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Unforced Variations: Feb 2013

Filed under: — group @ 4 February 2013

This month’s open thread on climate science…

421 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Feb 2013”

  1. 101
    Chris Dudley says:

    WHT (#99),

    He mistakenly mentions nuclear power so it must be OT.

  2. 102
    Dan H. says:

    I think you meant 2004 in your previous post. I do not think most observers would say that global warming has stopped. The most frequent terminology I have heard is a “pause”. Although some people like to “cherry-pick” certain dates, E\even this most recent decade does not affect the long term rate of 0.6C/century since 1880.

  3. 103
    Dan H. says:

    You forgot to add the spin that “this would suggest that the global average sea surface temperature anomaly might have actually cooled in January.” What surprised me most was the high NH anomaly, considering the recent cold in Asia and Canada. I expected the SH anomaly to be the highest for Jan.

  4. 104
    Hank Roberts says:

    Thanks for the pointer to the Slate piece by Ray Pierrehumbert

    Temporarily cheap and abundant gas buys us some respite—which we should be using to put decarbonized energy systems in place. It will only do us good if we use this transitional period wisely.

    Yep. Are flaws he points out in the published cornucopian work written up in any of the science journals? Seems like retraction would be appropriate if they make claims of academic correctness. If they’re just PR spin, just call’em as bogus.

  5. 105
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Sorry that a tweet did not come with footnotes for people. – gavin]

    Now there’s a programming opportunity awaiting some clever coder:
    Write code for “Twitter Scholar” — with footnotes.

  6. 106
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan H.”…the long term rate of 0.6C/century since 1880.”

    Except there are clear breakpoints at several years on that interval–most notably ~1945 and ~1975. But, hey Dan, why let the facts stand in the way of a good narrative.

  7. 107
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ray, there’s nobody home at that address.

  8. 108
    Tom Adams says:

    #42 The notion that the US is meeting GHG goals is fishy. I my opinion, the real news is that we have been ramping up fracking for decades and the EPA has yet to measure (much less regulate) the GHG emmission.

    “ZAKARIA: The single biggest reason for the decline of CO2 emissions in the United States or the decline in the grade of increase has been the substitution of natural gas instead of coal. Because of fracking, natural gas has become cheap enough that we’re replacing coal. In fact, we are now doing better than the European Union in terms of meeting Kyoto-like targets. I’ve heard you on the subject, and it feels to me like you’re still very, you’re on the fence on the issue of fracking. And shouldn’t you be more fully in favor of it with regulations and with protections because it is almost everywhere replacing coal and that is a big net plus in terms of CO2 emissions?

    GORE: Well, we have to be careful in measuring the global warming impact of the strategies that we choose. If you look at the latest satellite pictures of North America, there’s a new ball of light as large as Chicago in rural North Dakota. What is that from? It’s from the flaring of gas in the fracking operations. The amount of leakage of methane, along with the flaring, which presumably can be stopped, but it’s not being stopped. The leak — each molecule of methane is 70 times as powerful as a molecule of CO2 over the short term. 10, 20 years or so and then it degrades to CO2 and water. But methane leakage may is – may now be occurring in sufficient quantities to outweigh the global warming advantages of switching from gas to coal. So, I think that the fracking story needs to be written carefully.”

  9. 109
    Dan H. says:

    So true. That is why I do not cherry pick particular intervals of higher, nor lower temperature changes. The interval from 1945 – 1975 was a period of global cooling (-0.2C/century), but it is not representative of the last 130+ years. While the most recent decade shows simillar results, it too, is not neccessarily representative of the whole.

  10. 110
    MARodger says:

    Dan H. @102 or @109.
    Given Dr Spencer PhD does not measure SST and January’s SST will only be available a couple of weeks after he wrote “I have not checked to see“, and given ocean TLT that he would have been able to access have likely not “actually cooled in January” as he suggested they might but instead (according to RSS data) actually risen; given all this, I read Spencer’s comments less as spin and more as the words of somebody increasingly troubled and unable to say anything sensible. You yourself might not be in the best position to judge, but take it from me, when people are driven to spout nonsense it is often a symptom of denialism.

