“I’m Not a Scientist” Is a Dangerous Cop-Out

Nov 11, 2014

Photo illustration by Ellie Skrzat. Photos by Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, and Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock.

By David Shiffman

The evidence for global climate change is overwhelming. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists, along with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and more than 30 professional scientific research societies, agree that climate change is happening because of human actions and that it will be an increasingly serious problem if we don’t stop it. It is reasonable for politicians to debate the best way to solve this problem, but whether it is a problem should not be up for discussion anymore. However, in response to questions about climate change, political candidates, including high-profile politicians such as Senate Minority (for now) Leader Mitch McConnell, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are frequently saying: “I’m not a scientist.”

When politicians say “I’m not a scientist,” it is an exasperating evasion. It’s a cowardly way to avoid answering basic and important policy questions. This response raises lots of other important questions about their decision-making processes. Do they have opinions on how to best maintain our nation’s highways, bridges, and tunnels—or do they not because they’re not civil engineers? Do they refuse to talk about agriculture policy on the grounds that they’re not farmers? How do they think we should be addressing the threat of ISIS? They wouldn’t know, of course; they’re not military generals.

No one would ever say these things, because they’re ridiculous. Being a policymaker in a country as large and complex as the United States requires making decisions on a variety of important subjects outside of your primary area of expertise. Voters wouldn’t tolerate this “I’m not a scientist” excuse if applied to any other discipline, yet politicians appear to be using this line successfully to distance themselves from experts crucial for solving many of our country’s most important problems.

American populist rhetoric has always had a dark side of anti-intellectualism, the belief that the common sense of the average man on the street is equal to or greater than the expert knowledge of people who spend years studying a particular question, and that has been on full display in recent years. Who can understand what those weird, other-worldly scientists are talking about, anyway? Somebody needs to “stand up to the experts.” Despite what any politician says, the overwhelming evidence supports the scientific consensus that climate change is happening because of human activity and that we should take action to stop it because it will be a significant threat—a position the U.S. military agrees with.


 

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121 comments on ““I’m Not a Scientist” Is a Dangerous Cop-Out

  • @OP – the scientific consensus that climate change is happening because of human activity and that we should take action to stop it because it will be a significant threat—a position the U.S. military agrees with.

    But apparently, the political thickies still don’t get it!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29985382
    World governments have been breaking promises to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, a report says.

    The Overseas Development Institute says G20 nations spent almost £56bn ($90bn) a year finding oil, gas and coal.

    It comes despite evidence that two thirds of existing reserves must be left in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change.

    A government spokesman said the North Sea oil and gas industry “creates jobs and generates investment” in the UK.

    The spokesman said the tax regime for oil and gas includes a number of allowances which reduce the tax burden on specific, challenging gas or oil fields.

    Allowances did not constitute a subsidy, he added.

    The UK government has previously said it was helping firms find fossil fuels within the UK to increase energy security, attract royalties and help with the balance of payments.

    Fuel exploration

    However, the report said subsidies were irrational, a waste of public money and harmful to the environment.

    With rising costs for hard-to-reach fossil fuel reserves – together with falling coal and oil prices – renewable energy was a better way to invest taxpayers’ funds, it added.

    The report’s authors said the UK had introduced national subsidies for exploration valued at up to £757 million a year.

    Those included tax breaks for North Sea exploration worth £528 million to Total (HQ France), £256 million to Statoil (Norway), £144 million to Centrica (UK) and £45 million to Chevron (USA) between 2009 and 2014.

    The report also traced G20 governments’ funding of fossil fuel exploration overseas.

    The UK has been spending £418 million annually in public finance for exploration in Siberia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Guinea and Ghana, it said. The funding was through export finance guarantees.

    The USA has been spending £883 million annually in public finance for overseas exploration in Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria and Russia, the report added.



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  • Productive discussions about how to address the problems of global warming have been replaced by the generic tantrums of articles like this. The trajectory has moved away from developing carbon neutral fuels which are effective, efficient, affordable and universally available to every person on the planet to blaming this or that politician or “climate science deniers” in general.

    The failure of wind and solar power and other hobbyhorse schemes to provide more than a tiny percentage of world demand for energy has turned environmentalists and partisans into a lynch mob looking for scapegoats to blame for increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. We cannot reduce carbon dioxide emissions when world populations and economies are growing by leaps and bounds along with exponentially increasing demand for fossil fuels by voting a few politicians out of office or taking the garden variety “denier” to the woodshed for a good whuppin’.

    ***The evidence for global climate change is overwhelming. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists, along with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and more than 30 professional scientific research societies, agree that climate change is happening because of human actions and that it will be an increasingly serious problem if we don’t stop it. It is reasonable for politicians to debate the best way to solve this problem, but whether it is a problem should not be up for discussion anymore. ***

    I do not “blame” science and technology for failing to come up with carbon-neutral fuels on a global economy of scale. It would appear the problem is more intractable than we would like to admit. Nonetheless we must rely on experts in pertinent fields working tirelessly to demonstrate credible solutions. Blaming Mitch McConnell and voting him and his allies out of office will accomplish next to nothing. It is time to stop throwing tantrums and get science and technology back to the drawing board.



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  • 4
    aroundtown says:

    It’s never been about science for Republicans, it’s about profits. If they do embrace science it’s usually in the form of geologist’s who can find more oil, coal, gas, or any other valuables the third rock can cough up for profit. It has generally been an unfortunate truth that economic prosperity has always trumped environmental concerns and we are always left with the vestiges of these endeavors. When is the last time you’ve heard of a superfund site being completely cleaned up and the accolades of a job well done? The answer is fairly easy to come by, it’s zero. We are now facing the ultimate environmental disaster, the health of the planetary environment itself, and as usual many are trying to ignore the situation.

    There is one thing you will never see from Republicans, an adamant proclamation at the microphone, or signature on the dotted line, to refuse federal dollars for climate fueled disasters that occur in their States. Republican’s profess States rights and self determination but comes a disaster they run to the federal cash register pretty quick, Kentucky and New Jersey come to mind and there will be more. I think there’s also a good chance we’ll see Florida clamoring for federal money in the near future for a sea-wall to offset damage from sea level rise that threatens their fun in the sun and potential loss a tourist dollar. For me it will come as no surprise when Florida offers the proposition that the impending SLR calamity is the result of a climate that has always changed in the past so please continue to overlook any correlation to a fossil fuel cause, that one is inevitable in my opinion.



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  • 5
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    I think Voldemort is working part time as a vampire to put blood on the table… Oh look, I think he’s just about to bite McConnell’s necks (all three of them). Poor guy…

    Voldemort I mean. He’s going back home on an empty stomach.



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  • The failure of wind and solar power and other hobbyhorse schemes to provide more than a tiny percentage of world demand …

    Our state, 1.4million people, is starting to have days where not only do we generate the total power required to run the state, we are exceeding it and selling it on the open market at a huge premium. And we are about to increase our wind power capacity by another 25% over the next two years. We are replacing our aging coal fired power station with a solar salt thermal system in the near future. Solar PV is rapidly being installed on private dwellings all over Australia. There are now suburbs in Australia cities that are power exporters. Entire suburbs. They are starting to talk about turning down the wick on the gas fired power station, and having it run on idle, just fill in the gaps. My own solar PV overproduces for my needs, covers my vehicle and I earn a modest $1000 per year selling green energy back into the grid.

    They’re not hobby horse schemes. They do work.

    I think we just have to bypass the politicians. We the people, just need to get on with it. I have. We have in our state.

    In North America, it is the politics in politics that has ruined politics. America is now frozen. Nearly ungovernable. I would ban political parties and introduce secret ballots in parliament so that each issue is dealt with on the evidentiary merits, not unyielding 20th century ideology. Our elected representatives should not be ruled by what the leader of the house of the chief whip decides. “You will all vote this way or else your career is finished.: That’s not democracy. That’s one party state. Same as
    China.

    I do not “blame” science and technology for failing to come up with carbon-neutral fuels…

    They haven’t failed. The technology is on the shelf right now. Evidence my state. It is the politics that is preventing the solution. The brutal power of money and capitalism to stop anything that might cost them a cent is the problem.

    Sorry guys. We’ve got some work to do to fix the planet. You can resume capitalism once we’re sustainable for the next 1000 years.



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  • “The failure of wind and solar power…” – Who says ? I do not know where You have heard that but it is a lie. Consider Germany and Austria.

    Anyway, could people bypass politicians? Could they make a referendum and state their wishes?



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  • I hope these birds are confronted. When they say “I am not a scientist” we should say back
    “Then your opinion is worth zip.”
    “Then you admit you don’t know what you are talking about?”
    “Why should be listen to you where there are people who DO know what they are talking about?”

    You would likely be quite happy to correct Oprah if she told you the angels guide the planets. Rich people can be wrong too.



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  • I actually am a scientist (a marine biologist), but you don’t need to be an expert on anything to pay attention when 97 percent of people who are experts in that subject agree that something is a problem and that we should do something about it.

    Actually, Paul Wills (and ABC science presenter – the Australian one) made the point and I have to agree that it is not the amount of scientists that agree or consensus of scientists that matters as this would rightly be considered an argument from authority. It is the confluence of data that matters. All the data from all of the science that these scientists have done all and survived through the process of review all points to one conclusion and in one direction. So it matters not a jot that 10 000 climate scientists agree it is happening but that the evidence they have gathered suggests this. And that the very few papers published that contradict this have been full of errors and have been toughly discredited or have failed to show what they suggest. This why we should except is a most likely fact and get on with arguing about what and how to fix it!



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  • The trajectory has moved away from developing carbon neutral fuels
    which are effective, efficient, affordable and universally available
    to every person on the planet to blaming this or that politician or
    “climate science deniers” in general.

    The trajectory has in my country very much been in favour of supporting unsustainable carbon emitting industries to the sum of some 4 billion in fossil fuel exploration every year! And this hit to my pocket is going to be at the expense of my son in his lifetime! And when our farmland is destroyed and our precious water table put at risk in rural areas in the driest continent on the planet so we can hitch our wagon to China (while it wants our gas and coal) at the same time more than doubling the price of domestic gas (by linking it world prices) to make multinationals rich at the expense of Australians, I am even more pissed off. Am I having a tantrum you bloody bet I am! And a justified one at that.

    The fraction given to funding the alternatives on the other hand has been minuscule. In-spite of this wind and PV they are kicking the hell out of coal right and this is even with a government in my country that denies the reality of AGW! Consider the cost of building a coal or gas fired power plant now. PV panels now have a pay back time between 3 to 5 years and improving all the time. As battery technologies improve more and more house will simply drop off the grid. Combine this with increasing efficiencies in many electrical appliances and it really will not be much longer before coal is dead, period. These systems are hardly hobby horse, there is more than a million Australian homes have solar PV now! That is with a population of 23 million. Wind is also kicking coals backside particularly at night. Canberra is putting in a massive PV farm which should cover a significant amount of the cities needs and be cheaper for the consumer and using solar thermal capture and storage will provide base load power combined with their other sources to reach their target of 90% renewable in 6 years. Why? because it makes economic sense now, and will make much more in the future. Everyone of those Australians who put them on their homes thought so, still thinks so and the savings prove it so. That our politicians cannot see it, and keep getting in the way of the natural transition is reason to vote them out and the sooner the better.



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  • Melvin Nov 11, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Productive discussions about how to address the problems of global warming have been replaced by the generic tantrums of articles like this.

    Dealing with a well funded political denial and doub-mongering campaign is a serious issues and pretending it is “tantrums”, is just helping the carbon-Luddite denial cause.

    The trajectory has moved away from developing carbon neutral fuels which are effective, efficient, affordable and universally available to every person on the planet to blaming this or that politician or “climate science deniers” in general.

    Climate deniaers are still conning sufficient % of the public and politicians to obstruct the essential work, and are even getting public funding for seeking new sources of carbon pollution!

    While the number of Americans aware of the scientific consensus grew in the latest Yale/George Mason survey, only 44% of Americans are aware that most scientists agree that global warming is happening. The number was as low as 34%, in 2010. http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-of-doubt-strategy-1-deny-consensus.html

    The failure of wind and solar power and other hobbyhorse schemes to provide more than a tiny percentage of world demand for energy has turned environmentalists and partisans into a lynch mob looking for scapegoats to blame for increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

    This is comical nonsense! Where governments have supported sustainable energy projects they have been a great success.

    The deniers are NOT “scapegoats”! Their leaders are dishonest, dangerous and reckless, disreputable con-men, in the pay of carbon industries. Some are the same con-men who rubbished cancer research on behalf of the tobacco companies!

    Climate change denial has been associated with the fossil fuels lobby, the Koch brothers, industry advocates and free market think tanks, often in the United States.[5][6][7][8][9] Some commentators describe climate change denial as a particular form of denialism.

    Although there is a scientific consensus that humans are warming the climate system,[17] the politics of global warming combined with some of the debate in popular media has slowed global efforts at preventing future global warming as well as preparing for warming “in the pipeline” due to past emissions. Much of this debate focuses on the economics of global warming.

