Some thoughts

I’ve been commenting elsewhere about Matt Ridley’s recent article, but have probably contributed enough there, so will stop now. I did, however, have some views that I thought I might express here.

Firstly, this whole saga does seem like a classic example of ClimateballTM. Write an article that suggests that those with whom you disagree are selfish Toffs (?) who are taking the low moral ground and who don’t care about the poor. Then complain when someone writes a response that might be regarded as somewhat insulting (some might disagree). Manage to get a response posted on your critic’s site and get your critic to apologise. Be magnanimous so that it appears that you’re taking the moral high ground. Avoid apologising about the insulting tone in your original article, and avoid having to actually address any of the criticisms of your original article. End up with everyone focusing on the somewhat insulting critique. Clever or devious?

I did, however, have some actual thoughts about Matt Ridley’s views. I don’t expect Matt Ridley to actually respond and I certainly don’t think he’s obliged to. That, however, doesn’t mean that I can’t express them.

  • One of Matt Ridley’s arguments appears to be that the extreme high emission pathway (RCP8.5) is virtually impossible, therefore we shouldn’t consider it. This may be true, but it’s not clear that it’s actually impossible. Also, if we were to follow such an emission pathway, even Matt Ridley’s preferred climate sensitivity estimates suggest that we will probably have substantial warming by 2100 (more than 3oC relative to pre-industrial times). Is Matt Ridley, therefore, willing to make an even stronger statement? If this pathway is almost impossible and if it were to lead to subtantial warming by 2100 were we to follow it, does Matt Ridley think we should avoid it even if it does become possible. If not, why not?
  • Another of Matt Ridley’s arguments is that the newest and best (his own constructs) climate sensitivity estimates suggest that if we follow the RCP6.0 emission pathway, warming will not be severe by 2100 (i.e., just less than 2oC relative to pre-industrial times). Is Matt Ridley at least willing to acknowledge that even his preferred estimates suggest that we can’t rule out substantial warming (more than 3oC relative to pre-industrial times) with high confidence? If not, why not? If he does accept this, does he still think that the RCP6.0 pathway is one we should consider following, despite the potential of severe warming? If so, why?
  • Another of Matt Ridley’s arguments appears to be that we would expect people to be much wealthier, in real terms, in the future than they are today. Therefore they would be more able to adapt. However, for this to be the case we would expect that there would need to be substantially more energy generation in the future than now (maybe 3 – 4 times more in 2100, than today). Apparently – according to Matt Ridley – RCP8.5 is impossible and – as I understand it – RCP6.0 could not provide this level of energy unless we’ve become incredibly efficient, or a reasonable fraction is generated by alternatives to fossil fuels. If a reasonable fraction is from alternatives, and if RCP6.0 could still lead to substantial warming by 2100, why not simply aim to have a bigger fraction from alternatives? If they can provide 20%, why not 40%? If they can provide 40%, why not 60%? Does Matt Ridley disagree with this and, if not, how would he propose achieving this?

So, those are some thoughts I had. I’ll add that I’m not an expert on the details of the RCP pathways, so if I’ve got something wrong, feel free to point it out. I mainly perceive them as possible future forcing pathways, rather than real representations of possible future economic pathways. They do, however, bracket the likely range of forcing pathways, and so do give us an indication of how our possible policy decisions may influence future warming.

I will also add that I do find Matt Ridley’s suggestion those concerned about climate change are unconcerned about the poor, rather irritating/insulting. Our policy makers are responsible – and us, collectively, for electing them – for the decisions that they make and they often make, in my view, rather stupid ones. Blaming this on those who think they should make a decision, rather than on the policy makers for making a stupid one, just seems a little simplistic. Additionally, it is quite possible to be concerned about more than one thing at the same time, and to potentially address more than one issue at any one time. There are many, myself included, who think that we can introduce policies that will address both climate change, and poverty (and many other things). They’re not mutually exclusive. Although I’ve seen many argue that we should address poverty before addressing climate change, I’ve yet to see anyone argue the reverse.

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230 Responses to Some thoughts

  1. The last point is pure nonsense. The plans are for making energy more expensive in the rich democracies and use this money to reduce income taxes and thus unemployment. The poor will benefit from the reduction in unemployment. And the people that support mitigation are normally also the people that would like to redistribute more to allow the poor the ability to develop themselves and life in worth. It are the likes of Matt Ridley that do everything to block this redistribution and keep the poor down.

    The poor in the other countries will benefit from the reduced demand for fossil fuels and consequently the reduced world market prices for fossil fuels. These poor will also benefit from the more energy efficient technologies and the renewable energy technologies that will be developed. Less centralised energy systems are great for poor countries in Africa. Africa is very thinly populated and big power plants with expensive long power lines are a relatively expensive solution; renewable energy a great solution in many cases. Somehow people like to speak about overpopulation in Africa, but an important developmental problem is that many countries are actually very thinly populated and that thus infrastructure is very expensive per person.

  2. Joshua says:

    ==> “I will also add that I do find Matt Ridley’s suggestion those concerned about climate change are unconcerned about the poor, rather irritating/insulting. ”

    Same ol’ same ol.

    In all fairness, it takes place on both sides: Exploit “the poor” to score points in the climate wars. It’s identity-aggressive behavior of the sort to be expected with polarized issues that overlap with ideological identification. Distinguish yourself from the Otter by explaining how your values differ. Otters like starving children, doncha know, but “we” don’t.

    ==> “Additionally, it is quite possible to be concerned about more than one thing at the same time,”

    In point of fact, the existence of poverty is obviously, a complicated matter. Certainly, access to energy is a significant factor in addressing poverty, but certainly there are many other related issues. Focusing on policies to increase usage of alternative fuels, as if children would suddenly stop starving if we stopped subsidizing renewables or pledged to never tax CO2, seems counterproductive to me – if the goal is to fight poverty. Particularly relevant is that in the real geopolitical world, BAU means further enriching authoritarian governments that deny their citizens the basic civic infrastructure needed to lift them out of poverty.

  3. cartoonmick says:

    It really isn’t all that difficult.

    A simple solution to future pollution is depicted in this cartoon . . . . . .

    http://cartoonmick.wordpress.com/editorial-political/#jp-carousel-917

    Cheers
    Mick

  4. Joshua,
    Indeed, and something I’ve been thinking about and may write about (although I’m struggling to crystalise my thoughts) is the difference between how one might ideally engage in a discussion about a complex, science-like topic, and how it happens in reality. I think I’m only starting to understand the latter (although, I’m not suggesting that my own style is ideal in any way, but I don’t think it quite matches how it happens in reality either).

  5. BBD says:

    My thoughts on Ridley, Lewis etc are very simple: it’s all predicated on an underestimate of climate sensitivity which is incompatible with paleoclimate behaviour. Nothing else needs to be said. Back to the drawingboard, NL.

    Tactical science isn’t necessarily good science. But is does make good advocacy.

  6. BBD says:

    ATTP

    I will also add that I do find Matt Ridley’s suggestion those concerned about climate change are unconcerned about the poor, rather irritating/insulting.

    I think ‘astonishingly offensive and profoundly hypocritical’ captures it better.

  7. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I think this comment from the article you retweeted is relevant:

    ==> “Here is the next catch: in the eyes of others, what matters most to judge a person’s credibility is their confidence. Research into the credibility of expert witnesses has identified the expert’s projected confidence as the most important determinant in judged credibility”

    I think of that kind of phenomenon when I read how these arguments play out from someone like Ridley or many on the other side of the fence.

    It’s funny that I think I tend to have an opposite response; The greater an “expert’s” confidence, generally, the less credible I find them – unless what they’re confident about is how complex an issue is and how important it is to be open about and try to control for biases.

    Human nature when dealing with these complex problems leads us to try to reduce them to simplistic patterns – since we reason largely through a process of identifying patterns. So mix into that ideological predisposition (in this case, to demonize otters), and we should expect to get Ridley-type arguments that CO2 taxes, say – in isolation from myriad related factors – would make a significant marginal difference in the number of poor children who starve. The instinctive nature is to avoid the complexity and to be highly confident.

  8. Joshua says:

    Just went over to Judith’s and found an interesting example:

    First, we have this:

    ==> “Science is science. Policy is policy. Policy doesn’t drive science. Science can drive policy.”

    In response we have this:

    ==> “Of course policy drives science. Policy determines which scientific endeavors get funded.”

    Two, diametrically opposed and totally certain descriptions of reality. Each reflecting a (IMO counterproductive) simplification.

    Take a complex phenomenon. Reduce it to a simple pattern. State with total confidence that the world is black, or white, depending on the respective ideological predisposition.

    The next step would be to moralize about why the Otter would believe their simplification is valid. Black = children starving or white = poor children starving. Take your pick.

  9. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: The first sentnce of your third bullet point caught my eye. It reads,

    Another of Matt Ridley’s arguments appears to be that we would expect people to be much wealthier, in real terms, in the future than they are today.

    Assuming you are correct, do Ridley and others of his ilk believe that the increased wealth of the future will be more equally shared by the world’s population than it is today?

    If there is not a more equitable distribution of global wealth in the future, the poor will be poorer and the rich will be richer.

  10. JH,
    Indeed, that is a valid point and one I considered commenting on. A major issue with the wealth argument is that if you assume that future generations are as likely to substantially help those who are poorer, or who live in poorer regions (i.e., not very likely) then if income inequality continues to increase, then it’s not clear that this increased wealth necessarily helps.

    I guess some might argue that if we maintain the same income distribution as today and increase everyone’s wealth by a factor of 6, then the poor will be much better off and could cope. I’m not sure I completely buy this. There are also, of course, other issues. There are also certain things to which we cannot adapt. Also, if everyone is going to be so much wealthier, why do we care if energy is going to be more expensive?

  11. “Policy determines which scientific endeavors get funded.”

    Policy determines a part of the scientific funding, but not all. Politicians like applied science that they dream will improve the situation during their term. And they may determine the topics, but they do not determine the results.

  12. Joshua says:

    ==> “If there is not a more equitable distribution of global wealth in the future, the poor will be poorer and the rich will be richer.”

    As Anders points out – even if economic inequities continue at the same rate, or even increase, that doesn’t mean that the poor will be poorer.

  13. Willard says:

    > Manage to get a response posted on your critic’s site and get your critic to apologise. Be magnanimous so that it appears that you’re taking the moral high ground. Avoid apologising about the insulting tone in your original article, and avoid having to actually address any of the criticisms of your original article. Wnd up with everyone focusing on the somewhat insulting critique. Clever or devious?

    Both.

    Mark Lynas should ask Steve Bloom for some advice:

    I’m quite able to engage constructively with people I’ve labeled deniers if they manage to say something thoughtful, although they rarely do.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/come-on-matt-ridley-its-not-that-difficult/#comment-36801

  14. I guess one issue with the wealth argument is that it’s – sadly – hard to envision a world where there aren’t – of order – a billion people living in poverty (by any relative measure) and there aren’t regions where people are predominantly poor (I, clearly, hope that I’m wrong). If so, that means that even if the world is substantially wealthier, there will still be many without the resources to adapt – unless the wealthy suddenly become more generous than they appear to be now.

  15. Joshua says:

    ==> ” If so, that means that even if the world is substantially wealthier, there will still be many without the resources to adapt – unless the wealthy suddenly become more generous than they appear to be now.”

    IMO, GDP growth is a problematic metric, since growth in GDP can hide disparities in economic growth. A presumption that increased GDP will mean fewer starving poor children is probably reality-based to some degree, but if the focus in on reducing poverty then the focus should be on what policies are most likely to reduce poverty the greatest.

    Likewise, a presumption that increased GDP will result in fewer people at risk from climate change is problematic. As is a presumption that stopping subsidies for alternative fuels, or refusing to enact CO2 taxes, will mean fewer people at risk from climate change.

    The problem with Ridley’s argument it that it fails to address many of the complexities – and makes simplistic assumptions.

    Maybe Nic will explain that it’s because of time and space constraints? 🙂

  16. John Hartz says:

    During the course of his adult life, what exactly has Matt Ridley done to address poverty in the UK? Africa? Asia? South America?

  17. JH,
    I suspect that an argument could be made that Matt Ridley has indeed been involved in activities that have had an impact on poverty in the UK and other parts of the world. I’m not sure, though, that one would conclude that the contribution was a positive one.

  18. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I suspect the same could be said for Bjorn Lomberg.

  19. Matt’s partiotic defense of his native economy– in Northumbria, wealth is synonymous with having coal underfoot, demands that he downsize modeling outcomes in favor of upscaling future energy production.

    Look at how Matt looks at the bright side of slag !

  20. Richard Erskine says:

    Matt Ridley’s (MR) true colours are revealed in his April 2014 review of James Lovelock’s book “A Rough Ride To The Future” (Matt, there is a clue in the title), which he titles ‘James Lovelock recants his alarmism’. (Published in The Times but available on his site at http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/a-rough-ride-to-the-future.aspx ).

    MR calls the book a “delicious” read, which he sees it as a snub to environmental foes, and like James Lovelock he does seem to share a bit of a chip on the shoulder about them, but leaving that aside, he writes that Lovelock “… still thinks climate change will happen, of course, as I and most people do, but he expects us to adapt to it, especially in the design of our cities. Singapore, he points out, is a very habitable city in a climate far warmer than expected for most of the world by the end of the century.”

    In fact he misrepresents James Lovelock’s stark realism, which I would characterize as follows:

    – global warming is coming, sooner or later
    – we can’t do anything about it (geoengineering would likely do more harm than good)
    – pinch points in human evolution show we can survive even if only a few thousand pairs
    – compact cities are the future
    – the crucial point is for enough genes to survive

    As evidence here is another snippet from the book (p 122) …

    “In the longer term, possible global warming caused by our changes to the land surface and emissions of CO2 will be as great as the PETM of 55 million years ago … It need not be fatal for our great self-regulating Earth, any more than that period was. In other words, if we do nothing effective to offset global warming it will for Gaia be no more than a fever for us. I think it most likely that the number of humans surviving will be less than millions; this is more than enough for the survival of our species.”

    For me this book was a terrifying vision of writing off humanity, but allowing our genes to survive in some new phase.

    For Matt Ridley to regard this with such equanimity, that to see this as a high ground of morality (the billions who will die at the alter of extreme mitigation) is breath taking. Stop whistling in the dark Mr Ridley, or at least be as brutally honest at Lovelock.

  21. Richard Erskine says:

    Of course I meant “extreme adaptation” (correction)

  22. If the the worlds rich (and on the scale I have in mind I think everyone, who contributes to this site is rich) are to increase their wealth by a factor like eight – or even three, that cannot mean that our consumption will have the same structure and that we will just multiply that by eight or three. The wealth of the wealthiest quadrant of the Earth population will be very different in 2100 from what it’s now. How the wealthy lived 100 years ago was also in many way different form, how they live now.

    Where the change could be towards our consumption pattern is among the world’s poor, except that worlds resources do not allow for that. At the present that’s the trend. The Chinese and many others are increasing their material wealth. They are also increasing their energy consumption. That will continue for a while – and that’s not good for the environment.

    Fighting poverty is a different goal from combating climate change. What’s most effective for one is not the best for the other. Some measures may be in the optimal set of measures for both goals, while some others are counterproductive for the other. Real sustainability requires both environmental and social sustainability, but I have rarely seen that both goals have been given proper emphasis simultaneously. It’s much more common that people concentrate on one and apply wishful thinking in claiming that it’s good also for the other goal.

  23. > Another of Matt Ridley’s arguments appears to be that we would expect people to be much wealthier, in real terms, in the future than they are today. Therefore they would be more able to adapt. However, for this to be the case we would expect that there would need to be substantially more energy generation in the future than now

    I’m not sure substantially more energy use is a precondition for increased wealth. Are you asserting this is a necessary feature of the world, or a practical observation so you’d expect it to continue, or what?

    > …believe that the increased wealth of the future will be more equally shared by the world’s population than it is today? If there is not a more equitable distribution of global wealth in the future, the poor will be poorer and the rich will be richer.

    This is [self-censored], so I’m astonished to hear ATTP calling it a good point. Suppose, for example, that everyone is 4x wealthier in the future than now. So inequality has got worse. But the poor have got richer too: they are not poorer.

  24. Steve Bloom says:

    It;s interesting that Lynas fails to comprehend that lukewarmerism is a form of denial. All he needed to do was read Wikipedia.

  25. Steve Bloom says:

    I composed a longer comment for Lynas’ blog, but it’s not being accepted for the moment so I’ll post it here for the record:

    Mark, you really shouldn’t base an apology on someone else’s definition of a neologism (lukewarmer) when the long-standing definition of denial is quite clear (long-standing since it was in place long before any debate about climate policy, and note, contrary to Ridley’s weird ahistorical assertion, simply applied to rather than developed for Holocaust denial). From the Wikipedia article:

    Denial, in ordinary English usage, is asserting that a statement or allegation is not true. The same word, and also abnegation, is used for a psychological defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

    The subject may use:

    simple denial: deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether

    minimisation: admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalization)

    projection: admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility by blaming somebody or something else.

    So there’s lukewarmerism.

    Then in the linked article detailing minimisation we find:

    A variation on minimisation as a manipulative technique is “claiming altruistic motives” such as saying “I don’t do this because I am selfish, and for gain, but because I am a socially aware person interested in the common good”.

    Enter the poors!

    Re Lewis’ tightly focused efforts, energy balance models are necessarily misleading (as in lowballing) as to the future, albeit arguably interesting as a purely academic exercise. They do tell people like Ridley what they want to hear, although as ATTP notes above their high end is high enough that it still requires tamping down. The selection of the median (or mode, whatever) of EBM results as the “most likely,” as Lewis knows (and very probably Ridley too, assuming he did any actual research on this question), has been demonstrated by James Annan (an actual subject matter expert) to be simply invalid.

