We’re pleased to report that, after a rough start, Nature’s blog ‘Climate Feedback’ seems to have gotten back on track. We’re happy to endorse it as a useful resource for those interested in relatively informal discussions of issues at the leading edge of current climate research.
A good place to start are two excellent recent entries by Kevin Trenberth of NCAR. The first of these provides an update on where the scientific debate over the influence of global warming on hurricanes currently stands. The second responds to the latest attempt by the Wall Street Journal editorial page to foist fallacies about climate change upon its readers.
99 Responses to "Worth a Look"
Ray Ladbury says
Ron Durda, I’m a physicist, not a philosopher, but I perceive in Zeno an assault on objective reality. One of the problems Parmenides had was that he could never really describe what he meant by reality as unity. What was clear, though, was that if he was right, our perceptions of reality could not be trusted. In other words, knowledge of reality could not be obtained empirically.
In order not to take the discussion too far afield, such assaults on the concept of objective reality persist today. On the right, we have fundamentalists castigating those pesky scientists for letting empirical facts get in the way of what the “know” to be real. On the left, we have New Age (rhymes with sewage) types thinking all we have to do to combat war and climate change is “thing good thoughts” or that climate change can’t be happening because “the Universe is friendly”. There are times when I think Lindzen’s belief in his Iris comes dangerously close to such thinking.
Empiricism remains the only thing that grounds our rational analysis–to the point I would contend that no analysis can be called rational if it doesn’t start with an empirical basis. And empirical evidence says we’re heating things up–a lot.
Craig Allen says
Following up on my posts on the building Australian drought catastrophe :
The government has just announced over a billion dollars for the next two years to help farmers and rural communities, including assistance for farmer to leave the land. See here for details.
Meanwhile the following press release from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology talks about research findings, about to be published, that suggest that the cause of our drought is a long term weakening trend in the Walker Circulation. A trend that is likely to continue under global warming.
Walker circulation weakens to record levels
Australian climate scientists are investigating changes in the El Niño, tropical climate and one of the planet’s most important atmospheric systems – the Walker circulation.
In research published in the latest edition of Geophysical Research Letters scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO have confirmed that since 1977 changes in the tropical atmosphere and ocean reached record levels.
The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (an index used to track the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon) has never been lower and the trade winds have never been weaker, while tropical ocean surface temperatures and air pressure recorded over northern Australia have never been higher in the observed climate record.
The changes reflect a record weakening of the Walker Circulation – one of the largest and most important atmospheric wind systems in the world. Changes in the Walker Circulation are known to increase the risk of drought, flood and agricultural production in many countries – including Australia.
Writing in the latest edition of Geophysical Research Letters, Dr Scott Power from the Bureau of Meteorology and Dr Ian Smith from CSIRO suggest that ENSO values have actually shifted to lower mean values.
“El Nino activity only seems very high if climate is assumed to be the same now as it was 50 years ago. It isn’t. ENSO is now driving climate variability about new climatic averages” said Dr Power.
“While concerning, taking these changes into account has the potential to unlock more accurate seasonal climate forecasts.”
For their research Dr Power and Dr Smith examined changes in 30-year averages in sea surface temperature, air pressure and wind-stress records.
Walt Bennett says
There is a Powerpoint Presentation making the rounds which seeks to discredit CO2 as a driver of major climate change. Below is an excerpt from one of the slides. I need somebody better educated than I am to make sense of it:
“In thermodynamics we separate between two different properties: intensive and extensive. Intensive properties are mass independent, like temperature, pressure, concentration, pH, etc. Extensive properties are mass dependent, like mass and heat energy. Physics professor Bengtsson likes to show his students the difference between intensive and extensive properties by walking barefooted on burning coal. How is it possible to walk on coal, burning at >500°C? There is a fundamental difference between temperature and heat energy. The high temperature is not backed by high heat energy, because the charcoal has such low mass. His feet have more mass and they are cooling the high-temp. charcoal. Heat energy and heat capacity are fundamental parameters for climate modeling, coverning temperature. Ask climatologists for an energy budget!”
Jim Galasyn says
Re Zeno, et al., nowadays, aren’t we comfortable with the idea that capital-R Reality is both continuous and discrete, static and dynamic, quantum and relativistic, fractal and smooth, random and deterministic, fuzzy and crisp, etc. and etc., all at once?
