RealClimate logo


The global CO2 rise: the facts, Exxon and the favorite denial tricks

Filed under: — stefan @ 25 January 2018

The basic facts about the global increase of CO2 in our atmosphere are clear and established beyond reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, I’ve recently seen some of the old myths peddled by “climate skeptics” pop up again. Are the forests responsible for the CO2 increase? Or volcanoes? Or perhaps the oceans?

Let’s start with a brief overview of the most important data and facts about the increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere:

  1. Since the beginning of industrialization, the CO2 concentration has risen from 280 ppm (the value of the previous millennia of the Holocene) to now 405 ppm.
  2. This increase by 45 percent (or 125 ppm) is completely caused by humans.
  3. The CO2 concentration is thus now already higher than it has been for several million years.
  4. The additional 125 ppm CO2 have a heating effect of 2 watts per square meter of earth surface, due to the well-known greenhouse effect – enough to raise the global temperature by around 1°C until the present.

Fig. 1 Perhaps the most important scientific measurement series of the 20th century: the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere, measured on Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Other stations of the global CO2 measurement network show almost exactly the same; the most important regional variation is the greatly subdued seasonal cycle at stations in the southern hemisphere. This seasonal variation is mainly due to the “inhaling and exhaling” of the forests over the year on the land masses of the northern hemisphere. Source (updated daily): Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Fig. 2 The CO2 concentration of the atmosphere during the Holocene, measured in the ice cores from Antarctica until 1958, afterwards Mauna Loa. Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

These facts are well known and easy to understand. Nevertheless, I am frequently confronted with attempts to play down the dangerous CO2-increase, e.g. recently in the right-leaning German newspaper Die Welt.

Are the forests to blame?

Die Welt presented a common number-trick by climate deniers (readers can probably point to some english-language examples):

In fact, carbon dioxide, which is blamed for climate warming, has only a volume share of 0.04 percent in the atmosphere. And of these 0.04 percent CO2, 95 percent come from natural sources, such as volcanoes or decomposition processes in nature. The human CO2 content in the air is thus only 0.0016 percent.

The claim “95 percent from natural sources” and the “0.0016 percent” are simply wrong (neither does the arithmetic add up – how would 5% of 0.04 be 0.0016?). These (and similar – sometimes you read 97% from natural sources) numbers have been making the rounds in climate denier circles for many years (and have repeatedly been rebutted by scientists). They present a simple mix-up of turnover and profit, in economic terms. The land ecosystems have, of course, a high turnover of carbon, but (unlike humans) do not add any net CO2 to the atmosphere. Any biomass which decomposes must first have grown – the CO2 released during rotting was first taken from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. This is a cycle. Hey, perhaps that’s why it’s called the carbon cycle!

That is why one way to reduce emissions is the use of bioenergy, such as heating with wood (at least when it’s done in a sustainable manner – many mistakes can be made with bioenergy). Forests only increase the amount of CO2 in the air when they are felled, burnt or die. This is immediately understood by looking at a schematic of the carbon cycle, Fig. 3.

Fig. 3 Scheme of the global carbon cycle. Values ​​for the carbon stocks are given in Gt C (ie, billions of tonnes of carbon) (bold numbers). Values ​​for average carbon fluxes are given in Gt C per year (normal numbers). Source: WBGU 2006 . (A similar graph can also be found at Wikipedia.) Since this graph was prepared, anthropogenic emissions and the atmospheric CO2 content have increased further, see Figs 4 and 5, but I like the simplicity of this graph.

If one takes as the total emissions a “natural” part (60 GtC from soils + 60 GtC from land plants) and the 7 GtC fossil emissions as anthropogenic part, the anthropogenic portion is about 5% (7 of 127 billion tons of carbon) as cited in the Welt article. This percentage is highly misleading, however, since it ignores that the land biosphere does not only release 120 GtC but also absorbs 122 GtC by photosynthesis, which means that net 2 GtC is removed from the atmosphere. Likewise, the ocean removes around 2 GtC. To make any sense, the net emissions by humans have to be compared with the net uptake by oceans and forests and atmosphere, not with the turnover rate of a cycle, which is an irrelevant comparison. And not just irrelevant – it becomes plain wrong when that 5% number is then misunderstood as the human contribution to the atmospheric CO2 concentration.

The natural earth system thus is by no means a source of CO2 for the atmosphere, but it is a sink! Of the 7 GtC, which we blow into the atmosphere every year, only 3 remain there. 2 are absorbed by the ocean and 2 by the forests. This means that in the atmosphere and in the land biosphere and in the ocean the amount of stored carbon is increasing. And the source of all this additional carbon is the fact that we extract loads of fossil carbon from the earth’s crust and add it to the system. That’s already clear from the fact that we add twice as much to the atmosphere as is needed to explain the full increase there – that makes it obvious that the natural Earth system cannot possibly be adding more CO2 but rather is continually removing about half of our CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.

The system was almost exactly in equilibrium before humans intervened. That is why the CO2 concentration in the air was almost constant for several thousand years (Figure 2). This means that the land ecosystems took up 120 GtC and returned 120 GtC (the exact numbers don’t matter here, what matters is that they are the same). The increased uptake of CO2 by forests and oceans of about 2 GtC per year each is already a result of the human emissions, which has added enormous amounts of CO2 to the system. The ocean has started to take up net CO2 from the atmosphere through gas exchange at the sea surface: because the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is now higher than in the surface ocean, there is net flux of CO2 into the sea. And because trees take up CO2 by photosynthesis and can do this more easily if you offer them more CO2 in the air, they have started to photosynthesize more and thus take up a bit more CO2 than is released by decomposing old biomass. (To what extent and for how long the land biosphere will remain a carbon sink is open to debate, however: this will depend on the extent to which the global ecosystems come under stress by global warming, e.g. by increasing drought and wildfires.)

The next diagram shows (with more up-to-date and accurate numbers) the net fluxes of CO2 (this time in CO2 units, not carbon units!).

Fig. 4 CO2 budget for 2007-2016, showing the various net sources and sinks. The figures here are expressed in gigatons of CO2 and not in gigatons of carbon as in Fig. 3. The conversion factor is 44/12 (molecular weight of CO2 divided by atomic weight of carbon). Source: Global Carbon Project.