  11. 111
    MartinJB says:

    Dan H,

    What value do you think there is in your “0.6C/century” mantra? Do you think it has any relevance for the next century? Do you think it illuminates underlying physical processes in any way?

  12. 112
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan H., And yet 2005 and 2010 are tied as the hottest years on record, despite neither being a very impressive El Nino, and all but one of the 10 hottest years on record.

    eppure riscalda

  13. 113
    Dan H. says:

    Yes. Once all the oscillatory movement has been removed (solar, ENSO, etc.), the remaining trend has been very consistent for a century and a quarter. Without a significant change in climate forcings, I see no reason why this coming century will deviate in any way.
    Individual years are irrelevant in the long run. Read again what I wrote about cherry picking.

  14. 114
  15. 115
    Dave Peters says:

    David G. (# 88) asserts that “when the current surface temp warming plateau runs its course” and “temps begin to ramp up in earnest,” the minimalists will be set to warring, while MAR (# 96) responds by noting one of several indications that the bumps on our plateau nevertheless make evident a very high energy state. I think of the greater than a full degree F. leap in record heat for the continental US last year, and the round fraction of post-’07 remaining Arctic sea ice which melted. Dan (# 102) does not believe most observers believe warming has stopped, but maybe “paused,” but is taken to task by Ray (# 102) for avoiding mention of the “break points,” 1945 and 1975. Not to mention another inflection near the turn of the century.

    It is this circumstance which prompted me to mention, up thread (@ # 48) what I thought was a remarkable speculation contained at the conclusion of a very detailed (and difficult) paper by Dr. Mann and Dr. Park, where they looked at the unusual patterns exhibited by the ENSO events which occurred AT THE INFLECTION POINTS. It is not the very challenging read that I commend to this discussion, but rather the import of the concluding speculation: What if, David’s “ramp up” begins in 2025? And further, can we say anything, it being 2013, about those key prior “breaks”?

    I am loath to put any words in the author’s mouth, but given that that paper was written in 1999, the sense of the concluding discussion was that a 1945-analogue inflection was not so much a matter of if, but when. They implicitly anticipated what we now witness. That is, that the putative mechanism they were exploring, whereby the ocean could stealthily absorb perturbation energy via a deepening of warmed surface waters for as much as a couple/three decades, and then shift to a “reequilibration mode”, again on a multi-decadal time scheme, whereby the stored energy would be released to the surface, the air, and to our instruments and consciousness.

    If in fact that thirteen year old speculation is still valid, my initial thinking is that I’d sell out any long positions in Miami Beach high rises.

  16. 116
  17. 117
  18. 118
  19. 119
    Chris Dudley says:

    I think that raypierre should be a little more careful about oil shale and its potential to do damage. He brings up the ratio energy returned on energy invested which might be around 4 for oil shale that needs to be cooked like the Green River shale. But it is a tricky ratio to work with. Thin film solar is getting to a ratio of 100 units back for every unit of energy put in to produce it. A system that used solar power to cook the shale then would have a return of 400 units for every unit put in to build it. That is like the days of gushers and John Wayne movies in terms of energy return. First Solar is producing panels at a cost of $0.67 per Watt and has further to go on efficiency which should get them down further.

    Cheap abundant renewable energy might just enhance the rate at which we can scrape the bottom of a very deep fossil carbon barrel.

  20. 120
    MartinJB says:

    So, Dan H, can you show us where you’ve accounted for these “oscillatory movements” and found a consistent linear trend left over? I think a couple of the links that Hank “the great searcher” Roberts has brought to light (for those who weren’t there in the first place) rather put your claims in doubt. I, for one, find them tiresome and naive. Perhaps it’s time you put some serious scholarship behind them.

  21. 121
    Hank Roberts says:

    That’s “Hank ‘weak emulation of a Librarian’ Roberts” please. Your local library can help you far better.

