RealClimate logo


Forced Responses: Oct 2020

Filed under: — group @ 10 October 2020

Bimonthly open thread for discussing climate policy and solutions. Climate science discussion should go here.

353 Responses to “Forced Responses: Oct 2020”

  1. 301

    E-P 289: It’s deliberate fraud.

    BPL: When all else fails, accuse your opponents of lying.

  2. 302

    E-P, #289–

    Yet more selective reading of his own source.

    Areas that have already been developed and have little wildlife habitat would be better suited for solar development from an ecological standpoint, said study lead author Rebecca Hernandez, a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley, and a former ecologist at the Carnegie Institution…

    Hernandez’s team found that there are more than 8,500 square miles of land throughout California that is less environmentally sensitive than desert scrubland and agricultural land that would be best suited for future solar power development.

    Just as important in reducing the ecological footprint of solar power is the expected growth of rooftop solar, which allows homeowners to generate electricity on site, reducing the demand on utilities’ solar power installations, she said.

    Going back to the underlying paper also finds this:

    After accounting for unprotected environmental attributes like biodiversity, Cameron et al. identified ∼7,400 km2 of relatively low-value conservation land within the Mojave Desert Ecoregion (United States) that can meet California’s 33% renewable portfolio standard for electricity sales seven times over… Hernandez et al. developed a satellite-based decision support tool, the CEEC model, that showed that generation-based technical potential of PV and CSP within the built environment could meet California’s total energy demand 4.8 and 2.7 times over, respectively. Development decisions may also overlook synergistic environmental cobenefit opportunities. Environmental cobenefit opportunities include the utilization of degraded or contaminated lands, colocation of solar and agriculture, hybrid power systems, and building-integrated PV.

    Kinda gives a different spin to E-P’s colorful phrase “dead-nuts on.”

  3. 303

    @283:

    Morality aside, yes, the cost of renewables is kept low artificially by treating all kilowatts equally. The math doesn’t work because peaker plants sit around doing nothing for weeks or months at a time. Why would one build an asset that is dead weight most of the time if one isn’t compensated for sitting around?

    Because if those things aren’t “sitting around”, part or all of the grid has to go “black” just when it’s needed the most.

    That’s coal’s new business model, to have ancient plants with a big pile of coal sit there, ready to be cranked up a few times a year when renewables aren’t cutting it and all the batteries are drained.

    One wonders, given that coal deteriorates after it’s mined, if those plants can actually perform when required.

    Those shiny new natural gas plants will want in on that action as well.

    Gas plants are even worse.  Unless they have fuel oil for backup, they are at the mercy of pipeline deliveries of gas and can be cut off in favor of home heating.

    Once again I’m going to cite Cal Abel’s paper on energy storage and fast reactor economics.  Abel assumes that NG will be available when required, which is increasingly unlikely in a pipeline-constrained economy.  The assumption should probably be in favor of fuel stored on-site, from whatever source and in whatever form.

    But you stridently avoid bio and synfuels here even though you personally are working with them in mind. That’s strange.

    Ye gods, man, I think of them ALL the time.  I’ve run calculations of the energy available from the solid residue of carbonized MSW and come up with a number in the hundreds of MW for my state alone.  The problem is that these things are highly reactive (subject to spontaneous combustion) and thus hard to store.

    Pyrolysis oil (“bio-oil”) is a reasonably storable product of the rapid pyrolysis of finely-divided biomass at ~500 C; about 70% of the input winds up as condensible liquid (roughly 50% water) and the other 30% is solid char and gas.  The process can be run by combustion of the gaeous and solid byproducts, so there is no need to store them.  It’s full of organic acids and other corrosive agents so it also requires some care in storage, and it polymerizes and stratifies over time, but it’s a decent possibility for a carbon-neutral storable backup fuel for power plants.  The lighter the processing, the lower the losses, and the losses are what’s important there.

    I talk about synfuels ALL THE TIME, though not so much here.  Methanol is perhaps THE most feasible synfuel we can make from biomass.  It’s only 3/8 carbon by mass, less than the ~40% of dry lignocellulose, so some admixture of water is required to provide the balance of oxygen and hydrogen.  Methanol also decomposes endothermically to CO and H2 starting at about 180°C over a catalyst, which allows the recycling of low-quality engine exhaust heat to the combustion stage.  It’s toxic to humans but readily biodegradable.  Its dehydration product, dimethyl ether, is non-toxic and a reasonable substitute for propane as well as a high-cetane diesel fuel.  It also degrades quickly in the atmosphere.

    I’m not a fan of impractical 100% measures.  It’s like the 90/90 rule of project management:  the first 90% takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% requires the other 90% of the time.  We can get to 80+% decarbonization of transport by electrification with fairly small batteries (PHEVs, mostly).  The other 15-20% can be done with unconventional biofuels like MeOH.  Crops like maize produce roughly as much non-grain biomass as stalks, leaves and cobs as they do kernels, so there’s plenty to work with.  Rice in particular requires the residue to be removed to get rid of pathogens, and that’s currently done mostly by burning it.  Cotton is the same.  Why not transform to fuel?

    You know that a fleet of hybrid vehicles powered with 60% efficient engines could easily keep the lights on throughout any rational lull in renewables’ generation.

    No, I don’t know that.  I strongly suspect that it’s not true, because the random and seasonal gaps in “renewable” energy availability are huge.  A nuclear economy has no such gaps in supply, and can carry over surges in demand much more easily.  That’s part of why I believe it’s the least-impact way to power an industrial society.

    Putting a Nuclear Colony in Antarctica that utilizes the continent’s grand heat sinking ability to help generate all the non-fossil fuel the world can guzzle would be a rather easy lift that places essentially nobody in danger.

    I wouldn’t want to despoil Antarctica just to have a heat sink.  Heat is heat wherever it is.  It probably has the least impact in the tropics.

  4. 304

    @294:

    yeah, he tried in June, got his Engineering Ass handed to him repeatedly

    I explained it to you.  I can’t understand it for you.

