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Unforced Variations: June 2011

Filed under: — group @ 1 June 2011

A new open thread…


487 Responses to “Unforced Variations: June 2011”

  1. 301
    Nick Gotts says:

    “Even if the technical stuff pans out (a big question), success would imply a regional political arrangement comparable in size, duration, and complexity to the one currently supporting oil from the Middle East. The old arrangement on the way down would be a formidable competitor to the new one on the way up.” – Ric Merritt

    I think this overlooks the fact that oil is an immensely valuable chemical feedstock: burning the limited amounts that exist would be extremely wasteful even if there were no problem with GHG emissions. Moreover there are Saharan and Arabian countries with little or no oil, and most if not all are running short of fresh water. There is at least the possibility of a long-term trade of fresh water from northern Europe – probably embodied in the form of food and other goods – for renewable power from the Arab world: an economically integrated “Eurabia” quite different from the paranoid fantasies of the likes of Mark Steyn. Particularly if democracy does take root in the Arab world, as seems at least possible, we in Europe should be looking into this.

    This is also relevant to SecularAnimist’s opposition to a “radically interdependent” world. Certainly, such a world has its drawbacks, notably the energy cost of moving stuff around he mentions. But it also has big advantages. First, it is simply a fact that particular resources are more readily available in some places than others. For example, while solar power can certainly be harvested anywhere, it can be done most efficiently where the sun shines most strongly and reliably. Conversely, the climate change that is already inevitable is likely to increase the regional differences in usable precipitation. Second, radical interdependence discourages large-scale war and encourages compromise: if China and the USA, or Europe and the Arab world, each depend on the other to function, war between them becomes less likely.

  2. 302
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: # 42; Fractional increase f of absolute temperature.

    I don’t think you were so wide of the mark the first time. f is not meaningless because , when multiplied by 4, it determines the approximate fractional increase of the earthshine, or infra-red, emitted by the ground and oceans.* But this important effect which tends to restore the climate to energy balance at a higher temperature ,is not of course the first effect which worries people about global warming.

    How about mentioning the fractional increase of water vapour instead? Your example of 1 deg.C warming corresponds very roughly to an average 6% rise in water vapour. When you allow for deviations from the average this is bound to have impacts.
    ————–
    * Expanding the Stefan Boltzmann T^4 using the binomial theorem gives T(0)^4 [ 1+4f] where T(0) is the starting value of the mean absolute temperature.

  3. 303
    DST says:

    I bought myself a cheap $30 IR thermometer recently and was hoping somebody here could offer a possible explanation for some of the measurements I am getting. Over the last two nights I have gone outside just before sunset and measured the ground temperature at between 2C and 5C. At the same time I pointed the thermometer towards the clear sky and received readings between -23C and -27C. It was a few degrees warmer when pointing towards clouds.

    About 3 hours after sunset I took the same readings again. This time the sky was clear but fog was starting to settle in. The ground temperature was a couple of degrees cooler as expected but the measurements pointing up into the fog were about 10C warmer. I am guessing the reason for the increase in temperature is from the latent heat released by the formation of the fog or the reflected radiant heat from the surface or perhaps a combination of both. If anybody can cure my curiosity it would be very much appreciated.

  4. 304
    Martin Vermeer says:

    DST, congratulations! I have been thinking about getting such a gadget. Some quick remarks:

    If you aim it upward to the clear sky, what you are getting is the effective temperature of the atmospheric back radiation, the very phenomenon that mediates the greenhouse effect.

    Look at this web site:

    http://geoflop.uchicago.edu/forecast/docs/Projects/modtran.orig.html

    Set sensor altitude to 0, looking upward. You see that below 800 cm^-1, the radiation is coming from air at the same temperature as you, around 300K. Here, the atmosphere is opaque (CO2 and H2O, I would think; from 600 to 800 is the major CO2 absorption band), so you’re looking at air right above you. Above 800 cm^-1, the air is much more transparent, but you’re getting back something (from H2O) from where the air is colder, 250K or so, some 10 km up on average.

    I don’t know what window your instrument integrates, but if it is above 800 cm^-1, that would explain the readings you’re getting.

    About clouds, of course you’re getting higher temperatures: you’re looking at lower layers of the atmosphere where it is warmer. About the fog being warmer than the ground: after sunset the ground cools rapidly (until fog sets in) by radiative cooling (the cause of night frost). The air does not have that mechanism, being transparent (Kirchhoff-Bunsen), and hangs on longer to its daytime temp. The fog’s latent heat will help a bit too.

