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Unforced variations: Sep 2012

Filed under: — group @ 5 September 2012

Open thread – a little late because of the holiday. But everyone can get back to work now!


591 Responses to “Unforced variations: Sep 2012”

  1. 251
    Patrick 027 says:

    …”I increased engine efficiency by 20 %, which seems quite reasonable considering the statement that some engines (diesels) are 30 to 35 % more efficient)“… I multiplied the given efficiency by 1.2 (I didn’t add 20 % to 37.6 %); I assume the statement about diesels was meant in the same way.

  2. 252
    Patrick 027 says:

    … of course, presumably at higher speed, at least some accessories (AC/vent, radio) would be a smaller fraction of the energy put into motion. Not sure about power steering.

  3. 253
    dhogaza says:

    Patrick 027:

    (PS I don’t know how realistic these numbers are. I increased engine efficiency by 20 %, which seems quite reasonable considering the statement that some engines (diesels) are 30 to 35 % more efficient)

    Hybrid drivetrains such as that used by Toyota increase efficiency in a couple of different ways that might not be obvious:

    1. Allows the use of atkinson cycle engines, which are more efficient but offer low torque (the electric motor makes up for the latter).

    2. Intelligent management of the electric engine allows the management system to much more frequently keep the engine’s RPMs in the engine’s most efficient range, for instance when climbing a moderate hill at highway speed.

    3. Diesels such as the TDI are more efficient in terms of mpgs than an equivalent gasoline engine. But remember that this is partially because diesel fuel is denser (contains more hydrocarbons per unit) than gasoline, and that burning a gallon of diesel therefore releases more carbon than burning a gallon of gasoline (on the order of 20%).

    But if there were no idling or braking in the first place

    Turning off the engine is one reason why hybrids do so well in city driving. The hybrid can start moving with the electric engine while the engine’s being restarted therefore keeping the car reasonably response when lights turn to green, etc.

  4. 254
    dhogaza says:

    superman1

    . A three-pack a day smoker goes for his annual physical checkup. The Dr. tells him he has Stage 4 lung cancer. The smoker goes home, and argues with his wife whether he should cut back to two packs a day or 2 1/2 packs.

    That’s where we are today.

    Well, I guess we can all give up and die then, if only impossible-to-achieve solutions are on the table.

  5. 255
    Patrick 027 says:

    … replacing the improved driveline and regenerative breaking efficiencies with 64 %, but reducing improved idling losses to zero, and with no change in engine efficiency (kept at 37.6 %), the improved car is now 22.7 % efficient, 2.52 times the original (with braking and idling); for idealized highway driving, it is actually a bit less efficient than the original, because of a reduction in driveline efficiency from the original 69.2 %.

    These numbers make sense given the footnotes here http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml#end-notes , but I thought motor and generator efficiencies could be significantly better than that.

  6. 256
    David B. Benson says:

    Superman1 @244 — Having thoroughly studied Ray Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate” I don’t think that is correct. Terra’s climate response is immediate. It is true that a simple linear system approximation contains a lag of sorts right at the beginning of a ramp in the input, but that sort of ramp was over by decades ago. It is true that once a ramp becomes constant again a linear system will contiue to climb in its reponse for awhile. So this simplified analysis suggests a perceived delay in response simply because the chnage of response is too small to be noticeable for some time.

    I hope this is clarifying and at least not producing more confusion than it eliminates.

  7. 257
    Jim Larsen says:

    237 dhogaza said, “Nice goalpost move from “electric vs. gasoline powered car” to “electric vs. gasoline hybrid car” … also I didn’t see the bit on the calculator page that states that their “average car” is an SUV.”

    No goalpost movement at all. I assume you just had your eyes closed and ran smack into it. I said the Leaf and Prius were the basis for my comparison way back at 195. I subsequently explained my reasoning – you won’t find many Leaf owners who wouldn’t have bought a Prius or Insight or perhaps a small diesel if no EVs were available. Please provide some logic or data which supports your implied claim that Leaf owners woulda bought any old average car, or agree that “average car” isn’t the appropriate metric. And you’re confusing the MPGe adjustment with CO2 emissions, also in 195. I never said EV CO2 was triple, just worse than the Prius:

    195 Me: “I used the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf as representative of state of the art for electrical VS gas vehicles. The Prius gets 50MPG and the Leaf gets 99/3= 33MPGe”

    Yep, I mentioned that SUVs are included in “average car” calculations even though a Leaf buyer surely wouldn’t consider a gas SUV, but your conclusion that that equates to the “average car is an SUV” makes zero sense.

    Three strikes, but keep swinging! :-)

    245 dhogaza said, 8,887/40 “I see we’re back to ignoring the CO2 emissions involved with…”

    40 is 20% lower than 50. Four!

    241 Numerobis said, “Toggling wind and hydro plant is almost free”.

    Excellent point. Hydro is a great battery on a daily basis, but not seasonally, and in the stereotypical example, a wet spring, hydro is hard to curtail. I keep making the mistake of segregating hydro from renewables when discussing energy. I guess my mind thinks of “old energy” VS “new energy”.

    With wind curtailment you lose production and you’ve still gotta pay the non-producer to make up for lost subsidies, or at least that’s the policy that seems to be evolving as a result of PNW spring surpluses. Not as free…

    “A typical coal plant can turn down to about 20 percent of its rated capacity, as compared to 40 percent for natural gas combined cycle units”

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/03/impact-of-curtailment-on-wind-economics

    So ff is easily adjusted, to a degree. The link talks about early morning, when changes in demand are quick. Curtail wind while you’re ramping up coal in preparation. Cycling a 500MW plant down to 36% only costs $13k (chart on p10), so toggling ff is also pretty cheap, as long as it’s done over hours, and not below minimum operating levels. One alternative to wind curtailment is to ramp up later and use peaker plants to handle the spike.
    http://www.ipautah.com/data/upfiles/newsletters/cyclingarticles.pdf

    Obviously, the last-KWH issue is way more complicated than a desire to use non-ff sources first. I learned something, including that I can’t answer the question. Thanks!

    Steve Fish, I apologize about misstating your name. I truncate last names, but you already told me about your Steve F issue.

    “you now admit that your multiple recent posts were wrong and you didn’t provide accurate and appropriate documentation.”

    Uh, no. I’ve documented everything (correct me if I left anything out), and nobody has provided a cite or valid logic which conflicts significantly with anything I have said other than my last-KWH goof.

    Your attempt to limit Leaf figures to your town is absurd. In my zip code the Leaf spews 300 grams, according to the handy calculator. We could argue about whose town is superior, but the average for the country (or the world) is the only sane metric. (Though that brings up the idea of only selling EVs in areas with low-carbon grids)

    The Prius may actually spew less than 222 grams because we blend in ethanol. I say “may” because the issue is fraught with disagreement.

