Is much of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse?

by Judith Curry

Humanity is owed a serious investigation of how we have gone so far with the decarbonization project without a serious challenge in terms of engineering reality. – Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly has published an important new paper in MRS Energy & Sustainability: A Review Journal [link to abstract; link to full manuscript]:

Lessons from technology development for energy and sustainability

There are lessons from recent history of technology introductions which should not be forgotten when considering alternative energy technologies for carbon dioxide emission reductions. The growth of the ecological footprint of a human population about to increase from 7B now to 9B in 2050 raises serious concerns about how to live both more efficiently and with less permanent impacts on the finite world. One present focus is the future of our climate, where the level of concern has prompted actions across the world in mitigation of the emissions of CO2. An examination of successful and failed introductions of technology over the last 200 years generates several lessons that should be kept in mind as we proceed to 80% decarbonize the world economy by 2050. I will argue that all the actions taken together until now to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide will not achieve a serious reduction, and in some cases, they will actually make matters worse. In practice, the scale and the different specific engineering challenges of the decarbonization project are without precedent in human history. This means that any new technology introductions need to be able to meet the huge implied capabilities. An altogether more sophisticated public debate is urgently needed on appropriate actions that (i) considers the full range of threats to humanity, and (ii) weighs more carefully both the upsides and downsides of taking any action, and of not taking that action.

Press release from MRS E&S

Cambridge (UK) professor says much of the effort to combat global warming is actually making it worse

As part of an open discussion on the critical issue of energy, sustainability and climate change, MRS Energy & Sustainability—A Review Journal (MRS E&S) has published a paper in which Cambridge (UK) engineering professor M.J. Kelly argues that it is time to review the current efforts to reduce carbon emissions, some of which “represent total madness.” This paper is one of a series of articles in MRS E&S that, with varying opinions, address this controversial topic.

In his peer-reviewed article, Lessons from technology development for energy and sustainability, Kelly considers the lessons from global decarbonization projects, and concludes that all combined actions to reduce carbon emissions so far will not achieve a serious reduction. In some cases, these efforts will actually make matters worse.

Central to his thesis, which is supported by examples, is that rapid decarbonization will simply not be possible without a significant reduction in standards of living. The growing call to decarbonize the global economy by 80% by 2050 could only foreseeably happen alongside large parts of the population plunging into poverty, destitution or starvation, as low-carbon energy sources do not produce enough energy to sustain society. According to Kelly, “It is clear to me that every further step along the current pathway of deploying first-generation renewable energy is locking in immature and uneconomic systems at net loss to the world standard of living.”

As Kelly notes, it has been 40 years since the modern renewable energy developments began, and yet the fraction of world energy supplied by renewables (wind, solar and cultivated biomass sources combined) has hardly increased. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 reports 3 % for wind, solar and cultivated biomass sources combined, for 2014.

Kelly’s argument is that weaning off fossil fuels will take much longer than postulated by some experts. He suggests that a more viable option is to employ another generation of fossil fuels—during which economic conditions of humankind can be improved and alternate solutions can be explored and developed. As the global population is set to rise from 7 billion to 9 billion in 2050, an altogether more sophisticated debate is needed on appropriate actions that considers the full range of threats to humanity, and carefully weighs the upsides and downsides both of taking action—and refraining from it.

For a counter viewpoint to this article, see Energy and sustainability, from the point of view of environmental physics, by Micha Tomkiewicz.

Excerpts from the paper:

The paper is behind paywall, here are some extensive excerpts (bold mine, except for section titles):

Introduction

I have stressed above the role of individuals in the Royal Society taking a leading role in the debates: it continues to this day with individuals aligned on both sides. The one change from history is that a bylaw of the Society that stood for most of its history has been overturned in recent decades. Whereas once “…it is an established rule of the Society, to which they will always adhere, never to give their opinion as a body upon any subject either of Nature or of Art, that comes before them”, now the Royal Society plays an active role in the debate, coming at it from only one side, without adequate acknowledgement of the lack of unanimity within the fellowship.

Most of the engineering Fellows I have consulted have some reservations about the current stand, reservations that are reflected here. One should be able to look to the academies worldwide for an open, balanced, and full discussion of these matters, with engineering-level integrity when contemplating what actions to take: in practice, the level of ‘post-normal science’ (where the ‘facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent’) gets in the way. There is no such thing as post-normal engineering. There is an abundance of reports focusing on the energy needs of humanity and the sustainability of mass action, but relatively little acknowledgement of the upsides of present cities as a way for allowing large populations to live in some comfort.

Decarbonizing the world economy

I start by accepting the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report at face value, although I shall return to this towards the end.

I am concerned that what is done in the name of decarbonization should leave the world in a better place. I am sure that what has been done so far in the name of decarbonization is set to fail comprehensively in meeting its avowed target, and that a new debate is needed. If our emissions of carbon dioxide are causing the world to warm and lead into possibly difficult times in the future, it is important also to establish the upsides of such emission. Peter Allitt quotes: “The rising carbon dioxide footprint may be troublesome, but it is a side effect of the creation of immense benefits.”

Scale

It is important to note the scale of the perceived problem. The entire history of modern civilization that started with the first industrial revolution has been enabled by the burning of fossil fuels. Our mobility, our health and lifestyles, our diet and its variety, our education system, particularly at the higher level, and our high culture would be quite impossible without fossil fuels, which have provided over 90% of the energy consumed on the earth since 1800. Today, geothermal, hydro- and nuclear power, together with the historic biofuels of wood and straw, account for about 15% of our energy use. Even though it is 40 years since the first oil shocks kick-started the modern renewable energy developments (wind, solar, and cultivated biomass), we still get rather less than 1% of our world energy from these sources. Indeed the rate at which fossil fuels are growing is seven times that at which the low carbon energies are growing, as the ratio of fossil fuel energy used to total energy used has remained unchanged since 1990 at 85%. The call to decarbonize the global economy by 80% by 2050 can now only be described as glib in my opinion, as the underlying analysis shows it is only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society.

Energy Return on Investment

The debate over decarbonization has focused on technical feasibility and economics. There is one emerging measure that comes closely back to the engineering and the thermodynamics of energy production. The energy return on (energy) investment is a measure of the useful energy produced by a particular power plant divided by the energy needed to build, operate, maintain, and decommission the plant. This is a concept that owes its origin to animal ecology: a cheetah must get more energy from consuming his prey than expended on catching it, otherwise it will die. If the animal is to breed and nurture the next generation then the ratio of energy obtained from energy expended has to be higher, depending on the details of energyexpenditure on these other activities.

Weißbach et al. have analysed the EROI for a number of forms of energy production and their principal conclusion is that nuclear, hydro-, and gas and coal-fired power stations have an EROI that is much greater than wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), concentrated solar power in a desert or cultivated biomass: see Fig. 2 . In human terms, with an EROI of 1, we can mine fuel and look at it—we have no energy left over. To get a society that can feed itself and provide a basic educational system we need an EROI of our base-load fuel to be in excess of 5, and for a society with international travel and high culture we need EROI greater than 10. The new renewable energies do not reach this last level when the extra energy costs of overcoming intermittency are added in. In energy terms the current generation of renewable energy technologies alone will not enable a civilized modern society to continue!

Slide1Feasibility

Suppose the world unites and agrees to provide $1Tpa for ten years to mitigate future adverse climate change. What is the best strategy for spending that money for the reason given, namely to mitigate future climate change, and what will we be able to measure as the outcome of such an investment?

The answer is that no-one knows the latter now, or will ever know on the 2050 timescale. A crude calculation suggests that such a sum would allow the capture of all the CO2 from coal fired power stations over the next year, reducing global CO2 emissions by about 40%. But what difference would that actually make to the future climate, and would we be able to measure that difference as being attributable to the $1Tpa spent, and so even begin to assess the potential value-for-money of the investment?

What if the sun goes cool, or we have a spate of major volcanic eruptions: would we be able to isolate the contribution from the reduced CO2 emissions? No. It is sober to compare the sheer scale of this undertaking in view of the total uncertainty in the outcome. It is a current act of faith that investments in green energy projects are intrinsically good.

 

The scale of the different specific engineering challenges of the decarbonization project is without precedent in human history. This means that any new technology introductions need to be able to meet the huge implied capabilities. An appreciation of this sheer scale is very rarely admitted or even appreciated in many of the reports that advocate global decarbonization.

Generic lessons learned from introducing new technologies applied to decarbonization

As we decarbonize the world, we must improve the lot of humanity, not degrade it, and we must go with the flow of human progress not across or against it. Failure to appreciate these lessons could result in major investments not realizing their goals, with much of the investment having to be written off, representing lost opportunities to have done something else that was more effective.

Premature roll-out of immature/uneconomic technologies is a recipe for failure

The virtuous role of government funding in R&D is to be contrast with the litany of failure in recent times of subsidies in support of the premature rollout of technologies that are uneconomic and/or immature.

The primary problem is the use of public money, i.e., subsidies, to encourage the roll-out. They have a plethora of unintended consequences in the energy infrastructure sector. The reason so far for these failures is that the technologies are uneconomic over their lifecycles and immature in terms of the energy return on their investment.

There is an unintended and unwanted social consequence of the roll out of these new technologies. There is ample evidence in the UK of increasing fuel poverty (i.e., household spending over 10% of disposable income keeping warm in winter) in the regions of wind farm deployment where higher electricity bills are needed to cover the rent of the land (from usually already rich) landowners, a direct reversal of the process whereby cheap energy over the last century has lifted a significant fraction of the world’s poor from their poverty.

If the climate imperative weakens, so does the decarbonization imperative

In my view, the 2014 IPCC report was somewhat obfuscatory on this issue: there was no expert assessment of one key parameter, the climate sensitivity (the expected actual temperature rise for a doubling of CO 2 in the atmosphere), because of wide disagreements between models and data, and the current debate points to a lowering of the estimated range of values. In addition any prospect of a further reduction of the temperature rise over the next few decades (e.g., from the sun) gives us extra breathing space on new technology introductions.

This weakening of the timescale for future temperature rises has a direct policy implication in the here and now. Since the design lifetime of most fossil fuel plants is of order 40 years, the world would be wise to opt for another generation of fossil fuels to continue the improvement of the lot of mankind, while making a more determined effort over a longer time to develop real workarounds to the currently perceived problem of carbon dioxide emissions.

It is clear to me that every further step along the current pathway of deploying first generation renewable energy is locking in immature and uneconomic systems at net loss to the world standard of living. In view of the level of hard engineering evidence for this point that is already available, the romantic notion of sustainability at any cost, as opposed to hard-nosed sustainability, is indefensible. There should be a calling to account on how these matters came about.

The demographic transition

The population of the world started growing sharply at the time of the industrial revolution. In the 1960s, a qualitatively new feature emerged which will come to dominate demographics in the latter part of last century: the rate of growth of the population started to decline. As of now wherever the majority of people live in urban areas and have access to universal primary education (particularly for girls) the indigenous populations, are in absolute decline. This applies now in Europe, North America, and Japan. The drop in the fertility rates for child-bearing women in Europe is now so severe that Italy’s population will shrink from 61M to 8M and Germany from 80M to 4M over the century.

The population is predicted to grow to 9B by mid-century and to fall back, even to 7B by 2100. In one hundred years, the discourse will be on the possible uses of infrastructure for 2B people no longer alive on the earth. This future can be seen in certain parts of the world where depopulation has already started, as in the east of the former East Germany. Villages are vacated, buildings torn down—if left to decay they collect vermin and detract from the quality of life of the few who remain. This is now a more certain future than possible uncontrolled future climates.

This prospect has a major impact on the contemporary response to the perceived threats of future climate change. The infrastructure being planned now has to last only 100 years and should be designed for dismantling at the end of service life. The increased energy intensity of industry coupled with an eventually declining population is not as yet factored into the climate models.

JC reflections

This is a terrific paper, that I am still digesting, and will be working to incorporate some of this material into my public .ppt presentation on climate change.

I was particularly struck by:

  • Figure 2 and the EROI argument
  • The demographic argument, including the population decline in Europe
  • The idea of  sustainability at any cost, versus hard-nosed sustainability

But it is really the integration and exposition of all these points.  This is surely a compelling argument for anyone who cares about true sustainability and human well being.

When I have spoken with engineers at Georgia Tech, nearly all of them question the feasibility of a rapid transition away from fossil fuels (the ones that don’t question this have been civil/environmental engineers).

First it was the scientists, then the economists.  It is now time for the engineers to drive the discussion and policies on this issue.

227 responses to “Is much of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse?

  1. Pingback: Is much of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse? – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Modern society depends on always available power. If power goes down then society stops. There are no phones, no internet, no ATMs, no refrigeration, no sewage pumps – nothing, and if a large city like London is without power for more than 12 hours rioting and looting would quickly take hold. It is therefore inconceivable not to ensure that we have reliable energy at all times. So any energy infrastructure must be able to meet demand even on the coldest evening of the year in winter with no wind and no solar . For this reason Renewable energy can never under any realistic scenario meet that target. To imagine that battery prices could fall enough to make wind and solar backup such enormous power demands is simply a delusion. When and if heating and transport are electrified current power requirements would triple. Battery storage to power even a small country like the UK for 24 hours without wind would be the equivalent of exploding 6 1MT nuclear bombs.

    Someone sometime must do the sums to expose greenwash for what it really is – a scam.

  3. There is a lot even in this excerpt, and not much can be said without reading the full paper — and checking the citations. However this struck me as just odd:

    “As Kelly notes, it has been 40 years since the modern renewable energy developments began, and yet the fraction of world energy supplied by renewables (wind, solar and cultivated biomass sources combined) has hardly increased. “

    Consumer goods — with low cost and short lifetimes — have faster adoption rates than the systems that power electricity grids. Yet even these take decades to achieve high penetrations — but the curve is steep at the back end.

    The microwave oven was invented in 1945; the first commercial product was sold in 1947 — yet only 1% of US households owned one in 1971. 25% owned one by 1986 and 90% in 1997.

    Renewable energy systems have entered their “hockey stick” part of their “S” growth curve. Kelly’s pessimistic estimate looks premature.

    Also, I’d be interested to see the EROI calculations. In general these range from aggressive guessing to bogus. Comparing the costs of different systems requires many assumptions, given their different operating lifetimes, varying fuels (forecasts of the price of oil in 5 years are often off by 100%), and combination of operating and capital costs.

    None of this means that decarbonization by 2050 is reasonable, or even feasible. Like the 2%C warming limit, it seems plucked from the ether without adequate modeling — perhaps spurred by fears of the horrific but unlikely RCP8.5 nightmare scenario.

  4. There is a lot even in this excerpt, and not much can be said without reading the full paper — and checking the citations. However this struck me as just odd:

    “As Kelly notes, it has been 40 years since the modern renewable energy developments began, and yet the fraction of world energy supplied by renewables (wind, solar and cultivated biomass sources combined) has hardly increased. “

    Consumer goods — with low cost and short lifetimes — have faster adoption rates than the systems that power electricity grids. Yet even these take decades to achieve high penetrations — but the curve is steep at the back end.

    The microwave oven was invented in 1945; the first commercial product was sold in 1947 — yet only 1% of US households owned one in 1971. 25% owned one by 1986 and 90% in 1997.

    Renewable energy systems have entered their “hockey stick” part of their “S” growth curve. Kelly’s pessimistic estimate looks premature.

