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Forced variations: Apr 2020

Filed under: — group @ 1 April 2020

Open thread for climate solutions.

669 Responses to “Forced variations: Apr 2020”

  1. 351

    AB, #323–

    Cars last for perhaps 20 years so the odds of improvements in the grid substantially reducing an EV’s lifetime emissions are slim.

    Better hope that’s wrong, given the need to be carbon-neutral by 2050, and well on the way by 2035!

    But I think that recent history affords pretty good counterexamples.

    CO2 emissions, mT:
    Denmark, 2000 & 2018: 57.5/35.7 (-38%)
    UK, 1998 & 2017: 554.7/366.9 (-34%)
    US, 2007 & 2019: 6,003/5,130 (-15%)

    “Substantially” is, I suppose, a subjective term, but I’d find even 15% substantial. And given the current explosion in the deployment of modern wind & solar, backed increasingly with storage, I think that the odds of current EVs becoming substantially cleaner over their lifetimes approach 100%. (Though that isn’t demonstrable in all countries yet, by any means. But it’s true pretty much across the developed world, and may well relatively soon become so across Asia as well.)

  2. 352

    nigelj writes @315:

    8)Try to not be extravagant in our use of resources, however to try to make huge reductions in our use of resources and kind of go bush and abandon huge chunks of technology doesnt make sense

    I see the opposite happening, FWIW.  There are some things we cannot ever run out of, because they come from seawater.  Sodium and magnesium are two such substances.  Then there are substitutes for many scarce materials.  It’s going to be very hard to run out of aluminum (iron is the red coloring in bauxite, too) and we’ve already seen doped carbon nanotubes which are better conductors than copper and many times lighter and stronger.  We can make CNTs directly by electrolysis of molten salt baths which are replenished with CO2.  It’s doubtful that substituting carbon for metals is going to be a significant CO2 sink, but it’s definitely going in the right direction.

    Graphene is a conductor.  Graphene oxide is an insulator.  Could we someday have wires, capacitors and other things made of nothing but carbon and oxygen, maybe with a bit of dopant?  We are seeing the genesis of whole new families of materials based on complex hydrocarbon molecules, processed by laser heating (h/t David B. Benson).

  3. 353

    Kevin McKinney writes @318:

    The global ICE fleet does not consist entirely of Priuses.

    The Prius represents a best-in-class example of what’s already being done.

    there are a number of non-nuclear grids which are also non-fossil, several of which I’ve cited quite recently. (Two are Norway and Uruguay.)

    You forgot Quebec, which is almost entirely hydro.  The problem with these things is that you’ve got to have (a) the geography, (b) the precipitation and (c) a low enough population density that you can serve everyone’s needs with it.

    Sweden, Ontario and France are other examples of almost completely decarbonized grids.  None are 100% nuclear, but they don’t have to be.

    However, there are numerous rebuttals of the documentary.

    I’ve opened them and will read them when I’m done with this comment thread.  I expect to find more than a little evidence-dodging, cherry-picking and other nonsense, which I can and will make fun of here.

    Dogma, more than adequately refuted already by real world examples previously cited at length

    ORLY?  Show me one grid that decarbonized with wind and solar (you can include solar thermal) and got results on the order of France.  El Hierro doesn’t even qualify; it has to fall back to diesel generation for about half its power.

  4. 354

    Mal Adapted loses his #*&! @320:

    I can’t ignore the virulent racism at #284.

    You realize that the concept of “racism” entered the English language from Bolshevik subversion efforts, don’t you?  Worked amazingly well, didn’t it?  Helped a lot that the very people who did that subversion came here and, after a “long march through the institutions”, control most of what we are taught and allowed to say out loud.  Just ask James Watson and James Damore about that.

    You should have figured out by now that such words have no effect on me.  I mock the notion of “white privilege/guilt”, because being attacked for an institution that my ancestors fought to end by the cousins of people who still practice it back in their homeland isn’t privilege, it’s pariah status.  I refuse to accept the label, or the blame.  I took the time and effort to learn calculus, so I refuse to accept blame for people who won’t make their own children shut up, sit down and learn to read.  And if it’s not a question of “won’t” but “can’t”, that just confirms everything the so-called “racists” have been saying for hundreds of years.

    I don’t wish these people harm, but if their own actions will lead them to harm they have to suffer it and learn the lessons themselves.  People like me can explain it to them, but we can’t understand it for them any more than calculus.

    The one thing we owe the planet in general is to FIX THE ATMOSPHERE.  We did the bulk of breaking it, so we have to do the bulk of fixing it.  That starts with not breaking it any further, as fast as we can.  Anything that diverts us from this effort, such as mass migrations of unassimilables into our country to provide cheap labor to plutocrats, is treason to both country and planet.

  5. 355

    nigelj @329:

    For one thing, utilities are still generating roughly the same amount of electricity — even if more of it’s going to houses instead of workplaces.

    Not from what I’ve been seeing.  I didn’t bookmark anything at the time, but I’ve seen stuff at places like Utility Dive which says power consumption is substantially reduced.  And @330:

    However studies show that when executive salaries get truly huge they don’t motivate better performance

    Getting rid of the emphasis on the next quarter’s numbers and making bonuses take at least 5 years to vest would help a lot.

  6. 356

    Killian writes @339:

    Go ahead, explain how that gets done because right now all the idiots are talking about is electricity, which gets nowhere near net zero, let alone drawdown.

    Damn straight.  Get the feeling that you’re all being played?  You are.

    There’s a reason that I’m sketching a total solution, not just for the electric grid.  Because it’s gotta be TOTAL.

  7. 357

    BPL writes @342:

    Because they didn’t understand the photoelectric effect until 1905?

    The first PV cell was in 1883.  I make that 137 years ago.  The first controlled nuclear chain reaction was December 1942; that was 78 years ago this year, a bit more than half as far into the past.  Yet why does nuclear fission generate so much more energy today than PV?

    Wind power pre-dates written history.  Yet just ONE nuclear reactor out-generates ALL the wind capacity in my state… and that reactor is slated to be closed.  Where’s the sense in this?  It’s a policy; it should be a felony.