    “A 2007 study by Argonne National Laboratory found that when these entire fuel life cycles are considered, using corn-based ethanol instead of gasoline reduces life cycle GHG emissions by 19% to 52%, depending on the source of energy used during ethanol production (see graph). Using cellulosic ethanol provides an even greater benefit—reducing GHG emissions by up to 86%”

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/flexible_fuel_emissions.html

    “That means cellulosic ethanol could be produced for as little as $2 a gallon” so that 86% figure might come into play quite soon – though like all predictions, tis probably optimistic, but obviously, liquid fueled cars aren’t just fossil, and that will increase when cellulosic ethanol takes off.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddwoody/2012/02/22/new-enzyme-could-make-cellulosic-ethanol-competitive-with-fossil-fuels/

    Your point that the figures don’t include drilling energy would be well-taken IF you documented how much energy is involved and IF you included power plant and transmission line construction energy, along with drilling energy for fossil fuels burned in power plants – along with all that concrete in dams and steel in turbines. Our unstated assumption that renewables are carbon-free is obviously wrong.

    Stuff gets left out initially, and we drill down. I think that’s appropriate. Like, I noted that MPGe needs division by 3. Since we’ve discussed this previously, I felt documentation would be a waste of bandwidth – but folks must have missed it, so I provided documentation.

    You talked of adjustments required for MPG (a grand addition to the discussion), but strangely, you neglected to document or even quantify, so I did it for you.

    I’m still waiting for you to document your claim that I refuse to document, and now I’m waiting for you to document where I admitted that my posts were wrong (except Numerobis’ catch) and that I don’t document. Please don’t fall back on: My comment…your Say What?…my clarification and documentation.. as error or lack of documentation on my part. I already spew too many words here, so I document what I think is appropriate, curtail my words, and expand if needed afterwards. You can be assured I will modify my decisions as to what to document or explain in detail because of this conversation. It makes little sense to conserve bandwidth if it results in long and unhappy discussions.

    Maybe I shouldn’t push, but since your ongoing lack of documentation also involves a personal insult, please provide the documentation you’ve been asked for or apologize. (Or make the ironic choice of refusing to document)

    One can fish the web for desired numbers or go the “technically incorrect” route, but that’s petty, so, find errors that invalidate my logic, along with an instance where I refused to document, please.

  8. 258
    Jim Larsen says:

    245 dhogaza said, “I’ll modify it slightly to “Assuming the alternative is a 50MPG car, mid-size electric cars sold in the USA today will not help with AGW

    That’s a substantial walk-back from your original position”

    I was being accommodating, and didn’t really change anything. “will not help” only leaves the essentially impossible case of exactly equal as a difference from my original statement, as clarified in 195, that the Leaf emits more than the Prius. The Carbon Calculator says I’m right – 230 VS 222. Sure we could (and did) quibble about construction costs or whatever, but unless you can document that, ya gotta go with the data we have. So, cite or accept.

    Mangling a quote by leaving off “I’m convinced my original claim was correct, but” to change a friendly accommodation into a retraction is wrong. Why did you do that?

  9. 259
    Superman1 says:

    David Benson #256,

    “Terra’s climate response is immediate.”

    Not true. From a recent paper on the ‘Climate Trap’: “after the emission shutdown, the warming persists for a long time owing to the
    slow decays of the atmospheric burden of long-lived GHGs (e.g. CO2 and SF6)….and heat storage in the deep ocean”. This effect of thermal inertia is well-known and not in dispute. The only disagreement I have seen is whether the temperature increase will be 0.6 C or 0.7 C.

  10. 260
    Superman1 says:

    dhogoza #254,

    “Well, I guess we can all give up and die then, if only impossible-to-achieve solutions are on the table.”

    Well, what do people faced with Stage 4 cancer do? Most follow conventional solutions that result in early demise. A very few will take a radical approach, like Gerson Therapy, to try and reverse the damage.

    For climate change, we seem to have received the diagnosis of Stage 4, but our response is to conduct business as usual. We are not even taking the climate analogies to chemotherapy or radiation. I believe the reason is that we are not willing to face the ‘side-effects’ of the rigorous therapy that would give us the slightest possibilty of ameliorating climate change. We have essentially ‘given up’, as you say, but we conceal this by using much more flowery language about our response.

  11. 261
    MARodger says:

    To correct my numbers @233, I forget (I’m good at that) US gallons are so small. Thus if in the US electric grid emissions of 18gC/MJ Primary Energy = 65 gC/KWh, the EPA’s 33.7kWh emissions = 1 petrol gallon(US) emissions = 74 gC/KWh. This is now within the error encompassed by such calculations.

    But suddenly this argument about electric cars in the US appears badly off-track.

    What I now find hard to cope with is the implied assertion in this thread that the EPA has created a massively flawed system for comparing petrol & electric cars. (I get very exercised when the European version which uses gCO2/km, exercised to the point of suggesting summary execution for those responsible. The EPA system being implied here is ten times worse!)

    This graphic of a Monroney label is saying the EPA are promoting the petrol/electric comparison using the Primary Energy, that the Nissan Leaf achieves 99 mpg(US)e or 34 kWh(e) = the Primary Energy use by the power station which emits roughly 65 or 74 gC/kWh.
    Conversely, in this thread, folk are saying the 34 kWh(e) is measured where the car is plugged in, where generation & transmission losses increase emissions to roughly 160gC/kWh. This would mean the EPA’s Monroney label is presenting incredibly deceptive information.

    Which is right?
    In a form that even I can understand, you would expect a bog-standard small European electric car to achieve 25% better than a small Diesel one, thus about 75 gCO2/km. A small electric car would thus be emitting an equivilant of 68mpg(UK) = 56 mpg(US). But the EPA mpg tests are known to give higher mpg that European ones. From WikipediaEU fuel consumption numbers tend to be considerably lower than corresponding US EPA test results for the same vehicle. For example, the 2011 Honda CR-Z with a six-speed manual transmission is rated 6.1/4.4 l/100 km in Europe and 7.6/6.4 l/100 km in the United States.” If these double-numbers are combined 55:45 (as per the EPA test, no idea about the European one), this would give the EPA mpg = (7.6*55+6.4*45)/(6.1*55+4.4*45) = 1.32 Euro mpg (US gallon adjusted). Thus a small electric car would achieve 75 mpg(US)e using EPA tests.
    For a bog-standard electric car to do this, it is not infeasible for a Nissan Leaf to be achieving 99 mpg(US)e, directly equatable to petrol mpg(US). Conversely, 75 mpg(US)e is far too high for it to be as described in this thread.

    A parting thought. The carbon footprint of getting the petrol into a car’s tank is probably similar to the carbon footprint of getting the coal etc to the powerstation.

  12. 262
    flxible says:

    All this chatter about the efficiency [or not] of EVs is really very pointless, the US “vehicle fleet” continues to increase in size and age without any sign of slowing – current vehicle tech of any flavor will do nothing to stop, or even slow, the climatic steamroller as long as mobility via “personal transport” is the backbone of society and the global economy.

  13. 263
    Superman1 says:

    MARodger #261,

    “This would mean the EPA’s Monroney label is presenting incredibly deceptive information.”

    I have not studied this issue in detail, so I cannot comment on your specifics. But, in terms of the EPA being deceptive, I would offer the following. I spent decades in the Federal government, and over a decade in the private sector. The government employees seemed to have three major objectives, all related to money and security. First, do whatever it takes to grow the agency budget, because that’s typically how rewards are generated. Second, do whatever is necessary to insure you will have a job until retirement; that’s the main reason that whistle-blowing by Federal employees is essentially non-existant. Third, do whatever is necessary to prepare the way for a cushy job in academia or industry when you retire; that means not offending the political and especially the commercial interests in any way. If there is the choice between issuing the truth and adversely impacting any of these three requirements, the truth will go by the wayside.