    Also, I’d be interested to see the EROI calculations. In general these range from aggressive guessing to bogus. Comparing the costs of different systems requires many assumptions, given their different operating lifetimes, varying fuels (forecasts of the price of oil in 5 years are often off by 100%), and combination of operating and capital costs.

    None of this means that decarbonization by 2050 is reasonable, or even feasible. Like the 2%C warming limit, it seems plucked from the ether without adequate modeling — perhaps spurred by fears of the horrific but unlikely RCP8.5 nightmare scenario.

    • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website said:

      Renewable energy systems have entered their “hockey stick” part of their “S” growth curve.

      That is an empirical claim which is demonstrably false.

      The only major economy in the world where investment in renewable energy is still in the ascendency is China. Everywhere else it has either stalled out or is in decline.

      • And it’s not at all clear whether ameliorating global warming is China’s agenda, or doing away with this:

      • Glenn,

        “Everywhere else it has either stalled out or is in decline.”

        That’s misleading on several grounds. New tech often rolls out in bursts — followed by absorption, innovation, and another burst. That was the pattern for railroads and canals in the 19th century (after the 1840s boom-bust you would have said that “RRs were so over”), and for many tech since.

        And dollars invested is just one metric. As prices decline (as in solar), same dollar investments yield larger gains in energy produced — one reason that renewables share of power generation continues to climb.

        Note that the source of your graph is more optimistic than you are about renewables: “GLOBAL TRENDS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENT 2016” by UNEP and Bloomberg.

        Also see these: “Wind and solar are growing at a stunning pace” at Vox. And “Seven charts show how renewable investment broke records in 2015” at Carbon Brief.

      • Glenn,

        “And it’s not at all clear whether ameliorating global warming is China’s agenda, or doing away with this:”

        Quite odd that you believe there can be only one reason for people’s actions. That’s not true for individuals, not true for nations.

      • Editor of the Fabius Maximus said:

        Quite odd that you believe there can be only one reason for people’s actions.

        We’ve had this conversation before. The bottom line is that China, given the choice, chose cleaning up smog and air polution at the expense of ameliorating global warming. Here’s our prior conversation:

        https://judithcurry.com/2016/05/21/week-in-review-energy-and-policy-edition-20/#comment-785336

        RE: China’s latest idea for cleaning up air pollution could be horrible for climate change
        http://www.vox.com/2016/5/20/11720320/china-coal-to-gas

        Smog and air polution are salient issues.

        CO2 and global warming are not.

        China’s biggest cities are choking on smog and air pollution emitted by nearby coal plants, and residents are fed up….

        Reuters reports that China has just approved three new plants in its western provinces that would turn coal into synthetic natural gas. The idea is that this gas would then be shipped to population centers in the east, where it would burn much more cleanly in power plants and detoxify the air in cities like Beijing.

        Except there’s a huge catch: The coal-to-gas (CTG) plants themselves are highly energy-intensive and can create far more CO2 overall than coal alone. It’s basically swapping less smog for more climate change.

    • afonzarelli

      Consumer goods are driven by market forces. Can we adequately say the same thing about renewables? If green hype is all that renewables have going for themselves, then they may have seen their peak already… RCP8.5 may also have been “plucked from the ether without adequate modeling”. The carbon growth rate tracks with temperature. Thus, any effort at reducing emissions with the hope of a reduction in carbon growth may well be an effort in futility…

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/graph/plot/esrl-co2/from:1958/mean:24/derivative/plot/hadcrut4sh/from:1958/scale:0.31/offset:0.09

    • Editor,

      The facts speak for themselves, and what the facts say is that the hallowed “renewables energy revolution” is a dud.

      The railroad revolution happened because railroads were a better mousetrap — faster, more economical, greater comfort for passengers, and greater hauling capacity for freight. Behind this better mousetrap was a simple reality: energy produced by burning coal and wood is far superior to energy produced by the metabolic processes of horses and mules.

      Energy produced by wind and solar is more expensive and less useful, due to its intermittency problems, than energy produced by fossil fuels or nuclear. Wind and solar are not a better mousetrap. And it cannot be said that wind and solar have not been given ample opportunity to show their stuff.

      Kelly summed it up very succinctly:

      • Even though it is 40 years since the first oil shocks kick-started the modern renewable energy developments (wind, solar, and cultivated biomass), we still get rather less than 1% of our world energy from these sources.

      • Indeed the rate at which fossil fuels are growing is seven times that at which the low carbon energies are growing, as the ratio of fossil fuel energy used to total energy used has remained unchanged since 1990 at 85%.

      • The call to decarbonize the global economy by 80% by 2050 can now only be described as glib in my opinion, as the underlying analysis shows it is only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society.

    • Larry,

      As I’ve noted several times, the utility I work for owns the second largest amount of utility owned wind generation in the US. It has been something like 3 years since we completed our last wind facility and we have no further build plans in the 20 year plan. In fact we sold all of our remaining lease options to another utility. We also are building a battery storage facility. The facility is primarily an experiment to see if it will help with outages in a rather remote part of our service territory. We have no plans for solar.

      There is a limit to how much wind can be a part of the generation portfolio. The wind industry uses 20%. Assuming it is a good number, that leaves just 80% to decarbonize. As Prof Kelly indicates, a little basic arithmetic and understanding of basic engineering tells us that decarbonization is a fool’s (or an idiot’s) idea of where to drive the world.

      • Timg56,

        I agree about the limited potential for wind — and the limit on the ability of interruptible sources to drive the electric power grid.

        But that’s missing the forest for the trees. It’s looking at the progress made so far and declaring “no further innovations are possible”. Not every path will work. But there are multiple lines of development under way. Long-term forecasts as to which will work are premature; predicting further progress looks like the safe bet.

        Of course, setting dates and goals — esp such short ones, esp given the long service life of grid power plants — is equally daft.

        “a little basic arithmetic and understanding of basic engineering tells us that decarbonization is a fool’s (or an idiot’s) idea of where to drive the world.”

        Yep. Just as bees can’t fly and powered flight is impossible. Keep track of those absurdly confident guesses! They’ll look good in the history books.

      • But that’s missing the forest for the trees. It’s looking at the progress made so far and declaring “no further innovations are possible”. Not every path will work. But there are multiple lines of development under way. …

        But they all suffer the same types of problems, moving mechanisms and sophisticated electronics in harsh environments, and to get reliability requires aerospace levels of sophistication of your technology, and the associated levels of costs.
        And did I mention it’s all spinning stuff in harsh environments?

        Keep track of those absurdly confident guesses! They’ll look good in the history books.

        You’re right about that!

      • Larry,

        I am a big believer in technology innovation. In fact I’ll be touching on it in my JA class in about 30 minutes. What I have doubts about are people push strategies which don’t work unless specific advances and breakthroughs happen.

        I can see technologies which make management of a distributed network possible, which be a boon to solar. I don’t see the same for wind. And as Michael Kelly points out, the odds of sufficient technologies reaching maturity by mid century isn’t anywhere close to being a sure thing. And without them decarbonization only happens with a drastic lowering of quality of life

  5. Curious George

    A quote from Micha Tomkiewicz’s “counter-viewpoint” paper: “It is based on the understanding that anthropogenic climate change is caused primarily by changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere due to dominant use of fossil fuels.” True, but not all climate change is anthropogenic. We are not sure why the last ice age ended. Climate change warriors want us to fight climate change as such, preaching from the comfort of Leo DiCaprio’s private jet.

    Most effort based on an insufficient understanding of a problem is necessarily wasted. Instead of building more Ivanpah power plants, we should develop working climate models first. That is not happening. Climatologists don’t even admit that models are wrong.

    • All ice ages ended this way. It snows less and ice depletes and then retreats and earth warms. Warm periods always end the other way. When earth is warm, more oceans are thawed, it snows more, ice is replenished until it advances and earth cools. This is simple stuff. Many people who I have talked to, do understand this, but most do not buck the alarmism and say so to others. Some, on Climate Etc have agreed with me openly, but not very many. Some still work and their jobs may depend on supporting alarmism. I have endorsement from one Weather Man who would most likely be fired if he openly agreed with me.

    • It is not as simple as that. Why do ice ages start? The last glaciation was not as severe as the Anglian – 400,000y ago. Both coincided with a minimum of the earth’s orbital eccentricity around the sun. The last interglacial was 3C warmer than today – why?

    • Curious George

      The ice age ended because the glaciers melted. Why? Because it does not snow enough in an ice age. Why then does the ice age not end before it starts?

      I like your cyclic hypothesis, but I consider it just a hypothesis, not a proven fact. Do you have a model based on physics showing how it works?

  6. Mike Jonas

    Michael Kelly is a Fellow of the Royal Society. He and other Fellows (about 40 I think) have been trying unsuccessfully to overturn the RS official position. Let us all hope that they succeed soon, and that they can overturn the RS leadership too. The RS can then start to save us from their former madness.

      • BTW He was just on BBC Radio 4 around 8.35am
        saying ‘The EU has to take a fresh look at the science and not stick with old dogma’

        ..This time he was talking about GMO’s not being dangerous.
        Indeed we had Guardian journalists yesterday saying that ‘It’s OK to have a different opinion to the science’
        That was in response to the Guardian’s Sunday version The Observer having an editorial saying in GMO’s are safe
        – Maybe he will get around eventually saying we need to take a fresh look at CAGW science.

  7. Is much of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse?

    If you believe the alarmist junk and alarmist model output, yes.
    If you look at actual climate data, no.

    • “Is much of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse?”
      “If you look at actual climate data, no.”

      I believe part of the point is that you have to look beyond just the climate data. For example, how many people die prematurely because efforts to combat global warming cause energy poverty to linger longer than would be the case otherwise?

  8. Hmmm.

    ==> “Michael Kelly is a Fellow of the Royal Society. He and other Fellows (about 40 I think) have been trying unsuccessfully to overturn the RS official position.”

    Well, he signs on to fallacious arguments like the Wall Street Journal editorial “Lysenko” alarmism. Ain’t going to get very far with that kind of shallow, political advocacy..

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204301404577171531838421366

    • Curious George

      He seems to be a scientist.

    • Well, he signs on to fallacious arguments like the Wall Street Journal editorial “Lysenko” alarmism.

      Oh, so he is an honest scientist. That won’t go over well with global warmers.

      • PA said:

        That won’t go over well with global warmers.

        Nope. An honest scientist will go over with global warmers about like a turd in the punch bowl.

      • ==> “Oh, so he is an honest scientist.”

        Yeah. Poor fella, stuck in a gulag.

    • Shallow.

      From the guy who has never gotten further than the inflatable kiddie pool.

      I’d call you two dimensional Josh, but that would be giving you credit for one dimension more than you have.

    • I assume the official position Kelly is trying to overturn is:
      “The one change from history is that a bylaw of the Society that stood for most of its history has been overturned in recent decades. Whereas once “…it is an established rule of the Society, to which they will always adhere, never to give their opinion as a body upon any subject either of Nature or of Art, that comes before them”, now the Royal Society plays an active role in the debate, coming at it from only one side, without adequate acknowledgement of the lack of unanimity within the fellowship.”

      If I read your reasoning correctly, your argument is that since Kelly has a personal opinion you disagree with he will fail in his attempt to stop the “Society” from giving opinions as a body. I suggest, instead, that you opine on whether it is a good idea for the Society to give an opinion as a body.

      • gjw2 –

        ==> “If I read your reasoning correctly, your argument is that since Kelly has a personal opinion you disagree with he will fail in his attempt to stop the “Society” from giving opinions as a body.”

        No, My point is that if someone’s willing to make such a bad argument, particularly one that exploits the horrors of Stalinism to score cheap points in the climate wars, then his advocacy probably won’t have much effect.

      • Joshua

        I wrote
        ==> “If I read your reasoning correctly, your argument is that since Kelly has a personal opinion you disagree with he will fail in his attempt to stop the “Society” from giving opinions as a body.”

        You replied
        “No, My point is that if someone’s willing to make such a bad argument, particularly one that exploits the horrors of Stalinism to score cheap points in the climate wars, then his advocacy probably won’t have much effect.”

        A distinction without a difference.

  9. Erratum: for “locking” read “lacking.”

  10. Human CO2 Fever Much Worse that Cigarettes for Society. What say the consensus? What say the government scientists? Here’s why we should believe in scientists and why red wine is good for us and now it’s not and why diet causes ulcers and now it doesn’t and why breakfast is the most important meal of the day but only if you sell Kellogg’s cereal or Florida orange juice and why you should avoid eggs because they’ll cause high cholesterol and why that is no longer true and how the food pyramid is real science and all of the old food pyramids were bad science and carrots are good for your eyes and since cows live exclusively on a vegetarian diet, so can you.

    We must believe the government scientists because the public is the real problem. Sure, sure, the global warming hoax is academia’s knowing deception on the people. But, the government’s scientists know the public; and, they have nothing but contempt for them and their employers. Who wouldn’t: as the country goes broke the voters continue to return the same dishonest anti-business people to public office. Just throw the public a bone like raising the minimum wage, again. It is dishonest because it does not help those it is supposed to help — just the reverse: that’s basic econ that is taught even in the public schools going back to the 60s during the first two years of prerequisite college courses in biology and sex education.

  11. Well, actually all of our effort to combat global warming is making things worse.

    Cold kills more people than warm. The global warmers have made an arbitrary choice that they would rather have people freeze to death than die from heat exhaustion.

    We couldn’t feed the large dinosaurs of the past with today’s plants. At 8°C warmer and 5 times the CO2 the plants would have practically grown back while the dinosaurs were still eating.

    Warm good, cold bad.

  12. “The growth of the ecological footprint of a human population about to increase from 7B now to 9B in 2050 … the finite world.”
    Key point: FINITE WORLD. I want to solve this problem first.
    If there is some way to reduce the world population back to 4-5 billion by 2100 while still maintaining the exponential growth rates of technology then let’s figure that out. Spare me the barbaric solutions of genocide, wars and euthanasia and look for answers that are humane and ethical using biological or physiological methods. Here’s an idea, ban pets! No dogs, cats, fish or birds. When you consider the costs in raw materials and supply chains with the care and feeding expenses we would save trillions and avoid millions of tons of waste and pollution over the next 50 years.

    • We only need some glide path back to about 7.3 billion (like today) by about 2100. And to insure 2050 population does not exceed about 9.2 billion by 2050. It is doable, but requires changes not yet in evidence among many populations, religions, and policies. See reference comment below.

      • But it’s still a finite world and time doesn’t end Dec. 31, 2099. Even if we drop back to 4-5 billion somehow we didn’t solve the problem – just delayed the point when critical resources deplete a bit farther down the road. Fortunately we can’t stop the exponential growth of technology so I won’t be surprised if the answers are ‘discovered’ before the clock runs out. I’m not so sure about the mental disorder of religion – that’s a tough one.

      • The ability to grow food is growing about twice as fast as the population.

        Convince the third world to level off and make some choices.

        The extra CO2 is going make more plants and more animals so things will be more vibrant. We just need to figure out how much of nature we want to leave natural.

      • PA,
        Food might not be the limiting factor. There are enough sources of carbohydrates and proteins and essential vitamins to prevent global starvation right now they just aren’t efficiently distributed. Fact is we could all survive on about 1/2 of what we grow now but we might have to give up having 23 varieties of bread, 130+ versions of soda pop and 66 different flavors of breakfast cereal etc.. I was thinking more about basic minerals and elements like iron, copper, nickle… But you are right about third world countries. Do you think if we brought them up to a high-school level of education they could figure it out on their own or will we have to go all the way to collage level?

