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Forced responses: Sep 2018

Filed under: — group @ 3 September 2018

This thread is the bimonthly open thread for discussion of climate solutions. A good starting point might be this clear description from Glen Peters on the feasibility of staying below 2ºC. Please stick to substantive points and refrain from attacking other commenters (as opposed to their ideas). The open thread for climate science issues is here.

291 Responses to “Forced responses: Sep 2018”

  1. 51

    GC 46: Given that a glaciation would kill at least 95% of humanity (~7 billion people) we should support anything that will raise CO2 emissions

    BPL: Given that global warming will kill that many a lot sooner, your post is vacuous.

  2. 52

    Carrie @ 41

    Hi Carrie,

    thanks for your honest opinion. It is nice to get a reply which is not full of hate.

    You said, “And that you’ve not really said anything via those contour maps about regional difference by latitude that wasn’t already known in climate science circles.”

    Does that mean that everyone in climate science circles, accepts that there was a recent slowdown?

    Contour maps display warming rates directly, and objectively. No subjective guessing is needed.

    I believe that objectivity is an area that is missing in global warming. I am trying to create some.

  3. 53
    Phil L says:

    Mike Roddy #44 – I don’t know if you looked at the literature review link that I provided at #29 above, but I hardly think the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions can be labelled a forest industry group.
    Your figures for CO2 emissions don’t consider full life cycle analysis.
    Your appeals to the IPCC made me curious, so I checked the IPCCC WG3’s AR5, and found this in section 11.3:
    Mitigation activities in the AFOLU sector can reduce climate forcing in different ways:

    Provision of products with low GHG emissions that can replace products with higher GHG emissions for delivering the same service (e.g., replacement of concrete and steel in buildings with wood, some bioenergy options…).

  4. 54
    Killian says:

    Re #48 Mike Roddy said something really unintelligent. Again.

    Killian above, #31 and 32:

    You are saying that we are not supposed to believe climate scientists when it comes to the CO2 emissions of various construction materials, as expressed in peer-reviewed papers, field measurements, and IPCC submittals.
    Not sure who you suggest we consult here: timber industry analysts? Georgia Pacific? Marc Morano?

    Where did I say that? As noted by another, it is hard to get a man to believe something if his income depends on him not believing it. I said nothing about their numbers, I said they have no idea what they are talking about in assessing sustainability. Those numbers **do not** represent regenerative best practices, and you know it. So do they. In their cases, it is bias against non-hard scientific knowledge and the choice to put virtually no resources into finding out if they are wrong. In your case, it’s dishonesty. To equate the use of wood solely to unsustainable current practices is flatly an attempt to skew perceptions.

    Forests can be managed very sustainably, and easily so. In fact, one of the pillars of a regenerative future will be reforesting and aforesting large areas of the planet, and it would be utterly stupid to not include in that the projected need for lumber.

    Be dishonest and I will not even attempt to be nice. You are being dishonest. I would not care if you were offering a sincere difference of opinion, but you are not doing that. If you argued, e.g., that for a period of time it would be best to use steel, you could make a valid argument. Not necessarily correct, but valid. That is not your argument. You are making false statements.

    Gavin and Mike, I suggest you do something about this person, who seems to have zero understanding of emissions calculations.

    And I suggest the dishonest be permanently banned.

    B Fagan, Skidmore, Owens, and Merrill are not qualified to opine about the various carbon footprints of construction materials.

    Who cares? My comments are in no way connected with them. I work from First Principles, not the failed thinking of others. Such studies as you cite – on both sides – are useless without a solid understanding of regenerative practice and organization. You, and they, simply do not know what you need to know to make an enlightened analysis, and refuse to educate yourselves no matter how many times this is pointed out.

    Your claim steel is sustainable, let alone more sustainable than wood, is not defensible, and is wrong ipso facto. That they and you, et al., fail to engage in understanding what is possible regeneratively is irresponsible.

    Rather than cite unknown studies- to me at least- go to IPCC land use reports, wherein forestry is over 420 million tons of CO2 annually on average in the US alone.

    Who cares? I did not say otherwise. Pay attention. I am addresssing your specious claim of sustainability. Who cares about what is unsustainable?

  5. 55
    b fagan says:

    #37 Fred Magyar – thanks, I’d not encountered anything about large-scale construction using bamboo (whole life close to 40° North in the US means bamboo isn’t part of my day-to-day. I agree that getting timber to places where the bulk of the growth is coming could be very difficult, but there’s also a growing world trade in clinker, concrete and steel, so perhaps replacing some of that shipping could take place. Or places with the option use it, others use other approaches – and we move towards better ways to produce our structural materials.

    Please do share about bamboo studies – but as I’m also noting to Mike Roddy, we might need to hope that the mega-populations coming are going to be living in increasingly dense, tall environments. This is to counter the fact that cities tend to be on either wetlands or on good farmland, both will be in shorter supply just when we need them. So large, permanent, insulated structures using bamboo as structural framework would be very useful in areas where it is easily cultivated. For homes and smaller structures, interiors, it sounds better than trees.

    You also said “There’s that pesky little issue of over population and ecological overshoot that needs to be dealt with first.”, but we don’t have time to deal with any problem first. We’re stuck with dealing with all of them, all the time, as long as we can keep this balancing act going, and politics and culture make all fo them slow going. And to keep it interesting we try all this while oceans eat coastal cities, climate shifts and warming disrupting agricultural and fishing stability, pollution grows and we move towards what the UN is now projecting as 11.2 billion by 2100.

    Cheers, indeed. The statistics and studies that all tell us what we expect by 2100 conveniently help us stop thinking about the young people we know who will be (I hope) sitting somewhere in 2100 and staring at projections for their ongoing sea level rise, further change in currents, weather, population. What we owe them now is coming up with as many different approaches as we can that reduce more than one problem at once, and trying them out.

