Limits(?) of green energy: is the Earth f_ked?

by Judith Curry

Whether the benefits of alternative energy outweigh its drawbacks depends on the policy context. – Ed Dolan

Green Illusions

Ed Dolan has a post entitled Green Illusions: The Limits of Alternative Energy:

Are solar, wind, and other alternatives the magic bullets that will solve the world’s environmental and energy problems? Take a closer look, says Ozzie Zehner in Green Illusions . Zehner not only argues that green energy has technological, environmental and economic limits, but also that without an appropriate policy context, some forms of alternative energy could do more harm than good. 

The first part of Zehner’s book—by far the best—is devoted to explaining why neither photovoltaic, nor wind, nor biomass, nor any of the other alternatives to fossil fuels will be able to deliver a future of abundant, cheap, clean energy. Chapter by chapter, he brings out the environmental and economic limitations of each technology. Among the highlights—

  • Carbon isn’t the whole story. When you count toxic sludge from making solar panels, noise from windmills placed too close to residential areas, or changes in land use patterns from cultivating biofuel crops, you find that alternative energy has negative externalities of its own that offset its low-carbon benefits at least in part, and sometimes entirely.
  • Energy not only has to be produced, it has to be delivered when and where it is needed. 
  • Beware of promises based on performance of alternative energy under ideal conditions. 

If alternative energy is somewhat clean, but not really as clean as its “zero carbon” claims, then it is neither all bad nor all good. Whether the benefits of alternative energy outweigh its drawbacks depends on the policy context. Zehner argues that current U.S. energy policy is far too “productivist,” as he puts it. It aims to add alternative energy to the output mix, but at the same time to keep energy “affordable,” which means pricing it at a level that encourages extravagant use. In his own words,

Alternative-energy production expands energy supplies, placing downward pressure on prices, which spurs demand, entrenches energy-intensive modes of living, and finally brings us right back to where we started. . . In short, we create an energy boomerang—the harder we throw, the harder it will come back to hit us on the head.

The solution? A pricing policy that stifles this “boomerang effect” by encouraging conservation rather than expansion of energy output.  I would have liked to see this idea more fully developed, in at least three respects.

First, it would be worth putting even more emphasis on the need for a policy that mandates full cost pricing, including environmental costs, for all forms of energy. Coal should be charged for the carbon and sulfur dioxide it produces, solar panels for the toxic residues of manufacturing, wind for the upgrades to the grid that are needed to deliver it, and so on. A full-cost pricing policy would dramatically raise the prices of the dirtiest energy sources, like coal and bitumen from Canadian oil sands. It would also charge for proper disposal of toxic sludge from manufacturing solar panels and for upgrades needed to integrate wind power with the grid. Raising the price of these cleaner but not perfectly clean alternative sources would encourage conservation of energy of all kinds while still giving them a comparative advantage over the dirtiest fossil fuels.

A second point is that we should avoid policies that subsidize consumption of energy, even when it comes from relatively clean sources. The feed-in tariffs that are offered to alternative energy producers are one example, as are mandates for utilities to include a certain percentage of alternative energy in their power mix. In both cases, the result is that utilities are required to buy alternative energy at a relatively high price, and then blend it with cheaper energy from coal or other conventional sources and sell the blend at price reflecting the average cost. Such policies stimulate the production of alternative energy, but they don’t encourage conservation. (Subsidies for basic research on alternative energy would not be subject to this objection, since they do not artificially lower the cost of energy to consumers.)

A third point is that once we get energy pricing right, competition among production of relatively clean and relatively dirtier types of energy would take a back seat to competition between production and conservation as the best way to reduce energy use and its associated environmental harms. Should we put solar panels on the roof or weather strip our leaky window frames? If the panels are highly subsidized, they are likely to be our first choice, even though the return on investment in weather stripping might be far higher. (At one point Zehner quips that the cost of the solar panels per pound of CO2 saved could well be as high as the cost of weather stripping windows with gold leaf. That may not even be an exaggeration.)

Once the principle of full cost pricing is accepted, exactly how we tweak prices to their appropriate level is, in my view, a matter of secondary importance. Zehner seems to favor pollution taxes, and arguments can certainly be made in support of that approach. Other people favor cap and trade as a way to put a price on externalities. Still another option is to impose costs on energy producers and users through improved environmental liability rules that protect pollution victims and their property. Take your choice.

Dolan has a follow on post entitled Does Robert F. Kennedy Jr Harbor Green Illusions About Solar Power?

JC comment:  Well, this seems to me to be a very sensible analysis.

Is the Earth f**ked?

The award for the most provocative title at the recent AGU meeting goes to Brad Werner, for his talk “Is Earth F**ked?”  Werner’s paper is discussed in at article at Slate titled Scientists Ask Blunt Question on Everyone’s Mind.  Excerpts:

The bulk of Werner’s talk, as it turned out, was not profane or prophetic but was a fairly technical discussion of a “preliminary agent-based numerical model” of “coupled human-environmental systems.” He described a computer model he is building of the complex two-way interaction between people and the environment, including how we respond to signals such as environmental degradation, using the same techniques he employs to simulate the dynamics of natural systems such as permafrost, glaciers, and coastal landscapes.

Active resistance by concerned groups of citizens, analogous to the anti-slavery and civil rights movements of the past, is one of the features of the planetary system that plays an important role in his model. If you think that we should take a much longer view when making decisions about the health of the “coupled human-environmental system”—that is to say, if you’re interested in averting the scenario in which the Earth is f**ked—then, Werner’s model implied, resistance is the best and probably only hope. Every other element—environmental regulation, even science—is too embedded in the dominant economic system.

As for the big question—is Earth f**ked?—Werner announced in his talk that he has done some preliminary runs of his model. At this point I could sense the audience lean forward collectively on their seats. First he simulated the global economy proceeding into the future without the drag of environmental management decisions. “What happens is not too surprising,” he told us evenly. “Basically the economy fast chews up the environmental resources, depletes those reservoirs, resulting in a significant amount of environmental damage.”

Then he factored in some environmental management, presumably of our standard, EPA cost-benefit-analysis-driven variety, and found that “it delays the environmental damage but it doesn’t prevent it.”

That’s not too surprising either. (But it also implies we’re eventually, definitely f**ked.) Still, there’s a choose-your-own-adventure element to the story that has yet to play out. Resistance, Werner argued, is the wild card that can force dominant systems such as our current resource-chewing juggernaut onto a more sustainable path. Werner hasn’t completed that part of his model, so we’ll have to wait to find out what happens. But during the Q-and-A session, he conceded that “even though individual resistance movements might not be fast enough reacting to some of these problems, if a global environmental movement develops that is strong enough, that has the potential to have a bigger impact in a timely manner.”

JC comment:  Huh?  I like the idea of combining an agent-based model with geophysical models.   But exactly how is advocacy by scientists going to get around the issues raised by Zehner/Dolan?  JC suggestion to Werner:  put the three economic points raised by Zehner/Dolan into your model and see what pops out.  JC prediction:  advocacy by scientists (who are ignorant of economics and policy) is not going to trump economics and politics.

Innovation

At about the same time I read the previous two articles, I also read a third article, which landed in the same file and ended up being combined into what has turned into a rather eclectic post.  The third article is  Lab grown meat gives food for thought.  Excerpts:

The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization estimated that 18% of global greenhouse emissions are accounted for by the livestock sector, and demand for meat is predicted to double over the next 40 years.

Hungarian-born Gabor Forgacs, of the University of Missouri, is a specialist in tissue engineering, working to create replacement tissue and organs for humans. He realized the same technology could be used to engineer meat for human consumption.  He became the first scientist in the United States to produce and publicly eat some of his tissue-engineered meat, at the 2011TEDMED conference.

Research from the University of Oxford, published last year, estimated that lab-grown meat produces 78-96% lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally produced meat within the EU. It also had a 99% lower land use and a 82-96% lower water use.

“The rules of the game of meat production are not the same as they were 100 years ago,” says Forgacs. “It’s not sustainable. We are destroying this planet with intensive meat production. Seventy percent of arable land today is one way or another connected to animals through grazing animals or growing food for them. We’re running out of it.”

He adds: “What we’re doing is a transformational idea. We’re going to produce something that is not exactly the same but it is going to be cost efficient and much less harmful to the environment.”

Whatever the final outcome, lab-grown meat is no longer in the realm of science fiction. “It is coming. There is no question that someone will hit it big and if we are the ones then so much the better,” says Forgacs.

JC comment:  Amazing.  JC’s second suggestion for Brad Werner:  factor innovation and disruptive/transformational technologies into your model.

575 responses to “Limits(?) of green energy: is the Earth f_ked?

  1. Now here is a post to get our teeth into. Now we can really start to do some “Robust Policy Analysis”. This should be interesting :)

    I’ll be interested to see if those who seem to be able to think only about temperatures, temperature trends, temperature projections and climate sensitivity can step outside their area comfort zone ans start thinking about pragmatic solutions and policy.

  2. There is one big problem with “full cost energy pricing” – the point of payment (i.e., the utility) usually won’t be directly responsible for the externality you’re trying to fix. For example, for solar, how do we price the solar pond mess cited when it is sited in China?

    • Isn’t it the decision of the citizens of China to decide how they want to extract resources fron thier own lands?

      • That same logic then applies to the citizens of Canada, who then get to decide how they want to extract resources from their own lands. Or the citizens of China who want cheap coal produced electricity. Or the citizens of West Virginia and Tennessee and their Big Coal. Which gets us right back to where we are now, everyone for themselves and the solution is someone else’s problem.

      • “Which gets us right back to where we are now, everyone for themselves and the solution is someone else’s problem.”

        The solution to what? Are you not aware that humans in the western industrial societies (WIS) are living in a golden age? Higher life expentancy, lower infant mortality, unprecedented prosperity that has enabled vast sums of money to be pumped into science and the arts, universal education has never been better, care for the elderly has never been better. Are you not aware that people, even in the USA, were dying of starvation 80 years ago, that rickets, poliomyelitis, TB, scarlet fever, diptheria and many more diseases ran practically unchecked 70 years ago. Not only has life expectancy gone up the quality of life has improved beyond all recognition in the WIS since the end of WW2. Less than 100 years ago life for the average person, even in the USA, was brutish beyond our imagination, yet you believe we have a problem we need to solve.

        If the problem is indeed that humans will destroy the planet take note of the fact that there is a human trait to push alarmism, it’s been with us since time immemorial, and since time immemorial the technique of frightening people has been the same. To forecast the commonplace (you know things like hurricanes and tornadoes occurring) and then when they do occur point to the wisdom of the pronouncements and demand a change in behaviour. Even Jesus indulged in it:
        “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” Matthew 24 6-7.

        So please explain exactly what we’re going to solve.

  3. With respect to green energy prospects, the market has already voted. IN the last couple of years it’s been one of the very worst performing sectors. So-called “green” funds have performed miserably.

  4. When someone requests that we apply the “principles of full cost pricing” to energy production imo it seems that they really are just wishing to have their views of what should be done applied to the marketplace. If people were really worried about the supposed harms being created by a particular form of energy production, why would they not simply force the ones doing the harm to remediate the situation?

    • If people were really worried about the supposed harms being created by a particular form of energy production, why would they not simply force the ones doing the harm to remediate the situation?

      I’m worried about harms from different forms of energy production. Apparently, you think that I have the power to “force” “the ones” doing the harm to “remediate the situation.” I am unaware that I had such powers.

      Could you explicate further so I can get started with my forcing remediation?

      • Several big issues here – who defines what is harmful? Who works out the costs? Who works out how it is dealt with? How are the costs allocated. Cf Coase’s analysis – rather than “polluter pays,” how do you determine the optimal distribution of costs and benefits. It won’t be Joshua and me doing it.

      • Here’s an extract from Coase’s The Problem of Social Cost, Journal of Law & Economics, Vol 3 (Oct 1960 (PDF available free from JSTOR).

        II. THE RECIPROCAL NATURE OF THE PROBLEM

        The traditional approach has tended to obscure the nature of the choice that has to be made. The question is commonly thought of as one in which A inflicts harm on B and what has to be decided is: how should we restrain A? But this is wrong. We are dealing with a problem of a reciprocal nature. To avoid the harm to B would inflict harm on A. The real question that has to be decided is: should A be allowed to harm B or should B be allowed to harm A? The problem is to avoid the more serious harm. I instanced in my previous article the case of a confectioner the noise and vibrations from whose machinery disturbed a doctor in his work. To avoid harming the doctor would inflict harm on the confectioner. The problem posed by this case was essentially whether it was worthwhile, as a result of restricting the methods of production which could be used by the confectioner, to secure more doctoring at the cost of a reduced supply of confectionery products. Another example is afforded by the problem of straying cattle which destroy crops on neighbouring land. If it is inevitable that some cattle will stray, an increase in the supply of meat can only be obtained at the expense of a decrease in the supply of crops. The nature of the choice is clear: meat or crops. What answer should be given is, of course, not clear unless we know the value of what is obtained as well as the value of what is sacrificed to obtain it. To give another example, Professor George J. Stigler instances the contamination of a stream. If we assume that the harmful effect of the pollution is that it kills the fish, the question to be decided is: is the value of the fish lost greater or less than the value of the product which the contamination of the stream makes possible. It goes almost without saying that this problem has to be looked at in total and at the margin.

      • Faustino –

        Your excerpt from Coase raises interesting points, but it doesn’t seem to me to be comprehensive/go far enough to be applicable.

        We are comparing the costs and benefits of alternative “A’s” and within that, the differing balances with consideration of the relative costs of harm that comes from protecting the “B’s.”

        To use the examples provided: What are the relative costs of different ways of sourcing sugar (or better yet, the different ways of sourcing sweetener) and sourcing meat (or better yet, as in your case, the different ways of producing protein), and what are, then, the relative costs of protecting the doctors and the farmers? Or, what ways can the product with the polluting run-off from the manufacturing process be made without killing fish?

      • Joshua,

        Is energy production really something you worry about? Of all the things in life to worry on, that seems to be pretty far down the list. So if you really are worried, perhaps that is a sign of how well off you are. That you have the time to worry about something like energy production means you don’t have to worry about a roof over your head, food on your table, a job or source of income, your health, the health of those you care about, and a score of other things in life people have to worry about. I’d suggest worrying about being hit by a bus while crossing the street is time better spent than worrying about how energy production might “harm” you. As someone who has worked in the energy sector, I can assure you that what “harm” you may believe energy production produces, it is far, far outweighed by the benefits it provides. Don’t believe me? Trying making it through a Philadelphia winter with no source of modern energy. Hell, try doing so with a roof covered in solar panels.

      • tim –

        Is energy production really something you worry about?

        Thank you for your concern. I can assure you that I sleep quite well. I would imagine that my worry about energy production is more or less equivalent to the concern of my much beloved “skeptics” over green energy boondoggles.

        We are discussing the merits and demerits of various energy policies.

        Trying making it through a Philadelphia winter with no source of modern energy.

        This statement seems like a non-sequitur w/r/t what I’ve been talking about. I’m not suggesting that anyone should do without energy, but that (1) comparisons between different energy sources be comprehensive and, (2) facile conclusions about how cheap energy = fewer suffering people should be acknowledged. Access to affordable energy is an important element of improving living standards. It does not, however, justify a specious approach to evaluating costs and benefits of different energy sources, and it does not stand apart from other inextricably aspects of development and living standards – as some might have us believe. Along those lines, I recommend:

      • As an individual you have no more power to implement remediation actions than you do to implement taxes under the idea of “Full cost pricing”.

      • Josh,

        I am just going to have to disagree with on the two points you raised above

        1) comparisons between different energy sources be comprehensive and, (2) facile conclusions about how cheap energy = fewer suffering people should be acknowledged.

        My problem with point one is that I am certain your idea of comprehensive differs from mine. Several commenters here have provided a much better explaination than I could as to why the concept of “externality costs” more likely to be a perversion of the concept of cost benefit analysis than an improvement of it. If for no other reason than a truly comprehsive accounting would be so unwieldy as to be impractical.

        As for point two – what is facile about the point of cheap energy benefiting the world’s poor? Is it a comprehensive summary? No, but the relationship exists none the less. In choosing between cheap energy, expensive energy or no energy, there is no contest what people would select.

    • Starkey says “. If people were really worried about the supposed harms being created by a particular form of energy production, why would they not simply force the ones doing the harm to remediate the situation?”

      Well, yes. If someone breaks into my house and steals my TV, then yes, I am entitled to force her to remediate the situation by giving my TV back. The question is, do I do this on my own with my handy Sig Sauer, or do I do it through the government’s police and courts? I prefer a system in which I can do the latter (in other words, I’m not sure I’m as good a shot as the gal who stole my TV). That’s why I included this in my options for full-cost pricing:

      “Still another option is to impose costs on energy producers and users through improved environmental liability rules that protect pollution victims and their property. ”

      In short: I accept the remediation concept as an ideal solution. It is better in ethical respects than a tax, which imposes a disincentive to pollute but does not remediate the situation for the victim. However, I have yet to see a convincing design for a legal system under which it would be practicable to allow victims to claim remediation when the source is concentrated and the victims are widely dispersed.

      • Ed

        People have not forced implementation of remediation actions because they have judged that the benefits of doing so were not worth the costs.

  5. Nuke plants are looking better all the time. Bring on the fast breeders and 4rth Gens!

  6. I find it difficult to find too much to disagree with in the first article. There is often a huge hidden cost, monetary and environmental, to green energy.

    However conservation of energy is all well and good! and as the lowest hanging fruit shouLd be the first and cheapest to be picked, but still requires the generation of power in the first place.

    Locally generated Renewables potentially offer security of supply, something that ought to be kicked high up the order of priorities when it is recognised that many nations supplying energy to us don’t like us. There is in effect a de facto blackmail element as we have to behave ourselves to ensure we don’t antagonise those with the ability to turn off our gas or oil whilst paying Them a fortune for the privilege of supply

    I personally would endorse the idea of a CERN or Apollo type project financed by western nations that would have the sole aim of developing, within ten years, cheap clean and plentiful power sources . In this respect we need horses for courses and a variety of solutions as for example a solar based project is never likely to work that well in northern latitudes especially in winter when it’s most needed. Similarly a solution based on waves or tides is not helpful to countries without a coastline.
    Tonyb

    • TonyB,

      Why do you say:

      Locally generated Renewables potentially offer security of supply, something that ought to be kicked high up the order of priorities when it is recognised that many nations supplying energy to us don’t like us.

      I disagree with that statement. Trying to get renewable energy to provide a secure supply of energy would be extremely expensive – like approaching orders of magnitude more costly than with nuclear and fossil fuels. The whole idea is totally farcical. ‘Zero Carbon Australia – Stationary Energy Plan’ is one of several Australian modeling exercises (assisted by US renewable energy advocate/extremist Mark Jacobson). Here is a critique http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/08/12/zca2020-critique/ by Martin Nicholson and Peter Lang which concludes:

      • The ZCA2020 Stationary Energy Plan has significantly underestimated the cost and timescale required to implement such a plan.
      • Our revised cost estimate is nearly five times higher than the estimate in the Plan: $1,709 billion compared to $370 billion. The cost estimates are highly uncertain with a range of $855 billion to $4,191 billion for our estimate.
      • The wholesale electricity costs would increase nearly 10 times above current costs to $500/MWh, not the $120/MWh claimed in the Plan.
      • The total electricity demand in 2020 is expected to be 44% higher than proposed: 449 TWh compared to the 325 TWh presented in the Plan.
      • The Plan has inadequate reserve capacity margin to ensure network reliability remains at current levels. The total installed capacity needs to be increased by 65% above the proposed capacity in the Plan to 160 GW compared to the 97 GW used in the Plan.
      • The Plan’s implementation timeline is unrealistic. We doubt any solar thermal plants, of the size and availability proposed in the plan, will be on line before 2020. We expect only demonstration plants will be built until there is confidence that they can be economically viable.
      • The Plan relies on many unsupported assumptions, which we believe are invalid; two of the most important are:
      o A quote in the Executive Summary “The Plan relies only on existing, proven, commercially available and costed technologies.”
      o Solar thermal power stations with the performance characteristics and availability of baseload power stations exist now or will in the near future.

      If we want energy security, by far the best way is with nuclear power. We can store enough energy in a stock pile the size of the coal stock pile at a coal power station to provide all the USA’s electricity for decades in current (Gen 3) reactors or potentially for thousands of years in breeder reactors (I guessed these numbers, but you get the idea). Uranium is easy to transport (the quantities are very small) and easy to store. We can store many years of a countries entire energy demand in a small space. That is what provided energy security.

      • Peter

        The operative word was ‘potentially,’

        At one time we could ‘ potentially’ go to the moon and that was eventually made reality through a concerted effort. Security of supply is a huge benefit but needs to be combined with cheapness. I say all that above but don’t disagree with the notion of nuclear , it’s just that the time for that has likely passed bearing in mind the reaction to the problems in Japan and that environmentalists largely dislike this power source
        Tonyb

      • TonyB,

        You can’t get cheapness with renewable energy. There are physical constraints – diffuse energy, huge resource requirements, enormous transmission costs. It’s just not possible. Do the cost estimates yourself.

        I say all that above but don’t disagree with the notion of nuclear …

        “All of the above” has been an argument to keep subsidising and mandating renewables and keep blocking development of nuclear for 30 years. It is an argument to continue blocking progress. Renewables cannot make any significant contribution. We need to face up to that. Do the calculations.

        … it’s just that the time for that has likely passed bearing in mind the reaction to the problems in Japan and that environmentalists largely dislike this power source

        That argument is not rational. You are arguing that we should not progress with rational policy because the population has an irrational fear of nuclear. That does not make sense.

        By the way, Japan will quickly restart it nuclear plants now that they have just elected a conservative government with a massive majority and pro nuclear policy platform.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: You can’t get cheapness with renewable energy. There are physical constraints – diffuse energy, huge resource requirements, enormous transmission costs. It’s just not possible. Do the cost estimates yourself.

        Actually, you can’t get cheapness with any energy. The physical constraints that you cite apply to everything. Coal, for example, is distributed far from where most people use it, and it has to be transported long distances by rail and cargo ships. That transportation is quite unreliable during wartime, strikes, and other civil strife. The same applies to most oil.

        The fundamental question is not: What are the costs now? The fundamental question is: What will the costs be after continued R&D? And the question has to be asked and answered for all localities and all energy sources and all purposes individually. Consider electricity for pumping irrigation water in the Imperial Valley: already, the least costly source may be solar power, where output from solar panels is proportional to the need for the electricity. Or consider electricity for schools near Tucson Arizona: need is mostly for daytime, sun is plentiful, and public schools are being constructed with solar panels because that seems to be the cheapest source of electricity for daytime use.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Peter Lang said:

        “You can’t get cheapness with renewable energy.”
        _____
        Pure and utter nonsense. Renewable energy can in fact be the least expensive of all forms, and the cheapest of all is local renewable energy. This issue become one of energy paradigms. Where green energy fails is trying to force it into a centralized “big energy” model, both in terms of distribution and final use. We currently design our cities and towns and houses and office buildings based on the rather poor notion of a centralized power distribution system that feeds a power-hungry mass of users. Green renewable energy works best on a completely reverse paradigm. Decentralized and very energy efficient is the paradigm that works. But this must begin from the very way we design our homes. You can reduce the per-foot energy cost to both heat and cool your home tremendously just by the correct design from the very start. Many people in the U.S. are realizing that their energy-hog McMansions were built on the wrong paradigm. But some have wised up and sold their ball-an-chain to downsize to a small, greener, true energy efficient home that can be powered nearly entirely from local (on site) renewable power (active solar, small wind turbine, and passive solar).

      • Gates,

        Renewable energy can in fact be the least expensive of all forms, and the cheapest of all is local renewable energy.

        This is pure and utter nonsense. Please substantiate your assertions with proper cost comparisons. Here is an example:
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

      • Matthew R Marler

        Actually, you can’t get cheapness with any energy. The physical constraints that you cite apply to everything.

        Cheapness is a relative term. Nuclear and fossil fuels are much cheaper than renewables. Renewables are unlikely to ever be able to compete for the reasons explained in previous comments (diffuse energy, unreliable, require and order of magnitude more materials than nuclear for the same energy output, need very expensive transmission to link disperse sources, need high cost storage or backup generators). Conversely, the cost of nuclear can come down enormously. the costs are inflated because of regulatory constraints, not by physical limits. These can be removed. Nuclear fuel is 20,000 to 2 million times denser than fossil fuels. For that reason, there is enormous potential to reduce the costs. It is also far safer than fossil fuels (http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html) so there is also enormous room to progress with more appropriate regulatory framework.

      • This is a point where I largely agree with Peter Lang. The assumed virtues of small scale decentralized production are politically popular but lack real merit in most cases. The cost of distribution of more electric power is rather small when a grid connection is present at all. For most forms of electricity production the better efficiency of larger units outweighs significantly the transmission losses. Capacity utilization is typically much worse in in distributed production and that adds significantly to the capital cost which is usually significantly higher even without this factor.

        Similar factors affect also other forms of energy than electricity when alternatives are available.

        There are cases where distributed production is competitive but this is an issue where serious misconceptions are widely spread.

      • Pekka,,

        Thanks. There’s probably more we agree on than disagree on. [as an aside, I like your article on the IPCC on your web site].

        Figure 7 here compares the cost of the additional transmission that would be required for a near zero carbon emissions electricity grid in Australia (for four scenarios of mixed renewables and gas generation and mostly nuclear and gas generation). The additional cost of transmissions for ‘mostly nuclear’ would be about 10% of the additional cost of transmission for ‘mostly renewables’.

      • Pekka,

        Sorry, here is the link: http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf
        See Figure 7.

      • Pekka said

        Capacity utilization is typically much worse in in distributed production and that adds significantly to the capital cost which is usually significantly higher even without this factor.

        This is true and is a much greater factor than most people think. Here is an excellent example. A 50 kW solar array in Queanbeyan, NSW, a town with a population of 20,000, has a capacity factor of just 0.75% on some days in winter. It has a capacity factor of just 9% for 3 months of winter. To overcome this, and get sufficient power to meet demand on the worst case days you would need to over build the capacity by more than an order of magnitude. That increases the capital cost and cost of electricity by over an order of magnitude. Wind suffers the same issue of long periods of no wind over a very large area. The cost of storage would be enormous. To reduce these problems the renewable energy generators have to be widely dispersed (across a continent). the transmissions costs are huge.

        This explains the situation for the Queanbeyan solar farm output: http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/

      • Peter Lang

        Very interesting study you made.

        It shows that nuclear power is the most economical even if no CO2 abatement charge is included, if I understood the figures right.

        I have seen a study comparing coal and nuclear, with no carbon tax, which also showed that nuclear was cost competitive for most European locations.

        I don’t know about Australia, but the problem in much of Europe is a fear in the general public of nuclear power, which has led politicians to be anti-nuclear. I realize that this fear is irrational, that it was caused by green lobby groups, such as WWF and Greenpeace, but it is a political reality today.

        In the USA the problem is the regulatory maze and the legal system, itself. It used to be said that all it takes to stop a new nuclear plant in the USA is two frightened housewives and a lawyer – and I don’t think that has changed much.

        How can nuclear power get rid of this albatross in your opinion?

        Max

      • Right now it’s difficult to tell what’s the cost of nuclear plants. To plants that I know about are being constructed in Europe, one in France and another in Finland. In both cases the costs have escalated badly. AREVA made an turnkey deal with the Finnish company TVO for about 3 billion euro, the most recent estimate for the real cost is 8.5 billion. The situation is about the same for the plant being constructed in France.

        Some part of the escalation is due to additional requirements but that’s not the main reason, which is more in several failures in fulfilling the requirements of original specifications for a plant that is in many ways a new type.

        If and when more power plants of the same concept are built, the costs will fall but few are willing to bet on the extent of this reduction.

        Japanese and South Korean companies may presently perform better than AREVA, but again making reliable cost estimates is very difficult.

      • Easy Max, have zombie mobs mobilized by twitter alert every time there’s a brownout on the grid.
        ==============

      • Pekka Pirila,

        You raise a number of points about the cost of nuclear power.

        Simply pointing out that the two new EPR’s bewing constructed in Europe are running over cost, without providing proper perspective, is not constructive, IMO. I suggest you should acknowledge that it is still the least cost low emissions option for the amount of energy required. What alternative do you have that can provide 14,000 GWh of electricity per year, on demand, reliably and emissions free for 60 years? Wind farms? Solar panels? Biomass?

        The Areva EPRs are running over cost as you say. There are many reasons. Some of the most important are:

        • Nuclear construction has been virtually halted in Europe for about two decades. Much of the corporate knowledge has dissipated. It cannot be rebuilt quickly. This effect of this was underestimated.

        • The EPR is a new design. There is no experience with it. And it is a monster at 1.6 GW. And it is unnecessarily over engineered compared with other designs around. It’s a typical example of European over-egging and therefore uncompetitive.

        • The contract was signed before the design was complete.

        • The regulator is inexperienced and has been a significant cause of the delays and cost overruns.

        The Korean and Chinese NPPs are much cheaper (labour costs are only a small part of the reason. The main reason is the greatly reduced investor risk premium).

        The latest and from my perspective the best comparison of technology costs is here: http://bree.gov.au/documents/publications/aeta/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf. (see Table 5.2.2, p87 for example). There is a lot to understand in the basis for the figures. The report is well worth reading. It is the latest in a series of reports since 2009 that have all been excellent and each has been a significant improvement on the previous one. (remember, to make the costs for renewables comparable to the baseload technologies, you need to allow for additional costs for back up, transmission and higher grid costs for frequency control, etc.).

        Also see capital costs for plants listed at the bottom of this: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf02.html

        However, these monster plants are not the way forward for the world, IMO. Their market is restricted to the large countries and large grids. What we need if we want to replace fossil fuels globally are small, modular, factory built plants. We need units of equivalent size to of gas turbines, like this small nuclear design that NRC has just selected to take through to commercialisation: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/20/obama-doe-fund-modular-nuclear-reactors/1717843/

        Here is how we could get to low cost nuclear:

        We need as much competition as possible. Competition improves the technology and reduces costs. Wee need competition from companies in the manufacturing countries – USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, China. Korea, Japan – building small modular nuclear power plants on production lines like aircraft. Small is essential for several reasons:

        a. only small power plants can fit easily into most electricity grids around the world
        b. small units can be ordered ‘just in time’, once demand is assured
        c. small can be constructed and installed quickly, thus reducing investor risks
        d. small can be built in factories, shipped to site, returned to factory for refuelling
        e. small can be manufactured on production lines like aircraft, turned out rapidly and with good quality control
        f. small leads to faster rate of improvement because more are manufactured and lessons learned are built into the next model more quickly.
        g. More competition between more manufacturers leads to faster rate of improvement

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: Renewables are unlikely to ever be able to compete for the reasons explained in previous comments (diffuse energy, unreliable, require and order of magnitude more materials than nuclear for the same energy output, need very expensive transmission to link disperse sources, need high cost storage or backup generators).

        Of course I knew that cheapness was comparative. What will actually be cheaper 20 years hence will depend on investment, use, locality, and other factors. I am not a critic of nuclear power, merely a critic of people who purport to know exactly what the relative costs of all the options will be for every purpose in 20 years.

      • Manacker,

        I’m sorry, I’ve only just seen your comment from a week ago. As an aside to Judith if she is seeing this comment, this is one of my main arguments for having no nesting. Instead, all other comments to be posted in order. Readers can come back and catch on the thread from where they left off.]

        Max, you asked:

        How can nuclear power get rid of this albatross in your opinion?

        It can be a very long slow process as has been going on for decades (with more backward steps that forward steps which has caused nuclear’s share of world electricity generation to decline from 18% to 13%). Or it could be quite rapid, e.g. a decade in the western democracies.

        I think the fastest way would involve leadership by one person and certain groups:

        1. US President becomes a strong advocate for nuclear power (jobs, lower cost power, provide the technology for the whole world, save the world).

        2. Environmental NGOs become strong advocates of nuclear power (justified on whatever basis suits their agenda).

        The next step, IMO, is to remove the regulatory impediments, especially in the USA because the US NRC is the default world regulator of nuclear power plant designs.

      • @Peter Lang: What alternative do you have that can provide 14,000 GWh of electricity per year, on demand, reliably and emissions free for 60 years?

        For the benefit of those more accustomed to watts than GWh/yr as a unit of power, a plant capable of delivering 14,000 GWh/yr is a plant averaging 1.6 GW.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        Yes, I made a typo. I meant to write 13,000 MWh per year. More accurately I would have written 12,600 GWh per year.

        It is important to make the distinction between the nameplate capacity (power) of the plant and the amount of energy it can supply per year. A 1.6 GW nuclear power plant would be expected to provide about 12,600 GWh/year for 60 years.

        This contrasts with what 1.6 GW of solar PV (or wind or solar thermal) would provide. Solar PV would cost more per W than the nuclear plant and provide about 7% the amount of energy (2500 GWh/year for perhaps 20 years, but probably considerably less than that on average).
        Nuclear plant supplies 750,000
        Solar PV supplies 50,000 GWh over 20 year life for $6/W

        For less cost, nuclear power plant supplies 15 times more power.

        See the reason for writing the amount of energy per year, instead of the average power?

      • @Peter Lang: It is important to make the distinction between the nameplate capacity (power) of the plant and the amount of energy it can supply per year.

        Agreed. This is why I wrote “average power” and not “nameplate power.” Depending on the technology these can be very different things. By “average power” I mean “amount of energy supplied per year.”

    • “I personally would endorse the idea of a CERN or Apollo type project financed by western nations that would have the sole aim of developing, within ten years, cheap clean and plentiful power sources.”

      Two suggestions. Methane Hydrates. Space.
      Space is cheaper.

      • gbaikie,

        Why do you ignore the one that has already been developed – nuclear power? We don’t need the massive program you suggest if we remove the impediments that are blocking it. They impediments have been imposed for irrational reasons.

        Why should we continue with the impediments that make nuclear uneconomic for most of the world?

      • gbaikie | December 17, 2012 at 7:42 pm said: ”“I personally would endorse Methane Hydrates”

        Howdy gbaikie; do you know that: every molecule of methane burned -> turns 4 atoms of free oxygen from the atmosphere into water + CO2 / CH4 + 4O = 2H2 + CO2!

        We have plenty water in the sea, BUT, we need all the oxygen, where it is. Oxygen when warmed -> goes up and shuttles the extra heat, to waste it. b] oxygen in part of the earth’s insulation system; keeps the unlimited coldness in the stratosphere of coming close to the ground at night – less oxygen in the troposphere = more extreme climate.

        sorry guys, I forgot that for you oxygen & nitrogen don’t exist…(you can leave without food for 3 weeks, you can’t leave without oxygen for 6minutes. less oxygen makes dumb people, because human brains is big user of it. Can you calculate: how much oxygen is permanently turned into water in those big flames on every oil rig?!Merry Christmas my friend, gbaikie!!!

      • “Why do you ignore the one that has already been developed – nuclear power? We don’t need the massive program you suggest if we remove the impediments that are blocking it. ”

        Because the subject was, climatereason: “I personally would endorse the idea of a CERN or Apollo type project financed by western nations”

        Whereas I rather not having government much involved in nuclear power, except I do want their involvement in managing government bureaucracies, to ensure private enterprises are must likely successful.
        And this isn’t something like a CERN or Apollo type project.
        Instead would be challenging, as it is mostly something government is does poorly- which is allow markets little hindrance by government.
        I would also like this same approach taken in regard opening the space frontier, but in addition also something vaguely like CERN or Apollo type project, being applied to space exploration. And Methane Hydrate exploration and development. Let’s say, CERN or Apollo were 20th century government projects, and I want 21st Century government projects.
        I should like to point out that CERN or Apollo were sold to public as exploration type projects. And the public is fond of the government doing exploration type projects.

      • “gbaikie | December 17, 2012 at 7:42 pm said: ”“I personally would endorse Methane Hydrates”

        Howdy gbaikie; do you know that: every molecule of methane burned -> turns 4 atoms of free oxygen from the atmosphere into water + CO2 / CH4 + 4O = 2H2 + CO2!

        We have plenty water in the sea, BUT, we need all the oxygen, where it is. Oxygen when warmed -> goes up and shuttles the extra heat, to waste it. b] oxygen in part of the earth’s insulation system; keeps the unlimited coldness in the stratosphere of coming close to the ground at night – less oxygen in the troposphere = more extreme climate.”

