Energy-water nexus

by Judith Curry

Producing energy uses water, and providing freshwater uses energy. Both these processes face growing limits and problems. In most power plants, water cools the steam that spins the electricity-generating turbines. Refining transportation fuels requires water, as does producing fuels—for example, mining coal, extracting petroleum, or growing crops for biofuels. Using water in our homes and businesses requires getting it there, treating it, heating it, and more.

The Union for Concerned Scientists has produced a new article:

Energy-Water Collision:  10 things you should know

The 10 things are:

  1. Keeping the U.S. power on each day requires more water than 140 New York Cities.
  2. In the southeastern U.S., power plants account for two-thirds of all withdrawals of freshwater
  3. Water discharged from a coal or nuclear plant is hotter–by an avrage of 17F in summer–than when it entered the plant.
  4. Water troubles can shut down power plants
  5. Clea energy can mean low carbon and low water — or not.
  6. Powering your car with ethanol may use dozens of gallons of water per mile.
  7. California uses 19% of its electricity and 32% of its natural gas for water
  8. Water supply conflicts are growing across the U.S.
  9. As climate changes, so does the water cycle.
  10. We have many tools at hand.

Read the whole paper, it isn’t long.  From the last point We have many tools at hand:

No-water energy: Using technologies such as wind and photovoltaics means doing away entirely with water use for electricity production. Reducing the need for generating the electric- ity or transportation fuels in the first place—through more-efficient ap- pliances, buildings, and vehicles, for example—not only saves money and reduces heat-trapping gases and other pollutants, but also eliminates the corresponding water use.

Low-water energy: Shifting old coal or nuclear plants using once-through cooling to more-water-efficient closed- loop cooling technologies would increase water consumption, potentially even doubling it, but would reduce water withdrawals by two orders of magnitude. Dry- and hybrid cooling options help address water consumption. Such technologies could be particularly important in water- constrained regions. Such cooling technologies would, however, reduce power plant efficiency and increase their costs—and, in the case of fossil- fuel-fired plants, do nothing to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases.  

Several steps can be taken to reduce the water demand of some renewable energy options. CSP plants, for example, which are ideally sited in some of the country’s sunniest—and driest—locations, are increasingly turning to dry cooling, despite the higher costs. For biofuels, minimizing reliance on irrigation and switching to low-water perennial crops—or even to waste from cities, farms, and forests—could make it possible to lower the water requirements of biofuel production and reduce heat- trapping emissions.

Given the many connections be- tween energy and water, the choices we make in the near future about how we produce and use energy will determine not only the extent to which we mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, but also how resilient our energy system is to the variability of our water resources and the many competing demands for it. Smart choices now will mean lower risks, greater energy security, and strong environmental and economic benefits.

Other Resources

Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants: Electricity’s Thirst for a Precious Resource (Union of Concerned Scientists)

Energy Demands on Water Resources: Report to Congress on the Interdependency of Energy and Water (US DOE)

Estimating Freshwater Needs to Meet 2025 Electricity Generating Capacity Forecasts (U.S. Department of Energy)

Many Uncertainties Remain about National and Regional Effects of Increased Biofuel Production on Water Resources (U.S. GAO)

JC Comment:  The energy-water nexus seems to me to be an under appreciated policy issue, that is of looming importance in many regions, both in developed and developing regions.  In most regions, population increase and economic development are arguably placing greater pressure on water resources  for energy than climate change (natural and/or anthropogenic).

236 responses to “Energy-water nexus

  1. Heat pipes using various sorts of Freon or ammonia are efficient movers of heat. Don’t know enough to know if could be used to conserve water though.

  2. This is a completely solvable problem. Look to the Middle East. The Arab oil states use cogeneration to desalinate through multiple effect evaporation. The Israelis use a lot of reverse osmosis. Yes, it uses energy. Get over it.

  3. These processes do not consume water, they use water. That is an important difference. Regional water availability issues have been, and will continue to be an issue but we are no more running out of water now than we ever have been. The cost of water nearly everywhere in this country is still dominated by the cost to move it and/or purify it. Scarcity is seldom a factor in most of the USA. The Southwest perhaps being a notable exception.

  4. Given the many connections be- tween energy and water, the choices we make in the near future about how we produce and use energy will determine not only the extent to which we mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, but also how resilient our energy system is to the variability of our water resources and the many competing demands for it.

    Who’s this “we” they keep talking about?

  5. non sequiters galore. Just because something “uses water” doesn’t mean the water is “lost”. Generating plants can use cooling water, and that same water can be used for irrigation and municipal water plants downstream.

    I suspect this a “framing” exercise resulting from the fact that the standard catastrophism isn’t working any more.

    I note they ignore hydroelectric as a renewable, which I guess isn’t “green” enough—more likely, it’s too efficient and gives people too much electricity to “waste”, thus not satisfying the neo-puritanical need to alter people’s lifestyle.

    • Yeah, the “water shortage threat” is the next one on the list.

      This has already been brought up at some of the big AGW meetings – there were booths and signs at the Cancun meeting last year about it, and a few speakers were Very Concerned about the water problem.

      It’s true – a lot of places have severe fresh water shortages, in that they have either very little fresh water, or very little clean fresh water (like most of the Indian subcontinent, or any city downstream from a Chinese industrial city).

      By pretending that all power plants “use up” fresh water, they have a little more leverage for that “climate justice” thing they’ve been working up.

      I’m betting on “resource justice” by this time next year. There was already a bit of that at the Durban meeting. We’ll be seeing things like posters saying “Americans use more fresh water than anyone else on the planet,” with no mention on how that fresh water is supposed to get to the rest of the thirsty folks.

      (Of course, this is ignoring the fact that well-used energy generation can be used for desalination or purification.)

      • Start worrying when the talk is of ‘energy footprint’ rather than ‘carbon footprint’.
        ============

      • And when the talk’s of the water footprint, watch out for the Loch Ness monster.

      • Here be hippogryphs.
        ======

      • randomengineer

        I’m betting on “resource justice” by this time next year.

        Correct. There has already been plenty of scaremongering on the part of the eco-goons regarding predicted upcoming water wars here on this very blog. This is merely one brick in the “scientific” underpinnings.

    • I note they ignore hydroelectric as a renewable, which I guess isn’t “green” enough

      Think about what you just wrote in the context of the post. Places that have enough water for hydroelectric power typically don’t have a problem with water availability.

      • randomengineer

        Not true. Hetch hetchy diverts plentiful water. Lots of water diverted to LA lawncare that could be making electricity.

      • That’s not the point he was making. Mexico doesn’t get any of the water from the Colorado River either, as it is almost sucked dry by that point. The Mexicans can’t use the river for water or for energy! What a deal!

      • You’d think but you’d be wrong. Grand Coulee and Hoover dams are in deserts, and it’s cost prohibitive to pump water any more than a few miles. It’s almost always cheaper to sink a well. The interesting question is, does drawing groundwater rob from the nearby river? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. That what hydrologists get paid for.

        Often it matters legally. Counties around Seattle use water rights as a tool to direct growth. They only issue water rights in areas where they think growth should occur in the land of perpetual rain and infinite water.

      • Places that have enough water hydroelectric power typically don’t have a problem with water availability

        I’ll try to remember that next time we have a ‘lawn watering ban’ in the Seattle area.
        Water availability problems can be lack of water or they can be lack of adequate water infrastructure or endangered species in rivers that can only survive within a narrow river water flow rate and temperature.

      • The watering bans happen when there’s an El Nino. I hope there are going to be more of them. Right now, in this permanent La Nina, BPA literally has more water than they can handle, and are gutting wind generators off because there’s a power glut.

      • The watering bans happen when there’s an El Nino. I hope there are going to be more of them.

        Here is a bit of insight that comes out of looking at the data. Due to warming, what was yesteryear’s El Nino has turned into a yearly occurrence. What happens now? Is there a permanent seasonal watering ban, almost like a annual hunting and fishing season?

        Have we hit the point that a present day La Nina is actually statistically warmer than a past El Nino?

      • Have we hit the point that a present day La Nina is actually statistically warmer than a past El Nino?

        Oh yes.

        This La Nina year is warmer than every year (El Nino years included) from 1880-1997.

      • Thanks, that was just the graphic I was thinking about.

    • In fact the cooling water can be reused for cooling the same plant repeatedly. The system of closed coolant is used in most liquid-cooled automotive engines now – that radiator in front of the engine y’know. All the plant needs is a closed cooling water cycle.

  6. http://www.npr.org/2011/04/11/135241362/the-worldwide-thirst-for-clean-drinking-water

    Viva Las Vegas

    In The Big Thirst, Fishman examines different areas of the world already grappling with water shortages. He profiles parts of Delhi, India, where people line up twice a day with buckets for clean water, and Las Vegas — which, despite having all forms of water entertainment for visitors, is currently dealing with one of the biggest water shortages in the nation.

    “Thirty years ago, Las Vegas was run much the way every other city in America was run — people watered their lawns whenever they wanted [and] they washed their cars whenever they wanted,” Fishman says. “But then a woman [Patricia Mulroy] became the head of water [management] in Las Vegas, and she looked at the pace of growth of the city … and she started working on rules that would, over time, change the culture in Las Vegas.”

    Las Vegas now pays residents $40,000 an acre to take out their lawns and replace them with rocks and native plants. That’s much cheaper, Fishman says, than figuring out how to pump more water into the city, which takes 90 percent of its water from a lake plagued with drought issues. And, he says, by implementing stringent water usage rules — it’s illegal in Las Vegas to spray a sidewalk with a sprinkler, for instance — the city has saved millions, both in dollars and in gallons.

    “Las Vegas, over time, has come to recapture almost all of the water used anywhere [in the city] indoors,” he says. “Although Las Vegas has what was, for a long time, the largest fountain on Earth and shark aquariums and lagoons that re-create the canals of Venice right on the strip, over the last 20 years, per-person water use in Vegas has fallen 100 gallons.”

    The city’s public golf courses have also cut their water usage. Angel Park, which used to use almost 2 million gallons of water a night, has cut its water usage in half over the past 15 years.

    “They have pulled out a third of the turf in the golf course,” Fishman says. “You now tee off from a grassy green and your ball heads for a hole that is a grassy green, but in between [are] dessert ravines and arroyos landscaped as desert landscape. And that’s all different than the desert used to be. … They’ve gone from using more than 600 million gallons of water a year down to about 376 million gallons of water a year.”

    The Private Sector

    But cities with water shortages aren’t the only places looking to conserve water, Fishman says. Both IBM and GE have recently reconfigured their facilities to reduce their water use and save money, he says.

    “Over 10 years, [IBM] reduced their water use by a third while they increased their chip production by a third,” he says. “So they increased the efficiency of their water productivity by about 80 percent.” ….

    • randomengineer

      Have them wear stillsuits. Worked for arrakis. Serves them right for thinking they could just live in a desert.

