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Unforced variations: Oct 2015

Filed under: — group @ 2 October 2015

This month’s open thread. Since most climate related discussion this month will be focussed on the COP21

What is (or should be) the role of climate science in the upcoming negotiations? Discuss.

201 Responses to “Unforced variations: Oct 2015”

  1. 101
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Lewis Cleverdon — 13 Oct 2015 @ 7:25 PM, ~#92

    Lewis, not everyone agrees that biochar is good for soil and sequesters carbon in the soil for very long. For example- http://permaculturenews.org/2010/11/18/beware-the-biochar-initiative/

    Steve

  2. 102

    RC 86: RC: Your numbers are “fudged”

    BPL: Smile when you say that, podner.

  3. 103
    Digby Scorgie says:

    A Coward (#58)

    Changing the message at COP21

    What I had in mind, AC, is for climate scientists to change their message from a nebulous requirement to “cut emissions” to a specific requirement to “cut production of fossil fuel by X% a year for the next Y years”. The former allows politicians too much room to avoid the really difficult but essential action. By contrast, the latter highlights this very action; it also acts as a yardstick against which to measure progress — or the lack thereof.

    It’s all fantasy, of course, but imagine if this specific requirement for cutting fossil-fuel production were widely disseminated. Those not in the denier camp would then know exactly what is required and could compare this with reality. If people saw how fossil-fuel production increased by X amount when it should have decreased by Y amount, they might become exercised enough to force politicians to act. So far, as you say AC, there’s no unified global leadership pushing for this.

    Calculating the rate

    Everybody says we need to stop burning fossil fuels, meaning we have to start cutting production. So I don’t understand, AC, why you think there’s no “rate” for doing so. Regarding my difficulty with this and with the AR5 SPM, I hesitate to expose my ignorance, but I’ll sketch the process:

    From the SPM I find that, for a 50% probability of not exceeding two degrees of warming since the late nineteenth century, anthropogenic emissions must not exceed 4440 Gt of carbon dioxide. From this one must deduct 1430 Gt for sources other than carbon dioxide. That leaves 3010 Gt. But by 2011 a total of 1890 Gt (plus or minus 260 Gt) had already been emitted. That leaves 1120 Gt.

    Next, according to Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre) one must allow about 400 Gt for sources of carbon dioxide other than fossil fuel — such as cement production. That leaves 720 Gt. Our current emissions of carbon dioxide are 36 Gt per year, increasing by 2 or 3% per year. I assume that about 30 Gt of that will be due to fossil fuel — this I deduced from data in “The burning question”.

    Given that the budget of 720 Gt has been reduced by emissions between 2011 and 2015, and assuming it would take a couple of years to induce fossil-fuel producers to start cutting production, I conclude the following: If production is cut by the equivalent of 1 Gt of carbon dioxide per year, then production will be approaching zero by mid-century. And at this rate of decline we’ll just be able to stay within our carbon budget.

    I’m sure my argument is full of holes. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find authoritative information on the subject (without wasting excessive time on internet searches). Anyway, the whole question is moot. It’ll never happen.

  4. 104
    Fred Magyar says:

    86 @ Richard Caldwell — 13 Oct 2015 @ 5:05 AM

    Richard says: ” RC: It seems Mike IS doing his duty by commenting as best he can. (And going to Paris just to add another body would be counter-productive. Airplanes spew lots of carbon.)”

    While jet planes do spew lots of CO2 it isn’t quite as bad as it might seem at first glance, at least when compared to driving your typical ICE automobile.

    A new Boeing 787 jet liner has a per seat fuel economy of 2.50 L/100 km (94 mpg-US). While not great it is certainly a heck of a lot better than your average US car, which is about 24 mpg-US. The 777 which recently transported me to Sao Paulo Brazil gets about 83 mpg-US per seat.

    I’m in Brazil for a 6 month stay during which my car is parked, and here in Sao Paulo I generally walk or take the electric train or Subway.

    For the record my own carbon emissions for fossil fuel powered transport this year including driving and a round trip flight from Miami to Brazil is a little over 5,000 Lbs of CO2. I’m figuring roughly a total of 260 gallons of fuel used, at about 20 lbs of CO2 per gallon of fuel. The average American emitts about double that amount just in driving alone.

  5. 105
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    71 EG: I read that article and another published in science Daily saying that a complete shutdown of the AMOC would cause only roughly 20 years of moderate cooling to the northern hemi and then back to BAU due to CC forcing. So definitely no deep freeze as depicted in D.A.T.

  6. 106
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Edward Greisch: An idea I thought of at school to generate electricity was to use a low voltage electrolysis grid immersed in salt water ie. the ocean to create hydrogen, compress the hydrogen and use the gas to power a hydrogen-electicity turbine. I realise the high bang for your buck factor in hydrogen and wonder if that would be a feasible power source for turbines? On a ship you would use solar cells to power the electrolysis grid and the turbine wattage to power the electrical propeller motors. Just a thought.

  7. 107

    At 103 – Steve –
    as a farmer I didn’t have much respect for the ideology of the permaculture association – in that it starts from a flawed premis of moral superiority and proceeds downhill.
    But the 2010 article you linked capped all previous nonsense I’ve seen from them.
    Its author claims not only that we are facing a global oxygen crisis, and that this would be greatly exacerbated by the pyrolysis of biomass (!) but also conflates the production of bioenergy crops with the production of feedstock for charcoal production.

    If this is the level of critique, being wholly without a rational scientific basis, that “Native coppice forestry for charcoal sequestration” has to face down, so be it.

    Regards,
    Lewis

  8. 108

    At 95 – MA –
    “I suppose this CCS mind-set is fixated by the selling of something while simply burying charcoal would apparently lack tangible customers with cash in their pockets.”