  8. 358

    writes @351:

    AB, #323–

    Cars last for perhaps 20 years so the odds of improvements in the grid substantially reducing an EV’s lifetime emissions are slim.

    Better hope that’s wrong, given the need to be carbon-neutral by 2050, and well on the way by 2035!

    I think we can do that.  It’ll take concerted engineering effort backed by unflinching policy, but it looks doable.

    Two things are needed to make this happen:

    1.)  Stop making perfect the enemy of good enough.  Push PHEVs for the time being, because we can make a lot more of them more cheaply than BEVs.  We need the average to go down fast, not so much the top few percent.  We can make everything a PHEV for roughly the same effort it takes to make 10% BEVs.

    2.)  Work on decarbonizing ENERGY in general, not just electricity.  If the last 10% of a problem takes the other 90% of the effort (old joke), solve the last 10% as if it’s the first 10% of an unrelated problem.  You can get rid of 80% of liquid fuel consumption with a PHEV (I’ve been doing it for 7 years now), but that last 20% requires much bigger, heavier and more expensive batteries while still not giving you the same flexibility.  So don’t replace that last 20% with electricity.  Replace it with fuels made by thermochemical conversion of random carbonaceous crap, starting with our unrecyclable garbage.  Supply the energy for that thermocyemical conversion from something other than biomass, otherwise you just wind up losing most of your fixed carbon as CO2 in the process.

    Something like the High Temperature Reactor, running at 950°C, could do this (but hotter is better).  An HTR could operate as a general energy source, generating electricity to follow demand while routing its remaining thermal output to gasifiers or even thermochemical hydrogen plants.  Gasifiers are better because there is chemical energy even in garbage and you get greater output for a given input.  Besides, taking a noisome, vermin-attracting input and turning it into clean, inoffensive and useful outputs is just about the ecological (if not romantic Green) ideal.

    And now it’s nine and I’ve got other things I need to do.

  9. 359
    nigelj says:

    Killian @342 ,

    Your criticisms are duly noted but they lack any substance and include copious deflections.

    It was not intended to be a complete list, I have explained the purpose in another comment.

    Obviously there are more things that we have to conserve than just forests. I listed forests because they are especially critical for many different reasons. Its absurd to claim all resources are equally critical. Some things we can use without significant harm to the environment.

    And New Zealand has solved several of the problems I listed within the existing mildly capitalistic socio-economic system as I mentioned, and will solve more, without needing your solution.

    You dont seem to actually disagree with the points I made or provide any specific alternative other than to scream “HOW ABOUT LIVING SIMPLY AS THE CORONA VIRUS HAS AMPLY DEMOSTRATED?????? Nah… can’t have THAT.”

    Covid 19 has only demonstrated a very partial and forced version of simple living, and not a very sustainable one. It has made almost no difference to electricity use, only transport use. People are stuck at home using all the same technology they ever have, eating the same food, madly trying to buy stuff through the internet. If it continues with factories and construction closed there will be life threatening shortages of basic goods and the social and economic pain being caused is already immense.

    Millions are losing jobs and being thrust into poverty. If this is a taste of simplification its niaeve at best. However lockdowns as a short temporary thing do help the virus problem and I go along with that.

    There is more working from home, but it remains to be seen if that continues. I hope it does.

    ‘Simplification’ appears to be based on the following, from your copious past statements. You have stated in the past that climate change and mineral scarcity will cause, or could cause the extinction of the human race, and so we have to urgently and rapidly adopt this simple communal living thing, abandon capitalism, urgently and severely ration the earths remaining resources, and consume a lot less. There is no middle ground in your views, its quite a severe prescription.

    Now I agree with some of this to the extent we need to use the earths resources more sparingly and waste less, and do that immediately, for a range of obvious reasons. I fly less than I used to etc. You appear have taken this resource problem and solution thesis and started to stretch it to the point where it becomes absurd, far too severe, and unrealistic to implement. These are just a FEW of the problems with the stated scenario:

    The basic premise is wrong. You provide no citations that climate change would cause total human extinction, and you fail to to look at how a warming climate would cause extinction in places like Russia because it obviously wont. Warming will be crippling in the tropical regions, with increased mortality, (which is why I advocate for renewable energy etc) but that falls well short of some widespread extinction event.

    Likewise you provide no citations that mineral scarcity would cause human extinction. Its an absurd claim. People survived for millenia just using timber and stone tools. It would take millions of years to literally run out of iron completely especially as we would recycle it, and who the hell cares about millions of years?

    And you have made excessively pessimistic and uncited claims about mineral resource scarcity. Without getting a proper grip on quantities, your solutions are dubious and are just hand waving.

    Because your basic premises are so exaggerated, your solutions come into question with your simplification prescription being far more severe than is justified.

    Of course business as usual use of the earths mineral resources will lead to shortages, but society would adjust and have to slowly adopt a more basic lifestyle. Given you advocate more basic lifestyles and tell us hunter gatherers and subsistence farmers have superior lifestyles to modern humans, its hard to figure out why you are worried that we will eventually be forced towards a more basic lifestyle.

    But your simplification solution has other problems. To achieve your goal of shutting down fossil fueled power generation in America and making do with what renewable energy they already have, imho this would require such huge energy savings as to be unrealistic and hugely uncomfortable. And for what purpose? All that does is delay the point where humans run out of some mineral resources and have to live more simply. There is no point undergoing massive transformational pain and sacrifice of the sort you prescribe, to delay something that is inevitable and which falls well short of human extinction.

    And if we don’t stop using fossil fuels and build at least some moderate amounts of renewable energy (or nuclear power, or both), I promise you it will be the end of the worlds forests. They will be burned for fuel. And if we cant use steel for building people will use more timber. Its human nature. Your unproven ideas have a whole bunch of bad side effects and don’t take sufficient account of human failings. I have hardly scratched the surface of the problems.

  10. 360
    nigelj says:

    David B. Benson @332

    “I recommend that you read “The Midas Plague” by Frederick Pohl.”