    The FCC and NIH have blatantly lied about the health impacts of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, including lying about the necessary limits for no damage. The FDA has consistently lied about the safety of drugs; see David Graham’s testimony before Congress in the mid-2000s time period. Why would you expect the EPA to be the oasis in this desert of truth?

    I have learned not to believe anything the government issues until I have checked it from the premier literature myself. And, based on who funds the premier literature research, and what are the motivations of the funders, I tend to check the premier literature from multiple directions as well. The one constant here is lying by the government, in order to mollify their industry supporters.

    The biggest lies are now coming in the area of climate change. I believe it is no accident that all the models have tended to underpredict the severity of what is occurring, that there is a paucity of data on critical events such as methane releases in the Arctic, and that we are being told the situation can still be turned around if we pull in our belts slightly.

  14. 264
    Dan H. says:

    Superman, don’t you mean overpredict? Most seem to think that we are already too far gone to do much about it. Other than that, I tend to agree with your gobernment assessment.

  15. 265
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Superman 1: “For climate change, we seem to have received the diagnosis of Stage 4, but our response is to conduct business as usual.”

    Oh, horsecrap. I get so fricking tired of fricking amateurs pronouncing the fricking patient dead over the protests of the fricking patient.

    Yes, the problem is tough. I would note that we could have presumed that from the fact that we haven’t found a solution. How’s about you tell us something we don’t know.

    Here’s the deal. If we’d started back in the 80s developing a new energy infrastructure in earnest, we’d be a whole lot closer to having one than we are now. So what is needed is to do whatever we can to buy time, so the smart people can come up with a solution to bail humanity out of the situation it’s greed and stupidity have brought it to–just like every other time in history.

    So, either push in the right direction or kindly stand out of the way. There are no innocent observers. You either make things better or you make things worse. Choose.

  16. 266
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 16 Sep 2012 @ 1:42 AM:

    In your comment #163 you say- “current electric cars produce more CO2 than fossil fuel cars”- and you have been asked to document the accuracy of this statement. You have not. In contrast, the emissions calculator says that a Leaf (or a Prius) would produce less CO2 than the average new car, even in a state where coal is the biggest percentage of electrical generation.

    Your frequent very long, rambling, and disorganized posts in which you refuse to admit error, your moving of goalposts, and your minimal and inappropriate documentation, are all disrupting and I refuse to feed this behavior any further. Steve

  17. 267
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 16 Sep 2012 @ 9:34 AM:

    So, you are saying that everybody in government regulatory agencies, NIH scientists, and climate scientists are corrupted, and academic jobs are cushy. Man, I think you forgot to put on your tinfoil hat and those rays are getting to you. This is boring. Steve

  18. 268
    Patrick 027 says:

    re 259 Superman1 – what was meant be immediate was that the climate’s disequilibrium tends to decay ~ exponentially to whatever new equilibrium would be sustained by whatever forcing (this is an approximation using only Charney-type feedbacks and a fixed heat capacity; the heat capacity for longer-term variations will be higher because more of the deep ocean gets involved (also the penetration of temperature change goes deeper into the land surface, though that isn’t a big contribution), and longer term changes can have larger ice sheet feedbacks and biogeochemical feedbacks). That much anthropogenic forcing remains after we stop emitting doesn’t alter that.

  19. 269
    Superman1 says:

    Steve Fish #266,

    “So, you are saying that everybody in government regulatory agencies, NIH scientists, and climate scientists are corrupted, and academic jobs are cushy.”

    Jim Larsen is spot on in his assessment of your comments; pure spin. Here’s what I actually said:

    “The FCC and NIH have blatantly lied about the health impacts of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, including lying about the necessary limits for no damage. The FDA has consistently lied about the safety of drugs; see David Graham’s testimony before Congress in the mid-2000s time period. Why would you expect the EPA to be the oasis in this desert of truth?”

    In terms of academic jobs, everyone I knew who retired from government and went to academia did quite well in drawing from two pots of money, and their prior government contacts helped insure the second pot was quite full.

    But, if you want to believe everything your government tells you. go right ahead. When they tell you that Iran has WMD and we need to go to war, I’m sure you’ll be the first to enlist.

  20. 270
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/rethinking-the-new-zone-hardiness-map/

    “… the 2012 version shows that planting zones have been shifting northward as winters become more mild. But a researcher contends that this long-awaited map is already outdated.

    Nir Krakauer, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the Grove School of Engineering at City College of New York, has overhauled the U.S.D.A.’s hardiness map to better account for recent temperature changes. Unlike the U.S.D.A., which came up with its planting zones by using average annual minimum temperatures from 1975 to 2005, Dr. Krakauer looked at long-term temperature trends, including recent data that shows that winter temperatures are increasing more rapidly than summer temperatures. His results were published this week in Advances in Meteorology.”

    And, alas:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/us/politics/fossil-fuel-industry-opens-wallet-to-defeat-obama.html

  21. 271
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #264,

    “Yes, the problem is tough. I would note that we could have presumed that from the fact that we haven’t found a solution. How’s about you tell us something we don’t know.”

    There’s very little I see on any of these blogs that is absolutely new. But, when a thread like the present one is dominated by a discussion of different vehicles all of which rely on a fossil source and all of which involve a heat cycle between the source and the work output, then my view is that is not addressing the serious problem we face. What many people either do not realize or are not willing to admit consciously is that even if we terminate fossil fuel combustion tomorrow, we go under. If they did, they would not propose any solution that involves the use of fossil fuels.

    “Here’s the deal. If we’d started back in the 80s developing a new energy infrastructure in earnest, we’d be a whole lot closer to having one than we are now. So what is needed is to do whatever we can to buy time, so the smart people can come up with a solution to bail humanity out of the situation it’s greed and stupidity have brought it to–just like every other time in history.”

    Well, there were a number of us (myself included) who recognized myriad problems with depending on a fossil fuel-driven energy economy, and proposed solutions back in the 70s. Most credible ones were nuclear-based, and there were a variety of options. Except for some unique geographical anomalies, like being near a geothermal site, the so-called renewables were not viewed as a good impedance match to the high intensity energy requirements of modern life and commerce. Unfortunately, there were enough people opposed to nuclear that its development and implementation lay dormant in the USA for three decades. Like our cancer example, had we done something then when the first symptoms were beginning to appear, our chances of avoiding Stage 4 would have been much higher.

    “So, either push in the right direction or kindly stand out of the way. There are no innocent observers. You either make things better or you make things worse. Choose.”

    Well, the first step in solving the problem is identifying the problem correctly. I don’t believe most posters, any government officials or politicians, and most climate scientists have identified the seriousness of the problem. That is not the same as saying they don’t recognize the seriousness. I believe they do, but for their own reasons, they are not willing to state it to the public. I would bet that Sen. Inhofe recognizes the problem, but to state the truth in an oil state like Oklahoma would be political suicide. I believe contributing to the full identification of the problem is being part of the solution.