    Look it up!

  22. 122
  23. 123
    MARodger says:

    Dave Peters @115.

    I fail to see what allowed you (and it makes no difference how loathed you were to put any words in the author’s mouth (sic)) to take a section of narrative from Park & Mann 1999, a section shot through with words like ‘hypothetical,’ like ‘speculative’, and then to state that the “sense … was not so much a matter of if, but when.” Perhaps you could explain?

    I could speculate myself. Perhaps you see the 13 year-old Park & Mann 1999 as in some way prescient given all the blabber we hear today about a “pause” in the warming, a “pause” often said to be demonstrated with surface temperatures over the last X years showing no statistically significant rise. If this is so, do be warned (and there are many who ignore this warning); the words “statistically significant” are both of them there for a reason. Their presence makes the demonstration of “pause” less than convincing.

  24. 124
    Fred Magyar says:

    Chris Dudley@119,

    “Cheap abundant renewable energy might just enhance the rate at which we can scrape the bottom of a very deep fossil carbon barrel.”

    Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it…

    Fox News Claims Solar Won’t Work in America Because It’s Not Sunny Like Germany

  25. 125
    numerobis says:

    Chris Dudley @119: followibg your argument, you can build solar panels at 100 EROI or gas at 4 EROI. If you then use that energy, you can make solar panels at 10000 EROI or gas at 400. If you use that, you can make solar panels … etc. Gas never catches up on energy terms.

    But normally ROI is determined at a fixed granularity, or else comparison is impossible.

  26. 126

    To use solar energy to process oil shale is mind boggling in scope. If you apply your intuition, consider what it will take to collect solar energy in the form of electricity and then use that electricity to (1) dig out that shale and process it or (2) in situ process the shale via heat and refine something approaching a liquid from the kerogen. And then to deliver it to its destination.

    The fear that Chris Dudley implicitly raises is that is is also possible that we will figure out how to bootstrap the entire oil shale process, whereby we use the energy from the oil shale to “extract itself”. That obviously is the case with crude oil, as all the energy going to extract the oil comes from oil-powered machinery and transportation.

    I think that occurred also in the early days of coal extraction, but at some point the returns start to diminish. Remember that coal is barely refined before it is used.

    That is the most frightening prospect in all this, that well more than half of the hydrocarbon energy becomes a kind of waste heat. This is energy that isn’t necessarily wasted because it is used for processing (see the concepts of EROEI and emergy), but that is essentially wasted as overhead and not directly contributing to propelling the world’s economy.

    Suddenly 80+ million barrels a day turns into 200 million equivalent barrels because 120 million barrels is used to process the 80. And that is just to keep in place with the needs of a growing global economy.

    That leads into Pierrehumbert’s reference to the Red Queen scenario in his Slate article. The Red Queen is about running faster just to keep in place. But oil shale makes it worse, as it turns the Red Queen into a voracious cannibal, while eating any seed corn and feedstock we have left.

    Pierrehumbert states at the end of his article “Temporarily cheap and abundant gas buys us some respite—which we should be using to put decarbonized energy systems in place.”

  27. 127
    Dan H. says:

    There have been many publications regarding the clyclical nature of the recent temperature rise. Whether you agree with the interpretations is a matter of self-reflection, but to deny their existence appears to be prejudicial. Here are a few, many of which have been presented here before:

    Using the GISS data since 1880, the linear trend is 0.595 C/century (CRU is slightly higher – 0.615). Maximum deviations to the positive side from the linear trend occurred around 1944 and 2005, and to the negative side occurred around 1917 and 1976. Current temperatures are only mariginally about the linear trend line. Global temperatures are converger towards the long-term trend line, rather than diverging from it.

    [Response: The widespread assumption that the ability to calculate an ordinary least squares regression is equivalent to understanding a complex system never ceases to amaze. - gavin]

  28. 128
    Hank Roberts says:

    Shorter ‘Dan H.’: Throwing gasoline on the stove won’t cook the eggs faster.

