobbs says:

    #48 Patrick

    The paper you cited uses a hypothetical wind farm covering 23% of the land area of North America (US and Canada) containing windmills spaced 800 metres apart. The length of each blade being about 64 m (or 210 feet).
    That would require about 9 million windmills. I suspect that might be a tad unrealistic.

  12. 62
    Eric Swanson says:

    I see that John Christy was one of the people who testified before the House Committee last Friday. His prepared testimony is amazing, running to 60 pages. He certainly wins the “if you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with BS” award for that.

    Christy may think there are no longer any problems with his TLT, after the several rounds of criticism by other scientists. Sad to say, I’m still not satisfied with Christy’s satellite analysis, perhaps because I’ve not attended numerous meetings where my questions might have been answered. What bothers me is his basic algorithm for the TLT, which was first published in 1992. As far as I know, he has never explained how this algorithm was derived.

    It appears he used a model of the microwave emissions of oxygen thru the entire column of the atmosphere at each scan position, then decided on a combination which would satisfy some criterion of “best fit” in minimizing the stratospheric component in the result. My guess is that he did this analysis by using the lapse rate of the US Standard Atmosphere as input to his model, which is itself the result of an idealized mathematical model. Thinking about this process, I wonder how well this modeled lapse rate matches the real world, especially at polar latitudes (where the tropopause occurs at lower pressure altitudes) and during different seasons. If the TLT algorithm is impacted by either seasonal or latitudinal influences, would that induce another source of bias in the measurements, such as increasing the stratospheric component at polar latitudes? And, would adding greenhouse gases change the lapse rate in some way which would bias the TLT algorithm which Christy then uses to calculate the TLT to assess the temperature trends? Any comments would be appreciated.

  13. 63
    Eric Swanson says:

    I see that John Christy was one of the people who testified before the House Committee last Friday. His prepared testimony is amazing, running to 60 pages. He certainly wins the “if you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with BS” award for that.

    Christy may think there are no longer any problems with his TLT, after the several rounds of criticism by other scientists. Sad to say, I’m still not satisfied with Christy’s satellite analysis, perhaps because I’ve not attended numerous meetings where my questions might have been answered. What bothers me is his basic algorithm for the TLT, which was first published in 1992. As far as I know, he has never explained how this algorithm was derived. It appears he uses a model of the microwave emissions of oxygen thru the entire column of the atmosphere at each scan position, then decided on a combination which would satisfy some criterion of “best fit” in minimizing the stratospheric component in the result. My guess is that he did this analysis by using the lapse rate of the US Standard Atmosphere as input to his model, which is itself the result of an idealized mathematical model. Thinking about this process, I wonder how well this modeled lapse rate matches the real world, especially at polar latitudes (where the tropopause occurs at lower pressure altitudes) and during different seasons. If the TLT algorithm is impacted by either seasonal or latitudinal influences, would that induce another source of bias in the measurements, such as increasing the stratospheric component at polar latitudes? And, would adding greenhouse gases change the lapse rate in some way which would bias the TLT algorithm which Christy then uses to calculate the TLT to assess the temperature trends? Any comments would be appreciated.

  14. 64
    SCM says:

    Just though I’d give a plug for Australia’s CSIRO (national science organisation) who have just released an online book in an attempt to communicate the facts about climate change, adaptation & mitigation.
    Link is: http://www.csiro.au/resources/Climate-Change-Book.html
    The target audience is:

    business / community leaders
    federal, state and local government members
    researchers and academics involved or interested in climate change science, adaptation and mitigation
    educators and media
    General public with an interest in climate change science
    _

    It maybe be useful to those down-under.

  15. 65
    Nick Gotts says:

    “Is it jut me or does the mention of a “Green Ration Book” make one shudder just at the thought of the implications?” – Frank Giger

    It’s just you and your fellow-denialists – or to be more accurate, it’s an attempt by you and your fellow-denialists to stir up vague and unfounded fears. What implications, specifically, are you referring to? When a particular resource is limited, rationing is sometimes necessary. Rationing can be by price, or by quota. Generally, the rich and selfish prefer the former, but pretend it’s not rationing, because they can get all they want.

  16. 66
    Geoff Beacon says:

    “The Canadian government has stepped up lobbying in Europe for its highly-polluting tar sands industry, repeating its threats of trade conflict, a leaked letter shows.”

    “Given the desire for freer trade between us, it is important that our individual efforts to address climate change do not lead to the creation of unnecessary barriers”

    “The Government of Canada believes this approach raises the prospect of unjustified discrimination and is not supported by the science.”
    Reuters report

    Comments?