    I don’t see how their conduct is explained by a fixation on selling something as they propose pumping CO2 down a hole, rather than producing charcoal that can be sold to farmers worldwide. I doubt this would cover the whole costs, not least since it can function as a soil fertilizer and soil moisture regulator most effectively in poor tropical soils, where farmers tend to have less wealth to be able to invest in their land’s improvement.

    But it would certainly be partly self-funding from the farmer’s purchases, and there is a strong potential for revenue from the sale of coproduct methanol, and from businesses having to offset their phase-out CO2 emissions, and at some point from Govts agreeing to sequester their historic emissions to avoid the loss of the oceans’ ecosystems. Together these surely offer far better commercial prospects than pumping coal-sourced CO2 down a hole.

    IIRC I first heard of “Clean Coal” via CCS back in the ’70s in the UK, and it seems no nearer being more than just a PR tool now than it was then. CCS may be useful for “enhanced oil recovery” if oil prices go back up but that merely gets a bit more energy per unit of CO2 released – and is certainly no kind of solution.

    Regards,
    Lewis

  9. 109
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Digby (#103),
    In coming up with this rate of 1 GtCO2/yr, you concluded from the WG1 SPM that “one must deduct 1430 Gt for sources other than carbon dioxide”. Yet the SPM clearly states “when accounting for non-CO2 forcings as in RCP2.6”. This value is of course no trifling matter as this amount is well over twice your budget for future CO2 emissions for fossil fuels. And RCP2.6 in only one of many paths to get to the same outcome.
    Now if you are going to use RCP2.6 figures, why not simply use RCP2.6 instead of devising your own timetable for emissions cuts? You would avoid undue reliance on Kevin Anderson’s opinion as well as any misconceptions you might have or mistakes you might make.
    RCP 2.6 cuts CO2 emissions attributable to “fossil fuels and industry” from 34.06 GtCO2/yr in 2020 to 26.24 in 2030 and 16.63 in 2040 (RCP database 2.0.5). This 2020 peak being already overshot, if one adjusts the initial rate of cuts to compensate, I think you will see that the rate of emissions cuts matches yours fairly closely.
    Note that following RCP2.6 in the latter half of the 21th century would be unnecessary to reach your stated goal as the probability of >2C warming compared to 1850-1900 under that scenario would likely begin to drop under 50% (see the full WG1, table 12.3). Also, there might be reasonable ways to limit warming during a few decades in order to compensate for a small delay in emissions cuts compared to RCP2.6 or for continued use of a modest amount of fossil fuels. But as you say, “the whole question is moot”.
    So what’s the point of picking such an unrealistic goal?
    There is a number of worthwhile goals, and a number of strategies to reach each one. There is no rate at which the world “must” somehow cut emissions. Choosing a goal and a strategy is not a scientific but a political matter. Scientists may point to ideal or safe targets (such as Hansen’s 350 ppm CO2) but we’re way past that and into tradeoff territory.

    You wrote that “if people saw how fossil-fuel production increased by X amount when it should have decreased by Y amount, they might become exercised enough to force politicians to act”. But this isn’t a hypothetical! People have already seen the emissions targets agreed upon at Kyoto in 1997 overshot by many countries. I’m no fan of Kyoto but it had more weight than a recommendation penned by a bunch of scientists… yet when so many governments decided to ignore it, the kind of outcry you’re counting on didn’t take place.
    So really, what would be the point of setting up yet another set of unrealistic goalposts? I’d much, much rather see governments agree on something binding that might actually be achieved, complete with an agreed-upon process following non-compliance including measures that compliant governments may be empowered to implement.

  10. 110
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Richard Caldwell #86,
    You ask: “What future “non-guaranteed” advance in science would help the situation?”
    Massively reducing the uncertainty on SLR and local impacts.
    Predicting that some people are at some point going to lose lots of money to CC impacts is one thing. Predicting who is going to lose much more than others is quite another. That would among other things get quite a bit of lobbying power behind mitigation.

    Also, in response to your “clearly stating to the public what the science says sans politicians’ influence”, some scientists seem to be influenced by money instead and somehow seem to have an easier time being heard by the public. Just like politicians, minus the accountability… be careful what you wish for.

  11. 111
    Edward Greisch says:

    99 Kevin McKinney: It currently takes China 4 years to build a nuclear power plant and they are building 25 right now. We have 6 reactor types certified for factory production. 5 more are under review for factory production certification and more are in line to get into that que.

    There are plenty of unemployed people around to fill all of those jobs in construction and reactor operations. We have closed a lot of college programs in nuclear engineering, but other countries have started nuclear engineering programs. Engineers and scientists in other fields would require only minimal training to switch to nuclear engineering.

    “Potential for Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by Nuclear Energy in Three Decades Based on Extrapolation of Regional Deployment Data
    http://econintersect.com/a/blogs/blog1.php/potential-for-worldwide-displacement-of
    by Staffan A. Qvist and Barry W. Brook
    Published: May 13, 2015 – DOI: 10.1371/joural.e.0124074
    Abstract
    There is an ongoing debate about the deployment rates and composition of alternative energy plans that could feasibly displace fossil fuels globally by mid-century, as required to avoid the more extreme impacts of climate change. Here we demonstrate the potential for a large-scale expansion of global nuclear power to replace fossil-fuel electricity production, based on empirical data from the Swedish and French light water reactor programs of the 1960s to 1990s. Analysis of these historical deployments show that if the world built nuclear power at no more than the per capita rate of these exemplar nations during their national expansion, then coal- and gas-fired electricity could be replaced worldwide in less than a decade.”

