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Unforced Variations: May 2015

Filed under: — group @ 11 May 2015

This month’s open thread.

164 Responses to “Unforced Variations: May 2015”

  1. 151
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    147: Mal Adapted, during those floods I kept checking the 250millibar jetstream and 1000 Mb surface winds. The jetstream was and still is totally haphazard and meandering all over the place at an average windspeed of 64km/h and stuck into a holding pattern. Without the necessary fronts coming through to clear away the humid air coming north from the Gulf of Mexico it just hung around and dumped catastrophic amounts of rain on the South Texan and surrounding states. What I did was study the null school air speed maps and make a prediction as per chance of tornadoes and expected rain fall, then check google earth for cloud and precipitation then wunderground for central south USA and so far every day I’ve been virtually spot on. My conclusion is that this appears to be quite clearly the direct result of global warming slowing the w-e jet stream and a warming gulf of mexico producing more water saturated cloud. What do you think?

  2. 152
    Pete Best says:

    Re #148: No one is saying that it is easy or even truly feasible for that matter for although many commentators suggest that we can replace fossil fuel with renewables or nuclear it does not appear to be all that clear cut. Therefore we need to know the mandate of the IMF and what their assumptions are.

    In my mind assumption number one is this: No one in the west has to give up anything or change their lifestyles in order to get the job done. I can simply mothball a coal fired power station and replace it either a nuclear one, a load of wind turbines or a solar farm.

    Presently fossil fuels make up 85% of global energy requirements and for this to fall significantly economic policies are needed and a lot of political will to put in place the frameworks needed to allow this to occur. the IMF recommendations are a good start and much needed as they are more likely to get listened to and carry a lot of gravitas in what they say and recommend. A whole new breed of companies are not going to spring up and replace fossil fuels, if fossil fuels companies remain as they are then their lobbying power, knowledge of the system and the media mean it wont happen fast enough. What is needed to fossil fuel companies to become energy companies, be given incentives to go for the renewables and make the future a low carbon one.

    There are probably lots of other assumptions and requirements to get this situation taken seriously and get fossil fuels pushed to the side lines if possible. The car industry has a new company Tesla that is producing batteries and electric cars but what we need is the whole car industry doing the same as we do for the entire electricity sector and the aviation industry (not sure if its possible to have aircraft flying on anything but liquids).

    the IMF has a say and its looking promising that they know it is an issue.

  3. 153
    Martin Vermeer says:

    #94 > Forbes has a new denier piece claiming Arctic ice has receded at all from 1979 levels.

    freemike, you’re welcome. The site whose graphic was abused (by deep linking, so as to make damn sure you wouldn’t see any context!) replied to the article here.

    I would second Eric’s remarks, that

    1) adding together Arctic and Antarctic sea ice is nonsense, as the dynamics are so entirely different, and

    2) why take Forbes seriously anyway. Liars will lie.

  4. 154
    Hank Roberts says:

    for Chuck Hughes re popular demand for more electricity in China:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-18/china-war-on-smog-seen-dooming-coal-amid-cheap-but-dirty-purge

    … China’s battle against pollution is threatening the recovery of coal prices from the lowest level in almost nine years.
    Installations of new coal-fired power capacity in the world’s biggest polluter are set to halve as “cheap but dirty” plants get eliminated, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Prices of China’s benchmark power-station coal have tumbled 59 percent from a peak in July 2008, and none of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg predict a recovery.
    China is turning to alternative energy sources as it races to meet emissions targets and eradicate the smog that’s enveloped cities and become a major cause of social unrest….

    Would you rather have more electricity, or less smog?
    So far, once people understand the tradeoff, they back away from the stupid.

  5. 155
    Killian says:

    #142 Hank Roberts said, This constitutes provocation to think, for those interested:

    Rethinking extinction –by Stewart Brand

    Bah. So much myopic analysis as so many are often guilty of. First, says, “What?! Extinction? Pfft!” Then cites trophic cascades as a serious concern. So… trophic cascades don’t lead to extinctions?

    This is bizarre reasoning.

    Before that he simply dismisses rapid climate change. Out of hand. Why? Well, gosh, they’re showing up less in models.

    Brilliant.

    Not.

    Extinctions are already happening at the fastest rate in the fossil record. Um… so it *is happebing*, but is not going to happen.

    Right.

    Brilliant.

    Won’t even bother getting into the risk assessment issues inherent in dismissing long tail risk and an event that is already happening.

    This is NOT the sort of thinking that moves solutions forward. The opposite, in fact. Don’t we have enough denial and poor risk assessment out there?

  6. 156
    Mal Adapted says:

    Lawrence Coleman:

    My conclusion is that this appears to be quite clearly the direct result of global warming slowing the w-e jet stream and a warming gulf of mexico producing more water saturated cloud. What do you think?

    Well, I’m not a scientist ;^), which is why I come here (and consult other primary sources): to find out what actual scientists think. What I think is that no individual extreme events can definitely be attributed to AGW, but that AGW has definitely shifted the probability ranges for their occurrence. We’ve all heard it said:

    AGW loads the dice.

    That’s good enough for me.