Fig. 5 shows where the CO2 comes from (in the upper half you see the sources – fossil carbon and deforestation) and where it ends up (in the lower half you sees the sinks), in the course of time. It ends up in comparably large parts in air, oceans and forests. The share absorbed by the land ecosystems varies greatly from year to year, depending on whether there were widespread droughts, for example, or whether it was a good growth year for the forests. That is why the annual CO2 increase in the atmosphere also varies greatly each year, and this short-term variation is not mainly caused by variations in our emissions (so a record CO2 increase in the atmosphere in an El Niño year does not mean that human emissions have surged in that year).

Fig. 5 Annual emissions of carbon from fossil sources and deforestation, and annual emissions from the biosphere, atmosphere and ocean (the latter are negative, meaning net uptake). This is again in carbon (not CO2) units; the 12 gigatons of carbon emitted in 2016 are a lot more than the 7 gigatons in the older Fig. 3. Source: Global Carbon Project.

The “climate skeptics” blaming the forests for most of the increase in atmospheric CO2, because of decaying foliage and deadwood, is not merely wrong, it is pretty bonkers. Have leaves started to decompose only since industrialization? Media with a minimum aspiration to credibility should clearly reject such nonsense, instead of spreading it further. In case of Die Welt, one of my PIK colleagues had explicitly pointed out to the author, in response to a query by him, that the 5% human share of CO2 is misleading and that humans have caused a 45% increase. That the complete CO2 increase is anthropogenic has been known for decades. The first IPCC report, published in 1990, put it thus:

Since the industrial revolution the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation have led to an increase of 26% in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

In the 27 years since then, the CO2 increase caused by our emissions has gone up from 26% to 45%.

How Exxon misled the public against better knowledge

One fascinating question is where this false idea of humans just contributing a tiny bit to the relentless rise in atmospheric CO2 has come from? Have a look at this advertorial (a paid-for editorial) by ExxonMobil in the New York Times from 1997:

Fig. 6 Excerpt from the New York Times of 6 November 1997

The text to go with it read:

While most of the CO2 emitted by far is the result of natural phenomena – namely respiration and decomposition, most attention has centered on the three to four percent related to human activities – burning of fossil fuels, deforestation.

That is pretty clever and could hardly be an accident. The impression is given that human emissions are not a big deal and only responsible for a small percentage of the CO2 increase in the atmosphere – but without explicitly saying that. In my view the authors of this piece knew that this idea is plain wrong, so they did not say it but preferred to insinuate it. A recent publication by Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes in Environmental Research Letters has systematically assessed ExxonMobil’s climate change communications during 1977–2014 and found:

We conclude that ExxonMobil contributed to advancing climate science—by way of its scientists’ academic publications—but promoted doubt about it in advertorials. Given this discrepancy, we conclude that ExxonMobil misled the public.

They explain their main findings in this short video clip.

Does the CO2 come from volcanoes?

Another age-old climatic skeptic myth, is that the CO2 is coming from volcanoes – first time I had to rebut this was as a young postdoc in the 1990s. The total volcanic emissions are between 0.04 and 0.07 gigatonnes of CO2 per year, compared to the anthropogenic emissions of 12 gigatons in 2016. Anthropogenic emissions are now well over a hundred times greater than volcanic ones. The volcanic emissions are important for the long-term CO2 changes over millions of years, but not over a few centuries.

Does the CO2 come from the ocean?

As already mentioned and shown in Figs. 4 and 5, the oceans absorb net CO2 and do not release any. The resulting increase in CO2 in the upper ocean is documented and mapped in detail by countless ship surveys and known up to a residual uncertainty of + – 20% . This is, in itself, a very serious problem because it leads to the acidification of the oceans, since CO2 forms carbonic acid in water. The observed CO2 increase in the world ocean disproves another popular #fakenews piece of the “climate skeptics”: namely that the CO2 increase in the atmosphere might have been caused by the outgassing of CO2 from the ocean as a result of the warming. No serious scientist believes this.

Remember also from Figs. 4 and 5 that we emit about twice as much CO2 as is needed to explain the complete rise in the atmosphere. In case you have not connected the dots: the denier myth of the oceans as cause of the atmospheric CO2 rise most often comes in the form of “the CO2 rise lagged behind temperature rise in glacial cycles”. It is true that during ice ages the oceans took up more CO2 and that is why there was less in the atmosphere, and during the warming at the end of glacial cycles that CO2 came back out of the ocean, and this was an important amplifying feedback. But it is a fallacy to conclude that the same natural phenomenon is happening again now. As I explained above: measurements clearly prove that the modern CO2 rise has a different cause, namely our fossil fuel use. What is the same now and over past glacial cycles is not the CO2 source, but the greenhouse effect of the atmospheric CO2 changes:  without that we could not understand (or correctly simulate in our climate models) the full extent of glacial cycles.

The cyanide cocktail

A man offers you a cocktail with a little bit of cyanide at a party. You reject that indignantly, but the man assures you it is completely safe: after all, the amount of cyanide in your body  after this drink would be only 0.001 percent! This could hardly be harmful! Those scientists who claim that 3 mg cyanide per kg of body weight (ie 0.0003 percent) are fatal are obviously not to be trusted. Are you falling for that argument?

We hope not, and we hope you will neither fall for the claim that 0.0125 percent of CO2 (that’s the 125 ppm increase caused by humans) can’t be bad because that number is small. Of course, the amount of CO2 in the air could also be expressed in kilograms: it is 3200 billion tons or 3,200,000,000,000,000 kilograms. Of this humans are responsible for almost 1000 billion tons. (Does that sound more harmful than 0.0125 percent?) Since the year 1870, we have even emitted a total of about 2,000 billion tons. As already explained, forests and oceans have removed about half of that from the atmosphere.

Scientists specify the concentration of individual gases in the atmosphere as volume fractions (rather than, e.g., grams per cubic meter of air) because then the numbers do not depend on temperature and pressure, which vary greatly in the atmosphere. As far as climatic impact is concerned, however, the fraction of the total mass of the atmosphere is irrelevant since the atmosphere consists of 99.9% nitrogen, oxygen and argon, i.e. gases which cannot absorb infrared radiation. Only molecules made of at least three atoms absorb heat radiation and thus only such trace gases makes the greenhouse effect, and among these CO2 is the second most important after water vapor. All this has been known since John Tyndall’s measurements of the greenhouse effect of various gases in 1859. Tyndall back then wrote:

[T]he atmosphere admits of the entrance of the solar heat, but checks its exit; and the result is a tendency to accumulate heat at the surface of the planet.