      Most of the san joaquin water is diverted to LA for the same problem. It’s been a central valley sore topic since at least the 60’s.

    • Las Vegas is a desert. The water from Lake Mead comes from a long way off and is constantly being fought over by the major cities in Arizona, southern Nevada (especially Las Vegas) and Southern California. In short, Las Vegas is still a desert. There is no “shortage” of water; there was never enough water to rationalize the construction of a city on the scale Las Vegas to begin with. No “shortage,” merely an excess of development.

  7. “Powering your car with ethanol may use dozens of gallons of water per mile.”
    Heating your home with wood consumes 200L of water per kg of wood. However, so does any unused wood left to rot. Trees, like all plants, consume rain.
    Most of these points are just stupid. Hard to believe there are scientists at UCS.

    • Just checking – was this a serious comment?

      If I chop down a tree in my backyard and burn 10 kgs of that wood in my wood stove, I won’t utilize 2,000 L’s of water during that process. This is in comparison to the amount of water freshwater that needs to be supplied in the process of producing ethanol.

      • It is not the amount of water supplied that matters. It is the cost to heat it and move it to where it needs to be that makes ethanol a stupid proposition. Come and see the coal pile next to the ethanol plant in South Bend some time. I thought it was hilarious, in a sad and pathetic sort of way, the first time I saw it.

      • The extent to which increased biofuels production will affect the nation’s water resources depends on the type of feedstock selected and how and where it is grown. For example, to the extent that this increase is met from the cultivation of conventional feedstocks, such as corn, it could have greater water resource impacts than if the increase is met by next generation feedstocks, such as perennial grasses and woody biomass, according to experts and officials. This is because corn is a relatively resource-intensive crop, and in certain parts of the country requires considerable irrigated water as well as fertilizer and pesticide application.

    • randomengineer

      UCS is eco-advocacy nonsense supreme, and it’s irresponsible as hell for Dr Curry to give these imbeciles the imprimatuer of legitimacy by being featured here.

      Oh wait. I just pulled a Tol.

      Problem here is that I’m right. Nobody outside the far left eco-loon squad seems to think much of UCS.

    • Martha's conscience

      I agree with Eric. Most of this is stupid. The “energy-water nexus” is a fundamental issue for every urban area. This is nothing new. This is fundamental to urban planning since the first cities.

    • To nobody in particular: Where does consumed water go? Does it leave the system or what? Might you mean water is modified in some way that makes it less or unsuitable for some purposes?

      Some years ago there was a big stink about a water bottling operation in Fiji. The complaints ranged to waste of water to all the usual green issues with putting anything in a bottle. Lost in the discussion is that all water on an island that does not evaporate away goes into the ocean. Secondly – if the Fijians were not bottling water they would have to earn a livlihood by other means. On an island that often means fishing or plundering natural resources to make ukuleles or some such thing.

      Better, do you not think, to bring in off-shore materials, fill them with the one renewable abundance they have been gifted, and send it back off shore than the convert those beautiful islands to treeless goat farms?

      I live in Washington State. The amount of water that falls in the Pacific Northwet that ends up in the ocean is beyond imagination. We don’t have a water suppy problem – we have a water usage concept problem.

      More evidence our science is not solution-oriented.

      • On an island that often means fishing or plundering natural resources to make ukuleles or some such thing.

        Wow!

  8. The great thing about water is that once you use it, you can use it again. It doesn’t just disappear.

  9. Does anyone remember the VW Beatle with its 45 hp 4 cylinder air cooled engine? Why we don’t see air cooled engines on cars any more is that they don’t retain enough heat to combust efficiently. The old VW Beatle couldn’t meet modern emissions requirements. The relocated & locally manufactured VW Beatle in Mexico City contributed to most of that city’s air pollution. Air cooling in a hot climate is a very expensive proposition and succumbs to the laws of diminishing returns, requiring more energy to cool than to produce whatever you might want to do (10% more energy and 10% larger equipment for each increased degree of ambient temperature). Water is recyclable and for power plants, requires land, or in this case, lagoons to discharge the 17 degree F heated water to cool in a large pond, and the evaporated water needs to be restored or recovered. Discharge of 17 F water into large bodies (Great Lakes or Oceans) encourages growth of fish as the food chain is prolonged through the winter. However, anyone sitting in a bathtub realizes that the bath water cools pretty quickly so the benefits of warmer water on the wildlife is circumscribed. To my way of thinking, recycling of water, as opposed to discharging water, makes most sense. Air cooling, except where the ambient temperature is already very cold, doesn’t make sense for industrial purposes. If we do get global warming and an increase in water content of the atmosphere, then the water cycle will speed up and sprinkle its blessings in more and far reaches of the world. Then we will have water to….burn?

  10. “As climate changes, so does the water cycle. ”

    Just another topic to build the “assumption close” that it relates to climate change with a AGW aspects hardwired in the narrative.

    Many communities in the U.S. do all they can to limit water access and improvements to slow development. It’s another eco-political tool issue that can be quite bi-partisan at the local levels, use water to tax (extort), “manage growth” (toll collections) etc. As a real eco-issue, technology or resource problem, it’s nonsense (just like so many others I can think of).

    Imagine the Pilgrims looking from their boats at the new land for the first time, with these attitudes on display they would have considered how tough it was going to be and would have turned back. We move from one defeatist if not imaginary “problem” to the next. The first solution in most cases is eliminating or limiting government mediation and the rent seeking expert class who usually are obstructionists to positive growth.

    As with energy, water is another issue dominated doomers and the eco-left cartel among others. Eliminate them and the problems become and opportunity. Sure you can find “no-growthers, same as last year” of all political stripes in water rationing as well.

  11. This paper merges the climate and constrained resources issues comprehensively:
    “The influence of constrained fossil fuel emissions scenarios on climate and water resource projections”

    “The biggest threat to the world’s freshwater supplies may not be from climate change at all, but rather from a chronic shortage of energy for pumping and treating water, as well as for building and maintaining crucial storage and distribution infrastructure.”

    The authors are from Australia.

    • That’s because Australia bans the use of nuclear generation. With nuclear generation, located on the coast, we’d not need fresh water for cooling and we could power desalination plants. If we allowed nuclear to be cheap, we could have cheap power and cheap water.

      Fifty years of anti-nuclear porpoganda has scared the pants off the population and the politicians, so any attempt to build nuclear in Australia at the moment would vost twice as much as in the USA which is twice the cost of the same plant in Korea.

    • There will be no shortage of energy (for water supply or anything else) if the greens don’t block energy production

  12. Water does not get ‘used up’. It gets used and returned to the system. It can be used in better ways, so all discussion of water usage must be constrained to how a particular use affects the water cycle — what happens to the water after it has been temporarily borrowed for the usage. For instance, power plants either put the water into the air as steam or back into the river as waste water.
    Returning water ‘hot’ is just wasting energy that could have, and should have, been recovered.
    This bit ‘In the southeastern U.S., power plants account for two-thirds of all withdrawals of freshwater’ is misleading. Except for Florida, southeastern states generally do not have fresh water shortages, they generally have too much fresh water (flooding).
    In our small Upstate NY village, local enviro’s raise a fuss about ‘wasting water’ — oblivious to the fact that our village water comes from a small stream which passes through reservoir running over a low dam, and flows down into the Hudson River. Water used in homes goes down the pipes to the waste water treatment plant, that empties into the Hudson River. Virtually none of it is actually used in a way that prevents it from returning almost immediately to the normal water cycle.
    Of course, building cities in the desert (LA, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, etc) is a silly thing to do and creates problems. Moving millions of people to a sand bar barely above sea level (Florida) is equally silly.

    • Returning water ‘hot’ is just wasting energy that could have, and should have, been recovered.

      Review your thermo. No cookie.

    • Kip noted, ‘In the southeastern U.S., power plants account for two-thirds of all withdrawals of freshwater’ is misleading. Except for Florida, southeastern states generally do not have fresh water shortages, they generally have too much fresh water (flooding).

      Very true. If you pull cooling water from a river and return it to the river, net zero water waste. Tampa Bay though has been trying a few things that are interesting. They have a waste water treatment plant with a capacity of 96Mgpd that is used for irrigation and power plant cooling water when there is demand. The rest though is dumped in the bay. Infrastructure planning could reduce most of the waste.

      Tampa Bay also has a 25Mgpd desal plant that only took tens year and a few dozen law suits to complete :)

      • Actually, the southeastern U.S. does have a major water problem, particularly Geogia, Eastern Alabama, and North Florida. The tri-state water wars over the Appalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basins is a big deal here, for background see http://www.southernenvironment.org/cases/tri_state_water_wars_al_ga_fl

        During the 2007/2008 drought, there was the very real prospect of Atlanta running out of water.

      • Judith Curry

        With all due respect, the issue of drinking water shortage (SE USA or anywhere else) has little to do with water cycled through a power plant to produce or condense steam, as UCS would have us believe..

        Any water used in this manner goes back into the environment where it came from.

        Water used for agricultural irrigation (California central valley, for example) is a different story, since this directly subtracts from the amount available as drinking water for large urban centers, such as LA.

        The UCS is bamboozling us, Judith.

        Max

      • Not entirely. Water evaporated from cooling towers is lost to the water supply. In the SE U.S., water cannot be used upstream in Atlanta, because adequate flow needs to be maintained downstream for the power plants in Alabama.

      • That’s true. It doesn’t change the net though returning cooling water to the rivers. As long as the temperature is reduced enough to not impact fish and cause algae. Waste water use or return is the big deal IMO. UofF has a great deal of research on controlling storm water runoff and waste water so that it can recharge shallow water lenses. Lots of sand in Florida.

        The Tri-state is a different issue, but same type of approach should help. I was hoping that more of the stimulus money would have gone to infrastructure and wet land reclamation. Atlanta must have a few million gallons per day that could be treated with environmental filtration, which is basically an artificial ecosystem for final treatment of properly treated waste water.

        I think it was BillC that mentioned hormones and medications in treated waste water? There is always rabbit food (Rabett food for thought?)
        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101093604.htm The ecosystem filtration does the same thing and a bit more. Makes neat parks and green space also :)

      • Some day during a storm a tree will fall on a house killing someone. Should we give up our sovereignty or even local rights to solve a problem like that?

        It might take some regional cooperation but the Atlanta doesn’t need central planning or “we” to solve water their issues. It’s amazing trhat something this trivial still inspires the usual suspects on this board to to look to seize would-be state authority. It only further confirms claims regarding the eco-authoritarian culture which worships AGW and translates to almost any topic.