  6. 56
    b fagan says:

    #48 Mike Roddy “B Fagan, Skidmore, Owens, and Merrill are not qualified to opine about the various carbon footprints of construction materials. They are cozy with production builders, who like wood because it’s cheaper than steel or concrete. They don’t care if it rots, burns, or contributes to global warming. Rather than cite unknown studies- to me at least-”

    Mike, I posted the studies because they are studies, not widely known, and I noted the sponsorship. Have you read them before opining that Skidmore Owings and Merrill are unqualified, as designers of skyscrapers, to study a new method for building them? They talk about risk of rot, and burning and building code changes and about embodied CO2 compared to traditional construction. They talk about foundation requirements and lower-floor strengthening to counter the wind pressures against 20 or 40 stories of now-lighter building. They go into a lot of detail people can download and read. Since SOM doesn’t knock out stick-built tract houses, the production builders they’re “cozy with” use tower cranes, huge amounts of steel and pumped cement to do their work – they’re not competing against your steel frames with stick-built tract houses. The contracting firms aren’t pushing lumber – they’d have to learn a completely new way to work.

    The coming population will be mostly urban, and if we care about unsustainable land use, building individual homes is (for most of the coming population) a very bad idea, whether the house is framed with wood, steel, bamboo or is rammed earth. Unsustainable due to far more roof (to insulate) per person, walls ditto, and additional embodied energy and materials in stretched out roads, sewer/water lines, power, telecom, etc., And the sprawl would cover up the farmland needed and fill in the wetlands that will slow damage from rising sea levels.

    You want to build houses? Build them into hillsides and put plants on the roof – you’ll use less material, less energy and less of the surface, but still have the utilities overhead and roads.

    As for sustainability of raw materials, there’s a lot of boreal forest that is Going To Die in coming decades as the North warms -–harvesting some of the tall pines before they burn might be the sensible short-term approach if we can use all that timber. A burned tree is 100% waste. And we’re not at sustainable steel or concrete right now, though there will be progress.

    PS – “Steel is renewable, since 4% of the earth is iron ore, and steel products can be recycled indefinitely.” The first part is a non-sequitur – or is exactly as valid for trees- CO2 is plant food, remember – and trees recycle biologically, we’d be hard-pressed to stop it from happening. But like wood, steel decays, too and the duration for either depends on lots of factors. So we need to look at all the different best ways we can over the short term- and keep recalibrating. In the meantime, a durable steel-framed house, or a durable mass-timber skyscraper, that stays in service over the next 80 years will both not require new resource during that span.

  7. 57
    nigelj says:

    This study finds that timber framing has a much smaller carbon footprint than steel, which doesn’t surprise me. It is prepared for education of architects, and claims it is not prepared by the timber industry. It has considerable detail on the issue, and uses both UK Ice data base and USEPA data base. M Roddys views on timber v steel dont sound intuitively correct to me, and are not supported by this study.

  8. 58
    zebra says:

    #38 Geoff Beacon,

    Meaningless. This kind of “data” just dodges the issue and is a form of denial, much like the Denialists do.

    If you reduce the global population by half, you are really starting to change the dynamic that drives energy consumption. (Even if it were just the poorest half.)

    Per capita consumption will be reduced, fertility will be reduced, and the power of those in the 10% whose status depends on “owning” resources will be reduced. A virtuous cycle would begin.

  9. 59
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Mils, #43

    When recycled steel is used, someone else must use virgin steel.

    OK, Steel may not be too bad if no virgin steel is made.

    However,there is the possibility of reducing iron ore with hydrogen. Perhaps we can discuss this when all virgin steel uses this process.

  10. 60
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Re: High buildings

    Architects and planners haven’t been up to the job of making high buildings work for housing.

    I’d like to see one or two wooden sky scrapers built for offices to see if they worked – perhaps by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. But what do you think the carbon impact of their steel-framed buildings are? I think this image from Google looks great but I dread to think of its carbon footprint.

  11. 61

    zebra, #58–

    If you reduce the global population by half…

    Yeah, but how? Assad has reduced Syria’s population considerably–probably about 25%–but none of us are going to be adopting that as a model, I think.

    As I see it, the best strategy is to try to maintain the viability of the the ‘demographic transition’ that much of the world has experienced over, which means, inter alia, holding together a culture that features modern education and health care, not to mention maintaining or enhancing the empowerment of female citizens to make their own choices about reproduction.

    That seems to me to be the best hope to eventually end population growth, and then to initiate a manageable decrease. (Though a b fagan said, we’ll be dealing with many ‘interesting’ challenges that have the potential to augment mortality rates.)

    It seems to me that focus on population as a driver in the face of the climate crisis is a bit like focus on nuclear power as ‘silver bullet’: the putative lever of change is just not as easily or quickly manipulable as proponents seem to think.

    Apologies in advance if I’m missing your point.

  12. 62
    Mike Roddy says:

    Note to Gavin and Mike:
    Commenters here are violating RC standards in attacking my comments on this thread. They provide no data or references to support their claims.

    To the commenters here who disagree with my points: real Climate is for big boys. If you want to make false and unsupported claims about lumber and carbon, do so on wattsupwiththat. They will believe you there.

  13. 63
    Mike Roddy says:

    Killian, above:

    “Forests can be managed sustainably”. Really? Where? The only country I know of that can credibly make that claim is Switzerland, where you need a permit to cut down a specific tree.

    You don’t even have to fly over the Western US, especially Oregon and Washington. Go on Google Earth. The Western Region lost 25% of its biomass between 1952 and 2006 alone. That’s a huge number, possibly a historical one, but it might be even worse in British Columbia.

    I don’t know the quote referred to in an IPCC report, but here are recent IPCC country submittals from the US:

    420 million tons of CO2 emissions from logging annually, 50% of which goes into construction. That doesn’t even count our Canadian imports, in the 120 million tons of CO2 range.
    120 million tons of CO2 emissions from steel, 20% of which goes into construction.

    Climate scientists who have studied these matters know this.

    You and other commenters can use all the imagination and weird arguments you want to try to counter my other claims- we use 25% of the whole world’s wood products here in the US, clearcuts often fail after 3 rotations, global biomass is way down from logging, or- we will never run out of steel, because 68% is recycled, and iron ore deposits are plenty- 4% of the earth’s crust, to be exact.

    Go ahead and call me a liar if you want. Facts are what matter here, and you are obviously a timber troll.

  14. 64
    Mike Roddy says:

    Geoff Beacon,

    High rise wood is a bad idea, and promoting it is strictly a marketing exercise from companies like the Kochs’ Georgia Pacific. Wood weighs triple what steel does to perform the same load bearing work. There’s also the fire issue. Moscow, London, and other cities banned wood in their cities after many thousands died. It happened here, too, 3000 dead in the San Francisco earthquake who mostly died from fires in wooden buildings. The fire mains burst from the quake. They wised up. We didn’t.