  29. 129
    MARodger says:

    Gavin @126 Response.
    Surely you underestimate the analytical powers of Dan H.. He assures us that the surface temperature record has been a linear trend since 1880 and this bold assertion cannot be unsupported, can it? After all, as Dan H. himself tells us @113, this linearity is evident “(o)nce all the oscillatory movement has been removed (solar, ENSO, etc.)
    The literature is encouraging in that it shows to some extent that the impact of removing “solar” and “ENSO” does reduce wobbles and bendy bits over some of the 1880-2012 record. So I am sure in the fullness of time some clever person, maybe even Dan H. himself, will demonstrate how to remove the impact of “etc.” Indeed, they may even pause long enough to explain what this phenomenon “etc” actually is.

  30. 130
    Tom Adams says:

    YOu can see the light from buring off US fracking gases from space:

    There is no regulation of this pratice. So how can we know that fracking is causing less forcing than coal?

  31. 131
    Jim Larsen says:

    32 Chris D, perhaps he’d have been better to say a “national energy policy that actually addresses climate change”?

  32. 132
    Jim Larsen says:

    39 Windchaser,

    yep, the REAL answer is rationing. You get cheap gas/electricity for the bare minimum required for sustaining life in the modern world, and PAY THROUGH THE NOSE for each additional gram of CO2. Worked in WW2. Would work now.

  33. 133
    Jim Larsen says:

    44 Chris D said, ” I’d urge rather gentle punitive tariffs on Chinese imports ”

    While I’d urge rather gentle punitive tariffs on US exports by all other nations for EXACTLY the same reason.

  34. 134
    Jim Larsen says:

    51 SecularA totally destroys reality by saying, “The US wind energy industry had its strongest year ever in 2012 … installing a record 13,124 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity”

    When in FACT the quote translates to:

    ” In 2012 the US wind energy industry had yet another abysmal year, with a MERE 13 gigawatts of capacity out of 1000 gigawatts. (and those 13 are inflated by the fact that wind capacity and wind production are about half an order of magnitude off.) And since wind energy only lasts 20 years or so, the current production is such a yawner and so insignificant as to be only mentionable by those who try to cover up the truth – that the US has no reasonable energy policy and is doing absolutely nothing to prevent climate catastrophe.”

    Dude, you need to learn about orders of magnitude….

  35. 135
    Jim Larsen says:

    60 SecularA said, “That’s rather more than “ZERO” fossil fueled power plants going off line, Edward.”

    But you gave ZIP, ZERO, NADA evidence that ANY of the closings had ANYTHING to do with wind. Yep, we’ve got a lot of ancient coal plants that MUST be retired. NOPE, that has NOTHING to do with renewables. When something wears out, it wears out. Please give a SINGLE example (I’m sure there is one somewhere) of a SINGLE coal plant that was retired EARLY due to wind production.

  36. 136
    Killian says:

    28 wili says: I’m also wondering about methanogenic bacteria that may be taking advantage of these ice-free regions.

    Seems I read something out of U of Alaska on methanogenesis and CO2/CH4 emissions. Basically, it’s both a positive feedback in releasing both, but a bit of a hysteresis effect in terms of converting CH4 to CO2, thus perhaps delaying impact of thaw. I remember thinking I doubt it works as strongly in the wild as it did in the lab. Found this on the subject:

    Also, some assumptions about methane getting to the atmosphere via clathrates seem optimistic given all the bubbles in the Arctic these days.

    29 Ray Ladbury says: but being sure in the absence of evidence is not a good thing.

    Certainly true about negative feedbacks when the evidence is primarily at the high end of expectations and models. While more people are alarmed about CH4 these days given the last seven years of melt, most scientists don’t seem overly concerned over time frames less than at least some decades. However, at least those of us alarmed about it have those high end real world results to bolster our concern something devastating this way comes on relatively short time scales. Simple logic does help in analysis and problem-solving. With decade on decade warming being obvious in the record, being “sure” CO2-forced warming has stopped or is non-existent doesn’t give one’s analysis much credence.

