Climate change: The Critical Decade

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

  1. sniffy Banned Banned

    Anyone thought of reducing energy consumption? Failing that, couldn't we put all those one baby one couple men churning around China without a hope of finding a spare female to good use? Some sort of giant treadmill or series of treadmills?

    Could adopt something similar here in the UK with all the unemployed youth hanging around on street corners unable to buy their uni places next year.
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  3. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Not meant to be patronizing, I just was wondering if you meant a specific country like the US vs the World as not everyone takes a global view.

    But that's the problem it's not free anymore than pumping oil out of the ground is free. Get a quote to put PV on your roof to replace the Grid and you'll find out how expensive FREE can be.

    Same goes for wind. Those turbines are very expensive and have low capacity factors even in good wind areas and worse, as we install more and more of them the good areas with high average winds and siting close to distribution lines tend to be gone, upping their costs.


    Hardly enough to keep up with our growth though even with decades of subsidies.

    Consider (Source EIA):

    The US used 72,638,657 Billion BTUs of primary energy in 1996 and 7,164,759 were from Renewable sources, or 9.9%.

    But in 2008 we used 73,421,316 Billion BTUs and yet only 7,380,966 were from Renewables or 10.1%, a TINY annual increase, barely keeping up with our growth in energy use.

    More importantly, most of our renewables still come from Hydro and yet that's dropping not rising. Indeed, our share of renewables is essentially no greater now than it was over a decade ago and considering the extra 50+ million people we will add by 2030 it is not very likely that we will build and install enough renewables sufficient to meet that additional demand.

    Consider, over the LAST decade, US production of Renewable energy has grown by 1,503,832 Billion BTUs.
    So let's say we double that growth over this decade, adding an additional 3,007,664 Billion BTUs and then we double that again next decade adding 6,015,328 Billion more BTUs, or a total growth of 9,022,992 Billion BTUs over the next 20 years (Which is an impressive 6 times the growth rate of the last decade, particularly considering that nearly all the renewables we added this last decade will have to be replaced as well during this same 20 years).

    Now if the 50 Million people we add to the country in that time use 20% LESS energy per capita than we do today, they will need an additional 9,340,162 BTUs, or in other words, at that growth rate the percent of energy from renewables will sorta keep pace with our growth. Of course if the 310 million people already here also cut their energy use per capita by 20% over that same time frame, then the absolute percent of energy from renewables will about double to ~20%. Unfortunately, since we aren't building any new nukes, the percent of our energy from fossil fuels, even under these very optimistic projections would remain about the same as it is today.

    But those are VERY optimistic projections, particularly the expectation that we will reduce our energy use at 1% per year for the next 20 years, since our track record has been the opposite, and we have increased our energy use by about 1/2% per year over the last 20 years.

    So much for momentum and that's even considering that the US is the largest producer of renewable energy in the world (We generate about 5 times as much electricity via renewables and over 10 times as much Biofuel as Germany, indeed, I believe China would be the closest to us followed by Brazil (Figures are a few years old and so China with it's large committment to Hydro may have passed the US by now).

    Sorry, but your Elephant is but a mouse.

    So NO, Germany has NOT "done it" as 79% of it's energy comes from Fossil Fuels and 11% from Nuclear and only 10.5% from others, virtually the same as the US. But their plans are to cut back on Nuclear and so they plan on building a lot more coal plants.

    You might want to reconsider that stance since it's a lot easier to be condescending when you're right.

    Solar PV power has great potential, but you need to keep this in perspective.
    In 2008 Solar PV supplied almost nothing compared to the world's total energy supply. Indeed, the amount of new Wind power tends to be much higher then the amount of new PV.

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    So renewables and Nuclear are ~20% of our energy, but of the renewables, about 70% of that is Hydro and traditional biomass, mostly wood.

    About 6% comes from all other forms, and by far the largest of that is Solar hot water heating.

    Last edited: May 26, 2011
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  5. sniffy Banned Banned

    The only answers currently are local ones until everyone gets less selfish and starts to think in terms of global solutions. Until then low tech solutions (or simple policy reversals) such as not concreting over half the world's surface, digging big sink holes, harnessing renewable energies, reducing consumption, etc etc.

    There is also the grim possibility we are doomed.