  15. 65
    b fagan says:

    #60 Geoff Beacon – I skimmed the reference you gave and I don’t live in what here we call public housing – your link appears to be essentially a critique of council flats, not of tall residential structures in general, despite the mention of energy to build. How a building is run and populated is a different subject, and assuming an apartment in a high rise is built and added to one resident families’ lifetime carbon budget is dodgy to me. Chicago’s had disastrous results with public housing high and low-rise. It’s a different topic and doesn’t mean high-rise residential doesn’t work.

    I own my place in a building with nearly 1000 residences in it, and the building has been sitting, embodied, for well over 50 years. We’ve done some recent work to increase energy efficiency, and to keep the building running well towards it’s century mark.

    But would you please point me directly to some links that study embodied energy to build and to operate structures, but based on how many people are using them over the lifetime of the structure, not just the number of floors?

    The blog you linked mentioned “Designing high buildings requires a high level of design skills.” I have no objection to living in places that were well designed, and have been living in high rises for decades. And the thing is, you don’t have to design as many as when you build many many smaller buildings – and current software makes it easier each year. But your link also talked about how a 6-floor residential building was so much easier to design, that I again have to question, is it designed for people getting free housing (and maybe no elevators and other “frills”) or for people to want to live in it on purpose?

    So, please, if you have links to analyses that compare, say, a high-rise residential building (rental or condo) with 280 residences in 35 floors compared to however many 6-story buildings to house same, with like-for-like features and amenities. The studies should include the emissions for each set’s required amount of roadway to service all residences, the amount of sewer pipe, water in and out lines, utility cables, etc. Also embodied cost of operations/repairs of same over expected lifetime. Please assume each set needs to last until 2100 to make the comparisons match.

    We’re housing and feeding perhaps 3.5 billion more people soon, so remember how valuable land is for purposes other than spreading roofs over it. In my neighborhood it’s all high-rises, and I have multiple full-sized grocery stores, five drug stores, several banks, my doctor and many restaurants and other retail stops all within a five-block walking radius. It would be best if we tried making it so many of those new arrivals will live well without needing the addition of an automobile, and tall residential means your ground floors can be retail with built-in walk-up business.

  16. 66
    b fagan says:

    #62 Mike Roddy – I said “Skidmore, Owings and Merrill have been conducting studies for use of timber, but in high-rise construction rather than for homes. Their collection of reports (w/funding from lumber industry) are here:

    You replied with “B Fagan, Skidmore, Owens, and Merrill are not qualified to opine about the various carbon footprints of construction materials. They are cozy with production builders, who like wood because it’s cheaper than steel or concrete. They don’t care if it rots, burns, or contributes to global warming.
    Rather than cite unknown studies- to me at least- go to IPCC land use reports, wherein forestry is over 420 million tons of CO2 annually on average in the US alone. US steel emissions are in the 120 million tons annually range, and less than 20% of that tonnage could frame every new house in America. Do the math, don’t read the lies from timber industry sources.”

    So who are you reporting as not acting like one of the big boys? You didn’t “attack” me, but you appeared to either reply without a glance at the materials, or decided that one of the biggest architectural firms in the world suddenly changed their entire business model (and preferred construction materials) to get into wood-framing “every new house in America”.

    If you do decide to check the just the first report at the link above:
    “rots” is covered in section 3.7: Moisture Protection and Pest Control (and elsewhere)
    “burns” is covered in 2.7: Structural Considerations Related to Fire; 5.3: Fire Protection Systems (and elsewhere including the Building Codes item)
    “and contributes to global warming” is 1:2: The Role of Tall Buildings in Sustainability; the reviews of building materials required; Section 6: Embodied Carbon Analysis of Structure and Section 8: Conclusions (and elsewhere).

    That’s the first of their multiple reports – you can check the rest in that link if you’re interested.

  17. 67
    zebra says:

    #61 Kevin M,

    You know I’ve explained my “point” multiple times. Peters says that we need to be realistic about what can be achieved, and points to the fact of oppositional actors, as I have many times here.

    Your analogy with nuclear power can be applied to all the other stuff people are talking about here– it will take time to reduce CO2, and there will be climate disruption with severe negative consequences.

    But, people don’t want to acknowledge that– you cling to this idea that “if only X were implemented”, we have the problem solved in thirty years.

    I happen to see a timeline for progress on FF reduction, based on geopolitical, social, and economic realities, that requires actions to minimize suffering and optimize the end result in terms of the sustainability of what makes humans “special” in the animal kingdom.

    That means making the demographic transition as high a priority as the energy transition, especially because when you get to the steeper part of the logistic curve, one reinforces the other.

    I’ve given this reference before, but it is worthy of thinking about:

  18. 68
    Fred Magyar says:

    Geoff Beacon @ 38 says:

    25 Fred, were you suggesting we should fly to São Paulo?

    Not literally, no! There is plenty of info online about it if anyone should be interested.

    I agree the rich have a much greater carbon foot print than the poor.
    Found this video of someone’s stroll through what I would consider a generally upscale middle class region of the city near Pinheiros. It doesn’t show some of the extreme poverty of the surrounding areas.
    walking In São Paulo (Brasil)

  19. 69
    Killian says:

    Re #62 Mike Roddy said Commenters here are violating RC standards in attacking my comments on this thread.

    You aren’t being attacked. You are not telling the truth. Trees can be grown ad infinitum. Steel and concrete cannot. Both are bound by physical limits. This is simple. This requires no science or math as the conditions are known. (The sun is a star. Do I need to cite a paper to convince you?) You have falsely argued otherwise without acknowledging you are *only* including unsustainable practices with wood. This is not accidental, as you have continued even after this was pointed out.

    You are not being attacked, you are being corrected/exposed.

  20. 70
    Mr. Know It All says:

    5 – Mike Roddy

    “The United States consumes roughly 25% of the earth’s wood products, far more than comparably wealthy countries in Europe and Asia, who prefer durable consumer and construction goods. Much of our logging is subsidized in various ways.”

    FYI, Europe used/burned their forests long ago. Then, they started burning coal.