      • jacksmith4tx | May 23, 2016 at 7:24 pm |
        PA,
        Food might not be the limiting factor.

        . Do you think if we brought them up to a high-school level of education they could figure it out on their own or will we have to go all the way to collage level?

        Anyone who has informed you that “just in time” food or minimal production can done and avoid starvation is an idiot.

        The world should be able to produce 2-3 times the amount of food needed. That way the annual variation in yield is a curiosity, not an issue.

        And I will be damned if I will become a vegan. I refuse to spit on the greatest achievement of my ancestors: climbing to the top of the food chain. Vegetables are what food eats.

        As far a the third world. Those of us in the north are smart because the dumbest 60-80% of our ancestors were killed off over thousands of years by difficult living conditions or never left to go north. The people near the equator are stupid. Some of the African countries have an IQ less than 70. Unless you are going to kill off the dumbest 60-80% (like nature did for us) there isn’t much that can be done. I don’t have a good solution.

        At least if we grow plenty of food we can keep them from starving while we work the problem. Who knows, maybe improving their standard of living and making them feel safe and secure is a solution.

      • PA, read my analysis and then get back with factual counters. In my farm world, beliefs and hopes don’t bring in the harvest. Reality does.

      • A link between wealth and breeding
        The best of all possible worlds?
        http://www.economist.com/node/14164483

        Income and fertility is the association between monetary gain on one hand, and the tendency to produce offspring on the other. There is generally an inverse correlation between income and fertility within and between nations. The higher the degree of education and GDP per capita of a human population, subpopulation or social stratum, the fewer children are born in any industrialized country. In a 1974 UN population conference in Bucharest, Karan Singh, a former minister of population in India, illustrated this trend by stating “Development is the best contraceptive.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_and_fertility

        Hans Rosling: Global population growth, box by box …

      • bernie1815

        Rud:
        I love your “In my farm world, beliefs and hopes don’t bring in the harvest. Reality does.” Quotation. I have used it twice today already. It brings out the Physiocrat in me,

      • ristvan | May 23, 2016 at 9:34 pm |
        PA, read my analysis and then get back with factual counters. In my farm world, beliefs and hopes don’t bring in the harvest. Reality does.

        There is nothing to counter. “We only need a glide path”, we aren’t in an airplane we don’t need a glide path.

        “And to insure 2050 population does not exceed about 9.2 billion by 2050”. Why? What is magic about 2050? What is magic about 9.2 billion?

        “It is doable, but requires changes not yet in evidence among many populations, religions, and policies. See reference comment below.”

        No it isn’t. You would have to lie and scaremonger a whole bunch to get people to give up that much control.

        Further discussion follows:

        As long as the populations don’t spread out and are mostly confined to urban areas, and the CO2 level (responsible for 40% of our food) keeps rising, we literally don’t care how many people are on the planet. The only thing that can limit food production and thus population is turning farmland into suburbs.

        The general consensus is the population will top out around 11 Billion. That’s fine.

        We haven’t begun industrial ocean farming yet. So the practical limit on the human population is probably unreasonably high.

        The lower the population the more options we have for retaining and managing wild areas. However CO2 spurs plant growth so the dynamics of wild areas are going to change (on top of all the spillover from human activities). The ecology was existing in starvation mode. Now that CO2 has made more food available the patterns will change.

        I am sympathetic to providing birth control to the third world and hoping they get with the program.

        We should be focusing more on getting off the planet. Keeping all our eggs in one basket is dumb.

        The combination of modern farming techniques, more CO2, and nuclear power (unlimited energy) will always prove Malthus wrong. Global warmers want to do the dumbest thing possible. Waste valuable land on energy production.

        The solution to the population increase (assuming we want to keep the US with some elbow room and not get overrun) is to ban immigration from countries that have more than low single digit population growth. The countries that don’t limit their population will simply increase their populations until they get tired of overcrowding. They will increase their population until their culture changes or shear discomfort forces them to stop.

    • jacksmith,

      It is not variety in food selections, it is transportation, storage and wasteful patterns of consumption.

      More than half of all food produced is lost to spoilage and waste. Even in the US.

      • timg56,
        I was suggesting third world populations don’t need our level of duplication in basic food stuffs,

        “More than half of all food produced is lost to spoilage and waste.”
        That should be printed* on 500 million T-shirts and sent to all the third world countries.
        *In the appropriate native language of course.

    • Key point: FINITE WORLD. I want to solve this problem first.

      This is easy, space.
      There are already multiple crushed planets full of all the metals we use and more, oceans of water and hydrocarbons, plus enough space to put that addition on the civilization we were thinking about.

      Or, we revert back to the 1900’s, except there will be legacy families with vast wealth and they will live in like kings. I like the the current cheap energy path, because even morons like me can still succeed, but I won’t be one of the lucky few in that other possible future. I’m afraid society has decided to take a suicide pill, but are too stupid to realize that the really rich aren’t planning on taking it, it’s those who can’t afford obscene energy prices who will be, you can even see how this type of thinking is playing out in Europe, just look at what people get to drive when oil is taxed to $10/gallon, and who’s driving the really nice cars.

      • micro6500,
        “This is easy, space.”
        Did I miss the memo where we solved the radiation problem?

        As to your alternate future I’ll be betting that the really rich will use genetic engineering to hyper evolve into a more advanced race. Once they have IQ’s over 200, telepathy, cancer immunity and 200+ year life spans what’s left of civilization 1.0 will worship them as gods.

  13. ”to combat global warming” that DOESN’T EXIST?!

    What about ”combating global cooling that doesn’t exist” also, ON SAME EXPENSE?! b] what about preventing the moon not to slam into the earth? It’s much bigger chance the moon to slam into the earth than CO2 to produce any global warming; BUT: for discount you guys can prevent all three; keep shoveling it – practice makes perfect…?…?!

  14. I have had via Bishop Hill a number of email exchanges with Prof. Kelly on energy matters, especially our differently nuanced views on liquid transportation fuels. This paper appears to be an outstanding extension of some basic ideas on which we had agreement. Have only read the post excerpts so far. Perhaps more after reading the whole thing.
    As to population and carrying capacity his numbers for 2050 and 2100 are close to mine (9.2 billion and 7.3 billion) albeit derived differently. Both numbers are derived via lengthly detailed analysis of future food and liquid fuels. Food provides the 2050 carrying capacity considering change in diet (more chicken, less beef because beef has a worse EROEI in terms of food calories), change in arable land (not much stuff left to plough up, and arable land is lost– just look around the Chicago suburbs), change in best practices yields (gets into GMO), change in spread of best practices globally (especially rice), change in crop pests, and unlimited virtual water. Liquid fuels (for ag, forestry, transportation) provides the 2100 (or there abouts) carrying capacity. All covered in ebook Gaia’s Limits. Warning. NOT a beach read. Serious factual deluge. Took three years to research and write.

  15. Duh. People are always over-complicating the obvious. You can encourage, but not force technological development. We need bridge solutions. If the bridge solutions cut air pollution, that’s the best bang for buck.

    • But these bridge “solutions” come at a huge cost to human flourishing, prosperity and well being, costs which the climatariat seeks to dismiss or ignore.

      • HG, you provide the exception that proves the rule. Aviation development of the jet engine enabled CCGT. Fracking has been around for decades. The real innovation was the ability to turn from vertical to horizontal drilling in a radius of just 750 feet. Hozontal drill frack of shale gas opens vast new vistas for electricity generation. My preference is to use the time to develop 4th gen nuclear, then switch to it using CCGT as a bridging technology. Eventually, all the shale gas will be more valuable as a home heating and cooking fuel, and possibly via Silurian Technologies catalysts a cost and efficiency effective way to synthesize liquid fuels, much better than FT.

      • There is one bridge currently under development. A hybrid that marries the CCGT and a gas reactor (several US patents). Gas reactor heats helium that drives helium turbo-compressor that in turn rotates the air compressor of a combustion turbine. We would be happy to forward details to those interested m.keller@hybridpwr.com.

  16. “The growth of the ecological footprint of a human population about to increase from 7B now to 9B in 2050…”

    “The population is predicted to grow to 9B by mid-century and to fall back, even to 7B by 2100. In one hundred years, the discourse will be on the possible uses of infrastructure for 2B people no longer alive on the earth.”

    All top-down intellectualism, neo-Malthusian then post-Malthusian. Margarine-Lite Ehrlich for the Ehrlich-intolerant. The people who have at last worked out that middle-class dominated societies don’t make lots of babies are now using that “discovery” to predict population decline, with neat round numbers for a neat round date. We even get a glimpse of vermin in deserted buildings because our 9B fell back to 7B.

    Just stop!

    Enough with these literal, mechanistic, simplistic extrapolations. Trends end. You didn’t see them coming because you were staring at the old ones going. And you’re not seeing the new ones coming now for the same reason. This is why we have those useful adverbs, “now” and “then”.

    The unknowable future is being influenced in unknown ways by unknown people (though there are probably hungry, snarly, junk-food fuelled, hormone-boosted dropouts among them.) What they need is divine dissatisfaction, huge curiosity, a capacity to surprise and be surprised…and freedom above all.

    Don’t plan for 9B then 7B. Plan to get out of the way. Plan freedom.

    • ‘What they need is divine dissatisfaction, huge curiosity,
      a capacity to surprise and be surprised…and freedom
      above all.’
      … Serfs luv this! Plus heaps, moso. Enuff of these literall,
      mechanistic, simplistic extrapolations from mal-thusian ‘n
      ehr-lichian doom-sayers.

      • Remember this from kim
        non-pareil?

        “Wage, wage war
        against the lying
        and the fright.”

      • Remember the “future” of education? Bill Gates came to Oz and showed the PM a CD ROM. So we wasted a fortune on CD ROMs and Encarta.

        Then the “future” – eight years ago it was so obvious! – lay in portable computers in every school room. Whew, what a junk pile we got from the Education Revolution.

        What’s next? Just keep Elon Musk away from whoever is Prime Minister or the tips, ditches and junk yards will be full of old Powerwalls in ten years.

        Bugger the future. Stay thrifty, stay open, stay skeptical, stay free.

        The “free” is the important bit.

      • Glenn: Be a learner, not learned? That’s anti-intellectual. You then show a future plot of German taxpayer per pensioner approaching unity.

        I think the learners are seeing robots filling that gap by increasing productivity while the learned bath in nostalgia of a static world. The 1950-2015 drop from over 6 to less than 3 was made up with productivity. The continued drop down to 1.5, then flattening seems manageable going forward as technology progressively replaces human labor.

      • David Springer

        Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

      • Horst Graben said:

        I think the learners are seeing robots filling that gap by increasing productivity while the learned bath in nostalgia of a static world. The 1950-2015 drop from over 6 to less than 3 was made up with productivity. The continued drop down to 1.5, then flattening seems manageable going forward as technology progressively replaces human labor.

        Well that’s certainly what the techno-utopians and techno-triumphalists believe. To wit:

        AK | May 24, 2016 at 10:08 am |

        Take solar PV, for instance. In principle, you could build automated factories that sit in the desert (or a desert shore) building solar PV cells using power from the sun. Parts of that power might come from previously built PV, other parts might come from focused sunlight. (Thus short-circuiting much of the structure otherwise needed for melting silica and silicon.)

        You could also build automated factories to produce PV factories. You could build automated factories to produce those factories to build factories. Etc.

        In principle, again (practice might take a little more effort), you could build the entire system of factories, starting with a small number/amount, which would then expand exponentially as long as the managers kept the needed levels of production set that high.

        Given the proper technology, and the proper programming of its IT resources, a management crew of perhaps a few thousand could actually control the growth and stabilization of such a system to the point that it could supply the entire (electrical) energy for the world. (Say, 100TW by 2075.)

        This would be true even if the ERO(E)I for PV, counting the whole system, were in the range of 3-4. The whole rest of the world’s population could have an energy-rich lifestyle without large numbers of them having to spend time working in (or in support of) the energy supply industry.

        https://judithcurry.com/2016/05/23/is-much-of-our-effort-to-combat-global-warming-actually-making-things-worse/#comment-785843

        This is not the first time, I should point out, that we have heard this.

        Trotsky’s and Stalin’s Promethean vision, for instance, was informed by surrealism, futurism, and other intellectual movements such as the Cosmists and Blacksmith groups.

        For Stalin, the intelligenstia

        had to focus their attention on the construction of the new way of life. The new intelligenstia thus had to be a technical elite to construct the new socialist order. This meant that the older humanistic intelligensia would have to be eliminated and…replaced by a positive doctrine of authority.

        — MICHAEL ALLEN GILLESPIE, Nihilism before Nietzsche

      • Trotsky’s and Stalin’s Promethean vision, for instance, was informed by surrealism, futurism, and other intellectual movements such as the Cosmists and Blacksmith groups.

        Total straw man.

        The point I was illustrating had to do with the unwarranted nature of assuming a fixed ratio of labor (and unpleasant labor at that) to energy production or use. This unwarranted assumption, in turn, is used in arguments that an energy source with a low ERO(E)I implies an unpleasant lifestyle.

        It works just as welling for fracking (or sea-floor methane hydrate) for that matter: Just because you end up using, say, half the energy you dig out of the ground (or sea-bottom) in the extraction process doesn’t mean that, given modern automation, the entire process can’t be controlled by a few thousand people, working short hours in comfortable, climate-controlled, environments.

        Or, for that matter, working from home, or an internet office close to home, guiding the (somewhat) intelligent robots that actually do the work. Both of getting the fuel, and manufacturing the tools needed to get the fuel.

      • AK,

        Let’s tie two ends of this thread together, so that people can get a full picture of what it is you believe is possible:

        https://judithcurry.com/2016/05/23/is-much-of-our-effort-to-combat-global-warming-actually-making-things-worse/#comment-785872

        Well, I did say “in principle”. The fact that it’s cheaper to use off-the-shelf resources (including energy) for making solar PV doesn’t mean it isn’t feasible. Just not cost-competitive at the moment.

        Anyway, the analyses I happen to be most interested in are space-based: the potential for creating a self-growing factory complex on and in orbit around the Moon, capable of creating an exponentially growing supply of space-based power collectors and transmitters.

        AFAIK the technology isn’t completely there yet, but there’s nothing that requires any sort of scientific breakthrough. Just “routine” research and development. Along with productive design (as opposed to straw men arguments based on poorly-though-out “designs”.)

      • that nothing on Earth is impossible

        Actually, with the condition that it isn’t prohibited by science (including science we don’t know or understand yet), everything humans have envisioned, we’ve pretty much made.
        Look around you, the world is full of magic to a man from the 1600’s, ray guns, atomic bombs, man on the moon, flying cars, horseless carriages, and much, much more.

        Now, there are also a lot of things we could do, but for many reason we don’t or shouldn’t do. Using solar for most of our electric supple is one of these.

      • Now, there are also a lot of things we could do, but for many reason we don’t or shouldn’t do. Using solar for most of our electric supple is one of these.

        It’s gonna happen. It’ll happen because it’ll be cheaper than any other option.

        Storage? I can only guess. Best guess: power→gas/liquid fuel. Low energy efficiency (~30% round trip IIRC), but much lower costs and can leverage investments in gas and fuel infrastructure, as well as avoiding conversion costs for vehicles, much heating, etc. And as solar panels get exponentially cheaper, the cost of energy from them will do so also.

        Another possibility? Pumped hydro using deep-sea lower reservoirs. The pump/generator technology is mature, the technology for mass-produced deep-sea reservoirs easily designed using current materials.