        The above is not a direct quote of what I said, but it’s close enough in terms what I meant.
        The way I look at 2H2 + CO2! Is one getting more energy with less CO2.
        Which is not a huge priority for me, except the public likes the idea of reducing CO2, and have certainly proven it, by wasting hundreds of billions of dollars supposedly for the purpose doing this [and utterly failing to do this].
        So I believe the public should given what it wants, instead being lied to.
        Yeah, it’s a strange and kinky idea.

        As for your idea regarding possible shortages of O2.
        You might ahead of the wave in terms of latest public nonsense.

      • gbaikie | December 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm said: ” except the public likes the idea of reducing CO2”

        What the public has being told -> that’s what the public likes. BUT, if the public is told the truth? ::
        1] extra CO2 is better for the crops / trees. now are 7billion people, need more food / wood

        2] CO2 is washed in the sea -> coral, algae, sea-grass collect it -> keep the carbon for themselves, release the oxygen in the water, for the fish. After, that coral, algae dead, is covered by sediments and carbon cemented on the bottom for millions of years. b] all the organic matter washed into the sea; from the sewage, from the hills – big part of it is covered by sediments; those things are made from carbon.

        On the other hand: those flames on every oil rig are permanently burning / every minute, every individual flame turns 2000 – 5000m3 of oxygen into water. Oxygen is NOT only for your lungs. oxygen as part of the horizontal / vertical winds are cooling the planet + prevent excessive cooling at night. less of it = more extreme climate.

        If the public knows the truth; crimes can be prevented.

      • One more thing about this, “Why do you ignore the one that has already been developed – nuclear power?”

        Part of why you have technology of portable nukes, is due to space exploration. Though larger part would be due to military spending- which also involves space stuff..

      • We already have a CERN/APOOLO program for energy.

        It’s called the GEN IV nuclear initiative. The problem is that all materials proposed to be used in a nuclear reactor have to be put into a neutron bombardment chamber and “aged’ long enough to determine the long term characteristics. I.E. Does the material get brittle and crack after 20 years etc etc etc.

        That all takes time.

        One could argue that the space shuttle program was an exercise in finding materials that could withstand the high temperatures of re-entry without degrading. Unfortunately it wasn’t as successful as many had hoped.

        If we look at current generation commercial nuclear reactors,premature heat exchanger degradation has been an issue and continues to be an issue. (IMHO A manageable issue, but an issue).

        If we look at past failed attempts to commercialize other then light water reactors heat exchanger problems were high on the list of problems.

        The Chinese have a 200MW High Temperature Gas Reactor under construction.

        http://www.iaea.org/NuclearPower/Downloadable/Meetings/2012/2012-10-22-10-26-WS-NPTD/Day-1/5.Dong.pdf

        If it ends up working as hoped fossil fuel fired power plants could go the way of horse drawn carriages. It’s too soon to know.

      • Harry said, “It’s called the GEN IV nuclear initiative. The problem is that all materials proposed to be used in a nuclear reactor have to be put into a neutron bombardment chamber and “aged’ long enough to determine the long term characteristics. I.E. Does the material get brittle and crack after 20 years etc etc etc.”

        Yep, it is a long complex process and it does need to be a long complex process. That is a large advantage for the small modular reactors, less decay energy, smaller investment, proven LWR experience in military applications, up-gradable to more complex fuel configurations, even Thorium/breeder mixes. GEN III + is available while the future is uncertain.

        The problem is linear no threshold thinking that paralyzes progress.

      • harry,

        My dad was involved in development of instrument control systems for the gas cooled nuclear generation design. The single gas cooled commercial plant – Fort St Vrain – had a significant design flaw. They placed much of the supporting equipment inside containment, making it difficult to maintain.

        I agree that the issue with steam generator tubing is a managable one – assuming you don’t mismanage it as was done at San Onofre. Had the steam generators been replaced at Trojan Nuclear Plant, the cost would have been recouped in 6 months during the Enron generated increase in electrical rates back in the late 90’s. Without it, the operating utility has one of the highest rates in the NW.

        Personally, I favored the 2 loop 600 MW design – used in places like Prairie Island and Kewanee. I believe that was the design the French standardized. I also like several of the smaller sized pwr designs currently available, but not yet on order.

      • “gbaikie | December 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm said: ” except the public likes the idea of reducing CO2”

        What the public has being told -> that’s what the public likes. BUT, if the public is told the truth? ::
        1] extra CO2 is better for the crops / trees. now are 7billion people, need more food / wood.”

        But there is some limit to how much CO2 you want in the atmosphere- not because it suppose to warm the planet.

        Suppose CO2 does warm the planet. Suppose people weren’t so fond of all this ice we have and therefore wanted a warmer planet.
        Suppose it required global CO2 level 2000 ppm to get the warmth that most people wanted.
        I would against the idea of increasing the CO2 levels to 2000 ppm.
        I don’t care that much about feeding plants, nor do think increasing the amount wood is that important.

        And I think if we want to get rid of all this useless ice, there better ways of doing that if that is wanted. And better ways of warming this frozen planet.

        Of course the far more important issue is having a abundant supply energy. Instead the bonehead, supposedly “progressive” idea of desiring higher costs of energy. Btw, I think anything more “unprogressive” other than their general desire for a more totalitarian government. As in how stupid can you get stuff. It’s so unprogressive that Stalin is spinning in his grave- and he merely pretended he was progressive [syn- socialist].

        Now, only reasonable conclusion why socialist/”progressive” gave up
        on idea generating more wealth for everyone is that the socialist/”progressive” is mostly inherently perverse in their nature. Their constantly lying has turn them upside down.
        Plus, their tendency to be cowards.
        So, when faced with idea that there some energy shortage, they ducked and weaved until reached idea that they needed to have an energy shortage.
        But now we are facing world with natural gas all over the place and which can cheaply mined- obviously this must pretty confusing for the dingbats.

        Fortunately, for these poor confused dingbats, they have leadership of certifiable lefty credentials, a Berkley professor, who may have enough courage to lead them to the promised land.

    • Tony, besides endorsing Peter Lang’s comments, I’m surprised that after all these years of the IPCC, for example, you say that: “I personally would endorse the idea of a CERN or Apollo type project financed by western nations.” If I were looking for innovative, cost-effective solutions to a problem, this is the last approach I would take. I would ensure that it was undertaken on a free market basis by people with skin in the game, not endless taxpayer funding and tenured positions. The profit motive concentrates the mind wonderfully, and in market ventures time is money.

      • Faustino

        My only point was that collectively we are likely to achieve more than individually.

        Would a prroject like CERN be funded by private enterprise and is any(western) nation likely to create a project like Apollo?

        I can’t think of any private enterprise companies willing to sink hundreds of billions into a project such as ‘hopefully’ discovering a useable power supply a long way down the line that will be cheap and plentful.

        I can see the sea outside my window and suspect that for many (but not all) nations it holds many of the answers to our power needs but the amount of private funding of the necessary technology is tiny.

        35 years after the Salter duck we have barely progressed, so private funding is preferable but it isnt happening at present
        tonyb

      • TonyB,

        If we want to achieve the goal of decarbonising energy, by far the best way would be to get the public sector out of the way and let the private sector get on with it. No need for an Apollo or CERN type project. It is not necessary. In fact it would be exactly the wrong approach. What the US President needs to do to allow this to happen is to remove the blocks.

        Consider the rate of production of other large complex items.

        – New passenger aircraft: 1600 per year (single isle, twin isle and large)
        http://active.boeing.com/commercial/forecast_data/index.cfm

        – The US ramped up production of aircraft carriers over 18 months in 1942-43 so it was producing them in 100 days. That is from first work to complete and fully loaded with aircraft and weapons. That was what one country could do 70 years ago.

        What rate of production could commercial enterprises in USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, China, Korea and Japan achieve if the market was there for small plants like these (they fit on the back of a semi trailer)? http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/26/nuclear-small-modular-reactors/1727001/

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: Consider the rate of production of other large complex items.

        I liked your examples. Consider also the explosive growth in the manufacture of personal computers just in the last generation, and the dramatic reductions in price. Such great increases in scale and power of production could be achieved with nuclear, solar, wind, biofuels, coal-to-liquid (with sequestration and use of the pollutants as raw materials), natural gas (including methane hydrates.) I prefer continued R&D in all of them, and I disbelieve assertions as to which sources will actually have lower total costs 20 years from now.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Peter Lang said:

        “- The US ramped up production of aircraft carriers over 18 months in 1942-43 so it was producing them in 100 days. That is from first work to complete and fully loaded with aircraft and weapons. That was what one country could do 70 years ago.”

        With massive government assistance and coordination.

      • In my parents generation, there is a disturbing belief that, since government put a person on the moon just by decreeing it so (and spending tons of money), that government can do anything. Therefore, in their mind, the government can decree that we have batteries that are good enough for electric cars (for example) and it will be so.

        However, there is a drastic difference in government decrees core government functions such as military matters (and let’s face it, that’s what NASA was all about), and their ability to end hunger, poverty, etc by likewise decreeing its end. One of the reasons I no longer count myself as a “liberal” is that liberals have one answer for everything — a massive, powerful, expensive, intrusive government program, at the highest possible level of government. And as a government employee, I can assure you, there is nothing magical about government to fix those issues by decree, no matter how big and powerful and massive and expensive the program.

      • “The Skeptical Warmist | December 19, 2012 at 9:27 am |

        Peter Lang said:

        “- The US ramped up production of aircraft carriers over 18 months in 1942-43 so it was producing them in 100 days. That is from first work to complete and fully loaded with aircraft and weapons. That was what one country could do 70 years ago.”

        With massive government assistance and coordination.”

        “1939 $673,792,000
        1940 $1,137,608,000
        1941 $4,465,684,000
        1942 $21,149,323,000
        1943 $31,043,134,000
        1944 $21,796,913,000
        1945 $29,190,924,000
        1946 $24,171,930,000
        1947 $4,647,136,000
        1948 $3,693,256,000″
        http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/budget.htm

    • Then there is the idea of an X prize – a substantial award to be granted to the first person or organization to achieve a specified measurable set of target goals for producing cheap, plentiful energy within whatever safety, environmental, etc., constraints. Let competition by those who have the right stuff to tackle that problem go at it, at their own expense unless they are successful (and first).

  7. What chance has “Lab Meat” given the reaction to anything/everything GM

  8. First, it would be worth putting even more emphasis on the need for a policy that mandates full cost pricing, including environmental costs, for all forms of energy.

    True in theory, sort of. But why single out just energy?

    Some issues are:

    External costs need to be internalised for all industries, not just energy. If not then we cause massive distortions in the economy

    External costs need to be internalised uniformly throughout the world. Otherwise we cause massive trade and currency distortions.

    It’s extremely difficult in practice. We’ve been discussing how to do this and making little progress since at least 1980.

    The failure of the UN climate conferences provides clear evidence of how difficult this is in practice.

    Anyway, it is not necessary. There is a far better way. It is the opposite of applying more regulations. It is to remove many of the distorting regulations we’ve applied in the past – e.g. mandating and subsidising renewable energy and regulating nuclear to the point it is around 10 times more costly that it possible could and should be.

    • The whole idea of externalities is fuzzy; cf the Coase quote above. Alleged externalities are often used as a rationale for interventionist policies, e.g. to support R&D and innovation or subsidised tertiary education, when many firm- or industry-level studies have shown that the gains are largely internalised by innovators and their clients, or accrue to those subsidised rather than having broad societal benefits. [I studied this extensively but don't have sources to hand.] The kind of studies done by Australia’s excellent Productivity Commission and its predecessors are often the best way to get information in such cases (which is why the current Australian government ostracises it).

      The situation is also complicated, as someone mentioned, by the global economy, where for example a poorer country such as China will bear the external costs of industry in order to compete in export markets. That’s its choice, if the US, say, wants all externalities costed and accounted for, how would it deal with this? Insist that China adopts higher standards rather than make its own decisions, and impose externality-tariffs if it doesn’t? Many cans of worms here, perhaps a good field for anglers.

      • Faustino,

        Thank you for the excellent comments. You are far more knowledgeable about this than I am so I greatly appreciate your comments.

        [As an aside, I fear the Productivity Commission may be about to be seriously compromised. I understand the most likely new permanent head (5 year appointment) is the current head of the Department of Climate Change. That would be atrociously bad if it happens. I hope you can use your influence to let important people know the message that making such an appointment would be seriously damaging to the Productivity Commission's reputation and authority. We've already had the previous head of Department of Climate Change moved to be head of Treasury. It seems the Department of Climate Change is being used by this government as the training ground for the Heads of the most important economic departments in the Australian Government.

        Regarding 'seriously damaging', Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Energy Economics (ABARE) had an excellent international reputation for 60 years. This year it was merged into the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism. It is now a government department telling the Minister what he wants to hear. Yes, I know they say they have an independent Board. But they are not independent. I can point to very clear evidence of that; for example numerous examples of what has happened to the data that used to be freely available as Excel downloads, the new glossy reports that are all spin and no substance and the new AETA report. Many examples. We should really do whatever we can to prevent anything like this happening to the Productivity Commission. I hope you agree and can use your influence to stop it before it is too late.]

      • Peter @ 11.55: I have no influence! Parkinson was highly-regarded in Treasury and I think was ear-marked as successor to Henry when he went to Climate Change. I think it will be difficult to make a good assessment of him until we see him work with a Coalition government. I don’t know enough about the new PC head to comment, though the current government which loathes the PC tends to make compliant appointments.

        By comparison, I thought that ABARE (some time ago) was over-staffed, and the staff often lacked “street smarts” and productivity compared to those at the IC/PC and EPAC; it tended to be more academic. But the more independent such bodies can be, the better.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Peter Lang: It is to remove many of the distorting regulations we’ve applied in the past – e.g. mandating and subsidising renewable energy and regulating nuclear to the point it is around 10 times more costly that it possible could and should be.

      I agree with the main thrust there: better and reduced regulation. But some subsidies prove to be productive (roads, engines), some subsidies are militarily useful (fuel, solar power, engines and metallurgy), and some regulations are necessary (for example, to assign responsibility for irresponsibility in construction, which plague every industry and always will.)

      The US supplies electricity to its facilities in Afghanistan. Perhaps the whole Afghanistan deployment is a mistake, but in the meantime electricity from solar is cheaper than electricity from diesel fuel.

      • Matthew Miller,

        The US supplies electricity to its facilities in Afghanistan. Perhaps the whole Afghanistan deployment is a mistake, but in the meantime electricity from solar is cheaper than electricity from diesel fuel.

        Yes, there are a few cases where renewables have a role to play, such as far from a grid with reliable power supply. But you need to deal with the 995 not the 1%.

        Can I urge you to look at this: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: thank you for the link. I read Brave New Climate regularly.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: But you need to deal with the 995 not the 1%.

        1% sometimes becomes 2% and more (think transoceanic air travel, or cell phones.) You are saying in this case you know it won’t, and I am saying that it might.

      • Matthew Marler,

        1% sometimes becomes 2% and more (think transoceanic air travel, or cell phones.) You are saying in this case you know it won’t, and I am saying that it might.

        You can’t develop rational policy like that. David Mackay in his book “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” says the objective of his book is to “reduce the emissions of twaddle”. One bit of twaddle he talks about is the argument that “every little bit helps”. This is an argument to fosuc on small bits and miss focus on the bog bits. He says, the focus on “every little bit helps” is distracting us from what we should focus on: i.e. “every big bit helps”.

        Another way of saying it is to apply the Pareto Principle (often called the 80%:20% rule). That is deal first with the issues that if addressed will fix 80% of the problem than move to the next issue in descending order of priority.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: You can’t develop rational policy like that.

        Every rational policy has to promote diversity.

        I did not, by the way, say that 1% will necessarily become 2%. I said that 1% will not necessarily stay 1%, and the fact of its being 1% is a very poor basis for rational planning.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Peter Lang said:

        “Yes, there are a few cases where renewables have a role to play,”

        Far more than a few. A century from now the idea of burning coal or oil will seem archaic and fission unnecessary. It will all be renewable, cheap, and readily available. Solar energy will be the energy of human civilization as we rely on the fusion power plant that we’ve had for billions of years and tap into it’s energy with amazing efficiency. It will be local and green and renewable. Big central power plants will seem as absurd as a central power plant for a philodendron. Every home and business will supply its own energy and any excess will be feed to a smart grid. Even now technicians in labs the world over are nearly giddy with the exciting breakthroughs they see close at hand in artificial photosynthesis. Copy this blog post down.

      • Solar energy will be the energy of human civilization
        And what if you’re wrong? And if you are correct, at what cost? What evidence do you have of this?

        I mention earlier that I find it disturbing that Apollo-influenced liberals believe that government can decree that anything is so, and it will be so. I daily experience a high level of government failure and mediocrity in my job. BTW, weren’t such predictions made about “the end of the century” meaning 12 years ago? Weren’t we supposed to have colonies on the moon by now?

        So yeah, like so many other predictions from the global warming crowd, I’m writing this down. And I intend on haunting every last one of ‘em, asking them about their predictions, in the coming years — especially if they went out of their way to be derisive and dismissive and made money from the thing (not saying that you do, but many in fact do).

      • “The Skeptical Warmist | December 19, 2012 at 9:49 am |

        Peter Lang said:

        “Yes, there are a few cases where renewables have a role to play,”

        Far more than a few. A century from now the idea of burning coal or oil will seem archaic and fission unnecessary. It will all be renewable, cheap, and readily available. Solar energy will be the energy of human civilization as we rely on the fusion power plant that we’ve had for billions of years and tap into it’s energy with amazing efficiency. It will be local and green and renewable. Big central power plants will seem as absurd as a central power plant for a philodendron. Every home and business will supply its own energy and any excess will be feed to a smart grid. Even now technicians in labs the world over are nearly giddy with the exciting breakthroughs they see close at hand in artificial photosynthesis. Copy this blog post down.”

        If the solar energy comes from space I agree.
        And no reason why people could own some of the solar panels
        that they get the power from.
        Better to own a solar panel in the sky than on your roof.
        Solar energy transmitted, globally day or night- and whether one
        is in a hurricane or not. And same signal could be your internet
        connection.
        No need of wires. No need of gasoline. But probably have still them,
        as people still ride horses.

  9. First, it would be worth putting even more emphasis on the need for a policy that mandates full cost pricing, including environmental costs, for all forms of energy.

    Indeed.

    Let’s hear it for full-cost analysis. I fail to see how anyone can reach conclusions with any reasonable measure of certainty w/o such an attempt. I don’t think that any conclusions w/r/t the advisability of subsidizing non-fossil fuel energy can be reached without full-cost accounting (on all forms of energy). And environmental cost is an important element, of course, but so are a wide-range of other “costs” such as impact on human health, impact on wealth equality, and the full-range political and economic costs associated with various energy sources.

    And along those lines:

    When you count toxic sludge from making solar panels, noise from windmills placed too close to residential areas, or changes in land use patterns from cultivating biofuel crops, you find that alternative energy has negative externalities of its own that offset its low-carbon benefits at least in part, and sometimes entirely.

    How do you determine whether the externalities of non-fossil fuel energy offset the externalities of fossil fuels if you don’t freakin’ do a full-cost analysis of the externalities of fossil fuels?

    • Agreed, see my other comments.

    • There have been many attempts for estimating external costs of various energy production alternatives. The most extensive effort so far is probably the EU project ExternE.

      I was involved with that project for a few years and participated in several project meetings where I discussed with many of the core authors. A lot of data was collected but no definitive results could be obtained. Some of the findings were clearly nonsensical like the one that indicated that the external cost of coal use in the former German Democratic Republic caused a damage equal to something like the quarter of the country and mainly within its borders. It’s too obvious that the population did not loose a quarter of its well-being trough the damage caused by use of coal (mainly lignite).

      That example and how it was reached told about the impossibility of determining some of the crucial input coefficients. It may have been changed at a later stage but whether it is or is not the fundamental problem remains.

      Estimating the external costs through global warming turned out to be so difficult that these costs were excluded at least at the time I was participating. It was just stated that they cannot be expressed as monetary equivalent.

      The idea of total costing or applying Pigouvian taxes is theoretically sound but largely impossible to put properly in practice except in some exceptional cases.

      I have stated it before that one of the problems is that one can err only 100% down from the right level of such of a tax but there are no upper limits on the relative error.

      • Pekka –

        If you can’t estimate externalities (positive and negative) then you have no basis for choosing (and supporting economically through tax breaks, through military spending, through resultant medical costs, through environmental damage, etc.) one energy source over another for any reason other than the differences in lobbying power.

        When someone says that subsidizing alternative energy is not economically supported (as compared to fossil fuel energy), they are implicitly quantifying the existing externalities of fossil fuel use (as well as projecting assumptions about the externalities of alternative energy sources).

        So in the end what we have is status quo; policy is determined by lobbying power (most strongly influenced by the energy, defense, and big ag industries and secondarily influenced by other lobbies such as environmental lobbies). That is what it is. But arguing that full costing is either infeasible or biased does not validate arguments that negative externalities don’t exist, or even more illogically, are counterbalanced by positive externalities. It is undeniable that they exist – and you can’t determine if they are counterbalanced if you haven’t quantified them.

      • Joshua,

        The inability of estimating properly the externalities is a dilemma, as it leaves open the possibility of rather large externalities. it’s, however, a fact that most estimates are seriously inaccurate, not by some percents but by a sizable factor, and decisions must be made without that information.

        The analyses of the type the ExternE project produced do at least list most of the significant effects. There remain uncertainties in the actual damages and the actual damages vary widely from case to case even for the same basic technology. It’s in most cases still much more difficult to value the damages: what is the cost of a premature death or other health effects, how to value visual changes or noise. How to take natural and planned adaptation into account, .. Often the answer is not known to a factor of 10.

      • Pekka –

        W/r/t to discussion below about alternative energy on a small scale vs. alternative energy on a large scale – just curious what your response might be to this article:

        http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/12/18/1353791/small-is-big-bangladesh-installs-one-million-solar-home-systems/

      • Joshua,

        I listed in one earlier message situations where solar energy provides the best solution. This case seems to satisfy those requirements although it’s not possible to say for sure without extensive knowledge about the actual situation.

        It’s quite likely that a fraction of the installations are in places where some other solution that would provide more power would be more appropriate and implementing the relatively low power solar systems creates an impediment for the more appropriate ones.

  10. RS:
    “When someone requests that we apply the “principles of full cost pricing” to energy production imo it seems that they really are just wishing to have their views of what should be done applied to the marketplace. ”

    Exactly.
    There is no price except the market price. These people intend to force on us an arbitrary price that is ideologically determined. If we stop subsidizing the inefficient renewables, we will have “full cost pricing”.

    As to promoting conservation – this seems to me to be promotion of energy poverty, rationing, and as a consequence – poverty in general. Poor people consume less energy. Many people believe indeed that we “over-consume” and only poverty can save the planet.
    I’m afraid that given current economic and environmental policy, poverty will be our fate. No that the environment is preserved in poor countries, to the contrary, they are drowning in trash, and choking in pollution.

    • Exactly.
      There is no price except the market price.

      Really. So you are saying that the health impacts from particulates are priced into the cost of coal? That the cost of military support to keep oil flowing is priced into the cost of oil?

      Fascinating. There really is no end to what free-market fetishism will lead someone to conclude, now is there?

      • Joshua, can you provide a mechanism by which the health impacts from particulates, as well as all other negative health impacts, from the burning of coal can be balanced against the economic benefits warm homes, clean clothes, refrigeration for food, rapid access to high quality health care, etc? Can you show how, exactly, we can place an objective economic value on these benefits? :0

      • jimmy –

        I think that an “exact” cost would obviously be an unattainable goal. But I think that a full effort is important, and is a prerequisite for anyone to determine, say, whether or not subsidizing non-fossil fuel energy sources is economically viable. Those benefits of fossil fuel that you note are not necessarily benefits that are exclusive to fossil fuels. You’re argument suggests that they are. The question is one of relative costs and benefits. How can we make that determination without a full effort to determine costs?

      • Joshua @ 6.57, perhaps back-tracking a bit on an earlier comment, another issue is transaction costs, including those involved in making such precise determinations. A society makes implicit choices on what “full effort” it is prepared to make in assessing and balancing the costs and benefits of, e.g. different fuel sources and production/pollution-cleansing technologies. Richer economies would spend more than poorer ones, and the effort would in part depend on the scale of the industry sector and potential problems. I’ll again plug Australia’s Productivity Commission and predecessors, whose analysis has led to highly beneficial policies and reforms, though these have frequently been diminished by partisan political decisions. The issue there is that what the PC and I might deem the public interest often differs from politicians’ assessment of their electoral advantage (it’s great when the two coincide, as they largely did here in 1985-90). But clearly the best decisions must be made on a sensible assessment and comparison of costs and benefits, if external costs which seem likely to be significant are ignored, then decisions will be sub-optimal.

      • Faustino –

        It’s time for me to “hit my sack” (as my girlfriend’s son used to say). I’ll look at your comments in more detail later, as they are always worth due consideration. For now I will just say that I never promised anyone a rose garden. These kinds of analyses are inherently difficult simply from a logistical standpoint, but certainly they are influenced by a variety of biases no matter who does the analysis. But IMO, that does not mean that they are unimportant, and it certainly doesn’t mean that conclusions drawn without such analyses are any less influenced by biases.

      • Does Joshua’s ‘full effort’ expect completion of a satisfactory narrative?
        =============

      • Josh,

        Are you of the opinion that without the requirement to import oil, our need for a military would go away?

      • Josh,

        Did your girlfriend’s son not like you? Hitting one’s sack is usually a rather painfull experience. One I’d advise against.

    • @jacobressj: There is no price except the market price.

      That’s one view. An opposing view can be seen here.

      The latter view carries no weight for those who attach no value to the commons.

  11. All these issues, In an even broader policy context, are dealt with in the ebook Gaia’s Limits. There are serious issues around food and energy, both of which affect and are affected by possible climate change. Combined with the more serious evaluation of climate change in a partly companion volume The Arts of Truth (which comes out about where our kind hostess appears to be) it is quite possible to show we are f**ked unless there are serious policy changes both to population growth and energy conservation.
    Oddly, some of the directional policies are ones that would have flowed from climate change had that proved to be robust rather than shaky science, and not politically hijacked by various interest groups like a number of developing nations at the UN.

    • Rud,

      Anyone claiming that climate change represents a serious threat to world food production can’t know much about food production.

      About half of annual crop production world wide is lost due to spoilage.

      The percentage of arable land under cultivation is decreasing.

      Corruption and conflict has more impact on access to food in one year than climate change has had in the last 20 years.

      As with many of the proclaimed harms from climate change, believing that it should have priority requires ignoring many real problems that may have solutions.

  12. Of course, the argument here isn’t that we should use new technologies — ’cause as the personal computer (and hundreds of other devices) have showed us, when people “get it” they go get it. For instance, when people see that nat gas is cheaper and better than the current offerings, they’ll flock to those too.

    Rather, this is a form of internalizing external economic costs in some way, that then forces changes to cut costs to the environment. Such is an entirely different argument. And yeah, I have seen lots of “green” alternatives that in some way depended on an argument for taxation to internalize these externalities, and in turn, have presented their own externalities — ie, environmental costs of nicad battery production.

  13. Werner’s model is what’s f**ked. I didn’t notice any reason to give his model any credit for being anything other than a pile of crap.

    Where, exactly, are we with mathematical models in general? No doubt, there are thousands of them floating around the academosphere, but how many have proven themselves worthy of being called anything other than wild speculation? (a few weather models, perhaps). And has any economic model ever been right about anything? FF sakes, we can’t even predict the unemployment rate a few weeks out.

    One might conclude that it’s the lack of testability that’s drawing the flies. So much more freedom to predict…

  14. About time someone started to discuss renewable subsidies in detail. PV subsidies have just about killed the residential solar thermal market, even though the solar thermal is the better choice for the home in terms of efficiency and value for (unsubsidized) money. Homeowners are not choosing to replace electric water heaters with solar thermal. Instead they are being sold on additional PV panels to power the existing electric water heater. Saw a similar situation with solar attic ventilation where the subsidies were the same across the board for cheap and expensive attic fans. The result pushed the market away from the fans that worked well (and which were priced accordingly) to the cheapest, most ineffective pieces of junk that could be pushed on an unsuspecting customer.

  15. Peter, I very much appreciate your comments on this blog. It’s apparent you have spent an enormous amount of time researching this subject and are very well informed. Unfortunately, it’s just as apparent that the warmists here are very uncomfortable discussing this topic and will not participate. It even looks as though there has been an attempt recently to marginalize your position.
    Energy policy is at the very heart of the passion surrounding the scientific discussions on global warming and I think it would be very interesting to hear comments from the supporters of the consensus on the issue.

    Jim

    • Completely agree JimJ, Peter Lang is one commenter that deserves far more attention. Unfortunately, his strong convictions sometimes lead to statements that are perceived to be extremist. His nationality also seems to be be regarded by some contributors as a cause for automatic discounting.

      • Peter Davies and JimJ,

        Thanks you. I’ll take note and try to improve the way I post my comments. I’ve been told much the same about how I present for the past 50 odd years, so don’t expect more than marginal improvements. But I will try :)

        I’d add that my way has advantages and disadvantages. I’ve managed to get things done that wouldn’t never have happened if not for my persistence.

      • What, ten per cent off for Australians? Bring it on, mate!

      • Peter Lang, in an otherwise glowing reference for a Senior Executive position at Treasury, a former ambassador wrote that in external relations (e.g. meetings with ministers) “I perhaps lacked the ultimate in sophistication.” Well, I’m a Geordie, Geordies don’t do sophistication. “Bluntness be my friend,” I say. Don’t ever change, Peter.

        (I was one of Treasury’s top picks, but wasn’t appointed as I only had one referee above the level for which I was applying. One interviewer initially reacted to my non-PC approach, but was won over.)

      • Faustino,

        I can certainly believe you were a top pick for Treasury. I wish you were there now. I reckon most Climate Etc. Denizens would say you are remarkably PC!.

        But the real worry now is moving the current head of Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to become the next head of the Productivity Commission. Please stop that happening. The world will be always in your debt if you do! (see my other reply to you with longer comment on this matter)

  16. Rather than lab grown meat I consider that land-based fish farming has greater potential for the production of protein for human consumption. It goes without saying that there would also be environmental impacts from this activity too, such as the disposal of waste material and the energy required to move water through these systems.

    More extensive fish farming would ease current depredation rates of wild fish stocks from humans with only sufficient wild stocks being used for genetic refreshment of domestic fish stocks. Wild fish already have very high inbuilt natural depredation rates which should be allowed to run their course without interference from humans.

  17. Nuclear reactors, large and small, are the obvious choice. They require some government regulation, but that is not a big deal compared to throwing tax payer money down the green rat hole. Other than that, stop all subsidies to all energy companies. And I don’t mean tax breaks given to all kinds of companies, energy related or not. Although anything that isn’t tied to physical reality, like depreciation for example, should be on the chopping block also.

  18. A funny thing happened on the way to 2100:
    Unemployment rates for College Majors:
    Majors: Recent Grad Experienced Graduate
    Grad Degree
    Agriculture and Natural Resources: 7.0 3.5 2.4

    Computers & Math 8.2 5.6 4.1

    Engineering 7.5 4.9 3.4

    Source: Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University

    Making meat in Missouri. Kinda like bringing coals to Newcastle, as now Newcastle has run out of coal. The future is hard to predict.

    • Actually, Newcastle area coal continued to be mined for years after it ceased to make economic sense, there’s still unmined coal but it tends to be in two-feet seams deep underground, so can’t be competitively mined. Some of the early wind-turbines were at Blyth, on the coastal fringe of the main Northumberland coal mining area, adjoining a coal-fed power station so at least there weren’t additional transmission costs.

      • Thank you Faustino for bringing clarity to an old adage I had learned at my mother’s knee.

        The wind turbines with which I am familiar are located along Lake Huron a Great Lakes shore and directly connected to the transmission lines of Bruce Nuclear Power Plant delivering power to Toronto hundreds of kilometers away.

        When in school, our cafeteria served “mystery meat” as part of the fare. Derogatory remarks basically referenced “Spam” which was a GI staple during WW II. I do remember though, growing up in an ethnic ghetto the butcher shop, the butcher buying sides of beef primarily, trimming for steaks and roasts, and then blending all the different sausages and baloney from those trimmed pieces. On Saturdays I would accompany my father to the butcher shop and sample several of the baloneys before getting a pound of one or another for the week.

        Growing meat into what purpose? sausages, baloney, maybe a roast? In our quick fixin’ meal world blending these grown meats into our usual food chain could and would make sense. Blending the new “mystery meat” into casseroles and with appropriate labeling: voila, microwave for instant dinner. I personally don’t see “grown” meat on the barbie any time soon though.

        We’er gonna need a lot of educated and smart people: high tech stem cell researchers: food science graduates: cultivation and processing specialists, to blending and packaging science people. That is what industry is telling us by hiring recent as well as experienced and Ph.D types, at least by what the unemployment numbers say. There will still need to be some “sod busters” and cattle folk, hog hotel inn keepers, and chicken ranchers, just not as many I reckon.

      • @Faustino

        “…there’s still unmined coal but it tends to be in two-feet seams deep underground”

        Mostly your posts make some sense, but this one is plain wrong ! There is MUCH coal left in the Newcastle Coal Measures, most of it in seams much thicker than 50cm or so. Of course it is below the surface, but that’s not the issue. The “no mines here” nimbies, unremitting hostile propaganda from the Greenies, corrupted Court decisions (the Gretley disaster) and encroaching suburbia are the main reasons

        One of my genuine peeves is the patent nonsense that geologically ignorant people spout on these topics. That they know they are geologically ignorant never stops the pontificating

      • @ian 18888: I stand corrected. I went about 600 feet down a mine with 2-feet seams in 1958, I think at Seaton Delaval. Such mining was not economic, the fact that it was being mined suggested 54 years ago that better seams were not available. The then Coal Board shifted to open cast mining of accessible coal many years ago as being the only viable (or least loss-making) option. I was not aware that there were significant accessible reserves, but of course I left England in 1979, last lived in Newcastle/Northumberland for several months in 78-79. I’m still a bit surprised. Maybe a giant inflatable dome over operations would calm the NIMBYs. Anyway, howay th’ lads!

      • What the heck is wrong with the Australians that are commenting here, trying to tell the Brits how much coal they have?

        Look, we all realize that Oz has ample supplies of marginal fossil fuels such as coal and NG for the time being, but that is not an excuse for you to demagogue the issues.

        The rest of the world is not Australia, unfortunate though that may be. The Larrikin urge to mock authority is strong but many of the rest of us understand it is just a way to release your pent up aggression. Settle down now :).

  19. I attended Werner’s talk at AGU. Judith assumes that “resistance” is equivalent to “advocacy by scientists” in Werner’s thinking. He didn’t really offer a formal definition of “resistance” in his talk, but I got a sense that he was thinking more along the lines of resistance movements similar to the Arab Spring, which represent active resistance to authority, rather than mere advocacy.

    • Yeah, that’s what we need; more Alinsky-esque tactics. That’s a great way for society to determine a course of action. Go poop on some police cars, that’s the ticket.

    • Interesting. Judith does tend to be rather selectively focused on advocacy by (some) scientists. I guess that might explain her (perhaps very-much mistaken?) assumption.

    • Yes, he seemed to imply activism to me, I’ve known enough Trots, International Socialists, Angry Brigaders et al that I have little if any faith in activists.

  20. The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

    Zehner’s analysis in Green Illusions is right on target, especially the notion of creating true competition between production and conservation.

    The other big item that pertains both to the “Are We f**ked?” as well as the Lab Grown Meat notion is the idea of disruptive/transformational technologies. There will be some, and always have been, and these do represent really the most important parts of shaping our future world. Taleb has it right– we really do live in Extremistan, and unanticipated disruptive/transformational technologies are the things that change the world. But this viewpoint must not be taken to mean that there will always be an unexpected techno-fix for all the problems that arise from our ever increasing demands on this planet. Lab-grown meat or fusion energy may come along and be good or bad, but there will also be those disruptive/transformational technologies that could equally be quite negative– potentially terminal to the human race.

    • There will also be those disruptive/transformational political ideologies that could equally be quite negative– potentially terminal to the human race.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Indeed, and the worst of all combinations is disruptive/transformational political ideologies combined with disruptive/transformational technology. We saw that with Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. Had they succeeded in getting an atom bomb combined with their V-2 rockets before we put an end to them, it would have been even worse than it was…much worse.

