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Unforced variations: Dec 2016

Filed under: — group @ 1 December 2016

This month’s open thread. Roll on 2017…

302 Responses to “Unforced variations: Dec 2016”

  1. 251
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    237 – “Gulag”

    The Soviets calculated that 2.8 million of it’s citizens where in it
    ‘s Gulag in 1938. Fewer that the current number of prisoners in America’s Gulag.

  2. 252
    nigelj says:

    Barton Paul Levinson @242

    “Agreed. I’m not trying to say the Soviet Union demonstrates all socialism is bad. I’m using it as an extreme example of trying to run everything from the top down. It just plain doesn’t work, and to accomplish it at all, you need a totalitarian state.”

    Yes fair point overall. However just as a devils advocate sort of thing I will make this comment. Joseph Hayek found a key weakness in socialism is that a state agency cant process the huge number of decisions required to make a modern economy work as well as a decentralised, private market can process these decisions. This was true back in the 1940s when he wrote his little book, but ironically with computers it would be easier in todays world for the state to run everything!However Im not suggesting they should do that, as below.

    I think socialism in the soviet union sense falls over for other reasons: People just dont like being excessively bossed around, it goes against our natures.

    Highly centralised control can work efficiently for short bursts,like in a war situation. America almost became socialist with price fixing during WW2, but this pressure cooker environment ultimately becomes intolerable.

    The other issue is freemarkets equals competition which equals economic efficiency and innovation. This is where socialism really falls down. However excessive competition can also become a problem!

    “I like a mixed system myself–mostly free market, but with government stepping in to provide everything free markets don’t do well, including courts, army, police, roads, health care, health and safety regulation, and a social safety net.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I think you have identified the exact things that the government should generally provide. I would be inclined to add education at least at school level. I would however not be closed minded about privatised education, but it would need considerable safe guards and regulation and given partisan politics it would be hard to achieve this.

    The role of government also varies depending on the size of a country. Small countries lack private capital or much genuine free market competition, so sometimes the government is well placed to tackle certain projects. Larger countries have private capital and the possibility of genuine competition so need less state ownership.

  3. 253
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @235 and 240, several countries do have carbon taxes, and they appear to have had some reasonable results and a good measure of public support. It’s easily enough googled if you are interested.

    But I reluctantly agree carbon taxes have only had this limited uptake. Can’t see America easily adopting them for obvious reasons. However Im not sure of your ultimate point though, because banning fossil fuels has had even less uptake.

    Or are you suggesting eventually things will become so dire in a warming climate sense, that there could be a kind of drastic almost emergency reaction from governments to legislate to keep fossil fuels in the ground? And that they would take the risk even if it meant losing at least some voter support (from entrenched sceptics)? If you are implying this, I do think its possible.

    I just have a feeling that its becoming apparent that temperatures have taken a big jump in 2015. If this trend continues for the next 10 years or so it will be game over for the remaining sceptics and it would be crystal clear even to a complete fool that we have a dire problem, and there could be a sudden global reaction where strong measures are taken. Hopefully it would not be too late by then to prevent dangerous levels of climate change.

  4. 254
    Mr. Know It All says:

    247 – “How much does the ocean change height in a patch that is several hundred meters in radius.

    Please estimate how much and get back to us with your results.”

    247, I’ve looked at the data, and the height of any particular patch of ocean may rise and fall by several meters per day based on tides alone, and by a similar height based on wave action. Other factors such as subsurface land movement, barometric pressure, satellite orbit decay, etc, etc may also play a part. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

  5. 255
    Nick Gotts says:

    “Russian workers and peasants were so unhappy with their government that they overthrew it by force in 1905. They set up a semi-democratic republic, though run very incompetently, which lasted twelve years.” – BPL@214

    Er… no. If you’re going to give lectures here on topics distant from the blog’s focus, you might at least get basic facts right. The 1905 revolution did lead to a new constitution, but it did not lead to a republic. The Tsar remained the head of state and government until the “February Revolution” of March 1917*:
    “The Russian Constitution of 1906 was published on the eve of the convocation of the First Duma. The new Fundamental Law was enacted to institute promises of the October Manifesto as well as add new reforms. The Tsar was confirmed as absolute leader, with complete control of the executive, foreign policy, church, and the armed forces. The structure of the Duma was changed, becoming a lower chamber below the Council of Ministers, and was half-elected, half-appointed by the Tsar. Legislation had to be approved by the Duma, the Council, and the Tsar to become law.”
    Since the Tsar appointed both the Council, and half of the Duma, he only needed the support of a handful of the elected members to pass whatever legislation he liked.

