Open thread weekend

by Judith Curry

It’s your turn to introduce topics for discussion

Lets try to make this thread IPCC free (we have several other recent threads discussing the IPCC).

165 responses to “Open thread weekend

  1. Can solar and wind power address global warming?

    1 Introduction

    Bjorn Lomborg said:

    What we need is investment in research and development to reduce green energy’s cost and boost its scale. When solar and other green technologies can take over cheaply, we will have addressed global warming – without the angst.’

    Solar and other green technologies (I understand nuclear is not included in ‘green energy’ by Lomborg) are unlikely to “take over cheaply” (i.e. unlikely to largely replace fossil fuels throughout the world) in the foreseeable future, and probably never.

    There is negligible likelihood renewable energy (solar and wind) will become economically viable in the foreseeable future, and they probably never will. Therefore, renewable energy will not provide a significant proportion of global energy supply. Therefore, it cannot make a significant contribution to reducing global GHG emissions.

    The comments that follow this one provide support for these assertions; they explain:

    1. Why renewables, like solar and wind, are unlikely to supply a significant proportion of the world’s energy in the foreseeable future, if ever;

    2. Why renewables, like solar and wind, are unlikely to make a significant contribution to global GHG emissions reductions

    3. Recent estimates of the cost of electricity for a largely or entirely renewable energy powered electricity grid with the most prospective renewable energy technologies.

    Lastly, I address some questions that have been asked in other threads in the past week or so.

    • 2 Why renewables like solar and wind are unlikely to supply a significant proportion of the world’s energy

      so renewables MIGHT one day become viable on a large scale, given enough research ?

      Answer: highly unlikely in the foreseeable future, and probably never. Here’s why:

      1. Wind and solar are not dispatchable. That means, the system operator cannot dispatch (i.e. instruct them) to supply power on demand – they don’t supply power when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Therefore, they need either dispatchable back up generators (like hydro, fossil fuel, biomass and load following nuclear) or energy storage or a transmission system circling the globe to transmit power from the sunny side to the other side and from windy areas to calm areas; both transmission capacity and generating capacity would require huge overbuild. All three options add to the already very high costs of wind and solar.

      2. Transmission and grid management (e.g. voltage and frequency control) costs are a lot higher with renewables than with dispatchable, controllable generators. The transmission line capacity must be sized to transmit the maximum output of the wind farm or solar power station, but the average power output is much lower. So the cost is high for the average power transmitted.

      3. Although the cost of wind turbines and solar panels has been reducing as production has increased, these are just one component of the cost of electricity from each technology. Other components are not coming down, or not much. So the claims about the decreasing cost of panels and wind turbines are disingenuous. Importantly, the increases in production volumes are dependent on the huge subsidies. These technologies are not close to being viable without the subsidies and, IMO, probably never will be. If not for the subsidies, wind would need a carbon price of over $60/MWh to be viable, and solar higher still. Despite the declining cost of some components, wind and solar are still a very expensive way of generating electricity – the cost of electricity is several times the cost of conventionally generated electricity (by fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear). It is not credible that such a large gap will be closed in the foreseeable future, and probably never.

      4. Renewables require more material per unit of energy delivered than say nuclear power stations (around 10 times more). Therefore, if we could power the world (or a significant part of it) with wind and solar, the amount of materials required would be far higher. That means more mining, processing, smelting, manufacturing, fabricating, construction, concrete production, decommissioning, toxic waste disposal and … transport between ever stage.

      5. Most ideas for new technologies fail. Those that do progress take many decades to become mature, viable and widely adopted. The reason is that they are hugely expensive capital investments so they are maintained for decades. Therefore, lessons learnt in one model take a long time to be incorporated in future models. This makes development of large, slow replacement technologies quite different and much slower than what is experienced with computers, iPhones and cars. We’ve been using wind and hydro engines for centuries, fossil fuel engines for over two centuries, solar thermal engines for a century. We’ve been using hydro and fossil fuel to generate electricity for 130 years and nuclear and solar PV for about 60 years. Therefore, it strains credulity to expect or believe there will be any sudden breakthroughs that quickly become economic.

      6. The slow rate of development also applies to energy storage technologies. We’ve been working on electricity storage for over 200 years. Pumped hydro provides 99% of worldwide installed storage capacity for electrical energy (127,000 MW). It strains credulity to believe there will be a sudden breakthrough of a new technology that will rapidly progress to being economically viable at the scale of GW generating capacity and TWh storage capacity in the foreseeable future, which is what would be needed for wind and solar power to be a significant contributor to global electricity supply.

      7. Given all the above, it is unreasonable to assume that renewable energy will provide a significant proportion of electricity generation in the foreseeable future, no matter how much research funding is thrown at it. Therefore, we should not rely on renewable energy to make a significant contribution to reducing global GHG emissions.

      The ‘Renewable Limits’ tab on the BraveNewClimate web site has a good series of articles that provide some excellent background reading.

      Renewable electricity for Australia – the cost’ explains many of the important issues and compares the costs of several options for the full system.

    • 3 Cost of grid connected renewable energy

      Renewable energy, like solar and wind, are very expensive now, and despite projected cost reductions they are projected to remain more expensive than fossil fuels and nuclear power in the foreseeable future. Below, I summarise results from three recent studies for Australia:

      1. Australian Energy Market Operator (2013) ‘AEMO report on 100% renewable electricity scenarios’

      2. CSIRO (2012) ‘eFuture’

      3. Lang (2012) ‘100% renewable electricity for Australia – the cost’

      3.1 AEMO study

      The Labor-Green Government directed the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to conduct a level study to estimate the cost of 100% renewable electricity for Australia in 2030 and 2050.

      Excerpts from AEMO ‘100 per cent renewables study: community summary

      “The former Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency commissioned AEMO to undertake a study and report on potential 100 per cent renewable electricity generation scenarios in the National Electricity Market (NEM) for 2030 and 2050. The final report contains:

      • scenarios for a 100 per cent renewable electricity supply at 2030 and 2050

      • the generation plant and the major transmission networks required to support each scenario

      • the estimated capital cost requirements for each scenario based on today’s dollars, and

      • an indicative estimate of the impact on customer energy prices.

      Wholesale electricity prices[3] are estimated to range from $111 to $133 per megawatt-hour (MWh), depending on the scenario (in 2012 dollars). Additionally, the new transmission network infrastructure would add another $6 to $10/MWh. These wholesale costs would cover construction and operating costs of the 100 per cent renewables system. For comparison, the average 2012 wholesale electricity price was around $55/MWh.”

      There are many assumptions, excluded components of the system and other limitations. The report states:

      “If the above costs were included the overall cost of a 100 per cent renewable electricity system would most likely be higher than what the report finds.”

      Projected wholesale cost, including transmission, for Scenario 2 (in 2012 A$):
      • $134/MWh in 2030
      • $139/MWh in 2050

      3.2 CSIRO eFuture

      CSIRO ‘eFuture’ finds the technology mix that would give the least cost way to meet projected electricity consumption in years 2010 to 2050.

      The eFuture default scenario (nuclear not permitted) forecasts a wholesale electricity cost of $105/MWh in 2030 and $130/MWh in 2050.

      With nuclear allowed, the cost drops to $80/MWh in 2030 and $80/MWh in 2050.

      These estimates are based on optimistic cost reduction rates for renewables and no cost reduction for nuclear.

      With nuclear ‘permitted’ and all other default assumptions, nuclear would provide 60% of Australia’s electricity in 2040 and 70% by 2050.

      This CSIRO scenario analyser is based on the projected costs of the generation technologies but other costs, such as transmission, are not included. So, IMO, the projected proportion of renewable energy generation is overstated throughout.

