Taxonomy of climate/energy policy perspectives

by Planning Engineer

Debates on policy issues around climate and energy often feature opposing sides talking past each other.

One side cries that either we switch to superior clean renewable technologies or we face climatic doom. The other side responds that is there is no problem and we couldn’t fix it anyway. In the debate over climate and energy policy two independent major factors stand out. The first is our understanding around the probability, degree and immediacy of adverse effects from man-made Climate Change. The second factor impacting policy determinations concerns the suitability of today’s various available “clean” energy sources as policy options. Since the policy implications are driven by two major factors there should be at least theoretically four distinct policy perspectives. Unfortunately most debate seems primarily to feature two factions and major policy concerns may get lost in the noise. This essay will provide a framework classifying the potential perspectives and discuss related issues in that context.

Factor 1 Risk of Anthropogenic Climate Change

The first classification is between those holding the perspective that climate change poses clear risks and that immediate action is warranted and those who believe that adverse projections are premature or too extreme. Clearly this is a gross oversimplification that in general should be avoided, however it will be used to speak generally about policy options.

Factor 2 Suitability of Current Renewable Technology to Address Climate Change

Basically we will split perspectives between those who believe a transition from fossil fuel technology can be accomplished without undue difficulty and those who believe that such a transition will be extremely challenging and difficult. Again there are a range of perspectives and complexities in the real world based on understandings around the capabilities and costs of “clean” technology; however the nuances of those concerns will be ignored to develop the basic taxonomy for policy options.

Taxonomy of Perspectives

Using the two factors above, four differing groups emerge as presented in the table below.

Easy/beneficial transition to renewable/clean resources Costly/burdensome transition from Fossil Fuels
Settled-Science, Alarmists ACTION(1) CHALLANGED(2)
Lukewarmers, Delayers, Deniers NURTURE(3) DELAY(4)

 

Policy Implications of the Perspectives

ACTION(1) – Given that climate change poses a serious risk and current technology can avert the risk, action is warranted. Potential policy options would include measures such as forced retirements of coal plants, renewable portfolio standards and other mandatory compliance measures. EPA’s Clean Power Plan emerges from this perspective.

CHALLENGED(2) – Confronting dangerous climate change without good resource options presents policy makers with serious challenges. The difference among perspectives classified within this group may be the most diverse. Policy options include considerations as to major changes in how modern society functions as regards economics and energy consumption. Also included in this grouping would be support for out of the box technology, as exemplified by the Google Engineers’ call for achieving the “impossible” with currently unknown disruptive technologies.

NURTURE(3) – Removing the urgency but recognizing the availability of underutilized beneficial technology, would pit progressive policy options against market approaches and raise questions as to why beneficial technology is not being readily adopted. Policy actions would seek to encourage beneficial change. Renewable portfolio standards would also be an option from this perspective as well as other less compulsory incentives. Policy responses might be to educate and could also include proof of concept, demonstration programs, tax breaks, subsidies, penalties and the like.

DELAY(4) – Recognizing the inadequacy of current “clean” technologies and understanding that there is time to react, allows the benefit of delay and further study. Policy responses from this square would include broader more strategic research on all fronts. Given that internationally efforts have been made from the ACTION(1) perspective, those should be fully evaluated by others and assessed in order to focus on the best alternatives.

Risks if the “Correct” perspective is Unheeded?

If ACTION(1) is correct – In this scenario the worst response would be to DELAY(4). The debates between ACTION(1) and DELAY(4) proposals are the most vociferous. Those minimizing concerns around global warming and those put roadblocks up against adopting change represent serious threats when focus and broad consensus are needed to avert disaster. Cooperative policy efforts to mobilize and bring forward workable mitigation plans would be of prime importance.

Policy perspectives from a CHALLENGED(2) perspective, depending on underlying values, may bring about results competitive with those taken under an ACTION(1) approach. Ignoring that “clean” technology works may be a benefit if your desire is to change society and you prefer non-technological resolutions. Research in new areas may bring about answers which are better than existing “clean” technology, but assuming the ACTION(1) scenario is correct, such policies would represent a bigger gamble.

The Policies springing from an NURTURE (3) approach and also proposals from DELAY(4) could have some near term benefits and would support a response to climate change but at a slower initial pace than optimal. However well-crafted polices from these perspectives could likely provide significant future benefits.

If CHALLENGED(2) is correct – If this were the actual scenario, ACTION(1) may be the worst response. In addition to wasting considerable resources the ACTION(1) focus will limit flexibility and out of the box approaches. As adopted policies based upon inadequate technology fail to address climate problems and create economic and power supply problems we will find ourselves in a much worse position than we are in today.

Policies developed under DELAY(4) or NURTURE(3) perspectives may help in this situation to the extent that they involved research and programs of robust value in the long run.

If NURTURE(3) is correct – This is the best case scenario all around as fears of climate change are exaggerated and “clean” technology works well. Policies providing pressure and incentives to adopt workable “clean” technologies should have far reaching benefits. Policy actions from all of the perspectives have the potential to be beneficial in the long run and while some may be sub-optimal none will likely have significant long lasting negative consequence.

If DELAY(4) is correct – If this scenario is true the worst response is ACTION(1), forcing the adoption of inadequate “clean” technology. The economic and social impacts of costly new inadequate technology and the abandonment of existing resources could have dire consequences. Taking a huge economic hit to retire existing facilities and building inadequate “clean” renewable facilities may leave us weakened such that we lack resources and will when real otherwise addressable risks materialize. The impacts of CHALLENGED(2) based policies may have value if their associated costs have not been extreme and similarly Limited NURTURE(3) policies may be both cheap insurance and of educational value.

Discussion

This framework suggests that given any significant uncertainty as to the risks of climate change or the ability to mitigate change with today’s “clean” technologies we should be very hesitant to adopt over focused and precise policy objectives whose underlying justifications may depart from reality. Ignoring pending climatic tipping points because of a false belief that existing technology is inadequate for the task at hand could lead to unnecessary environmental disaster. Widespread efforts to mandate inadequate technology and abandon existing infrastructure to confront exaggerated environmental problems could cripple economies and tragically delay third world advancement. Perhaps the worst case would be marching rapidly to ineffectually address a very real climate risk with inadequate technology and then having to face the environmental consequences with depleted infrastructure and damaged economies.   Today’s policy debates often seem to overly focus on the either/or when in fact the problem is more multifaceted allowing for a greater range of response. It may be prudent to consider more multipronged strategies for balancing energy needs with climate impacts.

Hopefully, this taxonomy raises many issues for discussion in the comments such as: Why do people clump in the perspectives ACTION(1) or DELAY(4)? Does the framing of debates under an understanding of ACTION(1) versus DELAY(4) push us towards unnecessary polarization?   Following “consensus” science and the understandings of energy “experts” should we expect the CHALLENGED(2) perspective to be dominant? Why isn’t it the major perspective? Might it be easier to argue either ACTION(1) or DELAY(4) against CHALLENGED(2) rather than pairing them in discussions? Should we be as skeptical of climate experts speaking on energy technology as as we are of energy experts speaking on climate? Do both get fair hearings from policy makers and the public? What are the likely risks and consequences from our current policy approaches? Should policy be broad based and have components of each perspective?   Are there other factors that should be used to classify policy perspectives? This piece by necessity used gross oversimplifications, how important do nuanced differences become as we consider clean energy policy?

JC notes:  This is a guest post; as with all guest posts, please keep your comments civil and on topic.

 

312 responses to “Taxonomy of climate/energy policy perspectives

  1. One of the problems with understanding risk is that people can be irrational about risk.
    1) People tend to believe risk is low when they feel in control. Riding a bike is an example. Pedestrians feel quite safe but thousands are killed by cars every year.
    2) Invisible and hard to understand risks are weighted more heavily. This is moreso when the outcome is gruesome. So if you think vaccines will give your kids autism (horrible outcome) and a vaccine works by magic means, it is risky. If you think your food is being poisoned by invisible chemicals, you both don’t have control and the outcome is horrible (being poisoned). Shopping for organic food restores the sense of control.
    3) People in safe, wealthy environments become more fearful of danger compared to those who actually face daily hazards in the third world. They become more risk-averse. Activities like hunting, building your own house, making things, all build confidence that one can overcome adversity. Safe urban jobs do not. The more snow an area sees the less snow matters because everyone learns to deal with it.
    Switching the claim from “global warming” to “climate disruption” works in this context by feeding off the amorphous fear of disruption and trouble. When people are prone to believe in tiny dangers being something worth changing behavior for (organic food, per above) then it is easy to imagine that an undefined future climate disruption is obviously urgent and must immediately be responded to.
    A further complication is that people in conceptual jobs (the media, education, government) have no experience with physics and nature savagely contradicting one’s concepts. Ideas rule for them. But claimed solutions like solar power have very real limitations that good intentions and symbolism can’t overcome.

    • Curious George

      Measles vaccine is a nice illustration. It has risks and benefits. Now measles are spreading again.

    • What if the risk is described gruesomely but is both false and all proposed solutions have unintended consequences which are both certain and worse than the imaginary ‘driver’ risk?

      To be specific, CO2 is harmless, whereas efforts to affect its level are ineffectual and have serious damaging economic effects at all scales of affected economies.

      • Those who fear various environmental threats (GMO foods, species loss, climate change, pesticides) both view the risk in a context-free manner (ie, without statistics and not compared to anything else) and describe it publicly as gruesome and catastrophic. Their fear is genuine, but unfounded. This makes it hard to oppose without seeming like you don’t care about their “feelings”.

      • UN Climate Chief Announces “We Are Remaking The World Economy”

        The United Nation’s climate chief says that reordering the global economy to fight climate change is the “most difficult” task the international body has ever undertaken. Christiana Figueres, who heads up the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters, “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.” Figueres continued, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years–since the industrial revolution.”

        Unkind. I am a Stem Cell researcher and you have a nose growing out of your back. Sorry.

      • Heh, ‘reigning’. Yes, give her the reins, or is she giving them up to the runaway brace?
        ============

      • In our fast paced world of the Hip-O-Drone that we have today, The Fourth Estate, could not be maintained if they we unable to charge you for their ‘Free Press’.

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

        Nothing new under the Sun. You can’t deny it.

    • Craig, the phenomenon you describe is studied in great detail in Daniel kahneman’s wonderful book “thinking fast and slow”. If it’s the one I am thinking of its called “loss aversion”, and it is a very real and well documented and measurable effect.

      • We evolved as humans living in small bands mostly in environments where resources were scarce and life was fragile. Loss was a huge factor in our lives. Now we live in abundance and safety with the emotional wiring from an era of scarcity and danger. But Christianity and faith in Global Warming have loss as a central tenet of the faith. Expulsion from the Garden of Eden based on the acquisition of knowledge and redemption through Jesus, and expulsion from our pre-industrial garden world and redemption through Al Gore. Gore learned a lot in divinity school before he flunked out, like how to be a demigod.

    • > A further complication is that people in conceptual jobs (the media, education, government) have no experience with physics and nature savagely contradicting one’s concepts

      Yep

      Although Govts tend to be in the firing line of attempts to recover from some disaster. A most unfortunate aftermath of this is that detailed reports analysing said disasters are suppressed, or partially suppressed, from the public gaze. This adds (deliberately ?) to pervasive superstitious fear within the populace, which seems to me to contradict exactly the stated aims of such reports

    • There’s no significant CO2-AGW risk. Not only have we had 18 years 3 months no warming according to RSS, the evidence shows NOAA and GOSS data have been fiddled like mad to keep the IPCC scam alive. US Atmospheric Science was poisoned by Carl Sagan who made 4 basic Physics’ mistakes in the 1960s as he developed his media career.

      1. He mistook radiant emittance for real energy flux.

      2.This led him to believe the high surface temperature of Venus was caused Lapse Rate warming and the Enhanced GHE.

      3.To do this, he made a basic mistake in assuming clouds forward scattered SW energy to reach the surface.

      4.He later messed up aerosol optical physics, another reason why present climate modelling fails. The real physics explains Venus’ ~0.75 Albedo.

      Despite data showing he was wrong, Sagan warned the Earth could also go into thermal runaway. Yet if the Enhanced GHE were correct for Earth, 157.5 W/m^2 ‘Clear Sky Atmospheric Greenhouse Factor’ thermalisation would require mean near surface air temperature of 0 deg C. You prove this by a simple S-B equation. Figure 2.5 of Houghton’s ‘Physics of Atmospheres’ shows why there can be no significant surface to air temperature drop.

      Bad US Physics’ teaching from Sagan’s influence continues,.e.g.: http://web.mit.edu/16.unified/www/FALL/thermodynamics/notes/node134.html

      The S-B equation mistake taught here is the cause of the false belief that ‘back radiation’ is real. The next module transposes Emittance for Emissivity, Most US scientists, can’t communicate in standard Physics’ terms. This is why the IPCC has been a major disaster in terms of heat generation.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        2.This led [Sagan] to believe the high surface temperature of Venus was caused Lapse Rate warming and the Enhanced GHE.

        This has nothing to do with Sagan, it is simply why the surface temperature on Venus is around 740 K. This is clear from Venus’s temperature profile which shows a lapse rate in excellent agreement with what theory predicts.

      • Go ask Alice on Planet Clare. She’s with the Emperor of Wyoming.
        ======================

  2. The problem is that the whole debate has been going wrong since some time back in the 70s. Resources are not limited to oil, coal, and gas verses wind and solar. While that was going on, many were busy vilifying nuclear, inadvertently loading the dice for the AGW fears. Then we had a burst of “global warming”, for 20 years which people assumed would continue (and ramp up exponentially)

    This is the reality. Renewable energy is effectively a lie. The cost of all resources is in harvesting them…wind/solar are no different. Solar is currently too expensive. Wind is currently competitive on the surface, but still doesn’t work in reality because all value for energy is in its on-demand nature…and we do not need hours of buffering for wind/solar, we need weeks or months, a prohibitively difficult problem to solve.

    Nuclear is the ONLY clear answer, if the believers truly cared about stopping CO2 emissions, anyway…and fracking is the best short term stop-gap for both producing base load until nuclear is built and for peaking once the nuclear plants were built. Even if someone wants to talk about storage technology, nuclear is still the clear winner because nuclear TRULY only needs hours of buffering…requiring about half the daily difference between base and peak load. The plant would provide something like 75% of needed power and the storage would hold excess energy until peaking was needed.

    Once you realize nuclear is the only reasonable alternative, you’re hit by the reality, renewable energy is a complete waste of time, quite probably for the rest of our lifetimes. Simply put, there is enough nuclear fuel to provide the entire population of the planet at per capita consumption rates of the US for TEN THOUSAND YEARS…wow.

    BTW, a while back I did a little thought experiment…I thought to myself, let’s assume renewables are viable. I started crunching the numbers, then just to make sure I wasn’t missing something, I looked into materials….my god the materials. To provide the world (and remember, the developing world will need energy before we’re done too) with energy from wind power…would take the entire world output of concrete and steel for about 10 years. Solar-thermal is even worse.

    Oh well, this is getting a bit long winded…I’ll cut it off there. As I’ve always said, if the greens cared, they’d be BEGGING for fracking and nuclear power. They don’t care. What they want is a fantasy of wind/solar power that always works

    • WOW! +++++++++++++++++++++ WOW!

    • The Obama administration has approved a couple of “modern design” nuke plant expansions, including two units at the Vogtle plant in Georgia. The Department of Energy is also subsidizing the construction with loans. Nevertheless, the contractors are already behind schedule and the ultimate cost overruns are likely to exceed a billion dollars. Condolences to the local ratepayers if these “incompetency” costs are allowed to be passed on (and they always are, either directly or indirectly).
      This isn’t to say that nuclear is a bad option, despite our inability to settle on a permanent spent-fuel solution. But we need to reexamine the power paradigm that we have accepted since Edison and Westinghouse battled for monopoly control over generation and distribution. IMO any energy policy has to examine “distributed power” generation of all types. And I’m talking about going beyond gas peaker units to include individual neighborhood generation (or even smaller scale). More distributed power generating capacity could avoid significant transmission losses and prevent brownouts from peak load reductions.
      Of course, major changes to energy policy are needed for both the federal and state energy regulatory regimes. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, we are going to remain hostages — either to special interest groups or to profit maximizing utility companies. Both groups have armies of lobbyists, make millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and would love to tell you how to run your life.

      • I, too, see great potential for distributed power, esp. as a way to mitigate disasters. However, we have to admit:
        • It is less efficient than centralized power except during disruptions.
        • If deployed on a wide basis, it would require a huge maintenance infrastructure that I’m not sure we have the people to support.

      • Roger Caiazza

        I second John’s concerns

      • I should note, however, that I think those problems make distributed generation a folly in the making. Remember cogeneration? That was supposed to be the solution 30 years ago. Facilities would be so much better if they co-located an electric generation plant next to their production plant and used the waste heat from the generator in their production. Theory was great but maintenance infrastructure and economics failed to make this a success, in New York anyway. It seems to me that was a similar but simpler approach. Why should the more complicated approach of distributed generation work now?

      • If distributed generation was viable there would be nothing stopping people from doing it right now. It just doesn’t work. Just like wind turbines…there are efficiencies to be found at larger scales. And quite the opposite of your suggestion that it would prevent brown-outs, a more distributed network would actually end up being less stable. Its rather difficult synchronizing the output of thousands of mom-and-pop power companies…and far more difficult to regulate their pollution. (kind of what happened in germany actually)

      • Neighborhood generation? Or smaller? So, power would generated by amateurs without economies of scale? Do you really believe that?

      • We can’t decide whether treadmills or rowing machines best galvanize neighborhood potential, with most efficiency, of course.
        =================

      • If distributed generation was viable there would be nothing stopping people from doing it right now.