    An experiment you could try: at a clear sky, observe the temperature to the zenith, to low above the horizon, and to in between. You should get higher temperatures closer to the horizon. Also there you’re looking at lower, warmer layers. The phenomenon is somewhat the same as Solar limb darkening…

  5. 305
    Lee says:

    NASA has a web page about using an IR thermometer to look at the sky and clouds. It’s at
    http://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/P18.html

  6. 306
    SecularAnimist says:

    Earlier I wrote to Ric Merritt: “There are quite a lot of sites now that cover developments in the wind and solar industries — the trade associations, various manufacturers and vendors, business-oriented sites, science-and-technology oriented sites, etc.”

    If I may I’d like to recommend one such site.

    Over at Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog (which is invaluable for its coverage of climate issues), a fellow named Stephen Lacey has just started contributing blog posts about energy issues. Lacey is a journalist who was previously with RenewableEnergyWorld.com and he knows the territory. You can find a list of his articles here:

    http://thinkprogress.org/author/stephen/

    He has an article today entitled “Top 5 Coolest Ways Companies are Integrating Renewable Energy into the Grid” which discusses:

    1. Intelligent Demand Response
    2. Microinverters and Maximum Power Point Trackers
    3. Wind Energy Management Tools
    4. The Virtual Power Plant
    5. The Hybrid Solar-Gas Power Plant

    Ask yourself if your views on the potential for a mostly, if not completely, renewable-powered grid is informed by awareness of what is happening right now in those five areas. If not, I commend the article to your attention.

    Other recent articles by Lacey have discussed jobs in the solar industry (which in the USA now employs more people than steel production); rapidly declining costs and resulting increasing competitiveness of photovoltaics; and utility-scale flywheel energy storage.

  7. 307
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re my 297 Re 280 Michele – part II
    CORRECTION
    shifting the surface upward within the troposphere would cause **warming**, not cooling if the lost air was not completely opaque to LW radiation, and at least if no completely opaque layers remain above, at least within the troposphere. Assuming surface is a blackbody in LW, which is typically an okay approximation.

    (reduces net upward LW flux at that level (which increases net LW cooling above and that would also increase convection), but ultimately warming is required to restore the net upward LW flux to space and maybe at the tropopause as well)

    More later…

  8. 308
    ccpo says:

    This is also relevant to SecularAnimist’s opposition to a “radically interdependent” world. Certainly, such a world has its drawbacks, notably the energy cost of moving stuff around he mentions. But it also has big advantages. First, it is simply a fact that particular resources are more readily available in some places than others… Second, radical interdependence discourages large-scale war and encourages compromise…
    Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 Jun 2011 @ 4:51 AM

    There is an even simpler way to look at this. Sustainable must equal global, or it is not sustainable by definition. The world was already radically interdependent 600 years ago. We may slow things down again, but we won’t end that interdependence, and if we try to, we will fail to achieve sustainability. It’s a global closed system. individual regions will, at some point or other, be impacted by other regions.

    It is either sustainability, or accepting that we and the yeast are largely equal in intelligence.

  9. 309
    ccpo says:

    As I said, 450 ppm is a common focus of discussion.

    So are Paris Hilton, the Kardashian disasters, and the sun and clouds proving global warming is B.S. They are still all irrelevant. So is 450.

    My interest here is to remove inaccurate support for the idea that it is too difficult to achieve. Thus, I feel quite OK about discussing it.

    OK, but it and your efforts are irrelevant. It all comes back to the risk analysis. if we have no choice but to return to 350 or less, anything else is moot. The question is not what is politically possible, it is how to make 350 or less politically possible.

    I think you should be a little careful when looking at the Greenland Ice Sheet. Overshoot may be acceptable in that case if it is sufficiently brief.

    I have said nothing that contradicts this. We are already in overshoot with it, imo, so playing with it at 450 is really unwise.

    In Hansen et al.’s paper on targets they accept some overshoot for the 350 ppm target, wanting keep it under 100 years. They also suggest fine tuning based, primarily, on ice sheet behavior. You need to work out… Probably 350.org is in a more practical position.

    I don’t need to “work out” anything because the limits are not of my choosing; they are what they are. They are not negotiable, though the final error bar on ppm is in need of investigation and is debatable. Anything over 350 is demonstrably not an option, thus moot. A lot of how and what does need to be worked out, but we know all we need to know to set a maximum target of 350.