Hank Roberts says
> 52, Power and Smith, weakening of the Walker circulation
I’d sure like to see more on this, I realize it’s not well understood; there are a lot of questions about changes in humidity and global wind that are wide open.
I recall five years ago,2002, mention of “decadal-time-scale strengthening of the tropical Hadley and Walker circulations”
But was that a transient increase, info from different instruments, different analysis?
Karen Street says
Re the question of showing a political film like Who Killed the Electric Car? at a science meeting:
GM was insensitive to the those who loved the electric car — I rode in two of them and personally found them QUIET!
I thought the electric car was hurt by relatively little consumer interest, but killed by analyses of how much lead was getting into the environment by batteries of a few years ago.
Isn’t the fate of the plug-in hybrid resting on a combination of the cost and environmental effects of batteries?
Ray, in a post referencing Lindzen’s beliefs, shouldn’t your last statement read; “And my interpretation of empirical evidence is we’re heating things up–a lot.”? Or are you a card-carrying-member of the ‘purely scientific’?
David B. Benson says
John Carter (50) — Regarding your first question, try
and the references therein.
caveat bettor says
I just created a global warming prediction market here:
Please sign up and trade ($5,000 of play money). Let’s hope we can get a real market up and running, and better inform our policy on global warming.
Climatic degeneration apparently spurs technological innovation, Realclimate.com is very boastful of all the new technological instruments that are used to measure growing ecological pathologies. I suppose the AIDS virus must do something similar for large pharmaceutical bureaucracies.
Rod B says
Ron and Ray, Gee, the Zeno thing is now starting to remind me of quantum electromechanics and particle physics!, and how that ties into Zen Buddism per ??? (somebody — mind went temporarily blank). But then I’m just weird, I guess.
Lawrence Brown says
Re #53 regarding temperature and heat,climatologists do use energy budgets in their calculations. A simplified model is given in the following link:
and more complex models use these energy balance basics as well. To say that they aren’t energy based is disengenuous at best and fraudulent at worst.
Heat measures an amount of energy flow, while temperature measures the intensity of the heat. A lit match for example will burn your skin when touched, but won’t supply much energy to say heat a room while a tank of water at a lower temperature than the match will heat the room. Heat refers to the transfer of energy from a hotter to a colder body. Once it’s transferred the internal energy of the receiving body has increased.
ray ladbury says
So, Michael (#57) what evidence do you suggest suggests a cooling climate? If you have no suggestions, might I suggest a rule even Ernst Mach could swallow: If all the evidence points one way, that’s a pretty safe bet. Might I suggest Helen Quinn’s recent essay:
Lynn Vincentnathan says
RE #52 & “El Nino activity only seems very high if climate is assumed to be the same now as it was 50 years ago. It isn’t. ENSO is now driving climate variability about new climatic averages” said Dr Power.”
I’ve also been thinking that El Nino is a warmer ocean (& La Nina, cooler), but warmer compared to what??? Last year, 10 years ago, the entire recorded history of ocean temps? And how do we know if it’s only El Nino (and nothing to do with GW) and not mainly global warming.
It’s like when the weatherman says “the temperature is average for this time of year,” he means compared to the past 10 or 20 years, not compared to the whole of the recorded temp history. So if GW increases slowly enough, we may only be seeing in general only slightly above average temps well into the future…..
John, it might also be said that necessity is the mother of invention.
Luke Silburn says
Walt Bennett @53
I had a look at that slideshow and even I, as a reasonably well informed layman, could spot some severely dodgy bits to it.
For starters he mentions on the ‘daily life uses for CO2’ slide a couple of pages in that CO2 is used as a neutralising agent for acid lakes which is 100% wrong – CO2 is actually the reason those lakes are acid in the first place. He also includes Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) on that page – that’s less egregious since baking soda is used as a precursor for CO2 in cookery, but still.
The middle sequence of slides discussing stuff like recent temp trends and the various chemical reactions that involve CO2 are a bit haphazard and all over the place – this might be because these are slides intended to support a spoken lecture – but various denialist talking points (CO2 is the Gas of life, no MWP in the IPCC global temperature series) crop up every couple of slides or so.
Then there’s the bit towards the end with the diagram of the balance beam which is arguing that because the oceanic reservoir of CO2 is 50 times the atmospheric reservoir there isn’t enough fossil carbon in the lithosphere to double atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (per the IPCC’s projections). Leaving aside the fact that this ignores other sources of carbon (tundra melt, methane clathrates etc) this visualisation only holds for when the various reservoirs are in equilibrium (ie. you’ve mined all of the fossil carbon out, dumped it into the atmosphere and then waited for a millenium or three for the various carbon sinks in the earth system to draw down the increased C02 concentrations in the atmosphere and establish a new equilibrium).