    *February Revolution in March? February by the Julian Calendar, still in use in Russia, March by the Gregorian.

  6. 256

    #254–MKIA–“If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.”

    Uh, thanks. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

  7. 257
  8. 258
    Michael Schnieders says:

    I realize that this maybe more of a meteorological question, however… If the arctic ocean was slower to freeze over in November, did the atmospheric conditions allow for increased evaporation from the exposed waters and increased snowfall in the surrounding area?

  9. 259
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    255 – “the height of any particular patch of ocean may rise and fall by several meters per day based on tides alone … and by a similar height based on wave action.”

    I’ve noted that the height of people walking into a room changes with every person who walks into a room. Sometimes by 2 feet or more.

    How then can it be concluded that the average height of people is increasing?

    Tides are predictable, wave action does not change sea height as much as you claim (point to the data that shows that it does), and you will note that no one uses short time resolutions on the order of a day without averaging over many days to claim that the ocean height is doing anything.

  10. 260

    VD 251: The Soviets calculated that 2.8 million of it’s citizens where in it
    ‘s Gulag in 1938. Fewer that the current number of prisoners in America’s Gulag.

    BPL: That disagrees with other estimates I’ve seen by almost an order of magnitude.

  11. 261

    Nigel,

    I agree about education. Left it out by accident.

  12. 262
    Mr. Know It All says:

    250 – “I have this plan for a chemical plant that burns coal to get the energy to force Carbon molecules together to make coal and oxygen.

    I’m sure it can work once I figure out how to violate the laws of thermodynamics.

    Any ideas?”

    250, CO2 can be removed using Sodium Hydroxide.

    Also, some work has been done on injecting it into the ground to form rock:

    http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-are-again-turning-co2-into-solid-rock-to-fight-climate-change

    You cannot get people to stop going to work, growing and harvesting food, flying in jets, heating their homes, all using fossil fuels, so why not focus effort into removing CO2 from the atmosphere? Seems like a good idea to stop wasting effort trying to do something that has no chance of success.

  13. 263
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange/

    Top Carbon Capture and Storage Scientists Ask Court to Uphold EPA’s Emission Standard for New Coal-Fired Power Plants
    Posted on December 21st, 2016 by Jessica Wentz

    one of the central issues in the case is whether CCS technologies are adequately demonstrated and available for installation at coal-fired power plants. The scientists that signed on to the brief believe that the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.”

    “The Republican state attorneys general and fossil fuel industry groups that have sued to overturn EPA’s emission standard for new coal-fired power plants want to keep polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases for free,” said Michael Burger, author of the brief and executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. “But leading scientists on carbon capture and sequestration agree with EPA that this technology is readily available and deployable, and will only get cheaper and better over time. This rule is a wholly reasonable approach to helping solve our climate crisis.”

  14. 264
    Mr. Know It All says:

    262 – I’d think the Republicans (Rs) might be persuaded to go for something like capture and storage if the fossil fuels can continue to be burned. Currently, no technology could replace FF within several decades without bankrupting the entire world – the sun/wind are intermittent and that problem (on a utility scale) has not been overcome. Your quotes say the Rs resisted CCS technologies, but if it can be done at reasonable cost I think they can be persuaded to do it – despite hysterical assertions from many here, Rs are not unreasonable people. If it doubles electricity rates, probably not.

    Some earlier comments were saying government should run education and health care. In the USA that has not worked. On education, unions have made getting rid of non-performing teachers impossible and they have driven benefit costs so high that they are in financial crisis in many states. The government schools have produced uneducated, indoctrinated cry babies that cannot function in the real world. So, no more public employee unions; and for those who can afford it no more public education. Many of the most disciplined, smartest kids I have met in life have come out of Catholic schools.

    On health care, the US private health care system is by far the best on the planet – there is none even close to it. Most of the advances in medicine have probably come from private industry -it’s amazing how ingenious people can be in developing new techniques and drugs if they may make a lot of money from it. That said, government regulations on drug approval, record keeping, insurance, etc does gum up the works somewhat, but somehow we get thru the red tape and get the care we need.

    Recently the government did get more involved with health care via the ACA. This has caused premium prices to explode and has resulted in millions of previously full-time jobs being replaced with part-time jobs because the employer could not afford to pay for health care mandated by the ACA for all full-time employees. Fortunately, in late January, I expect the ACA will go the way of the dinosaur – although I do hope that the HC policies in effect at that time are allowed to continue until a replacement for the ACA is in effect – don’t want to cut off insurance to people. AND, government HC for old folks via Medicare is good, but the government does not provide care – they just pay the bills – and that system is bankrupt like most of the programs touched by government.