    One final thought. A 350 ppm target with less than 100 years of overshoot can be accomplished without any assistance from transformed agriculture by the use of military force.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Jun 2011 @ 12:08 AM

    This is [insert adjective], both in the base concept and the naivete. If you are not solving the issues of resource depletion, climate, energy, population and socio-political organization with an eye toward a sustainable society, you are achieving nothing. In that case, worse than nothing, you are ensuring failure for it does not affect willing reboot of values and beliefs. Forced change will not result in long-term alterations. As soon as the military releases its hold or is overthrown, the problem returns.

  10. 310
    Septic Matthew says:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2011/05/29/ge-solar-power-cheaper-than-fossil-fuels-in-5-years/

    Possibly you saw this press release from GE, with the accompanying graph of cost of solar power vs installed capacity. I regret the comparison of California to Italy and Turkey, but the message is that the costs of solar power are falling dramatically, and will probably continue to do so based on current technologies (e.g. concentrated photovoltaic) that are not yet in high volume production. Also at CleanTechnica you can read that roof-mounted solar systems enhance the resale value of homes in California, evidence of popular demand, the sort of thing that free market supporters like.

    Note, I do not regret that the comparison of CA to Italy and Turkey was made, but that it is true: CA has high electricity prices in consequence of continuous underinvestment in electrical generating capacity over decades. However, now that we are in this fix, solar power is a competitive solution for meeting peak demand.

  11. 311
    Chris Dudley says:

    Uli #300,

    Thanks for checking the calculation. I agree that a sharp cut would be an economically poor way to proceed but it does address the mathematical question with less ambiguity which is how much on going emissions are required and for how long for stabilization to occur. And that is all I was attempting to demonstrate: substantial ongoing emissions for an extended period of time. Substantial means similar to historical industrial emissions and an extended period means longer than an innovation-to-implementation timescale. These are the policy relevant issues I think.

    In a world where China and the US start out with same emissions and everyone else cuts at 2% but the US cuts to compensate China’s 10% growth we have the US cutting 20% of current emissions every year for five years to compensate China’s growth. After 5 years, no more cuts can be made. Since the world would have to start 2% cuts in about 5 years to avoid overshoot at 450 ppm and China will be well out ahead of the US by then, it looks like some urgent diplomacy is needed. Too bad the Waxman-Markey Bill failed in the Senate. It had carbon tariffs which might have helped to speed diplomacy along.

  12. 312
    MartinJB says:

    SecularAnimist said:

    “I hope and expect that any civilization that manages to survive the effects of AGW that are sure to occur this century, will be based on local (bioregional) self-reliance, where human communities will learn how to live within the carrying capacity of the ecosystems of which they are a part.”

    This is unreasonable and undesirable on many levels.

    For starters, current population distributions depend on this interdependence. Populations have grown up around centers of trade in addition to centers of agriculture. They are also not necessarily conveniently located for energy production. Where large populations rely on imports for food, water or energy, losing interdependence means death or migration. Let’s assume most people won’t go for the death option. Migration is no solution. No-one seems to like immigrants.

    What’s more, radical interdependence allows us to survive local perturbations better. Losing it will relegate even more communities in volatile climates to periodic and potentially debilitating shortages.

    I would also add quality of life to the benefits of interdependence. Life is just better with the products of the world available globally.

    With improved efficiency and a more sustainable energy supply, I see no reason why we should not keep the benefits of a globally interdependent world. The costs of losing it are too great.

  13. 313
    Septic Matthew says:

    Another comment on PV prices.

    Home Depot will sell you a system that costs $7348 and produces 1800 watts max output. Here is a link to part of the system:

    http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-Alternative-Energy-Solutions-Solar-Power/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbm18/R-202548447/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

    For this calculation I have omitted the installation costs, in case you have the ability to install it yourself (don’t forget to get the permit), omitted the backup battery, and included the connection to the grid. If you get at least 80% peak power, for at least 250 days per year, for at least 8 hours per day (see the graphs at the Joe Romm link provided by Secular Animist) then you get 86,000 kwh at a cost of $0.11 per kwh. I have omitted the cost of the capital (unless your savings have an unusual interest rate, that cost may be negligible); but don’t forget that the cost of electricity off the grid will go up with inflation (almost for sure.) I never use 1800 watts, so the system is not worth its cost to me, but If I ran a restaurant or certain other small businesses, I would probably find the system to be worthwhile.

    Lowe’s also provides a system, but they lease it to you instead of selling it. I asked for a quote for my property, but Google Earth revealed to them that I have good shade trees, so they declined to provide a quote. They said that I should trim the trees. If you have sunny days and don’t have shade trees, you might get a quote from them.