  21. Unfortunately green rnergy is unreliable, be it wind or direct sun power. It is uneconomic to run coal or gas fired power stations as back-up for such so-called renewables, because such stations would have to be able to provide full load when the renewables fail, so most of the time they would be inefficiently running at part load. This is hard economics.

    Energy policy can only proceed accurately when we know when the present 14 year pause in global warming due to green house gases will end and how big the jump would be to a new global temperature regime. Until the IPCC can provide this critical information we should suspend further action.

    • Further to the above, future climate depends critically on how much energy the CO2 molecule can absorb. Classical thermodynamics poses no limits and in that respect is no different from nitrogen and oxygen, but quantum thermodynanics allows the internal vibrations of the molecule to be included in it’s heat absorption and is therefore far more accurate. Should’nt the IPCC be reconsidering it’s assesments in the light of quantum thermodynamics?
      See my website above.

    • I’ve found “green” anything is unreliable. Like “organic” it is mostly a pr thing.

      It is interesting to note that products sold as green or more energy efficient also have a much higher tendancy to require early replacement when compared to what they are replacing. Recently replaced a refridgerator and a microwave / oven unit. The old unit lasted 20 years. I have one at least 10 years older than that in the garage that still works. The new one? I was told 5-7 years, maybe 10 if I’m lucky. Same with the mw. It was 30 years old. The replacement isn’t expected to last 10. Exactly how does this represent conservation? We have the ability to produce inexpensive energy for centuries. What is so important about conserving its use?

    • Matthew R Marler

      Alexander Biggs: Unfortunately green rnergy is unreliable, be it wind or direct sun power.

      There are places in the world where deliveries of oil and coal are less reliable than sunlight and wind. An advantage of solar power in those places is that an individual entrepreneur need not wait for the whole rest of society to resolve all the problems. I am sorry that I lack a recent reference, but there are villages in India that power lights, cell phones and towers, and small manufacturing entirely with solar power. They are poor, that isn’t the solution for most of the US or EU; but it may be a solution for about 1 – 2 billion people who are without coal, natural gas, or liquid fuel.

      The whole world does not need to be powered all the same way.

      • MattStat, “The whole world does not need to be powered all the same way.”

        Which is something that would be nice for folks to remember. Solar is more a personal energy choice. When used in conjunction with the home owners available space and needs, it provides very good results. Trying to connect to the grid can overly complicate an elegant personal energy solution.

        What is needed is a reliable, cost effective, portable energy or storage solution, then more of the “green solutions” can be solutions rather than problems.

      • I agree that some forms of unreliable power are better than other forms of unrelable power. Sooner or later, though, those people are going to want to move ahead with 24 hour a day power, so the solar seems to be a stopgap effort at most.

  22. “JC comment: Amazing. JC’s second suggestion for Brad Werner: factor innovation and disruptive/transformational technologies into your model.”

    I see no one has considered the space environment.
    I suppose it’s ignored like air is ignored. 99.9999999% of everything
    is ignored. Though rather the universe, we should focus on this solar system, so it’s 99.99 % neglected.
    You are simply stupid, if looking 1000+ years into the future and not including the Space environment. It’s arguable if your future is less than a century.
    Though in terms of next 50 years, I think space should part of the topic.

  23. The history of Quorn in the USA shows how damned difficult meat replacement is going to be:-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn
    Quorn is actually quite a good meat substitute, I love meat and not mind substituting Quorn in many recipes. However, the threat of lawsuits has really hampered its usage in the US market.
    I saw a friend of mine today and she is now developing a stem cell grown exocrine gland, based on a hydrogel matrix; this would be built using a persons circulating stem cells and then implanted after growing grown for 3-4 weeks.
    Artificial meat is easy compared with human glands/organs, I don’t think mammalian cell culture will ever be cheaper than growing meat in chickens or pigs.

    • Doc

      I have been a vegetarian for many years. When I become World President the second thing I will do is ban Quorn, or perhaps tax it heavily.
      tonyb

      • How 19th and 20th Century of you. It’s much more cost effective to fund a narrative, now.
        ========

      • Tony,

        can you place on your list of things to do naming me as Commissioner of Major League Baseball?

      • Timg56

        I’m afraid that in all countries of the world where baseball is played ( well that really only the US) it will be substituted for Test cricket. For those that don’t know, this lasts five days and often ends in a draw.
        Tonyb

    • If it tastes like Spam, I’ll eat it.

  24. I think a real conversation about renewables, especially solar, needs to start with realistic constraints.

    With the grid we have now throughout the world, renewables cannot be expected to provide more than 30% of global electricity needs. If you count hydorelectric, this is eminently feasible on a global scale. In fact I think we will achieve it at some point after 2050. (The rich world’s prejudice against hydroelectric power will continue to drive the less efficient alternatives of solar and wind. But all they have to do is continue to grow at half the pace they have shown for the past 30 years and it’s a done deal. And I think it will happen that way.

    The conversation then needs to turn to the 70% of electricity (and the remaining sources of energy consumption) that will not be supplied by renewable fuels.

    Nuclear power clearly is the best alternative and China will carry much of the load for its expansion. They have something like 150 plants under construction or planned for the next 30 years.

    Transportation fuels can move towards compressed natural gas (already a force in about a dozen countries (Iran leads the world?) Solar thermal has a part to play in heating (and even AC). Energy efficiency will continue to take a bite out of the totals, although the totals will grow.

    Sadly, all this good and hopeful work will be swamped by the mountains of coal that the developing world will use to power their growth. It won’t last forever (something people forget), but for the greater part of this century it will be the elephant in the living room for all conversations about energy.

    • ThomasWFuller2,

      With the grid we have now throughout the world, renewables cannot be expected to provide more than 30% of global electricity needs. If you count hydroelectric, this is eminently feasible on a global scale.

      I don’t agree this is practicable. This IEA table shows the proportion of electricity generated by each fuel: http://www.iea.org/stats/electricitydata.asp?COUNTRY_CODE=29

      Most of the hydro resource has already been developed. The share will decrease. Non hydro renewables supply just 2% of world electricity. The only reason they have been increasing (a little) over the past two decades is that it is mandated and receives massive support. It is uneconomic and unlikely to become economic. It is also difficult to manage its variability in a grid. This increases costs. It seems unlikely renewables will provide 30% of electricity globally, despite what IEA and others who are pushing the renewables agenda say.

      This chart shows electricity generation by fuels from 1971 to 2009: http://www.iea.org/stats/pdf_graphs/29ELEC.pdf

      Sadly, all this good and hopeful work will be swamped by the mountains of coal that the developing world will use to power their growth.

      That is not necessarily the case. If we allow nuclear to be as cheap as it could and should be, it will replace coal and most gas for electricity generation everywhere. And if cheap, electricity will substitute for some gas for heating and some oil for land transport. Zero emissions electricity could abate 50% of the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by a little after mid-century if we really wanted to allow it to happen.

      As you say “Nuclear power clearly is the best alternative”. It is the energy source that can solve the GHG emissions problem and many other problems as well: plentiful supply, energy security, massively reduced shipping and transport of fuels, factor of 700 reduction in fatalities per unit of electricity supplied, remove black carbon, SOx, NOx, heavy metal pollution, fine particulates, etc. It just depends on how long until the irrational opposition to it fades away.

    • Its probably better to start with the global demand.
      Current demand is roughly 15 Terrawatts.
      By 2050, if the poor and the yet to be be born are living at US standards
      we need 100 more Terrawatts.
      If they live by EU standards 45 terrawatts
      Huge problem. wont be solved by nuclear, solar, hydro, wind.
      And the artifical leaf, just got shelved. So, you’ll need
      1. A breakthrough technology.
      2 Or, screw the poor and yet to be born.

      • Mosh said

        ‘A breakthrough technology’.(is needed)’

        Which is exactly why upthread I suggested we need a project like Cern or Apollo to collectively try to quickly discover a new technology (which may be a variation on existing technology that we havent dreamt of yet.)

        Nuclear might do in some form but there are political complications
        tonyb

      • Total global electricity demand (as average power) is 2.3 TW. It is projected to be 4.0 TW in 2035 and 5.1 TW in 2050.
        Total projected global electricity generating capacity in 2035 = 7.3 TW, in 2050 say 8.7 TW.
        But most of this capacity is little used. The coal and nuclear generate most of the baseload. About 75% of electricity is baseload. If we replace the coal with nuclear we’d abate most of the emissions from electricity generation.

        Projected global generating capacity of coal and gas in 2035 and 2050 is:
        coal = 2.1 TW; 2.6 TW
        gas = 1.8 GW and 2.3 GW
        Nuclear would be operated at higher capacity factor than coal or gas so less nuclear capacity is needed to replace coal and baseload gas – say 4 TW by 2050.

        This would almost decarbonise electricity generation.

        This would require an average of 200 GW per year world wide from 2030 to 2050. That is 200 x 1 GW units per year or 1000 x 200 MW units per year

        Is that possible? Compare with new passenger aircraft deliveries: 1600 per year (single isle, twin isle and large)
        http://active.boeing.com/commercial/forecast_data/index.cfm

        The US ramped up production of aircraft carriers over 18 months in 1942-43 so it was producing them in 100 days. That is from first work to complete and fully loaded with aircraft and weapons. One country could do that 70 years ago. What rate of production could commercial enterprises in USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, China, Korea and Japan achieve by 2030 if the demand was there?

      • Easy peasy, moshe. Microwave energy in from extraterrestrially. That might even stop the next Ice Age if we’re good enough.
        ======================

      • Mosh – do you calculations include efficiency improvements that you can’t predict? I put predictions like these in the same bucket used for peak oil speculations.

      • @Steven Mosher | December 18, 2012 at 12:34 am

        “wont be solved by nuclear, solar, hydro, wind.
        And the artifical leaf, just got shelved. So, you’ll need
        1. A breakthrough technology.
        2 Or, screw the poor and yet to be born.”

        GE is readying its energy efficient SILEX technology. It has been granted a license for commercial development. Run the plant with a few small nuclear reactors and it has a zero CO2 footprint for input energy and in the long term near-zero for the enriched uranium.

        http://www.nrc.gov/materials/fuel-cycle-fac/laser.html

        Nuclear based on U can get it done long enough to solve the problems with Th.

      • So what is your suggestion?

        Just off half the population?

      • Here tonyb.
        Un fortunately, this guys first gen product didnt quite hit the cost goal, but his way of looking at the problem is right on. Most of what you’ll read here is guys who have a solution without understanding the problem.
        Covers conservation, and global demand.
        puts nuclear in perspective

      • I wish Sun Catalytix well and hope they succeed. But for the time being, they show potential but no amps.

      • Jim2.

        Yes conservation is built into the numbers. Understand that by 2050 you will have to supply 6Billion with power, who either dont have enough power now ( 3.2B) or are not yet born (3B)

        So, take the US as benchmark, and if the 6B expect to live like us, with the same per capita usage and energy intensity.. 100 terrawats.
        Live like Europeans.. 45terrawatts.

        You can conserve your way out of the problem. You can turn your back on the poor ( and fight more wars ) or you can propose expensive solutions they cant afford. But, the real problem is 6 Billion people who dont have power now who will need it in 2050

      • mosh – WRT Sun Catalytix, a friend of mine had a solar water heating system installed. Lots of plumbing and tanks. Expensive stuff. In the Catalytix system, lots of pipes and tanks. Has to contain hydrogen which is notoriously difficult to do. Metals exposed to elemental hydrogen can undergo hydrogen belittlement with subsequent failure. Hydrogen is extremely flammable and burns with a colorless flame which is hard to see. This is high tech and will require maintenance. This does not look like a good third world solution to me.

        You are right, however, about going small in the third world. The solution needs to be easy to maintain and be low cost for materials and installation. It is a tall order.

        In China, the government took the reins and installed energy infrastructure. This is a possible solution for the rest of the third world. But due to the horrendous governments in charge – or not in charge – in most third world countries, that also is a tall order.

        Other than that, I don’t believe the more centralized solution is precluded as you seem to believe.

      • That should be hydrogen embrittlement, not belittlement.

      • Jim. i dont believe in a centralized solution.
        the problem is most commenters are talking about us solutions. australian solutions. european solutions. well the problem
        is the six billion people who wont have power in 2050..
        not what the puny aussies will or wont do

    • Matthew R Marler

      thomas wfuller2: With the grid we have now throughout the world,

      And some other considerations will apply to the places that do not have grids.

    • I wouldn’t put too much stock into how many plants china plans over the next 20 years.

      Almost all of the 10 year out plus planning is done based on current trends.
      I.E. The Chinese trends prior to Fukushima was 8GW per year shovel in ground and it will be 8 GW per year shovel in ground next year.

      Hence 8 * 20 = 160GW in 20 years.
      Not exactly a ‘comprehensive’ assessment.
      Can I get a job at the IEA?

      We know the Chinese are building
      Russian VVER-1000’s
      Westinghouse AP-1000’s
      Areva EPR-1600’s
      French Derived CPR-1000’s

      A ‘commercial demonstration’ of a 200 MW Modular High Temperature Gas Pebble Bed Reactor.

      They have a 20 MW Experimental Fast Breeder Reactor that has been running for about a year.

      We know design work is currently being done on a CAP-1400 with the help of Westinghouse ,an ACPR-1000+ with the help of Areva and a derivative of the Candu 6 with the Canadians.

      We know they are in discussions with the Russian’s about the possibility of deploying floating nuclear power plants.

      We know they are working on an experimental thorium molten salt reactor that is expected to be complete between 2017 and 2020.

      The Chinese 13th power plan will be interesting reading when it is issued. It’s impossible to even guess what will be in it, because we don’t know which ‘demonstration plants’ will work out and neither do they at this point.

  25. thomaswfuller2

    Agree 100%.

    Shale gas might cover some of China’s power generation load (if China really has resources), but nuclear will be the biggie over the longer term.

    Europe (except France) will probably continue to shun nuclear out of irrational fear, at least for a while.

    But, other than that I think we will see nukes everywhere where there is no proliferation concern or where coal (or natural gas) is readily available locally.

    And I think that fast breeder technology (with thorium?) will diminish the importance of the spent fuel problem.

    But, despite all this, we are probably headed for ~600 ppmv CO2 by the end of this century no matter what we do.

    Max

  26. Max, I agree with your estimate for CO2. So how do we live with it?

    • Inventive adaptation with the cheapest possible energy. And if it cools, Katie bar the door and bless the CO2.
      ==========

    • thomaswfuller2

      To a CO2 level of 500 to 700 ppmv by 2100 you ask:

      “So how do we live with it?”

      If we believe the IPCC mean estimate for 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C (I personally have concluded that it is exaggerated), this increase would result in global warming of between 0.5C and 1.2C above today’s level “at equilibrium”.

      This is no big deal.

      But, as kim says, “enjoy the respite it might buy us from any real cooling and the ready availability of inexpensive, reliable energy”.

      That’s how our grandchildren will “live with it”. (And they will chuckle at our worries about future CO2.)

      Max

    • One day at a time.

    • “So how do we live with it?”

      If 5 million people can live comfortably in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia then whats a couple of degrees of warming? If 1/3rd of the Netherlands is already a meter below high tide then whats a few extra feet of seawall?

      If you have ‘energy’ everything is possible.

      Climate change is a problem for those who don’t have ‘energy’.

  27. I think there is a fundamental flaw in this:

    The solution? A pricing policy that stifles this “boomerang effect” by encouraging conservation rather than expansion of energy output.

    The world is not going to reduce energy consumption. We will reduce energy consumption per GDP but energy consumption per capita will continue to grow indefinitely. And so it should. It has been increasing for 200,000 years. It’s not going to stop now. It’s what gives us continually improving standard of living. We do not what to curtail energy growth. We want energy to be as cheap and plentiful as possible. And we want it to be cheap and plentiful for everyone.

    That is one of the great advantages of nuclear power. Nuclear fuels is 20,000 to 2 million times more energy dense than coal.

    Polices that set out to increase the cost of energy are wrong. Dead wrong!

    • “We do not what to curtail energy growth.” You and I don’t, many “activists” do, whether explicitly or (by their proposed approaches) implicitly.

    • The world is not going to reduce energy consumption. Daily per capita energy consumption has been increasing at the rate of y = 1105.1x^-0.3964 for 200,000 years. We’d be very naive to think we are going to turn that trend around just because we happen to be alive now.

      • Sorry, the units for per capita energy consumption are MJ/d.

      • Contemplating the cause of that trend is a rich field for speculation. Got a direction to more stuff about it?
        =======================

      • Kim,
        You ask really difficult questions. The figures come from a Brazilian professor (forgotten his name but can get it if you want it) and were in hand drawn charts on a chart on 1/4 square graph paper. I took the figures and plotted them. Here they are:
        Column headings:
        Era
        ybp
        Food
        Home and Commerce
        Industry and Agriculture
        Transportation
        Total

        Era;ybp;Food;Home and Commerce;Industry and Agriculture;Transportation;Total
        Technological man;1;40;264;364;252;920
        Industrial man;50;28;128;96;56;308
        Advanced Agricultural man;300;24;48;28;8;108
        Primitive Agricultural man;4000;16;16;16;;48
        Hunting man;20000;12;8;;;20
        Primitive man;200000;8;;;;8

        I guessed the ‘years before present’ ybp to suit his eras based on this:
        Technological man;now
        Industrial man;approx. 1960 ad
        Advanced Agricultural man;approx. 1700 ad
        Primitive Agricultural man;before pyramids, Babylon, China
        Hunting man;The book “‘Seven Daughters of Eve”, says 20,000 years ago is about when the peoples who had first started to grow crops and domesticate animals moved into Europe and began teaching the hunter gatherer’s how to do like wise.
        Primitive man;

      • Velly intellesting, & TNX.
        =============

      • This is why I say that Techno-Optimists vs Malthusian Doomsayers is not even a sporting contest.
        ==================

      • Kim, And the leaps in energy density http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density as we move from fossil fuels to nuclear fusion, first in Gen 3 reactors, then in breeder reactors and eventually to fission reactors is far bigger jump than the increase in per capita energy use over the past 200,000 years. Given this, you can see why I say energy is unlimited. When we eventually get over our paranoia, we have the opportunity to make another enormous jump in well being for everyone on the planet.

      • From your lips…..
        ====

      • kim,

        Are we going to have any Malthusian Doomsayers after this Friday?

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        In the U.S., the energy consumption per person is going down every year, yet we are the most affluent nation. See: http://vaperforms.virginia.gov/images/graphs/NaturalResources/Energy-ConsumptionPerCapita.png
        And even though it is going down, it could go down much more with a paradigm shift in the way homes, businesses, and communities are designed.
        So, yes “the world” per capita energy use can be reduced greatly with smart, efficient community and building planning from the start, and a shift from centralized power systems designed for heavy per capita use to localized energy sources designed for low per capita use.

      • Gates,

        And even though it is going down, it could go down much more with a paradigm shift in the way homes, businesses, and communities are designed.

        No. Energy efficiency can make only a very small contribution to reducing the rate of growth in energy consumption. It certainly will not make the growth go negative. http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/reality-check.html. Read up on the Kaya Identity.

        Global is what matters. Global per capita energy consumption will continue to increase, although there will be ups and downs, such as during economic recessions. This shows how per capita energy consumption has been changing. http://www.gapminder.org/world/

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: as we move from fossil fuels to nuclear fusion, first in Gen 3 reactors, then in breeder reactors and eventually to fission reactors is far bigger jump than the increase in per capita energy use over the past 200,000 years. Given this, you can see why I say energy is unlimited.

        I don’t disagree. But you can buy a 2kw solar power plant for about $12,000 for whatever daytime use you have in mind right now, and you don’t have to wait for someone else to build a nuclear power plant and transmission system and meter. I think this is advantageous for rural areas without grids, and small scale entrepreneurs are doing this now.

        If I had control of the world I would probably make sure that new nuclear power plants were built at a faster rate than they are now. But I think there are advantages to individual initiative and autonomy. Lots of people even in the US power their tools with batteries that have to be recharged. It’s cheaper to power them with a cord plugged into a socket, but the people of whom I speak value the mobility provided by the batteries. I think that, in like fashion, many people will value the autonomy of self-generated electricity. Autonomy and mobility are next to impossible for command economies and central planners to price correctly.

      • Out of principle, I will not install solar panels, even if I could afford to.
        I know I would save a bit of money on energy bills, as well as being (slightly) more self-reliant.
        But the big reason I would not is because, due to government subsidies, my savings would necessarily come out of other people’s pockets.
        So I could not, in good conscience, have some poor pensioners somewhere contributing towards my energy savings.

      • Solar is certainly good for many applications in places without grid connection and also in places where the grid connection is as unreliable as it is in many places in the developing world.

        A combination of solar generation and low-power applications like cellular phone systems and LED lighting forms a packet of relatively low total cost and also one that can be brought easily also to isolated locations.

        The prospects of solar electricity are not that bad even with grid connection it the load correlates strongly with sunshine as it does in many reliably sunny and dry areas with a lot of air-conditioning. In such a case the capacity value of solar generation is high. Arizona and parts of California might be good examples of that.

      • Pekka Pirila,

        This is the sort of advocacy I find really frustrating. Solar power provides about 0.2% of electricity globally. It doesn’t matter what rate of growth you apply, its still going nowhere significant. The costs are enormous.

        Ivanpah under construction in California, largest and news solar thermal plant in the world with 6 hours energy storage, will cost $19/W average power supplied.

        Each time you make a comment like this without any substantiation about the costs, makes me wonder why you have a chair of energy economics. I find it hard to understand how little you understand about energy economics and the real comparative costs of the various technologies. It’s very frustrating that people listen to you, you pretend you are an authority on energy economics, and you continually tell them absolute nonsense. I wish you would get some perspective on the economics and costs and also provide links to substantiate your statements.

        Pekka, can I urge you to read this: http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf

      • Matthew Miller,

        But you can buy a 2kw solar power plant for about $12,000 for whatever daytime use you have in mind right now, and you don’t have to wait for someone else to build a nuclear power plant and transmission system and meter

        No you can’t! It would cost you around $60,000 to have a reasonably reliable system with no grid connection and no meter. Your costs are not comparable.

        Your solar power cannot supply industry. This sort of discussion is silly and very misleading. You are still fiddllng around talking about the 1% of situations instead of focusing on what is needed to provide low cost, reliable electricity to meet the demands of a modern society.

      • Peter,

        The same numbers can be considered from different perspectives.

        One is the global overall generation of electrical energy. For that it’s true and will for long be true that solar cannot make a big dent.

        Another is getting certain minimal services for a large number of people presently without electricity. For a significant fraction of them solar is the best first option.

        Third is solar equipment industry. Presently it gets probably most of its income from questionable excessive subsidies, but it serves also the well justified market of the previous paragraph.

        Then we have those areas with the optimal climatic conditions for solar power. Such areas cover a very small part of the globe but they do also offer a market for solar industry.

      • Pekka, so why didn’t you say up front that your comment about solar is a pure distraction and has nothing whatsoever to do with CO2 emissions, climate or the subjewcts Climate Etc. is discussing.

        Your comments are red herrings and intended to divert from rational policy and the subject that Climate Etc. is all about.

        Your comments demonstrate you are clearly just another anti-nuclear ‘Progressive.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: Ivanpah under construction in California, largest and news solar thermal plant in the world with 6 hours energy storage, will cost $19/W average power supplied.

        I certainly did not support Ivanpah, and I will help pay it off with future rate hikes. I live in California and the majority always disagrees with me.

        If I wanted to air condition my house, the cheapest alternative (which would also heat in the winter and thereby save on gas) would be to install PV panels, even at the non-subsidized price of $12000 for 2kw. For someone willing to pay the price for A/C, I think it’s the best alternative now in dry hot parts of the US that have overnight breezes.

        Ivanpah is bad, and the #2 uniit at Three Mile Island, and two units at Fukushima suffered meltdowns. Everything that can be done well can also be done badly, and choosing only the bad examples is a poor basis for planning.

      • Peter,

        You must know that your views are considered by many as excessively one-sided. One reason for that is that you don’t want to even discuss the other factors. If they are less important but that’s not generally understood, then it’s better to discuss them in a way that’s acceptable to those who don’t agree with you rather than make them dismiss everything that you say.

        Such a discussion must be done sincerely, not trying to trick others to momentarily accept something that they don’t understand. That’s the approach I try to follow. In that I also learn myself and sometimes notice that something that was true ten years ago isn’t any more.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: It would cost you around $60,000 to have a reasonably reliable system with no grid connection and no meter.

        I was quoted $12,000, installation and grid connection included, pre-rebate price.

        And you are right: I am writing about the zillions of applications of electricity that do not manufacture or melt ingots. And I have been writing about billions of people who have no reliable electricity. And I have been writing about the fact that R&D is driving down the costs of alternatives so it’s possible that electricity from alternatives might become cheaper than electricity from natural gas.

      • MattStat, “I was quoted $12,000, installation and grid connection included, pre-rebate price.”

        How many kw?

      • Pekka

        One reason for that is that you don’t want to even discuss the other factors.

        You are talking absolute nonsense again. What I want is a properly balanced discussion with proper perspective. The CAGW Alarmist web sites are innundated with renewable energy advocacy. There is almost no balance. And what have you contributed to balance. More advocacy for renewables and comments selectively pointing out cost overruns on the two EU nuclear plants. You haven’t haven’t attempted to present a balanced view, just more anti nuke rhetoric. You’d prefer to praise solar (0.2% of global electricity generation and little chance of making any significant contribution) and criticise nuclear (supplies 76% of France’s electricity and could do the same for the world). You criticise me for lack of balance. How hypocritical. What a joke you are

        Pekka, I have a question for you:

        You say you are concerned about dangerous / catastrophic AGW. So why do you continually oppose the most viable, economically rational solutions to substantially cut global GHG emissions?

      • Matthew Miller,

        Ivanpah is not a ‘bad’ example. It’s an example of the state of the art! That is the reality. That is the real cost of solar. The Spanish ones are even more expensive. PV is even more expensive to provide dispatchable power. You have to do comparison on a properly comparable basis for power supplies that are fit for purpose – that means dispatchable. you would get a better understanding of all this if you read the links I posted.

      • Matthew Marler,

        You are mixing apples and oranges again. The $12,000 you were quoted was for a grid connected system, not a stand alone system. You compared it with with nuclear. They are not comparable.

        To be clear, you said:

        you don’t have to wait for someone else to build a nuclear power plant and transmission system and meter.

        You cannot compare the costs of the nuclear plant with the solar plant unless you do it on a basis they are providing the same power reliability and flexibility to respond to changing demand. I think I’ve spent enough time for now answering your questions and comments. We are not making any progress. Solar is around factor of 5 to 10 too expensive and there is not conceivable way the gap could be closed. Wishful thinking wont do it. We’ve been at solar PV for over 50 years and solar thermal engines for 100 years. There is nothing to suggest that the cost gap can be closed. The physics is against it. That’s enough for now. I again suggest you read the links I provided previously.

      • Atomkraft, ja danke.
        ===============

      • Pekka Pirila,

        You said:

        You must know that your views are considered by many as excessively one-sided. One reason for that is that you don’t want to even discuss the other factors.

        Could you please look at the IEA chart World electricity generation by fuel
        Notice the thin green line at the top of the chart: Geothermal/Wind/Solar.

        You say my views are “one-sided” because I try to focus on the solution that could, realistically, substantially replace coal, oil and gas for electricity generation and, by so doing, make a large dent in global GHG emissions (the main topic of interest for Climate Etc.). However, you want to divert the discussion to talk about technologies that can have no significant impact – like solar panels in African villages! And you have say my views are on-sided.

        Can you understand why I don’t trust your underlying motives?

        I hope you will answer the question I asked you in an earlier comment:

        Pekka, I have a question for you:

        You say you are concerned about dangerous / catastrophic AGW. So why do you continually oppose the most viable, economically rational solutions to substantially cut global GHG emissions?

      • Matt RM @ Dec 18 5.34 wrote “I live in California and the majority always disagrees with me.” Having lived in Hollywood for a while, that suggests to me that you are usually right. I have the same problem in Queensland.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: You are mixing apples and oranges again.

        People do that all the time: shoppers. With a diverse mix of power options of different sizes and costs, different customers will choose different alternatives, as they do with fruits and vegetables and other multiattribute non-commensurable stuff. Your answers completely fail to address the variety of people, their circumstances, their needs and ambitions. Lots of people worldwide can now meet their irrigation needs with solar power; why should they wait for someone else, somewhere else, to build a nuclear power plant for them? Sure the nominal costs now favor nuclear, as long as you omit the cost of waiting: while the workers strike and hooligans steal the wires on the transmission grid, and all the NIMBYs postpone construction.

        to captain dallas, the $12,000 was for a system with 2kw max output. That’s enough to light a small library or power a room full of sewing machines.

      • Matthew Marler,

        Your answers completely fail to address the variety of people, their circumstances, their needs and ambitions.

        You completely fail to understand or consider the cost. Renewable energy is prohibitively expensive. The fact that it is useful for less than 1% of electricity supply is irrelevant to cutting global GHG emissions. You fail to understand the costs. If you would read the links I provided repeatedly, you might get to understand.

        to captain dallas, the $12,000 was for a system with 2kw max output. That’s enough to light a small library or power a room full of sewing machines.

        Beep! WRONG!. Your solar panel cannot power anything most of the time without either grid connection or battery storage. You do not understand what you are talking about. Comparisons like you are making are complete nonsense. Sorry to have to put it so bluntly, but you either haven’t read or have totally failed to understand the most basic concepts.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: Sorry to have to put it so bluntly, but you either haven’t read or have totally failed to understand the most basic concepts.

        We shall have the opportunity to revisit these points 5 years from now.

        For a lot of people in this world, even 4 hours per day of electricity would be a worthwhile improvement to their lot. Even in rich countries, a surprising amount of work is done indoors in the daytime, including most schooling. A school district in Arizona built a solar-powered primary school; sorry I lost the link, but I posted it here in another of these discussions with someone else who knew the relative costs of all power sources forever. The people who made the decision make a calculated decision, a bet that, over the next 30 years, the daytime cost of electricity from natural gas would exceed the daytime cost of electricity from the solar panels. I don’t expect to last 30 more years myself, but I do expect to follow the developments for the next 10 years at least.

      • Matthew Marler,

        We shall have the opportunity to revisit these points 5 years from now.

        We don’t have to wait 5 years. The facts and evidence couldn’t be more soldi now. What you are saying now your predecessor renewable energy proponents have been saying for to past 30 years. Nothing has changed. Solar power generates 0.02% of global electricity. It is far too expensive. Your $12,000 for 2kW system is about $36/W of average power delivered over it life. And it can’t provide reliable power. The state of the art solar thermal plant, Ivanpah, costs about #19/W average power delivered. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that solar power is not viable and never likely to be, except for off grid applications – i.e. for a miniscule proportion of global electricity consumption. The facts could not be clearer. However, your brain is not allowing you to accept them, I suspect because you’ve laid out your money for a system.

        Even in rich countries, a surprising amount of work is done indoors in the daytime, including most schooling.

        Even in rich countries, a surprising amount of work is done indoors in the daytime, including most schooling. Can’t you see how silly that comment is. You need electricity 100% of the time so you need the conventional system at about $1/W to 5/W for reliable power. To satisfy your beliefs, wishes and hopes, you want an additional system which adds another $6/W so your total system cost is about $10/W for no additional power, no additional reliability, reduced safety and negligible reduction on CO2 emissions. Can’t you see how irrational your belief is? Again I urge you to look at Figures 6 and 7 here – and read the background. http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf

      • Matthew R Marler

        Peter Lang: Your $12,000 for 2kW system is about $36/W of average power delivered over it life.

        California uses about 15% of its peak summertime power for air conditioning. At current gas prices, that power can be supplied more cheaply by pv panels, and the pv panels are getting cheaper whereas the gas price will most likely increase once the US starts exporting more of it so there are more bidders for the product.

        If there were some way that you and I could control the entire energy industry of the world, investment, construction, protection, I might accept your argument that modular nuclear might be the best for everybody in perpetuity.

        As long as we are being blunt, you are what they call a “monomaniac”, dedicated to one solution for everyone, based on a narrow conception of what everyone’s needs are.

        About the cost above: for me, it worked out to about $0.09/kwh (less if I took the subsidy), if I wanted to pay for the A/C, and I would save a lot of gas by running a heat pump in the winter. Like now, for example, where it is sunny outside and my furnace is burning gas to keep the inside at 62F. I support nuclear power but my neighbors don’t. If I wanted A/C I would not want to wait until they all approved more nuclear power plants.

      • Peter Lang
        Re: Solar PV

        In Southern California there is about 10-15 GW of daylight only, summer only demand. Solar is a bit pricey to meet that demand but not insanely pricey. Nuclear would be insanely pricey.

        Unlike Australia that has a fairly flat demand curve courtesy of it’s metals industries the Southern California Demand curve it weighted heavily to ‘air conditioning’. If Dad is at the office and the children are home(we don’t have school in the summer) then the offices and all the residences are being air conditioned.

      • Harrwywr2,

        In Southern California there is about 10-15 GW of daylight only, summer only demand. Solar is a bit pricey to meet that demand but not insanely pricey. Nuclear would be insanely pricey.

        Thanks you for your comment. I don’t totally dismiss the role for renewables. I am just trying to get people to recognise it has only a very small role to play in cutting GHG emissions. Most people want to spend nearly all their time talking about non-hydro renewables which currently account for 0.2% of world electricity generation and may eventually get to 5% or 10%, maybe. Meanwhile, we ignore the solution that can provide the basleoad power and avoid the emissions for 75% of our electricity. That is not rational.

        You say nuclear would be insanely pricey. But I never advocated nuclear for peak power, at least not until we have small reactors of say 200 MW that are flexible like a ship or submarine engine and like a gas turbine. Inevitable we will get there.

        The comparison should be between solar PV and gas for peak power. Which is cheaper? I’ve shown here http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/ and here http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf that a mix of nuclear and gas plus some hydro, wind and solar is about 1/3 the cost of renewables and gas to meet the NEM demand. I also showed that any amount of non-hydro renewable energy is more expensive than the nuclear + gas option. Emissions are about the same. So there is no justification for paying three times as much for electricity.

      • Matthew Marler,

        As long as we are being blunt, you are what they call a “monomaniac”, dedicated to one solution for everyone, based on a narrow conception of what everyone’s needs are.

        I don’t agree with that. What I am trying to combat and point out is that we have CAGW advocates wanting to implement an ‘big brother’, “monomaniac” solution to all people on the planet to cut GHG emissions. The cost of this approach would be huge. i am trying to make the point that, if the aim is to cut emissions, then there is a far better way. But you and others who are obsessed with renewable energy – 0,2% of electricity generation, can’t let it go and focus on the solution that could provide 75% of electricity generation, or eventually 90% with small flexible reactors..

        It is the obsession with talking about the technologies that provide 0.2% of global electricity while ignoring the solution that could provide 75% of the solution and give many other benefits as well I find frustrating. In fact, I see it as just plain dumb!

      • Matthew Marler,

        About the cost above: for me, it worked out to about $0.09/kwh (less if I took the subsidy)

        Your estimate is not even close. Clearly you are basing your opinions on totally wrong information. For $6000/kW capital cost, 20 year economic life, 20% capacity factor, 10% discount rate and $0 O&M costs, the cost of electricity would be $0.40/kWh, not $0.09/kWh

        However, those input figures are unrealistic for residential solar power (average fleet).

        The average life expectancy of residential solar panels would be more like 10-15 years (houses modified, replaced, extended and original panels not reinstalled, at some stage a problem occurs and it is not reconnected, etc) .

        The average capacity factor for residential solar across the whole fleet is probably more like 19% to 15% – panels not optimally oriented, not cleaned regularly, shaded, become shaded, etc.

        O&M costs are not insignificant (cleaning etc). For commercial PV the O&M cost is about $25/kW-yr.

        Private purchase decisions show that discount rates for private decisions are much higher than commercial decisions. That is we require a much shorter payback period. 20% might be appropriate for a solar panel, but I’ll use 15%

        For $6000/kW capital cost, 15 year economic life, 15% capacity factor, 15% discount rate and $25/kW-yr Fixed O&M, the cost of electricity would be $0.80/kWh, not $0.09/kWh.

        So, the estimate on which you’ve based your decision and on which you are arguing is out by almost a factor of 10!