  17. 67
    flxible says:

    Geoff – there is currently a Canadian federal election happening – all that can be said is “hope the Conservatives don’t get a majority”.

  18. 68
    J Bowers says:

    \Green Ration Book\ is a terrible name. I’ve told them via their Contact page and I’d suggest that others do. It plays right into the hands of the pro-fossil fuel lobby and anti-environmental screeching hordes who portray concern over the environment as being comparable to wanting to take developed nations back to the Stone Age, and not simply wishing to switch to more sensible energy and materials. They really need to rebrand it, and I really don’t care if that sounds like a cynical marketing suggestion.

  19. 69
    J Bowers says:

    And got an impressively swift response. Don’t follow my suggestion to contact them, is all I’ll say ;)

  20. 70
    SecularAnimist says:

    Tom Keen in #35 wrote: “Wind power is simply too unreliable and too expensive to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels in the long run.”

    Both of those statements are simply not true. The USA has more than enough commercially exploitable wind energy to replace all fossil fuel consumption. And extremely conservative US DOE studies estimate that wind could easily be generating more electricity than nuclear power within 10 years.

    Wind power has demonstrated that it is highly reliable. For example, Japan’s wind turbine farms including a major offshore wind farm were pretty much unscathed by both the earthquake and the tsunami.

    Neither does the inherent variability of wind make wind power “unrelaiable”, as studies in both the USA and Europe have demonstrated.

    And as to cost, wind is already competitive with natural gas, and far less expensive than new nuclear power.

    Which is why, in 2010 — which was a bad year for the growth of wind power — wind accounted for 37 percent of all new generating capacity installed in the USA (second only to natural gas at 43 percent), and a record of 68 gigawatts of new wind generation capacity was added globally.

  21. 71
    Radge havers says:

    For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage.

    But what we had, instead of high seriousness, was a farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence. As I said, no surprise: as Upton Sinclair pointed out long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

    But it’s terrifying to realize that this kind of cynical careerism — for that’s what it is — has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us.
    Krugman

    Like the lilly pond on the 30th day?

    More than careerism, I can’t help noticing that there’s a whole culture of “mischievous speculation [tee hee]” designed to make people feel good and clubby, righteous even, about not having to put any painful effort into their opinions. It’s an uphill battle for people who want to address AGW seriously. There’s no instant sense of belonging, no climate bar for the average Joe, if you will. Hell, you can’t even get an RC T-shirt or mug with logo or “I (heart) Climate Science” or “Have you hugged your climatologist today?”

  22. 72
    Dan Kirk-Davidoff says:

    Re: 11 & 48: My student and I wrote that paper on the hypothetical weather impacts of a really big wind farm. I agree with Patrick027 ‘s interpretation of our results. We wanted to examine the impact of manipulation of a fully built-out on shore wind resource. The power to influence weather was pretty modest in our experiments, and the climate impacts were also modest. The more recent paper paper by Miller et al. (2011) likewise shows (see their figures 3 and 7), that you don’t get appreciable climate impacts due to wind farms until the amount of mechanical energy exerted on turbines approaches the entire global energy demand (21 TW). At half that level the predicted changes in temperature and precipitation are pretty trivial.

  23. 73
    EFS_Junior says:

    #4 & #10 Seb Tallents

    Here’s a link to the final and draft of said paper (both work at my end with IE9);

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/2/1/2011/esd-2-1-2011.pdf

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/1/169/2010/esdd-1-169-2010-print.pdf

  24. 74
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Tom Keen in #35 wrote: “Wind power is simply too unreliable and too expensive to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels in the long run.”

    SecularAnimist in #60 plausible argues against this. But if energy must be more expensive to save the planet so be it. I would suggest a high carbon tax with the revenues recycled to help the poor and increase employment by cutting taxes on labour. Remember that the affluent cause more carbon pollution than the poor.

    As you all probably know, it is possible for energy to be carbon negative e.g. by burning biomass with carbon capture and storage. It may cost more but we should be prepared to pay. How much more depends on your favourite climate change scenario.

    J Bowers #58 may be right about the name of our Green Ration Book but the pollution cost of everyday living is something about which we should all be aware. Because it is difficult to know this exactly (see Gavin’s reponse to #46) we decided to have a panel to make informed estimates (sometimes just guesses). I’m afraid we have rather run out of steam recently so if the right organisation wants to carry it forward we are open to offers.

    We need pollution charges counteract the deficiencies in our market economies. I am chairman of the Pollution Tax Association (established 1992). We pay (ridiculously small) carbon taxes to give to charity but I’m afraid there aren’t many of us left.