      • I found a winery ecowaste treatment from California, http://www.carol-steinfeld.com/LA-Ecowastewater.pdf

        U of F has a stormwater ecological enhancement project (SEEP) http://natl.ifas.ufl.edu/seepgall.htm

        Of course, it could cause water vapor feedback :)

        http://judithcurry.com/2011/09/24/water-vapor-feedback-evaporation/

        Wouldn’t want to have that :)

      • Dr. Curry, I did except Florida. I was unaware of the concerns for Atlanta though. When I was there in 1996, there was no concern. In truth, having read the link, this is really an infrastructure problem, with Atlanta’s dream of becoming a mega-city, and drawing its water from a single source (more or less). Mega-cities require extensive distant dedicated water reservoirs such as those for Los Angeles and New York City, to guarantee a dependable drinking water supply. If Atlanta wants to grow, it has to add more costly infrastructure. The 07/08 drought was the wake-up call.

      • Cwon, If you were talking about me, I would rather see 105million go to a local infrastructure project than to help 317 US employees lose 89million a year making batteries for cars that aren’t selling. How much did that California solar company lose? Oh wait, the smart grid will save us! Maybe the high speed rail? Actually, a direct high speed rail from Hotlanta to Orlando extending the Appalachian trail through the Florida trail might have a lot of tourista riders. Nah, shove it through Jacksonville and Savannah where all the locals are just dying for mass transit. We can put wetlands and watersheds issues on the back burner until those stellar ideas pay benefits.

      • Unlike most cities in the USA, Atlanta is built near a height of land, not on a big river. Consider moving it?

      • In the big scheme of things, vaporization losses from cooling towers are not a lsignificant water demand. That’s a big red herring. You may have an issue with disposal of blowdown water with concentrated minerals, but “zero discharge” technology has been around for decades, and lots of SE power plants, particularly in FL, produce dry salt and no liquid waste from their cooling towers.

      • In the big scheme of things, vaporization losses from cooling towers are not a lsignificant water demand. That’s a big red herring.

        This is why fake expertise is so much more useful to a climate denier than real expertise. Real expertise is slow and painful to acquire, and usually is applicable only along a narrow range of topics. Fake expertise, on the other hand, goes with everything. You become an expert in physics, biology, ecology, economics, archeology — even water management!

      • Thanks Robert! The brilliance of your argument changed my mind.

      • Best use of hot cooling water from a power plant is the Dickerson white water course for kayak training

        In the 1960s, local canoe and kayak paddlers began conducting winter practice in the heated Potomac River water immediately below the discharge channel. Nearly three decades went by before paddler Scott Wilkinson got the idea of moving the practice up into the concrete-lined channel itself. In 1991, he sold his idea to two of the power plant managers, and, in support of the 1992 Olympics team, the Potomac Electric Power Company, Pepco, which owned the plant at the time, approved the insertion of approximately 75 artificial concrete boulders and two wing dams into the channel.

  13. One of the neglected water requirements for solar panels is in cleaning away the dust that collects, and which otherwise reduces efficiency. Because of the need not to scratch the surface relatively low pressure washing is used, and in Egypt, for example, they have found it necessary to do this every day. (From yesterday’s Guardian

    Keeping them clean is the main challenge, he adds. “Due to the dusty conditions, we are witnessing about 2% degradation every day in performance, so we need to clean them daily. We use about 39 cubic metres of demineralised water each day for cleaning across the whole site.” . . . . . .”Dry cleaning” technologies are being developed, but they reduce the generating efficiency at the plant. Either way, the super-heated transfer fluid requires cooling before it can loop back to the troughs for re-use, and, as with cleaning, water is the cheapest and easiest way to do this. Until “dry cooling” technologies are further advanced, it could limit solar farms to the desert fringes close to large bodies of water.

    .

    • Oops.

      Looks like our concerned scientists blew that one:

      No-water energy: Using technologies such as wind and photovoltaics means doing away entirely with water use for electricity production.

    • It appears that the DoE report prepared by Sandia blew that, too:

      Other Renewables – Solar photovoltaics and wind require no water during normal operation.

      If they’re trying to say that routine cleaning isn’t part of “normal operation”, they’re being disingenuous.

  14. Professor Curry,

    Thanks for this report from the Union for Concerned Scientists.

    Regretfully the AGW scandal has destroyed credibility in organizations like Greenpeace and the Union for Concerned Scientists – both organizations that I once supported.

    I do not know how to solve the current sad state of affairs for the scientific community and their political allies.

    Is there a way to reduce the arrogance [enhance humility; decrease pride] of politicians and scientists so they could once again serve society?

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    http://www.omatumr.com/

  15. Seems to me it’s difficult to separate truth from politically driven propaganda when dealing with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    Power plants historically have used once-through cooling which can heat-up parts of a river or lake, but most of the water goes back to where it came from. Along comes environmental zealots and severe restrictions are placed on such cooling methods, generally now requiring the use of cooling towers on all new power plants. That uses vast amounts of water that is effectively lost into the air (evaporation is the primary cooling method). The cure may be worse than the disease.

    The push (including the Union of Concerned Scientists) is now to back fit older power plants (including nuclear units) that use once thru cooling with cooling towers. What is actually driving this: “environmental concern” or a desire to shut down nuclear (and coal) plants? I’ll save you the mental effort, it’s the later.

    You can use air cooled condensers at power plants using steam turbines (the bulk of the fleet), but the plant’s efficiency plumments. That requires more fuel and yep, you guessed it more CO2 is emitted while less power is generated. That deficit needs to be covered with more power plants using more fuel, more water and more emissions.

    Water issues can be dealt with from a technical & economic standpoint, unless the actual agenda is to get rid of fossil and nuclear power plants. That does indeed seem to be the case with the Union of Concerned Scientists and many in the environmental community, thus there is no chance of carrying out a rationale discussion to workout a reasonable solution.

    • I don’t think it’s any secret that they were always a hard left group. They were hard core anti-nuke in the ’60s. Moving on to the rest of the green agenda is only natural. They’re also hard core against GM crops. Luddites in lab coats.

  16. Yet another way to induce guilt among the masses. First the air we exhale, now the water we drink.

    A guilty conscience is an easy to control conscience — just ask any church.

  17. Senate Testimony on the Energy Water Nexus

    3/10 testimony to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources United States Senate by Professor Michael Webber, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Director, Center for International Energy & Environmental Policy at The University of Texas at Austin. . .
    Dr. Webber explains the intricate and increasingly vital links between energy and water, both in the United States, and the world.

  18. Reminds me of that 007 movie, everybody is misdirected to believe it’s about the stinkin’ oil, meanwhile back at the ranch….

  19. Availability of clean water is important. I collect and purify rainwater with simple cheap equipment.

    • I have used collected rainwater exclusively for household use for 23 years and many of those years were drought years.

      We also collect rainwater in a separate, fully sealed, food grade 1500 litre plastic tank which serves all our drinking needs.

      Our garden has been watered by windmill from a soak which is fed only from annual rainfall cycles for the same period.

      What is my point? Simply collect more of the rainwater that runs off into the rivers and the ocean through storm water drains everywhere.

  20. For $68 billion capital expenditure over a decade we could have 19 GW of nuclear (like UAE [1]) or 7.5 GW of solar thermal like Tonopah, USA [2], [3].

    For a comparison of these see: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/#comment-145640
    The relevant conclusions to this discussion are:
    • Nuclear would generate four times as much electricity per year
    • Solar thermal would need 50 million m3 of water in the deserts; nuclear would need little fresh water and none for cooling
    • Solar thermal would need 20 times more land area
    • Solar thermal would need about ten times as much material (steel, concrete, etc.) per MWh generated.

    [1] http://djysrv.blogspot.com/2009/12/south-korea-wins-uae-204-billion.html
    [2] http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=60
    [3] https://lpo.energy.gov/?projects=solarreserve-llc-crescent-dunes

    • Better to price carbon appropriately, remove market distortions like subsidized water, and make the regulatory environment a clear, simple, and quick as possible.

      Then different investors in power generation (as well as conservation, transmission, etc.) can compete for investment.

      That will work better than trying to identify winners ahead of time.

      • Robert,

        I agree with you completely. I’ve been saying just that for years. I was not tying to imply we should subsidise. I was trying to show that nuclear is superior to renewables in the issues people are concerned about, including water use. I’ve written previously on what we’d need to do to remove all the impediments that are preventing a level playing field for electricity generation, transmission and distribution.

      • I was trying to show that nuclear is superior to renewables in the issues people are concerned about, including water use.

        I am not quite as optimistic, but I think the problems of burning fossil fuels dwarf the problems of all alternative forms of energy generation. So in my personal view, give me a level playing field, and I don’t care. We can have nuclear plants every other block. We can erect wind turbines visible from every beach. We can wreck the precious desert ecosystem with square miles worth of solar panels.

        Halting the buildup of greenhouse gases is, to me, an issue of human survival. I’m open to all roads that lead to that goal.

      • Robert,

        “Halting the buildup of greenhouse gases is, to me, an issue of human survival. I’m open to all roads that lead to that goal.”

        If that is your belief then I suggest you should do all you can to explain the facts – like the comparison I gave above (check the links for more explanation) – to those of like mind.

        I am not yet persuaded that GHG emissions or indeed a small increase in mean global temperature is a big problem. Therefore, my concerns are:

        1. energy security
        2. energy reliability
        3. energy quality (voltage and frequency)
        4. low cost energy
        5. health consequences of energy production distribution and use

        Therefore, for us both to be satisfied we need energy supply that meets my requirements and yours (low GHG emissions).

        To do that we need to remove the impediments that are making low emissions electricity generation higher cost than fossil fuels. What that really means is remove the impediments to low cost nuclear.

  21. Judith,

    There is far more ways to create power than most people know.
    I have personally met a person who was using atmospheric pressure to generate power.
    Inversion technology has never been looked at which harnesses by the individual energy than by the current design of bulk.

    One huge resource NEVER been tapped into or looked at is ocean pressure. This is a vast amount of stored energy there as well.

  22. 1.Keeping the U.S. power on each day requires more water than 140 New York Cities.

    Do you not use cooling towers in the US? I suspect that the above statement is wrong in that it doesn`t take in to account closed circuit cooling water. A certain amount may go through the pumping station daily, but it is recirculated, not constatntly abstracted from the local source.

  23. The Union of Concerned Scientists are bamboozling us.

    Producing energy (from fossil fuels or nuclear fission) does not use up any water. It simply warms it up slightly and then (in a cooling tower) evaporates some of it to the atmosphere or (in a once-through system) discharges the slightly warmer water back into the river, etc. from where it came.

    The net balance is zero,

    In that same context, producing photovoltaic cells or wind turbines also uses power and water, but, again, the net balance is zero.

    This is a red herring, folks.

    Max

    • “This is a red herring, folks.”

      Eco-alarmism often has this common relationship. It’s all part of the Green, Nanny State, Bedwetting culture that has been nurtured. Dr. Curry is accountable but the blog seems driven by the whines of AGW minions here; Joshua, Robert, Martha, Webhopeless to name a few. Unless it reaches Joe (Goebbels) I mean Romm standards they are never happy either.