    Read the review, sounds weird and dystopian, but intriguing. But I doubt we will ever have an excess of production like that, if that’s what you are alluding to? Just not enough resources robots or not. Still studies like Jacobson show we have enough resources for renewables and uranium exists in the oceans.

  11. 361

    BPL: the myriad factual inaccuracies in the film

    E-P 337: List them. Let’s debate this with facts, not empty assertions (of which you are quite fond).

    https://climatecrocks.com/2020/04/25/planet-of-the-stupid/?fbclid=IwAR1Gl6aV40ZK2wG8_E1uf21PEW48uB-5J0BRnWFiNMkevK8R0QIXJYDoSs0

  12. 362
  13. 363
    Dan says:

    re: 320. The fact is that both F-P and KIA are insecure cowards who hide behind their keyboards spewing hate whenever they can to flaunt their ignorance. The question becomes: Who taught them to be such bigots and cowards let alone their complete ignorance of basic science and the scientific method? And their failure to try to learn it. It is appalling that any educational institution allowed them to graduate without basic science knowledge. Now they desperately seek affirmation from denier sites and other hatemongers such as Breitbart.

  14. 364
    zebra says:

    #328 sidd,

    “refrain from replies”

    But for a number of people here, that’s like asking an alcoholic to “refrain from drinking”. It should be obvious to anyone scientifically inclined, just from ‘eyeballing the data’, that they have an addiction to filling up the pages with their comments.

    It really doesn’t matter what EP is actually saying, or that it is endlessly repetitive and meaningless in any practical sense. That’s kind of the point; it’s really just ritual chanting back-and-forth.

    And, with the added bonus that one’s words are immortalized in some archive.

    I think I’ve pointed out previously the irony of people who are supposedly concerned with protecting the ecosystem from our human over-consumption being unable to control their own appetites. Imagine the forests that would have to be cut down to make enough paper to print the same exact arguments, over and over, as we see here. Maybe someone could find a comparison with the CO2 produced— between that and running the servers?

  15. 365
    Ray Ladbury says:

    MAR@320,
    I didn’t call out EP’s genocidal fantasies for the simple reason that I don’t read anything he writes anymore.
    I can find any information of value he may impart from other sources without having to wade through a cesspit of misogyny, racism and genocidal ranting. I suggest other do likewise and simply ignore this pathetic excuse for a human being.

  16. 366
    jgnfld says:

    @346 EP not “racist”. According to him a while back he’s merely exercising his “birthright”.

    Surely there’s no racism in THAT! Just ask any antebellum planter.

  17. 367
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin: “Substantially” is, I suppose, a subjective term, but I’d find even 15% substantial.

    AB: But I said “lifetime”, which includes the first as well as the last year. So 7.5%? And (subjectively) I don’t find 15% substantial when a 75%(?) reduction is the requirement. 15% is a “feel good” number, not a solution. Heck, upthread folks talked about an EV being equivalent to 52mpg. 15% better by end of life and ya barely match current hybrids’ lifetime emissions. When one can build 10 hybrids with the batteries required for one EV EVs are a step backwards. Hybridizing the entire production immediately would do lightyears more than playing around with a few EVs. Yeah, “the entire fleet at 60+MPG” is my definition of “substantial”. 100MPG is serious, and 200MPG is grand.

  18. 368
    Mr. Know It All says:

    345 – BPL
    “BPL: How do you know the previous episodes of rapid warming weren’t caused by CO2? And when did CO2 not become a greenhouse gas? Do you know what you’re talking about? Why am I even asking?”

    I only know what the scientists tell us. They tell us that a vast region from the Arctic even down to New Zealand (weird) warmed by around 14C over just a few decades, while the CO2 level was sub 250 ppm. Columbia University, not Fox News, Breitbart, or Wattsup tell us so it must be true – although I’d rather be told by one of the foxes on Fox news. :)

    http://ocp.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/arch/examples.shtml

  19. 369
    Mr. Know It All says:

    MKIA above:
    “I only know what the scientists tell us. They tell us that a vast region from the Arctic even down to New Zealand (weird) warmed by around 14C over just a few decades, while the CO2 level was sub 250 ppm.”

    Forgot to say that they tell us no one knows what caused the rapid warming – they say it wasn’t CO2, it wasn’t orbital cycles, etc – they say they don’t know what caused it.

    I’m saying it appears the exact same thing is happening now – Arctic is waaaaaaaaay warmer than just a few decades ago. I know – I was there and saw what it was like with my own eyes and frostbit skin. ;)

  20. 370
    David B. Benson says:

    Summary of the latest IRENA report:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/697/power-world?page=6#post-6587
    of moment here because there is no mention of energy storage other than so-called green hydrogen, a most uncertain method to rely upon greatly expanding.

  21. 371
    David B. Benson says:

    An opinion piece on electric power generation from the relatively poor Ukraine:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/676/foibles-renewables?page=1#post-6588
    Briefly, prices going up.

  22. 372
    David B. Benson says:

    Nuclear waste disposal solved:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/716/nuclear-waste-disposal?page=1#post-6589

    Almost anywhere if one goes deep enough.

  23. 373

    All right, I’ve had a chance to go over the “responses” to Planet of The Humans.
    Bill McKibben’s response is grossly weak.  He cannot deny that he said what he said, so he tries to claim that he meant something else, or it was another time, or something.  Know what?  THE HELL WITH HIM. It was his DUTY to have the facts on his side before he chose what to back.  HE FAILED.  Just like he failed when he went anti-nuclear instead of pro-nuclear, choosing popularity over truth.  Let’s hope this is the end of Bill McKibben.

    So let’s go over Why “Planet of the Humans” is crap.  This is hilarious for being pure offended butthurt over truefact.  First quote:

    Mostly, Planet of the Humans is just so fucking bad. So bad that its good points are useless.

    Yes, deny undeniable truth because it offends narrative.  Narrative Über Alles.  Can you get more offensive to truth than that?  After a bunch of bald assertions without a single number or reference given, it continues:

    Let me be clear. Gibb’s critique of renewables is just wrong, and its proportions are absurd.