      3.3 Lang ‘Renewable electricity for Australia – the cost’

      Lang (2102) “Renewable electricity for Australia – the cost” This was a simple spread sheet analysis done before the AEMO and CSIRO studies. The electricity costs for each technology were current costs rather than projected future costs. The transmission cost estimates methodology was unsophisticated and may over estimate these costs. The estimated whole sale cost of electricity in 2015 (2010 A$) is $261/MWh, or about six times the current average wholesale price.

      3.4 Summary of cost of electricity estimates

      Summary of projected wholesale cost of electricity in 2012 A$ ($2010 A$ for Lang):

      1. AEMO = $134/MWh in 2030, $139/MWh in 2050

      2. CSIRO = $105/MWh in 2030, $130/MWh in 2050

      3. Lang = $261/MWh in 2015


      1. AEMO states that the costs will probably higher than stated projections.

      2. CSIRO is for generation only.

      3. Lang’s estimate is an unsophisticated analysis, based on a non cost-optimised study and using technology cost projections for 2015 not 2030.

      4 Q&A – solar and wind

      Here I provide short answers to three questions that were asked on other thread in the past week or so (see also the previous comment):

      1. Renewable energy is already economic and practical in many applications

      a. True, but irrelevant because these applications are niche, off-grid applications that supply a miniscule proportion of global electricity, perhaps 0.01%. All grid connected applications are not economically viable. They are heavily subsidised. In short, solar and wind power are not viable for providing ~99.99% of our electricity, and not even close to being viable.

      2. If we spend enough money on research we’ll make renewable energy viable

      a. Not true. There are physical constraints that no amount of research is likely to overcome, at least not in the foreseeable future.

      3. When we get the hoped for ‘breakthrough’, the new technologies will rapidly become viable and replace fossil fuels.

      a. No. It takes many decades for new breakthroughs to evolve and mature to the point where they are commercially viable.

    • 5 Conclusions

      About 99% of global electricity generation is supplied to electricity grids. AEMO and CSIRO estimate the wholesale cost of electricity in 2030 and 2050 from grids supplied by renewable energy would be more than twice the current cost of electricity (at current prices).

      Renewable energy will not displace fossil fuels unless it is cheaper. Therefore, the expected continuing high cost of renewable electricity in 2030 and 2050, renewables are unlikely to contribute much to global electricity supply let alone ‘take over fossil fuels’ in the foreseeable future (e.g. in the next four decades).

      Since renewables will not take over fossil fuels, they cannot have much impact on reducing global GHG emissions.

    • Excellent summary! However, there is one potential game-changer that R/D might make viable – inexpensive massive storage. Could make solar and wind energy something like dispatchable. It’s never “reasonable” to expect R/D success, but the potential returns on the R/D investment makes it worth it.

    • Just keep your propaganda out of Texas.

      “Wind power generation surges in Texas”
      3,500 miles of new transmission are coming online through a $6.8 billion project ordered by the Texas Legislature in 2005. And with increased electrical needs in the oil fields around the wind turbines, the bottlenecks are reducing and more electricity is getting to market, said Jeff Clark, executive director of the industry group the Wind Coalition.
      “People are buying this wind and using this wind because it’s the cheapest available power, and the net effect is reduced cost for the provider,” he said.

      In a state where water is almost as valuable as oil, wind power makes economic sense. The water not used by thermoelectric power generation (coal, gas & nuclear) can be used to grow food and is critical to the hydraulic fracturing drilling industry.

    • “2 Why renewables like solar and wind are unlikely to supply a significant proportion of the world’s energy

      so renewables MIGHT one day become viable on a large scale, given enough research ?

      Answer: highly unlikely in the foreseeable future, and probably never. Here’s why:”

      Earth is lousy place for harvesting solar energy.
      Best places on Earth get about 8 kW hours of sunlight per day.
      Places such as Germany get 2 kW hours of sunlight per day.
      And from average of 12 hours in which there is sunlight, only
      about 6 hours has most amount of energy sunlight- due to
      low amounts solar energy which gets through the atmosphere
      when the sun is at low angle in the sky. When sun at low angle
      it must pass thru a larger quantity of atmosphere, and atmosphere
      at angle is more reflective to sunlight [less transparent].

      If solar panel were above most of the atmosphere, one could get
      +12 hours of full energy of sunlight.
      “In summary, the mass of Earth’s atmosphere is distributed approximately as follows:[19]

      50% is below 5.6 km (18,000 ft).
      90% is below 16 km (52,000 ft).”
      If solar panel were between 5.6 and 16 km in elevation
      They would get significantly more solar energy and for all of the daylight.
      So 16 km of higher is the best place on earth to get solar energy.
      16 km elevation above Germany would get more than 1000 watts per square meter for 12 hours on average- +12 kw hours rather than 2 kW hours. Be better than any place on Earth which near sea level.

      If solar panel were in high earth orbit [such geostationary orbit] they would get nearly 24 hours of sunlight at 1360 watts per square meter:
      24 times 1360 watts per sq meter is about 32 kW hours per day.

      “1. Wind and solar are not dispatchable.
      2. Transmission and grid management ”
      Electric power can converted into microwaves and beamed from
      high elevation or from space. Such system of electrical power distribution could be superior to wire transmission- particularly in terms of global transmission of electrical power. On rudimentary level
      it has demonstrated by NASA and US military. And technological improvement in such technology is likely to improve in same way model T automobile was improved to modern automobiles. This is beyond the ability of socialist soviet style command and control type government, but is it the normal way technology is developed in a free market society.

      Currently the standard way electrical power is generated in the space environment is by using solar panels. There are hundreds of satellite in Geostationary orbit which have significant electrical power needs- there 10 KW satellites- which are currently harvesting solar power. And they are doing because it’s the cheapest way to get electrical power in the space environment. Though in terms global electrical use, the total electrical power needs of satellites is utterly insignificant, it’s insignificant in comparison to any modest size town.
      Btw, it’s possible to run diesel electrical power plant in space- it’s just not economical. And there have been satellites power by nuclear energy- Soviets did this the most. But all commercially developed satellites use solar energy, and vast majority are such commercial satellites.

    • Thank you for the many comments.

      John Plodinec @ September 21, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Excellent summary! However, there is one potential game-changer that R/D might make viable – inexpensive massive storage. Could make solar and wind energy something like dispatchable.

      I strongly doubt there will be breakthrough that could then be developed through to commercially viable in less than several decades at best. We’ve been trying for 200 years. Submarines desperately need better batteries and that hasn’t been achieved. We’ve been trying to find the holy grail to back up renewable energy for at least three decades I’ve been involved.

      Here are the costs and capabilities of the various electricity storage solutions: Pumped hydro provides 99% of global electricity storage. There is no way that will change quickly, IMO.

      Sparrow @ September 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Just keep your propaganda out of Texas.

      “Wind power generation surges in Texas”

      3,500 miles of new transmission are coming online through a $6.8 billion project

      … said Jeff Clark, executive director of the industry group the Wind Coalition.

      Stated by the wind power advocacy group! They are continually trying to put a good spin on wind power. Much of what they say has been refuted and discredited just about every time it is put forward. You need to state the $6.8 billion as a cost per MWh of energy delivered for it to be of any use in a comparison.

      In a state where water is almost as valuable as oil, wind power makes economic sense.

      No it doesn’t. It doesn’t make economic sense virtually anywhere when connected to the grid (El Heirro island is an exception where it competes against diesel generation with high cost imported diesel and they have an unusually ideal pumped hydro site using the crater of a volcano for the upper reservoir and 700 m hydraulic head.
      You start with the cost of the wind energy supply that is unscheduled and not dispatchable (about $100/MWh), add the cost of peak gas generation (around $200/MWh), add the cost of extra transmission capacity and line length (about $20/MWh) and compare this with the cost of conventional power at say $50/MWh. Wind is nowhere near to making economic sense.