  25. 75
    SecularAnimist says:

    Geoff Beacon wrote: “But if energy must be more expensive to save the planet so be it.”

    The price of wind and solar energy never changes: it’s free. Always has been, always will be.

    Of course the technology to harvest free wind and solar energy and convert it into electricity is not free. And the price of that technology does change: it gets cheaper and cheaper all the time, as the technology advances and becomes more efficient and production scales up.

    A renewables-based energy economy is thus one in which energy gets less expensive over time.

    Yes, fossil fuels “must be more expensive to save the planet” — but that is merely to say that their price must be forced (e.g. through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system) to include the full cost of the pollution they generate.

  26. 76
    Steve Metzler says:

    61. Radge Havers

    I headed over to the NY Times site and read the Krugman article that you linked to. I liked it. Then I began to read the comments. There was about a 50/50 mix between pro/anti-AGW stances. Not too shabby, nowadays anyway. Some of the highlighted comments were very good, but I stopped reading when I discovered this absolute clanger in a highlighted comment:

    Look, the volcanoes continue to spew CO2 at 100 times the rate we do, and have done so for the last billion years.

    Supposedly, the highlighted comments are indicative of, according to a “what’s this?” hover:

    A selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views.

    So, now completely blatant untruths are “interesting” and/or “thoughtful”. Oh, I get it. Gotta have balance. Pfft.

  27. 77
    RickA says:

    #65 – SecularAnimist.

    What about the fossil fuel (or Nuclear) power plants which are required to provide baseload power when it is dark or not windy?

    Maybe when we solve the problems of power storage, your statement will be true (that renewable energy gets less expensive over time).

    But as far as I know, when it is dark, households get their power from non-solar sources. When it is not windy, households get their power from non-wind sources.

    If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?

  28. 78
    SecularAnimist says:

    RickA:

    1. Multiple studies in both the USA and Europe have found that a diversified regional portfolio of renewable energy sources, managed through a smart grid, can provide 24×7 power that is at least as reliable as coal or nuclear — without storage.

    2. There are no major “problems of power storage” to be “solved”. We already have multiple methods of storing energy including chemical (batteries and hydrogen), kinetic (compressed air, pumped hydro, flywheels) and thermal (concentrating solar thermal with molten salt thermal storage). These technologies need to be scaled up, to be sure — but there are no fundamental, unsolved “problems” in the way of doing that.

    Meanwhile, utility-scale grid storage is an area that is attracting huge investment, and where the technology is rapidly advancing, so even better solutions are on the way.

  29. 79
    flxible says:

    Maybe when we solve the problems of power storage, your statement will be true (that renewable energy gets less expensive over time).

    Renewable generation equipment [solar and wind] can be cheaper than it currently is, that does not mean it will ever be as cheap as fossil fuels have been sans hidden costs. That is part of the problem with “selling” the idea of renewables, too many folks realize energy costs for the end user can only go up from the historic artifical levels regardless of source. The storage “problem” is one of system design – of the necessary infrastructure, particularly for distributed generation and lower level storage. The question has become the cost to humanity and the planet, we need to figure out how to answer it. If we don’t go 100% renewable, what happens when the oil runs out?

  30. 80
    David B. Benson says:

    Having now read through chopter 8 of Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s impressive book, “The Principles of Planetary Climate”, a question is raised: from where does Terra derive the nirtogen in the atmosphere? Nither Venus nor Mars seem to have much, if any. And more, from where does Terra derive such a high proportion of argon in the atmosphere?

    Puzzling and making the argument in Ward & Brownlee’s “Rare Earth” all the more compelling.

  31. 81
    J Bowers says:

    RickA — “But as far as I know, when it is dark, households get their power from non-solar sources. When it is not windy, households get their power from non-wind sources.”

    You forget one. Everything I use from the national grid is replaced by hydro.

  32. 82
    dhogaza says:

    David Benson:

    from where does Terra derive the nirtogen in the atmosphere?

    Volcanic activity …

    You may enjoy this.

  33. 83
    Radge Havers says:

    66. Steve Metzler

    I missed that. Can’t help wondering if Krugman has any say at all in what gets highlighted. It’s probably some editor with zero knowledge of the subject targeting an imagined reader also with zero knowledge of the subject.

    Then again, perhaps it should just read “interesting or thoughtful” if interesting can be said to mean clinically horrendous.

    Journalism. What can you do? If it’s not cranking out so-called balance, it’s playing toady to paying nutters. Nutters who get very angry and probably have guns.