    Tom Murphy’s disclaimer was, in my opinion, written out of the usual scientific shyness and reticence. True that there are many batteries of different types under research right now, but they are all limited to about 3 electron volts per atom reacted. Nuclear fission gets you 185 million electron volts per atom reacted.

    All of that “nuclear waste” is spent fuel waiting to be recycled back into new fuel. We know how to do it and reactors that can use that recycled fuel are commercially available. 18 countries have commercial uranium mines and many more could if the price of uranium went up.

    100 Kevin McKinney: I do not get much information from the World Nuclear Association except occasional fact sheets. I get most of my information from having taken a B.S. degree in physics from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1968, from having worked in the Army’s lead lab for nuclear weapons effects, from graduate school in several places, from a Coursera.org course in nuclear reactor engineering, and from books such as “Plentiful Energy, The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, 2011. You can download this book free from: http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/pdfs/PlentifulEnergy.pdf. Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, are former directors of the nuclear power research lab at Fermi Lab, which is the national laboratory near Chicago. It used to be called Argonne National Lab. Get another free book from: http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/prescription-for-the-planet.html

  12. 112
    Hank Roberts says:

    Nukeeeeeeeessss

    Please. Not here. You know better.

  13. 113
    SecularAnimist says:

    The moderators of this site have repeatedly stated that discussion of non-fossil-fuel electricity generation technologies is OFF TOPIC for these comment pages, and have repeatedly asked commenters to refrain from such discussions and focus on the topic of this site, which is climate science.

    Out of appreciation, gratitude and respect for the information and the discussion forum provided by our hosts, I do my best to abide by their repeated requests. There are many other forums on the Internet where discussion of energy technologies is appropriate and welcomed, and in some cases moderated by experts in related fields.

    Unfortunately, some frequent commenters here repeatedly ignore the moderators’ requests, and choose to post lengthy, off-topic diatribes promoting nuclear power and attacking wind and solar energy with nonsense and falsehoods, as though renewable energy technologies are an “enemy” that must be defeated.

    Indeed, one such commenter has accused me personally of being “paid by the Koch brothers” to promote “windmills” — simply because I posted a link to an article on renewable energy — and has repeatedly insulted and attacked other commenters who criticize his posts.

    Presumably because they have better things to do than to babysit rude and boorish trolls, the moderators have allowed those comments to stand.

    Perhaps those comments have some value in demonstrating the wisdom of the moderators’ rule that discussions of nuclear, solar, wind and other energy technologies are OFF TOPIC HERE.

  14. 114
    Hank Roberts says:

    When two methods of reasoning give two different answers

    , we have a paradox. Here are three responses to a paradox:

    — The very fundamentals of mathematics must be incomplete, and this problem reveals it!

    — I’m right, and anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot!
    — I have the right answer for one interpretation of the problem, and you have the right answer for a different interpretation of the problem.

    If you’re Bertrand Russell or Georg Cantor, you might very well uncover a fundamental flaw in mathematics; for the rest of us, I recommend Response 3.

  15. 115
    Ric Merritt says:

    Since Edward Greisch has delivered a lengthy comment advocating n*****r power, perhaps I may be permitted to demur a bit: although China may be building a few dozen plants right now, I would not use as a model (except in a negative way) a nation that has to shut down their capital province for weeks just to make the air minimally breathable for Olympic promotional purposes, a nation that is notorious for gruesomely mis-allocating capital, for example to build large empty cities, a nation whose own people won’t trust store-bought milk for their children because unscrupulous sellers sent tens of thousands to hospitals with melamine poisoning. Just a bit of corner-cutting going on there, in the areas of public safety and thoughtful economic analysis.

  16. 116
  17. 117
    mmghosh says:

    Now this was a bad PR move.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/french-weatherman-philippe-verdier-sparks-anger-over-book-questioning-climate-change-a6695726.html

    Philippe Verdier is entirely wrong with his familiar denialist tropes, but the sacking only gives ammunition to those who go on about “closing down debate”.

    Le Monde has the right approach of simply debunking his errors.

    http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/10/12/climat-les-mises-en-cause-erronees-de-philippe-verdier_4787865_4355770.html

  18. 118
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Lewis Cleverdon — 15 Oct 2015 @ 3:51 AM, ~#107

    Lewis, silver bullets are rarely as shiny as they initially seem. Here is another opinion piece- http://www.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/04/soil-carbon-science

    And, had you spent a few minutes you could have found the peer reviewed research. A few examples-
    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yan_Ding2/publication/236228565_Global_Charcoal_Mobilization_from_Soils_via_Dissolution_and_Riverine_Transport_to_the_Oceans/links/553e61ee0cf210c0bdaa5963.pdf

    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Susana_Loureiro/publication/265609648_Potential_risk_of_biochar-amended_soil_to_aquatic_systems_an_evaluation_based_on_aquatic_bioassays/links/54198e2a0cf25ebee9886e02.pdf

    http://eprints.nwisrl.ars.usda.gov/1548/1/1502.pdf

    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Romain_Lefevre/publication/260406964_Effect_of_physical_weathering_on_the_carbon_sequestration_potential_of_biochars_and_hydrochars_in_soil/links/004635350d72284693000000.pdf

    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Atanu_Mukherjee/publication/261249501_The_biochar_dilemma/links/0a85e53a9c995e17b5000000.pdf

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0146638014000382

    My takeaway from my own reading is that this issue is promising but quite complicated, and will require a lot more research, more expensive processing of the biochar, and possible problems if you want to both sequester carbon and grow crops in the same dirt. As, I am sure you already know, you have to have some dots before you can connect them.