Now the whole point of the IPCC is that they are concerned about the effects on our civilisation of the [i]transient impulse[/i] of carbon that we are injecting into the system – to argue that the final equilibrium cannot possibly be as high as the IPCC is projecting for the height of the disequilibrium and that therefore the IPCC’s work can be discounted, displays either an astonishing ignorance of the subject or intent to deceive. Given that the slideshow then goes on to discuss at some length the residence times of CO2 in the atmosphere it would appear to be the latter – although to be charitable, from looking at his website, the author (Tom V. Segalstad) thinks that the atmospheric residence times for C02 is only 5 years – much shorter than people like David Archer believe to be the case (eg. this entry https://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/03/how-long-will-global-warming-last/#more-134).
Doing a bit of digging turns up the following post by Eli Rabbett that mentions Segalstad in passing:
(It’s the post entitled ‘Gift For John H…’ dated Dec 14th)
and his name turns up linked to various astroturf outfits (European Science and Environment Forum, CFACT).
So on balance (and as a layman) I’d say that the slideshow is a crock.
Ray Ladbury says
Re 53. Damn, what sloppy work. I mean, I think he only managed to mention about half the denialist talking points! He needs to contact the mother ship immediately for an update.
The main fallacy, though, is the “equilibrium” assumption. Equilibration between atmospheric and geologic/oceanic CO2. Worst of all, he’s demonstrated he is entirely ignorant of the processes that go on in a brewery! Here’s a pretty thorough refutation:
Proof once again that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing–and this guy has way too little knowledge.
Timothy Chase says
Luke Silburn (#66) wrote:
I realize you probably already know most of this, but for the benefit of anyone new and my own understanding…
One of the big problems with the analysis of the oceans by climate skeptics is that they will treat the ocean as if it were a single block of ocean and carbon dioxide is absorbed uniformly throughout its volume rather than relying upon ocean circulation and diffusion before it reaches an equilibrium distribution. There are layers to the ocean, and even now anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions have are fairly concentrated within the top two meters. Likewise, there is a skin to the ocean where due to the increased acidity that results from carbon dioxide which has already been absorbed – and creates a barrier to the absorption of additional carbon dioxide.
Then there is another common “error” in which they will assume that the carbon dioxide which is absorbed by the ocean isn’t largely replaced by the carbon dioxide which is leaving the ocean. Even under equilibrium conditions, the ocean is emitting carbon dioxide, but this is balanced against that which it absorbs.
Additionally, as carbon dioxide raises results in higher temperatures in both the atmosphere and the ocean (we are able to measure the effects of global warming as far down as 1500 meters), this tends to raise the rate at which carbon dioxide is emitted by the upper layers of the ocean – just as a soda is less able to hold its fizz at higher temperatures. Absorption tends to take place by the colder waters of the Arctic and Antarctic – and these are already losing their ability to absorb the carbon dioxide which we are emitting.
But the mechanism is a little different from that which we were expecting, at least in the case of the Antarctic. However, it helps to have a little background on the structure of the atmosphere to understand why. The lower part of the atmosphere, where we live, is called the troposphere. It is warmed principally by moist air convection.
The reradiation of thermal radiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect primarily of cooling the atmosphere. It absorbs plenty of thermal radiation, but this is more than balanced by the thermal radiation which it emits. The additional radiation which the surface receives as the result of greenhouse gases reradiating more thermal radiation (more or less in all directions – about half of which goes back to the surface will warm the surface resulting in more moist air convection.
The farther you go up, the drier the atmosphere becomes until finally you reach the tropopause where there is very little moisture. As a result there is less and less moist air convection with altitude within the troposphere until finally at the boundary of the troposphere there is no moist air convection at all. Consequently the temperature drops with altitude in the troposphere. But above the tropopause which marks the end of the troposphere, the temperature actually rises with altitude in the stratosphere.
More greenhouse gases will have the effect of cooling the stratosphere rather than warming it, principally because it lowers the rate at which thermal radiation is able to leave the lower layers of the troposphere and surface. As such, while the climate change that results from more greenhouse gases warms our part of the climate system, it has the effect of cooling the stratosphere – with a long term thermal equilibrium within the stratosphere coming about only as the result of thermal diffusion. And it cools the stratosphere first – even before it begins to warm the troposphere.