      Thermal power stations can be air cooled. It increases the cost of electric ity b y around 5%. So it is a cost issue, not something that would cause you to want to pay 3 to 6 times higher wholesale cost of electricity.

      gbaikie @ September 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      There have been discussions about the viability space based solar power in previous threads and in particular about ‘Stratosolar’ on a thread about a month ago (started here: ). There are many issues and the cost is no where near viable.

      If we want to compare options we need to focus on discussing the key comparators. We need to focus on the economics. We need to compare technology options on the basis of the cost of electricity (and CO2 abatement cost) for total integrated systems that can provide the energy security and reliability we demand. The key comparisons are:

      - total capital costs for a system to meet the requirements ($)
      - cost of electricity (LCOE or LRMC in $/MWh)
      - CO2-eq abatement cost ($/tonne CO2-eq)
      - CO2 emissions intensity (t CO2-eq / MWh)

      You can down load a simple spreadsheet here to see a simple way to do this for comparing technology options:

    • You can’t explain the Texas electrical power system can you? It’s like the bumble-bee, theoretically it shouldn’t be able to fly but it does.
      Where can I find a current study from the commercial electricity production industry or the State of Texas showing that the Texas wind energy system is technically flawed or not competitive with thermoelectric power? While you looking also cite where I can find a grid size air cooled thermoelectric power plant?
      BTW: The new transmission lines are supposed to last at least 100 years so divide the cost by the expected lifetime.

    • Sparrow,

      You didn’t answer my question. Please do that as a first step. What is the cost of the extra transmission system needed to support wind power in ERCOT?

      In the meantime you may find this of interest:
      Why is Wind power so expensive? – an economic analysis

      Kogan Creek is a 750 MW air cooled coal power station in Australia. Any new coal power station built in Australia would likely to be air cooled. There are many throughout the world.

      Here is a new 1 GW plant in China:

      BTW, the amortisation period is just one of many inputs into calculating the LRMC.

    • Peter, why argue with me when the operational Texas wind energy system is my proof it works,
      I’m not an anti-CO2 person. I burn 1.5 tons of firewood every winter.

    • Sparrow,

      I argue with you because you have provided no authoritative evidence to support your assertions and, IMO, they are not credible.

      Most people have beliefs, and many are overconfident in them. They depend on your training, experience, what you read, who you listen to, your ideological persuasion and … what you understand. So far, you’ve provided nothing to suggest you understand much about the subject.

      You have provided no evidence that Texas has made some magic breakthrough that no one else has.

      I could ask you: “Why do you argue with me?”. Would me asking such a question convince you to accept what I say? Have you read the links I’ve provided, understood them and considered them?

    • “gbaikie @ September 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      There have been discussions about the viability space based solar power in previous threads and in particular about ‘Stratosolar’ on a thread about a month ago (started here: ). There are many issues and the cost is no where near viable.”

      Perhaps [perhaps a near certainty] it’s not viable at the present time.
      Same could be said for flying cars and other things.

      But things change.
      Decades ago not every one could have a cell phone.
      And next year, people will probably be flying suborbital.

      For something like Stratosolar, to become viable, perhaps something like this is needed:

      Not just a successful flying prototype, but rather what could follow- decades of an increasing market and the innovation will occur with such increased markets.
      It seems the Soviet Union has helped educate [hit them over the head with a bloody rock] some people about the importance of freedom.

      As for the foreseeable future. It seems unlikely within 10 years.

      But if foreseeable future is extended to 50 years, which think is about as
      far in the future one has some chance of guessing, then it seems to me it’s possible.
      I give it a much higher chance of happening within 50 years as compared to the chance of beginning of the construction of a space elevator.
      One thing, a Stratosolar doesn’t require a material which as strong as that which is needed for space elevator- and if such a material were available it would make many things cheaper- including something like Stratosolar.
      But what other things are going to occur in next 50 years?

      “With specialized equipment, the team drilled into and then lowered the pressure in the undersea methane hydrate reserve, causing the methane and ice to separate. It then piped the natural gas to the surface, the ministry said in a statement.

      The team will continue the trial extraction for about two weeks before analyzing how much gas has been produced, Jogmec said. Japan hopes to make the extraction technology commercially viable in about five years.

      It is unclear how much the tapping of methane hydrate would affect Japan’s emissions or global warming. On one hand, natural gas would provide a cleaner alternative to coal, which still provides Japan with a fifth of its primary energy needs. But new energy sources could also prompt Japan to slow its development of renewable energies or green technologies, hurting its emissions in the long run. Any accidental release of large amounts of methane during the extraction process would also be harmful. ”
      [It's the New York Times, March 12, 2013]:

      State, DOE map plan for methane hydrate testing
      August 14, 2013
      “Barron said the current initiative is aimed at identifying a site outside the existing fields but close enough to take advantage of infrastructure.
      The 11 tracts selected are just north of the Prudhoe field and are unleased. The state has withdrawn the tracts from the upcoming fall North Slope onshore and Beaufort Sea lease sales, Barron said.”

    • Chief Hydrologist

    • Thanks Chief. Excellent overview of ERCOT and the Texas electrical power market.
      Some links to real time Texas grid status:
      My solar array:
      6.7KW, 28 panels/microinverters, Cost: $24,000, Lifetime production from Jan. 2012=17.6 MW, Current electric bill -$176 CREDIT.
      Awards: Biggest Energy Saver contest Grand Prize Winner for 2012, $7,500, 2013 Winner of “Reduce Your Use” contest, $500 and finalist for 2013 Grand Prize of $9,000 (Pending).

    • Sparrow,

      You appear to be dodging the issue. You have not yet addressed the issue of the economics of wind power in TERCOT. That is what my questions was about. My point is that wind power is very expensive – more than twice the cost of conventional, dispatchable power. It is only built because of legislation, regulations and subsidies that strongly favour renewable energy. Without such distortions it would not be built.

      So my question again is: what is the total cost of wind power in ERCOTT in $/MWh? And for comparison what would be the cost of coal and gas generation (in $/MWh) in TERCOT if there was no wind power in the system?

      The total cost includes:
      1. the LCOE of the wind energy itself
      2. the cost of the energy produced by the generators that must back up and fill in for the wind generators
      3. The extra transmission and grid management costs imposed on the system
      4. The additional, but mostly hidden, costs that are transferred onto the dispatchable generators, which must then be passed onto consumers as extra cost of the electricity they generate.

      You also mentioned your solar panels. Have you calculated the real cost of CO2 abatement with residential PV? I can tell you, in sunny Brisbane and Melbourne, the CO2 abatement cost is about $600/tonne CO2. I expect it would be similar in Texas. That’s 100 times the EU carbon price! That highlights how ridiculous are the policies that cause us to implement these renewable schemes.

      So, just to repeat, my question was about the economics of wind energy, not the many other things that the advocates of these completely uneconomic, unreliable generators like to talk about.

    • Peter, If I understand you correctly then your claim is that renewable energy will (almost) never be cost competitive. The only viable economic solution is to just burn stuff to make electricity and assume zero cost for dealing with long term side effects. End of story.
      I think fossil fuels are finite and have undervalued long term negative costs. But that aside, I have one bedrock belief; that the progress of technology and innovation is relentless, exponential and unstoppable. Mankind’s greatest challenge will be controlling our technology so it doesn’t enslave us or inadvertently destroy important parts of the biosphere. DNA is but a self-replicating program, a biological machine that defines all life forms on the planet. Human civilization is the result of technology’s manifest destiny. As the great prophet Dr. Edward Morbius warned us, it’s “Monsters from the Id!”