        An advantage of this technology is that it would provide spinning reserve in support of frequency stabilization. Something like this could be built off-shore from many/most cities, allowing ready access to both storage and other advantages, with no visual impact. (And, given good design, little to no environmental impact.)

        There may have been a recent breakthrough in super-caps, but I’m waiting to hear more, and anyway this looks more like something that would smooth short-term transitions between solar and CCGT.

      • It’s gonna happen

        If wishes were rainbows, which reminds me of a commercial for a stool to improve your seating position, that’s something I’ll never forget.

        It’ll happen because it’ll be cheaper than any other option

        But so far it’s still 3 or 4 times too expensive (if not more), and why don’t I see any accelerated life test data on panels?
        Now I know, they haven’t been doing it until recently and they have published any real results, doesn’t look good for team solar.
        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/business/energy-environment/solar-powers-dark-side.html?_r=0

      • But so far it’s still 3 or 4 times too expensive (if not more), […]

      • Let’s tie two ends of this thread together, so that people can get a full picture of what it is you believe is possible:

        Looks like another straw man to me.

        Yes, I would agree with most proponents of space solar power that the notion is feasible, given predictable near/mid-term technology.

        I’d go farther than that, and predict that by the end of this century, space solar power will be the main thrust of new power acquisition efforts.

        But, for the moment, surface-based solar power is heading for economic dominance, based on current progress. Virtually every argument I’ve seen here against that prediction is a straw man, usually based on primitive and unwarranted design assumptions. Or less.

        I figured out in the ’90’s that space solar power isn’t going to happen until people get tired of cluttering up the surface (and perhaps lower atmosphere) with collectors. And since, by “surface”, I mean surface of mostly lifeless ocean far from any human habitation, that will imply a major expansion of environmentalist efforts.

        Or, perhaps, at some point creating the “seed” technology will be so cheap that somebody will do it on spec, and hope to sell the exponentially growing amounts of power when it matures.

      • But, for the moment, surface-based solar power is heading for economic dominance, based on current progress. Virtually every argument I’ve seen here against that prediction is a straw man, usually based on primitive and unwarranted design assumptions. Or less.

        Ah, okay then you likely don’t understand about the reliability of electronic systems, and the environment solar panel systems operate in.
        A system of 10 Panels each with a 40 year warranty, has a calculated MTBF before there’s a panel failure that will reduce output on 8-10 years. And that didn’t include the inverters, and Li Batteries in laptops last maybe 3-5 years. When you start getting 10’s 100’s of million panels, and then 10-20-30% start failing out after 10 years, how many free panels need to be made and given away? And how long does that business stay in business.

        Unless electricity is 25-30 cents per kWhr. Right now mines about 7 cents.

        I was just out, there was a police portable radar unit with it’s single panel tilted up, turned off, charging, while across the street was a bobcat end loader doing real work.

      • Science and the occult were essentially tied at the hip during the Enlightenment.
        The key heresy that was introduced by Hermeticism and brought full into the Western philosophical tradition by Hegel is the notion that God seeks fulfilment in the advance of man, a sort of ‘let’s meet in the middle’ notion.

        This quickly led to man’s quest to use technology to, essentially, become God.

        Freemasonry. Bolshevism. All the same heresy.

        We can do anything!!!!!!

      • “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

      • A system of 10 Panels each with a 40 year warranty, has a calculated MTBF before there’s a panel failure that will reduce output on 8-10 years. […] When you start getting 10’s 100’s of million panels, and then 10-20-30% start failing out after 10 years, how many free panels need to be made and given away? And how long does that business stay in business.

        Another straw man argument.

        Why do you think the warranty structure will be the one you projected?

        At current growth rates, solar panels drop by around 50% in cost every 5 years. This means that the replacement cost (excluding shipping) will be around 1/4 of the original cost (to the manufacturer). Let’s suppose 100% replacement after 10 years, the actual cost to the manufacturer will be 125% of their original manufacturing cost. Another replacement after another 10 years: 131.25% of their original manufacturing cost. Etc.

        If they price their warranty accordingly, then all they’re doing is taking the risk that the exponential price decline ends. (And they have the use of that money for 10 years.) Customers, OTOH, have the choice of paying less and covering anticipated replacement costs themselves. Then they have the use of that money. They also don’t have to take the risk that the warrantor goes out of business.

        There are many models for how the technology is to be financed, and as usual in finance there are plenty that are shady, taking advantage of invalid counter-party assumptions.

        That says nothing about the technology.

      • At current growth rates

        They’re going to run out of fools who swallow that hook without understanding roi, which only works with high kWhr rates, light usage, and or long payback times. You have to have really expensive equipment to make really big cells, or to make a whole lot at once, this and improvements in lithography is what drives Moore’s law, and solar has had a period of high growth, but it was all subsidized. And it doesn’t depend on lithography.
        Plus this does nothing to solve the physics that drive semiconductor failure rates, volume doesn’t fix that. In fact a roof in the Sun on a humid day is a lot like the life test ovens we used.

        So, if my comments are a straw man, you’re blowing a lot of sunshine that hasn’t happened yet, and might not even be possible.

      • Plus this does nothing to solve the physics that drive semiconductor failure rates, volume doesn’t fix that. In fact a roof in the Sun on a humid day is a lot like the life test ovens we used.

        More straw-man nay-saying. Sure, there are cheapskate manufacturers out there, but using them as representative examples of the entire industry, much less the technology, is sheer straw-mannery.

        Certifying bodies around the world perform PV module testing to IEC standards. Modules that are qualified to IEC standards are much more likely to survive in the field and not have design flaws leading to premature failure, or “infant mortality,” as it is known in the industry. An NREL study, reporting on ten years of field results, showed that unqualified modules suffered from 45 percent field failure rates while qualified modules suffered from a less than 0.1 percent field failure rate. [my bold]

        “There is a wide spectrum of sophistication, quality, and performance when it comes to technology products,” Jenya Meydbray, CEO of technical solar due diligence firm PV Evolution Labs, wrote in Renewable Energy World, “from cameras to computers, from mobile phones to motorcycles.” Solar panels are no different. Based on the hundreds of solar panels that have gone through rigorous reliability testing in the PV Evolution laboratory, the vast majority of modules have proven to perform very well.

      • Here, so only half are trash, and the other ones might be okay, but it’ll cost you $3,000 to know which ones.

        from http://www.greentechmedia.com/research/report/pv-module-reliability-scorecard-2014
        But if you keep digging
        http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/64998.pdf
        note, towards the end they discuss the delaminated conductive tape, and localized heating, this is at 8 years. Now what happens when you have localized heating of aluminum conductors in semi-conductors is along the grain boundaries, the metal starts to pull apart (nucleation voiding), did you know these have millions of amperes of current per sq cm?
        Anyways, at 8 years, these panels are all in the process of failing, anytime you have conductors with hot spots like this, they’ll likely get worse and worse.
        Here’s SunPower in 2010 presentation that they need to put a reliability testing program together
        http://us.sunpower.com/sites/sunpower/files/media-library/white-papers/wp-qualification-manufacturing-reliability-testing-methodologies-deploying-high-reliability-solar.pdf

        Module warranties

        In the early 90s, 10 year warranties were typical. Today, almost all manufacturers offer 20-25 year warranties. But a 25 year warranty doesn’t mean your project is protected. Will your module supplier be around in 15 years when you have problems? Do they fund an escrow account to ensure that if they are gone, you still will be protected? Do they rely only on IEC qualification tests to make claims about long-term durability? If they have only been around for five years, how can they claim that their modules last for 25? The increase in length of warranties is promising, but an investor or developer must carefully review the company providing it.

        Conclusion

        Module reliability and durability are separate issues that a potential investor must consider independently. PV modules can fail in many ways, but the risk seems relatively low based upon module reliability studies. However, little public data is available on actual field results to verify the studies. A project with narrow margins could be impacted by even very small losses in generation or increased O&M. Even when backed by a warranty, failure rates drive lost revenue for investors, developers and plant operators. As such, a potential investor should carefully consider a module manufacturer’s track record, qualification tests, reliability forecasts and warranty coverage before investing in a project.

        http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/print/pvw/volume-3/issue-2/solar-energy/the-bottom-line-impact-of-pv-module-reliability.html
        And did you notice the high failure rates for inverters (~50%)? I always suspected they’d be a problem (everything electronics that gets warm, has higher failure rates, period, the hotter it is the worse it is), but hadn’t heard many discuss them.

        The other thing to note is, most of these reports come from solar power advocates. NREL while a government agency is really an advocate. But you read through the history the solar industry is just now deciding what the right test plan is, and most of these panels haven’t been in use for a decade yet. There isn’t a lot of reports of reliability of systems, but the big systems have staff constantly cleaning and repairing them.

        I’m glad you note the similarities (one of your links maybe?) to semiconductor tech, as I spent 3 years doing Integrated Circuit failure analysis @ Harris Semiconductor, and then another 3 years @Litton in a Mil/Aero Reliability group for avionics electronics.
        @Harris. My boss was unloading a lifetest cell, and was plugging away at a calculator, and said the parts coming out of the oven had over a 1,000 year MTBF, and I asked why would we do that(ie make something that’ll last over 10 generations)? He said that when you put a bunch of them together, the system might only last a couple years.

      • And did you notice the high failure rates for inverters (~50%)? I always suspected they’d be a problem (everything electronics that gets warm, has higher failure rates, period, the hotter it is the worse it is), but hadn’t heard many discuss them.

        Well, I don’t usually discuss them because I’m focused on applications that don’t (necessarily) need inverters: power→gas/liquid fuel, on-supply pumping (irrigation, water supply, etc.), on-supply desalination, even pumped hydro storage could us DC pumps, although I’m not sure whether the economics would work.

        See below, in addition. Another point, that also applies to PV as well as other power electronics: by the time this technology rolls out to handle 5-20% of world energy demand, IMO it will require, and have, active cooling. Probably using heat pipes, and if it’s floating water from below as the ultimate heat sink. But pumped water cooling is also a (fairly) mature technology. If we can manufacture throw-away plastic soda bottles, we can manufacture pumped water cooling systems at similar prices.

        I asked why would we do that(ie make something that’ll last over 10 generations)? He said that when you put a bunch of them together, the system might only last a couple years.

        I don’t wan’t to hurt your feelings, but this is tantamount to another straw-man argument. Most of my design work has been in IT systems, but I certainly understand redundancy, and active replacement process.

        This isn’t rocket science. Build your solar farms so if a module fails (or the attached inverter if any), it doesn’t knock out the whole system, and build a process to detect the failure and schedule a replacement. It’s just routine design work. So your system that “might only last a couple years” is vastly over-designed (for solar farms). If you have 1000 systems in parallel (with no propagating failure) and 10 are failing every month, you just have process to schedule a replacement of the failing module, on average once every 3 days or so.

        Cheapest way might be to build the replacement functionality into the robots that perform the daily washing cycle, and design their control programs to read the replacement queue and load the necessary panels (very rarely more than 2) at the beginning of their cycle.

        Obviously, the extra cost of a robot with more functionality would have to be balanced against the lower cost of modules (panels?) with an acceptable failure rate.

        But my own experience in business process design tells me that a regular routine to deal with a regular failure or other event is usually cheaper and less trouble in the long run than spending extra on reducing the failure rate to the point that when it does happen, everybody’s running around like chickens with their heads cut off digging into dusty manuals (or the electronic equivalent). Been there, done that, threw away the T-shirt.

      • But my own experience in business process design tells me that a regular routine to deal with a regular failure or other event is usually cheaper and less trouble in the long run than spending extra on reducing the failure rate

        So basically you agree with me now that the long term reliability is questionable, and you’re suggestion for homeowners, who already have multiple decade ROI’s they should buy a robot to maintain them (of course I jest, but isn’t there always some truth in humor)?

        Solar is a barely break even technology that was looking for someplace to call home.

      • So basically you agree with me now that the long term reliability is questionable, and you’re suggestion for homeowners, […]

        Nope. IMO rooftop solar is a boondoggle only valuable for bragging rights (“status symbol”). I’m talking about utility or production level.

        [… T]hey should buy a robot to maintain them (of course I jest, but isn’t there always some truth in humor)?

        Yes, but your humor, like your straw-man arguments, are basically orthogonal to the truth. Rooftop solar is one big straw man when it comes to solar PV technology or cost-effectiveness. It only really applies to arguments about historical subsidies.

        For businesses that are considering investing in solar PV farms, there is a trade-off between robotic and human labor. And considering the very routine nature of the work involved in cleaning and replaciing, a robotic solution may well be cheaper. In the future if not now.

        There’s also a trade-off between expensive modules with a long MTF, and inexpensive modules with a shorter MTF. I’m saying a solution based on inexpensive modules and a routine process for detection and replacement may well be more cost-effective. Even without the decline in replacement costs. And with it…

        Solar is a barely break even technology that was looking for someplace to call home.

        Wrong perspective: solar wasn’t really “break-even” even 5 years ago. 5 Years from now, it’ll be “break-even” in many more applications.

        Granted, a variety of “subsidies” were used to stimulate the growth of its deployment, but Wright’s law would appear to work regardless of subsidies (or not) and solar is just about over the hump by now.

        At this point, I very much doubt the subsidies will be given up on, since that would convert the previous expenditures to sunk costs, but they will be eased off as the technology takes off on its own, and as more applications show a profit without subsidies, IMO there’ll be much more innovative design work put into lowering the costs for investors. And users.

      • IMO rooftop solar is a boondoggle

        Good, we agree, it only makes sense when you get up over 20-30 cents/kWhr

        I’m talking about utility or production level.

        : solar wasn’t really “break-even” even 5 years ago.

        I’m not sure how close to even it is now, but again, there are spot applications where it could make a lot of sense. But you can’t put a big solar array in New Mexico, and pump power to NYC, without a lot of energy lost along the way.

        But my complaint is that solar is sold to unsuspecting people who buy in on a 15-30 year roi, and are not told that in all but very simple systems, they are likely going to have expensive failures that will also have an roi.

      • Good, we agree, it only makes sense when you get up over 20-30 cents/kWhr

        I suppose. For the moment. I haven’t looked at the numbers.

        But costs are coming down dramatically, and “making sense” at 5-7¢/kWhr will probably happen. Within a decade if not less.

        This because most of the cost is in BOS, especially mounting and labor/permitting for mounting. With proper product and process design, a rooftop system could be custom designed from space view, custom manufactured using a “smart” assembly factory, and installed with minimum labor and expense.

        Given the custom design and assembly, an automated permitting process could be set up to submit the design to the local regulators, whose automated system could approve systems within standard parameters without any human intervention needed. (I don’t say it will happen that way, local bureaucracies have a vested interest in human intervention.)

        But you can’t put a big solar array in New Mexico, and pump power to NYC, without a lot of energy lost along the way.

        Well, from the standpoint of the technology I’m talking about, that’s almost another straw man.

        Granted, power→gas/liquid fuel might have a low energy efficiency, say 30% round trip (PV output bus to CCGT output bus), but when the cost of solar PV gets low enough, it’ll probably be cost-effective. IMO. No inverters needed, electrolytic and CO2 capture technologies will have a larger capital expense for intermittent on-supply operation than if they run full-time, but the costs for that technology will also probably decline exponentially due to Wright’s “law”.

        But the costs per unit energy for shipping gas are orders of magnitude lower than electric transmission, the technology is just as mature, and the rapid growth of natural gas powered CCGT means all the infrastructure will be in place for conversion.