  26. William,

    I’m not sure substantially more energy use is a precondition for increased wealth. Are you asserting this is a necessary feature of the world, or a practical observation so you’d expect it to continue, or what?

    I’m certainly not asserting it. I’ve seen it claimed by others, but I certainly wouldn’t regard it as a necessary condition. If we maintain our current rate of energy generation, and keep it mainly fossil fuels, then we could increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations by as much as 200ppm by 2100. That’s essentially RCP4.5 and we haven’t yet increased the amount of energy we’re generating per year. So, if we expect the world to be much wealthier in real terms, and we think that RCP6.0 is about as extreme as we can go, then either we’ve become much more energy efficient (which I did point out in the post) or we’re generating a reasonable fraction through alternatives. I was simply posing the question that if we could have 10s of percent through alternatives, why not more if RCP6.0 does present a potential risk? Of course, if we could follow an RCP6.0 pathway, provide most of our energy through fossil fuels, and still be much wealthier than today, then the answer to my posited question could be “no, because we aren’t providing 10s of percent through alternatives”. (I’ve just checked, and it seems that today it’s about 15% non-fossil fuels, so I guess we’re already at more than 10%).

    This is [self-censored], so I’m astonished to hear ATTP calling it a good point. Suppose, for example, that everyone is 4x wealthier in the future than now. So inequality has got worse. But the poor have got richer too: they are not poorer.

    I didn’t call it a good point, I said valid – intentionally. I simply meant that it is point worth bringing up. I thought I had pointed out that if the income distribution stayed the same that all could become wealthier. So, yes, I agree we could see everyone getting wealthier (or having higher incomes) in real terms. I’m still not convinced that this is a particularly good argument for assuming that our wealthier future selves will be able to buy their way our of trouble, especially as it’s hard to imagine that there won’t still be regions of the world that are still too poor to actually afford to adapt.

  27. Jo says:

    WC –

    ==> “This is [self-censored], so I’m astonished to hear ATTP calling it a good point. ”

    You should read more carefully.

    I guess some might argue that if we maintain the same income distribution as today and increase everyone’s wealth by a factor of 6, then the poor will be much better off and could cope

  28. Steve Bloom says:

    Anders, one interpretation of what happened with the Ridley reply is that Lynas simply chose to not wrestle with the pig(s). Allowing someone their preferred label doesn’t change the facts.

  29. Steve,
    Possibly. I notice that Mark Lynas apologised and agreed that Ridley was actually a Lukewarmer, rather than a denier. However, the title of Mark’s earlier post was actually On Matt Ridley’s latest attempt at climate change denial. From what I’ve seen attempting – but just failing – climate change denial is not a bad description for a Lukewarmer. 🙂

  30. Steve Bloom says:

    All must agree that Ridley is a great success in all of his attempts. :).

  31. Richard Erskine says:

    Unless we decouple wealth growth from CO2 growth (whatever the relation between wealth and energy), we are as they say, doomed. It is not helpful to accuse those who recognise this stark reality of being immoral (as Mr Ridley does). All the custodians of the alarm bells are asking for any reduction in poverty to be via decarbonised Route. And in the USA it seems that Joe Citizen is ahead of the blockers in Congress and the Senate … See http://grist.org/climate-energy/americas-solar-boom-in-charts/

    … Only apologists for fossil fuels can argue with that!

  32. Yes, I’d forgotten about the Kaya identity. Isn’t that one of Roger Pielke Jr’s assertions : that wealth/economic growth is coupled to CO2 growth?

  33. I should add, that I don’t think using the Kaya identity to argue that economic growth and CO2 growth is/has to be coupled is particularly compelling, as it is just an identity that is self-evidently true (i.e., it’s basically CO2 = CO2) and the terms on the right-hand side do not need to have fixed values (in fact, they aren’t the same in all countries anyway, so it’s seem pretty poor to use it to argue that CO2 growth has to be coupled to economic growth).

  34. Jo says:

    ==> “I’m not sure substantially more energy use is a precondition for increased wealth. ”

    It is certainly important to note the extraordinary growth in energy per capita consumption (particularly in developed countries) over the past 100 years or more that tracks pretty well with economic growth. A recent slowdown in the rate of increase has been associated with a slower-growing economy. And it seems that more recently (since 2000), the ratio of GDP growth to energy consumption has become even more in-step.

    It’s hard to overstate, IMO, the importance of that relationship – if we’re talking about policies to address climate change.

  35. Joshua says:

    Say, that JO fella’ makes a really good argument: 🙂

    (It’s just a coincidence that he has the same IP address as I do, of course)

  36. Yes, I noticed 🙂 Did you want me to edit the name in the other comments?

  37. Joshua says:

    No need. I think that all my comments have some unmistakable signature features – no matter what name they’re under.

    Unfortunately.

  38. I don’t like the word decouple, as the economic growth and energy consumption are always in a way coupled, while the rates of change of the totals may be quite different and even have opposite signs.

    For long we have had both volume growth in economy and several different mechanisms that reduce the energy consumption per unit of GDP. In virtually all cases growth in an economic sector leads to more consumption that that sector would have without growth. Thus growth is always coupled to energy consumption. But we have the opposite effects from improved efficiency and structural changes, where some energy intensive sectors lose their share in the economy.

    There’s some connection between the changes that reduce energy consumption and general economic activity, as a stagnated economy may mean that such changes are also slowed down. In wealthy societies growth comes presently to a large extent from services that consume relatively little energy, while the energy efficiency has been improving for long in the most energy intensive sectors.

    Weak economy is not the main reason for the fact that OECD energy consumption is presently about the same as it was 15 years ago. 15 years ago OECD consumption was about half of the world’s total, now it’s less than 40%. During this interval China has doubled it’s consumption to more than 20% of the total.

    http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/KeyWorld2014.pdf

  39. anoilman says:

    I don’t know if I buy the whole, ‘we need more cheaper energy to sustain growth’ mantra. In very real terms where has growth in wealth come from? We outsourced a lot of jobs to the third world. The third world is now reversing that trend. How well do the different classes do with this so called trend?
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-flip-side-china-outsourcing-to-the-us/

    Increased energy prices will drive jobs back to the West. Increased cost of labor in the third world (China) will drive jobs back etc. This can mean only one thing, the cost of living is about to sky rocket, and the poor will be poorer.

    I guess I’d need to see more than a graph and some numbers. I’d like see some knowledge behind it. Otherwise we could all subscribe to “Pattern Recognition in Physics” and start looking for random numerical correlations.

  40. Richard Erskine says:

    Pekka – of course they are coupled (wealth and energy growth). The point is how much of that energy is carbon based. Hence the word ‘decoupling’. Not decoupling energy, but rather decoupling carbon. Am I missing something?

  41. Speaking of decoupling:

    [T]he experiments seemed to find that the income effect—having more money overall—outweighed the substitution effect—lower and more predictable effective marginal tax rates making it more attractive to work—especially when it came to women. A glance at the table below makes this clear.

    But it’s possible to conclude that the fall in the amount of labour those getting the NIT supply (something like 5% for the poor groups studied, and around 2% estimated for the population as a whole) is quite small, and within the bounds of what we’d be willing to accept to substantially reduce poverty.

    […]

    A second issue is the long-term response. If the negative income can counteract large environmental problems, allowing families to move away from pollution and feed their kids better and achieve more in school, we might see these people enjoy improved long-term life outcomes. Even looking at things from a narrow labour supply perspective, we know that more educated and more intelligent people supply more labour over their lives, so the long-term effect may be neutral.

    http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/welfare-pensions/weve-actually-tried-negative-income-taxes-and-they-seem-to-work/

    If Matt considers dropping oil subsidies, which seem to go against his libertarian credo, there are interesting experiments to be made with the money involved.

  42. John Mashey says:

    1) Robert Ayres & Benjamin Warr: ~neoclassical economics GDP growth: Total Factor Productivity is mostly energy*efficiency, and over last century, a big chunk of that comes from huge icnrease in fossil fuels. Bob’s new blog, Exernomics is worth reading, as there are not many physicists turned economists.

    2) See Figure 3.3. Relationship between per Capita Energy Consumption and GDP Growth from IMF, which says:
    “Energy demand growth has closely followed growth in per capita income in low- and middle-income economies, whereas high-income economies can sustain GDP growth with little if any increase in energy consumption.”
    One *must* look at the tracks different societies follow. not just the correlation between energy and GDP.
    Look at that first chart: Switzerland has a low energy consumption … are they poor there?

    To me, these look like curves where:
    Low energy = poor, more energy = richer, up to some asymptote that varies according to where you are and the sort of economy you have.

    In Silicon Valley, when VCs give your startup a lot of capital, you can:
    a) Party, with lavish facilities and too-fast growth (dot-com bubble)
    b) Invest capital into building regular income streams
    c) And when you have a successful product, the time to be working on the next ones is when the income is coming in, not after some competitor has surprised you and sales are crashing and you need to do desperate R&D to catch up.
    (A whole bunch of economic pundits don’t seem to understand this or anything to do with real R&D, and around here, they’d get fired pretty fast from any real business planning job.)

    Fossil fuels are a several-hundred year blip in human history, energy capital used to boost civilization into the industrial age and then into an era when energy MUST be income, not capital, and that means doing it by *investing* the capital. This holds even without climate issues.

    Some seem to want the scenario: human civilization depends on coal and always will (and therefore we must build more infrastructure that depends on it, ln Africa.)

    Q: what happens when the EROEI of various fossil fuels gets too low to be worth getting?
    A: not good.

  43. Richard Erskine says:

    JM – in a knowledge economy, there are of course big factors reducing necessity for energy consumption in support of income BUT then even those home working knowledge workers buy bigger cars and bigger houses and consume more, etc. … It’s complicated!

  44. Joshua says:

    Since we’re talking about complicating factors, somewhat related to Richard’s point – I think that “human capital” should be a part of these discussions.

  45. John Mashey says:

    Richard: it isn’t just knowledge workers at home, and for what it’s worth:

    a) A lot of the younger workers (around here), don’t buy cars, they use ZipCar or Uber or ride back and forth from Silicon Valley to San Francisco in WiFi busses, which are pretty efficient. People are looking forward to the combination ob Uber + ~self-driving cars. Even with SUVs, cars are more efficient than they used to be, in part because of computer simulation allowing lower weight, and lighter materials. Thank goodness the US recovered from its auto nadir of 1950s tailfins and cars with a lot of metal for the amount of space for passengers.

    Over time, smarter cards will allow more efficient highway transport, as they can drive closer together.

    Electric vehicles can be more efficient than internal combustion engines, although a Tesla S I see often at coffee shop may be a little aggressive in having its license as “BYE ICE”.
    But it takes better tech and investment in infrastructure to make these practical.

    b) Again, around here, they’re not out buying bugger houses, especially since most of the newer housing is dense infill condos nearer trains and other public transport.
    People are building zero-net-energy houses (like German passivhaus) and by state law, all new houses have to be such by 2020. But of course, these take better tech.

    c) More generally, developing countries often have to invest in energy-intense infrastructure that use a lot of steel and concrete, but over time, some of that demand gets satisfied. In US, although we have to maintain it, we don’t need to build another Interstate Highway system from scratch.

    d) See graph of energy/capita among US states. That varies in part from geography/climate, part from industry mix, and part from policy.
    The states at the bottom of the list are not particularly poor.

  46. Mike Hansen says:

    FWIW, I am among those people who find the Climateball meme annoying. It is not Cb, it is politics as usual. Ridley represents that section of the global elite and their entourages who calculate they stand to lose more from carbon mitigation than from global warming. On the rare occasion that the elite doubt their decision to oppose mitigation, they can always call upon smug and smugger to provide plausible reassurance along with some soothing moral arguments about helping the poor.

    Ridley’s article based on dropping the uncertainty range from the Lewis Curry estimates is so obviously rubbish that putting it behind a Murdoch paywall presumably helps protect it from criticism and it still reaches its intended audience.

    And John N-G has a very useful context article about the RCPs here.
    RCPs are “roughly evenly-spaced in forcing intensity so as to provide good contrasts between scenarios”.
    “Nonetheless, from my point of view it seems that RCP6.0 can crudely represent a very likely (95% probability) lower bound on business-as-usual radiative forcing by the year 2100 and RCP8.5 can crudely represent a likely (90% probability) upper bound on business-as-usual radiative forcing by the year 2100. At intermediate years, such as 2050, RCP4.5 is higher than RCP6.0 and is a better very likely lower bound.”
    http://climatechangenationalforum.org/what-is-business-as-usual/#sthash.p1s47hef.dpuf

  47. Steve Bloom says:

    Thanks for that, Mike. Smug and smugger is about right.

    While I think n-g’s article is useful if taking the RCPs at face value, as has been discussed here before there are reasons to want to add to such an analysis, e.g. the inability of the models to produce enough polar amplification to match paleo data or even the observed Arctic sea ice trend..

  48. Richard Erskine says:

    JM – thanks for another useful link to add to a burgeoning list 🙂 , which I think helps confirm that many States and citizens are ahead of Congress on this.

    When will the narrative in Washington change to reflect what citizens want (clean energy and energy use)? [paraphrasing Churchill in another context … “America always does the right thing … Eventually”]

  49. Mike,
    I’ve only watched half of that video with Lomborg and Ridley. No shortage of confidence there. I’m sure there is a term for those who are non-experts who are confident that they somehow understands things better than actual experts.

    I can see why some find the Climateball theme irritating. I use it because I think it illustrates something. I think it illustrates that much of what goes on is simply a game and maybe you’re right, it is just politics.

  50. Lars Karlsson says:

    “Another of Matt Ridley’s arguments appears to be that we would expect people to be much wealthier, in real terms, in the future than they are today. Therefore they would be more able to adapt.”

    What about the rest of the biosphere? It might actually be in a even worse condition than today, with less habitats left, more fragmented, more heavily exploited. It will hardly be more able to adapt.

  51. Lars,
    I’m guessing some people think that we can simply buy another one?

  52. Eli Rabett says:

    As usual ATTP is much too nice. Eli left a note over there, we will see if it appears

    There are a number of things which are useful for examining the clap trap that Matt Ridley is selling.

    First, climate change underway today mostly hurts the poor. It is clear that any assessment shows that the countries that are going to be most hurt by climate change are the poorest countries. Every attempt at an integrated assessment model, the IPCC reports and more shows this.

    Second, fossil fuel as an energy source is characterized by relatively low capital costs and high operational costs. Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear the reverse. If fools like Lomborg and Ridley really wanted to help the poors they would be advocating for donation by the developed world to carry those initial capital costs and increased energy efficiency so the poors were not subject to eternal thralldom under the coal and oil industry

  53. Eli,

    As usual ATTP is much too nice.

    Sorry, will try harder in future 🙂

    What you say about the difference between fossil fuel investment and non-fossil fuel investment is something that does seem to be overlooked. Having to fund 80-90% of the total cost up front, versus less than 50%, does mean that the business models would need to be different and does suggest that simply comparing the cost per MWh isn’t quite telling to whole story. Even if/when renewables become comparable in price to fossil fuels, they may still have a disadvantage in terms of how they need to be funded.

  54. Genghis says:

    Has anyone here noticed that the Fed has quietly created and transferred 14 Trillion to the 1 percenters? The US and EU wealth has been gutted.

    Hopefully everyone has already prepared for the future. I am sweating bullets, hoping my new cat is finished in time for me. Things are are going to start getting interesting soon.

  55. Eli Rabett says:

    As far as the developed world is concerned there are a lot of telephone poles already.

  56. Eli Rabett says:

    Also, it is a might strange that some people complain about how unsightly wind turbines are while ignoring telephone poles all over the landscape.

  57. John Hartz says:

    Steve Bloom:

    Upstream you state:

    While I think n-g’s article is useful if taking the RCPs at face value, as has been discussed here before there are reasons to want to add to such an analysis, e.g. the inability of the models to produce enough polar amplification to match paleo data or even the observed Arctic sea ice trend.

    What is the source of your information about the examples you cite?

  58. Genghis says:

    Alternative energy sources (wind and solar) are a net economic loss, even if given to the poor.

    I know it is counterintuitive, but except for disaster relief, aid projects, welfare, handouts, etc. etc. destroy and enslave the recipients. Just look at charities and causes, following the money leads to the truth.

  59. Willard says:

    > FWIW, I am among those people who find the Climateball meme annoying. It is not Cb, it is politics as usual.

    Actually, ClimateBall ™ is an old concept:

    Eristic, from the ancient Greek word eris meaning “wrangle” or “strife”, often refers to a type of argument that focuses on ending with successful disputation of an argument as opposed to approaching a given truth. According to T. H. Irwin, “[i]t is characteristic of the eristic to think of some arguments as way of defeating the other side, by showing that an opponent must assent to the negation of what he initially took himself to believe.” That is, eristic arguments focus on being right, or being perceived as right or compelling.[1] The aim usually is to win the argument and/or to engage in a conflict for the sole purpose of wasting time through arguments, not to potentially discover a true or probable answer to any specific question or topic. Eristic is arguing for the sake of conflict as opposed to the seeking of conflict resolution.[2]

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

    This belongs to rhetoric, and goes beyond politics, unless of course we consider that everything is political, including arguments as to who is the best hockey player of all time, i.e. Mario Lemieux.

  60. The term Climateball is supposed to be annoying. It emphasises that many people act as if they are interested in science, while they are not really interested in a better understanding, but in delaying a political response.