    • Chief Hydrologist


      I have been trying to access ERCOT for the report mentioned in this article. Can’t seem to..

    • Thank again Chief. The link works but there is a advertisement page you have to click through. Forbes seems to be looking at the same data you found in the Yoytube video. There is a link to the actual source document at ERCOT which I downloaded to read later

      In the Forbes story:
      “ERCOT found that if you use updated wind and solar power characteristics like cost and actual output to reflect real world conditions, rather than the previously used 2006 assumed characteristics, wind and solar are more competitive than natural gas over the next 20 years. In addition to demonstrating the economic viability of renewable energy, these results show two drastically different futures: one in which we rely overwhelmingly on natural gas for our electricity, and one in which we have a diverse portfolio of comparable amounts of renewable energy (which does not use water) and natural gas.
      Finally, one ERCOT statement in particular stands out from this analysis, in direct contradiction to renewable energy opponents who say that renewable energy is too expensive: “the added renewable generation in this sensitivity results in lower market prices in many hours [of the year].” This means that when real-world assumptions are used for our various sources of power, wind and solar are highly competitive with natural gas. In turn, that competition from renewables results in lower power prices and lower water use for Texas.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Hi – I cant download the ERCOT report.

    • Sparrow,

      Peter, If I understand you correctly then your claim is that renewable energy will (almost) never be cost competitive. The only viable economic solution is to just burn stuff to make electricity and assume zero cost for dealing with long term side effects. End of story.

      Your first sentence is a correct interpretation of what I said. The second and third sentences are a strawman. I never said anything of the sort. If you want to know what I’ve said in other comments and posts elsewhere about how we can reduce global GHG emission from fossil fuels please I had two comments on a previous thread that may be a good introduction:

      “If we want to decarbonise the global economy”:

      “Alternative to carbon pricing”

      That’ll be an introduction in two comments. If you want to dig deeper, ask questions or read some of my posts here:

    • Thanks Peter.
      Getting late here but one last post. Just to be clear I don’t worry about CO2 emissions from a GHG perspective. I burn 1 1/2 tons of wood in the winter because it’s legal and it’s cheap. I’ll be dead and gone so what ever I do now is strictly in my own best interest and if a real crisis shows up in 40 years the billionaires can take care of it. So CO2 and GHG are not a factor in my support of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. I made a reference earlier about the cost of water vs. oil but after living under water restrictions for the past 5 years I want to assure you it’s not a joke. Our Ogallala Aquifer accounts for about 90% of the water in all of Texas aquifers. Latest numbers indicate we are pumping out water 5 times faster than it can recharge. Since this is affecting me right now with higher food and water bills and lower water quality I see wind and solar as an offset to fossil fuel’s voracious water consumption.

    • Sparrow,

      I saw your earlier comment that you are not overly concerned about GHG emissions. The reason OI made the point is that reduction of GHG emissions is almost the entire reason for the efforts to justify wind and solar power. But the justification is invalid because they are both a very high cost way to reduce emissions, and can make little if any contribution to cutting global GHG emissions.

      I answered your comment about the cost of water and water restrictions. Australians’ spend much of their life with water restrictions. We know all about it. We grow up with it. I explained that thermal plants can use ‘closed-loop wet cooling’ or air cooling. Both use about 10% to 12% of thee water that is used by once through wet cooling’. Air-cooled increases the cost of electricity by about a 5%. But that is far cheaper than the cost of electricity from wind and solar power.

      I understand the reason you have given – to reduce water consumption in power plants – for supporting wind power in Texas. But in earlier comments you were arguing that wind power is economic in Texas. That is the point I disputed. Your first comment began with:

      Just keep your propaganda out of Texas.
      “Wind power generation surges in Texas”
      3,500 miles of new transmission are coming online through a $6.8 billion project ordered by the Texas Legislature in 2005. And with increased electrical needs in the oil fields around the wind turbines, the bottlenecks are reducing and more electricity is getting to market, said Jeff Clark, executive director of the industry group the Wind Coalition.
      “People are buying this wind and using this wind because it’s the cheapest available power, and the net effect is reduced cost for the provider,” he said.

      The implication that wind power is cheaper than fossil fuels, when all costs are included, is what I dispute. I’ve explained why in the comments at the top of this thread.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Finally managed to download the report from a mirror site. Makes interesting reading. As incentives are rapidly winding back – the mix between new gas and renewables depends primarily on gas prices. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

      ‘The scenarios described above have been developed in order to
      provide potential resources to be included in transmission needs analyses. By developing a range of scenarios, the intent is to define the range of potential future outcomes rather than to predict what will occur.
      In addition to supporting the transmission planning process, the development of these future scenarios and assessing likely resource additions by scenario provides useful information on its own. Perhaps the most notable feature of these scenario results is their similarity:
      natural gas generation and renewables dominate the expansion mix for all of the sensitivities. In sensitivities in which market prices are expected to stay low and no incentives are provided for renewable generation, most or all of the expansion units are fueled by natural gas. In
      scenarios with increasing market prices (due to increased fuel costs, emissions allowance prices, etc.) renewable generation additions are significant. As modeled, the capital costs for pulverized coal, integrated gasification combined cycle, and nuclear units are too high for them
      to be competitive under the future scenarios evaluated.’

      I note that air cooled condensation plants are thought to be far too expensive at current water prices.

    • Peter, thanks for this head-post-by-proxy, which clearly spells out the situation on points which are often raised here and elsewhere, and which are little understood.

    • The IEA defines energy security as:“Energy security refers to the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price.”

      Energy security then must ensure that at every instant generating capacity meets demand, otherwise we have blackouts. Moving from fossil fuels to wind power threatens energy security because it increases the likelihood of a shortfall in supply. Such an event occurred in the UK last December (2012) at 5pm when with peak demand at 56 GW – all of UK ‘s 5000 wind turbines delivered essentially nothing (<0.1GW). Tripling investment in wind power would have essentially made no difference whatsoever. Since then several coal stations have closed and energy security has diminished.

      Solar energy can only be generated during peak daylight hours (in summer) and wind power lies becalmed around 10% of the time. Pumped hydro storage is impossible at the levels needed. Total UK capacity is < 2GW. Ideology is a dangerous thing.

    • Clive said:

      ” Since then several coal stations have closed and energy security has diminished.”

      Where does the UK get its coal from? Certainly less and less from internal sources:

      The current trend is to import wood chips and pellets from the USA:

      That sounds like a winner :(

    • WebHubTelescope.

      There is actually a lot of coal still left in the UK. It’s just much cheaper to buy it from Poland and the US rather than mining it ! Our government introduced a stealth tax to penalize coal power stations called the “Carbon Floor Tax”. Converting DRAX burners to wood-chips is also being fed by subsidies for “biofuels”. If wood is so renewable – how come all the forests in Europe disappeared after we burned them all down ?

      Even more insane are biofuels for transport – bio-diesel from Palm Oil and bio-ethanol from crops.

    • ” clivebest | September 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm |

      There is actually a lot of coal still left in the UK. “

      Define “a lot of”.

      I showed a plot that looked like the end of a playground slide:
      yet the implication is that somehow there remains a lot of coal to be mined in the UK.

      Funny that people say the same thing about anthracite coal in Pennsylvania, that there is a “lot” left. Yet all one has to do is look at the data:

      Are the environmentalists and regulations to be blamed for the decline in this coal production, and not the finite nature of our non-renewable natural resources?

      I do not understand that view just as I can’t understand how someone could say that black is white and up is down.