    Between 2002 and 2010, conservative billionaires secretly donated nearly $120 million (£77 million) via two trusts (Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund) to more than 100 organizations seeking to cast doubt on the science behind climate change. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial



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  • Melvin Nov 11, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Productive discussions about how to address the problems of global warming have been replaced by the generic tantrums of articles like this.

    Actually no!

    In response to a survey showing 97% support the scientific consensus from a sample over 13,000 peer-reviewed climate scientists and a string of world leading scientific bodies, we get the public fed deceptive doubmongering articles LIKE THIS: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/02/13/peer-reviewed-survey-finds-majority-of-scientists-skeptical-of-global-warming-crisis/


    Generating a pseudo-controversy debate replacing the constructive debate on establishing the new technologies!



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  • “I’m not a scientist” is the only honest thing you’ll hear from a republican.

    The article forgot to mention you never hear a republican refusing to give an opinion on what jesus is thinking right now on the grounds they’re not the chosen one

    of course it is purely about money, there’s no point being truthful when your political system runs on who can raise the most campaign money. no one got rich telling the truth



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  • “I’m not a scientist” is the only honest thing you’ll hear from a
    republican.

    And even that bit of honesty is likely accidental.

    Think about it: When it comes to things the party is against but doesn’t want to speak about (climate change primarily, but it is usually a catch all to cover their bases when they’re flustered, which is often) they trot out this sad excuse for an excuse, but when they really need to be humble and admit they don’t know something important (evolution, abortion, etc) they spend a great deal of time spreading misinformation and outright lies on the subject when neither they nor their sources know anything. It’s all about misleading the public to get their way. Hell, they outright refuse to admit that the laws concerning creationism are utter crap, and any scientist could tell them so.

    This is not a truth of honesty ironically, it is a truth of convenience. Count on a politician to pull that off.



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  • Reckless Monkey Nov 12, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Just to add to some points:-

    I have to agree that it is not the amount of scientists that agree or consensus of scientists that matters as this would rightly be considered an argument from authority.

    That is the case of on-line denial petitions from anyone who wants to venture an opinion, but not where evidence-based expert opinions are being quoted.

    It is the confluence of data that matters.

    Plus the expert interpretation of the data by peer-review specialists.

    Reckless Monkey – All the data from all of the science that these scientists have done all and survived through the process of review all points to one conclusion and in one direction. So it matters not a jot that 10 000 climate scientists agree it is happening but that the evidence they have gathered suggests this.

    Actually it is stronger than that! The 12,000+ peer-reviewed studies was merely the size of the sample used in the survey!

    Oreskes 2004 and Peiserhttp://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm
    A survey of all peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change’ published between 1993 and 2003 shows that not a single paper rejected the consensus position that global warming is man caused (Oreskes 2004). 75% of the papers agreed with the consensus position while 25% made no comment either way (focused on methods or paleoclimate analysis).

    Benny Peiser, a climate contrarian, repeated Oreskes’ survey and claimed to have found 34 peer reviewed studies rejecting the consensus. However, an inspection of each of the 34 studies reveals most of them don’t reject the consensus at all. The remaining articles in Peiser’s list are editorials or letters, not peer-reviewed studies. Peiser has since retracted his criticism of Oreskes survey:

    Media exposure http://www.skepticalscience.com/Survey-confirms-scientific-consensus-human-caused-global-warming.html

    Respondents were also asked about the frequency of being featured in the media regarding their views on climate change. Respondents who thought climate sensitivity was low (less than 1.75 degrees C per doubling of CO2) reported the most frequent media coverage. Likewise, those who thought greenhouse gases had only made an insignificant contribution to observed warming reported the most frequent media coverage. This shows that contrarian opinions are amplified in the media in relation to their prevalence in the scientific community. This is related to what is sometime referred to as “false balance” in media reporting and may partly explain the divergence between public and scientific opinion regarding climate change (the so-called “consensus gap”)



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  • Melvin Nov 11, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I do not “blame” science and technology for failing to come up with carbon-neutral fuels on a global economy of scale.

    Of course science and technology are not to blame! It is the underfunding of research and development budgets and the diverting of funds to carbon industries which is the problem.

    It would appear the problem is more intractable than we would like to admit.

    The engineering is not at all intractable! The starting of work on it is belated due rogues and charlatans obstructing it, but the proven technology is there to be put in place.

    Nonetheless we must rely on experts in pertinent fields working tirelessly to demonstrate credible solutions.

    This is history, not news!

    Blaming Mitch McConnell and voting him and his allies out of office will accomplish next to nothing.

    Really?? Replacing political obstruction with positive promotion of new technological developments will achieve nothing???? – when it is the politics, and not the engineering which is the problem! – Laughable denial of reality!
    We need to get rid of the corrupt political and media Luddite stooges, and the scientifically illiterate dead-heads!

    It is time to stop throwing tantrums and get science and technology back to the drawing board.

    Nope! The new technologies left the drawing board long ago! The demonstration prototypes, and first generation production systems, are already running while deniers and their media stooges, are still throwing tantrums!

    Solar thermal, photovoltaic, Tidal turbines, tidal barrages, hydroelectric generation, wave power, wind turbines, geothermal power, ground heat storage, heat recovery from buildings, better ventilation and insulation of buildings, more energy efficient lighting and other electrical devices, bioethanol and biodiesel, are all proven technologies. Thorium nuclear and solar-gas need further development.

    Hybrid and electric vehicles are already available with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles approaching production.

    We may also need to use uranium nuclear electrical generation as a stop-gap, because of reckless obstruction and prevarication by denialists.



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  • In case anyone’s curious, wind and solar power currently supply approximately 4 % and 0.5 % of world electrical energy consumption, not because their doing much more is unfeasible but because we’ve only just starting building the machinery they need. They’re projected to expand enormously in the next few decades, in part because, depending on where you live (and whether your definitions of “costs” include true economic costs and government subsidies), they’re already cheaper than fossil fuels. Needless to say, “new” technologies have far more scope to become cheaper than old ones do. Indeed, as cheap oil becomes harder to extract, if anything fossil fuels will become more expensive. And remember that wind and solar power are derived from sunlight incident on Earth, which supplies 10,000 times the power we currently need; we just haven’t put up many solar panels yet.



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  • Meanwhile, the carbon Luddite fracking UK government stooge ministers, are still making up hyped nonsense!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30013668

    Ministers’ shale gas ‘hype’ attacked

    Ministers have “completely oversold” the potential of shale gas, energy experts say.

    Researchers from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) told the BBC promises of lower prices and greater energy security from UK shale gas were “hype” and “lacking in evidence”.

    UKERC, an academic consortium covering 30 institutions, has produced a report on the future of gas in the UK.

    The Treasury said the potential of shale gas was “too big to ignore”.

    The report authors said shale gas – a natural gas that can be drawn from rock through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – was so early in its infancy it was impossible to know how much could be extracted and at what cost.
    ‘Extraordinary’

    But they said it was most unlikely to make a substantial difference to prices or to the security of energy supplies in the UK.

    Supporters say the fracking of shale gas could significantly contribute to the UK’s future energy needs, but critics say the process could lead to environmental problems.

    “It is very frustrating to keep hearing that shale gas is going to solve our energy problems – there’s no evidence for that whatsoever… it’s hype”, Prof Jim Watson, UKERC research director, told BBC News.

    “It’s extraordinary that ministers keep making these statements. They clearly want to create a narrative. But we are researchers – we deal in facts, not narratives. And at the moment there is no evidence on how shale gas will develop in the UK.

    “Shale gas has been completely oversold. Where ministers got this rhetoric from I have absolutely no idea. It’s very misleading for the public.”

    With the climate-change deniers in the Tory Party, and scientifically illiterate ministers, it is not very hard to guess where they got the unevidenced hype!

    His UKERC colleague Prof Mike Bradshaw cast doubt on plans for a “sovereign wealth fund” from shale gas for the north of England.

    “Talk about a bonanza is incredible,” he said.
    “It hasn’t happened and it might never happen. Even if shale gas does get developed in the north of England, the extra amount of money generated will probably be relatively small – so the fund will be even smaller.”

    The researchers said they were not against searching for shale gas, but objected to the rhetoric used by its supporters.

    The United States has enjoyed a shale gas boom. But Prof Bradshaw said the future of the UK industry was uncertain because the geology is different; environmental safeguards are stronger, and the industry had not yet persuaded people to host drilling pads in the neighbourhoods.

    “There is huge uncertainty about all these things,” he said.

    ‘Bridging fuel’

    “Only one thing is virtually certain – in Europe shale gas is not going to be a game-changer.”

    The group’s report charts a limited future for gas as part of the UK’s electricity system. It says in order to meet Climate Change Act targets, gas-fired power generation will need to have almost completely stopped by 2030.

    As UK shale gas is not expected to be produced in substantial quantities until the 2020s, that leaves a small window of opportunity for investors in the industry.

    Globally, it says, gas must not be burned for electricity after 2035 if the world is to get on track to avoid dangerous climate change – that is unless new technology is used to capture the CO2 emissions.

    It looks like yet another diversion by Carbonaceous Cameron, to divert investment, and distract activity away from the necessary renewable technologies which are needed.



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  • How is solar and wind power successful in germany? hydro and wind power only produced 1.5% of the energy Germany comsumed in 2009 and germany has one of the most expensive energy in the world, all because of the greens who sees nuclear energy as satan work.



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  • Crazy Nov 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    All renewables have to be in tune with their local environmental conditions, to make use of the locally available resources.

    How is solar and wind power successful in germany?

    Germany is not one of the best locations for photovoltaic systems although they help reduce demand, particularly in summer.

    Solar thermal systems in places like Spain and California, are much more effective.

    hydro and wind power only produced 1.5% of the energy Germany comsumed in 2009 and germany has one of the most expensive energy in the world,

    On the other hand nearly all of Norway’s electricity is hydroelectric and is one of the cheapest!

    all because of the greens who sees nuclear energy as satan work.

    It is true that there has been a reaction against nuclear power, but that is primarily because uranium systems have been promoted specifically for war mongering by macho bomb lovers, with safer and less polluting thorium nuclear, (http://www.itheo.org/thorium-energy-conference-2012) neglected since 1947, specifically because it cannot be used for miilitary or terrorist purposes.



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  • 22
    Light Wave says:

    If Politicians insist on skirting responsibility for dealing with the effects of man made Global warming that scientists and un sceptical people have known about for 20 years, Its because they are millionaire sons of millionaire oil tycoons and gas barons…or of a similar ilk….they have a vested interest in continuing just the way they have been and only they – the 1% are making profit from a warming planet and poverty for billions…The 1% are the only group served by the current political system….The same system that is not working for the 99% or for the Planet or its Warming climate…..Change the political system and ban the 1% from politics or political influence….



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  • Light Wave Nov 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    If Politicians insist on skirting responsibility for dealing with the effects of man made Global warming that scientists and un sceptical people have known about for 20 years, Its because they are millionaire sons of millionaire oil tycoons and gas barons…or of a similar ilk….they have a vested interest in continuing just the way they have been

    The tobacco companies are belatedly facing law suits for compensation from the cancer victims they lied to!

    A similar compensation scheme for victims of climate damage, paid for by oil, gas, and coal companies, is long over-due!



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  • Voting mcconnell out may accomplish next to nothing which would still be preferable to the less than nothing that is happening now…… Further, I’ve not heard of any “carbon neutral” fuels that are set to come online in any reasonable time frame to alleviate the crash that is likely to come with a runaway green house atmosphere. Nice thought but more out of reach than a wind and solar alternative.

    And might I say, no one that I know amongst my environmentally aware friends is looking for a “scapegoat” for global warming. The culprits are all too obvious and the solutions are more than just apparent. It will take a government, the only social agency with sufficient authority, and a mandate, to act as a counterweight to the inherent excesses that come with capitalist exigencies. (One fundamental aspect of capitalism is it’s need to grow. “Grow or die” is the way one unrepentant business person once “explained” to me. To which I would reply; Growth, growth, growth is the philosophy of cancer). The most basic aspect of instituting a government that can and WILL act in the best interests of the PEOPLE is getting rid of those who willfully block the progress that is demanded by circumstance, roadblocks like mitch mcconnell.



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  • That is the case of on-line denial petitions from anyone who wants to venture an opinion, but not where evidence-based expert opinions are being quoted.

    It is the confluence of data that matters.

    Plus the expert interpretation of the data by peer-review specialists.

    Hi Alan,

    I agree that experts in their field are worth listening to because their experts, my flight instructor basically had a line that as far as this is concerned I am god and if you don’t like what I have to say go find another religion. While that could come across as arrogant, it was not. He was taking a very real responsibility for his students life and needed to make it clear that if you are not prepared to do what I say I cannot protect you. He was doing this at risk to his home, ability to look after his family etc. as he could be sued if he failed. So I listened and did everything he said which results in me being alive today.