    As if saying it makes it so.

    You would never know that the “gas as a bridge fuel” people are no longer held in esteem.

    Yet RFK Jr. is still a respected figure.  But with NG so cheap, the industry doesn’t need a PR campaign to keep expanding its markets.  If things reverse, he’ll be trotted out again.

    But there is this flash of honesty:

    On the other hand, alas, there is another hand. His critique of biofuels, in particular, is generally spot on.

    And as we’ve seen in Denmark, and in Germany, and in the UK, “bioenergy” remains a big part of “decarbonization” plans.

    The pro-nuke people love the film, by the way.

    Spot on.

    Gibbs does take one wee little shot at nukes near the end, but he is so obsessed with revealing “the truth” about renewables that he doesn’t think to scope nukes into his critique, which couldn’t bear the weight in any case. There are lots and lots of people that could have helped him get this right….

    So Gibbs comes under attack for not attacking nuclear energy enough.  You’d think that a documentary that runs 100 minutes was long enough, but no, Gibbs dun rong for not shooting at Athanasiou’s designated villian.

    Then Athanasiou moves to outright lies:

    In fact, Gibbs gets close to charging actual corruption, without a damn bit of evidence.

    Listing the holdings of a “green” investment fund isn’t evidence?  Truth be told, it’s a pretty nice piece of investigative journalism.  But it looks like Athanasiou is betting on his readers not bothering to watch the film for themselves, so they’ll never learn that.

    Commenter Scott Sigurdson makes a solid point:

    What intermittency solutions are there? The author was beyond vague about this. Are we to take his unreferenced claims as gospel?

    “Renewables” are currently less about solutions than about faith.  If you don’t believe, you’re a Bad Person.

    Films For Action makes the same admission as Athansiou:

    Everything Planet of the Humans has to say about biomass itself, however, is true.

    Biomass is a massive con trick that has been hailed, like nuclear power, as a “green” alternative to fossil fuels. Planet of the Humans … does tackle biomass head on as the fake solution it is – in most cases spewing out more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the coal plants it may have replaced.

    Which is why we should not be putting any biomass, save things like byproducts from annual crops, tree trimmings, and so forth into our plans.  Those are going to wind up back in the atmosphere in short order anyway, and we might as well make them do some good on the journey.  But, as with Athanasiou, Gibbs comes in for a bashing for not bashing:

    Planet of the Humans does not attempt to address the scandal of nuclear power

    The “scandal” being that nuclear actually succeeds where “renewables” fail.  France’s grid emits about 50 grams of CO2 per kWh, and Ontario’s grid is clocking in at 14.7 gCO2/kWh as I write this.  And the impressive thing is that this all happened WITHOUT an explicit effort to decarbonize; it was done by accident.

    Of course, no truth-bashing effort like this is complete without a major half-truth, and a half-truth is a whole lie:

    there are now more than 2 million of these farms across the US, with a total capacity of 77 GW (77 billion watts).

    That’s nameplate, of course.  At a realistic capacity factor of 15%, the average generation is under 12 GW; as of last year, the USA was generating an average of about 470 GW.  He goes on:

    Wind may only account for a small percentage of Germany’s overall energy needs, but it produces nearly 30% of its electricity, and that is important.

    That’s pretty much a lie.  We need to decarbonize ALL energy, and if wind can’t contribute meaningfully to anything but electric power, it means the job isn’t going to get done with “renewables”.  Wind may help but as a mainstay it is unfit for purpose.

    Denmark produced 47% of its total electricity in 2019 from wind. These hugely significant and rapidly increasing amounts of electricity coming from wind are not mentioned in the movie.

    What Wallis does not say is that Denmark can only do this because of its fat connections to hydro-heavy Norway, which it uses like a storage battery.  Having Norway next door is a luxury that most of the world cannot enjoy.

    newer CSP designs, like the one operating at Crescent Dunes solar plant in Nevada since 2009, use molten salt to store enough of the sun’s heat to keep the generators running all night long. That cuts out the need for fossil fuels and the need for battery storage.

    Another half-truth.  Left unsaid is that such plants can only be built in deserts, because they require cloudless skies.  Most of the industrial world has clouds and haze, and would be forced to use PV and storage batteries.

    A movie that purports to care about the environment and the future of humanity and yet seeks to undermine support for the very things we must do to save this planet, and ourselves, is worse than a disappointment. It’s reckless.

    And there we go, attacking Gibbs the heretic but using secular language to disguise the religious nature of the claim.  (Probably even from Wallis himself; it’s doubtful that he recognizes himself as a member of a cult.)  To Wallis, Gibbs is a Bad Person for failing to believe; never mind that accurate criticism of a plan that is doomed to fail is essential if it’s going to be replaced with one that works.  Failing to take that criticism seriously and re-evaluate is the reckless course.  But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised:

    Timmon Wallis has a BA in Human Ecology and PhD in Peace Studies.

    This just SCREAMS “innumerate”.  I’ll take even odds that he can’t derive the quadratic formula by completing the square, let alone explain what a petajoule is.

    Just for completeness, I went and looked for the Cedar St. solar farm that is condemned for being hopelessly obsolete.  It’s still there on Google Maps.  I couldn’t find anything about the lifespan of the original 8%-efficient panels shown in the film; it’s possible that they’ve been replaced.  If so, it’s doubtful that they were recycled; at 8% they were probably something like cadmium sulfide cells, and are making a toxic mess in a landfill somewhere.  Such things should be treated as hazmat.

  24. 374
    Al Bundy says:

    I just posted my solution to flooding,”Flood like an Egyptian”, on my blog

    http://the-weaver.org/

  25. 375
    Richard Creager says:

    Engineer-Poet. Thank-you to Mal Adapted @320. The racist BS by whomever calls himself with such irony “Engineer-Poet” need to be named by every regular contributor and lay-lurker. This is a largely self-moderating site. Here’s one lay-lurker calling your BS BS.