        Only somebody blind to technological progress could make such a f00lish statement.

      • Distributed power is out there and growing.

        It matters also how distributed power is defined. Is it
        – a complete continuous power system with the ability to be islanded ie. power a section of the grid by itself.
        – a power system that can only be operated in parallel with the grid (normally waste gas generation).
        – a back up power system that can support it’s section when normal power is lost.

        The technology is here now for all of those. More importantly, this technology is allowing all these scenarios to be cost-effective. Which, of course, is the watchword to determine the success of … well any product in our society.

        We will see more and more of this type power distribution. I’ve designed and commissioned the generator controls and switchgear for all 3 of these types of sites.

    • CO2 emissions from power plants is some 57% of the total. Less than black carbon forcing. Nuclear would go some way to mitigation but is not remotely the whole answer.

      • Nuclear would go some way to mitigation but is not remotely the whole answer.
        Why is it not remotely the total answer? Lets not quibble over 10 or 15%.

      • It happens there is a probable solution that answers all these concerns (cost, control, adequacy of supply). A few million tossed at LPPhysics.com to finish its proof of concept, and then its prototype engineering, should readily result in a global distributed “small fusion” generation capability with no environmental downsides and pricing about 10% of current best real-world alternatives (about 0.3¢/kWh and about 5¢/W generating capacity).

        As a point of reference it has the best results by far compared to all other fusion projects, foreign and domestic.

      • I have been studying the patents of LPP Fusion Inc. to see if I can make sense of it. It seems that the electrolytic plasma pinch approach is not new. They have made big claims. I just can’t figure out why they are not attracting interest from the DOE, who seems solely committed to the tokamak design. I did a report on the Princeton tokamak in high school about 35 years ago. They never made it happen. I like that Lockheed has announced a scheduled practical fusion prototype in five years.

        Another big advantage to LPP’s approach is almost zero radiation exposure or waste due to the reaction of boron and helium being aneutronic (no neutrons). Some little guys are working on ultrasonic cavitation induced fusion. I am sure fusion is the future. Pumping water around with solar collectors is too Madmax.

      • Emissions from electricity are 25% of the forcing.

        Fusion is not all that difficult.

        The problem is getting more energy out than you put in.

        Lerner has a theory that if he can get the plasma core dense enough fusion will occur. But then there are a number of approaches that seem feasible. LPP is my personal favourite – but until it starts pumping out energy we won’t really know.

      • Rob Ellison | February 3, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Reply
        CO2 emissions from power plants is some 57% of the total. Less than black carbon forcing. Nuclear would go some way to mitigation but is not remotely the whole answer.

        1. It isn’t 57%

        2. It isn’t all our doing.

        3. We are a drop in the bucket
        The natural sources are around 210 Gt of carbon per year. Humans are producing around 10 Gt of carbon per year (less than 5%). Pie charting human vs natural CO2 in a pie chart would make whole “CO2 is man’s fault” discussion look like a joke.

        Nuclear would go some way to mitigation but is not remotely the whole answer.
        4. Nuclear is not remotely the whole answer but is locally most of the answer.

        Locating power sources remote from points of use a la renewables is stupid. Nuclear power plants should not be located remotely but near major grid junctions or points of use.

      • CO2 from fossil fuels is some 57% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Black carbon has a bigger forcing. CO2 from electricity generation is even less significant.

        So you propose to mitigate a fraction of the forcing with nuclear? That;s going to work.

        Something like this is easily technically feasible – and solves all of the problematical features of conventional nuclear including waste. You’d distribute in a regional network. Perfect for places that don’t currently have a distribution system.

        http://www.ga.com/energy-multiplier-module

      • Natural emissions seem quite beside the point – btw – if we are changing the ocean/land/atmosphere flux balance Something that seems at least plausible. Changing the atmospheric makeup changes the energy dynamic of the planet – in a dynamically complex system.

        The bottom line is that we are making changes to a complex system with unknowable consequences – that may include warming or cooling surprises. Global warming is by no means guaranteed. The knowable future includes more or less extreme climate shifts every 20 to 30 years. The policy basis can’t therefore be defined by sensitivity – low or high – or any other simplistic prognostication. It can only be characterised as decision making in uncertainty.

        Simplistic prognostications are inevitably arguments from ignorance.

      • Rob Ellison | February 6, 2015 at 3:05 am |
        CO2 from fossil fuels is some 57% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Black carbon has a bigger forcing. CO2 from electricity generation is even less significant.

        So what? Emissions are meaningless if they are absorbed.

        2/3 of the CO2 increase is natural.

        Further – your story line that the fossil fuel emissions are the source of the CO2 increase are contrary to the visible distribution of CO2. The NH emissions appear to be mostly reabsorbed.

        The largest CO2 hot spots are in the Southern Hemisphere. This is consistent with the estimate that 40 Gt/y of sink capacity was burned away in the Southern Hemisphere. The problem isn’t more emissions but less sinking.

        So human emissions are contributing but as a minor player.

      • The question is net flux to the atmosphere. Emissions from soils and tropical vegetation have increased wit temperature – e.g. https://judithcurry.com/2013/06/07/soil-carbon-permanent-pasture-as-an-approach-to-co2-sequestration/

        The increase from tropical veg and soils is about 50% of human emissions over the past few decades. Solubility in oceans is a minor effect.

        The changes are what is significant – not the flux totals which net out to zilch if the atmosphere if the concentrations don’t change much. But they are changing and are exceeding anything seen in the Holcene apparently – and seemingly going higher.

        Your simplistic prognostications notwithstanding. We have little confidence in understanding of the system – but we do know that human emissions have increased to 34.7 billion tons CO2 annually. Approximately. And this is not the entire story by far on emissions of greenhouse gases, black carbon and aerosols.

    • Planning Engineer

      I think from the perspective seeing Nuclear As a workable “clean” option you are on the left side of the table. If you see a climate emergency-you would favor “action” policies pushing nuclear with all deliberate speed. If the climate concerns allows time, you would be more likely to favor “nurturing” policies encouraging the advancement of nuclear as a clean technology. If your view of other clean technologies were pessimistic, of course you would see policies mandating or nurturing their advancement as unwarranted.

      • Mankind’s only hope to avoid Malthusian catastrophe is to win the technology race to develop clean abundant, cheap energy. All other problems, especially ones requiring mega engineering, require lots of energy. At the same time we need to develop closed loop recycling. It’s needed for space colonization as well as saving this planet. Nuclear fusion is the only candidate I see that fits our energy need. Lockheed Martin says they’re close to a prototype reactor. Let’s route for all in this race.

      • At the same time we need to develop closed loop recycling. It’s needed for space colonization as well as saving this planet.

        Actually, digging up fossil carbon, burning it, and dumping it back into the system isclosed loop recycling”. Problem is, the eco-systemic readjustments involved in our sudden (by geologic standards) recycling of old carbon could easily impact our civilization, as well as general genetic diversity.

        Not to mention we’re going to run out of “low-hanging fruit” if we keep it up too long.

      • Seems self-moderating, a little warming a lot of greening. Who could ask for anything more?
        ============

    • ==> ” As I’ve always said, if the greens cared, …

      Indeed. Greens don’t care. I mean actually they do care. They care that as many poor children in Africa starve as quickly as possible.

      • Please, never ever accuse anyone of wanting innocent people to die.

      • No? What about the need to reduce the ‘excess population’? Many Greens feel a 95% culling is warranted.

      • Dr. K, cares so much he wrote something up just for us.

        Back in the old cold days.

    • Hank Zentgraf

      Yes, Neclear is the only clear answer I can see. The high cost to develop is irrelevant as it will be depreciated over hundreds of years. There are a lot of good ideas for safe Neclear but we lost ground when the Green movement attacked the industry. It will take some time, and political will to build up our development capacity. Let’s accelerate this effort now!

    • Great post. Thanks.

  3. What if the terrible truth about global warming is that it really has nothing at all to do with CO2? What if it’s just a hoax and a scare tactic? What if it’s just a belief — like a belief in aliens — real to the believer but nothing anyone can prove or disprove? What if it’s government policy and government is evil? That’s the way is was in Germany, no so long ago.

  4. Wagathon, that was really good!

    What if the terrible truth about global warming is that it really has nothing at all to do with CO2?
    That is the terrible truth!

    What if it’s just a hoax and a scare tactic?
    It really is just a hoax and a scare tactic!

    What if it’s just a belief — like a belief in aliens — real to the believer but nothing anyone can prove or disprove?
    It is just a belief — it is just like a belief in aliens — it is real to the believer but it is easy to disprove.

    Climate Model Output based on the belief does not match real data!

    What if it’s government policy and government is evil?
    It is government policy and government is evil!

    That’s the way is was in Germany, no so long ago.
    That is the way it is here and now!

    There is good in our government and there is evil in our government.

    There is and there always has been good and evil in governments.

    There most likely always be. Some governments are more evil than others.

    Good and evil are relative. Anything that any government does is likely good for some and evil for others. Most of us really don’t want the most good for all, that would be a very high moral. Most of us really do want the most good for ourselves and those we love. I am in that group. I do care more about myself and my family and the other people that I do know and care about and the other people that I do not know but that I know about and still care. These I place ahead of all others.

    Good government is about getting the different people who care about different people together to make life for more of better.

    • Good government is about getting the different people who care about different people together to make life better for the people in their own groups. Or make their best supporters richer. That is how they get elected.

      Good government is good for some and evil for others. That is the way it is.

      You could take the Good out, I am Ok with that, it is what it is.
      Government is good for some and evil for others. That is the way it is.

      They don’t get re-elected again if they don’t do this.
      Lame Ducks can go astray.

      We can pretend we are on a higher moral level and that we care more about all people, but I don’t, and I do not know the percent who do. I do know a few who I really believe may care more about all people, and I do know, at least one, who cares more about the non-human critters than for people.

      I will always be for the people I love and care about above all others.

      I suspect most humans and other animals do follow this same principle.

  5. There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today about the increase fragility of the electrical grid. The issue was, that more Americans and cutting back upon their energy uses, and in particular, electrical energy. Now that doesn’t sound like much of a problem until one realizes that the electric rates are set not only for the utility but to also to support the electrical grid. The more Americans conserve electricity, the less money utilities have to support and maintain the electrical grid.

    If we now turn our attention to the windmill and solar power industry, by their nature, they have to be where the wind mostly blows and the sun mostly shines. Hmmm. The wind and solar farms are dependent upon the electrical grid for transporting energy from where it is produced to where energy is consumed; many many miles and even more kilometers away. At the current local solar energy production rate of 75 cents per kilowatt hour (in my neck of the woods), what will be the consumer’s rate when there are no coal or gas fired electrical plants to share in the cost of maintaining the electrical grid? Egads! Prohibitive is not even in the lexicon for that one.

    As usual, the EPA, and especially our fearless leader and his august energy cabal haven’t thought that far ahead I guess. Reality is a b$tch.

    • Most people don’t realize that commercial property owners have to pay a “peak power” surcharge that subsidizes the rates paid by residential consumers. That’s on top of any peak hour demand charges applied to residential ratepayers. Commercial peak power charges are typically calculated based on a very brief period of the highest consumption during the year but the increased rate can be applied throughout the year. The effective rate per kilowatt hour can be several dollars for your peak demand. The logic behind this system is that somebody has to pay for the typically idle generating capacity that only kicks in for a few days or weeks per year.

      This is why many commercial entities have been experimenting with on-site power generation to practice peak “load shaving” and reduce the annual demand charges. In these situations, installing what appears to be ridiculously high priced per-kilowatt on-site power is actually saving them money. Needless to say, power companies like having captive markets and have been known to block efforts to install on-site “competition”. Common methods include blocking anyone from crossing their rights-of-way to simply refusing to allow you to hook your on-site capacity into the grid. In some states, regs and rules have been changed to force utilities to accept (and sometimes, yes, subsidize) distributed power alternatives to the status quo. But this process, and this debate, is nowhere near finished.

    • Planning Engineer

      RIHoo8 and opluso -Here is one underlying factor tying to both your posts. Charging residences on a kwh basis is a very crude approximation of costs that allows utilities on average to collect their costs. The peak charge coupled with an energy charge is somewhat less crude, but still approximates on average. The most expensive kwh to serve is the first one on peak, because it entails tremendous overhead charges. Way back utilities gave discounts for extra consumption but that was not acceptable for conservation “ethics”. When renewable users count on the utility for backup, they impose tremendous costs. If the system is going to be built so that when an icestorm coats the solar cells (or when the cold weather peak hits ten minutes before sunrise), everyone still gets power it is very expensive. Similarly if conventional has to back up wind on the hottest driest still day – it costs a lot.

      The big battles now are over what is charged for backup service. In many case if it’s low enough alternatives can thrive. But as customers leave it’s not sustainable if the dwindling base has to subsidize making solar a better option until perhaps a death spiral reality forces solar customers to pay the true cost of backup. I

  6. The main question is: why are irrational policies implemented?
    I mean wind mills and solar panels – that are incapable of providing the needed energy or reducing emissions.
    Action may be needed, but it has to be effective, and capable of achieving the desired goals.
    And why are utterly crazy policies implemented – like burning our food (a.k.a bio-fuels)?

    • The main question is: why are irrational policies implemented?

      To give money to rich friends who paid big bucks to get them elected.

      You got something different???????

    • Sorry to disagree with the pope here, (and he is partially right) but the reason for the insanity is the triumph of symbol over substance. Doing engineering is hard. Grandstanding that you are saving the planet with corn ethanot (I think I’ll keep that typo) is easy–just pass a law. If meat prices go through the roof….maybe no one will notice.

  7. Dave Rutledge

    PE,

    Thank you for an interesting post. One may be able to fit individual states’ responses into these categories. I propose

    California, which has great solar resources, as Action,
    Massachusetts, which does not, as Challenge,
    Texas, which has great wind resources and has installed a lot of wind turbines, as Nurture, and
    Alabama, which really needs inexpensive air conditioning for health reasons, as Delay.

    Dave

    • PE, Seconding Dave Rutledge of Caltech. Way back in the early days (alas, my days) of corporate strategy (‘invented’ in the 1970’s), there was the innovative BCG 2X2 growth/ profitability matrix (stars, questions, cash cows, dogs). This is a very similar and equally thought provoking exercise. Bravo. Embarassed that as a former senior BCG partner did not think of it until you pointed it out. Well done. Your simple characterization idea has long policy legs. As DR just pointed out. Really something BIG. Pardon my enthusiasm, but been there done that using an exactly analogous thought tool in an analogous big bucks policy world. Just, wow.

    • There is more variability in energy consumption in US states than is commonly thought. Small energy producing states like Wyoming have incredibly high per capita consumption–quite obviously, while states like New York have enviably low per capita consumption.

      Combining analysis of that plus the variability in fuel source is actually pretty interesting and is something I’m starting to do. Preliminary look here: http://3000quads.com/2015/02/01/internal-variability-in-u-s-energy-consumption/

    • Planning Engineer

      Thanks guys. Looking at Dave’s proposal I’m reminded that many years back when I moved from the Action State of California to one of those sweltering Delay states, my electricity rate was cut in half while at the same time my electric bill more than doubled. Energy policies really do impact people in vary different ways depending on localized factors.

      • Yes, a good post, which may have some substantial impact on policy. But:

        The second factor impacting policy determinations concerns the suitability of today’s various available “clean” energy sources as policy options.

        IMO the greatest divide is between those who can actually perceive the reality of exponential technology improvement (reducing costs, increasing production), and those who can’t really perceive it and dismiss exponential trends as “temporary and short-term”.

        Such a distinction in perception works at an unconscious level to influence intuitive reactions to different option. Just to take an example, the exponential trend in costs and installed base for solar PV stands out to me, so I perceive the current relative costs as one point in a continuum potentially leading to solar power being an order of magnitude cheaper than nuclear.

        Others, who don’t have that perception, simply deny that solar could compare with nuclear because it doesn’t today. Anybody who claims that a technology like solar energy could “never” meet future energy needs because it only provides 1% or so of today’s energy would fit into that class.

        On a policy level, I’d guess that policy-makers who can perceive the implications of exponential trends would be far more open to directing their energies to nurturing R&D for emerging technologies than those who can’t. So, to influence policy, one useful action might be better graphic demonstrations of how and why exponential trends operate; in nature as well as human economic systems.

      • So, to influence policy, one useful action might be better graphic demonstrations of how and why exponential trends operate; in nature as well as human economic systems.

        Hah! I see Tom Fuller’s already taken a shot at it.

      • I’m going to start sellng t-shirts which say:

        “Solar can’t compare with nuclear until we discover a cheaper way to store the energy.”

      • @AK

        > Anybody who claims that a technology like solar energy could “never” meet future energy needs because it only provides 1% or so of today’s energy would fit into that class

        How do you propose to overcome the fact that there is no sunlight for about 50% of the 24 hour cycle ?

        Just answer the question, no Jet Jackson futuristic magic fantasies about improvements in battery storage by orders of magnitude please

        No wonder I despair

      • How do you propose to overcome the fact that there is no sunlight for about 50% of the 24 hour cycle ?

        Read harder!

      • AK, the problem is that the elements to make wind or solar work within our current electric system do not yet exist. The software and hardware to make our grid system work effectively with more than 15% – 30% infiltration do not yet exist. You yourself admit this when you speak of “”IMO the greatest divide is between those who can actually perceive the reality of exponential technology improvement (reducing costs, increasing production), and those who can’t really perceive it and dismiss exponential trends as “temporary and short-term”.””