  61. Steve Bloom says:

    John, the Arctic sea ice trend I’m assuming you must know about, or if not see the AR5, and note that it’s high-latitude warming as well, and here’s a recent paper I just came across re a hot paleoclimate. Ballantyne et al. (IIRC) recently managed to get a model to replicate a Pliocene-like state (much cooler than the Cretaceous), but so far the thing we probably care about most, a transition to such a state from current conditions, remains unachieved due to the cold bias.

  62. Genghis,

    Alternative energy sources (wind and solar) are a net economic loss, even if given to the poor.

    What do you mean by this? Net economic loss to whom? It’s hard to see how this can be true for those living in poverty if we paid to install wind or solar farms. Or, do you mean, relative to something that would be cheaper (natural gas or coal without scrubbers)? If so, are you convinced this will always be true? What if wind turbines were manufactured locally, creating employment, rather than half of the costs going to Russian oligarchs or Australian billionaires? What about all the infrastructure? I don’t know the answers to this but what I have noticed is that all of those, so far, who assert that the developing world needs coal (or gas) don’t actually live in the developing world. I wonder what those who do think would be best. Maybe they’re concerned that if they do invest in fossil fuel based technology and we discover that climate sensitivity is probably high, that they’ll have wasted a lot of money. Again, I don’t know.

    I know it is counterintuitive, but except for disaster relief, aid projects, welfare, handouts, etc. etc. destroy and enslave the recipients. Just look at charities and causes, following the money leads to the truth.

    I always think that those who support fossil fuels above all else should be careful about implying that following the money will lead to the truth.

  63. John Mashey says:

    ATTP: see Berkeley PACE, which ran afoul of FANNIE MAE, but there are a variety of equivalent programs around here.
    The salient point is for some entities (govt or corporate) to invest capital in solar panels on houses, where individual homeowners may not have the capital or may be expecting to move in a few years.
    Likewise, individual farmers don’t build wind turbines, but lease the fraction of land needed.

    Of course, Ridley has a track record in finance that is not so good for most people .. But then, what can one expect from somebody who worked fir Roger Bate back in early 1990s.

  64. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “Net economic loss to whom?”

    To the poor and the subsidizer. It is a net economic gain to the producer of the solar panels, turbine etc.

    Let me explain with a simple example. The purpose of the solar panels is to provide light and power when the sun isn’t shining right? Well then the subsidizer has to add batteries and an inverter to the system, which easily quadruples the cost and the batteries have to be replaced every couple of years. Then we have the intermittent problem where clouds block the sun for more than a couple of days. The only solution here is a backup generator, again adding about twenty five percent to the cost.

    Now the poor person has to pay for the cost of replacing the batteries, system repairs and fuel for the generator. The poor will quickly discover that they are money ahead if they just abandon (or sell) the Solar panels, inverter and batteries and just run the generator when they need power, way ahead financially.

    In fact the poor will be much better off financially if they just bag the generator too and go back to burning dung, instead of paying for fuel.

    ATTP – “I always think that those who support fossil fuels above all else should be careful about implying that following the money will lead to the truth.”

    Fossil fuels are by far the cheapest and most convenient fuel source. Taking them off the table is tantamount to unilateral disarmament in the economic war we are waging. China and Russia would love nothing more than to see Europe reduced to collecting dung to keep warm.

    As a disclaimer, I am a full time cruiser. I live off the grid in the Bahamas and Caribbean. I have 1200 Watts of solar panels, 1200 amps of Life Po batteries, a diesel Generator and engine, sails, water maker, etc. etc. I know a little bit about what I am talking about.

  65. Genghis,
    I understand how economics works. People provide something and get paid for it. Those who buy it do so because they think it has some value for them. Arguing that wind and solar is a net economic loss simply because the producers gain is absurd. You must be livid every time you buy something then? It’s only a net economic loss if the economic benefit of them as power sources is lower than their cost. There may – of course – be more optimal solutions, but that doesn’t make them a net economic loss.

    Fossil fuels are by far the cheapest and most convenient fuel source.

    Define “by far”. Also, this is only true if you ignore externalities. I suspect you think that we should do so. Many economists disagree.

    Taking them off the table is tantamount to unilateral disarmament in the economic war we are waging.

    I certainly haven’t said “take them off the table”. I’ll try to repeat my point. We don’t know what climate sensitivity is. It could be low (TCR less than 1.4oC), it could be high (TCR close to or above 2oC). I believe that it is generally accepted (maybe not by you though) that warming in excess of 2oC would be extremely damaging, in particular to those who live in what is currently the developing world. What I was posing here was, given the possibility of a high climate sensitivity, should we follow an RCP6.0 pathway even if we can avoid it? I imagine you think we should. If so, I hope that climate sensitivity does turn out to be low because, if not, those who’ve been encouraged to invest in fossil fuel technology and nothing else, may not thank those who gave them this advice and chose to do so while ignoring the possible risks associated with climate change.

    China and Russia would love nothing more than to see Europe reduced to collecting dung to keep warm.

    And I bet you think I’m an alarmist.

  66. John Hartz says:

    The project described in the following article does not conform to Genghis’s general theory about the universal superiority of fossil fuel generated power.

    GE to start building 100 MW wind farm in Kenya next year>, Reuters, Nov 6, 2014

  67. John Hartz says:

    Genghis: Here’s sometihng else for you to worry about:

    Ground water depletion driving global conflicts – NASA scientist by Chris Arsenault, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nov 7, 2014

  68. jsam says:

    Genghis might appreciate a retrospective on him.

    Rise of Genghis Khan Linked to Unusual Rains in Mongolia
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rise-of-genghis-khan-linked-to-unusual-rains-in-mongolia/


  69. Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog) says:
    The term Climateball is supposed to be annoying. It emphasises that many people act as if they are interested in science, while they are not really interested in a better understanding, but in delaying a political response.

    So only one side is “playing” Climateball? The other side is trying to play a different game called science?

  70. BBD says:

    jsam

    If you are interested in the historical impacts of climate change during the MCA, do try this. It’s very interesting, and dear old Genghis gets a chapter of his own. Christmas is a coming 😉

  71. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Here’s a thoughtful MSc thesis on the levelised costs of different sources of electricity in Kenya:

    http://brage.bibsys.no/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/219722/1/Torrie_2014.pdf

    I don’t think Torrie included infrastructure costs (roads, transmission) so it has to be taken with a big pinch of salt, especially for projects that would be far from population centres (like the Turkana wind farm she used as the basis of her wind calculations). It also looks like she didn’t carbon-tax construction emissions (unless such emissions were too tiny to make a difference, which seems unlikely). And even without infrastructure costs she had to work hard to get low-carbon electricity to be the cheapest. She initially used a discount rate of 10%, which seems high but is typical for Kenyan projects. This, however, made diesel the cheapest, with coal a close (joint) second, so she redid things with a discount rate of 0.01%. This is tiny. Perhaps an economist – blog favourite Richard S. J. Tol? – could comment on whether such a rate is useful or appropriate. She also applied a carbon tax, which, she acknowledged, Kenya is unlikely to implement any time soon.

    Anyway, here are Torrie’s preferred results. From Table 5.4:

    Costs per generated kWh using TVM LCOE, the ‘Normal Scenario’ (not defined but probably the ‘high’ escalation rate: 2%) and a 0.01% discount rate:

    Biomass $0.03
    Coal $0.03
    Gas Combined Cycle $0.03
    Nuclear $0.03
    Wind $0.04
    Geothermal $0.05
    PV Thin-Film $0.05
    Diesel $0.06
    Solar Thermal $0.06

    The same but with a carbon tax of $30 per ton of CO2:

    Biomass $0.03
    Nuclear $0.03
    Wind $0.04
    Geothermal $0.05
    PV Thin-Film $0.05
    Solar Thermal $0.06
    Coal $0.59
    Gas Combined Cycle $0.65
    Diesel $0.68

    Kenya is considering or is already building all of the electricity sources she studied. Coal looks likely to be a particularly big player. Of this, Torrie wrote the following:

    ‘Although exploiting coal on a large scale may cause the country to become carbon intensive, if it is able to help lift its population out of poverty it is hard to advise against it.’

    (Keep your hair on, BBD. Deep breaths, a stiff drink and little lie-down might help. It’s only an MSc thesis, after all.)

  72. Willard says:

    > So only one side is “playing” Climateball? The other side is trying to play a different game called science?

    You tell me, Web:

    Is “simple denial” the same as delusion?

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/come-on-matt-ridley-its-not-that-difficult/#comment-36803

    A rhetorical question raised to play a game called science, no doubt.

  73. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “It’s only a net economic loss if the economic benefit of them as power sources is lower than their cost.”

    Which it is. There is no “economic benefit’ to them, they are consumers. If I pay more for Hamburger A than Hamburger B, it is an economic loss for me. The only choice they have is cost (expense). They can pay $.35 a KW for solar (with a ‘free’ system), or $.15 a KW for diesel or dung for free.

    ATTP – “Define “by far”. Also, this is only true if you ignore externalities.”

    The Saudi’s cost per barrel of oil is less than a dollar. That is less than $.03 for a gallon of gas, or 33 KW of energy. Compared to any other source of energy, solar and wind included, it is basically free. That is the Saudi secret weapon, they have the lowest cost of production and can put everyone else out of business if they choose too. Think about that.

    As far as externalities go, no I obviously didn’t include those, but in the real world the only externality that matters is what the market will bear.

    Let’s assume for sake of argument that CO2 levels cause massively increasing temperatures, a humongous rise in sea level and anything else we care to imagine. Ultimately the only way to mitigate those effects is with cheap, plentiful energy, that’s it, there is no other solution.

    Of course you are saying that if we stop increasing our CO2 emissions now then we may not have any of the aforementioned upheavals. The problem with that is that we would be condemning ourselves and descendants to a future of energy poverty and very real poverty.

    I don’t know about you, but I am ensuring that me and my descendants will live in a world of abundance. I just need a couple of more years for my cat.

    ATTP – “And I bet you think I’m an alarmist.”

    Not at all. I think your fears are very well founded and rational. Increased levels of CO2 most certainly increase atmospheric radiation. I disagree that it necessarily leads to higher temperatures. I follow the Climate debate because it is like being Alice in Wonderland and a very real mental escape for me. I also have to follow the weather constantly anyway so I can kill two birds with one stone.

    If you really want to alarm yourself, just step back and take a big picture look at the worlds economy. We are undergoing a transformation that makes the industrial revolution look trivial by comparison.

  74. Genghis,

    Which it is. There is no “economic benefit’ to them, they are consumers. If I pay more for Hamburger A than Hamburger B, it is an economic loss for me.

    Sorry, I don’t get your logic. We pay for energy so that we can do things with the energy. You buy a hamburger because if you don’t eat, you’ll eventually starve and die. Yes, it is possible that you could pay less for the same product, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a net economic loss. It might, I agree, be less of a gain. If you’re arguing that we should aim to have the most efficient system possible, I agree. If you’re arguing that we should ignore the risks associated with climate change when determining what that system should be, then I disagree.

    Let’s assume for sake of argument that CO2 levels cause massively increasing temperatures, a humongous rise in sea level and anything else we care to imagine. Ultimately the only way to mitigate those effects is with cheap, plentiful energy, that’s it, there is no other solution.

    No, this is clearly not true. If the cheap plentiful energy is coal, then it won’t mitigate it at all. It might allow us to adapt, but that’s only true if the warming and sea level rise doesn’t devastate our agriculture. There are some things that we can’t adapt to (well, unless you include dying as an adaptation).

    If you really want to alarm yourself, just step back and take a big picture look at the worlds economy. We are undergoing a transformation that makes the industrial revolution look trivial by comparison.

    Sure, but I’m not sure that I see the point you’re getting at.

    Here’s my immediate thought. We could be the only intelligent species in the universe. However, imagine that there is another species who come salong and finds out that we decided not to do anything about climate change because we decided that the best way to provide energy was to burn dead dinosaurs. I think they’d laugh.

  75. “So only one side is “playing” Climateball?”

    No, if someone wants to play, the others are forced to play as well. Communication is a two way thing. The kind of conversations I am having with mitigation sceptics do not compare in any way with conversations with other scientists.

  76. Vinny,
    Maybe I’m missing something about the numbers you provide, but they do seem to suggest that the cost per kWh is pretty similar across all the different sources.

  77. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, I was just trying to provide some info in a largely info-free debate.

  78. Vinny,
    Ahh, I see. Thanks, I guess. Your info seems to suggest that it is indeed possible to provide wind/solar at a cost per kWh that is similar to the cost per kWh for coal/gas.

  79. Vinny Burgoo says:

    It depends what you mean by ‘similar’. Same order of magnitude? Yes. (Ignoring infrastructure costs for remote Big Wind projects like Turkana.)

  80. How does it ignore infrastructure costs. Isn’t that all included in the Levelised cost analysis?

  81. Willard says:

    > No, if someone wants to play, the others are forced to play as well.

  82. Windchaser says:

    Saudi cost to produce oil is ~$1/barrel? I’m skeptical, heck, I’d be surprised if it was as low as 10x as much (marginal or average cost of production).

    Genghis, can you back that up with a citation?

  83. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ‘Isn’t that all included in the Levelised cost analysis?’

    No.

  84. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “Sorry, I don’t get your logic. We pay for energy so that we can do things with the energy. You buy a hamburger because if you don’t eat, you’ll eventually starve and die.”

    In simple economic terms the “hamburger” is labor and energy, the three are interchangeable. If the cost of energy goes down the cost of the hamburger goes down. If the cost of energy goes up the cost of the Hamburger goes up.

    Giving the poor a solar system increases their energy costs. Giving the poor a diesel system increases their energy costs less. It is that simple.

    Energy is only a benefit when it is cheaper than their labor. The way to help the poor is to increase the value of their labor or decrease the cost of energy.

    ATTP – “No, this is clearly not true. If the cheap plentiful energy is coal, then it won’t mitigate it at all. It might allow us to adapt, but that’s only true if the warming and sea level rise doesn’t devastate our agriculture.”

    Obviously if all the land gets flooded it’s lights out : ) But the real constraints to agriculture are fertilizer and the length of the growing season. Fertilizer is very energy intensive and higher temperatures mean a longer growing season.

    ATTP – “However, imagine that there is another species who come salong and finds out that we decided not to do anything about climate change because we decided that the best way to provide energy was to burn dead dinosaurs. I think they’d laugh.”

    Probably, just before they put a freeway through the earth. Burning up our hydrocarbons seems like a horrible waste to me too. I much prefer them turned into things like my catamaran, which is mostly plastic and carbon.

    There is a solution to our dilemma. Cheaper energy! I know it is counter intuitive, but cheaper energy increases the value of labor because it is a labor multiplier. Ultimately cheap energy will lead to much less use of energy especially dirtier energy. The reason we don’t use coal is because it is dirty and natural gas is cheaper, also we produce less CO2 emissions with natural gas than coal for the same energy output.

    Nuclear holds even more promise for cheap energy, especially thorium.

    But you and everyone reading this already know that don’t you?

  85. Genghis says:

    Windchaser – “Saudi cost to produce oil is ~$1/barrel? I’m skeptical, heck, I’d be surprised if it was as low as 10x as much (marginal or average cost of production).”

    That is the direct cost at the well head amortized by the volume of the deposit, it is actually a little high.

    What it doesn’t include is the distribution, cleaning, refining, shipping, taxes, margins, etc. etc. Did I mention Taxes and Profit?

    The true cost is what the market will bear.

  86. Willard told me to:

    “Stop projecting.”

    Could you please finish the sentence? Who am I projecting on to? What inadequacies am I trying to hide?

  87. Genghis,
    Of course I agree that it would be optimal to use the cheapest energy possible. Where we might differ is that I think we should include all the costs, including the cost of emitting carbon.

  88. Especially in this phase, where we have to build up the technologies and thus need a market to drive the prices down, it is sufficient to put a price on carbon in the industrialised countries.

    I have no problem with helping the poor and not include the cost of emitting carbon into their energy prices. Not putting a price on carbon in the industrialised countries would be inefficient according to the economic theories of Genghis, you need to account for all costs, right?

    Not including externalities would invade the property rights of people suffering the consequences of climate change. Surely any proponent of the invisible hand would not like to tamper with property rights? They are a multiplying for investment and economic growth.

    Vinny Burgoo, as far as I know, there is no objective way to derive a discount rate, especially when it comes to long time periods and societal rather than individual problems. However, for an individual in Kenia 10% sounds more reasonable than 0.01%.

  89. Why waste your time? I wasted two days trying to explain the GHE to Genghis, then gave up after he accused me of dishonesty. My only regret is not giving up sooner.

  90. Meow says:

    Another of Matt Ridley’s arguments appears to be that we would expect people to be much wealthier, in real terms, in the future than they are today. Therefore they would be more able to adapt.

    The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise. Indeed, because a wealthier society almost certainly lives closer to the ecological edge than a less-wealthy one, it seems that it must nearly always be more fragile. If, for example, a K-T-style asteroid hits earth, it’s far more likely that the surviving humans (if any) will live by hunting, gathering, and pilfering the remains of technological civilization, than that technological civilization itself will survive.

    And speaking of adaptation, why do so many deniers argue that it’s harder to adapt to moderately-higher energy costs today than to failed harvests tomorrow?

  91. John Hartz says:

    Genghis blithely proclaims:

    But the real constraints to agriculture are fertilizer and the length of the growing season. Fertilizer is very energy intensive and higher temperatures mean a longer growing season.

    Since when is lack of adequate water not a constraint to agriculture?

  92. Genghis says:

    John Hartz – “Since when is lack of adequate water not a constraint to agriculture?”

    Didn’t say it wasn’t. But cheap energy means cheap water.

  93. John Hartz says:

    The following findings do not bode well for the human race.