    Steve

  19. 119
    Digby Scorgie says:

    A Coward (#109)

    Well, I did say my calculations were probably full of holes! (I never saw the RCP2.6 data you quote.) But the essential point I’m trying to put across is that emissions are intangible — they mean nothing to ordinary people. That’s why I advocate talking about tonnes of coal and barrels of oil — quantities of fossil fuel. That is tangible — that is something people can relate to.

    However, I’ve now lost interest. The only thing you’ve convinced me of, AC, is that my idea is stupid. I’m just wasting my time and everybody else’s time. So I’ll say no more on the subject.

  20. 120
    Killian says:

    #107 Lewis Cleverdon said, as a farmer I didn’t have much respect for the ideology of the permaculture association – in that it starts from a flawed premis of moral superiority and proceeds downhill.

    What association? There isn’t one other than some local group that might use that term. Do you mean some global entity that doesn’t even exist? There is a group in England that uses that name, but they do not represent permaculture, only themselves.

    Your use of the term “ideology” leads me to believe you have a poor understanding of permaculture as it is not an ideology in any way. A set of design principles and a design process in no way equal an ideology.

    Finally, argumentation by assertion is a logical fallacy. What moral superiority? There is no moral basis in permaculture. Principles are not ideology nor morality. A design process, the same.

    But the 2010 article you linked capped all previous nonsense I’ve seen from them.

    A serious case for bias is developing here: The article is on PRI’s web site, but is not written by a permaculturist, but by a scientist, a rather extensively published one, but, not a permaculturist so far as I can find in Dr. Ho Hae-won’s 44-page CV.

    Why would you assume it’s written by a permie without checking?

    If this is the level of critique, being wholly without a rational scientific basis, that “Native coppice forestry for charcoal sequestration” has to face down, so be it.

    Given the terra preta soils we know of, I’m highly skeptical of any finding bio-char is as negative as seems tha paper states. I’d look to a systems analyst and permaculturist like Albert Bates – who has quite an impressive resume, himself – before a scientist looking at things out of systemic context.

    What I am certain of as regards your disdain for permaculture is this: You are woefully misinformed, and have demonstrated a clear bias. Nothing you said about permaculture was accurate nor was your attribution of that paper to a writer with a background in permaculture. I suppose it has at least something to do with being told your farming methods might not be optimized. You tell me. And, next time, don’t assert, offer evidence.

    Cheers

  21. 121
    Killian says:

    Ed Greisch said All of that “nuclear waste” is spent fuel waiting to be recycled back into new fuel. We know how to do it and reactors that can use that recycled fuel are commercially available.

    You are claiming all fuel is used up in new generation reactors leaving nuclear with zero nuclear waste? That’s what you say here. Perhaps that is not what you meant to imply? If any waste, not a solution. Since it’s unsustainable, anyway, not a solution. Since your point addresses only climate and not resource limits, your arguments are irrelevant until they also include resource limits. Let us all remember the various collapse theorists did their work before the climate issue was so much on the radar. Catton and Limits to Growth both predate climate issues, yet find a collapse this century likely.

    In other words, we were headed for collapse before climate was known to be an issue, and that has not changed. Any “solution” ignoring this is invalid.

    Cheers

  22. 122
    Edward Greisch says:

    “How long does it take to build a nuclear plant? Another look at The Australia Institute”
    http://decarbonisesa.com/2015/08/26/how-long-does-it-take-to-build-a-nuclear-plant-another-look-at-the-australia-institute/

    There is a table of times. Japan can do it in 3.9 years. South Korea can do it in 4 years.

    “The current builds in the US will hover around the current 5.8 year mean.”

  23. 123
    Richard Caldwell says:

    RC 86: RC: Your numbers are “fudged”

    BPL: Smile when you say that, podner.

    RC: :-) I couldn’t come up with a good word, so I had to resort to air quotes.

    Fred Magyar: (94 mpg-US)

    RC: Thanks for the info, Fred. So you’d need to put two people in a Prius to do as well as the most efficient planes. Do you know how much it takes to get to altitude?

    AC: Massively reducing the uncertainty on SLR and local impacts

    RC: Yes. “Hit the brakes hard.” probably won’t prevent us from hitting the wall (though I don’t like the analogy. It’s too binary.) Much of the work needed to accomplish the next level depends on hardware. A faster computer equals a finer grid equals less uncertainty. Perhaps we should invest in supercomputer development instead of climate science in order to help climate science! :-)

    So how much effort should scientists make in outreach? The moderators at this site put in considerable effort. In any case, it isn’t so much time that it would significantly delay advancement. Here’s one idea:

    Have all climate scientists pick their top ten climate scientists based on advancement of understanding of the field. Then run an ad campaign featuring the top 10 or 20 men/women. One ad could show a guy in a globe-suit walking across a giant stack of paper, “This is a stack of all the peer-reviewed research that supports global warming, but I’m going to rely on the support of research which questions it”

    The guy steps off the edge, the camera pans back, and we see two stacks of paper and the guy frozen in mid-fall towards the slim denialist stack. Up pops a narrator, “Joe Smith here. I was voted the third top climate scientist in the world and I predict that’s gonna hurt.”

    AC: some scientists seem to be influenced by money instead and somehow seem to have an easier time being heard by the public. Just like politicians, minus the accountability… be careful what you wish for.

    RC: The filter of a vote by climate scientists would ensure good results.