    As far as those “durable” materials you are so fond of, here are a few photos to back up your durability claims:…29977.31162..31527…0.0..0.135.754.0j6……0….1..gws-wiz-img.HRbT5tqi-lc

    Nice try though.

  21. 71
    Mike Roddy says:

    B Fagan,

    Apologies if I was a bit rude, and lazy besides. I’m swamped this week at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, and don’t have time to read the various papers cited above. So far I’ve been disappointed: the land use event was filled with rent seekers, none of whom mentioned the need to reduce wood products consumption (we use 25% of the earth’s wood products, a devastating figure). Their bright idea was to log better.

    Re fire: The US has roughly triple the annual fire death rate of many developed countries, especially in Europe. This is in spite of the fact that even small towns have elaborate fire departments. It’s because we build out of wood. As for the other references, I spent a number of years investigating timber industry claims about sustainability, fire resistance, longevity etc, and found them to be bogus. I wrote several articles on this subject, but they are out of print.

    Here is the key figure: After logging, 15% of the carbon in the wood products that result is captured. After fire, it’s the opposite. Talk about counterintuitive! Here is the link to my paper again, which contains the chart, itself generated from a West Coast Forestry Department! It was peer reviewed by academic foresters:

    Realclimate, it’s not your fault, you are mostly atmospheric physicists, geologists etc, but land use really needs to be addressed on this blog. Someone better trained than I am could perform and important service here.

  22. 72

    #67, zebra–Well, thanks for taking the time to explain once again. What with normal difficulties of comprehension, the relatively unconcentrated nature of this medium, and now what seem like ever-increasing levels of what MAR might call ‘blather’, it’s not always easy to remember all the niceties and nuance of what a particular commenter may have said.

    My takeaway from your current comment is that you’re seeing a similar timescale for the FF transition, and the demographic transition, and that ensuring the latter does not falter is pretty crucial. All of which makes sense to me.

    You say:

    …it will take time to reduce CO2, and there will be climate disruption with severe negative consequences.

    But, people don’t want to acknowledge that– you cling to this idea that “if only X were implemented”, we have the problem solved in thirty years.

    Actually, I don’t cling to any such idea. I don’t expect silver bullets, nor do I expect the problem to be ‘solved in 30 years.’

    What I expect is a messy, partial approach that sees the problem addressed to a level somewhere in between “what pessimists here on RC expect” and “almost satisfactory.”

    My focus is: 1) to try to nudge the needle toward the latter edge of the range, and 2) to try to nudge people into considering what the longer term might look like, and especially what it might *need* to look like. The former involves support of promising avenues toward reducing emissions ASAP; the latter involves trying to get people talking about what a future that is at minimum ‘zero-energy-growth’ might look like, and how it might work.

  23. 73
    Al Bundy says:

    Hank’s Unforced variations link: Scientists have developed a photoelectrode that can harvest 85 percent of visible light in a 30 nanometers-thin semiconductor layer between gold layers, converting light energy 11 times more efficiently than previous methods.

    AB: Sounds grand as gold. So do we raid Fort Knox and melt down everyone’s jewelry? (fortunately nanoparticles are rather small)

    And to quibble about the reporter, “previous methods” certainly doesn’t include production PV cells, which are typically 16-18%, or other this one, which gets 44.5%:


    b fagan,
    Towers have much better rot and burn characteristics than single-family dwellings, so Mike Roddy’s data probably doesn’t apply to what you’re proposing. Not too many single family homes have sprinkler systems. And most wood used in single family homes is dimension lumber, which leaves a lot of waste. I bet that the engineered wood towers would be able to utilize a lot of the waste that Mike’s data exposed.

    A timber tower sequesters carbon for as long as the tower is useful and then the wood can either be recycled or used as fuel. (Of course, once the wood is eventually burned the ash needs to go back to the forest.)


    MA Rodger: It shows this BC Forcing reduced by 50% to 60% by 2100 from a peak of 0.11Wm^-2 (inc “efficacy”?) which surely doesn’t appear controversial.

    AB: That reminds me. “We” need to ban heavy fuel oil from the Arctic Ocean. And since ships are used next wherever the economics make sense and the Arctic Ocean isn’t navigable all year long (yet) the shipping industry as a whole will gravitate to cleaner engines. Heck, maybe some might conclude that building a polluting ship will be building a ship that will need to have its engines ripped out or rebuilt when the ban goes worldwide…

  24. 74
    Killian says:

    Re #63 Mike Roddy lied, again.

    Troll? Do you even know what the word means? Apparently not. I spend no time on the issue of timber other than this conversation with you.

    Now, let’s look at your argumentative, intentionally misleading response:

    “Forests can be managed sustainably”. Really? Where?

    Anywhere. But your response only makes sense if I had said *are* managed sustainably as you go on to list information about *current* forest use. You keep doing this.

    Let me be clear: The recyclability of steel does not make it sustainable, only long-lasting. Nothing about the process is sustainable, and there are losses in any and all processes. It is foolish to claim otherwise as this is a commonly-known fact.

    I do not care a whit *whether* you choose to use steal or wood. Quit acting as if I have made any statement about that. (Another prevarication.) I challenged your false statement that forests are less sustainable than the other two options. I have been clear, also, that I am referring to regenerative practices – which the planet must move to rapidly, and is.

    The only issue I am addressing is your broad claim about sustainability, not the policy of which to use, so your troll comment is extremely inappropriate.

    I pay attention to principles that guide my thinking, principles you clearly do not apply. One of those is that design must emerge from the environemnt in which it is done, so I cannot say whether using wood or steal is better in any given circumstance without doing the appropriate analysis.

    Pay attention, stop prevaricating.

  25. 75
    scott says:

    #3 “holding water vapor constant” – MODTRAN6 corroborates


    And what happens when that CO2 heating increases the humidity due to increased evaporation?


  26. 76
    scott says:

    61 – “Assad has reduced Syria’s population considerably–probably about 25%–but none of us are going to be adopting that as a model, I think.”

    Your children will see what you can not imagine.