However, one exception to greenhouse gases lowering the temperature of the atmosphere is ozone. This gas is able to absorb ultraviolet radiation directly from sunlight rather than being limited to the infrared thermal radiation being radiation from the surface. However, it tends to be destroyed in moist air – as the result of OH radicals resulting from water molecules being struck by ultraviolet radiation. Consequently it tends to be limited to the upper parts of the troposphere and stratosphere.
The layer of ozone in the atmosphere has been partly damaged as the result of CFCs which were in use until the 1970s – and this damage shows up particularly near Antarctica. This has already reduced the temperature of the stratosphere to a fair extent in that area. However, the increased moisture in the troposphere is reducing it further, resulting in the stratosphere becoming cooler due to additional moisture in the lower atmosphere resulting in more water molecules reaching the stratosphere – and thus more OH radicals which destroy ultraviolet-absorbing ozone.
The lower temperature of the stratosphere and the higher temperature in the troposphere then results in increased atmospheric circulation – wind. This will carry the moisture in the troposphere higher, resulting in the destruction of more ozone – lowering the rate at which the ozone layer is able to heal.
Now given the lower temperature of the Antarctic, this is where much of the carbon dioxide gets absorbed by the ocean. However, this is also where the stratosphere tends to be closer to the surface. As a result, the warmer temperature of the troposphere and the cooler temperature of the stratosphere will result in increased wind at the surface of the ocean. This brings up organic material from the depths of the ocean – resulting in more carbon dioxide being emitted in that part of the ocean. And as a result it has been lowering the ability of the southern ocean to absorb as much of our carbon dioxide emissions.
Incidentally, the cooling of the stratosphere is one of the key pieces of evidence which demonstrates that what is causing the current trend towards warming in the troposphere is increased greenhouse gases – not solar radiation. More solar radiation would result in the warming of both the stratosphere and the troposphere.
Lawrence Brown says
Once again on Walt’s comment on the slide presentation, I get the feeling that walking on hot coals can be more readily explained by a magician like James Randi, rather than a scientist. This looks suspiciously more like show biz, than physics.
Andrew Sipocz says
Re: 68 And is it this increased wind speed in the Antarctic that is causing the recently reported melt anomolies on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? Or is it global temperature increases finally feeding down to Antarctica? I’m unclear on this point.
Timothy Chase says
Andrew Sipocz (#70) wrote:
Not sure – I hadn’t thought of it. But given the sporadic nature of such melting I would suspect that the increased windspeed and changing ocean circulation is changing the atmospheric circulation, making it more likely that at least occasionally the isolation created by the circumpolar circulation will breakdown to some small extent, bringing warmer air into the interior of the continent. If so I have to wonder whether this trend will become more pronounced as time goes on. Might not be good.
But this is just an (un)educated guess on my part.
Lynn Vincentnathan says
#56, WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? did implicate consumer lack of interest — largely due to bad advertizing. It implicated nearly every sector — car cos, oil, gov, us people, limited range, etc. And it is also a great film for discussing the technology, as well, and the history (EVs were some of our first cars).
But I was surprised — though I shouldn’t have been, bec I knew people into EV conversion & their mantra about very low maintenance — that the very low maintenance and need for parts was perhaps one of the biggest factors. Car companies make big bucks off of parts sales and maintenance, sort of like those darned expensive ink jet cartridges.
I think that although lead acid batteries are still the primary ones used in EVs, there’s lots of other battery options, and more are coming on-line, that would allow greater range, less charge time, and ? be less polluting. If EVs were a big thing right now, the battery tech would be developing a lot faster.
Walt Bennett says
Re: #72 and others, what came across most clearly to me were (1) those who leased the EVs loved them dearly; (2) in the vast majority of trips for which the EVs were used, the mileage was well within the vehicle’s range.
Poor marketing doomed the EV, as well as a legislative sellout in CA.
Lawrence Brown says
Re #68, I followed along agreeing ’til I came to the following paragraph and began to get snowed under (not an unusual circumstance,for me):
“The reradiation of thermal radiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect primarily of cooling the atmosphere. It absorbs plenty of thermal radiation, but this is more than balanced by the thermal radiation which it emits. The additional radiation which the surface receives as the result of greenhouse gases reradiating more thermal radiation (more or less in all directions – about half of which goes back to the surface will warm the surface resulting in more moist air convection.”