  24. 124

    Of singular relevance to what scientists should contribute at CoP21 is the commentary by Prof. Kevin Anderson (former Director of the UK “Tyndall Centre)”On the duality of climate scientists:
    … how integrated assessment models are hard-wired to deliver politically palatable outcomes”
    in Nature Geoscience http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2559.html
    (paywalled); pre-edit version can be seen at:
    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/duality-in-climate-science/

    “Brief Abstract:
    The commentary demonstrates the endemic bias prevalent amongst many of those developing emission scenarios to severely underplay the scale of the 2°C mitigation challenge. In several important respects the modelling community is self-censoring its research to conform to the dominant political and economic paradigm. Moreover, there is a widespread reluctance of many within the climate change community to speak out against unsupported assertions that an evolution of ‘business as usual’ is compatible with the IPCC’s 2°C carbon budgets. With specific reference to energy, this analysis concludes that even a slim chance of “keeping below” a 2°C rise, now demands a revolution in how we both consume and produce energy. Such a rapid and deep transition will have profound implications for the framing of contemporary society and is far removed from the rhetoric of green growth that increasingly dominates the climate change agenda.”

    The commentary makes very clear, with detailed quantification, how there is no serious prospect of honouring the 2.0C commitment, or anything near it, under the incremental changes being planned for CoP21. It also lays out the scale of radical govt intervention across the global society that would be required to comply with that commitment, which under present dominant ideologies appears at least equally improbable.

    (From this perspective it appears that the USA under President Obama is once again reneging on its commitments regarding climate destabilization. The lack of serious inquiry into why this should be – given that in this regard the usual suspects’ culpability doesn’t bear scrutiny – is arguably the greatest failure of science journalism to date).

    While Anderson critiques the unwarranted reliance of most mitigation models’ on future ‘negative emissions’ via undefined unproven technologies of the Carbon Recovery mode of Geo-engineering, it is perhaps unfortunate that he abstains from proposing a ‘Plan C’ that could be both politically and climatically sustainable. Such a plan is, rather obviously, going to be needed.

    Yet what he says of the crassly complacent assumptions behind govt’s plans for CoP21 clearly need to be heard in Paris.

    Regards,
    Lewis

  25. 125
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    RE: COP21 (not that this will or could make a scrap of difference)

    Duality in climate science. A new commentary published in Nature Geoscience
    by Kevin Anderson Professor of Energy and Climate Change
    Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

    Available to all, including non-subscribers, via http://rdcu.be/eoQY
    (may not work on phones, iPads, etc)

    DOI:10.1038/ngeo2559 http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2559.html

    A pre-edit is also available at:
    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/duality-in-climate-science/

    Abstract:
    This commentary demonstrates the endemic bias prevalent amongst many of those developing emission scenarios to severely underplay the scale of the 2°C mitigation challenge. In several important respects the modelling community is self-censoring its research to conform to the dominant political and economic paradigm. Moreover, there is a widespread reluctance of many within the climate change community to speak out against unsupported assertions that an evolution of ‘business as usual’ is compatible with the IPCC’s 2°C carbon budgets. With specific reference to energy, this analysis concludes that even a slim chance of “keeping below” a 2°C rise now demands a revolution in how we both consume and produce energy. Such a rapid and deep transition will have profound implications for the framing of contemporary society and is far removed from the rhetoric of green growth that increasingly dominates the climate change agenda.

  26. 126
    Edward Greisch says:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425740/john-kerry-lays-blame-global-warming-syrian-civil-war-tom-s-elliott
    “John Kerry: Global Warming Played a Role in Syrian Civil War”
    ““Now, I’m not telling you that the crisis in Syria was caused by climate change,” Kerry conceded. ”No, obviously, it wasn’t – it was caused by a brutal dictator who barrel bombed, starved, tortured, and gassed his own people.” “But the devastating drought clearly made a bad situation a lot worse,” he said.”

    ?????

  27. 127

    No, Ed, China isn’t ‘currently completing reactors in 4 years.’ They’d hoped to, but Sanmen (APR) is nearing completion 8 years in, and Tianshen (EPR) is nearing completion 6 years in–and facing a serious possible delay over concerns about the reactor vessel.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanmen_Nuclear_Power_Station
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taishan_Nuclear_Power_Plant
    http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1763315/taishan-nuclear-reactors-did-not-receive-most-updated-safety-tests

    “There are plenty of unemployed people around to fill all of those jobs in construction and reactor operations.”

    I hardly think you’re serious. You can’t scoop up random unemployed folk and have them start the next day as, say, steamfitters, much less nuclear plant ops. And if we are talking about 1000 US reactors, that’s about double the current global reactor fleet, so no, there are sufficient foreign trained workers either.

    As for the study you posted–thanks for that link, it was very interesting!–it specifically says that it didn’t address actual constraints in today’s environment, and it also says that it represents a ‘best case.’

    I have nothing against nuclear power. But it’s very clear that it can’t scale nearly fast enough to be the sole solution.

  28. 128
    DrivingBy says:

    @All

    Thx for the answers to my question about population last month. I’m now convinced that naturally declining population is no useful solution to the this issue. I’ve been ill for a while and wasn’t able to respond.

    I think it’s going to be difficult to head this off, as the rest of the world is going to want motorbikes instead of bicycles, cars instead of motorbikes, meat instead of beans and so forth. The USA is a small part of the world’s population and will become a small part of its carbon output. Technological change -may- significantly help matters, but with vast amounts of oil and coal in the ground it’s going to be a tough sell to leave it there.

    It’s been tough to get used to the notion that even though climate change is slow, the effects will happen faster than we can readily adapt to them. It’s possible that the 3rd and subsequent generations from now will dealing with a rather hostile world.

  29. 129
  30. 130
    wili says:

    Fred (at #104), many good points, and thanks for watching your carbon footprint. But I wonder what the likelihood is that you would actually have driven all the way to Sao Paulo from Florida, and done so every year, if it weren’t for the convenience of air travel.