  27. 77
    Carrie says:


    This white paper identifies and describes complex and large-scale challenges confronted today by electric power system planners, regulators, and other stakeholders in some regions of the United States and internationally. These challenges are expected to become more widespread in the future. The critical overarching challenge is to develop power system resource plans that will continue to guide investments that provide safe, affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electricity supply. These plans also need to be resilient and flexible as well as support the unprecedented pace of change occurring in the production, delivery, and use of electricity—and in the policies that govern energy use.

    In particular, the paper describes how traditional electric sector resource planning tools, methods, and processes need to evolve to address key transformations occurring in the electric sector, such as integration of variable renewable (VER) and distributed energy resources (DER); multi-directional power flow; increased reliance on natural-gas-fired generation; increasing customer choice and control; evolution of the electric company regulatory and operating environments; efficient electrification of transport, heat, and other end uses; consideration of broader societal objectives such as environment, security, and sustainability; and growing stakeholder engagement. This white paper identifies key research gaps that need to be closed to address these changes more effectively.

    Every region faces different circumstances, opportunities, and challenges as can be observed by the wide variation in planning approaches in use today across the United States and around the world. The importance of particular planning challenges, and the approaches best suited to address these challenges, will vary by region. The ideas communicated here are intended to provide context, understanding, and insights regardless of specific geographic location.

    The exploration of these challenges is an outgrowth of the development of EPRI’s Integrated Energy Network (IEN). Electric companies, regulators, and other stakeholders can take key steps to implement the IEN by addressing the planning challenges described in this paper.

    Well that was a lot work. Of course nothing much will be done and definitely not soon enough. People write papers for politicians and citizens to ignore (at best a few will argue about it).

    Here’s your chance to argue about this data and findings while ignoring the entire framing is flawed because it’s based on BAU not sustainability. But the ideas and research in itself is valid in a BAU context and equally being ignored and at least 25 years too late. These good ideas should be forced through in 1990s. They weren’t. It’s too late now imo.

    Find yourself a few acres and going self-sufficient is about the only rational plan left. Of course not too many people can afford that nor are they capable of doing it and surviving. Each to their own, it’s every man for them self.

  28. 78
    Mike Roddy says:

    Mr. Know it All:

    The photos of earthquake damage that you showed are of poorly reinforced concrete buildings. Steel is necessary for seismic safety, including with wood framing, which depends on steel hold downs and steel attached shear walls.

    A major factor in seismic safety is connector strength. A nail through lumber takes less than half of the lateral forces than a screw through a steel stud.

    Also, maybe you haven’t been to Europe lately (we just returned from a month in Paris). England and much of France are clearcuts, but Germany, Poland, and Sweden have forests. They just don’t build houses with them, because, like the French, they want them to last for centuries, not the 60 years are poorly build homes do here in the US.

  29. 79
    Mike Roddy says:

    b fagan, here is a fact for you:

    When a forest is logged, only 15% of the carbon is sequestered, for various reasons. Here is my link on this subject again, in case you missed it. It’s from Forestry Departments, of all places, and was peer reviewed:

    You are suggesting that we “harvest” the soon to be burned forests in the boreal. That is about the worst idea I’ve ever heard. After a fire, even a hot one, 85% of the carbon from trees and other organic matter remains on site. It’s the opposite of what intuition tells you, but derives from field measurements.

    Not sure if you or Killian are open to facts, though. Let’s try returning to them.

  30. 80
    Mike Roddy says:

    Killian and Fagan:

    Sweden’s logging emissions are in the 60 million tons of CO2 per year range,per IPCC submittals. Their CO2 emissions- a ton of it per cubic meter- are reported as higher than the US’s 91 million tons of CO2 emissions per cubic meter, probably because they are more honest. They don’t use lumber for their houses, though, which are made from reinforced concrete, due to fire and durability concerns. Our houses only last 60 years on average, because we don’t seem to care about durability. In Paris and Germany, houses and apartments are designed to last for centuries.

    Apologies about the figures above being a little old- I’m in a hurry, headed to the International Climate Conference in San Francisco, where people are serious. Maybe if you either studied the IPCC reports or got out of the house more you would accept my data and conclusions about the emissions consequences of logging. As with many areas of science, logic and intuition don’t rule: data does.

    I don’t take your attacks personally, btw. It’s jarring to learn that you have been dead wrong about something- but few Americans know these facts, due to relentless lies from our timber industry.

  31. 81
    b1daly says:

    Howdy all, I’m new around here, wound up here as I’m trying to get my mind around the issue of climate change. So far, I’m not having much success. In any case, since this is a thread on mitigation strategies, I have some thoughts that I haven’t seen expressed, so maybe others will find them interesting.

    My intuition is that there are profoundly deep emotional biases which affect arguers on both sides of this question. (Should radical changes in society be attempted to lower CO2 emissions.)

    One version of the main bias expresses as a “hide head in the sand, ignore the problem, and pay consequences later.” This is pretty easy to understand. A variation of this is expressed on the other side, where the tenor of discussion tends towards “alarmism” and leads to contemplation of very radical efforts being taken to reduce carbon emissions, which are justified because this is an unprecedented emergency, where old rules of conduct no longer apply. There is a sense that drastic measures are justified to avoid catastrophic collapse of societies, and mass death.

    What my intuition tells me is that both of these perspectives are warped by the understandable resistance to the reality that ruin and doom are the only possible outcome, for everyone. It’s hard to get people exercised about future catastrophe, when catastrophe is, and has always been, a part of human life.

    Reasoning about horrible outcomes is exquisitely painful even for simply personal disasters. ( For example deciding about medical treatment for fatal illness.)

    I’m not sure how this insight, if accurate, could be used to inform possible AGW mitigation, but my thesis is that keeping a hard nosed perspective on the macabre nature of the trajectory of human lives might lead to breakthroughs in such strategy. If anyone could do this, I think climate realists could.

  32. 82
    zebra says:

    #72 Kevin M,

    Sounds good but I don’t see the discussion happening; neither for your ASAP nor for long-term sustainability.

    For the long term, I have answered the question with no contradiction from anyone. I offer quantitative parameters, I explain the dynamics that seem inevitable if my criteria are met… but apparently because it requires discussing icky stuff like fertility, the commentariat is unable to respond.

    And, in determining what “as soon” is actually “possible”, which is at the core of my contention about the efficacy of the demographic transition in accelerating the energy transition (as well as mitigating negative consequences), again I see no interest in realistic quantitative thinking.