  24. Dr. Curry,
    Without high energy availability, water would be harder to get, cost more to transport, would be of lower quality and flooding and droughts would be worse.
    It is illuminating that on this topic, as in so many other areas, only 1 dimensional perceptions are studied and used to define what is an issue and its problems.
    Additionally, since the UoCS is a political lobbying group and is not in fact a “Union of Concerned Scientists”, but is rather open to admission by anyone with the membership fee, their studies should bear no more weight in the public square than one paid for by another political action group.

    • “Without high energy availability, water would be harder to get”
      That’s right. Energy production doesn’t consume much water, but energy availability enables us to solve water problems.
      The campaign promoting energy poverty will produce water poverty.

      • Jacob –

        Energy production doesn’t consume much water, but energy availability enables us to solve water problems.

        In a relative sense, that would depend on calculations balancing the water-intensity of different means of producing energy against the efficiency of the different means of production.

      • Dams, levies/barrages, detetion and retention basins, aquaducts, all require plentiful energy to power heaavy construction equipment.
        Add to that the costs of cleaning water and wastewater, and the real issue is how have extremist groups like UCS and the other big NGO’s managed to hijack so much of the public dialogue?
        They are not accountable to stockholders, regulators, voters, etc. but push agendas (very profitably) that costs all of us.

  25. Judith Curry

    The lack of available clean drinking water is a real problem in this world for billions of people in the economically underdeveloped nations. WHO estimates that close to 2 million people die annually as a direct result.

    The answer here is to provide these nations with a low-cost energy infrastructure and to install water treatment plants and distribution systems, as we have in the industrially developed world.

    UCS is distorting this picture entirely. The lack of water is not a result of power generation by conventional methods (as they would have us believe) but rather a result of not having an electrical power infrastructure based on a low-cost source of energy, such as fossil fuels.

    I cannot imagine how any group that calls themselves “scientists” could come up with such a hare-brained red herring. It’s laughable.

    Max

    • Max et al., before dismissing the UCS report, read it in entirety (not just my word bites), and also read the docs from U.S. DOE and US GAO (much less easy to dismiss)

      • Sorry, Dr. Curry, but once again you have chosen a topic which assumes that CAGW is real. Many of us believe CAGW is a hoax, and that we have the science to prove it.

        I dont know whether others feel like I do, but Climate Etc started off being really exciting. For the last few months it has become boring. The topics Dr. Curry has chosen recently, all assume that CAGW is happening, and so they are ridiculous before anyone reads them.

        I wrote to Dr, Curry some weeks ago, and suggested the Spencer/Dessler differences would be a good topic for discussion. I still think it would be much more interesting than the fare Dr. Curry has produced for us to discuss recently.

      • The most boring parts of this blog are those about “communicating science”. Seems Dr. Curry is obsessed with this.
        Do the science right, the communicating will take care of itself.

      • I read and contribute far less than I used to.

        We seem to be falling into the trap of being just another academic talking shop…discussing arcane topics of interest only to academics. And with all the pettiness that profession is so prone to. Little scope – or interest – for the non-academic to get into. The focus seems also to have become very US-oriented.

        And the determined hijacking with nonsense from Louise, Martha, Robert and Joshua reduces the appeal yet further.

        This is sad, because I too found the early days exciting and ground breaking. More academe is definitely not what is needed to rejuvenate the spirit.

      • This is sad,

        Does anyone have an extra violin handy?

        Latimer, I notice that you’re still active at WUWT – doesn’t that give you enough of the stimulating and in-depth analysis that you’re craving for?

        And can someone, please, please, explain to me the logic of repeatedly writing “off-topic” posts criticizing other commenters as a way to express sadness (pass the box of Kleenex) about “hijacking?”

        I thought that “conservatives” were supposed to be advocates for “personal responsibility.” Why are Climate Etc. “conservatives” apparently an exception to that characterization?

      • I find fascinating the sense of ownership deniers have for any website that gives them free rein.

        Like dogs, if they’ve “marked their territory,” they regard themselves as masters of the domain, and all others as intruders.

        This is ironic on several levels, chief among them the hostility to skeptical perspectives of those who proudly identify themselves as skeptic. It is ironic particularly in the case of Climate Etc., where Dr. Curry appeals to a “expanded peer community” of scientifically literate readers, and herself accepts the theory of AGW as fact. It’s hardly a place scientifically ignorant deniers should consider their home turf in the first place.

      • The two-legged pissant
        Stirs the pot
        And whets his swizzle.
        Sticks and bones
        May break his stones,
        Robert rocks and sizzles.
        ============

      • “Sorry, Dr. Curry, but once again you have chosen a topic which assumes that CAGW is real.”

        That’s 100% correct Jim, it happens all the time. So do the many links to leftist articles and outlooks built in while Dr. Curry denounces politics and starts talking about Italian flags etc. etc.

        Think of how many “fact assumptions” are imbedded in common AGW presentations;

        A. Talking about if there is warming and assuming and obfuscating any discussion of “cause”. It must be carbon related without discussion. Just like making a muddle of “human caused” without defining inputs to reach the largest possible “consensus”. Forget aerosol or land use discussions, the co2 zealots aren’t interested in that dissent or subdivision either.

        B. Co2 is “pollution” even when it is not. 200 million false references later and here we are. Orwell science at it’s best. How many in the actual science community have called out that kind of word destruction? Certainly not Dr. Curry.

        Think of all the major topics missed in the past week or have been approached indirectly at best. Canada scraps KYOTO! Huge but the lame article eco-rationist at the “Oil Drum” is featured. The AGU, which is 75% on the government or academic dole and a leftist organization especially at the top get uncritical presentations. Their biased agenda and track record not mentioned. AGU/Minitrue at work;

        http://blogs.agu.org/geospace/2009/12/16/climate-change-and-public-education/

      • “Spencer/Dessler differences?”

        well, that would be a topic more for Mcintyre. There are maybe 5 -10 people here ( yourself not included ) who could actually contribute something to the discussion.

        If you think you have the science to show that AGW is a hoax, write it up and submit it to WUWT. or submit it to JeffId. we will gladly take it to pieces. or Lucia’s, taking apart bad science is sometimes fun

      • @joshua, @robert

        Thank you both for your perfect (if entirely unconscious) illustrations of my earlier point.

      • Dr. Curry, asking people to read lengthy studies before proceeding is somewhat inconsistent with the concept of blogging. A blog is basically a discussion, not a book club. Even long posts are a bit much.

      • David,

        It’s hardly a lengthy report – four A4 pages in large type with pictures. Ten minutes at most.

      • I am referring to the DOE and GAO reports.

      • On this I second Dr. Curry: before criticising the UCS report because UCS is biased, one should consult the sources of their main points.

    • max,

      The UCS report is mainly referring to the US not to the developing world. Clearly the issues surrounding water availability in the one will often be different to the other.

  26. Judith,

    Oil uses huge amounts of water to produce and in pressure to get it to the surface. In many cases this is fresh water as no other water is available without huge costs. The water pumped down is NEVER seen again.
    The refining techniques has to infuse water into the peanut butter constancy of oil by the steam process.

    • That’s one thing I thought was good about the CO2 injection. Lost cause now though, since FutureGen is the wrong kind of research. We need more battery powered cars :) not a multifaceted approach.

      • Captain,

        Even those batteries rely on limited resources… :-)

      • I presume that hydraulic fracturing or fracking for natural gas also uses a lot of water. But there is no lack of water in many places, especially the eastern USA.

      • Then again, supply is not the only water-related question WRT fracking:

        In Pennsylvania, for example, natural-gas companies recycled less than half of the wastewater they produced during the 18 months that ended in December, according to state records.

        Nor has recycling eliminated environmental and health risks. Some methods can leave behind salts or sludge highly concentrated with radioactive material and other contaminants that can be dangerous to people and aquatic life if they get into waterways.

        Some well operators are also selling their waste, rather than paying to dispose of it. Because it is so salty, they have found ready buyers in communities that spread it on roads for de-icing in the winter and for dust suppression in the summer. When ice melts or rain falls, the waste can run off roads and end up in the drinking supply.

        Yet in Pennsylvania, where the number of drilling permits for gas wells has jumped markedly in the last several years, in part because the state sits on a large underground gas formation known as the Marcellus Shale, such waste remains exempt from federal and state oversight, even when turned into salts and spread on roads.

        When Pennsylvania regulators tried to strengthen state oversight of how drilling wastewater is tracked, an industry coalition argued vehemently against it. Three of the top state officials at a meeting on the subject have since left the government — for the natural-gas industry.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/us/02gas.html?_r=1

      • I don’t know where to start on this one. A lot of common-sense comments upthread.

        To me, the biggest take-home is that clean, abundant water supply requires energy. Technological innovation can bring the energy barriers down, quite possibly orders of magnitude faster than we can improve energy technology…?

        To take the example of fracking, properly (define as you wish) treating frack wastewater will require more energy than not doing so, lowering the EROI on shale etc. gas.

        Personally, a bit of fantasy – as Capt. Dallas reminded me, I brought up estrogens in wastewater etc. These are (maybe) pollutants at such low concentrations that conventional treatment methods may not work, yet we still (may) need to address them. Someday I wonder if we will all be drinking distilled water. Desalination seems like such an obvious solution, and again it’s the energy barrier, stupid.

        As Kim said, worry about when we start talking about energy footprint. At least carbon footprint is related to a defined issue.

      • Actually I think water footprint is much more relevant than energy footprint. However it is orders of magnitude more regionalized than carbon footprint.

        PS I live in Pittsburgh, PA.

  27. (much less easy to dismiss)

    Almost makes it seem that their intent is to dismiss, rather than to examine the question.

    Of course, we know that couldn’t be the case.

    • Joshua,

      Publicity is the name of the game. No matter being correct or not.

    • There is an interesting paradox of logic here. The ad hominem is a fallacy in deductive logic, but “consider the source” is good inductive reasoning. That is, if you have evidence that a person is likely to exaggerate or lie then it is reasonable to be skeptical of their claims. A used car salesman for example, or UCS. A quick read of their stuff indicates the usual mix of half truths, exaggerations, etc., which is easily dismissed.

      • What about if a person has a history of tribalism in the climate debate, or if a person who has a history of political advocacy weighs into the climate debate, or if a person who thinks that there is “scientific evidence” to prove the existence of a supernatural being weighs in on the validity of scientific evidence related to climate change?

        Would that mean that “consider the source” would be “good inductive reasoning?”

      • Joshua

        Are you referring to Kevin Trenberth, Phil Jones, Michael Mann or the IPCC gatekeepers?

        Max

      • “or if a person who thinks that there is “scientific evidence” to prove the existence of a supernatural being weighs in on the validity of scientific evidence related to climate change?”

        Joshua – does this refer to somebody in particular? If so, who?

        I am just curious because I am skeptical of anyone who actually makes this claim. On the other hand, folks who believe in a deity and don’t try to link it to science, get a free pass :)

      • I would say probably yes for political advocacy, no for religious belief, and I don’t know what tribalism is in this context. What is the difference between tribalism and political advocacy? Is it scientific advocacy?