  14. 314
    Chris Dudley says:

    ccpo #309,

    If you did not mean 400 ppm then perhaps you should not have written it. Glad you accept 350 ppm.

    I would say that the military solution to slavery was not impermanent as you would imply and it was at the same economic scale as fossil fuel use. I’ll admit that we do maintain bases in Italy, Germany and Japan but I don’t think that is the reason fascism remains weak. Wars can change things in a big way. Failing to deal with climate will lead to rather a lot of fruitless war though I think. It is good that there are some sequestration options which may give diplomats a little more room to maneuver. Uncoerced cooperation probably yields better outcomes if it can be accomplished.

  15. 315
    Septic Matthew says:

    291, Secular Animist: But a civilization that depends on moving huge amounts of material resources all over the place makes no sense, is not sustainable, and has no intrinsic value that I can see.

    I was going to make that point in slightly different language. It’s nice that fossil fuels represent concentrated energy sources, but they are concentrated in places that are far from where the energy is to be used, and with stuff like methane clathrates and other natural gas sources, concentrated in ways that are hard to get to. Hence, the prices will almost for sure continue to rise until alternatives are sufficiently plentiful and cheap to replace them.

    For example, there are many, many millions of people who lack any access to electricity at all. For those people, a few solar panels, a lithium-ion battery, some LED lights, a refrigerator and a satellite dish can bring “civilization” to an entire rural village that has never had electricity before and otherwise never would.

    I am glad that you mentioned them.

  16. 316
    SecularAnimist says:

    MartinJB wrote: “This is unreasonable and undesirable on many levels.”

    You know what is “unreasonable and undesirable”?

    Growing broccoli in expensively irrigated deserts in California, and shipping it in refrigerated diesel trucks 3000 miles to Pennsylvania … which has a far better climate for growing broccoli than does California.

    For most Americans today, most of the food they consume is shipped thousands of miles from wherever it is grown to the stores where they buy it.

    Are you happy to rely on a 3000-mile supply line for your basic staple foods? Not during some sort of “emergency” where local food production fails and you have no choice but to import food from a distant source — but as the normal day-to-day source of your food? Do you think that is “reasonable” and “desirable”?

  17. 317
    MartinJB says:

    SecularAnimist, the fact is that our current population distribution often does not line up in all cases with where we will be able to produce the needs for those people. You gonna move people or let them starve?

    No-one’s arguing that it’s GOOD to produce goods thousands of miles away from where it’s consumed. But often there’s little choice, and it CAN be better to specialize local production and trade for what one does not produce. And where we can make transportation sustainable, it’s far from the worst thing in the world.

    Producing broccoli in California versus Pennsylvania is a bit of a red herring and frankly argues for NOT being locally self-reliant. If it’s too arid in California to produce Broccoli, then don’t. Produce it in Pennsylvania and ship it to Cali.

    Again, there’s no turning back the clock on an interdependent world. Prices on carbon and ecosystem services are likely to rationalize the linkages, but those linkages are necessary and, I believe, desirable on the whole.

  18. 318
    Walter Pearce says:

    #317. MartinJB, could you define what makes transportation of agricultural products from Pennsylvania to California sustainable? Especially in a situation where rainfall trends augur rather poorly for large populations in the southwest…

  19. 319
    MartinJB says:

    Hi Walter Pearce,

    for starters, I was merely counterpointing SA’s point that it makes little sense to grow broccoli in CA to ship to PA. Perhaps it makes more sense to do the opposite? It’s certainly not an argument for not having, how was it put, a “radically interdependent” world.

    Would it be better to grow the broccoli (broccoli, as a metaphor for globalization!) where it is being consumed? Of course! But what if you live in the southwest, where those same rainfall trends make growing broccoli an inefficient use of limited water supply? You grow your broccoli where the balance of impact and transportation costs is optimal. Might be in PA, might be somewhere else. Don’t know. Doesn’t matter for the argument.

    The point is, people aren’t distributed for maximizing efficient and rational resource utilization. Over the long haul, I suspect people will redistribute themselves to some extent, assuming the constraints imposed by the factors we’re all familiar with are widely recognized. But that’s not going to happen quickly. And to the extent that we are able to make transportation more efficient and sustainable, it becomes less necessary.

  20. 320
    JiminMpls says:

    China’s per capita ghg emissions are 1/4 of the USA’s and right about where the global standard should be. HIstorically, the USA is responsible for ~30% of global warming and China less than 5%. Why should China reduce emissions????