        The problem is that there are few exponential growth phenomena, and they all hit diminishing returns. It is not known at present if solar or wind or infrastructure will live up to your expectations; it has not happened yet. Solar and wind cost on average 5 times more than natural gas when you take into account infrastructure and grid costs, the last time I checked.

      • The software and hardware to make our grid system work effectively with more than 15% – 30% infiltration do not yet exist.

        Of course they exist. They’re called “pumped hydro”. Granted, the cost of pumped hydro is such today that PV would have to be much closer to zero before the combination is cost-effective. But “much closer to zero” is exactly the sort of thing exponential cost decreases can accomplish.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean that pumped hydro will turn out to be the answer. There are other technologies that will probably become cheaper as they mature. But if they don’t, pumped hydro is there. And when used to balance the daily cycle, the primary cost will be dams. Turkey nest dams on available level land at appropriate elevations, exotic landscape configurations like damable valleys not needed. And turkey nest dams can be built using a subset of existing levee processes and technology. Sandbags. Which can be made much cheaper when economies of scale, automation, and learning curve are allowed to bring down the costs.

        Solar and wind cost on average 5 times more than natural gas when you take into account infrastructure and grid costs, the last time I checked.

        And when was that? Solar PV has been halving in price every 4-5 years on average for decades. It just has to keep up for one more decade from whenever you checked to achieve parity.

        And “when you take into account infrastructure and grid costs” is, effectively, a straw-man argument. Those costs are based on today’s technology, which in turn is chosen based on today’s production volumes. Different technologies have different economies of scale and different learning curve, so any argument based on scaling up current technology is a straw man. And that’s without considering any technology still on the lab bench.

        And another probable straw man: are you considering utility-grade PV? Or are you using the roof-top boondoggle as a straw man? The inversion technology needed for utility-grade PV is maturing as we write, already starting to roll out in Europe. Given the potentially high cost of gas, PV could reasonably achieve penetration without storage up to the point it’s peak output matches typical demand at peak times, which for many venues (e.g. California) are pretty much the same.

      • AK,

        A couple of things;
        1. The risks (flooding) involved with pumped hydro are pretty substantial.
        2. You talk about the cost curve, but as far as I know have not produced one. Costs for solar have been reduced over the years, but I would be surprised if the curve is not trending towards diminishing returns (basically flat and trending flatter) rather than steep and trending steeper or for that matter even linear. Actually looked it up. Found conflicting information. The one with the most current numbers looks like what I expected, though. https://handlemanpost.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/pv-solar-cells-linear-plot.jpg
        The one below shows that, realistically, the module cost can be zero and not meet their goal of $0.06/kwh.

        The above does not seem to include storage. The soft costs and other hardware (both of which are in my mind mature pieces) cost enough to make the goal unreachable without major decreases in these costs which is unlikely. Not sure what numbers you are using, or what goal, or how you are including storage. Note: the soft costs are trending down from 2010 to 2013, and will likely continue to do so, but at a reduced rate each year.

      • The risks (flooding) involved with pumped hydro are pretty substantial.

        Really? For turkey nest dams on level land? Or are you looking at history based/biased on dams built across steep valleys? With level land you don’t need deep volumes of water with consequent high pressures on the dam. Even earthquakes would probably only slop a bunch over, which in dry areas would sink into the soil. And spread out.

        Note: the soft costs are trending down from 2010 to 2013, and will likely continue to do so, but at a reduced rate each year.

        Actually, the few years of your graph are completely consistent with an exponential decrease in “soft costs” with a halving time of 6-7 years. (Of course, they’re also consistent with many other cost scenarios.) Much of “soft costs” are subject to both political changes and learning curve, the two not being independent.

        Inverter technology appears to also be following a similar decline, although it’s hard to tell from the graph. As for “other hardware”, even if it stays level, it’s consistent with 6¢/kWHr. And there’s every chance that it, too, will decrease, as cheaper options become cost effective with economies of scale. I suspect the 2020 goal is a little aggressive, but AFAIK isn’t needed for total solar replacement.

        As for your “at a reduced rate each year.”, you’re looking at costs on a linear scale, and that’s what an exponential decrease looks like: as if it’s “trending flatter”. If you understand how exponential curves work, you’ll see this. If not, try graphing how much you can get for some fixed cost (in inflation-adjusted dollars), then you’ll see the more typical exponential growth curve.

        Not sure what numbers you are using, or what goal, or how you are including storage.

        My numbers are basically integrated from a variety of sources, some of which I’ve linked in previous comments here (Climate, etc., not this post). As for storage, my pessimistic assumptions are based on pumped hydro, with one-way Francis turbines and mass-produced pumps designed to run on intermittent DC power. Thus, by integrating pumped hydro with on-site or nearby solar PV, the costs of inversion are pretty much eliminated.

        I’m assuming a cost-driven roll-out timing, starting with gas turbines (an optimized mix of CCGT and open-cycle), which will later serve as back-up to solar with daily storage. Of course, the approach I laid out here is only a “straw-man proposal”, but could serve to get discussion going, assuming anybody wants to do anything but throw straw-man (and ad hominem) arguments against the whole idea.

        But it does leave time for PV to demonstrate its continued exponential cost decline (if it does), for other current technologies to demonstrate whatever declines they’re going to, and for new, more cost-effective, technology to move from the lab bench to production and mature. If they do. Which IMO they will (in some way), but I agree it shouldn’t be counted on.

        It also leaves time for better investigation into the impacts of all that fossil carbon, so we know whether we even need to eliminate fossil carbon.

      • No, AK. You yourself once again state that the PV would have to be close to zero. That is the area of diminishing returns. That is an exponential increase in cost or advancement for a LINEAR return, but the costs of your proposed systems are going up exponentially. The costs likewise for research tend to go exponential, and the quality control definitely goes to exponential in this region. Engineers refer to it as “hitting the wall.”

        Hydro does not solve this but makes it worse. Dams and their control, maintenance and decrease in volume due to silting are not cheap.

        Once again, the problem is that what you state as available and economic is not. These advancements have not occurred. Your conclusion is falsified. If you want to state that I can’t know the future, well neither can you. You have presented a story about potential. Items that can be built are about capability and opportunity. At present, we do not have the capability of renewables at cheap prices. Your dams are not cheap, nor is there much opportunity. Note that attempting to build a dam just because there is water and a basin does not address the costs that will increase by putting dams in poor locations. These costs make the use of solar or wind less economical and less likely, not more.

        Your level land ignores what has been learned about dams with broad shallow expanses. They drop sediment out. This should not be surprising, this is the principle of how water clarifiers work.The flooding may not be a problem for a few years, but depending on the sediment content, it can occur rapidly. Sediment free rivers are the exception and are generally small such as the “black” rivers through the southern ancient sand beds here in the US. They are short and small. Other rivers that go through either sedimentary or weathered igneous and metamorphic regions generate sediment.

        You talk about “”how and why exponential trends operate; in nature as well as human economic systems.”” You don’t recognize when they can and will hit the wall. Engineers call it the law of diminishing returns.

      • That is an exponential increase in cost or advancement for a LINEAR return, but the costs of your proposed systems are going up exponentially.

        No, they’re going down exponentially.

        Hydro does not solve this but makes it worse. Dams and their control, maintenance and decrease in volume due to silting are not cheap.

        You need to learn the difference between pumped hydro storage and regular hydro-electricity before anything you say will be anything but gobbledegook.

      • Your claim is that they are going down exponentially and this will continue. You state that this is unequivocal. My point and others, there is no reason to believe it will continue, and many reasons not to. But it is belief. It has not happened yet.

        You state:””You need to learn the difference between pumped hydro storage and regular hydro-electricity before anything you say will be anything but gobbledegook.”” But I have looked at pumped hydro and yes the problems I listed are known. The difference you are proposing is what?? If it is small enough to be controlled, it is too small for our society to supply the potential months or transmission losses a national grid needs. Once again these known issues effect cost, which is what I and others keep pointing out. You have not made a coherent argument that these costs can be absorbed, but rather the opposite. You stated that the cost needed to be “”Granted, the cost of pumped hydro is such today that PV would have to be much closer to zero before the combination is cost-effective.”” That simply means what you state agrees with what I and others have pointed out exits today. Your belief for tomorrow, you have to support. Your comment about learning the difference without explaining how to pay for the size or location of your solution. Sure you can build small units almost anywhere. They will not be big enough nor cheap necessarily. But as pointed out “everywhere” is a problem for solar, and “everywhere” is a problem for pumped storage. The problem is cost.

      • But I have looked at pumped hydro and yes the problems I listed are known. The difference you are proposing is what??

        Well, pumped hydro won’t “drop sediment out” if there’s no sediment in the water being pumped into the upper reservoir. It would need to be covered, of course, but that would probably be needed anyway to control evaporation. The cost of floating material to cover it would probably be less than that to seal the bottom.

        Your belief for tomorrow, you have to support.

        Actually, I don’t. My entire thesis is predicated on the assumption that it will. However, in the approach I outlined, phased roll-out would be timed based on continuing cost reductions. If they don’t occur, then some fall-back plan would have to be implemented.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        ianl888: How do you propose to overcome the fact that there is no sunlight for about 50% of the 24 hour cycle? Just answer the question, no Jet Jackson futuristic magic fantasies about improvements in battery storage by orders of magnitude please.

        How is today’s battery technology a problem? Deep-cycle marine batteries cost around $200 per kWh of capacity. For $1000 you can have 5 kWh of overnight energy, more in proportion to your needs.

      • @ianl888…

        How do you propose to overcome the fact that there is no sunlight for about 50% of the 24 hour cycle?

        Just answer the question, no Jet Jackson futuristic magic fantasies about improvements in battery storage by orders of magnitude please.

        Can Methane Act as a Storage Medium for Renewable Energy?

        Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in German have demonstrated a novel method of converting the outputs of biogas facilities into methane. The new type of methanation plant can fit inside a standard shipping container, and could be combined with renewable energy production as a means of storing the excess and intermittent supply that is inherent to wind and solar power. [my bold]

        Flexible Methane Production from Electricity and Bio-mass

        Fluctuating amounts of wind and solar power, for instance, might be stored in the form of the chemical energy carrier methane. Researchers of the KIT and DVGW have now proved that this element of the Energiewende is technically feasible. The DemoSNG pilot plant constructed by the KIT will be used in Sweden for the reliable and efficient production of methane from biomass-based carbon dioxide and variable amounts of hydrogen from green power. [my bold]

        “The variable operation modes were the biggest challenge during development,” says Project Head Siegfried Bajohr of the Engler-Bunte Institute (EBI) of KIT. From the products of a biomass gasification plant, i.e. hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide, the DemoSNG pilot plant directly produces methane and water by means of a nickel catalyst (SNG operation). If green power is available, it is used for electrolysis and the production of additional hydrogen. Then, the volume flow in the plant can be doubled, utilization of carbon from biomass will increase to nearly 100%, and a large amount of usable waste heat will be produced by the catalyst (PtG operation).

        So, this technology could be applied directly to solar power from PV. Add the technology developed by the US Navy for easy removal of CO2 from the ocean, and solar power can be directly converted to methane, which can be fed into existing distribution systems.

        Of course the costs would still have to be brought down considerably. But a great deal of that will come from well-understood economies of scale and learning curve. No “Jet Jackson futuristic magic fantasies” required.

        Anyone denying the effects of economies of scale and learning curve is a denier indeed.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        The new type of methanation plant can fit inside a standard shipping container,

        Jane Jetson may have something to say to George about that. ;)

  8. “The main question is: why are irrational policies implemented?”

    Question: Why do smart people make dumb decisions?

    Answer: They go to the same schools, same professors, live in the same clustered neighborhoods. No differences of opinion. These are facts.

    Richard

    • John Smith (it's my real name)

      so true
      I live amongst them, it’s frightening
      part of our problem may lie in the definition of ‘smart’
      IMO the American education system is nearly a perfect at it’s real purpose…maintaining the social and economic status quo
      properly stated
      why do ‘educated’ people make dumb decisions?
      they aren’t necessarily smart, they are ‘credentialed’
      the peers that do peer review
      the leaders chosen by the party apparatus
      the faux Meritocracy

    • rls

      “… they go to the same schools … live in the same neighborhoods…”

      Yes. In the USA a big sort is happening, and it is not healthy for the nation.

      http://www.thebigsort.com/home.php

  9. Before advising, let scientists develop their science of climate (understandably, in view of the difficulty, they’ve barely peeked); let engineers over-engineer and do so for all eventualities (as happens in confident, durable civilisations); let policy makers assume that climate will change in every conceivable direction (it has, it will).

    If you get a really big climate change, like the one that whacked the Old Kingdom and just about everybody else in 2200 BC, you won’t be controlling it with taxes or policy nuances. Don’t know what to do about a biggie like that, but it’s handy to remember it happened.

    You can’t know what you don’t know, but you can engineer for what you don’t know. If some expert tells you to prepare for flood, don’t forget drought. If you are told to prepare for US heat like 1936 or 2013, don’t forget to prepare for cold – like 1936 or 2013!

    And if a climate boffin tells you snow is something your children will scarcely ever see…

  10. Too much religion (“believe”) here — if the science/engineering won’t support resolving differences in “perspective”, rational people should resist action based on beliefs/faith. In a democratic society, a rational view may lose, but there is no honor in the alternative to rationality.

    Since climate models do not reproduce the actual climate in predictions, the rational view is that climate science isn’t developed well enough for rational policy decisions.

  11. Steven Mosher

    under the table. eating scraps.

    • John Vonderlin

      Steven,
      Right before they run into the backyard to bay at the Moon.

    • We bay at the Moon for the Sun to come up. It always works in the night.
      ============

      • Total emissions from fossil fuels is some 57% of the total – 13% of that comes from land transport.

        So that’s some 0.7W/m2 forcing from stationary plant – neglecting aircraft and ships. Black carbon is 1.1W/m2 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrd.50171/pdf . So the total anthropogenic forcing is 2.8W/m2.

        So electricity generation provides less than 25% of total forcing.

        The fundamental error made by almost everyone is neglecting the elephant in the room.

      • Rob Ellison,

        I wonder if you could tell me how the forcing works at night.

        Or does the forcing only force temperatures to increase during the day when the Sun is shining? It doesn’t seem to work terribly well even during 6 months or so of continuous sunlight in the polar regions, does it?

        The elephant in the room is that the greenhouse effect is specious nonsense. If you want extra warmth after the Sun goes down, turn on a heater, or build a fire, or jump up and down vigorously. These activities generally depend on the oxidation of carbon along the way, so it’s likely CO2 is produced somewhere.

        Foolish people may put the cart before the horse, of course, and think that increased CO2 produces heat, which is, of course, ludicrous.

        Even one of the Warmist priests believes there’s only about one chance in three that 2014 was warmer than 2013. Maybe the so called science of climate is only around one third settled. Does this mean that two out of three people claiming the science is settled are wrong, or are three out of three gullible and hyper suggestible? Or is the Warmist priest totally out of his depth, and desperately trying to hang on to his well paid, but completely irrelevant sinecure?

        The world is definitely starting to wonder. No wonder!

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Oh dear. I was trying to reply to Rob Ellison.

        Obviously, I am in the grip of an attack of triple or even quadruple unscience – according to Rob Ellison, anyway!

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • The greenhouse effect works perfectly well day or night, winter or summer.

        Only incredulous fools doubt it.

      • Rob Ellison,

        Step 2, and Step 5. Photons emitted from surface.

        What effect does this have on the surface temperature –

        1. Rise?
        2. Fall?
        3. Stay the same?

        I say fall.

        You have to say rise, or stay the same, otherwise step 7 does no more than replace some of the photons emitted, and make up for some of the temperature drop which occurs when the surface loses energy by emitting photons.

        Now, when the surface emits energy, is it your contention that the temperature remains the same, but rises when the energy emitted by the surface is reabsorbed?

        This is an example of the miraculous energy creation that is so dear to the Warmists. It doesn’t actually occur, of course, which is why Warmists have to resort to non science and brightly coloured animations and posters.

        And of course, at night, the surface actually cools in response to losing energy – as is right and proper. To a Warmist, the surface is never in darkness, and receives an average energy input continuously. Totally unrealistic, but maybe it’s easier to model.

        You mention that only incredulous fools doubt the miracle of energy creation. You are half right. Incredulous people lack belief. I do not believe in global warming, therefore I am incredulous.

        As to being a fool, you may be right. Even so, CO2 induced global warming is still nonsense, regardless of my foolishness or otherwise.

        Please fell free to remain credulous, if it brings you happiness. Nature doesn’t care, so the globe continues to cool.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • If you uniformly add CO2 to the atmosphere as a step increase – too fast for other changes in the system to have any affect – the atmosphere and surface would uniformly warm.

        Beyond that I am not at all interested. Judith may allow eccentric triple plus unscience to flourish here – I don’t have to play.

      • Rob Ellison,

        You wrote –

        ” If you uniformly add CO2 to the atmosphere as a step increase – too fast for other changes in the system to have any affect – the atmosphere and surface would uniformly warm.”

        What nonsense! Unproven assumptions wrapped up in an unsupported assertion. As somebody said, “If I had some eggs, I could make some ham and eggs, if I had some ham.”

        It doesn’t really matter, does it? If you are concerned about global warming, you might as well worry twice as much. This should make up for my total lack of concern. I thank you in advance for your concern.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • If you add CO2 – there are more photons are captured and more bouncing between atmosphere and surface.

        Only extreme nincompoops fail to understand – and there is certainly no point in accommodating such nonsense in any serious blog. Why it is allowed to persists I am clueless.

      • “…all predictions should be stated as hypotheses” ~Tom Stohlgren and Dan Binkley (Ibid.)

      • Elephants – pie charts – tomato…

        Some 25% of the forcing is electricity generation.