  5. 305
    Mal Adapted says:

    I’ve said a few times that I expect a carbon-neutral economy to include some nuclear energy, where it’s cost-effective in competition with other “alternative” sources. New by the excellent John Timmer on arstechnica.com/science, the main popular science news and analysis site I comment on: Why are nuclear plants so expensive? Safety’s only part of the story. The title is a mini-abstract. Argue with the author (free account needed to comment), not me, as I’ve got no skin in this game.

  6. 306
    mike says:

    Here’s a report from a friend who works in Sub-Saharan Africa:

    “In central Tanzania among the Maasai, women and 8-10 year girls had already been walking nine hours a day for water. They would leave at around 3 a.m., having placed their younger children in a pen (usually around 30 children and one old man), and return at around noon. Every single day. If they didn’t go, there would be no water for the family.. If they had to goto a clinic, no water.

    But with global climate change, it has now gotten worse. Some women are now walking up to 13 hours – leaving around 11 p.m. and returning at noon the next day. Then cooking, preparing kids for school caring for animals, and, perhaps, sleeping.

    In India, much of the country is becoming desert. in 2019, the city of Chennai (10 million people) quite literally ran out of water. Restaurants and all businesses dependent upon water closed. People didn’t take a shower for 6-8 weeks at a time, tropical heat. People began to leave the cities, and head for the countryside.

    There is not only less rain (though where I live, rainfall has declined fro 38 inches a year to 24 inches since 1990.) Rather, rainfall is concentrated into fewer months – leading to an increased cycle of drought and floods.

    I personally work on mitigation (more of that at another time.) The point being that permanent climate changes are here now. We would do well to stop harping on the 1.5-2 degree future increase in temperatures, and look at what is here NOW.

    David”

    so, when we talk about what is realistic in terms of cutbacks that folks in the first world can make to reduce future impacts of climate change, we demonstrate the privileged existence that we enjoy. We demonstrate how little understanding and compassion we have about current and future global warming impacts on other beings on the planet.

    My connection to Africa is through extended family in the Dinka tribe of South Sudan. The young men that I took in as refugees in 2001 are now all working so hard to survive in the US and to send money back to family in Africa who are really struggling with climate change. The problem in some areas of South Sudan has been flooding this year.

    So, when you chip in here and say, well, we can only do so much about emissions without damaging our economy, just remember that there are 8 and 10 year girls in Tanzania who are longing for the good old days when they only had to walk for 8 or 9 hours per day to bring back water for their families.

    Give that a little thought, please before you offer up your feeble aspirations for changes in the lifestyles of first nation human beings.

    Mike

  7. 307
    Omega Centauri says:

    Since there was some picking on African countries up above, some good news about the continents most populated country:
    https://thenationonlineng.net/enter-nigerias-first-electric-car/

  8. 308
    zebra says:

    mike #306,

    Well written and very moving, seriously.

    But me, I live in the USA, where people refuse to wear fricken’ masks, even to protect close family and people in the small town they grew up in, like their former teachers and other important acquaintances, with people dying right now.

    What’s your plan, mike? Shout louder?

    Bad stuff is going to happen. We are not going to reach zero emissions in 30 years. The most optimistic scenario is that there will be serious reductions over the next 100 years, and that the disruption caused by changing climate does not lead to war over water involving nuclear weapons, and that the disruption will not lead to a world with dictatorial nation-states going to war over fossil fuels which they will burn to keep the AC on, making things even worse.

    Whatever dire predictions you can make or even prove are meaningless. Just ask Mitch McConnell.

  9. 309
    nigelj says:

    “The intention of the GND isn’t anything close to drawing down carbon or preserving the ecosystem, and it does neither. It’s sole goal is BAU, electrified. The proponents and funders don’t even attempt to hide this.”

    This is simply not even remotely true as documented below:

    https://www.investopedia.com/the-green-new-deal-explained-4588463

    Bidens climate plan analysed below and is similar:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/green-new-deal-joe-biden-climate-change-plan/

  10. 310
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @308 said: “But me, I live in the USA, where people refuse to wear fricken’ masks, even to protect close family and people in the small town they grew up in, like their former teachers and other important acquaintances, with people dying right now.”

    It gets worse as below:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/11/16/south-dakota-nurse-coronavirus-deniers/

    “South Dakota nurse says many patients deny the coronavirus exists — right up until death”

    This is an ominous sign of just how many people will probably continue to deny AGW climate change and mitigation proposals, even if the world boils. But denialists are in the minority now, and I think we have to go on trying to persuade people even shouting a bit. We are democracies and even a small change in numbers can sometimes swing elections and overall weight of sentiment and personal lifestyles.

    I admit reaching zero emissions in 30 years is unlikely, but if we talk about that too much it will become a self fulfilling prophesy, and we wont do anything in 100 years either. Zebra does major in pessimism a bit, even more than me. However the 1.5 degree goal looks like an impossibility. I mean you reach a point where things are just truly impossible.

    Mikes post on Africa appeals to me a lot, but will do nothing to convince Americas conservatives. You need as many conservative votes as possible to get anything done politically. They just don’t respond very well to that sort of liberal leaning rhetoric. Studies have been done on this. We should maybe concentrate a bit more on selling the general economic and lifestyle benefits of renewable energy grids, sustainable housing, eating less red meat, flying less etcetera rather than moralising and preaching too much.

  11. 311
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet @303, why not use electromethane as a storage medium to assist with renewables intermittency issues. I think that was one of AB’s points. Electromethane self combusts under certain conditions but is not a huge problem, is easy to produce, easy to store in existing storage, energy efficiency is quite decent. Its not perfect but its an economical storage medium.

  12. 312
    mike says:

    What’s your plan, mike? Shout louder?

    No, my plan is to shame and ridicule the folks who pose pathetic climate action plans as if they are profound and sufficient.