  26. 376

    Al Bundy writes @367:

    When one can build 10 hybrids with the batteries required for one EV EVs are a step backwards. Hybridizing the entire production immediately would do lightyears more than playing around with a few EVs. Yeah, “the entire fleet at 60+MPG” is my definition of “substantial”. 100MPG is serious, and 200MPG is grand.

    Amen, brother… but “perfect is the enemy of good enough”.  We don’t need 200 MPG if we can make up the difference between 100 MPG and infinity with carbon-neutral fuels.  (My car is currently indicating a lifetime average fuel economy in excess of 128 MPG.)

    We’ve got too much to do to take the hard road for any of it.

  27. 377
    Mr. Know It All says:

    284 – EP
    “… So-called humans who are objectively no smarter than yeast deserve nothing from us.”

    Would those in this video fit that description? :) :) :)

    https://www.wunderground.com/video/top-stories/south-florida-storm-sends-window-washers-on-wild-ride

  28. 378
    Adam Lea says:

    nigelj@359

    “‘Simplification’ appears to be based on the following, from your copious past statements. You have stated in the past that climate change and mineral scarcity will cause, or could cause the extinction of the human race, and so we have to urgently and rapidly adopt this simple communal living thing, abandon capitalism, urgently and severely ration the earths remaining resources, and consume a lot less. There is no middle ground in your views, its quite a severe prescription.”

    If I understand correctly, the theory is that we have to live sustainably, and in order for human activities to be sustainable, the severe prescriptions are necessary. If we don’t carry out these severe prescriptions, the consequences of unsustainable living will be experienced. History has shown that civilisations that came up against limits or experienced big shocks didn’t fare too well, and modern day humanity is not immune to this. The logical conclusion is we have two choices:

    1. Massively scale back our lives to fit within the strict definition of what it means to live sustainably;

    2. Don’t bother or half arse it and deal with potentially catastrophic consequences when limits are hit and big shocks take place sometime in the future.

    Appealing to a middle ground is a logical fallacy if the extreme solution of severe prescriptions is in fact the correct solution to secure the future of humanity.

    The question is, if the extreme method is the only method, how do we apply it to global societies. Enforcing huge changes to the way of living is in itself like a massive shock to civilisations which can easily cause hardship and suffering, at least until civilisations have adapted to the new normal. Even this current pandemic is causing hardship and suffering, and that is nothing in comparison.

  29. 379

    #367, Al–

    We appear to be talking about slightly different things. You said:

    But I said “lifetime”, which includes the first as well as the last year. So 7.5%?

    No. What I was talking about was the delta in the decarbonization of the various grids over some period resembling the lifetime of an EV. So the 15% fall in US carbon emissions notched over a little more than a decade implies a commensurate–and presumably larger, since electricity has decarbonized a lot faster than most other segments–improvement in the emissions of a hypothetical EV that went on the road in ‘year 1’. And it already would have bested an ICE in most locations at the beginning of that time. Similarly the 38% (IIRC) decreases in UK and Danish grids.

    And (subjectively) I don’t find 15% substantial when a 75%(?) reduction is the requirement.

    I trust it’s now clear this is apples and oranges?

    Heck, upthread folks talked about an EV being equivalent to 52mpg. 15% better by end of life and ya barely match current hybrids’ lifetime emissions.

    Maybe that was correct at one point. If so, that point has receded into history. Here’s something like the latest:

    Electricity power plant emissions data for 2018 has just been released and we’ve crunched the latest numbers. Based on where EVs have been sold, driving the average EV produces global warming pollution equal to a gasoline vehicle that gets 88 miles per gallon (mpg) fuel economy. That’s significantly better than the most efficient gasoline car (58 mpg) and far cleaner than the average new gasoline car (31 mpg) or truck (21 mpg) sold in the US. And our estimate for EV emissions is almost 10 percent lower than our previous estimate two years ago. Now 94 percent of people in the US live where driving an EV produces less emissions than using a 50 mpg gasoline car.

    https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/are-electric-vehicles-really-better-for-the-climate-yes-heres-why

    So, 88 mpg as a mean, and the equivalents range up to 231 mpg (surprisingly, for upstate New York.)

    When one can build 10 hybrids with the batteries required for one EV EVs are a step backwards.

    Only if batteries are the sole limiting factor.

    Hybridizing the entire production immediately would do lightyears more than playing around with a few EVs.

    Not if you can’t sell ’em. Not sure what the current numbers are, but in December ’19, the Model 3 outsold the Prius by 2/3rds (167%)–and the 3 is supply constrained, not by batteries specifically, but by production capacity generally.

    Yeah, “the entire fleet at 60+MPG” is my definition of “substantial”. 100MPG is serious, and 200MPG is grand.

    Well, per the UCS, the entire EV fleet is better than 60 mpg now, at 88 mpg. So if the US grid decarbonizes 15%, as it did previously, then the average EV on the road over that span will, in fact, be getting ~104 mpg.

  30. 380
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @360 — The point is that one can have too much stuff with a so-called full economy.

  31. 381
    nigelj says:

    Here’s another critique of M Moores documentary, a really good one:

    https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/05/michael-moores-planet-of-the-humans-documentary-peddles-dangerous-climate-denial/

    “Michael Moore’s ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary peddles dangerous climate denial. The YouTube film offers outdated and wildly misleading information on renewable energy, sacrificing progress in pursuit of unachievable perfection.”

    “The film suggests that because no source of energy is perfect, all are bad, thus implying that the very existence of human civilization is the problem while offering little in the way of alternative solutions.”

    (It looks to me like the producers don’t like capitalism and its profit motive profiting out of renewable energy, so they shoot down renewable energy, not understanding capitalists will go on profiting out of fossil fuels. So they have just shot themselves in their own feet really. Of course we need to change capitalism or find a viable alternative, but that will obviously take time, so it can’t be a precondition to solving the climate problem)

  32. 382
    nigelj says:

    Zebra says “But for a number of people here, that’s like asking an alcoholic to “refrain from drinking”. It should be obvious to anyone scientifically inclined, just from ‘eyeballing the data’, that they have an addiction to filling up the pages with their comments.”