    Sticks head in sand.
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  7. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    *Sighs* and this is the other problem James and this one IS partially the scientists fault
  8. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Not in the cards.

    The US probably has more road miles per capita then almost any other nation.


    Based on data from the Federal Highway Administration:

    The total land area of the contiguous 48 states is ~3 million square miles.

    There are currently 8.5 million lane miles of road in the lower 48 states at an average lane width of 11 feet.

    Thus roads cover ~18,000 square miles of land.

    Or less than 6/10ths of one percent.

    Add in shoulders, driveways and parking lots and the total would still be well less than one percent.

    At our current rate of building of new highways it would take nearly 2 centuries for us to get to 1 percent.

    Highly unlikely.

  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I'm just laughing at you posting a political hot paper requested from one of W&Co's industry-captured agencies by the Senator from Oak Ridge Tennessee as "less biased".
    Seems to have missed more than half, on the nuke side.

    And the "huge" subsidies for wind & solar are less than the loan guarantees alone, for nukes.
    A fact which I continue to lament - and notice: the subsidies and results line up well. We have subsidized those power sources - government support - in somewhat similar proportions to the power we get from them (the nuke subsidies have been relatively unrewarding, but that's an outlier).

    So a redealing of the support deck might very well redeal the results, over time. Put the hundreds of billions into thermal solar that have been sunk into nukes, and see what happens. Prior indications are that we'd get far more bang for our bucks just down the wire, and possibly some truly extraordinary external benefits.
  10. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    what do you mean?
    (yes my post wasn't scientific)
  11. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

    do you think if the world stopped producing CO2 right now, will stop global warming or the climate change? maybe yes, but, what if the climate change now, is irreversebal?

    now let's forget about the no co2 at all, will the oil companies accept that all cars turn electric or hydrogen powered ? or most energy sources becomes renewebal? what about the OPEC countries?
    solutions are avaible, and can be applied to reduce the co2, alot too, but, it's almost impossible to do that, as long as there is oil in the world, wich is cheaper to use for energy production, that solar energy, or some other ways, nuclear energy is not a very good option, however, small countries and medium countries, can get powered by green energies, or at least a big part of it's energy production is green, brazil's 80% of it's energy production is green, by hydroelectric plants
    wind, solar, and thermal powers, can provide a good percentage of the needed electricity, also self powered houses, and officises, or at least the public utulities, well, no company can stop people from making their houses self powered
    but, who will actually do something to change?

    so, to my opinion
    you can forget about stoping the climate change or the global warming, or stop the oil extensive use

    however, cars can emit the co2 in some kind of reservcoir in the car, so not released in the air, factories can do that too, it's a good solution actually, it may work if it is used on big scale, and for the co2 gas, they can compress it and barry it, or refill the empty oil (i don't know the english word), i mean where the oil is, it's place unerground, when it's empty of oil, they can refill it to store the co2 their and stay their, or, they can recycle the co2 to turn some of it into oxygen, by photosystense-like ways...there many ways to get ride of it, so, no oil company of country will be against that, oil companies will continue sell their oil, and life will go on, and after that, they can start to use reneweball energies, well, time can do that

    as for the countries that don't have much oil, or don't have oil, it's very usefull for them to use renewebal energies, wich can cost less, and can give them all what they need of energy
    Last edited: May 26, 2011
  12. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    Has anybody noticed how bad the flooding in the mid-west really is ? Man alive ! High water should be in a couple more weeks , It is looking worse than Katrina . Shit I wonder how many people are displaced or going to be displaced
  13. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Loan guarantees aren't a subsidy until we have to provide them.
    Since we aren't building any nukes this amounts to ZERO current subsidies.

    But according to you Solar Thermal is the CHEAPEST form of energy, so why do you now say it needs any Subsidy?

    Again, you focus on Nukes but we aren't building nukes so this means nothing. It's wind and solar with the biggest current subsidies in the form of Investment Tax Credits and even more valuable, Production Tax Credits.

    The total subsidy in dollars isn't much because the amount of energy we get from Wind and Solar is so small, but the subsidy is quite large on a per kWh basis.