    If you think we can wait until 2050 for serious action and climate justice, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Your privilege is showing and you are simply a neocolonialist when you come up with the weak level of action. What you choose is not necessarily realistic, it is just what you choose and you should be ashamed for the choices you are making.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  13. 313
    Piotr says:

    E. Poet: “I explained it to you. I can’t understand it for you”

    Unfortunately for Poets – everybody can check your empty claims against the facts: e.g. the list of 5 problems with your put-down of renewables in my post @1 in http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2020/06/forced-responses-jun-2020/

    To which your response was to …confuse providing backup with providing … base load (your example of Quebec). When I popinted out the difference between these two to you – your brilliant comeback was: “GFY” (“Go Fuck Yourself” for those not fluent in engineering arguments).

    Right up there with your current arguments: your discrediting renewables by …calling them: “Ruinables“.

  14. 314
    Susan Anderson says:

    Heartfelt thanks to mike (~306) for that narrative.

    We are spoiled. I think the minimum standard for every human being should be clean accessible water. We don’t recognize that we have more than we need …

    Bill McKibben names advertising, but I think his focus is too narrow. Our “cultural” norms of consumption are propped up by advertising and PR well outside the arena of big fossil lies.

    Now I want to focus on another industry that buttresses the status quo: the advertising, lobbying, and public-relations firms that help provide the rationalizations and the justifications that slow the pace of change. Although these agencies are less significant monetarily than the banks, they are more so intellectually; if money is the oxygen on which the fire of global warming burns, then P.R. campaigns and snappy catchphrases are the kindling.

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/when-creatives-turn-destructive-image-makers-and-the-climate-crisis

    We are all too habituated to current modes of consumption and waste, and this cannot continue if we want a future.

    zebra, quite right, but I’m going to pass on that. Good stories are always useful.

  15. 315
    Al Bundy says:

    mike: So, when you chip in here and say, well, we can only do so much about emissions without damaging our economy, just remember that

    AB: the vast majority of stuff that is claimed to damage “our” economy is just that:
    damaging plutocrats’ ownership. To go to the next level requires the reducing of the value of society’s current capital goods to scrap value. So the boons provided by advancement are not even close to the losses suffered…

    …if you legally own all that scrap.

    So when you read or watch stuff, remember how much cash can be profitably spent ensuring that advancement is delayed until your capital goods are fully utilized.

    But the Magic of the Market ensures that the vast majority of owners own not-fully-used-up capital goods, so the signal to advance is swamped. Oops. It seems capitalism is fatally flawed, if one likes advances, that is. Cuz you end up with “business cycles” that force shit via incredible pain instead of a rational system’s organic flow.

  16. 316
    Al Bundy says:

    Capitalism, a system where incredible defects, such as business cycles, are crowed about (since pain and agony are the bestest things in the world?)

    Seriously, has ANY capitalist-leaning economist done a comparison between FREE capitalism and FREE laborism? Of course none have, since the answer is: “Even though a modern society can create capital with the wave of an electron in a computer the digits in that computer that represent obsolete scrap-value machinery are way more important than any other digit.”

    Why?

  17. 317
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: Whatever dire predictions you can make or even prove are meaningless. Just ask Mitch McConnell.

    AB: Apparently zebra believes that the USA’s “leader of the world” status is a birthright. I think any country has the right to become a backwater. Fuck “I’M THE PERFECT LEADER!!!!” My goal is to get the USA to rise to “mediocre”. In any case, leader, fellow traveler, or kicking and screaming, I plan on helping the world even if the place I happened to be born in continues to go bonkers.

  18. 318
    Killian says:

    300 James Charles:“Preface. Even a simple object like a pencil requires dozens of actions to make and dozens of objects that took energy to make. This is why it is unlikely wind, solar, or any other contraption that make electricity, have a positive return of energy, or energy returned on energy invested. If you look at all of the energy of the steps to create a wind turbine or solar panel, they don’t produce as much energy as it took to make them, and certainly not enough extra energy to replace themselves. Besides, electricity is only about 15% of overall energy use, with fossils providing the rest transportation, manufacturing, heating, and the half a million products made from fossils as feedstock as well as energy source.”

    I’ve pointed all this out for a decade and longer here. The people who post here, both scientists and laypersons, will not listen because it means change they refuse to accept.

  19. 319
    Killian says:

    306 mike: Here’s a report from a friend who works in Sub-Saharan Africa:

    “In central Tanzania among the Maasai, women and 8-10 year girls had already been walking nine hours a day for water. They would leave at around 3 a.m., having placed their younger children in a pen (usually around 30 children and one old man), and return at around noon. Every single day. If they didn’t go, there would be no water for the family.. If they had to goto a clinic, no water.

    But with global climate change, it has now gotten worse. Some women are now walking up to 13 hours – leaving around 11 p.m. and returning at noon the next day. Then cooking, preparing kids for school caring for animals, and, perhaps, sleeping.

    In India, much of the country is becoming desert. in 2019, the city of Chennai (10 million people) quite literally ran out of water. Restaurants and all businesses dependent upon water closed. People didn’t take a shower for 6-8 weeks at a time, tropical heat. People began to leave the cities, and head for the countryside.

    There is not only less rain (though where I live, rainfall has declined fro 38 inches a year to 24 inches since 1990.) Rather, rainfall is concentrated into fewer months – leading to an increased cycle of drought and floods.

    I personally work on mitigation (more of that at another time.) The point being that permanent climate changes are here now. We would do well to stop harping on the 1.5-2 degree future increase in temperatures, and look at what is here NOW.

    David”

    so, when we talk about what is realistic in terms of cutbacks that folks in the first world can make to reduce future impacts of climate change, we demonstrate the privileged existence that we enjoy. We demonstrate how little understanding and compassion we have about current and future global warming impacts on other beings on the planet.

    My connection to Africa is through extended family in the Dinka tribe of South Sudan. The young men that I took in as refugees in 2001 are now all working so hard to survive in the US and to send money back to family in Africa who are really struggling with climate change. The problem in some areas of South Sudan has been flooding this year.