    • The UK Coal Forum estimated the UK’s underground coal reserves to be about 105 million tons in 2009. One large reason why coal nose-dived at the beginning of the last century was the advent of oil. Coal is now only used for electricity generation. When I was 5 years old living in London every home had coal fire heating. The smog was horrific and tens of thousands died every winter as a result. All civic buildings were caked in thick black soot. No-one would want to go back to that. If the future is going to be electric and hydrogen power, then we need a reliable energy source to generate electricity and split water. There can be only one solution – nuclear fission in the short term and nuclear fusion long term. After all there is no other energy source on planet Earth. The sun is a fusion reactor and geothermal energy is fission decay from a pre-sun supernova.

    • OK, now I understand.

      In the USA we have this resource called oil shale, which is distinct from shale oil. The oil shale is actually a kerogen and not crude oil like shale oil. In any case, the oil shale will take significant amounts of energy to process, resulting in meager net energy return. The wasted processing energy, if derived through combustion of other fossil fuels such as natural gas, or bootstrapped somehow through combustion of the oil shale itself, will contribute huge amounts of additional CO2 beyond that contributed as a result of actual use.

      That is the reason to focus on the GHG theory and what could happen if CO2 gets to 1000 PPM due to combustion of this low-grade sludge.. Hansen, Pierrehumbert, Muller and others do not think that bootstrapping of our fossil fuels will paint a pretty picture.

      That’s also why Hansen is resigned to the fact of supporting nuclear. That’s why King Hubbert of Peak Oil fame was a proponent of nuclear as far back as the 1950′s. They all realized that we were running out of options when it comes to high-grade fossil fuels.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Lomberg was talking about research into green technologies – including nuclear.

      ‘The ultimate solution to climate change, Mr. Lomborg believes, is not increasing the cost of fossil fuels (through cap-and-trade or carbon taxes) but by making alternative energy desirably cheap. He believes this can be done through investing in green energy research using the money the world would save by not implementing economy-killing climate laws. In addition to solar and wind power, Mr. Lomborg supports research into algae biofuel, geoengineering, and nuclear reactors powered by waste.’

      Even with wind and solar – research brings huge potential benefits. It is impossible to argue that organic solar PV or flying wind turbines don’t have potential to cut costs and change the energy dynamic. Or at least have considerable benefit to society.


      There are of course many other technologies under development.

      Storage technologies –

      Fuel cells –

      Fusion –

      Antimatter –

      Fuel from algae –

      Fuel from air –

      This only touches the surface. One of the great challenges this century is the supply of energy to the dark places on the Earth.

      I find it difficult to a dismiss any potential source – or efforts to make it cheaper.


      It is wrong to understate the importance of such developments. Here’s another simple idea with immense potential to save lives, reduce black carbon and power communications.

      It is an error as well to think only in terms of grid power. Liquid fuels and other emissions – black carbon, nitrous oxide, sulphide, tropospheric ozone and CFC’s – are equally important. This shows the need for integrated solutions.

    • Chief, you missed these wacky Canadians.
      General Fusion are hoping for controlled fusion in 2020 and I really like their simple approach.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      As I have said – you have addressed the wrong issues entirely. The point is the promotion of broad ranging investments in energy technology – and certainly not limited to wind and solar. The exclusive focus on wind and solar is too limited a discussion – and misses the point of research entirely.

      There is – btw – no huge difference in using waste in high temperature modular reactors – and burning other sources of enriched nuclear fuel.

      As I have said before – you have neither the knowledge of future markets or future technologies to be be so categorical.

    • Faustino @ September 21, 2013 at 8:11 am

      Thank you

      clivebest several comments starting @ September 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Thank you. We need more contributions like these to explain the realities to people who have little understanding but have been swamped you decades of biased and largely disingenuous material by renewable energy advocates.


      I can’t deal with your comments because you do not use the figures needed for comparisons between technology options: renewables versus other technologies. I’ll repeat the last part of my comment above as it is relevant here too:

      If we want to compare options we need to focus on discussing the key comparators. We need to focus on the economics. We need to compare technology options on the basis of the cost of electricity (and CO2 abatement cost) for total integrated systems that can provide the energy security and reliability we demand. The key comparisons are:
      - total capital costs for a system to meet the requirements ($)
      - cost of electricity (LCOE or LRMC in $/MWh)
      - CO2-eq abatement cost ($/tonne CO2-eq)
      - CO2 emissions intensity (t CO2-eq / MWh)

      You can download a simple spreadsheet here to see a simple way to do this for comparing technology options:

      Chief Hydrologist | September 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you for the link to a quote which states Lomborg “Mr. Lomborg supports research into algae biofuel, geoengineering, and nuclear reactors powered by waste.”

      That’s a long way short of saying he supports rollout of nuclear energy now. I haven’t seen Lomborg say he supports nuclear power now, nor the rapid development of cheap small modular nuclear power plants with near term technologies. Reactors powered by waste are decades away from being commercially viable. I’ve discussed previously and in Section 2 points #5 and #6 and Section 4 ‘Q&A’ Q3 above how long it takes to take prospective technologies from the demonstration stage to commercially viable (i.e. competitive in a undistorted market).

      Regarding the remainder of your thoughts and links, I’ve addressed them in the original comments.

  2. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Posted as a resolution for Climate Etc debate:

    Resolved When assessed by criteria that are rational and historical and objective and quantitative and verifiable, the IPCC5 conclusions are looking impressively solid! And when assessed by similar criteria, The Australian displays stupefying levels of willful ignorance and journalistic incompetence.


    The Australian displays stupefying levels of ignorance/incompetence: “Until recently it ["consensus"] was not a term we associated with science … the Earth was a sphere long before the flat Earth consensus dissipated”

    • PUBMED shows us 4,382 scientific articles specifically associated to the MESH category “consensus”, and

    there never was a Middle Age “consensus” that the earth was flat!

    Statement of the Historical Association

    “The idea that educated men at the time of Columbus believed that the earth was flat, and that this belief was one of the obstacles to be overcome by Columbus before he could get his project sanctioned, remains one of the hardiest errors in teaching.”

    Question  Are there no fact-checkers at The Australian?

    In regard to climate change, it is easy for readers/voters to verify

    focusing upon decadal times-scales is wrong-headed, and

    • there are solid reasons to expect that the surface-temperature ‘pause’ has already ended.

    Question Judith Curry, is it prudent to publish in a forum (The Australian) that so blatantly tolerates egregious errors-of-fact and blatant issue-dodging?

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • John Donne : At the Round Earths Imagin’d Corners

      At the round earth’s imagin’d corners1, blow
      Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise
      From death, you numberlesse infinities
      Of soules, and to your scattred2 bodies goe,
      All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
      All whom warre, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
      Despaire, law, chance, hath slaine, and you whose
      Shall behold God, and never tast deaths woe,
      But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,
      For, if above all these, my sinnes abound,
      ‘Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,
      When wee are there; here on this lowly ground,
      Teach mee how to repent; for that’s as good
      As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.

      Religion is consensus science.

    • +(-1)^0.5

    • pi says to (-1) ^ .5 “Get Real.”
      (-1) ^ .5 to pi “Get Rational.”

    • e says to (-1)^.5 with a shudder, “You are unnatural!”

    • Curious George

      Many thanks to rational and historical and objective and quantitative and verifiable Fan.

  3. Does anybody know what happened to Project Earthshine?

  4. The UN ramps up the conspiracy theories ahead of Stockholm with help from Fiona Harvey of the Guardian: Big business funds effort to discredit climate science, warns UN official.