      • That must mean that 75% are not.

      • Rob Ellison,

        You wrote –

        “Only extreme nincompoops fail to understand . . . ”

        I’m not sure whether you consider yourself a complete nincompoop or not, but there does seem to be a failure in your ability to comprehend physics.

        Maybe if you could provide answers to the questions I posed previously, others could gauge our relative levels of understanding. I suppose God created the somewhat dim to make the not quite so dim look good by comparison.

        I’m right. You’re wrong, it appears. If you don’t like my facts, don’t stoop to my level. Live the dream!

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • You are utterly and indubitably wrong Michael Flynn. Answering – or even reading – your questions is to countenance insanity. The likelihood of you getting into the ballpark of scientific rationality is about the same as King Kong getting a knighthood. Let’ call it the King Kong theory of Flynn technical perspicacity.

        Let everyone decide for themselves. The hypothesis is that more CO2 in the atmosphere will warm the planet – all other things being equal.

        Now go away – aren’t you late for group therapy?

      • What is a single legitimate reason is there that explains why Western academia steadfastly refuses to insist on robust model verification and validation in climate science? There are many possible reasons but they’re all bad.

      • Steven Mosher

        the users dont demand it.

        For grins, define ‘verification” for me.
        bet you cant.
        no links.
        use your own words

      • bet you cant?

        There’s a good reason why no one makes important decisions in life based on the results of a mathematical model. We can use our brains, perhaps the most powerful computers in the universe, to weave past experiences, current observations and personal insights into reasonable guesses about our future, understanding full well that many things in life are out of our control and subject to the whims of nature. Our brains tell us we cannot trust climate models that cannot even predict the past. The models cannot hindcast –i.e., we cannot put the data into the models that were made based on the data, to predict what we already know actually happened.

      • The future looks pretty much like the past – extreme.

        http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~dennis/321/Harries_Spectrum_2001.pdf

        The rational policy framework is to use commitments on aid, environment and agriculture in the most effective ways.

        ‘In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals set a few, highly effective targets for the world, e.g. halve the proportion of poor and hungry and reduce childhood mortality by two-thirds. The goals have been a huge success. Now, the UN and the world is to decide which new goals will take over in 2015.

        The UN s Open Working Group has proposed 169 targets. But we need to know which are most effective. Copenhagen Consensus has asked 30+ of the world’s top economists to highlight phenomenal, good, fair and poor targets, weighing up the social, environmental and economic benefits and costs.

        The world will spend $2.5 trillion in development aid from 2015-2030, and these goals will influence a large part of that spending. Making just one target better can do hundreds of billions of dollars worth of good.’

        http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus

        Progress can be made on social, economic and environmental fronts simultaneously – that are as well better ways to mitigate greenhouse gases.

      • Bad Andrew | February 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Reply
        “all other things being equal”

        Ah, The Great AGW Qualifier.

        What other famous specualtions cab we tack this on to?

        CO2 warms – all other things being equal. The corollary is that things are never equal in such a complex system. It implies – however – that we are making changes in a system that shifts unpredictably every 2 to 3 decades. Like it or not – reality doesn’t care.

      • “things are never equal”

        If things are never equal, then why do you tack a thing that never happens on to your speculation?

        Andrew

      •  
        Looking at the link to analysis of the paper in Nature, it is interesting that the Marotzke and Forster paper is so bad, Nic Lewis finds that, while the only valid conclusion they come to is that the GMST [global mean surface temperature] trend over the period [1900 and 2012] is dominated by internal variability, and there is nothing in the analysis that actually establishes that fact and there is nothing else in the analysis that is actually valid as it is all the product of circular reasoning.

      • Bad Andrew | February 5, 2015 at 8:44 am | Reply
        “things are never equal”

        If things are never equal, then why do you tack a thing that never happens on to your speculation?

        Because idjits insist that the fundamental physical mechanisms of greenhouse warming is a speculation

      • Rob,

        “idjits”

        I see that you have once again devolved into speculating AND name calling. So much for science. Yay Warmers.

        Andrew

      • Flynn is a person who seems unable to grasp a conceptual model of simultaneous shortwave down and longwave up. Or that planetary cooling amounts to a hill of irrelevant beans. Andrew is a person who seems to insist that it the fundamental physics of radiative transfer are an idle speculation.

        The global energy equation is:

        d(W&H)/dt = energy in (J/s) – energy out (J/s)

        d(W&H)/dt is the instantaneous rate of change of work & heat.

        d(W&H) = sunlight in – (emitted IR + planet cooling)

        = 342 (J/s) (geometry corrected) – (342 + 0.09) (J/s)

        The numbers implies that there was no planetary warming or cooling – or change in latent heat – in the period. 0.09 is the core and mantle cooling.

        It works precisely as the gif shows. Sunlight warms the planet – which then emits IR. Greenhouse gases resonate with IR photons at specific frequencies.

        This is simply shown in the laboratory. More greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases the number of photons bouncing in all directions around the atmosphere and surface.

        That this ‘scattering’ happens in the atmosphere is shown in ‘snapshots’ of IR emissions to space at different times taken through a narrow aperture .

        http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~dennis/321/Harries_Spectrum_2001.pdf

        Ample evidence for rational players that the essential mechanisms of greenhouse theory are in play at both the laboratory and planetary scales. This is not doubted except by recalcitrant idjits who label anyone who actually understands this quite simple science as ‘warmists’ – and all that seems to imply.

        It is such an utter waste of time to go over these very basic physics again and again to counter fringe lunatic assertions that are simply distractions from scientific and policy discussion on some more rational basis. .

      • From the Book of Warm – Exhortations –

        – Disregard reality. It is an illusion fostered by the Unbelievers.

        – Repeat the sacred Manntra – “It is warming, I tell you. You are an idjit.”

        – Keep repeating until the Unbelievers are vanquished.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Rob Ellison,

        You wrote –

        “d(W&H)/dt = energy in (J/s) – energy out (J/s)”

        – and then made up some figures to presumably demonstrate that the Earth has not cooled in four and a half billion years, does not heat up where the sun shines, and does not cool down at night, resulting in a slow but relentless cooling.

        Bully for you! Claiming the awesome ability of the artificially created average to get rid of all inconvenient reality is a well known Warmist ploy.

        The inability to warm anything merely by surrounding it with CO2 is not accepted by Warmists. Bad luck. Fancy animations, graphs with lots of squiggly lines, and stupid toy computer models of immense uselessness, likewise warm nothing.

        I wonder why you bother bother pushing non existent warming. You admit you are wasting your time promoting the ever more pointless Warmist cause, but I understand you have painted yourself into a corner, so to speak.

        It is interesting to note that you infer that I use Warmist in a perjorative sense, and seem to take offence. I guess you feel that terms such as recalcitrant idjit, denier, delayer, triply unscientific, and so on, supplant the need for producing any actual proof that the globe is indeed warming.

        Further, in light of the fact that CO2 has never been shown to warm anything by itself – except in silly animations, and the fevered brains of Warmists – it might be more appropriate to examine any other mechanism to explain purported global warming. And so on.

        Please feel free to try to offend me. You can’t. You might choose not to respond, as I am sure you don’t want to waste any more more of your valuable time. I can but live in hope.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • It is very bizarre rhetoric to insist that accepting the simple physical radiative properties of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere equate to some ‘warmist’ mantra.

        Yes – adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will result in warming of the atmosphere and surface. If something else causes cooling in complex Earth system at the same same – so be it.

        My opinion is quite a bit more nuanced than it is warming. It seems most probably – driven primarily by the Sun’s UV in modulating northern and southern polar annular modes – and consequently sub-polar oceanic gyres and ocean regimes.

        These oceanic regimes of 20 to 30 years duration in the last hundred create an expectation that the current plateau will persist for 20 to 30 years from 2002. It was predicted by some of us more than a decade ago. Nor is it certain that the next shift will be to yet warmer conditions.

        Nonetheless – the science of complexity suggests that the system is pushed by even small forcings past a threshold where interactions between components result in an abrupt change in climate state. A theory – btw – with immense explanatory power.

        Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events. The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected.

        http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10136&page=1

        Yet we get twits like Flynn cluttering up the space with scientific inanity, specious ideological twaddle and cliche ridden babble.

        Here is where the discourse commenced – https://judithcurry.com/2015/02/03/taxonomy-of-climateenergy-policy-perspectives/#comment-671358 – it should lead in a rational forum to an inquiry as to how to approach policy under uncertainty – and in a broad ranging framework. Not to a very silly forcings don’t work at night assertion – or one that insists that the simplest of physics is speculative and therefore – I presume – not to be taken seriously.

        One can only presume that it is far from a serious forum. .

      • What I wrote btw was:

        The global energy equation is:

        d(W&H)/dt = energy in (J/s) – energy out (J/s)

        d(W&H)/dt is the instantaneous rate of change of work & heat.

        d(W&H)/dt = sunlight in – (emitted IR + planet cooling)

        = 342 (J/s) (geometry corrected) – (342 + 0.09) (J/s)

        The numbers implies that there was no planetary warming or cooling – or change in latent heat – in the period. 0.09 is the core and mantle cooling.

        I should really make a correction – emitted IR plus reflected SW plus planet cooling plus combustion heat plus nuclear power warmth – we usually neglect the minor terms.

        The 0.09 is simply radiated to space constantly – so ‘relentless’ cooling of the core and mantle. But what everyone understands – other than Flynn – is that warming or cooling is the instantaneous rate of change – d(W&H)/dt
        Which is largely determined by changes in TSI, albedo and temperature.

        The incoming energy is simply the incoming solar radiation – measured – projected over a sphere. It is not that difficult. It is certainly not something made up for the hell of it.

        Although my 342J/s is a little outdated.

        These are things the apocryphal 10 year wouldn’t have difficulty with. Why do we need to waste time with such egregious nonsense here ? Ask Judy. Please ask Judy.

      • ;,,, and then made up some figures to presumably demonstrate that the Earth has not cooled in four and a half billion years, does not heat up where the sun shines, and does not cool down at night, resulting in a slow but relentless cooling.,,,; The Oddness of Flynn

        The number for incoming power flux from the Sun is measured – and then projected onto a sphere – some 340W/m2. It is not all that difficult an idea. All that incoming energy has to leave – pretty obviously. We compare that with the 0.09W/m2 flux from beneath the surface of the Earth – which keeps the surface and atmosphere a tiny bit warmer than it would otherwise be. The rate of the power flux changes over geological time frames.

        It is irrelevant – as indeed is night and day to longer term anomalies in ocean and atmosphere energy content.

      • Rob Ellison,

        Unfortunately, it is literally impossible to measure the energy emitted by the Sun which is finally absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, surface and so on.

        I point out that Earth is not a sphere – more of an oblate spheroid – does not proceed in a regular orbit – being subject to a variety of perturbations – and does not rotate regularly about its axis, nor does its axis remain fixedly inclined to the plane of the ecliptic.

        In addition, wavelengths, and hence quantum energy levels, are infinite, varying from infinitely long to infinitely short. Assumptions and rules of thumb may be useful, but are not necessarily rigorously accurate.

        And still the Earth cools, and still the warming powers of CO2 are a figment of the perturbed Warmist mind set.

        But if you say it is not so, then you must proceed on that basis. As usual, I wish you every success.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • The world and cools largely because of net energy variations at top of atmosphere. Energy can’t be measured, the world is not a sphere, energy states are infinite? I suppose TOA doesn’t exist either?

        The greenhouse effect works by resonating with infrared radiation at specific frequencies. The changes in energy levels on adsorption and emission are discrete intervals dependent of the wavelength – the energy quanta of the photon in question according to Planck’s famous quantum equation. The energy states available to a molecule are far from infinite.

        These effects are demonstrated experimentally at both laboratory and planetary scales. Only Flynn and a few eccentrics don’t understand this – and in response Flynn wildly prevaricates with eccentric quibbles and empty ideological twaddle about warmist delusions.

      • Just more stories that we have to be told about the unseen truths about good and evil.

        https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/mind-control-media-brian-williams-fake-science-and-the-reality-egg/

        Brian mistakenly must have hit the pause button and he is truly sad about the whole thing.

      • Because he’s trying to isolate causation. Many causes, many effects, all happening simultaneously. Even if the climate impacts of forcings were completely separable and additive, you would want to know what the effect of each one was if all others were held constant. Just like you know that the more calories you consume, other things being equal, the heavier you are likely to be. I don’t know if this simple point is genuine incomprehension or faux obtuseness, but “other things equal” is an essential element of any statement of cause and effect.

      • “all other things being equal”

        Ah, The Great AGW Qualifier.

        What other famous specualtions cab we tack this on to?

        Andrew

      • Solar works at night

        The wind is always blowing somewhere

        Really useful battery storage is “just around the corner” … and no, we don’t need to mine the resources to manufacture veritable billions of them

      • Yep, threading, she is broke

        That was a reply to Bad Andrew at 1:00pm

      • Well… that isn’t really true.

        During the day GHGs block incoming IR.

        CO2 near the surface is lowest at the peak of the day.

        If CO2 warming was that effective during the day, 2/3rds of the temperature effect wouldn’t occur at night.

      • Using Trenberth’s model, earth gets an average of 480 watts per square meter- 240 directly from the sun and 240 greenhouse back radiation. Break that down into day/night and we get 480 direct from the sun during the day and 240 greenhouse back radiaiton, and 240 greenhouse back radiation during the night. Of course during the day the earth is warming up, but never reaches that 720 watt balacing temperature, druing the night the earth is cooling off but never reaches that 240 watt balancing temperature. Make a model using newton cooling/warming to get a balance. Now plug in an extra 4 watts greenhouse effect. You”ll find that about 2/3 of the additional warming is at night. That’s because temperature is proportional to the 4th root of the wattage flux.

      • Shouldn’t we celebrate the surface temperature record in 2014? It must have helped the planet shed a humongous amount of heat.

      • Does this also mean that most of the warming will be in places that are presently cold, like the poles? I believe that would agree with some of the results that show that the lows are getting warmer whereas the highs are not moving much. It is really different to say that;
        1. Temperatures are going to get warmer on average and more extreme.
        2. Temperatures are going to get warmer on average but less extreme.
        This is a nuance that could make a considerable difference as far as outcomes are concerned.

      • Curious George

        Rob – I am a believer in a greenhouse effect but not in a simplified diagram you are showing. I have an issue with the Point 7: Heated molecules emit radiation. As there are some 2,000 molecules of N2 or O2 for every CO2 molecule, most collisions will be with them. Please tell me what radiation they emit.

      • “Even one of the Warmist priests believes there’s only about one chance in three that 2014 was warmer than 2013.”

        WRONG.

      • Mike Flynn: “Even one of the Warmist priests believes there’s only about one chance in three that 2014 was warmer than 2013.”

        Gavin will be happy as long as we have a possibly warmest year once in a while even if the pause continues. Actually, if it drops sharply that would be classified as dangerous climate change too. I can tell you right now the plan in that event is to blame the excessive fresh water ice sheet melt diluting the thermohaline and interrupting flow. “It’s Man in the forest,” as Bambi would say (and Gavin too,) and those of a mindset we know well.

        Imagine if we were seeing mid-seventeenth century GMT dropping like in LIA. The Mann’s Briffa’s and Jones’ would be all over paleo reconstructions screaming pollution is ending out inter-glacial and sending us prematurely into the next ice age. (A few made a feint at that in 1973 and I remember it.)

      • What is the elephant (I just see pie charts).

      • Rob, the way I see it playing out is that we start displacing coal with natural gas, renewables, and nuclear. Eventually we would displace coal entirely with renewables and nuclear. At some point we will be able to move to an all electrical vehicle fleet displacing emissions from oil.

  12. Steven Mosher

    very useful taxonomy. thanks.

    • I agree fully with you on this. See my response to Dave Rutledge of Caltech above. Planning Engineer’s simple matrix characterization idea could lead to a policy/communications breakthough of great practical utility.

      • I lik PE’s post as well but am struggling to understand how a breakthrough arises given that this is a political fight to the death between the progressive green mafia and the real world. Logic, reason and analysis don’t matter.

        Sorry for the cynicism but the notion of objective debate and rational policy analysis with the likes of Oreskes and the Joshuas of the world just doesn’t seem to be time well spent.

      • Mr. Silbert nails it, again. Pay attention to this guy. He knows something. This matrix thing looks nice, feels nice, but it is going exactly no where.

      • Steven Mosher

        I agree.

      • I belong to the block that knows the settled science-alarmist crowd will not give an inch.

      • I am solidly in block 4 and agree with Don on the alarmist crowd. How can you trust anyone that plays the warmest year game the way it has been played lately? That by itself shows the blatant political nature of the CAGW crowd.

        I studied Meteorology and Oceanography at NYU in the 60’s and currently identify strongly with Richard Lindzen. I would really like to read/listen to an alarmist version of Lindzen. I haven’t been able to find anyone that passes the laugh test? Can anyone point me in the right direction? At NYU I was fortunate to be influenced by faculty that made me think for myself and question everything.

        My perspective on energy is based on 30 years working for ExxonMobil in research, planning and development projects.

      • In reality, there are two blocks. The sanctified evangelical settled-science alarmist crowd are controlling the agenda and they get to decide what block we belong in.

        (1)They are the intellectually and morally superior savior block.

        (2)The rest of us are obstructionist denier disinformer flat-earth Big Oil stooges, who don’t care about the planet or the children.

        They demand immediate drastic action and they have demonstrated that they are willing to be dishonest and nasty to get it. Why would they bother with this matrix stuff? We could try it on the Iranians first.

      • (1) 97%

        (2) 3%

      • “I belong to the block that knows the settled science-alarmist crowd will not give an inch.”

        defining yourself through the mere opposition to others.
        I was a teenager too.