      • BillC –

        Dave W. has aid that there is scientific evidence to support ID. ID assumes the existence of a supernatural being.

        Roy Spencer:

        “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific , than evolutionism. . .

        And just to be clear, because I know that people will misconstrue my meaning (of course, Don will simply misrepresent it, but there’s nothing I can do about that), I respect religious belief. Belief in a supernatural being can be entirely logical depending on your starting premise. The problem for me is when people claim that there is scientific evidence that proves religious beliefs.

      • David –

        What is the difference between tribalism and political advocacy? Is it scientific advocacy?

        There are various partisan interests at play other than those that can be clearly identified as political. For example, the partisanship of engineers who harbor resentment towards academic scientists, statisticians who are partisan about particular statistical methodology, etc. Sure, scientific advocacy, academic advocacy. Rarely do any of those partisan interests stand in complete isolation, but they do all (and I’m sure there are others) converge in the climate debate.

      • Joshua, the problem here is that everyone is multiply tribal so no, there is no basis for systematic skepticism, as there is for UCS, which has a focused political campaign going. You can’t distrust everyone.

      • Max –

        Are you referring to Kevin Trenberth, Phil Jones, Michael Mann or the IPCC gatekeepers?

        I reject the “Mommy, mommy, they do it toooouuuu” line of argumentation.

      • David –

        The UCS is multiply tribal as well.

        Further, Inhofe has a politically focused campaign going. Watts and Christy, among others, have clearly identified aspects of a political focus.

        It seems that the only uniquely distinguishing characteristic for you is whether you agree with the partisan interests.

      • I am sorry, Joshua. When we consider our relationship with God, that would be ‘conductive reasoning’. Get it.

      • Tom –

        Do you think that there is “scientific evidence” that proves the existence of god?

      • Joshua, I am surprised that scientists drive cars after all of this. Do you need to know exactly how the engine and transmission work before you are able to turn a key? As to the scientific evidence (knowledge of God), you need to get into the book (owners manuel), follow the instructions and turn the key. And there you will be. Why do you suppose that there are believers today? We are just simple folk? Imput, to get the output. That’s all. You too will see, it is open to all who want to know Him.

      • Tom –

        As to the scientific evidence (knowledge of God), you need to get into the book (owners manuel), follow the instructions and turn the key.

        I agree. If you have faith that the bible is the word of god, then believing in god is entirely logical.

        But the logic is premised on faith, not scientific evidence. I respect faith. I just think it shouldn’t be confused with science.

      • Joshua,
        I know from my personal experience, so I know. He knows our heart. We all tend to collect a variety of vain ideas over time that are very hard for us to let go of, Lord knows. The scales fell from my eyes… That and much more. We are to all learn, by doing. The Bible is All about Him. Love it and you will love God. It is the only way & God loves the diligent disciple. Get some joy into your life & read the Bible. Be patient too. He rewards the hard worker, for the time spent in the field. Have fun too.

        Tom

      • Joshus, if you absolutely accept the First Law of Thermodynamics in that energy can neither be created or destroyed, please explain how the universe came into existence.

      • I guess I’m going to have to come to Josh’s defense here. The prevailing theory about the creation of matter/energy is that it split between matter and antimatter, which adds up to nothing. Conservation isn’t violated by the Big Bang. What happened to the antimatter? They don’t really know for sure. But the existence of matter doesn’t in itself prove violation of conservation.

        Unlike climate scientists, astrophysicists don’t claim to know everything.

      • Josh, you are just scum. Your quote of Spencer does not indicate that he believes that there is scientific evidence that proves the existence of a supernatural being. You made that up. You claim that there is not convincing scientific evidence one way of the other. So you are not that far from Spencer, you little slimy idiot. I won’t be reading any more of your egomaniacal trash. Anybody who responds to your filth is soiling themselves. I’m done. Little punk bigot.

      • Joshua,
        You may need to borrow a tv but as to evidence of the power of God?

        http://www.biography.com/tv/i-survived-beyond-and-back/episodes

        I believe they were changed by their experiences. Why wait to find out for yourself?

      • Joshua, I think Inhofe and Watts have both been guilty of exaggeration, so one should indeed be skeptical of their claims. Christy I trust. It is all a matter of evidence. The point is simply that you can have good reasons to distrust someone, and it is not an ad hominem to do so, that is all.

        I do not understand your tribal theory so I really can’t apply it. You seem to think that everyone is tribal and if so then being tribal is not a good reason not to be trusted. There has to be specific evidence. Same for motivated reasoning.

      • One clarification. Consider the source, and being skeptical, in the sense I am using them, does not mean that what the other person says is false, just that it requires consideration before being accepted.

      • @Don Momfort-

        Oh please. I respectfully retain the right to engage with Joshua without wiping myself afterwards ;). I only agree that the Spencer quote is not as telling as he presents it. Please don’t stop posting links to P-Funk videos.

      • Joshua, Here is the plan:

        Eph 1:10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

        Eph 1:11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, [fn] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

        Eph 1:12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.

        Eph 1:13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own [fn] by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.

        Eph 1:14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

        Promise.
        T

      • Bill C,

        You should know by now not to take me too literally. It’s just that little josh is a little punk bigot, who has got his mind tied to his behind. He needs a good whupping, now and then. Any responses to his dishonest smarmy attempts to clog up the discussion should at least include a bit of well-deserved scorn and ridicule. In the meantime, we need some funk around here:

      • Joshua,
        According to Peter, the fisherman from the area around the Sea of Galilee, two thousand years ago… His information told him of a time yet to come, off in the distant future, at which time: the elements shall melt with fervent heat,…II Peter 3:10. In the Strong’s Concordance the word ‘element’ is very precise. What would cause this to happen? I am sure when we see it, we will all believe in God. For a very long time. Even more than seventeen years, from what I have read.

        2Pe 3:10 ¶ But 1161 the day 2250 of the Lord 2962 will come 2240 as 5613 a thief 2812 in 1722 the night 3571; in 1722 the which 3739 the heavens 3772 shall pass away 3928 with a great noise 4500, and 1161 the elements 4747 shall melt 3089 with fervent heat 2741 , the earth 1093 also 2532 and 2532 the works 2041 that are therein 1722 846 shall be burned up 2618 .

        http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=2Pe&c=3&v=10&t=KJV&sstr=1

        Good guess, you think?
        &
        Remember,
        no
        CERN neither

      • what if they are frauds

      • Joshua-

        I agree with your last paragraph.

        Also, the Spencer quote doesn’t really bother me. Funny where I draw the line.

      • randomengineer

        Joshua

        When Dr Spencer speaks of scientific evidence etc vis a vis ID bear in mind that ID would be indistinguishable from panspermia. Insofar as I know the scientific issue raised therein is that present day abilities preclude us from being able to tell if certain things were the result of design (e.g. panspermiated precursors to life.) It tells us that there are things we don’t know yet. I’m not sure what your problem is. You’d have a better case with the imbeciles who yammer about eyeballs being the result of design (easily shown to not be necessary.)

        To the list of things you lack, I’ll add imagination. Asking “what if” leads to discovery and knowledge.

        As for the general purpose dismissal of Dr Spencer based on any religious beliefs, you’re simply out of your league. Any number of atheists are fairly certain that the sky daddy version of god that seemingly has inordinate interest in north american sporting events doesn’t exist yet are open to the notion that the universe itself may have been created. For a sci-fi treatment of this theme read S. Baxter’s Timescape series where the notion is that previous humans are what created the universe in hopes that the entropy problem can be solved. The idea of questioning Dr Spencer’s ability to create graphs or grasp math because he has an open mind is simply stupid.

      • R.E.

        The idea of questioning Dr Spencer’s ability to create graphs or grasp math because he has an open mind is simply stupid.

        I’m not questioning his ability to create graphs or grasp math. I respect having an open mind. I do think that someone who thinks that there is scientific evidence that proves the existence of a supernatural being must, by definition, define scientific evidence differently than I, and the vast majority of working scientists.

        Now one possibility is that Spencer’s determination of what kind of evidence is scientific is “right” and mine is “wrong.” Another possibility is that his definition of what comprises scientific evidence is influenced by his ideology (as is mine). That latter seems more likely to me, and if his reasoning is so influenced by ideology, then all of his analysis should be viewed in that light. That, in itself, doesn’t make his analysis wrong – but it does mean that “examining the source” is “good inductive reasoning.”

        Here’s what I find funny, R.E.: it seems to me that what I’ve said above should be easily accepted by any true skeptic. That fact that “skeptics” uniformly reject that approach WRT one side of the debate and then discount analysis on the other side of the debate because of potential ideological influences is what, in my eyes, makes them “skeptics.”

      • And R.E. –

        As for the general purpose dismissal of Dr Spencer based on any religious beliefs, you’re simply out of your league.

        That’s a straw man. Top to bottom. And sideways.

        Maybe you should consider why you structured your response to me on a series of straw men.

      • randomengineer

        That’s a straw man.

        No. That’s an opinion. You are out of your league. Stick to what you know (whatever that might be.)

      • It’s a straw man that I dismissed Spencer because of his religious beliefs.

        I suggest that it is a sign of weakness in you position that you: (1) base your arguments on straw men and, (2) double-down when called on it.

      • Joshua, the first problem with your argument is that Spencer does not claim that there is scientific evidence that proves the existence of a supernatural being. That is not even suggested by the quote you offer, nor have I ever seen or heard him say any such thing.

        The second problem is that I think you really do not understand the concept of evidence. In particular, there can be lots of evidence for things that are not true. People used to believe that heat was a substance, based on certain evidence. We no longer believe this but the evidence is still there.

        The point is that even if Spencer did believe that there was strong scientific evidence for the existence of God it would not follow that he does not understand scientific evidence when he sees it. If there is one thing the climate debate makes clear it is that different people can weigh the same evidence very differently.

      • David and Joshua –

        I think the idea of ‘evidence’ is even more mutable than it seems. It is not just that different people can evaluate the same evidence differently, it is also that one person’s definition of what constitutes ‘evidence’ differs from that of another – and also changes over time.

        I believe it is also a false demarcation to characterise scientific evidence as somehow different from other sorts. The history of science (and scientists) show us otherwise. Scientists themselves often have very odd ideas about what constitutes the ‘scientific method’ and two scientists will likely give you two different definitions. There is also no ‘higher authority’ on this matter – no official rule book. Observation – i.e.looking at what people called ‘scientists’ actually do – reveals a hotch potch mess involving everything from hunches, blind faith, deductions based on false premises and a whole bucketful of logically flawed induction.