    Now, as for a specific technical solution, I have little credible to offer. If my scenario is the correct one, that we have already committed to an unsustainable climate and the feedbacks will only make it far worse, then at a minimum we need to terminate all fossil fuel combustion yesterday. But, that will not be adequate. We need to reduce the heat input to the total climate system. That could involve removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, injecting substances to increase the albedo, establishing shields in Space to protect part of the Earth from the Sun, or some combination of the above.

    What do I believe the chances of the above succeeding are? All these technical possibilities are true Hail Mary passes, and would require a true Hail Mary moment to succeed. Additionally, there is zero chance that fossil fuel use could be terminated in the near future; my prognosis is increased use of fossil fuel, based on everything I read and see.

    So, if you believe telling the truth is standing in the way, then proceed with your fantasies about solving the problem. But, recognize that they are fantasies.

  22. 272
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 253 dhogaza – thanks

    Re 261 MARodger – I think EROEI for gasoline (prior to combustion losses) is ~ 5, but I’ll have to get back to you with a source. From here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_returned_on_energy_invested , coal is way up at 80, however, some of those numbers look way way way way way way off (solar power in particular is much better than stated – maybe once upon a time it was so pathetic, but not now).

    Re Jim Larsen – one thing I’ve wondered is how flexible the refining process is – in the sense of: what is the minimum fraction of energy that can be processed into fuel (or just gasoline in particular), with all other products going toward chemical feedstocks, lubricants, etc? (I realize there’s variation depending on oil source, but I’m wondering how fixed the ratios of products are for any given type of crude.)

    reCAPTCHA is telling me that matseeds are Great!

  23. 273
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Superman 1: “I have little credible to offer.”

    All that verbiage, and the above phrase is the only honest, sincere and useful thing you had to say.

    As I said, you make things better, or you make things worse.

    Here’s a hint: Trumpeting your moral superiority isn’t making things better.

  24. 274
    Jim Larsen says:

    261 MARodger said, “A parting thought. The carbon footprint of getting the petrol into a car’s tank is probably similar to the carbon footprint of getting the coal etc to the powerstation.”

    dhogaza’s EPA’s carbon calculator’s details page says it’s 6% for electrical and 20% for gasoline. They calculate electrical transmission losses separately (but don’t disclose them, referencing eGRID2010 Version 1.1, whatever that is) I think that’s about 7%. So, 13% VS 20%. I don’t know if they include CH4 leaks or construction energy, though they do include drilling and refining.

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov:80/feg/label/calculations-information.shtml

    I think the EPA chose their MPGe technique because they’re trying to promote EVs. All gasoline and 100% efficient makes for easy figuring, but 100% efficiency is ridiculous and only 1% of electricity is oil-based. MPGe requires apples to oranges comparisons, so any number they/we come up with will be wrong, but divide by 2 or 3 and you’ll get a reasonable estimate with which to compare to MPG. (see post 228 for an analysis that comes up with 3. I’ve done others that say 2. Currently, I think divide by 2 is superior.)

  25. 275

    Can anyone point to a good commentary or analysis of :
    http://climatesoscanada.org/blog/2012/04/30/global-extinction-within-one-human-lifetime-as-a-result-of-a-spreading-atmospheric-arctic-methane-heat-wave-and-surface-firestorm/

    In particular, is its use of methane global warming potentials kosher? It looks a bit dodgy to me, to calculate GWP from local temperature anomalies.

  26. 276
    dhogaza says:

    I think the EPA chose their MPGe technique because they’re trying to promote EVs.

    No, it’s because they’re measuring vehicle, not system efficiency. Nothing wrong or misleading or dishonest about that.

  27. 277
    Jim Larsen says:

    265 Steve F said, “In your comment #163 you say- “current electric cars produce more CO2 than fossil fuel cars”- and you have been asked to document the accuracy of this statement. You have not.”

    163 was hyperbole and I quickly clarified that in 195 (or call it a retraction and replacement if you think I’m lying about my intent and meaning, or even if you don’t understand the definition of hyperbole.) Either way, yet again, you’re wrong when you say “You have not”. I did and have repeatedly noted that explanation.

    So you DID take the “my comment…your Say What?…my clarification” technical-escape-hatch, and even now refuse to acknowledge the clarification. Since you surely saw and absorbed at least one instance, I can only conclude that your “You have not.” is not a mistake, but [self-edit]. (I didn’t see your objection to my naming conventions as much as you didn’t see my clarification, so I took your cue as to how to react. Sound fair?)

    Want a technical escape hatch? The emissions from the DEVELOPMENT of EVs are astounding. Thus, today’s EVs probably produce more CO2 than the average car even before they’re constructed. (I believe the “Prius is worse than a Hummer” paper used that technique)

    Take a writing class and learn the uses of hyperbole.

  28. 278
    wili says:

    Alastair, I can’t speak to the particulars of this analysis, but I would be wary of things put out by the AMEG folks.

    I think they are right to be alarmed by our situation, but wrong to jump to geo-engineering schemes, which, as far as I can see, always lead to unintended (sometimes rather horrific) consequences.

    Most of the papers they put out start with some well-founded concerns and then extrapolate beyond what the data support, in my experience. Perhaps someone else with more time available today and more expertise in the field could pull apart the particular faults of this piece (assume there are some to be found)?

  29. 279
    Patrick 027 says:

    About EROEI:
    http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/2006/04/08/energy-balance-for-ethanol-better-than-for-gasoline/
    (ps if you just read the url, note the article is dissecting and debunking the claim.
    … on the other hand, if you use gasoline to make ethanol (this is of course oversimplied but a more general point may still stand), you still end up with more energy than if you just use the gasoline instead of the ethanol that would have been***. But (rhetorical question) is the gain worth the effort (and other inputs)?)

    PS this was corn ethanol, not sugarcane, and I presume not the cellulosic kind. It’s not algae diesel either.

    ***- actually, though, you sorta/kinda/in a way don’t because you could have done something else with the corn, bla bla bla…

  30. 280
    Superman1 says:

    Alastair McKinstry #274,

    I have seen his proposals on this topic before. He is building a hypothetical superstructure on a foundation of increased methane release observations. I will leave it to someone doing research in this specific area to comment on the specifics.

    The author had a handful of publications in the premier peer-reviewed literature in the 80s up to the mid-90s, and hasn’t had anything in the database I examined since then. His publications were all in petroleum geology journals, and I guess some of the present topic could be viewed as geology.

    But, there is an inconsistency here. He has been posting on the present topic on the Web for at least a decade. If his approach was credible, why wouldn’t he have submitted it to a real journal for publication. This is an important topic, and if it had any basis in fact, I would think a number of journals would be most interested. So, I’m very leery of its credibility.

  31. 281
    Patrick 027 says:

    Last month I posted some capacity factors for electricity generation in the U.S. This http://theenergycollective.com/robertrapier/91721/renewable-energy-facts-and-figures?ref=node_other_posts_by (see near the end) points out one way those calculations could be goofed up. Although I think I used a 10 year cummulative generation divided by 10 year sum of capacity, which would partly avoid the problem (and it was based on summer net generation capacity, which would be in summer, approx. in the middle of the year, right?) – however, where there is exponential growth and in particular if the last year dominates … well …

    anyway, the article itself tries to estimate capacity factor by averaging two year-end capacity values to get an average capacity for the year – but that too will overestimate capacity and thus underestimate capacity factor if there is exponential growth on a monthly-seasonal scale. But I could imagine there could be a seasonal cycle in installation (???) which could also throw values off, …

    anyway, not to get too OT, but just some things to keep in mind if you’re looking into this, and having posted about this earlier, I wanted to note a source of possible error in what I posted.