    So when climate scientists who are engaging in analysis of data come to a conclusion after going through the extensive peer preview over decades I agree you can provisionally take them at their word. However I’d argue that the only reason their word carries any weight is because all the evidence points in one direction. If you look at some of the disputes in physics about the nature of things yet to be confirmed by observation or experiment it is quite right to say (I think) that no matter how many physicists believe it is most likely to be X, it carries little weight, interesting, you might be inclined to agree but it is at that point speculation, and in this case the kind of arguments we get from AGW deniers that points to scientific mavericks de-bunking the status quo is much more likely and reasonable, until some data comes in.

    At this point climate science is well established with tonnes of data pointing to the conclusion that they agree on (more correctly and to your point I think – that they have come to based on the data and the testing of ideas through the process of science). The difference with AGW deniers is they tend not to engage with the data, they support fringe papers before they have been backed up by actual data and ignore criticism. Ian Plimer for example found the time to write a book and tour the world sprouting his nonsense but doesn’t have the time to write a paper for a peer-reviewed journal? Why? IMO because the data won’t back him and he knows it.

    My argument is these guys simply won’t engage the data and are using the argument from authority to baffle the less scientifically informed. So I have now taken the tactical approach of never mentioning the consensus of climate scientists, instead pointing out that all the data points in one way and the deniers have failed to find any to support to their conclusions. Anyway got to go late for work.

    Cheers



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  • When we frame the complex realities and diverse causes of global warming in the language of blame, we adopt a siege mentality more conducive to paranoia than to empirical research. The psychological utility is obvious. We affirm our own innocence while transferring our collective guilt to assorted scapegoats -Republicans, greedy oil companies, corrupt special interests and lobbyists. Conversely we attribute improbable virtues to ourselves that distinguish us from the evil “others.” We are concerned, involved, environmentally responsible, etc.

    Meanwhile the rest of the world outside our bunker, keeps a nose to the grindstone burning more and more coal, oil and natural gas to earn a living, to produce goods and services in order to grow economies and raise standards of living. From this perspective, we in developed countries are no different from those in developing countries. Everyone alike wants to live better.

    In recent decades [“SCIENCE”] has described how the temperature of earth’s atmosphere has risen over the industrial age because of increasing concentrations of CO2 released by the exponential growth in the burning of fossil fuels. [“SCIENCE”], however, has not yet developed carbon-neutral fuels or power sources capable of putting a dent in global demand for energy. Nailing solar panels on roofs or erecting windmills on front lawns are prohibitively expensive and barely scratch the surface in any case.

    We should recognize that the world’s people, sinner and saint alike, use fossil fuels because they give us almost everything we need to live above subsistence; to live a decent life; indeed to live the good life. WE ARE CONSUMERS. Trying to locate the range of consumption that constitutes “over-consumption” is helpful in reducing wasteful, harmful or gratuitous use of resources but cannot obviate the fact that we remain consumers aspiring to prosperity.

    On this premise, our time is better spent funding public-private partnerships, employing teams of scientists and engineers working in cooperation on developing alternative low-carbon or carbon-neutral fuels, engines and materials.

    Ranting against political, economic and social “enemies” obsessed by ideological grievances within us, has little to do with meeting the daunting technical challenges facing humankind.



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  • 30
    Light Wave says:

    Sounds like you’ve got all the answers…Poorest Africans, Aboriginal Australians or tribal Amazonians are not the energy consumers that average to rich Americans are….solar panels and wind turbines are enough for the average family …..but its not enough for profit making industry…..your rant represents the 1%…. If politicians cant do what needs to be done they need to resign or be sacked….otherwise why are they claiming to represent us….I’ll leave the technical reply to Alan….10.35 pm GMT



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  • We affirm our own innocence while transferring our collective guilt to assorted scapegoats -Republicans, greedy oil companies, corrupt special interests and lobbyists.

    We, the ones that want to change, but can’t because of the Republicans, greedy oil companies, corrupt special interests and lobbyists.. And we can feel justifiably angry that we are being prevented by the self interested and corrupt above, from securing a future for our, and the worlds grandchildren. Ranting against political, economic and social “enemies” is an absolute requirement to dilute the influence of the ideologically motivated free enterprise can solve everything capitalists that are a threat to humanity. If these Republicans, greedy oil companies, corrupt special interests and lobbyists. didn’t exist, we would have begun the road to replacing fossil fuels in the 1990’s when even George Bush was prepared to act on the problem. We’ve wasted 20 years as a result of the funding supplied, supported and endorsed by Republicans, greedy oil companies, corrupt special interests and lobbyists.

    We may have developed carbon neutral fuels by now if these self interested black hats had stayed in their mansions and counted their money.

    There are black hats and white hats.

    Nailing solar panels on roofs or erecting windmills on front lawns are prohibitively expensive and barely scratch the surface in any case.

    My solar panels have paid for themselves in 3.5 years. Moore’s law is in action. My son has installed a bigger array (33%) than mine that cost him half the price. Imagine the city where you live, with every roof surface covered in PV. Beijing. Sydney. London. Paris. You would only need your fossil fuels over night. And if you installed non back yard serious wind farms like my state has done, you can switch the fossil fuel power stations to standby to fill in the gaps. Problem solvered. Carbon fuels reduced to miniscule amounts.



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  • Melvin Nov 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    When we frame the complex realities and diverse causes of global warming in the language of blame, we adopt a siege mentality more conducive to paranoia than to empirical research.

    This is your assertion, but the reality is, that there are industries and processes which ARE responsible for the CO2, and the increased global heat input. Implying emotional inputs into the science and alleging vague paranoia, does nothing to deal with these real issues.
    The research on the origins of the CO2, causes, and effects, is settled. Only the crooked disinformation campaigns say otherwise!

    The psychological utility is obvious. We affirm our own innocence while transferring our collective guilt to assorted scapegoats -Republicans, greedy oil companies, corrupt special interests and lobbyists. Conversely we attribute improbable virtues to ourselves that distinguish us from the evil “others.” We are concerned, involved, environmentally responsible, etc.

    This sort of false dichotomy of psycho-babble, really does nothing to clarify the science or engineering issues, or to hold those responsible for on-going damage accountable.

    Meanwhile the rest of the world outside our bunker, keeps a nose to the grindstone burning more and more coal, oil and natural gas to earn a living,

    I’m not sure which bunker you are living in?
    There are new clean technologies being established all over the world.
    The carbonaceous Luddites in denial, are a bit like the 1800s North Atlantic whaling industry, before it went bust, or moved south to repeat its errors!

    to produce goods and services in order to grow economies and raise standards of living.

    As the Chinese and Indians are discovering, wallowing in pollution is NOT an “improved” standard of “living”, for those are actually working on the production!

    From this perspective, we in developed countries are no different from those in developing countries. Everyone alike wants to live better.

    There is a high contrast in the carbon-footprint of developing and developed countries, and absolutely no reason why carbon neutral energy systems cannot give both a better standard of living, and a higher standard of healthy working conditions than carbon burning – especially in the third world. Profligate and reckless waste of resources, should not be confused with “a higher standard of living”!

    [“SCIENCE”], however, has not yet developed carbon-neutral fuels or power sources capable of putting a dent in global demand for energy.

    Fuel sources alone are not going deal with a lack of energy management or wilful waste. A co-ordinated approach, of restricted use, efficient use, pricing, and low carbon systems is required.

    Nailing solar panels on roofs or erecting windmills on front lawns are prohibitively expensive and barely scratch the surface in any case.

    Neither will peddling an exercise bike with a dynamo, – or any other strawman system.
    However the list of low-carbon technologies I gave you in this comment will provide our future systems:- https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/11/im-not-a-scientist-is-a-dangerous-cop-out/#li-comment-160241
    Once the cost of environmental damage is included in the price of carbon burning and its subsidies removed, the alternative costs are similar, or less than polluting systems, and will be more so, after their initial start-up costs are depreciated.



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  • “I’m Not a Scientist” Is a Dangerous Cop-Out

    All to often it means, “I’m a know-it-all scientific illiterate”, who chooses to ignore scientific evidence, or is simply too pig-ignorant or dishonest to acknowledge or recognise pseudo-science for what it is.

    That’s even before we look at “campaign sponsorship”, and “consultancy fees”, from vested interests!



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  • The jury accepts your exhibit Ryan. Guilty as charged.

    The rest of the world isn’t like this. I cannot figure America out. Yeah we have a Prime Minister that says that global warming is “Crap” but they’re still doing something about it. Even with the repeal of the carbon tax and the lowering of the targets, they still have targets. And in 2.2 years, if the polls stay as they are, he will be a one term Prime Minister and we will get back in step with the rest of the world on global warming.

    Most of the rest of the world are rolling up their sleeves and going for it. But on this subject, and lots of subjects like sidelining religion and evolution in schools, America seems to be from another planet. What has happened in the past that has brought America to a position where it is the laughing stock of the western world. How can anyone vote for the Tea Party, or these scientific illiterate Republicans. I’ve said it before. What has happened to American society when it exhibits this behaviour.

    Civilization has moved on and for some reason, America is still stuck in the 1950’s.



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  • Further to my rant, I realize that for these politicians to get elected, there must a majority of voters who share their views. I find this particularly disturbing. The deniers I come across in Australia are small “d” deniers.

    “Yeah right. Maybe burning C02 is a problem. Maybe not. Maybe its natural variation. Who cares anyway. Pass me a beer and the remote control will ya.”



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  • Exactly so, Jos.

    The energy in oil, coal and gas is fossil sunshine converted at 1% efficiency. PV converts at 25% efficiency today and its input is effectively limitless. (InGaN and solar concentration will lift this well over 50% in a few years time).

    What bugs me about the crassness of the objections to wind and solar PV is the expectation that this technology will be perfect straight out of the box. (No new technology ever has been or ever will be.) The truth is we have to do it to fettle it. Most importantly we need to grow the the smart grid infrastructure to maximise renewables effectiveness and develop all the associate manufacturing and installation processes to do these jobs reliably and effectively also. This takes decades to get right. If only we had started sooner.



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  • Corruption writ large; those committee members are blatantly lobbying for their backers.

    Now, let me see; I want to learn about Einstein’s general theory of relativity; Oh, I know, I’ll pop outside and ask someone on the street for their opinion about it.

    Where do they find them?



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  • Its not the calendar thats screwed, it is simply the downright selfishness of New American Culture that aches so…

    If only the country’s inbred, dark red, heart could be cut out. The outer rind would make a wonderful place, cosmopolitan, compassionate….well relatively.



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  • Ryan1306 Nov 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Well here’s exhibit A.

    Some people here were talking about a need for qualifications for politicians!

    It would appear that to be a Repubican on a US science committee, a winner of “Retard of the decade award”, is required.

    Meanwhile, back in the UK, the qualification of “Homoeopathetic, astrological, moron of the decade”, is required”! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Tredinnick_%28politician%29#Support_for_complementary_and_alternative_medicine



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  • That was THE most depressing thing I have watched in years. There was nothing in the eyes or body language that said those idiots believed anything they said, so how do the American people miss that? Those idiots should be prosecuted.



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  • Olgun Nov 13, 2014 at 9:38 am

    That was THE most depressing thing I have watched in years.

    I’ve just watched the live Rosetta news conference, where ESA scientists, some of whom have been awake and working for the last two days, speaking English as a second language, put these utterly unfit-for-purpose committee members to shame!



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  • I really am in shock. This might be a case for mocking not always working. The audience seemed to be cracking up but I just watched mouth open. The seriousness of what happened there seems as if it might have been missed. I apologise to all thinking Americans but I have never been to America and have never wanted to, don’t think I can take all the waste and decadence that I’ve heard so much about, but am now more scared than ever for our future.



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  • For the record I vote Democrat -never Republican. Mitch Mc Connell is off my radar screen. Still the article puts forth platitudes repeated ad nauseam and recommends political reform with the simplicity of a TV advert. Mc Connell is a Republican elected to the senate from a state which votes conservative Republican. Urging the people in Kentucky to vote him out of office is a non-starter.

    I remain pessimistic about reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gases before 2050 based on what I have read about the global picture. David presents a proud accomplishment with solar power at his local level in Australia. Once more paradox rules the day. Per capita carbon emissions in that country reaching double digits is right up there with the U.S.

    Renewable energy statistics confirm that wind and solar play relatively small roles globally. In the U.S. the categories within renewables- which provide 9.5 percent of national energy consumption- break down as follows:
    Hydropower 28%
    Biomass Wood 23%
    Biomass Waste 5%
    Biomass Biofuels 22%
    Wind 17%
    Geothermal 2%
    Solar 3%
    If you care to do the math, solar accounts for .03 X .095 or .3%.

    Fossil fuels account for 87% of world energy consumption. The largest share of renewable energy consumption comes from hydropower which has been nearly maxed out with massive dams thrown up across the world’s rivers. Growth in this sector will be slow, expensive and harmful to the environment in other ways.