    So, when you chip in here and say, well, we can only do so much about emissions without damaging our economy, just remember that there are 8 and 10 year girls in Tanzania who are longing for the good old days when they only had to walk for 8 or 9 hours per day to bring back water for their families.

    Give that a little thought, please before you offer up your feeble aspirations for changes in the lifestyles of first nation human beings.

    Mike

    I can help your people there. Let’s connect off-forum.

  20. 320
    Killian says:

    OMG! I am SO shocked! This can’t be! Renewables will save the world!

    Won’t they?

    No?

    Oh…

    https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/plug-hybrids-new-emissions-scandal-tests-show-higher-pollution-claimed

  21. 321

    K 298: The intention of the GND isn’t anything close to drawing down carbon or preserving the ecosystem

    BPL: It’s just to serve the interest of the lizard people!

  22. 322

    JC 300: If you look at all of the energy of the steps to create a wind turbine or solar panel, they don’t produce as much energy as it took to make them

    BPL: Don’t make stuff up, James. It’s too easy for people to check, and then when they do, and find out you’ve been lying, they stop listening to you.

  23. 323
    jgnfld says:

    @304 “I explained it to you. I can’t understand it for you.”

    To understand you, one has to accept all your (quite aptly named) ‘assumptions’.

  24. 324
    Alastair McDonald says:

    Zebra, re #306 & #308

    I don’t think that Mike or even you or me shouting will make much difference, but if Gavin or David Archer did then that might start a snowball, kick things over the tipping point. At present they seem to be devoting their energies to downplaying the possible consequences of the rapid warming in the Arctic.

    Rather than criticising the Guardian for “click-bait” headlines, isn’t that what headlines are supposed to do, they should be reporting the increase in droughts and floods that are happening not just in Africa and India but also a third of the USA. See https://www.climate.gov/maps-data/data-snapshots/data-source-drought-monitor.

  25. 325
    Mal Adapted says:

    Mike @306:

    Give that a little thought, please before you offer up your feeble aspirations for changes in the lifestyles of first nation human beings.

    I can’t argue with your point, Mike, but how do you propose to get there from here? As a US citizen, my perception is that the only serious obstacle to decarbonizing the US and global economies is political. We just ended the Trump kakistocracy, in an election with the highest voter turnout since 1908 (and even Trump’s director of the DHS Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency said, before he was fired, that this election was the “most secure in American history“). Biden received a record 80 million votes. I voted for him, not because I expect him to lead us to carbon-neutrality in eight years, but because voting for anyone else, or not voting at all, was a vote for Trump. My decision on the margin was justified when Trump, by far the most preposterous POTUS I’ve experienced in seven decades, received 74 million votes: 10.1 million more than in 2016. The Senate results sadly show the same national divide 8^(.

    So I’m confronting the reality that 3 weeks ago, for the second time, nearly half my fellow US voters chose the conspicuously unmoored Donald Trump over moderate, science-respecting, experienced Joe Biden. A couple of days prior, my Trumpist next-door neighbor gratuitously brought up BLM and antifa with me. He saw on Fox News that fentanyl was found in George Floyd’s blood (it was, but the knee on his neck is what killed him), so he blamed Floyd for his own death by police. I might have gotten a little loud before I managed to get a grip (we were standing on my property), but I wasn’t actually looking for trouble, so I didn’t bring up climate change. Since he’s in denial of the plain evidence for widespread police bias against Black people in this country, I suppose he’s an AGW denier too.

    My point? I’d love it if America achieved net-zero emissions in eight years! I’d love it if racist police were called out by their fellow officers, and the worst fired with due process! Tell me how you’ll get my neighbor and 74 million of his fellow Trumpists to cooperate, because I can’t seem to make ’em! And don’t suggest “2nd Amendment remedies”, because they’ve got more guns! Call me Mr. Adjectives and Adverbs, but I advocate E. Ostrom’s incrementalist, polycentric approach to climate action not because I’m unwilling to participate in collective decarbonization actions in any scope, but because for better or worse, “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon” (G. Hardin) depends on the rule of law to succeed! Does that really need to be said?

  26. 326
    zebra says:

    mike #312,

    mike:

    “your privilege is showing”

    mike’s plan:

    “my plan is to shame and ridicule”

    Ah, the ultimate sacrifice of the ‘non’-privileged… sitting at the keyboard indulging oneself in feeling self-righteous and morally superior.

    Hope you at least have a comfortable chair.

    Cheers.

  27. 327
    zebra says:

    Alastair McDonald #324,

    “…if Gavin or David Archer did then that might start a snowball, kick things over the tipping point.”

    Why???

    This is just a form of magical thinking. Who are they going to convince to do what? Did you miss the part about masks… or the people who wanted to kill Dr. Fauci for even his restrained public communications?

    Wake up people. If you believe in science and quantities, then stop ignoring the psychological and political/geopolitical realities that must be dealt with.

  28. 328
    Mal Adapted says:

    Al Bundy::

    Fuck “I’M THE PERFECT LEADER!!!!” My goal is to get the USA to rise to “mediocre”. In any case, leader, fellow traveler, or kicking and screaming, I plan on helping the world even if the place I happened to be born in continues to go bonkers.

    More moral clarity!

  29. 329

    Engineer Poet @303, why not use electromethane as a storage medium to assist with renewables intermittency issues.

    Three reasons:

    1.  It’s grossly inefficient.  Methane is a very stable molecule with a high heat of formation, which energy is lost.

    2.  Leakage makes ANY methane a serious climate problem by itself.

    3.  “Renewables” themselves are an environmental problem in their own right, due to the collateral burden of intermittency and the huge land-use impact because they are so diffuse.

  30. 330
    mike says:

    “I can’t argue with your point, Mike, but how do you propose to get there from here?”

    I don’t know for sure how we get there from here. I think we have to talk the talk and walk the walk. So, that means speaking and working for political change that might bring top down policies that would reduce the suffering from global warming and it also means making changes in our own ways of living that are significant and reduce our personal carbon footprint. It’s not an either or problem/solution, this is a both and problem/solution.