That is still a great concise description of the greenhouse effect! Without CO2 in the air our planet would be completely frozen, no life would be possible. With CO2, we are turning one of the major control knobs of global climate.

The climate effect

So let’s finally come to the climatic effect of the CO2 increase. As for cyanide, the effect is what counts, and not whether compared to some large mass the fraction is 10 percent or 0.01 percent. The dose effect of toxins on humans can be determined from experience with victims. The climatic impact of greenhouse gases can either be calculated on the basis of an understanding of the physical processes, or it can be determined from the experience of climate history (see my previous post). Both come to the same conclusion. The climate sensitivity (global warming in equilibrium after CO2 doubling) is around 3°C, and the expected warming to date, due to the current CO2 increase, is around 1°C. This corresponds quite exactly to the observed global warming (Fig. 7). For which, by the way, there is no natural explanation, and the best estimate for the anthropogenic share of global warming since 1950 is 110 percent – more on this in my previous post.

Fig. 7 Time evolution of global temperature, CO2 concentration and solar activity. Temperature and CO2 are scaled relative to each other as the physically expected CO2 effect on the climate predicts (i.e. best estimate of the climate sensitivity). The amplitude of the solar curve is scaled as derived from the observed correlation of solar and temperature data. (Details are explained here ). This graph can be created here and you can copy a code that can be used as a widget in any website (as in my home page), where it is automatically updated every year with the latest data. Thanks to Bernd Herd who programmed this.

Finally, here is a slick new video clip illustrating the history of CO2 emissions on the map:

Links

Physics Today: The carbon cycle in a changing climate

240 Responses to “The global CO2 rise: the facts, Exxon and the favorite denial tricks”

  1. 51
    Ray Ladbury says:

    SteveP,
    Alas, I think the poor, deluded fool is serious. I don’t suppose that he ever thought about the possibility that the non-greenhouse gasses might absorb/transfer energy via other mechanisms. In particular, an N2 or O2 molecule can absorb energy from a vibrationally excited CO2 molecule via colliding with it. Collisional relaxation is actually more common than radiative relaxation, and it ensures that the entire atmosphere warms, not just the CO2.

    Good effort, Peter Carson. D Minus

  2. 52

    Peter, #49–

    “Somehow, absurdly, AGWers then infer these majority gases are unable to become warmer and contribute to Earth’s warming – that they cannot warm!!”

    Er, no. No, they don’t.

    Perhaps you may want to do some reading to figure out just what “AGWers” actually *do* think. There’s a heading on this site called “start here” that should help–if, that is, you are open to actually learning anything.

    Otherwise, SteveP’s comment at #50 is pretty a propos.

  3. 53

    ag 45: Mining, manufacturing and implementing of wind turbines and solar panels can’t be done with renewables

    BPL: Why not? Aren’t biomass fuels renewable?

  4. 54

    PC 49: All the gases in the air must have absorbed heat in some manner. They do. Like all substances, all gases absorb heat by conduction and/or convection (and some by IR as well) …

    BPL: It is the greenhouse gases that absorb the IR. The other gases get it from the greenhouse gases, by collision after the greenhouse gases absorb the IR photons. That does not make nitrogen or oxygen greenhouse gases. Absent the greenhouse gases, the nitrogen and oxygen would be a lot colder. I suggest reading up on atmosphere physics. John Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” is a good place to start.

  5. 55
    Jim Eager says:

    @45 alphagruis said…. a bunch of nonsense about renewable technologies being responsible for the acceleration of CO2 emissions. As if a growing global population had nothing to do with it. As if a rise in global standard of living had nothing to do with it. As if.

    The logic skills of some people is truly funny. Hilarious even.

  6. 56
    Jim Eager says:

    Thanks, Peter Carson, for demonstrating your total misunderstanding about how the greenhouse effect works. (Yes, we are aware that the term “greenhouse effect” itself is based on a poor analogy. So what?)

    Carbon dioxide, methane, etc are called greenhouse gases precisely because they can absorb infra-red (IR) heat energy, while the other 99+% of the atmosphere can not. However, AGWers do not at all infer that these majority gases are unable to become warmer. On the contrary, AGWs infer that on top of convection of latent heat and conduction from the surface, excited greenhouse gases warm the other 99+% through molecular collision, converting their vibrational energy into kinetic energy, thus warming the 99+%.

    And while it is true that CO2 constitutes around .04% of the atmosphere, never the less it contributes around 20% of the greenhouse effect, with water vapour contributing the other 80%. And by the way, water vapour constitues around .4% of the atmosphere, only around 10 times more than CO2.

    The rest of what Peter wrote is equally uninformed and unsupported assertion based on similar misunderstandings, including what the Vostok ice core record actually tells us.

  7. 57
    nigelj says:

    alphagruis @45

    “Renewable energy sources are replacing fossil fuels now….And what does this do to the global CO2 emission ?Obviously more harm than good since they even accelerate !”

    Actually emissions have generally reduced overall, even in countries developing renewable energy.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/global-carbon-emissions-level-off-even-as-economy-grows/

    “Mining, manufacturing and implementing of wind turbines and solar panels can’t be done with renewables and needs a lot of fossil fuel and even more”

    This requires only limited quantities of fossil fuels, and is short term one off thing, and outweighed by less CO2 emissions over time. And remember a lot of that mining would also be happening anyway to replace old generating plant.

    You haven’t thought deeply enough about the issues. A common problem with climate sceptics.

  8. 58
    Phil Scadden says:

    Peter Carson, if you spent a little time actually studying what the science claims instead of assuming a comic caricature, then you wouldnt be making absurb comments. It is unbelievable the number of people that think that they can “disprove AGW” by making strawman claims about “what the science says”. You clearly have no idea about the greenhouse effect works (beginning the basic interaction of molecules with infrared photons and what happens immediately after a photon is absorbed).

    Also, you seem to believe that past climate change just happens when it fact climate always changes because of a change of forcings. You understanding of the Vostok core is even less than your understanding of GHE. What do you hope to gain by public demonstrations of your ignorance on this site? Try doing a some open-minded reading of the science rather than just making things up.

  9. 59
    nigelj says:

    Peter Carson @49

    “Anthopogenic Global Warming (AGW) proponents proclaim that because carbon dioxide, methane, etc can absorb infra-red (IR), that only such gases absorb heat; they call these – even define incorrectly – the “Greenhouse Gases”.The majority (99.9%) of atmospheric gases nitrogen, oxygen and argon do not absorb IR. Somehow, absurdly, AGWers then infer these majority gases are unable to become warmer and contribute to Earth’s warming – that they cannot warm!!”