  32. 282
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    I know how Gavin Schmidt is loath to use the word ‘exponential’ in his descriptions but looking at cryosat2′s ice volume graph certianly is looking increasingly that way. Anyone wanting to wager on an summer ice free 2017?
    I’ve come up with a good analogy to describe permanant perennial ice as opposed to seasonal ice… Imagine perennial ice as being like processed timber or multiply. Layer over layer over layer of tightly compressed ice thousands of layers thick all orientated at slightly differest directions depending on prevailing winds. If one layer is porus or fractured the adjacent layers above and below it are probably smooth and homogenous. That is why processed wood is significantly stronger than a single plank of raw cut timber.
    This season we truly are in uncharted territory even though this is close to the PIOMAS predictions. Apart from the the famed actic cyclone the weather conditions have been rather average suggesting that the majority of the melt is happening from below bourne out by the ice volume charts. Even the record min for ice area/extent in 2007 was not out of the ballpark with realtion to the last 5 or 6 mins within the last 10 years. However this latest catastrophy certainly is. It is now 9/17 and it is still going down…where it will eventually stop no-one knows. The chart producers keep having to recalibrate their graphs lower and lower.
    Am I right in thinking that when we get to the ice free state it will pretty well immediately extend the ice free period by maybe 1.5-2 months as ice is not going to form on the ocean that is still above freezing?.

  33. 283
    wili says:

    Thanks for your perspective, LC. I still can’t quite get my mind around the fact that all that multi-year, really thick ice that used to dominate much of the central Arctic basin is now completely gone, vanished. What’s left is to what used to be there, as some shreds of wet toilet paper are to a thick woolen cap–no comparison even if they cover (a shrinking portion) of the same territory.

    I have no idea if this sloppy remnant will vanish in the next couple years (following the exponential curve you mention) or will persist in ever-shrinking shreds (following a Gompertz curve) that last a couple more decades. It hardly seems to matter at this point, since the heavy lifting has already happened–the vast majority of the volume of ice that once dominated the top of the globe year-round is now gone, and I see no chance of it coming back withing human time scales.

    I just had a (to me) depressing 55th birthday with family all around. I mentioned the loss of the polar ice cap. Nearly everyone else was talking about the plane trips they were taking to various places around the country and globe. These are socially and politically conscious, intelligent, caring people. But making serious changes in their own lifestyles doesn’t seem remotely on their radar.

    If even these good folks are going about their lives as usual in spite of the fundamental disruption of basic nature of the planet, I have no hope that the majority will ever willingly adopt lifestyles that are remotely supportable by the planet we actually live on.

  34. 284

    “I know how Gavin Schmidt is loath to use the word ‘exponential’ in his descriptions but looking at cryosat2′s ice volume graph certianly is looking increasingly that way. Anyone wanting to wager on an summer ice free 2017?”

    IIRC, Gavin had said something to the effect that little in nature followed an exponential trajectory for long.

    I was thinking… that makes sense. since the exponential is an unstable/unsustainable trajectory, either running quickly to zero, or out beyond the quantitative bounds of the physical system. Usually that’s the sign of a model blowing up.

    But isn’t that the point here in 2012? That is, might we not be seeing a quasi-exponential trajectory that, indeed, will not be sustained for long–because the physical system will actually zero out?

  35. 285
    Jim Larsen says:

    271 Patrick asked, “how flexible the refining process is”

    Depends on the refinery.

    “Refineries that can produce a wide range of products out of essentially any crude mix will have the highest gross margin per barrel. However, flexibility costs money. When evaluating flexibility, we carefully consider available markets, crudes, and trends to determine whether this can be justified.”

    http://www.jacobsconsultancy.com/consultancy.asp?id=5512

    275 dhogaza said, “No, it’s because they’re measuring vehicle, not system efficiency.”

    Of course they’re not dishonest. The original decision, made on CAFE back in 1988, was to multiply alternative mileage by 6.67, showing their obvious intent, and proving my point. When migrating to MPGe, they went through focus groups and whatnot, resulting in lots of confusion. They eventually decided to give EVs the advantage another way. Instead of using their already in place formula, they changed to tank-to-wheels, giving EVs a 2:1 or 3:1 advantage, so they actually helped EVs less as compared to the CAFE formula. (the neutral decision would be well-to-wheels, and then increasing by 25% to account for gasoline’s well-to-tank efficiency, resulting exactly in MPG “equivalent”, just as the name says.) Read the following, and then decide:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_per_gallon_gasoline_equivalent

    278 Patrick, the EROI for gasoline appears to be based on all non-atmospheric carbon. So, of the total both for pumping and being pumped, you get ~.8 back.

    I think corn ethanol is probably a waste. Letting the field go back to nature and sequestering carbon takes no effort, energy, or water and builds soil instead of eroding it. Beets and sugar cane make more sense and the Holy Grail is cellulosic – waste, scrap, brush and grass to fuel. With cellulosic ethanol, EVs make a whole lot less sense, and vodka becomes insanely cheap. President Bush might just have been a bit ahead of his time.

    As you know, CO2 figures for ethanol are all over the map. Here’s the UK govt’s take. They say US corn is a tad better than coal but worse than oil, while Brazilian sugar cane is awesome:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BioethanolsCountryOfOrigin.jpg

    (And I’m swearing off hyperbole. It doesn’t work on this forum)

  36. 286
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    264 Ray Ladbury. All very well reminiscing that we should have laid the groundwork for a new energy infrastructure in 1980 but the fact is- we didn’t and now quite simply it’s too late as superman quite rightly keeps pointing out. I’m buddhist by nature so my natural instinct is to try to see things as they are and not as I wish/hope or pretend they are. Case in point..if we miraculously did cut carbon pollution tomorrow the affects of CO2 would be more or less linearly decreasing over the next few millennia coupled with that the irreversible decay of the tundra and permafrost with the many 100′s of Gtonnes of CH4 that will quickly release. Not to mention the only just freezing methane compounds under the arctic sea already issuing gas as we type. er..has anyone seen the pink elephant in the room yet?
    The world only has a finite budget to deal with CC, so let’s concentrate our respective finances on climate adaptation and management while it’s still possible to do so. I still advocate emissions reduction to maximise the time we have left but let’s not go overboard with that one, we should balance emissions reduction with adaptation strategies don’t you agree?

  37. 287
    MARodger says:

    Hi Jim Larsen @273.

    I did revisit your comment @228. You are show the that gasoline/USElectic ratio for energy (1gal/33.4kWh) and the carbon intensity ratio (1gal/33.7kWh) are very similar. (This is not so surprising as, carbon intensity-wise, oil (ie gasoline) is about average for FFs. And high coal use in electric generation would be counter-balanced by nuclear & renewables.)

    You then make a mental leap that is surely unwarranted. “So MPGe is based on 100% efficiency for power plants and transmission.” And then you attempt to factor in the generation & transmission losses in the electric grid and reduce the efficiency of the electric vehicle accordingly.