    The U. S. EIA proposes a comprehensive plan involving existing measures of conservation, fuel efficiency, carbon capture and the like which could keep atmospheric temperature increases within the 2 degree range instead of soaring toward the deadly 4 degree range. The plan holds promise but I remain skeptical at present because international enthusiasm, will and cooperation are observed more in the breach than in the practice. Half of the world’s people live in poverty with population in developing countries poised to increase by 3 billion. Retrofitting existing buildings along with implementing costly carbon capture schemes while converting coal-fired plants to natural gas would prove unfeasible in the short run and ineffective in the long run.



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  • Thank you for attempting to frame my motivations for me. It gives me a reason to re-examine them.

    My motivation around this issue is simply pragmatic. Science tells me these things.

    The world is finite. In terms of oil and coal they will not last forever.
    Transferring the carbon from aforementioned coal and oil into the atmosphere will dangerously increase temperatures in ways that we both know are going to be disruptive and destructive and in ways we cannot predict.
    Given that we cannot keep using the methods above it is imperative we transfer our energy systems to a sustainable system as soon as possible – no I am not advocating the immediate shutting down of coal and gas power stations to the destruction of our economies – we need those to allow the necessary transition as soon as humanly possible.
    The sun, geothermal and tidal power are the only truly sustainable power sources available to us now (I would love fusion to be possible and other nuclear systems like thorium may be great but I think they are not going to be built soon enough to impact of AGW – we need to work quicker). Current green alternatives work well enough now to provide 100% of our power needs – but will need time to transition. This is where you and I seem to first disagree, you do not accept that it can work, I’d point out here that you have but to look at the numerous examples provided in posts above and check them out to confirm that they do. Right now off the shelf green energy is economically viable – far better than coal if you even start to apply the cost of the damage coal is creating through pollution.

    Our second disagreement falls under your statement

    On this premise, our time is better spent funding public-private partnerships, employing teams of scientists and engineers working in cooperation on developing alternative low-carbon or carbon-neutral fuels, engines and materials.

    Ranting against political, economic and social “enemies” obsessed by
    ideological grievances within us, has little to do with meeting the
    daunting technical challenges facing humankind.

    Who do you mean when you say our time? I personally am doing everything I can afford to cut my personal emissions from walking to work to currently saving for solar PV (I’m on one income and are paying off our solar hot water) PV is next. I have of course fitted the house out with LED lighting, buy only electrical products with high efficiency rating, insulated my house etc. As soon as electric vehicles become affordable to me I’ll move to those also. These are the sorts of things I can personally do. The only other thing I can do is vote and have dialogue with other voters, in a country whose prime minister denies that AGW is real and doesn’t have a minister for science instead giving those responsibilities to the minister for industry! At the same time shut down the group who’s job it was to communicate the science of AGW to the public. So I as a member of a democracy need to strongly disagree with his stance and encourage others to see the error in this thinking. If I do not make as much pressure in my small sphere of influence as possible I believe I am failing to act as a citizen.

    Your approach I’m sorry to say seems like sticking your head into the sand. The daunting technical challenges will never be met if people and governments don’t believe they actually need to be met. How do you suggest my government justify supporting scientists and engineers and companies who are trying to engage in these ideas when they believe their work is “Crap!” to quote my PM? Please tell me how he justify spending the money required to fix a problem he doesn’t believe is real? The reality is he has to go, that means my job is to convince others around me to help make this happen. That necessitates some ranting I’m afraid. If you have some other method other than ranting at me. Please let me know.



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  • The US used to have a science committee with actual scientist on it. Carl Sagan lamented it’s disintegration in 1996 right before his death. It was simply done away with.

    I think it’s important to realize that none of the people highlighted in the video were appointed because someone thought they had great scientific acumen. They were appointed specifically to bog down any serious discussion on climate change with a endless list of moronic questions.



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  • Olgun
    Nov 13, 2014 at 10:13 am

    The audience seemed to be cracking up but I just watched mouth open. The seriousness of what happened there seems as if it might have been missed.

    There’s a saying that might sum up the situation…. “Laugh to keep from crying”.



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  • 53
    Clayton says:

    One of my earliest memories was that of Ronald Reagan being elected… His first “renovative” action once in the white house was to dismantle the solar panels installed by Carter. What a deuche! And…. It continues!



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  • Modesti Nov 12, 2014 at 2:48 am

    “The failure of wind and solar power…”

    Who says ? I do not know where You have heard that but it is a lie.

    Where there is government support in suitable locations, wind power is expanding along with other green technologies!

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/business-industry/energy/facts

    Wind

    Onshore wind power has recently overtaken hydro power as the most common form of renewable energy in Scotland.
    Figures published in June 2013 show wind generation in the first quarter of 2013 reached a record high, up by 11.5% year on year.
    Scotland boasts 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resources.

    The Scottish Government has an ambitious but achievable target for renewable energy in Scotland to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of gross annual electricity consumption and 11 per cent of heat consumption by 2020.
    Renewable generation in Scotland is enough to power the equivalent of every household in Scotland.
    Boosting renewable energy will also make a significant contribution to a sustainable economy.



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  • David presents a proud accomplishment with solar power at his local level in Australia. Once more paradox rules the day. Per capita carbon emissions in that country reaching double digits is right up there with the U.S.

    Yes, and this is because Australia is almost entirely powered by coal. We are the about the flattest continent on Earth so little hydro. We also have a tiny population 23 million spread out over an area about the size of North America. So there is an awful lot of power required to truck stuff to people who need it. All the more reason to scale it up and now.

    The point is not that we have the picture right, this is why we are ranting the point is can the green energy do the job and study after study measuring all relevant data shows that we would only need to back up power with gas (could even be bio-gas) 5 days a year if we have a distributed network of alternative solar PV, solar thermal and wind. The fact that average Australians are paying off panels in 5 years of a 25 year (or better) life time tells you it is madness not to do this. Consider also what happens when people start buying plug in hybrids or straight electric cars, systems have been developed that allow you to rent out your batteries to the grid, you put in how much capacity and when you need your car charged (through your phone) and your car can be used as base load capacity at night (when most cars are away in the garage). I only work 10mins from my work for example so if I plug in at work the grid could be using a significant amount of any battery I have. Only 20% of us need to have electric cars before we are essentially base load. The solutions are there right now some just don’t want to accept it.



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  • Reagan did finally listen to reason and science on ozone layer and got Big Chem to quit making CFC’s.
    Maggie Thatcher was the first Brit PM and one of the first world leaders to realise that climate change was a serious threat. Closing coal pits may have been more about union-busting than environmentalism but she did start something worthwhile.
    The irony is that when Republicans/Conservatives finally do get the message, things get done.
    Why?
    If Jeb Bush becomes the next prez, some serious action on climate change may happen. He was responsible for the most expensive environmental restoration project in Florida history. Saving the Everglades.



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  • Looking for ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the short term, we turn to cutting back on coal-fired energy, the worst offender, as a matter of common sense. Coal accounts for 44% of global emissions. One country, China, accounts for burning half the coal consumed worldwide each year The European Union has (reportedly) reduced CO2 emissions 20% below the base year of 1990, partly by closing coal-fired power plants. The United States is following the same course. If coal could be eliminated as a fossil fuel energy source today, mathematically carbon emissions would be cut almost in half – and the air in Beijing would be a hell of a lot cleaner.

    However, it’s not so simple. Coal consumption increased 4.4% globally in 2013 because cleaner-burning natural gas supplies fall far short of making up the deficit. China and India have small natural gas reserves and, even relying on imports, the national energy share provided by natural gas is currently 7% and 9% respectively. Longer term, it must be recognized that natural gas is also a carbon emitting fossil fuel with half the emissions of coal. The net reduction from realizing the dream of banning coal would be half of 44% or 22%. Over time as demand and per capita consumption rises with growing economies and populations natural gas would soon pull even with today’s gross emissions from coal.

    Unless science and technology, working cooperatively in public and private ventures, can come up with carbon-neutral renewable fuels on an economy of scale with current fossil fuels, humankind is stuck with oil, coal and natural gas for the foreseeable future. ( Innovative technology which can economically capture or otherwise neutralize 80% to 90% of all carbon emissions would also provide a viable alternative.)
    – Any ideas?



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  • 60
    John Gohde says:

    “whether it is a problem should not be up for discussion anymore”

    Total nonesnse, as well as down right offensive.

    This Scientism of stupid religious like dogma should be offensive to ALL.



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  • John Gohde Nov 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    @OP – “whether it is a problem should not be up for discussion anymore”

    That man made global warming is happening and the heat input to the Earth is increasing as a result, has long been settled in thousands of studies making detailed measurements of melting ice-caps etc.

    Total nonesnse, as well as down right offensive.

    What is offensive is ignoramuses who cannot or will not understand the science, pretending that validly conducted science is either flawed or “offensive”, simply because they are too ignorant, bigoted, lazy, or uneducated, to comprehend the conclusive evidence available.

    This Scientism of stupid religious like dogma should be offensive to ALL.

    Scientism has two self-contradictory meanings, making it ideal for disingenuous, ambiguous, pseudo-arguments.

    Like the religious who have no capability to present an evidenced rational case, AGW denialists, simply copy the ignorant religious in bandying around the misuse of word scientism as a term of denigration, and pretence that reputable science is the pseudo-science they themselves have uncritically swallowed and parroted.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/scientism
    1. The collection of attitudes and practices considered typical of scientists.

    2. The belief that the investigative methods of the physical sciences are applicable or justifiable in all fields of inquiry.

    1. the application of, or belief in, the scientific method

    2. the uncritical application of scientific or quasi-scientific methods to inappropriate fields of study or investigation



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  • Melvin,

    Unless science and technology, working cooperatively in public and private ventures, can come up with carbon-neutral renewable fuels on an economy of scale with current fossil fuels, humankind is stuck with oil, coal and natural gas for the foreseeable future. ( Innovative technology which can economically capture or otherwise neutralize 80% to 90% of all carbon emissions would also provide a viable alternative.)
    – Any ideas?

    Again and again you are re-stating the problem which we all agree is real. CO2 needs to be cut. The simple fact is that for every kilowatt of wind or solar PV power that is produced that is one less kilowatt produced by coal. solar PV is forcing coal fired power stations in my country coal is now becoming unprofitable. That is happening right now, naturally people are taking power generation into their own hands. Again and again study after study shows our country can be 100% renewable with current off the shelf technology one example here our government needs to get with the program and begin setting up the distributed grid necessary to enable our wobbly baseline to work, instead they have thrown away many billions on pointless infrastructure investment while blaming the subsequent hikes in electricity costs on a Carbon Tax which hadn’t come into play at that point hereusing fear politics to successfully win an election from a public that likes to think of itself as individualist and anti-establishment but that is in-fact desperate to be led and afraid of any change from the status quo.

    The fact is science and technology has already provided the solutions needed to fix this now. If this is indeed not the case lets hear some evidence to the contrary not – ‘from my reading’ please lets have some links please.

    What you appear to be doing instead is criticise those of us for loudly doing our civic duty of trying to convince those around us and our governments to do something about this. You have failed to make a case for why I should not loudly criticise my government for not only failing to act but getting in the way of the general public even understanding the problem. Again if I am wrong please provide some reason why.



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  • Mark Nov 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Some of the newest arguments about climate change on the right are put forth . . . .

    he cannot even frame an “argument”. He is just preaching drivel!

    by Alex Epstein, an atheist, in this book that’s getting promoted a bunch this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu6637cjk8A

    This video shows babbling idiot spouting assertions which are no more than the personal opinions of an ignoramus who demonstrates no knowledge of climate, technologies or scientific methodology!
    He is simply a denialist preacher of nonsense – on a par with the muppet in “exhibit A”.

    He will no doubt have little trouble in finding carbon-Luddite sponsors!



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  • Here Bill McKibben destroys Epstein’s out of date drivel with up to the minute facts.

    Incidentally Solar PV, CSP etc. is set to become the provider of 50% of the worlds power by 2050 and Solar PV will have tripled in usage in the five years from 2013 to 2018. Solar got a late start over wind (now 21% of US capacity) needing the cheap 200mm silicon wafers of second hand semiconductor processing kit used for older tech memory chips etc. Mid noughties cheap wafers pump-primed the solar PV market and now it has traction it is taking off like a rocket driving the volume that drives down the price relentlessly. As of 2013 the levelised cost of solar PV is grid competitive in high flux locations already and as costs continue to drop and efficiencies go up this condition will spread to encompass most areas of greater than 175W/m^2 horizontal irradiance. Any hikes in current fuel costs will start to favour the chilliest bits of the North as well.

    Wind with an earlier start has now reached the same levelised cost as all fossil fuels but lignite (the filthiest) coal. Moreover its cost are set to fall a further 25% by 2030 as new formats turbines aad infrastructure are rolled out.

    Even now fossils are beat. Only ignorance and a selfish malice impede the one necessary further requirement, not more technology, but the very longterm investments that these low maintenance, long lived cash generators need.