Did you mean to say that the reradiation by greenhouse gases has the direct effect of warming the atmosphere? It, the CO2, of course absorbs thermal radiation and reradiates thermal radiation in all directions,about half of which goes back to the surface warming the surface. I can’t see where the cooling comes to play.
Would you expand on this paragraph? Thanks
Hank Roberts says
One thing to clarify — this is nitpicky but finding the right words for what’s happening can reduce people’s confusion:
“The term reradiate is a nonsense term which should never be used to explain … don’t ever teach nonsense by claiming that the radiation is trapped, …”
Timothy Chase says
Lawrence Brown (#74) wrote:
Conservation of energy implies that the amount of energy which greenhouse gases emit have to be equal to the amount of energy which they absorb – assuming their temperatures remain constant. But much of the energy in the lower atmosphere where moist air convection takes place is from moist air convection itself, latent heat which moist air gives up to the surrounding atmosphere as the moisture condenses. This is energy which greenhouse gases absorb as the result of collisions and radiate as thermal radiation.
So no, typically the net effect of reradiation by greenhouse gases is to cool the surrounding atmosphere. The difference between absorption and reemission is made up by latent heat due to moist air convection. Greenhouse gases warm the air principally by the indirect means of warming the surface, giving rise to moist air convection, and the release of latent heat by moist air is what warms the atmosphere.
Anyway, that was extemporaneous. The final copy will look better…
Walt Bennett says
What a cool site. I wish more people would post links to academic resources such as this, to give us non-college folk a leg up :-)
Timothy Chase says
Hank Roberts (#75) wrote:
Actually, I should have checked the following diagram, too:
The Energy Balance and Natural Climate Variations
More radiation is actually thermal radiation radiates towards the surface than radiates towards space, at least from the atmosphere as a whole – although at any given altitude, it may be either direction. I believe this has something to do with the variation in atmospheric density, but don’t know for sure. More digging. But it might be worthwhile for me to just try and get to the point that I can redraw the diagram and then work on explaining various aspects of it in more detail. Overkill, perhaps.
Timothy Chase says
PS to #78
Regarding more of the atmospheric thermal radiation reaching the surface…
I believe one way of looking at this is as a random walk:
The energy of thermal radiation is first emitted at the surface or else rises from the surface in the form of moist air convection and then is converted to thermal radiation when the moisture gives up its latent heat. Most of the energy comes from surface thermal radiation, but in any case, when it is emitted as thermal radiation, it will typically be closer to the surface, and assuming multiple absorptions and emissions for a given packet of energy where emission is largely isotropic (i.e. equal in all directions), it has a much shorter distance to travel to reach the surface than it does to reach space. As such, the majority of energy which the atmosphere emits in the form of thermal radiation will end up returning to the surface rather than escaping into space.
Anyway, I have given the same answer before, more or less, but it took me a little bit of time to recall it. However, if anyone knows better…
David B. Benson says
Timothy Chase (79) — Yes, a one-dimensional random walk with a reflecting barrier at the surface provides a simple model (one which is sufficient for me).
Lawrence Brown says
Regarding Timothy Chase’s comment 76, thank you for taking the time and trouble to further clarify the process – and for the link to the energy balance chart in a later post. I’ll go over the explanation,and chart,and work through the numbers on the chart in detail,and I’m sure the light will come at some point. And I won’t use the term “rerad….” again, thanks to Hank Roberts link to Mr. Fraser’s short course in Bad Greenhouse.
Re Lynn and Who Killed the Electric Car
The only thing that killed the GM EV1 was insufficient battery technology. This is why Time mag recently named it one of the 50 worst cars of all time.
Wikipedia offers a more even handed histroy of the EV1
It seems that things have not changed much since I was on campus. You said, “Yesterday our Environmental Club on campus regretted it had not gotten it’s act together in time to participate in the sci/tech fair next week.” Back in the good old days when I was in school (majoring in chem/env. sci.) I noticed that most of the members of the environmental club were loud, lazy, and usually ill-informed.
I would suggest that you start preparing for next years science fair now. Perhaps you could do a review of battery technology. A good place to start might be finding out where the US gov and some evil corperations are putting battery development money:
Then you could look into what the future might hold, start here:
But remember, there are many optimistic claims and few breakthrough products especially with a mature technology like batteries.