      • Just keepin it real, Steven. Can you name a half dozen pezzonovante from the alarmist crowd who will jump at the chance to play the spin the taxonomy game?

    • Sometimes a great notion…

  13. The sleight of hand that most interventionist policy advocates perpetually use is to pretend that their policies are cost-free. They tell us that the cost of not doing what they advocate is more than doing what they advocate. Or, they tell us that we can have our cake and eat it, i.e. that doing what they want will not adversely affect our ability to do other things.

    In almost every case, these assertions are untrue.

    In your typology (which is quite useful, IMO) the sticking point for many sceptics is that the believers require significant public and private resources to be diverted from other possible uses, or create debt, which just kicks that can down the road.

    There is a myth that there are options which are neutral, but that is simply not the case. All interventionist options have costs, particularly opportunity costs. There may also be non-economic costs, such as restriction of personal freedom and academic freedom.

    I would suggest that the degree of intervention and its costs is a metric that needs to be applied to policy proposals, no matter where they emanate from. If intervention could solve complex problems, the world would be just about perfect by now. But, time and time again interventions fail – which usually gives rise to a call by advocates for doubling down, instead of stepping back and rethinking.

    • Insightful post and comments. Plus lots.
      Just needs Faustino too. Costs of
      renewables we’ve had from Peter Lang.

    • @ Johanna

      “The sleight of hand that most interventionist policy advocates perpetually use is to pretend that their policies are cost-free. ”

      They also pretend that their policies, if implemented, will have measurable efficacy in controlling the climate. Or limiting the ‘Annual Temperature of the Earth’. Or whatever.

      They won’t.

    • John Smith (it's my real name)

      “All interventionist options have costs, particularly opportunity costs. There may also be non-economic costs, such as restriction of personal freedom and academic freedom”

      yeah, been a good while since I’ve noticed that well meaning governmental ‘interventions’ increased my freedom to think and act
      ‘first do no harm’
      how quaint

    • “If intervention could solve complex problems, the world would be just about perfect by now. But, time and time again interventions fail …”

      Those pesky unintended consequences, like horrendous local air pollution caused by people who cut down local trees to burn in their inefficient and incorrectly operated woodstoves to avoid the high cost of electricity due to renewable energy mandates here in liberal environmentalist central California. Here, where approx. 60% voted for Obama, we have “spare the air days” caused by woodsmoke and yet they dislike fracking.

      QED

  14. “Debates on policy issues around climate and energy often feature opposing sides talking past each other.”

    This is true for debates on climate science as well. There seems little engagement and any attempts to do this are put down as ass kissing and too 1960’s and against the “ideal” of having a rigorous debate.

    Hence the head post represents an important step towards finding common ground upon which the debate on climate policy options could be advancing toward a true consensus, instead of the stalemate that we now find ourselves in.

    • Peter, it might be a reasonable basis if all parties were open, inquiring and dedicated to the well-being of present and future generations based on good information and understanding and a rational approach rather than being wedded to entrenched emotional and/or ideological perspectives. But this is not, and will never be, the case.

      • Indeed. Faustino has made it quite clear that only those he agrees with about any variety of politics-related issues are open to inquiry and dedicated to the well-being of present and future generations. Those who disagree with him, he has made it quite clear, are indifferent to the suffering of others as they pursue their self-serving goals.

        I have to admit, Faustino does put an interesting slant on Buddhist philosophy.

      • John Smith (it's my real name)

        Josh
        Since Buddha is not frequenting climate blogs these days
        I will speak for him…
        he recommends non-intervention
        right now and in the future
        :)

    • Agreed Faustino. The taxonomy presented above seems, however, to have the potential for reaching a broad consensus on climate/policy options, notwithstanding the biases we all have.

    • Curious George

      Amazing, how far from the real issue – money – discussions can get. Now let’s legislate minimum percentages of alcohol in fuel, of renewable energy, rout California carbon tax money through an opaque Delaware company, and we are approaching a financial paradise.

    • Looking at the taxonomy again I think rather than 4 discrete cells, we could have a more nuanced representation of policy options whereby the degree of belief in the AGW hypothesis could be on one axis and the degree of belief in the economic feasibility of fossil fuel alternatives on the other axis.

      In this context, the more extreme POV’s would reside in the 4 corners and the more moderate POV’s could be found anywhere about the centre. The most preferred policy option could well end up as a “no regrets” position that optimises costs and benefits for future generations.

      • How would you do that Peter? Get everybody in a room and they choose the location where they will be sitting and doing whatever it is one does in a nuanced matrix? My guess is that the settled-science alarmist crowd would insist on having their fair share of the matrix space. What % do you think they would demand?

      • The whole point of PE’s post seems to be the problem of polarized view points clouding the debate on climate policies. He made the point that little progress has been made to date and the taxonomy has been put forward as a means of choosing one’s preferred climate policy option in a more objective way.

        So its not a question of occupying as much of the matrix space as you want but more a question of each one of us stepping back and re-evaluating one’s own view of the issues rather than just belonging to some tribe or another.

      • Taxonomically and typologically speaking, I don’t do discrete nuance. If I see a warmie head, I boot it.

        It’s the white elephants, you see. When I’m shown a white elephant my toes begin to tingle and I lose all taxonomic perspective.

        Look! Another one!

        http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/2635330/taxpayers-face-wave-generator-removal-bill/

        Bring me a warmie. Now.

      • OK, Peter. My guess is that the 97 percenters won’t play.
        Matrix game fails.

        This kind of thing might come up in a corporate environment where the boss instructs his peeps to hire a matrix consultant and have some kind of retreat at some resort, at stockholder’s expense. They will appreciate the food, the time away from the office, the daliances and report back that it was the greatest retreat they have had all year.

      • I thought that the post was about each reader coming up with a preferred climate policy option. It may well mean that Don and Mosomoso do not believe that anything needs to be done and based on past wasteful and half baked projects, nothing should be done at all. Fine!

        Travelling to different parts of Asia I have seen what having no climate change policies in place can mean to the populations living in the delta areas when the weather turns nasty.

        While I am dubious that CO2 reduction policies are feasible when implemented only in the western economies, there seems much that can be done to improve weather forecasting and that climate policies directed toward this end would be very beneficial.

      • Peter, weather forecasting can always do with some improving. And conservation has already done great things in vulnerable places. So more of that.

        But these climate botherers (full heat or luke) want to send money to financial Neverland on a scoundrel’s promise to plant a tree or shut somebody’s power plant somewhere – or build another white elephant somewhere. And it’s far worse when they keep the promise.

        Their idea of climate science is closing all the windows and concentrating as hard as they can on a computer game called Extrapolation. The bulk of Earth and most of what is beyond the Earth is ignored in the name of “science”. Nothing’s data till they say it’s data. And skeps buy into this by worrying about Pauses and cheering for imminent cooling. (I think you, at least, know what just a bit of global cooling means for the world’s water ration.)

        Nah. I say we go adversarial.

        Bring me the head of Warmie Garcia!

      • Peter,
        The folks in Asia don’t need climate change policies to tell them that the weather get’s nasty for the people living in deltas.

        I will admit that I only glanced over this post, but it seems to me that PE, a wise and kind gentleman, is proposing that this matrix could be helpful in bridging the political divide. As Mosher would say: Wrong.

        How many of the alarmist crowd do you think would dutifully get into their box and play the game? How many of our little trolls do you see clamoring for taxonomy?

      • My respect for Peter’s judgement, and that of PE, is such that I’m happy to think there is some point to the taxonomy exercise. Just not my thing. I’ve never had an abstract thought in my life so I’m probably ill-qualified to be commenting.

        Peter, I was just in one of my white elephant-slaughtering moods, so don’t mind me.

      • No problem Mosomoso. You are always good reading, even when you are venting! I agree that the policies put forward by the warmists have little to commend them but I would really like to see if the sceptics have anything better to offer.

      • Peter,

        Haven’t the skeptics suggested policy approaches that focus on longterm R&D on alternative energy sources and on trying to assure that the science of climate is based on a solid foundation?

        Aren’t the skeptics the ones who are pointing out the consequences of adopting the measures advocated by those in box 1?

        Isn’t it the skeptics that are advocating abandoning the global UN treaty waste of time and focusing more on regional adaption to address issues like the poor people living in river deltas?

        I haven’t heard many serious people suggest that we ignore climate and sit on our fat a$$es doing nothing.

        The problem isn’t that skeptics don’t have a plan. The problem is that the CAGW crowd shouts it down whenever they can and tries to discredit those that propose anything that is not in box 1.

      • Indeed Mark, the sceptics have put up proposals such as those that you referred to but they have not been given sufficient credence by decisionmakers.

        The AGW crowd have certainly increased the decibel level in line with their diminishing voice in government circles but the sceptics need to get better organised to fill in the policy void that seems to have arisen.

  15. One side cries that either we switch to superior clean renewable technologies or we face climatic doom. The other side responds that is there is no problem and we couldn’t fix it anyway.

    1. There are no superior renewable technologies available today.

    2. The levels of atmospheric CO2 projected by the IPCC as possible are outright fraudulent. The 900+ PPM CO2 level projected by the IPCC is a doomsday fantasy.

    3. Fossil fuels or nuclear are currently better choices than renewables.

    4. Fossil fuels won’t always be a better choice than renewables.

    5. No one who is technically competent thinks we will or should be burning vast amounts of fossil fuel in 2100 so the “fuel” for the problem won’t be there.

    6. Superior renewables will include storage and low environmental manufacturing footprint.

    The global warmers want us to stop burning fossil fuels a decade or two ahead of time at enormous cost, requiring massive government interference, impacting personal freedom, with little benefit. CO2 isn’t harmful at the levels we can reasonably drive it to with available reserves.

    • Tax-onomy of animals ( and certain minerals.)

      Warmists like to include
      in their catalogue of doom,
      endangered butterflies, bats
      ‘n birds, though not the ones
      the windmills knock off.
      Warmists like to espouse
      in their tax-onomy-endeavours,
      white elephants as policy ploys,
      wolves as guardians of the sheep,
      show their thanksgiving-turkey-trust
      in the great-green-charismatic-leader,
      and demonstrate their imperviousness
      to black swan surprises, regarding
      cli-sci-certainties -that-the-science-
      is-well-and-truly-settled.’.

    • So, where could all the power come from, if it’s not from burning fossil hydrocarbons?

      Note: This is not an exhaustive list – please add any I may have misssed

      First off, there’s the ocean, which is a good potential source of power:
      There’s simple kinetic extraction via turbines, ducks, snakes and worms etc, which are all good. There’s osmotic power using the difference in salinity between sea water and fresh water and there’s also thermocline power generation, which uses the difference in temperature between warm surface water and the deep ocean to generate power.

      If you’ve got a good Tidal displacement, then there’s tidal power too, this is very good as it’s predictable, and the grid likes predictable :-)

      There’s also geothermic, there’s been some problems with associated micro (i.e. small) earthquakes, but providing you’re okay with that possibility and your geology/geography is suitable then it may be a very good bet. Iceland, is the posterboy for geothermal.

      Then There’s Hydro-Electric: Again this is highly dependent on your geography, with some knock on water availability issues for those down stream of the dam and flooding issues for the displaced people on the other side of it ;-)

      After that you’ve got solar power: The most abundant source of power that we’ve got, it literally powers everything around us after all. Current technologies suffer from some efficiency problems, cost of manufacture problems and some of the manufacturing techniques require the rare earth element indium to make the transparent electrodes, which is unfortunately in short supply – You can thank all our LCD panel TV’s, tablets and smart phones for that.

      Then there are infrared solar cells (potentially uber-cool nanotech stuff – previously stimied by band gap issues), which could be very promising and would even work in the dark (woo…hoo…yippee) – think very high-tech thermo couple – Waste heat…. what waste heat :-)

      And for when the all the money truly runs out then there’s the always cheap and cheerful dye sensitized ones.

      There are also algal bio-reactors, which have had some problems in the past, but are supposedly getting much greener (forgive the pun) and much more efficient now.

      Other than that, you’re looking at solar collectors/concentrators/solar furnace sort of things. Again, these can be good, but they require quite a bit of sunny land somewhere (time to by up all that cheap desert).

      There’s also been some interesting recent work done on simply using sunlight with an inorganic catalyst, to split hydrogen and oxygen out of water. Again, essentially free stuff, just add sunlight and water, for a fuel you can to take away and burn/feed to a fuel cell in a location of your choice. Early cells suffered from bleaching and poor long-term efficiency issues.
      Finally, there’s Nuclear Power – The only real medium term solution:
      There’s Fission: There are many varieties of this, lots of different fission reactor types and different fuels, but the main fuel choices are Uranium, Plutonium or Thorium.

      My personal favourite’s Thorium, just because there’s a lot more of it than Uranium – There are all sorts of plusses/minuses for all of these fule types, mostly waste product related and there’s also various treaties and agreements tied up with them that would need addressing if the whole world is to go nuclear, non-proliferation etc etc.

      Then there’s Nuclear Fusion (The Holy Grail of Power Generation): Fusion also comes in a number of varieties there’s laser based fusion, tokamaks, spherical tokamaks and the z-pinch

      Plus now there’s the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works who are promising to deliver a fully functional protoype Compact Fusion Reactor within 10 years.

      After that fusionwise, you’re into the slightly “wackier” possibly fraudulent realms of cold fusion, bubble fusion (sonoluminescence) or perhaps even the odd roll of sticky tape (triboluminescence) – This Last one’s not really fusion, but something a tad funny is going on if you can use it as a low level x-ray source ;-)

      Oh, on top of all that power generation stuff you’ve got useful things like DC supergrids that would help by reducing power transmission losses and even room temperature or near room temperature super conductors to look into.

      Note: I didn’t mention wind, but I really don’t think that it’s a practical way of generating power and I do quite like birds……….

      • Check out LPP Fusion. It’s not cold fusion but it is one of the weird ones (but with huge potential). In their north Jersey labs they are creating fusion by kind of like restricting a lighting bolt through a pin hole. They have reached temperatures many times greater than the core of the Sun. They have made 1000-fold progress on confinement but need a 1000-fold improvement again to attain the needed density for self-sustaining reaction. The reaction is between boron and helium which creates only 0.1% of the neutrons that deuterium-tritium fusion does and thus there does not need to be a containment building steam turbine, etc… The flow of plasma produces it’s own electricity directly by it’s magnetic field flux, similar to an electric dynamo. Produces no nuke waste.

      • LPP Fusion Inc. says it produces the electricity using the same physics as a particle accelerator but in reverse, charged particles induce the magnetic field flux.

    • Blunderbunny | February 4, 2015 at 8:38 am | Reply
      So, where could all the power come from, if it’s not from burning fossil hydrocarbons?

      Note: This is not an exhaustive list – please add any I may have misssed

      First off, there’s the ocean, which is a good potential source of power:
      There’s simple kinetic extraction via turbines, ducks, snakes and worms etc, which are all good. There’s osmotic power using the difference in salinity between sea water and fresh water and there’s also thermocline power generation, which uses the difference in temperature between warm surface water and the deep ocean to generate power.

      Green advocates always amaze me. There are a number of green delusions that guide their thinking:

      1. CO2 is bad.
      2. If it doesn’t emit while generating power it is a clean technology.
      3. A “clean” system that requires 10+ times the scarce raw materials (steels, raw earths, various other metals and alloy additives) and generates more pollution to produce is superior to a fossil fuel plant.
      4. Bird killing and fish killing by rotary mechanical to electrical converters and animal toasting by solar plants doesn’t happen.
      5. Putting out square miles of jet black material doesn’t warm the planet.
      6. Enormous expense for marginal improvement is smart.
      7. All watts are created equal and 2 Megawatts of renewable = 2 megawatts of dispatchable power.
      8. The pause has no impact on the urgency of global warming.

      The fixed O&M for renewables is significantly higher than the O&M for other energy and seems to be underestimated.

      The high transport and extraction costs of fossil fuels make them an easy target for alternative technologies that don’t use scarce or toxic elements.

      We just haven’t got the alternative technologies in place yet.

      Osmosis, thermocline, etc are worth investigating – but what does the physical plant look like?

      Currently nuclear is the best clean option. We should go nuclear until renewable and battery technologies advance to where they justify use.

      Current wind systems uses a lot of resources. Solar is fairly toxic to produce. Both require a lot of land – and making them more efficient would reduce that.

  16. Matthew R Marler

    The other side responds that is there is no problem and we couldn’t fix it anyway.

    Where do you get that? Lots of critics point to specific, sometimes widely recognized (i.e. in peer-reviewed literature), gaps in the knowledge.

  17. PE –

    Three perspectives that might be interesting to locate on your matrix:

    1) http://tinyurl.com/l3doewb

    2) http://tinyurl.com/npqrmet

    3) http://tinyurl.com/mjvmkr9

    • Planning Engineer

      Joshua – I’m thinking #2 is definitely a “challenged” perspective and #1 as well. How about you? The Pope, I don’t know. I’d suspect he comes from action, but to me the reference seems to tie his call to global action with social changes (like reducing the population) which are also challenge measures. I tried to leave my preferences out in describing the taxonomy, but I admire the challenge perspectives over action to the degree that they more honestly seem to recognize tradeoffs and attempt to grapple with reality.

      • PE –

        I agree about #’s 1 and 2. I posed the question to make the point that I think that “skeptics” are likely to assume that everyone they don’t identify as a “skeptic” must necessarily be excluded from the “challenged” perspective. I, too, find the “challenged” perspective more compatible with my own, because of the recognition of looking at tradeoffs.