    Of course that doesn’t apply to Zebras own copious and amazingly stupid rants (sarc)

    Talk about a zebra with no self awareness and a hugely inflated view of its own stripes.

  33. 383

    #373, E-P–

    Ontario’s grid is clocking in at 14.7 gCO2/kWh as I write this. And the impressive thing is that this all happened WITHOUT an explicit effort to decarbonize; it was done by accident.

    There is nothing “accidental” about Ontario’s decarbonization. It was achieved primarily during the premierships of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne (2003-2018). Both were highly intentional in reducing carbon emissions. And the primary instruments in retiring Ontario’s coal fleet were natural gas and wind. True, this decarbonization was built on the fact that there was already a substantial presence of both hydro and nuclear power. (Currently 23% and 34% of capacity, respectively.) But neither of those ‘foundations’ has changed appreciably this millennium. The investments in wind (12%), backed with natgas (29%), was what provided the last increment that retired coal.

    (N.B. I’m originally from Ontario, and still have family there, so I’ve had a pretty good view of Ontario politics and policies even while living in the American South. Heck, I probably wouldn’t be alive if my Ontario hometown hadn’t had hydropower potential, as without it my parents would most likely never have met. There’s a reason most Ontarians still call electricity ‘hydro.’)

  34. 384
    nigelj says:

    Here’s a novel idea. The moderators should edit out racial comments.

  35. 385
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @352,

    “I see the opposite happening, FWIW. There are some things we cannot ever run out of, because they come from seawater. Sodium and magnesium are two such substances…”

    I agree for all practical purposes, but Killian is worried that somehow we could use up all that sodium “eventually” somehow, in some worst case scenario over millions of years, and disperse it in ways where it cannot be recovered, or loose some of it during recycling processes, so we need to conserve it carefully “just in case”. I guess anythings possible, but it seems incredibly unlikely, and I don’t care about time periods approaching infinity.

    Of course some metals are genuinely scarce, and it would make sense for us to start trying to use them a bit more prudently, and being careful not to just throw them away in places where they would be hard to recover. And we don’t want to wipe out our forests and so on. That is what I meant by using resources more sparingly. But this has to be weighed against the good things we can achieve with our resources, and it seems unlikely people would choose to go without basic technology, so it’s a bit of a balancing act. However that’s ok there’s no guaranteed easy solution free of compromises.

  36. 386
    nigelj says:

    EP @373 says

    “Another half-truth. Left unsaid is that such plants can only be built in deserts, because they require cloudless skies. Most of the industrial world has clouds and haze, and would be forced to use PV and storage batteries.”

    The Desertec project has an interesting solution to this problem by using solar power in the blue skies of northern africa to power Europe:

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

  37. 387
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet @354 says “I took the time and effort to learn calculus, so I refuse to accept blame for people who won’t make their own children shut up, sit down and learn to read.”

    Ok fair enough, and yes if people want to get ahead they need to make an effort. I get fed up with stupid, lazy parents. But there are lazy parents of all colours. The way you single out Africa gets on my nerves and other peoples nerves.

    Remember Europe went through a period of warring tribes like Africa, and a horrendous medieval period of ignorance, economic stagnation, and poverty. There are geographical reasons Europe has done better to date than Africa, a good book is Why the West Rules For Now.

    Engineer Poet @355, probably depends on how much industry has been shut down and where you live. New Zealand has a severe lockdown, all but essential businesses closed, and electricity use has dropped 15%. But with so many working from home and winter now arriving the heaters will be going on by the millions, and they aren’t as efficient as heating systems in commercial buildings.

  38. 388
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @367

    “When one can build 10 hybrids with the batteries required for one EV EVs are a step backwards. ”

    Battery for a toyota prius weighs 80kg, and for a nissan leaf EV weighs 293 kgs. Both are similar sized cars in the middle lof the market.

    The toyota prius weighs a total of 1307 kgs and the leaf 1573 kgs. So assuming weight is a reasonable proxy for carbon emissions in manufacture, the leaf has a more carbon content, but not hugely.

    Electric cars make good small town cars and ultra high performance cars. PHEV’s make good cars where you need great range and towing ability for a reasonable price, and have biofuel petrol blends available. Taxi drives love them. Check out the amazing new Lexus PHEV.

  39. 389
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: (My car is currently indicating a lifetime average fuel economy in excess of 128 MPG.)

    AB: Good job. And it shows that with more efficient drivetrains, bodies, and tires/suspensions 200MPG is a reasonable goal for a clean slate design. And that’s high enough that bio/synfuels can provide the required liquids.

    Another side of the pollution issue is tire wear, which turns tires into microplastic based largely on the load carried, which is a demerit for long range EVs’ heavy batteries.
    _______

    EP: But it looks like Athanasiou is betting on his readers not bothering to watch the film for themselves, so they’ll never learn that.

    AB: Even broader a group will come to the “right” conclusion. Human memory etches into a “typical event”. But each time one re-traces the thought another etch hones the memory to more closely focus on bits that most closely fit one of your stereotypical stories. Bits that don’t match the stereotype will either fade or clamor for attention, depending on one’s personality.

    EP: Wind may help but as a mainstay it is unfit for purpose.

    AB: Well, nuclear is limited in how much of its output can be utilized as electricity, with higher ratios of electricity to thermal output tracking at least somewhat with higher cost and increased danger. My ignorant vision is a sub-critical reactor that utilizes a neutron source to ramp up heat generation as required. During summer it could sleep. For some reactors electricity generation can become a minor bit or even omitted.

    If you switched your spiel to “Both” you’d probably be more accurate and definitely more influential.

    And compartmentalization helps. Racial stereotype-casting is for a completely different site than RealClimate.org even if you can draw direct and useful linkages. Perhaps you should “segregate”?
    _____

    David B Benson,
    Looks like a solid way to sequester nuclear waste. Probably better than dumping it, well-entombed, into a trench or subduction zone…

    But I think it would be better to keep waste around safely. As EP notes, lots of the stuff is either useful or will change into something useful if properly coaxed. So, if EP’s vision works and comes to pass it would be better for the repository to be accessible, like Yucca Mtn (or an old reactor containment building?).