    I believe the USA has more Nobel Prize recipients than all other nations combined. Free markets will beat government run markets every time.

  15. 265
    Ric Merritt says:

    Just catching up with Hank Roberts #231 with quote from Breitbart: “The last three years may eventually come to be seen as the final death rattle of the global warming scare.” What a classic! As we all know, global warming stopped in 2016. Sadly, no one ever takes my bet offer, but maybe that’s because it’s based on decadal averages, which tend to reveal more trends than final death rattles.

  16. 266
    Thomas says:

    from hanks ref: http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange/2016/12/21/top-carbon-capture-and-storage-scientists-ask-court-to-uphold-epas-emission-standard-for-new-coal-fired-power-plants/

    About the importance, potential and effectiveness of proper rational Regulation:
    But the scientists believe this situation is more a reflection of the lack of regulation than the technical viability of the systems – without a mandate in place for power plants to reduce their CO2 emissions, they have no incentive to install costly pollution abatement technologies. This will change with the promulgation of the federal emission standard and other climate change mitigation policies. According to Gary Rochelle, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, “[w]hen we get regulation, the technology will deliver.”

    And then all the related interconnected ‘free markets’ will respond accordingly. Business needs certainty about the socially acceptable playing fields. iow clarity about their “social license” to do business.

  17. 267
    nigelj says:

    264 Mr Know it all writes:

    “Some earlier comments were saying government should run education and health care. In the USA that has not worked. On education, unions have made getting rid of non-performing teachers impossible and they have driven benefit costs so high that they are in financial crisis in many states. The government schools have produced uneducated, indoctrinated cry babies that cannot function in the real world. ”

    With respect what utter nonsense. The American state education system has delivered one of the wealthiest, most innovative, liberal, technologically advanced nations on earth with independent minded entrepreneurial people. Thats a fact. The main problems relate more to attempts to indoctrinate students with certain anti science views, and this comes from the political right, not teachers.

    “On health care, the US private health care system is by far the best on the planet – there is none even close to it. Most of the advances in medicine have probably come from private industry”

    More nonsense. The American largely privatised health care system is a terrible system, on the whole. It has some of the highest costs and inefficiencies on the planet, and consumes more than twice the gdp per capita than other typical western countries.

    Despite this average life expectancy is not great compared to other western countries, and access to health services is hard for lower income people. Hospitals have variable quality, and overall numbers of hospital beds is below the oecd average.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries/

    In fairness America is good with research and development etc, but health innovation comes from many sources, not just the private sector.

  18. 268
    Thomas says:

    Arctic Avg Mean Temp Graph to 27 Dec 2016 – very high through Winter Jan to mid-March and again in Fall late September to late December (PNG Image ) http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/plots/meanTarchive/meanT_2016.png

    Observed changes in the extent of Arctic sea ice provide evidence of global warming. http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/arctic-sea-ice-2/assessment and http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/

    a refresher on the difference between skepticism and denial. FLICC the Five Characteristics of Science Denial – https://youtu.be/wXA777yUndQ?t=1m36s

  19. 269

    KIA 264: no technology could replace FF within several decades without bankrupting the entire world – the sun/wind are intermittent and that problem (on a utility scale) has not been overcome.

    BPL: Nonsense. Solar and wind are now cheaper than coal. As for “intermittent,” that’s not really a problem, since the wind is usually blowing when the sun is down or it’s cloudy out. In addition, you have the following energy storage technologies available: pumped hydroelectric, batteries, fuel cells, compressed air, flywheels, railroads on hillsides (we should have thought of this one a hundred years ago), capacitors, molten salt heat storage, and above all, wide-area smart grids.

  20. 270
    MA Rodger says:

    Ric Merritt @265,
    If you are so intent on finding somebody to place a decadal bet against, there is one already in play that you can join in if you want. I’m sure the denialists would be glad to see some sap pledging money to cover their losses. As for winnings, it’s for charity so there are none of those.
    And how is it all going? Denialist Kiwi Thinker plots a graph of the progress every couple of months along with some rather lame comments. I have my own (far superior and far more colourful) graph here (usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment).

  21. 271
    Omega Centauri says:

    Michael.
    For sure you get more evaporation off of open water than off sea or lake ice. I don’t have any data. Weathermen predicting lake effect snows off the great lakes do predict greater snow when the water is warm. From what I recall annual snowfall is Alaska has gone up, even while the data when it melts in spring or early summer advances. But, again I am data free on the subject matter.