    You break it, you pay for it. It’s that simple. If the USA won’t voluntarily reduce ghg emissions by 80%, the rest of the world should enact a total embargo on trade with the USA until we are in compliance.

  21. 321
    Sou says:

    This paper has just been published in JGR (J. M. Siddaway and S. V. Petelina) – about bushfire smoke particles reaching the stratosphere. I’d be interested in any comments on the possible impacts on climate, since we’re likely to be getting a lot more events like the 2009 Victorian bushfire. There is also a media report on the ABC website. (I cannot get to the full article, only the abstract.)

    There was an earlier paper on 2006 bushfire smoke in atmosphere, but no mention of the smoke reaching the stratosphere.

    The 2006 fires were slow and long-lasting (around 12 weeks as I recall) and burnt a vast area – during the drought. The 2009 fires were very fast, fanned by record high temperatures and very high winds and tinder dry everything because the same drought from early 2000s had not yet broken.

  22. 322
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #289, does this lower sunspot activity mean warmer or cooler temps for Earth? Should their be a post on this by our scientists here?

  23. 323

    As an example of distributed power generation making a difference in the developing world, here’s a story I came across this morning:

    http://www.care2.com/causes/global-warming/blog/solar-powers-one-million-homes-in-bangladesh/

    Notable is the fact that the initial target was met 18 months ahead of schedule. (As SA has pointed out before, that’s been one encouraging facet of renewables in recent years–growth has generally been much more rapid than projected, expected or even thought possible.) And the result was adoption of a new, more aggressive target.

    Yeah, I know–even 2.5 million homes would be a small percentage in Bangladesh. But deployments like this are, shall we say, definitely in the realm of the non-trivial.

  24. 324

    A little more context in this April piece from CNN:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/BUSINESS/04/11/bangladesh.solar.power.kalihati/index.html

    Noteworthy: details about how local productivity and wealth have been drastically augmented–not to mention the opportunities for women to work as technicians. (Yeah, I know, that’s “anecdotal evidence.” But this is news, not science.)

  25. 325
    Nick Gotts says:

    I’d agree with what ccpo and MartinJB have said about the inevitability of interdependence, and ccpo’s point that it has been a fact for a long time (as it happens, I’ve just finished Janet Abu-Lughod’s “Before European Hegemony: the World System 1250-1350″, which describes the trade networks linking much of the world – although admittedly not the Americas or Australasia – at that time). This does not commit me, or them, to approving of every example of moving stuff from point A to point B: the externalities of transport, including but not only in terms of burning fossil fuels, should be taken into account in a way “actually existing capitalism”* clearly does not do.
    * I’m not, here, taking a position on whether this is possible within what we would recognise as a capitalist system.

  26. 326
    Chris Dudley says:

    JiminMlps #320,

    I agree. China in particular should refuse to sell us any products until we show progress in cutting emissions.

  27. 327
    rbateman says:

    The complications and unknowns of climate, no matter which way it is or is not headed, are so bad that Murphy’s Law will come home to roost on any effort/preparation to deal with what climate will change to.
    Climate will change and man will utterly blow it, even if he guesses correctly.
    By what reason do I say we will get it wrong?
    Because climate changes too quickly compared to the time it takes to get out in front of it.
    So, there you have it.
    Murphy’s Law will get the better of us.

  28. 328
    SecularAnimist says:

    JiminMpls wrote: “Why should China reduce emissions?”

    Because the laws of physics don’t care about justice.

    You are correct that the USA bears overwhelming responsibility for cumulative emissions.

    So what?

    I think it’s no more helpful for China’s fossil fuel interests to point a finger at the USA’s historical contribution to AGW as an excuse to keep building more coal-fired power plants, than it is for politicians in the USA to point a finger at China’s still-growing emissions as an excuse to keep burning coal here.

    The fact is that China is both moving more aggressively and creatively than the USA to improve efficiency and to develop renewable energy, and is rapidly increasing its emissions, particularly from coal.

    My concern is focused on the USA for the simple reason that I live in the USA and can (at least in theory) do something about what is going on here, whereas there isn’t much I can do about China’s energy policy.

  29. 329
    Michele says:

    @ 287 Patrick

    Of course, the reducing the surface pressure at 1 bar imbalances the fluxes of heat. Well. We take all the time needed until the surface temperature will stabilize.

    I point out that my primary aim was about the possibility that the CO3 couldn’t have the claimed effect, given that we have analogous temperature within similar ranges of pressure on Earth and Venus.

    I have deeper argued the matter in my comment to the SkS piece of Chris Colose (#295).