    I attempted to show @261 that 99mpg(US)e for a Nissan Leaf electric car was not an unreasonable efficiency while halving it (or more) as you were suggesting was unreasonable. Perhaps another angle would help.

    According to Wikipedia a petrol engine is only. 25-30% “…even when the engine is operating at its point of maximum thermal efficiency.” And when it is not, which it usually isn’t because the engine operates via a series of fixed gears and at varying power levels, the average efficiency is even lower. (It is possible but I would suggest not useful to consider the technological fixes that could improve that low efficiency, unhelpful as the technological ‘stake-in-the-ground’ is required to keep the discussion realistic.) Let us, for sake of argument, err on the generous side & set the average efficiency of a petrol car engine in providing the required power to a shaft spinning at the required speed at 25%.

    An electric motor is embarrasingly efficient. It can approach 100% at rated power levels and is still blinding high under varying speed & reduced power demand.
    Now I think the idea of 40% efficiency from power station boiler room to plug is an acceptable figure here. To drop the overall power.station/electric.vehicle efficiency below the petrol (& thus as shown @228 make electric carbon emissions higher), the efficiency of the electric motor would have to be below 25/40=38%. In other words the ‘plug-to-wheel’ efficiency of the electric vehicle has to be a lot more efficient than the ‘tank-to-wheel’ efficiency of petrol by a factor of 38/25=150%. Electric vehicles easily exceed this which is why good old Wikipedia (that fails on quoting actual electric motor efficiency) saysElectric vehicle ‘tank-to-wheels’ efficiency is about a factor of 3 higher than internal combustion engine vehicles,” or 300%. (I think that is somewhat high, but the Wiki ref is from the EV industry. Battery weight is a concern for cars with useful range. This may be what is being fudged.)

    Just like the petrol vehicle, the electric vehicle has technologies waiting in the wings to improve efficiency. Argument over the promise of on-board technologies for electric or internal combustion engines can be made either way. But the killer advantage is the promise of reducing the carbon intensity of the electric supply.

    I hope this is persuasive in showing that carbon emissions from driving electric cars is not a challenge confronting their widespread adoption.

  38. 288
    Superman1 says:

    There is an excellent post in Neven’s ice blog this morning by a commenter named Lewis, and I want to emphasize and embellish its main points (excerpted).

    “Thus far, with oil at around $100 and global coal and gas prices keeping pace, renewables aren’t even covering the annual rise in fossil energy demand as a couple of billion people aspire to one fifth of US consumption rates. They do help somewhat to stop prices spiking, but the notion that they displace any fossil fuels is just seductive hype – any fossil fuels locally displaced are bought and burnt elsewhere.”

    This point has been made a number of times on RealClimate, but I’m not sure how enthusiastically it has been accepted.

    In addressing an emissions control treaty that eliminates CO2 by 2050, he states:

    “Yet an emissions control treaty, however stringent, cannot of itself control the warming to which we’re committed. Devi (another commenter) remarked blithely how :-
    “More than 3 degrees will lead not only to very significant alterations to the climate but also the onset of positive feedback loops”
    when in reality we are committed to:
    0.8C realized
    plus
    0.7C pipeline time-lagged
    plus
    0.6C phase-out emissions via a near-zero by 2050 treaty
    times
    2.1 loss-of-sulphate-parasol multiplier
    equals
    4.41C of warming.

    That multiplier is the median of Hansen’s finding btw, so, if he’s as right as he’s tended to be, the final figure is +/- 0.6C

    Given the pipeline time lag after the treaty ended emissions in 2050, we’d be looking at around 4.4C of warming by 2080, which allows around 70 years of intensifying warming for Devi’s “onset” of those interactive mega-feedbacks.

    The problem with this view is that at least 6 out of seven are already accelerating under just 0.8C of warming, and they didn’t start yesterday:-

    Rising water vapour had begun by 1940s;
    cryosphere decline by 1950s;
    microbial decay of peatbogs by 1960s;
    rising permafrost melt by 1970s;
    rising forest combustion by 1980s;
    rising global soils desiccation by 1990s;
    – and what’s happened to methane hydrates in the 2000′s is still “awaiting publication.”

    Our best efforts at emissions control give around seventy years of additional warming to empower those interactive feedbacks, when it looks from present events in the arctic as if we can’t afford even seven years.”

    For potential solutions, he suggests:

    “Both modes of Geo-E (Albedo Restoration AND Carbon Recovery) are patently required as the complements to the emissions control treaty for a commensurate response to change our climate prospects, but both could and likely would be done really badly if left to the motivations of corporate nationalism.”

    His temperature increase numbers, which reflect the real-world prospect of continuing fossil fuel combustion, and the probable unreal-world assumption of termination of fossil fuel combustion by 2050, use similar assumptions to mine when I computed the extreme case of ending fossil fuel combustion today. He has quantified (to some extent) the non-feedback lower bound of what could be expected if we continue fossil fuel combustion. In my view, there is no way his high temperature increases of four degrees could be stabilized with the feedbacks he mentioned, and others he omitted.

    His proposed solutions are a Hail Mary approach, and may be in reality all that we have left. But, he has stated the gravity of the problem, and proposed solutions commensurate with the problem. h
    Unfortunately, many solutions I have seen discussed on the present site are equivalent to comparisons of which brand of aspirin to take for treating Stage 4 cancer.

  39. 289
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Lawrence Coleman,
    As I recall, the Buddha was not an advocate of complacency. I believe the Eight-fold path emphasizes right effort, as well as right view and right intention.

    Saying “It’s too late,” is simply stupidity. We will not avoid serious consequences from climate change–that is a given. However, it is not too late to make things better than they would be otherwise, nor to make things much worse than they have to be. Actions matter. Truth matters.

    Every gram of carbon we do not put into the atmosphere buys time, and as we have squandered 30 years now, time is our most valuable commodity. You can do what you want. I’m going to keep fighting the anti-science ass clams and trying to come up with solutions if that is all right with you.

    [Response:Excellent comment Ray. Where these people get off saying "it's too late" and other defeatist crap I really have no idea. But they sure as hell don't know what they're talking about, and even if they did, they'd try to say something positive instead of promoting hopelessness if they were trying to actually help things.--Jim]

  40. 290
    Superman1 says:

    Lawrence Coleman #286,

    “264 Ray Ladbury. All very well reminiscing that we should have laid the groundwork for a new energy infrastructure in 1980 but the fact is- we didn’t and now quite simply it’s too late as superman quite rightly keeps pointing out. I’m buddhist by nature so my natural instinct is to try to see things as they are and not as I wish/hope or pretend they are. Case in point..if we miraculously did cut carbon pollution tomorrow the affects of CO2 would be more or less linearly decreasing over the next few millennia coupled with that the irreversible decay of the tundra and permafrost with the many 100′s of Gtonnes of CH4 that will quickly release. Not to mention the only just freezing methane compounds under the arctic sea already issuing gas as we type. er..has anyone seen the pink elephant in the room yet?”

    Excellent comment. I would add that even if we terminated “carbon pollution tomorrow”, we would still see an additional temperature increase due to the ‘climate commitment’ and the elimination of the fossil sulphates. And, this is without feedbacks. With feedbacks, as we are seeing today and as enumerated in my post 288, I don’t see how even this ‘modest’ temperature increase can be stabilized.