    At AB at 315: Yes, the bs about how we can’t wreck our economy to address climate change is simply bs. Climate change is going to wreck our economy. An extinction event wrecks economies. But a lot of folks with very traditional and limited vision will fall for the line about wrecking the economy and will repeat it endlessly. It’s pathetic and distressing to see how that happens over and over and has political traction with a lot of voters who then choose parties whose climate and environmental goals appear to be seeing how fast we can destroy the planet.

    email me, K if you want to be in touch with my friends working in Africa. The groups I am lightly connected to are primarily working on agriculture and clean water projects.

    Cheers

    Mike at small blue planet dot org

  31. 331
    mike says:

    at ABM at 324: Exactly right, I think. We have to see if it is possible to move folks like Gavin to stop nitpicking and playing “big dog” with other authentic scientists who are choosing to do their science, but are also speaking out (Semiletov/Gustaffson and others) in a manner that appears to mobilize human beings to change.

    There must be some scientific common ground for making a strong and united argument that human beings need to reduce their emissions hard and fast instead of choosing to cast aspersions on each other over the ways they speak to the press and how that discussion gets printed. The folks who are criticizing Semiletov, Gustaffson, et al don’t seem to be reading the things those scientists are actually saying. They are punching at a straw man like “imminent, massive releases of CH4.” I think that is a shameful misrepresentation of what the scientists actually said.

    Cheers

    Mike

  32. 332
    nigelj says:

    BPL @322 ” Don’t make stuff up, James. It’s too easy for people to check, and then when they do, and find out you’ve been lying, they stop listening to you.”

    Exactly so. The stuff he posted trying to discredit renewables is not consistent with what I’ve read, isn’t backed up by any actual math, despite all the superficially impressive sounding detail, and obviously came from an oil industry lobbyist. Trickery and sophistry.

  33. 333
    James Charles says:

    “BPL: When all else fails, accuse your opponents of lying.”

  34. 334
    Dan says:

    re: 320. Spewing non peer-reviewed results from Transportation and Environment, a climate change denying organization? Seriously? You drank their Kool Aid completely. You do realize this site is run by scientists? smh

  35. 335

    James & Killian:

    Even a simple object like a pencil requires dozens of actions to make and dozens of objects that took energy to make. This is why it is unlikely wind, solar, or any other contraption that make electricity, have a positive return of energy, or energy returned on energy invested.

    Uh-huh.

    And even a simple object like a pencil requires dozens of digits if its mass is expressed in nanograms. This is why it is unlikely that any unaided human can ever learn to count that high.

    IOW, rarely have I heard a conclusion so radically unmoored from its putative premise.

    In other business, this is just in–Kevin Marsh, former CEO of SCANA, once a Fortune 500 enterprise with a century or so of history, will plead to fraud in connection with the failure of the VC Summer reactor expansion, the second SCANA exec to do so.

    https://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article247398515.html

    “As construction problems mounted, costs rose, and schedules slipped, Marsh … hid the true state of the project,” an information — a charging document — in the case said. “Through intentional and material misrepresentations and omissions, the defendant, Kevin Marsh, deceived regulators and customers in order to maintain financing for the project and to financially benefit SCANA,” the information said.

    Marsh’s long running cover-up enabled him and other SCANA top officials to continue collecting generous salaries and bonuses and to deceive stockholders, investors and regulatory officials about the true state of the company and its high-profile nuclear project, according to records and evidence in the case.

    Among people hurt by the cover-up were hundreds of the nuclear plant’s construction workers who lost their jobs when SCANA abandoned the project and hundreds of thousands of SCANA’s utility customers, who for years had extra fees tacked onto their monthly bills to help pay for the massive nuclear project.

    Losses were in the “billions of dollars,” the information said.

    SCANA, with the permission of state regulators who were kept in the dark about problems at the nuclear construction site, raised customers’ rates nine times to help pay for the project. In all, customers paid an additional $2.2 billion in monthly bills over more than five years, the information said.

    SCANA used $500 million of that $2.2 billion to pay dividends to its shareholders, the information said. On Wall Street, the company became known for a reliable stream of increasing dividends and a rising stock price.

    Fraud, of course, is neither unique to the nuclear industry, nor inherent to it. But I do have a few takeaways from this ongoing fiasco.

    1) Marsh probably didn’t set out to commit fraud. It looks to me like a ‘slippery slope’ of mounting financial challenges and consequent fears of investor non-confidence–fears which would, of course, have fed back into the building financial crisis. Marsh at some point went over the line trying to hold things together–that point most likely occurring when a Bechtel consultant team reported in 2015 that the project was failing, and were duly hushed up.

    2) The difficulties at Summer were fully mirrored by its Georgia twin, the Vogtle expansion. The main difference there is that a larger state and a utility with deeper pockets are going to be able to push through and complete the project. The AP1000 has been a boondoggle even in China, where 4 have been built–albeit with 9 years from groundbreaking to commercial operation, and reported cost overruns of about 55%. (And is Sanmen 2 *still* down with a bad pump? I haven’t found anything to say otherwise so far. If so, that would mean that it has so far operated commercially for all of four months!) This all comes despite glowing promises of standardization and lower cost–promises that we can reasonably infer Mr. Marsh to have trusted initially.

    https://www.powermag.com/more-delays-for-vogtle-plant-expansion/

    (TBF, the latest delays are COVID-related, not inherently due to nuclear tech. But one issue that is inherent to traditional nuclear tech is the tendency of any delay for any cause to have massive effects on the bottom line due to capital costs. One might hope that SMRs address this by lessening upfront investments, but that remains to be seen.)

    “We expect the pandemic will continue to present challenges and risks to the Project… Even with this realization, the fact remains, however, that circumstances outside of our direct control may arise that could affect project performance and cost. Currently, the range of impact to the Company’s estimated total cost is $70 million to $115 million.