    Wrong understanding and no climate scientist makes the claims you suggest. Only greenhouse gases absorb solar energy re-radiated from the surface. Other gases like oxygen are transparent to solar and IR energy. But greenhouse gases like CO2 then emit a photon, that can bump into neighbouring oxygen molecules. This is how the atmosphere heats up. Google something on the greenhouse effect.

    “Further, Vostok suggests that within centuries, Global Temperatures will then plummet by some 10°C in just a few thousand years, ending the current stable-temperature Holocene Epoch in which human civilisation flourished. That will be THE challenge to civilisation.”

    Wrong on all points. Actually ice age temperature were closer to a 5 degrees celsius drop change.

    Calculations show that 1) the next ice age is predicted in approximately 20,000 – 50, 000 years, and is caused by a small regular change in the planets orbit called a milankovitch cycle, and 2) CO2 emissions already released by fossil fuel burning have almost certainly cancelled the next ice age, or greatly weakened it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/01/13/scientists-say-humans-have-basically-canceled-the-next-ice-age/?utm_term=.273b7792114a

  10. 60
    CCHolley says:

    Peter Carson @49

    All the gases in the air must have absorbed heat in some manner. They do. Like all substances, all gases absorb heat by conduction and/or convection (and some by IR as well) … otherwise they could never get heated! But that is what is implied by AGW – but never stated outright as it would reveal it is a daft theory.

    Therefore, all gases are Greenhouse Gases

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    All gases in the air must have absorbed heat in some manner.

    True. However, AGW theory absolutely does account for this. What you claim to be implied is just not so.

    The only way heat can escape to space is via radiation because space is a void and therefore heat cannot be transmitted by convection or conduction. Basic physics.

    All matter radiates heat based on its absolute temperature according to the Stephan-Boltzmann Law and at wavelengths per Planck’s Law. Greenhouse gases are the only gases in the atmosphere that can absorb the resulting long wave radiation emitted by the surface and by the atmosphere. Fact. This absorption slows the rate of radiation to space.

    Therefore, all gases are Greenhouse Gases

    Therefore you are wrong. Although the Oxygen, Nitrogen and Argon components are warmed by conduction and convection they do not absorb the long wave radiation emitted by the surface and by the atmosphere as a whole. They are transparent to that IR. Therefore they do not impede the radiation escaping to space.

    Please try try to learn some basic physics before spouting nonsense.

  11. 61
    Racetrack Playa says:

    @ag 45 “Mining, manufacturing and implementing of wind turbines and solar panels can’t be done with renewables. . “

    Say ‘electricity’ instead of renewables. Is your claim still true? One can use an electric vehicle and other electric equipment for all aspects of mining and ore transportation, certainly; for manufacturing of steel, silicon, etc.,there’s the electric arc furnace and so on, and as far as installing wind turbines, use electric cranes. Since these electric devices can all be charged by large solar and wind arrays, there’s no need for fossil fuels anywhere in the process (for example, the first such ‘solar breeder’ proposals for solar panel factories powered by solar panels date back to 1978 or so.)

    Peter Carson @49
    For your edification, here’s some good material. First, the rate of molecular collisions and the role of equalizing temperature in a mixed gas. For example, at room temperature, an oxygen molecule moves at some 460 meters per second, as do other gases – so why does it take a smell some time to diffuse across a room? Here we get into the mean free path, the distance a molecule travels before it collides with another. The very gory details are below, but at room temperature, it’s about 60 nanometers; leading to excited molecules rapidly transfering their energy to less-excited molecule via collisions, not via radiation of photons. I notice Ray Ladbury points this out to @51. Here you go:
    http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/classes/152.mf1i.spring02/MolecularCollisions.htm

    Now, I think it was in 1956 that atmospheric physicist and sometimes-weapons designer Gilbert Plass (who needed to know about IR to fire heat-seeking missiles up the tailpipes of jet fighter at high altitude) noted that CO2 in the upper troposphere could block the escape of IR to space:
    The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change, Gilbert Plass (1955) (abstract)
    In the full paper, available at the above link, Plass spells out the previous notion which his research overturned:

    “Most authors have dismissed this theory with a remark similar to the following quotation from C. E. P. BROOKS(1951): the carbon dioxide theory was “abandoned when it was found that all the long-wave radiation absorbed by CO, is also absorbed by water vapour.”

    Plass applied a ‘high-speed computer’ to the problem (1950s, that’s not so fast):

    ”An extensive calculation of the radiation flux in the region of the 15 micron CO2 band has recently been made by PLASS(1956b). Recent accurate laboratory measurements of the absorption in the CO2 band by CLOUD(1952) were used to calculate the radiation flux in the atmosphere with the aid of the MIDAC high speed digital computor.”

    The general conclusions of Plass, variously modified and improved, remain basically unchanged to this day! Remarkable piece of work wasn’t it? So this is why people today propose artificially heating the atmosphere of Mars via injection of artificial IR-absorbing gases!
    Radiative-convective model of warming Mars with artificial greenhouse gases (2005)
    Thanks for your stimulating input, I hadn’t read Plass in many years, those 1950s papers spell things out nicely.

  12. 62
    Peter Carson says:

    To all those who got het up about my comment 49:
    During my PhD in physical chemistry, when we put a containered gas into a different temperature, it made no difference that we noted if was a pure IR or non-IR gas in coming to temperature.

    However it happens, a planet’s atmospheric temperature results from the heat it has absorbed, ie by ALL the molecules … which in any volume, are all at the same temperature.
    (One could invoke the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics if one must.)
    Therefore the amount of heat absorbed is proportional to the sum of the amount of each gas.
    (Actually the product [amount x specific heat] but the difference is minimal when the IR gases are in such a minority.)
    Therefore an atmosphere’s temperature results from the total amount of heat held by its gases, and the IR gases being in a tiny minority make an insignificant contribution.

    The “all gases are greenhouse” theory can be tested quantitatively, eg as shown in Chapter 2A, with the Greenhouse Effect on the rocky planets with an atmosphere Venus, Earth and Mars. The low atmospheric pressure Mars is an insurmountable problem for AGW as it has 14x the carbon dioxide level as Earth but its GE is just 6K. The 3 planets match the “all gases are greenhouse” theory exactly; the size of GE is proportional to the total pressure and not to the partial pressure of CO2.