    Global ground water supplies, crucial for sustaining agriculture, are being depleted at an alarming rate with dangerous security implications, a leading scientist said.

    “It’s a major cause for concern because most of the places where it (ground water depletion) is happening are major food producing regions,” James Famiglietti, a University of California professor who conducts research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    “India is the worst off, followed by the Middle East, and the U.S. is probably number three … the Chinese, particularly on the north China plain, are more water limited than people believe.”

    Famiglietti’s conclusions are based on his latest research paper “The global ground water crisis” published in the journal Nature Climate Change last month.

    Ground water depletion driving global conflicts – NASA scientist by Chris Arsenault, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nov 7, 2014

  94. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “Where we might differ is that I think we should include all the costs, including the cost of emitting carbon.”

    I might even agree with that in theory. The problem I am sure, is accurately assessing the costs and in collecting it. I doubt China is willing to pay anything and China is the main offender.

  95. Genghis says:

    John Hartz – “Global ground water supplies, crucial for sustaining agriculture, are being depleted at an alarming rate”

    Nuclear desalination plants. It’s a twofer, energy and water.

  96. Richard Erskine says:

    Genghis probably knows but seems to ignore Lord Stern’s observation that AGW is the biggest market failure in history, and as reports, for example here … http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/models-grossly-underestimate-costs-of-global-warming-nicholas-stern-says-20140616-zs8tr.html … The true costs of fossil fuels should increase to reflect the true opportunity cost:-

    “Existing economic models “grossly underestimate” the costs of global warming, undermining the urgency for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new paper by leading UK climate change economist Lord Nicholas Stern.

    The risks are in fact likely to be so large that a globally coordinated carbon price of $US32-$US103 ($34-$110) per tonne of emissions is needed as soon as 2015 to prevent the temperature increase from exceeding 2 degrees of pre-industrial age levels, said Lord Stern and co-author Simon Dietz, from the UK’s Grantham Research Institute.

    Within two decades, the carbon price will need to almost triple in real terms to $US82-$US260 a tonne, the two researchers say in their paper to be published in The Economic Journal.”

    This is not really news, but seems to be for Genghis and other apologists for fossil fuels.

  97. Genghis says:

    Meow – “And speaking of adaptation, why do so many deniers argue that it’s harder to adapt to moderately-higher energy costs today than to failed harvests tomorrow?”

    Higher energy prices today mean the poor go hungry today. While failed harvests tomorrow, might as easily be bumper crops tomorrow which is more likely with lower energy costs today.

    My first job was moving sprinkler pipes. Now farmers use circles and they can adjust the water supply to the crops instantly. Dry farms that are dependent on rainfall, are generally marginally productive lands.

  98. Genghis says:

    Richard Erskine – “Within two decades, the carbon price will need to almost triple in real terms to $US82-$US260 a tonne, the two researchers say in their paper to be published in The Economic Journal.”

    I assume these costs are only supposed to be assessed on Westerners (US, EU, Japan, Aussies and Canada) and the money given to developing countries so that they can build power plants, infrastructure, roads, transportation, etc. to prepare for the coming changes?

    Like that is going to happen. I am not sure if I am Alice or the Mad Hatter? Maybe Pollyanna?

  99. John Hartz says:

    Another report that mirriors the one discussed in my prior post.

    Climate change and food insecurity are “threat multipliers”, and 32 countries dependent on farming face an “extreme risk” of conflict or civil unrest in the next 30 years, a global analytics firm said on Wednesday.

    Food shortages and rising prices have the potential to worsen political, ethnic, class and religious tensions, the risk advisory firm Maplecroft reported in its annual “Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas (CCERA)”.

    Climate change a “threat multiplier” for farming-dependent states-analysis by Chris Arsenault, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Oct 29, 2014

  100. Eli Rabett says:

    1. the lifting cost (getting it to the ground level) of oil in Saudi Arabia is ~$2 US/ bbl.

    2. the capital investment necessary to do this + the cost of handling it on the surface is another $5-10.

    3. the price of shipping it elsewhere is not zero.

    4. it is not in the Saudi’s interest to do so because of the opportunity cost of not selling it at market which means that the cost will not sink lower that the production cost in much more expensive places such as the North Sea or Texas.

    5. of course, you can’t just use crude, you have to refine it, which costs maybe another $35/bbl

    6. the you have to ship it to where ever it will be used, which to a small village in the middle of nowhere Africa or South Asia may not even be possible in other than small containers like barrels, which means it will be very expensive.

    7. coal is worse on all these issues.

    8. buying a poor village a wind or solar generator is the equivalent of teaching them how to fish. an diesel or coal generator is the equivalent of making them buy fish for the next thirty years.

    9. ghengis is clueless

  101. Genghis says:

    Eli,

    It isn’t your fault that my responses are still in moderation so I will just address your #8 point.

    “8. buying a poor village a wind or solar generator is the equivalent of teaching them how to fish. an diesel or coal generator is the equivalent of making them buy fish for the next thirty years.”

    Let’s assume some kind benefactor ships some solar panels to nowhere Africa like you suggested, it will end up in the dump just like $200,000 in transformers I saw in Duncan Town, Bahamas. They have no use for them.

    So let’s assume that they install a solar array complete with batteries, chargers, and an inverter, put it in a weather proof shed and run power to the chief’s hut put up a light bulb and power outlet. For about $20k the village will have enough power to light a few bulbs, run a freezer and occasionally pump some water if it is particularly bright and sunny. The system is basically capable of creating about 6KW a day or a dollars worth of electricity to keep the math simple. Not enough to run big electric motors, or welders or really do anything useful except provide some lights at night and cold beers.

    Then in about five years the $6000 worth of batteries will need replacing. Hmm that is about 3 dollars a day in battery cost. The free electricity is getting expensive. Of course there won’t be a hailstorm or lightening to fry the system. Someone will be there to keep the panels clean, replace the fan in the inverter when it is needed. The days will always be sunny and of course no one would be foolish enough to ever completely drain the batteries because they really really wanted to keep the medical supplies and milk refrigerated.

    Or the same benefactor could drop ship in a pair of Honda 2000’s with 100 gallons of gas (enough to last a year) for less than $3000. They would have 3 times the KW’s anytime they wanted it for 16 hours a day. Of the $17K they have left, they might save enough for 5 years worth of gas ($2500) and put the remaining $15K to good use, maybe buying tools and materials to build or invest with. Now they might have a future.

    Yes I am clueless.

  102. anoilman says:

    Genghis: Maybe you should think this over at the solar guy’s house. He has coffee and you’re broke. 🙂 Honda says… 1 Gallon = 9 hours a day on 1/4 load, you might wanna factor that in.
    http://powerequipment.honda.ca/generators/inverter-series/eu2000i

    Your generators will be needing all that maintenance and such too. Inverters break, ask a solar guy. Only you can’t replace a smoking part, you’ll probably need a new generator. (At least they are cheap.) They also use 1 gallon per 9 hours (with only a 500W load). I don’t know what you know about oil in Africa, but its expensive (pick $3.70 a gallon). 2 Honda 2000i ($1000 each) generators will provide 4 kwh peak total (less than the solar system), and will run out of fuel in 6.4 years ish? for $20k?

    Pushing along to the 13 year mark, the solar panels are now producing 13% less electricity, but still working. Add a panel? Batteries have been replaced twice for $6k each time right? Kids gotta read those books at night right? Probably need a new inverter.

    If you don’t drink coffee, and you don’t run appliances, and you shut the lights off early each night, your generators needed another $18,000 of gasoline + replacement parts/generators. Right? Want 4 hours more power, and appliances? That will be another $18k over 13 years at least. Oh and that Honda came with a square wave inverter. So you had to buy all new electronics, and some of those appliances don’t work at all.
    http://www.homepower.com/problem-loads-modified-square-wave-inverters

  103. Genghis,
    On top of what Eli says, there are a number of issues that I have with your broad argument. Firstly it sounds like the kind of argument that I’m sure almost always happens when new technologies arise. I’m sure there were those who thought the car would never replace the horse. The other issue is that it’s what I call the pragmatic realist argument – “this is how the world works, therefore ….”.

    You may well end up being right. Maybe the world does work that way and there is little we can do about it. However, the realities of the world are quite strongly influenced by what our politicians choose to say and by what is said by the mainstream media. That’s why I find articles like those written by Matt Ridley very annoying. His argument is essentially – climate sensitivity will probably be low, therefore everything will be fine, carry on as we are …. Well, he’s wrong. If you consider all the evidence, climate sensitivity will probably be higher than he suggests. What I’d love to see (and was the motivation behind this post) is someone like Matt Ridley making his argument while accepting that climate sensitivity may well be quite a lot higher than he thinks. I don’t think he can do this, because as soon as he does his argument fails.

    So, imagine what the world would be like if the MSM insisted that those who contributed presented arguments based on a reasonable representation of the evidence available, and imagine what it would be like if our politicians recognised that they should get their information from actual experts rather than bloggers and media commentators. It could be quite different to the world in which we now live. It might be unrealistic to expect things to change, but call me optimistic.

  104. izen says:

    @-Genghis
    “Let’s assume some kind benefactor ships some solar panels to nowhere Africa like you suggested, it will end up in the dump just like $200,000 in transformers I saw in Duncan Town, Bahamas. They have no use for them.”

    That is a most intriguing comment.
    Duncan town Bahamas is on Raggedy Island, has a population of less than a 100, but was connected to the Bahamas electrical ‘Grid’ in the mid 90s. The airport lights, and a harbour beacon appear to be solar powered. For a taste of the place there is this old travel report. –

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/travel/destinations/caribbean/raggedisland022899.htm

    So when did Genghis see nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of transformers on an obscure Caribbean island, and who or what had put them there?
    The anecdote has little relevance to the point Genghis is making about solar panels, but I suspect the real context would illuminate some of the problems providing power to people outside cities, meet.
    Or the anecdotal remark could have been a fabrication or confabulation of some other sort.

  105. …and Then There’s Physics says:
    November 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

    “Genghis,
    On top of what Eli says, there are a number of issues that I have with your broad argument…. The other issue is that it’s what I call the pragmatic realist argument – “this is how the world works, therefore ….”.
    You may well end up being right. Maybe the world does work that way and there is little we can do about it. However, the realities of the world are quite strongly influenced by what our politicians choose to say and by what is said by the mainstream media. That’s why I find articles like those written by Matt Ridley very annoying.
    His argument is essentially – climate sensitivity will probably be low, therefore everything will be fine, carry on as we are …. Well, he’s wrong. If you consider all the evidence, climate sensitivity will probably be higher than he suggests.”

    Not only that, if we consider all the things other than effect on climate we should consider with respect to burning things for energy, then this “carry on as we are” part becomes quite problematic for other reasons, especially for countries like China.

    By the below article (written by three Chinese professors, two of which are directors for the Institute for Postmodern Development of China and one of which is a former assistant mayor of a province), of which I quote the first paragraph, I think the Chinese realize that they simply don’t have a choice but to act in some way that would be meaningful in terms of climate change over the long term. And they are acting even now because of recent findings on these other reasons I mentioned. See throughout the whole article such as what we see in the last part of this first paragraph, including “In China, up to half a million die each year because of air pollution, according to Chen Zhu, the former health minister of China. Some Chinese critics are worried that the money earned from China’s rapid economic growth will mostly be absorbed by increased medical bills and productivity losses.”

    “The Ecological Civilization Debate in China”
    by Zhihe Wang, Huili He and Meijun Fan
    http://monthlyreview.org/2014/11/01/the-ecological-civilization-debate-in-china/

    Here is the first paragraph: “China is facing many serious environmental issues, including pollution in the air, groundwater, and soil. These problems have increased since China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy-and in spite of the Chinese government’s 2007 proposal to build an “ecological civilization,” and writing “ecological civilization” into the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) constitution in 2012. Take air pollution as an example; not long ago, cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai witnessed record-breaking smog. Concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) reached more than forty times recommended safety levels. In China, up to half a million die each year because of air pollution, according to Chen Zhu, the former health minister of China. In a recent article published in The Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal, he and his colleagues wrote, “Studies by the World Bank, WHO, and the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning on the effect of air pollution on health concluded that between 350,000 and 500,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of outdoor air pollution in China.”1 Some Chinese critics are worried that the money earned from China’s rapid economic growth will mostly be absorbed by increased medical bills and productivity losses.”

    This is a long article, but since it is an article about China written by these three Chinese professors, it’s worth setting aside some time to read all of it, perhaps after skimming over it. It provides a good look into what is actually happening and being discussed in China.

  106. Richard Erskine says:

    Genghis – of course “these costs” (carbon tax) do not apply to non-fossil fuel energy initiatives. There is nothing moral in claiming that fossil fuel energy is good for the third world, as you seem to be implying. The trick is to ween ourselves off the stuff, and many economists see carbon taxes as the logical way forward. For the details, consult an economist.

    It is well known that MENA (Middle East and North Africa) will be particularly stressed in relation to water arising from global warming, which is why African States regard 2C with great concern, not the equanimity of Matt Ridley and on the “optimistic” side of the argument.

    You say “Dry farms that are dependent on rainfall, are generally marginally productive lands.”, is that rainfall directly above or in the hills replenishing rivers and lakes? Either way, when there is less water from whatever route it takes, then land becomes marginal, and this is already happening. However much money he way somehow gain by cheaper energy today, will not save his farm in the future, especially if he is simply adding to the CO2 in the atmosphere.

    It isnot clear that you are really offering strategic remedies for today, let alone the future.

    Your tone is rather complacent, I have to say.

    Oh, and you are not Alice … You would do well as the Walrus, with your Walrus tears.

  107. Eli Rabett says:

    Ghengis says “Dry farms that are dependent on rainfall, are generally marginally productive lands”

    There goes the Sahel. . . .

    Were the bunnies talking about morality?

  108. Genghis says:

    Izen – “So when did Genghis see nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of transformers on an obscure Caribbean island, and who or what had put them there?”

    I am a full time cruiser Izen. I visit Duncan town, on the Ragged Island in the Bahamas every year. I get groceries from Maxine and I help Phicol Wallace with the islands generator (and get a great internet connection at the lodge). I get my Batelco cards from Kervin who runs the local BTC. I got my yamaha two stroke off of Captain C (mail boat) last year.

    I can tell all kinds of stories about Duncan Town. The Haitians coming in last year and scaring us and Puddle Jumper to death. Snorkeling and losing the grouper to a Bull Shark. Finding a newly formed lagoon on little Ragged. Watching the weekly visit from the Coast Guard helicopters out of Guantanamo who photograph us. Etc. Etc.

    Everything I am saying here is from personal experience actually using and doing it, especially the solar and generator stuff.

    Life is good.

    I may have given out too much information about me, so please be kind and don’t use my real name, if you manage to piece the clues together.

  109. Genghis says:

    Eli – “Oh yeah, Eli has some picture postcards for Ghengis”

    Genghis says thank you for reminding him of the time he spent trying to get better at Wei Chi (Go) there. Genghis loves China and is saddened at the pollution the wonderful people there are suffering from.

    By the way I am Genghis on the IGS and KGS Go servers so if anyone wants to get their butts kicked I am your man.

  110. John Hartz says:

    In response to my question about the role of water in agriculture, Genghis blithely proclaims,

    Nuclear desalination plants. It’s a twofer, energy and water.

    Are there any such plants operating today?

    Are there any such plants currently under construction?

    Are there any such plants on the drawing board?

  111. Genghis says:

    Richard Erksine – “You say “Dry farms that are dependent on rainfall, are generally marginally productive lands.”, is that rainfall directly above or in the hills replenishing rivers and lakes?”

    Dry farms are farms that are irrigated only by rainfall. Farmers use different techniques like letting the land go fallow periodically, different crop rotation, wider planting, fall plantings, etc. to properly utilize the land.

    Like I said, my first job was working on a farm.

    “Oh, and you are not Alice … You would do well as the Walrus, with your Walrus tears.”

    Would you settle for me being the Cheshire Cat? That suits me better maybe, but I really do feel like I am living in Bizarro world (the real world).

  112. Joshua says:

    ==> “In China, up to half a million die each year because of air pollution, …”

    Yes, but Climategate, Michael Mann, and RealClimate moderation.

  113. Genghis says:

    John Hartz – “Are there any such plants on the drawing board?”

    I know that the Saudi’s were considering them but I think they went with natural gas. Not sure what happened. But No I don’t think there are any nuclear desalination plants.

    About plans, of course there are tons of plans. Desalination is trivial. It is just that fresh water has to become a lot more expensive before it is cost effective to make it.

  114. Genghis says: I may have given out too much information about me, so please be kind and don’t use my real name, if you manage to piece the clues together.

    Do not worry. That would be more typical for Anthony Watts, the most read blogger of the oh so moral mitigation sceptics.

  115. BBD says:

    Sounds like another retired financier living out a libertarian fantasy to me.

  116. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “What I’d love to see (and was the motivation behind this post) is someone like Matt Ridley making his argument while accepting that climate sensitivity may well be quite a lot higher than he thinks. I don’t think he can do this, because as soon as he does his argument fails.”

    First off I think Matt Ridley is absolutely correct if the climate sensitivity is mild which I agree with.

    If the climate sensitivity is not mild, I can see some serious problems. Not the least of which would be a continuous train of Hurricanes and Typhoons coming out of the tropics. Hurricanes are directly caused by increased surface temperatures above 30C or so.

    All of the coastal areas would be subjected to continuous and random Hurricanes year round, the weather patterns around the world would be hugely altered, increased snowfall might even trigger an ice age.

    It would probably be another extinction event. There have been quite a few, maybe we are due.