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  • Alan4: John Gohde’s posture is compatible with the scientific method and rational skepticism itself. Anyone who says “The matter is settled..and should not be up for discussion anymore” is making noises that sound threatening to free and open inquiry, dissent, and inputs from all sources. Lawrence Krauss has said that scientists welcome error; they love mistakes and failure because their motivation derives from a confession of ignorance coupled with the passion to know more. Richard Dawkins has said that scientists do not seek a specious entity called THE TRUTH. (Science leaves dogma to religion). Only through trial and error integral to the experimental method can findings be incorporated into mathematical models which provisionally describe how (not why) natural phenomena work moderated with the underlying conviction that future experimental findings and mathematical models will necessarily produce more accurate descriptions.

    The fact remains that there is not a consensus on global warming -exact causes, exact effects and exact timetables from multiple points of view. Thrashing out global cooperation effective within many divergent interests and purposes will not be easy. Calling people war-mongers, political fools, too ignorant, bigoted, lazy or uneducated spits out invective that adds nothing to the conversation.

    The article along with comments on the thread express various views worthy of consideration. For example, you seem convinced that thorium reactors installed on a global scale will supply carbon-free energy decoupled from economic and population growth (provided people consume goods and services at a “reasonable” level). I’ve read enough scientific “bad press” about thorium to convince me that it has little pragmatic or financial value in the foreseeable future. I can only express my point of view believing myself to be as well informed as you. Claims of essential or absolute truth are referentially vacuous. I’m learning to regard my own positions as temporary and provisional pending new evidence, practices and developments.



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  • These politicians are in positions of power. Science and technology are at the drawing board. The economics of what they work on is influenced by regulations (or lack thereof) which are decided by these politicians. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect these powerful and influential people to make their decisions based on available evidence and sound scientific conclusions, and it would be irresponsible not to call attention to this behavior when it is recognized.



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  • Alan4: John Gohde’s posture is compatible with the scientific method and rational skepticism itself. Anyone who says “The matter is settled..and should not be up for discussion anymore” is making noises that sound threatening to free and open inquiry, dissent, and inputs from all sources.

    Melvin,
    Alan is perfectly capable of answering this for himself, but I can’t help putting my two cents in.

    No one is suggesting that no-one should be able to publish contrary data. However after a certain amount of data comes in you can say that something is a provisional fact. AGW is now one of these. Yes there are a few scientists who disagree with the consensus and some even publish papers in scientific journals but so far their work has been rightly shot down in flames. A good recent example is the supposed link between chlorofluorocarbons and climate change is a good example this paper and others like it have been re-soundly criticised for lack of evidence and fudging graphs to fit their models. However most of the disagreement doesn’t even come in the form of scientists engaging in the process of peer-review, it is in the form of people (some of them scientists) writing, books, blogs and giving speeches when they are perfectly capable of publishing a scientific paper, perfectly capable of going into the oceans to drop buoys to measure temps, salinity etc. perfectly capable of engaging satellites to actually take measurements, perfectly capable of going to the Antarctic to take ice core samples and publishing the results. Why have they not done this? What does the data say that climate scientists have gone to the bother (at great personal risk and discomfort in many cases)? That AGW is real.

    is making noises that sound threatening to free and open inquiry, dissent, and inputs from all sources.

    So whom should I listen too on this issue? The Pope? CEO of BP? A proctologist? A faith healer? What we politically do about it is another matter, but our actions have to be based upon reality and our understanding of that in this case comes from science.

    So when Alan4Discussion and others on this thread say the argument is over it is because he and others have read the science – including that which disagrees the consensus, and found out what you would know also if you took the time. All of the data that has gone through the scientific process thus far points in only one direction. To say otherwise (until contradictory data comes in) is equivalent to accusing evolutionists of thinking religiously.

    In addition to this the consensus on what will happen if we don’t act now are too horrible to contemplate. So given that the data all points in one direction it is not unreasonable or scientism to act on the information we have in the same sense that I’m sure occasionally a suspicious mole should be cut out that turns out on biopsy to be benign, however we would rightly think you an idiot if after 10 doctors in a row after examining said mole told you they thought it was skin cancer and you decided to wait until it metastasised so you could be 100% sure before you acted.



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  • If you think all the data points “one way,” you aren’t familiar with the peer review literature. The literature on the current hiatus in the surface temperature warming trend is a good example. Nearly every hypothesis points to a diagnostic issue with the models, whether it is the failure of the models to store heat in the deep ocean, reproduce the strength of the trade winds, or represent the amplitude of the Atlantic thermo-haline circulation. There is also a wealth of model diagnostic literature independent of the leading edge research on the pause. Most model independent estimates of climate sensitivity came in below the range of the AOGCM sensitivities, which is the reason the IPCC AR5 lowered the bottom end of its likely sensitivities from 2K to 1.5 degrees K. There simply is no model independent evidence for the high climate sensitivities to CO2 forcing in the current climate that are implemented in the models. Curry and Lewis, using the latest IPCC AR5 estimates conclude that the best estimate of the equilibrium climate sensitivity is 1.64K and a transient climate response of 1.33K So the international “goal” of keeping the warming over the next century to less than 2C can probably be achieved under business as usual scenarios.
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00382-014-2342-y
    You can find the full text via google scholar.



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  • The models for AGW are indeed the best working hypotheses for global warming we have. Finessing these arguments is where the very great majority of scientists are currently. The arguments for sustainable energy production are only partly informed by AGW and its avoidable consequences. Planning for a energy stable future, substantially free of political manipulations, inevitable gear changes when supplies run out, can build in wealth into all societies. It will create forward certainty that will of itself unlock investment, because the power to do work is secured. Solar roofs, community windfarms, local CHP embedded generation and biogass democritise this and further take it out of the hands of manipulating others.

    The changes we seek for AGW mitigation are exactly the changes we should be making anyway for future economic and political stabilisation. It is exactly what we need to do to look our kids in the eye and not need to say sorry for stealing the emergency funds that were buried in the ground.

    After a mere ten years of commercial activity solar PV, for instance, has reached grid cost parity in places and its forward projections in capaital and installation cost will ensure grid parity over 75% of the planet by 2030 if implemented.



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  • Antarctica is the driest continent on the planet. Does your 3 to 5 year payback on photovoltaics include the cost of backup and base power? Or does it include subsidies and mandates on the power utilities?



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  • The models are probably still a couple generations away from being able to attribute an energy imbalance as small as 0.6W/m^2 globally and annually averaged.. It is one thing for them to be a working hypothesis for global warming, and quite another for them to be a good working hypothesis for the surface warming hiatus and the current climate. The quality of peer review around model based publications is extremely poor. Seldom is there a good review of the diagnostic literature for the model or an estimate of the implications for known issues on the conclusions. I’ve yet to see a climate model paper projection retracted because of subsequent diagnostic issues were discovered in the models. When Wentz in Science (2007) concluded that none of the models reproduced more than one-third to one-half of the precipitation increase seen in the observations, not a single model based projection of increased drought risk was retracted.



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  • What should be informing action given the driving need for sustainable, stable economies and stable, sustainable energy is not predicting most likely outcomes, but calculating the risk and likelihood of catastrophic ones. If we have a one in five chance of catastrophe, say, that may be motivation enough to do what we need to do anyway and reap the rewards of that benefit earlier.

    Having given it a shot, it turns out that sustainable energy is entirely doable. Sustainable energy costs are set to fall below fossil as existing technologies refine and new ones (some with astonishing potential eg. InGaN plus solar thermal) greatly adding to energy based wealth…

    Lets bet on have a certain future. The error bars tell us what to do



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  • Martin Nov 15, 2014 at 5:11 am

    It is one thing for them to be a working hypothesis for global warming, and quite another for them to be a good working hypothesis for the surface warming hiatus and the current climate.

    The focus of deniers on the variables in local detail in models, does nothing to challenge the big picture of increasing energy in the atmosphere and the oceans, the movement of the climate belts towards the poles, the melting ice-caps raising sea-levels, and loss of mountain ice-caps reducing water supply to vast areas.

    The quality of peer review around model based publications is extremely poor. Seldom is there a good review of the diagnostic literature for the model or an estimate of the implications for known issues on the conclusions.

    It is simply an error, to lump all conclusions together, as if the difficulty in predicting local detail, had any relevance to the conclusions about the long-term, global picture.

    We need low-carbon energy systems, and reduction of waste, and we need them now, having failed to take opportunities to acquire them. “yesterday”!
    They are already available and proved to work.

    When Wentz in Science (2007) concluded that none of the models reproduced more than one-third to one-half of the precipitation increase seen in the observations, not a single model based projection of increased drought risk was retracted.

    There seem to have been some quite severe increases in precipitation, floods, and droughts, in various places since 2007!
    Perhaps he was just failing to cope with climate variability, and working on the wrong time-scale! Feedbacks have frequently caused climate changes to exceed conservative predictions, – despite denial claims that the original predictions were “wildly exaggerated”.



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  • Melvin Nov 14, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Alan4: John Gohde’s posture is compatible with the scientific method and rational skepticism itself.

    What utter rubbish!
    While scientists recognise the slight possibilities of there being small errors in scientific evidence which has been independently reconfirmed thousands of times, It is not open for debate with ignoramuses spouting “scientism” as a derogatory term, or being offended by facts, while demonstrating a lack of any understanding of science or effort to research the subject. !

    John Gohde Nov 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm – Total nonesnse, as well as down right offensive. – This Scientism of stupid religious like dogma should be offensive to ALL.

    Anyone who thinks this rant is science, knows nothing about science!

    Anyone who says “The matter is settled..and should not be up for discussion anymore” is making noises that sound threatening to free and open inquiry, dissent, and inputs from all sources.

    Science does not accept “inputs from all sources”. It only accepts evidence from competently conducted investigations using objective scientific methodology.
    Dissenting babbling idiots, and disreputable propagandists, it ignores in coming to its conclusions!



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  • Failing to match the increase in precipitation, the acceleration of the water cycle, a key negative feedback is not a “local’ issue, Trenberth and Meehl’s difficulty in finding a model that produce an extended hiatus with a 1W/m^2 energy imbalance is not a local issue, models which “match” the midcentury cooling period with aerosol forcing instead of trade winds or the thermo-haline circulation ocean mode is not a local issue, models 30 years behind the Arctic melting (Stoeve and Scambos), yet still “matching” the warming trend, obviously erroneously, is not a local issue. All of this is correlated error among the models that does not cancel when they are combined into ensembles. Multiple errors larger than the energy imbalance of interest show that the models are not just ready to attribute the cause of the warming, or project the impact into the future over century time scales.



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  • Martin Nov 15, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Lewis puts the probability of under 2C at 70% Sounds like we can wait for the science to become more settled.

    The warming is on-going, with considerable scope for rapid escalation from feed-backs – some of which are already happening. The EXACT timing of the temperature rises are SLIGHTLY uncertain (in both upward and downward error margins!

    Waiting to move from a 97% view to a 100% view, is irrational wish thinking! The problems are well confirmed as real and escalating.

    “I don’t believe the calculations because I don’t know what to measure, can’t do the measurements, and don’t like, or understand, the maths!” is not a credible position.

    There is more to planetary warming than local surface temperature. Vast amounts of latent heat go melting cubic kilometres of ice! http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/Grace/news/grace20121129.html

    We are already running late on getting the readily available alternatives to carbon pollution in place



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  • The problem isn’t moving from 97% (actually 94.9%) to 100%, but is within the 97% where most skeptics are. The issue isn’t whether humans are making a significant contribution to the warming, but what the sensitivity is to CO2 forcing is in the current climate. The skeptics are probably the best informed within that 97%, because climate science is a multidisciplinary field and most “climate scientists” don’t have an informed opinion unless they have stepped outside their specialty to follow the model diagnostic literature and the model independent attempts to estimate climate sensitivity.



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  • Martin Nov 15, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Antarctica is the driest continent on the planet. Does your 3 to 5 year payback on photovoltaics include the cost of backup and base power? Or does it include subsidies and mandates on the power utilities?

    The questions of finances are muddied by exploration and tax breaks to carbon extractors and burners, but renewable costs are increasingly competitive once the carbon industries are held responsible the environmental damage they cause.

    However the issue of the urgent need to reduce unsustainable carbon emissions and pollution in general, is a readily achievable priority in any case.
    It is purely a matter of directing the money and work-force on to the right projects which will provide a sustainable future.



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  • Martin Nov 15, 2014 at 7:40 am

    The problem isn’t moving from 97% (actually 94.9%) to 100%, but is within the 97% where most skeptics are. The issue isn’t whether humans are making a significant contribution to the warming, but what the sensitivity is to CO2 forcing is in the current climate. The skeptics are probably the best informed within that 97%, because climate science

    You seem confused!
    The “sceptics”are in the 3%, and once you discount the mining and oil company geologists’ papers, (from people making a living from exploring for new carbon), in the 3%, of peer-reviewed studies, there are even less unbiased scientists with “sceptical” views!

    link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00382-014-2342-y

    Uncertainty in aerosol forcing is the dominant contribution to the ECS and TCR uncertainty ranges.

    What this says is that suphate aerosols (well understood as causing global dimming) cause uncertainties.