    Krugman’s closing line:

    So on second thought, I was wrong when I said that the joke was on the G.O.P.; actually, the joke is on the human race.

    There you go.

  34. 84
    David B. Benson says:

    Partly answering my questions in #70,
    Present day composition of volcanoe effluents:

    * Water Vapor –> 60%
    * Carbon Dioxide –> 24%
    * Sulfur –> 13%
    * Nitrogen –> 5.7%
    * Argon –> 0.3%
    * Chlorine –> 0.1%

    from
    http://zebu.uoregon.edu/1996/ph123/l11.html

  35. 85
    Seb Tallents says:

    At eveyone who answered:

    Thanks for your comments!

  36. 86
    David B. Benson says:

    dhogaza @72 — Thanks.

    Turns out that Venus actually has more N2 than Terra by weight, which is another question for another day.

  37. 87
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re RickA – If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?

    1. So don’t go 100 % renewable right away. Going 40 % would be better than nothing. (Sometimes I get the impression that opponents of clean energy, efficiency, and GHG emission reductions insist on all-or-nothing, sloppy solutions. Frankly sometimes it sounds like ‘I can’t put my shoes on, because I would have to tie the laces if I did that!’)

    2. Some renewable energy sources in some places tend to somewhat compensate each other. Wind and solar, for example.

    3. Transmission. HVDC. Weather varies over space. Maybe ultimately intercontinental, interhemispheric transmission?

    4. CSP can be readily used with storage (I think this is being done now) to cover variations over a day. Also consider solar ponds, solar water and space heating, and solar heating for industrial processes. (Note that some solar heating can be combined with PV in hybrid systems.)

  38. 88
    Patrick 027 says:

    5. biofuels are stored/storable. Not the greatest renewable energy in general, though they could be better

  39. 89
    Patrick 027 says:

    if we moved away from corn ethanol

  40. 90
    Patrick 027 says:

    and towards – maybe algae, food and food

  41. 91
    Patrick 027 says:

    pr oc es sing scr ap s / wa ste
    (coffee grounds, peanut shells, olive pits – maybe banana peels, corn cobs, anything that’s gone bad or been recalled) and crop residues, and spoiled/damaged/contaminated crops (good for farmers!), used paper (napkins, paper muffin tin liners, paper coffee filters etc.), sewage (there’s paper in there too), … lawn grass clippings? There’s also CH4 from landfills. I think CH4 might also be used from some agricultural sources – which would reduce CO2eq emissions.

    6. Hydroelectric power is stored (dams, anyway – yes, not always ecologically friendly, but we’ve already got some so…) and can fill short-term gaps.

    7. Geothermal might fill seasonal gaps – not sure how that would affect the price or efficiency, but putting it out there. There is also potential for (adiabatic) CAES. Would hydroelectric power tend to be more available during cloudier periods in some places and seasons? Fuels might eventually be made from off-peak PV power.

    8. Remember that power consumption is neither constant nor completely rigid. Power consumption tends to reach a minimum at night, peaks in summer and winter (depending on latitude, other things). Solar in particular has some correlation with summer and daytime usage – particularly air-conditioning. Power consumption could evolve to different power supply patterns if pricing signals allow it (think market economy – balancing supply/demand curves for source, storage, use, transmission). Water desalination and pumping may be more in demand during droughts – would these also tend to be sunnier? Perhaps aluminum production could function as a storage mechanism. And CO2 sequestration and ocean pH buffering efforts might be done seasonally (though if these were energy-intensive they would tend to defeat the purpose).

  42. 92
    RickA says:

    J Bowers #71:

    Ah – you are right! I did forgot hydro.

  43. 93
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 69 flxible

    Renewable generation equipment [solar and wind] can be cheaper than it currently is, that does not mean it will ever be as cheap as fossil fuels have been sans hidden costs. That is part of the problem with “selling” the idea of renewables, too many folks realize energy costs for the end user can only go up from the historic artifical levels regardless of source.

    I agree that refering to solar and wind as free is not necessarily helpful, as one could say that coal in the ground is free and the costs only involve getting at it, getting it out, preparing it for burning, building and maintaining the power plant, scrubbing the pollutants that are presently required, ideally paying/ paying for mining accident victims, ash spill and contaminant victims, mercury, GHGs, property damage, etc, etc, etc. Although it is helpful to point out we’ll have plentiful solar resource for at least a few billion years (and in principle, the other ingredients can be recycled).