    Comparing a car trip’s emissions to the same trip by air is essentially meaningless if there is no or very little chance that the trip ever would have actually been done by car.

    (And of course, putting more than one person in a car changes the per capita emissions–just as it would if you put only one person in the plane.)

  31. 131
    mike says:

    Drivingby at 128 says: “It’s possible that the 3rd and subsequent generations from now will dealing with a rather hostile world.”

    Droughts, climate refugee migration, resource wars? I think it’s happening now and will only build in intensity. Yes, generations to come will wonder what we were thinking, but the impact is already started and the world seems a little hostile some days.

    Abrupt changes ala Drijfhout anyone? If you only get climate science from real climate, you are getting a very mainstream scientific take on what is happening. This group is full of fine scientists. This group is conservative with predictions and modeling and their skepticism regarding the rate of change or the possibility and impact of tipping points and abrubt change will look bad in the rear view mirror.

    This was recently the case with the slowing of the AMOC. Not a good thing. Dr. Mann and the mainstreamers are playing catchup on that one.

  32. 132
    Edward Greisch says:

    113 SecularAnimist: I would be very happy if you or anyone invented an energy storage system that could store 336 billion kWh of electricity for a year at 80% efficiency, last a century, cost less than a trillion dollars, require less than a billion dollars per year in maintenance, be built in the next 5 years and be made of such abundant materials that every country could have one.

    I would be very happy if you or anybody invented a superconductor that would work at + 65 degrees C in an enormous magnetic field and be cheap enough to reach every part of the globe. Magnetic fields can shut down superconducting. A temperature that is not exceedingly cold shuts down superconducting.

    I would even be somewhat happy if you invented a switch that could repeatedly turn off an eight hundred thousand volt transmission line. See: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/the-smarter-grid/lets-build-a-global-power-grid
    “Let’s Build a Global Power Grid; With a little DC wizardry and a lot of cash, we could swap power across continents”
    It would take too long to build an 800,000 volt DC power grid all the way around the planet, but we have most of the technology.

    The problem is: SecularAnimist can’t do any one of those 3 things. How do I know? Nobody else can either, and a lot of very smart people have been working on those problems for a century or more. I have no ideological connection to any source of energy. But I am a good enough engineer to figure out what is possible and what is not with the current state of the art and technology likely to be available within a reasonable time.

    As always, my objective is to stop Global Warming. I have no other interest in any mitigation technology.

  33. 133
    Tony Weddle says:

    Good point, wili.

    Air travel enables trips that would, otherwise, not be practical for most people now making that trip (not always the case, but mostly). So that aspect must be taken into account when comparing emissions from modes of travel.

  34. 134
    Rafael Molina Navas says:

    #130/#104
    Willi: When I read Fred´s post I thought the same … Now every day a huge amount of people fly to really distant places, to which they would have never gone by car, and many of those trips could be considered superfluous. At least compared to the damage those emissions are causing, and will be causing for many decades !
    I wish travelers paid for those damages: many would travel much less, and the money raised with trips carried out could be used for compensating actions.

  35. 135
    Edward Greisch says:

    121 Killian: resource limits on nuclear fuel:
    Uranium in sea water: .003 mg/liter X 1.37 X10**9 cubic kilometers
    “Mineral Endowment of the Indian Ocean” GS Roonwal
    https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zecokXj-vkwC&oi=fnd&pg=PA75&dq=%22uranium+extraction+from+sea+water%22&ots=b-8tk5_Rdh&sig=LsOv-ti-0yZy_PizAvevWQxhGAE#v=onepage&q=%22uranium%20extraction%20from%20sea%20water%22&f=false
    There is a billion tons of uranium dissolved in ocean water. We can get it. http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/200704/000020070407A0057435.php
    “Cost Estimation of Uranium Recovery from Seawater with System of Braid Type Adsorbent” 2006

    “Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger” by Alex Gabbard
    http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html
    “Trace quantities of uranium in coal range from less than 1 part per million (ppm) in some samples to around 10 ppm in others. Generally, the amount of thorium contained in coal is about 2.5 times greater than the amount of uranium. For a large number of coal samples, according to Environmental Protection Agency figures released in 1984, average values of uranium and thorium content have been determined to be 1.3 ppm and 3.2 ppm, respectively.”
    “Assuming 10% usage, the total of the thermal energy capacities from each of these three fissionable isotopes is about 10.1 x 10E14 kWh, 1.5 times more than the total from coal.”
    We have enough coal for 1500 years.

    Mineable uranium: Most countries have mineable uranium. 18 countries have active mines. Find the world supply on land later.

    Uranium in asteroids: Most of Earth’s uranium is in the core. The same would be true for Mars and the asteroids. Some asteroids are the cores of former planetismals.

    A reactor fuel load is 440 pounds of U235 oxide + 11 tons of filler [U238 oxide]. The 440 pounds of U235 is in the reactor for 6 years. The U 238 is gradually converted into fuel so that we can burn up all of the uranium. Ignoring the oxygen,
    1 billion tons/.22 tons =4,545,454,545 reactor loads. Just the ocean contains enough uranium to last 4.5 X10**9 X 6 years = 27,272,727,272 years for one reactor or 27,272,727 years for 1000 reactors. There is enough uranium in the oceans alone to last 1000 reactors 27 million years. Not counting uranium in mines on land and not counting thorium. There is 2.5 times as much thorium as uranium.

    I don’t need to wait until I find out how much mineable uranium there is. Nor do I have to be more accurate. For all practical purposes at the present and foreseeable future, the nuclear fission fuel supply is infinite.