  13. 63
    CCHolley says:

    Peter Carson @62

    During my PhD in physical chemistry, when we put a containered gas into a different temperature, it made no difference that we noted if was a pure IR or non-IR gas in coming to temperature.

    This is essentially gibberish. What exactly did you test? If you are testing for radiative absorption, then the type of gas matters. If you ate testing heat absorption by conduction, then the specific heat of the gas determines the temperature given the heat energy. Obviously, the temperature of mixed gases will reach an equilibrium temperature.

    Therefore an atmosphere’s temperature results from the total amount of heat held by its gases, and the IR gases being in a tiny minority make an insignificant contribution.

    Does not follow. The contribution of the heat held by greenhouse gases may be an insignificant amount of heat relative to the total net content of the atmosphere, but it is the resulting heat of the total atmosphere due to the impedance of radiative heat loss that matters.

    The “all gases are greenhouse” theory can be tested quantitatively, eg as shown in Chapter 2A, with the Greenhouse Effect on the rocky planets with an atmosphere Venus, Earth and Mars. The low atmospheric pressure Mars is an insurmountable problem for AGW as it has 14x the carbon dioxide level as Earth but its GE is just 6K. The 3 planets match the “all gases are greenhouse” theory exactly; the size of GE is proportional to the total pressure and not to the partial pressure of CO2.

    Pure baloney. Chapter 2A of what? The atmosphere of Mars is 100 times less dense than the atmosphere of the earth and it is this fact alone that minimizes the greenhouse effect.

  14. 64

    PC 62: The low atmospheric pressure Mars is an insurmountable problem for AGW as it has 14x the carbon dioxide level as Earth but its GE is just 6K.

    BPL: No, it isn’t insurmountable at all. Mars has almost no water vapor (about 210 ppmv), and water vapor is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Most of Earth’s greenhouse effect is from water vapor, nor CO2. Once again, you are assuming you know what the AGW theory says (“only carbon dioxide!”) without checking what it actually does say. Will you please crack a book? If you are really a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, you should have no trouble with Houghton. Another good one is “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation,” by Grant W. Petty.

  15. 65

    #45, alphagruis–

    “Mining, manufacturing and implementing of wind turbines and solar panels can’t be done with renewables…”

    Flatly false. Everything done with fossil fuels can also be done with renewable energy, with the (current) exception of long-haul freight aviation. And actually, that can be done with bio-fuels or synfuels made renewably, so it’s not much of an exception.

    In fact, most of the energy actually expended in manufacturing turbines and panels is *already* electric, which can and often does come from renewables.

    Also, you might try actually addressing the examples I cited which clearly show that countries leading the charge on RE have experienced decades-long declining emissions rates. Reality has already mugged your ‘naive’ assertions, whether you want to admit it or not.

  16. 66

    #62, Peter C–

    It’s nice that you made it through your defense. But that would seem to indicate that you know how to do a literature search–so do the one that is indicated here. Find out why the logic you are putting forward doesn’t work.

    Hint: What other mechanism besides radiation allows planets to lose energy to space?

  17. 67

    Additional hint for Peter C @ #62:

    Why is this statement of yours radically incomplete?

    “However it happens, a planet’s atmospheric temperature results from the heat it has absorbed…”

  18. 68
    Racetrack Playa says:

    @Peter Carson,
    Perhaps we need to take a step back. Here’s a tutorial on thermal transfer in gases, liquids and solids via the mechanisms of radiation, convection and conduction. Aimed at grades 4-12, but very well done:
    https://ca.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07-sci-phys-thermalenergy/thermal-energy-transfer/

    The Big Questions
    What makes something hot or cold?
    How do things get warmer or cooler?
    To answer these questions, you’ll explore how heat moves from warmer to cooler areas through the transfer of thermal energy.

    What Is Thermal Energy?
    All matter is made of particles that are in constant motion. This energy of motion is known as kinetic energy. All particles do not have the same amount of kinetic energy, so when we measure temperature of a substance, we’re finding the average kinetic energy of its particles.

    The thermal energy of a substance depends on its temperature, as well as the quantity of particles it contains. A cup of water and a pool of water may both have the same temperature, but the pool contains more thermal energy because it contains a lot more water.

    Thermal energy “flows” from warmer areas to colder areas. Heat is a measure of this flow. This transfer of thermal energy can occur in three ways: conduction, convection, and radiation.

    So, let’s think this through. If we increase the carbon dioxide by 2X, then at the top of the troposphere, we have CO2 absorbing infrared radiation that would otherwise escape to space. The molecules of CO2 become excited, and can lose this excitation energy via radiation of slightly longer wavelength IR in all directions, or by colliding with other molecules. The portion of IR radiated back towards the Earth is absorbed by water vapor in the atmosphere as well as by the land and ocean surface. This absorption of IR energy excites the molecules (for example, at the the oceans surface) and they transfer that energy to other molecules via conduction and convection.

    You can experience this general effect directly. Ever been out on a cold clear night with the stars clearly visible, and then low cloud cover comes in, and you experience a warming effect? That’s entirely due to the clouds blocking and re-radiating the infrared radiation that would otherwise escape to space. According to your very strange pre-1850 theory, this should not be possible.

  19. 69
    MartinJB says:

    Peter (@ 62) Wow! If you did some work in graduate school showing that the conventional understanding of greenhouse gasses was incorrect, it’s too bad you didn’t publish it. You could have made a name for yourself and saved a lot of people a lot of trouble. Talk about a missed opportunity… /s

  20. 70
    Peter Carson says:

    #61 Thanks Racetrack Playa, but I had already received similar edification decades ago with
    “Kinetic Theory of Gases” by W. Kauzmann 1966. (It’s old news!)
    But what is the relevance here?

    And I’m well aware of IR seeking missiles.

  21. 71
    Thomas says:

    #62 Peter Carson,

    Perhaps the American Chemical Society, could assist you?

    A professional organization with over 150,000 members, (maybe you are one of them?) the ACS has on its website a Climate Science Tool Kit ( http://www.acs.org/climatescience ) that provides a broader, in-depth view of the underlying science of how human activity can bring about climate change.

    I highly recommend visiting this site if the reader wishes to gain a better understanding of the basis for concerns about climate change shared by an overwhelming number of scientists across a broad range of disciplines (including chemistry, physics, geology and biology, among others).