    3) Although Vogtle has been troubled for a long time, that doesn’t mean that it has been entirely lacking in benefits for Georgia Power. There’s a bit of a mystery:

    Vogtle’s meager 1,000 MWs of capacity was never needed (it only increases Georgia Power’s capacity by 7.0%), …Georgia Power’s sales volume has actually declined over the past 10 years [and] costs keep escalating… In the past five years, Georgia Power actually reduced its total capacity about 3,600 MWs and yet it still has more than 30% excess capacity. So why does Vogtle’s construction continue?

    Maybe because the utility has been charging Georgia ratepayers for years for the construction costs?

    “It has become obvious that the project is a cash cow for this state-regulated, for-profit monopoly. The PSC has been grossly negligent in allowing this boondoggle to continue at the expense of the public it is supposed to protect.”

    More specifically:

    There was no mention that Georgia Power ratepayers have already paid over $2.5 billion with nothing to show for it because of anti-consumer state legislation passed a decade ago that allows utility customers to be charged in advance for the nuclear project’s financing costs — including profit for the Company.

    https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/436876-rewarding-failure-taxpayers-on-hook-for-12-billion-nuclear

    I think it’s accurate to say that there is a serious lack of transparency around pretty much everything about Vogtle:

    https://www.savannahnow.com/news/20181006/georgia-power-ratepayers-not-protected-in-new-plant-vogtle-owners-deal

    4) So, while some anti-nuclear sentiment is certainly due to radiophobia as charged by nuclear advocates here, a good deal more of it is due to the demonstrated financial risks of a toxic brew of industry incompetence and utility kleptocracy.

    Vogtle will probably come into operation, maybe even next year, and I devoutly hope its non-carbon-emitting gigawatts end up displacing some fossil fuel generation. But it will have done so at the price of seriously poisoning the well for traditional nuclear. And, honestly, nuclear period. Nu-scale isn’t Westinghouse, but they perforce wear the same label, and they make similar promises. Any trust they get will be hard-earned.

  36. 336
    Al Bundy says:

    EP,

    Yes, my frustration was poorly worded.

    You think that the ecosystems in Antarctica can be salvaged? I’m sure there are a fair number of incredibly protected sites with nary a macroscopic lifeform in sight. And if there’s a wreck, spills of alcohol or CH4 aren’t disasters like oil.

    Given that nukes have to shut down nowadays when things get too hot, and Carnot’s infatuation with cold sinks, your proposal to put things in the tropics needs expanding. Perhaps an ammonia bottoming cycle?

    But if you want to get folks to agree to nukes, Not In Anyone’s Back Yard is the way to go. Once you show how grand it all works, society can decide whether to invite nukes into its cities. That’s why I think putting a nuke up at the tar sands would be grand. Instead of using fossils, let the nuke melt stuff. It can even evaporate those poison lakes.

  37. 337
    Al Bundy says:

    Mal Adapted: that fentanyl was found in George Floyd’s blood (it was, but the knee on his neck is what killed him), so he blamed Floyd for his own death by police.

    AB: Folks under the influence of serious opiates can be so drowsy/out of it that they have trouble following orders. Perhaps confusion was confused with uppitiness.

  38. 338
    Mal Adapted says:

    Al Bundy:

    …Fuck “I’M THE PERFECT LEADER!!!!” My goal is to get the USA to rise to “mediocre”. In any case, leader, fellow traveler, or kicking and screaming, I plan on helping the world even if the place I happened to be born in continues to go bonkers.

    Me too, but:

    …Trump, by far the most preposterous POTUS I’ve experienced in seven decades, received 74 million votes: 10.1 million more than in 2016. The Senate results sadly show the same national divide 8^(.

    “America, what a country!” -Y. Smirnoff. Whining aside, I beg the world’s pardon on behalf of of the USA. I don’t demand we be a perfect leader either, but we do bear a disproportionate per capita responsibility for AGW. Yet we’re only human, i.e. mediocre. I, for one, blame my neighbors as well as myself: a moral conundrum 8^(!

    Even at my age, I wanly hoped for an effective national plurality in support of aggressive federal decarbonization policy. This year’s election came up painfully short! The Executive branch of our government officially recognizes the climate-science consensus (again), but the Senate is still in denialist hands as I type, while both the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court grew less receptive to collectively internalizing fossil energy’s climate change cost, whether by directly raising the price or by limiting the supply. One out of three branches is better than none, but still a long way from a net-zero US economy. And of course, as they have repeatedly done in the past, my fellow voters may backpedal in ’22 and/or ’24; while the current “conservative” (i.e. not really) SCOTUS majority is stable at least until the next two justices die, either of which could occur during the next GOP Administration.

    So? As long as GMST keeps rising, I pledge as an American climate realist to reduce my personal and collective footprint as compatible with my mundane requirements; and as the real prices of renewable energy and storage continue to fall throughout our national economy. Yeah, it’s a conservative, i.e. incrementalist, strategy. Sorry, it’s all I’ve got. I’m only human. Who isn’t?

  39. 339
    Piotr says:

    Killian, you dog, you did _it_! You bedded yourself a fossil fuelist, didn’t ya? ;-)

    Long. long time ago, (well, 2 days ago), in his never ending quest for ego validation – Killian, the last of the knights that say ni to renewables, jumped at the chance of finally being right and everybody else being wrong:
    Killian @318:
    I’ve pointed all this out for a decade and longer here. The people who post here, both scientists and laypersons, will not listen because it means change they refuse to accept.
    … and landed unexpectedly in bed with … a fossil fuel enthusiast, James Charles #300, and his fossil muse: Alice Friedemann, whose words he faithfully copied and pasted, from Alice’s captivating ode to the Oil: “The Invisible oillness of everything”. [Piotr: I am not kidding, see the footnote]

    In those doom and gloom dark days of COVID – “The invisible oillness” is a ray of joy. It will bring a smile to your face, guaranteed! My favourite – the praises for oil and other non-renewable resources are coming from the mouth of … a pencil (yeah, the 1st person singular!). Oh, Where art Thou, my friendly Microsoft’s Clippy, the Paper Clip ?