    • Peter Lang

      Agree with you that we do NOT want to “encourage conservation” by making energy more expensive.

      This would simply have the net effect of reducing quality of life.

      We will have exactly the opposite effect as the poorest nations develop their energy infrastructures and lift their populations out of poverty. To ask these nations to forego this development to chase a “rich white man’s CO2 hobgoblin” is unrealistic – it will simply not happen.

      Average per capita fossil fuel consumption has risen by 20% over the past 40 years.

      Even if electrical power is largely switched to nuclear as you propose, there will still be an increase in overall per capita fossil fuel consumption as automobile ownership in developing countries increases (assuming no economically viable substitute for fossil fuel based motor fuels is found).

      So it is reasonable to assume that the global per capita fossil fuel demand could increase by roughly another 30% by the end of the century.

      With the population forecasted to increase to 10 to 10.5 billion by 2100, this would get us to around 600 ppmv CO2 by 2100.

      Barring a new economically viable motor fuel substitute that is not based on fossil fuels, I do not see us “holding atmospheric CO2″ much below that level, even if we maximize the use of nuclear power. If an economically viable non fossil fuel substitute for motor fuels can be developed, this could reduce this be around 100 ppmv by 2100, or to around 500 ppmv.

      If we do not convert most new electrical power generation away from fossil fuels (to nuclear), this could very likely be higher by around 100 ppmv, or around 700 ppmv by 2100.

      So it looks like we will be at around 500 to 700 ppmv CO2 by 2100, depending on how we approach nuclear power in the future and whether we can develop an alternate for motor fuels.

      At IPCC’s mean 2xCO2 climate sensitivity prediction of 3.2C, the difference between 500 and 700 ppmv is a difference in global warming of around 0.7°C by 2100. Not really a big deal.

      So I guess we’ll have to learn to live with it.

      Max

      • Manacker,

        I agree with most of what you say. I understand population is projected to peak earlier an lower than your figures. If the Greens have their way, it will peak later and higher. That is because they want to curtail economic growth. The better the world’s economies perform, the faster the poor will be lifted out of poverty and the faster population growth rates will decline to those in the developed countries. As usual, the Greens policies would achieve the opposite of what they say they want. They are so conflicted!

        I must admit I haven’t taken a great deal of interest in the substitutes for fossil fuels for transport. Electricity is the easiest place to get early wins and it can be done if we could remove the blockages caused by the anti-nukes. We could tackle that with ‘no regrets’, i.e not cost or negative cost. We should do that whether or not climate is an issue.

        On the issue of transport fuels, I don’t know much. I understand the idea is energy carriers rather than fuels. That is energy carriers made using cheap, zero emissions electricity. There is some discussion about high temperature reactors making energy carriers as a substitute for fossil fuels on the NRC web site and here (I think from memory): http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html

    • @Peter Lang: Daily per capita energy consumption has been increasing at the rate of y = 1105.1x^-0.3964 for 200,000 years.

      There must be a typo here. As it stands it’s not even wrong, it’s just meaningless technobabble.

      In any event 5-digit accuracy in a meaningless expression covering a period most of which is prehistoric and totally undocumented is very impressive. (Just responding to whoever it was on this blog that recently wrote of the need to call BS when appropriate.)

  28. If the same amount of money and effort had been poured into nuclear energy over the past few years as was poured into AGW, isn’t it feasible that we could have had small-scale, self-contained and safe nuclear reactors by now?

    • Fred Jensen,

      Absolutely. There are fourth three small nuclear designs listed here. They are in various stages form concept to operating. Many of them have been around for a very long time. But they cannot get through the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approvals process http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html

      Here is one that has just been approved by USDOE to be assisted through NRC reviews and through to commercialization. It’s expected to take ten years! http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/26/nuclear-small-modular-reactors/1727001/

      If we want to make progress, we must get design approval out of the hands of the government regulators and back to the commercial world – like any other electricity generating technology and like the commercial aircraft manufacturing industry. They have major accidents that kill far more people every year than the fatalities civil nuclear power has caused in 57 years, yet their designs don’t have to be approved by a government regulator. Imagine where aircraft safety would be now if every new aircraft design had to be approved by a government regulator and took 5 years of so to be approved.

    • No doubt about it whatsoever Fred.

  29. Mr. Lang, I would say you’re incorrect, in that I don’t think that policies to increase energy costs are wrong–they are irrelevant. People’s usage of energy is fairly inelastic. Expensive energy cuts consumption among the poorest, but they are the least of the emitters. Everybody else just complains and pays the bills.

    This is obviously an exaggeration. Raising energy costs enough can at least curb the growth of consumption. But only by killing the poorest, as is happening in the United Kingdom now.

    • Thomasfuller2,

      I think you are referring to people in the rich world. I am thinking about the people in the poor world. These are the people who are currently burning dung and wood to heat and cook. They need electricity. The cheaper it is the faster it can be rolled out. We need energy to be as cheap as possible so people, world wide, can get access to plentiful energy and all it brings: improved health, education, meaningful jobs etc. Education and improved jobs cuts the population growth rate. The faster all this happens the earlier global population will peak and the lower will be the peak.

  30. Western civilization is in deep and disastrous economic weirding and the culture and society is as f_ked as GM, the railroads, roads and bridges, power generation and distribution infrastructure, and the government-education industry. With a government too big to fail we’re all doomed to be dragged down by the stone. And, that’s with no climate change to speak of since 1940. It’s ‘gonna get real interesting if we actually descend into another ice age. At least we will have lots of filing cabinets full of junk science to burn to keep warm.

  31. Full cost pricing? Can give some surprising results, even for policies aimed at “conservation”.

    “The CFLs and LEDs have higher resource depletion and toxicity potentials than the incandescent bulb due primarily to the high aluminum, copper, gold, lead, silver, and zinc. Comparing the bulbs on an equivalent quantity basis with respect to the expected lifetimes of the bulbs, the CFLs and LEDs have 3 to 26 and 2 to 3 times higher potential impacts than the incandescent bulb, respectively.”

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es302886m

    • Thanks for the very interesting link. Yes, when I talk about full cost pricing, I advocate including these life-cycle effects. Sometimes simple may be cleaner, and clean may turn out to be dirty. Some people think the same reasoning (life cycle effects, metals, toxicity, waste disposal) apply to that “cleanest of all energy sources,” nuclear.

    • Not to mention they don’t last as long.

      Anyone here have a CFL bulb that’s made it to the 7 years advertised? I have incandencent bulbs that still work in my home from the day I bought it 20 years ago. Most of the CFL’s last about a year.

      • Well, yes, incandencent bulbs will last a long time if you never use them, and CFL’s will last only a year if you break them.

      • tim –

        Most of the CFL’s last about a year.

        Fascinating. I have used many in my home for much longer than that – only had one that failed so far – one that was in an outdoor light with a sensor that has it on all night, every night, and sometimes even during overcast days. The power of motivated reasoning is amazing!

      • In our household we have taken at least half a dozen CFLs to the recycler at Home Depot over the past 3 or 4 years, after gradually upping our usage over the last 6 or 7 years.

      • There is some anecdotal evidence here that CFL lights last only a short time in the homes of sceptics/economic rationalists, much longer in those of a warmist/conservationist persuasion. Lewandowsky should do a study on it. Must be the vibes, I reckon.

  32. We all would prefer to live without breathing noxious gases, but simply invoking “full-cost pricing” and the need to police “externalities” is not sufficient to justify coercive regulation. These are inherently political decisions. I posted the following comment at Dolan’s blog:

    Citing purported pollution externalities as part of the “cost” of any product or service is inherently a political exercise. This is true for two reasons:

    1) As Coase pointed out in 1960, the spiller and the spillee are equally causally responsible for any destructive interactions generated by spillover effects. From an economic efficiency perspective, which parties should make the adjustment is entirely a matter of the relative costs of mitigation and adaptation (to use today’s popular terms in CO2 policy). On this analysis, the bias exhibited in the post toward making energy privately expensive cannot be justified a priori.

    2) As the late Aaron Wildavsky pointed out
    http://books.google.com/books?id=7ok6EFrn1LAC&…

    the economist’s distinction between pecuniary and non-pecuniary externalities is essentially arbitrary. Externality claims are political weapons that intrinsically assume (beg the question) that governments can and should efficiently regulate them. Economists want to say that labor-saving production technologies (for example) are good and pollution is bad, so they classify all spillover effects from the former as pecuniary externalities to be ignored and all spillovers from the latter as real externalities to be priced in. But this will not do, since both types of spillover affect the physical state of the economy and redistribute gains and losses. A labor-saving innovation may force all kinds of costly retraining and relocation behaviors on workers, which are real physical costs and not just price movements along a supply curve. Economists correctly want these externalities to be ignored, but their attempt to draw a distinction with pollution is not logically supportable.

    • Thanks, these are very important points. I should probably expound on them both at length in future posts. Here are very short reactions:

      1. “On this [Coasian] analysis, the bias exhibited in the post toward making energy privately expensive cannot be justified a priori.”

      No, you haven’t read your Coase carefully. He says it doesn’t matter who has the original property rights, the outcome will be the same. But in either case, the opportunity cost to the polluter will be the same. If the pollution victim owns the air rights, then the opportunity cost to the polluter takes the form of restitution payments to the victim. If the polluter owns the air rights, then the victim has to “bribe” the polluter to abate. In that case, the opportunity cost of polluting to the polluter is the foregone opportunity to collect “abatement bribes.” The outcome in a Coasian world with zero transaction costs is, in either case, that the polluter abates pollution and raises the product price to cover the increased cost.

      2. “the economist’s distinction between pecuniary and non-pecuniary externalities is essentially arbitrary.” For a full reply, I’ll have to take the time to read Wildavsky. Thanks for the link. My short reply, though, is that the distinction between pecuniary and nonpecuniary externalities is not arbitrary. Consider, for example, Murray Rothbard’s famous “physical invasion” test. It draws a sharp line that is not at all arbitrary. Maybe not the perfect line, but certainly not an arbitrary one.
      [cross-posted from reply to your comment on my own blog]

      • I’m sorry Ed, but you are so far into your perspective that you are mangling Coase. He in no way assumes, as you do, that the polluter should always abate to achieve economic efficiency. He is expressly critical of the “physical invasion” arguments prevalent in common-law nuisance doctrine. The reason for that is that the invaded party is often the one who should make the adjustment, not the invading party. If my country’s CO2 emissions led to flooding out a small island, the efficient thing to do might be for the people on the island to move. Whether I pay or they pay for that adjustment is related to the assignment of the initial rights, but the question of who pays does not have anything to do with what the optimal adjustment is.

        It may well be that the efficient thing to do is for the “victims” of global warming to adapt to the warmer world rather than for everyone to forego the advantages of cheap energy. You can’t just scream “externality” and think that answers the question of what the efficient outcome is. The neighbors of airports don’t like the noise, but that doesn’t mean we should engineer fewer flights by laying on takeoff taxes; maybe it’s more economically efficient (in a Kaldor-Hicks sense) to eliminate the affected housing.

        There are two Coasean issues: Whose adjustment to the interaction is cheaper, and what institutional mechanisms might or might not lead to those adjustments. Coase implicitly advocated a kind of cost/benefit analysis by courts to decide these issues, because his point was that transaction costs are not zero and efficient bargaining may be a chimera. Richard Epstein has an interesting critique of this view along transaction cost lines, arguing that given the cost of having a court do a first-principles cost/benefit analysis in each case the old Roman-style and common-law physical-invasion doctrines are good heuristics to apply in private disputes. Tut that’s not where you seem to be coming from, and it certainly doesn’t apply to such a diffuse and public issue as CO2 emissions.

        As for Wildavsky, the easiest way to think about the political nature of externality designations is to think about issues such as free speech. Your speech may cause third parties distress, even if it is truthful and useful communication to its intended audience. So why do we not impose taxes on these “externalities?” The rationale for freedom of speech and expression can be recast in these terms to say that 1) we believe that we are all better off if we absorb these negative externalities so that we can communicate freely and 2) free speech also has positive spillover effects that are hard to pin down in advance. Or consider whether ugly people should be taxed for going out in public or subsidized to stay out of view.

      • srp, good points, accords with my reading of Coase.

    • I’m a Coasean, Wildavsky’s sweeping assessment of economists certainly doesn’t apply to me or others I’ve worked with.

    • Thanks to Ed for the substantive response.

      I will add that IMO, the argument that pricing the cost of externalities is an inherently political process is a trivial argument. The inherently political aspects of these discussions are not unique to pricing externalities. We currently do not have the externalities for fossil fuels prices in any meaningful sense (although we pay the costs), and that is the result of political influence.

  33. Producing coal-powered electricity, is THE green energy. they produce CO2 + water vapor – essential for trees and crops. Around those generators, the vegetation is much healthier, than in the desert. Desert climate, is bad climate; that climate can be improved; if the misleading about CO2 & water vapor stops.

    Windmills and solar panels take the money away, money that should be used for building new water storages in dry countries; to improve the climate.

    3] every country with big bushfires problems has; is because dry heat from some desert goes there, and vacuums the moisture from the vegetation for the previous 10-11 months. MORE CO2 &H2O =GREEN!!! b] Referring to wind / solar electricity as ”green” is misleading! CO2 has nothing to do with the planet’s temperature. c] O&N are regulating overall temp on the planet to be always the same. d] localized warmings / coolings. presented as GLOBAL; is the precursor of the biggest contemporary misleadings

  34. Willis Eschenbach

    Pricing externalities is not possible even in theory, for two reasons.

    First, everyone will put a different price on the various things that have no actual price. For example, why should someone’s fetish about CO2 be reflected in the cost of energy? I say bugger your priorities, I want to put an externality cost on Prius owners, to account for the added smugness … you see the problem? There is absolutely no objective standard, no way to judge which price is the one to use.

    Second, if you are planning to price externalities, you cannot simple add in the negative externalities. You have to add in the positive externalities as well. For example, I love the gas heat in my house because it still comes on even though the power is out. How much is that externality worth? It’s worth a lot to me but how much is it worth in this scheme where you plan to price externalities? Pick a number. For every number you pick, someone else will pick a different number.

    So I fear that this gentleman’s plan, as far as it relies on pricing externalities, is nonsense.

    The deeper and more serious problem with his analysis is, any increase in energy prices hurts the poor. This (obviously well-to-do by global standards) ivory tower guy totally ignores this. He thinks an “affordable” price is one that prices energy “at a level that encourages extravagant use”.

    Look, mister master philosopher, here’s a big clue. For most of the humans on this planet, the problem is not “extravagant energy use”. That may be a problem that you and your friends have, but most of the world has the opposite problem. Their problem is that energy is too damn expensive.

    So no, I do not want the price of energy driven higher by taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, pricing of supposed externalities, renewables standards, or for any other reason.

    Here is the ugly, ugly truth. Folks that keep trying to drive up the price of energy for any reason are pricing the poorest people out of the basic necessities of life. Since most of the world is in that “poorest” category, history will not judge you well. I assure you, the poor do not care about your oh-so-important reasons for jacking the cost of energy.

    An increase in gas prices of a dollar a gallon means nothing to a rich man. But to a man living on $2 a day, that’s half a days wage.

    Judith, regarding this plan of jacking up energy prices without noticing that it is depriving the poor, you say

    Well, this seems to me to be a very sensible analysis

    I couldn’t possibly disagree more strenuously. This idea that energy is somehow bad, and that we need to drive up the price of energy, without regard for the fact that increased energy prices hit the poor harder than anyone, is the absolutely backwards direction to be going.

    We need less expensive energy, not more expensive energy. Energy is the source of the development that the developing world needs. Expensive energy is just a Western guilt trip designed to expiate our fantasized sins of commission and sins of emission.

    Ask some taxi driver scratching out a living in Tanzania what he thinks about that whiz-bang expensive energy plan. Tell him his gas cost is going to go up a dollar a gallon, but it’s ok because it will make him conserve and not fall into extravagant energy use … I’ll sell tickets to that one.

    w.

    • So I fear that this gentleman’s plan, as far as it relies on pricing externalities, is nonsense.

      Much better is that we just ignore the externalities. Deaths from particulates? Wars costing trillions to keep the energy flowing?

      Nonsense, I say. No point in consider those externalities, eh? There are no “actual prices” for those phenomena.

      You nailed it, Willis. Those “fetishes” are no different than your dislike for Prius drivers.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Joshua | December 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Reply

        [Willis said:]

        So I fear that this gentleman’s plan, as far as it relies on pricing externalities, is nonsense.

        Much better is that we just ignore the externalities. Deaths from particulates? Wars costing trillions to keep the energy flowing?

        Nonsense, I say. No point in consider those externalities, eh? There are no “actual prices” for those phenomena.

        You nailed it, Willis. Those “fetishes” are no different than your dislike for Prius drivers.

        Regards, Joshua. Your sarcasm is noted. It’s generally not a good choice as a way to advance discussions, but never mind.

        If we need to deal with particulates or any other detrimental effects, we should do it the way that we always have successfully done it—at the source, not through arbitrary pricing as an externality. This builds in the actual price, not some theoretical price.

        For example, if a factory is required to cut its particulate emission, the cost of that pollution control equipment is passed on to the consumer. There’s no need to deal with theoretical externalities.

        The same thing is true about my car. I get it “smogged” as the law requires, to keep down the particulates you are so concerned about. That passes on the actual cost of particulate control to me, the user. How is some arbitrarily fixed “externality price” better than that actual cost in any sense? Your example of particulates doesn’t hold water, the market already has that one solved.

        Next, regarding adding your proposed externality of “wars costing trillions” to the current cost of say gasoline, you’ll have to explain to me exactly how you are going to price that … divide gallons of fuel sold in the US by the cost of the war in Afghanistan?

        Oh, wait … there’s no oil in Afghanistan, so that war can’t be an externality of oil. So to price the externality, are we going back to the Iraq War, and counting the cost of the Iraq War as an oil externality, but not Afghanistan?

        And how are you planning to sell this brilliant plan to the public? Is your slogan going to be “You paid billions for the Iraq War, now you’ll pay billions more!”?

        So … do you have any further objections? Those didn’t work.

        All the best,

        w.

      • Willis,
        +100

      • If we need to deal with particulates or any other detrimental effects, we should do it the way that we always have successfully done it—at the source, not through arbitrary pricing as an externality. This builds in the actual price, not some theoretical price.

        Except that cost doesn’t get priced in, and it is paid on a daily basis, and it isn’t a theoretical price, and that price affects us disproportionately in terms of our ability to pay.

        And the point is that we have many “skeptics” who: (1) want to use similar theoretical speculation for costing non-fossil energy sources,and who then exacerbate that problem comparing the cost of fossil fuels (without due consideration of negative externalities) to non-fossil sources of energy.

        For example, if a factory is required to cut its particulate emission,

        Factories are not “required to cut [their] particulate emission” without consideration of the negative externalities of their emission – which are inherently difficult to evaluate. Without consideration of those externalities, we would have no environmental regulations.

        Do we just say, “Oh, it’s so difficult” or “Oh, it’s so negative. Considering negative externalities just harshes my mellow”?

        The same thing is true about my car. I get it “smogged” as the law requires

        Once again – because of consideration of the negative externalities. The point, again, is that if people want to reject non-fossil fuel energy sources due to economic costs and/or negative externalities, it is meaningless unless that rejection is based on a valid comparison to the possible alternatives. Bring on the analysis.

        Your example of particulates doesn’t hold water, the market already has that one solved.

        “The market” has done no such thing outside the fantasies of free-market fetish fetishists. We pay for many of the negative externalities in myriad ways, and not simply by what we pay directly for the energy. And if you believe that ACO2 is putting negative externalities in the pipeline, the market failure becomes even larger.

        Next, regarding adding your proposed externality of “wars costing trillions” to the current cost of say gasoline, you’ll have to explain to me exactly how you are going to price that … divide gallons of fuel sold in the US by the cost of the war in Afghanistan?

        One way to price it is to consider the impact of those expenditures on GDP. You consider the opportunity cost, in loss of life as well as in direct expenditures and millions that are paid out in the Sunni awakening and to tribal leaders in Afghanistan and in waste and inefficiency in the Pentagon procurement processes (which is enormous).

        Oh, wait … there’s no oil in Afghanistan, so that war can’t be an externality of oil. So to price the externality, are we going back to the Iraq War, and counting the cost of the Iraq War as an oil externality, but not Afghanistan?

        Surely, you aren’t arguing that the war in Afghanistan is completely unrelated to the flow of oil? I mean sure, you can argue that if you want, but I can’t imagine that anyone who has even briefly researched the issue would seriously make such an argument. But I’m not equating that war simply to a “war for oil,” certainly there are other reasons for the initiation and continuation of the war. And while the picture was more stark with Iraq, I’m not arguing that was simply a “war for oil” either. But obviously, in that case, and in much other military expenditure around the globe, access to and maintaining flow of oil is clearly a factor.

        And how are you planning to sell this brilliant plan to the public? Is your slogan going to be “You paid billions for the Iraq War, now you’ll pay billions more!”?

        I fail to see any relevance to that comment. I’m not selling anything to anyone, and I’m not particularly concerned about how anyone might sell anything to anyone. My point is w/r/t the soundness of comparisons of the costs and benefits of different energy sources. My guess is that in the hands of those interested in solid analysis, a full cost analysis will sell itself, just as will a specious cost analysis – in the hands of the agenda driven – that selectively considers some costs, ignores others, and employs facile analysis to attribute benefits selectively (such as the oft’ heard simplistic analysis that cheap energy equals fewer starving people, without due consideration of all the other factors that contribute to fewer starving people. Recommended reading along those lines):

      • Joshua wrote: “Wars costing trillions to keep the energy flowing?”
        ——————————————————————————————-
        What would you say if those wars were being fought (hypothetically) to safeguard our food supplies?
        One could argue that we’re almost as reliant on energy as we are on food – and that’s something which isn’t going to change in a hurry, if at all

      • phatboy –

        Wars are not some abstract, pure entity, fought only for one thing or another. They are the result of political processes and they are fought to achieve political aims. Wars fought to maintain the flow of energy (at least to some extent) reflect, (at least to some extent), political choices about what type of energy is to be used. Wars fought to safeguard our food supplies would inevitably be similarly political. As such, I wouldn’t know how to respond to your hypothetical other than to say, “It would depend.”

        The relevant point, IMO, is that if we are going to consider the relative costs and benefits of different sources of energy, then the trillions spend to keep oil flowing needs to be considered. Is the exact amount hard to figure? Of course. Is doing so influenced by political biases? Sure. But how does that differ from analysis that does not include the trillions in military expenditures to keep oil flowing?

        If someone here has discovered Shangri-la – where everything is easy to calculate and nothing is influenced by political biases, I would appreciate it if they could provide me with directions for how to get there.

      • Joshua, you’re saying the reason for wars is largely political – therefore the trillions being spent is largely to achieve political ends and so would still be spent, more or less, regardless of where our energy came from.

      • Josh,

        Try living a third world lifestyle before pontificating about deaths from particulates. You would soon find your willingness to breath in a few particulates, which may (or may not) shorten your lifespan by a couple of years, far overwhelming your willingness to continue in said lifestyle.

      • tim –

        Try living a third world lifestyle before pontificating about deaths from particulates

        I fail to see why I would need to live a 3rd world “lifestyle” before I can discuss these issues – and certainly no more than would anyone else in these threads discussing these issues. (FWIW, I have lived (for limited periods of time) in 3rd world countries, traveled in them quite a bit, and I have lived much of my life in communities in the US that were many of the residents approach 3rd world “lifestyles” – so it is not as if I am wholly unfamiliar with the issues involved).

        I am not suggesting that anyone go without access to energy. I am suggesting, well, please see this link: http://judithcurry.com/2012/12/17/limits-of-green-energy-is-the-earth-f_ked/#comment-277848

      • … and that price affects us disproportionately in terms of our ability to pay.

        Every price affects us disproportionately in terms of our ability to pay, which is what behooves us to be as productive as we possibly can if we want to be able to afford things others produce.

    • +100

      Willis, “Well, this seems to me to be a very sensible … [comment].”

      I wholeheartedly agree with you.

      You said:

      Second, if you are planning to price externalities, you cannot simple add in the negative externalities. You have to add in the positive externalities as well.

      This is an important point that many people advocating pricing externalities do not consider. I’d ask them to estimate the value of cheap energy to:
      – those without electricity
      – world health
      – life expectancy
      – education
      – population growth rate.

      How should those external benefits be factored in.

      For those who do not see the relationship between energy and these outcomes, try playing around with this excellent tool that charts UN data: http://www.gapminder.org/world/
      Select the UN human development indices on the vertical axis and energy per capita or electricity per capita on the horizontal axis. Choose log scale where appropriate. Press ‘play’ or move the slider to see how the charts change over time.

      • David Springer

        There are no negative externalities with higher atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel combustion. They’re imagined. The externalities are all positive. CO2 is a scapegoat. A proxy misanthropes glommed onto as a means to limit human population growth.

    • A wonderful comment! Your raise almost every every argument I hear in this kind of thread, and you do them all in a single comment box!

      1. “First, everyone will put a different price on the various things that have no actual price.” Yes, different people price things differently. But think about what this means. Does it mean that a Gucci handbag, which I place zero value on whatsoever, should consequently have a zero market price? I don’t think so. Or consider this: Prostitutes are willing to sell sex for a market price set by supply and demand. Does that mean any man should be able to rape any woman and then leave her the average prostitute’s price and walk away without other penalty? In short, the proposition that “different people put a different price on things” is a fact of life, it is not an argument that the correct market price is zero just because people do not agree about the value.

      2. “Second, if you are planning to price externalities, you cannot simply add in the negative externalities. You have to add in the positive externalities as well. For example, I love the gas heat in my house because it still comes on even though the power is out. How much is that externality worth?” There is a very simple answer to this one. The “positive externalities” like your warm home are accounted for already in the market price of gas. That is why gas has a positive market price–people are willing to pay for it because it keeps them warm. The negative externalities are not included in the market price unless policy is altered to make them come to bear (tax, cap-and-trade, pollution torts, etc.) There is a fundamental difference here if you stop to think about it.

      3. “The deeper and more serious problem with his analysis is, any increase in energy prices hurts the poor.” I wrote a lengthy post a while ago on “When does ‘it will hurt the poor’ trump ‘it’s bad for the environment.” Read it here: http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2012/02/24/when-does-it-will-hurt-the-poor-outweigh-its-good-for-the-environment/

      4. “So no, I do not want the price of energy driven higher by taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, pricing of supposed externalities, renewables standards, or for any other reason. ” Well, no, neither do I. I would love to have cheap energy. I would love to have free caviar and champagne every Sunday for breakfast. Sorry, Pal, that isn’t how the world works. TANSTAAFL.

      • Ed Dolan

        I believe the basic misconception is that expensive energy per se will help the environment.

        It will do no such thing.

        The environment will be helped by ensuring that energy producers do not pollute. This means they must install the necessary facilities to avoid pollution, which, in turn, will increase their costs slightly, which they will pass on to their customers as a higher price.

        But simply increasing the price of energy will not help the environment one iota.

        How would it do so?

        Max

      • David Springer

        I believe rising atmospheric CO2 is a net benefit without regard to the benefits of the energy produced during its deposition. People like you believe it’s a net detriment and seek to reduce it which also reduces the benefits obtained during its production.

        This is an irreconcilable difference. Anything energy source which DOES NOT produce CO2 should carry a tax for not producing it.

        Note this doesn’t apply to other pollutants, real pollutants, like arsenic and mercury, for instance. Just to the faux pollutant CO2 that slap-happy hypocritcal misanthropes like Ed Dolan use as a proxy to limit the growth of the human population. Too bad for you that eugenics fell out of fashion. It seems you would have been able to be more honest back when it was in fashion.

        In other words Ed, f*ck you, f*ck the horse you rode in on, and f*ck the boots you’re wearing.

      • One positive externality enjoyed by much of the population is that we no longer live as we did in the 16th century. Even most of the world’s poor are better off that that. Whether they want to live like those in the 16th century does not matter. They benefit from our advanced technology and cheap energy. Some of you can’t see the woods for the trees.

      • 1. On the positive externalities point, by definition these are not priced into the good. That’s why conventional economics argues for subsidizing R&D and education–third parties supposedly benefit from the production and consumption of these goods.

        Do fossil fuels, or cheaper, higher-quality energy in general, also offer positive externalities? Well, if abundant natural gas pushes out coal on the margin, it reduces overall air pollution. More generally, cheap energy allows for shipping goods long distances, improving specialization and increasing regional resilience against local food shortages or natural disasters. Cheap energy improves public health by allowing for better refrigeration and interior climate control. In general, many of the uses of energy have positive externalities, so cheaper energy benefits those third parties.

        2. One should also remember the theory of the second-best, which says that fixing one market imperfection may make matters worse if others are left unaddressed. If incumbent producers in some industry currently have market power, and therefore inefficiently restrain output at a level where price is greater than marginal cost (including pollution externalities), then penalizing their output with carbon taxes will cause even greater output restriction and even greater inefficiency. If other environmental regulations concerning land-use, toxic waste, air pollution, etc., not to mention non-environmental taxes and regulations, already restrict output below the social optimum, then piling on a carbon tax will make matters worse.

        3. And as mentioned above, even ignoring positive externalities and second-best issues, the mere existence of a negative externality does not tell us whether the emitter or the affected party can address the problem more efficiently. If your smokestack’s emissions are dirtying my laundry on the clothesline, it isn’t at all obvious that cleaning up your emissions is as economically efficient as me switching to dry my clothes in a dryer.

    • Outstanding Willis.

  35. Re-post from previous thread (it seems relevant here)

    Carbon pricing can’t work in the real world – there is a better way

    Professor William Nordhaus is arguably the world authority on carbon tax. In a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ‘Economic aspects of global warming in a post-Copenhagen environment’, http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/documents/Nordhaus_Copenhagen_2010_text.pdf Nordhaus says:

    The results of the present study suggest that several policies could limit our “dangerous interference” with the climate system at modest costs. However, such policies would require a well managed world and globally designed environmental policies, with most countries contributing, with decision makers looking both to sound geosciences and economic policies. Moreover, rich countries must bring along the poor, the unenthusiastic, and the laggard with sufficient carrots and sticks to ensure that all are on board and that free riding is limited. The checkered history of international agreements in areas as diverse finance, whaling, international trade, and nuclear non-proliferation (36) indicates the extent of the obstacles on the road to reaching effective international agreements on climate change.

    In other words, carbon pricing cannot succeed in the real world.

    His Table 2 ‘Costs and benefits of the Copenhagen Accord through 2055’ shows why. The costs would be far greater than the assumed benefits:
    Abatement cost = $2,060 billion
    Benefit (climate damages avoided) = $413 billion

    No country can justify committing to a policy that will cost $5 for every $1 of benefit. And the compliance costs are not even included. They would be huge. Furthermore, as most people realise, the assumed benefits are highly uncertain.

    There is a much better way. It is the technological solution. It requires a focus on engineering. Unfortunately, Nordhaus and most other economists, don’t really understand this alternative approach. Their expertise is economics, not engineering and technology. They are not really aware what engineers can deliver if the task is properly defined. The economic solution is not practicable for the reasons he states in the quote above. But the technological solution most definitely is achievable.

    Nuclear power could be far cheaper than fossil fuels for electricity generation if we removed the impediments. With nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels it could replace 50% of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by around mid 21st Century.

    We know that coal fired electricity generation is considered to be safe enough. That sets the benchmark for the communities expectations of the acceptable level of safety. We know that nuclear is about 700 times safer than coal http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html. Therefore, if we could get the message out, most people would act rationally. In that case, safety of nuclear power would not be a block to progress.

    The real impediment to nuclear is the current costs. Bernard Cohen (1990) http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html explained that regulatory ratcheting increased the cost of nuclear power by about a factor of four by 1990. I expect further regulatory ratcheting since then has increased the cost by at least a factor of two. The regulatory ratcheting has given us little or no increase in safety compared with what would have been achieved if nuclear had been allowed to develop like other industries. Therefore, it is conceivable that the cost of nuclear could be reduced by a factor of eight (over time, of course) and then continue to improve thereafter.

    There are at least 43 small nuclear power plant designs in various stages of development from concept through to in-production. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing process takes about 5 to 10 years and they can handle only two or three designs at a time. The NRC is a massive constriction blocking progress on development and roll out of small modular nuclear power plants. No other industry has to get its designs approved by a government regulator.

    Therefore, if we want to cut global CO2 emissions, we need to free up the development and roll-out of cheap, small nuclear power plants. We need to allow these to be developed in a commercial environment like other technologies. We need to allow the commercial sector to compete.

    If we remove the impediments to nuclear, the cost of nuclear generation could be well below the cost of fossil fuel generation by 2030.

    The US President could make this happen. The anti-nukes could facilitate the change in public opinion. The change in public opinion could be achieved in less than a decade if environmental NGO’s decided it was in their interest to lead the way on this.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Peter Lang: The US President could make this happen. The anti-nukes could facilitate the change in public opinion. The change in public opinion could be achieved in less than a decade if environmental NGO’s decided it was in their interest to lead the way on this.

      I have liked your posts.

      About the quote, lots of things could happen, but I doubt that the president of the US could change very much. There seems to be, for some reason, a large overlap between the people who believe CO2 is bad and the people who believe that nuclear power is bad: people considered experts have testified to Congress about their opposition to nuclear and fossil fuel. The web site Brave New Climate works to make nuclear power boosters out of CO2 opponents. Is there any NGO leading the way that you want on this issue?

      • @MattStat: There seems to be, for some reason, a large overlap between the people who believe CO2 is bad and the people who believe that nuclear power is bad.

        There seems to be, for some reason, a large overlap between the people who believe smoking is hazardous to your health and the people who believe evolution trumps creationism as a theory of speciation. Since a great many people dispute both the hazards of smoking and the mechanism of evolution, this large overlap is indeed statistically suspicious, suggesting that the former class of people must be irrational ideologues.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Vaughan Pratt | December 27, 2012 at 3:33 am |

        … Since a great many people dispute both the hazards of smoking and …

        Say what? I know of virtually nobody in the US who today disputes that smoking is a hazard. There’s not a “great many people” who say that smoking is NOT a hazard to your health, that’s simply not true.

        The problem is, this renders your whole “argument-by-analogy” fatally flawed. Note that I am not saying that you are wrong in your underlying argument, I take no position on that. I’m just saying you need a different argument.

        Rather than look for a new and better analogy, let me suggest that argument-by-analogy is one of the weakest kinds of logical arguments. Seems to me you’d be better off to speak to MattStat’s point directly, rather than by the indirect route of analogy, which as we see here has lots of pitfalls.

        Best regards,

        w.

      • @MattStat:

        There seems to be, for some reason, a large overlap between the people who believe CO2 is bad and the people who believe that nuclear power is bad.

        Yes. They’re called “doomasayers”.

      • Willis,

        Vaughan Pratt has never allowed facts to influence his beliefs.

      • @Peter Lang: <I.Vaughan Pratt has never allowed facts to influence his beliefs.

        Peter Lang has never allowed sound reasoning to influence his beliefs.

      • @Willis: I know of virtually nobody in the US who today disputes that smoking is a hazard.

        You must live in a vacuum, Willis. See here for a long list of counterexamples including many books and articles. And that’s just one blog.

  36. Ignoring for a moment the practical impossibility of agreeing on what exactly the negative externalities of energy production are……………..Why do people insist on believing that all negative externalities must be monetized and eliminated by central planning? When does society EVER do that? We all accept the negative externalities of automobiles, garbage dumps, agriculture, etc. We always collectively decide what we can live with in terms of cost, all costs, to obtain the benefits. Why the different standard? Why aren’t existing market forces as adequate in the energy markets as they are in other markets? Why do we think that centralized planners will do any better at this than they have historically done elsewhere? Why do we even need a national energy policy?

    • Somebody had to sequester our national energy. Just think of where we all would be, otherwise.

    • Doug Badgero: “Why do people insist on believing that all negative externalities must be monetized and eliminated by central planning? ”

      Not everyone insists on this. There is an alternative tradition under which externalities are monetized and mitigated through better enforcement of the property rights of pollution victims (with property broadly understood to include one’s person as one’s ‘property’). Probably the leading proponent of this view in our time is Murry Rothbard, (Check out several of his writings here: http://mises.org/daily/2120#11)

      “Why the different standard? Why aren’t existing market forces as adequate in the energy markets as they are in other markets?”