    Two tweet streams today on the subject:

    1. With Glyn Moody, to whom I introduced McIntyre in July 2010 because of their mutual interest in open science: here

    2. With Jean-Pascal van Ypersele here

    No answer from JP so far :)

  5. The lead authors of the AR 5 are, afterall, individuals, with personal reputations to protect. Could the IPCC implode?

  6. Congratulations are in order to Judith Curry, Jo Nova, and other women scientists and journalists for having the courage to publicly challenge the validity of politically manipulated consensus science !

    Since the very survival of humans depends on access to reliable information about reality, the most puzzling question is why so many leaders of the scientific community remained silent?

    False pride? Greed? Fear? Inability to accept that “A Higher Power controls nature ?

    A recent report in The Guardian suggests that Russian rulers may today still oppose any hint of A Power Higher than Human !

    Russia wants to “up the ante” on the climate poker game – the post-modern (“1984″) form of tyrannical human control:

  7. Paul Farrell, not a scientist, has taken up the Global Warming Colors, and is fighting a valiant battle over at Market Watch. This is the biggest pile of steaming alarmist BS I’ve seen in a good while.

    ” SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — The indictment: “Exxon Mobil continues to look like a finishing school for psychopaths.” A Daily Kos article focuses on CEO Rex Tillerson’s remarks at Exxon Mobil’s annual meeting. If true, it raises disturbing issues for America’s 95 million investors analyzing the world’s biggest company with a $390 billion market cap.

    But are Exxon Mobil and other Big Oil corporations “finishing schools for psychopaths?” If the most powerful growth engine driving America’s economy is run by psychopaths, America’s in deep trouble. We must ask: Is the Big Oil cartel acting in the best interests of America or merely in the short-term interests of shareholders and insiders like Tillerson, who makes $40 million a year? And are they killing our future? ”

  8. I have this image of sprites on my desktop. Every day I look at it and wonder about it.

    A couple of days ago, it struck me that these kind of look like particle tracks. I’ve built a few cloud chambers. And also, the structure reminded me of depictions of cosmic rays. So I googled “sprites cosmic rays” and sure enough, I’m not the first to think this.

    These phenomena are so brief it is difficult to see how they could affect weather or climate, but nature has surprised us before.

    1. Why, in this instance at least, are the upper tracks parallel?
    2. Is the electric field above the cloud so strong that it can affect the path of cosmic rays, primary or secondary?
    3. Is this due to something other than cosmic rays?

  9. “What climate change? Fewer people than EVER believe the world is really warming up
    CLIMATE change scepticism is rapidly increasing in the UK with a FIFTH of people now unconvinced the world’s temperature is changing.
    By: Owen Bennett
    Published: Thu, September 19, 2013

    The number of people who do not believe climate change is real has increased by 400% since 2005

    A report from the UK Energy Research Centre also shows the number of those who resolutely do not believe in climate change has more than quadrupled since 2005.

    The Government funded report shows 19 per cent of people are climate change disbelievers – up from just four per cent in 2005 – while nine per cent did not know.

    The report comes as climate change scientists working on a landmark UN report on climate change are struggling to explain why global warming appears to have slowed down in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising. ”

  10. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Today’s Climate Etc Poetry Corner
    (inspired by Beth, Chief, ed barber, and many!)

    Paradise Lost:
    Decadal Denialism’s Demon of Chaos

    Book 2: The Argument

    Chaos Umpire sits,
    And by decision more imbroiles the fray
    By which he Reigns: next him high Arbiter
    Chance governs all. Into this wilde Abyss,
    The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
    Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
    But all these in thir pregnant causes mixt
    Confus’dly, and which thus must ever fight,
    Unless th’ Almighty Maker them ordain
    His dark materials to create more Worlds.

       — John Milton (1674)

    Here Milton presciently and eloquently reminds us that modern-day “decadal denialism” embodies the short-sighted and chaotically amoral worldview of … the Adversary!

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Finally, the presence of vigorous climate variability presents significant challenges to near-term climate prediction (25, 26), leaving open the possibility of steady or even declining global mean surface temperatures over the next several decades that could present a significant empirical obstacle to the implementation of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (27). However, global warming could likewise suddenly and without any ostensive cause accelerate due to internal variability. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the climate system appears wild, and may continue to hold many surprises if pressed.’

      ‘But probably every age gets, within certain limits, the science it deserves.’ C. S. Lewis

  11. I have one of those really stupid questions?

    What is the smallest scale of processes that affect climate?

    This impinges on the meshing of GCMs.

  12. Thank you for your article in the Australian. It is a conservative paper but the fact that your views are put out there will help counterbalance the torrent of CAGW on our national broadcaster which unfortunately has failed to live up to its charter of giving balance.
    FOMD should be happy with this opening up of discourse.
    I am sure you would have published the same point of view given a chance by the other AUstralian media if they were doing their job.
    I might even buy a copy tomorrow.

  13. The question for the proponents of warming remains. What time frame and degree of change in atmospheric temperatures would make them say a pause is occurring and next cooling down is occurring. Does admitting of these concepts trouble them so greatly that they are unable to concieve of this concept in any iota.
    I am sure most sceptics would be able to give an answer in reverse, the fact that these conditions are not met is what creates scepticism.

  14. This day in history.

    Back in 1938 we had a taste of extreme weather. Of course “superstorm” Sandy was unprecedented, but this one was a pretty fair blow-up:

    New England (1938)
    New England hurricane smashed across Long Island, then bisected New England. Enormous shore damage, extensive forest losses, devastating floods, $306 million damage, 600 plus dead. The storm was the fastest moving of any recorded hurricane – 58 mph. Providence, R.I. under 14 feet of water. Connecticut Rive rose to 35.4 feet at at Hartford, CT — second highest stage ever.

    h/t Accuweather

  15. Since Springer is fighting over the existence of a liquid water greenhouse effect, I figured I would toss him a little back up in the way of Bond albedo versus geometric albedo.

    Feel free to ignore or rework as desired.

    • Cappy, That is not the argument that Springer is applying to support his theory of “liquid GHGs”.

      What you are proposing as nothing to do with a greenhouse effect.

      This is simply electromagnetic radiation theory describing how waves can scatter or reflect off of surfaces leading to the net transfer of energy.

      That dog don’t hunt. Don’t be throwing SpringyBoy any bones.

      I would suggest that both of you guys need to take some remedial physics courses. That is if you are serious, which I kind of doubt — you seem to play this more as a pathetic game of gotcha than anything else. It’s pathetic because arguing physics actually takes some knowledge, which you seem to have a short supply of.

    • Webster, “What you are proposing as nothing to do with a greenhouse effect. ”
      It most certainly does. The greenhouse gas effect doesn’t work without surface radiation and the better oriented that radiation the more effective the GHG effect. When you try to estimate the GHE based on bond albedo you are underestimating the energy available and overestimating the impact of the GHE.

      Of course if you enjoy being off by a factor of two, keep on keeping on :)

    • Cappy,
      That is not a greenhouse effect. I could lay out a sheet of black felt across the surface of the earth and call that a greenhouse effect then.
      Get real …. yawn …

    • Webster, The greenhouse effect is the change in surface temperature due to greenhouse gases. You say it explains the 33C discrepancy, the surface has a temperature/energy of 288K/390Wm-2 where is should only have a temperature of 255K/240Wm-2, the differences 33C and 150Wm-2 are the greenhouse effect produced by greenhouse gases. If you didn’t have a “surface” temperature difference there would not be a greenhouse effect.

      If you cover the Earth with black felt, it would impact the temperature difference which is the greenhouse effect.

      From hyper physics, “The greenhouse effect refers to circumstances where the short wavelengths of visible light from the sun pass through a transparent medium and are absorbed, but the longer wavelengths of the infrared re-radiation from the heated objects are unable to pass through that medium.”