    That the OP brings up the input on this from an “official” analyst makes no difference– as I have said, there is a kind of magical thinking very similar to the Denial of the other guys. As evidenced by the current example of wood v steel studs as a meaningful topic, given the trends we see in global and local political structures.

  33. 83
    Fred Magyar says:

    Mike Roddy @ 71 says:

    Realclimate, it’s not your fault, you are mostly atmospheric physicists, geologists etc, but land use really needs to be addressed on this blog. Someone better trained than I am could perform and important service here.

    Sounds like a rather dangerous and slippery slope upon which to embark. Next you will need an entire team of specialists to address the anthropogenic impacts on ecosystem services, you’ll have to accommodate all manner of biologists, ecologists, earth scientists and god forbid, plant physiologists! After that you may find yourself lost discussing the intricacies of photosynthesis biochemistry… That’s a Pandora’s box you may wish to keep firmly closed!

    Just Kidding! ;-)

  34. 84
    nigelj says:

    Mike Roddy

    You argue in your commentary that steel has a lower carbon footprint than timber, and you have provided a link to some work you have done to determine this.

    You also think steel has very good fire resistant properties, better than timber at least for lowrise housing.

    I have a few comments that are not intended to be a strident attack on your claims as such but just to raise a couple of points. I’m a degree qualified design consultant semi retired and know something about the issues under discussion.

    The trouble is many studies have potential bias. You have vested interests in steel just as the timber people have vested interests in their products. Its a huge thing to work through everyones data to work out who is right. But here’s some things that simplifies the issue for me firstly on the carbon footprint issue.

    1)The vast majority of studies including the more objective studies I have googled say timber has a lower carbon footprint than steel. One example below:

    2)The cost of timber and steel house framing is roughly similar (timber still slightly cheaper in my country) which suggests a similar energy content in production and transport etc, which suggests a similar carbon footprint in production. I realise timber is heavier than steel framing for a typical house, so its better to look at energy content like this.

    3) In addition, obviously timber sequesters carbon and this has to be incorporated in things, the question being how much. I think your data of 15% for the framing timber is questionable because its only for the end product framing. A lot of the waste products are still turned into compressed mdf boards etc. So at a gesstimate I would say at least double 15%, so this reduces the carbon footprint of timber below that of steel.

    Adding it all up, I would expect timber to have the lower carbon footprint, but not massively so. Maybe about 25% lower than steel.

    Regarding the sustainability issue. Timber can be grown and regrown virtually forever and is obviously very sustainable, while steel is a finite resource and recycling processes have some waste. However for all practical purposes iron ore is pretty abundant, so I would not want to get bogged down in a pedantic argument about theoretical sustainability of the two materials.

    Regarding fire resistant properties. Obviously steel doesn’t burn like timber, but high heat loads can cause steel beams in particular to weaken dramatically and fail. For housing this becomes an issue particularly for double story homes, but in all fairness some fireproofing would solve the problem. In highrise towers codes require steel to have substantial fire protective coverings.

    In comparison timber is obviously flammable in housing with its small sized framing, but timber works quite well in highrise construction because the large cross sectional area of columns and beams means it chars slowly, so it doesn’t always require fire protective coverings. Ditto in things like gymnasiums and sports halls.

    I lean towards timber for house framing construction, but if we sustainably mill timber supplies are going to be limited, so we will probably require some steel as well. Its not going to be either / or. The main thing to do is RENEWABLE electricity generation and electrified transport, so all timber and steel products have the lowest possible carbon footprint.

  35. 85
    Killian says:

    Yet another study finding growth (capitalism) and climate solutions are incompatible.

    As I have long said.

    But the promise of green growth turns out to have been based more on wishful thinking than on evidence. In the years since the Rio conference, three major empirical studies have arrived at the same rather troubling conclusion: Even under the best conditions, absolute decoupling of GDP from resource use is not possible on a global scale.

    Even under the best conditions, absolute decoupling of GDP from resource use is not possible on a global scale.

    A team of scientists led by the German researcher Monika Dittrich first raised doubts in 2012. The group ran a sophisticated computer model that predicted what would happen to global resource use if economic growth continued on its current trajectory, increasing at about 2 to 3 percent per year. It found that human consumption of natural resources (including fish, livestock, forests, metals, minerals, and fossil fuels) would rise from 70 billion metric tons per year in 2012 to 180 billion metric tons per year by 2050. For reference, a sustainable level of resource use is about 50 billion metric tons per year—a boundary we breached back in 2000.

  36. 86
    Carrie says:

    84 Killian, a really good article and refs to the kinds of studies there should more of.

    They and the critical messages they contain will be ignored as usual. Only consequences will be able to change peoples current mystical beliefs. At least those who survive those consequences will have an opportunity to do so.

    No guarantee they will even then.

  37. 87
    Phil L says:

    Mike Roddy #62 says that those debating him “provide no data or references to support their claims. However I have previously provided a link to an exhaustive literature review by The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. The list of references begins on Page 44. Here’s the link again.
    Meanwhile Mike Roddy has provided one blog article written by Mike Roddy and Reynaud Serrette. That study only looks at house construction, and does not consider life cycle analysis.
    As nigelj #83 points out, Mike Roddy’s figure of 15% utilization is highly suspect. The remainder of a tree’s merchantable bole isn’t mysteriously vaporized. Some ends up as solid wood timber products (dimension lumber, etc.), but other parts of the bole go into products such as oriented strandboard (OSB), medium density fibreboard (MDF) etc. Decades ago sawmill residues such as bark and sawdust were wasted, but most mills now use biomass burners for heating and/or electricity cogeneration.
    If one has doubts about the sustainability of forestry practices, questions to ask are related to legislation and regulations, certification, etc.
    Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service has a lot of good information about sustainable forestry in Canada.

  38. 88
    Mr. Know It All says:

    80 – b1daly

    I don’t think you’re too far off the mark with the 2 perspectives you presented.

    Bottom line is this: roughly 50% of those in the developed world “believe” AGW is a serious problem. If they were to walk their talk, the problem would be MUCH less severe than it is today; but for the most part few “believers” have made significant progress in reducing their carbon footprint. That soft foam rubber seat in their FF-powered car is more inviting each morning than that cold, hard bicycle seat when it comes time to go to work.