I think it is important that when addressing a problem like GW, that we don’t down-play the real difficulty of finding solutions. In this case indentifying the problem is the easy part (as complicated as it is). Finding solutions will be much more difficlt.
But I’m optimistic.
Karen Street says
Lucky, thanks for your links.
I did not see much reference to the environmental cost of batteries, which I heard/thought I heard was the final straw for California Air Resources Board. What do you know about that?
The cost of the electricity has to include the cost of batteries, which unfortunately is enormous. Hopefully both economic and environmental costs can be brought down to make the plug-in hybrid viable. People in policy I respect are optimistic, or at least hopeful.
Hank Roberts says
Tim, you wrote
> it has a much shorter distance to travel to reach the
> surface than it does to reach space.
And more dense gas below than above, so a shorter average path before the next interaction.
I think ‘random walk’ is close and I’ve seen the term show up often; my take is that it would be a slightly biased walk because of the density gradient.
The drunk on the sidewalk staggers around the lamppost til he finally falls off the curb; the sidewalk’s tilted away from the curb. Add more CO2 is like tilting the sidewalk slightly more, so he staggers randomly a bit longer before he finally falls off the curb and leaves the picture.
This is doggerel, looking for words to describe …. you know.
And it’s 3-D, so … a drunken sparrow flying in a downdraft.
Lynn Vincentnathan says
#82, First of all there is good battery tech that gets pretty good daily commute range with shorter charge times, but it’s expensive right now, & lead-acid is much cheaper. If EVs were a bigger thing, I’m sure the price on good battery tech would come down. And now they’re planning plug-in hybrid EVs.
And I’m offended by your insinuation about our Environmental Club ((“Back in the good old days when I was in school (majoring in chem/env. sci.) I noticed that most of the members of the environmental club were loud, lazy, and usually ill-informed.”))
Our problem is this is the poorest county in the US, and I imagine many students (many of whom work full time, some double time, take care of their families, and take college courses) have many other things that occupy their time, that students born with silver spoons in their mouths could never never understand.
There seems to be some interest in environmental issues here, but precious little time for participation, so the club keeps dying out. I’m the only one who’s been around since it’s inception in 2002, trying to get it restarted again and again. It was just reconstituting with its 1st meeting last week, a week before the SciFair, but clubs had to sign up a month in advance to have refreshment booths, etc. And I can’t really say if our club will be around for next year’s SciFair. The environment is a pretty back seat issue here.
These people in Silicon Valley are trying to push for plug-in hybrids by spending their own money.
There are some very big Silicon Valley names on that list.
Re 83 Karen
I don’t know what the “final straw” was, but I do know there are energy costs in the manufacture and recycling of these high tech batteries that most people don’t consider.
I’m sorry you were offended, I should have phrased that with some kindness. But let me tell you what offends me. The state of Calif. demands the impossible. GM responds by building a marvel of automotive engineering. A beautiful vehicle that was extreamly limited by its power supply and ridiculously expensive. In doing so, GM advanced EV technology more than any other auto maker at the time. And when they finally pulled the plug on the project for any number of legitimate reasons, they are labeled as the company that killed the electric car by a bunch people who couldn’t build a pinewood derby car.
They build what amounts to a beautiful toy or showpiece for the likes of Ed Begley Jr. They subsidize his desire to be green by selling it to him well below cost, and what do they get in return? Stabbed in the back by the people who made the unrealistic demand in the first place.
And how does GM respond? They continue to pour money in their fuel cell platform and their PHEV the Volt. I hope the succeed.
Ike Solem says
Thanks, Mike, for the clarification and the paper. As I read it, ENSO + SST + NAO all interact to determine the number of named storms, but there is no reliable method of predicting the future NAO index, so ENSO + SST are used as the basis of the prediction of 15 +/- 4 storms. I wonder if this paper will be a discussion topic at sites like Climate Science , CO2science and Climate Audit?
It looks like Climate Science has shut down for good, as of Sept 1. The others are still at it, however.
NASA Goddard won an NSF/Science award for their video, “Towers in the Tempest”:
http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Towering_Achievement_For_Goddard_Visualization_Studio_999.htmlTowering Achievement For Goddard’s Visualization Studio
The video is available here
By the way, if readers have a moment, consider writing a letter to your elected reps encouraging them to expand funding for the climate-monitoring satellite and ocean sensor programs at NASA and NOAA.