    39 Windchaser says: 2, The higher gas prices are largely a result of recent industrialization in Brazil, India, and China.

    Except that new yearly average highs have been set virtually every year from 2004 on, while production has been flat during that time, and even greater production the last year has failed to significantly reduce prices. Interestingly, until 2005 the oil industry had always been able to meet demand to manipulate prices. It has shown zero ability to do that in the last seven years. But, hey, it’s got nothing to do with supply or EROEI.

    Pierre gets it right, IMO: Charlie H says: Slate has just published an article by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert on oil abundance:

    41 David B. Benson says: Mark Shapiro @40 — Modis states 1 km. I assume that is 1 km per cm.

    Actually, that is pixel size. This one is 250M pixel size, which makes it a pretty big floe. Of course, it could be they are using “pixel” in a way unfamiliar to me, but I doubt it.

    42 Brett Davidson says: Kevin (#18) and Chris (#32)… How sure can we be that we’re on the right path? Or perhaps there’s no good way of knowing?

    I’d argue since we are speaking of natural systems, which we have dramatically damaged by imposing human “solutions”, that we look to natural principles to fix… natural stuff. The application of specific design principles derived from observation of natural systems consistently seems to avoid the many pitfalls we create with a tech/complexity response.

    I.e., yes, there seem to be simple solutions all but a tiny fraction of people are currently aware of and interested in. A simple demonstration of maximizing natural potential:

    This set of principles is not commonly accepted at this time, but are increasingly supported by research. For example, Bill Mollison wrote his Designers Manual back in the early ’80s, and soil biology and the importance of it is taught in permaculture courses as a matter of fact, not speculation, yet here is a recent Australian show on the “new” understanding of the complexity of soil biology! Knowable always precedes provable. Given rate of change in climate and ecosystem degradation, people need to get comfortable with this or climatic changes will rapidly exceed our ability to respond – assuming they haven’t already.

    119 Chris Dudley says: Thin film solar is getting to a ratio of 100 units back for every unit of energy put in to produce it.

    I’d have to see the accounting on that. Sounds extremely high for a product that hasn’t been in the environment long enough to know how long it will last or how effective it will be long term.

    A system that used solar power to cook the shale then would have a return of 400 units for every unit put in to build it.

    Nope. You are only replacing the electricity-driven aspects of production. All the other portions would remain in the FF realm. Thing about oil, it is incredibly fungible; solar and/or electricity, not so much. As someone pointed out above, you’d basically need an entirely new infrastructure to replace oil in the process. And, again, the effects of fracking, water consumption, etc., are not addressed by using solar – not to mention the effects of using all that oil in the first place. Jevons’ Paradox, indeed.

  37. 137
    MartinJB says:

    But Dan H, the fact that you can site various publications positing cyclicalities ranging from 60 years to 80 years does not mean that a naive linear trend has any worth in this context.

    Please synthesize it for us. Which of the various cyclical signals do you find most credible (or is this just spaghetti on the wall?), and what is its physical interpretation? More importantly, how, after we subtract out this hypothetical periodic factor, do we get a predictive 0.6C/century trend given KNOWN changes to climate forcings such as greenhouse gasses and aerosols over the past 100+ years?

    It seems to me that the only way one can buy in to your linear trend having any worth is to ignore known physics.

  38. 138
    Jim Duster says:

    I have a goal to help people “relate” to climate change through a one page comic panel.