    “So, imagine what the world would be like if the MSM insisted that those who contributed presented arguments based on a reasonable representation of the evidence available, and imagine what it would be like if our politicians recognised that they should get their information from actual experts rather than bloggers and media commentators. It could be quite different to the world in which we now live. It might be unrealistic to expect things to change, but call me optimistic.”

    Very optimistic if you ask me, but not for the reason you may think. Politics, Rulers, Governments, Religions, Media, etc. only consider one thing, maintaining and increasing their power and influence. That is it, they will listen to what ever increases their power and influence and suppress anything that challenges it. Period. It is as simple as that.

    Any issue which divides the population (divide and conquer) increases the power of the Media, Government, Religion, etc. And perhaps most importantly they all have a vested interest in increasing the division. The last thing they want to do is actually fix a problem. Government agencies will never ever fix the problem they were tasked with performing because it would be their death.

    What you are correctly sensing is that you feel that you are being used (scientists, experts, professionals) and that your warnings are being ignored.
    You are being used, the government (or anyone) has no intention whatsoever of actually doing anything useful with your expert analysis.

    Rather you will find that the Governments ACTIONS result in exactly the opposite of what is needed.

    Welcome to the Club……

  117. Genghis,

    First off I think Matt Ridley is absolutely correct if the climate sensitivity is mild which I agree with.

    Of course he’s correct if climate sensitivity is mild. Even the mainstream/IPCC results allow for the possibility that climate sensitivity might be low. The problem is that we might not know for sure until we discover that it isn’t low. It’s a risk problem and doing nothing might be okay (although paleo-climate suggests that this is very unlikely) but, then again, it might not be and the evidence suggests that the latter is more likely than the former.

    What you are correctly sensing is that you feel that you are being used (scientists, experts, professionals) and that your warnings are being ignored.
    You are being used, the government (or anyone) has no intention whatsoever of actually doing anything useful with your expert analysis.

    Well, maybe, but as the saying goes democracy is the worst form of government apart from all the others that have been tried.

  118. BBD says:

    It’s not real > it’s real but it’s not serious > it’s real and we can’t do anything about it.

    The stations of denial.

  119. Genghis says:

    BBD – “It’s not real > it’s real but it’s not serious > it’s real and we can’t do anything about it.

    The stations of denial.’

    I am a denier after all : )

    But it is worse than you think. I think the Ocean is the “Green House” and the thermostat is cloud coverage that either blocks or allows SW radiation into the Ocean. Any systemic change to cloud coverage will have huge repercussions and possibly very long or very short lag times. I can easily see an Ice Age and Global warming (increased energy in the system) occurring at the same time. In fact I think that is what happens, I don’t know what the trigger is though, if there is one.

    I am a skeptic because I think that your mechanism (CO2) is trivial and the focus on temperature is ‘odd’. I understand that you have to dumb down the message, but it verges on lying and does everyone a disservice.

  120. KR says:

    Alternate translation: It’s difficult, people aren’t convinced of the need, therefore cease to strive.

    Sigh.

  121. anoilman says:

    BBD: I’m thinking that its not a very good financier.. and perhaps it was a forced retirement?

    I mean the guy’s example was a solar powered village which could brew coffee, and read books at night, to on to a better life

    Then he compares that to a gasoline generator village which was broke, full of broken electronics, and couldn’t afford to read books at night so are trapping future generations to the same toil (saving to buy more gasoline).

    This Rabbit is a tad confused as to how that helps his case. In his own example, solar costs less, and delivers more.

    It also shows a marked disconnect to what they want in villages. Yep… washing machines;

  122. Genghis,
    If that really is your view, then you’re almost certainly wrong. CO2 really is the control knob, clouds/water vapour are feedbacks – they can’t, independently, drive long-term climate change.

  123. BBD says:

    I can easily see an Ice Age and Global warming (increased energy in the system) occurring at the same time.

    Then your understanding of paleoclimate behaviour and the underpinning physical climatology is non-existent and you should remain silent on these topics.

    Your economic analysis is piss-poor too. You exclude the externalised cost of fossil fuels. Everything you have written on this thread is – to be as civil as one can be under the circumstances – arrant nonsense.

  124. BBD says:

    Please remember, Genghis, that I read Dumb Scientist’s link to your astonishing mess at WUWT. There is no emerging from a debacle like that with any shred of remaining credibility.

  125. BBD says:

    I understand that you have to dumb down the message, but it verges on lying and does everyone a disservice.

    You don’t get to call me a liar in comments here. Do not do this again.

  126. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “Well, maybe, but as the saying goes democracy is the worst form of government apart from all the others that have been tried.”

    Of course, but you understand that ‘Democracy’ is designed to gridlock? That the last thing we want is a government that actually “accomplishes” anything.
    Every gain the Government makes is a loss for us.

    But I feel your pain. I really do. Like you, I see us careening out over the abyss just like Wile E Coyote. And like you I don’t see a solution, yes the government could quit borrowing money, yes the people could quit using fossil fuels, yes the Fed could quit creating money, but none of that is going to happen.

    The smart thing is to do what we can do individually to prepare for the future. Amazingly the system is designed to help us do just that. Borrow from the Fed to prepare financially, use that money to prepare for physical needs too. The answer is staring us in the face, being held out on a silver platter. If I am wrong with my forecast there is no downside. The money is essentially free.

    Two more years and I am set. Life is good : )

  127. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Eli, the boffins aren’t even sure of the sign of future precipitation changes in the Sahel, so it’s a bit early to write off the whole region as a permanent dustbowl.

    One possibility (AR5’s take?) is that atmospheric CO2 increases, taken by themselves, will mean that the Sahel will most likely get more rain but in shorter bursts. This would be a problem without adaptation. With adaptation, it could be a plus. It is not beyond the wit of man to collect and use heavy downpours.

    Less rain? That would also be a problem, especially as evapotranspiration will increase. But it needn’t be catastrophic – or not in isolation. At the moment, Sahelians don’t make the best of what they’ve got. Overgrazing, tree-felling for firewood, bad governance, conflict… Wealth and better government would be a big help in overcoming any future reduction in rainfall.

    Especially if these led, as they usually do, to slower population growth – because that’s the current main threat to human well-being in the Sahel. The anthropogenic contribution to the region’s wildly fluctuating decadal rainfall might be a few per cent either way. The anthropogenic contribution to the Sahel’s population growth (among the fastest in the world) is 100% and that population growth is many times larger than any measurable rainfall trend, anthropogenic or otherwise.

    So perhaps weaning the Sahel off firewood by building ghastly smogtastic coal-fired power stations to provide electric heating and cooking might be the best way to go. It’d slow or even reverse desertification, cut woodsmoke deaths and increase agricultural productivity.

    (I do think there are better ways but you can’t just dismiss fossil-fuelled electricity generation in all parts of the globe by saying CO2 is evil. Things ain’t that simple.)

  128. John Hartz says:

    In light of our ongoing discussion about the economis of clean energy, the following cuaght my eye…

    As of now, the top three most widely used US search engines, by a considerable margin, are Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s Bing. If you live in this country and you are actually online, there’s well over a 90 percent chance that you use one of them, according to the web data company comScore.

    This we all know. But what few people realize is that if you are using these searches, it is growing more and more likely that you are also engaging in what is, in effect, a green pattern of Internet use.

    The reason? Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are part of a growing number of tech and other major companies that are entering into long-term “power purchase” agreements (PPAs) with wind farms to ensure a steady stream of power, at a fixed cost, over a period as long as several decades. Most recently, last month Yahoo signed such a deal for wind power in the Great Plains with OwnEnergy, a wind energy developer.

    Use the Web? Congrats, you’re an environmentalist. by Chris Mooney, Wonkblog, Washington Post, Nov 6, 2014

  129. Genghis,
    Maybe you could avoid accusing people of lying, especially as you are probably the one who is wrong, about AGW at least. I’m also not quite sure how seriously to take what you’re saying. You just appear to be broadly pessimistic. I have moments myself, but would prefer to assume that an intelligent species like ourselves is capable of making sensible decisions, even if we rarely choose to do so.

  130. Steve Bloom says:

    “By the way I am Genghis on the IGS and KGS Go servers so if anyone wants to get their butts kicked I am your man.”

    So I saw that and said to myself “sounds like yet another bloviating low kyu with no appreciation of the fundamental aesthetic of the game.” It’s a syndrome (although not universal, fortunately). And on checking on KGS… sure enough. Consistent with my expectations your rated games are tilted toward weaker players (a good way of inflating your rank — with balanced play you’d probably be 3 kyu), with very few against 1 dans and none that I could see against anyone stronger than that. And of course no teaching games with weaker players. The icing on the cake is a lack of progress despite a large number of games played.

    You’re perfect in every way, Genghis. Don’t ever change.

  131. anoilman says:

    Ghengis? Butter kicker? BWAHAHAHAHAAAA….

    He’s argued that solar is better far far than fossil fuels. Real smart guy.

    Just close your mind and keep typing buddy.

  132. anoilman says:

    I think that with all the money Ghengis says I’ll save with solar over fossil fuels, I will put my kids through university. That way they will be smart enough not to make all the simple mistakes he does.

  133. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “Maybe you could avoid accusing people of lying, especially as you are probably the one who is wrong, about AGW at least.”

    Sorry I thought I was clear about referring to the dumbing down to the point of it being a lie. Just like when the physicists state that clocks in orbit run slower. It is a lie, but I can sympathize with the necessity of lying, there is no simple way to explain relativity, just as there is no simple way to explain AGW.

    The problem with over simplification (lying) is that it makes it easy for skeptics like me to point to the oversimplification and truthfully state it is wrong. But more importantly it lends itself very easily to false conclusions, that is where a ‘lie’ becomes unacceptable. It halts progress, that is why science gets stuck.

  134. Genghis,

    The problem with over simplification (lying) is that it makes it easy for skeptics like me to point to the oversimplification and truthfully state it is wrong.

    Indeed, illustrating that most “skeptics” are not actually interested in a serious, good faith discussion, but are just interested in pedantically pointing out things that might be, strictly speaking, wrong, but which, to most reasonable people, would simply be a way of explaining a complex concept.

  135. Genghis says:

    Steve Bloom – “So I saw that and said to myself “sounds like yet another bloviating low kyu with no appreciation of the fundamental aesthetic of the game.”

    Yes I am just a lowly 2k on KGS who automatches all his games and I will probably never get any better, too old and tainted by chess i guess : (

    I would love to play you though and see if your play matches your rhetoric. Just tell me your nick and when you want to play and I should be able to make it.

  136. Genghis says:

    Anoilman – “I think that with all the money Ghengis says I’ll save with solar over fossil fuels, I will put my kids through university. That way they will be smart enough not to make all the simple mistakes he does.”

    Where did you get the idea that I think solar is cheaper than fossil fuel? I thought I made a very straight forward case showing the opposite.

    Now I am back to feeling like Alice, very confused. I think I need to be humpty dumpty and master of the word.

  137. anoilman says:

    Genghis, progress only halts when a bunch of guys stand around and stonewall. (That’s an activity you’d be fired for in a real job.) You want to talk about a low sensitivity but you want to ignore all that paleo data saying its higher? Any rationale for that behaviour? Just ’cause?

    That’s a pretty selective way of viewing the world. Batten down the hatches and ignore everything, but your cherry picks, then stone wall.

    Did that really work well in real life?

  138. Contrary to the ridiculous claims above, solar power can be cheaper than fossil fuels, even in rural Africa. For instance, Solar Aid has sold one million solar lights:

    “Sauda Mataka is a mother of four from Dodoma in Tanzania. She bought a solar light from the SunnyMoney team in August 2013. Before this light, Sauda used two kerosene lamps to light her home. She now lights her home for longer each night, saves about £1.90 every week and her children study for three hours each day using the light. The solar light Sauda purchased was a d.light S300 that cost about £22. It has four different settings and can provide 4 hours of bright light or 100 hours of low light.”

    Sauda’s investment of £22 saves her £1.90 every week, so her solar light paid for itself after only ~3 months. The two year replacement warranty makes it clear that these solar lights are a net economic benefit for rural Africans. They pay for themselves around 8 times before the warranty runs out.

    And as Sauda points out, burning kerosene indoors also causes lung and eye problems. Lower health care costs are just an added bonus to using a solar light. Research has also shown that small vendors with solar lights attract more customers at night, probably for similar reasons.

    Another bonus, of course, is lower CO2 emissions which leads to less global warming and ocean acidification, which hit developing countries harder. But don’t try to explain that to a Sky Dragon Slayer unless you want to tear all your hair out.

  139. anoilman says:

    Genghis… Go back and read. Your generators use a gallon of gas for 9 hours at 1/4 loading (500W). You get 6 years of use with 2 generators for $20k assuming you turn out the lights at night, and never drink coffee, and don’t mind destroying all your electronics. Appliances are a dream for your poor broke village.

    The fun happens when you head to the 13 year mark. Generators need more fuel, and it’s expensive. They need even more fuel if they want to have appliances. They need more fuel if they wish to have lights in at night. Oddly you picked two generators, so like a real power grid you have to keep them both running all the time.

  140. Sorry I thought I was clear about referring to the dumbing down to the point of it being a lie. Just like when the physicists state that clocks in orbit run slower. It is a lie, but I can sympathize with the necessity of lying, there is no simple way to explain relativity, just as there is no simple way to explain AGW.

    No. Clocks in orbit run faster, because they’re slowed down by speed (special relativity) less than they’re sped up by lower gravity (general relativity). For instance, GPS satellites run slower by about 7 microseconds each day because of special relativity. But they run faster by about 45 microseconds each day because of general relativity. The net effect is that GPS satellites run faster by about 38 microseconds each day.

    This is not a lie. These relativistic effects are real. Moving clocks really do run slower, and clocks in lower gravity really do run faster.

  141. John Hartz says:

    Denmark’s commitment to clean energy is quite amazing.

    A Tricky Transition From Fossil Fuel: Denmark Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Nov 10, 2014

  142. @DumbSci,
    Embarrassingly, I had not realised – until recently – that the GR effect was bigger than the SR effect.

  143. izen says:

    @-Genghis
    “I am a full time cruiser Izen. I visit Duncan town, on the Ragged Island in the Bahamas every year. I get groceries from Maxine… Everything I am saying here is from personal experience … I may have given out too much information about me, so please be kind and don’t use my real name, if you manage to piece the clues together.”

    Okay, all the colourful detail convinces me that you saw the $200,000 worth of transformers at Duncan town. I hope you don’t feel it is a personal slight that I have no interest in trying to piece together the clues and figure out your real identity.

    What intrigues me is why and who spent over $2000 dollars per head of the population on importing inappropriate electrical technology to a small Island in the Bahamas that is a byword for remote, with a few dozen fishing supported families. It seems a lot of money per head to invest with no prospect of a financial return.

    I try to avoid conspiratorial ideation with the reminder that far more often what we see is contingent on incompetence rather than corruption.
    But it wouldn’t be the first time that company A had discovered it could get a government grant to buy obsolescent equipment from company B that ends up in the middle of nowhere for some spurious reason, because company B makes a nice profit which partially flows back to company A and may also flow back to inhibit any close scrutiny of just how effectively the government grant is spent. Perhaps it is my cynicism that make such regulatory capture look like a real possibility.

    As someone familiar with the location perhaps you could comment on the mention in the travel piece of the persistent wind. It sounds like a place that would benefit from wind generation to avoid all that costly fuel use whenever you want some electrical power. 2kW of wind power would cost about the same as a Honda generator and a couple of weeks of fuel…

  144. John Hartz says:

    Denmark’s commitment to clean energy is quite amazing.

    A Tricky Transition From Fossil Fuel: Denmark Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Nov 10, 2014

  145. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “If that really is your view, then you’re almost certainly wrong. CO2 really is the control knob, clouds/water vapour are feedbacks – they can’t, independently, drive long-term climate change.”

    This is where oversimplification gets us into trouble. I am more guilty of it than most, because I tend to skip over what I think are blatantly obvious steps, and I make mistakes. Let me backtrack a bit.

    I have observed, measured and calculated energy flows into the ocean and out of the ocean from the tropics to the temperate latitudes. What I have determined is that the ocean is a net absorber in the tropics (up to and past the 30th˚) and is a net emitter in the higher latitudes. Incidentally half the surface of the Earth is between the 30˚ latitudes and 64% of the absorption is there too.

    The primary way the ocean warms is through solar shortwave radiation and that is almost exclusively determined by cloud coverage. More clouds mean less solar insolation makes it into the ocean (cooling) and less clouds mean more solar insolation makes it into the ocean (heating).

    This fundamental process is almost entirely independent of the surface temperature and atmospheric radiation (again by observations, calc’s, etc.)

    That is all I have. No predictions, no mechanisms, no control knobs. Just the simple observation that if average cloud coverage stays the same, the ocean energy content will stay the same.

    If increased concentrations of CO2 decrease the cloud coverage in the tropics, climate temperatures will rise. If CO2 doesn’t decrease the cloud coverage in the Tropics, then the whole AGW meme is a rounding error.

  146. Genghis,
    CO2 is a greenhouse gas and so influences the outgoing long-wavelength flux. Clouds, however, have two influences, they can reflect incoming solar radiation (albedo) and they can influence outgoing long-wavelength radiation (like a greenhouse gas). Globally, the net effect of clouds is thought to be small. However, you’re probably right that you can correlate changes in cloud cover with changes in temperature (or ocean heat). The issue, though, is that this is more likely a feedback than a driver of change. Clouds respond to changes in temperature, rather than changes in cloud cover driving long-term changes in temperature.

  147. anoilman says:

    Dumb Sci: GPS is amazing. I run into clock drift all the time in my work, yet I had not realized just what an effort that really was for GPS.

  148. anoilman says:

    Dumb Sci, you really should mention the health benefits for solar. As in that example, a lot of the third world burn fuel indoors (cooking is the other culprit), and this leads to a host of health problems.