  30. 330
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    What’s up, or down, with UAH?
    For channel 4 I get the message “Channel 4 failed in 2008.”

  31. 331
    Ric Merritt says:

    SecularAnimist (#291,292) thinks I’m just not imagining the future well enough. Always a possibility, but the same might be said for any of us. SA refers briefly to the increasing ease and decreasing cost of renewable power. The point I’m trying to get across is that we don’t know very well how that will play out as FF’s decrease. I’m not trying to high-handedly decree anyone else’s optimism quota, but I insist that a discussion of any depth have some respect for the profound ways FF decrease will feed back through every nook and cranny of our economy and way of life.

    (Aside: the need to combat climate denialism tends to encourage boosterism in favor of renewables. I love renewables! They’re all we will have left when the other stuff is unrenewed! I just haven’t been convinced that will leave us with an expanding economy, as usually measured, much less expanding per capita as most of us would like.)

    The bottom line is: the only way to really show we can create renewable infrastructure while, and after, FF’s go away is to do it. There’s no convincing lineup of models that do a good job of capturing the feedbacks. No paleo studies of the last 100M years of advanced civilizations as they rose and fell using various energy resources. Just the one, all on FF.

    The pace of transition to renewables is completely crucial. Too slow, and shocks from oil etc will put us into a tailspin, with immense pressure on all investment, including renewable infrastructure. This will cause both cooperation and conflict, but I wouldn’t assume the mixture of those will be radically different from the last few thousand years.

    To a specific point in SA’s #291: getting out more energy than you put in is too low a bar. The minimum for maintaining our accustomed lifestyle might be EROEI of 5, or 10, opinions vary. Anyway, EROEI is dashed hard to measure. The really right way to do it is to put a price on FF consumption, subsidize promising renewables long enough to see if they help (but not longer!), and see what results. I’m not holding my breath.

    On The Oil Drum, I mostly ignore the minutiae about ups and downs, Libya and UAE, etc. The links I value go deeper and apply to many resources besides oil.

    Thanks for the references in #306. I do follow Joe Romm, and there’s a huge amount of information there, plus plenty of politics and boosterism.

    Barring any truly new topics or angles, I’m not planning on writing much more in the near future, trying to avoid diminishing returns on our time.

  32. 332
    AIC says:

    Human Activities Emit Way More Carbon Dioxide Than Do Volcanoes

    AGU Release No. 11–22
    14 June 2011

    http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2011/2011-22.shtml

  33. 333
    Septic Matthew says:

    Fun with numbers. It’s hard to know which current trends to extrapolate and for how long, but based on recent trends the world will be able to manufacture 200,000 MW of solar power power production per year, and the installed cost of the electricity will be about $0.04/kwh.

    Most numbers are not “hard”, but reasonable estimates are provided by posts at the links provided by SecularAnimist.

    My expectation is that both will happen within 5 – 10 years from now. The whole discussion about what’s possible and economically feasible will be different.

  34. 334
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 329 Michele – Re I point out that my primary aim was about the possibility that the CO3 couldn’t have the claimed effect, given that we have analogous temperature within similar ranges of pressure on Earth and Venus.

    1. The physics doesn’t allow that possibility

    2. I’d guess Earth’s surface would get warmer if you just started adding more N2, provided that there is some CO2, etc., but a 90 (or whatever it would be) bar CO2 atmosphere should sustain greater warmth than a 90 bar N2 atmosphere with trace amounts of CO2.

    3. Depending on the spectrum of CO2, pressure broadenning, clouds and other gases, if you find the level on Venus that has T = 288 K, and you raise the surface of Venus up to that level (removing the air below that point), then, barring any changes in albedo (and in particular assuming any solar heating that had occured beneath the tropopause still does), the surface would cool but it would not cool down to 288 K; it would tend to be warmer by some amount.

  35. 335
    Septic Matthew says:

    [edit - OT]

  36. 336
    Septic Matthew says:

    335, Yeh, sorry. It was kind of comic relief.

  37. 337
    ccpo says:

    1. Intelligent Demand Response
    2. Microinverters and Maximum Power Point Trackers
    3. Wind Energy Management Tools
    4. The Virtual Power Plant
    5. The Hybrid Solar-Gas Power Plant

    Ask yourself if your views on the potential for a mostly, if not completely, renewable-powered grid is informed by awareness of what is happening right now in those five areas. If not, I commend the article to your attention.