        I asked about #3 as a kind of throw-away…to make the point that I’m not sure that the matrix, even with your caveats about how it wasn’t meant to be exhaustive, perhaps misses the tone of the existing taxonomy of perspectives – not w/r/t the Pope, but w/r/t the perspective of Tim Ball and the many comments, where the main focus seems to me to be more on identity battles than perspectives on fossil fuels (and, of course, similar identity-focus exists on the other side of the great climate change divide).

      • Planning Engineer

        Didn’t get you on #3 at first. From my reading on this instance I don’t see Tim Ball as concerning himself with any policy perspective as much as seeking to confront and dismiss the motivations of some who are driving the Action perspective and perhaps call into question the policy outcomes driving their agenda. i guess at one level that implicitly supports a “do nothing” or delay approach.

      • My feeling is that the bulk of the participants in the active on-line discussion spend most of their energy arguing that no meaningful tradeoffs exist. It would be a mistake, however, to think that those involved in the active on-line discussion are a representative sampling.

        I’d say that more largely, the complexity of the tradeoffs, and the degree of polarization associated with tradeoffs, makes the question at hand seem overwhelming and intractable. I see two possible ways forward – (1) the kind of careful analysis you are advocating for (yes, I saw that you were trying to underplay your preferences, but knowing your perspective beforehand made it impossible no not find some signals) – which I consider as an element of a larger process of “scenario planning,” or, (2) “delay” until such time that any meaningful amount of uncertainty has been wrung out of the debate (either because a lack of climate change or unambiguous and overwhelming climate change). (1) is exceedingly difficult to achieve – particularly in a polarized context, and (2) may result in us trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

      • It would be a mistake, however, to think that those involved in the active on-line discussion are a representative sampling.

        I tend to agree: I suspect that “those involved in the active on-line discussion” are self-selected, in the sense that the vast majority of those capable of actually perceiving exponential effects go leave in disgust.

        I see two possible ways forward – […]

        What I see is yet another who (presumably tacitly) believes “that no meaningful tradeoffs exist.” For instance, there are approaches that could provide massive cheap energy today, while setting the stage for future elimination of fossil fuels, and even substantial remediation, if it turns out to be necessary.

        Do we need to spend a long time over-analyzing the problem? IMO no. Even if solar doesn’t continue its exponential cost reductions, we have nuclear waiting in the wings as a fall-back option. Much more expensive, but still cost-effective.

      • ==> “What I see is yet another who (presumably tacitly) believes “that no meaningful tradeoffs exist.”

        Couldn’t quite tell if that was meant to characterize my view. If it was, it wasn’t correct. I think that meaninful tradeoffs exist – and that the useful discussion w/r/t those tradeoffs – in parallel with meaningful synergies and common interests. That’s why I think that meaningful progress will only take place – if it is to happen before the passage of time and subsquent climate change or lack of climate change – it will happen through stakeholder dialog. Unfortunately, my magic 8-Ball says “outlook not good” when I ask it if meaningful stakeholder dialog is going to take place.

      • Joshua

        ” Tim Ball and the many comments, where the main focus seems to me to be more on identity battles ”

        1. ASK BALL. seriously.
        2. Don’t imagine that a good taxonomy need to be complete
        there will be dogs under the table eating scraps

      • That’s why I think that meaningful progress will only take place – […]

        Personally I think meaningful progress is already happening. And should be encouraged.

        And personally I regard “meaningful stakeholder dialog” as a code word for setting up some sort of soviet/committee that can be subverted the way Len1n did.

      • ==>> “1. ASK BALL. seriously.
        2. Don’t imagine that a good taxonomy need to be complete
        there will be dogs under the table eating scraps”

        1. Given what I’ve read of his stuff in the past, i see no reason to solicit his opinion.

        2. I’m not suggesting that the taxonomy has to be complete, only saying that it is sub-optimal to leave out commonly found perspectives.

      • AK –

        ==> “And personally I regard “meaningful stakeholder dialog” as a code word for setting up some sort of soviet/committee that can be subverted the way Len1n did.”

        Heh.

        Keep making sure to check under your bed, nightly, for those commies. One of these days you’ll find one. Although you might have to go to an alternative universe to do so.

      • @Joshua…

        “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

        George Santayana

      • While I’m at it:

        Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

      • Profound skepticism is favorable to conventions, because it doubts that the criticism of conventions is any truer than they are.

        That one should appeal to you, Joshua.

  18. Bevan Dockery

    I see no mention of the 368 locations on the web site for the World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases which each contain files of past atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Taken together with 36 years of satellite temperature measurements these give us a clear insight into what has actually been happening in the Earth’s atmosphere.

    My analysis of data from selected sites has, to date, revealed that both the monthly and annual changes in each of the CO2 concentration and the satellite lower tropospheric temperature generate insignificant correlation coefficients with a high probability that the coefficients are zero.

    An example is the data from the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The correlation between the monthly CO2 change and the monthly temperature change was 0.02 with 64% probability that the value could be zero. The correlation between the annual CO2 change and the annual temperature change was 0.11 with 2% probability that the value could be zero. The Tropics Land satellite lower tropospheric temperature data from University of Alabama, Huntsville, was used for these calculations.

    Hence there is clearly no causal relationship between changes in CO2 concentration and satellite lower tropospheric temperature. CO2 does not cause global warming.

    Supporting evidence is the fact that the Antarctic experienced its greatest extent of ice cover on 22 September 2014 in 36 years of satellite measurement. The NOAA/ESRA South Pole station has recorded CO2 concentration increasing at the rate of 1.67 ppm per annum while the satellite lower tropospheric temperature for the South Polar region showed a drop in temperature at the rate of 0.00014 degrees C per annum although not statistically different from zero.

    The rate of increase in CO2 concentration was the same as that at the Alert station in Northern Canada yet the nearby Baffin Bay showed the greatest rate of increase in temperature for the whole period of satellite recording. Obviously changes in satellite temperature across the globe have nothing to do with changes in CO2 concentration.

    However the analysis has revealed that there is a high correlation between the annual average temperature and the annual change in CO2. At Mauna Loa this was 0.69 with negligible probability that the correlation is zero. Clearly the temperature level drives the rate of change in the CO2 concentration.

    To conclude, the natural rise in temperature since the Little Ice Age has most likely caused the generation of the increased atmospheric CO2 concentration over the past 200 years. This explains why the CO2 concentration has been increasing at its greatest rate for the past decade while the temperature has remained unchanged. It also explains why CO2 concentration lags temperature as the rate of increase in CO2 does not fall to zero until the temperature has reached a critical low point, that is, the CO2 concentration continues to rise while the temperature is falling but at an ever decreasing rate.

  19. Just a quick but OT note. Oil has been undergoing a short squeeze. WTI is up 7% today. However, the year-out contango is still about $10. This will keep downward pressure on the price. This is probably a dead-cat bounce.

    2/3/15
    OIL______52.09
    BRENT____57.40
    NAT GAS___2.77
    RBOB GAS__1.583

    • Jim2, I ran my model, read over a couple of blogs, talked to my investment advisor, and decided to bet the oil price hit bottom, the purchases executed on January 28th and 29th.

      My investment advisor goes by his firms’ guidance. On the other hand I have been looking at rig counts and the budget cuts Im hearing about, with focus on Texas and North Dakota. This was a risky move, but as you know I’m pretty convinced we are running out of oil. I can’t say for sure, but it could be we are never going to reach 80 million barrels of oil per day of real crude oil and condensate.

      So either we are peaking or we may peak within the next 10 years. We’re going to need syncrude from the heavy oil to cover the gap, or something has to be developed in a big way to cover demand.

  20. The feasibility of the ACTION box depends on time scales assigned. For example, we might aim to reduce global CO2 emissions by 75% in 50 years. It is not possible with today’s technology, but a lot can developed in 50 years with this goal in mind. You have to have both targets and timelines, otherwise you get into the box that if it can’t be done tomorrow don’t even try which makes no sense at all. So ACTION includes encouraging the long-term development of new energy technologies, not just what can be replaced tomorrow.

    • Planning Engineer

      Good point, there is prudent action that incorporates some delay that should be expected to provide more benefits then knee jerk seat of the pants do it all now as quickly as possible approaches.

      • Well, “ACTION” – as far as time frame is concerned – means what has already been done: hundreds of thousands of wind mills, millions of solar panels – 350 BILLION $ being spent annually – with the result achieved in emission reductions: negligible to null.

  21. Stephen Segrest

    Planning Engineer — I would make 3 changes.

    (1) I’d have 2 Tables, one each for Developed and Developing Countries.

    (2) I’d change “fossil fuels” to be coal and “clean” to be just about everything else (e.g., solar, wind, nuclear, natural gas).

    (3) I’d change the term “immediacy” to mean the trajectory of Worldwide CO2 ppm.

    In assessing total risk, I would: (A) include the following emissions together: mercury, particulates, smog AND GHGs; (B) define “costly/burdensome” to also include the cost of continued high poverty in Developing Countries.

    • Planning Engineer

      Worthwhile suggestions from you and others. Apt criticisms as well. I welcome better minds to take, modify and improve upon anything of value here.

      I personally strongly agree there should be a difference in the approaches of and the requirements imposed upon third world countries as opposed to more prosperous locals as concerns clean energy. Both third world and economically advanced nations should benefit from such an approach. ( but even if it worked to the detriment for advanced nations-it still is the more FAIR approach).

      • I’m not sure a first world versus third world approach works. What the world needs is CO2 and methane reductions. So the approach I would take is to list items as individual projects with reductions versus cost.

        I suspect (but I’m not sure) we will see that low cost financing for hydropower ANYWHERE it can be used cost effectively is probably one of the top solutions. Once hydropower is available it’s fairly feasible to use wind to extend the water resources.

    • You have to be very careful about separating the developed and developing countries. The activist claim is that renewables are cheap and effective, yet belie that by asserting that developing nations have to be allowed to build lots of coal plants out of a sense of climate justice/fairness.
      Why developing nations shouldn’t be using the cheap and effective renewables is a question nobody seems willing to answer- except skeptics. Further, it makes no sense to claim that physics tells us the need for mitigation is immediate and large scale but then argue that Chinese emissions don’t count.
      For the number 2, you’ll have a much bigger fight with activists than skeptics. For example, there is bi-partisan support for nuclear and natural gas. This change, which I like a lot, would remove partisanship from the equation entirely- which, unfortunately would mean 97% of the activists on AGW would go find a new hobby.
      Also- shouldn’t “fossil fuels” in #2 include “oil”? IMO the only path to growth of electrified transportation is clean, abundant, reliable, inexpensive electricity. A test renewables currently fail on three out of four criteria.
      Good thoughts tho.

  22. Planning Engineer, this is all very interesting as academic policy analysis thinking goes, but there is a third category of participant whose perspectives are not being included in your policy alternatives matrix. .

    That third category is composed mostly of the Chinese and the Indians, and covers the “We don’t care, we are going our own way” perspective.

    Their two alternatives are ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’ and ‘ MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL’.

  23. Pingback: Surviving Peak Population In Style–The Magnificent Seven | The Lukewarmer's Way

  24. PE, Your analysis assumes that CO2 emissions are overall a negative economic factor. A number of authors have pointed out that there are good reasons to believe that additional atmospheric CO2 (up to 1000 ppm) is economically beneficial due to increased plant growth (i.e. feeding the additional future billions!). Therefore I would argue that your analysis should include the case that we don’t want to transition to renewable energy sources in the near future.

    • Planning Engineer

      Wasquires-I didn’t mean to take a position on carbon, but I suspect that policy perspectives advocating man made deliberate increases in atmospheric carbon would be pretty dead in the water at this time. With evidence and political palatability for such I position, I would see that perspective emerging from the bottom row perspectives.

      • That is one reason I have a fundamental problem with the taxonomy, and many “no regrets” solutions – like models, they start out with a basic assumption that increased levels of co2 causes a problem, is net negative, when the exact opposite may in fact be the case. Until you can develop a taxonomy that takes no position on co2, it is not a valid exercise.

      • Planning Engineer

        My response would be that I don’t know which row we are in. You might be right and there is no problem. If that’s the case the policy problem goes away.

        But if we are making policies, I would contribute the following. As far as wind and solar go we should only be talking about the right column strategies. If you could remove some of the impediments to nuclear I would think it might be available for left column strategies.

        My recommendation is not to count heads in each square, but rather to bring row and column experts together with policy makers as you look at the various policy options. Policy makers in the end will decide what policies work based on the squares as they see them.

    • If you do an analysis you can scare up $1-3 trillion in annual benefits (depending on producer or retail pricing, including producer personal consumption, etc. due to the 50% increase in plant growth. That is real tangible benefit.

      There is quite frankly no frickin’ way to prove real harm even close to that value. Which is why global warmers have to measure then add imaginary harm to their totals.

      The coal burners should be getting a subsidy check for the CO2 produced.

      • Karma. I tried working with CO2rma but got nO2where. Watch the externalities flicker through the spectrum from ultraharm to infrabenefit. The rolling wheel has yet to pause, nor should you so expect.
        ==================

      • Vaughan Pratt

        due to the 50% increase in plant growth.

        Plants currently remove 123 GtC of carbon from the atmosphere each year, see
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle .

        A 50% increase in plant growth would therefore result in removing an additional 61 GtC per year. 1 GtC of carbon in the air is 28.96/(12*5.14) = 0.47 ppmv of CO2. Hence removing 61 GtC would correspond to decreasing atmospheric CO2 by 61*0.47 = 28.7 ppmv per year. So in 5 years CO2 would be down to 400 − 143 = 257 ppmv plus whatever humans added during that time.

        Are you sure about your 50% increase?

      • the net land sink was fairly constant (1960-88) following which there was an abrupt regime change,an increase in the efficiency by a factor of 3 (1989-2007) eg Sarmiento 2010

        http://www.biogeosciences.net/7/2351/2010/bg-7-2351-2010.html

      • Vaughan Pratt

        The factor of 3 increase in net terrestrial carbon sink after 1988, namely to about 1 GtC/yr, corresponds to an increase of 1/123 (using 123 GtC/yr as the figure I mentioned above) or about 0.8% in plant growth. 50% in plant growth would therefore be 60 times as big an increase.

      • I thought it was 10%.

      • But that’s for land. I suspect it’s much larger for the ocean. My hunch is that there is far, far more increase in ocean biomass than we currently estimate. I think that there is very quick turnover in consumption of CO2 near the surface, keeping pH high and allowing more uptake by the ocean than would be calculated by temperature equalibrium alone.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        I thought it was 10%.

        We should compare notes. Figure 2 in the Parmiento paper shows a sharp increase in the rate of net land uptake to about 1 GtC per year (a line from top left to bottom right is a reasonable approximation to the average slope of the four estimates). (1 petagram or Pg = 1 gigatonne or Gt.) That’s 10% of what we’re adding per year and 0.8% of what terrestrial plants are subtracting per year.

        So there are interpretations of “it” that make us both right.

        The interest in the 0.8% figure is that it would seem to imply that terrestrial plant biomass is increasing at 0.8% a year. The 50% increase that started this subthread would therefore happen in about 60 years or 2075. This would subtract some 140 ppmv from the CO2 level, which however without that 50% would be around 900 ppmv, so the reduction would only be to about 760 ppmv in 2075, plus or minus a large uncertainty.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        me: This would subtract some 140 ppmv from the CO2 level,

        Scrub that, I naively copied my 143 ppmv figure from my previous calculation without paying attention to where it came from.

        If terrrestrial plant biomass increased 50% by 2075, today’s downtake of 123 GtC/yr by terrestrial plants would be 185 GtC/yr by then, an increase of 61 GtC/yr or 28.7 ppmv/yr as I calculated earlier. Assuming a sustained CAGR for our CO2 emissions of 2.5% (the average since 1985), by 2075 we’d be emitting 44 GtC/yr. So the terrestrial plants alone would be pulling down considerably more CO2 than we’d be emitting then, to say nothing of the ocean.

        This assumes that the increase in the terrestrial CO2 sink of 1 GtC/yr since 1988 is sustained to 2075, a linear extrapolation. My guess would be that that rate of CO2 consumption, fueled by the growth of our CO2 emissions, would be unsustainable and that the terrestrial sink should slow down.

  25. “We just made up those statistics, but that’s what we often do when predicting the future –” Tom Stohlgren and Dan Binkley (see link)

  26. Rob Ellison,

    Many apologies. I meant to say I was wondering whether you classed yourself as an extreme nincompoop, rather than the complete nincompoop to which I inadvertently referred.

    My mistake. I bow to your superior knowledge of the various forms of nincompoopery. Have you mastered them all yet?

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

  27. The greenhouse effect does not warm the planet directly, but indirectly – by slowing down the rate at which heat escapes back into space.

    But there are none so blind as those who will not see.

  28. Rob Ellison,

    A grand hypothesis. There is one minor problem. Nobody has yet managed to demonstrate the CO2 greenhouse effect, in a scientific way. No one.

    You may not have noticed, but the planet appears quite reluctant to warm. As a matter of fact, it even seems to be cooling – slowly, but cooling nevertheless.

    I trust you will not get too upset if I choose to ignore your exhortation to go away. The prospect of you countenancing insanity by virtue of reading my words leads me to believe that you are, indeed, a delicate flower, and nearing your tipping point.

    Might I suggest you ignore anything I post, and admonish others to do likewise. This will help to prevent you, and no doubt others, to avoid insanity. If I had a group therapy appointment, I would gladly surrender it to you, as it seems you are overly concerned about the fragile state of your mental health.

    I look forward to you ignoring me completely, and absolutely refusing to read, let alone respond, to anything I might say, lest it drives you barking mad. I wish you all the best, and hope you get well soon.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • I read the first sentence Flynn. No one has been able to prove that C02 warms the atmosphere blah blah blah.