        But my complaint is that solar is sold to unsuspecting people who buy in on a 15-30 year roi, and are not told that in all but very simple systems, they are likely going to have expensive failures that will also have an roi.

        How is that different from anything else in the construction trade? At least with new technology?

        But, as I said above, using rooftop solar as a proxy for solar PV technology is a straw man. Solar PV has enormous potential for replacing fossil carbon in our energy infrastructure, and its continuing exponential decline in cost makes it look like the most probable outcome. To me, anyway.

        P.S. In the picture above a “lease” is mentioned. Personally, I’ve been skeptical of “leases” at the consumer level since the widespread advent of auto leasing. But in this case, the leasing companies are big boys, and if they haven’t looked at the numbers that’s their lookout. I doubt a consumer would be required to continue paying the lease on a rooftop system that wasn’t working.

      • Solar PV has enormous potential for replacing fossil carbon in our energy infrastructure, and its continuing exponential decline in cost makes it look like the most probable outcome. To me, anyway.

        I was thinking about this, and if I was running a business that had a need for a large amount of energy, with high energy costs. And thought about investing millions in solar, and let’s presume I had free space to put it, I’d hope someone would slapped me upside the head, investing all that money where it can work only a small fraction of the day? The ROI would have to be spectacular, and we know it’s not.
        The software i work with has an ROI in a year or two, and that was sometimes hard to get buy in for.

      • I’d hope someone would slapped me upside the head, investing all that money where it can work only a small fraction of the day? The ROI would have to be spectacular, and we know it’s not.

        Well, Walmart installed a bunch of solar and is using it to produce hydrogen for its new fleet of fuel cell forklifts.

        Granted, they depended (partly) on solar “subsidies” for their cost/benefit ratio, and (AFAIK) they haven’t completely closed the loop on H2 generation, but costs are still coming down, and I’m talking about what will be feasible with future costs, not necessarily today’s.

        As I see it, this sort of thing could become cost-effective for farming. Solar panels to produce energy for electrolysis, fuel cells to power the equipment. It could perhaps eliminate an ongoing expense, as well as a risk from price fluctuations. New Holland unveiled a prototype in 2011, perhaps a bit ahead of its time.

        But all the technology is maturing rapidly, and all they have to do is bolt the pieces together. Once the PV (and electrolytic cells) get cheap enough.

      • Space-based solar power. … Gee I hope they don’t have a control system malfunction and inadvertantly incinerate Las Vegas. Come to think of it, a concentrated solar plant just did incinerate part of itself.

      • Gee I hope they don’t have a control system malfunction and inadvertantly incinerate Las Vegas.

        Just the sort of ign0rant, straw-man, nonsense I’d expect, considering the source.

      • micro6500 said:

        PV modules can fail in many ways, but the risk seems relatively low based upon module reliability studies. However, little public data is available on actual field results to verify the studies.

        Sounds like CAGW “science” writ large to me.

    • Declining population comes with its own can of worms too.

      Ratio of Workers to Retirees Will Plummet Worldwide
      http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/ratio-of-workers-to-retirees-will-plummet-worldwide1/

      As a nation’s population ages, more and more older people may draw from support systems such as Social Security, yet fewer workers may be around to pay into those systems. The problem is more dire than we think. The ratio of workers to retirees will drop precipitously in numerous countries worldwide this century, potentially sending nations into a financial tailspin….

      The “potential support ratio”—the number of people aged 20-64 divided by the number of people aged 65 or over— in many countries will plummet.

      The ratio, the report authors noted, “can be viewed very roughly as reflecting the number of workers per retiree.”

      • Glenn,

        You strain credibility by referencing Sci American.

      • Pat Buchanan’s take: If abortion is reasonable to get rid of unwanted babies (for the social good), perhaps we will see the day seniors are put down to save $ (and for the social good).

  17. For a long time I’ve been saying that due to the laws of Enerconics, that the only way to physically reduce energy usage is to reduce GDP.

    In the article:
    Enerconics: The Relationship between Energy and GDP** I make the case that the cost** of raw materials is almost exactly correlated with the energy required to produce those raw materials. Then similarly the largest cost** of transport is — energy. Likewise of manufacturing excluding labour – after we account for input raw materials or other manufactured input & transportation. But since the cost of labour is largely related to the cost of goods – which in turn are strongly related to energy costs … the cost of anything primarily seems to depend on the total energy consumed in supplying it to a consumer.

    And therefore reversing the relationship, the energy used in supplying goods can be predicted reasonably reliably solely by the price.

    So, when we talk about “more expensive energy” like wind and solar, what we are actually saying is that far more energy is consumed in making that energy to the supplier than for fossil fuels. Thus if coal produces energy at $0.1/kwh and wind costs $0.3/kwh, then for each kwh of wind, we can estimate that it consumes 2kw of energy delivering that 1kwh of wind “energy”.

    And furthermore, it follows that any attempt to grow the size of the economy must result in an increase in energy consumption and the only way to reduce the energy consumption is to either drop GDP per person, or to reduce the population.

    **All costs are inflation adjusted.

    • For a long time I’ve been saying that due to the laws of Enerconics, that the only way to physically reduce energy usage is to reduce GDP.

      I think it’s just the opposite.

      The only way to reduce energy usage is to increase GDP.

      Undeveloped economies lack infrastructure, making them inefficient users of energy, and have high rates of population growth, making them greater potential consumers of energy.

      With economic development comes an eventual decline in both energy consumption per capita and population. Since most countries are now economically developed, improving growth means improved efficiency and reduced fertility.

      Now, the remaining undeveloped economies will use more energy as part of infrastructure growth. But the pattern is strongly exhibited – economic development ultimately reduces human footprint. And that’s part of the irony that the Erhlich types preached austerity, but growth reduces population.

  18. David L. Hagen

    EROI, Sustainability & Climate
    Finally, Kelly addresses the very serious issues in well being vs energy vs climate with a hard nosed engineering perspective. As a engineer, I strongly affirm Kelly’s points relative to existing technology and the abysmal lack of validation and reality versus politically driven wishful thinking in current climate modeling and policy making.
    Bill Gates similarly echoes Bjorn Lomborg :

    But even as we push to get serious about confronting climate change, we should not try to solve the problem on the backs of the poor. For one thing, poor countries represent a small part of the carbon-emissions problem. And they desperately need cheap sources of energy now to fuel the economic growth that lifts families out of poverty. They can’t afford today’s expensive clean energy solutions, and we can’t expect them wait for the technology to get cheaper.
    Instead of putting constraints on poor countries that will hold back their ability to fight poverty, we should be investing dramatically more money in R&D to make fossil fuels cleaner and make clean energy cheaper than any fossil fuel.

    Charles Hall specialized in examining the biophysical foundations and limitations of energy in numerous publications and his book: Energy and the Wealth of Nations ( etc. Hall was editor for a special edition of Sustainability on EROI
    Hall’s most worrisome finding is the strong decline in EROI for oil and gas.

    World oil and has a mean EROI of about 20:1. That for publicly traded companies has declined from 20:1 in 1995 to about 18:1 in 2006. The EROI for discovering oil and gas in the US has decreased from more than 1000:1 in 1919 to 5:1 in the 2010s, and for production from about 30:1 in the 1970s to less than 10:1 today. Alternatives to traditional fossil fuels such as tar sands and oil shale deliver a lower EROI, having a mean EROI of 4:1 and 7:1, respectively.

    9.3.7 Summary of EROIs
    9 Energy Return on investment (EROI) and its implications for long-term prosperity, Charles A.S. Hall, in Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Environmental Studies, Ed. Matthias Ruth.
    See numerous papers on EROI and Climate.
    For detailed graphics from a more pessimistic view see actuary Gail Tverberg at Our Finite World

    • Mike Jonas

      “we should be investing dramatically more money in R&D to make fossil fuels cleaner and make clean energy cheaper than any fossil fuel”

      Sounds good, but what does it mean? The anti-fossil-fuel lobby has stuffed up the language by changing the meanings of certain words. “Pollution” for example, and “clean”. I am all for making fossil fuels cleaner, and much work has already been done to make various fossil fuel devices (coal-fired power stations, internal combustion engines, etc) emit less pollution like NOx, SOx, Hg, Pb, and particulates. But the anti-fossil-fuel lobby now uses the word “pollution” to mean CO2 and the word “clean” to mean no CO2. Under those meanings, the statement “… make fossil fuels cleaner and make clean energy cheaper …” is delusional.

  19. Above all else, the debate seems to revolve around values.

    All of the following phrases Kelly uses imply a very specific value system:

    • a significant reduction in standards of living.

    • economic conditions of humankind can be improved

    • a way for allowing large populations to live in some comfort.

    • the creation of immense benefits

    • The call to decarbonize the global economy by 80% by 2050 can now only be described as glib in my opinion, as the underlying analysis shows it is only possible if we wish to see large parts of the population die from starvation, destitution or violence in the absence of enough low-carbon energy to sustain society.

    • In energy terms the current generation of renewable energy technologies alone will not enable a civilized modern society to continue!

    • we must improve the lot of humanity, not degrade it, and we must go with the flow of human progress not across or against it

    • There is an unintended and unwanted social consequence of the roll out of these new technologies. There is ample evidence in the UK of increasing fuel poverty

    • cheap energy over the last century has lifted a significant fraction of the world’s poor from their poverty.

    I see no evidence that the climatariat shares Kelly’s utilitarian ethics.

  20. David L. Hagen

    For 3rd world development, Could Coal Still Be King?

    An emeritus professor, Frank Clemente of Penn State, in a popular trade publication, Power Engineering, last year had the gumption to argue for investment in coal as the solution not the problem, since energy “from fossil fuels is the lifeblood of modern society.” “Coal provides 40 percent of electricity, the foundation of modern society. Electricity means life,” argued Clemente.

    The professor goes on to assert that “over two billion have inadequate access to electricity and another 1.3 billion have none at all. Almost three billion people use primitive stoves to burn biomass – wood, charcoal, and animal dung – thereby releasing dense black soot into their homes and the environment.” Clemente further notes that millions die each year from the indoor air pollution generated from this burning practice, not to mention the environmental damage related to deforestation, water contamination, erosion, and land degradation.

    Finally, according to Clemente, “[t]he road to sustainable energy, a better environment and poverty eradication will be paved by clean coal.”

    • The world is certainly far more complex and unpredictable than the highly simplistic and predictable world the climatariat lives in.

      Another study along similar lines to the one you cite:

      • A stylized fact in the energy literature is the existence of a transition process whereby households gradually ascend an energy ladder.

      • The ladder begins with biomass fuels (firewood and charcoal), moves to modern commercial fuels (kerosene and LPG), and culminates with electricity (e.g., Albouy and Nadifi, 1999).

      • The ascent of the ladder is associated with rising income, and the fuels which are higher up in the ladder tend to be more efficient (for lighting for
      example, electricity is more than one hundred times more efficient than candles or kerosene lamps).

      • As a result, if we define net energy consumption as the product of gross energy consumption times an efficiency factor taking into account the efficiency of the energy sources used by households, we may observe an inverted-U relationship between gross energy consumption and income, even though net energy consumption may be monotonically increasing in income.

      • This note finds evidence of such an inverted-U using data for Guatemala.

      • The finding has implication for social and environmental policy.

      http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/voddocs/240/502/gua_invu2.pdf

  21. “Cambridge (UK) professor says much of the effort to combat global warming is actually making it worse.”

    .etc

    No. He certainly may identify some of the many general failings of the ‘project’, but he still appears to buy in to the idea that our CO2 emissions are net negative. I don’t accept that, and it has not been demonstrated.
    It is not worse. It is better.

  22. afonzarelli

    Lest we forget (and we always forget…), the carbon growth rate has been tracking temperature since the inception of the mauna loa observatory data set 58 years ago. IF the past is any indicator of the future, then curbing emissions will have no impact on the carbon growth rate heading into the future. For whatever reason, this fact of the matter has been overlooked by all the movers and shakers in the agw movement (and it’s high time that this stops)…

  23. I would like to see a reference for Germany’s population falling to 4 million in a century (not by 4 million, to 4 million!). If that happens to all high-carbon societies, global warming solves itself, but there are much bigger problems going on. One way to cut emissions 80% is cutting the population 80%, and he seems to think that is happening anyway.

    • Jim D, we seldom agree, but do here. Pop is a complex function of at least three variables: longevity (lets stipulate it is negative logarithmic and that the advance to now will not proportionally continue), fertility (apparently declines with socioeconomic status), and demographics ( more young people will have more future kids despite points 1 and 2).

      • Agricultural societies had more children because children were an asset: more working hands on the ‘farm’ and a potential retirement plan if they let mom and dad live with them after mom and dad were no longer useful.

        For industrial, then information societies, children were no longer an asset, but a liability. They weren’t milking the cows at age five, but were going to school, where they’d stay, costing mom and dad, perhaps not being productive till they got out of grad school at age 26. And they don’t seem to be too keen on welcoming back their aged parents to live with them.

        These are the economic reasons people have fewer children, and it would appear likely, unless there’s an apocalypse that sends us all back to menial farming, that the economics will change. Falling population is baked in the cake.

      • No one has a crystal ball, but Friedman ( link below ) points out the economic factors which have reduced fertility choices ( along with the access to birth control ). These factors are unlikely to reverse. In agricultural society, children cost relatively little while beginning to produce ( labor ) at a relatively early age. In advanced economies, children cost more ( particularly education ) and don’t begin to produce until much later.

        The social impacts of this trend are enormous. So are the economic consequences. The slowing fertility means an increasingly aged world. Children and the elderly have constrained consumption: children by their parents, and the elderly by a fixed income. This explains why the global economy is growing slowly: the proportion of the economy of working age is decreasing.

      • Don’t forget disease.

    • Germany urgently needs immigrants: study
      http://www.thelocal.de/20150327/study-germany-urgently-needs-immigrants

      A study by the Bertelsmann Institute found on Friday that Germany will need around half a million new immigrants every year until 2050 to maintain its work force….

      As the economies in southern Europe emerge from the Eurozone crisis, net immigration from the EU will drop off sharply, meaning Germany will need to find the solution to its labour force problems outside the European Union.

      “Germany can’t rely on further high immigration from the EU. We must take the measures now that make Germany an attractive destination for non-EU citizens,” said Bertelsmann Institute board member Jörg Dräger….

      Without positive net immigration, the number of people able to work will fall by 36 percent, from the current number of 45 million to 29 million by 2050….

      Dräger argues that the government must urgently rethink its immigration policy to adapt to these requirements.

      Germany needs a comprehensible immigration system that makes it clear that qualified immigration from outside the EU is not only allowed but desired, he said, adding that a new immigration law with clear and easy rules and which offers the possibility of citizenship is required.

      The problem in Singapore is also acute:

      https://www.singstat.gov.sg/docs/default-source/default-document-library/publications/publications_and_papers/population_and_population_structure/population2015.pdf

      Close behind Germany and Singapore we find the United States.

    • I would like to see a reference for Germany’s population falling to 4 million in a century (not by 4 million, to 4 million!).
      It is a global phenomenon. Economic development leads to falling population:

      If that happens to all high-carbon societies, global warming solves itself

      Yes, that’s what I’ve been telling you.

      Eight years ago, George Friedman also observed this ( read page 252 ):
      http://www.amazon.com/Next-100-Years-Forecast-Century/dp/0767923057#reader_0767923057

      • World population will solve itself if we can bring everyone into the first world, working and consuming is the best control on the planet, birthrates drop like a rock. Any family that doesn’t have more than one child isn’t even breaking even, and how many have 3 or more kids?