  22. 72
    nigelj says:

    Peter Carson @62

    “During my PhD in physical chemistry, when we put a containered gas into a different temperature, it made no difference that we noted if was a pure IR or non-IR gas in coming to temperature.”

    You don’t describe what you really did, and you have not documented it so it can be properly observed. Experiments have been done as below using containers with various mixtures of gases exposed to external electric lamps, and the containers with CO2 heat up more as expected. This has been done many times and many examples are easily googled, and at different levels of sophistication.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwtt51gvaJQ

    This video below demonstrates the visual effect of CO2 on heat from a flame.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX4eOg2LaSY

    “However it happens, a planet’s atmospheric temperature results from the heat it has absorbed, ie by ALL the molecules … which in any volume, are all at the same temperature.”

    Yes any gas will absorb energy and heat up, but its the source of the energy that’s important here. Only greenhouse gases like CO2 absorb IR, and they collide with other molecules like oxygen, and so everything heats up. This explains temperatures of the planets, when all other facts and contributory factors are also taken into account.

    All your material about partial pressures is beside the point.

    “The low atmospheric pressure Mars is an insurmountable problem for AGW as it has 14x the carbon dioxide level as Earth but its GE is just 6K. ”

    Nonsense. Mars is further from the sun than earth, and only receives about half as much solar energy, and its atmosphere is so thin there’s nothing to really heat up.

  23. 73
    alphagruiis says:

    #Jim Eager and the bunch of naive “renewable energy sources” zealots

    The logic skills of some people is truly funny.

    Really ?

    Do you claim that Germany has not increased its emission with the “Energiewende” ? While there is neither a population increase nor a standard of living change, over there, just an attempt to replace fossils and nuclear sources with renewables…

    Hilarious !

    Only in France is the grid very low in CO2 emissions but it’s nuclear energy.
    A few other examples are Norway and Switzerland but it’s the exceptional very favorable resources of hydro , the only renewable source that really works.

    Solar panels and wind turbines can’t do the job and that’s just a fact denied by many idiots here.

    Hilarious !

    And to expect an effect on climate it’s obviously the total global emissions that are relevant, not just Germany, Norway or even the US ones.

    Is it reasonable to contend the idea that renewables can essentially power the whole world economy when even a small rich country such as Germany does not succeed in this respect ?

    Who is it who hilariously here demonstrates a “lack of logic skills”?

    You haven’t thought deeply enough about the issues. A common problem with climate skeptics

    Really ?

    First for your info I’m not a climate skeptic.

    It’s not because there is indeed a climate problem with our CO2 emissions that there must exist any palatable “solution” for 7+ billion people to this problem in general and even worse in terms of renewable energy sources in particular.

    “Believing” the contrary is a hilarious example of “lack of logic skills” if someone needs to see a genuine one nicely at work

    We’re definitely not interested in dreaming but facts.

  24. 74
    David Werth says:

    Re #62, It seems like you could show this easily. Take a container that’s transparent to infrared light and fill it with 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. Then shine an infrared light on it and measure the temperature after it’s had time to equalize. Then do the same experiment but add 400 ppm of CO2 the the container. If you are correct the CO2 shouldn’t make a difference to the final temperature but I’d bet it does.

  25. 75
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Peter Carson: “During my PhD in physical chemistry,”

    This is what happens when you send stupid to college.

  26. 76

    ag 73: Solar panels and wind turbines can’t do the job and that’s just a fact denied by many idiots here.

    BPL: You are a bit of an idiot yourself. You repeatedly state something and assume that that amounts to an argument. It doesn’t. The sole bit of proof you attempt to attach is that Germany failed. How does that prove anything at all? In principle, what prevents solar energy from powering the world? I have yet to see a logical argument from you on this point.

  27. 77

    #73, alphagruis–

    I don’t know about Jim Eager, but *I* do “claim that Germany has not increased its emission with the “Energiewende”. In fact, I already linked to a time series showing just that. Evidently you missed it, but hey, once again:

    http://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/trends/emis/ger_reg.html

    That’s a bit coarse in resolution, and stops in 2010 though, so let’s add this data table:

    http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2ts1990-2014

    German emissions, kT. 1990: 1007786.76 2014: 767145.57

    And here’s a discussion which explicitly credits renewables for falling CO2 emissions in Germany:

    “The main reason for lower CO2 emissions, according to the analysis, is that after pushing gas-fired power plants out of the market, renewables are now crowding out climate-damaging hard-coal power plants. ‘Hard coal and gas are the losers in the power mix. Lignite-fired power plants, on the other hand, are still producing at a high level.”

    https://www.triplepundit.com/2015/01/germanys-carbon-emissions-fall-renewable-energy-takes-lead/

  28. 78
    nigelj says:

    Alphagrius @73

    “Do you claim that Germany has not increased its emission with the “Energiewende” ? While there is neither a population increase nor a standard of living change, over there, just an attempt to replace fossils and nuclear sources with renewables…”

    You demonstrate a complete lack of knowledge of the factual history. Germany reduced emissions with wind and solar up until about a decade ago. Emissions have gone up recently, but not because of renewable energy. Germany has replaced its nuclear power with coal burning, as a recent response to the Fuuhshima disaster.

    Germany now plans to phase down coal burning and move towards wind and solar power.

    “Only in France is the grid very low in CO2 emissions but it’s nuclear energy.”

    Wrong. The UK has implemented extensive wind power and it’s emissions have decreased as follows.

    https://www.ft.com/content/437c4e8a-efc0-11e7-ac08-07c3086a2625

    Its also a myth that wind power doesn’t reduce emissions as follows.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2012/sep/26/myth-wind-turbines-carbon-emissions

  29. 79
    Dan says:

    re: 73 alphagruis:
    “Solar panels and wind turbines can’t do the job and that’s just a fact denied by many idiots here.”

    Gee, you might want to tell that do large utilities such as Dominion Energy which is rapidly expanding it solar power production. Oh, but “idiots” like yourself apparently do not believe in facts, just “alternative facts”, aka blatant lies. Busted, junior.