        I think the psychology of science is also under-studied. When I hear someone talking about the ’cause’ it strikes me they have left the everyday conception of science long behind – but they are still behaving as scientists often do. And, in case I have to add, this is true right across the climate spectrum. Hence, I am extremely sceptical of both scientists and science itself – because it is carried out by scientists. I am very far from being anti-science, though – I just think we do ourselves and science a great disservice if we consider that it reveals the certain ‘truth’. It doesn’t – and can’t, any more than (for me) and religious text, a preacher or a shaman can. It doesn’t mean learning isn’t possible.

        I thoroughly recommend this very short talk as one perspective of how (some) scientists go about their business –

        http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/4/8/terence-kealey-on-post-normal-science.html

      • David –

        You and I have been down this road before, so I don’t want to get into an extended back-and-forth here. (Besides, the whine-fest about “hijacking” is getting so shrill I may need to cut back). I’ll just post on this one more time on this thread:

        Joshua, the first problem with your argument is that Spencer does not claim that there is scientific evidence that proves the existence of a supernatural being. That is not even suggested by the quote you offer, nor have I ever seen or heard him say any such thing.

        Spencer says that I.D. is “no less scientific” than evolution. Now you can parse that to mean that he doesn’t claim scientific evidence that proves the existence of supernatural being, but:since there is evidence that supports evolution, it implies that he thinks that there is scientific evidence in support of I.D., and I.D. is predicated upon the belief that a supernatural being definitely exists.

        Now if from that you want to argue that he thinks that there is scientific evidence that supports, but doesn’t prove I.D., then I guess I see your point; although since he believes that I.D. is the correct theory, it would seem that he thinks of the evidence that he considers valid as sufficient to provide proof.

        The second problem is that I think you really do not understand the concept of evidence.

        I think of scientific evidence as evidence that that has been subjected to and/or acquired from experimental and/or empirical conditions, and that offers support or contradiction to falsifiable theories. Climate change “skeptics,” I believe, have a valid point when they apply such a standard to the evidence in support of AGW (although I think that they overplay that hand). All evidence in support of a scientific theory should be subjected to that kind of standard and scrutiny.

        I find it odd that true skeptics would accept evidence as being scientific in any realm if not held against such standards. That doesn’t invalidate “skeptics'” scientific analysis in all areas – but in Spencer’s case, it seems to me that he holds evidence for some theories against different standards than he holds evidence for other theories. When I see something like that, I have to wonder why; and often the answer is partisanship in one form or another.

        People used to believe that heat was a substance, based on certain evidence. We no longer believe this but the evidence is still there.

        We no longer believe it because based on the methodologies we now have available, and the knowledge we’ve acquired, what people once thought was scientific evidence (as I defined it above) to support that theory is no longer considered to be valid evidence from a scientific analysis.

        The point is that even if Spencer did believe that there was strong scientific evidence for the existence of God it would not follow that he does not understand scientific evidence when he sees it.

        What would follow is either that he defines scientific evidence in a way that is different than what I described above, or that he applies his different standards depending on the context. My assumption is that the latter is the case.

      • Thanks Anteros –

        I’ll take a look at your link.

      • Little josh needs no provocation to assert by transparent implication that a large segment of the skeptic community don’t get it, because their belief in God renders them blubbering intellectually inferior untermenschen. I wonder if the little bigot has made background checks on all the consensus scientists to make sure none of them occasionally sneak off to church (Christians are his specific target) , on dark rainy nights. I wonder how science progressed in the old days, before the profession discovered and enshrined elitist left-wing secularism as a requirement for membership in their thing.

      • mkelly –

        Joshus, if you absolutely accept the First Law of Thermodynamics in that energy can neither be created or destroyed, please explain how the universe came into existence.

        I don’t know the answer as to “how the universe came into existence.” As far as I know, there are no scientific explanations for how the first measure of energy was created from nothing. My understanding is that scientific theories that offer hypotheses about what happened immediately after that first measure of energy was created are completely consistent with the First Law of Thermodynamics.

        If you have evidence (at a level simple enough for me to understand) that shows my assumptions above to be incorrect, I’d love to see it.

      • ‘consider the source’ might play a role for me in the following way.

        1. If the source is unreliable, I might not even consider wasting the
        time on it
        2. if the source is unreliable, if I do consider it, I will consider it more
        deeply and thoroughly.

        I would never reject an argument because of the source.

  28. Frakking is a contentious energy/water issue. e.g., See:

    EPA releases draft findings from Pavillion, Wyo., groundwater probe Oil & Gas Journal WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 9 2011

    The US Environmental Protection Agency reported that its investigation of groundwater in Pavillion, Wyo., found chemicals consistent with natural gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids there.

    Encana refutes US EPA Pavillion groundwater report Houston HOUSTON, Dec. 12 2011

    Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. refuted the US Environmental Protection Agency’s preliminary conclusions in its draft report that ground water in the aquifer near Pavillion, Wyo., contains compounds EPA believes are “likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.”. . .
    Encana said it was disappointed EPA released the draft report before subjecting it to qualified, third-party, scientific verification.

    • David L. Hagen

      This is a bit off-topic here, but the Pavillion, Wyoming case, which you cite, is unusual for fracking operations in that the fracking zone was not very deep.

      In almost all fracking operations the fracking zone is several thousand feet below any ground water zones, so (if protective casings and cementing are inserted properly as required) there is no problem.

      Fracking is nothing new at all – it has been done since 1949 by service companies, such as Halliburton or Schlumberger (formerly Dowell).

      Environmentally clean fracking fluids have been developed recently.

      http://www.desmogblog.com/halliburton-ceo-instructs-underling-sip-new-fracking-fluid-gas-industry-conference

      It is the responsibility of the EPA to make sure all precautionary measures are taken by the operators to ensure that fracking operations do not harm ground water or the environment in any way..

      They should concentrate their efforts on doing their job, rather than issuing press releases.

      Max

    • Hydraulic fracturing is spelled “fracking”. “Frakking” is fornication.

  29. randomengineer

    Anyone notice yet that Gray and Klotzbach aren’t going to do a hurricane prediction for next year’s season?

  30. We just passed 149,500 comments. Looks like my noon bet on 150,000 is too soon. No food fights yesterday or today (so far). Rats!

  31. Patrick Moffitt

    My continuing concern, as someone that spent his career in water infrastructure, is groups like UCS have been distorting the challenges we face for decades. These self serving distortions pollute the political environment necessary to ensure the Public continuing efficient access to potable water.
    NGOs as an example sell to the Public the fairy tale that climate was stable until 1960 and the rise in CO2. Water supplies are threatened according to the NGO marketing campaigns by increasing CO2 and not the return period of the long term drought that destroyed the historic Jamestown colony or the civilization changing mega-drought that hit the Southwest some 900 years ago.
    NGOs have stolen the public/political attention needed to address the many real challenges and risks to our water infrastructure in a rational manner. I want them to stop- they are putting people at risk.

    • randomengineer

      +1

      Well said. There is real pollution out there but the overdoing of it and calling *everything* pollution makes it more difficult to so anything about what actually matters. Signal/Noise ratio goes straight to hell. Let NGOs like UCS be taken seriously and it’s all noise. Cynical types might conclude that this is the plan.

    • Thank you. Yes, water is growing issue. No, the UCS isn’t baring up the right forest, let alone the right tree.

      If we’re really serious about conserving fresh water, we should be talking about reusing wastewater effluent, not yammering about wind power. The UCS simply isn’t serious about water, they’re pushing an energy agenda.

  32. There appears to be some confusion here between water injection programs for pressurizing oil formations during production operations (in order to get more oil out) and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations during well development prior to actual production of oil or gas (in order to increase the permeability and future flow characteristics of the producing formation).

    The former takes appreciable quantities of water which remain forever down below while the latter takes relatively small quantities of fracking fluid, which is often water-based.

    Neither operation, however, takes significant amounts of water when compared to other human water uses, so really have nothing to do with the topic here as presented by UCS..

    Max

  33. In Israel they’re using mostly seawater to cool power station turbines.

    • Israel has some fascinating water issues; Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) is losing level due to a multi-year drought, and it’s causing the Dead Sea to drop. It would be relatively simple to let Red Sea water in, but it would disturb the mineral makeup of the Dead Sea. There is some talk about using the natural elevation differential (~1400 feet) to drive reverse osmosis, to maintain Dead Sea level, so more fresh water could be withdrawn from Kinneret. Of course, a dam would have to be installed between.

      They also tend to use a lot of low-water agricultural practices. California farmers could learn a few things from them.

      • The Kinneret is not losing level. That is – it is losing level temporarily because some 150 million cubic meters are being pumped out for use every year. The loss is not because of “multi-year drought”. Then it is replenished in years with abundant rainfall (once in 5-10 years). It is a multi-year fluctuation, and not a permanent loss.

  34. Occasionally, the posts here are pointless-this one is an example

    • No, it’s fun.

      More to the point, it is nice to discuss environmental issues other than AGW, because it lends some additional perspective on the context in which the AGW debate plays out, regardless of the biases of the initial post.

    • It’s not so much that it’s pointless as that it’s ignorant. They treat a subject (hydrology) that’s been around forever as if they just discovered it yesterday on Bill Nye’s show. This is kindergarten level hydrology.

      • They treat a subject (hydrology) that’s been around forever as if they just discovered it yesterday on Bill Nye’s show. This is kindergarten level hydrology.

        Lot’s of stuff to be learned about hydrology. There is a topic called anomalous transport or dispersive transport that involves some interesting stochastic math and first-order physics. Google it and you will see some of my work on the topic.

    • randomengineer

      Rob, I appreciate posts like this so I can play Jane Goodall and watch the interplay. It is my view that skeptics (unlike what Joshua et al think) aren’t skeptical due to voting preference; they are flat out created via scaremongering. (Hard to explain european skepticism otherwise given that they don’t have a right wing in the US fashion.) Posts that highlight scaremongering NGO op-ed screeds are informative. My observation is that those who buy the chicken little end of AGW are also likely to lap up other enviro themed scaremongering.

  35. Do windmills use up the wind ?

    Are we facing a shortage of wind ?

    More BS from UCS.

  36. Keeping the U.S. power on each day requires more water than 140 New York Cities.

    Where did this number come from? Are they counting all the water that flows through hydro dams?

    As an aside, the “each day” business on one side and not the other is dimensionally wrong, unless that’s part of the slight-of-hand. These are supposed to be scientists, and they can’t construct a dimensionally consistent sentence?

  37. P.E. | December 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    I guess I’m going to have to come to Josh’s defense here. The prevailing theory about the creation of matter/energy is that it split between matter and antimatter, which adds up to nothing. Conservation isn’t violated by the Big Bang. What happened to the antimatter? They don’t really know for sure. But the existence of matter doesn’t in itself prove violation of conservation.

    Unlike climate scientists, astrophysicists don’t claim to know everything.

    P.E. something was created from nothing whether it was matter itself or the thing that split into matter and anti-matter so there is a voilation of the creation of something from nothing.