    Government inabilities to agree, and adhere to, CO2 reduction targets, also cause uncertainties, but that is no basis for pretending the problems do not exist!

    The new technologies provide the energy sources without the risks, so they make sense regardless of predicting the exact local details on models.



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  • Lewis puts the probability of under 2C at 70% Sounds like we can wait for the science to become more settled.

    Not in the least. Mitigation is cheaper and more effective implemented earlier and if it has to be done anyway….

    Probable temperature rises may be easing down a little but the high end numbers in the possible ranges are not moving so much. Catastrophes are still on the cards. Sadly for those crossing their fingers over the matter, the risks associated with even modest temperature rises are going up as we learn (in theory and practice!) more about the downsides of weather volatility.

    Revised “reasons for concern”

    Africa’s one billion of population, already consisting of far too many on the edge of catastrophe, is set to quadruple to four billion in the next two generations. One billion rich folk will be the main culprits for the weather volatility that will kill millions. For them it is cheapest just to switch up the AC a little and draw the blinds, but the gobal political consequences could be huge.

    I think I need better insurance advice, thanks.



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  • Melvin Nov 14, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    The fact remains that there is not a consensus on global warming –

    It seems you are making up your own “facts”! There is a 97% consensus of peer-reviewed expert climate scientists that global warming is happening and that humans burning billions of tons of carbon is the cause.

    exact causes, exact effects and exact timetables from multiple points of view.

    The EXACT details are complex and difficult for the non-specialist to understand, but that does not detract in anyway from the settled science of the greenhouse effect, or its physics. The global trade figures give details of carbon extraction and the human added atmospheric CO2.
    “Approximately correct” is sufficient to identify a major problem which will cost far in excess of any price differences in the technologies.

    Thrashing out global cooperation effective within many divergent interests and purposes will not be easy.

    True! – and politicians denying the problem and the solutions, will make that more difficult!

    Calling people war-mongers, political fools, too ignorant, bigoted, lazy or uneducated

    Is identifying aspects of reality in human historical decision making!
    Those who chose uranium reactors for their clandestine weapons potential, rather than the safer thorium reactors which cannot melt down or blow up and have greatly reduced waste problems, WERE WAR MONGERS! – Many in the pay of munitions manufacturers!
    While those who disparage functional low carbon energy systems and deny climate science or evolution, ARE ignorant, bigoted, lazy or uneducated, whether they like people recognising this or not!

    spits out invective that adds nothing to the conversation.

    Projecting your own emotional responses on to allegedly “offensive” facts, simply moves the conversation away from objective, evidenced, rationality, and into emotive rhetoric!

    I’ve read enough scientific “bad press” about thorium to convince me that it has little pragmatic or financial value in the foreseeable future.

    Apparently nobody has informed the Chinese of your views, and they are unimpressed by the “bad press”, so are planning to develop reactors and sell them to the denial dummies at a future date.

    http://www.itheo.org/thorium-energy-conference-2012
    The Chinese initiated action to find viable energy sources significant enough to wean the country off its dependence on carbon-based energy. The large amounts of Thorium being produced as a by-product of its rare earth mining operations, is a further incentive. ThEC12 was partnered by the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) – a senior academic institution of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), which has been given specific responsibility for the Thorium Energy utilization programme in China.
    The initative in China makes us believe that the Thorium Energy implementation door against which we’ve been pushing, may finally be starting to open.

    I can only express my point of view believing myself to be as well informed as you.

    With the erroneous and out-dated stuff you have posted here on low-carbon technologies, that would appear to be the problem.

    If you want to disbelieve in evolution you can also find some really BAD-press on the internet, but that has no bearing on the validity of the science.

    Claims of essential or absolute truth are referentially vacuous. I’m learning to regard my own positions as temporary and provisional pending new evidence, practices and developments.

    That is good, but don’t expect to find any significant refutation of Newton’s Laws of Motion in Earth- bound engineering – beyond some minor adjustments for Einstein’s relativity at high velocities.
    (I don’t think anyone is going to be stepping on to air outside 20th floor windows and be saved by discovering new physics on the way down!)

    Pretending high probability science can be discounted because it is not 100% certain, or citing personal ignorance as a source of uncertainty, is simply irrational – particularly when advocating alternative views for which there is negligible evidence, or which go against the evidence available.



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  • Alan, The “sceptics”are in the 3%

    There certainly are skeptics in the 3%, but the 97% were those that answer this question “yes”: Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? There are plenty of skeptics who do that. After all, there are plenty of issues in the science other than whether humans are contributing to the warming, such as how much might it warm.

    Phil, “Probable temperature rises may be easing down a little but the
    high end numbers in the possible ranges are not moving so much. “

    The high end numbers are only supported by the models, which have lost most of their credibility due to the pause, and recognition that they disagree with each other by more than a factor of 2.5 in sensitivity and are able to “match” the 20th century climate, only by tuning within the degrees of freedom allowed within the uncertainty of the aerosol forcing. With trade wind and thermo-haline hypotheses for the mid-century cooling and the hiatus, their room to maneuver is being closed out. There is no evidence that weather volatility is increasing. On first principles it should be decreasing due to reduced temperature differences, e.g., polar amplification and the upper troposhere hot spot.



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  • Alan, “How can anyone vote for the Tea Party, or these scientific
    illiterate Republicans”

    With tea partiers joining the Republicans, scientific literacy is less of an issue, since tea parties are more scientifically literate than those who aren’t participating in the tea parties. No one can vote for the Tea Party, if you want a tea partier you have to vote Republican or Libertarian. Many of us tea partiers are scientifically literate, atheist , for open immigration and list The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype among the most influential books in our lives. You sound like someone who is not getting his news from a fair and balanced source..

    https://plus.google.com/+POLITICO/posts/cdRXDg1UR1C



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  • Martin Nov 15, 2014 at 10:26 am

    There is no evidence that weather volatility is increasing.

    Really?????????

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0092538

    We document significant worldwide weather anomalies that affected agriculture and vector-borne disease outbreaks during the 2010–2012 period.
    We utilized 2000–2012 vegetation index and land surface temperature data from NASA’s satellite-based Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to map the magnitude and extent of these anomalies for diverse regions including the continental United States, Russia, East Africa, Southern Africa, and Australia.
    We demonstrate that shifts in temperature and/or precipitation have significant impacts on vegetation patterns with attendant consequences for agriculture and public health.

    Weather extremes resulted in excessive rainfall and flooding as well as severe drought, which caused ~10 to 80% variation in major agricultural commodity production (including wheat, corn, cotton, sorghum) and created exceptional conditions for extensive mosquito-borne disease outbreaks of dengue, Rift Valley fever, Murray Valley encephalitis, and West Nile virus disease.
    Analysis of MODIS data provided a standardized method for quantifying the extreme weather anomalies observed during this period.
    Assessments of land surface conditions from satellite-based systems such as MODIS can be a valuable tool in national, regional, and global weather impact determinations.



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  • Martin Nov 15, 2014 at 5:11 am

    Multiple errors larger than the energy imbalance of interest show that the models are not just ready to attribute the cause of the warming, or project the impact into the future over century time scales.

    You continue to confuse “the cause of the warming” with the detailed modelled local effects of the warming!

    It is where the heat is going locally, which can be the difficult to plot feature, not the input of heat caused by human atmospheric CO2 and other emissions interacting with Solar radiation and low temperature thermal re-radiation back into space.

    Some feedback effects such as increased peat fires causing massive CO2 emissions due to drying bogs and loss of tundra permafrost, are easy to spot!

    This articles covers the basics of Earth’s energy budget.
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/135642main_balance_trifold21.pdf
    Recent research suggests that the amount of incoming solar energy Earth receives from the Sun is greater than the amount Earth returns to space as heat—evidence that Earth is warming.



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  • Ah, a correlation of 0.05 for teabaggers more likely to identify that lasers do not work by concentrating sound than others….

    I see you remain a stickler for the clear interpretation of statistics. Bravo!



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  • Taking my own advice, I have researched the internet further. Contrary to my earlier opinion, I now believe on balance that the technology to curb global warming is “currently available” with serious qualifications. From an IEA report:

    To achieve that vision, IEA reports call for clear, credible consistent signals from policy makers
    29 September 2014 Paris
    The sun could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear, according to a pair of reports issued today by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The two IEA technology roadmaps show how solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050 while solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could provide an additional 11%. Combined, these solar technologies could prevent the emission of more than 6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2050 – that is more than all current energy-related CO2 emissions from the United States or almost all of the direct emissions from the transport sector worldwide today.
    “The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years and decades,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “However, both technologies are very capital intensive: almost all expenditures are made upfront. Lowering the cost of capital is thus of primary importance for achieving the vision in these roadmaps.”
    The Executive Director also stressed that the two reports do not represent a forecast. As with other IEA technology roadmaps, they detail the expected technology improvement targets and the policy actions required to achieve that vision by 2050, highlighting priority actions and milestones for governments, research and industry stakeholders.
    A central message in both publications deals with the need for clear, credible and consistent signals from policy makers, which can lower deployment risks to investors and inspire confidence. “By contrast,” Ms. Van der Hoeven said, “where there is a record of policy incoherence, confusing signals or stop-and-go policy cycles, investors end up paying more for their investment, consumers pays more for their energy, and some projects that are needed simply will not go ahead.

    The report emphasizes that it is a scenario not a prediction. The IEA is an interest group that promotes optimal solutions to global warming so skepticism should still be held in robust reserves.

    Some of the daunting challenges:

    It is already 2015. 2050 leaves only 35 years for implementation on an economy of scale. The report says the next 5 years will be crucial to ramp up the program and construct an effective launching pad . Currently it would appear that interest, will, and enthusiasm at the international level for the project has not been widely publicized.

    The current surge in oil and natural gas supplies has raised demand for plentiful cheap fossil fuels. Consumers and policy makers may be content to rely on the global fossil fuel infrastructure already in place for the next 20 years or so dampening interest in renewable energy ventures.

    Solar and wind are capital intensive with costs paid upfront. Simply put, governments must provide huge subsidies and guaranteed (sometimes risky) loans to the industry in order to attract investors. Various constituencies, interest groups, consumers, voters in general will put pressure on political leaders to allocate scarce tax revenues elsewhere to meet pressing needs in the public sector, the welfare arena, national defense; and, yes, subsidies for oil and gas exploration and extraction. Intermittent or reduced subsidies could discourage investment.

    IEA does not mention how governments in poor nations would finance millions, cumulatively billions of solar panels, solar panel arrays or wind farms. Africa, for example, projected to have 2.4 billion people by 2050, might be compelled to stick with coal, oil, and natural gas for the foreseeable future.

    The current network of transmission lines worldwide would have to be replicated to bring electricity to populated areas at a distance from the solar and wind electricity generating sites. ( There are currently 46,000 miles of transmission lines in the U.S. alone). Grids would have to be modified or built at great expense to become “smart grids” that effectively coordinate, store and distribute solar and wind power coming online.

    Traditional fossil fuel plants would have to be maintained to supplement power when wind or solar power was either inadequate or experienced deficits because of overcast weather, windless days, etc.

    Resident citizens will launch protests against wind farms, solar arrays and transmission lines swallowing up open land in their vicinity and creating ugly eyesores from every viewpoint.

    Finally, and most importantly, the national and international consensus and cooperation taking form in agreements, treaties, industrial and financial commitments, shared research and development -all necessary to pulling off the project would have to emerge in a world torn by market competition, trade wars and geopolitical resentments and conflicts.

    The key fossil fuels, oil and natural gas, will probably peak around mid-century and thereafter have to be replaced gradually with renewables predominately solar and wind. In my view, the IEA scenario regime will be far from established by 2050. It is, I admit, possible and to be hoped for.



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  • Martin Nov 15, 2014 at 10:26 am

    After all, there are plenty of issues in the science other than whether humans are contributing to the warming, such as how much might it warm.

    We know scientists approach their work with open sceptical minds, but we were talking about the (pseudo)sceptic climate science deniers who deny global warming is a problem, in this context, along with the survey results which show 3% of a 12,000+ sample of peer-reviewed climate science papers, reject the idea.



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  • Melvin Nov 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Taking my own advice, I have researched the internet further. Contrary to my earlier opinion, I now believe on balance that the technology to curb global warming is “currently available” with serious qualifications. From an IEA report:

    I’m glad to see you are catching up with fast-developing modern technology.

    Grids would have to be modified or built at great expense to become “smart grids” that effectively coordinate, store and distribute solar and wind power coming online.

    The low carbon systems can be divide into “very-local” and conventional concentrated plant generation. The photovoltaics on roofs and local wind turbines, can actually reduce to need for some long distance power-lines but all these systems need smart switching and regulating systems. The large groups of turbines and solar farms would be more like a power-plant from a distribution point of view.

    Traditional fossil fuel plants would have to be maintained to supplement power when wind or solar power was either inadequate or experienced deficits because of overcast weather, windless days, etc.