    Certainly, it makes sense to minimize additional carbon pollution wherever we can; it may buy some time to allow us to think of a way out. But, if we have truly started down the road to a self-reinforcing positive feedback system, the future is grim. I have studied other systems that used a trigger to ignite combustion and go into self-sustaining ‘burn’ mode. What happens is that the system loses memory of the ignition process fairly rapidly, and ‘burn’ takes on a life of its own.

  41. 291
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Superman1 — 16 Sep 2012 @ 2:54 PM:

    I would like to check something with you. In post #263 you did call many thousands of climate scientists from many different nations liars, without any proof whatsoever, when you said-

    “The biggest lies are now coming in the area of climate change. I believe it is no accident that all the models have tended to underpredict the severity of what is occurring, that there is a paucity of data on critical events such as methane releases in the Arctic, and that we are being told the situation can still be turned around if we pull in our belts slightly.”

    Did I spin that? Perhaps you meant that just the modelers lied and all the others are remaining silent? Could you please clear this up because, for scientists, this is a very serious charge.

    Steve

  42. 292
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Ray @ 289: Saying “It’s too late,” is simply stupidity.

    Yes. It’s sort of like the person that has to bail out of a burning airplane. It’s too late to avoid the failure of the airplane, but who will you take advice from:

    - the person that says “pull the rip cord on your parachute”?

    - or the person that says “even with the parachute open, you’re still falling and will still hit the ground, so why bother”?

  43. 293
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lawrence Coleman wrote: “The world only has a finite budget to deal with CC, so let’s concentrate our respective finances on climate adaptation and management while it’s still possible to do so. I still advocate emissions reduction to maximise the time we have left but let’s not go overboard with that one, we should balance emissions reduction with adaptation strategies don’t you agree?”

    I certainly don’t agree, and in fact, I have no idea what you mean by “balance emissions reduction with adaptation strategies”.

    I don’t accept your apparent premise that any resources that go to “adaptation” must necessarily be subtracted from the resources that we can commit to reducing emissions (which is what I guess you mean by “balancing”).

    If we are to have any hope of limiting AGW to levels where “adaptation” is even conceivable, we simply MUST reduce emissions as much as possible, as fast as possible. There is no way around that. If we don’t do that, then any efforts at “adaptation” are an exercise in futility, a lost cause.

    Further, reducing emissions cannot be viewed only as a “cost”. The most obvious example being the elimination of waste (vast amounts of energy are wasted in the USA) and drastically increasing efficiency, which has had, continues to have, and will continue to have huge economic benefits.

    And the urgent, rapid deployment of non-fossil fuel energy technologies, e.g. wind and solar, is not all about cost either — in fact even the early stages of widespread deployment and scaling up of those technologies is already having great economic benefits (e.g. creating more jobs than the economy in general, and contributing significantly to the economies of the states where those industries are growing fast).

    Additionally, those technologies — especially small-scale, distributed photovoltaics — can bring electricity to hundreds of millions of people in the developing world who currently have NO access to electricity, and thereby stimulate economic development where it is most needed.

    It’s not really a matter of the “cost” of reducing emissions — it’s a matter of transferring vast amounts of wealth from the fossil fuel corporations to other sectors of the industrial economy. Of course, the fossil fuel corporations see that as a “cost”. And they want you to see it that way too.

    Finally, many of the most important steps needed to reduce emissions will also help with “adaptation”. For example, the highly distributed, decentralized, redundant, smart “electricity Internet” that’s needed to fully integrate diverse renewable energy sources and local storage at all scales, will also be more fault-tolerant and better able to withstand the onslaught of AGW-driven weather of mass destruction. And the organic agriculture practices that can not only greatly reduce GHG emissions from agriculture, but actually sequester large amounts of carbon in the soil, have also been shown to give higher yields than conventional agriculture in drought conditions.

    Lawrence, I am not accusing you of this, but I see the notion “it’s too late for reducing emissions, let’s put our resources into adaptation” as just the latest slogan in the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long list of “reasons” for not reducing CO2 emissions as rapidly as possible. It’s just more stalling.

  44. 294
    SecularAnimist says:

    Bob Loblaw wrote: “It’s sort of like the person that has to bail out of a burning airplane.”

    Here’s the metaphor that I think is appropriate.

    If you are in a car speeding towards a concrete wall, you want to take your foot off the accelerator and slam on the brakes, even if you cannot possibly stop the car before it hits the wall — because the slower the car is going when it does hit the wall, the less damage there will be. Indeed, slowing the car even a small amount could be the difference between life and death for the passengers.

    On the other hand, if you are in a car speeding towards a cliff with a 100 foot sheer drop onto jagged rocks, it doesn’t really matter whether you slow the car down before you reach the cliff. If you can’t stop the car before it reaches the cliff, then you are going to be splattered on the rocks below, and it doesn’t make any difference whether the car is going 80 MPH or 8 MPH when it goes over the cliff.

    Now the thing is, we don’t know whether AGW is like the concrete wall, or like the cliff. And whichever it is, we also don’t know whether we can stop the car before it hits the wall or goes over the cliff.

    In that circumstance, it seems to me the appropriate thing to do is to slam on the brakes, and hope that AGW is like the wall — and slam on the brakes that much harder, in case it is like the cliff, and hope we can stop the car before it goes over the edge.

  45. 295
    wili says:

    I think the essential discussion must be what is the role of truth (or at least the most accurate picture of our current situation and likely near future that we can obtain) in our discussions of climate change.

    Do we avoid discussing data and trends that suggest that CC is proceeding and will be proceeding far faster than nearly anyone had expected because it might be discouraging to some people? I, for one, would like to sort out as accurately as possible where we are, even if the truth is grim. And I would hope those discussing it with me are arguing from their side based on their own best understanding of the information, not based on some pop-psych notion of how the truth may affect me or others.

    Having said this, I myself struggle with how to present even moderate versions of our current situation to students. I think most of them also want to know as accurately as possible what the best science tells us the situation is. I try to do that, mostly, and to hold back my gloomier speculations about accelerations of things from feedbacks, etc. But even presenting the widely accepted (in the scientific community) picture gets me labeled as “Dr. Doom.”

    I think, ultimately, people end up feeling most hopeless and demoralized if they get the sense that absolutely everyone is telling them lies or massaging the data one way or the other, either for the disgusting reasons of the denialists, or for other nobler perhaps but still patronizing (at least) reasons.

    Churchill didn’t try to persuade the British people that an invasion by the Germans was impossible. He presented it as a clear probability, but in the face of this grim possibility, he also rallied his people with his famous “We will fight them on the beaches…” speech.

    I think that, rather than minimizing the possible grimness of future scenarios, we need to admit that the climatic equivalent of invasion is well within the realm of possibility, and start rallying people with similarly Churchillian fervor. I sense that this is something of what McKibben is hoping to do by focusing on the central culprits of the story–those profiting enormously from un-sequestering vast quantities of carbon which they know will be dumped into the atmosphere at no (immediate) cost to them.

  46. 296
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lawrence Coleman wrote: “The world only has a finite budget to deal with CC, so let’s concentrate our respective finances on climate adaptation and management …we should balance emissions reduction with adaptation strategies don’t you agree?”