      • It occurs to me that fertility trends will decelerate even further going forward. As computing power and artificial intelligence progress, economic forces will act even further against choices to bear children. This is a somewhat dim vision to me, a rational analysis will include this trend, regardless of how offensive or depressing it might be.

      • TE
        Even worse to come. Dinks, (double income no kids) in the first world select for selfish consumptive behavior. Takes the invisible hand of Adam Smith and turns it on it’s head. (sorry about that, couldn’t resist). Selfish interest drives the green movement; jets to Cannes, urge walking for the masses, conservation for thee but not special me. Vast spreads in montana for pretend farmers while cities decay under democrat green policies. How the greens doom the masses in the third world to no electricity, no clean water, untreated sewage into rivers and dung fires to cook in the huts vs central electricity to provide energy. As you said, rationale observers make deductions from actions and facts, not projections beyond the extrapolated wishes. But big picture, 100 years ago, no space travel, lasers, not many cars or airplanes and no electronics. Interesting ride coming with demographics and conflicts.
        Scott

  24. If you fund it, they will come.

  25. afonzarelli,
    You said: “IF the past is any indicator of the future, then curbing emissions will have no impact on the carbon growth rate heading into the future.”
    I don’t think this came out quite right. Did we curb CO2 emissions some time in the last 58 years and yet CO2 kept rising anyway? It’s a bit confusing.

    • afonzarelli

      What i mean is that since the carbon growth rate has been tracking temperature, then the future should see the same… (if we curb emissions and this (temp/growthrate) correlation still holds true, then our efforts will have no impact on the carbon growth rate)

  26. History is littered with attempts to “fix” the environment, as there are more failures than successes.

    Society can’t even manage feral horses because of the enviro-emotional conflict industry’s influence over politicians, and someone thinks society needs and can manage it’s co2.

    We can visibly see horses and other weeds, yet they are out of control. An odorless gas, yeh ok.

    Some many more critical and pressing environmental problems go ignored while people fiddle with something there is no hope of controlling. Only the delusional think they can see the co2 effects in the natural range of variability, and only the insane think they can do something about it.

    • “History is littered with attempts to “fix” the environment, as there are more failures than successes.”

      Yes it is. Perhaps Santana is correct and those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. This forgetting of history is evidenced in:

      Remarks by the President at Commencement Address at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey;

      “A while back, you may have seen a United States senator trotted out a snowball during a floor speech in the middle of winter as “proof” that the world was not warming. (Laughter.) I mean, listen, climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence. There are facts. We can see it happening right now. (Applause.) If we don’t act, if we don’t follow through on the progress we made in Paris, the progress we’ve been making here at home, your generation will feel the brunt of this catastrophe.

      So it’s up to you to insist upon and shape an informed debate. Imagine if Benjamin Franklin had seen that senator with the snowball, what he would think. Imagine if your 5th grade science teacher had seen that. (Laughter.) He’d get a D. (Laughter.) And he’s a senator! (Laughter.)”

      https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/15/remarks-president-commencement-address-rutgers-state-university-new

      We do not, however, have to imagine what Benjamin Franklin might have said in regards to climate change and what government should do about it, we can look to his own words to make an educated guess:

      “Whenever we attempt to amend the scheme of Providence, and to interfere with the government of the world, we had need be very circumspect, lest we do more harm than good. In New England they once thought blackbirds useless, and mischievous to the corn. They made efforts to destroy them. The consequence was, the blackbirds were diminished; but a kind of worm, which devoured their grass, and which the blackbirds used to feed on, increased prodigiously; then, finding their loss in grass much greater than their saving in corn, they wished again for their blackbirds.”

      ~~Letter from Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson Aug. 14th 1747~

  27. I have only read Dr Curry’s notes, but I have to agree to 90% of what Kelly seems to say.

    First a small quibble:

    “The entire history of modern civilization that started with the first industrial revolution has been enabled by the burning of fossil fuels.”

    Well, at least in North America it was largely fueled by wood from trees at first. The combination of agriculture and the ravenous demand for wood led to the deforestation of vast tracts of what is now the eastern U.S. Once coal and oil became king these regions regained much of the earlier forest acreage.

    Beyond that, Kelly is right on target:

    “Premature roll-out of immature/uneconomic technologies is a recipe for failure” and “deploying first generation renewable energy is locking in immature and uneconomic systems at net loss to the world standard of living”

    He might have added that this is especially so when the costs are so front-loaded and even a slight increase in maintenance budgets or a slight reduction in output or life-span could render an entire generation of a technology impotent. Not to mention environmental risks that can take a generation to expose and fully understand.

  28. Still waiting for Segrest to come along and shill for rent seeking GE’s integrative planning models which will make it all better.

  29. The effort only looks like a failure to those who thought the effort was anything more then full scale demonstration projects at this point.

    The US Energy acts of 2006 and 2008 provide incentives to every imaginable clean energy source.

    As with all demonstration large scale engineering projects…a couple of decades is required until all the real world problems become apparent.

    The Gen IV Nuclear initiative never envisioned deploying 4th generation nuclear before the mid 2020’s.

    So far we’ve figured out that the geographic area required to get ‘the wind is always blowing somewhere’ is substantially larger then advocates would have estimated and that the energy storage challenge is harder then a lot of advocates have estimated.

  30. FUSION power would make REAL CO2 reduction possible.

    • We’ve got fusion power. Right up in the sky.

      • Sure but we cannot use it efficiently yet.

      • And how long do you think it will be after we get self-sustaining fusion before we can actually convert it to energy in a cost-effective fashion?

        Long before that, solar PV will rule the world.

      • 1. PV is always solar PV because Lunar PV and Universe PV don’t generate enough power.

        2. Current PV is a loser dead end technology. Organic roll-on or spray on solar cells will have a significant impact. But putting black glass in the desert is dumb.

        3. ITER is at least 50 years out and might not ever make sense. The Chinese are smarter and might come up with something.

        Right now some orphan fusion technology is more likely than ITER to hit the market first.

      • PV is always solar PV because Lunar PV and Universe PV don’t generate enough power.

        Nope. (Of course, you know I meant PV-type solar but…).

        There’s also laser PV. Used (in concept) for transmitting power rather than collecting it, but with potential end-to-end efficiencies as high as 70%. (This requires high-efficiency LED lasers, tuned to the optimum wavelength for the PV.)

        This is an option for space solar power. While it doesn’t match the potential 80-85% efficiency of microwave beaming, it could be done without building kilometer-sized structures in space.

        Unfortunately, unlike microwave beaming, it could be used as a weapon, or even do weapon-like damage by accident.

        Current PV is a loser dead end technology. [… P]utting black glass in the desert is dumb.

        Not a loser, at least if it is only because it will be out-competed by better technology.

        And large parts of the world’s ocean are effective deserts. With all the freezing water you might need for cooling only a few hundred meters down.

        Right now some orphan fusion technology is more likely than ITER to hit the market first.

        IMO the only type of fusion that makes sense is one that doesn’t require capturing its output as heat and running it through a heat engine. And doesn’t produce neutrons.

        Perhaps something like lithium/hydrogen→high-energy alpha particles, which are captured and drained of energy via MHD or something like that. Or perhaps even just a high voltage system.

        IIRC I ran into a description of somebody doing something along those lines with boron/hydrogen. That might work too, although I suspect lithium is a better guess.

      • Unless the Death Star moves into orbit laser PV won’t generate much power either.

    • How lasers can shoot us to the stars

      Suppose that in 1981 an ambitious (or perhaps just crazy) team of scientists had proposed Project Tera, whose goal was to produce the following within 35 years:

      •       A teraflop computer that costs $50 (a 10^9 reduction from 1981 technology), fits in your hand (a 10^9 reduction in size), and uses 10 W (10^8 less power per flop).

      •       A terabyte of gigahertz memory for $400 (a 10^6 reduction in cost and size from 1981 tech and a 10^3 increase in performance).

      •       A 1 W blue laser with 50% efficiency that costs less than $0.40.

      •       A 30 m diffraction-limited telescope.

      •       A self-driving electric car that has a 300 km range and costs less than $10 000.

      Look at each of those goals and ask yourself what you would have thought of Project Tera in 1981. Nuts, huh? The last three weren’t even feasible at the time.

      Yet every one of those goals has already been accomplished or is about to be.

      Project Starshot aims to produce, in less than 35 years, a 100 GW laser phased array that uses 100 million currently existing 1-kW-class ytterbium amplifiers. The plan assumes no increase in efficiency, a very modest increase in coherence length, and a 100-fold reduction in laser amplifier costs to about $0.10/W (which is roughly the current cost of high-power LEDs). Note that there’s already been a two-order-of-magnitude drop in the cost of such laser amplifiers over the past decade. By comparison with Project Tera, the Starshot goals look extremely conservative.

      And we already have water-cooled PV that can output 200KW/m^2. A square kilometer of such would be able to output 200GWatts. Float it on the ocean, cool it with water pumped from under the thermocline, and ship the power to shore.

  31. Why do so many seem to think that a warmer world would automatically be a Bad Thing?

    Last time I looked people flew to the sunshine for their vacations, not to Greenland or Antarctica.

    Go figure…..

  32. If the continuing rise of developing countries out of poverty continues, then even with stabilisation or mild reductions in Western use of energy, the world will be using at least say 50% more energy in 2050-2080 than now.

    To make this carbon-free means converting wholescale to electricity including heating and transport. With the increase in energy required the effect will be a requirement for say 6-10 times more electricity generation in total than now.

    To make it renewable means increasing current provision of renewable energy – that means scaling renewables not just to current electricity needs, but to this much larger number. That’s scaling by perhaps 60-120 times from current provision. In other words over 60 years we need to be adding an amount at least equivalent to the entire current stock or renewable energy (which took 15-20 years to accumulate) every single year from now onwards (and for this to continue indefinitely given a 25-30 year lifespan). And(!) conversion of all houses and buildings to electric heating. And(!) conversion of transport systems. And(!) new storage technologies.

    These numbers are ball park guesses but you can do the same calculations with Jacobson’s number and get a similar level of scale. Greenpeace’s numbers for the UK are similarly large and still have the prospect of energy black outs. These are multiple percentages of GDP per year.

    The alternative, which is deliberately not being articulated, is being hidden behind calls for a carbon tax – an esoteric measure that sounds benign. However, the purpose of the carbon tax is fundamentally to drive lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes need to be huge because of the increasing energy demands – it’s not about changing lightbulbs, or turning the TV off standby. Energy saving needs to be at the rate of 30-40% per household – more in the US to allow for poverty reduction and energy equity if we are not allowed to generate more energy than now.

    So this alternative is broadly equivalent to shifting back to a 1920s style of living. Most households without a car. No foreign or inter-state travel. No central heating – heating by room. Natural cooling. Clothes worn for practical purposes not fashion. No cold chain for fresh or frozen foods.

    Without nuclear there is practically no way of achieving the carbon budget cuts demanded. And if it goes wrong, the costs in human terms could be huge. A La Nina winter with a 6-10 day cold snap no wind and no solar and it would take a relatively small power generation outage to make this a deadly event particularly with excessively expensive heating. Climate science better be right because it is potentially a very expensive mistake.

  33. I have two basic criticisms of the EROEI concept

    First, it implicitly assumes that all energy is of the same value. Under EROEI, the primary energy inputs to the economy (the raw energy sources) are valued the same as the energy services (refined and delivered products, piped gas, and electricity) needed for final production and consumption activities. This is not true. People pay more for a MJ of energy in the form of electricity, for example, than for a MJ of energy in the form of coal. The services electricity provides are of much greater value. Furthermore, the value of electricity, for example, varies by where, and when, it is supplied not just by the MJ it represents. Wind energy supplied at 1am does not have the same value as electricity produced during the daily peak.

    Second, the EROEI concept implicitly assumes that the only resource that is scarce is energy. One could economize on energy inputs by using more alternative inputs, especially capital and labor, but if they cost more they are not worth it. The EROEI concept replaces the “labor theory of value” with an “energy theory of value” and suffers from the same defects as a theory of economics.The bottom line with these “renewable”* technologies that he is criticizing is that they cannot currently survive without subsidies. The value of what they produce cannot pay for the costs of ALL the scarce inputs (including the capital needed for backup), not just the energy input. Also, how much “surplus” energy output minus energy input that they need to generate to be viable is not an absolute number. It depends on the value of the energy produced, the cost of the energy used, AND the costs of all the other inputs used in production.

    * They are not really renewable in the sense that the best sites for harvesting the energy are in limited supply and are “used up” as they are exploited.

    • It seems to contain the implicit assumption of a fixed ratio between the amount of energy expended and the amount of human labor involved in using it.

      Automation makes such an assumption completely unwarranted.

      • Not just the a fixed ratio between energy and labor input but also energy and capital input, energy and steel input, energy and managerial skill input, energy and marketing expertise input, etc etc…

      • Well, my point is that there are many arguments trying to show that a low ERO(E)I is tantamount to a less pleasant life-style. Automation makes that assumption warranted, because a fully automated self-reproducing/expanding manufacturing base could work out of sight of and without interfering with its beneficiaries.

        Take solar PV, for instance. In principle, you could build automated factories that sit in the desert (or a desert shore) building solar PV cells using power from the sun. Parts of that power might come from previously built PV, other parts might come from focused sunlight. (Thus short-circuiting much of the structure otherwise needed for melting silica and silicon.)

        You could also build automated factories to produce PV factories. You could build automated factories to produce those factories to build factories. Etc.

        In principle, again (practice might take a little more effort), you could build the entire system of factories, starting with a small number/amount, which would then expand exponentially as long as the managers kept the needed levels of production set that high.

        Given the proper technology, and the proper programming of its IT resources, a management crew of perhaps a few thousand could actually control the growth and stabilization of such a system to the point that it could supply the entire (electrical) energy for the world. (Say, 100TW by 2075.)

        This would be true even if the ERO(E)I for PV, counting the whole system, were in the range of 3-4. The whole rest of the world’s population could have an energy-rich lifestyle without large numbers of them having to spend time working in (or in support of) the energy supply industry.

      • My fundamental point is that whether or not it makes sense to do what you suggest (or other proposed productive ventures) is not determined by a bunch of calculations about inputs and outputs the answer to the question: “Can someone make money doing it?” If you think it is a no brainer that it would be worthwhile doing what you suggest, raise from funds from some venture capitalists and go at it…

      • oops a “but” missing before “the answer”..

      • Take solar PV, for instance. In principle, you could build automated factories that sit in the desert (or a desert shore) building solar PV cells using power from the sun.

        Been there did that, outside Gaithersburg Md, they built a “Solar Breeder Plant”, went live in the mid 90’s, and then iirc proceeded to sit there for most of 15 years with not much activity.
        http://www.nytimes.com/1982/02/28/business/other-business-a-solar-factory-to-make-solar-cells.html
        http://www.green-energy-news.com/arch/nrgs2010/20100020.html

      • Been there did that, outside Gaithersburg Md, they built a “Solar Breeder Plant”, went live in the mid 90’s, and then iirc proceeded to sit there for most of 15 years with not much activity.

        Well, I did say “in principle”. The fact that it’s cheaper to use off-the-shelf resources (including energy) for making solar PV doesn’t mean it isn’t feasible. Just not cost-competitive at the moment.

        Anyway, the analyses I happen to be most interested in are space-based: the potential for creating a self-growing factory complex on and in orbit around the Moon, capable of creating an exponentially growing supply of space-based power collectors and transmitters.