      The answer (Rothbard would say) is that the law of evironmental torts is inadequate. If you punch me in the face in a bar, I can successfully sue you for the tort of assault. If you dirty my air with smoke from your factory, chances of bringing a successful suit under current law is small.

      Personally, I sympathize philosophically with Rothbard, but I am not sure of the practicality of this approach for pollution that has many sources and many widely dispersed victims.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Ed Dolan: Personally, I sympathize philosophically with Rothbard, but I am not sure of the practicality of this approach for pollution that has many sources and many widely dispersed victims.

        I am glad that you wrote that.

        You have written a number of good posts here today.

      • Ed Dolan: Personally, I sympathize philosophically with Rothbard, but I am not sure of the practicality of this approach for pollution that has many sources and many widely dispersed victims.

        I don’t disagree with this, but why do we believe central planners are best at determining how we generate electricity rather than just properly regulating each source? State regulators have made this decision for decades for some very good reasons, but what legitimate role should the feds play?

  37. “JC comment: Amazing. JC’s second suggestion for Brad Werner: factor innovation and disruptive/transformational technologies into your model.”

    I’ve said repeatedly, our greatest asset is our innovative, entrepreneurial, adaptive nature, which is constantly under-estimated by doom-sayers.

    As for meat, all those concerned about how food-source animals are treated must surely support animal-free meat. (I don’t eat meat, because, given that a non-meat diet is cheaper, healthier and uses fewer resources in western societies, eating meat means killing animals for pleasure, and I try not to kill.)

    Now to read the earlier comments …

    • Yeah sure… a coyote kills a rabbit for pleasur’ too and monkeys are territorial because fruiting trees are valuable… abuse of the language comes in many forms and Leftists have shown themselves to be masters of that.

      • Well, I’m not a Leftist and I don’t try to impose my lifestyle views and choices on others. And I understand that for many life-forms killing is integral to survival. But I thought I’d mention it.

    • Faustino | December 17, 2012 at 10:55 pm said: ”I don’t eat meat, because, given that a non-meat diet is cheaper, healthier and uses fewer resources in western societies, eating meat means killing animals for pleasure, and I try not to kill.)

      Faustino, if you also stop eating whatever you are eating now, the world would be a bit better place.

      Cattle eat grass and convert it into protein, wool and leather. You wouldn’t eat that grass, instead get burned in bushfires. They trim the grass and serve it to the dung-beetle and the essential bacteria – they put the nutrients back in the ground. not trimmed grass = bigger bushfires. Dung-beetle and bacteria cannot take the whole straws of grass in. Less ”renewable” wool and leather = more synthetic; which is from non renewable crude oil.. Nobody kills for pleasure.

      one bull = enough protein for a person, for a year. Mung-beans sprouts share 48% of the genes with human – you gobble 500 of them for lunch; that’s = to the genes of 200 human babies, only for one lunch. People should report you to the cops; if they see you around the maternity word…Human is omnivore critter, what does that make you?

      You have already guessed; I eat dead animals, yes; proud to be human, with carnivore teeth. You should have some nice, thick, fat, juicy, blood dripping stake, and enjoy life. Great thinker, Louie Pasteur said on his relative’s funeral: ”man eats chicken – chicken eats worm – worm eats man”’ If you deny yourself to be human; don’t blame, or ridicule the normals, please; blame the ones that brainwashed you, to deny yourself, what’s the most normal

      • No blaming or ridiculing, Stefan, nor seeking to impose my views.

      • David Springer

        You have omnivore teeth you farkin’ idiot.

      • Stefanthedenier believes vegetarians are denying themselves the pleasure of eating meat. Apparently he is so self-centered it hasn’t occurred to him that some people don’t eat meat because they don’t like meat.

      • Congrats stephan,

        You managed to get me to agree with Max.

        Faustino doesn’t eat meat. You do. However Faustino also doesn’t make rude, insulting comments towards you – while you don’t hesitate at doing so. Want to guess who the meathead here is?

      • timg56 | December 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm said: ”Faustino doesn’t eat meat. You do.

        Hi 56, normal people don’t care what vegetarians eat. it’s them that use the guilt factor: you eat meat / you use fuel, you use electricity, farmers use water!… Greens / Warmist are the angels…?

        Put dinner on table; because of constant propaganda on TV – children don’t want to eat / think; why parents hate them to give then meat in the diet. Greens are angels, for not killing animal for their dinner… oops, that was what Hitler said – he didn’t like anybody to kill for his dinner – he was fanatic vegetarian.

        people who know that they are bad, are constantly getting out of their way – to present themselves as angels. If somebody doesn’t eat some food for health reason, or for good look – they don’t brag around, they don’t hate people for eating human food. it’s the ”green’s gospel” In India 90% of the people are vegetarians / they have much shorter lifespan than in Japan, USA.

      • stefan,

        I am in agreement with you regarding those who preach, believing their belief system is superior to others. As far as I am concerned “Green” should be identified as a synonem for hypocracy.

        What I was taking issue with is the fact Faustino was in no way trying to imply his eating preferences made him any better of a person than the next guy, and that as he is one of the most civil commenters here, your agressiveness was not called for.

      • timg56 | December 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm said: ”stefan What I was taking issue with is the fact Faustino was in no way trying to imply his eating preferences made him any better of a person than the next guy”

        timg56, POINT TAKEN.

        P.s. it’s good that he brought the subject – I was hoping that: it will smoke out the Warmist in-bedded into the Skeptic’s camp. Because is symbolic for most of the Warmist foot solders to be vegetarians – also the inbedded Warmist in the Skeptic’s camp; known by the botanical name; (the Fake Skeptics) – they are in the skeptic’s camp – to promote what Warmist stand up for / but as skeptics, will not admit the truth, why they pretend…

        BUT, if the subject is not CO2 and stopping the climate off changing – will show their real color = as eating lentils, to save his planet…?. Please note: their foot solders of the lower genera and IQ .. not Al Gore; he doesn’t survive on lentils, as the fools that are following him, and pay for his caviar and champagne… cheers

      • David Springer | December 18, 2012 at 8:12 am said: ”You have omnivore teeth you farkin’ idiot”

        I have four (4) canine teeth; Springer the Moron; did they got your canine out?

    • David Springer

      Eating meat does not necessarily represent cruelty to animals or killing for pleasure. The key is the quality of life given to the animals we raise for food before they are consumed. If we raise those animals in a humane way, treating them with dignity and respect then they get to experience a good life and painless death. If they had not been raised for food they’d have never been born and never had a chance to experience any life at all. It’s all about whether we treat them as unfeeling objects to exploit or with the dignity and respect they deserve for what they give to us in the end.

      I can’t argue against the higher biological efficiency of consuming plants directly instead of indirectly through meat. The moral superiority of it isn’t writ in granite is all I’m saying.

      • David, if your “omnivore” teeth remark was aimed at me, of course I know that we are omnivores and that’s one, perhaps a major, reason for our success as a species, indeed for species’ survival in some times and places. I raised my children as omnivores, though I don’t cook meat meals, my wife is a meat-eater, I wasn’t intending to open a crusade by mentioning my view, I don’t seek tio impose it on others. Anyway, back to alleged CAGW perhaps.

      • Faustino | December 19, 2012 at 3:32 am said: ”David, if your “omnivore” teeth remark was aimed at me”

        Faustino, David jumps the gun at anything; craving to sound knowledgeable. The correct is: some omnivore don’t have canine teeth / human does. BUT, for him the truth is irrelevant – then becomes painful; when corrected – instead of saying, thanks, learned something this day…

  38. Watch the pes, as Steve McIntyre always says. In this case, it is replacing one failed policy with one that has faioled many times in the past.

    Ed Dolan:

    The solution? A pricing policy that stifles this “boomerang effect” by encouraging conservation rather than expansion of energy output.

    “A pricing policy that stifles. . .”

    Oy vey. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    At bottom, this is more of the “make usage painful, using the pricing to clobber people on the head,” school of thought. This has never worked with gasoline in the USA, and it never will, outside of the initial sticker shock. Miles driven always went back to its previous level after a brief terror by drivers.

    Why? People just take a bit to shrug their shoulders and accept the higher prices – and adjust elsewhere in their budgets.

    So this solution is a failed policy.

    Does ANYBODY learn from failed policies of the past? Or does every generation have to reinvent thousands of wheels and failed wheels?

    Steve Garcia

    End of story.

    • Steve Garcia
      Since you are apparently opposed to rational pricing (of energy, in this case), you are by implication advocating irrational pricing.

      • Agoraphobes all.
        A reason to lose reason.
        Baksheesh, Oh, Mercy.
        ==================

      • Memphis

        “Rational” pricing?

        The market will decide what is “rational” – not some fuzzy-brained guy in an ivory tower.

        Max

      • manacker, surely green academics no longer live in ivory towers, that would just encourage poaching.

      • surely green academics no longer live in ivory towers, that would just encourage poaching.

        Such rules don’t apply to the Greens. They know how to poach correctly!

  39. JC prediction: advocacy by scientists ….

    … means goodbye real science, as we’ve already seen.

  40. Is the Earth F**cked?

    I think George Carlin adequately answered this question a while back.

    • Joe's World {Progressive Evolution}

      Latimer,

      Excellent analysis by a comedian!
      Good laugh too!
      :-)

    • The genius of George Carlin is that both conservatives and liberals imagine that he’s speaking to them.

      As he says, the planet is going to be fine. Couldn’t agree more. As for mass extinctions, when was the last opportunity to witness one at first hand? We live in scientifically exciting times.

  41. Apparently can’t talk about the gorilla in the room. Wow, the delusional forces are very strong in the environmental sciences.

    • right, peak oil

      • Not talking about a proper accounting of fossil fuel reserves is about the same as a family ignoring their household budget.

        And harping about it gets certain people very upset, just like it will to select members of a family.

      • “Not talking about a proper accounting of fossil fuel reserves is about the same as a family ignoring their household budget. And harping about it gets certain people very upset, just like it will to select members of a family.”

        The problem with “a proper accounting” aka “peak oil” is that whatever truth there might be to it, it has been abused by people who scarcely know — or scarcely care — what is the truth of the matter. They’re all about pushing an agenda, and we’re lucky if it is simply personal enrichment.

        Kinda like a control freak parent using financial concerns to control their family, ie, saying that daughter can’t leave for college ’cause the family will starve, when the means are clearly available. Or using finances as a tool of spousal abuse.

        And yes, I use the same analogy for Keynesian economics. And AGW legislation.

      • Yes, it’s not a good idea to ignore the household budget.
        But it’s also not a good idea to invest good money in some half-baked scheme in the vain hope of generating some alternative income – which will likely only pay off given a good dose of luck.

      • Hey Phatboy! “But it’s also not a good idea to invest good money in some half-baked scheme in the vain hope of generating some alternative income –” How is a guy supposed to make a living with that kind of talk?

      • Capt, it’s perfectly OK to invest in whatever you see fit – I’m merely suggesting that it’s not always a good idea to bet the farm on it

      • You have a point. At least a household budget is renewable.

        Ha ha ha.

    • WHT

      You and I agree that the fossil fuel resources remaining on our planet are finite (although we might disagree on quantities).

      We also agree that, de facto, they are also fully interchangeable with today’s technology.

      The total remaining resource would cover our needs for something between 150 and 300 years (based on WEC 2010 estimates and current plus projected future consumption rates).

      Over that period, they will become increasingly difficult and costly to develop and extract, and therefore increasingly expensive (although there may be short periods of excess availability, as there is today in natural gas).

      Nuclear power is already an economically viable alternate in most locations to coal or natural gas for electrical power generation.

      So far, renewables excluding hydro (wind, solar) are only competitive in small, exceptional cases, but who knows what might be developed in the future.

      A competitive alternate has not yet been developed for motor vehicles.

      The concept of hydrogen as a motor fuel has pretty much died out for both cost and safety reasons.

      Electrical batteries are still too weak and expensive.

      There is no doubt in my mind that a competitive alternate to fossil fuels for motor vehicles will be developed long before we run out.

      So, unlike you, I do not see that we are facing a “crisis” regarding the availability of fossil fuels today.

      And I am optimistic that human ingenuity, human need and the good ol’ profit motive will lead to alternate sources long before we run out, without the need for any major government intervention or a direct or indirect carbon tax.

      Max

      • Yet you want cheap energy to lift the majority of the world out of poverty. As scarce fossil fuels will only get more scarce, then the price isn’t going anywhere but up. How again does the cheap energy equation work?

        Isn’t the cheap source of hydrocarbons that we have experienced the last century just a quirk of history? It will be over in a flash and new sources may be less dense and less available, which means that something will have to give.

      • WHT

        If energy prices go up naturally because of higher development/extraction costs that is a natural fact of life we have to live with.

        On the other hand, I would be against any artificial price increase on fossil fuels by adding a direct or indirect carbon tax; this hurts everyone (especially the poor) but doesn’t achieve anything positive for the environment.

        Max

      • Are you kidding me? They call it black gold. You punch a hole in the ground and out pops an incredibly energy dense resource. That used to be the case. Now it takes a huge amount of energy overhead to extract the stuff.

        The price will go up orders of magnitude without the authorities getting involved. And the authorities in this case are countries looking after their best interests. Why shouldn’t they try to allocate some of that precious liquid fuel to research which may come up with an alternative to said precious fuel?

        This is a fun topic to discuss because it is such a no-brainer.

      • WHT

        “Cheap energy” may just have been a “quirk of history”, as you write.

        Really “cheap oil” ended with OPEC.

        Crude will supposedly stay around $100/bbl over the immediate future. At this price, the US shale deposits look not too bad, according to estimates by Shell.

        Natural gas is too cheap right now in the USA, due to an oversupply, but that will level out again.

        The USA has significantly reduced its CO2 emissions, partly by switching some power capacity from coal to gas. It’s “carbon efficiency” (GDP generated per metric ton of CO2 emitted) increased from ~$2,200 in 2008 to over $2,700 this year, as a result. Apparently the largest improvement of any major nation, putting CO2 emissions back to 1992 levels.
        http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/the-exchange/

        And all this is happening without a direct or indirect carbon tax.

        Max

      • WHT

        Here’s that link again, this time the whole link
        http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/the-exchange/needs-kyoto-002642844.html#more-id

        Max

      • WHT,

        ” And the authorities in this case are countries looking after their best interests. Why shouldn’t they try to allocate some of that precious liquid fuel to research which may come up with an alternative to said precious fuel?”

        Countries looking after their best interests, and allocating resources accordingly. Ahhh, the state as consumer capitalist. Harnessing the power of the marketplace, channeled through the government.

        Sorry, not a new concept. A guy named Benito Mussolini organized the economy of his country around the concept. His example was mirrored by his contemporaries in Germany and Japan. And sure enough, the trains ran on time.

        There were, however, a few shall we say, negative externalities to that type of government run economy.

        There is nothing new in the climate debate.

      • And you think that multinational corporations will come up with fossil fuel replacements?

        What percentage of current reserves are tied up by nationalized oil companies?

      • Just goes to show that peak oil theory was right, and it wasn’t much of a theory to start with, just an admission that conventional crude oil was finite, conventional natural gas was finite, and we will soon see that unconventional tight oil and shale gas is finite as well, notwithstanding the usual hype that surrounds every new bottom-of-the-barrel replacement for conventional crude

        Isn’t it interesting how a small group of forward thinkers using a little bit of logic could be so dead-on target?

      • WHT

        What percentage of current reserves are tied up by nationalized oil companies?

        Here’s the answer according to WSJ
        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704852004575258541875590852.html

        . State-owned companies now control more than 75% of all crude oil production.

        The bad thing is that these outfits do not have to worry about anti-trust laws, like Standard Oil did in the past, or Exxon-Mobil does today.

        They can set up a price-fixing cartel, like OPEC, and be above the law.

        And the “world community” accepts it with a “wink and a nudge”.

        (Because it has no choice.)

        Max

      • Exactly, nationalized oil companies hold the vast majority of conventional reserves. And the multinationals such as Shell, ExxonMobil are now the dwarves at the table and are no longer that concerned about their home countries’ best interests.

        If that’s the competitive environment you want, that’s what you got. Nationalized oil companies vs multinationals vs western nations devoid of oil vs the rest of the world.

        How can one criticize a nation such as Norway, who obviously deserve the right to dole out their diminishing energy resources as they choose, within their regulation structure.

  42. The answer to Brad Werner’s question is yes, to judge by Gaia’s fertility.
    ===================================

  43. In a sane, sensible world, there would be:

    1. Little use made of ‘renewable’ energy because of its high cost and unreliability, except in isolated areas, where it obviously makes sense.

    2. A ‘dash for gas’ through the proven technology of fracking and where supplies are abundant and relatively cheap. Greenies unfortunately highlight the non-problems of ground water pollution (it was almost always already polluted), or of associated seismic events, which are usually too small to be noticeable and never large enough to cause any harm.

    3. A huge investment in nuclear power – but please can we build these plants in large batches of the same design, so that they can be economically competitive. Greenies will worry about i) radioactive waste disposal, a problem which was solved long ago, but often ignored by penny pinching bureaucrats, and ii) meltdowns etc – with today’s technologies and as long as you build these plants outside an earthquake zone, this is not a problem.

    Unfortunately, we do not live in a sane, sensible world.

    • The chances, Peter, from history, suggest eventual reversion toward sanity in energy policy. Hope springs eternal in the human beast.
      ====================

    • Peter Miller,

      I agree. But even better is they are small, made in factories, transported to site, returned to factory for refuelling and eventual disposal. They are small so they can be ordered like we order gas turbines – i.e just in time for installation. This greatly reduces investor risk. Small units meens more are produced, more often and lessons learned are incorporated more quickly – like passenger aircraft.

    • David Springer

      Nuclear power is a counter-productive rat hole. Electricity has far more problems than mere generation of it. Fracking is fine as far as it goes but it’s an interim solution to a non-pressing problem. The cost of electricity isn’t an issue. The issue is that uncounted trillions of dollars in global infrastructure is built around liquid hydrocarbon fuels and while natural gas might provide a feedstock for suitable liquid fuels the price of conversion makes the final product more expensive than extant products and that is simply not an acceptable long term solution. Fossil fuels are stepping stones to something far superior. Write that down.

    • Peter, we are doing your 1 & 2 and because of 2 we do not presently need 3. We build power plants for today’s needs under today’s rules. But we are also in the midst of a social movement called environmentalism. You may think it insane but others do not, so there we are.

    • Peter Miller is shortsighted and irresponsible. Natural gas is a bridge fuel to renewables, but Peter incorrectly assumes there’s an unlimited supply of natural gas so there’s no need to develop renewables. In his call for a “dash to gas” he incorrectly assumes fracking is risk-free, so there’s no need to go ahead with it carefully.

      • Natgas is more likely to be a bridge fuel to nuclear and coal gassification than to renewables. Renewables do not work for fundamental reasons.

      • T. Boone Pickens and I don’t agree with you, David. Pickens’ Plan stresses development of renewable energy sources.

        “There are several pillars to the Pickens Plan:

        ▪Use America’s abundant natural gas to replace imported oil as a transportation fuel;

        ▪Build a 21st century backbone electrical transmission grid;

        ▪Develop renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power; and,

        ▪Provide incentives to homeowners and the owners of commercial buildings to upgrade their insulation and increase efficiency.”

        http://www.pickensplan.com/theplan

      • Matthew R Marler

        David Wojick: Renewables do not work for fundamental reasons.

        Renewables work but they are at present more expensive than the alternatives. Continuing R&D has brought down the prices and may continue to do so. Should humans succeed in reducing the prices sufficiently, then they will be fine sources of energy, maybe the most abundant of all (“maybe”, because there is a lot of harvestable nuclear power, and eventually [200 years or so] fusion energy.)

      • Once T. Boone gets his natural gas “bridge,” he won’t care about the wind and solar part. Kind of like Democrats promise gladly to cut spending tomorrow for more taxes today.

      • David Springer

        Photovoltaic and solar thermal are greater boondoggles than ethanol from corn. Nuclear is still far more expensive than natural gas and not an environmental panacea either without much realistic hope of drastic improvement. Liquifiaction of coal & natural gas may work to break the addiction to foreign oil which would be nice but I wouldn’t bank on it. At $100/bbl+ for light sweet crude alternatives become more attractive. The problem is $100/bbl is choking the lglobal economy with a never ending recession.

      • Max_OK

        Pickens is more than just a smart old coot.

        His idea of wind farms to “free up” nat gas as a motor fuel hasn’t gone anywhere yet, but he is poised to make a fortune if it does.

        Nat gas as a motor fuel makes good sense with or without the wind farms, especially at today’s low gas prices. Australia has been doing it for trucks for years.

        And there is a lot of gas in all that shale.

        And all the fracas about fracking is just that. Do a good job with casing and cementing, don’t allow fracking in shallow formations, and there is no real environmental problem.

        Renewables excl. hydro (wind, solar) are OK for small, local demand, but are too unreliable to ever cover a major part of the demand.

        Max_not from OK

      • Re manacker’s post, December 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        There’s nothing wrong with Pickens or me making more money. As a holder of mineral rights, I’m for any policy that drives up the price of natural gas, so I believe adding to the demand for natural gas by encouraging it’s use as fuel in transportation would be a good thing. I make more more money and the nation’s dependence on foreign oil is reduced. It’s win, win.

        I disagree with you on renewables. I believe renewables are the future. And it’s not because I am invested in renewables.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Peter MIller: In a sane, sensible world, there would be:

      4. R&D investment in all promising alternatives. A sane person has to recognize that there is value in diversity of sources, and the future costs of all alternatives can’t be known.

      5. Recognition of the need for military power from time to time, hence a need for replenishable, reliable fuels.

    • Matthew –

      Renewables work but they are at present more expensive than the alternatives.

      How do you know this to be true if you haven’t done a full cost accounting?

      • Joshua

        Check the internet.

        Several studies have been made on the relative economics of renewables (wind/solar) with other sources.

        They generally show that these renewables are OK for small, local demand, but too unreliable, as they are today, to ever become economically viable as a major energy source.

        Max

      • Manacker –

        Since you know what they “generally show,” then surely you can point me to a particular analysis that includes a full cost accounting for the large scale impact of particulate matter from coal, pollution and political costs from oil, etc.

      • Joshua its pretty simple.

        By 2050, the world will need somewhere between 16 and 100 terrawatts, depending on how you want the 6 billion people without power to live.
        If you want all 9 billion to have a standard of living of equatorial new guina , then you’d need less than 10 Terrawatts.

        How do you get there with renewables? you can’t

      • steven –

        How do you get there with renewables? you can’t

        Can we get there with fossil fuels? If so, at what cost? Pending your answers those questions, what was your point?

    • “3. A huge investment in nuclear power – but please can we build these plants in large batches of the same design”

      Which is why they will come from China and India…not the other way around. In order to do a ‘large batch’ of nuclear power plants in the US we would have to prematurely close perfectly good existing power plants.

      Even a nuclear power plant that has been built in the most efficient manner is more expensive then a coal or gas plant that is already paid for.

      The Chinese and Indian’s need 1,000 GW’s worth of nuclear power plants tomorrow morning at 9 AM. They’ll eventually work out how to build a 100GW’s worth a single year.

  44. Peter Miller

    Agreed.

    After all the ivory tower fuzzy logic has died down about “a pricing policy that stifles this ‘boomerang effect’ by encouraging conservation rather than expansion of energy output”, we can return to common sense solutions to real problems, as you suggest.

    We just have to make sure that the ivory tower guys don’t become policy makers. And, by all means, keep them away from our wallets.

    Max

  45. Willis Eschenbach writes:

    So no, I do not want the price of energy driven higher by taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, pricing of supposed externalities, renewables standards, or for any other reason.

    I agree fully.

    The whole concept of artificially “pricing energy higher” in order to “encourage conservation rather than expansion of energy output” is a boondoggle, thought up in an ivory tower by elitist individuals that are arrogant and conceited enough to think they know better what’s best for us all than we do, and supported by the ruling class, who see an opportunity to gain more power through added taxes.

    As they say in New York City, “gitriddadabums”.

    Max

    .

    • I agree. Everything humans have is from two inputs: human ingenuity and energy. It is absolutely wrong to try to raise the cost of energy.

      • If you believe everything we have is from two inputs, human ingenuity and energy, you haven’t thought this through. Try raising crops without soil, seed, and water.

        Raising the cost of energy is a great idea if you are selling energy or want to encourage more efficient use of energy.

      • “If you believe everything we have is from two inputs, human ingenuity and energy, you haven’t thought this through. Try raising crops without soil, seed, and water. ”

        Most seeds you would want use, will have been made by human ingenuity. Most plant food you eat is has created thousands of years of breeding- they are not natural, and would die off in nature- corn, wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, fruits, berries, nuts. Anything close to wild varieties are exceptions, rather than the rule.
        For most people who use computers, water which is used is also provided by human ingenuity. Soil would have been used up if not for human ingenuity. And soil is made by human ingenuity. One does need to use soil to grow plants. And blasted rock or lunar regolith can be used to grow plants.
        One thing you miss, microbes- that is something humans need, and didn’t deliberately create them- other than varieties for such things as beer, bread, and yogurt. And they found rather then cultivated- they could considered mostly wild.

      • gbaikie said on December 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

        “Most seeds you would want use, will have been made by human ingenuity.”
        _____

        I would like to see you make some seed. Just put you in an empty room, and give you all day to produce some seed. Sperm doesn’t count. I want to see you make some seed for plants like corn and wheat.

      • Peter

        The two key ingredients for our current affluence, high quality of life and long life expectancy have indeed been a reliable, low-cost source of energy and human ingenuity, as you wrote.

        As poorer nations develop, these factors will also play a major role.

        Artificially pricing energy high by imposing a direct or indirect carbon tax in order to satisfy a “rich white man’s guilt-driven obsession with CO2″ is the wrong way to go – especially for these poorer nations, as everyone agrees.

        Besides, it will achieve nothing for the environment. Zilch. Nada.

        Max_OK hasn’t been able to grasp this as yet, but give him time.

        Max

      • The two key ingredients for our current affluence, high quality of life and long life expectancy have indeed been a reliable, low-cost source of energy and human ingenuity, as you wrote.

        Actually, not that access to energy and innovation aren’t important, but I would consider political freedoms, protective securities, social opportunities, etc. to be absolute requirements of our ability to sustain a high quality of life, live longer, etc. Funny that you leave those factors out of the equation.

      • Max,

        Max_OK hasn’t been able to grasp this as yet, but give him time.

        By “give him time”, are you thinking in terms of hours, days, weeks, months, years or decades?

      • Joshua,

        Funny that you leave those factors out of the equation.

        They are developed from human ingenuity. Funny (no, pathetic) you can’t understand that.

      • Funny (no, pathetic) you can’t understand that.

        Well, Peter, all I can say is that I do the best I can with my limited understanding.

        But despite my limited understanding, at least I don’t “postulate” completely implausible conspiracy theories to find causality between obviously unassociated events and based on laughable and delusional over-evaluation of the importance of my posts.

        You wouldn’t happen to know anyone like that, would you?

      • The ‘best he can do with his limited understanding’ is miss an obvious point, get testy when his sad lack is pointed at, and then get nasty. Imagine him without limits.
        =================

      • Raising the cost of energy is a great idea if you are selling energy or want to encourage more efficient use of energy.

        Actually, encouraging more efficient use of energy is putting the cart before the horse. If you want to use energy, it is to your advantage to use it efficiently. It will enable you to use more energy (or the same amount at lesser cost), the objective. Efficient use of that energy should merely be a means to the end.

      • manacker said December 18, 2012 at 6:40 pm

        “Peter

        The two key ingredients for our current affluence, high quality of life and long life expectancy have indeed been a reliable, low-cost source of energy and human ingenuity, as you wrote.

        As poorer nations develop, these factors will also play a major role.

        Artificially pricing energy high by imposing a direct or indirect carbon tax in order to satisfy a “rich white man’s guilt-driven obsession with CO2″ is the wrong way to go – especially for these poorer nations, as everyone agrees.

        Besides, it will achieve nothing for the environment. Zilch. Nada.

        Max_OK hasn’t been able to grasp this as yet, but give him time.”
        _______

        I grasp you are an anti-American pollution advocate who would like to see developing nations spoil the planet for
        my descendants. Fortunately, you are a member of the shrinking old-conservative-guy demographic, a group of fuddy duddies the younger generation ignores, other than to laugh at. My 5-year old nephew would call you an “old poot face.”

      • The mask drops: ‘Let ‘em eat dungcake.
        =============

      • Max_OK @ 10.56, I’ve always thought that Swiss-max was pro-American, as am I. But sometimes, in our friendship, we try to save you from yourselves.

      • Faustino said on December 19, 2012 at 3:46 am

        “Max_OK @ 10.56, I’ve always thought that Swiss-max was pro-American, as am I. But sometimes, in our friendship, we try to save you from yourselves.”
        _____

        Swiss-Max is neutral, but if he lived in the U.S., neutral would be considered anti-American. It’s not that he wants China to surpass the U.S. as a world power, he just doesn’t care one way or the other. After all we Americans have done to help the Swiss, I would expect better.

    • That’s because you and Willis like to pollute and deplete. I don’t like to do either.

  46. Peter Lang

    The term “full cost pricing” has been bandied about by the ivory tower guys, as if it were some magic solution to all problems.

    Suppliers make sure that their costs are fully covered in the price they charge.

    This goes for energy suppliers like everyone else.

    Included are any costs they incur to comply with environmental regulations, anti-pollution laws, etc.

    There is no artificial cost adder (i.e. tax) required – this is simply a boondoggle.

    Max

    Max

  47. David Springer

    “JC comment: Amazing. JC’s second suggestion for Brad Werner: factor innovation and disruptive/transformational technologies into your model.”

    Maybe easier said than done. Prediction is hard, especially about the future. The mother of all transformational technologies, synthetic biology, is progressing rapidly. Its promise to provide abundant synthetic fuels is just the beginning of what engineers can produce with it. Self-reproducing, self-repairing microscopic robots able to assemble anything possible with molecule by molecule precision powered by sunlight and using atmospheric carbon as the main construction material. It’s the pinnacle of transformational technologies. All others just led up to it.

    My prediction is that before 2050 concern about atmospheric CO2 will be reversed and we’ll be worried about removing too much of it in the construction of durable goods made of carbon composites. Mark my words.

    The usual suspects amongst climate scientists have little faith in real science coming up with solutions that do not involve compromises in living standards. They’re really just another collection of nattering nabobs of negativity interering with the progress of practical science and engineering by trying to redirect it into counter-productive rat holes. A pox on them all.

    • “nattering nabobs of negativity,” eh? I’ll put that aside for future use.

    • Someone has to provide a kick in the pants to get us going. Civilization would rather stew in its own juices rather than address the issues head on. Of course, progressive-minded scientists lead by progressive-minded governments will lead the charge.

  48. Dolan, as I understand it full cost pricing includes legal and regulatory effect on prices. In that case it seems like the system you are callimg for already exists. You may personally want some added claimed costs included, like carbon, while I think some bogus costs are already included, like mercury pollution, but in your terms we are just arguing about tweaks. Nor do I believe our energy use is excessive.

    Congress considers everything so what is it you want systemwise that we do not already have? Central planning of cost perhaps? It kind of sounds like it. Otherwise I do not see what you want besides tweaks.

  49. Werner looks like Club of Rome with feedback. Humans rise up to prevent their own destruction by throwing off the chains of excessive consumption. He must be talking about revolution not just activist scientists. Welcome to the new AGU.

  50. Some reading for our free-market fetishists, who think that “the market” prices the externalities of fossil fuels:

    Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.” We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive. We focus on Appalachia, though coal is mined in other regions of the United States and is burned throughout the world.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05890.x/abstract

    It is interesting to note the selective concern about “boondoggles.” As it stands, there is no question that our current decision-makers for energy, military, and agricultural policy development travel a revolving door to the defense, energy, and chemical/big ag industries.

    Boondoggle are us.

    We have met the boondoggle, and it is us.

    • Joshua, “Boondoggle are us.”

      Welcome to reality. We will F_ck up. The bigger the F_ck up the greater the consequences.

      The “smart” grid, which would be involved with the majority of electrical systems, provides one convenient F_uck up central.

      Government intervention that limits creative solutions with over regulation ensures consolidation which creates a new F_uck up central.

      An unregulated free market can create monopolies that would create a F_uck up central.

      How big would you like you F_uck up?

      I like smaller F_uck ups and the make up sex that follows.

    • The electric power industry not the coal industry generates most of these waste streams and both pay heavily for them, in some cases far more than their hazard cost. The health hazards have been wildly exaggerated and thus over regulated for decades, with more exaggerations coming now via the war on coal.

    • Joshua

      “We have met the boondoggle, and it is us.”

      Truer words were never spoken.

      And this one is a true mega-boondoggle in the making.

      Here’s how it reads to me:

      Well-intentioned(?), but slightly confused ivory tower experts will decide (centrally and top-down) what’s best for us environmentally long-term (whether we know it or not) and then “price” everything to include its projected ecological impact in order to force us to make the environmentally-friendly choices we should be making in their opinion.

      The scheme will be supported by the ruling class, who will use it as an opportunity for enhanced public revenues, to be used to finance pet projects, reward friends and increase personal power – a bonanza.

      All sorts of individuals and organizations will scramble to get a piece of the action – corporations, investors, scientific organizations, environmental lobby groups, etc. – a super boondoggle for all.

      And the wonderful thing is that it will all be for a good cause – to “save the planet for our grandchildren”

      Whoopie!

      Max

      • The shattering irony, Max, is that the fragility of the construct is that it is the mirror image of reality.
        ======

      • Regulate computers around the world, require that all run on solar panels.
        Think of the immediate surplus for the power grid.
        Free Power for Pensioners!

        Grid-Computers=Surplus Energy for All
        Dream on…

    • Joshua

      “We focus on Appalachia”

      Because that will give you the highest externalities in the US.

      Socialized costs are socialized costs. We have a social decision making process called democracy that determines whether or not those costs should be socialized.

      Pull the plug on Central Appalacian Coal in a sudden manner and you will get an externality called ‘poverty’ across much of the eastern seaboard that will be a heavy socialized cost.

      To be fair I’ve never seen a ‘externalized cost analysis’ that didn’t use cherry pick data. A study that focus’s on central appalacia which is on ‘one end’ of the scale of exteralities is no better then big coal’s focus on the other end.

      It’s why ‘externalized costs’ become a useless device for discussion. Each side picks a poster child of ‘best practices and worst practices’.

      If I added up all the people who supposedly died every year from this,that or the other ‘evil corporate polluter’ the population of the world would be exactly zero. Since the population of the world is greater then zero something is being exaggerated.

      • harry –

        Socialized costs are socialized costs. We have a social decision making process called democracy that determines whether or not those costs should be socialized.

        As I think you know from the CaS threads, I’m a big believer in the democratic process despite its inevitable flaws. Indeed, our democracy has determined, thus far, to socialize the cost of externalities from fossil fuels, and it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t discuss that process by which that happens or ignore the outsized influence of the energy, defense, and big ag industries in bringing that result about. It also doesn’t mean that statements that those externalities are prices into the cost of fossil fuels by “the market” are accurate.

        Pull the plug on Central Appalacian Coal in a sudden manner and you will get an externality called ‘poverty’ across much of the eastern seaboard that will be a heavy socialized cost.

        This looks suspiciously like strawman. I, for one, am not suggesting that we not consider the impact (harm) of protecting the public from “harm,” as discussed by Faustino here:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/12/17/limits-of-green-energy-is-the-earth-f_ked/#comment-277650

        But if we’re going to socialize the cost of coal in Appalachia, then we should consider it in perspective against socializing other initiatives that might not have the same negative externalities. My point is, again, that the argument that costing negative externalities is problematic and prone to the influence of bias, while valid, seems to ignore the problems and biases of not costing negative externalities. Along those lines:

        To be fair I’ve never seen a ‘externalized cost analysis’ that didn’t use cherry pick data.

        To not consider the cost of externalities is cherry-picking, even more so when you then make highly certain statements about the comparative costs and benefits of fossil fuels vs. alternative sources of energy.

        A study that focus’s on central appalacia which is on ‘one end’ of the scale of exteralities is no better then big coal’s focus on the other end.

        That depends on whether or not that study speciously generalizes to an overall analysis on the basis of that particular area. If you look at the study, you will find that it does not employ such specious analysis. On the other hand, a consideration of the problem without taking into account the extreme circumstances would be cherry picking.