  14. wellwisher Banned Banned

    An untapped source of renewable energy is where the fresh water of rivers meet the oceans. There is a chemical potential between the two due to the salt in the ocean. The osmotic pressure of the ocean water is about 27 atmospheres. This chemical potential can be tapped to drive a osmotic work cycle, or tapped directly as a current to make electricity.
  15. ULTRA Realistically Surreal Registered Senior Member


    The debate over climate change is being spun, that much is obvious as the article above points out, but what i don't get is what possible benefit can come from denial anyway. The search for renewables and cleaner, safer energy is pumping billions into the world economy. I think that if global warming really was a myth, the worlds' most rich and powerful wouldn't just be wasting their money like that now, would they? Especially now that every penny has to be accounted for like never before.
  16. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    Arthur your probably right. I was under the impression that Germany had reached parity between the grid and solar input.

    The point remains though that a can do attitude makes almost anything possible.

    I still find it hard to believe that we won't find a way to economically harvest wind, wave, tidal, solar and geothermal energies to render coal fired power station (dirty big fuckers, I've seen them) and Nuclear (so lovely and clean - till they go wrong!!) obsolete.

    The real urgency of course is to clean up transport and surely that acan be done in a decade.

    And By the way I do have my own solar array and a smokin' evacuated tube solar hot water system and The house runs within the energy produced on the roof (WOOT!) and it didn't cost a fortune by any means.
    Time a new quote Arthur - modules are not too expensive these days (China is knocking 'em out for a song).

    I wish everyone could get over this tragic mental block about the supposed massive cost of going with renewables. The cost (not necessarily fiscal) of not changing is far, far worse. Infinitely worse.

    I have some faith in the Earth as an organism to self correct our deviant ways (possibly at our expense) and find its equilibrium but if mankind chokes the atmosphere with our abuse of carbon and kills the coral reefs of the world, I'll be one of the first to throw up my hands in despair and jump off a cliff.

    The world has a massive over supply of clean energy at its disposal, now if only some political will and global action can ensue, we can fix the problem.

    Getting back to the OP, in regard to Australia's political situation, we have two visionary, motivated, capable individuals in the two prominent parties - problem is they were both ousted by their own small minded parties.

    There's a fella called Malcolm Turnbull who has the vision and charisma (and is a genius to boot) to lead a country into a revolutionary phase of change - towards a clean economy. The poor bastard is sitting back, biting his tongue as the leader of his party bumbles on in a George Bushesque manner (scary as shit!).

    I'm a bit interested in Wellwisher's osmatic work cycle - any more info??
  17. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    spud i voted for rudd but he HAD to go, he had something like a 500% staff turn over, not to mention the damage he was doing to himself. He wasnt lissioning to anyone from his own party, he was burning out himself, his staff, his minsters, he was pulling all control into himself. No he was a VERY bad PM, not for the reasons the libs would like to belive (ie because he was labor) but bad non the less.

    Turnbull is a compleatly different story, he could be one of the greatest PMs we have ever had, problem is he is on the wrong side of the parliment. He should be in Labor, not in the Liberal party
  18. Spud Emperor solanaceous common tater Registered Senior Member

    Asguard, I agree.
    I've never voted for the Libs but I do believe Turnbull would make a great Australian PM.

    A mate of mine made me laugh the other day. We'd been chatting about Barry O'Farrell (or Barrell O' Fun as I call him) and his monumental fuck up in regards to solar in NSW and the conversation turned to Abbott.
    So my mate says " Yes, I'm very happy for him to go in fun runs and cycle till the cows come home and he's most likely a good family man, I just want him to stay the hell out of politics." Here, here!
  19. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    i cant make up my mind about abbott, i cant work out how much is his "religious convictions" (undiognosed mental illness) and how much is him pandering to other morons. Climate change for instance i dont think he has an opinion or really cares one way or the other, hes just pandering. Remember he was trained as a CATHOLIC priest (no child abuse jokes please) and in general catholics here smile and wave at the pope and do what every the hell they want, its only the George Pells of the world you have to worry about (his predessor as Archbishop of Melbourn was a wonderful man, and an essondon surporter and in the middle of a confermation cerimony he started praying for the bombers to kick ass

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    Its like costellos brother, i would vote for him no worries, i think he actually kept his brother in check because how big a media story would it have been if he had openly oposed his brother

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    The one who scares me is Keven Andrews. He actually belives the crap he spews and i dont mean the Hanif balls up. Hes the one who shut down the euthanasia legislation in the NT and that was as a back bencher. He would be alot better suited in Morons anonimous, i mean family first.