      You are attempting to oversimplify by assuming the greenhouse gas effect is the only greenhouse effect. Greenhouses existed prior to the greenhouse gas effect.

    • captd, why are you trying to conflate albedo effects with the greenhouse effect? Do you understand that these are separate things?

    • JimD, “captd, why are you trying to conflate albedo effects with the greenhouse effect? Do you understand that these are separate things?”

      Albedo determines how much energy enters the greenhouse. There is nothing to conflate. The magnitude of the greenhouse effect is the difference in surface temperature when compared with the energy entering. 240 Wm-2 is due to a Bond albedo estimate of 0.30. Since the ocean are a near perfect black body they produce a geometric albedo of 0.37 or 37%, in other words, the ocean emit more energy directly out from the surface than the overall surface does. If TSI/4 was a one size fits all estimate, there would not be Bond albedo versus geometric albedo.

      You an Webster are conflating a portion of the overall effect, the part due solely to WMGHGs with being the entire effect. It is not. It is a tad more complex.

    • Cappy, You have a high school education and maybe some VoTech.

    • captd, so you can see that the 33 K is the greenhouse effect alone for earth’s actual albedo?

    • JimD, “captd, so you can see that the 33 K is the greenhouse effect alone for earth’s actual albedo?”

      No, the greenhouse effect is nothing more than internal reflection of radiant energy. The greater the total internal reflection the smoother the radiant spectrum. So the greenhouse effect is basically a black body cavity with different degrees of efficiency. The albedo of the oceans determine the efficiency of the oceans, the albedo ot the Atmospheric boundary layer determine the efficiency of that layer then you have the dry gas layer that seals the deal. It is simply a multi-layered problem and you have to consider each significant layer.

      With the current total greenhouse effect, the oceans contribute about 15%, atmospheric water/water vapor/ice about 70% and dry WMGHG about 15% almost exactly what Calladar estimated 75 years ago. Since the 33C assumes a fixed albedo, the range is more like 31C to 35C since the layers interact and react differently to different “forcings”.

    • captd, the 33 C is the difference between the effective temperature radiated to space and the surface temperature. They are different because of the greenhouse effect. You don’t need albedo to attribute this whole difference to the greenhouse effect.

    • JimD, “captd, the 33 C is the difference between the effective temperature radiated to space and the surface temperature. They are different because of the greenhouse effect. You don’t need albedo to attribute this whole difference to the greenhouse effect.”

      We need a cite on that one. The surface absorbs ~135Wm-2 and the atmosphere ~75 Wm-2. That is the basic distribution for the 33C assumption. If the surface absorbs all the 240 or the atmosphere all the 240, the surface temperature would be different. You need the albedo of both layers, surface and atmosphere to determine the distribution of energy.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Effective temperature is for a planet without atmosphere. It is incorrect to say it is 33 degrees – because other factors would change. It is purely hypothetical.

      It has nothing to do with energy emitted to space – which ultimately is temperature related and must equal energy in.

      Getting the fundamentals wrong is a space cadet tell.

    • captd, put it this way. How much of the 33 C do you think is the greenhouse effect, and how much of this warming comes from something else that does not depend on absorption and emission of IR, and what exactly is that, and how much does it do, and cite?

    • Chief, “Effective temperature is for a planet without atmosphere. It is incorrect to say it is 33 degrees – because other factors would change. It is purely hypothetical.”

      That is true, because albedo is not “fixed”. My example was just to show you can get a different surface temperature with the same TOA Ein-Eout.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Put it this way. Albedo varies from 0.2 to 0.8 – or thereabouts. We are near the low end and should revert to mean. Chaotically.

      That’s about 68.2 W/m^2 to 273.6 W/m^2 range.

    • CH, no, the earth has an effective temperature, seen from space, of 255 K, and it has an atmosphere. This is because it radiates in the IR at 240 W/m2. There is no contradiction there.

    • JimD, “captd, put it this way. How much of the 33 C do you think is the greenhouse effect, and how much of this warming comes from something else that does not depend on absorption and emission of IR, and what exactly is that, and how much does it do, and cite?”

      All of the difference between surface energy and TOA is due to some aspect of the greenhouse effect. Some is due to ocean energy absorbed, atmosphere energy absorbed both from SW and LW. The point is 33C is not a fixed value. Just with variation in surface and atmospheric absorption is can vary a degree or two. You can’t escape variability.

      Since variability is inherent to the system, smoothing can destroy useful information. If you consider the Earth Energy budget you have more than one layer to balance. That was the big deal with the Stephens et al budget, they actually balanced the surface and atmosphere with appropriate error ranges since the system is variable.

    • captd, yes it is not fixed. Case in point, it might be rising several degrees in the near future.

    • JimD, “captd, yes it is not fixed. Case in point, it might be rising several degrees in the near future.”

      Or dropping. Variability isn’t one way.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Here is the formula for ‘effective temperature’. It is a calculated value based on no atmosphere. It is not a reality.

      Te = [(1-A)So / 4σ]^1/4

      So is the solar variable and A is albedo.

      The planet has an emission spectra related to temperature. What is measured is outgoing radiant flux. Please show me anywhere where the temperature of the planet is measured from space.

    • CH, the earth has to radiate 240 W/m2 to space for its energy balance. 240 W/m2 is equivalent to a 255 K black body.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Science by assertion is all that you seem capable of Jim. It is a bit sad really.

    • CH, sure, you are free to come up with your own numbers too. These are the ones I see around.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Feel free to come up with your own data.

  16. What kind of natural variability causes the land to warm twice as fast as the ocean for the last 30 years?
    30-year running mean over land (red) and ocean (green) separately shown.
    This is a signature of external forcing because the land has a lower thermal inertia and responds faster. It is exactly what would be expected from the changing forcing from GHGs, for example. It is exactly not what would be expected from ocean internal variability driving anything.

  17. The shortest open thread weekend ever. Things are a buzzing in the climate debates.

  18. We owe Obama SO MUCH!

    “U.S. disability rolls swell in a rough economy
    By Michael A. Fletcher, Published: September 20

    MILLINOCKET, MAINE — The huge mills along the Penobscot River roared virtually nonstop for more than a century, turning the dense Maine forests into paper and lifting the thousands of men who did the hot and often backbreaking work into the middle class.

    But the mills have struggled in recent years, shedding thousands of jobs. Now this area, whose well-paying jobs provided an economic foothold for generations of blue-collar workers, has become a place where an unusually large share of the unemployed are seeking economic shelter on federal disability rolls.

    Between 2000 and 2012, the number of people in Penobscot County receiving Social Security disability benefits skyrocketed, rising from 4,475 to 7,955 — or nearly one in 12 of the county’s adults between the ages of 18 and 64, according to Social Security statistics. ”

    “But the most salient factor in the program’s explosive growth, many economists say, is the difficult job market — particularly for people with few educational credentials.

    “The Social Security disability program has become an economic option for many people,” said John Dorrer, an economist and former acting commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “As a result of the economic downturn, a whole lot of unskilled males 50 and over were bounced out of the labor force.”

    For decades, the number of applicants has almost always increased during economic downturns.

    “The bad economy has coincided with baby boomers hitting the disability-prone years,” said Daniel W. Emery, a disability lawyer in South Portland, Maine. “Most people want to work. But employers are less apt to make accommodations when the economy is down. One thing I always ask people is whether they liked their jobs. Often, people just tear up when you ask them that.”

    Benefits are hardly generous. They average $1,130 a month, and recipients are eligible for Medicare after two years. But with workers without a high school diploma earning a median wage of $471 per week, disability benefits are increasingly attractive for the large share of American workers who have seen both their pay and job options constricted.