    You haven’t had a health problem till you’ve had a health problem in Africa.

  149. Genghis says:

    Anoilman – “Genghis… Go back and read. Your generators use a gallon of gas for 9 hours at 1/4 loading (500W). You get 6 years of use with 2 generators for $20k assuming you turn out the lights at night, and never drink coffee, and don’t mind destroying all your electronics. Appliances are a dream for your poor broke village.”

    I am running my Honda 2000 eu right now making water because my solar system won’t handle the load. This time of the year with the shorter days and more clouds the solar system is lucky to top off the batteries. It is a good day when it is sunny and I get to watch 80 AMPS flowing into my batteries, but often I have to settle for just a few amps. And I probably should mention the 4 amps the inverter uses not to mention the .8 amps it uses ‘searching’. Every other day I am using the generator to charge my batteries, in the summer my batteries are typically charged by noon and the panels shut down for the rest of the day.

    Now about the Generator that you have so maligned. It is a sine wave not a square wave generator, it runs everything wonderfully and I have even welded with the pair of them.

    The idea isn’t to run them all the time but to run them as they are needed typically morning and evening. I was actually being very generous with the fuel estimate at two gallons a week when the actual use would be closer to one, even less if they have a battery and LED’s.

    Realistically, only one generator is really needed and about 50 gallons a year of gas. That is the functional equivalent of a $20K solar system. Ten years of fuel will cost less than $5000 (again I am being generous) about the real life expectancy of a solar system, one bad storm is all it takes. The generator though can just sit out rain or shine starts first pull all the time.

    Theft might be a problem for the generator. Solar systems don’t seem to get stolen except for their copper content (parts).

  150. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “CO2 is a greenhouse gas and so influences the outgoing long-wavelength flux….. Clouds respond to changes in temperature, rather than changes in cloud cover driving long-term changes in temperature.”

    The question is, do increased concentrations of CO2 lower cloud coverage in the tropics? And what is the mechanism?

    From what I have read (IPCC etc. etc.) and observed, warmer temperatures increase cloud coverage, which results in cooling the ocean.

    What am I missing? Do you see why I am a skeptic?

  151. Genghis,

    The question is, do increased concentrations of CO2 lower cloud coverage in the tropics? And what is the mechanism?

    From what I have read (IPCC etc. etc.) and observed, warmer temperatures increase cloud coverage, which results in cooling the ocean.

    Clouds are still one of the big uncertain factors. However, the current understanding is that cloud feedback is positive and somewhere between 0 and 1 Wm-2 K-1. This means that as we warm due to increased CO2 we will – globally at least – see extra warming due to changes in clouds. Whether this is reduced low level cloud cover (reduced albedo) or increased high-level cloud (reduction in outgoing long-wavelength flux), I don’t know. Presumably some combination of the two.

  152. miker613 says:

    This post is pretty good, but he comment thread is pretty frustrating. A lot of sneering. Look, I know that Pekka is an economist. Any of the rest of you? Surely you know that economists are all over the map on this and many other issues? Even Bjorn Lomborg has economists on his panels with actual Nobel Prizes. Presumably they know more about it than those of you who aren’t economists. Because you’ve seen some blog post or other refuting his views, that means you know all about it?
    Since many of you are climate scientists and I am not, I think it’s reasonable for me to be respectful of your opinions on climate science. But why are you sneering at others on economics?

    From the comments: “Ridley represents that section of the global elite and their entourages who calculate they stand to lose more from carbon mitigation than from global warming. On the rare occasion that the elite doubt their decision to oppose mitigation, they can always call upon smug and smugger to provide plausible reassurance along with some soothing moral arguments about helping the poor.” Sorry – not acceptable. Because it can’t really be that they disagree with you on the economics, right? They can’t really believe that the costs of mitigation exceed the benefits They must be insincere.
    And I believe that Lomborg’s economists claim that mitigation returns just pennies on the dollar. But you know that your economists are right…

    But as I said, the post was pretty good, and asked some good questions. I’d like Matt Ridley to address them.
    This one wasn’t so good:
    “Our policy makers are responsible – and us, collectively, for electing them – for the decisions that they make and they often make, in my view, rather stupid ones. Blaming this on those who think they should make a decision, rather than on the policy makers for making a stupid one, just seems a little simplistic.”
    Here I don’t agree. To me, this misses the basic difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives _expect_ policy makers to make stupid venal decisions. They take that into account. They expect these kind of initiatives to end up just where they do end up, a way of funneling money into the pockets of the politically connected, without any real progress being made in the ostensible goals of the initiative.
    That’s why conservatives tend to be very resistent to the kinds of massive worldwide action mitigation tends to require: we expect exactly the results that you are calling stupid. To me, that means that it is your suggestion that is simplistic: it doesn’t take into account what is actually going to happen.

  153. miker613,

    To me, that means that it is your suggestion that is simplistic: it doesn’t take into account what is actually going to happen.

    I’ve no doubt it’s simplistic. Personally, just because our policy makers make stupid venal decisions doesn’t justify them doing so. It simply means we don’t have a particularly good system. You also make conservatives sound much clever than might be justified.

    They expect these kind of initiatives to end up just where they do end up, a way of funneling money into the pockets of the politically connected, without any real progress being made in the ostensible goals of the initiative.

    Sure, but what maybe you failed to highlight is that there is a large overlap between those who expect our policy makers to make stupid venal decisions and those whose pockets get lined as a result. Is there, possibly, a reason why some don’t want the system to change?

  154. jsam says:

    Yes, I see why Genghis is a skeptic. Maybe he should take a course.

  155. miker613 says:

    “here is a large overlap between those who expect our policy makers to make stupid venal decisions and those whose pockets get lined as a result. Is there, possibly, a reason why some don’t want the system to change?” Yup. I can’t speak for Europe, but the American political system is currently more barnacles than ship. But no, I don’t see conservatives as being clever. I see liberals as being naive: they know all this too, everyone knows it. But they don’t draw the obvious corollary: if so, we should be very reluctant to ask the US Federal Government to take on anything very important.
    My son was actually in the Occupy Wall Street protests, for a few weeks. He found it frustrating that pretty much everyone there mistrusted Wall Street – but thought that the solution was for the government to control Wall Street. We all know that they are the same people. The regulators of Wall Street are former Wall Street employees who will work for Wall Street when they finish their tenure.
    Again, I only speak about the US where I live. Here there are two major political coalitions: Republicans, who are mostly either very rich or middle class, and Democrats, who are either mostly very rich or poor. Rich Democrats are as rich as rich Republicans. Many of the very richest neighborhoods in the United States are near my town (Baltimore) and are overwhelmingly Democrat. They are also overwhelmingly government-connected.
    My family back in California is all very liberal. I asked them back in 2010 about the ACA, the US health care law. “Did you expect it to turn out the way it did?” “Huh – no way!!! We were going to raise taxes and take care of everyone’s health care! How did we end up with this crazy patchwork monstrosity designed around huge insurance companies and Big Pharma?” How indeed?

  156. Sauda Mataka mentioned her children’s past lung and eye problems when they used kerosene lamps. As anoilman points out, they’re not alone. For obvious reasons, these health problems are similar to second-hand smoke exposure. In my first link to WUWT, harleyrider1978 spread misinformation about second-hand smoke. As I said at the time, I was impressed with Anthony Watts’s response.

    But the irony is just overwhelming.

    Anthony Watts and other contrarians are somehow capable of recognizing that second-hand smoke causes health problems when it affects them, and blissfully deny those same health problems while promoting fossil fuel use in developing countries. The cognitive dissonance seems to sail right over their heads. Over and over again.

    No evidence seems to get past contrarians’ Sauron-class Morton’s demons (H/T John Mashey). The tiny speck of my remaining faith in humanity kinda wants to buy these fossil fuel advocates the same solar light Sauda bought, and the cheap Tanzanian kerosene lamp she replaced along with enough kerosene at rural Tanzanian prices to equal the price of the solar light. This would be a fair comparison, right?

    That solar light sells for £22 (£22.08 using Google’s currency converter). If we assume Sauda’s old lamp was only £1, she could buy £21 of kerosene. Sauda bought £1.90 of kerosene each week, so this would last the fossil fuel advocate 11 weeks, or maybe 3 months if Sauda’s lamp was even cheaper and (probably) more dangerous.

    Then the fossil fuel advocate would get to compare the solar light to the kerosene lamp. For 3 months, he’d use the solar light in his home or cruising boat. Then for 3 months, he’d use the kerosene lamp to provide light at the same brightness for the same amount of time each night, in the same enclosed room/cabin.

    Then the fossil fuel advocate would have a choice. Buy more kerosene, or put the solar light back up? At this point, 6 months after the start of the experiment, both costs are equal. To be generous to the fossil fuel advocate, let’s not include the cost of scrubbing all the soot off his room or cabin. After all, people buy pre-ripped jeans. Likewise, soot just adds character.

    Unfortunately, I can’t actually recommend this experiment because of the health effects of second-hand smoke from the kerosene lamp. And the increased fire hazard of an open flame near a kerosene container. It would be unethical for me to actually perform this experiment, because I’d be temporarily inflicting the same health problems on the fossil fuel advocate that he’s cheering for people in the developing world.

    So it seems like nothing could ever stop fossil fuel advocates from using the poor as human shields, regardless of how nonsensical that argument becomes. No arguments will ever get past their Sauron-class Morton’s demons, and any experiment designed to show them first-hand the cost and health benefits of switching to renewables wouldn’t get past an ethics review committee.

  157. Eli Rabett says:

    Lots of transformers have been abandoned because they used PCBs for coolant. The Bahamas has a program to drain them and ship the transformers out of country for disposal. More likely than not.

    And yes, for remote locations solar is cheaper today than coal or diesel, no mater what nonsense Ghenghis wants to spew.

  158. Joshua says:

    miker –

    ==> “Here I don’t agree. To me, this misses the basic difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives _expect_ policy makers to make stupid venal decisions. They take that into account. They expect these kind of initiatives to end up just where they do end up, a way of funneling money into the pockets of the politically connected, without any real progress being made in the ostensible goals of the initiative.”

    What is your evidence that libz, as compared to conz, don’t expect policy makers to make stupid decisions? And I see conz defending the decisions of con policy-makers, that in the light of evidence that the decisions were stupid. quite frequently.

    I think that you’re making distinctions that don’t exist. I think that people of all ideological persuasions display identity-defensive behaviors, and I see no particular reason to think that those behaviors are found disproportionately in one group as compared to another.

    Do you have evidence for your claim?

    ==> “They expect these kind of initiatives to end up just where they do end up, a way of funneling money into the pockets of the politically connected, without any real progress being made in the ostensible goals of the initiative.”

    Certainly, we see libz expressing exactly that kind of expectation with all manner of policies implemented by con decision-makers. And we see conz having the exact opposite expectation with all manner of policies implemented by con decision-makers.

  159. miker613 says:

    Joshua, I’d say first that I’m referring to what most people call “small-government” conservatives. The Republican Party has plenty of other types. Both parties have lots of earmarkers and such.
    But my experience has generally been that this is the best description I have of the difference in philosophy between most liberals and those conservatives [aside from some side stuff about abortion or defense spending…]. They both agree that (1) the United States should run the Coast Guard, the Interstate Highway Commission, and the FAA (which makes it odd that liberals bring those as proof of something). They both agree that (2) the current US Federal Government has become controlled by politically connected special interests, and that the rest of us pay for them. They disagree on a couple of points: (a) liberals think that conservatives disagree with (1) and are happy about (2), probably because they never spoke to a conservative. and (b) liberals don’t draw the corollary that I mentioned above. With all this, they still think that large government initiatives are good ideas. Take the ACA: even though it was crafted entirely by Democrats without one Republican vote, even though it was designed around giant corporations, and even after we see that people are losing their insurance, their favored hospitals, their favored doctors, even when it looks entirely possible that it will kill more people than it helps – liberals are still happy with it because they have dreamed all their lives of achieving government health care. And look – Sweden has good health care, why can’t we? And this is “just a step on the way to single-payer health care”. It is outside their ken that maybe our political system is set up in such a way that it just isn’t going to work out the way they dream.

  160. Steve Bloom says:

    “But why are you sneering at others on economics?”

    Why indeed: Economics as a Science, Not. (Make sure to follow the last link.)

    Note the lack in economics of anything like the IPCC, and also that when when appealing to expertise in economics one is always forced to ask which economist one has in mind.

    Recently we had a big real-world test of economists operating in the policy arena. Most failed, a few have had the guts to admit their error, but many if not most of those whom “conservatives ” (remind me, what exactly is being conserved?) continue to place their trust in (e.g. the “letter writers” referenced in the link) continue to try to brazen things out.

    Erratum: I assume that rather than insulting Pekka by labeling him an economist you actually meant Ridley. But had you been paying attention, you would have known that Ridley is no economist, but rather just some guy with an opinion. Talking a good game is apparently enough to get one appointed head of a major financial institution. In science, not so much. The D-K, it burns.

  161. Eli Rabett says:

    “How did we end up with this crazy patchwork monstrosity designed around huge insurance companies and Big Pharma?” How indeed?”

    The effing Republicans dug in their heels and blocked the normal process of refining legislation. Even with that millions of Americans have health insurance this year who did not have it last including mikers relatives kids under 28 on their parents plans and those who would have maxed out or been tossed out because of pre-existing conditions

  162. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “Clouds are still one of the big uncertain factors. However, the current understanding is that cloud feedback is positive and somewhere between 0 and 1 Wm-2 K-1. This means that as we warm due to increased CO2 we will – globally at least – see extra warming due to changes in clouds. Whether this is reduced low level cloud cover (reduced albedo) or increased high-level cloud (reduction in outgoing long-wavelength flux), I don’t know. Presumably some combination of the two.”

    “Clouds are still one of the big uncertain factors.”

    Fair enough. Until I see some evidence or convincing arguments, that Global Warming reduces cloud coverage in the Tropics I will remain a skeptic.

  163. Richard Erskine says:

    Jsam – would you recommend a course for Genghis, requiring no assumptions as to prior scientific knowledge or skills … https://www.coursera.org/course/globalwarming

    Maybe Genghis will get great marks and go on to publish his measurements and a new model in the form of a seminal, peer reviewed paper, confounding all of today’s experts.

  164. miker613 says:

    Actually I meant Pekka. Don’t know anything about Ridley.
    And quoting Paul Krugman as proof for anything is just another example of picking a blog you like. He is an important economist, but there are plenty of others, just as important. Have you surveyed the field to see if his view is accepted, or you’re happy with the one you like? Your example would be much more convincing if you picked a conservative economist.

    Eli Rabbett is a good example of what I’m referring to. Of course it’s the conservatives’ fault, even though they had absolutely no input: not one of them voted for the ACA. It was entirely crafted between Democratic political forces, concessions made in all directions in order to get it passed because _Democrats_ were pulling in all directions. But it can’t be the system’s fault, it must be the Republicans – even though they had nothing to do with it.

    And all of Eli’s charts don’t show the flip side: people who lost the insurance they had. And people (like me) who are paying much more for the insurance they have and would pay still more on the exchanges. And people who can’t get a doctor on their new insurance. And hospitals that will close because they can’t deal with the regulations. And medical equipment that is 25% more expensive now, because the medical equipment manufacturers foolishly did not join in the political spoils. (And medical equipment that will never be developed and we’ll never even know it.) And so on. Eli picks on one variable that the ACA is specifically designed to augment, and ignores the enormous churn in everything else as a result – and therefore all is good.

  165. BBD says:

    Genghis

    Fair enough. Until I see some evidence or convincing arguments, that Global Warming reduces cloud coverage in the Tropics I will remain a skeptic.

    Cenozoic hyperthermals.

  166. BBD says:

    To be more correct, they are evidence that GHGs have a real and very substantial warming effect and that changes in cloud cover do not hinder the process.

  167. John Hartz says:

    Something for miker613 to ponder…

    Conservatives who reject the science of climate change aren’t necessarily reacting to the science, according to a new study from researchers at Duke University. They’re reacting to the fact that they don’t like proposed solutions more strongly identified with liberals.

    The paper, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, looks at the relationship between political ideology and rejection of scientific evidence. The researchers look most closely at climate change and other environmental challenges, an area where those who identify as liberals or Democrats mostly accept scientific conclusions while conservatives or Republicans largely reject them. The researchers conclude that on climate and other important societal issues, this denial is “rooted not in a fear of the general problem, per se, but rather in fear of the specific solutions associated with that problem.”

    The authors blame this denial of climate science on what they deem “solution aversion,” i.e., the proposed solutions are “more aversive and more threatening to individuals who hold an ideology that is incompatible with or even challenged by the solution.”

    Conservatives don’t hate climate change, they hate the proposed solutions: Study by Kate Shepard, The Huffington Post, Nov 7, 2014

  168. Meow says:

    The Iris Hypothesis and its variants seem never to die, despite the enormous difficulty of reconciling them with orbitally-driven ice-age cycles. Too, all the stuff about unforced variability to explain the last 150 years of warming, despite the fact that high levels of unforced variability imply high climate sensitivity.

    You’d almost think there was a theme here.

  169. John Hartz says:

    Something for miker613 to ponder…

    Conservatives who reject the science of climate change aren’t necessarily reacting to the science, according to a new study from researchers at Duke University. They’re reacting to the fact that they don’t like proposed solutions more strongly identified with liberals.

    The paper, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, looks at the relationship between political ideology and rejection of scientific evidence. The researchers look most closely at climate change and other environmental challenges, an area where those who identify as liberals or Democrats mostly accept scientific conclusions while conservatives or Republicans largely reject them. The researchers conclude that on climate and other important societal issues, this denial is “rooted not in a fear of the general problem, per se, but rather in fear of the specific solutions associated with that problem.”