  38. Places near the coastlines can use waste heat from energy production to power water desalination. Here is a news item about one project in progress in Carlsbad, California.http://www.carlsbad-desal.com/news.aspx?id=273 If this one proves successful, there are plans for 18 more along the CA coast. That page has a link to more information.

    The news item is about one event in a long-running political struggle over the plant, as environmentalists have opposed it. A large majority of people support the plant. It’s hard to believe anyone could object to using waste heat to generate drinking water, but their reasons were given serious consideration, and construction was held back pending the resolution of all the issues in the regulatory agencies and courts.

    Every locale is different, but San Diego County needs to reduce its dependence on water piped in from the north and east.

    Professor Curry titles her blog “Climate, Etc.” I would say that this topic fits better under “Etc” than under “Climate”. It was worth the read.

  39. Using technologies such as wind and photovoltaics means doing away entirely with water use for electricity production. Reducing the need for generating the electric- ity or transportation fuels in the first place—through more-efficient ap- pliances, buildings, and vehicles, for example—not only saves money and reduces heat-trapping gases and other pollutants, but also eliminates the corresponding water use.

    But having a power generation infrastructure that is vulnerable to be taken out by high wind or hail is not a secure future. When Hurricane Andrew devastated Homestead, Florida, one power plant suffered some damage to one unit. That was it. Sure, the distribution infrastructure was taken out but that can be replaced a lot faster and a lot cheaper than both the distribution AND generation capacity. Any significant use of wind/solar in that region would have likely seen the complete elimination of that generating capacity and required that it be completely replaced.

    Also, how many windmills and solar panels does it take to power one single electric arc steel mill 24x7x365? Just one. Also, about 1/3 of our energy consumption is utilized moving water. Pumping it out of the ground, treating it, storing it, distributing it, collecting the waste, treating it, and disposing of it all require a large amount of energy. Now imagine some very significant loss of “waterless” generation capacity. I don’t mean a temporary loss of output due to night or calm, I mean the complete elimination of it due to high wind, hail, etc. Now people face the possibility of having not only no power, but no water either in places with municipal water supplies.

    Solar and wind seem like such attractive options to people who live in relatively mild climates but most of the land area of this country experiences terrific storms over the course of a decade. Also, many areas of the country in both the East and West have over 200 days a year with no sunshine. Solar in those places is going to work only 1/2 of 1/3 of the available hours of the year and depending on when their “sunny” season is, it might even be less than that.

    Minnesota learned its lesson last year with a multimillion dollar investment in wind power that doesn’t work when it is cold.

    And another important point: Wind power kills more large birds annually than the number of birds killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout. Wind is NOT environmentally friendly, it is not particularly robust in the face of weather, and it is quite expensive. If your only goal i to migrate away from fossil fuel simply for the sake of it with no other real benefit, sure, it would be a good emergency stop-gap measure but it can not be relied upon to provide a reliable source of all-weather power.

    • And with one swift kick, we can make this relevant to the top-level post. Windmill and now wind-turbines have been effective for centuries as a reliable mechanism to lift water. This makes wind also useful as an energy storage mechanism. These are all small bits to the puzzle of energy efficiency while maintaining our standard of living.

      • @webbie

        The first major recent use of windmills on an ‘industrial’ scale to move quantities of water uphill was in The Netherlands to drain the land there.

        Would you care to comment on why that particular form of power fell out of use by the mid 19C and was replaced by steam power? See for example

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haarlemmermeer

        Was it the low power output or the unreliability of the energy source and its vulnerability to the vagaries of the weather that meant windmills fell into disuse?

        And can you remind us of any other recent (last 50 years) of windmills to move substantial quantities of water uphill please?

      • Sure, that was thanks to cheap energy.

        Did you also know that at one time, The Netherlands had a huge supply of peat that they started exhausting in the Middle Ages:

        http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8460

        The evolution of peat production was eerily similar to the mining of fossil fuels today. When the easiest accessible reserves were exhausted, the peat diggers developed new technologies and methods to mine harder-to-reach resources at an ever increasing financial and environmental cost. We do not have much detailed knowledge about peat production in Flanders and Brabant, because few written records from the late Middle Ages remain. However, the history of peat production in the present-day Netherlands is relatively well documented.

        Read that whole post, which is from two months ago. The point is, humans will use the cheapest energy accessible to them and when that is exhausted they will go to the next supply. Wind is a renewable form of energy and so we can always go back to it.

      • I agree with you that the low cost of energy was one of the reasons. But another, even more important one was that fossil fuelled energy is reliable and predictable. Which wind is not.

        It s not much use having wind based pumps to stop the North Sea flooding your homes and farms with all that nasty salt water if you cannot be sure that there will not be a lengthy hiatus in the pumping. Like for weeks at a time.

        The lack of reliability and predictability of any wind based power system is a fundamental and fatal flaw in its nature. That is the real reason why steam power displaced wind mills with such rapidity.

        Whistling in the wind to pretend otherwise does nobody any favours.

    • Excellent technical and policy discussion of renewable energy and how they might (and might not) be applied in UK available for download from here

      http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/energy-environment/renewable-energy-vision-or-mirage

      It ain’t anywhere near as simple as ‘wind = free and no carbon’ ergo all problems are fixed.

      And those who propose it need to understand how it works (or not) in practice.

      Enjoy!

      • I was listening to a wing-nut radio station this morning and some guy called up and started boasting about how they hydraulic-fracture for drinking water in some areas in New England. After the host stopped crowing about the benefits of facturing in general, I began thinking about the deeper implications of what they were talking about.

        Get this.

        Hydraulic fracturing is a one-time measure to get at a trapped resource that had built up over a long time. With trapped water, once the seams are fractured and that water seeps out of the core regions, that is all we will get. Drain the supply for drinking water and that’s that. You ain’t getting no more — you can fracture all you want and unless you find a fresh virgin volume, you will discover that fractured water, like fracture natural gas and fractured oil, is not renewable.

      • So? It would seem to just be a cost issue. What is the most effective means to get water to where it is needed. it does not seem to be an issue the federal government should be in the middle of deciding. The individual states should make the decisions as to what is appropriate for their citizens

      • I can’t disagree with your analysis. The guys on the radio were clearly wrong on this point.

        But I am struggling to see how a discussion about the deficiencies of their understanding of fracking answers my earlier questions about the utility of windmills. Indeed, I’ll go so far as to say it doesn’t.

        Do you have any wind-related comments to make? Rather than gas-related ones?

      • Sorry – just seen your upthread comment re wind.

        Given all its deficiencies as a power source, we will need to be really in deep s..t before wind becomes the best available. Looks like cheap shale gas will put off that day for many decades in parts of the USA. And hopefully in UK also.

        But first we need to kill the many-headed hydra of business and politics whose analytical powers do not go beyond:

        ‘Wind is free so it must be good innit? Keep sending the subsidy cheques’

      • Do you have any wind-related comments to make? Rather than gas-related ones?

        This is not the thread for wind. I have written about the stochastic properties of wind extensively in my blog and my book which you can get by clicking on the comment handle.

        Since this is Climate Etc, I am sure we will get a post on wind energy at some point.

  40. You have to wade to page 24 of the DOE document (I don’t think the pdf tables will embed) to finally arrive at the astounding conclusion that in the worst case scenario, water withdrawal and consumption for thermoelectric generation in 2030 will be below 2005 levels. Where’s the crisis?

  41. UCS citing the GAO document is ludicrous. It’s about the impact of biofuels on water consumption! They conclude that biofuels are water hogs. I think this is a complete strikeout for UCS.

  42. “cwon14 | December 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm |

    “Sorry, Dr. Curry, but once again you have chosen a topic which assumes that CAGW is real.”

    That’s 100% correct Jim, it happens all the time. So do the many links to leftist articles and outlooks built in while Dr. Curry denounces politics and starts talking about Italian flags etc. etc.”

    cwon14, we are obviously in agreement. But when Climate Etc first started it was not like that at all. And recently, we had the Ludecke paper. I may not agree with Pekka Perilla (? sp) or Fred Moolton, but some of the science they wrote in favor of CAGW was well worthwhile reading, and I learned a lot for the discussions. But then, the topics did not assume that CAGW was correct. That, to me, is the key issue. I realize that Judith firmly believes in CAGW, but this did not prevent her, initially, from introducing topics where CAGW was not taken for granted.

    I just wish that Dr. Curry would get back to the topics where both sides of the debate can present their, SCIENTIFIC, ideas, and we can, once again, have exciting threads. As I have noted several times, the Spencer/Dessler debate would enable people who understand the science Roy and Andy have presented. to discuss which side of the debate in likely to be correct. The Ludecke/Trenbeth threads were just fantastic.

    • The issue of energy-water nexus, is not directly associated with AGW. it is rather fundamental to both water and energy. Climate variability (natural or human induced) can throw a monkey wrench into this. How does this post imply that I assume CAGW is real?

      • Dr. Curry, another fear-based, eco-based green theme; water shortages due to man is implied in the post. There is also the assumption of AGW built into the article that people are reacting to.

        If you don’t denounce the idiotic AGW assumptions in the article I’m sure some aren’t going give you the pass that you are non-committal to the premise itself. AGW disinformation is passed on this way all the time. Like “carbon footprints” or calling CO2 “pollution”, once the word game is conceded the desired impact was achieved by the advocates. Linking AGW to other eco-left talking points and fears is nothing new; AGW carbon rationing = water rationing in this case. Notice how the board breaks down on largely the same usual lines; right vs. left, rational vs. fear based sky-fallers looking to central authority expansion.

        Are you saying you don’t believe in CAGW or just refuse to quantify the human impact in a similar way to the “consensus”?

        Maybe we can board history here.

      • I have never been a proponent of the “C”. The relative magnitude of anthropogenic vs natural climate variability is the key unknown in all this.

      • “I have never been a proponent of the “C”. The relative magnitude of anthropogenic vs natural climate variability is the key unknown in all this.”

        Is that “C” for Catastrophic or Consensus or perhaps both?-:)

      • You do realize that the “C” is a straw man?

        That there is no scientific theory of “CAGW”?

        It’s a red herring.

        The relative magnitude of anthropogenic vs natural climate variability is the key unknown in all this.

        It’s really not. We know levels of CO2 are higher than they have been in hundreds of thousands of years. We also know that temperatures are rapidly rising to levels not seen in the last several hundreds of thousands of years. There are many, many lines of evidence for both of those conclusions.

        In there any doubt in your mind that the average temperature in 2090-2100 will be higher that that of any decade since the discovery of agricultural up to the present? So how is the magnitude of natural variability even an issue here?

      • That there is no scientific theory of “CAGW”?

        I actually agree with Roberta on this. It’s the same nonsense, with the C or without.

        Andrew

      • Dr Curry, you ask “How does this post imply that I assume CAGW is real?”

        This post, by itself, does not imply that you assume C(atastrophic)AGW is real. What makes me quite certain that you believe that CAGW is real is the totality of all you have written on Climate Etc. And you have never explicitly stated that you believe that CAGW is wrong.