        If I added up all the people who supposedly died every year from this,that or the other ‘evil corporate polluter’ the population of the world would be exactly zero.

        Unless I see some evidence, that looks like hyperbole to me. I don’t doubt that there are assessments of externalities that overestimate the negative externalities in relation to the positive externalities, just I have no doubt (because I have seen it happen over and over an over) that there are assessments that overestimate the positive externalities in relation to the negative externalities. I don’t doubt that there are assessments that are off by “sizeable factor[s]” as Pekka describes. Such is life. I don’t see that as a reason to discount the importance of a full effort to evaluate externalities (both the negative and the positive).

        What I find characteristic of “skeptics,” as opposed to skeptics, is that they will talk about the positive externalities ’till the cows come home (often exaggerating them in the process), but when someone starts talking about negative externalities, they throw up their hands and with a binary mentality, conclude that if there are problems in the process it is therefore without value.

      • Josh @ 8.36, you give me too much credit, that was a straight quote from Coase’s seminal paper. On the broader points, we’ll never have a complete understanding or assessment of the costs and benefits of anything, in theory we should analyse to the point where the benefits of further analysis are greater than the costs, in practice we’ll generally be a bit rough and ready or will never take action.

        So, yes, I strongly support CBA of government policy and decisions, and taking account of externalities where appropriate, but we will never have precise, certain estimates with uncertain knowledge and even more uncertain outcomes. So we get on with it, hopefully with goodwill and not too woeful an assessment. And as I’ve said many times, I would give little value to more distant costs and benefits in an uncertain world.

      • Joshua,
        BigAg and Big Energy don’t have ‘outsized influences’.

        Consumers have ‘outsized influence’. Safeway doesn’t have an ‘organic food’ aisle because of ‘Big Ag’,

        Safeway has an organic food aisle because many it’s customers are willing to pay the extra cost for organic food.

        Who is ‘Big Ag’ anyway? Is ‘Big Ag’ John Noonemaker of Noonemaker Farms Inc, Washtucna,WA, population 250. He lives in a modest house and his farm tractor is bigger then his house. The size of his wheat fields is enormous.

        My primary form of transportation is a motor scooter…I usually buy about 1-2 gallons of gasoline per week. For some bizarre reason people driving gas hogs find it necessary to inform me of the ‘big oil conspiracy’ when ever I buy gas. The ‘big oil conspiracy’ is people who drive big gas hogs and find it necessary to inform anyone who will listen that the ‘price is too high’. The last I checked representatives of Exxon Mobil aren’t hanging out at Billy Joe Bob’s Auto Emporium pressuring people to buy big cars. People who ‘vote’ want big cars, and they want the fuel to be ‘cheap’.

      • Joshua,

        My point is that if you don’t need to use externalized cost accounting to make a case then don’t, it simply muddies the water.

        Central Appalachian Coal has the highest extraction costs in the US .

        As a result the ‘bar’ for finding ‘cheaper alternatives’ is already low.
        Just ask Georgia Power , SC&G or the various utilities in Florida. The discussion of future generating capacity is limited to natural gas or nuclear.

        Here is the press release on closure of a number of coal fired plants by SC&G.
        http://www.sceg.com/en/news-room/current-news/sceg-announces-plans-to-retire-a-portion-of-its-coal-fired-generation.htm

        ‘Peak Coal’ in West Virgina occurred in 1947. West Virginian coal is 12.4% of US production. ‘Peak Coal’ in Pennsylvania occurred in 1918.

        Coal production by state
        http://www.nma.org/pdf/c_production_state_rank.pdf
        Wyoming is #1 with 438 million tons of production

        Coal consumption by State
        http://www.nma.org/pdf/c_use_state.pdf
        Texas makes #1 with more then 100 million tons per year consumed.

        Texas doesn’t burn any coal mined in the Appalachians.

      • harry –

        BigAg and Big Energy don’t have ‘outsized influences’

        You generally write sensible comments, IMO. I can’t put that one in that category.

        (1) They spend a lot on lobbying. They do so fore a reason; lobbying gives them outsized influence, (2) in addition to that, (and as I mentioned above), energy and agriculture-related policies are developed by people who walk through a revolving door to those industries (it is bi-partisan). No different than the defense industry or the financial industry.
        Of course other lobbies have influence. On a dramatically different scale.

        And the fact that consumers as a collective entity have influence does not negate the disproportionate influence of lobbying. Not you too with the binary mentality?

      • harry –

        A question. Do you think it is merely a coincidence that those industries spend so much on lobbying? Do you think it is irrelevant that people from those industries (disproportionately) sit at the table where policy is formulated?

    • market fetishes? really Joshua you need to examine how your biases are keeping you from effective communication of your points. You like democracy. It might be worthwhile to consider the fact that you are trying to convince other stakeholders. Or maybe not. Dunno

      • David Springer

        Are you saying those in power would listen to Joshua if only he spruced up his rants a bit? I don’t which of you is the more delusional.

  51. If only we could shake the shackles of more CO2 in the atmosphere being harmful, then we could make progress in renewable energy. The issue with renewable energy is storage; we have to be able to store the energy so that we can use it when we want to. There are all sorts of technologies out there, which are waiting to be engineered. If governments would just stay out of things, and maybe help occasionally, but not interfer, then I am sure progress will be made.

    I believe the sun gives us something like 1000 times the energy that we consume. So we need to tap just a small fraction of this, and we will make enormous progress. There is no hurry. North Amercia is swimming in hydrocarbons at the moment, and if we succeed in mining methyl hydrates, this excess will only increase. And large parts of the world can follow. In the meanwhile, there are various technologies available that mimic photosynthesis. If we can increase the concentration of CO2 by capturing it from, for example, power plants, then this could be very useful.

    There is already a fish farm in the Sinai desert, and a greenhouse just outside Adelaide, with a second one to be built near Doha. The UK has produced 5 litres of gasoline from the air. We can turn waste agricultural products into ethanol. And so on and so forth. Let us get rid of this nonsense of CAGW, and let private enterprise loose. I wont say we will solve our problems, but I am sure we will make enormous progress.

    • If all of the sun’s energy which reaches the earth, Jim, were used to support humans, the theoretical maximum population of the earth is in the quadrillions. I use 100 watts per person. This is a theoretical maximum, practically impossible, but it is also approximately a million times the present human population of the earth.

      A tiny increase in our percentage use of the sun’s energy, a la Borlaug, would sustain a much larger global population than at present in a life style to which we would all like to become accustomed.

      I mentioned this awhile ago, and Pekka had some excellent reasoning which pointed to a more practical limit, but we are surely far from it. And we’ve not even needed imported, extraterrestrial, energy for this little exercise.

      The Doomsayers, the Alarmists, what they mostly, and so so sadly, lack, is imagination.
      =================

      • David Springer

        kim | December 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply

        “If all of the sun’s energy which reaches the earth, Jim, were used to support humans, the theoretical maximum population of the earth is in the quadrillions.”

        Support them how? Living things already occupy every conceivable niche and then some including niches where geothermal energy instead of sunlight provides the motive power. So there’s a maximized amount of biomass extant at nearly all times. Modification of the surface so it absorbs more light can increase that some. Getting out from under the ice age, for instance, would generate a great increase in terrestrial biomass. Antarctica used to be temperate forest before the ice age came along and froze the poles year-round. Yet most of the biomass is in the oceans and I’m not sure that would rise a whole lot, if any, if the ice age ended. So what you end up with is a tradeoff. More humans means less of something else. There’s only so much biomass higher in the food chain that the primary producers (green plants) can feed. While plants are relatively inefficient at capturing solar energy what they don’t capture goes towards making the world warm enough for plants to grow in the first place. So it appears to me that the earth supports as much life as possible already.

      • So it appears to me that the earth supports as much life as possible already.

        Every generation has thought that, David.

        And they were all wrong.

        Since 1970 world population has grown 1.9 times.

        Over the same period, world crop yields have increased 2.4 times, starvation rates have decreased, quality of life has improved and life expectancy has increased markedly.

        Population growth is expected to slow down dramatically from the past rates, and this slowdown has already started.

        If world population grows to 10 to 10.5 billion by 2100, this will be an increase of 1.4 to 1.5 times today’s population.

        Do you seriously think it is not possible that global crop yields and wealth (expressed as GDP) will grow by a higher percentage?

        If so, why?

        Max

        PS We have no Earthly notion what our world will look like in 2100. That’s why it is so patently absurd for IPCC to attempt to prophesy what our climate will look like then, and anyone who believes this rubbish just hasn’t used his/her head.

      • The quadrillions of humans figure, David, comes if all energy is devoted to supporting human life, a theoretical maximum, practically impossible for many reasons including those you point out.

        Nonetheless, the figure is a shock, and serves to remind just how much energy from the sun does reach the earth.
        ==============

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Jim Cripwell said:

      “I believe the sun gives us something like 1000 times the energy that we consume. So we need to tap just a small fraction of this, and we will make enormous progress.”
      _____
      Yes, we have our big fusion plant out in space, with great shielding from it, and very very low cost of maintenance. Maximizing the recovery of the free energy that comes from this fusion plant through a complete mastery of artificial photosynthesis is the obvious way forward. 2012 saw huge strides in this area, and the reality of being able get maximum energy from every w/m^2 that falls at the surface is closer than some realize. See:

      http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429681/artificial-photosynthesis-effort-takes-root/

      • TSW, a question I asked a long time ago and still don’t have a satisfactory answer for is if we capture more of the sun’s energy, by whatever means, will that heat up the earth. Obviously, energy doesn’t necessarily turn into heat and warming, but some methods of capture will certainly yield heat more than others will. How about photosynthesis? I doubt the answer is as hotly disputed as whether an increased concentration of CO2 will raise the temperature.
        ================

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        That’s a great question Kim, and one I don’t have a ready answer. My off the cuff “guess” is that the heat load per capita from a civilization powered by artificial photosynthesis is far less than any other technology could be. It will cool the planet a much as trees do. But that’s just my guess. I’d like to hear others thoughts.

      • David Springer

        Kim, conservation of energy rules the day as usual. If the artificial leaves are darker than the surface they replace there will be more heat generated at the surface eventually. It may be delayed somewhat as it is in real leaves which store a portion of the solar energy in chemical bonds. The bonds will eventually break and release heat when they do. Artificial leaves do the same thing.

      • David Springer

        Gates, trees don’t always cool the surface. They’re darker than the bare rocks that would be there otherwise. Evaporation that occurs in the leaves during the growing season serves to transport the energy away from the surface without making anything warmer. You may have missed one of the memos produced by your cohorts in criminal stupidity recently. Global warming in the far north is fostering an increase in some kind of tree which doesn’t shed its leaves in the winter thus instead of a white snowfield reflecting all the winter sun without heating the surface it’s more covered over by dark green pine needles which absorb the light instead. Pines don’t evaporate much water in the winter to compensate so you end up with a warmer surface. I’m not sure I buy it. Pines in my experience tend to get a top coat of snow & ice in the winter so viewed from above they’re just as white as the rest of the landscape.

      • Thanks both of you.
        =========

  52. David

    You make sense.

    But let’s look at another area where central planners could step in to solve a problem.

    We (in the western world) eat a lot of beef.

    Cattle generate methane.

    Methane is a powerful GHG.

    Not only is it initially ten times as powerful as CO2, but it converts to CO2 long-term so never goes away.

    So let’s “price” beef so it carries the full environmental cost of the GH warming from the methane, by adding a “methane tax”.

    We could also implement a similar “full cost price” for pork, lamb, etc. based on the relative methane emissions figured back per pound of meat.

    Of course, we would need a new department of bureaucrats to manage this whole tax scheme.

    Dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, could also be included.

    By penalizing those who consume these less environmentally friendly foods,
    we could steer the public into eating the more environmentally friendly foods, which they should be eating.

    And thereby save the planet for future generations.

    The mind boggles.

    Max

    • How about a hypocrisy tax? All that is needed to eliminate the Leftist and liberal hypocrisy in America is to allow the productive to charge overtime for having to respond to all of the made-up, monkey-fingered BS, fears, delusions and insanity of the gurus of anti-capitalism on the Left who push the idea that ‘CO2 is a poison.’ They do that to fleece the public. The Left does not really believe in capitalism so why deliver electricity to a house full of Leftists for the same price as anyone else who voluntarily buys into the capitalistic system that makes providing needed goods and services more affordable? When all of the people in the house say the coal you burn to create electricity is killing the planet, let them eat cake to stay warm on cold winter days.

    • OK, but not cheese.

      • Max_OK, oh, exclude the cheese eh? Not excluding cheese would ensure a healthy veal supply, since that is a by-product. You have to eliminate ALL dairy in order to properly protect the world and keep PETA on board.

        http://www.exploreveg.org/issues/dairy.html

        Look what you cheese desires cause! Oh, the bovinity.

      • I don’t like cheese made with vegetable rennet. So what !
        I’m not a 100% vegetarian anyway.

        I haven’t tried cheese made with microbial rennet, so I don’t know whether I would like it.

        God gave us cheese, wine, and beer because he likes us.

      • Max_OK, “God gave us cheese, wine, and beer because he likes us.”

        Can I get an Amen Brethren!

      • Keep this up Max and I may be in the strange position of agreeing with you more often than not. Unlikely, as it may appear.

        If I was limited to growing three things, it would be wheat, grapes and olives. (I’d have to figure out a way to bend the rules to get hops, herbs and a few fruit trees in there.) Barley, as a cousin to wheat, gets counted as such.

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Max said:

      “We (in the western world) eat a lot of beef.”

      —–
      Hence one of the reasons that obesity is a bigger issue than hunger. Too much beef and too much sugar. But addictions are hard things to break, eh?

      • The Skeptical Warmist | December 18, 2012 at 9:49 pm said: ”“We (in the western world) eat a lot of beef.”

        gates, obviously you are not eating that beef; so what’s your problem? let people chose for themselves. They don’t force you to eat meat, why the jealousy, for people enjoying a good meal? Obesity.. well if he dies earlier, there are plenty people left; no shortage of people. You want to leave to 100, why? Two lifespans – leaving for two… Before the industrial revolution – lifespan was 48years – you hate the industrial revolution = 48 and off you go, make space for the newborn, promise? .

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        People who are overweight because they consume too many calories and not for medical reasons are an insult to those who go hungry every day.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        And BTW stefanthedenier, it’s not how long you live but how you live. I’m not jealous of anyone, but pity many. Even so, we’re all headed to the same place…back to dust. Enjoy the ride…

      • Argentinians eat more beef than (USA) Americans do.

        Yet they have less obesity.

        US obesity is not a “beef” issue.

        It’s a “total calorie” issue.

        More total calories in than are burned.

        And, strangely enough, it appears to be a “poverty” issue (there is less obesity among the “well-to-do” than among the “less well-to-do”).

        In the super-affluent USA the poor are overfed!

        But this is not “an insult to those who go hungry every day”.

        It’s just a fact of life.

      • RG,

        RE this: “People who are overweight because they consume too many calories and not for medical reasons are an insult to those who go hungry every day”

        How do you view people who say the world is overpopulated and advocate for reducing resource usage in order to “save” something for future generations?

        As for the obese, don’t you think that people who spend billions on their pets would be further to the front of the line when it comes to insulting the hungry?

        I personally would place corrupt or incompetent officials at the front. Look into food distribution in India and see if you disagree.

        That said, STD could stand to learn a little civility.

  53. I also question Dolan’s rather facile claim that all of the positive benefits of fossil fuel use are somehow already factored into the price while some of the big negative externalities are not. People know they like a comfortable temperature, cooked food and computers but they no more know all the beneficial results of these things then they know about the negative results.

    • There’s always all of these pesky unintended consequences that Leftists are too stupid to take into consideration when planning their liberal Utopia. For example, stop showering–go stinky Euro and save water and the energy it takes to heat it. Great idea but, how much energy will it take to mop up the whale puke it will take to make all of the perfume you’ll need to get a date?

      • A real man doesn’t need hot water to shower.

        A real man is turned on by the scent of a woman.

      • A real woman doesn’t need hot water to shower.

        A real woman is turned on by the scent of a man.

        Right-wingers are softies and don’t know what smells good.

      • In the end the Leftist pipe dream always stinks. “In the mid-’90s, Rhode Island, in an effort to give its marine industry a boost, eliminated almost all taxes on boats and boating. Rhode Island officials learned a valuable lesson from the disastrous effects of the ill-conceived federal luxury tax of 1990, which caused more than 19,000 marine industry jobs to be lost nationwide, and drove many boat manufacturers out of business. Boat sales dropped by 40 percent and the overall tax revenue was lower than pre-luxury tax levels. It also kick-started the continuing trend to have boats built outside the U.S. The unemployment compensation benefits paid out were more than three times greater than the tax revenue generated. When the federal government realized its mistake and repealed the 1990 luxury tax in 1993, much damage was already done to America’s boating industry.” (Rives Potts, The Hartford Courant)

      • Max,

        You are correct on this one. A person doesn’t need hot water to shower.

        However most would prefer showering with hot water than cold. Any good reasons for why this preference should be disallowed?

      • Well, one reason is you don’t use as much water when cold showering.

      • Max_OK

        Yeah. But you use more soap.

        Max_not from OK

      • Who said anything about using soap?

      • Max,

        While I have tried to limit my experience showering with cold water, I do have a pretty solid background with using limited water while showering. Nuclear submarines are capable of producing fresh water from sea water. However the primary demand for that water is for feedwater. After that it can be directed towards potable storage. One result of this is a limit on laundry and shower activities. Our entire department was limited to one window a week for doing laundry. Sea showers were the order of the day. Which was why one of the things we looked forward to the most, after fresh milk, eggs and produce, were “hotel” showers – ie one you can enjoy as long as you like.

        In otherwords, if water conservation is the goal, mandating cold showers is not a requirement to achieving it.

  54. To All,

    Competing visions of reliance on alternative energy and reliance on increased shale gas production will play out over the next few weeks and months in Britain as part of the U.K. Government’s proposed Energy Bill. The Conservative chair of the House of Commons Energy Committee has just placed himself in open opposition to the Conservative-led U.K. Government in that regard – see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/9752371/Government-is-seduced-by-shale-gas-says-Energy-Committee-chair.html .

    Separately, with respect to Lab Meat, I am surprised to see nothing in these 150+ comments about the 1973 movie Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston (http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/soylent-green/# and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_Green). Perhaps that says something about how old I have become.

    Best wishes to all for the holiday season and the New Year.

    MK

    • lol I thought the same thing. With the fungus based Lab Meat, a little Psilocybin could explain the current state of science and politics.

    • The DT said that “If Mr Yeo manages to change the Bill, it will be an embarrassment to the Chancellor.” I said that it would be great damage to the long-suffering British public, thoigh I can’t see my comment now.

      Soylent Green? Good short story, silly film.

  55. In a perfect world company’s employees would have a duty to notify their employer that the company’s products collide with their AGW religious beliefs, don’t ‘ya think? For example, a manufacturer in the free enterprise sector should not have to assume that its employees do not feel compelled by their AGW religious beliefs to vote for Leftist politicians who hate capitalism and hope the company goes bankrupt. For example, what possible accommodation can a manufacturer of private jets make when Leftist government policies make such ownership prohibitively expensive unless they are use exclusively for the purpose of ferrying Al Gore and federal climatists to their next anti-America global warming gig?

  56. 1) As many have posted – nuclear is a green technology. Thorium may well be the preferred nuclear fule of the future http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor as this reacotr design burns up long lived nuclear wast from uranium/plutonium reactors instead producing (mostly) the less toxic cesium 137 and strontium 90. China is one of the countries with a government sponsored research focus: http://energyfromthorium.com/2011/01/30/china-initiates-tmsr/. The US is not as the NRC/DOE remain captured by the large Uranium fuel produces.

    2) IMHO, full cost pricing is is an illusion. Bureaucrats will invent the prices to meet the policy goals to which they are already committed. I have long (40 years) been a proponent of radically higher fuel taxes in the US to accomplish a policy goal – lowered depenedence on foreign produced oil.

    3) IMHO, full cost pricing does not allow poor countries to defer the cost of near term energy pricing decisions in order to gain the national income that they need to a) adapt to climate change. b) Pay the deferred cost of the technology. c) Achieve the lowered birth rate that goes hand and hand with economic progress. d) Avoid dependence on NGOs who believe that the poor cannot progress without external help.

    4) If too much CO2 and not enough food (rather than allocation of existing food) become real problems, the solution space will scream out to policy makers. Because CO2 is an integral part of the food production cycle, the solution to both problems will become obvious.

    No, earth is not f_cked. All we have to do is shift the focus from CO2 back to poverty and this will work itself out.

    • Lowering the cost of energy lowers poverty.

      • Wagathon

        Correct. And increasing the cost of energy increases poverty.

        Max

      • Society as a whole does not do a very good accounting of fossil fuel reserves. Scarcity of those valuable reserves will always tend to increase the price. Lack of knowledge of the reserve amounts will lead to speculation which can further jack up the price.

        And you are surprised that increasingly scarce supplies such as in conventional crude oil results in a high price?

        Either cluelessness or an underlying political agenda is at the root of this rhetorical fluff. So what is your plan for reducing the cost of energy?

      • Energy is an example of a resource. It is of course involved in providing all of the goods and services that people want.

        As resources become scarce the price for them goes up. Anytime there are changes in the price of resources the use of all other resources will be affected and the use of them to provide the same or substitute goods and service will be rearranged.

        The setting of prices of resources by market forces has proven to be the most efficient means of allocating resources. Meddling with market forces for political purposes will result in a diminished level of wealth creation. Downward economic effects of market interference are especially destructive to wealth creation when the prices of scarce resources are manipulated and especially when such changes are unnatural, episodic, unpredictable and unrelated to market forces at work elsewhere in the world.

      • Waggy and Max want the world to use up its fossil fuels reserves ASAP. Cheap fuels encourages rapid depletion of those reserves. Why do these two want to leave future generations without fuel, and risk extinction of life on earth as we know it? I can only guess, but I suspect they just don’t like people.

      • What shall we call those who are driven by their nihilism to condemn the third and developing world to misery, poverty and death? Democrats?

      • Waggy, I got your number. You like ideology, not people.

      • Truth is more important than a baby in the womb, no?

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Waggy said,

        “Energy is an example of a resource.”

        This is a great revelation? But at least you could say a “virtually unlimited” resource as our big fusion reactor has billions of years left of fuel.

      • You’re saying that nominally, it’s the Sun, stupid.

      • Max_OK

        It appears to me you are saying:

        “Let’s price energy high (with a tax) to force folks to make do with less of it today, in order to save these resources for our great-great-grandchildren”

        Don’t come with that nonsense, Okie.

        Our “great-great-grandchildren” will have totally different sources of energy than we can even imagine today – and would just break out in laughter at such absurd reasoning.

        Max

      • Michael Chrichton talked about that–e.g.,

        {excerpt from Aliens Cause Global Warming about horses in the 1900s}

        Let’s think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horse****?

        Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses? But of course, within a few years, nobody rode horses except for sport.

        And in 2000, France was getting 80% its power from an energy source that was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan were getting more than 30% from this source, unknown in 1900. Remember, people in 1900 didn’t know what an atom was.

        They didn’t know its structure. They also didn’t know what a radio was, or an airport, or a movie, or a television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a jet, an antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an MRI, ICU, IUD, IBM, IRA, ERA, EEG, EPA, IRS, DOD, PCP, HTML, internet. interferon, instant replay, remote sensing, remote control, speed dialing, gene therapy, gene splicing, genes, spot welding, heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags, plastic explosive, plastic, robots, cars, liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish antennas, step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step, ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon, fiber optics, carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy, corneal transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS. None of this would have meant anything to a person in the year 1900. They wouldn’t know what you are talking about.

        Now. You tell me you can predict the world of 2100.

      • manacker Dece 19, 2012 at 7:22 am
        Max_OK

        It appears to me you are saying:

        “Let’s price energy high (with a tax) to force folks to make do with less of it today, in order to save these resources for our great-great-grandchildren”
        _____
        Well that and so I can make more money from my mineral holdings and those holdings will last longer.

      • MAX_UK wrote: “Why do these two want to leave future generations without fuel”
        ———————————————————————————————-
        And, if those future generations think the way you do, they will doubtless be saving the stuff for their future generations – and so on, ad infinitum
        Anyway, what makes you think that the current generations are any less important or less deserving than some future generations – who may very well be cursing us for saddling them with huge debts long before they’re even born?

      • manacker also said on Dec 19, 2012 at 7:22 am

        Our “great-great-grandchildren” will have totally different sources of energy than we can even imagine today – and would just break out in laughter at such absurd reasoning.
        ______

        I’m laughing at you right now for opposing alternatives sources of energy we know about because you believe there are alternative sources we don’t know about.

      • Re comment by phatboy December 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm

        phatboy I didn’t say not use it at all. I want it priced so consumers will use it wisely.

        BTW, it’s “Max_OK” not “Max_UK”.

        I’m a Okie, not a Limey.

      • MAX_OK, Sorry, you’re a typo ;-)

        Perhaps you should come live in the UK for awhile – and get some first-hand experience of high fuel prices. :-(

      • Wagathon said on December 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm
        “Lowering the cost of energy lowers poverty.”
        ________
        You believe energy should be cheap so I make less money on my mineral rights.

        Did you swap your Laissez-faire Loon Cap for a Socialist Sap Cap?

        Did you swap your

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Fission is not a good as fusion, and we’ve got a great big fusion reactor at a safe distance with zero cost for maintenance. We just need to tap its energy in a better and more efficient way than digging up and burning energy it gave off millions of years ago.

      • R. Gates

        Agree we will need to find better sources in the long term than fossil fuels to cover our ever-growing need for reliable, low-cost energy.

        We already have nuclear fission (as Peter Lang has reminded us) – and this resource is unlimited for practical purposes.

        Nuclear fusion is not that much of a pipe dream, either.

        So there are many real possibilities out there.

        And, yes, for smaller, local needs we can consider solar and wind, too.

        All of this will happen quite naturally, with occasional shots of government funding for basic research work.

        But no direct or indirect carbon tax is necessary or even desirable, thank you.

        Max

  57. this thread rocks

  58. Just to say you that the solution is there in front of our nose.

    You just have to ask who was the start at National instrument NIWeek 2012 (see Celani)?
    What great conference will be hosted by University of Missouri in 2013?
    What is StMicroelectronics doing with Celani?
    What is doing Mitsubishi, Toyota around that… since how long…
    What were doing ENEA, US navy spawar, Navy NRL, Energetics technologies?
    What is the story of Robert Duncan, Dawn Dominguez, Celani, xanthoulis…
    Who are Defkalion, Brillouin Corp, Piantelli,Celani…
    Who are LENR cars, Kresenn, LENR cities…

    Details on http://www.lenr-forum.com/forum.php
    sorry, it is not well ordered… maybe some can help to sort the data…

    you won’t accept it, for the same reason IPCC refuse to see the uncertainty monster.

    As you said it is solved by disruptive innovation, that is too inconvenient to be accepted by people in high position… so comfortable to maintain the usual panic and it’s related business.
    Forget about the cost of the grid, no long line is needed because production can be big or small as needed. Forget about environmental impact since few % of world nickel production is enough to replace all oil and coal, with no toxic waste… No space consumed… Cheap machine. 6 month of GDP should be enough to replace all heat source on hearth with a small one.

    THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED.
    stop investing in green energy, prepare slowly to get out of non conventional fuel… Stop investing in carbon. prepare for an economic boom, first in non fearful zone (non occidental) zone… Asia, Africa…

    ps: I’m not a UFO fan, just an engineer… see us prepare business on linked-in.

    best regards.

  59. Mr. Paul Milligan

    Perhaps we should also remind Brad Werner of the danger of confirmation bias. His ‘modeling’ work sound a lot like axe grinding, and damages the reputation those of us that take modeling seriously.

  60. Willis Eschenbach

    Ed Dolan | December 17, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Reply

    A wonderful comment! Your raise almost every every argument I hear in this kind of thread, and you do them all in a single comment box!

    A wonderful comment! You raise almost every inane argument I hear in this kind of thread, and you do them all in a single comment box!

    Ed, do you see how that kind of beginning might put people off a bit?

    1. “First, everyone will put a different price on the various things that have no actual price.” Yes, different people price things differently. But think about what this means. Does it mean that a Gucci handbag, which I place zero value on whatsoever, should consequently have a zero market price? I don’t think so.

    To me, it means what I said it means, not what you fantasize it means. To start with, as you point out, your values may be very different than others. Also, you seem to think that there is some price object SHOULD have. You ask if a Gucci handbag SHOULD have a zero market price. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no guide in many instances, but there is never any price something SHOULD have.

    Or consider this: Prostitutes are willing to sell sex for a market price set by supply and demand. Does that mean any man should be able to rape any woman and then leave her the average prostitute’s price and walk away without other penalty?

    Say what? That’s some sick sex fantasy that has nothing to do with what I was talking about. Put it back in its box.

    In short, the proposition that “different people put a different price on things” is a fact of life, it is not an argument that the correct market price is zero just because people do not agree about the value.

    In the market, there is a system to set value, called bargaining over the price. It works because we are free to walk away from the deal. Unfortunately, when we start to price externalities, there is no such system. As a result, folks can impose any arbitrary price. You seem to be very confused about this process.

    2.

    “Second, if you are planning to price externalities, you cannot simply add in the negative externalities. You have to add in the positive externalities as well. For example, I love the gas heat in my house because it still comes on even though the power is out. How much is that externality worth?”

    There is a very simple answer to this one. The “positive externalities” like your warm home are accounted for already in the market price of gas. That is why gas has a positive market price–people are willing to pay for it because it keeps them warm. The negative externalities are not included in the market price unless policy is altered to make them come to bear (tax, cap-and-trade, pollution torts, etc.) There is a fundamental difference here if you stop to think about it.

    First, “positive externalities” are no more “accounted for” than are negative externalities. That’s why they are called “externalities”, duh.

    People buy things for a host of different reasons, both positive and negative. Not all of either class are included in the price, although many of them are.

    For example, I chew bubble gum in part because it reminds me of my mom. But I don’t chew it often because my dad didn’t like me to. Now, are those externalities? Seems like, they have nothing to do with the levers the ad people try to push to get you to buy gum.

    But they are not included in the price.

    So now we have a situation where SOME negative and SOME positive things are included in the price, and some are not. You jump up and down and tell us to add all of the negative stuff and none of the positive stuff.

    Ed, you don’t get to do that. Your claim, that every single positive externality is already included in the price, doesn’t pass the laugh test.

    3.

    “The deeper and more serious problem with his analysis is, any increase in energy prices hurts the poor.”

    I wrote a lengthy post a while ago on “When does ‘it will hurt the poor’ trump ‘it’s bad for the environment.” Read it here: http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2012/02/24/when-does-it-will-hurt-the-poor-outweigh-its-good-for-the-environment/

    When does “it will hurt the poor” outweigh “it’s good for the environment”? Well, one time for sure is when you can’t provide a scrap of evidence that the path is good for the environment … hey, wait, that’s the case here. Ed, your side wants the solution to your imaginary problem implemented before you have been able to demonstrate a problem.

    But it’s worse than that, folks. Ed, like most watermelons, doesn’t give a sh*t about the poor. Here’s Ed in full flow:

    What I would like to focus on here, though, is when “it will hurt the poor the most” is an independently valid objection to otherwise sound, market-based environmental policies. I am inclined to say that it never is.

    I had to go back and read it again, but that’s what it says. The effect of an environmental policy on the poor is NEVER an independently valid objection to any otherwise good environmental policy.

    Bad news, Ed. Your vote on the question of the poor just got cancelled, your opinion on that matter has been set aside until you reach adulthood.

    4. “So no, I do not want the price of energy driven higher by taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, pricing of supposed externalities, renewables standards, or for any other reason. ”

    Well, no, neither do I. I would love to have cheap energy. I would love to have free caviar and champagne every Sunday for breakfast. Sorry, Pal, that isn’t how the world works. TANSTAAFL.

    So you propose to add a variety of costs to cheap energy, specifically in order to make it expensive … then when you have done so, you say sorry, Willis, thought you knew, cheap energy ain’t how the world works.

    Sweet! How do I get your job?

    Perhaps you are too young to remember, but the world hasn’t always worked that way, just since folks like you were in charge. Yes, we can have cheap energy, Ed, if you and your ilk just take your fat posteriors off of the scale, and stop insisting on BS like renewables standards and pricing externalities and fracking bans and the like. Here’s a clue for you, Ed— you and your friends are the reason we have expensive energy.

    Which of course is why you’d like everyone to believe that expensive energy is “how the world works”.

    Finally, you think you can school me by pointing out “TANSTAAFL”, that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch? I knew Robert Heinlein, who as far as I know invented the phrase, and to paraphrase, you are no Robert Heinlein.

    After spending an entire post complaining because the lunch doesn’t cost enough and proposing ways to make it cost more, you’re gonna say it’s all part of nature’s way, it’s just TANSTAAFL, it’s not you pushing up the prices?

    You claim that energy prices are through the roof, not because of the deleterious actions of well-meaning bumblers like yourself, not because of bans on drilling, not because of limitations on the Arctic, not because of ridiculous renewable laws, not because of Cap-And-Tax, not because of CO2 limitations, not because of ethanol requirements … but because there’s no free lunch?

    That’s your explanation?

    Man, you are a piece of work. But like you said, I’m glad I could deal with all that nonsense in a single post.

    w.

    PS—In all of this, Ed, you haven’t explained WHY the world needs expensive energy. We can assume it’s not to benefit the poor, but where are the huge benefits that make up for condemning pensioners in the UK to fuel poverty?

    Oh, wait, Ed says the effect of energy policies on the poor is never an independent reason to not like those policies …

    • Willis Eschenbach wrote :

      For example, I chew bubble gum in part because it reminds me of my mom. But I don’t chew it often because my dad didn’t like me to. Now, are those externalities? Seems like, they have nothing to do with the levers the ad people try to push to get you to buy gum.

      But they are not included in the price.

      They are included in the price (although not instantly) : your choice whether to buy gum or not, and how often etc. does influence the price, by modifying demand for gum (however slightly). Whether you buy gum or not, and how often etc. is influenced by your personal thoughts concerning gum (such as those you mentioned regarding family).

      Willis Eschenbach:

      But it’s worse than that, folks. Ed, like most watermelons, doesn’t give a sh*t about the poor.

      This doesn’t follow from what Ed wrote, as far as I can tell – you’d have to make some unreasonable (imo) assumptions for that to be true. My limited reading of Ed Dolan’s work (via this blog) makes me suspect that he does care about the poor.

  61. Efficiency is engineering. Conservation is asceticism.

  62. A major problem I see with “full cost energy pricing”, are the billions of people who already struggle to pay for power needs. He may need to factor in rioting, civil unrest, and, likely civil wars. These will result in cheap, dirty coal production coming on line to satisfy the masses and, eventually, a dirtier world.

  63. Willis Eschenbach

    Inspired by Ed Dolans ridiculous claim that all positive externalities are already included in the price of something, I got to thinking about what makes an externality an externality.

    For example. People generally give the environmental effects of coal mining as an example of an externality, something that is not included in the price.

    But If enough people think that coal mining is horrendous practice, and on that basis they decide to heat their houses with gas, that affects the price of coal.

    Which means that prices of what people actually care about enough to think about is already included in the pricing formula.

    This, in turn, leads to a curious definition of externalities—they are things we don’t care about enough to include in our decisions.

    Now, this may be because we don’t know enough about the externalities, or it may be we know enough and don’t care.

    Now, if it is the first case, we don’t know about them, that’s usually easily fixed by the spread of information. If a shoe company was shown to use monkey brains in the shoe glue, that’s an externality because it is unknown. When it becomes known, it is included in the decision process and the shoe company goes out of business.

    Unfortunately, that leaves the second group. These are the externalities that we’ve thought about and haven’t included in the decision process. For example, lets take the known benefits of CO2 on growing things the world over.

    Now, this is clearly an externality on the price of gasoline. Why? Because for most folks, the benefits to our cousins the plants are not worth putting onto the scales when making the pricing decisions.

    Now suppose I become an acolyte of Ed Dolan, and I want to start pricing externalities. CO2 to the plants is a benefit, so I start arguing that the government should reduce its taxes on fuels by $0.50 per gallon, which I have determined is what Mr. Dolan calls the price a commodity “should” have …

    But to you, you have already made a conscious decision not to include that benefit in your calculations … so I will face huge opposition from folks like Mr. Dolan on the question.