    That does not follow, if nuclear generation and heat-storage solar-thermal generation is included. Also tidal power has outages at the turn of the tide, but slack water at high and low tides occur in different places at different times.
    In sunny climates parabolic trough or power-tower heliostat solar-thermal systems with heat storage, can replace conventional plants.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_energy
    Heat storage allows a solar thermal plant to produce electricity at night and on overcast days. This allows the use of solar power for baseload generation as well as peak power generation, with the potential of displacing both coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. Additionally, the utilization of the generator is higher which reduces cost.

    Heat is transferred to a thermal storage medium in an insulated reservoir during the day, and withdrawn for power generation at night. Thermal storage media include pressurized steam, concrete, a variety of phase change materials, and molten salts such as calcium, sodium and potassium nitrate.

    Molten salt systems look the most promising.

    Resident citizens will launch protests against wind farms, solar arrays and transmission lines swallowing up open land in their vicinity and creating ugly eyesores from every viewpoint.

    They may do, but no more so than they would against steam and smoke belching coal or gas plants.

    Tidal turbines of course are deep underwater out of sight, and in places like the Gulf of Kutch can use shared power-lines with off-shore wind farms.

    The 1960s Rance Tidal barrage required up-front capital investment, but has paid for its self over the years. Other long duration systems should do likewise.



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  • Getting there…

    The important thing is to not depend on governements to subsidise the upfront investment but that they enact legislation favouring long term investment and likewise favour the stability of cash stream businesses and disfavour the rewards of short-term gambling, a quite generally useful tweek to the financial markets. The capital is out there, often underused. (20% is going begging at current estimates.)

    Governements can further aid the situation by enacting fossil carbon taxation if it hasn’t done so (or upping it if it has) and seeding development in say bulk GaN production in 150mm wafers. (OK just Japan then. Pity. California could have recaptured the solar PV market.)

    China will front a lot of the the cost of solar PV in Africa where it has made huge inroads already, rightly identifying it as the one remaining source of bulk peasantry to replace its own, now mostly uplifted and expensive “peasants”. (China has got to the edge of pricing itself out of being the world’s manufacturer, so successful has it been. It is scouting around to find where it can set up new cheap workshops.) China IS the manufacturer of Solar PV. If Europe could fund the electrical connection it could benefit hugely from this, but we need that sensible banking and economic reform.

    In Africa solar PV dramatically drops the cost of putting smart IT infrastructure in place. Mobile phones are getting to pay for themselves in remarkably poor locations. Solar PV keeps the base-stations going and the phones recharged by local little businesses. As there is no grid there are no big installations to interface with that need funding, just a plethora of tiny installations. This will be easier to ramp up. This is the cheapest solar |PV of all. The UK’s largest Solar PV installer takes part in a charity to supply these personal installations. Its working very well so far…



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  • Traditional fossil fuel plants would have to be maintained to supplement power when wind or solar power was either inadequate or experienced deficits because of overcast weather, windless days, etc.

    Further to your comments on this, Alan, we must not forget that we can move natural gas into local CHP, embedded generators to lift the overall efficiency, then, later, feed in greengas from local farm and human waste. As with all these things some pump-priming will overcome initial reluctance.

    Most important with renwables though is that a smart grid comprising international HVDC links and the ability to manage both load and supply variability will help mightily. Techniques like peak shaving substantially reduce the high margins required for base provision. When viewed over a larger and larger area renewables become more and more stable. HVDC transmission of power greatly extends the reach of renewables, steadying things down and the latest GaN inverters are taking big chunks out their costs….



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  • phil rimmer Nov 15, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Further to your comments on this, Alan, we must not forget that we can move natural gas into local CHP, embedded generators to lift the overall efficiency, then, later, feed in greengas from local farm and human waste. As with all these things some pump-priming will overcome initial reluctance.

    There seem to be various ideas for green energy gas production.

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/42878.pdf
    SYNTHESIS GAS PRODUCTION BY RAPID SOLAR THERMAL GASIFICATION OF CORN STOVER

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032112004698
    Hydrogen production plays a very important role in the development of hydrogen economy.

    .Hydrogen gas production through solar energy which is abundant, clean and renewable is one of the promising hydrogen production approaches. This article overviews the available technologies for hydrogen generation using solar energy as main source.

    Photochemical, electrochemical and thermochemical processes for producing hydrogen with solar energy are analyzed from a technological environmental and economical point of view. It is concluded that developments of improved processes for hydrogen production via solar resource are likely to continue in order to reach competitive hydrogen production costs. Hybrid thermochemical processes where hydrocarbons are exclusively used as chemical reactants for the production of syngas and the concentrated solar radiation is used as a heat source represent one of the most promising alternatives: they combine conventional and renewable energy representing a proper transition towards a solar hydrogen economy.



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  • Great Melvin,

    Yes, I’d agree with a lot of what you have to say here and there are real concerns about how exactly to implement this although I think you may still be thinking with a mindset of centralised power production rather than decentralised power. Currently coal fired power stations and nuclear need a few things to ensure they work namely water to run the turbines (this is also true for solar thermal plants) they can’t just be put anywhere (at least in the direst habitable content where I live). This means often massive investment in large power lines and rail to get coal to the power plant. In many cases this means infrastructure costs that are overwhelmingly higher than distributed power, unless that is you are supplying a whole city in which case it is often easier to distribute that cost among the millions who use it. In North Queensland Ergon Energy (local energy supplier) stated they are now investing in using green energy and having distributed networks in these areas because they don’t have to invest in all the infrastructure costs. In those areas and I suspect much of the third world you’ll see almost exclusively distributed power, because it is much cheaper. As the alternative get progressively cheaper this argument gets stronger.

    I have a very very limited involvement with a charity that my bother and sister in law run for the Masai in Africa, their immediate goal is lighting and something to charge their phones, this does not cost much, is time they will expand and add more power as needed, they are also better at working efficiently than we are.

    I thing you may need to shift your mind set that the third world is going to have to instantly ramp up to living like use. In media it is often referred to as wanting to reach our standard of living. The way this is painted I think is false equivalence. They will not instantly get there and given limited power initially and the likelihood that they will as they gain power mostly gain it through green energy in a modular form this move will also necessitate efficient products and uses and other ways of gaining energy that we never consider in the West.

    Biogas is a good case in point here if your interested. This system can not only supply gas to cook but can also effectively give base load power through gas fired generators. We of course in the west could have every sewage treatment plant providing green power instead my local plant just vents the methane free into the air where it is a potent greenhouse gas. Why is this? I think because it’s simpler to think centralised power and not thing distributed. The biggest criticism of solar and wind is that they are intermittent and yet we throw away methane as pollution when it could be reducing the fossil fuels burnt and be acting as a gap filler, every garbage tip, every sewerage treatment plant should be generating gas to fill in the gaps of made in our future wobbly base load. This is just one of many methods that we in the west should be ashamed of not utilising more (it is being used more often in Brisbane some of the local dumps have gas generators attached-not where I live though).

    We in the west need to work our way backwards using more efficient appliances buy solar PV cells when you fit an air conditioner for example, insulating homes and designing them to require little or no heating and cooling. All this can be done but and will actually save enormous money but as you correctly point out it does need to be forward paid to some extent. However forward paying is infinity better than what we are doing now, not paying at all for the damage CO2 is doing to the planet, that cost will be paid by future generations.



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  • @Melvin

    The power for each town and suburb should be produced as near as possible to the end use. Every roof with PV. A solar salt thermal plant just out of town. A wind farm on the nearest ridge and a piped natural gas or biogas backup generator to fill in the gaps. Long range power grids loose so much power, they are yesterdays solution. You still need smart grids and load sharing to get high level PV farms, hydro and wind farm power from more remote locations to end users. An excellent example is the borough of Woking in the UK.

    The city of Woking in the UK gives a good first template for future power generation.

    Next to the first fuel cell power station in Europe stands the only statue in Britain to Sir William Grove, a little known British physicist who invented what he called a liquid battery in 1839.

    The power station is one of the wonders of Woking in Surrey. Scattered across its borough are mini-power stations, district heating schemes and thousands of electricity-generating cells on roofs. This has made the borough a world leader in providing energy without relying on the national grid.

    The town centre, including the council offices and Holiday Inn, are entirely energy self-sufficient and surplus electricity is exported.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2004/jan/26/energy.renewableenergy

    Money. Cash. Economics. I hear this argument frequently. It will cost too much. Analyze the problem. Is it the type of problem where money is the major decider in the equation. When considering the potential impacts of global warming, and its potential catastrophic effects on humans, should we refuse to act because it costs too much.

    We have decided humanity can go extinct because it will cost too much to save us,” ;said the spokesman for the Republican party.

    Ethics? Morality? Global warming is a problem that just has to be solved, and cost is not an issue. This is not open to debate anymore. We must stop burning fossil fuels.

    And if you want to use money as part of the equation, we need to move the $90 billion dollars a year governments of the world pay in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, directly into building the PV on roofs, solar arrays and smart grids. You could even wire Africa for this much money and your could do it in ten years. Spend $90 billion a year for ten years. Why aren’t we acting.



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  • And if you want to use money as part of the equation, we need to move the $90 billion dollars a year governments of the world pay in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, directly into building the PV on roofs, solar arrays and smart grids. You could even wire Africa for this much money and your could do it in ten years. Spend $90 billion a year for ten years. Why aren’t we acting.

    agreed David,

    and while we’re at it we could stop spending Trillions of dollars sending people to the middle east to die in protection of oil interests. I’d be very interested to know if terrorism in the Middle East would be sustainable if the oil money was taken out of the equation. However, this is an area I admit I don’t know a great deal about. The sooner we gear up renewable battery technology (I suspect lithium may to too rare to meet our needs long term perhaps super caps – there are a few other technologies on the horizon that look good but not there yet) the better.



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  • Hydrogen production plays a very important role in the development of hydrogen economy.

    And the wonderful thing about burning hydrogen is that the by product is distilled water, which you can use again, and again….



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  • My thanks to all the tech-savvy comments, especially from Phil Rimmer. They add value to the conversation and I hope that many optimistic scenarios proposed herein materialize. From a layman’s view I’ve witnessed how fast technological innovations have changed our world in ways I could not have imagined when I thought I was living up-to the-minute each minute of my 70 years. I wish we all had enough time to see how things turn out.



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  • This is kind, Melvin. Thank you.

    The main reason I come here is to have my mind changed. It happens with satisfying regularity…

    The reason I am so glass-half-full about all this is that I have about four or five points of contact with the power industry (past and present) and I’ve met a lot of tech and business people in that time, who have convinced me that the bulk of the utilities and infrastructure people aren’t in the pockets of fossil, and that they are on the lookout for new solutions. So, just one annecdote to stand for many others.

    Between twelve or thirteen years ago I was over in Sonoma to meet with a CEO of a small power utility company (Definitely smaller than PG&E) at his charming ranch style homestead. I (we) had gone there to talk over the implications of creating HFAC Microgrids that spanned whole industrial/trading estates, if they were interested in owning that infrastructure and if not, how we could get a good deal on buying power given our ability to peak shave demand? Could we buy for instance using an algorithm based on supply frequency (much discussed at the time) where millihertz deviations below 60Hz indicated the amount of loading on their supply and the amount of “spinning reserve” (literally the kinetic energy in rotating machinery available for transient management)?

    Over an alfresco breakfast, I noticed a barn with a roof stuffed with solar PV, a very rare sight in those days on account of the cost. I challenged this and he told me that even so, if you could find the capital it represented even then a good enough rate of return, with a very high rate of reliability given the longevity of of the panels. This was the essential problem of grid infrastructure, expensive but able to deliver value over a very long period. He noted that Germany were set up to do this better. Their financial institutions were prepared to properly research investments and commit to tying capital up for longer. US institutions, in contrast, got nervous of long term commitments, mainly because they invested with more speed and less due dilligence and got higher failure rates, confirming their prejudice.

    We talked a lot of other interesting stuff over the day and into the evening including the low charge cost deals that might be struck in exchange for using electric vehicle energy storage to mediate the new challenges of supply and demand. (I’d one a vehicle charging system for a company supplying PSA-Peugeot and saw immediately it needed to be bi-directional.) But what happened after that convinced me he had spoken wisely.

    US/Californian solar panel makers boasting higher tech, better performance panels all went bust burning up huge amounts of investment capital in the gamble for an edge in the market. Germany, implemented the long term vision of a “million roofs” and pump-primed with feed in tarrifs and China bought up old manufacturing kit and increasingly fed that market getting to the needed cost point by the simple expedient of building volume.

    Pushing for/waiting for new tech is almost never the answer (and I speak as a technologist). Learning with what you’ve got, understanding your market and its needs and evolving technology if possible rather than innovating and launching onto an unsuspecting, unprepared market still allows you to be called leading edge. What it avoids is being “bleeding edge” (and, boy, have I been there!).



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  • phil rimmer Nov 15, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    There are also the very simple answers to reducing peak demand – such as using storage heaters and lagged hot water tanks, in off peak periods. Often notable by their absence in arguments about intermittent supplies from soar or wind generation.