  22. 272
    Omega Centauri says:

    Me Know it All #262.
    The problem with free air carbon capture and storage is the cost. It is far cheaper to leave the carbon in the ground in the first place than to remove it afterwards. There may even be some cost effective methods. I think breaking up silicate rocks with explosives then letting them weather in place in nominally cost effective. But, it probably has unpleasant environmental consequences as well. And the volumes needs are many cubic kilometers per year.

    btw. I go to work at least partially on electric energy, which is partially supplied by wind/solar/water. We have the technology to begin seriously scaling back the carbon intensity of most of these activities. The cost of these developing technologies is comparable to or less than the traditional carbon intensive methods. Its mainly human inertia that needs to be overcome here.

  23. 273
    nigelj says:

    Your website mobile version is hopeless. It is very cumbersome to use, doesnt appear to display all the comments and you cant switch to the desktop version because facebook icons obscure the relevant information.

    The desktop version was actually fine on a smartphone.

    Can you please fix this? Nigel.

  24. 274
    Thomas says:

    In 2007 it was known:
    “Current concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and CH4 far exceed pre-industrial values found in polar ice core records of atmospheric composition dating back 650,000 years.
    Multiple lines of evidence confirm that the post-industrial rise in these gases does not stem from natural mechanisms.”
    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/tssts-2-1-1.html

    “The total radiative forcing of the Earth’s climate (makes it warmer) due to increases in the concentrations of the LLGHGs (long lived greenhouse gases) CO2 Carbon dioxide, CH4 Methane (natural gas), and N2O Nitrous Oxide, and very likely the rate of increase in the total forcing (warming) due to these gases over the period since 1750, are unprecedented in more than 10,000 years.”
    Figure TS.2. The concentrations and radiative forcing by (a) carbon dioxide (CO2), (b) methane (CH4), (c) nitrous oxide (N2O) and (d) the rate of change in their combined radiative forcing over the last 20,000 years reconstructed from antarctic and Greenland ice and firn data (symbols) and direct atmospheric measurements (panels a,b,c, red lines).
    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-ts-2.html

    eg for the last 10,000 years CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been about 280 parts per million.

    The concentration of atmospheric CO2 has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005. Atmospheric CO2 concentration increased by only 20 ppm over the 8000 years prior to industrialisation;
    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/tssts-2-1-1.html

    Recent Global CO2 increased from 391ppm in 2012 to 404ppm in 2016.
    https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html

    Recent Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2 chart – In 5 years from 2012 thru 2016 CO2 concentrations have risen from 393ppm to 406ppm or increasing at the faster rate of 2.6ppm/year up from 1.9ppm/year a decade ago.
    https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/index.html

    406ppm is 45% above 1750 pre-industrial era and the 10,000 year long average of 280ppm. And we know that CO2 and other GHGs have a net warming affect on the worlds climate.

    So ….. then there are real life examples of this global warming effect every where every year. It takes a very high degree of commitment to miss them all.

  25. 275
    Mr. Know It All says:

    We’re making progress on renewables thanks to subsidies. Today renewables supply 10% of the energy used in the USA. I’m all for renewables but if it weren’t for subsidies we’d probably be at around 1%.

    I’ll wait until I can afford it without subsidies – I don’t want another lien holder on my house thank you very much – also, if roof mounted PV came with a disconnect so you could power your own home when the grid was down I’d be more interested, but I think most of the systems in place do not have that option and most don’t have storage batteries. Better yet, I’d like an off-grid system, but utilities are pushing against that – they know that will be the end of the residential market when that ramps up.

    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=92&t=4

  26. 276
    Adam Lea says:

    269: “Solar and wind are now cheaper than coal. As for “intermittent,” that’s not really a problem, since the wind is usually blowing when the sun is down or it’s cloudy out. In addition, you have the following energy storage technologies available: pumped hydroelectric, batteries, fuel cells, compressed air, flywheels, railroads on hillsides (we should have thought of this one a hundred years ago), capacitors, molten salt heat storage, and above all, wide-area smart grids.”