  40. 390

    E-P 354: the concept of “racism” entered the English language from Bolshevik subversion efforts

    BPL: Take that, de Gobineau!

    E-P’s knowledge of history is as good as his knowledge of sociology, which is to say, he has an engineering degree.

  41. 391

    E-P 357: why does nuclear fission generate so much more energy today than PV?

    BPL: Because the cost of solar power was very high until it started its present precipitous course downward. Duh.

  42. 392

    Critique: Denmark produced 47% of its total electricity in 2019 from wind. These hugely significant and rapidly increasing amounts of electricity coming from wind are not mentioned in the movie.

    E-P: What Wallis does not say is that Denmark can only do this because of its fat connections to hydro-heavy Norway, which it uses like a storage battery. Having Norway next door is a luxury that most of the world cannot enjoy.

    BPL: E-P, the engineer, can’t do simple arithmetic. Denmark was connected to Norway just as much when they were only getting 20% from wind. Now they’re getting 50% from wind. How much are they now getting if all their other electricity is coming from Norway’s hydro? How much will they be getting from Norway when they’re getting 80% of their electricity from wind? The numerical answer is left as an exercise for the student.

  43. 393
  44. 394
    Mal Adapted says:

    Engineer-Poet:

    That population growth occurs almost exclusively in the turd world. Just stop sending food there and sink the boats coming out; the problem will fix itself. So-called humans who are objectively no smarter than yeast deserve nothing from us.

    I’m quoting the above again, so that there’s no doubt what we’re talking about.

    Thanks to all who responded to my call for outcry against E-P’s virulent racism, except E-P himself. Kevin McKinney in particular:

    Nigel speculates that maybe E-P isn’t really all that bad in real life, and E-P himself has admitted that he likes to play up that sort of thing in order to provoke–in other words, he’s admitted to trolling. Personally, I don’t think it matters. Saying this shit normalizes it, whether you ‘really mean it’ or not.

    Yes. Al Bundy, however, observes:

    EP provides folks with the glorious feeling one derives from believing oneself to be morally superior.

    Feeling morally superior to E-P is easy. There’s no need to explain why his “turd world” screed is wrong: like slavery, if violent racism isn’t wrong nothing is. My fear is that E-P’s pure malignant hatred will become normalized unless it’s collectively rejected. Decrying it doesn’t give me a glorious feeling: rather, not doing so would give me a very bad one.

    sidd also has a point worth addressing:

    Re: “I call on its moderators.”

    They are busy, got better things to do than scanning commentary for offense. As usually happens, exemplified on Usenet, when moderators are slack it comes down to the participants.

    I ordinarily agree that the blog authors have better things to do, but they do intervene from time to time, and this would be a good time! Failing that, E-P’s hate speech should not be ignored by RC participants, but predictably met with scorn and derision. OTOH, please do ignore his technical content. Haven’t we heard it all by now, so couched in contempt for everyone but himself? Why reward him with engagement?

    Finally, to E-P:

    You should have figured out by now that such words have no effect on me.

    Yes, that’s the problem. In Abrahamic religion, pride as the deadliest of sins, for it enables all the others. Your lack of empathy, delusion of superiority and entitled attitude render you incapable of seeing yourself as others see you. I’m not a psychiatrist, but in my opinion you have a severe personality disorder. Sadly, no therapy can help you. All the rest of us can do is reject you, as a carrier of lethal contagion. We may have no effect on you, but a storm of protest just might keep your species of ugly unreason from spreading.

  45. 395
    nigelj says:

    Adam Lea @378,

    “If I understand correctly, the theory is that we have to live sustainably, and in order for human activities to be sustainable, the severe prescriptions are necessary.”

    Please define living sustainably. One possible definition I’ve seen is we only consume things that regenerate like timber. That would reduce us to living like aboriginees, and would certainly be a severe prescription. But to me it doesn’t look like a sensible pathway forwards because it rejects the use of mineral resources and modern technology without being able to articulate just why these things are so bad that we have to abandon them, or most of them. You certainly haven’t articulated a good reason.

    I think a better definition of sustainability is to conserve nature and use mineral resources wisely. I doubt we can be more precise and still have something that is a useful definition that avoids absurdity. All we can do is walk more lightly on the environment, and do our best. Only a middle ground really makes any sense.

    Better farming like organic farming is probably the key, but it is not hugely productive so will have to be phased in gradually as population growth slows.

    “Enforcing huge changes to the way of living is in itself like a massive shock to civilisations which can easily cause hardship and suffering”

    Agreed, so don’t we need very good proof before we engage in huge and rapid lifestyle changes? You haven’t given me any evidence that we should massively and voluntarily downscale our use of technology and energy, you have just waves your arms and quoted vague past problems in different societies with less knowledge than us. On that basis we might as well not get out of bed in the morning in case the sky falls in :)

    We can solve the climate problem with a new energy grid and some moderate, sensible reductions in the use of energy and negative emissions technologies and forests etc. Other approaches look like they would cause more problems that they solve.

  46. 396
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @386 — Desertec has long since been abandoned. Unable to obtain financing.

  47. 397
    David B. Benson says:

    Al Bundy @389 — There is currently a site east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is storing once-through nuclear pins in a highly retrievable manner. Seems a good idea to me.

  48. 398
    Al Bundy says:

    Dan: such bigots and cowards let alone their complete ignorance

    AB: Humans tend to glomb on with negative characteristics. A “cowardly terrorist” could also be described as a “freedom-fighter heroically going on a mission with little chance of survival”. And since that’s what They are calling them your description grates. “How dare They call our Heroes cowards when their soldiers sit in armor while wearing armor? Some hide in bunkers half a world away!” Good for recruitment.

    My take on the local fauna?

    EP isn’t a coward. He’s not ignorant. He’s a bigot who has studied tomes such as “The Bell Curve” and has come to harsh conclusions.