    But let’s get back to the parchment at hand, as read and endorsed by Killian @318 (“ I’ve pointed all this out for a decade and longer“), like this:
    JamesCharles@300: “If you look at all of the energy of the steps to create a wind turbine or solar panel, they don’t produce as much energy as it took to make them, and certainly not enough extra energy to replace themselves.

    What, no mentioning of the assumptions and methodology used? No mentioning of the results proving these confident claims? What is this “extra energy to replace themselves” you speak of – is it the energy needed to produce the next wind turbine, or panel – and if yes – how is this DIFFERENT from the previous one [“energy it took to create a wind turbine or solar panel”]? And why would it be “certainly” bigger than the other one [ “certainly not enough extra energy to replace themselves” ] ???

    Then, in the final bizarre turn, in the discussion of _energy_, our Alice defends fossil fuels by pointing how great oil is in the … non-energy uses???
    ”the half a million products made from fossils as feedstock”.
    That’s like defending coal power plants because “without CO2 the Earth would be a very cold and lonely place” and “plants need CO2 for food!”.
    If anything, I’d argue the opposite – if we depend so much on the non-fuel uses of oil, then is it right to rob future generations of this great multi-use feedstock, so we can …. burn it???? And is it right to rob much further generations of a chance to forestall their possibly coming ice age?

    Who could answer these questions? Not James @300, for he is only a copyist, and not the copied, since she did not answer any of these in her full article. So who? How about you, Killian? After all, you have “ pointed all this [sic!] out for a decade and longer here”! Right?

    ===
    ^* “The Invisible oiliness of everything”
    http://energyskeptic.com/2020/invisible-oil-and-energy-payback-time/
    Piotr: And that oil-lobbying pencil not only talks, but also treats readers like half-wits – writes every important point not only in all-CAPS, but also: boldfaced or italicized. Patronizing paper pusher!

  40. 340
    Piotr says:

    BPL @322:” Don’t make stuff up, James. It’s too easy for people to check, and then when they do, and find out you’ve been lying, they stop listening to you.

    Piotr: Don’t be too hard on him, Barton – James didn’t make up the stuff. He merely copied it from somebody who did: Alice Friedemann: “The Invisible oillness of everything” http://energyskeptic.com/2020/invisible-oil-and-energy-payback-time/
    So he is a victim here … ;-)

    As for Alice Friedemann work, as I already wrote in my response to Killian, I strongly recommend having a look (reading might be too much to ask). In her article, Alice expands on her main claim from the “preamble” pasted by James: defending fossil fuels by pointing to the … non-fuel uses of oil. ;-) This logical fallacy renders the rest of the article a doomed, although quite an entertaining, trainwreck: particularly with the main protagonist there being a … self-aware pencil (“Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?“)

    But even with that pencil guy, things go off the rails really quickly, when the pencil turns out to be an ass, talking down to readers as if they were children or half-wits:
    to show the fossil fuel energy inputs (OBJECTS made using energy, like the pencil, are in BOLD CAPITALS, ACTIONS are BOLD ITALICIZED)

    The result? Page after page with tens of fully capitalized, boldized or italicized words. Like the portrait of His Highness Emperor Franz Joseph
    defiled by the droppings of blasphemous flies, if you know what I mean (Svejk).

    But seeing Killian jumping in with fossil fuel enthusiasts:
    I’ve pointed all this out for a decade and longer here. The people who post here, both scientists and laypersons, will not listen because it means change they refuse to accept
    was worth all the abuse from the stupid pencil … ;-)

  41. 341
    Killian says:

    The basic reality of what is and is not sustainable means the denialists will use real facts to support their bullshit. One of the real facts is that virtually EVERYTHING WE MAKE is limited in multiple ways. The limits are real. That is the only thing I am responding to. That you idiots try to pain that as whole-cloth aceptance of denialism is as stupid as all the other shit you idiots say.

    You can’t accept sustainability. It scares you. You attack.

    Stupid.

  42. 342

    Piotr, #339–

    Yes, I’ve pointed out more than once that oil is too useful and irreplaceable to be burning for fuel. Does Alice Whosis really make the turn from that point to defending the burning of oil?

    If so, file under “Tangled Web, Weaving of.”

  43. 343

    You think that the ecosystems in Antarctica can be salvaged?

    We don’t have to “salvage” anything.  We just have to fix the climate and leave them alone.

    I’m sure there are a fair number of incredibly protected sites with nary a macroscopic lifeform in sight.

    What about the micro?  There are crypto-flora literally living inside rocks.  It would be a crime to harm them.

    And if there’s a wreck, spills of alcohol or CH4 aren’t disasters like oil.

    CH4 is a disaster because of its high GWP.  Methanol or dimethyl ether are far better, but shipping stuff worldwide from the most remote point on the planet is going to be trouble regardless.

    your proposal to put things in the tropics needs expanding. Perhaps an ammonia bottoming cycle?

    No point.

    if you want to get folks to agree to nukes, Not In Anyone’s Back Yard is the way to go.

    You forgot the NOPEs:  Not On Planet Earth.  Besides, vast amounts of territory require low-grade heat for a substantial part of the year, and the only good way to deliver that is to have the source nearby.

    That’s why I think putting a nuke up at the tar sands would be grand. Instead of using fossils, let the nuke melt stuff. It can even evaporate those poison lakes.

    Would there even be a market for bitumen-derived fuels in a mostly-nuclear economy?

    If we got serious about sequestering carbon, one of the first things we would do is start stuffing CO2 down into depleted oil fields.  That CO2 would dissolve into and mobilize the remnant oil in the rocks that was held in place by the immiscible water (see “fractional flow”).  With a radically reduced demand for oil and a newly-liberated supply, bitumen would be superfluous and almost certainly uneconomic.