    I would say it is a problem, at least in the here and now, as the electricity grid is designed with a largely steady generation in mind, and our whole way of doing things in Western countries is dependent on being able to switch on and receive electrical power at any time required. I doubt it is a trivial engineering problem to rebuild the grid to account for the intermittency of renewables. As far as solving the intermittency issue I agree that there are ways around this, as you mention but are they sufficient to keep the lights on on a national scale. It is ok saying that you can use pump-storage or flywheels if you are taking about powering a small local community but what about powering an entire country? How many flywheels, pump storage reservoirs, batteries will you need as a backup for the UK or USA electrical energy requirements during those inconvenient periods of dull, stagnant, blocking winter anticyclonic conditions that can last for weeks and give some of the most depressing winter weather conditions at the darkest time of the year? Has anyone done the maths and calculated how to store enough electricity for, say, the UK for a week without the lights going out, based on what the UK’s daily electricity demand is compared to how much each of the storage technologies are capable of storing? We haven’t properly solved the energy storage issue for electric cars (i.e. how do I drive 250 miles to visit my family, how long does it take to recharge the batteries, and how much does an electric car with sufficient batter power for a couple of hundred miles cost?), if we haven’t cracked it for a very small object like a car how easy is it going to be for an entire country?

    I would like there to be a feasible solution for transitioning to renewable energy on a national scale, quickly, and decarbonising our transport network, but I can’t see it at the moment. If there are any references on this subject out there I would be happy to look at them.

  27. 277
    Scott Strough says:

    Omega,
    You said, “The problem with free air carbon capture and storage is the cost. It is far cheaper to leave the carbon in the ground in the first place than to remove it afterwards”

    You overlooked BCCS. Not only has free air carbon capture and storage been solved by millions of years of evolution already. Modern regenerative agriculture has managed by way of biomimicry to do it at a profit and with benefits to the ecology.

    You talk about human inertia that needs to be overcome to transition to from fossil fuels, but display the exact same human deficiency with regards to changing agriculture.

    Remember, be careful casting stones in glass houses. Changing agriculture to BCCS has far greater potential to mitigate AGW than even zero fossil fuel emissions. The maximum reducing fossil fuels can go is zero, but the planet’s biosphere has no such limit in sequestering carbon back into the soil. The soil sink may not be infinite, but it doesn’t need to be infinite. All it needs to be is larger than emissions (both past and present), and it is … by a lot.

  28. 278
    Ric Merritt says:

    MA Rodger @270: Thanks for the reference. What I have in mind is for longer periods, comparing not only adjacent decades but decades 20 and 30 years apart, with checkpoints once a decade, at which time participants can settle up. But the bets would balloon exponentially, so a loss in adjacent decades would be recouped and much more unless that shorter-term “trend” continued. So, it’s much closer to the real issue, which plays out over many decades. Probably for that reason, no one on the “skeptic” side has ever shown any real interest. And for the same reason, with a suitable exception for really big volcanism, I am willing to bet waaaaaay more than the amounts mentioned at your link.

  29. 279
    nigelj says:

    Adam Lea @276

    You have expressed concerns about the viability and reliability of an entirely renewable energy grid, and whether the grid could cope, and if there are any studies.

    Here are a couple of points I have come across: The issue really comes down to how you deal with wind intermittency problems. Lets assume for the sake of argument and simplicity we just have a pure wind powered grid. The point is in all but small countries the wind is always blowing somewhere so it comes down to having a sufficient surplus of wind generation, so its a cost issue.

    The more you shift towards renewable wind power the more this tends to smoooth out irregularities in the system. This is called the “law of large numbers”. So the issue is more about cost than basic viability or reliability.

    I have read studies finding you dont need much surplus wind generation to make a smooth, reliable supply work, and these are easily googled. The trouble is they generally dont provide their calculations and data!

    But here is my interpretation on costs: Studies are finding costs of renewables are definitely dropping.It depends what you read but wind is roughly now the same as coal, and solar is still about 25% more than coal but dropping fast. The bottom line is renewable energy is getting very competitive.

    Now studies I have read suggest a wind grid needs about 10% additional capacity to cope with wind intermittency so its clear this is not cost prohibitive. Even if 20% surplus capacity is required its not going to add a massive cost premium.

    One problem is smaller countries and island nations because the wind may not be blowing much anywhere at all, so significant gas fired backup becomes needed. But a mostly renewable grid is better than a fossil fuel grid.

    The transmission grids do sometimes need modifying as well. Again it comes down to costs more than basic viability.

    The following article on renewable energy may be of interest and has links to a large IPCC study:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/may/09/ipcc-renewable-energy-power-world

  30. 280
    Omega Centauri says:

    Know it All @275.
    No doubt subsides were required to incubate new technologies towards breakeven and beyond. In a few places power purchase agreements for large systems supplying utilities have been signed and prices low enough that the utility does it because it reduces their costs. Costs are coming down and look set to continue the trend….

