# Climate change: The Critical Decade

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by James R, May 23, 2011.

1. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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7,829
What FREE renewable energy are you talking about?
The problem with adopting more renewable energy has always been that it is very expensive compared to other options. In the US we pay large subsidies to Wind and Solar and still the amount of energy we get from them, after all this time, is pitifully small compared to our overall usage.

Who is WE in this statement?

What do you mean, (more precisely), by "we can make the change in the space of ten years or so".

Without a few specifics, that claim seems near impossible.

Arthur

3. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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24,041
Incompetent bookkeeping is the only remaining support of that illusion.

In my state, a local utility is losing money because its wind generation capability overran the growth in spot demand, and it has no storage capability. The local nuke, on the other hand, has subsidized waste storage and a host of other hooks into the taxpayer's pocket, on top of its risk premium (which is simply left out of all official calculations) and other costs. Plus, since it has the same design infelicities that were so much trouble at Fukushima, it is facing either an expensive retrofit or further neglect of hazard.

Meanwhile, the mercury in the lakes (along with the other problems with coal power) has damaged various fishing and other commercial/recreational resources, at large but untabulated cost. And so forth.

And we haven't even started talking about thermal solar - the cheapest form of power production yet invented, AFAIK.
That's idiotic. They're going to play with the weather to counter the effects of a change in the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and what could go wrong?

So: if we find out after thirty years the effects of our attempts to curb the effects of CO2 buildup are even worse than the effects of the CO2 buildup we have done nothing about, we can just stop and the effects will vanish? That would include the CO2 buildup, apparently - its effects vanish too, we are to presume.

5. ### madanthonywayneMorning in AmericaStaff Member

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12,461
Cutting down on emissions enough to make a difference in global warming projections would cost upwards of a trillion dollars per year. Wasting a trillion dollars per year would be quite harmful.

Even assuming it's not a waste, the reduction in carbon output necessary to address global warming is beyond our reach with current technology. I mean, look at China. Their increase in co2 output for 2009 (the most recent data) was the second largest one year increase for any nation in recorded history! The top 6 largest increases in co2 production in recorded history were all China and they were all in the past decade.

How do we go from the fasted growth in co2 output in recorded history to enough of a decrease to stop global warming? You think China is ready to stop industrializing? How about India?

Last edited: May 25, 2011

7. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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12,713
Agreed. However, investing a trillion dollars in renewable, clean, low carbon energies will result in new industries, new jobs, new fields of research and new educational opportunities. It would be no more of a "waste" than the Apollo program was, or than Toyota's hybrid program was.

Nonsense. We could accomplish a massive reduction tomorrow through nothing more than a concerted conservation effort. We just don't want to, because it would be annoying.

Long term we could easily greatly reduce our carbon footprint by doing nothing more than replacing coal burning power plants with nuclear plants. That alone would reduce our carbon output by 35% - and nuclear plants are definitely "current technology."

8. ### madanthonywayneMorning in AmericaStaff Member

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12,461
yes, but how much do we need to reduce carbon output to stop global warming? I did a quick calculation to try to figure out how much we'd need to decrease carbon output to cancel out a three degree rise in temperature over 100 years and came up with 53 gigatons per year. Given that current output is only about 30 gigatons per year, that seems unachievable. To cancel out a 2 degree change over 100 years would require a decrease of just 35 gigatons per year. Still a bit over total world output .

Unless my math is way off (it could be, it's based on this article), we would need cuts of 90% or more in co2 output to really make a difference in global warming projections.

Do you really think that's achievable without impoverishing or killing most of the human race?

9. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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24,041
Slowing it down would be worth many trillions.

Too late to stop it, but the difference between a quick rise to a high end projection and a slow rise to a low end projection is huge.