    Other recent articles by Lacey have discussed jobs in the solar industry (which in the USA now employs more people than steel production); rapidly declining costs and resulting increasing competitiveness of photovoltaics; and utility-scale flywheel energy storage.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Jun 2011 @ 10:15 AM

    When discussing The Perfect Storm, doing so in isolation re any one aspect is a waste of time. That is not to say energy people should not brainstorm and develop energy ideas, but if the end result is not also filtered through all other aspects of the perfect Storm, they are ultimately wasting their time. Gas, e.g., is a finite resource. under what conditions is it useful? Never as a solution, potentially as a bridge, but not even then if it is not within the boundaries outlined by the need to get back down to 350 ppm or lower.

    Intelligent Demand Response? Where can that be deployed successfully? OECD nations? A few large cities?

    Our conversations need to change in fundamental ways.

  38. 338
    ccpo says:

    SecularAnimist said:

    “I hope and expect that any civilization that manages to survive the effects of AGW that are sure to occur this century, will be based on local (bioregional) self-reliance, where human communities will learn how to live within the carrying capacity of the ecosystems of which they are a part.”

    This is unreasonable and undesirable on many levels.

    For starters, current population distributions depend on this interdependence.

    The error is yours: self-reliance does not mean self-sustaining. You are assuming self-reliance means cut off, no trade, etc. This is an incorrect assumption. Self-reliant simply means that the focus is local before bioregional, bioregional before national or continental, etc.

    Self-reliance is not only a good outcome, it is a necessary outcome to ensure adequate food and energy supplies. Trade will need to be limited to those things that are necessary vs. things that are mere desires. At least for a time. Energy usage must fall during the reboot.

    Populations have grown up around centers of trade in addition to centers of agriculture.

    And they need to become self-reliant in food production. There is virtually no area of the planet that cannot grow food. Some population shifts will likely be necessary, however. Deserts will never support as many as a temperate area can,e.g.

    They are also not necessarily conveniently located for energy production.

    There is no reason why they need to be. There are myriad ways to produce energy, but the first step is to greatly reduce consumption where it is high. Where it is already low, try to keep it that way within reason.

    Where large populations rely on imports for food, water or energy, losing interdependence means death or migration.

    It need not. See above.

    I would also add quality of life to the benefits of interdependence. Life is just better with the products of the world available globally.

    Utterly false. But perhaps you mean physical comfort rather than quality of life, which is a much broader concept? I suggest you read this full series of essays: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200907/play-makes-us-human-v-why-hunter-gatherers-work-is-play

    With improved efficiency and a more sustainable energy supply, I see no reason why we should not keep the benefits of a globally interdependent world.

    Then you do not understand population, diminishing returns, and non-linear systems, perhaps. Are you assuming the current situation is stable and can be maintained?

    The costs of losing it are too great.

    Comment by MartinJB — 15 Jun 2011 @ 1:04 PM

    I would argue the opposite, or modify to “…to you.”

  39. 339
    ccpo says:

    ccpo #309,

    If you did not mean 400 ppm then perhaps you should not have written it.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Jun 2011 @ 1:24 PM

    This is a non sequitur. I think you need to re-read what I wrote, because it don’ men wha’ you thing it mens.

    I find your call for military forcing of behavior skni-crawlingly creepy. Not interested.

  40. 340
    ccpo says:

    I’d agree with what ccpo and MartinJB have said about the inevitability of interdependence, and ccpo’s point that it has been a fact for a long time (as it happens, I’ve just finished Janet Abu-Lughod’s “Before European Hegemony: the World System 1250-1350″, which describes the trade networks linking much of the world – although admittedly not the Americas or Australasia – at that time). This does not commit me, or them, to approving of every example of moving stuff from point A to point B: the externalities of transport, including but not only in terms of burning fossil fuels, should be taken into account in a way “actually existing capitalism”* clearly does not do.
    * I’m not, here, taking a position on whether this is possible within what we would recognise as a capitalist system.

    Comment by Nick Gotts — 16 Jun 2011 @ 7:29 AM

    Nick, my post was meant to clarify that while we need to radically localize, we will never, and should never completely localize. The internet, e.g., can allow regional/national and international cooperation and coordination of policies such that, for example, bioregions that cross borders can be managed sustainably. Also, some goods, and even some services, can, should and will be shipped around, but this will need to be greatly reduced to fit within a sustainable global response.

  41. 341
    DST says:

    #304 Thanks for the reply Martin, I had played with that Modtran simulator a few years back but it never occurred to me to use it here. Your comment about the operating window of the detector led me down the path of detector design. It wasn’t long before I realised I would have difficulty trying to deduce much from my measurements without knowing the spectral response of the detector. It was still a very worthwhile exercise, all I need to do now is get my hands on a better detector.