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  • Melvin Nov 15, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    My thanks to all the tech-savvy comments, especially from Phil Rimmer. They add value to the conversation and I hope that many optimistic scenarios proposed herein materialize.

    You have added considerably to this discussion, by raising the issues and questions, which the dozy committee members shown on earlier links, should have been asking their expert advisers.

    Some of us have been trying to give to sort of answers and advice they should have been given.
    Rather than them wasting the advisers’ time trying to politely refute nonsense, they should have been planning to act on this advice!

    I wish we all had enough time to see how things turn out.

    Hydrogen gas generation is probably nearer than you think, so have a look at this discussion a see what you make of clean green motor transport!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/06/japan-plans-ample-support-for-fuel-cell-car-technology/
    The Japanese government is planning to offer ample support to popularize fuel cell vehicle technology as Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co prepare to launch hydrogen-powered cars in 2015.



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  • Meanwhile – back in the USA, the tar-brained “I’m Not a Scientist”s are trying to add to the pollution!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-30042845
    .The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

    The legislation will now be put to a vote in the Senate next week, where its prospects are unclear.

    The 875-mile (1,408km) pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the US state of Nebraska where it joins pipes running to Texas.

    President Barack Obama is said to take a “dim view” of the legislation, but has not directly threatened a veto.

    The project has pitted Republicans and other supporters, who say it will create much needed jobs, against many Democrats and environmentalists, who warn the pipeline will add to carbon emissions and contribute to global warming.

    . . . . . . .

    Speaking in Myanmar on Friday, Mr Obama said the full review of the project cannot be finished until the Nebraska lawsuit is resolved. “I don’t think we should short-circuit that process,” Mr Obama said. The president has previously threatened to veto similar bills.

    Another waste of money which could be better spent on new clean technologies.



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  • Interestingly the peaks can sometimes be very narrow indeed and whilst the rotational KE of “spinning reserve” can sometimes literally flywheel through these spiky demands, if the spikes extend past, say, sixteen seconds the 1.8GW pumped hydro plant Dinorwig (worth a visit!) in Snowdonia can kick in if the generators are spun up in anticipation.

    Smart heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, recharging and even lighting in non task areas can all be readilly dropped out or down a smidgen on command or with say a 50 millihertz drop in frequency. Commercial purchase of electricity can be got at discounts with a commitment to such a peak shaving use.

    Such transient supplementation of capacity or negative demand avoids keeping a station (or so many stations) running just in case, and its use applies equally well to transient dropouts from renewable sources. Smart loads, when universal, could transiently drop demand by 20% or more transforming the cost of reliable supply.



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  • Sorry. I think we’ve done Dinorwig in an earlier conversation, Alan.

    I have so few exchanges with you because I agree with just about everything you say and stuff I direct at you is mostly for the benefit of others looking on, because I know you know.

    I think the mods have taken a lot of the sociability out of this place with their keen OT policing.



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  • Alan, as an electrician, I have found that storage heaters are about as inefficient as they come and have even refused to get involved with them in the past because of their lack of usability. This has been purely on practical terms on site and I haven’t even bothered with keeping up with the technology. Are they any better now?



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  • Olgun Nov 16, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Alan, as an electrician, I have found that storage heaters are about as inefficient as they come and have even refused to get involved with them in the past because of their lack of usability.

    I agree that they are inefficient, but they could nevertheless be used throughout the night, in conditions where roof-top photovoltaic systems were operating in low temperatures, solar thermal was inappropriate, and wind intermittent.

    I would be thinking particularly of rural areas where the installation of heavy power-lines would be costly.

    There is also the larger scale ground heat storage system, where summer heat is captured and stored underground for winter use.



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  • phil rimmer Nov 16, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Sorry. I think we’ve done Dinorwig in an earlier conversation, Alan.

    We have, but it is worth repeating for others who did not see the earlier discussion.

    I think many of our “replies” to each other, are simply to add further information to a post.



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  • Pushing for/waiting for new tech is almost never the answer (and I speak as a technologist). Learning with what you’ve got, understanding your market and its needs and evolving technology if possible rather than innovating and launching onto an unsuspecting, unprepared market still allows you to be called leading edge. What it avoids is being “bleeding edge”

    Phil: Positively brilliant.

    Finally after making the case for solar power to proliferate exponentially based on on falling costs and soaring demand, the realistic potential for cutting carbon emissions over the next four decades can be persuasively made with reference to an economy of scale. The average Joseph and Mary will be relieved to hear that existing technology and financing, tweaked with government subsidies and longer-term paybacks, has the realistic potential to mitigate if not alleviate the threat.

    Every speech, every article, every book on the subject should bring this pragmatic agenda to the forefront. The public has become bored and frustrated with generic reiterations of climate science findings followed by denunciations of climate science deniers. What can lift spirits more than someone who says, “Here is the problem and now let me show you how it can be solved, at least in part, with what is already at hand?”

    Phil’s specific observation cited above, or its equivalent, however enhanced with rhetorical power, should be mandatory in any communication to a jaded public desperate for reassurance and direction. As the old movie cliche said, “Build it and they will come.”



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  • Every speech, every article, every book on the subject should bring this pragmatic agenda to the forefront. The public has become bored and frustrated with generic reiterations of climate science findings followed by denunciations of climate science deniers. What can lift spirits more than someone who says, “Here is the problem and now let me show you how it can be solved, at least in part, with what is already at hand?”

    Agreed, here in my city a few years back there was a proposal to put in water recycling due to an extended drought. I remember for the first time really feeling proud to live here because, a) I gave hope as you describe b) It showed an acceptance of the fact we are part of a water cycle and we should treat to sufficiently well that we would be prepared to drink it. Unfortunately there was a massive backlash and the federal government with-held funding unless we had a plebiscite which we lost due to ignorance and scare-mongering. But the feeling of hope was incredibly powerful and I wonder if we have gotten so cynical and jaded that we have forgotten how to believe in our futures.



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  • 113
    Martin says:

    Alan, “… Republicans and other supporters”

    “other supporters” are Democrats from oil producing states and Democratic constituencies like unions. Keystone will care N. Dakota oil, not just tar sands oil, and will reduce GHGs since pipelines are more efficient than rail and oil tanker transportation. A full review of the project has been completed for years.



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  • Too kind, Melvin.

    Glass-half-full has some power if it is based on confidence with the underlying maths and physics. As I said before my hero amongst inventors is not, for instance, James Watt, who powered the Industrial Revolution, but his business partner, Matthew Boulton, who found a way not to sell his expensive, unreliable steam engines but to simply sell the ability to do work. This genius wiped away fears of the responsibility of ownership and put science and technology to work doing other good things, like improving energy efficiency and reliability, rather than banging their heads against the wall of simply making engines cheaper.

    The lack of invention of business models based on a deep understanding of existing technology is the problem. In the US and UK the number of businesses having CEOs without science degrees is appallingly high (and the exceptions are notable). In the financial sector the situation is even worse. Gut feels and hunches fed off executive summaries from brighter underlings is still seen as the macho way… This is where innovation is needed.



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  • Martin Nov 17, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Keystone will care N. Dakota oil, not just tar sands oil, and will reduce GHGs since pipelines are more efficient than rail and oil tanker transportation. A full review of the project has been completed for years.

    Tar-sands are just about the least efficient, and most polluting type of oil extraction there is! This pipeline is going to take years to build, by which time something cleaner and better like solar-thermal hydrogen production in Texas or California, and hydrogen fuelled vehicles could have been set up using the same money.

    The world needs to move on beyond mindless CO2 pollution!



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  • 116
    Martin says:

    Alan, “Really?????????”

    Yes, really. How is your paper relevant at all? Documenting weather extremes doesn’t mean they are increasing, and that is not the paper’s conclusion.

    “survey results which show 3% of a 12,000+ sample of peer-reviewed climate science papers, reject the idea.”

    Sorry, there is no such survey of papers, only abstracts were surveyed and they were not surveyed for support of high climate projections.



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  • 117
    Martin says:

    Alan, ” This pipeline is going to take years to build, by which time
    something cleaner and better like solar-thermal hydrogen production in
    Texas or California, and hydrogen fuelled vehicles could have been set
    up using the same money.”

    A pipeline is a proven economic benefit. If you are right, that other technology should be able to attract other money on its merits.



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  • Martin Nov 18, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Yes, really. How is your paper relevant at all? Documenting weather extremes doesn’t mean they are increasing,

    It illustrates some of the measuring techniques used to provide evidence.

    The unsupported assertion of a lack of evidence is yours!

    Sorry, there is no such survey of papers, only abstracts were surveyed and they were not surveyed for support of high climate projections.

    This is a red-herring simply sowing seeds of doubt on valid claims!
    You are confusing general projections with specific models.
    In the survey, the papers’ authors were also contacted to confirm their views so they are not in doubt.
    To survey 12,000+ papers when all but a handful point in the same direction, would be a pointlessly onerous task to simply confirm the obvious!

    The problem is not the “lack of evidence” you claim, but the sheer volume of evidence coming in from expert sources, which means that summaries are needed to concisely cover the range of studies!

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2014/uk-storms-and-floods
    This series of winter storms has been exceptional in its duration, and has led to the wettest December to January period in the UK since records began. Heavy rains combined with strong winds and high waves led to widespread flooding and coastal damage, causing significant disruption to individuals, businesses and infrastructure.

    The severe weather in the UK coincided with exceptionally cold weather in Canada and the USA. These extreme weather events* on both sides of the Atlantic were linked to a persistent pattern of perturbations to the jet stream, over the Pacific Ocean and North America.

    Uncertainty in aerosol forcing is the dominant contribution to the ECS and TCR uncertainty ranges.

    As I stated earlier – What this says is that suphate aerosols (well understood as causing global dimming) cause uncertainties.

    As sulphate aerosols and the consequential global or local dimming, causes COOLING, the uncertainties are about how much more warming would have been measured but for this industrial pollution (mainly in the far east) blocking off sunlight in the atmosphere and locally reducing temperatures.

    http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
    “Taken as a whole,” the IPCC states, “the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”

    Below are some of the impacts that are currently visible throughout the U.S. and will continue to affect these regions, according to the Third National Climate Assessment Report 2, released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program:

    Northeast. Heat waves, heavy downpours, and sea level rise pose growing challenges to many aspects of life in the Northeast. Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised.
    Many states and cities are beginning to incorporate climate change into their planning.

    Northwest. Changes in the timing of streamflow reduce water supplies for competing demands. Sea level rise, erosion, inundation, risks to infrastructure, and increasing ocean acidity pose major threats. Increasing wildfire, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases are causing widespread tree die-off.

    Southeast. Sea level rise poses widespread and continuing threats to the region’s economy and environment. Extreme heat will affect health, energy, agriculture, and more. Decreased water availability will have economic and environmental impacts.

    Midwest. Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes.

    Southwest. Increased heat, drought, and insect outbreaks, all linked to climate change, have increased wildfires. Declining water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, health impacts in cities due to heat, and flooding and erosion in coastal areas are additional concerns.



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  • From experience (and with some notable exceptions) the quality of American investments is poor, either deeply conservative or wildly risky, both resulting from very low levels of due diligence, which are a slog.

    Like the evolution of animals etc. which process is only as good as it need be, the market will always be merely adequate if left unattended. The aversion to due diligence in the market (it really is an unglamorous slog) or the attraction to invest-from-the-hip adds to the euphoric aspect to investment decision making. Having the “touch” is the fantasy here.

    They used to say decades ago, no-one was fired for ordering IBM computers. Well no more. The received wisdom to invest in oil will change too, but in the US a generation too late. Fickle, quick hit returns requirements did for the innovative US solar panel industry. If they had lasted with patient and informed investment whilst brute force and ignorance Chinese market building happened, it could have now been in place to clean up.

    US innovation is going the way of UK innovation. We are both hugely innovative cultures, but somehow the money never has the staying power and the markets made are scooped up with increasing rapidity by Pacific Rim economies and the like.

    Relying on other investers to make the insightful quality decisions about technical matters is currently poor advice to give a punter. Low intelligence creatures use shoalling behaviours to protect their asses. It is a zero sum strategy to not lose. Smart, dilligent investers trick new wealth for themselves out of circumstance and to the benefit of all.



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  • Martin Nov 18, 2014 at 8:07 am

    A pipeline is a proven economic benefit.

    This one certainly is not when the environmental costs are included in the figures.

    The costs, and potential costs, of damage to the planet, agriculture, and coastal property is thousands of times any profit which oil companies might make for themselves.



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  • Martin Nov 18, 2014 at 8:07 am

    A pipeline is a proven economic benefit.

    Apparently some business savvy large and ethical investors disagree!

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/22/rockefeller-heirs-divest-fossil-fuels-climate-change
    Heirs to Standard Oil fortune join campaign that will withdraw a total of $50bn from fossil fuels, including from tar sands funds.

    If you are right, that other technology should be able to attract other money on its merits.

    I understand they are going to invest the money from the sales in green technologies!



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