  7. 157
    Killian says:

    #131 Tom Adams, …Vox (David Roberts) v. Romm…

    Roberts estimation that we are likely to exceed 2C may be correct, but that is a sideshow, not his main thesis. He thinks climate change activism should shift to adaptation to a much hotter world. But such adaptation has even less sociopolitical support than does the 2C goal…

    Concerning the sociopolitical issues (1) even Roberts thinks 2C is not that expensive, so the socio part is actually not that hard to overcome. (1) Concerning the political, Europe it already overcoming that, China and the US just made a deal. China+Europe+US is half the emissions. This is leadership for the rest of the world…

    The problem here is the “politcal” aspect. I’ve said many times a governmental system based on growth, requiring growth, cannot beget a sustainable system. The logic is inescapable. Diamond indicates to us simplification is the only path out of overshoot and collapse. How does a growth-requiring system do that? Rhetorical.

    The problem in all this discussion of why this or that get done is it all centers on governments. Which cannot solve the problem, cannot be the answer. It’s a bit like trying to solve 2+2, but using 2+3.

    Drop governments out of the equation and things get much simpler. Which is the goal. Hmmm… Ain’t that convenient?

    The best we can expect of governments is to take what they will give opportunistically to create what will replace them. But be assured that is a minor part of the equation, not the primary equation.

    The key, in terms of leveraging gov’ts and resources they manage that we can use to bridge to simplicity, is going to be debt forgiveness. More accurately, eradication. Poof! Gone! And before you say that’s impossible, remember it used to be the way of rather complex societies, specifically those related to biblical populations.

    Do a quick thought experiment: Drop all financing out of the equation, all buying and selling. Just imagine things moving around because they need to. Before your knee-jerk reaction, just run through it in your mind. You go work in the garden because people are hungry. You go to your shift in the shoe factory because shoes are *needed* (not wanted) somewhere. Etc.

    Not communism. This isn’t a political system or an economic system. Just need-based production.

  8. 158
    Mblanc says:

    RE #148

    I’m happy to be corrected, but is this relevant to the discussion on the phase out of fossil fuels?

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/27/3662681/chinas-coal-use-peaked/

    Now Romm might be too optimistic, as he acknowledges in the post, but is it possible that the Torygraph (a right wing paper whose climate writers include Christopher Brooker and James Delingpole) has a point.

  9. 159
    Russell says:

    re 131 & 155:
    “[ climate ] adaptation has even less sociopolitical support than does the 2C goal…”

    How would those levels differ had adaptation had the benefit of as much sociocultural drum beating and film production as decarbonization over the two generations since Earth Day’s 1970 debut ?

  10. 160
    SecularAnimist says:

    Stewart Brand stopped making sense a long time ago.

  11. 161
    Edward Greisch says:

    159 Russell: I see your web site is wattsupwiththat. Enough said.

    [Response: Actually, it’s vvattsupwiththat (double ‘v’, not ‘w’). – gavin]

  12. 162
    Chuck Hughes says:

    The car industry has a new company Tesla that is producing batteries and electric cars but what we need is the whole car industry doing the same as we do for the entire electricity sector and the aviation industry (not sure if its possible to have aircraft flying on anything but liquids).

    the IMF has a say and its looking promising that they know it is an issue.

    Comment by Pete Best — 30 May 2015 @ 3:50 AM

    Just to be clear, I’m not trying to poo poo any good news or positive efforts. And I agree, getting the aircraft industry to transition over to anything other than liquid fuels would be extremely difficult. Although I did see on the news today that a solar aircraft is making its way around the world. We haven’t been in the air all that long so I think there will be some amazing advancements in aircraft and the flying industry in the near future. Given enough time we will figure it out. I drive a Chevy Volt and the technology for the new 2016 models is already way better according to what I’m reading. I’m even supporting Pope Francis!!! NOBODY saw that one coming.

    Right now on a warm day our Volt battery says it has up to 45 miles in stored energy. During the Winter that number drops to 25 miles. Temperature has a dramatic effect on how much the battery can store. I hope they were able to address this problem. However the number of available miles is never accurate. The end result is you never really know when you’re completely out of gas/battery because the two work together. Also the car is mostly plastic with very little in the way of protection other than airbags. Still a long way to go.

    It all comes down to time and human will. I think it’s gonna be close. We are living in “interesting times.”

  13. 163

    “A whole new breed of companies are not going to spring up and replace fossil fuels…”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/05/unforced-variations-may-2015/comment-page-4/#comment-630830

    Respectfully disagree with you there, pete–several breeds of companies not only “are going” to spring up, they already have done so, with more coming. That’s why/how we are currently adding tens of gigawatts of renewable power every year to the global energy mix– ~80 GW for 2013, the year of the most recent REN21 report:

    http://www.ren21.net/Portals/0/documents/Resources/GSR/2014/GSR2014_KeyFindings_low%20res.pdf

    It’s not where we need to be, yet, but it’s much closer than anyone would have dared to hope 10 years ago.

    The problem with the fossil companies, I think, is that even now the returns they are getting are too good compared with the hard work they would have to do to transform their businesses completely. It’s like a substance addiction, in many ways. Many of the oil majors have dabbled with renewables, but none have demonstrated a really serious commitment yet, and most have backed away from those businesses, as BP has visibly done.

    Coal is another story; to use a boxing metaphor, they aren’t out, or even down yet, but they are on the ropes and getting pummeled pretty thoroughly just now. A popular stock advisor says:

    “The Zacks Industry Rank, which relies on the same estimate revisions methodology that drives the Zacks Rank for stocks, currently puts the coal industry at 220 out of 258 industries in our expanded industry classification. This puts the industry in the lower third of all industries, corresponding to a negative outlook.”

    One of the most iconic, Peabody, has 1-year returns of -78% just now. Ouch! Now, that’s a mercenary incentive to divest!

  14. 164
    Russell says:

    Edward Greisch can take comfort in the quality of double V-free WUWT’s latest coal research.