      Flynn is a person who seems unable to grasp a conceptual model of simultaneous shortwave down and longwave up. Or that planetary cooling amounts to a mean of pork an beans. Hmmmm… pork and beans – with cornbread.

      d(W&H)/dt = energy in (J/s) – energy out (J/s)

      d(W&H)/dt is the instantaneous rate of change of work & heat.

      = sunlight – (emitted IR + planet cooling)

      = 342 (J/s) (geometry corrected) – (342 +
      0.09) (J/s)

      The numbers implies that there was no planetary warming or cooling – or change in latent heat – in the period.

      It works precisely as the gif shows. Sunlight warms the planet – which then emits IR. Greenhouse gases resonate with IR photons at specific frequencies. This is simply shown in the laboratory. More greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases the number of photons bouncing in all directions around the atmosphere and surface.

      That this ‘scattering’ happens in the atmosphere is shown in ‘snapshots’ of IR emissions to space at different times taken through a narrow aperture .

      http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~dennis/321/Harries_Spectrum_2001.pdf

      Ample evidence for rational players that the essential mechanisms of greenhouse theory are in play at both the laboratory and planetary scales.

      It is such an utter waste of time to go over these very basic physics again and again to counter fringe lunatic assertions that are simply distractions from scientific and policy discussion on some more rational basis. .

      • Rob Ellison,

        If you read what I wrote, rather than what you want to believe I wrote, you will discover that nobody has been able to demonstrate the CO2 greenhouse effect scientifically. No one.

        Sunlight does indeed increases the surface temperature, as the surface absorbs photons. The surface, as you say, emits photons. Unfortunately, you omit the corollary, which is that the temperature falls, when the surface loses energy. If the surface absorbs more energy than it emits, the temperature rises. If not, the temperature falls.

        Yes, CO2 will raise its temperature if it absorbs energy at a faster rate than it emits it. So does every other gas. CO2 also cools if it finds itself warmer than the environment. Not really amazing, I think.

        You cannot provide any scientific evidence to support the nonsensical CO2 greenhouse effect. None. Nor can anybody else. Hand waving ,and insisting it must be so, is not evidence. The fact that the globe has cooled over the last four and a half billion years, might suggest that the heating effects of CO2 are exaggerated, to say the least.

        Even assiduous Warmists claim the expected heat is missing, sulking in the depths of the sea, away from the searching gaze of the unbelievers.

        A travesty indeed!

        So, no actual warming – just theoretical hopeful almost but still just around the corner warming.

        Wave on, you might convince Nature yet!

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • I read the first sentence Flynn. No one has been able to prove that C02 warms the atmosphere blah blah blah.

        You need a new song and dance Flynn. The evidence at both laboratory and planetary scale is convincing – for all but fringe nutcases. Even sceptics accept it by and large. You are way out there Flynn.

      • “No one has been able to prove that C02 warms the atmosphere”

        True. Squiggly line drawings aren’t exactly proof of anything.

        Andrew

      • Really? CO2 doesn’t resonate in IR frequencies?

        No theory? No laboratory results? No global scale emissions spectra>

        http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~dennis/321/Harries_Spectrum_2001.pdf

        Asertsion about squigglies are pretty squiggly.

      • Ah – assertions – and assertions about there not neing an effect are pretty nutty.

  29. The threading is broken, but this is for Phatboy, who wrote –

    “The greenhouse effect does not warm the planet directly, but indirectly – by slowing down the rate at which heat escapes back into space.”

    Unfortunately, neither you nor anybody else can manage to warm anything at all by surrounding it with any sort of insulator, CO2 included.

    In point of fact, the atmosphere, clouds, etc prevent some 30% or so of insolation reaching the surface. You are right in part, though. Temperatures in tropical arid deserts drop to below freezing more slowly than they would without an atmosphere. And a jolly good thing, too! Likewise, we are prevented from literally being boiled, by virtue of the fact that the atmosphere prevents us being exposed to the total available radiation from the Sun.

    I suggest you try heating something exposed to the unconcentrated rays of the Sun alone, by surrounding it with CO2. Possibly a pot of water at 99C. How long will it take to boil? Good luck – you’ll need it!

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • Vaughan Pratt

      Unfortunately, neither you nor anybody else can manage to warm anything at all by surrounding it with any sort of insulator, CO2 included.

      So there is no point in adding insulation to your house, or putting on a sweater?

      Of the many remarkable facts you’ve discovered, this one is near the top.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        You wrote –

        “So there is no point in adding insulation to your house, or putting on a sweater.”

        None at all, unless you have an internal heat source, and are trying to prevent heat loss.

        The insulation does not heat your house. Turn your internal heater off, and leave your house alone for a while. Fill it with CO2 if you like. It soon reaches the same temperature as it would without the insulation.

        Put a sweater on a corpse. It will not warm it one jot. Reducing the rate of cooling is not the same thing as raising the temperature.

        Surround the Earth with atmosphere, and it will cool less quickly. It will also warm less quickly when exposed to an external heat source, just as your insulated house.

        Your statement was correct, although I am assuming you intended it as sarcasm. No matter, I am glad to to be able to confirm your statement.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        It will also warm less quickly when exposed to an external heat source, just as your insulated house.

        Thank you, Mike Flynn, for the perfect opportunity to explain the greenhouse effect in a single sentence.

        Greenhouse gases differ from other forms of insulation, such as a wool jacket or housing insulation, in that they have the interesting property of allowing heat from the Sun to pass through them, thereby heating the surface of the Earth, while blocking heat radiated from the Earth escaping to space.

        If you have a different account of the flow of heat from the Sun via the Earth’s surface back out to space, a lot of people here would be very interested in it.

      • Vaughan Pratt,

        I see that you are quite prepared to trot out the usual irrelevant Warmist analogies comparing supposed GHE to insulation, sweaters and such like. When I point out the difficulties with your condescending, patronising, and sarcastic pseudo questions, you then attempt the Warmist lateral arabesque, and change tack, hoping no one will notice.

        You wrote –

        “Greenhouse gases differ from other forms of insulation, such as a wool jacket or housing insulation, in that they have the interesting property of allowing heat from the Sun to pass through them, thereby heating the surface of the Earth, while blocking heat radiated from the Earth escaping to space.”

        Unfortunately, this account is merely mindless unsupported assertion, with precisely no basis in fact. The fact that the Earth manages to cool down quite nicely at night might surprise yourself, but comes as no surprise at all to anyone who has even a basic grasp of thermodynamics.

        The magical one way perfect insulator does not exist. Unfortunately, anything less than a perfect insulator allows heat from the surface to escape to the colder sink of outer space. Surprise, surprise!

        To compound your lack of understanding, you wrote (presumably intending to be sarcastic, although I may be wrong) –

        “If you have a different account of the flow of heat from the Sun via the Earth’s surface back out to space, a lot of people here would be very interested in it.”

        It’s fairly simple, at least to a non Warmist. In accordance with the laws of thermodynamics, hot things cool down, when the surrounding environment is at a lower temperature. And so it is with the Earth, being surrounded by an environment of around 4 K. Should you now decide to attempt to confuse the issue by blathering about this wavelength or that wavelength, I can assure that you will indubitably wind up appearing not a little foolish.

        Global warming due to CO2 is complete nonsense, but of course there are always gullible people prepared to believe almost anything. Newton, Carnot, Lord Kelvin, Lysenko and others spring to mind. At least you are in good company.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • This is of course the way energy flows in the climate system.

        You can work out why with some application of physics principles. Not for Flynn however – simply more mad rants.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        there are always gullible people prepared to believe almost anything. Newton, Carnot, Lord Kelvin, Lysenko and others spring to mind.

  30. Why is it that those in the Action (1) square have never published a plan of action which includes specific activities with realistic costs for each?

  31. Roger Caiazza

    Consider this considered discussion relative to the current policy world in New York. The NY Department of Public Service on Tuesday held public hearings in New York City on its Reforming Energy Vision (REV). This is a comprehensive plan to reorganize the state energy grid to include more distributed generation, renewable energy and energy efficiency. A sampling of the comments from yesterday’s public hearing were all in category Action (1):

    “R.E.V. should guarantee affordable access to renewable energy,” said Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund. “The capitalist system is unsustainable.”

    Patrick Robbins, with the clean energy advocacy group Sane Energy, asked state officials to ensure that “low-income, front-line communities,” such as those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, have a voice in the REV. He .and several others also asked the state to set specific goals in terms of renewable power genration and greenhouse gas reductions
    .
    We have not heard specific targets for renewable energy,” he said. “The climate crisis demands nothing less than full renewable energy. We need you to put us on the right path.”

    Others plugged their preferred renewable energy source, such as geothermal, solar and wind. “When this was New Amsterdam, windmills were all around,” resident Bruce Rosen said. “We want windmills off the shore of the city and Long Island.”

    I am not sure if I am more frightened that this policy may actually be implemented with the revisions proposed or embarrassed to be from New York.

    • Roger, a majority of the citizens of the US Northeast want a renewable energy future for their region. Nuclear is a much better option from all rational perspectives, but the citizens of the US Northeast don’t want nuclear, and they are not going to be convinced otherwise.

      On the west coast, most Californians likewise want a renewable energy future for their region. Nuclear is a much better option for California from all rational perspectives, but Californians don’t want nuclear, and they are likewise not going to be convinced otherwise. Not now, not ever.

      My view is that if the US Northeast on the east coast and if California on the west coast want to go whole hog into the renewables, they should be encouraged to do so, with the explicitly stated goal of using both regions in a large-scale experiment to see just what works in renewable technology and what doesn’t.

      Now, the advocates of the renewables generally don’t acknowledge that massive grid-scale energy storage capacity is needed, along with large-scale back-up gas-fired generation capacity.

      They are in the mode of citing a variety of nebulous academic studies which seem to indicate that wind and solar costs will be comparable with coal, gas, and nuclear for grid-scale power generation. But they refuse to perform the kinds of hard-and-fast detailed engineering studies that would reveal just how much a renewable energy future will cost at the current state of renewable energy technology.

      But that is neither here nor there, because the customers are always right. Give the customers what they want.

      If the US Northeast and California want to be the pathfinders in making renewable energy work in practice, then they should be encouraged to spend just as much money as it will take to get there, under the justification that the practical knowledge and experience gained from this very ambitious experiment will be worth the price that was paid for it.

      • Roger Caiazza

        “The majority of the citizens of the Northeast want a renewable energy future for their region.” I am sorry but I don’t believe that at all. If you have evidence to support your claim I would love to see it. Unfortunately it just gets repeated so often that everyone “knows” that is the case.

        For my part I think that over 19% of the residential customers want nothing to do with the cost increases that would necessary for a renewable energy future. That number represents the 1.1 million NYS residential customers out of a total of 5.67 million that are more than 60 days overdue in paying their utility bills.

        Furthermore the last time I checked the percentage of NYS residential customers who have voluntarily signed up for all renewable energy and paid the accompanying surcharge was less than 10%. If the majority is so exercised about the renewable energy future why aren’t they putting their money towards the vision?

        So who is pushing this vision? The politicians in New York are a prime mover of the politically correct approach and a large number of environmental advocacy groups always show up at public hearings and flood the docket with comments supporting the vision. In addition, one of the supporting documents that purportedly “proves” that the vision of the revised energy vision will be wonderful was loaded with 11 companies that stand to profit from the proposed approach.

      • Roger, the voting public in the US Northeast and in California consistently votes for politicians who make the adoption of renewable energy a central plank of their platforms.

        It would seem to be in the best interests of all parties concerned that the politicians in both regions pay for a series of engineering-quality feasibility studies for each of their respective regions which can determine with some reasonable accuracy what it will actually take in time and money to reach their stated renewable energy goals.

        Each study would use a conceptual design for a renewable-fed power grid architecture tailored for the specific geographic region, plus a conceptual project implementation plan which detailed the project phases and the estimated costs for achieving a specifically-enumerated list of renewable energy goals.

        If the advocates for a renewable energy future in the US Northeast and in California aren’t proposing that such studies be done, then they are not truly interested in seeing a renewable energy future for their respective regions; rather, they are merely pandering to the environmentally conscious public in their state for votes.

      • Do you calculate the cost benefit to alternatives when you buy Girl Scout cookies? Moral values can be equated to money value.

      • Admittedly, moral values can be distorted and mis-informed.

      • Roger Caiazza

        Beta Blocker – you nailed it. “they are merely pandering to the environmentally conscious public in their state for votes”. Although I do wonder sometime if pandering to the “public” is an overestimate. Maybe it is just the very loud, organized, and persistent advocacy groups who claim to represent the “public”.

      • As long as they use only local funds and are not allowed federal bailouts when their grand experiment fails.

    • Graph from P Gosselin, showing how inefficient offshore
      wind energy really is.
      http://notrickszone.com/#sthash.2Ib26Q11.dpbs

  32. “The hypothesis is that more CO2 in the atmosphere will warm the planet – all other things being equal.”

    This leads to two questions.

    1. How much will it warm.
    2. Given that we can’t hold other things equal, how do we estimate #1

    • We spend a lot of money on a multitude of models, run em, toon em, run em, toon em, run em…and when we end up with a ball of spaghetti we take the average and that’s the answer we are going with.

    • Steve

      “The hypothesis is that more CO2 in the atmosphere will warm the planet – all other things being equal.”
      This leads to two questions.
      1. How much will it warm.
      2. Given that we can’t hold other things equal, how do we estimate #1

      It is not quite that simple.
      1. How much will is warm? Agreed, but once there is a reasonably accurate estimate of warming…..
      Next- What other changes occur and where as a result of any warming that does occur.
      Isn’t it that next step that is critical in determining whether or not someone supports expending limited resources on reducing CO2 emissions.

    • Steven Mosher, here is the hypothesis, Climate Science has constructed a good ol’ fern bar network.

      1. Do we fire them all?

      2. Do we try weeding?

  33. crazy republicans. believing in AGW …
    http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/288082601.html

    • nottawa rafter

      His reply…….”some impact.”

      So 1% would be consistent with his belief. Read more. Interpret less.

  34. Curious George

    Oh, threading broken. Re-posting my question.

    Rob – I am a believer in a greenhouse effect but not in a simplified diagram you are showing. I have an issue with the Point 7: Heated molecules emit radiation. As there are some 2,000 molecules of N2 or O2 for every CO2 molecule, most collisions will be with them. Please tell me what radiation they emit.

  35. Basically we will split perspectives between those who believe a transition from fossil fuel technology can be accomplished without undue difficulty and those who believe that such a transition will be extremely challenging and difficult.

    Don’t you think if the right market incentives are in place that the private sector, along with the research done in universities and colleges, can develop better and more cost effective technologies to meet that demand? Doesn’t more demand lead to more innovation?

  36. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    FOMDs Planning Paradox
    The Netherlands embraces climate-science and rationally plans generations ahead. Florida politicians, not so much. Why the difference?

    Rising sea levels will be too much,
    too fast for Florida

    by Harold Wanless (U of Miami)

    It is amazing for me to see the very aggressive building boom underway in south Florida […] They are building like there is no tomorrow.

    Unfortunately, they are right. […]

    Most models of projected sea level rise assume a gradual acceleration of sea level in line with gradually accelerating ice melt. But our knowledge of how sea level rose in the past paints a very different picture of response to climate change.

    [Past] ice melt was not a gradual process, but rather a series of very rapid pulses of sea level rise interspersed with pauses in which coastal environments formed.

    During pulses the seas rose between 3-30ft (0.9-9m) fast enough to drown not just reefs, sandy barrier islands, tidal inlets and other coastal features, stranding their remnants across the continental shelf, now disappeared beneath the ocean.

    To consider the risk in present investments is beyond sobering. By the middle of this century most of the barrier islands of south Florida and the world will be abandoned and the people relocated, while low areas such as Sweetwater and Hialeah bordering the Everglades will be frequently flooded and increasingly difficult places to live.

    Florida will start to lose its freshwater resources, its infrastructure will begin to fail, and the risk of catastrophic storm surges and hurricane flooding will increase.

    Florida counties should be planning for their future to determine at what point the costs of maintaining functional infrastructure, insurance, and human health and safety becomes economically impossible.

    Already, there are areas and properties that will become unlivable within a 30-year mortgage cycle.

    Forget the levees and dikes. That may be fine for New Orleans and the Netherlands, but not here where the limestone and sand under our homes is much too porous and permeable. For each day action is put off, it becomes harder and more expensive to make the inevitable changes required.

    Without planning, there will come a point where society will collapse into chaos.

    Summary

    (1) Community A [the Netherlands] enjoys water-impermeable geology; dikes work well; community respects science; politicians responsibly plan-and-invest for future generations.

    (2) Community B [Florida] suffers from porous karst geology; dikes fail utterly; politicians look-ahead one election cycle (at most); voters and lenders selfishly embrace short-sighted denialism.

    FOMD’s Paradox  Why is the community [Florida] that faces worse sea-level problems [than the Netherlands] the same community that irresponsibly embraces climate-change denialism?

    Whence this short-sighted science-denying paradox? The world wonders!

    Conclusion  Too commonly, markets and political platforms alike are neither foresighted, nor efficient, nor rational.

    \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}

    • The problem sea level rise problem will be solved by the same scientists who gave you viable solar power. For example, there’s a technique to fracture the rocks and pump sand and water. This raises the terrain and keeps it safely above sea level. Then theres plain ole foundation jacking…

      http://www.pjfr.com/what-is-foundation-jacking

      • There could also be mega-engineering applied to protecting water from draining from land ice sheets.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Fernando Leanme solves sea-level rise by “plain ole foundation-jacking …”

      Lol … can’t wait to see your “plain ole foundation-jacking solution” applied to THESE Miami business-district bad-boys!