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Nuclear is not overly subsidized, certainly nowhere near the rate of $.022 per kWh for the first 10 years of operation that Wind receives. Except the Nuclear plants were reviewed following Fukishima and generally found to be ok. The fact is we have better power backup and the midwest is not expecting a Tsunami anytime soon. Besides, the issue is basically a red herring. We have only 1 Nuke under construction and that's really just the completion of one started decades ago and then halted. None are currently being built from the ground up. The vast majority of power plant capacity that we have been adding for the last several decades have been Natural Gas and Coal. And we are finally dealing with that issue. Continuing that trend Mercury emissions were cut a further 33% in the 90s and last Wed the EPA announced even tougher new rules on Mercury. The rules give power plants four years to meet the standards and will prevent 91 percent of mercury in coal from being released into the air. (Coal is responsible for about 1/3 of our mercury). This is already underway as the EPA has targeted the biggest mercury emitters and they are installing Activated Carbon Injection. ACI is the primary technology being used to reduce mercury emissions from new and existing coal plants. Data from power plants shows that the tested boilers achieved, on average, reductions in mercury emissions of about 90 percent. As of June 2010, nearly 40 coal plant units had installed ACI and more than 100 additional units had ordered ACI. Source? And if that's really the case then WHAT is slowing it's adoption? Arthur Last edited: May 25, 2011 11. ### iceauraValued Senior Member Messages: 24,041 The lowest careful estimates for federal subsidy to nukes run about$.07 @kwh. The highest run almost double that.

They are estimated, because good data is not easy to come by - some of it requires lawsuits and FOIA pressure, some is simply buried in budgetary sand.

And that's permanent, ongoing - no ten year limit. http://earthtrack.net/files/uploaded_files/nuclear subsidies_report.pdf
My local one's state of "OK" includes the setting aside, without action, of five year old complaints from its own engineers about its vent design - they spotted the Fukushima vent design problem years ago. It's still there. But the plant is OK, in the sense of operating normally - at least, in the year or so since they got the big control box hoisted off of the main junction cooling pipe assembly it landed on and bolted back on the wall.

Last edited: May 25, 2011
12. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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7,829
For a somewhat less biased view.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/execsum.pdf

See Table ES5 which clearly shows the HUGE per kWh subsidy for Wind and Solar.