  39. 89
    Killian says:

    Mike Roddy, you cannot seem to post turthfully. Enough of it already.

    You keep presenting **non-regenerative** practices as proving my point wrong. You are being dishonest. I have repeatedly said I am comparing your unsustainable, and clearly so, alternatives to regenerative use of wood, not stupid, destructive logging as stupid, destructive logging companies do it.

    No regenerative design would log an entire goddamned forest, or even a significant part of one. If there is not enough forest to carefully and selectively cut and use regeneratively, then you ***don’t build with wood.*** None of your destructive examples are relevant to a regenerative solution. And any “waste?” Bio-char, mulch, compost, compost toilets, etc. Why can’t you grasp this? Ah… because you haven’t a clue what regenerative design is.

    Also, I have said nothing to support anything anyone else has said. I find the discussion of high rise wood buildings ridiculous. I find all of you wasting your time discussing various pointless, unsustainable practices ridiculous.

    Not one of you has any interest in understanding what is or is not sustainable, what the conditions of the Earth force us to do, nor the reality of the risks we face. Little of what any of you proposes or are arguing about matches reality. That is why I have kept my point as narrow as I have: What you propose is completely maladaptive as a final solution, but may have its place in specific conditions. Stop dragging me into your stupid.

    You act as if I never made any positive statement wrt your position. That is argumentative, childish, dishonest tripe on your part.

    You are refusing to address regenerative use of forests of all kinds , pretending I am denying facts. I deny nothing. You are demonstrably wrong. Your central premise is absolutely incorrect, but that does not mean there is no place for it.

    Stop lying and defaming me. I will not repeat myself on this particular point. Stay within the truth.

  40. 90
    Fred Magyar says:

    Killian @ 84 says:

    Yet another study finding growth (capitalism) and climate solutions are incompatible.

    As I have long said.

    That is not exactly news! The problem with the article is that it is just another thinly veiled argument against renewables.

    The implication being, that if growth can’t continue unabated by transitioning to renewables then renewables are bad and should be rejected! Whereas the real culprit is the growth based economic paradigm. Perhaps that is what really needs to be rejected. And no, I’m not holding my breath!

  41. 91
    zebra says:

    #80 b1daly,

    Welcome– new voices are much needed.

    So, maybe you can clarify the part about

    “understandable resistance to the reality that ruin and doom are the only possible outcome

    with respect to

    “…“alarmism” and leads to contemplation of very radical efforts being taken to reduce carbon emissions, which are justified because this is an unprecedented emergency,…”

    Aren’t you saying that the alarmists are correct to be alarmed?

    My own approach is that severe negative consequences are not going to be avoided, and we have to analyze the problem using a realistic time frame. But, that doesn’t preclude making every effort to accelerate the necessary changes as much as possible.

    What is it that you think qualifies as “very radical efforts”?

  42. 92
    Al Bundy says:

    b fagan: The blog you linked mentioned “Designing high buildings requires a high level of design skills.” I have no objection to living in places that were well designed, and have been living in high rises for decades. And the thing is, you don’t have to design as many as when you build many many smaller buildings

    AB: I’d guess about 20 worldwide. It’s kind of like nukes. Only someone who hates efficiency and success would design each unit separately. Design ONE and build it again and again and again with the standard design evolving as folks live with the previous versions. (That’s one reason why the US nuclear industry tanked while the French quickly nuclearized their grid.) Personally, I think many towers should have footprints at least a block square. Lots of structural issues go away and surface area per square foot becomes laughably small. LEDs and light tunnels have solved lighting so windows are more luxury than necessity nowadays.


    61 – “Assad has reduced Syria’s population considerably–probably about 25%–but none of us are going to be adopting that as a model, I think.”

    Scott: Your children will see what you can not imagine.

    AB: Humans don’t die quietly. We’ll kill durn near every animal and then eat bark and leaves in order to eek out another day of dying-of-starvation.

  43. 93
    Mike Roddy says:


    I refer you to IPCC reports, whose data was summarized in the article of mine that I linked. That is what counts, not something you mentioned from, of all places, Woodworks.

    Again, I refer you and other commenters to recent IPCC US emissions reports:

    Forestry (logging): 420 million tons of CO2 annually. 50% of that goes into lumber for new construction and remodeling.

    Steel: 120 million tons of CO2 annually. 20% of that goes into construction, the rest for cars, infrastructure, consumer products etc.

    It’s not close, and the data in the submittals is consistent among country reports and not seriously disputed by climate scientists. Newer reports are slightly different, but the ratios remain. Ask the ones from Realclimate; commenters here such as some of those I’m arguing with can safely be ignored.

  44. 94
    Hank Roberts says:

    Large swarms of jellyfish — “blooms” — have increasingly clogged fishing nets, interrupted sea-based fish-farming operations, and sparked short-lived panics along beaches in places as disparate as England, Japan, and the Sea of Azov. Dozens of nuclear power plants around the world have been forced to temporarily shut down in recent years due to blooms: the large pipes that suck up seawater are also prone to sucking up groups of jellyfish. Ships are at risk as well. In 2006, the USS Ronald Reagan, a sophisticated U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, became disabled after sailing through a bloom of jellyfish; the problem has only become worse since.

    Jellyfish numbers are exploding worldwide, and a number of interlinked factors are responsible. The first and foremost cause is the overfishing of their natural predators — like tuna — which also removes competition for food and for space to breed. Then there are the parts of the world where humans have dumped large quantities of nutrients, as when agricultural concerns pour waste into rivers that flow to the sea. These nutrients cause immense, short-lived algae and plankton blooms, which rapidly deplete the surrounding areas of dissolved oxygen, creating so-called “dead zones.” Most fish and other marine animals can’t survive in these areas — but jellyfish can, and they also consider plankton to be perfect food. Plus, once jellyfish have established themselves as the dominant creatures in an area like this, they tend to eat the larvae of other species before those animals can reach adulthood and re-establish the natural predator-prey relationship.

    Jellyfish are also some of the few natural winners from anthropogenic climate change, since their reproduction is triggered by warmer temperature cycles in the ocean….

  45. 95
    b fagan says:

    Mike Roddy #79 and 80.
    you say: “Not sure if you or Killian are open to facts, though. Let’s try returning to them.”