  36. 136
    Killian says:

    I started talking about the lack of hysteresis in the earth system way, way back as part of my argument that Earth System Sensitivity *had* to be at the high end of assumptions. Here’s another example of the rapidity of change, the amplitude, and the general anthropogenic degradation of the system is causing basically all ecosystem to fail simultaneously rather than in a sort of domino effect, which would be slower – in theory.

    Here’s another example of a hysteresis that probably doesn’t really exist. Boreal forests:

    Boreal Forests Up In Smoke

  37. 137
    Killian says:

    So, anybody remember me saying prosecute those at the top of climate denial? Remember pretty much everyone everywhere saying I was an extremist, etc.?

    Yeah, well… maybe not so much. Said then, say now, the only way to really shut down denial is to prosecute for Crimes Against Humanity. We knew about the ’95 memo, now we know it goes all the way back to 15 years before that.

    Need to be impeaching and prosecuting politicians, too.

    Prosecute Big Oil, et al.?

  38. 138

    “…with vast amounts of oil and coal in the ground it’s going to be a tough sell to leave it there.”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/10/unforced-variations-oct-2015/comment-page-3/#comment-636901

    Well, optimist though I tend to be, I have to concede that there are not too many folks who are clearly articulating the message that we do have to leave it in the ground. Well, not among the political elite, anyway. In that regard, President Obama’s ‘all of the above’ strategy was a gross failure to educate, among other things.

    So we haven’t really begun that part of the political conversation yet, not in a meaningful way.

  39. 139

    “The current [nuclear] builds in the US will hover around the current 5.8 year mean.”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/10/unforced-variations-oct-2015/comment-page-3/#comment-637081

    Maybe. Vogtle broke ground in 2013, and the first of the two expansion reactors is currently expected to come on line in 2019. That’s if no further delays occur. Sumner is on a similar track. So I rather think that 5.8 is on the low side, and all US nuclear reactors under construction will come in over 6 years, at best.

    But that’s not all; the number cited is figuring from groundbreaking to completion. Years of work necessarily precede groundbreaking. Planning for the Vogtle expansion goes back at least to 2005, for example.

    And the statements that ‘Japan can do it in 3.9 South Korea in 4’ etc., are misleading, though technically true: those are minimum times, not typical ones. According to the source, the mean times are 4.6 and 4.9. Like the US numbers, those would exclude the planning process, presumably.

  40. 140
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    All this discussion about nuclear reactors?, yes I am in favour of them as long as the most intelligent and foolproof safeguards are held to. Parallel to that the exponential uptake of solar in so many countries now and the near future and to soon to be parity pricewise with off grid power makes their future extremely bright indeed. Coupled with that the soon to be mass deployment of household battery storage and the soon to be plummeting of price of these batteries and the soaring rates of energy efficiency of the solar cells themselves will very soon make them more affordable than off grid power. If you tie in Tesla like electric cars that can charge all night on the surplus power that your residence has produced the previous day, then your carbon footprint has gone from T-rex down to near rodent size(and no, I don’t mean capybaras either). All this can be rolled out much more quickly than 6 years to get a nuclear station up and running..and I’m just talking about battery/solar, let alone geo-thermal, tidal, wind, hydro, solar thermal etc. We have the technology at this moment! Let’s hope Paris will spark in all of us the will and sense of purpose that this new and exciting energy transition will bring.

  41. 141
    Tom Rooney says:

    Question about the carbon cycle. If you do a back-of-the-envelope calculation looking at the carbon flux between plants and the atmosphere and compute a turnover rate based on what you might find in textbooks, you end up with something on the order of 4-6 years. Yet if you look at carbon dioxide residency times in the atmosphere, you end up with values in excess of 100 years. I am trying to reconcile the difference in values.

    My assumption is that because a fraction of the carbon in living biomass has a high turnover rate, biomass-atmosphere are modeled as a single compartment with the 100 year residency time of carbon in the atmosphere being a computed average, but I’m just not sure. I’d appreciate any insight.

  42. 142
  43. 143
    Killian says:

    #135 EG:

    Don’t give the slightest darn about the fuel source. At all. There are many other pressing limits. And, please, next time notice the “s.”

  44. 144
    Digby Scorgie says:

    Tom Rooney (#141)

    The information you want is explained at SkepticalScience. It’s to do with the residence time (comparatively short) versus the adjustment time (very long). I don’t know where “turnover rate” fits in. Try the SkepticalScience MOOC “Denial101x” and look for “residence time”.

  45. 145
    Mike Flynn says:

    For anybody concerned, the whole of the US Atlantic coast is sinking, causing the obvious rise in Relative Sea Level, in affected areas.

    This snip from a USGS and Dept of the Interior gives a taste. As it says, even in the Chesapeake Bay region, “the downward velocity rate is uncertain, and probably not uniform.”

    “Data from GPS measurements and carbon dating of marsh sediments indicate that regional land subsidence in response to glacial isostatic adjustment in the southern Chesapeake Bay region may have a current rate of about 1 mm/yr (Engelhart and others, 2009; Engelhart and Horton, 2012). This downward velocity rate is uncertain and probably not uniform across the region.”

    The Woods Hole Institute als has some interesting papers on the subject covering Florida, and the rising RSL due to isostatic rebound in the centre of the continental US.

    Maybe decreasing carbon won’t really make any difference. Maybe the coast will continue to drop below the sea, until isostacy is restored.

    It’s not fast, and it may stop soon. I wouldn’t advise grandchildren to invest in low lying beachfront property on the US Atlantic coast, though.

    Cheers.

  46. 146
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Kevin McKinney: I have nothing against nuclear power. But it’s very clear that it can’t scale nearly fast enough to be the sole solution.