    See, that’s the problem with pricing externalities. They are externalities for a reason, because we don’t care about them. So any attempt to convert them into taking money out of people’s pockets is guaranteed to go awry.

    Look, we’ve had great success with the opposite approach. We just require mining companies to do costly environmental works and put back the topsoil and put in settling ponds and all the very necessary stuff to protect the environment. That makes coal more expensive, so the pricing of what was previously an externality is now built in.

    All of this, of course, leads to a more nuanced definition of a pricing externality.

    A pricing externality is something that you don’t care about, but that I think you should care about.

    Actually, I can give an even more precise definition than that. I don’t see women’s rights activists talking about pricing externalities. I don’t see anti-war folks pushing for pricing externalities. It’s not a liberal vs. conservative deal. About the only people I hear talking about pricing externalities are environmentalists.

    Now, to me this is a tragedy, because I am strong for conservation, strong for the environment. See my post Conservamentalism for a discussion of the environment. I think the overtaking of the environmental movement by the CO2 folks is one of the largest and saddest cases of organizational mass suicide ever seen.

    Despite my views on the value of the environment and of conservation, however, I have to be honest and give you my definition of a pricing externality.

    A pricing externality is something the majority of people don’t care about, but that a minority of environmentalists think they should be forced to care about.

    For example, in my zeal to protect our brother plants, I and some other like-minded responsible far-seeing people have formed the RealDeepPureGreen™ Movement. It is a movement with a single goal. We want a $0.50 per gallon instant rebate on all gasoline purchases.

    This represents the externality of the CO2 benefits we are conferring on the other beings inhabiting the planet, the plants. These lovely non-violent green creature, who sadly cannot speak for themselves so we have appointed ourselves as their spokesmen, are far too often … what’s that? Oh, OK.

    The Committee says “spokesmen” is old-think, the consensus was that we are the plant’s spokespersonages.

    In any case, as their spokespersonages, we can report that the plants say, or would say if they could, that they are far too often seen as mere externalities in the frenetic pricing of modern commodities. The RealDeepPureGreen™ Movement asks one simple question, a basic question, but a central and vital question which has become truly relevant in these tumultuous times of massive climate disruption:

    If a rice plant is willing to sacrifice her unborn future children to your unholy gastronomic lusts, can’t we at least include a fifty cent pricing externality as a contribution toward providing her with a long-term, sustainable CO2 supply?

    w.

    • Negative externality of electricity generation with coal : about 60 fatalities/TWh (global average)
      Positive externality of nuclear power: avoid 59.9 fatalities/TWh

      Which is more saleable?

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Both centralized coal and nuclear are dead ends and in the future will be seen in the same way that we now view drilling holes in people’s heads to let out the evil spirits. The last barrels of oil and last tons of coal will never be brought to the surface as the world will rapidly leave the fossil fuel age and nuclear power age behind. The biggest issue will be how safely and rapidly we can decommission nuclear plants in the coming decades as they won’t be needed any longer.

    • Willis

      Perhaps you would like to come over to the uk with your discount ideas and try to persuade our idiotic govt that expecting its citizens to pay 10US dollars a gallon for fuel is a very bad idea
      Tonyb

      • Hi tax costs in UK and Europe mean less use there. More for US and China. Keep taxing in UK and we will frack our way to lower energy. Scott

  64. When does “it will hurt the poor” outweigh “it’s good for the environment”?

    Every single time (especially if you’re poor).

    But artificially high energy prices not only “hurt the poor”, they hurt us all – although the “poor” will feel the “hurt” more acutely, to be sure. In some cases the “hurt” will be a matter of life or death.

    Two million “poor” die each year from lack of clean drinking water (hard to get if there is no energy infrastructure) or indoor burning of wood, dung or other fuel.

    So the “hurt” is real.

    And who knows for sure what “is good for the environment”?

    A group of relatively rich egg-heads sitting in an ivory tower somewhere?

    A political group like IPCC?

    Hardly.

    Max

  65. “A third point is that once we get energy pricing right, competition among production of relatively clean and relatively dirtier types of energy would take a back seat to competition between production and conservation as the best way to reduce energy use and its associated environmental harms.”

    “…once we get the energy pricing right…”

    First, this is typical progressive gobbledygook. “Pricing” in this context is newspeak for taxes. “Once we impose the right energy taxes…”

    If you progressives could get “pricing” right, let alone the myriad other economic issues you are basically oblivious to, then Greece, Spain, Portugal, California and Illinois would not be such complete economic basket cases.

    Of course, no one knows what the “right” taxes would be, because no one knows the actual net of the externalities of CO2 emissions. No one has a clue what actual negative costs there are, if any, to CO2 emissions, let alone how to allocate those costs.

    Moreover, no one has a clue what the real positive externalities of CO2 emissions (aka cheap power) are. Take away cheap sources of energy and try feeding the planet. Let alone running the hospitals and schools and stores and mass transit and on and on…on a daily basis. The entire first world life style is an externality of cheap power. How would all those bright lights have gotten to Doha without it?

    Ethanol is an excellent example of the idiotic nature of the whole “externality” debate. The cost of ethanol sold for fuel does not include the negative externality of the increase in food prices as the supply of a basic food stock available for consumption is reduced. How much should we tax purchasers of ethanol to account for that negative externality? Who should pay the tax? And who should receive the funds from the tax collector? And would such a tax lessen the use of ethanol, diminishing whatever effect it is having on total CO2 emissions?

    To ask the questions is to demonstrate the stupidity of the concept.

  66. It is sort of funny—knowing what we know now— to consider the science underlying the ‘hockey stick’ graph: it was an exercise in predicting from past data a future that from Mann’s retroactive perspective never occurred.

    • yet Mann’s hockey stick keeps getting paraded on eg WUWT as proof of strong contribution by the Sun on climate.

      • For the IPCC both the MWP and the LIA existed before the ‘hockey stick’ so viewing the situation objectively the IPCC condoned a fraud that federal climatists have persisted in perpetrating on the public ever since. The Medium is the Message: that the public allows their children to be a part of the government-education complex explains why the West is dying. A society that cannot be honest with the futures of its children does not deserve to survive.

    • The top-level post once again points out the need for fossil fuel energy mitigation and adaptation approaches even without the threat of the CO2 GHG bogey-man rearing it’s ugly head.

      Guess it’s a “win-win” strategy, eh?

      Kind of similar to “killing two birds with one stone”, eh?

      • Global warming may lead to ‘Miami Beach in Boston’ situation unless urgent action is taken… IEA Deputy Executive Director
        says…

        Is there any wonder why the BRIC countries no longer listen to Western academia and why scientists outside the West liken climatology to the ancient science of astrology?

      • Wag, you miss the point – Florida’s economy would be destroyed!

  67. In retrospect, predictions by federal climatists prediction as “likely”—a future that never came to be—has got to be a wake-up to those who may be asked to invest their lives in support of government’s failed ideas.

    • One would think so, but we still have many deniers of non-warming. My letter to The Australian 14 hours ago refers:

      John O’Hagan and Denise Traynor are seriously misinformed in their assertions (Letters on ABC and global warming, 19/12). There is not “a minor scientific controversy” about whether catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is in train.

      Average global temperatures rose from 1975-98 at a rate which has been observed before, and have been stable since then. The IPCC assumes that warming is caused predominantly by “forcing” from increased CO2 emissions. Leading climate scientists have argued that this is not proven, and have suggested alternatives, for example “forcing” from solar irradiation. This irradiation was strong up to 1998 and has been weak since then. The IPCC, having argued against the solar influence for years, now accepts it in its latest draft scientific report (AR5). Also, the temperature rise was not steady, but largely occurred as a “step” rise in 1998, when there was an exceptionally powerful El Nino event. A link to El Nino better explains the data than CO2, which assumes a constantly rising trend which has not occurred.

      Stephen Lewandowsky’s description of sceptics is obviously nonsense to those who follow the blogs of, for example, climate scientists Judith Curry and Roger Pielke Jr or statistician Steve McIntyre, where there is often high-level debate with significant input from climate scientists, physicists, engineers, modellers etc. McIntyre has totally discredited Lewandowsky’s appalling work.

      Concern about alleged CAGW is not “a morally indefensible position” because it is scientifically defensible, and is held not by ideologues and scientific misfits but by those who have examined the field seriously and found it wanting. In most cases, these are people who were concerned about warming, sought more information, and were appalled by the lack of rigour they found in the so-called science. Many, like me, also feel that the costs of emissions reductions far exceed any possible benefits. The moral position is surely to apply resources where they most increase welfare.

      [Notes to CE: 1: Lewandowsky is one of the ABC's go-to men on putting down sceptics, and was quoted in a letter. 2: I'm engaging in a highly politicised debate here, I'm making a case as I see it but I'm not writing as a peer-reviewed scientist. Regular letter readers will have a clear picture of my stance on many issues, and can judge what weight to put on my stance.]

      • Faustino –

        You make a number of statements of fact in that letter for which you have no validated data in support.

      • In recent years, much has been said about the post-modernist claims about science to the effect that science is just another form of raw power, tricked out in special claims for truth-seeking and objectivity that really have no basis in fact. Science, we are told, is no better than any other undertaking. These ideas anger many scientists, and they anger me. But recent events have made me wonder if they are correct.

         
        –Michael Chrichton

      • Joshua, newspapers will generally print only concise letters which make points quite tersely. On occasion, when it seems appropriate/effective, I give direct quotes from specified sources in a letter. More often, I give specific links and sources and/or more justification for the points I make below my signature, so that the back-up material, the basis of terse points, is available to the editors. I also sometimes explain my specific background on issues wher i have expertise.

        In this instance, the temperature data I quote has been well canvassed on CE, as has the possible El Nino explanation. Alec Rawls has made the points on solar irradiation in several fora, quoting directly from the draft AR 5, of which I have a copy and have read some relevant passages. We at CE know from many sources of credible climate scientists casting doubt on the standard CAGW/IPCC line. Etc, etc.

        The Australian is Australia’s leading newspaper and probably has the best-informed audience of any media here. Yet there is great ignorance regularly shown in published letters. My letters (many of which are printed) are usually quick responses based on my in-brain knowledge – I’ve always had very good recall, though I’m losing it with age. Where I feel it is necessary, I will do specific research to make particular points – e.g., ascertaining the total expenditure on government assistance to industry and calculating it as a proportion of Corporation Tax revenue, to argue for a cut of x% in CT as a revenue-neutral and far more effective way of boosting economic growth compared to subsidising non-viable firms.

        This was a quickly-fired off letter based on my accumulated knowledge on the matter. As I noted, it’s in a politicised debate, about the bias of the ABC, as demonstrated by its responses to a recently ex-Chairman of the ABC who strongly criticised its bias on CAGW. The letters I cited savagely attacked the former Chairman and anyone doubting CAGW or the ABC on the basis of “the science is settled” and “Lewandowsky shows they are all ideologues or religious-style nutters.” In that context, my letter was a supported argument rather than a rave, which might encourage readers to follow up my claims.

  68. In engineering it is called a solution in search of a problem. Notice that no one has yet succinctly described the problem?

    The statement of the problem is two-fold. Number one, we realize but do not wish to discuss the fact that fossil fuels are a finite source of energy. Something must take the place of fossil fuel hydrocarbons in the future.

    Second, continued burning of fossil fuels while their energy returns diminish will continue to add a further CO2 GHG load to the atmosphere. Is it possible to slow this down?

    Some people prefer to tackle the first problem with alternative energy solutions. Some people prefer to tackle the second problem with alternative energy solutions. The downright clever ones choose to solve both at the same time.

    A pedantic yet simple problem statement.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      The statement of the problem is two-fold. Number one, we realize but do not wish to discuss the fact that fossil fuels are a finite source of energy. Something must take the place of fossil fuel hydrocarbons in the future.

      First, people are discussing this all over the planet, who are you accusing of not wishing to discuss the price and future of oil?

      Second, while it is true that fossil hydrocarbons are finite, so what? Future problems are the proper province of future people. We have enough hydrocarbons to fuel the planet for another hundred years, more if you include shale gas, many more if you include methane clathrates. Where is the unholy rush coming from?

      Fossil fuels are good for hundreds of years. In all likelihood, they will be gradually supplanted by other forms of energy, even forms undreamed of today. Perhaps you think you can predict the problems and technologies of 100 years from now. I don’t. I’ll leave those problems to my great-great-great grandkids.

      Second, continued burning of fossil fuels while their energy returns diminish will continue to add a further CO2 GHG load to the atmosphere. Is it possible to slow this down?

      You guys always want to jump the intermediate questions, like do we have any reason to slow this down? Since no one has presented any evidence that CO2 leads to Thermageddon, we should start there.

      Look, I see you like to be all hatin’ on carbon, but without any evidence that a slight change in a trace gas is having any effect at all, I see absolutely no reason to include CO2 in a problem statement. You come up with some evidence, not janky iterative computer model results but evidence, I’ll be the first to sign on. But until then, you should acknowledge, at least to yourself in the privacy of your own bed at midnight, that your attack on fossil fuels is purely ideological in nature.

      w.

      • Response from some dude that runs an outfit called South Pacific Oil. Spare me your tired talking points.

      • David Springer

        Conventional fossil fuels, including underground natural gas and tar sands, are not abundant enough to support a human population of 9 billion at western living standards for hundreds of years. Not even close. Unconventional fuels, primarily methane ice in ocean floor sediments, possibly, if you can figure out a way to economically harvest them. I don’t hold out much hope for any economical means of harvesting it.

        The abundant energy is light from the sun. There are promising ways to harvest that. Nature already has the technology. We simply need to reverse engineer photosynthetic bacteria then customize/reprogram them to do what we want instead of what nature needed for them to survive and prosper in the wild.

      • David Springer

        He never “ran” it and is no longer employed by it either. Your research is shallow, shoddy, and so loosely connected with fact that it might as well be wholly fabricated. In other words, for you webhubcolonoscope, more business as usual.

      • Springer, nice of you to be defending your bobo.

        It was probably some two-bit get-rich scheme that never amounted to anything.

        He will leave problems to his great great great grandkids. If that is truly the issue, then why oh why do any of you carp about anything at all? The fact that some of us are naturally inquisitive and analytical should not upset the balance of power in that world-view. Just have to wait for it to be cleaned up further down the road. Sounds like you always have an easy and automatic out with anything you say. Procrastination is so inviting and a foundation for the conservative mindset.

      • Web

        It is interesting that you employ a tactic of trying to minimize the creditability of the poster rather than actually addressing the points he correctly raises. The case for “urgent action” is based more on beliefs than on anything else.

      • These are considered “future problems”? Someone ought to read up a bit more on the geopolitics of oil.

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      WHT said,

      “Some people prefer to tackle the first problem with alternative energy solutions. Some people prefer to tackle the second problem with alternative energy solutions. The downright clever ones choose to solve both at the same time.”

      —-
      Exactly! And of all the technologies out there, nothing could ever do both as well as artificial photosynthesis. It could be even better than an Earth based fusion power as our fusion reactor (i.e. the Sun) is kept a safe distance away with zero cost of ownership. Better yet, no one can own it and centralize it (and this drives the Centralized Big Corporate Nuke power guys crazy). And best of all, artificial photosynthesis is far closer to a reality than controlled fusion.

      • Yes, except that in terms of scale it’s equivalent to pricking a pimple on the rump of an elephant.

      • The risk is being sat on by the elephant, which is an insatiable need for cheap energy.

      • But until we come up with really viable alternatives, that’s what we’re stuck with. Wind and solar barely scratch the surface of what’s required, and we really are well and truly screwed if that’s all there is.

      • Webby, a ‘need’ is not insatiable. Like many of your ilk, your grasp of the language is tenuous. Or perhaps more accurately, you shape the language to fit your agenda.

        Your real purpose is obvious – to curb energy use, which directly correlates with economic status. How about fessing up to who you think should be making the sacrifices?

      • a ‘need’ is not insatiable Actually, one day one of an econ major’s life, they define economics in terms of infinite needs and finite goods.

        HOWEVER, yes, many of us deeply suspect that the environmentalists movement is one which glorifies the life of a peasant farmer (“The Gleeners” by Jean-François Millet seems to be their icon) — this is what they tried to establish back when they had “hippie communes”. And yes, any way to shut down energy sources (oil, nukes, etc) are a way to force people into that lifestyle.

        Still, I have to be fair to “Webby” — yes, there is a finite amount of oil energy. Now, granted, the sun is also finite, but in both cases, we need to know if we’re likely to run out anytime “soon.” And yes, it is always good to minimize the impact on the world — I just don’t want to do good things for erroneous / fraudulent reasons.

      • You really do not understand that the world-wide debt-based economy is based on cheap energy.

        Companies can pile on debt because they can apply the cheap energy to building and construction before the bills come due. By that time, the profit is there, as the same construction would cost marginally that much more.

        The word insatiable is used to express that this needs to continue or the entire artifice will fall down.

        Not as if this is an earth-shattering observation, just an admission as to what a forever growing economy requires.

      • Webster said, “You really do not understand that the world-wide debt-based economy is based on cheap energy.”

        Times change. Right now it is cheap money, expensive (relative to recent past) energy and an over abundance of fears.

      • Did you not see that I used the word debt, aka easy money?

        This is where I stop arguing about economics because it is all game theory and psychology beyond this point.

        Yet the reality of hard and fast resource constraints are a constant. So argue about finiteness and see how far you can go.

      • Webster said, “This is where I stop arguing about economics because it is all game theory and psychology beyond this point.”

        Pretty much, the key is optimism or fear. There are quite a few promising not ready for prime time alternative energies, ultimately though, hydrogen in some form will be the portable an energy storage medium that is needed to tie them all together. Debt ratios and energy costs will fluctuate with optimism and fear, but most likely, hydrogen in some form, methane, oil, coal, ammonia, urea or just H2 will be in our future. Since you are confident the first three are done, which other(s) would you choose?

  69. In setting wealth creation aside for the ever-growing populations of perennial kibitzers to do nothing more than hector the productive is one thing. It is, however, delusionary to believe that the ideology of federal climatists can influence how other people in other countries at some future time are likely to come to the same judgment about the humanity’s role in climate change or feel obliged to follow Western academics’ recipe for living when these same liberal Utopians of the Left stabbed their own societies in the back.

  70. Ed Dolan:

    Thank you for your comments here. I have a question regarding negative externalities we neither monetize nor mitigate. The poster child for this is automobile deaths. We could eliminate most highway deaths with additional regulations on both the automobile and the driver, but we choose to exist at this “happy medium”. There are claims that 20,000 people die from coal plant pollution each year, or about half as many deaths as auto accidents cause each year. Who is to say we must take any further action?

    • Many years ago (and perhaps now), a US agency calculated the costs of a death avoided by certain infrastructure or regulation. Road improvements were far and away the cheapest way to reduce deaths, in many cases about $200,000 per annual death averted (in the 1980s). But this didn’t excite the activists. Some preferred and funded/legislated projects had costs per death saved in the trillions of dollars – i.e., high costs were incurred with in practice no deaths averted, because the risk of death from the (usually) chemical involved was so remote anyway. A leading cancer epidomologist was livid about the amount of money spent on dealing with trivial concerns – chemicals which might contribute 0.1 per cent or less to cancer deaths – rather than the four or five causes of almost all cancers. I see definite parallels in CAGW. No balance.

      • Faustino,

        But this didn’t excite the activists. Some preferred and funded/legislated projects had costs per death saved in the trillions of dollars – i.e., high costs were incurred with in practice no deaths averted, because the risk of death from the (usually) chemical involved was so remote anyway.

        Hmmm, interesting.

        I wonder what the cost of thwarting the development of nuclear power would add up to?

        – Missed opportunity of 50 million GWh of emissions free electricity (so far)
        – 50 Gt CO2 emitted
        – 1 million avoidable fatalities (from pollution)

        Because of the delays, we are now some 20 years behind where we could be. Therefore, we are on a much slower trajectory to gain these benefits in the decades ahead. Roughly, we could double the above figures for the period to 2035. Therefore, the total missed opportunity to 2035 is say:

        – 150 million GWh of emissions free electricity
        – 150 Gt CO2 emitted
        – 3 million avoidable fatalities
        Perhaps someone would like to calculate the positive externalities missed.

        What is the cost of 40 years of blocking nuclear development in terms of deaths caused?
        3 million fatalities @ $0.5 million per life = $1.5 trillion?

  71. Willis Eschenbach

    Ed Dolan, I want to return to a statement that you made before in response to my statements.

    The “positive externalities” like your warm home are accounted for already in the market price of gas. That is why gas has a positive market price–people are willing to pay for it because it keeps them warm. The negative externalities are not included in the market price unless policy is altered to make them come to bear (tax, cap-and-trade, pollution torts, etc.) There is a fundamental difference here if you stop to think about it.

    First, the price is set by people who consider both positive and negative aspects of every purchase. Obviously, positive must outweigh negative, or you wouldn’t be willing to pay.

    You, however, make the mistake of thinking that this means all positive aspects have been considered, but some negative aspects haven’t been considered.

    In fact, everyone makes their decisions based on some subset of all of the possible positive and negative aspects. There are many, many things that we don’t consider on both sides of the fence, either because we don’t know about them, or because we don’t give them any weight.

    For example, I give no weight to fears of CO2 leading to a few degrees of warming. But you do, you put big weight on them. I have no problem with you putting big weight on them … until you start robbing my pocketbook to do so. This is why the idea of pricing these kinds of externalities, either positive or negative, is generally an exercise in futility. I say it’s worth zero, you say it’s worth millions. I don’t see much middle ground there.

    Some people don’t buy shoes made in China. For them, the country of origin is by no means an externality. And the result of that choice is priced into the US shoes they buy. Other people only buy from “green” suppliers. For them, pollution is not an externality. Organic costs more, so the consideration about pollution is included in the price. The problem is, one man’s major issue is someone else’s “who cares”.

    In any case, back to the existence of positive externalities.

    Let me take as my representative example, one positive externality of burning fossil fuels. Commercial greenhouses pump CO2 into their greenhouses to increase growth and production. Obviously, increasing atmospheric CO2 increases the health, growth and productivity of much of the plant life of the planet.

    This is a huge positive externality of burning fossil fuels, one which benefits everyone, but which is in no way considered in the pricing of fossil fuels. Nor do you take it into account in your own analyses, in fact you deny its very existence … but despite that, increasing CO2 is indeed a huge benefit for the plants.

    And that makes it a massive positive externality of burning fossil fuels, one that is definitely not included in the price of a gallon of gas.

    So this is a test for you, Ed. EITHER you can admit that you were wrong and that there are both positive and negative externalities, OR you can act like the majority of AGW supporters, shine it on, pretend I’m invisible, and don’t answer.

    Or you could join in my cause, the RaalDeepPureGreen™ Movement, and start agitating for a fifty-cent instant rebate on each gallon of gas, to compensate us for the positive externality of all the benefits we’re providing for the plants.

    w.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Ed Dolan made the totally unsupportable claim that there were no positive externalities, only negative externalities. After demonstrating that this wasn’t true, I offered Ed a choice above:

      So this is a test for you, Ed. EITHER you can admit that you were wrong and that there are both positive and negative externalities, OR you can act like the majority of AGW supporters, shine it on, pretend I’m invisible, and don’t answer.

      That was nine days ago. He seems to have gone for choice B, “shine it on, pretend I’m invisible”. Color me unsurprised.

      I seem to have this magical power, kinda like Lamont Cranston on steroids, to make AGW supporters disappear. Not sure what it is, but you ask them a few serious, well-thought-out questions, and poof! They vanish completely, without even the infamous “puff of smoke” required by the local Magicians Union.

      Judith, you need to start inviting a better class of loser to write your guest posts, this post-and-run BS doesn’t cut it …

      w.

      • External benefits of nuclear power:

        • Avoided costs of CO2 tax and ETS, such as: reduced economic growth, reduced productivity and increased tax churn
        • Avoid the compliance cost of measuring, monitoring, reporting CO2 emissions
        • Avoid the cost of purchasing overseas abatement permits
        • Avoid the externalities of fossil fuel generation (health and environmental damage)
        • Benefits that accrue from helping developing countries to get low-cost, low-emission electricity generation (e.g. export income and long term trade and relationship benefits

  72. The Skeptical Warmist

    Peter Lang et. al.,

    The path forward is to decentralize power, removing the big power companies from the control and profit center and going toward a distributed localized system. Again, big power companies hate this idea as it will mean a loss of control and profit. The most efficient way to power a community is exactly the way a plant does it, where every cell (i.e. household & business) is capable of making it’s own power. Decentralized power will become a reality faster than most can imagine. New innovations in replication of the same processes that plants use to create energy can be brought down to the home and business level. For exciting research on just some of the small, decentralized, renewable, and “disruptive” energy systems, see:

    http://phys.org/news/2012-11-air-sunlight-driven-co2-fixation.html

    http://phys.org/news/2012-12-algae-derived-oils-large-scale-low-cost-biofuels.html

    http://phys.org/news/2012-12-solar-power-paired-storage-cost-effective.html

    http://phys.org/news/2012-12-microgrid-powers-world-green-city.html

    For some general overview of the idea of a decentralized “micro-grid” see:

    http://arpa-e.energy.gov/ProgramsProjects/GENI/ProsumerBasedDistributedAutonomousCyberPhysic.aspx

    The big lie is that we “need” to stay with expensive, centralized, big-grid, dumb-grid power. Centralized nuclear is not the way to go unless we want to continue to be chained to a central grid control by big energy monopolies. Too many exciting, “disruptive”, green, smart-grid and decentralized options are close at hand or already being used (and not “close” like fusion is close). You may need to re-think living in your McMansion, but don’t buy the lie that you need to get you power from the centralized nuke plant. It just ain’t true.

    • So do it. There are laws in most of the US that says that the utility must provide you with electricity if you want it. There is no such law that prevents you, or anyone else, from going “off the grid”. Just stop asking me to help pay for you to go off the grid..

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Actually Doug, the tide of people going off-grid is starting now and will ramp up in the coming years, eventually reaching a critical mass where the centralized power companies will need to be subsidized more and more and eventually the future smart power grid will be taken over by “the commons” and be seen as no different than the streets you drive on. The profit in future energy systems will be the multitude of small companies offering to sell you power generating systems for your home, including the actual products your home will be made of that will be capable of generating power at extremely efficient and affordable levels.

    • R. Gates

      There is no “big lie” as you posit.

      Big grids are good for what they’re good for – decentralized small generation units are good for what they’re good for.

      And natural economic considerations will make sure that each is employed where it fits best overall.

      No need for “central planning” to get involved.

      They’ll just screw it up.

      Max

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Peter,

        Applying centralized dumb-grid concepts to decentralized artificial photosynthesis is a backwards approach. Just as each cell in leaf can gather power and is part of a smart grid of energy in the plant, each house and business will generate immediate and storable energy that can be used, saved or transported throughout the smart grid wherever it is needed. And all this powered by our big fusion reactor of the sun that will run on zero cost of maintenance for billions of years. Perfect solution.

      • Applying centralized dumb-grid concepts to decentralized artificial photosynthesis is a backwards approach.

        Why>

        Please describe your system to provide electricity that meets requirements (reliability, quality, etc)

        Please provide the cost of electricity and the CO2 abatement cost for your proposed system. And the basis for your cost estimates.

        Hers is an example of how to do it (read the pdf version which includes the details of the cost analyses in the appendices): http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/

    • RG,

      Not to dispute you being correct on the electrical grid eventually becoming de-centralized, I would point out that believing the transformation will be soon realized is likely misplaced. (Of course that could depend on what “soon” means.)

      Smart grid is being touted by many as a wonderous new application of technology which will be either the solution to many problems or the key to open up bright new possibilities. But it faces several challenges, some of the most significant having nothing to do with technology.

      One is the intrusion into customer privacy. Another has to do with opponents of wireless technology. Neither are likely to be an insurmountable hurdle, but they will slow deployment. Several states have placed deployment on hold after seeing the experience in California.

      From a tecnological side, there are some considerable concerns about increased vulnerability. As Sandy recently demonstrated, new technologies we come to depend on often have the flip side of being less reliable or having increased vulnerability. Look at the uproar over the loss of cell phone service. Congressional hearings no less. Prior to widespread use of cell phones the impact of a big storm to the phone system was usually negligable. Wind, ice and trees would bring down lines and poles, but loss of electrical service rarely included loss of phone service. Unlike our lines, phone will still work when laying on the ground.

  73. The Skeptical Warmist

    Again,

    Powering our entire civilization from the same process that plants use (only enhanced!) will be disruptive for some established energy industries, but nature didn’t take a few billion years to figure out that decentralized energy for plants so that each cell can make its own energy is a smart and efficient thing. A century from now, we’ll look back at the whole concept of centralized nuke power plants as a very backward way of thinking about energy. Your house will power itself:

    http://www.uml.edu/News/stories/2011-12/Artificial-photosynthesis.aspx

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      “…we’ll look back at the whole concept of centralized nuke power plants as a very backward way of thinking about energy…”
      ____
      And when you stop to think about it, we already have a centralized fusion power plant that is distributing power to us and can run for a very long time with no maintenance. It’s called the sun. It’s far enough away to be safe, and as long as we take care of our shielding from it (i.e. the ozone layer) then we really will have very little to worry about. Artificial photosynthesis is a huge potential disruptive technology:

      http://solarfuelshub.org/

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Loved the link, warmist. I have held for a long time that artificial photosynthesis would be the eventual way that we’d use sunlight.

      There are lots of folks working on it as we speak. It’s a tough nut to crack, though, nature is sneaky.

      During the energy crisis of the 1970s, HP patented a solar cell that was designed to be used underwater. It generated electricity and used it right there to dissociate water into H2 and O2, which were collected at separate electrodes. I always thought that would be a promising line to follow. Now, with nanotechnology, seems like you could combine a catalyst as described in your article with distributed microscopic solar cells that would help to propel the reaction in the forwards directions …

      I need minions, and a laboratory in a hollow volcano, to develop all of these ideas.

      w.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Willis,

        Arpa-e could use a great mind like yours:

        http://solarfuelshub.org/careers/

        Really…

        I’m very convinced in the artificial photosynthesis route (can you tell?). Big breakthroughs coming more frequently now is a sign of some serious game changing technology ahead. Imagine if the very material your house is made of (even the paint) could take advantage of all the energy falling on it to a very high level of efficiency. We are far closer to that reality than some might realize. Honestly, some of these nuke engineers ought to submit their resumes at the link above.

    • David Springer

      I think this is limited in the same way as photovoltaics – manufacturing cost. Think how cool it would be if PV panels grew from seeds and produced seeds for more panels. And the panels cleaned and repaired themselves too.

      This is what synthetic biology delivers. Not just the product but the cost-free manufacture, repair, and maintenance of the products.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Nano tech plus artificial photosynthesis plus synthetic biology plus ???

        What an amazing future our grandchildren and great grandchildren will see…just as our world would be amazing to our great grandparents.

    • SW: you are really into 100 year pronouncements. The perfect warmist.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        You know nothing about me, so please don’t use the word perfect in regards to anything about me. I’m not a perfect anything. But you can be sure that the reality of tomorrow is at the very edges of what people think possible today. Hence why science fiction writers have tended to peg the future closer than the so-called experts. The writers know instinctively that we live in Extremistan.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Swan_(Taleb_book)

  74. Now subtract the presumption that CO2 is harmful from the projections. Oooo … complete reversal of the conclusions! That’s were my money goes.

  75. Disbelieving of nature schoolteachers have now come to fear it. The greatest terror these schoolteachers have is to be awake when truth happens. The reality is simple: it is easier for some of these AGW True Believers to choke on their own bile than to admit they were wrong at best and worse that they have been merciless pushers of an anti-humanist climate porn agenda on the productive–for money–comparable to a Nazi hate crime and on a par with digging the gold out the teeth of Jews while they’re still alive. The Democrat party caters to these nihilists and that is a disgrace to humanity.

  76. Over at WUWT guest Tim Ball is denouncing ad hominem attacks. I don’t know what to make of this, given he is being sued for attacking Michael Mann’s character. Could it mean he’s going to apologize to Mann?

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Tis the Spirit of the Season? God bless us one and all…

      • R Gates

        Your literary reference reminds me of my seasonal article described as follows;

        ” Has Charles Dickens shaped our perception of climate change? Author: Tony Brown

        Charles Dickens. Victorian winters. A Christmas Carol. Ice fairs on the Frozen Thames. Cold Cold Cold Cold Cold. Dickens has irrevocably moulded the climate views of generations of Anglo Saxon peoples as TV, Films and plays all promote his image of icy winters in that era. Is this view of Dickens winters correct? We take a look at his life through the prism of climate.

        http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/bah-humbug/

        seasonal greetings
        tonyb

      • tony b

        Not only was LIA England an inhospitable place in winter – so was Switzerland during that period.

        Winter was generally recognized as the season of death – there are far fewer winter deaths than there were back then, of course, but still more deaths in winter than in other seasons today, despite the fact that winters are generally milder and everyone now has access to reliable, low-cost energy.

        We can be very thankful that the LIA is over.

        And that we all enjoy access to reliable, low-cost energy.

        Let’s hope it doesn’t start to cool off again – we sure don’t need another LIA with 7 billion mouths to feed.

        And let’s hope that misguided “central planners” don’t shut off our supply of reliable, low-cost energy in some silly and futile attempt to “save the planet from humanity”.

        Max

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Tony, I love your historical perspective. Of course, Dickens was strongly influenced by his childhood experiences. Having been born in 1812 just a few years before Mt. Tambora erupted and the famous “year without a summer” in 1816, and the cold years covering the decade of his early childhood, this left their mark on his psyche. He wrote from these early experiences of some brutal winters duriing the Dalton Minimum, Mt. Tambora, etc.

      • R gates

        The year without a summer? I wrote about that here

        http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/travels-in-Europe-part-1/

        Keats himself visited my home town in that year and wrote about the weather. In the same article I note that whalers from our port became aware of the rapidly diminishing arctic ice and alerted the royal society who sent the worlds first scientific expedition there to investigate around 1820 headed by scoresby who is buried some 7 miles from here . His plaque in the local church lies next to another person who lived in a grand house just below mine and who perished in the titanic . Which coincidentally marked the start of the next great warming which I am currently writing about
        Tonyb

      • And a merry Christmas holiday and a healthy new year to you Mr Gates.

        Assuming of course the world doesn’t end on Friday. I’m betting even lolwot thinks that a climatic tipping point is not that close at hand.

    • Oh, do get over yourself!
      The fact that Mann chose to sue someone over an off-the-cuff remark about the State Penn, speaks volumes about his character, I reckon.

      • What do you think of Ball denouncing ad hominem attacks after his ad hominem attack on Mann?

        If he’s decided to reform, I believe an apology to Mann would show he is serious about it.

      • What do you think of Ball denouncing ad hominem attacks after his ad hominem attack on Mann? If he’s decided to reform, I believe an apology to Mann would show he is serious about it.

        You mean Mann will apologize for his ad hominem? Cause quite frankly, I see many in the *real* climate science community distancing themselves from Mann and the hysteria that surrounded his work, most notably the Al Gore crowd’s hysteria. The *real* scientists here would never use words like “settled science”, would publish their code before they were cornered like rats (the “adjustments” are the key to his work, are they not?), and would have of course published work based on ALL of his collected data, not just parts of it. Oh, and would know that everyone who reads it had heard of “The Little Ice Age.”

      • Max,

        Haven’t you recognized the fact that Dr Mann has a ego big enough to sink an iceberg? Having it is not a crime, but the least one should expect is for him to be big enough to handle criticism. He appears to be very poor at doing so.

    • Max_OK

      Do you seriously think that lawsuit by Michael Mann against Timothy Ball is going anywhere?

      Max_not an Okie

      • I don’t know what you mean by “going anywhere.” Such cases usually are settled out of court. If the case goes to trial, who knows what the outcome will be? I wouldn’t bet either way.

      • I see Mann backing out as soon as he realizes that he’s sued more than one target, who will join forces, and they do have money. And those publications will have free reign during discovery to ask all sorts of questions, questions that can be compelled via court order (can’t ignore them like FOA requests). And, Mann is a public figure, having placed himself in that role, so he’s pretty much an open target for commentary, satire, etc. Mind you — this has nothing to do with the merits of the case, this is what I’d tell any public figure contemplating such a lawsuit.