RE the electric car: Tesla motors is building an all-electric modern version, but they’re going slowly to make sure the durability issues don’t end up being a problem. See Tesla delays electric car’s debut. Currently, they are predicting a 200-250 mile range on a fully charged battery.
If electric cars take off, however, it’s likely they’ll eventually depend on battery-swapping stations – instead of a gas station, one will pull into a battery station, with some system that lifts the depleted battery out and installs a fully charged one. The economics of that will have to be worked out – eventually batteries will wear out, but that can be included in the price/contract.
Then the question will be, how much does the electricity cost, and how will the electricity be sourced?
Lynn Vincentnathan says
#87, Lucky, I’m sorry but that just doesn’t compute that EVs are more expensive to build than ICE cars, unless we’re speaking prototypes or low production volumes (as in specialty item).
I know EV conversion guys & what they tell — these are much more simple cars than ICEs, even with the regenerative breaking, etc (which is not required, but a good idea to recapture that energy).
When they crushed those EVs it really crushed my heart. I was hoping to buy one (once they became mass produced enough to bring the price closer to ICEs), then plug into my $100 wind generated energy & drive on the wind. I’ll just have to wait, because I don’t really have any time to learn how to do a conversion (which is not all that hard), and make my own.
Well Lynn, you have some choices. You can check out the Tesla Roadster that Ike mentioned in 88. How much does it cost? How much does the battery cost? How long will the battery last? The answer to all three questions is the same, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The car is $100,000 my guess is that close to half of that is in the battery. By the way, the the 200-250 range is for a full charge down to nothing which will shorten the battery life. But still this is a very cool vehicle.
You can buy a Prius and convert it to a Plug-in hybrid, there are kits out there, and as dhogaza linked in #86 a group is trying to get a better system for doing this while getting Toyota to not void the warranty. It may be difficult to get the battery they want for $10,000. This group is working with A123, a company that is also working with GM on the Volt battery. And also was one of the companies getting the DOE grant that I linked in #82.
By the way, the reason Toyota can get 100,000 miles out of their Prius battery is they have a system that very closely controls the level of charge and discharge that their battery goes through. You lose that with a BEV or PHEV because the range of charge and discharge is wider and less consistent. So the batteries for the converted Prius Plug-in will not last 100,000 miles.
You could buy a neighborhood BEV. I would consider them to be a souped up golf cart. Top speed of 25 MPH with a 30 mile range. which means they can’t be driven on highways, but the price is in the $5,000 to $15,000 range new.
Or as you said, there are ICE to BEV converts out there. You could do it yourself (but I beg to differ with your not all that hard statement) But there are certianly companies that will do the conversion for you. Also, check out places like ebay, they are out there for sale. But these are not nearly as sophisticated as the EV 1
I agree with you that BEVs have many many advantages over ICEs, But they have one big downside, the battery. It is a huge challenge. I have co-workers who are working on new battery technology and I have seen the potential, but the progress is slow and will require patience.
On a final optimistic note, if EEStor’s ultracapacitor does what they claim, they will blow every other battery technology away (see the tech review link in #82). I am skeptical, but I wish them the best.
Robert Edele says
“On a final optimistic note, if EEStor’s ultracapacitor does what they claim, they will blow every other battery technology away (see the tech review link in #82). I am skeptical, but I wish them the best.”
It surely is bogus. Replacing car batteries would be one of the last places to put better capacitor technology. You could get much better returns on investment by applying it to rail guns, high-powered lasers, or other places where massive amounts of power must be supplied for a few milliseconds or so. Even after that, laptops and remote control planes are much more lucrative and useful places to put high-performance batteries than in low value/joule applications such as auto batteries.
Even if I did feel it was practical, I hate secrecy and the lies that secrecy breeds and encourages. My attitude is that there is no valid purpose for secrecy in science or engineering. All it does is aid the spread of lies and retard the spread of knowledge. As such, I disdain groups (almost always for-profit corporations or militaries) that use secrecy.
Lynn Vincentnathan says
RE EVs, I drove an EV conversion of a ’72 Toyota Corolla some 15 years ago. It got a top speed of (I think) 40 mph, went 30 miles on a charge (my daily commute is 4 miles), had lead-acid batteries, no regenerative breaking, no AC.
The main conversion cost was the motor, the cost of the used Toyota (less the sale of its ICE engine), and lead acid batteries. It was the time & labor it took to do the conversion, which I just don’t have & there’s no EV club where I live now — but hope springs eternal. When I asked if I could do a conversion, club members told me there was a guy in the club doing conversions, who had never held a screw driver in his life.