    In 2004, nearly one in five male high school dropouts between ages 55 and 64 were in the disability program, according to a paper by economists David Autor and Mark Duggan. That rate was more than double that of high school graduates of the same age in the program and more than five times higher than the 3.7 percent of college graduates of that age who collect disability.”

  19. If you want to take a crack at Chaos Theory, this video might be good. It is basic level but he makes a number of interesting points.

    By Professor Robert Sapolsky.

    He contrasts and compares Chaos and Reductionism.

    At about 1:00:00 he makes the interesting point I’ll try to sum up as best I can:

    Reductive Science (Linear)
    Noise increases
    Beginning of Chaos (Non-Linear)
    End of studying the data as it’s too unreliable for longer time frames

    To paraphrase Sapolsky:
    Linear: Noise is stuff you want to get rid of. To see things more clearly.
    Non-linear: Variability is not noise, it is the system.

    If the above applies to Climate Science, some people seem to be saying, natural variability cancels itself out in the long run. For instance PDO and ENSO changes. In the long run, we can ignore them. But I wonder if that’s really case? Are they attempting to cancel out the very essence of what it is?

  20. There is a piece on WUWT on Arctic sea ice minimum this year. Neven did very poorly in guessing, as did the UK Met. Office.

  21. I was reading a note about energy imbalance, and it seemed the author thought one could take the photons coming in and out of the earth, and get a good sense of the energy imbalance.

    I’m wondering whether any knows whether this is based on the assumption that plant and animal life is in balance. That is, all energy stored in complex molecules is always released by animals? It seems a bit unlikely.

    • Energy from life is stored, in the form of a redox potential between reduced organic matter and oxygen.
      Typically, and over geological time, the amount of organic carbon that is mineralized should match the amount of carbon entering the biosphere from volcanoes; about 0.4 GtC a year.
      This is not a lot in energy terms, but without mineralization of biotic material CO2 levels would constantly rise.
      This also shows that the steady state level of CO2 is a function of volcanic influx and mineralizaion efflux; both must be variable and linked. One would suppose that when CO2 levels are high, mineralization is high and when CO2 is low, mineralization must be low.

    • Thanks, Doc. So that’s a pretty significant conversion rate of Carbon, about 1.2 GtCO2/year.

      “but without mineralization of biotic material CO2 levels would constantly rise”

      I take it this is converting plant matter (or perhaps other matter), and converting it (back) to minerals. Are you suggesting that when C02 levels are high this process increases? Do you have any reason to believe this process occurs at a higher rate directly on C02 (as opposed to indirectly on available organic matter). Anyway, I may be reading what you said wrong.

    • UK post in response to Booker:
      “Electricity Generation – last 24 hours:
      Gas 24%
      Coal 41%
      Nuclear 22%
      Wind 3.5%
      Imports from France 4.6%.
      We could scrap all the wind turbines and subsidies by just installing another cable under the Channel to import nuclear electricity from France.”

    • Read all about it! Reality bites progressive agenda!

  22. AP
    (Not-So)-Green Energy: T. Boone Pickens Dropped From ‘Forbes 400’ Richest Americans List Because Of Wind Investments

    By: Breanna Deutsch (The Daily Caller)

    Businessman T. Boone Pickens was dropped from the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans after losing much of his fortune in the wind farming industry.

    He told the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he had “lost [his] ass in the [wind] business.” He added, “the jobs are in oil and gas.”

    In 2008, Pickens debuted his “Pickens Plan,” which aimed to increase the nation’s use of wind energy and decrease America’s dependence on OPEC oil. With the help of investors he spent 80 million dollars on TV ads to promote his plan and $2 billion on General Electric wind turbines. Pickens hoped that once the wind farm was constructed, it would be the largest in the world.

    • I thought Pickens wanted to migrate to natural gas.

    • That was part of the plan, and that part seems to be working – no thanks to Pickens specifically. It’s the wind part of the plan that’s gone with the wind. At least it was private money that was lost. Public money is being poured down the wind black hole also, I’m sad to say.

    • ed, he couldn’t get an entry visa.

    • Talk about loosing money in the energy market then T-Boone is going to look like an amateur compared to the $45 billion deal put together by some of Wall St. smartest guys. Watch what happens to Energy Future Holdings LLC. later this year when they default on their debt.
      ” Energy Future, formerly TXU Corp, was taken private in 2007 by a consortium including KKR & Co (KKR.N), TPG Capital Management TPG.UL and Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s (GS.N) private equity arm. The $45 billion buyout, the largest-ever leveraged buyout, saddled the company with debt just before a major decline in natural gas prices and energy markets.”
      Who do you think is going to take it in the shorts? Wall St. or the Texas consumers/taxpayers?

  23. Does the rejection of the paper,(which includes authors from skeptical science) for an absence of science in their paper, suggest one should be skeptical of skeptical science?

    First, I do not think the structure of the paper works. The long, didactic introduction is not appropriate for this journal and all the meat of the paper is currently in the appendix which is a strange place for it. Indeed, as currently structured there is no paper in this paper, i.e. there is no actual science (hypothesis, testing of a hypothesis) in the main body. The historical lessons and systemization of error may be scholarship, but not in this (ESD) field and may be more appropriate for a different audience (I’m thinking Physics Today or a philosophy of science journal)

    Spanking here.

  24. “Take, for instance, the sensitive topic of plumber envy. A 1955 AMA report I discovered during research on a book I wrote some years ago lamented physicians’ “consistent preoccupation with their economic insecurity,” including envious comparisons to “what plumbers make for house calls.”

    Flash forward to 1967. Thanks to most patients now enjoying private or public health insurance, doctors’ incomes have improved substantially. The pages of AMN include advertisements for Cadillacs and convention hotels (Miami Beach is “Vacationland USA”). However, one man’s income is another man’s expenses, and complaints about rising medical costs have surged. When AFL-CIO president George Meany joins the chorus of carping, an AMN headline asks, “How about plumbing?””

  25. Time for fun with numbers

    Recent SLR 1mm/yr

    Attribution to ground water mining 0.57mm/yr

    Attribution to glacier melting 0.77mm/yr

    Conclusion: net SLR would be 1.3mm/yr except for steric changes in SLR thus the oceans must be cooling. Good call Kim!

  26. Heh, let’s try to make this world IPCC free(we’ve had quite enough of it lately).

    • That last link from ZeroHedge …

      “CNBC’s Rick Santelli asks the (rhetorical) question that everyone should ask: “[What the Fed minutes said] is, listen, we have to wait for bigger confirmation that the economy is doing better; and for that, we’re going to look at the employment side. [At the same time] we have the fewest people working that can work in 30 years, and all-time-record-high profits for corporations. Now, does that strategy sound rational to you?” It seems, now that Bernanke has seemingly promised that it will really never end, that Santelli’s question will become increasingly critical in this country.”

  27. Global Warming Slowdown Hinders Climate Treaty Effort
    By Alex Morales – Sep 22, 2013 6:00 PM CT

    More than ever, scientists say they’re convinced the Earth’s climate is warming. Yet lawmakers are struggling to do anything about it because the pace of change has unexpectedly slowed.

    The data has caused a United Nations panel to lower predictions of the pace of global temperature increases by 2100, according to draft documents obtained by Bloomberg ahead of publication due on Sept. 27. Still, the most complete assessment of climate science in six years also is likely to conclude that melting ice will make sea levels rise faster than previously projected.

    The findings muddy the picture about how much carbon dioxide output is affecting the climate, giving ammunition to those who doubt the issue needs urgent action. Skeptics have succeeded in “confusing the public,” said Michael Jacobs, who advised the U.K. government on climate policy until 2010. ”

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