        Good synopsis here:
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/09/18/climategate-star-michael-mann-courts-legal-disaster/

    • Because of disease and hygiene and bacteria, etc., seasonal death rates back then tended to peak in the summer.

      • And you have first-hand experience of that then? ;-)

      • Correcting Max’s nonsense? Yeah.

      • You’re being disingenuous.
        Just because people might have died like flies in summer because of bacteria etc, it doesn’t mean to say that they didn’t also die almost as fast in winter from the cold and cold-related diseases.
        Besides, those hygiene etc problems of yesteryear are hardly likely to come back, are they?
        Given that, what makes you think winter won’t be the ‘season of death’ should we return to LIA conditions?

    • What are Mann and his circle of sycophants crying about? There’s no crying in science. Who needs more proof that global warming is nothing but a hoax and scare tactic that is s more social than science? The truth is, Penn State is about as pro-American as the UN.

  77. Pekka Pirilla, Gates and several other commenters are keen believe (or hope) that solar power can be a viable way to generate significant amounts of emissions free electricity. Consider this.

    4. Whereas nuclear would be built near population centres, where work force, infrastructure, suppliers and services are available, this is not the case for solar thermal. Solar thermal needs to be built in areas of high insolation (deserts) and the power stations must be widely distributed to minimise the impacts of widespread cloud cover. [The NEEDS (2009) costs are based on constructing the Andasol 1 solar thermal power station in Spain. The cost of constructing widely distributed solar thermal power stations over an area of some 3000 km by 1000 km in Australia’s deserts will be higher than the cost of constructing in Spain - where there is well developed infrastructure and larger work force nearer to the sites. To construct the solar thermal power stations in areas throughout central Australia will require large mobile construction camps, fly-in fly-out work force, large concrete batch plants, large supply of water, energy and good roads to each power station. Air fields suitable for fly-in fly-out will be required at say one per 250 MW power station. That means we need to build such air fields at the rate of about two, then three, then four per year.].

    5. Transmission costs are included at the rate of $1,200/kW (derived from estimates in AEMO, 2009).

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/09/emission-cuts-realities/

    A rough estimate of the transmission line cost is $180 billion. That is, the cost of the transmission lines for the solar system is more than the total capital cost for nuclear power plants to do the same job (provide a near emissions free electricity system).
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/10/solar-realities-and-transmission-costs-addendum/

    A transmission line cost estimate for eastern Australia only (for a mix of wind, solar thermal solar PV, and biofuel generators) is $107 billion (see Figure 7, and cf the cost for nuclear): http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf In this case the transmission cost alone is more than 2/3 the capital cost of the mostly nuclear system to do the same job ($154 billion, Figure 6).

    This should help to persuade all but a few that solar power is not viable and unlikely to ever be viable. The more we keep talking, wishing and hoping for something that has no realistic chance of contributing to cutting global GHG emissions, the longer we delay getting focus on realistic solutions.

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Centralized solar would be as silly as centralized energy for your philodendron. Each house and business will power itself with excess going to the collective smart grid. This is the inevitable future– embrace it.

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Peter said,

      “This should help to persuade all but a few that solar power is not viable and unlikely to ever be viable.”

      You should print out this statement and have your great grandchildren read it. They’ll get a very good chuckle from it…

    • Gates,

      Your responses prompt me to think as follows:

      1. You are not skeptical at all. You simply believe what you want to believe and ignore all the relevant facts. I suspect this is true of you belief in CAGW too. And the same applies to many other CAGW alarmists too. Your commetns are further evidence of why CAGW alarmists cannot be trusted on anything.

      2. If you are a scientist, your lack of understanding of $, costs, economics, units and orders of magnitude, demonstrates why scientists opinion about these matters cannot be taken seriously. Many of them simply have no understanding of these things. It is a strong reminder of how poorly so many scientists.

      3. If you read the link I gave you will understand why it is impracticable to provide reliable power for modern society without a transmission system. The capital cost for the overbuild and energy storage required would be several orders of magnitude higher than you recognise. Please read this ( with you appropriately ‘skeptical’ mind turned on):
      Peter Lang – “Solar Power Realities – Supply, demand, storage and costs”
      http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Peter Lang said,

        “Everything humans have is from two inputs: human ingenuity and energy.”

        Is this even useful? Since pretty much everything is energy in one form or another, how is it useful to say everything humans have came from everything? What we have to really be thankful for is that in this region of the universe there was enough density of matter combining with gravity so that it could condense into stars and fusion reaction could get started. This allows life to exist and for entropy to be overcome for a short while. Gravity allows negentropy which is the mark of life. Dark energy (as antigravity) will eventually win, but gravity is what we really should be
        thankful for.

      • Gates,

        Yes, it is useful. Because, if you think sensibly instead of creating diversions, the fact that energy is a fundamental input to everything we have explains why it is wrong to do anything that increases the cost of energy. We should always be doing all we can to reduce the cost of energy, increase its availability for all the world’s people, and make the supply as secure and reliable as possible for everyone.

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Peter Lang,

        I do not believe in CAGW. You know nothing about me. Also, I’ve never advocated for “no transmission system” for energy. Smart grids are a very robust and intelligent transmission system. I believe highly in nuclear energy, and we’ve got the most amazing fusion reactor operating free of charge at a very safe distance from us. Artificial Photosynthesis will allow us to tap into this fusion based power supply with amazing efficiency. Do you know even one scientist doing research in this area? It is a huge game changer and there were many major milestones reached this year.

    • Gates,

      My apologies for writing a response to you that was in part prompted by the other solar advocate blogging recently. Moving on and trying to clear up what I meant, I was responding to your comment that said:

      Centralized solar would be as silly as centralized energy for your philodendron. Each house and business will power itself with excess going to the collective smart grid. This is the inevitable future– embrace it.

      First, I didn’t say anything about centralised solar power. I was talking about widely distributed solar power (which all advocates recognise is necessary to minimise the effects of widespread overcast conditions, which can cover most of a continent and greatly reduces output).

      Therefore, solar power requires a very costly transmission network (see the links provided previously).

      Some of your beliefs are astounding. The idea that each business can power itself is so ridiculous I don’t know how you could believe such nonsense. How much power do you think is required to supply industry – such as aluminium smelters? How much area of solar panels do you think would required to power that in average conditions and in the worst case conditions?

      If each house is to power itself, each house would need batteries and they all need sufficient solar panels to supply enough energy to last through the longest possible periods of overcast weather. Capacity factor is down to 0.75% on some days. How much energy storage capacity and how much overbuild of capacity would you need to ensure reliable power through all weather conditions. The answer is in one of the links I gave you earlier (but you haven’t read it, have you? Google ‘Solar Power Realities’).

      The smart grid is just a more expensive and probably less reliable grid.

      I really don’t know if you haven’t a clue or you are just ‘stirring the pot’. Please let me know.

  78. If Willis didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him. Keep on truckin’, Esch.

  79. BBC News Online: The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that coal will catch up with oil as the world’s leading energy source by 2022. In a report, the Agency says that increased demand from India and China are fuelling the push. Natural gas offers the best hope of reducing carbon emissions in the short term the report concludes.

    It comes as the European Union acknowledged that it has been unable to fund a single project to capture and store CO2. Economic and population growth in developing countries are spurring the drive for coal says the IEA.

    By 2017 the agency says global coal consumption will stand at 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent, versus 4.4 billion tonnes for oil itself. “Coal’s share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year,” says IEA executive director Maria Van der Hoeven. “If no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade.”

    The report forecasts that by 2014 China will account for more than half the world’s coal consumption, while India will overtake the US in second place.
    In fact the US is the only region of the world forecast to reduce demand for coal says the report, highlighting the role being played by shale gas in the energy mix.

    “The US experience suggests that a more efficient gas market, marked by flexible pricing and fuelled by indigenous unconventional resources that are produced sustainably can reduce coal use, CO2 emissions and consumers’ electricity bills without harming energy security” says Ms. Van der Hoeven.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20770245

    Goodnight at only 9.06 pm Wednesday. (GMT +10)

    • Pekka Pirilla and Gates,

      Do you think solar power will have any effect in stopping this trend?

      • The Skeptical Warmist

        Absolutely. Artificial photosynthesis will be the big game changer. Why burn yesterday’s stored sunlight when you can power everything from today’s far more efficiently.

    • Faustino

      Your BBC News blurb on coal surpassing oil by 2022 reminds me of late 19thC forecasts that London, New York (and even Manchester) would be inundated by meter-high piles of horse manure by 1920 due to the rapidly expanding number of horse carriages.

      The planners cited by BBC have no more notion what is going to happen to energy sources by 2022 than those 19thC forecasters had.

      If shale oil and gas extraction becomes a boom worldwide, this could displace a lot of coal (as it is already starting to doing in the USA).

      What about nuclear fission, including new generation technologies, such as fast-breeder reactors with thorium?

      What about nuclear fusion?

      The clincher in this report is the statement:

      “If no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade.”

      “Changes to current policies” by the all-knowing “central planners”?

      Sounds like an appeal for a direct or indirect carbon tax to me.

      No thanks, BBC.

      Max

    • Coal is a great fuel. We know how to burn it cleanly and efficiently, and we have lots of it. The noted trend is because a lot of people (billions) are getting electricity, plus there is an industrial revolution in progress. This is all good news, great news in fact. The idea that coal is somehow bad is just green nuts.

      • Agree. Coal generates almost 1/2 of the world’s electricity (maybe ~40%). I am thankful to the people who keep the fires burning. Modern plants are very clean, ash disposal may be a problem.

    • China will consume 2.2 billion tons of cement this year. Compared to average US cement consumption of 100 million tons per year. TO make cement takes roughly 1/4 ton of coal to make 1 ton of cement.

      They’ve got a massive building boom going on, at a scale humanity has never witnessed before. Historically, building booms that far surpass population growth are temporary. events. China is currently building enough urban residential housing to comfortable house 24 million people per year(30m2 per person). Their population growth rate is 8 million per year and dropping rapidly..

      China’s 2012 consumption of coal for electricity production is about the same as 2011.

      Projection consumption out to 2017 requires knowing when China’s building boom will end. The last I checked building booms end when most people conclude that the building boom will never end.

      • harrywr2 | December 21, 2012 at 9:33 am said: ”China will consume 2.2 billion tons of cement this year. Compared to average US cement consumption of 100 million tons per year. TO make cement takes roughly 1/4 ton of coal to make 1 ton of cement”

        Harry, here is another surprise for you: .to make cement from limestone – needs to heat that limestone – then ”to hydrate it”. ”Hydrating limestone releases CO2, same as when burning coal / limestone is full of carbon. Because limestone is made from dead coral + shells. When they were alive – they absorbed calcium and carbon -> therefore: when hydrating the lime -> releases heat and CO2, no different than burning coal.

        2] Chinese last year finished building 53 new coal powered power stations. They can say that they didn’t increase CO2 emission – western propaganda will approve their lie / because it suits them. BUT, if you ask Australian ans South African coal exporters – you will see the tremendous extra amount of coal Chinese imported. Plus: in their coalmines, by improving mechanization / efficiency – dig more and more coal. they don’t allow anybody to know how much more coal they dig; as industrial confidentiality – so they can drive coal prices down in australia

  80. Here we are living in the absolutely best time period humanity has ever seen.

    Life expectancy is at an all-time high.

    Starvation rates are at all-time lows.

    Billions of humans take access to reliable, low-cost energy for granted.

    Sure, there is still a lot of poverty – but once-poor nations like China, India, etc. are beginning to develop their economies and increase the quality of life of their populations.

    Other poor nations will not be far behind.

    Sure there is still strife. But it has been many decades since we’ve seen a really devastating war with millions of human casualties.

    And then some idiot asks:

    “is the Earth f_ked?”

    Not hardly, buddy. Look around you.

    Max

    • Well said Max, but you are not addressing the argument and the Malthusian model, which is based on the very progress you cite.

      • David

        No. I am not “addressing the Malthusian model”.

        This model is being proven wrong on a daily basis.

        For example, the “model” prognosticates a constant exponential growth rate (in population, GDP, etc.) until absolute limits are reached and everything implodes as a result of its own mass.

        Yet we have seen the compounded population growth rate jump from under 1% per year to over 1.7% per year in the past century, and slow down again most recently, with a forecast for this century of between 0.4 and 0.45% per year.

        So “constant exponential growth” has been proven false.

        And I believe it is absurd for top-down central planners to call on this model to justify taxes intended to force the general population to decrease its quality of life today in order to conserve resources for future generations.

        It’s simply a gimmick for raising tax revenues for the ruling class to increase its power by distributing this money to favored individuals or for pet projects.

        No thanks.

        Max

      • Max, is not the issue rapid growth in per capita resource consumption due to reducing poverty?

      • The neo-Malthusians are the ones that claim that alternative and renewable energy research is somehow anti-technology because it does not have the energy density or efficiency of our present conventional fossil fuels.

        But what could have that incredible energy density, borne of quirks of nature and these process that went on for hundreds of thousands of years?

        Solar power and wind power are of course marginal in comparison to conventional crude, just as tight oil and lignite coal and shale gas is marginal in its EROEI value.

        Keep talking, as Climate is really the Etc in the bigger picture.

    • The Skeptical Warmist

      Agree, and it will get even better (even with hiccups along the way).

  81. Thought fer Today’ by my friend NassimTaleb.

    ‘A small number of Black Swans explains almost everything
    in our world, from the success of ideas and religeon, to the
    dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own
    personal lives.” ( BS Prologue)

    As mentioned above, in the many insightful comments efficient
    energy has brought great benefits in productivity, affluence and
    liife expectancy to the western world. It’s a matter of concern that productivity isthreatened by poor policy decions re heavily sub-
    sidized renewables by tenured decision makers ‘with no skin in
    the game’ as Faustino observes, (17/12 11.20 pm.) The
    following report demonstrates the costliness of renewables
    compared to fossil fuels.

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/economy/electricitycosts2012.pdf

    Another report by E Rosenbloom, ‘A Problem With Wind Power’
    5/September,2006, p1, examines renewables inefficiencies.
    For example, in Denmark, windmill capital of the world, in 2003
    its 6000 turbines provided only 3.3% of its electricity.

    Taleb again: ‘Contrary to social – science wisdom, almost no
    discovery, no technologies of note came from design and
    planning… The strategy for the discoveries and entrepreneurs
    is to rely less on top down planning and focus on maximum
    tinkering and recognising opportunities when they present
    themselves…. the reason free markets work is because they
    allow people to be lucky, thanks to aggressive trial and error,
    not by giving rewards or ‘incentives’ for skill, The strategy is,
    then, to tinker as much as possible and try to collect as many
    Black Swan oppotunities as you can.’ (xxv)

    Seems ter me, citizens share in the benefits of the successful
    ventures, risk free, employment opportunities etc, but don’t
    have to pay the costs of failures. We should encourage the
    innovators by providing a low tax, minimum red tape environment condusive to innovation.

    • Beth

      Thanks for “thoughts for the day” from our buddy, Nassim Taleb.

      Your conclusion is spot on.

      We should encourage the innovators by providing a low tax, minimum red tape environment condusive to innovation.

      (And flush the top-down, “ivory tower” central planners in the process.)

      Max

  82. Out there-riding the thermals! )

    Aquila chrysae.

    You soar on up-draughts of air as easily
    As lazy clouds drift across a summer sky.
    By subtle adjustment of flight feathers
    You catch every thermal and ride the wind.
    You are monarch of all you survey,
    Your yellow, eagle eyes can mark small prey
    More than a mile away. Your elevated flight
    Gives you a god’s eye perspective of the world.

    More far-seeing than other emperors of
    The animal kingdom, the lion pride
    Confined to the African veldt, or
    Leviathan ploughing through opaque seas,
    For you look down upon the wrinkled sea
    And see the movements of the tides,
    You scan the rhythmic earth and observe
    The long shadows of approaching night.

    Lord of the air, only man can surpass
    Your range by his flights of fancy and
    Invention. Exploring through poetry
    And music, transcendent experience,
    Exploring through science, the laws of
    Gravity and mysterious space-time.
    Discovering through engineering
    The means to fly and journey into space.

    Beth

  83. Max,
    Me father was an innovater. Tenured platonists in ivory towers
    jest don’t have the littoral experience, seems ter me :)
    Beth

    • Beth

      Liked your poem.

      Yeah. As the saying goes, “it’s hard to soar with the eagles when you’re surrounded by turkeys (in ivory towers?)”

      “Meleagris turris eburneae”?

      Hope you Christmas turkey is of a different variety.

      Max

  84. Meleagris turris eburneae, lol.

  85. Willis, I echo your 4 point rebuttal of Dolan’s points, with a couple of additions.

    Firstly, the rape/prostitutes thing that Dolan cited gives me (a woman) the creeps, as well as being in no way analogous. Keep your sick fantasies to yourself, pal. And, do not try to pull the wool over our eyes by claiming that sex services, which operate in a real market, have anything to do with your peculiar construct of economics.

    Then, we are into Gucci handbags (those danged women again!) – another case of voluntary buyers and sellers. So what?

    As other have explained at length and in detail, “externalities” are just Trojan horses. A polio vaccination for a child might cost $2, but the benefit of that child not getting polio is enormous to her and to her society. A cost/benefit analysis is much more useful, but that is what the fans of “externalities” dread most.

    Even if the worst predictions of climate alarmists were true, on a cost/benefit analysis we should not impoverish ourselves and other around the globe as a way of dealing with it.

    You, sir, are a charlatan, and a creep. Given your views on sexual interactions, I am glad that you live on another continent.

    • Johanna

      Agree with your endorsement of the four points and your denouncing of the sexual points made which seem inappropriate and creepy. Hopefully Mr Dolan-who has many interesting things to dsay can find some better analogies
      tonyb

      • Tony, I have not been able to discover anything of substance that is new or interesting in Dolan’s work, but perhaps you could point me to something?

      • Tony, I posted a letter of mine on Australa’s ABC above, and some responses to Joshua’s criticism. The issue kicked off when the ex-Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Maurice Newman, lamented in a press article his inability to eliminate bias there (to accord with the ABC’s impartial Charter), specifically referring to the ABC’s extreme pro-CAGW bias. The ABC’s longest-serving and most prominent science correspondent & presenter attacked Newman on air, starting by equating global warming “deniers” with paedophiles claiming to act in childrens’ interests, and with drug pushers claiming they are providing an essential service. This was a prelude to an interview with Lewandowsky, who pushed his nonsense that all non-believers are either ideologues or denialist religious maniacs. I hope that Joshua would have seen the letters defending such views as right and proper as inferior to mine in which I argued a case on facts but didn’t provide my data sources.

  86. Currently there is 450 ton international space station with crew of 6 which has been continuously occupied for 12 years which has been flying at around 400 km above Earth [at orbital inclination of 51 degrees- it's path will fly from 51 degrees latitude, north and south]. It flies over 80% of the Earth’s surface, it has been largely funded by US taxer payers, and has involved many astronauts from different countries. Russia has been a major
    partner, and Russia has been solely responsible for getting crew to the station, since the end of US shuttle program. Last month, SpaceX flew it’s first non-experimental cargo flight to ISS, a notable event occurred in which 1 of it’s 9 engines failed, yet the Falcon-9 was still able to successful deliver cargo to ISS. Other countries- Japan and European space agency- have delivered cargo to ISS, but for next few years, only Russia flies crews to and from the station.

    International Space Station [ISS} involves about 1/2 of NASA’s manned space program budget, the other half is being spent to develop a rocket, which eventually is planned to be larger than the Saturn V [the largest and most successful rocket ever built, which landed crew on the Moon].
    It was the Saturn V rocket which allow the US to send crew to the Moon, in less than decade or “before the end of the decade” [the 1960 decade] and
    beat the Soviets to the Moon. A vision offered by JFK [in a famous speech] who later assassinated, but this goal was continued by other US presidents. Ultimately, the Saturn V [the workhorse of Apollo] delivered a total of 12 crew to the lunar surface, it had 11 successful launches which
    includes the launch of first US station space station, Skylab, then the
    Saturn V was scrapped, to be replaced with the Shuttle program.

    So after few decades of the Shuttle program, NASA is returning to idea of developing a heavy lift rocket. A 130 ton payload to Low Earth Orbit [LEO]
    and Saturn V was about 100 tons to LEO. So NASA is planning to make
    the largest rocket ever made and could take over a decade to develop it.
    And this program is called SLS [which critics call the Senate Launch System, but it's official name is the Space Launch System].

    I think the 130 ton payload rocket will never fly, but instead will be cancelled before this stage of rocket development is achieved- I would like a reality in which NASA could develop a relatively cheap, reliable heavy lift rocket- something like or better than the Saturn V- but I think it’s not likely in the cards.
    The SLS is being developed incrementally with first development version being a 70 ton to LEO rocket, which btw, is bigger than any currently available- and could be the largest rocket available in the world at that time. But this first launch is vaguely scheduled in 2017 with the 130 ton version available in sometime in 2030’s.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Launch_System

    Wiki, criticism:
    “Others suggest it will cost less to use an existing rocket (Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9) or proposed derivative (Falcon Heavy), with on-orbit assembly and refuelling as needed, rather than develop a new launch vehicle for space exploration without competition for the whole design. Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin suggested that a heavy lift vehicle should be developed for $5 billion on fixed-price requests for proposal, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said his company could build one for $2.5 billion.

    The Augustine commission proposed an option for a commercial 75 metric ton launcher with lower operating costs, and noted that a 40 to 60 metric ton launcher can support exploration. ”

    Btw, the Falcon Heavy is a rocket which could lift 70 tons to LEO- and Atlas V, Delta IV also has possible variants on the drawing table, capable of around 50 to 60 tons.
    And Atlas V and Delta IV currently are the biggest US launch vehicle- both these programs were developed by US military to deliver US defense satellite, with total develop [both launchers, in program called EELV] for 2 billion dollars- most of this money paying for launches- it was agreement to buy a certain amount launches at agree upon prices]

    The Falcon 9 development cost was privately funded, and Elon Musk
    says would built Falcon Heavy if given government funding of 2.5 billion.
    And keep in mind, NASA is spending about 3 billion a year for it’s 70 ton rocket [which is suppose to evolve into 130 ton] which the 70 version might be ready in 2017. So NASA already spent over 6 billion, and by 2017 will have spent well over 12 billion.
    And 2.5 billion is less than 12 billion.
    And the 2.5 billion funding would be like EELV, would be agreeing to buying launches before starting to building the rocket.
    The problem with large rockets [anything over 50 tons] is the lack of market [this size rocket is not needed to launch satellites].
    It is possible Elon Musk will build it’s Falcon Heavy without such “market guarantees”- build it they come sort of thing, which has been his approach with developing the Falcon 9.

    For the time being, NASA is going to spent 1/2 of budget it’s human spaceflight on ISS and 1/2 on developing a Heavy Lift rocket And Human Spaceflight is a bit less than 1/2 of NASA’s total budget.

    What I think, and is mentioned in Wiki criticism of SLS program [above]
    is what NASA *should do* is develop a system of refueling spacecraft in space. Which is even vaguely a new idea, it was the assumed path of getting to Moon, prior to Saturn V. The advantage going to route of the Saturn V, was it was a faster way to get to the Moon. Using one rocket, which launches crew, which can land on the Moon and return safely.
    Instead of multiple rockets, and having system of docking and refueling a spacecraft- there little certainly of how one does this *exactly* and there is still some doubt about how exactly one does this- this uncertainty
    would translate into taking more time.
    But the SLS path of getting to the Moon after 2030, is hardly the definition of quick. And developing a system of re-fueling spacecraft could get us to the Moon by 2020- and in total costs be much cheaper.

    And what I am saying is not unknown or even really debatable, but it
    can be ignored and denied by NASA’s bureaucracy. I just don’t think it ignored forever- and why I think that ultimately the 130 ton SLS will never fly.
    If you have a system of re-fueling spacecraft in space [and one could say that ISS has been doing this for 12 years- it needs to be re-boosted or fall from the sky] then one does not need 100 ton lift rockets to get to
    the Moon- or even Manned Mars. Instead one could go the Moon with the existing rockets. Existing rockets which which in addition to US, many countries already have: Japan, China, European space agency, and India*.

    *”Of seven launches over nearly 12 years, India’s largest rocket has notched only two successes and one partial success. The last fully successful flight occurred in September 2004.

    But, ISRO is, if nothing else,doggedly persistent. In April, the Indian space agency will attempt to launch a GSLV rocket fitted with its second domestically produced cryogenic upper stage. ”
    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2012/12/09/india-to-try-again-with-cryogenic-upper-stage-after-long-gap/

    Why go to the Moon [or Mars or anywhere with humans]. This gets into the whole human vs robot debate. Which I find *boring*.
    I make it as short as possible. We would not have a manned space program, at this time, if we did not have a robust commercial satellite market [robots], but we would not have a planetary robotic exploration program without a human space flight program.
    Or people arguing for robot only exploration of space, argue it is cheaper, but in long term it much more expensive AND the public would
    not support it. Human spaceflight in long term can be vastly cheaper and
    it’s something the public wants.
    And key aspect of why robots can be seen as cheaper, is you can throw away the hundred million dollar robot- rarely do you need to bring the robot back to Earth.
    Getting back to Earth is fundamentally, relatively cheap. And it can made a lot cheaper. If you make it cheaper, using humans is cheaper than robots.
    A key aspect of returning to Earth cheaply is having rocket fuel available
    in Space. If rocket fuel were available on the Moon, even it hideously high price, having people going to the Moon would be 1/2 the current costs.
    The key to having rocket fuel on the Moon, is having water on the Moon.
    There could be a billion tons of water on the Moon. A billion tonnes water on Earth, is all over the place. It rains this much in rain storm.
    It’s a small pond or lake. But on the Moon there could concentration of water in polar regions which if added all up, could exceed a billion tonnes. But all that needed on the moon is less than 1 million tonnes.
    A 100 tonnes would enough for lunar program. And as little as 10,000 tons could make it economically viable to mine and transform the space
    environment.
    What is needed is for the polar region of the Moon to be explored to determine whether there is minable [can mine somewhere around 10,000 tons fairly easily which includes mine this amount within a short enough period of time- years]. You need to mine enough, in order to make it economically viable- to pay the high costs need to start such an operation. No different than in order successful mine off shore oil you need enough minable oil. It’s around that scale of cost development,
    though oil has ready market for it’s product, and lunar water is a bit more complicated in terms of available market.

    So a ton of lunar water is fair cheap at million dollars. And obviously
    a million tons of water at such price is trillion dollars. And billion tones is 1000 trillion dollars. One can’t expect to sell million tons for 1 trillion dollars- market factors don’t work that way, maybe 100 billion, but that
    getting ahead of things. With only 10,000 tons at million per tons, one only has gross of 10 billion. So it’s trickier to pull this off, but within the realm of possible. NASA doing this, dream on. But private markets could do it. And this is what I am talking about.
    So if you had lunar water commercially mined and selling water at million dollars of ton. Which may be 2 or even 3 million ton, one has 1/2 the cost of crew going to the Moon because there would rocket fuel available. But one doesn’t even need to mine lunar water and make rocket fuel, and sell it, one manage lower cost by around 1/2, by shipping rocket fuel from earth, at low cost. Or having rocket fuel available on the moon for 20 or 30 million a ton makes going to the Moon a lot easier and therefore lower cost- even if you paying fairly high price for the rocket fuel.
    The reason any commercial provider of rocket fuel would charge a lower price, is to increase the demand for rocket fuel.
    If you had unreasonably high demand for lunar rocket fuel, one could less it for less than 10,000 per ton, but 2 million per ton for rocket fuel [1 million or less for water] would be reasonable considering market demand within decade or two of time.
    Or before 1 million tons of water [out of possible 1 billion tonnes of more]
    is mined and sold the price could drop by 1/10th or 1/20th, but by the time the millionth ton is mined, could take several decades before this much demand is reached. But getting to point of any rocket fuel at whatever could seen as a reasonable price, is the biggest cost reduction to sending crew to the Moon- it makes humans cheaper than robots- but of course you still want robots, you lowered their costs by some amount and made them even more useful/valuable.

    Or the big problem with mining lunar water is market size- humans not robots would be biggest market element. Having some kind commercial lunar mining operation run solely by robots, is pointless and non-economical- it’s self defeating. Though using as much robots that make economical sense, is a good idea.
    Having tel-operated machines using workers on Earth controlling them would probably a must for any business plan. But the machines would assisting, rather than the myth that the use of machines are going replace humans completely.

  87. Green Elusion
    …alternative energy could do more harm than good.

    It is the delusion of the green activists who think alternative energy that EXISTED BEFORE THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION can sustain an industrialized society. It is a massive delusion. It will cause enormous damage. The only thing that could save us from the deluded green activists is the huge La Ninas that are due soon and the resulting drop in global mean temperature. “Bring on the La Ninas”

    • The industrial revolution was fueled for decades in large part by water wheels, sail power, and animal power. Mill towns = water wheels.

  88. Here was a planned $10,000 vehicle conversion to hydrogen kit. Now $45,000 because of rare earth prices. http://www.switch2hydrogen.com/. Uses a metal hydride bonding system for hydrogen storage.

    Here is some Australian hydrogen storage research: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/08/16/3569478.htm.

    Maybe soon we will see a breakthrough on the storage problem.

    • http://nh3fuelassociation.org/

      There is another on that doesn’t use rare earths. Uses that rare nitrogen. If you are afraid of ammonia, there is always urea with a conversion process before combustion. The energy density of ammonia is lower than diesel, but on a par with metal hydrides.

      • Yep, even reduces that pesky explosion potential that seems to bother hydrogen fuel cell vehicle haters. Wimps! What’s life without a little risk.

        http://www.strath.ac.uk/rkes/fly/ureafuelcells/

        Like pretty much anything, once a standard is set, things progress, but progressives tend to get in the way of progress.

      • Promising, a storage technology that can transform intermittent sources of renewable energy into something more dependable.
        This advance provides incremental progress to lessen our reliance on diminishing fossil fuel reserves while at the same time decreasing CO2 emissions responsible for global warming.
        A typical Twofer. String enough of these advances together and we can make progress in harnessing alternative sources of energy.

      • WHT writes “a storage technology that can transform intermittent sources of renewable energy into something more dependable.”

        I am not aware of any storage device, other than pumped storage which, for some reason, seems to be impractical, that can store gigawatt/weeks of electricity; there is nothing even at the very first stages of invention. And this is what is required if the current “green” energy generators, wind and solar, are to be of any use.

      • Webster said, “Promising, a storage technology that can transform intermittent sources of renewable energy into something more dependable.”

        Actually, it also allows continued use of existing technology until it is replaced with more efficient technologies. The synfuel boogieman, who really is not such a bad guy after all.

      • Sounds interesting but how do you get around the 50% reduction in energy density?

      • Jim Crispwell said, “I am not aware of any storage device, other than pumped storage which, for some reason, seems to be impractical, that can store gigawatt/weeks of electricity; there is nothing even at the very first stages of invention. And this is what is required if the current “green” energy generators, wind and solar, are to be of any use.”

        The lack of imagination over whelms. CH4 is C storing 4 Hs NH3 stores 3 Hs, less efficient, but it is a lot easier to get the Ns with the Hs than to remove a pair of Os from a C to replace with Hs. The energy density or the equivalent number of Hs that any form of battery can is limited, just like the numbers an atom can hold. N does a pretty good job of storing Hs. Why not use N?

        Urea, a little less efficient but stable and useful for many other things, also makes for good H storage. Why bother trying to build the better battery when nature already does a fine job?

      • Rob sharkey said, “Sounds interesting but how do you get around the 50% reduction in energy density?”

        How do you get around 0% efficiency if you can’t store energy? Use it or lose it.

        Currently NH3 is worth about $700/ton. If it bombs as a transportation fuel, it has other uses. If it takes off as a transportation fuel, fertilizer gets cheap fast. Where is the loss?

      • Capt

        You may misunderstand my point. I agree that it is a very interesting technology for the long term and may well become the primary method of powering personal transportation and electricity production. It would seem that the adoption would likely be after fossil fuels become sufficiently scarce or expensive due to taxation. The fuel seems more attractive for applications where the power to weight ratio is not of critical importance.

      • Rob said, “The fuel seems more attractive for applications where the power to weight ratio is not of critical importance.”

        You should consider power to weight and power to volume. Where power to weight is critical, the CH4 or more standard petroleum synfuels are required until technology catches up. Power to volume, sorry, that just means that bigger vehicles or lower range. I have no problem with a green Hummer whether it uses compressed gas or NH3.

        During WWII, ammonia was used as a replacement fuel for buses and trucks and it powered the X-15. If ammonia is included in the synfuel mix, who knows what guys can come up with.

        Now it would never fly in the UK were they are in love with those tiny little things that look like cars, but in the US, Australia and other countries with a little elbow room?

      • I was once about 5 blocks away from an ammonia explosion in a small butchery and icehouse. It happened just two days after a new natural gas line had been installed from the alleyway. It also happened on a Sunday, and there were only two trivially injured. The building was practically flattened.
        ====================

  89. The solution? A pricing policy that stifles this “boomerang effect” by encouraging conservation rather than expansion of energy output.

    In the UK, most domestic tariffs for natural gas and electricity reward high usage. Once you get over a certain amount of electricity or gas used per annum, the rate you pay for that goes down. The very opposite of what should happen if conservation and efficiency are to be encouraged.

  90. The Skeptical Warmist

    For those still following this topic, here’s a great summary of a few of the advances in Artificial Photosynthesis and different approaches being pursued in 2012:

    http://ucs.berkeley.edu/energy/2012/06/biofuels/artificial-photosynthesis-now-a-reality/

    In short, huge breakthroughs in cost and efficiency were the hallmark of the industry research in 2012 and this trend is already set to continue in the coming years. Some form of direct solar/artificial photosynthesis will be a big part of the decentralized smart electrical distribution grid in the not too distant future.

    Peter Lang, I know enough to know that we live in Extremistan and that the future human technology will be decided by that which seems on the very edges of the possible today. Centralized nuke power plants hardly fall in this category.

  91. For those following the chances of a revolution in artificial photosynthesis as a green energy alternative in the future, here’s a look at hints of another major advance:

    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-nature-quantum-efficient-solar-energy.html

    • R gates

      Interesting item. By one of life’s great coincidences I think this may be work someone i know is involved with at Cambridge university. I will have to ask them about it next time I see them and try to understand the answer this time
      Tonyb

      • I’d be interested to hear their answer. We are a ways out from real world practical applications of artificial photosynthesis, but much closer to that than fusion. Besides, we have a great fusion reactor in the sun…with zero maintenance costs! We just need to learn the secrets of how life on earth maximizes the energy from that reactor.

    • Ironically, magnesiumificent.
      ======================

  92. Willis Eschenbach

    Thanks, R. Gates, nice catch. Room temperature long-term quantum coherence … who knew?

    w.

  93. NH3 (or urea) as a “storage” for hydrogen fuel.

    What happens to the “N” with combustion?

    Does it become NOx?

    Would this imply catalytic conversion?

  94. R Gates,

    I just saw your comment of December 20 addressed to me:

    Peter Lang, I know enough to know that we live in Extremistan and that the future human technology will be decided by that which seems on the very edges of the possible today. Centralized nuke power plants hardly fall in this category.

    That is a statement of belief.

    I do not take much notice of any solar power advocacy. I’ve been following it for over 30 years (including program manger for some RD&D programs). If you want to get me interested you need to provode a rational and persuasive answer to these major issues:

    1. sun doesn’t shine at night.
    2 Therefore, we need enormous storage capacity if no transmission system
    3. Storage capacity would have to be huge.
    4. Otherwise you need transmission systems and back-up generators (for most of the time!)
    5. When you recognise you need a massive transmissions sytem, why not just go with nuclear plants? They can be located near the demand centres; so only short transmission lines are needed. If not nuclear, then you need widely separated solar plants (e.g. in desert areas). That means huge transmission line costs and huge costs for energy storage.
    6. Solar insulation is very low density energy. So the material required to get the power we need is huge. An order of magnitude more than for nuclear power.

    In short the issues that have to be overcome are: Low energy density of sunlight, sun doesn’t shine at night, huge energy storage costs, huge transmission costs, huge material requirements. Therefore, not viable and never likely to be except for small niche, off-grid applications. Would you like to understand some more about the realities:
    Solar Power Realities – Supply-demand, storage and costs
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/08/16/solar-power-realities-supply-demand-storage-and-costs/

    Let’s face it. Your advocacy of solar power as a way to cut global GHG emissions is not rational. It is purely emotive, right?

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