  30. 80
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ever been out on a cold clear night with the stars clearly visible, and then low cloud cover comes in, and you experience a warming effect?

    https://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/science_projects/measuring-the-temperature-of-the-sky-and-clouds/

    http://pages.mtu.edu/~scarn/teaching/GE4250/mims_BAMS11_PrecipWaterVaporIR.pdf

  31. 81
    alphagruis says:

    #Kevin McKinney

    The peak and decrease shown in the graph is hardly due to the Energiewende. A similar drop is observed in other european countries, for instance France where the grid was already almost as carbon low as possible in the 1980’s. It is due to other causes, in particular globalization of economy with a transfer of the emissions to China and India, where the tee-shirts, smartphones, etc.. ( and in particular, guess what, the solar panels, so funny) that Europe needs and imports are manufactured with energy from coal plants. Look at the emissions from China during the same period. Very impressive and “climate-friendly”. So funny.
    For similar reasons (and more recently a switch from coal to gas) emissions decreased in US too.

    http://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/trends/emis/prc.html

    Yet what we were talking about and what is relevant to the Energiewende and electricity production in Germany is rather the evolution of the emissions post 2005-2010 when wind turbines and solar panels began to feed a sizable amount of electricity to the grid. As you can see in the available data there is hardly any change since 2010 : 804371.47 794438.74 812608.53 767145.57 . Trend is rather flat and at any rate if there is a decrease it is quite small and more than offset globally by the enhanced emissions in China needed to fabricate the solar panels, mine the metal and rare earths for the wind turbines etc.
    In Germany renewables replaced essentially the nuclear sources with no benefit in terms of climate and huge amounts of money spent to no avail. Moreover there are bad social consequences in store. And this deceitful result is for a limited contribution to the energy mix of the renewables whose intermittence can only be tolerated by the grid up to now because neighbor countries are there to damp the wild fluctuations in production.

    More generally it is actually highly doubtful that even enough rare earths and specific indispensable transition metals might ever be mined in order to implement renewables and electrification of economy worldwide at appropriate scale.

    Wishful thinking and dreaming won’t help. Nature is very stubborn.

    The 21th century “renewable energy source powering” utopia reminds me of the 20th century “communist” utopia.

  32. 82
    alphagruis says:

    #Barton Paul Levenson

    In principle, what prevents solar energy from powering the world? I have yet to see a logical argument from you on this point.

    We are not interested in what’s possible “in principle”.

    We are interested in what’s possible in practice and reality.

    Life had 4 billion years of trial and error to find out and learn how to tap into the solar energy source. It came up with photosynthesis that still manages to harness only a very tiny fraction of the incoming sunlight.
    It is highly doubtful that homo sapiens sapiens will ever invent a much more effective way to do it.

    We were already on 100 % renewables 5 centuries ago. No democracy, slavery and illiteracy were the funny things most people except a tiny number of parasites experienced by then.

    I do not dispute that 70 millions people might make a living in a civilization powered with essentially renewables.

    What I dispute is that this is possible with present technology for 7000 millions people.

  33. 83
    DP says:

    Interested in the 50% of emissions that don’t make it in the atmosphere because they are absorbed by the forests and oceans. Will this co2 stay there or will it become part of the carbon cycle and eventually find it’s way back in to the atmosphere?

  34. 84
    alphagruis says:

    #Dan

    Oh, but “idiots” like yourself apparently do not believe in facts, just “alternative facts”, aka blatant lies. Busted, junior.

    Infuriated ?

    So funny.

    Even hilarious!

    I’m wondering; who is more fun to watch ?

    The idiots on one side of the fence who deny basic physics and claim that the greenhouse effect violates the second principle of thermodynamics ?

    or

    The idiots on the other side of the fence who deny basic physics and claim that a 7 billions people civilization can readily be powered with renewables within a few decades ?

  35. 85
    Jim Eager says:

    Peter Carson wrote During my PhD in physical chemistry…

    Where’s Eli when you need him? Pehaps a professor of physical chemistry can set poor Peter straight.

  36. 86
    Jim Eager says:

    alphagruis wrote Do you claim that Germany has not increased its emission with the “Energiewende”?

    While there is neither a population increase nor a standard of living change, over there, just an attempt to replace fossils and nuclear sources with renewables…

    Wrong alphagruis, Germany’s emissions have risen because they have increased the burning of lignite coal, largely for generation of electricity exports. But thanks for providing more evidence of your fact-challenged logic skills.

  37. 87
    zebra says:

    alphagruis,

    I am missing something in your reasoning.

    You say “What I dispute is that this is possible with present technology for 7000 millions people.”

    But, 7 billion people are not currently enjoying the same energy consumption as the, say, 700 million in the most consuming countries. And this is with fossil fuels not being restricted.

    Perhaps you are just trolling people– successfully, I admit– on this question, but really, what is your point?

    Now, I advocate for reducing the global population, which would create a non-linear reduction in FF consumption. But you are not really making much sense here. If some rural village requires a few watts per day capacity to make life more tolerable, a few solar panels will do the trick. Or, the truck that stops by once a week for deliveries can be converted to electric and charged by wind.

    Really, this is an example of what I keep saying about poor quantitative reasoning in these discussions. You have to define your goals up front before you can start reasoning about solutions. But with numbers— not exact numbers, just get the orders of magnitude at least close.

  38. 88
    nigelj says:

    Alphagrius can’t get his facts straight. It’s not renewable energy causing an increase in emissions in Germany. Germany increased burning of lignite coal for exports as JE says, and as a bridge after nuclear was taken offline after the Fukushima disaster as follows.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-14/germany-is-burning-too-much-coal

    Alphagrius is a nuclear power fanatic. The trouble is nuclear power is too slow to build and pass regulatory safety approvals to be of much use in limiting emissions under Paris accord timeframes. I’m not personally totally opposed to nuclear power if a country has no other alternatives, however if the world had thousands of reactors, you would be looking at nuclear disasters every year. Do we want to go down that road?

  39. 89

    ag 82: I do not dispute that 70 millions people might make a living in a civilization powered with essentially renewables. . . What I dispute is that this is possible with present technology for 7000 millions people.

    BPL: I know. But you have yet to explain exactly why.

  40. 90

    ag: The idiots on the other side of the fence who deny basic physics and claim that a 7 billions people civilization can readily be powered with renewables within a few decades ?

    BPL: How does that “deny basic physics?” Show your work.

  41. 91
    alphagruis says:

    #Jim Eager wrote

    Germany’s emissions have risen because they have increased the burning of lignite coal,

    Right Jim Eager ! Thanks for not denying (like other funny renewable energy zealots here) that Germany’s emissions have risen.

    they have increased the burning of lignite coal, largely for generation of electricity exports.

    Nope.

    Nonsense.

    It’s because they replaced nuclear with renewables, the latter are intermittent sources and when wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, Germans nevertheless want their lights to come on when they flip the switch.