    KIA is a dweeb. He’s probably not as dumb as he plays and definitely not even remotely as bright as he thinks but instead about as talented as he fears. He might have a fairly intellectual job. If so, he’s in over his head so he needs relief. This is his Romper Room, a place to torment and laugh at alarmists. They get to laugh back so all’s good, eh?
    ______

    BPL: E-P’s knowledge of history is as good as his knowledge of sociology, which is to say, he has an engineering degree.

    BPL: E-P, the engineer, can’t do simple arithmetic

    AB: Hmm, mirrored thoughts.

    Electrical grids are like a tightrope walk. You do productive work by getting from the source to the load. However, you will also do non-productive work by waving your arms. If your arms were tied to your sides you would likely fall and suffer a blackout. That wasted work is necessary. Renewables require lots of arm waving. Vast amounts of hydro is like a way long pole, you only need to move your arms a millimetre to keep your balance.
    ________

    Kevin M: Well, per the UCS, the entire EV fleet is

    AB: A small fraction of the fleet so changes in the efficiency of the this-year-dominant format swamp any possible change in such a pitiful fraction. My solution hasn’t changed in years:

    Instead of burning Big Bucks subsidizing EVs, use HEVs and PHEVs as training wheels by giving enough of a subsidy for utilizing even a tiny battery that all manufacturers will choose to go at least mild-hybrid, which will lead to full-hybrid. This acclimates everyone, from manufacturer to shade tree mechanic, with electrical propulsion and regenerative braking.

    Add energy cost to loan qualification ratios. Customers should be able to buy a more expensive more efficient house or car and the system should be set up so that fact is noticed by the customer, by making it a prominent line item in the forms.

    And yes, we’ve got two origins and a few branches in this conversation. Works for me.
    _____

    NigelJ,

    Yes. EVs like the Leaf make grand city-cars, unless one drives for Lyft or otherwise needs endurance. Neighborhood cars would be even lighter.

  49. 399

    Kevin McKinney show’s he’s either deluded or lying @383:

    There is nothing “accidental” about Ontario’s decarbonization. It was achieved primarily during the premierships of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne (2003-2018). Both were highly intentional in reducing carbon emissions. And the primary instruments in retiring Ontario’s coal fleet were natural gas and wind.

    And once again you are wrong, off by decades and backwards on the technology.  The vast bulk of the decarbonization (just like the vast bulk of the total electric generation) came and still comes from 20 CANDU units:  at Pickering (construction started 1971), Bruce Point (construction starting 1977), and Darlington (completed 1993).  Ontario’s 2019 electric mix was 61% nuclear, 25% hydro, 7% wind, and 1-2% other “renewable”.  Your gas and wind (man, that makes an OOCQ) are bit players, providing only 13% of net generation.  The thing that allowed the closure of Nanticoke and Thunder Bay was mostly the CANDU refurbishments.

    Steve Aplin is a Canadian energy professional and covers this sporadically, but his web site updates the Ontario electric stats hourly.

  50. 400
    Ken Fabian says:

    With nuclear on hold until (in my opinion) the conservative-right Wall of Denial comes down – and the people who like it most discover they a reason to really support it rather than just criticise others for not – arguing about it at this point looks increasingly pointless. Solar and wind really do work and the resources and energy their manufacture requires is not excessive – or solar prices would not be heading towards as cheap as potato chip/hamburger wrapper; the costs of those inputs are built into their production costs and if they really were so excessive their prices would not be so low.

    When solar and wind crossed under crucial price thresholds – no matter just periodically or not everywhere – a tipping point was crossed and take-up stopped being simply proportional to price. Nothing is or can be the same after that, including rates of take-up of complementary as well as competing technology. This is so recent that any assessments based on past costs, beyond a year or two (such as the egregious doco under discussion above does), will be very wrong.

    The Australian Electricity Market Operator, that oversees the National Energy Market that runs the electricity grid of Eastern Australia says that with recommended market rule changes the grid can run reliably with solar and wind peaks of 75% as soon as 2025. They see no technical reasons to doubt the percentage that can be accommodated can rise beyond then. What applies to Australian won’t apply everywhere, yet most of the global population live with good solar and/or wind energy resources.

    There is nothing irrational or stupid about climate concerned people being optimistic – now – that wind and solar will keep getting cheaper and better or that the extraordinary surge in energy storage R&D will deliver significant improvements or that businesses cannot adapt their usage with demand management agreements. Or that network and energy market operators will not find ways to better incorporate growing levels of variable supply and maintain system reliability.

    As for the zero emissions endgame – I think no-one knows or can know how that will play out. Especially not with reliable costing. It absolutely will include a lot of other energy and storage than wind, solar and batteries, including, in some nations and circumstances, substantial amounts of nuclear. It may also include a lot of H2, which looks like our best means of decarbonising iron smelting.

    I’m doubtful of H2 as road transport fuel but whatever gas power plants that are still being built (in mistaken belief that they are low emissions or will serve long term as backup to RE) should be H2 capable so that they can be low emissions and transition to zero operating emissions.

    I see on-site H2 production and storage and use as a backup to wind and solar heavy grids as having a lot of potential. These convergent nodes of electricity grids that connect to wide flung solar and wind farms as much as wide flung electricity consumers could be ideal to trial a potentially important energy storage and replacement fuel for fossil gas.

    H2 storage for this would not be long term, the exacting requirements of transport and transport fuel for very high pressure storage will not be there and it doesn’t require economy wide infrastructure to be put in place first; an industrial activity at an industrial site. And if fuel cells do turn out cheaper than burning H2, then ditch the gas burners.

    Commitment to the overarching goal is essential, more so than our choice of technology IMO; just look at nuclear as an example of collateral damage from mainstream climate science denial. But RE, besides being able to thrive despite the conflicted politics, offers flexibility along the course; being an accumulation of a great many quick build projects, if something isn’t working or resource constraints emerge we can and will innovate, modify and adapt. As has occurred recently for solar farms potentially causing network instabilities in Australia having their output curtailed; the naysayers got excited at “proof” that grids can’t work with such sources. But the real result is the capabilities of inverter fed power to give precise control of power, voltage and frequency and overcome such problems have been demonstrated.