        Incidentally, I use CAGW, instead of AGW, because I am convinced that AGW is a real effect. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels undoubtedly increases global temperatures. The issue has always been, how big is this increase? As I have noted many times, my interpretation of the observed data is that the increase is negligible, and, IMHO, it will never be measued against the background of natural noise.

  43. Nice spin from UCS. Using colorful and glossy sciencey documents to provide the press with cover to promote the regressive agenda since 1969.

    For total US Freshwater consumption, 85% is Agricultural and 3% is Thermoelectric:

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/33905.pdf

    • Nice link!

      Regressive Agenda = Progressive Agenda

      Might not work with a dictionary but the equation works in real life in our time.

    • Of course. That’s the main point about water. 85% is for AGRICULTURE.
      And mostly – unnecessary agriculture. Like the saudis insiting on growing wheat in the desert. It makes no sense.
      There is NO water shortage problem. Just cut out the agriculture from dry areas. Grow the food where there is water, not where there isn’t. Problem solved. Simple.

  44. Patrick Moffitt

    I have learned that unless someone produces a water mass balance- they are generally blowing smoke. The use of water by power generators would not make my top ten list of issues requiring attention with respect to water supply and distribution (Outside of some highly localized and remote areas). My top five include agriculture subsidies, water pricing subsidies (and who gets them), drought return period unknowns, failure to invest (maintenance and investigation) and my number ONE. Environmental NGOs confusing the public and the politics needed to attend to the other four.

    Water is used and reused -often multiple times- before it reaches the ocean.It is not simply a matter of what is passed through but what is made available downstream, when and at what cost. P.E. said we should link our water and wastewater plants together- we do in many places- they are called rivers. (And it is no problem for a wastewater plant to produce drinking water quality- many already do. Although I would not want to be the one trying to sell this at a Public hearing.)

    This is a climate site- I can’t begin to stress the importance of understanding and properly selecting the drought return period to the design and security of water infrastructure. We are not close to knowing what we need to know. We should be looking more at evapotranspiration rates on groundwater supplies, the impact of tile drainage systems used by many low yield agriculture acres etc- but we don’t in large part because these aren’t part of the narrative. The NGOs like to talk about greed- what is more greedy than forcing every environmental challenge to fit your message? Can’t there be one thing we can fix- not related to climate change? I asked the same question when all the problems were caused by acid rain. Apparently the answer is no.

  45. “In most regions, population increase and economic development are arguably placing greater pressure on water resources for energy than climate change (natural and/or anthropogenic”

    This is arguable and I take your point; but these are converging risks and our choices/trade-offs are all inter-related, so require policy integration.

    I wonder if it would be helpful to post additional links that more fully integrate these and also related risks e.g. energy and climate/water/food insecurity. Any suggestions for links further integrating these multiple risks? thx

  46. A few more or less unrelated thoughts:

    1.)

    In most regions, population increase and economic development are arguably placing greater pressure on water resources for energy than climate change (natural and/or anthropogenic).

    It’s not a competition. The stresses are cumulative, and potentiate one another.

    2.) The consumption of water by nuclear plants is certainly something we need to take into account before planning a widespread nuclear renaissance. Nuclear power has a lot going for it, but water is not getting any more plentiful.

    3.) If you want to supply more fresh water via desalinization, bear in mind that the world’s coasts are vulnerable to inundation, erosion, and more intense storms caused by global warming.

    4.) I’m surprised a community so replete with “blog libertarians” does not have more people pointing out the absence of a market price for water, and the heavy subsidies for water provided (especially) to agricultural and industrial customers.

    5.) At the water-energy nexus, a general principle applicable to both resources; in the short term, the smartest way to increase the supply is not to produce more, it’s to stop wasting what we have. Charging fair market prices for energy and water will increase conservation both in term of individual and corporate behavior and in spurring investment in technology that uses scarce resources more efficiently.

  47. I understand your point of view Jim. I’m sure you have noted my theme that Dr. Curry postures, politically, in very inane ways that promote all sorts of nonsense (look our collection of emotionally based ranters; Joshua, Robert, Martha that exist here in this disclosure vacuum) rather routinely. All this while she can’t simply state her own political views have similar links and results.

    Dr. Curry depends on political obfuscation as does most of the “consensus”. the links to Greenpeace, government funding and dependency, academia and media left wing, WWF, IPCC, Sierra Club, Al Gore or Obama or other members of the hard left undermine as it should the basic science authority they try to manipulate for public consumption; “the cause”. For Dr. Curry it’s shameful DISINFORMATION and HYPOCRISY to pretend to be a “reformer” but duck and cover directly addressing the political links that indeed drive the AGW agenda and her role in it. Her underlying culture is academic left, statist authority as so many in academia find the political cultural link and value system. Until something more tangible is revealed I assume she is little more than a needed fiction of warmer moderation and tool to be used to walk back agw while it’s getting its butt kicked both intellectually and in the publics mind. It would be a terrible result to have AGW dissent gather around Dr. Curry as a real force of science corruption reform when she largely isn’t.

    Others sense this on the board but few call her out, time and again not acknowledging the political cultures and motivations of the many sources she cites and of the fundamental institutional political culture(s) she has surrounded herself with her entire life. The AGU and Oil Drum article just recent examples. We’re not suppose to note these are eco-left shill organizations on AGW specifically and across the board in general?

    One word summation; “Lame”.

  48. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/33905.pdf

    I would never have thought that the Union of Concerned Scientist would promote fossil fuel use to save water. The US average is 2 Gallons of water per kilowatthour water loss due to evaporation as of 2003 before the push for more efficient gas fired combined cycle replacement of aging power plants. The draw through that the UCS use is not water wasted, that is reused or returned to the source, rivers or the ocean mainly. Lakes in a few causes and I am not sure about aquifers?

    “Some plants lose or “consume” large amounts of the withdrawn water to evaporation (see the text box on p. 2): a typical 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant consumes more than 2 billion gallons of water per year from nearby lakes, rivers, aquifers, or oceans.8,9″ Some is not all that scientific sounding. Perhaps they can provide a list of the aquifer use that is not reused for agriculture or industry?

    Dr. Curry, it may be possible that the UCS is double dipping a touch on some of the water use :)

  49. This blog post reminds me of a quip Kerry Emanuel made many years ago, that he was going to start a group: The Union of Scientists Concerned about the Union of Concerned Scientists…

    This is not to say there are not any issues here. IEEE Spectrum (the magazine for members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) had an issue devoted to this recently. Articles can be found here:

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/static/special-report-water-vs-energy

  50. Judith,

    Have you ever come across a power generation turbine so sensitive that it has to be created opposite in the different hemisphere as it losses a few percentages of efficiency?

    Stored energy of ocean pressure makes a great mind game of different difficulties to harness this pressure. Friction, atmospheric pressure and waters bonding are interesting problems to overcome.

  51. Robert | December 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm | You do realize that the “C” is a straw man?

    We also know that temperatures are rapidly rising to levels not seen in the last several hundreds of thousands of years.

    In there any doubt in your mind that the average temperature in 2090-2100 will be higher that that of any decade since the discovery of agricultural up to the present? So how is the magnitude of natural variability even an issue here?

    Robert you admit in the first sentence above that temperatures in the past have been higher than today with no human influence. ie. You say “rising to levels” not that they have exceeded the temperatures. So what caused the temperatures in the past to be higher? Is that cause in action today?
    I do seiously doubt that the temperatures of 2060-2100 will be higher than today and I will wager you $10000 dollars that in the year 2101 you will have to pay me. I am willing to in person 4 July 2101 at a location of your choosing to recieve my pay off.

  52. Robert I forgot to mention I would be over 150 years old so if I don’t show I believe you will understand. So hope for good medical advances and low inflation or the ten grand won’t be worth a lot.

  53. Only around 2% of our planet’s total of around 1.4 billion square kilometers of water are fresh. Another 2% is in the ice caps and permanent snow, and the balance of around 96% is sea water.

    Although fresh water reservoirs get replenished by precipitation, water is not an infinite resource.

    Humans need an estimated 50 liters/day of fresh water, although domestic usage rates in some countries is three to eight times this high.

    High flow reverse osmosis (RO) membranes were developed in the early 1960s and this process has been commercialized for converting seawater to fresh water since the 1970s. Membranes and processes have been improved considerably since then.

    A 2006 study gives the state-of-the-art of RO desalination.

    http://www.desline.com/articoli/8671.pdf

    The total world RO desalination capacity (larger units only) is around 43 million cubic meters per day, expected to grow to around 63 million cubic meters per day by 2015.

    Capital investment cost for a 20,000 cubic meter/day plant are stated to be $8 to 16 million, and for a 70,000 cubic meter/day plant around $30 to 40 million.

    Total operating cost is estimated to be $0.45 to $0.60 per cubic meter (Israel, Indonesia, Singapore), including ROI on investment cost.

    Energy cost is a major component of the total operating cost, representing 35% to 45% of the total.

    Of course, not everyone lives near the ocean, so there is also an added investment for distribution systems and pipelines.

    For the poorest countries of this world, RO seawater desalination is probably too costly, unless there is a local source of low-cost energy.

    But it is one of the technologies that will help provide drinking water to those who live in fresh water scarcity zones near the sea.

    It is just one of many “technical” solutions to the impending fresh water dilemma, which has been suggested by UCS.

    Max

  54. billion square kilometers of water? (later you do use cubic)

  55. “Total operating cost is estimated to be $0.45 to $0.60 per cubic meter (Israel, Indonesia, Singapore), including ROI on investment cost.”

    This is correct.
    You can get through RO desalination all the water yau need for urban and industrial use. There is absolutely no water problem.
    The price might be too high for agriculture – but there is enough arable land in places that don’t lack percipitations.

  56. Anyone know a good site to discuss climate science? Seems I’ve stumbled into a chat room of religious issues here.

  57. While diverting cosmic rays into climate modulation could place a catastrophic drain on the galaxy’s limited angular momentum resources, those pimping Cosmic Alternative Global Warming earn every PR penny and screen click they make, as CAGW is second only to ohmic heating of the aurora by telluric currents as a source of innocent scientific merriment.

    Writers like Pynchon need cultural roughage to stir their juices, so Tom Bethell should write a book about CAGW II, if Larry Bell hasn’t started one already.

  58. The most severe water-energy issue appears to be NW India where “mining water” for irrigation is rapidly depleting the available water. See:
    NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India’s Vanishing Water

    “If measures are not taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, consequences for the 114 million residents of the region may include a collapse of agricultural output and severe shortages of potable water,” said Rodell, who is based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. . . .
    They found that groundwater levels have been declining by an average of one meter every three years (one foot per year). More than 109 cubic km (26 cubic miles) of groundwater disappeared between 2002 and 2008 — double the capacity of India’s largest surface water reservoir, the Upper Wainganga, and triple that of Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States.