    OK – so please stop the patronizing and stop repeating that the US lumber industry lies about everything and that many of us here are simply deluded pawns because we don’t agree with your own, personal article that says steel is better.

    You mention old urban fires and then hint steel framed houses would have avoided the same fate? Seriously? Houses usually burn when contents of a room catch fire, or the roof does, or in an urban conflagration, when the houses set each other off and then a firestorm kicks in. The steel frame doesn’t stop fires originating from exterior, interior or roof if any of those are flammable. I have relatives here in tree-filled America who live in wooden homes over 150 years old. And I did some research and it seems a big reason Germans don’t use lumber might be because it’s more expensive there.

    So, returning to facts. Building more and more single-family homes is not sustainable going forward. Globally the population is becoming urban, and encouraging “sub” or “ex” urban instead is damaging from land-use, flood management and other sustainability issues. (I hope at least you insulate the homes you build beyond code.)

    I don’t care about framing material used in single-family homes. Nigelj and Al Bundy and others noticed that. I’m just comparing sprawl to density, with the extra possibility of lowering the CO2 in building the high-rise structures. So if you want to argue about those, please provide embodied energy analysis for the following scenarios:

    1 – 100 big homes like in your article you keep linking to – three bedrooms, big garage, driveway, lots of roof, lawn, driveway. Plus all the sewer, water, power, telecom and roads to connect this subdivision to the world.

    2 – 100 similar jumbo apartments in a single tall building, with the bottom few floors set aside for retail or office space, and with at most 1/4 the parking spots (in the building) that your suburb includes. Plus the one or two-hundred feet of road, sewer, etc. to fit the new building into the surrounding similar buildings, and the plumbing, etc. to each unit of the building.

    Give us the cost to completely build both developments, not just the residences – everything on or under the full acreage. Then cost out 100 years of occupancy and all the money, material and energy going to heating/cooling, road and sewer repair, upkeep on utilities, roof replacement and upkeep, lawn maintenance (a lot of energy, water and chemicals in lawns).

    Add the lifetime personal transportation and health impacts comparing more sedentary, vehicle-focused suburban lifestyle compared to walkable cities where a great deal of day-to-day needs can be met by walking places.

    There are billions of new people coming who need homes, food, water, energy. We can’t build billions of single-family houses and the necessary spread-out infrastructure. We need the land and materials and energy for too many other purposes, and as we’ve seen in Houston lately, sprawl combined with intensifying rainfall events leads to flooding which leads to more materials used to replace everything on the ground floor (except steel framing, if you wish.)

    Oh, and in case the high-rises use a lot of concrete – there’s a lot of active research and development on reducing the footprint of that material, too.

  46. 96

    “We’ll kill durn near every animal and then eat bark and leaves in order to eek out another day of dying-of-starvation.”

    Killing animals isn’t easy; the damn things refuse to hold still for it, if you even manage to find them in the first place.

    Bark and leaves will come first for the overwhelming majority of humans, if that’s the way things play out.

  47. 97
    b fagan says:

    Hi, b1daly. In #81 you mention radical change, and point out quite accurately that we’re all gonna die anyway. Perhaps one way to affect perspective is to focus on what needs to be done, what is happening and how similar things have gone in the past.

    I try to point out as often as I can that here in the US, four of the five top states for windpower are typically viewed as Republican states – Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas. California’s the non-Republican on the list. Three of those states are fossil-fuel rich, but the economics of wind power are letting people in rural areas benefit from lease money, as well as revenues to their counties. The expansion is quite rapid once started. Iowa gets >37% of their electricity from wind, up from 1% or less in 2000. Texas is over 10% from wind now, and they use A LOT of electricity.

    So some Republican states are transitioning to energy sources that benefit us all, because the resource is plentiful, it tends to grow quickly once the initial resistance is overcome. Farmers and ranchers getting extra money from something that won’t spill on their acreage helps them ride out commodity and weather fluctuations.

    As for radical transitions in the past, the United States replaced horses with internal combustion in an extraordinarily short time – so consider the switch to electric cars as just a repetition of what’s possible. People back 100 years ago would have experienced range anxiety, lack of fueling infrastructure nationwide, etc., but they still bough the inefficient machines of back then in large numbers once the transition took hold.

    “In 1907 there were 140,300 cars registered in the U.S. and a paltry 2,900 trucks. People and goods still travelled long distances on land by railroad, and short distances by foot or horse-drawn carriage. Almost nobody rode horses, but plenty of people rode bicycles for pleasure and for transport.
    Ten years later in 1917, there had been a 33-fold increase in the number of cars registered, to almost 5 million, and a 134-fold increase in the number of commercial, agricultural and military vehicles, to almost 400,000. ”

    So radical transitions have taken place before, but they were to a certain extent organic once they got under way. I don’t think there is a single “what we should do” beyond the generic goal of stop adding greenhouse gases. The approaches will be hugely varied and some will be wrong (looking at you, corn ethanol). And we’re all gonna die. Climate change, and population growth, and pollution, and takeover of the biosphere by human functions and crops and food animals will all be disasters.

    The hope is we minimize disaster, and come out a couple centuries from now with better skills at managing a planet while reducing our own population by dropping below replacement levels being preferred, but wars and famines and epidemics are also possible.

  48. 98
    nigelj says:

    M Roddy @93, thanks for your comments and source material. However the woodworks website didn’t carry out the study on carbon footprints. The study was done by a third party, it said so at the top of the page.

  49. 99
    Al Bundy says:

    Mr KillingInaction: “believe” AGW is a serious problem. If they were to walk their talk, the problem would be MUCH less severe than it is today; but for the most part few “believers” have made significant progress in reducing their carbon footprint.

    AB: Economies of scale matter. To build a single car, a single fuel infrastructure, a single healthcare system, a single education system, etc, just for ONE person/family is laughable, yet you say that that’s what a “believer” MUST do.

    No, those with their hands on the levers that move millions must lift a pinky and flip the switch.

  50. 100
    nigelj says:

    This excellent article has insight on why progress to reduce personal carbon footprints is slow in the sense of why people are reluctant to make changes : The Social Dilemmas By Leon Felkins.

    It’s why I think there’s a place for a carbon tax in some form. It impels people to make changes. Not saying it’s a perfect answer, but something is better than nothing.