    RC: You’re right that it’s taking (at least) twice as long to complete the initial gen 3 plants. Lots of that is because of items like you talked about; it takes time to train everybody in the supply chain, especially when the industry is under a microscope. Flaws in steel and concrete can turn a very expensive structure into a liability that has to be studied, condemned in court, smashed, and removed before work can continue.

    But the industry will successfully birth generation 3 plants, and then we’ll have to decide what mix of near-zero-carbon power sources we want as a nation (whichever your nation). Personally, I like a diversity of supply. Wind and solar kind of do a ying-yang dance, with solar peaking around noon and wind often at night. Dammed-resevoir hydro stores water and power and can ramp up or down quickly. Biomass, especially wood, can bypass the electrical grid and provide heat through a stove. But a steady hum churning out base-load is nice, especially for those calm nights and cloudy days. Nukes do 20% now. I’d advocate building 20% generation three plants while retiring current coal plants. Once coal is gone, natural gas and old nukes would go based on risk versus known damage via carbon emissions. Finally, our gen three plants will start to retire.

    By the way, your use of the phrase “sole role” is telling. By posing an extremist position as the logical alternative to your ideas, you risk missing most everything.

    wili: Comparing a car trip’s emissions to the same trip by air is essentially meaningless if there is no or very little chance that the trip ever would have actually been done by car.

    RC: The comparison should be to a covered wagon. :-)

    Edward Greisch: A reactor fuel load is 440 pounds of U235 oxide + 11 tons of filler [U238 oxide]. The 440 pounds of U235 is in the reactor for 6 years. The U 238 is gradually converted into fuel so that we can burn up all of the uranium

    RC: Dude, wiki says, “Highly enriched uranium is considered weapons-grade when it has been enriched to about 90% U-235” and “For use in commercial light water reactors (LWR), the most prevalent power reactors in the world, uranium is enriched to 3 to 5% 235U.” At 98%, you’re in a fantasy league of your own. As to waste, “Most of the used fuel– about 96% – is uranium,”
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/Nuclear-Basics/What-are-nuclear-wastes-/

  47. 147
    Edward Greisch says:

    140 Lawrence Coleman: So each person living in your house will owe $25 million for the battery in your house. This works out OK if you are rich enough.

  48. 148
    MA Rodger says:

    Tom Rooney @141.
    The two values are two different things. The 4-6 year figure is “turnover period”. The 100 year figure is used to describe the time for CO2 levels to return to previous levels after a big release.

    Back of fag packet, there is today 850Gt(C) in the atmosphere up from 600Gt(C) preindustrial. The biosphere swaps 120Gt(C) annually and the oceans another 70Gt(C). From these figures, the average turnover period can be calculated.

    When extra CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, the atmosphere quickly begins to rid itself of this excess CO2 into the oceans & biosphere. As time goes on, that loss of the extra CO2 from the atmosphere slows. While most has gone in 100 years, a very significant proportion remains after 1,000 years (about 20%, and more if there is a lot of added CO2) and “it” will remain in the atmosphere at that level for tens of thousands of years. To shift “it” requires (usually silicon) rocks to wash down & dissolve in the oceans and thus allow the carbon in the CO2 to exit the system by forming rocks. (The “it” is not just the 20% left in the atmosphere but also the 80% CO2 absorbed by the oceans & plants which will simply replace the atmospheric CO2 in the atmosphere during this draw-down process.)

  49. 149
    MA Rodger says:

    NOAA are reporting September 2015 as the warmest anomaly on record at +0.90ºC. So far, all 2015 monthly anomalies are in the ‘top 20 on record’ and over the last 12 months only one month, Nov 2014, is not in the top 20.
    Of the 9 months this year, 7 are hottest for that respective month, with January 2nd hottest & April 3rd hottest.
    Year-to-date, the average anomaly stands at +0.85ºC, with the last 12-month average +0.83ºC. To date, the hottest calendar year on record is 2014 at +0.74ºC. “Mucho scorcho!!!”

    =20 … 2014 10 … +0.78ºC
    =57 … 2014 11 … +0.69ºC
    10 …. 2014 12 … +0.84ºC
    =13 … 2015 1 …. +0.81ºC
    =2 …. 2015 2 …. +0.89ºC
    =2….. 2015 3 …. +0.89ºC
    =20 … 2015 4 …. +0.78ºC
    =8 ….. 2015 5 …. +0.85ºC
    6 …… 2015 6 …. +0.87ºC
    =15 … 2015 7 …. +0.80ºC
    =2 ….. 2015 8 …. +0.89ºC
    1 …….. 2015 9 …. +0.90ºC

  50. 150
    Fred Magyar says:

    @ 134 Comment by Rafael Molina Navas — 20 Oct 2015 @ 5:50 AM

    “Willi: When I read Fred´s post I thought the same … I wish travelers paid for those damages: many would travel much less, and the money raised with trips carried out could be used for compensating actions.”

    My point in posting my total ICE based transportation carbon footprint for the year wasn’t to pat myself on the back for for emitting significantly less CO2 than the typical US driver does, even without including airplane travel… Heck, If there were a fast sailboat service I might prefer traveling on that instead!

    Rafael, perhaps you’d like to start a new global passenger sailboat service? On the off chance you have already found a way to live without any CO2 emissions, would you please share how you have accomplished that. If not I would be interested in at least hearing how much you are contributing towards compensating society for the damages that your own emissions might be causing.

    It seems to me, that as participants in the current global industrial civilization (that includes anyone reading this post) we are, all of us, living in glass houses and it probably isn’t very productive for any of us to be throwing stones. And neither is just sitting around wishing things were different.