        AFAIK the technology isn’t completely there yet, but there’s nothing that requires any sort of scientific breakthrough. Just “routine” research and development. Along with productive design (as opposed to straw men arguments based on poorly-though-out “designs”.)

    • On your first point, I am in complete agreement. Not all forms of energy are of the same value.

      On your second point, would you agree with the following equation?

      Adam Smith and Karl Marx placed more value on the labor part.

      Futurists, techno-utopians and techno-triumphalists place more value on the machinery and technology part.

      Producers of primary materials tend to place the most value on the particular primary material they happen to be involved in producing.

      It seems to me that all the inputs on the left-hand side of the equation are important, though we can argue as to which is more important.

      The whole value system, of course, is terribly materialistic and utilitarian. It is not at all easy to reconcile the value system put forth in Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) with that put forth in his later work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776).

      • Glenn — the equation you give is a specific case of a more general function economists call a production function. Output is a function of ALL the inputs, as you say, but in general it will be a non-linear function, not a simple sum. The other critical development in economics post the “labor theory of value” era was to recognize that market prices relate to marginal contributions to output, that is the derivative of the output with respect to a change in one of the inputs. Demand is brought into the mix by also recognizing that prices relate to the marginal value of an additional unit of the output to the consumers. Output (and inputs) can have a different price when delivered to different locations or at different times, and in general it will. This relates to my example of electricity having different prices depending when and where it is delivered.

      • I’ll point out that true human labor hasn’t really been part of the general equation in Western Europe since the adoption of the rigid horse collar for plowing.

        What “human laborers” almost always provide is (at least partial) management of their own labor, making it worth more than a simple horse pulling through a collar. And management value depends on skill, training, will, and a host of other factors.

      • hartleyweb,

        It’s difficut to think about competing value systems these days, because the utility or price theory of value has become so entrenched with orthodox, post-classical and neo-classical economists that it has become axiomatic.

        However, there are a number of theories of value that economists have used in the past.

        I would say that way more than 50% of the current showdown between the climatariat and other segments of society is a dispute over value systems.

        Robert L. Heilbroner in “The Problem of Value in the Constitution of Economic Thought” inveighs that the neglect of value by orthodox economists

        does not remove the issue from economics but only leads to its covert appearance in harmful form; that the questions raised by value…powerfully influence the constitution of economic thought itself….

        Some conception of value — some idea of a structure or order behind the flux of activity — is therefore integral to economic thought, for economic thought is an effort to explain the phenomenal world.

        https://epay.newschool.edu/C21120_ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=1790

        It seems to me that most of the climatariat rejects the utility or price theory of value which is so dear to the hearts and souls of orthodox economists.

      • David Springer

        Yeah never underestimate the ability of a horse to displace a human. A horse’s ass, not even a whole horse, was president of the US for the last 8 years. Anything is thus possible.

  34. This failed agenda is being pushed by über-crackpot Mark Jacobson along with … Mark Ruffalo:

  35. The paper has a few “discussion points” in a box on the front page:

    DISCUSSION POINTS
    • Only fossil fuels and nuclear fuels have the ability to power
    megacities in 2050, when over half of the then 9B people will
    live in them.
    • As the more severe predictions of climate change over the last
    25 years are simply not happening, it makes no sense to deploy
    the more costly options for renewable energy.
    • Abandoned infrastructure projects (such as derelict wind and
    solar farms in the Mojave desert) remain to have their progenitors
    mocked for decades.

    • Only fossil fuels and nuclear fuels have the ability to power
      megacities in 2050, when over half of the then 9B people will
      live in them.

      20 years ago I predicted, we’d have until about 2050 to make the switch over to nuclear, or we’d start to lose our ability to support the advanced society we’d need to to maintain that level of society. With the additional fossil fuel reserves we’ve figured out how to exploit, we have some more time, unless we devolve backwards into the low energy societies of wind and sun power of the 19th century. Apparently there are a lot of people who seem to like that hippy commune style of living, and feel free, don’t let me stop you, but I want the Jetson’s, I want humans to become a spacefaring race, we need to mine the asteroid belt, and someday travel to the stars, but in the mean while there are oceans of liquid hydrocarbons (though not very practical as a home heating fuel, I realize) and boulders of platinum group metals out there to go get.

      • micro6500,

        I get whiplash just listenting to the Warmists.

        One moment they’re gushing over some romanticized notion of the past: a repudiation of the bourgeois world.

        To this day Walden is the name to conjure with; it means fleeing the daily grind, living at the heart of nature, free to breathe and contemplate. Self-reliant individualism is the message, but not the truth about Thoreau’s escape: he took civilization with him: clothes, nails, seed, and lumber, none of which he had made.

        — JACQUES BARZUN, From Dawn to Decadence

        Then, no sooner than having said that, the Warmists are waxing elegant about some imagined techno-Utopian future. There’s nothing novel about this dreamy vision either:

        Nature, including both its materials and its laws, will be more at our command; men will make their situation in this world abundantly more easy and comfortable, they will prolong their existence in it and grow daily more happy….

        Thus whatever the beginning of the world the end will be glorious and paradisaical beyond that our imaginations can now conceive.

        — JOSEPH PRIESTLEY, Essay on the Frist Principles of Government, 1768

  36. Demographics will come to the rescue.
    Basically the world will be half Muslim caliphate and half third world barbarity in a century.
    Our civilization will literally be consumed by the stone age.
    Technology will not even be an issue.

    Why do scientists get to pretend like the forces of history do not even exist? Either childish ignorance or something worse…

  37. RE: only civil and environmental engineers believing decarbonization is feasible.

    There is an old engineering joke about a group of engineers enjoying a drink and when the topic turns to the wonder of the human body and how God must be an engineer, they all argue for their particular discipline. Ultimately they conclude God must be a civil engineer, as only a CE would place the recreational facility right next to the waste disposal facility. CE’s – ya gotta love em.

    PS – I learned long ago from a very wise person (my dad) that there are only two types of engineers in the world. Chemical engineers and those who wish they were good enough to be ChemE’s. (I switched from Chemical Engineering at Maryland to History. Ended up as an Engineer at a nuke plant. So when my dad and brother argue over which is the better engineering school, Case or Georgia Tech, I remind them it’s Maryland, where even a History degree gets you a job as an engineer.)

    • I was told that Mechanical engineering was superior to Civil Engineering.

      Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil Engineers build targets.

  38. I’m really confused by the Figure 2 graph.

    It looks to me that hydro or nuclear would serve fine and both would be decarbonized. Even desert solar and wind combined would be okay.

    I must be totally misreading something, so please enlighten me.

    • James, your observation illustrates my criticism above of the EROEI concept. While these technologies look good in terms of energy produced per unit of required energy input they both require lots of another scarce input, namely capital (and probably also lots of lawyers and time to fight over permitting etc.) Hence, their economic competitiveness is not as good as these calculations imply.

    • James, I’m confused by what’s confusing you!
      Yes, hydro would be fine. It is fine in places like Switzerland and Norway where they have mountains. But it’s no good for us in the UK where we don’t.
      Nuclear is obviously “fine” in EROI terms.
      Solar in deserts with buffering (batteries) is only just viable according to his figure.

    • Thanks for the response.

      If we put aside criticisms of the concept (not disagreeing with your point, hartleyweb) it seems like this argument is a straw man argument.

      It seems to be saying because renewables probably can’t completely replace carbon based energy sources then we shouldn’t invest anything in them in addition to overlooking alternatives like nuclear.

      Obviously we need a hybridized approach that includes using fossil fuels while we add more renewables and nuclear.

  39. Is much of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse?

    Betteridge’s law of headlines

    • Yep, headlines can be misleading.

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/fuelling-world-hunger-how-the-global-biofuel-industry-is-creating-massive-destruction/28434

      A combination of biofuel policy and global speculation have tightly linked food cost with fuel/energy cost and suspected to have been a major factor in Arab spring.

      http://phys.org/news/2015-10-role-food-prices-syrian-crisis.html

      In the EU, vehicle carbon reduction has lead to increased diesel use which planned on a good bit of Palm oil based bio-diesel which has created air pollution problems and tropical deforestation. A number of EU automakers cheated a bit on their emissions rating, so it could be a bit worse than advertised.

      Since Germany is the green energy flagship and electric rates there are about the highest in the world, I imagine if that pricing spread that “affordable” energy would become an oxymoron. It is almost like humans are addicted to energy and food.

      • captdallas,

        Yep, headlines can be misleading.

        Changing the subject can be considered misdirection. Here’s how Dr. Curry’s headline might not have run afoul of Betteridge:

        Could some of our effort to combat global warming actually making things worse?

        Moonshine for automobiles would definitely be at the top of my list. So would palm diesel. Soybean diesel as well. I’m sure you’ve got more anecdotes to peddle as if they are representative of “much”, “most” or even “only”.

        You know, as if nobody ever died over strategic oil reserves in a war that was supposed to have paid for its own reconstruction. Or like removing Saddam without having a workable plan to stabilize the region after having created an entirely predictable power vacuum hasn’t *also* possibly contributed to Syria’s latest issues with ISIS (or whatever the hell they’re calling themselves these days).

        But whatever we do, let’s keep pointing at Greens as the only poor decision-makers even as our own references also play up the virtues of the Free Market:

        The ethanol mandates and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which allowed speculation in the commodities market, are both disastrous policy decisions that should be rolled back. However, as NECSI’s president Yaneer Bar-Yam points out, “Because of large profits for speculators and agricultural interests, a very strong social and political effort is necessary to counter the deregulation of commodities and reverse the growth of ethanol production.”

        Who *else* do you think was *also* behind the production subsidies to begin with?

        The preceding paragraph was kind of fun:

        Physical methods can be used to identify the most important behavior-affecting factors in a complex system. In this case, they point to the role of speculators and ethanol in world food prices. The fitting of actual prices to theory has a p value of 10^{-60}, and the out of sample fit is as good as many theories’ in-sample fit, p<0.001. This demonstrates the incredible accuracy that is possible for this kind of theoretical analysis of real world problems.

        Plug CO2 into a physical model — or God forbid do some curve-fitting of CO2 to temperature — and watch this forum work itself into a lather about how that isn’t doing Real Science.

      • brgates, “Moonshine for automobiles would definitely be at the top of my list. So would palm diesel. Soybean diesel as well. I’m sure you’ve got more anecdotes to peddle as if they are representative of “much”, “most” or even “only”.”

        Your logic has been suffering lately. Prior to the ethanol mandates, fairly small agri-coops were expanding production of ethanol using mainly surplus feedstock. That is free market, or at least as free as it gets since ethanol is pretty heavily regulated and taxed. Some farmers actually made ethanol for clean fuel centuries ago until taxation created a whiskey rebellion which I believe predates your oil wars. Wars tend to be about abuse of power, real or perceived. Generally, once someone finds the greatest threat to whatever and wants to impose their will to “fix” that issue, you get real and/or perceived abuse of power, people get a touch aggravated and the scat hits the fan, no oil required. Often it is just over some stupid ideology :)

        .

      • brgates, on the “plugging some number in.” I have done a good bit of that. I don’t particularly have a speciality, but I am intrigued by the concept of “teleconnections” wrt paleo data and tend to focus on the oceans since I spend a bit of time there. Except for 33% of the globe, “sensitivity” is less than 1.0 C per doubling and without that extremely noisy 33%, there are indications of millennial scale fluctuations of about +/- 1.25 C degree. With that kind of “natural” variability picking the right initial conditions can be a bit of a problem.

        Perhaps we can demand energy austerity for everyone living above 30N?

      • captdallas,

        Your logic has been suffering lately. Prior to the ethanol mandates, fairly small agri-coops were expanding production of ethanol using mainly surplus feedstock.

        How exactly does that rule out that Big Agra concerns like ADM weren’t behind a major expansion of the ethanol quota mandates and the attendant subsidies that went along with them? Yeow … *my* logic is suffering? Here, does Cato Institute work for you? That’s a bit long in the tooth … 1995. Here’s a 2011 article from OpenSecrets.org.

        Often it is just over some stupid ideology :)

        I reckon more often it’s about money, and it gets sold as consistent with some ideology. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, mind, but politics really isn’t about finding optimal solutions. Much of it is about bringing home the pork. You bet your bottom dollar the US ethanol production mandates were sold to the left as environmentally sound, but corn isn’t exactly grown in bastions of liberaldom now is it.

        Do the math.

        I don’t particularly have a speciality, but I am intrigued by the concept of “teleconnections” wrt paleo data and tend to focus on the oceans since I spend a bit of time there. Except for 33% of the globe, “sensitivity” is less than 1.0 C per doubling and without that extremely noisy 33%, there are indications of millennial scale fluctuations of about +/- 1.25 C degree.

        Cheeze, you’re all over the place today, incha. Not feeling like doing a Gish Gallop tonight, sorry. Maybe check out what folks who do have that speciality and have published in refereed primary literature have to say?

      • Dallas,

        PS — I’d forgotten about my little dig about CO2 curve-fitting, so my objection to your second post was harsher than warranted. I still really don’t feel like digging into it tonight, if ever, because really … there are people who do this for a living. I’m not one of them.

      • brgates, “The strategy was as bold as it was ironic: push your rivals’ legislative agenda and use it to snag business from them. It worked brilliantly.”

        http://grist.org/article/adm1/

        So let’s see what would your ideal legislation be and exactly how many ways “business as usual” can make money off it. Wouldn’t national and “global” initiatives favor “big?”. At some point “big” becomes “too big to fail”. Kind of a nasty situation when there are big governments helping pick industry winners. It is almost like anything you do can make things worse.

    • The law says that when a headline asks a question, the answer is no.
      Will India’s Heat Wave Spark Violence?
      Is Climate Change To Blame For ISIS?
      Is the Syrian conflict linked to climate change?
      Is global warming WORSE than we think?

      • Did Ragnar Read the Entire Opening Paragraph?

        Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” It is named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist,[1][2] although the principle is much older. As with similar “laws” (e.g., Murphy’s Law), it is intended as a humorous adage rather than always being literally true.[3][4]

    • David L. Hagen

      Is the EPA INCREASING CO2 & Warming?
      EPA just declared war on millions of car owners

      A 2012 study by Auto Alliance found internal engine damage to cars built between 2001 and 2009 with the higher blend. And a report last year found that the vast majority of cars on the road were not built to handle higher ethanol levels.

      Oh, and by the way, diverting so much corn into gasoline tanks has raised the price of food, which hurts the poor. . . .
      A 2011 study by the National Research Council found that ethanol use could boost overall CO2 emissions. An earlier study published in Science also found that, when you consider the impact of converting forests and grasslands to cornfields, ethanol sharply increases carbon emissions.

      Meanwhile, a 2007 study by a Stanford University environmental engineer found that increasing ethanol levels in gasoline can lead to more smog.

      Beware well meaning politicians and bureaucrats!
      Nobel cause corruption strikes again!

      • Seems there has been a loss of grasslands of forests.
        https://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/News-by-Topic/Wildlife/2015/04-02-15-New-Report-Cropland-Expansion-Outpaces-Agricultural-and-Biofuels-Policies.aspx
        Also that ethanol was being made from corn. We read where these are tied together. I think for many farmers, they have land and will plant corn. If they have marginal land, any price increase in corn will have them consider converting it. But they’ve faced this same decision as long as they’ve owned the land. An example might be pastureland used for beef cattle. Why deal with poor drainage or hilly land when you can just let cattle graze the land? Conversion of land is something I’d consider to be a long term bet and farmers are quite aware that a high corn price one year is probably an anomaly and they don’t convert land as often as a day trader changes stocks. So we have the idea that ethanol controls land use. This is probably not quite fair. Corn prices have numerous inputs, same as land use does. I’ve felt for awhile that we should start cutting back on ethanol. Realign things towards the more optimal while remembering the existing infrastructure.