    Thanks for providing more of that funny “renewable energy zealots” fantasy and wishful thinking .

  42. 92

    alphagruis, #81–

    As you can see in the available data there is hardly any change since 2010 : 804371.47 794438.74 812608.53 767145.57 . Trend is rather flat and at any rate if there is a decrease it is quite small…

    Thank you for taking note of the fact that you were wrong about increasing German emissions. I trust we’ll hear no more about that?

    …and more than offset globally by the enhanced emissions in China needed to fabricate the solar panels, mine the metal and rare earths for the wind turbines etc.

    That is quite unsupported: yes, Chinese emissions rose over the period, but:

    1) To what extent did German renewable energy use Chinese gear? During the early part of the period, China was not yet the leading solar manufacturer.

    “China has been the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels since 2008…”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_China#Manufacturers

    On the wind side, China is still not a leader, (though they are a competitor) and one of the global wind turbine leaders–Siemens–is German. (Other leaders are the Danish major Vesta, the Spanish Abengoa and the American GE (wind division).)

    2) To what extent can the rise in Chinese emissions be attributed specifically to the manufacture of gear for renewable energy? I didn’t find hard numbers on the value of Chinese solar panel exports, but investments are reported to be on the order of tens of billions, in the context of an economy with an annual GDP of 12.4 trillion USD. That suggests to me that the attributable portion is pretty small.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_China

    3) That’s especially the case in that if you look at the trajectory of Chinese emissions: as solar manufacturing increases to its present output capacity (well in excess, apparently of 50 GW p.a.), emissions increases slow, to the point that carbonactiontracker actually makes the bold statement that:

    China’s CO2 emissions appear to have peaked more than a decade ahead of its Paris Agreement NDC commitment to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030. The latest analysis from the Climate Action Tracker indicates that CO2 emissions may, in fact, already have stopped increasing and reached peak levels.

    http://www.climateactiontracker.org/countries/china.html

    If German solar PV drove Chinese emissions, then how could the much larger Chinese deployment of solar PV–which definitely *was* all made in China–fail to do so?

    4) Life cycle analysis of emissions has repeatedly shown that solar PV does result in net reduction of emissions compared with the conventional energy displaced.

    5) As the grid decarbonizes, the manufacture of solar and wind gear becomes increasingly ‘green’, too. It’s virtuous circle. The same applies to electrification of transport. That means that although your points are basically wrong anyway, they are also irrelevant to a future increasingly powered by renewable energy.

    In Germany renewables replaced essentially the nuclear sources with no benefit in terms of climate…

    Yes, that’s what I said earlier: the stagnation of the Energiewende is due mainly to the retirement of nuclear power. (Though one should note political cowardice in tackling lignite coal mining and utilization as an important factor, too.)

    Nothing to do with any inherent ‘problem’ or ‘incapacity’ with wind or solar power.

  43. 93
    Dan says:

    re: 84
    alphagruis says: (dribble)
    “Infuriated?”

    Wow, talk about classic projection. And now you’re making baseless projections since you can’t admit to be wrong. “Sad”.

  44. 94
    alphagruis says:

    #DP

    Will this co2 stay there or will it become part of the carbon cycle and eventually find it’s way back in to the atmosphere?

    As far as we know, all CO2 is part of the carbon cycle. All the CO2 we emit will finally end up either in the ocean and then in the form of carbonate rocks or in the form of biomass and then possibly part of it in the form of fossil hydrocarbons in a 100 millions of years.

    Future volcano eruptions may then eventually make that CO2 from CaCO3 find its way back in to the atmosphere or similarly the carbon from fossil hydrocarbons finds its way back into the atmosphere because a future civilization mines and burns them to sustain itself.

  45. 95
    Adam Lea says:

    I saw an interesting TED talk about whether renewable energy can power the world.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnvCbquYeIM

    I’m not an expert on the subject so can’t comment on the accuracy of the video, but it seems to imply to me that it may be possible, but it is not trivial. I couldn’t help smiling a bit on the part about citing solar energy in the areas with the highest sunshine, where I live in SE UK we’ve just had six consecutive months of below average sunshine, so I have my doubts solar could be a major player in this cloudy part of the world. Wind, tidal and hydro are more promising I think.

  46. 96
    Thomas says:

    84 alphagruis says: “I’m wondering; who is more fun to watch?”

    Both. :-)

    I’ll add a 3rd group – those who imagine that “a 7-9 billions people civilization can readily be powered with renewables within a few decades” and that that solves the AGW/CC problem in and of itself.

    Am I a pessimist or a realist? :-)

  47. 97
    Thomas says:

    87 zebra says: “I advocate for reducing the global population”

    How? By when? By how much? What’s your Goal, show your “numbers”.

    But Zebra YOU have to define your goals up front before you can start reasoning about solutions. But with numbers— not exact numbers, just get the orders of magnitude at least close.

    (this will be interesting after years of nothing but rhetoric)

  48. 98
    nigelj says:

    Alphagrius says “What I dispute is that this (renewable energy) is possible with present technology for 7000 millions people.”

    Firstly it is possible. Jacobson has done a study of virtually every country, and I have yet to see a convincing rebuttal.

    The technology of renewable energy is mature and tested, and costs of wind power are now lower than coal, and solar is getting close. It really comes down to wind and solar intermittency problems, and closing the last 20% of capacity. The technology exists to solve this, and its really about costs. A 100% renewable grid would require storage and surplus power generation etc, and would be expensive at today’s prices, but given the downwards trajectory of prices, the future is looking good.

    I also agree with Zebras comment that you have to look at the big picture, and Africa suit an intermediate stage technology of decentralised low level solar power perfectly.

    There’s another issue. There is about 150 years left of coal at current rates of use according to the World Coal Foundation. Currently levels of electricity use in third world and developing countries are on average only about 25% of that in western countries. By the time third world countries actually build substantial additional electricity generation, the world could be nearing the limits of coal supply, especially if you factor in projected population growth and increased consumption. So even apart from the climate issue, renewable energy is inevitable for those poorer countries. It already makes sense for western countries.

    There’s also the nuclear option, with all it’s problems.

  49. 99
    Jim Eager says:

    alphagruis said: Nope. Nonsense.

    Pure assertion, nothing more, which every one of his posts has been full of.
    That and plenty of arrogant, belligerent invective and projection.

    Do not feed.

  50. 100
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @97, Zebra and population, numbers, etc. Totally agree, glad to see I’m not the only person wondering that.