    The authors blame this denial of climate science on what they deem “solution aversion,” i.e., the proposed solutions are “more aversive and more threatening to individuals who hold an ideology that is incompatible with or even challenged by the solution.”

    Conservatives don’t hate climate change, they hate the proposed solutions: Study by Kate Shepard, The Huffington Post, Nov 7, 2014

  170. Joshua says:

    miker –

    ==> “Take the ACA: even though it was crafted entirely by Democrats without one Republican vote, ”

    I’m glad you took at as an example.

    Are you familiar with the history of many of the basic underlying components of the ACA? How about one, specific component that so many conz and Repubz object to – the individual mandate?

    I’ll be back later to respond to the rest of what you wrote. No time right now.

  171. Steve Bloom says:

    No, miker, Pekka isn’t an economist either.

    Re Krugman, he simply points out that there was a big test of economists from 2009. Some passed, some failed, some never admitted they failed. It takes a special kind of dullness to insist that you’ll only pay attention to those in the latter category.

  172. Eli Rabett says:

    yeah, well not one Republican vote and after Scott Brown was elected, the only thing that could be done was for the House to approve the bill that had been passed in the Senate in toto. In other words, no conference, no scrubbing out problems in the bill and yeas the effing Republicans brought it on themselves.

    Stupid effing Republicans.

  173. Joshua says:

    miker –

    My student will be a few minutes late for our online meeting….I have a little time now:

    ==> “They disagree on a couple of points: (a) liberals think that conservatives disagree with (1) and are happy about (2), probably because they never spoke to a conservative. and (b) liberals don’t draw the corollary that I mentioned above. ”

    I don’t know what corollary you’re referring to.

    ==> “With all this, they still think that large government initiatives are good ideas. Take the ACA:”

    It isn’t that they think that the ACA is a good idea because it is a large government initiative. They think it is a good idea because they think that it is important to address the costs to all Americans of people w/o health insurance. They think that it is a example of prudent government action. A large proportion of conz thought that spending trillions to invade Iraq was an example of prudent government action. Many conz think that spending money to require voter IDs – to address a problem that no one has determined is significant – is an example of prudent government action. They think that authoritarian travel bans and forced quarantining are an example of prudent government action. Conz tend to think, relative to libz, that an enormous prison system is reflective of prudent government action.

    I’ve spent a lot of my life around lefties (although spending a considerable portion of my life in construction, I have spent a lot of time in environments where conz predominated), and I don’t think I’ve ever met any that have the beliefs about government that you assign to libz. Now I could conclude that’s because you don’t spend time around libz, but I don’t think that’s the reason why you describe libz as having views that I think few of them have. I think the reason for your (IMO) mistaken belief about what libz believe is that you are filtering libz beliefs through a distorting prism. You are identifying positions that many libz take on various issues, and reverse-engineering to derive a mistaken impression about their values – because it fits your ideological identifications.

    I would say that you are seriously mistaken about whether most lefties place a lot of faith in government as some abstracted entity. IMO, the reality is that libz, like conz, think that various government policies represent the least intrusive amount of government to achieve a desired outcome. The difference is that conz and libz disagree about which policies are best advised.

    I don’t want to get into a debate about healthcare policy with you, as I think there would be little benefit.

    I am still waiting for you to provide some evidence for your claims.

  174. anoilman says:

    Miker613.. Pekka is a bit of both economist and physicist;
    http://pirila.fi/energy/about/

    In my experience is looks at things from a bigger perspective than most people do. He can grock the technical issues as well as the big picture ramifications. He can be a bit too detail oriented for some.

  175. anoilman says:

    Genghis: So you’re right about about the sine wave. Excellent.

    The rest of my numbers are right then. And the camper generator family is broke sooner than the solar family.

    Thank you for your continued support that solar is better than fossil fuels.

  176. Genghis says:

    RIchard Erskine – “Maybe Genghis will get great marks and go on to publish his measurements and a new model in the form of a seminal, peer reviewed paper, confounding all of today’s experts.”

    You know you may be right! I had sadly thought I was just regurgitating basic meteorology 101 stuff that I learned in flight school, mixed with a little bit of physics (putting ice cubes in black and white cups) and geometry that I learned in grade school. Haven’t even had a chance to apply anything that I learned from that liberal arts college on the left coast if you know what I mean.

    Now that I think about it, compared to measuring tree rings from a single tree and splicing a temperature record on it or writing a computer program that shows an upward trend disguised with a random walk, I could write a wonderful paper on how energy flows from hot to cold! Maybe I could disguise it as the sum of all paths in increasing entropy in a chaotic system with attractors? Maybe mention it solves M theory and dress it up a little with colored pictures, do a data dump in uncommented assembly, guaranteed to run on my older 8 core Mac. Get some good buddies to pal review it over a few beers.

    But I need a catchy title and I am drawing a blank. How does “The answer is blowing in the Wind” sound?

  177. Genghis says:

    Anoilman – “The rest of my numbers are right then. And the camper generator family is broke sooner than the solar family.”

    You are claiming that initially spending $20k and $6000 every 5 years for the solar system is cheaper than initially spending $1000 and then $500 a year for gas until the generator wears out after say 5 years and replacing the generator and starting over? $42,000 is less than $14,000?

    Is that the common core math I have heard about?

  178. BBD says:

    No, it’s just your crap economic analysis which completely excludes the external costs of fossil fuels. Crap analyses cannot be used to argue for a particular course of action. There is also the suggestion that technology transfers from developed to developing economies can help with the capital costs. It being much, much cheaper than the full *externalised* cost of building out coal-fired infrastructure and the damage from the emissions it generates over its operating lifetime.

    Your ‘analysis’ also treats battery technology as static both in terms of cell type, cell life, cell efficiency and cell cost.

    It’s junk.

  179. As there has been some discussion on my relationship with economics, I can tell that I’m a physicist by education and still consider myself a physicist, although I haven’t worked full time as a physicist since 1980 (but I have had occasional tasks that have been mainly about physics). Starting from 1980 my main research area has been energy systems, which means that economic issues have been a central part of my work. During this period I have also read many books of economics and after returning to the university in 1999 lectured courses, where economics textbooks have provided a significant part of the course material (the rest being energy related in areas not covered properly by any textbook).

    Over many years I worked with models that integrate environmental and techno-economic considerations and on figuring out how to handle the externalities. Only little of that work has been published as most of the practical analyses were done for the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Finland (as it was called then). People who worked with me at that time continue to use similar models to support preparation of energy and climate policy.

  180. miker613 says:

    “[in reply to Eli Rabett’s excellent comment with charts on November 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm] Eli Rabbett is a good example of what I’m referring to. Of course it’s the conservatives’ fault, even though they had absolutely no input: not one of them voted for the ACA…………..it can’t be the system’s fault, it must be the Republicans – even though they had nothing to do with it.”

    As the brute historical facts show, they historically had *very much* to do with it. The ACA uses general ideas such as mandates and exchanges long promoted by conservatives. Conservatives recently have become against what they used to be for. The proof for all of what I just said is in the historical record, and this includes written documents and quotes from the conservatives themselves. See the citations and quotes I give further below by high-placed conservatives in politics, academia, and the media – they even flat out admit all this.

    “My family back in California is all very liberal. I asked them back in 2010 about the ACA, the US health care law. “Did you expect it to turn out the way it did?” “Huh – no way!!! We were going to raise taxes and take care of everyone’s health care! How did we end up with this crazy patchwork monstrosity designed around huge insurance companies and Big Pharma?” How indeed?”

    Because Obama was naive enough to do the “bipartisan” thing and go with the basic ideas that conservatives were in fact for, expecting that they would join him in implementing their former ideas, such as the individual mandates, the exchanges, and so on, the “market based” solutions:

    “Conservatives Sowed Idea of Health Care Mandate, Only to Spurn It Later”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/health/policy/health-care-mandate-was-first-backed-by-conservatives.html?_r=0

    Quotes:
    “The concept that people should be required to buy health coverage was fleshed out more than two decades ago by a number of conservative economists, embraced by scholars at conservative research groups, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, and championed, for a time, by Republicans in the Senate….”…….In 1993, in fighting ‘Hillarycare,’ virtually every conservative saw the mandate as a less dangerous future than what Hillary was trying to do,” Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, said at a debate in December, casting his past support of a mandate as an antidote to the health care overhaul proposed by Hillary Rodham Clinton during her husband’s administration.”………But not all of the early conservative proponents have changed their minds. Mark V. Pauly, a professor of health care management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who was a co-author of an influential 1991 paper that called for an individual mandate, said that he was discouraged to see so many Republicans shunning an idea they had once supported.”

    “25 Republicans Who Supported Obamacare Before Obama”
    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/republicans-supported-obamacare-gingrich-dole-individual-mandate

    “Original 1989 document where Heritage Foundation created Obamacare’s individual mandate”
    http://americablog.com/2013/10/original-1989-document-heritage-foundation-created-obamacares-individual-mandate.html

    “Obama says Heritage Foundation is source of health exchange idea”
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/apr/01/barack-obama/obama-says-heritage-foundation-source-health-excha/

    Quotes:
    “………..there’s little doubt that Heritage has been a consistent and eager promoter of the exchange idea, especially during the effort to design a new health care system for Massachusetts………On numerous occasions, Heritage scholars wrote approvingly of the exchange system in Massachusetts, known as the Connector……….In another paper, titled, “The Rationale for a Statewide Health Insurance Exchange,” and published on Oct. 5, 2006, Heritage scholar Robert Moffit wrote that “the best option is a health insurance market exchange”…………
    The other was Daniel McCarthy, senior editor of the American Conservative magazine who has written recently about the conservative origins of the president’s health care plan. “Every think tank on the left and right knows that its recommendations will undergo some deformation before they make their way into law, if they ever do,” McCarthy told PolitiFact. “Heritage might prefer state insurance exchanges with greater individual choice, including for workers already covered by their employers. But I don’t imagine Ed Feulner would be complaining at all if a Republican president or a Republican Congress had passed a plan that deviated from the Heritage blueprint to the same degree that Obama’s bill has. While it’s not true that ‘lots of’ the specifics in the Obama plan were dreamed up by Heritage, the overall approach is similar to policies Heritage has long championed, including the individual mandate as well as the insurance exchanges. This is only controversial because the wrong party happened to pass the law, and it’s poison for any conservative to be identified with it.”

  181. Eli Rabett says:

    Ghengis, passing wind would be closer to the truth in your case.

  182. Joshua says:

    K&A –

    Why did you do his work for him?

    I offered the question to mike about the history of ACA-related concepts as a kind of test of his unintentionally ironic enlisting the ACA to support his theory about the ;basic and fundamental ideological differences between conz and libz. As an open question, he would have been given an opportunity to openly approach the contradiction in his reasoning. At least there was a chance. Now he’ll be locked into defending his illogic.

    The outrage among conz w/r/t the individual mandate – where a concept that was once supported by many conz has not become a sign of tyranny – is one of my favorite examples of motivated reasoning. And, of course, who could ever forget “Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare.”

    Another of my favorites is how both sides of SCOTUS reversed long-standing ideological stances on states’ rights in Bush v. Gore. My newest favorite is “limited government” conz who are supporting the decision-making of politicians who, contra advice of public health experts, want to implement authoritarian laws that restrict the freedoms of non-symptomatic healthcare workers by quarantining them, and want to enact travel bans despite no evidence, historical or otherwise, that they would be effective and despite reasonable speculation that they would be, in fact, counterproductive.

  183. Joshua says:

    er….”…has now become a sign of tyranny…”

  184. Genghis says:

    It is all about power Joshua. All those issues you are talking about, individual mandates, ACA, Medicare, limited government, quarantines, and I will toss in racism, Global Warming, war, etc. are just circus entertainment for the masses and excuses for our rulers to rule. Warren Buffet is laughing all the way to the bank, he finally got what he has been working on for so long. It is now illegal not to buy health insurance. He is quite upfront about it, just as he loved writing the 2 Billion dollar check for the World Trade centers, got the money back in 6 months from the new Terrorist insurance, it is all gravy from here for him.

    What is so funny about the whole healthcare scam is that it is the failure of the government monopoly (healthcare) to provide reasonably cheap care that caused the problem in the first place.

    The solution to the problem is to simply eliminate the Government Monopoly.

    For example if I have an infection I should be able to walk into a pharmacy, get the drugs I need, pay $1.50 for them and cure the disease. Or for something more serious like cancer treatments or a Hospital stay, if the Government mandated monopoly was eliminated the cost would be a tenth of what it is now. Everyone would be able to afford healthcare.

    But except for us schmucks, no one wants that. Doctors, Insurance companies, Medicare bureaucracies, Politicians, etc. would lose money and power. Can’t have that can we?

  185. BBD says:

    and I will toss in racism, Global Warming, war, etc. are just circus entertainment for the masses and excuses for our rulers to rule.

    Here we stray into outright lunacy.

  186. Genghis,
    I’ve got to say that your last comment was rather straying into a combination of libertarian fantasy world and conspiracy ideation.

  187. anoilman says:

    Genghis: “Is that the common core math I have heard about?”

    Not sure… But I’m pretty sure you made some remedial mistakes though. 🙂

    I was aiming for longer amortization for solar since the panels last a long time, and no one amortizes its cost over 5 years. 10-15 years is the norm.

    First you said, 2 generators. At $1000 each, that is $2000. Next… Each generator uses 1 gallon a for 9 hours producing 500W. (Actually its 1.1, but you’ll give you the 10% for free.) Each gallon costs $3.80, higher than the US, but not the highest. So $500 only gets you 131 days with one generator at 500W. Maybe you think they only get 150W a generator? You have two so they are always generating.

    So… 500W per generator for 9 hours costs $1387 a year. 2 generators or 1 kw, costs $2774 per year. That’s 18 hours at 500W, or 9 at 1kw.

    Over 13 years, your generators cost $36062 for fuel alone. That is $38k total.

    Solar typically provides 5.5kw peak, or 1/5 its peak on bad days. Cost … by your numbers is 20K and needs batteries every 5 years for $6k… total cost at 13 years is $32k.

    I’m not sure your batter numbers are right… Look at these babies… 10 year warranty!
    http://www.batterystuff.com/batteries/pv-solar/6-cs-25ps.html
    Neat… you get like 15kWh of power out of 3 those batteries for $6k for 10 years. Wow.

  188. anoilman says:

    Genghis: Yeah… wow… What BBD and Anders said… Did you use new math to calculate that too?

    I’m in Canada, but my parents founded and operated a private hospital in the US. The stories they have about the crap in the US are awful, they blame your insurance providers.

    I’m not sure Obamacare is a nice thing either though. Its a tax on those with health care.

    There’s no disease cure drug that is cheap. Government subsidy of research is critical to getting new drugs. Private Research is detrimental. (Let me walk you though an IP discussion some time. No one will lift a finger if they don’t get paid a horrific amount, or they get ownership of the results.)

    Anyways, I love my Canadian Health care ‘scam’. I pay less than an American, and live longer.

  189. John Hartz says:

    Genghis: Do you support the elmination of all public subsidies to the fossil fuel industry?

    For background, see:

    G20 states spend $88bn in fossil fuel exploration subsidies: report by Parvez Jabri, AFP/Business Recorder, Nov 11, 2014

  190. anoilman says:

    Wow… Check out the warranty on these panels, and they retail at $1 a watt;
    http://www.grapesolar.com/specs-390w-mono-gs-s-390-ts.html

    10 years for product, but 25 years for 80% of original capacity. Wow.

  191. Kevin O'Neill says:

    Genghis writes:”What is so funny about the whole healthcare scam is that it is the failure of the government monopoly (healthcare) to provide reasonably cheap care that caused the problem in the first place.”

    And with that the only legitimate response is, “What planet do you come from?”

    The government monopoly on healthcare? Yet Warren Buffet is laughing all the way to the bank?

    The government has not now nor has it ever had a monopoly or anything even remotely close to a monopoly on healthcare in the USA. Except for the VA, which serves a tiny fraction of the population, the government is at most an insurer – not a provider.

    Genghis, you’ve obviously drunk so much of the Randian kool-aid that up is down, black is white, and you think that providing health insurance to tens of millions who could not otherwise afford it is somehow a step backwards. All we need to complete the total immersion in cognitive dissonance is for you to pronounce yourself a Christian too.

  192. entropicman says:

    For a group with such a strong Christian, and often creationist, ethic, the American Right are very Darwinian. If you are rich you get treatment. If you are poor you die.

  193. anoilman says:

    Kevin O’Neill: I think his memes finally collapsed in on themselves.

    Further evidence that ‘Double Think’ is not a sustainable resource.

    Or… he was drinking and typing.

  194. Joshua says:

    ==> “Genghis,
    I’ve got to say that your last comment was rather straying into a combination of libertarian fantasy world and conspiracy ideation.”

    You noticed that too. 🙂

    It’s quite interesting just how lightly you need to scratch the surface of most “skeptics” to find political ideologues.

    ‘Prolly just coincidence, of course! 🙂

  195. Mal Adapted says:

    John Hartz:

    Genghis: Do you support the elmination of all public subsidies to the fossil fuel industry?

    For background, see:

    G20 states spend $88bn in fossil fuel exploration subsidies: report by Parvez Jabri, AFP/Business Recorder, Nov 11, 2014

    How about just in the U.S.?

    In the United States, credible estimates of annual fossil fuel subsidies range from $10 billion to $52 billion annually yet these don’t even include costs borne by taxpayers related to the climate, local environmental, and health impacts of the fossil fuel industry.