    Thought ya’ll that read this blog might like my Kickstarter project around an Environmentally sensitive comic strip.
    Jim Duster, Austin, TX
    Project url:

  39. 139
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    I thought I’d share with you some recent developments in my neck of the woods as I reflect on the current record blizzard in the US.
    Since I last wrote Australia had posted it’s hottest year on record coming out from a seeminly never ending record drought especially in SE Queensland where I am situated. Then we had record flooding to large parts of the state last month courtesy of a ‘small cyclone’ cat.1, which crossed the coast and ran out of legs and just hung around for days dumping metres of rain and +100kms/hr winds on us simultaneouly with record temps and wildfires further south in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. Bundaberg a large town a few hundred kms north from us broke it’s last flood peak by over a metre and submerged around 4000 homes!. Now everyone knows that Australia is a country of extremes but this is taking our extremes to uncharted territories!.
    It seems to me that weather patterns are slowing down so if it’s dry is stays dry a lot longer, conversely if it’s a rain event it will remain in one place as the jet stream winds have either moved elsewhere or are slowing down generally. The extreme cold and blizzard in NE USA is probably due again to a very slow system driven by increased water vapour from a heating altantic ocean. Seems everywhere you look in the world records are tumbling like dominos. Welcome to Climate Change guys!

  40. 140
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    I am about to buy the book by Andrew Guzman “Overheated..The human cost of cliamte change”. I read a review of the book and I believe the salient issues he raises are critically important to our survival. Namely he wonders how the world is going to come together on a volantary basis and create hard guidlines or even hard new laws governing national/global limits of GHG. Taking Australia as one example the incumbent gov has introduces a very unpopular carbon tax on our biggest 400 carbon emitting companies, despite the opposition stating the world will cease to exist upon the implementation of this tax nothing of the sort has happened and inflation has not jumped correspondingly. However the populace hates this tax and will no doubt evict the gov in this September’s fed election. The leader of our fed oppostion does not even acknowledge climate change as real and will reverse this new tax. This is how democracy works and this is why we need a new global system to meet the challenges of CC head on and make dramatic sweeping changes straight away, as I have already mentioned before, the changes should be at 65:35 (CC adaptation: CC mitigation). It’s no good investing the majority of the global funds in mitigation and then to watch city after city going under the waves for lack of funds for adaptation strategies due to the immense inertia and time lag of the climatic system.
    Back to Guzman..he also paints a very bleak picture as early as 2050 if we do not act now. In a nutshell the longer we procrastinate and delay and seek 100% proof and approval for every recommendation the deeper our grave will be. At this very moment it’s going to require a herculean effort to launch ourselves out of the abysse, grappling desperatly at the crumbling edge with our finger nails.

  41. 141
    Bernd Herd says:

    #135 Jim Larsen: “Please give a SINGLE example (I’m sure there is one somewhere) of a SINGLE coal plant that was retired EARLY due to wind production.”

    Probably got something for you here:

    EON in germany planned to replace old coal plants going out ouf order for age in January 2013 by a new coal plant called “Staudinger 6″, but gave up this plan due to:
    “the current economical situation caused by the move to renewable energy does not give the company sufficient security in the investment”.,1472866,20879144.html

    Another source says:

    “Due to the solar boom the plant would not pay off”.

    It is not neccessary that they “retired EARLY”, sufficient not to build new ones.

    There have also been protests, small ones, but since the failures with the nuclear plants I think german investors might take them seriously.

    In 1972-1991 a fast breeder reactor was built in germany, but was cancelled due to strong protests before it ever went critcal.

  42. 142
    Andy Lee Robinson says:

    #136 Killian,

    > You are only replacing the electricity-driven aspects of production
    If only using solar panels, then I’d agree.

    A solar concentrator could generate an awesome amount of energy in any form to anywhere it’s needed using molten salts and I imagine could completely supplant FFs. Primary heat energy can drive the refining process, and derived generated electricity could run everything else, smaller furnaces, motors, fleet charging, light etc, day and night.

    A combination of solar panels and CSP with an electric fleet of mining machinery could “green” the tarsands destruction still further.

    The thought of renewables being “abused” in this way for “FF-less” production of yet more FF is an unsettling irony.