    Speaking of your solar wishlist. Storage and cutoffs are of course possible, but have a price. To truly go offgrid you need a lot of storage, and much more solar than you’d really be able to normally use, i.e. you pay a big premium for the total independence dream. With a grid connection and a medium sized generator you could become nearly blackout proof at much lower cost. Best to size PV for your average usage.

  31. 281

    AL 276: It is ok saying that you can use pump-storage or flywheels if you are taking about powering a small local community but what about powering an entire country?

    BPL: There are 85 GWe of pumped hydro storage around the world as of 2016, 16 GWe of it in the US alone, with more scheduled to come on line next year. Intermittency simply is not the problem the fossil fuel industry would like us to believe. In any case, we can always burn biomass natural gas or diesel for backup until we overbuild so much solar and wind that it’s never a problem again.

    And let me suggest that, in the final analysis, if intermittency is the greatest price to be paid for going renewable, that it less a problem than losing modern civilization altogether, which is what we’ll get if we don’t go renewable.

  32. 282
    Hank Roberts says:

    I’d like to see RC interview some of the other scientists who have felt like Cassandras –the antibiotic-resistance and lead-poisoning researchers, for example, who’ve tried for decades to get people to listen to them.

  33. 283
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Looks like we have a very long way to go on pumped storage capacity:
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

    Is BCCS the answer?
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/soil-carbon-capture-great-loamy-hope-bandaid-47154/

    Has NIF achieved fusion yet?

  34. 284
    MA Rodger says:

    The end of an unprecidented year for Arctic sea ice.
    The JAXA daily Arctic SIE data for 2016 after its latest drop far below all previous years is now very close to returning into the pack, just 25,000 sq km away as of 29/12/16. So far the JAXA record has put 2016 as record-holder for lowest-SIE for 199 days of the year.
    Will it hold out for the full 200 days? Will it squeak through to the end of the year still the record-holder?
    A graph of the state of play (at time of writing showing to 29/12/16) is here (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment).

  35. 285
    Piotr says:

    Adam Lea, 276:
    “We haven’t properly solved the energy storage issue for electric cars – if we haven’t cracked it for a very small object like a car how easy is it going to be for an entire country?”

    probably easier – because you don’t have the constraints of size (a very small object”) and mobility (car). Just because you can’t tow a lake behind your electric car at 100km/hr doesn’t mean that we cannot use lakes in hydrostorage to smooth out peaks and lows in energy availability _at the power-grid level _.In fact we are doing every single day – each time when we stop the flow of the water over the hydro-dam turbines during the low demand periods, and each time we let the so-stored water to run the turbines during the high demand periods.

    In fact, the strength of the renewables is in their complementarity – intermittent on their own, are much less intermittent when working with other sources with _different_ intermittency – if the wind does not blow, the sun may still shining or the tides may kick in. And if neither of them is sufficient – you have stored (or pumped) enough water in the hydro reservoir during the last high wind period to last you until the next one.

    Then you add the mentioned by BPL “wide-area smart grids” that can flatten the peaks and lows of both the supply and the demand. Supply: when wind does not blow in one part of the continent it may be blowing in another, so the connected grid is less vulnerable to intermittency than isolated grids.

    Then the demand side – a smart grid would switch on the energy expensive applications when the demands is low or supply is high (you would charge your electric car at night when the overall energy demand drops).

    And it is not all-or-nothing – the renewables don’t need to reduce the fossil use to ZERO to be worthwhile. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Piotr

  36. 286
    Scott Strough says:

    Mr Know it all,
    I have a lot of respect for Michael Barnard. We have discussed this in fact. However, he did make a few mistakes in his analysis. Rookie errors to be honest. He spent a day or two on that article, and the scientists working on it have spent lifetimes.

    First is a lack of understanding glomalin in the liquid carbon pathway. Yes it does have a 1/2 life of 7-42 years (up to 300 years 1/2 life deeper in the soil profile). No it does not primarily enter the atmosphere as it degrades. The pathway instead continues toward humic polymers, and then a stable molic epihedon, an anabolic process! This is quite a different fate than labile carbon from decaying organic material. These processes are catabolic and leave only a tiny residual carbon behind long term. Michael started right, but 1/2 through he lost the concept and went back to the old Roth C model which applies to labile carbon decay. Glomalin is only the beginning to new anabolic soil formation, not the end result.