They told me EVs are like sewing machines with wheels & batteries. And the Toyota sounded like a quiet sewing machine when I drove it, minus the needle clatter.
And I almost never drive on highways — nearly all I need (shops, doctors) is within a 6 mile radius. We were conscientious in selecting our home location, and make it a point to run multiple errands. The 5 times a year we do go on the highway, we could use our ICE car. So such EVs might be a problem for one-car families. However, the woman that owned the EV I drove was single. She liked the EV not only for its lower environmental impact, but also for its very low maintenance & energy costs.
We need to start THINKING SMALL, smell the flowers along the way, and halt this incipient mega-extinction from global warming before its process becomes unstoppable and its toll vast.
We need to buck ourselves up against this “can’t do” attitude, and become “can do” scouts.
Re #90: [The answer to all three questions is the same, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The car is $100,000…]
How much did the original IBM PC cost? About $5K IIRC. I just bought a new laptop that is, at a rough guess, about 10,000 times more powerful for a quarter of that price. Or if that example’s a little too high-tech, consider how much automobiles cost before Henry Ford came along and started mass producing them?
You have this vicious circle with electric cars, or indeed with any new product. The first ones are pretty much hand made and therefore expensive: you can’t get the costs down until you can get into volume production, but you can’t sell many until you get the cost down. That’s why Tesla’s marketing strategy makes sense. Sell the first to people who can afford them as toys.
[But they have one big downside, the battery.]
Batteries aren’t the only option. Consider what’s being done with high-speed flywheels…
“It surely is bogus. Replacing car batteries would be one of the last places to put better capacitor technology.”
Zenn motor company has a deal with EEStor. I don’t know if it will result in product or not. Maybe they are planning to mount a rail gun on top of their electric vehicle. That way eco-warriors can shoot people who don’t recycle.
“My attitude is that there is no valid purpose for secrecy in science or engineering. All it does is aid the spread of lies and retard the spread of knowledge. As such, I disdain groups (almost always for-profit corporations or militaries) that use secrecy.”
I (and my large multi-national corperation) use secrecy every day. It protects our intellectual property, allows us to make money, and fund our future R&D. We have our hands in many aspects of new energy technology. I have seen the future and I am very hopefull. But you’ll have to wait, because I’m not telling…
That’s it Lynn, you are without a doubt the absolute perfect candidate for a neighborhood (or low speed) electric vehicle. Small, lightweight, top speed of 25-40 MPH (depending on local regulations) with a 40+ mile range. Check out companies like Zenn, Gem, Spark-EV or Kurrent. I’m sure there are others. Most are under $10,000 new. Used ones are cheaper, but check the age of the battery.
Converting an old ICE wouldn’t make much sense. You would waste a lot of energy carrying all that extra weight and turning those big fat tires.
You would continue to lead by example. Asking Who killed the electric car is counter productive cynicism. Driving an electric car is promoting a better greener life style. And think of the positve conversations that this type of car would stimulate.
They are out there Lynn, Good Luck
Lynn Vincentnathan says
#94, The statement “That way eco-warriors can shoot people who don’t recycle” is appalling. I know plenty of environmentalists, and they are all very concerned about saving human lives, and doing so in ways that are least harmful, even helpful to people’s financial situation and the economy. Sure, we are frustrated that people don’t at least do those environmental things that make economic sense (which could, as I’ve pointed out many times on this blog, cut our GHG emissions by 1/3, maybe 1/2 or more).
It seems to me that it’s the anti-environmentalists that wish others dead, or just don’t care if they die from environmental harms, as long as they themselves can go on living their profligate, wasteful lives.
ray ladbury says
Lynn, I think Lucky was being flippant. I don’t think it was his intent to disparage environmentalists.
Mike Donald says
Congrats to Al on his Nobel peace prize. An English judge – Burton – has just pronounced his verdict on An Inconvenient Truth. A court case brought by a chap called Dimmock with a bottomless expense account presumably.
Any thoughts on it?
Hank Roberts says
Try scienceblogs.com, they’re all over that story.
Note the judge approves using the movie; he said it has to be discussed, not taken without discussion — that’s good.
His specific questions are, well, arguable, but the movie’s a snapshot of what was known several years ago, everything in it needs to be checked for new info and that’s a habit kids are supposed to learn in science classes, eh?