    Genghis, would you rather pay the full cost of your fossil fuel consumption indirectly through your taxes, your health and your climate, or directly in the price you pay for the fuel? TANSTAAFL, you know ;^).

  196. anoilman says:

    Check out his battery. $500 per kWh in production safe, 8 year life span, and they just started. It’ll be half price by 2020 without any technological improvements.
    https://gigaom.com/2014/07/20/behind-the-scenes-of-aquion-energys-battery-factory-the-future-of-solar-storage/

    What an amazing American company.

  197. anoilman says:

    Check out Ambri’s data… Negligible fade rate;
    http://www.ambri.com/storage/documents/Ambri%20Update%20mid-2014.pdf

    That puts its life span some 4 times longer than Lithium, and it doesn’t seem to be suffering from many of its weaknesses.

  198. Genghis says:

    anoilman,

    Ambri batteries looks very interesting, although they are very heavy, not very energy dense and have low charge and discharge rates. Their cycle times and potentially low cost make them look like a good option for fixed based operations. If they can bring their costs down by more than half, they might have a game changer on their hands. It is old tech, but they seemed to have figured out how to make them reliably and cheaply.

    It would change the Solar – Oil equation dramatically.

    If they could make them a lot lighter and more energy dense I would buy them.

  199. Genghis says:

    ATTP – “I’ve got to say that your last comment was rather straying into a combination of libertarian fantasy world and conspiracy ideation.”

    Yeah I know I sound like a nutter, here anyway. On Zero Hedge I am the epitome of rationality. I am a zero when it comes to politics. I wonder if there is a Atheist analogy, and anarchist is not right either. Court Jester maybe.

    The thing though is that my views have been honed by the crucible of investing. I have been taught the lesson more times than I like, that my opinion means nothing, the market will do what the market will do.

    Interestingly though, I also learned that the Market, Politics, Government, etc. shout to the world by their actions what they want and intend to do. Their words are always lies but their actions are always the truth. They try hard to disguise their actions.

    Right now there is a huge short squeeze on the dollar by the Fed, and everyone knows that you can’t fight the Fed, but still they do. Free money anyone?

  200. John Hartz says:

    As documented in the following article, the Koch brothers and their super-rich cronies pretty much in control of governance in America.

    As humorist Andy Borowitz predicted, billionaires retained control of the U.S. government.

    But the result is no joke. These folks are not your run-of-the-mill billionaires, they are billionaires advancing a business model “that has declared war on life,” suggests author Naomi Klein.

    With seven new seats in the U.S. Senate and 12 in the House, with four new Republican governors and a significant number of wins in state houses across the country, the Kochs are on a roll.

    “The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House,” Tim Dickinson recently wrote in Rolling Stone.

    But every win for the billionaire industrialists is a setback for people and the planet. That is because their fortune and their agenda is fueled by refineries, pipelines, and petcoke. “Burn, baby, burn” isn’t a cute slogan for David and Charles — it’s their reason for being.

    As the planet cooks at an accelerating rate, the stakes have never been higher.

    Koch Party Wins Big, Planet in Peril by Mary Bottari, PR Watch, Nov 10, 2014

  201. John Mashey says:

    Having grown up near Pittsburgh, PA I’m please to see the CMU spinoff anoilman mentioned.

    Batteries are hard, and I don’t know which technologies and which companies are going to succeed, but there has been a surge of smart people trying different methods, and there are clear market niches (big ones) for different applications. The need for batteries grows as the % of intermittent power grows, and is helped by smarter grids. Costs are going to come down, as they did for computers and PV solar, although without much of the huge boost the former got from decades of Moore’s Law.

    A whole lot of people simply do *not* understand costs curves around technology / volume / manufacturing or the effects induced by enabling technology combinations. A lot of pundits wouldn’t last very long as business planners in Silicon Valley.

  202. anoilman says:

    John, I’m eying that Ambri fade curve. If you get 10-20 year batteries that dramatically increases its amortization time, and therefore reduces its cost. That changes everything.

    But that Pittsburgh company looks like it will displace lead acid in most fixed applications if they could just get their production numbers up. With its increased endurance, near term, we could be staring down .5 to .25 price for batteries.

    Both batteries run in less than ideal conditions without any degradation, which is also a big plus.

  203. Andrew Dodds says:

    John Mashey –

    Yes, there’s a broad brush point here as well..

    If your solution is priced by manufacturing costs, then there is almost no lower limit to the price. Software is the ultimate expression of this, but for a lot of technological kit this is true, and it’s the reason why I can buy a few billion transistors with my spare change.

    But if your solution is priced by raw materials, or even worse continuous raw material inputs, then these impose a price floor that you can’t do anything about. If your solution has to have a tonne of aluminium – then it can’t cost less than the price of a tonne of aluminium, and if the price of aluminium doubles so does your cost.

    And of course this applies to the solar+battery vs. Diesel generator case. Neither have huge raw-material costs, but the final cost of the Diesel generator is tied to the cost of diesel, no matter how good and cheap the technology gets for the generator. Whereas the final cost of a solar+battery solution can shrink to near-zero with improved technology.

  204. BBD says:

    Andrew

    Whereas the final cost of a solar+battery solution can shrink to near-zero with improved technology.

    Please be careful with this. Panel manufacture requires inputs of aluminium and rare earth metals. There are likely hard limits to manufacturing cost despite economies of scale.

    *Nevertheless* it may be expected that pricing will be sensitive to future economies of scale not yet engaged at current consumption levels.

  205. Ambri links on its web page to this journal article on liquid metal batteries, which seems, however, to be behind the paywall without an university account.

    Liquid metal batteries have by their nature an almost unlimited lifetime, but they are not without their problems. From the article we can read:

    Despite these advantages, liquid metal batteries possess some disadvantages, which make them unsuitable for use in portable applications. These include elevated operating temperatures
    (generally >200°C), low theoretical specific energy density (typically <200 Wh kg−1), comparatively low equilibrium cell voltages (typically <1.0 V), highly corrosive active cell components, and high self-discharge rates for some chemistries due to metallic solubility of the electrode species in the molten salt electrolyte. Moreover, three liquid layers make battery operation sensitive to motion and potentially hazardous should the liquid electrodes touch, leading to a short-circuited cell and rapid heat generation.

    We have seen over the years press releases and company material on very many solutions that are supposed to produce finally batteries that have all the required properties for large scale application in energy systems. The two technologies referred to in the above comments have the good common property that they are not dependent on materials of limited availability, but I’ll wait until they have shown their real commercial potential, before I get really exited.

  206. BBD says:

    Some context for Pekka’s remarks.

  207. John Mashey says:

    BBD
    “Please be careful with this. Panel manufacture requires inputs of aluminium and rare earth metals. There are likely hard limits to manufacturing cost despite economies of scale.”

    Yes to the second part, hard limits, on any given combination. These things (mostly) don’t have Moore’s Law to help. But nowhere is the first part (Please be careful with this. Panel manufacture requires inputs of aluminium and rare earth metals. There are likely hard limits to manufacturing cost despite economies of scale.

    aluminum and rare earths) chiseled in stone.

    I don’t know which approaches are going to work, but there is a frenzy of activity at places like Stanford, Berkeley, Caltech, MIT , etc going after exactly those issues. I see lots of slides of the form: “We cannot rely on rare earths for the scale we want, so we are trying X.” People are trying to work through the issues with perovskites. People are experimenting with nano structuring of abundant materials. People are working to reduce BoS costs. At least in US , permitting and installation are more expensive than need be, and people are working on that.

  208. Another question of availability of raw materials concerns lithium. Various analyses have presented conflicting conclusions on the sufficiency of lithium for a full scale transformation to electric vehicles (not hybrids). While many materials can be used in stationary applications, lithium is uniquely suited for portable devices and electric vehicles.

    The Wikipedia article on lithium gives some references and presents their basic conclusions. I searched for material on the availability of lithium a few years ag0. What I found was similar to what Wikipedia tells.

  209. Steve Bloom says:

    I assume everyone has noticed that “What about China?” has now been reduced to “What about India?” Note that the Chinese commitment is to 2030 or sooner, presumably allowing for advances in technology. Hopefully this move will encourage the Germans toward a stronger stance on coal use reduction in a few weeks.

    Re the Moore’s Law discussion, note that CitiBank invoked it last spring in making this claim: “Our outlook is for module costs to decline approximately 11% per year over the next five years driven primarily by lower cost of production.” (This is by no means a halving in two years and in any case is for overall cost, including installation, rather than cell efficiency, but even so is a similar effect.) I couldn’t find the original report, so have no idea as to the basis for this calculation.

    Also, I just saw this in a HuffPo article:

    Ikea is test marketing residential solar systems in Europe that cost about $11,000 with a payback of 3-5 years.

    Has anyone here living in Europe seen anything relating to this?

  210. Steve,
    Yes, I wondered what would happen to the But China argument, but you’re right, it will become But India.

  211. John Mashey says:

    See Moore’s Law.
    That doesn’t last forever, but it is *not* the same effect as normal volume/cost manufacturing curves.
    It does *not* apply to making solar cells, although it can help with some of the related electronics, and the manufacturing processes may contribute to the ability to do nanostructured materials

    See again R2-D2 for a model that goes from basic Research to deployment at scale.
    Some things are not possible, like 110% efficient solar panels.
    Some things have an asymptotic cost limit, no matter how hard anyone works and how many are made.

    But in the domain of normal products, if X needs elements A, B, C, D … and A, B, C get built for other reasons, and D exists but costs too much, or D doesn’t exist pervasively enough, a great deal of investment will converge on D.
    About 20 years ago, SGI introduced a wonderful flat panel display, the 1600SW, 1600×1024 was a big LCD at that time.. They cost $2500-$3000 and our high-end users loved them. (I loved them also, we had three of them at home. One even gets used occasionally.)
    These days, the extra 1920×1080 displays I use cost ~$150 or less at Fry’s.
    That simply would not have happened without the existence of a much larger market than our leading-edge users.

    Smartphones require a large set of technologies and infrastructure, but the huge market induces people to keep making improvements. Nobody would bother if the market were small.

    Of course, if one were take energy and imagine a computer equivalent, it would be that the vacuum tube makers of the world did everything possible to kill off transistors before they got much of the market, in which case, a smartphone wouldn’t fit in a trailer truck.

  212. Andrew Dodds says:

    SB –

    Well, a £5000, 4kW system in the UK would return about £600 a year in FiTs, £100 a year in export tariff and perhaps £300 a year in direct bill savings, if you were careful about timing appliances. So it might just squeeze in to 5 years with generous estimates.

    We’re on course for a 6.5 year payback of our 2011-vintage system.

  213. anoilman says:

    Genghis: All false statements about Ambri’s batteries. All false. If you have issues with charge and discharge rates, you run them in parallel. (Like you do with your super expensive to run generators bud!) Ambri’s batteries are composed of piles of separate cells. Perhaps now you understand why?

    Pekka: I was already aware of most those issues. 200C is a fun temperature to work with. (I do it all the time with commercial parts.) But it does give you pause for thought about using them in earthquake zones. I’d also wonder how it would handle a ‘melt down’. I mean, how safely could you stack containers of these things? Fuses are not enough with liquid metal bubbling away. I suspect that these questions are pretty central to why they are slowly getting this to market.

    I’d be curious to know about the self discharge rates. For utilities and renewables it probably comes out in the wash. For utilities I think cycle count will be king.

    I don’t think weight is that much of a concern, particularly for utilities which is their intended target.

    BBD: John: Donald Sodaway says he chose the materials he did because they were cheap and plentiful.

  214. anoilman says:

    Andrew Dodds: So… after 5 years… you are making money? i.e. Cash in hand? Maybe you could buy batteries and use less and grid power a night?

  215. AOM,
    Based on those two links I went to the web pages of those two companies and searched for more specific information about the actual solutions. Both referred to journal articles as the source of more information. The information that I could find indicated that both companies were using approaches that are not fundamentally new, but that both seem to believe that they have made some significant progress.

    As I wrote, I have seen very similar situations really often before. The information given has offered as much promise for commercial success, but nothing has finally come out. The real successes may also have looked similar at an early stage, thus I have no evidence that these projects will not turn out to succeed big, but based on that evidence only that they present, the likelihood is not great. Lets hope that this time is different.

  216. Steve Bloom says:

    I notice that the early response of the Republican Congressional leadership to the US-China deal is to claim that the Chinese have to do “nothing” until 2030. So apparently the talking point is to be that the US shouldn’t have to do anything unless China does the same at the same time in terms of overall emissions. We’ll see how that goes over.

    Of course this debate will be superseded by the 2015 global agreement. I expect that secret efforts by the US and China are already underway to get not just India but Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa on board in advance of that. The EU and Japan shouldn’t be an issue so long as Germany continues its leading role. Russia is probably a write-off at least in substance, but over time a loss of fossil fuel exports will effectively reduce their footprint.

    (Australia is small enough to ignore for these purposes, but is Tony Abbott having a very bad day over this?)

    But while the particular talking point may have to change next year, I expect the Republicans will find something to object to in the forthcoming deal.

  217. Steve Bloom says:

    Pekka, you could have and I’m confident did express similar misgivings about PV costs. Certainly many others did based on similar reasoning. As you know, these two companies are really just the tip of the battery iceberg, with many more such in the R+D pipeline. So overall I think the PV precedent should give us great confidence, albeit not in any particular new battery type.

  218. anoilman says:

    Pekka: When I first checked, some Europeans had been working on Liquid metal batteries for a while. Much longer than Ambri. They had issues with degradation of the cathodes (and/or anodes) which resulted in rather spectacular explosions. Early Ambri PR talked about overcoming this.

    Its still too early to tell if they will be successful, and you can’t trust what company says. Wait till the test sites and customers have some evidence.

  219. John Mashey says:

    Like I ‘ve said, everybody knows batteries are hard and we’re still in the “let a thousand flowers” bloom stage of this round of battery improvements.
    People are trying everything within current tech and some that aren’t quite, but might be sometime … Yet another instance of normal R&D funnel.

  220. This seems to be a case, where everyone, who has written here on battery development has quite similar views, but it took several comments, before that became clear.

  221. Andrew Dodds says:

    AOM – yes. Domestic batteries would be a bit of a luxury, though.

  222. anoilman says:

    Andrew, interestingly the power utilities are in a bit of a bind over solar as well. If they don’t play, they will be relegated to the trash heap of history. But on the other hand we have some odd years coming up without batteries. Coal makes for an excellent battery and it’s already in place…
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/11/03/utilities-couldn-t-kill-distributed-solar-so-now-they-re-co-opting-business-model

    Steve, you still haven’t emailed me… Pekka is just a pessimist (economist?). While I’m an optimist (geek?), and John Mashey doesn’t care (venture capitalist?). He just wants to see what pops out at the end of the pipe. You’re just some scientist (elitist?).

  223. Eli Rabett says:

    No, just read too many battery grant proposals. A whole sub-genre.

  224. Steve Bloom says:

    No scientist moi, aom, although I do aspire to scienciness.

    Re that email, expect it this weekend. I was waiting to see the outcome of the California elections with regard to fracking. The only local measure in a county with significant o+g, Santa Barbara, got buried in money. Jerry and the legislature will clearly not be standing in the way, so that leaves a statewide measure in November 2016 as the only option. I think I have an idea of the right general direction to go with the text, but I need to have the technical aspects clear before anything can go public. FYI Tom Steyer made a little noise some months back about going the same route, which makes things more interesting.

  225. John Mashey says:

    anoilman: ?
    Of course I care: better batteries and PV solve many problems. I’m just an old Bell Labs-trained R&D manager, one of whose explicit jobs (for 2 Directors, one of whom was later CTO and the other President) was to keep an eye on computing research for things that might be getting close enough to something we could really use. Almost every job I’ve had in Silicon Valley has required technology assessments: is this ready now? will these folks actually make it work? will it work at the scale we need? Should we wait for the next iteration? Which tech do we bet on? etc, etc.

    Energy researchers are pretty thick on the ground around here, in a way that simply was not true 20 years ago. I’ve been through numerous iterations of watching the technology phase where there are clear problems to solve, and lots of smart people are trying *everything.*

    There is no problem in simultaneously:
    a) recognizing the serious challenges, i.e., no magic Moore’s Law
    b) not being able to pick the winners that will really work at scale
    c) while remaining quite confidence that PV and batteries will improve significantly.

    I’m actually worried more that good tech will get stifled by getting starved for investment in the crucial scale-up phases.

  226. Andrew Dodds says:

    To add to the above..

    At my latitude, the idea of actually going off-grid with a PV-Battery setup is not practical, pretty much regardless of battery technology. Seasonal storage just isn’t viable. It does worry me a bit that this does not seem to be fully understood among the more enthusiastic renewables proponents.

    Different matter entirely near the equator where you may only have to store power on a 24-hour basis, which also means you can fairly easily shift demand to the daytime.

  227. John Mashey says:

    Anybody serious knows that good energy mixes:
    A) Are strongly dependent on local conditions.
    Arizona and British Columbia could both run on renewable energies, but a very different mix.
    B) Then there are path dependencies (QWERTY), where you would do some things differently if starting from scratch

    C) the numbers always matter.
    Everybody should read David MacKay’s Sustainable energy : without the hot air – at least the website.

  228. anoilman says:

    John… Steve… Pekka… take me with a grain of salt, and maybe a shot of Tequilla. (John… I know you care.) I was trying to get at the fact people have different perspectives, and that does necessarily translate to motivated reasoning.

    Steve, maybe you should just say hi. I may not be the man you’re looking for. Side note, I waded into a forum about California Fracking, (I was nailing the industry trolls) and with the name, AnOilMan, I got dog piled by the rabid public. I did earn a lot of sympathy up votes.

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