If the $.07 per kWh was correct then the subsidy for nuclear would have been over$56 BILLION dollars.
Which is preposterous considering the total Energy Subsidies in the budget for all sources were only $16 Billion dollars. But again, this has NOTHING to do with the argument about why we aren't building more Renewables if they are so cheap because we AREN'T building any new Nukes. Arthur Last edited: May 25, 2011 13. ### iceauraValued Senior Member Messages: 24,041 Read the introduction - that isn't even claimed to be a complete accounting. And the source - Lamar Alexander's 2007 political hot papers? That's your idea of "less biased" about nukes, or government subsidy - the 2007 Republican Senator form Tennessee? Christ almighty. 14. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member Messages: 7,829 But it got all the BIGGIES So nothing big is left out, but there is NO REASON to include R&D sunk YEARS ago on Nuclear energy. Keeping track of water under the dam makes no sense at all. It's only ONGOING subsidies that matter. NO. So the SOURCE was the EIA. But since we aren't building any new nukes it's kind of a moot point. The fact is though, almost all our new electrical capacity is coming from NG and Coal, not Nuclear and not Wind or Solar even considering their large ITC and PTC subsidies. A point which you continue to ignore. Arthur Last edited: May 25, 2011 15. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member Messages: 7,829 You can't invest a Trillion dollars even if you wanted to. We are already investing HUGE amounts of money in energy research and sucking up massive amounts of scientific talent both at the government/university level and at the corporate level. There simply isn't sufficient additional research agencies who could use that much money. Really? Energy is so cheap we waste it? What low hanging fruit haven't been picked? China's use of energy is growing by leaps and bounds. Is this because they are wasteful? See Ice's comments on why not nuclear. He may be wrong, but he is not alone. The problem is the largest block of voters who want to do something about Climate Change won't accept Nuclear Power as the solution. Arthur 16. ### Me-Ki-GalBannedBanned Messages: 4,634 Oh you all got to hear this braking news . The wind generators in Montana are being asked to shut down . To much power coming from the Hydo Dams from all the run off from snow pack . They can only handle so much load and the Hydo dams are putting out to much already . Is that a crack up or what . To Funny . I just gots to shake my head . The wind Turbine people are crying the blues for they to date have not made the money and now they got to shut down . To Funny To Funny . Life is a joke and then you die 17. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member Messages: 7,829 Not all that surprising. Late Spring in the Upper Midwest is our low point in Electricity demand (don't need either cooling or heating and the days are pretty long so demand from lighting is down and since it's spring people are out and about), but Spring is the high point for both Wind and Water, so occasional excesses are to be expected. It's just a temporary thing and as the Summer wears on the amount of wind will decrease and the amount of water available. Eventually we may come up with cheap enough means of storing this excess generation, but for now, it isn't generally economical to do so. A problem for us with land based Wind systems is our peak demand is typically in the dead of winter and the dog days of Summer and those are the low points for wind generation. Solar peaks nicely with our Summer demand but no renewable peaks with our Winter demand. 18. ### Me-Ki-GalBannedBanned Messages: 4,634 Yeah I believe that . We were in drought for many many years until a couple years ago so the excess was not there in the past . This year we are between 160 to 400 percent of average . No telling what is going to happen in the next several weeks when the real melt starts . The rivers are just starting to fill up . Flooding is going on big time in the eastern part of the state . The Missouri river just might be roaring in the next couple of weeks so look out all you people that live close to the river . Coming at you . Oh I promise not to piss in your water even though I am tempted . Living at the head waters can be fun . The fishing is good 19. ### Spud Emperorsolanaceous common taterRegistered Senior Member Messages: 3,899 Wow! All that renewable energy going to waste. Who'd have thought? 20. ### Spud Emperorsolanaceous common taterRegistered Senior Member Messages: 3,899 Arthur, your patronising attitude doesn't become you. You know very well the 'we' I'm referring to,...if I really have to spell it out, HUMANS! As, far as free energy, you know, the sun - the great shower of gold that pours squidbillions of kilowatts of energy upon the Earth every day, and the wind which blows its lungs out too. Yes, I know infrastructure has to put in place but the payback period is just not that long. The U.S may only have a fractional percentage of its energy produced by renewables at present but it increases every year and with a little momentum it could snowball and make massive impact within ten years. Impossible you say! Come on Arthur! There's an elephant in the room,.... Somebody has already done it....in the space of a decade....despite having one the lowest insolation rates in the developed world... ....Shhhhhh!,... not too loud now ....FUCKING GERMANY!!! Arthur, I did think you were a bit more aware than that! Sorry if I'm being condescending now. Sorry! The really interesting thing for me in this thread is the attitude shift apparent in Madant's thinking, He's been a staunch conservative with seemingly exceedingly reserved views (sorry Madant, you're a clever guy but stuck in a conservative rut!) for ever but there's a sniff that he's seen the light! Others might just come on board. Renewables are the answer to the massive pollution problem and even Climate change. And by the way, in the time it took me to write that post, China just churned out another city's worth of solar modules. And how do you cover the world with PV? One town at a time. 21. ### jmpetValued Senior Member Messages: 1,891 Carbon-trapping and sequestering on a grand scale. Terraform the Earth. 22. ### billvonValued Senior Member Messages: 12,713 Exactly. The RE market was around$8 billion in 1995. Now it's around \$120 billion - which means that over the next eight years we'll invest a trillion dollars even it RE doesn't grow at all.

Absolutely. When's the last time you saw traffic on the freeway slow down to 50mph - not due to traffic, just to save gas? How many people have become vegetarians to save energy? How many people avoid travel to save energy? How many people bike instead of drive to work?

We use all that energy because it's cheap. If it wasn't so cheap we'd slow down/bike/eat more vegetables/buy a 50mpg car instead of a 13mpg one.

In terms of conservation? Motor controls. TOU controls for electricity. Solid state lighting. Geothermal. Speed limits (voluntary or mandated.) Streetlight dimming. Smart grid controls.

No argument there. Everyone wants a solution; no one wants to pay for a solution, or sacrifice anything for a solution.

Is all that energy reduction/alternative energy generation within our reach? Absolutely. But we do have to reach for it. Hoping someone else will do it will get us . . . to where we are now.