  42. 342
    Chris Dudley says:

    SecularAnimist #328,

    Both boycotting Chinese products and urging legislation on carbon tariffs could help to influence Chinese energy policy.

  43. 343
    Nick Gotts says:

    ccpo@340,

    1) I’m not convinced that the concept of “bioregions” is a useful one. Regionalizations based on different criteria are relevant for different purposes. For example, catchments are relevant to water supply and quality, flooding, and the spread of species that can travel by water; altitude to natural land cover and to both agriculture and human settlement. These frequently, indeed usually, cut across each other. Latitude, distance from the open ocean or other large bodies of water, temperature, precipitation, presence or absence of particular species… all these can cut across each other in complex ways. Can you give me a defensible definition of the concept, and show that it is important from the point of view of conserving resources?
    2) I’m not convinced that we do need to “radically localize”. We need to localize where that will actually conserve scarce resources while minimising damage to the quality of life, but it can’t simply be assumed that it will generally do so. There are now, and will be for the forseeable future, large areas that cannot feed themselves (actually, this includes all large cities). “Radical localization” means, for those areas, that large numbers of people have to move, or starve.

  44. 344
    SecularAnimist says:

    Another good site for following developments in renewable energy, smart grid, energy storage and efficiency technologies is the “Green Tech News” blog at CNet.com:

    http://news.cnet.com/greentech/

    Here’s an important story that was posted there this week, which is relevant to my earlier comments on the potential of solar energy:

    IEEE: Solar could challenge fossil fuel in 10 years
    By Candace Lombardi
    June 15, 2011

    Excerpt:

    Solar photovoltaics have the potential to be the most cost-effective electricity source and could even challenge fossil fuels within 10 years.

    That’s according to an announcement made by leaders of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) today as part of the organization’s launch of photovoltaic research initiatives.

    “Solar PV will be a game changer. No other alternative source has the same potential. As the cost of electricity from solar continues to decrease compared to traditional energy sources, we will see tremendous market adoption, and I suspect it will be a growth limited only by supply,” James Prendergast, IEEE Executive Director and IEEE Senior Member, said in a statement.

    “Solar energy is the earth’s most abundant energy resource. The rate of energy from sunlight hitting the earth is of the order of 100 petawatts. Just a fraction is needed to meet the power needs of the entire globe, as it takes approximately 15 terawatts to power the earth (1 petawatt = 1,000 terawatts),” according to the IEEE.

    The article notes that the IEEE has started a new peer-reviewed journal for photovoltaic research, the Journal of Photovoltaics, and is hosting a photovoltaics conference in Seattle next week, which will “feature over 1,000 photovoltaic research, development, and manufacturing organizations.”

    Given the furious pace of new developments in solar PV technology, there should be some interesting news coming out of that conference.

  45. 345
    MartinJB says:

    CCPO, if we had a carbon-neutral, pollution-free method for transport, would you still be calling for us to “radically localize”? If so, why? I’m just trying to get the baseline on your position.

  46. 346
    Geoff Wexler says:

    RE: IR thermometers #305 (also #303,304 )

    The account given in NASA’s web page disregards the contribution of CO2 to the temperature readings. How good is this approximation?

    It seems a bit odd to fail to mention CO2 altogether in a topic devoted to teaching the physics of the greenhouse effect. A better account would also have referred to the spectrum shown in Fig 1(b) here:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/does-greenhouse-effect-exist-intermediate.htm

  47. 347
    Michele says:

    @ 334 Patrick
    Sorry, I perfectly feel and think the opposite, but each claim has to be proven. Isn’t it?

  48. 348

    Arctic sea ice melting rapidly this spring: now at lowest level ever recorded for this date (this season = red line): http://t.co/ASOe6FJ

  49. 349
    JCH says:

    Kees van der Leun – that’s how solar minimums work: backbuttwards.

  50. 350
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 347 Michele – I think when a theory is substantiated beyond some point it becomes acceptable to apply it, with some level of confidence, with the assumption that it is true, at least within some bounds.

    Anyway, the understanding of how radiation works (and the thermodynamics and mechanics of convection, etc, and other things) from physics experiments has been applied to understanding climate. Of course, observations of the surface and atmosphere have been made and I’ve never heard of anything failing to match up with radiative physics as it is understood; for example you can find spectra of radiation to space and they fit the predictions from our understanding of radiation.


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