      FOMD’s Confirmation-Bias Paradox

      • denialists exhibit near-zero faith in present-day science and engineering,

      • denialists exhibit near-infinite faith in future science and engineering,

      Fortunately, the US military has thoroughly and carefully analyzed the rationalizing mechanisms that are associated to this doubly-denialist cognition:

      Colonel Finds Plenty Of Supporting Evidence For Confirmation Bias Report

      It is a pleasure to help bring smiles to Climate Etc readers!

      \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}

  37. PE, thank you for another thoughtful submission. In the spirit of your framework I’d invite participants to place themselves in the quadrant that best fits their current assessment of the state of play. A brief note or caveat may add value. Longer justifications are probably better left to a separate thread.

    For me: CHALLENGED

    I am unresolved as to whether rising CO2 represents a small “c” catastrophe or a large “C” catastrophe. I do not see readily achievable paths for smooth transition from fossil fuels (for a myriad of reasons).

  38. The simple physics is that excited greenhouse gas molecules collide with nitrogen and oxygen such there a local thermal equilibrium evolves. Greenhouse gas molecules may also gain kinetic energy from adjacent molecules and emit in IR. Not sure what relevance it is imagined this has.

    The simple fact – denied by Flynn – is that increased greenhouse gs concentrations in the atmosphere increase temperatures – all other things being equal. Nothing more can be reasonably said. All other things are never equal – by the complex nature of the Earth system.

    The theory suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse by such things as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation. Complexity involving abrupt and unpredictable changes in system state evolves from interactions of simple components.

    The bottom line is that we are making changes to a complex system with unknowable consequences – that may include warming or cooling surprises. The knowable future includes more or less extreme climate shifts every 20 to 30 years. The policy basis can’t be defined by sensitivity or any other simplistic prognostications. It can only be characterised as decision making in uncertainty.

    It suggests that emissions are potentially problematic – but that a rational response – unlike Flynn’s – begins by accurately defining the problem. Electricity generations plays a relatively small part in the bigger emissions picture – including black carbon.

    To build an effective policy response to uncertainty, complexity and instability in the climate system and the broad range of emissions requires a far more broad ranging policy framework. .

  39. The whole EPA ‘plan to reduce carbon emissions’ stems from the UN/IMF/IPCC fairy-tale of man-made global warming (through carbon dioxide emissions = anthropogenic global warming, AGW for short) which is altering the Earth’s climate, no less, to near extinction if all that hype were true.

    That man-made fairy-tale, however, is nothing but the biggest political and intellectual fraud ever.

    In arriving at this opinion, I rely on two sources:
    • on what I have seen with my own eyes,
    • on what I have read .

    Since this comment should not itself become a long extended read, I refer with links to some of my earlier blogs giving relevant details on the points raised.

    • What I saw with my own eyes — and what triggered me to look further at ‘global warming’ (of which I was just as convinced and abhorred by as anyone else at the time, not only through the media, but also through being forced by law of the Building Regulations to measure and judge the energy performance of the buildings I designed in kgCO2 instead of kWh) was during a visit to the Austrian Alps in 2007 and seeing evidence of kilometres high recent retreats of two glaziers up their respective valleys. Eureka I thought: this I can see confirms ‘global warming’!
    Yes – but…. Full story and consequences at: http://tinyurl.com/pddpshy
    • What I read – here just a few instances referred to on my blogsite:
    o “To leave no doubt, in an interview published in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on 14 November 2010, Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of IPCC Working Group III, said “The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War…. one must say clearly that de facto we redistribute the world’s wealth by climate policy…. One has to rid oneself of the illusion that international climate politics have anything to do with environmental concerns.” Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/q4rtmvf
    o “On this day, and the next day, and every day, a scarcely conceivable 4000 trillion kilowatt hours of energy reached the top of the earth’s atmosphere as sunshine… And over the course of the day, that energy served to turn hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into food and living tissue. And as a result the world stayed alive. That’s what really happened today.” Results of measuring global warming thus is at: http://tinyurl.com/ot2hlp4
    o “Global warming did serve a couple of useful purposes. The issue has been a litmus test for our political class. Any politician who has stated a belief in global warming is either a cynical opportunist or an easily deluded fool. In neither case should that politician ever be taken seriously again. No excuses can be accepted.” Source at: http://tinyurl.com/ptgrz34
    o “First and foremost, what you are about to read in this book regarding climate change is unvarnished, with no punches pulled…. This book will, however, be what every American and citizen of the world needs to know most about our climate. It will be something you have not been allowed to hear for almost twenty years. It will be – the truth.” http://tinyurl.com/p6ra4f3

    QED

    PS: more on the Nuremberg Meme Funnel at http://tinyurl.com/pdy7eka

  40. PE’s posts generally evoke amusing comments – his suggested taxonomy is rationally sensible but has no hope of seeing the light of day through any MSM public megaphone

    And as usual, bubble thoughts on how to deal with the intractable issue of power supply to mega-cities emerge from every silly angle. This has happened with every post on this topic; I will not complain, I have requested it often enough, and the results are absolutely predictable

    Craig Loehle’s comment above to the effect that people (perhaps a bare majority) want both all-renewabubble power and economic reliability is to me a reasonably succinct summary of the insanity of the situation

  41. Watch this on using climate models.

    horror stories?

    https://www.newton.ac.uk/seminar/20101209100011001

  42. Pingback: Greg Craven’s viral climate ‘decision grid’ video – Stoat

  43. Planning Engineer’s approach is the wrong approach because he is not tackling the primary problem which is the structure of the climate models. Until they are put right time is being wasted.

    Many times I have pointed out that the 20th and 21st history of Climate change shows that continuous models do not work. Climate change is an on/off phenomena and needs to be modelled as such. Otherwise the 1940 singularity could not be simulated. Also long lags like ocean transport delays need to be accurately modelled..

  44. I agree with the physics that reasons more radiation absorbing/emitting gas in the atmosphere adds to the insulating property of the atmosphere. The extreme Moon temperatures in day vs. night demonstrate this. The hard question is whether 100-300ppm additional CO2 has a significant effect. It is agreed by all that each additional 100ppm has a diminishing effect on a steep logarithmic function.

    What is too complicated yet to agree on is the effects of feedbacks to warming. Some say that increased water vapor in a warmer atmosphere will simply add to the greenhouse gas content and make the atmosphere warmer yet. Others say that more vapor leads to more clouds which have a net cooling effect. There is very good evidence for the answer to this last question by looking at the temperature and CO2 content reconstructions created for the past million years. There is about 10 periods with similar temps to present day and each time CO2 rose after the rise in temp, both leveling off and then falling again into a new ice age. Several times temp was 2-3 C higher than today before falling. This seems to give support to vapor and cloud’s negative feedback being a dominant effect.

    Although the correlation of CO2 concentration and temp in the last million years was first seen as an alarm closer study showed that the CO2 lagged the temperature, (the lag problem). This would have given me relief but warmist argued that CO2 could have been supplying a self-evolving positive feedback driving up temperature in delayed fashion. My answer to this is the same as the run-away vapor positive feedback; it didn’t happen in the reconstructions. My answer as to why the higher CO2 is that a warmer planet provided a larger habitable zone for CO2 using life, at the same time as decreasing CO2 solubility in the oceans, both driving a higher atmospheric equilibrium.

    Where is the past evidence of greenhouse sensitivity?

    Has there been study of the temperatures of desert towns versus non-desert at the same latitude? CO2, if providing a significant insulating effect, should have dampened day-time highs and night-time lows in the last 150 years, mostly in deserts.

  45. Yes, let’s recall the fiasco that was the compact fluorescent government mandate. The government rushed in to force a change. The downsides of compact fluorescent bulbs made them a marginal improvement, at best, but the real tragedy was that the mandate delayed adoption by the market of LEDs, which are just plain superior. Centralized planning routinely blows these calls.

  46. Bad Andrew | February 5, 2015 at 8:44 am | Reply
    “things are never equal”

    If things are never equal, then why do you tack a thing that never happens on to your speculation?

    Because idjits insist that the fundamental physical mechanisms of greenhouse warming is a speculation.

  47. John Vonderlin

    I lukewarmly recommend we Take Action to Challenge the Delay in Nurturing the development of an energy infrastructure for our future. I can’t deny Cagwers may be useful tools in accomplishing this.

  48. One scenario that I never see considered is that technological progress could bring us cheap, unlimited energy (most likely from nuclear) and allow us to collect excess CO2 and sequester it (perhaps freeze it in Antarctica) and have complete control over weather and Earth’s energy balance. This seems to me like a better long term goal than trying to live in some mythical sustainable harmony with nature where we’d be vulnerable to the next big meteor strike or Yellowstone going off.

    • Canman,

      My wife would like it a little calmer, I want a bit more breeze.

      Do I have to write a submission, and pay a fee, to the Department of Weather Control?

      Can I get fine and sunny weather when I holiday overseas?

      Am I dreaming?

      I jest, of course!

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

  49. Threading is messed up. I was replying to Bad Andrew and his expressed puzzlement about ceteris paribus “other things equal” statements.

  50. Bevan Dockery

    I get a feeling of dismay as I glance through the above comments. It seems as though there is little reporting on actual events, rather comments based on what the writers believe should have happened. My entry at the time stamp of ‘February 3, 2015 at 9:24 pm’ represents the mathematical distillation of sequences of real world events. Certainly the conclusions are my opinion but the results are factual from which readers can drawn their own conclusions, if they wish. It could be most helpful if commentators could reserve their entries to such factual information.

    I am not claiming to be invincible, at 77 years of age I know that I make mistakes. However if my conclusions are correct then much of the discussion would be unnecessary. For example, arguments about infrared radiation emission and absorption are irrelevant if there is no measurable response in the historic data. Even the original article would be unnecessary if real world data had been analysed beforehand.

    At the time of the First Assessment Report(FAR) by the IPCC, there was already 32 years of data on atmospheric CO2 concentration available from the Mauna Loa Observatory and 11 years of satellite lower tropospheric temperature data. Comparison of monthly increments in CO2 concentration and UAH Tropics Land satellite lower tropospheric temperature – the combination that currently shows the maximum relationship between the two variables – gives a correlation of 0.06 with a probability of 48% that the correlation is zero.

    Clearly that data analysis shows that there was definitely no basis for the statement in the IPCC FAR Overview that:
    1. Science
    1.0.1 We are certain of the following:
    • There is a natural greenhouse effect which already keeps the Earth warmer than it would otherwise be.
    • Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, chloro-fluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface. The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it.
    End of quote.

    However, the first 11 years of joint CO2/satellite temperature data reveals that the correlation between the average annual tropics land satellite temperature and the annual increment in CO2 has a correlation of 0.6 with a negligible probability that the correlation is zero. Proof that the IPCC was either incompetent or chose to hide the fact that the data already showed that temperature drove CO2 concentration.

  51. I seem to be a nurturer. I grew up in a big family with scarce resources. My mother frequently said: “Waste not, want not”. Seems to me the best policy.

  52. Hi Planning Engineer…

    I haven’t had time to actually think about the points you brought up until now, except for the most obvious point about time-frames and exponential improvements about technology (above), But I do have some thoughts in response to your closing discussion:

    Should we be as skeptical of climate experts speaking on energy technology as as we are of energy experts speaking on climate?

    Another important question: many here are skeptical of climate experts speaking on climate. Shouldn’t we be just as skeptical of “energy experts” speaking on energy?

    Speaking from my own perspective, as a student of Kuhnian revolutions in many sciences, there’s a tendency in scientists who are “in tune” with the consensus/paradigm to dismiss questions of the fundamental assumptions of the paradigm. While those from outside the paradigm accept some but not all of those assumptions, and come up with various different alternatives.

    What if we apply the same perspective to energy “expertise”? We could assume that “energy experts” are basing their expertise on a collection of assumptions, some of which are (probably) incorrect. Proper planning for the future would require identifying those potentially incorrect assumptions, and replacing the current paradigm with one that recognizes their hypothetical nature.

    Are there other factors that should be used to classify policy perspectives?

    Of course! The question is how to separate the wheat from the chaff? By what standards?

    This piece by necessity used gross oversimplifications, how important do nuanced differences become as we consider clean energy policy?

    Very important! The key, IMO, is to develop a more sophisticated representation of worldviews and imperatives of various interest groups.

    Most importantly, to identify where the basic assumptions behind people’s worldviews are making them blind to opportunities for more productive approaches.

  53. Rob Ellison,

    How many kJ/mol (of photons) of energy is contained in light with a wavelength of 497.37 nm?

    Can a sample of CO2 be warmed by exposing it to light of this wavelength?

    If so, why? If not, why not?

    Follow up question – in standard water triple point cell, where the water exists in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms simultaneously, are different wavelength photons emitted by the different phases of H2O at the triple point temperature? Will the wavelengths from the cell change if the temperature rises by 0.00001 C?

    Simple questions for someone with the requisite knowledge, but I quite understand if you decline to demonstrate your understanding of the physics behind some of the diagrams you cut and paste from the Internet.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • E = hv times however many photons you like.

      The absorption bands for CO2 cn be found readily on the internet – I believe I give absorption bands earlier.

      Follow up question – in standard water triple point cell, where the water exists in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms simultaneously, are different wavelength photons emitted by the different phases of H2O at the triple point temperature? Will the wavelengths from the cell change if the temperature rises by 0.00001 C?

      A very silly question. Solids and liquids behave very differently to gases.

      The absorption of electromagnetic radiation by water depends on the state of the water.

      ‘The absorption in the gas phase occurs in three regions of the spectrum. Rotational transitions are responsible for absorption in the microwave and far-infrared, vibrational transitions in the mid-infrared and near-infrared. Vibrational bands have rotational fine structure. Electronic transitions occur in the vacuum ultraviolet regions.

      Ice has a spectrum similar to liquid water.’ Wikipedia

      Liquid water has no rotational spectrum but does absorb in the microwave region. Pure water is transparent to visual frequencies but where do you find pure water?

      Emissions from solids occur with a grey body distribution dependent on temperature – the peak of the distribution changes with temperature in accordance with Wein’s displacement law.

      Gases in the atmosphere behave very differently as you are no doubt oblivious of. Greenhouse gases interact with photons at specific frequencies – they are transparent to other freuencies.

      Quoting from reputable sources – or in the case of Wikipedia something so freakin’ obvious to any but rampant fools – is far from random cut and paste but provides valuable information to those to seek reality rather than pull it out your arse nonsense. I suggest you try it sometime.

      • Rob Ellison,

        You really don’t understand do you?

        There is a simple numerical answer to my first question. You would obviously fail the course.

        In relation to the second, where water exists simultaneously in all three phases, you cannot accept this could possibly be true, as you will see where this would lead, based on your assertions.

        Once again, you would fail the course.

        Of course, you might choose to complain to the tolerably well respected professor who set the questions, and let him know just how silly and ill informed he is.

        Or maybe not.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • Flynn’s fisics course? Yeah right.

    • I will just fix my formatting.

      E = hv times however many photons you like.

      The absorption bands for CO2 cn be found readily on the internet – I believe I give absorption bands earlier.

      Follow up question – in standard water triple point cell, where the water exists in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms simultaneously, are different wavelength photons emitted by the different phases of H2O at the triple point temperature? Will the wavelengths from the cell change if the temperature rises by 0.00001 C?

      A very silly question. Solids and liquids behave very differently to gases.

      The absorption of electromagnetic radiation by water depends on the state of the water.

      The absorption in the gas phase occurs in three regions of the spectrum. Rotational transitions are responsible for absorption in the microwave and far-infrared, vibrational transitions in the mid-infrared and near-infrared. Vibrational bands have rotational fine structure. Electronic transitions occur in the vacuum ultraviolet regions.

      Ice has a spectrum similar to liquid water.

      Wikipedia

      Liquid water has no rotational spectrum but does absorb in the microwave region. Pure water is transparent to visual frequencies but where do you find pure water?

      Emissions from solids occur with a grey body distribution dependent on temperature – the peak of the distribution changes with temperature in accordance with Wein’s displacement law.

      Gases in the atmosphere behave very differently as you are no doubt oblivious of. Greenhouse gases interact with photons at specific frequencies – they are transparent to other freuencies.

      Quoting from reputable sources – or in the case of Wikipedia something so freakin’ obvious to any but rampant fools – is far from random cut and paste but provides valuable information to those to seek reality rather than pull it out your arse nonsense. I suggest you try it sometime.

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  56. This is a fine post. The Discussion section introduces things to consider more broadly. “Do both get fair hearings from policy makers and the public? What are the likely risks and consequences from our current policy approaches?”

    For example, What If:
    ACTION(1) is adopted but its assumptions are wrong? What happens?
    CHALLENGED(2)is adopted but its assumptions are wrong? What happens?
    NURTURE(3)is adopted but its assumptions are wrong? What happens?
    DELAY(4)is adopted but its assumptions are wrong? What happens?

    Your turn: You are in city X. Your job interview is in city Y. There is a long road and a short road between them. You are a bit low on gas. The short road has curves and precipices, but the long road has gas stations. You can just make the interview if you drive fast on the short road. (You have no cell phone.)

  57. The whole plan to reduce carbon emissions stems from the UN/IMF/IPCC fairy-tale of man-made global warming (through carbon dioxide emissions = anthropogenic global warming, AGW for short) which is altering the Earth’s climate, no less, to near extinction if all that hype were true.
    That man-made fairy-tale, however, is nothing but the biggest political and intellectual fraud ever.
    In arriving at this opinion, I rely on two sources:
    on what I have seen with my own eyes,
    on what I have read . Details at http://tinyurl.com/naexuho