    “The sand, silt and clay stick to the glomalin, starting aggregate formation, a major step in soil creation.” https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2008/glomalin-is-key-to-locking-up-soil-carbon/

    The next mistake he made is pretty common for climate scientists. They have figures for the quantity of soil carbon released into the atmosphere, and assume that putting that quantity back into the soil would saturate the sink. Not at all. Only a very small % of the soil carbon we have lost went into the atmosphere. (maybe ~ 17% +/- with a high degree of uncertainty to give you a rough idea) Remember, this is stable carbon. It is tightly bound to the soil mineral substrate. It is not easily released into the atmosphere at all. Where it typically goes is erosion ending up at as sediments in the ocean or lakes, and some rivers. The size of the potential soil sink is at least an order of magnitude larger than estimated by Michael, probably 2 orders of magnitude larger.

    https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/soils/use/?cid=nrcs142p2_054028

    Thirdly while it may seem like BCCS keeps being latched onto by people wanting to keep burning fossil fuels as fast as we can unabated, that really is not the purpose of BCCS. While the soil sink may be many times larger than the extra CO2 in the atmosphere, it is still finite. You still must reduce fossil fuel use at least 30-40% right now, and gradually lower it further still as new energy technologies and infrastructure are built. Mostly because once drawdown begins, we still have to contend with the oceans shifting from a sink to a source, as they are a moderating feedback in both directions. Very much like a coke with the cap off fizzing CO2. So we will end up needing that extra sink capacity almost certainly.

    I am glad Michael did spend some time on all this. Having the debate in the open helps. But he needs to dig deeper! (pun intended)

    http://ecofarmingdaily.com/interview-sos-save-soils-dr-christine-jones-explains-life-giving-link-carbon-healthy-topsoil/

  37. 287
    Greg Simpson says:

    283 Mr. Know It All,

    Meeting our needs with renewables is very challenging, but it is outside the scope of what is discussed here.

  38. 288
    Adam Lea says:

    Thanks to those who answered my questions/skepticism about transition to renewable energy and how straightforward it is. I can see more clearly now how it could work on a country scale. In the UK there is also the possibility of connections to mainland Europe and Iceland to use electricity generated over there if renewable supply failed to meet demand. I really hope it can be done in my lifetime. One of the biggest obstructions in the UK is public opposition, wind and solar farms are seen to scar the landscape. This is fueled by the likes of the Daily Mail, an example was this week in which a short article appeared with a heading that stated wind farms scar the landscape, yet in the accompanying paragraph, it was actually talking about several developments which cause blots or scar the landscape, wind farms were mentioned as just one of several things, yet they chose to emphasize the wind farms. In the SE UK, a couple of years ago there were planning applications for three solar farms but they were thrown out, because one person objected that he would be able to catch a glimpse of it from his bedroom window. What can you do in response to that, it will be extremely difficult to get renewables to the level of being a significant contributor to electricity generation if the local authority planners are going to keep rejecting them in case someone can see it whilst walking their dog? It seems to me we have to get peoples attitudes addressed somehow, but how do you do that? You can’t control other people, and can’t force them to like something.

  39. 289
    Mr. Know It All says:

    279 – On the possibility of providing all energy needs from wind and the question of is that economically feasible. Currently wind provides 1.9% of all energy consumption in the US; and about 4% of electricity consumption. So, in order to achieve 20% “extra” capacity to alleviate intermittency concerns, we’d have to build about 30 times as much wind generation as exists today. That probably isn’t cheap and that would only cover electrical generation – would do little for transportation. To cover it all including transportation, we’d need to build about 63 times as much as currently exists. Sounds expensive.

    The real problem would then be that once you were done building it and converting the country to wind you’d suddenly notice that the rest of the world was still burning fossil fuels.

  40. 290
    Mr. Know It All says:

    287 – Here’s one that’s on the topic of AGW, greenhouse gases, etc. You’re gonna like this one: :)

    Assume the recent decisions from the current WH administration results in WW 3 – some people say it “could” happen. Assume that this war entrains a lot of particulate into the atmosphere. Question: will the extra CO2, pumped into the atmosphere by humans from burning fossil fuels, help to keep the world warmer during the nuclear winter?

  41. 291
    alan2102 says:

    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    214 The Soviet Union. 1. Origins.
    215 The Soviet Union. 2. Soviet economics.
    216 The Soviet Union. 3. Stalin.
    217 The Soviet Union. 4. Political repression.
    218 The Soviet Union. 5. Forced labor.
    219 The Soviet Union. 6. Post-Stalin recovery.

    …………

    I’ve been away for a while.