    If I may follow up on my previous reply to this comment, which as I wrote earlier, I understand to be saying that emissions reductions are all about cost, and that given our “finite budget”, any resources put into adaptation must be deducted from (“balanced with”) those needed for adaptation …

    A new study from the National Wildlife Foundation, “The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy” (PDF), states that “over 1,300 gigawatts (GW) of energy generation potential has been identified” on the Atlantic coast of the USA, and that “harnessing just a fraction of our offshore wind resource —- 52 GW —- could power about 14 million U.S. homes with local, pollution-free energy while creating over $200 billion in new economic activity along the coast … research shows that approximately 300,000 jobs … could result from a robust American offshore wind industry … the New York Independent System Operator has found that for every 1,000 MW of wind on the system, consumers save $300 million in wholesale energy costs.”

    That doesn’t sound to me like a burden on our “finite budget”. It sounds like growing the pie.

    We need to stop thinking and talking about non-fossil fuel energy technologies and efficiency as if they were only “costs” — as a burden on our economy. That is a view propounded by the fossil fuel corporations, who simply don’t want to see trillions of dollars in investment and wealth moving from them to other sectors of the economy.

    The reality is that the measures needed to rapidly reduce GHG emissions are also the very things that we need to do to to build a new economy — a new industrial revolution — that will enable robust, resilient and sustainable prosperity for all, especially in the face of the destructive consequences of AGW that are now unavoidable.

  47. 297
    Superman1 says:

    Steve Fish #291,
    “I would like to check something with you. In post #263 you did call many thousands of climate scientists from many different nations liars, without any proof whatsoever, when you said-

    “The biggest lies are now coming in the area of climate change. I believe it is no accident that all the models have tended to underpredict the severity of what is occurring, that there is a paucity of data on critical events such as methane releases in the Arctic, and that we are being told the situation can still be turned around if we pull in our belts slightly.”

    Did I spin that? Perhaps you meant that just the modelers lied and all the others are remaining silent? Could you please clear this up because, for scientists, this is a very serious charge.”

    In #263, I established a context. I pointed out specific examples where the government lied, including Dr. David Graham’s expose of how the FDA approved drugs that were unsafe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Graham_(epidemiologist)). I concluded that, based on my own experience within government as well as years in the private sector dealing with government, I would not trust anything that comes out of government without strong verification. I will give one further example to embellish the context, then will address climate change specifically.
    In 2002-2003, in the buildup to the Iraq invasion, there was an unspoken reality about Iraq’s capabilities and intentions relative to waging war. From what we see now, and what was obvious to a number of us at the time, the ‘front-line’ intel and DoD analysts had the reality of Iraq’s ‘intent and capability’ more or less correct in their analysis. However, as this information went up the line in their agencies, it was ‘cherry-picked’ and spun to fit a pre-conceived agenda. When it reached the highest levels of government, it was ‘cherry-picked’ and spun much further. What the public received was a completely distorted picture of Iraq’s ‘capability and intent’ as a result of this ‘cherry-picking’. I call that ‘lying’. Equally bad, none of the hundreds of officials who knew that the truth was not being presented to the public did anything to correct this distortion. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people around the world died.

    Now, it is obvious to most of us on this blog what the reality of climate change is. From our present perspective of no credible tangible method for extracting the carbon from the atmosphere or raising the albedo, at the very best, the climate change prospects are extremely grim, and at the worst, we are on the edge of a holocaust. Who or where in government is relaying this information to the public? The politicians (who work for government) are saying either there is nothing wrong, or we should have some modest concerns. But, even the ones who discuss concerns give the impression that with modest lifestyle changes, we can avoid the worst of climate change. You may call it ‘subjective interpretation’; I call it lying!

    What about the researchers and scientists? How many are conveying the message I and others have conveyed on this blog about the severity of the temperature increases even without further fossil fuel combustion and feedbacks, much less what will happen when the reality of myriad synergistic feedbacks and further fossil fuel combustion is included? Almost every researcher that acknowledges there is a serious problem ends with a sliver of hope about a five or ten or fifteen year window in which corrective action could be taken to avoid the really serious consequences. On what evidence is this hope based; I have yet to see anything other than hand-waving fantasies presented?
    While the specific research studies may be accurate based on the databases and algorithms used, the assumptions, and the analyses, those who use these results to draw larger conclusions are ‘lying’, from my perspective, by not providing the full context. They are really no different from the bureaucrats in the State Department, the intel agencies, and the DoD who failed to tell the whole story to the public in 2002, when they knew better.

    In terms of the models and the measurements, from my experience in government I find it inconceivable that a problem of this magnitude has such a paucity of measurements in critical areas like methane fluxes, and has models that consistently under-predict the observations. Having done modeling myself, I realize there is much flexibility in what assumptions are made, what phenomena are included, what parameters are chosen, and a host of other actions that can determine the results. I find it inconceivable that the DoD and intel agencies would plan for the future based on the type of models, model results, and measurements that have been reported to the public. I would need to see the models and measurements the intel agencies and DoD are using before commenting further on the inconsistencies that I am seeing in the accuracy of model predictions, the paucity of measurement data, and the gap between the actual severity of the situation and what we are being told.

    We are not getting the full picture of the severity of the climate change problem from the government, and the truth is being covered-up/withheld. You can defend this process all you want, and play semantic games with how we describe it.

  48. 298
    dhogaza says:

    Shorter Superman1 – since “the government” has been known to lie in the past, the “government” and all mainstream climate science researchers must be lying about the severity of upcoming global warming.

    A fair number of denialists say the same thing, and base their conclusion that there’s nothing to worry about on this conspiracy theory.

    Interesting to see someone apply the same logic and derive an equally fallacious, though opposite, conclusion …

  49. 299
    flxible says:

    Superman – Just a quick look finds the Department of Defense is one government voice calling for someone to “collate” the research and observations, maybe you could fill them in on your understanding of it all. Why blame “THE Government” and all scientists for your perception of the political reality of our social/economic structure?
    There are many who communicate their understanding of the situation, starting with Dr Hansen, but also including many others if you look. There is also a big pot of money with an interest in maintaining “profit as usual”. If you know all the details of climate complexity, start writing some papers and make some accurate near-term predictions of the course of the future. Lay out all your insights for the politicians who otherwise can only focus on pleasing their campaign donors. Don’t just holler that “the sky is falling”.

  50. 300
    Chris Korda says:

    @295 Dan Miller worked on the road show for “An Inconvenient Truth,” but tired of Gore’s policy of sugarcoating facts and limiting direness to avoid sowing despair (staying with the “hope budget”). Dan was motivated to make “A REALLY Inconvenient Truth” by his belief that “people like to be told the truth, even if it’s not very pretty.”

    I don’t see why it’s controversial for superman1 to claim that climate science consistently underestimates the rate of change. Climate change is a direct consequence of technological optimism, and our response to it is being determined by that same world-view. In this sense geoengineering is the ultimate business as usual.

    Re Churchill: If only our present leaders were up to the task…

    Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a period of danger … The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences. … We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now. -Churchill, 12 November 1936

    @superman1, what’s up with the references to Gerson Therapy? Are you merely using it as a metaphor for desperation, or are you actually asserting that it can cure cancer?


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