  43. 143
    SecularAnimist says:

    Some recommended reading for those interested in renewable energy:

    Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook
    From Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Business Council on Sustainable Energy

    10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Solar Power Success In Germany
    By Zachary Shahan

  44. 144
    Dan H. says:

    The 60-year cycle appears most credible, as its signal can be seen in the temperature record over the past 133 years. Various publications attribute this to solar influences, while others to atmospheric/oceanic interactions. In realty, it is probably all inter-related. The 0.6C/century trend is not predictive. Rather, it is simply the net result of the observed data. A linear trend is expected from known physics; i.e. that an exponential increase in atmospheric CO2 will yield a linear increase in temperature. I am curious as to what other physics you are referring to in your previous statement.

  45. 145

    #143–Thanks, SA!

  46. 146
    MARodger says:

    MartinJB @137.
    I am of the opinion that you ask too much of Dan H. The upward trend of 0.6ºC/century that Hank R. @117 noted Dan H. has previously asserted is seen in the BEST temperature record doesn’t bear out his 60 year oscillation as was pointed out to him at the time with this graphic. Examining the graphic, if you chop off the pre-1880 data and squint real hard, it still doesn’t. The “signal can be seen in the temperature record over the past 133 years” only if you actually close your eyes. It is then that the “60-year cycle appears most credible.

  47. 147
    Hank Roberts says:

    “… Monckton claims that an “exponential increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration would result in a linear increase in global temperature”. But of course that depends on what the exponent is …. “

  48. 148
    Chris Dudley says:

    WHT (#126),

    I was not really getting at that. raypierre and Charlie Hall were speaking to that. I was saying something quite different.

    A purist (and correct) trajectory switching to renewable energy would have us converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into liquid fuels using either a biocarbon feedstock (H2CAR concept) or directly like the Navy.

    But, while the EROEI for oil shale looks bad, about 4, a combined solar extraction system that uses renewables to cook out that oil has more yield in liquid fuels (for the amount of generation devoted) than the purist approach. That gives the Red Queen a skateboard.

    The energy payback time for a First Solar set up in Southern Europe is a about 0.8 years with about 0.55 years for the modules themselves and the rest for the balance of the system (BoS). So, we are already seeing guaranteed EROEI above 30 in thin film solar. The actual number will be higher since the modules will outlast their guarantees and the BoS gets reused as the modules are eventually replaced. Over time, this can only get more favorable. So, we certainly can ignore the Red Queen race based on EROEI and the race on the climate seems more like smashing into a tree than running on a treadmill.

    We have the energy wherewithal to burn all the fossil carbon there is even when there is only a small energy advantage to doing that, such as for oil shale.

  49. 149
    ozajh says:

    Is anyone currently doing any research into possible changes in the composition (as distinct from quantity) of precipitation in the lands surrounding the Arctic Ocean? It occurs to me that there might be a huge difference between the effects of rain and the equivalent amount of snow on Permafrost.

  50. 150
    Killian says:

    142 Andy Lee Well, we weren’t talking about solar concentrators. I do generally agree they may be better than PV, but I’ve not seen an analysis on this in a long time. Doesn’t matter in the end: neither is actually sustainable as currently practiced. Nothing discussed here is that I’ve read. It all fails the very first requirement: to be endless. Then the second: deal with exponential increases. At least a few people do mention reduced consumption.

    There are solutions that do all three, but you’ll have to live and govern differently. It’s hardly shocking that only a tiny fraction of solutions are realistic about the amount of change needed when the lifestyle needed is regarded as “backwards” and “subsistence” by…. almost everyone.

    Tech ain’t gonna save ya, folks. Please read Tainter and Diamond. Then do some simple multiplication. Sad thing is, this isn’t even slightly hard to understand, yet…

    148 Chris Dudley,

    How deep does that analysis go? From ore to installation and demolition and replacement? And do we have any thin film that’s been out in the real world for, oh, thirty or a hundred years? And just how many people over how many centuries could use this before some critical resource involved runs out?

    If you’re not asking these questions of *everything*, you are not even approaching a discussion about sustainability. Hope this is obvious.

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