    Is there some reason this list is now being spammed with fascist/CIA propaganda?

  42. 292
  43. 293
    Tony Weddle says:

    Mr Know It All,

    That’s not quite right. Renewables do not supply 10% of energy used in the US; the figure is for the proportion of electrical energy. In terms of total energy use that’s probably about 2%, with a tiny proportion of that being solar and wind.

  44. 294
    Hank Roberts says:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276528073_Microbial_lipid_and_amino_sugar_responses_to_long-term_simulated_global_environmental_changes_in_a_California_annual_grassland

    Frontiers in Microbiology 6(385) · May 2015 with 148 Reads
    DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00385

    Abstract
    Global environmental change is predicted to have major consequences for carbon cycling and the functioning of soil ecosystems. However, we have limited knowledge about its impacts on the microorganisms, which act as a “valve” between carbon sequestered in soils versus released into the atmosphere. In this study we examined microbial response to continuous 9-years manipulation of three global change factors (elevated CO2, warming, and nitrogen deposition), singly and in combination using two methods: lipid and amino sugar biomarkers at the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment (JRGCE). The two methods yielded important distinctions. There were limited microbial lipid differences, but many significant effects for microbial amino sugars. We found that CO2 was not a direct factor influencing soil carbon and major amino sugar pools, but had a positive impact on bacterial-derived muramic acid. Likewise, warming and nitrogen deposition appeared to enrich residues specific to bacteria despite an overall depletion in total amino sugars. The results indicate that elevated CO2, warming, and nitrogen deposition all appeared to increase bacterial-derived residues, but this accumulation effect was far offset by a corresponding decline in fungal residues. The sensitivity of microbial residue biomarker amino sugars to warming and nitrogen deposition may have implications for our predictions of global change impacts on soil stored carbon.

  45. 295
    Charles Hughes says:

    Looks like another troll to me:

    > 264 r. Mr. Know It All says: “Some earlier comments were saying government should run education and health care. In the USA that has not worked. On education, unions have made getting rid of non-performing teachers impossible and they have driven benefit costs so high that they are in financial crisis in many states. The government schools have produced uneducated, indoctrinated cry babies that cannot function in the real world. So, no more public employee unions; and for those who can afford it no more public education. Many of the most disciplined, smartest kids I have met in life have come out of Catholic schools.”

    M.K.I.A. – I don’t know what you know about Climate Science but you know nothing about public education. The attacks from the Right against public education have resulted in almost NOBODY wanting to go into the teaching profession due to low salaries, ‘No Test Left Behind’ due to corporations like Pearson:

    http://www.alternet.org/education/corporations-profit-standardized-tests

    I got suckered into a retirement scam that took half of my contributions and invested it in the stock market. Remember AIG? Many teachers ended up losing half their retirement due to these clowns. Teacher Unions are the only firewall protecting teachers and you’re dumb enough to suggest that unions are the problem. You walk into a classroom full of 15 year old kids and deal with it. Teachers make next to nothing and then they’re saddled with student loan debt from the same banksters who are trying to take away retirement and benefits. I don’t know what you do for a living but it ain’t science. Maybe you’re a Bullwinkle sidekick.

    http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/why-are-so-many-teachers-fleeing-the-classroom/news-story/f2f718575b25d7fc21ae9570a1da2b71

  46. 296

    KIA 289: The real problem would then be that once you were done building it and converting the country to wind you’d suddenly notice that the rest of the world was still burning fossil fuels.

    BPL: Look again.

    http://bartonlevenson.com/ChinaAndIndia.html

  47. 297

    alan 291: Is there some reason this list is now being spammed with fascist/CIA propaganda?

    BPL: Is there some reason you think anyone who criticizes the old Soviet Union is a fascist? Do tell, Comrade.

  48. 298
    jgnfld says:

    Tony W: The 2015 figure for renewable electrical generation in the USA was 13.44% and for total energy generation 11.1% according to the US Energy Information Administration. You apparently don’t consider hydro, geothermal, and biomass as renewable energy.

  49. 299
    Dan says:

    re: 264. “Many of the most disciplined, smartest kids I have met in life have come out of Catholic schools.”

    What a wretched comment. Those schools can choose who to admit to their classes, let alone those who can not afford to pay for it! Bias much?

  50. 300
    Pendulum says:

    Seeing that some have been discussing politics, a topic that personally repels me, I will say this: much as I admire democracy, it does have at least one glaring shortcoming – the sometime election of idiots. E.G. the most carefully crafted and thought out of environmental protections and regulations are only ever as good as the next administration.