    But I disagree that the price can never come down to present values without GHG externality policies. Not that I expect it to become as cheap as coal, but there isn’t a hard fast rule that says it can’t. And depending on when this comment is read, the inclusion of petroleum in the total energy expenditure may make net savings from switching to clean energy and efficiency options more likely, particularly in the long term (consider a future steady state where PV power component sales only need keep up with replacement rates …

    (If it still takes a long time for PV systems to realize net economic benifit, or depending on how rapidly PV manufacturing can be scaled up, we might have ‘strategic PV reserves’ to handle certain kinds of disasters. Then again, how long does it take a fossil-fueled or nuclear power plant to pay-back or to be produced? And we can’t stockpile those so readily. Also, perhaps there will be a bifurcation in technology, with some types of PV being cheaply manufactured in cheaply manufactured factories, but require greater area and degrade more rapidly or fail more often – these could be employed in disaster situatuations giving time for the quality PV devices to be produced. By the way, what kind of disaster, nationally or worldwide, would actually cause a problem necessitating these solutions? I guess that depends on how many power plants are packed into small areas in wildfire country or tornado alley, etc. – but I haven’t done any calculations with that).

    Aside from that, consider that the production possibilities curve is not always convex (the efficient market might be trapped in a lower local maximum) and can evolve (technology, experience, habits, values) or depend on the timeframe that can be considered – that can be an argument for some types of government involvement).

  44. 94
    Susan Anderson says:

    re Krugman comments, whoever highlights seems to have taken “range of views” a bit too literally. However, if you look at “reader’s recommendations” you’ll see it’s quite a different picture.

    As someone who spends too much time over at DotEarth (cross referenced) you’ll see quite a different picture. There, the deniers have taken over. I found this relevant:

    http://imgur.com/QAcJm
    “Writers Needed to Post Right-wing Comments (National)” at Craigslist.

    This is what you are up against.

  45. 95
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 62 Dan Kirk-Davidoff – Thank you.

  46. 96
    Patrick 027 says:

    Not to clog up the blog with mere politeness, but also
    re 65 EFS_Junior – Thank you.

  47. 97
    flxible says:

    Patrick – solar is already economic, except the upfront cost makes it problematic for most individuals – amortized over decades, yes it is “cheap” and may become cheaper as prodction ramps up, but considering the finite nature of resources required for the infrastructure and endlessly escalating labor and profit costs, no alternative can in the future approach the apparent current cheapness of fossil fuels.

    I know a lot of folks, including myself, that would gladly have roofs covered with solar panels . . . if someone else would pay for them. Right now my electricity comes 100% from hydro and I only have to pay monthly for what I use, I didn’t have to pay to build the dam. ;)

  48. 98
    John E. Pearson says:

    Patrixk 027 said Geothermal might fill seasonal gaps

    Why seasonal gaps? WHy not baseload. As far as I know in the places where it is used it provides baseload.

  49. 99
    flxible says:

    Patrick – solar is already economic, except the upfront cost makes it problematic for most individuals. Amortized over decades, yes it is “cheap” and may become cheaper as production ramps up, but considering the finite nature of resources required for the infrastructure and endlessly escalating labor and profit costs, no alternative can in the future approach the current apparent cheapness of fossil fuels.

    I know a lot of folks, including myself, that would gladly have roofs covered with solar panels . . . if someone else would pay for them. Right now my electricity comes 100% from hydro and I only have to pay monthly for what I use, I didn’t have to pay to build the dam. ;)

  50. 100
    Fred Magyar says:

    But I disagree that the price can never come down to present values without GHG externality policies. Not that I expect it to become as cheap as coal, but there isn’t a hard fast rule that says it can’t. And depending on when this comment is read, the inclusion of petroleum in the total energy expenditure may make net savings from switching to clean energy and efficiency options more likely, particularly in the long term (consider a future steady state where PV power component sales only need keep up with replacement rates

    It’s really time to toss that most tired of canards that renewables are too expensive and unreliable. Even if they are more expensive than coal and oil for now, assuming we don’t include the externalities and costs to our environment. As for the ‘WE ALL NEED POWER 24/7′ or we can’t survive, that is pure BS! It’s time to reexamine our current paradigm and redefine what our needs really are. In my view at least, clean air, clean water and a stable and non toxic environment are quite high on that list.

    May I suggest an hour with one of my favorite entrepreneurs: Bill Gross, from Idea Labs. He recently gave this talk at the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Lecture Series.

    http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2659

    We need a few thousand more people like him and a lot fewer Dr. Armstrongs, Koch Brothers, and the cowards and mental midgets that currently inhabit the halls of The US Congress.


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