    Anyway as it stands there is no way i would vote lib, there are some people in there i strongly admire and turnbul is at the top of the list (Mcfarlin was another i thought was quite good) but while Abott and Andrews and there leader in the senate (whos name escapes me but who rolled turnbul) are the major voice there is no way
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Compressing all that CO2 would require both very large tanks and a massive compressor (run by a gas engine?) to compress all that CO2. That would take a lot of fuel and result in the release of even more CO2.

    True, but trees are so much cheaper. Plant them and forget them. (Or more accurately don't cut them down, then forget them.)
  21. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    It might be hard to believe, but the figures don't lie, and the reality is the the problem is a lot larger than most people realize. Because for the US, even if we build 7 times as much new renewables as we did over the next decade in the upcoming two decades, and all the new population (50 million) use 20% less energy per person as we do today, we will just stay even with our existing use of fossil fuels. To make a dent in the existing use would require a far more ambitious program.

    In a decade?
    It takes nearly 1 decade for half the existing cars to be retired, and currently there are no great changes expected over the upcoming decade (the amount of EVs for instance will only be a small fraction of the total car production). So no, come a decade from now our automobiles fleet will be essentially the same as it is today and the growth in number of cars will increase fuel use more than the savings because the fleet mileage will be slightly higher.

    Good on you.
    But how about some details before I go, WOW.

    The average residential home in the US uses 920 kWh per month.

    A grid tie system that would produce ~1/2 of that power in a good sun area (much of our population doesn't live in those areas though) would cost about $15,000 installed and only save the homeowner about $50 per month in electrical costs. Unfortunately if you buy and finance a system at 6% interest you would pay over 3 times that much per month for 10 years and it would take 33 years to break even, but unfortunately your system probably won't last that long and after 30 years will be down to ~75% or less of the original output.
    (note have to add in mounting, installation both contractor and electrician and permits to get full cost)

    It's not a mental block, the costs are indeed high.
    More to the point, renewables only generate electricity, but electricity only represents about 40% of our energy use and so even if increase the amount of renewable energy we get today from Wind, Wave, Tidal, Solar and Geothermal by TEN times current amounts over the next 10 years, it will just barely keep up with growth in electrical demand due to population growth and have virturally no impact on use of Fossil fuel for transportation and industrial uses (about half our energy use).

    Last edited: May 27, 2011
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. But still, it's doable. In 1999, we had 2.4 megawatts of wind power in the US. In 2010, just over ten years later, we had 40 - a factor of 16 improvement in 11 years. In 1996, worldwide 100 megawatts worth of solar panels were sold. In 2003, 700 megawatts were sold - a factor of 7 in 7 years. Between 2004 and 2009 grid-interactive solar PV installations have been increasing at a rate of 60% a year - that's a factor of 7 in only 5 years.

    And in terms of energy efficiency, keep in mind that in 1999, there were no commercial hybrid or electric cars being sold. Now there are almost two million hybrids on the road, Toyota is planning to sell a million hybrids a year, and Nissan is shipping Leafs as fast as they can make them. The Volt pluggable hybrid is out and the Prius PHEV is launching in less than a year.

    20 years ago compact fluorescents were an oddity, something that people gawked at. Now they are so common that some cities are thinking about outlawing incandescent bulbs in favor of them. And they're not even the "new thing" - solid state lighting is slowly taking over from fluourescents. So that's between a 4x and 10x reduction in energy taken by lighting instruments in 20 years - and old fashioned light bulbs are 'retired' pretty quickly.

    So yes, a factor of 7 in 20 years is an aggressive target - but we've been doing far better than that lately. All we have to do is continue this level of effort. It won't be easy but it is definitely doable.

    Absent some reason to retire them sooner, like high gas prices.

    There are no wearout mechanisms in current panels or inverters. I have solar panels that are 20 years old that are putting out the same amount of power they did when I bought them.

    I see this question not as "when will we have enough alternative energy sources to replace oil?" but as "what alternatives will we use when we run out of oil?" If we replace oil gradually, the pain won't be too bad. If we just continue increasing oil consumption, the pain will be extreme when we do run out of cheap, easy to extract oil.

    So the real question is - are we smart enough to avoid that?
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    A related topic:

    [thread=108255]Personality rules reactions to climate change[/thread]

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