  44. 344
    nigelj says:

    mike @331

    “at ABM at 324: Exactly right, I think. We have to see if it is possible to move folks like Gavin to stop nitpicking and playing “big dog” with other authentic scientists who are choosing to do their science, but are also speaking out (Semiletov/Gustaffson and others) in a manner that appears to mobilize human beings to change.”

    Yes it can seem like scientists are playing top dog and nit picking, but they are not always doing that. In fact scientists are trained to mercilessly attack each other work, to expose errors and junk science. Seems to work well given the huge advances science has made. Without this we would have an even bigger problem with “junk science”. I personally find it brutal at times, especially when things I say as a lay person (more or less) get ripped apart, but I think it is the right process, as long as it doesnt become personal.

    “There must be some scientific common ground for making a strong and united argument that human beings need to reduce their emissions hard and fast instead of choosing to cast aspersions on each other over the ways they speak to the press and how that discussion gets printed.”

    Yes, but the vast majority of scientists are doing that anyway. Some scientists do “cast aspersions” over each other, and it sometimes does degenerate into personal fueds, but that doesn’t detract from a strong united argument, and is not a reason not to criticise bad ideas. Its like any debate people need to keep it clean and not personal.

    “The folks who are criticizing Semiletov, Gustaffson, et al don’t seem to be reading the things those scientists are actually saying. They are punching at a straw man like “imminent, massive releases of CH4.” I think that is a shameful misrepresentation of what the scientists actually said.”

    I can’t recall anyone claiming the Guardian article and the related research said anything about “imminent massive releases of methane”. Who specifically said this?

    The critics did say the following: “This (Guardian) article’s claim that methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean are starting to be released, awakening a “sleeping giant”, cannot be supported by the limited observational data. Besides, even if these newly found seeps are increasing, they are located too deep in the ocean to have a significant impact on the concentration of methane in the atmosphere.”

    https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/guardian-article-on-arctic-methane-emissions-lacks-important-context-jonathan-watts/

    “Awakening a sleeping giant” is strong language and as pointed out does seem rather unsubstantiated. I think it might be sensible to just concede the Guardian got a little carried away and not defend the indefensible. I have read many climate articles by the Guardian and they are mostly very good, and I have financially contributed to their website. But I think its important to call out hype for what it is, to stop it growing further into more and more hype, you know what the media get like. Hype feeds the climate denialists, who have used it to try to discredit the entire field of climate science.

    That said there are many methane issues that are obviously cause for real concern as you have pointed out yourself. The melting permafrost involves some complicated processes and while I think the scientific community have a good grasp on it, and how quickly it will melt, but its not a perfect grasp and there’s a lot of permafrost and a lot of methane so the precautionary principle should apply, suggesting climate mitigation must be robust and rapid.

    And here again, maybe you are confusing comments on why progress is not as rapid as we want, with the desire for rapid progress and doing something.

  45. 345
    nigelj says:

    Piotr @339 @340, amusing & accurate.

  46. 346
    nigelj says:

    Climate change is not going to wreck the economy. This is just self interested right wing and business community hype trying to preserve the status quo. Studies have consistently shown we can mitigate climate change for around 2% of global gdp (total global economic output) each year between now and 2050, eg the Stern report. To put this in perspective most governments spend more each year on old age pension schemes, and about the same on the military.
    I think you would therefore be able to take 2% out of the world economy without significant compromise to the ‘economy’. I think you could even take 10% out of rich world economies to combat climate change, and we would still do ok. Again look at what was achieved in WW2. And remember many climate change mitigation proposals create jobs and create longer term cost savings, for example renewable energy.

    But I think its really important to be upfront that climate change mitigation WILL cost money that would have gone into other resources and it isnt going to come for free. The public are not stupid and they will not forgive lies, deceits spin and hype.

  47. 347

    E-P 329: “Renewables” themselves are an environmental problem in their own right, due to the collateral burden of intermittency and the huge land-use impact because they are so diffuse.

    BPL: They are far, far better than fossil fuels, and they are even better than nukes.

  48. 348
    Al bundy says:

    Piotr: But seeing Killian jumping in with fossil fuel enthusiasts

    AB: I find it admirable when someone agrees with something said by someone they fundamentally disagree with.

    Which is really a low bar. This society sure has warped and cheapened everything.
    Happy Thanksgiving. O joy.

  49. 349
    Al bundy says:

    Mike: If you think we can wait until 2050 for serious action and climate justice, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    AB: one of us is confused. You see, I think that to finish a multi decade job in full by 2050 would require starting and kicking it full on pretty much yesterday.

    So, I’m missing your point. You’re saying that completely solving this in 28 years, or, more accurately, stopping our adding to the damage, is….what?

  50. 350
    Mal Adapted says:

    Kate Marvel on giving thanks in a time of AGW:

    Our climate is changing because of our actions. We can already see the impacts: changes in the range and behavior of animal species, coastal cities smashed by hurricanes and inundated by floodwaters, a haze of unseasonal wildfire smoke. Science says nothing about how to feel about these changes. I feel grief, guilt, anger, determination, hope, and sadness all at the same time. But what I feel more than anything is gratitude for what we have. We live on a medium-sized rock that goes around a garden-variety star in a galaxy that exists only because of a flaw in the smooth perfection of the early cosmos.

    Science says there is nothing special about our place in the Universe. I have to disagree.

    Science, IOW, affirms our mediocrity. Specialness is in the eyes of the beholder, not intersubjectively verifiable. It’s how we feel special that matters, to ourselves, other people and the biosphere. AFAICT, Dr. Marvel implies that when we are thankful for the cosmic imperfections that created us and all we hold special, we are more humble: i.e. we more clearly apprehend our limited scope for free will. It helps us recognize our existential obligations, and boundaries. Amen to that!

Leave a Reply

Comment policy. Please note that if your comment repeats a point you have already made, or is abusive, or is the nth comment you have posted in a very short amount of time, please reflect on the whether you are using your time online to maximum efficiency. Thanks.