      • David L. Hagen

        Ragnaar
        A key difference is MANDATING ethanol use – and requiring billion dollar public subsidies.
        THE HIDDEN CORN ETHANOL TAX: How Much Does the Renewable Fuel Standard
        Cost Motorists?

        • Since 2007, the RFS, which requires fuel retailers to blend corn ethanol into the gasoline they sell, has saddled American motorists
        with more than $10 billion per year in extra fuel costs above what they would have paid if they had purchased gasoline alone.
        • The RFS is a de facto tax on motorists because it requires them to consume ethanol, which, on an energy-equivalent basis, is significantly more expensive than gasoline. Since 1982, on average, ethanol has cost 2.4 times more than an energy-equivalent amount of gasoline.
        • For eight full years—1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997, and 1998—ethanol cost at least three times more than an energy-equivalent amount of gasoline.

  40. Pretty funny to see the article by Charles White in the Huffington Post, “How and Why Scientists Fudge Results, and What We Can Do About It.”

    HELLO? Is the Huff reading what it prints?

    researchers who employ questionable research methods and journalists eager to report on juicy results. As Oliver points out, there are countless examples of the media sensationalizing and over-simplifying complex and nuanced scientific findings.

    …and, what’s with the Huff living in, La-La Land–e.g.,

    Fortunately however, transparency and open dialogue are bedrock principles of science and many disciplines within the scientific community are beginning to foster and maintain open dialogue about how to make the process even more transparent and trustworthy.

    If that were ever partly true, AGW researchers’ claims of a 97% consensus would be rightly be outed as nothing less than propaganda to help prop up the hoax and scare tactics of the Left.

  41. I’ve been a bit of a nuclear power advocate on the Internet but lately AGW panic is looking like a hoax and a scam to me too. There’s a tiny kernel of truth in the climate argument. CO2 is a GHG and climate sensitivity is probably ~ 0.6, or so. Nothing to worry about. So we have many decades in which to decarbonize. In about 2½ decades advanced nuclear power will be available. Modular versions will be factory built, easily mass produced, and erected in 2 or 3 years. It should be cost competitive with coal today. I know 2½ decades is a long time to wait but the regulatory hurdles are immense. The obstacles placed in the way of nuclear power by greens, regulators, non-proliferation politicians, and Malthusians are considerable. This is the only inexpensive non-CO2 power anyone reading this will likely see. In theory we could also do conventional nuclear power far cheaper. India can build a 1GWe reactor for $1.3bn. In practice it will cost us in the West 3 to 4 times that to build.

    • ++

      China will be delivering a modular “bocce ball” reactor in the next decade for a targetted price of less than $1.5 Bn /GWe. About the worst the US can do to muck up the price of a passive safe reactor you basically just stick in the concrete is about $2 Bn/GWe.

      Renewables can’t compete with a $2 Bn/GWe reactor.

    • Curious George

      Don’t forget nuclear fusion. It is stuck at 2½ decades in the future.

  42. The article says the paper was peer reviewed but it was probably peer reviewed by engineers which probably doesn’t count for the people living in fear.

    • From the excerpts the paper is brilliant.

      President Trump should hire these people to write a reasonable business-as-usual scenario so the climate debate can move from fantasy back to reality.

  43. As an engineer and a student of history I have always wondered why engineers have not been more resistant to the call to tear down and rebuild our energy infrastructures.

    The history of our technological societies is an evolutionary process that allowed for the optimization of resources and efficiencies. Engineers (professional and practicing) have generally been at the forefront of this process.

    To have a bunch of scientists/activists say, “You did it all wrong! You must tear it all down and do it the right way!” is somewhat insulting to our history and heritage.

    And then to meekly say, “Oh yes I guess you’re right, we’ll do that right away.” just sets up engineering to be the fall guy for their folly.

    It does not help that environmental engineers and alternative energy engineers have Bogarted the mic to feather their own project ideals.

    It’s nice to see the real engineers getting into the discussion.

    • why engineers have not been more resistant

      That is pretty easy. The abject example is Segrest.

      Engineers like a challenge. Implementing energy infrastructure using the dumbest possible energy sources is pretty challenging.

      Any engineer can implement a solution given the right tools and the right parts. It takes a smart engineer to implement a good solution with the wrong tools and the wrong parts.

      Apollo 13 was probably the high point of some NASA engineers careers. They brought them home alive with what was available.

    • You remind me of David Sarnoff, the CEO of RCA, who used the FCC to deep-six FM radio in 1933 because his company owned all the patents and contracts for broadcasting in AM. The same thing happened again when Bell Telephone blocked MCI from cracking the long distance and mobile phone markets back in the 70’s. The world needs more engineers like Edwin Armstrong and fewer people like David Sarnoff. You’re not a Sarnoff supporter are you?

    • There are 3 or 4 arguments that should kill one’s faith in renewable energy.
      1. very low power and energy densities
      2. intermittency
      3. the vast expensive of energy storage

      Any one issue alone makes renewables weak. All 3 in combination make them a bad joke. The “belief” some scientists profess to have in renewables amounts to science and engineering “denial”.

      The source of such denial is not green money nor a conspiracy. Not even a Dunning–Kruger or other cognitive bias. Dunning–Kruger only applies to those too incompetent to know otherwise. The source for “belief” in renewables must be tribalism. If a medical doctor can join ISIS in Syria, a few mostly life-scientists can “believe in” renewable energy.

  44. It is intriguing that this discussion is based on the fallacious premise that energy flow governs what happens without taking into account that energy is an attribute of materials and what happens to the materials should also be taken into account in any rational discussion of what lies ahead. There are some ninety natural resources being irreversibly used up by industry. The fossil fuels play a major positive and negative role in operations but any discussion of the sound measures that should be adopted needs to take the holistic situation into account.

  45. Germany’s renewables electricity generation grows in 2015, but coal still dominant
    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=26372

      • My generation rate is about 7 cents/kWhr

      • micro6500,

        I don’t know what “generation rate” means.

        There are costs of production of electricity.

        There are wholesale prices of electricity.

        There are retail prices of electricity.

        The above chart reflects average retail prices for households.

        Below are costs of production from various sources as reported in the latest Bloomberg report. Bloomberg, as you probably know, is a huge cheerleader for wind and solar. CE has published various posts calling into question these low costs for wind.

        http://fs-unep-centre.org/sites/default/files/publications/globaltrendsinrenewableenergyinvestment2016lowres_0.pdf

      • My bill is broken into 2 parts, one is the generation, this goes to the power company, but since electricity is fungible, I can buy my power from a different company than the one who owns the wires to my house. They get paid based on my usage to maintain the local wiring, and why the local power companies are changing the way they treat homeowners who have solar with grid ties, but don’t actually buy much power(or worse sell it to them at retail rates).

      • micro6500,

        OK, got it.

        It sounds like what your electricity provider calls “generation rate” is what I would call “wholesale price.”

      • It sounds like what your electricity provider calls “generation rate” is what I would call “wholesale price.”

        I presume they get their pass-through charge, but probably around that.
        All together, it’s about 12 cents/kWhr

      • jacksmith4tx,

        Let’s try to decipher what you are attempting to say.

        Here’s your latest electricty bill:

        It is from Green Mountain Energy:

        And here’s an explanation of what the terminology means:

        With our Renewable Rewards buy-back program, you can maximize the return on your investment in distributed generation like solar or wind energy systems by receiving credit for any excess energy your system exports to the grid. We will give you a bill credit for 100% of your system’s outflow to the electric grid.

        Residential customers: The credit per kWh for the surplus energy you generate will be the same per kWh rate we charge for the Renewable Rewards electricity product. We will supplement the energy you produce with 100% wind energy from the grid. Learn more about net metering in this blog post.

      • Yes, I’m operating a licensed photon mine. I also have mineral rights for natural gas and have collected almost $300 in royalties since 2009. Considering my land costs were over $15k the solar panels have been a better deal so far.

      • Here’s a copy of my latest electric bill.

        It’s for usage from March 2 to May 4, 2016.

        Using today’s exchange rates, it’s for $34.50 usd. That breaks down to $17.25 usd per month.

        In the two month period I consumed 377 kWh of electricity. That breaks down to 189 kWh per month.

        I did not have to invest $15,000 in a solar rooftop PV system (the average cost for such a system in California), nor did I have to go rattling my cup, begging, or demanding, other citizens of Mexico to help pay for my solar rooftop PV system.

      • I did not have to invest $15,000 in a solar rooftop PV system

        What you have to do is calculate how many months of monthly savings would it take to buy your system.
        Mexico does have the advantage of a lot more months of Sun than I do in Ohio :)
        I consume about 1,200 kWhr’s a month, I’m not sure a 10 kW system your supply my electricity, plus I have both east and west facing roofs, and I pay about $150/month.

      • micro6500,

        Your usage sounded high to me, so I went to the EIA to check.

        It’s only slightly above average.

        In 2014, average residential electricity consumption in Ohio was 901 kWh per month, at an average price of 12.5₡ per kWh, for a total bill of $112.62 per month.

        http://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/pdf/table5_a.pdf

        This is very close to the national average of 911 kWh per month, 12.5₡ per kWh, and $114.09 per month.

        Those who live in The Land of Stupid — California, New York and New England — where governments are committed to rolling out renewables with no regard to cost, pay considerably higher prices for electricity.

        It looks like most homes in Ohio use natural gas for heating:

        http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/residential.cfm/state=OH

        The average household in Ohio consumes about 25 MMBTU per year in natural gas and about 75 MMBTU per year in electricity.

      • I forgot to mention I also bought a used 2013 Volt (to replace my 1997 Ford Explorer) so I haven’t spent $10 on gas in the last year. I did however buy a $300 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter to run my house from the Volt’s 16kwh battery when the grid is down. So far I have used it 3 times for about 2 hours total so it has come in handy. Let me be clear – most people don’t know how to do solar so they will never break even. I designed my system to be ground mounted with optimal siting and retrofitted my house with LEDs, zoned heating and AC, timers on the water heater and a high efficiency wood burning fireplace insert. The PV array is 5 years old and I haven’t spent $5 yr. in maintenance so far. Break even should be about 2022 if I’m lucky.

  46. David L. Hagen

    Germany runs up against the limits of renewables.

    Germany is giving the rest of the world a lesson in just how much can go wrong when you try to reduce carbon emissions solely by installing lots of wind and solar.
    After years of declines, Germany’s carbon emissions rose slightly in 2015, largely because the country produces much more electricity than it needs. That’s happening because even if there are times when renewables can supply nearly all of the electricity on the grid, the variability of those sources forces Germany to keep other power plants running. And in Germany, which is phasing out its nuclear plants, those other plants primarily burn dirty coal.. . .Because fossil-fuel power plants cannot easily ramp down generation in response to excess supply on the grid, on sunny, windy days there is sometimes so much power in the system that the price goes negative—in other words, operators of large plants, most of which run on coal or natural gas, must pay commercial customers to consume electricity. . . .
    Because German law requires renewable energy to be used first on the German grid, when Germany exports excess electricity to its European neighbors it primarily comes from coal plants. . . .
    “If you want to use fluctuating renewable power, you have to upgrade the grids across Europe,” says Daniel Genz, a policy adviser with Vattenfall. Efforts to build that grid are under way, but they’ll be expensive: between €100 billion and €400 billion ($112 billion to $448 billion), according to a November 2015 report from e-Highway2050, which was formed by the European Union to plan for a pan-European power grid.

    • Dr. Hagen — Thanks for posting the objective story from MIT. In a related U.S. story is the PJM capacity auction (where unfortunately existing nuclear lost out yet again): http://www.utilitydive.com/news/efficiency-gas-plants-push-pjm-capacity-auction-prices-below-expectations/419806/

      • I would guess the major suppliers are fairly confident Trump will win, and protect them from punitive carbon taxes. At least on natural gas.

    • If we look at 2015, German electric rates are high despite dumping a net of over €2 billion in oversupply to its neighbors at advantageous terms, mostly to Poland, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. Germany also used French nuclear power, equal to more than double all other imports, as a backup power source in lieu of expensive storage.

      Neither this sink or source, useful for reducing costs and stabilizing the German grid, are likely to be available to a similar degree to other trade partners going forward.

      • I used numbers from here:

        https://energy-charts.de/trade.htm

        select 2015 for year
        click the bubbles beside “annual” and “value €”

      • sciguy54 — Do you live in Europe? Germany?

      • No, the US, but I have a friend who lives outside of Munich.

        I have been looking at the numbers for Germany because the engineer in me takes much more stock in numbers from a real working system than from hypotheticals and projections.

        Germany is providing much data as to how the pieces might fit together once wind and solar reach fairly high penetrations. The puzzle may look different for California when it gets there. Time will tell, but for Germany it appears that a lack of low cost storage would necessitate a vast oversupply of Solar and Wind power in order to supply the grid without backup from fossil fuel, hydro, and/or nuclear.

      • David L. Hagen

        sciguy54
        Thanks for links. Thermal and compressed air storage should be cheaper than more peak capacity.

      • If Germany were now exclusively wind and solar there were two 4 week periods within the last 12 months in which it would have needed about 8x the current capacity in order to avoid storage beyond diurnal and one or two day bridging. If German W+S were “only” increased to 5x current capacity, then it would have needed at least 16 TWh of storage to meet the demand of each 4 week period. Thermal and compressed storage are promising for short-term storage but are not likely useful for providing 4 TWh of power each week for four continuous weeks.

        Germany currently has about 25,000 wind turbines of about 2 MW average capacity. Going to 5x means the equivalent of 125,000 2MW turbines and 8x is 200,000 of course. To help paint a mental picture, consider that Germany has about 140,000 square miles of land area.

  47. David L. Hagen

    GOP proposes cutting EPA staffing to lowest level in 30 years

    The Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill released Tuesday would fund the EPA at $7.98 billion, almost $300 million less than what President Obama asked for in his budget request. That includes the agency’s regulatory budget being dropped $43 million from fiscal 2016 and $187 million below what Obama asked for in his fiscal 2017 request. . . .

    “Job creation and wage growth continue to be stifled because American job creators wake up every day worrying about what new regulation the Obama administration will issue next,” Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert said. “The EPA’s overreach continues to cause economic harm, and this bill denies funding for more job-killing regulators while providing necessary resources to effective programs that actually improve the environment and protect our natural resources.”

    The bill also includes a number of provisions that will block EPA regulations. The bill would block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, kill new methane regulations, prohibit regulation of lead in ammunition and fishing tackle and not allow the EPA to implement the Waters of the United States rule that is currently blocked by a federal court.

  48. If you get into a fight with the imaginary monsta under yer bed, you’ll never win.

    Andrew

  49. “Italy’s population will shrink from 61M to 8M and Germany from 80M to 4M over the century.”

    Is it really going to be that drastic? Germany will lose over 90% of its population?

  50. Whilst I can understand the emphasis on energy production, I don’t think that sufficient regard has been given to energy efficiency. For example the use of the Passive House standard. No it won’t solve the problem of energy demand but energy efficiency should make a useful contribution.

  51. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #228 | Watts Up With That?